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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CX Begins!

It's that time of year again! Rip off the old tires, glue up the new ones, dial the bikes in and shred like you've never shred before.
This past weekend was my third race of the season. The first 2 were out in NY at the Thursday Night Lights training series my team, NYCROSS puts on. It was super fun racing under the lights at 9pm. I had two good results. I took second at the first race and won the second race. A good way to start out the season. This past weekend was Quad Cross in Maynard Ma. It was a super hot and disgustingly dusty day. I finished the race with what felt like 2 lbs of dust in my lungs and in my mouth. My legs felt flat and not amazing. I ended up in 12th place respectively. I was happy with it, I smashed Colin Reuter and Ian Schon which always puts a smile on my face. Al Donahue won and Jerome Townsend ran over a hornet nest, got stung and still finished 3rd!
I am happy about where my fitness is this weekend and I have set a goal of winning the overall NYCROSS series. The first race in the series is this coming weekend.

It's been a few months since I've blogged and SO MUCH STUFF has happened. I finished my first academic year of graduate school (which I didn't think was possible) and moved into an amazing new house with Jeremy, Gabby, and my amazingly beautiful girlfriend Melissa. We have just gotten settled in and are enjoying having such a nice place in the middle of nowhere with a big ol hammock on the front porch. I started a 30 hour a week clinical internship with the transitional aged youth program in Greenfield Ma. I am loving it so far.

Also my little baby brother got married to the love of his life, Gabby Day (now Gabby Durrin) and it was the most perfect day mixed with family and friends. The weather was perfect, a sunny, dry, 70 degree day. I was amazingly honored to be the best man at the wedding. It was such a beautiful weekend filled with friends, family, and lots of laughter and love.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

After finishing my last midterm, albeit a few hours late, I had an overwhelming urge to write a blog post. I haven't updated this thing since April and I feel like so much has happened. Well, I'm in grad school now! It's been absolutely crazy. This is first time I feel like I've had some time to breathe. I just completed week 3 and handed in 5 midterms this week. That's right MIDTERMS! At 3 weeks in! Who does that?? Smith does, and it's intense. After handing them in, I have 2 finals due this coming week as well! This is an accelerated academic program and when I say accelerated, I mean sky-rocket to the moon, warp-speed accelerated program. I've already had Bowenian, Freudian, and structural theory jammed into my brain, and that's just one class. Anyways, grad school has been great. I've met so many inspiring people here. Everyone is really genuine and wants to see legit social change in the world.

I have been training everyday while keeping up with readings and writings. I think riding my bike a couple hours a day is literally keeping me sane. I have been racing on the weekends as well. My weekend looks like this..... Wake up around 6, make a giant french press of coffee, read, write and do as much schoolwork as possible. Get in my car, drive to the race, RACE then drive home as quickly as possible, read and write more. HAHAHA. I have been feeling awesome on the bike as well. I've had some good races and I can't wait to race my hometown race next weekend, the LONGSJO!

Right before starting grad school started I went out with my brother to race the Somerville series. It was such an awesome experience racing with the top dogs in NE. We drove out on Friday night and Jeremy got a $300 speeding ticket in rural NY. We stayed with Tony Federiko in NJ and his family was so warm and welcoming, except for his dogs that barked at us non-stop. We raced a big 80 mile road race on Saturday and then a 50 mile crit Sunday and shorter brutal crit on Monday. It was awesome to be racing at the front of these big NRC races and making moves at the front of the crits. I have been feeling great on the bike and these races were huge confidence boosters.

While balancing racing and schoolwork I've been hanging out with the love of my life once a week. She comes out here on Wednesday evening and we have been rock climbing on thursday mornings. It's been amazing to have her out here during the week, but it's surely not enough time with her!

I also want to give a huge thank you to all the professors at NCCC, BCC, and Burlington college that have helped me along this path. A huge thank you to the JAM FUND cycling team and especially Al Donahue and Mike Busa who have been a non-stop help in helping me achieve the goals I have set in the racing world! Also to Berkshire Bike and Board and all my people there who ignited the passion of cycling in me. Life is good, no matter how busy and crazy it might be right now!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bike Racing Family

Being on a team and surrounded with a community of like-minded people has been a fantastic experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.

For years, I've been training by myself in the Berkshires. For all of January, February, and March I was putting in long base miles by myself. No one out here is crazy enough to spend 3-5 hours a day, participating in a summer sport in 25 degree weather. From having our team camp in March, to meeting up at races, to having an online forum for all of the JAM members to meet up and share training tips, setting up travel plans, and breaking down races, it's been a wonderful experience so far. We've only been racing for a bit over a month now and our fitness is starting to get good.

