Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Trust isn't something we all do very easily these days. We are all such control freaks its pretty much impossible for us to put our trust and by default our faith in someone. Even if we know they are an expert, master, professional, whatever pick your title. We are going to them for their expertise but we feel we somehow know more than they do. Or that we should be involved in the process. It pretty much is the American way. It is no wonder we are one step away from cracking at all times. Control I believe is what we think is the key to our happiness. If we control everything we'll stay happy, healthy and never have anything untoward happen to us. Right. But this inability to relinquish control can lead to sometimes uncomfortable situations.
I drag my feet on new bike decisions. I belabor them way beyond what is reasonable. Jeremy Sycip basically built all my bike frames for a decade. The bikes I owned before Jeremy started building them were no slouches: A bontrager, a custom Ti WTB phoenix, a stock Rock Lobster. But once Jeremy started building my bikes it just was fluid. I'd call Jeremy tell him what I wanted and then he'd deliver one of the finest riding bikes you'd ever have the pleasure to ride. I trusted him emphatically. He also spoiled me. I didn't realize it at the time but he'd let me dictate the design a bit on the bikes. I didn't even know or think this was a bad idea. If I pushed things in the wrong direction he'd gently nudge me back to what made sense. It was very much a relationship. He is one of my good friends. And we conducted business that way.

Over the years he built me no less than 5 bikes. My current S3/columbus life rocket ship of a road bike, my cross bike and an older 853 mtb. This cross season I knew I wanted to try something different. I took a trip out to PDX a year ago for the Crank Bros finals at PIR. The trip was an epiphany. And I of course fell in love with a Speedvagen. Who wouldn't or hasn't. But the practical side of me just could not spend that type of money on a cross machine. A year later I was still going over in my mind what bike to try next. I rode my trusty Sycip the whole cross season. Until it hit me. Rock Lobster. My first cross bike was a stock School Bus Yellow Rock Lobster. It was too big for me and was one of a fleet of team bikes that flooded the courses of Santa Cruz and NorCal but it Rocked. It was awesome! 

I thought why not go with what got you started. I love the fact that Paul Sadoff races himself. Quite competitively I might add. Paul fields a serious cross team and is a master. He is also a very cool cat. Real NorCal gem. Musician, living in Santa Cruz wow. I called him. He remembered me (we'd actually crossed paths at that Crank Bros finals in PDX) and we hit it off. I sent a deposit and my numbers and got stoked. 

That's where it got interesting. When he sent me his final numbers on the bike I casually responded to his email. I made what I thought were some ok suggestions on what might make it better...oopsies. His reaction was totally justified. I had no place suggesting design ideas on a bike I was ordering from him. He basically said trust me or you should find another builder. I learned a very valuable lesson in Trust. 

It is important to Trust those who we are looking to for their expertise. He wasn't rude about it just made a strong statement that helped me understand what it means to be a master. And that is what he is. And I respect him for it. I trusted him and that bike has changed everything for me. I basically said build me what you would ride. Nice to be able to do that with a builder. It has some real interesting race-proven elements to it. It is my first 7000 series aluminum bike and it is a weapon of cross destruction. The real thing is he has thought out every single thing he's put into the Team bikes so they are perfect for cross racing. And what I love about it more than anything is that he was right and I learnt a valuable lesson in trust. Man can that man build a cross bike!

Monday, March 30, 2009

FMB Love

These tires changed the whole cross game for me. Not these actual tires but FMBs straight from Molly C out in Portland Oregon. When I finally realized that clinchers were not the answer, Molly laid it all out for me. Built me a sweet pair of wheels, glued some 34 sscs on and shipped them to me with some bon bons (no lie and it was Belgian chocolate at that!) I raced them the day after I received them at Sucker Brook. No test lap, no getting used to it Just racers ready....GO! Top ten was the tale of the tape that day. Not that placing means anything but those tires transformed how I could corner and the sandpit ohhh how they railed through the sand it was incredible!

