Category: cx

Spidermonkey Spotlight – Sach Diwan

If at first you get dropped, try, try again.

coverI was born in Pune in the western Indian state of Maharashtra (not far from the state capital known back then as Bombay). My folks were cancer researchers and we ended up moving to (of all places) Bar Harbor, Maine. Yes from India to Maine …talk about culture shock! Luckily my brother and I were toddlers so it was easy to adapt. Some of my earliest memories were watching Boston Bruins hockey, the Lawrence Welk show and Capital Wrestling (now WWE). Trust me there wasn’t much else to do during the Maine winters in the early 1970’s.

When I was 7 we moved to Virginia. I remember getting my first Banana Seat Schwinn and riding it to the mall every day to play video games with my friends.

Fast forward to the mid 90’s for my first group rides. I was living in Kansas City at the time and joined a local bike group. I loved getting out of the city especially the ride out to Leavenworth and experiencing the big sky sunsets. When I first moved to Chicago in the late 90’s I did a little group riding but nothing significant. A few year later I found myself living in Hyde Park in an old fixer upper Victorian, with a wife and two kids … so riding gave way to diapers and Teletubbies.

I took up riding again about 5 years ago when I signed up for the North Shore Century with Team in Training. That was a great experience and rekindled my love for group rides.

WNR sometime in 2014

WNR sometime in 2014

My 1st time with Spidermonkey Cycling (SMC) … while everyone remembers their first time, it often does not go as expected. Such was the case with my first SMC ride. I was looking for a local group ride and found the SMC link on the Roscoe Village Cycles website. Feeling a little cocky (and fresh off my triumphant race at Steelhead 1/2 Ironman) I came out to a Wednesday night ride. Even though it’s a team ride, Dean must have taken pity on me and let me try.

Yeah, not such a great outing.  Epic fail is probably a more fitting description, as I dropped off about 1/3 of the way along the route.  Lucky for me, one of the ladies decided to drop off as well (I think she wasn’t feeling well). She took pity on me and showed me the ropes and encouraged me to keep coming out. In hindsight I’m 99% sure that was Michelle Moore. We managed to meet up with the rest of the group for beer and Doritos.

My first Cyclocross Race

My first Cyclocross Race

While some people would get discouraged and give up, not me … I’m way too stupid! After that first experience I was hooked. Due to working in the suburbs, I’ve only come out to a few WNRs, but now that I’m working downtown I plan to come out a lot more next year.

Some of my favorite SMC moments have been the brewery ride to Two Brothers (especially the ride through the west side), the MS Rides, and my first cyclecross race.

My first MS Ride

My first MS Ride

The past two years I’ve been largely MIA because I’ve been training for Ironman Wisconsin. After successfully completing the challenging course twice, I’m done with triathlons and want to get back to SMC rides. When I’m not running, riding or doing triathlons, I have two teenage daughters, Sarita and Sonali who are my pride and joy.

IMOO 2015

IMOO 2015

My Boos

My Boos



Spidermonkey Spotlight – Brandon Hall

I stood in the parking lot of Big Shark Bikes in St. Louis at 7 am on a Saturday. I had my vans, athletic shorts, a white tee shirt and my Schwinn World Tour Bike at my side. This was my first group ride. Surrounded by everyone in cycling clothes, kits, and carbon bikes, 40 miles lay in front of us. 5 miles later, despite some well needed pushes from other riders I couldn’t keep up on the false flat heading out of town. The summer of 2009 was full of learning experiences – learning to ride in a group, learning to clip in and out of pedals (I still have the scar to prove it), and learning that with my Schwinn I needed to carry two 16 mm wrenches to change a flat (one SOS call later). Still, there was something amazing about being on that bike and riding in a group – I was hooked.

My graduation present from College was my first real road bike – a Cannondale Caad 9. I also moved to Connecticut to start Grad School… So the transition from the rather flattish Midwest to hilly Connecticut was a big adjustment. While my fitness wasn’t great during my time at school I appreciated the escape from school and the ability to be on good riding roads within 5 minutes. There, a classmate also told me about an organization called Bike and Build. I did some fundraising and spent 2 weeks during the summer after my first year of grad school riding up the East Coast stopping along the way to work at build sites in 3 different cities.

