Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nerds of the NECX

The Nerd biker (cyclist) connection can not be denied. So many of us were nerds in high school. I can't even count the amount of times I have had conversations both in person or on the twittersphere about starting an #NECX D&D campaign. The possibilities are endless. I mean let's face it Cross is basically LARPing. Why not just take it to the next level?

Here is my proposal. This year at the Ronde we do a #NECX D&D "Poker ride" My good friend and DM extraordinaire has lots of great ideas to make this work. Basically the way it will work is any teams wanting to participate will need to sign on to the campaign. Each participating team will get a ziplock baggy containing: Character sheets printed on cards, a list of spells, a specific task and a simplified rules set. In Jed's words a Cannonball Run sort of campaign. 

"The party of rogues came upon a dank tunnel in the moors of Satan's Kingdom. They heard a low moaning as they approached the tunnel. Small lawn gnomes and tiny plastic miniatures dotted the landscape. A scale model train set wrapped around the rocks. A half-goat, half-demon anthropomorphic figure emerged from the darkness. 'My children have you misbehaved?" growled the creature."

If this sounds like something you want to be a part of send me an email at velocb@mac.com Jed and I will make the magic happen as they say. And may the odds ever be in your favor. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Omloop van Blackstone

Our idea of what a "road" ride is has certainly changed over the years. Gravel is King make no mistake. Most all of the rides I personally do are on a CX bike with 40s and in the woods. The paved road is merely a conduit to my next dirt sector or park. But there are times when riding the "road" makes the most sense. Early season when the trails are either too muddy to ride or closed, when you need to shake of the winter rust and get the legs going again, or when a good friend sends out an invite to a best worst ride idea ever. I never say no to an idiot ride. Greg is one of those friends who just puts the best rides together. Honestly I know a lot of trail wizards. He is hands down the best. From his route planning to pre-ride emails. He always gets me stoked. Getting me stoked for a "road" ride is some type of mid-winter miracle trust me. This winter in New England has been bizarre. One day it is 70 degrees out. The next it is 30 and we get 6 inches of snow. The trails have been perfect one day and then a quagmire of a mud pit the next. The road really is the only option right now. So when Greg sent out his Omloop van Blackstone email I was all in. 

The OVB was an homage to Omloop Het Nieuswblad which went down this past Saturday. We all assembled in a parking lot next to the post office and namesake of Greg's cycling club MPO. I honestly had no idea what to think. There were three route options: 33 miles-Short but Sweet and Gnarly; 55 miles-The Goldilocks and 70 miles-Fellow Idiots, Lets Do this. I have been pretty much sitting on a couch all winter so opted for Short, Sweet and Gnarly. Which is pretty much what I am all about anyway. I typically go big with my rubber choices but this was a "road" ride. And I needed all the help I could get so dug out my favorite "road" tire the Roubaix. It is called a 28/30. Not sure what that means. Set up tubeless on a HED Belgian plus rim it measures a fat and fast 33. It is pretty much bomb proof. Doesn't ride like a garden hose and somehow offers up pretty good grip off road. Tubeless set up can be a bit of a dark art. I have had good luck but road tires can be a bit of a challenge. This was my first opportunity to use a flash charger pump and I will say it worked great. I was a bit nervous taking a brand new set up on a group ride without having ridden it before but I was confident in both the Specialized tires and the HED rims. They are solid as a tubeless set up as you can get.

Greg kept texting me alluring photos of random dirt roads and telling me to do the 55. I was actually worried about completing the 33. I am in that bad of shape right now. When I rolled into the parking lot I saw 20-30 riders. Really cool crew. A mix of Greg's MPO teammates, HUP and some Apex Velo dudes. From HUP we had Greg, Guthrie, Michele, Eric, Theo, and myself. It felt a lot like the old HUP group road rides we used to do. Just a fun crew looking for some adventure in Winter. I have mentioned this weird Winter we are having in New England right? All the snow was gone. I have already found 9 ticks on my dog. Dressing for this ride was a challenge in and of itself. We rolled out as a big group and headed out toward Medfield State. I tucked in behind Guthrie and Greg. My good friend Rich was next to me on his full suspension mtn bike. I appreciate Rich opting for the mtb on this ride. It certainly wasn't going to slow him down but it at least made the rest of us mere mortals able to at least attempt to stay in contact with him.

