Monday, April 30, 2007

Build II: A Sense of Urgency...The Race of My Fears is Six Weeks Away!!!

Gallivanting w/ Grotesque Gremlins: Esko Commute via Munger Trail: 3 hours and 19 minutes at a good training pace...I pushed it on some hills, both in the a.m. and in the p.m.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

VICTORY...Ekimov does it!!!!!!!!!!!

Stand by: As of Monday morning, details are still hard to come by...No word yet from the Victorious One...As mentioned below I am working to get an "exclusive, behind-the-scenes, tell-all, unabridged narrative" from The Northland's Conqueror of Iowa
Tim Ek did it...He finished the Trans-Iowa...9th overall [unofficial], according to Grady Larimer...A work in progress, a story that must be told!...Also, I am working on getting an up close & personal "exclusive interview" with Ekimov...stay tuned...more to come tonight or for sure by Monday evening!!!THIS is HUGE...Ek certainly must know that he is a shoe-in to make the LIST for 2007...He must be overjoyed!!!

Fraternizing w/ Feral Fanatics: 180 minutes, tried to go easy, but it was work with the wind...Recovery weeks week itz time to pay the fiddler...
Total for the week was 14.2 hours, all easy time except on Tuesday when I lost my glasses, more later on this...but I wanted to get the Ek story out!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trans-Iowa III: First 100; then 63; then 43; now only 30!!!

Trans-Iowa III...Dramas of Greek Mythological proportions are being played out on the plains of the Heartland...TONIGHT in Iowa!

Take heed! Be warned.... Dear travelers forgo Iowa tonight for the veil of darkness beckons those in the business of evil deception and devilish deal-making. I fear that tonight on the back roads of Iowa under a “bad moon arising” there is trouble a brewing…Tonight there will be wailing and mashing of teeth in Iowa. Unscrupulous deals will transpire next to the fertile soils of Iowa this evening. There will be a “moon-light” special on temptation tonight on the farm roads of Iowa. Family men will bargain away their children tonight on the hinder-lands of Iowa. Promises of never, ever racing again will be loudly proclaimed by once proud stoic men tonight in the corn fields of Iowa. The marquees will read “Night of the Living Dead” at the drive-ins tonight in the quiet rural hamlets of Iowa. Opportunistic demons will earn wind-fall profits, as it’s a sellers market tonight in Iowa farm country. Werewolves in Iowa tonight only! Rationality, composure, and sensibility will be in short supply tonight in remote Iowa. Ambition is a dangerous thing tonight in Iowa. Ego may spell death tonight in the small towns of Iowa. Tonight, the Id rules the roost in Iowa. Men of integrity will betray each other tonight in farm country near Decorah, Iowa. Brave, principled men will sell their souls tonight in the lands south of Minnesota. Strong men, patriots, humanitarians will turn to tyranny, treason, and even treachery tonight in the corn-belt of Iowa. The Children of the Corn will seek vengeance tonight in Iowa. Death and transformation, fear and loathing, duress and compromise all play major roles tonight in Iowa...Will morning come or has the Trans-Iowa become The RACE OF THE DAMNED??? Itz 10:23 P.M. and there is No Word on Mr. Ek............or is it now Mr. Hyde? As you climb into your cozy bed tonight...think of those on the lonely Iowa road...the road to NOWHERE.......May Providence save Tim Ek's soul!!!!! March of the Folly, in Iowa.....tonight! Lock your doors, hug your children, for there's a "bad moon arisin'" in Iowa!!!

Dining w/ Demons: 155 minutes easy ridin'

Friday, April 27, 2007

Live updates on Trans-Iowa go to: or JUST Click here!

Rejoicing in Recovery! While speculating on Tim Ek's misery!!!!!!!!

"It is as reasonable to represent one kind of imprisonment by another, as it is to represent anything that really exists by that which exists not."
Daniel Defoe

Contemplate that quote for awhile!!!

A Caustic Cavort w/ Cannibals: The week of recovery continues with 50 minutes easyridin'

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tim Ek’s Devolution…

Tim Ek’s Devolution…
Part I:
As mentioned earlier, I am embracing this recovery week…a week of renewal, of rejuvenation, of retrospection…Today, I simply strolled for 80 minutes up near Amity Stables, while my little one did her riding lesson…It was very nice. As I ambled along in a measured easy pace, I contemplated the test that awaits those in Iowa. The Trans-Iowa III race starts at 4:00 a.m. Saturday. Daydreaming, my mind wandering...I thought of Tim Ek cutting a deal with the devil. It play’s out something like this:

A frazzled shell of a once proud man, Ek’s 26 hours into it and he is one hurtin’ cowboy…giving a whole new meaning to the phrase, “saddle sore.” His resolve is fading and he is looking frantically for a miracle, for salvation, for respite…His pleas for Divine Intervention apparently falls upon merciless deaf ears. In desperation, he turns to the dark side…more to come, but rest assured, it don’t end well for Mr. Ek!!!! To be continued….

