After my initial outing with the boys and Ed + Scott a couple of weeks ago, it seemed a little crazy to take the boys to a hunt test this weekend. However, while our plans have changed, Meg is still doing our taxes this weekend -- and all boys have been banned from the house. So, the new updated top secret plan is to spend the weekend on birds -- and potentially with lots of vizsla friends.
The challenge now is that preserve season in New York is ending very soon -- and snow hasn't entirely left the ground in northern MA. There's also rain coming in over the weekend. So, the plan for now is to head up to TMT tomorrow afternoon to keep working the boys: for Jozsi, we'll keep working on staunching him up; for Momo, keeping him focussed and confident on the retrieve.
Then we zip up and over to visit with Team Vizsla -- Northern MA chapter, aka. Forest King Vizslas -- probably driving in the rain, hopefully following the minor storm northeast and having it exit while we sleep. Sunday morning is a big training day for everyone. The Team Vizsla -- Eastern MA chapter, aka. Rich and Adrian, are bringing Ella + Khumbu; Kim and Mike are bringing Cedar + Kyler. Having not seen him since November, I imagine they'll have a small myocardial infarction when they see the Beast-Dog, aka. Lurch, aka. Jozsi.
Having an extra set of hands will also help me work on steadying the boys through wing AND shot, ie. staying whoa'ed till commanded to fetch. I know Rich would like to get Ella staunch at least through wing and give Khumbu a little more varied bird-exposure, see if he'll hold a point, and maybe even take a bird over him. And Kim and Mike would like to work Kyler on honoring with a dog besides Cedar... so we should have all kinds of fun to work on.
The revised schedule, then, is to run both boys in the Mayflower GSP Hunt Test up in Falmouth, the weekend after next, and then possibly going up to Sharpe's Farm in Hopkinton, NH, for the Tartan Gordon Setter Hunt Test the weekend after that.
My good friend Dan told me (and this is from the man who is arguably responsible for me meeting my first vizsla) that I've neglected my cycling rants. He's correct, but in the interest of serving my readers, here's a prediction or two for this weekend's 'Hell of the North,' the Paris-Roubaix one-day race. It and the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, are arguably the two toughest one-day races in the Spring calendar because they are long and feature numerous cobblestone sections. (This picture is by Roberto Bettini and you can visit his website here.) While last year was something of an anomaly in terms of weather (because it was warm and dry) and because it was (perhaps as a result) won by Australian, Flandrian weather looks suitably manky for this year's edition. And it is a race of attrition just ask Gorgeous George Hincapie.
Cyclingnews.com has its usual preview feature. As they say, "The favourites are hard to predict for a race that involves so many hoops of fire." Chris at Podium Cafe has an interesting preview as well, especially why Paris-Roubaix is in many ways harder, ironically, than the Ronde. The conditions make it hard for teams to coordinate their efforts and very often team managers find themselves shifting their tactics to reflect conditions on the ground... Stijn Devolder's win at the Ronde and Oscar Freire's win at Gent-Wevelgem this past week are good examples.
The readers' poll at Podium Cafe, as of right now, thinks that Gorgeous George and 'The Arrow,' Juan Antonio Flecha, are their favorites. The participants' poll at the Cobblestone Fantasy Cycling League, as of right now, thinks that 'Someone Else' is more likely to win than any of the other favorites like Cancellara, Boonen, or Ballan. My pics are Cancellara or Flecha, but I think a couple of outsiders like Leif Hoste or Nick Nuyens could also come through.