Thursday, April 30, 2009

155: 15 things you need to know about Granogue

Is everybody in, Is everybody in ? the celebration is about to begin…

15 things you need to know about the Granogue Race Weekend:

15. L-web makes the best coffee world...

14. Hera Cancer Foundation Pre-Ride leaves Saturday 11:30 promptly. No late riders will be let on course. $5 donation to the Hera foundation and a magic wrist band (which we provide) gets you in. Anyone poaching the pre-ride will be cursed with bad karma for ever or at least 7 years.

13. Please bring water.

12. The word's on the streets and it's on the news: I'm not gonna teach him how to dance with you. He's got two left feet and he bites my moves. I'm not gonna teach him how to dance with you.

11. Even though Harlan is going to Michaux, we still love him. Just for Harlan we added new sections of single track, but he's going to miss them. :(

10. Thank you very much for coming out to celebrate our good friend Andrew Mein. Andrew was a founder of the Wooden Wheel MTB team version 2.0, (2x MAC Champs, 2001 MASS champs) and man for who many were brought into this sport. His motto was “be an ambassador for the sport”. Andrew was hit in and killed in Newark in 1998, while riding his fixed gear bike home from work. We have this race in his honor, and to celebrate his life. Thanks for joining in.

9. $1 for every rider entered will be donated to the Hera Women’s Cancer Foundation. If you have not bought a raffle ticket please seen our good friend Sam and buy a raffle Saturday at the pre-ride or Sunday before your race or here.

8.Thanks to the Duponts who are kind enough to allow us to play in their front yard. Please enjoy the course, and we will look forward to seeing you here for our cross race, but otherwise please do not ride the trails on the estate.

7. If you ignore our request to stay off the private estate and poach the trails please don’t blog about it, or put it up on facebook, because someone will email it to us, and then we'll think you are a douche. Yes, we are the man that is keeping you down. We like our little race, we hope to keep it going for years, or until we can sell it for a zillion dollars. Any extra traffic on the estate hurts our race. We hate the idea of this race dieing.

6. Don’t worry we really love you, we really, really do…

5. This race is put on not by one team but by a community of people. The following groups are represented in the groups that have made this race possible: First State Velo Sport, Secret Henry’s Team, Deep Blue, Visit Pa, Fast Forward Racing Productions, Bike Line,, Brandywine cyclery, ELK and Sam, Allied Milk, Deep Blue, Delaware Cyclocross Coalition of Delaware, and the all mighty Frank Zappa Kappa.

4. There was a rumor that Johnathan Vaulters was coming to the race to scout talent and give someone a contract. Truth is, it's just some hipster kid on his fixie drawing anarchy signs on the portolets. We have some nifty plaques as prizes today folks and a sweet raffle, but trust me, no one is waiting at the finish line to tell you to quit your day job and take up racing full time. There is nothing that we are offering that is worth hurting yourself or someone else over. Pass nicely, be kind to each other out there. Celebrate don't hate. On Monday we are all back to being Actress/waitresses; stuntman/repairman; bike racers/customer service professional; Mom/plumber; college students/strippers. We all need to be safe out there...

3. don’t cheat, if you do, you suck. It doesn't matter if you are the prettiest and most talented rider in the world. If you cheat, you are pathetic. If you hit someone, you will be banned from all granogue events for life. If cheaters are pathetic, we can't describe what someone who punches someone at a race is. (we call this the baker rule for punching, not cheating)

2. The course is a classic northern Delaware mtb course. There are logs, off camber trial, bridges, tunnels, roots, rocks, possible yetis, things that might cause you to have a flat tire. Come prepared for a very challenging event. The loop is 7 miles long (really), have a great time out there, enjoy the great single track… apply the golden rule of mountain biking: when in doubt dismount.

1. The race is on Diane’s birthday weekend. She has been working very hard with all of us. If you see her please wish her a happy birthday.

fatmarc, Tom and Lauri

Sunday, April 26, 2009

154: sixteen minutes and thirty-seven seconds...

As beautiful, social, picturesque and hip as cyclocross is, time trials are the complete opposite. Time Trials are by far the geekiest part of bike racing. People in skin-suits, helmets out of spaceballs, and ridiculous bikes that really are the most one dimensional bikes ever.