Part II
So…Ek despondently beseeches Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness, for relief, for at least a reprieve from the chapping. Suddenly, as if heaven-sent, his weariness falls away, his cadence quickens, and within five more “easy” hours, miraculously he completes the 322 mile challenge. Upon approaching the finish line…itz unbelievable to him, the joy is complete…He is overcome with pride and a well deserved sense of great accomplishment. Yet, deep within the confines of his soul, he knows something serious went down out there on that lonely gravel road in Iowa, but he doesn’t allow for reflection, he suppresses a sense of impending dread. Instead he revels in the moment!!!!This is HIS MOMENT...

As soon he dismounts, the transformation becomes evident. Inexplicably his gait has changed, there is now a kind of “Texas swagger” to his walk; the strangely uncharacteristic contempt he feels for the environment; his refusal to concede that it’s human’s that are causing the earth to boil comes from he knows not where?; there is a new unsettling urge he feels to hunt down small animals with a big gun. There is an unfamiliar and downright weird yearning to tour a 1950s style coal-burning power plant. He cannot get the bizarre urge to invest his life’s earnings in Haliburton out of his head…

Those that love him embrace him and ask, “Tim, whatz next for you?” Reflexively,yet disconcertedly, [for he cannot stop himself], he calls out “To make all Americans safe from the evil-doers, to promote Texas Style global democracy, to attack Iran, and to bury once and for all The Kyoto Protocols.” So it goes……a cautionary tale for those that seek out "support" when the rules clearly state that "no-support" is allowed...NO SUPPORT!

Beseeching Beelzebub: 80 minutes of easy going...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not much to report...

Not much to report, after all itz my recovery week...I am fired up for my friend, Tim Ek, who is enroute to Decorah, Iowa to make ready for TRANS-IOWA III [T-I3]. T-I3 is a nonstop 322 mile bicycle race that makes a big rectangle in the great state of Iowa and itz all on gravel roads and there aint no support, baby. You want support, buy a jock cuz there aint no support and there aint nobody gonna be out there cheering you on either…It don't mean nothin' one cares...itz sick, but thatz what makes it so OUT-THERE, soo Primodial, sooo Compelling, soooo Adventureous!!! In fact, most of these guyz probably are leaving for this thing with angry wives, unsympathetic bosses, and maladjusted pets. Yeah these guyz are doing it for the love of the unknown and because for some of them…well they are just plain crazy…Apparently Iowa has more gravel roads than any other state in the union. Anyway, I am pumped for him cuz events like the one he is about to tackle clearly apply to what Nietzsche meant by “…if it does not kill you, it will make you stronger.” GOOD LUCK TIM EK…U gonna need it, Cowboy!

Also, we had Student Government Day at school today and it was really fun…I hate to admit it but I am really starting to like the Esko High School Class of 2007...and I fear that I am actually going to miss them. To be honest, I cannot think of one kid that I don’t at least find amusing and the fact of the matter is that it is a group of exceptionally talented, funny, and just real, darn-nice young people. It is one of… if not the most original and amicable group that I have ever had the opportunity to spend time with over the decade or more that I have been teaching. I don’t know what it is about Esko, but it sure seems to create nice kids…I hope a haven't permanently damaged any of them!

ADVOCATING ADVANCED ABSURDITY: An hour and 45 minutes, nice and easy [105 minutes]

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Easy Out…Frantic Return

Tuesday, April 24:
As itz my recovery week, I took off from our cozy little enclave in East Duluth, up the scenic Tischer Creek, where I took a few pics of the little river that runs parallel to our house not more than 400 yards away…continued up the trail and then headed out on Jean Duluth Road. I was wearing my heart-rate monitor so I would purposefully not go above “recovery“ mode…the plan was to ride out for an hour or so and return the same way; all the time with my big old lovin’ heart under 120 bpm. It was a beautiful day in the Northland, I even walked part way up the Tischer trail just cuz it was so gosh darn purty and I did not want the old ticker to have to work at all…just recovery…Did I mention that recovery week is when I really shine on my training? During these seven days [every fourth week], the idea is to keep it real slow and mellow…The idea basically goes something like this: Week Number-One goes hard; Week Number-Two goes harder than Week Number-One; Week Number-Three goes harder than Week Number Two; Week Four is all about rest and recovery…then the Build Phase repeats itself at even a harder pace…and so it goes until the Race Phase starts…With me, given my many glandular problems…it takes a long time to get fit enough to enter Race Phase…Typically, the Race Phase lasts only a few weeks and then itz back to Base and Build Phases. Personally, I usually hit my peak form in about August, but it only lasts for a few minutes, so it is of little practical use :)

So anyway, I am riding out on this beautiful day, taking it easy, spinning along with a favorable wind heading out from town without a care in the world. I get to the 60 minute turn-around point and so I make a big semi-circle and head for home. The wind blows me in the face and then it hits me as my eyes get raked with blowing dust…MY GLASSES!!!! Where are my expensive SMITH sunglasses??? The ones that my wife gave me for Christmas with the warning that I better not lose them!!!! Remembering that I left the glasses at that blasted river, right next to our home that the bank really owns, on the cig-littered trail, where all the strange pet people walk their spiteful anti-biker, spoiled-rotten, little dogs and carry little plastic bags so they can clean up after their dirty little maladjusted evil-tempered dogs, I take off in full-on Time Trial Mode…so much for recovery as I redline my heart rate as I hammer back to the trail, hitting 190 bpm and beyond…luckily the sunglasses remained where I left them…Salvation is mine!!!!!!!!!! Dodged the bullet, cheated fate, beat the odds, the sweetness of salvation…REDEMPTION...oh yeah!!!

