Friday, April 29, 2011

We're off to see the Wizard...the Wonderful Wizard of ____: T.I. Race Report

2011 Trans-Iowa Race Recap

"... there is no man that shall catch thee by a burst of speed, neither pass thee by, nay, not though in pursuit he were driving goodly Arion, the swift horse of Adrastus, that was of heavenly stock ...”

"...I was in another lifetime one of toil and blood.
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud I came in from the wilderness a creature void of form "Come in" she said "I'll give you shelter from the storm".

Note: if you want to read an excellent account of my actual experience in this extraordinary race please refer to Tim Ek’s account (The Eki Chronicles). Or if you want great pics go to Jeremy Kershaw's site, "Gravel". If you want the truth about what really happened in this race...good luck :)

In the interest of transparency and accuracy, I am compelled to submit to you that I honestly do not remember many of the concrete details surrounding the actual running of the Trans-Iowa… Essentially I remember that it was awfully tough and very adventurous. Perhaps there is some truth in the adage that we are hardwired to forget the pain and remember only the good stuff—a rationale for why mothers have more than one child. Yet I also believe that as a species we crave (and some even thrive-on) adventure in our lives. Paradoxically, as we continually “progress” we further alienate ourselves from opportunities to experience true adventure. Sure modern civilizations make efforts at satisfying this need with things like Alpine Slides, Theme Parks, The Lutsen 99er, and the like, but these contrivances fool (or satisfy) only the most elementary of the citizenry. Perhaps then it is events such as the Trans-Iowa, events that inherently invite uncertainty and many of the other vital elements needed for a good old fashioned adventure, that act to satisfy this essential human need…but I digress.

In any event, like all of the adventures and misadventures that I have experienced over the decades, instead of crystal clear memories of this long cross-country race, within my fragile psyche there exists a surreal notion of having experienced a deeply satisfying encounter, perhaps even a kind of primordial experience, that contained all the makings of a true adventure. The kind of adventure that transcends the ages (or maybe even context) in that surely the raw feeling of uncertainty I felt that long night could not have been much different than what Ötzi and his comrades felt 5000 years old as they travelled across what is now the Italian Alps [google Ötzi ].

Included in this vague, but highly positive memory is the power of being intrinsically motivated, the sense of singular purpose that developed amongst our small group, and the manifestation of friendship demonstrated by Eki, Troy Krause, Dennis Grelk as we gave chase onto the stronger John Gorilla and Sean Mailen.

I do remember having a wonderful time traveling down to the race with brave Jeremy Kershaw. Bidding the Great Northern Lake adieu, we left beautiful Duluth on a fair Thursday afternoon and then 250 miles south amid domesticated farm country, stopped for the night @ a nondescript motel in Albert Lea where we enjoyed a few ales and wiled away the time laughing at the absurdity of our tenuous time here on planet earth as the rains began and our hopes of good conditions in Iowa diminished. Given our regular and hectic lifestyles at home, it was a glorious respite to be able sleep in on Friday. Arriving mid-afternoon in the idyllic hamlet of Grinnell we took time to explore the quaint main streets which included a bike shop from which we had a pleasant conversation with the owner.

The pre-race meeting was a resounding success with all in attendance in good-cheer to the degree that even the rainy, chilly weather could not damper the amicable atmosphere. Once the informative segment of the evening began, even the most dull-witted of T.I. patrons could not help but appreciate the hours-upon-hours of work that Guitar Ted and David Pals put into this special event. The logistical challenges associated with the course alone must take tremendous time and effort. Compounding the challenge of course creation is the unpublicized closing, alteration, or re-categorizing of roads. Eki and I were confronted with this very problem during the nighttime when we came upon a road that had been presumably “downgraded” from a minimally maintained B-road to a privately maintained C-road. Luckily I remembered G.T. discussing this very issue at the meeting and thus we were able to avoid what the others both ahead and behind did not. Also a public thank you to all the sponsors that generously donated a plethora of good product. Personally I found the GU gels to be life-savers.

