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Rain turns cyclocross bicycle race into mud bog

October 09, 2005|By CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN

They started off wearing colorful cycling jerseys Saturday morning, but it wasn't long before they became a monochromatic brown.

Thanks to steady rain, mud was a main part of the terrain for a cyclocross bicycle race at South Hagerstown High School, proceeds of which benefited Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley. Around $2,500 was raised.

With splotches of dried mud on his face and legs, racer Chris Sellman said after finishing his race that riding in mud is not atypical for cyclocross racers.

"This is normal," said Sellman, 38, of Hampstead, Md. "It's (cyclo)cross season. Normally, it's messy. Sloppy."

About 100 riders took part, with rides for different skill levels and ages.

Originally started in Belgium to help keep road cyclists in shape over the winter, cyclocross racing requires riders to navigate different types of terrain and, sometimes, mud or snow.

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A small part of the course at South High required riders to dismount their bicycles and carry them over small barricades or up hills. It cannot be called a biathlon, Sellman said, because riders run for only 2 percent or 3 percent of the course.

Betsy Schauer, 29, of Morgantown, W.Va., finished first among the race's few female riders.

"I think the weather scared some people away," said Schauer, who said that in some areas the mud was so slippery, it made running difficult.

For Schauer, riding in rain and chilly temperatures meant she could return home to a mug of hot chocolate.

A former runner, Schauer took up cyclocross racing because of her bad knees. Like some of the other riders, she now expects to participate in a national cyclocross race in Providence, R.I., this December.

Maybe there will be snow in Rhode Island, Schauer said with a hint of anticipation

Janet Lung, community liaison for Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley, said that the money raised during the event will be used for the organization's programs, including free mammogram screenings and other services available to eligible women.

A breast cancer survivor, Lung discovered a lump in her breast five years ago when she was 37 years old. After undergoing a lumpectomy, Lung had four chemotherapy treatments over a three-month period followed by 6 1/2 weeks of radiation.

If found early, breast cancer is curable, said Lung, who encouraged women to do a monthly breast self-examination and have a yearly clinical exam. Women 40 and older should have a mammogram done once a year, she said.

The breast cancer awareness organization teamed up with cyclocross racing because Lung's husband is involved in the sport. He was the co-promoter of the Hagerstown race, which also was held last year at South High.

The main promoter of the race, Joseph Jefferson of Hagerstown, wanted to stress this: "We're more than appreciative of support from South Hagerstown High School and the Board of Education."

More than one person said school officials might not be too pleased to see the state of the school grounds, where mud replaced grass.

Rain, however, doesn't only create mud.

"Grass grows," several people said.

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