Placating the Demons: 115 minutes…with 47 minutes going wide #$%* open!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ski Hut's Monday Night Ride

I was able to make tonight's Monday Night Ride sponsored in part by The Ski Hut...We had about 23 riders tonight. The trails are wet and so riding on them does damage,therefore we rode along the Lester River and beyond...If you are reading this post and you own a mountain bike and you live in the area and if you can maintain a maximum heart of 237 bpm for over thirty-seven minutes, if you are a dues paying member of a local union and if you voted for Ralph Nader sometime in your life and if you protested against school segregation in the 1960s and if you were involved in the Tet Offensive in 1968 and if you were in the stadium when Janet Jackson pulled down her...Just kiddin'! The fact of the matter is that anyone and everyone is welcome...back in the hey-day of these rides, some ten to eight years ago, we used to get over sixty people or more routinely on these rides including several of my students from Esko; please consider coming out and participating in these rides. They take place every Monday from now on until October, usually starting at 6:00 PM. They are easy paced, social events that are geared towards recreational mountain biking, once the trails dry out they will be mostly on the area's outstanding single track. Unfortunately over the course of the last five or so years participation has really dropped off which is a sad state of affairs as these get-togethers are really fun and promote this great sport...I can promise easy riding, lots of laughs, insightful conversation, and overall just darn good companionship...

Satisfying the Serpent: 2 hours and 45 minutes of easy spinning [165 minutes]. Note: the Ski Hut ride was a little less than 2 hours.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Buildin' er up and gettin' er done...

With well over three hours today on my trusty U.S. handmade, albeit obsolete Kelly Knobby X, I had a great week with a total at 15.6 Hours and the best part is that this upcoming week is my "recovery" all my riding has to be MELLOW...Itz about three weeks until the season really gets underway. I fear I am going to have to miss the May 12th Maplelag Race [A great course put on by Jay Richards], so my first real race weekend will be the following weekend with The Cable Classic on Saturday and Erik's Spring Classic on Sunday.

to Brent Smith for an outstanding performance over the weekend in the Trail Mix 50K...the old guy took second place!!! That is most impressive...Top Notch...First-Rate...Plus I love it when the old guyz bring it on!!! FYI: The Duluth area turns out some great runners...While I only run from the law, I find their commitment and abilities to be amazing, these guyz train really HARD. In the back of Brent's mind...he must be thinking that if all goes according to plan and he has a great Grand Ma's Marathon here in Duluth in about six weeks or so...He must be at least considering that there is an outside chance that he could make Honorable Mention on My List of Most Impressive Efforts of 2007!!!

Feeding the Rat: The "build" segment of my first Build Phase went as follows: Week #1: 14.7 hours; Week #2: 15.7 hours; Week #3: 15.6 hours...this upcoming week should be under 12 hours all at easy, recovery pace...then itz on to Build II and the early part of the race season...I have got that crazy 300 miler coming up on June 9th up in Winnipeg...the Weight issue continues to be a limiting factor. I have been diagnosed with a ADHD/Bi-polar/Autistic Gland Disorder for which there is NO CURE!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rest Days are Dangerous

Unexpectedly, the other day I ran into an old friend that I had not seen for a decade or more, we got to talking and catching up on our so-called “lives” and among other topics he asked what I had been up to over the years in terms of sports…I told him that I was still into bike racing, climbing, etc… During the course of the conversation he said to me: “I have known you since before high school and you have always been obsessed with sports. I bet you wouldn’t ride that bike if you couldn’t race it.” Laughing it off, I said something stupid like, “Yeah you’re probably right. But the funny thing is that I have never really been that good at any of the sports in which I have become passionate about.” We moved on to other things and agreed to touch base again in the near future…

Yet, his comment and my response got me to thinking about what it is about bike racing, climbing, or sports in general that I find so compelling. After all none of the sports that I have thrown myself into have brought me fame and fortune. In every phase and facet of my athletic development, I have at best played a supportive role. Perhaps it is because of the simple objectivity of sport. My other passions of which include the raising of a little person and the study of the social sciences, are so nebulous, contrived, and essentially “subjective” that perhaps I seek the concreteness of sports to counteract the complexity of child rearing, and the understanding of history, sociology, political science, and the like…Is it not true that the “self” seeks balance or a state of homeostasis?

Feeding the Rat: Rest day…see what happens when one has too much time…too much time to ponder! :)


The mainstream media…what can ya say about it other than it has become a reactive clumsy superficial pawn of every opportunistic freak show that can wield a Wal-Mart camera and do something __________[fill in the blank]…NOTE: possible answers may NOT include: "news-worthy"

The fact of the matter is that the shooter sent a "media kit" to a major media conglomerate and they did as he knew that would...Just as Bin Laden knew how the media would react to 9/11...To my way of thinking itz called "playing the fool."