From Grinnell to Check Point (CP) #1: When I consider the start and the first few hours— what stands out is occasionally looking back at the long line of bike lights that streamed behind us; all riding at a sustainable controlled tempo…I remember thinking that it was a good, competent group-effort especially when compared to last year when the group pace was harried, futile and ill-conceived; a recipe for mass failure, like lemmings headed collectively for the Cliff of Abysmal Failure. Perhaps like the Lemmings, last year’s group knew that it was doomed from the start. On this day, only one rider nearly screwed up the whole air of good-feeling as he took a turn way too fast and almost wiped out a bunch of guyz. He was the old haggard one, clad awkwardly in red tights riding an antiquated Merlin frame. Sadly a perennial peloton favorite, Corey Godfrey (aka Cornbread) had a catastrophic mechanical which put him out of the race. It was a real shame as I am quite sure that he would have been right up in the running for the win. Another casualty was Team Slender Fungus. My heartfelt message to them, in Lord Tennyson’s words, “Hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost; Than never to have loved at all.” Come back to Iowa Dear Slender Fungus friends for next year may well be the one!

From CP #1 to CP #2: Having raced with all of the serious contenders left after the first fifty miles, from my perspective, of the remaining six that were in close proximity, John Gorilla and Tim Ek would be the ones to watch. Of course, Eki and I are training partners and good friends so I was hardly objective in my hopes for who would prevail.

My simple plan was to hang on for as long as I could during the initial 17o miles or so, shamelessly sucking off of the leaders’ wheels, and hope for redemption in the night-time and ultimate salvation with the sun’s arrival on Sunday morning. If things went really right for me and if a few of the others experienced bad luck, I’d have a chance to win it. Like the great Don Quixote, I always approach every challenge with the notion that if everything aligns just right I’ll be victorious…Of course, this perfect alignment has yet to materialize, but I continue to “dream the impossible dream!” Really, for me, a top five finish was what I was shooting for and at that point I felt like it was within reach. I was initially surprised at how well Dennis Grelk was riding, but when he fell off the pace after the first CP, I was not surprised as he is a notorious fast starter. I knew the amicable Troy Krause to be tough, fit, steady and thus I was not surprised at all when he regained the chase group (along with Dennis) later on in the night-time. Also, I knew young, charismatic Sean Mailen had potential, but I must admit that I was initially surprised at how strong he was riding, as well. Sean was nearly as strong as John in pushing the lead.

A happy memory involves riding a stretch of a flat railroad grade, Eki and I closely following the stronger Gorilla and tenacious Mailen. Laughter and joke-telling flourished as the pace moderated. But alas, by and by the tone turned serious again and it became once again a singular focus to just exert enough energy to hold Gorilla or Mailen’s wheel. I’d be a liar if I conveyed that I felt guilt for only drafting because at my age, weight, and ability— I feel entitled. It went on like this until, with about 5 miles to the second checkpoint, I started to fall behind, lost the slipstream, grew desperate, and then I experienced a rear flat. Remaining relatively calm, having two extra tubes, a patch kit, and three CO2 cartridges, (plus a pump), I was ready to deal with flats, so I made the change in good time and luckily caught back up with the group as they had stopped at a gas station (just a few miles in from CP #2). If a guy had to choose a place to have a flat it would have been exactly at that point for with the stop just up ahead I had plenty of time to do the repair and regain the group. Salvation.

CP #2 to Grinnell: Before I forget: A public "thank-you" to Eki for guiding me to the finish line in Iowa...had I been left alone I may well still be out there somewhere living as a farm hand. A public “thank you” also to Troy and Dennis for putting up with me, and another public “thanking you too!” to Sean and John for pulling me along for hundreds of miles.

In any event, Eki and I jumped passed the two leaders at the last checkpoint (as they leisurely met with loved ones and well wishers) in a forlorn hope of gapping them. They caught us in short time and we took our rightful position of chase group.

