Friday, September 25, 2015

....ebb....and flow....

No posts lately, because not a lot to post about. Life got crazy busy as usual with school starting. Riding is kind of an afterthought. So, I started running a bit. Then the fair started and things go crazier yet.

So....I started to run. A mile at a time. Not really a fan, but need to be active. I got slow on the bike because my riding fell off so much. blah blah blah. You guys don't want to hear my excuses. So I won't get them to you. Just know.....things are brewing.

I did ride tonight. 20 miles. Nice. 2 things happened. One, I was visually startled by a pre-teen that was clearly practicing her halloween costume. What was it do you ask? A vampire. And to top things off she stood perfectly still with a super creepy look on her face. A vampire is not something you expect to see in September....or ever.....

Second....I had a car pass me at the closest vicinity I have ever experienced. I never heard it because it was windy....and a car was coming at me. I was as far right as I could get on a road with zero shoulder. The asshole should have waited...instead...passed me on a rough road nearly clipping my elbow at 50mph. Close, but no harm no foul.

And....finally. I turn 40 in June of 2016. I have some goals I will share once I get them dialed in. Keep the rubber side down friends.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Taking back what's mine......

I needed a day. So I took one. 

I got up and headed to Owasippe. Solo. I knew Dave and Jay were riding Upper Mac, Wahfield, Merrill and Luton. I was craving Owasippe. It is such a cool trail....and I was going to destroy my legs. What better way to do it...than on a trail with lots of climbs.

When I arrived there were a few people in the parking lot, so I didn't feel so anxious about riding alone. I geared up and headed out. First two miles are my Only issue I had was my new shoes. They were killing my feet. Hurting to the point that I actually stopped and took them off. Reset them and moved on. Finally about 10 miles in my feet were used to them and I was feeling better. I think that pain took away from my legs. lol. I rode the outer loop and and then the inner loop. Legs were feeling ok. I was actually faster on some segments than the last time I rode here....and that was before LJ100. Interesting. 

I loaded up, texted MC and headed to Merrill. During transit I got a call from Jay. They were at Merrill and ready for their second lap. They decided to wait since I was only a few minutes away!

I arrived at Merrill and everyone was there. Dave, Jay and MC were ready to go. Unloaded, geared up...and off we went. Merrill is historically not my favorite place to ride. I don't mind the technical, I am just not fast in the tight and twisty trails. Then, add in the pace that Jay and Dave ride....ugh. I was holding on for dear life...literally. We took the Siren loop that I love. ZOOM. The more I ride the Anthem the more I trust it....still not 100% trust...but getting there. Eventually I got dumped....MC was nice enough to stay with me. I wasn't far behind...but the legs were feeling stressed. Jay and Dave headed to Luton while MC and I went out for another lap. We even did Sawtooth, which wasn't as scary as I remember. We got done with that loop and headed to Luton.

I was looking forward to riding legs were not. As I hit the 40 mile mark for the day I started to cramp. I was forced to slow down. I wanted to do 2 loops but I only managed one. Still such a fun trail. I was just out of gas. 

Thanks to Jay, Dave and MC for hanging out with me. Fun day on the bike.

Now, why the title. I had a purpose for Friday. It was to take back what was taken from me. Since LJ and the deer episode I have not been riding much. Then throw in the speed sucking staph infection and I was really starting to wonder what happened. So, I took some time off and let my body heal. Did a few rides and was feeling a bit better. True test was last weekend on Kal-Haven. I was holding on for dear life in a pace line. I was feeling really good. But I wasn't convinced that I had taken my speed back. So, I decided to stress my legs more on Friday. Either get back what speed and endurance I had....or destroy myself trying. While I didn't feel like I had all my climbing  power back....I felt much better on the bike that I have in a long time. So I took it back. I had to....I earned it in the first place. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lack of Power

Staph infection.

I don't go to the doctor unless something is truly wrong. I cause major panic when i say "I think I need to go to the doctor". I broke down and went a few weeks ago because I didn't want to become a viral video on the internet. 

A bug bite or an ingrown hair turned into a massive lump of infection on my back. After some prodding we decided it was best to have a doctor check it out before it got worse. A local and a scalpel were enough to try to get some of the infection out. The pushing to get the infection out was enough to make me want to pass out. Legit. It was the worst pain I have ever endured....and I blew my finger apart with a nail gun a few years ago. The doctor said "dont sit up...I don't want you to pass out" was awful. At any rate...major pain meds and an antibiotic were enough to send me on my way. Within a few days it was internet sensation zip popping here.

