Friday, March 29, 2013

The RdR Survival Guide

Two weeks until the Ronde de Rosey. I thought as a PSA I would jot down some rules to live by. You see that book above? Yeah, go buy it. Basically everything in there is what you need to survive the RdR. Substitute bike for machete and you get the idea. But I will do my best to give the RdR the old Zombie survival treatment

1. Organize before they rise! Ie., do not show up to the Ronde on some clapped out bike. Only PVB is allowed to do this. Cause that is pretty much how he rolls. You have two weeks. You may not have washed the mud off your cross bike since Ice Weasels (shame on you!) Get it all cleaned up. Fresh tires or at least make sure they don't have cuts etc. Fresh tubes, and all that jazz. No one wants to be that rider who has an avoidable mechanical and ruins their teams day

2. They feel no fear, why should you? Ok there is ample reason to fear the Ronde. Rosey won't tell me the route (bastard!). Sure Team Camelstache had a sick homefield advantage last year but still. I am old and fat I need all the help I can get! But back to Rule #2. Do you think Mike Wissell feels fear? Matt Roy? Sara Bresnick? No they don't actually. So why should you? Have fun. It is the ONLY reason we do the Ronde. The whole point is to get out and ride trails with your friends

3. Use your head; cut off theirs. This actually translates well. Fast teams do horribly at the Ronde. The most important tool you have on the RdR is your head. Stay calm. Stay on the route. Take care of the weakest rider. You start and finish as a team. 3-6 person teams. You start with 3 you end with 3. No ditching riders. No going out on your own. This is the most basic rule of any Zombie invasion. Never separate from the group. That is the dude who gets it. Every time. You may get a GPS file at some point. Print out a cue sheet. Think about where you are going. Help each other out. That is probably my favorite part of these rides. Its not the fastest individuals who finish first but the fastest team

4. Blades don't need reloading. KISS> Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. DO NOT show up to do the Ronde on tubular cross tires and carbon wheels. We will send you home. Ok we won't cause we aren't like that but you might as well light $1,000 on fire. The Ronde will destroy lightweight stupid racing equipment. Come on a solid cross bike. Simple parts. I go with a mullet. Mud 2 on the front, Jet on the back. Business on the front, Party on the back. I like the edge of the Mud 2 so I can have fun in the woods. But its nice to have a file tread on the rear for the road sectors.

5. Ideal protection=tight clothes, short hair. Helmets are required. Obviously. Eye protection is key. I would wear gloves in case. The course will not be raked. We are in a woods environment. You will want to be prepared to hike a bike.

6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it. Hmmm not sure about this one. Solid Zombie 101 advice. I think perhaps this translates to get through the woods in one piece. We have had some crashes in the woods. Some of that is speed, some of it is fatigue. But this is an endurance bandit race. You won't make up time in the woods. But you sure can lose it. Especially if you hit a secret stump and yardsale into the woods. Cross bikes are great in the woods. We ride these trails all the time but stuff can sneak up on you. At Ronde 2.5 it seemed like my team was crashing every time we went into the woods. Don't do that.

7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike. Words to live by! There isn't a ton of parking at Washington Square Tavern. If you can ride to the ride. If not carpool. Last year we had such a big bike pile on the street we were stopping traffic. Be respectful of the locals and of the patrons at the Tavern

8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert! Momentum is the key to these events. You can only go as fast as the slowest rider on your team. So don't blow them to pieces on the first 20 miles. And here is a serious tip. I have seen so many deraillers ripped off bikes in the last couple of years. You know what the single best defense against this is? Backpedalling. No I am not talking about when you say something really stupid on your friends Facebook page and then have to backpedal and say you were dronk or just in a bad mood because your wife left you with the kids for week. I am talking about pedaling backwards. Roadies don't do this much. They are probably like why would you ever pedal backwards? Sticks are going to get sucked up into your rear triangle If you hear it or feel it DO NOT smash the pedals down. Backpedal and if you are lucky the stick will disengage. At the worst you just dismount and pull the stick out

