Friday, December 24, 2010

Shackleton gives rare press conference in Duluth in the shadows of the Kitchee Gammi Club (DBD Headquarters in the northern colonies)

“Hail Buffington! Lord of Tuscobia!” “Hear! Hear! Capital effort! Bravo!”

Brief excerpts from Shackleton’s six hundred and eighty-nine page prepared statement regarding D.B.D. member performance (and lack thereof) pertaining to 2nd Annual Tuscobia Race. (Note: He did not take any questions from the throngs of press, curious bystanders, and well-wishers present at the news-conference just outside the famed Kitchee Gammi Club on the southern Shores of Gitcha Gumee):

…The DBD would like to wholeheartedly express its appreciation and support of Mr. Tim Roe and his charges for developing and professionally organizing the Tuscobia Ultra 150... Special kudos to Mr. Roe’s mother, who went well beyond the call of duty in dealing with our stricken and dishonored DBD member (or more likely former member; pending decision from the DBD Honor Board of Inquiry)…
…Regardless of that man’s collapse, Tuscobia was very good to the DBD, inviting grand performances from both cyclist Buffington in the 150 and man-hauler Kershaw in the 75 miler… On the subject of the third member, I will speak to his dishonor farther on in my presentation to you, but first I want to celebrate these heroic men and their outstanding efforts!...

First off a few words on the 150 event:
On a fast track with but a few tough, mired sections, Buffington was unstoppable, leading out the race from its inception and “never looking-back”... Soon there were three; two of our men and the venerable Floridian/Iowan, namely Lance Andre of Dirty Kanza & Arrowhead fame and beyond, both a worthy adversary and a man of honor and humor... For the first forty-five miles or so, as Buffington and Andre switched leads, laughed, and told jokes, our elder member (ex-member?) sat meekly in the third position (or ‘hurt-tank’) and quietly wept the tears of the forsaken, (in clear violation of DBD protocol, I might add). So it went down until that third man silently, sans dignity, fell off the pace to ride in personal squalor, self-loathing, and self-doubt leading ultimately to personal ruin and public shame.
Onward the two leaders rode; onward they propelled their encumbered snow-bikes at an impressive pace, brave man versus man of courage as it should be!!! Bravo men-of-VeloAction!!! Yet inevitably one man would break…for in nature, it is the way of such things…so it goes…some ideologues perhaps contend that it is but a tragedy; this the storied brutal reality of a good man’s propensity to compete against his fellow good man; to contest for a prize; to challenge for the top spot! These good righteous men fight not for money, nor for fame, nor for nation or king, nor even for the tender kisses of the beautiful French podium girls… these brave men wage war for TUSCOBIA!!! Can there be a better reason to FIGHT? To fight the good fight! Bravo brave Lance! Bravo brave Jason!!

Note: At that point during the press conference, Shackleton’s words were briefly drowned out by the following chant of goodwill from the gathered crowd of well wishers and club members. “Hail Buffington! Lord of Tuscobia!” “Hear! Hear! Capital effort Lance! Bravo!”

Whilst our intrepid lead man never faltered stopping at checkpoint only to hurriedly, but with great respect and empathy for both racers & race officials, swap out water bottles; our second, less-admirable one, the despondent one, went from bad to worse staying ever longer at the checkpoints consuming food & drink, sleeping space, whilst coughing on everyone, even committing frequent episode of public flatulence, and making himself a general nuisance to the fine upstanding volunteers…Upon interviewing two comely female volunteers at the sixty-mile checkpoint post-race, both used adjectives such as “shifty,” “unsteady,” “unruly,” "criminal,” “troublesome,” "lecherous," to describe their encounters with our second, aged, man, whilst words like,“dashing,” “charismatic,” “boyish-good looks,” ”handsome,” "polite," and the like were used to describe the youthful and victorious Buffington...the juxtaposition has not been lost on the DBD leadership and each member will be dealt with accordingly…

With fifty miles to go, as others stared blankly into the inky black frigid night, miserably cognizant of their imperceptibly minute roles in the overall scheme of things…., Buffington found his victory rhythm and began to chant the mantra, “Go hard; never look back! Go hard; never look back!” As our lesser member began the death cry, “I’m sick, sick, sick; me gonna die! I’m a dead man walkin’ dead man walkin’ dead man walkin.” Such is the power of positive versus negative thinking…Buffington felt great, empowered, Lord of his Domain, and thus rightly pushed the pace to the point of causing even the well-oiled Andre to question the speed and then to be ultimately forced to opt for a slower more conservative pace, a significant rest at the last checkpoint, and thus preserving his arsenal to fight an “even better fight” at the GRAND DANCE to be held in just five weeks…I am referring to, of course, The Classic Arrowhead 135! Oh! What a race that will be with such a deep and talented roster!... But I digress…

…It was clearly, from start to finish (not quite eighteen hours total!), Buffington’s Day as he rode onto and across the finish line and victory in impressive style; fast, seemingly unperturbed, and gracious in victory. It is always a good thing when a nice humble, albeit talented guy wins the big race! It would be four or even five hours later before Andre and the redoubtable Canadian stalwart Bill Shand rode into the finish line…

As Buffington rode across the finish line, our second man was confronting that both real and meta-physical barrier known to the scrawny marathon-running crowd as “hitting the wall.” Farrow is no stranger to hitting the wall for he as been bloodied many times from plowing head first into these walls, but this was different. By the fourteen hour mark he felt completely and utterly exhausted, as he had in many previous exploits of this type (for he is rarely ever adequately trained). Knowing from decades of pursuing folly, that when in doubt of aim or purpose, a man should always take a good two to three hour nap for the results are positively extraordinary!—so he stopped and prepared a bivy in the snow next to the trail. Yet things went completely wrong. Different and most unsettling for our man was that a couple hours of rest in the form of complete inactivity in the prone position did NOT invite respite, rejuvenation, and reinvigoration as it had always done before in similar situations. Instead as he lay enounced within his bivy upon the cold earth he began to cough and cough and cough, he began to sweat and then shiver and then began hacking up nearly all the evil that exists upon this place we call, Mother Earth. He coughed and hacked and shivered and sweated to the point of causing his aged heart to beat fantastically and fearfully fast. With barely ninety minutes into the “nap,” he knew it was not a recipe for restrengthening his resolve (body & soul) but instead the makings of a crypt! …Harried and confused, demoralized and thoroughly played-out, finally he sat up, unzippered the bag, put his boots on via cold unsteady hands, packed up the bike, and moved on following the enduro-plod incorporated by the walking dead of antiquity; twenty, maybe thirty minutes peddling; ten minutes walking; rewarded with five minutes of head on the saddle in self-loathing position, repeat, repeat, repeat. So it went until he finally reached the last checkpoint at ~mile 29. At this haven in the wilderness around 2:00 a.m., under the watchful and nurturing eye of Mrs. Roe, our man passed out on a bed with boots still on! Oh the shame. At the break of dawn he made a feigned effort at packing up to regain honor lost, but everyone there knew he was finished. A shell of a man, a mollusk for all practical purposes. He has been bed-ridden since, flat on his back...his abode essentially a breeding ground for viral infection and self-loathing. I have not been to visit him, but Mallory commented that it was a loathsome sight indeed!...

