Monday, December 24, 2007
Beauty queen’s unique ‘U.S. Americans and such as’ answer a runner-up
"Don't tase me, bro," a phrase that swept the nation after a U.S. college student used it seeking to stop campus police from throwing him out of a speech by Sen. John Kerry, was named Wednesday as the most memorable quote of 2007.
Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of the Yale Book of Quotations, said the plea made by University of Florida student Andrew Meyer on Sep. 17, accompanied by Meyer's screams as he was tased, beat out the racial slur that cost shock jock Don Imus his job and the Iranian president's declaration that his country does not have homosexuals.
Shapiro said Meyer's quote was a symbol of pop culture success. Within two days it was one of the most popular phrases on Google and one of the most viewed videos. It also showed up on ringtones and T-shirts.
An ode to education, and such as Second on Shapiro's list was this tortuous answer by Lauren Upton, the South Carolina contestant in the Miss Teen America contest in August, when asked why one-fifth of Americans can't find the United States on a map:
"I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us."
Upton later apologized for her answer not making a lot of sense.
Third was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's October comment at Columbia University in New York, "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country."
Shock jock Don Imus comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team: "That's some nappy-headed hos there," was fourth.
Imus created a national outcry and lost his job at CBS radio in April, but returned to the airwaves in December with Citadel Broadcasting.
‘Don’t recall’ these memorable moments?Other phrases on the list:
5. "I don't recall." — Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' repeated response to questioning at a congressional hearing about the firing of U.S. attorneys.
6. "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11." — Sen. Joseph Biden, speaking at a Democratic presidential debate, in reference to Republican presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
7. "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody (Vice President Dick Cheney) who has a 9 percent approval rating." — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.
8. "(I have) a wide stance when going to the bathroom." — Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig's explanation of why his foot touched that of an undercover policeman in a men's room.
9. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man." — Biden describing rival Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
10. "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." — Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.
Source: an email from one of my most dear and smart former students...
Sunday, December 23, 2007
A big "old-school" and/or "back-in-the-day" full on blizzard in Duluth on Sunday provided reasonably good training conditions to ready my old beat-up body for the rigors of the Arrowhead 135. The temps weren't too bad so I went light on the clothing and footgear. I did laps around the neighborhood and my kid genuously pitched in by throwing snow down my back...Next week, my neighbor who is somekind of a doctor, (that has had a string of bad luck) has agreed to give me a deal on having any and all appendages that are irrelevant to winning the Arrowhead removed, so that'll be a few less things to worry about!!!!
Feeding the Rat: 2 hours and 40 minutes...it was a good week--DP: U are goin' down!!!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
My Dear Fellow Cyclists:
Twenty-niner riders do not need to worry anymore and rightly so. For it seems reasonable that with the passage of time, and several recent stunning victories in United States Cycling Federation sanctioned-events, coupled with American mainstream mega-corporations currently manufacturing these new bikes earnestly in far away exotic lands (i.e. Chinese sweatshops); most, if not all, mainstream American cyclists have come to believe that those legal U.S. citizens that choose to ride mountain bikes affixed with twenty-nine inch wheels are really essentially and fundamentally no different than any other American cyclist or group of American cyclists; that the “29er community” does not in anyway represent a threat to the mainstream American cycling establishment. The American 29er community, composed entirely of legal United States citizens, believes in Baseball, Fast-food Apple Pie, EPO, and the American Way just like all good legal United States cyclists do...
Unfortunately, in the name of transparency and general uncertainty about “their” real aims and goals, the same perhaps cannot be said of this new fringe group; namely, the Clown Bike community, (note: I refuse to use their self-proclaimed, more benign "snowbike" moniker). I think I reflect the beliefs of all true Americans, when I proclaim that the time is NOW for the Clown Bike community to declare it's exact agenda? I think I am representative of the legal United States citizenry when I announce that the time is NOW for the Clown Bike community to respond to the “speculative rumors” and “half-truths” that those that choose to ride the Pugsley and other "clown bikes" are indeed apart of some sinister ”un-American” cult!!!! If these accusations are incorrect, then I call upon the Clown Bike parishioners to submit to questioning? Or face the full wrath of a United States public that deserves full disclosure and top quality reality TV shows!
