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  1. #1
    will rant for food
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    What've you learned? / Ode to a durable man.

    There was a spell of somewhat cold (persistent -5F) weather in MN recently. It prompted a friend of mine, a person who I consider to be "top tier durable", to send me a text with this old photo attached.

    What've you learned? / Ode to a durable man.-saved_image_20160123_215036.jpg

    I'm 863. He's 851. My bike at the time was an early-gen Pugsley, wrong size, and I painted it a wrong shade of John Deere green.

    My initial reaction upon seeing this picture was "Wow, I've learned so much since then".

    I felt the need to hold onto that thought for a moment. I've learned. So FREAKING MANY DAYS seem to pass by where, upon hitting the pillow, I think, "I worked really hard today, what did I learn?"

    Typically, it is an unsatisfying answer. Perhaps my sensitivity to daily things learned needs some tuning.

    What you can see at face value is that both of us were having fun.

    What I learned that day was that I officially had it up to here with racing bicycles. Big asterisk when I say this, I have nothing against racing generally speaking. It pushes the sports technology forward so we can all have nice things blah blah. I have beef toward racing personally, in that it super-turbo-charges my self-critic. All technique and judgement mistakes MAGNIFIED.

    I did much foot racing as a youth, and in no way shape or form do I appear to have grown out of certain self-damaging internal behaviors on race day.

    So, tomorrow, I might spectate a race. Because I do miss racing. I miss the sounds, the weird things to look at. I just... don't miss what I do to myself.

    But this race pictured... what tore it for me was that it was indeed a casual race, and my fat bike failed me many times in a row that day. By my perception, I failed hard at a casual race. WTF?! YOU ARE FIRED FROM RACING, DREW. FIRED!

    The biggest fail was the studs that I added to the tires -- or should I say, the massive tire liner that kept the air chamber intact -- all that extra mass at the furthest point from the axle, it was painfully pointed out that it was a bad deal.

    "But I need those studs, now what?" Well, 45NRTH got all over that like flies on @#$*, so, that problem got solved for me.

    After I got done being a self absorbed little @#$* waffle, thoughts moved to 851 for a moment. If you shave off a few years, there's a shade of a chance that you recognize him as being an upstanding character in the sporting community. No surprise. He makes friends with everyone.

    What is most significant to me is that he is an exceedingly strong and more importantly DURABLE man.

    This is the kind of man who does a triathlon and then remarks a day later that he's "still a little bit sore, almost better". Meanwhile, if I could even DO a triathlon, I would be laid up for a week.

    851 is the kind of man where you think of your grandparents, and the notion of "Man, we just don't make epic people like that anymore"... WRONG, they are still made even in current times. In fact, 851 is now a new father, and I'm confident his offspring will be raised into being Very Durable People. This gives me hope for the world, which FLIES in the face of ...little hope.

    851 is the kind of man that I think of when I'm in the presence of a Strav*******. You know - watt meter type on the local singletrack, he's not a bad person exactly, but there's something about him I just can't STAND, and it is the following: "Look, buddy. I know someone faster than you. A LOT faster. And he goes farther. A LOT farther. And to top it all off, he's NICE about it. Kind, to the point of being unnecessary. The kind of fitness where he would NOT need to be humble, because he has the chops to back it up, and he's humble about it ANYWAY. So you can take your holier than thou attitude and SHOVE IT."

    This is a man where the (relatively speaking) low quality of his bicycle is irrelevant. He makes stuff happen despite, or perhaps in spite of, his perceived lack of fancy equipment.

    When it comes to fitness and outdoor enthusiasm, I try to be like 851. Every day I fail at this, and will NEVER succeed. But the chasing of it, the feeling of self improvement / pulling myself up to some level that exceeds my natural state... *nostril inhale*... it keeps a person alive, right?

    It should seem odd that I learned most of what I know about fat biking in a single day on a mixed-ice-and-snow course on a frozen lake. What took longer was... coming to terms with that information. Just getting to the point of honestly appraising what it was that I saw.

    Where to shift the blame, I wondered. Was it the 3.8" tires? At the time, that was as big as they were with no plans for bigger.

    It's true that I will soon enough be making tires, and I will make the world's first 7" wide thin-walled fat tire, unless Vee beats me to it. (Note to Vee: please beat me to it. If this is anything like studding my own tires, please please please just beat me to it, I want the super fat tires.)

    How about... not shift the blame at all? What I eventually realized was that the tool I brought to the job wasn't a bad tool. It was just the wrong tool.

    Once I got there, I was done with fat bikes as any kind of novelty. They became utilitarian. This size for this condition, that size for that condition, and hooray, no guarantees given for any of those conditions because nature can take your fat bike and tell you where to stick it.

    Do you have anyone in your sporting life that you look at as some ideal and unrealistic but nonetheless motivating character? Tell me a story about them. And it can't be mikesee, that's basically cheating in this context.
    Disclaimer: I run Regular Cycles (as of 2016). As a profiteer of the bicycle industry, I am not to be taken very seriously.

  2. #2
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Well, having quit even the concept of racing before I graduated high school, I cannot speak to the racing bit, other than I am built similarly to you in that racing and I don't mix.

    Kudos to those who do, but have fun, see you when you come back out for a non race, ride.

    There's a few hard guys in my circle, and I'd be crazy to think I could say which would take top position where I to choose.

    Marc, well, he's the kind of guy who would have surgery on his ankle and 3 weeks later, once fully stir crazy, would be carving up an old XC ski boot so he could duct tape it around his bread bagged cast, just so he could take advantage of the new fallen foot of snow.

    Same guy has had major surgeries on his eyes, hands, had hip and shoulder reconstruction, resurfacing, and finally replacement (yes, 3 separate surgeries each) and still says, okay, let's ride.

    All while splitting all his own fire wood maintaining a fleet of really wild cars, teaching 4th grade, constantly upgrading his early 1800's farm house, keeping various and sundry livestock and exotic pets going, even got into Emu farming for a while.

    Likely the most durable onion of a man I know. More layers than you could ever peel in a day, perhaps a lifetime.

    Another guy owns a super successful business in the state, and while not nearly as "manly accomplished" as Marc, still never ceases to amaze.

    You want medical oddities, this guys got them. Stuff that would make most of us say f*ck it, pick up our pail and shovel, and head for home.

    So far in the last year or so (all while rocking his Moonie, now his ICT) he's had Trigeminal Neuralgia (look that one up if you think racing hurts) which lead to brain surgery, followed a few moths later by a blood clot so large if went from the top of his lungs, well down into both of them, heart issues so severe he couldn't get out of bed for a few weeks (several times int he last 5 years), infections that simply had to run their course because they couldn't be identified, but lay you low enough that it's a good thing you own the company, or you'd have be issued walking papers long ago....

    Yet, as soon as he can stand without feeling dizzy, the next question is, always, where's the ride tonight.

    Yeah, I feel humbled by them for sure.
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

    - FrostyStruthers



    www.mendoncyclesmith.com

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