Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ride Studio Cafe Club Launch Party!

The Ride Studio Cafe is launching their new cycling club with a party on Saturday, March 19th from 6:30-9:30 pm at the Studio in Lexington. I have been working really closely with the RSC over the last couple of months and everything they have been coming up with has been so thoughtfully and stylishly designed. From Dave Chiu's team painted Seven to his RSC branded S3 to the sneak peaks I have seen of the Rapha team and club clothing everything just has an incredibly beautiful sensibility to it. The team and club are going to be something really, really special. It will capture the soul of the cycling on so many levels.
In speaking with Dave Chiu and Rob Vandermark there are some really exciting things in the works. All the things the RSC is becoming known for and much, much more. If you haven't heard about the club here is the information that was sent to me:

The Ride Studio Cafe Club is a collaborative of cycling enthusiasts and racers that congregate around all aspects of performance cycling and the camaraderie that brings out the best in us. The purpose of the Club is to engage riders to be more excited about riding; to ride more often and to enjoy it more; to find riding routes--and routes to cycling--that are more enjoyable; to push each other to ride more; and to increase our enjoyment and camaraderie of cycling.
At the party we'll share the details of the Club, including:
• What you get for joining the Club-its a long and unique list
• Rides we are planning for the season-some rides that we hope most cyclists have never even thought about
• Exclusive club gear and clothing--more than 20 items we've designed
• Details about the Club Team-The Cafe Racers-and their plans for the season
• Team Bikes-Two types

We've already have about 40 club members, and the Club hasn't even gone public-until now!

How To Join
If this Club sounds like something you'd like to be a part of you can join at the event on Saturday night--and you'll receive a special limited edition gift. Or, email us to join ahead of time so we can have your club gear and welcome packet ready for you on Saturday.

Some additional reasons to come to the party
• Sample our limited edition Club Coffee--an amazing coffee!
• Great food and beer--as we do at every RSC event
• Opportunity to purchase club gear at a special discount for the event only
• Opportunity to purchase Rapha and Cervelo products at a discount--for the evening only

Its going to be a great beginning to a great season of riding. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Dover Demon

Here I am pictured with my good friend and Pedro's president Matt Simpson. Pete Smith called us Wounded Soldiers. Damn it has been a rough winter for the NECX. It sounds crazy to say we are lucky but we are. In the span of a week four of us ended up in the ER. I feel so bad for everyone who has been hurt. My crash was sooo stupid. It really defies all logic. What makes it even more bizarre is that my crash and Matt's crash happened at almost the exact same time. Just his crash happened in Baltimore and mine happened in Dover. I really have no explanation for my crash.
I blame it on either the Dover Demon pictured above trying to sneak up on PVB. Or on some weird mind meld with Matt. I am pretty superstitious by nature. Its part of having an Irish heritage. I love the Irish but they are crazy. There I said it. But I find it really odd that Matt and I crashed at the same time. I think the night we spent at the Hudson hotel in NYC some crazy black magic must have been performed on us. The Hudson hotel is crazy. Its kind of like Fangtasia in True Blood. I would not be surprised if we were turned that night. Thank god I didn't let the couple who came to our door in around 2 am. I probably wouldn't be out in daylight as we speak.
So while Matt was locking bars in a townline sprint in Baltimore I was crashing on my face on the safest road in Dover. Again either we were somehow linked and when he went down I hit the deck in some kind of sympathy crash or the Dover Demon grabbed my front wheel and smashed my face in the ground just to remind us bikers that the DD is the landlord on those roads. All joking aside heal up my friends. Be safe out there.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 2 on Tim Johnson's RoW

"I am the Nightrider!. I'm a rocker, I'm a roller, I am the out-of-controller!" from Mad Max