First Blood

This is going to hurt

Did my first intensity since NBX cross back in December. Basically I've just been riding. I've noticed I have no speed and zero ability to ramp it up into the red zone. No big deal right, its not even April. But it was time. I hit the CRW Haus of Pain ride last saturday. That ride is part circus freak show/part throwdown tuff ride. You never know what you are going to get. One weekend you have dudes on recumbents trying to prove some engineering algorithim that aerodymanics trump power and style in a pack of actual cyclists...God I hate recumbents...next weekend you get a good crew just looking to do a gentleman's ride, and then you have weekends like this one. People just wanted to kill each other. Chalk it up to a long winter and guys with way too much pent up testosterone but it was ugly. But perfect for shocking the system and reminding the body how to respond in race situations. 
Met E at staging. Opted for the 2nd "slow"group. Seemed cool. Didn't see anybody I knew but a bunch of familiar colors. 3 IBCers, 2 Crack O Dawn of the deaders, and I might add I like the new kit!, and a bunch of other guys. Rolled out super mellow. Obviously too mellow as we somehow were caught by the group behind us. When we hit south street we were probably 40 riders. Not good. I had no idea what was going on as I was up front. 
Nice new Crack of Dawn kits out at High Noon

One of the Crack O Dawn boys looks over at me and says "wow what a mellow day, I think I'll just cruise in the back." Lesson #1 in group riding: when a rival says he's going to ride mellow he is about to kick you in the face with a Chuck Norris style round house kick. He slips back and then slingshots of the front with his teammate. 
Eli Rolling with the Sycip/3 Pillar kits
We go from 15 mph to 30 in a mili-second. We kill each other for what seems like miles....finally at a forced stop, ie., stop sign we collect ourselves. E comes up and gives me "did you do that?" All I can offer is a shrug and a mumbling "don't look at me" through my gasping for air and wanting to puke. The rest of the ride is just one throw down after another. All bets are off. People riding crazy 4 across the road. I was really encouraged when one of the IBC riders who was clearly irritated and getting more so by the minute muttered under his breath "these idiots are riding like a bunch of damn cat 5s" Awesome! I guess I don't need to be afraid of racing cat 5 at Battenkill, because it can't get much worse than this--I should be all set!

So mission accomplished. The rust has been blown out of the pipes enough so my body remembers how to suffer. Because it clearly forgot how somewhere back in February. 19 days until BK and two more chances to hit the House of Pain ride before the real Hell unfolds!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Get in the Pit and....

Bad when you start out a blog post with a Kid Rock reference. But inspiration comes from many places...while most everyone is sharpening the sword for early spring road racing I am obsessed with Pit Bikes. Should I or shouldn't I? Last year I went the solo route. One bike, spare wheels in the pit just in case. I did this mostly out of convenience and the idea that its better to have one really good bike than two so-so bikes. Plus I am lazy. Its hard enough keeping my one bike in one piece let alone two.

The year before last season I trooped my pit bike to all 12 races. And the one time I did end up using it it was priceless! I flatted on a root section at NBX right before the pit while sitting first wheel in a group of 5 riders. I swung into the pit grabbed my pit bike swung out and two turns later was at the back of that same group. When the last rider in the paceline saw I was back in the group he was speechless. He thought I was done. Nope. That is what a pit bike affords you. 
The Forest of Lowellberg
The one and only time I had a mechanical during the 2008 cross season was at Lowell. Shedd Park was like Shiva the Destroyer. The new section dubbed the Forest of Lowellberg destroyed both bike and body. My toll was two almost brand new tubbies. Both rear. One challenge fango and one dugast rhyno. Now that is carnage! Thank god for tire alert. Because its hard to explain to even an understanding significant other just how its possible that you destroyed $250 worth of bike tires at a $30 bike race. Mine as well light the money on fire in front of them...In that instance I was f-d. I rode the now punctured and flatting tubbie for 1/2 a lap. I was in a good group with some riders I am never in contact with and was feeling pretty good. I love Lowell. 

The pit was on a downhill so when I went in they went by at about 18 mph. It took me no less than 3 minutes to get out. No need to rehash what happened. A wheel change should take 30 seconds? But it is the heat of battle and things happen. The funniest part was looking over my shoulder and seeing eyebob having his cleat worked on. It was hilarious. Something akin to Tanya Harding's broken skate lace incident at the Olympics.

