Sunday, June 30, 2019

Reset and Reload

I think I stole that from Claude Julian. Or Laird Hamilton. Not sure which. But I have been preaching that to the girls I coach for lacrosse for the past two years. Reset. Reload. Something bad happens. Reset. You make a mistake? Reset. Come to the sideline and reload with your teammates. Put the toxic stuff in a box. For a minute. For an hour. For a week. I do know Laird was a big fan of using a vacation as a mini-camp. Dude I am old AF. I need a reset every day just to keep moving forward. Yoga. Meditation. CBDs. Walking the dog. At some point your life becomes way more chill. Most people who don't know me think I am chill. I am the least chill person I know. I just hide it well. What I do know is I am damn lucky. And my family time is sacred. The Cape is one of those places that just heal me. I have been going there since I was a little kid. In my youth it was all about the Ocean. And shenanigans. Jesus I think back to some of the stuff we did as a kid and I am like how did I live to be this old?

Bikes saved me. Simple fact. Not sure what it is about it. Maybe the community. Or the space it creates for you. When I am on the bike everything just washes away. It is one of those unique things that require an odd focus. It is zen like in so many ways. This year has been brutal. So much going on. This vacation more than any of the past years was a reset. Not like I had a plan. Some of it is the new Stigmata. I am way past bikes having souls. But there is something about this bike. It has taken me a while to get used to it. But now? It is like a second skin. I can drift into it and lose myself after about three to four pedal strokes. This is the first time I have been able to ride it on the Cape. And I have to say I am more in love with this bike now than ever.

For those unfamiliar with the "Cape" It is where this whole party started. Yes the Vikings were here first (on the east coast) Columbus did his thing (south of FLA) but the Pilgrims. Yeah those crazy bastards made this work. Landed in Provincetown. Not Plimouth Rock as the myth goes. God the Bay must have seemed like a godsend after the open ocean. The Cape is some kind of magical place. Not unlike the Redwoods in Norcal. It just has a smell and a vibe. The Forest is soulful. And feeds the soul. Nickerson State Park to me is Valhalla. I have been riding in there for more than a decade. On CX bikes, MTB bikes all of it. But this year on Stiggy it all came together. It is the ultimate over/under bike spot. A MTB is way overbiking. A OG CX bike is underbiking. A modern carbon CX bike with disc brakes and tubeless 40s? hahaha. Sweet spot man.

I rode a bunch. I luckily hooked up with my good friend Finn and his buddy John and got the locals tour. I kept getting lost and finding all the cool shit. I would stop on every ride and just smell the pine and touch the soil. I HATE rocks. And roots. It sucks. I guess if that is what you are into cool. I am not. Life is hard enough. I want my forest bathes to sooth my soul. I did have one rather exciting moment. I don't often flat (especially in this age of tubeless) but when I do I do it big time. I was flying down a sick dirt road. I hear what sounds like a gun go off. Ok. I stop. Rear tire is FUBAR'd. I literally laugh. Ok. Luckily I have friends who love me. And as much as I am a hamfist with very little mechanical ability my friends have always coached me on what to pack. In my saddle bag was a tire boot and duct tape (Thanks Michele) and a small tube (Thanks Scott!) Multiple CO2 chargers. I had this. I double booted that bad boy and rode like Baryshnikov the rest of the way home.

I tried to replicate my ride with the locals one day and it ended a bit lost and found-ish. But I am a Gemini with ADD. I live to get lost amigo. When I get lost that is when the fun begins. I think we all are a bit too obsessed with knowing where we are. I mean you are where are you are even if you don't know where you are. You aren't lost until you can't find your way home. I think I learned this surfing and being on the ocean. The ocean teaches you not to panic. You panic when your surfboard breaks in half in double over head waves you die. You panic when you snap your mast in half on your sailboard when it is blowing 25 knots offshore? You die. Well maybe not die. But shit will get real fast. And maybe then you die. So yeah bikes? Meh. Destroying one of your fave tires off the gridish? Improvise. Figure it out. Again. With a little help from my friends I was back riding in no time. And once again feeling so lucky for this biker life.

