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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hell of Hunterdon Opens

Dear Reader,

In a haze of a wicked cyclocross hangover, digging out from Snowzilla Jonas, and getting excited for worlds this weekend, I find myself diving full on into the off season, and dreaming of new adventures...
That time I had to judge a pie contest at work...
Looking back at the season, I remember Mr. Joe, Luxy and I sitting on the trainers warming up for our races and we would talk about the local spring classics.

"The Hell of Hunterdon is a great event!" Luxy would say. "Half the guys in our race will be there, it's really fun, and challenging- something good to keep the fire rolling in the off season. It's not a race, but it's good fun."

I would ask, "Dude, how long is that?"

"I don't know 85 miles or so" Johnny would say with a smile.

"Not for me man. 50 miles or so is my limit, I just don't enjoy riding much longer than that. It's just not good for my constitution! Is there a shorter loop?"

John would frown at me, "shut up, you'll be there..."

I just smiled. Lux knew. The seed was planted.

2016 is a different season for me:  by plan, as opposed to by injury, I'm not planning on racing this spring and summer.  I posted that my next race wasn't until next September recently on the Social Medias. While being hurt sucked, it was nice to get some stuff done around the house last year. Our neighbors asked if we were moving. Seriously.

With that idea in mind, and with John's endorsement, I've been taking a good hard look at the Hell of Hunterdon, and the other rides by the Kermesse Sport group: Sourland, The Fools Classic and Fleche Buffon. While it's doubtful I will tackle more than one of these rides, they all look very compelling. Registration opens tomorrow for all of them...

From recent experience, I know that Grand Fondo style rides are really fun (the Bicycling Magazine, and JAM FUND FUNDO are incredible) and with those experiences, I'm excited to be looking at few new events this spring.

The race before the race: this is what we old masters riders refer to as the race to get registered for the big cross races, as our classes sell out. I'll admit, I didn't think that would be a worry with Grand Fondos. I was wrong. On New Year’s Eve at midnight,  I registered for the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo (I'm doing the 1/2). I proceed to watch the event sell out in less than 12 hours...

Needless to say, I'll be ready for the race before the ride?
Not sure I'll be ready for the actual 85 miles, but that's a concern for another day...

Gotta admit, this is giving my cyclocross hangover a little relief...

Hair of the dog that bit you? Maybe.

thanks for reading.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Peoples Plaza

Dear Reader,
Blair and Diane compare notes before the ride...

Following nationals, I've enjoyed a little mental break. I am definitely not training right now. I've done some skateboarding, and lots of riding with Monk. After the high level of intensity that came with nationals, it's been really nice to just be a bit more MELLOW. In someways, it's actually been been very peaceful.

A couple of years ago Blair, one of the patriarchs of our community started to rally up Sunday Long Steady Distance (LSD) rides.  The group attracts good crowds, and Blair offers 45, and 60 mile options. The first twenty miles is social and very steady pace. At mile twenty as the 60 milers roll off (and kick up their pace), the 45 mile group starts working their way home. While the pace doesn't normally pick up for the 45 milers, as the route turns towards home it runs into the few rollers on the ride, and strangely an evil little headwind seems to always greet the riders pedaling home to the North. The ride keeps you honest. These rides are really good. Yeah sometimes there's some unnecessary cock sizing, but that usually sorts itself out too.  It's a great place to learn how to ride in a group, and where to be in the pack. Good winter riding.

Pictures of butts...
Blair hosted the first of these rides for 2016 today. Twenty-four riders showed up and rolled out. Lots of places for me to hide!  It was a great group, and everyone looked out for each other.

It was perfect.

thanks for reading.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Vision Quest: Asheville Cyclocross Nationals 2016

Dear Readers,

It's Thursday afternoon, January 7, 2016. I'm sitting at my kitchen table, still reeling and trying to capture my thoughts and feelings about what has occurred over the last few days. This has been the culmination of a quest that started two years ago when USA Cycling announced that Nationals were coming to Asheville, NC. Craig and I committed that we were going to make that trip. Monkey smiled and said, "Nationals in January are fucking stupid!" We laughed that time, and every time since that she has smiled a Cheshire smile and repeated it.  "it's funny because it's TRUE!!!"

The Biltmore Estate provided a beautiful, and unbelievably picturesque back drop to without a doubt the most technically challenging, and frankly hardest cross course I have ever raced. With it's steep run ups, challenging off cambers, wicked drops, and slick corners- it was an incredibly fun. The Biltmore course proved to be challenging and flowy and just perfect.  This was a course that a number of people referred to as "one that will be talked about for years" It was so rad...

