Tuesday, December 27, 2011

You Got This

Cross season goes by in the blink of an eye. This time of year for me is always about rebuilding and reflecting. No PCXSD (Post-cross season depression) for me this year. Season was so great and just flowed right into mtn biking and cross riding in the woods with friends that to be honest I didn't even miss the weekly freak outs to get ready for each weekends race. What that has been replaced with is arguably vastly superior. But I do miss the NECX. And the whole intensity of those racing weekends. Obviously its that which hooks us all.

I have been living and racing in New England for seven years now. Flew by. But man how its changed since I have been home. Night and day. This season more than anything else has been the season of the 3/4 women. Sure there have been other things that have occupied our cx minds. See what I did there? Never mind. But nothing has been a bigger story than the huge growth on the women's side of cyclo-cross. It really started last year when we had 100 women line up at Gloucester. When 100 women line up at New England World's you better take note. Cause it means something. And that momentum carried right through to 2011. Cxmagazine and Verge collaborated on a series of articles featuring the 3/4 women of the NECX coined "You Got This" It became a buzzword, mantra, rallying cry and movement.
There are lots of reasons for this growth. But that isn't what this blog post is about. This blog has always been about Hup NE. Its my personal love fest to all things cx and Hup. I have never been shy about that. Some people's blogs are narcissistic exercises in their own self worth. To me my self worth if you will is tied into how I can help others. Whether its helping others fall in love with cross or literally helping others out to be able to race cross. At this point in the game I get way more satisfaction seeing a friend do well in a cx race than my own actual race performance. I love racing don't get me wrong. But like lots of things seeing things through the lens of someone new to a sport renews your own love affair with it. And it helps you to not get bored or burnt out. Focusing on your self is a one way trip to burnout. I guarantee it.
But just as the NECX has seen a huge growth in women in cx. Hup NE has seen our numbers grow big time. We currently have 10 women on Hup. They are some of the most active members of our team. They bring so much energy and fierceness to the team it is contagious. I am always skeptical of a bike team that only has one woman. Or no woman. Really? Why? How can you have a club in any pursuit and not include women as part of the equation? It boggles the mind. This season not only saw growth but some really serious competition. They are basically what the killer b's were 3 years ago. Tough, solid teamwork, PRO as hell, and supportive of their teammates and the other racers. Sure there were some growing pains this year. And some stuff that really needs to be sorted out. Most of it just revolves around the fact that women's racing needs to be taken seriously. The women's field can't be relegated to having bad start times, mixed fields with jrs, inconsistent race times, and unequal prizes or prize money...or lack of prizes all together. Basically its time to give them the respect they have earned.
I think I have said it before but I will say it again. So much of my introduction to Hup was via two of Hups OG. OG being Original Ganstah obviously. Meg Bilodeau and Kerry Combs were and continue to be two of my greatest mentors in the cx game. They have both been great about helping me get better at cx. And mtn biking. Kerry introduced us all to the Hupcake. This can either be the greatest moment in Hup history or a scourge on cyclocross. Still don't know why USAC hates something as nice as a Hupcake but what do I know about growing the sport of cyclocross...they pretty much know what is best for cross right? Yeah Nationals in Wisconsin in January sounds like a great idea. But I digress...Back to the ladies. So what started as a small but really influential duo grew into 10 riders in a few short years. Lots of women made this happen. And I am so thankful to them. Sara Bresnick helped so much. Even though she went on to start her own team and race for cxresults.com she had a huge influence on me and Hup NE. Joy Stark, Michele Smith and Jenn Urguhart played really big roles in creating a team that women wanted to be a part of.
We have grown by adding friends. Hup always has grown by one mantra. "One Hup Finds Another." This has helped us to avoid some of the pitfalls of other teams. We have very little drama because we all know we are in this for each other. Not having sponsors makes us basically become our own sponsor. Every tailgater we throw is sponsored by us. No outside money we do it for the love of it. We sponsor each other. And that is how you build a solid team. The other way you do it is with competition. And make no mistake about the women of Hup they bring it. Every race. There was a picture from Gloucester 2010 where Michele and Meg were running up the hill leading to the beer garden. The looks on their faces were so fierce it was incredible. And you could tell they were battling each other. Not just racing but fighting it out. It was awesome.
I am beyond proud of all the women of the NECX whether they are on Hup or not. I am of course beyond grateful to have such amazing teammates as Meg, Kerry (know riding for Zank but always Hup in my mind!), Michele, Joy, Leah, Kristina, Roni, Jane, Elaine, Shirl, Kim, Ana and Lucia (who's team transfer papers are not coming through as quickly as I had hoped!)
The women on Hup have helped me so much its not even funny. I mean in some ways I have learned more from the women over the last three years than men. Its funny. Women are tougher than guys. Its true. They will not bullshit you. When you wuss out and don't ride a woodbridge they will lay into you. Sara still gives me sooo much shit if I dismount in LPR. I can't help it. Some of those bridges are sketchy as hell. How she rides them the way she does still boggles my mind. Her good friend Jane snapped me out of this woodbridge pity party I would have every mtn bike ride. I still suck but every time I ride a wood bridge I have Sara and Jane to thank. Guys (well other than Colin...) will let it slide. I have no idea why. For how hard we are about so many things in the woods what ever happens is fine. When its 20 degrees out and you don't want to get out of the car they will kick you out and tell you to get on the line and race!

