Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bulletin Board Fodder

"He is my number one Crossresults victim. He is not supposed to beat me. In fact, I not-so-secretly consider him to be my Grim Reaper. Chip is a good cross racer but he does not race road and could stand to lose a few kilos (that's free Nega-Coaching there dude)."

Damn that stings but sometimes a rival gives you something a teammate and friend never would. I have had some amazing mentors this last season. Really I have been thinking about just the right way to blog about it....2011 is right around the corner can a negative become a positive? We shall see...McCrazy may be pissed off doing three hour trainer rides hoping for redemption at Battenkill. Redemption from what I don't know but he appears to be on a mission. I guess we are all on a mission as it is the "off-season" No more monday morning "I had a great start but...." Next year's cross season

Snow Daze

Biking in Winter gets a bad rap. People dread it. People hide in their basements and ride the trainer while staring at a wall...or a tv...or a computrainer. I would rather have every appendage on my body turn into frozen stumps than not ride outside. The winter to me is the most magical season of the year. Yeah it is cold. You need to be sort of smart about how you ride, what you wear etc. It takes some thought. But the rewards are off the charts.
Fresh tracks in the woods are surreal. The woods gets so quite in the winter. Anyone you see is genuinely happy to see you. Anyone in the woods during the winter no matter their reason for being there shares the same spirit. Sliding around on trails that wouldn't even register on your radar during the rest of the year sharpens the mind. You can't be off in another space worrying about your job, your life etc. You have to be present. The second you aren't present you crash. It is a very Zen-like experience
Riding with these boys and Thom Parsons who was off trying to ride off a cliff at the time of this photo was hilarious. These boys all can ride a bike. I mean Greg Whitney literally had to talk me off a ledge a couple of times. But you know what? Between the constant laughing and shenanagins I started to get my flow back on the VTT. Not even close to being a mtn biker but the potential is there.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rookie of the Year

Joy at one of the first Waffle Crosses at Wheelworks in Belmont. Also pictured are Starr and Andy Huff

I can still remember a conversation I had with SBZ last winter about developing the women's side of the team for Hup New England. I jokingly would refer to her as DS of Hup Feminine. It was obvious to me that something had to be done as we only had two women on the team for as long as I had been on Hup. Two fantastic women mind you but still we needed to put some focus on that side of the team. The two of them, Meg and Kerry were and still are two of my greatest mentors. They keep me focused, keep my head from spinning off my body and are always a great sounding board for anything Hup related. Last year at 24 hrs of Great Glen Kerry singlehandedly saved our 4-person expert team from cracking to pieces at about 2 a.m. She was a huge part of why we had such a great race. But I digress. Back to that ride with SBZ. A bunch of us met in Lexington for a long ride in January. It was maybe 20 degrees, there was black ice on the tarmac and we rode a slow easy pace. It lent itself to conversation. You had to do something to take your mind of the pain of frozen hands and feet. During that ride I asked a lot of questions about how we could foster a team that would be inclusive to strong women riders. She pretty much told me everything I needed to know. It didn't hurt that DJ Robert's good friend Jenn joined the team around that time as well. She brought so much to our squadra at that time it wasn't even funny. I owe, Meg, Kerry, Jenn and SBZ a lot. We would not be the team we are right now without them.
Joy at the bottom of the "chute" at Loon. Loon was a cross baptism by fire for lots of people and Joy had such a great attitude about it. We pre-rode that chute like ten times. It was nuts.

Last year I created a "Rookie of the Year" award on this blog. You would never know it from my horrible writing ability but I come from a magazine background. As much as the last ten years of being a Rock Star stay-at-home dad have fried more brain cells than I care to count I can not resist falling back on some of my publishing habits when blogging. Awards and end of year recaps are the bread and butter of the magazine business. What I look for in the Rookie of the Year award is equal parts a rider who improved the most over the span of the season and a new Hupster who has embraced what we do 100% or in cx vernacular "gets it." Joy Stark gets it. There was no doubt in my mind she is the Rookie of Year for Hup New England. She has contributed so much to our Band of Brothers and Sisters this year its not even funny.
Gloucester aka New England Worlds was a tipping point for women's cross in New England! 100 women lined up to race the 3/4 category! That is not a trend that is a paradigm shift! Pictured from L-R: Joy, Michele and Jenn

Picking Joy as Rookie of the Year wasn't easy by any means. We have so many new talented and awesome riders both male and female this year. The team is just on a roll right now! I am so proud of what Hup New England has become in a few short years. But what Joy accomplished in four months is nothing short of amazing. I remember the first time I met her at one of the first Waffle Cross rides at Wheelworks in Belmont. She seemed really nice but kind of quite. I think one of the funniest things we talked about was the death of the cupcake and that macaroons would be the next big thing. Hilarious. The fact that she did Battenkill the day before this ride and was able to function spoke volumes to how tough she is. I could barely walk for days after the last time I did Battenkill let alone do a 60 k mixte ride on cross bikes. Waffle Cross did so much for cross this season. It was a way for all of us to get together during the off-season and keep cross on the membrane.
My personal favorite Hupcake of the entire season! The gourmet hostess cupcake at Noho! Yes there was a cream filling..