9. No place is safe, only safer. This is very true. Roadies always think mountain biking and riding in the woods is "dangerous" I saw the craziest crash of my life during last year's Ronde. We won't name names or relive it. But let's just say we were riding in a paceline on the road and bombs went off. Luckily no one was hurt. Well hurt worse than hitting the tarmac and shredding all manner of skin off ones body. Follow all the rules of the road. Maybe put a bell on your handlebar. That certainly makes for a nice way to tell other trail users you are coming through. Some of the boardwalks aren't in the best shape. So be careful on them.

10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on. I am really looking forward to this Ronde. Rosey has cooked up a special one. We have a lot of support. I am hearing rumors of a Rondefoamparty on the Cutler Island. And maybe an aid station at NTF. We are putting the funk back into this Ronde. Can't wait to see all of you in two weeks.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


"This was never about the money, this was about us against the system. That system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. We are here to show those guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human sprit is still alive."-Bodhi

An underground movement has begun in the #NECX. Like a zombie apocalypse the virus has already infected many individuals but the general population just doesn't realize it yet. Unlike a zombie apocalypse the #ONEISF2 (Operation New England is Fun 2) movement will not result in the loss of body parts and you won't crave brains. You may crave beer but not brains I promise. What the hell is the #ONEISF2? Its a hash tag created by Adam St. Germaine. Fast skinny guy. That gets rad often. And wore a scarf long before it was cool to do so and they cost $70 bucks. Sheeet if I am going to spend bank on a scarf it better be Burberry and I am gifting it to my moms for the Holiday. I am pretty sure the King of the Apples makes his own. And its called a speed scarf. For the record. But back to #ONEISF2. If I were an actual journalist I would get a quote from Adam and do a sick black and white photo shoot that captured the epicness of #ONEISF2 but that would not be fun would it? Does that sound fun to you? No that sounds pretty elitist to me actually. Adam came up with it I believe inspired by all the fun the #NECX had at worlds. And pretty much all of cross season. Most of us want that vibe that we have during cross season to carryover to the rest of the year. The fun shouldn't have to stop after Worlds. Sure bike racing is serious business (not really). Crushing your frenemies at an office park crit will fill a hole in your soul (definitely not). Leaving your family behind to train like a europro is totally worth it (never). Making everyone else seem somehow less than yourself because they don't own the right bike, right helmet, right jersey makes you feel better about yourself (have you heard of this thing called Karma?) The point of all this is none of the above is a reason to commit to the biker life. Cycling should be a lifestyle. Not cause it will make you one of the cool cats. Dear god have you looked closely at a cyclist? We feel cool in spandex but to the rest of the population we are one step away from being a member of the Insane Clown Posse. So why not have fun. We spend an inordinate amount of time riding, thinking about riding, weaving our whole social network around other riders and committing all act of horrors upon ourselves at the altar of cycling. So some of us, well, a lot of us chose to go down another path. Long before he who shall never be mentioned went on Doprah we had been taking the path less traveled.

New England is a harsh environment. The survival rate in the early days was horrific. Riding in the NE to some may seem the opposite of fun. But shit its easy to have fun when the sun is out for 90% of the year and it never dips below 40 degrees. All those smiles and happy people you see in California? Yeah they seem happy on the outside but they aren't fooling me. But I digress. The Ronde de Rosey grew out of this idea. Why travel x amount of miles and spend x amount of dollars to race against 500 Cat 5 racers with zero support when you can actually have just as big an adventure in your own backyard, have a blast while suffering on a staggeringly brutal course and end at a pub where a cold beer and delicious food and friends await you? That sounds pretty good right? Now I know a lot of you aren't ready for fun. Choosing fun over not fun seems like weakness. Choosing to be serious over being lighthearted and getting into all manner of shenanigans seems like a waste of time. I think cycling may be the only sport on the planet where rank amateur riders believe their training and racing is just as important as the pro riders who get you know paid to do so. It is both a blessing and a curse. We are not pro racers. We never will be. What they do is beyond anything we could ever accomplish. Clean or not. 

