Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm Back!

1st Annual Cannondale Demo Day Willowdale State Forest, Ipswich MA

And then there was time..............Holy Crap! I can't believe that I haven't taken a breath since Trey came home on mothers day, wow. A lot has happened, and most importantly Tara and I started sleeping last week, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Those of you who have children can compassionately relate to what that turn of events really means. Huge. Bike racing came to a screeching halt for me after the Vermont 50 miler. Plans of grandeur turned into complete delusion. In addition the fall in Ipswich is arguably one of my favorite times of year. Right in town we have 2 orchards, and 5 full blown farms. The definition of full blown? Well, pull into the parking lot and see CT plates, NY plates and other out of state rs visiting= full blown. Pumpkins, hay bales, apples, corn mazes, need I say

Racing was difficult this year and I think it was obvious in my results. Without sounding like that guy, it was hard to motivate in both my training and on race day when I have a such a wonderful little boy at home growing and changing everyday. Priorities have changed, but one thing I am confident in, is the love of my bicycle, period. There is something about the bike that brings me back to my childhood, as I'm sure it would for most people. Growing up I played hockey, baseball, and soccer, with hockey as my primary sport and continuing into college. Even with all of those sports, I still gravitated toward the bike, going as far as to buying my own bmx bike with paper route money, and going to the Sullivan Park BMX track for a race, all by myself I might add.

Unfortunately the bike interest went away in High School and most of College. I found the buzz in motorcycles and embraced it with open arms. Four moto's later, and some maturing, the bicycle reappeared. My childhood friend, classmate, teammate, and I will even go as far as calling him family, Jim, brought the mountain bike back in my life and the rest is history.

My wife has brought me peace, my son has brought me joy, my bike will always teach me to respect and love what I have. That said, I may be getting older and slower but I will never stop riding.

Cheers and look forward to keeping everyone more up to date.

Matty O.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Putney West Hill New England MTB Series

Wow, sorry again, lots to catch up about. Crazy times lately with training, the baby, work, etc. I know that it's a recurring theme but not much has changed except my riding. I decided it was time to do some homework, suck it up, and put the hard miles in that I was dreading. Well, with two weeks in, the fruits of my labor are starting to pay dividends. Went to Putney VT in the rain with my buddy Towny and will fill you in later on the rest. For now here are some highlights from the race. Check out the start, where was that guy at the finish? Start steady, finish strong! Just ask K Hines, great race from Kevin and a great guy to race against. Kevin 1st, me2nd, and Semus 3rd.

Gotta go!!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Enduro Style, Sweet Jesus!

So its been 8 years or so since I have done the Classic Bear Brook Mountain Bike Race and man do I remember these trails, sweet! After last weeks suffer fest with 10 plus days off the bike, I was a little more confident coming into the Bear Brook race. A week under my legs of riding and a 3 hour ride the day before, I was good to go.

My buddy, and boss actually, Scott Relihan and I made the trek up to Allenstown NH for an old school classic. I say old school because Scott and I met for one of my first ever mountain bike races in 1993 and we have been tight ever since. In fact, after my 10 years or so of racing full time, it was Scott who introduced me into this god awful career. Kidding actually, I am actually extremely grateful.

So off to Allenstown with Scooter Magooter to ride around and hopefully pull off a better result than last week. At registration there was rumor that one of the Pro men requested an additional lap be added to an already long race. That rider? None other than endurance guru himself Chris Gagnon from MTB mind. Chris is the gent that has ridden and reintroduced me to 24 hour racing. He is a 24 hour solo beast! Of course he wanted an epic race. Me, a little concerned with what my lack of training would produce.

Race goes like this; gun goes off and guys start sprinting off the line for position. I say to myself, why? I remember those days as a young pro and getting wrapped up in every start. Sure as hell two thirds of them came back and then WHACK! I made a move to front and got rid of most of the race except for a couple of veterans that know how to race. To my surprise up and coming 24 hour rider Peter Ostroski set the pace and held it, great ride. The always strong, and 24 hour team mate John Foley came up on me with 2 to go. I thought we would have a nice hard ride, obviously I wasn't riding strong enough for him and John road away, another great ride.

I pushed hard at the end, happy to finish third, and I am chipping away at my fitness. July and August should be good. Keep the rubber side down and I will catch up with you in a couple of weeks after the Pinnacle, another New England Classic.

Ciao for Now.

Matty O

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


What the hell! I was told I would be tired but this is insane. Oh, did I say previously that Trey is home, well he is, and man can that kid eat, especially at 12,2,4,and 6am! Tara is a trooper and I am doing my best to run down stairs as she is feeding, grabbing burp clothes, diapers, water, and whatever else I get summons to. The best was the first night he was home and I went out to my car at 2 am thinking I needed something from it, never did figure out what that was. Needless to say I am cracked, but it's all worth it, especially when that little guy goes back to sleep on my chest in the middle of the night.

