Got the news yesterday that Lone Wolf Cycling was closing shop. It was kind of a gut punch I won't lie. LWC to me was always like the Ex-Presidents from Point Break. For them it truly was never about the money. They stood for something. They proved every ride that the human spirit is still alive. Yes that is paraphrased from Bodhi's speech about the system. The system that kills the human spirit. Cycling at its core to me is about that. I know it certainly doesn't live up to that. But it is a nice thing to strive for. I have always been drawn to these type of people and these ideals. When I first got into cycling out in Norcal it was this type of crew I joined. The LWC crew reminded me so much of those early days in SF. Very similar to the Swobo crew. Very different approach obviously. Philly and SF (well the guys who founded it were from Marin. Hey Tupac was from Marin...) could not be more different. But the things Swobo was so good at the LWC took to 11. Build a rad community. Be about the ride more than the selling of your soul and constant riding the wave of some new "fad" Have the best worst ideas. You get the idea.
Lone Wolf brought a lot of people together. I guess they were the flame and we like moths were drawn to it. I still don't 100% know how I ended up friends with these dudes. I blame AnonCX and Jed a bit. They were the ones who introduced me to them at the Philly Bike Show years ago. I was "working" and trying to promote a new brand. The second Ryan took me over to the LWC booth it was pretty much all over. They had me at Wu Tang Clan basically. My love of Philly and LWC blew up after that trip. I grew up near Boston. If you live within an hour from Boston you always say you are from Boston. Deal with it. Boston has that type of effect on people. If you like hockey in Boston you grew up HATING Philly. Ok if you are a Boston sports fan you hate lots of places but you get my drift. I was born to not like people from Philly. But oddly, I really love Philly and people from Philly. Bizarre.
|Sully by Matt Lolli|
After that fateful trip to the Philly Bike Show things starting escalating. The Philly Show is rad by the way. If you ever have a chance to go do yourself a favor and go. The City is fantastic. And the show is really one of the coolest bike shows I have ever been to. The Show is a great mix of bike industry, bike culture and art. I am not new to bike culture or singlespeeds. My past life out in Norcal was full immersion into both. But moving home to the Boston 'burbs I sort of lost touch with a lot of that. The LWC was all in with both. Again it was like getting into the Hot Tub Time Machine and going back to South Park circa 1994. The original Swobo gang was really just a couple of dudes preaching a lifestyle. And lots of people drank that koolaid. Because bikes are rad. And up until that point the main focus of bikes was racing. And road racing. Road racing culture is horrible. Sorry not sorry. Especially at that point when it was some dying fixation with all things euro and specifically Italian. No thanks. There was a reason I stopped riding as a kid and surfed, windsurfed and did things that were cool. Cycling was NOT cool. At all.
I stayed in touch with the Philly crew mainly through my friend Ryan. And like a Zombie virus that LWC crew and vibe started spreading. Philly was the hot spot. LWC was patient zero. People started popping up on my radar. Yes it had a bit of a Fight Club aspect to it. Shoogs, Quags, Utah. So many new cool friends. I am not cool. But cool people wanted to hang with me. Again bizarre. And as a marketing director of a new bike brand I saw this as a huge opportunity. So I mixed work and play in a blender and made a smoothie forged in Hell. Man we had a good run. I went all in. When I heard SSCXWC was going to be in Philly I started planning. We built special bikes. We packed a van with bikes and people and headed south. Matt Lolli and I created Sully. We had a horrible idea that we should bring SSCXWC to Boston. OMG that seems even more insane now as I type this. Thank god a blizzard stopped this best worst idea from ever happening.
We get down to Philly and scatter across the City like a SSCX strike force. I stay with my good friend Ryan. SSCXWC13 is incredible. The Feats of Strength are beyond anything I really have ever participated in. Philly is a remarkable cycling city. Lots of great paths. Drivers don't seem hell bent on murder. A great trail system about 30 minutes away. We rode all day. Got drunk. Almost got in a bar fight with Adam Craig over a Lion of Flanders flag. That was Yarnell's fault not mine. I just happened to be in faux Belgian fan boy kit. We ended up at the Liberty Bell as the sun was going down and my cell phone battery was dying. And I had no lights. And I had no idea where I was. I somehow found my way back to one of the host bike shops and miraculously bumped into my friend Ryan. The next day was Worlds.
If you weren't at Philly Worlds I don't even know what to say. As I waited at registration with Abel a large man dropped a Ronald Reagan mask at my feet. And said "Lose something Brah..." Haha god damnit I love this crew. We really are like a Wolf Pack. And I owe the LWC for showing us just how to do it right. Kevin had taken a train down from Boston to get to Worlds. He had walked from the train station in a snow storm. I asked him where he was staying. He said he'd figure it out. I told him to not wander off and that he was staying with me at Ryan's. And that kicked off one of the craziest bike race experiences in my life. We raced our hearts out as the snow kept coming down. We witnessed one of the greatest days of racing SSCX ever. Then we feared a bit for our lives. Apparently people in Philly don't know how to drive in snow storms. And Philly clearly does not know how to deal with a Blizzard. Which is really weird. Luckily I had an AWD van with Blizzak snow tires and Ryan had a Subaru. We carved through a sea of overturned SUVs to the safety of his condo.
We sat in his condo eating humus and going onto the dark web to create cyber-warfare against all the others trying to secure the rights to the next SSCXWC. We weren't at the after party to play poker for the rights to host. Which is an odd way to determine who hosts Worlds but frankly thank god we weren't there. The only place worse than Boston to host a SSCX Worlds would be...ok no where actually. No where would be worse. So the sun set on that idea. But bonds were formed that weekend that would last for a lifetime. The next 4 years we spent so much time riding, scheming, and coming up with new ways to make mayhem.
MA Field OPS may have led to me being fired from my job at said brand. Totally worth it. In spades. The crew that came up to do a double adventure ride weekend in MA was so rad. Our recon mission for the ride was probably one of the top ten days on a bike. We all became Trail Wizards that day. And I think I introduced my good friend Michele to a side of the dirt bag life that she hadn't seen before. The bond between the LWC crew and our crew wasn't always seamless. At Providence one year some of the NECX were a tad freaked out by the dude in the Pizza costume drinking on the line of the SSCX race. Frankly, the tension made me love this whole match made in Hell even more. And it pushed me to make the SSCX series we have so much better. Those trips the LWC crew made up here helped us grow our SSCX community.
I will forever be thankful to that crew for being such good friends, supporters and instigators. They really inspired a ton of people to Kill Yourself to Live. Their bumper stickers weren't just catchy marketing phrases. They were Zen Koans. Oh and they also introduced me to Dave's Killer Bread. So in closing, Happy Trails my friends. May your handups always be cold, may the high fives sting, and may you always have pizza watts. Peace out boys.