American cyclists, you and your loved ones have heard all the rumors— where do these people come from? Are these people legal? Are those fat-bikes legal? Will “their” obsession with width and volume compromise “their” allegiance to the ideals upon which this great country is founded? Who or what compels them to ride such bulky cumbersome rigs? Are they behind the Global-warming hoax? For whom do they serve? Are they taking their cues from the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law or do they believe that they are exempt from these pillars of democracy in favor of some charismatic, yet fiendish cult-like figure or pagan mandate? If not a cult, then is it some kind of quasi-religious movement? Do they ultimately mean us harm? Are they armed? Are our CHILDREN safe? And most importantly should they be banned from the 2008 Arrowhead 135?
I say that in the tradition of the US judicial system, before we prematurely light the fires and erect the gallows; we afford this "fringe' group a chance to come clean...to admit guilt, but the clock is ticking........
A Concern Citizen and proud member of the American 29er Community,
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Updated again on 12/20 to include an impressive run-on sentence (in red): Training for the Arrowhead...itz pretty routine for a guy like me!!!!!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Feeding the Rat: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 8.5 hours on the trails...and 11 hours for the week
Friday, December 14, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Note: If the current loose conditions exist in International Falls come early February 2008, (at the start of the Arrowhead 135)...Find & Bury my old bones deep so the wolves and the neo-cons can't get to 'em and give the Gunnar Rockhound 29er to Rosscoe and the Kelly Knobby X to Ekimov :)
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Muse on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. Arrowhead countdown—58 dayz out: "I love the serenity of the woods, going 80 mph on my snow-jet." Reflective Hardcore Snowmobile Speedster...Disclaimer: Hey, come on!!! I'm just kidding!!! We need those guyz!!!...Certainly our mere existence is a paradox, a hinderance, a problem, and intolerance and stereotyping only add to the problem....I am no better, or WE are no better than anybody else or group... Relative to the rest of the earthlings, we all leave BIG, NO HUGE FOOT Prints...right???? I am figuring that it will all play out accordingly in the end, and we'll have little, if any 'say-so' in the outcome. As Vonnegut would say, 'so it goes.'" CPF
Week #1 Total: 14 hours....
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Muse on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. Arrowhead countdown—60 dayz out!!!
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.” GK Chesterton
(Author’s note: of course riding in the Arrowhead does not reach the level of “courageousness”, but with a few modifications the quote does seem to somewhat apply): “Trying to get fit for the Arrowhead is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to freeze.”
Friday, November 30, 2007
Five Star Workout; the kind that tests ones resolve! The kind that tests ones mettle! The kind that...makes a guy thirsty!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Good Bye to MIDNIGHT SUN; a gear store here in Duluth. It was a great store, but itz going-out-of-business. Makes a guy wonder about the definition...
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Muse on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. Arrowhead countdown--68 dayz out...or something like that??? The race starts on Monday morning, February 4th: "I feel bad that I don't feel worse."
Note: Everyday for my classes, I write a Quote-of-the-Day on the board and I have the kids discuss it. My 1st hour group is top notch and it was amazing how the above little quote touched many of them. I heard many of them saying things like, "I totally feel that way sometimes." Of course for the Arrowhead 135, a more appropriate quote might be the following:
"I feel good that I ain't dead."
Feeding the Rat: Home-to-Esko commute in "good A.H." training conditions: 3 hours and 50 Minutes (BIG TIME, SWEET).
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Who would win in a fight;Rocky Balboa plus Apollo Creed, the super buff Russian, and Mr. T against a severely wounded Chuck Norris?
“After racing my bike all summer and fall, I am so out of shape itz sick. Yeah, I know what ya mean, I am so weak on top that I can‘t even do a pull up” Scotty Johnson & CPF on the paradoxical pitfalls of bike racing...
