Monday, April 5, 2021

What I can do about Arkansas




 Make your voice heard:


Reach out to USAC

USA Cycling President & CEO, Rob DeMartini: RobD@usacycling.org

Board of Directors: BOD@usacycling.org


Fayetteville 2022

https://fayetteville2022.com/contact/


Reach out to Fayetteville

mayor@fayetteville-ar.gov 


Reach out to the governor

https://governor.arkansas.gov/online-services/contact-us/


Contact Allied Bicycles

https://alliedcycleworks.com


Contact Rapha

usa@rapha.cc


Contact Walton foundation

info@wffmail.com  



What would I say?


Brands: 

I am writing you to express my concern over the recent anti-transgender legislation in Arkansas. This is an assault on human rights. I will not support your brand until you make an explicit statement on where you stand and lay out some concrete steps you are taking to address this situation.   


Officials in Arkansas:

I am writing you to express my concern over the recent anti-transgender legislation in Arkansas. This is an assault on human rights. I was planning on visiting your state for both the 2021 Cyclocross World Cup & 2022 World Championship, but cannot do so in good conscience based on the horrific nature of this legislation. While I know that this does not represent the views of all the people of Arkansas, this kind of hateful legislation needs to be opposed by whatever means a person has, and currently I can only vote with my wallet by refusing to visit the state or support companies based in your state.


Human Rights are more important than bike racing.


USAC:
Arkansas’s recent passage of multiple anti-trans sports and healthcare laws are a completely unacceptable attack on human rights that single out some of the most vulnerable people in society. 


Human rights are more important than bicycle racing.


In the face of such hateful legislation, it is critical that we stand up as people, as teams, and as organizations to oppose this assault on human rights.


I am asking you to take whatever action you can to lobby the UCI to move the 2021 Cyclocross World Cup & 2022 World Championship out of Arkansas and to a location that is safe and open to all athletes. I also call upon USAC to:


-Make an explicit statement via official USAC channels denouncing the Arkansas legislation to clearly align USA Cycling with our queer and trans athletes

-Refuse to send Team USA athletes to either race unless they are relocated to a state that does not restrict the rights of trans athletes to compete (in any sports event, not just the two named) and that does not restrict the rights of trans athletes to compete safely.

-Contact Governor Hutchinson to explain how this negatively impacts Arkansas's economy, constituents and cycling.



Organizations you could support:


NW Arkansas Equality

https://nwaequality.org


Human Rights Campaign

https://give.hrc.org/page/62714/donate/1?ea.tracking.id=or_gnr_hrc_homepage2020 


The Trevor Project

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Silence = Violence


Remember back in 2012 when people thought the Mayan Calendar predicted the end of the World? I remember my kids being very worried amidst all the End of Days hype that was on all media channels. One of the most interesting things I read was from an actual scholar who studied Mayan culture. What he determined was that the end date of the Mayan Calendar did not signal some end date apocalypse but the end of the old views of society. The end of the old ways that contributed to so much suffering in the World. The stripping away of hate and wars that began merely because of the god you believed in or the country you were born in. 2020 feels in many ways like end of days. COVID stopped the world in its tracks. It is a horrible pandemic that has resulted in so much suffering, Much of it unnecessary. Much of it inflicted upon us by the old ways of thinking. But it has also given us space. Space to finally (hopefully) deal with the systemic racism and brutality that has been the real plague in our country for the past 400 years. 


The recent horrific events and murders of innocent BIPOC has rocked me. I still can vividly remember the police brutality of Rodney King. I was in CA at the time and it hit me so hard. It is madness that nothing has changed since then. In fact it has gotten much, much worse. The murder of George Floyd finally woke this country up. People took to the streets and responded in a way they had not before. Black Lives Matter became more than a hashtag and become a movement. We are seeing unified protests and action. In the midst of this pandemic I met with a good friend on a picnic bench behind the Landry's Bicycles she manages in Newton, MA. During this crazy time we had been talking about how we could hold a socially distanced ride. The idea was mostly one just to get people on bikes and getting some adventure. But as we sat there Thea looked at me and said "we are going to do a Black Lives Matter ride. Now is the time." I was floored by my friends courage. So many in the bike industry were either afraid to say Black Lives Matter or maybe didn't know how to respond.


