Monday, December 16, 2013

A Song of Ice and Fire

I am in a somewhat abusive relationship with The Ice Weasels Cometh. One of my greatest days on a bike was on those frozen grounds a couple of years ago. That was the last time I raced IWC on actual ice. The previous few renditions of IWC could have been renamed The Mud Weasels slideth. Or Tough Mudder Weasel p/b ENGVT. Total mud pits and slog fests. And a blast. I don't do well on ice. True story. One I don't learn from my mistakes. Ie like this years rendition held on the North Shore in Rawley near Ipswich on something that looked like the set from Psycho. We got to the "race" and I took one look at it and said 'WTF, this looks like a Verge race!?" Now one should not be surprised when they show up at a "race" and see racelike features. But for the last 4 (?) years Ice Weasels has been held on a small family farm and resembled Woodstock. Including the Hippies. I almost got back in the van and drove home. Then I saw the heated beer tent, and CX Giraffe, and HUP and then Kevin. And my world was restored to order. Kevin asked if I had brought the kegs. Of course I did. We rolled one into the heated beer tent. I mentioned the heated beer tent right? And the fire pits? Ok I was getting excited to race the bikes. Or shred as it were as half of my friends "racing" were doing so on SS Mtn bikes instead of CX bikes.

We had seen the sneak peek of the course that a certain Canadian 'Fro rider had posted on Thom Parson's webpage. I really don't know what Thom sees in that Canuck. He is kind of a dick with his "awwp zee laugs" bs. I mean WTF. We all can't hop the logs kid. Its science. Just cause I don't smoke medicinal marijuana to get my day started and ride an enduro bike don't make me feel bad about myself. Sheesh. But other than that the guy or Guy is the hell do you speak Canadian? Seriously. He laid down a sick GoPro video that showed that perhaps a CX bike was going to be a bad idea. Like maybe the worst idea. So #NEMTB represented hahhd as they say in New England. And most of us did it sponsor correct. I had to pull some strings to get my Zank SS Mtn bike back even if for a day. But it was so worth it. That bike is like frickin Excalibur. I am not joking. Its just magic.

I bump into Agent Utah and we kit up and go for a course recon. Aka we look for places to get rad. Lots of opportunity for that. Riding the course I thought to my self, "self people are gonna get jacked up on this course if they aren't on top of their shit." But I was very relaxed. I brought a few tricks with me back from Philly. Like the power of flannel...and mountain bikes. Have I mentioned my total and utter hatred of Specialized tires? Umm maybe not. Anyhoo we are riding along and having a blast. Offcambers are rad. On a SS Mtn bike they are easy peasy. Pretty much picking lines is irrelevant. We get to the "runup" and my crew are looking for the t-bar. I mean calling this thing a runup is an insult to running. It is a scar on the hillside. Running or even walking it with neoprene booties is next to impossible. But what ever its Ice Weasels. So we get to the top and then it levels out. There are some chicanes. Oh yeah tape to tape suckahs...and then KABOOM. Oh I guess that stuff that looked like ice really was ice! Hahaha that is so funny. Half of my motivation for racing the mtn bike was for the flat bars. My right wrist was still jacked up from Philly (hahaha, yes the jokes tell themselves!) and I knew there was no way I could ride a drop bar bike. So instead of riding my skinny tired/CXbike/Gravelbike/Roadbike I was on my ultra enduro fat tired bike. And my wrists thanked me for it.

So where was I? Oh yes my ADD and short memory in regards to things that help the bike racing and keep me out of trouble. Keeping me out of trouble on two-wheels is pretty much a full time job. So we get to the top of the runnup and haup back on zee bikes. Turn, turn, Kasplat. I hit the deck hard. Oh good now my other hand and ass are killing me. But nothing is broken. We get back to the start/finish just as the CX Giraffe is backing into the front row. Oh god. Please don't anyone kill the Giraffe. Colin smartly tells the Giraffe to get a headstart. Then 75 dirty SSCXers are unleashed on hell for some Giraffe hunting! Somehow we get through the scrum without anyone killing themselves or all those around them. Ahhh SSCX you are soooo much better than Cat 3 psychopaths. Had a good start. Sort of chop Abel at the off camber. Sorry Abel. Then smash my self on the second log hop but nothing too bad. Did I mention I was racing in a flannel jacket in honor of my new BFF Kelpius Cycling? It was actually perfect. So you probably get the idea that it was cold. If you weren't there you have no idea. It was about 20 degrees. Without the wind. I think it was 17 degrees when we arrived. And it started snowing right as we staged for the SSCX. I had flannel power not going to lie. I am feeling great. Which is weird cause I don't really actually ride bikes much right now. Puppies. Kids. Blah, blah, blah.

