Friday, July 15, 2016

thank you.

Dear Reader,

Thank you and good night.

thanks for reading.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Evil That Socks Do...

Dear Reader,

Yesterday Monkey stood atop our stairs and threw down a pair of socks to me.

"throw these socks away please!" she said.

"These socks look brand new. What's the issue?" I asked.

"they are fucking evil." Monk replied stoically

"Evil!?" I inquired.

"Fucking evil. Horrible mojo, I want them gone, and I wouldn't wish their evil on my worst enemy." She calmly explained.

"What about someone who marginalizes your experience and belittles your skills?" I inquired.

With a smile my wonderful wife replied, "I wouldn't wish these socks on someone who says asinine mean and hurtful things to me."

I replied, "Wow! you're a good person, but I  have to ask what makes these socks so evil?"

"First time I wore them, my knee swelled up. Second time I wore them I seemed to forget how to drive a bike. Third time I wore them my legs felt like wood. They are done. The mojo is a no go." she explained.

"Do I need to burn them? Have an exorcism?" I asked, only half jokingly...

"Just get them out of the house." She said, turning and walking away...

totally normal stuff. totally normal.
Quick shot from the Water Ice Ride: the awesonme shot of Monk and I is how a hack with an
IPhone covers up his thumb in a shot.
thanks for reading.


Friday, July 1, 2016


Dear Readers:

Thursday morning. 7:30am West Grove, Pennsylvania. Not June 30th, 2016.

I call my friend Chris.

Chris groggily answers the phone,  "hello? Fatmarc?"

I reply yelling into my phone, "GOOD MORNING CHRIS, DO YOU KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS?"

Chris replied cautiously, "Thursday?"

Continuing to yell into my phone, " DUDE! ARE YOU STOKED!? IT'S GREAT VALLEY DAY! IT'S GREAT VALLEY DAY!"

Chris, still wiping the sleepy out of his eyes responded, "oh, yeah, I got your text last night but it was too late to text you back."


Chris responded, "yeah, I'm in. I should be there."


Chris, trying to make some sense out of what was going on, " I'll be there, I have some stuff I have to take care of today, but yeah I'll be there/"

My yelling voice not even getting tired a little bit, "YOU BETTER GET OUT OF BED SLEEPY HEAD! GET YOUR STUFF DONE DUDE! IT'S GREAT VALLEY DAY! SEE YOU AT 4:30!"

I love Chris.

thanks for reading.


Monday, June 20, 2016

"I think you need to go...."

Dear Readers,

25 years ago, long before I knew what cyclocross was, or even considered shaving my legs, I used to spend a lot time riding my skateboard over at Fox Run Shopping Center in Bear. One time, I was there with my lovely girlfriend Diane. I was trying to ollie (jump ) down this weird little gap that had two steps, a little landing and then another 2 steps. Trying to show off for my girlfriend I proceeded to face plant and landed flat on the ground at the bottom of the stairs.  As I got up, ate humble pie and brushed myself off, I remember Monk saying to me, " I think you just need to go a little faster"...

I smiled at her fighting of the urge to say something not nice, and said, "yeah, I get that..."

I tried again, this time with a little more speed. I crashed hard at the bottom of the stairs again...

Last Saturday, I met my young nephews at Glasgow Skatepark, which ironically is right across from the old Fox Run Shopping center. I enjoyed showing the boys how to carve, and work their way around the park. Monk  pulled me aside and encouraged me to try rolling up the bank, and ollie (jump) over the two stairs at the top.  I tried a number of times, but I will admit, I was pretty scared and not really coming close to making it at all.

Finally, Monk waved me down and pulled me aside. She says to me smiling, "I think you just need to go a little faster." The irony was not lost on me. I smiled at Diane, pointing to Fox Run Shopping Center and said, do you remember what happened last time we were skating and you told me that? We both laughed...

while not all that impressive looking it turns out she was right:

Sunday, we loaded up the car and headed out for our first bike race of the year. We headed up to Lancaster for the Race Ave Crit, because you know #CROSSISCOMING!
You're Team's Mid Pack Master's racer in the Cheap Seats!