Feeding the Rat: 60 minutes; running the stairs @ UMD while the tax deduction is costing me $$$ at swimming lessons (the author has been running stairs for 30 years and still maintains that itz the best ‘quick workout’ a guy can do, well almost the best!!!!).
Monday, November 26, 2007
“Everyone needs a philosophy of life. Mental health is based on the tension between what you are and what you think you should become. You should be striving for worthy goals. Emotional problems arise from being purposeless." Viktor Frankl
Note: The jury is still out, of course, on whether riding 135 miles on a fully loaded bike in the dead of winter on a remote trail constitutes a ‘worthy goal.’ But I will submit that it is just as worthy a goal as hitting a golf ball or the like…
Feeding the Rat— A.M. easy commute: East Duluth –to- Esko 90 minutes, no wind, no snow, and mild temps (go figure). Plus 80 minutes Esko-to-Duluth, plus 52 minute jog while off-spring was at swimming lessons...for a total of 3 hours and 32 minutes; Legs are sore (in a good a way), but with good reason as I am at twenty-one hours+ on the bike over the last seven dayz. Looking forward to Tuesdayz REST DAY. The plan is to hit it hard with lots of steady aerobic base work (average 15 to 17 hours per week) thru December and maybe into the first week of January and then start the four or five week taper with lotz of rest and recovery heading into the Arrowhead 135 (AKA The Big Dance). My hope is that I will be able to start skiing in mid December as too much time on the bike makes “Johnny a dull boy.”
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Input, ideas, suggestions, pleas, submissions, etc., for The List of Most Impressive Cycling Accomplishments of 2007
Any suggestions, etc, will be considered...(bribes are encouraged. As many of you know earning a place on THE LIST can be life changing...)
Feeding the Rat: 131 minutes traveling up the North Country Trail. Ran into a section of hummocks similar to those found on the Arrowhead 07...it was a hard truth to bear...
Saturday, November 24, 2007
"Trying to find out what only dead men know." Bob Dylan
As part of a covert training mission, Tim Ek and I embarked on a picturesque, yet enigmatic, secretive, highly guarded 70 mile loop Friday morning from my securely fortified house in East Duluth. Nearly five hours later we arrived back to my humble, yet well protected abode with sore legs but bolstered psyches… While specifics are confidential, basically, we are training for nothing less than top finishes in the Trans-Iowa come late April….there I said it!!!! We both know we can go the distance, we have done so in the recent past. None of this, “I just want to finish” anti-hyperbole.…no way, we are training to be able to hang with the front group and we are training to be able to "jump clean" should (or when) an opportunity arise(s). Itz like that US American Revolutionary patriot dude said way back in the day, “Give me a top five finish or give me death!” (or something like that? Anyway, ya get what I be getting’ at?) In any event, Eki is a good man, tough as nails, and therefore a top notch training partner for the Trans Iowa IV (322 miles on rough gravel, in the past strong men have cried for their mommies)…The top echlon on the Federal government are on board, including White House approval. With clandestine assistance from various governmental agencies including but not limited to the FBI, CIA, NSC, SEALS, and Green Berets, we have developed a series of covert workouts that are dangerous, highly classified, top secret and yet vital to our nation’s security and our chances at the Trans-Iowa…I simply cannot convey anymore, dear readers, for to do so would endanger the very core foundations of our American Democracy…I am sure you all understand the brevity of the situation! For the time being, you will just need to trust that we (Dick Cheney, Eki, and I) are doing all that we can do to keep you all safe from the evil doers and at the same time getting Eki and I “like totally buff” for the Trans-Iowa!!!!
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Muse on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. Arrowhead countdown--80 dayz; “Just War.”
Acknowledging Assyrian Assassins whilst attempting to augment the audacious RAT: Saturday-131 minutes good training pace; 5 hours hard w/ Ekimov on Friday. Plus, 90 minutes easy on Thursday...Itz shaping up to be a big week!!!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
“As civilizations progress, it will become more and more obvious that civilization will kill us all.” C.P. Farrow ( after a harrowing, dangerous, but exciting commute home from his place of employment, November 21, 2007)
Feeding the Rat: 4hours & 17 minutes partly in tough conditions… (SWEET)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
"There is nothing wrong with sobreity in moderation." John Ciardi
Starving the Rat: Rest Day
Monday, November 19, 2007
Feeding the rat: a.m. commute 90 minutes "against the wind." P.M. commute, plus easy jog while offspring was at swimming lessons for a total of 198 minutes (3+ hours)...gettin' 'er done...
