Monday, December 28, 2009

A couple restaurant reviews...

I've had the occasion to dine at a couple new restaurants with my lovely bride (and good friends on one of the occasions). I wrote a review on a dining website for the newest one, so I thought I'd re-print it here too. I seem to get a lot of crap for not writing more on my blog. I guess nothing new and exciting happens to FWK once the snow and cold hit! Anyway, here is a copy of the review I wrote for a new restaurant located in Uptown, called "IL GATTO" (The Cat). Il Gatto is located in the former home of Figlio, and is owned by the same restaurant group, called Parasole. Figlio was a pretty darned good restaurant. It was dependable, good happy hour specials, and fun to go to. After 20 some years, Parasole decided to close Figlio and open up Il Gatto. Here is the review I posted on http://www.opentable.com/, a reservation website:

Seating at the tables in the dining areas is jam packed. If you enjoy sitting at your table with your elbows resting upon fellow diners chairs, this is for you! I've never been in a restaurant where diners were so jammed together. I immediately complained. After 5 minutes, we were given the option of another table, about 10 feet away, just as jammed. I said we'd prefer a booth. Within 10 minutes, one emptied out and we were re-seated. The staff was extremely prompt and courteous. Be forwarned, if you are going to dine at Il Gatto, ask for a booth. The food was fair to average. I would not go back for dinner for some time. Happy hour should be OK. It is VERY LOUD! Tab for 4 was $167/w tip, 1 btl wine,3 beers,2 drinks,3 entree,1 app.

Il Gatto isn't the cat's meow...

This past Sunday, my bride and I went to the Children's Theatre Company to see their latest rendition of "Cinderella." They have a production of it every 2 or 3 years, and it's been a while since we saw it. I bought tickets for us as part of a Christmas present for Diane. The play they present is put on as a complete farce. Extremely funny. The two step-sisters are played by men. If you've never seen it, it's well worth your time. The humor is for people of all ages. Anyway, afterwards we decided to go to downtown Mpls to dine somewhere. We hadn't decided where. We were thinking of either Hell's Kitchen or Barrio. We parked right across the street from Hell's Kitchen and decided to go there for a drink. This was our first time in the new location. They moved from 1 block away several months ago. The restaurant is located in the lower level of a building. We went in, sat down, and ordered a beer. A few minutes later, Tony, a server we've known for over 10 years walked in to begin his shift. He gave us a wave, and later, bought us a round of beers. Let me tell you about Tony. He's not the straightest of men, if you know what I mean. He worked for many years as a server at Sawatdee Thai restaurant in the warehouse district. His usual attire back then was died blond hair (he's African American), camo hot pants, and army boots. He was the maid of honor at the wedding of another couple we got to know back in the same time. Tony was dressed normally tonight. It was good to see him.


Hell's Kitchen has very good food. One of the quirky things they are known for is their peanut butter. It's hard to describe, but it's the best peanut butter I've ever had. They make it fresh on site. You can buy it to bring home, which we did.

Here is the link to their site:









As good as their food is, we decided we wanted to eat at Barrio, a Mexican restaurant, which is better known as a Tequila bar. We walked down the street, turned the corner, and there we were. Barrio is quite small, and very narrow. It is supposed to be one of the hottest happy hour bars downtown. Being a Sunday night, getting in wasn't a problem. We sat at the bar, and had 3 very good bartenders at our service.

I had a beer at first, and one of the bartenders and I had a very good discussion on tequila. I very rarely drink anything stronger then beer, but when I do, tequila is the beverage of choice. They claim to have 117 tequilas available to drink. Tequilas are like all other liquors, there are poor ones, good ones, excellent ones, and ones I can't afford! Their most expensive tequila is $95 a shot. Here is their tequila menu:

http://www.barriotequila.com/BarrioDrinksMenu.pdf

I ordered one margarita and it was excellent. I was driving, so that was all I had. Unlike most Mexican restaurants, Barrio doesn't give free chips and salsa. Their chips come with freshly made guacamole, and it was absolutely fabulous. We decided to get small plates. Diane ordered a black bean and chicken tostada, I ordered corn chowder (based on a review I read) and a fish taco. The fish taco was only $4, so I figured it to be small. It was, so I ordered another one because it was excellent. Diane and I both loved the meal for one very simple reason, everything tasted so fresh! Not a new concept, but one we appreciate. We will definitely go there again. Maybe next Sunday! Our bill of 2 wines, 1 beer, 1 margarita, chips, soup, tostada, and 2 fish tacos was $70 with tip. Here is the link to their website:

