Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bonking versus Cracking

What the hell is Chip rambling about now right? Bear with me. In my two years of training to perform at the highest level to come in mid-pack in the 45+ category in the nations toughest region for cyclocross I consider myself an expert in these matters. Oh snap, see what I just did there? Never mind. Back to this supposed blog post. How can there possibly be a difference between Bonking and Cracking? Oh there is. Trust me on this. But I will do my best to explain it.

All kidding aside other than mountain biking the thing I suck at even more is endurance riding. Really of any kind. I am good for about 2 hours. After that its a disaster. But I like endurance riding. And like mountain biking a lot of my friends like to ride long distance. And there are some really cool rides you can do but they require some actual preparation. One would ask why do something you suck at? Well what if its something beautiful? What if there is beauty in the suffering? And not to get too heavy handed but the bonds you form on these rides are unlike any you will form on a bike. At least from my experience. Nothing and I mean nothing beats having a friend sing Jay-Z to you and hand you a crumbled old piece of coffee cake from their sweaty jersey pocket 6 hours into a 9-hour suffer fest.

So let's get started. To break it down as simply as possible, Bonking is when your body depletes its glycogen at about say hour 2 and you feel all tired and want to puke. It looks like this Bolt video. I am not going to google this and fact check it. I am not a scientist. I went to art school m'kay? Trust me that is how it works. But maybe you don't believe in Science. Okay that is cool. I guess its like how some people don't believe in a God or something. But the difference is if you don't believe in science and therefore decide your body doesn't need fuel to keep going after hour two real consequences will be unleashed upon you. Unlike say if you don't believe in any God, whether it be the little baby jesus in the gold lame diaper, one-eyed Odin or Shiva the Destroyer. Contrary to popular belief nothing bad will happen to you if you don't actually believe in any of the above. Even though I saw a sign not a week ago in front of a Church telling me different.

So then what is Cracking? Cracking is when either a.) the bad men (or women) have upped the pace so hard that you can't go any hahder. And you "Crack" aka can't tell your legs to "Shut Up" and keep pedaling harder. In a sense it is weakness. But its not always a "mental" weakness. You may have forgot to do squats all winter. Or maybe you just didn't ride your bike and ate bon bons all Spring instead of put on a rain cape and got your sorry ass in shape.

Cracking can also be your body literally breaking down. Again it can be a product of not enough training. Or it can be a product of too much training or an improper fit on the bike. Or again that you are just soft and weak and need to tell your back to shut up because the bad men are not letting up on the hills....

Ok so let's try and work Bonking into a sentence so you can see how to use the word with your cycling pals so they can better understand why you are unraveling on the team ride in April when you said you were "super fit" and totally stoked to hammer and contest townline sprints. So let's say at about hour two you are feeling not so fresh. Maybe a little light headed. I have been so bonked out of my head climbing Mt Tam that I literally started talking to the ground squirrels. "Hi Mr. Squirrel I am bonking so hard I can't even see straight could I please have one of your nuts?" "Nice Squirrely do you have any water?" I mean thank god my "friends" were already up at the Ranger Station drinking their Accelerade and eating all the clif bars. Who needs to actually be able to make rational decisions when you are descending off a switchbacked mtn at 35 mph? I survived. Barely. All I can say is thank God for Mill Valley!

Ok so how about we try it with Cracked. Last year on the Ride On Washington I got up close and personal with "Cracked" What the hell was I thinking going on this death march? I mean seriously. I had about 1 long ride before going into it. I was fat. Well fatter than usual. And out of shape. Remember last winter? Yeah 70 inches of snow does not really translate for a great base building scenario. Ok so fine I am fat and not in cycling shape. Why not go on a two-day "ride" to NYC? This is where at least I saved myself by using my smarts. My trump card? I brought the Hup team car and the worlds best driver. He saved my ass. Literally. More on that later. Ok so let's use it in a sentence now that we have set the stage. I believe if I remember correctly we were at about hour 6? We left Boston in 7 degree weather. It was probably 35 at this point. We had already lost our support vehicles and were hitting some heavy hills. I thought this was going to be all downhill. I guess I should have looked at a topo map. Have I mentioned I am not a climber? Anyway. I feel ok. Timmy and the boys steered me away from all the junk food in the gas station we stopped at and I made "smart" choices.

