Wednesday, May 27, 2009


He ruled the P.E. Department with an iron, czar-like approach to physical fitness. All the young ones were in good hands whether they were running the mile or playing an illegal game of dodge ball. Welcome the most recent guest to Left Field, Dan Rohde.

As you and all the LF readers know, there are no softball lobs for questions. We throw hard to hit inside fastballs: What PE unit do you miss most? This question does seem like a softball lob. With out a doubt in my mind, it is Badminton. Although the dance unit is a right behind.

National Bike to Work Week just recently passed. Did you partake in the festivities?I was only able to bike one of the days. I really do not have a good reason, but I was focusing a lot of training on my upcoming triathlon (see later question). I went into scramble mode in my training for the swim, which took a majority of my energy.

Word on Blogger Boulevard is that you moved into a new place. Give us a descriptive tour. BIGGER! Enough said. My roommate and I no longer live in a broom closet (I believe that is how your son once described it).

You are the defensive coordinator for the Cougars of Concordia University Chicago. What’s the best part of your job? Obviously the fame, fortune and ladies that come with being a college coach. I hope the readers here are very gullible. In all honesty, being a college coach is like having two jobs. My first job is coaching and my second is recruiter. When coaching I enjoy the practices where I have the opportunity to teach and improve the playing ability of the athletes. As a recruiter there is nothing better than getting the commitment from a student-athlete that I have been kissing up to for several months.

Any prognostications for your football Cougars in the fall of ’09? I really don’t have anything for the team, but I can guarantee many, many trips to 7-eleven by the Cougar coaching staff.

Left Field operatives perused your bio on the school’s web page. It gives great detail about your educational and athletic background but nary a word on your cycling passion? Explain yourself. I can’t explain this. Apparently our Sports Information Director does not deem cycling important. I will lay down the law with him. The fans need to know.

You have experienced several duatholons (races that involve running, cycling, running) but recently you opted to join the ranks of triatholons. (swim, ride, run). Why the additional athletic challenge? My father claims the Rohde family is “mediocre” when it comes to a lot of things especially athletics. Apparently, we are efficient in many athletic endeavors, but not phenomenal. After a relatively successful 2008 duathlon season, I decided to work towards a new challenge.

While training in Lake Michigan along the beaches of Lake Shore Drive do you ever swim over floating corpses. You know, those people who lost an argument with Da Family? I have not. I try to plan my swimming route around the areas where bodies are notoriously found. The rotting corpses tend to smell which makes training difficult.

Your presence has been greatly missed in Macomb County, especially at Buffalo Wild Wings. Are you surprised that your BW chums still leave an empty chair/seat for your when they get together? I don’t know what their thought process is. I think they are still hoping a female will see the empty seat and sit down.

Your former roommate got another cat and named it Hobo. Explain, as best you can. I really do not want to talk about it. All I know is that I prefer to call him Homo!

Lutheran North’s girls’ freshmen basketball coach has a plan for next year’s fillies that will involve shooting at least 5 triples per quarter. Perhaps you read an earlier blog about it or a follow up to the initial blog. Not everyone in Mustangville buys into the idea. Your reaction? Go for it! Let the shots fly! What is the new head coach going to do? We all know he is a gutless chump. It isn’t like he will fire you.

Doping has weakened an already feeble support base for cycling in the United States. Why hasn’t the same happened with baseball? Politics. I am not sure how, but I have heard other people use it for a variety of reasons. I thought it fit well with this question. Whenever you hear about doping in cycling it is during a major race. Usually during the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia or the Olympics to name a few. Imagine hearing about a baseball player testing positive for something in every playoff series. Is it fair to cycling? No, but it is what it is.


Quintana Roo or LeMond? Quintana Roo. Only has-been cyclists ride a LeMond.
Miller Park or Comerica Park? Miller Park
Brett Favre or the Detroit Lions’ quarterback du jour? Brett Favre (unless he goes to play for the Vikings)
Run, Bike or Swim? Bike
Mechanical pencil or gel pen? Mechanical pencil
Hamlet or Green Eggs and Ham? Green Eggs and Ham
The Red Line or the Blue Line? Green Line
Swimmers Itch videos or MTV? Swimmers Itch videos
Jack Bauer or Jack Sheppard? Jack Bauer
The Office or Room 118? Room 118Blog or Twitter? Twitter

Riposte on STABenow

Concerning the title of this post, I'm not one to casually inject fancy, French fencing jargon but the play on words would make Shakespeare and Mr. Sprow smile.

Jay Ambrose had similar sentiments concerning President Obama's fuel efficiency standards. He's adding more fuel to the to speak.

