Friday, June 29, 2007

Update on the GDR...Click here

Just Thirteen Left in the Great Divide Race!!!!
Posted by Administrator on June 29th, 2007
Below is a roster of who’s left. Everyone appears to have made the 13-day cut-off at Steamboat, Colorado![Below are tough men! cpf]

Ashley Mckenzie
Jon Hurly
Josh Ficke
Steve Wilkinson
Bruce Dinsmore
Matthew Lee
Matt McFee
Jay Petervary: Winner and new record holder...2400 miles in less than 16 days!!!!
Matt Kemp
Nathan Bay
Jeff Kerby
Alex Field
Jon Billman
go to- for more info on this incredible race!!!!

Thursday's effort: 123 minutes mostly on singletrack...felt great!
Friday's effort: 87 minutes mostly easy on gravel + cleaned up the bike real good

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Charlie's Summer Reading List: Book #2

After finishing the excellent, deeply captivating and yet very serious and very relevant and very important, "Speaking of Faith" by Krista Tippetts [five stars out of a possible 4 stars] I felt in need of a lighter read, so I am now just into a hilarious book titled, Round Ireland with a fridge, by Tony Hawks...after a night of hard-core libations and tough-talk, Hawks awakes to find the following signed contract next to his bed; I hereby bet Tony Hawks the sum of One Hundred Pounds that he cannot hitch-hike round the circumference of Ireland, with a refridgerator, within one calendar the die is cast for a super funny travel book...Like I said above, I am just into it, but it is a laugh a minute!!!! I can already give a thumbs-up this this book.......The Brits have a great sense of humor [Note: Similar in scope and tone, A Short Walk through the Hindu Kush is one of the funniest books I have ever read].

Feeding the Rat: 120 minutes+++ including a 40 minute early morning run and all day working to clear the land of trees for a fancy "earth-friendly" house...go figure, so it goes !!! The term, "Rational Man" is an oxymoron, in that we are so capable of ironic paradoxical absurd acts of folly...or is it oximoron?

Edward Hopper's The Cyclist--Hopper's work was inspired by a 24 hour indoor velo-race in Paris back in the 1930s

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Now you know the rest of the story......

Coming soon- An account of the incredible display of endurance by Brad Johnson last Sunday...The performance bodes well for his chances in making the coveted "LIST." Briefly, he raced at Mont du Lac, did very well, [the hardest MNSCS on the calendar], then he rode his bike back to Minneapolis...He rode to Moose Lake, but darkness came upon him, so he slept on a park bench until 3:00 a.m. on Monday morning, hunger and coldness awoke him...he got back on the mountain bike and rode the rest of the way less than 24 hours, he rode over 200 miles...then he went to work!!!!!!No big deal............

Feeding the Rat: 3 hours and 40 minutes on the bike...mostly easy riding with a few weak attempts at quad is sore, but I'm fired up for Sunday's WORS race in Eau great course for the Gunnar and the lightweight "Crows"

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mont du Lac Race Report: "...Like Rocky in Rocky I; Rocky knew there was no way he could beat Apollo"

Mont du Lac Race Recap from the Caboose…by C.P. Farrow

“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” Herbert Agar

Pop culture in all itz simplification likes to paint Einstein as the quirky wacky absent-minded professor linked to the generic notion that “itz all relative.” Of course, anyone that has taken Freshman Physics 101 can tell ya that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is incredibly complex […I lasted one semester, took my C- and never looked back]. While he was able to prove that things such as the passage of time were indeed “relative.“ Einstein, also paradoxically, believed in a set of absolute truths as well…One being that the annual Mont du Lac mountain bike race concedes no mercy to the weak of mind and feeble of body…

Last Sunday’s race course at Mont du Lac fits well into Einstein’s absolutist camp. Now this is unique in that most off-road race courses today, at least within the 300 mile radius of Duluth, favor the relativist aspect of Einstein‘s work. With a course belonging to the relativist’s camp, one can hide, one can pull off of and even to some degree control the pace of the stronger riders. Essentially ones performance is “relative” to his or her experience, race strategy, luck, equipment choices, etc. With pure bike-handing skill and climbing strength being relegated to just two of the many factors that combine to dictate the way the race ultimately plays out…In a course such as this [Ore-to-Shore is a good example], a less gifted rider has a much better chance to do well “relative” to his innate strengths as an athlete…these are the kinds of courses that give people like the writer a sense of hope. At Mont du Lac, “hope is a dangerous thing.”

Sunday’s race belongs to the former camp, absolutism to the core. A competition based on honest cold-hard facts: At this little family-owned ski resort next to the Saint Louis River community of Fond du Lac, thanks to the hard work of COGGS; men and women, young and old, were afforded the opportunity to face some hard truths regarding their prowess as off-road cyclists. For this writer, the course exploited all of his weaknesses as a bike racer [and as a highly flawed man]; from the initial in-your-face-disgrace-heart-exploding-straight-up-the-ski-hill start to the devilish-constantly-on-the-brakes-with-backside-hanging-off-the-back-of-the-saddle descents to the tight-root-infested-curvy-can’t take your-hands-off-the-handlebars-for-a-microsecond or you‘ll die single-track in-between. There was nowhere for him to hide, nowhere to pray for luck or to illicit shameless drafts or breathers, no big bottlenecks where an old guy can relax and recover, no flat sections or smooth rollers where the big 29er can let‘em roll…

In contrast, for the strong of heart, and certainly for the lean, hungry youthful talented ones this course allowed them to showcase their dominance over the rest of the field. This course lays bare ones abilities [or lack thereof], in that it clearly, as Harry Anderson likes to say, separates the “contenders from the pretenders.”

