Monday, April 30, 2012

The Trans-Iowa is a very difficult race to complete.

 The above is a visual representation of the Dance of the Macabre. The painting depicts a pair of vanguard demons and a cart waiting to haul away the damned.  I was one of those being hauled this weekend.  No excuses, plenty of regret; yet only admiration for those brave nineteen men that battled through it all and came back to Grinnell...true heroes in my mind...Bravo finishers and special kudos to G.T. and his fine crew...WOW that is a HARD RACE...A full race report to follow within a few dayz..."My friends are all gettin' older, guess I must be gettin' older too...I feel like a cross between my parents and hippies living in a tent...." (lyrics stuck in my head during my abbreviated Trans-Iowa...)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gettin' it right for Iowa aint no easy task...

It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.”

Dear Self:
Getting ready for the Trans-Iowa. Quit foolin’ & deludin’ yourself about how you ain’t racing it… that instead you be out there just tryin’ to finish.  It don’t work that way down there in Iowa.  It ain't your race...your are just a pawn. Get it right—The whole thing is about racing. You are racing against it all fallin’ apart. Sooner or later itz gonna fall apart.  “Things fall apart.”
Like you, your gear is antiquated so you’re racin’ against stuff thatz gonna break sooner rather than later. You’re racing against flat tires and broken chains and trashed derailleurs… You’re racing against the onset of knee pain, against Achilles pain. You’re racing and hoping that your fragile back holds up. Itz like when the Wicked Witch of the North gotz Dorothy all locked up in that creepy castle and she getz that big-ass hour glass thingy going; puttin’ little Dorothy on notice that she aint got much ‘time” left here on earth, so she better get moving…You better get moving…You’re racing against the onset of darkness and then itz buddy, The Cold that seeps into your body. The merciless cold that invades your aged joints, the coldness that infiltrates into your true essence and robs you of your desire to keep going. AND you be racing against the most awesome foe of all…Racing against the most basic need of all…The need to stop the damned bike and sleep.  “Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.” You’re like Dorothy, hoping and a praying that you can outlast them flying monkeys.  Scare me.
Also, you aint gonna race this thing on hour own.  The mantra of “me gonna ride my own race” doesn’t apply to the Trans-Iowa.  If you want to finish the Trans-Iowa your going have to form some coalitions, alliances, you will need to caucus…because going it alone is just too hard.  Get your head right!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Are we all just a bunch of wimps?...Or are we simply misunderstood...

Below is a sad tale of dishonor. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
Picture four big strong guyz, alone on a remote gravel road.  It is in the morning. They pass a lonely house. A dog comes dashing after them, he is a big dog with big teeth, but he is slow and fat, yet he has a good line and so its gonna be a "showdown." There is barking, gnashing of teeth, and “saber rattling” by both parties. The rhetoric on both sides increases to the extent that the terms consistent with implied "death threats" may or may not have been used...Clearly, indisputably, emotionally charged words are exchanged... What is certain is that the canine threatens bodily harm and the men return threats-in-kind. 
A youth appears from behind a barrier and commands the dog to retreat. The dog relents. The once heightened mood spontaneously de-escalates. The men move away. The whole episode takes less than a New York minute...The moment is over; all is forgotten. It was just another encounter with a malcontented dog, a scenario that plays itself out thousands of times during the career of any aged long distance cyclist. The men return to their amicable natures…there is renewed laughter and goodwill.
Suddenly, perhaps just a few minutes later, down the lonely road, out of nowhere, a smallish middle-aged rotund swarthy woman flies past the men and slams her car to an abrupt halt, blocking the pathway. She is the dog's owner. The boy has conveyed to her the reckless exchanges betwixt dog and cyclists. With reckless abandon she confronts the men. She harangues the men. She scolds the men. She belittles the men.  She berates the men…
My question is: Are we (as a group) that nonthreatening? Is there anybody out there that is scared of cyclists? (Maybe runners, but that doesn’t count)…WOULD THAT SAME WOMAN GO AFTER A GANG OF HARLEY DAVIDSON RIDERS? Would she have done the same attack-thing had we all been wearing “hoodies” or “cowboy hats” or “turbans” or “hockey helmets?” Why are we soooo non-scary to people? Weak, timid, overweight women that are terrified of bees and salamanders, think nothing of verbally attacking a group of four big guyz on bicycles? 
Instead of going all Clint Eastwood on the woman…The four men, like all of their tribe, bent their heads and took the rant with forlorn resignation.  “Sorry ma'am…It was all just a misunderstanding” was the gist of the collective response.
But that was not enough humiliation for these pride-less men, these benign neutered ones…for then farther along the gravel comes the swarthy woman’s husband. He, too, flies past the haggard group, blocks the road with his car, and then using his unwieldy girth, stands against the riders’ path. This mountain of human-flab, like his spouse, detained the men with a recounting of the Men’s’ sins perpetrated against the dog (and boy). One can only surmise as to the elation the malcontented dog must have felt to see his rivals being “put in their place” by his Masters…so so sad…The men agree that in the future they will be more polite to dogs, even aggressive ones.  
Why is it that cyclists get absolutely no respect? Itz cuz we are all just too nice...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trans-Iowa is coming...Get your head right!!!

