Sunday, September 15, 2013

Miles of Smiles

The Honey One Hundred was amazing. Can't really put into words all that I experienced because I experienced so much during the 7 hours we were out on the bikes. I guess the first thing is to say thank you to Rob, Patria, the whole crew at the Ride Studio, the ride leaders, the support staff and of course all the riders who joined us on this adventure on CX bikes! The title of this post really says it though. Miles of smiles. I have been doing these types of rides for a while. Driving Johnny Utah home he was remarking how great these rides are and how this "started" up about 5 years ago. Granted people have been doing these types of rides since the dawn of bikes. But here in Boston we have been doing these as an "organized" group ride/race for about that span of time. And the rides have evolved in a very holistic fashion. Some are races. Some are rides. Most are bandit. Some have zero support others lightly supported. But the Honey One Hundred was the first fully supported ride like this that I can remember. It was a big undertaking. And even though I was a part of it and helped with some of the logistics I honestly didn't have any idea how much work was going on to make this happen. My first glimpse was on Friday night before the ride. As I was going to bed or trying to as I was pretty nervous about the ride I logged into twitter. I wasn't nervous about my own ride, but because I wanted to make sure everyone who came to the ride had fun and was safe. Throwing a bike party like this is always a leap of faith. Will anyone show up? Will they like it? Will they think that we are crazy because we think this type of riding is "fun"? Lots of thoughts were racing through my brain.

But as I was going to bed I checked my twitter feed and saw a photo of Sal and the Ride Studio crew making cold brew coffees and bottling them. They were preparing all the rest stop food and making delicious snacks late at night. It brought a huge grin to my face and I relaxed and stopped worrying about things. When you work with people who are that dedicated and that passionate, it takes so much pressure off. You can really just do what you do best. The morning of the ride was hectic but really just by the volume of people who showed up. We had 83 riders pre-registered for the ride! We decided to break the groups up into about 7 groups based on speed and technical ability as well as how much time people wanted to spend at the rest stops. We had 5 rest stops over the 100km route. Basically every 10 miles. At each rest stop we had the riders sign in to make sure no one was lost or having an issue. The ride leaders were tasked with keeping everyone together and navigating the course with GPS. I am becoming a big fan of GPS. Especially for these types of rides. Its really the only way to do a ride in the woods like this. In New England we have such a vast and intricate trail network. But its not that well marked. It would be next to impossible to follow the route without a GPS.

My group was a "mountain bike" group. I had a great group. The plan was to use the roads as recovery and the woods as fun. We moved so fast through the woods.  Everyone in the group was an experienced mtn or cross rider so our only "issues" were due more to shenanigans than lack of skill. Doug Jenne and Matt Lolli drove up from CT. It was so great to ride with them all day in the woods. Doug was of course on a SSCX bike. Bad ass to say the least. And it certainly didn't slow him down at all. Met a couple of new riders as well which is always great. And had one of my good friends Scott Novick as Super Domestique! Scott is a beast. No other way around it. He is preparing for the VT 50. That mtn bike race is no joke. I also had my good friend Johnny Utah in the mix. Always a crack up. Been on many an adventure with that man. His in-ride heckles are both vicious and hilarious. We all were on same page about the rest stops! EAT ALL THE FOOD. No easy task we would soon find out! I assumed the rest stops would be water, some Skratch Labs hydration mix and some gels etc. Wrong. At each rest stop we were greeted by a nice support staff. Once we checked in we had cold brew coffee, mochas, cokes and numerous treats to chose from. I won't lie. I think I had a cold brew at each stop. I was so highly caffeinated by the end of the ride it was insane. And might explain one of my more near death crashes towards the end in Carlisle!

