Thursday, September 27, 2012

Holy Week of CX

Holy Week in cycling for those unaware is the week of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. It is a brutal week of racing in Europe over cobbles in typically horrible conditions. The Lion of Flanders roars and those who love bike racing at its hardest revere this week. I prefer it myself over the Grand Tours. In New England we have our own Holy Week NECX style. It has grown to include two mid-week night races and the two biggest cx races on the East Coast. It goes Midnight Ride-Gloucester-Night Weasels-Providence. Shimano came in big time and brought the whole thing up another level when they sponsored the Shimano NEPCX series. It really is what the NECX is all about. Everyone gets so amped up for it. And that is saying something because the stoke level in New England for cross starts around June and doesn't die down til about February. And then we pine for cross to get here again.

The two night races have really made week special. Last night in Lncaster Midnight Ride kicked off Holy Week. I love this race. It is a great excuse to go out on a weds and race a great course at night. I got there frazzled as usual. Death Star in tow. This is one of a handful of races that Hup really gets behind. Full tailgate/race support in full effect. We had a big group out and it is awesome to be able to hang out and get stoked to race. We set up next to the Newbury Comics team. I love those guys. Did the run to reg throw on kit and pin up dance, over inflated my tires and went to staging. Warm up? Who needs a warm up. That is for suckers. There were about 90 overamped cat 2/3/4 dudes looking real nervous at the start grid. I was being all friendly and chatting people up. The had that look of some guy getting ready to get on a chopper and fly into a shitstorm. I was like why are you dudes so nervous? I would get the answer to that in about 1 minute. We took off like a thundering herd down a huge paved straight and went onto gravel. I was locked in behind Billy when I saw a huge dust bomb right in front of us. Cosmo was on the ground in the fetal position looking like he'd been attacked by a bear.

We got through without dying or killing Cosmo. Is Cosmo ok? I think he got up and charged back to the front but I can't confirm or deny that. So I had a good start. And a good first lap. Well other than when I closed the door on closethedoor. OOf. Nothing like taking your friend into the course stakes. We were just playing around. He wanted to come up by me but there was no room. There were sooo many dudes in this race and they were all over the place. So I felt Jerry on my hip. I tried to stay straight but he hit a stake and boom. I tried staying with Todd for the next couple of laps. It was going ok. Then I decided to perform CX Sepukku in atonement for crashing Jerry. Maybe I thought hey if I hurt myself really bad Jerry won't come and find me and beat me to death with a pedal wrench after the race. Luckily our dust up was nothing compared to the shit he had to deal with the rest of the race.

So these 2/3/4 races....what exactly is the point of a 2/3/4 race? Whatever. So these "Killer B" races are um interesting. At the front or top 20 they are awesome. Fast, super strong dudes who pretty much know what they are doing. But you drop back past 30 and you are deep into the No Fun Zone. Really bad things happen back here. And in a race with swarms of dudes on a fast grass course with turns you make really bad decisions. I tried to dive bomb a corner to catch up to Todd. And paid. My front wheel got swept out and boom. Yardsaled off the course and 20 dudes passed me while I put my chain back on. After that crash I pretty much made it my job to crash. I crashed in the same corner about 5 times. It got comical after a while. So I got chewed up and spit out. I could have felt bad about this but it was impossible. So many of my friends raced so hard and did so well. I just stoked for them.

We hung out and watched the elite races. I got home stayed up all night totally amped up. If you want to go to bed after a night race do not log onto twitter. It was possible the most hilarious twitter stream ever. Squash, Pylon Boy, My possible possession by Carl Ring. Good stuff. So New England Worlds is this weekend. I will see you all Saturday. Pray for mud. And next wednesday The Night Weasels Cometh!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Park Life

You haven't lived as a cross racer until a 6'5" #dronk Welshman in an orange prisoner jumpsuit (with a Vanderkitten patch) chases you all over a cross course heckling you to go faster, go faster and screaming "My Groin, My Groin" after each trip over the planks. I was laughing so hard I literally almost ran off the course. Riding with GeWilli in the SSCX race at White Park was probably one of the most hilarious experiences I have had racing cx. But I am getting ahead of myself.

This CX season has been a very different type of season for me. Every season is different. If I told you how long I have been doing this you would be like WTF!? Dude how can you suck so badly if you have been doing this for decades? Good question. I strive for mediocrity what can I say. But this season has been about balance. Its been about the grassroots races. The jungle cross races. The hard. Not the oh lets go soooo fast on a grass crit hard but the hard course. Euro chutes, runnups, tape mazes. I want it all. When Nick tweeted that the course at White Park was going to be special he wasn't kidding. I rolled up with the Newbury CX team. I won't mention how I sustained a crushing injury on the drive to the race. I never want to speak of it again. Regardless by the time we got to the park we were pretty excited to race some cross. The park looked amazing! It is tucked away in Concord, NH. And Nick and his course GURU cough*resultsboy*cough...whipped up a doozy. I could tell just driving around it, it was going to be one of my favorite courses of all time. Its like Lowell and Noho had a one night stand and White Park was their love child. Roots, woods, off camber, climbing, runnups, grass. It had it all.