Happily, there were many of my friends that did contend. Aaron Swanson of Ashland, Wisconsin won the Comp class! Thatz a great accomplishment, especially given the fact that methinks he is the only guy in Ashland that regularly races. Sarah Kylander-Johnson easily won the women’s title. She caught me early on the first lap and let me bear witness to the fact that she was flying. Jesrin Gaier from Hayward, a young man not yet legal to take pleasure and sustenance from the fermented barley nectar and yet with tons of potential took 6th place. Sam&Eric Oftedahl, young men that both ride fast bikes and more importantly respect their elders did outstanding “honest” work finishing 2nd and 7th respectively. My good friend, Scotty Johnson [Sarah’s hubby] did very well in finishing in the 8th spot! Brad Johnson, younger brother of Scotty and son of Irv Johnson not only rode to a 10th place finish, afterwards he rode home...he lives near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis!!! Jay Richards, consummate good-guy from Maplelag finished in 9th… Joel Calahan, my Arrowhead savior, beat my good friend and rival Jan Rybar. This is an impressive effort in my limited, biased world-view as Jan is a top-notch climber. The Russian Rocket, Nikolai, did very well finishing just behind Rybar while Harry Anderson [an elite cyclocrosser and dedicated humanitarian] finished a respectable 17th place. Tim Ek, foremost an enduro-cyclist did very well finishing in the 20th spot. Joe McGraver, Bart Rodberg, and Todd McFadden [Todd's got a back gone bad and a baby on the way] all finished, but I suspect they were not happy. But fear not as all are tough and all three will live to fight another day!!!!

Greg Tischler and I [and one other poor pathetic soul] brought up the rear. I was a hurtin’ cowboy, hurtin‘ real bad…as usual I had found several trees with my name on them, one in particular whacked me real hard in my right drumstick area, in the tradition of Rodney King... “Twas once in the saddle I used to go ridin'… Once in the saddle I used to go gay… First lead to drinkin', and then to card-playing… I'm shot in the breast and I'm dying today…Let six jolly cowboys come carry my coffin… Let six pretty gals come to carry my pall… Throw bunches of roses all over my coffin… Throw roses to deaden the clods as they fall…Oh, beat the drum slowly, and play the fife lowly… And play the dead march as you carry me along… Take me to the green valley and lay the earth o'er me… For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong :)" [lyrics from the classic, Streets of Loredo]…

Anyway as I was humming the Streets of Loredo, Greg caught me on the last lap, just as they was gettin’ ready to ’lay the earth o’er me‘…and Greg’s like, “This is just like in Rocky I!” So I bite and say, “Howz that?” Tischer is a big ole boy, full of muscles, but the kind better suited for bar-room brawlin' than climbing ski hills on a bike on a hot humid summer mid-day, so he was a hurtin’ cowboy just like me, so he aint talkin’ too good, but he gets out, “Rocky knew he couldn’t beat Apollo, he knew there was no way…Rocky figured the very best he could hope for was to just last the 15 rounds, thatz how I am looking at this thing.” It was a CLASSIC observation…An absolute truth...I had to laugh, it was great stuff!!! So it goes for a guy that should know better than to partake in a race of truth where there ain't nowhere to hide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feeding the Rat: 2 hours and 37 minutes...nice easy ride w/ my sore right quad to keep me company

Saturday, June 23, 2007

All This Weekend in Duluth: Bogus Baby Boomer Biker Wanna-Bees w/ Bandanas Band together to cause Bothersome Bottle-necks...

Are we out-of-line? Are we missing something? Could it be that we are unpatriotic, behind the times, reactionary, retroactive? Can it be that it is just my daughter and me that find the middle-aged fat guyz w/the stars & stripes bandanas coupled with their tight fitting leather-clad "chicks" racing their super loud brand-new shiny Harley's through the hilly streets of Old Duluth a bit too much????? Am I way off base here, people? Am I becoming a bitter old man? Yet my kid agrees w/me. My little Sophie sez to me today regarding the thousands of Harley dudes packing-up in town [safety in numbers?]; "Dad, itz soooo loud, itz like they want everyone to notice them and they never smile, how does that work???" I'm all like, "Good question, got me, maybe they got cut from the varsity team when they were in high school?" So it goes.........

Follow the trials & tribulations of those battling the EPIC GDR...ITZ GREAT STUFF...The stuff of dreams!!!! [click here]

The Great Divide Race is on....itz an amazing "unsupported" endurance event!!!! More to come on this mythological-like drama that is playing itzself out upon the great mountain ranges of the Western United States...Briefly, in the tradition of the wayward vision-quest seekers; First Homer [8th or 7th century BC]...then much later Lewis & Clark [~1804]...and now in the 21st century mounted on bikes, battling among many other obstacles, red-necks in mega-trucks, global warming, and canceled credit-cards [not to mention broken bike frames, tens of thousands of elevation gain and loss, etc...] we have about two dozen or so intrepid modern adventurers pitting lung, muscle, and brain power against the grand "peaks and valleys" [literal and metaphorical :)] of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico...over 2400 miles...the record is about 16 days!!! Pretty Cool...definitely on my list of things to do...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tiny Houses [click here for cool website]

Check out [see above]...Regarding biking news: Got my trusty simple Gunnar 29er all cleaned up, lubed; ready to go for Sunday's big race @ Mont du Lac. It was a glorious sunny summer day in Duluth [temp. hit 55 degrees at our house], Sophie and I caught a big painted turtle in the afternoon...we harassed it for a while and then released it back into the pond in which we caught it to the tune of [sung with great gusto, with a tinge of irony, but sincere emotional feeling and unbridled volume]"born free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, born free to follow your heart, BECAUSE You're BORN FREE....born free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, born free to follow your heart, BECAUSE You're BORN FREE...BORN FREE" I am resting the legs...and carbing up on fermented barley products...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tumbleweed Tiny House Company

My Dream House...this is the kind of house that I am gonna to retire in...Google "Tumbleweed Tiny House Company" and check out the tiny houses...this is the direction we should be going in, instead of the McMansions and the McTownhouses...oh yeah and it won't be anywhere near a lake...or a golf course for that matter!!!


The Zany Zealous Zeeman Effect: Did more work today "readying" the land for a new modern home complete with geo-thermal heat...still it feels kinda hypocritical? One thing is clear; Man is an imperfect paradoxical species. I am taking 120 minutes cuz I worked hard today...4 hours with Mike and Scotty and then 4 more hauling dirt for the boss at I put on the big tires w/stans tubeless for the Mont du Lac race on Sunday

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hard Work...Good work...sweat & toil...makes a man appreciate what he's got!

