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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PPP Registration Now Open

Posted By on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 8:16 PM

You still have a few months to find your best one-piece, neon snowsuit, schwinn ten-speed and vintage kayak, but the starting line is officially in sight for the 35th Annual PPP. MBSEF announced yesterday that it is now taking on-line applications for individuals and teams for this year's rite of spring race. This year's event falls a week later than usual and is scheduled for May 21. For race information and registration materials go to pppbend.com.


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crossing Over: A cyclocross national championships post mortem

Some observations from the 2010 Cyclocross National Championships in Bend, Oregon.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 11:24 PM

The 2010 National Cyclocross championships again proved that Bend is a superb venue for large-scale self-propelled sports events. A great deal of credit for the event’s success goes to those community members who volunteered and spectators who came out to cheer.

That noted, am I the only person who got a bit tired of the "'cross is truly the world’s greatest sport” sentiments gushed by some in the local press? And the on going flog that 'cross spectators are the quirkiest ever seen at or participating in a sporting event?

As to the former, the “greatness” of a sport is in the eyes of the participants and fans. As to quirkiness, ever been down to San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers run? Now that’s one quirky event.

'Cross is a lot of fun to watch, looks tough for competitors and Bend was lucky to have a great two-year run of the event.

Easily the 'Cross Nationals warranted more press than the Oregonian gave them. A couple of column inches and no photographs in the daily based in the epicenter of the 'cross world? Come on.

Another note on 'cross coverage skimmed over by the press was the fact that Ned Overend took down the men’s 50 to 59 age group title.

Ned Overend? Well, if you’d raced mountain bikes back in sport’s early competitive years (the mid eighties) you’d know Overend. He was the best of the best.

Overend came to mountain racing from road racing and first got attention outside of his Colorado home turf when he crushed the field at the Revenge of The Siskiyous back when it was Oregon’s premier MTB race held over the July Fourth weekend.

The Revenge was one of a handful of major races on the West Coast at that time and Overend’s win was somewhat of a surprise seeing that he didn’t made not much of an impression at the starting line wearing a cammo-colored helmet and riding a, to quote local retired MTB pro Paul Thomasberg “low-end Schwinn,” instead of some fancy handcrafted bike.

Overend’s Revenge win had all the then star racers (mostly from Marin County, CA) grumbling. Who was this outsider? It had to be a freak win didn’t it?

It wasn’t a freak but the first of many big wins and soon the slender, super-fit Overend was a force in mountain bike racing for years to come.

Also a force was his Mountain Bike Specialties retail and catalog company that was among the first to offer a variety of mountain bikes when mountain bikes were hard to come by.

So hail to a mountain bike racing legend. He could probably race with the current crop of pros and not fare too badly.

Finally what's the deal with the cowbells the Nationals?

Using cowbells at sporting events has its roots in alpine ski racing in Switzerland. Looking for a way to make noise as along the race pistes, Swiss fans hit on the idea of using jumbo cowbells (the ones you see adorning dairy cows in Swiss tourism photos) and clanging them at races.

Hard to transport to the slopes, the big bells soon fell out of favor to be replaced by easier to lug around and ring, smaller cowbells.

Once the alpine ski world had become used to cowbells clanging away, their use filtered into the international cross-country ski-racing scene and then into cycling.

The first time I recall the use of cowbells at a big event was by Swiss spectators at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. The din of the bells was deafening at the alpine races and even more so in town at night after a Swiss skier had medaled.


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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dandy Don Meredith: Remembering a classic

Remembering the great Dandy Don Meredith.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 7:41 PM

The news of former Dallas Cowboy football great and NFL television color commentator “Dandy” Don Meredith’s death had barely become part of the daily news cycle when I got a Facebook message reading: “Remember the picture you took of me and Dandy at the 1980 Olympics? It’s still on the wall in my office.”

I do remember it and for those new to this blog, here’s a reprise of my Dandy Don story.

Getting around the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York was a pain. The transportation system simply wasn’t functioning well. The only people getting to where they wanted to go were those working for ABC Television, the official network of the Games.

One day while waiting for a bus, a friend who was doing color commentary work for ABC at the Games told me if I could hang out with him for a short taping session he’d get a van to deliver me anyplace I wanted to go.

I went to the taping which turned out to be one with Dandy Don who was supposed to make some complimentary remarks about the sport of cross-country skiing that would be used to lead into the live telecasts of the races.

Well, Dandy Don couldn’t quite do it. He found the sport, “kinda dumb” and made some hysterical on-camera remarks about it only to be told to “keep it positive” by my friend and a director.

Resplendent in a long fur coat that looked like it had been plucked from a photograph of life and times in the Yukon in 1849, a cowboy hat and boots, Dandy looked just dandy.

