Race Report: Stafford Lake

Today we were bestowed with another glorious Sunday in the Bay Area, which meant another fine opportunity to sweat and toil in the afternoon sun had arrived. Superpro Racing, the team led by local cyclocross impresario Murphy Mack, organized today’s scenic race at Stafford Lake. This park is located in the picturesque locale of Novato, a small town in Marin. You’d be hard-pressed to find a lovelier landscape to host a sufferfest.

My reverie with the beautiful surroundings was brought to a halt when all of us women were summoned to the start for our 1 o’clock race. As soon as our emcee Paule Bates signaled for us to go, everything faded out of view except for the wheel in front of me.

I had a good start and was powering away on the flat gravel section that led to a set of wooden stairs. Oh, the stairs — saturated with slick mud, it could turn into an instant slip-and-slide if you weren’t careful. I managed to not leave my lungs behind at the top and hopped back into the scrum quickly. But there was a traffic jam at the first canyon-like whoop-de-doo and a woman yard saled right in front of me. With nowhere to go, I caught her rear wheel then fell sideways. My left pedal jammed right into the center of my calf muscle, which immediately began to cramp up into a charlie horse. Swelling and pain soon followed, but I continued on the course with my newly acquired tattoo bruises imprinted onto my skin.

I continued to slog away, and of course, there were some patented Murphy Mack specials near the start/finish: the Barrier of Unreasonable Height (they call it the more quaint-sounding ‘Belgian Farm Wall‘) and the Cesspool of Filth (famous from last year’s SSCXWC). The BUH made its debut at last year’s race and was apparently more accommodating to those of us of shorter stature — but it was still quite difficult for us vertically-challenged folk. (Afterwards, Kelly Chang joked that we Asian NorCal Cycling Superstars should have stood on top of it and held a protest since all of us — except for Yukie — had to scale its unforgivingly tall hay bales.)

Traversing the infamous Cesspool of Filth. Photo by Amos Scattergood.

Despite the heat, the Cesspool of Filth was not refreshing in the slightest (although it did make for an epic photography spot). Riding with a wet chamois pretty much feels like you’re wearing a wet diaper the entire time. Plus I was deathly afraid of tripping and knocking all of my teeth out on the pavement after escaping its dirty confines. (This, fortunately, did not happen.) But as it hasn’t been raining much this time of year, you have to love race organizers who conjure up ways to create their own messy fun.

I should mention that this was the first race the entire Vive Le Tarte team showed up to compete; Tim, Heath and Nick had raced earlier. And this marked the debut for all of the lady Vive le “Tartlets” as category B women, with Laura and Erin joining our ranks. In the end, after 4 laps, Bridget came in 8th, Laura was 10th, I was 13th and Erin placed 16th. Ryan also won 3rd in the Men’s SS B category. Hurray, team!