Note: Come the end of April, I am signed-up (along with Tim EK) and ready to go in the Trans-Iowa IV...SWEET!!!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Kudos to Hollywood Henderson, his great bike shop [Hollywood Cycles: 722 West 98th Street, Bloomington, MN ] and the other sponsors, and all the wonderful volunteers and participants that made this such a great event!!!!
An amicable, yet realistic group of Duluthians traveled down to the big Twin Cities on Saturday to partake in the final psycho-cross festivities of the Minnesota cycling season. Included in this cadre of Nordlanders were Dave Shuneman, Scotty K-J, Shawn Gort, Mike Weispeining, Mike Hall, June Sayers, and the aging author. “Amicable” in that ya just can’t fine a better bunch of fellas to spend a day at the races with; and “realistic” in that we all knew that the competition would be fierce and that the best a guy could hope for was to not wrought flagrant dishonor onto himself or the great city upon The Lake, and perhaps most importantly, to not take out a fast guy at the start or when getting lapped…[Note: In CX A-races, the author has taken the process of getting lapped by the really fast guyz to an unsurpassed level. Using novel techniques such as pushing the faster guy onward or even jumping completely off the course in expert fashion as the leaders attempt to pass on tight sections of the course).
With the talented and skilled CX racer, Harry Anderson conspicuously missing-in-action, all the Northlanders demonstrated unremarkable performances (official results are not available at this time) and yet were well within the top echelon at publically enjoying themselves and encouraging the other racers after their respective races were completed. Also notable groups that were especially adept at public displays of enjoyment (both natural and chemically enhanced) was the contingent from Saint Cloud and the group that was encouraging free shots of whiskey at the double barriers on the top of the course. The author in mock protest to the continual attempts by the powers-that-be at US Cycling to shorten the race times and/or distances for the elder statesmen of cycling, completed both the B race and the A race (nearly two hours of cx racing!!!), displaying his unique propensity for painful mediocrity in both competitions. Plus I wanted a Top-Notch aerobic workout to end the 2007 season and to also kick off a committed, concerted, rejuvenated effort to get really fit, no, I mean...dangerously fit for the Arrowhead 135. In the “A” race, the highlight for me was getting lapped by crowd favoite Doug Swanson twice (the undisputed MN CX Champion for like the fifth year in a row). The first time he caught me, I used my right arm to give him a strong burst forward as we were climbing the stairs and on the second time I gave him an enthusiastic, “Go Doug Go!!!.” Methinks Doug Swanson is the consummate athlete and all around great guy. Team Lalonde caught me only once, but I took the initiative to jump on Jesse’s wheel and hold it for at least one minute during which time I was totally “livin’ the dream, baby!!!!” The Lalondeez are so wEiRd, so fASt, and so aLterNatiVe that a guy can't help but to be intrigued...The highlight for me in the B race was holding Jim Bell's wheel for the first lap and then watching from afar as Jim Bell, Bill Kuster, and Greg Goblirsch all in their 40s, finished well up at the top!!! It seems so weird and counterproductive to me that with all these old guyz cleaning up in all aspects of racing why there would be an effort by the governing body of US Cyling to shorten the times or distances for veteran races???
Now that the racing season is over, itz time to get into shape, I am up to nearly 180 lbs., itz time for me to get my act together and really focus on some big time BASE training and eating right for the Arrowhead and hopefully the Trans-Iowa!!! So little time and so many races :) Racing in a park in the Cities or at a ski resort is one thing...riding 135 miles on a desolate trail in the dead of winter out of I-Falls with no one around, requires a little more from a guy...
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Kids these dayz!!! I remember how great it wuz back in the day....Kids were better then, blah, blah, blah......