The gas station was my first chance to talk to this "Chandler" fellow. Nice enough guy. And I almost took a sip of the tall Starbucks frapucinno he offered me. Til Fries looked at me and shook his head "no" Ok so about an hour out from the rest stop we have hit some horrible climbs. I can barely pedal. Why lie I don't have to because Lyne Bessette is pushing me up them. So sad. Then we here word that Chandler has cracked on one of the hills. Apparently he hasn't been riding either. And for some reason Lyne is not pushing him up the hills. He asks to get in the team car. They don't let him in. But he soldiers on and rejoins. He does this at least two or three times before we reach Hartford. I blame the frapucinno.

Ok so now on to what really matters. Both have similar outcomes. And both have similar remedies but the challenge is can you bounce back. Like I said Chandler cracked hard at least 2-3 times. But then was contesting townline sprints on the way to NYC on the longest stage of the ride. How does that work? Well Chan is a machine. He actually has talent and is an actual bike racer. I am a hobbyist. So he can tap into years of cracking and bounce back. Your average rider it gets a bit dicey.

First and foremost. Hydration. But if its over two hours you need food. And you need to do it on a regular basis. One of the coolest rides we do is the Rapha Gentleman's Ride. I learned from Rosey and Murat just how to take care of yourself. Again with the right food and hydration even a schmuck like me can fake it a bit. One thing I have found that is a miracle worked is Endurolyte caps. Rosey had them in a zip loc baggie at the RGR in CT. We actually dropped them at one point. A Geekhouse rider found them and then returned them to us. It was pretty hilarious actually. Here Hup here is your bag of drugs! I was popping those like crazy. And never cramped or cracked.

Sometimes people don't even know they are bonking or about to crack. If you ride with friends enough you start to see tell tale signs. Obviously people go silent. But sometimes they become total chatter boxes. A good sign you are about to bonk is that you start obsessing about food. The other day when I was riding all I could think about was mac n cheese. It literally was pulling me home for an hour like a tractor beam. Sadly when I got home there wasn't any mac n cheese to be found. But it did its job. When we do the RGR now we have one rider set the schedule for eating. And then that person asks each rider if they have eaten. If they say they aren't "hungry" we force them to eat. The problem with bonking is by the time you are actually hungry its almost too late. As Chan proved with his crack you can dig yourself out but its not always pretty.

And if its cracking and involves cramps its going to be a painful process trust me. I had such bad cramps the year I did Battenkill I thought my IT band was going to rip out of my legs. But I kept pedaling. If you stop you are screwed. Seriously. Never, ever stop.

The point of all this? The Ronde is in 6 weeks. It is long. It is hard. Who knows what the conditions will be that day. We will have an aid station sponsored by Hammer Nutrition but be prepared. Team Camelstache has its name for a reason. A camelback holds 70 oz of liquid 2 water bottles hold 42. And again, Gel packs, real food like bananas, fig newtons, bars are key. I would get endurolytes both to ward of cramps and as a "break glass in case of emergency" situation develops on your team. Get the miles in as well. Nothing saves you more from cracking than actually having miles in your legs. Ride and ride lots.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I have always been a HUGE comic book fan. Granted a big part of it was in my early teens and youth. But it really was much more than a passing phase. I went to art school motivated mainly by my ability to draw super heroes. Its odd that I got a bit off track at art school and never really pursued it. I guess that is what can happen in your twenties. Stuff gets a bit foggy. But anyway a lot of the mythology in comic books resonated with me and it seems to resonate with what we do as bike racers.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Hup. In some ways I always thought of Hup as sort of like the Wu Tang Clan. You have your OG/Founders that built this amazing team and then you have all these side projects and other artists (teams) that spun off from the core. In New England we have evolved so much since I first joined up with Hup. Hup is a special team. No other way to say it. I have always said when you put on Hup kit you are no longer anindividual you are part of something greater. And it changes you. To bring it back to comics it gives you powers.
For those unfamiliar with Hup United it was started at Seven about seven years ago. Zac Daab, The Godfather, started Hup United with a small tight nit crew at Seven. Seven and Zac and Hup are still tied so close together. Hup has grown to be a "national" team. Unlike any other national team that I can think of. We have some amazing teammates in Norcal, the MAC, Georgia, the South, The Midwest, Oregon and Seattle. The motto that seems to drive us has always been "one Hup finds another." This helps us avoid some of the dramedies that lots of other teams fall victim to. We are all friends. We support each other. We don't have sponsors so no one is in this to "get stuff" We owe Zac and the OG so much. Zac continues to be such a great support even from 3,000 miles away. Zac moved out to Seattle a while back to start up his own business Cascade Bicycle Studio. He is also a race promoter. He wears a lot of hats and does it well.
OG Hup Zac Daab, Max Kullaway, Bernard Georges