I took a few days off the bike and then rode. Um, that infection had my body shredded. I barely managed 16mph on a short road ride. A tiny hill made me feel like I was going to die. Zero power is an understatement. I didn't feel worn down...but I was. I rode Custer the following Saturday and was slower than normal. New bike aside, I was feeling ok....just couldn't hold any sort of speed.

So I rode during the week and felt pretty good. Slow still, but legs felt like they were coming back. Jumped on the road bike and averaged 17.6 on a loop that I always ride. Good right? Well, I hit custer again on the following Saturday and felt like someone stole my legs again. The first 4 miles were good...and then ZAP...nothing. I rode 18ish miles and was awful the rest of the day. Still suffering the side effects of the infection.

So I have taken a week off now. I will try to ride tonight to see how I feel. I am riding again tomorrow as well. Just a bad feeling after all the riding I have done this year to feel so slow. I mean...I got a new bike and felt faster....and each ride has shown a decrease in speed. Not really the way that is supposed to work. 

At any rate...somethings rest is the better idea. Not forced due to over training.....but forced because my body needed time to rebuild. Listen to your body.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

5th Annual Remember Big Timmy Ride

5 Years have passed since Tim left us. Lots of new friend. Lots of new adventures. He still comes to mind now and then. This day was to remember him....

This rock stands at the top of a switchback climb on the Green Loop at Fort Custer. I never met Erin. I have no idea who Erin was as a person. I imagine that she was an amazing person if someone left this kind of memorial for her. The quote says "Friends are spokes in the wheel of life". I always think it is cool to see this memorial, but on this day it had more meaning.

The ride was smaller this year. Jimmy, Lisa, and newcomer Chris W. joined me for the ride. We rode the red loop and gathered at the trailhead to see if anyone else was joining. Nobody did...except for a single butterfly. In previous years the butterfly would land on us. This fluttered by and landed a short distance if it was Tim....just listening in on our conversation. We rode part of the green.....then a storm rolled in.

I got a text so I stopped to check it. It was Dan telling us to take cover. I looked around and realized we were in trouble. We were far out on the green and had to sneak some shortcuts to dump out at the boat launch. Jimmy and Lisa hauled ass back to the trailhead while Chris and I hurried to Eagle Lake. I got the bikes in the suburban and it unloaded on us. Huge winds, thunder, lightning, RAIN and sirens going off in the distance. Tornado? Maybe. It was a short storm and the families were arriving.

We headed to the beach and set up. Had some food and we were relaxing. There was some turmoil when a trip to ER had to happen. My father-n-law had a vein start bleeding and it wouldn't stop. So they took him the ER and ended their day at the beach. We hung out and swam and chatted. My phone chirpped and it was a tornado watch in Allegan. I decided it was time to pack up....and the DNR Sounded a horn to pull people off the lake. We packed up and headed to my in-laws house. As soon as we unloaded the truck it stormed like crazy again. It was the right choice to leave.....even though a lot of people stayed. A County Sheriff pulled in as we were leaving....I can only assume to enforce the closure of the beach. People were still going to the beach and setting up. I am glad we left.

Overall it was a good day. Spent some time with friends and family and enjoyed getting a newbie out on the trail. I just simply need to ride more now. Been slacking off since Lumberjack. Anyway, it was a good day to remember my friend....the guy that got me riding....and started me on this path where I have met so many amazing people. Miss you brother.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Golden Egg......and Sweat Shaker

I am not really a happy camper right now. The day started good enough. Up on time to leave for Sweat Shaker. Arrived and swapped over the bike rack to Jay's car. Lisa, Jay and I took off from Meijer at 5:30 am. Right on schedule. Then.....

I hear Jay say "oh shit" and I look to my left....
....a male deer....full stride.....running towards us....
.....slow motion.....
.....head of the deer into the mirror and then the driver window...
....body into the rear door....
....deer into the 3 bikes...

Jay pulls over quickly on US-10.  We are only 1.5 miles away from US127. Less than 15 minutes from our destination. Carnage. Here is the rundown.

mirror gone
driver window splintered but no glass falling out
rear driver side door smashed in....will not open

Rack torqued to the right.
1 arm completely ripped off
1 bike...front tire taco.
1 bike with a hole punched in the fork
1 bike with a bent rear triangle, broken rim, and possible bent frame.

