Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Good luck to all the racers at this upcoming Arrowhead 135!!!

Dear Friends, Sponsors, Supporters, Colleagues, Teammates, Rivals, Detractors, Debtors:

It is with bittersweet, conflicting emotions that I submit to you this heartfelt public communiqué. The fact of the matter is that I will not be competing in the Arrowhead 135 this coming Monday for I have decided that I need to spend more time with my family. This decision represents hours of serious consults and heart searching, thus my decision is final and irrevocable. After having consulted my pastor, my rabbi, my yogi, my astrologer, my medicinal marijuana distributor, and my personal team of pharmacists, I have come to the realization that I am needed here at home. At home where my family, those of whom acknowledge me as their relative, need me to be here in old Duluth from here on out ‘til the end of my dayz…We plan to wile away the time playing monopoly, building model airplanes, watching The View and Dr. Phil, and enjoying old Alfred Hitchcock films in the evenings for the rest of my short time left here on earth. These fine people, my family, have assured me that I will be able to stay home for as long as my faculties remain reasonably intact, I am able to dress myself, and submit a monthly paycheck. I know that the love in their hearts supersedes the legal documents that I was compelled to sign in the presence of their attorney…

Of course there will be the inevitable critics that will add speculative fire to the rumors that I am bailing from this Arrowhead because of the very real possibility that I will get destroyed by the breath and depth of the competition. There are others that will claim that I am staying home because I have grown fat, unwieldy, and thus incapable of piloting my cumbersome clown-bike. Then there will be those that promote the vicious rumors of divisiveness and even schism within the very core of the DBD.

Let me assure you that all of these rumors are unfounded and I wish all the best to the hundred-plus competitors at this upcoming Arrowhead…

I will be watching from the comfort of my humble abode surrounded by those that love me so dearly and unconditionally.

Obsequiously and with love in my heart,


Friday, January 22, 2010

The Arrowhead 135: A “How to Win” Guide for the aging, slightly confused, and under-trained cyclist.

Part II: During the actual event:

Disclaimer: The following tactical suggestions will only work if the veteran cyclist has followed all of the recommendations stipulated in Part I (the pre-race section).

• Number #1 rule—Cheat at every opportunity. You are old and feeble and the rest of them are young enough (or fit enough) to be your sons…So cheat!!! Itz your only chance…plus the pros (and the Wall Streeters) all cheat!!!!
• Number #2 rule—Never, ever lead out, but also never lose contact with the lead group. Do what ever it takes to slow the pace of the lead pack.
• Number #3 rule: Every twenty to thirty minutes scream at the top of your lungs, “Pierre Pierre, Tous les autres trichent!!!”
• Number #4 rule: Make sure to have laid the groundwork (including slurred speech, erratic behaviors, and jerky hand and leg gestures) during the pre-race warm-up. You want the youthful ones well aware of your advanced age and propensity for dementia. That way you cannot be held liable for any transgressions. Have a fake memo affixed to your lapel that sez something like, “If lost, please return to Duluth, MN.”
• Number #5 rule: At the start area accidentally “stumble” onto the spokes of one of the favorite’s rear wheel.
• Number #6 rule: Once the gun goes off; Shamelessly pull off the leaders...try for about fourth position and don’t move.
• Number #7 rule: Early on feign heart attack to slow pace of the group and swerve into a top rider, try for the spokes of his bike.
• Number #8 rule: About ninety minutes into it, feign stroke to slow pace of the group. Again try to hit a top rider’s spokes.
• Number #9 rule: Encourage any and all misunderstandings/rumors regarding route finding. If leaders take wrong turn, feign diverticulitis and let them ride on without you. Wait for first chase group and ride in fourth position. Do not lead, only draft.
• Number #10 rule: Continue to reassure the non-snow bike community that the trail will hardened up and greatly improve at any minute…
• Number #11 rule: Two hours into it, feign snow-blindness to slow pace of the group.
• Number #12 rule: Continually and publicly promote the notion that Andre’s fancy-pants Ti Clown-bike has a crack in the BB weld.
• Number #13 rule: Cry crocodile tears when trail turns to mash potatoes and the non-snow bike community implodes and degenerates into violent anarchy. Ravage and/or loot any useful supplies from this doomed community.
• Number #14 rule: Three hours into it, feign incontinence to slow pace of group.
• Number #15 rule: Steal rear red-blinkers from Pramann’s bike at a tactically appropriate moment. Try to do so before the first check-in at the Gateway store.
• Number #16 rule: If #15 is successful, at the Gateway check-in demand Pramann’s disqualification due to lack of adequate rear blinker on bike; a clear violation of race rules. Bring AH Rule Book to bolster your argument for DQ.
• Number #17 rule: Feign severe depression to group over Pramann’s disqualification, try to slow pace by swerving into leader’s spokes.
• Number #18 rule: If number #15 rule fails, attempt at half-way cabin check-in. Note: Attempt to steal all lights from rival's bikes while others are in the half-way cabin.
• Number #19 rule: Attempt to get group to pause and dismount in a minute of reverence for the fallen Pramann. While rivals’ heads are bowed attempt to dismantle/sabotage lead rider’s rear derailleur.
• Number #20 rule: Apply frequently for divine intervention. Pray for others to experience catastrophic equipment failures.
• Number #21 rule: Attempt to confuse Lindsay at every opportunity.
• Number #22 rule: Frequently, after the half-way point, feign concern over rivals’ frost bit facial features. “Dear Sir, your nose is ghastly white…I fear that you are in the advanced stages of frost bite. Is continuing worth permanent mutilation and disfigurement?”
• Number #23 rule: Reinforce the idea that the wolf packs seek out and attack fast moving solo riders. Encourage bivouac at Tee Pee.
• Number #24 rule: At the finish line within ear-shot of the throngs of fans, scream with all your might, “Pierre Pierre, Tous les autres trichent!!!”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to WIN at the Arrowhead 135

