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11/7/00 This weekend the Ice Man Cometh and the Iceman runneth me over. I'm talking about my first mountain bike race and what a blast it was. The race was held on Saturday Nov 4 and the weather turned out to be perfectly sunny and warm. Well, at least northern Michigan warm. If you came from Florida or California you'd probably think it was freezing. Some people were VOTING for rain, not on race day but the night before the race. You see, Iceman is known for it's sandy pits and sandy roads that seem to engulf your bike and give it a mind of its own. The thinking is that if it rains then the water will soak and pack down the sand making it easier and faster to ride through. I can be the first to tell you that the sand was everywhere and it was loose, deep, fluffy, and as hard as ever to get through. I VOTE to make the Iceman known as the Sandman.

I VOTED that my family and I would drive up Friday afternoon. It took us about four hours and for me that felt like an eternity. I haven't done a long, but it felt long to me, car drive since I used to drive to Milwaukee for Super Week. All in all the drive went well because lil'Frankie slept practically the whole way. At the time this was great but when we arrived at the hotel my boy who is normally charged like a Duracell was charged like a Formula One's car battery. We were tired from the drive but he had no intention of resting or going to sleep. We went out to eat and after our meal lil'Frankie VOTED to go to McDonald's so that he could play in one of those three storied playland things with all the tubes. While we sat there, I eating a Butterfinger McFlurry, lil'Frankie ran all over hell and high water. Before we knew it lil'Frankie went from the first level in the tubes to the third level in the tubes (he's eighteen months.) At the end of the tube was a steering wheel - he loves these - so lil' Frankie was happy in his own little driving world. After a half-hour of watching him play we were tired but couldn't get lil'Frankie out of the top tubes. Either he didn't know how to get out since these things are mazes, or he was scared, or maybe he just didn't want to leave. I think he just wanted to see his dad climb inside the tubes and climb up to the third level to retrieve him. That's exactly what happened. I had to climb in these two foot wide kiddy tubes to the top of the McDonald playland and get lil'Frankie out. I'm thankful I didn't get stuck otherwise my wife would had a seizure from laughing harder than she already was. I can't say things calmed down much when we got back to the room but eventually we VOTED to put him down and get some sleep.

The morning of the race I picked up my race packet with numbers. I put my number plate on my bike and pinned my number on my jersey. At the bottom of my number were two perforated tabs with a small number on them. The tabs said "Do not pin." So I didn't pin them, I tore them off. Well, come to find out the first tab was for the referee at the start of the race to show that you started. The second tab was for the finish to keep track of what place you finished. I had neither tab but I still started and finished. I lined up on the front row for the start. It was not because I battled to get there but more out of getting there first and waiting for the start. By the time the start took place I was in the second row. Out of the blocks I was last in my group, that damn clipping in fast thing kills me. At the entrance to the trail I was in third position and I was sitting pretty. Like I said the trail is full of sand pits and deep trenches of sand. The first couple sections I got through the sand okay but then all of a sudden guys would dive left or right and I would be stuck going wherever I was going. They knew the lines of where to go and a couple times I would get so deep in the sand I had to stop and move over to the side and then chase back up. This happened a few times where I would get bogged down but each time I would catch them. Remember, this was still only three miles into the twenty-seven mile race. At mile seven came the first single track - I guess you could call it that. I didn't like it very much. Again, I was third in line and half way through my front wheel got caught on a tree stump and I crashed. I got up, got my chain on again, and started chasing. By the end of the single track I had a good amount of time to catch up and I chased, chased, chased and chased. I plowed along the whole rest of the race trying to catch the leaders. A thirty mile mountain bike race is long! I realized this at mile ten when I was flattened by fatigue. I couldn't believe how much longer I had to go -and chase. At this point I didn't bother getting out of the way for anything. With my Mavic tubeless wheels I went where I wanted and didn't worry about flatting and it worked. Finally, after miles of chasing I started seeing some bodies in front of me. Eventually I started catching some stragglers and with five miles to go I actually caught a group of three. I VOTED to sit up and take a rest for a bit. A little later with about two miles to go I attacked on a small climb. I figured this was my last chance to try something and to see what would happen. I'll tell you what happened-not much. They easily followed my wheel. With one mile to go, I swear I saw "one kilometer to go," one of the riders attacked in the final single track. I was trying to hang on and the whole time I was thinking, "Man, this is a long kilometer." That last part of the single track felt longer than the last kilometer in a mountain top finish. Then again it was one mile and not one kilometer. At the finish I had no idea what place or group I was in. The whole day I went as hard as I could chasing and once I caught a group I was happy to finally be with someone. Come to find out Steve Tilford won. I never even saw what color jersey he was wearing. I finished in the group that was going for third place - go figure. I placed fifth.

With the presidential election today there are two priorities I have to mention. The first and most important is to read my article. You may subtly pick up on some subconscious words. Secondly, act on these subconscious thoughts.

Earlier this week I went to a local cyclecross training work out. It was held in a public park and we pretty much followed the local high school's running cross country path. Nothing very techinical except for the many barriers we set up to practice our dismounts and mounts. About half way through the training we were stopped by an irate women who was walking her dog in the park. She told us that she had a "major safety issue with us" riding in the park. We apologized and then pointed out to her that her dog was not on a leash, breaking the law, and that dogs are not even allowed in the park. She proceeded to voice her opinion a little more and that she intended to "follow up on this." We did one more lap and then the police showed up and called us over. We stopped again and went over to explain what happened. The lady called the police and reported terrorists bike riders raging around the park, harassing children, tearing up the Halloween decorations, and causing a "major safety concern to everyone in the park." Just a note - it was dusk on Halloween and she was the only person in the park. She should have been home getting her candy ready. We talked with the police for a shorter time than we talked with the lady. The cops had no problem with our cross training and we just chalked it up to a bored woman with no Halloween spirit. It goes to show that no matter where you live there are always some non-supporters.

Thanks for reading my articles all year. I now have a two week break, maybe shorter depending on my team situation. As soon as I know my plans for next year "bike.com" will receive a report. I then will have another two weeks off after that. I will leave you with some homework. If you have an idea for my next article in December or if there is something you would like to see an article on let me know. Ciao..frankie

Hi, I just got a phone call today that bike.com is going under. I think they shut their site and buisness today. I'm making some phone calls and e-mails to explore what to do next. Thanks..frankie

I, like you, just read about the investigation of the US Postal Service team in last years Tour de France. I just want to stop this in the bud before people start talking and insinuating everything. They accuse the team of passing garbage trash bags full of products to a German vehicle for disposal. The German vehicle then dumped the products on the side of the road. This was all brought to light by an anonymous letter to a newspaper. What I will add to this is that US Postal Service along with many other teams in the Tour hire a professional disposal unit to properly dispose of used medicine and tools. The team has an orange bin, like in the doctor's office, where they put everything used. The disposal unit shows up, I'm not sure when or how often, and professionally removes the bin to properly dispose of it according to French law. This is how all the teams operate, they do not have secret German cars making rendezvous in secret places. It would be prudent if the French had all their facts together before they start press releases and investigations.

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