It didn't take too many rides with Joy for me to realize she would be great on Hup. Jenn got to know her pretty well over the summer from road racing as well and it just made sense and she joined Hup in September. At the first race of the season in Bedford it became very apparent my services as Hupcake baker would no longer be needed. Joy showed up with a cupcake carrying case and a dozen of the finest cupcakes known to man- or womankind. The Hup tailgater v.2.0 started that day and I have to say those Hupcakes and the ones she cooked all season long took our tailgating/hupcake game to an entirely different level. The fact that Meg gave Joy the nod over Hannah as baker of best Hupcake speaks volumes. So certainly the voting was somewhat swayed by her cupcake creating prowess but that is really only 1/3 of the story. Joy brought so much to Hup this year.
Death of a Molly Cameron SSC FMB by ninja stars at died a warrior's death. Not to worry we gave it a Viking funeral

Joy has also become the default Hup House of Style. Yash Katsumi's departure to the UK as an International Man of Mystery left a HUGE void in Hup New England. Yash still has so much style its not even funny. With his departure I feared we would lose all our style. They were big sidis to fill but Joy filled them. Joy pretty much singlehandedly brought Blanco back from the vault. Yash championed Blanco. He always looked fantastic in it. When he left a lot of us were just too self conscious to wear it. But Joy rocked it all season long. Her style is beyond words. She has elevated our game to the point that even I, a man with the least style on the planet, rocked Blanco once this season! Granted I wore it at Ice Weasels and my attempt at high style was lost on the crowd to Mike Wissell's cross strip tease but what are you gonna do? Hard to compete with a man disrobing every lap at a cross race. The point is Joy really is the acting Hup House of Style right now and for that I personally am so thankful.
Joy at the Harpoon double barriers/beer zone at Ice Weasels showing off some mad cx skillz. So much in this picture just captures how far she has come in one season. There are pros who don't do the planks like this. For bonus points what am I referring to? And I take no credit she learned this at Adam and Al's camp

Ok all those things are great and make for a terrific teammate and embody a lot of what Hup is all and fun. Hup has never been about winning cross races. Teams that get so focused on winning are usually made up of a bunch of people you would not want to hang around with. Type A and fun don't usually mix. But Hup is a racing team. No doubt about it. We are not a club. We may race road, mtb and do "epic" rides but we are first and last a cross racing team. So racing matters. To me and to Hup its not only that you race its HOW you race. Class, honor, toughness, aggressiveness, with style. Those are the things that matter to us. We will not tolerate tantrums, whining, poor sportsmanship etc. Not saying you can't lose it once in a while but when it defines you you probably aren't Hup material.
Bringing Blanco back! Joy is the newly appointed Hup House of Style. No doubt about it.

When I think back on Joy's season a couple of stories stand out as far as Joy's racing. She is a natural athlete. Obviously. She has a background as a very successful collegiate athlete. She competed in Head of the Charles in the middle of cross season. She also completed an MBA program and has a real job all during cx season. Did I mention she did 21 cross races this season? That is dedication. I didn't really get it until I read a story in SI about rowing recently. The culture and training are mind boggling. It explains a lot. Rowers are wayyy tougher than bike racers. Trust me. One story that just sums up her mental toughness and one of the reasons why she is Rookie of the Year is what happened on Day 2 at Noho. Ironically it was also her "worst" race of the season. Joy had a great season as a cat 4. At Verge races in the 3/4 race she would be in the mix with the 3s. She got faster each and every race. She had a great Day 1 at Noho. Day 2 the course had some features that caused fits for a lot of categories. There is that picture from the masters 35+ race that sadly we cannot "unsee." It was a 180 turn pretty early in the lap with a "hump" that you had to negotiate it was pretty much a run in traffic but some tried to ride it.
On the top step of the podium at Velocross.

Joy got caught up in a big crash in this section. Bodies, bikes etc were flying and tangled. After the scrum when she got her bike back the brand new rear FMB looked like it had been the victim of a shark attack. Her bike was now Fubar. She was about 1/4 mile to the pit. Did Joy have a meltdown throw the bike over the tape and sulk off? I know a lot of people who just lit $150 of the nicest french cross rubber on fire who would have lost their shit. The twitter wars that would have ensued would have been the thing of Legend. Again one more thing we can learn from the women less drama.

