Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amazing night...

I rode me a good one tonight. It was just me, all alone on a beautiful snow-packed trail...a silvery moon was out, it was cold but breathless, and I rode with a herd of playful deer along the Northshore Trail. They would run up ahead and then wait fer me and then bound up and over again, when I got close, and then wait and wave their bushy white tails, and then bound off again, some of them jumping so high that they went clear over the moon...and there aint no way you can tell me that they weren't out having as good-a-time as I was havin'...It was really something to behold...Without gettin' all emotional and all, suffice to say, it was a beautiful night to be out on the trail...just beautiful....Life is beautiful...there I go gettin' all emotional and all...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Just back to Duluth...

Here's hoping that you and your's have a great new year!!! We are just back from a few dayz of skiing up in the magical UP of Michigan...I was going to taper a bit in anticipation of this Saturday's Northshore Winter Ultra...but I just received word that the event has been cancelled due to poor numbers (and no doubt other issues as well)...So it goes...It had a weird feel about it, ever since he had to change it from a Northshore Trail point-to-point from Duluth to Two-Harbors to a Lester River eight-mile loop 11 lap race....Itz not a big deal to me as I live about ten minutes (by bike) from the start and I was only looking at it as just another big training ride for the Arrowhead 135, but I do hope it will fly in the future. My revised plan for my Holiday Break is to really try and pack away some big saddle time for the week (20 plus hours) and read some good books...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thanks to Mr. Roe and Team...Toscubia...Did not disappoint!!!

Tuscobia Race Recap

Initial remarks:

Before I begin, let me convey to Tim Roe and his band of gracious volunteers a heartfelt THANK YOU. The idea of transporting the racers to the start via a school bus was both novel and exceptionally fun. Some of my most stirring memories from the event stem from laughing and joking with the fellas on the bus including Chris Finch, John Kurth, Chris Schotz, Nick Wethington, Matt Maxwell, Dennis Grelk, Bill Shand, and as well as my own duo of training buddies, Jason and Jeremy. The comradeship that developed was very appealing and had the effect of getting the author even more fired-up for the grand reunion in a few weeks up in International Falls. We also had a wonderful time hanging out in the Edge-o-Town motel the night before. Thanks to Jeremy Kershaw for booking the room and in general taking a leadership role…A special thank you to Bill Shand for getting up pre 3:00 a.m. to start a great pot of coffee.

The finish located at the home of one of the volunteers speaks volumes to the generosity of the folks in charge. It was really fun to hang out and drink a few beers with racers and volunteers in this rustic Northwoods abode. I especially enjoyed spending time with Lance Andre, Karen DeBoise, and the race director, Tim Roe. Also a special Thank You to Rich Hendricks, who was at the checkpoint to offer me encouragement and vital information regarding the two guyz in front. Rich, like Jeremy, fell victim to the dreaded skinny-tire disease.

Race Recap…At least--How I remember it:

How can this be? This is killing me. I can’t ride on this! No one, nobody, but Pramann can ride this! Why would so many people be out walking on this trail? It makes no sense? This is crazy? Could it be that deer hunters over here actually walk when they hunt their tame quarry? No way, deer hunters don’t walk. None of the deer hunters I know walk!…No one would walk on a trail like this? My mom wouldn’t even walk on this, itz too soft!!! We are out in the middle of NOWHERE, who walks out here?….My weary mind agonized over the cause of the trashed out trail…It became an obsession…my brain needed a culprit to blame…to blame for my angst and despair. I cursed the perpetrators…

Then the solution to my quandary popped out of nowhere and appeared in my smallish brain…The reason for all the devastating foot traffic, the reason that the tiny little sweet spot is completely pock marked with deep footprints, the only span of track that is navigable on this relatively remote snowmobile/ATV is because of the Wisconsin National Guard! Thatz it! Itz the only way that any of this makes sense. The Commanding Officer at a nearby base made his charges hike the second half of the Tuscobia trail as a punishment for some dereliction of duty. I wondered what they did to receive such a harsh reprimand, for a forced march in this sugary mess would test the resolve of even the most ardent of infantry. The thought of the foot soldier, under orders, marching eased my demented mind.

