Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yet Another Brief Race Report from the Caboose....

A brief synopsis of the Pre-Fat Seeley MTB Race
“A bird in the hand's worth two fleeing by.”

Even though itz been nearly ten dayz hence, the Pre-Fat is still fresh in my frail mind. To my delight, race day dawned beautifully cloudless and cool with a slight breeze coming off the grand lake. Even by 9:00 a.m. (90 minutes before the scheduled start) nearly one hundred ‘long-course’ racers were already enthusiastically gathering from both points North and South in the quaint little hamlet of Seeley, Wisconsin to challenge a North Country race course that is both varied and very fast.

It is a unique course, in my view, because it presents what has of late become a rare opportunity for the steely-eyed fearless speed demons to really shine and thus exploit the rest of us. The descents @ The Pre-Fat are such that if one has the guts and the resolve [and the Medical Insurance], a talented rider can just let ‘em run wild at very high speeds.
As alluded to above, the potential these rolling Seeley-Hills with there steep descents afford the capable rider in terms of “break-neck” speeds is now a rare thing. Sadly, long gone are the dayz of the Lutsen and Giant’s Ridge races that too allowed the crazed, albeit skilled ones to defy the confines of gravity and essentially fly down the rocky descents, while the rest of us awkwardly braked our way down, down, down…Of course, upon reflection itz probably a good thing for the author that these kinds courses are going the way of antiquity.

The Seeley course also contains a fair amount of technical single track of the fast kind…Yet the course is unique in that the aforementioned super fast rolling ski trails come mostly at the first half, while the techy stuff hits one in the second half of the approximately 90 to 110 minute overall effort. The way I remember it; the technical single track which for me and my counterparts came after about an hour of hammerin’ in small packs caused some of the riders a kind of sudden "culture shock." Essentially, the sudden change of terrain offered such a stark contrast that it was difficult for many of the less adaptable riders to transition in a timely and efficient manner. In other words, I was all over the place, crashing and blasting through those trails like a "gut shot" yeti. I could not stay on my bike!

The truth is that even on my good dayz (given a course comprised of mainly benign ski trails), I can still somehow, although desperately, hang-on by shamelessly gluing myself to faster rear wheels; but once these riders commenced onto the tricky single-track, I knew my place and so with a chivalrous heart, I pulled over and let the real racers get on with the business at hand. Yes indeed, with a purely benevolent conscience as my guide, I waved the likes of Todd McFadden, Sara K-J, Tim Stone, Ezra Taylor, Barry T, Rosscoe.,(and I am sure several others) past the old trusty Gunnar…and when the last had pasted with a smile on my face, I pulled back on and took my rightful position in the caboose…so it goes…Note: Apparently, according to my sources, there was an even faster drama unfolding a good ten minutes ahead of my crowd which included among others, Scotty and Brad Johnson, Jesrin Gaier, Jeff Hall, Scott Chapin, Sam Ofendahl, Tim Swift, The Russian Rocket, TJ, Harry Anderson, et. al.......Next to Led Zepplin, I love bike racing!!!!!!
Friday: 150 minutes of Feeding the Rat...At first I felt sluggish, but by 75 minutes or so, I felt like SEABISCUIT

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Itz back to the GRINDSTONE for me :(

School started for me today..........I am pumped for a great academic year!!!! Know that your children are safe with me!!! [Sort-of pumped anyway]
MONDAY: 2 hours

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Livin' Healthy...

I've been helping da wife with her medical studies and I found a poignant quote from Hippocrates (460-377 bc) on Defining Health: "let food (or beer) be thy medicine; and let thy medicine be food (or beer)." Hippy or the Hipster [thatz what his drinkin' buddies called him] theorized that what we currently regard as 'health' might be defined as the extent of a delicate balance of four fluids: blood, yellow bile [I'm thinking beer], black bile [that would be wine], and phlegm [a mixture of all the other three?]. Ill health, Hippy believed, resulted from an imbalance of these fluids...

Feeding the Rat: The Seeley PreFat!!!! Great course, Great friends, and lots of yellow bile :) Saturday 3 hours and Sunday 150 minutes...the focus is on peaking for the big Chequamegon in three TT skills? The 1X9 gearing should be the ticket...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Blurry pics of the new 1X9 set-up and what could well be the winning formula and MY TICKET TO THE BIG TIME!

