Sunday, December 24, 2006

Prarie Roubaix, A Minnesota Classic is Born!

posted by Neil Eerdmans

Wild ride yesterday and fulfillment of a dream of mine that I have had for some time. I am a pro cycling fan and love to watch old films of races over and over again. In fact, my wife will say, "oh, It is Phil again." Referring to Phil Ligget's voice that is on everyone of my tapes and DVDs. After watching these races enough I wanted to experience the mud and grit of the Paris-Roubaix for myself. I did yesterday on my three speed mountain bike.

The electronic age has its good and bad points like everything else but one of the greatest points is having mailing lists where you can reach 100 people in one shot. I have finally found a group of people crazy enough to try just about anything on a bike. It also has provided a way for me to meet some of the neatest people that I would have never met or kept in contact without e mail. The race that I cherished so much yesterday would have never happened! The potential of the electronic age is limitless on so many levels! To check out coverage of this crazy event go to...

The route started and finished in Fletcher, MN and consisted of 4 laps on a 10 mile, 50/50 mix of dirt and paved roads. The dirt was mainly ice, snow and mud. 6 brave souls showed up (Neil, Bernie, Skibby, Dan, Tom and Mike) with Dan earning a solo victory after he attacked on a particularly treacherous part of the course. He graciously donated the $10 prize money to Team Strongheart. All proceeds for Team Strongheart benefit Camp Odayin, a camp for kids with heart disease.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Passion. It's what drives us to do great and wonderful things. It's the founding principle of what drives Team Strong Heart.

If you hadn't already guessed, we're all pretty passionate about cycling and last night's manifestation definately raised a few eyebrows.

It had snowed about 1 to 2 inches of wet, heavy snow here and the bike trail was still open around Elm Creek Park Preserve. I could hardly wait to get out and ride it. Threw my studded winter tires onto my 'cross bike and headed out. The temperature was a very comfortable 31 degrees and the snow on the trail was completely untracked. I could only ride about half as fast as usual, and there was no wind noise, so you could really appreciate the complete silence, the soft humming of the tires and the muffled popping of the gently falling ice pellets against my clothes and helmet. Turning on my bike light after it got dark, transformed the park into a shimmering wonderland. that's passion!

Funny thing about's not always easy to understand. As I rolled out of my neighborhood I was greeted to a few disbelieving and nervous smiles/chuckles that essentially begged the question, "are you crazy or just plain stupid?" One of our good friends that lives across the street even called my wife and asked "Does Bernie even want to make it to the Race Across America?!! I said to myself, 'Is that Bernie? There's ice under that snow! I'm telling on him!'" My wife told her that "yes, indeed, he is nuts, and thank you very much for watching out for him." Later that night when they met up at a neighborhood women's party, the neighbor commented again about my "dangerous enthusiasm", and my wife explained, "Studded snow tires..." Our neighbor's expression, along with the rest of the women at the table, dawned understanding as they all chorused, "Ohhhh..."

Unusual...yes. Crazy...a bit. Passionate...absolutely!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

River Bottom Moxie

I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy...Kostik, you are my hero!

Greg Kostik showed serious Moxie on our 3 hour MTB training ride at the river bottoms today!

This picture is of the raft crossing at 9 mile creek...only during the winter, the raft is taken out and the creek is usually frozen by now. Recent warm weather reopened the water and left the only available "crossing" over a tree that had fallen across the creek. I'd like to point out that this is not the kind of tree anyone would typically look at and say, "Oh yeah, no problem." This tree started out only about 18 inches wide and ended around 8 inches wide crossing a 25 foot span.

Greg kept his title as Ride 2 Eat's crash test dummy on 9 mile creek not by riding down the bank and crossing on the ice before checking it as usual, but by crossing this spindly little tree while carrying his bike across with the grace and precision of a Flying Wallenda! Unreal.

My brain automatically went into self preservation mode and the argument against it was futile. Even the two MORC riders who were kind enough to stick around and watch this potentially amusing adventure come to the punch line were in disbelief. There was no way they were going to try crossing.

Before I knew it, Greg "shimmies" back across the tree, grabs my bike, crosses back over and tells me to "come on...just shimmy across". 6'3" don't shimmy. That and my shoes were slippery. So the great advice from the other side was to take my shoes off. Ok, fine. Shoes off and threw them over to the other side...brilliant. Gloves were slippery too, Ok, fine. Gloves off and threw them over to the other side...Einsteinian. At this rate, I'm either going to make it across or be stark naked with all my clothes on the other bank. Gotta go now. Only there's only one way my brain will let me. Namely the "scoot across on my butt while straddling the log" method. I'll let your imagination paint the picture. No pride here. The going was pretty smooth until I had to "scoot over" the stump of a branch kindly sticking straight up in the middle of the span. I finally made it across without getting wet. Back to riding and trying to shove the thought of the return trip into the back of my mind.

