Sunday, December 16, 2012

1 x 10 is the new singlespeed

143 days til Singlespeedpalooza. For the record this is not my first rodeo singlespeeding. I still remember taking Maurice Tierney SS mtn biking in the Marin Headlands about 2 decades ago. I was on a hacked job Bridgestone MB-2. It lasted about half a summer before the headtube ovalized and I cracked the rear stays. He thought it was the stupidest thing ever. He was nice about it but he didn't mince words. Sort of funny looking back on it. Marin and Norcal are a whole other beast. What we do in New England is woods riding. Or rock riding. Its not mountain biking. There aren't really mountains. Its technical and hard and brutal on bikes and bodies. And its the perfect place for a ss. And a 29er SS is possibly the perfect bike for the NE. A steel Zank 29er takes this whole concept to 11. Its changed my whole riding. I rode SSpalooza last year on my converted Seven Sola. It was great. But it has 26" wheels. And is pretty much a clown bike compared to the Zank. I can't even wait to race the Zank at SSpalooza.

But there has been a lot of talk about 1 x10. All the cool kids are doing it. Sometimes you just need a few gears. I am sorry but its true. I know I will catch some hell for it but I want vengeance on Pats Peak. Last year I took a butter knife to that gunfight. Not this year. No way. Pats Peak I am coming for you...But I digress. On Saturday I rode with DD and The Wilcox at Russell Mill. We got out for 2 + hours. I was on my ss and they were on their 1 x 10s. DD may have a cobbed together 1 x 9. It was beyond fun. Deitch has been trying to get me out there all year. Glad I finally made the time as its one of the nicest places to ride around here. Perfect for singlespeeding. But I won't lie I started to crack hard. DD was doing his best Terry Tate impression. I sense he is on a mission. He was cracking the whip. I was keeping up fine. The two other them are vastly better technical riders. But there wasn't anything freak out worthy. But I had a revelation. You can fake a 40 minute cx race. You can not fake riding in the woods on a ss. All the little humps and walls started to add up. I started dreaming of bagel and egg sandwiches. DD offered me a peanut butter gu. I asked him if it was speculoos. He said no. I muttered something under my breath. Yeah the wheels were coming off the wagon. I found a gu with caffeine and it brought me back enough to enjoy the final plunge back to Great Brook

There was lots of 1 x 10 talk. Dave came up with that heckle. But the joke will be on him when The Wilcox turns my Zank into a 1 x 10. Z plan is to ride mountain bikes all winter. Start the Zank #GETINTHEVAN World Tour going early. SSpalooza, Stewart 6-pack, Pats Peak, 24 hours of great glen. Its going to be like when Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult went out on the Black and Blue tour...singlespeeding has ruined me. I just love to ride in the woods. Its a sanctuary for me at this point. Such a great way to get the mountain bike season going...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ghosts of Christmas Past

This is going to be one of those rambling blog posts. Its a weird time of year. Cross season is "over" Sorry but its true. In the NECX nothing matters after Ice Weasels. It is the end of season keg party insanity that just can't be topped. Everything else just pales in comparison. But before we put this cx season to bed I have to get some thoughts out of my addled brain. The photo above documenting Leah and my victory in the SSCX Relay Championships of the Universe is so awesome. Matt O'Keefe totally captured it. Leah is laughing her ass off I am getting that blue steel look in my eye as I grab the bike and head off to shred the gnar. SSCX Relay needs to become a thing. Granted you are already at  a huge disadvantage. To properly do a SSCX Relay you need to share one bike. Good luck finding a partner that is your exact same size. Leah and I were separated at birth. Its funny how some of my favorite people are my same saddle height. Its 66.6. You can't make this up. I switched to Shimano pedals just for this reason. Okay maybe it was that my knees were getting f'd by the Time pedals but I like to think it was a foreshadowing of this great day in cycling history.

What this race and Ice Weasels proved to me is that we have to keep cross weird. We have seen what happens when cycling is "serious" Its a joke. A bad, bad joke. When NFL players get tagged for doping cycling becomes the bad punchline. Handups are a crime but apparently doping and "selling" races to another racer are part of the culture. You know what? I want nothing to do with that culture. Give me a wolf pack of drunk visigoths any day over some dopers. So if this is wrong I don't want to be right. We need more unsanctioned races. Not so we can get totally drunk and go crazy. Ice Weasels was actually pretty tame. No one got hurt. No one was arrested. Ok a few people have some weird rashes. Nothing some antibiotics can't take care of. How many people got hurt at Sterling? Hmmm

I am already thinking of next year's Zank SSCX series. We need to take what happened at Ice Weasels bottle it up and uncork it at everyone of the SSCX races next year. If you have ideas on how to make the series 32% more rad we want to hear them. You know where to find us. I have already ordered my pimp bass boat Gold SSCX bike from Zank. It has a secret name. It may be C3PO. It will be a fun magnet....

