Thursday, October 6, 2016

Nacht Van Weasel

Shane on the top step photo by Katie Busick

This post may be a bit of a hot mess. I apologize in advance. Basically I have "retired" from bike racing, bike race promoting and the bike industry about a million times. But its like the mafia. You can retire but they keep bringing you back. Well in the mafia there really is only one way to retire. And its permanent. I would rather be funemployed  as they say. And honestly as hard as promoting races and bike racing can be it has to be fun. I have always sort of celebrated and struggled with the idea that my only friends are bike racers. If I actually retire would I have friends. I am sure I would but I would miss so many people. Its ok to be slow and getting older. I can deal with that. What I can't deal with is not seeing my friends. They are like a second family. Always have been. P-Bob once told me that. About 30 years ago. CX is a family. And it truly is.

Alex doing some course destruction by Jon Nable
 Night Weasels is on its seventh edition. I don't even know how this is possible. It has flown by. Night Weasels has endured a lot of challenges. Bog Weasels was probably the toughest one. I am shocked we kept going after that. But to my early point. Night Weasels is a family. Ski Ward, our host, is a family run business. They are amazing. They work so hard on the event and are always so stoked to see us and seem to enjoy the race almost as much as we do. Its awesome. Honestly it is what keeps me so stoked to put the race on each year. So this is a post about friends and family. I hope it isn't too over the top.

Bandit SS by Jon Nable
I will just say it. This Night Weasels was the best ever. We had one bummer over the course of the evening but it is bike racing and these things happen. Frankly, how we responded to that incident made me even more proud to be a part of this Night Weasels family than I already am. Like I said we have been putting on this crazy night CX race at Ski Ward for seven years. Colin, Sara and I are a really funny team. I maybe didn't notice it until this year but we really compliment each other so well.  So it in a way is "easy" Bike race promoting is never easy. It is way harder than racing or working to be honest. Its like hosting a huge keg party for all your best friends. You don't know who will show up and you don't know if you have enough beer or red solo cups. You stress about whether you picked the right music and hope no one gets in a fight. We have a whole legion of other supporters that maybe most people don't even "see" but who we could never do this without. Ryan Kelly is on the top of that list. Frankly I don't think we could do it without him. He is so critical. JD is another one. I don't even know how he does it. 400+ racers go by with folded numbers in a night race. How do you even score that? But he always sorts it out.

Pie Plates are for the cool kids by Doug Kwan
Michele and her "NO" t-shirt always keep things dialed at registration. The whole crew at Ski Ward is amazing. I have worked on World Cups and big events like the Sea Otter and I have to say the people at Ski Ward work harder than any other host I have ever worked with. They help us build the course, they open up the lodge and have worked with us to build a beer garden and offer food bike racers love. Its awesome. I can't think of a lot of CX races that have a heated lodge with a beer garden right on the course. It is pretty special I will just say that. And we really have gotten to know them well. Its like a family reunion in a way when we roll into Ski Ward each year. 

Joanna Wang by Chris McIntosh

Each year is different of course. I keep coming back to help with Night Weasels because I want to support my friends and help grow grassroots cyclocross. If you know me that is my white whale. I support the highest level of CX and am stoked to see Hyde and Noble et al crushing it. But I love seeing the grassroots grow and flourish. Honestly I have so many highlights from this year but I think the one that stands out the most is Joanna Wang. I walked the course with her and my good friend Guthrie. Guthrie gets me going. His pure stoke on bikes is infectious. We walked the course and talked a bit about it. I had never met Joanna. She is a friend of a friend so she is a friend. Then she crushed it. And waited sooo long for the podium. All the other ladies for the Cat 4 podium had gone home. I get it. It was cold. The temp had dropped about 20 degrees. But Joanna was a champion. She stuck around for her podium. Ryan and I were so amped. I am pretty sure I owe her a pie. We will make it happen.

