Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Back from the brink.......

Race Recap in the works.....strange things happen to man that has been on his bike for 20+ hours, so it goes....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dealing with Lucifer...@ 9 Mile

Reflections on the events surrounding last year's 24/12 Hours @ 9 mile. This recap was originally submitted to the Team Ski Hut Website last August...Today, I just want to review some of the lessons learned to avoid repeating any previous mistakes. Note- Last year I did the 12 hour event, this year the parameters are expaned by two fold!!!

The below lessons and musings are a compilation of what worked (and not worked) for me. Of course on a personal level, one must experiment to see what indeed works. Also, I want the reader to know that I know that just because I do it a certain way or use a certain strategy does not make it even remotely the best way, so take the following for what it’s worth… but the overriding undeniable conclusion is that to enjoy success, one must have a detailed plan of action going into the event. One other comment--these ultra events allow the less talented and/or aged (like the writer) to be perhaps a little more competitive than in traditional two hour mtb races for obvious reasons…The bottom line is to get out and try one! Its six or even twelve times the fun of a typical mtb race. The segment below refers specifically and in detail to my experience regarding the 12 hours @ 9 mile. Only the most ardent will want to continue reading…[Note: Next year the NORBA 24 Hour National Championships will again be decided at 9 Mile, just 4 hours from Duluth.] My plan is to go for the whole 24 Hours thing next year with the goal being to, with proper training and forethought, prepare myself for a chance at a top eight finish [I rode a lot with the guy that ultimately finished in fourth place in the 24 hour event this time and I was able to glean some valuable insights from him]…I am fired up! A. Hydration, nutritional, and travel considerations: Get a really good couple of nights of sleep on the Wednesday and Thursday nights before the race. Don’t worry about sleeping well on Friday…Approach Friday night with the attitude that its no big deal if you do not sleep well. Use Friday night to get yourself ready for some good old fashioned biblical fire and brimstone suffering. Blow off the temptation to sleep in an air conditioned motel. Like I stated above, start getting your head right and get fired up for some good ole primordial fear and loathing. Drive down the day before with the windows down, sans air conditioning, listening with the volume wide open to some of those hard-core reactionaries on AM radio (like Savage Nation and/or Rush Limbaugh) and get yourself kind of thinking like mean-old Dick Cheney or bitter Karl Rove or one of those other surly Reaganite neo-conservatives…The drive down should get you feelin' sort of ornery, sweaty, itchy, and all bothered about how the ner-do-well liberals are spending half of your hard earned paycheck on protecting the snail darter and them illegal immigrants. Seriously, the dye is cast on Thursday, Friday is essentially part of the endurance event. Many studies have shown that the night before is not that big a deal. Bank up on good sleep on those two days prior to the night before the race. I advise using the night before to acclimatize and get use to feeling uncomfortable. Personally, I like to hit my head real hard on a lower tree branch as I put up my 25 year-old tent, hitting your hand with a hammer also works well to get your mind right...The Friday before the Nine Mile was perfect as my car was super hot and making this terrible roaring noise, I got caught up in a full-on road raging traffic jam in Soup-Town, and it rained and stormed all night. These events combined with my leaky tent provided me with a perfect precursor for Saturday’s show down with debauchery…Having a committed selfless support person that is there for every lap is paramount. We had Kate and she was totally awesome. Note: Next time, on the night before the race, I will make a concerted effort to set up a better landing pad, where upon finishing a lap, one can quickly and conveniently park the bike upright and access ones cooler (and tool kit, extra shoes, and lighting etc.). Again kudos to Kate…She was just GREAT! She can attest to the fact that I morph for lack of a better word, into a “manically half crazed lunatic” during these things. I am always right on the verge of totally self imploding, although I am always having fun… In all my bicycle racing and in all sports I have played, I make it my habit to totally blow off any conscious effort to pace myself and I therefore usually within