Whether he is done for good or not? That chapter has yet to be written…He is blaming one of his man-servants for failing to pack his revolver, he claims to have tried to throw himself in front of a train, but slipped and fell in his weakened state...His case is currently under review.... we will know more as the 150 plus converge upon International Falls on that first weekend of February to partake in that Grand Winter Gala affair; The Arrowhead 135. …He claims to be feeling a bit better now and hopes to be back on the bike in a few dayz hence…His future affiliation with the DBD is “uncertain…” …But enough about him…we are here to celebrate not reflect on what might have been…

While reports of Kershaw’s first official effort at man-hauling in the celebrated style of Captain Scott was a resounding success, few details have arrived to-date. Suffice to exclaim, BRAVO KERSHAW!!! Of note is Kershaw’s race with two other worthy foes for the right to be called the MAN’s Man of the Arrowhead. The title is awarded to the first man that has completed the race in all three categories (run, bike, and ski). The venerable Tim Roe and Lonesome Luddite Matt Maxwell are his rivals…Finally of note is the “true-grit” exhibited by Jason Novak of Rochester that was as sick or maybe even sicker than our man and yet he was ultimately a finisher in the 150…Bravo Novak, Bravo indeed! Novak's work has not gone unnoticed by the leadership of this organization. With the likely admonishment (and perhaps more as many are calling for his banishment) of the third participant, albeit "non-finisher" of this year's Tuscobia, we are certainly not unaware of a declining "active member" list. George Mallory was heard to comment when considering Novak, "I like the cut of his jib." High praise from the likes of Mallory...Yet, Novak's age certainly is a problem as is his loose affiliation to a pseudo-adventure group based out of Rochester, but these kinds of things can be dealt with...but I digress...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A means by which to remember me...

Dear Readers:
As I make ready, in final preparation, to embark for Tuscobia, I had one of my man-servants sketch a portrait of myself so that if I do not return my readership shall have a visual image from which to remember me...Should I succumb, know that I went with a fond heart, good cheer, and malice towards no man!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

More disturbing disclosures from WikiLeaks:

Dear Comrades: On Friday past I made a plan to ride my snowbike for four hours on the local snowmobile trails near Esko whilst offspring engaged in equestrian pursuits. The snow was unconsolidated and hard to ride on...but I pressed on as it was to be my last training ride per se before Tuscobia. Then about only two hours into the ride my manly groin area began to cramp up in a must painful manner, to the point that I was forced off the bike into a walking mode. As I shamefully pushed the bike, my left calf (injured a few weeks ago) began to give me considerable trouble. Two hours into it and I was cramping and limping along...I wept as I considered the 150 miles that awaits me on this Friday. My question: Should I rely on me old British WWI revolver?

P.s. Furthermore: Dear Men-of-Action;
Should I fail to finish the Tuscobia race and the wolves, et. al., do not do their business in due time, please wrap me corpse in a man-diaper (see pannier on left front fork) and relocate to the quaint shores of Wonder Lake near the northern rampart of Denali.
Try to obtain the services of Mallory and/or Shackleton to say a few words over me tattered remains. Also, please continue my efforts to have old Lenz officially recognized as a man in good standing with the DBD.


Friday, December 3, 2010

WikiLeaks provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of winter endurance cyclists:

Brand new “leak” from WikiLeaks (The names have been changed to protect the innocent...)

Dear C.
I hope life is treating you well, and your hours on the bike have been many. I look forward to seeing you in Tuscobia in a couple of weeks. My training has been slacking. Currently I am down with strep throat. I am looking forward to a couple of days where all I have to do is ride my bike.
My Dad (D) is coming to Tuscobia with me. He is looking forward to seeing you again. I am going to get a room at the same place you are staying (I talked to __).
See you soon.

Dearest X:
My training has not gone well either. I drink a lot w/gusto and I grow fat, bloated, and unsure of myself. My bulk hinders my positioning on the bicycle and thus presents an unwieldy massiveness that is both disconcerting and embarrassing for those of whom once loved and supported me. I am alone now, living in a van near a drainage septic system. Regarding Tuscobia, I plan to bring my trusty revolver and end my time here on earth if I begin to falter on the trail. You are welcome to use my pistol should you too begin to commits acts of dishonor...On a happier note, I am very much looking forward to seeing you and your dad!!! The Edge-O-town is a classic....Look for B to impress.... Onward to Tuscobia...Onward in the face of impossible odds...Onward Onward into the hell that awaits us!!!!
See ya soon,

Friday, November 26, 2010

I feel like I have paid my dues in this particular area of the ART OF LIVING!!!

After doing battle twice now on the main line and surviving to live another day, gives a guy a new lease on life; greens are greener; the air is sweeter; the beer is beerier...Such is the current state of my life...But the fact is that I'd like be done with that part of my life now...

To be more specific—
On Sunday last, mid-morning, I noticed a faint albeit ominous sewer odor emanating from a very large sump pit that lies within the cement flooring of my tuck-under garage (the house is nearly 100 years old). As I levered off the large manhole cover, I was ambushed by a foulness that was shocking to behold. The whole pit was full to the brim of backed up sewage. Noting that the sewage was above the pipe that sends excess drainage into yet another smaller sump pit, I then pulled off that manhole cover as well to find it full of toilet water as well. It looked as if I was literally minutes away from having the foulness gathering enough force to break its septic confines and breech the walls and gain a foothold into my garage. Had I not been tipped off by the odor, my garage would have been flooded with human waste and the like. With grim determination, I began to bail the chunky sewage into two large ten gallon buckets, and when filled, I would run the buckets down the hill and dump into a ravine that culminates in a small drainage stream. Over and over I repeated this grim task...Finally I began to negotiate a stalemate and thus buy enough time until the Roto Rooter guy showed up with his mechanical snake (and credit card acceptance machine). Suffice to say that the emergency was over. Yet a lesson was learned, but I am not sure who learned it or what it was?...Such is the curse of growing older. Note: This is the second time in my adult life that I have been forced to do this kind of thing, so I feel like I should NOT have to do this kind of thing ever again!
Happy Thank-giving everyone!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Open Letter to Rookie T.I. Racers: A call for reason...