The first part of the route was pretty familiar to me. We rode in a two man pace line until the first woods section. Once in the woods we would ride our own speed/pace with separation in between each rider so we could shred. Then we would regroup at the end of the trail. Its a method that really works for keeping a group together in the woods but also ensures everyone has fun. But then things got interesting! Following a GPS in the woods can get challenging. GPS is fine on the road as the satellite has the road info. In the woods it gets "confused" but we stayed on track and were having a great time. We found some incredible trails I had never been on before. I guess this is what makes me just in awe of how Rob has built up these rides. He knows so many "secret" trails and goes out and dials in the route until it is perfect. He does a lot of this at night. It really boggles my mind. And for someone who loves riding in the woods as much as I do it is something I hold in high regard to say the least. So we are smashing through the woods a bit and then Matt just starts laughing and saying "We are going so FAST!!" and he was right! Doug Jenne had gotten on the front and was pegging it. We were on one of the fastest and most flowy trails I have been on in this area. Usually the trails we ride on are a bit nasty. Hidden rocks and roots waiting to smash you. We popped out at the end and everyone was laughing with ear to ear grins.

We somehow popped out at Walden Pond. I still don't know how we did this. It was sort of like jumping in a time machine and being popped out into a woods riding nirvana. We checked in. Regrouped and saw Drew and Matt O'Keefe's group. I have a lot of friends called Matt don't I? It can get confusing at times. Drew is the best. That smile above pretty much sums up what a great guy he is. We split back into groups of 10 and gave them a head start. Frankly we wanted all the ice mochas at the rest stop to ourselves anyway! Let me stop and take a step back for a minute. So the Honey One Hundred was billed as a 100km CX adventure ride. But one of the coolest things about it is that people interpret CX in many different ways. Plenty of people were on CX "race" bikes with either all around or file tread tires. But there were also a bunch of people on winter bikes or rando bikes with either fat slicks or Jet's jammed in. I even saw a couple of road bikes. And yes even a couple of mtn bikes. It was a nice mix and there were some really special bikes on the ride. I tend to be a bike geek so I notice what everyone is riding. The community is what makes these rides so special. Like I said I had a bunch of friends in my group and leading and riding with other groups. It was great bumping into them at the stops or on the trail. Its rare these days to have this much time to spend with your friends. And I always cherish it.

The ride almost went off the rails in Acton as we were flying down a rail trail. Rail trails are almost the most dangerous parts of these rides. In the woods you are lazer focused (ok unless you have had 5 bottles of cold brew!) and flow through the roots and trees at the speed dictated by the terrain and the limitations of tires and brakes. But on a rail trail you can go almost race pace. They are flat and tend to be straight line. But they have little land mines that you don't always see. I was riding next to my good friend Matt Lolli just talking. I was thinking man this is so awesome. Oddly he was thinking the exact same thing when BOOM. His front tire hit a rock I guess and his hands go flying off the bars. He starts careening into the trees. Somehow his bars bounced off his knee and he was able to get both hands back on the bars and stop before certain death. Well not death but some serious loss of flesh. Matt and I took it down a notch after that. And then of course forgot all about it seconds later and were blasting along and getting rad. I have so many great memories from the day. One overall feeling that I am still processing is how much ground we covered and how much we interacted with the communities we rode through. That is one of the really special things about these rides. You get out there. And see what the local towns near you that you would never visit in a car are all about. We rode buy soccer games, baseball games, cook outs. Everyone smiled and waved. People like bikes. They can't help it.

Lunch was amazing. At the half-way point a full lunch with make your own burritos was waiting for us. We sat down and again just enjoyed the day. Said hi to lots of new friends. This was also the second time during the day where the ride almost derailed. Matt Aumiller starts jumping around and says he got stung by a bee. Ok. I sort of ignored him. Then John from the Ride Studio gets stung. Now I am starting to focus through the cold brew haze. Then Doug Jenne comes running out of the woods. slapping himself. All in all I think we had ten bee bites. They probably were wasps. We got some first aid on it but the boys just shook it off and got on the bikes. I love mtn bikers. We joked that bee stings may become a new form of doping. That it gives you a performance advantage. Of course it does...The three guys who were stung were troopers. The only time they really noticed the swelling and pain was when we would stop. So we kept moving of course. One of my favorite trails of the day was one called Otter Slide trail in Carlisle. It was as it sounded like a slip and slide on the ridge above a creek. You had to totally focus on the tiny line of sand winding through the vegetation and not look down at the dropoff to your left! Somehow no one ended up in the creek!