There’s a bad moon on the rise…Demons congregate over the barrens of Iowa.  Help me….
Letter to "Self":
Dear Self (aka Charlie): Hey old man! If you are NOT 100% mentally prepared, totally committed, and singularly focused on dealing with (and accepting) the pain, angst, and frustration associated with the 25 plus hours that is the Trans-Iowa...then you need stay home because there ain’t NO WAY that a guy can fake it through that race.  So get your head right…


Sins of the Demon
by J. Macvicar

Wordlessly pleading,
Silently howling,
Waiting for the nightmares to go with the night.

Tossing and turning,
Feverly burning,
Begins to realize that something’s not right.

Teeth and jaws,
Blood and claws,
Unearthly cries and screams.

Sleep is gone,
Something’s wrong,
Nightmares kill all his dreams.

Wide awake,
Starts to shake,
As the reality set itself in,

The nightmares are real,
Real enough to kill,
All because of a life of sin.

Sleep comes like the knife,
Which murdered his wife,
And commended him to a endless nightmare.

If the past could die,
The demons would fly,
But I doubt if the demons would dare.

For here in the pit,
On a throne doth sit,
The nightmare king kills all the hope.

So the sinner sleeps on,
The nightmare grows strong,
And the sinner, he’ll just have to cope...

Friday, April 13, 2012


In an effort to build excitement for the upcoming 2012 cycling season, [the classic Ragnorak 105 commences tomorrow]…The 2011 List-of-Honor, for which many live (and die) to obtain recognition, has been PUBLISHED!!!

Below is the greatly anticipated and long long overdue document:
The List of MOST Honorable & IMPRESSIVE CYCLING EFFORTS of 2011 within the author’s myopic worldview…[I’ve had time to work on it this week as I hurt my lower-back chasing the man-dog last Sunday, thus no Ragnorak for me, so sad…]

Disclaimer: In anticipation of the deluge of criticism the author will inevitably receive from those not selected, their parents, and agents—a quick note on the selection process…In order of importance—Primary factors that influence the selection process are: 1.) the racer’s age; 2.) the racer’s political ideology; 3.) Super PAC funding and special interest affiliations associated with the racer; 4.) the racer’s view on the ObamaCare policy of funding the distribution of a new highly potent strain of EPO to promising young cyclists; 5.) the racer’s stance on creationism versus intelligent design versus evolutionary science, and 6.) the racer’s view on Barack Obama’s "claimed" US citizenship. Also, the List tends to reward longevity in the sport. The fact of the matter is that the longer one stays in the sport the more likely he/she will be drawn into the longer, more obscure events. Veteran riders are drawn to events that provide more race time for the buck and time commitment for obvious reasons. The author was born with very few fast-twitch muscles and with decades of ingesting fermented barley products all those fast-twitch muscles have been converted to very very slow-twitchy muscles.

Important note: If you don't like the List or if you feel like you were left off the List unfairly or unjustly, send the author a case of Bell's Hopslam Ale with a note and he will get back to you ASAP. Chances are that if the author receives the Bell’s product, he will find a spot for you on THE LIST. Otherwise, if you are too young, thatz your fault (under 40). Get older fast…People under 40 are not generally considered because they are just too young. Young people are suppose to be fast and fast guyz that are young are not all that impressive...

Most Impressive Overall 2011 Results: Winners- Jason Buffington wins both the Royal 162 and the Tuscobia 150 and places second in the Arrowhead 135. Jim Bell wins the Almanzo and the Dirty Benjamin…then goes on to win the overall Minnesota Gravel Road Series.

