Archive for April, 2009

My Dad marched to the beat of his own drum. He set his own standards, and while they changed through my childhood years, the bar and his expectations were always higher than I was tall.

rhg-wwiiDad was a product of a rough and tumble father and a mother who only knew how to love and care for others – no matter what. I guess his lack of emotion, his inability to truly display love, only became evident in hindsight – because as a kid, even when he failed to properly parent, I felt loved.

We didn’t spend a lot of time playing ball in the backyard, because Dad owned a small business and put in long hours. So instead, I often biked to Dad’s shop and swept or cleaned the work benches until he was ready to lock up – usually after Mom’s third or fourth phone call. On the way out of the shop door, he’d drop a dime in the pop machine and hand me an Orange Crush Soda for the short ride home.

My best Dad memories, though, involve the after-hours deliveries we’d make on warm summer evenings. Dad sold outdoor equipment and he would drive within a 100-mile radius to deliver a lawn tractor to a good customer. I’d help unload the equipment off the trailer and he would demo the machine, chatting up the new owner while I kicked at the stones eager to head back home.

We’d climb back into the red Dodge van he drove (purchased the year I was born) and he would steer us down Northwest Iowa county blacktops – back to Spencer. At five or six years old, I marveled at how many people knew my Dad as we made these trips together. I’d see a car or truck approaching us and nearly every single time, the driver in the oncoming car would wave – and Dad waved back.

“Who was that?” I’d ask him eagerly.

“I couldn’t quite make out the face,” Dad would say with a grin. Or, he’d say, “I think that was Jim from the hardware store,” or he would make up the names of other people he knew, completely BS-ing me.

Eventually, it dawned on me that we were out in the country and these other drivers were just being friendly, waving as they passed every car they met. But for a few years, at least, I believed Dad was the best-known man in the state of Iowa – or at least our corner of the state. He was my well-connected Dad and I was proud of him.

Dad died on Sunday and he’ll be buried back in my hometown today. We rarely spoke these past couple decades. Distance created distance and days lapsed into years.

But I’ll call upon the best memories I have of him. And if there’s a Heaven, I know my Dad has been greeted by the hundreds who waved at him on those summer evenings when it was just the two of us on the road.



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Hand Washing

All news outlets are covering the H1N1 Flu outbreak that is upon us. In my morning commute I listened to NPR coverage about this very topic. Clearly, it is the end of the world as we know it. Hundreds are dead in Mexico (only 20, actually), and state by state, cases (mild though they may be) are filtering their way into hospitals.

So I sent a text to my kids with this sage advice: “Wash your hands today – alot!”

Note, one does not eat pork to contract this flu virus. In fact, the virus spreads through airborne particles coughed or sneezed from someone sitting next to you in cubeville corporate America, or at the Denny’s where you get your breakfast, or in line at the grocery store, or from a doorknob recently licked by someone already infected. The bacteria in the air we breathe and from your very own finger finds its way into your system through your mouth, or eye, or nose.

How can you avoid catching this irritable (and deadly) virus and become a flu statistic? Three little words:




The Mayo Clinic offers this advice on hand washing. Read it. Learn it. Live it. Perhaps the most significant point to remember when washing your hands is to use both soap and WARM water. This basic combination fights off such infectious diseases as diarrhea, flu, cold germs and many other food-related illnesses.

So wash up. And stay the heck away from me.


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This isn’t the first time I’ve lauded the Silversun Pickups. Back in Aug. ’07 I posted this (click here for “Lazy Eye.”)

I picked up the latest Silversun Pickups record at Target last Saturday. It’s been in my CD player and playlist on the old iPod ever since. This effort…the music, guitar licks, drum beats, lyrics…remarkable. I have a soft spot for edgy rock – the alt style – and SSPU seriously delivers.

“Panic Switch” is the tune getting all the play time on stations like The Current. But my favorite of the 10 new songs is, “Catch and Release.” Unfortunately, the band hasn’t produced a video for this track. So here’ s video and lyrics for “Panic Switch.” More songs to come as this band tours.


It’s never worth my time.
Bleeds into my eyes.

I still
Sleep on the right side
Of the white noise;
Can’t leave the scene behind.

Could I be anything you want me to be
If so, is it meant to be seen?

Do you see yourself in a crowded room?
Do you think I’ll snitch? Are you pistol-whipped?
Will you step in line, or release the glitch?
Can you fall asleep with a panic switch?

When you see yourself in a crowded room,
Do you think I’ll snitch? Are you pistol whipped?
Will you step in line or release the glitch?
Do you think she’ll sleep with the panic?

And I’ll try to hold on tight tonight.
Pink slip, inviting me inside.
I want to burn skin and brand what once was mine,
But the red news came ripping in to fight.

If I go anywhere that you want me to go,
How will I know you’ll still follow?


I’m waiting and fading and floating away
I’m waiting and fading and floating away
I’m waiting and fading and floating away
I’m waiting and fading and floating.

I’m waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading and floating away
Waiting and fading and flailing and fading


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The Snvgp-karmstrong-s6-6_15_08outhwest Journal reports on the upcoming Minnesota Bike Festival.

Click here to see that newspaper’s coverage.

Take note, three-time Nature Valley Grand Prix champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, Kristin Armstrong, has confirmed she will ride in the 2009 NVGP as she readies herself for the 2009 World Championship Time Trials and Road Race in September. The field of 140 women will once again be forced to contend and compete with Armstrong’s power, performance and unparalleled time-trial expertise.

This year’s Festival is shaping up to be one of the best ever.


