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Monday, July 27, 2015

JAM FUND GRAND FUNDO- Maybe the most fun day on a bike I have ever had...

Dear Readers,
Sometimes everything comes together and makes for a perfect day on the bike.

Last weekend Monk and I traveled north to South Hampton, Mass to participate in the JAM FUND Grand Fundo.  We connected with my brother Craig and his wife Beth, who are both riding really strongly right now.
Craig and Beth!
We originally signed up for the full 65 Fundo, but factoring in that the mini fondo at 40 miles had 3,500 feet of climbing -over 1,000k more than either us has done this year, and both of our knees have been a little creaky lately- switching to the Mini course was the perfect decision.

We got into town on Friday before the event. We got an amazing ride in around the NOHO bike path system. It was fun to spin out the legs. The bike infrastructure in NOHO is amazing. Just Amazing.

Leading up to the ride we would tell friends and folks who have done the Fundo, "we're doing the JAM FUND GRAND  FUNDO!" People would smile and say, "it's an awesome event!" then look really serious and say, "King's Highway Sucks! It's so hard!"

I'll admit, both Diane and I and were a little freaked out about that climb. We were nervous about making it, about getting hurt on it, and frankly from all the talk it had started to take on almost mythical feel to it. While I think only Monk and I had nightmares about it, all four of us knew that miles 13-16.5 were gonna be tough...
King's Highway High Lighted
Happy to report that we all made it over King's safely. It was hard, but was something we were proud of and added a layer of awesomeness to the route. I would have been bummed if we missed this climb...

As I said above, it was just a perfect day. Everyone was super cool and nice, it was great to meet folks from the social medias in real life (Bob and Leslie). We ended up parked next to Benny the Jewlar and Dr. Barry W. Those pesky JBV Kids : Mayhew and Lundgren were just bit away too. We got to ride with Victoria, Tom, Mega and JD for long stretches. It was amazing. We had a number of folks work in with our little group and everyone was just rad.
Literally, digging deep into the bag of courage at the FUNDO !

The course was really fun. The combination of dirt roads, great paved roads and challenging but fun climbing, thrilling descending made the day spot on. For me the dirt roads kept it interesting- you had to pay attention just a little more. They weren't scary, but kept you on your toes, and frankly added a 'cross feel that I was digging.  The rest stops were stocked and had great stuff. I had a peanut butter, fluff, bacon and blueberry sandwich. Seriously, it may have changed my life.  Seriously.
This might be my favorite picture from the Go-Pro

The crowds that we enjoyed up to the first rest stop at mile 22 disappeared as we turned onto the Mini Loop, and we rode the rest of the way in as a foursome. While I missed the wheels to hide on, it gave us a chance to take in some more of the sceanary, and talk some smack among ourselves.

I had anticipated the loop taking us three to three and a half hours. In the end, we rolled into the finish at Black Birch Vineyard's in 2:50. Knock on wood, we had no flats, no injuries, no trouble on the road at all... We were all stoked and destroyed.  We may have been the first folks back, as most choose the full 65 mile loop. We sat down and initiated the recovery protocol, smiled and took in the moment. It was rad to ride with Monk, Craig and Beth. The day was so much fun.

As the riders came in, the kegs were tapped, food was shared. We had a great time sharing stories of the ride, catching up with friends, and capping off a great day. It really was pretty damn amazing day, and I find myself smiling as I remember the day and type this blog. I'm already looking forward to next year's ride!

Photo/Video Blog start now:

a little DCCoD meeting prior to heading out...

J-Pow gives the pre-ride instructions...

Frances is one of the nicest people I've met in cycling stoked to see her this weekend...

not paying attention to J-Pow
Most mellow staging ever!

Mega on dirt road sector 67

Rolling out of Williamsburgh and onto the final rolling section...

The gentleman who latched on to us doesn't seem to be smiling as much as we are!

Beth and Monk Climb...

