Monthly Archives: December 2014

MSP Road Trip

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Yesterday we all loaded up and did the 3 hour drive to Minneapolis for a road trip.  We had planned on taking Keith and Catherine to the airport, but at about 1 am, after a few glasses of wine, they decided to change their tickets to fly back to Seattle on New Year’s Day.  But, Dennis and I had already made appointments, so we loaded up and did the drive.

Dennis had to drop his Audi off to get an oil change and his serpentine belt replaced, then we headed over towards Bloomington.  Dennis needed to stop at Ikea and get a screw for a cabinet drawer.  I was thinking about getting a new cell plan, either at the Apple store or Verizon, but that didn’t materialize.  But, I needed to go back up to St. Paul and check out Pat and Gwen’s bathroom.

We did the loop and got back up to check out the bathroom by 6 pm.  They live above Grand Performance bikeshop and have a pretty sweet setup going.  They had just returned from a two day trip to Florida, for a triathlon camp, and were heading to Australia for 3 months today.  So, they aren’t going to be back to the US for months, like 6 or 8.  So Gwen was a little frazzled trying to collect all the stuff she needs for her whole season.  I learned something about her.  She was timing the packing on a stop watch on her iPhone.  She had been at it 2 hours and 13 minutes when we showed up.

The bathroom should be pretty easy to do.  Get rid of the junky plastic bath/shower wall and tile, plus a few other things.  I have a while to complete it, so it should be fun.

We didn’t get back up to Cable until after 10.  The drive is a bit too long for just a day trip, really.  6 hours of driving takes a chunk of the day.  Plus, we haven’t really been up here long enough to go completely stir crazy.  It was fun just hanging though.

It is supposed to get warmer today, in the mid-teens.  We’re going to ski some, maybe snowshoe out to a bear den, take a wood-fired sauna and then do a progressive dinner.  Last year it was -30 something when at the start of the new year.  It is going to be much warmer this year.

So, this is the last post of 2014.  This year was a little trying for me, but I’m not complaining.  I had a pretty good year in reality.  Things could have went way worse.  Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Gwen modeling in front of the future bathroom remodel.

Gwen modeling in front of the future bathroom remodel.

And she gave out parting gifts as we left.

And she gave out parting gifts as we left.

Two bikes for Pat, one for Gwen.

Two bikes for Pat, one for Gwen.

The Mall of America was jammed.  This Build-A-Bear place had a super long line.  I would like to build a bear there, it looks fun.

The Mall of America was jammed. This Build-A-Bear place had a super long line. I would like to build a bear there, it looks fun.

Catherine was a bit under the weather the whole day and this was her whole mall experience pretty much.

Catherine was a bit under the weather the whole day and this was her whole mall experience pretty much.

Mall of America group shot.

Mall of America group sho

-15 Degrees / Can you say Exercise Induced Asthma

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Yesterday was pretty cold.  Like nearly all day below zero.  It was -15 when we finally went to bed last night.  We kind of just hung out most of the day, but couldn’t stand it after a while and decided to go ski under the lights at around 5 pm, which was after dark.  We drove over to OO where there is a 4 km loop lite.

Bill, Catherine and I got all dressed and took the plunge.  It was below zero and a pretty big reality check the first couple kilometers.   It is so strange how your hand and face can be so, so cold, like enough that you are almost panicking to get back to warmth, then all of a sudden, something like a switch clicks and you get blood flow and it is better.

Bill did say that the tip of my nose was turning a little white after the first lap.  I just covered it up with my glove and breathed into my palm and it cleared up.  I had my face covered with Vaseline, which is usually enough to stop that.

Anyway, breathing air at those temperatures is alittle tricky.  I don’t think I have much of a problem of exerciese induced asthma, other than I’ve went to at least two doctors that have done tests and say that I do “suffer” from it.   I remember that when the Olympics was in Sarajevo, I heard that something like 80% of the athletes were using albuterol, which I thought was absurd.

Then this study from a doctor in England said that 70% of the swimmers he tested had exercised induced asthma and that 33% of the riders of Team Sky Professional Cycling Team did too.  That is compared to 8-10% of the normal population.

I can understand the swimmers and the chlorine in the air messing with lung function.  I don’t like that myself, so it seems right.  I’m not sure about the cyclists.  It seems like we, as cyclists, get outside and breathe pretty good air most of the time.  At least that is my goal.  Of course there are many times that the air isn’t so great.

I’d say the worst air I’ve ever raced in was in Shanghai China.  At the end of the first stage of a 5 day race I did in China, I was curled up in a little ball, coughing and generally in enormous pain from lack of oxygen.  But that was something that everyone experienced, but maybe not to my extent.

