Thursday, November 29, 2012

Snow birds

The week after Thanksgiving used to mark the beginning ski season for me and my family.  This was before divorce in 2004 but this time of year still reminds me of these things and I get that familiar feeling now.  Preparing for a season of alpine competition is a fairly big undertaking, ski/board fitting is every bit as complex as bike fitting and with three growing kids in three different disciplines, downhill, freestyle &boarder X it extrapolates. Even though I still think about what the kids will need I'm no longer involved on that level with them in this way, regrettably...its complicated.  But anyway, I still think about what they'll be using and stuff like that.

The weeks leading up to Ski season were similar in a lot of ways to this time of year for riding. Competitive alpiner's and bike riders need to be totally dialed in and in full flow by December.  In ski racing for instance most of the really serious kids (11-16yrs) have been on snow all summer in Chile or Mt Snow or in dry land training camps regionally or both so that by December they're rippin it.

I think/opinion that sixteen is about the cut off age for most of the uber serious kids for training at this level.  Most of them have been on boards since 2-3 years old and if they haven't shown they have what it takes by 15 yr to get a shot at development national team (D-Team) they sort of realign their goals and back off training a bunch.  Most of them still have a shot at Div 2 or maybe Div 1 college so that's still pretty good.  I always liked to say that until 16 years old, success for kids in skiing/boarding was all bout access to training and equipment ($$ thanks mom & dad) but after that the true athletes 'show themselves' and the sport thins out like no other.  It's kind of sad to watch the parents get all unglued over this.  I always thought the kids handled it way better than the parents.  Vicarious living through your kids can kick you in the teeth and alpine parents are the by far the worst in my opinion.  The bottom line is that by 15 yrs old the drop out rate in ski racing and boarding is a cliff dive.  Anyway I've been thinking about these things because of this time of year and this picture taken last week in Waterville Valley, NH.

These are my kids; Anna (15), Luke (18 tomorrow) and Stephen (21) with their Grandpa Hawes the opening week of the season which marks the beginning of the next five and a half months of downhill snow sports.  Anna is a ripper alpine racer, solid at everything but especially GS and super G.  She tracks at the top of NE & Nat'l level.  Luke is a freestyle skier & works with a budding freestyle production company based in Waterville Valley.  Stephen still competes regionally and nationally in boarder X and coaches.

So as the snow birds gear up for their season, so do we... the bike roadies.  I wouldn't say either of us are putting war paint on yet but I reckon it's fair to say that we're out there picking the berry's for it. Should be fun.       Peace and roll strong. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

No holding back.

What an awesome weekend.  Two solid weeks of training parenthesized by two great training weekends with Keith and Brad.  Such good stuff it is be unencumbered by the energy of new surroundings and outlooks.  I feel like the last couple of years have been such a grind, a bloody test of survival I wasn't sure I could continue fighting.  I don't mean to minimize the tragedy in other people's lives that exceed my own but that having been said this doesn't mean my experience wasn't devastating and trans formative because it was.


There were times when I knew I was fighting for my life.  I hope I never lose that feeling because it's taught me to appreciate my true friends and also appreciate the fortitude within myself even more because it literally carried me through the mayhem when there was nothing else to rely on.  It's not the way I'd recommend building authentic levels of self confidence but I reckon there are just a few things that build it any better.  Much growth happens in a battlefield if you make it anyway that chapter is in the past but I have all the lessons, which is how it should be.

So now going forward there are many moving parts; a new home and community to get to know better and a new ride with the TIME Team and a continued push at work..all of these are keeping things in high gear; and to be fair, have also forced me to realign stuff a bit.  My focus is one thing.  It's been streamlined and accelerated and I've also reset my expectations.  The timing is right for all these changes in my life so these are meaningful opportunities I don't want to squander.  But in their mist there has also been a process of getting use to my new surroundings and a new mind set wrapped around everything that has been and still is interesting to me.

With V-Neck in Boston Garden last weekend

My new place for instance is a significant downsize and simplification.  My life is mobile and nimble now so it makes no sense for me to acquire and build into a space when things are in forward flow.   It goes against my instincts to do it like this but I'm looking for a different result and doing things within my comfort zone may have been the cause for the mine field of the last few years.  In any event I know for sure that I am looking to build different things.

In planning my move my objectives were pretty clear, .....location, lifestyle and access.  Whats that saying?  'Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail'.   I planned and designed this move just as I wanted it.  So while it's smaller and simpler, it's incredible centric and efficient for my very active lifestyle and requires zero maintenance and is super comfortable if not even a tad snooty.   Eh, there's a little bit of the princess thing in all of us, no?