about two or three hours become mentally incompetent. The only thing that revivals these long distance cycling events is an sick alpine effort in bad weather, but I digress…Bring at least Three coolers all with ice. Cooler #1 [needs to be a big one and full of ice] should contain the water bottles that have the fluid calories. The bottles have to be mixed up on the morning of the big event, due to problems with spoilage, etc. Bottles should be marked with numbers for each lap. For example Bottle #1 and #2 should contain 280 calories made up of Hammer Gel (w 50 mg of caffeine) Bottles #3 thru #10 should contain Perpetuem (260 calories per bottle). Bottles #11 & #12 should contain big dosages of Hammer Gel…and then repeat thru #13 up to #22 with the Perpetuem and then finish it out with Hammer gel or Red Bull for the last two laps. Cooler #2 should contain water bottles filled with cold water and one or two doses of Endurolyte capsules in each. Last week I put three caps in the bottles that I was consuming in the heat of the day. For this course, two bottles per lap works great. Even in very hot humid conditions 40 fluid oz is plenty; any more than that and itz counterproductive. Also, take a couple of Aleve or Iboos’ every three laps or so. Note: As an ardent committed drinker; for me the liquid diet works better than anything else I have tried. One does begin to feel hungry, but the lion hunts best on an empty stomach. Even after 12 hours going with just liquid calories my throat was still somewhat sore. Last winter, during the Arrowhead 135 my throat got so sore that it was impossible to eat any solids. Cooler #3 should contain six or so super cold sponges. This can be a small cooler, and the sponges are great. On a couple of the laps during the hottest part of the day, I stuck several on my person. A couple on my neck and even two stuck up the legs of my cycling shorts. Keep the sponges in your pocket and then upon arriving to ones base camp, exchange for a set of new super-cold ones. It gives one something to look forward to. Also, when ya get a fresh pair of water bottles, drink the cold water first as it really hit’s the spot.Pre-race meals: The night before the race at around 8:00 I ate a relatively small portion of a wild rice casserole with a some chicken etc. I bought it at the Whole Foods Coop and it was great. Also drank two beers--Nectar of the gods. Note: Make sure they are good beers cuz they may be your last! For breakfast at 6:45 or so (three hours before the start) I ate a small portion of a very good spicy potato casserole-type thingy, again purchased from the Coop and two bananas. I also bought a nice cup of strong coffee from the dudes at the trailer that frequent many of these venues. Note: try and really drink a lot of water all day long on Friday. On the drive over to Wausau, bring a couple of pee bottles and pee on the fly…it saves time and it helps to get your head right, cuz there's alwayz a lot of spillage…B. The rebellion and subsequent suppression of disloyal muscle fibers:Way back in the day, I use to freak out when my forearms would start to cramp up during a long rock climb. I had this vision of totally seizing up and simply falling off into the void. They would find me still barely breathing, but well into the advance stages of rigamortus. But experience has taught me that rebellious muscle cramps are easily thwarted. Unlike our current enemies in the Middle East, ones muscles almost always lack commitment. Usually my quads lead the insurgency, followed by the calves, and then my stomach and hand muscles tentatively may even hop onto the movement. During this race, my quads started to test the waters of tyranny on about the fifth lap (or about six hours into the event). Really the best way to deal with muscle cramping is to simply call their bluff and keep going. Its essentially a war of attrition with the spoils going to the most stubborn and entrenched. At the end of that lap, I ate a couple extra Endurolyte pills and hoped for an unsteady, but culpable peace. I was again tested by my stomach muscles later in the race, but it was obvious that they did not want a real fight. It was my numbed feet that caused me the most pain, but more on that later. My conclusion is that muscle cramps will not defeat you unless you have a limited supply of water and salt-type supplements. Having said that, leg muscles like to gain their revenge after the race as one attempts to sleep. I have really “locked-up” on several occasions the night after a long race or climb.C. Bicycles and other related gear considerations within the context of the 9 mile course:I rode my fully rigid steel Gunnar 29er the whole time (12 hours and 38 minutes) and it was a good choice for me and the course, given