Please excuse the out-of-focus pictures of my trusty 29 inch steel Gunnar and my Vicious fork; now equipped with a super fast and highly efficient 1X9 set up [36 in the front coupled with a 34-11 in the back]...Note: Part of the problem regarding the poor quality of the photographs has to do with the mega-cheap camera that "I found" in my school's lost&found bin, but also the fact that I am well into my pre-race hydration ritual may have compounded the poor quality. In any event, this is my new set-up...itz all a REAL MAN should need in the Midwest!!! A 36 by 34 for any steep hills and a 36 by 11 for the flats...Don't believe what they tell ya; everything else is overkill and plays right into the greedy manufactures' hands!!!! [Check out SCOUT, our killer kitty]

Brief Muse on the Splendid Powder Monkey: [a proper recap is forthcoming]

While to-date I have not had the time nor opportunity to write up a proper recap on the great race @ Spirit Mountain that COGGS [of which I am a proud long-time member] put on last Sunday, I do want to briefly and publically commend and thank COGGS for what I consider to be the most demanding, compelling, and original race course in the Midwest. Since that fine day, I have heard only positive comments about the course and the organization…BRAVO COGGS!!!! Makes an old guy proud…Note: Jeff Hall commented to both Scotty and I after the race that he felt the current course with the long technical climb is as good as any in the USA and also would make a great National race…pretty cool!!!!
Pumpin' Up the Rat: 90 minutes of pretty hard ridin' and the chain stayed on!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back to the drawing board re: 1X9 gearing...

At the Spirit Mountain Race last Sunday, I had problems with my chain jumping off the single ring in the with the help of my friends at Ski Hut and special assistance from Scotty Kylander-Johnson, we seem to have developed a better set-up...The current system includes a Chain Guard on the external side of the middle ring [a Salsa 36 ] in the form of an old 42 tooth Shimano chainring grinded down to form a circle that acts to keep the chain from flipping off the outside [which was the main problem @ Sunday's race] coupled with a little inexpensive device called a Jump&Gear on the inside that acts to prevent the chain from falling off internally...I rode hard today @ Hartley for 2 hours and try as I could I was not able to shake off the chain!!!! So I should be good to go for Saturday's Race @ Seeley...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Below's what I think when some techy bike guy asks me, "Dude what kind of fork are you using?"

With each new fiscal year comes the new great innovation in suspension forks for the ravenous mountain biker community...Yet as I gracefully age as a bike racer, it becomes more and more apparent, to me anyway,that it don't mean nothing!!! The Lalonde Boyz are cleaning up on everybody with steel rigid Hard Tails & ONE SPEED...

Starving the Rat: 45 minutes easy and cleaned up my TRUSTY GUNNAR in preparation for tomorrow's big race @ Spirit Mountain...all the guyz are gonna be there. Note: if it rains, get the ER ready cuz itz gonna be ugly!!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Course @ Spirit Mountain is a visionary work in the tradition of the Romantics!!!

Pre-rode the full-on Powder Monkey course again has many new surprises including what has to be the toughest continuous techincal climb in the Midwest...This is a monumental race course that will challenge even the very best!!! I am totally pumped to test myself on this BAD BOY!!! Kudos to Scotty Johnson and the rest of the COGGS crew for a great effort!!!! Bravo!!! Bravo!!! Bravo!!! A course that presents classical themes ranging from man's desperate fight with the forces of gravity to our self-destructive obsession with the absurd to our instinctual urge to seek out risky acts of folly...I'd be willing to bet $100 that not one rider will be able to ride a clean lap on this course...itz WAY HARD!!!! Like it should be!!!! Itz so cool to have the opporunity to race on a real hard-core mountain bike course, thatz not to say that I don't like the wide-open courses, but itz fun to throw in a few super hard techy courses in as well...ITZ ALL GOOD as long as a guyz out there doing it!!!

Also, my 1X9 set-up is perfect for this course...