Bike and Build

Bike and Build

I subsequently took the year off school and took my bike to Denmark. I really enjoyed the bike infrastructure throughout Copenhagen and throughout the country, as two friends and I spent three days riding West – from Copenhagen to Esbjerg on the Western Coast.  During my time in Denmark I also had the opportunity to ride in Majorca and in Switzerland, which were both incredible in different ways.

Coming back to school I started getting more involved with the cycling team and tried my hand in a couple of crits and a time trial. While I learned that getting into shape for the March collegiate racing scene was impossible for me, I enjoyed the adrenaline that comes from racing.

Trying out a crit race

Trying out a crit race



Moving back to Chicago my coworker John Castro convinced me to go for a ride with him, and promptly had me suffering and holding him back. I still do that now, but his encouragement led me to start riding the Spidermonkey Saturday ride and eventually join the team. I appreciate the way the team rides – safe and steady, and have really enjoyed getting to know such a fun and passionate group of people.

Last season I started racing cyclocross, and was immediately hooked. This season I’m looking forward to competing in most of the Chicago Cross Cup, as well as TrekCX and Jingle Cross. In the meantime, this season I have eaten donuts at Pastry Brest Pastry, gotten Grumpy at the Grumpy Grind, struggled through the Alpine Valley WORS Race, persevered through the Lumberjack 100, met my limit at the Leadville Stage Race, and sweat through Relay Cross, all with my SMC teammates at my side.

I <3 CX

I <3 CX

Leadville Stage Race

Leadville Stage Race

Grumpy Grind

Grumpy Grind

When not on a bike I can be found shopping for bike parts, drinking beer, dreaming of the next race, or working on the Wanda Vista Tower.  CAW CAW


Montrose Big Marsh Fundraising – Do It!

#PutARingOnIt #BuildBigMarsh

#PutARingOnIt #BuildBigMarsh

#PutARingOnIt to win at Big Marsh – Spidermonkey Cycling is challenging ALL Chi Cross Cup teams to put your money where your heart is to build Big Marsh!

Spidermonkey Cycling invites all teams to compete for donor rings and bragging rights – and an exclusive party at SRAM – by raising the most money as a team by December 6’s state championships to build the park at Big Marsh.

The contest starts TODAY. To enter, go to and register your cross team. Add your team members, then use your personalized fundraising page and e-mail tools to ask your fellow crossers, your friends, your training partners to support the park with a donation. You can watch your progress and check in on other teams.

Raise $500, and your team gets its own permanent donor chain ring installed on the donor wall at Big Marsh. Raise $1500, and your team receives a larger donor ring for display. Raise the most money of any team, and enjoy an exclusive team party at SRAM’s new headquarters!

Rings are also available for individuals giving $500 or more. For more information, contact Get the hole shot – sign your team up at today!

Spidermonkey of the Week – Ian Hughes

I would like to start off by saying I am absolutely thrilled and honored to be the Spidermonkey of the Week!  While I have always been what I thought was a huge cycling advocate, my love affair with bikes is only in its infancy when compared to everyone else on the team.  I now know that I have only just seen the tip of the iceberg and that by drinking the Spidermonkey Kool-Aid, I am opening up the floodgates to all things awesome.  I have been absolutely humbled through my experiences with those of you I have met so far on the team, and have been deeply inspired in reading all of the other SOTW posts.  Because of you, my goal for 2015 is to become a stronger and more skilled rider and make you all as proud of me as I am to be a Spidermonkey!

