Wednesday, April 9, 2014
I be too busy to write......
“You get to the top of a wall, there’s nothing up there. Lionel Terray, the great French climber called it ‘The conquistadors of the useless.’ Yeah, the end result is absolutely useless, but every time I travel, I learn something new and hopefully I get to be a better person.”
– Yvon Chouinard, 180 Degrees South [Note: the idea of the conquistadors of the useless is so apropos when considering the material rewards one earns with taking on and completing the Trans-Iowa.
Below are the ramblings of a man well past his prime. A man troubled by a race that awaits him in Iowa in just a few weeks away…
A man, too busy doing nothing worth writing about. A very, very, busy man, a man too busy to take just a few minutes to reflect on the direction of his so-called “life.” Truth be told, what we have here is an aged-man who claims to have no time to write but admittedly also the same aged man that really has nothing really to show for being so busy. If he’s so busy, one may logically ask, “Where are the results?” “What do you have to show for being so busy?” Think of a guy like John Kerry. It would be one thing to submit an excuse on the order of; “I’ve been super busy working out a lasting peace deal betwixt the Israelis and the Palestinians. As well as figuring out a way for the average Syrian to live in peace” ; Or Mark Zuckerberg, “Please forgive my lack of writing, but you must understand that that I am brokering a super important deal between Facebook and Twitter.” Or Bjorn Dahlie, (the best excuse possible): “Just can’t write ‘cuz I am battlin’ my way across the top of Greenland on my trusty skis and a small group of friends.
Too be honest, truth be told, itz a sad situation in that really nothing much has happened for me of late. Can’t claim nothing of interest or even remotely impressive to report. No monumental, no earth-changing things have been achieved by the writer, of late…It’s a sad situation for a Man, (especially a man with one foot in the grave) to be devoid of meaningful results, to be devoid of important things to report, or even to be devoid of interesting retrospective comments on a life well lived. This lack of news to report, this inability to add to one’s overall existential timeframe, makes me think that I have become a man who is essentially already on the proverbial downward slope or at least existing in a kind of holding area. A man that is not fired up for his next great adventure is a man that has thrown in the towel…think: Roberto Duran’s version of, “No mas.”
…. In any event, after months of pretty much just getting through it day to day, or putting on a brave face, or “playing silly games” that I associate with the banal artificial-constructs or daily mundane tasks of modern life, (punctuated briefly by periodically vicarious moments stimulated by my daughter’s ski and track meets) I have finally found time to write, but alas there is little of interest to share… Please understand that I am not blaming anyone for my recent harried, albeit uninteresting life-style, for the cages or prisons that we build, especially in this country, are largely self-built. Even so, it is delusional for one to wish for self-actualization, even at basic very basic level, when engaged in activities that seem quite trite and meaningless…but I digress. Finally I am able to put my ideas to paper. As alluded to above, there is not much to report…but there are perhaps a few noteworthy or semi-honorable struggles of which I have engaged in the last several months. Below is a brief summation….
In late-December, stalwart Eki, the youthful and most talented Peterson, and I made a decent effort to be the first to ride from Duluth to Grand Marais via the North Shore Trail but heavy fresh snow during the second day, coupled with very cold temperatures broke our spirit compelling us to bail after two very cold nights out. It was my third failed winter attempt on this route. The North Shore Trail is significantly more challenging than the Arrowhead Trail. On a happier note, Chris Finch and Cousin Jay, both of Duluth, did make the first winter ascent in late January. They completed the route in four or five days completely unsupported. Anyone that has tried the route, in any season or condition, knows that these guyz have earned serious bragging rights. Bravo Mr. Finch and Mr. Gliddings!
In late January, the Arrowhead 135 commenced on a pretty much regular or normal Monday morning given that itz winter and the fact that the geographical position of International Falls places it right next to Canada. Even so, the temperature, (somewhere in the negative twenties at the start) inexplicably seemed to somehow “surprise” many of the bike racers, causing many to pull the plug. For me it was a relatively uneventful race for the trail was solid, the skies were clear, and the slight wind beneficial or at least indifferent (except for a brief period of head winds, whilst crossing the lake to the half-way checkpoint). In my world, I’d take a cold and solid-tracked trail any day over a warm and slushy trail.
In any event, I had planned to either walk it or preferably to ski it, but due to several snow-day closing at my school coupled with the surprising success of my kid’s first High School cross-country ski season (she made it to STATE as a 7th grader1), I was forced at the last minute to bike the 135 miles as I just could not justify being gone from my job the extra day or two it would have required of me if I have tried the route without a bike. Although I had not been on the bike leading up to the race, I had understood the serious implications of trying to complete the Arrowhead 135 sans a bicycle, so I had trained pretty much every day for many months, either man-walking or skiing; the result being that I felt really good for the whole race. As always the most meaningful experiences in these kinds of events are social. Seeing old friends and interacting with new and interesting folks. I rode a lone wayz with two really nice guyz, Adam Curtis and Chris Tassava. All in all it was really a fun event. My plan is to keep doing that race until I am 70…and beyond. Given the generous time frame (60 hours to finish it) there really is little reason to not finish it if you live by one of my main mantras: “When in serious doubt, when itz getting really crazy, when all hope seems lost, take a nap. The longer the better.”
Which brings me to the upcoming classic Trans-Iowa. The reason I believe that the Trans-Iowa is the toughest event that I have done in cycling is because of itz most challenging time-constraint of 34 hours….Thatz 320+ miles in 34 hours(this year the rumor is that the course is 340+ miles) . I know that as you read this…you are thinking that it sounds reasonable to average 10 mph for 34 hours, but when you start to add in significant route-finding challenges, tough road conditions, lotz of hills, mechanicals, and general fatigue setting in…just finishing the damn thing is a huge accomplishment………..So hopefully I can now start to find time to write and also I hope that I can write in a few weeks time that I been pretty busy…busy completing the arduous Trans-Iowa Part X…Now thatz a fine excuse…an excuse that folks can understand…and even appreciate. More to come.....