Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Dear Sir Mallory:
When it became public record that they, the four former members of the Northern DBD Colony, would not be going with to Tuscobia, I felt nothing. Maybe there was a momentary sense of loss, an inexplicable yet distant awareness of sadness but really it was nothing. I am alone. I have always been alone. For me there is only the road and my Pugsley...
....Give Sir Shackleton all my best…I leave for Park Falls on Thursday. Of course, I require no support, will do my best, but expect no recognition upon my return. Should I not return, know that I fought the good fight and leave my corpse to the lofty wolves...
By the way, thank you very much for the new revolver and the portable amputation kit.
Your humble servant,
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
1. Equipment Does Matter. It doesn’t have to be the best, but it can’t be some beater from the 70’s if you’re planning on jumping into the deep end. I’m a firm believer in meticulous care of the machine. I often think about the bike from top to bottom, front to back before the big dance. I continually ask myself, “What could go wrong?” Solve all little issues that annoy you about the bike before the event. I go into races knowing that I can BEAT on my bike with reckless abandon and it will perform for me. In races where your life could potentially be on the line, the equipment becomes a means to an end, if it survives, it’s a bonus!
2. Picture it...All in your Mind...Sounds cliché, but it isn’t. I think about the most important races daily. I try to visualize myself “doing it”. I try to see myself getting through the tough stuff, like fixing the bike in the night, getting myself “unlost”. I plan how I will calm myself in adverse situations, possibly dangerous ones. I picture WINNING (winning is defined by you).
3. Believe. This one should be right after #2. Aint no one out there gonna believe in you, but you! Don’t be afraid to talk to yourself, be your biggest fan and cheer leader. I have literally said these words to myself out loud, “Nice Job!”. Leave no room for doubt. Quitting is never an option. Plans for worse case scenarios involve a lot of walking, not phone calls. Of course there are circumstances that do involve quitting, but I rarely talk about them, so I won’t here. There is never any thing wrong with last place. After finishing the Trans Iowa I told my wife on the way to the hotel, “The last place finisher won this race, same as the first place finisher, we all won.”
4. Embrace the Pain. Accept that it will get harder than you ever imagined. I try to think of the pain as an old friend who’s come back to visit. I’m talking about the kind of pain and hardship that shakes you to your core, scares you! This is the kind of pain that one needs a plan for. When it comes, stay calm, slow down and KEEP MOVING. And, most importantly know that it WILL PASS, it always does. You will feel good again.
5. Keep your Head Up. One tends to sink physically and emotionally as the hours wear on. Remember, you do this because you love it and because you can. Pick your head up, look around, take it all in, and be present. We only go around this crazy merry go round once and it may be a race, but it’s also the minutes of your life. Find your “horses” out on the prairie, you’ll know when you see them and no one will ever be able to really understand, but you.
6. Find a Friend. Hey, you’re never alone. Well, sometimes you are, but if you’re around others don’t take yourself or your situation so seriously. These are some pretty good athletes around you and 99% of the time some pretty cool people too. Get to know them, share the load, and take an interest in their life, you just might learn something. Some of the best memories of the things I’ve done on a bike come from people I’ve met along the way (i.e. Dave Pramann, Troy Krause – both Trans Iowa vets with whom I “shared the load”).
7. Stay Humble. We’re all human beings. We’re not just racers, be respectful, polite, and appreciative. No one likes cocky or conceited people. Everyone is struggling out there; some are just going faster than others. Take the time to listen to their stories; they’re just as important as yours. I’ll bet you had trouble with the same sections of the race as they did.
8. Be Afraid, Very Afraid. Respect the event. If I’m not nervous I know I’m doomed. There’s a big difference between confident and cocky. I try to be confident in all races, but realize that I am not bigger than the race. I must respect the course and its enormity, therefore I must be careful in regard to effort, safety, and the overall decisions that I make throughout.
9. Prepare. Think it through. Start with categories like food, safety, tools, hydration, and clothing. Then move through each area over the course of weeks working off of lists. I often start a list at work and at home. I add to these lists every time something pops into my head and then organize it all later. Plan for every scenario like, “what if I crash?”
10. Take Something from It. Leave the event a richer person. I try to ask myself what I’ve learned about myself while I was out there, did I like what I found. What kind of person are you? The event will tell you. They’re gifts given to us by race directors who often don’t really know what they’ve given you – only you know and that’s what makes it so special. I’ve been reduced to tears after finishing big races before. Some may think the emotion comes from the release of being done with such an intense experience and that may be true, but I think it comes from going inside to a place one rarely gets to visit and being o.k. with what’s in there.
11. Say Thank You. You don’t have to make it a big deal, but make sure they know that you walked away better for what they gave you. Sometimes a hand shake and a look into the eye is all it takes. This goes for your closest one too. “Thanks for letting me chase after these things …and thanks for letting me catch them”.
Thank you, Mr Ek!!!!!!!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Through my brief career in endurance racing, this is what I have learned so far (thanks to successes and failures):
1. Time Part One: In the grand scheme of one's life, 6 hours ain't long, or 12, 24, or even 50 hours. Put the event in context. The Arrowhead Ultra is many hours long, so is the Trans Iowa. But when you are in the thick of it, just remember that you are doing something amazing. You are fortunate to HAVE that time to pursue your passion (even if it is crazy).
2. Time Part Two: Break down long distances or time frames into workable chunks. There are times that the best plan is to simply make it to the next checkpoint, food station, or bend in the trail. When starting a multi hour or day event, do not fixate on the finish yet. Focus on making it to the next workable rest spot...then reassess.
3. Always be eating and drinking.
4. Always start a race comfortably cool. You will warm up soon enough.
5. Dream big. Tour Divide? Try to wrap your head around that for a few days. Be warned, though! The term "endurance junkie" is not that far off base. After a while, the local 5k won't cut it.