Some quotes of note:

Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley used his ink foil and added these thoughts that solidify Ambrose's point.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ironic. Tragic. Expensive.

As reported on

“I want people to support American fuel-efficient vehicles,” Senator Debbie Stabenow told

“I drive a Cadillac STS, it’s a small car,” she added.

The STS averages 16 miles per gallon in the city, 26 miles per gallon highway, according to General Motors and joint Web site of the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Hey, Senator Stabenow, sell your "fuel-efficient vehicle" that gets a whopping 16 mpg and ride a bike!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Yesterday, the Lutheran North girls' softball team defeated Lutheran Northwest 12-0 to win the Metro Conference tournament, avenge the team's earlier loss to the Crusaders and share in the conference championship. Kudos.

To God be the glory
The last pitch of the game. North's pitcher threw a no hitter to ensure Mustang success.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Christians aren't people who believe they are without sin; they're people who know they're sinners and are awestruck by God's grace in sending his only Son to take the punishment they deserve."

I don't profess to know much about Ann Coulter's faith, but I found this quote intriguing. Here is Coulter's column where I found the quote.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This week’s Left Field guest is somewhat of a celebrity. No, it’s not just because he graduated from North in ’97 and experienced the likes of four-minute passing time and Bowling club. He’s a superhero of sorts. By vocation he’s the mild mannered high school teacher at an alternative high school and by avocation he’s the lycra-wearing speedster, Finkelstein, who not only bests skinny-wheeled roadies but also thrashes fat-tired cyclists as demonstrated with his record-setting first place finish at the Adrian Fat Tire championships. We welcome Tim Finkel to Left Field

Let’s do a quick chronological recap of the educational life that has been and is Tim Finkel: You graduated from St. Paul, Sterling Heights, continued your Mustang mascot ways until graduating from Lutheran North in ’97, headed to another horse-related school, Western Michigan and graduated in (2002) with a degree in elementary education. Eschewing horses you graduated from Oakland University, home of the Grizzlies, with a Masters degree in special education with an endorsement in emotional as well as autism impairment and currently teach at a self-contained high school for students with emotional impairments. When you walked across that high school graduation stage, did you have any idea this is where you would be today? To be honest with you, when I walked across the stage for my high school diploma the only thing I could think was running over to get my ears pierced as a testament to my rebellion against my oppression of tucked in shirts, khakis, and hair that does not pass the collar line. I did in fact go and get my ears pierced that day. That was followed by a few years of drifting aimlessly through college with no real defined direction. It really wasn’t until about three years of wasted tuition that I got my act together. Ultimately, I am very happy and content with where I am today and despite some struggles along the roads I choose, all of my experiences have made me who I am today.

You race bikes? Yes. However, I should specify that I simply am a “cyclist” first and foremost before I am a “racer”. In all reality, if I didn’t race bikes I would probably ride even more because I wouldn’t really have to worry about structured recovery. Cycling has proven to be my most effective catalyst for self-improvement in my life. If I didn’t ride, my healthy well-being would take quite a blow.
Racing has simply become a natural bi-product/evolution of my basic love of the act of riding a bicycle. It is my outlet for anxiety, pent up energy, frustration, and my everyday obstacles. Cycling is definitely not for everyone, but it IS for me.
My girlfriend will testify, if I don’t get a ride in certain days, I am miserable to be around.
I have been blessed to of landed some great sponsorship for this season racing for Gary Fisher’s Professional Factory MTB Team: The 29er Crew. In addition, my roots are planted firmly with the Wolverine Sports Club on the road racing side of things. Both organizations have supported me very generously with finances and with mental support, coaching and camaraderie. These folks are a second family to me.

I’ve tried so hard to convince the youngsters I teach every day that wearing lycra while scooting around on two wheels, is actually admirable. I’ve failed. I am still mocked by the anti-lycra crowd. Any suggestions? Aside from flaunting the name of that American pop-icon from Texas, this task can often be an uphill battle. However, I’ve found that it’s a process of acclamation for youngsters to obtain a propensity for stretchy pants. We mock what we don’t understand. At first glance, the site of a grown man in a second skin adjourned with bright colors and sponsors is confusing and somewhat frightening. However, I’ve noticed that through subtle plugs here and there (i.e. showing a photo of a euro-racer on the podium with two beautiful women kissing him) that the students have come to accept it as the standard issue uniform to a legitimate sport. Let’s be honest, football pants look ridiculous, as do baseball. However, we’ve grown up with them and accept them as All-American. But it still doesn’t change the fact that they look ridiculous. I believe through calculated acclamation, there is hope with our youth to accept and maybe even embrace the lycra-clad community.

