Monthly Archives: January 2014

New Year’s Resolutions

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I’m not much into making resolutions. I try to live life without resolutions and try to solve issues and make decisions on a daily basis, thus no need for making promises to myself on the first day of the year. But, I’m going to try to come up with a list of things anyway, not necessarily promises, but things I’d like to address or do this year that I think will make my life more significant and happy.

1) Try not to be shallow or have preconceived notions about others.

2) Spend less time on a computer or looking at any screen for that matter.

3) Practice mindfulness: state of active, open attention on the present. I think this applies to above.

4) Race new races and travel to new places to race my bike, even though my results will suffer because of it.

5) Try to read more, books, not online.

6) Make a bucket list. (I doubt I’ll do this one, since I like I said above, I live my life in such a way that I cross things off the “imaginary” bucket list before I know I want to put them there.)

7) Ride my bike or walk more to do errands.

8) Address health issues even if it “interferes” with bike racing.

9) Listen to more music.

10) Sleep more.

Kind of a lame list, but we were out pretty late, well after midnight, snow shoeing at -26 and my mind is running a little slow. Hope you all have a great New Year.

We’ve been doing this at all temperatures. It works best when it is colder, but works about any temperature below freezing. It is so cool, you have to watch it.

Midnight photo on the Hemlock Ridge.  Stacie took photo.

Midnight photo on the Hemlock Ridge. Stacie took photo.

Not really that cold at -26.  I think I'm getting used to the cold.

Not really that cold at -26. I think I’m getting used to the cold.

We saw this wasp net on the New Year's Eve snow shoe.

We saw this wasp net on the New Year’s Eve snow shoe.

Bill, Stacie and Trudi back after 1am.

Bill, Stacie and Trudi back after 1am.

BIll and I suiting up for the midnight snowshoe.

BIll and I suiting up for the midnight snowshoe.

Gotta Get to Some Warmth

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I’m considering bugging out of here early and heading South. The temperatures here are stupid cold and the outlook isn’t looking good. I’ve been waking up with a pretty sore shoulder, so I’ve been snowshoeing a couple times a days for a couple hours each time and not skiing. It’s only a workout when we’re in fresh snow, trailblazing.

Today I’m going to head to Hayward, back to civilization, to get some antifreeze at the Ford dealer. I was driving Stacie back to her condo late on New Year’s Eve/Day, and the heater quit blowing warm-ish air. It was close to -30, so I thought maybe something froze. I was a little stressed. Then it came back on for a couple minutes and was gone again. I thought maybe the waterpump was going. I checked underneath the van yesterday and didn’t see any fluid leaking. Well, that’s a lie. The power steering pump had some power steering fluid drips on it, but that isn’t a big worry. But, I think the antifreeze is really low. Like, low enough it isn’t circulating. It’s either that or the waterpump.

The van hasn’t been losing fluid until I got up here. What I’m thinking the cause is because I’ve had the van plugged in all night. I read somewhere on the internet that other people have had issues with their block heaters and fluid loss. It says that when it is super cold out, the antifreeze is heated up, but the waterpump’s pulley and shaft stays cold, thus the seal doesn’t do its job and fluid gets past it. That seems like a good reason, but I don’t see any antifreeze in the snow. And if I’m right, there is a fair amount of antifreeze missing. I’m hoping to limp back to somewhere warmer, like a heated garage in Topeka, to work on it. If I do that, I’ll probably just fix the power steering pump too. I have to remove the radiator to get to the water pump, so I’d have access to whole front of the engine. I haven’t changed the serpentine belt and done some of the other stuff I’d like to do for awhile.

I got on my bike and rode a mile yesterday. It was -10 or so. My Garmin showed it was above zero, but it just hadn’t cooled off yet. I thought it was important to ride on the first day of the year. It seems like I’m getting a little superstitious as I get older. I wonder why that is.

I need to make some phone calls and get some new components for my road and mountain bike. I know it is late already, or maybe early to some, but it is nice to start off the season all ready to roll. That is one hassle up here. My AT&T cell phone doesn’t work hardly anywhere. I like being out of cell range contact, somewhat, but there are also downsides to that.

Okay, I’m stressing about the van, so I need to get moving and try to figure it out. We’ve got a date to snowshoe out to a marsh this afternoon and see if there is a bear in a den there. I’ll post photos either way. We’ve been out there before. It’s 50/50 chance of habitation. It is equally as cool. You can climb into it and check it out if there is no bear. If there is a bear, well, there is a bear. The den is under a tree and covered with snow, except a very small hole. Inside, it is very clean, no poop, and the tree roots are rubbed smooth. It is awesome. Okay, that’s it for now.

