Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Grass

Backbone's very own Rhoda and Jimbo Roff.....

Taylor making it look easy at the Firestone NCS race....

The world's worst lover, seen here pointing to a place he'll never go..heaven.

There are a great deal of things that chap my collective ass on a daily basis, and many of them I do a fairly good job of changing so they don't chap anymore. One of the things I have NOT been able to even clearly define is the use of the term "Grassroots." From my perspective..which to be honest, is the only one I really give two sh**s about...a Grassroots cycling team is one that is loosely organized, has no budget, does only limited and regional races, and receives no free product or press of any kind. Does that sound about feasable to anyone but me? Here comes the ass chapping part.

The hardest working man in racing, Roger, seen here out-working the X-Fusion Titus team mechanic at a ratiio of 3,714 to 1.

I occasionally hear us referred to as a Grassroots team by people (not ON this team). Why does that enrage me so? It probably shouldn't, and I should probably be able to let that roll off my back in a duck-like fashion...but I can't. Everyone on this team or even associated with it...including sponsors...treat us like we are NOT Grassroots. I remember the days when that would have been acceptable (like at CFR) but not anymore.

The team touring the Titus factory with our man, E.vil J.uicy.

The whole thing that spurred me to take over..then quit CFR was the complete lack of support the riders had. This despite the fact the sponsors actually DID send free product to the team owner's house. We just never saw any of it at races..y'know, the place you may actually NEED it? I don't know many Grassroots teams that have managed to produce three of the top five female Pro's in the state of California (Chrissy, Christy, Teri).

Jeff "Tookie" Williams bombing the Lake Hope, Ohio race this year.

As far as I have seen, we are also about the last of the groups who still field a full complement team, with XC and gravity racers. I can't remember a team in the early 90's that DIDN'T do it that way..then somewhere along the line that all split. Grassroots my fat Swedish ass! We are a National team, with riders in every discipline, in every age bracket, and even have a National Champion!

Randy chatting with Olympic MTB hopeful Mike Broderick at Interbike.

So what if I don't charge the Beginner and Sport riders two hundred bucks for a membership fee...I am pretty sure THEY don't mind it. I also like the fact the Beginner/Sport/Expert riders all get equal treatment and respect, and until this year's frame alottment, had absolutely equal distribution of every free morsel we received from sponsors. By the way, how many Expert XC racers out there are getting free carbon full suspension frames? I have three.

How does one not love the support provided by the large breasted Kim?

Oh, and wasn't that Randy's inked up ass on every major cycling magazine's pages (along with many of the rest of us)in the KENDA ad? We had web banner ads at Whistler's website, are featured in several sponsor catalogs, JAY was in a huge article in Decline, etc.

Jay at Firestone trying out his new Royal clothing line...

I'd like to see ANY other teams, Grassroots or not, who can beat that. We have such great support from the riders and their families/friends, many BIG NAME PRO's actually take advantage of our organization to get on that podium.

Mary Mac and I at the Scottsdale NMBS race this year...

I see more Backbone riders and support people at Interbike representing their team and sponsors than I do any other group, regardless of fame or budget. When was the last time you saw anyone else working twenty hour days at Interbike, without pay, to say thanks to the sponsors that give them their very lives from March to October? Grassroots...I got your Grassroots hangin'.

Ed Fonda from Voler holding up our jersey at Interbike...

Backbone riders get support from Roger and the 'Heavies in CA, The Roff's in CA, me in the Midwest, and Tookie and Ryan have anyone's needs covered in the East. How's that for Grassroots?

Bert's National Champ Jersey on display at the KENDA booth podium musuem...

We do all the NCS races, Sea Otter, Kenda-Fest (Crankworx), Cal State's, Rim Nordic, tahoe DH, Southridge, Keyesville, Mountain States Cup, WV State Series, Ohio State Series, Duryea DH, 24hrs, Idyllwild Spring Challenge, National Championship race, etc. etc.....that's a damn lotta races, and we have some Sport riders who travel enough to get a free trip to Bangladesh every month on frequent flier miles. O.K....I'm calming down more coffee.

The Fuzz, after cracking a rib and finishing his XC race at Fontana....

Did I mention we have EIGHT comp'd TOMAC frames coming this year? If I hear anyone else mention us in the same breath with the term Grassroots, I'll tattoo a naked picture of Star Jones to their eyelids. Douche Bags...


World Class team support crew chief, Stikkity-Stakk hard at work...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Georgia Gould, Mountain Bike Suffragette

Luna Chix rider and teammate of Backbone Buddy Jimena Florit has recently authored a petition to the UCI, asking them to actually hold true to their OWN charter and NOT descriminate against the lady racers. There is still a HUGE difference in the payouts at UCI events between the men and women's Pro fields. She is asking for that to be rectified as per their own charter's words. I signed the petition today, since we have several great female riders who work just as hard as the men do. Kudos to Georgia for fighting the good fight!

Tomac Primer Production Model 1st Look.