That being said, here’s a little about the guy that may be sucking your wheel at the start of this year’s rides.  I was born in New Mexico and bounced around between there, Texas, Ohio, and Los Angeles before moving back to Ohio for college and my first grown-up job in Cleveland.  As with most kids, bikes were a big part of my life growing up but two memories vividly stand out- learning how to ride and going on bike tours with my parents.  My Grandma Joan sat me on my first bike that I received for a Christmas present in Las Cruces, NM and literally shoved me down a hill repeatedly until I could stay on without falling.  Fortunately I got the hang of it before I ended up breaking something!  As for the bike tours, they became a family tradition while I was in grade school after my parents got into riding.  They started bringing me along on 20+ mile country rides around Carey and Columbus, Ohio and it always made for awesome family time.

Ian Hughes Picture 1  Ian Hughes Picture 2

Six years ago I moved to Chicago (chasing my then girlfriend, now wife, Kelly) and left behind my beloved Ohio after 13 years of fun.  When I first got here, I absolutely hated it.  I found myself very frustrated with the noise, concrete everywhere, seeming lack of outdoor opportunities, and most of all the traffic.  For sanity’s sake I stopped driving, took to public transportation and that made things a little better, but after 2 years I was completely over it.  In the spring of 2011, I finally had a moment of clarity while we were sitting in a mess of rush hour traffic in our car- a small group of cyclists effortlessly cruised past us with smiles on their faces.  I wanted (and needed) that freedom and happiness, and later that week I bought a bicycle and took to the streets.

Ian Hughes Picture 3

What started off as a means of getting to and from work quickly turned into my escape from all of the things I didn’t like about Chicago.  All of a sudden I was happier, healthier, and felt a meaningful tie to the concrete, traffic, and noise that used to drive me crazy.  These feelings grew deeper when I began bike commuting year round and really learned to appreciate everything that all of the four seasons throw at us.  The only problem I came across was that my commute was only 6 miles each way, and I wanted more!

Ian Hughes Picture 4      Ian Hughes Picture 5

When I left my job as an Environmental Consultant and went to work for Goose Island Beer Company three years ago, I had the unique opportunity to take this newly found passion and grow it further through sharing it with my new coworkers.  Goose Island was already a strong advocate in the Chicago biking community through supporting the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago Bike to Work Week, and of course sponsoring the Spidermonkeys, but we had some opportunities for improvement internally.  In the last three years the Green Goose team and I have made some great accomplishments to encourage our employees to ride- we started the Honking Peloton (once a month we ride to a local brewery), improved onsite bike storage, purchased maintenance supplies, and started offering employee tune up days.  Our efforts have resulted in an increase in bike commuting and have also led to Goose Island receiving a Bicycle Friendly Business Silver Award through the League of American Bicyclists.

Ian Hughes Picture 6

Ian Hughes Picture 7     Ian Hughes Picture 8

It was only a matter of time until I got to meet several Spidermonkeys at a dock party and a few other Goose Island beer release parties.  At one of these events (after geeking out over a few beers of course) I received a challenge from Fred Wu to come join the team for a Saturday ride.  Once I realized that there weren’t any Geese currently riding with the Spidermonkeys, I knew I needed to accept the challenge, represent the brewery, and roll with the team up to Highland Park.  After one ride, followed by a delicious gyros sandwich at Budacki’s, I was hooked!  Despite a busy travel schedule for work I managed to hit several other rides last year including a couple treks to Willow Springs and a very ‘spirited’ Wednesday night ride.  I am looking very forward to being even more involved this year, riding my first century, and diving into my first CX race this fall- hopefully I won’t be riding in Fred’s Divvy bike basket!  Here’s to all of you and here’s to a great year with Spidermonkeys! Cheers!

Montrose Cyclocross State Championship Photos

What an exciting weekend of racing! Our very own, Paul Decker was out at Montrose taking pictures and got some excellent shots. Paul is also our team’s best fundraiser. He had a great idea – if you see a picture that you like, make a donation of any size to our Bike MS page, and we’ll send you a high resolution version of that photo!

Just in time for the holidays, too.



