This post is long overdue and could be named lots of other titles. "With a Little Help From My Friends" would be appropriate. "Don't Freak Out" would have fit. But Staycation really captures the essence. This post as stated earlier is loooong overdue. Contrary to perception the #CBL is more Daddy Day Care than Point Break. I know I channel Bodhi as much as I can. But I am a 53 year old man taking care of two teenage daughters. Now everything I learned from Road House, Ghost, Dirty Dancing, Red Dawn and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar have prepared me to be a stay at home dad. Without all of those movies and those characters I would just be some sad sack of an old guy trying to figure this whole thing out. But I am pretty good at my job. Being good at my job means sometimes things I would have liked to do can't happen. Racing seems impossible these days. And as much as I love gravel adventure rides I am sort of like a short range fighter escort these days. I am not fast, or have endurance but can chug along prettily happily for 2-4 hours in the woods.
So I apologize to those who I may frustrate with my schedule. Trust me. I WISH I could go to KT or camp out at D2R2. But I can't be that far from home. I just can't. And being solo dad means you have to sort of rethink a lot of things. I have a ZERO tolerance policy for ending up in the ER. In the old days I took pride in how many trips to the ER I would take. I mean I had a legit frequent flyer card. But at some point and at some age you have to say "hey people count on me. I can't take a sick day.."
But the revelation I had was to ride with the people who I really enjoy riding with. And this past month I have traveled more on a bike than I could without these friends. I have said it a million times. I am so lucky to have my friends. They are truly special. And I have so many of them. And they all are so rad. This past month the bike took me to places I have never been. And helped me spend time with friends I have really missed. We did a great ride from Great Brook to Billerica. I am not going to go into details because once a rad MTB area gets popular it gets ruined fast. If you know you know. If you don't know and you are motivated I guess do the work and find it. You won't be disappointed. That MTB ride was one for the books. Rides like that at the time go from being wow this is soooo rad to WTF is going on here? But part of being a biker is Not. Freaking. Out. I learned this lesson from Surfing and Yoga. Yeah I know I am a dirty hippie. But it has served me so well as I have aged and gotten out of shape. Things happen on a ride. You feel like crap. You are scared. You are lost. You are out of water. Don't Freak Out. Breathe. It will all be ok
After the Billerica ride I met up with my great friend Gewilli to do a redo of the RI Red Rooster Ronde. G is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Love that man. He is a beast of a man but is also the kindest person I know. Very thoughtful. We had such a rad ride. That route he has is legit. You think you want gravel? Uh huh. Go check the RRRR route. It is bonkers. It throws everything at you. Sand dunes, real gravel, sick fresh cut single track. Met at a cafe and ended at a cafe. Perfect.
I finally went out and rocked my new RISD kit on home trails and found that certain kit afford you a certain level of respect from cars. It was bizarre. I can't even explain what happened that day. I rode through Dover in a pouring rain and cars gave me a legit 3 feet. And were patient. And no one got frustrated. Had to be the kit. It has magical powers. I may have totally failed as an art student but that kit did not fail me that day.
The piece de resistance was Thea's bday ride. I don't even know how to capture this one in words. Thea and Kevin are two really great friends and teammates of mine. Again, I can't put into words what those two mean to me, my team and the community. They are simply two of the most positive people I have ever met. Together they are like a force of nature. When I got the invite to join Thea for a bday ride I was so stoked. I had never ridden on the North Shore. Sure I have raced Gloucester a million times. And that is rad. And I have raced Willowdale. But really I have never ridden there. We met in Beverly and rolled out. It was one of those rides were you were instantly blown away. You would hit a sector and be like OMG this is the nicest section I have ever ridden. And then you would get to the next sector. Rinse and repeat the whole ride. It was like being in VT without the 4 hour drive and elevation.
I think the funniest part of this ride was how we had to just live of the land. To me that is what makes a ride great. It is cool to have everything go your way on a ride. Plenty of water, no mechanicals, blah blah blah. But that is boring don't you think? I like when the shit hits the fan. That is when you see a persons true colors. Do they panic? Do they get mad? Do they toss their bike into the woods when it breaks? My friends do not do any of those things. What was so cool about this ride was just how it was so in synch. I mean I was suffering. It was hot. And really humid. And I am old. I forget sometimes. My friends are in general half my age. That is no excuse. Again I am happy with where I am. I love that I get to raise two strong daughters and support my BALLER executive wife. It truly is an honor to do so. I don't know why the heat and humidity have been affecting me so much this summer. But my teammates took such great care of me on this ride. When a much stronger rider hangs back and just shadows you, you notice it. A bunch of my friends on this ride did that. And it meant the world.
The water stops we found on the way were really one of the funny highlights. Like I said the riding we did was probably the best riding I have ever done in the greater Boston area. Hands down. Nothing even comes close. Beautiful canal trails, buffed single track, legit mtb stuff, nature areas and gorgeous roads. Maybe in VT I have ridden stuff like this. But not 45 minutes from my house. Our first stop was a nice CNG. Great stop. Second stop was a gas station. Why do gas station attendants hate cyclists? I mean they were not happy. But screw it. The cold cokes were amazing. Then we basically occupied some Christian Schools student center. That Holy Water brought me back to full strength. We had some pretty epic mechanicals but again no one lost their head and we made it home all together and basically all in one piece. Here is to rides like this. You do not have to spend $200 and drive 4 hours to find adventure. It is right out your front door if you are willing to look for it.