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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.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Now Brown Cow...

Dear Readers,

Did a wonderful ride today with Bert and his crew. Hardest/Longest ride I've done in a long time. Despite being destroyed, I was and am stoked. Great group, and Bert is an incredible ride leader.

We came upon this one sector of the course and this guy decided he wanted to lead us out:

The live video action...

Buddy got a flat early:

And a few more pictures from the ride.

Lots of going up today...

Covered bridge was super cool..

More Cow...

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gotta Stay Positive- an early June Update!

Dear Readers,

Last week was a really good week of riding for me. I may have overdone it a bit, but I'll watch the volumes a bit more this week.

In the past few weeks, I have gotten to venture out and start doing some local group rides. On each one I did I was so stoked to make it to the finish of the ride. In each situation, I was throwing everything I had out there, and using every bit of energy, and 20+ years of deception and guile I had to stay in the group. My long time friend Dennis Smith looked back over his shoulder for me 3x during our ride Sunday. I suspect it was to make sure I wasn't turning blue, as I was breathing so hard  and loudly. I must have sounded like a steam train.

  Karl put the screws to me as we sped up the church climb on Saturday.  He has been wonderful keeping an eye on me, and pushing me home when needed through out this process...

On a local club ride last week,  I thought I had positioned myself well going into Spears Hill, the only hill on the ride, but I was wrong and I was quickly popped and dropped.

Thankfully, the kind gentlemen (Todd, Brad and Matt) were merciful on my soul and sat up letting me get back on the group... That would have been a long lonely ride back to the lot...

I stumbled across a blog post that I had booked marked a while ago, and frankly it's been a bit of a mantra for me these past couple of weeks. How much can I suffer? The more I can suffer, the faster I can go...  On each group ride I have done I've focused on 3 things:

1. ride smart, don't waste energy
2. suffer hard, and embrace it
3. keep a mind to what's the knee is doing

I find it a bit exhilarating. As Mark Wise has said to be "you can choose to be in the stands or in the arena. No one cares about your issues, you can choose to sit back and watch  or you can get in the arena! I choose to get in the arena!"
"get in the arena!"
In some ways, getting hurt has brought the fire back to my belly. Heck even on strava where in many cases I can't sniff my PR's on sections, I have enjoyed setting goals, and crushing my soul in an effort to achieve them. If I had a vision quest before... it's even greater now...  Baby steps... Progression...

As for my knee, it's getting stronger. It's getting better, but it's not right yet. That's toughest part of all of this is that I know that I'm walking a tricky line between getting stronger and healing and everything blowing up again...

I am cautious and constantly monitoring my riding time, and my work load to figure out how much I can push it, without going over the line. Small incremental adjustments, and lots of resting afterwards.

All this to say, that these showed up today:

Yeah- I'm pretty stoked- more on these later, they deserve their own blog...
 (don't mind the dog in the corner)
New cross frames. I am totally stoked. I'm not in anyway ready for cross season, but I am thinking about it, dreaming about it...

In a final bit of Fatmarc news, back in March I made the tough decision to leave C3-Twenty20. As I told Auer, I'll always be one of his guys, but I needed to make a change. I didn't say anything on the blog at that time, because I didn't see myself racing again.  I obviously have a little more optimistic view look right now.  For the time being I planning on racing for Vanderbacon Enterprises, with my hopes high that another iron I have in the fire comes to fruition.(keep your fingers crossed for me) .

So, that's the world as I know it. Your favorite mid-pack masters racer signing off!

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fatmarc goes to Washington.

Dear Readers,

As a general blog rule, I never talk about my work, or my job. I'm gonna break that rule today.

I love my job, and I love the company I work for. Our company is 100% employee owned, and long before it was fashionable to be "green", we were focused on being a sustainable organization. Our company headquarter buildings are both LEED certified, and we have onsite recycling as well as a recycle center for the entire community. Sustainable is larger than being being environmentally sound, it's creating jobs and a company that's in it for the long haul. If a business isn't profitable- the company won't be sustainable for the long haul. We have prided ourselves in answering to a tipple bottom line:   People, Planet and Profit.  Being an employee owned company is also a critical part of our company's strategy to be sustainable and thrive in the future.

