Monday, November 30, 2009

Living Wrong

I have been Living Wrong for at least three weeks. Bike racers are supposed to Live Right. Stress free, healthy living blah, blah, blah but that ain't living. And unless you are a PRO--like really PRO ie., getting paid why are you sacrificing your life for a hobby? Even if I wanted to go all monk-like it wasn't going to happen this month. But a funny thing happened when I got sick mid-season. I got fresh. And I started getting more out of less. 

The day before Lowell I was literally driving all over the greater Boston area picking up raffle items, PA systems, going to the dump etc instead of doing my openers. Openers? That's a good joke. Openers are for people with free time. I got a lot of time but none of it is free right now. So I got to Lowell at dawn and set up shop. I literally ran from the Hup Booth to the start line after my friend James yelled at me that the 35+/45+ race was staging. Thank god the official gave us 2 minutes so I could at least rub some embro on my legs and check my tire pressure. But you know what? I had a great race. Great race. Seriously. Would I have placed any better if I did my usual openers Friday, got to the race early and went through the whole OCD ritual most of us are so tied down to? Doubt it. Maybe a place or two. But you know what I wouldn't have had as much fun and that my friends is the point right?
Dj Roberto one of the newest members of the swarm of Hup killer 3s- Photo by Lodrina

We established earlier this season and I think all agree that the racing itself will never be fun. Its just too damn painful. Yes in its pain and suffering comes some sweet moments of self realization and inner heroics. But its not fun unless you are a masochist. But everything else surrounding cross is damn fun. The training is fun. The geeking out on bike setup is fun. The racers are the coolest on the planet and are therefore really fun to hangout with. This is honestly the first season I have ever hung around at a race after my own race is over. And I am loving that part of cross this season. Hup has had at least 3 solid tailgaters. And at Sterling we had one of our best! Mark and Gina hooked us up with some incredible burgers and home fries. At least one pro stopped by to eat home fries before his race. He really wanted a burger but was pro enough to realize he would puke if he ate it. And sorry to the vegetarians in the pro women's and men's fields. Seriously. Our weber was blowing some serious smoke right onto the course. For the meat eaters it had to be torture ( in a good way) and for the non-meat eaters it was probably kinda revolting. Sorry bout that.
Big Tomeke rocking the playoff beard! -photo by Lodrina

Day 1 at Sterling was the usual suffer fest. The racing was brutal but again the tailgater and hanging out with friends was fantastic. I think I spent 9 hours at the venue eating burgers, hupcakes and freezing my butt off. Totally living wrong. I got home late and basically left all my crap in the van. In my head I'd checked out. I was pre-reg'd for Day 2 but already had decided I was out. I haven't had much luck doing double race weekends this year. Its tough with a family to be gone all weekend racing. But in the back of my mind I was itching to see what Tom Stevens cooked up for Day 2. 

Trying to get my stubby legs over the horse jump!-Photo by Soups

Day 2s course looked real promising with lots of interesting additions and a rumor of going into the woods! Sunday morning was probably the most wrong moment of this three week time span. I got up checked my email, twitter etc...had about ten cups of coffee, 2 eggo waffles with Nutella and then went in the hot tub. It was 8 am. My race was to go off at 10. I was thinking about hanging out with my wife and girls and what a nice day it would be. 

After 3 years trying to ride this hill I finally made it every time!-photo by Soups

I got out of the hottub and checked my email. One email from Eli caught my eye. All it said was "bring the grippy tires" Holy crap. That was it. I kissed my wife goodbye and raced out to the van. I drove at warp speed down rt 2 heading to Sterling. I got there literally 5 minutes before they shut down registration for my race. G-willi looked at me like I was an insane person. How can anyone show up 5 minutes before a race pin a number on and be ready to race. Its just not right. Friends that's how. Mark put my spare wheels in the pit. Eli pinned me up. I borrowed Marks Mad Alchemy coffee embro--which I am now totally hooked on. And went to staging. I got a call up and was slotted next to Ed Hammel in the 4th row. I asked him how the course looked. He asked if I prerode it. I said no. He looked at me like I had two heads. 