We had zero flats, zero mechanicals, 10 bee stings, and one real crash. Towards the end on the last real technical section the caffeine was really taking its toll, we were all just laughing and shredding the amazing root covered singletrack. John smashed into some roots pretty hard. Then I came up over the top of a lip a touch too fast hit a bunch of roots that then propelled me down the offcamber into a tree. Luckily I grabbed a fist full of brake to scrub some speed but was till about to go face first into a pine tree. I unclipped my left leg and karate kick/self arrested with my sidi dragon. It was probably the funniest crash I have had in a while. We somehow survived this last section of woods and were at the last rest stop. We topped off our bottles, said one last thank you to the amazing support staff and then headed home. It was an incredible feeling rolling in together to the Ride Studio after a full day of riding and adventure. Great food was once again waiting for us! We sat down and even though we weren't "hungry" had to indulge. I have never eaten so well in my life. What a day. HUGE thanks to everyone who came out and did the ride. We need to do more of these rides. So great seeing so many friends and making new ones. Hope everyone had a great day.

One disclaimer: I know a lot of the above text talks about going fast and shredding in the woods etc. I want to be clear that we are all very experienced woods riders and respect the environment and other trails users. We dismounted and walked across Old North Bridge in Concord because the docent asked us to, we stopped for an equestrian group we saw in Acton, we said hi and always slowed down for any hikers/dog walkers. To be honest we saw very few people in the actual woods. The biggest group was a group of equestrians who we stopped and talked to in Acton. These types of rides are new so we ask that you always be respectful and nice and yield to other trail users.

Monday, September 9, 2013


True confession time. I have never "raced" a singlespeed CX race. That may be shocking coming from a co-promoter of a singlespeed CX series. Sure, alongside my teammate and bike twin Leah Pappas-Barnes, I am the NECX/Intergallatic/World Champion of coed relay SSCX. But I have never, ever "raced" the SSCX race at Ice Weasels. That is a party, where a bike "race" breaks out. The past two seasons I have been head cheerleader/minister of mayhem for the SSCX series. We have been building up the series and I have wanted to make sure everything went smoothly. But I am learning to let go. This season I am bringing the funk back. My mission is to only race SSCX. Bold statement but true. I blame Ray, and Team Awesome, and Parsons, and a whole legion of dirty single speeders.Those two pictured above are probably the most responsible for this. Matt Lolli and Matt Aumiller are beyond rad. They know how to have fun while turning themselves inside out. SSCX isn't just some hipster tractor pull. Yeah everyone focuses on the handups and the cross dressing and the chaos but what gets missed in haze of all the paisley sundresses and Beyond the Thunderdome sideshow is that it strips CX down to a very pure and brutal 45 minutes. And it brings the fun/funk back into a sport, that in New England anyway, is teetering on the brink of taking itself way too seriously. 

photo by Ginelle

Quad CX was both the season opener for the Zanconato SSCX series as well as the official start of cross season in New England. There were over 440 racers battling it out at the Maynard Rod and Gun club on Sunday. If there is a better venue to get the season started than a gun club I can't think of one. Quad cycles has done a great job building this race up into a New England Classic. Ted and his crew changed the course up a bit. They put the start/finish on a grass field which was much better than the old finish on an uphill dust bowl! They also added a nice twisty field to increase lap times. Deciding to only race SSCX may be the best decision I have ever made. The SSCX race at Quad was the last race of the day. This afforded me a very gentlemanly Sunday am. While my phone was blowing up with texts and instagram photos of dusty carnage and freak outs, I was rolling on my CX bike to Cutler for a soulrun. Why not? My initial plan was to ride the bike to Quad and race, but the realities of bringing two cases of podium beer for the SSCX race squashed that idea fast. Its been way too long since I have ridden Cutler anyway. So I rolled out around 10 am and got about an hour and a half just enjoying the woods and riding over rickety boardwalks. It was a gorgeous day. I felt slightly guilty missing the fun of 100 Cat 3s clawing and scratching each other to pieces for 48th place. But then I dove into a pump track solo and forgot all about that.