That is a very brief and incomplete version of what Hup "is" but its a good intro to this post. But back to the present. I have been thinking about all the new riders and faces that have joined us on Hup NE the last year. We have some amazing new riders. They have really kicked this whole thing up to 11. Abel is one of this Next Gen Hup. He just has sooo much swagger. And is so positive. He is also indestructible. I mean clearly. So it was no shock when I saw him yesterday as 5 of us were meeting up to search for Satan's Kingdom on our mtn bikes that he announced his new spirit animal. Spirit animals are funny. You can "pick" one. Or a close friend can "pick" one for you. But a true spirit animal finds you. Abel has had some close class this winter. Well close calls isn't really the right word for it. He has been t-boned on his bike by a driver who ran a stop sign and self arrested on some rocks in the Fells using his face. Now for most riders that would be that as they say. Body cast. Jaw wired shut. But not Abel.

So when he said to me his power animal was Wolverine I knew exactly what he was talking about. And totally agreed with him. He clearly is made of adamamtium. And luckily for the NECX he does not seem to have Logan's berskerker rage. He is way too nice for that. All kidding aside thank god Abel is ok. And it points to just what this new crew of Hup are made of. They are all badasses. They have impressed me so much. On and off the bike. 2012 is going to be amazing I really can feel it.
The biggest changes to the team as I have said before is that we have added a big group of women! Over the coming months I will do my best to introduce the new riders. But just to name names we have: Kristina Donehew, Ana Sirianni, Elaine Debitetto, Erika Madeiros, Susan Rogers, Abel, and Mark Van Liere. I am sooo stoked to see what the team does this next season. For me its not about winning. Never has been. As Fatmarc once said what we do is "beer league softball." Its a hobby at best. But what we do is build communities. Grow the sport. Put on and help with amazing events. Push each other. Ride and race hard but do it with class and panache. No bike throwing. No tantrums. Support our partners and those who we believe in. Lofty ideas but all for real with Hup. We don't fake anything just cause it seems cool or what not.

But back to our ride. February and we are mtn biking on a Sunday afternoon! That is an insane statement! For those unfamiliar with New England we should have about 70 inches of snow right now. Even if say it was April the trails should be closed from them being so wet from the snow melt. No snow no snow melt. No snow melt=superhero trail conditions! I met Abel, Rosey, MVL, and Matt Aumiller of Broadway. Matt made an equipment choice to be on ss rigid mtn bike. Well it wasn't really a choice as its his only mtn bike. And I think it gave him a performance advantage to be honest. I mean WTF? How can an old heavy ss rigid 29er go faster than my blinged out Seven Sola with 500 gears? Oh right he is stronger than me. As Rosey said "you have to go fast on a singlespeed" No wonder why singlespeeders are so damn strong. We are all spinning up these nasty gravel climbs and Aumiller is just crushing it!

We set out from Caryl after saying hi to the Park Ranger. Very nice young man. At Caryl you get a little zip tie badge and fill out a waiver. Funny all the walkers and equestrians didn't have to sign a waver. Do you think they think we are mutants and need to be tracked? Probably. Anyway I am not going to complain. We "technically" shouldn't be allowed in the woods right now anyway. And the fact that the ranger was flexible enough to bend the "rules" and let us ride was nice. When I say closed most land in Mass is closed from say Jan-April. Reason being if it is all wet from snow melt and still has perma frost tearing up the trails is not cool. Granted they do let horse tear em up but I guess that is "natural" or something. Sorry I can't help myself.

We all ride in. I am feeling really weird. I haven't been on a mtn bike since last August. Frankly it feels like a clown bike. Why are these wheels so damn small? And why is this bike so slow. I lead as I know the way but its less than optimal. As that last sentence probably alludes to I suck on a mtn bike. To be good at something you have to actually practice right? Much ruckus occurs when I get off halfway across a wood bridge cause it looks "sketchy"

We roll up some fun trails. Lots and lots of "Walkers" I have been watching the Walking Dead lately and am starting to get nervous. Why don't they smile? They must be undead...we pedal faster. We realize real quick that mtn bike fitness is wayyy different than winter road mile fitness. Holy crap it feels like my heart is going to rip out of my chest after the first climb. We find some fun rocks to hop over or trash over depending on our skill set. We have only gone about 4 miles and I have crashed about ten times. But its all fun. Although our singlespeeder is getting cranky. I think its because he has to ride behind me. And I keep dismounting for every stick and pedal on the trail.