Brad, Dan, Anthony, Al, Mike, Stephen, Jackson, Mukunda, and Ben are some of the coolest guys out there in the racing scene. We all get along really well and have a ton of fun in the parking lots before and after races.

I have been spending a bunch of time out in the Valley and hanging out with the team. We're not only a team, but a family. We have frequent community dinners at Al's house and talk about racing and riding as well as other passions we have. The biggest thing for me is having things outside of bike racing. I strive for balance in all areas of my life and that means getting off the bike on my easy days or rest days and doing other things. Like spending the day rock-climbing with my awesome girlfriend, jumping in the lake when it's way too cold out, or aimlessly riding around on my motorcycle and writing blogs at cafe's deep in rural NY.

Being in a community of like-minded people that are striving for the same goals has been super inspiring and rewarding. Having guys like Al Donahue, Jeremy Powers, Mukunda Feldman, and Mike Busa as the leadership on the team has been great. They're all super busy, but always willing to listen to whatever it is that's on our minds. I had some fit issues after the Ninigrit criterium and Mike and Al dropped what they were doing and helped me tweak my bike. When it comes to analyzing how we're racing they're great as well. They have been doing this bike racing thing for a long time and know how a race will play out and how to make decisions during a race. This is all stuff I'm still learning, but we have some of the best leadership and mentors out there. I feel like in only a couple short months of racing I have learned more than the 2 years I've been training and racing.

On a side note, this is basically my last week as an undergraduate student! I just finished up writing a few 5 page finals and I had my thesis/degree project bound and it's ready to be handed in, 60 pages later!!!!!!

I will be graduating on May 18th, then going straight into grad school 2 weeks later!!! Craziness.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Hate Ninigret

A fitting title for my most highly loathed bike race in the world. What's the reason I hate this race so much? Is it the the 3 hour drive from the Berkshires on the most despotic highways in the Northeast? Is it the 40 mph, relentless winds that drop kick you in the face after that corner where I always strike my pedal? Is it Ben Wolfe putting everyone in the gutter on every lap whilst expelling a million watts? Or is the fact that I have terrible, stupid legs every time I show up for this race?  I had a terrible race at Ninigret on Saturday. I had just come off a rest week and thought my legs would feel great. I quickly realized they did not. I only lasted about 30 minutes of the race, got dropped, went in the woods, cried, and screamed to the bicycle contest gods. My teammate Stephen Hyde got into the break and finished second behind Luchiano Pavan, Nice W Luch!!!!!

Ok, lets bag that race in the past. Every year I swear I won't race Ninigret and every year I show up, get crushed, and cry for 3 hours on the drive home. Sunday went MUCH better. I actually had my big boy legs on. It was just me and Hyde on Sunday, we showed up ready to be agressive, B, E, agressive.
and agressive we were. From the gun we were trying to get something to go. The problem with a 1,2,3 race is that whenever anyone tries making a move happen, all the 3's go berserk and pull the move back but then won't pull through to make anything stick.
So after this nonsense, something finally went and neither me or Hyde were in it. We knew it was going to stick and we had to be in that move. On the next lap we attacked HARD and made a split from the group and eventually bridged up to the break. With ten laps to go we started attacking the break and making people hurt, it was awesome. I would throw down an attack at the top of the hill and make the group chase me while Hyde sat in, and when they caught me Hyde would attack and I would sit in. We did this a few times and hurt peoples legs a bit. We ended up 8th and 9th which I'm happy with, but we could have played it smarter and finished a bit stronger. I learned a LOT about bicycle contests and had a solid finish in a pro/1/2/3 race, so I'm content with it.

Next week is Quabbin road race and it will be quite painful!

Check out our awesome new matching team shorts!!!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tis The Season!

Three weeks ago marked the beginning of racing season here in New England.
I am very stoked to be racing on, as Anthony Clark would say a "legitified" elite racing team.

Three weeks ago we had team camp. We all gathered at the JAM FUND headquarters in Easthampton and had an amazing weekend of racing and training. We began on Friday night with a team director meeting. Jeremy Powers, Mukunda Feldman, and Alec Donahue gave us the skinny about our job as JAM FUND/NCC elite racers.