I am not even going to lie I didn't know how far I could go on this ride. When I first heard about it I jumped all in. I wanted to help out as much as humanly possible. My first plan was to be the "fighter escort" out of Boston to Providence. The original plan was for day one of Tim Johnson's Ride on Washington to go Boston-Providence-Hartford. Riding to Providence and back seemed no biggie. But like a lot of things with my biker friends I got sucked deeper deeper into their nefarious plans the more I got involved. For me its like an addiction. I can't help myself. Luckily cycling is a touch healthier than most other addictions
So I quickly went from "Fighter Escort" to putting on a fundraiser and riding to NYC. Day one was really hard. Mentally and physically. But like I said the level of support on this ride was mind blowing. And not support in the Pan-Mass sense. There were no rest stops, we didn't have cue sheets but what we had was each other. And we had Butch Balzano and David Wilcox in follow cars. It was more an Air Cavalry team than Patton's 6th armored division. We moved fast across the landscape even when we got lost or riders had a spot of bother. Day one will forever be there when I am on some crazy epic ride this summer. But day two was different.
I seriously didn't think I could do Day 2. I roomed with my good friend David Wilcox in Hartford the night before we set out to ride to NYC. If you don't know David while he is an amazing cross racer, mechanic and advocate for cycling what he does best is endurance. He saved me that night. I used a lot of tricks. Short of thawing blood bags in the room I did it. When I woke up in the am I was tired but good to go. That said Day 2 was a big day. It was being dubbed the Queen Stage. That is the longest and toughest. I put that out of my mind as I knew I couldn't make it 140 miles. I had Bethel, Ct home of Cannondale HQ as my goal. That in itself was basically like doing Battenkill after doing 120 miles the day before. But you know what after doing Day one I felt like I could do anything. There was only one moment on Day 2 where I almost cracked. It was a WALL of a climb. On a highway so when you looked up it just went on seemingly forever. The horizon was basically blotted out. And what I learned right there is your mind quits before your body does. Mentally I had been spit out the back and dropped but physically I was still in the peloton turning the pedals over with my wingman Dave Chiu. But I can't overstate this point enough a rider sensed I was about to crack and before I could pull the rip cord a rider put his hand ever so slightly on my butt and pushed me for about 20 seconds. That slight push saved me. I got on top of that gear and was able to stay right where I was for the whole climb. That man was Peter Smith. Love that man. And owe him big time.
After that climb I felt fine. There was some crazy town line sprints and shennanigins along the way to Bethel. Who knew CT was soooo damn hilly? I mean seriously? But back to the start a bit. The ride into and out of Hartford (and into NYC) were both an epiphany. As sketchy as riding in an urban environment can be the response we got from pedestrians and drivers was nothing but positive. Yes I heard a few things from the riders on the streets of the Bronx ( I was in the car riding shotgun) but they survived and it is the Bronx afterall! But back to my point. In the urban centers we were welcomed. I can't even repeat the things that were screamed at us on the suburban and rural roads in Ct. You know what I am taking about though. What was shocking to me is that someone would hate a group of bikers on the other side of the road so much that they would beep at us from the opposite side of the road and yell at us. Who does that? People who feel entitled that is who? I could use other words but clearly the urban centers are where we need to put a lot of our resources. Can you imagine the difference a bike can do for a City kid with very little resources?
Rolling into Cannondale HQ in Bethel was amazing. Felt better than any cx race I have ever done. Felt better than any race I have ever done. I am hooked now. I need to get into endurance riding and this type of riding. Unsanctioned, an adventure and with a purpose. Cannondale welcomed us with open arms. I got changed and switched into Bjarne Riis mode or Mike White or Sean Yates I suppose. This was and will always be Tim Johnson's ride. He is an amazing Patron on the road. That in itself was an education. How he was able to keep us all safe and moving was the most PRO thing I have ever seen. He would go from cracking the whip to cracking jokes in a blink of an eye. But he kept the group moving and safe at all times.