Feeding the Rat: 122 minutes @ Spirit Mt...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Watch out Jeff Hall! I am going simple & ultra-light for the Powder Monkey

In what was suppose to be an exercise in simplifying my life, I was at the Ski Hut today with my trusty Gunnar 29er [made by Richard Schwinn and cohorts down in Waterford, Wisconsin under the watchful eye of their shop dog, Gunnar] for something like 4 hours!!! The original plan was that I would simply modify my gearing in a manner that would reflect the realities of the Spirit Mt. Race Course and my racing abilities...Basically the idea being that if ya need a granny gear in the Midwest, you're lying to yourself, Karl Rove, and your family [fact is that if you are using a granny gear--you need to lose some serious big-time weight and start lifting some dumbells with your weenie quads], coupled with the fact that unless you're a pro or on EPO, you ain't gonna need that big chainring cuz you ain't got the guns to push a 46/44 or even a 42 up them ski hills in Duluth, Therefore instead of using the standard "weighty' over-done triple simple plan was that I would split the difference and just run a single 36 in the front and use the standard 11-34 in the back and in doing so, cut some weight as well, cuz I wouldn't need a left shifter or front derailer(spelling?). So I go to my favorite LBS [The SKI HUT] with my favorite guyz [Dean and Rosscoe] and I get me an empty bike stand, some hard-core black-as-coal coffee and get to work...I'm not there ten minutes before I strip the bolt out of my XT crank [For those of you that don't know, thatz a major screw-up!]. Dean has to stop working on the paying customers' bikes and drill the damned thing out and I end up costin' these guyz some time...time that they should be using on the paying thing I know the damned 36 teeth chainring won't fit on the Gunnar....the teeth hit the chainstays!!!! So it the easy life ain't SO EASY!!!! Still, when it was all said and done, I walked out of the Ski Hut tonight with a 1 X 9 sporting an old worn-out 32 Shimano chainring in the front and an even older 11 by 34 Shimano cassette on the back, so I should be good to go on it goes for the consummate amateur bike racer... :) Watch out Jeff Hall!!!!

Feeding the Rat: Seriously, I spent 4 hours down at the Ski Hut today trying to simply my so-called life!!! Number of hours on the bike= Zero! Number of hours dealing with the bike= 4 Hours!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Two big mountain bike venues are putting on races this weekend!!!

COGGS of Duluth proudly presents the Powder Monkey @ Spirit Mt. & WORS presents the WORS CUP over at a new course new Madison, WI!!! Too many races and so little time...The course at Spirit Mountain was designed by Scotty Johnson and is a throw-back to when 'men were men and those men rode real steel Hard-Tails fashioned from iron ore deposits from the Laurentian Shield, commonly known as the Mesaba Range ,right here in the Range Country of these once United States of America. Craftsmen like Igor Schwinn in places like Chicago, Madison, and Cleveland handmade these manly bikes...Yeah, back-in-the-day when men with strong sinewy backs rode bikes without any sissy super plush expensive suspension systems, leaky hydraulic brakes, and fancy pants 2 lbs. carbon frames... and if a man messed up and went down hard and couldn't get back up, the other men ate him...and the man that got ate wouldn't have wanted it any other way...and bike races took well over three hours and only one or two of the top riders could do a clean lap while the rest took big falls and had to walk some of the really techy sections and after the race the surviving men drank manly bitter dark beer and bled and laughed and told jokes...and....................................'

Due to logistical problems: 45 minutes of torture on the trainer

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Single Track @ Spirit Mountain is SO SWEET!

Feeding the Rat: 200 Minutes...rode and crashed and practiced and crashed again and marveled at the splendid course that will be challenging better men than the author on this coming Sunday!!!! Come out and race this Sunday @ Spirit Mountain, you'll feel like a MAN when you cross that finish line!!!!
[Pics are from last year's race]

Monday, August 13, 2007

In a few weeks, Karl be 'chillin' with the family!!! But for now, itz off to Duluth to practice!!!!

I love it how when the big elitist power brokers take a dive for the even bigger elitist power brokers, itz always because they want to spend more time with "the family." The truth is Karl [with his controversial coach, Rummy] is coming up to Duluth to hang with the mt. biker crowd and hone up on his singletrack skills, getting ready to hammer, [I mean 'pound some big time nails'] at Spirit Mountain this coming Sunday at the Powder Monkey [The Marque Event of the MNSCS]!!!...Rumors are that he's got quite the motor [fired by EPO etc. ?]...The low down is that he just needs to lose a few pounds, learn to get his butt back on the techy drops, and get off the brakes!!!...Come out to Spirit Mountain this Sunday to Race on the best 'REAL MTB' course in the Midwest!!! Or stop by and watch among the many speedy riders, the likes of Doug Swanson, Jeff Hall, Jay Richards, The Moore Brothers, Sam&Eric Ofendahl, and of course Karl Rove fly thru some radically fast, hard-core single-track...Or come watch guyz like the author take some serious crashes [if you're into that kind of thing]...Course designed by Scotty&Sara Kylander-Johnson and the COGGS crew!!!
Feeding the hungry Rat: 60 minutes of high-paced hill repeats [on the climbs-heart-rate above 165], while off-spring and other youngsters played in my yard...the plan is to "train thru" the next three races and then attempt a "peak" for the Chequamegon 40

Friday, August 10, 2007

Think 21st century version of All is Quiet on the Western Front.The sad thing is the revelation that absolutely nothing has changed.