That said I had a great race. I was loose. When the bodies hit the floor in the first 180 I just flowed around it without freaking out. I felt faster day 2 than Day 1. Never faded. Actually got faster as the race went on. First lap was a warm up and then I just dialed in the course. I even took the time to low five Eli each time I saw him around the race course. I had so much fun on the new course it was ridiculous. That my friends is what Living Wrong is all about. There are two weeks left. Join me in Living Wrong. It will be scary at first. Maybe start with leaving the trainer at home. Do you really want to be sitting on that habittrail outside when you could be hanging out with all the cool cats before your race? Didn't think so. Come join the rest of us Fun Loving Bastards at the Hup tent...Hup Hup

Nailed to the cross! Man that runnup was brutal early on Brian providing the moto to keep me out of the wind for a lap. Thanks Brian!-photo by Soups

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stations of the Cross

God I forgot just how much I love the training piece of The Cyclocross as my friend Dj Robert refers to cross. This season has been a rough one illness-wise. Today was literally the first day I have been able to train with intensity in a month. Everyone has been sick. So I am not looking for any sympathy. Swine flu, ebolla, epstein-barr who knows...let's face it all these fancy "new" viruses get all the headlines but the common cold will kill us all in the end.

But back to the training...sure I love racing cross as much as the next guy. That is what cross is by definition--a race. You don't have to be a road racer to ride the road and enjoy it. You don't ever have to put a race plate on your mtn bike to enjoy mtn biking. But a cross bike is not a hybrid. It is not a "do everything bike" like Grant Peterson championed back in the day. Brent Steelman got this back before anyone even gave a shit about cross. In the '80s he had 2 models of handbuilt steel sexiness. A cross bike has a singular and beautiful purpose not unlike an AK-47...ok an AK doesn't have a beautiful purpose other than that one point in time when the defense of Mother Russia held in the balance but still. A cross bike, especially a modern one is a purebred racing machine.

Myerson says we can't flee who we are and he's right. Boston was never this cool when I fled 15 years ago. Or was it? But I love Boston and New England right now. When were were set to move back from Norther California 5 years ago I though this it the end...back to Boston...God help us. And as much as intellectually I should hate it here Boston is just me. It is under my skin and I love it. And one of the things that have made me love Boston is cross. Trust me its not the townies and plethora of Dunkin Donuts. Is DD even coffee? or is it just repackaged folgers? I have found what I call Stations of the Cross literally right in my backyard. I am sure all you reformed or practicing Catholics are like wtf? Is he really debasing my faith comparing a high ritual to his cross jones? No offense intended. Cross for me is that. And the Stations I visit wether it may be Olin College, the Sudbury aqueduct, Elm Bank...god even the names just get me all misty, represent a similar meditative state. It is my Church right now. I go there. I suffer. I find peace and silence (ok in between the dog walkers and creepy guys) and I get better at racing cross...
Don't look down if you are afraid of heights! Such a killah section of the cross town trail in Wellesley. My loop can vary from 1.5 hrs to 2.5. Any skill you want you can work it here...even bungy jumping I suppose if you were so inclined...
6 races in 3 weeks. That is all that is left of this cross season. I am going to savor every moment. It has been--- The. Best. Cross. Season. Evah! Thank you to all of you cross freaks that have made this season so awesome! Good luck to everybody gearing up for Bend it will be epic! And I am not just referring to the drive from PDX to Bend. Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy the last hurrah of this season. And don't forget to register for Ice Weasels!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Lion has Teeth!

This year at Shedd Park in Lowell at the BRC cross race they tried to silence the Lion of Lowellenberg....silly fools. Sure they took out the trench and replaced it with a newly built packed gravel footpath with nice drainage. But by making it "safer" and more user friendly they turned a roar into a bite with big nasty fangs that was hungry for bikers bones and bodies. 

Last year you came into the trench made it about 1/4 way through the hub deep mud and were forced to get off the bike and run the last 300 meters. This year the City improved the trail and made it fast! It was a straight and wide foot path that you could get up to warp speed in a nano-second. And in most categories you were in big groups kind of like a road race. 

Ahhh but on to the catch...there was one mud pit the full length of the trail about 10 feet long at about the exit of the section of trail. It had huge gravel ruts that you could ride/surf if you were lucky or end up like this incredible sequence taken by Natasha was utter carnage and dictated the outcome of more than one race...
That mud pit became a game changer in every race contested. I rode it every time except for one spectacular near miss with Nat. I came in hot took the far left rut and then just shot all the way right across the trail heading straight at Natasha who was crouched behind a log shooting. She kinda screamed and ducked for cover as I hit the log and just by force of will took myself out to avoid running over her...later when I went to say sorry she told me she was using her body to protect her camera! My god she is fearless! I also found out that on top of shooting some incredible pictures and posting a great write up for CXmagazine she got 3rd in the 3/4 women's race! Rock on Natasha!