Dearest Youthful, Naive Ones:
I fear that your participation in the upcoming Trans-Iowa will for you mean the loss of the simple purity and innocence that is so apparent in those who ride bicycles. Essentially, the T.I. changes a cyclist. Post T.I. wheelmen are bitter broken people, cyclists devoid of emotion, apathetic & indifferent racers. Cyclists who drink to forget, not for sustenance. Such wheelmen leave Iowa zombie-like, cold and unfeeling, for they have wagered with the Devil and lost. These are cyclists that forsake their families and friends, wheelmen who die penniless and alone in their wretchedness! May Providence have mercy on your souls, but I fear that you, if you insist on going to Iowa (like the rest of us), are doomed to a life of forlorn resentment filled with pessimism and regret...Please rethink this endeavor, reflect on what you have, count your blessings, take stock, and seek fulfillment at home with those who love and support you. Too many have been broken; enough damage has been done...Ask yourselves—Do I want to be like him? That twitchy aged one that is alone over there in the corner silently weeping the hopeless tears of a cyclist forever damned, forever haunted by a night ride across the barrens of Iowa. A night in which he was visited upon by the depraved demons of the nether-world and thus ultimately succumbed to their unholy covenant, namely a T.I. finish for his eternal soul!

With bitterness and grave misgivings about your collective decision to do this thing. Note that you have been warned,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Burden of leadership...

The burden of leadership does have its rewards, on occasion.

DBD Outing report: Saturday, November 13th, a wintery mix with a compliment of strong winds. In perfect weather, the mission was to complete seven to eight hours of gravel/off-road riding on the Pugsleys (or the like) in preparation for Tuscobia and the Arrowhead 135. My two charges arrived on time @ the secret DBD rendezvous point at the standard DBD departure time (5:15 a.m.). Note: One was indeed late by a few minutes (which is unacceptable and thus a punishable offense), but was able to convince the author that the tardy resulted from a seemingly inexplicable crossing of the ways without visible recognition. Against my better judgement, I let the matter die upon reminding the offender that if it happens again, I'll have him shackled and introduced to my leather lash! The men, not unlike impetuous sled dogs, uncomplicated and singular in their intellect and approach, were nervous and anxious for the austere movement that is characteristic of propelling a bicycle forward. Yet, loyal to their leader, as I gave the signal to commence "onward boyz!", these men-of-action unflinchingly responded in earnest. Note: I would be negligent in my reporting to not convey a faint sense of pride or a vague feeling of "job-well-done" as I led them out of the city of old Duluth and into the hinterlands-- for undeniably REAL progress, over the last couple years, with these common-folk, has been noteworthy. Keenly aware of their propensity to go too hard at the start of these endeavors and thus expending vital energy resources that would be needed later on, I reined them in to a more moderate pace. All went well with nary a complaint or falter from my obedient subjects. On only one occasion did I have to threaten one with a beating, upon which he quickly backed down and fell into order. In summary: Mission complete. Preparation for success @ Tuscubia and Arrowhead continues unabated as these simple, yet brave men respond well to solid leadership and definitive parameters. Note: Though nipple-shrouds are now banned for use on DBD excursions, I did not take the time to check my charges.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Call to Arms...Quit talking the talk and start walking the!

The good news is that so far even with over two months to go before the classic Arrowhead 135; over ninety racers have thrown their hats in the ring. Itz a great race, one event that should not be missed by any true endurance athlete!!! Kudos to Bar-Mitts, which is the newest sponsor to support this amazing challenge. Note: Look forward to a product review on Bar Mitts in the near future. Suffice to say at this point that itz a top-notch product!

The bad news is that just a hand full have signed up for Tuscobia which commences in just one month from now! What are people thinking? The Tuscobia 150 or 75 is the perfect warm-race for preparing for the Big Arrowhead Dance in early February.
Here is a short ditty to inspire people to sign up for the Tuscobia: ( )

Tuscobia Tuscobia-
a race devoid of any one with a phobia.
Itz long and dark and trying to ones soul, but…
One never has to deal with claustrophobia, homophobia, or even xenophobia.

Sign up for Tusobia, I say Tuscobia!
Or you're a big wimpoebia!

And should move to...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To be young again...if only in my mind...

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.”
Isoroku Yamamoto

I rode with the exuberant Buffington last night and his strength continues to impress. As he left me repeatedly on the hills of old Duluth, I wept silently, stoically, the forlorn tears of a desperate man, well past his prime, with a future involving a walker, man-diapers, and dentures…Oh the grand zealotry of youth and the suddenness of physical decline!!! I look in the mirror and see an old man playing cards at a nondescript table with a bitter cranky Pramann in a sunset assisted living residence near a tranquil pond...But alas only the good die young!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'll miss the informative political ads!

Itz a source of great comfort to me to now know that people who truly love Sarah Palin, the Flag, and this great country are back in charge in the House and that those that clearly wanted to destroy all the great things about this free-market democracy are being thrown out. The Republicans will now get us back to where we should be; Insurance executives deciding Doctors’ salaries and citizens’ premiums, unfettered drilling for oil off-shore and in Alaska, death penalties, self-policing of big finance, death to the few remaining unions, death to cap & trade & all things with a hint of ecological conservationism, and removal of the word “Global warming” from the national dialogue via all mainstream media outlets. Don’t get me wrong; as there is room for agreement. For example both groups (GOP and Dems) can certainly get together and find common ground such as agreeing to not discuss, review, or move on the patriotic wars that we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, vastly increasing military sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Pakistan, and to get General Petraeus his fifth star.
On a related note….the weather up here has been great…A little warm and unseasonable, but only fools think that we have any impact on the climate!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Politics...The Art of Power Acquisition, Holding Power, and Deception

New goal: Write up a little five minute commentary every day and publish based on what I happen to be thinking about at the time…

Modern national politics (even maybe state politics) seems like a covert insiders game played by preppy rich guyz that all went to the same prep-schools, the same fancy-pants colleges “out east,” the same Ivy League Law Schools, all play golf together, and all belong to the same country clubs. They are really pretty good about sharing the wealth and influence as long as it stays within the family. The Democrats get to have the presidency for probably six more years (then it will be the GOPs turn again), but itz now their turn to give up some congressional seats to the Republicans. But no worries as the ousted Democrats don’t have to leave Washington DC and their lavish lives of power and luxury, instead they simply go and work for the plethora of Left-leaning think tanks and lobbies for the next two or four or six years. Whilst the GOPs get to leave the Right-leaning think tanks and lobbies and head back to the Congress. To keep the peasants happy they are smart enough to let a few new guyz in every so often, but nothing that would upset the ebb and flow of the power elite. Notice how nobody talks “term-limits?” On a happier note…I got the Pugs built up and ready to go!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anticipation grows over who shall be included upon THE LIST!!!

