Thursday, December 31, 2009

070: exciting times

Pretty exciting things going on around the Fatmarc house:

After cross season when I jumped back on my mountain bike, the cockpit felt very tight.
This was the same cockpit that I rode in the past 2 years, but felt fine. Three rides, and the bike
Just felt funny.

So I switched out this stem: a 75mm

For this stem a 90mm.
For those math whizzes at home, that’s 15mm that I added to the length of my cockpit.

Two rides with the new stem and it feels so much more comfortable. My new stem has brought even greater happiness to my rides.

I do wonder why after riding a bike in a certain position for almost 2 years, and frankly really liking the position, what made it feel wrong when I jumped back on it this year. Should I have left well enough alone? Perhaps I’ve changed my riding style in a fashion that having 15mm more of cockpit is now needed? Maybe I rely entirely too much on feel.

Perhaps the extended cockpit will position me in a matter that will enable me to improve in incredible ways, and I will be markedly faster this spring than during the past two. Maybe I’ll be able parlay that increased speed into a fantastic 2010 cross season. Perhaps on the last day of the year 2010, I will look back at my wonderful year, I will attribute it to the 15mm I gained in cockpit area, because I changed my stem.

Perhaps, December is just a weird time to be writing in a blog. I do like my new stem.

Tuesday Night I got out with the “loops I did it again” group for an outstanding ride around Middlerun. The trails had superhero traction. Todd, Buddy the keg breaker, Michigan Matt, Peaches, Ted Logic, Jan and Myself made up the group for the last “loops I did it again ride” of 2009. Here’s the geeky elevation change.
Happy New Year’s Folks.

Be safe out there …


Sunday, December 27, 2009

069: Bloggers and Douche Bag Rides

My name is Fatmarc Vanderbacon, and I am a blogger.

I enjoy telling stories, and reading the stories that other bloggers post.

In the beginning the list of blogs I read was tracked by my link list on the side of my blog.
This was tough, because I often found myself going down the list each night as I was looking for new posts, not everyone posts every day. (thank goodness I can’t keep up with that kinda schedule)

A little over a year ago, Wes introduced me to Google Reader.

Google reader was a god send, and basically allowed me to follow more blogs, as it pulled stories into my “queue”. The newest posts would be listed first, and as I marked them read, they would move on out. I increased the blogs that I followed, but the downside was the reader “scrapped” the info and sometimes pictures. Stories were good, but I missed going to the actual blog sites to see how the author had set up the page. I missed the header photos, or information about the author on the right. Frankly, I thought that was one of the best parts of blogging, seeing everyone express themselves through the set up of the actual blog. Reader, took some of this away.

In the last few weeks I added a gadget to my blog. Essentially it lists all the blogs on my reader with a link to the right of my page. Clicking on it takes you directly to blog. You see the story in it’s original setting as the author intended it. I love this feature. Now a days I have up loaded all the blogs in my reader into my blog roll* and show the 10 most recent posts.
I get to read the story with the pictures, in the setting as the author intended. I am super stoked. I am back to using my blog as the central depository for my blog reading. Awesome.

*There is one other blog that is on my reader that I don’t have on my blog roll:

Gwadzilla, the iconic blogger who I credit with getting started. Gwadzilla posts like a mad man, and with only the 10 most recent posts showing on the blog, having Gwadzilla would most likely result in an all Gwadzilla, all the time blog roll. Nice for a while, but I do like some diversity in my blogs.
I met some friends for a "no douche bags" road ride today. The ride was a little over 2 hours, with a great group that gets the rules that there will be no "douche bag" moves today, no "lance armstrong look back climbs". Just a solid base paced ride. Very fun.

The group was: Jan, Conair, CZ, (i)Paul, Lisa Lisa, MTB Mike, JDub, Sanford, Dennisbike, Charlie F, Disco, Doc, and K-man. (hope I didn't miss anyone.)
the ride was fun, but now my legs hurt.

thanks for reading.
Please enjoy the fine links I am enjoying on the side bar.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

068: hot ass

At the core of it all, this blog: Fatmarc Vanderbacon is about a boy, a girl,

their spunky dogs, and of course their Tauntaun.rainy day=rollers and an extra blog post for all the kids at home.