6. Know your machine. You will have to maintain it alone, in the dark when it's 25 below.
7. Know when to say when. Ya, it's easy to talk big and say you will never quit. But it might be the reasonable thing to do. Come prepared to think about what you are willing to go through to finish.
8. Before quitting, stop, eat and even do something else for a few minutes. Wait at least an hour (if you can afford that time). Then reassess.
9. If you are crawling into the pain cave, eat, drink and work through it. Over the duration of a multi hour/day event, you are going to have big highs and maybe some really low lows. With time, you will feel differently. Hopefully better. Sometimes worse...
10. Try to always remember that you are blessed to have the time, money and physical ability to even attempt this monster of an event. Be thankful for working legs, heart and mind. Thank your family for giving you the time away from them, too.
11. Thank the event creator with sincere acknowledgement. Chances are, they sacrificed a lot of time, money and sweat to put the event on.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Ultracycling legend and probationary DBD member Charlie Farrow has given us bloggers an assignment. Write eleven lessons you've learned from cycling with personal commentary. Well, I'm going to flaunt that assignment and write eleven lessons I've learned from cycling AND running AND skiing.
Lesson 1: Train I used to think that commuting to work and doing the occasional gravel road century was enough. I finished my first Arrowhead 135 with basically no training. I finished the Dirty Kansa 200 with basically no training. Heck, I ran my first marathon with absolutely no training. Skiing the Triple D shocked me out of my complacency. I barely made it through the 18 or so miles of flat terrain. Needless to say, I didn't finish the Arrowhead that year...or the next. The third year I put together a training program. Nothing special, just a guide to what I would do day by day to get myself ready. It worked. Last year I used a slightly modified plan to finish the Arrowhead on foot.
Lesson 2: Sell your rollers. Go outside. Ride in rain, sleet, snow, wind, and darkness. Ride on gravel, mud, snow, and ice. Run through mud and creeks, and over roots and rocks. Ski in the rain and on ice. Your races will be like this. When everybody else stays home or bails at the halfway point you will laugh and know that you've been through worse.
Lesson 3: Eat food, drink water. There are lots of expensive gels, bars, and powders out there. You don't need them. Sure, they probably work, but there are tastier, cheaper options. Fig bars, peanut butter sandwiches, trail mix, pizza, cheese and sausage. Energy drink? Ensure, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and soy milk. Chocolate covered espresso beans can save a race. Eat! Drink! Use them! It is better to stop and pee than stop and pass out.
Lesson 4: You can go farther than you think. In 2009 I skied the Tuscobia trail ultra. 67 miles into this 75 mile race I was suffering from horrible blisters, poorly waxed skis, and weird hallucinations. I had given up on skiing and was walking slowly down the trail. There was no way I was going to finish. I reached a road and powered up my cell phone; no signal. The race director rolled up a few minutes later and I told him I was done and needed a ride in. He said "no." Walking the next eight miles is the toughest thing I've ever done. I made it.
Lesson 5: Know the meaning of "quit." When you are pushing your boundaries and trying new things sometimes you get in over your head. When you feel like there is no choice but to quit ask yourself this: How will I feel in a week about having quit today? If the answer is, "terrible," then keep going. If the answer is, "like I did all I could," then quit. Be honest. You'll know if you're not being honest. Sometimes getting the Myrtle the Turtle award is a step in the right direction.
Lesson 6: The hardest part is getting out the door. Feeling sorry for yourself? Didn't finish that gravel race again? Seriously underestimated a 100 mile run? Ride across town to the coffee shop, run one lap around the park, get up and do something! Chances are you'll end up doing a 30 mile ride or a ten mile run and feel better.
Lesson 7: Savor it. In 2006, at my first Arrowhead, I was exhausted, cold, alone, and riding through a flat boring swamp. I knew I was going to finish, it was just a matter of time. So I stopped got out some food and water and just looked around. I said to myself, "This is why I came here. This is what I want to be doing." I felt great.
Lesson 8: Look out for old guys on crusty mountain bikes. It's not the young guy on the custom titanium rig who is going to win. That old guy (aka Praman, the Master) is going to beat all the fatbikes to the finish line and set a record doing it.
Lesson 9: Commute. Ride to work every day. Walk if you have a trip to make that's less than a mile. You'll never be out of shape and you'll learn how to dress for the weather. Just remember: commuting miles don't count towards training (see #1).
Lesson 10: Be afraid.
Luke: "I won't fail you. I'm not afraid."
Yoda: "You will be. You will be." If you're not afraid of the big race then you're overconfident. You will fail. Fear makes you prepare. It makes you train. It makes you learn everything you can. If you are managing your fear then you are on the right track.
Lesson 11: Call me a Sissi. You're not normal. You are doing things nearly everyone considers dumb. You wear tight pants. You will get made fun of when you're out there running in the rain. That's okay. When someone calls you a Sissi smile and tell them, "No, they're tougher than I am."
This is a great list of lessons....amazing insight!!!! cpf
1) Don't let your meat loaf! - Get out and put some miles in. It doesn't matter what kind of bike you have, if you are decked out in Assos or Castelli....just get out and ride!
2) Ride your own race - There are some extremely strong riders out there, don't let them set the tempo for your ride. Especially on endurance rides know your pace and what you are comfortable with doing. Don't go balls out and bonk and then be screwed the rest of the ride.
3) Have FUN on the bike - We ride bikes because we enjoy doing it, if you aren't having fun then you need to rethink why you are riding. The fun might not come until after the ride or race but thats ok... races are hard. You trained and trained for this race, enjoy every minute of it, before, during, and after.
4) Chin up/Zipper Down - Have a mentally tough attitude. You need to tell yourself you are capable of anything you put your mind to.... if you don't you are setting yourself up for failure. Stay strong and work past those dark spots.