The trails are so frozen hard that you don't even need to use snowshoes where we've been before.

The trails are so frozen hard that you don’t even need to use snowshoes where we’ve been before.

Check out the future forecast.  Burrrrr.

Check out the future forecast. Burrrrr.

Harold Lundgren

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I’ve skied over the high point of the Birkie course 4 times now. I did it again yesterday, instead of snowshoeing out to the bear den. Up at the top, there is a sign and a big rock, that is now, covered with snow. Right here is where I helped spread the ashes of a friend, Harold Lundgren.

Harold was an interesting guy. First and foremost, I think he would like to be called a cyclist. And he was. But he was much more. He was a friend, a farmer, a brother, and just an all around good guy. And by good guy, I mean the type of guy you could depend on for just about anything. He was a guy you would trust your most secret, secret, or your life. He was that kind of guy.

I think of Harold fairly often. I think of him really a lot when I’m up here. The first time I skied on the Birkie course, it was just Harold and I skiing to the high point from OO. Probably the first 10 times I skied on the Birkie course, it was with Harold.

I met Harold while riding for Michael Fatka. He was one of the original Iowa guys riding on the Raleigh team. He was going to Iowa State and into cycling. I didn’t know Harold that well initially. I got to know him better through the years. Harold wasn’t the best athlete, but he had heart. He would suffer like a dog racing, but I never heard him complain once. He loved the sport.

I have a million Harold stories. I could go on for days. Once, he drove the 45 minutes down from Ames to pick me up at the Des Moines airport. When we got back to the shop in Ames, I couldn’t find my DayRunner, an organizer book, sort of equivalent to a cell phone nowadays, I guess. I thought I’d left it at a pay phone at the airport because I’d been making phone calls while waiting for my bike. Anyway, I tell Harold I have to go back to the airport to get it. He says he’ll drive me in the team van that he picked me up in. We get back to the airport and I go to the payphone and it isn’t there. Then I go ask at lost and found and it hasn’t been turned in. I am bummed. I get back to the van and on the floor, under the passenger seat, is my DayRunner. I am so embarrassed. I apologized to Harold, because he had spent and hour and a half to go out of his way driving me roundtrip to the airport for nothing. He is quiet for a second and then proceeds to thank me for letting him drive me. He said that he couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend time, with a friend, just talking. He said it was the best conversation that he could remember having. It was so nice.

Harold had bad frostbite on his face. The first year we skied, people would stop us all the time and tell him that he needed to go inside or go to the hospital. I was used to it by then. His nose and cheeks would turn white everytime we skied below zero, which was often those first years. He had spent a lot of time outside, farming, in the dead of winter, in southern Iowa, along the Missouri border. It was a hard life. A lonely existence, but he loved it too.

After graduating, Harold moved back near home and farmed. He did that for a couple years, then eventually moved up to Ames and started working for a parent seed company. They made hybrid seeds and Harold would travel around the Midwest and plant and tend to them. He never stopped riding his bike, though.

In the early 90’s, Michael Fatka was cross country bike touring. I think he was riding his bike from Oregon back to Iowa, but I’m a little sketchy on that memory. Anyway, Michael was only a few hours from Ames, so Harold decided to ride out to meet him. Harold was riding out west of Ames, on a paved road, when he was struck, broadside, by a car. It was a kid driving on gravel, in high corn. He didn’t see the stop sign, or it was covered up, but for some reason, he went right through it and struck Harold at full speed. It was just bad luck and an accident.

I got a call from Michael that night telling me that Harold had been hit by a car and that he was in the hospital. I told Michael that I was on my way up. He said that no one was allowed to visit other than family and said I should wait a couple days. I thought that sounded okay. I was surprised when Michael called and said Harold had died. I guess he was pretty much dead on impact, but was still alive enough for his family to donate his organs to others. I couldn’t believe it.

A few days/weeks later, his parents and his sister, decided to hold a memorial service at Iowa State. Harold had been cremated, but they thought that it would be nice and expected a couple dozen of his friends to get together to pay their respects. But it wasn’t a few dozen. It was 100’s of people. His first college roommate, just for a semester, flew up from Florida, I think, and told a life changing story that Harold had helped him through. Person after person stood up and all had their own account of a life changing situation that they consulted with Harold and followed his advice. It was unbelievable.