http://www.barriotequila.com/







Sunday, December 13, 2009

Diane's Uncle Bobby


My wife Diane and I have known each other 34 years. Of course, I've known her family for the same amount of time. Diane's maiden name was Bastiansen, and her dad's name is Pete. Well, not really. His given name is Donald Philip Bastiansen. He's been called Pete ever since he was a little boy, something to do with an aunt calling him Pete, I guess. Anyway, there is a member of Diane's family I've never met, only heard of, and that's Uncle Bobby. In fact, Diane barely even remembers him. Bobby was a disc jockey. He started out here in Minneapolis, went on to Fargo, and off to California many, many years ago. I've heard Boone and Erickson talk about him on WCCO, and they said he was one of the most talented people they had ever known. Bobby used the radio moniker of Bobby Dale. Bobby died in 2001. I looked up his obit in the SF Chronicle. I got an inkling then that he would have been interesting to know, or, at least to have listened to. Lou Waters, a guy I remember from CNN, knew Bobby, and wrote a book about him. I have copy & pasted below an article about Uncle Bobby that was written by Ben Fong-Torres (former Rolling Stone writer), for SF Gate magazine.

Farewell: Bobby Dale was one of the most fascinating, as well as funny, offbeat and musically knowledgeable disc jockeys ever to hit the airwaves. I helped induct him into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in October, and although I knew him, I didn't really know him. Few people did. Dale, who died in 2001 at age 70, deserved a book, one that would delve into his past - the making of the jock - as well as his myriad mad exploits on the air, from Fargo, N.D., and Minneapolis to Hollywood and San Francisco. It was here that he gained notoriety for his free-for-all, all-night show on KSFO and, before and after that station, for his work on KEWB, KFRC, KKCY, KOFY and KTIM.

But publishers don't go for radio books unless they're by or about Howard Stern. Dale, who's one of 100 DJs recognized in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and whom Don Sherwood called "the disc jockey's disc jockey," was one of thousands of remarkable radio personalities who've deserved a book and never got one.

Until now. Lou Waters, the former CNN anchor and reporter, has published "Have I Got a Song for You! The Bobby Dale Story," subtitled, "From juvenile delinquent on the streets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." Waters, himself a former Top 40 DJ, worked alongside Dale at KDWB in Minneapolis in 1960 and remained friends with him.

After Dale was diagnosed in the mid-'90s with diabetes, cirrhosis and a heart problem, Waters decided to capture his story. Waters, who lives in Arizona, called Dale at his apartment in San Rafael every day for the last six months of his life, interviewing him for an hour or two. The result is an engaging, entertaining life story and a must-read for the thousands of people who marveled at Dale on the air and wondered what was going on behind the scenes.

It wasn't pretty. For one thing, Robert Dale Bastiansen wasn't pretty. He was gangly, goofy-looking, and early to baldness. Especially compared with his brother Pete, who, Bobby said, looked and dressed like Cary Grant, he knew where he stood: outside mainstream social circles.
He turned to shoplifting and other criminal activities, got busted several times, and served jail sentences. He attracted few girls and, after finding his way into radio work, drank heavily and resisted doing public appearances, which most DJs did. Waters asked him why he hated them, and Dale replied, " 'Cuz I thought I looked funny, and so did the teenagers."

What Dale had was a great radio voice, an unstoppable wit, and great ears for pop music. He was credited with turning "To Know Him Is to Love Him" by the Teddy Bears into a hit in 1958, thus helping launch the career of one of the Bears, Phil Spector.

He loved all kinds of music, and it was after his Top 40 years, when he landed at KSFO, that he flourished, playing what he wanted, bemoaning his status (he was constantly broke, and talked about getting promo copies of albums to sell at record stores), and doing outlandish, stream-of-consciousness "newscasts" every hour. Much of his work is captured on tape by his lovely former wife, Norma "Normi" Dale, known as "Carmelita" to Dale's listeners.

Waters quotes Dan Hicks calling Dale "radio's Hunter Thompson." Waters himself said that Dale was "W.C. Fields, Lord Buckley and Lenny Bruce rolled into one troublesome package," and that he was "a self-conscious and melancholy man whose great natural talents took him to the top and the bottom."Dale was brutally honest, funny and self-deprecating, to the end. Waters writes: "Ron Lyons was with Bobby the day a guy from the medical service delivered a shower chair. 'Bobby could barely sign the receipt,' Ron said, 'and as he was writing, the delivery guy looked at the wall, saw Bobby's pictures, and said, 'Hey, I know you. I've listened to you.' After he left, I turned to Bobby and said, 'You never get tired of that, do you?' And Bobby replied, 'No, man. He was just workin' me for the tip."