Yoking the Youthfulness: Worked hard today with two of my good buddies clearing the land...just like the pioneers use to do...I am didn't ride but I'm still taking 120 minutes...I deserve it!!! It was a great time w/ two of my favorite people, Mike Haag and Scotty Johnson and I even got a free lunch out of the deal...I am a LUCKY MAN!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Where have all the mountain bike courses gone?

Back in the day, but not that long ago, maybe ten years ago or so, a guy had to really know how to ride a mountain bike and also be able to go hard for three hours or more in order to compete at the Expert level [I remember guyz like Joe Parkin used to win these races in three hours and I'd pull in an hour later] most of the courses in the Midwest are all essentially glorified cyclocross Mc-courses that take about 90 minutes to complete, EXCEPT the TWO Race Courses in the Duluth Area...Mont du Lac is in wicked condition ready to do some serious damage to all those expensive foreign-made carbon-fiber hot rods with all that fancy suspension travel and hydraulic fluids and such...I had forgotten how challenging that course is, especially if itz a little muddy...I'll need Ms. Lady Luck shining on me come Sunday afternoon...thatz a given!

Sunday is Race Day @ Mont du Lac!!!! Pre-road the course this afternoon with Scotty, Sara, Todd, and Mike...It was a blast!!!! 120 minutes and I felt good, so the rest of ya should just stay home :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Charlie's Amateurish Summer Reading List: A New Feature, with no extra charge!

Reading lots of books in the Summer. Certainly itz a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with being locked out of the school that I love…I know itz part of a process of denial, of self-medication…A vehicle from which to forget about all my “above average” students and their hunger for knowledge. All teachers go through this angst during these depressive summer months, some go to Alaska, some go mountain biking in Colorado, some drink in their hot-tubs…for me I try to get through these dark times by reading lots of books. So I am embarking on a new amateurish feature on this website. An inconsistent feature, none-the-less, dedicated to promoting or demoting the particular book that I am currently reading…Right now I am reading, Speaking of Faith by Krista Tippett [Creator and host of Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith]. It is most excellent, the following is a brief excerpt:

“In Christianity alone among the major religious traditions, sharp battle lines have been drawn since the Enlightenment between the content of knowledge that religion describes and the form of knowledge that science pursues. The extremes of both positions are intolerant toward the very notion of the other worldview. They calcify into political modes of ideology and combative certainty. They collapse the sense of mystery that is as alive at the heart of science as of religion, two kindred never-ending pursuits of revelation and discovery…”

It is a great read, [five stars out of four stars] and highly compelling, highly rational, highly hopeful and inspiring, yet realistic and complex, and most of all; highly thought-provoking…Ms. Tippett is a top notch journalist and humanitarian. There are still so many great things about America...I just hope we can survive another 16+ long months of the NEO-CONS w/o too much more permanent damage to our society and to our global reputation, but I digress... From the jacket cover: “She came up with the idea for Speaking of Faith while consulting for the internationally renowned Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at Saint John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota.” Note: This author spent three undergraduate semesters studying at Saint John’s University where I took two political courses from the late Dr. James Murphy, probably the best teacher I ever had, so it goes…Ironically, I found St. John's U. to be too narrowly focused for my youthful chaotic, hedonistic game plan...But in any event, Read this book as it’s a call for a reflective effort by all of us to get back on track, get back to thinking and acting upon what is truly important about the American Experience…This book is available at the Duluth Public Library. I'll be done with it in a few dayz, so go check it out...

Wanton Waffling: Worked on the race course with da boyz out at Mont du Lac...itz gonna be a great course, a REAL MOUNTAIN BIKE COURSE...The fun is this Sunday...Experts race @ 1:00 P.M. I am pumped!!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Salomon S-lab XA Pro 3 product review by an amateur non-runner; namely this author…

[photos by J.P. Peters]
My buddy, teaching comrade, soon-to-be-principal-bossman, local running/snowshoe racing phenom [current Snowshoe National Champion--2007 and 2006], and training maven, Greg Hexum is a top notch, sponsored athlete that from time to time gets gear from “his people” to pass out to the proletariat minions in an effect to get feed-back. Presumably they want to get a feel about what will sell from the “great unwashed.” I guess it makes good business sense for these major sports brands, as I suppose I am in the marketing segment of serious, albeit aging weekend warrior-athletes that will spend top dollar on any and every device, aid, and/or technological innovation that will allow us to think that we could beat or at least stay in sight of our younger counterparts.

So, in any event, Greg generously provided me with a pair of very fancy-pants trail running shoes made by Salomon [Note: this is not the first time he has done this for me, in fact I cannot remember the last time I bought a pair of shoes…so the least I can do is write up an honest thought-provoking analysis of this particular shoe]. They are specifically labeled “S-lab XA Pro 3” and they are bright "devil" red and they have this little gator-like wrap thang that velcros around ones ankles. First off I love the name, “S-Lab XA Pro” as it is very cryptic but in a totally “Pro” kind of way!!! Itz like, I could tell you what the XA stands for but then I'd have to kill you!

For the very important Socio-economic-environmental grade, Salomon gets a “B” for the following reasons [Note ya can‘t get an “A“ unless you manufacture the product within a 500 mile radius of Duluth, Minnesota, so a “B“ is pretty darn good, probably the best a shoe company can get in my world, for comparison purposes, My Gunnar gets an "A+"]: The company, Salomon, which published its inaugural social and environmental report in 2001 (a first for the sporting goods industry), has attracted favorable notice for its activities related to its Standards of Engagement. Folks that watch this kind of thing note that the company was ranked first in its industry on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2004, up from fourth a year earlier. "Much of this improvement is attributed to the compliance work the company is doing with its international suppliers." In 2004, adidas-Salomon ended relationships with 32 non-complying supplies worldwide." I also found that the brightness of the shoe worked well in keeping my students glued to my lectures...see above pic...

For the subjective Performance grade: “A” for durability and traction., but “D-“ for instilling elements of the Protestant work-ethic and acting against cult-like tendencies and/or activities in potential maladapted buyers.