:20 second video theater starts now:

I stopped for an adjustment and Craig paced me back up to Diane and Beth!:

Final few miles: Monk does what she does locking in on Craig's wheel:

all smiles as we finish up!
Initiate Recovery Protocol...

thanks for reading.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Deluxx Bicycles Cyclocross Team

Dear Readers,

I am very excited to share with you that I will be racing cyclocross this fall as a member of the Deluxx Bicycles Cyclocross Team. John Lux, owner of Deluxx Bikes and the team director, and I have been friends for a number of  years. We share a passion for cyclocross and racing in this region. My goal was to align myself with a small and dedicated cyclocross focused team. I know that I thrive on smaller teams, and pride myself in being a contributor on and off the bike.  John was clearly looking to add some firepower to the team and was searching for a rider who:
  • was a mid pack masters racer
  • coming off of an injury
  • Cuter than James Franco.  

I am grateful for this opportunity, and excited to be racing as part of the Deluxx Bicycles Cyclocross Program. John has been one of those guys that I think of when I think of cross in Mid Atlantic. We've supported/cheered/heckled/consoled each other for years, and I am stoked and honored to have a chance to work with him as team member. This coming together has turned my excitement for #crossiscoming from a 10 to an 11.
Dogs are stoked too! 
Locally, I am grateful for the continued technical support I receive from the kind folks at Newark Bike Line (Dwayne, Roger, Howard) and Henry's Bikes (Matt). Finally,  I am grateful for the beatings thrown down on me by the operatives at Vanderbacon Industries.

It's gonna be a great season!

Thanks for reading.

remember #crossiscoming


Sunday, July 12, 2015

GUEST BLOGGER: JAY CIMINI's C and O Canal Adventure...

Dear Readers,

For just the 3rd time in our 10+ year history, we have a guest blogger here at Jay Cimini has been one of the guys that I have admired, and measured myself against  for the 20+ years I have been riding and racing bikes. Generally speaking, it's been a goal that has eluded me!  Jay is one of the best all around riders I know. While I have never really been in his league, I have always loved the opportunity to chase the guy around. Outside of cycling he's just a great guy- smart, humble and really funny. Now I will admit, his cycling fashion sense sometimes leaves something to be desired, but when you are as fast as Jay- you always look good!

Jay recently completed the C&O Canal path from Cumberland to DC with two other equally strong and good guys: Matt Neugebauer and Chuck Arensberg. I asked Jay to write up a blog about the adventure. He did a great job. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...

Have you ever thought about putting together an all-day ride? It’s something
I've thought about for years after hearing about the legendary Team Delaware
June 20th solstice rides.  I always wondered how to make this happen. Should
it be Mountain or road ride. Who would go?  What's the route? It finally
happened for me when Chuck asked if I wanted to ride the C&O canal tow path
with him.  I said yes-ish at the time since I had not heard a lot about it.  One
search on google maps and I was hooked.  Next on board was Matt so we had a
trio. If you google directions from Cumberland Maryland to Georgetown
Virginia and then click on the bike route option the route magically appears.

It still blows my mind that this gravel tow path that was made for mules over
a 100 years ago still exist.  In my mind it had to be ridden. 183.5 miles of
twisting but continuous tow path (except one 2 mile detour from erosion).
Even more amazing is that if you go the other direction from Cumberland you
end up in Pittsburgh.  We kept joking that we would end up in Pittsburgh on
accident. Luckily we didn’t. I enjoyed the days leading up to the trip.  It
was fun telling people with a straight face we were going to attempt it all
in one day.  I could see the restraint on everyone’s face as I waited for a
reaction.  The looks were priceless but I knew we probably had a 50/50 shot.
Cumberland Maryland seemed to be completely oriented around the cyclist on
the path. The hotels all cater to bikers.  There’s a bike shop along the
trail.  Since the C&O as well as the GAP canals meet there it is a big focus
of the town.