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Those of us with young children will appreciate this video from Fatty at fatcyclist.com.

I made my kids ride on their own when they were small – refusing the trail-a-bike method for fear they would be lazy and refuse to let go of their training wheels. After seeing this video, however, I wish I’d given them the carnival rides that Eldon is experiencing with his twin girls.

Katie Rides Rodeo Trail at Lambert Park from Fat Cyclist on Vimeo.


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One That Got Away

hamiltonTyler Hamilton won’t be riding in the Nature Valley Grand Prix or any other pro bike races. Seems his shortened career is the result of not one, but two positive doping tests. The most recent caused by DHEA (steroid) in a supplement he knowingly took.

The full story was reported on ESPN.com (click here).

The back story is depression. It runs in Hamilton’s family and has become his nemesis in life. I wish Hamilton well and hope he finds peace in his fight with depression.


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I once watched a truly terrible movie, “Kabluey.”  (Should have known it was gonna be bad when the flick starred Lisa Kudrow…but the premise of it seemed good). Afterward I thought to myself, “Why would anyone produce such a major waste of time?” Now, whenever I pass that DVD jacket at the local rental store, I laugh inside. Last week while shopping at the rental store, I noticed someone pick up the movie and I had to refrain from shouting, “Don’t rent it! It’s awful!” But I hushed myself.

Moments later in the store, I was checking out a flick called, “Lake City.” Little did I know it was equally sucky. We watched “Lake City,” on Sunday and at one point during the movie, I looked across the living room and said, “This feels like it was made for TV.” It wasn’t, but it was written, directed and produced like it was. Note to self: Sissy Spacek can’t really act and she can’t get by in movies on her good looks. What’s more, Dave Matthews can’t play the evil bad guy. His face is too kind.

Meanwhile, I’m thoroughly enjoying season one of “Deadwood,” which I’ve nearly completed watching. I’ve added season two to my Netfkix queue along with Will Smith’s  “Seven Pounds,” something I never saw in theaters.

The occasional bad movie resembles a bad cup of coffee. It’s bitter or weak and gets cold before you can finish it…but it’s still coffee and if you love coffee you drink it anyway.


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Holiday Weekend

It’s a Friday before the big holiday weekend. You know, the weekend-before-taxes-are-due holiday. The one in which most Christian-thinking types celebrate by sitting in a church pew then racing home to roast a huge-ass ham and stuff spit-shined kids’ faces with scalloped potatoes before they run back to their video games. And we wonder why obesity has become an epidemic in our country (one in five kids are obese…I just read the study earlier this week).

So this weekend I am not celebrating Easter. I’m, instead, spending part of my good Friday evening at a place in Saint Paul called The Chatterbox with the new girl and some of her compadres. Then Saturday we’ll bike and check out my friend Chris Hawkey’s live show in Otsego. On Sunday, we’ll bike some more and try the Sunday brunch at Kafe421.  And before you  know it, Monday arrives.

But it’ll be a great weekend. Spring has arrived in Minneapolis and my tax return is already in savings.

There’s also a new movie I’m interested in called, “Sunshine Cleaning” with Amy Adams (“Doubt”) and Alan Arkin. We may try to squeeze in this flick if time. Looking ahead a few months, The Jayhawks reunite in Minneapolis this summer for the band’s only North America concert at the annual Basilica Block Party. Tickets go on sale April 24.


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The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a bootstrap kind of event. It was founded by someone interested in creating awareness about the cycling community in the Twin Cities. It’s grown to become a major contributor to Children’s Hospital and the pediatric hospice and palliative care unit managed by Children’s. A pro race that brings in 300 men and women riders for one of the largest stage races in North America.

The race director and a bevy of volunteers make this annual event happen – and more than 60,000 spectators come to the various stages in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Mankato, and Stillwater to take in all the family-friendly fun and excitement during the five-day event. They do it on a shoestring budget and rely on PAYING sponsors who see value in associating their company name with a professional race that, year-after-year, exceeds expectations.

Yet some small businesses leech on to aspects of the event for free (you can read about one such example here). They do not provide support to the pro riders who come to Minneapolis for a week every June and bust their lungs racing. They make NO contribution in support of Children’s Hospital. They do not officially sponsor any part of the Nature Valley Grand Prix or the Minnesota Bicycle Festival, yet they assume sponsor-like rights to edge their way into the action, disrupting riders and the race itself if necessary.

The Nature Valley Grand Prix doesn’t pretend it can stop unseemly behavior at every venue. Race officials politely ask ALL fans to follow spectator guidelines, stay off the roads and out of the way of cyclists who are there to perform (and win) races. NVGP can’t take away signs or free speech (AS IF!).  But if some asshole with a sign and one to many beers in his gullet thinks it wise to run elbow-to-elbow with cyclists in the midst of a race, he’s gonna find himself quickly removed from the course.

Our race director and volunteers are putting on a respectable event that cyclists WANT to be part of. We have our guidelines and rules and we expect everyone who attends to adhere to them. And the racers expect the same amount of respect.


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I’m intolerant today. So…

To the Red River, Fargo, Moorehead – and the two 100-year-floods which happened within six years of each other:

Folks, if you knowingly live in a flood plain, quit your whiney complaining. Your options, as you have known since the time you bought the property included flood insurance, sandbags and flood waters. If standing in your living room waist deep in Red River water is no longer fun for you, simply move.

And, City Fathers of both Fargo and Moore(dunder)head: Who are the Ph.Ds who voted to build a public school in a flood plain. Sheesh. I guess just a few hundred thousand people live in Nort’ Dakota for a reason.


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