Amazing what confidence a SS 29er can give you on a gnarly CX course. Maybe too much confidence. So we get to the top of the runnup from HELL. I am somehow in front of Abel which is weird. But I know he is right behind me so I figure maybe we can have a HUP party in the SSCX scrub zone. Then I get to the same EXACT spot I crashed at in warmups and ride like a jackass and crash again. EVEN HARDER. This time I stay down for a bit. I am sure I have assploded some body part. Then Abel goes by like some kind of lifeline. I reach out to grab it and it just goes by. In #ICEWORLD no one can hear you scream. Or gives Zero Fucks that you messed up. So I pull my big boy panties back on and start pedaling. I am in a shit load of pain. Mostly my other wrist. Oh great. Matching messed up hands. Who needs hands to bike race?

I come through the beer tent/part zone and I see Frances waving what looks like a sausage at my face. She is SCREAMING "Chip, I am counting on YOU!!!!!" Ok Frances. I love you too. And that sausage looks delicious. I hope its spicy. I know a spicy sausage will help me forget this pain. Now imagine the whole world goes to slow mo. And the anti-hero gets that O look on his face and is saying NOOOOOOOOO. That sausage is not a sausage at all. In fact, its a big purple dildo. I think I bit it or kissed it. I don't know. I feel like I let Frances down. But it was so confusing. Did she want me to take her #dildohandup or just stop and applaud her for making #dildohandups a thing? It was probably the highlight or lowlight of my CX season. Now to be upfront. Unlike some other Masters racers out there. I am not uptight. #dildosarenotacrime in my book. So yeah the party zone was off the hook.

I start to come around after Frances' shock and awe treatment. Get my head back in the game. I take a handup at the bottom of the runnup from Nable. Get to the top. Cut the shit out of the course. Fuck Colin and his tape over some Ice Field filled with landmines. I see Ian do some kind of back flip. Holy crap. Then I see HUPcakes. HUPcakes were almost the death of HUP United. True story. I am not missing my chance. I stop and Joel tells me its the last one. Thank god. Then Kurt hands me a beer. Damn you #NECX you just keep pulling me in like the mafia. I think I am out. I am too old for this shit and then you lay this down. Ok so we are at about 2 to go. Who the hell knows. Anyone who is "racing" IWC is doing it wrong. I see NATE. I FREAK OUT!!! Nate I scream. We hit the runnup. And a girl (yes, she is under 18 so is a GIRL) flies past us in a pink tutu!!! I SCREAM ELLEN!!! The future of US CX just raced SSCX in a pink tutu. And is smashing the field without even trying. She gets to the top of the runnup while Nate and I are bitching and moaning and saying we are going to nutpunch Colin when we find him.

