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Member Profile: Ben Jonjak


Hello Everybody! Our little CyclovaXC project is gathering steam and we're getting a pleasant number of people signing up for our ski suits. There are still a few stragglers out there (cough, cough, Kettula...cough, cough...Krenz) but we're fairly sure that they'll be dying with envy when the snow falls as they see us go floating effortlessly past buoyed by the fact that we just look so frickin' good. As of right now, the plan is to make our order with Podium Wear on Monday the 21st, which should give us a delivery date in late November (and the second the suits are in our hands, we'll be getting them to you...come to think of it, that might be a good day for a party at Frank's house...how do you feel about that Frank?)

In the meantime, I'd like to start introducing our confirmed members just to give everybody involved a face to go along with the name (especially for those of you who aren't on facebook). The idea is that when you see a person speeding by in a CyclovaXC suit, not only you, but all your friends and loved ones will be able to scream, "Go Frank! Go Ben! Go Cory Kending (cough, cough...another ski suit buying straggler...cough, cough!"

So, that being the case, let me take this opportunity to introduce myself. I'm Ben Jonjak and many of you know me as the co-founder of the Riverbrook ski team back in the early 90's. The whole point of that team was just to get enough people involved so we could print up a cool looking suit (because there were no cool looking ones to buy anywhere). Well, we more than succeeded, and the second generation especially became the standard by which all other professional ski suits were measured (I'm only exagerating a little bit...Rossignol's team suit totally ripped us off a few years later).

I skiied pretty seriously for about ten years, and then kind of got fed up because after a great fall/summer of training I got sick, lost a bunch of weight, and nobody could figure out what was wrong with me (turns out I needed my Gall Bladder removed...that sucked, I still remember watching "Highlander" in the recovery room while munching on coedine tylenol...incidentally Bob Peterson was the guy who got me stitched back together...you buying a suit Bob?).

After the Gall Bladder incident I packed up all my things (it fit into one small backpack) and moved to Lima, Peru. The idea was to spend about six months there learning spanish, but I ended up staying for 9 years. The above photo essentially sums up that decade as those are the clothes I always wore, and that was the place I was always trying to be (in the mists of Machu Picchu). I once heard a guy reflect that, "any day not spent on RAGBRAI is a wasted day," and I agree 100%, except that I would add, "any day not spent on RAGBRAI is wasted, unless you were at Machu Picchu." Incidentally, if anybody wants to go check out Machu Picchu sometime, I'm the guy to talk to. My wife's Peruvian and I'm fairly sure I'll be heading to Peru at least once a year for as long as I live (and it's not hard to talk me into taking you up there).

Well, my wife Zulma just got her immigration visa, so she and I will be heading up to Wisconsin in late October. I've been wanting to, in the words of Tom Krenz, "Get off the barstool and be an athlete again" for a long time, and this return trip affords the perfect opportunity. However, as much as skiing is an individual endeavor, it's also a community event, and there is nothing better than sharing the emotion felt at the end of a ski race with close friends and fellow competitors. Also, I love the road trips on the way to races, and I've never heard truer words spoken than, "the more, the merrier!" (we've taken over hotels before, it's awesome).

These days I'm carrying a few more kilos than my old racing days, but there's nothing better than hitting bitch hill to shave those off (and that's the whole idea). I haven't done a half-marathon in under 2:10 in a long time (and I ususally finish carrying a beer), but hey, I can still be NOISY!

The idea here at CyclovaXC is to share everybody's stories and enthusiasm for biking, running, and skiing. There are a lot of tales out there to tell, and I like telling them (as you might be able to guess if you've happened upon my Streets of Lima web page). We want members from ALL levels because I find everybody's unique perspective fascinating, and, like I said before, the more, the merrier!

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