Harold’s sister told about when she became pregnant and had decided to have an abortion. Harold supported her decision, but told her that it was really up to her to decide, not their parents, her friends, or others, to make this all important decision. She, and Harold, decided that it would be best to keep the baby. And that it was the best decision that she had ever made. And this wasn’t even the most moving of the stories.

Harold’s memory service was a reflection of the impact that he had made on others. I have thought from that point on, that someones death, funeral, memorial, really mirrors or shows the importance that they meant to others. I think that many people would live different lives if they had the ability to see their funerals years before they died.

A few months later, I skied my first Birkie. I skied the race wearing Harold’s bib number. The day before the race, five of us, Michael, Trudi, Pete Caron, Paul Biskup and myself, skied up to the high point with a small film canister of some of Harold’s ashes. His parents had given them to Michael and told him that Harold had told them that it was one of “his” places. We were at the top of the high point, a sunset, on freshly groomed corduroy.

Michael opened the canister and poured a small amount of the ashes into each of our hands. It was the only time I’ve ever actually touched human remains. It wasn’t like I had imagined. It was more like course, ground up bone or rock, not dusty ash. I put some between my thumb and forefinger and rubbed it together. I couldn’t really comprehend that this is what became of us.

Each of us said our own little prayer for Harold. I thanked him for being my friend. Maybe my most loyal friend. I skied out of the 3rd wave the next day and qualified for the Elite wave, top 200.

I don’t have a picture of Harold here. I’m sure I have some at home, on film. Maybe someone out there has one that they could send me and I’ll post it.

Harold’s death made me a better person I think. I think I took Harold for granted. I didn’t realize how important he was to me or how special and unique person he was until he wasn’t around any more. It makes me feel bad I didn’t ever tell him how much he meant to me. But, I think it’s okay. Harold was the type of guy that could tell how people felt about him. He was a true friend.

Sunset yesterday from the high point on the Birkie Trail.

Sunset yesterday from the high point on the Birkie Trail.

Looking North, down the trail from the high point.

Looking North, down the trail from the high point.

You can't really see it that well, but over my shoulder, opposite of the sign is a rock covered with snow.  That is what I consider Harold's rock, I put his ashes there.  I have a little personal conversation with him each time I ski over the hill.

You can’t really see it that well, but over my shoulder, opposite of the sign is a rock covered with snow. That is what I consider Harold’s rock, I put his ashes there. I have a little personal conversation with him each time I ski over the hill.

Not Defending Any Jersey

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It is pretty clear, by now, to anyone that comes here, even intermittently , that I’m not racing any cross now. Since the Master’s World Championships is this weekend in Switzerland, I obviously am not going there. The same goes with Nationals in Boulder.

I had planned to race a short cross season. I went out to Southern California and trained for a bit before the UCI races in Louisville, but then was pitiful. Finding out I had shingles, it was a relief. But, I had no idea what it had in store for me. This shingles thing isn’t something predictable. And predictability is something you need in athletics. It has been about 2 months now and my leg is still seized sometimes. Plus, the headaches etc. It’s not nearly as bad as it was a month ago, but it is still something that makes it impossible to train through the winter. I needed a timeout anyway, so I can’t be too disappointed.

I had talked to my friend, Ned Overend, a little about still trying to race the Master’s race in Boulder. I told him I didn’t get very much satisfaction out of it. He agreed. It’s not trying to belittle anyone else, but it is more of a relief than a happiness I feel after the races. I’ve never lost a Master’s Nationals Cyclocross and I’ve had some pretty awful physical days. If I’m riding good, I’d just rather go and see how I stack up against the Elites/Pros.

It is sort of a disappointment I never once raced in the current World Championship jersey I have. I meant to line up in some Master’s race this year, but it just didn’t happen. I wore one for the Nationals Championships, in Madison, last year, so I guess that counts. But, that was last year’s jersey. Whatever.

I’m planning to get out of here and make my way to Boulder. I truly enjoy spectating at cross races. It is a learning experience seeing how different riders take different sections. You don’t get to see that much when you’re out there on the bike. Watching last year at Madison, I loved every minute of it. There were sections of the course where a rider would lose 10-15 seconds in 30 seconds. That would have been more than a minute during the race. They must have been making it up somewhere else. It was a very good learning experience.