In the hunt for Satan's Kingdom we are also doing some serious bushwacking. I think that may be what is making him grumpy. That and we hike up a 500 foot sheer rock face so we can ride some roller coasters. I FINALLY get my act together and ride a drop that I was too afraid of to ride the last time I faced it. Granted that was last winter with some serious baller mtn bikers but still. I see Rosey do it and he doesn't die so I give it a go. Easy breezy. The key for me is to follow riders who actually know what they are doing. Rosey is a great rider to follow. Obviously his skill set is wayyy beyond mine but he is reasonable about it. He knows I suck so its NBD if I get off or what not.

After some super fun rollers and listening to Matt chanelling his inner Ultraendurodude we shred some sick gravel all the way back to the parking lot. Whether we found Satan's Kingdom is questionable. What we did find was some super fun with a damn good crew. I am so pumped for this year. We have a lot of stuff cooking. Next up is the Ronde and some early season mtn biking. Stay tuned. Same Bat channel, same Bat time. Hup! Hup!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

No Rest for the Wicked

This one was almost titled "Friends with benefits" and/or "Boys in Bikinis...Girls on Surfboards" But I just got back from a mini vaca and am not as shahhp as usual. No rest for the wicked works for our purposes. I have not been on a bike in 5 days. This is not a good thing. But it is what it is. It was time for a "rest" week anyway. We all have certainly been putting in sick miles for "winter" Damn I am using a lot of "quotation" marks in a paragraph aren't I? I wonder if the blog police will come after me? But I digress. Not only have we been riding lots. We have been riding hard. I think my friends realize what is expected of me this year and are subtly trying to get me fit so I don't suck. I love them for that. I will play along and pretend I don't notice the insane training we are doing right now. Again its been so much fun you can not put it under the headline of "training" Ok I swear those are the last of the quotation marks.
So this is a tale of two blog posts. They will come full circle trust me. I take forever to order a new bike. I hold on to the ones I have forever. They aren't disposable to me. My bikes have dents on them. Scars that tell stories. Half of them are steel. Oldish steel. And they are amazing. But I have been itching for a new road bike for a while. I have been flirting with lots of ideas. But at the end of the day it all came back to Rock Lobster. Paul has been building me bikes for something crazy like 20 years. Now granted its only been 2 bikes in 20 years but still. We are friends. We have a lot of history. He built my first cx bike way back in the 90s. It was school bus yellow and at least one size too big for me. Back then he did this cool run of production bikes. The last one he had was a 54. I bought it and loved it. My latest RL is a black cross killing machine. It is made of 7000 series aluminum and opened my eyes to the material.

Before this bike I never would have though an aluminum road bike would be a good idea. But I ride my cx bike all year round. And it is the best riding machine I have on road or off. So after all the back and forth about different bikes etc I decided to reach out to Paul and see if he could fit me in. He builds in batches. It is amazing really how many bikes he builds. The timing was perfect. I sent him my deposit and numbers and boom my bike is done. I will have it in my grimy hands in 4-6 weeks. Then we build it up and it becomes a carbon bike killing machine. It is made with some of the last scandium doped tubesets left on the planet. Carbon has killed scandium. Paul wrote a great blog post on the impact carbon has had on tubing manufacturers. When I read it I knew I had to get off my butt and order a frame as soon as I could. I am sooo stoked for the bike. And I owe Paul big time for getting it done so fast and in the midst of his preparation for NAHBS.

Back to the other part of this post. So its been day five off the bike. Acck. Losing it a touch. But its the kids school vacation and I wanted them to have a great time so we headed up to Maine. Nothing like time on the farm with family. Nothing. The girls love the farm. It is tucked into the coast of Maine. It is a combo horse farm/cow farm. The girls can just run all over the place. They had their first true New England Lobster pot feast! We went to Pineland Farms and saw cows, saw cheese being made, ate cheese, bought cheese. Just a great road trip. We are lucky to have such a great family. R&R is almost over. Then its back to sharpening the blade and getting ready for the Ronde.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Il Falco

