Monday, June 25, 2007
Mont du Lac Race Report: "...Like Rocky in Rocky I; Rocky knew there was no way.......no way he could beat Apollo"
Mont du Lac Race Recap from the Caboose…by C.P. Farrow
“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” Herbert Agar
Pop culture in all itz simplification likes to paint Einstein as the quirky wacky absent-minded professor linked to the generic notion that “itz all relative.” Of course, anyone that has taken Freshman Physics 101 can tell ya that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is incredibly complex […I lasted one semester, took my C- and never looked back]. While he was able to prove that things such as the passage of time were indeed “relative.“ Einstein, also paradoxically, believed in a set of absolute truths as well…One being that the annual Mont du Lac mountain bike race concedes no mercy to the weak of mind and feeble of body…
Last Sunday’s race course at Mont du Lac fits well into Einstein’s absolutist camp. Now this is unique in that most off-road race courses today, at least within the 300 mile radius of Duluth, favor the relativist aspect of Einstein‘s work. With a course belonging to the relativist’s camp, one can hide, one can pull off of and even to some degree control the pace of the stronger riders. Essentially ones performance is “relative” to his or her experience, race strategy, luck, equipment choices, etc. With pure bike-handing skill and climbing strength being relegated to just two of the many factors that combine to dictate the way the race ultimately plays out…In a course such as this [Ore-to-Shore is a good example], a less gifted rider has a much better chance to do well “relative” to his innate strengths as an athlete…these are the kinds of courses that give people like the writer a sense of hope. At Mont du Lac, “hope is a dangerous thing.”
Sunday’s race belongs to the former camp, absolutism to the core. A competition based on honest cold-hard facts: At this little family-owned ski resort next to the Saint Louis River community of Fond du Lac, thanks to the hard work of COGGS; men and women, young and old, were afforded the opportunity to face some hard truths regarding their prowess as off-road cyclists. For this writer, the course exploited all of his weaknesses as a bike racer [and as a highly flawed man]; from the initial in-your-face-disgrace-heart-exploding-straight-up-the-ski-hill start to the devilish-constantly-on-the-brakes-with-backside-hanging-off-the-back-of-the-saddle descents to the tight-root-infested-curvy-can’t take your-hands-off-the-handlebars-for-a-microsecond or you‘ll die single-track in-between. There was nowhere for him to hide, nowhere to pray for luck or to illicit shameless drafts or breathers, no big bottlenecks where an old guy can relax and recover, no flat sections or smooth rollers where the big 29er can let‘em roll…
In contrast, for the strong of heart, and certainly for the lean, hungry youthful talented ones this course allowed them to showcase their dominance over the rest of the field. This course lays bare ones abilities [or lack thereof], in that it clearly, as Harry Anderson likes to say, separates the “contenders from the pretenders.”
Happily, there were many of my friends that did contend. Aaron Swanson of Ashland, Wisconsin won the Comp class! Thatz a great accomplishment, especially given the fact that methinks he is the only guy in Ashland that regularly races. Sarah Kylander-Johnson easily won the women’s title. She caught me early on the first lap and let me bear witness to the fact that she was flying. Jesrin Gaier from Hayward, a young man not yet legal to take pleasure and sustenance from the fermented barley nectar and yet with tons of potential took 6th place. Sam&Eric Oftedahl, young men that both ride fast bikes and more importantly respect their elders did outstanding “honest” work finishing 2nd and 7th respectively. My good friend, Scotty Johnson [Sarah’s hubby] did very well in finishing in the 8th spot! Brad Johnson, younger brother of Scotty and son of Irv Johnson not only rode to a 10th place finish, afterwards he rode home...he lives near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis!!! Jay Richards, consummate good-guy from Maplelag finished in 9th… Joel Calahan, my Arrowhead savior, beat my good friend and rival Jan Rybar. This is an impressive effort in my limited, biased world-view as Jan is a top-notch climber. The Russian Rocket, Nikolai, did very well finishing just behind Rybar while Harry Anderson [an elite cyclocrosser and dedicated humanitarian] finished a respectable 17th place. Tim Ek, foremost an enduro-cyclist did very well finishing in the 20th spot. Joe McGraver, Bart Rodberg, and Todd McFadden [Todd's got a back gone bad and a baby on the way] all finished, but I suspect they were not happy. But fear not as all are tough and all three will live to fight another day!!!!
Greg Tischler and I [and one other poor pathetic soul] brought up the rear. I was a hurtin’ cowboy, hurtin‘ real bad…as usual I had found several trees with my name on them, one in particular whacked me real hard in my right drumstick area, in the tradition of Rodney King... “Twas once in the saddle I used to go ridin'… Once in the saddle I used to go gay… First lead to drinkin', and then to card-playing… I'm shot in the breast and I'm dying today…Let six jolly cowboys come carry my coffin… Let six pretty gals come to carry my pall… Throw bunches of roses all over my coffin… Throw roses to deaden the clods as they fall…Oh, beat the drum slowly, and play the fife lowly… And play the dead march as you carry me along… Take me to the green valley and lay the earth o'er me… For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong :)" [lyrics from the classic, Streets of Loredo]…
Anyway as I was humming the Streets of Loredo, Greg caught me on the last lap, just as they was gettin’ ready to ’lay the earth o’er me‘…and Greg’s like, “This is just like in Rocky I!” So I bite and say, “Howz that?” Tischer is a big ole boy, full of muscles, but the kind better suited for bar-room brawlin' than climbing ski hills on a bike on a hot humid summer mid-day, so he was a hurtin’ cowboy just like me, so he aint talkin’ too good, but he gets out, “Rocky knew he couldn’t beat Apollo, he knew there was no way…Rocky figured the very best he could hope for was to just last the 15 rounds, thatz how I am looking at this thing.” It was a CLASSIC observation…An absolute truth...I had to laugh, it was great stuff!!! So it goes for a guy that should know better than to partake in a race of truth where there ain't nowhere to hide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Feeding the Rat: 2 hours and 37 minutes...nice easy ride w/ my sore right quad to keep me company