Tag: Spidermonkey of the Week

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Vincent Calabro

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Vincent Calabro

Who is Vincent? Is he that guy that lives with Brandon? I thought Corbin lived with Brandon? What do you mean there are three people on the team who work with John Castro? Should we test JPC?

Vincent is the Spidermonkey formerly known as Brandon’s roommate.

JPC BH and VC

JPC, BHall and Vincent at the MS Ride

Ok I’m more than just Brandon’s former roommate and John’s co-worker, so here is my tale told through six bikes:

The Bright Red Raleigh:
I grew up on the fringes of Cleveland with two brothers. The first bike I remember having was a bright red Raleigh. My brothers and I spent countless hours riding bikes in circles on our driveway. When this got boring we played a form of dodgeball on bikes but instead of inflated balls we’d chuck buckeyes at the person whose turn it was to ride the gauntlet. Near the end of the summer, when the weeds next to our house were tall enough, we’d venture out with golf clubs to carve out what amounted to a kid’s version of a cyclocross course. We’d create winding paths with obstacles along the way. The most treacherous was a 1’x1’ pit with broken glass that we placed a board over. Oh the joys of unsupervised childhood.

The Mongoose:
When I was in my early teens I got a Mongoose BMX bike. The Mongoose is notable for only two reasons:

1 – I won it from a raffle at the local Dick’s Sporting Goods.
2 – I thought I was hot shit on that bike.

Therefore in an attempt to impress the girls who lived in my cul de sac I rode the bike as fast as I could down my hilly driveway and leaned to turn onto the street. Sadly the Mongoose had other plans. The tires gave out and I slid across the street. Road rash clearly got all the ladies knocking at my door.

Helmet Test

Helmet Test

Clueless

Clueless

The Bianchi:
When I was 20 years old I worked as an intern in New York City. I was young, poor and wanted to soak up every bit of the city. I determined to take the little money I saved and to buy a bike rather than a monthly Metrocard. This is when I discovered the LBS. I visited them all and I wanted all the bikes (I still do). In a hipster bike shop in the Meatpacking District I met my first love, the Bianchi Pista. It sang soulful opera to my Italian roots. I only realized after walking out to the streets of Manhattan that I had no idea what a track bike was or why my new bike didn’t have any breaks. But as John Castro always tells me, you ride what you have. I rode that bike everyday to work, rain or shine. Nights and weekends were spent sprinting through Time Square and through Central Park. I even rode it on some longer rides like the 5 Boro Ride and Montauk Century. That bike carried me through New York, Philadelphia, New Haven and now daily on the streets of Chicago.

The Allez:
So much hope! So much promise! Then it got stolen out of my basement in Philadelphia. Renter’s insurance is great, but I didn’t have it.

The Surly:
In 2009 I got accepted into graduate school for architecture. As a last hurrah, two of my friends and I decided to do a bike camp from Seattle to San Francisco, and thus the purchase of the Surly. The first three days of our trip, it just poured. If you ever want to learn about the kindness of people, show up soaking wet with all your stuff strapped to your bike. But as soon as we hit the coast it was some of the most beautiful riding and camping.

Gravel and bike camping on the Surly!

Gravel and bike camping on the Surly!

The Fuji:
This is the bike most of you have seen me on. I got this bike during a summer in graduate school. It had one great summer of riding and then sat longing to be ridden. Years passed and I moved from New Haven to San Francisco and finally to Chicago. That’s when I met John Castro. He brought me out to my first Saturday ride and from there I was hooked. I feel so lucky to be able to ride with a team full of such welcoming, friendly, funny and talented riders. The occasional free beer also helps.

Sadly in June I’m relocating to San Francisco with The Minjy (not a bike, a person, specifically my girlfriend). Other bikes might might come and go in my life but I’ll always be a Spidermonkey. Soon Spidermonkey Orange will grace the climbs of Marin County.

P.S.this is an open invitation to join me any time you’re out that way.

