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.