One of the women I work with gave me a package of home made Chipolte peanut brittle. It was totally amazing, one of my favorite treats, and frankly very spicy. Well, late Christmas Eve Layla decided to sample the Chipolte peanut brittle herself. In fact, she act the entire package.
Christmas morning was filled with laughter as Diane and I watched Layla drag her ass around the snow trying to get her burning ass to cool down. Perhaps Layla has learned a lesson I learned eating a SPICY hot tamales : burning going in, burning coming out.


Happy Christmas.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

067: Criminal

Is this the face of a criminal?
Apparently, yes.

Today I was out at the local grocery picking up some gift cards for a charitable organization. The amount was not ridiculous, and I presented my VISA card to pay for them, it is after all everywhere you want to be.

The young cashier requested my ID, so I provided him my driver’s license.

He proceeded to eye ball my license and me, like twenty times.

Finally, he runs my card, which has my name on it, the same name that is on my driver’s license. The kid looked nervous as he watched my purchase be approved, and I watched as he jotted down my address, and DI lumber on a piece of paper.

I asked him, “so once we are done here, how do I know what you do with my personal information? I mean the name on the card, the driver’s license is the same right ? , the purchase went through? Are you sure I’m not a criminal yet?”

Nervously, the clerk responded, “once we determine that the card isn’t stolen, we’ll shred you’re info on this piece paper.”

I was a little perturbed at this point, but figured I was doing the greater good, take the high road, take the gift cards and get out.

freakin’ awesome” I responded, signing the receipt and leaving the store.

As I drove home, I was totally freaked out. WTF! You saw my photo ID, that matched my VISA card with my freakin’ name on it. Picture looks just like me, because it is me. The card was approved. What the frig?

So I called the manager of the store, and explained that the kid was nice, but clearly nervous with my purchase. The Manager called the young clerk into his office and got his side of the story. The manager called me back, read my personal information back to me, and assured me that he was shredding it, all the while apologizing to me.

I asked the manager if they were robbed recently, or what I did to make the kid so nervous.

There was a pause.

The manager replied, “Mr. Vanderbacon, its… It’s your sideburns, Lefty

and Kevin.

They are so bodacious, so strong that our young clerk was immediately thrown off by their presence. The power of those burns, is well, horrifying.”

Clearly, I understood the young man’s terror.

Personal Info Destroyed, Gift Cards Delivered, A young man’s first experience with sideburns in the bank.

All ends well.

Best to you.


176lbs and gaining quickly…

Monday, December 21, 2009

066: Snow Fun

Granogue Boots and Tights...
DCCofD hat and C3 team issue glasses:
must be headed to a cross race right? either that or shoveling the driveway of the 2 feet of snow that we got/drifted into my front yard.
Layla and Riley helped too...Diane wanted to help, but I guessed that wouldn't have been too sporty on her knee so she cleared off the cars. Mission Accomplished. Almost done Christmas shopping too. Couldn't bring myself to ride the rollers on this day. I was shattered from shoveling. Does that count as a work out? Not nearly as much fun as riding a bike, I'll tell you that...


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

065: Tuesdays with Jeb

For the last month or so Jeb and I would head out each Tuesday night to do a little ride. The bulk of the ride was spent chasing hipsters on fixed gears around Newark, talking about races, and making fun of college kids.

In general we were just having fun on our bikes, and enjoying the opportunity to dodge in and out of the shadows of town. About halfway through our fun ride, we would always end up on some undisclosed road at the University with very little traffic, and we’d line it up for a “starts” work out.

The workout was one that Mayhew had in my normal routine. Having the opportunity to start with Jeb was certainly a benefit for me, not to mention we were having a lot of fun. Now I admit, Jeff never counted efforts, he never kept score, but I did. I felt like I had to. I get to ride with Jeff and his awesome mother Lauri probably once a week or so throughout the year, but this, this was different. This was “starts”, and even if it killed me, I had to push him. And trust me sometimes, it did kill me. With each passing day there are fewer places that I can help Jeff be a better racer anymore, but starts, are still one of them.

