Monday, May 7, 2018

Rhode Island is NOT flat

Contrary to what you may assume Rhode Island is not Flat. In fact, as I learned this past Saturday it is in fact very hilly. I heard great things about Greasy Joe's Gravel Grinder. My good friend Roger went and did it last year. I am pretty sure he used the words "easy" and "flat" when describing it. He also used the words fun and awesome. Being a mid-distance gravel specialist the first and only time I have ever ridden at Big River (which happens to be where GJGG was held) I couldn't help think how awesome it would be to ride a CX bike on these trails. It was very reminiscent of Cape Cod which I love. Flowy, sandy, pine loam trails. Relatively flat which is perfect for a flatlander like myself. So when I saw the date for GJGG I put a big red star on my calendar. I got a great crew of HUP together and it was on!

Now as this was a special ride and I wanted to be at my best I decided it was time to put new tires on. Tan walls are my jam. I was very excited to put a brand new set of WTB Riddlers on for this ride. Again I assumed the course would be a gravel grinder aka roadie-ish course. I didn't want to be held back by my 40 CX knobbies. Hahaha. Are you noticing a trend here? Lots of assumptions. When I got the pre-ride email the night before I realized this was not a roadie dirt road ride at all. And knowing the NECT crew I should have never assumed this one wasn't going to be rowdy. The week before I had set up Guthrie with a pair of these tires right before the Ronde. They set up in like 20 minutes. Now past performance does not insure the outcome of future endeavors. Both tires went on super easy. I did all the usual things I do. Soapy water, violent shaking of the wheel, ride around the neighborhood. My neighbors must think I am crazy.

Then air started shooting out of the front tire. And the rear wasn't holding. I won't lie I kind of panicked. I texted Pirro. And pleaded to the internet for tips. More sealant. More shaking. More beer. I went to bed thinking about how screwed I was going to be the next day. My confidence was about zero that these tires would hold air overnight let alone on 50 miles of rowdy trails in Big River and Arcadia. But some CX god smiled on me and the tires held fast. Thank you to what ever spirit or Fae saved me from certain doom. Guthrie and Joanna show up to HUP HQ south and we pack everything into the van. Things are going surprisingly smooth.

We get down and are a little "late." One of the things I love about how Greasy Joe's did this was it was a staggered start or choose your own start time. Kind of like D2R2 in a way. They had sent out a GPS file the prior evening so everyone had a GPS track to follow but they also were diligent about signs and arrows at all turns, obstacles and rest stops. I know there has been some discussion of late about signage and GPS files. I like both. I know its a lot of work to do signs. But it ensures riders stay on course and alerts them to hazards. These rides are not supposed to be races. Frankly a race mindset is the worst for rides like this. The whole point of gravel adventure rides is to have an adventure. Stick together. Help each other out. Navigate the course. A course like GJGG has everything. Some riders will be strong on the climbs. Some super fast on the descents and technical bits. Someone is always going to get dropped or separated from the group. The first rule is everyone waits. No one gets left behind.

The first part of the ride reminded me of the mtb ride we did down at Big River about a month prior. Super fun dirt roads, flowy. And then we hit what I can only describe as a dry creek bed. It reminded me of the chute at Lemurian. Now maybe one person will get that reference but the Lemurian was this epic mtb ride in Norcal. You climbed forever. Then took a ripping descent down the mtn. We all were on rigid bikes back then. It got rowdy to say the least. This descent pushed the bounds of what you can do on a CX bike. I loved every second of it.

We somehow got through the ride with only two flats. I did almost rip my front fork off at one point and dropped my chain on a bumpy decent. But it was the perfect day. NECT crushed it. It is probably my favorite gravel ride I have done. The course was very similar to VT Overland. Punchy steep climbs, rowdy technical sections, super fun flowy loam tracks. True confession time. One of my kids plays a ton of video games. She loves them. And she constantly talks about the storylines and how her characters are doing. We talk about the villains and the protagonist. It is great. Half way through the ride I kept asking myself "what does this remind me of?" NH? Sort of. VT? Kind of. Far Cry 5? Definitely. So much of the course was nice pine loam forest. Then you would punch out into an area that was like it was out of a dystopian novel or movie. I kept expecting Joe Seed to come out and ask me about my sins. Pretty sure Sloth would be carved on my chest....

