All things come full circle.


By: Amanda Sundvor

October 5, 2023

If you had to map out the times when things come “full circle” you’ll find there’s a lot of zigs and zags. The circle is shaped more like a football field, and you’re actually working towards dreams you never knew were important to you. By you, I mean me. Hello, it’s me - your friend Amanda. Today, Sean let me back behind the keyboard to discuss the “full circle” moment so many of us experience in our lifetimes and my own recent experience.

Storytellers want to take you back to the beginning, so you can truly understand where it all started. I’m one of those people who wants to be understood; I get it. Today though, let me kick it of by M. Night Shyamalan-ing the frick outta ya. First things first; you’re dead. You’ve been dead this whole time, you just don’t know it. There, now that we’re caught up, I can tell you about this rectangle circle phenomenon I told you about earlier in the paragraph above.

14 years ago Sean and I worked at a bike shop here in Portland, OR; it’s how we met. At the time, I was throwing one-off bicycle events and Sean didn’t know he was about to be my creative partner. His job prior was THE fixed gear shop in NYC - TRACKSTAR. Any fixed “kid” with their 2009 fixed gear knowledge who wants to share their opinion about what NYC track shop they felt was THE ONE can pound salt. I’m telling the story here. It was TRACKSTAR.

We were two bike mechanics using what we had to get what we want. What we wanted was a good time, but not just any good time, OUR good time. A good time that thought about how people moved through the space, how they got a beer, their experience getting it, how they raced. Our idea of a good time was more work, but just the kind if work we wanted to do. Sean and I hit it off immediately and began our 14 year journey of creating together. We started with what we knew - RACING. Here’s where Sean chimes in with something along the line of "she n

ever says what kind of racing. She just says RACING.” In this story, the racing I’m referring to cycling, but if Sean and I are at the helm, it could be anything. Hell, we’ll throw you a helluva Rascal Scooter race if we can only get Rascal to call us back.

Backyard Blam - that’s what I called the bike events we threw, because it started as roller sprint races in my backyard and I’m creative like that. As it evolved and grew beyond my yard, we kept the name because backyards are historically fun, and we’d like to think, so are we. I had just moved to Portland from Chicago, where I didn’t have a yard and I wanted so badly to be surrounded with bicycles and cycling culture. Here, I was finally in the spot and hanging with the people I was reading about when I lived in Chicago. I felt compelled to contribute. Everyone else seemed to be doing something creative and meaningful. I knew I could throw one heck of a party, so that’s where it started. It’s where I met the world. Sean and I were instinctively drawn to one another, each of us with the urge to make something beyond ourselves. With our forces combined, from then on out, we were unstoppable. Late nights at 21st Ave Bicycles (that’s the spot) listening to funk and talking about how we can possibly “Make it Awesome” became the regular. It was more than a slogan, it was truly our way of life. We got there early (sometimes) and stayed late (all the time). I was like our own studio. We repaired during the day and created at night. Both of us raced, but racing, from what I experienced up to that point always had always been somewhat of a flex-fest. The fast dudes were fast and you were put into a class based on your skill level. Pretty normal stuff. No one, at that time in Portland, was throwing unsanctioned races, besides alleycats, that meant absolutely nothing to do with how well you were doing in that season. No one seemed to be throwing races just for fun. No one besides Backyard Blam.

Before the Blam started, I was watching two kid’s race while I was waiting for my class to race at a cross event. One kid’s family had money and the other kid’s family clearly did not. I watched that kid on a 40lbs, 26” wheel, clapped out MTB bike right on the wheel of a kid with a carbon bike that he had no business being on. The entire race, that MTB kid gave the other one a run for his money. His parent’s money, that is. That really resonated with me. Money is what kept that kid in front and if that kid on his wheel had parents that could afford the price tag that comes with performance equipment, he would’ve left that other kid in the dust. I grew up without much, so when Sean and I started throwing races, we provided the bikes (through the generosity of the sponsors) which were all the same. We built various closed circuit tracks that the entire audience could see and no racer got to pre-ride - level playing field. There were no classes except Men and Women’s. Everyone of different skill levels mixing it up on unfamiliar bikes, on an unfamiliar track. $5 race entry fee, winner takes all, including the bike they were on. The beer was free, the entertainment - free. We relied, once again, on the generosity of the sponsors to keep the stoke levels high at Backyard Blam. 14 years later, High Order are now the sponsors for the PDX Trophy Cup - Portland’s premier twilight cyclocross race. Cyclocross is fun, but racing at night is a different animal all together; even the crowd’s energy is different and we dump fuel on that energy to light up the freaking night! WOOO! (Say it like Rick Flair) Sean gets out there on the track from time to time and since I’m an announcer, I get to heckle him as much as I want to. After 14 years, I’ve earned that right. More on the actual racing in a later post.

For me and my football field circle, my trip here was an arduous one. I too used to race, but after my never ending journey with surgeries and mobility, just riding a bicycle is difficult for me. I had stopped going to the races. I stopped supporting my friends. I couldn’t ride; why would I want to be around something I couldn’t do? It was painful and as I still continued with my surgeries, I struggled with the feeling that the things I love the most are being taken away from me. That is, until the Portland Trophy Cup. To realize that Sean and I, after all these years, can give back to this thing that has given us so much feels pretty unreal and important. To cheer on my friends once again feels healing. High Order is more than a job. It’s a never ending opportunity to make it awesome and we take full advantage of that opportunity as much as we can.