From sea to shining sea; with autumn comes the anticipatory excitement of the publication of “The List.” One can feel it in the air, for all sports enthusiasts, the anticipation is palatable as “legal” speculators begin their annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas with hopes of wagering correctly on you shall obtain legendary status by being included upon Charlie’s 2010 LIST OF IMPRESSIVE ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS related to the great sport of cycling…Both old and young riders (but mostly the aged) hope against all hope that this may be their year to make the LIST. The List that defines one career—Charlie’s Top 10 Amateur List-of-Honor, celebrating the Most Storied & Impressive Cycling-related Events of 2010…The List by which a cyclist’s career is defined… The List for which many live, languish, suffer, and even die to obtain recognition on... BRAVO to those that have achieved this noble recognition in the past…They can NEVER take this honor away from those whose names appear on any of the Lists. One may grow old, fat, senile, penniless, or the like, but for the “he or she” that has made the List, they are forever young and virile. These hallowed lists place those that adorn the pages within the company of the greats of cycling lore…This year’s short list includes (but is NOT confined to) a venerable “Who’s who of cycling contemporaries:”

Old Man Dave Pramann at the Arrowhead 135, sprinting for the finish line against Peter Bassinger and Jeff Oatley (two of the very best endurance cyclists in the Nation, maybe the World). Pramann will also be considered for completing the 350 mile Alaskan Invitational.

Senior Lindsay Gauld once again "turns heads" at the Arrowhead...

Charlie Tri for efforts at the Ragnorak 105 and the Levis-Trow 100.

"Bold" G-Ted and "subtle" D.P. for their consistently superb managerial skills related to the classic Trans-Iowa.

The Eppen Duo @ Almanzo; Chris Skogen’s flawless direction of this 100 miler that year after year sets the standard by which all the other gravel road races are judged.

Chequamegon 100 as a platform by which the Good Samaritan, Adam Blake, aids/guides a weakened and delirious aged cyclist to the finish line.

Joe Meiser for being Joe Meiser with special consideration for putting on the amazing and lofty Trans-Wisconsin.

12 hours @ the Thunderdown where Eki and Buffington turned in Very “list worthy” efforts.

Lincoln, Nebraska's very own Cornbread and his amazing run-away Victory and Lance Andre’s Catastrophic Collapse at the DK 200

Trevor Rockwell’s overall victory at Levis-Trow 100 on a single speed with Buffington close behind.

Jake Boyce and Nikolai Anikin at the Heck of the North and Kershaw making it all happen!

Sara Kylander-Johnson’s amazing come-back season.

Danielle Musto’s effort at the 24 Hours @ Afton.

Ron Stawicki and Buffington on single speeds @ 24 Hours @ 9 Mile

Scott Cole’s run @ the Fat Tire Chequamegon 40

Eki wins the OVERALL WEMS Title!!!

Jeremy Kershaw’s 88 hours of Trans-Wisconsin & his noteworthy single speed effort @ Arrowhead.

The top two finishers at the 24 hours @ Seven Oaks (one of the guyz is Mike, the owner of the Revolution Cycle Shop in Saint Cloud)…Amazing effort on a really tough course!

Michelle Flanagan wins both the Chequamegon 100 and the Heck of the North!!!

To name only a few under investigation...more names to follow...

[Disclaimer: To qualify for inclusion onto this most impressive TOP TEN listing, the accomplishment had to have been personally witnessed by the List-Maker (or a close personal friend of the List Maker). The list, therefore, is evolutionary and thus reflects the author’s concerted personal effort to move away from racing in mass-marketed events that require venues to be marginalized and de-challenged in an effort to maximize participation numbers with the goal being to optimize profits. In order to offer hope and a bit of solace to the misguided, albeit talented racer that has not yet seen the fruits of forgoing these “pop-cultural, mass-marketed” generic events in favor of the nobler events from which the honored are usually chosen, the List-Maker does offer recognition of a couple of major outstanding achievements within this less than lofty realm that were too noteworthy and impressive to ignore, but not witnessed per se by the author, in a Honorable Mention category. It is the List-makers hope that those listed in this second-tier category shall see the light and thus position themselves to compete for a spot on the 2011 List-of-Honor. Also in order to achieve this great honor, one must be a committed amateur cyclist, so anyone purporting to be a professional is automatically not considered. Furthermore anyone that used a preponderance of carbon in the form of components and/or frame is de-elevated in the author’s calculation. Finally, pure roadies and/or triathletes are not considered, while the word “duo-athalon” is an oxymoron]. Furthermore, it is very difficult to earn a spot on this prestigious list if a rider is under the age of 40 or is a confirmed teetotaler. Anyone under 40 has a clear advantage and riders that did not imbibe are suspect.

Look for the list to be published on or around December 19th or so…Do not despair List-making hopeful one! For you can still earn a spot on the list by signing up and performing with extraordinary courage and honor during the 2nd annual Tuscobia 150 set to commence @ 7:00 a.m. on December 17th.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Unbiased and Objective Heck of the North Race Report

The Heck of the North did NOT disappoint!

Part I: Without them there would be no race and then no beer…

Giving back to the community is what nice people-of-action do. Rich nice guyz-of-action may write big checks for civic improvement, think Alfred Nobel or like Mrs. Palucchi, who gave a million dollars to build and maintain a warming house and skating rink for general use down near the DECC a few years ago here in Duluth. Whilst poor, albeit nice folk need to improvise a little more; the little drummer boy played his drum a couple thousand years ago in Bethlehem for a special babe. When giving back to their communities, normal guyz like you and me, (but they are really not like you and me because they are inspiring and benevolent and generous), fall somewhere in between this spectrum of unbridled philanthropy and spontaneous street-displays of appreciation and honor. Jeremy Kershaw puts on the Heck of the North as a way of giving back to the local cycling community and his effort make all involved very happy. Thank you Jeremy Kershaw for making us happy, making people happy is a very special thing to do and should secure you a place in cycling heaven, where there are no saddle sores, raging motorists, or the like.