the 12 hour parameter. Yet, I would be lying if I said that I came out of it unscathed. My hands were pretty abused and my feet were totally ravaged. In fact, as I sit here smoking a rat, drinking a Summit Porter, and picking away at my wife’s fancy new laptop, some nine days later, my feet are still sore. But the foot problems are as a result of wearing tight racing shoes designed for short traditional races. Next year, I must obtain a more comfortable set of manly footwear. The Sidi brand apparently are the best fitting shoes, albeit expensive. Also, I have read that replacing the insoles with thin cork works to dissipate the heat and the resulting hot spots on the soles of ones feet…Actually the pounding really did not become a problem until late into the event. The last two laps were hard as my hands and feet were numb. Moreover, I doubt that I could have continued the beating on the hands throughout the night and into the morning. Next year I will need to get a suspension fork for the Gunnar if I plan on competing in the 24 hour event using that bike. Another option would be to ride the Gunnar as is for the first ten hours or so and then ride a borrowed full suspension bike through the night. The tubeless set-up to my way of thinking is the way to go. I went with semi-slicks and they worked great, but they would have been really a challenge in the rain. Next year I need to find a second set of wheels equipped with tires adorned with a more substantial thread and higher volume. I made a major mistake in not having adequately tested my lighting set-up. The handlebar attachment that is essential for the Nite Rider light worked fine on the road as I put it all together on Friday morning before I left Duluth. However, to my horror the first time I hit a big bump on the single track the whole lighting system went flying off into the woods. To add to the catastrophe, the cable that runs from the battery pack to the light got jammed into my spokes on the front wheel as well. It was a costly oversight as by the time I got it all put back in my jersey pockets, I had lost the lead and some 15 minutes. Plus I still had to deal with the problem when I finished the lap (luckily the mishap took place early enough in the evening with enough light from the setting sun to find the light, et.al.); it was just plain good luck that Mick Dodds was there at the base camp and that he had an extra attachment that fit my handlebars. The whole affair most probably cost me the race. So the lessons have been learned and they are as follows--1.) Have the light attachment solidly on the bike before the race starts. 2.) Have a back up helmet attachment as well. Put that set up on a “night helmet” and simply switch over helmets at darkness. Most of the guys riding the full 24 hours had two lights going at all times and for good reason as the course has many rocks and other obstacles that are very hard to see at night. I guess if possible one should try to ride with two lights and go with a camelbak for liquids during the time from about 10:00 pm to dawn. Miscellaneous: I have enjoyed success battling saddle sores with diaper rash ointment. The best is Desitin because it relies on cod liver oil and zinc oxide. It smells awful, but it really works. I put a hefty glob on before the start and had no problems, but for the 24 hours one would probably be better off reapplying at the 12 hour mark. Note: From the scourges of chaffing in that most sensitive area of ones being, I have seen proud, hard men brought to tears…think prevention and apply heavy applications of some kind of lube. Positive Mental Attitude...In closing, a quick comment on ones psyche will suffice. I approach these things with the notion that I am going to go the distance, no matter what the cost. I get myself to the point mentally that while I have several flexible options in terms of my approach to the event, I do not have the option of bailing. However, these lap events make the definition of quitting rather nebulous. But I do think that as soon as one takes an extended break [like more that 30 minutes or so] the resolve to continue really takes a major hit. On climbing trips in the big mountains, we used to follow the adage that “when in doubt, take a nap.” What this implied was that before starting the big bail, pull out the tent, crawl in and take a short break and re-evaluate the situation. Because once a team turns and starts to head down the mountain, it is a rare event that it turns back around to face the summit. I think this is true of endurance events as well. So I would advise taking a few short breaks of less that 15 minutes and resist the urge to take extended breaks. The breaks should be on the trail and away from ones camp and ones friends.

