Monday, April 16, 2012

Ronde de Rosey 3.0

The MAN himself, Scott Rosenthal

Ronde de Rosey 3.0 went off this Sunday the tale of the tape: 65 miles, 4;12 ride time, 4:31 elapsed time, 1 flat, 6 endurolytes and too many Hammer Gels to count. Rosey wrote a great recap on his blog. DJ Roberto brought the beats and Camelstache delivered the PAIN. An unholy alliance of sorts between the Lion and the Cockroach has taken place in large part due to Team Camelstache. Camelstache is a sort of super squad combining members of then Cambridge Bicycle Team (now Broadway Bicycle School) and Hup United. CB (BBS) brought the 'stache and Hup brought the Camel (back). Matt Aumiller and Robert Hale are the masterminds behind the team. I was brought into the mix around February when Rosey, Matt and I started scouting out the route for this years edition. In years past I had led Hup teams to mixed success in these bandit cx races. I was really pumped to not have to Captain a team and to just ride for my teammates. It is very freeing to just hammer and not have to worry about a lot of other people. This years crew was Matt Aumiller, Robert Hale and Uri. We brought Uri in for both the power of his 'stache and the power in his legs. Uri rides lots. You think you ride lots. You don't trust me. The amount of riding Uri has done so far is mind boggling.
Tavern owner Gerry and Camelstache founder Matt Aumiller

We all met up at Washington Square Tavern early Sunday am. There were soooo many bikers. The bike pile alone took up half the block. Gerry was there checking everyone in and being so awesome. Gerry really has opened his arms to the NECX and allowed all of us dirt bag bikers to take over the Tavern for a good cause. That cause of course is Bikes not Bombs. As much as the ride itself is a blast in the end its to help promote a really great advocacy group in Boston. Rosey rewarded Matt and my recon efforts with a last place start! The Ronde goes off in handicapped waves. Slowest to fastest. First team back "wins" The Ronde is NOT a race. But you get 130-170 cross racers together for lawn darts and that is gonna get ugly fast. So you get teams of bike racers together and say go and yeah they are gonna go. We did our best to mark the course with pink ribbons and spray paint arrows at all the road turns. For the tech savvy we provided various GPS files. And for the traditionalists a cue sheet. Lots of ways to skin the cat as it were. The first teams went off at 8:00. We cued up with really skinny and fast dudes. Did I mention they were really skinny and really fast? Yeah awesome.
My buddy Pete of Mad Alchemy took this as we were riding Pond Street in Wellesley. That picture sums the WHOLE day up!

So our Bad News Bears crew rolls out with some of the fastest racers in the NECX. DJ Roberto asks if we want to hear some beats. I thought he was kidding. No he wasn't. He had a tiny speaker on his handlebars and brought the Funk to the Ronde. Literally. Funk music starts pumping out of that speaker at massive decibels. It was the coolest thing I have ever been a party to in my life. And set the tone for how our day would go. No one could accuse us of being serious I will say that. We hit the first road section and its clear that this is gonna be a brutal day. I told myself we were Rosey's sweepers. That we would help people get back on track and make sure people had fun etc. Matt Aumiller and DJ have a very different idea of sweeper. I think they thought Rosey meant street sweeper aka KILL THEM ALL. All three teams rode together at what I would call a casual group ride pace. Conversational. Nothing bad yet. Then we turn onto Skyline Park. And we go! The gate was across the road so we had to surf some gravel to get around it. I got the hole shot up the grass hill but that was short lived as Aumiller and The Wilcox come flying by me at warp speed. I try and stay on David's wheel as best I can but they are crushing it. I stay connected and am starting to see red. We fly through the woods and pop out onto pavement. Dirt Sector 13 went by in a flash. We all regroup. There is some gamesmanship going on but no one can really make anything happen yet.
Team Bryter Layter. One of four Hup teams that rode the Ronde. Jay Bartlett, Abel, MVL and Mike Golay