To quote the great Cal Naughton Jr. : “we go together like cocaine and waffles”

Vincent and Trenta MTB'ing

Vincent and Trenta MTB’ing

Spidermonkey of the Week – Drew Randall

Growing up I must have enjoyed riding my bike a lot because I still remember the bikes I had. My favorite bike of them all was a Huffy (nothing fancy, just a kid’s bike) with a neon green and purple paint job.

I still can remember barreling down the hill on my street with the wind whistling past my ears, then slamming on reverse pedal brake (if that’s the correct term) to peel-out as I arrived at my driveway just to see how far I could go. Not too far, maybe 2-feet…

Needless to say the excitement of biking wore off in middle school and completely vanished in high school. Soccer was a big part of that. I have played soccer since I was 6 and really haven’t stopped. I got the opportunity to play soccer at a small college in Kentucky, which was one of the best experiences of my life. This was partially due to the lifelong friends I met on the team. College soccer only lasted a year and, long story short, I moved to Louisville, KY to continue my studies at the University of Louisville.

Here I met the single reason I came to Chicago, my most amazing girlfriend Alina. We met during her senior year, my junior year, in the civil engineering program. It’s weird, right? Two engi-nerds. She pushed me to become more competitive outside of team sports. We started running together, because that’s what she did for fun, and well, it kept me in shape for soccer. Running short races led to running longer races (half-marathons), then to triathlons, which became a passion of mine for a short while.

My first 5-mile race with Alina and friends.

My first 5-mile race with Alina and friends.

My first Olympic distance triathlon.

My first Olympic distance triathlon.

Getting into triathlons required me to get a new bike, my first road bike to be exact. It was a KHS Flite 300, the same bike I still do my road biking on today. I remember the first day I got on the new bike, I was so shocked at how squirrelly the damn thing was. To my surprise, it didn’t take too long to tame the wild steed. This became my mode of transportation to and from school on good weather days.

A year later Alina graduated and moved to Chicago. The following year, 2011, I followed once I finished my degree (seems how it works for most guys). I already knew the long distance thing sucked!

Alina and me (Company Dinner)

Alina and me (Company Dinner)

Moving to Chicago with no friends, I initially spent a lot of time at work or doing my own thing (i.e., lifting weights or swimming). Alina introduced me to some of her running friends including Brian Feyereisen who became a good friend and cycling buddy.

In the summer of 2012, Brian and I started checking out Chicago cycling teams. The first team we rode with was super intense and not really my cup of tea. A couple weeks later Brian suggested that we check out the Spidermonkey’s because Megan Kuzydum (now Megan Feyereisen) had so many great things to say about them.

Needless to say that’s how it all started…….

Brian and me at the Spidermonkey End of the Year Bash 2012

Brian and me at the Spidermonkey End of the Year Bash 2012

I started riding with the Spidermonkey’s and after about three weeks or so, decided to take the plunge and become an official member. I felt that this team was the perfect match for my personality (fun, accepting, social, and driven) and I knew after joining the team things would only get better.

Anxious to start the 2013 season, I was hoping to bike 2,000 miles and try out cyclocross. I started chiseling the mileage off at our first ride of the year in March and tried to stay consistent. I went to Spidermonkey Training Camp in Galina, IL where I met a lot of new people on our team, and was able to find myself as a cyclist. In Kentucky the rolling hills never ended and I thought Galina hills would be just like good ol’ Kentucky hills. Boy was I wrong. The hills were RIDICULOUS. I remember two full days of having to pull every last once of energy to attempt to keep up with the team and summit each hill. As I look back on it, it was one of the best things I could have done to become a stronger rider.

In keeping up with my goals, I found a cyclocross bike through craigslist while visiting friends in Lafayette, IN. It didn’t take long to join the cyclocross practices and sign up for my first race partnered with Lindsey for the co-ed and Nate for the men’s race relay. With the first race I was hooked. I signed up for the race at Dan Ryan Woods and placed 12th in the 4/5’s race.

