IgleBike by: Cary F. Photos by: Milliman

“It’s really about the ride. That’s what important to me. I mean, you can have all the cutouts and fancy details you want, but how does it ride?” –Chris Igleheart

Igleheart speaks the truth. Grams, centimeters, angles- the numbers in the catalog aren’t going to drive your bike through a rutted out off-camber hairpin. You don’t need carbon. Nor do you want to read about another bike that is “stable yet quick” or is “an extension of the rider.”

Quite simply, when it comes to ‘cross it’s ALL about the ride. It’s all about confidence in your bike, not some numbers. This bike gets it done in every way. Igleheart has been building CX bikes for regional elite riders for years and every season he refines the frameset to another level. I was instantly a better rider when I threw a leg over this bike. I’ve ridden many good carbon and aluminum ‘cross bikes and this bike just rides better. It really does beg to be ridden. I hope I can ride an Igleheart for the rest of my life. If you see me at the races and would to give it a try, please ask. Picking it up to feel how light it is- not a test ride!
Seeing the narrow, sexy steel tubes and walking on by because it’s not carbon is not a test ride. You will be shocked when you get on it.

UV EPIC A Retrospective by: Andreas Tanzer

Riding the UV.

Cool, but not cold yet.  These are the golden 8 weeks of summer when I ride without Mad Alchemy Embro or warmers.  It is 4:30am, just bright enough to forgo the lights.  About two hours time to ride before I have to be at work.  Rolling out of the driveway the sun comes up behind Moose Mountain, I see Mt. Ascutney across the Connecticut River Valley, fog covers the valley like a blanket.

Two miles to the first dirt road, aptly named Three Mile Road since it describes its length quite accurately.  This morning black bear road would have been a better description.  In the next few minutes I will see 5 bears enjoying themselves in the warming morning sun and munching on berries.   Just a few miles from here the Mad Alchemy Verge team had entered the final stretch of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Ride.  Memories of  Ryan’s encouring words come up, his quiet and supportive way, never letting you feel that the team would have been back for more than an hour if it would not be for me.  Or that that I had let the team astray in the midst of thunderstorms to ride an extra 8 miles on a 123 mile loop – supposedly being the local guide.  I pedal harder and decide to add a few hills en route – Thanks Ryan!  I am one hour into the ride and have yet to see a car.  As I pedal on the fresh gravel I am reminded how on this stretch Chris M. – outstanding photographer, team mate and organizer of the legendary Upper Valley Epic Rides – had double flated his tubulars while guiding locals and his Mad Alchemy Verge team through the spring epic.   My trusted GP 4seasons look a bit worn out, having held up well on several thousand miles of dirt road riding (and half a million feet of vertiacal gain) this year.  Somewhat reluctantly I turn back to get to work, it is one of those mornings where one just wishes to freeze time.  Heading towards Hanover, and after over 90 minutes to riding, I encounter the first car.  It trails me what seems to be 10 minutes, being overly careful not to pass on a curvy and hilly road.

Pedaling past the parked cars across the parking lot I check my garmin, 34.6 miles with 4380 ft. of elevation.  No matter how work will be, it’s already an awesome day.  Having lived in the Rhine valley where France, Germany and Switzerland meet, at the German-Dutch border and in New Zealand – there is no place like the Upper Valley to ride.  I get to ride out of my drive way and I am on roads where others come to ride on vacation – on my commute to work.

Night Weasels by: Cary Fridrich

“The Night Weasel Cameth in it’s best form- fast and wet. The environment there is always electric. From the American Classic trailer’s metal, to GLV’s green glow sticks, to Mo making her first Night Weasel appearance, to Ryan Kelly on the mic- we had it all. Nothing beats muddy off-cambers that you can’t see, guys bombing straight thru tape when the course is set for turns, and stacking it hard into uphill stairs. This really is one of the best courses in New England. You couldn’t wait to finish off the climb so you could feel the flow on the slalom back down. Racing under the lights still reminds me of playing baseball at night- it is great during the day, but the magic really happens at night. You let go of your vision and just feel the bike beneath you- easier on an Igleheart I suppose! Once again MAD was representing in all fields with nothing but inspiration. Already the legs are better than G-Star, the crossclash battles are lined up, the dog days of summer (or Texas) are over, and it is going to be nothing but fun for the next 2 months.”

 

TX to G-star. By; Cary Fridrich

“Flew into town early Saturday AM after scheduling a month long work trip around New England Worlds. While most were shaking out the cobwebs all September I was immersed in the rodeo culture of Fort Worth, Texas. Well, cowboy hats proved themselves superior headgear in the Gloucester rain and half the NECX didn’t recognize my new Texas style but they embraced the new cyclocross crazed cowboy fan. I ditched the belt and the boots for some Mad Alchemy and gave the races a shot. 55F was only 40 degress colder than my usual riding temp but the Gloucester courses are 2nd to none and it was only disappointment I couldn’t keep riding when Powers lapped me day 1 and Trebon on day 2. The equipment is getting dialed and with some hopeful speed in the legs the results will come. The MAD colors were all over the 1/2/3 35+ as N.E. sensation PVB raced with a baby on the way!”

