Thursday, December 27, 2012

Still your fault

A year has passed since we said good-bye. A lot of stuff has happened in this past year. Holidays were a little sadder without your smiling face. Not as many silly jokes at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Just that slight sadness in the air from you not being here. We did have some fun though. We took a vacation just like we promised....taking the kids on a cruise to Mexico, Belize and Honduras. The kids had a blast and we tried our best to never tell them "no" on this trip. We wanted them to remember it as a very special trip. You know that though....because Chelle and I both know that you were there. Your unmistakable smell surrounded us as we were waiting in line one day.....announcing your presence as if you tapped us on the shoulder. It was quiet for a while after that trip. Every now and then Zoe would cry that she missed you. I would think about how you introduced me to your beautiful daughter. The other kids would say they missed the funny things you would say.

Thanksgiving was hardest on Chelle. She was remembering the bad parts of this whole thing and it was making her very sad. We did our best to cheer her up by reminding her that you are not feeling any pain now....that you are watching over us and keeping us safe. Then Christmas came on Tuesday....and on our trip home from my Dad's house we were listening to music when Chelle said "if that song about the boy buying shoes for his mom comes on....change the channel....I won't be able to handle it".....but it never did. As we rolled to a stop at the last light before our house "Wonderful world" started quietly on the radio. I flinched for a second....but hesitated long enough for the words to start as I turned to you lovely daughter...who had tears falling down her cheek. We pulled into the driveway as the song ended and we knew you were thinking of us. People can believe what they want but this was no were letting us know that you were there......and that you are alright.

I still blame you, ya know. For this whole thing. It was an honor to be your son-n-law and I am proud to claim as such. Thank you for introducing me to your pride and joy and for sharing so many memorable moments in our lives. We miss you sir.....

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weekly Update 12-24-12 (a few days late)

This week went by in a flash. Super busy finishing up shopping and getting stuff ready for Christmas....for my wife anyway. Friday I started to come down with the crud. We had friends and family over so I made some White Chicken Chili. It was really good....but by the time we ate I was already heading downhill. Went to bed early....9pm....on Friday. Nice.

Chelle let me sleep until 11 the next morning and I was feeling good enough to go to the family Christmas party. Always a good time! Unfortunetly my feeling better didn't last the entire time and I started to backslide by around 6pm. I headed downstairs and hid under a blanket until we headed home. We got home around 9pm or so...and I headed to bed again. Didn't get out of bed until after 1pm on Sunday. Chelle was headed out to finish up shopping and I needed to get up to supervise the kiddos. I had a fever of 102 so I just basically sat there and made sure they didn't burn the house down....but my kids are good when the adults are sick. They helped me with whatever I needed. Put the little ones in bed by 10 and headed back to bed. By now.....I was tired of doing nothing...but was still too sick to do I was stuck.

Got up Monday around 10....I think. Started to feel a little better....fever was still spiking at 101 but I had to move around some....I was going stir crazy. Amazing how awful you can feel after being idle for a few days. My ribs hurt, back hurt, legs were sore,.....just plain sore. The good the evening I was back on the road to recovery. I was able to move around and do a few things.....besides get food ;)

Yesterday, Christmas, we got up and the kids opened their presents. Then we headed to my Dads in Indiana. Had a great day with the family and got back home and in bed around 11:30. The alarm was not very friendly this morning....but I made it to work.....for another short week!

So....didn't really spin much....but I did manage to lose 2 pounds this week. Slowly I will get back to 100% and I will probably spin some tonight.....just to free up my muscles. Probably take it easy for another day or so...then get back at it. The 2013 race season will be here before I know it.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What if.....left instead of right

 Before I get started I need to give the disclaimer that this is not going to be one of those deep life "what if I never met you" kind of is going to be more about how one decision can change the future when you find yourself at a fork in the road......

You make decisions every day that can change your future. Simple whether to go to work....or to pick up a bottle. Whether to eat breakfast or to skip breakfast. You might not think it...but these subtle things can effect your entire future....your path. I skipped breakfast one day when I was 10. If I had breakfast that day I might be president today. Ok, so maybe I am going deeper than I intended...but do you understand what I am meaning by this? Every decision we make has the power to change the future. Simple? You with me? we go....

We miss you Mr. Farley
Take the guy in the picture above. You know one day Chris got up and ate breakfast. That breakfast changed his future path. It landed him in main stream movies with David Spade and dancing with Patrick Swayze on a SNL Skit. Had he skipped breakfast we may have never know who he was. That one breakfast started him down the path, but he could have been pushed onto another path if he wore blue shoes on Tuesday. It is really simple....your path is not set in stone....your future is not paved in concrete. 

Gary Fisher

I met Gary Fisher at Iceman a a few years ago. I heard he was going to be there and sure enough I saw him. I walked up and introduced myself. He graciously posed for a picture and went onto his other activities. Let's think about how he ended up where he is for a minute. He was a pioneer of the sport I love. What if he had never looked at a bike? That day he decided to give riding a bike a chance put Gary on a path to be one of the best known people in the industry...with his name on bikes and and a very stylish mustache. What if he had gotten burned out....what if after a crash he walked away....letting that one event determine his future? A lot to think about for sure....

So that leads me to the final section of this strange post. The picture above shows two paths....they may indeed lead to the same place....but the paths are indeed different. The one on the left looks more open and flat....the other looks tighter and goes uphill. Which one do you take? On Monday you might take the path on the have had a long day and don't need any more struggle. By Saturday you need to blow off some steam so you take the path to the right and burn your frustration out on the climbs. Pushing as hard as you can up the hills and leaving your stress on the side of the trail. In the are still on the same path....but how you got there was different. Do you think your decision to go left affected your future? How about if you took the path to the are in the parking your the same spot.....but did your path change? You might think that you are in the same place....but your future was changed when you took the path to the right. That harder path made you stronger. Maybe you will eat a healthier diet....take the stairs instead of the elevator......park a long way from the building. Your one decision leads to another and another and another....effectively changing your future. 

Think about this the next time you are riding. Maybe there is a section of trail that you tend to skip because you either don't like it or it is too difficult. Take it.......see what happens. I think you can change your future...even a a better path. Yesterday I started a workout program. I made the decision to start it a while ago when I bought the book. That was one step. Starting it was another. Now...I am going to get on my trainer again....for an hour...because I know that this decision is important to help me stay on the path that I have chosen. Slowly....the path will unfold and the decisions I have made in the past will fall away and my decisions tomorrow will help to create my path.....see you out there.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Update Dec 12

This week was less than stellar. I ended up gaining back what I lost last week and then adding some more on. Sitting firmly at 261.5  My own fault...and I have no excuses. Too much food (good food christmas on Saturday and then various goodies yesterday) and too little exercise.

So....not going to bore you with the same "I know what I need to do" type of thing...but rather let you know that I have registered for two races for the 2013 season. Barry Roubaix will be the first race. It is mainly gravel roads with some paved and a few super sandy sections. Last year I got caught by the pros doing the longer course....this year I don't want that to happen. I want to get home before they do....because while they will probably be about the same speed....I have major room for improvement.

Second is the Yankee Springs Time Trail. Last year I felt awful during this race and finished was my first Sport race. This year will be different....I will try to win....but my main goal is to shave time...and to chase down Dan S. and Brian B. Small victories will be in all comes down to the same thing.

Weight loss. I have 18 weeks until the Yankee TT. That could be 36 pounds if I lose 2 per week. I would be at 225 if I could average that loss per week. So....that is the least I will do. I want to stay healthy but I want to get this weight off too.

Goal for Barry Roubaix 2:30:00 This would be an improvement of 24 minutes. Its on.
Goal for Yankee is to be sub 1 improvement of 12 minutes.

If I weight 225......I will do it......check back in to see how my attitude has changed.....and see what I have in store for the next few months.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A feel for the numbers.....

Over the past few days I have been chatting with a friend about the differences in bikes, components, wheel size, tires, and all of that stuff. I have a feeling he is getting frustrated because he is trying to trust the salespeople at the shop he frequents. Then he gets advice from other people that absolutely contradicts what the shop tells him. So....I broke it down for him in the simple terms as I see....and how I think things would be. Here goes....
First things first.....Trek, Specialized, Niner and Giant all have different geometry. Why? Well....that I don't have an answer for but I do know that each company tries to "tune" the bikes to certain rider sizes and shapes. Take it easy....I am not judging the designers and engineers that create these machines we love....all I am saying is that the broader range of people a bike can fit the better. That is why we have small, medium and large bikes....with a billion different stem and handlebar combinations. So...back to the point...while I may feel comfortable on a Large Giant the same might not be said for a Large Niner. I am sure they are close...but the differences can be subtle enough to merit a change in size. Find a geometry that feels right and tweak the bike from there.