Photo Courtesy of Annette Weaver Photography
I lined up for the 45+ race. It was really fast. I never made it up higher in the pack then around 20th. No breaks got clear and the pace stayed really high. The last three laps felt totally bonkers. Saying that I was on the rivet would be an understatement as I sat on the edge of my seat, hands in the drops.
more cheap seats: photo courtesy Annette Weaver Photography
Around the final corner, I sat up. I was satisfied  with my ride, and figured the smartest move was to let the sprinters did their thing, and while I had nothing for them, I smiled as  I got everything out of the race that I could have hoped for... It was so much fun...

Photo courtesy Jeff Miesemer/AnnetteWeaver Photography
Diane raced the open women's race next. She came off the front group pretty early on, but continued to battle in really well. She would end up connecting with a few other women, and ultimately much like myself, was really happy with her ride, and effort. She suffered, but had a blast!

My dear readers, in full disclosure, as I was taking this video, I had the best heckle ever come to mind.


three things probably saved me:

1. An ironic heckle is a dangerous heckle. Irony doesn't always land well on a racer in oxygen debt!

2.  I love sleeping in my bed with my awesome wife, and frankly, this risk of #1 going wrong and me landing on the couch for a week was too great. Remember folks: Is the juice worth the squeeze? Not in this case.

3. As cross season quickly approaches, (#crossiscoming) I remember the teachings of Kelly Cline: always heckle nice! #HECKLENICE
Monk sitting on...
The Race Ave Crit was a lot of fun. thanks to Michele Bote and her team for putting on a really fun event.  Racing bikes is so much fun, this was a great place to get things rolling again. I think we'll have another crit appearance in a few weeks...

thank for reading.


Friday, June 10, 2016

the GV30 Blog that wasn't...

Dear Readers,

I had a blog teed up to post this morning about how much I love the GV30. However, after last night's windy, echelon-y, getting guttered-y, people yelling-y, I got a flat with 9 laps to go-y, a great work out, but not the fast, fun, flow-y I have come to love edition of GV30, I figured I'll save it for another day.

To the kind QCW rider who discreetly let me know I was rotating the wrong way off the front, in an evening with lots of people yelling stupid nonsense, you were a gentleman. Thanks for the guidance when I was bleeding out my eyes.

Yelling is sometimes appropriate, but not always. Grace in times of friction my friends.

Instead, I give you video of me skateboarding in my basement.

thanks for reading.



Friday, June 3, 2016

Stokesville Mountainbike Festival

Dear Readers,
Our good friend Kita recently traveled to the Stokesville Mountainbike Festival and had an amazing time. She was kind enough to do write up about her experience. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

A few years ago I bought my first bike and asked a client from my shop starts showing me some trails. I quickly discovered Mountainbiking is hard and I have no idea what I am doing. It's also apparent, that there is no lineage of athletic superstars in my family. No ounce of inherent or natural coordination or skill. 

It was incredibility fun and challenging which is perhaps what kept me coming back for more in the first few months of black and blue bruises I earned from mistakes made and lessons learned while winding my way through the trails of Fair Hill or the rolling loop of Lums. There was nothing about this that I could learn from a book - it was all a hard earned discovery of something I never knew I was able to do. It wasn’t easy, didn’t come to me overnight, and still bites at me over how far I am not, but it’s for all of these reasons that I clip back in every time. The desire is there to grow better every time, to put your head down and pedal is born.
Photo: kita
A few years go by and I find myself loving all that is bikes and am trying to put effort in, pin down some goals, and grow some skills. I get to hear stories that inspire me of regular weekend rides and epic undertakings. If you know Buddy Briggs, you only have to listen to one of his stories of a place to want to take on the challenge of a new terrain with the way he talks about every second of trail. When he mentioned the Stokesville Mountain Biking Festival after the tales of his Shenandoah 100 rides, I was all in. I put my head down and road a little more with a new target.
photo: Laura Graziano Farabaugh
On the ride down in a camper loaded with bikes, beer, and food, I got to listen to Ben and Buddy talk about rides, races, and memories and I started to worry that I had taken too big a bite. I thought that maybe I was chasing trails that I wasn’t yet prepared for as the terrain outside the window grew lush, green, and more real. We arrived and hit the trails as soon as we had a place set up to hang out bikes.

