Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The finest of the youth of America meet in Iowa this weekend...only to be tragically usurped by unscrupulous grizzled old men with no morals...

On itz way to race across the lonely wind swept barrens of remote Iowa, this finely crafted steel frame/fork set is brought to you compliments of Chris Kelly of California. The highly adaptable build is compliments of the fine folks at the locally owned THE SKI HUT, located in the East Hillside section of hilly and old Duluth Minnesota. If you are ever in the North Country look them up…The owner of the bike is the handsome one with the boyish figure in the foreground of the photograph. His benign, casual demeanor belies his stout heart for adventure (and beer)...

Friday, April 24, 2009

A compelling contractual offer re:T.I. Should I sign? Dare I sign? Itz tempting, yet eternity is a long time? There is no free lunch, but still...

AGREEMENT between:CPF of Duluth, MN:(hereinafter referred to as “Client”)
Lucifer of Hades, Subterranean Nether Lands (hereinafter referred to as “Consultant”)

WHEREAS the Consultant has agreed to provide services set out in clause (2) hereof to Client AND the parties have agreed and do hereby agree that the terms of such agreement be put into writing NOW THEREFORE the parties agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions:- The Client agrees to the following: upon completion of the 2009 Trans-Iowa the Client will turn over his soul for eternity to the Consultant. In return the Consultant agrees to do everything in his power to support the Client in his quest to have a top finish in the 2009 Trans-Iowa Cycling Race (hereinafter referred to as "TI"). The Consultant also agrees to employ various and sundry curses against the Client's rivals. These curses shall manifest themselves by initiating, but are not limited to, broken chains, flat tires, broken spokes, and even catastrophic collapse of any carbon-fiber cycling components and/or frames.

1. The Term: This agreement will commence and terminate on the dates as follows: May 2nd, Saturday at 4:00 am until the finish of the TI sometime on May 3rd, 2009

2. The Services: The Consultant will or will ensure that its employees (Dark Angels) will perform the following services (“the Service”). Note: Nothing contained in this contract will be construed as or have the effect of constituting a relationship of employer and employee between the parties to this agreement. The services are restricted to the following: The disruption of all cyclists in various forms (including, but not limited to, horrific weather, dead bowel syndrome, and major bike mechanicals; see Key words below) in their efforts to complete the TI, except the Client [see above for further reference to specific services. Key words; curses, broken chains, broken spokes, flat tires, cracks in carbon-fiber frames and components].

3. The Fee: The Client's Soul for services rendered (to receive the fee the Consultant must deliver and thus the Client must finish within the Top Three Overall for the 2009 Trans-Iowa Bicycle Race. The fee payable by Client to the Consultant will be the fee as is specified above. The fee will be payable at the frequency indicated in Appendix 1. All fees quoted are exclusive of [ VAT / GST / SALES TAX ]. Where it is indicated in Appendix 1 that Invoices will be submitted by the Consultant the Consultant will submit to Client invoices for fees payable adding the appropriate rate of [ VAT / GST / SALES TAX ] from time to time to each invoice (if it is appropriate to do so). Client will pay each invoice within [ Insert payment period ] days of the date of the invoice. The Consultant will submit invoices to the address specified in 1.

4. Law
This Agreement will be governed by and construed in accordance with the Laws of the great state of Iowa and the rules of the TI. Any dispute which may arise between the parties concerning this Agreement will be determined by Guitar Ted and the parties hereby submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the TI courts for such purpose.

Signed by and on behalf of Client Group
By [ Client signature ]

Signed by and on behalf of Consultant
By [ Consultant signature ]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring is for gravel epics...and other things as well...

A free-flowing random cathartic muse on the season so far, with an emphasis on the Ragnarok 105, etc…

One thing is for sure and thatz that the Ragnarok 105 was a wonderful start to the racing season. The predominately gravel-road course encompassed a myriad of beautifully thrilling Mississippi river valley farm and wooded roads that abound all around Lake City, Red Wing, Millville, etc. It was a great turnout with many eager riders (I bet close to 100 riders?) enjoying comradeship enhanced by the fine weather and top notch race management. The race in all aspects [from pre-race organization to spot-on maps to good-cheer from the race directors] was well worth the entry fees that were significantly less than those offered by Granny Gear Productions (GGP). [Note: The entry fee for the Ragnarok 105 was $0.00 while the entry fee for the 24 Hours @ 9 Mile this year due to new management under GGP is well over $340, not including camping fees and a USC license—I said this was a random entry!]

