2011 2nd Place Overall
Let’s get the necessary out of the way right away: Ben shocked everyone last year on both the rocks and the bikes, then double secret probation shocked everyone again by booking early for 2012. Eradicating opium crops in Kandasucks, Afghanistan – check. Shepherding future GOP Presidential candidates around Goat City, China – check. Spidermanning up the walls at MetroRock, Newburyport – check and mate and pour the Knot.
So we welcome Ben back, although fellow racers should be comforted by the fact that he has been eating cheese and drinking red wine for 12 months in luxurious Geneva, not wearing kevlar and ducking-n-covering in Afghanistan.
- Seneca Rocks…as noted last year: three-stage climb, with Danno leading and Ben the third climber (therefore pulling out the protection), roughly 80-90 feet per stage…see this pic…but that was almost ten years ago…double but, this year, Ben’s trainer will be spending ELLT weekend at Joshua Tree. No, not some opium-induced recreation of the U2 album, but the actual Joshua Tree, a climbing mecca.
- Per 2011, “Mad Mountain Bike Skillz…proven more than once on the single track trails around northern Virginia” and proven again at Willowdale last year.
- Faith in the integrity of the ELLT, which is fantastic….but….see below.
- Lastly, navigating the rough seas of ELLT has to be easier after you been dunked in the sandy and salty brine of Girl Talk: “generals gathered in their masses…get out the way!”
- In 2011 we expected rock climber’s hoops skills and average elite mountain biker’s golf skills…we were right. Ben’s hoops and golf skills are summed up perfectly in the pictures below.
- Spinal Tap’s drummer: 2nd place in 2008 failed to reach the overall podium in 2009. 2nd place in 2009 completely missed 2010. 2nd place in 2010 completely missed 2011. Ben has broken the pattern of the last two years, but 2nd place does seem a bit cursed.
- Faith. Pure, simple, unadulterated faith in the goodness of America and the truthiness of his seven iron, his outside shot, his biking lungs, his lobstah claw climbing grip, and his 0-13 east coast elitism. No one, not even Tom McParland, brings more pure faith in his ability to win all weekend. Admirable, of course, but also a weakness when you’re five, six, seven, and eight irons suck and your outside shot resembles Detlef Schrempf boxing out than Shaq shooting a three.
In 2011, Ben was casually capable at soccer and then turned into Spiderman’s Stripey Pants Cousin on the rocks. In golf…no surprises. On the bike, Ben finished the time trial 12 seconds behind athletic-super-freak Chris Roy and nearly one minute ahead of the 2010 mountain bike gold medalist. Sweet Abraham Lincoln’s mother, that is a damn good ride. In hoops…whatever. Of course, as noted in 2011, “Ben has been shot at from close range and managed to, 1) not soil his khakis; and 2) avoid being hit. Ben also endured six+ months of language training with Eric Shimp, which was probably far worse than being shot at from close range.”
Expectations for 2012:
With the exception of his Chinese language training classmate, no one has done more in the last 11 months to lobby for reduced, adjusted, moderated, and qualified expectations. Ben has mentioned injuries, jet lag, language adjustments (apparently going from speaking diplomatese and Swiss German to Byfieldian Masshole is a tough transition), and age as reasons why expectations for his performance should be lower. But here is the chicken-fried truth: Ben is going to get out-climbed on the rocks by 2 or 3 racers, out-golfed by everyone except the other three in his foursome (Danno, Tom McP, and the Race Director), and picked into so many pick-n-rolls he’ll see Big Baby Davis in his sleep. But on the bikes…with Danno unqualified and Chris Roy also on the Competition Committee’s yellow card list, Ben has a shot. A surprising morning on the rocks and just one — just one — stellar golf shot, plus a top-of-the-podium mountain biking finish and Ben could hold on to 2nd place overall. If the field is a mess…maybe First Place Overall Supreme Grandmaster Champion.
(worth noting: of all the pictures in this post, only two show Ben actually competing, and one of those is on the green, where Ben is using an eight iron to putt)