We talked more about the messaging and making sure we did it right. We did not want it to seem empty or insincere. Our goal was to fundraise and to raise awareness. We reached out to our friends at Bikes not Bombs. They were so great in helping us put the ride together. And they were a sponsor of a BLM ride that started in Franklin Park and rode through the streets of Boston. Planning the ride took so many people to help make sure it was done safely under COVID restrictions. I have organized rides for over a decade. It is one thing to do so when you can have people in contact with each other and have lots of people riding together. Making it so people are socially distanced and riding in small groups is a challenge. We established waves and did two routes. One road and of course one mixed terrain. One of the things that most impressed me about this ride is that we had people from every cycling discipline. We had legit road racing teams, we had people on hybrids, we had CX racers, we had mountain bikers and even someone on a fat bike! We also had a really great mix of people who were new to adventure riding and following a GPS track. We even made a few cue sheets and maps for those who needed them. Looking back in some ways we modeled this after D2R2. Obviously not on the same scale. But that same spirit was definitely a part of the ride. Everyone was happy to be there and was so happy to be able to show their support for Black Lives Matter.



My favorite group was probably three women who created their own Black Lives Matter jerseys. They creativity was fantastic. I didn't know how the ride would be greeted by the locals. The ride went through predominantly white suburbs. Now this is New England so it is pretty liberal but I see plenty of Trump signs as I ride through Dover. As we set up our checkpoint and aid station at Hale in Westwood and put our Black Lives Matter lawn signs out I thought we might have some pushback from some neighbors. But honestly everyone we interacted with were so positive. We would explain what we were doing and who the money was going to go to and they really were supportive.


The checkpoint was so fun. Usually on one of these rides, even when it isn't a race, people are in race mode. Maybe with racing for 2020 canceled or maybe that this was a lot of people's first ride since COVID people were much more chill. Everyone wore masks and were so respectful. Hadn't seen a lot of my friends since last cross season. I won't lie I wanted to hug some people. But I resisted. I may have hopped into a selfie with MPO but that had to be done.


The ride was a huge success by any measure. Everyone rode for a great cause, we raised $5,000 and had so many great conversations. I personally learned so much. And it is just a beginning. As Thea said so well in the email sent out to all riders:

Thank you for your donation- We appreciate you riding to support and bolster the Black Lives Matter movement. Social change requires effort by all of society. Your donation matters, and your ambition for the greater good warms our hearts. Movers and Shakers like yourself help to open our eyes to the blind spots we all have, to shed light on issues others face in a way that enables us all to work together for equality on all fronts. Thank you to all our sponsors, who stood up without question to help this event happen.  It is because of our shared gift of passion and determination to create social justice that real movement is being made towards a world without inequality. For all the extra special donations of space, product, money, time and volunteers: Hale - Eric Arnold- https://hale1918.org/wave/   Drink Simple - https://drinksimple.com/pages/our-storyLandry's Newton- https://www.landrys.com/Chip Baker and HUP United- This small event raised $5000!  This money will go to the DSNI- which is a BLM affiliated organization that fosters local leadership, ensures equitable access to resources and opportunities and gives residents power and control over their neighborhood.   Link: https://www.dsni.org/about-us About Us — DSNIDSNI was formed by Dudley residents seeking to reclaim a neighborhood that had been ravaged by disinvestment, arson fires and dumping. When many had given up, DSNI organized neighbors to create a comprehensive plan and a shared vision for a new, vibrant urban village.www.dsni.org  An eternal thank you for the support,  this is just the beginning. -Thea J ChurchThea J Church
Store ManagerLandry's Bicycles Newton 


One of the great conversations that came from organizing the ride was with my friend Meg Cater. She helped educate me so much about the Black Lives Matter Movement. She was an invaluable part of the crew that made the ride a success. Post ride she suggested we take part in a challenge being organized by the Unnamed Run Crew. The Black Lives Matter Movement is just building momentum. I for one am committed to working for real change. You can find information on the ride here. 


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Black Lives Matter


On Sunday, June 28th Landry’s Bicycles will be hosting a socially distanced benefit ride in support of Black Lives Matter. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Black Lives Matter. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have affected us deeply. This is not a new problem by any means. Racial injustice has gone on far too long. We can’t be silent any longer. 