I have done enough of these things to know that the “real race” begins when the sun goes down. With the advent of darkness, Eki and I were in good shape and our spirits soared…we were pumped and flying high, really this was a Miller High Life moment. Truly the time spent alone with Eki racing fast into the night is a most happy and cherished memory on par with my time spent with Kershaw during the Trans-Wisconsin and Buffington at the Arrowhead. Even the complicated route finding was tolerable as long as I had Eki leading the way. Eki became the undisputed leader and care-giver, a true and loyal friend not unlike our great DBD patron Ernest Shackleton…”Long Live Eki!”

There were a series of pilot errors and mistakes made, including a second flat tire that took way too much time to fix. But, unbeknownst to us at the time, the delays and set-backs ultimately turned out for the best because it put us into contact with Dennis and Troy, who were chasing us. A renewed, energized, youthful, zestful, buoyant Dennis had seemingly undergone a metaphysical transformational resurrection (and along with the stalwart Troy riding shot-gun) was riding like Adrastus atop the fabled equine, Arion. Dennis is “good people” and actually apologized for putting the three of us in the proverbial hurt tank whilst trying to hold his wheel…

It was during this segment of the race when I began my rapid devolution into the Eternal Abyss of Self-Loathing (from which there can be no return). Note: evidence of the launch of the author’s downward spiral into the Eternal Abyss of Self-Loathing (from which there can be no return) was demonstrated in his inability to intellectually grasp the underlying mechanical principles of both the CO2 inflator gizmo and the mini-pump as he repeatedly tried to fix his second flat of the race. The long delay helped Troy and Dennis to catch back up to us…perhaps had Eki not stayed to wait for me, he may have won it all, given John’s problems later on…but it is doubtful given Dennis’ amazing surge of energy . I guess this counterfactual is left to best be debated at a tavern some day in the future with both an elderly Eki and aged Grelk buying the rounds!

As stated in an earlier post from about the twenty-four mark to the finish the events are blurry at best. I remember thinking that Gorilla was certainly having some bad luck and that the “Hinge Factor” swings freely and is not concerned with fair play or the like. I remember approaching the Emerald City in our quest to see the Wizard, but falling desperately sleepy as we crossed the fields amid the beautiful yellow and orange poppy flowers. I remember the monkeys singing old Beetles songs whilst swinging in the trees... I clearly remember a fair maiden calling to me from a distance, "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm."

AND I remember thinking that somewhere along the way I may have taken a Sacred VOW, along with Eki and Troy that we would NEVER, EVER, EVER, do this race again…but I’m not sure…not sure I got that right, so I better not write it….in the interest of…in the interest of transparency and accuracy.

Thanks again GT and DP.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trans Iowa Official Results are posted below...but thatz just the bare facts...

Open Men: 1st: Dennis Grelk @ 28hrs, 40mn,
2nd Tim Ek, @ 29hrs, 44 mn
3rd Troy Krause (same time) @ 29hrs, 44mn,
4th Charlie Farrow @ 29hrs, 56mn,
5th John Gorrilla @ 30hrs, 13mn,
6th Sean Mailen @ 30hrs, 24mn,
7th John Williams
8th Eric Brunt,
9th Adam Boone (same time) @ 32hrs, 13mn,
10th Mike Johnson @ 32hrs, 45mn,
11th Jonathan Weissman @ 33hrs, 11min,
12th Charles Parsons,
13th Jeremy Fry,
14th Joe Mann (same time) @ 33hrs, 25mn,
15th Scott Bigelow @ 33hrs, 44mn.
Open Women: Janna Vavra @ 33hrs, 44mn Open
Singlespeed/Fixed: 1st Aaron Gammell,
2nd Ben Shockey (same time) @ 33hrs 11mn

20 through 80 DNF Or about 23% of the racers finished it...expect a fully embellished race report within a week...