We all roll together to Cutler. We all divebomb into the Cutler parking lot and its like a bomb goes off. Mike Wissell goes flying past me with Ian right on his wheel. No way I can hold that. Then some vine from the depths of Hades reaches out and attacks Ian. Like literally. I have never seen anything like it in my life. We untangle and get back at it. Cutler is just a blur we are railing everything. I can't get around Ian cause its so tight. As if riding behind Ian wasn't bad enough Ryan Kelly starts finding new and exciting places to crash. It finally hits me that while these guys have sick power to weight ratios they do not really know how to handle a bike in the woods. I mention something to Ian about his incredible handling skills and ask him how many times per lap he crashed at Great Glen last year. And FINALLY get around him. We drive an insane pace through Cutler. There is carnage everywhere. Flats. Crashes. 420 breaks. I don't even look people in the eye. I am on a mission to get my team out safe and ahead of the other two teams we came in with. I hear Aumiller yell 'PUMP TRACK' Hell yeah. Sure we are "racing" but that doesn't mean we are gonna miss railing the pump track at Cutler! We do a hot lap and pop back out. We all regroup right before the boardwalk and all head across.
Ok before I get to far ahead of myself. FOR THE RECORD. While we rode fast and aggressive. Everyone I was with. That is 30 dudes at this point. Were safe, polite and courteous. No one ever endangered anyone. We even slowed down to let a "stray" Golden Retriever get across the boardwalk. Ok back to the task at hand! So we all roll across 128 on the overpass and head to South street. I made a HUGE tactical error. I packed all my food into my camelback. I didn't even have a gel in my jersey pockets. Thankfully PVB handed me a little slice of heaven in aluminum foil at the Tavern right before we left. I ripped it open and shoved it in my mouth. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is on these types of rides to have a good crew. And to me one of the most critical attributes of a good crew is non-verbal communication. Each team member "knows" what the other is going to do or wants to do or maybe even needs to do without have to say anything. Once we hit South street we made a conscious decision to shut it down a bit. We had caught a ton of teams. Were riding well within ourselves but couldn't match the watts of Mad Alchemy or Bolo Loco. So we sort of dangled off them about 25 yards. In a way this saved us early on. I got a front row seat of one of the worst crashes I have ever seen in my life. As we are flying down South st at about 25 mph I see Mike Wissell EXPLODE in front of me. He hit something. And just went tumbling. Full speed. Yard Sale. Rolling and then hits a post and stops. I did a quick cross dismount and got off right next to him. He was up in a flash and trying to get back on his bike. I tried to help make sure he was ok. Then I remembered it was Mike and is unbreakable. He is basically the Chuck Norris of the NECX. I bet if I went back and checked there would a dent where he hit the road. The road doesn't hurt Mike, Mike hurts the road. Other than blood pouring down his forearms he seemed fine. Easy for me to say. He did finish the entire ride plus some while bleeding. He is a badass. Obviously

Rosey and Gerry making the magic happen! The post-ride raffle raised $2,200 for Bikes not Bombs!

We all get to NTF and again start seeing carnage. More flats. More 420 breaks. See so many of our friends. Everyone is cheering everyone on. And having such a great time. We hook up with the 29er Rampage crew as we exit and ride with them for a while. It pretty hilarious to hear Thom say "oh we are in a paceline do I need to pull through?" Nah dude. We got this. We have a pretty good crash in the woods on our way through Ridge Hill. I start Yogiing (Yogi bear reference) food off Uri and Robert as I can't get to my food and Aumiller won't let us stop. Have I mentioned that Aumiller was wearing Johnny Cash socks and that Matt was beating me like a drum? Yeah probably not. We exit out of the woods and find CX OMP! That would be Jerry and GeWilli's crew of the team. I was so stoked to see those dudes. It was Jerry, Nick, Geoff, Curtis and Cort. That is a whole lotta OMP right there that is for sure. They seemed pretty happy to see us as well. I was in no rush to blow through another group frankly. So we sort of made a gentleman's unspoken agreement to stick together for a while.

We made it up to Weston sans incident. We found Seven's team sort of scattered all over the place. One of the keys to the Ronde is very similar to a horror movie. Never get separated. Ever. Stick together and the bad man can't find you and cut you into a million small pieces. True statement. We sent their wayward Seven rider back to them when we found him further up the road. We got through the techy Weston woods. That really to me was one of the most fun spots we rode. I was not on my 'A' game by any means. Well I may not have an 'A' game. I am pretty much a bull in a china shop when it comes to trail riding. But I got us through safe and sound. A theme was beginning to take hold that would continue almost for the entirety of the ride. Camelstache would put me on the front to use me for my trail knowledge. I would kill myself through the woods to make up as much time as possible. Then we would pop out onto pavement and they would tuck me into a protective bubble and we would paceline to the next dirt sector.

