Growing up, Mark Alden was addicted to motorcycles, starting off with a little Honda XR-75 when he was 13. He progressed to racing both motocross and hare-scrambles, even dabbling with racing motorcycles on the road.
By the time Mark was 21, local off-road riding areas had pretty much dried up, so Mark ditched his body armor for a cheap steel Peugeot road bike. Initially repulsed by the form-fitting Lycra cycling outfits, he wore sweatpants with white gym socks pulled up over the cuffs (a sweet look that was much better than Lycra!). After a few months of riding several times a week, Mark noticed he could catch and pass much more serious- looking riders…
Time for a real bike – Mark ventured into Westwood Cycle and bought a 1990 Trek 2300, neon green and all. Wearing matching neon clothing (another sweet look), Mark spent the next few years riding a ton and doing the occasional race. However, it wasn’t until 2000 that Mark really took to racing, and the rest is history. Mark has progressed to Category 2 in road racing, while also becoming one of the state’s strongest pure climbers, skills honed from years of doing epic, hilly rides that cut through Harriman’s toughest hills…
Mark Alden has been a member of the Blue-Ribbon Translations team since 2005, previously racing for the Axis and Westwood Velo squads.
December Weight: 158-160 lbs.
Race Weight: 152 lbs.
Birthdate: September 24, 1968
Childhood Heroes: “The soldiers in old black and white WWII movies. I spent countless Sunday afternoons watching those movies. I suppose you could also throw in B.A. Baracus.”
Hobbies and Interests: “Art, hiking.”
Favorite Movies: “Let’s do a John Cusack trio here: Grosse Pointe Blank, Better off Dead, and Say Anything.”
Musical Tastes: “Anything from Miles Davis to Joy Division to Iron and Wine.”
Favorite TV Shows: “Heroes, So You Think You Can Dance?, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.”
Favorite Meal: “Almost every year at the Interbike show in Vegas one of our clients takes us out to Nobu for sushi. That’s my favorite meal!”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Trader Joe’s Shredded Wheat.”
Favorite Pre-Race Meal: “Cereal, banana, and a glass of OJ.” Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Never stays the same.”
Childhood Dream: “To be a soldier in black and white WWII movies.”
First Car: “1978 Audi 5000. I grew up in Ridgewood, NJ, so I felt some pressure to have a cool car and consequently ended up with this piece of crap. It was faded brown and I had to get in through the passenger side door. When I hit hard bumps the driver’s side window would partially open. When I floored the car on the highway it would let out huge clouds of black smoke and I remember that when it rained in order to start the car I would spray – from an aerosol can – some sort of toxic smelling liquid onto the engine.”
First Job: “I worked the parts counter at a motorcycle shop.”
Favorite Vacation Spot: “Adirondacks, the Saranac Lake region. Hawaii.”
Pre-Race Feeling: “Sometimes nerves, sometimes calm, and before a Central Park race – asleep.”
Early Racing Memory: “Winning the now defunct Atlantic Highlands Race for the Hills. The course was very challenging with a big climb and a twisting decent. A few laps in I went for a prime and ended up getting a gap and soloed the rest of the race and lapped most of the field.”
Funny Racing Memory: “At Jiminy Peak a few years ago on the descent I was in 2nd place going about 40 mph when I started to feel some sort of liquid spraying all over me. At first I thought that the guy’s water bottle had popped open but unfortunately the dude was pissing his shorts. It wasn’t funny at the time but it is now.”
Greatest Racing Moment: “Winning Unionvale. It was just the type of win that I was looking for. A hard road race with a finishing climb. The field was intact going into the climb and I dropped everyone.”
Most Painful Moment In Life: “Losing my Dad.”
Worst Injury from Racing: “I wasn’t racing but I slammed into a tree while mountain biking. I broke seven ribs and my shoulder blade. I also partially collapsed a lung. After the impact I sat up and was wheezing and coughing up blood. I kept telling my riding partner that I was really fucked up. He looked very pale. It took a small army of people about two hours to carry me out of the woods on a stretcher.”
Closest Racing Friends: “My Blue Ribbon team, Ken Lundgren.” Funniest Racer: “Nick Bruno, because he doesn’t know that he is funny.” Favorite Race: “Green Mountain Stage Race, Unionvale Road Race.”
Embarrassing Racing Memory: “My first race was the 1990 NJ State Championships. I was a Cat 4 but was training with a lot of Cat 2s and 3s and could readily drop them on climbs. I thought I was going to kick ass – the guys that I trained with thought so, too. During the race I could barely get near the front. Then I ended up crashing in the finishing sprint.”
Toughest Competitors: “I really admired the way that Max Lippolis (Target Training) rode this year.”
Favorite Athletes to Watch: “I don’t ski, but I am amazed by downhill skiers.”
Qualities You Most Admire in People: “The rare combination of kindness and guts.”
What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle: “The rhythm of it all. Feeling my body working fluidly while under extreme stress. Also, a good ride generally keeps me 100% in the present, which can sometimes be a very good thing.”