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Of Vodka and Cyclocross 

A cyclocross race at Bendistillery? I am so there. Not even a head cold, and the best efforts of my three year-old to thwart my sleep the night before, deterred me. The course, designed by Swiss ex-pat and former pro Marcel Russenberger, incorporated bumpy farm roads, a bog, sandy trails and features from a homemade pump track. Because of the many transitions, the course favored those who have honed good 'cross skills, like dismounting and remounting with forward momentum.

With Masters Road Nationals capping a late road season for me, I've done very little (OK, zero) running this fall. And I felt it, lap after lap, running through the squelchy, muddy bog. Despite Russenberger himself tossing some water down my back halfway through the race, the hot, dry conditions added to the suffering, and I was giddy to see the lap card show one to go. My first stop after finishing was the bike wash. I had so much mud and grass in my buckles I couldn't open my shoes. A brawny gentleman enjoying a cocktail on the patio of the distillery came to my rescue and was able to un-wedge the ratchet. An absurd amount of mud was rinsed from my once nice Italian shoes, providing much entertainment for a few spectators.

After cleaning up, my compatriots and I headed to the tasting room for a free flight of spirits. Noting the cold a couple of us had, the bartender treated us to ginger vodka not on the flight. Choosing a mixed cocktail based on my favorite tasting proved difficult, but I decided on a Bloody Mary made with the Mazama Pepper Vodka and a splash of basil vodka not on the menu. Garnished with crispy green beans, my drink felt medicinal and healthy. Now if all 'cross races could end at the Bendistillery...

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