We had a group of about 9 riders. A nice mash up of HUP, Seven and others. Got to ride with some friends who I hadn't seen in a long time. And once again HUP lives up to being the raddest crew to ride with ever. I just love the bizarre conversations we have and the crazy shit that goes down. HUGE props to the whole NECT crew! Major shout outs to Tamara Wong for the amazing rest stop. That rest stop was a life saver. And Tammy stayed out there the whole day. It was probably one of the most dialed rest stops I have seen at a ride. Definitely took notes for next year's Ronde!
Matt from NECT did a great job on the course and checking in on all the riders. The whole ride we were thinking of cold beer. I know, I know. But it was hot. And the course was super hard. We had resigned ourselves to no beer but happy we had finished together and had such a great ride. As we rolled back into the staging area we went to let Matt know we had finished so he could sign us in. AS we signed in he handed each of us an ice cold Cinco de Mayo appropriate beer. That ice cold Corona Light was better than any artisanal hand crafted beer I have ever consumed.

Long story short I will be back next year. That is now a must do on my gravel calendar. I won't lie I joke about being a "gravel specialist" but those are the rides I am interested in. Racing is kind of meh for me at this point in my riding career. I just like to ride with friends in some crazy area on CX bikes or what ever you call the bikes we are riding. I look forward to a great Spring and Summer (and gasp even Fall!) checking out all the cool gravel in New England.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nerds of the NECX

The Nerd biker (cyclist) connection can not be denied. So many of us were nerds in high school. I can't even count the amount of times I have had conversations both in person or on the twittersphere about starting an #NECX D&D campaign. The possibilities are endless. I mean let's face it Cross is basically LARPing. Why not just take it to the next level?

Here is my proposal. This year at the Ronde we do a #NECX D&D "Poker ride" My good friend and DM extraordinaire has lots of great ideas to make this work. Basically the way it will work is any teams wanting to participate will need to sign on to the campaign. Each participating team will get a ziplock baggy containing: Character sheets printed on cards, a list of spells, a specific task and a simplified rules set. In Jed's words a Cannonball Run sort of campaign. 

"The party of rogues came upon a dank tunnel in the moors of Satan's Kingdom. They heard a low moaning as they approached the tunnel. Small lawn gnomes and tiny plastic miniatures dotted the landscape. A scale model train set wrapped around the rocks. A half-goat, half-demon anthropomorphic figure emerged from the darkness. 'My children have you misbehaved?" growled the creature."

If this sounds like something you want to be a part of send me an email at Jed and I will make the magic happen as they say. And may the odds ever be in your favor. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Omloop van Blackstone

Our idea of what a "road" ride is has certainly changed over the years. Gravel is King make no mistake. Most all of the rides I personally do are on a CX bike with 40s and in the woods. The paved road is merely a conduit to my next dirt sector or park. But there are times when riding the "road" makes the most sense. Early season when the trails are either too muddy to ride or closed, when you need to shake of the winter rust and get the legs going again, or when a good friend sends out an invite to a best worst ride idea ever. I never say no to an idiot ride. Greg is one of those friends who just puts the best rides together. Honestly I know a lot of trail wizards. He is hands down the best. From his route planning to pre-ride emails. He always gets me stoked. Getting me stoked for a "road" ride is some type of mid-winter miracle trust me. This winter in New England has been bizarre. One day it is 70 degrees out. The next it is 30 and we get 6 inches of snow. The trails have been perfect one day and then a quagmire of a mud pit the next. The road really is the only option right now. So when Greg sent out his Omloop van Blackstone email I was all in. 