The ride itself will be a way for all of us to act, to reflect and to perhaps become more aware and driven to create a better community of inclusiveness and to not remain silent in the face of police brutality or racial violence and inequity.

It will be an opportunity to listen and to learn and to make lasting change.

We welcome all to be a part of our ride and to support Black Lives Matter.


Registration info can be found here: https://www.bikereg.com/black-lives-matter-ride


The past 90 days have been like some kind of Cosmic Wake Up Call. Covid-19 rocked our world. If it didn't rock yours I don't even know what to say to you. It also gave us space to maybe come to grips with some harsh truths of white privilege. I still remember vividly the police brutality of Rodney King. I was living in SF at the time. It sparked a firestorm that felt like real social change. But we got distracted as we do. Then flash forward to George Floyd being murdered by the police in cold blood. All captured on camera phones so there was no dispute how horrific a crime it was. Coupled with the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and a true tipping point has seemed to happen. I am not sure if it is we finally have the space to see the truth or if maybe this time we finally say enough is enough. But to me it feels like a real change is occurring. When my good friend asked me to put on Black Lives Matter ride to raise funds and awareness I was like yes. I am in. 100%. 


It has been a true learning for me. Since that conversation on a picnic bench in the middle of a pandemic behind Landry's in Newton I have been reaching out. Listening and learning. And I think what we have come up with is so important. So many people have been silent too long. It is time to speak up against this police brutality and violence against BIPOC. Today (or technically yesterday) another one of our community Jim Cummins the race director of Dirty Kanza had the audacity to post on Facebook and state that the murder of Rayshard Brooks was "justified" No. Just no. This is the whole POINT of the Black Lives Matter movement. This is WHY Colin Kaepernick took a knee. Yes, he was fired. Great. But that is not enough. It is time to stand up and say this is not ok and we will not stay silent amidst this hate and bias. 


We are going to hold a ride for Black Lives Matter. It is one tiny step forward. But honestly, in the short period of time I have been going full speed ahead to make it happen I have learned so much. This time people are showing their best. I mean so many people have stepped up and supported the ride. Landry's first of all. HUGE props to them for supporting this. Hale. I have been so impressed by the team there. They opened their arms to this. They have been 100% supportive. As has Drink Simple and Velocio. Bikes not Bombs has been so great. Honestly the support has been overwhelming. I still have so much to learn. But I am trying. Every day. 




I hope you will join us. I really think this will be a launch of for so much great work in the community in Boston and New England. We can make a difference. I know we can. 




Friday, May 8, 2020

Bad Idea Rides ™


My friend the Professor invented Bad Idea Rides ™ Or at the least took them to 11. Made them a brand. What exactly is a Bad Idea Ride ™? Cycling has lots of rules. Road riders have entire books full of rules. Even with rules about sock length and color. Lots of the rules around cycling are about safety for sure but more seem to be about cosplaying some fetishization of what is the ideal euro Hardman (or Hardwoman) lifestyle. I never really bought into cycling's "rules"  It is probably why I got into CX and Mtb instead of road cycling. I have nothing against road cycling. I love riding roads. But mostly as a way to get me to some sick trails. Ok so what is a Bad Idea Ride ™ and what are the rules. First there are no rules. Second the whole point of a Bad Idea Ride ™ is to take you out of your comfort zone. To go back to when you were a kid and just rode for fun. No plan. No agenda. Just to surf the earth. 


Yesterday I set out on a #DIYgravel ride with no plan other than to surf the earth. Followed the Bay Circuit Trail for a bit. Got lost. Got back on track. Got lost again. In between it was like taking a trip in the hot tub time machine to my childhood. Kids were on bikes. Tons. Of all ages and without a parent. And they were happy and doing fine. I bumped into two 10 year olds stuck in a mud bog. Or playing in it. Not sure which. These rides lately have been an epiphany. I came across huge trees down across the trail. I climbed over them. Saw tons of wild turkeys. Rode across farm fields. Startled two huge deer that ran across my path. Then saw a hawk with a bunny clutched in its claws as it flew right over my head. I rode through the Charles River. It was a good day. I trashed my bike. I came home covered in mud, ticks, poison ivy and god knows what else. But it was probably one of the most enjoyable rides I have been on in a long time.