So none of that happened. And her reason why it didn't happen which she told me later that day made me so proud. She told me she didn't want to lose it and get mad because of how it would reflect on Hup United. You know what? That statement right there is the essence of who we are. That is how a PRO would conduct themselves. Respect your teammates and yourself and be a good sportsperson. So yeah some bad shit went down but she dusted the bike off, put it on her shoulder and started running. She ran through the upper wooded section and all the way to the pit. She went in and got a new wheel and went back out. She finished 63rd out of 74 and you know what in my mind that result is probably the one I am most proud of for all of Hup all season long. Race with class, be tough both mentally and physically, don't get sucked into drama or anger etc. That is how we roll.

At the end of the season after working so hard she got her win at Velocross! That win was awesome. She had great rides at Putney, Lowell, and Ice Weasels. She ended up ranked 4th in the cat 4 women in the Nation! And again its the improvement and how she got there that make it so sweet. Its great to win races but that isn't how you build a team. I still remember standing at the top of the chute looking down the greasy off cambers at Loon with her and talking about the lines and how to do it. She was scared but she wasn't "scared" if you know what I mean. She had a smile on her face at the end of that race even though it was an extremely challenging course. We are so lucky to have her on Hup. Congrats Joy on a great season.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The clothes make the man

I have a t-shirt problem. I can admit it. For a dude as old as I am I have wayyyy too many t-shirts. Like a whole draw full. At some point I guess I will be too old for t-shirts. They define me I can't help it. To me they are part art form, part superfan supporter wardrobe, and part a landmark of where I have been. Here are a couple of my faves that I picked up this cross season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

And Dah Weasel Went POP!

This cross season can pretty much be summed up as the season of dahweasel. NECX has never been like this. At least in the six years I have been back home racing on this hallowed ground. We have had a magical season no other way to describe it. Granted we have taken some body blows this last month but really has it slowed us down? No, not really. Wether its been a cross bender p/b dahweasel or just total cross mayhem sponsored by dahweasel this entire season has felt so different. Night Weasels really just set the tone early on. Party but race your heart out. That whole idea just resonated this year with everyone. And it was sooo perfect that the season ended on the highest of highs at White Barn farm--the winter lair of dahweasel...

Ok I think I just said dahweasel way too many times in that paragraph...For those unfamiliar with dahweasel it is a "fake" twitter account that is in constant attack mode seeking and destroying the weak and soft in the NECX. When it smells blood you had best stop, drop and roll because it ain't gonna be pretty. Love mauling doesn't even come close to what is going to befall you. She/He/it has taken twitter heckling to an entirely different level. Who ever is behind it is pure genius. I personally let go of all my right brain concepts of reality and fiction and just accept dahweasel as a sentient being not unlike the Borg Queen on Star Trek NG...Dahweasel is real to me and she is in my head.

This is the 3rd year that the Ice Weasels has been around. Last year's snow bowl made for some serious shennanigins to say the least. This year it was warm, sunny and probably one of the nicest days we have had in the NE in weeks. We had 4 kegs of beer donated by our good friends at Harpoon and it quickly turned into one enormous tailgate party with a who's who of NECX. Ironically the only categories who took this race as a race seriously were the cat 4s. What does this even say about the cat 4s? I mean really. Forget the rampant sandbagging that goes on in that class all season long what does it say when you are at the last race of the season which is a defacto keg party and you race your brains out and don't take beer handups? I don't want to hear that it was 10 in the morning. That is the lamest excuse I have ever heard in my life. You have 8 months to sober up for next cross season. DO NOT REFUSE my handup ever again! If you are straight edge, a mormon or are politically against beer fine but don't let me see you trying to get "free" beer after your cat 4 race because you were too serious racing a beginners cross race to take a we have to teach these people everything?