Here is the the pre-production model (black wheels) shown next to the PRODUCTION model (red wheels) that the Backbone DH guys will be racing on for 2008. Note the hydroformed and swoopy lines on the Production model. That also increases the weld area, making for a stronger high-stress area. They look sweet, and can't wait to hear that they have arrived on Bert's doorstep. The bikes look killer!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rebecca Rolfe

Never heard of her? You actually have, just under a MUCH different name. Lady Rebecca Rolfe was the wife of an Englishman (John Rolfe) who worked for the British Virginia Company that sponsored the early Jamestown settlement in Virginia. He met her in Jamestown, but at that time she had nurtured a growing crush on a man named John Smith. Her birth name was anything but English. She was born a Powhatan Indian named Natoaka, and when John Smith's life was spared by her (allegedly) she was just twelve years old. American folklore has it that they had a wild romance, but he was 29 and failed to mention anything to that effect in his journals of exploration.

**Natoaka saving Captain John Smith's life from death by clubbing.*****

Jamestown was constantly under attack by the Powhatan people, but Natoaka always came to the camp to warn the settlers. Wihout her intervention, the America's may never have been settled by the English for good. She developed a huge adolescent crush on John Smith. He had left for England in 1609, two years after helping to settle Jamestown, and she never visited the camp again.
Skirmishes broke out between the expansionist settlers and the native people, and during one such raid in 1612 Natoaka was taken capive by John Rolfe. She asked of John smith's whereabouts, and he told her he had died in England. John Rolfe quikly began grooming his captive lady for marriage, and in 1614 they married, traveling to England in 1616. She found out from friends soon after that her husband had lied, and that John Smith was not only alive, but living in a nearby town. She had had a son named Tom now, and John Smith had a family of his own. He found out about her, and paid her a visit. He wrote in his journal that she was strangely cold and distant, probably heartbroken over the strange turn of events.
She was never the same, and on the very day she was to return to America with her son and husband, she fell into a coma and died. Was she poisoned, suicide, or just died of a broken heart? She lies buried in an unmarked grave in a town called Gravesend, in St. George's Church. Her descendants are part of America's most noteable families. Tom Rolfe went to Jamestown when he was twenty five years old, and married. They had a daughter, and from this child came descendants like First Lady Edith Wilson, President Woodrow Wilson's wife.
A sad note is that the settlers eventually burned and killed all the Powhatan people, planting tobacco on the place where Pocahontas was born. OH, did I not mention that Lady Rebecca Rolfe, Natoaka, and Pocahontas were the same people?
My bad.....Disney musta left that part out during the creation of their family-friendly animated film.

The Cougar Chronicles

Every once in a while you meet someone that creates a spark in your life. They reinvigorate something that maybe you were taking for granted or had lost a bit of lustre for. They ask nothing, and give everything. That person for me was Heidi Volpe. Completely unassuming, yet one of the best riders I have ever met, Heidi makes me happy everytime I see her..every time we talk on the phone or send e-mails. She is the perfect mate for Darter (also one of my favorite people ever), and a perfect fit for this team. She has made me work harder to be better for all of you, and I am thankful for that. All that being said, Heidi "Cougar' Volpe had a sit-down with me a handfull of months ago to tell me what was going on for next season. I asked that she keep it under wraps until after Christmas.

The night we spoke of this was the beginning of a week of heartbroken and sleepless nights. Typically when someone leaves the team, it's because of an easily understandable personality conflict between yours truly and the other person. That being the case, I am typically not too upset and often glad to see them go. Heidi is not one of those people (at least I don't think so, she COULD be pissed at me for any # of things I'm sure, but she left that part out!). I was depressed for days, if not weeks. I am still not 100% over the whole thing, but have grown a small leathery patch on what's left of my crunchy, crispy, dark litttle mass of a cajun- blackened heart in order to cope with the loss.

It's my fault for letting so much of everyone in, I guess. I just don't know how to do this any other way. Heidi is someone that makes you want to keep going, keep fighting the good fight day in and day out. I have never heard anyone call me and say that Heidi was being a bitch, or talking s**t behind my (or anyone else's) back, or doing anything that would otherwise chap my ass. Nothing. How do you NOT like someone like that?

So anyhow, she came to us right before the Keyesville Classic, which she promptly won. She followed that up with a high-podium at the X-Terra race. She quickly racked up victories in both XC and DH races, showing her depth at the Fontana NCS race. There she would race DH and XC, getting 2nd and 1st respectively.
She also managed to get 2nd place in the 24hrs of Moab w/her man Darter, and just pretty much killed it in every race from Sea Otter to the Cal State series, and topping it off with some Rim Nordic races for good measure.

At Sea Otter, she gave Taylor and I facials in our hotel room. With a gay factor of about 12 and a half, we still laughed despite the fact that we had cucumber slices in our eye sockets. She always shows up ready to roll, and provides me with every single item of info or photo that I ask for. She has been much more than just a racer for the team. Heidi was an inspiration to Des, and quickly became a friend to Lydia despite the obvious discomfort of the situation.