Cat 2/3/4 Non Championship

Women’s Cat 4


Masters 40+

Masters 30+

Women’s Cat 1/2/3


CAT 1/2/3

Cat 4

Cat 4/5





Cracking the Code: Tim Johnson’s Cyclocross Secrets

Tim JohnsonSpidermonkey Cycling presents – Cracking the Code: Tim Johnson’s Cyclocross Secrets

Saturday, August 24
Chicago (exact location coming soon)

Learn intermediate and advanced skills from 3-time cyclocross national champion and last year’s top American at the World Championships Tim Johnson. With curriculum designed by USAC coach and former pro Pete Webber there will be two tracks: a 3-hour version for those newer to racing (i.e. Cat. 4 at least one year) and an all-day more advanced clinic working on things such as high-speed cornering and bike handling.

  • Beginner (i.e. Cat 4s with at least a season of racing): 9:00 am – Noon, $75
  • Intermediate/Advanced (i.e. Cat 3s and above) 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, $175

Both tracks will include sweet schwag bags and giveaways as well as drinks. All-day clinic also includes lunch. And this being a Spidermonkey event there is a strong possibility of cracking open a 312 with TJ at the end of the day. Each track is capped at 30 participants so sign-up sooner rather than later.

More information and registration.

(Rumor has it that the two are considering racing a certain Relay Cross the next day.)

Barry Roubaix Race Report

Kristi getting on the podium (5th in her age group)!

by Kristi Hanson:
Going into Barry Roubaix, I really had no expectations since we had just gotten off 5 days of pretty hard riding in Vegas. On the ride up, I was actually talking with Melissa (MK), my stellar travel buddy, about how I was a little worried my legs would not hold up and all I wanted to do was stay upright, put forth a hard effort, and see where I landed.

I will admit however, in the back of my mind, I knew this was the first real test for me after putting in some pretty grueling hours on the trainer over the winter. I was hoping it would play in my favor but tried not to think about it too much.

When we woke up my stomach was pretty shaky. My first thought was REALLY AGAIN on race day!! Just once I want to wake up and not have any issues. However the reality is, I think my nerves get the best of me and my stomach is not made of steel so I am just going to have to deal. Second thought was SWEET, I still have at least 2 hours for this to play out!!

We got to the park, checked in, and still had some time to kill so MK and I just hung out in the car for a while. Best thing about MK being my travel buddy as we laugh a lot over stupid things so being with her is the best distraction pre-race!! Also on a positive note, my stomach started to feel better so I knew we were heading in a good direction.

When 9am hit, it was go time. Got the bikes ready, hit up the porta, and went out for a warm up ride. I followed the course so I would know a little of what I was getting myself into. First 4 miles were pavement and then the gravel started. I have ridden gravel roads quite a bit up at my family’s cabin and on the trails in Minneapolis. However, this gravel way less matted down and so it was going to be critical to pick a good line (i.e., where the car tires usually ride) and do my best not to get scared on the descents.

During the warm up, I knew things were going to be better than expected. My legs felt unusually good and I was able to climb the hills like a champ.

People started lining up pretty early since like cross it was a mass start. Difference for this race is the waves were not by category. Instead they were by distance and age. Positive of this is you could really work with anyone on the course. I was in the third wave and unfortunately because of a necessary last minute porta stop I was pretty far in the back of the wave. I knew however, I had 4 miles of pavement to move myself up.

When our wave went off, I just continued to find holes to move up in the pack and before I knew it I was towards the front where I wanted to be. When we hit the gravel the front group was broken in two and I was in the second. Those boys were just way too fast for me especially with all the climbing that was happening. In addition, at this point we had started to catch the slower group of the wave before us so there was a lot of movement for position. I just kept telling myself breathe and be smart but aggressive. You deserve the good line just as much as the guys do!! Being in only girl’s races the last few years, I forget how aggressive boys can be :-).

The next big section where things got broken up was when we hit the double track; aka about a two mile long cyclocross course. For the most part I rode this entire section except for one little part that was just way too sandy. Thank goodness for all the cyclocross racing!! It was a big help and allowed me to make up quite a bit of time so much so that I was sort of by myself until the half way point.

I really had no idea at this point where I was in the race. Was I still up front?? How many girls were in front of me?? In my head, I was convinced that Sandra and Jessica from XXX and Karin had to be in front of me. There was no way they were behind me.