Solving the source of the problem offered a momentary respite. Unfortunately having figured out the “why” part of the constant and thus debilitating foot prints (they had the effect of causing the trail to become nearly impossible to ride; unless you are Dave Pramann), did little to ease my frustration. Yet, I was buoyed by Andre’s erratic tracks because (as we all know) it is comforting to know that at least one of the two that I am chasing is losing the battle for smooth straight-line consistency that is so important in endurance snow cycling.

The juxtaposition of the two distinct tracks that I follow provides a study of sublime steadiness and efficiency contrasted with brute, obtuse, and energy-wasting force. Pramann’s tracks connote a ride that is rail-straight and narrow, smooth and economical. Andre’s work is scattered and harried, agonized and yet willful and scornful. An occasional body print in the snow allows me to smile…

My own work is similar to that of Andre’s and yet perhaps even more unsteady, zigzagged, and blunted. Ride for a few minutes, catch a disjointed edge with the front tire on the far right hand side of the trail, overcorrect thus slicing across the trail, careen off a rut on the other size, spin out, curse loudly, repeat. Ride for a few minutes, catch a disjointed edge with the front tire on the far right hand side of the trail, overcorrect and slice across the trail, careen off a rut on the other size, spin out, curse loudly, repeat. Ride for a few minutes, catch a disjointed edge with the front tire on the far right hand side of the trail, overcorrect and slice across the trail, careen off a rut on the other size, spin out, curse loudly, repeat. Repeat. Repeat…

This goes on for hours, well into darkness, and then finally I catch a glimpse of a red flashing light up ahead with about twelve miles to go. My heart soars for I believe that I am catching up to one of the leaders. But as I progressed, I noticed that the light is not moving, so I quickly infer that it is the tail-gunner from the marching troop deployment. It makes perfect sense that in an exercise of this sort the platoon leader would cover his rear. As I make my way onward I begin to practice various salutation strategies, “Well done, sir;” “I support the troops,” “Thank you for your service;” “I know a guy thatz in the army, maybe you know him, his name is….”

To my surprise it is not a soldier on a forced march, instead it is one of those goofy runner-types that shows up at the Arrowhead 135 every year. You know the type— lean and slight, serious, aloof, wily like a fox, hungry-looking facial features, sunken nervous eyes, and minuscule backside. This one was sitting on what may have been construed as his enduro-sled, perhaps taking a bit of a respite from is burden, as far as I could tell.

Of course bikers and runners relate to each other in similar ways to that of wolves and coyotes, but I am a gentle soul, I had all the gear I needed, and me larder was full, so I feigned compassion asking him, “So how we doing?”

He responded, as they often do, with a long incoherent dissertation on his immediate physiological and psychological merits and ailments including references to various Latin terms that apparently link up various muscles and ligaments, etc... It was during the initial phase of his lecture that I belatedly grasped the important fact that it was he and his fellow henchmen that were indeed the source of the trashed trail.

Once this revelation set in, cutting him off, I demanded, “Whatz going on? Why are you ahead of me? How did you get out front?”

“I am in the 50 K race…you know, we started up the trail from…”But before he could explain further, I was off in pursuit of a forlorn hope that Pramann or Andre would falter. At least I had the real culprits to blame…the knowledge gave me strength…

Of course Pramann was not going to falter and yet I did close some of the time gap that lay between Andre and me. Had it not been fer them crazy runners/walkers, I'd won the thing for sure, no doubt about it!!! Thatz a GIVEN!!!


At the start, the trail conditions caught everybody on the bus completely by surprise. Endurance guyz are by their nature, great optimists. A few beers the night before, mix in elements of “groupthink” to the equation, and by the time we pulled into the parking lot in Rice Lake at 7:30 a.m. we were all convinced that Chris Schotz and Jason Buffington, on their slick mountain bikes, were going to set the pace. A predominate theory was that the high humidity (a mist in the air) combined with below freezing temperatures, combined with a recent grooming of the trail would set up the snow and that it would be fast and maybe somewhat icy. The only dissenting voice had been Pramann, but he was not on the bus. Pramann had accurately predicted that it was going to a “slog” and that it could well take racers up to twenty hours to compete it and he was right.