Dragon Breath by Chris McIntosh
 The biggest changes this year were the death of Holy Week and a new title sponsor! We have never had a title sponsor. We have always worked with friends and relied on those we really believe in. We do this as a labor of love. We have never been in this for anything other than throwing a rad CX party for our friends. But a partnership arose and it happened to be with friends I have known and trusted for a long time. Verge is synonymous with New England Cyclocross. They have been a part of this scene forever. I reached out to them and they were so into it. They have been the best sponsor ever. The podium jerseys are off the charts. People were so stoked to win them.

Podium Pie by Chris McIntosh
 Speaking of winning jerseys. I rolled up to the race a tad early for me. The #CBL can get kinda hectic. I am basically a stay-at-home dad. Why lie. I have been a stay-at-home dad for 16 years. Its nuts. Best job I have ever had. But it is my job. And I treat it as such. But the kids have gotten older so I have some flexibility. The first thing I hear is there is a French kid here who wants to pre-ride. I mean its like 1:00 PM. Cat 5s don't even show up that early. We sort of joke at his expense. "Is he Quebecois?" Mais, NON he is zee FRENCH. God we are such ugly Americans. He gets his laps in and we build the course and get things set up. And then I forget about it.

Resultsboy by Chris Macintosh

I am way too occupied being FULL Podium Boy at this point. I sort of suffer from ADD. I probably should have gone into the trades. I need constant supervision and stimuli to stay out of trouble. Bike Race Promoting is actually very good for me. I run around setting up podiums, prize bags, etc. We decide to do some fun primes. And as I am up on the hill judging the first stair prime I get a text from Michele. It is a picture of a pie plate. Hahaha. #occupynightweasels is now in full effect. Four hearty, dedicated aka crazy single speeders have decided to #makesinglespeedgreatagain and go Full Crusty Cruiser Cup on us. I of course support this 100%. What is the Crusty Cruiser Cup? The CCC was basically the first SS race series. The Zank SSCX Series is inspired by the CCC. The CCC was a race series within a series. They didn't have a dedicated SS category in Norcal in the late '80s early '90s. People showed up on single speeds. They raced. Then they did their own little weird podiums and kept points. It was beyond awesome. It is how I got into riding mountain bikes and single speeds.

Odin's Spear about to smash by Chris McIntosh

Mike Wissell has embraced our weird band of misfits with open arms. I am not sure this is a smart life choice on his part but I never flinch in face of genius. He raced Midnight on a hybrid. Ok that is Thom talking. He is racing a BALLER 29er SS. I like to call it Odin's Spear. He won Midnight CX. He smashed the top ten of the f'n ELITE race at Night Weasels on a 36 x 15. I can't even fathom that. I love that Mike is smashing it. We had three other rad riders racing SS. Kevin Church, Tyler Knapp and Matt Myette.

French kid doesn't play by Chris McIntosh
 The evening of racing was so exciting. The women's elite race was won by Kate Lysakowski. The men's race was won by, wait for it..... the French Kid. I mean he literally destroyed all the local riders. I am not sure if Lindine were here that he would have beaten the French Kid. People better be watching this kid at Gloucester cause he looks like a kid but he is not playing. They just make them faster in Euro-land. Maybe its in the water. Who knows. But it was so cool once again having a French speaker on the podium at Night Weasels. This is a new Weasels LLC rule. There has to be a French speaker on the podium. If it is not the Luna crew or a Canadian it better be an actual French rider.

Elite women podium by Chris McIntosh
We could not do this without the HUGE support of our sponsors: Verge, Mad Alchemy, Scratch Labs, Landry's, Shimano, Mighty Leaf Tea, Jakes, Pedro's, Drink Maple and of course our host Ski Ward. The amazing volunteers, the Pedal Power Team, JD, Ryan Kelly (ISMYHERO) and all of you bike racers that come out on a Weds night and make CX amazing. Thank you all. You ALL rock! I know I can't stop talking about podium pie but seriously. Podium pie.

Podium Pie was a huge hit by Chris Macintosh

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