Waters published the book himself, and it can be ordered (at $21.95) via www.haveigotasongforyou.com. The site includes excerpts of Bobby Dale air checks.

http://www.haveigotasongforyou.com/ I checked the site out, it's pretty interesting. Read the excerpt under the "BOOK" tab. I tried to copy and paste it, but it wouldn't let me. Kenny

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The agony of de feet


These are photos of my child bride's feet. She had a bunion removed and a hammer toe repaired 9 days ago. I wish I had taken "before" photos to show how bad Diane's foot was! A bunion sticks out of the side of the foot, next to the big toe. It is cut open, shaved off, and two screws are put in place to hold the bones behind the big toe in place. That is a pretty normal deal. The hammer toe, which is a toe that is bent back because of a tendon pulling it back is a whole 'nother problem! The tendon has to be wrapped around the top of the toe and stapled in place. The doc said the tendon is real thin and you can split it in two and wrap it around the joint behind the knuckle of the toe and that helps hold it down. She also has a pin inserted into the toe bone to help keep it in place, along with another 2 screws. The pin has to stay in place for 6 weeks. Diane is in an air cast and is hobbling around reasonably well. She was in quite a bit of pain, but that has subsided pretty much now. The biggest worry is not to bend the pin! The nurse told us it's no fun to pull out a bent pin. It's not really causing her any problems, but it's kinda gross to look at!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday Blues Ride

As most of you know, the reason I'm Fair Weather Kenny is that I have an aversion to exercise in cooler weather. After a week of cool and wet weather, it was 45 degrees when I got up Sunday. I hadn't ridden for a week and it was time to drag out the "cold" weather gear. Cold is in Italics because Bill doesn't consider anything above 32 degrees cold. Anyway, I got out the tights, the under armor, the Gore gloves, and the best investment for a fair weather rider: my Loon teflon coated jacket. Still, I was having 2nd thoughts...I couldn't get my head wrapped around my first cool weather ride since May. Then I had a thought, TUNES! I'll wear my iPod and the music will get me through the ride. A certain portion of the music on my iPod I purchase because I listen to the "radio" portion of iTunes. In that radio section, it's broke down by genre, and I listen to electric blues. As the songs play, the artist and song title scroll on the top of the page. When I hear a song I like, I write it down. At some future time, I'll go through iTunes and buy the songs. For this reason, I have lots of songs I've only heard once and of course, forget I even have them on the iPod. I do most of my listening during the winter, while spinning or running. Anyway, I got the tunes set up, grabbed my camera, and off I went.

My head was cold at first but the rest of me was warm. I left the park and turned onto the NW Expressway, other wise known as Territorial Road. Not a hundred yards down the road, a big, beautiful hawk had landed on a telephone pole. Definitely a Kodak moment! Only thing, I've got these gloves on and the only way I can get the camera out of my back pocket is to stop, take a glove off, take out the camera, and then turn the camera on for the shot. Normally, in warm weather, I can do all this while still on the bike. The hawk watched me do all this, then just as I'm bringing the camera up for the shot, he takes off. Bastard. I watch him fly for a while and it looks like he is off to a grove of trees. So, opportunity missed, I put the camera away, put on the glove, and start pedaling. But wait, he came back to roost on another pole further down the road!

I go through the whole routine again, a little bit further away. I get closer, bring him in focus and start to zoom in. Just as I'm pressing the button down, he takes off! I may have gotten him as he's lifting off the pole.

Well, not quite. That's what I hate about point and shoot cameras. S-L-O-W, even with a high speed memory card.

Time to get going, I'm only 4 miles into this ride. I ride to Fletcher, head down 116 to Corcoran, and turn West on Cty. 10, cross 19 and finally turn South on 123. I get into Hanover and turn East on 117. When I get to 117 & 19, I estimate my mileage when I get home to be about 35 miles, and I want to get 40. I figure if I head South and take the Oakdale loop over to 116 and then head on home that should do it.

I turn on to Oakdale and a song I don't recognize starts coming through my ear phones. Something about a whiskey drinking woman. As I listen to it, I have to stop and see who and what this is. I think the Asian gal walking her ankle biter was getting nervous as I slowed down by her. I didn't think my explanation of a whiskey drinking woman would make her feel any more comfortable.

The song is by Luthor "Guitar Junior" Johnson, and is called "Whiskey Drinkin' Woman." These are the words to the chorus:

I got a whiskey drinkin woman, she gets drunk and wants to start a fight,

She's got me scared to go to work, I'm afraid to come home at night.

Nothing like the blues!

Other artists and songs I enjoyed:

Hang up and Drive, by Jimmy Thackery--Willin' to Burn, by Mark Selby--Black Bottom, by Omar and the Howlers--She's a Golddigger, by Ronnie Baker Brooks--Movin' On, by Lara Price--Detroit Iron, by Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers--Mended, by Ana Popovic

As I cruised along Oakdale, I came upon a farm with some great looking cattle. I figured they couldn't get away from me like the hawk.Well, the bike got in the photo somehow. Bill what have you started????


Aww, ain't he cute? He's Matt's size.


Ended up with 41 miles.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Cheq 2009: Bill Fucking Rocked!!

Bill Vitali, Chequamegon 2009: "I came, I kicked ass, and then I left."



Bill, one of the Amigos, turned in a stellar performance at the 2009 Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival. Bill beat his time of last year by 34 minutes! This is a remarkable feat regardless, but, what makes this even more remarkable is that he did it on a single speed bike! His previous efforts have all been made on multi-speed rides. I knew when I rode with Bill a couple weeks ago in Elm Creek that he was going to kick ass. Bill, we are very proud of you!