Back by popular demand with new and improved tips that will make your Arrowhead 135 experience one that you shall never, ever forget…

Arrowhead 135 to-do list (Part I): Pre-race considerations-

Plan out hairdo. Experiment with cut, style, and color but without commitment. Commit two weeks out to allow for mellowing of color (be careful of too much gray cover-up).
Practice with meaning, conviction, and desperation: “Pierre, je me gèle!”
Bikini wax. It hurts but itz worth it...
Consider lumbar and endoscopic thoracic sympathectomies (cuts down on sweaty feet and hands resulting in warmer appendages). Check for good deals; what with it being the Great Depression and all…cosmetic docs will work with you…
Suck up to the snowmobile volunteers at pre-race meeting. Offer whiskey and cigs, bring the cheap generic stuff...
Have remaining toes, pinkies, and privates removed (remember to insulate catheter)
Order boutonnieres for Cheryl, Pierre, and the Gear Nazi.
Bring extra duct tape and hits of Sudafed.
Wear extra extra large Carhartt Men’s Extremes® Coverall / Arctic Quilt-Lined bibs, sure they weigh a little more than those skippy fancy-pants that the posers all buy “online” from Craft, but these bad boyz hold up no matter what the conditions. For real men only.
Check with Lance Andre (not Armstrong) about the reliability and price of The Original Whizzinator.
Attend support group for cyclists repeatedly beaten by Dave Praman.
Attend support group for those that survived a stay in the Tee pee.
For the camelbak, add one shot of quality Irish whiskey to each liter of water (make that two shots of quality Irish whiskey added to each pint of water).
Bring salty wieners and sour-kraut for a shot at Gear Nazi appeasement.
Shave legs, pluck eye brows, have upper lip waxed. Pluck hair from back mole. Clip ear and nose hair.
Make sure all major sponsor logos are prominently displayed during pre and post race press conferences.
Have breath-fresheners at the ready during the awards ceremony for when the beautiful podium girls divvy out the kisses…
Load up on E.P.O. and that stuff that Mennonite guy used to win the Tour a few years back...
Ask for drug testing of top runner and skier as it calls attention away from the bikers. Plant a few hits of EPO in Maxwell's ski bag.
Make hair, nails, and makeup appointments (ask for discount on nails as few nails remain on hands and none on feet). Go with a bright, cheerful color.
If Blue Shield/Blue Cross will pay for it, go for the removal of all that heavy gray matter except the primitive or instinctual part of the brain. The amygdala, the primitive part of the brain, responsible for gut reactions, including fear and aggressive behaviors, versus areas like the frontal cortex, which develops later and helps us control our emotions and cognition. So get rid of all of it ‘cept that amygdala thingy, saves weight and makes the race seems “normal.” Check around for the best deal.
Whiten remaining teeth for that perfect Arrowhead smile. Bring ample breath-fresheners on-trail in case of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Repeat practice with meaning, conviction, and desperation: “Pierre, je me gèle!”
Check on cost of quick “tummy tuck” (abdominoplasty), again maybe cheaper than ya think. Go with the psuedo-testosterone injections or try for new patch...take double the recommended dose...
Add a smidgen of vodka to the hammer gel flask (make that— add a smidge of hammer gel to the vodka flask).
Go tanning, no lines…
Practice victory celebration, stay conservative and yet convey jubilation. Practice snubbing the boyz from Rochester.
Start vicious and scandalous rumors about both Dave Gray’s and Dave Praman’s past. The juicier the better, try to include accusations involving public restrooms at the Minneapolis airport and/or association with terrorists.