Size matters? Wheel size? Really? Ok, so now we have a 26" wheel, a 750b and a 29" wheel. Allright....are there differences....well...yes....but as I explained to my friend I will now explain to the way I see it. The trend is surely headed towards the 29er crowd. Bigger wheels put the axle another 1.5 inches higher and make those wheels roll over obstacles better. Awesome. takes longer for the wheels to get up to off? Doubt it....I think it comes down to more than just the wheel size itself....but the actual rider....size...and riding style. Me for example....I am 6'1" tall and weigh in around 250 (ish) and most of my weight is from the waist up. In my center of gravity is pretty high already. So...putting that COG another 1.5" higher has advantages when rolling over log piles or taking a step up....but does it help in the corners? How can I hold the bike down when my ass is another 1.5" higher on off the ground and I need to hang a right? Well.....simply put....riding style. I would ride a 26" wheeled bike differently than a 29" wheeled bike for that simple reason alone. They handle different....rotational weight is different....COG is different....the bike is just different.....almost as different as a hardtail and a full suspension bike.

All I am saying is that each bike, tire, shifter, pedal, wheelset, and component will treat a person differently. My friend Dan S. and I are the nearly the same size and build. He is a stronger rider than I am....hands down. If we had identical bikes he would crush me on that aspect alone....but our riding styles are different too. I take different lines than he does. I clear some sections....he clears others. Each of us will handle the same bike differently and ride differently no matter what. One simple change...such as tires....can change the entire way the bike rides. Dan made a comment last time we were out about how differently a Giant Trance and a Niner handle. Different bikes.....wheels....components. Even if set up exactly the same they would be different.

In general.....what it comes down to is simple. Ride what you like. Try a few different brands of bikes, tires, shifters, shoes and whatever else you can think of. Each brand offers different things and different feels. What I like may be way different than what you like. What my friend likes I might is the nature of the sport we love.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday check-in

I realize I never posted last week.....because last week there was nothing to report. Long week and a gain of .75 pounds. This past week was better.....a few hours of training and a 2 pound loss. Progress is progress. I am working on getting my mind wrapped around what I actually need to do. It is so easy to just say what needs to be done.....but it is a different story when the action is required. I am slowly turning my train of though onto the right set of tracks and really paying attention to the details. For example.....getting the trainer set up is is not enough.....using it is the next logical step. I set it up and actually used it 3 times this past week. Not much right....but that is 3 more times on the bike than I have had in the previous 2 that is progress. I have a few different training regimens I can choose from....and 2 of the 3 are spelled out for 12-15 weeks....I simply need to follow the schedule. Easy enough.

The next thing is food. I have been cutting meals down and eating a little less....minus last night. I had a sundae at 10pm instead of getting on the bike.....but......I did still post the 2 pound loss this week. Might have been 2.25 if I had skipped it. But, I will not be doing that every night....or every weekend for that matter. Cutting a little at a time is easier and I am setting myself up to do this damn weight loss thing right....for the long term....and to get off of the roller coaster that I have been on for the past 4 years.

I want to be fast. I want to be skinny.   I want to be HEALTHY. That is the main thing right now....the rest will come with the healthy changes. I am going to fashion some sort of trainer for my 8 year old to use as well. She would love to spin with me through the winter. There is some extra incentive. Even after only 3 days of training I have more energy and actually feel 30% better than last week. This week I expect another improvement and will take what I can get......and as far as losing weight.....I will lose it.....but I will also destroy it cannot come back.

Have a good week! (it snowed here today....just a all you skiers should be excited that it might actually snow heavy enough to ski soon!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Weekly Weight Update

Ok.....this past week was Thanksgiving. Not a valid excuse to be a glutton, but an easy one to use. I did okay on Thanksgiving day by only eating one time. Way better than eating one time.....from 8am to 10pm like I have done in years past. I knew I had to step on the scale today and see what the damage was going to that helped keep me in check.

I was 260 this morning...a full pound down from where I was last Monday. Not good....but a step in the right direction is not a bad thing either. I managed to ride a few times last week and will be on the trainer this week. Cold air and early darkness are valid reasons to sit and torture myself on the sit-n-spin.

Every Monday I am going to start to post about my previous week...a recap so to speak...and will also write about what my weight is and what my goal will be for the week. it goes.....

My goal for this week is to ride at least 4 hours. I would like to lose 3 pounds as well. Gotta chip away at the weight every week and I am geared up for it. I also want to do some type of core workout at least 3 days this week as well. Gotta get my core stronger so I can climb some hills....

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Lets make it a good week!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Burner

Thanksgiving was yesterday. I ate enough in one meal to take care of my caloric intake for the day. Izzy and I rode a few miles on Thursday....because temps were in the 60's. We did a little trail behind the middle school. It is a good trail for Izzy to learn on and she doesn't get overwhelmed. A few miles and then we headed out for dinner.....and ate some turkey.

A few teammates were going to ride Kal-Haven trail today from Kalamazoo to South Haven and back but that would be 70 miles and I am not in good enough shape for that. Instead, Dan and I headed up to Luton Park for a few laps. I am getting to be in better shape with every ride....but I knew that two laps here would be a small test for me. The parking lot had one car when we got there. Temps were in the high 30's and dropping. A strong wind was making it feel colder in the parking lot, but once we got started it wasn't bad at all......but we were dressed for the cold. 

The first loop was pretty good. I was able to pace and just take it easy. Every lap I ride out there I get a little faster. It is amazing that a few months ago I was crushing the trail. Lately, I have been struggling to make it around without feeling dead. Today, knowing we were riding two laps I tried to ride easier so I would have enough gas on the second lap. I was feeling some lower back pain towards the end of the lap because most of the climbing is towards the end....but we rested for a minute and then headed out for the second loop. 

It started to snow lightly during this lap. I just kept shaking my head and thinking to myself "why do I do this" but then I remember why....because mountain biking is a lot of fun. The leaves were making the trail a little slick in the corners...and I was trying a new cornering technique so it was really interesting! I watched this video and tried it....tell you what....I know that I need some work....but if I can get better I will fly around corners! Here is a video of the Black Loop that someone posted. One of the many different loops out there at Luton.

When we got done the snow was the time we go to lunch it was snowing sideways. We burned a few calories on our two loops and then had a bowl of chili on the way home. Dan and I meet at a park-n-ride so I had to unload my bike before I could head home. I did. Put my stuff in the car....and closed the which my damn car chirped and locked the doors.....with my keys and cell phone inside. I used Dan's phone to call Chelle and Dan was nice enough to not make me stand in the snow and wait.

It was a lot of fun to ride today. Still working on the engine more and I will get to where I want to be. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully I can sneak in a few more outdoor rides this year...but I am sure my bike doesn't is hanging out in the shower right now because I had to hose it down after the ride...and drive home today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Update....lots going on...

I will start with the weekend....and go from there.

Saturday: Tried to drag my son out of bed around 8am, but he was not feeling well. I loaded up my bike and headed to Zeeland to help the WMMBA with a trail day. This park, Upper Macatawa Natural Area, is roughly 600 acres and was opened up to mountain biking last year. All the hoops were jumped through and the WMMBA was able to start cutting trail. The terrain out here is very interesting. Lots of valleys....which means a hill or two. Perfect! All the terrain around this park seems to be perfectly it is interesting that there are valleys. I worked until about 1pm cutting in trail and getting to know some people that will be riding there as well. In total there is about 1.5 miles of fresh trail in there....with plans for a lot more. I am really excited about this trail because it is so close to where I work....10 minutes....and then only 30 minutes from home.

Sunday: Up early again but this time just to ride. I met Dan S. and we headed up to Rockford to ride the two trails there.....Merrell and Luton. When we got to the parking lot there was only one car there...and it was a runner that had just finished his run. We talked for a bit and then headed out for our loop. The trail is very fun. It has a little bit of So, we did a loop there and headed a few miles down the road to Luton Park. Given the choice I would ride Luton over Merrell. This trail has a very wide variety of terrain as well. No huge hills, but they do just keep getting a bit tougher on each loop. Then a few short steep hills and you are done. Total distance was about 15 miles for the two trails. All I realized is that the engine of my bike needs some work. It was a fun ride with beautiful weather.