A Bad Idea Ride ™ should be just as the name implies. A Bad Idea. At least within the construct of how most of us define what a "good" bike ride is. No training happens on a ride like this. Half the idea is to get lost or to have to figure out a trail without the help of a Garmin or some high tech device. Yes I used my phone a few times to drop a pin to see just where I was. But for 99% of the ride I was following trail blazes, tracks or signs. For me the best bike for a Bad Idea Ride is a CX bike. It just is a do everything bike. Always has been always will be. It is the perfect bike in my opinion. Especially a modern CX bike like my Stigmata. That bike has changed everything for me. It is the best road bike I have ever owned. The most capable woods bike I have ever ridden. And just an extension of myself at this point. That sounds bizarre but it is true. Now for you, your Bad Idea Bike might be a fat bike. Or a mtb. I mean if you want to take it up a notch and I know lots do this...ride your road bike with 25s. That is how we used to ride gravel. And it was mostly a bad idea. I mean I think Jesse had 5 flats that first year at Rasputitsa on his road bike. You do not need a special bike for a Bad Idea Ride™.



People don't like getting lost. I get it. But not all that wander are lost. I mean are you ever really lost? You may be temporarily off track. Or maybe don't know where you are exactly at the moment. But you are never lost. With racing canceled for the foreseeable future it is the PERFECT time to give a Bad Idea Ride™ a go. My friend the Professor's idea of a BIR would kill me. I do not have the fitness to do the type of mileage he likes. But what is nice about the Professor is he often posts up 3 distances. I usually go with the shorter ones. In this current crisis it is important to stay within your limits. My limits are different than yours. A Bad Idea Ride™ never is putting yourself at risk honestly. I am way more conservative on a Bad Idea Ride™ as most of the time I do not know what is around the corner. It could be a downed tree or a deer or a person forest bathing. These rides give you the chance to literally smell the flowers. Stop and take photos. Eat a snack by a waterfall.


Ideally a Bad Idea Ride™ would include a great crew. A couple of friends sharing the experience. For right now we have to ride solo. That is ok. My friends and I are doing the virtual BIR thing right now. We are constantly sharing photos and talking story about the stuff we saw on our ride. My favorite story to share is when I find a new trail. Or pop onto a trail or sector my friend shared with me long ago. I like all of you miss riding with friends. It is really one of the most unique things about cycling. Very few activities bring such diverse people together like cycling does. And it bonds us in a way that I just don't see in other hobbies or sports or what ever you want to classify cycling. To me cycling is, as my friend Marc once said, Beer League Softball. It really is the best description I have heard of this life we live.


So if you are like me and you need those moments in your life were you have to go into the woods to get in touch with your senses and reconnect with who you are try a Bad Idea Ride ™ I probably should have done a full Bad Idea Ride ™ The Rules, From Velominati. But I am not a member of the cycling illuminati. I am a dirt bag at best. The dirt bag code is unspoken and pretty simple. Never call the cops and never hit a dog. Pretty easy to follow in my opinion. Kidding aside the one rule for doing you own Bad Idea Ride™ is to just get out the door. Don't overthink it. It is ok to have a rough destination in mind. Maybe a pond or waterfall you want to sit by and have a snack. Or maybe a Llama Farm you heard about. One of my favorites is to go to a soft serve ice cream shack. Those are the destinations I love. I hope you all are staying safe and are well. If you have ideas for bad rides hit me up. I am always up for a Bad Idea Ride ™

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

There and Back Again


Week 6 of "quarantine" in the NECX. Picked Zoe up at Smith on 3/13. It was surreal. But if there is one thing I am actually good at it is taking care of my family. We are really lucky. We can stay home. We have everything we need at home honestly. Hasn't been easy. But we can go out. Lots of places are in full on shelter in place mode. You go out you can get fined a grand or arrested. The new normal for me and my family has been to take this very seriously. We are lucky to live in the Commonwealth. I actually trust that the Free State of Massachusetts has our best interest in mind. When they tell me to wear a mask I wear a mask. Speaking of masks as I headed out on a little #DIYgravel today one the many email groups I am on sent out an update that Holliston had mandated that any one going outside needed to wear a cloth mask. I have been wearing a LWC buff on all my rides. I have been putting off going on one of my favorite loops out to Holliston and riding the amazing rail trail that goes through because it was sure to be mobbed. I get it. Schools are closed. Gyms are closed. Yoga Studios are closed. All anyone has is the outdoors. 