The good news was the entire field was gone. The 45+ guys even caught me which was fun as I got to ride with soups who was flying as usual...

So there are two clear arguments for a pit bike. If I'd had a pit bike at Lowell I could have been in and out. Still might not have been able to catch back on but it would have been Possible.

That's what I am obsessed with right now. Should I or shouldn't I? Its a pain in the ass dragging two bikes all over New England. You seem like an elitist showing up with two custom handbuilt bikes to race a Masters 35+ B race....I do have enough spare parts to make it happen (who doesn't these days right?) so its more of an image/headache decision. I've got 5 months to figure it out...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Interview with Pineapple Bob

An Interview with Pineapple Bob from Cal Bike circa '94
Very few people in the US including myself have a clue what cross actually is. Mountain bikers  have been known to explain away a bad performance in a muddy technical race with " it was a cyclo-cross course, that's why I didn't do well." There are two things inherently wrong with this statement. Number one, you should never make excuses for a bad race. And number two, while yes, cross does rely on strong running skills, traditional European cross courses include more wide-open fast sections with plenty of passing room than singletrack.
Determined to set the record straight and on a quest to find the real soul of cyclo-cross I sat down with Pineapple Bob. Before I even had a chance to ask him how he'd like to conduct the interview he had me sit down in his living room and watch the 1991 Cyclo-cross Worlds and began imparting his year's of experience and passion to me.

PB: A lot of mountain bike riders who look down upon euro-style courses miss the point. They say it is easier on a mountain bike. Yeah of course its easier, but you don't get better at cross riding a mountain bike. You tell them that and they are like, "but I want to win." 
I would hate to lose the triple barriers, the long run-ups, and wide-fast sections that make Euro-style cross courses so exciting. You go to any Surf City race and you always hear guys moaning "oh how come there is this long run-up." They just don't get it. 

On Technique and Bike setup
PB:There is no one right way to set up a cross bike. Whatever fits and works best is what you need. In Simon Burney's book Cyclo-cross they show how to do the dismounts and stuff, but the best way is to watch a video and see how they do it. That will really be the best teacher technique-wise. When I first read about cross and about technique then started doing it before obstacles I went "oh yeah wow its so smooth, that's why they are doing it that way." It becomes clearer when you can see it. Go to the races and do the clinic they offer at the start of the series. The clinic is a really good thing to have. Go to the clinic, get your hands on any of the good tapes and that should do it.

Butcher Bikes
PB: It was always one of Bridgestone's dreams to put out a cross frame,but it never happened. I ride a modified RB-1. After a lot of conferences with Ed Litton, we did some changes on the RB-1 road frame. He did it, set it up and I loved it. When people ask me about frames I just give them my recipe and send them to Ed, because Ed knows what its all about and he does it right. I still want Ed to build me a fork. I bought an XO-1 fork crown which is wider than a road crown so it will have more clearance on the sides and top and its pretty sexy. That's going to go on my RB-X4 which will be my fourth modified RB-1 frame.
I don't use a straight RB-1 road frame anymore, even for road riding. I just use my modified cross bike. It's my only bike now because a cross bike works great for everything. The only difference between a cross bike and a road bike is you have more clearance and a slightly higher bottom bracket, that's it. I use 170mm cranks which is my road length so if I want to do a road race where I need road chainrings I just take off my crankset and put my road cranks on. I just pop the cross crank off and put on a road crankset with a 40/52.
The only thing you don't get is the dual pivot brakes, so people peek at it. They see cantilever brakes on a road bike or they think its a road bike and they think "oh what's this guy doing here?" So you get that LOOK. But you know when you go to a mountain bike race with the drop bars you get the same LOOK again and the "what's this guy doing here?" So you are kind of stuck between two worlds and don't really fit in, but you really do. Just nobody thinks you do. Cross bikes also make great criterium bikes because they are fairly stiff and they corner great and don't beat you up so much. So there really is no need for a road bike or a mountain bike at all.