Feeding the Rat: Rode out to 2 Harbors and back--Sweet!!! 3 hours...for a good week (13.7 hours!!!)
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Muse on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. Arrowhead countdown--86 dayz: "I never take short cuts unless I know they're shorter." C. Farrow
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Ekimov and I embarked on a long 3 hour+ ride today that transgressed into a four hour mini-epic as the wind then snow, then slush came up rather suddenly about two hours into it. Neither one of us was dressed appropriately, but the steely Eki had even less on than the writer. We pulled it off though and it was great getting a chance to work-out with Tim Ek, one of the top enduro-freaks around and more importantly a darn nice guy!!!! Three hours into the ride with a good hour still out from warmth, my feet were really cold, but my main source of pain was the super chilling of my core front. Poor Eki was wearing just regular cycling shoes, shorts w/leg warmers and no glasses…frozen feet, legs, and no vision makes for an ideal training session for the upcoming Arrowhead!!! Anyone that has frozen his or her feet on a long ride knows that itz the thawing out that really makes a guy wanna cry!!!
Feeding the Rat: 3 Hours and 55 minutes…
Friday, November 9, 2007
Even though it was dark, my highly trained eye caught movement on the left perimeter. I was riding fast…up well past the main entrance to Hartley Nature Center. There is a community park on the right where the road begins to flatten out, complete with softball/baseball-type fields, tennis courts, and play ground. As a wily veteran always on the lookout for an ambush, I automatically honed in on the unnatural movements behind the shrubs that line the ball fields which in turn quickly allowed my Mega CIA computer-like brain to discern two shadowy figures. The one closest to me was athletic; lean like lynx, committed like a cannibal. While the other was fat and sloth-like, tentative and wary like a roadie on a mountain bike course. They both looked to be 9th or 10th graders and both were fully armed with snow balls. The pure white of the small, albeit lethal orbs presented a stark, deadly contrast to their blackish camo fatigues. From personal experience, while not always fatal, snowballs especially at this early stage of the winter campaign within close urban warfare can cause major damage, (when the biker is still dressed in relatively light-weight armor). A well placed snow-ball really hurts when a youthful arm has the talent to hit a moving biker, even a leg shot hurts something awful (a couple years back a youthful, albeit talented miscreant hit me in the ear with a snow projectile knocking off my glasses and it hurt REAL BAD). At first, I went with the “flight” instinct standing up and driving down hard onto the pedals, but nearly just as instantaneously I knew that “fight” was my only real chance at salvation for this type of amoral insurgent thinks nothing of hitting his target in the back. I hit the brakes, popped off the bike in perfect Belgium-cyclocross dismount style and screamed at them in the best John Wayne voice I could muster, “You throw that snowball at me and I’m gonna kick your @#$#@^% *&^!!!!!" Perhaps too new to the merciless ravages of war to call my bluff, they dropped the snow balls and took off running back into the shadows…It was just like John Wayne would have done it!!! I was pumped!!! I rode off smiling and thinking I was “Lord of the Universe.” Chalk one up for the good guys!!!!
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Muse on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. 87 dayz to go…According to a super smart guy (Lao-Tzu) that was here on earth like a long time ago, like from the Far East; “The further one pursues knowledge, the less one knows.”
Feeding the Rat—60 minutes walk/jog on Thursday. 120 minutes high tempo ride on Friday...
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Muse on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. 88 dayz to go…According to Mark Twain, the founder father of irony “When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not, but I am getting old, so soon I shall remember only the latter.”
Feeding the Rat—Wednesday night=100 minutes+ run including 30 minutes running the stairs at UMD.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Feeding the Rat—two hours+ on the North Country Trail, approximately at the half way point it got real dark out and then started to snow…that was motivation enough for me!
Monday, November 5, 2007
Daily Brief Illogical Oxymoronic Musings on the Arrowhead 135: Practical contradictory applications in Paradoxology. With 91 dayz to go until a motley rag-tag group of maladjusted enduro-freaks begin their forlorn trek down the Arrowhead trail…the following initial [albeit grim] quote by Charles Baudelaire, to get the ball rolling so to speak, seems appropriate:
“The cannon thunders…limbs fly in all directions…one can hear the groan of victims and the howling of those performing the sacrifice…It’s Humanity in search of happiness.”
