Saturday, December 24, 2011

"He" Allows Rare Respite From Training: Back from South Africa


Farrow instructs the winter riding upstart - ME.

The bike that wildly changed my perspective on riding in the winter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Off The Grid: South Africa

Well, let's just say Rio was interesting. To say I'm utterly confused would be an understatement. I met my coach at the base of Jesus with ropes in hand. I even had some more refined climbing gear in an attempt to impress him with my commitment and readiness for the next challenge. Instead, he scoffed at my efforts and muttered something about my ongoing disappointment and how he "expects more". He cast my ropes aside and produced what appeared some type of costume. Here's the result of my time in Rio. My appearance has changed somewhat due to the makeup, etc. What this has to do with cycling, I guess I'll know at the end of my training...

That's me in full Samba regalia and training.

Next, I met "him", my coach on a red clay runway somewhere in South Africa. I'll admit that I was excited, but nervous as Rio perplexed me. Then, suddenly and without warning a convoy of Black Suburbans pulled up. The first stopped near us and unloaded what appeared to be two primitive bicycles. "YES!" I thought, finally some riding. To my amazement a 93 year old Nelson Mandela emerged from the third vehicle with handlers attending to his every need. He donned a South African national team kit, with a 100 oz. hydration system slung low across his back. "Greetings, you must be Eki", he said with a hand thrust forward. Unsure what to do, I replied, "At your service your Eminence", I gently shook the hand of the formally falsely imprisoned visionary. Mr. Mandela then took a long pull from the hose at his chest, slung a leg over the top tube of what appeared to be a 1941 single speed Hawthorne. A similar bike to Nelson's is pictured here:

He simply said, "LET'S DO THIS THING" and he slowly pedaled toward the sinking sun. I mounted my rig and followed. I now train with Nelson Mandela. What to discuss, heart rates, apartheid...?

More to come...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Off The Grid: Rio De Janeiro

Yes, it's that time of year. My training has commenced and I am at the whims of my coach. Some have described my mentor as a bit of an eccentric, but truth be told, that's what I was looking for when I went through the screening process last year. I was looking for that "out of the box" thinker. Little did I know that I'd see the world in all it's glory while living like a peasant during the Dark Ages. Perplexed by his decision making I plowed forward. I spent long nights in a run down cabin somewhere in the backwoods of I don't remember where. I was even forced to journey across the antarctic seas on a raft. What did any of this have to do with cycling you ask? I still don't know, but I do know that I'm tougher for it. I can also slow my body down to that of a hibernating skunk.

Recently I was contacted by "him" (coach) via courier, actually it was a pigeon with a note tied to it's ankle. I was instructed to get to Rio De Janeiro "NOW". This seemed odd and ill timed. I mean I had just completed a pleasant ride with fellow DBD'er Kershaw and was rejoicing at my fantasy football teams' success. Nonetheless, I know the value of his tutelage, so I kissed my wife and the cats good bye, simply stating, "It's time." I grabbed my pre-packed bag, which I weaved out of reeds I gathered while living in a rice paddy somewhere in Vietnam last training season, and out the door I went. I heard a forelorned "meow" from the cat who loves me the most as I plodded down my street. One solitary tear rolled down my cheek, yet I felt nothing, just like "he" would want...nothing. He has taught me well. Now I enter the next phase. Year number two with "him". 

I have no idea what Rio holds for me, but upon my arrival I noticed a peculiar scene. Whilst I enjoyed a Guarana another pigeon showed itself. "Is this the year of the pigeon for me?", I thought. Then, I noticed this one too had a small note tied to it's ankle. I summoned the bird, it obeyed, offering it's foot to me. The twine unraveled and the bird well into flight I unrolled the note. The scribe simple stated, "Bring ropes to Jesus".

Am I to be climbing Jesus (pronounced "Heysuus")? I'll report back when I can. Until then, think good things for me.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Is it because I CAN'T or because I WON'T?

So, the first COLD day has hit Duluth. The rest have been chilly, but not cold. This morning it was straight up COLD. The temp. read 2, that's it, just 2. The guy on the news told me that there was a 10 to 15 mile an hour wind coming out of the west, which put the wind chill at about minus 15 - 20. Now, my coach, which is ME, has me commuting the long way today. The "long way" involves about 13 miles directly west, with about 13 more going back the way I came. I'm no mathematician, but a 15 mile an hour head wind combined with me traveling at about 14-16 mph puts the wind chill at about a million below.

My golden rule is that any temp below 5 degrees makes riding outside not worth it. I bailed and rode the short way into work and now I'm wrought with guilt. I feel weak. I'm contemplating selling all my gear, I'm not worthy of it. How do I overcome this? Help me...