Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Busy Memorial Day Weekend

The weekend started off right. I took my wife out to see Pitch Perfect 2 and then we went to dinner. After dinner we headed home and I packed up for Saturday.

Jay, Lisa and I met at the Kal-Haven trail head in Kalamazoo. We were set up for 70ish miles of rail trail going from Kalamazoo to South Haven and back. We were ready to rock...and off we went. It was chilly. Like....in the 40's chilly. I didn't have a base layer and poor Lisa didn't have her regular shoes, just her riding sandals. Needless to say, I was a little chilly for the first part of the ride.

Jay was setting the pace....and it was rough. I knew going in that I wanted to do a tough ride to test endurance and my Infinite custom blend. This was the perfect place.....5 hours of flat hard riding. The worst part of this ride...is knowing that you are going to be pedaling for 71 miles. We were trucking.....Gobles, Bloomingdale....town after town just ticking by. Then you start to notice that the lake is getting close. Lake Michigan for those of you that don't know. We arrived in South Haven 2 hours and 3 minutes after we left Kalamazoo. 34 miles.....17 mph. I barely average that on the road...so thankfully Jay was there to pull Lisa and I along. It was by far the fastest I have ever made it  to South Haven. We rode to North Shore and took the pic above. Refilled the water bottles at the trailhead and off we went back to Kalamazoo.

The return trip is never as fast.....because it is uphill the whole way. I say that jokingly, but it really is. The problem is that you have to pedal the whole way....no recovery. With 30 miles to go....you are still confident. I was holding onto Jay's wheel for all I was worth. Lisa was tucked in right behind me. We were good. 25 miles to go....that was over. I couldn't hold his wheel anymore. Jay would gap and drop back....gap and drop back. We were holding on for dear life and failing. Eventually Lisa started to tire and commanded me to continue on without her. She knew my purpose on this ride, and she didn't want to be the reason I slowed down. It didn't matter. We regrouped in Bloomingdale with about 17 to go. Jay was waiting in Gobles for us and I was just plugging away. Jay eventually caught back up to me again and we ticked away the miles. Finally we reached the final climb to the Kalamazoo trail head and I caught a glimpse of the parking lot. Don't. 71.2 miles with an average speed of 15.3mph overall. My fastest previous ride was 14mph....so a dramatic difference in speed. 

Sunday I helped my lovely wife take pictures all day for the dance studio. Then we headed over to visit with some  friends. Got home late and packed up for Monday. Jay, Dan, Jimmy and I were headed to Owasippe to meet with Bob and some of the Team Troll group.
Awesome trail!

We got to Owasippe just before 9am and the rain was holding off. It was very grey and overcast, but only sprinkles on the way in. We spent a lot of time last year in this area when taking Megan to Blue Lake, but never had a chance to ride last year. Because the trail in in a boy scout camp they close it while the scouts are there. So we took the day we had to get a ride in.

Bob, Scott, and Marc met us at the trailhead and off the 6 of us went. The outer loop is 13 miles. There are some of the toughest and longest climbs I have ever experienced on a bike. Like....long....nasty....grinding...steep....awful....climbs. But the downhills.....damn. Fast. Mostly flow. Awesome.

One of the 2 Bridge Crossings on the Short Loop
We all headed out for the first loop. The group quickly segmented, but I stayed with the leaders. The pace was tough....but I was using this ride as a major training ride too. After all, Lumberjack is only a month away. We got back to the trailhead and a few guys bailed out. Not an easy trail by any means...and I know exactly how they felt. 2 years ago I felt like I was going to die when riding here.

So, the four remaining headed out for another lap. There is a cut-off just over 7 miles in...take the long way and it is 13 miles total....take the short way and it is about 9 miles total. Since we hit the long loop we wanted to see what was on the short loop. 2 bridge crossings...over NASTY water. Stink. Just go...ride straight across like you are riding trail and you have no issues. You look at the water....you ass is walking home because you are not getting into any car I own smelling like that. lol. I thought that...and Jay said that on our last lap. We got back to the trailhead and Jay and I talked over another loop. We played it by ear and said we would decide at the turnoff which way we were taking. After 71 miles on Saturday I opted for the short loop. Jay thankfully agreed and we hung a left onto the shorter loop. Jay was giving me words of encouragement on the climbs. It was like I had my own personal team manager screaming in my ear while riding the tour...ALLEZ ALLEZ, VENTE VENTE VENTE.   We got back to the car and had just over 30 miles of hilly single track. Legs torched.