That being said, I have really come to enjoy time trialing.

Today I did the the Cape May TT. The race went well, I was happy with my time of 16:37 for a 12k. That time was good enough for 6th in the cat 4 group. Now I type the number 16:37 with some bit of controversy. You see 16:37 was the time the stop watch on my bike said as I crossed the line. The watch that I started when the race started, and looked at when I crossed the line.

However, when the officials posted the results, they had my time listed as 17:07. I stepped into the trailer where the officials were calculating the results. I calmly explained that my time was off, strangely by :30 seconds exactly.

The officials were very kind, asked if I made my start time, which I did, and then showed me the basic math of my start time, minus my finish time equals finish time equalling 17:07.

I explained that although I went to school for English (yes, Jan I know you'd never know from reading this blog), I understood how basic addition and subtraction worked. I tried to probe a bit into the fact that the time was off by :30 seconds exactly, that was kinda weird right?

I explained that there was no time flux capacitor on my bike, and just asked how my watch could be off by :30 seconds, starting it when I started, and stopping it just after crossing the line? I knew something wasn't right.

Again, the kind official showed me the math.

Putting myself in their shoes, I imagined how it must have seemed: some silly, overweight, bad side-burned cat4 complaining that his finish time was :30 off. I can just imagine them thinking, "hey big boy, why don't you lay off the Ben and Jerry's if you want to make up the :30? Go hit the bricks..."

They were very helpful and polite, and explained they wanted to get the results right, but there was no way the math was off. I could see this wasn't getting anywhere. I wasn't really angry, I just wanted my time right.

I took the high road. I thanked them very much for their time, and told them I appreciated their race and that hell, it's only a cat 4 time trial, I know they had more races to score. I had fun, I knew what I rode, I figured it was what it was. I wished them well, and they wished me well. I walked out of the trailer.

It was only when the 45+ results were posted that I figured out what had happened. As the 45+ men looked at their results, 3 of the men dropped to the ground clutching their chests, seizing in cardiac arrest muttering, "time is off by 30 seconds... tell my wife I love her..."

You see pretty much every master 45+ rider knew their race time, the question was just to see how they stacked up against their rivals. And when every one's time was off by 30 seconds, it was pretty clear that there was a mistake somewhere...

So in the end, my entire class was off by :30 I was still 6th, but my time was 16:37. I won't even get into the fact that it was 16:32 when I hit the line, I'll just commiserate with a pint of Ben and Jerry's, my old friends...

everyday I heart chip timing a little more...

like I said, nothing is geekier than time trialling...

Thanks to the officials, and all of the 45+ masters riders went home and kissed their wives.

Thanks to Joe Saling and Crew for a really fun day, and a great time trial. I'll be back next year for sure. Now maybe I can get that flux capacitor for my bike..


Granogue is next weekend. You should register today. Is your name on this list? All the cool kids have their names on this list.

Granogue pre-ride starting promptly at 11:30 Saturday the 2nd. A $5 dollar donation to the Hera Foundation gets you a chance to preview the NEW single track before the race... No riders will be permitted to leave on to the course after 11:30am; BE TIMELY !!!

While you are at it, you should buy a raffle ticket. It'll make you feel good!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

153: Tequila Tuesday

go here. Register now. I will love you forever. Thank you.

Tuesday 4:30, sitting at work.

Phone rings.

“hello? Fatmarc speaking…” It’s Jan.

“Are you riding the hammer ride tonight?” Jan asks.

I scoff, “no way man, I’m pretty shattered still, I might ride easy, I don’t think I can really sit on a seat yet.”

Jan makes me a proposition, “wanna go to picnic and drink?”

I respond, “my legs feel better already, see you at 6:00…”

Tequila Tuesday might be better than ½ priced Nacho Night…

Just saying...

SANCTIONED GRANOGUE PRE-RIDE Saturday May 2, starting promptly at 11:30

$5 donation to Hera women’s Cancer Foundation. All you brothers and Sister out there poaching the course and posting about it on facebook, here’s your chance to get some good Karma back!

