Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bonzo's Rules

If it moves. Smash it. If it doesn't move. Smash it. Bonzo is of course John Bonzo Bonham of Led Zeppelin fame....I forget where or when that got etched in my brain. But its been coming to the surface right now on so many levels. I have been smashing my bikes. My friends have been smashing their bikes. And I am moving from what was in my mind a cross mindset of getting off the bike and running obstacles to trying to ride them. And more often than not its resulting in me either a.) smashing my bike b.) smashing myself c.) smashing into said object or d.) all of the above in no particular order.
But all this smashing is beginning to result in some smoother riding. That seems counterintuitive. But I am beginning to see some improvements. I am almost able to use some body english to get over stuff without smashing my rear wheel into it. Mtn bike racing begins this weekend at Hopbrook. Its going to be a new chapter. I have never raced mtn bikes in the NE. A whole lotta the NECX is piling in my van and heading south Sunday. I am pretty stoked to say the least.
The Ronde is in two weeks. I am beginning to freak out about it. Not because we have so much to do or it stresses me out but because it is feeling like its going to be one of the best Ronde's ever. So many people are coming into town to ride it. So many of our friends who we haven't seen since last cx season will all be together to get lost in the woods, shred the gnar and then hang out at Washington Square Tavern and drink beers, talk story and eat cupcakes. Oh man that reminds me I need to order Hupcakes!
I finally finished watching season one of Game of Thrones. I think that has me thinking of Bonzo's Rules a lot right now. That show just hits me to the core. A lot surely has to do with as Joseph Campbell termed "The Power of Myth" I have Anglo-Saxon mythology so deep in my DNA. So many crazy Irish women in my life. And I wouldn't have it any other way. The show is fictional obviously but so much of our Mythology is fiction. WINTERISCOMING my friends. I hope you are ready.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mo Better Bike

I have said it once I will say it a million times. I have the coolest friends on the planet. I am soooo lucky to have moved home and to have been able to experience the NECX and all its radness. Matt Roy sent up a smoke signal (tweet) that a cx ride was brewing for Sunday. Well it has been documented how badly I blew my cross bike to pieces. So I emailed him and said yeah I would love to go on a cx ride with you guys. But and the but was would it be ok if I rode my mtn bike. He kindly said sure but in his words everything is awesomer on a 'cross bike...truer words have never been spoken. He said he had a bike I could borrow. And to just bring my pedals. I tend to be a pretty giving guy but have a hard time borrowing or taking things from other people. And certainly when it comes to bikes I never want to borrow someone's bike and smash it. With my track record you can see why this is a concern

Some of the NECX's finest by Matt Roy. The Wilcox, I have no idea who that guy is and why he is off the bike, Roger Cadman, Mo, Cait

I show up at Matt and Mo's place on a cold morning with my Seven Sola mtb in tow. A fine crew is assembled and eating pancakes and having coffee. We all kit up and head down to MMRacing Service Corse. Now I am beginning to freak out. I have a thing with mancaves. Or bike rooms. Matt and Mo have the most insane bike room of anyone I have ever met. Matt so nicely pushes me to accept borrowing one of Mo's bikes. Not a beater bike her 'B' race bike. A full on world cup worthy Seven Mudhoney SLX. I resisted a bit almost to the point of being a pain in the butt. Matt said so nicely let's just measure the bikes and see if you fit on it. 66. Yep my saddle height and Mo's are exactly the same. Karma. Mo and I basically fit exactly the same on a cx bike. We literally just put pedals on the bike and rode off. Didn't change one thing. I slightly complained on the roll out that the bars were too low. Mo was having none of that euro hoods pointed skyward bs and we kept rolling. My friends sheepishly started giving me advice on double tap. There was some heckling going on for sure. I know I am a Campy guy. I might as well be a rodeo clown. It would be less out there I think. It took me all of ten minutes to get double tap. And I won't lie I liked it. Very crisp.

