Monday, July 13, 2015

Don't Call it a Comeback

The title refers to a lot of things going on here today on this here blog. The photo below pictures Dr Sharon Sloan on the line fist bumping her friend and fellow racer. Sharon if you don't know was almost killed by an inattentive driver. I guess technically she was killed or died twice. Thanks to modern medicine she survived. But man she has had a long road back. She is a good friend and one of my heroes. She is so positive and 100% stoked all the time to ride and race bikes. Boloco is lucky to have her flying their kit at races and in general. Can't think of a better teammate, ambassador or friend to be honest. I won't lie she inspires me to race. And just to be a more positive person in general. 

The photo above is of Mark Budreski and Brian McInnis. You can tell from that photo that it was hot. And Mark was thinking when he brought that ice bucket. The HUP Death Star was strategically placed right next to the feed zone. Mark came through after two laps looking blown out. I asked how he was doing. He could barely get the words water to form. I filled that bucket with all the ice water in our coolers and put a fresh bottle in his stand for the next lap. Racing in 90 degree heat on mountain bikes is no joke. After last weeks #watergate at Gnar Weasels every one got the message and came prepared. 

Mountain bike racing on the east coast is seeing a bit of a resurgence. A comeback is the wrong word. The diehards never stopped racing mountain bikes. I am sure there are lots of reasons mountain biking is seeing more and more racers this summer. I can list a bunch off the top of my head. But two of the people responsible are Pete MacLeod and Marty Allen. They made Boston Rebellion happen. It honestly felt like a mountain bike version of Gloucester. Two days of legit racing. Great competition. Great venue. Sierra Nevada beer garden, taco trucks, Bubba Burgers grilling, Polar Springs, hard fencing, inflatables, Red Bull. Even Richard Fries was there! Hahaha. As we were staging I see Richard working the start grid. I say "Richard, what are you doing here?" He tells me he has a booth for Providence. Then he says, " I hear its really fast could you race it on a cross bike?" I literally laugh out loud. Umm dude its a mountain bike race. Its fast on a mountain bike. Mountain biking is not cross. Its a close cousin I guess. But two different beasts as I have found out to my utter enjoyment this summer.

Let's take a second to talk about that. I am on a cyclocross racing team with a mountain bike problem as my co-DS Michele Smith tweeted out after Sunday's historic day. Yes we can call what happened this weekend historic. Pete and Marty pulled off something that deserves all our recognition. They held a two day UCI/USAC race 30 minutes from Boston. This event has the potential to grow into something HUGE. Even if it stayed exactly as it is it would be a triumph. They brought big crowds, had top name racers, built an amazing venue out of nothing. Before Pete started putting on races at Adams Farm no one really rode mountain bikes there. Now it is a gem of a place for all of us in the Boston area to ride. But back to my original point. Mountain biking is not cyclocross. It is its own thing. And this is wonderful. Cross racers are certainly racing mountain bikes but they are on mountain bikes. And if there is one thing I am learning this summer is the fast races beat you up way more than the gnarly races. I was fine on my hardtail 29er at Gnar Weasels. I suffered like a bastard on it at Barn Burner. All the turns and roots just beat your back to bits. Not making excuses. Its just faster and saves your body a beating to race on a FS bike. Plenty of fast people race on hardtails. But thinking you can race a fast mountain bike course on a CX bike is crazy talk.

I owe so many of my rad friends for getting me into mountain bike racing. I have dabbled a bit since being home on the east coast. But it is a very different style of riding. Its finally clicking. I still freak out at gnar and rock gardens. I was freaking out all week about a dry stream bed. Then saw a video of Colt riding it and was like "THAT'S HOW YOU DO IT!" During the race I rode it every time with zero issue. That section was the least of my problems. Speed (and lack of speed) was my problem. I had a great start as they say. Locked in around 10th wheel. Pacelining through rock gardens is umm interesting. We made it through the tight wood bridge and first rock garden. Then we went full throttle up the fireroad and into a downhill rock garden. I have ridden this like a bazzillion times. Maybe more. Never had an issue. I of course have never done this on ten guys wheels at race pace. It was going great. Until it wasn't. Someone dabbed or slowed and next thing I know I am supermanning through the air. Thankfully I flew so far that I landed outside the rock garden! Now that is PRO. I had to run back into the rock garden and fray to pull my bike out. Then had to go back in to get my water bottle.

At this point 20 very angry 50 year old men were staring at me and telling me to get my shit together. Well I am using poetic license actually. Shockingly no one yelled, punched or screamed at me. Try that in a cyclocross race! Hopped back on my rotated saddle and got back in the game. Yes my saddle was now at say 3 o'clock. No way I was stopping to fix it. So I rode a lap with a saddle doing horrible things to my backside. I get back to the pit and straighten it out and grab a bottle and head back out for lap 2! At this point I feel pretty good. Bike is shockingly not destroyed. Other than some dirt on my kit I am fine. So I start trying to go full throttle to impress all of my super fans. I am going to say something crazy. I think I like mountain bike racing more than CX. I know, I know. Typical full auto velocb falling in love with the newest shiny object. But it is hard. CX is hard sure but mountain biking requires so much to be good as a racer. I suck. There I said it. I basically killed myself for DFL. But it was a blast. And each lap you just look for something to figure out. I got caught by 4 of the top Sport Women. One of them rode the entire last lap with me. Or we rode it together. Frankly if she hadn't been there I would have either ridden into a tree or died of heat exhaustion. I was falling apart. And having someone pushing the pace helped me stay on my bike.

HUP once again had a fantastic turnout. Michele is right. We are a cyclocross team with a mountain bike problem. Michele smashed the sport race to pieces. It was so good seeing teammates, friends and competitors having such a rad time. The suffer meter was on high for sure but the course was so fun it made it worth it. I feel a series of My Drunk Bike Reviews coming up. Please send size 15.5 FS XC race bikes to the HUP SSC. I swear I have sick reach, or pull or clout. I have at least 4 loyal readers of this blog! Your bike will be ridden hard and probably destroyed but think of the possibilities! HUGE thanks to Pete, Marty, all the staff and volunteers. The town of Walpole for being so open to mountain bike racing! Can't wait to do this again!

No comments:

Post a Comment