Monday, February 11, 2008

Here I Come to Save the Day!

Or at least to save you, gentle reader, eagerly and breathlessly anticipating these last days of worry and preparation in a fun-to-read blog format........from being subjected to an endless dialogue between Abbott and Costello here, debating time zones and seconds and minutes and so on. Who cares? Death by frigid Bay water will be here soon enough - no sense asking for whom the bell tolls, or whatever you two clowns are doing. I say that with affection, of course.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, the life and times of Schleprock.

June 2nd – Tri-Shark

Suffice it to say that I suck less. I think this is what people actually say to me – “Hey Tasha, you sure sucked less this time around, huh?” I’m okay with that. I do have to give full credit to Precious though – the difference between dealing with D-POD and a lighter bike that ACTUALLY SHIFTS (this still amazes me, as you can tell), is astonishing. Based on this, I’ve decided to incorporate similar principles into the rest of my training plan, so I’ve started swimming with a car tire around my neck, and running while dragging rebar behind me. On race days, I’ll fly like the wind. In the meantime, D-POD sits in my garage, untouched. Sulking. Brooding. Scheming. I can sense it.

Friday, June 8th

Today I head out to do Tomato SeedlingTransport to a friend who has a B&B with her husband in southern Wisconsin – I figure I’ll get a bike ride in at the same time. Of course, the wind picks up as soon as I set out – this seems to be a recurring theme. After many turns and going far more miles than I was instructed, I realized that I somehow must have missed the “Miracle Hot Springs” or whatever the heck they’re called. Maybe it was an artesian well. Maybe this is my problem – I forget what I’m looking for. At least on the way back to their place, I have a marker: a huge turbine windmill that can be seen for miles around. I’ve been warned about the hills going back since they’re all uphill, but I zip up them pretty easily. Hey, could I possibly be getting in shape? No. The answer to that would be no.

Tuesday, the 12th – Biking the Bavarian Route

Out in Huntley, I head to the one stretch of hilly road to do my usual hill repeats. Boring as it may seem, I don’t mind this particular stretch of road, because there’s always something new and fascinating to ponder. A patch of yellow buttercups, whether or not the psycho shortcutting commuters will actually pay attention to the “blind hills” signs, the different levels of suckage involved in biking, whereby I put headwinds in the middle and false flats at the top. And then shortly past the llama farm, there’s what I think of as the abandoned Bavarian ghost Village. It’s a huge stretch of land, clearly unused for years, that still has various little buildings on it, though fewer than last year when I was riding out here. In surveying the decay, I like to ponder what might have caused this stalwart Bavarian clan to pick up and leave behind the little community that they carved out of the harsh Illinois prairie – perhaps the cheese was not to their liking, when compared to that of their homeland?

On the other hand, the place does look like it might have once been a kiddie amusement park of sorts, and I suppose with a big stretch of the imagination, the Bavarian chalets and chateaus could have been structures for mini-golf. As perhaps could be the windmills. Shrug. I guess we’ll never know.

Codicil: After doing some research (naturally, my faithful readers think), I discovered that indeed, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Behold, the truth behind the Bavarian Village, aka “Shireland.”

Quoted from a website about the man himself, who made his fortune in spray-paint can technology:

“Shireland opened on May 28, 1988. The park was 111 acres, included a 68,000 square foot circus tent and four 10,000 square foot exhibit tents. Smrt maintained that Shireland was a "completely original family adventure that will include a zoo, a circus and a county fair all wrapped into one". Smrt said that Shireland never attempted to compete with Great America, with its "high speed, gravity-defying rides". Instead, it was supposed to deliver a message of good conquering evil. He is quoted as saying "Some children today aren't allowed to enjoy their childhood without violence, drugs and other 'dragons' infringing on their dreams". With its musical show "Of Dragons and Dreams", Shireland attempted to deliver a positive message to kids.”

Sometimes......even I can’t make this stuff up.

While this mecca of enjoyment was only open one full season, that halcyon year of 1988, what’s great is that instead of selling his parcel of land to greedy developers, Smrt just picked up and left town, and left it all there. For the last SIXTEEN YEARS. Thomas Smrt, wherever you are, and even though your last name could use a few more vowels – I salute you.

The other great things about the Bavarian Route is that there are built-in snacks. No, you cretins, not the Slurpees at the gas station/convenience mart somewhere past the last hill. I’m talking about berries from all the wonderful mulberry trees along the road. In my usual fashion, I tell myself I can stop to pick some berries after every out and back. Which I do. Best. Berries. Ever. Though I almost sense the jealousy emanating from the cars that come whizzing by on occasion, using this road as their shortcut, as they see me with my bike at my side as I take a leisurely berry break on a nice sunny day. Rough life, I know.

It occurs to me that I wish I could gather some extra berries for my mom, and I sadly think how nice it would be if my bike had a little basket, for just such occasions. What a waste......hmm......

15 minutes later I’m happily on my way, with my precious cargo of mulberries safely stowed away in my Bento box, full to the brim.

Next up: the write-up you’ve all been waiting for, i.e. the HHH, aka the “What kind of damn crazy fools are you people anyway?” ride.

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