Saturday, July 26, 2008

Young Jedi, "IF" you are thinking about the 24 @ 9 Mile read, then reread, and then carefully contemplate Kipling's poem below, then ACT!!!!!!

"If" by R. Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, Or, being hated, don't give way to hating, And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, and stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, and lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

And young Jedi, you are ready for the 24 hours @ 9 Mile!!!!!!!!!!!

Feeding the Rat: Tomorrow is the classic Spirit Mountain race...I am pumped to take on the challenge, but my heart yearns for another, the one that lies waiting near Wausau...Kudos to Scotty K-J and crew for putting in hours upon hours of labor to make this year's course a "true" test for all those fancy pants FSRs....

Friday, July 25, 2008

24 Hour Races can be kinda tough, cuz a guy don't get nowherez. After a spell, a fella starts to think hez going in circles? Can make a man crazy!!!!

Itz less than a week out from the 24 hours @ 9 Mile... Last year at this time, it was incredibly exciting prepping for the Big Summer Formal; this year, I know better!...Just kiddin' but seriously, these 24 hour suburban lap races are tough on a less-than-stable guy's self-esteem in large part because they seem so damned contrived, a guy starts to go crazy... In other words, in my world, they are tougher than other endurance events because a guy aint getting nowhere, a guyz out there trying as hard as he can, killing himself, yet after ten or so hours of pounding the single track combined with the realization that he's seen all the same terrain before lap after lap after lap, he starts to question his sanity! Could it be a metaphor for the absurdity and folly of the human condition? (no one gets out alive!) Think about it: The harder one tries, the faster one pedals around the loop, the fact of the matter is that at the end of the 24 hour day, when they tally up the progress, itz a big fat zero, right back at the starting line! A guy, even a guy with mild dementia sees everything and experiences all the "joys" of the trail surely after the second or third lap! ...Plus, every hour or so (every lap) pathetic guyz like me and the other poor folk from up in the blue-collar Mesabi Nord Country, are forced to sheepishly bear witness to all the fancy richly endowed big city-folk with their fully supported cadres of loving, supportive, and competent pit crews, as we dig and salvage through our squalid camps for a bit of foul water, discounted snickers bars, and cheap fish paste. Contrasting cases-in-point: With The Red Ass 300 or The Trans-Iowa ( big majestic 300+ mile loops) or The Arrowhead 135 (135 wilderness miles from Point A to Point B), a guy takes off self-sufficient and alone knowing what he needs to do; which is to ride the route come what may. He may very well develop a relationship with his competitors, they may even form into a "Band of Brothers", for there is safety and comfort in numbers when out alone in the night on the long forlorn trail. But with these impersonal lap races, where one can see Las Vegas style lights at every turn and on every horizon, where there is blaring music and refreshments served at all hours, no one feels the need to form relationships with other riders as he or she is never more than a few paces away from his or her kinfolk or tribe, where every hour or so a guy is right back where he started from....It don't make no sense to me, it don't mean nothin', especially when itz 3:00 am and ya been on the proverbial rat wheel for 17 hours; but itz close by and itz super fun to line up with some of the best enduro-riders in the country, so I'll be there ready to do battle, loving every minute of it!!!...Alas Goethe was right---

"Let's plunge ourselves into the roar of time, the whirl of accident; may pain and pleasure, success and failure, shift as they will -- it's only action that can make a man."

Cryptic Note for non-cycling crowd: Cornered at my local pub the other day, I began conversing regime change with a preppy quasi-politico and the topic of potential vice-presidents came up...The old boy happened to have graduated from good ole Gustavus Adolphus College a few years after me. As you well know, much as been made of the possibility of Minnesota's governor, Mr. Pawlenty, (sans mullet) as a possible choice for McCain's number 2. By and by, a fringe theme came up regarding requisite leadership qualities for the federal executive and vice-executive positions. The wanna-be pundit spoke of his college days and the extraordinary, even legendary characteristics of a president of his fraternity (Tau Si Omega), making the case that this leader back then possessed all the right stuff and if he's still of this earth would make a top notch president to lead us out of the vast desert of isolation that we seem to have been blindly coaxed by the so called NEO-CONS ( in a post-Bush era). In a lackluster effort to feign interest, I asked him the name of this old frat president. Upon hearing the name, "Bobby Holmes" I nearly choked on my hearty stout. Regaining my composure, I stated clear as a bell. " Richard Olson was the President of the Reds my senior year, and I knew Bobby Holmes and I knew Richard J. Olson, Dick Olson was a friend of mine, Richard Olson was my roommate, and Bobby Holmes was no R.J. Olson! Dick Olson was the best REDS President in the history of the school" :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