The Amigos got very short notice that where we've stayed the past 2 years was not available. We got lucky when a co-worker of Bob's let us stay at his cabin for free. We appreciated it very much....

....however, it was a tad bit small. We made do. Just another Chequamegon adventure.
Speaking of people who rocked, Dave Hoglund turned in a 2:32 time! Unfortunatley, he had cramps that shut him down for about 10 minutes, or he could have had an even better time.


Jay and Berger relaxing after the race. This was something like Jay's 400th time doing the race. Mike, along with Neil and Larry were riding spectators and were at the finish to partake in "lemonade" with us!

Bob, who has pneumonia, but still rode great on his single speed, is having some sort of solitary vision moment. Not sure if he's seeing the Virgin Mary in the clouds or what.


Dave (back to camera), Luke Thompson and his dad, Jay. Luke rode his first ever mtb race, the Short and Fat. He did great! Lynn and Neil aren't having a very good time, but they're making do.

FWK didn't fare as well as I wanted to. I had hoped to finish at best at 3:15, and at worst at 3:30. I finished at 3:30:54. I never felt strong, even in the flats where I should have. No idea why. But, I had a great time with my cycling buddies. Well, there is always next year. If we get in, of course. But that is another story, right Bob and Matt?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Video Introduction to Breck, 2009.

Being that Blogger will not let me make comments on the individual videos, I will do so from the top and work my way down.

This blog goes on for 2 pages. There is another section with photos and my usual witty commentary after the video section.

JACK'S CRUEL JOKE, PT 1,2,3
Jack's Cruel Joke is appropriately named. It starts off innocently enough in a nice little neighborhood one block off the main drag of Breckenridge. It is a series of switchbacks that climbs 300 feet in .47 of a mile. That incline is part of the problem. The other couple things are the nasty rocky and steep turns of the switchbacks and then there are the straight stretches. These are narrow and off camber. If you fall, you will get hurt. I walk the bastards. Hopefully, the videos will portray the difficulty that photos cannot.

PINBALL
Pinball is a very short stretch of trail that is reached by taking a trail called Baker's Tank. Baker's Tank is an old water tank located on Boreas Pass Road. It was a watering tank for steam locomotives crossing over the pass. Pinball rides fast, but isn't dangerous. It's banked and goes through a few trees. It's a fun little ride.

TEN MILE RANGE
The Ten Mile Range is the name of the mountains on the West side of Breck. They are the reason why so many skiers go there. Peaks 8 and 9 are prime ski mountains.

SALLIE BARBER
Sallie Barber is an abandoned mine located about 6 miles up on the East range of Breck and is at about 11,500 feet. It's all dirt road to get to it, it's difficult to pedal to only because you're constantly climbing. There is a new single track trail located at the top that was a lot of fun to ride. Fun, because I could do it! The trail is located on an older, closed trail called "Nightmare on Baldy", which is basically a wash chute on the mountain. I could see why they closed it! The new trail did not have a sign post, so I don't know its name.

BRECK 100 TRAIL
I don't know the name of this trail either, I just know it's part of the Breck 100 mile mountain bike race. Not very Kenny friendly.

LOWER LAKE
There are two lakes in the bowl between Peaks 8 and 9. This is the lower one, and is the first time I made it there by bike. It is at about 12,200 feet. I started out at 9,665 in Breck and made it to 11,400 before it got really difficult to pedal. Elevation and the terrain make you humble.

REAR GEARS
A short video on the size of the rear cassette of the bike I rented. The cassettes on bikes you ride in flat country are much smaller (less teeth on the gears), the bigger the cassette, the easier it is to pedal. If you look closely, you will see I'm in 2nd gear.

BURRO TRAIL
The Burro Trail is the trail you have to take to get to lower lake. It actually connects you to a jeep road, which connects you to another mountain road, which brings you to a fenced off road that you ride around and then climb another jeep road to get to where the lake is. Right near Francie's Cabin. Got all that? You'll just have to trust me.

Jack's Cruel Joke, pt 1

Jack's Cruel Joke, Pt 2

Jack's Cruel Joke, Pt 3

Pinball

Ten Mile Range

Sallie Barber Mine Road

Breckenridge 100 trail

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Breckenridge, 2009

Breckenridge for us was a little different for us in 2009. This was our 11th trip out there in 12 years. On all of our past visits, we flew to Denver, rented a car, and drove to Breck. We also have some great friends that allowed us to use their condo in the Beaver Run Resort complex. But, things change. The condo is no longer available to us, so we had to look for a different place to stay. The good thing is, we know the town so well we knew what area we wanted to stay in. There are a gazillion places to stay in Breck. A website, http://www.vrbo.com/ has listings for places to stay in Breck, it's pretty easy to navigate and almost all of the owners were quick to respond with any questions. We found a nice 1 BR condo only 3 blocks from main street for a good price.