I lined up in the 3 race behind some fast dudes and hoped I could hold on to wheels. As technical a course as it was there were some flat out ripping fast power sections. I am not known for my power. Um at all. But I hung in and had a good start. I had gotten my baller R-SYS/FMB Grifos back from The Wilcox. How much do I trust that man? Never pre-rode them before the race. Coming down a sketchy dirt road descent at about 20 mph and taking a high speed turn onto pavement was their first test. They passed it. I wouldn't trust my skin to anyone but that man.

And the FMB Grifos? Possibly my favorite tire of all time. They are sooo fast. But they grip. Amazing tire. The 3s are fast. Obviously. I had a nice start and was in a good position when bombs started going off. Nick came up right near the barriers. He got a gap on me on the steep climb up to the crazy offcamber tree 180. Then the squirrels I had paid off pulled his front wheel out from under him. Ok maybe I didn't pay off some ninja squirrels. But it sounds good. He washed out. It was loose as hell. I was bummed. Nick was riding super strong. But that is cross. I punched it up the hill and hoped to move up. I held my spot to lucky 20th. Second week in a row.

But seriously the course is incredible. So much fun. If you love cross and some nice euro chutes. Fun turns. Just a great great course and Nick and NHCC deserve a ton of credit. Race it next year. You will thank me. Singlespeed CX is pretty cool. Like grassroots racing itself its about fun. Its a counterpoint to the Rainbow Handcuffs we all must endure at the big UCI races. Its a nice melting pot of racers and personalities. Nick and I decided to double up. It was slightly ambitious as we had both gotten pretty worked over in the 3 race. We made a bit of a "suicide pact" Two laps. Just do two laps. We also pre-gamed the SSCX race as no one should have to race SSCX sober. The Handups are not a crime movement is growing. But I respect the promoters and their restrictions at the venues. Aka no open containers/alcohol at a public park. So we shotgunned a cold PBR in the van.

Gewilli may have pre-gamed a bit more umm aggressively. I gave him start money to race in his jumpsuit. He would have done it anyway but still. G gets it. SSCX is supposed to be fun. And that orange jumpsuit is an icon among ss'ers. Google the Three Amigos. I dare you. By start money I mean beer. He may or may not have consumed it all. But he is big and Welsh so it probably had zero effect. It certainly had zero effect on his racing. Maybe USUC is right. Maybe beer is performance enhancing. Beer doping? Beer Watts? I did have a great start. Like really great. I felt good. Then GeWilli caught me at the barriers and the shennanigins began. God it was funny. I think people were getting scared. I know 20 pound Skull was. He was running scared. At the paved hill he screamed out "singlespeeding sucks." Funny thing is he is a natural. When has he been in the top ten before? He came in 7th. Respect to that dude. He has worked really hard. But back to the big Wookie. He was in rare form. Just putting on a one man show. He came in 8th. GeWilli. You now have a contract for the 2012/13 SSCX series.
Such a great time. Huge thanks to Nick and to everyone who came out and supported the race. Holy Week starts this weds at Midnight CX. Welcome to the Terrordome my friends.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sliding Doors of Fury