Start vicious and scandalous rumors about the Alaskans…use the word “jihadists.” Start rumors about Terry Brannick and how he has never been photographed with Bernie Madoff.
Pick up prom dress. Go ahead and try it on! Go provocative, yet with highlights of enigmatic innocence. Show a little skin…especially at the pre-race festivities. You may need to get alterations so be prepared to spend a little cash for that perfect fit.
Arrive to the pre-race meeting in style and make everyone (especially those goofy runners) green with envy. Treat rivals with feigned sincerity. Make a big deal about Lance’s Ti machine, etc.
Suck up to the Alaskans, especially the veteran Oatkley. Comment on his obvious intellect. Attempt to confuse the younger Bassinger...give false information about starting time, etc. Hide Gauld's false teeth. Hide Pramann's meds.
Don’t forget to practice with meaning, conviction, and desperation: “Pierre, je me gèle!”
Use only high-end Scandinavian sounding brand-name clothing during interactions with rivals, but when race starts be clad in full-on Carhartt
Bring birth control.
Practice North Dakota dialect, things like “you betcha.”
Adjust living will to donate any important frozen organs or limbs to the Cryogenics department at the University of Minnesota. Have wife insist on a plaque in return.
Under no circumstances…repeat…Do not agree to drug testing.
Practice poise, modesty, and humility in victory.
Remember to hold bicycle over head in victory, stay calm as podium girls kiss cheek.
Bring Cheryl and Pierre day-old baguettes from Great Harvest (day-olds are cheap and they will never know the difference).
Practice bitterness, excuse-making, and victimization in defeat. Retain Lawyer in the event of defeat.
Blame defeat on equipment and the race organizers and dopers.

Stay tuned to Part II...During the race....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A dress rehearsal in anticipation of this winter season's GRAND BALL!!!

“We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation. As for Andy - he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer.” Red

Jason Buffington and I embarked on a full-on "dress rehearsal" in preparation for the Big Dance (less than two weeks away) on Saturday night thru Sunday morning. Perhaps a bit lost, unexpectedly we came upon a parcel of unexplored terra-firma in the form of an alder swamp west-southeast of old Duluth during the early morning hours of last Sunday (1/17/2010). I claimed with solemn dignity, Jason Buffington as my witness, that henceforth and forever more these immediate lands shall be under the sovereign dominion of the DBD. As I made the proclamation a solitary tear of pride leaked upon my stalwart cheek. Thankfully Buffington did not notice...We then took our repose for a few hours while enjoying with majestic relish an artfully crafted ale brewed by the good doctor that tasted to the author like nectar of the gods. We chased the magical fermented barley elixir with a shot of aged Colorado whiskey and buoyed our resolve by ingesting numerous hot dogs of the finest quality, grilled over a wonderful fire (again thanks to Buffington's tenacity for the wood was wet and at that point the author only wanted to drink)... And we felt like free men...We were the lords of all creation...
Arrowhead 135 here we come!!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2009 in retrospect.....

In a shameless effort to copy recent reflective efforts by my intellectually superior training cohorts, namely Buffington and Kershaw, I am submitting an off-the-cuff (without looking back at race notes) retrospective on what I consider to be personal highlights from the last year in terms of my so-called cycling exploits.