There are a decent number of people along the trail even during the week.
Every 10-20 miles there was a park or a town with local walkers or bikers.
There were fewer long distance travelers that I thought but there were a few.
This is the easiest trip in the world for anyone of any skillset.  Our
planning amounted to picking a day, a hotel (the wrong one 100 feet from a
train yard), the right tires and getting a ride to Cumberland.  Along the
path there are towns with hotels, campgrounds and hand pump wells treated
with iodine to make your trip safe and comfy.  You can make it as hard or as
easy as you want with minimal research.  If you can’t find someone to drive
you and you don’t want to do an out and back or a car drop off you can use a
bus or Uhaul for transport.  There are so many beautiful places to stop and
look.  Many historic spots as well.  One of the coolest places was the 3000
foot long tunnel.  It was amazing.  Only Matt had a light on his bike so
Chuck and I followed.  I could see where to go but not anything around me.
Pretty surreal. Anyway there are many ways to enjoy it and many options for
distance. So if you are interested then check out a portion of the canal and
you’ll be hooked.  Fall must be amazing there.  A mountain bike would be
great but a cross bike with 32c tires was more than adequate. This is one of
the many websites to help you plan There is also a C&O
canal app.

The C&O canal is an amazing feet of engineering itself.  Much of the canal
and the 75 locks still exist.  The unfortunate part about the canal still
being mostly intact is that there is basically 183.5 miles of stagnant water.

Sometimes smelly but mostly green.  There were quite a few people fishing in
it (while smoking for some reason) but it’s hard to imagine any fish in
there.  Not sure I would eat anything that lived in it as it took on the
appearance of the Bayou and I was totally expecting to see a gator come out
at some point. There was tons of beautiful wildlife along the way.  Turtles,
squirrels, deer, blue heron, rabbits, ground hogs, etc.  They caused more
than a couple high pitched screams as they darted out in front of us as we
rode.  The canal was quite a contrast since you had a 10 foot wide stationary
green water on one side and on the other side was the raging Potomac river.
The river was brown like coffee with cream and as wide as a lake in many
places due to the large amount of rain that week.  Quite often the river was
up to the side of the tow path.  Looking across you could see many full size
trees that resided on temporarily invisible (flooded) islands.  

We could not have asked for a better day.  It was about 70-75 degrees the
whole day.  There was also an ever present canopy of trees shading us.  The
straight trail disappeared into the canopy giving it the appearance of a
slight incline even though it was pan flat.

At the start of the day a few people asked us where we were going.  Chuck was
all too proud to say “Georgetown Virginia”.  The most common response to his
answer was “But how far are you going today?”  And Chuck took even more
delight in responding “Georgetown Virginia”.

The ride was a bit more stressful than I thought it would be but it was our
own fault.  There were thousands of puddles, sticks, logs, people and animals
to dodge the whole day.  This was extra stressful when trying to attempt a
pace line.  We started off much too fast but thanks to my crank bolt coming
loose every 5 or 10 miles in the beginning we calmed the pace down.  We
stopped at mile 60 and I got a better Allen key at a hardware store.  That
got us 20 miles before a tighten up.  The last 60 miles it did not come
Allen key not included...
I’m guessing it’s because my legs were pretty shot at that point.
Matt and Chuck never complained once when we had to stop because of the bolt.
I was doing everything I could to prevent it from coming loose.  I was
minimizing accelerations, trying to apply even pressure, high cadence and
mostly I was just pedaling with my right leg.  I was really worried the first
20 miles that this would not be sustainable.  I did a lot of checking to
ensure the bolt didn’t fall off as it would have been the end of the day if I
lost it.  As I mentioned we were trying to draft as much as possible and
combined with all the obstacles we ended up with two minor crashes.

The most vivid memory of the trip I have is Matt climbing up the almost vertical
embankment holding onto trees on his way up.  He was only a couple feet from
entering the raging Potomac after he rolled off the trail during a crash.  It
was like a scene out of the Tour de France except there was a river close by
not a rocky mountain slope.  I scrapped my knee during one crash.  For the
next hour all I could think about was the sensationalized media talk about
deadly bacteria in mud.