The women on Hup have also helped me focus. Its been very well documented how bad my ADD can get. They are not afraid to crack the whip on me and get me to focus on the task at hand. Michele Smith has bailed me out of so many things its not even funny. Her leadership and experience have helped me and Hup out so much. I am so grateful she is a part of our Hup NE family. She really is the main reason I was able to race Night Weasels this year. Meg and Michele held down the fort at reg and then did the awards while I was out playing in the mud.
Joy and Roni not only bring a ton of style to the NECX and Hup but they have taken the HUPcake and cranked it up to 11. Who knew a.) cupcakes could taste so good and b.) they could look so good. Both ladies have taken baking and made it an art form. Some of my greatest memories of racing cross are taking a handup from one of them of their amazing cupcakes.

Kim moved recently to the MAC which was a bummer as we missed her so much this season but I have to say thanks to twitter and fb we were able to live vicariously through her and her amazing season. She rocked it! It was a battle and we are sooo proud of her that she came in 2nd in the 3/4 women in the MAC!

Leah in so many ways is like a partner in grime to me. She is such a badass and so tough she just pushes and inspires me to be half the badass she is. Having her on our 24 hour team up at Great Glen meant so much to me. Sounds stupid but its true. At events like 24HOGG you need people who are tough. Leah is very tough. One of the toughest people I know. But sooo creative and such a positive force. She probably doesn't even know how much she has inspired me over the years even before we were teammates. But its true. I feel really lucky to be able to call her my teammate and friend.

We have added some great new women to the team this season. Elaine (aka Tri Girl Pink) came on the team late in the season. She is good friends with a bunch of my friends and it made so much sense when she asked to be on the team. Again another super creative, fun and talented women who also is such a great competitor. And to top it off she introduced us to the Hupwich....Kristina and Shirl have been another great surprise this year. Two incredible women who have become good friends and Hup in such a short amount of time. Cross is amazing in that it bonds teammates and friends like no other sport that I have participated in. I am not sure what it is about cross. To me its the ultimate team sport. Not in the actual contest but in the build up and the preparation. You need teammates and friends. In the course of a cross season crazy things happen. You need to have each others backs. Whether its to have a teammate chase you all over the course with a Lion of Flanders flag zip tied to a hockey stick screaming his lungs out for you to go hahhdah or for a friend to run your wheels to the pit. It takes a team to make a cx season be a success. And for my money Hup is the greatest team on the planet. Thank you the women on the NECX and especially the women of Hup for bringing it every weekend this cx season. You inspired me, got me stoked, made me freak out, taught me about Power Animals, and showed me there is a better way. Hup! Hup!


  1. Hup would be nothing without you. Thanks for the sweet post and for being the best Hup Supreme ever!!

  2. Awwww, Chip! That's such an excellent post, but you're awesomesauce yerself.
    I mean, sh*t - you made this newbie feel right at home... right down to my ADD.

  3. Chip - you are the best!!!! Thank you for making my first year so special!!!!

  4. And we here at HUP Mid Atlantic are happy to have Kim here! She rocked it and rocked it hard. Great5 post Chip; hopefully we'll see that growth here in the MAC and MABRA races; men's is taking off and I suspect it's only a matter of time till the women do as well.