I have to keep reminding myself its February. But its impossible. My biker brain wakes up, sees the bigball of yellow outside and I want to ride. Like lots. It feels like May in New England right now. I have been riding 5 days a week. I should be doing hot yoga, getting fat and sledding with my kids. Instead I am riding in the drops pushing the pedals over at 40 rpm with Il Falco. Yeah Il Falco is Matt Aumiller's new nickname. We shall see if it sticks. But I guarantee he earned it. Matt and I have been plotting much radness of late. Started with the Ronde 2.5, morphed into Zank SSCX series and now well now I could tell you but then I would have to kill you now wouldn't I? Well suffice it to say. I got an email saying meet me at Blue Hills at 8 am. We will do hill repeats. I believe the number he said was 7. Ummm do you think he realizes just how old, fat and slow I am? Maybe its best if he doesn't. So I kiss my beautiful wife and roll out at 7 am. Its a great ride over. I get there a touch early and in Hank the Tanks words decide "I will do one" A couple of other dudes are on the access road as well. I catch my 1 minute guy right at the switchbacks where the road kind of kicks you in the nuts. NBD as he is in a hi-viz rain cape and seems more tourist than racer. Like me I suspect his faster friend was taking pity on him and trying to make him faster. He gave me a "great job" and I paid the favor back.
I descended at what I thought was a good pace. Still no Matt. NBD. The good thing with this type of ride is even if your ride partner is late (well I was early) you know where the dirty work will happen. No one, even if they want to, is going anywhere other than up that horrible piece of rock. I text Matt and tell him I am going to do a lap around Blue Hills. Its a bit longer than I thought. But damn its gorgeous. Later Matt and I would be talking about the climb and riding around BH. Before I could even say anything he said "it reminds you of out West doesn't it?" It really does. Like a 1/100 scale model of Mt Diablo. Seriously. Obviously the scale is what is different but other than that. Very similar. This will be my crucible. My Goat Hill if you will. So we do one climb together tranquilo. Then we do one in the drops, seated at like 45 rpm. Holy shit. I have never done that before. Then Matt earned his new nickname. As we start dropping down the access road he just goes bombastic! The ONLY person I have seen descend like that is Joe Breeze. Seriously. No brakes, using the whole road. Full euro style descending. Guy is a demon. Impressive to say the least. So I am gonna put it out there. I am going full euro, eastern bloc training from now on. Well without the testosterone patches and blood bags.
My next little project is hinted at above. I love my current road bike. I really do. When I say I am getting a new one people always look at me like I am crazy. My S3 belgie blue Sycip is a thing of beauty. Jeremy was doing the handbuilt thing long before most of these dudes even where out of high school. I love that guy like a brother. But the man who mentored him and built my first cross bike? That would be Paul Sadoff of Rock Lobster. I had Paul build me a cx frame 3 years ago. I can't believe its been that long. Ever since I got that bike I have been telling him I was going to put in an order for a scandium "carbon bike killing machine" of a road frame. Well I sent that check. Let' see if I can cash it. I think it needs to be belgie blue just like the Sycip.
I also got a chance on Saturday's ride to finally go to Cafe Fixe. I have heard of it of course but never been there. In true Roger De Vlaeminck style we rolled up to the team ride with lots of miles in our legs. Ok maybe not. RDV used to put in like 200k before meeting other riders. I think we got like 45 k. But anyway. We roll up and I see a big group of Threshold, then like 40 dudes in spandex crammed into the tiny cafe. We meet up with Ben, Seth, Andrew and Billy and they give me an escort home. Such a great way to get the riding started for the weekend. This will be my saturday from now on. Such a great time

I also got this little gem in the mail. Soft Like Kitten is my "secret team" I "met" Robert through a couple of friends. Stevil and Michele. I can't think of two more opposite people than those two. But they share one thing that is for sure. The love of the bike and are such great people. And friends. Robert has put together a great crew up in the PacNW. They are doing some really cool things. Wish 3,000 miles and some wasteland didn't separate Boston and Seattle. I know I would love hanging out with them. For now I will wear that hat on all my hardman rides. Or just at Cafe Fixe drinking doppios and eating pastries.