I get to the top ahead of Nate. I think he stopped and grabbed a beer or bacon or some shit. I remount and see bodies all over #ICEWORLD and one is wearing a pink tutu. Fuck. If we have broken Ellen I will commit Seppuku in the beer tent. I ask in my best most calmest voice. Are you Ok? She says yes and picks herself up off the deck. ALL the other dudes look at me and say 'I'm not ok" Yeah whatevah dude are you the FUCKING FUTURE? No? I didn't think so. Get over yourself you little special snowflake (I wish I knew the trademark symbol. Special Snowflake is an ENGVT production) I sense some people hunting me. Nate goes by. I try and stay on his wheel. Hahaha that is funny. Nate has so many WATTS its silly. I try to somewhat redeem myself from losing so many places crashing my face off yet racing at IWC is so silly. BUTIREFUSETOGETOWNEDATTHELINE. So I spin that 32 x 19 as hard as I can and heed Adam Craig's sage drunken advice at Philly and stay in the saddle and don't look back. I cross the line and say hi to Christin. Christin rocks. But you all knew that. And that as they say was that for my 2013 SSCX campaign. And then the CX Giraffe wanted to go into the beer tent. And we guided that Giraffe in. This guy is 100% my hero. Frankly, at this point, ALL my heroes wear costumes. But NEVER wear capes. This year was marked by two costumed crusaders of CX: CX Giraffe and Ice Angel. Words can't even begin to convey the respect I have for those two. Most people put a costume on as some kind of outlet or gag. A way to blow off steam. Yeah right. Try wearing (and RIDING) in a 9 foot tall Giraffe outfit. Good luck with that. Or try dressing in an Ice Angel costume. When its 18 degrees out. And smiling. And getting rad the whole entire time. And Vickie podium'd the next day at Beaver CX in the elite race. Mind boggling. #NECX I frickin' love ALL of you. Thank you. Seriously. IWC showed me we know how to have fun. We don't have to be soooo serious and live up to the stereotype that we are all a bunch of jerks. We actually get it. And take care of each other. Okay 'nuff of that emo shit. I am starting to cry. I am lying I only cry at weddings. True story.

Ok let's do this: IWC was the best Weasel Evah. Why?

• Van parties. Wut? Yeah so Uri was FREEZING after his race. So I dragged him to the van put him in the drivers seat turned the car on and blasted the heat. When I came back 10 minutes later there were at least 6 people in the van. I didn't know half of them. This is why CX fucking rules. Total strangers warming up in a strange van. And its not strange. At. All

• Ellen Noble. Hmm where to even start. She is the future. When she was getting SSCX gearing advice from Katie FUCKING Compton the night before IWC I nearly had a heart attack. The future is bright kids.

• CX Giraffe. Love Dave. Seriously. I don't even know how to process what he just pulled off.

• That weird Canadian dude. As much as I want to HATE that freak. He gets me going

• Ice Angel. Proof once again that mountain bikers get it. The fact that in back to back weekends in the snow two mountain bikers got rad, had fun, and just plain got it should be a wake up call to all y'all who take yourselves so DAMN seriously. Life is short people. Have some fun. Lighten up. Its ok. No one will judge you for being rad. I promise.

• Ipswich. Or the North Shore or where ever the hell we were. I have a bit of a Game of Thrones problem. I can trace it back to Band Camp and Dungeons and Dragons. Yeah I am a geek whatever. The North Shore to me are like the Northern tribes. And they really are. They are their own unique deal. They can seem like Barbarians from the outside. But man they are the best. Love each and every one of them

• Thom, Colin, Kevin, Christin and the whole IWC crew. Respect and hugs. And Gerry, thank you for the two kegs of beer for the SSCX race.

• Shit I almost forgot. So yeah the last time I did an Icy IWC I blew out my MCL and STILL BEAT BERT!!!! Suck it Bert! This year at the coldest IWC ever I pretty much destroyed my OTHER knee. Perfect. Nothing broken. Just a big ass needle and drained fluids and some cortisone. I am ready for some serious Winter shenanigans. Who is with me?

• Video number one from is here

• Video number two from Nicky is here 

• Tandems, I almost forgot tandems. Seeing Ed and Michele on a tandem in the SSCX race with ironically placed zip ties was amazing. Love those two

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pizza Strength

Philly SSCXWC was three days of mayhem and madness fueled by Yuengling and PBR. Friday was a registration party/art show. Saturday you had two options. Bilenky Junkyard CX or Feats of Strength. As much as I have always wanted to do Bilenkly the thought of a Tour de back alleys of Philly was much too hard to resist. Riding bikes all over a City with a local Wolf Pack is the best way to see a new City. Feats of Strength and Bilenky were also being used as qualifiers to SSCXWC. Please don't get the wrong impression. Saying you have to qualify for SSCXWC is like saying you have to qualify for band camp. Showing up is 90% of the battle. Speaking of not showing up. So the way this hotmess was supposed to go down was the "delegates" from each city that wanted to host SSCXWC 2014 were supposed to ride together and battle each other for poker chips. That would then be used on the final nights Who's Got Next poker tournament. Cleveland and KY didn't show up. Cleveland was still hammered #dronk from the night before and KY opted for Bilenky. I get it. Sort of. But anyhoo. That left Boston (me), Belgium (Belgium?), Vancouver (Hodala), and Dirt Rag. Although I think Dirt Rag was more of a military observer, sort of like in the early days of the Vietnam conflict. 