Saturday early morning we were off to the races. The whole team packed up into 4 cars and headed out into NY state for our first race together. We lined up, the whistle blew and we started. A few attacks happened right from the beginning but nothing got away. There were 40mph winds that were holding off every attack that anyone put in. We raced well and had a couple guys in the top 10.
Next weeks race would pan out much better. The wind held off for a beautiful 50 degree sunny day of racing. Anthony, Stephen, Brad and I were off the front covering moves and chasing down breaks throughout the race. No breaks formed and the race was super fast. We averaged 25mph for over 60 miles of racing. In the last lap my legs felt completely gassed, as everyone else's did, I'm sure. The JAM Fund train set up perfectly into the last 1km of the course. Al and I led a hard surge into the last corner, setting our sprinter, Mike Busa up perfectly for the straight away. Al put in a million watt surge and slingshotted me and Busa around him. Busa then carried his million watt sprint across the finish line in 3rd. My sprint was sub-par and landed me in 11th.

Overall the team is working well together and our first three races of the season have been successful.

We are all looking forward to an amazing season of racing and hope to see you all out there in the NE circuits.

A huge thank you to our amazing sponsors this season.

SRAM components

FOCUS bikes

EASTON wheels

RUDY PROJECT helmets and glasses

VO MAX kits

CLIF nutrition

FIZIK saddles

Northampton Cycling Club

Northeast Solar

Valley Bike

Stony Brook Valley

Tart Bakery

Mystic Artists Film Production

Friday, February 15, 2013

Grad School-California-

Have you ever completely put yourself out there to the universe? Have you ever taken the plunge into something you thought was "jumping into the deep end"? Well, thats how I roll.When it comes to racing in my first pro/1/2/3 road race, or randomly decideing to ride my bicycle across Asia, I try not to get in my head, I try not to think myself out of it, I simply commit myself 100% and dive in.
Elephant journal writer, Karl Saliter just wrote this piece about me. Iraq to Cambodia

I recently applied to graduate schools. I know my dharma (calling) is to help people and do meaningful work in this world. One of my goals is to design and implement mind/body/spirit programs in the VA system to help veterans (like myself) treat and recover from PTSD. Anyways, I applied to the two spectrums of graduate school. Smith, and Westfield state. I kind of applied to Smith on a whim, I knew it was the BEST masters of social work program in the US and I knew that my grades would not get me in :-). I pretty much wrote it off. My application was late and they had to give me an extention to get all my material in. I was sitting around doing school work last week and I saw the mailman make his daily delivery. I casually walked outside and grabbed the mail. Seeing a packet from Smith, I immediately thought it would be that letter saying "I regret to inform you". My roommate Maryann was in the kitchen when I opened it and tears came to my eyes. Not only did I get accepted to the school for social work at Smith, I recieved a full scholarship, including tuition, housing, and meals for the full two year program!!!! I was high, I freaked out and started calling all my friends and family that have helped me throughout the years. I graduate from Burlington College with a degree in Psychology May 24th and then go straight into grad school a week later! Smith is a 10 week academic summer intensive followed by 9 months of field placements/internships for two years.

I work in the cafe at Kripalu and recently we started carrying a new nutrition bar, Thunderbird Energetica /THUNDERBIRD. They are 100% raw bars with the best ingredients sourced from the best sources out there. This is the only bar on the market that has nothing processed. It's the cleanest  fuel out there. Even the so called "raw organic" bars out there use agave and rice syrup which are two highly processed sweeteners. Katie, Taylor, Leslie, and Kirk run the show. They're a small artisan company focused on bringing the best quality product to the market. Each bar is hand-made with tons of love! Check them out and buy a box online, mention me and get free shipping!!  I was so excited about having these bars for long base rides. I normally go through 4-5 bars per ride when I'm out there for 4 hours a day. That adds up to a LOT of calories consumed on the bike. I like to source my energy on the bike in the purest way possible. So I contacted Thunderbird in Austin Texas and they immediately recruited me as their east coast brand ambassador. I am stoked to say they're flying me to California on March 6th to meet the team and attend a natural foods expo in Anaheim. We'll be promoting and spreading the word of this amazing product.

On another front, it's almost racing season!!! The days are getting progressively warmer (kind of) and I've been riding big base miles every week, between writing a 50 page thesis! I am so stoked to be riding for JAM fund this year. This is a huge opportunity for me to take my racing to a whole new level. This will be my first year of racing in the Pro/1/2 field in New England. I am feeling very strong from a good cyclocross season and will be in good shape from doing a ton of yoga/gym work/base miles these last couple months. I'm hoping to peg some really good results when I can find time to race between grad school and life.
I'm basically taking my brothers place on the team. He signed a big boy pro road contract with Optum Pro Cycling Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies.Optum He's in California at a team camp right now. I'm so proud of him for following his dreams and now being legit, well knows top US rider!!! Check out his website! Jeremy Durrin

Here's a super goofy picture of us when I first started racing bike!!HAHAHAHAHA This was Jeremys second year I believe.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Avalanche livin

Waking up to a wood stove, a gigantic french press and a big bowl of granola, fruit, and yogurt made for a good beginning of an epic day of backcountry splitboarding!