The ride started off at 6:30 with a lot of talking but you could only hear
about half of what someone said with all the wind noise.  Still talk of
“session-ing” puddles and goals for the day was fun and it passed the time.
We slowly switch to singing, which was easier.  I was enjoying belting some
Bon Jovi… Living on a Prayer….We’re half way there…. We got some laughs from
people we passed.  By mile 100 we switch to one word communication and
pointing.  Things like TURTLE!!!, STICK!!! Flowers!!! STOP!!!!  I tried to
keep some level of conversation just to keep us connected and an attempt to
determine everyone’s spirit animal was unsuccessful.  We also shared a lot of
our food to try and mix it up and keep each other from bonking.  Straight
honey was the ride favorite.  Matt was drinking it straight from the bear
shaped plastic bottle.  So pro.  I guess his spirit animal could have been
the honey bear.  Everyone took their turn feeling good and pulling on the
front.  We were drafting less and less as the day went by but we always
stayed together.  Each of us were silent for long periods of time as the
miles seemed to take longer and longer. I was glad not to have a computer of
any sort on my bike.

By the time we stopped for lunch in Harpers Ferry at
mile 125 it was after 3:00.  It seemed we were so close with only 60 miles to
go but I did the math: 4 more hours of riding. Daylight was now going
to be an issue.

Riding into Harpers Ferry was pretty funny.
Everyone was on vacation dressed up nice and going for a little walk or hike.
We rolled up covered in mud and blood on our cyclocross bikes.  We rode
around for a little while until we settled in on a small tavern for lunch.
The conversation with the waitress/hostess quickly went sideways.  I was
trying to figure out if they had food to go.  For some reason she kept
repeating the beers they had on tap.  I’m sure I was mostly to blame since I
hadn’t calmed down from riding.  The waitress was super nice but gave you
that look like she was completely high when you were talking to her. She was
a trip.  While we waited for food I rode around the small historic town
looking for food to take with us.  The biggest disappointment of the day came
when I saw a bakery up ahead only to find out it was a historic museum and
the bread was plastic.  Damn you plastic bread!

Back at the tavern we sat down to eat, checked our equipment, unloaded all our food wrappers, updated love ones on our progress and then headed back to the trail.  We were focused
on getting back before dark.

In the last 15 miles we were tempted by paved section next to the tow path
but we decided it was an all gravel day and skipped it.  We rolled into the
parking lot at 8:45.  Perfect timing for an all-day ride.  Minus the crashes
it was a great day to be on the bike.  We all supported each other as much as
we could with food and encouragement.  There was no tension even after the
crashes. At no point did I say to myself “I wish I was at work”. I love my
job but this was way better.

The best feeling was the next day when I thought back to everything that went
right and wrong all that mattered was that we finished.  There was no regret
from a high entry fee or second guessing a decision that could have gotten me
one or two more places higher.  Just the satisfaction that we made it from
Cumberland Maryland to Georgetown Virginia on our bikes.

I want to thank Joanna for driving us to Cumberland and then enduring our
massive BO on the drive home from Georgetown. And Matt for the ride name
#3idiots1canal. Also Chuck for making the idea a reality.

Special Thank to Jay for putting this together, and as always, thanks for reading.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Bike Driving Practice

Dear Readers,

It's July. Officially we can begin to talk about cyclocross.
I met some good friends: Consorto, Travis H, and Dennis Smith ( for some cross fun riding Saturday morning. Travis was testing Cannondale's new cross bike complete with a lefty fork and 45mm gravel tires.
The ride starts out with 25 minutes of flat fire-roads. Not the most entertaining riding, but fun enough and certainly a great place for friends to talk a little junk and shake off the early morning start.
"If this kit makes my ass look big give me a thumbs up!"
We arrive at Lums Pond State Park. The outer loop there is roughly a 30 minute ride all double track, weaving in and out of the woods, some sandy sections, some hard pack and even some pine forest. There are tons of tight twisty corners, open yet slightly technical sections... Plenty of tight turns to head into too hot and see how much you trust your tires. It prompted Dennis to call the place "the new Beacon!" It was perfect.

