Sunday, March 11, 2018

Frozen Custer

I had a team meeting today so we arranged a pre-meeting ride. I loaded up Albert because I knew the Fort would be rock solid. Indeed it was, with temps in the teens as we started.

Jay, Byrne, and Lisa were there. New teammate Rafael was there along with Lisa's brother Brian. We took off down the red loop to ground that was frozen...but this is where I had some disappointment. I was disapponted by the number of ruts I was seeing. Not just ruts, but ruts that were frozen into the trail, making a very rough surface. So, I need to say this....


Ok, back to the ride. The pace was expected. I got dumped right away, which isn't much of a surprise. So I just rode my pace and eventually roped in Rafael. I had to stop and do a minor brake adjustment because it was driving me crazy squeaking. Once fixed I was back at it. I was riding an ok pace, but I was really not using my brakes much. I was riding a pace that I was comfortable with in the descents and with the corners, only having to shave speed once in a while. 

The reason? Panaracer Fat B Nimbles. I bought those tires for snow riding, but I found where they excel. Gravel and hard packed frozen dirt. I was able to just throw the bike into the corners and feel confident that I was getting traction. I would say this was by far the most confident I have been on the fat bike...on a trail....since I bought it 2 years ago. 

Overall, it was a good ride...about 8 miles. Way better than the basement!

N+1 is at the bike shop, just need some funds.

Keep moving!!!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Out and About

Dug The D.U.F.F. out of the garage and dusted her off. New chain, tune, and she was ready to roll. Got up Saturday and headed to Yankee Springs to meet Matt, Mike and Nate for some dry singletrack. Yes, dry....singletrack....the first weekend of March. When I pulled in the parking lot was packed. Not unexpected this time of year. We geared up and headed out.

Saturday is the direction that I don't like at Yankee. Maybe it is because I don't it good enough backwards, or is because there is a huge HUGE climb in the middle that I dread the entire time until I am at the top of the hill. But, for training purposes I need to ride this direction to get a better feel for the course. The Yankee TT is on a Saturday this year, so....trying to learn.

We started off. The first rock garden was approaching and I sped up, attacked it...and cleared it. NICE. I was actually feeling pretty good. The trail was in amazing shape. No mud, dry, no sand. Just...Solid Yankee. The worst part....Yankee never lets up. Seems like short recovery and then a climb. Short recovery....climb. Eventually we made it to the switchback climb and I watched as the other guys rode away. Mike waited for me as I slogged up the hill. Then the next section. Ugh, the damn climb feels like it goes forever. Much better going the other direction!

We hit the top and took the awesome descent down to the pines. I love it back there, so quiet. I had a slight hangup and had to put a foot down. Pulled, and I hear a twing....which was the last hurrah for my right pedal. 4 Miles to go, on a flat pedal. ugh. Still, I was able to find a sweet spot and hold my cleat there for the most part, but climbing was a challenge. Apparently I do actually follow thru and pull on my pedal stroke.

I plodded along and finally go the guard rail descent. Fast down the ditch and I let Mike by so he could chase down the other guys. Rode solo the last 2 miles back and just enjoyed being out in the woods on a crisp morning. Felt good to be out on the mountain bike. Do I have work to do? Well, yes...but we already knew that.

Sunday I headed to Hastings for a Barry Roubaix training ride. Not wanting to add any more dirt to The D.U.F.F. I pulled Albert out of the garage. Yes, a 38 pound fat bike for a gravel ride. Sweet. Temps were about the same as the day before, but the wind was up adding a chill to the air.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Fluery via Facebook

Today I was met by a handful of teammates. Mike was there too...but he flew off the front with his buddy Nate and we never saw them again. Because we left from Hastings the 3 sisters were waiting patiently a few miles in. First sister, not too bad. Second sister, not terrible. Third sister, cleared it! I haven't made that damn climb in a few seasons so I was stoked to start the ride with a victory!

Roads were in great shape and we cruised around Barry County. Matt, David, and Dillon would put some distance on Brian and I, but we were regrouping at the top of the long climbs. After the sisters we continued to where the 22 mile course takes a left. Having never ridden the short course I didn't know what I was in for. Surprise....huge F'ing hill. Steep too. So I put my head down and spun up the hill...very slowly. We regrouped and continued on.

I knew "the wall" was coming up, but I wasn't sure where we were. Finally we hit the intersection I wasn't looking forward to and "the wall" started to creep up on us. The hill is simply intimidating. Steep. Instead of giving up, I just dropped to my low gear and spun away. Brian and I reached the top and enjoyed the downhill that followed. So, second small victory. I cleared the 3 sisters and the wall. Not sure when the last time was I cleared both in a single ride. SWEET.

Eventually we hit the home stretch. Dillon was starting to drop back some and I was still feeling pretty good. David and Matt went off the front and I eventually put some distance on Brian and Dillon. (I say some distance...because it wasn't very much). I had a solid finish and a great ride. When I think about was a great weekend in Southwest Michigan to be a cyclist.