The other big change is that we drove out there! We decided to do it to save some money, but also, Diane and I haven't done a road trip in 30 years. It is 1,031 miles to Breck, and it takes about 16 hours. We split up the drive out by spending a night in North Platte, NE. It was about as exciting as it sounds. On the way back, we drove it all in one stretch, leaving at 6:15 AM mtn time, and arrived home at 11:45 PM central time. It really wasn't that bad. Having XM radio in the car is a big help. We talked, read, and listened to music. We didn't really get bored. It actually was pretty neat to see a piece of America and to realize just how great and beautiful our country is. Driving across Nebraska isn't as bad as it sounds, and, the stretch from Omaha to Des Moines was beautiful, green, and hilly.

All vacations start out with a well stocked fridge. You can see how well we stocked it below:

Diane insisted we have grapes, I decided on the milk.


Nothing like getting up in the morning, going out in the parking lot and seeing a Fat Tire van!



Above is Dave, a bartender at the Breckenridge Brewery. http://www.breckbrew.com/ We've known Dave for a few years now, but we really hadn't talked bikes. He told me about the new 29" bike he was building up, a Gary Fisher Super Fly. Bob, one of the Amigos, has the same frame, so I could talk intelligent about it. The next day, I ran into Dave at Avalanche Sports where I rent my bikes, so I snapped a photo of the proud man!





The first day, I went on the first trail I ever rode in Breck. It is called the Burro Trail, and it climbs Peak 9. This shot was taken at the crossing of the Wheeler Trail, around 11,000 feet. I pedal up trails, service roads, and "jeep" roads to get to this point. The Wheeler is as narrow as it looks, and I've found it very difficult to ride. Narrow, rocky, and the elevation make it hard. The photo is very deceiving.

The above photo shows the top and Northern end of Jack's Cruel Joke. The open space shown is a series of switchbacks to come down this side of the hill. It's called Carter Park. I used to hate it, but, this year they banked the corners with berms and it is much easier. Dave the bartender told me you can "fly down it with a smile on your face." I, uh, just kinda rolled down it and I smiled because I didn't crash.

This is the new single track trail that is accessed from Nightmare on Baldy. It is a beautiful trail, although it is still new and a little soft. I rode it from one end to the other and only had to get off the bike once due to difficulty.

What a great name for a trail! What is really is a drain chute on the mountain. Crazy steep and rocky. No way in hell you could climb it. They closed it off, and now you criss cross it riding the new trail mentioned above.

A shot of the 10 Mile Range, taken from the East side of Breck.

This is a photo of the lower lake that I mentioned in the video section.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Horribly Hilly Hundreds: One and Done

Now that I've had nearly 24 hours to think about it, the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride still sucks. It was all that was advertised. It is without a doubt the hardest thing I have every done from a physical standpoint. We all knew there was going to be tons of climbing. We tried to train for it by riding the Stillwater/Afton area. That may have been good had we done it twice a week for 6-8 hours at a time. We didn't do that. For those of you unfamiliar with the HHH, it has 2 lengths: 100k and 200k (62 and 125 mi) and 10,000 feet of climbing in the 200k version. We chose the 200k, of course. The ride (it is not a race) is located 25 mi West of Madison, WI., in an area called Blue Mounds. It's very unusual terrain. Flat all around and then this area of very hilly elevation. The story is that the glaciers missed this area. The ride starts at the top of the Blue Mounds state park, elevation 1,727 feet, the highest point in WI.

The ride is a lottery. Last January we all got online and were "fortunate" enough to get in. They cap it at 1,000 riders. I had 3 fears about this ride:
1. I suck at climbing. My 84 year old mother could beat me up a hill on a bike.
2. Since I suck at climbing, that means I'll be riding by myself most of time. That sucks.
3. I have always cramped in endurance rides. Cramps suck more then anything.

My first and second fears were realized at 5.87 miles. There were 10 of us at the start, and at the first big hill, I was all alone. It was about 8:15 in the morning, humid with wet roads, and the sweat was pouring out. I still had 120 miles to go. Just fucking great I told myself. When riding by yourself, the mind is your biggest enemy.

The ride is broken up into 5 stages. At the first rest stop (at the top of a climb) I met back up with the group. End of stage one. I noticed that there was not the usual chit chat and joking like on other rides. I think we all knew at that point we were going to get our asses kicked. I believe we had ridden about 30 miles at this point.
We went out together for stage 2, but at the first hill I was dropped again. Stage 2 was a loop that ended up at the same rest stop that completed stage 1, back up the same hill. John and Brad from my group were there. They couldn't keep the pace with the group. So, we banded together. We had put in about 50 miles at this point. The next 75 miles were just plain hard. There would be a few flat areas, but mostly it was just climb, climb, climb. I was in absolute 1st gear (out of 27) on every climb. The down hills were great, but it didn't take long to realize that every down hill was followed by a turn, and every turn had another climb waiting for you.

