Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bloody Knuckles

The cross gods are not some buddy jesus who stands up on stage in a tuxedo t-shirt playing Freebird. The cross gods are like a tempest. Fire and Ice. Honing its legions into razors. The Ronde 2.5 went down this saturday. Not enough can be said about the effort Matt Aumiller, Matt Miller, Ian Whittle and a whole horde of Cambridge Bikes people put into making this happen. It was one of the most creative routes that I have ever ridden. It blew my mind. So many times during the ride I was just losing it I was soooo stoked. Matt did a superhuman job of marking the course. The pink syringes were off the hook. I honestly didn't hear of one person getting lost. That is a miracle. This is the third incantation of the Ronde and trust me getting lost is the price of admission. Not on this one. Matt even rode neutral support. Fixing flats and offering pep talks along the way. Ok maybe the pep talks part is a lie. But back to the gods. Wether we angered or excited them I do not know. What I do know is we woke them up. It started on Firefly Cx001's maiden journey. My good friend Lucia is kind of into cross this season. So much so that she had Tyler build her one of the sickest ti cross bikes in existence. Imagine Tyler as Hephaestus and Lucia as Achilles and well you get the idea. Tyler basically created a weapon of the gods for this cx season. We hadn't been riding for ten minutes when we heard thunder crashing over our heads. And not just hey here is a little storm but Thor's Hammer smashing ice giants type of thunder. We rode it out and had an amazing ride. The bike performed perfectly. It was a great opener and a foreshadowing of how the Ronde would go for us. I personally was so jacked up from riding through the t-storms and the thoughts of the ride that I couldn't sleep at all. I just dreamt of shredding gnar all day long with the NECX.
We arrived at Ian's to see this....the gods smashed his car. Wow. The Destroyer was indeed living up to its name. Everyone was bouncing off the walls and getting ready to go. I said hi to everyone. Hugged soooo many people. Pumped everyone's tires to 50 psi. Or I thought I did...and we rolled out with the Pink Beacons! The Pink Beacons were none other than the Newbury Comics crew. We had 8 riders in our group from HUP. Mike G, Lucia, Markie Mark, Mark Van Liere, Parke, Ctodd, Me and celebrity guest rider Mike Zocchi. Billy led us out on a paceline all through the streets of JP and delivered us to Canto 6. We hauled up the hill and popped into Franklin Park. We hit the first trail sections and then the bad things started to happen. I felt my rear tire bottom out a bit on a chunky rock. I didn't really think I flatted but it registered. At mile two in the most beautiful cemetery I have ever been in with church bells ringing all around us I called out for a tire change. I mentioned it was mile 2 right? FML. We bid Newbury Comics adieu and got down to the business of the flat. Fairly quick tire change and our group of 8 was back on it at full pedal to the gas. I am not going to lie. I was driving a fairly hard pace. Not killing it but I wanted to get to some separation. I knew Robert and his super squadra were behind us hunting us down. We pacelined really well for a while. No problems. Staying on course and railing the little woodsy connecter paths.
We popped out the road heading to Blue Hills and I started to get even more geeked out. The Blue Hills part of this ride was something special. At least to me it was. Sure it was kind of rocky, babyheads, axe heads, hammer heads...gravely in bits. But it had that mountain feel to it. Nice loamy trails in parts, trees rearing up. We climbed a bit. Well we pushed and Mike Zocchi floated up the steepest rockiest climb we had that day. That man has skills that is all I am saying. At mile 13 we had flat #2. Of course we did. It was mile 13 after all. It actually wasn't that big a shocker for how rocky it was. It was at this stoppage that team Camelstache caught us. It was great to see Uri and Jon and the boys. We exchanged pleasantries and they waited for us while we got our act together. We all descended as a group off the mountain...well hill. At some point on the descent we had another flat. Then another. I realized at this point that this was just going to be how the day was going to go. We soldiered on. At one point Matt rolled up in the team car and assisted the boys with one of their flats. He may have burned a smudge stick or through some mojo lifted what ever flat karma from us. As we really only had two more the rest of the ride.
QOTD from my babymomma :"Who was that guy who looked like a porn star?" Damn I thought Uri looked more like Tom Ritchey or Tom Selleck...