Given the free flowing nature of this blog-entry I will now willy-nilly, simply, and randomly without grammatical boundaries, sentence structure, or Judo-Christian parameters write down what comes to mind when I reflect on the day @ Ragnarok 105:

Camping at the nearby state park was outstanding. Wild turkeys are impressive animals, but seem to lack respect for the American Way. Is it just me, or Are the thousands of adults that dress themselves up like the Hells Angels of yesteryear and ride super obnoxious, ill-conceived Harley-Davidsons displaying abnormal behavior? The Dual Exhaust Motorsports Community (DEMC) has stored away itz arsenal of rocket snow-sleds and pulled out their monster powerboats for on the same day as the Ragnarok, it actively waged an early albeit high-tech, high octane, and unmerciful war on little fishies in the backwaters of the Mississippi. I know this because we shared an expansive parking lot with the DEMC for the start of the Ragnarok 105 over in Colville Park. There had to have been a thousand huge speed boats motoring out of the marina at around 7:00 am on Saturday morning. In a vivid juxtaposition, while the cyclists busily, albeit quietly made pre-race adjustments to their simple bicycles, hundreds of power boats patriotically pulled out of the harbor and headed up the river to do battle. The scene of this citizen navy reminded me of depictions of the Spanish Armada or photographs of the beach invasion of Normandy. Furthermore, as those large men motored slowly onward in their hot-rod boats, many smoking their first cigs of the morning, I remember having the odd thought that those un-American fish are gonna get what they deserve! I also remember thinking that computer technology combined with the combustion engine had served us well in the pursuit of finishing off any fish or other wild beasts that were able to get through the 20th century.

Itz only April 20th and I already have almost thirty hours of racing in for 2009 and by Sunday, May 3rd that total could easily surpass fifty-five hours!!! Twenty-three hours+ in the Arrowhead 135 in February, ~six hours to complete the Ragnarok 105, and most likely a good twenty-four hours+ to finish the Trans-Iowa. All this before most of my buddies do their first short mtb race for 2009, starting at the Cable Classic on May 16th…Although I just saw on that TJ Woodruff, Chris Peariso and Tom Bender (all local WORS fast guyz) all did very well in the Sea Otter MTB race. Doug Swanson (in my opinion, still the best racer in the Midwest) and local Duluth roadies, Jake Boyce and Matt Hanson all did well in the Durand, Wisconsin road race on Saturday. This reminds me that I must get to work on publishing the 2008 List of The Most Impressive Accomplishments in My Smallish Cycling World. Note: Unfortunately, regarding The List, the governing body has declared that a few modifications be made, including the delisting of the following endeavors from consideration: duathlons, triathlons, and snowshoe racing (especially when using ping-pong racket sized snowshoes on groomed ski trails). Essentially, the DBD Honor Board felt that these “activities” did not rise to the level of the definition of “sport.”

Back to the Ragnarok—the first half was conducted in a nice amicable atmosphere with Larry Sauber, Nick Oswald, and Tim Ek leading the boyz up the initial steep hills. Dave Pramann, the wise old fox, sat back and let the young bucks fire up the significant climbs. The coolest bike was the baby-blue Voodoo single-speed rig rode by whom I believe to be Heath Weisbrod. The coolest jerseys belong to the Cars-R-Coffins contingent. Both Weisbrod and Oswald demonstrated great ability in this hundred mile effort. This new wave of really strong and fast guyz on single speeds is most impressive. My buddies, Jason Novak of Rochester and Jeremy Kershaw of Duluth also had fine efforts. Look for Novak to contend in Iowa and Kershaw to boldly attack at Almanzo. Also most worthy of note is the grand effort demonstrated Joe Meiser by riding his Great Divide Race bike in full regalia. Look for Joe to be a top finisher in the upcoming thrilla in Iowa…

