Since I have my big “A” race tomorrow (the Wauconda Sprint Triathlon), I’m heavy into taper mode, and thus only plan to ride 60 or so miles today. Starting in Delavan, WI, making my way to Sharon, then back to Delavan. My rides all wind up in Sharon these days, and that’s deliberate – it’s because when I first started doing really long rides a couple of years ago, somehow I’d always wind up in the town of Sharon, the township of Sharon, the county, etc. Everywhere I looked, signs for Sharon. So now I figure, why mess with fate? If all roads lead there anyway, just accept it and act accordingly.
Oddly enough, my ride there is uneventful – even though I yet again wonder what it is about Wisconsin road-layers that they’re incapable of putting down roads without constant jarring seams.
Wisconsin Road-Layer #1: Ayup, woudja hand me that thermos right there, Fred? Wanna take myself a drink of scalding hot coffee while we’re trying to lay this pavement here.
WRL #2: Sure, here ya go Stan, but be careful, it’s scalding hot.
WRL #1: Ayup, I got it, just need a sip or tw.....ayeeeeeeeeeee! Da-yum, that’s some hot coffee there! (Stan jumps up, knocking into the pavement-laying knob, causing a temporary halt in the flow of tar.)
WRL #2: Stan, lookee what you done there now. Another one of them gaps in the road.
WRL #1: Da-yum, I better try not to do that again, though heck, who’ll notice? Say, couldja hand me that there thermos?
And so on.
I make it to Sharon without incident, and make my way to the new Sweet Shop, which has replaced the coffee shop of yore. I had assumed that the “sweets” in Sweet Shop referred to candy, so I’m prepared to just have coffee. Instead, what’s this? Homemade donuts?? Yes, the sweets are in fact pastries of all sorts – donuts, turnovers, brownies even. Normally I wouldn’t even think of having a donut – well, outside of a training ride or race, that is – but I’m tapering, so that basically means that donuts aren’t just acceptable, they’re required. As I sit outside on the little bench having my chocolate donut and Pepsi, I think of how great it is that I really don’t have to train for anything, and can just goof around like this. I mean, training other than for the super-important A-race that is the Wauconda Sprint. Yeah, other than that.
I wander back in to get a coke for my aerodrink for my ride back (a girl needs her caffeine), and make the sort-of mistake of telling the storeowner (she who makes the donuts) what a great little shop she has, and asking if she’s going to sell different things in the winter. Half an hour later, I walk out, now knowing the woman’s history and background (she grew up in Alaska, in a military family), and her entire business plan (pumpkin bars and breads in the fall, fudge in the winter, and she’s adding to the lunch menu, with real Chicago-style hot dogs and Henny Penny broasted chicken). Those Wisconsinites can be a chatty bunch. I head back to Delavan, lamenting the lack of adventure on this particular sojourn into Wisconsin. I feel rather let down.
Deanna has made it up to WI, and so we set off for the Fontana Lobster Boil/Steak Fry where we’ll meet up with ubercool Mike from the tri club, who has a place up in Lake Geneva. But as soon as we get to the park, our eyes are irreparably damaged by the sight of an older woman, probably late 60s, schlumping along towards us wearing a black loose-knit sweater, the type that would be a cover-up for a bathing suit at the beach.....except she’s not wearing that bathing suit underneath it. Nada. Nothing. This vision of undulating flesh, well - I just have to ask – why, WHY, does god let such things happen in this world? Why such cruelty? It’s beyond my understanding.
Later, after we get our lobster, we look around for somewhere to sit, and finally find a table with several spots. A few minutes after we sit down, a guy sitting near us comments on my “Life is crap” t-shirt that I’m wearing, and I explain that it’s kind of an inside joke, since I did indeed crash my bike just like the hapless guy on the shirt. He seems to accept that. Then he starts chatting with us again – to inform us that:
a) He’s the true leader of the free world, Obama is just a figurehead
b) Wisconsin is in cahoots with the Russians
c) You can read all about it if you google “qbneedsjob.com”
Somehow I manage to keep a straight face as he’s telling us all this and more in a very matter-of-fact manner – and my occasional bursts of incredulous laughter, I somehow manage to disguise as enthusiasm. Though of course I have questions.
Him: Obama is out there, but I give the orders.