If Lowell keeps building on its nasty reputation it may become the hardman's (and woman's) New England Classic...Did I mention they added a spiral of Death this year? Good times!

This time through the Forest of Lowellenberg I am keeping it all together with Billy Doonan right on my wheel! Man it was good to see him flying around like a man on a mission! What a great race! Thanks Natasha for the excellent photos!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hupcakes Rule

Those are some happy raffle winners! So much good raffle Karma flowing around all day long! 

Why cross rules #167 Hupcakes kick ass! And cross racers are just the most generous band of fun loving bastards on the planet. The fundraiser for Harry Lam at the BRC cross race in Lowell was a huge success! Thanks to everyones support we raised $825 with the raffle and sale of Hupcakes! I donated the money to the online Bikereg fund last night. Alarms may be going off at my credit card company as we speak but come on its a black mastercard doesn't that mean I am a high roller or something? And I swear I am good for it I have all the ones crumpled up in a lock box I swear...
Mark and Mike road a brilliant race in the sold out 4 race! Mark won the race in a incredible display of power coming out of a 3 man group 2nd wheel when 3rd wheel was just about to engage the slingshot at the line. Mark felt it and attacked and made it look easy. But Mike deserves a ton of credit for working with his teammate. Frankly when I saw Mark come around after the first lap leading a train of 4 guys I saw berserker was not going to end well. Mike got up to Mark talked some sense into the lad and they set to work ripping apart the rest of the field and bringing home big time Hup glory! Great job boys and congratulations Mark! Man he has worked sooo hard this season. Total inspiration and an incredible kid. Thank you to his wife Gina for all her help and keeping me from losing my mind as I juggled the raffle, the booth, bike racing and socializing...She is so great its not even funny. 

Thank you to all the Hupcake bakers! The Hupcake has become such a cool part of Hup in New England. I loved that there was so much creativity with this batch. Kerry even introduced us to the bacon muffin and Key Lime cupcakes. All cupcakes and muffins were gone before Adam Myerson could have one! That my friends is a bad as I should have had a stash for the Pro's that showed up in large numbers for the elite race. Very un-PRO of me but I am learning next time I have a PRO Hupcake stash...who knows I may send our Fidea bodyguard over to pit row next weekend as the Verge series gets back under way with a certain tribute...have I mentioned I can't wait for the last two double Verge weekends? Sterling and NBX coming up fast and furious. Its going to be incredible.

Yash is in the Haus!!!! Oh it was so good to see my brother in arms roll up looking tight! He rode over from Cambridge through some crazy ass urban riding. Deserves major props for doing so...ride to the ride...should be a motto we all adopt. He looked great, brought some great mojo to the Hup tent and intimidated many with his sheer awesomeness and good looks. 

The fundraiser never could have happened without the help of sooo many people. First of course would be the Boston Road Club and Joe Cady. Joe is the Race Director of Lowell and didn't even hesitate when I asked him if we could do the fundraiser. He was so supportive and Hup is forever in his and BRC's debt. 

On to the shout outs. First off the raffle was a huge success. I was amazed at the level of support that our sponsors gave us. This came together in less than a week. It was so short notice but not one sponsor I contacted even hesitated in offering support. And the support they did offer was so generous. So thank you to my friends for that. And seriously we all have choices when we purchase bike stuff. When it comes time please show support for those who support us by stepping up and supporting them.

So a huge thanks go out to:

Pepsi-wow, granted my wife works for Pepsi and she made this happen but seriously they kicked in some serious product. 3 ipods and a ton of beverages. Plus Pam and her friend hand made all the raffle tickets, the poster, the box and the soon to be crafted Hup letterhead for the official thank you notes!

Pedro's-Again what can I say about Pedro's. I emailed my good friend Matt and he was back to me in a moments notice with some incredible stuff. A Super Pit Kit on Steroids! Not just any Pit Kit (which by itself is totally covetous by all cross racers) but one that had such great extras as a demi torque wrench and a carbon multi tool. He also gave us 2 other bike care kits.  Incredible. What a cool company that is so 100% behind cycling and just does it right. Give them some serious love next time you are even considering buying lube or bike tools. Thanks Matt!