Very early on there was a collective sense of sadness and lost when Charly Tri flatted, the author wept (which had a dehydrating effect later in the race). Immediately there was a concerted attempt by the humanistic leaders to reign in the group, to in essence harness the pace until Mr. Tri could regain the group. Further down the line, but still relatively early into the fray, Tim Ek flatted and then again all seven of the lead group expressed great remorse for their fallen comrade and consternation for random evils that are willy-nilly visited upon the very best of our species. Upon hearing the news of his demise, I could not help but to recall that Ek had not been seen in church on Easter Sunday. Back to the race and Ek’s inopportune mechanical: dealing with a flat at that point, some thirty miles into it, given that the pace had increased; catching the front runners would have involved a mammoth effort and thus represented a major conundrum for my partner from the Hills of Duluth. I rode on with tears streaming down my face, soaking my lapel, as I truly had planned to ride the whole way with my trusty training partner and kindred spirit.

Forced into a realm of surreal dichotomy, Mr. Ek was compelled to ride the remaining seventy miles solo in that nether-land between heaven and earth and between elation and remorse. So it was that on this day, Ek was a recipient of the free swinging “hinge factor,” but remember—that mystical door swings both ways, so watch for him to seek revenge on the barrens of Iowa come the first Saturday of May! Like a ship without a rudder, the loss of his intrepid partner forced the unstable and promiscuous one to attempt to develop a hasty plutonic relationship with another. Tri and/or Pramann were the obvious choices to be on the short-list for a spontaneous tryst; Tri being young, athletic, and fast while Pramann’s experience and capacity for stoic suffering is legendary.

Contrived in Duluth during the week prior, the plan-of-action had been to try some kind of “break” at the halfway checkpoint. A pivotal point in the race where riders were required to stop to sign-in, pick up a second course map, and reload on fluids, etc. Pramann knew the plan, but enigmatically failed to act choosing instead to follow his own covert and calculated T.I. agenda, (I am picking Pramann to win the Trans-Iowa). Jeremy Fry seemed to know the score as he left the half-way point hurriedly, but then inexplicably not more than fifty feet out on the road, Fry stopped to curry favor from a support car that drove by and then pulled over. For a moment, the writer was left to his own devices, so he immediately panicked. But alas Tri came up fast and thus a partnership-of-convenience; made-in-haste was formed. Under the banner of “Out of sight; out of mind,” Charly Tri took off up a long slightly inclining jeep-type trail with the author in tow, exercising full-on “draft-mode” position. The shared and stated goal was to go hard for as long as it took for us to be out of the line of sight from the chase group. It was great while it lasted, but I knew it would never last for there was just too much that separates us. He is youthfully athletic, charismatic, and a man of the prairie. I am old, hideously decrepit and malformed, and a man bent on taking his last breath in the arctic wastelands.

All things equal, Charly Tri would certainly prevail within the dimensions and scope of a Ragnarok-like event, so it was no surprise that after about an hour or so of fast mutually beneficial racing, each taking a pull after quick exchanges, he methodically rode away into the sunset on a long asphalt ascent. He was impressive as he broke free from our ill defined relationship and then in the blink of an eye, he rapidly disappeared into the grand coulees of the Mississippi bluff country. He never looked back and I never saw him again (except afterwards when he generously gave me a Coke)…

Alone with my memories of scornful rejection and yet still in contention for a top spot with less than twenty-five miles to go, I resolved to push on as hard as I could with the hope that those that followed would be unable to develop into an effective chase group. On every ridge top, I scanned the valleys below for riders and my heart continued to soar each time for I saw no one… Riding into the city of Red Wing, I had but one thought and that was how good it was gonna be to crack open a bottle of cold New Glarus Black Wheat Ale.

Many thanks to the race organizers for a wonderful day of cycling. One day in the near future, we need to put together a similar event up here in the Northland for the Ragnarok represents the best of citizen racing in the good ole USA…

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Ragnarok 105 was a blast!!!

Nary a cloud in a warm blue sky.
The valleys were low.
The hills were high,
and no one could catch
.... speedy Charly Tri :)

A fully embellished report to follow in a few dayz...

Monday, April 13, 2009

If I couldn't race...I'd sell my bikes...well okay, I probably wouldn't sell them...but still I am pumped for the race season to commence!!!

