Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Going up to get Down

DECX as the cool kids are calling it. Or Verge #3&4 at Downeast, Maine at Pineland Farms. The last time I did this race it was the "old" course. It was 2005 and my first season back in the NE. I think it had rained for three solid weeks leading up to the race. It was pretty much my baptism into how different things are in New England compared to the San Francisco Bay Area. SF had mud. Lots of mud. But this mud at Downeast was different. I found out how different as I was running up a camber sunk to my knee went to pull my foot out and left my shoe behind. This all happened in front of the announcer who of course saw this as opportunity and began heckling me relentlessly. And yes the announcer was my good friend who had lured me to this god forsaken excuse for a cross race. He was merciless. But I was hooked. Sure I got lapped. I never got lapped in Norcal. Who knew these guys from Boston were so damn fast? And why was no one fat? I mean seriously? In Norcal the population is skinny but the racers are a bit on the say zoftig side. Here back in New England my whole reality got flipped.
Fast forward five years and bam! Its like I never spent 14 years out west. I am right back to being the same white trash towny I was when I left. Ok maybe the edges are a bit softened and I am more cultured. Ok that is a stretch. But anyway back to 2010 Downeast. This year was another west meets east crossapalooza. The Pedros elite team had hinted at the bike sponsor they had lined up for this cross season. I knew who it was and was so stoked to see the bikes. Chris King hired my good friend Jay Sycip a while back to launch and foster their new bike brand Cielo. Jay is one of the coolest cats I have ever known. Not to go off on too much of a tangent here but his tequila chili pasta is still one of my favorite comfort foods of all time. But back to the West coast invasion of Cielo bikes at Downeast. Christine Fort was traveling with the Pedros guys and tweeted a teaser of David's new frame the night before the race. It was a bare frame on a hotel bed. It was HOTT!

As I was getting ready for my race the Pedros Love Van rolled in. David got out of the sprinter and pulled his "bike" out. The steerer was uncut, the crown race wasn't pressed in, etc, etc. Not ready to race. But David is a professional and he wasn't racing until much later that day. And he had a van full of tools! By noon that bike was looking pimp as hell. I mean look at it! The Pedros team paint job is insane! I took as many pictures on my iphone as I could without making David too uncomfortable.
Ok enough geeking out on the Cielo's back to the racing. I loved, loved, loved the new course. It was a mile of swoopy, bermy cxeyness. Granted when I got to the venue it was about 20 degrees and at 10 am as I was pinning my # on my jersey I thought to myself. No way am I getting out of the van. No way. Then I saw dudes rolling by trying to warm up and thought ok fine I can do this. First really cold race of the year is no joke. I slapped on some hot embro, leg warmers, beanie etc. After a couple of laps it wasn't that cold and frankly after each crazy roller coaster berm I forgot about how cold it was. My race was great. Well other than seeing Tom Stevens cartwheeling across the gravel, his bike flying through the air at me and half the field locking up their brakes before ramming me from behind. Luckily I avoided Toms bike (barely) rode the tape to the outside and was free.
The rest of the race was just pinning it and trying to stay locked onto NegaCoach and Derek Grigg's wheel. As Adam's mechanic would say, "brake, corner, sprint" Again I loved the course. I know people still have residual from the mud bog of last year. I could see it in some racers eyes. I would say how much I loved the course and Pineland farms and they would look at me with black eyes all vacant and ask me if I was smoking crack. Maybe its just the towny in me but I like a downhome race. I like cows and farms. I had hoped we got to race through the barn with the cows in it. But that would have been gross I guess.
But back to the downhome aspect. How many races do you have a hot potato with chili on top of it waiting for you post race? The Maine Cycling club rocks for putting on this race. After the potato/chili combo I had a second lunch up at the Pineland farms visitor center. The second lunch was even better than the first. I bought a pie for my sister-in-law who had let me and Dave Chiu and John crash in her barn all weekend. But back to the Pedros team. I am biased in this obviously as I am really good friends with all of them but they are doing such a great job. From top to bottom. They bring so much positive energy to cross. Steve Lehmann is amazing to watch as he takes care of all his racers. I have been really good friends with David Wilcox for a while. The more time I spend with him the more I love him. Seriously. He showed me something saturday. Forget his gonzo bike build. While that was totally impressive it is who he is. This is the same man who went to Costa Rica and built a fleet of Luna Team bikes for Marla Streb. He is bascially MacGyver.

But back to David. I have had a few hiccups this season. One that kind of got me down. Not worth talking about but it kind of burst my usual halcyon cross bubble for a few weeks. Sure you could say I lost my mojo. Anyhoo. One of the great things about a free pass at Downeast and staying 30 minutes away was that I could hang out worry free and watch ALL the races! The Elite mens race was soooo fast! We were in a great spot by the start finish. We saw the leaders come through, then the second group, then third group, a couple of stragglers. And no David. Damn. I was soooo bummed. Its tough when you know your friend just got dealt a major shit sandwich. Finally he came through. No yelling. No panic. No shaking his head and being all dramatic. All Business. And it was on. He fought back hard. We all had no idea what had happened. He just kept moving up and up. At the end he fought his way back to 15th. That is insane!

After when I heard what happened I was blown away. I am not going to go into it. It got my blood going. Its not for me to talk about. But the fact that he stayed positive and did not let what happened on that first lap break him down was a total inspiration. I am bottling up how David rode saturday and putting that in the bank for a bad day. He is one tough hombre and what I love about him and how he rode saturday is everyone assumes tough means being a jerk. Yell, scream, fight, blah, blah, blah. Complain about every bobble or thing that goes wrong. No tough is having some crazy shit go down and rising above it and ride your own ride.

What a great weekend. I hope next year they stick with the same creative course design and that the weather gods smile on them! Thanks to everyone who made Downeast happen!


  1. I'm sorry about the hiccups this season, but DAMN you're back!! See you this weekend!!

  2. Chili on baked potatoes? Gotta send that love down the Mid Atlantic way :-) Great read, and that bike is insane.