First the performance, which is top notch: I don’t run very often as a suffer from a chronic overactive gland, but the few times that I have taken a run on the local trails in the last couple of months, these shoes did very well. They are hard to get on and off as the Velcro thingies are obtrusive, but once they are on itz a good fit. I like the fact that the DEVIL RED fabric is very very tough. And the sole is really tough and somewhat sticky. Itz a good shoe, total high quality, in fact itz too much shoe for my abilities. I have tried to abuse them...I have mowed the lawn with them on, gone hunting frogs with my kid with them on, done serious weed-eating with a full-on heavy duty weed-eater with them on, done rock wall work with them on and they still look like new. You can ask anybody that knows me and they'll tell ya that I am hard on gear, so the durablity factor is high on these shoes, and yet they seem to breathe pretty well. Also, they seem light enough and I like the flex in the fore. Seriously, they are good hard-core trail shoe...but I'll bet they cost a pretty penny. So a guy has to weigh it out...will these shoes be the difference? I don't know, but I doubt they could hurt a guyz chances...

Now for the negatives: The low grade on instilling a proper protestant work ethic stems from its visual redness which affords the potential for people to join cults and/or other counterproductive institutions: Unfortunately according to several of the young people enrolled in my study hall at school, there appears to be visual elements of the “S-lab XA Pro 3” that could potentially be used by evil-doers to brainwash cult-susceptible people. These kids, all savvy consumers, felt like that if these shoes were to fall into the hands of a Mass Manipulator, he or she could do great damage to our social infrastructure. They were kind enough to dramatically portray what could potentially happen...see above pics of actors portrayed as the infamous Jim Jones and his "fallen" flock of followers :)

On a positive note and contrary to those that felt that the shoe could be used by charismatic, albeit evil manipulators to draw both young and old people into Jim Jones-like cults; to many of the young people, the heart redness color scheme gave a sense of real love. Young love, forbidden love, the kind of love that can usurp any kind of potential cult-making or hero-worship...again refer to above pics...

Various quotes from young people that were forced to stay in a closed off room with the shoes for 50 minutes on a hot 6th hour in Mr. Farrow’s classroom in late May of 2007-

"I think itz a sweet shoe. But whatz with the ankle skirt- it scares me?”
Kaleb L.

“What sport is it for?” Erik R.

“I wouldn’t date a boy that wore those shoes, unless it was Sean.” Molly M.

“The shoe is cool, but the color reminds me of that creepy Ronald McDonald dude.” Yakki

“The ankle sleeve would be good for preventing ticks. Seems well made, like it would hold up well. ” Alex Q

Viceroy of Vice: 97 minutes on the bike today!!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lots of sore people in Duluth tonight what with a hot, humid Grandma's race today and all!

Grand Ma's Marathon was held today in Duluth, itz a big deal, the whole town comes out in support of the runners...We always make an effort to cheer on the racers. Running over 26 miles is kudos to all the finishers. The name, "marathon", comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, who was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been miraculously defeated in the Battle of Marathon. It is said that he ran the entire distance without stopping, but moments after proclaiming his message to the city he collapsed dead from exhaustion [source: Da Internet]. Ya gotta admire that Greek dude, total out-put w/ no gu or hammer-gel, like totally red-lining, followed by a totally awesome, full-on, righteous, major, career-ending BONK!!!! :)Oh yeah, I missed cheering for Brent Smith it goes....

United Underachievers: 101 minutes of pretty good pace out towards Two Harbors...still sore...starting to worry that I'll be a hurtin' cowboy come next Sunday @ Mont du Lac...

Friday, June 15, 2007

"Like a Good Neybur, STATE FARM is There...Don't believe it, Chump!" They goin' to steal your here to found out how!!!!

I am adverse to those that are in the risk-adverse business. Hey, it aint none of my business what folks do to earn a livin’ and maybe itz just that I’m sore cuz I just got laid off from a job that I love [I’m a public school teacher and they lock us out almost every June and they don’t call us back ‘til September], but I’d think the Insurance Agents of the world got some explainin’ to do when we all waitin’ at them Pearly Gates. Here’s an example of what I’m talkin’ bout…an acquaintance was givin’ me a hard time last night about bein’ a risk junkie…sayin’ things like, “you oughta know better, than goin’ off and doin’ all those reckless thangs, ‘specially since you got a kid and all.” I'm like, whatz the worst that can happen? She’s like, “you could get your sorry self killed!” I’m like, “gonna die anyway…sooner or later” so it goes…She and her old man, they INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTs…you know, “Like a good neighbor…U in good hands.” WHATEVER…wagerin' on when a man gonna die or ifin' his house gonna flood or burn, don't seem right to me...

Swimming w/ Snakes: 122 minutes going good for how beat up I am….

Thursday, June 14, 2007

RED ASSiniboine Race Recap...

Red Assiniboine 300 Race Recap in light of a quote from one of the sacred Hebrew texts:

“Never expose yourself unnecessarily to danger; a miracle may not save you...and if it does, it will be deducted from your share of luck...” The Talmud

I have no doubt of the contextual authenticity and even the historical correctness of the above quote from The Talmud, I mean back in the day of ferocious wild beasts, marauding mean-spirited Vikings, malcontented Visigoths, and behaviorally-impaired Inquisitors just surviving a normal day for those Jewish guyz was probably cause for celebration, so to go willy-nilly looking for danger in such an environment clearly could be construed as reckless and even harmful to the whole of the tribe, [The Talmud is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history]. However, it seems to me that to live exclusively by such a creed in today’s sterile America, would essentially condemn one to a life of secure boredom. No thanks! In today’s McAmerica, A little real danger is what the vast majority of the population needs. Of course there is a fundamental difference between perceived danger and real danger. For example, there is absolutely no danger in playing a paramilitary computer game or even bungee jumping for that matter. There is some real danger involved with trying to climb a mountain, such as the Grand Teton. Sans guide company and trade route the danger factor exponentially increases, etc. Danger enables us to appreciate safety. Putting this author on a bike in Canadian farm country with the goal of racing said bike for 300 miles involving complex navigational skills is dangerous, there's just no doubt about it! Maybe even dangerous enough to imperil the whole Northern Hemisphere! :)

Now my dear Mom likes to say that miracles happen every day, but if the above parameter from the Talmud is to be believed, there is a definitive amount of miracles floating about and therefore we better use each and every chunk of luck as if it were the last chunk available. Plus, to complicate matters even more, the above Talmudic code does not seem to offer or quantify how much “share” of the luck is out there for individual dispersal. Being an optimistic, I’d like to think that there is a huge surplus of luck banked somewhere in the heavens just waiting to be retrieved and put to good use. Okay…stay with me I am getting ready to transition to the bike race!