The first dirt climb about killed me. Again, I cannot overstate how little riding I have done this winter. It is what it is. I have been focusing more on my family and doing stuff with them. Most of my weekends are spent in a hockey rink. At first I was like "oh this is ok" which quickly gave way to "oh fuck no..." I got off mid-way and hike a biked to the top. We wove through some amazing backroads. Got chased by a few dogs, might have ridden a section that was closed* and had some angry local call the cops on us, but those are mere color to our idiot ride. Everyone kept it together. Honestly I love riding with a crew like this. No egos, no testosterone fueled watts fest. Just a fun conversational pace. This is what all winter rides should be like. At the split for the 33 route we said our goodbyes and formed a new crew of about 10 of us. The only person I knew on this new crew was my friend Dave. Solid guy. We caught up. Talked shop. Exchanged notes on all the upcoming cool gravel rides we are thinking of doing. And then things got as you say "real" *Most of you know I am a dirtbag. I obey the rules in general but bend some certainly within reason. I probably obey more rules than the average driver on the road. The person who called the cops on 30 of us riding a multi use trail was on the same section of "closed" trail himself so should have called the cops on himself. The section that was closed was being repaired and was 100% safe to ride at that moment. The sign technically said "Road Closed Pass at Own Risk" Which we did. 

Greg does not play around. He found some sectors that would give any gravel rider pause. We hit a power line section that had multiple stream crossings that built into full on river crossings. Some were rideable others were definitely hike a bikes. We rode through Vietnam. On our road bikes. Vietnam is a legit mtb tech zone of a park. It is owned by NEMBA and draws the full face helmet crowd. I had heard of the place but never ridden there as that type of riding is not really my jam. Hilarious that my first ride there would be on a CX bike on road tires. We somehow only had two flats on the whole ride. We did a great job of not losing anyone. Which says a lot for a crew that really didn't know each other before embarking on this adventure together. This to me is what this new type of cycling is about. Leave your ego behind. Explore. Look out for each other. Be cool. So rad. HUGE thanks to Greg for making this ride happen and getting a bunch of us like-minded idiots out for a rad winter ride. I hope this turns into a series of rides. It really was a blast.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Ronde de Rosey Q&A

A proper Ronde de Rosey Q&A with the man has been a long time coming. With this spring-like weather in the NECX it felt the time was right. So here follows my lame questions and Rosey's awesome answers

1. What inspired you to put on a “Ronde”?
I'd been commuting from Boston out to Watertown and Waltham for 5+ years and had some great dirt roads and under utilized trail options that I took to get off the road as much as possible.  Every spring, people were stressing to register early and paying $50+ to go ride a few dirt roads in nowhere New York.  I wanted to create something in Boston that encourage people to stay local and take advantage of the hidden gems they'd been missing while out on their training rides.  I also liked the idea of getting out on the cross bike in April as opposed to only Sep-Dec.  I had done a few Rapha Gentlemen's Races and decided to adopt the team format.  

2. What is the “Ronde”?
The Ronde is an adventure on bicycles.  I used the hashtag #getlost in the past and I think that still holds true.  We start and finish at the Washington Square Tavern, but you can expect at some point between start and finish to #getlost.  Every year I add something new, something that I hope makes the riders say "wow, that was cool, I never knew that was so close to Boston!"  But I also hope riders are humbled by the adventure.  I keep the route a secret until just a few days before the event.  Partially to add suspense, and partially because I'm looking for more adventure until the very last moment.

3. What is the weirdest thing that has happened on a Ronde?
The first year I ran the event, Garmins were still a new concept and the idea of following a GPS track on your bike was definitely not the norm so I went out the week before and starting marking the course.  Spray paint on the road for turns, pink ribbon in the woods to draw attention to turns.  Well apparently the pink ribbons were not well received and someone or some group had taken a bunch of them down on Friday or Saturday.  I only learned of this because I caught the lead groups in the woods early on and they were not able to tell which way to go.  I had to remark 50% of the course during the event.  It was stressful! 

