Monday, January 28, 2013

Frozen Ponies

The credit for that title and most of the pictures here go to PVB. PVB is legend. I have a PVB supporter t-shirt. As do a lot of people in the #NECX. He is a good friend and a really cool cat. I had no idea what a good mountain biker he is though. I am finding the trait I love the most in other mountain bikers is smoothness. Its probably the trait I lack the most. Chipo v2.0 has been mountain biking for about a year now. If I told you how long I have owned or ridden a mountain bike you would laugh in my face. But I don't think you can even compare what the NECX calls mountain biking to what I did in Norcal. I was a fireroad rider out in Norcal. Here in the NE I am a rock rider or woods rider. Really don't ride mountains on a regular basis. I ride some hills once and a while. But what the woods have to offer? Wow. I love the woods. They are like a refuge to me. Its taken me a while but now it is like therapy for me. Reminds me of what surfing was like.

And like surfing it is always better with a WolfPack. Winter is here. It has been cold as fuck lately. But what is amazing is that after a week of 9 degree mornings 22 degrees feels downright balmy. We have been meeting up the last two weeks for some enduro style rides. Longish. Some of us on single speeds, some on party bikes, most all of us on 29ers. Clown bikes are a thing of the past. Especially here in New England. 29ers are just that much better on rocks and drop offs and all the crazy stuff that waits to trash you at every turn in the woods. On a 29er you can just roll over the terrain and actually put those ninja skills to good use. I am old. And filled with fear most times. I have been heckled mid-ride by a certain someone who shall remain unnamed. I am beginning to think he may be my Lex Luther. I certainly am no Superman or even Clark Kent...but you get the point. Dude gets in my head. Its weird. I think its riding styles. If I try and follow him or ride like him bad things will happen. But riding behin PVB was the perfect wheel to follow. I had no idea he was such a good mtn biker. I always thought of him as a crosser or a gravel road rider. But maybe that is why he is the perfect wheel to follow for me. That pretty much describes me. I want to be a mountain biker but I never will be. I love it but I am a cross rider first.

I do think it may be partly due to the Mad Alchemy jacket he was wearing. I think they only sponsor people who are super smooth on the bike. Riding with him reminded me so much of riding with The Wilcox. No pressure. No chopping and buzzing of the tires. Smiling. Laughing. Taking all the pressure off. I led PVB on one sort of tricky section that I had never ridden well before and rode all of it. Ok I will try and ease off the Bromance pedal for a moment. Part of it is riding the woods in the winter is just different. Snow covers a lot of the scary stuff. Its all packed down like a skate park. And if you can't see something you can't freak out about it right? At one point I led down this weird rock chute. We all regrouped. Jon told me "you know you just rode down a sheet of ice right?" I literally had no idea. I guess 18 psi works ok on ice. We rode all over NTF. Half the time we had no idea where we were. Much shenanigans ensued. PVB took some fantastic photos. I remember him yelling up at me to hold on as I was dropping down some ice covered rock roller coaster. We went off the trail more times than I can count. But somehow no one crashed. I have no idea how that is possible.

Martini Junction was as always a great spot to stop and think about the trail elves. We are going to have  happy hour out at MJ one of these rides that much I know. It must happen. I am more of a vodka guy though. Hopefully purists won't be offended. This winter has been amazing. Its been a legit winter. Its almost like people forgot what a real winter is like. I dig it. Not gonna lie. I know people hate the cold and snow. But the woods again are a sanctuary. Its at least 10 degrees warmer in the woods. Some of it is windchill related but part of it to me is about the spirit of the woods. You really can go deep in there this time of year. Its quite. No bugs. Very few creatures. We have them mostly to ourselves. So you can  get a bit funky. And not have to worry about things so much.

Ok so what the hell does "Frozen Ponies" mean? One too many 420 breaks? No when we were out at Martini Junction the water fall had frozen solid. It was wild looking. So we took a bunch of photos. One of PVBs had these three Little Ponies frozen solid in the middle of the waterfall. It was classic. We all cracked up. We rode back out of the woods hooting and hollering like a wolfpack. Great ride. Need more of those. I will be actually bummed when Winter is over. How many days til SSPalooza? Wonder how 20poundskulls base training is going?

Monday, January 14, 2013


An Open Letter to USAC. Dear USAC Cycling, I am petitioning you to chose Maureen Bruno Roy as a member of the USA Cycling "Funded Team" for the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships. This past weekend at Nationals Mo won the hearts and minds of the fans as she always does at any race she attends. Mo is one of the legends of US Cyclocross. She has been a HUGE part of the growth of women in cyclocross, she has traveled to Europe each season to act as an ambassador for our great sport and knows what it means to race with the Europeans at the highest level of competition. The sport of cycling and cyclocross are at a crossroads. We have had some setbacks the last couple of years from the professional peloton. We need cyclocross and racers like Mo to rebuild our image and to show young racers and enthusiasts how to race, how to be a professional and how to be a great human being.

