Friday, September 16, 2011

So you want to be a CX superstar?

Photo by Pat Engleman

Which of these images is more beautiful of Firefly CX001? Its a tough call. Obviously the clean version is sick. You can see the beautiful welds and all the details of the frame but the picture taken above? That is to me the far more beautiful image. And what is even more beautiful is what it represents. Grit and toughness. And that a boutique bike built by masters can also be as deadly as an AK-47. This is no handbuilt show one off. It is functional art. And its function is to win cross races make no mistake about it.

So back to the bike and its rider/owner. Its well documented I am a total cross fanatic. Its also well known that I love handbuilt bikes and hold their builders/artists on a level with rock stars. I still after two decades stand in awe of what they do. They don't just build bikes they create vehicles for transformation. Its not unlike what a surfboard shaper does for a soul surfer. The similarities are staggering if you really think about it. And more than ever we need these people and these bikes in our soulless time. The story behind this bike and its owner is truly amazing. I can only believe it is Karma in action. The story behind how Firefly came to be has been related before. I won't go into depth about that right now. But Tyler, Kevin and Jamie made a HUGE leap. And all of New England held our breathe and sent so much positive energy out to them. I think as a community we willed them to succeed. I think we needed it as much as they did. They did all the work obviously. And on their reputations along with their artistry built one of the greatest stories to come out of cycling in a while.
Over those first few months I got to know them all real well. I would stop in any chance I got. They were so welcoming. We rode. Damn I rode to NYC with Kevin. That is certainly a good way to get to know someone I will say that. He rode all the way. I got in the autobus around Bethel, CT. I'll make it all the way to DC this year don't worry. Or maybe I should be worried. But the point is I became really good friends with the guys over at Firefly. And getting to see their work made a huge impression on me.
But to the rider's story. One of my oldest friends in this bike game is a woman named Lucia Matioli. We were on a kick ass mtn bike team back in the 90s. It was beyond rad. She was a badass. We rode together constantly. Had some hilarious adventures racing bikes. Then I moved back east and we lost touch. I should have done better about staying in touch with my West coast friends. But kids, family and the lure of the NECX just got all my attention. I obviously think about my friends from Norcal all the time. But its hard to reconnect. On a drive home from Maine in early spring my wife asked me about Lucia. It was weird because at the time I was actually thinking about her and those days racing for Cal Bike. Pam suggested to check and see if maybe she was on facebook. I mean the fact that Pam suggested I log onto facebook considering her pure and utter hatred for social media points to Karma. Or possession. Perhaps Pam is a medium of some kind. Its possible she is Irish after all. So I stalked errr searched for Lucia on facebook. Voila. I friended her and sent her a message
It was seemless. It was almost like we hadn't skipped a beat. Well she emailed me the next day and wanted to know if I knew anything about this cyclo-cross thing. Ummm yeah maybe a little I responded. What do you want to know? She wanted to know everything! She asked me which bike to buy. I asked her budget and answered back a Firefly. Easy choice. She emailed me back and told me she ordered one. I thought she was kidding. It takes me 6-9 months to make a bike decision. I go back and forth and drive myself and the builder insane. She pulled the trigger in less than 24 hours. I couldn't believe it. I lived vicariously through her order. She got the first cx Firefly ever built. Hence the CX001 on the chainstay!

She came up to have a meet and great with Firefly and we had a great mtn bike ride on Blue Hills. Then she came up to give the bike its maiden voyage on the Ronde 2.5. She impressed the hell out of me. That ride was no joke. 50 miles of tough trails. The fact that it was her second ride on that bike spoke volumes for the bike and Firefly.

Well she had her first race last weekend at Nittany. The picture with all the mud on it is from that race! She hadn't raced CX in about a decade. Thinking back on it I don't know if she even actually raced cx when we were back in Norcal. I only dabbled back then. In Norcal at the time it really was just a fun distraction from Mtn bike season. For me anyway. Well in her first race back she rocked it. Top ten both days! I am sooo stoked for her its not even funny. To me that is what cx is all about. Sure its so easy to be a total narcissist and think about yourself and your race but cx more than any sport can be sooo addictive. And even the smallest push in the right direction can create one more cross fanatic. Lucia is a natural that to me is sooo obvious. She just gets it. That term get's thrown around a lot. To me what it means is she has the mental part down. She is aggressive and has an attacking nature. She is competitive but not type A so doesn't self destruct and become her own worse enemy. She is tough as nails and always stays positive. And she is strong as hell. I am so stoked to have her back in my life as my teammate and friend! And that bike? It might be the sexiest cross machine on the planet

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