Have you seen that hilarious xtranormal cartoon about the Pole Pedal Paddle that made the rounds of the Internet last month (http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/6369207/)? If you haven't, then you have definitely been under a rock or on a deserted island without Wi-Fi.
In the video created by JoeBlackCoffee (I'm dying to know who that really is, by the way), a typical Bendite explains the PPP to a long-haired poet: "It is such a Bend thing to do. If you don't compete in the Pole Pedal Paddle, you might as well not live in Bend. I do it every year and I get a mug every year. The Pole Pedal paddle is so sick. It is so sick that you basically have to call a doctor."
The really sick thing is that I am that PPP geek and I've got the mugs on my mantel to prove it. I confess, I love PPP. This year will be my 14th consecutive PPP and I had to postpone shoulder surgery just to make it to the starting line. I'm not alone, however. I have a friend who scheduled his knee surgery right after PPP so that he could compete in both pairs and on a team. This year, the PPP will be bigger than ever, with well over 3,000 participants, according to race director Molly Cogswell-Kelley.
I've been out on the course this past week getting in a little last-minute training and here are some of my observations for the rest of you PPP geeks out there.
In the solo men's elite category, I'm going to pick Marshall Greene for his fifth straight win. There may be a changing of the guard next year, since Marshall is moving to Madison, Wisconsin, for graduate school. I think he'll share the podium with up-and-comer Andrew Boone and Lars Flora. I spotted Torin Koos out paddling a surfski the other day, but the Olympic Nordic skier denied that he was secretly training. But then I saw him at the Nordic center the next day, so who knows! I hear he is leaving Bend as well, headed to Mazama for better training opportunities.
Actually, I think we're seeing a drain of Nordic skiing talent from Bend since three-time Olympian and U.S. World Cup coach Justin Wadsworth was hired to coach Canada's cross country team. Justin and wife Beckie Scott, a two-time Canadian Olympic medalist, will be spending time in Canmore with their son Teo and new baby girl Brynn.
In the solo women's elite category, I made the mistake of not putting my money on Sarah Max last year. Sarah, who is pursuing her her third straight win, has experience on her side, but I have seen Swedish World Cup Nordic skier Kristina Sandberg training a lot, especially in the surfsksi.I'm going to predict an upset victory by Kristina, but it will be great if Sarah proves me wrong again. Many potential contenders won't be in the individual race this year, including former champions Muffy Roy (racing on the Sunnyside team) and Suzanne King.
In the pairs division, I'm picking Team Guy (Eric Martin and Paul Parsons) once again for male pairs. For female pairs I'm going with the Julies (Julie Downing and Julie Wose). And for the co-ed pairs, I'm predicting a repeat by Andy and Kathy Fecteau.
In the team contests, I can only go by the best names, since I have no idea who is actually on the teams. Here are my favorites:
1. Our Pets' Heads Are Fallin' Off
2. Burnin' Donuts of Jesus
3. Purple Monkey Dishwashers
4. My Couch Pulls Out But I Don't
5. Lisa, this time please be there for the run start
(No pressure on Lisa this year, huh?)
The weather forecast looks good, mid-sixties and partly cloudy. I reconned the course this past weekend and the snow conditions are some of the best ever at this point. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the bike course will have been swept because there is a lot of debris on the road. Watch out for potholes, grates and those annoying cracks. There is some new dirt down on the river trail, smoothing out the run course. Finally, because of the changes at Riverbend Park, the boat put-in and take- out are in the same place this year, which makes the paddle two minutes longer and the sprint a little farther. See you at the PPP!