The course had such a great flow to it. You would get out on some urban road sections and just hammer then pop into such great greenspace. And all of it in Boston or in its environs. I mean who knew Boston had such a great urban trail system. Turtle Pond was calling my name sooo bad. I seriously wanted to stop and jump in. It was really hot and it would have felt so good. But we were on the hunt. I knew we were dfl and was trying as much as I could to coax as much speed out of our group as humanly possible. When we got to Millenium park in West Roxbury we were greeted to some awesome mud! You could just shred through the corners doing two-wheel drifts with mud flying everywhere! I almost killed a robin fledgling at one point but was able to use some body english to keep it from getting crushed under my front wheel. We saw a huge deer at one point. At Cutler we kept the pace hot. I could hear everyone hooting and hollering at how rad it was. Again one of the coolest parts of these rides is you end up in places you have never been. I ride Cutler all the time. Its never boring but to me its old hat. But for people who were seeing it for the first time? It was like a cx amusement park. We got across the boardwalk and then onto the Island. I was at the front when I hear a HUGE crash behind me. It sounded bad. I went back and saw Lucia crumpled on the ground. She asks me " what does it feel like when you break your collarbone" Hahhaha nah I say. If you can raise it you are fine. At least I hoped she was fine. She like all of my friends is tough as nails. She was in visible pain for the whole ride. We are talking another 35 miles at this point.
Not surprisingly The Wilcox smashed the Ronde 2.5!!!

We roll through to the pump track and rail the berms. We head out and all I can think about is the water stop at the end of Needham Town Forest that my babymomma has set up for the ride. She was sooo nice to set up around 9:30 and wait for riders to come through. It was a perfect spot. At about the half way mark. She had pop tarts, cookies, nuun, water etc. She loved seeing each crew come through and the crazy ass stories they would tell. But in my mind as we popped into the trail at NTF I was praying she would be there. It felt like some type of special forces mission. Would the extraction team be there at the LZ? In the back of my mind I thought damn we are sooo late. I said we'd be in between 9-11. It was close on noon. But as I popped out into the parking lot seeing her was like seeing an oasis. Or Isis I suppose. I gave her a huge hug and a sweaty kiss. She seemed pretty grossed out to be honest. I was pretty much like a feral animal at this point. We stocked up. Filled our camlebacks and rolled out.
We started getting a bit punchy as we headed toward the auqueduct. I think the miles of hard trail riding were started to add up. But still you could tell people were loving it. We rode the loop. Still we saw no one. I still don't know how this is possible. At the Dunkin Donuts on rt 9 we saw a group of Cambridge hanging out. I won't lie I sped up. I could hear the crew wanting to stop and indulge in those donuts and iced cofeets. But I knew if we stopped we were done. So I pushed harder. And faster. I started getting the Jens Voigt I need coffee bit going in my head. Ok I might have been signing it out loud to get people moving. I almost crashed wicked hard on some wet roots up in the S.Natick side of the loop. Who knew mud 2s pumped to 55 psi don't ride so well over nasty slimy roots. Other than looking like a hot mess I pulled it off without incident. We were now flying. Or at least it felt that way. But as we crossed over Great Plain and dropped back into the trail Parke hit a tree. Umm like full on. And he appeared stuck to it. I had visions of the final scene in the John Wayne Movie the Green Berets luckily he only was hugging the tree and slightly stunned. We got him off the tree. Then we started to change his front tire which flatted. Then the bleeding started. Blood was everywhere. On the levers. On the hub. The tire. Parke just shredded the hell out of his hand. Later in the er they took a piece of metal out of it. But Parke is all cool and chill. We get some duct tape and an elastic and tie it off. Mike Zocchi gives Parke a full fingered glove and off we go. Note to self: Carry first aid supplies!
Some nice Belgian tan lines

At this point I have two riders who have taken some serious crash damage, a couple who are looking like they are about to enter bonky town and never come out. So I make some executive decisions. I drive the pace even harder as now all we have is road. The thought being the faster we go the quicker we get to the beer. It sort of works. I float to the back of the paceline and offer up some gu shots etc. I cut out the secret stash in Brookline as I knew there was no way we would come out of that alive. We finally roll back to Larz and the BBQ! We see DJ heading home in the other direction. We were like a pack of wild dogs at that point and I could tell there were some grumblings as to wether we should attack him and eat his flesh...back at the start/finish we shared sooo many tales. Ian had an amazing bbq going. Chris Igleheart was hanging out. Matt came over and congratulated us. And as he sat down on the cooler and asked me how the ride went it hit me. The reason we put on these crazy ass rides, the reason we do these crazy ass rides is for that moment. Matt gave us a gift on Saturday. And like lots of gifts you could tell he got as much from the giving of it as we did the receiving of it. Thank you Matt, and Matt and Ian. Huge HUP hugs to all of you that rode, to CB racing! So stoked to be a part of this crazy ass community of rad bikers in the NECX...


  1. I am glad you chose not to attack me and eat my flesh. Then I really would have been in trouble at home!

  2. Eh... my middle finger still works, so I can pretty much do the only thing I need to on a bike.

    Thanks for the ride, Chip.

  3. That was wicked epic! With arm in a sling and an ice bag parrot perched on shoulder- I read this and can't wait for next year!

    Thanks CB!