Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The swing of things

If you have never seen Big Hero 6 the pic above might not make sense to you. But, it still gives the premise of where I am. After a few months off the bike I have lost my endurance. Gone. Hence, I am not fast.

So how did I get here? Like I said before, life. But that is just the umbrella excuse that I am throwing out there today. The table of contents under "Life" is very deep and has many different sections that have told my story thus far. Bottom line, I am where I am because I allowed myself to head down this path. Now, I have the long journey back.

This time last year I was geared up and approaching being ready for the hardest race I have ever done, Lumberjack 100. I knew I could ride the 100 miles, but my longest "trail" or "singletrack" or "off-road" ride was under 50 miles. I have a few centuries under my seatbag along with numerous Kal-Haven trips of 70+ miles. The dirt was different. I was able to finish, but I trained for it. I was strong. I was quick. I was mentally sound. The weekend after (remember the deer incident?) was where it all started to fall apart.

I had glimmers of my pre-lumberjack 100 self when I did a few solid rides. These glimmers didn't last long as winter approached and "life" started to happen at a greater rate than I imagined. I did manage to have a solid first quarter on the trainer. Had some solid sessions and was doing alright, but nowhere near the level of 2015, and it was wearing on me as "life" was happening even more.

I pulled back. Reset. Now, I am doing alright and I am actually getting back on the bike. I rode Upper Mac for the first time this year and was reminded just how out of shape and heavy I am. It was okay though, because I was out in the woods and spending quality time with my Anthem SX. The itch to go fast is coming back. Wanting to ride is a more common feeling. Watching what I am eating is getting easier. TV watching includes the Tour of California and UCI World cup mountain bike races. I am actually interested in bikes again, which is a good feeling for me. I even bounced over to the MMBA site and looked at the remaining race schedule. 

That browsing led me to reminisce about the 2014 Sweat Shaker race. It was the first ride I did on my Trance. I took a solid 3rd in Sport Clyde. My first Sport podium.....and the last. I was in great form and planning another trip to the steps in 2015 when disaster struck about a mile from Exit 168 on US-127 near Mid-Michigan Community College. My season ended that day. I allowed myself to fall. But, I was super confident before the deer event. I was ready. Mentally I was strong before the accident. I wanted another medal, instead I got a new bike.

I am signed up to race Sweat Shaker again this year on June 25th. I have about a month to get physically ready for a fun course. I have that same time to build my mental toughness back to where it was nearly a year ago. I have to get back into the swing of things....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hit the reset button

This pretty much sums it up. I know it has been months since I have posted. Life, as it were, has been harder than I would have preferred it to be. Stress has been very high. Riding has been non-existent. So, reset.....YES.

A few weeks ago I managed to load the SX onto the Suburban and drive to work. I haven't wanted to see anyone. Haven't wanted to ride. Just haven't wanted to do anything, to be honest. So, I found a trail where my chances of running into someone I knew were slim....and none.

I headed down to the Trails@Andrews University. I rolled in and slowly took the bike off the truck. Check the pressure. Looked at the bike with the thought of "this is going to hurt" in my mind. I had not been on a bike in 5-6 weeks. No physical activity to speak of....just a bump on a log.

Steep drop behind the bike @Andrews

So, I finally mustered the courage to head out and give this trail a try. The trail was marked pretty good so off I went. 10 miles was the goal. By mile 2....I was ready to die. Allergy season is never easy....and trying to ride in blooming woods while being way out of shape was not the combination I needed. I struggled...mightily. It wasn't a competition. I took every punch that was thrown with zero protection. After 5 miles I decided to head back to the car. This was where things went from bad to worse....mentally. I was already defeated, but knowing that I had brought this fate onto myself I knew if I could get to the car that I would be alright. Unfortunately, I got lost and had to sludge through the woods to find a way out. The trail seemed cool....but honestly....I can't tell you either way. I was blown up from 15 minutes into my ride and the rest was a blur until I finally stopped back at the parking lot.

So, a few more weeks passed. I started running to burn off some stress and things have started to calm down. This past weekend arrived and I planned a solo ride. Trying to determine my best course of action I considered a handful of trails. Custer, I know it well and it is flat. Yankee, again I know it well but I am in no shape to climb. Luton, always a blast and not much climbing. TK Lawless, an entirely different type of trail. After pondering each place I decided on TK, with the thoughts of running into anyone I know would be less likely.