My van loves Uri's van. There I said it. Uri tried to keep it all platonic and I respect that but umm my van has a massive crush on those sexy lines and rugged good looks of his van. She keeps saying that that Previa looks like something out of Star Trek. Not that Next Generation bs. OG Captain Kirk ST. And you know how the ladies can't resist a geek. Its impossible. One of my good friends threw a cx race this weekend. They called it Beer Cross. It was "up" against a big UCI race that some people call the "season opener" Umm yeah in case anyone has been napping this would be race #4 this cx season. Don't need the rainbow handcuffs to tell me its cx season. All I need to know its cross season is that my lungs are on FIRE, I am riding over dudes who crash in front of me ten times a frickin lap on GRASS, and the cupcakes....oh the cupcakes. But I digress. So back to Beer Cross held at the Blandford Ski Area. So while a bunch of people were chasing UCI points in VT we were riding an evil hybrid of Sterling, Loon (ohhh how I miss Loon...who wants to go back I do. 2013?), and Lowell. Does that make sense? Probably not. When you race on a ski hill you know what you are gonna get. And some of it is pure gold. You want euro chutes? Who doesn't right? I know I do. Ski hills have euro chutes. In spades. But there is going to be some elevation. Cross racers hate elevation. And lots and lots of grass. Before today I had no idea grass could be so slippery. I still don't but a legion of Cat 3/4 men proved it is in fact really slippery. Did I mention it was dry? Yeah like hay. Bone f'n dry. So I have been doing this race with the young guys thing. Cause I love my teammates. Like LOVE them. So as I staged up on a bridge and looked at our 8 wide group and the 4 wide gap we were going to have to ride into. I got a tad nervous. Not old man nervous but more concerned. I mean you couldn't smell the fear off me. But I was thinking stay in the middle. The sides are where the really bad things will happen. So I did that. And I didn't die. There was a time I was sure I would die. But I was pleasantly surprised when no one crashed and took 20 of us down on gravel. I survive the scrum and then notice a pattern. Come to a turn. Dude crashes in front of me. Get around the body. Come to a turn. Dude crashes in front of me. After the 10th go of this I am like FUCK THIS. Someone's gotta pay. So I ride over his back and step on his wheel. Like Mark The Shark would do. Not step off but step on that wheel. Cause people need to start paying for this crappy bike driving. Ok, maybe that is not what happened. Finally I was so close to rider Xs wheel that I had zero options. And unlike at DH40 where I surfed over Bob's wheel I actually got stuck on this dudes spine. I wonder if he has skid marks up his back? One can only hope so.

After that it was a bit demoralizing. Albeit rad. Did I mention the spiral of death? Right next to a beer tent? And the runnup? And the chutes? Did I mention how rad Matt Lolli is? Dude ran a full on metal jacket ss in the 3/4 and crushed souls. He came by me like a freight train! SSCX is not an equipment choice. Get over it. Ok so at some point Uri caught me. Thank you baby cheez its. I was suffering badly. Wanted to puke so many times. But in a good way. Then Uri comes through and throws me a life line. I was so cracked he was talking me through sections. Ok I may have shoved my shifter into his hip at one point. But it was only in a gesture of brotherhood. We were getting sandwiched by another member of TEAM DIVINE WIND and I sensed this dude was gonna take us out. So I stuck my shifter in Uri's butt and said we gotta go man. And Uri went.

We got around said human wrecking ball of mass destruction and went to work chopping wood. I have no idea how far back we were at this point after being crashed out so many times we lost count. But it was pretty much the best three laps of my cx career riding with Uri. For real. Love that man. And he has some mad skills. After finishing up and talking story we went to watch the women stage up. They are so rad. They inspire me so much its not even funny. And my good friend Meg. God I love that woman. She really is like a sister from another mother to me. She keeps me at center. I know that is my inner dirty hippy talking. But ever time I am around her I just feel grounded. And she went full blanco. And rode like 20 women. She had a great race. And watching her and Carrie together just got me so stoked. Meg is a teacher by trade but she is also a teacher if you get my drift. So rad. I know I have said this a million times but I love the Noho CX mafia. They are like my extended family.

After our race Jon and I sat at the top of the runup and cheered on all the ladies. It was amazing. I am a superfan. Obviously. But they brought it. Blandford Beer Cross was awesome. Please, please, please let's make this an annual thing. I love Alan Atwood and what he does with GMCX but we need grassroots racing to be there for those who can't drive 4 hours for a 45 minute bike race. For the record we logged into to get the live results from GMCX. Cause we love CX.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gun Club

Welcome to the Gun Club my friends. Or Fight Club. Not sure which. Quad CX is the opener for CX in the NECX. I know, I know there are other races. And Sucker Brook or GMCX has dibs in a way. But what Ted and the Quad crew have built up over the last couple of years has been amazing. Last year it moved to the Maynard Rod & Gun club. CX & Guns! And cocktails! And a biker bar and grill! And euro chutes! You can't make this up. The fact that it is my away home town is mind boggling. What the hell does away home town mean? Kind of like how fatmarc considers Noho a home away from home. My family means a LOT to me. Not in the white bread perfect little WASP family means something to me. But MEANS something to me. My Mom Loves Cyclocross. For real. My sister and her wife and my brother and his wife live in Maynard. The fact that my mom and aunt and sister and her wife came out to watch me race meant everything. The NECX is my other family. And I love them almost as much. I have made a sort of random decision to race 3s this year. Why? Is it because you are only as old as the dudes you race against? Ie if I beat a 25 year old I am really 25? Is it some kind of mid-life crisis? Might be. Certainly its having a funny effect on the old dudes I usually race against. They are confused. Some are angry. Well they hated me before. Now that I won't play in their reindeer games they just seem bitter. I now see why Myerson doesn't race masters. But the real reason is pictured below.