First race in less than 5 weeks!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2018 Season Preview

First things first, I am down 15 pounds since the first of the year. That is good. Still working on it, but I know you are tired of hearing about I will move on and let you know what my plans are for this year.

Not sure if you know or not, but I am a member of Custer Cyclery/Territorial Brewing Company/Giant Bicycles/Kong Coolers Mountain bike race team. A mouthful for sure, but that is how we roll......get it....roll.

Check in on the team here!

Check out the shop here!

Need a beer? Head to Territorial!

Look at the awesome lineup of Giant Bicycles here!

or maybe the womens line LIV here!

And one last stop for your picnic needs!

Now onto the season. I am signed up for 3 races already along with the MMBA Championship Point series. My plan is to race and finish early in the season, then come on strong towards the end of the season. Here is my tentative schedule:

Lowell 50 (signed up)
Barry Roubaix (signed up)
Yankee Springs (signed up)
Fort Custer
Island Lake XC
Hanson Hills
TK Lawless
Sweat Shaker
Holland 100 (not a race)
Big M
Ore to Shore (maybe)
Glacial Hills
Addison Oaks
Lord of the Springs
Pontiac Lake (if needed)

I won't be doing all of these, but the first 5 weeks of the season has 4 events. 2 Gravel and 2 MMBA races will keep me moving for the next 5 weeks until I toe the starting line again.

So, the last ride of February will land me ahead of January in mileage. Not enough miles, but solid miles none the less. I do plan to ride Yankee and a Barry Roubaix this weekend to really start enjoying this early spring. In these early races I might not be very competitive. I might finish DFL. I just need to see what I am capable of and get my mind set right. I haven't raced in over a year. The way I look at it...I will be out there...hanging out with friends....working to get faster, fitter, better.

If you are headed to Melting Mann keep an eye out for the team.

Get out and ride! See you on the trails.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Cruising around Holland

What was supposed to be a group ride was cancelled due to icy conditions on Riley trails. Instead, the 4 that missed the message headed out towards Lake Michigan.

After a short ride to the beach we hiked over the dune to see an icy and glacier filled Lake Michigan. We took a turn south and rode for about a mile down the beach. The sand was fairly solid close to the water and there were some tracks from other riders. 

Once we hit an area where it would have been more hiking than biking we turned around. Because of the way the ice dunes were, we were fairly sheltered by the wind, but it was there. Temps were in the low 40's but the wind was making it just a bit cool.

We rode around 2 miles to the south before hitting "private property" areas with their water fences. Once again we turned around. The pic above shows some deer prints. They were stretching down the beach for at least a mile. They meandered up away from the water and back down to the water. Anywhere from 2 to 4 sets could be seen at a time. 

After the beach we had to hike back over the dune. The loose sand made the hike brutal. Once we made it over the dune we rode back to Riley. Matt was on a rental fatty and still wanted to ride more, so we headed out on the paved trails. We rode away from the beach before turning south. Feeling pretty good about being outside, we kept rolling south until we hit Douglas Ave and made the turn to Holland State Park. There were lots of people parked and looking at the Lake. 

The channel leading to Lake Macatawa was full of ice bergs. The icebergs were floating all around the lake too. Looked pretty cool.

Matt and I headed back north and arrived back at Riley Trails. 17.4 miles overall. Speed doesn't matter, but the ride was awesome. Felt really good to be outside instead of hiding in the basement. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Do work

RIP Big Black. This post is for you....DO WORK

January is moving by rather quickly. Already we flew past the middle of the month and are rapidly approaching the end of the month. In the past, I have been touching 300 miles in the Month of January. Most of those miles were on the trainer. This year, I have already surpassed my totals for January of 2017. The totals are not outstanding, or overpowering, but they are what I would deem as solid.

Solid because of the circumstances. I lost 3 days. Not just in training, but of my life. I had some type of crud that pushed my temperature over 103 degree and gave me strange phantom pains in my entire body. So on the 4th day I mustered a trainer session. Then another short session before having what I can only explain as vertigo the following weekend. This caused me to lose another 2 full days and then another 2 days before I actually felt good enough to train again. Basically I lost a full week, so January is looking ok.

I did a group ride on Zwift with Matt, which was interesting. We met and started riding together. He destroyed me on a long climb. I could see him, but he was adding distance in what seemed like every second. As odd as a virtual ride is, a virtual group ride is even stranger. I say strange because it is exactly like real life. I would get dropped on the climb and catch up on the descent. Real. Strange. The ride was good though and chasing Matt made the hour go by faster than expected.

I had a couple of other sessions on Zwift making my legs feel better each ride. They are nowhere near "back" but they are at least welcoming an hour on the trainer. One ride I was at 18mph average speed for the first 30 minutes. The issue, I have zero endurance and couldn't hold it. Ended up under 16 mph for the ride. That last half hour was awful. The next ride I paced and was around 17 mph at 30 minutes and finished at 16.8 for the duration. Moral of the story, pacing is much smarter for me than going all out. 