I am getting pumped!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finished Albanov’s fantastic story of courage and endurance…Robert’s conclusions in the epilogue are earth-shattering, unbelievably ironic…It is true- real life is way more interesting than fiction [and therefore much more devastating]...READ this book!!! Konrad as a metaphor for man's propensity for self-preservation? Or the embodiment of evil??? Albanov's ultimate forgiveness of Konrad is ............Read the book....

Feeding the Insatiable Rat: Another hotter-than-hell day working in the damned sun on a construction crew…a great way to prepare for the 24 hours @ 9 Mile...so it goes..."if it don't kill ya, it'll make you stronger."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Five days and counting down...24@9Mile :)

Really, letz be honest...There aint nothing a guy can do at this point 'cept hope against hope... Pray for good weather, that the demons stay at bay, and that if it comes down to it--the fabled hemlock juice won't be too bitter to drink...24@9Mile is just five dayz away!!!! Support? Today, my buddy asked me about what kind of support crew I have on deck to attend to my every need during the 24 hour race, I had to laugh...I aint got no support, in fact I am gonna probably end up in the dog house when I get home on Sunday night...just get me pointed in the right direction and I should be okay!!! So it goes for the consumate amateur... :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Should Be a Mellow Week, Mr. Starbuck!!" What with a little cement work, a 600 mile drive, and throw in a little 24 hour bike race..No Worries, Mate!

Charlie's Summer Reading List:

In the Land of White Death by Valerian Albanov

Nansen, Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen, Mawson, Peary

If perchance the above names provoke a disconcerting, yet manly stirring deep within your loins; if these names from the golden age of hardihood conjure a sense of forlorn adventure that hauntingly pulls at the very core of your masculinity, then I order you to read Valerian Albanov’s In the Land of White DeathQuite simply, Albanov’s effort places him in the lofty truly heroic company of the above…If you have an ounce of manliness left in you---READ THIS BOOK, READ IT NOW!!!! And then immediately after reading, begin to think of Albanov in the same context as the afore mentioned MEN...These men among men would eat Lance and the other roadie boyz for breakfast...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Strange creatures await the racers at 9 Mile

Feeding the Rat: Saturday-151 minutes mostly on ski trails...Sunday-75 minutes

Friday, July 20, 2007

The TOUR is finally getting exciting....

Feeding the Rat: 115 minutes mostly on singletrack...beautiful day in Duluth!!! Plus I had a day off from work...I mean real serious hard-core labor...You know, the kind of stuff your grandparents did way back in the day...before we became a nation of weak whining wimps On a sad note: I was blatantly "snubbed" today by a young cyclist wearing a LSCC jersey...It was a #5 Snub...the worst kind...A sad thing to have such a youngster snubbing...I guess the big time has arrived here in Duluth!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Working on a Night Move...

A few Lyrics from Seger's classic "Night Moves"

"I was a little too tall, Could've used a few pounds... Tight pants points hardly reknown... She was a black-haired beauty with big dark eyes... And points all her own sitting way up high ...Way up firm and high... Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy... Out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy... Workin' on mysteries without any clues... Workin' on our night moves... Tryin' to make some front page drive-in news... Workin' on our night moves... In the summertime... In the sweet summertime...Thinking about the 24 hours @ 9 mile especially in the nighttime!!!!"

Tempting the Rat: 2 hours of night riding on Thursday and 1 hour on Wednesday...Working on the night moves in the summertime... :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Night Rider...Rides Again...

Feeding the Rat
@ Night: Got a nice evenly paced night ride this evening, left home aroung 9:30 pm...all on tight singletrack...trying to get it all dialed-in before the 24 @ 9 Mile!!!! Last year I had major problems with my lighting set-up...
[122 minutes] not counting 4+ hours of doing the cement thang, itz no wonder the guyz in the trades are not always so psyched to "workout" after "work"...fact is they do "work "all day long...A few more days of humping big buckets of cement down into this big hole and I'm gonna start to feel like one of those poor busted-up illegal immigrants that "do the work that we as Americans refuse to do" and that the politicians are all the sudden all worked up about...

THE SPORT OF KINGS..."The Ponies"..."Chukkers"...The Grand Sport of Polo!!!

The Sport of Kings...
Sunday morning our neighbors generously invited us to attend a polo match held annually for charity purposes by Saint Marys/Duluth Clinic on a beautiful horse farm on the outskirts of Duluth. I must say that I came away greatly impressed with the athletism demonstrated by both horse and rider. It was truly a sporting spectacle...great fun!!! The game is fast paced and more rough than I expected. A typical game is comprised of six 'chukkers' [each chukker is seven minutes]. After the completion of a chukker, the riders quickly obtain "fresh mounts" and so the minimum number of 'ponies' for each rider is six [note: 'the ponies' are infact beautiful, majestic Thoroughbreds]. The horses go wide-open in what clearly appears to be an act of sheer joy for them, while the riders are just barely hanging on while wielding their mallets at a little ball about the size of softball...Another plus is that consumption of barley products for those of age seems to be readily promoted...The upper crust seem to have the whole hydration problem well in hand...

