Due to a busy spring with the better half in graduate school coupled with several great races to train for and participate in; I am a bit behind in publishing The LIST OF MOST IMPRESSIVE CYCLING ACCOMPLISHMENTS FOR 2008. Of course, it is every competitive rider’s dream to make THE LIST and thus I apologize as I know the delay has caused great consternation (and in some cases; counseling fees) for those fringe candidates that anticipated that they maybe on the cusp of great renown, and yet in their hearts they know that they are not ready. In an effort to give hope to some, the author of THE LIST notes that there exists a certain degree of bias in favor of the elder statesmen of the sport. In fact, longevity is a positively weighted component of the complex assessment process, so the young should not despair too deeply for their time may well come in later life. Remember also that in order to make the list the rider must have been at an event that the author was privy to in person or at least had some special or intimate knowledge of the “impressive” effort. Usually it is the case that preference goes to those that participate in races that are more involved than riding loops on a ski trail for ninety minutes. Also noteworthy is the elimination from LIST consideration anyone participating in duo-athlons/tri-athlons and any event that is connected with Granny-gear productions. The Board, without official explanation, has simply decided to de-list these “elitist sports” from consideration, citing only “off-the-record” that these endeavors have become too obsessed with all things “carbon.” With their shoddy "credit-card" timing systems and their silly/wimpy name coupled with their outrageous entry fees puts Granny-gear out of the running for any future consideration. Furthermore, in the future the author of THE LIST will de-emphasize any events that are organized under the auspices of USA Cycling, an organization that is severely out of touch with all but a tiny fraction of racers. An addition to this year’s list is a special category for recognizing a few of those visionaries that have been the catalyst for the amazingly compelling grassroots neo-endurance events including, but not confided to, the following: WEMS races, the Arrowhead 135, the Trans-Iowa, the Red Ass 300, Almanzo 100, the Ragnorak 105, the Dirty Kanza, Ore-to-shore, the Great Divide Race, Lance Andre’s Winter Race, etc. Essentially the message being send by the author of The List is— To be seriously considered for placement upon the 2009 LIST one should consider entering one of the above events or itz like, or consistently beat Doug Swanson and/or Jesse Lalonde.
#10. Jan Rybar @ 47 for winning the Over 40 Minnesota Mountain Biking Series. Jan Rybar is a fixture at both the MN Series events and the WORS events as well as a perennial top 40 finisher in the Chequamegon 40. He makes the list cuz hez so strong and such a great climber and he races nearly every weekend and I love his accent. Also Chris Peariso for a most impressive run at the 2008 Chequamegon finishing in the fifth position in a race that each and every year becomes more competitive. Peariso and his wife are two of the nicest people at the races…A fully and indisputably impressive duo!!!
#9. Chris Skogen of the Almanzo 100, Pierre & Cheryl Ostor of the Arrowhead 135, and Guitar Ted & Dave Pals of the Trans-Iowa, all make THE LIST for putting on three amazing events in 2008. These events are all labors of love that afford the essential core elements of adventure/endurance racing. These three events for 2008 were groundbreaking and the great thing is that they are back with 2009 versions. The juxtaposition of their approach and commitment to no-support and self-sufficiency with the mainstream trends of “safe” albeit Rock Concert/NASCAR style events with exorbitant entry&license&trail&camping fees being set by “various corporate productions” (with the apparent blessings of USA Cycling) is stark! The 09 Almanzo 100 and T.I. are already in the books as full-on classics…look for their recent winners to be high on the 2009 List (e.g. Mesier, Ek, Pramann, Shockey, Reints, Tri…). If truth be told exceptionally and authentically impressive group of race directors!!!!
#8. Jesse Lalonde for his performance at the 2008 Wisconsin Single Speed Championships. Again, like Doug Swanson, to not include Lalonde on a list of impressive cycling events would cancel any warranted legitimacy. Case-in-point, Tim Ek and I were fighting our way through the incredible single-track at last summer’s Levis-Trow 100 miler. There is a long winding ascent that even with fresh legs forced the two of us to walk. Suddenly, as if on a motorcycle, Lalonde came by us followed by a rooster tail of dirt!!! It was such an impressive display of power and speed that Eki and I both wept for we had truly witnessed a master at work… Out of this world!!!! Should be higher on The List, but hez too young, genuinely impressive!!!
#7. Charly Tri for winning the 100 mile epic at Levis Trow. When he is on, he is incredibly strong and fast. He was "ON" that day and it was wholly impressive. Eki and I felt like we were riding well and he beat us by nearly eighty minutes! He is probably too young to be on the List, but I know how to spot talent and this kid has talent… Truly impressive!!!
#6. Tim Ek & Daniel Strese @ the Blufflands Epic in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Both of these guyz make the list for battling the awesome climbs and techy single-track of the WEMS bluff course. Due to a screw up with timing and/or lap counting, Ek was led to believe that he was in the lead while Strese was just as surprised as Ek when at post race ceremony it became clear that he has indeed beaten Ek. Really it doesn’t matter as both of these guyz had top-notch, “list-worthy” efforts on that hot and extremely humid day last summer. Collectively certainly most impressive!!!
#5. J. Ross Fraboni for his second consecutive victory at the Thunderdown in the Underdown. This course is the quintessential mountain bike course and Fraboni has mastered it. Itz really a tough course and so the ease with which he has won it over the past two seasons is very impressive… Tremendously impressive!!!
#4. Chris Shotz for winning the overall WEMS title. Chris Shotz looks like the middle-aged social studies teacher that he is, but put him on a mountain bike and give him a long tough challenge and he ends up beating lotz of riders. He has won the WEMS for the last several seasons and is likely to win it again in 2009. He has earned this spot on The List… Exceedingly impressive!!!
#3. Doug Swanson, even though he is a tad young, he will continue to make THE LIST annually for the foreseeable future just because he is the best all around cyclist in the Midwest. The following is his bio as it appears on the Team Grandstay website and I think it sums up what I am trying to convey in a succinct manner: Cat 1 road/cx; Pro mtn and Undisputed team leader; 17 wins (including State Road Race Championship, Ken Woods RR, Tour of Granite Country overall) in ‘08; also set two TT course records in ’08; dipped under the mythical 14 minute barrier at Black Dog for the second time; can manufacture win in any manner; in first and only venture on the velodrome scorched the fastest 3K pursuit seen on the track in many years; despite his freakish abilities is humble and very likeable, someone his teammates are more than happy to work for. Should be higher on The List, but hez too young… Particularly and astonishingly impressive!!!
#2. Dave Pramann, 50+ years of age, winning the Arrowhead 135 in 15 hours and 48 minutes, or two hours and three minutes ahead of a very fast, Joel Cahalan. Pramann holds the record for the Arrowhead and has completed the event twice in under sixteen hours, no one else has come close to Pramann when it comes to the Arrowhead. In 2010 he heads to Alaska for the ultimate in endurance events… Exceptionally Amazing!!!
#1. Scott Cole, veteran of over twenty years of racing, taking fifth place at the United States 24 Hour National Championships held last summer near Wausau, Wisconsin (24 Hours @ 9 Mile). We are talking a deeply talented allotment of racers, including Eatough and rivals. It was simply the most impressive display of endurance riding that the author has ever witnessed by a local old guy with two little kids and a full time job. Outstandingly Amazing Effort…Fantastically impressive!
Quite simply: The most impressive thing I witnessed in 2008!!!!