The return was a bit more ominous since we had to start out at the skinny end of the tree. Again, Greg trotted across with his bike in hand, came back over, grabbed my bike and back across. Eeesh, I ain't got it. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to take my shoes off again...not like I was actually going to try the same tight rope act that Greg can pull off. Only one snag for my crossing method...that pointy stub of a branch was not only sticking up, but was now pointing TOWARDS me.

Fortunately, I again avoided getting wet but Lo, my darling wife, THAT's how I ripped my pants.

Dec. 16

Inspiration for Prarie Roubaix by Neil

Here is one for you... Saturday morning I get up and we are hanging
around at my father in laws new cabin home... VERY COOL! Everyone is
sipping coffee and chatting when my brother in law walks in and says, I
think we are missing our ride, Mike and his buddies are riding north out
of Rockford on the White Pine trail at 10. I responded by saying I
don't think I have missed my ride.

I asked how far I was from the trail and my brother in law Bill, also a
bike racer, said ten miles... Well, that was perfect, I could cut them
off. So I took off on Bill's mountain bike and headed for Cedar Springs
as fast as I could. When I got to Cedar I got some sugar for my bottles
and stood on the trail.

Now this trail looks a lot like the Arenberg Forest when you see the
riders hit the Cobbles in Paris-Roubaix. I didn't know which way to
head until I saw that Mike had left a message that informed me that they
were still south of me. So I started down the two track rails to
trails. Two track, not cinder. Wonderful. The sun is fighting to get
through and there is a strong south wind that I am riding into,
thrilling, a spring classic in December.

I got to the paved trail and just as I did I spot Mike, Tom and LeeJay.
TOm and Lee Jay don't know me so I yell out "MAKE ROOM!" in a real
grouchy voice. Mike is laughing while there other two that don't know
me that well don't know what to think. The next thing I know we are
heading north on the two track with the wind on our back talking about
RAAM. They are very interested. It is fun to talk about and it is even
better imagining that we are in a four up break away in the late stages
of Paris-Roubaix. We take turns on the front and chat about RAAM
strategy until we hit Sand Lake. Here we take a left and ride through
town and are heading west out of town when we take a left into the head
wind. Very cool! Moist dirt road and on cue Mike puts in a great pull.
The dirt is loose and moist, Spring Classic all the way. I take a stong
pull as we head back for Rockford. Mike is looking great, he races with
the Cat. 2's in the summer and holds his own, he hasn't lost any!
We take our positions on the front and start pushing it. We are going
along a fence line that could easily be in Flanders. Perfect!

We get back to the trail and let those guys catch on. Mike and I keep
the pace high. The ride is 2 and half hours in when I drop them off at
the pavement. The 12 miles home are tough but great at the same time.
I am spent but to get in a classic like that in December in the Midwest
is priceless!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Winter Training at the Foleydrome!

So what do you guys do to train in the winter? I've heard this question a lot over the past few weeks since the weather got a little chilly.

Dr. Dan has us all on base building and strength training for the next few months so getting the miles in can get pretty creative.

Neil and I were riding the beloved "Foleydrome" which is a Park and Ride garage close to home that is lit, covered and empty in the evenings. Each lap is about 0.5 km. Add a couple of friends (Jay and Dave) and a couple hours goes past in no time!
In true crazy Minnesotan winter style, I went out for a 2 1/2 hour training ride with my trusty Niterider light in the near freezing drizzle before riding the Foleydrome. It was simply beautiful and coming home to a hot shower was the icing on the cake!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thanks Neil!

After a 10 year break from skate skiing (pun intended since I stopped when I broke a ski) and me just never getting around to taking it up again, Neil made me an offer I couldn't refuse. "Hey man, I've got an extra pair of skis so why don't you come out and try it." Why are simple words always the most powerful? Thanks Neil!

I met Neil, Jay and Zabby out at Elm Creek at 6:30am. Still dark but the lights were on and the snow was perfect! It was such a rush to get out on the skis again and put in a couple of hours while watching the sun rise!