Mad Alchemy-One of my all time favorite companies. And one of my all time favorite bike racers. Pete Smith is amazing. Love love love his embrocation and his chamois creme. Pete was so cool and got us some great embrocation and chamois creme for the raffle. He even dropped off a bunch of extra goodies to add which were much appreciated. Thanks Pete!

We had some amazing support from some great local bike shops who donated gift certificates, a helmet, coffee, socks...the list is too long. Thank you to:

Zanconato-Not only did Mike Z donate a ton of his new woolie logo'd socks to raffle off he had two incredible Swiss Cowbells in the swag bag! The socks are just amazing wool goodness and the was tough letting those go...the runnups are going to be a little louder in the next couple of weeks as those bells are the Thor's Hammer of cowbells. Thanks Mike!

Theo Paul-Who knew Paul could make such incredible wool hats. Do you see that amazing hat in the picture above Theo made that! It is gorgeous and he uses some amazing imagery and designs. Check his hats out when you get a chance they are works of art!

Richard Fries-I am sure most of you know him as the announcer of the Verge series. I have been friends with Richard for almost 10 years. We go way back as Editors of regional cycling publications. Basically we were separated at birth. Except he can multi-task me into the ground. Watching what he pulled off in Providence at his PVD Verge race was nothing less than impressive. But anyway I called him literally last minute to see if he had a PA system I could borrow for the announcer and to play some block rocking beats at the venue. He almost instantly sent me an email back with a how to and an invitation to go pick up all the stuff I needed. Such an amazing friend. Thank you Richard! Your friendship and generosity mean a lot

Thanks also go out to all my Hup teammate and their families for baking Hupcakes and for helping with the raffle and the booth. Thank you to the Cambridge Bike team for all their Support. And thank you to all you amazing cross racers who came by and bought raffle tickets and hung out and supported a great cause!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fallen Hero

Photo by

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.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Harry Lam Fundraiser at Lowell CX

As if you needed a good reason to go to Shedd Park in Lowell and race the BRC CX race on Saturday Nov 21st. Need I remind you of this? The Forest of Lowellenberg! It was by far one of the most insane additions to any cross course last year. I just hope its epic nastiness can be recreated. Then again I destroyed two brand new tubies in that Forest so maybe just a little less epic would be nice.

But while the racing at Lowell is sure to be off the hook you can also go and support a good cause and get a chance at winning some insanely great swag. Looking at the swag list it is going to be all I can do to resist the urge to pack it all in the back of my van and head for the border. Seriously it is that good!

Ok so some background as to why BRC and Hup are doing a fundraiser. A UCI official named Harry Lam was hurt badly at the Verge race at Northampton. He was involved in an accident at the end of one of the races on Day 1. He suffered some pretty serious head trauma. He is from Utah and is a father of three. You can imagine the impact it can have on a family when a loved one is sent to the hospital 3,000 miles away. Bikereg set up a fund for him and it inspired us to do our own fundraiser locally. We feel it is the right thing to do to try and help Harry and his Family out as much as we can. 

Hup is putting on a fundraiser starting in the am. And one of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how quickly the bike industry rallies to support each other. I have to say a huge thanks to my friends at Pedros, Mad Alchemy, Landry's, Zanconoto as well as a very generous donor who wanted to remain anonymous.

The fundraiser will include a raffle full of the aforementioned swag, and a fundraiser in which we will sell Hupcakes, beverages, bagels, and other goodies. All the proceeds will go to Harry and his family. The raffle tickets will cost $5 each. It is possible a Hupcake will come with every raffle ticket! We will do prize drawings after each race. Get there early and get your raffle tickets at the Hup booth!

The prize list includes:
-3 ipods
-A Pedros Super Pit kit that is filled to the gills with extra Pedros bling including Critical Mass Carbon multi-tool, tire levers, Demi Torgue wrench, Super Prestige Pump worth $300; Pedros has also generously donated A chain machine kit, and a total bike care kit
-Mad Alchemy embrocation
-Landry's has offered up 3 x $25 gift certificates to their store
-Zanconoto has donated some seriously cool wool socks and other swag
And this is just the tip of the swag iceberg! See why I want to be like the Grinch who stole Christmas and just make off with all this loot! Do the right thing get to Lowell buy some raffle tickets and get a chance at winning some amazing prizes all while enjoying the crossawesomeness that is Lowell and helping out a good cause. 
The Hup Booth will be right by the start finish after checking in at registration come on by, buy a raffle ticket, eat a Hupcake, and hang out. And don't forget we'll have a celebrity announcer on the M.I.C! Thanks for all your support any questions hit me with an email at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fat Tire Wednesdays