People have been flooding all the parks and trails near me. Lots of the parks have had to close down because people are not social distancing. I have rediscovered road riding mainly because it is the most chill option on the bike right now. But gravel is my thing. Whether it is riding a sweet rail trail or legit mtb trails on my CX bike. You can call it Mixed Terrain. I can't. There is no elegance in that. Gravel is elegant. So as I headed out on my little gravel adventure I was crafting an email response to the list. I had checked a few responses to the initial post. I honestly don't get the mindset that feels wearing a mask is overreacting. Get used to it. Cause that is going to be the new normal. And frankly, it is masks or go full California and shut it ALL down. Predictably when I hit the rail trail in Hollis it was MOBBED. No one was social distancing. Half were wearing masks. Of those 50% most were not wearing them correctly. I feel like Jesse James at this point. Cap pulled low over my eyes. Ray Bans on. Black LWC buff pulled up over my face. I know the buff isn't really going to offer much real protection if someone happens to have corona. I do my best to keep my distance. If anything this whole thing is making me a much more patient person.


Six weeks of riding in the woods and trails with people who haven't been on a bike or hiking since they were a kid can be frustrating or you could have some empathy. I have been super chill. People say sorry all the time. I try and be nice and say "no need to say sorry" We are all in this together. And I mean that from my heart. We are literally all in this together. People are trying to politicize this. The Vice President refused to wear a mask to the Mayo Clinic. Let that sink in. I miss my friends. I miss riding in groups. I miss all the gravel events that we all look forward to each year. This weekend I would have been riding Greasy Joes with the coolest crew on the planet. But for now all those rad events are either postponed or canceled. In the big scope of things it is NBD. I feel so bad for High School seniors and NCAA athletes who missed out on playing their last games for their schools. I feel bad for those who missed out on all the life events they had planned and worked for. And I feel for all those on the frontlines working in hospitals, grocery stores and first responders keeping us all living our lives as normally as we can right now.


Which brings me back to today's ride. The same as every ride I have been doing since March 13th. Which are the same rides I have been doing for about a decade. Ted King put out an idea called #DIYgravel. Basically a way for all of us to do our own gravel rides together but apart. Do it yourself Gravel. I love it. There are a few people who inspire me these days. Ted is one. Alison Tetrick is the Queen in my mind. She just 100% gets it.  Jake Wells is another. The whole EF alternative program speaks to me. That's it these days. I met Ted at the first Rasputitsa. Met I guess is an embellishment. Tim heckled us from his new car as we wrestled our bikes off our roof rack. Ted was in the car with Lynne. But Ted seemed cool. He embraced gravel in a way most haven't. He seems so genuine which is a breathe of fresh air to say the least. I am not a podcast guy but love his podcast.


No disrespect to Ted but gravel has always been DIY. Even as it has blown up it remains DIY. And this has been very frustrating for lots of people coming from traditional racing. Gravel rides even those that are super PRO are imperfect. There are a lot of moving parts. The course is open. Guess what you may be bombing down some bombed out gravel road in VT and yeah some guy in a Subaru is coming up the road with zero clue that you are on the wrong side of the road. That is on you my friend. Deal with it. These are not cross races. They are at best adventure rides. Honesty they should not be races. I love that racers are doing gravel. But leave your racers mindset at home. You have to take care of yourself. There isn't a team car. The route may be messed up. Aid stations may be out of water. When we first started doing these events we didn't have Garmins. Frankly the first time we did one of these with a Garmin as a team we got so lost it was ridiculous. I love having to navigate by feel. Whether it is via trail blazes like the one above from the Bay Circuit Trail or DIY trail markers. Or actual maps. For the record I NEVER spray canned Landlocked forest. Ever. I see little spray can blazes popping up here and there and do not like that at all. That type of DIY is not cool. That my friend is vandalism.