The mission of our company is to be our stakeholder's favorite company. I work for a shoe company, we recognize that we won't likely be the only shoes in a woman's closet, but we hope to be her favorites. As an HR guy, (that's what I do), I know that most folks will not work for us their entire career, but I certainly hope when they look back at their time with they say, "that place was special. it was my favorite employer"

Our company is what is referred to as a high road employer. Our founders have always believed in sharing the successes of the company, and again striving for our mission of being our stakeholder's favorite.  We offer competitive compensation packages pay, paid time off, paid maternity/paternity leave, rich health benefits, education benefits (how I got my masters!) great work life balance- in the end we want a passionate and engaged team. As an owner it's clearly in all of our best interests for the company to be successful! Again, as an HR guy this sets up a situation where I get to be a partner, and not the handbook cop. I did mention I love my job right?

Recently our company was asked to speak with the Democratic Progressive Caucus regarding our high road employment practices. Our CEO and one of our founders is an amazing woman, and an incredible speaker. She was however unavailable and I was asked to go to Washington tell our story, and answer questions.

I was terrified.

I love our country. While I may not always agree with either side of the political spectrum, I have great respect for the folks the choose public service, and are called to be civic leaders. I hold our history, and traditions with great reverence. Like I said, I love our country.

I was blown away to be in the Capital Building, in the office of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer talking about high road employment practices as well as  being employee owned. Congressmen Keith Ellison organized the event, and invited myself and two other businesses to tell our story and answer questions.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Representative Keith Ellison headed up the meeting...
It was intimidating initially sitting around a table with 22 congressmen and women sharing the story of our company, but as things got going it was awesome.  I won't lie, I was a little star struck, but when it got down to business, we were there to share our successes, and they wanted to know how it worked. I gotta say I really appreciated the passion and commitment of the folks I got to meet with, even if personally my politics might not line up exactly with them.  The day was an amazing experience. This was an incredible opportunity, that is not lost on me. It was a day that I will cherish...

Walking out of the Capital Building, I was grinning like a Cheshire cat. I looked to my right and who was standing there giving a lunch time stump speech- Bernie Freakin' Sanders. I wanted to take a picture, but  I'll admit I didn't want to look like dork.
John Lewis a leader in the Civil Right Movement.
Then Congressmen John Lewis, who was attending our meeting walked out behind us. He greeted us, and thanked us for sharing our experiences.  Lewis was a key player in the civil rights movement. The man is a legend. I couldn't resist having my picture taken with him. Dork Confirmed.
trying to play it cool, and failing.
I recognize that many "cuter than James Franco" may not share some of the political views expressed above. I respect that, I do hope that you can see past left and right, and enjoy the story and experience a bit... It was a day to remember for sure. I felt like I had a shit eating grin on my face the entire time, scratching my head with David Bryne ringing in my head, "how the hell did I get here?" I'm still smiling...

And to my friends in Cleveland- I came home from DC tonight and hopped on the bike and rode some fire-roads. After that Monk and I grabbed some nachos and called it a night.  It was a pretty damn good day for sure. Strava file here.

still stoked on this experience.

thanks for reading.


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Reader Mail and that time we almost got taken out by a BBQ Grill...

Dear Fatmarc,

I thought this was a bike blog? What the hell man? All I've read about recently has been vacation, skateboarding, and very little about actually riding bikes. I mean do you even bike bro?

Concerned in Cleveland.

Dear Concerned in Cleveland,

Since my set back in April, and my brief skateboarding renaissance, I have actually been riding a bike. Knee is getting better, but is not 100% yet. I've been putting in about 6 hours a week, and while I'm hungry for more, I'm trying to play this smart. I keep telling myself, get the knee right before the fitness can be right. I'm careful watching my numbers and not doing to much. I've been stoked to be able to sit in on some of the local trail rides, and spent lots of time riding my mountain bike on flat fire roads around the canal. But just to keep all the "cuter than James Franco" fans in Cleveland happy here's a couple of pictures from today's ride with Buddy and Diane:

and here's a video of a BBQ Grill that almost took us out:

music by the amazing Biz Markie and the Beastie Boys

thanks for reading Cleveland, and everyone else too!