If you live near the Cape. Get down and ride. The roads maybe aren't my jam. The rail trail and all the great stuff off of it are life changing. Especially Nickerson. It has been my dream to do a CX camp in there. Get some friends and a few camp sites. Ride and hang for 3 days. It would be sick. Speaking of friends. So yeah my rear tire was done and dusted. And I of course brought zero back up. The Cape is all about tourists and bikes on the path. Tubeless CX tires are like a magic unicorn. But Sea Sports Cyclery had me covered. I drove up and scored a sweet Tracer tire and Stan's sealant. I prayed the tape on my rims would hold for one more set up. It did. I love setting up tubeless tires. If it  is the most rewarding thing you can do for a bike.

The new tire was a nice surprise. I assumed it would be horrible but was actually really nice. At this point beggars can't be choosers anyway. The other revelation from my vacation was visiting a new yoga studio. My wife completes me. I know that sounds weird. But she makes me a better person. Everyday. And yoga is one of the things she has gotten me into. The first time I tried Yoga it was in Danville, CA. Pretty sure Christy Turlington  went to the same studio. It was super chill. Non-heated. Yoga. Hippie style. When we moved home I resisted for a while and then started going to "hot" yoga with my wife. I mean it is "hot" in India. It makes sense to do yoga in a sauna right? Hahaha. My experience with hot yoga is sort of like how I race CX. Go in hot, wreck myself, curse life, battle back, take no prisoners, outlast the bastards. So when I finally joined my wife for yoga on the Cape I literally had to empty my cup. Check myself. 100%. Yoga is an opportunity. You think you know yourself but do you? We all hold so much baggage. This studio was unlike any I had been in before. Not heated. Average age? 68? But damn. Those yogis could lay it down. So impressed.

The takeaway? This obsession with youth is madness. Yes. We all get old. If we are lucky. Slow down. Smell the flowers. Surf the earth. Reset and reload. You have all the tools you need. I am on the other side of mid-way to a century. How did that happen? Luck. I never thought I would get past 30. What does the next half of my century have in store? No idea. But I am wide open. I know what is important. It is the simple things. Pulling off the beaten path and finding some loamy pine covered single track that leads to a pond. We are lucky to have this biker life. I am blessed to be a part of this beautiful family. Peace my friends.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Laatste Ronde

"This was never about the money, this was about us against the system. The system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. We are here to show the guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human spirit is still alive." -Bodhi 

That quote has been my mantra for the better part of decade. Honestly, that is how I have lived my entire life without even realizing it. When I first leaped into the bike industry way back in another lifetime most of the people I rode with and hung out with were rebels, non-conformists, dirtbags, trouble basically. I learned everything from them. When we decided to do the first Ronde de Rosey it was a reaction to the "system" and that system was a certain HUGE road race in NY that shall remain nameless. We had had enough of being taken advantage of and having to pay what at the time seemed like a King's ransom to "race" some of the nicest dirt roads in NY....So we decided screw the system. We aren't giving the people who are destroying the sport our hard earned money anymore. And we will do our own cool bandit version and make it better.

At the time no one was doing what we were about to do. It was pre-GPS, pre-Strava. And it was glorious. Were we the first ones to seek and enjoy the trails around these parts on CX bikes? Of course not. But we were the first ones to go all in. And to create a ride around the premise that you don't have to drive four hours from home and pay $100 to do a cool ride. Now don't get me wrong. Things have changed dramatically in ten years. There are so many legit gravel rides that are worth every penny you pay to register. I am happy to drive to VT and hand over my hard earned money to Rasputitsa or Peter Vollers or any number of gravel race promoters. The value proposition works with gravel. And they all get it. They treat the riders like kings and queens. And they all give back to the community. In the unmentioned road race you were lucky if you got scored correctly. And god forbid you flatted. No one was helping I saying we ushered in a gravel revolution in New England? Maybe. The Ronde was never meant to be a race. It was meant to be an adventure with cool people. And meant to be a catalyst to grow a community and support a great cause in Bikes not Bombs. The first Ronde was just a bunch of rival CX teams smashing through the woods getting lost and breaking their bikes and loving every second of it. 