Did I mention nobody was hurt? Yeah...there is that positive note.  We pick up the pieces and drive the rest of the way to Mid Michigan Community College. We get to work getting 2 bikes functioning. One was fairly easy. Taped up the hole in the fork. Done. The second...well...we pulled the wheel and did some restructuring. The bike shop guys that were there did some work and got the where it would spin. The debate was on whether the wheel would hold for 20 miles or not. 

Race started....Jay and Lisa were off and I was left standing on the sidelines. Jay finished a respectable 7th with his wobbly ass wheel. Lisa finished an awesome 2nd. I yelled. I cheered.

So now....I wait to hear about the bike. But the title you say..."why the golden egg?". Well....I was thinking that my season will take a definitive change. I missed out on an opportunity to have a high finish today. Not knowing how long it will take to either get the bike fixed or replaced....I could miss another race....or the rest of the season. It is just up in the air right now. So I was happy to say that I finished Lumberjack last weekend. This race was truly my golden egg for this season. So if nothing else....I got my golden egg.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lumberjack 100

When I turned the calendar to June and saw Lumberjack 100 on the 20th my heart skipped a beat. Here is my recap as best I can remember
Ready to roll
Jay was at my house by 7:45 Friday morning. We had taken the day off so we could take our time heading to Manistee. We headed to the hotel first. Surprisingly, we couldn't check in until 4pm. So we gave Brian a call and headed to Big M.

Limited space in the Hotel room.

The goods. The customized number plate was a cool touch

Photo courtesy of Jay Bridgeman
 We wanted to do a pre-ride so we could have a small idea of what we were in for. Jay was going to do a whole lap since he wasn't racing. We headed to where Brian and Gwen were camping and then headed over to Big M to see what was going on. Once there, we set up our tent real quick and got some intel from Kris, who had just finished his ride.

 First off, this place is beautiful. It was kind of hard to ride and look around...and not die.

 So we finally got going. Right out of the parking lot it a long climb. Not steep. Just way longer than anything we have around here in SW Michigan. And that first hill just kept going...and going...and going. 

The first banner 
 We made to a sign and turned off to head back. Jay went on to ride the full race course loop. Brian and I worked our way back to the parking lot and ended up with about 6 miles....and a lot of climbing. We headed back to the campground to relax while Jay finished his lap.

Once Jay got back he gave us some intel on the course....and what I was hearing wasn't really positive. I knew what I was in for...but he made it sound worse. At any rate, it was too late now...the race was the next morning. We headed to the hotel and found a place for dinner. Then...straight to bed. We set our alarms for 4:30 am so we could get to Big M in time to have a decent parking spot.

4:30...beep beep beep. Holy hell is it early. Since we had everything ready I headed down to eat some oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, the hotel was serving food at 4:30 in the morning. I ran into Danielle M. and Jill M. as they were eating and getting ready as well. Then, off we went to Big M. 
Brian got a picture of me taking a picture. lol
Arriving at Big M around 5:30 was smart. We got a close spot and moved all our stuff to the tent. I commenced to getting ready. People were wandering around everywhere getting ready and chatting about the day. I was as ready as I was going to get.
Brian and I at the start. Unfortunately he was in the process of getting a flat and had to stop to swap it out as he rolled into the parking lot. Better there than 10 miles out I suppose.
 Brian and I said our good-byes to the people with us and headed to the start with all of the final "good lucks" and last minute advice of "pace yourselves" and "ride smart". 100 miles.....riding smart is already out of the question. lol. Started seeing a lot of friends at the start. Time to go....I just settled in and was drafting people. Everyone was laughing and chatting on the 1.5ish mile roll to the parking lot. I started all the way at the back because I had planned on 12 hours. We were rolling and finally reached the parking lot. There the mob turned into a single file line and started the grind up the first hill. Slow would be an understatement. Congo line was the best description I have heard. There was a line of riders as far as I could see winding up the first hill and out of sight. Around 5 or 6 miles in the group was finally decimated and sorted out. There were still a lot of people around, just smaller groups. 