Starving the Rat: Sunday was the last day of my super easy week: Now this week involves some short bursts coupled with a few two hours rides...Cleaned up and really lubed up both the Kelly and the Gunnar

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My understanding of empathy....

My understanding of empathy is based on a fundamental tenet that we all live in unique, complex circumstances and therefore we make decisions and/or formulate ideas based upon situational context and perspective...Given a particular societal manifestation [like the use of illegal drugs by athletes], Empathy is a higher-level cognitive or reflective process by which one attempts to actively understand not only his or her own unique contextual perspective but to extend this process to include a serious effort at understanding other people's unique and complex circumstances as well. The process of empathic contemplation is complicated as it is difficult enough to view others from an unbiased or objective viewpoint, but empathy requires one to take the next, more difficult, step by essentially trying to "see" the problem from another's complex contextual perspective [a view that is often quite contrary to one's own understanding]. Therefore by this definition empathy is not a spontaneous endeavor. Empathy requires one to do careful research. The practice of empathy at a societal level requires an in-depth understanding of that society's culture, history, power structures, etc. Do not confuse "empathy" with "sympathy" as they are very different concepts. Itz a hard concept for me to articulate and unfortunately itz even harder to put into action...so it goes...sadly we need a lot more empathy in the world today, we need less dogma and more empathy, less polarization and more empathy...So you're like: "What the heck???" Well, come on!!! How about a little empathy here!!! I just listened to an interview with Floyd Landis and I'm trying to empathize with the guy...but itz damn hard...but I think I'll buy his new book and start do some research and try to do me some empathic work on Landis...no sympathy, but I'll make an attempt at some empathy...I'll keep ya posted :)

See what happens when I don't feed the rat: Rest day in anticipation of the National Championships for 24 hours @ 9 mile...At this point in the season, the best a guy like me can hope for is to arrive in Wausau well rested...I've been training consistently for decades, so a little time off can only help me...Two weeks from right now [7:18 p.m.], I'll be 9 hours and 18 minutes into it...pretty cool...About 3:00 a.m. on Sunday morning; thatz when I'll need some serious "sympathy." Note: Not gettin' a lot of sympathy or empathy around here lately!!! :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A New Book: "Points Unknown: A Century of Great Exploration" edited by David Roberts

Points Unknown is an anthology of sorts containing long excerpts from famous, epic adventure stories from the 20th century...I have had this book for years as it was a gift to me from a wonderful former student, yet I hadn't read it because I have read many of the full-on unabridged accounts, but today I just starting reading it cuz I couldn't bring myself to read any more books on the current state of the world, itz just too depressing right now... [Note: I feel that as a social studies teacher itz my duty to read as much current affairs as possible]...In any event, Points Unknown, is filled with accounts of great stories of endurance, passion, and especially folly that define grand adventure. Here's a short sampling from "The Devils Thumb" which is a hilarious narrative by a very young Jon Krakauer involving his crazy attempt on the Northface of the Devil's Thumb in SE Alaska: "The highway stretched straight and empty to the horizon and beyond. Outside the car the night air was cold, and the stark Wyoming plains glowed in the moonlight like Rousseau's painting of the sleeping gypsy. I wanted very badly just then to be that gypsy, conked out on my back beneath the stars..."

Feeding the Rat: 5 hours of hard labor working on a construction crew...I am starting to look forward to the start of school!...Just kiddin' I enjoy the physical labor and the manly banter..No bike today...but no problem as itz taper time for the 24 hours @ 9 mile!!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finishing a good book is like the completion of a wonderful journey...