My 2009 cycling season was personally structured around three big events that were spaced nicely apart from each other in approximately three to four month time spans. The Arrowhead 135 in early February, the Trans-Iowa in early May, and the 24 Hours @ Seven Oaks in September with my performance goal being to achieve top three finishes in these top three events while supplementing these peak efforts with five or six other races including the Ragnarok 105, the Almanzo 100, the Heck of the North, and four 12 Hour WEMS races. I met that goal in two of the three events while failing miserably in the T.I.

The Arrowhead 135 after three previous full-on epics including a thirty-six hour descent into frozen hell a couple years back, this time, to be honest, was rather uneventful. Essentially, the 2009 AH 135's version, for me, came off without a hitch. Sure there was the leaking bottle that drenched my manhood early on and the brief time spent in Lucifer’s Teepee near the end, but all-in-all it went pretty smooth. The weather was not an issue, course conditions were not perfect, but doable, and my gear all pretty much worked as advertised. Pulling off a second place finish was more about Pramann & Andre’s collapse at “the Teepee from Hell” than personal skill. Conclusion: I dare say that I have figured out how to be relatively competitive in the Arrowhead. Yet, this year’s race, less than three weeks out, is going to be the most competitive ever with the usual suspects vying for the top spots complimented by several Northern Stars from Alaska and two from the western states, so my experience as a four time finisher may not be enough…but even so, as I write this I am “race-ready”, so I am planning to earn a top three finish or at least give up the ship trying… In the future regarding this unique and grass-roots event, I want to ski the Arrowhead sometime and more importantly, I also want to do the race and then ride my Puglsey home from the finish line via snowmobile, I mean "multi-use" trails... :)

The Ragnarok 105: Eki and I had a good plan-of-attack going in and it was bolstered by Pramann’s early season beer-gut and Meiser’s decision to use the hilly course as a dress rehearsal for his Great Divide effort (complete with a fully loaded Fargo). But alas, Eki flatted (rear wheel) in the wake of a lead group surge essentially killing our plan to attack as we headed into the half-way checkpoint. I tried to make something happen alone at the checkpoint, breaking hard right out of the box. Charly Tri, the young and very powerful Rochester rider, was the only one that responded. For the author, this was both a good thing and a bad thing for Tri was the spark that sent us forward and allowed us to break free, but with about twenty miles to go, he simply rode away from me. Conclusion: Second place in the second race of the season! Not bad for an old man…but really the ‘rag’ was just a pre-ride for the Trans-Iowa…

As far as pure endurance cycling goes, you know, like in turning over the pedals for hours and hours and hours on end, the 2009 Trans-Iowa really really hurt me like no other cycling event has in my long and undistinguished career. The early break right after the initial forty mile checkpoint involving Mesier, Eki, Pramann, and myself was unrelenting and ultimately torched me. A rational explanation of my performance at the 2009 T.I. requires the facing of a hard truth which is simple and incontestable—the lead group’s pace nearly killed me. I tried to make light of this hard to reconcile “truth” in my post-race public narrative citing my “nap in the cemetery” in a humorous tone, but to be frank the advent of my initial collapse some 180 miles into it (and subsequent struggle to finish within the race's time constraint) represented the culmination of several hours of ‘other worldly’ physical and mental distress. In other words, I found myself in a wholly new and perplexing level of physical and psychological reduction when the front runners mercifully left me on that lone gravel road. Exhausted, played out, done-in, wasted; for the first time ever in my life I was too tired to go on. As they rode away from me, I was paralyzed. I don't mean that I "felt" paralyzed, I was unable to go, like in the term, "incapacitated." I was there on that spot for a good fifteen minutes, got up, and then laid down again...this went on for several hours where ultimately I crashed out in the cemetery. It is true that I was sick in that I violently threw-up a bunch of times and experienced severe heart-burn, but the sickness clearly came from being so tired and not vice-versa. Mind you, I was not hurt or even cramping up, I wasn’t dehydrated, or low on calories, I was just too tired to continue on…like the guy that one reads about that is too exhausted to walk down to his high camp after topping out on an 8000 meter summit. Instead he only seeks rest even though he knows that it will mean the end. Conclusion: I admit that the ’09 T.I. scared me and shook my confidence. Yet it has also had the effect of compelling me to prepare myself so as to prove able to hang with the front runners in the 2010 Trans Iowa (and to relish each and every Bell's Kalamazoo Stout that I ingest for the rest of my dayz). I am training harder than before this happened...Another good thing is that I learned that with a few hours of rest, I was able to continue and finish the 320+ miles unfazed and with the love of the sport untarnished. My hope is that last year’s performance was just the result of a down day and that I still have a few "competitive" Trans Iowa’s left in me …To be honest, I will not be happy unless I finish in the top five come this last weekend of April.