USA Cycling and the Asheville organizers took a lot of heat over the communication, and organization of the event in the weeks prior the races. I'll admit, while I cautiously kept a positive outlook- I had some concerns. My last nationals experience (Madison 2012) was not a positive one. Part of that was me, part of that was the low production value of that event...

All stresses melted away as Craig and I arrived at the venue Monday afternoon. We quickly met up with Kelly and D-Lowe. We set out to preride with Paul, Ray, Kelly, and D-Lowe. We shared insights, and lines and helped each other suss out the course. We followed that evening meeting the rest of my Deluxx teammates, Featherblog, Dennis (I've been following around for 20 years) Linda,  and Consorto for what Sean Runnette would call "the last supper".   It was the crowning jewel of an incredible day.
Photo Credit: Sean Runnette
Tuesday morning, we easily got back to the venue and met up with the crew to pre-ride again, this time focusing on alternate lines. As awesome as Monday was, Tuesday proved again to be incredibly fun as we worked the lines that may not end up being our first selection, but based on race chaos needed to be explored. As we wrapped up this open course session Craig and I took off to find the Mansion house. This was a worthy ride, and one I am glad we took. Words can't capture:

We wrapped up the day pitting for Luxxy, Mr. Joe,  Dennis and Ray as they all rode to top 20 finishes in the 50+ non-championship race. I was inspired by my teammates turning themselves inside out, and battling the best our country has to offer in that race. The passion and drive they displayed makes me proud to be among them.  Ray made a huge move with 1 to go to land on the podium taking 4th place. At Dinner that night, he couldn't stop smiling. I couldn't prove it but I'm guessing he was wearing his medal under his sweatshirt at dinner that night! Who am I kidding, I would have worn it like a badge!

photo credit: Doug Gray

Wednesday morning 12:30 am... the middle of the freakin' night... I race in 11 hours...

I went to bed at 9, but am wide awake now.
My mind is racing.... I'm visualizing how I want my start to go... my heart-rate is jacked up. I'm thinking about Madison, how awful I was. Since my unplanned break in November, (awesome knee flare up) I have been drilling myself to get it right here. My results in December suffered, as I never felt fresh. Was it worth it? I start to question did I play this right? I think about going over my bars on the chute down from Cemetery Hill when we were throwing ourselves down it during our Monday pre-ride... I can walk it, No, I can't this is a spot I have to ride... It will be cool... calm down dude... I try to control my breathing... It's just another masters cross race... It's just another masters cross race. No big deal... but I'm jacked. I'm nervous. I've worked hard, it wasn't easy to keep the weight at 170 over the holidays, but I did it. Holy Fuck, I have to get back to sleep... Finally, I drift off to sleep...

Morning is here.  We join D-Lowe, Kelly and the Evolution Crew for breakfast. I can't eat, I'm so nervous I might puke.

We head over to the Deluxx compound and catch up with Johnny and Joey. Craig gets on the trainer. We cheer for Consorto and then Wes and Nick in the next race. I want to puke I'm so nervous.

Craig gets a great start. I'm on the trainer. Blondie plays in my headphones... I like Blondie... I find this kinda soothing. "you could tell I was no debutante"  Craig has a great couple of laps...  he is killing it. This is his first nationals. He has had an amazing year. I have loved watching it unfold, and I'm loving watching him race. He's with Lazar. Stay with Jay, Craig, stay with Jay... I'm so proud of him...
photo credit: Ronni Vetter
He finishes on the lead lap... an incredible ride.... so Stoked...

I head for staging. Try to be cool with Stevens, Auer and Kelly. I'm freaking focused. It's on...
Photo Credit: Jean Sears
I'm staged in the 8th of 17 rows, I know the start is going be some chaos. Too many good racers, everyone has got skin in this game... I got off smoothly and narrowly avoided a couple of ugly crashes early in the lap. I raced the race I wanted. Pushed hard when I could, pedal as much as possible. I hear Reuther in my head "don't stop pedaling, don't stop pedaling" I feel good. I am assured that my efforts and sacrifices have paid off... For the first time since Fairhill, I feel like myself. I'm aggressive coming off the hills- I over estimate my technical abilities, because that's what I do, but I keep the bike up-right. I wanted to leave it all out on the course, and ride my best race.  Chasing one dude the last lap, through the barriers I stand and charge for the line... I get him... I crossed the line exhausted, knowing I had accomplished my goal. I turn and hug the guy I just chased down that last lap... Not sure he was ready for that... The vision quest is complete. Fuck Yeah, I love cyclocross...
Photo Credit: Rebecca Lewandowski

Photo Credit: Rebecca Lewandowski
After my race, I was pretty much an emotional ball of mess. Joy, pride and relief over came me. Craig and I hugged back the the Team Deluxx Compound and we both got all choked up. The Vettori's are a passionate bunch, and passionate competitors. This was the culmination of a journey we began along time ago. The culmination of an amazing season. This was my hardest season ... I've never had injuries like this year... This was also my favorite cross season ever...We cried tears of joy. We cried tears of relief that we accomplished what we set out to do. We cried tears of gratitude for the all support and sacrifices our friends, teammates, wives and families had made for us to be here. We were utterly exhausted...