So what is the big secret to doing a ride like this? Peter Bell (pictured above) taught it to me. Eating. Eating lots. And eating right. You need food. Real food. Yes you need the sugary stuff but you also need the real stuff. Although here I think he is inhaling a KFC chicken sandwich in between Bethel and NYC. Getting in the van was almost one of the most fun parts of the whole ride. David and I were a great team. He drove like a man possessed with Butch locked in right behind us. Dave and Butch were incredible. They followed close enough to keep cars from running the group down from behind but far enough off that cars could get by and slow and then safely pass the cyclists. We did a ton of bottle changes. I have always dreamt of being in a team car at one of the Classics. Well I think this pretty much checks that off the bucket list.
Lyne Bessette was amazing. Such a solid rider (obviously) but also one of the nicest people I have ever met. If TJ was the Patron on the ride she was the Uber Domestique. She did so much work for the group. Pulled. Brought up water bottles. Etc. She even won a ton of town line sprints from the boys! This ride has been called a "pub crawl" and in some ways it was as each night we went to a pub or Brewery! But it was a hardcore ride. Townline sprints were contested with a vengeance. Sometimes almost with too much spirit as we had a few close calls and one actual crash along the way. But the point is Lyne didn't just let the boys be boys she got after it and won a bunch of them. So great being able to finally meet a legend and then have that legend far exceed your already lofty opinion of her. Thank you Lyne! I am a fan forever!
Kevin Wolfson. Our guide throughout most of this. Kevin is a young gun of a bike racer. Skinny as hell and really, really talented. He is also 1/3 of the team behind Firefly Bicycles. This was the maiden voyage of Firefly #001. How many bike companies would build a bike one day and then have it go on a 5-day 500 mile bike race/tour without any stress testing? Well Kevin is clearly now in charge of R&D at Firefly from now on! That bike was insane! So gorgeous but also so dialed in. Obviously the rider is what makes the bike work but would you hop on a bike you have never even tested out and ride for 5 days on it? Much respect for Kevin and Firefely. Both are going to do great things in the future of this much I am sure.
Butch. What can I even say about Butch and SRAM neutral support. I am a campyphile through and through but frankly Butch's support on this ride has changed one thing in my mind. If I ever don't have money to burn on Campy I am going to SRAM. No questions asked. But back to Butch. He is the nicest, most solid guy on the planet. Nothing rattled Butch. He was the backbone of this whole ride. Without him it never would have happened. He washed all the bikes each night, he fixed bikes, he kept all the riders safe on the road and was just such a force in keeping us all going. How unflappable was he? Day one we had a bit of a "miscommunication" ie we gave Dave and Butch the wrong cue sheet. Dooh! So while the ride was heading towards the Blackstone Valley and out of food and water and starting to bonk Butch and Dave and the support cars were in Providence wondering where we were. Well Butch didn't even blink he and Dave hauled ass and met us in about an hour at a gas station. AmazingHahaha. Oh man. I look like a naked mole rat in this picture. Jeremy Powers met us about halfway on Day 2. It wasn't that easy either. The plan was to meet him in Hartford and to roll all together for a bit. But we left earlier than planned when it dawned on us that we had 140 miles to get to NYC and it was very hilly. We all knew we'd never get to NYC before dark and were just hoping we could minimize the damage. So we missed the connection with JPow. Well that didn't stop Jeremy. He hopped in his car and with Butch and The Wilcox's help tracked us down. Now what happens on the road stays on the road but let me just say from Wilcox's view behind the wheel trying to follow JPow on the twisty rural CT roads when this bike racing thing is over JPow may have a future as rally car driver. And anyone who thinks a mini-van doesn't handle well...yeah it does...

The Bronx and NYC need a post of its own. For now I leave you with this. Night fell just as we headed into NYC. It was insane. It was the longest 20 miles of our lives...but everyone got in safe and we had an amazing night in NYC. Thank you to TJ, the entire crew on the RoW Hartford CT, Cannondale, Pedro's. SRAM NRS, Mad Alchemy, Firefly Bicycles, Ride Studio Cafe, Rapha, Light and Motion (oh god thank god for L&M!) and Bikes Belong!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome to the Urban Jungle