In my little world, unlike racing in the Arrowhead and the Trans-Iowa which both necessitate working within and relying upon group efforts in order for me to competitive, the 24 Hours @ Seven Oaks (like all 24 hour mountain bike races that I have competed in), is much more of a personal vision quest seeking clarity through solo adversity and hoping that the others will fall apart during the long long night. The 24 @ Seven Oaks is a great event that is a “racers race” put on by Iowan guyz that love endurance racing and are committed to giving back to the sport. This race went really well for me and confirmed my belief that these things are all about waging a war of attrition. During the initial six hour stage of the race, I was way back. Halfway, I was up to fourth or fifth. With six hours to go I was firmly in the second spot!!! So it goes… I plan to do another 24 hour event next summer and this one in Iowa is tops on my list.

As stated above, this is a spontaneous retrospective on what personally comes to mind when I think back on the highlights of my 2009 cycling season. WEMS’ Metro-Challenge, Levis 100 miler, and La Crosse all have found their way into my clouded long-term memory but only in vague, albeit pleasant overtones. I remember the loveliness that is the Levis experience including great camping, lots of friends, and amazing course. The Metro conjures a silly vision of traveling with Eki in his fancy pants hybrid car, while La Crosse forces me to smile when I think back on Kershaw’s inaugural 12 hour event, Eki’s near collapse, and Schotz domination. The Almanzo 100 and the Heck of the North bring forth memories of great friends, lotz of laughs, fun pack riding...and thatz about as good as it it goes...

Looking ahead to 2010 and beyond: I want to extend my reach into the realm of “over the hills and far away ” on a bicycle. The Great Divide, the Alaskan Invitational, and the Dirty Kanza are all on my near future “Wish List” for racing. I am hoping for the return of the RED ASS 300 in Winipeg and maybe an opportunity to race a NUE event during the summer months. Closer to home, this summer I want to further my exploration of the potential for linking the North Shore trail with the Arrowhead Trail via Ely while mounted upon my Swamp-Pugsley. So much to do and so little time….

Friday, January 1, 2010

This so HUGE FOR YOU!!! That is if YOU made THE LIST...If you did not make THE LIST, I am sooooooooo sorry for you!!!!

Charlie’s Top 10 Amateur List-of-Honor, celebrating the Most Impressive Cycling-related Events of 2009…The List by which a cyclist’s career is defined… The List for which many live, languish, and even die to obtain recognition on... BRAVO to those that have achieved this noble recognition…These righteous persons listed below now take their place amongst the greats of cycling lore...
…[Disclaimer: To qualify for inclusion onto this most impressive TOP TEN listing, the accomplishment had to have been personally witnessed by the List-maker. This of course makes the list extremely biased, narrowly focused, and marginalized to constitute only the microcosm that encompasses the writer‘s SMALLISH world view of bicycle racing…The list, therefore, is evolutionary and thus reflects the author’s concerted personal effort to move to long endurance events and away from racing in mass-marketed events that require venues to be marginalized and de-challenged in an effort to maximize participation numbers with the goal being to optimize profits. The list also reflects the author's propensity to reward the elder statesmen of the cycling world, people under the age of forty shall have to REALLY impress to make this list. In order to offer hope and a bit of solace to the young, the misguided, albeit talented racer that has not yet seen the fruits of forgoing these “pop-cultural, mass-marketed” generic events in favor of the nobler events from which the below honored have been chosen, the List-maker does offer recognition of a couple of major outstanding achievements within this less than lofty realm that were too noteworthy and impressive to ignore, but not witnessed per se by the author, in a Honorable Mention category. It is the List-makers hope that those listed in this second-tier category shall see the light and thus position themselves to compete for a spot on the 2010 List-of-Honor. Also in order to achieve this great honor, one must be a committed amateur cyclist, so anyone purporting to be a professional is automatically not considered. Furthermore anyone that used a preponderance of carbon in the form of components and/or frame is de-elevated in the author’s calculation. Finally, pure roadies and/or triathletes are not considered.]