Anyway, hopefully this year will work out better. I need to figure out how much energy I can expend at each point during the season now. It doesn’t work all beat up or ill. Historically, I’ve went through these things, it just seems to drag on quite a bit longer the older I get, which is just part of life.

Okay, the guys over at sent me a link to some of their videos from last year’s Worlds. Here’s one below. They have a zillion of videos of cross races, Nationals, Worlds, etc. Click here if you want to check some of them out.

This is pretty much how the jersey sat all year. just hanging up.  I never washed the US National Championship Jersey I wore at Worlds.

This is pretty much how the jersey sat all year. just hanging up. I never washed the US National Championship Jersey I wore at Worlds.

Nationals last year in Madison.

Nationals last year in Madison.

World Cup Cyclocross

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Cyclocross is pretty much only a professional sport in Belgium. And I’m not really sure that you can call a sport a professional sport, that only has 15 paid professionals. (And it’s not fair to compare Formula 1 racing, and such, to it.)

Watching the World Cup race today in Rome, I was amazed about how few people were there to watch. I could have put the race on in a local park in my neighborhood and had more spectators. I think that the World Cup should travel around between countries, but if that is all the people that can entice out to watch in Rome, then the UCI should consider a venue change.

I raced a World Cup MTB race in Rome back in the mid 90’s. There were thousands of people there watching. But, MTB was a much more popular sport back then than cyclocross is now.

I’ve probably been watching too much Belgian TV, where even a local cross race is watched by thousands, but the turnout today in Rome was pitiful by any standard. I have a hard time believing that there even a question about whether they should be a World Cup in the US. We might have not have the finances to put on the race, but I would pretty much guarantee that we would have a minimum of 50 times as many spectators as there were in Rome today.

I know that the UCI, and others, are looking to the US as the next big thing in cyclocross. I very much doubt that will happen. Cyclocross is a participatory sport, not a sport where it is going to have a professional circuit. There are just way too many issues that will keep it, at best, where it is currently at.

The sport has no history here. If MTB racing can’t stay healthy, and it was pretty much started here, then I don’t hold much hope for cross. The country is way too big. Where cyclocross has been popular historically, countries like Switzerland, Holland and Belgium, it is very easy to do a very short drive with all your equipment to compete. That will never be the case here. It makes the costs too much initially for the sport to get a footing.

It was nice seeing Katie Compton beat Marianne Vos again, when Vos has had a little more time to get back up to speed. It’s still close to a month until the Worlds, so I would count Vos out.

Congratulations to Don Myrah and Henry Krammer, who won their respective Master’s events in Switzerland, yesterday and today. It is going to be a long haul back to the US, then race at altitude just a few days later. But, winning in Switzerland is much better than winning in Boulder.

Okay, it is -21 out right now. It is supposed to be -38 tonight, with a high of -11 tomorrow. That is pretty cold. No skiing for sure. Dog walking in the woods might be the outdoor entertainment for the day.

 Photo: Rome World Cup (Balint Hamvas)

Photo: Rome World Cup (Balint Hamvas)

This isn’t this year’s race, but it is about the same amount of spectators there were again in 2014.

Limping South-ish

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Been pretty busy the last couple days waiting out the weather. But, I couldn’t wait long enough. Last night it got to close to -30. The high today is supposed to be -13. I’m thinking/hoping it is a good day to head back to Kansas.

I am pretty positive that I’ve figured out the problem with my van. It is a EGR cooler problem. I wasn’t really familiar with an EGR cooler, but am pretty familiar now. It’s a small radiator type devise that that cools the exhaust gas. It has a small hole in it so when it leaks pressure into the cooling system, it pressurizes it and blows the coolant out the radiator cap, since it only holds 16psi. Anyway, it isn’t a great problem. If it completely fails, then all my coolant is going to go into the cylinders and spit out the exhaust. Needless to say, the van won’t drive very far that way. The is a small chance it could actually be a head gasket, but I’ve pretty much ruled that out. Either way, I’m crossing my fingers it has 700 miles left in it.

I skied 30 km two days ago. It was cold, but slow. We shovelled Dennis’ back porch, which was nearly 4 feet deep with roof snow. Then we installed new lights in the wax/bike room and then some more upstairs in the loft. Bromont is loving it here in the cold. It seems to be no problem for him to do his hour or hour and a half stints in the deep snow, hardly ever sticking to the beaten path. He is a total muscle man now. Plus he’s eating twice his normal amount of food. He has been in heavy training. I’m a little jealous.