4. How has the use of technology changed rides like the Ronde?
The first version had a cue sheet with something like 60 or more turn points.  Things like "take a right at the chopped down tree."  I had to spray paint route markers for some of the trail entries from the roads too because almost all of the trails were unknown to people and there was no way riders would notice the singletrack entry while cruising at 20mph on the road.  #getlost was not a concept, we didn't explore. 

5. What do you think is the best bike to ride on the Ronde?
The best bike is the one that you want to ride on singletrack, trails, and roads for 6 hours.  I've done the routes on my cross bike, single speed mtb, and single speed cx bike.  The original routes were probably best suited to a traditional geared cx bike (partly because that's what everyone had back then).  The newer routes are good for a 29er or a disc cx bike with 40mm tires.  I think my favorite choice is a single speed cx bike with 40mm tires.

6. What is your favorite beer?
Depends on the season.  Since it's winter, I'd say a good stout like Long Trail Unearthed: http://longtrail.com/beers/unearthed 

7. What team has overcome the most adversity and finished the Ronde?
 Oh man, I think Cort Cramer and his Svelte Team had a squad that tore a derailleur off, diverted off course to pick up a pit bike, got back on course, broke a chain, had a few flats, and still finished with smiles. 

8. What is the secret to riding the Ronde?
Leave your attitude and selfishness at the door.  If you don't like to deal with adversity, you shouldn't come.  I think the Geekhouse squad had the best mantra - cat 1 for fun.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Dear faithful reader. I apologize for my lag in updating this here blog. We are thick in the middle of the Dog Days of Winter here in the NE. A lot has transpired between the last time we spoke. 

Ice Weasels was Epic. I don't use that word lightly....if you were there you know. If you weren't there look at these photos by Jon Nable and tell me this isn't Epic?

The King of Pain Mike Wissell unleashing hell upon the slopes of IWC

Roni the queen of Jake's Ice Cream and SSCX

Jenn Minery making it looking as smooth as ever

Macho Man Randy Savage showing the cream rises to the top

Jessica Howland in the Danger Zone   

Drifters always get all the super fans

HUP There it is...

The Vest

Flannel Rules

Art School Represent

The pictures do more justice to that day than my words ever could. But it was one of those days not unlike Philly 2013. The day started rad and then during the premier event the snow just went off and made it a day to remember. Thank you to all who made the 2017 Zank SSCX series so rad. I miss all of you SSCXers so much. But there are lots of things cooking. As the title above implies...something wicked this way comes. #GETLOST will be the Mantra for 2018. You have three months to prepare. Get ready. Until then be nice to the trails. Don't ride them when they thaw and destroy them. If the trails are solid get your fat bike freak on. Do what ever makes you happy. But if you see that trail get muddy go for a road ride. It is pretty nice this time of year.

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.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Moving in Stereo

The photo above is the greatest team photo of ALL time. Don't even attempt a better team photo than this. You can add in Dolphin plushies. Pillows. Pools. You won't even come close to this. HUP has been around for more than a decade. Our founder Zac Daab was on to something when he created the first "anti-team" He had a vision. The vision was a team based on who you would want to hang out with for a weekend in Vermont. Who you would get up at 4 am on a freezing November to pile in a van and head north for a rad adventure ride. Zero drama. The ability to smile while suffering. And to never take this whole bike game too seriously. 

I joined HUP about 8 years ago. Post two or three concussions things get foggy. But basically Zac and Yash brought me in. I met Yash at a few races after moving to Boston from SF. I was still racing for a rad Norcal Team called Sycip. I wore that Sycip kit with pride for two years after moving "home" I guess I made an impression. Maybe it was the Norcal kit or the steel Sycip. Who knows. But as they say "One HUP finds another." Yash, Zac and HUP opened up my whole world from Norcal bike racer to Boston cyclist. I was worried about moving back home. Boston is a weird place. I left for a reason. But sometimes you have to leave a place to fall in love with it all over again. Those early years were awesome. Yash was the DS of the team. He was a one man house of style. Taught me so much about CX and the east coast. Then around 2009 the torch was passed from Yash to myself. Yash was moving away from Boston. He moved to DC and then later to China. HUP needed a new DS. I became that DS. To say I was honored was an understatement. 

