Legend tells of a mysterious, horned, half-man, half-beast. It dwelluth in the woods of the Pacific North West and has oft-been seen emerging from the trees at bike races, running full pelt up a hill, with an oversized US flag. Its cleated hooves clattering on the asphalt as it screams at the riders. Then, a moment later the man-beast has vanished, retreated back into the evergreens leaving people stunned and confused. What just happened? Was it real? Is it real? Was it wearing a football uniform? Footballers don’t dress like that? Oh they have a different kind of football there, called American football? Not soccer? Righto! But this is cycling, no wait, it's running. But also more like a performance piece, like a Bruce Nauman ‘Double No’ at a bike race...
SJ Hockett managed to track down that legend aka Dore Holte aka Raging Elk Man aka the greatest performance artist of a generation on Skype, unfortunately it was 2 in the morning, and he was kinda snoozy. And confused.
EM: CAN YOU SEE ME?!
TCOD: HOLY SHIT! HAHAHA! Looking good!
[Elk Man in full costume, inc. helmet which may have inpeeded his hearing somewhat]
EM: Thanks, you got yourself a tall cold one there?
TCOD: I have, I’m trying to stay up so I figured a couple of beers was the one. How you doing man?
EM: Oh it’s just like I say man, my agenda is just full tilt uh, lack of sleep and uh, I’m a very motivated person.
TCOD: No shit.
EM: And it catches up with me and uh, I got a lot going on, I took on like a baby, you know? I got a puppy, and. I dunno, it’s more work than I anticipated. You know, I’m just trying to get her situated here. SHES A RACE DOG. She’ll do uh, 40 miles an hour. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the breed, borzoi?
TCOD: I’ve not heard of it but it sounds impressive, I wanted to get a whippet.
EM: OK LETS DO IT.
TCOD: Yeah? I mean I wanted a whippet, I kinda wanted to talk dogs for a minute.
EM: What? You want to Whip to it? Yeah. Yeah yeah. Let’s go.
TCOD: No no no.
EM: I thought you said you wanted to get this thing going?
TCOD: Nah, I’m saying I want a dog as well man. A whippet.
EM: Well it’s the same DNA. They’re all from the Greyhound, or the Saluki is the oldest breed I believe, straight out of Egypt. And the Greyhound I think came from the Saluki. And the Whippet was another off brand of the Saluki. The oldest breed in the world.
TCOD: The Saluki is the original?
EM: I think so. That is really... when you see those Egyptian murals of the dog.
TCOD: Uh huh.
EM: That is the saluki breed. So this is another one that uh, cross bred with a sheep dog and a greyhound, for the Russian winters. Only Russian royalty could own this dog, noble men of Russia. Pre-revolution Russia so the Tzar had a stable of ‘em, now, they fox hound hunted like the British, but instead of foxes they went after bear, and the big Siberian big daddy wolves.
TCOD: Little bit more dangerous?
EM: They’re a formidable frame and, uh, they’re a big dog. But at 40 mph they’re larger than the Greyhound They’ll do about 40mph whereas I think the Greyhound’s 40/46mph, something like that. But uh, yeah, so anyways this dog needs to stretch her legs, she’s been in this big, not like a dog run but we’re gonna expand her territories, with this fence and, uh, the sooner the better cause I, you know I just wanna move on with life.
TCOD: Yeah you gotta let that guy out, get the fence built man. You picking a fast dog so you can train for your running? Is there any correlation there? Or is this pure coincidence?
EM: Oh, absolutely, I grew up with 3 of these borzois, and I haven’t had ‘em since I was a child so uh, we would race them, so these dogs are known to be the most graceful running breed, out of all dogs. They’re magnificent to watch at full stride.
Now, I run the hill. That’s how I condition myself. I ride the bike and I lift weights, that’s about my fitness. So this dog will run the hill with me, and it’s an experiment to get her to uh, she hasn’t started yet, she’s not old enough to er... she’ll just, we’ll do a couple of hill climbs every day but that’s it, her bone plates need to set, you don’t wanna run these puppies too much. Once her bone plates set at 12 to 18 months, then I’ll take her out for competition coursing, but it’s an experiment cause I’ve never done coursing, and I don’t know if I can open with imitation rabbits, and they can win trophies from this. But it’s gonna be an experiment to see how she does with the hill conditioning that we do together. So I’m looking forward to getting her full time running the hill with me.
TCOD: So you gonna take her to races?
EM: Uh, could be but it’s maybe to dangerous cause dogs, I don’t really believe in bringing your dogs to the races, uh I would have her, you know, leave her with family. But uh, it would make good imagery you know? In my get up, you know George Hincapie? I’ll never forget his uh, he was in an Italian suit, full page ad for some accessories proprietor or whatever, and he’s all GQ’d out, he’s a good looking guy, he looks great in a suit, and he’s got a greyhound on his uh, leashed on his hand. And it was just the ultimate GQ shot. And uh, so I could see me, you know, with my good looks, wild side and the borzois, I think it would make a great whatever. You know, website or whatever.
How’s the weather? You guys enjoying your summer there?
TCOD: Nah, it’s really cold, it’s terrible man, it’s terrible.
EM: You’re in the UK though?
TCOD: Yeah, I’m in the North, so it’s cold and wet. It rains a lot.
EM: Sorry to hear that.
TCOD: It’s ok. I’m used to it.
EM: D’yall normally have a decent summer?
TCOD: Nah it’s always kinda cold and wet. Kinda like 15-20 degrees and raining.
EM: That’s as good as it gets?
TCOD: Yup, you get a couple days like 25 degrees, thats the dream but... it’s pretty poor man, I gotta be honest. You?
EM: We’re having uh, we had the best spring I’ve experienced in the North West, so summer came early, early April, normally we don’t get summer till May. Then mild, not too much rain though, it’s called the El Neenya.
TCOD: El Niño?
EM: EL NEEEENYAA.
Can you hear me?
Whereas the rest of the countries having 120 degree heat waves, we’re just, we’ve been over cast and cool like 65-75 degrees.
[realise we have different degrees and he thinks it’s like -25 in the UK in summertime]
I’ll take it considering the rest of the nation is sticky hot or heat waving err... this is really, we’re known as the Switzerland of America where I live and thats why I wanted to show you the other direction with the laptop.
[shows me the view out the window]
Looks like I’ve got mountains behind me from my living room that are comparable to Switzerland. They’re beautiful summers up here and the landscape. I went out with my brother a few days ago for crab, you know, they have a breed of crab here thats just the ultimate.
TCOD: You watch that TV program on Discovery, ‘Deadliest Catch’?
EM: Yup, those are probably king crab though.
TCOD: And Opelio?
EM: They don’t exist in this Washington state area, that’s Alaska, but we’re doing it, and they might have Dungeness up there, but we have Dungeness, it’s available from San Francisco probably up to Alaska.
TCOD: What you drinking there man? Some kind of Protein mix?
EM: It’s a new nutritional supplement my wife introduced me to. I’m just givin’ it a try, supposed to be good for your immune system, high anti-oxidants and this one has a little energy in it too...
STAY TUNED FOR EPISODE 2...