The short loop around the campground gave a great taste of what was to come. Swooping berms, a few rocks, and a climb out and around the tents to start it all over again. I wasn’t in Kansas any more and already Buddy and Ben were chomping and I was racing to keep up. The trails were swift, fun, but different in so many way. It was going to be a killer weekend.
Photo:Buddy the leg breaker
Rides divided up after group breakfast on Saturday and I took to the trails with a new group of women to test out Narrowback and Tillmans - both of which did not disappoint - and I was pleased to discover that I could hang pretty well out there in the mountains.
Photo: Kita

photo: Kita
Sunday I had ambitions of a longer more challenging ride than the day before and grouped up with Bill, Laura, and Jill of the Henry’s Team. We climbed up the road to for Lookout to the Wild Oaks Trails where I stuck on Laura’s wheel over trails foreign to me. The long climb up quickly taught me these weren’t the punchy mashable hills of home and made me spin for what felt like forever. Once cresting over the top, the jagged rocks forced me to loosen my grip and roll with the bike downward back towards camp. This was mountain biking. It’s what it is meant to be. It’s suffering more than you knew you could to cramp and smile all at the same time. It’s obscenities yelled at Mother Nature herself for the splendor and effort she has laid out before you. It is getting to the top and feeling like you beat something inside of you that you didn’t know was holding you back. It is knowing you can rise to the challenge again.
Photo: Bill Batchelor
It was exhilarating. I was slow and yet I road technical things I would have never considered back home. I was faster than I thought it parts and a few times my Garmin politely beeped to remind me I was standing still despite what felt like all I had to get over the crest of a ledge.  I crashed pretty well off twice causing the ride back to be a little uncomfortable. At the bottom, I thanked my friends for their combined patience with me and settled in for a few moments to myself. The ride was by no means the experienced smooth ride that you guys are used to seeing on this blog. But it was my ride. And I am damned proud of it. More proud than I have ever been of a ride. I was broken for the day, but I wasn’t defeated.
Photo: Bill Batchelor
It wasn’t just about the trails I conquered that day, it was about the stories shared back at camp of all the rides that went out that day or in years past, about the stories that everyone had. It was the successes and the crashes of all of us we shared as a community, as a family. It was lining up at dinner with strangers to quickly find are friends through association and want to just chat about the same thing. It was not one kind of ride, but all of them, for everyone. Groups going out strangers and pushing one another through. It was new friends over bourbon and mud covered laughter while waiting for showers. It was the core of what the mountain biking community has been to me actualized.

I left one day 5 years ago on a ride with people I barely knew and came back with a tribe. Stokesville is that community, together for the love of riding and Chris and his team have done an amazing job of cultivating it.

Stokesville Mountain Biking Festival left me bruised and sore, but it also left me grinning from ear to ear, stoking a bike high that has me already daydreaming at work of the next adventure.

Monday, May 30, 2016

an evening of bad decisions

Dear Readers,

After a few robust weeks of riding, I had planned to take a couple rest days to reap the benefits of this riding. That recovery included heading to the local skate park on Monday. Sunday afternoon, the skies opened up and drenched the world. The kind folks at the weather channel had forecasted down pours all day for Monday. The park just wasn't going to happen. I grabbed my skateboard and headed to the basement.

After about 30 minutes of moving junk around, throwing out an old Christmas tree, stashing my converted TT bike, and an honest to god original PRO-FLEX mountain-bike frame, I cleared just enough space so I had a spot to move around.

