Sunday, September 30, 2007

Forecast, Sept 30, 2007: Moderate to heavy cyclocross conditions all day.We went and had ourselves a genuine 'cross experience today in Orono. After two presoaks and countless rinses, my kit is clean again. I had to hoark the neighbor's garden hose to spray off my steed. I'm still picking grit out of my eyes and ears. I thought Hurl's Slick 50 ride was muddy, but this cross race was amazing. The organizers let the A category go off first. That meant the A's got everything good and greasy for us. They were aided in their cause by Mother Nature who unleashed a moderate shower for most of the hour they were on the course. Once the A race was over I hit the course for one more warm-up lap. By the end of it I was already covered and my bike was caked in sweet, brown goo. Time to line up and get going.

My start was okay. I'm still trying to figure out my best combo of gearing, etc. A lap around the cinder track abruptly ended with a sharp muddy switchback onto a straightaway leading into a sand volleyball court. Hooray! I'm pretty good at riding sand, but it was deep. I rode it on my practice lap and exited the court with a drivetrain that sounded like it was full of gravel. I decided running it was the best option. A couple of long L's across a field led us into a chicane with two 180 degree turns into a set of barriers. On my third lap I thought I'd be smart and show off my stellar ability to ride my bike on the narrow strip of unmolested grass next to the fence and out of the mud. Great idea until my left brake hood caught the fence and down I went. Mud makes such a pleasant crash surface though. A short gravel/dirt road section led into the back side of the course where some of the best mud lay in waiting. One wicked 90, some S turns and a set of doubles were the icing on the mud pie. I did fine with handling but the mud made for fatiguing pedal strokes. Remounting from the doubles in the woods you spit back out on the road headed toward the start finish area. This was the part of the course where I felt I had no punch the entire race. I don't know if there was a wind or I was tired from the mud, but everytime I hit this open section of road I watched the riders I was chasing start to gain distance on me. Back into a field we endured another couple of short, extremely greasy hills. They were rideable most laps but I biffed a couple of times here from spinning out and watched more precious seconds slip away. Into the finish area was the last barrier and a classic run-up about 15 meters long. It was good and rutted and posed a worthy obstacle for many racers. I ended the race feeling pretty good. But I was really pissed at my remounts and clip-ins. I botched and missed so many that I commented to Johnny on the ride home that single factor probably cost me a couple minutes and several places at the finish. (He rubbed it in by saying he didn't miss any remounts. Ass.) Maybe someday I will actually practice a little technique. Lots of folks pay more than a $25 entry fee to get covered in mud. Here's the Fleckster at the finish -- 18th. Dave C took 14th.

While the A race was going on (and the heaviest showers were falling) I was hunkered under the tent at Camp Cory sponsored by Dave and Tom. This meant I missed out on photos of the A guys including my Hubster teammate Joel. I also did not get any shots of Paul since he and I both raced the B's. But there were lots of other interesting characters to photograph.

Two of the most dedicated 'cross fans you'll ever meet -- BLAR and Tom Cory. Thanks for the hand-up, Bill. And, Tom, your diplomatically delivered words of "inspiration" are always appreciated.

A little C race action courtesy of Ben Scherer (left) and Johnny Nebraska as they wade through the sea of mud on the final hill. Q Folks represent! For that matter, I should mention that Andrew Pierre took second in the B race, James Buddenbaum rocked in the B's again this week with a 4th, and Jason Prudhom won the C race.

Ben used his Green Lantern-like speed to pull ahead of Johnny and defy the meager abilities of my camera's shudder.

Johnny wouldn't roll over and die, however. Here he even manages to crack a smile while effortlessly besting this taller-than-average barrier.

I'm bestowing my "Spirit of the Race" Award on ATW Ray. He broke a derailleur hanger last week and couldn't race. This week he hung in there and slogged it out. In this photo he shows off his secret Michael Jordan tongue out technique for mastering the run-ups. The crowd was slim and not very spirited. I appreciated Ray allowing me to give him a push on the last lap -- audience participation Belgian style!

Unfortunately, Ray was picked off by this eager youngster who proved that you don't need a $3000 bike, or even a bike that fits, to race 'cross. The race series almost always incorporates kids' events and it is awesome to see these young racers get as fired up as the adults. The future of the sport is right here ...

