Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Abel BACK From Macau!

Watch out all youSport guys, the Pacoima Prowler will be training soon and bringin it to ya! Abelardo Vaca Nava (beginner champ at Am Cup in 2005) has returned from a year long absence in Macau, and came to the race at Bonelli to cheer on his teammates less than a day after landing in Burbank. Let's see...Abel flew for 15 hours from China and still made it to the race, but Betsy and Oscar who were less than five miles away couldn't make it. SHAME.....

Great to see Abel back, and watch out

Cal State Season Opener At Bonelli Park

The Cal State season opener popped it's lid yesterday at Smelli Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California. For those of you who don't know, San Dimas is the place where that Hollywood gem "Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure" was filmed, and the town motto is "Hey, I can see the 10 Freeway from here!" Weather was perfect, and the Backbone Team Pit Area was the first one up..again....as usual. Open for business by 8am, teammmates begin piling in to the brand new XPEDO ez up and preparing their machines for the days work. Vegas Bob, Vanessa, Roger, Heidi, Darter, Bert, Ryan, Randy, Christine, Michelle, Dawn, Fuzzy, Abel, and everyone else looked happy to race.
Darter, Heidi and Vanessa, recently avowed to race Expert, TOTALLY had great races. Heidi took first, Venessa took third (only to Joy D., who would have had the THIRD FASTEST PRO TIME!) , and Darter broke out the Pythons to have a great Expert finish. Vegas Bob wanted to kill his class after months of training and had a great race. He went out too hard on lap one, but we will see that he chills a bit more next time, right? Bert and Ryan were wearing the coveted Nat. Champ Jerseys that Bert earned in Sonoma last year, and Ryan finished THIRD!
The coolest thing EVER was ROGER who frikkin' ROQUED the Clydesdale class! great job Roger, you killed out there!
Dawn Lyons came by to hellp feed and pre-ride, and looked great her new team kit. Even ABEL VACA came by, just twenty-four hours after landing in Burbank from a year in China! That's team spirit!
Thanks to ALL of you for coming out to race, scream, yell, and support the team. It was great to see so many of you out so early in the season.

"Two Race" Randy Rush

Randy "Two Race" Rush hit Southridge Saturday and managed to take yet another FOUR MINUTES off his XC time! I will never catch him now, so I will just relegate myself to beer and Luna bars. Randy then rolled over to Bonelli and rocked a SECOND XC race in as many days. Crazy? Well, YEAH, but that's why he races for us and not the other less than stellar teams out there. Randy and the wife, KIMBAHLAND will be rolling with the team to Scottsdale this week for some fun in the sun and Frosty Friday at Titus!

Taylor 5th Overall At Southridge!

Southridge saw an overall podium spot for the talented Mr. Charles Taylor Libolt on Sunday! He stepped up to the box for an overall 5th place finish for the Southridge Winter Series in Semi-Pro DH, slowly improving his finishes throughout the season.
Look for Taylor to challenge multiple Super-D winner and Backbone teammate Bert Blanchette in Scottsdale for the 1st place SD ppodium spot!

Jay At Taipei Trade Show

Jay Schippers at Firestone in 2006
Jay Schippers rolled out to the Taipei Bicycle Show (like Interbike, only waaaaaaay bigger) yesterday. He is representing his Sunline products, and will be in the air flying to and fro longer than he will actually be at the show. THAT, my friends, is dedication! Sorry we missed ya at the races Jay, but SOMEONE has to have a real job...glad it's not me!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

El Camino Real, The Royal Road.

In the late 1700's, the Spaniards who occupied what is now California created a footpath "highway."
It began as a narrow footpath to bridge the gap between the Missions established by the Catholic church. For you dirt-bag mountain bikers, "footpath" translates to "singletrack." The Royal Road ( that's El Camino Real, translated) ran from San Diego in the south to Sonoma in the north. Missions were established to be one day's walk apart along the path, generally working out to about thirty miles.
As traffic and populous grew, so did the El Camino Real. After the United States settled the Treaty Of Guadalupe Hidalgo, "Alta California" became California. This treaty was actually signed across the street from Universal Studios Theme Park, and the adobe building still stands today! As the Americans poured in, the path grew into a road. Wells Fargo used this road to deliver supplies and people to Backbone's team sponsor, The Union Hotel in Los Alamos! Once the car replaced the coach, highways 101 and 1 were built almost exactly on top of the El Camino Real.
As you drive the coast along the 101 between Santa Barbara (there's a beautifully restored mission there) and Santa Maria, look for small yellow mustard flowers alongside the highway. Native to Europe and NOT to California, the flower's seeds were spread by the Spanish missionaries who used them to follow the route and not get lost. Those mustard flowers are direct descendants of those dropped so many years ago. The Royal Road served twenty one missions, and continues to serve them by sharing there beauty and history to modern day travelers along California's golden coast