We had our first flat about 30 minutes in. No biggie. It was a nice place to stop and have a quick snack etc. I know its road season, or mtn bike season or whatnot but in reality cross season is never over. Ever. I have ridden lots of bikes. I am like a diva when it comes to my own bikes. I literally squirm around and complain and change things like 1 mm at a time. But what is still blowing my mind about Sunday's ride is I never complained or squirmed. The bike fit me that well. I had to get used to the lower levers and now see why people on SRAM descend sketchy stuff in the drops but other than that it was like a cx epiphany. They say the bike can't make you a better rider. I call bullshit on that. This bike made me a wayyy better rider. I have some thoughts on why but I need to talk with Matt & Mo and Rob a bit to have solid info to relate about it. I even liked the Fizik women's saddle that was on the bike. The last time I rode with resultsboy he went on and on about his style of SRAM-slam shifting. After riding with Red and the gearing that was on this bike I see what he was talking about. This bike had a 44/36 with a 12-28. Belgian mud gearing is what Matt called it. It was sooo nice. I run a 39x25 for my smallest gear and that is not cutting it. I need to decide what to do before next season.
But back to the ride. Matt and Mo took us on an awesome loop through the Fells. The Fells are really rocky and rooted. Not overly technical on the trails we rode on but proof that a cross bike can pretty much do it all. Obviously there are things you can't ride that you could on a mtn bike but the ride we went on was 100% rideable. We had a few flats, Cait shredded her rear derailler off at one point. Deraillers are getting smashed at an alarming rate in the woods right now. That is 3 in one week...Shiva may be trying to tell us something. That or there are a lot of sticks in the woods right now. At one point we came around a bend and Mo was swinging from a swing just hanging from a tree limb next to a pond. I love rides like this! Good solid rides. Some competition. We had some pretty spirited hill climbs on gravel. And Mo threatened to put me into the tape at one point. Well the pond actually. It was sort of my fault as I had no brakes at one point overcooked a corner and almost chopped her on a sand section as we were going across a beach. It was pretty hilarious.

Towards the end of the ride I tried to hang back and watch how Mo rode sections. Watching a PRO like Mo ride in the woods on a cross bike is priceless. You start to see little things that you never would think about doing. We rode some crazy section behind the Stone Zoo that reminded me of some of the hobo style trails in Golden Gate Park. It was just such a great time. Playing on the cx bikes. Cracking each other up. Shredding the Gnar.

I will say this about the Seven I got to ride. It was the nicest riding machine I have ever ridden. Now Matt is a legend as far as bike set up and maintenance. He put some of those skills to work when we had the derailler explosion. But it certainly shouldn't be a surprise that a bike he built and set up works this nicely. But it points to how Pro, PRO can be. A PRO bike just works better than your bike. I am sorry but its true. I had one missed shift. It was fairly amusing as we were on a transition and I decided to utilize Colin's slam shifting technique ie., going from big to little ring right before a climb. It made some noises in protest but dropped to the 36. It did make some crunching sounds and both Matt and Mo's heads turned back to look down the climb and see if I had just destroyed their bike. Thankfully I hadn't. The bike was very light. But was sooo solid. Like I said we were both climbing and descending on rough gravel and going over boulders etc. It proves that a cx race bike can be a fantastic trail bike. It was way more responsive than I had expected. Often when you think of ti you think of it being pretty flexi. Shoot my steel bikes are super flexi. Especially when you stand up and grind up something. But not this bike. You stood up and it was like putting an accelerator to the floor. All the watts went right into the wheel. No deflection at all.

Cait Dooley getting rad on the bike and off-photo by Matt Roy

My brain is still trying to figure it all out. I was sort of joking with Matt and Mo if this was part of the Seven "Trade In Program" I would seriously have left my Sola behind and taken the cx bike home. In a heartbeat. Huge thanks to Matt and Mo. Huge thanks to my good friends Cait, David and Roger for letting me hang with them and get rad in the woods. Sorry if my endless chatter got to be a bit much. It is my version of freaking out...Bikes rule....