Johnny K, my 18th place counterpart in the C division. He's already talking about moving up to B's. Go ahead, "Technique Man" -- let's see how good those remounts really are in a head to head Battle of the Johns.


BLAR (who manages to sneak into an amazing amount of my photos) enjoys the award ceremony with Paul, Ezra and Ezra's daughter. EZ raced the A's and then the B's too, winning the B race on his SS. He is our hope for SS Cross nationals coming up in Portland.

Johnny treated me to lunch at the Highland Grill(there can be only one) after the race. Carrie had just gotten off work and joined us. This photo reveals she obviously sees something in him, 'cause she's lookin' awful hard.

The legs of a champion. Johnny shows off his 'cross tan for the patrons of the grill.

The aftermath of another fine day of cyclocross. Do you even have to wonder why I love this sport so much?!

Friday, September 28, 2007


Traffic laws, like most all laws in practice, are relative. They are completely situationally dependent. I spent some time thinking about this on my ride home last night. What prompted such a random line of thought? Well, it's not so random actually. As a daily commuting cyclist I see motorists and cyclists alike egregiously violating traffic laws all the time. I'm sure many of the decisions I make while riding tick people off too. Last night though I saw a cop roll a stop sign right in front of me where I had the right of way. He didn't stop, slowed a bit, but accelerated right through. No lights or siren and it didn't seem that he was in a rush to get to some crime or accident scene. Now, he didn't come close to impeding me; I didn't even have to touch my brakes. But the issue I have is that he pulled his little stunt (which, as a cop, if he is wont to do he can get away with) in a loaded intersection. At least three other drivers saw him do it.

You don't have to hold a degree in psychology to get where I'm going with this. If the folks empowered to uphold the law break those same laws, what are the witnesses of such behavior bound to take away from the incident? I surmise they will subconsciously reinforce their own rogue beliefs that certain things like a seemingly random stop sign placed at a residential crossroads aren't really necessary to regard. Laziness begets more laziness -- that's the law of inertia. Thanks, Richfield patrol crossing 70th and Thomas yesterday at 4:10pm. I wish I'd have gotten your cruiser number. I hope you saw me give you the 'attaboy' arm gesture and shout 'WTF?!' in the direction of your rearview mirror. Way to lead by example.

Monday, September 24, 2007

CX Kick-off or a Bad B Movie

Yesterday was the Pork Chop Challenge in St Cloud. First B race for me which meant 45 minutes of sweet hell as opposed to the mere 30 minutes of euphoric suffering I became accustomed to last year. Johnny K showed up at 9:30 to ride to the race with us. We loaded up the whole family. To be honest I wasn't feeling much like racing. A ride to Surly to replenish growlers and a birthday party the night before made for a late night. More on that in a later post.

Once we arrived in St Cloud I tried to get into the pre-race routine. My mind and body were not connecting. It was already nearly 80 degrees. Plus, I was completely distraught that I had forgotten my camera. Eventually I managed to register, get my kit on, and hit the course for a practice lap. It seemed I still knew what to do -- stay loose, ride up to the barrier, off at speed, smooth pick-up with the bike, is this going to be a run-up or will I try to remount and ride? Okay, I think I can do this. This was Johnny's first cross race ever and he was running his single speed Peacock Groove. (BTW He's hooked and I hope to race a few more events with him this season. Check out his play-by-play.) I watched him go off with the rest of the C pack. They had a huge field with a lot of familiar faces. I thought to myself that I really ought to be in the C race, but it was too late.

Cyclocross is just so cool. I am not going to attempt to sound anymore intelligent than that at this moment. But racers are going 'round and 'round the course and they are all hurting -- a lot of them really bad like they want to quit. You're shouting for (and at) those you know and ringing the cowbell. Kids play nearby on the playground. A few spectators are sipping beers. The race organizers are grilling awesome food for a potluck style lunch. And then, before you know it, it's your turn to go make it hurt for a while.

