The Road Less Traveled
You might be wondering how and why I ended up driving all the way up to northwest Ohio to go to a picnic. As you might guess it's a long and not so easy answer, but it stems and intertwines from many of my interests and pursuits.
The not-so-short answer is Atomic Athletic, an incredible resource for strength and fitness equipment and all sorts of things that might be of interest to a "physical culturalist".
Again, I'm going to need to devote a separate post to the story behind my discovery of Atomic Athletic, but after a brief phone call with Roger LaPointe, the President and driving force of the company, about an order I had placed, I was struck by his passion and incredible knowledge.
I was more than a little curios about this Olde Time Strongman Picnic he had been hosting for the last several years.
Truth be told, I loved the T-shirt and poster for the event and I wanted to save a little money on shipping.
Much Ado About.....
Skye and I pulled up to the picnic at around 11:30 a.m. We had driven a long way and we didn't want to miss a thing.
I really didn't know what to expect or when the various demonstrations and events were taking place. The poster said 11 am - 6pm, but from the looks of things, they were still setting up.
There were a couple of pop-up tents, some folding tables and chairs, maybe a dozen people. I was beginning to think we had driven 11 hours for nothing. We decided to grab some breakfast and come back in a bit.
After looking at the website for information on the event, I saw that it started at one o'clock. When we returned, there were a few more people, but not the extravaganza I had been expecting.
The picnic was, if nothing else a gathering of niche sub-cultures, definitely not mainstream, right up my alley.
So it was quite fitting that there was a demonstration of the Atlatl, a primitive weapon that predates the bow and arrow, going back some 12,000 years. I gave it a go and after a dozen tries managed to get the spear to stick in the target maybe twice. Skye was a natural at it and before long was zeroing in on the bulls-eye. It was amazing the power generated from little more than a flick of the wrist.
Power lifting is a niche in the weight lifting world which is a sub-culture of the fitness world. The 2012 USAWA Heavy Lifts Championship which was happening at the picnic and consisted of 3 lifts; the Hand and Thigh Lift, the Neck Lift and the Hip Lift, was a very thin slice of the physical culture world, made up of very devoted and focused specialists.
A Niche to Make My Neck Ache
I had read about the various lifts but I couldn't quite imagine them. Even in person, what was going on was pretty unfathomable. I think my spine compressed a bit just watching them lift. By the end of the day records were broken and 860 lbs was hoisted up.
Age Is Only a Number
Speaking of numbers, Dennis Michell, 80 years old lifted 400 lbs in the Hand and Thigh lift.
That is impressive on several levels.
The Atlas Stone
Having lifted my fair share of heavy and awkward things, I had always wondered about how I would do with the Atlas Stones I've seen on World's Strongest Man competitions and the like.
There was a stone there that weighed 282 pounds. I picked up things that weighed that much before, just not in the shape of a sphere.
And I still haven't lifted. I was able to roll the thing around but there was no way I was getting that thing off the ground.
I have an 8" diameter concrete sphere that weighs in at around 20 pounds that I made from a mold I got from Slater's Hardware and I was thinking about getting another mold but didn't know how big to go. I have a better idea now.
Bending Nails & Blowing Up Balloons
Some how we missed the bending of a metal skillet, although I did see the end result being paraded around by a little kid. We did get to see the Strongman perform a couple of other stunts, much to my regret I have forgotten his name, he seemed like quite an amiable fellow on top of being able to burst hot-water bottles and bend nails while in a wrestler's bridge.
Skye with one of the many nails he bent that day.
I could handle this weight fairly easily and was even able to lift them when they loaded them up to the competition level, not sure what that weight was.
But I wasn't about to embarrass myself and enter into the competition. I wasn't the only one who backed away from that one. In fact, there were only to participants. A skinny high school kid who just got a few feet, (the weights were heavier than he was) and then a bouncer who ran up and back down the field with them.
After being at the event for a few hours, I realized that there were a couple of vendor booths set up inside.
There was a kettle bell challenge. Having never really lifted kettle bells before, I skipped on this as well. Skye on the other hand was chomping at the bit to give it a try. She works out with them in the Fast Track class she does over at X-3. I vetoed this. She had been in the hospital for the previous week and was on an IV the day before.
I held off buying more stuff, although there were several books and DVDs that peaked my interest.
Checking out the "Museum"
Roger's wife, Lisa was kind enough to walk us over to the Atomic Athletic showroom and warehouse and give us a guided tour. I was able to check out several things that I had been eying from afar on the internet.
And its a good thing I did. I had been looking at the Globe Barbells and toying with possibly getting a set. Until that is I tried moving it around. Like the Atlas Stone, it looked much more manageable than it actually is. It will be some time until I will be anywhere close to being able to use such a beast in my training.
I also got to check out various stone padlocks, Indian Clubs and all sorts of other things that I had only seen before on the internet. It was quite an experience.
I ended up getting some dumb bell bars for the Iron Boots(also purchased from Atomic Athletic) I have back in Atlanta as well as a pair of Plate Loaded Kettlebell Handles.
I think I showed a goodly amount of restraint.
All in all it turned out to be a pretty cool experience. I am in awe and wonderment not just in regards to the ridiculous amount of weight being moved around but also to the focus and discipline. I being a jack-of-all-trades have an impossible time sticking with routines and such. It definitely gave me a little food for thought.
A big thank you to Atomic Athletic for hosting the event and to all those who participated.