5) Keep Moving - When enough is enough and you are ready to throw in the towel...DON'T. Take a break, have an energy bar, clear your mind for a little bit.... but keep going and don't give up.
6) Don't over-pack - Know what you absolutely NEED to bring on the bike. Tubes, chain links, tools, etc. Know what nutrition works for you, but also rely on gas stations and other stops in order to keep the weight down on the bike.
7) Train with a partner - Riding with someone else allows you to go farther, share ideas, ride harder
8) Take your turn - In a race make sure that you are doing your part at the front taking pulls and sharing the responsibility. Also, take turns hosting rides, having get togethers, buying a round of beer.
9) Stay humble - No one likes a showboater. Stay down to earth...even if you are the fastest guy out there you never know what the race course is going to throw at you or what challenges you are going to encounter. Everyone has good days and everyone has bad days. Don't make excuses...its just the way of the world.
10) Be patient - In the race, don't get jumpy, don't get antsy....wait for the moves to come, if you can counter them then go for it. If you get dropped...hang tough, ride hard and catch up. In the endurance races you never know if Gorilla is going to get 7 flats off of the front, be patient and stay calm....races are won this way.
11) Be supportive - Support your fellow riders. Encourage them, help them if they need it. Support your local bike shop...give them some business and tell them about your races, maybe they will sponsor you. Support the races and organizers, even if these are free races see how you can help out...bring a six pack for the race organizer and thank them for most likely putting on a free event that ate up a lot of their time.
Bravo Jay....Ari must be soooo proud :) cpf
Monday, November 14, 2011
love the blog.
here are mine.
1. use your friends wisely ,,, they plan to do the same.
2. thank the race director and buy the sponsors stuff.
3. you can't win unless you lead at some point.
4. the best way to get beat is to lead at some point.
5. selling your raffle winnings or finishing prize on ebay is in bad taste..
they want you to use it.
6. taking everyone off their plan is a good plan.
7. the endurance racing/mullet analogy always holds true ,,,
all business up front and a party in the back.
8. winning an endurance race is like wetting your pants in a dark suit ..
it gives you a warm feeling but few will notice.
9. you can't plan for the unknown but that is what will get you.
10. use the competition wisely ,,, they may become your friends
11. it's good to be the guy who needs to stop and pee.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
1. Empathize with your enemy
2. Rationality will not save us
3. There's something beyond one's self
4. Maximize efficiency
5. Proportionality as a guideline in war
6. Get the data
7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
8. Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning
9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
10. Never say never
11. You can't change human nature
Your assignment is to develop your own eleven lessons of bike racing...the assignments is a two-part project.
Part I: Personally develop and list eleven lessons that apply to you and your experiences in bike racing (send to the author)...these lessons should comprise what you have learned during your personal cycling experiences to date or they can be expanded to include lessons that apply to your understanding of the topic at a macro-level. For example one lesson that I have learned in this facet of my so-called “life”: When in doubt take a nap.
Part II: To supplement and further define your eleven lessons, you are required to add commentary to each lesson so as to explain your lesson(s) within the context of your personal cycling history. For example:
C.P. Farrow’s eleven lessons of endurance bike racing (no particular order):
Lesson 2: You are not special, but go for it anywayz. There are lotz of guyz out there that are way faster, way stronger, and more talented than you are or will ever be, so lose the ego. Still race like you are a pro! Never avoid racing with the best even though they will beat you up bad. The chance to race with top guyz is a beautiful thing; seize the opportunity...Don't buy into the age group category trap...You will get slower as you get older...but so what, as long as you are out there doing it--thatz what matters. Race with the fast guyz and do the longer races...But avoid overt, continual drafting unless you are over 50. See Lesson #7
Lesson 3: An expensive bicycle will not make you faster. Fast guyz are fast because of many many factors but the bikes they ride has very little to do with their speed. Get a good bike that will last you a long long time and then focus on the other stuff...
Lesson 4: The two most important components related to bike racing equipment are comfortable shoes and saddle. No explanation needed.
Lesson 5: A man needs a plan. Have a workable, realistic plan of action going into the race. Write it out, contemplate it, and rewrite it making changes. Share it will knowledgeable people to get good feedback, then rewrite it again. The plan should always include a goal. Be able to visualize yourself achieving your goal. Set the goal first and then work backwards to develop a strategy to achieve the goal. Once you have developed a strategy, work on developing tactics that will allow you to achieve the strategy. For example: My goal for the 2012 Arrowhead 2012 is to finish in the top three. If plan goes all horribly wrong? See Lesson #1
Lesson 6: Race in a state of wonderment and awe: Do not lose sight of the fact that during these races you are afforded the amazing opportunity to interact, in an intimate manner, with extraordinary people during extraordinary circumstances. Be polite and appreciative to all involved. Also thank your lucky stars that you are able to do these kinds of things. Never ever forget to thank the race directors.
Lesson 7: Take “calculated risks” plus don’t sit in the whole race and then sprint for the finish. For further explanation see Lesson #2 & Lesson #6.
Lesson 8: Be inclusive in your written race recaps. Readers do not want to learn solely about all the minute details of your sixteenth placing in a local gravel road race. Offer a more compelling and broad rendition including several of the personal dramas that played out during the event. Give credit to where credit is due. People like to see their names on your blog. Give the people what they want.
Lesson 9: Be self-sufficient. Be self-sufficient. Be self-sufficient. Note: Lap races that are designed to encourage massive pit crew efforts (giving obvious advantages to the select few that have such crews) clearly violate this lesson and thus should be avoided.