You are a yo-yo champion? Yes. Well, to be specific, the 1998 Michigan Yo-Yo State Champion. Amongst many of my lucrative occupational endeavors was that of professional yo-yo demonstrating. I worked for several different companies and actually took a semester off of undergraduate college to yo-yo full time. That is a whole separate story in and of itself.
Ironically, I made more money that year than I did my first year of teaching.

You author two different blogs, The Finkelstein and your Gary Fisher 29er Crew, actively tweet on Twitter and consistently leave comments on various URLs in Blog Nation. Has quality writing and insightful commentary always been one of your strengths? Definitely not. I used to hate reading/writing. However, sometime in college, after being required to write so many papers in my education program, I seemed to become at least proficient at it. To be honest, I am quite insecure about my writing and always am surprised people want to read and actually enjoy my thoughts. I simply started writing for therapeutic purposes and one thing lead to another. I have received emails from people conveying that they feel my writing is inspirational and gives them drive. That makes me really happy, and gives me motivation to continue doing what I do.
Currently, I’m toying with the notion of a book…cycling specific of course.

What’s it like to race a mountain bike for 24 straight hours…and win?
Chris Etough, 6-time 24hr World Champion said, “There is something that happens in a 24 hour race, there is no hiding in a 24hr race, at one point you come face to face with your soul”.
He was right. It’s tough to really put into words what coming face to face with your soul is like. Even now, the feeling of elation from standing on that podium makes me tear up. I cried for about ten minutes after I crossed the finish line.
I could ramble on about this experience for pages so for the detailed report, check out:
This season, my sights are set very high as I have qualified and am registered to compete in the 24hr Solo MTB World Championships in Alberta at the Canmore Nordic Centre on July 25th. I must admit, the aspiration of winning a race of this caliber is a bit of a pipe dream, but then again so was last year's race.

When do you…you know…jettison excess liquids and such during the race?
The art of disposing of liquid waste during a race is really contingent on what type of race it is. If it is a fast Crit race on the road, forget about it, you are either holding it, having “an accident” or DNFing (did not finish). In a long road race, there is actually a pee lane. This is a lane at the back of the pack designated for peeing while continuing to roll on. It is only effectively utilized during race lulls, if attacks are going on at the moment, you are holding it. Just as training your fitness to race is imperative, so is practicing this peeing from the bike technique…you do not want a mess come race day. In a long MTB race, most of the time you can just pull over to the side of the trail and go to town. However, there is no irony in the fact that the line to a stinky porta-potty at a race is always extremely long just before the gun. No one wants to have to ever pee during a race.

What’s a favorite Bible verse?
I would say that changes depending on what I’m going through at the moment.
After recently losing my oldest brother whom I loved and miss dearly, I have found myself finding solace and comfort in Isaiah 40:31which is his confirmation verse.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Over Easter break this past year, I had the words “Wings of Eagles” with a chainring and the number 24 tattooed on my left rib cage close to my heart. I wanted a daily reminder that God is a constant source of strength 24 hours a day and a way to keep my brother close to my heart at all times. It’s my most valued piece of art I own.

There are mornings when two of our three copy machines are down and the other won’t staple, the office-coffee is burned beyond drinkability and kids are whining about wanting a snow day. It’s a struggle to endure. I’m sure that as a teacher at an alternative high school these problems must seem a bit trivial. What is one of the most difficult experiences you’ve had as a teacher that would make my colleagues truly appreciate life at LHN even on a bad day? For anonymity purposes I probably shouldn’t get into any specific stories. I think the biggest challenge working in my environment is having to wear so many more hats than that of “normal” educators. On a daily basis I am expected to perform as a psychologist, psychiatrist, med-distributing nurse, surrogate parent, behavioral analysis expert, special education teacher, gifted student educator, marriage consoler, Medicaid logger, secretary, disciplinarian, Physics teacher, Biology teacher, motivational speaker, nutritionist, personal hygiene coach, etc. the list goes on.
Let me just say this: While at Lutheran North I was once caught cheating in Mrs. Kuschman’s class and punished. I was cheating because I wanted to get a good grade on a quiz. I should have been punished; there are no shortcuts in life. However, you have to recognize I at least had the motivation to want to do well even if it meant taking a shortcut. If I were to ever catch one of my students cheating I’m not sure what I would do first: 1. punish them or 2. Sing praises that they actually had shown initiative to want to do well.
Many of our students come to school without their everyday basic needs met (i.e. food, shelter, love, etc.). According to Maslow, their pyramids are very empty. It is an extreme challenge to try and teach about cellular respiration or the electromagnetic spectrum to a child who may have been evicted from their home the night before or up all night because he/she was listening to their drunken father argue and strike their mother. This is the reality of much of our population. I always tell my students, “I’m not going to pretend I have any idea what it’s like to of gone through what you have, I don’t know where you’ve been, but I do know were you need to go and can help you get there.”