Of course, maybe the more important question is: What to do about the "comfortably numb public" that eats it up? [While the Media Moguls consolidate, outsource, marginalize real news and laugh and tell jokes]

Feeding the Rat: 40 minutes on the trainer on a Friday night…”The life of an aging, overweight amateur bike racer...It aint no good life, but itz my life.” Note: Since going public with my weight problem I have gained one pound. I am thinking of really going for it and try to gain as much weight as possible and still be able to ride a 100 miler…then maybe I can get on T.V.!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

True Story!

Itz the Gospel truth… [I am not exactly sure what that means, but the following rendition of yesterday’s events are at least 51% true; a little hyperbole and some minor exaggeration may have been inadvertently added to the storyline due the author’s untreatable affliction with faulty glands and mild dementia]…So I’m riding home after a great day at school; it was one of those days that confirmed my decision many years ago to go into teaching our youth. My efforts had approached what the current education-gurus have coined, “the perfect classroom.” Everything had gone according to plan!!! Of course, I had no students all day as the little monsters were all on a field trip to see some play by some dude named Shakespeare... so I was in a top-notch mood as I hopped on my trusty cross bike [a Kelly original made in the USA and purchased from the nice people at THE SKI HUT], and headed for home via the Munger Trail and beyond. The trail offers a scenic ride that gets me about half way home. Intermittent vistas of Lake Superior and the Saint Louis River delta coupled with beautiful stands of rare hemlock evergreens, aspens, and babbling rocky creeks complete with impressive picturesque waterfalls, it is a wonderful pathway…then suddenly it dumps the rider onto a major thoroughfare. The whole scene changes from a commute with nature to a full-on battle with the notorious raging motorists of West Duluth, once out of West Duluth, one gains the Lake Walk and salvation [aka The Green Zone]. From the Lake Walk it’s a pleasant ride home with only an occasional pedestrian inadvertently forcing a quick defensive move.

With experience under fire, I have grown steely hard over the years, itz no big deal to me as I have become mostly numb to the banter, the occasional pop-can winged at me, even the lit cig and the beer bottle tossed in my direction bothers me not at all. Still, I am always looking to make a spontaneous defensive maneuver, always looking for a place to bail-out if things get really ugly. Itz a war zone in West Duluth, especially as one gets near the theater of operations that encompasses the K-Mart to the M&H gas station corridor. The fastest way home takes me past the main Duluth post office. Itz a busy, complex, congested mess, the perfect locale for insurgents to ambush a novice. A biker needs to be steadfast, resolute, and at-the-ready to make a quick move in this zone…for it is an area that is frequented not only by the temperamental, often explosive postal workers, but also the wily elderly who are often leaving the postal office bitter and somewhat confused. Here the old adage clearly applies: There are bold bikers and there are old bikers, but there are very few old, bold bikers...

My highly evolved, albeit harried brain automatically flagged the white old-school Oldsmobile piloted by the blue/gray haired senior enemy-combatant. She was the perfect foe, the kind of road exterminator that roadies have night-mares about after too many Red Bulls. She had two blood-red finger nails clasped around a long smoking rat…the super slim kind, you know, like a Virginia Slim…she was pulling hard on that cancer stick and looking like Clint Eastwood, cause the sun made her squint, like Clint did in a “Fist Full of Dollars.” In her other hand was a hot pink cell phone. It was up to her ear and she was giving it to some poor old boy…you could just tell that the guy was getting his due and more…In the back of the OLDS was a mangy medium sized hairy dog. It looked mean; it had that kind of wild-eyed look that you see on the dogs wandering about Baghdad.

Anyway, executing a perfect classical flank, she suddenly cut me off heading into the post office…just enough to make me take notice; we both knew that it was just a tactical warning shot, a way for her to show her dominance over the exposed lone biker. I shot her the look of utter disgust, but at the same time I accelerated off towards the traffic light, which turned red just at the last minute. So there I stood as she pulled up next to me. Given her proximity, I knew I had the strategic advantage, so I yelled, “Hey watch where ya going!” She did not look back at me. Instead, she paused, then took a long hard draw off the rat, exhaled a blue smoke in a curling fashion like the way old movie stars use to do, then totally to my surprise, she started lowering the back window on my side…..There was a moment of tenuous silence…a sense of momentary expectation…..And then, the dog jumps up and goes completely berserk, it went crazy, snarling and barking and bearing its teeth, trying to get out the window and attack me with “extreme prejudice”…Initially I jumped back as I was totally off guard. This was a new form of warfare... Regaining my composure, I calculated that the dog was serious, but that he was also somehow tethered, so I took the initiative and started loudly and with dramatic feeling, barking and waving my gloved hands in the face of the dog. The dog increased its fervor, as did I. This went on for a few seconds until the light changed and she instantly peeled out and left me…

The car immediately behind her pulled up to me and an apparently sympathetic female non-combatant called out, “Hey that was crazy! Did you get her license number?” I calmly exclaimed, “No harm done Madam…itz just part of the ride...Itz what I do…the life of the commuter is always intense.” So it goes….. I rode home with a smile on my face…feeling like I had once again cheated the grim reaper, confident that I would live to ride [and fight] again...