As Richard Fries called the 50+ riders to stage, we composed ourselves and headed to the pit to work for our friends, who had worked for us. More hugs, apple juice (wink, wink), and tears followed as we shared our experiences with our friends, and cheered those who continued to race.

This was an awesome trip, and experience. I am still amazed. I'm still on cloud 9...

Special thanks to D-Lowe and Kelly for all their support- made the event for us... thanks to Paul for pitting for Craig... thanks to Johnny and Joey for the great tent camp spot. thanks to all my mid-atlantic brothers and sisters for your help and support.

Thanks to my amazing wife, who help guide me, told me when I needed to suck it up, and when I needed to just chill.  I hug her as soon as I see her and I didn't want to let go...

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

la sopa es bueno - West Chester Cross Nationals Prep Choose Your Own Adventure...

Dear Readers,

Getting Ready To Rock...
Diane has been playing with an app that helps folks practice their Spanish. When Diane finished school, she could muddle her way through Spanish pretty well. She's enjoyed playing with the app. From time to time I would repeat what I heard her say.

Today was the West Chester Nationals Training Race or the Choose Your Own Adventure Race as I like to call it. When I came home, I saw Diane on the couch playing with the Spanish app. She asked me, in English, how my race went.

I responded, "la sopa es bueno!"

She smiled. Did you get a good start?

"la sopa es bueno!" I said with a smile.

Did you have fun she continued?

"La sopa es bueno!" I replied in my most sultry voice.

She asked, do you know what your saying?

"the soup it's good right? That app is teaching an old dog new tricks!"

Old Dogs?

Luxxy, D-Lowe, and P-Wahner..
West Chester Nationals Training Race was great fun.
The Queen of Rock is her name...

D-Lowe in DEMAND!
Mr. Joe

Judah's new profile picture?
Two groups set off with 30 seconds between them, and eventually a choose your own adventure with lots of friends who also love bombing around in the mud. I lined up in the 3rd row, as I wanted to simulate being totally boxed in with lots of people around. (thinking nationals)

Here's 3 minutes and some seconds:

First lap went really well. My tyres hooked up, I felt good, I was riding with group of guys I wanted to be riding with... I was pretty damn stoked...

Second lap I came undone a bit. I MEAN A LOT. Legs felt tired. I may have slipped into survival mode and lots of people passed me. Perhaps I should have been more conservative on the start?

Third lap Fatmarc started to get his groove back (thank Goodness).  I can see my friend (and hero) LVG just up a bit from me.  I tried to claw my way back to her... Heading into the fourth lap I knew that would wrap me up with about 45 minutes, which was my choose your own adventure goal for the day (45 minute race pace). I can't lie, negative splits make me smile.

The last pitch, I called out to her, keep going LVG we're almost there! I rolled down the hill and made contact.  We ran up the run up together and I filed in behind her- believe me I had no intentions of trying to sprint Laura. We both relaxed as we pedaled towards the finish. She smiled at me and said, "Nationals in January are pretty silly!" We both laughed and rolled in together.
Pigga, Mr. Joe and Marty
So much fun. So much great bike driving today.... Thanks Bob, Scott, Rick and all the West Chester Cross Alliance that made today happen.
Marty, Kelly, and Featherblog
I am also proud to announce: Team Deluxx Bicycles and the Vanderbacon Family Picnic will be sponsoring the port-o-let for the West Chester Nationals Training race (choose your own adventure style for December 2016!

Team Freymann -(Emma, Werner and Jackie)

thanks for reading.
Photo credit Ron Ramil:  Kelly, Consorto, Dude Cuter than James Franco and Ali...


Monday, December 21, 2015

yeah, still cuter than James Franco

Dear Reader,

Friday afternoon I called monkey and said, "I'm kinda torn about what I want to do this weekend. Reuther is having a cross practice in West Chester, there's always the angry man ride, or maybe I'll head out on the mountain bike and do some efforts."

She answered, "Cross Nationals in January is pretty fucking stupid."

I just laughed.

Saturday afternoon Monk and I were in the Beer Church buying some Christmas presents, and we got separated. I met her at the front of store and she held up a number of big bottles of beer! As she doesn't drink beer, I was a little surprised. She smiled at me and says, " I saw these and they look like something you'd like! What do you think? "

I smiled and grumbled at her, "Cross Nationals in January is pretty fucking stupid..."

