Monday, June 25, 2012

Fate plays no favorites...

“Fate determines many things, no matter how we struggle.”
Amid a beautiful landscape and a bicycle race that is pure and simple, today’s themes include wishful thinking, desire, desperation, defiance in the face of certain cruel fate, and gaps between reality and fantasy.
The Chequemegon 100 is the quintessential grassroots cross-country mountain bike race.  It is a free, back-to-the-basics mountain bike race, devoid of all the surreal and frivolous trappings of the for-profit operations that afford the masses a myriad of various categories, distances, and trinkets to hang around their necks.  And yet, encouragingly, despite its lack of fanfare, it attracts many of the Midwest’s finest bike racers.  It crosses through nearly one hundred miles of amazing single track that is the obvious result of tremendous labor and attention to detail.  The CAMBA trails are a treasure to behold.  This is simply a great event!
So there is little wonder that the beginning of this race day brought forth great optimism even for an aging cyclist that has endured for seemingly endless months a slump in performance that would shake up even the most stalwart of men.  On such a day, on such a course, anything is possible!…Such was his soaring mindset as this once proud man made his way to the starting line…But alas…“Fate is the endless chain of causation, whereby things are; the reason or formula by which the world goes on.”
As he confidently rode his steel steed to the start line that lay a couple kilometers down a gravel road, he regaled a throng of youthful confidants of past heroics, little did he suspect that a large and evil stone would jump out and bite his rear wheel, breaking a spoke on a wheel that only had twenty-four to begin with… suddenly what had been a moment of great expectation turned to a moment of nervous trepidation.
The wheel had been compromised and he knew deep in his psyche that he would pay for this transgression.  He knew the truth behind the adage that “All things are subject to decay and when fate summons, even monarchs must obey.” In other words…
He knew that one can only ”go with ones fate, but not beyond. Beyond leads to dark places.“  But a healthy human mind is an optimistic organ and thus he searched for the kind of public comment that would bolster his chances for a compromised wheel that would hold together for a hundred miles of single track riding at race pace.  The youthful Jay Barre, perhaps feeling pity for the aged one, offered up a hopeful insight, “if you ride light and avoid any big hits, you should be alright.” Another offered, “just ride like Scotty Kylander-Johnson or Todd McFadden, you know, ride like a pro and you’ll be fine.” He, of course, rejected any mention of the fact that the lightweight wheel was doomed. One guy, a realist, stated the obvious, “Charlie there is no way that wheel is gonna hold, especially the way you hit stuff.”
So the die was cast.  But the author could not help but recall the wise words of the Buddha: “I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.” He knew that he must at least give it go.  And thankfully the wheel did hold for over sixty miles during which the rider was treated to a most excellent experience including riding with many old and new friends.  Then abruptly, he hit a boulder and two other spokes snapped and the wheel went too wobbly to continue on the course.  A kind Samaritan stopped and manhandled the wheel to a semi-circle enabling the rider to continue pedaling, albeit a lot of rubbing of rubber on the frame.
The good news is that he still made nearly nine hours in the saddle as he was able to gingerly ride the bike back to the start via a series of ATV/gravel roads to Seeley and then back to the start via Highway 63 to Cable and then back to Lakewoods Resort.
History shows us that other highly developed forms of civilization have collapsed. Who knows whether the same fate does not await our own? Things fall apart...
A sincere and enthusiastic THANK YOU to the Salsa Guyz that put on this wonderful event!!!! 


  1. When I get to Illinois can I build you a wheel?
    32 spokes,3 cross that will not blow up because of a pebble.

  2. I say look into tandem wheels. I've seen you ride.

  3. Max....You crack me up :)

  4. Please excuse the off topic post, but can you point me to more information about the Saint Cloud Gravel race referred to on your "Priority Races for 2012" section? The googles know little.

  5. "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." Theodore Roosevelt