The fact that he was a bit tipsy made him even harder to direct. The planned short filming session took and hour with Dandy sipping away from a flask that would appear from deep inside the great fur coat.

Finally, the director called it a wrap and Dandy, myself and my friend headed off in a van to ABC headquarters. Dandy sipped away throughout the trip telling jokes and making observations on the lunacy of the Olympic Games.

By the time we got to ABC headquarters, Dandy was in pretty sad shape. My pal and I helped him out of the van and sat him down on a nearby snowmobile where he immediately fell asleep, cowboy hat over his face. And that’s when my I took the picture.


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Monday, December 6, 2010

Noise: Endless chatter and bad ads during The Civil War

Posted By on Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 6:50 PM

At the last minute, I opted out of two Civil War parties and headed instead to a local pub. That turned to be a good choice as the beers on tap were all new to me and the crowd at the bar not overly Duck or Beaver crazed.

Thanks to some good conversation and the aforementioned beer, what was supposed to be an exciting game, and wasn’t except for the first few minutes and the Duck's wonderful fake punt, saved the day.

And as the day and game wore on, the people at the bar got a wee testy and the barbs flew. Their first target, the announcers who, like all college football announcers, talk way too much and never, ever leave some space for the viewer to make up his or her own mind.

Play-by-play announcer: Jones is hit and stopped for a two-yards loss.

Color Commentator: Well wasn’t that an interesting second down call. The Bearcats opted to use the old Red Highway 86 formation where the quarterback lines up under center and then moves to left tackle. The right tackle them shifts to right end and does a wing-nut reverse option with a double sliding sweep. But give it to the Mountaineers for picking up on it and using the Delta, three-backs up, two in the press box formation with the cornerbacks shifting back three steps and ten moving up two when the ball was snapped. Brilliant.

Play-by-play announcer: Speaking of Jones and that loss, he lost his English History three-ring binder on campus the other day and it was picked up by his grandmother who just had an ingrown toenail removed. Our thoughts go out to her and the rest of the family.

Boring, aimless and truly obnoxious.

The play-by-play guys roasted, the bar crowd turned to the television ads which were, be they national or local, bad.

“Sexy and daring,” a voice intoned over fast cuts of scenes from some melodrama,” says Rolling Stone about Neighborhood Madams, starring Justin Neverwas and Jessica Hasbeen starting this Friday on ABC.”

I can’t wait to waste an hour watching that overly inflated tour of bad acting, script and plot.

Then we got into the local ads where we discovered that having your ad voiceover done by a woman with a very proper Oxonian English accent is apparently supposed to make a product or, in this case, service seem more superior. Wrong, it made the company behind the ad pretentious and totally out of touch with the Central Oregon market.

But the fav of the day was the ad from the local car dealer featuring a spokesmodel we started calling “Hand Woman”

Why “Hand Woman?” It’s because of her stilted hand movements—a cross between someone doing The Robot, a baseball umpire making the “safe” motion and some sort of weird fraternal salute followed with the “safe” motion.

“Don’t make fun of her,” said the guy two seats down from me at the bar, “she paid a lot of money to learn that at a TV spokesperson school.”

Now if she only had a British accent.


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Friday, December 3, 2010

Dispassionate: Not taking sides in the Civil War

It's OK to not root for either the Ducks or the Beavers.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 6:54 PM

Come Saturday, I’m easily the most relaxed male football fan in Bend because I could care less who wins the Civil War. You see, I have no association, save for friends who attended them, with either of the two schools.

However, I rooted for the Beavers on their way to two consecutive NCAA baseball titles. And I admit I always root for the Ducks track and field and cross country running teams.

I’m not a big fan of the Ducks’ yellow and green colors and think the Beavers’ orange and black is always a bad combination outside of Halloween. There are exceptions to that color scheme, like the Oklahoma State Cowboys jerseys that feature a whole lot of orange and not much black.

Uniforms aside, I do like the Beavers' “Quizz” Rogers who is what we used to fondly call a “scatback”. In Rogers' case, a scatback with power.

And I do like the Ducks sans Jeremiah Masoli and the way the team, via coach Chip Kelly, are changing the game of college football.

I like the Beavers for the fact that they have 31 in-state players on the team, eight who start and eleven who are make significant contributions. Oregon has only 22 in-state players and one of them starts. Time to make one of those “University of Southern California at Eugene” jabs?

I’m of a mind that the NCAA should have an annual award for the University football program that has the most in-state players on its roster. This year it would go the University of Wisconsin as 85 percent of their players come from within cheesehead land.

Speaking of cheese, I’m looking forward to some tasty cheese, great dips, canapés and brews at the two Civil War parties I’ll attend. At both parties, I’ll be thoroughly focused on the food and drink and not on so much on the game.

As a dispassionate observer, I predict a 42-14 Ducks win.


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