We hit the road for Silverton at 9am leaving from Grand Junction. The air was a crisp 12 degrees and the skies looked of looming danger in the horizon. As Blair was driving his trusty 4-wheel drive ford pickup truck, I pulled out my Iphone and checked the backcountry avalanche forecast. Overnight, Silverton was dumped on by mother nature, clocking in at over 3 feet of powder in some areas. The avalanche forecast called a high alert for avalanches all over the San Juan mountain range which is exactly where we were headed.

After about 2.5 hours of driving, we had just passed an ice climbing competitions in a small town where we started climbing a long mountain pass. Winding switchbacks, no guardrails, and snow covered roads led up and around a fantastically big mountain range. I could feel my heart starting to race, my palms starting to sweat. Completely out of my element I looked up at the snow-covered mountains and said to Blair, "what are we doing?" He chuckled and in a stoic voice said, "were gonna have a blast." I was reassured, Blair has been backcountry splitboarding for a long time. He  taught me  about digging avalanche pits, reading the layers of snow, and making decisions on where to shred. We decided we would stick to the tree lines and not go out into to the open mountain faces because of the avalanche warnings.

We got over the mountain and on the descent into Silverton there was a snow blasting crew. They were posted up in the middle of the road, not letting anyone pass. They were shooting this giant grenade launcher to create "controlled" avalanches and sending them straight into the roads, after the avalanche comes tumbling down, they send in machinery to clear out the roads after blasting. This is to keep natural avalanches from happening while cars are on the roads! Crazy stuff!! We parked about 20 miles south of Silverton and pulled out the splitboards. For those of you who don't know, splitboards are snowboards that come apart down the middle and act as backcountry skis. You put special skins on the bottom of them that make it easier to make your way through deep powder and hike to the top of wherever you're going to start shredding, then you put them back together and snowboard down.

After a quick drill on how to use my avalanche beacon we hit the trail, packs on our backs. The skis crunched lightly on the deep powder and we were soon in the thick Colorado backcountry skinning up slopes that make Butternut look like an ant hill. We hiked to the top of a beautiful forest and got to it.

Powder boarding is a whole different beast than the hard packed trails I grew up on in New England. The powder was about 6 feet deep and it was absolutely the most epic thing I have ever done. I felt like I was in one of those crazy backcountry movies. Blair was like a seasoned veteran floating lightly down and making subtle turns to float his way through the powder. I was more like a toddler flailing my way through the deep powder. I fell down a lot. At one point I was in front of this giant pile of snow and Blair was right below it, he called for me to just lean back and get the front of my board over it. Little did I know it was a giant tree that had fallen down. I leaned back got the front over and then tumbled head first into a giant pillow of powdery goodness. Talk about a pow shot to the face!!!

I made it though!!!! My first real Colorado backcountry experience, a goal I have had for a LONG time was accomplished. I felt a deep sereneness in my heart and gave Blair a giant hug and felt super grateful for the relationships I have created in my life. With giant mountains all around us I felt a deep connection and happiness. We're now chilling in Silverton about to grab some grub and head back out for an entire day in the backcountry again tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Personal Sketch

 A bunch of people have asked me to share my personal sketch for graduate school. So here it is, along with a couple pictures, one of me in the military, one very current one of me racing and another from my travels in SE Asia.