Friday, November 2, 2007
ATVs, camo, & hi-tech optics; I know itz all about communing with nature and all. But sensory infra-red imaging devices interfaced with cell phones?
Monday, October 29, 2007
"Crossing the Rubicon"
"Alea iacta est "
"Burn the Bridges "
"Break the woks and sink the boats”
"Leave the rope"
"bring the revolver and one bullet"
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"BayCross Cyclocross CoverageOctober 22, 2007 The BayCross cyclocross race was held Saturday in Ashland, WI, at Prentice Park. Scott “Enzo” Chapin took the win in a wet and muddy “A” race. He was followed across the line by Charlie Farrow and Shawn Gort. The “B” race was won by local Curt Cline with Dennis Liphart in 2nd and Rick Geisen in 3rd. The women’s race was won by Beth Reed followed in by Lisa Weispfenning and Suzy Sanders." Note: In the spirit of full disclosure, I am afraid that the brief reference to the results does not mention that apart from the winner, S. Chaplin, the rest of the racers were relative newbies mostly mounted on heavy mountain bikes and thatz why I was able to finish second...But hey ya gotta start somewhere!
(The author crossing over "The River STYX"...photo by Paul Belknap via skinnyski)
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Apart from the writer, Mike Weispfenning and his lovely wife, and Shawn Gort and his whole entourage including two top-notch offspring and lovely wife, and another fellow and wife of whom I met for the first time- all represented Duluth in fine form. Note: It is the author’s sincere hope that next year more Duluthians will make the trip over to support this top notch race, Mike Haag was especially conspicuously missing-in-action :( ... In any event, Mike W’s wife in a fine effort, took second in the B race!!!! The A race was comprised of about 10 to maybe 15 racers? The obvious favorite was the multi-talented Scott Chapin of Hayward who has always been a strong cyclist (and skier & runner), but this has been a “break-out” year for him with most impressive finishes in many races this season. Therefore, the writer’s forlorn strategy was to attempt to shamelessly hug his wheel for as long as possible and hope that he would break a chain or get a flat. Accordingly, after the initial start (which required running to ones bike) I nestled in behind Scott’s wheel and steeled myself for 60 minutes of blatant opportunistic drafting. At my age, there is no such thing as pulling through!…Doing his duty, he pulled me and the rest of the group through the flat field (with the significant headwind) and as the group took the hard right onto the gravel railroad grade, I was still right where I needed to be. Then suddenly just before we were required to take a hard loose-gravel descending right onto some muddy-slick rutted terrain, big old Mike blasts out and takes off, Scott reacted in kind as I did, but I was too slow, so as we headed into the tricky river crossing it was Scott in the lead followed by Mike and then the rest of us including everybody’s buddy and all-around great guy, Aaron Swanson. Although deep and slippery, Scott cruised the crossing with no problem, but Mike of whom I was following closely, hit the water’s edge at a weird angle which sent him cavorting headfirst into a substantial tree. It looked like it hurt something awful (apparently he cracked his helmet he hit it so hard). The crash caused a complete halt to any forward progress. Standing in the river, I looked up and just caught a glimpse of Scott riding away. Mike went on to finish the race, although I’d give his crash a #4+ on the Scotty Johnson Scale of Narley Bike Crashes (SJNBC-see below for explanation of scale). After we all got out of the creek, the race was back on and while Mr. Chapin easily kept the rest of us at bay, increasing his solo lead with every lap, the other top spots were, at least for the next couple of laps, frequently changing hands making for exciting and fun racing. Plus there were lots of spectators cheering everybody on!!! Ultimately, it was a great time for all and at the conclusion the racers and family members were all treated to a plethora of sweet breads, life-giving coffees, brownies, even cheese dogs!!!! This is a wonderful local event!!!!
