Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | February 1, 2012

Writing when I should be working (or working out)

The end point of the RAGBRAI, the Mighty Mississippi River.

I really should be preparing for my classes tomorrow, but as I sat here pondering what to do I realized I hadn’t written in more than a week. Must. Feed. The. Beast.

Not that writing has been a chore. It’s a small bit of self-indulgence that gives me the chance to connect our lives to those back in the States. So thanks for reading … you know who you are.

The news of the day: I’ve sent in my payments for a second go at the RAGBRAI. Last summer, I rode with good friends from the Strib (past and present). This year I’ll be joining two of my cousins and a couple of their friends for the jaunt across Iowa.

At the end of last year’s ride, I was euphoric but uncertain I’d do it again. It’s a long haul (this year’s route is about 470 miles (for you metric buffs, that’s 750-odd kilometers). It’s a week in the saddle. And this year it’ll be pricier than last year because I’m going on one of the charter carriers so I don’t have to mess with tents and transport, etc. I just have to ride, eat and drink in all of Iowa’s goodness up for a week and a day. Maybe not nirvana to all, but a great way to celebrate summer in my book. So I’m in.

That means while we suffer through a spell of record-setting cold here, I need to find ways to maintain fitness. My new regimen? Running stairs. The sidewalks are ice-covered and slippery. So I’ve taken to running the stairs in our apartment building. Six flights, up and down and up and down, up and down … I’m trying to increase my workouts each time. I managed 25 heart-pounding minutes today (and then added crunches and pushups). I’d like to double that in the next couple of weeks — before I get sick of it and the sun warms things up outside.

As workouts go, it’s a lot less interesting than riding through the hills around Blagoevgrad. On the plus side: no dogs. And hopefully, when I’m peddling through the bucolic Iowa countryside this summer (don’t laugh, it’s pretty out there in the middle of nowhere), I’ll be feeling just a bit better because of these mind-numbing treks inside the cold and quiet concrete staircase at 10 Georche Petrov Street.



  1. Are you riding with Mike?! So fun.

    • Yup, Mike and Sally and her pals. … Good family time!! Wanna join us?

      • I don’t know about Katie, but I will be waiting for you to return from Iowa for a post-RAGBRAI celebration in Chicago! Likely will involve beer and not a tent outside. Can’t wait!

      • MMMMMMMMMMM, beer.

  2. I certainly understand the RAGBRAI appeal, but I prefer the MS Tram about the same time as the Iowa trek. I always camp and do it with friends, too. Keep up the good work! You probably go into RAGBRAI better trained than I am, but I’ll give it my best shot again this summer. Good luck!
    Marsha Smith
    PS: Abby has a job at a marketing firm here in the Twin Cities and loves it! It’s Haworth Marketing and Media in Minneapolis. It’s a great payoff after doing several internships.

    • Good for Abby! Jenna is working in Chicago, so yay us for getting kids out into the working world. Happy riding!

  3. Icy sidewalks, huh? Take it from someone (me) with vast experience in this area: if you don’t have them, order some LL Bean ice stabilizers (not the top of the line–they have a crappy strap thing that gets disgusting; the middle of the road ones are great and come in about $25). They are like studded snow tires for your feet and you can run and/or walk on ice. REALLY!

    Take care–my GREAT hand surgeon is HERE, not in Bulgaria…

  4. Mark,

    Just yesterday I was thinking about using my indoor steps for a workout. I was walking outside, and really, with the balmy winter in Wisconsins (50 degrees yesterday!) I can hardly use that excuse. But the stairs are very efficient and I can do it with my kids around. I will take your entry here as further encouragement. And I agree with you, Iowa is beautiful. As long as you can steer away from the pork factories, it even smells good. Happy stairs!

  5. did bulgaria get hammered with that same blizzard that paralyzed bucharest?

    • It was worse in Sofia than Blagoevgrad, but we were in Sofia when it started. Took almost an hour to get out of the city yesterday. But the roads got better and better the farther south we went. Still, the skiers are happy here (and I’m sad). The last couple of weeks have seemed very Minnesota to me. Not what I signed up for. 🙂

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