Monday, February 13, 2012


The Lion and the cockroach have had an unholy alliance of late. Hup and Cambridge (now Broadway Bicycle School race team) have always had a shared bond. What we (Hup) may lack in ironic mustaches, tattoos and model like hipster good looks we make up with a love of steel bicycles, hardman/hardwoman training, cyclo-cross, good beer and cupcakes. And then there is of course the kits. Which team has more kits is debatable. I would have to give the edge to Hup but I am not 100% sure of this. Both kits are sick. Both kits use choice iconography and dramatic use of color/design. I won't lie I love the CB hi-viz green. They pretty much got that ball rolling long before it was the in color. Two of my all time favorite people to ride with are Scott Rosenthal (Hup) and Matt Aumiller (BBS). On saturday the three of us set out to do recon for the Ronde 3.0. All the details for the Ronde 3.0 are here. We had some great ideas. And I won't lie to you this years Ronde is LONG. And hard. We logged about 70 miles. 7 hours. About 5 1/2 actual riding time. We stopped for coffee at mile 30 and lunch at mile 60. We cracked a bit. Nothing major but we kept joking about how hard it is. But its supposed to be hard. I will also say it has an amazing flow to it. And the new trails we found are off the hook.
Friday night all the weather channels were saying we were going to get 3-6 inches of snow. I was beyond jacked up about this. I was a little nervous as I knew it would be a long day of riding saturday but there is nothing like riding a cx bike on fresh powder. Its a great feeling. I rolled out of my house to some small flakes. I met Rosey and Matt at Cutler at about 8:30. They both looked like they were ready for war. We popped into Cutler and did the usual loop. There were small sections that had some snow but not much at all. By the time we popped out on the West Roxbury side the snow had basically stopped. We got through sans Zombie attacks and with zero incidents. We had to do a hot lap on the pump track which as always is a blast.
We headed to south street and then into needham town forest. Again everything was going according to plan. No flats, mechanicals etc. That is actually saying something as some years Cutler eats bikes and rear mechs alive. We have our first close call rolling out of NTF. Someone. I assume a park person put a really low cable across the end of the trail. You could barely see it with all the brown leaves on the ground. Luckily Rosey stopped right in time before certain death....we avoided our first problem with little more than a "wtf? Why would anyone put that across a trail?" But its a good reminder that the Ronde has no rules. You never know what the fuck you are gonna see on these trails. I will say this Boston is blessed with so much open space. Out west 90% of this would be illegal. And if you built trails on it you would risk going to federal prison. Not that I know anyone who would build trails on any of this stuff.....
We jet over to Ridge Hill and through Wellesley. I show off the newly built fun zone that is up top on the loop. Some resourceful bmxers have built a pretty badass drop in zone up there. We railed it and kept moving. After popping out in Wellesley center we decided to stop for a doppio and an apple fritter. About 30 miles in we were feeling good. I took some bike pile pictures. Which I might add still blows my mind. We were basically on our own mini NAHBS cx tour. An Igleheart, a Zank, a Rock Lobster. 3 edge forks. 3 lazer helmets. Badass.

After the doppios we were feeling pretty perky so we upped the pace a touch. Rolling up clif road I started to feel a crack coming on. Aumiller was putting out some serious watts on the road sectors. And I was just trying to hang on for dear life. The key to the Ronde IMHO is managing both the terrain and your energy. You can make up some serious time on the road sectors. Or you can rip the legs off your teammates. Its a balance. With Rosey and Matt we are able to find that balance point pretty well. But a word of warning pick your teamates wisely. You will only be as fast as your slowest teammate. We hit the reservoir. We aren't sure if we are "allowed" access here or not. No one tazes us so it must be ok. We get to Weston and hit the craziest hike a bike I have had to deal with in quite some time. We get to the rail bed and Rosey pins it. What is cool about this ride is it plays to different peoples strengths. When ever Rosey sees a straight gravel or dirt road it is on! I like that about Scott. For the record the trails are in amazing shape. Not too wet. Pretty solid. Very little ruts. On the rail bed my bike starts complaining. I really don't see what the problem is. Just because I haven't changed the cables and housing since October it should work. Shouldn't it?
Rosey crushes the Lincoln road strava segment. We come out on 117. We cross over to Concord and go into Walden Pond. Oh man. I have been wanting to explore Walden forever. The ghost of Thoreau is all around us. Or the Blair Witch. It gets a little foggy in there not gonna lie. We come upon a very helpful trail runner. She just moved to Concord from Colorado so that explains why she is so friendly to three bikers who are looking a bit rough around the edges at this point. She points us in the right direction and off we go. We drop into trails that could be in Colorado. Beautiful. We come out and deadend at rt 2. Hmmm. We see a sidewalk on our left and take it. Its a bit sketchy. Aumiller hits sand and crashes. I feel horrible that I wasn't able to hold him up but he is a lot bigger than I am. He is unscathed. Just a bit dirty (er).