Another "light dawns on Marblehead" moment. The last ten 10 days he was home I was off the bike and realized I actually need to ride my bike to be decent. Ohhhhh, that's why we train so much, so we can actually ride a race well. Otherwise you feel like a big huge bag of poop riding up climbs, descending singletrack, and even trying to eat a GU. Man, I never thought I loved training so much for the sole purpose of not having to suffer so much in a race.

So the race recap goes similarly to my last one, front of the race for the first bit, then slowly start fading into " No Mans land", hate it in that town. Basically became an "also ran". For those of you who don't know what that is, it's someone who rides the race and is just another finisher, not a contender. There is some positive notes to the story though. First of all Fairlee VT is gorgeous. Second Tom Masterson's Coyote Hill MTB Camp is a gem of a facility and needs to be visited, what singletrack! Finally, the sun was out with what was supposed to be a gloomy Sunday and the singletrack became real fun especially after dialing in the Scalpel.

Something I have learned in all the years of racing is that patience is key. I'm not at my best, period! When I was younger I would rack my brain looking for the problem which typically was starring me in the face. I would like to call it wisdom, most who know me though would have a hard time with that one , ha! We'll chalk it up as years of racing, or wisdom, whatever. It's the same thing really, jeez. I will get there, and I will have good days, but racing mountain bikes is becoming more than that to me. It is about the bigger picture now, it's about places like Fairlee, the beautiful Mountain Bike Camp, and great people sharing a love for the outdoors.

I hope you can all share the same passion in whatever it is you enjoy and be able to embrace the big picture of that past time. Have a great week and find something great to do outside, it will make you feel like new!

Matty O.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Some Rain, Baby watching, Mtb Riding!

Wow, sorry for the delay! I would like to think I have an excuse with the baby here, but he isn't even home yet. Trey is doing great, unlike the weather, he is progressing beautifully. In fact we are officially on the spell count for getting him home. Those of you who don't know what a spell is, it's basically when he stops breathing due to brain immaturity. We usually have to stimulate him and remind him to breathe! NOT FUN!! 5 days with no spells means homeward bound, he is on day 2, but I wont Jinx it and will keep you posted.

Training has been going well and there hasn't been much to report on the racing front, not much on the schedule this month. Two weeks ago we travelled to the Winding Trails classic which turned into a race in the desert with the heat. I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but New England can be so beautiful and SUCK so bad at the same time. Be hot or not, be cold or not, be dry or not, make up your damn mind. Needless to say, without sounding like "that guy", I didn't have a great race. 1 lap in the lead, 2nd lap in the top 5, 3 rd lap top 10, you can see where this is going, 5 lap race, do the math!

On a positive note, I really got to test out the new Cannondale Team Scalpel on fast dry terrain, and man was I pleasantly surprised of how light and responsive it was. I knew the bike was fast, but holy crap, I felt like I was carving a turn on a newly tuned pair of skis , oh wait, I never tune my skis. I did once though and holy shit was I flying. Those of you who ski know the exact feeling. This is my third Cannondale, and they have really dialed the full suspension cross country bike, making it fast, light, and extremely rider friendly.

Another nice thing about this years MTB scene is I 'm seeing a comeback in participation, something I haven't seen in quite a while. People are realising the fun of the sport again and I think that trail riding or free riding is helping the race scene tremendously. Its nice to see. The course is a road course on dirt basically, and to have that many people show up to a dirt road race, fantastic!
I especially like the younger kids getting into it and I see a huge participation change. Good stuff.

Ipswich, where we live, has very similar trails to CT and I see a huge change in the amount of people riding in Willowdale State Forest, another great sign that the sport is progressing again. I hope the manufacturers are able to agree with my claims and mountain bike sales are on the rise. Tim Johnson, Jesse Anthony, Lyne Bessette, along with my friends Jim, Kris and surf legend SO-FRO, have all been enjoying the new trails in Willowdale and Bradley Palmer. I think all would agree it is becoming a great place to ride. Jesse didn't even fall in a pond today so it must be smooth in there.

Another great area I got to see again was Harold Parker State forest. Haven't been in there in years, what a gem of mixed terrain. Nice change from the smooth trails by my house. Colin Reuter, Linnea Koons, Tom Parsons, my buddy Scooter Relihan, and some others had an awesome group ride through some real challenging trails. The last time I went on a mountain bike group ride, that just keeps on moving without stopping was about 10 years ago, what a blast! When you get a group together that all know how to ride a bike steady, you get a nice flow even when its technical. Unless of course someone flats more than once, aaahhhhmmm , smooth it out my man and you'll stop smashing that equipment up! The only thing missing was the apres beer, I am trying to take things a little more serious this year, but I will definitely be enjoying some this summer if not already!

Well, back to the grind, thanks for reading and I promise to keep you all up to speed.

Drive fast, take risks!!!

Matty O.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Root 66 New England Race Series #1

*Click on Title above for Race Interview*

Once again the bike racing season has begun in New England. What better way to get after it on a cold, wet, April Saturday morning, than slogging around on a Mtn Bike. The Root 66 New England Race series is a goal of mine this year along with some Nationals and Canada Cups. The competition is always stiff and you can guarantee on any given weekend a hard fought race.