Over the years the RdR has gotten bigger. And has had its challenges. As its has grown so have we. We being Rosey, myself, Michele, Greg and all those involved. Over the years we have pissed some people off. I think it is impossible to build a community and put on an event without pissing someone off. But we have always tried to listen and to respect. I can still remember being chewed out by NEMBA about going through LLF one of the first renditions. This year was especially challenging as it seemed like it rained all Spring. We postponed which we have never done in the history of the RdR. But it was the right thing to do. The new date looked GREAT! Sunshine. Warm. Perfect. We all descended upon the Washington Square Tavern eager to set out on a great ride with a bunch of rad friends. HUP has always had a really strong showing. And this year did not disappoint. I mean look at that Team photo?! Damn. 

We rolled out from the Tavern as a team. Picked up some people out around BC and headed to the aqueducts toward Wellesley. Things got a bit dicey as we hit the first single track trails so we decided to split up into smaller groups. Team Super Wolf Blood Moon had to cut it short anyway. I had a lacrosse game to coach later that day. So the plan was always to cut the head off the route and do a RdR Lite. I am always amazed at how my friends Michele and Greg curate these routes. In the old days Rosey and I would go out and do ride, after ride, after ride with ribbons in our hands to mark the route. Now with strava heat maps and some trail wizardry and yes some trail blazing voila you have a kick ass route. This Ronde was one for the ages. Sometimes you get so used to a ride or route you sort of get complacent. I am a grizzled veteran of these rides. Nothing really surprises me. I mean if it can happen it has happened to me at this point doing gravel rides. But the gods tested us on this one I will say that. Maybe the God of Thunder was angry we postponed it. Maybe we forgot to sacrifice a goat. Who knows. But as we took the Weston rail trail toward Waltham I noticed the sky darken. I wasn't worried. The forecast was for a nice day. 

But as we rode along the trail it started to drizzle. By the time we got over the top of Prospect Hill it was now full on raining. As we descended the Greenway it was pouring rain. It was almost laughable at how insane it was. I mean water was pouring down the trail. All the granite and exposed roots made the trail insanely treacherous. We ping ponged off all the roots and rocks and just prayed we would not crash into a tree. As we rode down a group of trail runners were running up. They all were smiling and happy. Chatted with us. It was so cool to see a group of like minded trail users just laughing at these insane conditions. As we popped out onto the road we realized it was only just getting more intense. So Roger tapped into his local knowledge and we made a bee-line home to the Tavern. I don't think I have been that cold on a ride in May in my life. It wasn't Mt Shasta at the Lemurian cold. I almost died during that race but it was close. Didn't know you could get hypothermia riding in May. Weird.

When we got back to the Tavern we saw some other teams rolling in. Lots made the smart call and pulled the plug. Others suffered through the rain and did the full route. Hats off to everyone who endured those conditions. In a testament to people's skills no one got hurt, no one complained and everyone had a blast. At the Tavern I raised a pint of Fiddlehead and said Skol. Its been ten great years. I am pretty sure this is the last RdR. It is an amazing event. And one we all cherish. But it has run its course. We will of course still find ways to build and support this great community. And we will always support our friends at Bikes not Bombs. They do such important work.