I started to settle in and find my pace. The miles were ticking away one by one. But where is that aid station? Oh....I am only 9 miles in. Pace? Right around 10mph. Ok. I will take that. Finally the trails flattened out and I was able to use my road training to find a solid pace and get even more comfortable. The terrain is awesome out there in the Manistee National Forest. The trees are amazing. Old growth for sure. My mind is wandering already. I found myself passing a few people and then getting passed by a few more. Eventually there was a group of around 10 of us in a solid line rolling towards the aid station. It was a comfortable pace and it was nice to see where the trail was headed. Finally I saw some decorations hanging in the trees and we were rolling into the aid station. Oranges, bananas, chunk of payday...and go. Only a few people stopped, most kept rolling. There were a handful of people stretched out over a few hundred yards that you would see now and then.

Hills. Did I mention there are hills out there? This guy...not a I was suffering even on my first lap. Eventually I see a sign pointing up and right. Fire tower climb. You have got to be kidding me. Steep....torn to shit.....lets go. Finally drug my bike to the top and there is a screaming fast downhill gravel section. Finally a fast section. But, there was no relaxing because the gravel was sketchy. So, I enjoyed the short brake and back to the hills. Finally I see the 5 miles to go and I smile. Thinking that I am only 5 miles from the end of the first lap and I have a decent average speed going, I press on. 4, 3, 2, 1, finally I see the tents in team row. I see Walters and he points towards the tent. First lap done in 3:46:37. Not fast....finishing pace!

I roll into camp and the Cannonade Midwest guys clean the leaves from my bike to make sure I don't have any issues. Gwen hands me to full bottles and Jay hands me my full camel. I eat some food as Summer looks on in horror. I was stuffing beef jerky in my mouth and she was mortified. lol. I was hungry. Leave me alone! Then....on to lap 2. Honestly...I don't remember much about lap 2 other than these few things. First thing was the feeling of cramps coming on around 45 miles in. I was not drinking enough so I really started to drink more from the camel to make sure I was getting enough. That was a pain I didn't want to deal with. The more I drank the better I felt. I was still in my comfort zone and had just passed the 5 hour mark when I hear "riders back!" so I moved over. It was the 4 leaders and they were straight up flying. I was riding my pace and they still passed like I was sitting still. Damn. I hear a "thank you" from Jordan and I realize that he is in that group with Tinker. So cool to see those guy in action....demoralizing or not. Anyway, I pressed on knowing some people would be passing. I got to the aid station and loaded up again. Drank a cup of coke and headed out. Half way. I took off again with a positive attitude that I would make the cutoff. That changed about 8 miles later when I started to cramp again. I emptied my camel and saved my last bottle for the final 5 miles of the lap. Pretty uneventful....other than knowing I was going to make the cutoff. I rolled in at 7:44:00 with 16 minutes to spare for the cutoff. I headed to the tent. Gwen handed my full bottles and Tom helped me refill my camel. He was nice and calm. How is the bike? Did you eat? Anything else? Now go. lol. Now go enjoy the last lap. If you start will will finish it. I slammed the rest of the water in the jug and headed out....pretty excited that I was on my last lap....and my chances of finishing were pretty good.

So as I start the third lap I was eating a cliff bar. I had taken two bites and while climbing that first climb I just kept looking at it. My stomach was full from the water, which I deemed more important because of the cramps I was having. I looked at it one last time and the thought of eating it was too much....I threw it out into the woods. By now, the trail was a highway. On our pre-ride you couldn't even see it. Now it was a 14" wide strip of black among the beige and brown of the leaf covered ground. Nobody around. Had not ridden with anybody for a long time. Finally I see a woman churning up the hill in front of me. I get off and walk because there was just no way. I got back on the bike at the top and we start chatting about what we got ourselves into. Joe from CMW catches us as he was sweeping and looking for someone. With his fresh legs he flys up the hill and disappears. I said "he didn't race" and she says "I was gonna say, those are some fresh fucking legs". Ha. We pedaled along and enjoyed the scenery around us. I said the only reason I came back out was for the patch. She didn't know that you got a patch if you finished! She said "there is my incentive to keep going". Eventually we caught another guy and the three of us rode together for a while.

I was finally starting to feel better. Strange that far into a ride, eh...race,....but my legs were feeling better and I was getting excited about finishing. I eventually pulled away on a long flat section and never saw them again. My mind started to wander. I was thinking of my friends that had finished already. I was hoping all my friend made the cutoff. I was really starting to want pizza. The miles ticked away one by one and I was finally saw the decorations for the aid station. The volunteers there were very awesome. "what do you need?" was what they asked as I rolled up. I had them refill my empty bottle (just in case) and I had a few cups of coke along with bananas and oranges and pay days. Cathy was there and was really excited that I was on my last segment of the race! One final push and 17 miles to we go....

