Thursday, May 31, 2012

Randomness

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 goes....plus....I am lighter on the pedals! The day before this race I have my Niece/oldest daughters' graduation party....so 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, well....dance 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 go.....it 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, finally.....got 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!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nothing to fear

.....yet I still seem to fear it. I am at the point yet again where I am staring a milestone right in the eye. I have been here before, in this exact spot, at least three times in the past two years. Something always seems to make me walk to the ledge.....get ready to jump....and turn around.

Fear?

Of what?

The unknown?

not really....I was here once before.....without really noticing. This time is different though....while it is the same path....it is completely in the opposite direction. Anyone that has read this blog for a short period of time knows that I have struggled with weight. Before my oldest daughter was born I was 190 pounds and fit. I was playing basketball 3-4 days a week and doing Tae-Bo on the other days. Say what you will....it works....it worked good. Then I broke my foot....and I shot from 190 to 217 in a matter of months. After that, started working in Indiana and shot all the way up to 250. Then, I stopped caring and shot up to 272 before I said enough was enough. I started the same struggle that any person trying to lose weight starts.....making changes...eating better....ect.

It has been a roller coaster for 3 years now. I dropped to 240, back to 250, back to 240, up to 260, back into the 240's and up again to nearly 270. Stop. This crap has to stop. So, Chelle and I started something different and it works, but I am own worst enemy. I lose 4 one week...gain 1 back the next. It has been more positive than negative, but until I eat right every day.....it will continue the way it has been.

But....progress is still being made. I am trending downward....back again to the cliff that is 240. I am looking for the edge........standing there....ready to jump. What is there to be afraid of? I have only been in the 230's once since I started the loss journey. It ended quickly with my weight shooting back up to 250.

Enough is enough. I am going to jump. Right now. On Monday my weight will start with 23 instead of 24 and I will do my best to never look back. Another hurdle. Another goal. Another step in the right direction. So I have nothing to fear.....and here we go....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Assert your domination

How many times have you heard this saying. Or something close to it such as "imposing your will".....anyone? Well, an alpha male will always assert his dominance. As cyclists, to active dominance is to be "King of the Mountain" or be wearing the Yellow Jersey. You are seen as a dominant person, and must defend your position with more dominance. That brings me to today's ride....

I did not want to get out of bed today....but I really needed to ride. I haven't been on the bike since last Sunday and I have missed some opportunities to ride....which then makes it easier to just say "piss on it" and find something else to do. I was up about 6:30 and out of the house at 7:15. Bill showed up and right away I knew I was going to have to work hard to keep up. Off we went.

Lots of wildlife out there today on the Kal-Haven trail. We saw a raven just over the trees, Dan had a near miss with a raccoon, chipmunks everywhere, and a snake. Dan hit it first, I hopped over it and Bill got it again. Huge snake stretched out across the trail.....yuk. I hate snakes and seeing one with teeth bared ready to strike did not make it any easier. It was a nice boost of adrenaline though.

The ride was going pretty good. We were in a pace line and I was doing my best to hold onto their wheels. The time came when it was time to figure out distance. We were 20 miles out and I felt like I could keep going but we stopped at Lake Eleven and then turned back. We were holding a decent pace but I was running out of steam. We got to about 30 miles and I couldn't hang anymore. Slowly the gaps started to form and I was by myself again. Being Kal-Haven I have no desire for these guys to wait.....I know where I am going. So, slowly they disappeared. This is when I started to think about asserting dominance.

I was riding solo....plugging away and pleading my legs for any power they had left in them. Dan, once again showed me that he is the dominant rider between us, but not in a bad way. He simply says "when I smell the finish area I need to go fast and get off my bike". It made me think more about what I am dominant with.

I am dominant in the fact that I don't quit. I may be the last person to get back to the car. I may be the weakest link.....but I still try. Is trying my dominant feature? I suppose so. I guarantee I tried harder today than the other guys did.......just to hold onto the wheel. I asserted my dominance........how about you?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Half Century #1

It was a super busy weekend, but it was a lot of fun too. I managed to sneak out Friday evening for a quick 18 mile ride and then have some dinner with Zack. We ate and relaxed the rest of the night. Saturday, up early for soccer at 9. Left soccer to head to dance recital rehearsal with Megan and Sarah. I was helping out Chelle by taking a few group pics because she was in Kalamazoo making me MONEY! haha. Left there and headed home where we loaded up everyone and went to see The Avengers. Great movie, but I need to see it again because I missed some parts. Poor Izzy actually got motion sickness from the 3D. Back home and to bed so I could ride Sunday morning.