Lesson 10: Leave the cell phone home lest you be tempted to use it. Mallory, Shackleton, (and the like) never wanted for a cell phone. Leave phone home and follow Lesson #1 should you encounter major problems. Getting into a tough situation and then finding a way out on your own is a good thing... Being super safe is overrated.
Lesson 11: Re-Develop, refine, rethink your own lessons from time to time...thinking about the way you approach bike racing is a productive dynamic exercise. Einstein said (or at least he should have said), “one can never fully understand a complex principle unless he/she takes the time to write about it.”
So...Please free feel to submit any and all of your personal lessons to the author and he may publish in the near future or just put them in the "comments" section of this page
Monday, November 7, 2011
Freedom is a term that is so general that itz hard for me to conjure an image in my head. Freedom from something is really how I view the word…Because to be “free” seems too big of a concept to aspire to. In other words no one is truly free…the fact is that Dylan was right…in that everyone and anyone is “gonna have to serve” somebody or something, some fundamental concept, some protocol for living ones life...
In my life, I perhaps felt most free when I was deep in the mountains of southeast Alaska many many years ago; alone with no opportunity for distraction (free to pursue one's passion without distractions), climbing with a small group of like minded men...or more recently, when battling the long night in Iowa during last year's Trans-Iowa with Eki. So my freedom is not equated to notions of safety or comfort.
Freedom is abstract and intangible….ever changing in context and meaning…perhaps I’d draw a river that is in a constant state of flux to represent this notion. Degrees of Self-determination is a good synonym for the word, freedom.
In my view, using the term "Freedom" in the context of war is often an empty word used by war-mongers to motivate the youth to do the dirty work of war...
Again in my view Freedom and War are words that are incongruent in most instances throughout history... Beware of those who promise you "freedom."
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Less than 50 categories!!! There needs to be more categories in bike races....otherwise itz too hard to WIN
14 Pro & Cat 1 Men
15 MYC Scholarship Men 12-18
16 Men 19-24
17 Men 25-27
18 Men 28-29
19 Men 30-31
20 Men 32-33
21 Men 34
22 Men 35
23 Men 36
24 Men 37
25 Men 38
26 Men 39
27 Men 40
28 Men 41
29 Men 42
30 Men 43
31 Men 44
32 Men 45
33 Men 46
34 Men 47
35 Men 48
36 Men 49
37 Men 50
38 Men 51-52
39 Men 53-54
40 Men 55-57
41 Men 58-60
42 Men 61-64
43 Men 65-69
44 Men 70+
46 Male Clydesdales 39 & Under
47 Male Clydesdales 40 +
48 Men Singlespeeds 39 & Under
49 Men Singlespeeds 40+
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
A fairly talented and diverse contingency of Duluthian gravel road enthusiasts traveled southwesterly, across the windswept cornfields of middle Minnesota to partake in the Dirt Bag gravel road race. Comprised within this Northern troupe were several major players of whom carry great status amongst or within their respective fields of influence. Namely, the indefatigable world traveler, Rich Hendricks, who has done more for crushing rocks into gravel than any Alabamian chain gang; the bold and brave archaeological/journalism professor John Hatcher, who has put decades of both meticulous and dangerous work into finding the fabled lost bicycle of Erik the Red of Norse legend; the renaissance man, Jeremy Kershaw, one of just two or three that can claim to have skied, run, and biked the Arrowhead 135 (earning a DBD patch to boot); the unconquerable Mr. Ek, a throwback to a simpler time when a man was judged by his propensity to suffer under stress, under a load, doing work for days and days; and the odd-man out, a Mr. Farrow, a lowly unscrupulous aged man that spends the bulk of his idle dayz secretly planning the untimely demise of his daughter’s pet man-dog, Loki.
As dawn broke and they entered into Minnesota’s 6th District via three automobiles—the domain of presidential hopeful and darling of the Tea Party, Mrs. Michelle Bachman—there arose a collective sense of orderly patriotism, security, anti-immigration, and civic pride amongst the refined men, whilst the unprincipled one could only day dream of applying sorted Machiavellian tactics to the impending gravel race.
Upon arrival at the starting point the Northlanders set about individually to determine the proper ensemble to wear so as to complement their various physical attributes, given the relatively cool temperatures. For Ek , the sponsored one, the decision was simply a matter of selecting the appropriate Hi-tech Salsa-brand of stylish clothing that would afford just the right measure of both warmth and breathability, but for both Kershaw and Farrow it was a more complicated equation involving matching a hodge-podge of “lost&found” items, hand me downs, and duct-taped booties. Farrow is somewhat self-conscious of his weighty figure and yet has been told, more than once, that he looks “dashingly sporting’ in crimson, so he went with his predominately red outfit, including his red long underwear that he found abandoned near a local ski resort some years past. It is worth noting that to his chagrin, Farrow was completely upstaged by a strikingly good looking Flander’s roadie festooned in a brand new and brilliantly fire-truck red costume from head to toe to carbon bike. Those near to Farrow in the peloton recalled that the old curmudgeon was green with envy and jealousy as the large group of riders lined up to begin their battle. One participant remembers the old man complaining, “I wish we had a carbon-tax on these roadie guyz and their carbon machines…we could pay off the federal debt!”
Fast starts are always hard on old men as it takes considerable time from them to initiate their respective “mojos’ and so there was a collective sense of disapproval from the elders when the impetuous youth from Rochester, Drew Wilson took off like a flash of lighting down the first gravel road encountered. When eventually reeled back into the fold, an elder was heard scolding the unbridled youth in no uncertain terms, “Drew if you would just learn how to ride smart you’d be able to win these races!”
From the get-go, the pace was decidedly fast and then all hell broke loose when the locals invited their unsuspecting guests into a series of deadly sand traps. These barriers had the effect of causing several seniors to experience rapid heart palpations, thus prompting Farrow to exclaim to the nearby Kershaw, “Strike me tent! I am ready to meet my Maker!” As the locals seemingly floated through the quicksand, the rest groveled. Such is the state of gravel road racing!!!! Oh the shame of it all. No respect for the seniors of the sport.