In any event, over the last month or so I have used up a fairly substantial amount of free-floating, albeit apparently finite luck in pursuit of a rather dangerous activity. Racing a mountain bike is a relatively dangerous endeavor for most people. For an aging man with failing eye sight, mild dementia, poor decision making skills, and questionable coordination, there can be no doubt that racing a mountain bike is pretty dangerous. So I have begun to rely quite regularly on luck as if it was an infinite resource, not unlike my neighbors that buy Hummers, speedboats, and ATV/snowmobiles and dump hundreds of gallons of oil and gas in them each and every week.

For example, I totally lucked out @ the Cable Classic. The hit I took upon landing after ramming that barrier should have realistically put me out for the season, but I damn well lucked out!!! Two weekends ago at the start of the Wausau WORS race again I was involved in a serious crash and again I lucked out…But my most recent and significant luckiest moments of the season so far came during this last weekend’s Red Assiniboine 300. A 300 mile mostly gravel road race up near Winnipeg, Manitoba. Surely by anyone’s measure, going 300 miles on the back roads of rural Canada mostly unsupported has elements of danger to it. The fact of the matter is that I was able to enjoy a wonderful experience all really because of some extraordinary luck. Therefore, the following is a documentation of a series of lucky events that ultimately put me at the finish line of the Red Assiniboine 300 at 4:10 a.m. on last Sunday morning.

Lucky event number one--Tim Ek’s essential advice and support in preparing for the race. Tim completed the Trans-Iowa race back in late April in fine form. Lucky for me, he was very willing to generously share with me the many nuances and/or tricks involved with pulling off a race of this statue. My hope is to one day join forces with Mr. Ek on some far-flung cycling adventure as I think we would be a solid team. He is a tough focused humanitarian and I am a lucky guy with a glandular problem…and a powerful drive for Guinness Stout and other ales...

Lucky event number two involved meeting up with Dave Simmons and his two buddies from North Dakota; namely Nathan Barten and Rick Mangan. Hooking up with these guyz put a total positive spin on the whole weekend. They are a fun bunch of very nice fun-loving cyclists that enjoy the preparation and the comradeship of these kinds of events as much as I do. In youthful exuberance, Nathan was bent on riding a “fixie” for the 300 miles, but alas while he fought the good fight, the distance was just too far to ride such a set-up, even for a young tiger like Nathan. While Rick did not race, he was an integral part of the success of the weekend as he was incredibly organized and helpful. I totally lucked out meeting up with those three guyz. I met them at the pre-race meeting being held @ DeLuca‘s, an amazing full-on Italian restaurant complete with spicy pasta drenched in top-notch virgin olive oil. I arrived late, so the food had already been distributed and eaten by the rest of the crowd. Not wanting to cause any undo problems, I sat back content to listen to the remaining instructions and to find some generic caloric sustenance after the meeting adjourned. As luck would have it, Rick pointed out to me a beautiful young woman [presumably one of DeLuca’s daughters] and in no uncertain terms instructed me to see her and to explain my circumstances. Rick has a confidence about him that is contagious, so with out hesitation I followed his instructions and within minutes I was enjoying wonderful pasta and pizza.

Lucky event number three involves the heaven-sent headwind. It was lucky for me because it made riding in a group a necessity. In all bike racing, I tend to start off way too fast and then limp into the finish. Yet, every once in awhile this strategy works for me, so I just go with it on the off chance that I will finish strong. At my age and ability, I am always willing to take risks. I mean why not? Itz not like I’m saving myself for the Tour of France or the Olympics! This headwind prevented me from doing something stupid like trying an early breakaway, which was something that I was contemplating if the conditions were right. The idea being that such a break would be my only possibility of winning. I would make a break near the start of the race (within the first 50 miles), the rest of the group would take the maneuver as the workings of a crazed fool and let me go. I would go hard until I bonked, but I would have enough left to eek out the win. While such a plan may possibly work at the Arrowhead 135 where conditions can drastically change, such a strategy, given my ability and the nature of this race would have been mere folly in that it would have been a clear invitation for disaster as I am sure that I would have gotten lost. In fact it is perhaps such absurd ideas that the Talmud cautions against? The course was probably 85% gravel, 10% old asphalt, and 5% dirt B-type was mostly flat, but there were a few really big hills, in fact we walked three of the big hills. We were cruising, especially the first half. Initially, we were a group of six riders lead by a charismatic fellow originally from Winnipeg and now living in Newark, Delaware with his wife and two young children, Blair Saunders. Due to the significant headwind, Blair [clearly the strongest rider from the onset] orchestrated the tempo, with each guy pulling for three or four minutes..."if you feel strong go for four" was my motto...[most of the time when I looked at the speed it was between 31 and 29 kilometers per hour]. About half the group would pull for around four minutes and the other guyz would pull for two or three minutes, Blair always doing more than his share at the front...Again there was a really strong headwind, so it was a huge difference in effort exerted between leading and pulling...

Eventually the group started to fall apart (as all things do) with Dave Simmons dropping off with a tightening back and so on and so on and so by the 70 mile mark or so there were just three of us left...Blair, a streamlined and youthful 41 years old, me at a crusty disorientated 47, and Marty at an amazing Dorian Gray-like 56!!! Mr. Saunders reminds me of an older Doug Swanson, he is built like Doug with those long legs endowed with a seemingly effortless pedaling stroke. Also, like Doug, he is very amicable and cheerful, sort of unaffected by his obvious superior talent. Blair was on a really sweet handcrafted Van Dessel ti/carbon cross bike with bars set-up so he could rest on his elbows, but the majority of the guyz were on mountain bikes, several on 29ers. In asking around about bike selection it seemed that the general consensus among the locals was that the roads were too bumpy for the long haul on a cross bike. Lots of “washboard” and unconsolidated crushed rock on the gravel, did make it tricky to ride in a tight group or at night. I was on a steel cross bike, equipped with flat bars, which worked great for me. Although, next year I would consider riding my 29er or at least going with bigger tires [I ended up getting 2 flats and lots of other guyz got flats as well from hitting big pot holes]. Blair Saunders was running tubes with slime, which is a plan that I might go with in the future.