All of this mayhem has me thinking a bit about my past. I was raised by wolves. Symbolically of course. I didn't ride bikes when I was a young adult in Boston. That was for losers. I drove a car and did martial arts. Then we moved to SF. And that changed everything. An Earthquake actually changed everything. I got hurt. Cycling became rehab. I would ride my white Hoo Koo E Koo over the Golden Gate bridge and ride all over Marin County. Then I got a job at Cal Bike as a graphic designer. Then I got the golden ticket and became their New Products Editor. Didn't take me long to see the beauty of endless free bike parts. Then I met some derelicts. They gave me an education in bike culture. Changed my whole perspective. Thanks to the glories of the internet I stay in touch with them. They continue to be the driving force behind everything I value in cycling. Reading a recent post Stevil wrote just stopped me in my tracks. I owe them so much. I never would have gone on this path without them. Its the one less traveled and its made all the difference.

Reading Mr Surly Wrenches bio also reminded me of Zank and this wolf pack who I know call my friends. Singlespeeds, steel bikes, handmade, not falling victim to marketing hype, the experience being more important than the result. Its more surfing than bike racing to me at this point. But we surf on two wheels. And get really muddy. At the end of this season I just wanted to say thanks to all of you. Past and present. Be well and I will see you all on the flip many days until SSPalooza?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Riding Dirty

The title of this post is dedicated to Nick. And Gewilli. And this video. The raddest CX video ever made. This is one of those events in life that just go beyond words. I could spend a week blogging about all that transpired at Dah Weasel. I just may. To break it down and to just relate all that happened goes wayyy beyond one blog entry. Or a Facebook post. Or twitter. What happened was not unlike Woodstock. Or Mavericks. But with Flabongos. If Hunter S Thomson was alive today he would fucking LOVE cross. Granted he would not love the CX that his home state likes to shove down our throats. Ahhh but see. I almost got off track and became a Little Black Cloud. Not today my friends. And not when we are talking about Dah Weasel. We just won. Big time. We just proved to the haters that yes fun matters. The MUSIC matters. I applaud Thom, Kevin and Colin's decision to part ways with USUCK and go unsanctioned. It was bold. And guess what? They put on a safer and better cx than 99% of the USUCK cross races that I did this year. And no one was tackled by a naked man while racing. Okay I lied. There were naked men. And tackling. And groping. And kissing. And we all liked it. But no one was hurt. Dear god after this season's carnage imagine that. We were all #dronk. Wicked at the Gahhhdan pounding beers and boilermakers #dronk. And it was sketchy as hell. Legit mud. Stone walls. Woods sections. Lots of opportunity to fuck one self up. Didn't happen. No one hurt themselves. Everyone had a blast.

Enough ranting. I will get to that in another post. Let's talk about the magic that happened Saturday. I was nervous going into this. I am old. What do you expect. I hate to think of myself as some cross dad to these kids but shit balls I am old. Of course I will think like a dad. So I thought crap we are all going to die or get arrested or all of the above. But man. What a day. Literally the best day of my life on a bike. I have had days like this while surfing. Where your eyes just get soooo big. And you see the waves stacking up on the horizon. But this was the perfect way to cap off the season. So many people were there. We had a chili cook off. Had my ECV hommies. Lazer. Cait. Mo. Leah....more on that. So yeah everyone. And White Barn Farm. Its become a sort of cx mecca. You know its going to be rad. But Thom, Colin and Kevin pulled out the stops. They put up the Stonehenge of flyovers. Ice Weasels is probably the only race in New England where a flyover actually makes sense. Its a tiny venue. So you need it. And they put up a monster. They also added a woods section! Oh god. It was sick. Full Alice in Wonderland trip to the darkside woods section. With a dip? I don't know what you would call it. I guess a pump section. Then a downed tree to hop. And boom you were back out

