There really is only one way to write a blog post titled "Captain Underpants" and that is drunk. But it is 3 pm and I am on dad duty. So I am drinking Chamomile Tea. With Honey. HST is rolling in his grave somewhere. I will do my best even under these sub-standard conditions to relate the Legend of Captain Underpants. The OG Captain Underpants was always a fan fave of my kids when they were young. Who doesn't love a giant baby superhero in underpants who fights crime. I mean come on. That is way better than Ant Man. Or Hawkeye. Certainly better than Aquaman. I mean get Aquaman out of water and it is all frickin over. But onto our very own Captain Underpants.
Johnny Utah is a man of mystery. You never know what he is gonna come up with. He started texting me missives about foot down contests and all other manner of shenanigans leading up to Midnight Ride of CX. Midnight is a fantastic race. It was the opener for Holy Week. #RIPHOLYWEEK. Even with Holy Week dead and buried Midnight is on its own a fantastic evening of CX in the #NECX. Who doesn't love a mid-week race under the lights? It is probably one of the best tailgaters of the entire season. So it is always special no matter what. I sort of ignored Utah's texts as I know there is so little time at Midnight for anything but the races. I felt a little bad as I always like to encourage any and all antics when it comes to SSCX.
A mid-week night race is always a challenge. Everyone is rushing out of work or school. Racing at 5 pm is stressful. But I got there around 3 pm and set up shop next to the Chainline Pain Train. I bumped into Utah right before getting called over to staging for the SSCX race. He kept mentioning this "amazing" costume he had to show me. And something about "it is going to be epic. Like a 50 year storm...you will NOT want to miss it brahhhh" I gave him a big hug and headed over to the start grid. I honestly had no idea what he was up to but knew it would be something fun. Midnight always has a big field of singlespeeders. The start of this race genuinely scares me. You go from 0 to 25-30 in a blink of an eye. It is a straight start on pavement that turns into gravel and a chicane of death. There have been some pretty bad crashes. This year to mitigate that they avoided the right hand turn onto gravel and had us basically funnel straight into the grass and make a wide left turn. On your own or in a small group this was all totally manageable. In a pack of maniacs going 30 mph it had some serious mayhem.
I survived the initial surge and got to the grass intact. Made the first turn. I heard braking and the tell tale sounds of bikers going from 25 to 10 to 0 mph and got excited thinking I could take advantage of this crashing and scrum and put a gap in between them. Well in my over excite mode I failed to factor in all the fast guys I was around with way better skills than I have. I ended up going right through the tape in the next corner and basically t-boning my friend Myette. This is not what you are supposed to do when people say ride "tape to tape" Although, frankly my course destruction made the course way better. That corner shouldn't have been there. See I am a giver. So I avoid killing Myette and myself. Which is shocking. Then Rosey sneaks under me in the next turn and I smash into some other dude. It is getting very Talladega Nights very fast. I somehow pull it back together but to say I am off my game is an understatement.
The new course layout is fantastic. I am not so great at fast, turny grass courses but there are so many elements of this course that are just so awesome. I try my best to bridge up to some friends but all the turns and wood chips make it so tough to make up those seconds. That is truly one of the beautiful things about CX. It is all these little mistakes or great moves that add up to either moving forward or going in reverse. I was pretty much going in reverse. But about mid-way through the race I see Utah on the side of the course. It is not unusual to see a friend off the course in CX. But he is doing something. What is it? And of course I snap out of this and go back to the task at hand which is trying desperately to suck less than I am currently in technicolor. I come around again and I see what Utah was up to! He is in his underpants. Tight blue underpants. And a buff. And helmet. That is it. I almost fall off my bike laughing. Now this isn't my first time racing men in underpants but it can be awkward. You never want to have a man in tighty whiteys in front of you. You can't unsee that. So I say screw cross results points and series points and beating frenemies. MY ONLY GOAL IS NOT TO BE PASSED BY CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. Now for full disclosure Captain Underpants is way faster than me. And fitter. I mean just look at the photos? Jesus.
So I have to dig deep into my tool box and use some quasi dirty tricks to stay ahead of him. Honestly its not Utah I am running scared from. It is the 6 guys that are glued to his wheel coming for me. I somehow get to the final paved straight and get in before being reeled in by Utah. It was hilarious to say the least. Team Zank rules. And Utah brings it to everyone of these Zank SSCX races. Other than Agent Utah's performance the highlight of the race was at the front of the race. Midnight brings out some talent. And we had some really fast people in the SSCX race. Bob Stine was running away with it but being closely matched by Mike Wissell and Pete Smith. At the last barriers Bob's chain fell off. Mike and Pete were able to slip around him and go in for 1 and 2. But Shawn Mottram caught a running Stine on the pavement. Instead of doing what 99% of every other bike racer would do and blow by Bob and take the 3rd spot on the podium Shawn pulled up and started pushing Bob into the finish. The classiest move I think I have ever seen in a race. Shawn pushed him all the way to the finish line then launched him to the last step on the podium. Pure 100% sportsmanship. That is why SSCX is so great. Especially here in the #NECX. Shawn I salute you my friend.
Ok so that was the race report. Onto the other aspect of the race. Shenanigans are a very important part of CX. As is tailgating. After 11 years of this you would think it would be obvious to me but it dawned on me Weds night that CX is just an excuse to tailgate with my friends. I am damn lucky. My friends kick ass. Michele kept looking for me at the end of the race. This isn't unusual. Lots of business happens at the races. But she had sort of a devilish look in her eye. When you are named Chip, Chip jokes just tell themselves. And of course at Midnight we had Chip timing. Jimbo created a precedent a few years back at Dirty 40 of picking me up at the Chip Pickup. I was probably a tad lighter back then. And Jimbo is a strong dude. So when Michele told me her plan to put me in the "Chip Return" I thought oh christ we are definitely going to get hurt. It was really just a matter of who was going to end up in the er. Michele when her back gave out or me when she pile drived me into the chip return.
Michele is very strong. I mean obviously. Her first attempt at lifting me was shockingly effortless. We enlisted Shane to be our camera guy. I love Shane. The whole Shenny project frankly is one of my favorite new aspects of HUP. Shane and Jenny are so rad. And I LOVE Shane. But art direction may not be his forte. I mean I spent five years at one of the finest art schools in America. Granted most of that was spent trying to sneak into Brown frat parties and working at Geoff's superlative sandwiches and taking life drawing classes. So as Michele is picking me up for the tenth time and I am doing my best Bill from Bill and Ted's excellent adventure I notice Shane is holding the phone horizontally. We make a quick adjustment and boom. Pure cameraphone magic. The Chip Pick Up tradition invades CX. Midnight Ride of CX was a HUGE success. Epic as Captain Underpants would say. I don't think it was the 50 Year Storm. Like Maverick's you have to be ready. It will happen this season I can feel it.