But wait there's more than one way to help the HERA FOUNDATION:

HERA Raffle Tickets will be sold and drawn at the event, but why wait, go here and buy a raffle ticket now!!

The economy sucks right now. We all know someone, or maybe live with someone facing a lay off. Ticket sales are down this year. Take this opportunity to swing in and support a good cause and have a better chance to win some sweet swag!!!

Finally, sign up for the mtb race that everyone marks on the calendar every year, make me a happy man go here and register now! Granogue, the only race going on the weekend of the 2nd-3rd that's more than 10 years old.

Register and I will love you forever.

Here’s Layla in action…


Sunday, April 19, 2009

152: una versus the bull

This is Una. This is the bull.Friday afternoon as we arrived in Leesburgh and began to settle into our little compound, Una saw the bull and decided to give it a little what for. Una charged under the electric fence and after the bull. The bull, startled by the ball of fur charging at her turned and ran.

Harlow slipped through the electric fence to grab Una. I jump through as well. Harlow saying, "come here Una.." the Bull realizing the situation started to turn and come back for some pay back. nervously I said, "Harlow we gotta go, the bull is coming back." Harlow calmly collecting Una, "it's okay..." In my more high pitched agitated voice I conveyed the situation, "the bull is coming back!!"

Harlow, Una and I skirted our way through the electric fence and back to the safety of our compound before the Bull could get to us. That was the start of the weekend.

As for the Farewell Tour's race, it went well. Peaches, Buddy and I all did our best. Personally, I was really pleased with my ride. As a team, I am confident we left everything we had out on the course.

Today proved what I have always said, that these races are less about magic, and more about planning. I unfortunately made a bad strategic move and doomed my team in the process. I saw it happening but wrote a check my body couldn't cash thinking "I'll make it up here" I just dug the hole deeper.

About 1/4 into the race, we had gotten ourselves into second place. The other top teams in our class all switched to a single lap rotation. I insisted that we stick to our plan, and work through another round of double lap rotation. What I hadn't counted on was that in heat of the new sun on our second laps, Buddy, Peaches and I all fell off our first lap times 2-3 minutes. In essence we gave away close to 10 minutes with that error. Our team fell back to 4th place with 5th hot on our heels.

In the end, despite our chasing and charging we'd finish in a respectable fourth place, far more than 10 minutes down on 3rd. I think we would have loved to have made a trip to the podium, especially considering this was our farewell tour, but frankly we were all also satisfied with the fact that we did our best. Truth was, we were the 4th best team in our class today.

The finish of the race was somewhat bittersweet. We were excited for the end of the race, pleased with our efforts, but also the reality of "farewell tour" began to really sink in. I was actually a little sad with the very real possibility that this might have been the last time Buddy, Peaches and I race in one of these things together.

As I said above, I was really happy with my effort, I "raced" all my laps, was aggressive and never allowed myself to be satisfied. I just kept on the suffering button and pushing each lap. It was a good effort for me especially during the off season.
Totally proud of Monkey, Johnny, and Kat who took 5th in the coed division, but were the first team with 2 women on it. Monkey and I didn't hang out too much once the racing started but it was cool to watch the three of them working together and making things happen. (that's not johnny in the photo, but Doron)

Overall, our little compound did pretty well:

1st Duo: Wes/Jeb
2nd Duo: Bad Andy/Auer
3rd Duo: Les (international man of mystery)/Elk
5th Duo: Jan/CZ
1st Coed Tri: L-web/Rotten/Slick Rick
5th Coed Tri: Monkey/Bad Kat/ Sweet Johnny
? Coed Tri: Doron/Shawn/Harlow
3rd men's tri: Bilson/Meatball/Hardy
4th men's tri: Fatme/Peaches/Buddy
? men's tri: Norman/Joe/Matt
1st master's tri: Brian B (father of jeb, wife of L-web/Kurtee/ Little Tom (formerly kid chris)
Solos included Mark the Shark, Sven and Melanie Nystrom, and Pete Kennedy.

Props to Mark the Shark, and Cz who made their debuts in the endurance mtb game, and both did very well. I expect they'll both be back. Also to Doron, who made her endurance debut on a borrowed bike, and as I understand it had never really mountain biked before this weekend.