Team Camelstache was also born from this ideal. What is Camelstache. I would tell you but then...well you know the drill. Let's just say it is a team that's takes fun and adventure to a whole other level. The Zank SSCX series same idea. Ice Weasels. You get the point. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. For lots of reasons. One the Ronde is going to be here in a blink of an eye. Two road season is here as well. Three with Spring I have been able to get on some really fun rides with friends. I love Spring in New England. I know you wouldn't think its Spring looking out your window. But for someone who has ridden all Winter outside I can tell. Sure snow is on the ground but its warmer. Birds are chirping. And friends are meeting up for long rides. I love long rides with zero agenda. Yesterday was the type of ride that Spring is all about. Meet one friend. Ride to a nice cafe to meet the second friend. Enjoy coffee and a pastry. Freak out that friend #2 isn't showing up. Check previous texts and realize wires got crossed. Friend #2 kits up as fast as she can and meets you on the path. Then go on a fun loop all through the 'burbs. Ride through hail laughing inside. Come home thrashed but wanting to do it all over again.

I made a comment about complaining last week on the tubes. Everyone gets to complain. Its part of the human condition. And bike racers have a gift in this department. But what I have noticed about the people I tend to ride with all the time and who are my real friends they don't complain. Sure maybe about this or that but not in the big picture. We can be riding through some nasty weather and we are just smiling and laughing and enjoying ourselves. So I invite you to join the #ONEISF2. Take baby steps at first. Take off the heart rate monitor strap. Unclench your teeth a bit when you ride. Take the road less traveled. Ride to the ride. I would suggest riding a singlespeed but that has somehow become somewhat serious as well. Its odd how a ss can become something of a political statement. I ride a ss mtn bike for fun. Because it is actually fun to ride. Not because it makes me cooler than you or anyone else. If you think a bike or anything else could make a person cool you may not be ready for #ONEISF2. So in two weeks when you are going crazy during the Ronde or maybe you hit a tree and are like F this bullshit I hate bikes! Stupid Rosey and his let's go ride 70 miles in the woods with a shitty cue sheet (or no cue sheet!) These trails suck. Ok maybe they are actually really super cool. But damnit I would rather be at Myles Standish in the break getting all the glory and then do a wheelie over the line like Sagan cause that is cool!!! Just take a deep breath. Let it out. Ok can you feel that space? That is the space where #ONEISF2 exists. Let it wash over you. See you all in two weeks. And try and have some fun between now and then ok...Less Q Q, more pew pew for 2013.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Less than a month until the Ronde. Yesterday was the first day of Spring. Right? Winter is never letting us out of its clutches. I have a Valyrian steel blade at the ready for when my neighbors appear at my gate with ice blue eyes...last winter was not a winter. This Winter was legit. Got started late but damn. So yeah the trails are covered in snow. And there is more snow coming. I am sure by the 14th all the snow will be gone. Actually it could make for a pretty rad Ronde if we had to shred some ice and snow. Would be fitting I think. Some big news. One Rosey is being really secretive about the route. Ie he hasn't given me one clue! I asked him mid-way through a ride last week and he just smiled that Cheshire smile of his and said maybe. So for the record I have no idea how the route will go. No one does. This year we all go in blind. No "home field" advantage for anyone. Be prepared for anything.

The next big news is that Rosey and Bob Morgan of Team Awesome have made RdR t-shirts to benefit Bikes Not Bombs! As I am sure you all know we do the RdR as a benefit for BNB. All the money is donated to BNB. The t-shirt looks fantastic. Its pre-order only so make sure you order before April 1st so you can pick it up at the Ronde. I love that he tagged the shirt #GETLOST. That is the spirit of the ride. I know people hate it when they get lost but that is part of the game. You can't ride the Ronde like you are riding Battenkill or Domnarski farm. Oh wait I did almost get lost at Domnarski farm never mind. But you get the point. The Ronde is an adventure. Its an excuse to go check out some crazy trails that you probably didn't even know were in your back yard. Its an excuse to show how you can ride your cross bike pretty much anywhere.