April, 13th, 2009. Today was the last day of official base training for the author. Consequently, from now on, until late fall any cycling that I do that involves serious effort will be official bike races. Many thanks and kudos to my trusty training partner, Tim Ek of whom motivated me and thus acted as the catalyst for what has become the most fruitful base training preseason for both of us since the demise of US Postal. Look for Ek to be a major force this year in all events that are long and hard...

In the short term, the goal is to be competitive in the upcoming three Spring Classics starting next Saturday with the Ragnok 105 (spelling?), then the mega-ultra classic Trans-Iowa on May 2nd, and then finished off the spring with the Almanzo 100 near Rochester on May 16th. After the spring, the plan is to focus on getting in five or six of the WEMS 12 hour races in Wisconsin with a few local area races in as well. Hopefully I will survive the summer months of June, July, and August and still be able to compete in the 24 Hours @ Seven Oaks in early September. The last mountain bike race for me will probably be the most outstanding "Underdown at the Thunderdown" (or something like that, in any event, it is NOT to be missed)…If I am still able to ride in October, I’d like to do a few cyclocross races too…

But for now, I am done with the serious training. Now itz up to my team of pharmacists, nutritionists, kinesiologists, physicians, brewmasters, professional cycling coaches, and astrologists to carefully peruse, analyze, and conduct "what-if" scenarios using the plethora of bio-feedbacks and other covert technological out-puts gleaned from the myriad of various and complex Chinese carbon high-tech, highly colorful and graphical computational in-puts that have been painstakingly entered into my Cray/NASA Mainframe Computer System via the several computers that grace my expensive bicycles, over the course of this base training segment of my season. These consummate professionals using the most current cutting-edge carbon-fiber technology related to both cycling fitness and barley fermentation will ultimately develop a plan-of-action for me to follow in this upcoming competitive season. For the rest of you, those that still rely solely on the antiquated heart rate monitors, caffeine pills, and power-watts meters, etc… Get ready for humbling defeats!!! The season starts in just 5 dayz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ll be the one totally encased from head to toe and from front wheel to back wheel in carbon…so watch out!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Circle of Life...

After a life time of austere academic experimentation, the circle is finally closed.

“Our Black Wheat arrives to relieve the bleak bore of Wisconsin's winter. Rich and chewy this bottle conditioned weiss is bursting with Midwestern wheat, oats, rye and finished by malted barley.” (Note: their winter is our spring. cpf)

Many greats have languished (and were ultimately defeated) to close the proverbial circle; Einstein’s forlorn efforts at unifying the infinite complexities of the universe into a singular concept and Wilson’s lonely endeavor to end the world of wars come immediately to mind.

For those of you that follow my work, you know that I too have a “dream.” A dream that many have dismissed as unworkable, impossible, and even ridiculously grandiose. Yet, like those sojourners before me, I too have born the slings and arrows of scornful criticism and reproach with grace and dignity. Of course the times of great personal despair and self-doubt were too innumerable to count, but even in my darkest moments I soldiered onward using those that fought so bravely before me as my inspiration. Confounded, ridiculed, and doubted even by those closest to me, recently I was on the brink of defeat.

It is sometimes the case that the darkest moments in pursuit of major achievements are right before the breaking of dawn; such was the case a few nights ago. Taking a brief respite from my work, in a dark pessimistic mood, I turned on the BBC news and began to take in stories of a bleak world on the precipice of catastrophic global disaster. I inadvertently cracked open a seasonal New Glarus product, Black Wheat. The black-as-midnight brew upon ingestion inexplicably caused my frame of mind to soar! I burst into tears of joy for I knew instantaneously that I had closed the circle!!! I had unintentionally discovered the missing link, the key to unifying my work. As I wept, and continued to drink this elixir of genius, my taste-buds were repeatedly overwhelmed by the beauty of nature in all its grandeur. By the second bottle, the ecstasy was too much to fathom or contemplate, so I simply immersed myself in the moment for I knew at that instant true, unabridged contentment...