And her dog bit Tom. (no one was injured)

As I was kinda getting all emo, as everyone settled down after the race, Peaches in the manner that Peaches always does, smiled at Buddy and I and said, "you know the Rolling Stones have had like what 20 farewell tours or something ?"

Hope once again springs eternal.

here are some pictures and additional commentary.

Jim came out and although I'm sure didn't plan on wrenching for everyone, he saved probably 4 team's races this weekend; thank you so much for all your help Jim.

Tom's bike was cannibalized repeatably. Parts from his bike are currently on 6 other riders bikes today...

I'm not a bike racer but, I did sleep in the back of a Honda Element last night. If you look carefully you can see Monkey under that pile of sleeping bags.

The calm before the storm.

Rotten and L-Web, coupled with Slick Rick, just 13 hours away from victory.

Slick Rick the ruler and International Man of Mystery Les Leach.

Jan and Bad Andy just before the start.

The morning before the race I had to go back and ride a section of single track that I had followed Buddy through the night before. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to ride the same lines, or at the same speed without his wheel to follow. I don't think I ever nailed it like during the pre-ride...

Jeb leads out the start. Jan is also in that lead group...



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

151: retrospective

For the final few years that I focused on mountain bike racing, I had really become focused on team endurance races. We had a great core of people, a plan, and we trusted each other. We were a bunch of mediocre experts, who alone amounted to not much more than role players. But together as a team, we were able to do some special things, we were able to win some races, and I know personally I dug deeper for my teammates during those events than I ever could racing on my own. It was a very special time, and part of my racing life that I really cherish.

Often supported by Tom, and managed by Fitzy; Lauri, Buddy, Peaches and I would end up doing 6-7 team endurance events a year, in addition to some solo enduro stuff, as well our normal cross country. Bob, Paul, Keith, James, Dan, Rick, Breyla, Wes, Monkey, Andrew, Ethan, Robert, Les, even some 11 year old kid would often round out our line ups. Most folks never focused on the team stuff, we did. We had a system, we had a plan, and we always knew that we could count on each other. That was pretty awesome.
Coming into 2009, we all found ourselves in different places. 2007/2008 saw us all grow into other area of the sport, of our lives. 2008 was the first year that we as a group didn't compete in a team endurance race together. Buddy has focused on the Michaux enduro series the past few seasons. Lauri is racing while balancing being supermom to Jeff and Meghan. Fitzy moved to Colorado and is working on building a life there. I have been obsessively focused on my cross racing. Peaches has been getting busy starting a family. Peaches has a wonderful wife Amy, two amazing boys, with third on the way.

Registration for Baker's dozen opened up, Buddy, Peaches and I decided to get the band back together and race together for another one of these great team races... Our team name : Reunion Tour.
With Baker's Dozen looming, the name of our team has kinda morphed into something else: Farewell tour.

I realized we won't ever be able to re-capture what we had during that run. Life just doesn't work that way. But I also realize that we have some history, and maybe just maybe we be able to use some of that guile, experience and savvy to find one last solid result.
As we toe the line next week, based on my own google-stalking, if things go well I'm hoping we'll be one of 5 teams that will battling for the win in our class. Peaches, Buddy and I haven't talked about our strategy, the course, or who is bringing what. We don't have too, we have a system and just like it was yesterday will apply it.
Maybe during our little run we didn't realize that what we were doing was kinda awesome. But I want to let all those guys: Peaches, Buddy, Lauri, Fitzy, and Tom and everyone that was a part of it know that I do. I do recognize how awesome it was. And with that, I am greatly looking forward to this weekend, to have fun, and for maybe one last time experience that magic that we were able to conjure up.
Maybe, just maybe we'll be able to find a little bit of that old magic once again...

If not, it's going to be a fun race, and thanks to all my friends who helped make this run so special and really fun.

see you at the baker's this weekend...

best to you.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

150: skellington

"your dogs always seem so happy, like they have a smile on their face or something..."

Layla versus Diane's bike on the trainer... beautiful....

Monday, April 13, 2009

149: Monday, calm before the storm...

