Friday, October 2, 2009

Thanking Jeremy Kershaw, his beautiful family, and all the other great volunteers!!! The Heck of the North was a resounding success!!!

I felt like I was in the middle of some kind of a senior citizens convention, Farrow kept wanting the group to stop so he could take yet another leak and all of his old cronies in the back row were egging him on telling him to ride up to the front and stop the race and then all these other old guyz were comparing bikes bragging about like ’yeah this bike is from 1976’ and then they were all complaining about having weak bladders and colonoscopies and cancers and bad eyes and sore knees, and bad kids, it was all very strange.” J. Ross Fraboni.

Regardless of the youthful Fraboni’s take on the Heck of the North and while it is true that the peleton was well represented by the elder statesmen of the sport, the race was won fair and square by three youthful albeit delightfully amicable characters. The overall title went to a fine young local family man, Shawn Gort (in an impressive time of 5 hours and 43 minutes) whilst the prestigious title of fastest man on a single speed went to a young unassuming fellow from Madison, Wisconsin named Matt Braun (thatz the same Braun that finished in fourth place, with his brother, at this spring’s 300+ mile Trans-Iowa) and the fastest female of the day went to Kristin Riching. While I did not have the pleasure of meeting Ms. Riching, I heard nothing but great things about her. Letz work to get more women racing next year!

Todd McFadden (Duluth resident and simply one of the best mountain bike racers in the Midwest for the last decade or more) and Tim Andrew (a fine all round athlete from Duluth) followed closely into the finish on Gort’s wheel. The top ten also included Mike Dietzman ( a fast fast rider from Ely and getting faster), David Lugwigson (classic rival of Pramann for decades...think Lance and Ulrich, but not really), Chris Shotz (perennial winner of the Hard-Core WEMS series) , Ross Fraboni (multi-faceted rider—can do it all), Jim Palmer (strong rider from Rochester, that keeps getting faster), and Dave Pramann (thatz the same Pramann that tied for 2nd place with Eki at this spring’s Trans-Iowa—the race by which all other gravel road races are measured and the same Pramann that has ridden the Arrowhead 135 four times and in two record setting times, of which no one has come within four or five hours of touching!!!). So you can see that it was a group of seasoned and very talented riders.

Apart from those mentioned above there are several others that bear mention, as well, for noteworthy performances including; Rich Hendricks who last raced his bicycle in 1986 and yet placed third in the single speed category and is now primed for a go at winter racing. Chris Skogen (of the masterful Almanzo 100) at 210 lbs looked exceptionally strong; Hansi Johnson not far off the front group looked like he had been out for a ride in the park at the finish; while Dean Gies, Mike Weispfenning, Mick Dodds, Matt Evingson and Scott Totten-Hall, all venerable fixtures here in town representing the very best about cycling in Duluth, Minnesota, all finished and all with smiles on their faces. Dave Simmon (good friend of the author, Arrowhead 135, Dirty Kanza 200, and Red Ass 300 finisher), finished well even though he has a new baby to think about. Josh Peterson, (a full on Suffer-Fest professional and stalwart gravel road and mtb racer with a pendent for grave suffering at the annual Arrowhead135) finished well and also was the creator of the wonderful trophies. A special thank you to JOSH PETERSON... And another special kudo to Jason Buffington for his TOP-NOTCH post party...complete with most excellent hand crafted brews....

In all seriousness or as much as I can muster, I do believe that had Old Lady Luck swung a different way on that Saturday both Tim Ek and Jason Buffington would have been right there in the hunt for one of Josh’s elegant trophies…so it goes…."The hinge factor" must never be undervalued, especially in endurance cycling, no one knows where or who old lady Luck will decide to strike…the key is to stay in the game…and to take the good with the bad...and drink lots of good beer no matter how the hinge swings, but I digress.......

The fact of the matter is that if the truth be known the older fellas agreed to sit back and let the youth of the Northland have their day in the sun, but that will not be the case at next year’s Heck of the North!!!!!!!!!!!!
Again many thanks to Jeremy Kershaw...What a great gift you have given to Duluth Cycling...

Disclaimer: If I left anyone out that I personally hang-out with or was especially inaccurate in my descriptions, please forgive me for I have grown old and forgetful, I suffer from a multitude of maladies, my kids have all gone bad and they never call, my eyes are going bad, and I am due for yet another colon check and I can't go for more than fifteen minutes without having to go the bathroom. I've got one foot in the grave and the other has that funky stuff on me toe-nails....On behalf of Rich Hendricks and myself, we would like to personally thank the young fella on the Salsa 29er that saved us on the malicious attack initiated by that Fraboni kid leading into the first ATV/Snowmobile section...the author


  1. To you as well Charlie. It is not without the efforts from gentlemen like you that this gravel road "thing" succeeds. Duluth, no, Minnesota is a better place for the efforts put forth by yourself and all the others that have come out to play in these uber-organic events. Long live gravel road racing and long live fee-free bicycling! Viva!

  2. Dietzman, proudly from Ely...not the Cities. Cringe! Look out for the Ely factor in months to come. Mike just might convert to rock racing!

  3. I fixed the mistake on Dietzman...he is a force and if Skogen could get under out!!!!

  4. Under 200!!! You're crazy. No way! Only if you chop off my head.

  5. Halloween is coming!...That would be a great costume; the headless cyclist!

  6. fucking Fraboni....starts with an attack and then gets lost...