Most Impressive Snow Race Season for 2011: Jeff Oatley wins the Arrowhead in near record time. The last two Arrowheads’ have been dominated by the Alaskans. These guyz are Men…Then Oatley takes 2nd place to the youth, Pete Bassinger at the Alaskan Invitational in a most impressive time of 3 days 6 hours 55 minutes

Most Impressive display of what the Finns call “Sisu.”: Jason Novak stops during the 200 mile Dairyland Dare and provides assistance to a badly injured rider. After getting the fallen rider into an ambulance, Novak jumps back on his ride and finishes the race. “Sisu.”

Most Impressive Gravel Road Race Effort; Winner of the 2010 Trans-Iowa, Dennis Grelk. Grelk is a little young to make the list, but it was such a great effort... Grelk asked permission to ride away and then apologized to the lead group that he was riding with, “Hey guyz do you mind if I up the pace a bit?” The others nodded approval as they quietly wept. Runner up: Tim Ek finishes second even after wet-nursing an old man…amazing!

Most Impressive Multi-day Race Effort
; Winner- Lindsay Gauld in the abbreviated Trans-Wisconsin. The aged iconic Canadian enduro-man was aided by a bar full of motorcycle gangs…

Most Impressive Effort in a Mountain Bike Race under Three hours: 47 yr old all-around-good guy, Scott Cole’s 28th place finish (2:15) in the Chequamegon 40…Huge effort by a guy that just keep putting it out there year after year…a true inspiration.

Most Impressive 12 hour mtb race effort: Tim Ek wins the super hard Underground at the Thunderdown. Probably the most difficult race course in the Midwest.

Most Impressive 24 hour mtb race effort: Ron Stawicki’s amazing effort at the 24 Hours @ 9 Mile. Stawicki continues to be one of the strongest riders in the Midwest.

Most Impressive and Generous Race Director; Winner- Tim Roe for putting on the Tuscobia 150.

Best organized race and coolest race mementos
: Dave and Mary Praman for their outstanding work in the Arrowhead 135. The hats given to each racer were sooo cool.

*Most impressive non-cycling performance of 2011 (sledge-haulers included, runners and triathletes excluded, although an aged elementary teacher from Esko School may one day in the foreseeable future make the list in an effort to sooth his tormented soul, such is the sadness of the long-distance runner, so so sad); Winner- Jeremy Kershaw finishes in second place to the enduro-stud John Storkamp @ the Arrowhead. Storkamp doesn’t make the list cuz hez just too young.

Most Generous Act of 2011: Winner-The generous guy that gave the pathetic old man that finished 4th last April in the Trans-Iowa, a cold beer at the end of the Trans-Iowa.

Best Beer and Pizza Joint for dirty cyclists: Thirsty Pagan in Superior, Wisconsin.

Company most in-tune with the needs of the DBD Adventure Society;
Winner-Brave Soldier Cycling Lube; Runner up-Those little Five Hour Energy Shotz and Nut Goody Bars

Nicest guyz in the snow and gravel pelotons: Winners-Lindsay Gauld, Jim Palmer, Bill Shand, Jim Reed, Ari, the Braun Brothers, Chris Finch, Pat White, John Kurth, Dave Simons, Jason Novak, Dave Gray, Greg Ames, Pat Long, Jason Giddings, Chuck Linder, Nick Wethington, Troy Kruse, Mike Dietzman, Rich Hendricks, Drew Wilson, Tim Andrews, Todd McFadden, Adam Blake, Ben Shockey, John Hatcher, Eric Peterson, Rich Hendricks, Mike Haag, Todd McFadden, Shawn Miller, Ben Doom, Charlie Tri, Dan Dittmer, Rhett Bonner...

Funniest guyz in the Peloton: Winner-Josh Peterson; Runner-up: Hollywood Henderson @ the Dirty Benjamin

Best at articulating the mystery behind finishing the Trans-Iowa: Ben Shockey

Most Controversial Man-servant of 2011: Winner-Andy Lockery’s handling of Mr. Gauld at the AH 135…sets Gauld up for 2012 Alaskan Invitational with faulty equipment?

Good Samaritan Award: Tim Roe’s mother….most nicest folks ever...

Visionary Awards: Guitar Ted of the Trans-Iowa...and Chris Skogen of the Almanzo

Best Bike Shop: The Ski Hut in Duluth, MN...The Epicenter of Cycling...

Most Active "Can-do" Bike Club: COGGS of the Northland.

Most Secretive Cycling Society: The Slender Fungus

Most Covert and Misunderstood Adventure Society: The D.B.D.A.S.

*Note: This secondary award is not entered into the official annuls of the DBDAS History

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"A man must do the crossing alone..."

