Friday, June 30, 2017

Mr Mom

Now I know the five OG readers of this here weblog need no explanation of Mr Mom. Solid movie. Some of Mr Keaton's best work. Certainly better than Batman. So yeah I am a Mr Mom. Fuck you. Oops. Too far? Too soon? Probably. Pardon et moi. Mea culpa. Or My cup of tea or what have you. Am I angry? Nah. I am literally living the dream. I love my job. Best job I have ever had and by some people's measure I have had some dream jobs. My one regret is that that I never worked for Bill Strickland on Bicycling. It was complicated. I was out west when the Bicycling Santa Cruz office was open. It was like east coast vs west coast rap at the time and I didn't even know it. I have always been an easy going zero drama guy. But I digress. Santa Cruz. Or Sequel. Lost. I didn't even know how cool Emmaus was until years later when I went down for a Rapha G Ride. It is sort of like Game of Thrones. I wish I had sided with the Starks. But who doesn't? Right?

Do I look like a HOUSEWIFE? 

So here I am a budding writer/editor bike industry rat living in SF. I have some amazing experiences. I end up editor of a a local regional called California Bicyclist. Ok full stop let's talk about how that happened. I went to Art School. Moved to SF with my soulmate. She had aspirations of being a lawyer. I loved her so much I could forgive the lawyer thing. So we drive cross country in a Jeep. My red Jeep. All our possessions are in it. I think we had a microwave (?) a small TV and three grand. My dad and her brothers may have given us $500. One of her brothers worked at Coke and gave us a lifetime supply of McDonald's gift certs. We ate pretty much all our meals at McDs. So we roll into SF with cash and a jeep. We almost broke up in CO. Who knows why. CO is weird. Not really a fan. Sorry. But weird shit happens to me and my baby when we get a Mile High. Pam lands a job at a law firm as a paralegal. Did I mention I went to fucking art school? Yeah thanks Vince Frickin Van Gogh. Great frickin life plan. I love Marine Biology. Loved the sciences. Grandad was a surgeon. Was in the Battle of the Bulge. Mom was a nurse. Could have been a PT. Nurse. EMT. You name it. Nope Art School. #YOLO. Hashtags did not exist when I went to college. YOLO did though. It was called live fast, die young. I honestly thought I would be dead by 30. But that is another story. My wife saved me. Period.

Ok so we land in SF. I have odd skills. Like finding us a backup plan when our housing falls through. Boston connections come through. We stay in Monterey for a bit then end up in Pac Heights in a sweet apartment. Long before the Dot Com boom screwed everyone. I mean we paid $1,000 for a sick one bedroom in Pac Heights. That is hilarious right now. Our "date nights" were usually Johnny Rockets and a rented video. We had zero money. I worked odd jobs. Art Gallery. Bartender. Prep cook in a sweet breakfast place. I would work non-stop. And just leave crumpled cash on the dresser and then pass out. Pam and I would meet on the top of her law firm in downtown SF for lunch from Snookies Cookies. I would pick it up. Five bucks got you a sweet turkey sandwich and a cookie. Then the Loma Pieta Earthquake happened. And change EVERYTHING. I got hurt. I had PTSD. It changed the trajectory of my life. My wife was my rock. I got into publishing. I had worked in publishing before. I started in the art department of the before mention bike rag. I worked my way to the top. How? Out. Last. The. Bastards. Ok they weren't bastards. They were mentors actually. But I can outlast anyone. Smile and wave.

So I become editor. In fucking Chief. There is much crying and hair pulling and shit thrown around but guess what I am actually good at it. My ADD is a gift as an editor in chief. I can see beyond corners and multi-task like fuck. But of course publishing is dying. Sick. Such great timing. The rag folds. I go into corporate publishing. I land a job in PDX before PDX was PDX. It is good. My wife once again is my rock. My wife and I live an amazing life. She is my hero. I was raised by strong women. I dated a strong woman. I married a strong woman. She was a feminist long before it was cool to be a feminist. She has battled for every measure of success she has achieved. She and I are a tribe. I was raised to be loyal. She has always made me a better person. I am, or was, a highly superstitious person. I blame the Irish. And my small dose of First Nation Canadian blood that runs through my veins. My wife is 100% Irish. Her Grandparents were FOB. That tradition runs through her blood and I love it.