Me: What kind of orders? What do you mean?
Him: Orders that protect the integrity of the U.S. militarily and otherwise.
Me: But specifically, what kind of orders? Give us an example.
Him: I spoke to North Korea today, and Honduras will be tomorrow.
Me: Yes, but specifically – give us an example of one order you gave yesterday.
He dodges that and then veered off into more details on the whole Wisconsin-Russia thing – apparently Stalin sent his daughter here way back when to settle in Wisconsin and get the ball rolling, and now the whole state is just a beehive of foment and subversive activity. Especially the areas around Dodgeville. My beloved Dodgeville? What about.......Sharon??
Me: Wait. ALL of Wisconsin is aligned with the Russians? What about the town of Sharon? Don’t tell me one of my favorite little towns is just a sleeper cell of Russian activity?!
Him, looking pensive: Sharon, hmm.....
Me: Don’t tell me it’s all just a big cover! Sucking us in with pastries, as they sell our secrets to the Russians!
Him: Actually, there are a lot of good-hearted people in Sharon. They’ve managed to stay out of things – that town has a very Norman Rockwell aura to it.
Him: But then there’s the town that refers to itself as Stailna, to honor Stalin.....
And so it went. At one point he pulled out an “official document” – no, really, that’s what it said on the top of this poorly mimeographed sheet of paper, from the “Dept. of the Air Force”. That was his proof that he truly was a government emissary – the one in charge, so to speak. I did make one mistake, and that was when I looked over to see what Deanna was tapping on her iPhone to post on Facebook: “Deanna is sitting next to a crazy person at the lobster boil. I am sure Tasha will explain him on the blog. He thinks Wisconsin is controlled by the Russians.”
Thank god that as I burst into uncontrollable laughter, “Jack Pickens” (his name according to his many websites that you find if you do indeed google qbneedsjob.com – one of his satellite websites being wisconsinhelpingtherussians.com – and then there are the 8 pages of his rantings on another site) is chatting with the people sitting next to us and doesn’t notice. Whew! I just don’t relish trying to explain to someone who thinks he’s the most rational person in the world why exactly we’re laughing at basically everything he’s saying. Especially since he’s also brought in 9/11 and its connection to the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin’s history of eating people (Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer), the people working for him who have psychic abilities, his Corvette and other untold riches, etc.
Luckily, he soon decides it’s time to move on, and as he does, he wishes us well and tells me to “make sure (I) use my magical powers.” Hey, how did HE know about those? Then I chat with the Wisconsinites sitting next to us – turns out that good ol’ Jack is a bit of a legend in his own time – or at least around there. Has always been odd, but is in fact rich, having inherited a lot of money, and does have a Corvette that he likes to park by the Starbucks in Lake Geneva and polish up. Okay then. As we walk away, I jokingly say “Dosvidanya!” to the Wisconsinites......and get a chipper but perfectly pronounced “dosvidanya” from one of them in return. Speaking Russian, here? Hmm. And is it a mere coincidence that the colors for the U. of Wisconsin are.......bright red? Hmm.......
As we're walking off, I look at Deanna and Mike and note the following: "See, and everyone always thinks I just MSU on the blog. Now you've seen for yourself - I don't have to."
Yeah, they have pretty much no rebuttal, as we're all collectively shaking our heads. At least I can say this about Wisconsin: it never disappoints.
About the Wauconda Tri, two things that bear mentioning:
a) A race is starting waaaay too early (6:30 in this case) if you’re taking the dogs out when it’s still dark out, and they’re both yawning. Repeatedly.
b) When you’re out on your rides and you keep having problems with your wheel rubbing against your brake, it’s probably best to do something other than thunk the wheel against the ground a couple of times and pronounce it “fine.” Though, I do appreciate the unexpected challenge of doing the entire bike portion of a race with said brake rubbing against said wheel. I’m just sayin.’
As is always the case post-race, drinks were in order.
Health update: A quick note to dispel the impression that I’m a complete and total dumbass all the time – I do have an appointment with a doctor to figure out this cyst thing, yay! Many many thanks to Susan S., who put in a call to her fellow doctor to have her squeeze me in, because she was the one booked until December. And that doctor then called me, and she sounded very nice, so whew, at least there’s progress. As we say in Russia, za zdorovye!