The OVB was an homage to Omloop Het Nieuswblad which went down this past Saturday. We all assembled in a parking lot next to the post office and namesake of Greg's cycling club MPO. I honestly had no idea what to think. There were three route options: 33 miles-Short but Sweet and Gnarly; 55 miles-The Goldilocks and 70 miles-Fellow Idiots, Lets Do this. I have been pretty much sitting on a couch all winter so opted for Short, Sweet and Gnarly. Which is pretty much what I am all about anyway. I typically go big with my rubber choices but this was a "road" ride. And I needed all the help I could get so dug out my favorite "road" tire the Roubaix. It is called a 28/30. Not sure what that means. Set up tubeless on a HED Belgian plus rim it measures a fat and fast 33. It is pretty much bomb proof. Doesn't ride like a garden hose and somehow offers up pretty good grip off road. Tubeless set up can be a bit of a dark art. I have had good luck but road tires can be a bit of a challenge. This was my first opportunity to use a flash charger pump and I will say it worked great. I was a bit nervous taking a brand new set up on a group ride without having ridden it before but I was confident in both the Specialized tires and the HED rims. They are solid as a tubeless set up as you can get.

Greg kept texting me alluring photos of random dirt roads and telling me to do the 55. I was actually worried about completing the 33. I am in that bad of shape right now. When I rolled into the parking lot I saw 20-30 riders. Really cool crew. A mix of Greg's MPO teammates, HUP and some Apex Velo dudes. From HUP we had Greg, Guthrie, Michele, Eric, Theo, and myself. It felt a lot like the old HUP group road rides we used to do. Just a fun crew looking for some adventure in Winter. I have mentioned this weird Winter we are having in New England right? All the snow was gone. I have already found 9 ticks on my dog. Dressing for this ride was a challenge in and of itself. We rolled out as a big group and headed out toward Medfield State. I tucked in behind Guthrie and Greg. My good friend Rich was next to me on his full suspension mtn bike. I appreciate Rich opting for the mtb on this ride. It certainly wasn't going to slow him down but it at least made the rest of us mere mortals able to at least attempt to stay in contact with him.

The first dirt climb about killed me. Again, I cannot overstate how little riding I have done this winter. It is what it is. I have been focusing more on my family and doing stuff with them. Most of my weekends are spent in a hockey rink. At first I was like "oh this is ok" which quickly gave way to "oh fuck no..." I got off mid-way and hike a biked to the top. We wove through some amazing backroads. Got chased by a few dogs, might have ridden a section that was closed* and had some angry local call the cops on us, but those are mere color to our idiot ride. Everyone kept it together. Honestly I love riding with a crew like this. No egos, no testosterone fueled watts fest. Just a fun conversational pace. This is what all winter rides should be like. At the split for the 33 route we said our goodbyes and formed a new crew of about 10 of us. The only person I knew on this new crew was my friend Dave. Solid guy. We caught up. Talked shop. Exchanged notes on all the upcoming cool gravel rides we are thinking of doing. And then things got as you say "real" *Most of you know I am a dirtbag. I obey the rules in general but bend some certainly within reason. I probably obey more rules than the average driver on the road. The person who called the cops on 30 of us riding a multi use trail was on the same section of "closed" trail himself so should have called the cops on himself. The section that was closed was being repaired and was 100% safe to ride at that moment. The sign technically said "Road Closed Pass at Own Risk" Which we did. 

Greg does not play around. He found some sectors that would give any gravel rider pause. We hit a power line section that had multiple stream crossings that built into full on river crossings. Some were rideable others were definitely hike a bikes. We rode through Vietnam. On our road bikes. Vietnam is a legit mtb tech zone of a park. It is owned by NEMBA and draws the full face helmet crowd. I had heard of the place but never ridden there as that type of riding is not really my jam. Hilarious that my first ride there would be on a CX bike on road tires. We somehow only had two flats on the whole ride. We did a great job of not losing anyone. Which says a lot for a crew that really didn't know each other before embarking on this adventure together. This to me is what this new type of cycling is about. Leave your ego behind. Explore. Look out for each other. Be cool. So rad. HUGE thanks to Greg for making this ride happen and getting a bunch of us like-minded idiots out for a rad winter ride. I hope this turns into a series of rides. It really was a blast.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Ronde de Rosey Q&A