War as a simple extension of the regular political process...Below is an excerpt from Nicholas Kulish's Last One In...
To set the stage, a nineteen year old marine, Ramos, is agonizing over shooting an Iraqi, he can't sleep and has been confiding his anxiety to the main character [Jimmy, the wayward reporter]. The following is a poignant narrative setforth by the author in terms of Jimmy's reflective response to a long heartfelt discussion he has with Ramos regarding 'the kill':

"The President kept saying America's quarrel was with Saddam, not the Iraqi people. Where did that leave Ramos? He wasn't taught to hate Iraqis. He wasn't fighting to defend his home and family. The American military was expected to win easily and convincingly, but somehow inflict as little damage as possible. The whole campaign left them little to celebrate other than a job completed. The Yankees wouldn't hoot and holler after mopping up a team of Little Leaguers. They would just feel big and brutal and a little uncomfortable in their coats of muscle and sinew. Jimmy thought they needed a new name for whatever it was they were doing in Iraq. War just didn't cover it. War was world-wide violence like the two biggest mistakes of the last century, mechanical death by the thousands at the Somme or shorelines stained red along the chain of Pacific Islands. It was Europe in flames or America cleaved in half over slavery, not a march on a wheezing country's capital. It needed a different name...something without phoniness of liberation or the taint of pacification. Anything to help Ramos sleep..."

Feeding the Rat: 66 minutes on Friday [fast singletrack]; 128 minutes on Saturday, [CAMBA trails near Telemark]; 132 minutes on Sunday, [single and ski trails at a fast pace].

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Most Ironic and Absurd Read of the Summer...a must for anyone that is remotely cynical when it come to all that Stars & Stripes propaganda...

After hearing the novelist [a working journalist] on NPR, I ran out and bought the book. The plot involves the experiences of a young journalist as he is embedded with a group of even younger marines just as the US invades Iraq. Currently, I am about half way through it and yet I can say with confidence that itz destined to be a classic-in my world!!! Think Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse Five...
Feeding the insatiable Rat: 1 hour easy on Wednesday; 150 minutes at a good pace on Thursday [plus hard-core construction]

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Charlie's Summer Reading List

Just finished David Walsh's "investigative journalistic work" on the recent history of widespread drug use among the world's greatest cyclists...Itz a pretty interesting read (especially surprising and noteworthy is all the legal drugs they do), albeit 100 pages or so too long. The revelation that nearly all these guyz do illegal drugs doesn't really bother me too much as I am fairly caviler about the whole issue; essentially the line between legal drugs and illegal drugs is so contrived that itz hard for me to get too worked up over the whole affair...still itz worth checking out from your local library or do like I did and borrow it from a buddy! I'd give it three stars out of five...Basically the theme is as follows--Lance bad to the core, Frankie basically good but once bad, Tyler nice but bad, Landis naïve but bad, all Frenchies bad, and all Spainards bad except Basson, Ulrich bad, Basso bad, Lemond good really good, Ferrari bad super BAD, Walsh super pure...

Feeding the rat: Monday 2 hours. Tuesday 2 hours [feeling good]

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A Personal Race Recap of the National 24 Hours Championships

Lamentations, juxtapositions, but ultimately hard-won jubilations:
A Personal Race Recap of the National 24 Hour Championship @ 9 Mile

Part I: A futile act?