So when her brother had his first child and we flew to Atlanta and held that baby in our arms it was all over. Literally. Its cool if you don't want kids. I get it. But I am a certain man. I look into my bloodlines eyes and I get ideas. I am so glad my wife and I had those early years by ourselves to figure out who we were. So few couples get that. It brought us closer together and made us better suited for what was to come. So not long after that trip to Hotlanta "we" get pregnant. Haha. I say we. But come on bro. You are a supporter. The shit my wife went through was epic. The strongest person I have ever met. So we have Zoe. 9/5/2000. Best day of my life other than when I married my soulmate. So yeah. We left the east coast for lots of reasons. Boston is great. But it has a dark passenger. And its not high rent and the lack of avocado toast. She and I escaped. It was too much. I don't need to educate you on what it was like being raised in the NE in the 70s & 80s. Google it. But it makes you strong if it doesn't break you. And it makes you loyal to a fault.

So we are out in Norcal. First child. No family. A few friends that don't get us because we are like the Adams Family. I am in publishing making short money. My baby is punching through the glass ceiling like a BALLER and I am like ok I make X, Daycare is X. We can pay a super nice lady to care for our kid or I can do it. No brainer. I punch that clock. It was not planned. At. All. But I become Mr. Mom. Frankly it is all a blur. Zoe is super colicky. Cries seemingly non-stop until she is two. Things settle down. Mommy and Me classes. Park trip constantly. I pal around with one of Pam's friends Nannies. Yeah I am basically a Manny. But as much as Pam is skyrocketing to C-Suite executive she is beyond supportive. No male executive would give their female counterpart this type of support. I still ride bikes. She lets me race. I back off as I know I am it. I can't get hurt as I am the thin line that is holding this family together. We have so many amazing experiences. Then we want a tiny soda. A Pam Jr. And things get tough. Again, what Pam shows me in those dark times are the things that bond people together forever. Four years later Tiny Soda makes it down from Heaven.

And then we get the call. Move back to Boston. Pam is a ninja. She can see round corners and figure long term things out that no one can. She makes it happen. The OBGYN freaks. NO WAY YOU CAN MOVE. Um dude. Boston. I hear they have rad Drs there. And we move home with the luck of the Irish. And have Tiny Soda in Longwood as the Redsox win the World Series. And I commit to being that Mr. Mom in Boston. Oddly Boston is more accepting than Norcal of this gender role swap. Ok, my relatives from Rozzie say some insane shit. Our first Easter home my Uncle calls me a "Housewife" and all the women at the table almost give him a legit Rozzie curbing in the kitchen. Not today motherfucker. I laugh. Honestly with women in my life like this I don't need to throw one punch. And I am blessed. Boston is way more open to a stay at home dad. Sure I get some shit from dickheads at the dog park. And oddly those who should know better have called me a housewife like its an insult. First being a stay at home parent of any gender is a blessing. Second shaming someone for sacrificing everything for their family is BS. A younger Chip would literally fight dudes who called me that. But I have bigger fights like raising my kids as wolves. And supporting modern day feminists. I am so lucky. This crazy journey has taught me so much. And to all the #SAHDS out there you keep rocking out my brothers. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Lion of Burlington

The Lion of Burlington is an annual HUP tradition. It is equal parts BBQ/gathering and equal parts shake off the cobwebs and get ready for CX season "training" ride. Most of HUP heard their CX alarm clock go off on June 1st and did not hit the snooze button. HUP is a CX racing team with an adventure ride/mtb racing habit. Michele and Ed have been hosting the LoB for some time now. Each year I emphatically say it is the "BEST ONE EVER" And each year it is true. Michele and Ed outdo themselves every year. They are such great hosts and put on a great ride to get everyone hungry for all the grillables. Michele Smith is the co-DS of HUP NECX. She is a Level 20 Trail Wizard. And the driving force behind HUP United in the NECX. She really has made the team what it is right now. And what the team is right now is something really special.