I left my house at 12:30. The manvan was packed with beer, a bike and some cold drinks. Damn I love local grassroots races. I got the venue and had no problem finding a great spot to park in the soccer field. And there waiting for me was the Death Star in all its glory. Carrie deserves HUGE kudos for setting it up and picking the perfect spot. Team tent placement is critical to enjoying a day at the cross races. This may seem trivial but its not. You need to be in a key spot to both heckle, get the bikes ready, attend to any disasters that may unfold and to have fairly easy access to the start/finish. The HUP tailgater was at mid-season form yesterday. Impressive to say the least. This season is only one race old and I can already tell its going to be something special. HUP both new and OG were in large numbers for an early season race. And we had some VIP guest hecklers as well. I finally got to meet Cyclismas Editor Leslie Cohen. This was her first cross race. And she crushed it! Very stoked she had so much fun racing. She is also a Cat 1 heckler I will say that!

I messed about with my bike getting it ready until Abel just could not take the site of me fumbling with tools like a 600 pound gorilla and politely had me move away from the bike before I did any damage to it or myself. We are pretty lucky to have such great support on HUP. So my CX and mechanical knowledge under that Noir tent. This was my first race zip tying a geared bike as a SSCX machine. I made a fairly lame attempt at picking a gear. Still not sure what gear it was. Let's call it the magic gear! SSCX is a tough event to pick a SS gear. You need to have a big enough gear to go fast on the flats and sprint out of corners but you also want a gear that is fun and that you can get rad on. I don't think I picked a very good gear but what are you gonna do. Over thinking SSCX defeats the whole purpose. We had 47 men and 4 women on the line. I got a second row call up which was rad. I was right next to Nick "Ironman" Maggiore and Markie Mark. Have I mentioned I haven't been on my cross bike in a while? Yeah. Transitioning from a mtn bike to a CX bike is always interesting. Quad is a pretty jungly course. Today was dusty and fast with a fair amount of gravel. Time to do some serious drifting!!!! I also was on last years tubular glue job. It was Wilcox approved but still hitting a gravel filled corner at 20 mph on last years glue job can be a test of will and flesh.

The gun went off and in a dust cloud SSCX season was on!!! During the earlier races Carrie tweeted out about how many HUP were reg'd for the SSCX race.  We had 10 riders in the race! She coined the best hashtag ever and what will be our mantra for the rest of the season. #Occupysinglespeed. HUP is going to be all over the SSCX series this year! We had Rosey in full OG HUP Bleu, Markie Mark, Abel and Parke in Blanco, and the rest of us in a mash up of B sample and Noir. We also had one of our newest HUP in the Special Rooster kit. That kit was a beacon for me in that first dust filled mayhem filled lap. The course was a tough one. Lots of crazy loose sandy ups and downs, a ripper of a descent and of course my favorite euro chute woods section. I only wanted to ghost shift on the gravel descent. I could feel my index finger getting twitchy as I spun out at about 150 rpm. Then I would get bored and just coast. There was some carnage fairly early on. Abel had some difficulty. And Jerry's bike decided to assplode on him. Both of them came FLYINg by me with a lap or two to go. Those two are legit SSCX killahs.