24 Hours of 9 Mile National Championships--The Evolution of a Mindset...

Evolving random thoughts on the 24 hours @ 9 mile...A Man needs a plan, so I am thinking that my goal is to simply achieve 18 laps. To achieve this goal, I will need to approach the project given the following parameters or assumptions: (Note: last year, without a plan, at this race I was credited with 15 laps, but I am pretty sure that I got 16, maybe even 17 laps in; rest assured that itz a long twisted story of personal decline and loathing)--Seasonal weather, standard course conditions, and getting in 17 laps before the clock strikes "10" in the morning on Sunday, August 3rd. Remember one is allowed, under the rules, to keep going for a final lap if he or she gets past the start line before 10:00 am on Sunday and I plan to utilize this rule to my advantage. 18 laps would be a great effort for me and therefore represents my goal for the race, I need to focus solely on achieving this singular goal and therefore forget about how everybody else is doing during the race. Note: I need to get it straight in my head that this is not a regular race where it behooves one to stay with the pack, conversely in this event it seems to me that the best results may well come from riding at one's ultimate, yet precise individual limit. In other words, although my strategy for this key summer event is just in the primarily stages, I am thinking that my best bet is to approach this tough challenge from the perspective that it is a race against the clock, not other racers; that it is essentially an individual time trial (I hate time trials because they are too predictable in that the fastest guy usually wins). This is a hard approach for me to consider as I am predisposed or "hardwired" to thinking about cycling as a challenge between individuals, and of course all of the great variables that arise when one enters into a race composed of irrational and unpredictable humans (thatz why I love the sport, as anything can happen at any point!). Yet, for this unique endurance event due to the tremendous requirements of physical toil and mental angst over a long long period of time, coupled with the composition of a large and top notch field of riders, I really think I will enjoy a better result, if I can somehow forget the others, forget the placing, forget about who is looking strong and who is in the "hurt-tank" and instead focus solely and completely on efficiently racing alone against the clock....Me against The Clock (a great metaphor, but alas we all know the ultimate winner and the ultimate outcome!).

More to come in the next couple weeks, but rest assured that I will arrive at 9 Mile having a well conceived plan-of -action...Of course itz like the old adage sez: "Once the shooting starts, throw out the plans, and run like hell!"
ps Here's hoping Eki Hondo did well in the WEMs 12 Hours today :)

An amateur's summer reading list:

Great Summer Reading: Simultaneously and with great enthusiasm, I am way into three amazing books right now. As a teacher of social studies I take my summer reading seriously, but as I love to read the effort is not unlike feeding the rat while cycling…

Howard Fineman’s “The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring debates that define and inspire our country.” A great read that promotes a notion that I hold near and dear to my heart; namely, that productive, well conceived argument is a good thing; a necessary and productive element of a progressive democracy (dialectical constructivism or the "Socratic method"). Weaving the here-and-now with great historic examples, Fineman provides an in depth analysis of thirteen critical topics/debates (from both sides) that have (and continue to) greatly impacted the “American Experience.” The chapters on the role of faith and the extent of the power base of the executive branch are especially captivating. Students of my 2008 fall American Govt. courses will be excited to note that I will be using Fineman’s work to supplement class! Five stars…A required read for any and all committed government aficionados, especially teachers.

Neil Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to death.” Although published 20+ years ago, Postman’s academic thesis on the disastrous implications of our society’s fundamental shift from learning (and thinking) via the written word to pseudo-learning (and not thinking) from watching television is perhaps even more relevant today (lump in with “the boob-tube” all the other “high-tech” trivial garbage that has been shamelessly marketed to the “soma-addicted” public in the last two decades, e.g. computer games, cell phones, "shock jock" radio, Fox news, etc…). Credit my good buddy Scotty Kylander-Johnson for requiring me to read A. Huxley’s Brave New World prior to starting Postman’s work. In that, an exposure of the themes presented by Huxley (and also those of Orwell’s 1984 and Vonnegut's Player Piano) significantly enhances ones ability to appreciate the essential point of Postman’s work. The main point being that we have been duped by the fast-food 7 minute TV nation. Postman contends that Orwell’s totalitarian world would be easy to hate and to therefore rail against, but Huxley’s world is much more covert, subtler and therefore insidious in itz ability to trick us into becoming “comfortably numb” content to mindlessly consume shiny knick knacks, while the earth burns. Itz great stuff…Of course, Ya can do what ya want, but even before, my kid had to fight hard to get even 30 minutes on PBS in our house and now after reading Postman, I am concerned that even that time allotment is too much.

Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms,” is aptly considered a classic. I was not sure about Hemmingway as I was forced to read the Old Man and the Sea in high school by a tyrannical malcontented she-wolf, but now without the duress of picking out symbolism and other contrived busy-work, Hemingway’s epic narrative of a forlorn American ambulance driver in Italy during WWI is a masterpiece. It is just great great writing…pick up a copy and become completely enthralled! I love this book, I love Cat!!!!! This is great great great literature-- I say "Hemingway for President!"

Feeding the Rat: I'll get 20 hours in for the week by Sunday evening, then itz taper as follows--
10 to 12 hours next week; 5 to 6 hours the following week; and then ITZ THE BIG Mega-SUMMER FORMAL @ 9 Mile...I am getting totally pumped!!!!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thank You WTB!!!!

Here is a plug for the outstanding service that I received from Chris at WTB. Given my dementia and perhaps to a lesser degree my reliance on copious daily intakes of that magical elixir of fermented barley and hops of antiquity, I special ordered the wrong saddle from WTB via QBP. Upon receiving it, rather than just dealing with it and sending it back, I decided to keep the one that I got (WTB Rocket SLT,) and throw away any evidence that I had purchased it. But alas several dayz later, I knew after only about 20 minutes on the trainer (of which I had mounted the new saddle) that it was not the right fit. Essentially, while it is highly thought of by many top-notch endurance riders, The Rocket is too narrow and contoured for my aged backside. In any event, even though I had no receipt, no box, nothing, coupled with the fact that I rode the saddle for a good thirty minutes; the guyz at WTB still worked with me and let me exchange the saddle for the Devo model (which is flatter and more suited to my big ole backside!!!) Thanks again to WTB and if you need a tire or a saddle they make great gear…The Nano Raptor in my humble opinion is the best all around tire out there and the 2.55 Weirwolf is a great tire as well…

I am forced to skip the big WORS race at Eau Claire this coming Sunday as my wife needs to leave for graduate school on Sunday in the early afternoon. Itz a bummer as itz a totally great course that attracts lots & lots of great riders, plus I had a great week of training and I am hungry to race a short&flat and fast course…Good Luck to all the Ski Hut riders and everybody else too…
Itz only four weeks until the 24 Hours National Championships at 9 Mile (August 2nd & 3rd) and just three weeks until the local Spirit Mountain race…The plan is to taper big time after this coming week in terms of hours on the bike with a concerted effort to totally recover and rest up the ten dayz out from the Big Dance…In my little amateur world, the 24 Hours @ 9 Mile is the main event for the Summer, so I want to have a priority, relatively top-notch performance (Note: It breaks down like this- The Arrowhead 135 for Winter, The Trans Iowa and/or the Red Ass 300 for Spring, and the Minnesota State CX Championships for Fall). I’ll use the Spirit Mt Race here in my backyard on the Sunday before the NATS to simply clean out the spark plugs and make sure the trusty Gunnar is ship shape and ready to go. The possibility exists that I may be able to borrow one of those fancy Asian plastic jobs with all the bells and whistles (or may be borrow a front suspension shock) to ride later-on in the race to help on the wear and tear that comes on about Hour 10 and really begins to intensify with the loss of the sun. In any event, I am pumped to beat my last year’s effort with an eye on finishing better than 12th place….Although as anyone who has done it can attest to, 24 hours on a rough mountain bike course is a very very tough proposition and super hard on the body and even more so on ones soul!!!! Last year, I started well, but with the darkness came destructive merciless demons, one of whom for a crucial time span stole my timing chip sending me into a major tailspin of woe and despair. While the logistics, tactics, and pre-race preps are relatively straightforward as compared to the AH 135 or the Trans Iowa/RED ASS; I'd say that it terms of time spent lamenting in the "hurt tank" the 24 hours @ 9 mile is the most grueling event of the year. Of course, itz a sin to bury a healthy body...
PS: Kudos to Charly Tri (from my hometown of Rochester, MN) for an outstanding effort at the Levis/Trow 100. Very impressive effort...I would wager that Minnesota and especially Wisconsin has one of the largest collections of Enduro-freaks in the nation. He beat Tim Ek and me by well over an hour on a very ch alleging course and he beat a host of other talented guyz by 30 or even 40 minutes...including Chris Schotz (spelling?), a WEMs legend and several other "real deals."