I was up around 8am and out the door to Monkey Run. It is over an hour drive down there but the trail is so much fun that it is always worth the trip. When I pulled in there was 2 cars in the lot. Perfect. I pulled the bike from the truck with a bit more excitement this time. I headed out and just rode a steady pace. Slow, but steady. I had some shoe issues I stopped to deal with and a few guys passed me. I got back on and followed the second guy for a while before we stalled on a hill. I pressed on and was able to stay ahead of him for the remaining miles. I felt good. Comfortable with who I am and how I was riding. I hit the parking lot and refilled my bottle, then headed out for another lap. Again, just an easy glad to be in the woods kind of pace. The miles ticked by and eventually I saw the sign for the last cutoff. 

Tempted to take the left and head out for the final 4 miles I stopped at the sign. Brain said "do it" but I knew that if I did that I had the potential to turn a solid ride into a bad ride. So, I took the cutoff and rolled back into the parking lot.....relaxed. It was a solid 16 mile ride on a trail that I normally ride so much faster and harder. It was a ride. Period. It was the kind of ride I needed to hit the reset button.

Are you sure?


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Race season quickly approaching

I had the silly idea to ride Barry Roubaix this morning. I wanted to ride early because I feared that the roads would turn to peanut butter. It was warmer than freezing yesterday and I worried the warmth would have negative effects on the roads. To my was a cool 19 degrees this morning. I drug myself out of bed and wandered downstairs to make breakfast.

I was really not ready. I easily could have just gotten back in bed and slept. I had made plans with a new teammate to I just loaded up. I was happy when I pulled out of the drive way with plenty of time to get to Yankee. Roads were quiet as I left town...with visions of Barry Roubaix on my mind.

I pulled into the Yankee trailhead to see new teammates Kevin C. and David G. gearing up for our ride. I got dressed, pumped up the tires and proceeded to fight with my dual layer gloves for 5 minutes before I could ride. Darn things. They are warm, but sometimes the 2 piece design can be a pain in the ass. Anyway, off we went.

Roads were pretty good. Here I was worried about mud and we actually had to worry more about the icy conditions. It was strange, the warmer it got the more icy the roads got. The warmth was melting the top layer of snow but it was turning solid on the frozen road underneath. The climbs would show this condition...when I was spinning under torque. Every once in a while the rear tire would spin. I didn't have too much of an issue though.

Overall, a good ride with a couple of my new teammates. It is going to be a fun year. I have my first race in less than a month. The Lowell 50 is where I will start my 2016 campaign. I will be competing in the 34 mile version just to get a "test race" to start the season. My real season will start at Yankee Springs a few weeks later. 

Gotta keep moving forward.

Oh yeah, new team. new teammates. Custer Cyclery has partnered with a brewery in Battle Creek. More on that later.

Monday, February 1, 2016

January Month end

January ended much better than it started. I was able to head out with Scott W. on Saturday to get some solid road miles. We headed out to Pullman and back. The way out was into a nasty headwind but I rather enjoyed it on the way back. Big thanks to Scott for pulling into the wind (stronger rider has to do the work ;) )

Sunday I loaded up again and headed to Augusta to do a group ride with David W., Jay B. and Bill K. We headed out and round Gull lake on wet pavement. By 10 miles it was raining. Soaking wet and trying to draft when the riders in front have a jet of water spraying off their tire isn't fun. I tucked in off center when I could. About 18 miles in we hit a hill and I got dumped. The group graciously waited for me to catch up. They had to wait every hill after that, but I was grateful to be out riding in January. I am stronger, just not as strong as these guys. Goals....riding with these guys will make me faster.

So January ended with a solid week. 259 miles for the Month. Not terrible. A bit behind last year but a solid ending to the month that I will gladly take. Tonight I am taking the night off just because I need a break. I don't feel bad today...surprisingly. But, I will be stretching tonight and maybe some core, but nothing else.

I am set up for a solid February. Should be interesting to see what Mother nature has in store for this month. All I know is...I am more focused than ever and I want to bring home a CPS Jersey this year. I have work to do, but I have time to do the work as well.

Happy February everyone.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 Excuses

 The longer I live the longer I realize how many excuses I have. Last year I learned how to bury some of these excuses and just life. I buried them and did my single greatest achievement on the bike. However, after that achievement....I let the excuses creep back in and my mileage and fitness suffered for the second half of 2015. Too easy to sit on the couch. Too easy to eat a bowl of ice cream. Excuses are easy. Excuses are lazy. Have you ever heard of a lazy and fast mountain bike racer or road racer?

