The bike can take you places. Places you would never even know existed if you stuck to your car or your neighborhood. I am sooo guilty of that. I grew up here. I spent sooo much of my childhood in a multi-family home in Roslindale every Sunday with my cousins. But in all my years I have never even seen one tenth of what Boston is about. But once again my friends, the NECX, Boston they push me. When Matt Aumiller of Cambridge asked me about putting together a Ronde 2.5 I was like "Hell Yes!" When he started talking about his vision of it I got even more stoked. We did a couple of recon rides. Mainly showing him the sectors I know sooo well. Stuff Steen taught me. And then trying to plot and scheme how to make the whole loop. Matt wanted this Ronde to be hard. And to have a lot more dirt sectors. This one is probably 75% trail 25% road. And the trails are the real deal. And they are mostly all in Boston. That blew my mind. The fact that a city as urban as Boston can have soooo much greenspace and actual trails is incredible.
Matt coined this one Ronde 2.5. Makes sense to me. But frankly after the track record of destruction that has been accrued just doing recon I am calling this one the Destroyer of Bikes. At first I was calling it the Black Market Three Peaks. But as Matt said to me climbing up some nasty trail on Blue Hills "the British know nothing about cyclo-cross" Word! I laughed out loud when he said it. Frankly what I have come to realize with most of my friends who are total badasses is that they all have this sense of gallows humor. Its probably merely to keep me from cracking completely out of my head but what ever the motivation it has sure made for the best summer of riding in my life. Bar none. So after Matt put the kabosh on the 3 peaks analogy, The Destroyer just made sense. This ride ate tires and tubes. Baby Heads, Axe Heads, wood bridges. They all create a minefield of potential flats. Especially when you are rocking cx tires at fairly low psi.
On Friday. Matt and I set out to do the whole loop and get a good garmin file so we could create something useable for the ride/race. I met Matt at his house in Hyde Park and we rolled out around 8 am. Not gonna lie I was a tad nervous. But I also had a boatload of hubris. How bad could this little urban cx ride be anyway? Goat Hill, Kings Highway, etc etc. This was going to be a piece of cake. But Matt is tough as nails. And he was coming off Darkhorse 40 and 6 Gaps. Me I am old and fat and just did the FUNdo. Yeah you can probably guess how this was going to end up. Anyhoo. We roll out and I am feeling good! We get to Canto 6 (which will be were we stage up on August 20th!) and we hit start on the Garmin! We roll up to Franklin Park and I of course am having flashbacks. Franklin Park is where it all started for me in a way. It was my rebirth into Boston's bike culture. You can race and be a "part" of the culture in a way but until you embed yourself into it and give back to it you aren't a part of it. That first foray was a New Years Day cx throwdown hosted by Adam and John Bruno. I think there were 6 or 7 of us. I think we did three icey laps drank some beers and left before someone broke some bones .
We rolled up into the park and then dive into some sick trails. All fun stuff. Swoopy, loamy cx goodness. We pop out on a street and then head into one of the coolest cemeteries I have ever seen. We rock through there on our way over to Blue Hills. We end up doing a great loop in Blue Hills. Lots of what you would expect. Rocks, gravel nastiness. One seriously steep climb. That was when I made the 3 peaks comment. Perhaps Iron Cross would be a better analogy. But a lot of the stuff in Blue Hills is nothing like you would expect. Just beautiful loamy trails. We come out of Blue Hills and roll down into Hyde Park. We pop out right near Firefly and I of course must go in and talk to Jamie, Tyler and Kevin. They have a gorgeous road bike in the shop that they are finishing up. I once again vow to get my name up on that white board. Hmmm Road bike for sure. Ti or Stainless....that is the question. Tyler and Jamie show us the new stainless tubeset that came in for their cx bikes. Gorgeous. So much cxey curvy goodness. I am thinking a check point at Firefly is a must!
I am feeling a little rough around the edges but nothing too critical as of yet. Just kind of off. I blame the hot yoga class I did the night before with my babymomma. What was I thinking doing 1.5 hrs of hot yoga before this death march? We roll out of Hyde Park and pop into Stonybrook. Thankfully at this point one of Matt's earlier points saves both the day and my ass from an enormous walk. When we first cued up at Matt's house he mentioned that for most of the ride we were only about 2-5 miles from his house. Thank God. So we pop into Stonybrook. Again super sweet greenspace right smack dab in an urban neighborhood. Matt warns me about some nasty poison ivy right after the gate. The trail starts to head up a bit. I stand up to climb and then Kablaam. No chain. My mad watts snap that campy POS to pieces. Freak out time. Actually we were both strangely calm. I was calm as my brain was so hypoxic and had visions that being friends with Matt Roy and the Wilcox would by osmosis allow me to McGyver the chain and ride to glory. No such luck. F'n Campy. Really? Neither of us could get a rivet out to fix the chain. And thinking about it. Even if we did get a rivet out no way it was going to go back together and be functional. So Matt in his never surrender way says " I will push you back to my house" I am like what? But yeah he pretty much did. And it was fucking bananas. I hiked for a bunch of it in the woods, then would like-a bike down the trails. Then when we popped out onto road with great risk to his personal safety he pushed, dragged me all the way back to his house.
Have I mentioned how short I am? Like Little Tommy Voeckler short. Have I mentioned how tall Matt is? So yeah he lends me his Big Boy mtn bike. I slam the seatpost down and can pedal but am now in a crazy ass superman position. We ride back to Stonybrook and restart the Garmin. We ride like ten miles from Hyde Park to West Roxbury to Cutler. I almost die soooo many times in Cutler because the bike is so big. We roll through Needham Town Forest and I beg Matt to go to my house so I can get my clown bike. We pop out of NTF and rock to my house. We burst in and chaos ensues. I am like a feral animal at this point. The big bike broke me. I am rummaging through the fridge drinking juice, eating bananas, bars just stuffing what ever I can in my mouth. My smoking hot wife comes down and is appalled. Thankfully Matt starts showing her his tattoos and its distraction enough that we can get back out the door without getting in too much trouble. I cross remount onto my Seven Sola and ahhh yeah. Now I am ok. Getting on that bike after ten miles on the torture rack was like nothing I have felt.
I was a new man. We rocked back to NTF. Started the Garmin again and hit warp drive. We shredded Ridge Hill and the aqueduct. We did the loop. Stopped at Dunkin Donuts on Rt 9. No we didn't get the frosted ones with sprinkles even though its what I really wanted. We split a huge ice cofeets and had a couple of glazed sticks. Matt almost dies dropping in on one section of the loop over by South Natick. The rest of the ride is uneventful yet insane. Matt shows me the secret stash in Brookline. It is like riding in Wonderland. We roll through the rotaries and to the finish at Lars Anderson Park. How fitting. This will be the best Ronde ever. Its true. The fact that it starts in Franklin Park and ends at Lars is amazing. Those are the two crucibles that we use every cx season to hone our skills and find our form. It is going to be an amazing day of riding on August 20th I will say that. The tale of the tape? About 60 miles. For us it was about 5 hrs. But we lost an hour with the bike change. If this sounds like something that you are into you know where to find us. Thanks Matt for making this happen. And thanks for dragging my sorry ass all over Boston....