At this point, I was feeling pretty beat up!! I actually thought about giving up and it was right at that moment that my Spidermonkey teammate, Sarah Rice, showed up. She was my first push of motivation. Sarah and I worked together for a good 5 or so miles. She would pull me on the flats and I would pull her up the hills. Our relationship works really well this way!! More importantly it allowed me just enough rest and company to get back in the game. Unfortunately, this teamwork came to an end when Sarah dropped her chain. She gave me one look and said “go, go” so I went. I grabbed a guy’s wheel in front of me and we rode on for another few miles together taking turns pulling and passing lots of people.

It was after these few miles that my second push of motivation came. There was a big pack of I am going to call the 40 year guy group with three women; Sandra from XXX, a girl on a fat bike (who was amazing), and a girl on a mountain bike. It was at this moment that I realized I was out front. I was really in this and had to push hard until the end. I grabbed onto this group and gave it everything I had to stay with them. Pushed up every climb and let my fears go on every descent!!! Only two of the girls stayed with us and we picked up another on the way. In addition, we had a very scary moment when we had to make a sharp left turn after a steep descent that was not well marked. I thought for sure I was going down or someone was going to run into me but we all made it through upright on two wheels. Talk about a group of bikers that knew how to handle their bikes. Pretty sweet!!

Everything was swimming along until we hit the second section of double track. Almost all of this section was not rideable so we all got off and ran. I did whatever I could to stay with the two girls not on the fat bike, yes she rode the entire thing, and I managed through the run but when we got back on our bikes their technical skills were just way better than mine. Pretty awesome actually!! In this section, I also took on large puddles for the first time in my life. I just trusted that the guy before me got through so I took the same line and had success as well. Fear overcome!!

At the end of the second technical section, it turned to pavement and stayed that way for the rest of the race. I was all alone again, but pushed as hard as I could because I knew the two girls were not too far in front of me. It was tough to keep pushing but then motivation push number 3 came. Yep, the 40 year old guy group showed up again and I grabbed on; held on for dear life until we got back. It was at about a mile out that one of the guys says to me “we must be towards the finish people are getting swirly”. I say back “Yep we are close”. He says “Are you getting in on this sprint?” and I say “what for? I am the only girl in the group. All I get is seconds. Not worth the risk.” He says “SMART”.

We all finish together and they congratulate me for hanging on with the OLD GUYS!! This was by far the HARDEST 36 miles I have ever ridden and the 40 year old guy group pushed me hard.

At the end, I knew the race had gone well but still was not entirely sure where I finished. I had to stop myself from thinking about it because the first goal was to spin out my legs and then get in warm clothes. This was interrupted however, when I saw Peter and decided a 312 was a better idea!! Thanks to Fred for bringing them along; it was the perfect post race beverage :-)

Once I got on warm clothes, we checked the race results and I was shocked that I pulled off a 5th place finish in my age group out of 35 and had beaten all of the girls in Chicago in my age group. Sarah was not far off in 7th and if it wasn’t for the chain issue, she probably would have taken me.

It was my first podium in a really long time and felt great!! I was pretty excited all the grueling trainer rides paid off.

The sweeter moment however, happened the day after the race when Katie and her accounting skills realized I was 9th overall out of 77 and 1st of all the girls from Chicago in the 36 miler!! Pretty awesome day and could not have been accomplished it without all of the support from my family, friends, and the Spidermonkeys. You guys rock!!


Dave gets on the podium too (4th in his age group)!

Some additional comments and/or words of wisdom:
Geoff P. – “I shouldn’t have made that left turn at Albuquerque” and “Nothing like riding 67mi for a 62mi race”

Hayes S. – “You know you’re bonking when you’re letting a pugsley take a pull on the pavement heading into the park”

David L. – “Hell apparently has 62 miles of mist, wet sand, gravel and ruts. I love hell.”

Pete M. – What I learned: the importance of checking your tire pressure before you start warming up for a race.  My tagline: “Who the hell is Barry?”