It was an awesome test of one's mettle, but the most fascinating thing for me was my devolution. By the seventeen hour mark I lost my ability to think for myself. By the twenty hour mark, I was completely reduced to a singular molecule devoid of functional capacities other than pedaling the bike forward and consuming caffeine and Ibooze. I no longer ate food or drank water or felt pain. By the twenty-four hour mark, I was no longer an organic entity as I had morphed into a simple virus capable only on pedaling forward...the last five hours do not belong to me so I cannot comment on them....Dear Reader, you think I am kidding, but I am not....

Monday, April 25, 2011

Trans-Iowa Does NOT Disappoint...The Trans-Iowa provides an awesome experience for all involved.

Most people now-a-dayz use the word, awesome, incorrectly.

Webster's 1913 Dictionary
1. Causing awe; appalling; awful; as, an awesome sight.
2. Expressive of awe or terror.
An awesome glance up at the auld castle.
- Sir W. Scott.

Adj. 1. awesome - inspiring awe or admiration or wonder; "New York is an amazing city"; "the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring sight"; "the awesome complexity of the universe"; "this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath"- Melville; "Westminster Hall's awing majesty, so vast, so high, so silent"
Synonyms: awe-inspiring, awing, amazing, awful

Related Words
Gargantuan, affecting, aggrandized, alarming, amazing, amplitudinous, apotheosized, appalling, astonishing, astounding, astronomical, august, awe-inspiring, awful, awing, beatified, big, bizarre, boundless, breathtaking, bulky, canonized, colossal, cosmic, daunting, deified, dire, direful, divine, dread, dreaded, dreadful, eerie, elevated, eminent, ennobled, enormous, enshrined, enthroned, estimable, exalted, excellent, extensive, fearful, fearsome, fell, formidable, frightening, galactic, ghastly, ghoulish, gigantic, glorified, grand, great, grim, grisly, gruesome, heavenly, held in awe, hideous, high, high and mighty, holy, honorable, horrendous, horrible, horrid, horrific, horrifying, huge, immeasurable, immense, immortal, immortalized, imposing, incredible, ineffable, inenarrable, inexpressible, infinite, inviolable, inviolate, king-size, large, lofty, macabre, magnified, mammoth, massive, massy, mighty, monster, monstrous, monumental, morbid, mountainous, moving, mysterious, numinous, outsize, overgrown, overwhelming, prodigious, redoubtable, religious, reverend, sacred, sacrosanct, sainted, sanctified, schrecklich, shocking, shrined, sizable, spacious, spiritual, stirring, stunning, stupefying, stupendous, sublime, supereminent, terrible, terrific, terrifying, throned, time-honored, titanic, tremendous, unbelievable, uncanny, unspeakable, untouchable, unutterable, vast, venerable, voluminous, weighty, weird, wonderful, wondrous, worshipful was even better than I hoped it would be...How many times can a guy say that...The Trans-Iowa was truly AWESOME.
Here is what I am thinking about (a theme that I plan to explore in my race recap)…I am fascinated by how the extraordinary unknowns that are so embedded in this great physical challenge facilitate and dictate the social bonds that develop between the participates. Or in otherwords, How Eki saved my butt!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Woe is me...sometime I feel like a motherless child...Iowa calls

Dear Diary:

Lat: 47 degrees North
Temp: 31 w/snow flakes

Given the weather, even after ordering a finger of rum to all enlisted, the men of the DBD are low. Only Crazy Horse and the Man-dog, Loki, seem game. Buffington has inexplicably disappeared; rumors abound from a solo sojourn vision-quest in the far reaches of the Arctic to running barefoot on some sissy-pants beach in domesticated Florida. Pramann is broken and only the scalpel can mend him. At the Club, Kershaw was found by a man-servant rocking to-and-fro in the fetal position mumbling something about the hinterlands of Iowa and that he wouldn’t be taken alive. Whilst in the red-light district of old Duluth, a wild-eyed Eki played Russian-roulette all night with a decreasing throng of ner-do-wells and thugs from the Hindu Kush. Iowa will be no picnic.
Pray for our eventual salvation,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ditto...Iowa'z got me head all busted up inside...