Photos are of the Mission San Juan Capistrano, the "jewel" of the mission system. She was finished on Nov. 1st, 1776 under the direction of Padre Junipero Serra. Partially destroyed by earthquakes, it has been under reconstruction as long as I can remember! You can find her in southern Orange County, off the 5 freeway at the HWY 74 exit.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cal State Series Opener Next Weekend!

Smelly Boneeli race starts this weekend, and has proven to be a good race for us, despite it's apparent lack of anything techical or rocky. Despite the dead fish in the stagnant creek, the Raging Waters ride-by, and the searing heat, this race is good if for no other reason than it's proximity to the house. We will have a new Xpedo E-Z up, so look for the ol' Kenda one, and a shiny new black one as well. Some team members pre-rode last weekend, so contact Bert, Vegas Bob, Roger or Vanessa for more info. ALSO...Jim Roff will be out here by Thursday, and will be staying for a few days with Rhoda and Bri to pack up the ol' trailer and haul it back to Colorado. Call him, and take him for some brews..

See ya next weekend guys!


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pix From The Past

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mary McConnelough and Mike Broderick in South America!

March 15, 2007
Hola! Que Paso?

Ah summertime! It doesn’t get dark down here until 9 pm here, but
there still doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. Traveling
safely, finding accommodations, good food, laundry, and of course
lots of training is seemingly all we can manage.

Mike and I are definitely getting into the swing of the south
american travel and are doing quite well... it has been an amazing
two weeks since we arrived...Here is an unedited recap for those
who have some extra time on their hands

March 1
We arrived in Santiago, Chile pretty worked over from the long
travel, not to mention the days of logistical planning leading up
to it. Communicating solely in espanol, just off the red eye was a
colorful experience as I pried my tired brain for vocabulary.
Getting directions out of the city from the rental car agent with
charades brought the humbling realization that i was going to have
to study my spanish dictionary more. we got it all worked out after
a few wrong turns , just enough for a peek into this shockingly
polluted city.

After stopping for H2o and some travel rations at a local gas
station (the sniffer dogs found my contraband almonds and dried
figs in customs), our next priority was to find a place to rest and
re-up on precious sleep.

We chose Pichilemu, a small town on the coast known for its epic
surf. Although it is only about 300 km away from Santiago, a bit
of being lost, overtired and driving on back roads made our trip a
long 7 hours. We were both pushing our limits to be cheerful by
this point, But happily made it to “Pichi” just before dark.

We ended up finding a small shack to rent in the barrio--sort of
rustic, but more importantly it was inexpensive and right near the
ocean, and one of the best surf breaks in the area. there were
kitchen facilities and we were more than happy to unpack and unwind
here. Mosquitos aside Sleep never felt so good.

The dusty town of Pichi has a beach and carnival flavor with open
fruit markets and vendors selling local crafts . the majority of
the streets in town are dirt and all are full of horse drawn
carriages and early model cars giving this place a comfortable
feeling fo being left in the past. there is definitely a sense of
people just getting by day to day ... living a slower pace of life
than we are accustomed to seeing. The majority of the local people
here seemed happy and friendly, and refreshed us to the idea
that perhaps there is something to taking things a bit easier.

The surrounding countryside was a bit depressing as seemingly all
the indigenous trees have been harvested and the once beautiful
hills replanted with industrial looking eucalyptus and pine. It
seems like the drain on natural resources is typical of most
places we see around the world but in Chile it seems even more
Within a few hours of arrival Mike found a board /suit and was
off to hit some solid waves. Over the next few days we figured
out some good training loops in the hills, and were catching up
with our rest and yoga.

The drive south...

There is one major highway , route 5 , running from north to south
thru Chile--though it is the major connector for the country there
is surprisingly little traffic. The majority of vehicles are
transport trucks , then busses, bikes and finally only a few
personal cars. pedestrians crossing the hwy and toll booths every
few km keep you on your toes.

