Monday, August 27, 2012

Itsss Baaacckkk

Blunt Park was like a NECX Reunion. Fatmarc says everytime you race cross in August a kitten dies. And there was much grumbling about it being too hot, too early, blah, blah, blah. No one was complaining at Blunt. People had some nerves and some last minute bike assemblage was happening in the parking lot but everyone at Blunt was sooo stoked. It was a gorgeous day and I personally like that course. It reminds me so much of Cutler. Fast woods, turns, log hops. They even added Stonehenge. But more on that later. I like cross. I like cross in August. For all the right reasons. The only way to get ready to race cross is to race cross. So you need early season races that aren't as important to get the bikes dialed and to get the rust off. You know its cross season when you are staying up late trying to get your bike ready to race on a Friday night! My Rock Lobster got the FULL MMracing SSC makeover. I don't even really know how this happened. Its like I got the golden ticket or something. I mean I know how it happened. Its not like Matt and Mo slipped me a roofie and I woke up with a totally pimped out cx bike. But you can forget just how talented your friends are because they are just that your friends.

I had one of those moments last week with my bike. I have been nursing the same frankenCampy groupo for about 3-5 years. A oddball mix of parts. It barely survived the Ronde in April. And I of course took the whole summer off the cx bike to ride singlespeed 29ers and drink beer! Time well spent. But when I got back on my cx bike it felt horrible. And worked worse than it felt. So I started to panic. Then, like all the (countless) times when I am freaking out, I reached out to those who are best at talking me off a ledge. David Wilcox is basically my CX panic button. He can fix everything. He suggested in such a calm way to try SRAM. And that I should talk with Matt and see if he had some parts. Then a light went off. I got to ride Mo's Seven Mudhoney way back in April. It was the nicest CX bike I have ever ridden. And it worked flawlessly. I had loved the SRAM set up that was on that bike. But as a card carrying member of the Church of Campagnolo I didn't even allow that Evil thought to enter my brain. Til now. Call it the Gateway Drug.

So I reached out to Matt. He sent me the most badass gear ratio chart I have ever seen. And I was all in. Matt offered up his MMracing SSC aka Mancave for the surgery. And it was. The Campy would not give up without a fight. Poor Matt. Man my bike was a shitshow. He had to literally drill out the binder bolt on my cranks cause they were seized. Matt spent about 5 hours building up my bike. When a World Cup mechanic spends that much time on your bike it is going to be badass. And it was. All the MMracing details. A racing stripe. Come check it out if you see me. Its awesome. Watching him work was like watching a master. He sees so many things. And he taught me so much about bikes and how they should be set up and maintained in that 5 hours. Like I said I won the golden ticket that night. Got to see how MMracing operates. And I got to hang out with Matt and Mo on a Friday night which in of itself was a gift. The bike works better than it ever has. The gear ratios 44/36 - 12-28 is beyond anything I could have imagined. I won't even tell you what my old set up was. It was horrible.

I took it out for a shake out ride saturday before Blunt. It was sooo much faster. The shifting worked how Campy is supposed to work and it just felt FAST. I did put a set of R-SYS wheels on and Grifos that I had left over from Ice Weasels. I never listened to Adam, Colin et al when they said Grifos were the bomb. They always said if you picked one tire for cx, pick a grifo. They are right. It is a fast rolling tire but grips. Not as grippy as say a mud etc but what you get in speed is worth wayyyy more than a slightly less grippy tire. And mind you its not a loose tire. I took it on a Ronde loop and pushed it. It held great. Good signs for Blunt.

Saturday night was probably not the best prep for a CX race on Sunday. My wife is a HUGE country music fan. She has wanted to go to a Country concert for years. She got tickets for Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney a long time ago. The concert was saturday night. I wasn't sure what to think. It was a blast I won't lie. But I had a Country Jams hangover Sunday am. That is for sure. I carpooled up to Blunt with the newly dubbed Patron Saint of the Zank SSCX series and best wingman on the planet Roger Cadman. Man I could literally spend all day with him. Such a good friend. And he is fit right now. And possibly more jazzed on cx than I am.

We had a secret mission for after Blunt. We were going on a cannonball run if you will to High & Mighty to pick up the podium beer for the SSCX series. H&M is the best sponsor on the planet. Will told us to come up and "take all you can." Wow. Take all you can is 40 cases in a mini-van. And reason #567 why I will always own a mini-van.

Again the parking lot of Blunt was a who's who of all my favorite NECX racers and a few of my fave MAC racers! Fatmarc was in the house! Any time I can see him on NE soil it warms my grinchy heart.

The race itself was awesome. We had 6 Hup in the 3/4 mens race. I won't lie I like riding with my teammates. I know I will make a lot of masters cry and they will want to know why I won't play in their reindeer games but teammates in your race? Nothing beats that. Hup's new office linebacker David Deitch was right next to me on the start grid. He put on a clinic of why mountain bikers make great cx racers. Blunt has a few ummm jungley features. The start includes a 180 at the end of a paved straight. I bet you know how this goes? So I lock in behind David and we tear up the right side. When the predicted explosion happens at the 180 on the left we surf it around the right and like a running back punching out into daylight we escape and are in a good train of guys escaping the carnage.

We have a great two laps. It was so much fun. The hecklers were in mid-season form. Matt Green mooned me. I literally almost fell off my bike. I yelled at him to get me a beer but I don't think he heard me. Colin tried to get me to jump Stonehenge. His "everyone is doing it" wasn't cutting it. Stonehenge was two HUGE slabs of concrete that were being used as barriers. On my 29er yes I would jump it. Not on a sub-17 pound cross bike with carbon spokes. The ladies of the NECX were into it as well. I hope more ladies get their heckling on at the races this season. It was rad.

I had a great couple of laps. Oddly I kept getting faster. The course suited me as we have been doing hot laps at Cutler all summer. I was moving up really well with one to go. Then got a front flat. Game over. I was too far from the pit to run and I wasn't going to ride a nice front wheel and ruin it in August.

But cross is back! I am sooo stoked. It was so great to see all my Hup teammates and all the other characters. The women of Hup did awesome in their race! Wish I could have stuck around to watch them race but I had to get to Noho with my wingman. See you all in a couple of weeks at Quad!

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