…fu·til·i·ty (fyōō-til'i-tē) n. pl. fu·til·i·ties

1. The quality of having no useful result; uselessness. 2. Lack of importance or purpose; frivolousness. A futile act. [Source: Charlie’s old college Webster’s Dictionary]

With The War on Terror, global-warming, overpopulation, Paris Hilton’s legal problems and a myriad of other pressing issues facing us earthlings, for a guy like me to train long hours and spend lots & lots of money to race a mountain bike for 24 hours may seem rather outlandish or excessively obscure or maybe even somewhat crazy, but NOT futile. Futile is the worst. Futile means that it don’t mean nothing. In other words, futile means “in vain” or “valueless” and for those of us that love the sport of bike racing any time one can line up against the best in the nation and have a brief shinning moment [right before the gun goes off] to pretend that he or she has a chance against the likes of Chris Eatough and Nate Ross or Pua Sawicki and Rebecca Rusch , the experience is the antithesis of futility. Quixotic perhaps, but such is the opportunity of the most fanciful of dreamers. Can you imagine any other sport where an old guy from Duluth can line up right next to some really top notch professional athletes and do the race thing?

Reality…Fast forward about seventeen hours…Itz approximately 3 a.m. on Sunday, somewhere along the course on Lap #13 or #14, I am curled up in the fetal position along the course-a pitifully defeated shell of a man. A few minutes before I had taken yet another fall, but itz not the sudden impact with the ground that has damaged me. I am use to falling, itz what I do, itz a strength of mine, in fact I am an expert at falling off my bike. Itz the terrible discovery that I make upon hitting the floor that causes me to stay down and curl up…The Velcro-wrap that contains the timing chip is missing from my left ankle. The revelation hits me like a ton of bricks.
Several hours before at the primo TEAM SKI HUT pit area, just as I embarked on lap #11 or #12, I had taken a moment to change socks in an effort to bring some semblance of respite to my burning feet.... Laying there in the grass and dirt, I realize that in an apparent state of hallucinatory fatigue coupled with my haste to “keep it going Baby“,those hours ago, I had forgot to re-attach the computer thingy to my ankle during that sock change…As I now lay on the trail, my harried mind picturing that ingrate computer-chip thingy laying peacefully along side the rest of the coolers and support gear, I am struck by the sheer futility of it all…My demented brain sees the Brutus-like computer-chip thingy in peaceful repose during the last three laps while I was doing battle with both real and perceived demons. Oh the betrayal, the horror, the absurdity of man’s existence, THE MARCH OF FOLLY!!! …The grim revelation was crystal clear: essentially the last three or four hours of hard-core night racing had all been an excruciating exercise in FUTILITY!!!! For without the computer chip it was all in vain. I groveled in self-pity for a few minutes totally absorbed in the acrimony of the moment. Finally, it occurred to me that I should at least move my sorry-self to some place off the trail to avoid getting smoked by another rider. So I stood up and walked down off the single-track and onto a cross-country ski trail where in dramatic fashion I raised my arms to the moon and cursed loudly… Then I noticed a bike laying on the trail not far from my own. “Thatz odd,” I thought out loud, and then inexplicably a female voice sez, “Hey how ya doing?” I look around, but I don’t see anybody. “Down here, taking a break.” There on the grass laying on her stomach was a cute young woman. I say, “that’s a good idea.” She shakes her head in agreement. I sit down next to her and start to rant and rave on and on about my computer-chip thingy being back at the support area and about the futility of man’s [and woman’s] existence and about the march of folly, etc., etc., and she sez pleasantly, “Well I better be going…” And with that she hurriedly gets up and rides away leaving me there to ponder my own demise. [Note: I later learned that her name was Danielle Musto and that she was a pro and had ultimately finished in 3rd place, so it goes...I'd like to think that I had something to do with her outstanding effort, in a weird creepy kind of way]

In any event, I’m like, “get a hold of yourself man!" as I jump back on my bike and ride on formulating a plan that involves getting back to the pit area, waking up Rosscoe and begging him to go see if he can clear up the computer-chip thingy mess for me with the race directors. I start to feel like there is hope and the bike begins to pedal easier and I start to feel like maybe itz not all just an exercise in folly…

Part II: Roscoe & Ekimov: a case involving an ironic juxtaposition?
jux·ta·po·si·tion /ən/ -[juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn] –noun
1. an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast. 2. the state of being close together or side by side. [Source: Charlie’s old college Webster’s Dictionary]

In Part I, we learn how dementia exacerbated by the onset of fatigue manifests itself in causing the writer to leave behind his vital computer chip thingy on lap #11 or #12. We also learn of the immaturity and tantrum-throwing exploits that the writer resorts to when he discoveries the screw-up several hours [and laps] later. Upon recognition of this major mess, the writer rants and raves about the futility and absurdity of our existence, scares off a talented young female racer and yet ultimately gets back on the bike and pedals on into the darkness…in quest of his self-wrought destiny. But before the narrative continues forward, lets take a step backward and contemplate how this aging desperate amateur bike racer came to such a funk.