I had so much fun. Was in a fun group with Parke and Nick and Phil for a while. It really was a huge learning experience and I was constantly screaming NOBRAKES to myself in my head. The only thing you have in SSCX is momentum. My usual come in hot, slam on the brakes, power shift and accelerate out of corners clearly was not going to work on a SS. So I tried to be way more smooth. I think this is going to be the biggest learning in the SS Dojo this season. That and power. And running. Damn not being able to shift down changes the game. Go harder or get off and run. ENGVT had a great crew. So great seeing those dudes out smashing and always bringing it. Some shoutouts:

• Johnny Utah aka Matt Aumiller gets the dirty double award for racing the Landmine mtn bike race in the am and then the SSCX in the afternoon

• Matt Lolli gets the Paul Bunyan award for chopping down a tree with his body in the Cat 3 race and then smashing it in the SSCX

• Nick gets the Triple Crown for doing 3 races at Quad. And never complaining about being tired or mentioning once on the tubes about how "hard" it was. He was shivering at the start of the SSCX race. It was about 80 degrees. I am pretty sure he had heat stroke.

• Markie Mark and Abel pretty much tied for most photogenic HUP rider. I may have to force them to wear Blanco all season.

• Carrie, Julia, Sara, Cori and Tami get high fives for coming out and racing hard. Julia and Tami got a bit bloodied up but were still smiling. I hope they aren't too dinged up. It just looked like a flesh wound.  If you ask them I think they would all tell you SSCX is a blast. We would love more women to come and race with us. It really is awesome. I promise you will have fun. Everyone looks out for each other. People pass safely and it is becoming a real family.

• We have an Official Photographer! Ben Stephens takes amazing photos. We are so lucky to have him shooting photos for the series. The 3 action photos above are his work!

Next stop on the Zank SSCX World Tour is the double NH weekend. White Park is Saturday, September 21, and Sucker Brook is Sunday, September 22.

Thank you to our sponsors: Ipswich Ale, ENGVT, Boloco, Death Touch Cross

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Honey One Hundred

The Honey One Hundred will be held Saturday, September 14th at the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington Center, MA. What is the Honey One Hundred? The Honey One Hundred is the "first" ride project Honey has put together! The "first" is in quotation marks because all of us at Honey have been doing these types of rides and leading these types of rides for years. There are so many secret/forgotten paths winding all through New England. Some are maintained with almost reverence. Others are rough and strewn with sticks and leaves and other trail debris. But its this balance that makes riding in the woods and on the less beaten path that has drawn us so into this type of riding. Its hard to define what this type of riding is. It really is a pretty new thing. I call it a cross ride because I have a cyclocross background. And riding your cross bike on basically an endurance mtn bike ride has always been a huge part of cyclocross. The woods are where crossers gain their skills. Nothing improves bike handling like riding a cross bike on a singletrack trail. But that is just one aspect of the ride.

Another part of these rides, and one that I personally am in awe of, is riding a "road" bike in the woods. When I say road bike I mean a road-style bike that can handle wide tires. At least 28. Bigger is even better. Disc brakes are changing what a "road" bike is as well. One of the bikes we are really excited about at Honey is called the All Roads. It is a bike purpose built for this type of riding. As its moniker implies it is built to handle all roads. Even roads that would not be considered a road but a path. I have even seen my friends ride technical singletrack on these bikes with zero problem. It always blows my mind. Yes you have to adjust a bit and ride smart. Once and a while dismount for a stone wall or slick rooted section. But the satisfaction that comes from being able to ride through such beautiful woods can't be measured. There is a reason the riders are always smiling in the photos from these rides. This type of adventure riding is just so much fun. It brings you back to why you started riding a bike in the first place.

On Saturday the 14th The Honey One Hundred will start and finish at the Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington. It will be a 100km on and off-road adventure ride. 100km when the route is 50% off road can take a while. This ride isn't a race. Its a fun day on the bike. We are anticipating ride times between 6-10 hours. We will serve breakfast, mid-ride meal and post-ride meal. It will be a great day of riding, eating, drinking and adventuring! Pre-registration will be required so we can plan for food and support. This ride will include so many of the great paths and roads we all love. Matt Roy, Roger Cadman and I did a recon ride last weekend. Matt and Roger were on 28 slicks and I was on my CX bike with 32 Clement MXPs (an all arounder CX tire). We rode about 40 miles of the route. The course has an amazing mix of history, classic New England paved roads and wooded paths and single track. Riding Battle Road always blows my mind. Admittedly I am a history buff but its hard to not love both the historical aspect and the shear beauty of riding on a nice path through woods and farms. It can get a bit busy but that is easily managed by just slowing down and being nice and respectful to all the other path users.