Regarding where I am at regarding my preparation for the classic Trans-Iowa--What he said...

or What he said...

You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel

IF...the weather gives us a fighting chance in Iowa

IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

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

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose, and start again at your beginnings. And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in you..Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Thank you Mr. Kiplin...If only the weather will hold...IF...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wiki leaks...exposes the rift between runners and cyclists

More from Wiki-Leaks...Disclaimer: the names have been changed to protect the _____.....A recently obtained correspondence between a notable elite runner (with an infinity for snowshoe racing) and a “has-been” cyclist.

Cable #1: Dearest X: I am still growing in my ability to understand and appreciate the sport of cycling---In bike racing, as often as not, the best man doesn't win the race. The luckiest man, with the right equipment, the right team, who fell into the right group, with just enough fitness, is the man who wins the race. In some ways this makes cycling crueler than running; it has the feel of being directed by fate not action. At the same time, this bothers me. Most bike races, in my opinion, are not really races---they are too orchestrated to call them races. Analyzing my cycling loyalties, this is why I like time trialists. That is the closest thing to "real" racing in my opinion----where, barring mechanicals, the best rider wins. Everybody knows that Fabian Cancellara was the best rider last weekend (Flanders) and this past weekend (Paris Roubaix) but he didn't win. More specifically, he wasn't allowed to win. Directors in the team cars made decisions to prevent him from winning, even at the cost of having their lesser riders beat their better riders. While I find this intellectually stimulating, it violates my preconceived notions about what racing is and isn't. Had the entire course been a time trial, I wouldn't doubt that Cancellara would have won by 10 minutes or more. While Cancellara seems to accept this fate, I do not. In cycling, I believe there is a lot of mediocre talent hiding in the peleton. In running, there is no hiding. With guarded respect, Y.

Cable #2: Dearest Y: Your assessment disappoints, I had hoped for more insight from a man of your abilities. Are you not feeling well? Break from your myopic Utopian view of sport! The world is complex and inherently unpredictable. The notion of the purity of athleticism is folly. You state correctly that in cycling the best man often does not win. The same can be said in all of life's endeavors. Luck swings in unpredictable ways, but I will concede that the foot race on a flat track in a controlled environment is about as pure as one can get when it comes to determining the elementary, albeit artificial question of who is the fastest at a given distance. But beyond that the almost infinite contributing factors (even such things as temperature, humidity, track conditions, etc.) play major roles in outcomes. The great time trialist must fit a certain physical mold just as the great climber or the great marathoner. Look at how the Kenyans fair in the high humidity, or how “unfair” it is for low land runners to compete at altitudes. Please reflect on this important topic and seek flexibility in your thinking.... Concerned, X.

Cable #3: Memo… To: X From: Y

Re: Cycling as pseudo-sport and/or sport-lite?