So that left me slow and fat at the end of 2015.....just like each of the previous years. I feel like the blogs have always been the same. Year after year of the same ridiculous excuses. But, again this year I am going to say that this is the year.
It has started off right. New job. New direction. Career. Outlook. I will be 40 so the "now or never" theory comes into play. Think about it....if life has been uphill for the past 40 years and all I have been doing is making excuses then I should be all out...and the next 40 years should be downhill. Or, another way to look at it....shit or get off the pot. Now is the time to put away the excuses and kick some ass. Or it might never happen.

 This picture kind of sums up how excuses work. The more you rely on them the easier they are to use and the downward spiral continues. My house of failure is large and has many rooms.

Time to rebuild and move into something healthier...where excuses are no longer used as currency but are looked at like rotten eggs. Sorry, couldn't think of an analogy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Happy New Year

First off...Happy New Year. I have been so busy that the blog gets pushed to be back burner. But, I have been busy....doing some riding.

Here is SW Michigan our winter finally got here. We had a few days of snow, but it would go back to 40 degrees the next day and the snow would all melt. The pic above is Yankee Springs after we got some snow. 

The video below is the New Years Day ride at Fort Custer. It was a blast. Decent sized group on frozen trails. We rode the Red loop to the Table top and hung a left onto the Green loop. It was a lot of fun on a 20 degree day. Even the skinny tires did ok, but a fatty would have been a better option. (I am slated to get one but probably next winter)

I did sign up for Yankee. I wasn't really going to race in 2016 but a job change will allow me to race. So I will put this goal out there now....and ask for your help to get me there by holding me accountible.

Sub 1 hour at Yankee TT. I won't be able to do my normal fitness test at Barry Roubaix because a dance competition will take precedence. My daughter has a dance competition....not me.
So I need to kick some ass and meet this goal.

Trainer sessions are going good but I have to get more consistent. 
That is all for now. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Time for change

Looking at the date on my last post I was surprised. It was back in september. A lot has been going on and I have tried to blog multiple time....but it just hasn't worked. Writers block? Well...perhaps. But I think it is truly because I haven't had anything to write about. So....a quick flashback.

Lumberjack 100 was the last race that I did, and that was back in June. This was my golden egg for 2015. When I finished I was at the height of my cycling career. I was more proud of finishing this race than I have ever been of any podium finish I have had.

Above is my old Trance X 29er. We were limited on space in the hotel room so it camped out on the desk. Lumberjack was the last ride I ever had on this bike. For those that don't know.....Jay, Lisa, and I were assaulted by a deer on the way to Sweat Shaker the weekend after Lumberjack. Honestly, this is where my downward spiral started. I wasn't able to race on a course that I would have done well on. I took 3rd at this even in 2014, amusingly enough....the first ride I had on this bike after I bought it. So I was expecting another top finish...instead I got to spectate. 

After missing that race my season was over. School started after a few months and my list of excuses for not riding was much longer than my list of reasons to ride. The small amount of weight I did lose this year crept back on. Confidence took a dump. It is amazing how it happens...and how fast it happens. I didn't want to ride anymore. I wanted to sit on the couch and eat doritos and ice cream.

Then....I went and rode. Didn't feel terrible.....but no power in my legs. So we did another ride. On Barry Roubaix. Dumb, yes...but necessary. I was saved by taking a new guy that Jeff W. and I headed out. It other description. Yankee springs is tough when you are in shape...and after a heavy thanksgiving dinner added on top of my lack of riding....I suffered. I survived though. That following weekend we decided to give Barry Roubaix a go again. Can't pass up riding in this extremely warm December weather. About 11 miles in we hit Gun lake road....and I threw in the towel. I took a right and headed back into Hastings while Jeff and Jay finished the 36 mile course. It was about 8 miles back to the car...and I was very thankful I bailed out. Just didn't have the legs.

But while I was didn't help my emotional instability to have to bail out on a ride. But instead of sliding a step further into depression...I got angry. I am focused on 2016. I am rebooting yet again. This time with a new job and a new set of goals. Stay tuned.

In other news....there is a trail in the town that I live in. A friend of mine has done major work to get funding and find property for the trail. They cut a short section of the trail to get started this past week. Below are a few pics. Word is....we have 40 acres to build trails on. I am very excicted about this because there are no trails withing 30 minutes of me. I went and rode the trail Saturday and even this short trail showed me how much work I have to do. But, a trail close to home can only help.

So even though I feel like the guy in the picture below....I know what I have to do to change that feeling. I also know hard work has it rewards. I will try to stay more current with my posts.