I saw a lot of mechanicals including one broken derailleur hanger (that sucks, Ray, but it was pretty impressive looking with your derailleur peacefully nestled inside your spokes!) and a bent chain (that sucks as well, Sean, but that is only the second chain I've ever seen bent into the shape of a DNA helix). My bike did pretty well considering I hadn't ridden it since April in the Oxbow Classic. The seatpost did slip though. It turns out I was riding about 3cm too low. I knew something (besides my entire body) felt weird. And my seat also migrated back on the rails. I was basically racing with a BMX posture, which is oddly funny actually. The course was challenging. I made up positions within the field by running the hills after the two sets of double barriers perched strategically below the steepest hills in the park. Lots of folks were pretty good at remounting and riding the steep sections following the barriers. But a lot of them weren't. I decided it wasn't worth burning out my legs, so I just shouldered my bike and went for it. I passed so many people using this technique that I wanted to pause and give them a lecture on the merits of old school, Euro-style cross techniques. (There's a reason the Belgians are called the "hard men" of 'cross.) I also have a theory that the psychological advantage of running past someone in a bike race really breaks them down -- like a mental frame pump shoved into the spokes of their front wheel. I'm going to work with it and report back.

Hooray for 'cross season -- perhaps the only legitimate segment of the sport where it's not uncommon to show up for the race with a hangover. Thanks, Nacey, for finally making an appearance. Sorry I flipped you off on my third lap. I really appreciated your heckling on the last hill!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chequamegon -- hard to say, fun to ride

Say it with me: "shuh - WAH - ma - gun." There, that wasn't so bad, was it? This was a quick weekend trip. Josh D drove while Bill L and I kept the entertainment flowing in the cab of the truck. We didn't leave Bloomington until about 7:15 which meant for a late night. Bill promised he was going to sleep on the drive, but he never did. (He also shocked both Josh and me with one of the most crass jokes I've heard in a while.) While Bill pretends not to sleep I model my complete assortment of shades designed to cover every possible lighting condition for the weekend.

I think I was finally asleep around 1:30 after a stop for dinner and getting camp set up. Temps plunged all evening to a balmy 25 degrees by morning. I was in heaven wrapped in my down cocoon and I didn't want to crawl out. Josh is under there ... somewhere.

Rise and shine at 6:15 folks! It's time to go race 40 miles on our mtn bikes! Sunrise on a lake en route to Hayward.

I tried my best to motivate but really wasn't feeling it with stiffness, soreness (crash from the 5-0 resulted in a minorly separated shoulder) and a general malaise in my belly. We wouldn't have had to get up so early except with 1700+ people starting the race you want to get your bike situated in the front at the start line if you possibly can. Luckily the sun was out and the temperatures were on their way back up. It would be at least 45 by the start at 10:00am. I realized one big disadvantage of staging your bike for a mass start was not being able to warm up. The roll out from town would have to suffice.

The roll out itself was impressive. The start dips down a hill along Main Street and for as far as one could see in front and behind it was a massive sea of bicycles and riders clamoring for position. I had one gear, what did I care? I decided to spin as much as was comfortable and let the trails sort things out. I am pleased to say that I did pass a lot of folks as soon as we left the pavement. Since the course was mainly cross country ski trails and gravel roads there was plenty of room to pass the geared riders who wanted to 'sit and spin' up every little knoll. At first it was kind of nerve-racking to have so many riders around me. I settled in though and had a nice surprise -- I caught a second wind at about mile 18 and it just kept going. The second half of the race was a blast. I didn't stop once the entire time, I just grabbed cups of Gatorade on the fly at the aid stations.

Pulling into Telemark Lodge I was definitely feeling it. My goal had been sub 3 hours. I was happily surprised to see the big ticker at the finish: 2:59.45 when I rolled under! What about the rest of the day? We hung around the festival and took in the scene. The next mtb craze -- 36er?

I chatted with the rest of my Hub mates for a bit. Their account can be seen and read here. Umm ... overpriced meat snacks ready for the grill.

"I swear, I'm never gonna wash this jersey again," says Josh.

We all met, and some of us harassed, Gary Fisher. I got to hang out with Bill's brother, Grady -- a cool cat from Duluth. (BTW, Grady, plan your beer ride/party and we will come.) On the way back to camp we stopped off at the original Famous Dave's for barbeque. The Pride of Chippewa Falls ... brewed by 73 people who care.