The early morning of the start of the race brought forth a grand sunrise with the eternal promise of optimism and hope. Entombed in my trusty Bibler Alpine tent, I was surrounding by friends and like minded-people [people that agonize over buying a lawn mower, but think nothing of spending well over $500 for a good wheel-set]; such moments are what gives us the spice of life! I was far too excited and fired-up to sleep in, so I jumped up and out of the tent and headed over on my trusty Gunnar to the coffee trailer, where I was treated to an excellent dark roasted brew. All about were friends and acquaintances that I have raced with over the last decade or so…we joked, compared bikes and in general enjoyed that special hard-to-describe energetic anticipatory period that exists just before one goes for a big climb or a big race. Once back at the camp/pit area, Rosscoe, Mike, Michelle, Amy & Eki, Dave, and our neighbors were all busily putting the final touches on the prelude to the race.

Now a man needs a plan and I had one. It was based on the simple premise that Tim Ek [Eki] would win the 12 hour event and in doing so he would, by pulling me along, put me at the half-way point in a great position to vie for a top ten finish in the National Championship 24 hour event. In this rosy best case scenario, I would assist Eki in the first couple of laps allowing him to create a lengthy gap on Eric Peterson. Eric is a local guy endowed with an amicable character along with a tough-as-nails resolve. He had won the 12 hour event the last three years and I knew he wanted another win. Last year, he and I had battled for the whole twelve hours. Accordingly, the initial lap went exactly as planned. I went out pretty fast, with Eki in tow. The second, third, and fourth laps were perfect with Eki and I leading and pulling at regular intervals, and we took very quick efficient breaks at the Team Ski Hut pit stop. Any experienced rider will tell you that riding together as team is very advantageous both physically and psychologically, especially in long distance events.

So it was as we were three-fourths through the fifth lap [or about six hours into it]. I was pumped for Eki as it seemed from what we could ascertain Eric was way back and that barring any mechanical problems, Eki was gonna win. With this pleasant notion in mind, I had started to do my draft thing, purposefully letting Eki do much of the work up front figuring he was over halfway home while I was still looking at a long long night. During this time we were treated to opportunities of riding with among many others; David Meyer, a talented youth from the Hudson, Wisconsin area with tremendous potential, Scott Cole, the wily tough endurance veteran with the heart of gold, and Paddy Humenny who is a master at riding single speeds and one of the inspirational leaders of a very cool group of cyclists from Winnipeg, including Dallas Sigurdur. In any event, these guyz would come and go, but Eki and I stayed together, if one of us crashed the other would slow down and wait for the other to catch up. I was feeling pretty good with the exception of very sore feet [I knew this would pass], a slightly tumultuous stomach [nothing a few Tums wouldn’t solve], and the scourge of the rigid fork, a worrisome continual digression regarding my hands [which I knew could very well prove to be my demise]. My mind, as it often does, started to drift; I envisioned Eki winning the 12 hour event and in his Team Ski Hut race recap offering me tons of kudos, “I couldn‘t have done it without the old man‘s help.” Fancifully, I saw myself standing on the podium for the National 24 Hours may be like in sixth place…I was, of course, modest in my miraculous achievement thanking all the little people, “I would like to thank all the little people, too numerous to mention, this too is their victory, and so on & so on.”…So there I was riding along, livin’ the dream, smiling and commending myself for such a bold and successful plan when suddenly out of nowhere the youthful Rosscoe, my other teammate from Ski Hut, came blasting up from behind. The youth had been biding his time riding a smart race and with 5 hours to go he was making his move. I was somewhat surprised, while Eki was to put it mildly “disconcerted!”

Young Ross Fraboni, the son I never had, a very talented up and coming mtb racer had been sort of in a state of limbo for the last two seasons as he was finishing up his college degree, but now he had apparently found his form and he was riding with vindication. This new dynamic threw a wrench into my plan of having Eki maintain a nice pace for the remainder of the first half of my race. More importantly to Eki, it meant that the race was on and that the win would cost much more than he had bargained for. The whole scene was that of a classic juxtaposition…The new youthful rider with something to prove versus the tough minded Eki, almost grim with determination. Youth & finesse compared to brawn & mule-like stubbornness. I could see right away that this was a battle for which I had no role, purpose, or benefit. So without remorse, only gratitude and best wishes for both of my teammates, I paternally cut them loose to wage war against one another and took up the task of dealing with my own pressing circumstances, the main one being the rapid devolution of my upper extremities from 21st century hands to unwieldy prehistoric claws [Note for entertaining recaps by both riders on the ensuring battle go to the Team Ski Hut website-] .