Upon arrival and the requisite warm-up ride on the trail, it was obvious that it was going to be a very hard ride for the guyz on the snowbikes and that it may prove impossible for guyz on regular mountain bikes. The initial miles were bad but then after about twenty miles or so the course did get better. There was even a span of about fifteen miles in the middle section that allowed one to really ride fast. The last thirty miles were the toughest because the foot traffic made the already narrow and marginal “sweet spot” very rough. But so it goes…

Finally, I would be amiss if I did mention the impressive effort demonstrated by the good Dr. Buffington. He finished the race on a 29er in the “Pramann” predicted time-span of just under twenty hours…the only one to finish that started on a regular bike…Bravo Jason!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A reprieve of sorts? A new lease on life…A reason to continue?

Dearest Charles,

We at the board of directors have consulted on your recent effort at Tuscobia and come to the conclusion that you have once again created a "stay of execution" for yourself. Along that difficult trail, your pursuit of honor for all that is DBD was admirable as well as the fear you and your people have clearly instilled in young Buffington is worth mention. However, given the Heck-of-the-North debacle and other digressions, we will need to see consistency in the upcoming months in order to remove your name from the "list of dishonor".

Several items discussed at our recent meeting are worth your thought and yet due to time constraints can be viewed in more detail upon your receipt of the meeting's minutes in due time. In sum, three notable events that did transpire cannot be postponed. Most impressive was Crazy Horse flying into a peyote-induced rage when told of your inability to close a sixty+ minute gap that existed between you and the sturdy Pramann. Secondly, Bill Tilman and old Amundeson were both reduced to tears upon the news of you pushing your bike for extended periods of time coupled with prolonged use of your controversial ‘granny-gear.’ Lastly, the ever present and perennial DBD Duluth supporter Ghandi, was physically removed after he began dismantling the main study of the Kitch Club, once he was informed that you let a Floridian beat you. As the man-servants hauled the inconsolable Mahatma to his rickshaw he was heard ranting, "This cannot be! I refused to believe it! Liars, all of you, LIARS! Farrow would never allow himself to be beaten by a southerner…Why did he not use his revolver? The shame, the shame…I'll see you all in HELL!"

Finally, Buffington's resume strengthens. We'll be contacting him shortly. As of this correspondence it seems the lad is super human.

As usual, steady the men and another finger of rum for all.

Yours respectfully,

Sir Eki

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sage One puts on a Clinic @ Tuscobia

The sage ancient, Dave Pramann, once again, dominated at Tuscobia this weekend. But the coveted Shackleton Perseverance Award goes to the neophyte Jason Buffington... Conditions were of the sort that tested even the most hard-hearted of MEN...Lance Andre finished second and looked very good as well and if still on the ladder moving upward to peak form will contend for the win at the Arrowhead 135...The Westerners and the Alaskans, coupled with Pramann, Andre, and a host of others will make this upcoming Arrowhead the most competitive ever. If hardpack, look for Buffington, under the gentle but concerted tutelage of the author, to contend as well... Of course, my money is on the wily PRAMANN...

A fully embellished race report in a few dayz...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The beginning paragraph of a newly penned great American Novel

Through the arctic ice fog, a humanly, albeit ghastly figure in agitated frozen repose came into murky view. Upon closer inspection, evidence indicative of a recent bloody transgression of mythological proportions plays out before the interlopers; a classic tragedy of man’s inevitable descent into folly. Before those of the living lies a man of obvious good breeding, perhaps of royal lineage, his cold bluish body that of an aged, but fit specimen. Nearby rests a two-wheeled contraption loaded to the hilt with gear of the kind which men of adventure rely. Herein lays a man who fought bravely as his gnarled features indicate a mortal that did not give up without a supreme struggle. Clues litter the grisly scene that confirm beyond doubt that when the question of his mortality was at hand in this frozen hell, he took up the challenge with both gusto and admiration. Amid the circumstance of his death knell, this gentleman took a valiant, lofty, although enigmatic step to alert the living of what can only be construed as a highly personal and grave injustice by employing the frozen ground as his parchment, his detached thigh bone as a rudimentary quill, and his arterial blood as ink in a final act of insurrection by scribbling the word, TUSCOBIA.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Working on improving your vocabulary skills...