Ok that man pictured above with the Elvis glasses. Yeah he took my handup and paid it back in spades. I am not going to lie my plan was to not drink at Ice Weasels. Ok you can stop laughing now. I know this sounds way to Frank the Tank-ish but its true. I was planning on working the tailgate having fun and just being the voice of reason. Stay in Dad mode a bit in case we had to get anyone home etc. I got to see the course being built and was really stoked to finally try a flyover! I got on site and you could just feel the energy. Didn't hurt that Zank was working parking detail when I rolled in and wanted a beer at 9 am. I got us all set up and started giving beer feeds, dollar feeds, cupcake feeds etc. I had to chase down one pour guy who had a mechanical and was doing the Ice Weasel 5k. I even caught up to Mike Rowell and handed him a beer after his bike decided to stop working. It was so much fun and people were having such a great time.
Don't get me wrong even the fields that were taking beer handups were racing fierce. It was a really fast and fun course. The flyover and the berm added some really cool elements. The Goguens and Zank, Myette, Resultsboy et all built one hell of a course. With the small amount of space they had to work with they built something special. Yeah maybe I am partial to flat twisty courses what can I say? So I watched all the races had a ton of fun and then kitted up for the big boy race. I reg'd for the 1/2/3 race at 2 pm as it seemed like the right thing to do. I am neither elite nor fast but frankly this cat'ing down thing has gotten out of hand. I was pretty stoked to race for 60 minutes and see just how many times I would get lapped. I was thinking twice but in the back of my mind thought 3 times was a possibility.
I lined up last row next to a couple of my masters friends and a guy in The Wilcox's shark suit. That made me nervous and at ease at the same time. It didn't hurt that Uri was next to me as well. The official reminded us to not use any glass containers and off we went. How hilarious is that? The glass container it. First lap I seriously was not going to take any handups. But damn the crowd through the first set of barriers at the Harpoon snow fencing was going insane. I mean you could hear them screaming from the other side of the course. Ok so I thought in Frank the Tanks words "I'll do one!" holy shit. Granted they were very small shots of beer and most of it ended up on my kit, helmet, the crowd, my bike etc but they started to add up.
But the weird thing? Not only did I not get drunk I started to feel good. I mean maybe the combo of alcohol and sugar in the form of cupcakes, donuts hell I even had a peep, add up to great cross fuel. I only got stronger as the "race" went on. I wasn't going slow by any means. Dave Foley was screaming all kinds of expletives at me to stop being serious and drink more. If I drank more I would have been in the er! On the last lap I grabbed a dollar bill stuffed it in my mouth and dropped down the course. I survived two turns then tried to stuff it down my shirt. It was at this point that I smashed through three stakes and thought I ripped my carbon fork off my bike. The noise was that loud. The alcohol had me all loose so I wasn't injured at all. I wrestled my bike out of the tape, smashed my bars back to being straight and got back on it.
The highlights of my race were the constant beer feeds and mayhem coming from all my teammates and friends, only getting lapped once, getting slapped so hard in the ass that it stung, riding the flyover, seeing Mike Wissell play strip cross race each lap, and just being a part of such mayhem. It was an incredible day of cross and tailgating. I love all you NECX cross freaks! You make the Fall/early winter my favorite time of the year! Thank you to Miriam, Thom P and his family, Harpoon, Resultsboy and the whole frathouse/sorority for keeping cross cxey this year. And the biggest thanks and hugs to all my cool cat Hup teammates! Thank you once again for letting me be a part of the coolest band of brothers and sisters on the planet! Hup! Hup!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Handup 101 or How to Take a Handup without Dying

I have had a post cooking for months. It was going to be about how Hupcakes and fun aren't ruining cyclocross. This whole UCI/USAC/USGP debacle kind of blew my whole plan out of the water. Do I really need to go on and on about how Hupcakes aren't ruining 'cross now? No I don't think so. We all now know who and what will kill 'cross in America and it ain't gonna be the hupcake. The enemy or enemies have shown themselves. I witnessed NORBA's death blow to mountain bike racing and it was not pretty....

So let's get down to business! Maybe the Hupcake and the handup can SAVE cyclocross. That is a bold statement but it may in fact be true. But make no mistake about it taking a hupcake/waffle/cookie handup and not dying is serious business. Most handups happen at the top of a runnup or on a barrier section as the rider is going slow enough to manage the feed, and the person doing the handoff can set it up. But the problem is that the rider is likely at LT and can barely breathe. I almost died at Putney this year. I took a hupcake on the top of the runnup took a HUGE bite of that sugary goodness and then realized I had nothing to wash it down took about two laps for it to clear my windpipe.

Once it did and all that sugar hit my brain it was like I had a jet pack on the back of my bike. So in one sense, ironically, maybe taking a cupcake handup is like doping and does give the racer an unfair performance advantage over the more serious straight racer. Perhaps this is the real reason people hate feeds. I always thought people who didn't like handups just hated fun...

The origins of the species. Who invented the Hupcake? That is kind of like who invented the mountain bike...but in my mind Kerry Combs one of Hup's OG members gets that distinction. She created the "Hupcake Express" moniker for a Hup relay team at 24 hrs of Great Glen about 2 years ago. We had so much fun at that race that the whole concept just took hold and we ran with it. I'll be honest those first Hupcakes were mostly white trash Betty Crocker style. Kerry's weren't, she made real cupcakes from scratch and they were delicious and artfully done. But when a bunch of dudes are making cupcakes we go straight to white trash. Its in our DNA.

But we had some mentors along the way. Hannah Kirshner was so nice. She never mocked us. When ever we needed something special she would take the Hupcake to a whole other level. Her creations are like edible art. Mo Bruno Roy would show us just how good vegan cupcakes could be. Kerry was always up for a batch. Lodrina even made Geekhouse minis for Ice Weasels last year. Then Joy, Roni, and Kim joined the team. That changed everything.

