Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Year of the Pig

Of course it is technically the Year of the Ox but that is semantics. For me this was the Year of the Pig. I was poised to do some big wrap up post but frankly I can't even process just what went down over the course of the last four months and my brain is so scattered from trying to cram an entire Christmas worth of shopping in two days its amazing I can even form a complete sentence at this point. Basically I am coming to the realization that I am Dexter and cross is my dark passenger. But I am a professional and brain dead or not let's give it a go before its 2010... here are some of the highlights for me this cross season:

1.) My coach and the punk rock King of American Cyclo-cross. There I said it I have a coach. I haven't been hiding it perse. But I haven't been widely broadcasting it. I signed on with Cycle-Smart right after C-S cross camp and I haven't looked back. Al Donahue and Adam Myerson who ran the camp are fantastic coaches and know so much about cross. My good friend TheJeffreyBramhall.com persuaded me to go to the C-S camp and I am so glad he did. I learned sooo much that day and what it really did was open my eyes to how much better a crosser I could become under the tutelage of Adam & Al.

Ed Hamel's farm where the camp was held is like a cross wonderland. He has acres of land set up with different course features. You want runnups? He has them in spades. You want double barriers? No crappy pvc to be found here just a four pack of doubles so you can go round and round and be flying over the barriers in no time. I love to train specifically and have a bunch of places I go to get my cross on but could you imagine having a cross course in your backyard? Cross camp just kicked my whole season up another notch. I will be back next year no doubt about it.

Coaching for me has been huge. Not just the training, although Al wrote up some great plans, but the whole immersion into the cross game from a C-S philosophy. C-S is kind of like Northern Long fist Kung Fu...it is not like any other coaching game around. Might not be right for you but for me there can only be one style of fighting for me from now on.

Having Adam and Al giving me advice was like having an Ace up my sleeve every weekend...Al's plan was very flexible and responsive as things changed over the course of the season..ie, my 3 weeks of the flu! How he got me through 3 weeks of a nasty flu and to the other side where I was flying at NBX still blows me away and is the best endorsement I could ever give him. He also has great local knowledge of courses and how to tackle them, in a word: He rocks.

I call it the Year of the Pig in reference to the pig trophy he is holding with my name on it above....if that wasn't a sign that he'd be my coach this year I don't know any other explanation for it. I didn't even know who Al Donahue was at the time that photo was taken. And I certainly had no idea he was a coach or even envisioned he would become my coach. He is my coach now and I look at it as Kismet.

2.) Weds Am Worlds @ Lars Anderson: My friend Rosey gets a Golden Hupcake Award a little late for his Weds Am Worlds at Lars Anderson Park in JP...I knew I was going to miss a few things when I did my awards show and this was one of them. Big slip up on my part sorry Rosey it was totally lame of me to leave Weds Worlds out.

Every cross racer worth a damn has a couple of secret training spots. I have about three. But its mostly stealth training and if I am lucky I get maybe one other person to ride with me. Usually its me and the dog walkers and creepy dudes. 90% of the time I am all alone chasing my shadow in circles. I suspect that is the case for most riders. Around August Rosey established a totally badass crack o dawn cross World's practice/trainig race. I think the first couple of sessions there were about 5 of us by the end I think Rosey had like 20 riders. I only made it a handful of times, next year it will be mandatory.

Lars Worlds benefitted from one of the 2009 season's greatest revelation's "Cross in a Bag." Cross in a Bag is sort of like Dr Seus's Fun-In-a-Box. Although instead of Thing 1 and Thing 2 coming out you get two sets of collapsable pvc barriers and a ton of orange soccer cones. You can create a cross course in minutes and then it can disappear in a blink of an eye. Perfect for bandit cross and for dodging cops when they decide to break up your impromptu Fight Club.

