Uncle Ross taught me a few things back in the day. One of the lessons that has stuck with me is that the most important feature of any bicycle is "Smiles Per Mile." Yes, yes I know cycling is serious business. Having fun on a bike isn't right. Cycling should be all about suffer faces and epic rides. My friends remind me every day of what Ross Shafer imparted upon me 20 years ago in a shed in Petaluma, California. And no one. I mean no one puts more smiles per mile in than Matt Roy. Endurance guys are supposed to be weird. Science guys are supposed to be geeks and stick to themselves. Matt Roy is an incredible human being. Smart, funny, talented, tough as nails and just so warm and welcoming. Its been well documented how he took me under his wing right before CX season and spent 5 hours on my cx bike getting it ready to race for the season. He did not have to do that. At all. I am a scrub masters racer on a good day. But he spent the time. And I am forever grateful to him. Matt and Mo are like the CX mom and dad we all wish we had. They foster this community in a way that I really haven't seen before. I love those two. So when Mo sent out an email to the #NECX that we were going to throw Matt a surprise birthday ride I was all over it!
It was hard to tell what the ride would be like. New England is having a very NE type of winter. One day its 40-50 degrees. The next day we are having a full on blizzard. The Blizzard (Nemo what?) set us back a bit. The trails are under about 1-2 feet of snow. It was to be coined the Ronde Roy 40. Matt was turning 40. Which in itself is staggering. He does not look 40. At all. 30? sure. And it was supposed to be an Irish 40. Hmm Ok. Cross bikes with fenders was the call. We all showed up at the Ride Studio Cafe at 10 am on Matt's B-day. And somehow the internet kept it a SURPRISE! This actually is the greatest accomplishment of the ride. Matt had no idea. When he walked into the Studio and saw 40 of his friends the look on his face was priceless! We all yelled "Happy Birthday Matt" Will Crissman handed me a noise maker and I pulled the rip cord. We may have covered Carrie in streamers. It was a pretty rad mix of a crew. Most of Matt's close riding buddies. David and John. A bunch of the Seven crew. A big Boloco crew. Hup. Thom Parsons and Crissman on singlespeed mountain bikes. Ouch. Will rode over in a snow storm for the ride. On 36x16. And was at the front for most of the ride. Yeah its no shocker why he won DH40 last summer. 5-6 women of the #NECX riding like Rock Stars. This is how all group rides should be. Zero testosterone. Fun. Sticking together. No half wheeling. Conversational pace. What truly boggled my mind is that it was February in New England. We rolled out as the snow was falling. No one complained. No one was fearful. Because we are all friends. And Most of the riders are legit. Riders who race cross and do big gravel rides. Not some sketchy CRW Tuesday Nights World's riders. Solid riders. The fact that we had a bunch of riders on fixed and singlespeeds and we all stayed together for 50 plus miles was again way more smiles per mile. I got to talk with so many people. Caught up with old friends. Made new friends. Okay it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Shopengarten somehow even with fenders on his bike covered me with grime by the time we got to Hanscom. Now its not 100% his fault. He did have fenders. I am just a dirt magnet. I had a proper Belgian tan and was happy
All these amazing photos except for the one at the top are by Matt O'Keefe. How he takes such amazing ride photos is beyond me. I tried to take a few but almost died doing so. After that I stuck to the still photography. But every photo you see it. No grimaces. Just smiles. Winter riding has that effect on you. Might seem counterintuitive. I know my California friends look at us and think we are just suffering through winter but we really aren't. I love riding a nice winter bike with fenders. As long as you have the right clothes you really are never "cold". And frankly cold is such a relative term. Once you acclimate 30-40 degree days feel "warm" For the RdR40 it was probably in the 40s. No one was cold. We stopped at a cafe midway through the ride and the looks on the patrons and cashiers faces were classic. You would have thought Visigoths had just come screaming out of the woods and demanded loot. Once we got our story straight...ie "Birthday Ride" they warmed up to us. Even filling water bottles. And that Acton "muffin" shop had one of the best blueberry scones I have ever tasted.
Matt's good friend John Bayley set the route for the ride. And it was really nice. I don't get to ride North of the Pike much and this was a real treat. Again we had 40 riders on various bikes. We all kept together. Zero flats. Zero mechanicals. That my friends is impressive. What was equally impressive is this was the maiden voyage for the HUP Honey Winterando. You remember that bike right? It was one of the bikes we collaborated with with Honey for this season. Its one of those concept or dream bikes that real riders think about all the time. Real riders covet a bike like this. Comfortable, performance oriented bike that can take you places. A "do everything" bike if you will. My good friend Roger had the honors. This ride was just the beginning of our adventures with that bike. But what blew my mind was Roger never had to stop and adjust anything. How is that even possible? 50 plus miles. Tight roads. Mixed group and Roger was at the front driving it all day long. So rad.
Such a great day and such a great way to honor a truly great friend. I hope Matt had as much fun on his ride as I did. Happy B-day my friend. No way you are 40. I just don't believe it. Cheers