The sounds of mortars exploding filled the warm, dry, July air in northern Iraq, as they did on so many nights. This night was different though; the mortars were exploding only 15 feet from our tent. I had never moved as fast as I had that night. Shrapnel tearing through our tent and explosions landing so close I couldn’t hear the screams of my fellow soldiers. It took me years of healing to recover from my experiences in Iraq.
Only 19 years old and looking for a purpose in life, thinking I didn’t have a shot at college I joined the military. I spent two years on active duty and was deployed to Iraq at the fragile age of 19. Seeing the abhorrent conditions and direction the US military was taking this country in, I became bitter and stuck in a war I didn’t truly believe in.
Returning from Iraq, my life spun out of control.  Receiving inadequate reintegration into normal society, I began drinking to cope with the trauma I had experienced. After several months of living in misery I made a decision to turn my life around. I moved to a small rural town in the Berkshires and reconnected with my family’s Native American heritage. Growing up, I spent every weekend of my childhood attending Powwows all around New England. I participated in sweat lodge, dancing, drumming, and many other ceremonies. It became a part of me. Through reconnecting to my roots and returning to weekly powwows I found a sense of purpose and connection with something greater than myself.
I found a part-time job at a health and wellness center. And another part-time job at a substance abuse rehabilitation center, taking clients on three-day therapeutic nature based camping trips. This opened a whole new world of healing and transformation. While working, I started taking classes at a local community college and eventually earned an associates degree in liberal arts. After a year of working at this health and wellness center I had come to learn a lot about my healing process and myself. I wanted to give back, to make amends for the things I had experienced at war. I knew if I went on a mission to give back in Iraq I would surely be killed or captured. I decided to go on a journey to Southeast Asia and do what I could for a country impacted negatively by the US military. I decided to spend a large part of my journey in Cambodia, getting to know the people, and helping where I could. I chose Cambodia because of the ripple effect of the Vietnam War and the rise of the Khmer Rouge killing millions of innocent Khmer people. I took off with a plane ticket to Bangkok, my bicycle, and a backpack with some gear. This would start a six thousand mile, four countries, six-month, life-changing journey. Before I left, I threw a big party and was able to raise over two-thousand dollars to fund my philanthropic journey. The party was an idea of mine, but I quickly had people and businesses from all over Berkshire County helping me out. Friends helped me approach local business owners who gladly donated gift certificates or goods once they were educated on my story and this quest I was about to embark on. Over 200 people came to the benefit party that night, close friends, family members, local businesses, and people who had read about me in articles written for both local papers, The Berkshire Eagle, and The Berkshire Record. I couldn’t believe the amount of support pouring in all around me. It was one of the most rewarding experiences and greatest parties of my life.
This trip changed my life and the way I saw the world. I learned the true meaning of the word compassion and humility. Traveling by bicycle, I rode through Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and finally Indonesia. I came in close contact with poverty, sickness, death, disease, hunger and sadness. I also saw the most beautiful acts of compassion, selflessness, love, and kindness. Spending nights with families that would take me in when it was getting dark and I had no place to sleep, also, with groups of monks in Cambodia at pagodas all over rural landscapes. After traveling and getting to know the people of Cambodia I decided to invest directly in them. During my travels I met a young student named Len Laim, a young man who came from one of the poorest provinces in rural Cambodia. He was extremely smart and had taught himself English. He was studying medicine at the countries capital in Phnom Penh. I spent two weeks, living as he did, including sleeping on the floor of a pagoda. I got to know him well. He had great ideas of improving the medical care in rural Cambodia and he inspired me to help where I could. I used the money I had raised to buy him his first laptop, a second pair of school clothes, and other simple amenities such as a fan for his overly cramped Pagoda room and a simple mattress to sleep on. I used the other half of my money to fund his rural school project. I spent time with his family in Siem Reap province and met the school children and visited the school Laim had built with his own hands. I updated a detailed blog of my entire trip and have posted entries regularly for the past three years. While in Siem Reap, recovering from a bicycle accident, I was flown to the countries capital Phnom Penh to be interviewed by BBC. They later wrote an article on my mission and journey in Cambodia.
Last March I was approached by academy award winning producer Pamela Boll. She received my name from Steven Cope, the Director of the Institute of Extraordinary Living at Kripalu. I did a piece a for the IEL a couple years back on how yoga and meditation positively impact soldiers with PTSD returning from Iraq. Pam wanted to feature me in a documentary called “A Small Good Thing”. The documentary will be about connecting to a more meaningful life and following your passions. They have been filming me for the past year and even flew me to Alaska to film me with the family I have up there. The movie will be released next spring.
While working at the treatment center I became fascinated by people and their stories of trauma and how they chose the paths they were on. I enjoyed interacting directly with clients and helping them figure out their problems and giving healthy advice. I decided to pursue a degree in psychology.
I applied and was accepted to Burlington College in Vermont to begin my studies in psychology. Working full time and being in school full time was emotionally and mentally draining. Just as important to me as my schoolwork was my self-care. I started racing bicycles while in school for my associate degree. Inspired by my brother Jeremy, professional bike racer for Optum-Kelly Benefit, I put all my physical practice into training and living as healthy as I possibly could. I excelled at bike racing and it became a lifestyle for me, one that would lead to a lifetime practice. I pedaled through the amateur ranks of road and cyclocross racing, excelling from category 5 to category 2 in just a years time, I now race at a professional level for the JAM fund cycling team out of Easthampton. The amount of passion and dedication I bring to everything I do shows in my racing, academic, personal, and professional life.
A strong belief in self-healing, healthy living, making good decisions, taking responsibility, creating healthy and nurturing support systems, and having a spiritual and physical practice is why I believe Smith to be the best program for me. I believe I bring a lot to the table and will be a great social worker once clinically trained.