Monday, August 15, 2011

Crank the Zank

QOTD@24HOGG "Why is the big tent laughing at me?" The big tent was laughing cause it knew deep down in its green heart that this weekend was going to be sooo rad it was going to be ridiculous. Team Crank the Zank aka Team Chamois Cream FTW touched down at the base of Mt Washington Friday to contest the 24HOGG. This would be my third year doing this. To say I was a tad nervous and excitable would be an understatement. To say by the time we laid down in that tent that I was about to jump out of my skin would be an understatement as well. The hardest part or coolest part about 24HOGG is all the preparation that goes into this. Which in my case consists of a 2-day freak out in the middle of all my other usual freaking out about this that and the other thing. But 24HOGG freak outs at least have a purpose. Food, shelter, water, lighting. Actually lighting should probably go to #1 in that list as you could go without the other 3 for the night but without lights you are just going to be food for the bears.

We assembled a super squadra from the NECX. Mike Zanconato and Matt Myette from Zanconato Custom Cycles, Nick Maggiore from Newbury Comics and Leah Pappas-Barnes and myself reping HUP UNITED. We were reg;'d for the 5-person Coed. Nick, Leah and I rolled up in the HUP team sprinter van. We packed sooo much stuff into that van it was insane. We left Boston pretty much without incident. Grabbed the best PB&J from Canto 6 and pointed the van north. We made great time got up and followed Colin's Macpaint masterpiece to where we thought he wanted us all to set up camp. 24HOGG is pretty much a NECX reunion. Sooo many of our good friends from cx are here every year. This year was even more of a gathering of the tribe. Our team was planning on circling the wagons with a pro team of Colin Reuter, Mike Wissell, Greg Whitney and Kevin Sweeny. We were also to be joined by a 2-person 12 hour team from Boston. The MRC crew had a HUGE compound right next to us. Lauren Kling was up with Cary attempting to defend her Duchess of Dirt Crown.
Our tent city was part shanti town part base camp. I mean on paper we looked great! The boys moved all our stuff from being right in front of the porto-potties...(what were we thinking?) to a nice spot boxed in between a bunch of rvs. If zombies came out of the woods we would hear the screams in time to lock and load and have a clear target before they got to us. But I am getting off track...we had a BALLER ultimate stand for our bikes which was under an ez up. That is PRO. We had a huge ez-up courtesy of the Ride Studio Cafe. Again PRO. It even had side flaps. That was our kind of kitchen/den. We had a Specialized ezup for a living room. We had the big green tent and about ten others. We also had more junk food than a frat house. Every year I say the same thing I will eat good food. But then you are walking the aisles of Trader Joes and the peanut butter cup trail mix starts calling your name...