Leading up to race weekend here is my week; get up (of course), work emails, out the door for a quick session, get home, off to work, get back home, maybe another session, go see Trey, say hello to my wife, then some more work emails and off to bed! My point, not a lot of time to think about the race, how it will play out, who will be there, the weather etc. Speaking of weather, hello up there, spring anytime soon? Help us out, we're freezing and wet!

So I meet my training partners and friends Tim J. and Lyne B. and become pleasantly surprised that they want to race Mountain Bikes this weekend in the New England Opener. This is a huge relief because they are true professionals, prepare properly which allows me not to have to think as much, love that!

Off we go to CT, both envious of my new Team Cannondale Scalpel, especially Tim because I let him borrow my 5 year old Scalpel that has been ridden into the ground, still races great though! He complained a bit but with some good Slapshot Jokes, Lyne's knitting, and my constant pee breaks, the mood was lightened and he was ready to race.

The Course was great! Fast rolling single track with some open double track that made for a suffer fest right from the beginning. The start line was packed with the New Pro category riders, great to see! Mountain biking is definitely making a positive turn in New England, not quite to the tune of the early 90's when I was racing full time, but I see it coming back, awesome!

Tim and I didn't know what to expect from the rest of the riders. The nice thing about New England is we have a lot of up and coming pro riders in addition to some fast Canadians that usually make the trip south to race, similar to cross.

We (Tim and I ) did get away on the first lap with a couple of guys not far behind. We stayed smooth and fast to increase our gap over an hour and 48 minutes. Tim and I have a lot of fun on the bike but at the same time we stay focused and ride hard. Toward the end of the race with about a mile or so to go there was a good little grunt climb maybe 2-3 minutes long that the Tour of California legs in Tim definitely showed. He slowly dropped me and I fought to stay, but the 2 hour mtb all out fitness, at his pace, isn't there yet.

The surprise ending:

With about a 1/4 mile left we both thought it was wrapped up, no one in sight, and a nice little descent into the finish. I made a mistake in the mud, grabbed my bike off the ground and vrooooom, Andrew Frye goes blowing past me! I thought, holy crap, where did he come from and we were pretty much at the finish. When I came across the line, a little disappointed with second never mind third, I asked Frye how and when he made contact and congratulated him on a great race. He said he started seeing us on the last climb and that he grabbed Tim also at the line, what!? Great riding by Andrew to stay focused and keep driving forward. Life lesson for Tim and I never think its in the bag!

Andy 1, Tim 2nd, Me 3rd.

Thanks for reading!

Also check out the website. Great mtb coverage.

Ciao for now.
Matty O.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

TREY MATTHEW O'KEEFE!!!! 3/26/09 @ 11:16 am

Well, it wasn't supposed to happen this way but what situations in life really go as planned? Training is going great, work is progressing, house project is right on schedule, why would I think that something would upset the apple cart? Then WHAM! 2am someone I never met before shows up at the door to wake me( Jenn, Tara's co-worker). Nothing at that time in the morning can be positive and panic set in for sure. Is Tara ok? Is the baby ok? The answer no! Tara began having contractions and it looked like the little guy wanted out. They whisked her off in an Ambulance to the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston (what an amazing place!) Beth Israel is famous nationwide for its NICU (NeoNatalIntensiveCareUnit) which made both of us somewhat at ease based on the circumstances.

We arrived at Beth Israel at 2:45 am with a tremendous amount of fear not understanding a premature delivery. The doctors and nurses at Beth Israel reassured us that things will be ok and that there will be no surprises. They were very upfront with all of the possible diagnoses, and we couldn't have felt more secure anywhere else. Their goal was to calm down the contractions and get Tara on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. They were successful in the contraction department, they slowed for an 8 hour period which allowed them to release us to a bed rest floor ( the country club).

Tara and I put our bags down, she got settled in bed, then proceeded to go to the bathroom. The timeline is a whopping 10 minutes in the country club. Then, her water broke! The doctors came in and they whisked her back up to the labor and delivery floor. Needless to say we were in a panic. How did this happen? Is he going to be ok? Is Tara going to be ok? Mind and heart racing, the doctors sat us down and told us that we were in the best place for an early delivery, and that it's out of anyone's hands now. Who takes over? TREY!

The rest is history, Trey arrived roughly an hour or two after that conversation at 11:16 am on 3/26/09. As the NICU doctors whisked him away on his little bed, my son, calm as could be, gave us a little thumbs up and a wink that everything will be alright.

People have told me that the feeling of seeing your child born is unexplainable and how you will never experience another moment like it in your life. Now I know. In 36years I have never felt so overwhelmed with joy, love, compassion, and complete bliss on any other day than when my son Trey Matthew was born.

He is doing great, Tara is a true Champion and is doing great, and we can't wait to introduce him to all of you.

Ciao for now.