Monday, January 31, 2011

Biking in the Cosmos

My friends to the south (i.e. Minneapolis - you know who you are) often mock me for indoor training sessions, but man, sometimes it's just freakin' cold out. Now, I'm sure they would respond with all kinds of stats that suggest it's just as cold 150 miles south of me, but I gotta tell ya, when I head down there I'm expecting to see Palm trees. It just never seems as cold there as it is here by the big Gitchi Gummi (that's Lake Superior to non mid-westerners).

As I did final preps in my garage before my morning commute I tried to brace myself. Mittens over jacket cuffs - check, blinker on helmet blinking - check, blinker on bike blinking - check, head lights on - check, air in tires - check, good song on ipod - check. O.k., let's DO THIS!

I lift the garage door to a dark neighborhood, push the bike out into the drive way, turn and slam the garage door. One shove, a leg over and I'm rolling past my car and into the street. It's when I take the first inhale that I feel as if I'm in a vacuum, space if you will. Wait! I know my body just performed the necessary actions required for a breath of air, but my lungs seem to have suctioned in on themselves. Again, I go for the valuable oxygen and yes, a little bit seems to be coming in. The air actually is holding the precious molecule. Soon enough I'm able to pull in satisfactory amounts of the good stuff.

I must say, the first breath of the morning in Duluth sometimes has me wondering if this is what it's like to try to breath in space.

P.S. Good luck to my training partners up in the "ice box" of America competing in the Arrowhead 135. Definitely some hard guy stuff. I think those guys probably can breath in space.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Forced to be Something I'm NOT!

As I move through my daily existence I'll admit that cycling is on my mind A LOT! I guess I put a lot of my identity into that endeavor. Some might even say, "That Eki guy can ride his bike a long way".  With that being said I have to realize this isn't all I am and real life has a way of proving that.

During my forced hiatus from the bike I decided I needed to take care of some business around the house. I usually approach house hold "fix it" tasks with an insane amount of anal retentiveness and this has allowed me to accomplish a thing or two. For example, a few years back I decided we needed a shed, so I checked a book out of the library, read it, then built a pretty sweet shed (if I do say so myself). It kind of turned out like a mini Swiss alps style chalet. A minimalist could probably live there happily.

So, the little leak under the wash tub was going to be dealt with. I figured maybe an hour tops. I enlisted the assistance of my neighbor who originally installed the wash tub with me handing him a tool from time to time (Thanks Gary). In all honesty, plumbing scares me. I could flood the house - I don't want that!  Well, much like that quick fix you intend to do to the bike before a ride that ends up canceling the ride, because it all goes so bad. While one problem would be solved another would emerge. I tried to think as if I were a molecule of water, "why am I trying to get out of these pipes and hoses so bad?"

Several trips to Home Depot, several ruined parts, a lot of water spilled all over the place and yes, some swearing, the job is done (fingers crossed) I think. I won't go into all the details, but the phrase, "Are you kidding me?" came out of my mouth so many times I can't count them as I saw a big crocodile tear droplet hanging from the "job site".

The moral to the story is that whenever I hear someone say, "How do you do that?", when they talk to me about a 200 or even 300 mile ride, I'm pretty sure I can find something about them that will get me asking the same question back. We all have something we can do well and other things that we wish we could. For me, I wish I was a better PLUMBER.

I'm so glad to be back in my comfort zone. As I swung a leg over my winter commuter this morning I whispered..."Miss me?". I could have sworn I heard, "It's about time"....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Resting at an All Out Pace

This winter's training volume has been ratcheted up to levels I have yet to experience. As a result I have rolled out of the rack each morning to creaks and pops that have made me peek under the bed in order to track down the source of the noise.

Ice bags Ace bandaged to various joints while watching episodes of "The Biggest Loser" had me wondering, "Am I doin' this right?"

Well, being an educated man I decided that a degree in Sports Medicine wasn't needed to determine what was happening to me. I just plain 'ole needed a break. So, wracked with guilt for not riding the bike I implemented a forced hiatus to all forms of exercise. It is during this pause that I will recoup my mental faculties as well as relieve the myriad of physical ailments currently plaguing me. I have implemented a strict plan of consuming large quantities of strawberry ice cream and pale ale.