Lumberjack is a month away. I am feeling better all the time on the bike. The longer rides are working and as nervous as I am about 100 miles in the dirt....I am confident as well. It won't be easy, but I will do my best...and hope for the best. Today the legs felt pretty good, for the most part. I would expect nothing less with the hard rides we did this weekend. 100+ miles in 2 rides. Solid training. Thanks to everyone for the company and the nudge when I needed it.

We have Zacks graduation party this weekend on Saturday. Hope to get out for a long ride Sunday and just keep piling up the miles. I am nearly to my mileage total from last year. I expect to surpass it in June....probably on the Lumberjack ride. Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fort Custer Stampede

It was a beautiful day at the Fort Custer recreation area. Zack, Zoe, Chelle and I got there about 8:30 and helped Jay set up the tent. It was still pretty quiet but it didn't take long for the activity to start. While we were waiting of the race to start we went over and checked out the Kids race course. Zoe wanted to see what it was like. She walked a few of the hills....but was excited. 

We cheered for our friends racing Expert and Elite, then we headed over for the kids race. A pretty good group of kids were there so they broke it up into a few groups. Zoe was in the first group and they had to do 3 laps. I was following, but a little guy crashed and I was helping him out. I stayed with him to make sure he was good. When we got to the home stretch on the first lap there was another boy walking....pouting a bit. He had dropped his chain. I jumped off and got his chain back on and sent him on his way. Went back to following the little guy again. It was funny because as I went by all the parents and they CHEERED for me just as loud as the kids. lol. Zoe was the second finisher and she had a blast!

So, my start time was approaching. I went and did a warm up ride and then headed to the start area. I was chatting with Ross and Brian. We were trying to figure out who was in our class and who was in the other class that they combined with us. Not sure.....it was time to go. 3, 2, 1....

And we were off. There were 24 Sport Clydes.....and the start didn't seem blistering....but we were stretching out pretty quick. I got in front of Brian and tried to settle into a pace. It was fast....probably too fast. I was just trying to hold onto the wheels in front of me. There was lots of passing and jockeying for position. We turned into Crazy Beaver and there was still a long line of riders. It was very cool to see because it was just a long snake.....no...a train.....that was meandering through the woods. Normally we don't see many people...so 30ish people all riding together was a cool thing to see. We made it up the first little climb and headed towards the trenches at the end of the red course. I knew there were riders behind me, and I heard "on your left" as a 15-18 year old tried to pass. I say tried because when he WENT...there was no ground...he went right off one of the trenches. About a mile later 2 more passed on the right...it was clear...but they about caused a huge crash with the guy in front of me. Don't get me wrong...they were surely faster...but they were picking terrible places to pass....where there was zero room....and they very easily cold have gotten hurt....or hurt someone else.

I was a bit ahead of Brian...and then he caught me again. We pretty much rode together for the rest of the first lap. I was pushing as hard as I could....fearing that I would POP at any minute. At the end of the first lap I grabbed a bottle from Zack and took a gel. Brian gapped me and a few other guys got between us. Eventually I lost him. I had to slow down and just tried to settle into a pace. There were still a lot of people to ride with...so I tried to just hang on if I could. It finally thinned out. I would catch a rider now and then...and another would catch me. In the Amusement park I saw a few guys stopped and realized that one was Brian. There was a log sticking out over the trail and it had smashed him right in the face. I asked if he was ok and he responded "I will be"....and I figured he was shaken...but ok....so I pressed on. I was slowing down...but I wasn't giving up. I was just going as hard as I could. 

4 miles to go.....keep going. Legs are fried. Is that Fred? Nope. Keep going. Surprisingly I was passing a few more people. They were running out of steam because we were nearing the end of the race. Knowing Brian was chasing I pressed on. I was worried about Ross blasting me right at the end too....but he had a mechanical and was forced to drop out. 3 miles to go....closer. I caught a Cross Country guy and drafted off of him for a while until the turn onto the pavement. I let it rip to get past him and shot back into the final stretch of single track. I saw Fred. Knowing for sure he is my class I tried to catch him.....but just didn't have the legs left to close the gap. I closed within 6 seconds...but he still got me.

