The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo

The Girl With The Cowbell Tattoo, created by Tim Shay.

by Molly Hurford

‘Twas the night before Rochester and all through the house
All the creatures were stirring, packing up to get out.
The bikes were racked on the cars at the ready,
Our bike shoes were packed, our wheels trued and steady.”
(You get the idea, anyway. I’m psyched!)

A couple of weeks ago, I said it was the final countdown. I lied. This truly is the final countdown, with under two weeks until the first UCI race of the season in Rochester, New York. It’s a pretty awesome course, though last year I was so bogged down with mud from the race in Vermont the day before that I’m pretty sure my bike had an extra pound or two of weight — a pound of mud and a pound of rust from dipping the bike in the lake at Nor’Easter to clean it — and I was seeing spots the entire race. This year, though, I’ve made a promise to myself and to my framebuilder in a style similar to marriage vows (but arguably more serious since, hey, this is about bikes) to love, honor, cherish and protect my new NFG Cycles bike.

Even if I hadn’t made that promise, I have a couple of reasons I’ll be able to keep it. First and foremost, it almost feels like getting a new pet (I’d say baby, but that would be a bit extreme). It’s so tiny! A steel frame weighing in at a mere three pounds is just begging to be protected, especially when the color is as awesome as it is (lime green with purple lettering). It feels almost fragile, like I need to nurture it. In the past, my bikes have been bigger, and while I’ve loved them all, they haven’t inspired the loyalty that this one has inspired in me. It was built for me! With my long forearms and tiny frame in mind! It was handcrafted with my name on it! How could you not want that to stay perfect?

And then, there’s the shaming process: in order to make sure my mechanical skills don’t embarrass me too much this season, I decided to take matters into my own hands. On our ladies night rides, we often bemoan our lack of mechanical skills, and I realized that what we needed was just a good teacher. So, I begged/bribed pro racer and mechanic Justin Lindine to come over and show us some basic repairs/maintenance advice. Stay tuned for some of his best tips; tips that I plan to make sure that I use the advice to my advantage this season.

Lastly, when choosing the components for my bike, Niall gave me three choices: “the most rad, the kind of rad, or the not so rad.” What answer can you give to that, other than “the most rad?” All of my other bikes have had components scavenged from other bikes and friends (with the exception of my lovely wheels that represented my first paycheck from this very magazine!), so this is all new for me, i.e. components that not only work well, but were chosen specifically for the bike, for its geometry. Pretty sweet, right? That is some cabling that I’d like to protect. I also have a fabulous new saddle that SDG Components offered to me to try out. I was leery at first, because I generally shy away from women-specific saddles:  they’re always a little bulkier than I prefer, but I was desperate. It survived the 64 miles of D2R2 (review forthcoming!) and some remount and dismount practice, so I have high hopes for it.

“Yes, but what does this bike look like?” I’m sure plenty of you are wondering. Well, calm down.

It's not done yet in this, and it's set up from D2R2, but here's the idea. Also, check out the book tent!

It's not done yet in this shot, and it's set up for touring from D2R2, but you get the idea. Also, check out the book tent!

Signing my first few books!

Signing my first few books!

You might notice the slightly obvious book tent in the background. That’s because my book, Mud, Snow and Cyclocross, is finally out and available! We had our first weekend of signings during the D2R2 ride and Adam Myerson’s Cycle-Smart Cyclocross Camp, and other than the occasional moment of me wondering why the heck someone wanted me to write in their book, it went amazingly well. People have been fabulous about it, and one father bought a copy for his ten year old daughter and told me he was glad she had such strong women role models in our sport. That was when I lost it and actually teared up. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was six years old, and to be able to write about my favorite thing in the world and to now to feel like I’m really helping the sport grow is just enormous. Andr the community around me is simply unparalleled. Someone told me my book reads like a love letter to cyclocross, and they are completely, completely correct.

I’m really excited about what’s to come: a party at the Ride Studio Cafe in Boston on September 7th, and then CrossVegas, in addition to the other races that I’ll be at. And I’ll even be helping with a clinic and a ride before a race in Ohio at the end of September, which I could not be more excited for.

Truly, this season can’t get any better, and it hasn’t even started. Next time I write this column, it’ll be after the first race of the season, and I guarantee I’ll have to reign in my desire to use exclamation points in every sentence. See you at the races!

If you want to read more about my training, racing, and editing exploits, check out mollyhurford.com.