Just telling it like it is…. That is…trying to get my head right by attempting to deal with some “hard truths” or some “harsh truths” apparent in getting myself to the starting-line of yet another Trans-Iowa (TI) Gravel Road Classic, which is only three weekends away. I am a pretty care-free guy and so nothing much gets to me… but the TI forces even a causal guy to give pause and to seriously contemplate the meaning of ones life….Gettin’ ready for the Trans-Iowa is like trying to pump yourself up for a lengthy (thirty-hours+) visit from the Grand Inquisitor and that infamous “rack” they use to use to stretch the “impious ones” on until they “broke” and admitted to their transgressions. It definitely takes some serious meta-cognition…and perhaps even a little self-deception…Taking a long ride with a motivated guy can help…in a weird kind of way.

Yesterday in a rather impromptu training session arranged the night before at a chance meeting at a local pub. My training partner, Sir Eki, and I rode 140+ miles through some of the best hills Northern Minnesota has to offer. Eki was constantly pushing the pace…basically slowly killing me (think Grand Inquisitor)…Around the 80 or 90 mile mark, that involves a long series of unrelenting climbs, I started to falter and as YOU GUYZ know when a man weakens he begins to languish in his own myopic world of self-pity. Eki slowly-but-surely rode away from me as I desperately did everything to try and hold his wheel, you know the routine; standing on the pedals, frantic dancing on the handlebars, erratic surges, swearing, unsteady line, praying for redemption, head down, then swearing again…but alas I was dropped…left alone to ruminate on my many deficiencies.

As I began the self-loathing that alwayz comes with being dropped… I remembered one of the many great quotes from Shawshenk Redemption—of course in my head it played out as follows: Red sez, “There's a harsh truth to face. No way I'm gonna make the Trans-Iowa. All I do anymore is think of ways to stay away from Iowa…Think of excuses so maybe they'd send me back to Duluth so I don’t have to go to Iowa. Terrible thing, to live in fear. Brooks Hatlen knew it. Knew it all too well. All I want is to be back where things make sense. Where I won't have to be afraid all the time. Only one thing stops me. A promise I made to Eki” Then I thinks to myself as I peer up and see him widening the gap…

“…. Now Eki ain’t even going to Iowa! Hez goin’ to some dumb wedding instead…thatz an even harder or harsher truth for me to deal with. I can’t even find my way from the bathroom to my bedroom, so how in the hell am I ever going make that 320-mile loop? Who is gonna get me back to Grinnell?” Itz a hard truth to bear…but soon the elevation relents and all was good again. Eki sez to me, "What ya thinking about...Ya got real quiet there for sometime when we were climbing and I was puttin' the hurt to ya." I sez, "Oh I didn't notice...Nothing really, thinking 'bout nothin'...just enjoying the day!"

Truth be known: I find solace in reading Lindsay Gauld’s account of this March’s Alaskan Iditarod Invitational in which fifty competitors were dealt some of the worst conditions in the Race’s history (only a small fraction finished the race, I think fifteen or sixteen). Lindsay had to quit the race after walking his bike for over 200 miles, due to severe frost bike…in that event the participants followed a moral code that was expressed in a very simple, but beautifully humanitarian mantra (I paraphrase): “When conditions are good, we race each other; When conditions are bad we help each other.”

I can only hope….and according to Andy Dufense, “…hope is a good thing…maybe the best of things, and a good thing never dies.”

Help me……………

Friday, April 6, 2012

Master's 2012 controversy extends to secretive DBDAS

Politicians Say D.B.D. Adventure Society Should Allow Women To Join

Bipartisan agreement can be rare in Washington, but politicians from both parties are coming out in favor of allowing women to join the all-male DBDAS.

"Don't you think it's time the DBD joined the 21st century - or the 20th - and allowed women members?" Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tweeted Friday.

Republicans candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich also said they believe that women should be allowed to join. Romney said, "My goodness." Santorum was the only dissenting voice, "I dislike women, just think about how Eve messed everything up."

The GOP hopefuls' comments came after the Obama administration addressed the issue Thursday.

"He believes, his personal opinion is, that women should be admitted," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. "We are kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything."

Sir George Mallory, leader of the DBD, was unavailable for comment. However, Loki, a beloved DBD mascot, and noted man-dog, using a sophisicated form of canine-sign language indicated through a series of carefully choreographed pantomines (including several inappropriate gyrations) indicated that the exclusive adventure society had no immediate plans to change their secretive induction process. Note: Most members of the DBDAS are currently deceased.