As I said, even with the proliferation of Garmins and Wahoo GPS systems I have never bought in. I have clearly benefited from those Trail Wizards who create the routes and set the trail. But at some point I am going to have to freelance. Sorry, not sorry. I like to surf the earth. I see a little feeder trail and I want to check it out. A friend shows me a route and I remember it. I have a pretty good internal GPS. It is not perfect. But honestly I have never gotten lost. Maybe I have temporarily gotten off track. But I always find my way back to where I wanted to go. It took me a while to sort it out on the east coast. On the west coast you pop up on a ridge and see the ocean. And then you know which way is west and therefore have figured out North, South and East. And voila you are no longer lost. But on the east coast in the woods? It is like the Blair Witch Project, It is soooo easy to get turned around. Cutler the most traveled spot in this area is like a hell mouth. I have found so many lost people out on the Island.


I love the saying "all that wander are not lost" And that sort of sums up this time we are living in. And how I am riding right now. I am finding all the rides and moments on the bike right now as gifts. We will get through this. Will things go back to "normal"? I don't know. I think the new normal will be better honestly. I am not saying it will be easy. We may be in for some tough times. I feel for all those suffering. And we are all going to have to work together no doubt. We have a lot of digging out to do. But I think we are going to learn to be more empathic. And my time with my family right now is a gift. And when I see my friends? Oh damn. It is gonna be the sickest Ronde de Rosey you have ever seen in your damn lives. Sure it may have to be April 2021 but mark my words. It will be off the hook.



As we move forward and god willing perhaps things open up in the summer. My hope is that those Trail Wizards out there can put together their own DIYgravel rides. Low key. Word of mouth. I need to see my crew. I need to be sitting on Jimbo's deck drinking a cold beer after the ToH, hanging with RCaddy at the Back Eddy after laying down some rad gravel, at my Co-DS's house after the LoB, and Dirt Church with Gewilli. Perhaps at MSH after a sick Hell of the South. We got this. Be safe. Pllllleeeease. No car, No gnar and Not far. As Haymitch said to Katniss "Stay Alive." That is our job right now. Keep your loved ones safe. Wearing a mask isn't just about you not getting sick. It is keeping that kid working at the grocery store from getting sick. It is keeping your grandma or dad from not getting sick. We are all in this together. Peace.




Saturday, April 18, 2020

Dirtbag Gravel Tour 2020


So before this whole clown car went off a cliff into a dumpster fire my good friend Roger and I were planning on kicking off Dirtbag Gravel Tour 2020. Honestly we have been on a DBGT for about a decade. It feels sort of like when Delta House was brought into Dean Wormers office. Fat, dunk and stupid is the only way to go through life in my opinion. I am pretty sure we have been on double secret probation since Waffle Cross made a special visit to Lowell CX. I had nothing to do with those 4 loco hand ups. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Anyhoo so in the short span of a decade Gravel has blown up! It used to be something you would do just for an adventure. See if you could destroy your fancy lightweight CX rig. We got the idea to do the Ronde de Rosey about ten years ago as a reaction to a certain "road" race that shall remain unnamed. We did it once as a team and had an amazing time. It was literally one of the most painful things I have done in my life. But it was beautiful in its suffering. It was my one and only "road" race.


Let's just leave it at the promoter perhaps pissed off a few of my friends to the point that they decided to hold a bandit "race" on the same day. And thus the Ronde de Rosey was born. The OG Dirtbag Gravel Race. The first RdR was held on Sunday March 21st 2010. The format was lifted from the Rapha Gentleman's Rides which arguable made gravel riding cool. Those were the first organized epic dirt road rides I can recall. I am sure there were events that predate the Rapha rides but Rapha made it cool. So the format which I still love was that the rules were simple. Teams start and finish together. Dropping a rider = DQ. That simple rule forces people to get out of race mode and into ride mode. You are only going to go as fast as your slowest rider. Self supported. That really was it. The first Ronde's were done via cue sheet. I know what is a cue sheet? Well guess what sparky we all didn't have Garmins back then. We may have marked the route with surveyors ribbon as well. Which forced teams to really work together to navigate. It was beautiful. And of course the level of destruction to people's bikes was epic.