Monday: I stated last Friday that I was going to start watching what I eat again on Monday. At work, I made a statement about being hungry and wanting to get something to eat and a guy I have worked with for a week called me out and threw it in my face. HA. Just what I needed to wake me up! I have done a little better....but starting is the hardest part.

On topic but off subject a little: I am amazed at how terrible I feel. I have been fueling myself with garbage and it shows. I am suffering the side effects of eating terrible food. I don't sleep well. My skin is very dry. I am exhausted. My allergies are firing. I get winded walking up a flight of stairs. I know what I need to do. I am going to do it. I just cannot believe how much of a difference 20 pounds makes. I also know why I was such a jerk for so long.....because I am much happier when I am healthier. Lets do it.

P.S. I am thinking I will get up early Thanksgiving morning and go ride the new trail. Even if it is only 1.5 miles....a few laps will be fun.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Full circle

I looked at my weight numbers from this time last year. I was exactly the same weight that I was...all the way back up to 263 pounds again. At one point I was down to 239 pounds and feeling great. I gave up....stopped fighting the fight and started eating. I stopped riding. Stopped caring....frankly. The fight was still going on....but I stopped throwing punches back. So....that makes the circle complete. Every year I do the same thing....I start in the 260' my way down to the 240's or even 230's and then gradually creep back up to the 260's. This year was different because I felt it happening.....and I still let it happen. Why? Well.....I could list off a few excuses but it comes down to ONE: I am lazy.

I didn't feel like trying anymore and started finding reasons to not go for a ride....or reasons to eat an extra piece of pizza. Maybe there is more to the whole S.A.D. thing that what I actually realized...until now. Seasonal affliction disorder (S.A.D.) is a very real thing. Simply stated is is depression from the change in the seasons. I was doing okay before a family cruise at the end of September, but when we got home to Michigan it was 40 degrees colder than it was in Florida. I think that is when it started. Within a week I found an excuse to not ride. Within 3 weeks I sold off my Iceman entry. A few weeks after that I had a discussion with a teammate about S.A.D. and that is when it clicked with me that I am definitely a candidate. So now......I need to just do something about it.

Two weeks ago I made the trip to Fort Custer and rode about 18 miles with Dan S.  The ride was pretty good....just slow from lack of riding. No worries though.....Dan is a good friend and knows that I just need to or slow. So, we headed out again this past Sunday up to Luton and Merrell. The ride was a lot of fun....but I could feel that I wasn't enjoying it as much as I should have been. The reason was....I was slow. A few months ago I rode these trails and felt amazing. Sunday, I was struggling up the hills....but Dan was still waiting for me and encouraging me to just keep spinning them out.

These last few rides prompted some inner searching.....searching for that guy that was 239 only a few short months ago. He is here.....he knows what he has to do.....and now he has to do it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Iceman 2012....or not....

Yes it is that time of year again. The time of year when 4000 people go racing through the woods on two wheeled machines powered only by energy gels. The after party is huge with lots of beer and conversations about the events of the day......but I won't be there....

Three years ago I was there. I lined up with over 100 people in my wave with temps in the low 20's. It was cold enough that people were slipping and falling in the parking lot on frozen puddles. The race went okay, but I cramped up about 20 miles in....and that pretty much ruined the rest of the race for me. Don't get me wrong....the challenge is awesome...and racing with that many certainly never get bored. I sold my entry last year....because I wasn't riding much after injuring my knee in the summer. I sold my entry this year because I haven't ridden for over a month.....but I just wan't that motivated to train for Iceman this year. 

Back 10 years ago when I did my first Iceman there was only 2000 people. It was awesome to go to the Traverse City area and race with that many people. The first year was warm...mid 50's....the next year was cold...30's with snow on the ground. Three years ago it was cold with snow....this year appears to be low 40's with no snow. You really never know what you are going to get.

My main reason for not racing Iceman this year....minus lack of the simple fact that it stopped being fun. I don't mind getting held up for a minute on some technical singletrack....but having to walk for over a mile in a train of people just isn't fun. I signed up for a mountain bike race....not a cross race...or a Xterra race. Sure, I have to walk some hills and maybe get held up during other races....but not for the duration of this race. There are so many people in the woods that are never alone. I like to ride with people, but the quiet surroundings of a ride are a definite draw for me.

So this year I won't be in Kalkaska for the start of the 2012 Iceman. I will wish my friends and teammates the best and everyone else that is racing, riding, attempting to finish, ect. this crazy event in Norther lower Michigan. Good luck friends. Ride safe. Have fun. Let me know how it goes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Like a hammer to the forehead

Have you ever seen a person swinging a hammer in tight quarters? Driving a nail in right next to their face...the hammer almost hitting them with every swing. I have....and I have to admit that it was quite amusing. You could see it slow motion.....the hammer drove forward and bounced back right into the bridge of his nose....nearly knocking him out from the force. Needless to say, he swore he would never do it again.....yet.....two weeks later he found himself in a similar position and nearly did it again.

That brings me to my ride on Sunday. Jay, Lisa, a friend of Lisa's, and another Custer rider (sorry, terrible with names) and I headed out on the Barry Roubaix route to get some much needed hill climbing done. I made the terrible mistake of bringing my Defy (road bike) with my CX tires mounted on it. It was great on the pavement and the first gravel road, but I was already wondering about the the small hills. Once I got to Sager Road I was mass sank into the sand like the Titanic. The skinny CX tires were like a knife in the soft sand....and I had to walk a lot of Sager. Eventually got to the other end....and in spectacular fashion.....fell like a sack of potatoes into the gravel. I was unclipped with my left foot, but I hit a small pile of gravel and it tossed my weight right....and of course....I could not get unclipped....effectively hitting myself in the head with a hammer. I make that reference because I always hear people say "I will never do that again" and it always happens. You think you are find....then a screw backs out of your cleat and you nearly break your leg trying to get unclipped......flailing away until you end up on the ground. I just laid there for a second.....and smiled.....because only Lisa and her friend saw it. Both understood...and we moved forward.

The next problem I ran into was the gearing on my Defy. Meant for the road, the Defy is set up with a double ring in the granny gear.....and I am not strong enough to spin a big I was in trouble.....on small hills. Jay was gone like a rocket before Sager Rd. and when Lisa and I got to the T on the course....I pulled the plug and we took the short course back. This course is not easy....but it is easier than the longer route. Lisa and I plugged away and eventually made it back to the road.  I was enjoying the downhills on the skinny CX tires because I was flying! I hit 36 on one decent. ha.

Anyway, we got back to the cars and all went our separate ways. Jay did a great time and was back before we left the lot. I learned a few things......I tried and essentially failed on the road bike to ride this route....but I tried......and....I have a ton of work to do before Iceman. ugh.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New...and used

Merrell Trail opened up this past week and I have been eagerly waiting to ride it. The pictures and videos of the trail have looked amazing so I was really excited when it opened. Dan picked me up in Martin and we headed up to meet Pat and Cathy. It was an early morning and the temps were perfect for riding, low 70's. We were getting ready when a couple of guys approached us. One asked if my Epic was the one that was for sale and I told him it indeed was. He looked at the bike a bit, but it was nasty dirty from riding Fort Custer the Sunday sat on it to check the size and went on his way. So...lets ride.

We started off up the little rise to the first signage for the trail. This trail is unique in that the trail direction is different every day of the week. The sign below shows the days and the directions. My only suggestion, a calendar that shows what day it is so people don't have to guess.

The four of us headed out, following the Red signs because it was Sunday.