But even with all its ease and stuff, it's still taken me some time to get grooved into things.  It's kinda weird to say but at first it was like things were too easy and too convenient.  Literally 'everything' I need and much of what I like is within 150 yards of my place and everything else can be accessed by the commuter rail 50 yards away.  The airport and downtown Boston are just 30 minutes from my couch on a wifi-train.  It's pretty sick so I've been dashing about doing this and that just checking stuff out.  But I'm use to it now, have the rhythm and I feel super solid like it's my own space.  Location location, location, 3 rules of real estate.   Ah and the best part of all,  I have more time and get to ride more.

Peace and roll strong.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Team 2013

I woke up this morning thinking about the really good positional changes in my life recently.  None of them happened by accident but I'm still kind of amazed at how closely they are to what I envisioned and had hoped for.

A couple of days ago I mentioned moving from Harvard to Concord.  I've been here for 10 days and its been great so far.  I guess the biggest affect is being in the reality of new energy and metaphysical changes that I was looking for versus just having the idea of them in my head.  I feel better here.  

Adding to all that good, came even more yesterday when the roster for the TIME - Velo Pasadena Team (formally TIME -Factory Team) came out and my name was on it.  I've known about this for a month or so but didn't say too much because, you know....sometimes it just means more when you see it in black and white.

So yeah, I'm beyond stoked.  The team is based in So.Cal (Santa Barbara) with most of the riders based there but it also includes Todd Littlehales in Portland Oregon and myself here in Boston.  I'm one of the 'older' guys and may also be the weakest but on this team that doesn't mean I suck.  Pretty much everyone is either a current National Champion or has been one at some point, and or a former 'legit' it's like that.  I'm quite fortunate and motivated.

This winter will be loaded with epic Valhalla winter training rides with my incredible amazing friends Kelrock -Keith Kelly, V-neck -Brad Warren and Luch.

...and other rider buds like;  Uknowulovett -Matt Lovett, Tread -Derek Tredwell, Dean Phillips, Tim Mitchell, Justin Spinelli and others I am sure I have missed here but not forgotten.  That sounded like roll call.  Must be time to harden the fuck up.

Peace and roll strong.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New home, new season

About a month ago I mentioned moving to Concord, MA.  Well that all happened last week.  I'm into my new place now and totally relieved.  Moving is a lot of work and stress.  Glad its over and I feel fortunate to be where I am.  It's really nice to be living in town (so to speak) again.  I'm only a few miles from work and just a short walk from everything else including Ata Cycles, Main Street and Monument Sq. which is a major meeting spot for most, if not all, the better rides in these parts.

Riding from Concord isn't all that much different from living in Harvard.  The roads are all pretty much the same.  You start everything 17 miles further east but they're mostly the same.  There are a few more ride options here though because Concord has better access to roads down south in Dover and also to great roads up in the North Shore as well.

I was going to wait until December to start training harder again but the weather has been great and I'm excited about the season I started early, and as chance would have it The Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington has partnered with the Harvard General Store to where 'The General' now carries bike stuff; mostly patch kits, water bottles and winter extras like arm and leg warmers, all branded with Ride Studio.  It's a good partnering and to kick things off the Ride Studio and General organized and sponsored a large group ride from "The General' on Saturday.  I'd say there were around one hundred riders, all totaled.

In The General with new friends, Patria, Neil and etc,
The event was well organized.  They put together three separate group rides (harder, semi and easier) each having its own route.  Each group also had a designated leader and Que sheet.  After the ride 'The General' catered chili and coffee for everyone and it was nice getting to know new people from all over the place.  My group did about 30-35 miles in and around Harvard.  I know all the roads out there really well and I'm pretty sure this route went up every steep climb, which is to say maybe ten or so hard efforts.

On Sunday I rode with Brad (V-neck) Warren from my place up to Gulu Gulu cafe in Salem.  The ride from Concord to there normally takes about two and a quarter hours but it took us over three this time because I was day dreaming or something and got us off track.  I've ridden up there at least a dozen times and know the route well but for some reason I just lost my bearings.  Funny?  I think it was probably because I'm so use to heading that way from much further west.

Lunch break at Gulu
Anyway, once we arrived at Gulu Gulu it was it's normal awesome place.  We had sandwiches, desert, and coffee. Gulu has a great selection of IPA so I tried one just to say I'd had one but I don't recommend it for training or plan on doing it again.  By the time we headed home it was after 3:00pm and daylight was already beginning to wane.  It gets dark around here at 4:45pm these days so we rode pretty hard for about an hour and a half to make sure we were close to home before dark.  My legs really hurt on the way home too, especially the last hour.  It makes sense though because it's been about two months since I rode more than two hours and we rode five hours straight out of the gate.  That's probably too much too soon but what the heck it was 60 degrees and sometimes you just have to roll to roll.

We had a lunch break in there too so that made it easier.  Having said that, five hours is still a lot more time in the saddle than my body is used to right now, especially after riding hard on Saturday.  All in all it was a solid weekend of riding, for me anyway, and basically the start of season 2013.  Here we go again.

Peace and roll strong.