Just last week, I was driving a bit hard here on the file treads and ended up doing a Pete Rose Slide across the trail on one hard corner... I kept this in my mind as I pushed the corners harder, encouraged by my partners in crime this week.

While the intention was not to push the pace, and certainly not to race each other, it was the kind of group that has ridden together enough that inevitably things got a little froggy. The trust of years of experience of battling each other on rides like this where the only prize is pride and smiles in the parking lot makes this kind of ride special.

The pace gradually crept up as we carved around the park. Jump out of the corners...Use the edge of the tire to corner... take the sven line... watch for an attack- it was so much fun...While no one was trying to pass each other, you also knew that if you fucked up a corner, one or two of your friends were coming past you. 

At the end of our first lap, I made such a mistake, got off the line and drifted into a soft spot. I stood and tried to sprint, but Consorto made the line cleanly and smoothly took over the front of the group.

In my ear, I heard Dennis's voice, as if he was my own personal Jedi Master, " you didn't use your front brake at all. you had the corner, but scrubbed speed with just the rear, that caused you to slide off the line and into the mud..." He delivered his lesson as his momentum carried him past me, and I had to stand and power out to barely keep his wheel. School was in session and I just got some homework.
We knocked out two consistent laps, and finished up with smiles of exhaustion and stoke on our faces.  We picked up the fire-roads and finished up our ride...

Bike Driving Practice. It was amazing... Hoping to get out for a similar ride again soon...

thanks for reading.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

that time there was a crash right in front of me at Great Valley

Dear Readers,

Great Ride at Great Valley Tonight.
It was really fast and fun. One scary moment, after a brief shower two strong and experienced riders got into each other and had a small crash that scared the hell out of me. I think it's a case of slipping on wet lines and causing two riders to try and occupy the same space at the same time. I believe everyone walked away...

remember folks, it's hard out there for a pimp, and we are lucky to play an incredibly fun but tenuous game. Be safe out there folks! I certainly hope no one finds posting this clip ghoulish, it's really to show that we all have to be careful out there, and really careful when it's wet...

Here are a couple of photos from the ride.

Sitting on Big Time Glenn Turner and Kelly's wheels...

Anne Freakin' Rock to the left, me sitting on Kelly's wheel...

Monkey on the Left working her way back into the group...
thanks for reading


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Return to Great Valley...

Dear Reader,

A Wednesday night birthday call and serenading of Anne Rock, quickly turned into a plan for Diane and I also known as the walking wounded these days, heading out to Great Valley.  As we pulled into parking lot 45-67 at the Great Valley Industrial Complex a few drops of rain fell onto the windshield of our Honda. "Figures, I haven't been up to Great Valley in two years, and it's gonna rain when I get here?" Diane said to me with a smile. I laughed and said, "don't worry Hurricane Schwartz says there's a zero chance of rain right now we are good to go." The skies proceeded to drip down on us.
For the uninitiated,  Great Valley is an amazingly fun training crit that goes on every Thursday night and has been happening for at least 25 years. We have always enjoyed it as a great work out and place to learn. This night we just wanted to ride. The group took off with maybe 50 riders, a little smaller than I remember the last time we were here, but still a sizable group. Thirty laps, thirty miles. As we ticked off the miles, the pace seemed to creep up, and the rain began to intensify. I remember thinking to myself, this is probably not the smartest thing I have ever done but it so much fun. Mark Wise's voice echoed in my head like my own personal angry Yoda, "Step into the arena..."