Maureen and her husband Matt Roy are very unique. They are a powerhouse of social media and marketing. Especially when you consider it is just the two of them. They have represented their sponsors at a level most trade teams can't or won't do. I have personally known both of them for the last five years. I have seen them support all levels of racers and riders and give so much back to the sport of cycling. Mo is an incredibly talented bike racer. I know she will race her heart out at Worlds and make America proud of her and of bike racing. But her racing is only half the story.

We need bike racers who will put a positive image forth for cycling and cyclocross. Mo's positive energy, fighting spirit and support of other racers will make a great story. World's on American soil is a HUGE opportunity for all of us. Mo is a great role model and would help bring so many young women into the sport. I have seen her mentoring first hand in New England. She has taken so many young women under her wing and helped them fall in love with cyclocross. We are seeing huge growth on the women's side of cyclocross here in New England. I personally believe a big part of that is Mo's influence. Having a rider like Mo who is sponsored by an iconic American brand like Seven and an American health food brand like Bob's Red Mill would make another captivating story for this years World Championships.

I would like to put my vote in for Maureen Bruno Roy as one of the discretionary picks for this years USAC World's team. Thank you for your consideration. 

Signed. Chip Baker. USAC member. Hup United NECX team manager. Race promoter. Cross fanatic

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lucky 13

This man and his #Jorts may singlehandedly save cyclocross. And cycling. What the hell am I talking about? Cycling is at a cross roads. Cross is about to jump the shark. If it already hasn't. I witnessed this first hand with Norba back in the 1800s. Yeah I am that fucking old. Cross has a lot more people fighting for its soul than Norba ever did but still. Once USUCK and the FUCI get their rainbow shackles on you it is all over. The fun will be sucked right out of your sport. And you know what happens when the fun goes away? So do the actual racers. But its not just USAC and the UCI. Its the whole model of racing. Its broken. Do we really need to recap the last decade and the absolute shitshow that has transpired? How cycling is alive at all is shocking. Dopers don't shock me the fact that cycling is allowed to continue at all shocks me. I will never watch another Grand Tour in my life. Why would I? But cross and mountain biking? They can save us. People are taking cross too damn seriously. Fine race your hearts out. But do not try and tell me that being serious is good for the sport. People fear handups and the "hipster tractor pulls" ruining the sport. The sport is already ruined. We are the bad punchline on sports radio when an NFL player gets popped for drugs. That is ironic. And tragic. PRO road racers have turned our sport into a joke. I say we give it back to the mountain bikers. And the derelicts.

 What is the worst that can happen? People will have fun? Yeah that is pretty much it. And they will want to race and go watch the races. And watch the interviews. Your only job as a PRO racer is to represent your sponsors. Ok you have two jobs. Represent your sponsors and be an ambassador for your sport. Winning races is irrelevant. Meaningless. Do you think people care anymore? I mean really? No they don't. They assume you won cause you doped. People even are talking about the greatest cross racer of all time. You hear whispers. I don't believe it but again I wouldn't be shocked. So back to the #Jorts and Adam Craig. He is my hero. You can't say that about a lot of bike racers these days can you. He showed up at SSCX Worlds and did it right. He raced hard. He raced in a Beyond the Terrordome/Escape From LA get up. He looked drunk. He got the tattoo. He hung out. He clearly had fun and was cool to all the other people at the event. Then he raced Nats. I sort of felt bad for the Rock Lobster boys. But when you have a tattoo that says you are SSCX WC and you race in #Jorts you deserve to be there. You aren't sandbagging the circus sideshow. It is a jersey race. By a rider of Craig's stature showing up and racing it is respecting the race. Racing it in #Jorts is just BALLER.

Its not just the #Jorts. Its the sunglasses. The Hi Viz skate helmet. The top mount brake levers. And the Schwalbe tires. The dude just gets it. Rocks out so hard. Sort of a mountain bike Evil Knievel. I was going to use the title of this post "Lucky 13" to talk about how shitty 2012 was for me and that '13 felt lucky. Then I looked closer at one of the photos from SSCX Natz and saw AC was wearing 13. No F'n Way! Unreal. Mark my words. 2013 is going to be sick. It is the year of fun. I am personally so stoked for SSCX right now. We have all championed it. Haters are gonna hate. And people will be afraid of it. Or think its disrespecting the sport. It will save the sport from itself. Trust me. No one does a SSCX race and doesn't have fun. Ok I lied. One guy. And I am working on it. I am not sure why he hated it. Ok I know why. Again we will work on it because we like to make everyone happy. I am now going on a rigorous Zumba program and eating only bacon so I can wear #Jorts for SSPalooza. You have been warned. Mr Craig. The NECX loves you man! Respect