"The drums will shake the castle wall, the Ringwraiths ride in black, Ride On..." any time you wake up to Robert Plant singing the Battle of Everymore in your head you know its going to be a good day! At 5 am Saturday I popped out of bed without even remotely considering hitting the snooze button. No way was I missing the Fundo. The JAM Fundo is a sick dirt road ride in western mass put on by Jeremy Powers, Al Donahue and Mukunda as a fundraiser for their JAM foundation which supports local riders. It has turned into a veritable cx season kick off party. Its like one giant High School reunion for the NECX. This is my third year doing it and even if I just went for the bbq and party it would be one of the best days you could ever spend. But the ride. Wow. I live in a pretty flat and somewhat boring road riding region. Not boring in that it isn't nice but that's it, its just ok. Its great for cross but not so good for training for anything with hills. And I have sort of been single speeding all summer. Which is both good and bad. The course is about 50% dirt and 50% road on some of the nicest roads in western mass. And the JAM family comes out big time to support the event. There were three water stops and the now infamous ice cream truck stop! Huge thanks to all of the JAM folks and their families for making this such a great event!
So back to my early rising to Robert Plants screaming in my head...I picked up Nick and Tammy and rolled up. We got there pretty early. Early enough to witness Mike Golay turn into Cornholio via some turkish coffee they were handing out. He was CRUNKED on caffeine! He is a high energy guy anyway and seeing him all jacked up got me so stoked. Anthony came by with fresh fried dough aka donuts and I had to have a few...its the Fundo after all. We rolled out in a mass start from Eds farm and got our Fundo on. I think there was about 300-400 riders. It was a pretty impressive sight when it would stretch out. My plan was ride with Nick. Nick is a really good friend and someone who I could literally hang out with all day so it was a good strategy. It also was pretty strategic in that Nick is on form right now! He crushed the hills. It took me a solid 20 miles to kick start my engine. Weird. Its funny how beer drinking and single speeding just doesn't give you good road fitness...who knew? But it does give you bike skillz which would come in real handy later in the day. More on that later!
So the fast people went off fast. And the rest of us just rode our pace. Nick and I started picking up some people. We sort of grouped up into a wolf pack with some like minded folks. Nick protected me early on and kept me mashing gears. I went up Kings highway faster than the last two years but damn if I didn't almost puke midway up it. We ended up in a group that could have been its own rolling NAHBS: Rock Lobster, Zank, Zank. Commonwealth...that is some serious bike bling right there! At the first water stop Jeremy Powers comes looking for me. JPOW "Chip, dude do you have those pills?" VCB "ummm endurloytes?" JPOW "Yeah dude you have the Hammer pills right?" Oh dear god. Does my reputation really precede me like this? I guess if you are on a belgie-phile cx team you will be a defacto pusher won't you? That or maybe its the masters doper thing? I pushed those dark thoughts aside and went looking for Nick cause I popped my two and gave the other two to Bramhall. I asked Nick if he'd opened his packet of Hammer salt pills. He says yes. I was like um do you have two left by any chance? He tells me no he took all 4 at the start? Ummm holy shit. No wonder he was flying up those hills. So I failed my reputation as a masters doper and let JPOW down. I felt bad. Then I ate some peanut butter and fluff sandwiches and felt good. But note to self. Self you have a reputation. Don't let people down ; ) Next time I put the whole bottle in a ziplock baggie like any good doper...
After the first rest stop we group up with a bunch of people who got lost in the shuffle. The start can be a bit chaotic so its nice to be able to regroup. We got back into a nice group and then things started getting weird. We were pace lining. I am thinking in my head "single speeders do not pace line" We are going pretty fast and coming through people again. We start climbing another sweet dirt road and I start chatting up some guy. I say how great these roads are. He gets all serious and is like oh you won't like the downhill on the other side of this. I was like dude I love this shit. Then he gives me grief saying wait til you see it you will hate it. Whatevahs its the Fundo. You can't hate any of it. We crest and Bramhall and Jabs get to the front and we do down it no brakes. Frickin flying. Gravity is my friend. I never say no to the free ride. We make the turn onto pavement and I tell those boys how much I love them and their badass descending skills.
At that pavement section we are so close to the ice cream truck you can almost hear that siren song calling you to those frozen delights...again with the pace lining. I am finally coming around thanks to Nick, Jabs and Bramhall and the fluffernutter sandwiches. I am actually bummed we are stopping again as my legs are finally working but who would roll through an ice cream stop? Not someone who wants to have fun that is who. And I am all about the fun on the FUNdo. I go with a bomb pop as I do not want to risk a dairy disaster at this point. Its about 80 degrees and the air quality is horrible. I filled water bottles and we headed back out. We regrouped this time into a nice mix of HUP and the ladies of the NECX. Carrie, Kate, Lauren and a couple of other ladies who I haven't met before. They were so great. It made the group so much more fun. The pace lining thankfully stopped and we kicked into a more social pace. At one point I was having a great conversation with the Duchess of Dirt as we railed down some dirt road. But what made it so great was that here we are flying over rocks and dirt and just talking. And neither one of us is freaking out about the dirt or rocks cause we ride mtn bikes. Sure mtn biking may not give you the best legs early on on for one of these rides but it pays HUGE fun dividends when the real riding starts. It was so great to catch up with Lauren and hear about all her adventures this summer. She is one of the coolest ladies in the whole NECX. So proud of how well her women's road team has gone this summer. She is such a great mentor and ambassador for cycling
The rest of the ride was a blast. We had one little crash and a couple of the boys ended up in a sort of dark place on the last run in but we all survived and had smiles on our faces when we got back to Ed's farm. And being able to grab an ice cold Beer of the Gods and hop into an ice cold shower with your friends was priceless. Best day of the summer on a bike. HUGE thanks to JPOW, Mukunda, Al, Molly, Anthony, France, Ed, Will, Kenny, all the families who came out to support it, the riders, the ice cream truck ladies, Lynne everyone! You all rock. Amazing job. This year was so great.