The Exchange: This is arguably the most important part of the Handup. It can be a handup, hand down, hand off or even as is popular with dollar bills a stash. In the instance of a dollar bill you can put them anywhere. On a stake, on a barrier, cone, in a beer bottle, in your mouth, etc., the more creative the better. It separates the serious from those looking not only to have fun but to get paid. But lets break it down.

Option A: The Handup. Find a spot on the top of a runnup. Doing it at the bottom won't work. The transition is too tricky. Mid runnup is pointless as the rider needs to be able to set it up. Ideally you will be on the left side (as you look up the course from the bottom ie racers perspective) of the runnup as 99% of all 'cross racers portage the bike on their right shoulder. It can be done on the other side but trying to reach across your body and bike to grab a cookie or beer doesn't usually end well. Ok you have established position. Now you need to make some noise. Unless the rider knows its coming he or she is going to be DEEP in the pain cave. They really aren't able to hear or see anything. All they are able to do is keep from puking and try and keep those feet moving in a painful death march.

Bring Da Noise!: Cross superfans need to be loud. To get a racer's attention you need to be louder than all the other drunken freaks on the other side of the tape. Scream your head off, ring cowbells, heckle, say crazy shit, anything to get the racers attention. Andy Huff may be the master at this. Watching him work at Lowell was like watching a master in action. Obviously after a few laps racers will get the idea. At Putney it took about half the race. We had an official who we weren't really sure how he would feel about the feeds. Thankfully he wasn't a member of the fun police and got really into it. As long as you aren't a drunken lout and are respectful it is amazing what you can accomplish.
The Exchange: Ok you have gotten the racers attention. They want a feed. Now you need to get that exchange down. 90% of the success or failure of a handoff falls squarely on the shoulders of the person doing the handoff. You need to do it right. Let the racer come to you. Do not shove it in their face. Put it at about head level and let them take it. Obviously if its a hand off ie they grab the beer can or cookie or waffle with their hand no worries. Its like a baton in a relay race just put it out there and they will fly through and grab it. If its a situation where they are going to use their mouth for god sake be careful. We don't want anyone losing teeth or crashing because you got to aggressive with your feed.
Lift Off!: So how does a racer take the handup? There are a couple of techniques. Using your mouth is great for when you are riding up a hill or if you have your hands full carrying the bike. The hand to mouth feed is tricky. You need to set it up from about 50 feet away. Grab that waffle, cupcake what have you in your mouth and take a huge bite. If its too big to swallow whole just take a massive bite and start chewing. It is really bad form to spit out a high quality cupcake. In fact you pretty much will ruin everyone's race by doing so. Ok so I am not going to lie to you this can be tricky. More than one racer has almost choked to death with this technique. Use your head. Chew it up and swallow!

Option B is literally grabbing the beer, money etc with your hand. This is great over barriers and in the case of beer pretty much a necessity. Someone will be handing you a can of beer or a red cup. Taking that with your mouth is Cat 1 handup technique. You my friend are a Cat 4 at best trust me. Ok so your pal is handing a red cup filled with 4 loco to you what do you do? Do you stop and slam it? That has high style points and while racing in an elite race is good form. It ensures you don't get in the way of the actual people racing in this contest.

I think its better to grab the beer slam it and toss it over your shoulder. A word on the toss. Try not to throw a half full beer can back down the course at another racer. Granted some get sick satisfaction out of being sprayed with beer as it goes flying over the side of the tape. It adds to the whole Heavy Metal aspect of the race. Makes it feel like you are in the pit at an OZZY concert. But no one wants to see an innocent bystander take one in the teeth.

The Stash: This has grown in popularity in recent years. I think it started at CrossVegas before they deemed fun unseemly. The idea is to take a dollar bill and place it on a barrier or on a stake. It really boosts the morale of those poor bastards at the back of a UCI race. Here they are once again trying with every fiber of their existence to not get pulled and when out of the blue....Money! Everyone likes money! Dollar bills are probably the most popular but as is shown above it can also be a great opportunity to do a cupcake feed. In New England we strongly believe the orange cone will singlehandedly destroy cyclocross. That cone is only there for one reason cupcake feed. Note the UCI compliant sponsored snow fence and double tape in the background.