Sensing weakness, the charge lead by the Revolution Cycle squad increased in ferocity... then suddenly as if they realized their insolence, their bad behavior, the pace slowed just enough to allow a few of the luckier stragglers to catch back up to the lead group. Yet the damage was done to poor ravaged Kershaw; a crippled shell of a once proud man weakened from a troublesome addiction to foot running. Left languishing alone against the persistent headwinds of farm country, he is said to have wept the tears of a rider that had forsaken his velo-craft for the lonely life of a long distance runner. He, too wept, one can surmise for the precipitous downfall of the once great Brave Buffington…a man endowed with unequaled potential in the cycling world, who then gives it all up to skip through the forests with other like-minded fleet-footed pedestrians only to suffer the physical and psychological declines associated with that lonely and inglorious pursuit. A tragedy of epic proportions!
The lead group, twenty or so strong was thus comprised of the survivors of the sand dunes and the strong Saint Cloud riders. The tempo slowed a bit as some of the riders took time to become reacquainted. Bell complained of the frustrations involved with peeling layers and layers of old wall-paper off of a recently acquired 1970s ranch-style home and was reminded that Hitler was once a wall paperer. Farrow grumbled incessantly on the topic of how hard it is to murder a family dog without being found out, whilst the Deathrider rightly castigated a youth that publically admitted to being ignorant as the peculiarities associated with the new extra-wide Surly fat-bike.
Once again, around ninety minutes into it, the locals lead their unsuspecting guests into another insidious trap. This time the ambush came in the form of a long and hilly section of severe washboard type terrain. The incessant rattling and shaking caused the elder men to lose control of their aged bladders…Among the victims, Farrow wept as he soiled his red shorts... Whilst the depraved opportunists took off leaving all but eleven racers, seven of whom were indigenous to the area. Oh the shame!
Horkey is off the back! Then there were but nine leaders including Beuning, Loosen, Muyres, Bell, Scad, Wilson, Ziemer, Staifenberg, and Gritman. They road well together for the better part of fifty miles and it came down to a last desperate sprint up a hill that put Wilson on top. Any student of the game could not be unimpressed by Wilson’s effort for on paper there were others that boast more winning credentials. Yet the youth perhaps listened to his elders, road the smart race, and made the right moves when it counted…so it goes.
Giving a courageous solo chase was a forlorn Mr. Ek, but the head wind was too much even for this hard and brave man and so he was eventually caught up by a well motivated chase group comprised of Skarphol, Nikodym, Hurl, Fry, and others including the floundering Farrow. J. Fry was the inspiration and thus the driving force behind a fast second group that was buoyed by Hurl and Skarphol, both of whom took turns with Fry in keeping the pace high and optimistic.
But alas it was not to be for the leaders finished a good fifteen minutes ahead of the chasers…such is the way of cycling in the modern age!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
I am sooooo sick of reading about how people love their dogs! Yesterday I went to Barnes & Noble and was astonished to see that three of the top-ten bestsellers in the last few months have all portrayed positive accounts of living with dogs! I am here now to speak the truth—
So I was downstairs at the Ski Hut the other day chillin’ with my buddies. I was regaling the boyz about a recent, albeit common incident in which my entire family had taken part in beating up the man-dog; Loki…the following is a recounting:
We clandestinely entered the house after an evening-out dinning at a local eatery. Loki was obviously not happy when we left him home, so we fully expected that there would be some kind of retaliatory act on his part, thus the silent entrance... As stated above, post dining experience, we silently entered the house at the ready as we fully expected a fight.
As the downstairs lights came on, we noticed right way that Loki had eaten the tops off of Sophie’s expensive new sheep-skinned UGGS for straps of fleece lay haphazardly upon the floor. Further investigation revealed that he had used the UGGS as a mere appetizer for it soon became obvious that he too had seemingly ingested the whole of my wife’s new running shoe as the main course. Only a few bits of the expensive high-tech fabric remained. Then for desert he had eaten the top of off my new camelback bladder.
Repetitive training has enabled us to suppress our emotions and thus having done this before we immediately took to our battle stations and then waited for wily Loki to make the first move, for it is our belief that victory can only come when fighting a defensive battle (aka ambush). My wife, armed with a ski pole blocked the only exit to the outside world, the offspring blocked the entrance that led into the gear room—she was fortified with one of the mangled UGG boots. We immediately and collectively surmised that the UGG boots would be the perfect weapons as the dog would be hit with the very implement that he sought to destroy. We all quietly smiled at the thought as I took my crouched position near to the stairway . I whispered tensely, “Hey throw me that other boot…I’ll catch him in the back of the head as he descends the stairs.” My daughter covertly and silently tossed me the other boot.
When all was ready I made the call, “Loki treats! Loki Treats” Nothing from above—just a strained anticipatory silence. I tried again in a more amicable voice, “Come Loki Come, Treats!” Then I vigorously shook the treat bag knowing that the lure of a treat would be nearly impossible for him to resist.
Suddenly we heard him bounding across our once pristine wood floor (now it is scarred from both cat and dog claws) and then we were on him. Chaos ensued as every man, woman, and child fought the beast with every fiber of his or her humanity. Survival of the fittest in itz most stark manifestation. His agility and endurance is amazing to behold and yet we were able to hit our mark on a few of the swings. Seeing that he was out numbered he wisely retreated upstairs and it was our failing to recklessly follow him for once in the expansive living room he was able to out maneuver us and gain an advantage. Soon he was out the door and thus free to harry us at his will. As he dodged and ducked our efforts to strike him, we began exhausted and thus conceded the fight…
so it goes…a day in the life of living with Loki, the Man-dog….