A proper Ronde de Rosey Q&A with the man has been a long time coming. With this spring-like weather in the NECX it felt the time was right. So here follows my lame questions and Rosey's awesome answers

1. What inspired you to put on a “Ronde”?
I'd been commuting from Boston out to Watertown and Waltham for 5+ years and had some great dirt roads and under utilized trail options that I took to get off the road as much as possible.  Every spring, people were stressing to register early and paying $50+ to go ride a few dirt roads in nowhere New York.  I wanted to create something in Boston that encourage people to stay local and take advantage of the hidden gems they'd been missing while out on their training rides.  I also liked the idea of getting out on the cross bike in April as opposed to only Sep-Dec.  I had done a few Rapha Gentlemen's Races and decided to adopt the team format.  

2. What is the “Ronde”?
The Ronde is an adventure on bicycles.  I used the hashtag #getlost in the past and I think that still holds true.  We start and finish at the Washington Square Tavern, but you can expect at some point between start and finish to #getlost.  Every year I add something new, something that I hope makes the riders say "wow, that was cool, I never knew that was so close to Boston!"  But I also hope riders are humbled by the adventure.  I keep the route a secret until just a few days before the event.  Partially to add suspense, and partially because I'm looking for more adventure until the very last moment.

3. What is the weirdest thing that has happened on a Ronde?
The first year I ran the event, Garmins were still a new concept and the idea of following a GPS track on your bike was definitely not the norm so I went out the week before and starting marking the course.  Spray paint on the road for turns, pink ribbon in the woods to draw attention to turns.  Well apparently the pink ribbons were not well received and someone or some group had taken a bunch of them down on Friday or Saturday.  I only learned of this because I caught the lead groups in the woods early on and they were not able to tell which way to go.  I had to remark 50% of the course during the event.  It was stressful! 

4. How has the use of technology changed rides like the Ronde?
The first version had a cue sheet with something like 60 or more turn points.  Things like "take a right at the chopped down tree."  I had to spray paint route markers for some of the trail entries from the roads too because almost all of the trails were unknown to people and there was no way riders would notice the singletrack entry while cruising at 20mph on the road.  #getlost was not a concept, we didn't explore. 

5. What do you think is the best bike to ride on the Ronde?
The best bike is the one that you want to ride on singletrack, trails, and roads for 6 hours.  I've done the routes on my cross bike, single speed mtb, and single speed cx bike.  The original routes were probably best suited to a traditional geared cx bike (partly because that's what everyone had back then).  The newer routes are good for a 29er or a disc cx bike with 40mm tires.  I think my favorite choice is a single speed cx bike with 40mm tires.

6. What is your favorite beer?
Depends on the season.  Since it's winter, I'd say a good stout like Long Trail Unearthed: 

7. What team has overcome the most adversity and finished the Ronde?
 Oh man, I think Cort Cramer and his Svelte Team had a squad that tore a derailleur off, diverted off course to pick up a pit bike, got back on course, broke a chain, had a few flats, and still finished with smiles. 

8. What is the secret to riding the Ronde?
Leave your attitude and selfishness at the door.  If you don't like to deal with adversity, you shouldn't come.  I think the Geekhouse squad had the best mantra - cat 1 for fun.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Dear faithful reader. I apologize for my lag in updating this here blog. We are thick in the middle of the Dog Days of Winter here in the NE. A lot has transpired between the last time we spoke. 

Ice Weasels was Epic. I don't use that word lightly....if you were there you know. If you weren't there look at these photos by Jon Nable and tell me this isn't Epic?

The King of Pain Mike Wissell unleashing hell upon the slopes of IWC

Roni the queen of Jake's Ice Cream and SSCX

Jenn Minery making it looking as smooth as ever

Macho Man Randy Savage showing the cream rises to the top

Jessica Howland in the Danger Zone   

Drifters always get all the super fans

HUP There it is...