Feeding the Rat: 2 hours and 33 minutes [153 minutes]. Riding within the relatively safe Green Zone along Lester River and beyond...strong winds, but I ran into Grady Larimer...a great guy and really fun to talk to during a ride

Where have all the guyz that make bikes gone? Click here to read more...

Wal Mart is the number-one seller of bikes in the United States. And Wal-Mart is the number-one importer of bikes. But here's one last statistic about bicycles: Roughly 98% are now imported from places such as China, Mexico, and Taiwan. Huffy made its last bike in the United States in 1999...Schwinn sold out even it goes...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The morning commute…if I can get myself out the door, it is always a good ride. This morning was exceptional. I had a friendly wind, a beautiful sunrise and I was feeling great. So good was I feeling, that I decided to ride via the Munger Trail all the way to Thomson, (where my buddy Hansi Johnson lives) and then up and out of this beautiful valley to Esko. Total morning ride time was 100 minutes. Plus 30 minutes at Lunch and 105 minutes in the P.M.= 235 minutes on Wednesday...YES!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Caution! Wide Load

Cannot seem to drop the weight...I have tried everything, short of light beer, [and I just don't want it that BAD]...I am starting to think that I have some kind of gland problem...I remember reading somewhere about spiteful, even vindictive glands causing weight gain...Maybe it was Dr. Phil or Oprah, in any event, it was a top-notch credible source...I'll bet anything itz a GLAND out of whack....a depressed gland?...or a bi-polar gland?...What would Lance do???? I have got to stay focused...I cannot let my faulty glands destroy my dreams...No Way, I won't let a bunch of malcontent glands wreck my season...I am sure itz a gland thing, no doubt about it!!!!!!! I am off to make an appointment with an anti-gland specialist...more to come.

Feeding the rat: 90 minutes on Monday...and a nice mellow commute into Esko this morning while treated to a magnificent sunrise [took the long way up along Jay Cooke...1 hour and 24 minutes, plus 30 minutes @ lunch time], 90 minute home commute in the p.m.--total time: 204 minutes for Tuesday...legs feel tired.

Monday, April 16, 2007

It is yet another sad day for the USA

"The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness."
Joseph Conrad

Today’s tragic news of yet another senseless, absurd, shooting rampage at a school ( in this case at Virginia Tech.) got me to thinking about man’s propensity for irrational merciless acts of cruelty and violence. While for me these brutal acts are beyond comprehension and explanation, it is most definitely a moral imperative that we work for peaceful conflict resolution in our daily encounters…Yet at the end of the day, no one is really safe from these random acts of evil, so my advice is to look around and be thankful and tell your kid or your mom, or your girlfriend or...well you get my meaning...tell 'em that you love them…

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Working Draft of Oxbow Race Recap

Oxbow Classic, April 14th, 2007
Race Recap
I made the trip down to Oxbow Park early Saturday morning to get a good long “race-pace” workout in and to see my mom, sister, brother, and his new wife. The alarm went off promptly at 5:00 a.m. but I never find it hard to get up early for a bike race or to go climbing, of course with work of any kind itz a different story. In any event, Crystal, my wife was up as well to study some bio-chem. before our little girl got up and…blah blah blah…sorry, but itz hard to write exciting prose on the subject matter of road racing.

Basically for a guy with my limited ability the typical road race follows a fairly scripted protocol. The pre warm-ups and warm-ups are fun because I get see a lot of really nice and talented guys. For example on Saturday I spoke with the always amicable Doug Swanson, touched base with the legendary Gary Gross, and had a nice conversation with Jeff Colbert, an Arrowhead 135 participant. The start of these road races are usually really casual [nothing like mountain bike races which are frenzied and desperate], essentially everyone rides along at a mellow pace laughing and enjoying the moment. Then, usually about 20 minutes or so into it, some one takes off and the tempo get ratcheted up. There are also teams of riders that are employing team tactics and strategies of which I know nothing… I am usually strong enough to initially hold on and I know that these surges usually only last a few minutes, but after about the third or fourth redline, I most often get dropped. Then itz a solo ride…a lone man dealing with his own “quiet desperation“…Oxbow followed basically the regular routine, with a few notable exceptions.

I got to Oxbow about 75 minutes to race time. With a sense of integrity and honor for all old people, I signed up for the A race, paid my entry fee, and walked around a bit, looking at the various bike set-ups and then went back to the car to get dressed [Note: It appeared to me that the fast guyz were either riding cross bikes with smallish road tires or full-on road bikes, the exception being the Brothers Moore]….It was at that point that I realized that I had forgotten my cycling shorts!!! In a momentary panic, I was able to reach my mom via a borrowed cell phone and she promised to try and reach my brother, but I quickly regained my composure knowing full well that I was most probably going to have to race this bad boy wearing a pair of early 90s-style running sweats that I had pilfered for the Esko School District’s lost & found bin, coupled with a pair of worn Old Navy cotton boxers, so it goes… Worse things have happened to me…several years ago I showed up at a cross-country ski meet with no skis and at the end of the day I had a pretty good effort…This is nothing new, by the way--I remember back in the day leaving a full pack of gear near the summit of Devil’s Tower and not realizing it until back on terra-firma…but thatz another story…