Our guides (and my new Wolf Pack) were three guys from Lone Wolf Cycling. My host (and new BFF) Ryan slapped a LWC sticker on my chest tagging me as a protected rider. It would in fact act as some type of protective bubble for the next 8 hours. How I survived this day is still a mystery to me. We check in, wait for KY (every time I type that it seems dirty...) and Cleveland. No show so we roll. We get about two blocks and the Hodala guy says "Beer Stop!!!!" Have I mentioned its 9 am? Have I mentioned how much I love the Hodala crew? We get to Hodala HQ for the weekend and roll into the batcave. It is wall to wall Raleigh SSCX bikes and a keg. We have a pint to start the ride on the right note and head back out. I feel pretty drunk which is weird. My blood is pretty much beer at this point so one pint even at 9 am really shouldn't affect me like this. I take a sip of my "water" bottle and see the problem. Looks like while we were checking in at registration someone filled my "water" bottle with whiskey. How helpful! I am sure it was just some concerned SSCXer who didn't want my water bottle to freeze in the 20 degree weather. So I toss that out. And ponder just how hard I will be heckled if I ask these kids to stop for coffee. Luckily the coffee Ryan has been making all weekend is jet fuel and has canceled out the affects of the whiskey.

Feat of Strength Numero Uno is a skate park. Oh shit. Our guides tell us who ever gets the most rad gets chips. We go through a series of challenges. Nothing too horrible. Shenanigans. I do ok. Avoid killing myself. Yarnell, the "Belgian" Delegate, begins to show his colors. He has decided to dress as the Lizard King meets Lion of Flanders. He has faux lizard pants, a leopard print shirt and the topper a Lion of Flanders cape. The cape is attached to his neck with zip ties. Umm zip ties make great hand cuffs for crowd control but not so much for attaching things to one's neck. More on that later. Yarnell crashes his face off a few times. We suggest perhaps putting the Lion in a backpack so he doesn't die when it gets sucked into his wheel. Crickets. So we roll out to Feat of Strength #2. Philly is incredibly bike friendly. Great paths, nice bike lanes, drivers who don't seem hell bent to kill you. I don't think I heard one person honk. At anyone. Weird. Drivers that actually can drive around cyclists in a city without getting pissed. 

We are riding 2 across and 6 deep on a nice multi use path along the river. It is gorgeous. Everyone is talking and having a good time. I am right behind Yarnell in the paceline. As we head under a bridge his Lion of Flanders cape gets sucked into his rear wheel and pulls him back and nearly decapitates him. His hands are ripped off his bars and he is falling backwards off the bike. I mentioned we were in a paceline and going about 18 mph right? Yeah so I am screwed. My only option is to go full on Terry Tate bike path linebacker. I basically hurl myself at him and tackle him. Somehow I unclipped and was able to self arrest, tackle him and save us both from death. His helmet hits me square in the jaw and I see stars. The LWC fighter escort deems this a party foul and I am awarded a 3 chip crash penalty. Excellent. I am totally winning this or dying trying.

We head over to the Rocky monument and take some photos and then run to the top of the museum steps. Somehow a man in lizard pants SMOKES me on the run up. I mean I am not a runner but damn. That stings. I think its the whisky. Maybe if I kept drinking it I could have taken him. Running up concrete stairs in CX cleats is not optimal. We see Adam Craig ride up the stairs. Sick. While a super touristy spot it is really cool. People are totally into it. Much heckling goes on between us and tourists/runners. Yarnell challenges a woman to a push up contest. We leave before she calls the cops and we all get tazed. We roll off the back side of the museum and down some offcamber grass hill. The LWC yell WALL and we just avoid catching some sick air off of a stone wall. That would have been epic!