Bill in a food coma. Hot Stuff is right!

After ingesting all this, it was then time for John to crash. I managed to stay awake for the campfire but was out soon there after.
Hey, did anyone pack weenies? Uh, wait, that didn't come out right.
A precise packing job for the drive home.
Another great event. I hesitate to say a "true" mtn bike race ... it was almost like a gravel and dirt road race with a few obstacles. But a blast nonetheless. Definitely worth doing and it would be even more fun in the rain (or snow).


This is old news, but I just heard about it last night from April who knows the wife of the cyclist killed in So Mpls on Wednesday, Sept 12. The victim was Mark Loesch, avid biker and father of four. He was out for a quick ride on a bike he just rebuilt a little after 10pm. It was random violence -- he was beaten to death and left to die in a resident's yard. His bike was not stolen; it wasn't a mugging. Here is the Star Tribune's account.

This is indeed tragic. It is also scary and unbelievable -- it happened within a mile of our place and I know a few dozen other riders who live in the neighborhood. We ride at all hours; many in all kinds of weather. We ride because we love it, because we don't believe in the crutch of the automobile, and we appreciate the efficiency of cycling for urban travel. It sounds like Mark shared some of these same values. There is a memorial fund. Mark leaves behind a wife and four children ages 3-14. Contribute if you can and please spread the word. We cyclists are one big family in many ways, even if those affected aren't part of your crowd or in your scene. Donations may be made to the Mark Loesch Memorial Fund at Associated Bank, 5353 Wayzata Blvd., St. Louis Park, MN 55416.

I rode home from class in St Paul last night, a trek that takes me 14 miles through a variety of neighborhoods across St Paul and Mpls from 9:30 to 10:30pm. I used to not think much of it when I began making the weekly trip about a year and a half ago. By now I've seen enough stuff and heard about enough incidents that I am more wary. When I ride at night I feel I must constantly be on guard, and not simply against vehicles but people who are just up to no good.

There are a couple of issues I ponder: one is proximity and the other vulnerability. The ability for towns and cities to carve a network of bike paths through an urban center is facilitated by abandoned land -- old rail lines, industrial corridors, and otherwise marginalized property zones. These places can provide a relatively quiet, undisturbed area for biking -- during the daylight hours. However, at night many of these areas become hangouts for seedy types and ne'er-do-wells. These places were their haunts before the trail was paved and little has changed including police presence (or the lack thereof). Last week's ride from St Paul produced a surprise on the Midtown Greenway (an east-west "bike freeway" that provides the most efficient means for scooting right across Mpls south of downtown). I rounded a bend to see a woman with a Burley attached to her bike stopped at a blue phone. I pulled over to see what was up. A group of 20-24 kids of various ages had prompted her internal shit detector to say "turn around." The kids were congregated on the path at 13th Ave blocking progress. The police were on their way, so we proceeded. As we approached the throng I wondered what I would have done. My philosophy of night time riding is that speed is safety. Get by questionable folks quickly without them even having the chance to know I'm there until I am well past them. A group this size would have necessitated slowing or taking a different route altogether. We rode toward them and a police cruiser came at them from the opposite direction. The kids dispersed up the ramp toward the street above. Several of them stopped partway up. They formed a line and started chanting a rap line that was written and popularized well before any of them were born: "Fuck the police, fuck the police ..." over and over. most of the kids looked to be between 6 and 10 years old. I was happy to ride past the madness.

The woman with me was blown away. She said she rides the Greenway all the time at night and thought it to be totally safe. She was on the small side, bedecked in stylishly retro duds and horned rim glasses. Her aging cruiser had a flowery basket attached to the front and in her Burley was a large and very docile dog. She could pedal little faster than 8mph. As we chatted I tried my best not to scare her, but I definitely told her accounts of the random violence friends had encountered on the Greenway. She said she'd be more cautious. All of this is not to say the kids were ill-intentioned. They struck me mostly as young punks blowing off some steam in the only secluded place they knew of nearby. But you never know.