So the race began and followed pretty much the regular routine. The initial burst occurred soon after the big climb…Being in a poor position towards the back to offer any resistance to the inevitable , I took my bitter medicine without struggle and watched as the faster group of about twenty riders left about four or five of us…We, Team Caboose, rode together for the remainder of the event. Luckily these guyz were relatively motivated so we all took turns working the front and thus were able to stay within a few minutes from the lead pack. We also caught and passed several stragglers along the way, one of which was able to rally and join our happy little group. I was wearing a heart rate monitor and on several hard pulls I was able to get the old ticker up to and even above 185 bpm, which is good for me at the start of the season. At the conclusion, I felt like I had gotten a real good work-out and I was pumped. Although I must admit that I was slightly RAW on various sensitive areas due to my propensity to forget things; namely the cycling shorts. No permanent damage was done and a little dab [I mean a lot!] of Desitine Diaper Rash Ointment [with Cod-Liver Oil] and I was good to go on Sunday.

Regarding the real race, apparently, much the same, but at a faster pace, was playing out up ahead with the peleton seemingly content to take short turns pulling and to otherwise enjoy the beautiful day, secure within the slipstream of the pack. Unbeknownst to many [however his team, Grandstay, knew] one guy, Dan Casper, a real nice guy that is a fire fighter down in the Cities, broke early on the first lap and rode solo for the rest of the way. Doug Swanson broke from the pack on the last lap and was able at just the last minute to catch a fatigued Casper…In a generous act, my brother over heard Mr. Swanson ask his teammate Mr. Casper for “permission” to take the win and was granted a positive, albeit weary nod by the steadfast fire fighter. Other notable performances include Ben and Brendan Moore, both of whom rode very fast on mountain Jim Bell, old guy past 40, was right there with the fastest guyz at the end...It was a great first race!!!!

Feeding the Rat: Two hours on Sunday to wrap up a productive week!!! 15.6 Total Hours for the week…Weight is still a "limiting factor."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Not too Bad for an overweight, older fella wearing a pair of lost and found sweats....

I may not have won, or even finished in the top ten, but without question, I had the BEST CHEERING SECTION at Saturday's Oxbow Classic...expect a full race report tomorrow or Monday...Themes I am working on: 1. Itz kinda cool how there is such strength in numbers in road racing...a kind of mutual cooperation develops among the "peleton"...2. It was a blast to get back racing...3. I felt pretty good, but I need to lose some serious weight, and cycling shorts make a difference...4. Where was Dave Pramann? 5. Where was Ski Hut?? 6. I miss Hollywood!!! 7. Roadies are people too... 8. Where was Sam&Eric? 9. They can have their fancy, mortgage-the-farm carbon frames and their hi-tech wheel-sets that cost more than a year at the U of M, I'll stay with my steel Kelly and old XTR hubs and Mavic Open Pros...10. I am glad that I rode the longer race...I needed to burn the cals...[Total time: 50 minute warm-up, plus over 160 minutes on the course--lets call it 220 minutes]

Friday, April 13, 2007

"Music...thatz reason enough for me to believe in God." Kurt Vonnegut

A quick few quotes in honor of one of my favorite writers, Kurt Vonnegut, who died yesterday at the age of 84:

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
Kurt Vonnegut

Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia.
Kurt Vonnegut

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.
Kurt Vonnegut

Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter could be said to remedy anything.
Kurt Vonnegut

We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap.
Kurt Vonnegut

Feeding the Rat: An hour and a half on a glorious day [94 minutes]...rode along the Lake Walk and then down to the end of Park Point. When I got back, I cleaned up my Kelly X-bike and tried to figure out the fastest tire combo for tomorrow's race...I really only have three tires to choose from as I am way tooooooo cheap to go buy tire(s) for a road race primarly on gravel. Last year, the conditions were such as to allow the really fast guys to ride road bikes equipped with regular racing tires, etc. Last year I went with old cyclocross tires, both of which are now completely worn out. This year looks to be similar conditions, but may be a bit softer in some segments of the course...I think I am going with the old bald Michelin Cross-Jet [33] on the back and either the relatively new, albeit very knobby Kenda cross tire [35] on the front or the Stans No-Tube Crow [2.0]. The Crow is considerably heavier because it is way wider [itz made for mtb racing], but I love that tire and itz very fast rolling, and I use these tires on my 29er on almost all the courses around here, Plus the Crow looks pretty cool on the Kelly. A negative for the Kenda is that I am worried that the prominent knobs will pick up gravel. Life is about give and take...I'll wait until I get there and ride around a bit to make my decision....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Age Discrimination Alert!...Where's Al Sharpton?, Where's Jesse Jackson?, Where's the ACLU?