I'll be back soon...

Friday, January 14, 2011

While One Star Rises, Another Must Fall

Recently, a meeting was held in Duluth's DBD Headquarters to mourn the loss of a formerly respected member. No, he didn't pass on to the great unknown, he merely fell from grace.

Once a great man and someone I was proud to call my training partner has lost all semblance of dignity, honor, and just plain self. The beginning of the end took place at the wintry scene of the famed Tuscobia Ultra, where he walked among entrants with the swagger of a man in his 20's. He entertained all as he told tales of past exploits. Men gathered at his feet listening to his yarns, while others stood in the distance, mouths agape.

The race itself told no lies as it dispatched the aged Farrow or Hondo as some know him with extreme prejudice. Farrow attempted to follow DBD protocol or so his story goes, but his WWI revolver faltered (again). He claims he went one step further in a last ditch effort at honor, hurling himself off a train trestle of sorts, into a rocky ravine. Alas, he survived and without a scratch which lends further questions to his claim.

DBD members held court at Duluth's Kitchi Gamme Club to determine Farrow's future within the adventure society. The scene moved from nervous supporters milling about sipping brandy to a fevered pitch as talk of Buffington's arrival gained momentum. Young Buff, or Big Buff (also a training partner I'm proud to say) is our rising star and has emerged as a figure of admiration among members and nonmembers alike. It's clear that his status among the DBD clan not only remains solid, but quite possibly climbs in rank. Soaring off a win at the previously mentioned Tuscobia Ultra he remains the apple of our eye. The irony of it all is that it was the broken soul, Farrow who once fought for Big Buff's, or back then, Jason's acceptance into the group. Now, it appears that it is Buffington who has gained Mallory's favor and may soon replace Farrow.

As the meeting was called to order Sir Mallory called for a moment of silence to remember and offer internal salutations to the aged one as it was clear the committee had made it's decision although no formal vote had taken place. Just then and without warning a stud of sorts entered via the east wing. It was Buffington, tan, handsome, and striding with his feet above the ground. Shackleton rose first calling out..."3 CHEERS FOR BUFFINGTON, 3 CHEERS!!!" The committee let out a resounding, "HIP, HIP, HURRAY...HIP, HIP, HURRAY...HIP, HIP, HURRAY!!". I found myself shoved to the back of the crowed, almost exiled as I am known to have supported Hondo through previous suspect trials. Quickly, the lad Buffington was hoisted high upon the shoulders of founding members Crazy Horse, Shackleton, and recent inductee Henry Hudson. The room erupted with cries of, "CAPITAL, GOOD SHOW, LONG LIVE BUFF!!!" Suffice it to say all thoughts of Farrow's legacy were dashed.

Dazed, I stumbled to a chair at the back of the room and wept the tears of a man lost, yet filled with the promise of a new beginning in the rise of Big Buff's star. As if I were born of two fathers I was torn by memories of Hondo's early tutelage, quickly replaced by this young upstart's hunger and talent. The tears ran down my cheeks, while a smile crept across my face...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Harshest of Winters

Recently I was awarded a brief respite from my training abroad. I must say it's nice to be home, but I will add that my daily commutes have been at best uncomfortable. The northern reaches of Minnesota have seen (in my humble opinion) a harsh winter and are we even half way through it?

The gear/kit that I work with throughout the winter months has proven to be quite effective, but there are times when it just doesn't matter, the bits and pieces are gonna get cold. It's rare that I am able to report that my torso experienced "old man winter" biting through, but last night I felt him. You know they say up here, "it's not the cold that gets ya, it's the wind", they're right.

Fortunately, the equipment has been performing in the cold, minus a few odds and ends either freezing up or simply breaking off. It's to be expected. An old friend loaned me a studded cross tire for the front which was like an extension to my life. He (Hondo) told me he doesn't need it any more as he is now heavily into cross stitching and mall walking. I miss him.

Bundle up friends, it's nasty out there. Duluth, Mn is in the thick of it now!