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Life is what happens while ones waiting for the next big race…Lately, I have been unusually busy, way too busy with work and parenting, etc., but I fear it is just the beginning as my wife’s adventure into graduate school has manifested into less time for me on the bike and even less time on the blog. I love bike racing and I greatly enjoy reflecting in print on past race performances/experiences and yet due to the time constraints resulting from my new role as single-parent, I have simply not had the time…and itz a sad thing, as the last two races in which the writer was involved represent two of the premiere races of the season; namely—The Mega-classic Chequamegan 40 and the potentially “classic” 12 Hour Thunder-Down at the Under-Down. Thus the following is an abridged compilation on my experiences regarding these two highly thrilling endeavors, complete with a short prelude dealing with the term “classic” as applied to cycling events. The idea is to submit to the reader the obvious contrasts between these two late season races and yet at the same time make a compelling case that; while these events are very different, it is these differences that make them classic “can’t miss” events for 2008!!!
Just as obscene language and overt violence are overused in the movies and on TV; the term “classic” is over used as a descriptor for cycling events. And like in all things overused, when the term “classic” is used generically to describe any and all races, then the term looses its effective meaning. Accordingly, in my view, there exists only a handful of real authentic “classics.” Examples of general cycling “Classics” that come immediately to mind include The Paris-Roubaix, The Tour of France, The Trans-Alps, and the Iditabike in Alaska. In my little micro-world of cycling, “Classics” include the Powder Monkey course at Spirit Mountain, The Chequamegan 40, and the MN State Cyclocross Championships. The Ore-to-Shore is on its way to becoming a classic and the course that I raced on at the Thunderdown near Merrill, Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago has the makings to one day claim the title as well. The list goes on, as it would seem from what I have been able to gather that the Trans-Iowa certainly could claim ownership to the title of “classic” in the near future and the Arrowhead 135 is clearly justified in claiming to be a “winter classic.” Ambiguous, subjective, and contextual; it is hard to adequately articulate what a “classic” cycling event encompasses. The obvious attributes include the course, history, depth of challenge, participation, level of competition, etc. Yet, I think the best way to describe a “classic” is to simply observe that the experienced racer (or the knowledgeable racing fan) will know when he or she has participated or witnessed a classical cycling event.
The Fat Tire Festival of which the Chequamegon 40 is the main act is a full on CLASSIC. From the anticipatory hours leading up Saturday’s big XC race to the low key, yet momentary intensity of Sunday’s short criteriums, it’s a showcase for all that is good about mountain bike racing in Wisconsin. The annual epic battles in which the top-notch racers engage provide fertile ground for the annals of legend. When I just spontaneously think of the Chequamegan, I am reminded of a very youthful Harry Anderson’s great effort several years back; of Greg Lemond’s victory by in the late 80s; of Tilford’s great efforts over the years; of the Postal Rider winning [his name escapes me, Jemminson?]; of Brian Narum’s top ten finish several years back; of Bushey’s Kelly frame breaking; of Todd McFadden’s amazing second place finish; of Doug Swanson’s great repeats a couple of races ago, Sara K-J's great victory in 2006; of lining up next to famous mountain bike icons like Ned Overend, Gary Fisher, and now of course Jesse Lalonde’s unprecedented victory this year on a single-speed. Lalonde’s victory was so amazing that I have heard people say crazy things like, “yeah, well on that course, a single speed is an advantage.” In any event, I love the Chequamegan. I cherish the event and even though the course itself is rather mediocre, it’s the extraordinary competition that makes it such a classic. The numbers of talented racers that turn out for this race is outrageous- a minute or two either way can easily mean the difference between a top 20 finish and finishing way back in the 70s or worse. For example, this year I was in 60th place at the half-way point and I knew that if I felt good I could easily make the top 40, but if I faltered (as I did) I could certainly finish way back in the 90s or 100s...Plus the course allows for a full on road race feel coupled with a frantic start, scary high-speed descents, and a set of crippling Birkie “rollers” at the end. Even though it’s only about two hours, it really wipes a guy out. This year, I was completely gassed with about thirty minutes to go. But who cares? In other words, from my perspective this race is all about trying to hang with my biker heroes for the first hour or so. Itz not about really contendin', itz about pretendin'...And this year, I rode along with the Lalonde boyz for a few minutes as the massive peleton crossed Rosie’s Field, for awhile I rode in the same group as Erikson and Fisher, and at about the halfway point I got to see lots of Ski Hut guyz fly by me…And afterwards I got to chill with lots of my biker buddies including Sara & Scotty K-J, Mike Haag, Grady, Jan Rybar, Dave Pramann, Team McFadden, Rosscoe, Harry, Ekimov, Whitey, Mark W, and many others etc…The Fat Tire is as advertised; namely a “festival.” Essentially, the Chequamegan is a “Classic” festival in the true sense of the word; just ask any one of the 2500 participants.