I was checking into this Saturday’s Oxbow Spring Classic, a SE Minnesota gravel road race that is a nice medium for the "twitchy, geeky roadies"* to venture into some of the more relatively technical aspects of bike racing and to co-mingle with the more athletic, albeit laidback mountain bikers and cyclocrosser. I guess I was essentially getting myself all fired up for the first race of the season and in doing so, I see that the "veterans" have been marginalized down to just two laps! While the young bucks go three laps... Whatz with making the old guyz ride such short distances? Is the rationale that as a rider gets older he is only capable of going shorter distances? Only in USA Cycling would such counterintuitive thinking reign…In every other endurance sport, the old guyz are drawn to and encouraged to partake in the longer more hard-core events…The fact of the matter is that as one gets older, one may get a little slower on the sprints and shorter more anerobic races, but one also gains in experience and mental toughness, the two essential ingredients for the long haul. While in all other endurance events from mountaineering to running marathons to ultra-cycling to the Alaskan Classics athletes as they approach their 40s [and even for some, their 50s] they become more competitive as the distances and “hardness-factors” increase. In USA Cycling, the opposite is the trend, once a guy turns 45 years old they start to incrementally decrease the race distances!!!…If anything the old guys should be encouraged to ride further and longer and on harder conditions...I mean with one foot squarely in the grave and the Grim Reaper hiding around every colonoscopy and prostate check I am subjected to on a yearly basis now, I want to go further and further for as long as I am capable. Itz not like I am saving myself for my senior year or for the Olympics!!!!!!!!!! If I am a man, I’ll sign up for the longer race on Saturday…stay tuned…[*A recent Don Imus quote which does not in any shape or form reflect the opinions of this author]

Feeding the Rat: Nearly three hours heading out and past Knife River. It was a glorious day, as I rode along beautiful Lake Superior at an easy pace, I thought about the recent passing of Kurt Vonnegut. His work, Slaughter House Five, is one of the most influencial books I have ever read. Itz a complex subject matter about the fire-bombing of Dressden, Germany in the later dayz of WWII...I read it aloud to my old buddy, Pete Olson, enroute to the start of a long climbing trip out to the Grand Tetons and the Wind Rivers probably over twenty years it goes! Totally zoned on my ride with a big smile on my face, I then contemplated other anti-war books that have greatly moved me over the years... and just off the top of my head I came up with the following: All's Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Marie Remarkque, Johnny Got his Gun by Dalton Trumbo, and the very simple, yet powerful My Brother Sam is Dead by James and Christopher Collier...all these books are TOP NOTCH and all expose the dirty little secret that War is fundamentally about the political elite sending the poor to do itz killing (and/or getting killed) in the name of some abstract notion like "Manifest Destiny" or "the Third Reich" or "______________" [fill in the blank] it goes...[total minutes-173]

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lawyers in Paradise...............

Windy & Cold...But Nice, unless your name is Imus (or McCain) :)

I had an uneventful, albeit nice day; took the tax deduction to the library and then up to the UMD Tweed Art Museum...figured a little "culture" couldn't hurt either one of us, while da wife studied and cussed bio-chem...Re: "Feeding the Rat"--got just over 2 hours in on the bike...It was very windy and cold, I rode up Lester River Road and completed two big loops at under aerobic pace [129 minutes]. The plan for the rest of the week is to train right up to the race on Saturday [the Oxbow Race will be a good indication of where I am with regard to speed], but I am not treating it as an "A" or even "B" race, I am just treating it as a hard/fast workout with other guyz, to be honest I am hoping for "full-on" conditions, but thatz just me...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hombre Chili Ale from THE BURRITO UNION in Duluth...Top Notch--A#1--First Class--five stars....

Just back from our first visit to a brand new Mexican eatery/bar in Duluth, called THE BURRITO UNION itz right down the street from where we live and only about two blocks from THE SKI HUT...Itz five stars in my book, local guyz, local brews [including a great OATMEAL STOUT-good for your colon!], organic locally grown fare...If ya get a chance, check it out. Their Hombre Chili Beer is about as close to heaven on earth a man like myself can ever realistically hope to achieve. The place is owned by the same guyz that own the Brewhouse, including Rod Raymond. Mr. Raymond is one of the most upbeat, fired-up guyz I have ever met. It looks like this new place is an instant success as there were plenty of folks waiting to get in. The Burrito Union is somekind of nebulous reference to THE SOVIET UNION. Get it, THE BURRITO there are lots of Soviet-style references in the menu and Russian-type icons on the walls, etc...I was not quite able to put it all together but there is certainly some serious thought that went into the development of the Soviet/Russian/Mexican "theme." When I figure it out I will let you know...the Chili Hombre Ale distracted me to some extent! But it may very well have something to do with Lenin's undiagnosed stroke, then coma, then subsequent death coupled with Trotsky's untimely death via a Stalin-sent hitman via an ice axe in a burrito/beer joint in Mexico City?...more to come on this important topic!

Re: Training--After an involuntary rest day on Monday, [da wife had to work late...more sick people in the area than the local hospital's can handle...go figure!],I got a good 3 hours+ in today on the snowmobile trail that follows the Lester River. I felt great and it was fun to ride on the frozen trail. I pushed it a few times on the hills, but mostly I just enjoyed the time know like being with like was like so awesome, but apparently there is some rougher weather on the way! So it goes...[Total time 3 hours and 21 minutes]

Monday, April 9, 2007

USA...a bunch of Litter BUGS

The agony of defeat...

