Monday, September 12, 2016

The Quest for The Vest

Johnny Utah had this crazy idea to add a leader's jersey to the series this year. I wasn't so sure about it. And then he told me it should be a cut off denim vest. My first image was of Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister. My roommate in college Rat Dog (actual nickname) was a HUGE '80s metal fan. He introduced me to so much good metal at RISD. I was even at a young age a classic rock guy. The Doors, Hendrix, Led Zep, CCR. I was a product of my parents. I even went to Morrison's grave in Paris when I was an exchange student. But Rat Dog took me to Judas Priest, Twisted Sister. He introduced me to the joys of airbrushing denim jackets. I know, I know that seems like waisting your time at one of the best art schools in the nation but those are life skills man!

But I digress. Utah got two denim vests. Pretty sure he found them at Salvation Army. He held his Feats of Strength the week prior to the season opener at Quad CX. One of the Feats was sneaking up on my house ninja style and saran wrapping my manvan. That in itself is some kind of SSCX wizardry. I was literally in the garage bay with the door closed setting up my brand new Zank SSCX called Jager. I bow down to them. The whole idea was to put the fun back into SSCX. Our series has always been fun but we want to really kick it up a notch. Make it more bandit. But still racing. So the denim leaders vest was born. Jesse and Christine won the vests. The rules of the vest are simple:

Winners don the vest on the podium. Winners take the vest home for the week. Winners are asked to add some flair to it. Patches, pins, leopard print fabric. Really anything. Make it fun. Don't deface it obviously. Respect the vest. Leader must bring the vest to the next Zank SSCX race. If you can't make it please contact us and we will arrange pick up. At the end of the season the two overall winners of the series will win the vest and keep it!

I was surprised at how hyped people were getting about the vest and the kick off of the season. When I saw 42 pre-reg'd riders in the SSCX category at Quad I was blown away. That is next level. I thank all of you for making this so rad. On Thursday before Quad I went out to Zank's to pick up my new team bike! I named it Jager. Jager is German for Hunter. It is also the name of a rad robot who smashes alien monsters in the movie Pacific Rim. And of course the bike is sort of the color of a bottle of Jaegermeister. It just fit. Mike built up his new bike later that evening. We both had one ride on our new bikes before the race. It is truly a testament to Mike's ability to build a bike that I literally didn't have to do anything to the bike. One of the cool new things I stumbled upon on my phone is an app for Bike Gears. It lets you geek out on gear choice without knowing how to do actual math. And if there is one thing single speeders geek out on it is gearing. If you only have one gear you pretty much want to be happy with it. Well as King of the Apples would say you actually have three gears in SSCX-sitting, standing and running.

Quad was like a SSCX reunion. Quad is the season opener for the #NECX. After a winter and summer of not seeing anyone we all get together and its like we never missed a beat. Sure we see each other once and a while at mtn bike races or gravel rides but we aren't all in one spot in a rad tent city hanging out. It was so great seeing so many people. And it was beyond rad seeing Pete and Janet of Mad Alchemy and their family! Pete and Janet moved away from the #NECX for a for years. They were always a part of us even when they were in Colorado but they are the best. It is so awesome having them back home! Ted and his crew do such a fantastic job at Quad. It is held at a Gun Club so it just has a great vibe to it. It is one of my favorite races. Full jungle cross course. Hard as hell. Challenging sand pits and wood sections. A great gravel road false flat. One of my favorite courses. And I love the tent city and the lodge. How many races can you get a burger and a gin and tonic and take it to your tent and watch the race happen right in front of you? Yeah, Quad rules. 

Mad Alchemy made us some sick Koozies for this year! They are designed with the same art that Stevil did for our hoodies and t-shirts last year. They are super cool. If you want one hit me with $5 to my paypal at or find us at the races. Our next race is at White Park in NH. And then we will be at Sucker Brook the following day. The NH double is not to be missed. Kevin from the Chainline Pain Train also made us some custom crocheted Koozies. Those are going to be some secret squirrel prizes for the next couple of weekends. Maybe it will be for anyone who races SSCX in the geared race. Or worst mechanical. We will come up with some cool ideas for them.

One of the coolest parts of Quad is also all the families that come out. HUP has become one big family. Not just in the metaphorical sense but literal sense. A bunch of us have kids of varying ages. And its so nice when we can bring them to a race. Now if you told your spouse you were taking your kids to a gun club to race bikes and they didn't know about cross or Quad they might call DSS and have you arrested. But this race really is one of the most family friendly venues around. Zank brought his whole family. And Dr Zank raced! Rebecca smashed it. It was so rad seeing her out there racing. Her kids were so cool cheering her on from the top of a hay bail.

As always the Zip Tie Fairy, aka Lesli Cohen brings it to all the Zank SSCX races. Her game was at mid-season form at Quad. She honestly is the soul of the series. Everyone does a ton for the series and the community but Lesli just always is so positive and brings so much energy to the races even when I know she has had so much going on. I love that women. And it makes me so stoked that she loves the series so much. Speaking of zip ties. Of the 42 people lined up I counted 4 zip tied bikes. You know my opinion. I welcome all to our table. No bike or no set up is better or more valid than any other. That is what this series was built on and that is what we always will push forward. Its the racer that matters not the bike setup. As long as you can't shift you are cool with us. But that means the other 38 people had dedicated bikes. That is amazing.

The race itself was so rad. I won't lie I was actually nervous. 42 is a big crowd for a SSCX race. And there was a lot of nervous energy. People were AMPED. As was I. In the start grid I leaned forward and asked Leslie Lupien from Green Line Velo if she liked denim vests. She sort of laughed. I had a feeling she was going to win the women's race. Not sure why but I could tell. The gun went off and we took off in a cloud of dust. I literally could not see a thing for the first half a lap. I took on so much dust I couldn't even swallow. That was less than ideal but the course was so rad I forgot about that. As the dust settled, literally and figuratively I found myself locked in between Leslie and Mellisa Lefluer battling for the women's podium. Now I certainly did not want get in their way so I was paying more attention than usual to a) not screw up and crash one of them out b) not embarrass myself hitting a tree in front of them and c) keep Zank from catching me!

Zank was hot on my heels. I think he would have caught me if he didn't face plant on the barriers. The barriers at Quad are legendary for feasting on bikers. It is a faceplant waiting to happen. They are on a slight uphill. And the transition is odd as you come screaming down a sand chute and then do a 180 on sand and then have about 100 feet to get your act together, dismount and run over them. I clipped a foot on the first lap on them. But Zank's crash looked and sounded bad. I had just remounted at the top of the runup and heard what sound like a baseball bat. I look and Zank is crumpled over his bike and the barrier. Not to worry Zank is tough as nails and was back up and on it. Much respect to that man. We duked it out for the next two laps. That was probably the most fun I have had racing in a long time. And that is what CX is all about. Racing with friends. Battling. Having fun!

The season is just getting started. I hope I see a ton of you at White Park and Sucker Brook next weekend. Who will be in the vest at White Park???

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