We finally hit the Weston rail trail. It is one of my all time favorite places to ride a cross bike. Its like a test track. You can just put the pedal to metal and go as fast as your skills and legs can handle. Curtis went off the front and crushed us hunting for the KOM. I got on Aumillers wheel and we drilled it. We weren't chasing him but were just laying down a nice tempo. I knew I was starting to get punchy as I kept thinking of Sylvain Chavanel. Not just thinking about him but that I was him. I know. That is insane. But it was hot. And I was obviously starting to bonk. It probably makes more sense if I said I thought Aumiller was Boonen right? Oh shit this is starting to sound like the ramblings of a madman. I did hear choppers overhead as we flew over the rail bed. It got me all kinds of pumped. We come of the dirt and thank god we see Rosey! That to me has to be one of the best parts of the ride. Rosey is out there looking after things. On his bike. So cool.

We all get back together eat something. Try and take on fluids. I think I took my first endurolytes at that point. Jerry and I start commiserating. We were both pretty rough. Not horrible but starting to unravel a bit. We get to Walden and get lost....haha..pretty funny. But guess what even though we set the course shit happens. I don't know Walden at all. We rode it once back in February. But I knew where we were and where we needed to go so I found a trail and rode it. Turned out someone took down all of Rosey's pink ribbon. No shocker. Weston and Concord aren't that keen on bikes. So it is what it is. We grouped up with ECV a bit which was a blast. At the HUGE runnup we crawled up that wall and hopped back on our bikes. At some point we dropped into a descent and Jerry stacks in front of me. I was so out of my head I had zero reaction time. All I could do was pray. And try not to run over his head. So I aimed for his wheel. It was pretty funny actually. I ended up flatting so we all stopped and ate a bit etc. Curtis had some issue with his wheel and a bunch of teams caught and passed us. I think Threshold and ECV. It was so great seeing Curtis and Jeff and Dan and Shane and Ken...Love those dudes.

CX OMP and Camelstache continued with our alliance all through Concord. We stopped at a Scumberland Farms and refueled. Hup 2 rolled in and looked good! Tom and his crew were smiles as always. We headed back out and looked for the Bedford rail trail. This is when things got serious. When we hit that sector of dirt the pace just exploded. Aumiller and Cort just went off the front. I tried to stay connected but man it was getting ugly. I heard something going bad behind me but all I could do was look straight ahead and try not to hit some babyhead rock at Warp speed. I guess one of the cx dudes crashed and flatted. I hated to leave them behind but no way Aumiller was stopping at this point. He could smell the finish and knew that Quad was still up ahead. We got through the dirt and popped out at the old train depot. Aumiller asked me where we were. Hahah that is funny. I ask to see who has the cue sheet. Cue sheet? I threw that out at the Tavern. Nice. Reminded me of a scene from the Cannonball Run. Ok no problem. I say just look for the Rs. Rosey did a great job spray canning the Rs on the road. We got to Col de Lex and I had to beg them not to destroy me. We soft pedaled up it and they started handing me food.

One other thing about a good crew. At some point you begin to take on each other strengths. I have ridden with Rosey on some of the craziest rides in my life. He wasn't with us at this moment but he is always with me. That may sound weird but its true. So as I started to bonk I became a sort of hybrid chipo/Rosey killing machine. The Rosey part of me would put his head down and just go harder. The Chipo part of me would just be friggin hallucinating and talking crazy. All to the entertainment of my teamates. We somehow got to Belmont and Robert took us back to the Tavern like we were tearing into the Velodrome...We came in and looked for Quad. They had already changed and had coffees in their hands. OMP won the day out. Respect to those guys. They are strong as hell and really got into the spirit of the Ronde. The fact that three dads from the suburbs won the Ronde is awesome.

Huge thanks to all the teams and friends who came out. So many memories. I could write all night. One of my favorites is of Dana Prey handing me a ziplock baggy filled with bacon and saying its fresh do you want some? Cracked me damn lucky to be able to call of you my friends. Respect to ALL of you. You all rode your hearts out, had fun and are all badasses in my book. Mike may be too much of a badass. I hope that pole is ok. I may have to go out and see if it needs some fixing up...

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