Sunday, July 18, 2010

No Shirt, No problem

Jabs expression says it all. I am pretty sure in his head he is thinking "dude you are f'd!"

Ok I am NEVER that guy. What guy? The dude that shows up for a race and forgets his license or his helmet or his lucky socks etc. I am prepared damnit! I may be slow, and old and fat. But those are the only excuses I ever have for not doing well on a ride or during a race its not cause my bike isn't set up right or I sabotaged myself by leaving a vital element of a ride behind. Oh but at the Jeremy Power Grand Fundu this weekend? I was that guy in technocolour! No excuses. But for my viewing audience I will elaborate a bit and let you use me as your comic foil this fine day. Hup has been doing a lot of these types of rides lately. Frankly I am more into rides like the Ronde de Rosey and the Rapha G-race than any other type of ride at this point. Give me a mix of gravel and road, my friends and a group of super cool bikers and some actual adventure and I am a happy man.

So to say I was stoked for the Fundu was an understatement. It was being held in Easthampton which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places on the planet, it was being put on by some super cool people and it was for a good cause. Plus pretty much with a few exceptions all my favorite people were going to be in attendance. Perfect. Now onto the potential shit show that was only kept from becoming a full on disaster because I am a professional. Ok so the wheels began to come off the wagon the night before. Facebook is great and all but I ended up really miscalculating how early I needed to leave. I overslept my alarm and ended up leaving BOS way later than planned. And what was even funnier and probably why I was able to pull it together once the whole house of card fell to pieces was that I was unusually calm. No pre-ride jitters, no stress just a real sense of well-being. That probably should have been a huge red flag.
It was soooo great getting to ride with Michele and groupo MegA! Such a great day with great friends and teammates
I roll up 95 get on rt 2 and start flying towards Markie Marks haus in Leominster. I get to Marks house seemingly on time. But then when we look at the GPS coordinates to MegA and JDs house it becomes real apparent there is no way we are making it to Eastho for a nice pre-ride pastry brunch with those guys! Doooh! Ok so game on. No panic yet as we are pretty sure we are gonna make the staging time no problem just bummed we are going to miss out on having some down time with those guys. So we get on the highway and try and make up time. I make another strategic error (or maybe not looking back on it..) and stop at the Wagon Wheel for an egg sandwich. Both SBZ and resultsboy have totally gotten me addicted to the pre-ride egg sandwich. Frankly a bagel sandwich with egg, bacon and cheese is better than doping. Its a fact. But it takes no less than a half hour to get the sandwich. Holy shit. Yes it was worth it as it was the best egg sandwich I have ever eaten but still now we were even further in the hole. When we get to the turn to rt 91 south of course there is a detour and now we have to head north to basically Vermont before doing a 180 to head south. So finally we pull into Meg's literally as they are rolling out the door! They are so nice about it. But its clear we need to get moving. We do a quick transfer of some goods and the biggest most potentially ride dooming error happens. I of course am once again oblivious to it.

Is this Montana? No. But my god is Western Mass just one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Granted this landscape photo was taken by one of the best photogs in the game but still. Thanks Lyne for coming to the Fundu!-photo by Lyne Lamourex of Podium Insight

Meg and all of us caravan over to Ed's farm and we are greeted to one of the most picturesque farms in Western Mass. There is a big tent for the after party, a pig is roasting on a spit and all the cool cats getting ready to roll. We mill about, kit up, hug friends we haven't seen in a while and get ready to stage. I am fully kitted up standing around in my blanco kit when I notice that something is missing. Oh Noze! I left my helmet and my shoes back at JDs when I was unpacking some stuff at their house. Again. I do not panic or freak out. There is no screaming, crying or other hysterics. Just the cool realization that ok now I need to think real clearly. How can I fix this? There are 130 people staging for a ride in 5 minutes blocking the exit. OK I figured I'd wait til everyone left and bee-line it back to Megs house and get my shoes and helmet which are just sitting there in their driveway. The group rolls out and I take off! The race within the race is now on! I drive back get my shoes and return to the venue (it wasn't that simple as I am totally unfamiliar with eastho but I have already gone on way too longwinded).

I roll back to staging and am greeted by Al Donahue. Al is so awesome. In his total calm voice he gives me some sneaky sneak intercept coordinates to reconnect with the group. I get my shoes on and get into TT mode. My heart rate was pretty much at 173 in a milisecond and stayed that way until I got my team on race radio. I basically cut the course and met them on the steepest climb of the day. It was such a sight for sore eyes after an hour running around missing the ride to see bikers clad in dayglo lycra! The first group I came up to I asked "so would you say you are at the front, at the back or maybe in the middle?" I guess there had been a bit of climbing over that 10 miles cause I got a kinda cranky "I didn't know this was a race" response. No problems my brother I get it I really do. So I lay down some more watts trying to catch Hup up the road. The road pitches up! Like crazy steep. I see Eric Marro mashing gears and think oh I am screwed. But even though it is a brutal climb I am so happy to be in the group after thinking my chance of riding with these guys was zero.
The only bummer of the day? Poor Robin crashed into our roof rack on Rt 2. This is dedicated to you my avian friend.

At a little step in the climb I just do some circles and wait to see if Hup is behind me or up the road. What a sight seeing Markie Mark rocking up that climb in B sample!!! Groupo Hup was back together! I got to ride with Mark, Jabs, Michele Smith, Meg, JD, Cathy Rowell and Eric and his crew all day long. It was amazing. It was like a mini-Rapha ride. 60 miles, a great mix of dirt roads and pavement. An Ice Cream truck was waiting for us at mile 30. Jeremy Powers was waiting for us at the first water station at mile 20. While we were waiting he went down the road on his bike and dragged back 4 jugs of water. Did I mention he was on his bike? How many pro riders would haul 4 water jugs back to a bunch of civilians? Umm that would be none. Kudos to Jpow! He made this ride something special. Well his whole crew did. All the support people were amazing. Jelly Belly and Wheelhouse were such good patrons on the road. Lyne from Podiuminsight was there taking pictures and hanging out. There was a metric ton of the coolest cross racers on the planet. There are sooo many stories that came out of this day. And I feel a follow-up post but for now I leave you with this story. It just typifies the whole fun aspect of the day. So as we are all sitting down eating and drinking beers and cokes. A Jelly Belly rider comes in super late. Like I said Jelly Belly and Wheelhouse were amazing they were great Patrons keeping everyone safe and patrolling the whole course making sure if someone had a problem they could help out. So he comes in basically last with a couple of riders he had shepherded along. He has something huge shoved up the back of his jersey. At first I thought "Holy crap the dude brought a jug of water in case people ran out?" Nope not even close. He pulls up to the group and reaches behind him and pulls out a desk fan. There were a ton of little flea market/yard sales along the way and apparently it had a free tag on it. Holy crap. He probably had that fan in his jersey for about 5-10 miles of rough road. BALLER

So what an amazing day! I cannot wait for next year! Thank you to Jeremy Powers, Alec, Mukunda, Ed Hammel, The Jelly Belly team, Wheelhouse racing and all of Eastho's bikers for welcoming us and making sure we had a safe and incredible day! Hup! Hup!

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