Those are the basics. This friday instead of another mind numbing set of openers that will once again do nothing to improve your actual cross race go out with a friend and dial in that handup. Ice Weasels is this saturday and you had better bring your A game. We don't want anyone dying because they didn't learn how to take a proper handup. Now that would ruin cyclo-cross...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Children of the Night

The wolf pack invited me out to chase zombies at night on Battle Road. It was freezing. Then it wasn't. I rode without lights for an hour but I had wingmen with lots of Lumens. Dunkin Donuts Hash Browns are the best thing you have ever tasted after 3 hours on cx bikes in the dark in New England when its Jens Factor 3 out. There was Whisky. There was much shredding of berms and bumps. The Seven crew is so awesome. Graham is the ultimate wingman although he may be my kryptonite as my lights have a funny habit of dying when ever I am around him...weird. Thankfully he is now used to it. As am I. And this was nothing compared to our boondoggle at Great Glen. At least here there weren't any bears or drop offs...sure there were large SUVs and ATVs...and the wood bridges in Lexington but it was a piece of cake.
I locked onto that man's wheel at 25 mph for a solid 20 minutes like it was a lifeline trying to generate heat so my body would not go into shock. Flying down the Minute Man path at warp speed with only a pin point of light was both an adrenaline rush and horrifying. Who knew stopping at a Dunkin Donuts and warming up would be such a horrible, horrible idea? Stepping out that door and back into the cold my body was shivering so bad I almost fell off my bike. What an incredible ride. Thanks for letting me tag along....

Monday, November 22, 2010

De Lowellische Leeuw

BRC's CX race at Shedd Park in Lowell has always been the 'cross equivalent of cutting for me. I have a history with this race. Lots of people do. It is a buzz saw on bikes and bodies. The Infamous Trench of Lowellenberg has been tamed. Now it is a big ring autobahn a mere two years ago it was a mudtrench filled with broken dreams and shattered souls. I had one of the biggest yard sales of my life in there that year. Funny as much as things change they stay the same. Thankfully this year's yard sale was not in the trench or my mood would be much different on this grey monday.
The Boston Road Club has done an amazing job with this race. They have built it up into something really special. They listen to what racers want, they let other clubs get involved and they create a really special grassroots vibe. Even with my history of getting torn to pieces every year I have fond memories of it. I look forward to this race every November. I may have a slight problem. I did go to art school and it is hard to not develop a slight cutting "problem" as a coping mechanism. Even if that "cutting" is more beating yourself senseless on a cross bike with 400 of your closest lycra clad cross FANatics.
But back to the present or recent past. This year we were thinking of what special twist we could stamp on Lowell. Then it hit me. WAFFLE CROSS! Andy Huff and a bunch of his good friends at Wheelworks-Jeff, Brian, Starr and a bunch of others started Waffle Cross this last summer as a monthly excuse for us all to get together in Belmont and go on a cross ride. The rides were awesome. We would do a great mixed ride of pave and dirt all over Belmont. We'd come back to the shop and have waffles and coffee and then disappear back into the streets. It really helped keep cross on the brain all summer long. Wheelworks has been supporting the race for years so it made perfect sense! We borrowed the infamous New England World's snow fencing from Wheelworks set it up on a run up and watched the magic happen! Amazing things do happen when you mix in waffles, Hupcakes and four loco handups into a cross race!
It seemed like ALL of Hup United in New England came out for this race! Sure we were missing a few of our friends but we had so many riders, even one who was doing his first cross race ever! We had Blanco, Bleu, OG Noir, and B sample it was a full representation of all that makes Hup so special. The racing was both fierce and filled with folly! I had the best start of my life! The only problem was I had been working the event all morning and didn't have time to pre-ride. No problem I thought I have done this race a million times I know the course like the back of my hand. This fuzzy logic has been working ok this season. I should have remembered the debacle of trying to race Night Weasels and gotten at least one lap in. But I digress. So I am like seriously up with people I have zero place being with. Again I was locked on Dougies wheel and flying.
A voice in the back of my head kept telling me bad things like "no way you can hang with these guys" which would be quickly dispelled with shut up legs! Actually for some bizarre reason the legs felt great. It may have once again been speed by osmosis. I had done openers on saturday with some really, really fast people. I wasn't fast but hanging out with faster people makes you faster. An actual fact. So I am at like Warp 6 and just locking in on that Joe's Garage red skinny when KABLAM! I hit a root and go flying! Welcome to the Jungle. Oh Lowell hates me soooo much. Like ten guys go by me when I am on the ground. I have to crawl back to my bike. I swear at the cursed little stump hiding under the leaves and remount and get on the gas. My bike still kinda works. I have so much dirt and shit jammed up inside the front shifter I have to use some old friction campy style shifting to make it work. But it does cause its campy.
I still am up in a good group. There are nemesis all around me. I still feel good so I start hunting rivals. But I notice my rear wheel is sliding out in every corner. For a second I think I will just ride it and it will be fine. But coming out of the woods onto the track my rear tire folds over and I almost yardsale again. As much as it killed me to pit with people in sight I want to enjoy the rest of the race and not die so I go in for a spare wheel. It takes a while. I go back out and while still racing I am now in the real spirit of the day! I am hunting Waffles! Next time up the runnup I am looking for Andy! I spot him and I kill myself to set it up! Andy pops one delicious heart shaped waffle into my mouth and life is good once again!
Lowell hurts me every year. But I LOVE it. I love the course they set up, I love the vibe, I love all of it. Everyone had such a great time. They combined the Elite women with the 3/4 women and I have to say more promoters should do this. It really was one of the most exciting races I have seen. Some lapping happened but it was never in any way a hazard to any of the racers. It was a good experience for the 3/4s to see the elites on the course and just raised the level of competition to a whole other level. It also brought out a lot more spectators. Sometimes I feel so bad for the elites because the parking lot is empty and they are killing themselves and no one is cheering for them.
Stewart Dawson is a good friend of a friend. He met Rosey this summer and is a really great guy. He joined Hup in a leap of faith. He wanted to get into cross. He had never tried it before. If you want to get into cross I can't think of a better way than with Hup on your side. But he didn't just go in with one foot. He jumped off the high dive and went all in. He bought a team issue Hup Honey and blinged it out! He has more style in his pinky than I have in my entire being and the man can race cross! The picture above is Stewart on the runnup. That is not a man who doesn't understand cross. I know pro's who don't know how to run with a bike like that. Cough*DaleKnapp*cough. I mean seriously. He did fantastic! As did the whole team.

