Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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The Ice Women Cometh

Erin Crowell - November 3rd, 2008
The Iceman Cometh Mountain Bike Challenge lives up to its name – 27 miles of dirt, hills and loose sand from Kalkaska to Traverse City. Held every first Saturday of November, the Iceman has seen inches of snow in the past.
I remember my high school chemistry teacher showing our class his race video. That year, the course was blanketed in fresh snow. As they passed the video camera, racers interrupted the white canvas with their colorful jerseys and faces distorted in a painful concentrated stare.
“People pay to do this?” Someone asked.
I could tell my teacher got his money’s worth. Every 15 minutes he would point to the screen and say, “There! No, wait. Hold on. There I am!” And then he would smile.
I didn’t under-stand how big the Iceman was until I went to the race five years later to support my boyfriend, a first-time rider. There were, literally, hundreds of people on bikes.
During the race, spectators drive to the limited number of accessible points where they can see competitors. With patience, you will see the rider you’re supporting as thousands of racers pound the trail like blood through an artery.
At the finish line, swarms of people cling to the metal gate that loops riders through the last few hundred yards into Timber Ridge Resort. There isn’t a lull in the deafening sound of screaming and cowbells. It was in that moment when I was standing at the finish line that I decided to race in the 19th Annual Iceman Cometh Challenge.

READY TO ROCK
Now, one year later, I’m faced with the reality that I will actually be riding my bike 27 miles over uneven terrain. After my college graduation, a summer of job hunting and one appendectomy later, I’m pretty out of shape.
In preparation, I have ridden the VASA single track just a handful of times throughout the summer. I have managed to run just about every other day and play basketball and volleyball here and there.
But, none of that will prepare me for the race.
In an effort to salvage my training, I hit the rolling trails behind the State Hospital in Traverse City three weeks ago. 20 minutes into my ride, the derailleur on my bike caught a spoke on the back tire. Luckily, I wasn’t speeding downhill when it happened. Unfortunately, it meant I had a busted ride.
The following week, I borrowed a bike and rode in the Peak2Peak Mountain Bike Race at Crystal Mountain. By the end of the race, I wasn’t necessarily worried that I felt like I had left my legs somewhere on the back hill, but that it was within the 11 miles of trail – more than half the distance of the Iceman.

Some Expert Advice
I’m signed up for the Beginner Women ages 19-34 category, one among 13 divisions for women. When you’re a hard core, badass babe, you can race in the Pro Category. These racers come from all over the country.
I happen to know one living right here in Northern Michigan. Susan Vigland races for Team Hagerty. Whenever I think about mountain biking, I think about her. Last year, Susan won the Expert Women 35-44 division.
“This year I’m going to ride pro, which means I’ll get my tail kicked,” Susan said recently in a phone interview. “I just wanted to challenge myself with those women. It’ll be a whole different race because I’ll be chasing them.”
Unlike myself, Susan is well prepared to race the Iceman. She and husband/fellow racer, Todd, do what are called “Out-Backs” several times in the preceding weeks. From Timber Ridge, they ride to Kalkaska and then take the Iceman trail back – a 45-mile loop.
Because the weather turns foul this time of year, Susan also integrates a Spinning class into her routine once or twice a week.
As far as nutrition goes, she tells me to eat a good meal two to three hours before the race and to make sure I have sustenance during it, such as a sports bar and lots of Gatorade or water.
Not giving yourself the necessary calories will cost you.
“I made that mistake the first year I rode. All I had was water and I completely bonked at the end.” Susan said. “You’re expending so much energy. You’ve got to re supply and replenish yourself.”

GIVE ME MORE COWBELL
When I ask her what the best advice is for a beginner like me, Susan’s answer isn’t speckled with expert facts. It doesn’t include a secret bike maneuver or a brand name of racing gear that will make me faster. Her answer is simple:
“Just have fun with it.
“It’s a blast because there are just so many people out there, all shapes and sizes,” she continues. “You’ll be coming around a corner and there’ll be people with cowbells cheering you on. It goes by quickly.”
That advice keeps me going. Despite my lack of preparedness, my apprehension and moments of bike misfortune, I’m excited about the Iceman. I am riding a stationary bike to keep my legs moving and by press time, my bike should be out of the shop. Now, when I think about the 27 miles of frozen trail, I think about the winding metal gate that will lead me to the finish line and the swarms of people with cowbells.
 
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