I thought to myself - "self, you cleared this space, you should test it out." I spent the next half hour dorking around in the basement- doing slides, little ollies, and much to my amazement, I almost figured out a 180 no comply.

I was having a blast and smiling ear to ear.

I called Diane down:  She smiled at me shaking her head at me. She asked  "is this your evening of bad decisions? "  She continued, "you're in the basement, wearing slippers, and no helmet skateboarding." She smiled at me.

I agreed, "Okay Okay, I should probably have had shoes on and my helmet, but check this out! this is totally cool: "

She smiled, an I called it a night.

Thankfully, the folks over at were wrong, and the morning was beautiful. I had a blast at the park, and had a beautiful  time. Here's 45 seconds of it, were I look remotely in control!

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Bad Art and Weirdo Ideas

Dear Readers,

Today was beautiful...

photo credit: Monk - Rombach not pictured...
I starting riding with Joe Bothell in 2012. He has been one of my favorite people to ride and train with since the spring of that year. I have enjoyed watching Joe develop and become one of the best Masters Mountain Bike racers in the Mid Atlantic. The dude was also a mainstay in the top ten of mid atlantic cross, and pretty much crushed my soul all last season.

 Joe has recently been relocated and will be leaving for Dallas soon. Our community's loss, Texas's gain for sure. I'll miss talking smack, and riding with Joe. I'm hoping to still get his texted race reports after Dallas Cross starts up!

Today, I had a chance to ride with Joe, Dennis, Monk, Rombach and Featherman around White Clay and Middle run. I know I won't get too many more chances to ride with Joe, I didn't want to let this one go.
Rombach, Joe and Featherblog

The ride was a blast as Monk drove it hard around the park. I am finishing up a robust 3 weeks of riding and was feeling like I was just finishing up a robust 3 weeks of riding. I yelled up to Monk who was cracking the whip, "Monk, I must have said something to piss you off at breakfast, whatever it was I'm sorry can you please stop ripping off my legs?"

The trails were in perfect condition, and we navigated around the park. It was warm, and slightly overgrown, and just perfect. We carved the trails flowing around the park. We laughed, talked about call ups,, and bitched about our weight, and getting old. It was wonderful.

title stolen from Beach Slang. You should go here to check out more Bad Art and Weirdo Ideas.

I totally blame Schieken, Taylor and Elliot for my newest music obsession....

thanks for that guys.
thanks for reading.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Totally Unofficial Mid Atlantic Cross Dates #crossiscoming

Dear Readers,

In a former promoter life, one of the roles I had in the local cross scene was trying to coordinate the schedules between the various series, and try to limit conflicts between races. The goal was to try and build the best comprehensive Mid Atlantic Cross Schedule. Most of the time, it was a pleasure working with the race directors, and although some folks weren't happy with having to shift dates, in the end most promoters love cross and worked for what was best for scene. I had enjoyed that part of my role in the past. Thankfully, we are spoiled here in the Mid Atlantic as there is good racing almost every weekend all fall.

I am also grateful that this is a role that I no longer hold.  But, I remain in the habit of putting together the schedule as it becomes more public. 

Where in the past I would email the local series leaders for their dates, (MAC, SUPER8, SPORTIF, PACX and NJCUP), these days I stalk association calendars, watch the social medias and try to pull it together. It's a little more fun that way, I have to admit.

Up front I'll admit:


Also note I tried to point out some not regional UCI stuff, the New England UCI races, and some other fun stuff that has been on our fall calendar in recent years...

If something looks wrong, please let me know and I'll update.  

With that, I hope you geek out like I do: ENJOY! 