Some food for thought. Like I said I have zero knowledge of the route. But I have been stalking umm checking out Rosey's tumblr, strava and blog. And I am reading between the lines. Barring some change, ie the weather or some act of God dictates a route adjustment expect it to be long. And hard. Some of the new trails if they are the ones I think they are rock. This can be good or bad depending on your perspective. So rules of the Ronde. Stick together. No ditching teammates. Help out other teams as well. I heard last year was less "fun" than previous years. It was fast no doubt. Maybe had a more race feel than some previous versions. So let's bring the funk back to this year's edition ok? I may stash some beers on the course. And maybe some other "goodies" Keep posted I believe #Camelstache is plotting a Rondefoamparty on the Island on the way back to the Tavern. Pick smart equipment. Please...Make sure your bike is working. No slick tires. Or tubulars. Or road bikes. Camelbacks are cool. So are backpacks. Bring a lot of food. Stop and have a pastry. Or a coffee. No need to rush this. Be careful. Respect the other users. These trails are used by lots of people. Share the trails. Be careful on the roads. Oh man I am sounding like a CX Dad again aren't I?

I can't wait to see everyone at the Tavern. I can't wait to see the huge bike pile that always takes on a life of its own at staging. The bike pile at the Ronde is what NAHBS should be. Frankly it is pretty much a rolling version of an #NECX handbuilt show. You have bikes made in New England by the finest builders on the planet just piled on top of each other. Its a sight to behold. I can't wait for that cold beer and burger after a long day out in the woods. That post-Ronde beer at the Tavern is the best beer you will ever taste. Can't wait to see the whole #NECX. The Ronde is a sort of reunion for me. After cross season is over you rarely see all the cool kids. HUGE thanks to Rosey for once again putting this whole thing together. HUGE thanks to Gerry for letting us take over the Tavern and being so supportive. Thank you to all our great sponsors and friends who make this happen.

Speaking of great sponsors and friends. Soulrun are great supporters of cross and the #NECX. They are also bikers just like us. Live to ride and ride to live. Just like us. I asked Laura and Joe if they would add something into the raffle. What they came up with blew my mind! Check out the Belgie Tool Roll they made and are donating to the raffle! Someone is going to be soooo stoked when they win this! HUGE thanks and HUP hugs to Laura and Joe. See you all in a couple of weeks. Get some riding in. Shake out the cobwebs. And get ready to #GETLOST!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Otis has always seemed like a mythical place for me. Sort of like Mordor or Gnarnia....oops Narnia. I have never been to Otis. Otis Airforce base is a winter rollercoaster playground for mountain bikes. Typically when the rest of the NECX is buried in snow the Cape will be rideable. Not always. But after a winter like we have had I was (am) losing it. How would you be able to tell my losing it from my day to day full auto ADD velocb? Its not easy. I have never ridden Otis. I have heard great things but it just hasn't happened. Again like mythical places or beasts you over think it. But when Sensie asked my to play hooky for a Ferris Bueller's road trip to the Cape to shred the Gnar I got interested. I jokingly asked him whether he got the day off because of the new Pope or because of St Patrick's Day. Pretty much both. Ahh Boston you so crazy...