Team Sloppy Joes at Relay Cross

Dan Ryan Woods CX

Dan Ryan Woods CX

Next was the two-day race in Indian Hills and a weekend in the suburbs with the team. Saturday’s race went great as we tackled mud, wind, and rain and I came in 19th place. Sadly, a huge storm rolled through Sunday morning and all races were cancelled so I signed up for the Racin’ Basin in Melas, IL to make up for it. I finished the season at Montrose in the snowy cold. Or so I thought.

A friend talked me into one final, non-CCC race at Douglass Park, the After-Glow. This race was a true cyclocross event and we finished completely caked in mud. The mud made the course very slippery and challenging, but I managed to grab a few fire ball shots (hand-ups) along the way to keep my spirits up. To say the least, it’s been a great season and a great couple of years with the Monkeys and I can’t wait to get riding again!

Afterglow at Douglas Park

Spidermonkey (Alumni) of the Week – Matt Smith – There Will Be Poop

In a nod to that movie about drinking milkshakes, I’m going to name this guest SOTW article There Will Be Poop.  It’s a joke and a warning.  
I’m not really sure how someone who doesn’t even ride bikes is bestowed the honor of SOTW, but if you don’t make a stink neither will I (poop pun #1).  I started riding bikes in high school because I didn’t make the cut for the soccer team.  I was crushed, but were it not for that indignity (one of many), I never would have met Dean some 15 years later and eventually become a Spidermonkey.  More on the Mean Wiener later.
Mean Wiener calling Matt Phat.
In college, Chris (a riding buddy) and I went to Arizona in January for a little early season training.  We rode around on our own, doing stupid stuff like riding past Tortilla Flats (dirt roads) and passing cars on the descent of South Mountain.  Not satisfied with trying to kill ourselves, we called around bike shops looking for some cool group rides.  We passed some test that we didn’t even know we were taking on the second call, and the bike shop guy whispered in hushed tones, “Be at Globe at 7 on Saturday at the corner of such and such if you want to ride with Tony.”  We didn’t think it could be real…riding with Tony Rominger–winner of 4 grand tours and 3 tour stages.  But when we pulled up, he was there, and he was glorious.  He looked a little nervous when he saw us, but who can blame him?  We were a couple of amateurs who thought they could hang with the hour record holder.  Actually, as we would later find out, he was on vacation and not even training, and the team doctor had forbade him from going over 110 bpm or something.  However, Tony can ride at 109 bpm no-handed holding La Gazetta with his right hand and sipping a cappuccino with his left pinky faster than Chris and I can ride our bikes.  After getting shot out of a cannon.  Straight down off a cliff.  With a downwind.
So, after 75 miles or so of this 90-mile mountain death march, Tony sees a gas station and wants to stop.  We had been out of water and food for the last 50 miles, so yeah, we stopped too.  Now we are getting to the point of this story: I had to poop, and in the worst way.  Like, a had-to-poop-30-miles-ago-but-I’m-too-afraid-to-ask-this-man-who-doesn’t-sweat-or-breathe-while-riding-his-bike-at-9,000-mph-to-stop-so-I’ll-just-hold-itkind of poop.  So, imagine my relief when we stop!  We’ll refill our bottles.  We’ll peruse the fig newton aisle.  Maybe we’ll chat over muffins and coffee?   
No.  Tony strolls in, selects a Mountain Dew, and slams it.  Gets back on his bike.  Looks around.  Ready to leave.
I panic.  I can’t ask him to wait while I poop!  Now I have a choice to make.  Do I bum rush the bathroom and hope everything goes well (and super quick) and Tony doesn’t leave?  Or do I play it cool and try to limp in the last 20-25 miles, Tony never being the wiser?  I chose door #2.  Riding with Tony was like winning the lottery…I didn’t want to flush it all down the drain and get left behind!  I put on my best poker face and got on my bike, smiling on the outside, ready to explode on the inside.    
I didn’t make it very far.  I rode up to Chris and told him that I needed him to come back for me with the car.  Chris nodded.  He’d been briefed on the potential situation.  And just like that, I slid out of the back of the pack and crawled into the ditch on the side of the road at the base of a mountain in Arizona.  I will spare you the grisly details, but suffice to say that I discovered an alternate use for and now have a healthy respect for roadside litter.  For those of you just joining in, yes, I pooped in a ditch and wiped my ass with trash.
Yum.