We crossed North Bridge and said hello to a Redcoat! Many photos were taken and smiles once again on all of our faces. Matt mentioned that a ranger asked him to walk the bikes across the bridge a week or so ago. There weren't any signs posted but out of respect its probably a good idea. This type of riding is relatively new so it is a good idea to be respectful and always be a good ambassador for cycling. A simple hello goes an amazingly long way to building bridges with other open space users and will ensure our continued access to these great paths and trails.

I have lived here for 8 years. I have been riding in the Lexington area for 5 of those years. On Saturday I rode some of the nicest paths for a cross bike I have ever been on. I literally started laughing at one point it was so nice. Its almost like you have found some secret that no one else knows about. And its this secret stash that we hope to share with all of you. The ride will include all meals, drinks, and snacks. Omnivore, vegan, and gluten-free options will be available. Limited edition t-shirts will be for sale. To pick up the t-shirts on the day of the Honey One Hundred orders will need to be placed by September 3rd. Bring a working bike, a helmet, plenty of tubes and tools, money, two water bottles and a sense of adventure. The ride will be well-supported with ride leaders and sweepers. Groups of 6-10 will leave the Ride Studio at 8 am on Saturday. If you would like you can register for the ride and use your own GPS to self guide yourself on the route. A cyclocross bike with wide tires is the best bet. But a road bike with clearance for at least 28c will work for those who are comfortable riding in a wooded environment on that platform. There will be some singletrack and some rocks and roots.

But back to the recon ride with Matt and Roger. We left the Ride Studio really excited to see what Rob had put together. We followed the GPS file onto Battle Road. I had to stop a bunch to take photos. There are just so many things that catch your eye. We rode a very mellow pace as the path was pretty busy with joggers and walkers. At the end of the path we cut through to Old North Bridge the site of the first day of battle in the Revolutionary War. We were greeted only by smiles by the Redcoat standing watch over the bridge. Matt joked with him about how it might have turned out if Paul Revere would have been on a steel horse instead of a flesh and blood one. I suspect he might not have been caught if he was on the bike Matt was riding. After this trip through history we continued on to Red Coat Lane and an open space I have never ridden before. It is a gorgeous loamy path that winds through the woods of Concord. We had it all to ourselves except for a few dog walkers. When we popped out it was nice to get back together on pavement and continue on our adventure. We rode a bunch of different types of paths and roads. I don't want to reveal too much of it as I don't want to ruin the surprise. But trust me you are in for a real treat. It is going to be a fantastic route!

We will meet the morning of the ride for a light breakfast, then break into groups and head out. We will have fun-, medium- and fast-paced groups. The ride is a no-drop ride but its best to pick a good group that suits your speed and how you would like to pace yourself. At the mid-point we will stop for lunch. Then upon our return to the Ride Studio we will have a post-ride meal. It will be a full day of riding, good food and adventure. The 40 miles we did Saturday flew by. One of the most fun parts of these rides is how each rider has different strengths and weaknesses. And how each person's bike is equipped to tackle some parts of the rides better than others. It really becomes this great teeter totter. I tend to be a bit better on the technical terrain but not as strong on the climbs or roads. But my teammates are strong on the road and push me and protect me from the wind. The teamwork really is one of my favorite parts of these rides. We share food, and water and stories. I have made so many of my good friends this way.

I hope you can come out and join us. For those new to this type of riding it is a perfect entry to adventure. Ride leaders will help with the route and help make sure everyone has fun. For more experienced riders it is a chance to explore some really cool trails together. If you have any questions fire me an email at We are down to less than two weeks. Get your bike ready, get some miles in and we will see you at the Ride Studio for the Honey One Hundred! To register go to Bikereg and fill out the information.