Improving and building upon your Cycling Lexicon

Source: Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary [1975 edition]

Hurt Tank /hert tank/ [ME to soak in a hurten pot]. To soak in a hurt tank. 1. Bereft of hope whilst cycling. Forsaken or damned, "catch 22". Sad or lonely whilst barely hanging on to the end of a heartless peleton. To feel or suffer great bodily and mental pain or distress during a DBD training ride. To be wounded with no sympathy from others. 2. To suffer want or need without anyone else caring while on a DBD training ride. 3. Mental and emotional torment without hope or chance of respite while riding a bicycle in a group. 4. Great discontent while in the act of laboring a bicycle amongst a group of malcontents and criminals. 5. Being in poor condition and a drain on the other cyclists. 6. To feel scorned by one's peers whilst riding a bicycle.

1740s France; ME peine punishment, torture, pain
. Based on the scourage of Jean-Paul Marat [see photo above] (May 24, 1743 – July 13, 1793). Marat was a Swiss-born French physician, philosopher, political theorist, cyclist and scientist best known as a radical journalist, politician, and endurance cyclist from the French Revolution. He would take part in long sick enduro-rides on his steel single speed bicycle with a group of dubious characters that called themselves the DBD. After DBD training rides, Marat often sought the comfort of a cold bath to ease violent itchings due to a hideous skin disease long said to have been contracted years earlier, when he was forced to hide from his enemies in the Paris sewers. “Where is Marat?” “Oh, he’s soaking in the hurt tank again.” In the earlier part of the 20th century in England, a wounded, yet still able tail rider of a cycling group in a long remote cycling event was said to be “soaking in the hurt tank.”
Synonyms associated with "hurt-tank": 1–3. torture, misery, torment. PAIN, ACHE, AGONY, ANGUISH are terms for sensations causing suffering or torment. PAIN and ACHE usually refer to physical sensations whist on a bicycle (except heartache); AGONY and ANGUISH may be physical or mental involving a man just barely holding on to a unsympathetic group of bikers. PAIN in this context suggests a drawn out suffreing: a pain in one's knees. ACHE applies to a continuous pain, whether acute or dull: headache; muscular aches. AGONY implies a continuous, excruciating, scarcely endurable pain: in agony from a wound. ANGUISH suggests not only extreme and long-continued pain, but also a feeling of despair. 2. pang, twinge. 3. Think Trans-Iowa or Arrowhead 135

Monday, December 7, 2009

What were you doing at 4:07 a.m. on Sunday morning...I was getting dressed for a training ride that required me to leave my house at 4:30 a.m......

Quotations, musing, apologies, and recollections from Sunday’s eight hour DBD effort—

"Either Rich has Titanium collar bones or he has just been extremely lucky."
-Eki (when he was still human). Note: Hendricks was on road bike maneuvering terrain that tested the rest of the group, all of whom were on mountain bikes.

Re ‘Titanium quote’: “I am extremely lucky. Or perhaps . . . skill. You see Sir Eki, when one tips over as often as I, one must learn to fall properly . . . and wear a good helmet . . .”

“He is riding deep within himself now; he is soaking in the hurt tank, but fear not for he will rally. I know him and he would not want us to slow down…He doesn't want us to wait for him...”
–Farrow on responding to queries of concern re Eki during the dark time….

“How many times can Hendricks tip over during one ride?”

-The group

Farrow to Hendricks, "Is that blood?"

“So just how is it that Farrow, after bringing only ’simulated food’ puffs for sustenance, was able to find Mallory's cache hidden years ago?"

"Steady the lads, one finger of whiskey to each of them..." -Note from George Mallory in a canvas bag containing a flask of aged whiskey.

"What's with Buffington? Apparently 8hrs is not enough . . . just who is this guy . . . really?"

Itz 5:04 a.m. this is an outrage…I say we leave him.”
-Farrow on Eki’s tardiness

"I don't know what kind of watches you guys are using."
-Eki addressing false allegations that he was late

"Jason, have you eaten ANYTHING?"
-Eki accusing Jason of being alien

-Buffington on working through a revolutionary solution for dealing with carrying enough food on long remote enduro-rides.