About mid way through, I was struggling to hold wheels, this was hard. I looked over and saw Anne and smiled and cheered for her saying,"Surf's up Anne" and the skies pelted us, and the group now whittled down group kept driving forward.
On or about lap 20, I realized I had crept way too far forward in the pack, and was risking violating my one rule for the night- no matter what, don't stick your nose in the wind. I saw my friend Chuck and I said to him, "dude, if I'm up here near you, I'm way to close to the front." I sat up a bit to roll to the back, and quickly realized there was no longer a pack behind us. The remaining 15 riders or so continued to plow forward through the final laps, and all I could do was watch them pedal away. I had never been so happy to be dropped in my life. There was absolutely nothing I could do to grab that last wheel. I had thrown it all out there. I was cooked.  I was stoked.
A few seconds later, I was joined by Monk and Anne, who had come off the back a few laps earlier. We continued to pedal together. Each of us was soaked to the bone. Each of us was exhausted, Each of us smiling ear to ear. I looked over at my wife and good friend smiled and said, " I don't think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for quite a while!"

We all laughed.

 The skies continued to pour on us, as we soft pedaled our final lap on this night.

thanks for reading.

fatmarc vanderbacon.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"On your left dear!"

Dear Readers,

Last Friday night, Diane and I set out for our normal Friday evening ride from the Ticking Tomb. However with both of us being hurt so much this year, it's only the third time we've done this ride this year. Diane is getting over the flu and her knee flared back up a while ago, so she has been off the bike for about a month.

The ride is mostly fire-roads (note I did not say gravel) and flat. Diane was on her MTB, and I was on my single speed cross bike because #CROSSISCOMING.

Diane and I were going a proper Friday Night Date Night Ride Pace. We talked shit, we laughed.

On the way back a nice gentleman on a cross bike caught up to us.  As he passed he looked over at Diane and said, "on your left dear." He passed, and switched to his drops and started applying some anger to the pedals.

"easy." I said to Diane.

"I hate when people call me dear." She responded. I knew she was more frustrated by the pass and attack than being called dear.

The nice gentleman on the cross bike rode about 50 yards in front of us and he turned and looked back to see if we were giving chase.

I knew Diane saw the look back.

"Easy.." I said, "It's a Friday night spin, you've been off the bike for a month let it go. He's attacking us it's cool."

"Hrmph" I heard Diane groan.

20 second later the path splits, with one side being paved the other side a dirt road. The nice gentleman who now was probably 100 yards in front of us started to sit up a bit. I watch him turn and look back again.

I instantly thought to myself, "dude, really? we are obviously chilling and you give us the Lance Armstrong look back twice?"  (could also be what I lovingly refer to as a Doyle look back if you've ever ridden with him. Really not sure who patented that move first.)

Then I heard it. "Chunk, Chunk" as Diane shifted down a couple of gears and our pace went from Friday Night Date Night ride, to full on pursuit.

"Are you sure this is smart? Is this good for your knee? Is this good for my knee.. come on now" I said to her.

There was no dissuading her. I sat on her wheel, as she drilled for almost 5 minutes.

I could see the kind gentleman on a cross bike, he had looked back again and was still in his drops mashing away. We were closing in. We got to maybe 25 yards when I heard Diane,

"PHHHHFUCK!"  the words  along with Phelgm and spittle fell off her lips. They were chased by these "I'm so slow right now. That hurt... "

We both sat up. I smiled at her and said, "you know that was really stupid."

She smiled that coy smile that I fell in love with so many years ago, " I know, I just hate when someone calls me dear.."

We spun gently the rest of the ride and back to the parking lot at the ticking tomb...

In other news, with #CROSSIS COMING I decided to step up my game a bit from riding 5 days a week to 6 days a week. My knee didn't like this idea so much and Tuesday night after my ride blew up a little bit. I gonna be taking a few rest days to try and get this back in order... This whole patience and balance thing is bullshit I tell you. Bullshit...

Keep the dream alive.

thanks for reading.