 

Photos: David Chiu : http://kagl.com/portfolio/

Glostah By: Jordan Dube.

It wouldn’t be GP Gloucester if it wasn’t raining, so true to form, the skies opened up and poured on us. Saturday was cold, muddy and wet, Sunday colder, muddier, and wetter- just how cross season should be. Fortunately, the riders of MA/V were warm and water repellant thanks to our sweet team edition embro hook-ups.

The racing was fantastic as always, the crowd even better, despite the wind and rain. And Barry Wicks was there, so the radness factor was at an all time high on the east coast. My favorite moments include the look on Carl’s face when some dude tried to wrestle him over the barriers, scoping out the ambulance location for Pierre in case of “operation race baby,” and witnessing Cary’s hat, boots, belt buckle and Texas accent to complete the look.

I rode away from Gloucester with a smile on my face, and mud in my teeth, knowing I laid it all out on the course and had watched my teammates do the same.

Next Stop: Night Weasels

Race of the Newborn – By: Pierre Vanden Borre

Gloucester Saturday and Sunday and the due date of our first child Monday – OK, if all sticks to plan, everything should be great, perfect even. My wife was willing, excited even, for us to attend the cyclocross races about an hour away from our home in Boston, and encouraged me to register. With a forecast of rain and a muddy course on the docket, our plans for an easy in and out were out. Racing in the rain is easy, but prepping for racing in the rain can be really tricky, as is spectating a rainy cyclocross race when you are 40 weeks pregnant.

Erin, bless her, was still game and we rolled out to the venue with hospital bags packed in addition to a race bag. I found it kind of interesting how nervous I was about the races, which don’t matter for squat – save a safe start with 100+ guys charging up the tarmac. I mean, how could I be nervous about a bike race, when my wife and I have a life-altering event waiting on the horizon? I think it’s because I know how to be nervous about a bike race. I’ve been there before, it’s tangible and easy to focus on. I now know that it’s easier to panic about not having enough time to wash your bike after pre-riding a deeply muddy course, get warmed up on the trainer, embro up and chug some god awful taurine-laced energy shot in a last ditch effort at artificial fitness than it is to envision your wife bringing a baby into the world.

Turns out both days of Gloucester went down in near historical conditions and we’re still waiting for this rascal to come out. At least from my perspective, New England Worlds were a great distraction from the waiting game. And while cyclocross racing and child birthing may seem distant to each other, it doesn’t take a long walk through the parking lot to see how many people have come out of their warm homes to race bikes in the rain with their children. In this respect, Mad Alchemy’s very own Pete and Jan Smith have been an inspiration for many of my racing friends with young ones. Word has it that they were at a cyclocross race with their first born when she was a week old – the Verge Series opener Vermont if I remember correctly. Though, not to be outdone, several years later, Embrocation’s Colin Murphy tried to trump this feat when his wife and his 3 day old daughter arrived at the Wells Ave training crit, only to find it canceled that day. Now, Erin and I may have the best shot at bringing the youngest child to a cyclocross race as our due date lies smack in the middle of New England’s CX Holy Week with 6 races spread over the course of eleven days. But who knows where our heads will be once this boy arrives, probably not too focused on loading the car up for a cyclocross race.

The jestful race for newest newborn at a race aside, it’s heartwarming to see so many babies and kids at cyclocross races. Whether they’re bundled up newborns, toddlers playing in the mud, or youngsters in the kids race, it’s great to see families who’ve struck such a balance that involves an active lifestyle and the community that comes with it. Second after a healthy baby, Erin and I have our fingers crossed that we can manage both raising a baby and maintaining our connection with cyclocross racing and all those involved with it. Big advance thanks to all that are currently making that happen for themselves and setting such an inspirational example. 

Glawstah!!! – Carl “The Reglar-lator” Reglar

Race Report – Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester 45+

 

The cross gods were kind to Gloucester for the ‘Holy Week’ of New England cyclocross, they delivered just the right amount of rain, mud, and more rain.

 

Day 1

The 45+ field raced in the morning so our race was wet and slick, It dried up for the latter races. The temperatures weren’t too bad but the rain made it feel colder than it actually was. I Used the medium heat Mad Alchemy Embrocation on the legs which was perfect.  The mud wasn’t sticking to the bike so the course was still really fast; good legs and good skills would be needed to do well!

My skills are getting better mainly due to my new Rock Lobster – it’s by far the best cross bike I’ve ever ridden.

The start at Gloucester is always crazy and this year was no different. I did manage my best start to date but lost a few positions on the greasy corner before the first run-up.  Had a few battles during the race (which I mostly lost) and ended up in 12th place. I think the new course on day one was better than last years and the smiles on everyone’s face in the line for the Pedro’s bike wash right after the race certainly confirmed this. 