Pat not shown (taking pic)
This trail is a lot of fun. It is very different for this area. It has HUGE rocks, roots, singletrack, berms, hills, and everything else that we like in a trail system. It is hard to describe, but I was just enjoying riding some new trail. I was feeling pretty good. We would ride a bit and decide which area to tackle next, when I got to this area (shown in picture)

The idea here is that if you cannot ride the skinny shouldn't go down this trail. Well, we all wanted to see what was back there so we walked the bridge and headed down this tough section, knowing we would be careful and walk if we felt unsafe. I loved this part. It was super technical with some amazing stunts and bridges and huge rock drops. The way we went I was able to ride nearly everything. I walked a few things just to see what was on the other side, but never felt like I was going to die. There is a bridge in there that starts wide (the direction we were riding) and then turns skinny. It is the entrance to this section going the other direction. I rode it because it looked cool. Little did I know that it elevated and turned skinny at the same time...making it about 8" wide and 3 feet off the ground! Ha. I made it without issue, but I can see how someone could find themselves in over their head. All in all, this trail was a lot of fun and I cannot wait to ride there again....especially after the winter sets the trail. It will be flowing and fast for sure! Great Job to the WMMBA for continuing the 50 in 5 initiative with this trail. Hopefully the next trail will be just as awesome...and 10 minutes from where I work ;)

After we rode a loop at Merrell we headed to Luton Park for a lap. Luton is about a 5 minute car ride from Merrell. I was feeling very good on this trail. I would ride ahead a bit and then wait until I saw Dan come into view, then I would roll again. Dan was floating between keeping me in view and making sure Cathy and Pat were okay. I was feeling good, so I just went on one section. I stopped and waited for everyone to regroup and then went again. I was loving the trail. Just flowing good and clearing everything with no issue. At one point I went left and the rest went right onto a slightly longer section of trail. I was riding on a flat straight section, looked over to my right trying to see how far back they were. I looked back at the trail and promptly dumped myself onto the trail. What I didn't see was the small tree on the right that smashed my pinky into the bar and pulled my wheel sideways....causing an instant endo. I landed in a pile on my left forearm, left shoulder, hip and knee. I picked myself up and started to take a survey. Right side was good, I still had full range of motion in my right pinky finger just a little pain. No blood anywhere but my left elbow. The other three rolled up and off we went again. I ended up with a bruised pinky, bruised left knee, and a rash on my left forearm. Not really anything significant like a certain teammate of mine ;)

Anyway, great day on the trail with some minor scrapes. Iceman is up in the air still. Not quite sure what I am going to do yet. The weather is awesome for riding and my schedule is chock full of soccer and dance for the undetermined future. I will ride when I can and make a decision on Iceman when the event gets closer.

Monday, August 27, 2012

2nd Annual Remember Big Timmy Ride

The second edition of this event is finally in the books. It took 3 reschedules and some shuffling of other things to make it happen...but it did! This ride is to remember my beautiful niece's father that passed away two years ago. He was my wife's brother and the guy that got me started riding. Click here or here or even here(here first) for some history ;)

It was perfect weather. I got up early and loaded the cooler and had the truck ready to go for Chelle and the girls. Zack and I loaded our bikes on the VW and off we went. We got to Fort Custer right at 9am. Dan, Lisa, and Jay were waiting at Eagle Lake. J.J. was on his way. We geared up and off we went to pick up Ron and Barb at the trailhead. J.J. got there and off we went.

The trail was perfect. Fast and hard packed. We rode the red loop first, but Zack and I cut off part of the Amusement park because he had racked his hand and it was hurting. We got back and everyone else was just pulling in too. First lap done. Fun lap.

Second lap, Zack and Barb rode together as we went down the green. I knew this pace would be quicker, and I was disappointed when I bent a pedal axle before the switchback climb. Not sure what I hit, but it is bent....dangit. Anyway, we rode together and would wait for everyone to regroup. Ron and I stopped at the boat launch to wait for Barb and Zack and the rest went onward. Once we directed Barb and Zack which way to go Ron and I headed out to finish up the Green loop. It was a lot of fun. I was riding pretty hard because I knew the others were waiting by the car and I wanted to say goodbye to all of them.

We got back and headed to the water. The family came and we had an awesome afternoon of swimming and grilling. Thanks to everyone for coming out and helping us remember our Brother!

(on a side note....last year when Dan asked me about Tim a butterfly landed on me. It then landed on my helmet and hung out until we left. Yesterday, a butterfly landed on Jeff's jersey and just kinda hung around for a while. In my opinion.....and you believe what you want....but we think this was no coincidence. Thanks for coming Tim, we miss ya brother.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Luton Park

This past Sunday a group headed up to Luton Park for a few laps. What an awesome trail. The plan was to ride around 9am and then head to a pool for a dip. My buddy Don from the east side of the state was over so we loaded up the bikes and headed up. We were one bike heavy because I talked a co-worker into joining us for a lap.

When we got there temps were still in the 60's. It was Don, Lisa, Dan S., Andy, Brian, Mike G., Jeff, one other person I don't know and myself getting ready. Then I saw my co-worker. We geared up and headed out. The plan was to ride a cruising lap and then a faster second lap.

Jeff led the way as this is his home course. Luton is interesting because it is a main loop with spur loops going off of it. If you want to ride short, you cut left and take the inner loop. Want the full 9 miles, hang a right at each signed intersection and you get the full trail. We took the full trail and it was a total blast. I have not ridden here in over two years. One because of location, and two....I didn't realize the WMMBA had such a nice 9 mile trail up there. It has a little bit of everything and our group looked like a snake going through the woods. I had two different people ask me where we were from....apparently they never see bigger groups riding out there...and there were 10 of I am sure it was a shock.

My co-worker did awesome. He had not really ridden in years, and that was BMX and just around the neighborhood back then. He was not afraid to attack anything. He jumped into the line and just followed along. Even the stuff that was harder he just rode like he had been riding forever. He did really good until about 7 miles...and he hit a wall. He asked "how much further" and we gently told him a few more miles. We got back and regrouped for the second lap. My co-worker headed home, he was worn out...but he did awesome and I am hoping to keep him moving towards buying a bike and riding with us more.

Second lap was Dan, Lisa, Andy, Jeff, Brian and I. The pace was much quicker and the speed only added to the fun of this trail. Jeff was not feeling well so he peeled off, and then we lost Andy too. So the four of us were chugging through the woods and trying to keep up with Dan. Brian was ahead of me and Lisa was right behind me. Brian made a minor mistake and I shot past him and tried to catch Dan....which didn't happen. All in all we rode 18 miles of trail that was new to me...and new to a few of the others as well.

We jumped in the pool for a bit and headed home. Great day on the bike with some great friends. Lets do it again soon!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Robin Hood

I saw a picture on the interwebs about an hour ago. It was a huge bag of money in various denominations with rubber bands around them. Some were rolls and some were just folded. It looked like a lot of money. The question being posted was whether or not you would return said money....if you were to find it somewhere. It got me thinking about what I would do.....and here is my take on the situation....kinda.....

If I were to win the lottery....I would be come Robin Hood.

Now...this is not the Robin Hood that robbed from the rich and gave to the is simply my take on the fairy tale.....because that is exactly what Robin Hood was and is....a fairy tale. Shit like that just doesn't happen.......

Say I win 150 million dollars in the lottery. I might bring home around 100 million before its all said and done after taxes. I would first and foremost give a chunk of change to each of my family members.....making sure that they are taken care of and that my children, along with my nieces and nephews, have college paid for in full with a car to drive too. So...the next step is simply to blow some money....on stuff. Bikes, campers, cars, house, vacations...ect. I really blowing money.....or am I a twisted Robin Hood?

Technically....the money from the lottery is not stolen from people....but rather donated to my cause. People across the United States have donated to this fund and it is my duty to put that money to good use. stuff is on the list....but lets think about how this can be good....for the economy. If I have 100k to spend on bikes....that money is going to Custer Cyclery. In turn, the money made here will go to bills, gas, food, ect. Whatever money was used to purchase my bike stuff will to go the companies such as Giant, Niner, Mavic, Stans, or whoever else sells the stuff that I buy. These companies make more money and are paying their employees. The employees are then buying more products in their local markets spurring a national economy boost.......I am Robin Hood.

Now....all I need to do is win the lottery.....hmm....

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Look me in the eyes

It was hard, but I was finally was able to look into your eyes. I was finding it difficult to catch your attention....or even to get you to look up from the ground. When you walk you stare at the ground ahead of you, refusing to raise your head with any resemblance of confidence. How have you been? I know you were doing very well. You had your weight headed in the right direction. You were riding faster than I have ever seen you ride. You were finding confidence with every pedal stroke you took. You were driving the pace on the Tuesday night rides. You were able to ride two centuries in the past two months. But then you changed......and I am here to tell you that I don't like what I see.

You went from making the right choices to making poor choices. When you would choose a water, you are choosing a pop. Granola bars gave way to snickers and m&m's. Single plates of dinner turned into second helpings. You stopped caring about the food and I saw you falling back into your old habits. Maybe you are comfortable heavier......but I know you are not happier.