I was a bit nervous. While most people look at the #chipbakerlifestyle as a permanent state of staycation. I have actual responsibilities. And while your "job" may seem important to you, if you mess up you get yelled at by your boss. NBD. If I mess up DSS gets involved. I take the care of my kids very seriously. Sure I can get out for an hour so on a ride midweek when you all are stuck in your cube. But I have a comfort zone of how far I can be away from home during the day. Sort of like how a cat roams its territory. I circle out. I don't like to be too far away incase something happens. And trust me something happens pretty frequently. And while Otis is pretty close the Cape is weird. For a world class tourist destination it has a pretty crappy infrastructure. I have been stuck for hours trying to get across those antiquated bridges. But I put my little stay at home dad freak out in a box. I could tell Matt needed to get in the van. So we met up around 9 and headed out. You know that feeling when you leave the house and you just know you have left something behind? Ahh yeah. I did the usual check. Helmet, shoes, yadayada yadada. I had my usual yard sale of stuff in the van. A little voice kept trying to tell me something but I was too stoked to finally be riding Otis to listen.

So we pull into some parking lot off the highway. We start getting kitted up. Ahhh that is what I forgot! Left my leg warmers at home. Shit. It was way too cold to go with uncovered legs. So I improvised. I took my long sleeved craft baselayer and cut the sleeves off. Voila instant leg warmers. I figured I would end up looking like Katie Compton at World's when her leg warmers kept falling down but wasn't going to worry about it. Shockingly they never slipped. A testament to the Vermarc bib leg grippers I suspect. I forgot to mention Aumiller set me up with a sweet awesome strap to hold my tube under my saddle. I guess he was sick of seeing my lame duct tape job that I have been using since Dark Horse 40 last year. Can't blame him nothing like duct taping a tube to your seat post. Its effective but pretty trashy. The awesome strap is really nice. Holds the tube and 2 Co2s and a lever really nicely. And it looks pretty badass in my mind. It also gives me room in my jersey pockets. I tend to cram so much stuff into my pockets. I am not a big fan of wearing a camelback but having to dig through a tube and a bunch of stuff trying to find that one gu packet can be a drag.

So we punch into the woods and start looking for some fun trails. The conditions were great. Zero snow, zero wet spots. There were still some downed trees but clearly someone had been busy clearing the trail. There was a ton of stuff on the ground though. Otis is hungry for deraillers right now. Be warned. I sucked so many things up into my chain it was ridiculous. Luckily neither of us had a derailler on our bikes so we had zero mechanicals. Yeah singlespeeds do have some advantages over geared bikes. And they are way more fun. Obviously. So other than forgetting my leg warmers I had broken a golden rule of any ride. I installed a brand new Rotor Ring on the bike. Of course Otis was the first ride on it. Now this is no big deal for someone like resultsboy. I have seen him do full stem swaps right before a race. But I am sort of picky about these things. Nothing screws up the flow of a ride than having to stop and mess with something on the bike. But for once I actually worked on my bike and it didn't explode 5 seconds into the ride. What is up with that weird chainring? Who knows. Its good enough for Vos and Bigbikes Thom. People got pretty antsy when I posted a photo of it up on instagram. How can an oval chainring work on a single speed? My god the chain tension!!! It was fine. Man people need to chillax. It did not as Thom said make a big ring ride like a little ring. In fact I may have to stop listening to fast guys and taking their equipment suggestions.

The problem with asking a fast guy for equipment advice is they are fast and you aren't. They aren't fast because they have some weird chainring, they are fast because they are strong as hell and ride constantly. And are badasses. But yeah I asked for some gearing advice for SSPA. Go bigger. My friend who won DH40 last year did it on a 33x16. Holy crap that is a big gear. But there is a method to the madness. Sure you will suffer on the hills but its nice to be able to actually put some pedal to the metal when you are on some nice flowy single track. So as a start I put the Rotor Ring on the bike. My old front ring was a 32. This one is a 34. So I went from 32x19 to 34x19. No big deal right? Umm yeah not riding the singlespeed all winter and then having to power up some nasty little climb was a bit like getting kicked in the nuts repeatedly. Didn't help that Aumiller is on form right now. Well he is always on form but clearly has been doing his Blue Hills access road repeats. He was floating up all the hills while I was at heart attack levels in the red zone. I chased him as best as I could. After about a half hour of this we stopped to take a look and to get our bearings and saw a "rabbit". It looked very familiar. Had Das Ice Weasel's handiwork all over it. It was pretty creepy why lie.