That leads me to my second point -- vulnerability. Cyclists are A) more vulnerable without a skin of steel, glass, and plastic surrounding them and B) perceived as more vulnerable by drivers and thugs. As cyclists we can take steps to minimize the first issue by riding smart. If you know what this means, then you know what it means. Sadly, many riders haven't a clue. Smart riding will also take you a long way toward combatting the risks of perceived vulnerability. The problem is those who perceive cyclists as vulnerable run the gambit from relatively benign horn-happy drivers to bonafide felons and murderers (some of whom have drivers' licenses). Be smart folks. Open up your eyes and practice watching your own back. Notice details, study shadows. If something ain't right, alter your route. Spread the word. Report incidents. Most importantly, keep riding and stay safe.

Friday, September 14, 2007

NYC Style

Minneapolis suffers a bit from being perhaps one of the most "un-cosmopolitan" major metropolitan cities in the U.S. We might be dwarfed by the glitz of New York, the prestige of San Fran, LA, etc. Maybe that helps explain what happened at Critical Mass on Friday, August 31st when MPD appears to have taken a page out of the NYPD playbook. I wasn't there -- I'll throw that out as a disclaimer up front. I'll also admit that I've only ridden a handful of Masses. It's mainly an issue of scheduling; I just can't get to the rendezvous point at rush hour. C'est la vie. However, I'd also be doing myself and anyone reading my petty commentary a disservice if I also did not admit that I am still divided about the tactics of C.M. The point is valid. I get it and couldn't agree more -- C.M. is a way for cyclists to get out front and be seen, to make a bold statement: "We're traffic, dammit! Recognize us." And while some may disagree, it is a totally peaceful demonstration. Well, except for the occasional belligerent motorist who guns it down the opposite lane to pass the group. And, oh yeah, until cops step in with tasers and mace.

Enter Exhibit A: Vicious Cycle A tasty nugget courtesy of City Pages. Enjoy, or better yet, get enraged. Channel that rage constructively, grasshopper. It's a mad world folks, when a peaceful group of bikers need to be tailed by state patrol officers and a helicopter; insulted with sexist, demeaning comments; and assaulted with pepper spray and tasers.

Let's end on a happy note with a short quote I ripped off someone's email signature:
“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.”
Sloan Wilson

Here, here. Have a great weekend. I'll be pedaling in northern 'Sconnie.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Patriot Day

A beautiful morning -- mid 50s and clear with a cool wind out of the northwest. We've had a quick weather change that has left me scrambling for the right layering combination for the commute. Tonight it is supposed to plunge into the 40s. All this wonderful fall weather is just in time for -- you guessed it -- 'cross season! A week and a half to the first event.

This weekend is Chequamegon. I know, I haven't even put up a post from the Dakota 5-0 yet. It's a massive undertaking and it is in progress. But with four days of history and 190 photos to sort through you gotta cut me some slack.

Remember, today is Patriot Day. Do you recall where you were 6 years ago today? I do. I also know that a lot has changed -- my last name, my family status, and two jobs (among other things) -- in those 6 years. I'll spare a political rant and avoid mentioning what has, or hasn't, changed in our country. Instead, ponder a question Sean Burns might ask:

Proper or Improper logo placement?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Hey you, biker dude without lights ...

... or a shred of bright/reflective clothing. Yeah, you, the one who almost hit me last night while you rode southbound through the crosswalk at Snelling and Summit in the City of Saints. That was me with the two taillights, a front flasher and a 12W headlight. I'm sure you saw me. I have a message for you: Get a clue. Two problems: 1) You need to ride your flippin' bike in the street. You're sending a bad message to motorists and making life harder for the rest of us who would like to be legally recognized for rightfully claiming a tiny strip of the lane. 2) I rode 53 miles of crowded bike path and busy city streets yesterday and you posed more of a safety hazard to me than any car I encountered. Lights aren't just for your safety, dimwit; they alert others that your lame ass is approaching. Perhaps you are trying to fly under the radar, you think there is safety in not being noticed. Well, live proud, brother -- join the LED revolution. And please spread the word among all your friends who are also future nominees for the Darwin Awards. All of you non-illuminated two-wheeled brothers and sisters have it half right -- at least you're not reinforcing your ignorance behind the wheel of a car. But let's step it up folks -- ride your happy asses down to your LBS and spend $10 on a couple trinkets that will surely save your bacon a hundred times over.

