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Archive for the ‘Saint Paul’ Category

It’s winter in the Upper Midwest. And because December and January have delivered on their promises to bring snow and cold to Minnesota, many local friends and coworkers are now lamenting winter’s stranglehold on the Twin Cities.

I truly don’t mind that the mounds of snow at the end of the driveway are past my shoulder in height. And, I could care less that so far this year we’ve received an above average amount of snow from Mother Nature. Consider it her gift to those of us bold enough to live here.

Still, it’s amusing how weather conditions dominate so much of our day-to-day lives.

In the past 72 hours I’ve heard or seen a fistful of news packages about seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a condition caused, primarily, by lack of natural sunlight exposure. Like many forms of depression, a person with SAD can wind up unable to perform normal daily activities, like brushing his or her teeth. It’s a for-real disorder and I’m not making fun of it. We’ve all experienced those blah/blues moments…they just seem to peak in mid-January and February for those in the northern hemisphere.

Commute times to and from work are another sore subject. Just this Monday/Tuesday, the Twin Cities metro received between 3 and 5 inches of fresh snow. Of course it all fell during morning and afternoon rush hour periods. The result? Spin out accidents and traffic slowed to a standstill for practically 36 hours. Now a normal, non-resident might think most Minneapolites and Saint Paulville people would become used to winter driving conditions once February rolled around.

Wrong-o.

During this morning’s slippery-road-condition-commute I was witness to Escalade drivers weaving in and out of traffic like it was a July 4 weekend trip to the north woods. Plus, I wound up behind two different cars with rear windows completely covered in a layer of snow driving up 35W in the fast lane. Hellooooo snow scraper/brush thingy?!?! Let’s be a little courteous and try fixing the visibility problem before taking the car onto the freeway. Oh, if you have a rear window wiper built into your Toyota Rav4, turn it on for chrissakes!

Fortunately, in another 58-88 days the bulk of winter’s blast will be over and Minnesotans can start bitching about the humidity and high winds blowing in from Canada or North Dakota.

Come August, though, I’ll be eyeing my cross country skis and pining for fresh snow.

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Saint Paul Downtown Criterium

The 2010 Nature Valley Grand Prix got underway on Wednesday, June 16 in Saint Paul.

The morning Time Trial event started with nearly 300 men and women riders competing in “the race of truth.” That evening, the first criterium races were held in downtown Saint Paul.

While a new venue, downtown Saint Paul drew several thousand spectators and provided the pro bike racers with a longer, more challenging, course. The end result proved to be exciting with a sprint finish in the women’s race, with HTC Columbia rider Chloe Hosking grabbing the win. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling) and Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12, finished second and third respectively.  The men’s race was dominated by Kelly Benefit Strategies for the first 37 laps. In a shake down during the last three laps, United Healthcare p/b MAXXIS grabbed the front. The international finish included Australian Hilton Clark and Kiwi rider Karl Menzies (riding for United Healthcare) finishing 1 and 2; and Italian Luca Damiani (Kenda Pro Cycling p/b GearGrinder) finishing in third.

Thursday night, the racers traveled to Cannon Falls where they met with unfavorable weather that included National Weather Service-issued tornado watches, hail and high winds reaching 60 miles per hour. The men’s race got started as planned at 5 p.m. Central time, but by 5:35, officials decided not to start the women riders on the 66-mile road course; and the men were called back in with the race being neutralized.

Friday night, the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis will once again get the Minneapolis Criterium along the popular sections of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street. The one-mile-long course is pancake flat and includes plenty of turns where the anticipated crowd of 15,000 will be able to enjoy all the racing action.

Full race results are available here: http://www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com/Grand-Prix/Results/2010-Results/St–Paul-Crit-Men.aspx

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Minneapolis – This year’s edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix will go “old school,” with a return to Eddy Merckx-style racing for the individual time trial that opens this year’s USA Cycling National Racing Calendar event.

Kristen Armstrong competing in the 2009 Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage 1 Time Trial.