HUP has been around for about 10 years. It began as a kind of "anti-" team. By "anti-" team I mean a team that was not about sponsorships, free stuff, infighting and a me first generally bad attitude. It was about friends piling into small vehicles loaded with bikes and racing CX. HUP has outlived so many clubs and teams. And done more to grow the sport than a lot of those disbanded teams ever did. HUP has always been about the grassroots and growing from the bottom up, instead of the top down. Don't get me wrong we have some very fast people on HUP. Some very dedicated and skilled riders. And a lot of people who work really hard all year around giving back to the sport. I think what makes me most proud is seeing how close we all are and how respectful and supportive we all are of each other. I mean we all like each other. Even after ten years! That is a pretty huge accomplishment for a bike team. Trust me.

One of the early principles of HUP was this concept of "One HUP Finds Another" It really is the best way to grow. Lion of Burlington gives us a chance to all get together in a low stress atmosphere and reconnect. Racing is always hectic. We love to have the Death Star at CX races and have a great time at the races. But racing is racing. Hard to not have nerves before and to be fairly cracked after. Rides like LoB let us hang out pretty much all day. We stop and take photos. Laugh about some crash or weird thing we saw at the last section. Just have fun. Like I said, HUP has been around a while. And we have teammates all over New England. So it is good to have events where we all can descend upon someones house and have a great HQ for a big ride. The ride itself is a true mixed terrain ride. We ride through a Mall! We ride through a model airplane landing area. We ride some great trails. And we ride through a parking garage. We also ride by something that can only be described as a Scottish Hooters. Are people's lives really this empty that they want to go to a Scottish Hooters? The parking lot was suspiciously empty. Thank god.

We rolled out around noon in a parade style rollout. I would say maybe 25 of us? Maybe 30. At one of the first trail sectors we split up into Fast, moderate and fun groups. I ended up sweeping the moderate group. I ended up riding with Todd R, Chris F, Kevin, Thea, Chris, Mike Golay, Jeremy and my friend Guthrie. We really were a perfect group. Everyone was on the same page as far as speed and mindset of the ride. Very little attacking or going after KOMs. Thank god because no way I could write any checks like that at this point. The group had the entire spectrum of bikes and setups. Kevin was on a BALLER Santa Cruz CX bike and was rocking 47 slicks. We called them "hint of filetreads". On the other side of the pendulum we had Mike on his HT 27.5 XC race bike. I would say 99% of us were on some type of disco CX bike. My favorite parts of these rides is when you sort of session things. The group would come up to some obstacle or drop off or something and a few people would scope it out and then we would just have fun and try and ride it. The things Kevin was able to ride on big slick balloon tires was pretty impressive to say the least!

The saving throw of the day was when we were rolling along Redcoat Lane and we saw a Garmin on the ground. GARMIN down!!! We returned it to Chris and were rewarded with first dibs on the good beer when we returned to the BBQ. Not that there was any lack of good beer at the BBQ! You know its a magic cooler when you go home with more good beer in your cooler than you arrived with! I am going to need to schedule a ride just to get people to my house to help me drink all this beer!

Our ride really was uneventful which is a victory in my mind. One flat. One issue with #rareplants. But all in all zero problems. Just a blast on the bike. Can't even wait for the next ride/BBQ. Thinking it will need to involve some swimming hole somewhere. Plotting and scheming as I type this here blog post. HUGE thanks to Michele and Ed our Alpha-HUP and master hosts! When Ed goes tactical on the grill everyone is happy! HUGE thanks to all the HUP who came out to play and hang out. HUGE thanks to Zac Daab our founder and top supporter. He has always supported us. And continues to do so on a level that means so much to us. Michele and I are so grateful to ZD for all he does for us and the team.