We head over to Concord. Hit the Bedford rail trail. From there we hit all the good stuff on the way to Lexington. In lexington we stop at Panera and get lunch. We see Joy and Cindy and I go say hi. So many people got out last saturday on cx bikes. I swear people are riding there cx bikes in the NECX right now more than they do during cx season. Not to get off topic but I think cx season sucks for riding. There I said it. You end up having to train so specifically. And you end up racing every weekend. So you miss going on big cx rides with your friends. To be honest riding saturday with Matt and Rosey was better than an entire cx seasons worth of racing. Anytime Matt speaks french to me over lunch it is a good day ; )

We leave Panera and head over the hill into Belmont. At Belmont we say our goodbyes. I get home around 3:30. Holy crap. If there is anything better than spending all day with good friends riding cx bikes I don't know what it is. Thanks to Rosey and Matt. Such good friends. And such good riding partners. Team Camelstache will be bringing it. Get your teams together. Get riding. As Eddy would say "ride lots" Its gonna be a long day. Lots of bail outs if you have to. Again what is amazing about Boston is that all of these great trails are soooo close to towns. I think you will need to stop for food. But that is me. Wellesley is a good stop point for water, gatorade etc. Lexington or Concord is a good idea for lunch or to grab some food. I rode a Clement LAS rear tire which I loved! And a mud 2 front. I think that is the perfect combo to be honest. You need a front knobby so you can enjoy some of the great trails. But its nice to have a file tread in the rear for the pave.

Hope to see the whole NECX on April 15th. Will the Vagiants come out of retirement and crush souls? I sure hope so...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is it safe?

It just hit me what we need to do to make the roads safer for cyclists. It hit me as I almost hit a cyclist while driving my kid to school in the manvan. The irony of that and what that would have done to me is not lost on me. But I digress. What we need to make the roads safer from the masses anyway. Not the asshole, aggressive driver that endangers everyone on the road. The responsible driver. Like 80% of the driving public if you will. And obviously I am being generous here. What we need to make the road safer for cyclists is for drivers to drive like cyclists. What does that mean? Does that mean texting and driving because you race a bunch of crits and you can process information faster than say a soccer mom? No. Does it mean taking another driver into the tape during rush hour or shutting down gaps cause gaps only open? No. It means driving with the understanding of what a bike can do on a road. Mainly how a rider navigates traffic and how fast it can move in certain situations.

So my personal horror story that wasn't this am. So I am tired. Shit I am always tired. I drive Syd in cause she missed the bus. I am not rushing. But Syd is talking with me about her new theater troup that she just started. She is really into it. I am not distracted but there is a white noise going on. As I get closer to school there are a ton more distractions. Kids biking, walking, moms with strollers, dog walkers, construction trucks. Blah, blah, blah the burbs. Then I see an embro rider come tearing down the hill I am about to turn onto to get to Syd's school. It is a very steep hill and on a bike or car you can easily get to 45 at the bottom if you don't brake at all.

He is on a hi-viz Igleheart or Gaulzetti. Again I am driving so I can't process it too closely. I make the turn and a part of my cyclist brain clicks on. It says " damn that must have been pretty sketchy for that embro rider" He was probably going 40. He had to deal with kids on a crosswalk, a crossing guard, cars rushing to work and to get kids to school. A lot of potential for disaster. So I make the right turn. I get stuck behind the traffic that the crossing guard has stopped. Again I am not in a rush but Syd is talking to me. I get the wave and head up the steep hill. The drivers behind me are impatient as they know I am going to take a left and stall them as they are rushing to work or whatever. Cars are coming down the hill at me at about 40. Gaps are tight. Its busy cause its rush hour. So you have to time it. A good gap is there. I am about to turn left. And an alarm goes off in my head and I think about that embro rider. Low and behold there is a commuter tucked in right next to the van coming towards me. I didn't see him at first because he was slightly behind the vehicle. I didn't turn. He would have been screwed if I turned. The car next to him could have slowed easily. Could the biker have? Who knows. I am glad we didn't have to see how good his brakes and reactions were.

But it made me pause. If all drivers rode bikes imagine the difference it would make. All those dumb ass right hooks and bullshit accidents that happen every day in every city of the USofA would disappear or at least would be reduced dramatically. Motorcyclists have made lobbying efforts to try and educate the driving public to "look twice, save a life" makes a ton of sense to me. Who knows maybe the RoW crew can pitch it when they get to DC...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Winter White

Have you ever seen the movie the "Butterfly Effect"? Horrible, Horrible movie. Ashton Kutcher. Movie built around the Chaos theory that a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. I think this was part of Lost as well. Stephen Kings new book is sort of about that also. Sometimes my life feels that way. Not in a bad way but in a what is real and what is not real way. Or what if I did x back ten years ago where would I be right now...anyway that is maybe too heavy for a silly blog post on a Friday after Groundhog Day. I guess the crux of it is how the internet has woven all our lives, past and present together. Last weekend was awesome. But its a perfect example of this idea. I went on a really great ride with one of my teammates. We just spun an easy gear. Talked about weddings, team transfers, just caught up. It really was perfect. On the way back on South street I sensed a larger group coming up on us. I looked back and it just looked like the Borg mothership about to assimilate us. I told Joy a crew was coming up. NBD. But when the group latch on at a light I looked back and I saw the Threshold Wolf Pack all beards and smiles. Nice! That crew just gets me going. Lots of great guys on the team obviously but they just have an energy about them that I love. Doesn't hurt that they have that big yellow Lion of Flanders on the back pocket of their jersey either.
Our own little version of the Bossburg