As alluded above, my hands were getting worse with each lap. My left hand was now malfunctioning to the extent that other than the basic function of holding on, it was essential useless [even now a week later, my hands and feet are still sore]. My left hand could not muster the dexterity or strength to shift gears and it would just barely allow the use of the brake lever, so to adapt I was forced to ride the rest of the race in my middle-chain ring relying completely on my right hand to shift the rear cassette and to do the majority of the braking. In an effort the give my hands a break, on the ninth lap I jumped off the Gunnar with instructions to Mike Haag, my savior, to see if he could readjust some extra-padding I had taped onto the handlebar grips. Leaving behind my trusty Gunnar, I jumped on Mike‘s 2007 Sexy-black brand new Stumpy carbon HT equipped with a plush FOX front shock [see above pic of author on the ill-fitted Stumpy]. Mike’s bike is super twitchy fast, but its too small for me and while it clearly helped reinvigorate my hands I felt ill at ease on it and so about midway through the lap, I resolved to switch back to the Gunnar. On lap #10, back on the Gunnar, my hands showed their true traitorous colors by cramping up into weird rigid contortions, my hands were indeed proving to be the Achilles’ Heel of my goals and aspirations. As such, the pain and loss of function in my hands became almost unbearable on the tenth lap to the extent that I knew my only salvation lay in the generosity of Mike Haag and his willingness to allow me to ride his Stumpy. I came in HOT and crazy on the 11th lap with the plan being to jump on Mike’s bike and to get out of the pit area and back on course fast…I am pretty sure this was the lap that I switched socks and subsequently left off the computer chip. I do clearly remember that upon making the switch of bikes, I came to the realization that Mike’s bike was not set-up to affix my bright, albeit heavy light to the handlebars. Rather than take the time to switch over the light-attachment-thingy that was needed to fasten the light to the bars, I slapped the light onto my helmet and took off. Quickly it became obvious that the light was too heavy and bulky to have hanging off the front of my helmet as with every little bump in the road, the now top heavy helmet would fall down over my eyes. In hindsight this new problem was probably a good thing as it called attention away from other more pressing problems like the onset of super fatigue and the failure of my once proud hands and feet. So with the helmet obscuring my vision both literally and metaphorically, I rode on into the long forlorn night [unknowingly sans computer chip]…

Part III: The Dawn of a gloriously new day coupled with inspirational words from The Wizened One brings jubilation.
ju·bi·la·tion [joo-buh-ley-shuhn]
–noun 1. a feeling of or the expression of joy or exultation: Their jubilation subsided when they lost the second game. 2. a joyful or festive celebration. [Source: Charlie’s old college Webster’s Dictionary]

In Part I, we learn that the writer inadvertently leaves his timing chip at the pit area…he is inconsolable and turns to the Dark Side. In Part II, we see the initially confident amateur begin to falter badly. His plan of riding in the streamline of the stalwart Eki crumbles with the arrival of the youthful Rosscoe, the once trusty Gunnar 29er has left his hands in shambles, and in terms of energy- he’s running on empty. Now in Part III, we found out how it all plays out.

As stated earlier in the narrative, the author’s revelation of leaving the timing chip back at the pit area shakes him to the very core of his existence. Upon learning of this huge mistake, the frantic and chaotic ride back to the pit is a cacophony of negativity manifesting in multiple crashes, loud cursing, and self-loathing. Finally early early morning [probably around 4:00 am] the weary, almost defeated, rider pulls into the pit area, he is said to have called out in a desperate mourn, “Rosscoe I NEED YOU.” Thankfully the youthful newly crowned Champion of the 12 Hours @ 9 Mile [i.e. Ross Fraboni] hears the doleful cry and comes to assistance. “Rosscoe, you have to go to the race officials….You must make them understand….The Horror…the Horror!” Rosscoe, taking on the role of mature adult queries, “What the hell are you talking about?” The mindless one responds, “Rosscoe, look on the blue ground-cloth for there lies the computer-chip-thingy!” Apparently, Ross understands the significance of the computer-chip-thingy not being affixed to the raving maniac’s left ankle and with a calming voice declares, “Charlie, put that damned thing back on your ankle and don’t worry about it, I’ll go over there and talk with the race officials. You focus on the riding and I’ll talk with you again at the end of the next lap.” Tenuously, I nodded in agreement, put the damned thing back on my ankle, grabbed a couple of water bottles, ate a handful of ibupropren, Tums, and electrolyte pills and with a wobble or two headed off for lap #13 or #14...