One last thought. And I don't know why it just hit me. Matt and Mo are awesome. We all know this. At least anyone who has ever met them knows this. And Mo is a badass. 100%. She is a legend for how she shines in tough muddy cross races. If the NECX respects one thing in its heroes it is that. Rising to the tough conditions. We love that. But she is also one of the most humble people I have ever met. So nice but also so strong and such a ambassador for the sport. One thing that hit me as I was driving home after the ride was how much both of them give back. And not just the default "give back" that fills every bike clubs sponsorship pitch. They both do so much for cycling and the community. It is obvious that Mo has really taken on a mentoring role in a lot of female cyclocross racers this last couple of seasons. Mo deserves a lot of credit for fostering this next generation of female cross racer and developing them into racers. Its easy to miss it as Mo is one of us. Or because we are all friends. But what she is doing for these young woman is so important its not even funny. I tip my hat to both of them. Such class acts and such good friends.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012



This is a public service announcement for all of those doing the Ronde. Bring a chain tool. A good one. I now will never leave the house without my crank brothers multi tool. Ever. I love that thing. It is now going to be wrapped in a velvet blanky and put to bed with a kiss every evening in the mancave in a place of honor. It saved my ass today. I took the long way home after dropping off the man van at the car dealership. I was having a great ride. I always thought I was smarter than other people who ripped their rear derailler hanger off their bikes. I thought you just have to be in tune with the bike, be the bike all that hippie dippy bs. Well I was literally Just Riding Along when BOOM. Ripped right off the hanger.


I was 5 miles from home. No way I was walking. No way was I calling anyone to get me as they would never have found me. The last time I did this Matt Aumiller had to push me all the way home. After that day I refused to ever let that happen again. So I got to work. I found the magic gear and blam brand new Rock Lobster singlespeed. I rode home! I was sooo stoked to have been able to figure out how to fix it, it didn't even dawn on me to be bummed. But be warned. Deraillers will be ripped off. Lots and lots of them. Bring a chain tool Be prepared to make a McGyver singlespeed in the woods.

Where do you put all that cable?

The woods are incredible right now. So dry and fast. 3 weeks and we are riding all the trails! Hup! Hup!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ronde Hupdate

A public service announcement for Ronde 3.0! Little over three weeks until Ronde 3.0. The teams have been set, course has been mapped, bikes and bikers are hopefully tuned and have miles in their legs! I mentioned it before but it is worth repeating. Ronde 3.0 is longer than usual. By about 20 miles. I went out yesterday and rode a lot of it on my road bike. For the record I do not necessarily recommend this. I only had so much time so I chose the fastest machine. I found out pretty much in spades that a 23 mm tire pumped to 100 psi does not work the same as a 34 pumped to 55...what a shocker! No flesh was lost just a bit of an ego bruising and some numb hands. But the course right now is FAST! The trail bed is sandy but has zero mud. All this can change obviously. But what will not change is the effort required to do the miles. I went through 3 water bottles. My 51 miles took me 3 hours. I stopped in Concord for Ice Coffee and a muffin.

The most important aspect to the Ronde other than riding with panache and supporting your teammates will be staying fueled. Whether that is liquids, food etc. To this end Hammer Nutrition is fueling the Ronde! We are really happy to have them as a sponsor this year. They are being very generous and we really appreciate their support. Hammer products, specifically the Endurolyte caplets have saved me on more than one long ride. Rosey nursed me through the Rapha Gent's ride 2 years ago with them. I won't name names but a certain ECV rider was getting a little rough around the edges last year half way through the JAM FUNdo until I started feeding him Endurolytes. They are like a magic bullet in endurance events. Matt Miller will be manning the feed somewhere in Concord. We will give you the actual location when we get a little closer to the event. But it will be a great new part of the ride. I would highly recommend getting at least one or two of the packets and putting them in your jersey pockets.