I am reading a book called "once a runner". Clearly I am not a runner, but the parallels to the cycling lifestyle and how my days are structured are feel pretty clear to me. Wonderful book, I can't seem to put it down.

I stole this from James:

Get your Big Bike Gear Raffle Tickets NOW!

Up for grabs is a chance to help HERA find a cure for ovarian cancer and a super cool custom 26” mountain bike fork. Donated by Independent Fabrication, a custom bike frame builder, this and many other prizes are being raffled off to support HERA Women's Cancer Foundation. Win gear from companies like White Industries, Shebeest, Timbuk2, Shenandoah Mountain Touring, Snappy Caps, Tomicogs, Mountain Khakis, Gripped Films, EWR and many more. Winners will be selected on May 3 and raffle tickets are available online.

100% of raffle proceeds are donated the HERA Foundation.

Way cool products, way cool time, and helping Sam spread the word about cancer awareness and help find a cure.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

148: switcheroo

Congratulations to the The Whiskey Springs Junior Development team, the 2009 Open Relay Champions:

After a closer examination of that picture, I have to admit the Open Championship Cup looks an awful lot like the old MAC Cup Team championship trophy. You know the one that Leech supposedly "lost" or was next to the lost ark that is hidden in the corner of Gunnar's Garage in West by GOD Virginia.

Now, I'm not saying it is the old MAC Cup, but it does have a very similar look. As a guy lucky enough to drink beer from the cup 10 years ago, it's a funny coincident that the Open Cup looks looks so similar. I mean if it was the old "lost" MAC cup I have to admit, it sure looks better in the hands of the Whiskey Springs DEVO team than sitting on Auer's coffee table filled with pennies and house keys...

On the Tuesday night ride I like to try and do, affectionately called the smack-down ride, there is a good little climb that finishes at an intersection with a stop light at the top of the hill. If I have done this loop 30 times in the last couple of years, I can't think of anytime that we ever made that light. We always have to stop and wait for the green...

So tonight, I admit was getting smacked around pretty badly. I mean worse than normal. I really turned myself inside out at the open, and wasn't so fresh today. As the group climbed it's way up the hill that ends at a stop light, I found myself falling off the back. I was getting dropped, and very shortly my night with the smack-down ride was going to be over.

With 200 yards left in the climb, I reached deep in to my stomach of rage and found a little more, as I stood and sprinted my guts out. I figured if I can kill myself for a bit, I can get back on, and then catch my breath as we wait for the light.

I cruised up to the group and figured what the hell, I'd make a cheeky move and I whipped around the group and went to the front. I accelerated for another 10 yards or so, just enough to have a little gap, and then I sat up and let the bike roll as I crested the hill to the red light.

Then the fucking light turned green. Seriously, the first time I can ever remember we actually made that light. I was totally over the limit, seeing double in oxygen debt, and the light turned green. I was so totally screwed.

Karma is a cruel mistress.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

147: the open

The Open Relay. One of my favorite events all year. had a pretty nice contengency:
Director Kris Auer giving us a rousing pre-race motivational speech:
"ride fast you bitches or else you are off the team!!"

Ladies love Sweet Johnny:

Chick Talk:

Breyla-la competing for the first time since breaking her leg. She was rad.

Kim looks good in black. Stoked to have you as a teammate:

here's mud in my eye:

here's Jan:

Here's Jan through the eyes of a chicken:
Love this shot of Monkey after her lap:

Tom the world's oldest junior development team member:
Tom said, "it only took me 30 years of training to make the junior development team. I'm stoked."
My ass is HUGE.

Drew is fast.

Step stakes, caution tape, short hard effort are you sure this isn't cross?

Bike Liners. I was trying really hard to catch JW on the final lap. I failed miserabely. It's spring, I know this because Dan shaved off his beard.
Damned fast kids.
It goes without saying.
My day was pretty much summed up as taste of State Cawledge. Managed by Jimbo, I managed to start each lap with a State Cawledge superstar. First Ferrari handed it to me, next it was Oneal, and for dessert Alcorn. Needless to say I was pretty destroyed by the end of the day.
thanks Kuhn and Visit Pa for another great Open Relay.