Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Master of cycling

Erin Cowell - August 24th, 2009
Masters of Cycling
By Erin Crowell 8/24/09

For the Hagerty Men’s Cycling Masters Team, age is just another number. So is first, second and third. Winning has become a theme this year for both the team as a whole and the individual men who compete in a category of cyclists age 45 and older.
This season, Hagerty has cranked out state-wide wins at the West Branch Classic, Tour of Frankenmuth, Tour of Kensington Valley, the Michigan State Time Trial Championship and the Cone Azalia Spring Classic, along with several single-digit finishes at the Willow Time Trial, Tour de Mount Pleasant, Superior Bike Fest and the Maillot Jaune Road Race.
They will look for another win when they compete on home pavement this weekend at the second annual Cherry Roubaix. The race features a criterium in the Old Town district of Traverse City on Saturday; then a road race through Leelanau Peninsula on Sunday.
Hagerty member Clifford Onthank is confident for Sunday’s race. “I hope to win (the 55 and older category),” he says.
However, Onthank shares the same sentiments as the rest of the Masters Team, saying regardless of the winner, it will be a Hagerty bike crossing the finish line first.
“We do a lot more hill climbing than the flatlanders -- That’s what we call the people from downstate. (The Cherry Roubaix) is a very difficult climbing course as far as hills go,” Onthank says.

Leaving their tread marks on the competition is just a part time job for these elite cyclists. All the Hagerty Masters have full-time occupations, including Dr. Onthank, chiropractor; Don Fedrigon, Jr., real estate broker; Dan Hofstra, CPA; and Dr. Norm Licht, M.D., orthopedic surgeon.
Some people might believe holding a steady career while pulling out wins as a competitive athlete would seem impossible. But for these seasoned cyclists, it’s easy.
“Since swimming in college, I’ve learned to time manage,” says Licht. “You just schedule time to do it. Maybe that means an hour ride at lunch or doing it after the kids go to sleep.”
However, training for a bike race pales in comparison to the event Licht was training for seven years ago.
In 2002, he qualified for the ultimate in endurance sport races: The Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, comprised of a 2.4-swim in the ocean, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon (26.2-mile run).
Licht was 45-years-old when he qualified, finishing in the required top 10 percent of his field. However, with his first child due on the day of the race, Licht happily settled for qualifying (having completed the same distance in Lake Placid, New York) and opted out of the race.

Eventually, Licht retired from triathlon racing, but he doesn’t attribute children for the reason he stopped.
“I’m old and decrepit. There’s not much else I can do,” he says.
Aches, pains and a hip problem forced Licht to throw in his running shoes and stay in the clips. He swapped triathlons for cycling.
Former pro cyclist Hal Bezier says he, too, is feeling the effects of age. “I snap and crack nowadays,” he laughs. Bezier, closing in on 48, started racing in the pro circuit when he was 22. Competing in races all over the country, the Oklahoma native spent a couple years at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado.
“I raced with some big names – Phinney, Kiefel, Ekimov, the McCormack brothers – a lot of guys you wouldn’t know nowadays,” he says.
Reaching his 30s, Bezier says he began losing speed. By the time he moved to Traverse City, he retired from pro cycling.
Now, Bezier has taken the road his teammate got off years ago, by training for Ironman races, including the upcoming Panama City Ironman in November.
Aside from switching up sports, getting older has its advantages. Like a fine wine, cyclists get better with age, or at least, smarter. “I’ve learned to ride with the competition,” says Onthank. “I’m also using a more systematic training method, growing with experience.”
Learning to train better means training smarter, not pushing it too hard, getting the easy training to pay off, adds Masters teammate Lars Welton.
“You lose your fast-twitch (muscle) ability so you’re never as good a sprinter as you were before,” says Onthank, “Now, I feel like a have more endurance. The longer the race goes, the better I feel.”

Although the Masters category in cycling is for ages 35 and older, make no mistake -- these aren’t just a bunch of “old farts,” as some team members put it. In the world of cycling, there are five categories, or levels, of racing: level five being the most recreational cyclist, all the way down to level one, or those of professional caliber. A person has to be at a level two in order to compete on the Masters level.
“As a Masters, you could race in the pro group but you probably won’t win,” says Licht. “But if you race your age group you can compete.
“We go 30 mph around corners. It’s about competing, rather than just showing up. It’s not about riding in the pelaton and just being a pack fodder,” he says.
Say what??
Pelaton is the cycling term for a group of riders and pack fodder is someone who “just sits in the group and never wins the race,” Licht explains.
In others words, the Hagerty Masters Team gets the job done.
“We actually really do race and we have changed the way Masters Racers race in the state of Michigan,” he says. “Before, you would just sit in the pack and ride around in circles and have a sprint at the end.”
They may be getting older, but it seems the Hagerty Masters will continue taking it to the asphalt and feeling the burn.
“We show up at a race and attack,” Licht says. “It’s actually very painful to be in a Masters Race now.”

The Hagerty Cycling Masters Team will set the pace when they compete at the Second Annual Cherry Roubaix, Aug. 29 & Aug. 30. The criterium, or timed race course, will happen in the Old Town district of Traverse City on Saturday; followed by the road race, a multiple-lap course of up to 72 miles, along the roads of Leelanau Peninsula on Sunday. For more information, go to www.cherryroubaix.com. For more information on the Hagerty Masters Team, visit www.racehagerty.com.

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