Two weeks ago Jeff dominated me. I could get off the line faster than him, but sure enough he’d crush me come the finish line.


Jeff would go on to have 2 podium finishes at the USGP in Portland and Nationals, thus earning a spot at the Belgium House, and a spot on the world’s team. Boo-ya.

I knew that I couldn’t show up and get blanked again, not with my boy going to Belgium in a week. So I geared up the bike a little, I put my file tread tires on, and of course I pumped the tires up to 65lbs. Having been off the bike for 10 days, I knew I’d need every advantage I could to try and push the boy one last time.

As we met at the meeting spot Jeff showed up. I quickly noticed he was on his road bike. “shit, so much for an equipment advantage!” I thought to myself. We bombed around town, and eventually made it our work out spot. “are you sure you want to do starts on that bike?” I asked Jeff.. He replied, “I have two sided pedals on this, it’ll be good”

And so it began, another week of essentially head to head sprints. It was dark and cold, and fun as ever. This week I took the first two, he took the third, I took the fourth in a bike throw, he took the 5th and the 6th pretty handily.


I pushed the kid again. I threw up a little in my mouth.
As we spun home I looked over at Jeb. “hey, man that was fun, thanks for coming out…” He looked back at me and smiled, “yeah it was…” He continued, “ my last two starts were by far my best of the season.” He smiled and nodded at me.

You know that final exchange might have made my season more than anything else.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

064: seriously


Season is over for me. I have high hopes for my friends as I watch with baited breath for information coming back from Bend. Been weird not squeezing in work outs, or stretching or eating or frankly packing my bag again. This week. I fully expect withdrawal to hit me soon. I have to admit, it was totally awesome sleeping in Sunday.

This week I have been cleaning bikes, transferring the cross bikes to the basement, moutainbike to the garage.

The plan for this week is simple, And as my Mayhew said repeatedly:
Seriously, for Dec I'd say only ride on the weekends or with your wife.
Seriously, take a damn break.
And finally:
Awesome job. Keep in touch, seriously. But don't ride. Seriously
Seriously, no riding this week.

My coach is serious about me not riding for a few weeks.

As is generally the tradition around here, I reveal my 2009 goals for cross, and how I made out with them. So here I go:

1. Maryland State Championship
MABRA Champs/State champs was a bad race for me. I didn’t even sniff a medal. Had fun on the course, took 24th overall, 7th for MD 34-39. Good news my teammates swept the state and the age group (Auer, Nystrom, Lilibridge). Next year I move up to the 40-44 class. New folks to battle against, again I will strive for the elusive second state championship.

2. Earn a prize from the Suit Case of Sausage.

3. Top 20 Overall in MAC Elite Masters 1/2/3
I can pinpoint when I knew this one slipped away. It was at Beacon when I was in 20th and hurting, and then needed a bike change and threw my bike right into Diane. I was sick, but should have come away with some points this day and did not. My race was pretty much over as I finished 30th, and the next day 37th, getting shut out of the points and essentially lost my opportunity shot at this goal… I knew I had to score in at least 6-7 races to have a shot at this. Getting shut out in New Jersey killed me.

4. Top 15 IN a MAC Race
2x: Granogue 11th, Wissahickon 15th, and hell I’ll throw Charm City in here at 16th…

5. Score points in each MAC Race I entered.
Rolling a tubie at Nittany killed this one before the season really got rolling.
This was all part of my master plan that went to hell in a hand basket in New Jersey See #3

6. Earn Seat at the Master’s Table.
Early in the year I remember sitting on Fergie's wheel and at some point during the race I was freaking out "holy shit, that's Fergie's wheel, I'm in a group with Fergie, holy hell..." I really shit the bed after Granogue/Wiss. I think part of that is learning to race with the masters, that the intensity is just higher. An analogy for me was like a college player who starts strong in the NBA but as the longer, more intense NBA season goes on, the college kid fades out. I have to get better at that. Now look, when I look at my nemeses and victims, these are all very good cross riders, so that's cool.Sven, Jan and Auer are teammates. I don't really count them on this list.
Overall, for next year I know that I have done well in the mud, but I need to improve on my consistency across the board. I need to get better at pack racing, and faster legs. definitely faster legs. Am I respected as a racer by my peers? 26th in the MAC, 27th in the MABRA and 15th in the PA. Not the most stellar rankings ever. I can do better. I will do better. Maybe it was a bad goal to start with... But I certainly hope to continue to earn my spot in the elite master's class.
I’ll also admit a lot of the formulation of these goals, I kept a square eye on 2010. I had frankly hoped to put myself in a better starting position for 2010, and try to make some gains in my results.

