|Nothing more metal than two hospital bracelets by CB|
Ok there is a bit of a backlog in the old bloggity blog world of the #CBL. We have blown right past UnHoly Week and CX Fever and we have to make some decisions. The people have spoken and today we tell the tale of the #1 Support Person in the history of the Zank SSCX. The title of this post was going to be The Heavy Metal God of SSCX. I mean look at the photos. Which by the way are all by Katie Busick and courtesy of Minuteman Road Club. How many races offer all the races PRO photos for free download after the race? Not many I think. Not to get off track but MRC puts on one hell of a bike race. Two free beer tickets with your entry, the before mentioned free photos, team tent spots, rad course, free parking...I mean what more could you ask for? So it has been unseasonably warm in New England this Fall. Thanks climate doubters and hurricane after hurricane for bringing this tropical heat wave to the bastion of Fall. Summerfall is a term I do not want to get used to. Thank you very much.
But back to the task at hand. I know my five loyal readers are very familiar with Mike Wissell. They need no introduction to this great man and what he is all about. But for the one person who may have found this blog by googling "mud" or "CX" or "NECX" or maybe hit surprise me on google and came across this hot mess I will do my best to introduce you to my good friend. Mike is one of the toughest guys I know. Lives for brutal mountain bike stage races. Gives back to his own team, B2C2, on a level most racers can't even imagine. Supports other racers on rival teams like they are his own teammates. Has been hosting Larz World's, a weds am CX training race, for as long as I can remember. How he finds the energy to do all he does is beyond me. But as I said before he is also one of the nicest guys on the planet. Stands up for what matters, has a moral compass. All the things you want in a friend. He dabbled in SSCX before. And by dabbled I mean would show up to a few of the Zank SSCX races and destroy everyone who happened to be racing that day.
This past summer we met at a great coffee shop to to talk about SS Mtn biking. I do have a fondness for all things single speed. At the time we were talking mtb. But he said he thought he would focus entirely on SSCX for the 2017 CX season. I obviously thought that was a great idea! But didn't really focus too much on it at the time. As CX season rolled around I got some very excited and exciting emails from Mike. He was in fact racing the SSCX series! And his enthusiasm for his frankenbike project got me all fired up. It kept morphing. Dropper post/drop bar CX enduro bike. Flat bars no dropper. It was the ultimate frankedbike. And what I LOVE about Mike is he would email me and ask "is it cool if I ride this freak show of a bike?" I was like dude that bike is rad!!! Honestly what I love about CX and 29er MTBs is they are basically the same bike. Especially when you are talking CX and 29er Hardtail. The wheels are interchangeable. The bikes are basically the same. It makes for some real fun set up Rubik's cube hacks.
One of the things Mike brings to the series other than his talent and racing ability is how much he cares about the race and all the racers. We all say we care but how much do we? How much do we give back? He cares a lot. Always checking in with everyone. Says hi to all the racers. And this season he started high giving racers after he finished. He wins most races. He is that fast. Not to say there aren't a lot of really strong racers chasing him. His mere presence has upped the competition in a way that I never imagined. But his waiting at the line high fiving everyone as they come in? That is being an ambassador on a whole other level. People love Mike's finish line high fives. I mean what is cooler than after turning yourself inside out for 45 minutes you see a smiling Mike at the finish and he high fives you? Awesome
Minuteman Road Club puts on a great race. I look forward to it every year. The Zank SSCX is a points race. The leaders denim vest is a highly coveted item. Once you wear it you do not want to lose it. Mike and his wife Caitlin were expecting a baby this CX season. To say we were happy for them was an understatement. But babies have their own ideas when they want to arrive. My two daughters clearly had their own ideas. One was premature by six weeks (that was exciting!) and one refused to come out. To this day they seem to have embraced this personality trait. Mike told me the baby was a bit late in its due date. The night before a double Zank SSCX weekend I got a text from Mike. They were heading to the hospital. He arranged the vest to be delivered to MRC. The points race was close. Bradford won Mansfield and with Mike gone it made the series a tie race. I had assumed Brad would be donning the vest at MRC. Mike was happy for Brad. We all were. Brad is like Mike one of those guys who do so much for our community.
As I was waiting in the reg tent for my number I see a pale rider coming towards me in the distance. Dear god it is Mike. The baby was born the night before at 1 am. Caitlin's parents arrived at the hospital that am and told Mike to go race. That is a family who loves and supports each other. And he had arrived at his SSCX family to celebrate not just SSCX but his new baby with us. I almost cried not gonna lie. But there is no crying in SSCX. We all lined up and had one of the best races of the season. Perfect conditions. A greasy, muddy SSCX slip and slide. Mike won. Mike got on that podium and put his vest back on. One of the most amazing days in the #NECX in my opinion. Little Milo has one rad dad. And one hell of a family. That little god of thunder should be proud of his dad. I know I am.