What we all liked about the course was the scenery. Absolutely beautiful! Narrow country roads with farms and rolling green pastures. It was hot, about 88 degrees. Bob's computer said 95-100 degrees just above the pavement. My feet were hotter then hell. What saved us from being absolutely fried was many of these country roads had overgrown trees shading them. They were a lifesaver.

John, Brad, and I persevered. It was great to have people to talk to and to help encourage each other. Or, at least listen to each other's bitching. Brad started having some cramps at about 70 miles. I was sympathetic, because I knew they would show up for me sooner or later. At 98 miles, my left quad cramped, and I was off the bike. I massaged it and managed to get to the next rest stop at the 102 mile mark. I heard people talking about this being the "graveyard" stop. This is where the people that give up or have mechanical breakdowns are brought to. (They get picked up later by another vehicle) I was seriously questioning whether or not I could finish. My legs were dead. I knew I could not climb the 900 feet at the finish line. I also overheard a guy talking about a climb called "Pinnacle" that was immediately after this rest stop. I spoke of my fears to John and Brad. They said, "let's just walk what we can't climb, so what?" That was the answer I needed! I've walked lots of hills on a mountain bike, but never on a road bike. It's hard to admit that defeat, but I knew it was the only way I could finish. There was no way in hell I was going to the fucking graveyard. I walked some of the Pinnacle. The ironic thing was, on a a flat segment afterwards, doing 15 mph, the cramps hit me big time. I couldn't pedal, I had to walk. I was walking at 3 mph, so it's a time killer. I could climb on the bike between 5-6 mph, so it's not that big of a time difference, but walking on a flat stretch of road when you could be going 5 times as fast is very disheartening.
I last talked to John and Brad at a water stop 15 miles from the finish. We were at 1,200 feet, so we knew we had to drop 300 feet before we were to start the 900 foot climb to the finish. We rode together until the climb into the town of Barneveld, a long 2 mi climb which I walked most of. Along the way, this "old" guy (60?) I had talked to at the last water stop swatted me on the ass as he rode past and told me to keep going! After that I got back on the bike and rode until the very last stretch: the final 2 miles of distance and 900 feet of climbing.

I checked my GPS, I was at 842 feet. I pedaled until 1070 feet. I wasn't cramping, but I couldn't pedal anymore. I walked till 1140 feet, it flattened out and I got back on the bike. Pedaled till 1260 feet and got back off to walk. At about 1360 feet it flattened out again and I rode to the entrance of the park, a flat area where they have the pay booth. Danny, one of the riders I started with was leaving in his car and he shouted out encouragement, Brad was leaving too and he hollered to me. At least I was pedaling at the time! Shortly afterwards, at about 1600 ft, I was walking again.
I could see the finish line banner. There was no way in hell I was going to walk across the finish. I got back on the bike and finished the ride.

I saw Matt after I crossed and I said, "Cross this sonuvabitch off the the bucket list."



The Talladega. It's the heavier of my 2 bikes, but it has a triple crank. Smartest decision I made was to ride this bike. (Bill, what do you think of the photo? The Armada ain't no tree, but it's all I had) I was riding Bob's wheels as mine had problems that couldn't be repaired in short notice. Thanks, Bob. I love my amigos! I also had a brand new fork on that had exactly one ride on it.
Very early in the ride, maybe 15 miles. It had rained the day and night before. The moisture is coming off the pavement. Humid as hell.

This was taken somewhere at around 80 miles. Beautiful scenery. There are no pictures of the hills or big climbs. It would take too much energy to take a picture when climbing.

John at the Black Earth rest stop. 70 miles down, 45 to go.

Bob after the ride. He finished in 8 hours. He had never experienced cramps before or had to get off his bike and walk. The last climb is 900 feet in elevation gain and about 2 miles long. It humbled everybody. I walked up 75% of it. I've never had such dead legs before in my life.

Matt loading up John's bike. Just one look at his face tells you the story. And Matt had a good ride.
The elevation profile that my GPS device recorded. Look at the very end, that is the 900 foot climb that ends the ride. Unbelievable.

Tale of the tape:
127.5 miles pedaled
12.8 mph avg speed
11 hrs, 4 min total time
9 hrs, 20 min elapsed time
8,931 feet of climbing (this is what my GPS recorded. There is supposed to be over 10,000 ft)
7,645 calories burned according to my HRM
Here is the link to Everytrails.com showing the ride based on information from my GPS:

Final thoughts:
There is no way we here in flatland country can train adequately for this ride. As much as we all beat ourselves up over how poorly we did, we did OK. Almost all of us finished (one guy had a mechanical and had to be sagged). None of us quit. We didn't ride it as fast as we would have liked, but, we finished. That is the key to any endurance undertaking.
The consensus among all of us is that there is no reason to do this ride again. It is brutal. I think if it would have been 100 miles long it would have more appeal, but, it is what it is. The other issue is time and money. It's a 5 hour drive there and back, plus the cost of a hotel room and gas. On Saturday we got up at 5 AM and got back home after midnight. I suffered a major cramp in the car by the Dells. Bob had to pull over so I could walk it off.
It is a beautiful ride, but man, does it kick your ass.