The day got better when Neil, Rotach and I met Evan and Noah in Stillwater for a long training ride in the glorious sunshine. Man, this day was a 10+!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Dr. Dan, Team Physiologist & Nutritionist

Dr. Dan
RAAM Team Physiologist and Nutritionist = Dr Dan

PhD = Physiology and Kinesiology at UMN specialty in bioenergetics and sports performance

MS = Nutrition and Physiology at UMN specialty in bioenergetics, disease prevention and health

Retired professional tennis and basketball athlete Minnesota Student-Athlete Year 1969 Little All-American at St. Olaf College / Basketball and Tennis

Presently competing in USTA Senior Nationals Tennis in Tucson

Adjunct Assistant Professor in UMN Medical School / Physiology Clinic and Medical Director for Children's Hospitals and Clinics of MN
Kohl's PowerCubed Exercise Medicine Clinic

Consultant for elite amateur and professional athletes and teams
including the following -
UMN men's and women's teams
Vikings, Twins, Wild, Timberwolves, and Phoenix Coyotes
Olympic Training Teams for speed skating, nordic skiing, hockey Other

Unique athletes include:
Mount Everest climbers
other RAAM teams
Iron Man Triathletes
Ultra athletes
Tour de France teams

Dr Dan can be reached at -
1. UMN office 612/625-2136 or
2. CHC office 651/220-6360

Bill Nicholson, Crew Chief

Bill Nicholson, Crew Chief
Address: Dinkytown, US

Age: 47

What got you started in athletic endurance events, and what attractsyou to RAAM?
Upon first hearing of ultra-marathon and randonneuring events, I was drawn to them. First as a amateur participant, and then as a supporter. The character of individuals drawn to these events is so absurdly maniacal, that I want to join them.

Family status: Married, at least until I join the RAAM team…

Education: Scandinavian Studies
Computer and Media Technician at Change Masters Incorporated (hvad andet kunne man lave hos sådan en uddanelse?). Also a USA Cycling Race Official.
Why are you interested in raising funds and awareness for Camp Odayin?
I spent many years as a teenager at summer camps; first as a camper, later as a staff member. Helping to give these kids a better experience will be a small bit of payback for my experiences.

Other sports of interest, if any:
Team Handball and Curling. I think cycling makes my interests a trifecta for strange.

Best Performance ( not necessarily the fastest, just your favorite):
My first solo century while touring across Wisconsin. It was only supposed to be 50 miles… Maps: who needs them? (this from the guy who is supposed to keep us on track!)

Outline of your typical weekly training:
Sunday: Race Official
Monday: Race Official
Tuesday: Race Official
Wednesday: Time Trial
Thursday: Track Race Official
Friday: no racing, try to take a ride or sleep
Saturday: Race Official

Dream Goal:
Ride Paris-Brest-Paris, a non-stop 1200km ride that runs every four years. 2007 is out for me, but in 2011 – here I come.
Biggest obstacle to reaching your Dream Goal:
My French. Everything else is just me.
Favorite fuel source for events - what you eat on long events
Something with oats and caffeine, I think.

Most valued person in your life:
My wife Peggy: she’s smarter than I am, got me on the bike again as an adult, and is supportive of my hair-brained adventures.

Your #1 hero (may be the same as above):

Favorite quote or words to live by:
“If you’re not ridin’, you’re hidin’”

What you'd like to say to a group of like-minded endurance cycling athletes and/or a news reporter:
If there is anything that appears hard AND a little loonie, it is definitely worth consideration. And bring along several friends!

Timothy Case, Racer

Timothy Case
Born/Raised: Buffalo Grove, IL
Home: Boulder, Colorado

Address: Boulder, Colorado

Age: 30 years old

What go you started in endurance events and what attracts you to RAAM?
I’ve participated in a number of endurance cycling events, most frequently 24 hour mountain bike racing, as part of a team and solo. The RAAM seems like a logical next step for my endurance training and will be a complete test of mind and body.

Family Status: Single

Education: B.A., Winona State University, Winona, MN
National certifications in Firefighting, Hazardous Materials, Fire Investigations, Rescue and Emergency Medicine

Occupation: Professional Firefighter, Boulder Fire Rescue

Why are you interested in raising funds and awareness for Camp Odayin?
Camp Odayin deserves recognition, funding and attention for the important service it provides children with cardiac conditions and their families.