PB: Cross is always fun. The Surf City series is like a big reunion and its sad after the last race. We see each other at the Nationals and its like a big reunion once again. Its even better if its raining. Everyone's all like "yeah something good is going to happen." I don't get that kind of camaraderie in any other cycling event. We all hang out, look out for each other and help each other out-either by trying to get a room, helping each other with the bikes or helping out at the races. To me cross is really tight. Its not something you can get easily in other sports. 
If you do it long enough your technique gets better and you can really appreciate the sport. Its hard, its no fun being lapped four times by Don Myrah on a short course. Its demoralizing but you know if you watch his technique it motivates you to go and get a little better and it helps take you to the next level. Its got to be one of the weirdest sports around in cycling. Cross also has a lot of old-world charm and style that other aspects of cycling just don't have.

Hot Cross Buns

I originally wanted the title of this blog to be Hot Cross Buns. I've been thinking about doing a blog/cross 'zine titled Hot Cross Buns forever. But for some obvious and not so obvious reasons I've been hesitant to do so. The biggest problem I had with the title hot cross buns was seasonal. Cross is a Fall sport and hot cross buns the delicious danish come out in early spring. So titling a spring classics superfan blog Hot Cross Buns makes sense, a cross obsessed one not so much. The other obvious problem is the "buns" bit. I can only imagine the traffic that would be lured to my site while the interwebs googled either "buns" or "hot" not that there is anything wrong with that.

My obsession with hot cross buns began in the Fall of 1994 when my cross addiction was in its infancy. It all started when I met one Robert Kurasawa or as he is affectionately known Pineapple Bob or P-Bob. P-Bob is and was a legend. He worked at Bridgestone back when it was The Cool bike company. They were cool before it was cool to be cool. And he was an evangelist for cross in the NorCal Bay Area. It was his idea to originally craft a zine about cross called hot cross buns. There was zero cross coverage anywhere back in 1994 so it seemed to be a great idea.
That first meeting took place in his appt in Emeryville California. P-Bob is a true artist before anything and a cross historian. He sat me down in his living room put in a tape of the 1991 cross worlds and began to impart all (as much as one can in an interview) his knowledge of cross. It was like pouring gas on an open fire. I was hooked. The article I did about P-bob was published in the long gone california bicyclist magazine. P-bob did an amazing found object art piece we used to accompany the article that to this day blows my mind. Why is cross on my mind as we hit the spring classics season? I just can't look at a hot cross bun without thinking of P-Bob and how a chance encounter began to take over every fabric of my life. Cross no longer is just a fall pursuit for me and a lot of others it is a year-long obssession.
P-Bob's Cross Shrine with Hennie's right shoe and the words "Love it and Leave it alone."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hup Sola design ideas

Need to get a plan for the paint on the Hup Sola Mtn bike...want it to be classic, Hup Noir Inspired but unique also. So many influences...hard to be unique. Might just give the painter a Noir jersey and light some votive candles and see what she comes up with...
retro-tech classic
super dario
Vanilla Townie

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hup Hardman Ride

The Hup Hardman ride season has begun. The Katsumi Classico lead by the Nh Cross Mafia was a roaring success! No mechanicals, an epic ride, broken bodies but lifted spirits. This was one to build on. A BK simulation with heavy dose of Pain....Riders rode like angels pushing the pedals up the Poggio...Big Tom 
and Ronnie led an ardous yet incredible route filled with muddy climbs, brutal walls of pavement and high speed descents. All rode like men (and woman!) possesed. We will all triumph at BK no matter the final placings!

Friday, March 20, 2009


I am not Rad. My teammates are veryyy Rad. This woolie is the epitome of Rad. I feel a little rad wearing it...DmRoth is a God...A Hup God...Thanks to all who made this happen. A big shout out goes to james@weightsandpulleys.com for the design work...

Best Buddies 08 what's wrong with this picture

This is a picture from last year's Best Buddies ride. Hmmmm what's wrong with this picture you might ask. My wife and brother are looking fresh after 9 hrs on the bike.9 hrs seem a bit long for a Century? Hmmm

Basically this ride has almost killed the two of them at different times. Year one while exciting JFK in the pouring rain we got dropped and lost contact with the "bubble" Pam just missed being run down by a dump truck....must have been the one DPW worker in the City of Boston who didn't have a vendetta against bikers. Thank God for that.