Rosey handled the pressures of the local groundskeepers concerns over his fiefdom (ie baseball fields grass!) with a calmness and diplomacy unusual for a biker. Instead of us all getting banned (or arrested or tazed!) a compromise was made after a few fits and starts with Boston's finest and the head groundskeeper, and Weds am Worlds lived on even with an ever growing start list of Bostons best cross racers. Chapeau to Rosey not just for being a kick ass organizer, course designer and drill sergeant he fought for our place at the park when it seemed like we were history.

What Weds World's did for me was allow me to get a good race simulation in mid-week. It also taught me my most valuable lesson this year about getting faster. You want to get fast hang out with fast people. Rosey is fast. 90% of the riders who showed up at World's were wayyy faster than me. This sucked at times but paid huge dividends in December. Running past DJ Robert and heckling him for doing weeks of stairs at Harvard stadium and yet getting owned by an admitted slow runner up a stone staircase was priceless! I paid later for this momentary Hubris when he ripped my legs and lungs off at the next grassy hillclimb section. But that is what Am Worlds was all about rip each other apart so we can slay when the real bullets started flying.

So thanks Rosey and sorry for the late award. I'll make your Golden Hupcake a double...1 for Weds Worlds and 1 for being a badass!
3.) Blanco: Blanco oh my god. There was no denying the power of blanco this year. I was a little shy about it at first. I mean I am old and sort of Zaftig do people really want to see me in a white skinsuit? Probably not. Yash yeah he looks PRO. But once I embraced Blanco there was no denying it made me faster. I remember the first race I lined up in Blanco right next to Tom Stevens. He took one look at it gave it his thumbs up and that was all the endorsement I needed. It is not an every race kit...it is totally SSC for special races...but when you put it on you just feel like you are racing with jets on!

4.) Hup's got Talent: Hup has some real talent on and off the race course. We got to witness first hand the creative talent of one Tom Needham. Not only is he a powerhouse on the course he penned 2 of the most hilarious cross inspired social networking pieces I've ever seen. First at the beginning of the season he hit us with a long form rap on Twitter. I humbly submit to you Tom's pre-season cross rap "Embro on the Knuckles"

embro on the knuckles. metacarpals feelin' supple.

clickity click for the Gloustah Worlds /

even in pre-reg i hope not to get girl'd!

Cantis dialed in / Paul Neo Retro /

who needs to stop? / MiniVees for Zanconato?

Run ups at Putney / embro my legs with a mango chutney /

aqualseal the Dugasts before it gets muddy

Dismount for barriers, no studder step remount /

smoove like Wellens, kickin' these jams out

In mud i got Rhynos. Dirt I roll the Grifos /

and if it fast like Gloustahh I'll drop you w/ Pipastrellos!

Cyclocross, it's the name of the game / 26 PSI and I corner like Page

That's part haiku part hard core cross rap...He followed that up right before The Ice Weasels Cometh with what has to be the best Xtranormal video to date which can be found here http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/5797855/. Well played sir. Missed racing with him this year. I think we were on the same course twice this year.

Ok that's all I got...I cannot muster the mental fortitude to do a traditional recap of what worked and didn't work...you don't need to hear about why 18 psi was too low at Ice Weasels do you? No of course not...What a great year. Who knows what 2010 will hold...lots of skate skiing talk, lots of mtn bike talk! woohooo can't wait to race mtn bikes proper next year.

Santa I don't know if I have been naughty or nice...tough call...ask the Decadent Dog Walker and he'd probably say naughty. But here's what I want...34 Dugast Rhynos, Mad Alchemy Coffee embrocation, a giant Cowbell, and some Noir B sample!!!!

Happy Holidaze !!!


  1. 18 psi too low??

    It's not that the tire's too soft. It's that you're too soft.

    You heard me, buddy!

    You're still the man though. See you on the snow ormountain bike!

  2. Guess what, 2010 is the Chinese year of the cock.

  3. thanks for the shout out chip. lars became a job (in a good way). every wednesday morning I'd drag my carcass out of bed knowing there were at least 5 other people expecting their weekly punishment. i hope we can do it again in 2010.