HUP became my battle flag. I loved the team and loved what it stood for. We had some really special people on the team. HUP is simple really. We ride bikes. We build the community. We support those who need it. Michele Smith came on to HUP shortly after I did and we became Co-DS. And the team has flourished. Each year Yash has come back from his travels Michele has organized a Yash Ride. HUP honors its members. Once you are HUP you are always HUP. And we definitely honor those who built this team. I said it earlier. I love Yash. And owe him so much. He made me feel welcome in a pretty tight insular bike scene. Showed me the ropes. Introduced me to people I count as the best friends I have had in my life. Some are as close or closer to me than family. They really are like my family. 

So when Michele sent an email that a Yash Ride was on I got very stoked. When HUP gets together magic happens. I have never been able to make it to one of these elusive Yash rides. In an odd twist of fate this Yash Ride was taking place the day before Lowell. Lowell is where the torch was passed so many years ago. Lowell was where the Forest of Lowellenberg was created. So much tradition. Rosey stayed over at my house the night before the ride. We rolled out at a gentlemen's hour. We considered stopping at Dunkins for an XL and a box of munchkins but were a bit pressed for time. We didn't want to miss the HUP train leaving the station. As tradition would have it DJ Robert brought fresh oysters from Duxbury. How many rides do you know of that start with pre-gaming oysters. So Robert, Nable and the whole crew are shucking oysters and slamming them down in the parking lot. A nice lady rides over and asks me and Rosey what this is all about. She says " are you guys on a cyclocross team?" I sort of chuckle. Um yes ma'am. We are. Why do you ask. She replies "My friends were wondering why you were having so much fun before a ride." Boom. Fun. It is what it is all about.

I see Yash and give him a big hug. It has been waaayyy too long. Then we do what bikers do. We size up each others bikes. Yash does not play. He is well known as a collector of fine bikes. His newest is a custom 333FAB. Max was arguably one of the best welders at Seven back in the day. And an OG on HUP. The 333FAB bikes are gorgeous. Yash had a sick new CX/All Roads resplendent with all the cool bits. We collected the team for our first of many photos that day. Then rolled out. Another tradition is DJ Robert brings a boom box. His playlists are next level. As the title infers we rolled out to the Cars Moving in Stereo. Being from Boston and of a certain age this song just brings back so many memories. And frames who I am in so many ways. Of course the second we get onto the Minuteman Bike Path a car drives ONTO the path and turns in front of our group. Yeah cyclists are the problem.

Remember earlier when I said HUP is a special team? This is a classic example. No one crashes. No one pounds on the SUV in rage. We just move around said offender and are on our merry way. Lexington isn't my favorite place I won't lie. White entitlement + congestion + faux liberalism always rub me the wrong way. But as Dwayne the Rock Johnson would say I just push those feelings down into my little fanny pack and move on. I would say we have a group of about 15-18 riders. All HUP. Some new to HUP some OG. But all on the same page. I catch up with Yash and Robert. I tuck in under Robert's shoulder and roll down the path just so happy. I flow back and connect with Nable. We stop at Shenanigans Station Number One. Bikes make us all kids again. It is what keeps us in the bike game even when we are old enough to know better. When the crew sees a playground with some crazy ass swings shit is gonna go off the rails. We avoid the ER somehow.

Michele has put together such an amazing route. Minimal road. Trails that feel familiar but in a direction I have never ridden them. Yash keeps commenting on how smooth we are on the trails and wondering how we do this all the time without crashing. It honestly is so funny to me. I guess I take this whole way of riding for granted. I certainly wasn't always this comfortable riding CX bikes on the trails but after so many years it is the style of riding we have evolved to. Adventure riding. Gravel. CXenduro. I am not in marketing and have nothing to sell you so I don't put labels on this type of riding. It is just a ride.