The original title for this post was going to be "With A LOT of help from my friends." That basically sums up my three days on Tim Johnson's Ride On Washington. No way, no how I could have done this without a lot of help from my friends. Literally as Peter Smith, Peter Bell, Lyne Bessette, and David Wilcox made sure I not only survived riding 200 miles in 2 days but that I actually enjoyed it. A couple of the photos of me that may pop up here or there I am not looking fresh but trust me even if I look like I was at war on the outside, on the inside I am having the best time evah. I don't have time for a full on post but I wanted to put up some photos from Day one. We left Gov't Center in Boston at about 8 am. It was around 14 degrees out. We made a stop at Firefly where they had a really nice reception for us. Then it was off to Hartford CT! Wow. 9 hours later we made it!
Dave Chiu was such a great wingman! He's such a great friend and when we got to NYC and it was clear the crew needed some extra help he volunteered to stick around and help get them to Philly. It was huge on his part and he really helped them in a tight spot. That is really the whole defining mantra of this ride. Everyone just helping. No questions asked. When I called David Wilcox to see if he'd drive the Hup team car from Boston to NYC and back in support he didn't even hesitate. This even though he had a broken left foot. He drove amazing support and is and always will be one of my heroes. The fact that he doesn't even own a car is mind blowing. Team Sky should hire him post haste as he can drive a team car like a man possessed. Although I do think Butch from SRAM neutral support somehow did some kind of Vulcan mind-meld technique on David. There really is no other explanation for the type of driving I witnessed through the streets of the Bronx.
Firefly Bicycles had cupcakes and cookies waiting for us at a reception at their brand new shop. Frame #2 was in the jig. It was great seeing Tyler and checking everything out. Kevin Wolfson was long hauling it all the way to the Bike Summit in DC on Frame #1. It is a gorgeous machine.
Peter Smith of Mad Alchemy looking like the Cheshire Cat in this one. I think he may have had an idea of what a wild ride this was going to be. Pete helped me so much. One of my funnier memories of this ride is rolling into the last couple of rolling hills towards Cannondale HQ bonked out of my mind talking with Pete about Mythical creatures. We agreed that Unicorns are pretty lame and that Griffins rule. Griffins it is a known fact are protectors. It may seriously be time for a Griffin tattoo in honor of this ride.
The Wilcox aka David Wilcox aka "The Cleaner" When I told my wife I wasn't worried about the ride because I was bringing the cleaner with me she once again thought I was nuts. The Cleaner if you aren't familiar with the movie Pulp Fiction was a character played by Harvey Keitel. Basically when the shit hit the fan he came in and cleaned it up. He saved the two main characters in the movie. No doubt in my mind David is The Cleaner. Ice runs through his veins. No matter how nuts things got he took amazing care of us. I love that man. Not even kidding about that.
Jeremy Dunn of Rapha/Embrocation Journal Magazine brought some serious Sachs appeal to the Ride On Washington! It was great seeing Jeremy. He is a rock star in so many ways but also such an advocate for so many facets of the sport of cycling.
My good friend Matt Simpson. What can I even say about that man? He is the President and GM of one the most iconic New England bike industry brands. He has pumped sooo much energy into Pedro's and the cycling culture over his short tenure at the helm of Pedro's. He's also one of the most involved family men I have ever known, rides like ten men and just takes care of his friends and supports so many good causes. Spending three days with him was so awesome.
Chandler DeLinks. Oh man. You think you know him. Sure you do. You don't. He has a HUGE personality and has inserted himself into cycling in a big way with Das Pro and Das Rookie. That in itself was a huge accomplishment but that really is just one piece of the puzzle. I was so impressed by him. Granted you may not get his sense of humor or he might piss you off or whatever but if you don't get it I feel sorry for you cause you are really missing out. He is hilarious. And really is just a solid guy. He cracked soooo hard on day one. Do I blame it on the crazy ass Starbucks frapucino he inhaled at mile 40? Yeah pretty much. But he fought back. And then on day two just rocked it. He is a seriously strong cyclist. If he ever learns how to carry a bike and do all those little things that make cross so maddening and beautiful at the same time he could do some damage.
Ok I know this has been a ramble. But bottom line The Ride On Washington was a life altering event. I learned so many things over the course of three days. I am a changed man. I really hope this builds into something even bigger next year and more people can experience first hand what you can do on a bike and what the bike can do as a vehicle of change.