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Yesterday was a glorious fall day in Duluth. The trees are in full fiery color to the point that even my kid was moved enough to look up from her texting to declare, ”Wow the leaves are like so like brilliant in like a really like cool like really red like, weird neon-red way!” I raced home and jumped on me trusty Pugsley and headed for the trails up at Lester Park…a few miles up the road from me house.
The single-track is in pristine shape and I was loving life as I expertly craved-out the turns until I screwed up on shifting to an easier gear and snapped the chain. I wasn’t worried cuz I figured that a biker would be along any minute to loan me a chain tool. But alas no one showed and so I hiked-a-bike up to an exit path that puts one out midway up the Seven Bridges Road. Just as I pulled onto the asphalt I spied a group of six roadies heading up the hill coming towards me. “Sweet Salvation” was my first thought. I readied myself to look presentable and rehearsed a few salutations, settling on either, “You guyz are life savers,” or “Thanks a lot you guyz!” I even considered offering, “You guyz don’t need to wait, I’ll just get the chain fixed and then I’ll drop the chain tool off at your house,” but decided that that approach would seem to forward...
By this time they were nearly up to me, so I put on my happy face and sought sincere eye-contact with the lead rider. It was an impressively well dressed group of three males and three females, all festooned in beautiful ensembles covered in various brand names atop beautifully svelte carbon machines. Their leader was an amazing specimen that resembled a well-packed sausage as his skin suit was so tight it looked to be painted on…I remember thinking that he must at least be a Category 3 racer! My heart raced in anticipation of our meeting….They came closer still and yet their majestic leader had still NOT made eye contact me…I knew now for sure that he must see me…but still I moved more to the middle of the road so as to force the issue.
Suddenly, but as if choreographed, in unison that stood and pedaled hard past me as if I were an invisible ghost…Stunned… I was speechless. It was not until they were well past me that I was able to muster a lily-livered, “Thanks a lot!”
Hurting and forlorn, I decided to head down the road a bit and then cut back onto the trail in hopes of finding a mountain biker to assist me. I was heading down the ski trail when I saw two college-aged guyz heading up on mountain bikes. One was on a plastic throw-way G.F. but the other was on a steel single speed, so I felt that I had a chance with him. As they approach I noticed that they purposefully looked away from me. It was if they had encountered the hideous Elephant-man in their wake. Initially I hid my face in shame, but necessity will ultimately trump embarrassment, so I demanded (in the voice I usually reserve just for the man-dog), “Hey do you guyz have a chain tool?” They stopped and slowly looked at me…I repeated the demand as I approached them with willful steps. “No,” the single-speeder quietly uttered, eyes cast downward. Sensing my dominance, I told them in no uncertain terms, “alright then, you may continue on.” As they road away from me…A quiet sense of manliness washed over my psyche!
Dean G. of the Ski Hut saved me from a long walk home for I encountered him as I was walking home on the asphalt…When I told him of the snubs…he gravely shook his head and said, “triathletes…more than likely they were triathletes!”
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Itz just not fair…Certainly life is not fair, if ya want justice, stay at home; I get that…but why at that moment when I felt great, me old legs were motoring, and with so much race left? Why a flat at that point in the Heck? I have been in many bike races, and so have you, where we have actually hoped for a flat so that we could end the pathetic effort with a semblance of honor or at least an ego-sheltering excuse. A flat can be an acceptable, societal means from which to escape the pain of being dropped and left alone. “Dude, I was right there, but I got a flat!” You know I am telling it the way it is…Admit it! But the last two races I have been in this season, I have flatted early in each race, when I was feeling really good, when I was hanging, even trading pulls with the top guyz. I really was “right there when I got a flat!”…My most recent flats have come at points where even an old guy, like me, still believes that he can be there at the end…So so sad. Life is so unfair. On Saturday morning during the third running of the Heck of the North, that now familiar, albeit wretchedly forlorn and awful sound of seventy-five pounds of air instantaneously escaping from underneath me, in a heartbeat, followed shortly thereafter by the silence of being left alone to consider all that is wrong with the world, nearly brought me to tears…so it goes…
As the leaders rode away from me, just forty-four miles into the hundred mile race, a classic melancholy 1970’s song popped into my head—“Alone again naturally, I truly am indeed Alone again, naturally…It seems to me that there are more hearts broken in the world that can’t be mended…Left unattended…What do we do? What do we do? Alone again, naturally.” …Misery loves company, so I was somewhat comforted by the fact that much better, talented men than me had similar fates on that recent Saturday morning (Buffington, Swank, Andrews, Gort, all flatted early and then much later, Ross Fraboni and Josh Tesch flatted on the Moose Mile).
But enough already…who wants to read the rambling philosophical lamentations of an old fool? People want to read vivid accounts of bold racers making courageous moves, they want to revel in the glory of high achievement, they want to celebrate champions…such is the culture of competition in this nation from youth soccer to collegiate athletics—NOT a bad thing, if kept pure and simple. By the way, a culture of competition that does not hinge on entry fees, licensing, or shiny age-group medals or the like. A great course, and bragging rights are about all that is needed to get a large group of highly motivated and talented riders together to race hard and fast; the success of these gravel road races is evidence of this simple, yet often ignored concept—The draw of pure competition is all that one needs. An ethos of intrinsic motivation, of comparing ones skill at riding a bike fast with others, as a calling card for participation clearly has always had merit. There is no need for anything else, ya don’t have to dress it up one bit, if you disagree, just look at the talent that showed up to race in this year’s Heck or any of the gravel road races. G.T. and Skogen, the two pioneers, have really tapped into something special (and fundamental) with these localized “free” albeit challenging, “no-support” bike races…Real racers want to be self-reliant, to compete on long, tough courses, AND they are much less concerned about being catered to…But I digress.