The other thing I wanted to talk about is why we do the Ronde. Other than the obvious excuse for a great ride and a challenge we do it as a fundraiser for Bikes Not Bombs. ALL the proceeds go to BNB. Entry fees and our raffle are how we fundraise for this great organization. Last year we raised $1,300. This year we would like to raise at least $1,500. We have a bunch of great prizes to raffle this year. Our raffle sponsors include: Mad Alchemy, Hammer,
Ride Studio Cafe, Newbury Comics, and Firefly. I am also raffling Ryan Kelly's shoe laces. Ok boot laces. They are from Timberland. They are HOTT....we will also have some nice swag items and some surprises. So please be sure to buy some raffle tickets and support Bikes Not Bombs. Oh and I am selling my socks. Not the actual socks I am wearing in the picture below. Those ones are pretty gross at this point. But the same Lion of Flanders socks made by Vermarc. They give you watts trust me. Do you see how much I am elevating over that barrier? I am a Hobbit. No way I can run like that. Its the socks. I am selling them for $5 each. They are brand new. I have a bunch of size small and a handful of larges. If you want to buy them before the Ronde send me an email at Or just bring $5 to the ride. All the proceeds from the LOF socks go to BNB.
I can't even wait for the ride. I hope everyone is as stoked as we are. Thank you to Rosey for making this such a great event. Thanks to Gerry at Washington Square Tavern for being such a great supporter of cycling and our community. Thanks to all the sponsors and riders. See you in 2 weeks! Hup! Hup!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Twenty years later the green Saeco kit still fits. A new St Paddy's day tradition is born! Met up with the Broadway BS race team all clad in Kelly Green! First group ride of the season. So nice to be back in the wolf pack. Riding solo sucks. It is sooo much harder. And not just from a staying out of the wind stand point. Humans are social creatures we need friends. It helps the miles go by and makes them so much more enjoyable. Spring is here! Hup! Hup!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ride or Die