Thank You to all the folks that volunteered as well, including the Mangan Family that came all the way from Nordacoeduh to assist with this grand excursion. Also, Thank You to the Family Buffington for putting on a grand post-race party complete with four expertly and lovingly hand-crafted ales and a plethora of delicious fare. I know for sure that I speak for all when I give a collective BRAVO Heck of the North!!! Note: even Rich Hendricks, who took an amazing spill and yet finished the race seemed happy enough at the post-race party, especially after ingesting a couple pints of the Loon $%#* Stout.

Part II: …Now you know the rest of the story:

Although thrilling to personally participate in (as a mere bit player); the race action itself played out in a rather predictable way given the composition of the field of racers, the lay of the land, the onset of a significant head wind for the first few hours, and the time of year.

The author conservatively estimated that of just the ones he personally knew, there were at least twenty guyz signed up that could ride in (and influence) a lead pack and that within this pack there were at least ten guyz that could realistically win it. So, going into it, in the writer’s limited mind— the odds-on-favorites were Joe Meiser, Jake Boyce, Nikolai Anikin, Todd McFadden, Tim Ek, Shawn Gort, and Ross Fraboni. While certainly any one of the following could, given their past performances, easily sneak in for a top finish as well; Ryan Horkey, Jason Stukel, John Struchynski, Mike Dietzman, Shawn Miller, Jason Buffington, Dave Pramann, Tim Andrews, Matt Ryan, Josh Peterson, Mark VanderWolde, Rich Hendricks, Drew Wilson, Corey Berg, and Mike Haag (even on single speed). Eki and I were picking Meiser to win it even though he is a new sleep-deprived daddy. Yet clearly, on paper, Jake Boyce, the talented Cat. 1 roadie and ‘cross racer was the one to beat.

The course is beautiful, remote, varied, and pretty flat for the first ninety-eight miles, then suddenly with about four or five miles to go, one is confronted with a series of long sustained climbs that can and does break the spirit of many riders, especially weighty ones like the author. Throw in a head wind and the course is perfect for guyz that are savvy enough (and patient enough) to “sit-in” and wait for the final climbs and sprint to the finish (Nikolai wins this year’s “Sit-in-and-wait-to-strike” award). Thus the only way a chunky, old, non-climber has a chance to finish high is to somehow initiate a gap on one of the three off-road sections with the forlorn hope being that he can survive the final climbs before being caught up by the youthful and lean ones.

The first off-road path is a snow-mobile trail, but itz pretty short and comes on within the first half of the course. In this year’s race there was a break initiated on this section and a gap did emerge with about ten guyz getting away, followed by a group of four chasers. The author was in the chase group and luckily it was a motivated one consisting of the venerable veteran Mike Dietzman, the wily Drew Wilson, and the steely Shawn Gort; thus allowing us to regain the lead group as it headed into and out of the mid-way check point (sans Wilson, out w/mechanical). In many gravel road races, the Check Point can be a fitting opportunistic place to initiate a concerted effort by a few guyz to establish a gap on the big group, but at the Heck-of-the-North no such opportunity exists because of the fact that immediately following the checkpoint the course is flat and fast, allowing the big group ample time to coordinate a recapture of the few. This is exactly what happened to my training partner, Tim Ek, who flew solo through the Check Point and took off with purpose, but immediately understood that to try and gap the whole chase group on such a long flat section, against the wind, would be foolhardy (Note: The mild mannered and unobtrusive writer tried to explain this elemental concept to Mr. Ek during pre-race discussions, but the bull-headed Eki both chastised and castigated the writer as an “old fool!”).

The second off-road segment involves negotiating a pretty involved aspect of the grassy, swampy, and rolling North-shore Trail. Here in lies a real opportunity to test the survival-of-the-fittest theory, hurt the “real” competition, and ultimately establish a significant gap, but in this year’s race the trail was so swampy as to force even the best of riders off their bikes. Walking is a great equalizer and thus because of the very wet conditions this section did not afford an opportunity to divide and conquer the pack. Bringing up the rear, soaking in the proverbial “hurt-tank", the author, for one, was a happy camper when he saw the line of riders before him, all with their bikes shouldered, post-holing through the mucky hummocks that lay between the group and the hard-packed gravel, for he knew that this unstable terra-firma had afforded him a stay of execution.

Thus it came to pass that a group of eleven emerged from North Shore Trail intact. This lead group consisted of the following: Jake Boyce, Nikolai Anikin, Tim Ek, Shawn Gort, Ross Fraboni, Ryan Horkey, Jason Stukel, John Struchynski, Mike Dietzman, Tim Andrews, and the writer. Conspicuously missing were Meiser, Buffington, McFadden, Pramann, Peterson, and Ryan, et al, all of whom had looked strong but had somehow angered that erratic woman, Lady Luck, and/or also found themselves in ill-favored status amongst the unpredictable (and often unfair) gods of cycling battling losing efforts against flats, broken chains, wrong turns, runny noses, viruses, and the like. Happy to note that all lived to race another day and to smile when old Lady Luck strikes someone else an underhanded blow!

From the end of the North-shore trail to the base of the climbs,( just a few miles from the finish), lies only one more minuscule chance of deliverance (finishing in the top three) for the aged, weighty, non-climber and that is attacking the fabled Moose Mile with the doomed and desperate hope of somehow getting away and establishing enough of a gap to hit the climbs alone (or with one or two others) and making it to the top before the climbers catch back up…

Only sixteen or so miles from the finish, the Moose Mile starts with a challenging river crossing leading into a thickly forested, rock strewn, and rarely used mucky ATV trail. This year’s conditions were especially tough, but to the practiced rider it is surprisingly doable in good time, taking less than twelve minutes to cross over into the waiting gravel. Having practiced it several times leading up to the Heck, the author had a distinct advantage in knowing the terrain, but sadly knowledge almost always places a distant third to lung and leg power in bike racing. This “last chance” trail starts where the Cant road dead-ends. The narrator felt good on the Cant road and thus decided to at least make an effort by getting onto the trail in third or fourth position hoping that he could follow what would surely be a full-on attack by Boyce and Fraboni; both of whom are top notch ‘cross racers.