Anyway, I wonder if the doctor did a bigger study, with more sports involved, what the difference would be percentage-wise.  Because it’s 2X as many swimmers, percentage, than cyclists having the issue.  And if winter sports, such as crosscountry skiing, have an 80% rate, then it has to have something to do with air the cold temperatures.

Anyway, I don’t plan to ski much today either, with the high barely cracking positives.  We heading to Minneapolis for a little road trip.  I’m going by to visit Pat and Gwen to look at renovating their bathroom while their in Australia or Spain or whatever.   Dennis has to get his Audi wagon serviced and wants to go by Ikea and get a couple screws from something.

world-asthma-day-2

 

Imaginary Lines

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Molly O. has a track on her new album called Imaginary Lines and while I’ve been skiing I’ve had plenty of time to think about how we all restrict our potentials by making arbitrary decisions or restrictions on what we think we can, and thus, will do.

What initially got me thinking about this was while I was skiing I ran into a friend who said he pretty much quit riding, and for sure, racing because he crashed hard over the summer.  He was knocked out for around 5 minutes and had a neck injury that kept him out of work for 5 weeks.  Fortunately, he is fine now.

He was saying he was envious about how resilient I seemed to be and was very complimentary on that subject.  Anyway, I told him that I didn’t really feel that resilient nowadays, but I’ve experienced enough to understand that that being hurt is part of sports.  And especially cycling.

I do understand his decision, but thought about it for a day or two now and have to disagree with it.  I’ve been hurt a bunch, obviously, though out the years.  I definitely don’t heal as quickly as I used to, but I can’t let that stop me from doing the things in life that I feel are important and rewarding.

I got to thinking back through my life and thought that I’ve been hurt pretty substantially multiple times.  I broke my collarbone the first time I left the state and went up to Superweek to race, when I was 14.  I was so green that I drove back to Kansas, saw an orthopedic surgeon and then drove straight back up and raced Nationals the next week.

When I was 25, I collided into a car at 100km/hr and broke just about everything, plus was knocked out for a couple hours.  All I could think about was if I could recover in 10 weeks, in time to race the Coor’s Classic in August.

And it just kept going every few years.  If I would have let the initial big crash/concussion draw that imaginary line, then I would have missed hundred of thousands of experiences.  Many that there would be no way I could have experienced through any other avenue.

And these lines we draw or restrict ourselves by, doesn’t always only occur in sports.  We do it in all aspects of our lives.  I run into people all them time that have hardly ever travelled 100 miles from where they live.  I ask them about if they’ve ever been to California, or Europe and they say, “Oh, no. I can’t imagine doing that.”

It doesn’t even cross their minds the options they have just there, right in front of them, waiting to be experienced.  And we all do it.  We limit our options and experiences by these imaginary, completely made up pre-concieved notions, that don’t have any base of accuracy, because we have no experience, so essentially we are ignorant.

When great things happen, either personally, or on a bigger society basis, it is usually done when we’ve stepped over our hypothetical, imaginary lines and allowed these things to happen.  So next time you’re uncertain, maybe just take the plunge, and see where it takes you.

 

Track 8 is Imaginary Lines, but the whole album is great.

 

 

 

 

IMG_4850.JPG

50+ mile Ski / Double Birkie

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Okay, I’ll state it right up front, I’m racked.  Not as badly as I could be, but for sure, racked.  Yesterday was the probably the hardest Double Birkie I‘ve done, and I’ve done a few.  The main issue was that it snowed somewhere between 4 and 6 inches super early morning, after they had groomed.  So there was a semi-deep layer of snow covering the whole trail, which made it nearly bushwhacking most of the day.

I’m not really sure how many people started down at Fish Hatchery at 8 am.  It seemed around 30 people for the photo, but I think some guys had already left and a few were late and started behind us.  Normally a bunch of people start at OO and ski south, but pretty much no one did that because it was groomed a bit at OO and then it abruptly stopped about 3 km south.

There were a bunch of “real” skiers doing it.  Brian Gregg and Adam Swank, but luckily I didn’t really ski with them.  I skied most of the way up to OO with Bryan Fish, US Ski Team Developement Coach.  He was back here on a holiday break and it was nice he could get a long ski in.

Anyway, it stayed pretty tame and I got up to OO, about 20 km in, okay.  Okay, meaning pretty tired, but not destroyed.  The next 20 km didn’t go so well.  It was groomed, sort of, up to Boedecker, worse again.  I was getting tired by then and not picking my skis up enough, so was tripping more.   I was tripping more going downhill too.  I fell 3 times, once really augering face first into the snow.  All the way down to the grass.  That was the my biggest issue for the rest of the day.  I hurt my neck and shoulder.