We appreciated seeing a bit of Chile and made sure to take some
dusty back roads to as we drove the 1500 km south over the next
few days. it was refreshing to not see fast food chains nor high
rises. nothing but countryside, ramshackle towns and road side
fruit and food stands. We passed thru some beautiful wine country
and saw the landscape change from dry desert like to lush green
hills as we made it further south.

We made our way east over the Andes into Argentina on a small
winding road that passed thru dense rain forests. We passes huge
tropical plants and bamboo that narrowed the road to a path and
through the fog we got an occasional glimpse of a towering andean

We passed through 3 borders and a random police stop, definitely
surprised by the absurdly extensive customs procedure for
crossing into Argentina: lines to wait in, papers, multiple stamps,
forms and about ten people to report to, of course all and only in

March 8
We arrived to the race venue in Villa la Angostura, 4 days before
the race. This is a beautiful and quite well off Patagonian
town. This place is more like a quaint ski town in the Swiss Alps
than the ones we had visited so far in south america.

Mike and I got out on the race course that afternoon and were
pleasantly surprised by a well designed, flowing course. Almost
all fun twisting single with a good mix of climbs and descents.
gorgeous forest scenery with some older trees, water crossings,
some sketchy looking (but safe) hand made stick bridges.

Over the next few days the rest of the national team arrived and it
felt as if the race season had officially started. It was great
to see our friends who came from all over the states and to hear
their colorful stories from the off season.

Race day ...
The women’s field was stacked with the top 4 us women; georgia
gould (our national champ) took the lead from the start. i was
hoping to catch her but was trapped back behind riders who were
letting a gap form on the initial single track climb. I spent a
good deal of energy trying to get around them, which i eventually
did, but immediately after, I felt my hard effort-- and the hills
seemed steeper than i remember in training... After 4 laps (2
hours) of suffering, I gave what i had, riding strong and pulling
away from the rest of the field but never closing the gap on
Georgia. I could definitely feel that it was early season, and
that my training has not brought me to a racing peak. I am looking
forward to this changing as the season progresses. This race was
another good learning experience, especially remembering how
important the start is.

Mike had a solid race and was riding for most of the day just off
the lead pack in 7th to 10th position. it was amazing to see
the varying levels of fitness due to different times of year in
opposite hemispheres. The south americans were in peak form for
this race as it is the tail end of summer. The north americans
were coming out of winter... Mike was stoked to finish as 4th
American in 10th place. Solid uci points and a good start to the
season. Todd Wells was winning the race until the final minutes
when he had a mechanical problem and two canadian men came around
him for the top podium spots. Riders were fighting hard as this is
a high ranked uci points race and a good result will bring better
call up a the next race.

We are still in Argentina, north of the race venue in a small city
called San Martin de los Andes. We have had the opportunity to get
in some big rides and get at least a glimpse of the incredible
riding that is seemingly everywhere here. Luckily the weather has
been fabulous and we have stumbled upon more beautiful singletrack
than we thought possible without a guide or even a clue. we even
make an incredible ride out to some remote hot springs and swam in
the clearest glacial streams that we have ever seen. Argentina is
certainly a special place and We are cherishing this amazing
training and travel opportunity.

We are now quickly making our way north back to Santiago and will
depart this Monday (mar 19) for Puerto Rico for a category one
race that takes place next weekend (Mar 25).

