Tuesday, April 17, 2012


This past Sunday, I finally got to participate in the cyclocross adventure that is the Ronde de Rosey. I missed the last edition, because it fell on the weekend before I was to be married. Having seen how often I crash, my wife was smart enough to forbid it. The course layout included 70 miles of riding, with 70% of it off road, in areas I had never ridden before. Having heard tales of suffering on past editions, I was feeling a little concerned about how well I would hold up over the course of the day. I was also worried about my bike situation. Since I was hit by a car in January, my only functioning cx bike was a single speed. Thankfully Chip helped me out, by setting me up with his Hup Edition Honey. I rode it for the first time on the way to the Washington Square Tavern, our host for the race. It happened to be just the right size for me, handled better than I could have hoped, and worked out beautifully with the 1x10 setup.

Borrowed from Chip, the Honey was the right tool for the job.
I also had the benefit on being drafted onto a team that I worked well with. My fellow Hupsters Mike, Mark, and Jay, helped to settle my nerves in the week leading up to the ride. While it was technically a "race", albeit a bandit one, we approached it in a more casual manner. We were there to help support Bikes not Bombs, and ride until our legs fell off. We all agreed to ride together, rest and eat as needed, and not blow ourselves up in the first half of the ride. This game plan was the right one for us, because the temperatures on Sunday were in the low 80's. We were wiped out at the finish, but we saw other teams that looked completely fried by the end.
Team Bryter Layter, ready to roll. L to R; Mike, Me, Jay, Mark
The scene at the Washington Square Tavern was a sight to behold. By my best estimate, there was $250,000 worth of bikes piled halfway down the block. It looked like a cx'ey version of critical mass, with around 135 riders chomping at the bit to start. There was a staggered start, with groups of anywhere from 4 to 6 teams, taking off at 5 min intervals. We had a mid pack starting time, taking off with one of the larger groups.

Mike had loaded the route onto his GPS, so he led us out. I didn't realize how big the group was until I looked back, and saw how many guys were following us down Beacon. Eventually, folks got a little impatient, and started blasting by us. We saw the lead group go flying off course almost immediately, heading the wrong way. We corrected our course, and were soon at Skyline Park. The first turn onto the grass hill looked like a scene from WW1, with 30 guys charging out of the trenches. Thankfully there were minimal casualties. In fact everyone was very courteous to each other, the only yelling I heard, could best be described as whoops of joy.

Once we were out of the woods, we drilled it towards Cutler. We took a little swing into a parking lot just before the park, following the styling ladies of the Hup/Pink Style. As it turned out, they just had a flat, but seemed to have it on lock down, so we continued on our way. Cutler was a blast, with bridges, fast single track, and even a few jumps at the pump track.  All of it was awesome until we hit the roots, and loose railroad ties, and then I remembered I wasn't on a mountain bike. Thankfully we made it out without any flats, and took a brief snack stop, before we hit the road to Needham Town Forest. It was there that I had the only flat of the whole day for our team. While I was changing my tube, multiple teams came barreling by us. I'd like to think that we did a nice job of heckling/cheering, but some of those guys were moving so fast, I don't even know if they even heard us.

2 hours in, we rode through Wellesley Square, and pulled over with several other teams to grab more water at the CVS. After that it was up the Cliff Road climb, where the teams we were riding with started to crack, and get strung out. Our team regrouped at the top, and then dropped down into the woods. We had a big forced run up near the Weston Reservoir. There were some jokes about it being a death march, but I was actually excited to have a reason to shoulder a bike for the first time in months.

Mike, still styling after the big climb.
Jay on the big run up.

The next notable section was the railroad bed. We got there at the same time as several other teams, so I kind of wrote off making an attempt at the Strava KOM in traffic. Even so, it was still a hot, dirty, dusty, painful little section. It hurt enough to make us pull over in the shade to take in some fluids, and food. I shoved a whole baked potato, and some Hammer gel in my face. I think I may have been the only person on the Ronde to gain weight through the course of the day. Mike, also smartly introduced the "Less" call out at this point. If the pace was feeling like too much, all a team member had to do, was say, "less" and we would adjust. No explanations needed. I think this saved us all from entering a dark, unhappy place. Just one more example of why I loved my team.

Hi, I just ate a potato.
Feeling strong, I decided to try for the Lincoln Rd. KOM right as we hit the start marker, and sprinted off down the gravel road. I had to outrigger a little through the first curve, and was moving at about 30mph, when I came to a split in the road. Of course I had no idea what direction I was supposed to go, so I just pulled up and waited. So much for the KOM. Looking back up the road, I saw the Mad Alchemy pain train coming up the road, and hopped on. I admired Pete's new Stoemper, and then pulled over and waited for the rest of the team. I apologized for my crazy attack, and off we went to Walden Pond. There was some route confusion, and we missed part of the trail, finding ourselves on Rt.2, riding up the sidewalk. Soon we were in more familiar territory for me, and rolled into Concord Center. 

There were a large number of riders at the water fountain in the town square. We caught up with some of our friends on how their rides were going. It sounded like there were almost as many routes taken up to this point, as there were teams. Once our bottles were topped off, we started jamming up the Concord-Bedford Rail bed. We took turns pulling along, and caught up to 2 other teams, before we made our way to the Col de Lex. Mike and I pushed each other on the climb, with him reaching the top first. After the down hill we ripped through some more trails near Lexington, that I didn't even realize were there. Then it was a lot of pace lining back to Boston. We got a little confused in Watertown, and the Burrito Men flew by us, with their Wattage Mule, Ryan Kelly. We tried to give chase, but gave up that notion pretty quickly when they started dropping watts like they were hot.  

Once we were back into Boston, we were all ready for the ride to be over, and drink some cold beer. Sadly we seemed to be caught behind every light, back to the tavern. When we finally arrived at the Washington Square Tavern, the scene looked even more chaotic than it had when we left almost 6 hours earlier. Thank goodness that the owner Gerry, was good enough to host our sweaty, spandex covered butts. The final tale of the tape had Team Bryter Layter; racking up 65 miles, with a moving time of 5hrs and 1 minute, one flat, dust aplenty, and loads of radness.

Our Belgian tan lines look good!

I would like to thank Rosey, Chip, and Matt A.; for putting together such a great course, rounding up sponsors, raising money for a good cause, and helping me to have one my best days ever on a bike. Special thanks to Gerry of Washington Square Tavern for hosting the madness. As for my team, I want to thank Mike for taking super long stints on the front, and his riding wisdom. Mark for his endless enthusiasm, and great attitude. Jay for his ready laugh, and calming presence. 

Rosey surveys what he has wrought upon Washington Square.

Post Race Observations:
The Good
-My fantastic teammates.
-Riding with all of my biking friends, and making new ones.
-Discovering all new places to ride.
-Hurting so good.

The Bad
-The only thing I can think of, is that these events don't happen often enough.