Lucky event number four involves throwing myself at the mercy of Marty Halprin. As implied above, Marty is a majestic looking older gentleman in his late fifties that is for lack of a better description, “tough as nails.” A jeweler by trade, he is a long time avid, talented cyclist, whose real strength it seems is on the road. I don’t know, but from riding with him for over twenty hours, I would wager that he is a top-notch time-trialer. In any event, let me set the stage for my redemption: I had left the start thinking that a camelbak full at 70 fluid ounces, a big bottle in my bike cage at 24 fluid ounces, and another bottle of 24 fluid ounces in the back pocket of my jersey would be sufficient for hydration. From experience these 118 fluid ounces are enough to get me through about four to five hours of good effort and so with four checkpoints along the way with water, the plan was that I would be good to go in terms of staying hydrated. Well into a remote part of the race between checkpoint #1 and checkpoint #2 having drained my camelbak and my bottle on the bike, I reached back to grab my jersey bottle to discover that it was missing. Certainly part of the effect was psychological, but I immediately started to feel like I was drying up. I could feel the strength ebbing from my legs, I started to feel light headed. I started to panic. I was desperate to stay with Blair and Marty not only for the efficiency of riding in a group, but more importantly I had no directions as the rest of my cue sheets were waiting from me at Checkpoint #2. I had miscalculated about the checkpoints mistakenly thinking that we would have a drop bag waiting for us at Checkpoint #1, when in fact the drop bags were at the second checkpoint. So at that point I was riding with no ability to solo navigate . In a stupor and probably somewhat ashamed, I waited to assert my dilemma until I was starting to experience leg cramps. Riding at the back, I was cursing myself, “How could you be so $%#@ stupid? You are totally screwed!!!” Finally, I think in despair I uttered something like, “Hey fellas I am out of water…I’m bonking…I’ll need to stop and find some water…” Now lets be clear: this wasn’t no picnic, no Saturday tour as these guyz are competitive, (you can tell by the hunger in their eyes) and it was totally my screw-up plus water was in short supply with them as well, so I would not have blamed them…but just as the proverbial curtain was falling on my Canadian d├ębut, just as I bowing out to face my self-prescribed destiny out in the dusty farmlands ALONE, (“with no direction home, like a rolling stone“), Marty pulled out one of his bottles, handed it to me and ordered me to drink. “Drink all of it”, was his command. So I drank the life-giving nectar of embodiment with a smile on my face for Lady Luck was back in my camp in the personification of a designer of custom jewelry endowed with Herculean quads from the hinterlands of Canada! Miraculously and almost instantaneously I could feel my strength return…A saved man, we rode on together to the second checkpoint.

Lucky event number five involves aspects of the adage,"Man has always been his own most vexing problem." Essentially what we have is a series of ironic, paradoxical, even strangely chance events that ultimately allow the stronger, albeit community-minded Blair to cut the cord from Marty and I, which in hindsight was the best for all concerned. Again upon reflection, the fact of the matter was that Marty and I were pretty close in speed, endurance, etc. and therefore formed a symbiotic relationship, whereby in contrast we had become parasitic in terms of our relationship with the stronger Blair. Of course, at the time I was well into the advanced stages of what Barbara Tuchman, the acclaimed historian, would have coined, “the march of folly” in that I was still thinking and acting like we could hold onto to Blair, use and abuse Blair and that maybe in the end I would cut a deal with the devil and have a chance at winning the damned thing out-right. I don’t apologize for these thoughts because I am convinced that these Don Quixote-like notions are what allow me to stay positive during these endurance challenges and like Quixote I am completely harmless, if not but a little annoying. Now at this point in the narrative it is important to note that we were well into this bad boy [over 200 miles and ten+ hours into it] so I was in full-blown dementia…so the following simply cannot be regarded as anything resembling accuracy. I am simply putting ink to paper in as best as I can recall the subsequent events after leaving the third checkpoint. Marty was getting blasted in the hills after leaving the checkpoint partly because he is a roadie from the flatlands, partly because he aint no spring chicken, and also because he was on a mountain bike that had a front shock that would not lock out, so he could not stand and crank like Blair and I. In any event, he was getting dropped on the hills and I could tell that Blair was itching to go. I was thus put in the tenuous position of essentially choosing with whom to throw my allegiance. To be honest I cannot remember exactly how it played out, but I remember that I went with Blair and then I think we missed a turn and therefore had to back track which allowed Marty to catch us up. Now this turned out to be very lucky for me as I am now quite sure that I would not have been able to hold Blair’s wheel. So I would have eventually gotten dropped and knowing my navigational abilities, I would have gotten totally lost. Anyway, it all worked out well as Blair took off and won the event in a little over 21 hours. Marty and I worked well together throughout the night and finished the course about 100 or so minutes behind Blair. Riding into and through the darkness is always a challenging proposition. Into the wee hours of the night, I was very fatigued and yet we were able to carry a lot of momentum and consistent speed. Marty and I worked well together each taking our fair share at the front, although I do think that when it was all said and done, Marty probably did more work at the front when it was just the two of us.

Lucky event number six involves meeting all the very cool Canadians up north…the two guyz that won the single-speed category are most definitely worthy of note: Chris Huebner and Tomek Jasiakiewez finished a few hours after Marty and I despite being hammered with rain. I got a chance to socialize with them at the Lockery residence, which was very nice. Note: We lucked out and missed most of the rain!!!