Spidermonkey Official Participant List:
PJ Cavoto
Kelly Clarke
Dave Cushman
Kristi Hanson
Eric Landhal
Karin Langer
David Loring
Peter Monko
Geoff Pomerantz
Sarah Rice
Hayes Sanborn
Fred Wu

Congratulations to everyone who raced!

Bartlett CX Men’s 4B Race Report

Here’s my race report from Bartlett:

The start was good, of the top ten call-ups there were only 3 or 4 (including Dave Cushman) so Jake and I were second row. The start was a long left leaning straight but then going into a hard right turn, when the whistle went I stayed to the left and was in a good position going through the first turn. I could see Cushman and Bryan Lee (Pony Shop) ahead of me and a couple of others. After the first set of barriers I was maybe top five. On the flats and straightaways I was getting passed right and left, Ben from xXx, Pegasus, Tati and then Jake flies by me. Coming out of the first woods section I got passed by two more and that was pretty much it for the rest of the race holding steady at 15th. Eventually I get caught by two more, but hang on to their wheels. Near the end of the 3rd lap before the climb I started psyching myself up for a strong finish (thinking back to the Supermax test) and passed the two guys I was tailing in the turns before the climb and started my sprint on the long straight going into the climb. I make it through the yelling and screaming of the crowd on the hill and make the last couple of turns, legs burning and cross the finish line to Jason Knauff?? ca-CA ca-CA’ing into the microphone.

Good times. Congratulations to Jake on his win!


Thanks to Mike from xXx for posting these pics on flickr. Some great one’s of Ben taking some hand-ups on the hill here.

Here’s Jake on his way to taking the win.

Here’s me, suffering, I didn’t even see the money.

Shea 9th, Castro 12th … Hopkins Park CX 4B’s Race Report

Hey Everyone,

My report will be fairly short, I’m hoping Shea will write up a more comprehensive one since it was his first CX race on his newly built up cross rig.

We got out to DeKalb around noon because we didn’t pre-register and there were only 10-20 spots left in the 4B’s and 4A’s was filled. Luckily we registered with 10 spots remaining. After pre-riding the course and warming up we went over to the start area around 2:45 along with the other 70+ 4B’s. They called up the top ten finishers from Jackson Park, Austin from RVB was going to take Cushman’s 8th place spot since Dave was out of town .. They called the rest of us up and I got a spot in the 2nd row on the far right, which was ideal since about 30 yards down there was a hard left hand turn. Shea and Austin were right behind me. Start whistle goes and I make it to the turn pretty close to the front and through the first couple of turns I see there’s about 5 people in front of me, Chase Wolford from Rhythm Racing (rides for IIT too) is in the lead. Heading out to the baseball fields and the off-camber twist and turn I realized I couldn’t hold my current pace and had to back off a little. On the first pavement section I hear someone coming up and cheer me on and I see out of the corner of my eye it’s an RVB’er and I’m like, “go, go, I can’t keep up ..” and Austin flies by me. Somewhere near the start of the 2nd lap as my lungs are screaming and my legs are going unresponsive I see a monkey kit coming up and I shout, “come on Shea, get up here!” He eventually did and then passed me. I kept Shea in my sights and we got to cheer each other on through the multiple switchback sections. Overall, after sitting pretty good in 6th in the first 5 minutes of the race, I lost 6 more spots and ended up in 12th. Shea did great and got 9th! My lungs still hurt, but I’m still smiling by how much fun it was and how well Shea did.

Lessons learned:
– Pre-register, save $5!
– Plan your start position based on the first turn, don’t get boxed in going into the first turn.
– Go hard at the start, but not too hard where you blow up and hang on for dear life for the rest of the race.
– Have fun and try to get some of the cash hand-ups from spectators (someone was giving out $20’s)!

pics from jasonhenry (half acre cycling) on

damn, the new oakley’s look good ..

it may look like I’m going fast, but I’m not, I’m barely able to pedal ..


p.s. zens, witry and pollard, all the xXx’ers and cycle smithy racers were calling you guys out .. wondering where you were, maybe next year?

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