I saw you improve dramatically when you focused on your training even just a little. I watched as you hit a goal weight that you have been chasing forever. I saw you walk with your head held high. I watched you participate in a race and complete two laps at a faster pace than you ever imagined. You were on track. Eating healthy. Exercising. Portions small. Avoiding fast food. No pop. Making the tough be healthier. No brownies, ice cream, ect.

So what happened? Stress? Life? Laziness? Comfort? Sure, I know you can be stressed out...but that is why you ride those bikes my friend. Blow that crap out....leave it on the trail or on the road. Let it melt away. Put the damn brownie down. Leave the pop in the cooler...drink a water instead. I know you can do were doing so good before. I think it is easy to be lazy. Easy to eat three times as much as you need. Easy to pack on the pounds. Don't you remember how you felt when you hit your last goal weight? You felt amazing I am sure. Confident. Skinny even. Sure, I am sure that losing weight has negative side affects a lower blood pressure and pants that fit baggy. Sounds awful. I am sure you are more comfortable stuffing yourself into your jeans and cinching up your belt. Be Merry. If Santa kicks the bucket you can take his place.....won't even need to alter the suit. true to yourself dude. You know what you have to do. It is more than the bike. You don't ride enough to eat whatever you want. It doesn't work that way. You have to make the choice.....time after time. Dont let one bad choice derail you completely. Stay on target. If you have a bad day....forget it and make the next day a good day. When I see you I want you to look me in the eye with confidence. I want to see you reach your goals. I want to see you happy. I want to see you out on the trail kicking ass. I want to see you finishing centuries. I want to see you....period. It is that simple.......

Remember this....when you look in the mirror tomorrow morning......

Monday, July 23, 2012


Ok, I gotta talk about this....and it happened during the Holland 100 on Saturday. Dan S. and I were riding side by side and chatting about the weather, cramps, mileage, ect.  A group was approaching us and as we hit a small curve they started to pass. No worries....plenty of room. At least two people were past me before I hear a guy


The response from both Dan and I was "are you serious?" I didn't really want to tell this guy that I had been ON MY LINE for the past 45 miles. So....I start looking at the guy that screamed at me and I notice a few things about his bicycle.....

1) he had platform pedals with toe clips

2) He had a carrier with a bag on the back of it....

3) he was on a touring bike

4) he (along with his group) was slowing down

This prompted me to want to scream at the top of my lungs HOLD YOUR LINE DUMBASS...but I didn't. They sped back up and created a gap. Thankfully I was not carrying my collapsible antenna....or that dude would have been in a pile! Like the guy in the picture below.....

We saw a guy that looked like this.....

I didn't take him out....I held my line. But I really started to wonder what I was doing to prompt that order of attention from him. I have asked repeatedly to the people if I am "that guy" because I really don't want to be him. I want to ride in a group safely and not cause crashes like the one below. We did roll up onto a group that was stopped.....and a guy was laying on the ground. They were asking if he could feel his legs. We kept stay out of the way and not clog up the road any longer.

We saw something similar....but we were rolling towards it....

I imagine the crash looked like there were bikes and people scattered everywhere.

I imagine it looked like this.....(without all the spectators)

I just don't know what to think.....did I swerve? was I riding wild? do I look like a dumbass? I think the answer to all three of these is NO. It bothered me more because the guy was on platform pedals....sure...he might have been stronger....and maybe he was riding to that is why he had a suitcase on his bike.......but I still don't appreciate the jab. If you are wearing a full kit with matching gloves and helmet when you pass me going 25 mph...then yeah....throw out a jab and tell this guy to hold his line. I might respect it....but then again I might just rub your wheel to see if you are talking the talk or walking the walk......because I listen to the people I ride with. I trust the people I ride with. They tell me how to to to to to hold my line. I appreciate the heads up from that guy....but next time.....just say 'on your left'.....besides.....I know what I am doing....I have a chain tattoo on my leg.......but that is just an insignificant detail....I mean....I am sure there are people that have chain and gear tattoos on their bodies that don't know how to handle a bike....or a motorcycle.....or a scooter.......dumbass.....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Holland 100 (2012)

I woke up at 4:30 to take Zack to work. This day was different because I HAD to stay up so I could get ready to head to the Holland 100. I sat down to eat a bowl of cereal and as I finished there was a knock on the door. It was Dan S., Dan T. and Summer. I was not even close to being ready....but I knew where eveything was and just got moving faster. We left the house at 6:02 and we got to the Herman Miller building around 6:30. That gave us plenty of time to get registered and round everyone up by 7 am.

As we left the parking lot we had Dave, Dan S., Dan T., Eric, and then Ted came out of nowhere to join up with us. We started pretty fast to get in front of the people that were just cruising. There were a lot of people and our pace line was zipping past them. Around 12 miles in Ted peeled off to the left side of the road and Eric turned around. Dan S. and I stopped at the next intersection and I called Eric to see what happened. Ted's pedal had come out and twisted, but they got it back together and decided to keep going. We pressed onward and everyone regrouped at the Pancake Breakfast about 30 miles in. Dan S. and I took off fairly quickly and were on our way just cruising.

The weather was perfect. Sun shining and a few clouds. It never really got hot until towards the end. A group passed us and Dan said "wanna" and I nodded so we picked up the pace and dropped into a group so we could ride faster with less effort. We stayed with them for a while but they were flying up the hills...and I as I am getting faster....still not that we dropped back and settled back into our pace. The next rest area was approaching when we saw the huge group stopped in the road. It had grown to more people than the one that we were riding with...but it was clear there was a crash. We didn't know anybody in the group but there was a guy down and they were asking if he could feel his legs. Bad crash....glad we were not involved....and hopeful that the guy (and anyone involved) is okay. We pressed on and got the aid station. Dave rolled in right as we stopped. Eric and Ted were a few minutes later. We refueled and started off again.

Shortly after the rest area Dan T. broke a spoke and we had to slow down....his wheel was wobbling like crazy if we were over 15 mph. About 5 miles from the next aid station I got a flat. I borrowed a tube from Dan S. and the SAG vehicle was right there so I used their floor pump. Eric and Ted passed us right there too. Off we went again and made the aid station. As we got there Dan got his wheel fixed. Dan S. had to keep moving so he was WAY ahead. Poor guy gets cramps like finishing was all that was on his mind.....and I don't blame him. Off we go again...about 30 miles left.

I started to run out of gas.....slowing down and just wanting to be done. Thankfully we reached the last aid station as Dan T. and I caught Eric and Ted. Summer was there too. We refueled and left as a group of 5. It didn't take long before I got shot out the back.....a long climb got me and my legs were refusing to pedal hard.....I pushed what I could and kept the group in sight about 1/2 mile ahead. A group of 4 came past me and I jumped on their wheel. We closed the gap pretty quick and I just stayed with them....until a hill....then they created a gap and that train was over. Summer was with me though....and Eric and Ted were right there. Dan T. was ready to be he disappeared off the front.

We had about 6 miles to go and I just put my head down and dug in. I went as hard as I could for the rest of the ride with everyone right with me. I was way ready to be done....but I have no clue where my legs came from....just that they were back and I was going to use them. We ended up with 104.48 miles. Actual ride time was 6:20. Not a bad day on the bike. Thanks to the people that came out to ride and for the volunteers at the aid stations. (wow, I kinda rambled a bit.....but alot happens in a 100 mile ride)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I remember....