Lucky event number seven is that my schedule was just too crazy in April to consider doing the Trans-Iowa III. The Trans-Iowa is a 300 mile race and the model by which the Red Ass 300 is copied. Missing the T.I. allowed me to sign-up for the Red Ass 300, so it goes for the lucky…

In closing I want to thank all the volunteers and organizers that put tons of effort into making this a top-notch event. Lindsay Gauld [super nice guy, force behind the event, former owner of Olympia bike shop, and amazing cyclist, former Olympian. Note: My friend here in Duluth remembers him from the 2005 Trans-Canada where he dislocated his shoulder, but refused to quit], Don Sissons for his great enthusiasm, Andy Lockery [They had the BBQ @ his place post race--his lovely wife was passing out beers to the recovering cyclists, for a moment I thought I had died and went to cycling heaven!!!] , Scott Wiebe, owner of Olympia Cycle & Ski [A great store that should not be missed if in Winnipeg], DeLuca’s Italian restaurant [very close to the Olympia bike shop], and the many others….Finally, huge kudos to Dean Gies from Duluth's Ski Hut. Dean is the best bike mechanic in the WORLD, plus he is a first-rate, A-#1 progressive scholar and gentleman!!! In sum, THE RED ASS 300 was a BLAST!!!!!!!!!!! At least thatz the way I am going to remember it?

Tempting the Terrapins: 70 minutes going real easy...still a bit sore...maybe more so than I'd like to admit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Feeling better all the time!

Feeding the Rat again: 90 minutes on Tuesday and 86 minutes on Wednesday...very easy with sore posterior and assorted other aches and pains, but I have not lost the will to fight!!!! Working on the RED Assiniboine Race Recap...and getting fired up for the Mont du Lac week from Sunday. I also cleaned up my trusty Gunnar. I should be able to ride on the trails in a couple days. It was a beautiful day today in Duluth...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cheatin' fate & lovin' it...Reverting back down to the bottom tier of Maslow's Triange:)[Click here for specifics]

I am back from Winnipeg a better man, albeit slightly sore!!! It was a blast and a better bunch of guyz and galz, I'll never meet...My first general reaction: Canada is a forward-thinking progressive country, a country quite comfortable with itz direction and itz approach to the 21 century [can the same be said about the U.S.ofA.?]; but I digress! ...A full account of the RED ASS 300 is forth coming, so for now, suffice to say...Toward around the nineteenth hour or so, my companion [Marty] and I were just barely existing at the very bottom of old Maslow's Triangle and lovin' every minute of a nihilistic twisted sort of way that is at the moment hard for me to articulate, perhaps I am blocked because of a recent lack of high quality colon medicine [aka Bell's Kalamazoo Stout] :)

For all the official details click above on where it sez "click" or you'll have to settle from my forth coming highly idealized biased race recap...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Kids & Bikes...Pretty Cool

I am the one holding the bike over my head :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"Plan accordingly, do your cost/benefit analysis, get appropriate intelligence, but when the shooting starts--cover your head & run like hell"

Planning for the Red Ass 300...It don't mean nothin' But for those of you that like this sort of thing...Note: I firmly believe the adage: “One cannot really understand something, unless he really thinks about it and then writes about it.” In any event, the following are aspects of how I plan to approach this weeekend's festivities...a 300 mile race, all on gravel and dirt roads and trails...

The Pre-race meeting is on Friday night and the race starts at 6:00 a.m. At the start one gets a cue sheet for the first 100 miles--So at Mile 100, one signs in and gets a new cue sheet for the next 100 miles....also at Mile 100 [and again at Mile 200] there will be food and water available and a racer bag that is not to exceed certain specifications....then one heads out for the next 100 the next check point at is @ Mile 200...where ya get the last cue sheet. Itz a big loop in the barrens of Mantoba near Lake Winnipeg, some hills, but the wind will be the hero or villian, apparently it is very wet up there right now and there are chances for more rain during the race, so tire selection may be a it goes!

At the start, I think I will take off w/o lights and w/o warm clothing for the long night. [The plan being to save weight and to retrieve the "night gear" at the first checkpoint]. Also, I am thinking about NOT bringing the camelbak for the first 100 and to instead carry bottles and to have the camelbak waiting for me at Mile 100.
I am willing to take some the quest for going very light....Light is right, at least most of the time...

The overall strategy is this: Think of the race as essentially 3 separate races… [a much different mindset than in prepping for the winter-epic Arrowhead 135 which is completely self-supported and the Trans-Iowa which is semi-self-supported, in that racers can buy fuel, etc. at stores along the way].
• ____ Lube up big time!!!!
• ____ Apply sunscreen
• ____ Assess weather and dress accordingly
• ____ Good pasta, et. al. from Coop
* ____ wrap some duct tape around seat post

Race #1: The first 100 miles… Day conditions with some open stores in small farm towns...
Go with the Polish strategy of two jerseys: Ride with the lead group...don't do anything stupid until later on...:) Don't rest at Checkpoints!!!
• ____Carry one big bottle on the bike and carry 3 three in the jerseys [loaded with Perpetuem, E-caps, and Gel.
• ____ Carry small Hammer Gel bottle
• ____ Carry Park multi-tool
• ____Replenish fluids and food along the way using the store bought variety
• ____Carry two tubes
• ____Carry patch kit
• ____Carry chain tool
• ____Carry Canadian money…have enough $$$
• ____ Carry Visa Card
• ____ Carry Drivers license
• ____Carry one tire lever
• ____Carry pump
• ____ a few doses of Advil
• ____ a few doses of Tums
• ____ a few sore throat candies
• ____ dress according to weather
• ____ Carry sunglasses

NOTE: Have the following waiting @ Checkpoint #1—
o ____ Pick up Camelbak filled with Perpetuem, E-caps, and Gel [in the cooler]
o ____ Refill Hammer gel bottle
o ____ Pick up the second Cue Sheet
o ____ Have a copy of this check sheet in the bundle
o ____ have a marker to check off the items
o ____ Pick up the lights
o ____ Affix Petzl to helmet w/ zip ties
o ____ Have extra batteries already packed in the camelbak
o ____ Have access to zip ties
o ____ extra tubes
o ____ Affix light to handlebars
o ____ Have premixed and correct amounts of Perpetuem in baggies and packed in the camelbak
o ____ Have a few doses of caffeine in baggy
o ____ Have some e-caps w/ caffeine
o ____ Have cashews, etc…from Coop
o ____ Have 2 big bottles loaded and ready [Green Gatorade bottles][in the cooler]
o ____ Have Hammer gel quart bottle in the cooler
o ____ Have access to duct tape
o ____ access to new chain
o ____ Have the red frame pack available
o ____ Have access to Desitin
o ____ Re-lube w/ Desitin
o ____ Have access to change of shorts and jersey
o ____ Have access to leg warmers
o ____ Have access to wool craft top
o ____ Have access to socks
o ____ Have access to Craft cycling jacket
o ____ Have access to tums
o ____ Have access to sore throat candies
o ____ Have access to chain lube
o ____ Have access to Ski Hut hat

Ditch the following:
 ____Ditch first Cue Sheet
 ____Ditch the used bottles
 ____ Ditch used jerseys, but make sure that tools, etc. have been transferred to the camelbak.