We shredded for about 2 hours. Matt sort of knew where he was going as he had been in there before. But I have to say it was pretty easy to follow. We definitely missed some stuff. But what we did find was pretty sweet. Flowy, up and down. Definitely a power riders playground. Some sketch but more of the moto influence. You could see the influence of offroad motorcycles. I sort of pump checked on a drop in. Its been a while since I have come across a gash in a trail like that. Just some drop in chute with boulders scattered about. It was NBD once I got over my mini-freak out. It was a good introduction to Otis. I would definitely go back in Winter or while the trails up here are closed. I think it would be a disaster in the summer. It was pretty overgrown to say the least. Lots of branches and sticks etc. Eyewear was a must. I got "stabbed" in the neck on one drop in by some branch. Luckily I had a high collar on my winter jacket. Full contact to say the least. We did find some pretty hilarious stunts in there as well. Don't even know how its possible that anyone could ride them. But they looked well made. So clearly someone was hucking off them. I also found my Spirit Animal. And out Bodi'd, Bodi. I found a gorgeous Red Hawk feather right as we were heading back to the car. I stopped and put in under my seat. Then as we punched out into a clearing a HUGE hawk swooped down and just hung over us. Aumiller called me a dirty hippy. Yeah its true. I stoked for mtn bike season to be back. Man I have missed it. Oh and the fast guys are telling me I need an even bigger gear. To go faster...ugg.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Size Matters

I don't read a lot of bike media...but when I see something that has "angry" and "singlespeeds" in the title it usually catches my eye. Now I know its cool to think that singlespeeders are angry. I get the whole edgy image thing. It sells to a certain demographic. Well on paper. Sorry cycling will never be skate culture. Or surf culture. Its cycling for god sake. We are geeks. Geeks rarely get angry. Just because you have tattoos and look like a Visigoth does not mean you are angry. In fact most people I know with tattoos and look like Vikings are the most well adjusted people I have ever met in my life.  All the singlespeeders I know are very well adjusted and somewhat mellow. The cyclists I know who are angry tend to have lots and lots of gears. Gears make you angry. Because you can go really hard. And if you aren't going hard some dude on the other side of the tape is going to scream in your ear to go harder and that hurts. And when feelings get hurt people tend to get angry. The myth that singlespeeding is wicked hard and only the truly tough will do it is silly also. Yes 90% of the people who ride singlespeeds that I personally know are really fit and talented riders. But they chose singlespeeding to simplify things not to show off what a badass they are. Ok maybe a few of them do that...ok I have gotten a touch off track. Back to my original point. I read an article recently about a shootout between a 26" bike and a 29" inch bike at a 24 hour race. Here is the linky ANGRYSINGELSPEEDER.

Now I like the concept. But I was a bit surprised. I thought this had been decided long ago. Last time I checked the 26" wheel was dead and buried. Ok not for slalom and downhill. Slalom kicks ass. I wish we had those old school mtn bike races where we all raced the same weekend. But let's say our focus is on cross country style riding. That is the riding most of us do right? And certainly the style of a 24 hour race. Reading the article I was one impressed by the young mans taste in bicycles. And two impressed by his writing and moxy. But as I read the story I was sort of shocked by his test. Yes it was very scientific (not really). He swapped bikes each lap and recorded his time. He gave the predictable arguments for a 26 inch wheel. They accelerate faster (not really), they are more nimble (nope) and he liked how they descended (really?). I know there are still some people who hate change. 29ers are weird. The wheels are so BIG! And the position for a short person can be odd. Sort of like a Mantis waiting to strike ( I like that!) But please. The 29er is better I am sorry. After I could see straight and try and think about his article it hit me.