We hit Ponyhenge. Much hilarity ensues. The best team photo of all time is taken. The only thing missing maybe is some dolphin plushie toys. We somehow have gone without a crash, a mechanical or incident to this point. Shocking. The Heavy Metal God of Thunder is clearly watching over us this day. At some point I realize where we are and start laughing out loud. Michele and I and a few others revere creating these adventure routes. So when I am able to see the master at work and enjoy her handiwork it just fills me with joy. As much as a lot of The North (In Boston we are separated by a river and a turnpike) bugs me just as I am sure where I live bugs them there are elements of Lexington and its environs that resonate with me. The history certainly. Rolling by Walden where Thoreau wrote some of the most seminal words about being an outdoors person always pulls at me. Seeing British flags along the Minuteman Path where soldiers died forming this country is always poignant. Especially during these turbulent political times when who we are as a country is being challenged daily.

The best parts of these rides other than the riding is the ability to talk to so many friends and teammates. You really have some of the best conversations while on a bike. As the ride begins to wind down the talk turns to post-ride food and hangouts. We end up in a nice pizza place right in Lexington. We all share a huge pizza and talk about the ride. It is hilarious how each rider looks at the ride and their own set up for the ride. I tend towards CXenduro. I will give up a light weight machine for one that will handle what ever the trail throws at me. A lot of the crew prefers a bike that is better suited for going fast and are ok with some mayhem along the trail. We plot and scheme our next HUP ride and adventure. And after some fond goodbyes we all pedal off in our own directions. Yash you will be missed my friend. Can't wait til the next time we get to ride together

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Happy Trails

Got the news yesterday that Lone Wolf Cycling was closing shop. It was kind of a gut punch I won't lie. LWC to me was always like the Ex-Presidents from Point Break. For them it truly was never about the money. They stood for something. They proved every ride that the human spirit is still alive. Yes that is paraphrased from Bodhi's speech about the system. The system that kills the human spirit. Cycling at its core to me is about that. I know it certainly doesn't live up to that. But it is a nice thing to strive for. I have always been drawn to these type of people and these ideals. When I first got into cycling out in Norcal it was this type of crew I joined. The LWC crew reminded me so much of those early days in SF. Very similar to the Swobo crew. Very different approach obviously. Philly and SF (well the guys who founded it were from Marin. Hey Tupac was from Marin...) could not be more different. But the things Swobo was so good at the LWC took to 11. Build a rad community. Be about the ride more than the selling of your soul and constant riding the wave of some new "fad" Have the best worst ideas. You get the idea.

Lone Wolf brought a lot of people together. I guess they were the flame and we like moths were drawn to it. I still don't 100% know how I ended up friends with these dudes. I blame AnonCX and Jed a bit. They were the ones who introduced me to them at the Philly Bike Show years ago. I was "working" and trying to promote a new brand. The second Ryan took me over to the LWC booth it was pretty much all over. They had me at Wu Tang Clan basically. My love of Philly and LWC blew up after that trip. I grew up near Boston. If you live within an hour from Boston you always say you are from Boston. Deal with it. Boston has that type of effect on people. If you like hockey in Boston you grew up HATING Philly. Ok if you are a Boston sports fan you hate lots of places but you get my drift. I was born to not like people from Philly. But oddly, I really love Philly and people from Philly. Bizarre.

Sully by Matt Lolli 

After that fateful trip to the Philly Bike Show things starting escalating. The Philly Show is rad by the way. If you ever have a chance to go do yourself a favor and go. The City is fantastic. And the show is really one of the coolest bike shows I have ever been to. The Show is a great mix of bike industry, bike culture and art. I am not new to bike culture or singlespeeds. My past life out in Norcal was full immersion into both. But moving home to the Boston 'burbs I sort of lost touch with a lot of that. The LWC was all in with both. Again it was like getting into the Hot Tub Time Machine and going back to South Park circa 1994. The original Swobo gang was really just a couple of dudes preaching a lifestyle. And lots of people drank that koolaid. Because bikes are rad. And up until that point the main focus of bikes was racing. And road racing. Road racing culture is horrible. Sorry not sorry. Especially at that point when it was some dying fixation with all things euro and specifically Italian. No thanks. There was a reason I stopped riding as a kid and surfed, windsurfed and did things that were cool. Cycling was NOT cool. At all.