Race #2: The second 100 miles…
Go into self-support mode…try to get all the gear into the camelbak, if in doubt ditch the wool craft layer for the craft cycling jacket. If the camelbak is too cumbersome, affix red frame pack and balance load. Suck it up and go…Don't be afraid to go alone...but be smart and ride with a group if possible...If an opportunity presents itself, take it...and risk it...Do not rest at the checkpoints!!!
If there are any stores, they close at 7:00 pm...

Race #3: The last 100 miles…If feeling good, go for it...attempt to gap the group early, so as to have time to recover if a metaphorical [or literal] wall is encountered. "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" or "fear and loathing in Canada." Also At Mile 200: Don't waste time...get in and out. Give the impression of health... This will be the real test...the last 100+ miles. Stay focused...DON"T GET LOST!!! But don't be afraid to ride alone...Be some caffeine

NOTE: Have the following waiting @ Checkpoint #2—
o ____ Refill Hammer gel bottle
o ____ Have cooler waiting
o ____ Have pre-measured and mix perpetuem and ecaps
o ____ jersey
o ____ socks
o ____ shorts
o ____ desitin
o ____ apply sunscreen
o ____ reload on calories w/ cashews etc…from Coop
o ___ extra tubes
o ___extra chain

Ditch the following:
 The lighting [if will most likely be dark]
 Switch camelbak for bottles?
 Jersey
 Socks
 shorts

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Plot Thickens

Call him Fred: ‘Monster Pig’ was raised on a farm
By The Associated Press
FRUITHURST, Ala. — The huge hog that became known as “Monster Pig” after being killed by an 11-year-old boy was raised on a farm where it had another name: Fred.

McFadden looks to be a strong candidate for Charlie's 2007 List of Most Impressive Cycling Accomplishments!

Working draft--Wausau Race Recap
Submitted by C.P. Farrow

Random musings on this weekend’s race—

Scotty and Sarah Kylander-Johnson’s amazing generosity and most delightful company…Itz great hangin’ with those guyz!!!

Sarah won again and looks to be setting herself up for a great racing season with possibly an effort at some of the big time Pro Races coming up later this summer. The Trek Guyz were there in full-on Trek Tent, Trek VW, etc. But don't get me wrong, these guyz are really cool and really supportive...Itz a grassroots approach and I totally promote TREK and itz generous support of several local talented riders, including Sarah, Doug Swanson, Tristan Schouten, etc...high-end Trek bikes are made right in Wisconsin [Howz that for an economic concept!]. These Trek Reps are cheerful and always willing to provide quick adjustments and to, in general, promote mtb racing in the Midwest at all levels and aspirations!!!! Kudos to TREK

Todd McFadden’s amazing display of fortitude and persistence. I couldn’t help but to think that this effort was surely a source of pride to Todd’s as yet unborn son. Todd broke his seat post off on the first lap and so he just rode for three hours in the hard driving rain and muddy conditions standing up…….I love that kind of thing, that kind of sheer tenacity….I would not have been more impressed if he would have won the race. [Note: please allow me a brief digression—Having a child changes everything, itz as soon as they bring the kid home, parents start to think about creating a legacy…itz cool as it gives one a sense of continuity and a unique perspective on the work one is able to complete while here on earth…Itz like, “hey maybe someday my kid will hear about how the old man finished a long hard mountain bike race with no seat…”

Both Mike Bushey and Joe McGraver are poised to have great seasons. Bushey was riding a brand new Specialized 29er with a rigid carbon fork and ONE SPEED [I think he said he was running a 36X16], while Joe was riding the stylish Blue Kelly 29er with a rigid steel fork. Mike commented that he was very pleased with the Specialized/White Brothers’ fork combo. Mike was only under eight minutes back from the winner, Brian Matter, finishing in the money at 10th place. Joe was not far back with a very good finish at 16th place. Jesrin Gaier [3rd place!] and Scott Chapin [12th] also both did outstanding work on that blustery Sunday. Brad Vieths also fought the good fight finishing in 49th place, beating 12 other “elite” racers. Mike Haag rode his very cool Phil Wood SS in the SS Class to VICTORY

Another amazing thing witnessed by the writer was a literal peleton of Amish bikers along Highway 29. The first group was comprised of easily forty girls totally decked out in full-on “going-to-church” Amish gear, complete with the bonnets and the aprons. Then farther up I encountered another large group of Amish boys in their traditional finery, including straw hats and old school boots. I surmised that they were all enroute to some kind of youth function. The scene put a huge smile on my face as I contemplated their compelling simplistic approach to the art of living. The world would be a better place if there were more Amish people out and about…Ya can't say that about most groups!!!

And another amazing thing witnessed by the writer at a McGas station near Wausau was a plethora of young Asian kids disemboweling from a smallish white utility van. As they kept coming and coming, and coming, I quickly took to counting and by the time the last kids left that van I was up to twenty-two. Let me repeat this, twenty kids probably 4 years to about 11 years and one old wore-out looking man for a total of twenty-three in a van…Just down the road from the it goes...

more to come: Mention Chris Peariso [he had a great race!] and Michelle Peariso [She was so great to give many hand-ups], Jan Rybar [a first rate gentleman], Dick Enberg [not sure about spelling, but a major positive force behind the area's mtb racing opportunities] for the author, well he found the big crash at the start and then also managed to bite it hard again on the second lap on a slippery descent...but I felt like I did pretty good considering my glandular problem and all :)

Friday, June 1, 2007

What itz gonna take to win the Red Assiniboine 300

Esko said "Congrats" and "Good-bye" to over 90 top-notch young people tonight. 94 minutes easy work on the bike...big race on it goes...ya don't know what ya got 'til itz gone...