Finishing a good book is like the completion of a wonderful journey and then having to say ‘good bye’ to a great travel-partner…Late last night, despite the city-wide loss of electricity for the better part of the evening, relying on my trusty Petzl headlight, I read the last pages of a simply delightful little read about a very normal guy and his even more normal ’fridge’ as they embarked on a hitch-hiking adventure around Ireland [‘Round Ireland with a Fridge’ by Tony Hawks]. Itz nothing earth shaking or profound, instead itz just a short personal narrative by a guy that went on a decidedly unplanned and yet liberating, as the Aussies like to say, ‘walk about.” This book therefore joins a group of humorous albeit provocative and stirring travel narratives within my modest collection that include: No Picnic on Mount Kenya by Felice Benuzzi, One Man’s Mountains by Tom Patey, Over the Hills and Far Away by Rob Collister, and My Old Man and the Sea: A Father and Son Sail Around Cape Horn by David Hayes and Daniel Hayes. All of these guyz know what Tilman knew, that is…’the best trips can be planned on the back of a bar napkin.” So it goes…:)

Feeding the Rat: Today, 120 minutes in the rain...Tuesday- Rest day [but three hours working hard for Mike on the new house]

Monday, July 9, 2007

Watch out Chris Eatough...You going down!!!!! Just kiddin' but itz fun to dream....

Feeding the Rat: 7 hours of hard core concrete work, but it aint training per se...so I'll take 120 minutes...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A delightful afternoon spent at the UMD Theatre...then a special family primetime viewing Nature...and even a little time bike :).

Feeding the Rat but with a hint of culture: With nuclear family units accompanied by off-spring's friend, we embarked on foot to the UMD Theater's production of Frog & Toad[check out the pic, their on a SS tandem, it looks like a custom steel 29er!!!]...It was really great and if you live in Duluth or nearby, I recommend you go see it, especially if you have little tax deductions running around driving you crazy. Our young income-draining hyper-actives stayed focused and happy during the whole 90 minute performance...The music is delightful, the costumes are very bright, and the storyline is simple yet really captivating and at times very funny...upon returning I got a 100 minutes of good trail riding on the closeby singletrack and then to top off a day of drama, we watched Nature on PBS @ 7:00 p.m. Tonight's episode was titled "The Great Thirstland of the Kalahari." Now tell me thatz not an omen!...a cosmic sign that I should seriously consider riding that bad boy 24 hours @ 9 Mile!!!! Regarding developing a big-time thrist, certainly the next best thing to hangin' out in the Kalahari would be racing for 24 hours on a mountain bike in July in Central Wisconsin!!!!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Entertaining Evil thoughts of 24 Hours @ 9 Mile

Feeding the Rat:Even though it was very very very hot out, it was another great training ride for the writer with 3 hours and 40 minutes on the bike...When a guy is out on his bike, he's got time to think, you know, to engage in purposeful and challenging cognition...And so as I was riding today thinking about among other things, the amazing medicinal properties of combining malted barley, whole hops, brewer’s yeast and crystal clear water, abruptly my brain shifted to the notion of thirst and the varying degrees of thirst and then it began to conjure images of remedies for satisfying this notion or awareness of thirst, my brain then started to work-out complex calculations involving the direct correlation between big thirst and big drink and the next thing I know....the thought occurred to me that I should go for it and race the 24 hour event at 9 Mile...Last year I rode the 12 hour event and I did well finishing in 2nd place. But the MARQUE Event is the 24 hours race, in fact itz the 24 Hour National Championship…the best enduro riders in the country come to little old Wausau, Wisconsin to vie for the title of National Champion. Last year it was Chris Eatough winning it [Trek] with Nat Ross [Gary Fisher] finishing 2nd…A guy could build up a powerful thirst riding for 24 hours on that course which in-turn could only be remedied by a lot of "medicine"…If I can get me on loan a fancy-pants full-suspension ride from Ski Hut for the wee hours of the night-time, I just might go for it…more on this later…I do feel good and just may be if a lot of other guyz have bad days with bad bikes, I could get me a top ten finish???????? Stranger things have happened...just ask Floyd Landis!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: Eau Claire Race Recap