If you have never raced with teammates just do it. Seriously. It is the most amazing feeling on the planet. In the masters I was pretty much an army of one. Its fine. Whatever. But in the Killer Bees? Dear god there was 6 of us. And they all kick ass. We got a great start! Thanks DJ! I almost crashed my teammate into a tree! A new term was coined mid race by Abel. As I took Markie Mark into a pine tree I heard Abel yell out its a "Huptastophy" And then this is the "Hupocalypse!" I swear the elbow I shoved into Marks ribs was to keep him upright. God masters races are douche bags. Sorry brother. I can take myself out of the masters race but I can't take the masters racer out of myself. The 3s are fast. Like really, really fast. I surfed the young guys way to the front. #TWSS. But could only hold it for two laps. Then I cracked soooo hard. I have never gone that hard. When Billy came through I knew it was over. Then he "Joey'd" into the barriers. I thought he was joking. But ummm it was no joke. He hit his own barriers at warp speed. Flew over them and came up with the bike around his neck. He also ripped his toe nail OFF. So yeah he was done . Total bummer. I hung on amid the gunfire. Did I mention the race is held at a rifle range? And there was actual gun play going on during our race? And there is a biker bar? Yeah. This is the most epic venue on the planet for a cx race.

I survived to fight another day. The Hup in the 3s. Robert, Abel, David, Ed and Markie Mark are my heroes. For real. I love racing with those dudes. Its so hard. But I am all in. Quad and Newbury Comics (and Abel) deserve a ton of credit for this race. Its not easy putting on a CX race. There is not a lot of reward trust me. But they did a top notch job. Ok my top picks for the day! Numbah One: Seeing Mo Bruno Roy DOMINATE. Damn she has good form right now. Numbah Two: The Ladies of Hup. We have been building this part of the squadra the last three years or so but wow. I can't even describe it. They are amazing. And truly an inspiration. We had six ladies in the 3/4 and they brought it. With style and class. Number Three: Three kids. For real. Curtis Boivon's daughter and Matt Aumiller's son shredded it after the race! We were breaking down and they just got on their bikes and bombed down the trails. It was awesome. And a certain Jr. Who raced singlespeed. She is my hero. So brave. I handed her a plush Unicorn. Nicky is doing an amazing job as a dad aka papa Wolf to her. It will be interesting to see how this next generation pans out. We have some talent. I wonder if Frances will be their coach/DS. I hope so.

I could tell you more about this but I'd have to kill you. But you have been warned. Next stop on the Hupexpress is Suckah Brook. That place is a buzz saw for me. But I suspect if I have my Hup teammates we will make the magic happen. Hup! Hup! Buttercup

Monday, September 3, 2012


What an amazing summer. But its over. I went for a Labor day ride on the singlespeed and it was confirmed. I saw a Woolie Caterpillar, leaves were just turning in the woods. It was almost cool enough for arm warmers. Been off the ss mtb for a few weeks. CX has taken up most of my attention. The well documented switch from Campy to SRAM Red elicited some pretty funny reactions. I got a few "you are dead to me emails" and the look on poor Andy Ewas face at Blunt park was priceless. I believe his words were "you disgust me..."

I will say I have been digging it. So nice. Very similar to Campy. And the gear ratio 44/36-12-28 compared to 44/38 13-26 is a nice change. The SRAM drivetrain makes a lot more sense for cx and for trail riding. One problem if you want to call it that with SRAM (and Shimano) is there isn't a quick release at the lever for the brakes. Made setting up my Paul's cantis so much easier. But I found this little gem. Rick Hunter makes a custom barrel adjuster just for Paul's brakes. They are so easy to set up and work great.

With cx its always the little details that make the bike go from good to great. Next weekend kicks off the Zanconato singlespeed cx series. Two races. BOB on saturday and Quad on Sunday. They are both going to be awesome. You know the deal. Show up either with a singlespeed or let us zip tie your levers and voila you are racing a ss! It really is a blast. Top 3 in both men's and women's race win six packs of High & Mighty beer. This year we are picking a random winner at each race to win beer as well. Come out and race or heckle. Or both...

So much going on right now. Fall is my favorite time of the year. Stoked for cx but I can't stop, won't stop riding the singlespeed 29er in the woods. Today's ride was so surreal. You forget just how amazing the woods can be. And cross helps ss mtb just like ss mtb helps cx. I felt good on the bike. The fear wasn't as present as some other days. I still laugh when I get to this one rock drop off in NTF. I can still hear resultsboy yelling up at me as I sat perched at the top thinking go, no go...his words " I can smell the fear from down here" may have been the best heckle of the whole summer.

See you all in four days. Hup! Hup!