Charlie Farrow’s Highly Anticipated List of Amazing and Great Amateur Cycling Accomplishments of 2009: [The ordering of The List is as follows--#1 being the MOST Very Impressive and worthy of DBD recognition…while #10 connotes an effort that stirred Mallory’s loin area and thus caused him to exclaim, “Bully! Who is this Man? For I'd like to buy him a whiskey!”]

Honorable Mention category: Ben Koenig of Schofield, Wisconsin takes third in the so-called 24 Hour National Championships held in Moab, Utah. This 21 year old kid had an amazing year and is a full-on talent…Of course, the practice of compelling participants into paying the loathsome, outrageous, far-reaching, and multifaceted financial fees (ranging from camping fees, pit fees, to licensing fees, etc., etc.) that are now associated with the “nationally franchised for-profit” 24 Hour events, has caused these types of opportunistic events to NOT be considered by the author for they represent a “cancer” upon our sport…But given Koenig’s age and seemingly lack of professional full sponsorship, the List Maker made a concession in his particular situation. Also, Dave Harris' effort at Moab in the single speed class was most impressive as was the 18 laps turned out by two incredibly talented single-speeders, Ron Stawicki and Paddy Humeny at the 24 Hours @ 9 Mile. The four mentioned above are all incredibly talented cyclists...and thus the author could not in good faith leave them of this year's List...

#10: Local racers win local races: Scotty Kylander-Johnson, Sean Gort, and Todd McFadden. Scotty for winning in very impressive style the challenging Lincoln Park MTB race and to both Sean and Todd for winning the Heck of the North. All three are great talents and committed stewards of local cycling...

#9: Lindsay Gauld for his fourth place finish at the 2009 Arrowhead 135. It was his first effort at the AH 135 and yet he still was right there in the thick of it, so impressive! Lindsay Gauld is the “Thomas Jefferson or George Washington” of a thriving cycling community up in the Winnipeg area. Mr. Gauld was in the 1972 Olympics in cycling and now at 60+ years of age is still a force to be reckoned with…and an inspiration to all finely aged cyclists…

#8: Inaugural Race Creators Jeremy Kershaw and Tim Roe earn spots on The List for their efforts to provide both unique and top-notch racing opportunities for the discerning cyclist. These guyz (and other visionaries) are the ones that make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy local grass-roots racing. Kershaw put together The Heck-of-the-North 100 mile extravaganza this year and it was a resounding success. The course is a work of art and the organization of the race was flawless. Tim Roe created the Tuscobia Ultra and it too was a great inaugural event. Mr. Roe’s novel approach of transporting the racers from the finish to the start via school bus was the act of a genius! I personally know that Kershaw contributed a significant amount of his valuable time and money to putting on the Heck of the North and the fact that the race enjoyed an overflowing roster is a testament to his brilliance as a course setter and race director/promoter. Tim's work also enjoyed wide spread participation. The author would like to this opportunity to encourage Mr. Roe to pursue his dream of a 200 mile category for the next Tuscobia Ultra...Bravo to both Jeremy Kershaw and Tim Roe for they represent the very best of cycling!!!

#7: Ben Shockey and the Brothers Braun take impressive honors at the 2009 Trans-Iowa Race. Shockey rode a fixed geared bicycle in this last spring’s Trans-Iowa. I repeat, Shockey rode a fixed geared bicycle in the Trans-Iowa. The author had the honor of riding with Ben for several hours and the manly effort required to propel that fixed gear was something to behold. One had the sense of witnessing something very special indeed. Had I not had my tear-ducts removed to save weight, I would have wept like a little school girl as he was forced to frantically pedal the descents while the rest of us relaxed and rested…The nod goes to the Braun duo more so because of the understated style in which they impress. They make everything look so easy. Travis won the Trans-Iowa Single Speed category while Matt was only three minutes behind. Matt rode the Heck-of-the-North on a single-speed while wearing what appeared to be a pair of old Jordan Nikes on his feet. He was always at the front of the lead pack and was the main topic of discussion in the lead group as everyone kept asking, “Who is that guy?”