A HUGE thanks to all the riders and folks who have supported the RdR. Major shout out to Rosey. That man is unreal. He has made this happen every year with a smile on his face. Always made everyone feel a part of the event and welcomed. A Huge thanks to our sponsors: The Washington Square Tavern, Mad Alchemy, Stan's No Tubes, Skratch Labs, WTB, Floyd's of Leadville, 3Cross, Feedback Sports, Ortleib. This Laatste Ronde will be the kick off of our farewell tour. Ideally this farewell tour is more Sabbath than Slayer. Keep posted for news on the 2019 Zank SSCX Series soon.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Valhalla I am coming

Dearly beloved, we have gathered here today to get through this thing called Life. Electric word life it means forever and that is a mighty long time. But I am here to tell you there is something else. If you don't like the world you are living in take a look around you at least you got friends.—Prince. 
Yes my friends you have friends. We have this crazy ass bike community. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. We made a blood oath the second we hopped aboard a bike. Any bike. All are welcome at our Church. Come in all sizes. Colors. Creeds. 29ers. 650b. FS. HT. Drop bar enduro. We are all but humble servants of the Dirt Church. 

This post was supposed to be the last post of 2018. Whelp. I had a pretty epic vaca. Not in the epic ride bro but in the epic I lived and loved it to the max. My family is my whole world. Only second to my friends. And if you are reading this you know we are friends. I love you with all my heart. I am sure we have suffered and wandered upon the same path. This post I have been saving for a special moment. And the moment is now. I live a blessed life. It is not without suffering and hardship. This year has been hard. But I refuse to call it a "bad year" I know lots of you have had hard years. I see it. And I am here for you. 100%. Not sure why 2019 feels so hopeful. But it does. I read a quote from a coach recently. I am a lacrosse coach. Girls U14. It is a hotmess. But he said it is not about winning or losing it is about winning and LEARNING. Yes. That nails it. This past year was hard. But I learned a lot. In that suffering came great knowledge. I fucked up. A lot. I was a bastard at times. Pain can do that to you. You lash out. You don't mean it but it happens.  You sweat the small stuff. It adds up. And maybe you lose focus on what matters. Luckily I have the best friends in the world.

So about this post. I have never been surprised. Literally. I know lots of people have elaborate bday surprises. Not me. Ok maybe that one time my dad gave me the keys to the Datsun. But it really wasn't a surprise it was more like "shit we don't have a present for you how about this rusted out car..." That car was cool don't get me wrong. So 2018 was hard. I know it was for you too. But in one of my more darker moments a reset of sorts was hit. I mean I did not see it coming. But one of my true friends and the love of my life got me good. 2018 I was a bit elusive. Not sure what that was about. Maybe I was depressed. Duh. And sort of retracted into myself. Sorry. My friends would ask to go on rides and I would be like nah I am busy. I mean I was but still. I missed my friends. I am a pack animal. Always have been. I love the idea of a tribal culture. I am part of a wolf pack. Even if at times I may go off on my own. You ever stay awake at night listening to Coyotes howl? They howl because one of the pack has been separated from the group.

I love my crew. It is a tight crew of 3 that morphs out to 6 that expands to infinity. But my wolfpack tends to be the Zank crew. I love my HUPmates and a bunch of others. But the Zank crew. Wow. We have so much history. We are all dads and of a certain age. We are warriors. Sure we may seem like boring old white guys but trust me. Love them to death do us part. So when Matt called me, texted me and guilted me via our WhatsApp thread I relented. I fidgeted. I cajoled. I tried to deflect and parlay a gravel ride. But Matt was insistent. No he did not say "Chip, you little bitch we are riding mtn bikes." But he basically said that. So it was on. We were riding Russell Mill. I joked about how Michele left me for dead on this ride last time and how much I HATE mtn bikes. But actually it was a great route. And Michele found some sick flow stuff in Billerica. Myette even lied that he had ridden it. Yeah I am gullible. I trust people. It is bizarre I never have been surprised before. 

So I have one of the worst weeks of my life. Why bother with the details. A legion of moms go through the same shit on the daily. My gender bender lifestyle is nothing special. But I kind of suck at it. I have tried my best. Done my best but that is all you can do. So in the worst space and week of my life I am like sure dude let's do this. Matt rolls ups amidst some bizarre backstory of where he is and what he is up to. Pam, my beloved, is acting super fucking weird. But I am so fucking blown out the dog could have been chewing on a zombie hand I would not even bat an eye. There is a lot of crazeeee happening that am. I am like what fucking ever. I do the dad shuttle and get the kids to school. I get home. Pam is weird. Both of them seem amped. I just settle into ok let's go ride bikes and fuck this bullshit of a week.