A Dorked Out Reflecto-Fluorescent-LED Bike Crank

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Dakota Five-O(ww)!

The eagerly anticipated account of the Dakota 5-0!! Uncensored and uncut! Check out all the photos here if you're too lazy to read my blog post.
Nothing could have prepared me for the epic I chose to undertake by signing on for the Dakota 5-0. People have asked me, "How was the race?" I stumble in reply. How can I possibly answer this question with a one or two sentence reply? It was so much more than a bike race. If you want the full story (which you probably don't), you're going to have to bait me with a 6-pack and a comfy chair. Until then, settle for this medi-okra blahg post. Our group of 14 trickled into One on One bikes the morning of Friday, August 31. Geno had rented two vans and we were still waiting for him to return from the rental place. April and Sylvia drove me down with bike and two gear bags, so I got to enjoy breakie and a bevvy with my ladies before departure. Our group settled rather easily into two vans. One had 5 folks and all the bikes; the other had 9 folks and all the gear. Both vans had coolers. (And, not to worry, we designated drivers.)

I knew a lot of the folks in our group well, was acquainted with several, and a few I did not know at all. By the end of the weekend I knew everyone better, and a couple people maybe a little too well! The drive was uneventful except for the ramifications of a group lunch at Taco John's. Eager to emerge from the vans, we rolled into Spearfish around 10pm and headed straight for a restaurant for some grub. Then it was on to Perry Jewett's house to set up camp. The Jewetts were good sports and incredibly generous. Apparently the Mpls Mafia has been camping on their lawn every year for some time now. I was grateful to be allowed to hang with the group, as I was a 5-0 virgin (and should have been banished to the dark loneliness of the city campground). Instead, I was able to document the madness of the front yard.

After dinner the first night, we headed to one of the local watering holes, Horses to Harleys. (I guess bikes fall somewhere in between.) The locals were all pretty friendly and the ladies all seemed to dig a new guy in town who wears a kilt. Sorry, ladies, I only came to town for two reasons: to drink beer and ride. At the bar I ran into Sean-O and rekindled my long lost Hub team connections. Turns out Joel and Clayton were also in town for the race. While at the bar Brauer and I did a little bonding as well. Last call in Spearfish is 1:00am. That seemed too early, so I fell in with two local guys, Ben and Gus for another beer up the hill at their place. I crawled into the tent sometime after 3 wondering what kind of craziness the day before the race would bring. Fortunately for me, no one in our group was too eager to get an early start. Eventually a decision was made to shuttle a group up to Hobo Camp to pedal the last 5 miles or so of the course. Bikes and riders were piled into the van and we followed Nate and Mike up the mountain. After a few wrong turns we parked and unloaded to begin the ride down. It started with a fire road descent and abruptly turned right onto a gruesome climb. Off the bike and walking, I began to recount all the beers of the night before. Once on top we began the next descent, a ripping, sandy downhill. I walked part of it -- no shame here. Beyond the steepest part still lay a couple miles of excellent downhill double track. A mile of fire road climbing took us back into the singletrack. I was having a blast even though I am far from a seasoned mtn biker and couldn't believe how technical a lot of the course was. All went well until I had a momentary lapse in attention on some off camber narrow track and lost my front wheel. Oww. Mental note to self: remember this section for the race. At least I got my crash out of the way early. I caught up with the others and limped it back into town. The downhill into Spearfish was a blast -- coasting at 30+ mph with the entire town of Spearfish and mountains beyond spread before my handlebars. Back at camp the mood was light. I scrubbed the gravel and dirt out of my already crusted wounds and changed clothes. A painkiller from Wheels and a beer helped me out quite a bit. The fashion show began after Kelly returned from the thrift store. We got a surprise visit from Keith K and later Katy K and Katie C. It was nice to see some more friendly faces. Meanwhile, Geno was still building out his race ride. Later I cruised the city campground alone and took it all in. The river running through Spearfish is colder than the Budweiser at Sturgis. That would come in handy following the race.
Soon we were off to race registration and then to get some dinner.
Hollywood is calm and collected. So is Gene ...
We had dinner at Roma's. It was a swanky place. I don't think we ate any bad food in Spearfish and Roma's upheld the standard. Everywhere we went, bike art seemed to follow. A 7:20 staging time seemed brutally early. It was chilly, but the day promised to be quite warm. My whole body ached from my crash and sleeping on a semi-flat Thermarest. I knew I just needed to warm up. That would happen soon enough with the long climb out of Spearfish. The starting area was festive. Some riders got more dressed up than others.
Yep, he found it at the thrift store.
Mr Burns rode the entire race -- 95 degree temps and all -- in this outfit, on a single speed, and still kicked my arse.
How and what was the race? Well, I was struck by Hollywood's take the day before -- he said it would be a vision quest. I liked that analogy and stuck with it. A vision quest it was, for me anyway. The course is not for the light-hearted. It beats and whips and submits you until you want to cry daddy, uncle and a few distant relatives combined. I won't elaborate too much, but for a mtn greenhorn like myself, it was a very beautifully humbling experience. The trail was pleasantly technical, but fast and exhilirating. Some of the views were nothing short of amazing. I am not ashamed to admit I stopped to take some photos. I'm glad I did. This was a trail I felt sad to be "racing" through. It made me want to park my bike and hike off along the cliffs, explore the little valleys -- in other words, stay a little while.About mile 30 I started to get a full-0n endorphin buzz. This lasted the entire rest of the race and for about two hours afterward. I rode the last ten miles virtually alone. Luckily, aid stop #4 girl was there to make sure none of us sailed too far on our Rocky Mountain High. I kept looking for the spot where I had wiped the day before. I thought I found it three or four times, but before I knew it I popped out on the descent and was flying back into the city. On the last hill I punched it and took a couple riders. All day I had been thinking about what a fool I was to sit behind geared riders who would spin their legs off rather than carry momentum and power through a climb. That caused me to lose valuable momentum and I learned a valuable lesson in return.