Trudi flew out of Duluth on Saturday morning, heading to California for a BMC training camp in Solvang. She flew into San Fransisco to get a team car to drive down. But here luggage never showed. She had to wait until late last night for her bag, so had to drive until the wee hours this morning. What a bad way to start out a hard week of work.

Okay, sorry this is a short one, but I got to get moving. I’m not sure if driving slower is better. Or if driving on pretty much the coldest day of the year is smart. I had thought about driving last night, but when it is this cold, I had no desire to be in a broken down car. I know that big turbo boost is not a good thing. I have a couple gallons of antifreeze, plus a couple more of water. If I go through that much, it is going to be a pretty ugly drive. Wish me luck.

The Namekagon river is still flowing with a week or temperatures way below zero.

The Namekagon river is still flowing with a week or temperatures way below zero.

Dennis' porch before.....

Dennis’ porch before…..

And after.

And after.

New lights in the waxing room.

New lights in the waxing room.

Dennis cleaning up the loft after installing new cannister lights.

Dennis cleaning up the loft after installing new cannister lights.

Trudi getting a little exercise, trail blazing, before she left.

Trudi getting a little exercise, trail blazing, before she left.

Went over to my friend George's property to take a sauna at -15.  This is a little out building he built to retreat to when he needs a little space.

Went over to my friend George’s property to take a sauna at -15. This is a little out building he built to retreat to when he needs a little space.

The sauna is a few hundred meters away.  It is wood heated.  It was super hot, like over 200 degree +++  hot.  It was great going out into the snow after roasting.   It was pretty strange, standing nude in the woods at close to -20 degrees and feeling pretty warm.

The sauna is a few hundred meters away. It is wood heated. It was super hot, like over 200 degree +++ hot. It was great going out into the snow after roasting. It was pretty strange, standing nude in the woods at close to -20 degrees and feeling pretty warm.

Update-One hour in. -24. Full of coolant still.

He’s not stressed the least.

Scarponi Needs to Watch – The Reason they Tell You NEVER to talk to a Cop

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I watched a video the other day from a law professor and also a police officer, saying that under no circumstances, should you open your mouth when being questioned by the police. I wouldn’t have thought that it would be any harm if I had nothing to hide, but now I think I am wrong on that.

Michele Scarponi probably should have watched the video and applied it to the press. I just saw this article over at where the in the interview, Michele can’t really get his story right and contradicts himself. That isn’t a very good thing if he would like the readers to believe what he’s saying.

When repling to questions about using Dr. Michele Ferrair, Lance’s guy, he says“…I only saw him once for a test. To say that I ‘frequented’ him is a bit much. I was given a suspension, I accepted it and basta. It ended there.”

Then just a little later on he says, “You’re still asking these questions and it’s something from the past. I repeat: my story was blown out of proportion and I suffered the consequences. For this reason, I don’t even like talking about it. I saw him once, if that, and I paid for it with a three-month suspension.”

If that? Either it was once or more or not at all. It can’t be once, if that. If that, would mean, he didn’t see him at all. Or just saw him when he was riding by and didn’t have any relationship with him. But he has already admitted to meeting up with Dr. Michele Ferrair, a doctor that had been banned by the Italian Federation since 2002, for a two-day test on the Monzuno climb, near Bologna.

Cyclingnews did go and ask the guy why, after already serving a suspension for blood doping, relating to Dr. Fuentes, would he use Michele Ferrai for anything. His response was, “I understand the question. Do I have to answer this? I’m thinking about how to respond. I never thought that going to see him one time would have brought all of this on top of me. I didn’t think I’d done such a serious thing. Clearly if I could go back, I wouldn’t do it.”

He probably should have asked the first three lines in that paragraph to himself, early on in the interview, and then walked. Or better yet, never do interviews.

Vinokourov, Nibali and Astana threw Scarponi a bone. It’s such a joke. I don’t understand why these guys get their 2nd, 3rd, whatever chances. They aren’t smart enough to quit doping. Or maybe they are and just know that they were super unlucky getting caught in the first place. If you use him as an example, the only way he ever served a timeout was when got nabbed with his doctors. It’s not from testing.

Anyway, I doubt these guys are going to get much smarter and are going to keep doing these interviews, thus piss me off. I don’t think he should be racing at all, let alone finishing 4th in the Giro or riding the Worlds last year. I guess that pisses me off more. The whole thing stinks.