Thus giving the people what they want I now provide two perspectives on the drama that unfolded as the leaders vied for the glory of victory at the Heck of the North… The first one in which the author writes vicariously in an effort to capture the underlying thinking related to the bold break-away move exhibited by the veteran racer, Mr. Bell and the second, from notes obtained from the splendid endurance rider extraordinaire, Mr. Ek.
First, a recount of the now classic “Bell Move”—
So whilst the author and a host of others languished alone in their egocentric angst, dramatic events were unfolding up ahead where men sought both glory and kisses from beautiful podium girls. Rather than sit-in for ninety-nine miles and try to win it in the last few yards involving a desperate sprint up a steep climb, in a brilliantly bold move, Jim Bell of Saint Cloud went off the front of the fifteen plus lead group amid the spongy, mucky terrain along the North-shore Trail some sixty miles into it. It was a risky, all-or-nothing, move made by a savvy veteran and while in the end it cost him the win or even a top finish…this writer still thinks it was a brilliant move— Goethe got it right with, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Ya don’t have to be Johan Bruyneel to appreciate that the Heck, given the lay of the land, only presents essentially three opportunities to a seasoned cyclist (aka “old guy” like Bell) to break away and have a chance to win it outright—Namely 1.) The Brimson Connector, some 43 miles into it and so too early if you are both old and bold; 2.) The North-shore Trail segment which comes around mile sixty; and 3.) The Moose Mile which comes with less than ten miles from the finish (and is a place where the race can be lost, but not won), so it makes perfect sense that Bell would pick #2 to make his move. Don’t get me wrong, Bell is an amazing rider but he is an older guy, like me, and thus his ability to out-sprint a youngster is perhaps diminished (or with this year’s headwall finish, to win a sprint up a steep climb). Bell took off and rode out front like his life depended on it for nearly twenty miles before his stalwart legs began to fail him. Was it a foolhardy move? I submit that it was a masterful move! A move of a champion... Now I am not talking about a man intent on a podium finish for which most of us would be aiming for or dreaming about, Bell was singularly focused on winning the race—I find such a "Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!” tactic to be very inspiring! As stated above his plan did not end in a big smooch from a buxom podium girl, yet in my book it was a GRAND EFFORT!
Second: Eki’s Time (in his own words…so compelling, I wept when I read this!)—
“I attacked going down Lester River Rd. I got about 200 yards up on the field and for a moment thought they were letting me go. Alas, it was not to be as they quickly gathered me up when they had enough of my folly. Thirteen of us (I counted) came into the bottom of Seven Bridges Road together. I lead up the hill, they obediently followed my wheel. I did not have enough energy to attack on the climb as I could sense how strong they were, it felt too early to attack given the strength of the group. I believe Matt Ryan got into Amity first, then me. I quickly took the lead back from him as I knew things were going to go off like fire-works very shortly. About 1/4 of the way up Amity I decided it was now or never. I looked over my shoulder to see the group of thirteen still intact. I stood up and deliberately attacked! I felt like I was tearing my bike apart, I was going as hard as I could. Four men came with me, Joe Meiser, Todd McFadden, Matt Ryan, Ted Loosen, the rest popped off as they could not match the surge. A split formed at this point. We had maybe 100 yards on the rest. McFadden immediately attacked me back, but I was spent from my surge. I could not respond to his effort. Meiser, Ryan, and Loosen went with McFadden while I hung between the groups now in "no man’s land". I tried with everything I had to close down on them and at times I thought I was, but whatever I gained would somehow get erased by the cycling gods. Somewhere up ahead Loosen must have attacked Todd and gained some time on him or he got his gap on Pleasant View (the last steep hill leading to the finish). When I hit Jean Duluth Road, I could see Ryan and Meiser working together and I knew that was the nail in my coffin as I was alone. There was no way I could close down on two guys working together. Matt Ryan even told me later that when he saw me alone he knew that if he and Meiser traded positions at least twice there'd be no hope of me catching them. Shawn Miller chased me hard, but we were too evenly matched and he gained no ground on me, but he was one of the strongest riders on the whole day. The top 6 guys were all on Pleasant View together, it must have been cool to watch. It was soooooo close!”
So there you have it…a glimpse into the excitement of the chase by a guy that should win it someday. An insider’s view of the last few miles of an event that while still in itz infancy is destined to be considered a “classic” gravel road event.
I do not use the term “classic” frivolously. Races must earn the title of “classic” (and/or “epic”) to be included into my cycling lexicon and the Heck of the North is destined to become a classic. A very compelling element of the Heck is the fact that it attracts a large contingency of very strong cross-country skiers that are just entering the season and thus collectively are very strong. Adam Swank, Shawn Miller, Phil Rogers, Matt Ryan, Rhett Bonner, Rod Raymond, Mike Dietzman, Joshua Tesch, and Tyler Kjorstad are all really good cyclists but they are even better skiers. Adding them to an already stacked field of riders like Joe Meiser, Todd McFadden, Fraboni, Eki, Buffington, Glisczinski, Deathrider, Norrie, Struchynski, Gort, Andrews, Bell, Loosen, etc. makes the Heck of the North a real celebration of local talent. These 100+ mile gravel road races are really starting to take off….If you have not done so, YOU need to try one!