Up at the North End they had soup and cookies.  I ate a bowl of soup, ate some cookies, drank a coke and headed back south.  I really didn’t have any desire to ski any more.  I’d already been out nearly 4 hours and was pretty tired.  But, it was the principal of the whole thing.  You can’t go quitting things because you are just tired and it’s not much fun.

I didn’t have anyone to ski with on the way back, so I stopped and put in earbuds.  So, I was listening to music most the way back to OO.  Luckily, my dentist friend from Winona, MN, David Gilmer, was skiing up north from OO and met me.  We skied about 10 km together and the trail got pretty good, at least compared to the rest, back at Boedecker.

David turned back around at OO to ski back north again to meet his wife and I just kept going south.  I had 20 more kms left.  I felt pretty good right then, but that didn’t last long.  Just where the lights stop, it got deep, the snow that is.  And the snow stayed deep all the way back.  I was pretty much doing single stick up all the hills.  My lower back was getting pretty tweaked by this point, probably from lifting my legs so high to clear the fresh snow.

At Mosquito Brook about 5 km from the car, I ran into a Birkie board member, I think John Garrett.  He ski with me back to Bitch Hill.  I told him I wasn’t too happy with the grooming, as did a couple mother’s that were waiting from their kids that were skiing down from the North End.  He said he would hear about “what happened” later that day.  I think what happened is that they just didn’t groom the trail after it snowed.   I know there are reasons for this, but it is probably the biggest weekend of the year up here, after the Birkie weekend itself, so it would be good time to show case, maybe the best ski trail in the world.  It wasn’t a good showing in that regard.

Anyway, I pretty much walked up Bitch Hill.  There were only a couple ski tracks in the snow going up.  I got back to the car with plenty of light to spare, which was nice.  I think it was around 82 km, which is a little over 51 miles.  Pretty far and pretty long to stand up.  I have to be pretty stoked that my hip was good.

I drove back into Hayward and got a large hot coffee.  It was great.   Then back to Dennis’, showered and headed to the Rivers Eatery for dinner.  Mick had a bunch of “test wines” that he just sat at our table.  Like one bottle per person.  It got a little ugly, but not stupid ugly.  Stacie, my orthopedic surgeon friend from Louisville, came over to chat.  We stayed pretty late at Mick’s.

Stacie had given us some Christmas presents, plus we had some presents for the Walberg’s and Bill.  We opened them at Dennis’.  I got some good stuff.  Stacie gave me a Lululemon shirt and hat.  Keith and Catherine gave me 3 Ralpha base layers tops.  Pretty great.

Dennis went to bed and we went back to the Kansas garage.  My right foot had been throbbing and two of my toenails turned black.  The problem was that I over tightened my ski boot and my foot got cold, so I loosened it up about an hour out, too much and my foot got sloppy in the boot.  I never considered that my toes were jamming up to the front of the boot.

So, I needed to relieve the pressure.  Luckily, the blood was all the way to the top of the nail, so all I needed to do was stick a needle under the toenail and a geyser of blood came out of each.  The pain instantly was gone.

I slept pretty great and, but am pretty tweaked.  Mainly  my neck and shoulder from falling.  Plus, my toes are super tender.  I’m not so sure about skiing much today.  Everyone here is itching to get out, so I’ll probably tag  along.   I’d really like to just go out and ride Fat Bikes, but I haven’t arranged one, as of now.

Okay, everyone is getting antsy, so I’d better try to catch up.

PS – The best line of the day.  Bill and I had skied, maybe 30 seconds, out of a potential 8 hours, and Bill says “Man, my shins hurt.”

I like the look of guys skiing in line.

I like the look of guys skiing in line.

The bike shops were doing a Fatbike demo at OO.

The bike shops were doing a Fatbike demo at OO.

Portrait at the high point.

Portrait at the high point.

Other side of the high point.  I spread the ashes of my friend Harold here, back in the 90's so I always have a little private conversation with him as I ski by.  Now there is a MTB singletrack coming right by the rock, so I come back here way more often.

Other side of the high point. I spread the ashes of my friend Harold here, back in the 90’s so I always have a little private conversation with him as I ski by. Now there is a MTB singletrack coming right by the rock, so I come back here way more often.

 

 

Double Birkie Day

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By the time most of you are reading this I most likely will be skiing.  Or maybe not if you’re on the east coast.  I think the Double today is going to be around 80 km, both directions of the Birkie Ski race.  I stopped on the way up, right after dark and skied a lap under the lights.  I really didn’t have much pain at all in my hip, so I’m going down to the start with the intention of skiing the whole day.

We got up here in time to have nice dinner at the Rivers Eatery.  There were a bunch of friends from all over the country having dinner, so it felt familiar.  Most these guys I’ve raced bikes with, but a few I’ve only met through skiing.  It really doesn’t matter, we’re all one now.