The Vest

Flannel Rules

Art School Represent

The pictures do more justice to that day than my words ever could. But it was one of those days not unlike Philly 2013. The day started rad and then during the premier event the snow just went off and made it a day to remember. Thank you to all who made the 2017 Zank SSCX series so rad. I miss all of you SSCXers so much. But there are lots of things cooking. As the title above implies...something wicked this way comes. #GETLOST will be the Mantra for 2018. You have three months to prepare. Get ready. Until then be nice to the trails. Don't ride them when they thaw and destroy them. If the trails are solid get your fat bike freak on. Do what ever makes you happy. But if you see that trail get muddy go for a road ride. It is pretty nice this time of year.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Waffle Cross

The Original Waffle Cross was created by Andy Huff and hosted by Wheelworks. 2009/2010 was a pretty special time in the #NECX. There were a lot of rad people pushing the envelope of what you could do on a CX bike. We all rode our CX bikes in the woods. But the whole idea of doing organized mixed terrain rides in New England really began that year with the inception of the Ronde de Rosey and Waffle Cross. There were a lot of reasons these rides became popular and a lot of inspirations. Three Peaks, Grasshopper Adventure Series...yes the Rapha G Rides. They all inspired a bunch of cross fanatics to make some real magic happen. Andy is one of the coolest people I know. Always smiling and always in a good mood. It is infectious to say the least. At some point Waffle Cross became an annual Thanksgiving Day ride. Mike Wissell took the flame and made it into a nice tradition. Now my idea of nice and yours may vary. I missed the freezing rain year so all my Waffle Cross memories are quite fond.

Having family in Maine I typically am out of town for Turkey Day. But this year the Heavy Metal Gods of CX smiled upon me and I was home. The odds became even more in my favor as the weather forecast was PERFECT! Sunny and cold. Just what you want in New England for football, turkey and yes riding the bikes! I turned the #hype meter to eleven and started plotting and scheming with Mike. I did a nice recon to make sure the route was on brand. Had Michele give it her trail wizard seal of approval and voila. Waffle Cross was in full effect. I honestly didn't know who would show up. I figured maybe 6 of us. But I would have been stoked with a small group of friends riding in the woods together. My phone rang at 7:15 am that morning. It was my good friend Chris. He was already in the parking lot. I kicked it into gear and jammed it to the rendezvous point. As I turn into the lot I see a whole crew milling about and drinking coffee and eating donuts. OK full disclosure. There were NO waffles on this Waffle Cross. But donuts are just as good right?

We do what bikers do and ride circles around each other in the parking lot until we are sure everyone who is making it is present and accounted for. We have about 17 riders. Mr Waffle Cross himself is here! My friend agent Utah rolls in. So many rad people. We head out into Cutler. And I won't lie I was a tad nervous. It had rained the entire day before. Cutler is a swamp. Why mince words. It is a nice swamp. But a swamp. But maybe because the ground was a bit frozen there weren't a lot of mud puddles and really zero flooding.

We work our way through Cutler with very little incident. We almost lose a few riders off a wood bridge but no one sustains any hit points of damage. We get out to the pump track and the shenanigans begin. Pocket beers emerge. Jumps are taken. Somehow no one crashes or destroys their bikes. There are so many fanny packs on the ride we should call it a fanny pack ride. Fanny packs are cool in case you didn't know. I have fanny pack envy.

We pop out onto our first road section and start talking about Ronde's past. One of the craziest crashes I have ever witnessed was on one of those early Rondes. Mike Wissell's team was flying down south street that year. One of his teammates hit a chunky section and they rubbed wheels and Mike was down. I saw him cartwheel and then hit a telephone pole and then go through a small sign post. I honestly thought well that is the end of this year's Ronde. The force of his impact knocked a street sign off the post. It is very possible Mike is built from Adamantium. It really is the only explanation. So Mike was bloody and bleeding. But got right back on his bike and took off to rejoin his team. He rode another 60 miles in that condition. Have I mentioned mixed terrain riding is fun?