Up later than planned and Dan got to my house a little after 7. I planned his birthday ride mileage nearly perfectly. We got on the bikes and headed out towards Lake Michigan. The roads are all pretty amazing around where I live. They don't see much semi-traffic and have hardly any salt deterioration. I knew Dan was wanting to push the pace so I tried as hard as I could to hold on. He would ride ahead and then I would catch up. We did this for quite a while. We were making really good time to the lake, over US31 and we headed south towards South Haven. The route I take turns back towards Pullman and is nearly a straight shot back to my house.

We made the turn away from the lake and found a headwind. I have seen this more and more in recent years where the wind actually blows towards the lake. It slowed us down, but we just kept plugging away at the miles. Thankfully Dan had an extra cliff shot and a gu for me as I was running low on fuel. I popped them and felt a lot better, but my legs were still trying to slow down. Shut up legs......I kept telling myself that. The wind was disagreeing but I plodded along. Finally we were about 7 mile from home and turned to the ugliest road on the ride. Only about a mile, but just nasty with bumps, loose black top, holes, and dips. Got through there safe enough, then took the road towards home. Finished with an average speed right at 17 mph. Without the wind I am sure we would have been closer to 18, but maybe not because of the lack of energy. 52.8 miles for Dan's birthday ride.

I got to thinking yesterday after that ride. How many people do you know that are roughly 60 pounds overweight that will get on a bike and ride that far? How many overweight people do you know that gripe about their weight yet never get off their ass to do anything about it? I got tired of complaining. Instead, I started a different kind of diet (replacement shakes) that had yielded a 7 pound weight loss in 2 weeks. I am about to break into the unfamiliar 230's and see what this range of weight has to offer. Take that step. Get off your ass and walk around the block. Ride around the block. Find motivators. Find a training buddy. Just move your ass......or quit bitching.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lead the pack

I know this blog is titled Singletrack Chronicles, but I am a cyclist. I ride on the road, in the dirt, on everything from pavement to peat gravel, in the rain, and in the snow. The point of this blog is to chronicle my riding...as well as my weight loss. Ride first....the weight loss will come.....right?

I have for the past two weeks joined Velo City for their Tuesday night group ride. They have four groups and this week my friend Chris was leading the C group. Advertised pace was 17-20. The first two groups headed out and I rolled up to talk to Chris for a minute. Little did I know at this point was that I would end up leading the group with Chris for the first half of the ride. It was nice to be at the front and not holding on for dear life. We rode a solid pace out of Holland and eventually turned East to ride with the wind. Before I knew it we were at the longest climb of the ride. It seemed like the pace picked up, but I was just getting picked off one rider at a time on this climb. I honestly am rather tired of this scenario.....but hills are my weakness. I was not the last one to the top, but there were not very many of the 25 in our group behind me. Still....moral victory of sorts for me....not being the weakest link. At this point we were about 15 miles in. I was done leading and dropped back into the group.

What a change of pace that was. I went from leading to just dropping in and the rest of the ride was very enjoyable. The group has a very wide range of riders. Some strong. Some new to group road riding, such as myself. I tucked into the middle and every now and then the group would fracture some. People would move up, fall back, move up again. An interesting dynamic for sure. I just held my pace and would fall in line behind whomever was there. We made the final turn back towards the shop and arrived shortly thereafter. Good ride. 29 solid miles. 15 were more difficult, 14 were easier. It made me more confident about moving back up to the B group for next weeks ride. The speed is higher and I surely won't be on the front, but I can still hang with them. Major booster.

The next few weeks will be busy with holidays and an ever growing to-do list. I will update when I can, but it might be rather boring here for a few. That being said, weight loss is still a primary factor here. I started to do meal replacement shakes with my lovely wife so we can look good for our trip to Punta Cana in mid -June. They work, the problem last week was still me. I lost 4.5 pounds the first week. Gained .75 back the second. I know it was from not eating right and eating WAAAAY too much. I had a bad Wed-Friday. Got my focus back on Saturday and ate less on Sunday. So far this week I am down 2.5 pounds so clearly if I stay on track I will lose the weight and be skinnier for the trip. Marathon, not a sprint. I will get there. I am on my way. The closest milestone is breaking into the 230's. Haven't been there for years....and it is time.