That reminds me of my first year in Sport class. I can ride "tempo" for a long time, but I cannot ride "fast" for a long period of time. I set goals of consistent lap times and not worrying about placement. My first XC race I was within a few minutes on lap times. I saw people that had stupid fast first laps and then 10 or 12 minutes slower second laps. That was exactly how I felt on the trainer session the night for a short distance....and trashed for the remainder of the ride. Ride smarter....

Last night was something totally different. I saw Grand Rapids Bicycle Company was doing a no-drop ride at Yankee. I figured it would be a 5-7 mile ride on fattys and that would be perfect. An hour or so of riding out in the dark on the snow at Yankee. Well, I was wrong. We started off with the group of 4 riders on the main trail. Little did I know, we were riding the entire 11 mile loop. Not a bad deal in itself, but Yankee is difficult for me when the trails are dry, let alone on a 38 pound tank in the snow. Thankfully the trail was in amazing shape. 
Stolen without permission from Matt Acker's facebook

As you can see from the picture above (that was taken during the day today), the trail is sweet. The odd thing is, I have never ridden Yankee in the dark, let alone snow. I have ridden a Turkey Burner on "snow" but never a full blown fatty ride at Yankee. Because the trail was so awesome it made riding in the dark easier. As the other three guys would disappear I would still see an eerie glow of their lights. Then you would see them coming towards you, before disappearing again. The snow made it almost light out. The darkness didn't bother me because it would be hard for something to sneak up on you in the crunchy snow. 

The ride was hard, but I did the whole loop with the encouragement from Chris and the other two guys (who I don't know). I just plodded away a mile at a time. That damn long switchback climb (that sucks in the summer) was even worse in the snow. I just have zero climbing power in my legs right now, so I just got off and pushed. Not going to lie, I was off the bike more than I wanted to be....but it is January and I am heavy. I was out there in the dark and cold and snow.....riding my bike and having a blast....once it was over. lol. I survived. 

I am off to a good start on my journey of 2018. I know it is a marathon and not a sprint. I know it is ok to rest. I know it is ok to have setbacks. I know that the only way to get to where I want to be is to keep moving forward. So that is what I will do....

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Happy New Year!

Ok, so...WHOOPS! It has been a minute since I blogged. So, let me see.....

Not much has been going on. I won't waste time, I will just give a snap shot.
New tires for Albert.
New Years Day......ride. Solid 6 miles in sub zero temps.
Trainer set up.

Sickness.....for a few days. ugh.

So 2018 started off good. I headed to Fort Custer and rode Albert in the snow for real. It was cold and a lot of fun. Then I had a nice trainer ride to get re-acclimated. Hit the gym, was feeling good. Then trainer again the next night. But then the wheels came off. Took Friday off as rest and got stupid sick over the weekend. So plan to jump on the bike again tonight. 

Plan it to head into race season by getting my ass kicked....and finishing the year competing. 

It happens one pedal stroke at a time.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A gravel ride and a crash

I have been wanting to do a gravel road ride for a while. It has been calling me. Especially since I signed up for the 36 mile Founders Fall Fondo on October 15th. I knew I should probably do at least one long gravel ride. It just so happens that Grand Rapids bicycle company was having a demo with Cannondale. GRBC also does a gravel ride every Thursday. It worked out that I was able to ride. I was also able to demo a Cannondale Slate for the ride. They normally have a 30ish mile loop, but because of the demo they had a shorter 18 mile loop set up as well. I was feeling froggy and was going to do the longer loop until I figured out they were leaving at different times. My plan was to make the decision of route based on how I was feeling. Instead, I opted for the shorter loop for a few reasons. First, I was on a demo bike. I didn't want to figure out it was uncomfortable and be miserable for 30 miles. Second, I haven't ridden that far this all. So not a big deal, I opted for the shorter loop.

It was awesome to be out on gravel....on a gravel specific bike. The ride didn't start fast. Just cruising. It pretty much stayed there. The group was pretty diverse. While I would have been a weaker link in the longer group, I was one of the stronger in the shorter distance group. It was an interesting ride, especially when it got dark. A shockingly large amount of people in the group didn't have lights. At one point I let the group go an was hanging back with a few people. There ended up being 4 of us back. I was the only one with a light. I led them back to the group. It was a solid group ride and I will have another post about the bike. 

Today, I headed to Cannonsburg with Nate and Pears. With all the recent rain I was looking forward to a tacky trail. I was not disappointed. Trail was in great shape, just covered by some wet leaves. I do like this trail, but I am in no shape for climbing....which is why I went there. Not gonna get any faster by avoiding the is time to embrace it. I had a pretty good ride. We were just cruising. I was always last one up the hills, but it doesn't matter....I was out there. We were just back on the normal loop after riding the connector back from the West loop, and it happened. I let my front wheel drift high on a berm and the side knobs grabbed, pulling the bike out from under me. I was pulled to the ground, landing on my left shoulder and knee. Happened pretty quick. I tried to think back to the last time I crashed, and I cannot put my finger on how long it has been. At least 4 years ago was the last time I was on the ground. At least it wasn't a high speed, high injury type of crash. It was a slower speed slam to the ground. My days of riding without incident just got reset to "zero".