Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Initial disappointment leads the author to a deeper appreciation for both is cycling mediocrity and the value of friendship...

Read on to feast your eyes upon one of the longest run-on sentences in cycling race recap history…

Chequamegon 40 Race Recap
Moments after completing my anemic attempt at the Chequamegon 40, upon hearing the news that world class cyclo-crosser Jonathan Page had won over a determined chase group including the venerable Jeff Hall and several other revered “greats” including Doug Swanson, Chris Peariso, Mike Phillips, Travis Woodruff and the ageless Jim Bell and Blair Saunders, I initially wept with joy but alas the tears eventually became bittersweet as I knew my dayz in the sun were now clearly over and that the time was ripe for me to stand aside and let the promise and expectation of youthful zeal and talent obscure and perhaps even erase my past cycling accomplishments; it was time to pass the metaphorical torch to the next generation of elite cyclists. Like those before me (Lemond, Merckx, Moser immediately come to mind), I knew that the time had come for me to join the ranks of the vanishing and forgotten historic athlete (where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?)...to fade away, never more to grace the lofty podium; resigned to become just another footnote in cycling lore...

Then in a wondrous spontaneous albeit epiphanous and liberating moment it occurred to me that I have NEVER EVER even been remotely close to a podium finish and that I have NEVER EVER spent anytime “in the sun. ” Furthermore it was pure fantasy to believe that I ever, even in my youth, had a chance of riding with those kinds of fast guyz. Reflecting even further jolted me to that fact that I enjoy absolutely NO record of worthwhile or notable cycling accomplishments. Suddenly the clouds parted as these simple realizations of my mediocrity provided great comfort to me. I felt free! I felt unbridled, unrestrained, unhinged, and powerfully thirsty. The pressure was off, as I was not at all like the greats of old or new; I was never great and would never be great. Tremendously relieved, I immediately went in search of the recuperative life-giving fermented barley elixir of antiquity.

The gracious and always amicable Mike Haag and his lovely wife Michelle found me wandering aimlessly around the crowded and lively Telemark venue, (both of whom turned in very impressive performances at the Chequamegon; Michelle finished just out of the money in 11th place, while Mike rode his single-speed to a very high finish, just a few minutes out of a top spot). They took pity upon my peasant soul and against their better judgment persuaded me to refrain from riding my wizened Kelly Knobby X forty miles back to Hayward (and my car and ultimately Duluth) and to instead ride back with them a short distance to Seeley on the backcountry gravel roads to their idyllic and beautifully crafted “cabin” in the woods for a full-on chili and beer post-race social extravaganza. Although it was a difficult choice given that I am a committed and highly conditioned athlete, I am not a complete fool, so I opted for the cold beer, the spicy delicious chili, the hot shower, and the wonderful ambiance and warmth of friends. Their magical abode in the Northwoods is a testament to the amazing skill and practical creativity of Mike Haag, who built the unique structure completely on his own. Before long, having adjusted well to their great hospitality, I dug in near the warmth of the wood stove and simply relished in all the great conversation and lively recaps of the classic Chequamegon. Chris White and Lindsay were there as was Chris Peariso and his lovely wife, Todd and Diane McFadden, Mike Phillips, and several other great folks. It was a blast to hear of the battles in the front as both Chris Peariso and Mike Phillips were in the thick of it ‘til the bitter end.

Itz funny how things play out…Many thanks to Mike and Michelle for such a great time…

Feeding the rat: I am not going to ride my bike for at least the next three dayz. I need to rest up for the Underdown and the Thunderdown in two weeks...plus the 'cross season is not far off...

ps I know Blair Saunders as he is the amazingly talented guy that drug me across southern Ontario two years ago during the Red Ass 300...


  1. Dear Charlie:
    I came home stressed and tired and proceeded to experience an Asthma attack of category 4. While battling my asthma with inhaler, hot tea, cold ice water to relieve the swelling and a pot of hot boiling water with eucalyptus I made the evil asphixation go away. I am still weezing but content to be able to read your recap of the race. No matter if you win or lose the most important part is being able to be there and being able to ride with those great offroad people. As I recuperate in the next days I will again mount my trusted ferrous friend and enjoy some riding. I hope you publish your blog one day,
    from Sycamore, IL.

  2. Charlie,

    Enjoyable recap as always. I thought I would let you know that I got snubbed 3 times yesterday on my way home. Apparently we live a numbingly dreary era where the ability to return a greeting is too arduous a task to bear.

    Adam Sundberg

  3. Ferris Bueller,

    You're STILL my hero!