The Life of Finkel is a new pilot for NBC. What actor plays you and what’s the premise for the show? I would like to think my life is interesting/entertaining enough to simply go for the textbook clichĂ© reality theme wherein I would simply play myself. My life definitely does not have a shortage of characters in it that much of the populace would find comedy in. Although I’m not sure it would last much more than one season due to monotony. It seems these days I don’t do much more than rest, ride, recover, ride some more and occasionally work. Perhaps it could be a multi-series documentary as we explore my preparation along with roadblocks in the way of preparing for this year’s Worlds. July 25th could be the big finale.

Recently there has been a rash of food fights at the Mustang CafĂ©. Well, by rash I mean two camera-documented cases. It amazes me that youngsters, despite the ever-probing eye of the security cameras, still loft food in the air. Do you have any quality food-fight memories of lunches well-spent and well-thrown? Miniature carrots, when broken in half and squeezed with your pointer finger and thumb will build up so much static friction the potential energy will eventually be released as mechanical kinetic energy and shoot the carrot projectile extremely far and surprisingly accurate while still remaining inconspicuous. I learned this my junior year and regularly practiced in North’s Cafeteria, the mall food court, and Meijer. I was never caught and became extremely accurate with this practice. You didn’t hear it from me kids.

Recently a local 9th grade girls’ basketball coach named all his inbound plays after legendary American cyclists: Armstrong, Hincappie and Finkel. The latter was the only play that never tallied points for the Fillies. Any explanation? Perhaps because when measured against the accomplishments of Armstrong and Hincappie, my accomplishments are merely marginal. Perhaps, the play is the only one that has never used performance enhancing drugs…whoops, did I just say that? Or maybe, the play needs some time to mature like a fine cheese and it is just waiting for it’s day. Or like a fine cheese, maybe it just stinks.

I’ve tried to relay the infamous OUB/VM (Oakland University Bike/Van Mishap) to my students without glorifying recklessness. Sure, I had only one working brake, I wasn’t familiar with the OU campus terrain and drafting a van seemed like a good idea…until I hit it. What went wrong that fateful day? Cycling is all about attention to detail. The faster you go, the more you are required to be attentive. My coach always tells me that it is my responsibility to protect my front wheel no matter what happens in a race. You did not protect your front wheel that day. A plus that did come out of that scenario is a constant LOL moment for me whenever I look back on it…thanks!

Pop Flies:
Carbon Fiber or Steel? Carbon Fiber
Dry erase boards or Smart boards? Smart boards
Twitter or Flttr? M nt sr hw t nswr tht.
I-phone or curly-corded land line? All hail Steve Jobs and his uncanny ability to tell us what we want/need.
Mr. Himmler or Mrs. Ebert? Mr. Himmler. I look up to anyone who has the patience to whittle.
Ram’s Horn or Gus’ Coney Island in The Clem? Perhaps we should really consult Kevin Bacon on that one.
Breaking Away or Quicksilver? Hands down, Breaking Away
Kickball or dodgeball? Kickball….goooooooooooo Bayside!
Caribou or Starbucks? Ideally homebrew in a French Press, but if I have to choose…Starbucks. Caribou recently increased their prices. A large is now over $2…that is wrong.

One last note, my brother Don was an avid reader of your blog. He particularly enjoyed reading your Left Field interviews. He always used to ask me, “Tim, when are you going to get your interview?” I would like to say it has been an honor to sit down for this interview, my brother would have been very proud.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Mr. Slagel, with Grendel-like stealth, treads through the media center giddy at the opportunity to participate in Wulf-a-Thon 2009.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wulf-a-Thon: 2009

AP Lit's Wulf-a-Thon was an epic success. In a world full cynicism two points remains true: students still clamor for good literature...and a chance to get out of study hall.

Students were responsible for creating the program the artwork, the flyers and reading two pages of the epic poem.

The excitement was feverish early in the day as students flocked to the media center to see what all the hubub was about.

At chapel an invitation was given that promised there would be snacks. That was a marketing mistruth designed to entice students. It worked but there was an outcry from the people.

Free stuff also entices young ones. We gave away programs, bookmarks and a limited supply of Beowulf pencils. Oh, I kept one for my memorabilia display.

When it comes to great epic poetry, students are always willing to listen intently.

It's always a tense situation when students give presentations and speak to their peers.

However, with a support crew like this, all was well.

Wulf-aThon 2009: An event we will all remember.