So yeah I have these really badass friends. Like with real skills and stuff. And once in a while they take pity on me and try and help me suck less. I love them all for that I really do. So the other day when I got a text from Ultranedurodyude himself wanting to go mtn biking I was pretty stoked. And then he texted me back and said he was working on a bunch of how to videos for his website. And then the stoke began to turn to fear. And then he texted me back and said lets ride NTF cause its harder. Harder? That is an understatement. In UED own word's it is "Nature's own hatchet factory" There are rocks and then there are axe heads. NTF is all axe head. I have never seen so many sharp rocks in my life. The forest just looks angry. But even though Thom may look and sound like a menacing Townie he really is just playing a role for his weblog. At least I think he is playing a role. What if the role becomes reality? In the woods. Like when I am looking over the edge of some chasm of death and he gets pissed and beats me with a stick? Never mind. The key to riding this stuff is putting the bad thoughts in a little box. And then locking it. And losing the key in a dark, dark place in your psyche.
UED was a little late for our session as the kids like to call it as he was delivering eggs to Dave Chiu. Not even joking. While I was waiting for Thom I did a few laps in NTF. This was not good for my overall mindset. I mean it seemed worse than I imagined. LPR and The Fells are hard but this place just seems like it wants to maim you. When you consider who built the trails it starts to actually make sense. The tough build tough trails. End of story. So yeah I am freaking out why lie. But then Thom being Thom and he puts on the full on Broons kit and I started freaking out less. Then he busts out a Mo Bruno Roy quote as we head into the woods and I just can't hold back laughing. In his best Mo voice " oh they changed the course and made it hahder, there is no crying in cyclocross. If you are gonna cry just get in the cahhr and go home." I am glad I didn't get in my car and head home cause the 3 hrs I spent in the woods with Thom I learnt more about riding on the east coast than the last 7 years combined.
So we get to the first tricky bit. Its a 2 foot rock ledge. Thom makes this shit look so easy. I roll up to and stop. No way. He turns his GoPro off and comes back. He is actually very cool. He could have been all "Dyude, what is your problem its no bigger than a f'n curb. Take your man panties off and drop off that shit..." But no. He actually broke it down. Step by step. He rolled it a few times. Mentioned riding it like a gorilla and getting way off the saddle. Then he said think of it as a couple of steps and don't look at all that other stuff. Yeah I do have a problem with the "other stuff" I can picture it ripping holes through my soft fleshy parts. Oh see there I go again. So I let all that go. Back up get some speed and ride it. Nice. Then we find a log. Have I mentioned I don't ride logs? Probably not. He hops his 29er ss like ten feet over it. Then he asks me to do it. Nah man. No way. Come on he says its like 2 curbs. His turning every death dealer on the trail into traffic furniture is actually sheer brilliance. That and he knows he is dealing with a roadie clearly. So ok he takes a few passes at it and gets me to try it. I get the front wheel over ok and keep casing the rear wheel. After about ten times I finally clear the log. It ain't pretty but my collarbone is intact and I think it may be a repeatable skill.
I swear when he was telling me how to hop the log I could not stop thinking about a video from way back at Downeast of JPow giving a tutorial in barrier hoping. Thom may have even been the one who made that video. It is a classic. We ride all over NTF. We bump into Martini Junction. Holy crap. Its like walking into a Fairy House or something. It is a full on train set in the middle of Needham Town Forest. It is incredible. We check it out for a while and then head back out. We ride some really cool stuff. I learn the term "ratcheting" and again with the ride like a gorilla. Its starting to sink in a bit. But the trails are so bananas that its hard to tie it all together. A huge part of it is clearly mental and another big part is the commitment to the move. Seeing him ride up, or lunge up would be a better term for it, boulders is wild. I try it a few times but am pathetic.
So long story short Thom may have saved me from utterly embarrassing the NECX as I attempt a campaign racing mtn bikes this summer. I have a NORBA license or should I say a USUCK mtn bike license. It says I am a cat 2...hahaha. Yeah I am a cat 2 alright. Oh boy this should be fun. Hopbrook will be the first time racing mtn bikes in over a decade. I may also be racing on a sick Zank 29er ss at a few of these races. Well I will in fact be doing just that. That will be a topic for a whole other blog post. Have I mentioned that Thom rides a 29er ss? Um yeah he does in fact. I have a long way to go I will say that...Thanks Ultraendurodyude for an awesome time getting rad in the woods.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pressure Drop

That title has a couple of meanings..... In one sense it alludes to just how much pressure I have been under lately. And it also refers to literally a drop in pressure ie in how much air pressure I am putting in the tires in my mtn bike right now. Resultsboy has been heckling me about running tubes in my mtn bike tires for about 3 years. What has kept me from switching is just that realistically I am not that big a mountain biker. So the effort to do it just seemed not worth it. But its come a long way in a couple of years. The stories of tires exploding in peoples shops and spraying liquid latex all over a ten foot blast radius are rare. The system is pretty much dialed right now. So when I put my Sola in for a "spring" tune up right after kicking the white sex to 11 I asked them to convert the tires to tubeless. What you have never heard the term white sex before? Thank Mud and Cowbells for that one. It refers to adding classy touches of white to one's self and one's bike. So white grips, white housing...boom white sex.

But back to the tubeless thing. I was fairly skeptical. But I figured what is the worst that could happen? I started at about 30. Then resultsboy yelled at me over the internet. I dropped it to 25. Then one of the guys from Riverside gave me a twitter tip to drop it more. I dropped it to 22. Damn. For the record it does not ride like a tubie. I hear that sooo many times. But its so not true. A tubie at 22 is like butter. A set of Racing Ralph's at 22 starts to actually grip the trail but does not have that supple, plush rubber goodness of say an FMB fango. But what a difference 18 psi makes. I probably ran my tubed dirt tires at about 40 to avoid pinch plats. But a RR at 40 and one at 22 is like a totally different tire! You can actually ride shit as opposed to bounce off shit.