I did this "test" last year. I raced SinglespeedaPalooza on that hot little number above. Yeah that HUP blue Seven. Its 26" and sexy as hell. It rides great. Changed my whole outlook on mtn biking. But I still sucked at it. This bike was the first modern mtn bike that I rode on the east coast. The east coast is nasty. Really, really nasty. What you think is technical, assuming you don't live here, is not technical. Our "trails" are axe head rocks, dropoffs, roots and stone walls built in the 1700s. Basically the trails want to kill you or inflict serious bodily harm at every turn. But its fun, I swear. So this bike and its 26" wheels and disc brakes was sort of a gateway drug to New England mtn biking. Not perfect. But I didn't die. So a success right? But back to SSPA. So we took all the gears off and ran a tensioner. SSPA is possibly the coolest bike race on the planet. I had a great time and raced well. Then at the end of the summer I raced Darkhorse 40 on the same course but on a 29er singlespeed. And it was about 12 miles longer.

You can't even compare the two races. I rode over my friends bike in the first mile. I was clearing stuff that I fought through on the 26" bike. The bike railed all the technical bits. It was faster, handled better and didn't beat me up. 29er won that shootout hands down. Now why did it win? Mike Zanconato knows how to build a 29er. Its not like you can just throw 29 inch wheels on a bike frame and call it a 29er. Mike knows how to dial in the ride. He personally developed the geometry of the bike. How many framebuilders can say that? How many mass produced bike builders can say that? I can't speak for Mike about why the bike rides so great. To me he is like a wizard. Or Hephaestus. He is a bike building god. There I said it. Now don't get me wrong I liked the article. Not trying to diss the writer. But the 26 inch wheel bike is a dinosaur for the purposes that most mtn bikers utilize it for. End of rant

On to bigger and more pressing matters! The Ronde de Rosey is in a month. Our good friends at Lazer just delivered some awesome prizes for the raffle! We have a sick matte black Genesis helmet, some eyewear and a bunch of great swag. Lazer and Smithers have been huge supporters of the RdR from the beginning and show the #NECX and cross so much love. I can't even wait til April 14th. I am a bit nervous why lie. Roger is on form and riding with the eye of the tiger right now. Abel and DD may be screwed. I may have to leave them at Peets in Wellesley. Or on the side of the road in Lincoln. Rosey won't give me any hints about the route. He just gets a Cheshire cat look on his face and changes the subject. I have some serious work to do between now and then. Need to focus more on the actual riding the bike and less on where to put some good beer stashes. Cutler on the Island is a must right? Ok countdown is on. See you all in a month. Its going to be like a #NECX reunion. Hugs for everyone. Except Jerry. I don't want to freak him out...

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Silly Season

In Game of Thrones they often mutter "WINTER IS COMING" And the old warriors laugh at all the young Crows on the wall who think they know what a winter is like. We have been spoiled the last couple of years in New England. This winter has sunk its teeth into us and is not letting go. A little 3-6 wintery mix turned into 8-12 inches as we all slept. Its gorgeous and magical. Or at least that is what I tell myself. I have been "home" for 8 years. I like the winter. But this is getting silly. People are cracking. Hell, I am cracking. My neighbor was chopping snow off his lawn last week when it was in the 40s. Maybe he knew something. Or is crazy. Last week it looked like we were finally going to get some legit riding in. We had a couple of solid team rides. Strava cocksizing was back in vogue...I bagged a KOM. That in itself should have been a sign that all was not right in the universe.

For the record I am not a strava guy. KOMs are silly in my mind. And as a responsible rider who actually cares about the sport I see the real danger of KOMs. The segment I bagged was one I would call dangerous. Its on a dirt road. Is mostly downhill. There are ruts, potholes and goes by a gun club. A gun club that is pretty busy. Lots of SUVs and pickups. Sensei showed me this beautiful stretch of road about a month ago. I had ridden it a bunch of times leading up to this. I didn't want the KOM for bragging rights. I more wanted to see what my time could be as a gauge of fitness. I don't have a coach. I don't train. I am sure you all find this shocking. What masters racer doesn't have coach? I mean seriously. Its not that the coaches aren't great. Its me. I am uncoachable. My program for 2013 is to do as much fake training as possible. Strava, Sufferfest videos, Epic unsanctioned rides, and singlespeeding. The #CBL is no joke. Living up to low standards takes work.....Dale's Pale Ale only takes you so far as a PED...