Like I said....I will get there.....one pedal stroke at a time.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fort Custer Stampede 2012

I have said all along that this year would be different. It was....I managed to get warmed up and line up at the start line with no issues. But....lets start at the beginning.

We left the house late because I was waffling (mmmm waffles) about whether to go or just stay home. It was a hectic week but Chelle talked me into going knowing the whole family would have fun. We loaded up the Suburban and our sweet new rack with bikes...off we went. We got there about 10:45 but thankfully the kids race was postponed by 30 minutes so we managed to get the girls registered and to the start free of issues. I pushed Zoe around for her lap and then helped Izzy for her lap. Can't wait for these two to get real mountain bikes so I don't have to push!

The team was lingering around and we were talking about how nice the weather was. I ran into some of my other friends and eventually headed out to warm up with Eric from TMI. We did about a 15 minute easy spin and then headed to the start where the waves were lining up. Nerves of steel....I was shaking like a leaf for some reason. I had Dan to my left and Dave was on the other side of him. Knowing the start would be intense I held back and let the group go, dropping in behind Dave and Dan was right behind me. He was going to pace me for a while and then take off on his own.
The only time I ever lead against Dan...and it was the start!
 The start was quicker than I thought it would be but I had Dave (my main rival) right in my sights. A guy slowed on a hill and I attacked it with Dan right behind me. We kept going with a few guys behind us until the first climb. A short loose gravel climb. Just tough enough to separate the group. I made it to the top and let Dan take off. Knowing Dave was behind me kept me going hard....too hard in fact. I reached Granny's Garden and had to get off and walk up a hill.....legs were feeling blown because my heart rate was sky high. Dave caught me, asked if I was okay and continued on. I got settled back down and worked my way through the garden. I managed to catch a wheel coming out of that section after sipping some water from the Boy Scouts. It was Dave leading, another Clyde, and myself. The pace was good for me because I was able to get my HR balanced and draft some to regain my legs. We came into a corner hot and Dave went down. I asked if he was okay, he was, and I told him he better grab back on, but we were not waiting. Once I got the 2 track I passed the other guy and never saw them again. The rest of the lap went pretty well, I was pacing myself so I could still turn out a decent second lap. I crossed the line in 51:12, only 12 seconds slower than my fastest Stampede lap ever in Beginner Clyde. On track I thought as I passed the lake.


Lap 1....1 to go!
Feeling confident about my first lap I held the pace I was at, knowing full well where I would start to burn the matches. The groups were very spread out and I never really found anyone to ride with. I would get passed, pass a few people, get passed some more. Back into Granny's Garden we go, made the initial climb this time, made the second climb (which has been a while) and was on my way up the third with the right speed and gear when the guy in front of me went down. About 10 people passed before I was able to get back on and go, but no sign of Dave or the other guy I passed so I was comfortable. Once I passed the boy scouts again I opened it up a little. Flats are my savior. I pushed the pace until I reached the technical section again and the paced slowed some. Then I reached the cutoff to back to the Red course and I flew up the hill only getting passed once. On the first lap I had seen Brian and yelled that I was going to catch him....but never did. ha. I made to where the red opens up back towards the trail head and took a minute to catch my breath and get a solid drink before the final section. Glad I did too.....because it was enough to get me past the last climb on the blue before I had to grab the bottle again.

I pushed up the last climb faster than expected. When I reached the top I pushed hard again knowing I had about a mile to go. Surprisingly, I caught a few people on this last stretch, but I was pushing as hard as I could. I still felt slow, but was holding a pretty fast speed. Last stretch.....matches burned out. I pushed across the finish line in 1:43:01. My laps were within 30 seconds of each other and my strategy had paid off. I put down two consitent and solid laps for myself. It was a fun day and a fun race, as usual. My team had a pretty good showing. A bunch of them on the podium!

So, we move on to the next race, event, whatever. I was proud of what I did in my first Sport XC race. The funny thing was I felt pretty good. We stopped at my in-laws on the way home. They have 3 steps from their kitchen into the living room. I nearly collapsed in a pile of Sean when I walked down them. My legs gave me the firm reminder that I did indeed do some work Sunday!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What a noob.....

I was thrust into a position that I have not been in for a while....that of a noobie. For those that read that do not know, a noobie is a person new to a sport. A rookie, green behind the ears kind of person. I am not new to cycling, but I am fairly new to the road cycling thing. Not riding on the road so much as actually riding in a group.....or peloton! haha. I rode in peloton! Lets start from the beginning....