Part of the pressure drop of late has been riding with that man. Seriously. Matt Aumiller has been a kick ass riding partner. Such a solid guy. Good friend and just up for anything. The fact that he rides a friggin 30 pound rigid 29er singlespeed is just sick. Someone get that man a custom Igleheart. Seriously. For all the dudes getting blinged out new bikes this early season that man deserves a nice bike. Guy rips it on a bike that is basically held together with duct tape...
The other part of the pressure drop has been mountain biking. I have fought it for a while. But as the saying goes "dyude don't fight the mountain..." Stoner logic but its true. Mtn biking is very, very different than road or cx riding. I joked that mtn biking is MMA and road riding is Judo the other day. I am sure people were like WTF Chip really? Where do you even come up with this shit? But its true. On the east coast mtn biking is brutal. So many rocks, roots etc. I HATED it for seven years. Then Zank and his crew and 24HOGG started wearing me down. It is shitload of fun if you let it be. You have to be Zen about it. Riding 15 miles in 2 hours seems absurd. I mean seriously what is that like 7.5 miles an hour? Shit I can walk faster than that. But if you get passed that it is amazing. And yes the drop in psi in my tires has really helped. This week we had a little mini-winter. Two snow storms. The first was negated by rain. But one stuck. I got out and got some fresh tracks on the 2 inches of powder we had. It was amazing. And what dawned on me was with the snow covering all the stuff I am usual petrified of I was able to actually relax and roll over stuff. It was an epiphany of sorts.
Then Aumiller suggested we ride Wompatuck. I have never been. I have heard such great things about it. I now see why everyone raves about it. It is amazing. Too fast and too furious woods riding. Nothing too techy, wicked fast tight singletrack. It was wet in spots but nothing too bad. It also has a bit of an Area 51 or Resident Evil thing going for it which I liked. I mean why would there be a ten foot cyclone fence in the middle of the woods? Keeping things in or out? We got lost a few times but always got back on track. I only crashed once which was mind blowing and again a testament to what a huge difference running 22 psi on wet roots and rocks does for your confidence. I got so cocky that at the end I got a little ahead of myself and rode up a boulder. Not the boulder pictured here of course. But a nice little boulder hop up with a transition.
Road riding and mtn biking seem like different sports. Like Judo and MMA. Judo is a big part of the nexus for MMA. But they have about as much in common now as we do with our homoerectus ancestors. Judo is a competition. Olympic sanctioned blah, blah. MMA is legitimized Fight Club. With one intention destroy your opponent. Can't kill him but that is really about all you can't do to him. It may be dramatic to say that about mtn biking. No one is trying to kill you. But it does seem like the rocks and roots would like to do you great bodily harm. I think its fair to say that at least for me you have to be willing to absorb some body blows from the roots and rocks and not flinch to be able to finally give in to it and enjoy the beauty the woods has to offer. Maybe Teahupu is a better analogy of east coast mtn biking. There is surfing and then there is Teahupu. It is a brutal surf spot in the French Polynesia Islands. The consequences for screwing up are severe. But like mtn biking it takes a combination of pushing your fear aside in a Zen like way and committing to it.
I should be committed I suppose for being sooo stoked about mtn biking right now but I am. I am already thinking of 24 Hours of Great Glen. I am on the fence of whether I am doing a 4-5 person team or a 2-person coed. They both sound rad to me. April 1st will be my first mtn bike race in 11 years. I have "raced" 24HOGG the last couple of years but that is a very specific event. Hopbrook on April 1st should be an interesting test to see where I am at. For now a huge thanks to Zank, Matt, Matt, Rosey and all the heavy metal gods and goddesses who push me.