Thursday, May 31, 2018

100+ Ghosts

This could have been named Enter the Ronde (36 Chambers) or #Getlost. But no one got lost this year. That I heard anyway. The Ronde de Rosey gave birth to gravel riding in the NECX. Literally. No hyperbole. The Ronde de Rosey was created in reaction to some typical NECX drama around a certain dirt road race that maybe got too big for its own good. I did say drama-filled race. I mean what road race isn't filled with drama? I was a lowly Cat 5 masters racer. Road racing meant jack shit to me. But when my new besties invited me to "race" on dirt roads in upper state NY and mentioned we had a BALLER farm house that was going to be our HQ I jumped on that. I was a young baby master and scrappy. Hell I had been home for just over a year and had a lot of Norcal swagger. Lots of mistakes were made during that race. But my love of adventure riding certainly was sparked that day. So when shit went to that dark, dark place with said race promoter and Rosey decided to offer a free alternative I was all in. We cracked a few eggs that first year. It was pretty misunderstood. And the whole concept of adventure/CX riding was really new. Rosey, Utah and I used tape, spray cans and others methods to mark a route. Still racers raced and half the riders got lost, blew up, destroyed themselves or their bikes. We quickly realized calling the RdR a race was a super bad idea. Racers have zero chill. HUP won that first edition FYI. But sure we maybe had a performance advantage. 

So now we are at RdR v 9.0. Is it the longest bandit CX ride in the NECX? Who knows. It certainly is the most legendary. Not everyone gets it. Its ok. You don't have to get it. We don't do this to be popular or for everyone. We do this for the community. We do it for people who want to push themselves to the limit. And maybe at that limit you get a choice. Do you make a personal or selfless choice and cut it short for your team? or do you push on and crack your whole squad. Like my yoga teacher tells me over and over again. I offer suggestions. What you chose to do is your choice. This year we opened it up a bit. Can you call it a bandit ride if you have insurance? Thank you EFTA. Can it be a bandit ride if it is on Bikereg? And you have a limited edition kit designed by a legend in the NECX? Hmmm maybe. I am always shocked when people reactive adversely to something that is bandit. What part of bandit confused you? Bandits will bandit after all. I personally celebrate the bandit in all of us. The wild nature. Go ahead kid, jump that no trespassing fence. Poach that No Bikes trail. But still be respectful. Be a good trail steward. Not sure why people think somehow living the bandit lifestyle doesn't mean you don't live by a moral code. Personally I don't trust rule followers. Show me a rule follower who doesn't have a dark side. I dare you.

So here we go. Year Nine. Rosey and I have always riffed this thing in a way I really haven't worked with anyone before. Sure we always pull in other key friends. Many trail wizards work on this here adventure ride. It is a collective. Honestly we do this to really show off what amazing trails are out there. And lately I have been smelling what a certain trail wizard from the southern kingdoms has been cooking. The route was one that definitely was going to push people. CXenduro for sure. But lots of road recovery. If you are from these parts you know what a shit Spring we had. One day it was 70. The next it was 40 and pissing rain. We rode the entire route the week before the ride. It was 100% good to go. Of course it rained epically the three days leading up to it. And of course rained for the morning of the ride. I worried about some of the trails. But I knew where we were riding was ok. Some trails drain. Some don't. Some recover easily. Some don't. Yes we rode some wet trails. And guess what? They were all fine a week after we rode them. Not fake news.

We rolled out from the Washington Square Tavern in a pissing rain. Having done this for 8 of 9 years I was pretty excited. And nervous. The Ronde is a Gentleman's Ride. Gentleman's Rules apply. What are Gentleman's Rules? I am glad you asked. Teams start together and finish together. You are tasked with supporting your whole squad. You are only as fast as your slowest rider. If you ride your team into the ground you lose. If you piss your teamies off you lose. Have fun. Be nice. Don't be a dick on the trails or roads. We stopped and talked to dog walkers. One of the funniest moments was when we were riding along the Charles River. It had flooded it's banks. A hiker implored us to turn back. He was actually impressed we made it this far. We rode THROUGH the Charles. To the other sandy bank. My friend who shall remain anonymouse curated an insane route. We met him at the Ride HQ. He had fresh legs. I was now afraid. Guthrie and he play off each other like Pippin and MJ. They went off at a leg shredding pace. When my new to me teamie asked me what time lunch was and another told me her feet were frozen stumps I suspected we may have a "problem" So I made an executive decision. We pulled the plug on the shorty version. Remember my earlier comment about riding your own Ronde? Yeah I mean that. Riding your own Ronde means hey if your teammates are cracking maybe get them home happy and early and eating burgers before they are in the fetal position on the side of the trail. Or maybe choosing to not ride a trail that seems too muddy. Or maybe not riding 3 across on a narrow road in Sudbury. Just a suggestion. What you do is up to you.

So as much as I hated to we left two of our teammates to smash while we beelined back to the Tavern on the road. Honestly I like shepherding groups like this. It is bonding. We had a great ride back to the bike path in Needham. As we headed to the townline I was having lots of feels. I knew my wife and kids had set up a bandit aid station on the bike path right before NTF. I mean I love my fam. They are all in with my crazy lifestyle. They get it. 175 bikers are rolling through the path at 1 pm? We are ON it! And they weren't playing. They saved so many souls. I owe them big time. But my fear was I would see them and be like yeah fuck this shit. The hot tub and a Dale's are calling me. Yeah I have a hot tub. But I guess Kharma or whatnot was in my favor and I missed them by probably ten minutes. The stories my friends told me about seeing that rest stop like it was some kind of Oasis filled me with such love. It was so rad. My wife crushed it. This isn't her first rodeo. But still. Not sure how many executive spouses would take the time out of their weekend to support 175 lost souls. She had everything. Pickles, snickers, gummy bears, GF snacks. She crushed it.

Our crew made it back to the Tavern and we met up with Ryan Kelly and Adam St. Germain and their crew. It was awesome. We flew back into Washington Square. Nothing and I mean nothing tastes better than that burger and beer at the Tavern after the Ronde. We hung out at the bar and waited for everyone to finish. Each team would come in and share so many rad stories. Hugs and high fives were exchanged. And then the raffle started and the usual mayhem ensued. HUGE props to Rosey and Gerry. They are the real drivers behind this. They always bring so much energy to this event. We raised 4K for Bikes not Bombs. And another 1k to local trails organizations in the area.

I am not sure what next year will hold. It will be the 10th edition. I suspect something very special will be on tap. Maybe a Ronde de Rosey CXenduro stage race? Feats of Strength? Choose your own adventure? Stay tuned and stay thirsty my friends. To the first real CXenduro event that spawned all of them in the NECX I salute you. SO proud to have been a small cog in this machine. 

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