Fly Tying Class – Lunch Delay

There will eventually be more to this post in the way of details relative to tying flies about the class I taught last Sunday, March 25th in Brewer, Maine, for The Penobscot Fly Fishers Club. Right now, before I finish tying some flies for an order, I have to get this out there. My mind won’t let me hold this in any longer.

Things started off Sunday morning early with the news that the fine staff of grandmotherly women cooks (for the most part as I recollect from last year, there were a couple elderly men helping there too), who made a delicious lunch last year of home-made chicken pot pie and ginger cake with whipped cream at the Penobscot County Conservation Association where the class was held, would not be feeding us this year. Whew. Mike, the man in charge for the club quickly followed that announcement by saying, “That doesn’t mean we’re not having lunch.”

A quick poll and discussion ensued and the choice of pizza from nearby City Side Restaurant was determined. Get a bunch of men together and pizza can always be a hit. Ladies like their “pie” too.

About noon, Mike came up and quietly informed me, “Go ahead and start the next pattern. I’m leaving in thirty minutes to pick up the pizza.” So we proceeded to tie a reduced, two-strip version of the old wet fly pattern, Split Ibis. About 45 minutes later, Mike returned – empty-handed. Informing the group that the pizza wasn’t ready, he explained, “They got the belt sander races goin’ on there today, they’re pretty backed up.”

OK. I couldn’t help it. I’m blue-collar redneck from fairly rural Pennsylvania, which is, as James Carville once described, “Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between,” but my jaw dropped as I queried,” “Belt sander races? Belt sander races?” I never heard of it, but I knew instantly it had to be a redneck thing.

Apparently belt sander racing is quite a big deal, and in doing a quick internet search I found that it’s catching on across the country. Here is the link I found to the specific event, the popularity of which had been responsible for the delay of our lunch. My friends will tell you, not to get between me (or my brother) and food when hunger is a condition. But I was working so I acted professionally and disciplined; since I can be a gentleman when the need arises. This, despite the fact that Quill Gordon, writer of a good blog called; The View From Fish in A Barrel Pond, and in this post:

seems overly eager to relate what he perceives are a number of stories – I read that he used the word “many” – an obvious exaggeration, which have the common theme of me being in my underwear. I am really only aware of two. Or maybe three…not “many.”

Here is a link to the Portland Press Herald article, complete with a video of screaming belt sanders that you can watch:

And you can only guess, there are both Stock and Modified Divisions. There is even an official, BSRA organization, the Belt Sander Racing Asssociation. Rev ’em up boys! And girls. Check out the videos of the BSRA Las Vegas events, and yup, they got your scantily-clad cheer-leaders in their tight faux NASCAR uniforms.

I asked about “making it interesting,” as Seinfeld character George Costanza once stated in an episode, and of course it’s illegal, but I doubt that will deter Mainers (or Pennsylvanians) from doing it.

A bit later I thought of another idea, maybe not as appealing for lack of speed, but they could use orbital sanders on the floor, place them in a big circle (or square) and then award prizes to the machine that is the first one out of the circle. Or the one that stays in the longest. Kind of the electric version of cow chip bingo. More opportunities to “make it interesting.” Fundraisers for fire halls, clubs, etc.

By the way, the racing must have been pretty intense, because it wasn’t until at least an hour later that our pizza was finally delivered.

This sport has spawned such phrases as “In Grit We Trust,” and gives new meaning to the phrase, “Eat My Dust.” Anyone for a floor buffer riding contest?

10 comments on “Fly Tying Class – Lunch Delay

  1. Kelly L says:

    I have never heard of belt sander races. I looked at the link and about flipped. I know I helped my son with a derby car for Cub Scouts. That seemed a little more exciting than belt sander races to me. You learn something new everyday…lol. Sorry y’all had to go hungry while the belt sander crowd was in full swing.

  2. Scott Bernard says:

    Don, that’s a great bunch of guys. I’m sorry I missed the class this year. I hope you come again next year.

    • Hi Scott;
      They are a great bunch of guys and good tiers too. My friend that came along commented to me after ward that everyone kept up with the pace. If I am back next year, whether or not I am invited to return to Bean’s; perhaps I can still work something out for a weekend or two in Maine. Don Corey said he was going to have me at his shop if the club declined. So prospects look good! Thanks for your comment! Have a good season!

  3. Dave Lomasney says:

    I just tuned up my Rockwell 4x 21 inch sander an put some alum oxide 50 grit on her…she’s ready to rip this weekend…the heck with opening day!…the races are in town!

    As Larry the Cable Guy Says..”that’s some funny stuff right there, I’ll tell you what”..!

    I can hear them now…”I almost won, but I blew a Belt !”

    Thanks Don..that made my day!..LMAO!

  4. Quill Gordon says:

    I am an angler; more than 1 = many.

    • Of course! Made me laugh! The exaggeration factor is unlimited. I used to work with a one-armed man. He loved to tell the story of how he went fishing and held up his (one) arm and told everyone, “I got one this big!”
      Some writer in the past penned something like this:

      “All fishermen are liars except me and thee, and sometimes I’m not so sure about thee.” If I had to guess off the top of my head I’d say that was Ed Zern.
      Remind me to never believe you when you tell me how many fish you caught. 😉

  5. Norman Plourde says:

    I really enjoyed the day of tying. Wasn’t sure I was going to attend until I spoke to Don Corey. Didn’t think I had the ability to take part. The class ended up being a confidence boost. I can’t thank you enough and look forward to next year. (The left hand tyer)

    • Hi Norman!
      Thank you very much for making your comment here! I appreciate it very much! I hope you didn’t feel singled out because you were the one in ten “lefty.” 😉 Not that there’s anything wrong with that… 🙂 I am glad you came, and I am very pleased you enjoyed the class.
      I can definitely plan another class next year if the club is willing, regardless of what my March schedule may be…thanks again!

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