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!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Dirty Truth at Noho

The Dirty Truth at Noho is that sometimes living wrong is living right. What I mean by that is that its easy (well sort of) to try and live right all the time. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy not drink blah, blah, blah. But as the Red Hot Chili Peppers say life is not a read through. We get one ride on this crazy ass rollercoaster and you have to live it. Noho/Eastho has become my adopted home away from home. Any chance I get I try and get out there. Some of my favorite people live out there, the vibe is unreal and whenever I am up there it just feels like "home." And it feels like that because all my friends up there make me feel so welcome.

So before we get too far gone into the Gonzo side of this post a huge thanks to Meg, JD, Al, Adam, Mukunda and the whole Noho crew for making us feel so welcome any time we head up the Pike to Noho. I love you all. Seriously. Ok back to the living wrong. Last year at Noho we packed like 8-10 dirt bag bikers into a hotel suite. That was wrong in so many ways. I vowed this year to do it a bit more "civilized." Ended up just me and Mark Bernard, Steen and Dave Chiu for the weekend. All proper and gentleman like. Ahhh yeah. Friday night was chill. We had a few beers talked zombie shows then hit the rack. We rolled up to the venue set up the Hup tailgater at club row right in between Fatmarc and the MAC crew and the Indy Fab cats. JD set us up perfect! Joy brought the most insane Hupcakes of all time. Basically Gourmet Hostess cupcakes. They were gone in a second. Thankfully Joy saved one for Adam before they were all gone. The course saturday was super hard. We got to see Fatmarc in his blanco Stormtrooper skinsuit! That was totally bananas. Those MAC crossers do not mess about. Next year I am making a pilgrimage to the MAC as I have to witness this firsthand.
But so no one gets the false impressions that every race Hup NE does is all Hupcakes and smiles let me set the record straight. The buzz saw that Noho was to be started to take its toll early. DJ Robert came back to the tent after a pre-ride before the Killer Bs and said he'd crashed up top on the rooty section. Ok no big deal. It was sketchy as hell up there. I sucked so bad up there it wasn't even funny on day one. But Robert is just chatting me up not really seeming injured or in distress. Then he mentions it again. Ok I will bite. What hurts I ask DJ. He says its his shin. I suggest we take a looksee as his race is staging in like ten minutes. He pulls down his leg warmer and "HELLO" Holy shit! Dude took a major core-sample out of his leg. I get all calm and just say ummm yeah lets go talk with the emts. They start working on it and he almost faints as they are digging around in there. He sits down and they clean it up and wrap it all up. We ask the townie emts if they think it will need a stitch. No it should be fine. So the big glob of fat you pushed back in is ok? Oh yeah no worries.
Alright! So DJ staged up with his massive wound and had at it. That kid is tough that is all I am saying. I would have been drinking beers in the lounge chairs and heckling. He smartly hit the er on the way home and got 3 stitches. The rest of the day went fairly without incident. We had a great day hanging out. Watched the races all day and then headed home. But back to the Dirty Truth. So the Dirty Truth is a beer bar in downtown Noho. I have always wanted to go during CSI weekend as it is the biker hangout but I have always wanted to go to bed early for racing etc. So lame. This year I got kind of lulled into it. The MRC boys Steen, Todd, and Mark said the Dirty Truth had great burgers and oh it would be a chill night no biggie. I am pretty much a two beer dude. After that its just not pretty. We walked to the bar from our hotel found a great spot with Gewilli and Jerry and had a beer with those boys before they retired for the evening. Well once G and Jerry left the MRC boys just got the wild eyes. Dave Chiu showed up and it just went all Motley Crew Behind the Music. I had to finally push the eject button when dirty George Michael circa Wham showed up and was looking for the "sex party." Once Mark started high fiving and suggesting we do shots of jager Todd and I ran for the door. But the damage had been done.
As Todd and I are walking home I ask Todd how many beers we had. He answers back two. Two I think. Holy shit we had two at the hotel. I texted SBZ from the bar asking her how many beers were too many and like Todd she said two. Ooopsies. I am f'd. I lost count but I think we had 3-4 pints of beer at the pub. So anyhoo. We walk home. Hit the rack and I am having bed spins. I haven't had bed spins since the early '90s. I pretty much resign myself to not racing as it seemed like it would be a total shitshow. I felt sort of stupid about it but frankly I had such a great night out with the boys and had already had such a great weekend of cross that it seemed a small price to pay. Call it a price of admission for living life. But I wanted to get to the venue to do some laps with Joy as we had just set her up with the most Baller set of cross tubular tires on the planet. Pictured above is one of a pair of Special Edition Molly Cameron FMBs. They are insane. Robin egg blue casings Racing Ralph tread pattern. Sick. I show up feeling totally hungover but its cold enough that it actually starts to wake me up. Ahh the healing properties of Fall in New England. I kit up and Joy and I head out for some laps on the course