We finally get to some dirt trails. It is so nice. Reminds me so much of the Ronde or Diverged ride that we do in Boston. Its so cool being able to ride park to park and just play on bikes and do stupid shit. We blast down some sweet dirt/gravel trails towards our next challenge. Along the way we have a Sly Fox beer stop at some burned out building. One of the LWC guides tells us about a school bus that was lit on fire in this area. Things can get a bit Zombie Apocalypse fast apparently. We stay on our toes but over the entire length of this ride I never felt in danger. Well except when I was near Yarnell. Then my spidey sense was off the charts. We head to Port Royal for a hill climb challenge. Calling this a challenge is an understatement. I like cobble hillclimbs. They are fun. I have mentioned we are all on singlespeeds right? I have a decent climbing gear with 36 x 17. Theoretically I should be fine. But I am not a climber. Obviously. The boys ride to the top. This one has a massive payout. 50 chips for the winner, 30 for 2nd, 20 for 3rd 1 for 4th. Mike Cushionbury from Dirt Rag joined us to increase the radness. Super cool guy and so stoked I finally got to meet him.

Nick is halfway up and sort of tells it like it is. In his words. "Its steep at the bottom, turns right and punches up and gets loose and nasty. And look out for cars" Holy shit. Ok so 3,2,1 blast off. I get a good start and then we hit the wet cobbles on the right turn and Cush goes FLYING past me in overalls and boots. The impact of this on my feeble mental state is crushing. I fall over. Yarnell passes me. Fuck. I try and run. The cobbles are so bad from the rain etc you can't even walk them let alone run. Yarnell puts a foot down. SHIT. I hop on and pedal like a stomp on the pedals. ITSOCLOSE. If I had 50 more yards I would have had him. Shit. LoF=2 #CBL=0. This is not going well. As we are prone on the ground puking. The Canadian saunters by us and keeps riding up the hill. In my hypoxic state I wonder where he is going. And then I see the chips stacked up on the ground. Hodala casually reaches down and steals Yarnells chips!!! Hahaha yeah buddy that is what I am talking about. We had been taking this way too seriously up until this point. He takes off up the hill. Classic SSCX move. I love that guy to say the least.

We get out act together and roll up the hill. Yarnell is shattered. And we have another real paved climb kicking us in the nuts. No one seems to care that Yarnell is off the back. I usually have sympathy for my frenemies but in this instance I defer to the locals. Its all I can do to keep the pedals going anyway. We regroup at the dirt crit portion of this Feats of Strength. Ok finally maybe a contest I can "compete" at. The venue for the dirt crit is a burnt out old reservoir that has been reclaimed by the dog walkers and environmentalists. It reminds me of something you would see in Watertown or Belmont. Its about a 1/4 lap. 100% flat. Half dirt and some cobble/pavement. One puddle and one somewhat greasy corner. We use a park bench as start finish. We line up 3 across. I think Cushionbury sat this one out to drink the nice homebrew that the LWC guys brought along. We were waiting for another group to come along to join us but they were lagging and we were freezing so we went for it. Yarnell and I were 1, 2 for half a lap then he popped big time. I thought I had it then sensed another rider on my wheel. I snuck a look under my armpit and saw Hodala right on me. Shit. I knew I was screwed. He had a way bigger gear than I did. But this was all for fun so I just got in the drops and went for it. We were flying. Predictably as we were in sight of the picnic bench he came around for the win! It was awesome.

After that we hung out and drank home brew and watch wave after wave of riders race in heats. It was pretty hilarious. Some really good battles to say the least. It got cold so we moved on to the next stage with a much bigger group of riders. We picked up or absorbed by about 20-30 riders. Having been a bunch of these rides I know how it can go and asked the LWC crew if we should move up. They were unfazed. We popped into some singletrack and then a school. And then we rode the most glorious roller coaster I have been on in a while. I think it was called the Meadow and led to Wissahickon park. I was right behind the LWC guys and watching them shred the trail was insane. I just locked in and followed their line. People were smashed off the trail freaking out and we just would come bombing through. They warned us at the end there was a big chute into a drop in with a metal pipe high. The line was diving underneath it at speed and carving down. The looks on riders faces as we came in hot and went low as they all were walking down was priceless. We regrouped at the bottom laughing and smiling at how rad that just was.

