Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Birthday, Caveman

Ready to ride
A little after noon on Sunday the 21st of last month I received a text from my kid brother in Maine. It said, "Happy birthday, bro. Got any big plans for the day?" As a matter of fact I did. At that very moment my dad, Koval, Zooey and I were on our way north to the Cherney Meribel Caves County Park just north of Manitowoc for the first annual Caveman TT bike race. A local mountain bike club had got permission recently to build some bike trails and were holding this time-trial event to raise the funds to expand the trail system.
 I texted Jeff back tell him about my plans to enter a bike race to, "...spend my 45th trying to prove to myself I'm still 25." The weather was gorgeous for the end of October:  bright sunshine and well in the 60s. The caves park is a great destination as well as a well kept secret. For as long as lived in Wisconsin, I'd never heard of this park until recently. It features not only beautiful natural features and caves, but it's also home to a burnt out frame of a field-stone hotel that was once a premier destination for rail passengers of a bye-gone era that is now on the registry of haunted places in Wisconsin. The hotel was essentially the old fashioned version of a spa. Beneath the grounds there's a mineral spring that was considered medicinal for it's high mineral content, which made it a destination for travellers to soak in the healing waters. While I warmed up for my shot at the time trial, dad and Kov did some exploring. The course was great. I had made the drive up a week earlier to check it out and was excited to get on it again. I rode a 21min lap and went back to the jeep to relax, rehydrate, and zen for a bit before the event started. Dad, dog, and boy arrived a little bit later to share their tales of exploring. At 1:00 it was time for the event, and I went and got in line to take my turn at being Caveman. I took off three minutes after the rider in front of me and gave it all I had in the hopes that the guy who started three minutes after me, didn't catch up to me. I finished in 18min, and that included wiping out taking a corner too sharp and snapping my computer mount. I was pleased with my results in spite of the fact I certainly wasn't in the ranks with the real cavemen who were finishing in 15 minutes or less. After getting my official time, we went down to explore more trails. I drank from the mineral spring (it's delicious) and then we toured the main cave. After the tour, it was getting late and we needed to head back. Upon reaching the main staging area for the race, on the way back to the jeep, I heard my name being called. I had won a swag bag in the raffle! Back in Sheboygan we were meeting up with the girls (my mom, wife, and daughters) for a celebratory birthday dinner followed by the traditional cake and ice cream back at home. Before the drive home, I checked my phone to see another message from Jeff. It read, "Did your plan work?" I responded with, "I didn't break anything or throw-up. So I guess so!" Now let's go eat. This caveman needs cake!

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