If I was still in my previous role I would love to see Kutztown and Slyfox work something out on 11/13- especially since 10/1 is an open date (as far as I know) in PA... But heck, I'm just a Mid Pack Masters Rider geeking out on an early calendar dates, and I know sometimes conflicts are unavoidable due to venue restrictions, volunteers... etc (observation, not a judgement)

thanks for reading

best to you.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Monkey Hill Time Trial (Wilmington Grand Prix)

Dear Reader,

I know what your thinking. Vanderbacon isn't really going to write a blog about a race that took less than 8 minutes to complete, is he?

You're damn right I am!

So let me start by saying this: A few years ago, I did a number of time trials.I enjoy them, they are really fun in a hurtful, look in your soul and question your existence kinda way. The downside was that it quickly became clear that to be competitive, you really need to have TT equipment. Let me say, I would need TT equipment to be competitive and frankly I didn't have the budget for that expense. So my TT career was kinda short lived.
photo credit Velocipedesalon

I signed up for the Monkey Hill TT this week kind of on a lark. I loved racing cross at Monkey Hill, and I figured I didn't want to pass on the chance to race up Monkey Hill again. I'll comment the cobbled classic hill is never smooth, but it is a lot smoother on a 33mm cross tire with 20lbs of pressure than tire on a road bike.

To my surprise the course was super technical, lots of corners, lots of cobbles, lots of place where you had to drive the bike. Most folks were on road bikes, although there were plenty of aero bars and tt bikes, but aero was not required:  it was an awesome course. For someone with out many watts but lots of deception and guile (err hmm your humble blogger) It was super fun.

Got the venue early, and got to do a number of pre-laps.(Kinda like in cross!)
I rode two laps with Denise, who has been slapping me around on the local club rides and Shark Tank rides this spring. She had an earlier start time and rolled off to get ready.

Then I caught up with D-Lowe. We started geeking out on corners, and talking lines going up and coming off of Monkey Hill. We totally talked about tire pressure too. (Kinda like in cross!)
I love D-Lowe.

Finally, Mimi (the most awesome official and who I got to hug earlier in the evening) staged us to go.

photo credit Emily EO

Stream of conscious race report starts now:

Almost over cooked the first hill coming off Monkey Hill,.. Same thing I did chasing Dennis Smith last time I raced cross here... somethings never change...  get on the brakes and don't die... Okay we are at the bottom... hard corner into cobbles,... let the bike go ... no brakes... no brakes...power across the cobbles...  across the bridge and up the false flat.. , get in the drops... stand up... race like a cross race, stand out of corners, don't think TT... Just over the top... A little more... Settle in, shift into the 11 as the course rolls back down towards the river... In the S turn sweeper a little too  hot, scrub a little speed... not on the line I pre-rode...stay smooth... look down and see 30mph... sweet... two more corners... use the entire road... stand out of the corners, stand out of the corners.... Almost back to the base of monkey hill.. take a deep breath... Garvey just said something to me...
Photo Credit BK....
I'm on the hill... this is hard... I can see the finish... it's a wall of sound.. there's BK and Paul- I crack a smile... fucking Paul.  half way up... switch from the right to the left side... there is no smooth... 50 feet to go... Place is going nuts... This is hard... this is awesome... stand up.. can't stand up ... the line is right there... humpf it over... EAHHH....And it's over......

LVG is standing just across the line!  "Great Job Marc! " Did you have fun!"
"yeah, that was great.... so fun... I think" I spun off to try and spin my way off the vomit comet.

Afterwards, it was great catching up with friends and sharing war stories- you know from our 8 minutes of racing...

As Blair said, "so many stories in an 8 minute run!"

Turns out, D-Lowe and I were just a few seconds apart in the finish (just like cross)

and we finished in the money! HEY NOW - That was unexpected!

I had to run back to the center of the universe for a hot dinner date with my awesome wife,
Said Awesome Wife...
and couldn't stick around for prizes, so I asked LVG to donate my vast winnings to the animal shelter she works with AWESOM - which is of course where our lovely Logan came from...

To say I was stoked, would be understatement. 364 days until my next TT....

thanks for reading

and yeah I'm aware it probably took longer to write this than it did for the entire race.