We rode back on Forbidden trail and saw some of the mines/caves where my good friend Ryan's Kelpius team name comes from. We did a bit of climbing and then rolled down some city streets to a bar. I forget the name of it but it was a fantastic beer bar right on the bike path. All Cities should have beer bars on their bike paths. Seriously. People would ride bikes more often. I guarantee it. We pile up our bikes and head in. I have the best burger I have had in a long time. The beer list is a bit new to me. That is another thing I love about traveling to a new City. Its so rad meeting the bikers and totally embedding in their culture checking out new trails, beer, coffee, hangout, builders. So much cool stuff in Philly. I honestly can't think of a cooler place to be a biker. The LWC and all of Philly took such great care of us. Brothers and sisters from another mother. They have an open door to the #NECX I will say that. And I will be looking for any excuse to head back down to PA for more antics on bikes.

As the day was winding down and we were at hour 7 Adam Craig and his crew come into the bar. We had already been there for a while and Yarnell and Hodala were like two brothers going at it with each other. The stolen poker chips were adding some fire to their back and forth. I think Yarnell bit Hodala and Hodala stuck a finger in Yarnell's butt to get him to release it or something. Who knows it was pretty much white noise to me at this point. It was all in good fun and I was way to busy eating to notice. But apparently the whole "Belgian" thing had finally gotten to Adam Craig. Or just Yarnell was bugging him. AC goes over and grabs the Lion of Flanders flag and says "THERE!, no more flag for you. Its mine now. Fuck Belgium!" It was possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life. Yarnell had a look of a dog who just had his chew toy stolen from him. The LWC posse wisely deems it time to go. As we head out I bump into Craig. I am in my older HUP Vermarc winter jacket with the Belgian stripes. He looks at me. Shakes his head and again says "Fuck Belgium" Hahaha I laugh my ass and agree with him and say yeah "Belgium sucks" He laughs and states the obvious "Why the hell do you have those stripes on your jacket" 

This probably would have been a bad time to ask him to help bring SSCXWC to Boston so I just sort of pretended I was with Yarnell. The ride back to Philly had more sketch, flats, hijinks etc. My only goal at this point was to not die. And to try and keep anyone else from dying. We almost lost Yarnell to an old lady in a minivan and a parked Suburban. Army Jack missed a high five and hit a sign post. We double flatted at a skate park. We somehow ended up at the Liberty Bell as it got dark. Then my phone died. The crew clearly were not done but I knew I had to get back to the shop were the rest of my crew was waiting to get home in the van. Thank god Philly is on a grid. I had no phone, no lights and no hope. I figured I was done. I was Phillies now. But I found 4th street and no one killed me riding ninja style down the cobbles. And of course just as I walked into the shop Lolli and Ryan and Jen walked in. Perfect. Philly I love you. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Where to start with this Philly Worlds post? Most epics go from past to present in a linear fashion. For Philly though the most epic part of this Odyssey was the last day. So that is the place we will begin. This will be part one of a three part Philly Worlds recap. Sort of a Manga version on Lord of the Rings meets Hunger Games meets Beowulf. Not sure who plays the part of Grendel in this. Might be the Lizard King aka Yarnell who was almost the death of me on more than one occasion over this past weekend. For now grab your beverage of choice, wrap yourself in a warm bear skin rug and cozy up to a roaring fire and come with me on a journey into ICEWORLD. Apparently it is not Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Leading into this weekend I was FREAKING out. Not about the usual stuff one freaks out about leading up to a bike "race" more real shit. Like what clothes to bring so I don't die. Get snow tires on the manvan so I don't die. Pack lights and reflective gear so I don't die. You get the idea. Most of my freak out was actual responsible shit about trying to stay alive. The 70-car pile up triggered by black ice on the fine highways of Massachusetts a week before this trip was a wake up call. I got brand new snow tires and weaponized the van for all Winter could throw at it. Sometimes being the sour monkey pays off. Big time. 