Dear Sir: I have come to the conclusion that while cycling is not inferior as an activity or pursuit, it is inferior as a test of man's athletic ability in relation to the athletic ability of other men (sport). It is not competition in a pure sense (as is all running sport). In cycling, the bike engineers and builders are competing against the other bike engineers and builders, SRAM is competing against Shimano, Mavic is competing against HED, Continental is competing against Ritchey, Fisik is competing against Bontrager, Garmin is competing against Suunto, Team Sky is competing against Saxo-Bank, Director Jonathan Vaughters is competing against Director Bjarne Riis...........................and finally-------------------------rider is competing against rider. Riders are pawns in a larger game of chess. The very few who are athletically gifted do, in fact, shine occasionally, but norm is that inferior athletes, who are treated as human chemistry projects with the intent of making each rider have the exact same racing potential, end up on the podium. Some riders' physiology is altered through chemistry to make for effective performance uphill, or on flats, or for short bursts of speed, but the goal is to make the inferior passable and useful in the game of chess. In many ways, bike racing is like NASCAR. Not to mention the similarly low IQ of their fanships, both "sports" do everything they can to dilute the impact of individual talent, in favor of artificially-leveled playing fields. As a complex thinker, I have come to appreciate cycling as one does WWE wrestling. It is a show, filled with drama, multiple story lines, and a facade of competition. For those of us who have a different intellectual pedigree, we may outwardly scoff at cycling, but within our circle we discuss cycling as post-modern motif of Neo-conservatism. You may have read my paper on the topic, "Johan Bruyneel and Scott Walker---Unwitting rubes in Koch Brothers Intelligent Design." Running, on the other hand, is as pure an activity as possible in our soiled world. Barefoot, with just a cloth to cover one's loins, a runner looks into the eyes of another man and launches forward for a distance to determine individual supremacy. Like Howard Roark in Ayn Rand's seminal work, The Fountainhead, all runners are an embodiment of the human spirit, and running races represents the triumph of individualism over collectivism (as discussed further in my widely known dissertation). You and your cycling friends are all eunuchs. With contempt, Y.

Cable #4: Mr. Y: Your cretinism progresses. I have read your recent rants solely with the interest of a concerned professional intent on helping you find solace and thus have taken the liberty to forward your diatribes to the National Institute for the Advancement of Deranged Runners (NIADR), where it is hoped that you can get the help you so obviously crave. The decades of being called, "just another skinny runner," combined with the repeated “snuggies” you endured in grammar school has taken there toll on you. Help me, help you. Note: The experts @ NIADR have asked that I continue this dialogue so as to tempt out further conveyances, presumably to be used as diagnostic glimpses into your troubled psyche. Perhaps by helping you we can learn to assist all of the tormented running community. A community that left unchecked represents a significant security risk to the American people. My initial thinking on your preoccupation with manliness is that it has its genesis as a simple manifestation of what Freud calls a “trapped id.” Whilst the ancestors of the modern cyclist stayed and fought the Saber-toothed tiger rightly winning the right to procreate with diva cave women. The precursors to the modern runner, ran away and hid and then did some stretching and went to the cave dances as wall-flowers... Thus as a group, the runners of antiquity stood idle (or did some “stretching”) whilst the ancient cyclists engaged the natural, albeit masculine activities retained solely by the Alpha males of the pack. As time progressed the future cyclists evolved massive quads, unfettered libidos, and become hunters and surgeons and hedge fund managers, and dated rock stars. Whilst future runners gathered herbs and twigs, developed more feminine and delicate physiques, and formed public unions, whole-food CO-OPS and the like. Why do you people “skip” before the race? Try to get some rest, X.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ragnorak Race Recap...

Disclaimer: Any semblance this essay has to the great Hemingway is purely coincidental:

The race course was hilly and the man was old. Every thing about him was old except his eyes which sparkled and flickered and were in constant motion as the Northshore of the great inland lake of Gitchee Gummee. He did not curse the lay of the land for he accepted the way of things. The old man knew that the climbs that came late in the race would destroy him. Yet, by lining up and beginning the race, he knew that he could not be defeated. He knew that to die in the act of living assured him that, whatever the outcome, he was protected from ever being defeated. It was not as if he needed to race or wanted to race. It was just what he had become and he knew of nothing else that he could do, such is the curse of the aged.

In the morning, the old man was rested, having stayed the night before in the DBD fishing camp with the other three cyclists of his clan. The younger men had dreamed of great victories and acts of bravery, but he no longer dreamed of beautiful podium girls, nor of great successes, nor contests of strength and speed, nor of material wealth. He only dreamed of his man-dog, Loki. The dog roamed playfully within the wild high places of the old man’s youth and he loved the dog and these places.