I had sort of told myself okay dude no booze. Take cupcakes etc but no actual alcohol. Yeah that went out the window when I saw Matt Lolli on the other side of the chicken coop in nothing but white bib shorts smiling and offering a PBR. Yeah I stopped. And chatted. And told Matt he was sexy. And shotgunned the PBR. For the record. The only beer acceptable for handups is PBR*(unless 'Gansett sponsors us next year!) it is sooo smooth. So I was going well in the Killer Bs but my god we have been fighting so hard for the "Hand Ups Are Not A Crime" movement. Am I really going to refuse a hand up and race? Who would do that? Not me. Not HST. So I got going. I was somehow going okay after 4 weeks off the bike with a "cracked" tibia. I felt fresh! And I am good in the mud. Let's face it I am built for it. So I come around to the Hup Death Star and want a Dale's. I stop. HELLO???? Can I HAZ a DALE's PLZZZ? Wow. So I took a Dale's and put it in my jersey pocket. I ride around the mucky muck and get to the top of the flyover. I stop. Take the Dale's out and soak it all in. I survey the landscape of all this radness. Then I see DJ Robert coming up! I make him stop and drink the Dale's with me. Then we drop down the flyover and go shred some gnar. Roberto is sort of our Hup Killer B Alpha Wolf. He is fast as hell. Has great handling skills and is mentally in it more than anyone I have ever met. But its a heavy day. And he got the hole shot and crashed hard. And my party at the back attitude is pretty much infectious.

We ride together the last couple of laps. We stop for flabongos. We take dollar bill handups. Its amazing. Then we come in to the line together and just laugh our asses off. So much mud. As we are getting a crazy ass group photo the ladies are staging up for there race. Leah yells at me that her bike sucks. Or her tires. Or something. Leah and I are literally the exact same size. I think we were separated at birth. Or are the Wonder Twins incarnate. So I ask her if she wants my bike. She says hell yes. I tell her we will do the bike change at the double barriers. What you say that isn't the pit? Whatevah. Its Ice Weasels. So I go wash the bike. Slap some lube on the chain and grab my allen keys in case we need to drop the saddle or something. Of course we don't. The bike is perfect. She has a great time on the bike. How could you not? Rock Lobster with SRAM red, TRP NEOX brakes and FMB Supermuds? The perfect bike. Okay not the perfect bike. It is (was) in need of a You Got This frame decal but thanks to the awesome Lodrina that has been added to it. Its like the AK-47 or A-10 of cross bikes. Its all business. And will not fail you when the shit hits the fan. I could not believe that I could actually shift in this type of cx conditions. Shifted. Every time. Flawless. I love SRAM Red.

Leah has an awesome race. She is wearing Soft Like Kitten kit which is sooo perfect its not even funny. After she gets back in we all just hang out and talk story. We watch the Jedi men go by. Many mancrushes happen. Not me. I am too old for that. But its awesome seeing how stoked everyone is to see everyone race. Not to be a jerk but how many people stick around to watch the elite men race at a UCI race? No one. Sad but true. People bail. When you create a happening..oops see I am just a dirty hippy at heart. People stick around. And have fun. And enjoy heckling and cheering for their friends. So some peer pressure starts happening. "Are you racing sscx?" Fuck that. "What are you talking about?" Screw it I am dry, sober and warm. "ITSICEFUCKINGWEASELSMANUP!!" Yeah that never works. But Leah looks at me and ask if I am doing the SSCX race. Without thinking I say " I would do a relay with you" She gets stoked. Oh god I was joking. Ok I am in. The Rock Lobster is fucked. Like unrideable. But I brought the Zank 29er mtb sort of as a joke. I look at it. She looks at it. Yep. Let's race the Zank. So she kits up. I follow her to staging. I tell her ok we do the bike exchange at the barriers. I run back to the Hup Death Star. I kit up as fast as I can. I pin on a number. Not sure why but I do. Then I wait. The crowd is nuts. It is the SSCX race so all bets are off. Yeah a few dudes come flying through but 99% of the racers are looking for handups. At the start of the SSCX I took a hand up? (hand down?) from the leader of the series. It was a 12 year old scotch he had in his jersey pocket. Nicky flashed me a Jager bottle. I told him to put that down. Not the CXboner in his rain pants the Jager. I am like DYUDE you need to drive back to NH that shit will F you up...So yeah I was fairly primed for my lap.