Race Recap for the WORS Eau Claire Race by Charlie Farrow

The Ugly: With contemplative hindsight added to diligent retrospection and finally upon serious reflection; I’d like to think that I could have gone faster and thus obtained a higher finish in last Sunday’s roller coaster Chippewa Valley Firecracker Race. Coupled with the fact that my expensive rear wheel was destroyed [and the cause of a very sore deer, see above pics] and that my last remaining bike helmet was run over by either a Toyota truck or a VW van [see above pics], by all other measures the whole affair was a grand success. Not one to worry too much about where I finish in these races; this flat, very fast, “big-ring” course on the out-skirts of Eau Claire does favor the few pluses I may possess at racing talent and thus in years past I have been able to count this event as one of the few that affords me a finish of which one can be somewhat proud, especially given my glandular condition and/or propensity to lapse into episodes of mild dementia. In 2005, I finished in 24th place [out of 75 experts] and last year’s effort was comparable with a finish in the top 40%, but alas this season still finds the writer desperately seeking some semblance of racing form. I knew going in that my legs still had not found the proverbial “next gear up“ or what some call the ability to “give-’er“ or in the lexicon of antiquity, from which I have lived the majority of my life, to “put the hammer down“, or to put one‘s “pedal to the metal“, etc [excuse the digression]…Of course, in the writers’ case, I know that I only have probably one or two or maybe three good races in my scarred legs and ravaged cardio-vascular system in any given season and since I consider my effort in Winnipeg three weeks past to be a good race, I am currently down to just one or two left and I certainly want to do well at the Chequamegon 40 in mid-September…So the way I look at it, itz a good thing that I did not do as well as I would have liked at Eau Claire, and itz also a good thing that I barely finished the prior race at Mont du Lac, for these sub-par performances mean that I have not yet peaked. The rationale being that since I am now in possession of just one peak performance, I want to hold on to it for a couple more months and cash it out at the Chequamegon [Note: of course this kind of flawed superficial thinking violates all tenets of high-level critical meta-cognition and yet is unfortunately similar in construction to the arguments used by #43 to invade Iraq back on March 20, 2003].

The Good: So now that a sound justification for my not-so-great racing effort regarding both Eau Claire and Mont du Lac has been clearly submitted, itz time to convey the much more impressive efforts demonstrated by my comrades. Just off the top of my head, I must publicly comment on the impressive effort of Scott Cole. Scott is 42 years of age, so he is ripe for being considered for placement on the coveted “LIST for 2007” [He is going for a high finish at the 24 hour National Championships]. Mr. Cole has always been a force, he has been racing hard for over twenty years. He is the kind of guy that I set my sights on and hope that if everything goes well I will be able to hold his wheel, but this year he seems to have found that “next gear” and he blew by me like I was one of those Amish dudes in a horse-drawn buggy while he was a successful Wall Street hedge-fund manager blowing by in a new convertible BMW…Scott Cole finished in 21st place, the highest finish by the old guyz, but it won’t be long now until our very own Mike Bushey will enter that magic realm of being considered old and yet he is having a great season riding a new Specialized SS/Geared 29er that is really a beautiful example of when form meets function…Mike finished an impressive 16th or there abouts while Scotty Johnson was right there too in like 18th place…The future was there too in Jesrin Gaier and Eric Oftedahl finishing 6th and 7th respectively. Sam Oftedahl, older brother of Eric was involved in a big-time crash like only a few minutes into it and yet he popped up, bloodied but ready to stay the course, but with a pedal or two he realized that his rear wheel was shot. Yeah, the start was big with something like 70 riders and crazy fast and crazy dusty that made for a crazy surreal scene reminiscent of what one conjures up when thinking of the Okie Sooners when the gun went off…back in the day. In any event, Sam took one for the team as did the amicable Chris Peariso as well, so it goes…luckily both lived and will fight again!!!!Jan Rybar, my rival and friend beat me again [score so far this season: Charlie @ 1 and Jan @ 2]. Harry Anderson and his lovely wife, Megan, made the trip down and while Harry started slow, he caught the writer on the last lap and finished strong. Both Harry and lovely wife, Megan, raced the day before at the Duluth Duathlon [I am not sure about the spelling, but it was one of those things where they make ya run then bike and then run again…]. Megan was kind enough to hand off water bottles during the race. Harry is looking good earlier this season…He is gonna be tough in October when they break-out the CX bikes! Cyclo-cross is his specialty…Brad Vieths also doubled up for the weekend as he also did the Duluth Duathlon thingy as well…another impressive weekend effort.