Other sports of interest: Competitive running, hiking, international grand prix motorcar racing

Best Performance: 4th place, McCleod County Road Race, 2x 3rd place finishes in 24 Hours of Afton MTB race

Outline of Typical Training: 4-5 days of long slow distance and climbing with 2-3 days Anaerobic threshold training

Dream Goal: Complete RAAM with an intact, healthy team

Biggest Obstacle to Goal: Unpredicted variables during race, fatigue and stress

Favorite Fuel Source for Long Events: “Comfort food,” canned potatoes, soup, Cliff Bars, Hammer Gel

Most Valued Person in Life: I care for and love my close friends and family dearly

#1 Hero: Both of my parents share the #1 title in my life

Favorite Quote: “There is a time to think and a time to move. So which is it gonna be?”-Captain Andy Vigil, Poudre Valley Fire Department, Fort Collins, CO

Greg Kostik, Racer

Greg Kostik
Born, raised and currently lives in Minneapolis

Address: 2600 Robbins St., Minneapolis, MN 55410

Age: 32

What got you started in athletic endurance events, and what attracts you to RAAM? The more bike racing I did over the years, I realized that the longer the race was the better I did. The events I did the best in were long individual time trials. Each time I’ll be on the bike during RAAM will be a long individual time trial.

Family status: Engaged. I will be getting married to the lovely Angie March 31, 2007.

Education: Will complete my BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota in May 2007.

Occupation: Senior Mechanical Designer for The Toro Company.

Why are you interested in raising funds and awareness for Camp Odayin? To help the kids have the best life they can. On a personal note, my godson was born December 2005 with a cardiovascular defect. I saw firsthand the struggles it puts upon a family.

Other sports of interest, if any: Triathlons and downhill skiing.

Best Performance (not necessarily the fastest, just your favorite): Ironman Madison 2004, finished 260th out of 2188 competitors (was 26th out of 2188 on the 112 mile bike leg).

Outline of your typical weekly training: If I’m not racing during the week I get in 3-5 days of short, intense rides (30-50 miles). If I’m not racing on the weekends I get in at least one good long, hard ride.

Dream Goal: Live my life to its fullest potential.

Biggest obstacle to reaching your Dream Goal:

Favorite fuel source for events - what you eat on long events: Cold pizza and Cliff Blocks

Most valued person in your life: Family and close friends.

Favorite quote or words to live by: You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.

What you'd like to say to a group of like-minded endurance cycling athletes and/or a news reporter: Never give up on chasing your goals.

Neil Eerdmans, Racer

Neil Eerdmans

Born: Cambridge, MN
Grew up in: Cambridge, MN
Home: Champlin, MN
Address: 5601 111th Ave. N., Champlin, MN 55316

Age: 38

What got you started in athletic endurance events, and what attracts you to RAAM?
I have always had extra energy and so burning that off has always been necessary. I have developed a love of riding bike and RAAM is simply fascinating to anyone that likes riding distance. I have always wondered what it would be like to be a part of RAAM and now I actually have a chance to experience it.

Family status: Married for 15 years. Two kids, both love life like their parents, Rose is 7 and Owen is 5.

Education: BA and Masters of Education at the University of Minnesota.

Occupation: Second Grade Teacher

Why are you interested in raising funds and awareness for Camp Odayin?
Honestly, I just learned of the camp but it seems like a great place with great things happening there. I believe in helping and being ready to help. The camp is exciting and anything that I could do to help raise awareness of the camp would be great. Spiritually speaking this seems like a great camp to put energy behind.

Other sports of interest:
I have also fallen in love with cross-country skiing. If you live in Minnesota you better find a love or hobby that involves the winter.

Best Performance: I like the Headwaters 100. It is a great season ending event to test your fitness and push yourself. We rode it one year in 3:58. My goal used to be 5 hours at that event, breaking 4 was a great feeling.

Outline your typical weekly training: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I like to go as long as I can and I love riding with our group. We move along but not without laughs and conversation.

Dream Goal: Get my son and daughter to ride bike with me.

Biggest Obstacle: The freedom of choice.

Favorite fuel source for events: Fun Size Snickers

Most valued person in your life: My family, they are my best friends and there is no one that I would rather be with.

Your #1 hero: Jesus, it is not what you think. It is very different than American Jesus, I am into the guy that said love everyone, feed everyone and forgive everyone. Very different. Very radical. Christ wasn’t about comfort and neither is RAAM. Oh yea, and Dick Hoyt. Go to google video and search him and his kid up... Unbelievable!

Favorite Quote or words to live by: Hurry is not of the devil, it is the devil. - Jung
Don’t buy up grades, ride up grades.