In the MAC for the first 4 races I started in the 4th row at best. Scrum is a stress, but I did a bunch of it. Racing wise it was a lot of work to try and move up on the first lap. I often burnt matches that I would have loved to had at the end of the race. I admit the past few years I have been spoiled with front row starts in the killer B’s and even in the MABRA Series I never seemed to be further back than row 3, and had little trouble getting to the front pretty easily. (This year was a different story in the mabra). Ironically, my best staring position, 2nd row, for Beacon and Highland were my worst MAC races of the year. I almost think that I got used to the urgency of moving up starting in the 4/5 row, and when I started further up the rhythm of my race was thrown off.

Maybe I over think this stuff too much?

Based on my final ranking I look destined to start in the 4th row again next year for the first weekend. For what it’s worth the difference here is that going into opening weekend last year, it was a scrum to row 5, and for 2010, I’ve earned my 4th row starting position. I can live with that…

Okay, too much race thought. I’m gonna go eat a donut or something.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

063: going out with a bang

Fairhill/Tacchino was my first race back after illness. A stake in the ground. Solid rides, but I faded a lot at the end, and frankly was not at my best. I made the decision to skip the USGP's in favor of a hard 10 day block of training to send me into the final month of the season flying.

Mayhew and I talked it over. Mayhew is a great coach, and frankly knew my penchant for riding myself into the ground, and he does a great job of keeping me out of that. In planning my mini training camp, Mayhew cautioned,"we need to make sure you recover well, and don't over cook yourself..."

I trained hard, and focused. I did not recover as well as I had expected. I could probably give you a list as long as my arm as to why, but not really so important right now.
Coming into the Howard County Double Cross, I expected to be flying. But clearly I didn't recover enough, Schooley Mill was awful, I contemplated call it a year.

Auer, my wife, my teammates, and my Mayhew talked me down. Rockburn went better, but I still wasn't right. States I was awful. Still not recovered, I kept saying to myself, how could I have done all this work, and feel this horrible? To say I was frustrated would be an understatement.
The Rockbridge classic was shaping up to be a smaller event, as the finals of the PA Cross Series. The Master's class was 20ish riders. Looking at the list, there wasn't anyone in the class that I had not beaten this year. That was encouraging. I also knew that since mid October there were 5 guys that I haven't beaten: teammate and fellow sideburn affcionado Joe Lilibridge, respected rivals/friends Kelly Cline, Joe Piccalo, Sean Mealy and Joel Moats. I also knew Don Kessel was riding well, and doing very well in the PA Series, although I don't think we raced this year.
However this shook out, it was going to be a close race. I just hoped I could stay with those guys.

We gathered at the start and the scrumming began. I snuck my way on the front row. It was my first front row start this year!
Hebe and Kuhn were the race announcers, and were talking about the strength of our field, and how evenly matched our race would be. Then Hebe said this, "If I was betting, I'd put my money on Fatmarc Vanderbacon." Everyone looked at me. My stomach sank. I offered up this, "come on guys, have you seen me race recently?"

A minute later the whistle blew and we were off. The start was open, and then went into a technical, slick off camber section. I wanted to be in the front group through this section. I didn't count on getting the hole shot.
As we came by the pit, I looked back and noticed I had about a 15 yard gap. I stood up and pressed the issue. "maybe I can win the first lap?"