Many years ago I was following you down the trail. You were on your black and red Trek 2500. You had some god awful blue and waterproof Nike shoes on your damn Wellgo pedals. We were fast as we could back then. It was small downhill section and the trail was super wide...but we would take any trail riding we could get. This ride though changed you. You might not remember why, but I see it in my memory like it happened yesterday. We were going probably around 16 mph down this section of trail. Just ahead I saw a small tree was down and laying over the trail. Thinking you were 10 feet tall and bulletproof you decided to bunny hop this particular tree. Little did you know that the tree was at least a foot off the ground....and your vertical boost was not nearly enough. You caught yourself......with your face....going 16 miles an hour. You were promptly knocked unconscious. Kudos for trying to make it.....your front wheel cleared but your back wheel hooked the tree and spun you so fast that you had no chance to get your hands up. The 4' skid mark was rather impressive too. Anyway, after stopping I realized you were not moving. I got you untangled from your Trek and tossed it to the side to survey the damages. Your left eye was bleeding and I figured maybe you had a neck injury. You would not respond to my call of your name or a subtle shake. Surveying the damage I decided I had to get you stationary so I unclipped your helmet. You shot straight up to a sitting position with a perplexed look on your face....blood dripping down onto your jersey. I asked you if you remembered what happened. You took a look at the tree and said "guess I didn't make it huh?" I told you that your were bleeding and we started the short one mile trip to home. Don't worry, your bike was fine. You impressed me because after about 6 steps you threw your leg over the bike and said "lets just get home". Within the next 1/4 mile the haziness started to appear. You started to ask me for details about the preceding events and if it looked cool or not. By the time we were 1/4 mile from home you had to ask me again because you had no idea what happened...but I can still see your smile. Impressed with yourself for the apparent war wound and story that you had acquired. Explaining what happened to your wife and sister was very interesting too....because your concussion fog made it so you forgot once again what happened. We got in the car with your wife and we headed to the ER. 7 stitches in your eyebrow, a huge black eye, and one concussion later you looked like you were in a huge fight. You were okay, and the healing began.

We never really rode much after that. I could tell that your once aggressive nature on the bike had turned tentative. Eventually the riding stopped all together. For both of us. No more arguments over which bike brand was better.....Trek versus Schwinn....which if you look around anywhere I think we can tell who was right. No more weekend rides at Custer or Yankee. No day trips across the state up north to ride Vasa. No more Iceman races. A lot changed that day.

I want to thank you though. You got me into this crazy sport that I love so much. You are on my mind every time I get on the bike. I wonder what you are doing now. Wonder if you ever went for another ride. There has got to be sweet singletrack where you are now. I will never forget that you got me started riding. I will never forget the fun we had out there in the woods. But you know it was always more than that....and that is what I miss the most. We all miss you brother. It has been 2 years today since we had to say good bye. 2 difficult years of wondering how different things could have been. I know I have a guardian angel since you passed.....and I hope that you sit on my shoulder as I am blasting through the woods or riding around the countryside. You were smiling on me last night as the guy went down in front of me and I was able to ride over his bike without a scratch to me or my bike.

Thank you Big Timmy. We miss you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It was sorta hot

For some reason I felt like I needed to ride 70 miles on the 4th of July. Thankfully Dan S. wanted to suffer to so we met at the Kal-Haven trailhead and off we went. I was up entirely way too late watching fireworks and hanging out with friends. Asleep by 1am, up around 5:30 am and yuk.....already 80 degrees when I left my house.

The first part of this trail is always fast....downhill I guess....for 35 miles. We made really good time getting to parking lot in South Haven in just over 2 hours. The ride back is always worse, and it was getting hotter the longer we were out there. We filled the bottles and started the trudge back. I started feeling the lack of sleep and the heat about 45 miles in. I had to slow down, but I just kept going as fast as I could. I had a goal of 5 hours round trip, so I could'nt slow down too much! ha. We stopped in Bloomingdale and filled the water bottles again. We also used the hose to water ourselves down....whew.....the heat was just getting intense. It wasn't too bad in the shade as long as we were moving, but the sunny areas were HOT HOT HOT!

dry and dusty 70 miles

We got back, just under 5 hours elapsed time....70 miles. I was toasted....legs shot. I started the car and the temp read 100 degrees. I loaded the bike, jumped in the cool air and headed home. I was able to relax the rest of the day (thanks to my lovely wife) and I am glad...because my legs were killing me. Clearly I was a bit dehydrated but today I feel much better. I did get to thinking though about my ride.....where I started this year compared to where I am now....and this quip came to mind:

Learn something about yourself....get on a bike and ride until you think you cannot turn the pedals even one more revolution....then keep going. You might be surprised.

Two rides in the past 10 days I have wanted to of them I was pulled along by teammates and I had to will myself to keep going yesterday. In February I could barely ride 30 miles without wanting to die. I was cutting rides short and finding excuses. Now I am looking for 50+ mile rides. It seems amazing to me how far a person can go in such a short time....and I am not being boastful or anything....I am just amazed more at myself than anything. Last year I had 2 rides over 50 miles....this year I have 4 already...with many more planned.

If I can do this thing called cycling...anybody can.....really. So why not throw your leg over a bike and ride around the block. You never know how long that block will could end up being 70 miles one day.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Consider this....

I picked up riding again thanks to my friend Chris. We were working 3rd shift and I was really bored so I started looking up cycling related topics again. It had been many years since I had ridden. Working far from home and our babies had kept me very busy that I was neglecting my own health and well being, which as we all know is counterproductive. Chris and I started talking about riding and eventually dusted off our bikes and headed out to ride. It has been a roller coaster since. We have gone all the way to Houghton to race the Keweenaw Chain Drive and I have done a lot of other races. I remember though...the Chain drive....I was registered for the 32 mile race...but switched to the 16 mile race because I was out of shape. A lot has happened since then.

Last month I rode my first century of the year. In a few weeks I have another century ride on the schedule. I went from being afraid of 32 miles to looking forward to riding 100. Twisted right? Well, not as twisted as the thought that I had after the last century I did.....and that thought was a 100 mile mountain bike race. You heard me....100 miles on the dirt....with hills....and other likeminded people. It is on my bucket list to ride 100 miles of singletrack....but I never thought that next year....or even this year....would be an option.

I am going to miss the Boyne marathon which would have been a major test for me....lots of climbing, but only 33 miles or so...still a long time on the bike...but we have other things going not this year. That made me think...what about a 6/12 hour race. There are a few close to me....and there is one in August that might be the first 12 hour race I will do. It is a perfect opportunity. Close to home...and short laps...less than 5 miles. That means I can cruise my own speed and still knock out two laps an least in the beginning. I am putting it on my schedule.....with the goal of not winning....but simply riding 100 miles in the dirt......and pushing myself to the limit.

Something has changed.....I was afraid of longer rides only last season....50 miles was hard....50 miles is still hard....but I am getting faster...and pushing myself to keep going. Thankfully I have people that push me too, and keep me moving when I want simply stop. This 12 hour race will be different.....because it will be a fight with myself......and I will have to push myself to keep going....even when my body is trying to quit. I will keep riding the longer distances to build my endurance.....and I will ride 100 miles in the dirt this year.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Don't call here again (The affair Part 3)

It has been a while, but this series is being dusted off. You can get a recap by finding part 1 here and part 2 here.

A lot of things have changed this year. I have seen a lot of different numbers...some good....some bad. I flirted with 230 a while ago, but turned away and headed back to my friends 250 and even 260 in January. Eventually I had to say goodbye to these numbers and found myself alone with 240. Our time together was pretty good. Relaxed. Comfortable. But then one day I saw 230 sitting there with a group of close numbers. Hmm, maybe I should give 230 a call again.....because things with 240 have been good, but I think 240 is becoming jealous because 230 smiled at me. So......maybe.......and I took the 240 the boot, and I started to seek out 230.

The room is crowded....but I see 230 sitting there.....looking very nice. A full 30 numbers away from where I was in January. The friends here around 230 are pretty cool. 235 is cool, but I can't seem to get into a conversation yet. So, I will just hang out with 236 and 237 and wait patiently for 235 to come to me. Eventually I will reach 230...who is sitting there all alone....looking sad....and we can't have that. 230 never did anything to anybody.....this number has just been used as a milestone for many....and I am sure I will do the same.....but I still need to develop the relationship first.

240 keeps calling....not wanting to let go just yet....but I am done.....I haven't seen 240 in 3 weeks now. Messages on my scale, memories of the good times we had are still prevalent. I just can't go back now. My new friends in the 230's are a lot more fun. The pace of the fun is much quicker. The laughter is stronger. The hem. Anyway, 240 is not a part of my life anymore. 240, we had some good times together, but I am in a different place now. It is time for me to move on.....but I am sure you will find someone else to hang out with....I mean.....there are a lot of people that have seen you.....I am sure some will be comfortable with you......but I am done. I was with you for way too long...frankly. So....maybe it is me...and not you....but don't be sad. Remember our journey together. I won't forget....I promise....

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Don't be "that guy"

Before the TNR with Velo City, Mike gave a very direct speech about the rules. For the safety of everyone he talked about riding smart, and listening to the group leaders. Point taken. There have been a few crashes lately but thankfully no major injuries. On the Monday Macatawa ride though, a rider went down and ended up at Spectrum Hospital. Everyone seemed to be on point....except for one in particular in our group.