I didn’t wax my skis.  I hardly ever do.  They are a bit white on the edges, but the chances of me making them any faster by applying wax is questionable.  I’m just going to go with what’s on them, which I have no idea.  It is supposed to snow around three inches tonight, but maybe Chris Campbell might be out late grooming, so there is a chance the trail will be corduroy.  If not, it will just be more stable for a ski hack like me.

Okay, probably need to get dressed and moving.  It is so hard to dress from an activity in the cold when you haven’t been doing it for awhile.  Layers is the key I guess.  It supposed to be in the low 20’s so pretty warm for skiing.  Should be nice.

Bill and Catherine decided to wax late last night.  Catherine here is looking like a waxing terrorist.  Her thought was the towel would protect her lungs from the smoke from the wax.  I didn't think so.

Bill and Catherine decided to wax late last night. Catherine here is looking like a waxing terrorist. Her thought was the towel would protect her lungs from the smoke from the wax. I didn’t think so.

I guess Sram is moving offices and they had this sitting around and gave it to Pete Caron to bring up to us.  That is me a while ago.

I guess Sram is moving offices and they had this sitting around and gave it to Pete Caron to bring up to us. That is me a while ago.

 

I got behind the truck that was applying this brine liquid to the road.  I've never seen the actual truck before.  I heard they were using the liquid from making cheese, but I can't confirm that is the case.

I got behind the truck that was applying this brine liquid to the road. I’ve never seen the actual truck before. I heard they were using the liquid from making cheese, but I can’t confirm that is the case.

Here is the truck with the liquid.

Here is the truck with the liquid.

 

Boxing Day / Double Birkie

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Hi.  Hope everyone had a great day yesterday.  It’s nice that Christmas was on Thursday, so most people get today off, then the weekend.  Makes for a nice 4 day holiday.  I’m on the move, heading up to Cable from Chicago today.  It’s about 7 hours, not bad.  Trudi’s nephew, Parker, is going up to hang with us in the Northwoods until after New Years.  He’s never Nordic skied, snowshoed and such, so it should be fun for him. He’s a good snowboarder, so he should be fine.

Tomorrow is the Double Birkie ski.  It starts at the Fish Hatchery and the skies up to the North End Trail Cabin and back.  I think it is around 80/90 km now, but that might be wrong.  Every, and anyone is invited.  Heather from the Brickhouse is going to have a lunch of sandwiches and soup at the North End, so it will be a nice break.

The Double Birkie started a long time ago, when Greg LeMond was winning the Tour.  He, Tom Schuler and a bunch of bike racers that skied over the winter, started doing it and it had been ongoing ever since.  Greg hasn’t done it in a long time, but Tom, Jeff Bradley and now, a bunch of new guys have kept the tradition alive.  Not everyone skies the whole distance.  Guys start at OO or the North End and ski down to meet the group coming North.  It is a great day.

I have no idea if I’ll even be able to ski.  I have a big problem putting on my jeans.  But, I’m going to try to get out, under the lights, at OO and see if I have the ability before tomorrow.  Anyway, if you want to come, here is a little more information.

We’re meeting our gang from Kansas.  Bill is driving Keith and Catherine Walberg up today.  They came back to Kansas for Christmas and now are going to make the annual pilgrimage up to Cable.   Plus, Stacie from Louisville and her family are heading up later today too.  It’s a long drive from Louisville too, so they won’t get there until late.  She is working today.

Yesterday, was good here.  I got to go out and ride for 2 1/2 hours.  I met up with a guy really close to Mt. Prospect and ended up riding with him and his friend the whole time.  His name was Teddy K. a guy originally from Bulgaria, now here.  They were friends from when Teddy first came to the US, way back and now they both race bikes.  Pretty great they can get together on Christmas for a bike ride.  And super nice that I got to tag along.  It made my day.

Did you see the World Cup cyclocross today?  The woman’s race was pretty great.  The men’s was kind of not the last half.   It is so strange that cyclocross Nationals are going to be in Austin in just a couple weeks.  I’m so far removed from the sport that I am almost embarrassed.  It will be good going down there and seeing everyone though.

Okay, wish me luck trying to ski tonight.  I think I’m gonna need it.  I’m kind of wondering if it goes just okay, should I try to ski for 7 + hours tomorrow.  Probably.

 

"My group" for a Christmas ride.

“My group” for a Christmas ride.

Dinner last night at Trudi's brother's house was a feast.

Dinner last night at Trudi’s brother’s house was a feast.

 

Nice accent for the holidays.  I like that movie, but  Jimmy Mac really loves it.

Nice accent for the holidays. I like that movie, but Jimmy Mac really loves it.

 

Bromont was pretty done before 10 last night.  This is how he was for an hour or so.

BBromont was pretty done before 10 last night. This is how he was for an hour or so.