Hence forth Wednesdays will be all about the small and fat tires. One month left of cross season. Mid-week playing in the woods is good for the soul. I can't even look at my road bike right now. And I've had to cannibalize the shit out of it anyway for this year's A cross bike. Damn I even had to cannibalize parts off my wife's old Lemond...and she busted me! That was pretty Hott actually. Not only is my wife sexy as hell, smart and funny but she know's bikes enough to tell when her dirt bag husband has poached her nice clincher wheels for his cross bike...oopsies...Luckily she is very understanding this time of year. Its a three month window right? And then back to normal...well kinda.
Went out to Caryl Park and Hale Reservation in Dover. It seemed totally foreign as all the leaves are on the ground. Makes it harder to cue on turns in the trail. I got lost a few times. Got so lost I hung the bike in a tree sat down and ate a clif bar. Listened to the wind through the trees and just chilled. Damn I love mountain biking in the Fall. I can't remember the last ride I went on that I wasn't either doing intervals or rushing to get home. It was fantastic. The only thing missing was some teammates. It did also cross my mind that if I stacked it hard I'd be pretty f'd all alone in the woods with no one having a clue where I was. But that thought passed quickly thankfully.
The trail elves have been busy and some of the "trails" I found this summer are still in great shape. The leaves actually made it easier to ride some stuff I usually freak out on as the ax head rocks were all hidden beneath a blanket of brown. It also made for some pretty sketchy dismounts as it was almost more hazardous portaging the bike across some stuff than riding it. 
Great day out on the bike. Sola is riding tight. Almost ripped the entire rear end off the bike when I somehow sucked up an enormous branch into the rear triangle. But guess what? Ti is stronger than wood. Wonder how a plastic bike would have done? Probably not so well...

***Cross PSA-A UCI Official was involved in an accident at Noho last weekend. He was badly hurt. A fund has been set up to help with his medical costs which likely will be substantial. Please do what you can

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why must he torture me like this?

I totally ripped these pictures off Paul's Rock Lobster blog to illustrate a point. Why does he torture me like this? My god I have zero bike budget for 2010 and he makes this? I am screwed. I have to have this...its just a fact. That road bike is gorgeous! Look at it. And go to Paul's blog  @ to read the details. Because with Paul its what is beneath the skin that is so special trust me. He is one of the true master frame builders in the U.S. of A. No argument. By any measure he is a master. The plan to have one of these ready for Battenkill starts now....maybe with a little Ultegra 6700 hmmm

Back in Black

The top of the runnup never felt so good. My god that runnup kills me...if the tape was a rescue line I'd use it to pull myself up that sketchy hill cause running seemed like a crawl with my stubby legs

I forgot just how badass the Hup Noir kit is. I have been rocking Blanco for the last month since we got it as its been so warm this fall. Noho on Day 1 was pretty cold for the Masters 45+ race. Not freezing like some years up at Noho but high 30s low 40s. Perfect weather for the Noir thermal skinny! We are so lucking on Hup to have such amazing kit. 

This year so many teams have taken their kit up to incredible levels. Embrocation, Svelte, Cambridge (its always been cool in my mind) and yes even Geekhouse. But Hup still is the tops in my mind and the choices we get are amazing-Belgian Bleu, Blanco and most of our all time favorite Noir. Natasha was the official photographer of the race and did an amazing job. She always does an amazing job but like often happens with your friends sometimes you just forget how talented they are until you see them at work. Kudos to Nat she really kicks ass! She's so PRO she can actually make me look like I don't totally suck on a cross bike as these two photos she took up at Noho illustrate. Thanks Natasha for that I really appreciate it.