We do a bunch of laps and just dial in the lines. I am loving the course and my legs actually feel better than the day before. How is that even possible? I am still resigned to not racing but haven't really told anyone. After our laps Joy heads to staging. She gets a good start and I head back to our tent. I am sitting there just watching the race go by and planning my escape when Clint from If mosies over and starts chatting me up a bit. He has one of the smoothest conversation styles of anyone I have ever met. He is such a nice guy. Very similar to Adam and Al. Very zen like and easy to get along with. He kind of softballs me with why aren't you getting ready to race? Aren't you next? I let the cat out of the bag. I tell him I am bailing. He looks at me and talks me down off the ledge. I would tell you our conversation but he's my lifecoach you go find your own. But in all seriousness his words meant a lot. This is why I keep getting deeper and deeper into cross. The people just are amazing. You think you have the best crew in the world and then the circle keeps getting wider and wider.

So Clint gets me all stoked to race in about 5 minutes. I grab my Honey ride to reg, get my number, pin up and rush to staging. I line up next to Dave Reed a visiting Hup from Seattle who happens to hail from Amherst. What a turn around. I go from bailing on the race to being stoked and able to finally have a teammate in the start chute right next to me. Oh its on now. We got a great start, the dogs of war were unleashed and chaos was all over the place. Long story short I had one of the best races of my life. The result may not show it but I felt strong and rode with Dave for a solid two laps where we were actually able to go tactical on other riders. I have never experienced that in all my years of racing. Being able to work with a teammate is incredible. He pushed me way harder than I could have. We ended up 38 & 39. It was a great day.

When I got back to the tent after racing I saw Joy's bike on the ground. It looked kind of funny. You know how you can sense something is wrong but just don't know what it is? I looked closer and saw her rear tubie was flat. Oh shit. I felt like puking. It was like taking $120 and just lighting it on fire but mostly I felt so bad that Joy's race got screwed up by equipment I got for her. Then I looked at the tire. Holy shit it looked like a shark attacked it. Again I thought did I screw up her brakes or something. No it literally had two huge gashes and a slice all across the sidewall like someone threw a Ninja star at her from the bushes.

I finally see Joy and she tells me the whole crazy story. I won't go into the details. Its part of cross racing. I nearly decapitated Tom Stevens in the sand pit with a late lap crash. He had to pit and it probably cost him some spots. So everyone has been guilty of messing someone elses bike up in a crash etc. But its what happened next that just blew my mind and made me so proud of Hup and of Joy. The team we have right now gets it. Joy told me she didn't want to get all mad about what happened because that is not how Hup rolls. And she is right we keep it classy and keep our heads even when the shit hits the fan. She picked the now FUBAR bike and runs up the runnup. She has like a half mile run through the woods to get to the pit. Along the way she bumps into Alec Donahue who encourages her to keep running to the pit. God I love that man. She runs the WHOLE way to the pit gets a neutral wheel and finishes the race! Like I said I am so proud to be on Hup. So many people would have just lost it chucked the bike over the tape sulked off and been so pissed. Probably started a facebook or twitter flame war. Nope. That is not how you do cross right. Bad things will happen. You just have to keep fighting the good fight.

Hup got a bit roughed up at Noho but its all good. That is how we become better cross racers. Cross is not for the weak. Not for the weak of heart or spirit. CSI lived up to its 20th anniversary. Everyone had such a great weekend. The courses both days were amazing. So many great memories and stories. We get to pack so much into these road trip weekends. Next weekend is Putney! A New England cross classic if there ever was one. We are going to lick our wounds, get some fresh tubies glued up and get back to racing the cyclocross. I am already counting the days until Sunday.