Making a beautiful Belgium-styled CX dismount crossing the river in third/fourth position, the author was dumbfounded at the speed with which Rosscoe Fraboni, Jake Boyce, and Nikolai Anikin flew through the rocky trail leading up from the river and then in a flash they were gone, gone, gone!!! Mind you, we, the chase group, were not idle, nor skittish, for we too went as hard as we could go, but the three leaders left us like we were standing at a funeral procession of some dignitary. Nevertheless, the eight chasers pulled through onto the gravel thinking that they would be rewarded with a glimpse of the three break-away riders and even perhaps a chance to run them down, but we saw nothing! It was simply amazing how fast they had gapped us and it sent a strong psychological message of the “real-politick” throughout the group.

As a realist in times of stress, the author looked at the lean & muscled body-types amongst the riders in the group as compared to his own ill-defined bulk, did a quick reflective assessment and then some basic mass divided by volume computations and then personal weight x energy x cardiac output calculations, and then immediately started to aim lower, figuring that planning for a top ten finish would be a more reasonable goal for the day, especially given the sustained climbs that lay between the group and the finish line. Of course the individual only knows what he/she is thinking in such a situation, but it may not be too far off the mark to assert that the fact of the matter was that all eight (except perhaps the great climber Eki), knew at that point, that the best one could hope for was a fourth place finish given the disappearance of the top three.

So it came to pass that the chase group made its way to the base of the climbs that heads up the Lester River, sans the amicable Gort who succumbed to the vile and merciless Leg Cramp Demon, a dark angel that shows no mercy. It was also at this point that the grizzled and defeated writer bid his comrades of some 100 miles, “adieu” taking his rightful place within the “caboose of despair,” riding in alone with only his many shortcoming, failings, and formable heft to keep him company to the finish line (in the 10th position).

Alas, whilst for the writer all that remained was to limp alone the final miles to the finish, his diminished mind daydreaming of the recuperative powers of liquefied fermented barley and hops ; two exciting dramas were playing themselves out up ahead on the last mile or two of the course. Uncatchable by the chase group, strong Nikolai and speedy Jake, side-by-side sprinted towards the line with the streamlined, youthful Boyce edging out the resolute, but less aero-dynamic Russian for the impressive win!

Meanwhile, Rosscoe had faltered on the last climb and was struggling to regain composure, whilst the remaining chasers lead by the redoubtable Eki surged with a dose of bloodlust at the sight of the third rider. At that point, the mischievous gods decided Fraboni’s fate by sucking the air from his tire leaving him stranded with but a mere half-mile from the finish. Eki jumped on the opportunity and fired it in for third place followed closely by the formidable Tim Andrews!!! Bravo Brave Men!!! Yet, the curtain had not fallen for many still would labor through their own challenges including Michelle Haag, who would go on to win the Women’s Division…BRAVO BRAVE WOMAN!!!

And of course it would be remiss to fail to mention the real heroes of the Heck of the North; the steady ones that finish it no matter the time and breadth of personal challenge involved. Namely: Derek Chinn and Scott Sundby, both of whom took ten and one-half hours to complete the course!!! This kind of steadfast effort reminds me of what the Sage of Winter Cycling Epics, Dave Pramann, once told me after he completed the classic Arrowhead 135 in a record time of like 16 hours, “I am the lucky one, I get to drink beer now, itz the guyz that battle the course for twenty-four hours, thirty hours, or even more that are the really tough ones” (Note: Or something like that, I was well into my fifth stout when said that to me!).

In any event, it was a great day for all and we all owe our thanks to Jeremy Kershaw and his team of do-gooders!!! Once again BRAVO HECK OF THE NORTH!!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Op-Ed Piece on the Heck of the North

Letter to the editor: For the secretive DBD…About this time last year, or 366 dayz ago will forever be considered, A day that will live in infamy. Specifically, one year and one day ago, three men of indisputable honor committed acts of such shameless depravity that the fall-out from their deployable actions threatened to dissolve the prestigious DBD organization forever more. One of them (Farrow) was later fully exonerated by the DBD Honor Board, but his otherwise record of purity was forever tarnished. As for the other two, they shall take their dishonor to their graves! Both Eki and Buffington with wanton and conscious willingness quit the Heck of the North race and then took rides from spectators rather than doing their duty!!! Afterwards Eki, in an act of desperation (with hints of displaced honor), threw himself off the Enger Tower, but sadly survived. Buffington is said to have attempted the use of a hand gun to save honor, but later claimed mechanical dysfunction. To allow these two scoundrels to race tomorrow surely calls into question Kershaw’s commitment to the DBD!! Why not let Landis and Contador race as well? Oh the shame!!!

George Mallory
Ernest Shackleton
Bill Tilman

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Heck of the North is next Saturday!!!

Hey Sports Fans: I have ridden many aspects of the Heck course over the last few weeks and itz gonna be a fantastic race with beautiful scenery, including a full-on brilliant color show as the leaves change over in anticipation of winter!!! I counted over 20 guyz that could potentially win the field is very competitive as well...Thanking Jeremy Kershaw and all the others for taking this on!!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

To begin a new....

What started out as a hopeful spring, feeling great and racing well in the Spring and early Summer Gravel Classics...the fact of the matter is that really since the end of the Trans-Wisconsin (TW) in June, I have been languishing in self loathing...and thus not surprisingly my racing has been pathetic, my training erratic and uninspired, and my overall commitment to living a wholesome and healthy lifestyle has waned significantly...I suppose I could blame my lack of motivation on the dent the TW put into my motor for it really did involve an effort that was beyond anything I have ever done before on a bicycle...the profound exhaustion I felt post TW rivals that of how I felt as a young man post McKinley and Logan Expeditions...Yet all that is simple excuse making and itz not worth nothin' and it don't mean nothin'! BUT on this coming MONDAY all is going to change!!! Monday, September 13th marks my start date at beginning to build a NEW & Improved Self!!! I am going to get back to the basics: Long and hard rides at least twice a week, calculated and varied training six dayz a week, eating right with definitive limits on beer consumption (with the goal being to lose 15 lbs by December 1st and hit 160 lbs by the Arrowhead), talking to off-spring, and a bunch of other positive reformations...After all I still have a few good years left in this old body...and in the short term I have a lot to look forward to including: October's Heck of the North, the Tuscobia 150 miler in December, maybe Lance's Iowa race in early January, and the magical Arrowhead 135 in late January...Farther out, I am planning to recapture HONOR lost at the Classic Trans-Iowa and to perhaps contend for a top finish in the rumored inaugural Trans-Minnesota, and a repeat effort in the Trans-Wisconsin....And in the not-so-distant future, I am completely committed to completing both the Great Divide and the Alaskan look for a changed man...come Monday :) ....I'm pumped....Monday is the day....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

When HONOR is lost...