We started innocent enough through Holland. About 4 miles in I could tell the two riders in front of me were keeping an eye on a one guy. I had been watching him too, because he was all over the place. I told the two younger riders ahead of me to keep an eye on him because he was so sporadic. They both acknowledged and said they were already talking about it. We were trying to push him towards the back of the group and the three of us moved towards the front when we stopped to regroup. Problem...this guy rode around the whole group and ended up in the front again. He was easier to keep an eye on, but kept everyone else on their toes watching him. He would pedal and slow down, speed up, swerve, spit into the air (with 20 people behind him...classy), would tuck into aero position on the climbs, and even went onto his aero bars at one point. I heard someone tell him to stay off his aero bars but a few miles later he dropped to them again. I pointed and a guy in a Velo jersey yelled at him again. This guy responded "you can't be serious" so which I responded "your hands are nowhere near your brakes dude, and there are a lot of people in this group" so he finally stopped that.....but then he was giving updates to the leaders like he was in a trailer car. "no cars back"....."looking good back here"....."might be a car back"...ect. The same guy in the Velo jersey asked him what he was doing.....and his response was "riding with the Velo group...what are you doing".  Dumbass.

I finally moved up into 2nd row and he was next to me for much of the ride. I felt better because he finally calmed down a bit and the ride went pretty smooth. After the ride Velo City offered us some pop and pizza with some added conversation. I made sure to point out to a few others that this guy could be a problem in the future and they took note of who he was, and what he was riding. This got me thinking......have I ever been "that guy" because nobody wants to be "that guy". So I asked.

I had a nice conversation with Mike about being "that guy" and how I would prefer that people tell me if I am doing something wrong for the simple reason that I really don't know the rules. I am still learning. I have been on maybe 6 group rides and I know that I have made mistakes, but I am also learning what not to do from watching other people, as well as what to do by listening. Nobody wants to be that guy. I don't want to find out in a few weeks that I am "that guy" that is why I asked. So far, I haven't pissed anyone off that I know of....or I am sure they would have told me. It keeps me on my toes though....because I am learning and I am getting faster/stronger every ride. Hopefully I can stay away from the "that guy" tag.....and as long as "that guy" shows up that I mentioned above.....I should be able to steer clear of the tag.

Ride on people.

Boyne Marathon July 14th
Holland 100 July 21

Going to be a busy month again!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One and done....

The number 1 seems innocent enough....and so does a zero. But when you add two zeros behind the one....and then add the word miles behind it....well...that is a different story. The 4th Annual Allegrina 100 was this past Sunday and the jury was still out on how I would feel. We had just gotten back from the Dominican Republic on Friday and we were busy all day Saturday at a wedding. Not enough sleep and zero miles in 7 days meant a high probability of pain. we go.

The weather was perfect. Cool. There was a slight chance of rain, but nothing major ever happened...just a few sprinkles. We lined up a little after 8 for the first 45 mile leg of the ride and we were off. I knew I was in trouble because the pace was way harder than I anticipated. I was hanging with the group, but there was no way in hell I could hold that pace for 100 miles. Dan S., Dave, Chris C., Dan T., and Chris B. all were there to suffer with me, but they near the front and I was mid group. The first leg was fairly uneventful. The group got split on some climbs and I got dumped out of the fast group. Dan T. and I worked together to keep going until we got caught by the next group about 40 miles in. We led the pack for a bit but then I peeled off and dropped in for the rest of the loop. 45 done, time to refuel and regroup. The plan was to wait for the people riding 55 miles and head out as a group, but we didn't want to wait as our legs were feeling it after the stop.

The next loop was 33 miles and we had about 20 riders. Before too long the group was thinned to 10 and I was doing my best to just hang on. Eventually I got shot out the back again but I kept some of the riders in sight. Dan T. was with me again and we just plugged away until a tandem with Kaat caught us and led us back to Felt Mansion. I rolled in and Dan S. said that we were not very far behind them. I figured this was impossible because I felt so slow, but we were closer than I thought. Only a few minutes behind them. I was done.....I declared "that's all I got" and was ready to quit. Dan S. drove and he told me that he wouldn't let me into the car unless the computer read 100 on the odometer. Ugh....ok, but the pace needs to be slower because my legs were toast. Jet lag was rearing its ugly head. Refuel. Go.

The last leg was 22 miles. We were riding through Saugatuk when I heard Dan T. say "SEAN!" and when I looked at his face I knew something was wrong. He was starting to cramp and we had at least 16 miles to go. Instead of turning back, we pressed on. I forgot about my own pain and just kept an eye on him to make sure he was okay...which he was....just in a ton of pain from the cramps. Like soldiers....7 of us pressed onward......missing a key turn. Eventually we turned around and headed back because we were way off course. I was dead. Dan S. was suffering. A chime of "this isn't fun anymore" came from Dan T. and I had to agree. On the route back I got spit out again as my legs were out of gas. I knew the way back and just kept spinning my own pace. Eventually Dave, Dan S. and Lindsey disappeared......a while later Dan T. disappeared. Thankfully I made the last turn and pushed to the mansion.

105 miles in total. My second century ever. Thanks to everyone for putting on the event. Thanks to the people that drug me around for 100 miles, and thanks to the guys for making me keep going.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fort Custer TT Recap

First things first, we were late.....really late. I knew Sport started at 10:40 and it was after 10:15 when we hit the park. We had a graduation party the night before and I was totally unprepared for the early start, but we managed. We rolled in, parked, ran to registration, got my number on, got my jersey on...and I was ready. The only warm up consisted of riding down the hill to the bathroom and across the parking lot to the start line. Literally....60 seconds of warm up. It was warm outside and my body was warm, but my legs were not so much!

I got to the line with Dan and we were ready to go (sorta!). I knew Brian was right behind me (in the red helmet under the start tent) and I figured he would be chugging after me. Dan's plan, just cruise for the first half and then let it rip on the Green trail. His philosophy lasted all of 3 seconds as he started to pull away right from the word GO. I kept him in sight until he made the turn into the beginning part of the Red trail and he disappeared. I settled into my pace and didn't worry about him....I know he is faster. The guy I was worried about was right behind me....well....30 seconds anyway. I was going pretty good but the trail was dry and I had too much pressure so I nearly went down in the Trenches. Thankfully I saved it and continued on unscathed.

When I got to the long switchback climb a few miles in I caught a glimpse of Dan at the top. I was within grasp, but not close enough as he put 6 or 7 minutes on me in the last 10 miles. I was rocking my pace and holding it steady. Pushing the limits some, but not too much so I didn't crash. Right at my comfort level though...which made the race fun. I made it all the way to the last root on the last climb in Granny's Garden before I spun out and had to put a foot down. Almost made it! Been a while, but I get closer every time!

This race seems longer than what it is because we ride the Amusement park backwards. I get disoriented until I see the Green two-track and know the climbing is coming. Still haven't seen Brian, wonder how close he is.....

I was motoring as fast as I could through the green. After the boat launch I knew the end was getting closer so I pushed the gas as hard as I could to the end. Below is a pic of the log jam on the green, I can clear it...but it snuck up on me and I had to ride around. Still, those two in the pic passed me, and that was it to the finish line.

I finished with a time of 1:19:03....a major 15 minutes faster than last year. No kidding, I must be doing something right because I almost got podium.....ok...well...I was 6 minutes from 5th, but I did take 6th out of the 8 in my class. Brian never caught me, but he had chain issues so I still don't chalk this one up as a win yet. After the race we took a tip in Eagle Lake and headed to Brian and Gwens campsite for food and relaxation. We finally got kicked out around 10pm, but it was a lot of fun.

The team did great and I was feeling great. I had my highest sport clyde finish and I was complimented on how much weight I have lost. I will keep moving forward....because that is what works!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"you racers"

I have been called a lot of things.....but this one was new for sure. After a few week hiatus I joined up with the gang from Velo City for a 29 mile jaunt around Holland. I joined up with the mild group and we headed out of town. The weather was perfect and we had roughly 20 in our group. Not even a mile in....some douchebag in a big dualie honked at the whole group and went tearing around us....but we were nearly going the speed limit...and were single file for the most part....just an inconsiderate driver. He did give room....but the horn was a nice touch.

