|Roger's Winterando Honey in OG color scheme|
Bikes are meant to be ridden everywhere. On anything. The concept that a road bike can't be ridden offroad is silly. Most of the road rides we do include dirt, trail or path. Its pretty much rule number 1.07 of road riding in the #NECX. Rob Vandermark came up with the idea of putting together one of his go to mixed terrain loops to show off just how much fun lies all around the Ride Studio and its bordering towns. We are really lucky in this area. We have so many great paths and trails hiding right in our backyards. Some are a bit rougher than others but some are buttery smooth and covered in loam and just a dream to ride on any bike. What happens when you invite your friends to go on an organized loop comprised of a million twists and turns filled with adventure? More smiles per mile. That is the whole premise of Honey bikes. Get out and have an adventure on a really nice and smartly built bike. Rob worked so hard to get the route just right. We joked that he must have been riding at night to get the Garmin file ready for all of us to use so we wouldn't get lost.
|Pamela's All Roads Honey by Rob|
The ride was titled The Diverged Ride. Invites were sent out. We weren't sure what people would think. Would they be as excited as we were to spend the day with friends on bikes playing in the woods and finding new places to ride? As the rsvps started coming in we had our answer. The day of the ride between 80-100 riders packed themselves into the Ride Studio Cafe to enjoy Honey-centric treats made by Patria and served by Anna, Sal, Patria and the Ride Studio. Patria's homemade biscuits were a huge hit with the riders. Offerings also included Honey sandwiches, Honey Oatmeal and Honey Greek yogurt. Suffice it to say we were well fueled for our adventure. The route was about 41.6 miles. When Rob told me it might take a bit over 4 hours I was a bit surprised. Once we got out on the ride it made perfect sense! Part of it was the exploration aspect. We weren't in any rush. This wasn't a race or a hammerfest group ride. Frankly that is the opposite of what the Diverged Ride was all about. The whole point of the Diverged Ride was to take the less traveled path. I have ridden in this area for a long time. We live to ride our cross bikes on the trails. I hadn't ridden the majority of the trails we rode on Saturday. That is saying something.
|Honey Biscuits handmade by Patria by Rob|
A special ride deserves a couple of special bikes! Two special Honey bikes were built for the ride. Roger Cadman chose the Winterando and Pamela Blalock went with an All Roads Honey. Both are closely related and will be ridden on many similar rides. But both were purpose built to suit each riders individual needs and riding styles. Roger is a cross racer who also loves doing Brevets and is always up for some insane adventure on two wheels. Pamela is an endurance rider on a level that I really haven't seen before. She won the Pennsylvania Rapha Gentleman's Ride on a tandem with her husband John. And rides more in a week than I do most months. She had the All Roads built to tackle D2R2. Roger will also be riding D2R2 later in the summer but on the Winterando. Pamela's bike differs from the Winterando in some subtle ways and some not so subtle ways. It is a disc brake machine. And can handle both 650b and 700 c wheels. The Winterando is 700c with long reach calipers. Both bikes were built for the Diverged Ride. When I got to the Studio they were still assembling Pamela's bike for the ride. Roger picked his bike up Friday night before the ride. This is such a HUGE testament to Rob's ability to dial in the fit and ride to the rider. It still blows my mind that he can take all the numbers and hand a rider a bike and it is perfect for them. Both Roger and Pamela had a great day on the bikes. Zero issues just all smiles. I don't think either of them needed to stop once to adjust a thing. Remarkable.
|Honey + Hup = Good times. by Russ Campbell|
Seeing the Ride Studio packed with riders gets me so stoked its not even funny. I used to get all excited about my own experience on the bike. I would be nervous before rides anticipating how I would ride and who I would ride with. But things have changed in a short couple of years. And the big reason for this paradigm shift is these types of rides. When you put together rides for others you start to slow down a bit and really enjoy things differently. I get more enjoyment out of seeing another rider stoked at riding a new trail than I ever did from my own riding. It really is a nice change. I was super excited to be one of the ride leaders. Granted I really didn't know what to expect. Rob had 5 ride leaders. The sign in sheets were very playful and funny. I was leading a medium paced group and in the description of the ride it said "Ride with Chip if you want to get lost..." hilarious and so true. I may have gotten us lost about 5 million times on the ride! But we always got back on track. And a few of the times were for safety reasons. That is my story anyway and I am sticking to it! Have I ever mentioned the time I led my team up a highway on ramp at the PA Rapha Gentlemen's Ride? Yeah let's never speak of that again...
|David Deitch and Matt Pierson|
What was so impressive to me was how much fun everyone had. We use that word a lot. Fun, what does it really mean in the context of cycling. On a day like Saturday it literally means having fun. Seeing smiles on everyone's face, hearing everyone laughing and joking with each other. We would get lost and no one seemed to mind. We had a few crashes and a couple of flats but for such a mixed terrain route I was super impressed by everyone's ability to enjoy the day with an adventurous spirit. I can't say enough about how impressed I was and am by the riders who did The Diverged Ride on fat tire "road" bikes. It speaks volumes for what we can do on these bikes. We were riding some legit "mountain" bike trails. And no one complained or even had an issue. Maybe a few had to get off a couple of times to get over a rock wall but that was about the limiter on the route. But they stayed in contact with very experienced cross racers on cross bikes riding through the woods. I tip my hat to them.
|Starr and Pamela by Rob|
I had a bunch of epiphanies on this ride. I tend to think a lot on rides. In a group it can often be challenging because you are talking and looking out for things so you need to be attentive. But one thing really struck me on this ride. Cycling sometimes, well all the time, gets very cliquey. Its odd how elitist it can get. Even within one group there are subsets of that group who look down on another segment of that group. I remember a mountain bike ride I was on before winter when I met some friends. The friends I met were on full suspension bikes and were wearing light body armor and baggy shorts and casual clothing. One of them might have had a bmx full face helmet on. The level of freak out from them and the riders I brought with me was hilarious. It was like East Side Story or something. I have no problem moving in and out of groups like that but for some it is really hard. I had to say my goodbyes about ten minutes into the ride because the singlespeeders I was with were freaking out. We hadn't even ridden anything that difficult. I guess it was the implied hucking that the fullsuspension crew brought that was making my other friends fear for their own safety. In some sense I get it. But if you only stick to your own little circle of cycling how will you ever have fun? You have to mix it up. And meeting new people and seeing them enjoying themselves is like falling in love with cycling for the first time.
|5 go in and 5 come out by Russ Campbell|
I have to say a huge thanks to Rob, Patria, Honey bikes, The Ride Studio Cafe, Seven, Skratch Labs, all the riders who showed up, HUP for always being so rad and great ambassadors, and my good friend DD aka David Deitch for making the most amazing Skratch labs rice cakes I have ever tasted. He handed me one when we were up on Whipple Hill and it was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted on a ride. Real food is nice on a ride. I get so lazy and just pack gels or some bar in my pocket. But actual food is so much tastier and is better for you let's face it. I am getting to old for all these sugar spikes. We all made it back to the Ride Studio after a great day on the bike. Good coffee was had, all manner of stories from the ride were shared. As each group came back into the Studio after they finished up the energy levels just built and built. It was so much fun. We need more rides like this. Thank you Rob for showing us all that taking the path less traveled is so worth it! And that bikes can tackle anything, all you need is the right attitude and maybe some fat tires!