What else can I say about someone that will be missed well beyond the apparent race day shennanigans? How do you not love a girl who can TOTALLY and COMPLETELY kick your ass on a bike, uphill or down? If it sounds like I love Heidi just a little, I think I just might...but I'm probably not alone...Darter is a master with the chopping axe though and therefore all the guys on the team keep it to themselves....but we all talk about it....that's right, we ALL talk about it! :)

Heidi is often spotted in magazine article photographs riding some disgusting single track or running on some trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. She also happens to be a big-wig at the Los Angeles Times, so you better RECOLYZE that she not just talented on two wheels. She is probably smarter than you, which sucks, because she's faster too. OK, maybe not BERT but the rest of us for sure. Of course, Bert probably cheats anyhow so let's throw Bert under that bus as well.

Well, so here's the knife-twist that really put the "ouch" in "Ouch that really f*****g hurts that you are leaving." The NINER team she THOUGHT she was leaving us for is actually a club team abortion of the Sho-Air (read that as Short-Hair) Team with the world's most hated Sandbagger, Johnny O'Mara. The rest of it all I could deal with, but the Short-Hair team affiliation really makes my schnitzel wanna blow chunky pork sausage gravy with shards of shrapnel, just for the pain.
It's like finding out your daughter just returned home from a late night with Tommy Lee, and she's having trouble sitting down.

Anyhoo....I am hoping that Heidi will fulfill her obligation to NINER sooner than later. I also secretly pray that the experience at Short-Hair will leave her so saddened that she will call me back after the first couple of races and ask to come back into the fold. That is my dream, and if I believed in ghosts I'd pray for that to happen every night. Heidi, I will miss you a great deal, and will secretly work to undermine the team you are going to in order to speed your return to the only team worth riding for.

So enjoy the Heidi photo montage, and I will expect many responses to this page. Any negative comments will result in the author of such a comment's immediate and horrible demise. Much love to Heidi and Darter, see you soon...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Heid Says Goodbye...For Now..

Hi Hi,
So at long last, the dreaded note.
What else can I say but thanks Chris, Backbone was my first team
experience and I had so much fun, you are great and I can't wait till
git yer arse back here. HUGE BEAR hugs to you and Lyd.

Hey Backbone Racers and Friends,

Staying true to my ol’ cougar moniker I am roaming away from the pack
year. It’s not because I am getting more goodies, any money or
support, it
has more to do with my professional commitments to Niner. I have been
doing all their printed ad materials for MBA, Dirt Rag and their annual
catalog since day one and I was the first to buy a prototyped
Six which went on to become their new Jet 9 frame. With that said
I’ll be
racing for them this year
(however they have been taken on by Sho-Air!) doh!!!

The past two years with Backbone has forged some great, supportive
friendships, exemplified team spirit and a shared passion for riding.
Chris has a gift for spreading his fun loving attitude for cycling and
being a fantastic manager without any unreasonable pressures. His goals
are simple and clear: To have fun (drink beer), be safe (and drink
and ride (and drink beer). This infectious giddiness makes Backbone one
the strongest teams who looks like they are having the best time! That
said, I also recognize all the hard work and effort Chris puts into
getting team support from manufacturers, that hard work is evident from
the ongoing emails sent out regarding pro-deals, pedals, frames, tires
name it. So hats off to you Chris and everyone involved and thank you
welcoming me into the team from day one.
I am so impressed with everyone’s commitment to training, travel and
ongoing online support. It’s a great community of athletic

I still plan on doing some fun riding with you in 08 if you’ll have
and hope our friendships last longer then my short-lived team racing

Happy Holidays and I hope everyone has a terrific 2008 see you on the

All my very best,

****** I'll write my own letter on Wednesday guys, it's Christmas eve and I have a TON to do..sorry!*******

Christmas 'Cross Race!

yo capn,

going to keep this short, i just did an awesome write up and hit some f'n button and erased it!!! so i'm going to do a short write up before the anger inside takes over and destroys this f'n computer and toss this f'n keyboa... whewww almost lost it again...

so ryan asked for some help in the cross area from the backbone's... he got it... brant, vegas bob, andvanessa came out to throw down in the vallley with ryan and his super pop bert....

bert got 1st of course (single speed nut), no explanation needed....brant was leading way out the first two laps and got scared because the roadies were gathering in the pits to take out this mtn biker, i told him that roadies bruise like bananas and we could take them but without randy there for back up we decided for brant to chill with a 4th place finish, vegas bob was hammering like the drummer from lagwagon on his mtn bike, runnin with some skinny kenda's until a freaking bird bone lodged in his rear tire forcing a tire change that took him out of the lead pack... congrats on your 1st cyclo cross race bob, now his cross/cherry is gone...:) vanessa was hitting the tylenol cold medicine in the feedzone and managed a 5th spot.... and ryan got..... wtf.... ryan didnt race..... all the way to the valley and the little runt had a cold... he still managed to cheer all his teammates on and even threw a freaking stick at the guy who passed brant.. bad ryan bad ryan dont throw sticks!!! rocks only... sand baggin roadies, dont get me started.....

Happy Baby Jesus Birthday


ps the pixs are from verdugo and woodland hills combined