Ana Popovic







I first heard of Ana Popovic this past winter while listening to iTunes radio. I heard one song by Ana, wrote it down, and bought it. I checked out her website:
http://www.anapopovic.com/ and found out she was coming to Mpls in June. Turns out it was for the Famous Dave's BBQ and Blues Fest. Apparently she has played the bar in Calhoun Square before. In fact, she will be back there again on August 21st. She gives a pretty good show and is engaging with the audience. She is also attractive. And she can play the guitar! After 90 minutes I was pretty blown away how good she was. She was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Her dad was a guitarist that was into American blues. Her idols are old blues legends and modern (but dead) artists like Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix, both of which she played songs by in concert.
I video taped 2 songs plus the solo by the bass player (that's for you, Alex!). Not sure why the bass solo didn't upload as clear as the other two videos. It's crystal clear on my computer. I don't know everything about how Youtube operates yet. The 3 videos are below this post. Check them out!



Ana Popovic at Blues Fest, Mpls, MN

Ana Popovic-2, Blues Fest, Mpls MN

Ron Jonker, Bass solo, Mpls Blues Fest (Ana Popovic)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Matt's new ride

Aww, isn't she cute! We finally found a horse small enough for Matt.


Matt, Bob, Danny, and Brad right after some punishing climbs out of Afton.

I know, I know. It's been a long time since I posted last. FWK has not been in hibernation, far
from it. I'm on a mission to ride as much as I can so I don't get behind Bill for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride.
Speaking of which, the 3 amigos + Brad + Danny rode the "Stilly Hillies" on Sunday for a little practice at climbing. We rode 62 miles with over 3,000 ft of climbing. A very good ride, but a far cry from the HHH, which is 125 miles and 12,000 ft of climbing. My legs were tired, there is no way I could have hammered out another 62 miles. Epic is the word, and it may be our undoing!
This is how you mow the lawn in Stillwater. Get 5 of your buddies that have a court injunction not allowing them to use power tools and make them use hand mowers.

On Monday I got to ride with the Trailhead Monday group. My hours prevent me from riding with the evening groups very often, and this was a treat. Only problem, my legs were dead after Sundays ride, all I was going to do was a 30-40 mi recovery ride. Turned out to be 56 mi and I got home at 8:20. Felt good, but the legs were toast! A lot of fun, though.

It's tough to keep up with Bill and all of his upgrades on his bikes.

http://billsmagicalmysterytour.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-04-05T16%3A29%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=10

I can try. These are carbon/alu bottle holders. Each one saved me 1 ounce over the previous cages. Eat your heart out, Bill.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Baba O'Riley

The greatest rock band of all time, and one of my favorite songs.

Bob, the eagle, and FWK ride the wind

Spotted this juvenile eagle on 116, between Fletcher and 117. Bob and I met at the intersection of 116 & 117 and headed West to Hanover. Did the Neilerator. Thought about turning off to 144, but decided to take the Hassan turnoff back to 19. Took 117 to Bechtold/Tucker, followed that back to Territorial, and headed into the wind up to Fletcher. Parted company there and eased on back home for a 46 miler. Not sure how far the eagle traveled during that time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shoal Bay 3/4/09

Anguilla 2009, intro

Several people have been asking me, FWK, when are you going to post the Anguilla trip on your blog? Well, my fair weather followers, I have begun. Video is a new deal for me, and it can be very time consuming when you are on the low end of the learning curve. Stay tuned, more film at 11.

Shoal Bay, 3/6/09

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Anguilla 2009




Cycling is taking over the island by storm! I didn't get a chance to talk to this rush hour commuter, but I was told his name is Breed. Shooting a photo with one hand when driving a manual transmission while having a beer between your legs is tricky, but damn!, it turned out pretty good! Truthfully, there were more cyclists then ever on the island. I saw roadies every evening and weekend morning. Anguilla's daylight is short, the sun sets by 6:30 every night. Riders go out in traffic after work on roads that have no shoulders and are very narrow. The road conditions have improved recently, but, I think cycling there is very dangerous. Very few riders wear helmets. I followed two that were wearing helmets, but the straps were blowing in the wind, not clasped.


Let's move on to another of my favorite subjects: Food!

We've been visiting Anguilla for 12 years now. We are "regressing" as far as our dining out goes. We really prefer to eat in the smaller local places. They are by far cheaper to eat at, and the food is always good. Another thing we like to do is hit the local BBQs. There are many on the island. Some, like Carl and Claire's shown below, have a rooftop and even a place to sit down and eat. Others are literally a grill (or grills) set up along the road. There is Big Jim's, Cyril and Joan's, Kenny's, Ken's, Sammy's, and several others. This is Claire. She is rolling out johnny cakes. Johnny cakes are pieces of dough rolled flat and fried. You can see some in the frying pan in the background. They can be served plain or dusted with sugar. You can also fill them with meat or cheese, fold them over and fry them.

