Tuesday, September 28, 2010


In response to a recent athletic endeavor, an acquaintance remarked, “You’ve got to be pretty brave to do that.”

My thinking is that it doesn’t take bravery or courage to do something you love. It’s what I’m wired to do. Ask my parents. They watched me as a child wandering off into the woods for hours and then days at a time; let me disappear on my bicycle as long as I agreed to return before dark; sent me running the length of my paper route because walking was boring. I hiked to and from school because taking the short-cut via cattle trail was more fun than grabbing a car ride. You get the picture. Brave? No. Fun? In my mind, yes.

This past weekend I had the good, no great, fortune to spend some time with a family friend, a very courageous, brave family friend. A young woman who was dealt a bad hand from birth and decided to step up and have life-altering surgery performed on her spine.

When I paid her a visit, the surgery was complete; a resounding success according to medical staff. She will realize the extent of that success in the months and years to come. She’ll be back on the soccer field, cross-country trail and walking her dogs down the street soon enough. For now, she has months of rehab and recovery. And she’ll do it with a smile. That’s what courage is… smiling at adversity, smiling when it hurts like hell, smiling because she knows that long-term benefits outweigh the short-term ass-kicking she’s taking right now.

The next time someone tells me how brave I am, how courageous I am, or how tough I am for toeing the line at a race, I’ll return a smile and say, ‘Nah,’ because I know what courage is, and her name’s Maggie.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


PowerBar(R) and the Iowa Gravel Society(TM)


The American Gothic Gravel Invitational(TM)
Saturday, 9 October 2010, 9:00 am

A 60-mile, balls-to-the wall, dust-in-yo-teeth, winner-take-all, free-of-charge bike race across the gravel roads of Linn County, Iowa. Yes, IOWA!

Everyone gets: Dirty, satisfaction, camaraderie, the attached cue-sheet keepsake and BONUS! poster (suitable for framing, fun for the whole family), and a get-together of some sort afterwards (but only if you stick around for the last finisher. Bring a few bucks to chip in if you're hungry. Zoey's or Tomaso's pizza is sounding good).

One person gets: The grand prize (but only if you stick around for the last finisher).

Rules: Sign the notebook before the start. We roll out as a group at 9 a.m. Once we hit gravel, the race is on. Follow the cue sheets ‘til you hit the finish. Sign the notebook with your name and finish time (there’ll be a stopwatch by the notebook). No aid stations. No outside help. Don’t be stupid. Don’t cheat. Ride safe. Stop, look and listen. When you cross the highway(s), look and then look again. Don’t be a tool. And don't, don't, don't litter. The roads are open and the farmers are working harder than any of us. Stay to the right and outta their way. Wave and they’ll wave back.

Cue sheets: Click on the image. These are the only directions you’ll receive. Print ‘em. Bring ‘em. Lose ‘em and you'd better find someone to ride with. If you bring a buddy, then make a copy or make sure your pal doesn’t get lost.

Start/Finish line: Indian Creek Elementary School parking lot (by the football field), Marion, IA

Fine print: You’re receiving this because you’re one of a select group… or someone we thought really had nothing better to do. This is an invitation-only race because we’ve seen what happens when FREE events are opened to the inconsiderate masses. That said; if you want to bring along a kindred spirit, that’s cool, too. In fact, we encourage it.

In the event of a tie, the 1-Mile Grant Wood Tiebreaker will be held at the adjacent track to determine the winner. Frankly, we’re REALLY hoping for a tie. Bring your running shoes… just in case.

Finer print: YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN. There is no sag wagon (though Crazy Pete will ride DFL and pick up the pieces)... so choose your weapon wisely. If you get a flat, fix it; if you break down, wing it or start walking... no one is coming to save you. You got into it, you get out of it. That said, offer a helping hand if someone needs it. As mentioned above, don't be a tool... but feel free to lend one.

Photo: 3-mile run, 27-mile fixie ride, 9:00 am, 50 degrees, Marion, Iowa

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 700 yds (ytd 37,700 yds.)
Bike: 126 miles (ytd 4,447 mi.)
Run: 41 miles (ytd 1,086 mi.)

...and just like that, the seasons change.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photo: 15-mile run, 10-mile trainer ride, 10:00 am, 50 degrees, Marion, Iowa

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 0 yds (ytd 37,700 yds.)
Bike: 91 miles (ytd 4,447 mi.)
Run: 45 miles (ytd 1,086 mi.)

...and two laps around the basement on the unicycle.

Photo: 36-mile gravel ride, 3-mile run, 7:00 am, 60 degrees, Linn County, Iowa

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 0 yds (ytd 37,700 yds.)
Bike: 129 miles (ytd 4,356 mi.)
Run: 52 miles (ytd 1,041 mi.)

Sometimes 'Road Closed' means road closed.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Photo: 35-mile gravel ride, 2-mile run, 8:00 am, 48 degrees, Linn County, Iowa

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 1,100 yds (ytd 37,700 yds.)
Bike: 106 miles (ytd 4,227 mi.)
Run: 49 miles (ytd 989 mi.)

Patterson Bigfoot siting? Loch Ness? Pffft... I've got never-before-seen footage from Easter Island! Wait for it.

Photo: 51-mile road ride, 2-mile run, o-dark thirty, 60 degrees, Linn County, Iowa

Weekly activity log:
Swim: 800 yds (ytd 36,600 yds.)
Bike: 147 miles (ytd 4,121 mi.)
Run: 44 miles (ytd 940 mi.)