I stayed in touch with the Philly crew mainly through my friend Ryan. And like a Zombie virus that LWC crew and vibe started spreading. Philly was the hot spot. LWC was patient zero. People started popping up on my radar. Yes it had a bit of a Fight Club aspect to it. Shoogs, Quags, Utah. So many new cool friends. I am not cool. But cool people wanted to hang with me. Again bizarre. And as a marketing director of a new bike brand I saw this as a huge opportunity. So I mixed work and play in a blender and made a smoothie forged in Hell. Man we had a good run. I went all in. When I heard SSCXWC was going to be in Philly I started planning. We built special bikes. We packed a van with bikes and people and headed south. Matt Lolli and I created Sully. We had a horrible idea that we should bring SSCXWC to Boston. OMG that seems even more insane now as I type this. Thank god a blizzard stopped this best worst idea from ever happening.

We get down to Philly and scatter across the City like a SSCX strike force. I stay with my good friend Ryan. SSCXWC13 is incredible. The Feats of Strength are beyond anything I really have ever participated in. Philly is a remarkable cycling city. Lots of great paths. Drivers don't seem hell bent on murder. A great trail system about 30 minutes away. We rode all day. Got drunk. Almost got in a bar fight with Adam Craig over a Lion of Flanders flag. That was Yarnell's fault not mine. I just happened to be in faux Belgian fan boy kit. We ended up at the Liberty Bell as the sun was going down and my cell phone battery was dying. And I had no lights. And I had no idea where I was. I somehow found my way back to one of the host bike shops and miraculously bumped into my friend Ryan. The next day was Worlds.

If you weren't at Philly Worlds I don't even know what to say. As I waited at registration with Abel a large man dropped a Ronald Reagan mask at my feet. And said "Lose something Brah..." Haha god damnit I love this crew. We really are like a Wolf Pack. And I owe the LWC for showing us just how to do it right. Kevin had taken a train down from Boston to get to Worlds. He had walked from the train station in a snow storm. I asked him where he was staying. He said he'd figure it out. I told him to not wander off and that he was staying with me at Ryan's. And that kicked off one of the craziest bike race experiences in my life. We raced our hearts out as the snow kept coming down. We witnessed one of the greatest days of racing SSCX ever. Then we feared a bit for our lives. Apparently people in Philly don't know how to drive in snow storms. And Philly clearly does not know how to deal with a Blizzard. Which is really weird. Luckily I had an AWD van with Blizzak snow tires and Ryan had a Subaru. We carved through a sea of overturned SUVs to the safety of his condo.

We sat in his condo eating humus and going onto the dark web to create cyber-warfare against all the others trying to secure the rights to the next SSCXWC. We weren't at the after party to play poker for the rights to host. Which is an odd way to determine who hosts Worlds but frankly thank god we weren't there. The only place worse than Boston to host a SSCX Worlds would be...ok no where actually. No where would be worse. So the sun set on that idea. But bonds were formed that weekend that would last for a lifetime. The next 4 years we spent so much time riding, scheming, and coming up with new ways to make mayhem.

MA Field OPS may have led to me being fired from my job at said brand. Totally worth it. In spades. The crew that came up to do a double adventure ride weekend in MA was so rad. Our recon mission for the ride was probably one of the top ten days on a bike. We all became Trail Wizards that day. And I think I introduced my good friend Michele to a side of the dirt bag life that she hadn't seen before. The bond between the LWC crew and our crew wasn't always seamless. At Providence one year some of the NECX were a tad freaked out by the dude in the Pizza costume drinking on the line of the SSCX race. Frankly, the tension made me love this whole match made in Hell even more. And it pushed me to make the SSCX series we have so much better. Those trips the LWC crew made up here helped us grow our SSCX community.

I will forever be thankful to that crew for being such good friends, supporters and instigators. They really inspired a ton of people to Kill Yourself to Live. Their bumper stickers weren't just catchy marketing phrases. They were Zen Koans. Oh and they also introduced me to Dave's Killer Bread. So in closing, Happy Trails my friends. May your handups always be cold, may the high fives sting, and may you always have pizza watts. Peace out boys.