On the bright side – when Chris got to the end of the ride Tony looked around and said, “Where’s Matt?”  Chris told him that I had stopped a ways back.  Tony turned around and pointed his bike back down the mountain.  Chris stopped him: “No Tony…I think we are going to need the car for this.”  Tony nodded with a knowing smile and then disappeared in a puff of white smoke.

Fast forward to 2005.  I hadn’t ridden for several years and had ballooned up to about 230. I decided to start riding again and found a group that rode from Higher Gear on Fullerton (R.I.P.).  This is where I first met Dean.  He would constantly tell me how fat I was.  He would say, “You’re fat!”  Dean was and is a real Mean Weenie.  My only goal in life was to drop Dean.  But, he motivated me to lose weight!  For that I thank him.
Dean always credits me with being a founder of Spidermonkeys.  Dean is very generous – we all talked about it but he put in all the work.  So…I’m glad I never made the soccer team.  I’m glad Dean told me I was fat.  Without all that I never would have had great Spidermonkey experiences, like the 2011 North Shore Century: 9,000 Flats Edition.  
Silver linings everywhere.
Living the High Life.

Spidermonkey of the Week – Anna Loosli

Wow, after reading the amazing posts by Kelly and Paul, I feel like I’ve got a lot to live up to! Many of you may not know me – I haven’t been on a lot of team rides this year and only got to know the Spidermonkeys at the end of last season – and between grad school and internships and work, I felt like I hardly had time to ride this year! I’m going to make up for it next year, though, so look out for me then! In the mean time, here’s a history of my relationship with two-wheeled transport.
First Bike. At the age of about 4 or 5 years, my older sister got a red and black BMX bike for her birthday; it was so bright and shiny I immediately determined I would get a bike of my own, even though I did not know how to ride. I got her hand-me-down, with training wheels, which I didn’t mind because they meant I could go wherever I wanted without fear of falling or knee scrapes! My sister was of a different mindset – and after having to ride around the park with me a few times she couldn’t handle the noise, and refused to ride anywhere with me again unless I took them off. My next bike memory is being pushed down a grassy hill – toward the street – by my sister.
            Hitting the Slopes. Luckily the story must have ended well, because the training wheels were never put back on, I didn’t wind up in the hospital, and my next major bike memory is getting a mountain bike in junior high. Red and black, like my sister’s old BMX, I think it was a Trek and it made one major, but memorable, excursion to the early June mud of Teton National Park before it got stolen. My best friend and I had decided we would simply strap our snowboards to our backpacks and ride our bikes up to the snowpack, hike, and ride down. We sadly overestimated our biking skills and never made it to the snowpack, let alone rode down it on snowboards!
            Many years later, working in Portland, OR, I decided it would be brilliant to get a new mountain bike so I could explore the major metropolitan forest preserve, and hopefully parts of Mt. Hood. I got to know Forest Park fairly well, but soon moved to the East Coast where the bike fell into disuse (pavement makes nubby tires sad), and I took the subway more often than wheels. New York was too much city for me, and being underground was claustrophobic, so I got myself a cheap steel frame off E-bay and began adventuring the main roads of Manhattan to get my adrenaline fix. Riding the streets of New York was amazing, so when I relocated to Chicago for grad school in 2009 the first major purchase I made was a little mixte commuter from Working Bikes. Once spring rolled around I got myself a road bike.
Road Bike. Mmmmmmm…  I knew absolutely nothing about bicycles when I bought that bike. I just knew I wanted it, and there were no mountains around so I had to find something to do with myself outdoors. Over my first summer in Chicago, we made friends. I rode my bike a LOT, and decided I would do the North Shore Century on it, just because. My bike was awesome. It needed to do something important!