Huge Hup thanks and respect to BRC, Wheelworks, CB, Hup, Richard Fries, Andy Huff, Jeff, Brian, Steven, Starr. Thanks to Joy for making some great Hupcakes and handing them out. Thank you to Nick and Newburry Comics for all that you do!!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The Handup. That may be the picture of the year for this year's NECX season. Eyebob (aka Bob Tyzsko) took all the pictures in this gallery. I had no idea he was this good a photographer. Man my friends have so much talent it is ridiculous. Why the hell do they let me hang out with them? I mean seriously. I have zero talent. Unless having fun is a talent which I guess it is. Anyway back to the Handup. That is Matt Myette uber fast Zanconato team rider and all around cool guy on the left handing, or stuffing, a cookie into Jerry Chabot's mouth. Now there is a lot about this photo that is off the hook. For one Matt's form is perfect. He hasn't interfered with the rider at all he merely did the hand off or up if you will. Like a good QB handing the rock to a running back. Smooth. Second is Jerry's taking of said handup. He didn't miss a beat. And look behind him the hounds of Hell are hot on his heals. Baller that is all I am saying.

Below is a sequence Bob shot at a small technical transition of the course. I love all the details he captured. I usually hate seeing pictures of myself as I am so damn fugly...but sometimes fugly can get it done...but here the form looks good for once.

Hup Honey in the wild! I love how much detail you can see on the bike...I have no idea how Eyebob got this much in one shot.

This may be my favorite of all time. I love how the bike is out in front, the saddle is outboard of the elbow, maybe Myerson's constant hammering of technique is begining to get through my thick skull...
The Line! Ok I love, love, love this one because you can see Michael Zocchi rocking the secret line. Matt Myette and David both told me about this during warmups. I didn't really know what they were talking about. Once the whistle blew I was just seeing red and trying to stay on Dougie's wheel. The fact that I was on Doug's wheel at all was mind blowing. Secret lines were the last thing on my mind. But Michael found that line and rocked it!
The Flying V! Holy crap. This picture is horrifying in one sense but also beautiful. Again Eyebob shot a sequence. Bam, bam, bam. He races cross with us so he knows what is going to look good. I love that the feet are off the ground but I am not too high. The thigh is sliding over the saddle and not just sending all my weight right on the saddle..

Thanks Eyebob for all the great photos from Putney. It was great seeing you. Hup! Hup!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ain't no Rest for the Wicked

Can I see your hands in the air? Dana Prey cranked out about 10 push ups while doing a keg stand. It was impressive to say the least! That girl knows how to throw a party I will say that

One of the first conversations I had with SBZ aka Sara Bresnick-Zocchi was about how she always wanted a skinsuit party. But no one would ever throw her one. I thought it was pretty funny at the time. Here is this badass former world cup racing elite mountain biker talking about skinsuit parties when all I am interested in is learning how to ride a mountain bike in New England without ending up in a body cast. SBZ basically took me under her wing this last summer and saved me from myself. I am forever in her debt! I still suck at riding mtn bikes but I at least don't jump off my bike at the mere hint of a drop off or a wood bridge. But I digress this is about SBZ. Sara is kind of like Clark Kent. When you meet her you do not even get one iota of the badass hiding behind the October hat and the prana t-shirts. She seems just kind of earthy crunchy and super chillax. Yeah and Clark Kent seems really nerdy and weak when you first meet him. But when SBZ comes out of that phone booth step aside man cause its either lead, follow or get the fuck out of the way. The pedal is to the metal and it is on!
SBZ clawing her way up Putney's brutal runup! She rode so well at Putney! Her teammate Sally took the W with Sara 2nd!