It was pretty clear after that first year we should not call it a race. Anytime you call anything a "race" bikers are going to make really bad decisions. Even when you don't call it a race cyclists will race. They are probably the most competitive hobbyists on the planet. Are fisherman competitive? I honestly only have had one hobby so I don't know. Maybe people are just by their nature competitive. So leave it at after year one we decided to be really clear that racing was a bad idea. It probably took 2-3 years for that to sink in. It is funny to me now that gravel racing is a thing. I love gravel. No matter how you define it. Whether it is a dirt road ride or a legit off-road adventure I love it. But I really don't like the idea of it being a race. Too many bad things can happen when you are in race-mode. But I digress. For a decade I have been participating and helping organize and promote gravel rides/events. After a decade I have come to realize that the ones I truly love are more low key. And have that unknown to them. It is supposed to be an adventure. I don't mind getting a bit lost or discombobulated. As long as I am with a good crew it is all worth it.


The more I have done these rides the more critical it is for me to roll with a good crew. To me it is not how fast you are but what you are made of. Will you freak out when we are lost. Will you lose your shit when we run out of water. Will you point fingers when the cops show up? I guess you see what I am cooking. The friends I have surrounded myself with over the years are of the same mindset. In the early years people's melt down would be epic. Full reality TV show style. I can't honestly remember anyone losing it in the last five years. Maybe we are all seasoned DBGT pros now. I think so.


So when Roger and me were talking about the DBGT 2020 we had lots of great events planned. Greasy Joes, Mixed Tape, Ronde obviously, some DIY ideas. All the good stuff. The main criteria was it had to have a good dollar to mile ratio, be grassroots, have some DB street cred and not involve too much travel.  That all went up in flames on 3/13. Who knows when an organized ride will be held again in 2020. I honestly don't think it is happening. Maybe in September. So many events are moving to the Fall. GROSS season as I am coining it is going to be bizarre. Gravel + Cross = GROSS. It is going to be really weird seeing how this works out. Throw in all the MTB races that are likely moving to the Fall and it is going to be a relative all you can eat buffet of bike racing.


But the more I think about it DBGT 2020 is a go. A bunch of virtual Tours/races have popped up. My good friends and co-conspirators created an asynchronous redux of one of our old rides. Again, I was pretty skeptical and resisted until I saw them posting photos and like I usually do caved and went out and did a version of what they had cooked up. Then the Tour of Boston became a thing. And I followed that a bit. Still wasn't ready to join the party but was ToB curious. Then they added Pony Henge. And Ted King launched his own DIY Gravel project. That pushed me over the limit. So DBGT2020 is being rebranded. Or maybe relaunched. It will be an asynchronously contested tour. But I know it can work. First Stage of this DBGT2020 will be my own Pony Ride. I have some thoughts. I will go with Ted's DIY idea and make it the Rasputitsa short course distance if possible. No way the elevation will be near the same. I mean metro west is flat. But it will give my mind something to focus on other than this horrific situation we are in.



In other gravel news Jake Wells will be screening his Unknown Country this Monday at 8 am PST on Shimano's gravel site. Check it out if you haven't seen it already. Would people be interested in doing a virtual Ronde de Rosey as a benefit for the Washington Tavern and Beaver Brook Bottles? We could do a pretty cool event. People could pick their favorite RdR route. If you lived too far from Brookline you could do your own and post it up. I think the concept should be No Cars, No Gnar, and Not far. Stole that from Singletrack Magazine FYI. Say 40 miles. If you live near the Tavern or BBB perhaps see about some take out or delivery. If not we will ask for a donation to help them through this. Could be gift card purchases etc as well. If you need help figuring out a route we can do that as well. I hope everyone is staying safe, riding solo, and being healthy. We will get through this my friends. 



Friday, April 3, 2020

Quarantine Grocery Games


This past three weeks has been bizarre. And while the State of Massachusetts is not under quarantine it doesn't take a rocket scientist to take what is happening seriously. I was nervous about this back in January. But I won't lie I didn't really change my behavior much until March. When the first cases popped up in MA and school closures happened like lots of people I was like oh shit this is really happening. As things tightened up and news kept getting worse we (my family) prepared a bit. Nothing crazy but a little inventory of what we had at home. Stocked the pantry that first grocery trip in early March. Things were "normal" then. Other than a run on TP, Paper towels and hand sanitizer the shelves were stocked. At the time I joked about it being a Quarantine version of Guy Fieri's Grocery Games. 