Geographically speaking I am an outsider when it comes to my team. My team is nestled in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo for the most part but I live northwest in Allegan and work even farther northwest in Holland. Not really easy to drive an hour and fifteen minutes to join a group for a ride. Knowing there are many amazing shops in Holland I started looking for a group ride and my friend Chris works at Velo City where he sometimes leads a ride on Tuesdays. He invited me to join and Tuesday is actually the best night of the week for me to get away for some miles. I head about 10 minutes up the road and I arrive at the shop.

They have four groups of varying speeds. The fast guys are riding 40 miles. Smaller group, but not the one I choose. Medium pace, roughly 30 miles at a good clip, Medium slow pace...same route only slower, and then the easy rider pace. Chris was co-leading the medium pace group so I joined in, hoping to not get dropped. He promised I wouldn't get left behind so I was confident I could hang on.

Off we went. My first sign of "this is different" was the acceleration. Wow, boom off the front the group would go and I was trying to hold onto a wheel and would eventually catch back up and hold the pace easily enough. It was the accelerations from the stops that would cause me distress, but I learned quickly that I just need to blast right away too. This is one of my weaknesses so I was already getting worked. The pace was cool though. I was riding where I thought was the middle of the pack only to be surprised that I was last. Hmm, I am holding on okay, but I had no idea I was that close to getting dumped out the back. Eventually I did get dumped.

There is a climb that is about 3/4 of a mile or so and the group held its pace. I saw Chris and the the other leader Jeremy falling off the back of the group as well and I paced until they created separation as well. Climbing is my major weakness so I wasn't surprised, but I was surprised by the other two falling back. The group hit the top and disappeared around the corner....leaving the three of us on an island. No way to bridge and no way to hold the pace we fell into a comfortable rhythm and rode the rest of the route together. 

We made it back. Solid ride. Legs were sore Wednesday, even though I wheel sucked for 29 miles. It was fun to ride with a different group and learn techniques such as positioning, braking, cornering, and fractures. Next week will be no different I am sure. Chris will be leading the medium/slow group so I am sure it will stay together better. All I know is that I am a cyclist......and I just wanna ride.

Custer Stampede in a few days!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pre-race planning

I have found myself in an unfamiliar position.  I actually need to develop a plan of attack for Sunday. Sure, in the past I have had some sort of strategy. Such as "don't die" or "ride hard" but that was last year. It worked some times, not so much other times. It worked more times than not because I was racing beginner and on one lap not a lot of things can go wrong. You go out hard, ride as fast as you can for 8-9 miles and you are done.

The Fort Custer Stampede is Sunday. Love the event, love the course, love the friends and family. Last year was nasty because I flatted on my warmup and missed my start. I started almost 3 minutes behind and still managed to take 5th. I took off and just rode hard because it was one lap. This year, I have to do 2 laps. I know the course is about 9.5 miles long....so 2 laps is only 19 miles. I can ride that far no problem. I have raced that far on numerous occasions. Barry Roubaix, Iceman, and Ore to Shore are all over 27 miles long. The problem is....at Barry Roubaix this year I hit a wall at around 16 miles. I started hard and had to just cruise home to the finish. This is where strategy comes in.

Do I start fast and fizzle.....or start medium and torch the finish. Because I know the course, and because I know I cannot compete for a podium finish....I have to ride my own race. I will start quick because I always do, but then I will settle into a pace and just ride it. Knowing the course will be key for me at this race. I know when I can let it rip and burn a few matches towards the end. Hopefully I can pick off a person or two in my class. My main goal is to have consistent laps. I would like for them to be within 2 minutes of each other. I have a time in mind too....but as the 3 of you who actually read this know....I am not going to say what that goal will be. Secret. I just don't want to finish last...and on my second home course of the year I should be able to move a bit higher up the list. Come on out and ride an awesome course and have some fun!


On the weight loss frontier: Things were holding steady for a few weeks. I would drop and then gain and then hold the same and hold the same. I started a new trend and lost 4.5 pounds last week to put me at 245.25. This is the lowest I have been this year and has put my mind in the right place to push into the 230's hopefully in the next two weeks. Feeling good. Keeping busy. Keeping my mind right.

Hope you guys are doing good too! See some of you soon!