Now itz important to note that our Team Ski Hut pit area was situated at the very end of the course…so upon leaving the pit I had to ride a few more minutes in order to cross the official start area. In my infinite wisdom, I decided that I wouldn’t tell them the truth about forgetting the computer chip for the last six+ hours, instead I reasoned that I would ask a couple of hypothetical questions to get a sense of whether or not there was any hope that they had some kind of a backup system in place for idiots, like me…So as I cross the start/finish platform area, I stop and say something stupid like, “Hey uh what would happen if a guy rode this race without a computer-chip-thingy?” The guy looks at me kinda funny and sez, “That wouldn’t be too smart, now would it?” His response buoyed my negativity and remorse. I felt the weight of the world’s problems as I pushed on thru and onto yet another lap of hopeless despair. Half of me wanted to quit, but the other half convinced the pessimistic half to get through one more lap just on the off chance that Rosscoe would have some good news to share. The lap consisted of more of the same; lots of crashes, dramatic cursing, and self-loathing combined with lots of walking breaks…In the lexicon of Rocky, I had lost “the eye of the tiger!” Finally, after what seemed like eternity I came once more onto the Team Ski Hut pit area. There Rosscoe enthusiastically informed me that all was well with the race officials. With Rosscoe’s prodding the race guyz had discovered the discrepancy between the computer operated timing and the hand entered timing. The computer chip showed that I was on lap #11 with a six hour plus lap #10, while the hand-entered option showed that I was on lap #13. To be honest, I think they may have missed a lap, but so it goes. In any event, the news bolstered my fragile ego and I resolved to continue for at least one more lap. The sun was coming up and the world once again began to appear benevolently regal, even magnanimous.

Therefore as I began my official lap #14 [I think it was lap #15] Dan Meyer [Dave‘s father], a classy racing veteran that continues to ride very fast, waved me over and offered some reassuring words…and with that I was off with the wind in my hair and a smile on my face, humming BORN FREE as free as the grass grows...born free to fall on my……ultimately I would ride two more laps for an official total of 15 laps earning a 12th place finish or only 10 spots down from Nat Ross or 11 spots down from Chris Eatough…so it goes…..not bad for the consummate amateur!

Postscript: The ride home alone.....well thatz another story of degeneration, fear and loathing! Many thanks to Mike Haag for his generosity in loaning me his new bike. Kudos to Don G from the US Navy, Dave Simmons and Rick Mangan both from North Dakota, Michelle and Mike Haag, David Meyers, Doug Swanson, Dave Pramann, Jan Rybar, Gregg Pattison, the Moore Brothers, Chris Fisher, Dave Shuenamen, Tim Ek and his lovely wife, Amy, Jerry D & Ron S [National Duo Champs!]....Special thanks to Scotty & Sara Kylander-Johnson and Mike Bushey for supplying batteries, and thanks to a bunch of other guyz and gals for outstanding and/or supportive efforts…A special thanks to J. Ross Fraboni for getting to the course on Thursday and claiming a great support area and of course for all his support during my so-called race effort!!!

Epilogue: Musings on what to do next year:
*Have the pit area better organized; perhaps by utilizing bins in which each item or related item is easily spotted and accessed. Digging through a big cardboard box at 3:00 a.m. does not work…
*Manage the liquid intake in a more forthright manner…I suspect that I was taking in way too much in the way of fluids.
*Do not race this event without a new pair of well fitted cycling shoes [Sidi would be best].
*Do not attempt this race next year on a fully rigid bicycle.
*The buffalo sticks are a top-notch food source
*Next year have super cold Boost/Slim Fast/or the like for the late night breaks
*Next time bring a revolver, one bullet, and a pack of non-filtered cigs...just in case I leave my computer thingy at the pit stop again!