At the finish (Courtesy of David Frost)
Honestly, I wasn't feeling bad. I think I was climbing more this lap than I was on the second. I got that second wind and was still riding my comfortable pace. I was slow, sure, but I was moving forward. I had not seen another ride for a long time. I was mid hill walking when I heard a guy coming. I was thinking....really...this far in and someone is catching me? He was a sweeper.  He asked how I was doing and I said good. off he went and I started to ride again. Then I see those damn arrows pointing up fire tower climb. Two steps...break. Three steps....break. Now, I am ready to die. I am so tired I can barely get my bike up over the logs. Legs are sliding in the sand because it was so torn up. I just kept telling myself that I had an awesome downhill coming. Finally I made it. That tower is freaking tall...on top of being on a huge hill. Anyway, off I went. Now looking at my Garmin I had less than 10 miles to go. The miles were ticking away. I look again and I am at 94 miles. Then...I pass the 3/4 sign. Huh....that means more like 8 miles to go. Not 6.....DAMMIT. I keep looking for the 5 to go sign and eventually I see it. Awesome, 5 to go.

4, 3, that another rider? It is! I see Fred and I get the motivation to reel him in. We rode the last few miles and crossed the finish line together. As I rode under the finish banner I see Michelle and the little girls waiting for me. Such an awesome surprise! Cathy and her grandson head over and give me my finisher patch. I was done. Jay grabbed my bike and I was just trying to soak it all in. So many people were coming up and telling me good job that I don't even know remember who all was there! Very cool feeling. Very big sense of accomplishment.

Chris and I showing off our dirt tan lines.
We headed back to the hotel and got cleaned up then headed to dinner. William S., Summer, David W., Lisa P., Brian and Gwen B., Chelle and the girls, Jay and I all sat around the table and talked about the day. All in all.....a great day on the bike.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Closing in.

Just over a week ago I flipped the calendar to June and there was LUMBERJACK 100 staring me right in the face. Wow, that meant less than 3 weeks. So, looking at my riding I was a little nervous. I had not ridden the entire week after Memorial day because we were getting ready for Zack's graduation. The weekend after we had dance recital for the girls. I did muster some mileage at Yankee Saturday morning.

Monday night I loaded up the Defy and headed to the 3rd Coast Monday gravel ride. This ride was interesting. There was a guy there that had a very big movement in his pedal stroke. What I mean is that he was bobbing right to left on every pedal stroke. 2 miles in. 3 miles. Trying to lead the group. Red faced. Wasting so much motion. I figure he would blow himself up...but he did hold tough. There were a few sections where I took off just to ride my pace and put a solid test on my legs. Always fun to ride super hard and see where you stand.

West Loop at Ski Area

Wednesday I headed to Cannonsburg again. I started at the Ski area and rode everything that I could. I was looking for hills so I could truly test my legs. I took the newer West Loop that is on the connector between the Ski area and the SGA (state game area).  It is a tough loop for sure...but what I needed. I am learning how the new gearing works. I am glad I swapped to the 22\36 for Lumberjack...I will need that low gearing for those climbs. The West loop goes across the side of one of the hills a few times. Long and drawn out to really stress the legs. Awesome.

After that loop I headed over and did the State Game area trail. Always a fun loop with some interesting areas. I did have one issue...and it has been an unfortunate trend lately. A guy rode up on my and I moved over to let him pass....he zipped past me and never said a word. Headphone in. I just don't get why people can't give a simple "thanks" or "have a good ride" when they pass. I should have just rode my pace and held him up. I honestly hope that I ruined his strava segment. lol. On the connector back to the Ski area I hit the West Loop again. Legs cooperated for the most part. With the 22 tooth ring I actually had a few gears to go. That makes me happy.

Now....Lumberjack is 9 days away. I plan on one more long ride hopefully this weekend and then I am just going to take it easy next week. Jay and I are headed up Friday morning to scope out the area. We are going to do some sort of ride, just to open up the legs. Lumberjack 100. 100 miles on a mountain bike in the trees of the Manistee National Forest. I am ready.