“Can we learn to do that?”
-Farrow, intrigued by the possibilities of coprophagy

“ I already do that…”

-Eki on the efficacy of human coprophagy during long endurance rides.

"You should paint some nipples on that diaper?"
-Buffington addressing Farrow's 'man-diaper.'

"I wish I had like a 34 x 60 on this thing."
-Eki commenting that his gear ratio was too difficult

Farrow: "Is that a MAN in that tree?" Eki: "No, it's the top of the tree." Farrow: "God, I need to get glasses."

"Lost in Woodland"
Eki, finding himself on Pleasant View Rd, just off Jean Duluth, after 3 1/2 hours of riding.

"Does that shot glass say 'Dubai' on it?"
-Buffington questioning Mallory's choice of shot glass while the group enjoyed a finger of the good stuff on trail.

“Hey there’s a moose! I mean there was a moose, they must have moved it…it was here last summer, it was a fake moose, but I swear there was a moose here”

“Help me help you.”
-Eki trying to work with Farrow’s dementia

Looking back on Jean-Duluth and catching a momentary glimpse of Farrow's bike perpendicular to the direction traveling. Buffington

How many times thinking/saying "Rich has got to be really hurting now", and glancing back to see how far back he was, and seeing him right on my wheel.

"Look wolf tracks. And there's a wolf kill. And where a wolf treed a skunk."

Dearest Mallory:

First of all, I'm alive! I made it home and into the hurt tank where I soaked for upwards of an hour. My wife had to make me a sandwich, hot cocoa and listen to my pleas and cries. That ride was soooo DBD for me. While the others effortlessly spun through the miles, I toiled. My God, I was hurtin'! The first words out of my mouth to Amy, when she came down to the basement were..."I'm in trouble!" Yes, I let the rubber ducky float around in the hurt tank with me.

As I try to assess the damage and why it happened I can only surmise that I went into the ride in a dehydrated state, which only got worse and worse. I bet I drank a gallon of fluids when I got home and didn't take my first pee until about 6:00 p.m. I couldn't move! After I rolled out of the hurt tank I made my way to the couch where I proceed to fall into a slumber that lasted nearly 3 hours.

Funny how the HURT gods seem to pick one of us from time to time and they then direct all the pain they can muster onto that one man. It was my turn. In hind sight I wish the men would have just left me out there. I deserved to ride alone, left behind, forgotten. Jason failed his test miserably by coming back to drag me up to the group time and time again. If he truly was DBD he would have left me, like FARROW did...

Overall, it is with great shame that everyone had to see that. Again, please accept my deepest apologies.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Like being inside of one of 'em glass globe thingies with the snow....

The last three nights out on me Gunnar 29er have been magical...what with the snow and all...sure am thankful to be livin' in Duluth Minnesota...Duluth--best kept secret in the whole world, but don't tell anybody!!! Big ride planned for Sunday and then taper taper taper for the big dance on December 19th...The Tuscobia Race...down in Wisconsin near Rice lake...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A rare find: a secret correspondence revealed...more to come.

Dearest Mallory:

As I sit here encumbered within the confines of society's expectations, I think back to the small victories and shameful tragedies that were Sunday's DBD ride. My heart soars as I reminisce about the endless miles of gravel, the countless attacks on the Fox Farm rollers designed to test Farrow and Hendricks’ resolve, and the penultimate full-on sprint to the top of Hawk's Ridge with Rich offering a concession speech at the top as Farrow faltered and wept the tears of a forlorn clown. Yet, the ride was not without its melancholic moments for I deeply regret not offering Kershaw my revolver in his time of crisis.

So, with that being said, I raise my glass and may I suggest another finger of rum for the good men, for it is them that drives me on and puts me deep into the hurt tank as we chase the folly of our dreams.

Humbly your servant,

Sir Eki - Lifetime DBD member

Bully Eki bully!!!

Well done. Hendricks has potential. Farrow continues to disappoint. Kershaw without his revolver? Any hope for the Buffington youth? These are troubling times in which we now live. Steady the men...I shall consider the extra finger of rum...

Carry on,