My final time was 1:52. Good enough for 13th out of 24 in the Sport Clyde class. Zack did a fantastic job and finished 5th in Beginner Men 15-18. Lisa took 1st in her class and David W. took 3rd in the Sport Clyde class. The leaders were fast. lol. Brian wasn't far behind me....but thanks to a freak stick to the face I beat him by a small margin.

Next race for me is Lumberjack 100. Got lots of riding to do before then....

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yankee Springs Time Trail 2015 Review

Jay and I got to Yankee Springs early to set up shop. Brian was there walking the dogs and came to the site to help us as well. It was cold when we got there....overcast and windy. Temps were in the 40's and it was chilly. But....before I get ahead of myself.....

Saturday evening as I was packing up and getting ready my allergies started to flare. I was thinking that it wasn't a big deal...until I woke up at 3am Sunday morning sneezing and with a very sore throat. Lymph node under my the right side of my chin was super swollen and hurting. Perfect feeling on the night before a race. The best part was...the little girls were up and ready for me to go Sunday morning so that was a bonus. lol.

So...we were set up and ready to go pretty early. We didn't go down to the start, but we knew a lot of people that were on the course. Those are super fast guys and girls. We were chatting with Dennis and we saw Jordan and Simonson come flying through. Those guys are just ridiculous fast. Sub 44 minutes on their first lap. Crazy.

Finally I started to get dressed. Nose running. Sneezy. Hit the 2 mile loop trying to get everything opened up and headed to the start line. Everyone was chatting and then it was time for me to go...when Martin says "hold on" and makes me WAIT! They were running a bit ahead because of the people that didn't show up. So I looked at him and said "this is like getting on a roller coaster and having it break down right before you go...NOT FAIR". He just smiled and said "couldn't have happened to a nicer person!". So it was time to go....3, 2, 1. GO. and I was off.

First mile wasn't terrible.....second was worse...third was WORSE yet. I was just plugging away but I was having trouble getting that deep breath that I needed. Lungs just would not cooperate. By the time I got to the guard rail climb I was blown. I just plugged away and kept going. A few people caught me right away, but not as many as I figured would. And these guys....Kudos....they were polite and asked to pass when there was an opening. I was keeping an eye and ear open too....because I was having a bad day...I didn't want to hold anyone up. By mile 5 I was like "ok, almost halfway". I still wasn't feeling the greatest...but hey....on the home stretch.

Just keep plugging away....a slow time is better than not finishing. I was shooting for an hour.....but I missed that. I was about 3 miles from the finish and was really struggling. Just wanted to be done. I really like mile 11 to 12 out there at Yankee. A guy passed me right before the 11 mile marker. This is where I am fastest on the course...so I stayed with him. He got a little off kilter in one of the sandy sections and I got past him. I put the hammer down and never saw him again. One guy stayed with me and passed after a while...but he was definitely drafting off of me for a bit. I just love that section.  

So I finished. Took 19th in my class. Way off the leaders....but I can't complain. 1:07 was my finish time. Faster than last year. Feeling awful. So.....next up is Fort Custer Stampede. Hope to feel better and compete a bit more in that race.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Barry Roubaix.....didn't want to play

It was an empty parking lot when I got to the Long Lake Outdoor Center on Saturday morning. 2 cars. Surprising for only 2 weeks before the Barry Roubaix...but then again...everyone starts in Hastings now. I just stop at Long Lake and ride the course from there...save some drive time.

Off I went on a solo ride. I had a goal of 13mph for the route because I was almost there the week before....and conditions were way better. The roads were a little soggy in some spots...but mostly spongy gravel that is just soft enough to slow you down some. There was some mud too....but the roads are drying nicely.

The ride went fairly well. I got to the paved road into Hastings and my stomach started to hurt some. Nothing major...just uncomfortable. I rode through town and headed out towards the Three Sisters. Stomach was really starting to hurt by this point....not so much stabbing pain...as....my system wants to empty pings. So...I had a choice....go out into the woods and hope for the best or just keep going. I just kept going and the pings passed. The problem was....I was slowing down because my focus was gone. I was more worried about how I was feeling and how I was going to ride the rest of the way back to my car. When I got to the first sister I slowly churned over the top. About halfway up the second sister my legs quit. I had to stop and walk. Then I didn't even try the third....just got off and walked. Legs were like concrete. It wasn't making any sense to me until I started to think about what I did differently on this ride. Only one thing was different....fluids. I put different fluids into my water bottles...and thinking back I was feeling worse with every pedal stroke after about the 15 mile mark. About long enough for the Gatorade G2 I was drinking to be throughout my system. 