My favorite part of Noho! The crazy off camber drop off...this year it got my attention a bit more as it was literally my first ride on my sexy new FMB grippos...the glue job was barely dry...dry enough though thankfully!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hup Hup Hup

Lodrina sent me this gorgeous photo of the new Hup United Noir Banner. Really the first time that standard flew in action. My good friend George printed it up for me for the sole purpose of kicking Hups booth up another notch. I love how Lo captured the Lion of Flanders and the sun shining through it with the Ksyrium in the foreground. Noho really was an amazing weekend of cross. Words can't even give it stop the Forest of Lowellenberg! I sooooo hope for the mucky muck like last year. That was one of the most insane races of the whole season. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lead, Follow or get out of the way

"Hey Mr Silver 7 series BMW lead, follow or get out of the way! The passing lane is for passing!" My god what is wrong with people on the highways? Seriously don't they even have a remote grasp of either the vehicle code or at least common sense? I drive about 1 percent of the amount of time the rest of you all do. My "commute" is about 5 minutes from my "office" to drop my kids at school. But damn. Driving the Pike kills me during cross season. And you know what Massholes are not, I repeat not, the worst drivers in America that distinction easily goes to drivers from CT and NY. I guess it was parents weekend at Colleges all across Western Mass....but come on. So let's review just for yucks...from the interwebs:

"Common Practice and most law on United States Highways is that the left lane is reserved for passing and faster moving traffic, and that traffic using the left lane must yield to traffic wishing to overtake.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's website on "Keep Right Laws" points out that: This law refers to the "normal" speed of traffic, not the "legal" speed of traffic. The 60 MPH driver in a 55 MPH zone where everybody else is going 65 MPH must move right..."

It is also illegal in many states in the U.S. to use the "far left" or passing lane on a major highway as a travelling lane (as opposed to passing), or to fail to yield to faster moving traffic that is attempting to overtake in that lane. For example, Colorado's "Left Lane Law" states:

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed-limit is sixty-five miles per hour or more unless such person is passing other motor-vehicles that are in a non-passing lane...(emphasis added)

Other examples, such as Massachusetts (General Statute 89-4B), New Jersey, Maine, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and others, make it illegal to fail to yield to traffic that seeks to overtake in the left lane, or to create any other "obstruction" in the passing lane that hinders the flow of traffic. As a result, heavy trucks are often prohibited from using the passing lane."

Ok end of rant. But damn...don't they know I need to get back to my babies? 

Hup and Geekhouse circled the wagons for CSI's Noho weekend. I picked up Nitro, or as I like to call him, at Landry's right around rush hour Friday night to deliver him to Myerson swinger party errr I mean Number Pick up Party in Easthampton...JB is in true Flava Flave fashion the voice of the velorution for the Verge series. And he is doing a damn fine job I might add pumping out pressers as fast as resultsboy can get him the data. It was an impressive sight to watch. Those two are on it! 

We got up there right as the party was kicking into gear. Grabbed our numbers which seemed very PRO at the time but then some real PROs arrived and heckled us....well me actually for being old and slow and trying to be PRO. We mingled, ate really bad food that was really good if you know what I mean, drank really good beer and watched some World Cup on a wall sized flat screen tv until the Jr's discovered there was an Xbox and then that was that as they say. Bumped into a friend who I hadn't seen in literally two decades. Twice in two weeks....crazy. What a small world the cycling world is sometimes. Thanks Adam and Al for the hospitality it was a really nice touch and everyone had a great time.

What happens at the swinger party stays at the swinger party...well it wasn't all that it was actually a really nice way to just chill out talk with Adam and Al in a low key atmosphere and get stoked for the race. Have I mentioned that Northampton is probably my favorite race of the year? Love it. And since Rosey introduced us to the VIP suites at the Quality Inn my love for it has grown exponentially...We packed so many bikers into one suite slated for 3 occupants that I thought for sure the inn keeper was going to call the cops. I kept having flash backs to college dorm life. Man these young guys either are going to be the death of me or are going to be the fountain of youth for me...time will tell which. If race results are part of the equation it certainly is panning out to be the later as I had the ride of my life at Noho on Day 1....but the look on my wife's face as I recounted some of our sleeping/living arrangements painted a slightly different story. 

Noho was such a great weekend of hanging out with friends and teammates that the racing almost became secondary. Make no mistake this was probably some of the hardest fought racing I've seen this year in all categories and the course Adam and JD put together was probably the fastest and toughest I've raced. They switched things up a bit starting and finishing on the lower section of Look Park. All my favorite sections were still in place like the 180 sandpit, the sketchy run up and rooted upper section (why do I love those turny roots so much) and the drop off!