Sheepishly, on Sunday past, in the cover of a metaphorical fog, an embarrassed, physically and mentally defeated DBD duo made a hasty northern departure to put as many miles betwixt them and Seven Oaks for once again Iowa had proved to be more than enough challenge for these wayward and misguided cyclists. In other words, they got their butts kicked!!! More to follow...and it will not be pretty...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hey Iowa!!!! Here WE come....

The Big Buff and I are heading fer Iowa...Seven Oaks to be exact for the 24 hours suffer-fest!!! If you're there and looking fer me; I'll be the forlorn fat old guy on the borrowed bike with the look of panic and desperation in his eyes... :) NOTE: Look for Buffington to impress......

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Whats it all really mean? If anything?

Sitting here late night, with a well lubricated brain, checking religiously from time to time via “Peak Timing” for updates on how my buddies and heroes, including Dave Schuneman, Chris Schotz, Charly Tri and Dan Dittmer, are fairing in the Salsa 24 hours @ Afton…I am struck with the absurdity of it all…and how I will be in the same boat here in just a week’s time…

Since the dawn of humanity, the March to Folly continues…
A man, especially an aged and/or delusional one, needs a plan, even if that plan is inherently flawed and/or foolhardy, (think of our two recent Presidents and their plans for our military to force a constitutional democracy and subsequent neighborly and lasting peace onto the “Republic of Iraq” or even a bigger stretch, forcing democracy, stability, and peace onto a systemically violent, fragmented, and tribal Afghanistan). Nevertheless, regardless of outcomes, it is always the case that a plan is better than no plan, always, even if the plan is based on faulty logic…Furthermore, in order to have a workable, albeit flawed/foolhardy plan; a guy needs a goal (or a mission) and then from there—strategies to achieve that goal or mission, and finally tactics by which to put the strategies into action so as to ultimately accomplish the goal or mission. Note: if the plan was solid, the goal should likewise need to be appropriately commiserate with ones societal & cultural ideologies, and maybe even morally correct and so forth, but in this particular case the whole thing is folly, and accordingly reason, logic, and/or ethics are not essential ingredients…again think recent US Policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, etc. or racing a bicycle for 24 hours straight around a short loop at a ski hill or the author continually setting out to race these long endurance contests at his age and talent-level...Itz all absurd!!!

Specifically within the context of this entry, when it comes to racing 24 hours on a mountain bike, the author needs a practical plan that is very simplistic and thus easy to follow as the cognitive skills of any and all cyclists in such endeavors are severely limited due to the physical strain involved. Ironically, the problem is compounded with experience and the onset of aging. Not surprisingly, diminished cognitive proficiencies are similar within the brains of those of whom administer and conduct wars, especially with those who have experience fighting war and yet continue to do so… Subsequently, if, like the author (and those that manage war), ones cognitive skills are from the get-go limited, the stress of going 24 hours nonstop on a bike (or waging wars for year upon year) compounds these limitations and renders one’s cognitive capacity to a level similar to that of an egg-plant. In any event, here is the author’s 24 Hours @ Seven Oaks plan-of-action (in hierarchical order):

I. Goal: The main goal is to simply finish within the top three places in the Solo 24 Category and to also, in the process, assist fellow DBDer, the talented Buffington, in winning the thing.

II. Strategies: Given the fact that I have done very little training of late, zero racing, and gained seven pounds+ since the beginning of August because of seemingly continuous issues related to our epic remodeling project (which had led to prodigious beer and junk-food intakes), coupled with the fact that my trusty Gunnar as been grounded for ten days or more, and now sent “away” to Waterford, Wisconsin for evaluation (I’ll discuss this later in detail once more info is available); the basis of my plan of attack to achieve my goals hinges on two very important presuppositions. Namely; 1.) Since I have not been training, or racing, only drinking and eating, I shall be arriving at Seven Oaks very well rested and fully hydrated and loaded to the gills with high quality barleys, hops, and malts (all excellent sources of carbohydrates); and 2.) Since my "once" trusty Gunnar is not available to race @ Seven Oaks, I shall be using a borrowed bike (Jason Buffington’s) which has suspension, gears, and smallish wheels. Although it was difficult, I have convinced myself that such a cushy configuration is advantageous over the rigid 29er Gunnar, given the lay of the Seven Oaks course. If race goes poorly for me, blame on the foreign bike.

III. Tactics: Continue to rely completely and wholeheartedly on the accuracy of an old scale in my closet which always puts my weight at a svelte 167; stay away from the accurate scale at work, until after the race. Use generous amounts of Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout and VIP pizza as main nutritional sources for the pre-race carbo-loading phase during the week leading up to the event. Feign mild heart attack early in the race while Buffington is still close by, with the hope that Buffington, (the physician) will trump Buffington (the competitor), causing him to stop and give me aid, thus slowing him to some degree. I had no success with this very tactic in last year's Arrowhead 135, but I do not learn from past experiences. If I did, I would have given up on 24 Hour races years ago. If the Man-child, Carney, is back, attempt to distract him as he laps me with various psychological strategies complied after years of dealing with high school students including “mooning him,” etc.

Congrats to all the competitors @ the Salsa 24 Hours Race….especially Danielle Musto…WOW!!!! She is on track to win it or second place!!! Or at least a finish in the top three!!! AMAZING Effort...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A MUST read....A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith...five stars out of five stars

"Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be happy; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere-be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost."
- Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Ch. 48

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It is the END of the world as we know it!!! Headlines are grim...

WEMS Blue Mounds "hard-core" endurance race called off because it rained some on Friday...
Buffington subscribes to RV rags...seen recently at a KOA in a Good Sam jumpsuit...
Kershaw snubs DBD Leadership and names newly arrived off-spring, Silvia in spite of insider pressure to name the babe, "Mallory" or "Malloree"
Farrow enrolls off-spring in knitting clinic...and stays for initial session...
Sir Eki turns to "short-course" triathlon racing in wake of yet another WEMS cancellation...
Pramann dedicates himself to the pursuit of excellence in the mastering of cross-word puzzles...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A bright star flares out?