The last 12 miles were straight up survival mode. All I wanted to do was get to the car. Knowing that it was the G2 made it worse...because it was all I had to drink and I wasn't going to go without fluids. Ugh. I just plugged away and eventually turned right instead of left to head out to Gun Lake Road. Good choice...only cut 2 miles...but I was glad to back to the car. Ended up with just over 34 miles at a pace of 11.9 mph. So....not terrible considering how awful I was feeling. Lesson learned. A lesson better to learn now than during...say...Lumberjack 100.

Friday after work we took the littles to Lake Michigan to see the remnants of the ice. There was water along the shore....but these huge mountains of ice still in place....covered in sand. Looks like the sand dunes are out in the water. Pretty cool.

We live so close to Lake Michigan...and we never really think twice about how awesome it truly is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 Schedule almost full

With my first race of 2015 in a few weeks I figured I would share my schedule...not that anybody cares....but if you do....here it is.

Barry Roubaix March 28th

Yankee Springs TT April 19th

Fort Custer Stampede  May 3rd

Lumberjack 100 June 20th

Sweat Shaker June 27th. (which may be a train wreck a week after a hundred miler...but we will see)

The above races are confirmed....I am signed up for them. The following are races that I may do...in preparation for Lumberjack:

Hanson Hills 50 (good simulation of hills and a longer race)

Stony Creek 6\12 Hour (would be an excellent way to test endurance and nutrition)

And I will need to do at least 2 of these last ones to qualify for a CPS overall award.

Big M    July 26th (after Lumberjack I will know the course)

Maybury TT August 15th (love the course, lots of fun)

Addison Oaks September 13th (fun race, good atmosphere, would do it again)

Pando Challenge September 27th (hate the hills....but maybe not so much by this time of year)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Awesome weekend

The weather is finally getting warmer. This past saturday it was calling for temps to start in the teens and end up in the 40's. I had a super busy day of running the kids around starting around Noon so Jay and I headed out early to ride Barry Roubaix.

Our first pedal stroke was about 7:45. Temperature was low teens, but it didn't feel as cold....until we started moving. We were planning on pushing the pace a little and seeing what our legs were capable of. The strange thing about planning a faster pace is the mental side of it. I was planning on pushing it a bit....and my body was ready. The weekend before it was a struggle to just ride...let alone at any type of pace. So...off we went. We were still cruising but we had a better pace going. The hills didn't feel as terrible....until the wall. Hills do not like me very much at this point. I don't mind them....but they have something against me. Like....they hold me back and stuff. At any rate....I had to stop on the wall for a second. But, I got back on and pressed forward without walking.

We rode the entire loop all the way into Hastings where the start\finish area is located and then took off again out of town. The three sisters are not getting any smaller....just saying. The first, not too bad. The second. Worse. The third...felt like it wasn't going to stop. My legs quit. I had to stop and walk for a bit. But when I got back on the bike my legs felt way better. Even Jay commented "it is amazing how that little rest made a difference". So we pressed on. The conditions were perfect. A few icy spots, but because we went so early the roads were still solid. I saw a lot of reports later in the day about how awful and sticky the course was. Glad we went early.

We got to Gun Lake road to head back to Long Lake Outdoor center and I settled into a nice pace. I am not fast on the climbs....but I just ride consistent and do what I can. Once the hill started to flatten out I just let loose. I wanted to get back to the car and I knew that the downhill was a good place to gain some speed. I kept churning all the way to Yankee Springs road where the stop sign is.....checked for traffic and took off again. Overall it was a very good ride. I averaged what I did last year in the race (in less than stellar conditions). I will take that 3 weeks before the race. I just need to cut back on the food....get the weight down...and the speed will only go up!

Sunday I went out for another ride because it was beautiful weather. I mustered another 20ish miles and held a decent pace. I even feel pretty good today after two longer rides. Just happy to be riding outside and that the warmer temps appear to be here to stay.