Three Saturdays ago I was ready to call it a year. Through the support, and guidance of my wife, my friends, my team, Auer, Lauri and Tom and my coach, I adopted the mantra " I've done the work, I just need to rest, keep the faith, and believe. It will all come around. "
I told myself this each time I warmed up, each time I packed my bag, each time I practiced starts with Jeff and Lauri, and each time I started to feel my season was going to end on a disappointing note.

I secretly wished for conditions that would conspire and give me one last solid ride.
Saturday at Marysville, one of my all time favorite courses, amongst the snow and rain and slickened technical conditionals, fortune smiled on me, and Saturday I finished my race, finished my season with my arms raised in victory.

fuck yeah.

thanks for reading

thanks to Joe Mallis for the fine shots.

Friday, December 4, 2009

62: TWO

I clearly remember last year following Reston loading my beloved cross bikes into my car.
Reston was my 20th cross race of the 2007 season, and I had moment of Zen thinking about the love of my cross bikes.

Over three years I had raced these bikes almost 50 times. And the further truth is that both of these frames were passed down to me during my year on the Fort Factory team. These were the very frames that Ryan rode to a 12th place finish in Elite Nationals in 2005. One of the Frames was the very frame that Wes used to win his first MAC championship in 2006. In all likelihood these cross frames had seen close to 85 starts.
Hell, after being under Wes and Ryan, my frames must have really felt like they were slumming under my fatass!
I lamented the undoubted retirement of my cross frames following the 2008 season. I was a little sad, because I love these bikes so, but also understand that they have been beaten, they deserve to be retired. I look at most bikes as a tools, as something I will use until I destroy, and then replace them. But my cross bikes, well I feel differently about them. Frankly, I have raced more on these bikes than probably any other bike I have ever owned. They are the bikes which I am most comfortable on. And although one is black, and one is blue, if I was blindfolded and jumped on them, I couldn’t tell you the difference between the two.

Although the prospect of new bikes is always exciting, I must admit on some level it was a bitter sweet…
In the midst of my search for new whips, my comparative shopping, my excel spreadsheets full of useless but albeit too important stressing of measurements, weights, prices, and good guy prices that all make up the ritual of a new bike purchase, the economy tanked and Monkey got laid off.

No New Bikes for Fatmarc in 2009.
Almost a year later, I come into the final weekend of the Mid Atlantic Season having another 16 cross races on my beloved FORTs, and prepping for a 17th. I rode around town chasing shadows the other night, all the while I thought about how good it felt on these bikes. As I chased the shadows I lamented to my friends that no matter what time of year it was, whenever I threw my leg over the top tube, the cross bikes felt better than anything I ever ride. I do love these bikes.

As I stand on the precipice of the off season, I know I have one more great ride waiting to be uncorked. One last time where I can throw a leg over my favorite bikes, battle my peers and rivals, finishing off the year with a beer and a smile.

Thanks to Greg Dionne for the generosity he showed me passing me these frames,
Thanks to my bikes for giving me so much joy.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

61: Four

It’s been a fun and long cross season. Good Days and Bad Days. I’ve learned a lot, and look at the final weekend of the season for me with some joy and some sadness. My mountain bike has moved up from the basement to the garage.

I kinda realized that the end was getting near when the Maryland Department of Transportation sent me this:

It would appear on my way to Rockburn, I flew through the EZ-PASS lane at 61 miles an hour. I can only guess this was the toll before the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel. Whoops.

When Diane asked me about it, I had no recollection of doing anything weird, or out of the ordinary. I have been on the I95 pretty much every weekend since Puma Cross back in September, heading off to a race each weekend morning. I must have confused one of the normal EZ pass lanes for a “high speed” lane. Like I said, “whoops”

I love Bad Andy, Your 4 time PA Cyclocross State Champion, but I also will admit that in this victory salute, where BA is holding up four fingers to represent his fourth title he kinda looks like he is having a seizure. Just a little.
Despite my legs that still felt a little heavy from the beating I took at the MABRA champs last weekend, it was my Tuesday night with Jeffy and LWeb. Fun as usual.

Spent the day listening to Damn Crooked Vultures. It’s like Queens of the Stone Age or Eagles of Death Metal with a real live shot of Led Zepplin. Yeah, that’s about it. I like.

Thanks for reading.