DBD Headquarters
Kitchee Gammi Club
c/o Sir Eki & Mr. Farrow

Dear Sirs: In brazen disregard for DBD protocol (and all that is proper and just), it has come to our attention that young Buffington has shamelessly purchased a Starcraft “pop-up” trailer and parked it ostentatiously in his front yard for the entire world to see. As you know, Ernest and I have a long and often heartbreaking history of standing with the both of you in your support of Mr. Buffington, but this recent transgression puts us in an untenable position. Mallory and his people are outraged and are calling for your talented, yet reckless youngster to be tarred and feathered. The matter has been officially discussed and the ambiance has not been favorable with a decidedly vindictive and punitive tone throughout. Due to the onset of tea time, the issue has been tabled until later in the week. Your only hope is that with ingestion of a few libations, Mallory and his people will strike a more tempered theme in terms of consequences. It would be a blow to the Club to lose such a talent, but with his brief and erratic career with the Club, his chances do not look good. Can you please speak with him in an attempt and call for reason, ASAP? Perhaps he could claim that it was a kind of ruse? Or an attempt at humor?
Tȟašúŋke Witkó (aka Crazy Horse)

Personal Commentary…
A fall from grace…when honor is lost what is left? Where have all the young heroes gone? Do we expect too much from our leading men/women? Above is just a sampling of my emotional queries upon hearing the Board’s initial decision on the Buffington Affair
My stout heart wept within when I heard the news, although outwardly I remained stoic as is our custom… Perhaps some chronological background information is needed to frame what has been a roller-coaster ride for the Northern Colony Chapter of the DBD of late in terms of dealing with this new and talented upstart.
With reservations, Buffington is invited to join the DBD after winning out in a controversial vote last January. Lead by Mallory and Tilman, concerns are raised regarding his role in the Heck of the North debacle, his unbridled propensity for running, coupled with disclosures of several demeaning remarks made to the media regarding the composition of the current living members of the DBD’s Northern Colony. Yet in the end, the Pro-Buffington contingency under the direction of Ernest Shackleton and Crazy Horse, narrowly wins out by extolling the young man’s ability to brew fine ales of all sorts and emphasizing his willingness to suffer wantonly and needlessly as exemplified by his finishing up the 75 mile Tuscobia on a skinny-tired bicycle whilst all other like-equipped competitors quit early on.
Immediately after his inception, the “yes” voters are heartened by Buffington’s effort at the Arrowhead 135 Classic, where he finished high up amongst a talented field and then tended to the aged and faltering Farrow (and his frost-ravaged toe). Nevertheless, with spring came renewed questions and accusations of acts of dishonor. Whilst other DBD men traveled to Red Wing to test there meddle at the demanding Ragnarok 105, Young Buffington went to Florida and was seen blatantly running barefoot and nearly naked there on the beach! Then whilst the Trans-Iowa fiasco wrought dishonor upon all members of the Northern Colony, savvy Buffington was able to astutely dodge most of the criticism by blaming the other more experienced members for the travesty at Grinnell…The leadership seemed to agree with him and used their precipitous scorn against Farrow and Eki, but the whole affair left a stain upon his record.
Subsequently as spring morphed into summer, as if to flaunt the DBD moral code of conduct, Buffington embarked on a public regimen of training for and running in marathons!!! Mallory was outraged and called from him to be censored, and then publicly drawn & quartered. But by this point, the young man had won over several high ranking members and they were able to overwhelm the calls for his demise…citing the unbridled exuberance of youth…
By summer, all transgressions were forgotten as Big Buff (as he became affectionately known) was dominating at two WEMS races. He won the single speed category at the challenging Thunderdown, even pushing the venerable DBD stalwart, Sir Eki, for the top overall finish. After which he flew at the demanding Levis 100 finishing an amazing second overall on a single-speed. Then at the 24 Hours @ 9 Mile, he finished an outstanding 2nd place behind the stallion, Stawicki, and 3rd overall!!! The future looked bright for him…
But now this??? Oh the shame of it all!!!! Yet, do we expect too much from our youth these dayz…Please share your thoughts…Should Buffington be thrown out of the DBD? Does his acquisition of the "pop-up" trailer go to far? Mallory likened it to carrying bottled oxygen whilst climbing...Oh the shame!!! Tilman compared it with having a motor-engine installed on one's sailing craft...Or should the Club once again bend itz rules to accommodate the ever changing modern world…First suspension bikes, then carbon, now POP UP TRAILERS??? What next????

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Not much happening 'round brief:

1.) Got a good one in on Wednesday, whereby I rode about 75-to-80% of the 100 mile+ Heck of the North course with a bunch of great guys from Ely, Grand Marais, and Duluth. It was very hot & windy, and because I had to be back at 3:30 I had to bail early. So on Friday morning, solo, I back tracked and rode the last half of the course in relatively good time as the weather was perfect. The Heck of the North course is unique to the Midwestern gravel road routes that I am familiar with, in that it is decidedly not farm country. Also, there are three short, but tough sections of squalidness on the course that can help to even up the playing field to some extent as there are long sections that could favor the pure roadie-types...

As of last week the first squalid section was quite ride-able except for a brief swampy pond that required a quick dismount. Yet the last two sections consisted of pure squalor forcing one to dismount many times and hiking-the-bike through high grasses, complete with swampy morasses and unforgiving hummocks.

October 2nd is the date and itz gonna be a great one!!! Bravo Mr. Kershaw!!!

2.) Been reading some really good books of late: Right now I am working through Betty Smith's, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This is a great work of American Literature and in my mind should rank up there with To Kill a Mockingbird or the equivalent.

3.) As of Saturday, for the first time since before the Trans-Iowa, this week I have broken the 20 hour barrier for training rides and more importantly, I have further regained my excitement for racing, which has suffered since completion of mid-June's Trans Wisconsin and compounded by my poor showing a few weeks ago at the Levis-Trow 100. Due to all the construction on our house and the headaches that come with it, I am limiting myself to racing just the 24 Hours @ Seven Oaks for the remainder of the summer season. To prepare for the 24 hours trial, I plan to concentrate on longer rides on single-track. As alluded to above I am also totally pumped for the Heck of the North, December's Tuscobia 150, and the classic 2011 Arrowhead 135...

4.) We have watched several films of late with adult themes as off-spring was off to YMCA camp including the Swedish film, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Shutter Island. The Swedish work was top-notch and highly entertaining if somewhat disturbing, while Shutter Island was an utter failure and cannot be recommended...

5.) I am still trying to get at writing up that last chapter in what will surely go down as the highlight race of the 2010 Summer season for the author; namely The Trans-Wisconsin. Once school starts, I will surely have more ambition to really sit down and put pen to paper in an attempt to convey the surreality of those last hours of that epic experience that I shared with Jeremy Kershaw...