Thinking fondly of you all.
Mary and Mike


Craziness. You are all frikkin' nuts. We are all just about to jump off on yet ANOTHER season of family-leaving, bank-account draining, equipment destroying, body-breaking racing. From the (formerly known as) NORBA Nationals, to Keyesville, to the Cal State Series, to Sea Otter, to Diablo Mountain Freeride Park, to the Mountain States Cup to the damn races on the East Coast that Ryan and Tookie do...you all are crazy bastards and are damn lucky to have the people in your lives that you have. I have been through many different girlfriends in the past fifteen years, some who hated the outdoors, some who hated the "team," all who resented the fact that I devote so much of my time to you guys and this thing we all share called mountain biking. It usually comes down to something as simple as attention. The team as a whole gets it, the girlfriends don't. They do, really, but over time they want more. Sad thing is, I love this group of freaks as much as anything, and will sacrifice what I need to see that we all can enjoy this little "hobby" of ours. Is that crazy? Maybe, but it's a madness I am ok with.
I have been in a lightening storm on Marathon Trail with Fuzzy, helped Jim's mom out at the old house in Eagle Rock, seen Ryan Blanchette become a man, and have gotten to know a ton of you guys that I would never want to live without. Roger is the nicest guy I have ever met, Jay helps more people than Mother Theresa, and Jeff drove in the snow for FOUR hours just to have lunch with Lonnie, Lydia and I in Ohio. This sport, and this team, have given me the best friends (see; Val and Karl) I have ever had, and I am proud as hell to be the half-wit who gets to keep it all together. Can you guys believe how far we have come? Only Bert knows how far we have come from the CFR days. We had nothing (well, we did, it was just all beind horded in Tom's garage) and had to pay for clothing. I went from a racer for CFR, to the XC team manager, to Backbone. By the end of the year, I will be transitioning the official team name to KENDA/MFactor Racing, and with a little luck we can continue to provide support (industry and financial) to all of you guys! You all enjoy gloves, helmets, body armor and shoes courtesy of Jay at 661/Sunline, computers/HRM's courtesy of James and Jenni at SIGMA, tires and monetary relief and media exposure courtesy of Jim and Lydia at KENDA USA, cash support from MFactor, pedals and other perks from Ken at Xpedo, and all your clothing FREE. Titus, Hydrapak, Boulder Creek Resorts, The Union Hotel, Manitou, etc all have been great to us. With FOUR riders getting paid now, it has been really fun to actually write my first rider support checks! Far cry from paying jerseys, eh?
Anyhow...just wanted to say thanks to all of you, for a lot of things. You all have been there for me through thick and thin, and I just wanted you to know that I notice. Can't wait to see you all every other wekend at the races, kock 'em dead!

Cap'n Nerd

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Saturday Team Ride

This weekend, prior to looking at apartments for the afternoon, I would loooove to get everyone together for a team dirt ride somewhere. The following week will be Smelly Bonelli (the Cal State series Opener), then off to Scottsdale for the NORBA's..now officially NOT called the NORBA's. I need to get some of you your pedals, so we can get ya broken in on them!
Please get together and let's pick a spot to ride! Maybe Sycamore, followed by a jump in the ocean?


The Urban Eskimo

photo courtesy Michael Darter, and is neither urban, or of any Eskimo

My coworker and fellow cyclist Ed Luck and I were cruising to a jobsite at Simon Cowell's house the other day (that's right, THE Simon Cowell) , when Ed spotted an "Urban Eskimo." Not understanding, I said "What the hell is that?" Ed was looking to his right out the car window at a young girl in a fur lined jacket and UGG boots. As the dimmer switch was rolled to high, my brain finally grasped the hilarity of the joke, and I promptly wet myself. He was referring to this girl who, on an EIGHTY DEGREE DAY, was in full Inuit garb. It was classic. It could not have been hotter, and this girl looked like she was returning from her first Narwhal kill with a blood stained flencing knife. Oh, but did I mention it was in Hollywood, CA? later that week, the news reported that all those jackets had fur lining made from dogs! Sweeeet.
Anyhow, thanks to guys like Ed Luck and Vegas Bob for bringing me such comedic gold mines as "Urban Eskimo" and "Muffin Top." For those who don't know, "muffin tops" are girls who wear low-cut jeans and their GIANT FAT LOVE HANDLES and BEER GUTS hang over the sides. Gold I say, just gold.

Xpedo Pedals Are In!

Ken from Xpedo has stepped up to help the peeps at Backbone a great deal. He and the Xpedo staff have filled the order I requested (12 pair of pedals, all of them top of the line) for you all to race on, for FREE. He also gave us a brand new EZ UP, and tons of parts for rebuilding the pedals, just in case. You guys are all very lucky to get support like this from a sponsor we are in our first year with, so please see to it that you give Ken feedback on the equipment you are on (good and bad), and please leave product reviews on mtbr.com. This will help Xpedo get their brand name out there, so help them as they have helped us, ok? Rock on you beautiful sons a' bitches, rock on...