In contrast, two weeks after the Fat Tire, I traveled with Nikolai (with Kate & Ross in tow in another vehicle) over to the sleepy little hamlet of Merrill, Wisconsin to partake in the last of the WEM series; namely, THE THUNDERDOWN @ THE UNDERDOWN. WEM stands for Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series and I am here to bare witness that this series is a real jewel. These WEM guyz know how to build single track, they are not worried about attracting large crowds (which is kinda refreshing), and most importantly they know how to put on a real mountain bike race. I was completely surprised at the amazing single-track that we raced on at the Thunder-down, the first lap was like, "I can't believe how great this is!." It was top-notch, challenging, fast, discriminating, required climbing strength, prejudicial against balanced-challenged riders (like the author), Good technical riders were rewarded, guyz that can ride in tough conditions were supplemented, while fair-weather rider received their deserved punishment. In other words on this course, it aint good enough to be fast on easy stuff and it aint good enough to be a talented techy rider…to really go hard and fast at the Thunder-down, you have to have it all. Itz a lot like Spirit Mountain in that aspect.
Kate’s parents put us up for the night before the event in an authentic log cabin built by her father on beautiful rolling, wooded country just a few miles away from the race course. The hospitality was top-notch, FIVE STARS, and it was a grand time. It is my sincere hope that someday I will be able to return the favor as it was really generous of these fine people and I really enjoyed the time spent at their wonderful home. As stated above, the race venue was just down the road.
Now again, in staying with the theme, this race is not yet a "classic" as it lacks history, etc…But I’m tellin’ you it has all the components to one day become a bonafide classic! All it needs to become a classic race is for the word to get out and for endurance racers to make the commitment. The soloist can choose between three, six or twelve hour tests. Also team brackets are also available. Along with fourteen other “brave soldiers,” Rosscoe, Tim Ek, Nikolai, and the author all signed up for the 12 hour race. In total, there were approximately fifty racers or teams competing. With a 8:00 A.M. start, the day began cloudy and cool, but warmed for a few hours and then the rain started and it rained and rained and rained and the course became harder and harder to negotiate (note:they had to call it when the lighting started; about two hours earlier than the official finish time of 8:00 pm). Itz been a few weeks and with a less than top notch memory I have forgotten most of details…In order of importance, I do remember the following: They had great “free” beer at the conclusion (I think it some kind of pumpkin ale, earthy, spicey, and slighty warm...nectar of the gods for a man who had just spent ten hours+ on a bike), Rosscoe WON, putting it to all of us as he was clearly the best rider, as stated above we had to quit with two laps to go, about 6:00 p.m....so I was bummed, cuz part of me held out the hope that Rosscoe's bike would break (my mantra throughout was "Rosscose bike will break"), Eki was not himself in so much as he was suffering from a bad cold, Nikolai did a great job for his first time out, Kate and Eki’s lovely wife were both a ray of bright sunshine at the conclusion of each lap. Itz was a great race and may be destined for the esteemed title of “classic” in the future. Got to go!!! the offspring is into something!!!! & the cat is screaming bloody murder!!!! & I think the two are somehow related!!!!!!!……..so it goes!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
With just five days out...know that I will be seriously hydrating and embracing the whole rest thing..........I'm an amateur bike racer, but a professional slacker, so the rest/recovery of my training schedule is where I really SHINE!!!!