For some bizarre reason since getting sick I am faster. How is that even possible? Either the swine flu or what ever I had has muted in my body and turned me into some mutant swine cross racer or I just have fresh legs from the 2 weeks off. I think Al is kind of some Evil genius as well to be honest. Evil and crazy smart that is. I am training (or have been) so specifically that it is supercharging my racing. And he did an amazing job just getting me through being sick, helping me trust the training and to not over do it while I was sick...whatever it was it has been working magic. 

For my race I just lucked out. I was on brand new tubies (Thanks Molly!) that were sooo perfect. It was a total leap of faith. Molly hooked me up with some new FMB grippos. They are a racing ralph tread on an FMB casing. What is so cool about these is that Schwalbe sent francois the actual rubber tread that he can then glue straight on his casing without having to cut it off a clincher tire. By doing this you eliminate the extra casing that would be stuck on the old clincher rubber and making for a stiffer ride. So to review brand new tire I've never used, freshly glued that week and never ridden before...was I worried? Hell no I drank the Molly koolaid long ago if Molly says it works I trust her. And as for my mechanics glue on. Ok maybe the first time I flew down the drop off I was praying the glue job held, then each time I did a table top jump over the train tracks but other than that it never even crossed my mind.

So how did I like the tires? Oh my god. They are sooo fasst and just float over stuff. I was able to surf through the sand pit at warp speed carve the corner onto the grass make the 180 and then power back out while everyone else was running. No lie. And trust me it wasn't the rider it was the rubber. I need to say a big thank you to Tom Stevens. Seriously, he is a legend and any time I've been racing this year I have been watching him to see what he does. He is a true master and I lucked out to be able to follow his wheel for a lot of the race. He took me to places I didn't even think possible. What a cross racer he is! We were passing people at warp speed just finding lines that were faster and smoother each lap. When he crossed the finish line he literally collapsed on the ground from the effort. Now that is leaving it all on the course. I staggered around wanting to fall down but luckily Lo was right there with a water and kept me from falling over 'cause I never would have gotten up. Thanks Lo and thanks for the kick ass mini cupcakes/muffins!

What a fantastic weekend of cross. There was a bad crash at the end of the Elite masters and our prayers and thoughts go out to those involved. Ride safe, ride fast and love cross every chance you get cause the season is sooo close to being done...Hup Hup

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How do you ride a mtn bike again?

Seriously. How do you ride a mountain bike again? I haven't been on my mountain bike since summer. It was totally intentional as I was killing myself riding both bikes. Literally. My Seven Sola is incredible. And it makes up for a lot of my crappy technical ability with its disc brakes and suspension. My cross bike has neither disc brakes or suspension as its a C.R.O.S.S bike. It took me a bunch of hard crashes on my cross bike to realize I better put away the mtn bike and just ride the cx bike so I would remember just what is rideable on a cx machine and what is not.

But I have missed mtn biking I really have. Summer was filled with some amazing mtn bike rides. I found some trails that are minutes from my door that are like a wonder land. I got to ride with some really cool people and had a blast. So after being lazy all morning dreading a sprint workout on the cx bike I just pulled the sola off the hook and was like Hell yeah I'll go mtn biking. It was awesome to be back on that bike. It just fits me so well. But it is a bit like a Newfoundland puppy it is just a big  happy, slow drooly bundle of fun...Man is it slooowww on the pavement! But I was tired and slow was good. I am supposed to be recovering not hammering right now.
I rolled down to Cutler to do the route from Thom P's weds night ride. Holy crap I have lost all the ninja skills I gained last summer! The color explosion that was the peak of foliage in NE apparently has now turned burnt umbre and has deposited itself all over the trails covering every nasty wheel sucking root and axe head rock. It was like riding on marbles...I rode off the trail about ten times because you could no longer discern trail from brambles. Had to sit there a few times and scratch my head trying to figure out just exactly where the trail went...Its possible I fell under some fairie spell while in the woods and am lucky to have emerged unscathed...

Its got me thinking about the end of cross season a bit. Don't want to get ahead of myself as I love cross but last summer I just kind of let myself enjoy the bike didn't matter if it was cross, road, mtn or ladies three speed. If it had two wheels and I could push the pedals towards some destination it pretty much kicked ass. I am definitely racing and riding my mtn bike a lot next spring and summer. I am definitely doing Battenkill in April. I am itching for some long road rides...Cape in a day? Harpoon to Harpoon? Lot of options...Lots of planning and plotting to do no doubt. For now just going to soak up every minute of cross but I think I may avoid...PCSD this year...most years I go in a post-cross season funk that lasts months...don't think it will happen this year.