Now I am not much of a reality TV fan. Honestly I don't watch much TV. But when on road trips with my family we all can agree on this show. It is highly entertaining. The concept is simple. Four chefs are set up in a grocery store. Guy picks a theme for the meal. The chefs have to race through the store picking up items to cook a meal. As I went from daily shopping for meals to a once a week schedule I went full Pantry style stock ups. While people were hoarding TP I was stocking up on beans, rice and carrots. I won't lie this whole thing has been a huge wake up call. I waste soooo much money on food. I have been the primary care person for my family the last 20 years. I shop for and cook all the meals. I got into a really bad habit of relying on take out, going out to dinner or buying too much when I went to the store. We ate a ton of meat. Meat is expensive. This current situation made it brutally clear that budgeting is important. Putting yourself on a tight budget for the meals forces you to get creative. And for me it has forced me to take a hard look at how I cook, what I cook and the waste associated with my bad habits. 


One thing that came across my radar that perked my interest was an article about vegetables you can regrow again and again. I gave it a try with a leek. Leeks are kind of expensive. The fact that you can put the bottom of a leek in water and grow it again blew my mind. Above is my pride and joy. I am counting the days until it becomes potato leek soup....sorry leeky. You will grow again I promise. My cooking has been basically Pantry meals. Like I stated earlier the whole idea was to not go to the grocery store more than once a week. And to budget money. So meat was out pretty much. Meat is expensive. A bag of rice and beans is way cheaper than a nice New York Sirloin. I won't say I really miss meat. The meals I have been making have been delicious and filling. So far my family has really enjoyed it. Oddly the one meal they didn't like was lasagna. Not sure about that one. I have been pulling recipes from lots of great cook books and friends like Gewilli. Gewilli is a master at cooking for his family. I have always loved his recipes. Below is an easy but tasty carrot dish Gewilli suggested. And I am going to make a bold statement. Homemade pizza is better than takeout pizza. 


As this pandemic unfolds it is scary for all of us. Limiting how much time we spend outside is so critical to everyone's health and safety. Once a week grocery trips make more sense. Ideally I am trying to make one trip last two weeks. When I grew up my grandmothers all had a pantry. I don't know why or when pantries went out of vogue. I guess this modern lifestyle has just made us lazy. I am guilty that is for sure. It is scary that it took a pandemic for me to get my act together. Moving forward I plan to be much more mindful about how I spend my money and what I spend it on. A garden is the next plan. Nothing crazy just a simple herb garden perhaps. Some lettuce. If I thought my dog wouldn't kill chickens I would get some chickens. But that is a no go with a Labrador retriever.


 On a more serious note I am feeling so worried for all my friends who run small businesses. Restaurants and bars are having such a hard time. I know we aren't even thinking of cycling events and races but one of the Spring Classics if you will was the Ronde de Rosey. This Sunday is April 5th. We often would run the RdR on the same day as the Tour of Flanders. Neither will be happening this year obviously. But I have been thinking of my good friend Gerry, owner of the Washington Square Tavern and Beaver Brook Bottles. Gerry has supported our antics for ten years. Last year's RdR was so awesome. It has been the unofficial kick off of the season here in Boston for a while. I will miss rolling up to the Tavern and having a burger and a cold beer at that beautiful bar. Gerry is still doing take out and is delivering beer! I ordered a great selection of beer from him this week and he dropped it off at my door the next day. If you can please help out your local restaurants, bars and breweries. A lot are doing take out and delivery. As a good segue and to reiterate what we all already know be safe out there. Stay inside unless you have to go to the grocery store or pharmacy. Take a walk or a mellow bike ride for exercise as long as it is still allowed. I saw this great post of Singletrack on IG and I think this is really how we should be looking at our riding. Stay safe my friends. Be healthy and hit me with any recipes you might have. My family is getting pretty tired of my quesadillas....