Executive Director David LaPorte said the Nature Valley Grand Prix has opted to invoke a new USA Cycling rule that allows race organizers to specify that “massed-start legal” bicycles are required for time trials. The rule will be enforced for the six-mile (9.6 km) St. Paul Riverfront time trial on June 16.

“The decision was made partly to simplify logistics for the teams and partly out of fairness,” LaPorte said. “We have a time cut in the time trial to ensure that no one loafs to stay fresh for the criterium that night. But in the past, we have had some strong riders cut primarily because they did not have time trial bikes. We have also had some riders in the past who haven’t competed because of the expense of bringing two bikes, particularly with the outrageous charges the airlines are imposing.”

LaPorte said he doesn’t expect the change to significantly affect the overall results of the five-day, six-stage race.

“The time trial is only six miles and the last mile is an eight-percent climb,” he said. “Also, with the new road race in Menomonie, Wisconsin, the seconds gained or lost in the time trial are likely to be insignificant. Unlike the old Mankato road race, this course will be very hilly, with lots of opportunities for aggressive teams to shatter the pack. If big time gaps don’t form, it will likely be because the teams haven’t taken advantage of the terrain.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix will work with USA Cycling officials to spell out the specific restrictions regarding aero equipment (wheels, helmets, etc.), which will ultimately appear in the race bible.

The decision to prohibit time trial bikes is certainly not unique, as several international races (Tour of Qatar, Tour of Langkawi, etc.) have banned time trial bikes and aero equipment for years. In the U.S., the team time trial stage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia featured the same restrictions.

Danny Van Haute, director of the Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Kenda professional men’s team, said the decision to prohibit time trial bikes will level the playing field. “Not everyone can buy time trial equipment and if the pro teams have this equipment, it’s not fair to the riders who don’t,” he said. “I’ll bet the results will be the same with time trial bikes as they would be without.”

Team Vera Bradley Foundation Director Lisa Hunt said it is disappointing for her team’s bicycle sponsor not to be able to showcase its time trial bikes. “However, in the interest of being fair and equitable for all parties involved, I support the decision,” she said. “Clearly, our strongest time trial riders will be strong on a road bike or a time trial bike. So it’s not like we are at a disadvantage.”

LaPorte said he will poll all women’s and men’s teams after the race – as he has done in previous years – to get an idea of whether the new rule should be retained for 2011.

About the Nature Valley Grand Prix
The Nature Valley Grand Prix, which takes place in Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, is the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2010 race will include stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Menomonie, and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. More information can be found at: www.NatureValleyBicycleFestival.com

About Nature Valley
Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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Marrying

On Feb. 20, 2010, I’ll be married.

July 2009This major event presents the most excitement and anticipation I’ve felt about life and the future since the birth of my first child. The reasons for the excitement are many and varied.

First, she’s an amazing woman and I feel lucky to have her in my life. At no time have I held such a connection with another person. The magnet-like force that pulls and tugs on us is unlike anything…ever. People talk about North Stars and soul mates and true love. Nothing is more true than the two of us sharing this life of ours.

Another aspect of my relationship that makes it so unbelievably special is the simple fact that this time, it’s my choice. I’m not being coerced or chided into a decision I might regret. I’m not pressured by society or people or life circumstances or insecurities. We have chosen each other and there simply is no alternative lingering out there casting doubt.

Getting married again isn’t just about my wants and needs. There are kids involved – mine and hers – who want to see us happy and living life in the way we hoped life would be. Truth is, their happiness and acceptance is highly important to the decisions we’re making as a couple. We’ll always be in “mom” and “dad” mode to our respective kids.

So in a few weeks, we’ll get together – immediate families – at The Saint Paul Hotel. We’ll exchange vows and rings. We’ll take the steps we’re ready to take to live our lives together and promise to watch each other’s back til the very end. And for the next 40-plus years, I’ll be at her side no matter what life throws at us.

It’s where I choose to be…married to a woman I can respect and love forever.

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