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.


Friday, March 13, 2009

The MAN in Cyclocross!!

This is a must read and good friend. Most of you know my new blogging scheme and I will reassure I'm still behind the times after reading Tim's. Twitter? God now what? I know I'm getting old but I promise I will catch up.

By the way, the pic is of the new Cannondale Team bike, pretty sweet! Thanks Matty J. Real team issue bike graphics are a little different though. See you on the trails.

Cheers and hope you enjoy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

OK, Seriously?!

Finally the Dini curse is gone and I can walk up the stairs without gasping for air. Dini is a nickname for my cousin Brendan who I am convinced set this curse on me to get sick, long story. I did promise never to pick on Tara again, thanks Dini for getting rid of it!

So the curse is gone and the winter just wont go away, SERIOUSLY?! Now don't get me wrong, I love the snow, but when it starts in late November and is still going strong in March, come on! After being sick for two weeks I was able to put some good time together on the bike, 3 hours Saturday and 3 on Sunday. Definitely feels like I went backwards a bunch, but was just awesome to be outside in that weather, regardless of how I felt.

Sea Otter is fast approaching and I must say,with Miguel Martinez of France winning last year, and a lot of talent showing this year, I think it will be an interesting test. Its funny how we listened to our parents drive years of wisdom down our throats, only to get frustrated looks along with a lot of yeah, i know, i know. Without sounding to seasoned, I will comment that this years Sea Otter will definitely take savvy, patient, intelligent racing from this old body. Its the kind of racing in the early spring that I wished I hadn't put such high expectations on in the past. Fitness comes slowly and in my case brains come even slower. Racing with your brain is not something that can be taught, only learned over years of failing. On the upside, I will be in Sunny California probably right before the spring snowfall hits the Northeast!

Thanks for reading and hopefully I will have some epic adventure to blog about soon. For now just snow fall and cold wet rides!

Ciao for now.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Talk about hilarious!

The Ignorant Motorist!

Two post's in a week! Don't get used to it, I just happen to be home with the flu and this blog is keeping me busy. Below is a letter to the editor that my buddy John wrote regarding an incident with an ignorant driver. People think it's funny to "brush" a cyclist or beep for kicks while they're riding. Sometimes they will throw things out the window! What the knucklehead doesn't realize is that when it startles the rider they can easily get sucked under the car, the rest is history. I experience someone yelling at me to get off the road twice a week, its sad, real sad. Thankfully the State of Massachusetts along with many others made this kind of behavior a felony because too many cyclist have been severely injured or killed.

Some parts of the law state that cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast on major roads. In addition automobiles have to provide a minimum of 3 feet between them and the cyclist and are only allowed to pass when it is safe. So when someone thinks its funny with their buddy's to see how close they can get and god forbid they clip them, it's now a felony! Local law enforcement is being sent to bicycle awareness classes as we speak. Thank god , anytime I've been swerved at and a police officer happens to be in the area, I won't get the usual ,"what do you want me to do."

Read the story below:

Share the road, not your Slurpee
To the editor:
As I was rolling into Newburyport down Water Street Sunday afternoon with my girlfriend freshly soaked off the PI Turnpike, it struck me! No, not my ambition to compete in this year's Tour de France, but a king-size Slurpee cup, courtesy of a big blue SUV with Mass. plates! That's right, it hit me like a clap of lightning at point-blank range via the smoking teenage copilot in the SUV. He hung out the window like a chimpanzee and clocked me, apparently just for his amusement.More stunned than hurt, thanks to my helmet, I rode alongside the vehicle for a good half mile. Considering that I was traveling the same speed as the flow of traffic, it was not difficult to stay with the offenders and plead for them to pull over. However, they chose to keep on truckin', apparently having no real bone to pick with me, and ignore my request to reason and share the road. With all of my adrenaline pumping, I failed to even get the litterbug's license plate number. I could only hope that someone in the line of traffic behind me who witnessed my plight — and perhaps had an inkling of the rules of the road — would report the incident. Unfortunately, no officer of the law or a Good Samaritan was in sight!

As we cyclists prepare for another busy spring, summer and fall on the roads, let this be a warning to you that to some drivers, we are mere asteroids in the field on their quest to grab another Slurpee for fire!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 2009

This is the start of what will be an interesting season of blogging. At first I had some reservations about blogging and had concerns on how it was perceived. I'm doing the blog for a couple of different reasons. First is for my friends and family as I attempt another season of professional mountain bike racing while trying to be a new dad and husband. Second is for my sponsor Cannondale Bicycle Corp. Some of you may know that after 15 years of racing and having been out of the sponsorship loop for a while, I have signed a contract to ride off road again for Cannondale. A lot of people went to bat for me including Tim J, Greg Orivitz, Matty J, Johs H, and some others in the industry. I'm grateful for another opportunity to ride with such a great bike company for 2009. So far, even though i am getting up there in age, I still feel my professional license is worth renewing for another year. I started mountain bike racing in 1994 with CCB/Racing and ironically have come full circle with this squad in the past 5 years or so. The main reason I went back was because of a good friend and mentor Steve Pucci, who has given me the go to try and do the Mtn bike thing again although he secretly cant stand it. CCB is an elite road team out of the Northeast that launched many cycling careers like Tim Johnson and Tyler Hamilton. Being an exclusive road program some have their opinions of off-road, I don't care. Speaking of which, quite a few people were hesitant about my fast ascent off-road and warned me of signing my first contract in 1997 with the Nautilus Barracuda Mountain Bike Team. Sometimes I wished I had listened but that's all part of the experience. The growth as an individual, maturity (some would argue this one), and patience I have learned through my cycling experiences are second to none. After Nautilus I tried the road for a while which allowed me opportunities to race in Europe and all over the country in a slew of different races. The transition from mountain bike racing to a low level pro road team with no direction was tough. As I've matured in this sport I see a lot of people making the same mistakes I made when I was trying to "make it". Cycling can be so humbling yet very rewarding at the same time. It is a true test of mental and physical endurance and without patience and foresight you can't survive. Hopefully as the season goes on I will be able to relay all the tales of bike racing that make it such a beautiful yet painful experience all in one.

By the way the Blog title has a long story behind it that I will try to keep short and comprehensible. Those of you who knew my dad understood how he could take a story and translate it to real life, literally. The Endurance is a true story about a ship and its crew that made it through some of the harshest conditions ever endured by both vessel and humans. My dad gave me the book and proceeded to name himself, me, and my uncles after characters in the story. Funny, classic him. Very simply it reminds me of some parts of a race or training when you think you cant go any further but somehow your mind and body continue. Something to be said for that........

Ciao for now.

Matty O.