I guess our idea of "fun" may seem warped at times but it is always worth it. I take them through a fun roller in NTF. Then we pop out onto the new bike path. This ride is kind of a "best of" of my daily rides. I don't ride Cutler much anymore because of the non-stop highway project that is going on down on 95. I am sure it will be "worth" it eventually. But right now it is an absolute cluster fuck. I show the crew my secret CX training grounds. Assuming I ever were to train for reality it is a super nice little open space hidden away from the hustle and bustle of South Street.

The rest of the ride is just a hilarious march of mostly mountain bike trails. If we had more time I can tell people would want to session some of the sectors we rode through. CXenduro is the future people. Trust me. Fanny packs + Flannel + Enduro sectors = Winning. I find myself at the front of a pace line going much faster than I would normally ride. I tend to find that sweet spot of 10 mph. 20 mph into a headwind is not really my safe space. But the conversations and new faces are helping me forget just what horrible shape I am in. It is like riding a bike right? You always remember and can fake it at least for a short period of time. We all get back to our cars and finish off the last of the donuts and coffee. High fives and hugs are exchanged. Waffle Cross is such a great tradition. And reminds me what I love most about the NECX and bikes. Thanks Mike and Andy for making such a rad ride possible.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Moving in Stereo

The photo above is the greatest team photo of ALL time. Don't even attempt a better team photo than this. You can add in Dolphin plushies. Pillows. Pools. You won't even come close to this. HUP has been around for more than a decade. Our founder Zac Daab was on to something when he created the first "anti-team" He had a vision. The vision was a team based on who you would want to hang out with for a weekend in Vermont. Who you would get up at 4 am on a freezing November to pile in a van and head north for a rad adventure ride. Zero drama. The ability to smile while suffering. And to never take this whole bike game too seriously. 

I joined HUP about 8 years ago. Post two or three concussions things get foggy. But basically Zac and Yash brought me in. I met Yash at a few races after moving to Boston from SF. I was still racing for a rad Norcal Team called Sycip. I wore that Sycip kit with pride for two years after moving "home" I guess I made an impression. Maybe it was the Norcal kit or the steel Sycip. Who knows. But as they say "One HUP finds another." Yash, Zac and HUP opened up my whole world from Norcal bike racer to Boston cyclist. I was worried about moving back home. Boston is a weird place. I left for a reason. But sometimes you have to leave a place to fall in love with it all over again. Those early years were awesome. Yash was the DS of the team. He was a one man house of style. Taught me so much about CX and the east coast. Then around 2009 the torch was passed from Yash to myself. Yash was moving away from Boston. He moved to DC and then later to China. HUP needed a new DS. I became that DS. To say I was honored was an understatement. 

HUP became my battle flag. I loved the team and loved what it stood for. We had some really special people on the team. HUP is simple really. We ride bikes. We build the community. We support those who need it. Michele Smith came on to HUP shortly after I did and we became Co-DS. And the team has flourished. Each year Yash has come back from his travels Michele has organized a Yash Ride. HUP honors its members. Once you are HUP you are always HUP. And we definitely honor those who built this team. I said it earlier. I love Yash. And owe him so much. He made me feel welcome in a pretty tight insular bike scene. Showed me the ropes. Introduced me to people I count as the best friends I have had in my life. Some are as close or closer to me than family. They really are like my family. 

So when Michele sent an email that a Yash Ride was on I got very stoked. When HUP gets together magic happens. I have never been able to make it to one of these elusive Yash rides. In an odd twist of fate this Yash Ride was taking place the day before Lowell. Lowell is where the torch was passed so many years ago. Lowell was where the Forest of Lowellenberg was created. So much tradition. Rosey stayed over at my house the night before the ride. We rolled out at a gentlemen's hour. We considered stopping at Dunkins for an XL and a box of munchkins but were a bit pressed for time. We didn't want to miss the HUP train leaving the station. As tradition would have it DJ Robert brought fresh oysters from Duxbury. How many rides do you know of that start with pre-gaming oysters. So Robert, Nable and the whole crew are shucking oysters and slamming them down in the parking lot. A nice lady rides over and asks me and Rosey what this is all about. She says " are you guys on a cyclocross team?" I sort of chuckle. Um yes ma'am. We are. Why do you ask. She replies "My friends were wondering why you were having so much fun before a ride." Boom. Fun. It is what it is all about.