Monday...My wife is working all day and off-spring has no school, and I got laid off for the I have time! Time to contemplate...This morning while I, with expert stealth, covertly stole and instantly gobbled up a bunch of those little pinkish bunny rabbits and amazingly delicious chocolate eggs out of my kid's Easter Basket [while she slept just inches away],I thought about my favorite bike racer, Jan Ulrich and about how he has a weight problem, and yet he always seems to do pretty well...I hope to get another big week in with 16 to 18 hours, plus a race effort on Saturday [the Oxbow Classic]...I will have to ride tonight after about 9:00 pm or so...itz tough getting out the door at that time, but one must be strong and resolute...Itz all about honor, doing the right thing, living a moral life, itz about being principled...better sign off, my kid is waking up!

Spring in SE Minnesota...

April 2 to April 8: It was a good week in that I got nearly 15 hours into the metaphorical bank [albeit,two hours less than the stated goal]. It was productive training, even though I went down to Rochester with my little daughter, to partake in the hedonism that plagues our family gatherings on Friday afternoon and did not return to Duluth [and winter] until Sunday evening. Also, while I did not lose any weight per se, I thought hard about losing weight, made specific plans about losing weight, fantazied about losing some serious weight, considered the many wonderful healthy things about losing weight, I even refrained from bullying or beatin' up on or even just making fun of skinny stick-people like tri-geeks and dorky marathoners... Fact is that I probably gained weight,because thinking about losing weight makes a guy really hungry. Plus my mom and dad always put on a great spread, [which this time was capped off by a bottle of 30 year old+ Sakki of uncertain origin...which is a whole different story that involves compromises of integrity which I will not divulge]. Yet in terms of weight loss, I have publically and internally admitted that I have a weight thatz a good thing...A starting point...a reference point...a point from which to gather myself and implement a strategy...a man needs a plan...a plan-of-action. While in Rochester, I did get in a 90 minute ride on the gravel roads that dot the landscape of SE Minnesota. During that ride, which was very windy and cold, I thought about my buddy, Tim Ek, who will in two weeks time embark on the Trans-Iowa race that involves 322 miles on gravel in Iowa. Now that is gonna be a REAL TEST of Tim's manhood!!!!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Quick Post before I am off to Rochester, MN

Got up and got my little Sophie to school and then went for nearly three hours country skiing at Lester River...Banked 170 minutes!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I simply Cannot Focus when on the trainer???

Maybe itz an issue of growing older, but it is the strangest thing... to be honest, I just cannot focus when I ride that damned trainer. Sure it can be boring and one does sweat profusely...and I know I am suppose to drink alot and I try to stay hydrated by drinking and I try to read interesting books about charismatic people, so as to not dwell on the fact that I am going no where...but every time I get on that bloody contraption...I start to get dizzy, even down-right silly...well I did get 87 minutes banked tonight on that darn trainer, aka torture machine...yet even only about 30 minutes or so into this particular training session, I just could not think clearly, not that I routinely think clearly, but still...Oh well maybe I just need to drink more fluids next time...I know I am suppose to really focus on my fluid intake...Could it be that I am drinking the wrong brand? Perhaps I am focusing too much on the quality of the hops at the expense of the barley malts?...especially now that I am a Master-Veteran-Senior Racer, but I am not sure that I can drink much more...any suggestions???? Should I go with a Porter? Training now adays has become so techy...Next fall, when my wife goes to graduate school and I am left to raise the off-spring, I will be spending even more time on that damned trainer, so I will need to have this hydration dilemma figured out...HELP!

Sick Wife + Hyper Kid =No Sleep +Strong Coffee + Angry Parents + Crazy Kids + Surly Boss + Missed Deadlines + Long workouts =

Just kidding!!! I am having a great I have the whole next week off!!! I love my job...teaching is a great life style. Young people are amazingly funny, progressive, and resilient. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by youthful people that still are fired up, living the dream, living a life filled with wonderment and awe…My wife, the nurse, is off to work at least 12 hours tonight in a situation that in many ways is sadly the antithesis of my work world…

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

High Tempo ride on Wednesday...

Got a pretty good workout in today after work, at the expense of my wife's bout with the flu. She was suppose to work the dreaded 12 hour night shift this evening, and I was suppose to take off-spring to swimming lessons, feed off-spring, read to off-spring, feed off-spring's gecko, feed family cat and then get off-spring to bed and then feed myself, then and only then try and motivate myself to get an hour on the trainer...but with my wife calling in sick, I seized upon an opportunity...I got the rest of the "nuclear family" settled in and then I took off for a two hour and seventeen minute ride up to Knife River and back via the scenic old highway. I felt great, felt like I had cheated fate, so I warmed up and then pulled off three 12 minute intervals going pretty hard for this early in the build stage...I give myself two stars [or hammerhead sharks] out of a possible five. For future reference--One star is like; "I am starting to feel this dude." Two stars is like; "Dude, even fast dudes would like start to feel like uncomfortable at this pace." Three stars is like; "Wow Dude, that is a fast pace for like such an old dude." Four stars is like; "Dude that is like way fast!" Five stars is like; "Dude like Jeff Hall would be breathing hard at this pace!" Total "banked time" including a 30 minute jog at school comes to 167 minutes...