Monday, November 16, 2009

Fallen Hero

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Heroes are hard to come by these days. Especially in cycling. I have never been a big hero worshiper. Sure I still love the San Francisco 49ers to this day but its as much a love affair with the red and gold as it is with a certain time in my life. I moved to San Francisco just as the 49er dynasty was waning. Montana had moved on and Steve Young replaced him. The old school fans hated Steve Young. He was the antithesis of Montana. Montana was cool and sooo gifted. He made it look sooo easy. Steve had to battle for every win. He sacrificed his body like no quarterback did before and certainly no quarterback has done since to try and bring his team glory. I doubt he won over the hearts and minds of every die-hard niner fan but if he didn't he came damn close.

I have one hero in cycling. And she is pictured above face down in the dirt. Molly Cameron is a pro cross racer, bicycle industry icon (veloshop/portland bicycle studio/Vanilla team) and all around amazing person. What is incredible about our modern era is how the internet has made connectivity and social networking so seamless. How can a old and slow masters racer even know who Molly Cameron is? The internet. Incredible. When I was first getting back into cross after a move back to the east coast Molly's blog was one of three that I combed over with almost fanatical fervor. She had so much solid cross content updated constantly it became a text book for new school cross. I learned so much from her and still do. Up until that point the only thing I had for a reference was a tattered first edition of Simon Burney's book and some advice I got from pinneaple Bob some ten years ago. 

Molly built my first set of cross tubulars which came ready to race with FMB tires glued up and some bon bons from France. Those wheels still are solid and I race the hell out of them each season. Back then FMB was just an underground brand. Molly pretty much has singlehandedly helped to put FMB on the map in the U.S. The point of all this is I know Molly but I don't really know Molly if you know what I mean. I have never met her in person and my contact is really either through email or some quick phone calls where I am more often than not in a panic about my need for new tubulars or some quick cross crisis. 

Every time I call in a panic, she takes my call, calms me down, and takes amazing care of me. I owe her big time. What's incredible about Molly Cameron the pro racer is the commitment she puts into the sport. She has traveled and raced in europe at great personal expense. She has battled. She has fought when there was zero chance of victory in World Cups. The victories were moral and the trials by fire in europe forged her into a tough as nails cross racer. This year it all came together as she focused her efforts domestically. She was leading the Cross Crusade series by one point going into the last race. She battled the entire race and it came down to one runnup. She was flying and ready to fight for the sprint to the line. Then she slipped and fell hard at the top. Crushing.

Molly was sooo close to winning the overall Cross Crusade series and is obviously and understandbly upset that she lost it in such dramatic fashion. But by losing and battling so hard through so much and being right there for the victory she is even more of a hero to me now by losing than she could ever be by winning. This is how legends are born. Sure she lost the series but she won a legion of cross fans this season and with that superhuman effort.


  1. While that is heartbreaking, it is inspiring at the same time. I am not sure what to feel.

    Great post.

  2. @b-bike-g:

    Molly is a transgendered woman (and my cycling hero as well!)

    Wiki it if you're still confused

  3. While I can't say I really know Molly, I have spent some time with her. This blog post is spot on. Molly has inspired me so much this season. I went to the first cyclocross race of the year with her, then during that last cross crusade race, I was the next one through on that run up (being lapped). While I was shocked and sad to see her there, I think you're absolutely right. What is heartbreaking for her has become incredibly symbolic and inspiring to me. Thanks for putting this to words for us.

  4. I heard "of" Molly before moving to Portland. Once here I stopped by her shop and thought about how great her energy was and that I could ride with folks like that. Most of the riders had beards as did I and who doesn't love pink? So, I joined her team, great times, great people and surely a local legend for cycling.

  5. The irony with Molly's "loss" is she had the win wrapped up when she waited for Babcock after he crashed midrace. The fact that he took the win from her after that kinda sucks.