I see Yash and give him a big hug. It has been waaayyy too long. Then we do what bikers do. We size up each others bikes. Yash does not play. He is well known as a collector of fine bikes. His newest is a custom 333FAB. Max was arguably one of the best welders at Seven back in the day. And an OG on HUP. The 333FAB bikes are gorgeous. Yash had a sick new CX/All Roads resplendent with all the cool bits. We collected the team for our first of many photos that day. Then rolled out. Another tradition is DJ Robert brings a boom box. His playlists are next level. As the title infers we rolled out to the Cars Moving in Stereo. Being from Boston and of a certain age this song just brings back so many memories. And frames who I am in so many ways. Of course the second we get onto the Minuteman Bike Path a car drives ONTO the path and turns in front of our group. Yeah cyclists are the problem.

Remember earlier when I said HUP is a special team? This is a classic example. No one crashes. No one pounds on the SUV in rage. We just move around said offender and are on our merry way. Lexington isn't my favorite place I won't lie. White entitlement + congestion + faux liberalism always rub me the wrong way. But as Dwayne the Rock Johnson would say I just push those feelings down into my little fanny pack and move on. I would say we have a group of about 15-18 riders. All HUP. Some new to HUP some OG. But all on the same page. I catch up with Yash and Robert. I tuck in under Robert's shoulder and roll down the path just so happy. I flow back and connect with Nable. We stop at Shenanigans Station Number One. Bikes make us all kids again. It is what keeps us in the bike game even when we are old enough to know better. When the crew sees a playground with some crazy ass swings shit is gonna go off the rails. We avoid the ER somehow.

Michele has put together such an amazing route. Minimal road. Trails that feel familiar but in a direction I have never ridden them. Yash keeps commenting on how smooth we are on the trails and wondering how we do this all the time without crashing. It honestly is so funny to me. I guess I take this whole way of riding for granted. I certainly wasn't always this comfortable riding CX bikes on the trails but after so many years it is the style of riding we have evolved to. Adventure riding. Gravel. CXenduro. I am not in marketing and have nothing to sell you so I don't put labels on this type of riding. It is just a ride.

We hit Ponyhenge. Much hilarity ensues. The best team photo of all time is taken. The only thing missing maybe is some dolphin plushie toys. We somehow have gone without a crash, a mechanical or incident to this point. Shocking. The Heavy Metal God of Thunder is clearly watching over us this day. At some point I realize where we are and start laughing out loud. Michele and I and a few others revere creating these adventure routes. So when I am able to see the master at work and enjoy her handiwork it just fills me with joy. As much as a lot of The North (In Boston we are separated by a river and a turnpike) bugs me just as I am sure where I live bugs them there are elements of Lexington and its environs that resonate with me. The history certainly. Rolling by Walden where Thoreau wrote some of the most seminal words about being an outdoors person always pulls at me. Seeing British flags along the Minuteman Path where soldiers died forming this country is always poignant. Especially during these turbulent political times when who we are as a country is being challenged daily.

The best parts of these rides other than the riding is the ability to talk to so many friends and teammates. You really have some of the best conversations while on a bike. As the ride begins to wind down the talk turns to post-ride food and hangouts. We end up in a nice pizza place right in Lexington. We all share a huge pizza and talk about the ride. It is hilarious how each rider looks at the ride and their own set up for the ride. I tend towards CXenduro. I will give up a light weight machine for one that will handle what ever the trail throws at me. A lot of the crew prefers a bike that is better suited for going fast and are ok with some mayhem along the trail. We plot and scheme our next HUP ride and adventure. And after some fond goodbyes we all pedal off in our own directions. Yash you will be missed my friend. Can't wait til the next time we get to ride together