My friend DJ Robert is the polar opposite of myself. He is highly competitive. Pretty much the tip of the HUP NE spear during cross season. He utilizes many methods to fuel his performance. We mock him a bit about it. Ok we may heckle him a lot about it. But he seems immune to our comments. But its been a long winter. And I am at the breaking point. Rides and races are stacking up on the horizon like a big day at Mavericks. Singlespeedapalooza is going to be awesome. The Ronde is coming. You can't fake these types of races/rides. Sure you can ride yourself into shape. That works great if you live in a temperate climate. Or the rides/races you hold higher than any other time of year aren't in April. So I took a baby step. I downloaded a Sufferfest video. And I liked it. Don't get me wrong it is horrible. For someone who doesn't train being told to go to 10/10 on the pain scale isn't something that is going to feel good. And these videos take the pain scale and keep ratcheting it up. I hate the trainer but these workout videos actually make the time go by pretty quickly. You get some good euro beats, someone yells at you every 5 minutes or less depending what video you are watching and the video clips of the racing are very inspiring. I have done Fight Club and Hell Hath No Fury. Both are excellent.

The silly season requires some essential tools for survival. The most important is beer. Obviously. The second is lots and lots of layers. It takes me so long to get ready for a ride its ridiculous. But I have a system down. First and most important piece are thermal bib shorts. Amazing. So warm. Then embro. I use a Mad Alchemy warm. It has the right balance of heat for me. I put it on my legs and my back. Nothing feels better than embro on the small of your back. Then I go with vicks for my chest and neck. Some like to put vicks below their nose but that is too much for me. Then pull on wool socks and thermal leg warmers. I am not a fan of tights. I rode all winter with thermal bibs and thermal leg warmers. I find tights too restrictive.

Wool socks are the key in my mind. Then regular shoes and shoe covers. This year I have used gore and they have been great. With that combo my feet have never been cold. Next is a Craft base layer. Long sleeve with a high collar. Then I usually just put a short sleeve jersey on. My HUP winter jacket goes next and is by far the warmest jacket I have ever owned. I bought a pair of Giro gloves at Broadway this year and they have been great. For 60 bucks you get a waterproof outer and a liner. The liner has been good for all but the coldest of days. Most of the time when I have worn both gloves it has been too warm. I have a bunch of winter caps. The Vermarc one is great, the pearl lycra one is great also. Wool caps are sweet. I have become a big fan of neck warmers. You can fashion your own from an old hat. Just cut the top off and voila. Or you can buy one. I have a great one that Matt and Mo brought me from Europe. If you can rock the look a nice scarf is also a good option. Finish it off with eye protection. Even if its not snowing or rainy you need eyewear in the winter. I really have trouble with my eyes if I ride without protection in the winter

The next part of "surviving" the Silly Season is all the plotting and scheming. So many rides and races get cooked up. Our schedule is getting packed. Frankly I get more excited about the Spring races and rides than any other time of year. And with these races comes the prep for them. The Wilcox built me some great "classics" wheels. HED rims, White hubs, Conti tires. I will say I love them. They aren't light. Obviously. But man they smooth out the road. They are wider rims so they make the contact patch of the tire wider. I noticed the difference immediately. I have also been plotting and scheming for sspalooza. I may have put some bizarre bio-pace Rotor Ring on my Zank. Rumor has it I will be able to smash my opponents with the power and efficiency of this Ninja star of death...we shall see. It may be a total disaster. But that is why its the silly season. You are so warped by cabin fever that you start grasping for anything to keep you from going totally nuts. Its still snowing. Any hope of riding in the woods is likely over for the near future. More fender rides. More taking an hour to get ready. More silliness than my addled brain can likely handle...