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!