Day 2

Sunday was colder, wetter, muddier, and beautiful.  I got a great start and was pretty close to the front after the first lap. I just managed to latch on the group in front of me racing for 5thto 8th mid-way through the race and went down on a muddy corner. Almost caught them again on the last lap but ran out of gas, started to go backwards, and just held on for 9th place. Fitness is improving each week so looking forward to Providence! Apologies to all who witnessed the large amount of drool on my face, I didn’t know it was there.

Big thanks to Mad Alchemy, Rock Lobster, and Verge Sport for giving so much to the sport.

Great to see my Mad Alchemy/ Verge Rider Cooperative teammates: Good luck to everyone racing Night Weasels and see you in Providence.

Uh oh, fundo!

A calculated death march. 70% of my last 120 days consumed by air travel to/fro the bet was on how long I would last with the front group looking like I do before my step classes. Yes, there I said it, I take group fitness classes. I had moments of introspective weakness, moments where I rode alone for miles & miles, and moments riding with the #NECX community helping me gather my relevance to the Fundo ride when frankly I had no right riding it on no training. I had not ridden for almost 3 weeks heading into Saturday. Nadda, zip, not a seat on the saddle. Jumping into the course of Fun with no legs was a gamble. Ride for JPOW and his J.A.M fund, give to something one of the nicest guys in bike racing is passionate about, and ride with my Mad Alchemy brothers & sisters, easy to put myself into the funnel. The final zip line through the canopied woods descending almost 10 miles in the most gnarly dirt conditions, or choose the endless pitched climbs, no choice is wrong. My highlight of the day was not just the boss #NECX community that continues to delight me with their commitment to our unique culture, but most importantly the staying will power of my ride and the commitment of one rider to stick with me on my personal death march. DF a.k.a Solobreak rode the last 30 miles with me keeping my ‘fresh’ legs honest. Every one of us has had a moment when a rider, runner, friend, coach, loved one has propped us up to fight our internal demons and finish a task. My task demon at the Fundo was in the form of a #NECX masters racer and friend. Add in the #NECX, JPOW, J.A.M and my Mad Alchemy brother/sister hood…..bold the shit out of the FUN in the FUNdo…..(MattS)

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‘Sportifing By:PVB

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As we prepared to stage for the Berkshire Cycling Classic by sitting outside a coffee shop in downtown Lenox, we wondered how to tackle this ride. Do we race it? Do we ride it? We decided to line up at the back of the large horde of cyclists with wildly different levels of experience that had amassed to ride either 100 or 130 kilometers of the rolling roads of Western Massachusetts and see how things shook out. What kind of party was this? Well, it was a cyclosportif, and at that it was the only North American stop of the UCI World Cycling Tour. I’m sure if you asked each of the 300 or so participants what that was, you’d get 300 wildly different answers. Is it a recreational ride? Is it a race? Yes. Both Erik Zabel and a bearded fellow wearing jeans had UCI numbers pinned to a jersey and to a khaki jacket, respectively, so make of it what you will.

To add to the confusion, the ridiculously obvious statement, “This is not the Tour de France” kept being repeated over the PA. And while not the Tour de France, it seems worth noting this event was more like a Pro Tour race than anything else that I’ve ever done. UCI logos everywhere, Full on Mavic Support vehicles including motos, Erik Zabel, full road use for a portion of the event and even some round-about road furniture (I only wish they had dudes wearing orange jumpsuits and helmets waving flags side to side – not for safety, just for vibe). Seriously, this was amazingly well produced by Sparta Cycling.

The beginning was amazingly pleasant with improving weather and leisurely riding on fully closed roads. “Hey, this is a recreational ride, I can’t wait until we get to the omelet station at the first feed zone!” Though as things began to settle in, speeds picked up and the field was rolling on what felt like race pace. “Hey, this is a race, time to buckle down and slot into a better position!” And that’s the way it stayed, a sporting pace that would’ve sated even the most voracious racer-head – I mean, Erik Zabel was there to put you in your place if you got feisty. Josh Gunn who said he spent the better part of the day trying to decide if he was racing or riding his bike, summed up the dichotomy with, “That “dramatic tension,” if you will, was most apparent when Zabel attacked and I was at the back, just sort of dawdling and spacing out.” It ended up being a perfect mix of hard riding and fun cruising, sometimes simultaneously, and in the end you know it was a race because John Funk came in 2nd overall and Josh Gunn and David Wilcox both coming in 2nd in their respective age groups – all qualifying for the World Championship event in South Africa later this year.

Having been mainstays over in Europe, these types of events seem to be gaining traction here in the US with Gran Fondos and Gentlemen’s races popping up all over the country. In the words of Wilcox, “I’m glad we made the trip to Lenox and experienced the first of what will hopefully be a new type of organized ride that brings a diverse group of riders out to explore some beautiful roads and countryside.”

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Photos: Gage & Dephoto

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