Barry Roubaix in 3 week.
Yankee TT in about 7 weeks.
Lumberjack is coming quickly too....

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Open Letter: Mavic

Hello Mavic,

     My name is Sean Evans. I am a Mechanical Design Engineer, father of four, and avid cyclist. I am a mountain biker by heart, but I also own (and ride) a road bike. I like that I can jump on the road bike and get a solid ride in without having to drive to a trail. Given the time, I will always choose the mountain bike over the road bike. Mountain biking is how I first heard about your products.
     Many years ago I was at a little race called Iceman Cometh in Northern Lower Michigan. After eating dinner I was looking over the bike and heard a clink when I spun the rear wheel. Perplexed, I spun it again...sure enough....clink clink clink. I stopped the spinning and took a closer look. 3 broken spokes. Not good the night before the race. I had that Mavic was going to be at the Expo that night and that a demo was possible. We went to the expo and I headed straight to the Mavic booth. Frantic, I explained my situation. The guys in the tent were awesome and told me they would hook me up in morning and all I had to do was be there early enough for them to get my bike set up. We got there early and sure enough they threw a set of demo Crossmax wheels on my bike. Truth be told....the wheelset they installed was worth more than my entire bike at the time. This made it even more exciting. I was at the start line and a few people were asking about them. I explained that they were loaners and everyone was very impressed that Mavic would loan such an expensive set of wheels to a beginner level racer. The race went ok....but I loved the wheels. Needless to say...I was hooked.
     Time passed and I stopped riding for a few years. Eventually, about 8 years ago, I started riding again. In typical cyclist fashion my bikes got more expensive and the components followed suit, minus the wheels. The set I wanted I could not afford. The Mavic Crossmax wheels. So I waited. 3 years ago I finally needed to buy a new wheelset. A teammate had a set of Crossmax SL wheels that he wasn't using anymore. Barely used....I got a solid deal on them. My shop owner put a lot of trust in the wheels telling me they would be "bullet proof"....so I jumped and bought them. I set them up tubeless and absolutely loved them. But....the bike is a 26er and last year I made the jump to 29er....regrettably giving the bike and my favorite wheels ever to my son. He loves them too for the record.....but I miss them.
     So that brings me to the point of this letter. I technically don't need a new wheelset...because the wheels that came with my bike are very nice wheels. I WANT a new Crossmax wheelset. While doing some research I was looking around the Mavic.us site and realized that Mavic has a lot more to offer than just the wheels. I knew Mavic put cycling shoes on the market, but I didn't realize Mavic has pedals too. And not only pedals, but the style of pedals I love to ride. I am a huge Time Pedals fan because the SPD style locks me in too much and puts stress on my knees. Wheels, shoes, gloves, pedals, helmets....a lot.
   My question is this: Does Mavic have any sort of ambassador program? I ask because I think it would be an excellent idea. I also volunteer to be the first in the program. I would use shoes, pedals, helmet, gloves, wheels, and whatever else you would be willing to offer. What would I do in return? Well, I write a blog that is read all around the world. I also have a facebook page that has a decent amount of traffic. I would do product reviews. I would do product spotlights. I would also talk to everyone I know about your awesome products. At races, I would wear Mavic shirts, hats, team kit and be a walking/riding billboard. I would also put stickers on my car and bikes as necessary.
     Why Sean Evans? Well.....I love the sport. I love to ride. I love to race. My story might not be the greatest. I have stood on the podium on a few times...but they have been awesome each time. I am doing my first 100 mile mountain bike race in June of this year. I am moving along. If Mavic were to allow me to be an ambassador I would attribute any success to the awesome components and products you have. I would share my stories with everyone, just as I do now. Only I would be able to say "Mavic has been awesome in helping because of...." or "these wheels have truly made climbing faster" or "I see you ride Time, I switched to Mavic and ......" . So many options.
     In closing, please consider an ambassador program. Many well established companies already have them, and the programs help get their products in front of more eyes out on the roads and trails. When people see other people out riding the brands, more attention is given to those brands. People are interested in what other people are using, riding, wearing. If you would like to have a conversation about this I am more than willing. I completely understand if you do not. I doubt this letter will ever even reach Mavic, but I wanted to launch it into cyberspace in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it would reach the right person.

Thank you for reading,
Sean Evans
Singletrack Chronicles