Frosty Fridays At Titus Bikes

Frosty Fridays are a Titus Bikes ritual. The guys and gals at Titus in Tempe, AZ will be rolling out the welcome mat for the Backbone crew on the Friday afternoon we are at the Scottsdale race. We will get to meet Pat, E.Jizzle, Matthias, Jeff, and the rest of the crew for some cold brews and a facility tour! Fuzzy will be racing on a loaner 2005 small Titus Racer-X for the weekend, and E.J. even offered to let the Fuzziest race HIS OWN BIKE, "Jesus." Since the Fuzz has a penchant for breaking bikes that are not his (and impregnating girlfriends that aren't his), I tastefully declined. How cool is THAT though, that he even offered? THAT my friends is customer service!


Team Photo Shoot!

The team photo shoot was fun! It was nice to see so many of you all together in one place. It was great NOT to see Jim Roff, though, right? Thanks to Darter for all the work in taking the photos and dragging all his equipment up to the top of the Santa Monica's. You will notice that Fuzzy, Bev, Betsy, Oscar, Abel, Jeff Williams, Ryan Nolan, Christine Blanchette, Theresa Hill, Val and Karl (and Cole), Jim Roff, and Court Waller were not present, but you just can't get all the Backboners in one place at the same time. The boys at Titus loved the pix, and have used us an example to potential sponsored athletes as to what a team SHOULD look like! Thanks to everyone who made it out.

Look for a FULL PAGE AD in many cycling publications in Sept/Oct with these photos....courtesy of KENDA USA!


Sunday, March 11, 2007

SOUTHRIDGE medal for Taylor!

Charles "Taylor" Libolt (don't ask, just play along ok?) called today from Fontucky, and was stoked to announced that he has finally reached the box this year in Semi-Pro downhill! With a sweet 4th place finish, and after being blown off course and re-starting TWICE, Taylor bombed it Air Force style and landed on the podium. Thanks Taylor for the update, and for slowly creeping up on the competition like Indian Underwear.
Jay Schippers also had a great day in Semi-Pro DH, finishing 7th on a dry, dusty, and 40mph windy race course. Jay said that next time, he will purposely sabotage everyone else to ensure a podium finish. That sounds fair, right?

Randy also showed up to pimp his XC race yesterday, and managed to chop another four minutes off his time. That's a shit load of time difference from one race to the next, so the training is paying off for sure.
Thanks to all the Backboners at the race, and congrats to Taylor.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Solvang Weekend/Union Hotel Deceased

Hi everyone! The ol' Union Hotel and Victorian Mansion is NO MORE! This is the last weekend I will ever get to stay there, as Christine has lost the place to the developers. Her old FEMA loan was bought out from under ber after a default payment, and they wrested ownership of theis California Historic Site. Built in 1884, this hotel was a Wells fargo stage coach stop/hotel that happens to be in one of the greatest riding spots in CA. I hope Chris can get herself together and get toa safe place, and I may be helping her move (after I get a place myself!).
This weekend is the Solvang Century ride, and Fuzzy, Don Burke and I will be up riding and assisting Jim Wannamaker at the KENDA booth there. stop by for some shennanigans and tire info after the ride! Thanks guys...


Sunday, March 04, 2007

KENDA Beenie Note From Jeff

Today, I awoke with the idea of going out for a short ride before work, but to my surprise the cold grasp of winter swooped in again covering the soggy bloated ground with a fresh layer of snow, so instead of a ride I thought of the backbone guys who are missing out on the best equipment in Kenda's bike line. the cool ass, tightly woven, flames that make you ride fast with out being on your bike, head toasting beanie.

Talk Later

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thanks For The Support

Hi guys. Sorry for the lapse in the blog that won't die. I have some sad news for all of you out there in Backbone Land, and it will help to explain why I have not been as busy keeping you updated on cycling news, etc. After almost seven years of being together, Desi and I have decided to call it quits. Many of you close to us understand why, and realize that it's for the best. Thanks to everyone on this team, from lifers like Bert and Jim, to newbies like Heidi and Ming. I (we) appreciate the support you have shown to both of us, and hope you understand that if I don't get back to you right away for a while, it's because I am packing up several years of bicycle racing crap and loading it ina 10X10 storage unit. I will be busy for the next week or two locating an apartment, so please be patient and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
Don't forget that Solvang is approaching in a week or so, and Jim Wannamaker will be looking for well-paid Backbone racers to help in the booth before and after the ride. Scottsdale is also coming soon, so make sure you all buddy up for the trip!

Thanks for being there for Desi and I for the past HUNDRED years or so, you guys, I love you all for the unwavering support.