Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Best Muffin in the World

I would like to start off by saying that I have had a great life. I am not trying to brag, I am truly grateful for the experiences I have had. I have had the opportunity to see wilds of Alaska, New Mexico, Utah, and Montana where I have learned that browns, grays, and reds are beautiful.

I have had the opportunity to travel around Denmark, true that takes about 1 1/2 days. I have enjoyed exotic locations like Dohuk, Iraq where I saw Mazi Mart, the Wal-Mart of Iraq (only less rednecks).

I am in Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. I would love to return someday and hike these mountains

MAZI MART, anyone in Iraq need a huge flat screen t.v.?

I have taken chances and made a lot of mistakes. The best part about this is after making so many mistakes I have run out of pride. I believe that this is the pinnacle the hors categorie of life. Everyone should strive for pure unadulterated humility. When you are out of pride, you are no longer afraid to take chances because you have nothing to lose. In fact, I have a saying that epitomizes this concept "you ain't lived unless you have crapped yourself in Iraq." I would like to say that I have in fact lived, on several occasions. Trust me, they are serious when they say don't eat the food and water.

I still find myself at the bottom from time to time. But once again, it is not until you taste the bitter that you can truly enjoy the sweet. In this case the sweet comes in the form of a blueberry muffin. So here it goes.....

Four months after expected, I returned to my beautiful wife, daughter, son, and a brand new bike who were eagerly awaiting my arrival. It sat in the shop for the extra four months that I was gone. I was so excited to ride it that I immediately spent $160 on Nokian studded tires. I would ride up and down the road that wrapped around the ski hill on Fort Wainwright. I would ride to work even though it was 30 below. When it was time to move, I carefully packed it in a borrowed bike box and put it in the back of the van so I could ride it in warm weather when we got to Montana. Keep in mind that on March 2, 2007 it was -40 degrees in Fairbanks, Montana would be warm no matter what.

I purchased a cyclocross bike so that I would be able to use it on the road and some trails. My father in-law had just purchased a new Colnago C-50 and we were both excited to go for a ride. We decided to ride from Helena to Clancy, about 25 miles round trip. I was excited because this would be my inaugural "road" ride. I had always mountain biked and I did not know what to expect. What I did know was that nothing could beat me, I had just gotten back from a 16 month stint in Iraq and I was one tough guy. Besides, what I lack in ability I have always made up with stubbornness and brute strength.

Steve and I took off and ended up on the interstate pedaling South on I-15. As we rode down the interstate, I passed Steve because he was going to slow. The first 7 miles flew by, I passed through Montana City and looked back to see the distant silhouette of Steve. It was at that point that I noticed a slight crosswind that was coming from about the 10 o'clock direction. Determined I pressed forward. I cranked harder and harder, gaining even more distance on Steve. The 12.5 miles to Clancy flew by, I loved my bike and road riding, even though I had 32c cyclocross tires instead of 22c road tires. I waited and a short time later, Steve rolled up. He stretched for a couple of minutes and we headed back.

Once we were back on the interstate, I noticed the wind was coming from the 2 o'clock direction. This made no sense since I had a slight headwind on the way out, how could I have a head wind on the way back. So I ate a powerbar and proceeded to pedal after about 5 more miles I was done. Bonked.....B.O.N.K.E.D! I looked and Steve was once again a silhouette, only this time he was in front.

At one point I think he easily had 3/4 to one mile on me. Once we got back to Helena, he slowed up considerably and waited for me. I had made it back to Helena but one obstacle remained. Getting to Steve's house. Steve's house is located on L'Alpe d'Huez.

Notice that the very thing that makes the view from his house so beautiful, also makes it a living hell to get back to after a hard ride!

I would have died if I had to climb at that very moment. I think Steve knew I had blown up at about mile 17 so he suggested we stop for a muffin at a local bakery. I reluctantly agreed even though I had no money with me (yet another lesson learned). I ate a what little pride I had left but chased it down with the best muffin I think I have ever eaten.

I killed the rest of the ride, shifting into my highest gear and riding hard up the hill. I passed Steve and turned onto his street. As he came around the corner, I learned another valuable lesson. Real road bikes don't have a third chain ring.

But hey, I have crapped myself in Iraq, I can use my granny gear if I want!

p.s. Did I mention Steve is nearly twice my age!

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