#6: Relative newbie and Duluthian Jason Buffington wins the single speed category (2nd overall) at the amazing 12 Hour WEMS Thunderdown in October and then a few weeks ago “guts-out” a nineteen hour finish at Tuscobia, riding and walking and riding, then walking again a “skinny-tired” 29er on a very tough course. Buffington was the only guy that was able to complete the 75 miles on a non-snow bike. Buffington is tough…in the tradition of Mallory and Shackleton…Need I write more?

#5: Rochester riders IMPRESS at three very challenging venues. Charly Tri wins easily at both the Ragnarok 105 and the Levis 100 while Dan Dittmer wins the 24 Hours @ Afton by four laps! (Dittmer has some affiliation with Rochester, but currently hails from the Twin Cities area...) Note: Look for a third Rochester rider, Jason Novak, to make his way up The List in the near future as his potential puts him in the category of “great expectations.” Novak finished in third place in last spring’s Trans-Iowa with Travis Braun, who won the single-speed class in this the gravel classic by which all others are judged.

#4: Jesse Rients riding away solo from a strong field in a full-on head wind and subsequently easily winning the Almanzo 100 by nearly twenty minutes. Of course, he was suppose to win as he is one of the best all around riders in the Midwest, but his solo break early in the race combined with his stalwart fortitude in battling a very strong head-wind all alone was truly impressive. As a member of the chase group, I remember that the general consensus was that no man would be able to ride away alone in such a wind…but he did and it was damned impressive!

#3 Chris Schotz’s overall series victory regarding
WEMS: The Hard Core 12 Hours Mountain Bike Race Series over in Wisconsin...These are challenging, thrilling courses, and Schotz is the undisputed maestro. He has become a fixture for winning the overall series. He nearly always wins these hard races and always in impressive style. Worthy-of-note is that Tim Ek has consistently finished second to Schotz in the majority of these 12 races (beating Schotz this year, at the Metro Challenge). Ek has finished 2nd overall in this lofty series for the last two years. Charly Tri owns the Levis 100, and every once in awhile someone will challenge Schotz for the top spot on the podium, but it has not even been close the few years when it comes to winning the overall series as Schotz is the KING of WEMS

#2: Terry Brannick (from “out-east”) for his “tortoise” approach to and ultimate victory at the 2009 Arrowhead 135. Whilst the aimless rabble with a forlorn hope followed Pramann’s ungodly pace early in the race with predictable consequences including time spent languishing in Dante’s Tepee, Brannick rode his own race to victory. It was not until Mile #115 that he caught up to the exhausted leaders, both of whom were forced to take refuge in the Teepee from Hell. He rode a smart and calculated race to victory in what is certainly, in terms of logistics, the toughest race included in this year’s venues. Note: Lance Andre, had the race been 20 miles shorter, would be right here in this #2 it goes!
#1: Clearly the two most impressive cycling efforts of 2009 witnessed by the author was that of Joe Meiser and his work at the Trans-Iowa in the spring and young Stephen Carney's run-away win at the demanding 24 Hours @ Seven Oaks in late summer. Meiser spear-headed a break away trio consisting of himself, Tim Ek, and veteran Dave Pramann to a most impressive win. Meiser took the lead early on and forced a burning, even defiant pace that earned him the moniker of “The Decider,” by those that attempted to hold his wheel. Special kudos also to Ek and Pramann both of whom contributed to this extraordinary Trans-Iowa effort. I rank their effort just a smidgen below that of Meiser’s; so they too enjoy this top ranking. Stephen Carney won the 24 hours @ Seven Oaks in impressive style beating the next closest contender by two laps and still retiring from the course with two hours left on the clock. Look for him to become a real force in future long cycling enduro-events. His older brother is also a past winner of the Seven Oaks race. Note: Dave Pramann has made the list every year since its inception back in 2000.

Congratulations to all that made The LIST...This is SO huge for them, their countries, their loved-ones, their families, and their careers!!!! If you did not make the List...stay around supportive people, people that can care for you and comfort you for awhile, maybe a month or so, and also please refrain from playing with sharp objects for the next few weeks...In time, the pain will a more bearable state...Rest in the knowledge that there is always 2010…Your first chance is on February 1st starting up in International Falls, Minnesota!