Leah comes flying into the barriers. Ear to ear grin. Have I mentioned how much I love Leah? She is like a sister to me. Its odd how friends work. We were both wrecked at Ice Weasels two years ago. I blew my MCL to pieces on the ice. She got carried off the course with some nasty hip injury. This to me was payback for getting hurt back then. We were having so much fun it was ridiculous. She is one of those teammates that just calms me down and helps me focus. If you haven't noticed I get a bit ADDHD. I am like a squirrel on crack. Colin (who I love) said to me when we were taping up the course on Friday " Chipper, Dude could you just turn your ADD off for a sec so we can tape this up?" For you? Of course. It actually worked. Leah has that same effect on me. I just focus in. So she hands me the Zank and I go ballistic. I have been dreaming of hopping barriers all season long. But I have been dinged up. Ribs. Wrist. Blah, blah, blah. But on the Zank. Holy shit. So I get to the mini barriers and hop them. Legit. No rear wheel tap. I rail all the corners. I am a man on fire. Passing people at will. Then I hit the heavy section after the flover and STOP. Hmm I guess 2.25 tires do not carve the mud like 32 mm FMBs. So I run. I get into the woods and go crazy. Hop the log. Ride everything. I get back and give Leah the bike. So rad

I am pretty sure we are the SSCX Relay champions of the UNIVERSE. And I think we just created a new race within the race. Relay Cross. Say it out loud. It would be nuts. Granted you would need to find a same sized teammate. Good luck with that ; ) So much Hup love. I can't even begin to put into words what this team means to me. We have been through sooo much in 2012. So much. And its built us up into something special. The whole NECX is like that. I have never seen anything like this. I hate to even say how long I have been at this cross game. Way too long. But what happened at Ice Weasels on Saturday? That is something. Changes everything in my mind. I have met so many rad people this season. Its not just Hup its the whole NECX.

Thank you to all of you for keeping cross weird. I love this sport and I love you all. 2013 is going to be insane. Surf this wave with us okay? I promise it will be better than anything you could imagine. Get your SSCX bike ready. Its going to be so rad. HUGE Hup hugs to everyone who supported the Zank SSCX series. Huge thanks to all the promoters, teams, racers, sponsors. Hup! Hup! Photo of Leah by Matt O'Keefe. More of Matt's great photos from Ice Weasels can be found here

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming. Saturday felt like we had gone deep over the wall looking for the Free Folk. My hands were frozen stubs by the time we got to the Island and Dr D snapped this photo. But there is no whining in Winter. Frankly there is no whining or crying in mountain biking. So I just put my hands under my arm pits and smiled. Two turns later on the Islands sweet goodness and I forgot all about it. By the time we got to the pump track I was actually slightly overheating. DD was there as adult supervision. He is wise to my tricks by now. No one died on the ride. It was close a few times. Charles almost freaked out on the boardwalk but kept it together. We didn't have fresh tracks but it was close. The snow set up perfectly and the woods became a pump track

The Wilcox paid me a visit on Friday. Dropped off some nice swag from Broadway Bicycle School for the finals of the Zanconato singlespeed series. What a great season. So many cool races. The overall winners are pretty much set. And they will be getting some killer trophies. The rest of the podium will get signature Zank SSCX pint glasses! And of course everyone who raced gets a ticket to win the Zank team tig frame. We have some great prizes. We will do the flash mob raffle right after the sscx race at Ice Weasels. Come to the Hup tent. You know you are feeling lucky!

Beaver shot out at Millenium park. Busy little creatures. They carved up maybe 7 trees along the Charles.  I love Winter riding. Everything slows down. No bugs. You don't die from heat exhaustion. No dust. It might be my favorite time of year.

Hup! Hup! We stopped at the pump track. And dropped into the big berm out at Millenium. The beavers aren't the only ones who have been busy in the woods. Cutler is really starting to take shape. I am super excited about 2013. I think we are going to turn it into a legit riding spot

Snow boner. There was just enough snow to make it interesting. My #crankle held up. We took a cool reverse loop out past the VFW parkway. I actually hopped some logs which is a good sign. Frankly I think it means I am 100% back in action.

The Wilcox had his new team bike with him on Friday when he dropped off the prizes. Beautiful. I love that each team bike reflects its rider. This bike is so David. Full PRO race bike but it also has all the details for commuting and urban assault.

There is some serious bling on that bike! Only took a few spy shots. We will do a full #bikeporn photo shoot of it soon. See you all at Ice Weasels. Season is almost over. Saturday we finish up in style! Thank you to all the sponsors who backed the Zanconato singlespeed series! High & Mighty beer, Boloco, Zanconato Custom Cycles, Newbury Comics, Mad Alchemy, Smithers, Lazer, The Wilcox, Broadway Bicycle School, Vittoria, Castelli, NEA and Andy Ewas, Ortleib, Derek Griggs, Matt Lolli, all the promoters, all the racers. Thanks for keeping cyclocross weird.