Special Kudos to Jeremy Kershaw and his top-notch team of volunteers (including Team Kershaw& ND Team Family Mangan) for pulling it all together and great thanks to the good family Buffington for hosting a most entertaining post-race party. The hand crafted IPA brought this man to tears of joy. Finally a special note to Ari, the inspirational leader of the secretive Slender Fungus Adventure Society—“Thanking you for the Irish whiskey (The DBD shall drink to your health come first snow) and the stirring photo of Sir Mallory, we all wept tears of pride! Also kudos on the work you have done in grooming the youthful Jay Barre…A young man for which there can be nothing but GREAT EXPECTATIONS!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our DBD motto, to ride out the storm of the interlopers, and to outlive the menace of the tri-athletes, duo-athletes, marathoners, the roadies, the skiers and the like. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of our fearless leader, Sir Mallory. We must NOT let him down. That is the will of our local chapter and the Club-at-large. The DBD members, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native gravel roads, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Duluth and many old and famous trails have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Lake Superior Trail hikers and runners and all the odious apparatus of United States Cycling Federation rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight Bell and Raymond, we shall fight the McFaddens, the Teschs and Meisers, we shall fight all comers, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength on the tar, we shall defend our gravel, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the flats, we shall fight on the hills, we shall fight on the Brimson Connector and on the Northshore Trail, we shall fight in Amity; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this local club or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our members beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the DBD, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
Sir Winston Churchill
On June 4, 1939 Churchill spoke before the House of Commons, giving a report which celebrated the “miraculous deliverance” at Dunkirk, while also seeking to temper a too rosy of view of what was on the whole a “colossal military disaster.” Any semblance to that earlier speech and the one recently presented above is pure coincidence.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
Dear Mr. Mallory:
I'd like to inquire as to your thoughts on the best speed work for sprint triathlons. Lifetime Fitness, B.P., Exxon, Haliburton, and Wal-Mart are sponsoring a big-time triathlon in my town and the entry fee is only $478, so I really want to go for it. Plus, some of the proceeds of the race will go to Greg Mortenson. Someday I want to be a real Iron Man and go to Hawaii and be on TV!
Do you suggest doing track work with short repeat intervals, or longer speed work such as Fartleks and Tempo runs? Should I hire a life-coach? I have a carbon set-up but its last year’s model, what kind of carbon bike/wheel-set should I ask my parent’s for?
Also, what are your thoughts regarding using heart rates vs the Relative Perceived Exertion scale for maximum efforts? Or should I get the new Garmin that does all of it? Would it help me to have my VO2 max measured? What about EPO?
Thanks so much,
Ps: Do those carbon fiber pants work, cost is no issue?
Dear Friends and Loyal Followers of Sir Mallory:
As many of you may know, as I pen this letter, our esteemed leader languishes, albeit with steadfast conviction, in a common jail sharing stale bread and the like with common street criminals. Old Mallory is being charged for disorderly conduct stemming from an incident at a citizen’s triathlon sponsored by Lifetime Fitness and Wal Mart, involving several hundred participants, race officials, and a young malcontent known as “Chip.”
To begin, upon receiving the above letter of inquiry from this Chip fellow, regarding participating in a triathlon, Sir Mallory, (who has never fully recovered from his untimely death on Everest) essentially snapped! Armed with his trusty ice ax and bolstered by a platoon of loyal and fearsome Gurkhas, Mallory attacked a local triathlon proceeding. Luckily Mallory had given the order to refrain from exercising extreme prejudice to the Sherpas and thus none of the frail triathletes were seriously injured. Once the Law appeared, the Gurkhas were rightly allowed to leave the scene, provided that they agree to attend an anger-management course, but Mallory was arrested, yet not before engaging in fisticuffs with a legion of policemen many of whom received bloody noses and split lips for their efforts. Finally a brigade of National Guard soldiers was able to subdue the “game-as-ever” elder DBD statesman.
Having spoken to him recently, two dayz past, via passenger pigeon, he assures me that he is well, that in due time he shall be proven innocent, and that he has found favor with the warden due to a shared interest in fine brandies. Nevertheless when you hit your knees tonight to thank Your Maker, please include Mallory in your thoughts, wishing him “Godspeed.”
But enough about Mallory, he is a big boy, can fend for himself, and a little quiet time maybe just what he needs to settle his nerves down a bit.
A cautionary tale follows—concerning running as a Gateway Drug to far more sinister and self-destructive behaviors. The main purpose of this letter is to use Chip’s letter as a platform from which to warn the people of the threats associated with running. Running is a gateway drug to triathlons. Chip’s decline is a perfect example. Chip began with a local 5k race where he ponied up $25 to run around the city park for twenty-plus minutes. When he finished the race in the middle of the pack, they gave him a brightly colored T-Shirt that proclaimed, “I survived the _____ race,” along with a shiny medal and they told him how great he was… When he got to his car on the windshield was a flyer that advertised another race. Chip ponied up for that race as well. In that race he did the 10K (all these races have multiple events and infinite categories of runners),they charged him $40, which his parents willingly paid, and he won his age group (37 to 38 age category; Clydesdale division, Category 3.5B). He was happy and self-assured and his parents were happy too because he wasn’t doing drugs or in a gang or both and he began to even talk about looking for a job.
The trap was set. Chip began to train, he began hanging out at the local Lifetime fitness center, located in a strip-mall on the edge-o-town near the Interstate (by the Wal-Mart Super Store). But in order to improve and to fit in with this crowd, he needed more expensive gear. Soon the running was not enough, he needed to swim, but to swim well, he needed a special wet-suit. You know where this is leading…running, then swimming, then… Soon Chip was obsessed with obtaining everything CARBON. Last spring, he stole his Dad’s credit card and bought a $9000 Triathlon bike, but the bike did not have carbon wheels, so he spent another $3000 to get the carbon wheel set. His Dad was furious, but his Mom reminded the dad that at least Chip was not on drugs.
Several dayz later they found Chip in the alley behind the new Trek store (where you can only buy Trek stuff). He was fighting for his life; having fallen victim to a massive carbon overdose. Such is a story that is being repeated over and over again across the country. Mallory had the courage to do something about it….do you?