I stuck near the front. I was in the lead 6 for the entire ride. It is much easier to stick near the front and avoid the yo yo effect near the back. We were holding a solid pace when I heard one of the group leaders to slow down so we could regroup. Perfect timing as there was a stop sign coming up. We regrouped pretty quickly but the pace dropped back down to 15-16 to hold the group together. It didn't take long before the pace jumped back up again because we were in some small rollers and the leaders were using the momentum to carry the hills.

Then came the longer climb. The group was slowing, scattering, discombobulated to say the least. I was about 5th when we hit the climb, and two guys shot off the front. I put the hammer down and closed the gap and held their wheels all the way to the top with one of the group leaders. We shattered the group on this climb. The four of us were at the top and the rest of the group was in pieces down the hill. We stopped and waited for the rest of the group and allowed my heart rate to get back to normal. One of the guys rolled up next to me and we were talking. He said "you racer guys put the hurt on the group on that hill" .........racer guys?

So....I went from being spit out the back three weeks ago to a racer guy on this hill? Wow, thanks for the compliment. It felt good to be that dominant on that hill, but was the group just weak? Looking around I could see many of the usual people....people that usually make the hill before I guess that can only mean one thing....I actually am getting stronger.....sweet!  This wasn't the end either....ha.

When we started back up I went to the front and we were headed right into the wind. I was with another guy up front and we were just pedaling along talking about the smells, fields, how good it is to ride, ect. Then, I hear the group leader say "you guys need to back off a bit....we are getting strung out again". We just looked at each other like "really?" because we were pushing hard into the wind....but we were going faster than we in the 18 mph range. So, we regrouped at another stop sign and then took off again. This time a smaller group shot off the front and I heard a woman ask "does it bother you guys that I am tucked in right here?" I realized she was right in our draft and we were cruising 20 mph across this open area. Again, blazing the pace....but not on purpose. We turned back North and I dropped back into my position behind the leaders.

It really got fun on 8th street. It is a fairly straight shot to the shop from where we turn and the screws were being tightened. We stopped at US31 but when the light went green we were drag racing....sprinting full tilt to the next light. It turned green and again the lead 6-7 were like rockets (myself included) off the front until getting stopped by another light. It was awesome to be able to hang onto the "sprinters" in that section.

Overall, we only averaged 16.6 mph moving speed for the ride. The advertised pace is 17-19 so we were right in the area. It was a blast to be up towards the front for the entire ride and do my turn pulling into the wind. It was also nice having some left in the tank after 28 miles to be able to let it rip and stay with the other people that were pushing hard. All in all.....I felt like one of the stronger riders in the group. I did my pull, I smashed a hill, I sprinted. Where my heart loves the dirt, just riding a bike is fun!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back in the dirt!

Seems like it has been forever since I have ridden singletrack. It has been weeks, because I have been doing long base building rides for the 2...yes two, centuries I have coming up. I found a small hole in the schedule and headed to Fort Custer with Dan to pre-ride the Time Trial route. I was up and out the door in about 20 minutes and headed to the trailhead.

8am. Arrivial. Unloaded and headed out. It was cool out still, but not cold enough for a base layer, and once we got going it warmed right up. The time trial is the best of the red and green trails. Not really being 100% sure what the route will be we just winged it. The first section went off without a hitch. I was feeling awkward on the Epic for a mile or so but then I got settled back in. It takes a little more effort to turn this bike than the Defy! We were holding just a steady pace and made the turn towards the trailhead on the two track. Our plan was to ride the crazy beaver and then the amusement park backwards (as the previous years always do). We only hit some minor traffic and worked our way backwards through the amusement park. This section seems to flow better this way.....but it was a ton of fun. Out of the park and hang a left to the green.

The switchback has had a lot of work done to it and I cleared it with major effort, but minimal issues. The rest of the green was going pretty good and I was just cruising my speed, taking in tips on how to attack certain areas of the trail from Dan. It was fun to have him say "hammer this hill" or "stay right and go" and be able to clear stuff that I generally struggle a little with. We shot out across the road and back to the trailhead. Time, know I won't tell you that....but I am getting faster....that is for sure!

Then we reloaded the bottles and headed out for a red to blue to red combo. I was still feeling pretty good at the end...even though Dan destroyed me yet again. I was impressed with how I felt. He headed to work and I headed to Meg's recital more confident about the TT on the 10th. As of this post only 2 are in my I am guaranteed 2nd...because I doubt I will beat Dan!

Hopefully I can continue some base miles and build my endurance...while continuing to lose the weight. Feeling good. Ready for some fun on Sunday. Ready for a foreign country in 14 days! oh yeah!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


This past few weeks has been crazy. Looking ahead, I am not sure when it will slow down. From dance recitals to graduation parties and to-do lists our schedule is jam packed as usual...and I like it that way. Keeping busy keeps me from sitting on my ass and packing pounds back on. I do have to be careful though, because being on the run means more fast food as well. Thankfully Subway type food is everywhere that FatDonalds and Fat King are located. So....keeping in check....weight needs to continue to fall off.

Just a few things going on in the near future. First.....Custer's Revenge, which has been renamed from the Custer TT this year. Two years ago this was the first place I got a medal, and now I would love to say the same for Sport. I guess we will see what happens, but with the base miles I have been putting in I should do way better than last year as far as time am lighter on the pedals! The day before this race I have my Niece/oldest daughters' graduation I need to be careful what I eat! Big day for her! Celebration!

The week after that is really going to be fun. I have a day to spend with my kids and hopefully my Dad on Father's day and I turn a year older as well. Then, my beautiful wife and I will be flying to the Dominican Republic for a few days! (did I mention it was for free?) When we get back we go to a wedding on Saturday. Then, back on the bike to burn off the vacation calories at the Allegrina 100. This week will be fun!

After that, and whatever else we find to do. July has me slated for the Boyne Marathon and the Holland 100. Come on out and join us....I will be racking up the miles....and hopefully losing some weight.

One side note that cannot be lost in all of this: My son had a friend over and he was talking about doing a triathlon. He asked if he could borrow a bike and said that he misses riding. Right away my son perked up. After some discussion I asked my son if he would be more interested in riding if he had a friend going along and his response was an enthusastic "YES". So, hopefully I can get him riding more and loan his friend my old bike to ride. I would love to get these boys riding/racing and start up a MiSCA club or have a team at their school. How cool would that be!

Anyway, keep the rubber side down!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Goodbye....old friend

What a weekend!  We were super busy, but it was a lot of fun too! We started off Saturday with a garage sale that never really started because of the rain. Then we headed home and had another family graduation party for Sarah. So proud of that kid! Then, a cycling related thing. I helped my nephew regain some confidence and climb back onto a bike. He is 10 and using "fear" to ride a scooter instead of a bike. I worked with him for 10 minutes and he was riding up and down the sidewalk again. Awesome!!! He even was riding with his Dad on Monday so we got another kids on 2 wheels!!!! Way to go IAN!!!!!

Back to Sunday, this was the day that marked another accomplishment for me. Dan, Jay, and Bill showed up to the Kal-Haven trailhead for a long morning. The plan....ride from Kalamazoo to South Haven....have some food and ride back. The morning was perfect weather and I brought my Defy. Dan hooked me up with some 700x30 CX tires that clear the frame and off we went. The ride over was fairly uneventful. We talked and just cruised all the way to South Haven. 35 miles to the pier and we were at the lighthouse. Rested for a minute and then headed back to the trailhead. Quick rest stop, water bottles filled, and off we went for the journey back.

As expected, Bill drove the pace and Dan held his wheel. Jay and I just rode a decent pace back. We got to Bloomingdale and stopped for a snack. With 16 miles to was getting hot and I was running out of gas so the break was needed. Then we were off again, huge thanks to Jay for letting me pull his wheel. He would have left me if I couldn't draft....but it was still a struggle. With a few miles to we stopped again. Quick stretch and back on....the miles were adding up...and so was the time....I was ready to be off the bike.

Finally I see the trail head and I reach the truck with 72.9 miles on my Garmin. It was an awesome day, a huge accomplishment. Longest ride of the year, and the first time I have completed that trail. Did see one snake, another huge black one that gave me an adrenaline boost for a while.....but only a minute. Good friends, good ride....sore legs!

Now, for the title. I finally, a weight goal. That elusive set of numbers....the 230's. I am there, finally after so many years of trying and failing and giving up and trying again....I am there. But, the journey is not done....and there will another post about it.....but a huge step was taken.....and I am taking those steps in the right direction!