So now we have it—a unified seasonal beer calendar specifically calibrated for complimenting all aspects of Northeastern Minnesota. Winter is for Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, Spring is for New Glarus’ Black Wheat, Summer is for Summit’s Pale Ale, and Fall is for New GlarusUff-Da. Special occasions require Bell’s Expedition Stout.

My work is finally done, I am exhausted, yet thrilled…

Monday, April 6, 2009

A little down-time and a keyboard can be a dangerous combination....

The season is about to begin and I am as nervous and excited as a young black lab on his first duck hunting trip. Being so eager to start racing bicycles got me to thinking about the complexities associated with motivation and how without it a guy should just cash it in and move on cuz he aint no good to no one when the mojo’s gone.

During the course of a life-long vocation committed to the pursuit of irrational amateurish gamesmanship there are pivotal moments when a true Man-of-action senses it is time to change course. With me the change over to a new athletic pursuit has always been abrupt and dramatic, devoid of reminiscing and/or second-guessing. In short, I make the cut instantaneous throwing myself headlong into the new game with no looking back. Perhaps Erikson was on to something with his contention that one’s life passes through a series of significant conflict points in which a person is confronted with a series of personal, albeit predictable crises. The theory goes on to purport that it is the resolution of these consecutive “critical moments” that determine ones path onward. Maybe itz not such a stretch to apply Erikson to what drives a guy to “give it up” for just a silly game…

As a young vigorous lad, initially I was confronted head-on with one of these transitional and thus anxious moments during the final couple of games my senior year at Gustavus Adolphus College where I was an undersized, albeit highly motivated, even intrepid nose-guard for the good ole Black and Gold Gusties. Prior to those last two Saturdays in the fall of 1982, athletically I had essentially been consumed with playing football since I was in the 4th grade. Even though I was never anything to brag about and I'd been hurt really bad several times, I loved everything about the game and so everything I did and thought about in terms of organized sport was directly connected to playing football. Football was my youthful passion for nearly twelve years.

So at the start of my senior year I was at the pinnacle of enthusiasm and then abruptly with only two games left in my so-called “football career” some incomprehensible feeling deep within me stirred a kind of unsolicited dreadful apprehension…It must have been a powerfully negative feeling because even now, all these years later, I still recall a vivid sense of foreboding that possessed me as I awaited for those last two games to end so I could “cut the cord” with football. The second to the last game was commenced on a beautiful late fall day at the campus stadium in Saint Peter. I remember waking up that morning suffering from a confusing, fretful, and essentially alien or phobic sensation that I did not want to play anymore. This was a very strange feeling for me given that I have always been a game-day sorta guy, loving and cherishing the excitement that exists before any big event. As anyone who knows me can attest, I have never had a problem getting fired-up. In fact, in my case, I often push the emotions related to a pre-game “arousal” mode to the point of counter-production…Yet, for the first time in my life on the morning of a big game, I slept in. I remember laying there well after the time that we were suppose to get up and get over to the mess hall wrestling with a strong, albeit foreign sense of melancholy combined with a really really dramatic worrying impulse that I was going to blow out my knee again and thus be crippled for the rest of my life… Later in the morning, while all my mates were getting ready in the locker room; getting taped, putting on the freshly laundered uniforms, and all that other cool stuff (pregame rituals that I had grown to dearly treasure). I remember agonizing over why I felt so out of place and so lethargic. I must have got through that one okay and interestingly I don't remember any aspect of the actual game, including who we played or even if we won or lost, but I am sure that I did not play with inspiration.

The last game of football I ever played was way up in Moorhead, Minnesota against Concordia College. Not only was it the last game for me (and all the other seniors, including several of the best guyz I have ever known), it was a big game for Gustavus as we had a chance, with a victory, to gain a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs. Yet the unsettled feeling of trepidation had not abated and so I clearly remember planning to play the game in a manner that would minimize my chances of getting hurt. Itz amusing to look back now, given what I know now about options and things like that, but back then I never whispered a word about any of these weird feelings to anyone. Even though we lost that final game, I remember that the team played well and after a slow, hesitant start, I want to believe that I gave an inspired effort as well. While its kinda funny in a disconcerting sort of way, now that I think about it… but as the rest of the seniors waxed nostalgic after the game and a lot of beers, I was at best relieved and at worst nihilistic, happy to be done and in decent shape. I walked away from football and never looked back for I had completely lost interest. Of course, I was at the end of this initial obsessive run anyway due to societal constraints, but in any event, to this day, I have no interest in the game of football at any level.