Matt may be a serial killer. We engage in senseless banter. Blah, blah, blah. Do not get me wrong. I love Matt. Straight up. Brother from another a mother. So we are cruising along in the Honda Pilot. And then we blow by the exit to Russell Mill. I am like "Bro, I know you aren't from around these parts and it is early but yeah...exit. Blown...." Myette gets all serious and says we are going to KT. I almost jump out of the car. Full fight or flight. My brain goes into hyper drive thinking about what bullshit I have scheduled and what bullshit I have to cover. Matt sees the look on my face and says open the glove box. Pam has it covered. I open the glove box and there are two cards. One from Pam and one from the kids. Both make me cry. Damn I needed this. No strings. No obligations. Just heading to VT and KT. KT kids is Valhalla. The poor Vikings had to endure a lot of horror for the mythos of Valhalla. It actually exists my dear friend. In VT. In Burke to be exact.

 I have always been on a teeter totter of the physical and the spiritual. It is where I feel most comfortable. I do think you can find the path of enlightenment through the palace of excess via the physical. Whether it was hockey as a kid, martial arts, surfing and then cycling. It is how I feel most at home. KT reminds me of Maui in the '80s. Somehow I convinced my then girlfriend now wife to go to Maui with me to windsurf. My GF did NOT windsurf. She chose to suntan on the beach and get absolutely annihilated by the sun. But Maui opened my eyes. It was perfect. It was the first place I had ever visited where I felt at home to be myself. KT feels that same way. It is built around cycling. You roll into town and you sense cyclists are welcome. The whole community thrives off cycling. So the whole drive up I am like ok KT the Valhalla of mtn biking. I am soooo riding my 29er. Matt planned everything. Rented me a party bike. Got the BNB dialed. I am pretty hesitant to give up my 29er. The bike shop that rents the bikes is so chill. I am NOT chill. Guy is like hop on it. I am like wow. Ok see ya.

 It is the perfect bike. I love hardtails. Will always love hardtails but damn I love a party bike. I barely rode a mile and I was sold. The Santa Cruz 5010 is an amazing bike. I mean literally I hopped on it and it was green light GO! time. We headed up to the trail head and then just shredded for two hours. Epiphany number 1. I do not hate mtn biking I just hate mtn biking on my shitty local trails. God damnit are the trails in KT amazing. It is like when you go to ski in Vail or Beaver Creek for the first time. You feel like a super hero. Full send. Full shred mode. My hesitation around renting a bike was totally unfounded. Do yourself a favor. Rent a bike. It was an eye opener.

Day one we do about two hours of super fun trails. We climb up onto the Chapel. I won't lie I am a religious person. It is hard these days in this country and climate. But I can transcend that. The chapel in KT is what has always drawn me to christianity. It is the same vibe I get in the woods or on the ocean. It is on a spiritual level. Not political at all. We bump into a super cool group of  ladies. Again, how often do you bump into 10 women on mtn bikes? All together. No dudes. They were so rad. I went into the Chapel as it has always been a life dream of mine to see it. In person was beyond what I had imagined. We roll out and hit more of the most amazing trails I have ever seen and then ride back into town to the BNB. The BNB is incredible. How it is so affordable is beyond me.

That night we walk five minutes down the hill to the Tikki Bar and a fun event going on. We make tie dye shirts. The next day we shred for another two hours of hero riding. I reluctantly hand the 5010 over. I seriously consider just leaving it on the rack and giving them my cc # for it. It is that great of a bike. I am a believer. I bend a knee at the altar of KT and Santa Cruz. 2019 I plan on getting up to VT more than I have in the past. This trip was the highlight of 2018. The greatest gift two friends have ever given me.