Did I mention watching the weight was a little tough?

the bottles are stored away nicely...

Sunday- I was pretty shattered. Diane and I looked forward to have some friends over and doing a nice big, mellow, make a toast and sing Bob Joos happy birthday in the middle of the ride mountain-bike ride kinda ride. It was perfect.

During the ride Johan noted that he was surprised that none of us were on single speeds. We laughed as half of the old Mighty Spot Brand Team was present. Truth is we are all too old and have broken knees, shoulders and backs to ride single speed anymore. We all laughed. The ride was splendid.

merry Christmas dear reader.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Laatste Ronde

Dear Reader,

This is the bottle of Delirium Tremens Noel that I bought before the start of cross season. I have been saving it for the final night of my season. That, dear reader was today.

Today was the last race of the Mid Atlantic Season for me. Solstice Cross in Emmaus, PA offered up an amazingly fun course. . I'll admit, I left home a little earlier than normal. I wanted to get to the venue to ride on a cross course one more time, and to take it all in. I wanted time to talk to the officials, and thank them. I wanted to follow my friends around warming up and gossip a bit. I wanted to see all my friends and peers, just one more time. Just one last time this year, I wanted to breath in all that is regional cross, and racing in the Mid Atlantic. It was wonderful. I am honored to be among you.

My race was less than spectacular. I was a hot mess the first two laps after blowing my start. I was driving really badly, losing ground and anytime I tried to stand on it a bit, I felt like I was losing ground. Kinda like that scene from the replacements:

"You're playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can't move... you can't breathe... because you're in over your head. Like quicksand. "

So yeah, I couldn't drive, and I couldn't throw any watts. HOT MESS. Finally, local Mr. Bowman came around me, and I followed him around. I figured out that while bunny hopping the barriers was super pro, it was slower. Slower isn't pro. I watched Bowman's lines, and then I stole them. My tyres still had too much pressure.

Announcer Dave Pryor encouraged the racers on, and called our group the group battling to be "PEOPLE'S CHAMPION". I smiled, and dug in for the final laps. Finally, I started to make the bike go. I felt like, you know I'm actually an okay bike driver. I worked through the group and Up the final straight I charged to the line, holding off a hard charging Mr. Bowman at the line, rolling across on flat front.

It was that kind of day.

It was the most fun I have had in a race going horribly wrong. So yeah, I'm kinda stoked tonight...

I dilly dallied around in the parking lot talking to friends, and sharing stories from the day.  I knew I needed to get on the road, but I wanted one last moment to breath all this in....

Thank you Mid Atlantic Cyclocross.

God Speed and see you in three weeks Asheville.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Return to December...

Dear Readers,

Loaded up the car last Saturday and headed out to Wrightsville, PA for the Rivertown Cross race put on by the Mason Dixon/Cycle Works crew. The race was the perfect December race. The course was really good, a little tight, some good technical sections and some good power sections to really open things up. Okay, Okay the series of 180's might have been a little excessive, but frankly I appreciated the recovery there, and I needed it! Nestled between a cool small town, and the muddy banks of the Susquehanna river, the course was wicked fun. While the event was low key, the usual suspects showed up for another exciting and battle filled race.  While I had not done this race before, there was a familiar comfort with venue as the parking lot filled up. Partly a product of forgetting my knee warmers, I raced in shorts. In December. I know what you're thinking, "so pro, so Belgian." The entire event- the day was outstanding.
keep it MOOVING Fatmarc ! 
Dear reader, let me tell you a secret, largely a product of school, I haven't raced cross in December since 2012. Yeah, I know, I may have just lost my hard earned button. Don't tell anyone.

I had written down a number of goals back in January, one of them was race cross in December. Score! mark that one off the list.
On the way home through Lancaster there was a water-main break and detour. It was actually a beautiful
tour other then my legs seizing up. I dug this sculpture that said create when you looked from left to right
and influence looked from right to left... create and influence... food for thought..

Photo Credit Christy Perkins
The race went well. The course was tricky, and had some killer off camber that I was LOVING. I found myself in a nice group with some familiar faces in Werner and my teammate Mr. Joe. Rounding out our group was Sean who I haven't raced yet this year. It was a strong and savvy group. We battled wheel to wheel the rest of the way. Good stuff for sure...

Sunday I got out for a nice moutainbike ride. My legs were pretty damn destroyed. Monk was happy to make me suffer any chance she could.
A clean bike is a happy bike...
thanks for reading.

fatmarc VDB
(still cuter than James Franco)