So in light of the season winding down a quick Hot/Not download: 

1. Fango tires: People turned on these tires faster than anything I have ever witnessed. These were the HOTT tires last year. Sure there were some red flags with people having trouble with the 34s. There were some quality control issues. But most people loved these tires. This season...not so much. The Fango pretty much got blamed for everything...Swine Flu? Had to be the fango. Global warming? definitely the Fango's fault. Nitro showing the budding flair for investigative journalism even got the quote of the season from Joachim Parbo (who helped in the design of the tire) "we'll get it right next time." ouch that hurts. 

I personally liked the tire a lot. But I think I now know why people hate it and have such a visceral reaction. Its not a mud tire. It is basically a Dugast Typhoon. Look at the two pictures below...very similar. So I for one will probably use them again next year. They are a fast grass tire that has some bite for mud but repeat after me they are not a mud tire!
2. Campy Rocks/Campy Sucks. I love love love Campy. Campy saved my ass just yesterday. For reals. Reason # 167 why I love campy shifters. I am rolling along on my CX bike just spinning when the whole front wheel gets jacked up by a root. My left hand flies off the bars I am going to crash hard. My left pinky catches the thumbshifter at the last moment and I pull it back down and ride it out. If I was on sram or shimano I would be in a cast right now.

Why does Campy suck? I can relate to the Fango hate I really can. Cross is probably the one discipline where you do not have time or patience for equipment that doesn't work or last. It can be immensely personal obviously or it can just be mechanical. I tried to make campy cranks work for cross but the suck. One muddy race and the bearings would be shot to hell. The TA outer ring never worked with the campy front derailler at all...

So I put Dura Ace on with the sexy D/A 46t cross outer ring and haven't looked back...It just works. All the time everytime and the bearings are still smooth as silk after one of the muddier cross seasons we've had lately in New England.

3. Assos no more on my Ass...ok that's a crude subhead but hard to resist. I loved Assos chamois creme. Then they changed the Its like changing the recipe for just don't mess with perfection. I tried the new Assos but wasn't feeling it. Then Pete Smith comes out with two chamois cremes! Pro and Euro! Wow. I will never go back. They are both great chamois cremes....if I was to pick one it would be Euro as it has a really nice aroma to it...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gaps only open at Canton

Thom Parson as either the Policeman from the Village People or Adam Craig photo by Uri Halevi
"Canton is like a mid-season Sucker Brook" I forgot who I heard say that but it is sooo true. There were something like 107 prereg'd 4s! Noho has 1/2 that and its a combined 4 and 35+ 4 category like in the old days....Canton is for a lack of a better word a New England classic. It is a fast but interesting track that is often really windy and is held on Halloween. Nothing says Fall like Halloween and cross put the two together and you get something special...sure you also get Thom Parson showing up as what I first thought was a trashy trucker but now think it has to be some play of Adam Craigs old 70s porn star Single Speed Worlds alter-ego...or maybe he was the policeman from the Village People. Either way as usual he was a rock star and such a cool guy.

It was a great time. Hup was out in full force. When I showed up to the venue it was a mob scene. I bumped into so many friends it took me about a half hour just to walk the 300 yards from my car to the reg tent. God I love cross season. After getting my number and talking to the Seven cartel I got to see my man Dj Robert leading the Juniors/Goguen train around the pavement! My god DJ is putting out some watts right now! And he has got time make those young guys do the work my brother they have an endless supply of energy in those legs.
It was Blanco weather! Man was it hot for Oct 31st in New England. 70 degrees and the sky looked like flying monkeys would appear at any moment

Myerson said it best and its true. We were all so close first lap and then the gaps opened and it was all over but the attempt to put out more watts to catch back on...
Marky Mark Jr getting passed by Barney? or is it a pink shark...god I hope Mark passed him back up the road. If not there is no shame being beaten by a pink shark they are fast...

Ronnie hopping those barriers! Yeah man he is rocking it!

*All the photos used (except for Uri's) were from Soups aka Mark Suprenant-bike racer and photographer extraordinaire! It was so good to see him walking around after breaking his leg at PVD. Once again he has lived up to his nickname as Superman. That has to be the fastest healing from a broken leg on record. Great to see you Soups and thanks for the photos.