In my life I have met exactly three people I would describe as being completely badass. And seeing as how my dad was a former United States Marine Corps drill instructor who never giggled except during the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, and who had a penchant for waking me up Reveille style, I figure my list, if not entirely complete, is at least solid.
One of the guys on my list was a guy named Nick, a bouncer in a tiny music venue in Minneapolis, Minnesota called 7th Street Entry. On more than one occasion, I watched as fists, legs and/or bottles glanced off of Nick's unwavering head. His job was to protect the musicians and the show, and he did so with the utmost professionalism. If you got in his way there would be consequences, but absent a legitimate reason to pay you back for some transgression, Nick was perhaps the most polite person I've ever met.
Another is a Danish former pro road-bike racer by the name of Brian Holm. Legend has it that Holm once spent a fair amount of his offseason in the slammer after protecting countryman and fellow pro racer Jesper Skibby in some kind of bar fight. Skibby's attacker—the dude at the wrong end of Holm's fists—didn't come out of it looking too pretty, and Holm came into the racing season just barely out of shape.
The third, if you haven't figured it out by now, is Mark Weir. If you aren't already familiar with the man, he once logged more than a million vertical feet of pedaling in a year, which is just shy of 3,000 feet per day—and he didn't even need the whole 365 to accomplish his goal. A few years ago, the home he shared with wife Suzy and son Gus went up in flames, but Weir bounced back with his signature mustachioed smile. More recently, though, the Cannondale OverMountain Team Rider was seriously injured in a freak accident that would've likely sent a lesser mortal straight to the morgue.
Now roughly seven weeks after the tangle with a tree left him with a broken sacrum and multiple fractures of the pelvis, Weir is able to ditch the wheelchair and walk around a bit—even drive. The fractures have him still tender where his body meets a bicycle seat, though, so while he's looking forward to pedaling on the road or indoor trainer within a week or so, he's not going to be shredding any singletrack for a while yet. For a guy who likes to be moving all of the time, it's not so easy.
"Speaking of low worth, dude, I've never felt so low on the worth scale—ever. I was at Costco two days ago, and I can't really pick anything up, lift anything heavy. But I can walk around, so I actually look like I'm a legitimate contributor to the community.
"My wife had to get these big heaters for her work, those big mushroom heaters. So we're putting them on these two carts, and she's lifting the things up like Lou Ferrigno, dude, just yanking them up onto the cart and trying to get them up on top of the other boxes, because they're big.
"And I'm just using one hand, kind of like pushing at it almost like a fan—like I'm airing my face. Worthless. And this guy runs over and he goes, 'Dude, let me help you.' And it's not like I'm going to tell him, 'Hey, by the way, I'm crushed in so many places that I can't lift this.' I had to just sit there and suck it up. And you know how crowded Costco is…I looked like a total idiot."
Luckily for Weir's mind and body, his RC cars can be driven from a wheelchair. And according to him, he's now completely pro.
"I'm good," he says. "At bikes at had to work really hard, but at RC I'm just plain gifted."
But beyond the convalescing and hot laps with his fleet of RC cars, Weir wants to get more people on bikes, and has been working with The Friends of Stafford Lake Bike Park to raise money to build a world-class bike park near to his infamous 'Ranch' in Novato, California. The park is set to have multiple pump tracks, an A line, a dual slalom designed by Brian Lopes and a slopestyle course designed by Cameron McCaul. The project is easily two or three years from completion, but most of its sponsors are already on board.
Four to six weeks from now, Weir plans to be back at it, and hopes to be seen in competition in local as well as world enduro events. Of course that's assuming that drought, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and the bubonic plague don't attack Novato, California. Somehow, I think, all of those things would just make Mark Weir grumpy—and tougher than ever.