Thankfully she has some amazing friends. Like friends everyone dreams of having. They have her back and know how to blow off steam but also bring it. They are tough as nails but also just filled with personality. Just like her. And her friends love her to death. So they gave her what she really wanted for her 35th birthday. A skinsuit party. It was part house warming party for the new teams frat house and part SBZ birthday bash. All the cool cats were there. They even let me and DJ Robert in! Well DJ is actually very cool I am just a dork. I can't help it it is who I am. The party was totally insane! Two of the funniest quotes of the night were " I went to art school and we never had parties like this" and " We had parties like this in California" I thought to myself yeah maybe in the Castro on Halloween..It just proved one more time that living clean is such a waste of life's precious nanoseconds. I mean really why bother? Keg stands, beer bongs, dance parties that would blow your mcl out, Murat in a speedo, Jello shots, Glenn Danzig...on and on and on. Were Resultsboy, Steven and I geeking out over a pair of brand new FMB fangos in a doorway while this was all going on? Yeah we were. It was that type of party. We were bikers after all.
Glenn Danzig and DJ...yeah it was that kind of party..

I gave DJ the heave ho around 12:30. I have much respect for that man. He partied like it was 1999! Me I didn't have a drop of alcohol. Not cause I am straight edge or anything but as I was the designated driver and had to keep it tight. But if you can get a contact high off 50 drunken bikers in skinsuits I sure did. I still do frankly. It got me sooo stoked to race in my skinsuit for Putney it wasn't even funny. I even thought about it as people were dancing and general mayhem was ensuing all around me. I hadn't rocked a skinsuit all cross season. Not once. Mostly I just wasn't in to it. Not sure why. But at the party? I was like Hell Yeah man! I will be rocking this beer stained, jello shot sprayed sweat covered Noir B sample at Putney. I hoped it wreaked of alcohol and sweat. Is that wrong? Probably but the whole point was and is you don't have to be so damn serious all the time. SBZ was doing keg stands friday night and got 2nd in the elite field at Putney on sunday. Would she have won if she had gotten 12 hours of sleep both nights? Who knows and frankly who cares? The team kit has skulls and bones on it there should be a rock and roll clause in each rider's contract...
But back to what I was thinking about all night while laughing my ass off talking to so many drunken bikers on Friday night. Putney. It is possibly the pinnacle of New England cross. Gloucester and Noho obviously are beyond compare but Putney? If you want to consider yourself a New England crosser you MUST do Putney at least once. Preferably you will hold it in the reverence that it deserves. It is like Pipeline for surfers. If you have never dropped into a double overhead wave at Pipeline are you a surfer? I guess you are sort of. But being able to ride pipeline is the thing of legends. Putney is the same. It can chew you up and spit you out like no other race. It is unapologetically brutal. Even in "good" conditions like we had sunday it poses a lot of challenges that we just don't see at any other race. There is the corn field where the souls of the weak are crushed, there is the drop off and the runnup. It is NOT a grass crit. And then there is the vibe which is the complete opposite of the buzz saw of a course. West Hill has put this race on for a long time. It is such a downhome feel. Kids have a burrito stand everyone hangs around eating cider donuts and just having a great day. Its what you think Vermont should be.
I lucked out this year. Not only was I completely jacked and stacked to wear my skinsuit I had two uber fast guys in my van. You know what the secret to getting faster is? No its not training that is for the weak. It is hanging around fast people. The skinsuit party is a perfect example. I picked up at least 3 spots just by osmosis at that party. I got another 2-3 by having David Wilcox and Matt Myette in the van with me on the ride to Vermont. I am kidding, sort of. Being able to pre-ride a race course with people like David and Matt is almost an unfair advantage. They see EVERYTHING. All the good lines, where to make moves etc. They don't even need to articulate it just by following you get a radar lock on how to go fast.

I had the best race of my whole entire season on sunday. I have been getting a lot of mentoring from a lot of really fast people. I am really, really lucky to have the friends I have. I think when you pack four of the sexiest steel cross bikes into a manvan good things are bound to happen. So I have my wingmen for the rest of the season. If you have a cxey steel bike and bring Newmans mint oreo's we might consider letting you hitch a ride with us...maybe...Oh and the other guys in the van yeah they did pretty ok in their races as well! David Wilcox rocked out to 2nd in the elite men and Matt got 3rd in the 35+! Thanks to all my biker friends for this wild ride of a cross season! I don't want it to ever stop...

Oh I almost forgot one of the best parts of the whole day/race. On like my third lap I come crawling and clawing my way up the Runnup. I see Joy to my right with a hupcake handed out. I grab that hand up take a HUGE bite and pedal as fast as I can. I get a huge piece stuck in the back of my throat! I literally think I am going to choke to death. I finally swallow it but am now gagging for about two laps. When the pure sugar finally hits my brain it is like someone strapped a jet pack to my bike! Thank you Joy and Kim for making the Hupcakes and making cross sooo much fun this season. You two are the BEST!