First let's get to the important stuff. Huge thanks to my fine hosts and new BFFs Ryan and Jen. Nicest people on the planet. HUGE hugs to both of them for putting up a bunch of dirt bag singlespeeders from the #NECX and treating us like VIPs. HUGE thanks to Lone Wolf Cycling. I have a new wolf pack. True story. I still can't get over how friendly and welcoming riders in Philly are. I kept trying to picture how New Englanders would have handled this weekend. People would be left for dead. In snow banks. But 'nuff of that. My guides on Saturday's Pizza Strength Tour de Philly were incredible. Such talented riders. Strong as hell and skills on top of skills. Pryor and his crew that put on the event deserve high fives all around. Bilenky, Philly all the SSCX freaks who traveled far and wide. I LOVE U ALL! Philly SSCX Worlds were held at Belmont. An urban mtn bike park. We rolled up and it was COLD. Snow was on the forecast but it was supposed to come in around 3 pm after the race was over. We got out of the car and went to registration. Bumped into so many cool cats. Got our race "numbers" We were all pinning up race plate number 1. Well all of us that were in the "B" race anyway. I have no idea how many people were in the B race. Let's call it a swarm. We lined up ala Braveheart and were told to ride down the hill and take a left onto the course. Dave only gave really one instruction. Don't be a dick. I am going to see if all race promoters can adopt this policy. Be better for all parties involved I think. So I got the "holeshot."

Which was more driven by pure survival to get to the bottom of the hill without a horde of Visigoths running over my back. Unfortunately for me I might have been distracted when Dave gave out the instructions about where we would "enter" the course. I had about 50 people to my left. And two trees and a park bench. I cleared all of that only to see that the course tape blocked off my entry to the actual course. So I skidded my rear tire out and slid under. And watched 50 dudes in costumes go by me. Hahaha. Did I mention I was wearing an artisanal burlap bag of dicks as a costume? Luckily my gracious hosts lent me a costume for the event as I had forgotten this crucial piece of equipment for Worlds.

So I get my ass moving again and start passing people. Now I know who reads this "blog" aka diary of a madman. You are all serious cross racers. But believe when I tell you this. The SSCX Worlds course was one of the hardest races I have ever done. Imagine if Larz Worlds, Putney and Lowell had a love child. Yeah. Then ride it in a burlap bag with frozen hands and a bunch of dronk fans crowding the ENTIRE course. It was the greatest day of bike racing/participation of my life. I have never been around a crowd like this. Ever. Ok one time. And it was when I first fell in love with cross. Last time I have seen a crowd this stoked was Seatac Nationals in Seattle in like the year 1860. See I have been around CX longer than Adam Myerson. True story. Somehow I get back to like 5th wheel. Part of it is the grass climb up to the start/finish is horrible. Steep tall grass. Just kicked you in the nuts (or ovaries) each and every lap. At the top of the hill there were two options. Singletrack or a cut through spiral of death on the cross course. Which option do you think I took each time? So we hit the singletrack and predictably people start crashing into logs and trees as its pretty greasy from all the rain Philly had been hit with the last couple of days. I get through all the madness unscathed. Then hit Parachute hill. Brutal. Steepest longest "runup" I have ever seen in a cross race. More a mtn bike hike a bike. And of course the Lone Wolf Cycling party zone. Someone hands me a red solo cup. I think thank god. I am sobering up and its 9 am. It is chili. I respectfully decline. I get to the top and see Rocky. And Greg Whitney. Greg hands me a beer and gives me a proper welcome to Philly hug. We hang out. He steals my bike and hides it. I go find it and head back into the gauntlet. The descent on the other side is sick. In the drops just flying down a CX roller coaster.

