Ritte Smokers photo by Jay Yoshizumi
Most people's day begins with a cup of joe and reading the New York Times, Boston Globe or grabbing a quick news feed off of CNN or Yahoo. Me, my daily routine is a pot of Peet's Major Dickason's and straight to All Hail The Blackmarket. Everything I need to know for my day is right there. Well everything biker-life related anyway.
I have "known" Stevil forever. His new project AHTBM is incredible. He has basically become the voice of the velorution if that vision includes single speeds, beer drinking, cross races, basically anything full of shenanigans and fun. Not that I was going to cyclingnews.com anymore but Stevil's new site was the final nail in that coffin.
But I digress. Yesterday I stumbled upon the GREATEST blog post of all time. Seriously. At least from someone on a Belgian inspired team who is obsessed with the style and hardman appeal of all things Belgian and to do with the Spring Classics. Stevil's interview is incredible, go read it before you waste your time on my blog post. My post is really an homage to his greatness which in part is a window into the mad genius behind Ritte Racing.
Even after a few communiques with Spencer Canon at Ritte Racing I am still hugely suspicious. If you ever read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers you'd know that there is no such thing as an overnight sensation. The magic number is 10,000 hours. These guys came out of nowhere seemingly and have put out a gorgeous kit, a bike named the Bosburg that is so damn sexy I can't even think straight when I look at it, and a series of viral youtube videos that are pure comedy. These boys know what they are doing is what I am saying.
Ok so below is my interview with Spencer and an attempt at trying to get to the bottom of what Ritte Racing is all about. Enjoy!
VCB: When you think Southern California you think Hank Moody, strippers, Motley Crue and surfers you do not think Belgian hardmen. Seattle? yes it rains constantly and they are hardmen. Portland Oregon? my god they ooze hardmen with their 'cross scene. New England? The place breaks you before it makes you into the hardest of hardmen. SoCal? Impossible. But you get it. How is this possible. Who are you and where did you come from? Are you the long lost love child of Johan Museeuw?
SC: Hi Chip, thanks for having me. You are even more ruggedly handsome than your blogging suggests.
Yes, you're quite right. Southern California is so cushy that the hardest of men who move here are no doubt softened by the perfect temperatures, beautiful roads and awesome rides. This softness is also partly due to the fact that many of us do a lot of blow with Hank Moody off the naked bodies of blonde, fake-boobed strippers. Though we may slink away when the clouds roll in, I do have to say that California racers are strong as shit and we race hard. We have massive mountains out here and brutally steep climbs. We're not a total loss.
As for me and my Ritte boys… well we're not claiming to be as tough as the guys in Seattle and Portland. I mean, it can get pretty epic trying to find a matching silk Rapha scarf for your carefully coordinated wool jersey… we're still basically pussies. We just recognize our faults and are trying to be a little tougher every day. Some of us are actually from Belgium and England and other spots where cyclists grow up tough, but some of us still have a lot of work to do to become men.
So to answer your questions: One, yes, it is impossible. Two, no, my mother and Johan only dated for a short time and she said his fish couldn't swim.
VCB: Who is Lanolin and what exactly is his role on the team? Is he the Flava Flav of Ritte Racing?
SC: Lanolin is the alter-ego of the owner of Ritte Cycles and Ritte Van Vlaanderen. Spencer rarely drinks, never smokes and is painfully quiet. Lanolin is total son of a bitch who likes to make fun of racers who take themselves too seriously. Lanolin is also a better racer than Spencer, who despite his crisp tan lines is sadly slow.
VCB: The bikes and the kit are sheer magic. My heart races just looking at them. Is this some kind of statement about team Sky? The irony isn't lost on me...Team Sky even look bored at their own team launch. You guys are going to shake some things up aren't you?
SC: Wow, thank you for saying so. My heart races when I look at the bike and really takes off when I'm riding it up a hill for some reason. We designed our bikes and kits to be both handsome and tough. We chose the Belgian colors in homage to the place at the true heart of cycling. So far, riders around the world have gotten pretty exited about our product. So, yeah. I guess we are shaking things up a bit. As for Team Sky, I actually haven't seen their bikes until just today. Very nice I think. Glad they didn't totally screw it up like Astana.
VCB: What has been the local response to all this Belgian love in Southern California? Are they ready for this?
SC: That, Chip, is an interesting question. There is mostly a very positive response to Ritte, our mission and our aesthetic. People are excited to see something different and also want to change the arrogant, Iceman bullshit attitude that pervades the road scene. But there are also those who perceive us as a threat. There are some team directors who are pissed their riders are leaving to race for us and have been calling up sounding like bitter ex-girlfriends. They're so clueless they don't understand why one of their guys would leave them to race for a little nobody upstart like Ritte. As for the other racers on the scene. I think the skeptics will accept some Belgian love when they get their asses handed to them.
VCB: What category will the team be racing? Is the team focused on amateur racing or Pro?
SC: We're currently fielding racers in every category, but the original idea was to just be a Cat 3 road/stage racing squad. I myself am a 3 and I think 3s show a love for racing that the other categories sometimes lack. 3s are the ones who get up early and train their hearts out to win, and still get to work by 9. At the same time, they're almost wholly ignored by the clubs and teams they race for. When all the attention and praise and money is poured into elite squads, the 3s just keep racing for the love of racing. We have added some 35+ ex-pros and elite guys, but they don't take racing for granted either. That's the core of the Ritte attitude. We just love racing. I think we'll do well, but if we get beat by a stronger team, we're not gonna stress about it.
VCB: I see you are heading out to Battenkill this year. Do you guys know what you are getting yourselves into? Do you know how many crashes you will cause from the gawking? I may have to make the trip to just witness this epic display of love for all things Belgie. We will be waiting for you guys at the top of Juniper Swamp road with cowbells and a keg of beer
SC: We are so excited for Battenkill that we may just go ahead and drive up there tomorrow. We're fast, but the dirt is a whole 'nother thing. Unfortunately we're only going to field a small squad in the 3s race, but we are bringing our native Belgian, Jim Downs, who recently came back from racing the Kermesse scene in his homeland.
We'll keep an eye out for you at the top of Juniper Swamp. Can you stick some cash in beer cans so we can pay for the flight back home?
VCB: All Belgian hardmen eventually must do cross. I see from Stevils website that one of your riders took the plunge in uhhh Ritte "kit" those are some damn fine tan lines by the way...What are you and the teams plans for cyclo-cross? Will we see a Ritte Superprestige series popping up in Laguna Niguel? If you guys gain a foothold in Southern california cross in America will never be the same.
SB: Yes. Cross is becoming quite a hit here in SoCal, though usually the course is totally dry and the temperature can get over 100F. That picture is of me, fighting off serious chafing in the Spooky Cross pro race this Halloween. I had this torn up NASCAR shirt and Daisy Dukes that I had to safety pin so my balls wouldn't fall out. Some of us have done a bit of cross. I actually stood on the podium between Elvis and a Stripper at Cross Vegas last year and Jim Downs won the SoCal cross series this season.
Ritte Cycles is planning on releasing a CX bike in time for next season. It will be as badass as the Bosberg and we will for sure come out and represent with it in true cross country next season.
But first we've got to get though this road season. So check back in at ritteracing.com though the year. We're going to be documenting our season with videos and stories so everybody can follow the madness.