During the race, I hiked up a couple of hills with a girl from Colorado riding a rigid 1x1. (She was dusting my ass on the downhills BTW.) She told me a friend of hers had done the race the year before and he'd cried when he finished. The last couple miles of the race brought tears to my eyes. I don't know why exactly, but the sight of the town and the effort of it all really broke me down. I sobbed on my bike while coasting the gravel road into Spearfish. It's not that I was worn out and ready to stop, in some bizarre way I think I didn't want it to end. But it did. Six hours of pure focus, wonderful alone time were gone. Before I knew it I was re-entering the city park and Katy and Katie were there with cameras in hand catching me at the finish. I just remember thinking, "I want nothing more than to hug one of them and cry like a baby for a few minutes. Then, I'll be okay." I didn't get the chance. That's probably for the best.
More shenanigans ensued while we watched the kids races and the awards ceremony. Things were a blur for a couple of hours. We eventually regrouped and headed to dinner at the Chop House. Quite the scene. At least they had valet parking. I haven't had a woman look up my kilt since the Pittsburgh Irish Festival a couple years ago. These race volunteers were none too shy. I talked them out of demanding I do a table dance.
Group photo!
We made it home sans lights. And not long afterward my lights were out. It had been a long day. Zeigle had certainly worked hard to earn his steak dinner. (Note to self: never make a bet with Zeigle.)
The next morning (Labor Day) it was time to pack up. We had a little more room in our van thanks to some creative seat arrangement. The drive back meant a stop in Luverne where Geno's in-laws and Jennifer had assembled a feast for us. A big thanks all around for an awesome end to the trip. The rest of the pull into Mpls was my job. The bugs at dusk in southern MN were so thick that they covered our windshield in gut-filled raindrops. We rolled in around midnight, unloaded at Hollywood's, and slithered away to our private cracks and crevices none to eager to begin a week of responsible living after a kick-ass long weekend of stellar mtn biking.
My goal was sub-6 hours. I would have hit it had I not stopped to take photos. I rolled in at 6:17. Next time I'll leave the camera in my pack and choose more wisely when I lay down a steak dinner bet.