What would you like to say to a group of like-minded endurance cycling athletes and / or a news reporter: Life is more than you think. Some cyclists and endurance athletes that have pushed themselves get this. People pride themselves in being “out of the box.” There is a whole other level, it is like “out of the circle.” We catch glimpses of this. I don’t even know for sure what it is and it is beautiful and scary at the same time. Even the people that have pushed themselves have to be open to this idea. I know what your thinking and I agree, it is weird. RAAM seems like the perfect vehicle to get out of the circle, to experience the next level for maybe more than a glimpse. We will see.

Bernie Kaeferlein, Team Director

Bernie Kaeferlein, Team Director

Born: Tulsa, OK
Grew up in: Canon City, CO
Home: Champlin, MN
Address: 10910 Woodland Drive North, Champlin, MN 55316

Age: 36

What got you started in athletic endurance events, and what attracts you to RAAM? I got hooked on endurance events through 24 hour mountain bike racing. What attracts me to RAAM is combining my passions and talents to accomplish an epic adventure of the body and of the heart. Competing and completing RAAM is an adventure of a lifetime and a chance to discover what I am truly capable of. RAAM is also a wonderful way to raise awareness and funding for Camp Odayin, a camp for kids with heart disease.

Family status: Married for 13 years and going strong. Three children, age 12 (boy), age 9 (boy) and age 5 (girl)

Education: I did my undergrad at the University of Northern Colorado and received a BA in Kinesiology. I did my grad school at the University of Minnesota in Exercise Physiology focusing on clinical applications of Cardiopulmonary Physiology and Statistics

Occupation: Senior Marketing Manager for Medtronic Cardiac Surgery

Why are you interested in raising funds and awareness for Camp Odayin? Each year 32,000 babies are born in the US with cardiovascular defects. Children with heart disease are not often afforded the opportunity to attend camps due to health risks and medical issues.

Camp Odayin is a non profit organization dedicated to providing the camp experience to these special young people through week long residence camps, day camps and family camps providing campers and families the opportunity to meet others with similar health, emotional and social concerns. Camp Odayin is made available regardless of number of scars, scope of disease or physical abilities and is staffed by volunteer pediatric cardiologists, nurses and non-medical staff. To top it off, the experience is provided at no cost to the campers (aside from a $25 document processing fee).

Other sports of interest, if any: There are other sports? Backyard dodge ball with the neighborhood kids and skiing in Colorado.

Best Performance (not necessarily the fastest, just your favorite): 24 hours of Afton. Gorgeous venue, great mix of climbs, descents and technical single track…and outstanding people! It’s a race I look forward to and dread all at the same time, but the tremendous sense of accomplishment keeps me coming back. In 2006, our team finished 1st in Vets and 2nd overall.

Outline of your typical weekly training: Long rides on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with fast pace lines and hill climbing on Tuesday. Commuting to work 2 to 4 days a week.

Dream Goal: To look back on my life and know that I was the best father, husband and human being that I could possibly be.

Biggest obstacle to reaching your Dream Goal: Absolutely nothing!

Favorite fuel source for events - what you eat on long events: Leftover (cold) Chipotle burritos with extra sour cream and guacamole, rice pudding and tons of Clif Bars

Most valued person in your life: It might sound cliché, but it’s my wife and children. They are the wind beneath my wings and the beat of my heart. They inspire me.

Your #1 hero (may be the same as above): Anybody who gets out into the world to love and help other people.

Favorite quote or words to live by: “Live well, laugh often, love much.”

What you'd like to say to a group of like-minded endurance cycling athletes and/or a news reporter: Sing the praises of Camp Odayin and primary sponsors, thank an incredible team for pulling us all through this epic journey and…they joy in life is about the journey, not the destination.

The Team Strong Heart Mission

Team Strong Heart is a dedicated collection of bicycle racers, crew and volunteers who are using the epic physical challenge of the 2007 Race Across America to raise $100,000 for Camp Odayin.
The Race Across AMerica (RAAM) is a west coast to east coast, 1 stage, team time trial, widely regarded as the toughest bicycle race in the world. Our team of 4 racers will race against the clock, and other teams, 24 hours a day to complete the roughly 3,100 mile course. The course crosses some of the nation’s toughest deserts, mountains and countryside.

Camp Odayin provides residential, day and family camp experiences for children with heart disease from all around the world. The camp offers the opportunity to strengthen self-confidence, gain independence, develop life skills, and meet other young people with similar health, emotional and social concerns.
A non-profit organization, Camp Odayin is fully funded through corporate gifts, fundraisers, and private donations.