The race commenced and the old man knew that he must try as he might to stay in the lead group. The man was old and knew the way of these things. He knew that the youthful ones would blast away from the start line to be alone with their own kind, but he also knew that the lead group would slow as soon as they felt clear of the others and that it would become a family. Also he knew the young ones and he knew that they would take him in if he did not cause problems. A family, but an unstable family, with ill-defined roles and degrees of loyalty. If the race were to be longer then the family would grow close and bonds would develop, but for today the family was not so strong and no one was safe from expulsion. Early on Kershaw flatted and was left alone. There was no remorse from the group, even the old man barely looked back. The clouds were building up but seemed in battle with the sun while a cool breeze filled the landscape and yet he never felt alone when riding his bicycle. As the pace quickened he thought to himself- now is the time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for.

With a sharp popping noise the Great Eki went down hard onto the floor. The old man thought why did they make the fast ones so delicate and fine when the road can be so cruel? The road can be joyous and wonderfully beautiful. But the road can turn suddenly cruel and unforgiving. The family felt sadness for the great Eki but the family did not slow its pace. To race a bicycle is a wonderful and strange thing, he thought. Like the great DiMaggio who always plays with grace, even with the painful heel spur. The great Eki regained the group and the old man was happy.

The race went along that way for many many miles. Not before very long there were only six left and the old man. Buffington, Austin-Phillips, Meiser, Tri, Manske, Eki, and the old man. The others looked at the old man and while they did not say so to him, they felt, “old man I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this race ends.”

Soon the family came upon a wickedly long and involved climb. The old man knew that he would have to put in everything now and go go go until something important inside him broke. As the old man labored up the great climb and the others pulled away from him he toiled onward and remembered the great DiMaggio. He thought that he must have confidence and be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel. He thought of his man-dog Loki. He wished the dog was with him… The family left him at the hill and he was alone. But he knew that he was not defeated. A man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.

I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me today.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ragnorak did NOT disappoint!!!

Top Ten- 1. Brandon Mankse 2. Tim Ek 3. Joe Mesier 4. Jeff Austin-Phillips 5. Charly Tri 6. Jason Buffington 7. An Old Fool from Old Duluth 8. Tim Norrie 9. John Struchynski 10. Dave Meyer

A fully embellished race report to follow in a day or two!!! Thanking the race directors and volunteers for a great day of gravel road racing!!!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Season is NOW about to begin...Rejoice rejoice rejoice....

The Ragnorak 105 commences on this upcoming Saturday in Red Wing, Minnesota. Red Wing is a picturesque river town that is adorned with majestic limestone bluffs and Victorian-styled mansions of yesteryear built in a better time, a time when "free-market" meant something; when the unfettered land, lumber, and shipping barons were unencumbered by petty societal concerns such as labor rights, affordable healthcare for the peasantry, gender equity, and stifling pollution regulations, but I digress…

As I put the cold blue steel blade to my grizzled old tottery legs in preparation for the first race of the season I silently weep the sweet tears of enthusiastic renewal. If or when “the excitement of the race” leaves me then I will know that it is time to embark upon a new endeavor, but to date that magical feeling of great anticipation for racing endures deep within my manly loin area. Although I know for certain that with the advancement of each year, my chances for a podium finish diminish; there still remains within a secret, albeit slight probability that I might pull off an upset. What if the top guyz get lost en route? What if the claims cited by the Brew Masters are true regarding scientific studies proving the positive relationship between the efficacy of beer consumption and athletic performance. I drink a lot of beer, more beer I bet than any other racer south of Duluth, plus beer has a ton of vitamin B12 in it, which unquestionably adds to my chances. May be, JUST MAY BE, if the conditions are less than perfect, and more than a few top guyz get flats, added to the extra time I have put in ingesting beer will all pay off in a podium finish for the writer? Stranger things have happened, or so I am told….In any event, look for the DBD’s Buffington and Eki to impress…as will the newly “geared” Kershaw…Thanks guyz of the Ragnorak for providing this wonderful is highly appreciated...

Note: Pramann will be sorely missed...but his return in the future will be cause for great merriment!