Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Waffle Cross

The Original Waffle Cross was created by Andy Huff and hosted by Wheelworks. 2009/2010 was a pretty special time in the #NECX. There were a lot of rad people pushing the envelope of what you could do on a CX bike. We all rode our CX bikes in the woods. But the whole idea of doing organized mixed terrain rides in New England really began that year with the inception of the Ronde de Rosey and Waffle Cross. There were a lot of reasons these rides became popular and a lot of inspirations. Three Peaks, Grasshopper Adventure Series...yes the Rapha G Rides. They all inspired a bunch of cross fanatics to make some real magic happen. Andy is one of the coolest people I know. Always smiling and always in a good mood. It is infectious to say the least. At some point Waffle Cross became an annual Thanksgiving Day ride. Mike Wissell took the flame and made it into a nice tradition. Now my idea of nice and yours may vary. I missed the freezing rain year so all my Waffle Cross memories are quite fond.

Having family in Maine I typically am out of town for Turkey Day. But this year the Heavy Metal Gods of CX smiled upon me and I was home. The odds became even more in my favor as the weather forecast was PERFECT! Sunny and cold. Just what you want in New England for football, turkey and yes riding the bikes! I turned the #hype meter to eleven and started plotting and scheming with Mike. I did a nice recon to make sure the route was on brand. Had Michele give it her trail wizard seal of approval and voila. Waffle Cross was in full effect. I honestly didn't know who would show up. I figured maybe 6 of us. But I would have been stoked with a small group of friends riding in the woods together. My phone rang at 7:15 am that morning. It was my good friend Chris. He was already in the parking lot. I kicked it into gear and jammed it to the rendezvous point. As I turn into the lot I see a whole crew milling about and drinking coffee and eating donuts. OK full disclosure. There were NO waffles on this Waffle Cross. But donuts are just as good right?

We do what bikers do and ride circles around each other in the parking lot until we are sure everyone who is making it is present and accounted for. We have about 17 riders. Mr Waffle Cross himself is here! My friend agent Utah rolls in. So many rad people. We head out into Cutler. And I won't lie I was a tad nervous. It had rained the entire day before. Cutler is a swamp. Why mince words. It is a nice swamp. But a swamp. But maybe because the ground was a bit frozen there weren't a lot of mud puddles and really zero flooding.

We work our way through Cutler with very little incident. We almost lose a few riders off a wood bridge but no one sustains any hit points of damage. We get out to the pump track and the shenanigans begin. Pocket beers emerge. Jumps are taken. Somehow no one crashes or destroys their bikes. There are so many fanny packs on the ride we should call it a fanny pack ride. Fanny packs are cool in case you didn't know. I have fanny pack envy.

We pop out onto our first road section and start talking about Ronde's past. One of the craziest crashes I have ever witnessed was on one of those early Rondes. Mike Wissell's team was flying down south street that year. One of his teammates hit a chunky section and they rubbed wheels and Mike was down. I saw him cartwheel and then hit a telephone pole and then go through a small sign post. I honestly thought well that is the end of this year's Ronde. The force of his impact knocked a street sign off the post. It is very possible Mike is built from Adamantium. It really is the only explanation. So Mike was bloody and bleeding. But got right back on his bike and took off to rejoin his team. He rode another 60 miles in that condition. Have I mentioned mixed terrain riding is fun?

I guess our idea of "fun" may seem warped at times but it is always worth it. I take them through a fun roller in NTF. Then we pop out onto the new bike path. This ride is kind of a "best of" of my daily rides. I don't ride Cutler much anymore because of the non-stop highway project that is going on down on 95. I am sure it will be "worth" it eventually. But right now it is an absolute cluster fuck. I show the crew my secret CX training grounds. Assuming I ever were to train for CX....in reality it is a super nice little open space hidden away from the hustle and bustle of South Street.

The rest of the ride is just a hilarious march of mostly mountain bike trails. If we had more time I can tell people would want to session some of the sectors we rode through. CXenduro is the future people. Trust me. Fanny packs + Flannel + Enduro sectors = Winning. I find myself at the front of a pace line going much faster than I would normally ride. I tend to find that sweet spot of 10 mph. 20 mph into a headwind is not really my safe space. But the conversations and new faces are helping me forget just what horrible shape I am in. It is like riding a bike right? You always remember and can fake it at least for a short period of time. We all get back to our cars and finish off the last of the donuts and coffee. High fives and hugs are exchanged. Waffle Cross is such a great tradition. And reminds me what I love most about the NECX and bikes. Thanks Mike and Andy for making such a rad ride possible.

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