While most of my college buddies at the conclusion of that season resolved to never play organized sport again and to instead follow the prescribed path that our society dictates, I never for a moment thought about quitting the game, I just needed a new one to play. Theoretically, I guess if we want to follow the Erikson premise I was forced into my first crisis, but I certainly never considered giving up playing the proverbial “game.” I immediately threw myself into the pursuit of rugby, a game that perhaps complimented my modest athletic abilities better than football had. I loved rugby, I loved the whole rugby lifestyle and I pursued it with a passion that even surpassed football. I had played the game while at Gustavus during the spring seasons and in the summers with the Rochester club, but only as vehicles from which to hone my football skills. Using the pursuit of a Master’s degree as a ruse, it was at the University of Colorado that I was afforded the opportunity to play the game as it was designed and so it was in Boulder where I began to think of myself primarily as a Ruby Player. We had a tremendous team and I had to work hard to make the first team; a team that ultimately qualified for the National Championship Tournament in which we finish 3rd overall losing to the University of Michigan for a chance at the championship game against Harvard, but defeating the University of California-Berkley in the consolation bracket. But alas two serious injuries plagued my second year in Boulder; forcing me to sit out during the post season play and so I again began to seek another avenue to satisfy my passion for competition, but with the idea that I would be back to play rugby.

Of course, the alpine surroundings of the Front Range screamed climbing and I heard the call clearly…Still limping from a severe and chronic hamstring injury, three years out of Gustavus, I embarked on a game that continues to this day to stir deep and powerful emotions within my loins of sheer enthusiastic contentment. I started climbing and knew right off that rugby was going to give way to a new game. From the first time I donned a climbing harness, tied into a rope, and placed a piece of protection into a slotted crack I was totally and irreparably hooked. I will go to my grave loving climbing…Rock climbing, ice climbing, and then alpinism dominated my life for the next fifteen years. El Dorado Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Lumpy Ridge, and Rocky Mountain National Park became my stadiums and the results of dynamic erosion became my competition. After five or six years, I expanded the arena to include bigger, higher, and thus more challenging rivals culminating in a series of five expeditions to Alaska and the Yukon Territories. After an unsuccessful and harrowing effort on Mount Hunter and subsequent failure on Mount McKinley, I went home from Alaska with the righteous attitude that it was time for me to settle down some and find a respectable career.

Unlike football and rugby, as of yet I have not be able to divorce myself completely from climbing. Many, if not most, of the most intensely lived dayz of my life occurred while I was climbing with my climbing buddies— from being stuck on the Ames Wall, lost on the Grand Teton, to watching the moon rise over the Saint Elias range from the East Ridge of Mount Logan, these experiences have left an indelible mark burned into my brain.

I will climb again someday, I can sense it…Perhaps here we begin to see a chink in Erikson’s theory. It is true that I rarely climb now, but I still read each year’s American Alpine Journal from cover to cover as well as studying each issue of Climbing magazine.

While I have been racing bicycles since the late 1970s it was not until 1995 that I began to place cycling on the same plane as alpinism. By that time my focus was on mountaineering and so cycling, especially off –rode riding, acted as a great training compliment. By 2000 with the birth of my daughter I was obsessed with cycling as it afforded me a method by which to “feed the rat” and yet also attempt to fulfill my duties as a father and husband. For playing the risky and even deadly game in the mountains aint no game to be playin’ for a daddy of a little person. Personally, growing older, slower, but wiser and tougher, the last couple of years have forced in me a new avenue of great interest within the world of cycling. I am now fixated with endurance racing…Wow!!! I need to get to bed...Suffice to say: I cannot wait for the season to begin….Oh yeah and in a decade or so look for me solo sailing on the Seven Seas living the dreams of Tilman and Chichester.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A kinder, gentler blogger

Blues are bluer, water is more watery, stouts are more stouter....I am a new man now, after I was told that I am in possession of a colon devoid of polyps...more to come
Peace & Love,