So as I sat in talking to Ken, then Dan we just moved through a rotation. At one point I was next to a guy in a very familiar kit. I said hi. Looked down and saw the Team Roaring Mouse logo! Ha. So I say to him "nice kit." Now this is Boston. You don't know if someone is saying nice kit cause its a nice kit or they are some chucklehead DB trying to start some shit with you. So the guy really doesn't say anything. Then I laugh and say no really nice kit. Then I tell him about my having a bunch of friends on Team Roaring Mouse back in the Bay Area and that I lived out there for almost two decades. That eases his natural fear of Bostonians and we chat a bit. I peel off and head home just feeling good about life. Sunday I stay glued to my lap top watching CX Worlds. On Monday I get an email from Dennis. Dennis is one of the two or three people who really got me into cross. He was the guy who got me onto the Sycip team, mentored me all along the way. Really was one of my best friends in SF. And he writes the best race reports of anyone I know. Frankly race reports are a dying art.

Dennis photo by Jeff Namba

Then today I am cruising the interwebs and I see Stevil has posted D's report! Along with photos! I ripped the above photo of Dennis off AHTBM. I hope Stevil doesn't find me and nut punch me....Long story short it was so great to hear from Dennis and see him ripping it up. And hear it now and believe me later. Next Fall I will be making a pilgrimage back to SC. Thinking Halloween weekend. Sure why not dig myself a deeper hole. I will be racing for the SSWC of Cyclo-cross. And if I win it you better believe I am coming home with a tattoo on my left butt cheek. Even if it is Barney...

So among all these ripples through time or the interwebs is the next part of this blog post. Team Transfer Season. Wow. I have never seen so much team shake up on an amateur level in my life. The cockroach now becomes Broadway instead of Cambridge, riders are swapping teams left and right, and the Mad Alchemy/Verge Rider Cooperative is born. I personally like the words Syndicate or Mafia but I see where these guys are going with it. Hup NE has grown! Big time. We have added a lot of new faces. Some came on at the end of the cx season and others have come aboard via friends. Or friends of friends. I am really excited where Hup NE is right now. We have the same great core of OG Hup that built this team from the get go but now we have this next gen. It reminds me a bit of X-Men and X-Men Next Generation. I will do a formal intro of all the new riders but let me just say Hup will be bringing it next year. I think we have gone from a Wolf Pack to a swarm of Killer bees...

Last thoughts on this jumble of a blog post. This "winter" has been bananas. I don't think its possible to "overtrain" But maybe you can go too deep. I have been open about my Strava addiction. Not even sure what it all means. It just motivates me unlike any other tool out there. Some people love Powerdata etc. I like to see where I have been. And then get inspired by other riders to maybe try a new route or maybe try mtn biking in a certain area I haven't tried before. So in no planned fashion I have been building a base. Again nothing structured. Just riding. I decided this week to do the CRW 60. I have literally never done it. I have been on a lot of the roads that make it up but never done the whole loop. So I set out. Found some amazing roads I have never been on before. Then when I got to Holliston I cracked. To pieces. Just did what we do. Ate what food I had. Kept moving. I wanted to stop so bad. But I kept think WTF? Its only been 40 miles. How can I crack at 40 miles? I had already done about 250 in the last two weeks in January...I got home. Took care of myself then woke up sick. Again I have not been pushing myself. No intervals. Just a tick up in mileage and a switch from Cx in the woods to road. But I have been dealing with a lot of pressure. A shit ton. More than any time in my life. And I have been sitting in Hospital waiting rooms while people sneeze and cough all around me. So I got taken down. Need to be smart about it. All I WANT to do is keep logging in miles. It seems like the only place my mind is quite right now. Maybe that is why people end up doing more endurance when they get older. Its gives you space. And time.

Ok that is enough of my endless rambling. I blame it on the fog that is my brain right now. Kudos to my good friend Dennis for rocking so hard its not even funny. He still inspires me from 3,000 miles away. Keep writing those reports D! And please keep sending them. I will see you next Fall!

Hup! Hup!