Above is Carl. He uses a smoker to prepare his ribs and chicken. A slab of ribs is $6, the chicken leg with thigh as shown in the picture is $2.50. The ice cold Heinekens were $2. I'm not sure what the mixed drinks cost, but I'm told they pour a stiff drink! (unfortunately, there is no wine) While we were there, several men were sitting at a table under the canopy playing dominos, a common sight in Anguilla. When I asked Claire who was the boss, she said "I am." When I asked Carl who the boss was, he said "Claire." Smart guy, that Carl.

The photo above is of Prickly Pear island, located about a 25 minute boat ride away from Anguilla. It's popular place for a day trip for people staying in St. Maarten, as well as people from Anguilla.

video

Laurie, who owns the Pumphouse, took us there in his boat. Here he is, coming up the beach after dropping us off first and then going out to anchor the boat.

video

This is a short pan of the beach, ending with seeing Captain Rollins, whom we first met 12 years ago. Rollins has a catamaran available for charter, Chocolat. He is one of our favorite people on the island.

Speaking of the Pumphouse, here are a couple photos from one of our nights there: Laurie, Diane, Kenny, Sha-nye, and George.No pics of the Pumphouse would be complete without Sarah, whom we love dearly. She takes care of us, as you can tell by my squinty eyes. We got to meet her Dad this year, a very nice gentleman. Sarah we hope your mom recovers well from the surgery. Can't wait to see you next year, hopefully you feel better and can come to Prickly Pear with us...

Here I am getting a hug from Debbie. She's worked at the Pumphouse for several years, and also several other restaurants on the island. She's a lot of fun. She may look innocent with that sweet smile of hers, but I know better.
This is Alan, who along with his wife, runs the food end of things at Prickly Pear island. He was born and raised in England, and has a most wonderful Brit accent. He waited on us our first visit to Anguilla 12 years ago. Alan and his wife, Susan, are good people.

Here is a video of Alan, Susan, and their two employees, going home after a day at work:

video
Not your usual commute, is it??

This is Mike and Mary Ann Jarvis. Mary Ann is better known as "AXA Beach Bum." They are from Maryland. We first met them on an Anguillan AOL talk board, and then in person 10 years ago. They are very close friends, even though Mary Ann invites 26 people out to dinner whenever we plan on going out! They are always the first people to greet us when we arrive, and they make a special trip to wish us farewell when we leave. I'm a little mad at Mike this year. We didn't do our traditional shot of Patron at the Pumphouse. What up, dude?
The two most important accessories on the beach: a hat and a bottle cozy!

You might think we are the only Minnesotans that visit Anguilla, but, we are not. We used to see these 2 couples years ago on the beach. Then, one time we spotted them on our flight and figured they must be from MN. Sure enough, they are from the Hastings area. From left to right: John, Trudy, Charlie, and Elaine. Charlie and Trudy are retired and spend close to 3 months on the island. What is interesting is this year, all 6 of us were staying in separate places, but no more then 75 ft apart. One late afternoon, I just opened up our front door, and hollered "Happy Hour!", and over they came! We also went out to eat that night at Elsa's. A local little place that we could walk to. All home made food, with all the fixins, for $8-$14 per per person. You do have to bring your own wine or beer, however. I have a video of that night posted separately as well.
This is Elaine and Nature Boy. Nature Boy has a deep sea fishing service. We've just got to know him the past couple years. Elaine and Nature Boy were celebrating their birthdays when I took this pic.

One of the people sitting is sober, can you guess which one?
Hint: the one without the cigar.

This is Smoothie, aka the "Smooth Wan." He's another character we've known for several years. He has a speed boat and you can hire him for skiing, and towing water toys for the kids. This year he opened up a bar on the beach. He has music there on Sundays. I have some video from his spot elsewhere on the blog.


An interesting thing about the Pumphouse is that we get introduced to some strange liquors. In this case, Absinthe. Absinthe was banned in the US due to supposed psychedelic properties associated with it. It actually tastes terrible, unless you like licorice/anise flavor. I couldn't finish a shot glass of the stuff. If you want to find out more, check out wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absinthe


This is Guiness. He is the proud child of Hugh and Barb, who are from Maine. They spend several weeks in Anguilla every year, and they always bring Guiness with them. He's a beachcombing kind of dog.



This is Elvis' Beach Bar, located on Sandy Ground. Avery nice place to spend an afternoon. We've been going there the past couple years on our first full day in Anguilla. Elvis is a great guy, and trust me, you have to "decompress" when you get to the Caribbean. Elvis' can do that for you. For more info, check this out: http://www.elvisbeachbar.net/


For some reason, several people ask me if there are any topless women on the beach. The answer is no, it's against the law in Anguilla. However, some of the European women disregard that law. Damn lawbreakers.

That's most of it for the trip. The video took lots of time, but was fun to do. Hope you enjoyed it!