Monday, August 26, 2013

Pug Life

Working with Honey Bikes has been an amazing journey. Its only been a short seven months but its already taken me places I have never been before. Or even thought possible. D2R2 has been on my bucket list since I moved to Boston. I would get so stoked to do it each year and then something would come up. Or I would be too nervous or psyche myself out. So it never happened, until this year! I work with a great crew at Honey. Just being around them has brought out the type of rider that I really always was, I just wouldn't allow myself to become.  Its easy to get lured into the siren song of "racing" but the fact is I will never be a good racer. I like to ride. I love going on rides where we end up getting lost or having to hike a bike up some crazy overgrown rock strewn hill. I love simple bikes. I have always had a thing for steel. My idea of a great ride is one that includes dirt. All rides, no matter what bike you are on must include dirt. Woods or some long gravel road are even better. The ability to travel through a broad range of parks and open spaces even better.

Doing D2R2 as a team made so much sense. Roger Cadman, Rob Vandermark and I have been doing a ton of riding together. And we have been thinking so much about the types of bikes we would use for the ride. The first bike that we rolled out for one of these types of rides was Roger Cadman's Winterrando. Its a great bike. Just as the name implies its equal parts winter bike, equal parts rando bike. Plenty of room for big tires, fenders, racks, long reach calipers. Just a great bike. Roger would be riding that bike with 28s. I have been riding my Honey CX pretty much non-stop since I rode it for the first time at the Ronde de Rosey. I love the bike. It has replaced my road bike. And with the addition of TRP 8.4s has become so much fun in the woods. Its amazing how the ability to stop can actually improve your experience riding in the woods! Joking aside the TRP mini-Vs. are a big jump up from cantilevers. I have used every cantilever brake I could get my hands on. For cross racing it really doesn't matter. But when you are descending down a gravel road at 30 mph it matters. A lot. The 8.4s give you a ton of confidence. Its not one finger disc brake breaking but its close. The other revelation of late has been the Clement LAS 33 file treads. They have lots volume and roll pretty fast. I know people do D2R2 on 25s but for me I really enjoy being able to descend at speed with confidence on these types of rides. To me descending, comfort and safety were all big factors in choosing the LAS.

Rob had a special bike he was cooking up for D2R2. We have done a version of the All Roads specifically for D2R2. But I could tell Rob had some new ideas that he wanted to put into play. When he showed up with a gorgeous All Roads 700c with mechanical disc brakes I knew we were in for a special day. One of the coolest things about Honey is we are constantly pushing the limit of what the bikes can do. And how they look. The paint that has been coming out of the shop has been amazing. Each paint job just gets better than the last. For this bike we introduced the bee icon. The "maker" if you will. This was Rob and my first D2R2. I wasn't nervous as Rob and Roger and I match up really well. Rob is an incredible bike handler. It can't even be put into words how well he can handle the bike.  Roger is a solid climber and a diesel engine on the flats. I am sort of an odd mix. Very comfortable descending. Not a great climber but not afraid to suffer. Our goal from the moment we signed up was to just have fun. Stay together. Not put anyone in jeopardy by going to hard or fast. We rolled out on the 115k at about 8:15. Just pulling into the parking lot at D2R2 it felt like a CX reunion. So many faces I hadn't seen since last winter. Tons of hugs and high fives.

It also became apparent that D2R2 is like a rolling NAHBS. So many gorgeous bikes. And so many different types of bikes and riders. People were in such good moods and so friendly. All the volunteers were super helpful. We had special Honey Team Rapha jerseys embroidered with our logos. I am sort of embarrassed to say I really have only worn my team kit for the last 3-5 years. Wearing a garment as nice as the Rapha jersey was such a nice change of pace. People respond so differently to you when you are in a non-team kit. They smile at you and are more apt to slow down and talk. We had a really great roll out for the first 15 miles or so. Both Roger and Rob had Garmins with the course loaded so I could really just chill and ride and talk. I didn't even bring my phone with me! I can't say enough how freeing that felt. All we were doing was riding. Pure and simple. No other agenda or distractions. Just the three of us following the course and enjoying each others company. There were some tough climbs. Obviously. You are riding in Western Mass and up into VT. But even with all the hard climbing you would pop out on some ridge and there would be a farm with sheep or some weird barn covered in cool stuff and you would just smile. 

At lunch we regrouped with a bunch of friends who were doing different routes or had started out earlier than we had. It was incredible really. The lunch was held on the bank of a nice stream, right at the foot of a classic covered wood bridge. The highlight of the day was seeing a couple roll up to lunch in casual clothing, with their daughter in a bike seat and a pug in a bike basket! I still don't know how this is possible! The pug was soooo happy. Seemed to be enjoying the riding more than all the humans! After a nice lunch and lots of great conversations we joined up with two riders from the Ride Studio Cafe. They were a great addition to our group. Really strong riders and super nice. Its always a great sign when you can meet someone for the first time after riding 2 hours and then just all flow together as if you had known each other for years. Both were on Seven mudhoneys. Gorgeous bikes to say the least. In my mind a cross bike is the best choice for this ride. But I tend to like to descend at what some might call aggressive speeds. There really were only two times during the ride where I was on the razors edge while descending. One was actually a "paved" road. It came pretty shortly after the lunch stop. And as we dropped into it I remembered one of my friends who has done D2R2 a ton had warned me about it at lunch. But the Honey has super powers. That might sound like hyperbole but its true. I have never ridden a more stable and capable bike in my life. People were remarking at how stable it was even on the craziest of gravel roads. Some of this can certainly be attributed to the 33s. Those tires smoothed out so much of the rough stuff.

I have so many great memories of D2R2. My only regret is not swimming in one of the many creeks we passed by as we were riding down gravel roads. Rob's "test" bike stood the trial by fire with high marks. We had zero mechanicals. No flats. No crashes. No bonking. In all honesty I don't think any of us was even close to being in difficulty. Really it was all about pacing and working together to make sure we were always ok and never in danger of bonking. I am biased but I think a lot of the credit goes to the Honey Bikes. They are three very different bikes for three very different riders. But that is really the core of what we are trying to do. Build bikes both for the ride and rider. Its a pretty different approach than trying to fit the rider to the bike. Next up is the Honey One Hundred. I hope a bunch of you will join us. It will be on Saturday, September 14th. 100k of fun riding, 66% of road/34% on road. Meals, drinks and snacks will be provided. It will be another ride with a ton of adventure and more smiles per mile!