Back into some fun singletrack with Liberty Bells hanging down on the course. I try to hit them all with my helmet. Back into a bunch of cx taped turns on a grassy knoll. I see my host (and BFF) Ryan half naked and putting on his AnonCX costume. #IAMEXCITE to say the least. He hands me a beer. We hang out. I see Lolli. His knee is all kinds of f'd up. I head back out on lap two. So much madness. At one point I come through the start/finish and I hear the announcer. He says "here comes rider...oh I can't say that on the pa this is a family event" I scream at the top of my lungs " A BIG BAG OF DICKS!!! The guy literally starts laughing his ass off on the pa and repeats "Yes here comes a big bag of dicks!" Not often you can make the announcer laugh at a CX race. Did I mention that the Mayor was at the race? And that he kicked off the event? And that the City Gov't was totally behind Worlds? Yeah not sure when that has happened at a "real" CX race. Oh yes I do. Never. The rest of the race is a blur of shredding fun CX, taking handups, laughing my ass off, wanting to die because it hurt so bad and having the best time of my life. Came down to Philly a shell of a man. Serious. I have been so burnt out this season. But SSCX has saved me. I left filled with soooo much ammunition. A new man if you will.

So my "race" and weekend was a HUGE success. If that was it, it would have been AAA plus. One of those things in life that get you through the darkness. Then the Big Show happened. And it started snowing. During my race it started snowing but really didn't accumulate. It was coming down hard enough that your eyeballs felt like they were being stung by #dronk hornets. But as we sat by a food truck eating brisket it turned into BlizzardCX. Last time I have seen this much snow was Gloucester 2005. It just started dumping. The mens race looked fun. Lots of naked dudes. And Adam Craig destroying everyone. A local put up a good fight but it was never in doubt who would win. Craig was highly motivated to get that skull tattoo. Kidding aside if Adam Craig was my hero before he is in an entire other Pantheon of CX gods now. He was beyond cool the entire weekend. Smile on his face every time you saw him. Had fun. Also heckled the shit out of Yarnell and stole that damn Lion of Flanders cape that was almost the death of me. But that is for another days post. So as we are eating our brisket and coaxing one of the woman to go race it goes full white out. We head up to Parachute Hill. And the party is off the hook. A drunk dude says "this is like the Tour de France" Seems stupid but again I have NEVER seen this many fans for a cross race. They lined the entire hill. And when the lead woman aka Batgirl came flying up that steep face a sea of fans parted and she had to elbow her way through. It was mind blowing.

I looked over and there is Adam Craig. Cheering on all the ladies. Handing up rum. Giving a few slaps on the ass with a riding crop he stole from someone. It wasn't just the ladies who were getting slaps on the asses don't worry. It got more rad or devolved quickly depending on your view. People would give women piggy back rides up the hill. Anne Rock was dressed up as a nun and her son was the Devil. I saw Beetlejuice and was sure I was in Hell. And was happy to be there. It was madness. And I was sooo stoked. In about 2 hours it snowed 4 inches. We were all covered in snow. But no one was cold. It was amazing. Vicki Barclay ie Batgirl is my hero. Seriously. She is soooo strong. And had such a rad attitude about the race. The poor woman who we saw at the food truck didn't even make it through one lap. She got halfway up Parachute Hill and I saw her on the side of the  climb holding her hands. It was really cold. I couldn't feel my hands for two laps when I was racing. We ran down and gave her some hot packs. It was all good. She ended up cheering for the other ladies with all the other SSCX FANatics!

So many highlights of my trip and this day. Again its given me soooo much fuel for the Phase 2 of SSCX World Domination in the #NECX. But one of the biggest highlights was meeting AnonCX. I am a HUGE Wolverine fan. Always have been. I have faded X-Men comics from when I was a kid. I joke that they are my kids 529 College fund. Doubt it but it makes for a good story. Seeing that Wolvie suit in action kicked ass. And no I am not outing AnonCX. He is retired. I think this was the last blast. And frankly I can't think of a better way to go out. So rad. The race reminded me so much of SSPalooza. Only on CX bikes and in the snow. The bike culture of Philly is off the charts. I don't think I have ever seen anything like this. Wide open. So friendly to strangers. So stoked on riding. Love the same stuff we do. Brothers (and sisters) from another mother. Open invitation. Anyone from Philly need a place to crash in New England we got you covered. The cultural exchange is Program Go! for 2014. Tighten up your chin straps kids. Its going to be a fun year!