Did I mention a moose almost killed us? Um yeah. So the White Mountains are amazing. I have seen mountains and these ones are gorgeous. When you drive to them you start noticing all these annoying yellow signs along the road. But you tune them out cause talking about what tubulars you are running this cx season is vastly more interesting than the "Moose Crossing" "Caution hundreds of collisions each year" signs. I mean really? My mom loves moose. She comes up here and goes on moose hunts. Has she ever seen one? Hell no. What are the chances of me seeing one let alone hitting one on the highway. Apparently fairly high. So we are descending the mountain at about 65 in the manvan heading to the Red Fox for dinner. For the record I am not tired or brain dead like I am now. If this happened on the drive home Sunday we would all be dead. Anyway I am flying off the mountain lazer locked on the yellow line to my left and the two lanes of traffic coming up at me on the other side of the paint. Out of the corner of my eye I see a big black flash. Then I hear Nick and Leah saying ohhh fuck! The moose ran across the road and just made it past our rear bumper. One second the other way and yeah I am probably not writing this blog post. And frankly had the cars reacted to the moose and instinctively swerved away from the moose. Yeah same story. We live in large part due to the fact that I am like the Iceman behind the wheel. Well that and the gold buddha my babymomma picked up for me at Kripalu last week.
After a fantastic dinner of pizza, nachos and mash potatoes at the Red Fox we get back to the tent city safe and sound. Todd from MRC invites us over to the MRC VIP lounge and we sit by a fire watching the moon rise over Mt was a beautiful night. Then Colin rolled into camp and much hilarity ensued. We woke up the next am to a perfect day. We got a pre-ride in and found they had "beginnered" the course. Well thank god because I suck. And am a danger to myself and others on a mtn bike. But in reality the beginner course was pretty challenging. The last two times I did this race I got schooled. Its has a lot of things you have to sort out. A brutal opening climb in the first two miles. MegA coined it Blueberry hill a couple of years back and that is what I call it now. But when I would say that my teammates would look at me like I was insane. I could see the look in their eyes. Why are you calling that horrible torture rack of a hill something as sweet and nice as blueberry hill. Why not just call it kick you in the nuts hill cause that would be a bit more spot on. So you go deep for 2 miles. Like you want to puke deep. Then it drops into a fairly fun single track with rocks and roots and some raised bridges. Speaking of bridges. For the first time in three years I put this whole ride together. Not like the real racers but for me I finally felt like I was racing it. I owe all my strides to Matt, Zank, Rosey, Matt Aumiller and riding my cx bike all over trails for the last month. But one wood bridge still owns me. There was a tiny bridge at the top of the climb. Easy. But there was a pretty big rock crevice that if you botched it you were going into. Way too rich for my blood. CX dismounted that bad boy each time. But what I noticed about that. When you do that in front of mtn bikers. Even fat out of shape mtn bikers in baggy shorts and wife beater t-shirts they now own you. Or they think they do. They think well this guy sucks he couldn't clean that bridge. Yeah well I actually ride my bike so maybe from the sounds of that asthmatic heavy breathing you might want to just forget trying to stay on my wheel before you have a heart attack. I thought it but never said it.
The tale of the tape for me was 6 laps, 60 miles, 7,110 feet of climbing. My fastest time was 44:13. Team Crank the Zank did 26 laps and came in 6th! I am so proud of my team its bananas! This was Nicks 3rd race on a mtn bike. Ever. Dude did fantastic. I had no doubt as I have been riding cx bikes with him for a few years and he is tough as nails and has great skills on the dirt. But that is still very impressive. And Leah came back from Maine just to race with us. Granted all that dirt road commuting up there has made her strong! When I saw her I was like wow it is on now. She is fit! And it showed in her riding. Both Leah, Mike Z and Matt rode single speed 29ers. Leah had a rigid fork. HUGE respect. I can't even imagine. I barely had enough gears to handle the lap. We had a great rotation. We had some adversity. But really so did all the teams. Great Glen is pretty much where bikes go to die. There were sooo many flats it was crazy. At one point in the middle of the night I came across Mike Wissell on the side of the trail. I asked him if he was ok. He laughed and said he was fine. In my head I thought wow this will be the only time I ever pass Mike in any type of bike event in my entire life. Not seconds after thinking that karma bitch slapped me upside my head. I hit a root or a troll reached up from the underworld and wrenched my bike out from under me. I slammed sooo hard. Bike went cartwheeling down into some boulders. I run after and pick it up and see the remote lockout has sheared off the bar clamp. I tie it off to my handlebars I continue back on my way. Seconds later Mike flies by me at warp speed!!

So many sections were horrible. Just brutal climbing on sketchy gravel. But then you would get this sick roller coaster fireroad descents and the Plunge! I finally was able to ride the single track switchbacks and rock the trail that lead up to it. My first time down the Plunge I got such a sick rush I don't think I will ever feel that alive again. I came down it as hard charging as an old cx racer can. Did I enter Gnarlington? Hmmm probably not but in my mind I got pretty least for me. The fact that I was hanging out in the same camp as 4 of the most rad human beings and pro mtn bikers upped my game significantly. It has always been my contention that to be fast you don't just have to race with fast people you have to hang out with them. Anyone can enter some race and get lapped by fast dudes. Doesn't mean you are fast. Not at all actually. But if you are in a car with them or in a ten foot radius for any extended period of time it will begin to up your radness scale by a factor of 11 for each 1 hour or so.

I had such an amazing time hanging out with everyone. The boys won the PRO and the Overall. Lauren Kling is the Duchess of Dirt for a second straight year! Cary is so rad its ridiculous. He not only did such a great job supporting Lauren but he pumped us all up every lap we went out. He did the best bike exchanges ever! Each time I did it I got more and more stoked. A huge thank you to Rob Bauer and Todd Prekaski aka DoubleHop and 20#Skull for the use of the photos! Todd took that gorgeous panoramic. Rob took the action pics. Dr Jay was looking so badass. He did the 12 hour 2 person and cracked me up soo many times. He is such a cool dude. So much more to talk about. But that is all I have for right now. Further topics for discussion will be parts 2 and 3 of z HOGG. On tap will be single speeders. Yes they are wayyy tougher than you. And solo riders how are they so tough and are impervious to the zombie plague? HUGE HUP HUGS to everyone up there. Coming off this weekend I just realize once again how much I love the NECX and how lucky I am that Boston is my home. You all kick so much ass...thank you for that. And thank you for helping me get rad...Hup! Hup!


  1. When Christin showed me the video of you on the plunge I was SHOCKED at the RADNESS. Who are you and what have you done with Chip?

    Thank god you were walking that bridge up top or my head might completely have exploded.

  2. Yeah that was something. We watched probably 20 people drop that steep including some factory sponsored cats (they looked the part at least) and the most dynamic performance was put in by Mr. Velocb

  3. All the radness that was on display this weekend I owe to you boys. Seriously. Thanks for showing me the way to Gnarnia. Still a long way to go but by next 24HOGG I may actually be a mtn biker! What a fantastic weekend! I need more of that