I trained and rode alone most of the summer because I didn’t know anyone else I felt comfortable riding with. By the end of July, though, I was getting worried about the ride – I’d never done a century before. Were there rules to riding in a group? How would I know how to do it? How would I be able to keep going after mile 75? What if I crashed??
            After asking around with a couple of friends who raced, I found out about the Spidermonkeys, contacted Vanessa, and decided I would at least “try” to keep up during their last Saturday morning training ride before the century. I was slow. And I got dropped. But it’s a no-drop ride, so John was nice enough to hang back and try to coach me through the last mile or so to Highland Park, using terms I’d only heard on television and concepts I’d never applied to riding a bike before.  It was very kind, but it didn’t really help me get there any faster. I pretty much decided that even though I loved my new bike, maybe I needed more practice; maybe I wasn’t ready, or maybe I should just give up and do the century next year…
            But by the following Sunday, I had changed my mind back and figured I didn’t have anything to lose. I could always turn around at the metric century point, and I was determined to at least make an effort since it had been a goal all summer. I had no idea what to expect and didn’t even know anyone’s name, I just looked for the Spidermonkey jerseys in the parking lot and got up the courage to walk over and introduce myself. I asked if I could tag along, and never expected to keep up past the first rest point, let alone the entire ride. THANK YOU! To everyone who was so supportive! Vanessa, Dean, John, Kristi, Grace, Geoff (particularly when we got lost before the last checkpoint), and everyone else who rode with the group last year – I managed not only to keep up with the group that day, but LOVED it! It was way more fun than I ever expected and, even though I got dropped (before the last checkpoint) I managed to finish with some Spidermonkeys towing me along. In sneakers. And mountain bike shorts. (I do NOT recommend the latter, lesson learned!)
North Shore Century in Sneakers!

            Soon after the NSC, I signed up for VQ and got to train with everyone for several grueling weeks. I had no idea how hard it was going to be! Sadly, the VQ sessions ended midwinter, school took over my life, and the rest is history. Not quite… I did get inspired by Grace and Kristi on one of the girls’ rides to sign up for the Chicago Triathlon. Trent and Geoff held a (private) tri clinic with me that was a major help in setting up my transition space. Even though I trained with Team WILD (women inspiring life with diabetes), I tried to go on a few early morning rides to keep up appearances, which is how I wound up discussing cyclocross…

Chicago Triathlon!
            I didn’t even know what cyclocross was at the beginning of last year. Now, after two seasons riding a road bike I can’t believe I didn’t know about it before! I participated in the Half Acre clinic in September, on my old mountain bike from Portland, and decided it would maybe be fun. I wasn’t convinced. All that jumping on and off your bike, and carrying it? Mmmaybe not… But thanks to Kelly’s invites to practice, as well as the rest of the Spidermonkeys’ enthusiasm I decided to take my bike out to Sunrise Park – because it had rained and I had to ride a mountain bike. I was hoping it would be a benefit in the mud.
CX = Awesome!
It was. A little bit. More important, I realized I’d had a blast once I recovered from the gasping and burning sensations in my chest. I vowed to race again.
            A few weeks later, I hadn’t been back on my bike but I read about the Indian Lakes course and had been updated on all the Spidermonkey success and went ahead and registered. Note to self: do not race bikes (especially heavy mountain bikes – thanks for the reminders, Dean!) if you haven’t been practicing. Because I ended up deciding mid-race that I was NOT having fun. Once again, however, I felt great a little while later and was really sad I hadn’t tried harder. That may be my mot