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!!!!

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