More Ugly: Mike Haag did the Duluth Duathlon and started the mtb race, but felt really bad and was forced to DNF. It is the writer’s opinion that it was the heavy guilt that Mike felt from destroying the cheapest man in the world’s helmet that ultimately forced him to quit the race…“Peace visits not the guilty mind.”(or in Latin...Nemo Malus Felix)
Juvenal (55 AD - 127 AD).

More Good: Sarah Kylander-Johnson took a very impressive 2nd place to Kyia Malenkovich
from St. Cloud. Kyia looked great…For anyone else, a second place finish would be cause for great celebration, but for Sarah it was disappointing. Sarah is a dominate force in midwest mountain bike racing and therefore expects to win every race she enters. Yet, I think itz a good thing for both of these wonderful women. For Kyia itz a confidence boost going into some big races and for Sarah it awakens the “beast from within” just as she gets ready to race in some major pro races in Vermont and beyond…

Even More Good: Also Kudos to the Ski Hut riders that participated in the Duluth Duathlon of which my little Sophie and I watched in admiration on Saturday morning near our home in Duluth. Joe McGraver was the top Ski Hutter finishing in 9th place. Harry was right there in 16th place, Brad Vieths got 18th, Mike Haag was 27th, Nikolai was 28th, Dean Gies was 59th. Jody Z [Bushey's wife] had a great race as did Michelle Flanagan-Haag. Megan Anderson looked strong... I know I am missing people and for that I blame my mild dementia! Also kudos to Greg Hexum for easily winning at the Tofte 10K over the 4th of July.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Postscript: It was great fun riding up to the race in Scotty and Sarah’s VW Van with Mike Haag also in tow. While those that know me consider me to be a rather shy introvert, a reflectively quiet and sober man; but alas the sitting arrangements on the way down to the race put me in the back with Sarah. Sarah wanted to 'chat' about some angry Texas woman that wrote a book that is all against male doctors and the like, so rather than risking offending her, I forced my shy-reserved self to engage in a dialectal constructivist-based conversation on the subjects of female hormonal fluctuations, menopausal angst, etc…so it goes...

Again, The Ugly: En route to the race, we all met at a local favorite coffee bar, Beaners, but it was closed...So as Scotty and Mike arranged the van and stacked the bikes [and presumably plotted against me], I went in search of the life-giving coffee bean. While I was gone up the street on my quest, one of them in one of their fancy-pants vehicles ran over my biking helmet. The destruction of the helmet marks the second helmet that I have destroyed in less than two months [see above reference to Mike‘s bout with guilt]. Neither one of them would admit guilt and to be honest I suspect a conspiracy or at the least, a tacit collusionary arrangement…Then on the way home, a deer tried to race us and as he started to fall behind, he attempted [like I myself have done on many occasions] to jump right behind the van to get a good draft and buy some time…Instead he hit the bikes affixed to the rear rack, sending him to the asphalt hard and completely destroying my rear wheel [see above pics]…so it goes…

The Really Good: Still riding up and back to a great bike race in a VW Van with three of my favorite people…it don’t get any better than that…so it goes………Plus Dean Gies, Champion of all that is Good & Proper has agreed to rebuild my rear wheel!

Finally, The Bad & The Good-Note: Three pics of mountain bike racers; two of which demonstrate how not to take a fast corner...and one GOOD example [Jesse Lalonde, the dude that won the thing...on a SS!!!]

Feeding the Rat: Big Big Day...5 hours on the bike feeling great!!!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Race Report on Eau Claire in the works...think roller coaster

Tuesday 7/03: 150 minutes training-aerobic pace
Monday 7/02: 96 minutes easy
Sunday 7/01: 3 hours +
Saturday 6/30: 45 minute spin