Monday, December 30, 2013

A specific set of skills

...I don't know who you are...
...but I do know what you want...
...you want to beat me in a race...
...I can tell you that your chances are good...
...but I can also tell you that I have very specific set of skills...
...skills I have developed over many years of riding...
...a set of skills that will make me a nightmare for people like you...
...if you let me win now...that will be the end of it...
...I will not race with you...
...I will not pursue you...
...but if you don't...I will look for you...
...I will find you...
...and I will race you...
...and I will beat you...



I have been watching some videos that I recorded with my GoPro this year. I rode with a pretty diverse group of riders over this last year. The video I was recently watching made me smile. The rider in front of me crashed in the first 45 seconds of the movie. The rider also dabbed twice in the first 3 minutes. This trail was not technical...the rider just lacked skill. I have been told in the past few years that I have a solid skill set when it comes to riding. I even managed to transform those skills to the road. 

I did some group road rides with Velo City out of Holland. One day after the ride we were talking about the skill level of the group. They made reference to one rider in particular and I started asking questions because I wanted to make sure I wasn't "that guy". I was reassured that indeed was not "that guy" and that I was one of the people they didn't worry about in the peloton. Amazing to me to think that in my first few rides I had already gained the trust of other riders. That trust to me seems like it would take longer to build than a few rides. 

A few years ago at the State Games I met Brianna during the race. We rode together to keep each other company because we were both miserable. She made the comment on our very first ride that I had solid handling skills. Later this year we were on a group mountain bike ride with riders I trust and one guy we had never ridden with. He kept saying "watch out!" when we would fly around a corner or take a section faster than he was used to riding. He made the comments later that he was "amazed by the skill of the group"...and I am just a sport rider. So...my confidence in my handling skills is not the issue...

...my weight is the problem. I am working on that. I am a confident 260 pound rider. I know how much faster I can be at 240 pounds. I can only use my imagination to determine how fast I will be at 200 pounds, or even 190 pounds. I have the winter to drop as much as I can before my first race. Developing my handling skills even more the lighter I get. I will be dangerous on my bike...and there will be a long list of people that will see my specific set of skills....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas....or happy holidays...whichever you prefer

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays. Doesn't matter to me which one you say....just find some cheer! I did. We had a blast over this past week. It started with a Christmas party Saturday. Lots of good food and fun family. Then Sunday it was a mad scramble as our next party got moved to our house due to a power outage at my in-laws (which was restored yesterday!). We scrambled because our house is always destroyed...hahaha. Then more food and an early night as everyone went their own ways.

Back to work for a day and a half then a prime rib luncheon with my employer. Get home, loud up, head to indiana. Hang out with more awesome family. Head home. Put our santa pants on and get to bed around 2am. Up around 8:30. presents, get dressed...off to Indiana again...just a different family!!!

Got home around 11 and slept thru my alarm. awesome. There are only 3 of the normal 8 people in the office today so it is super quiet. I hope to sneak out early and enjoy more family time this evening.

So...what did I eat.....well....lots. Too much. After the luncheon we had a full blown dinner. I was miserable until we ate again the next day....after skipping breakfast. Just another learning opportunity...which I put into effect yesterday.....not eating nearly as much. I did have a bowl of white chili around 7 and it was enough to remind me that I was still full.

So...back to the grind.....I have survived the first rush of the holidays and just need to make it past new years day without exploding. Should be good. I am still full from Tuesday.

Going to spin off some calories tonight!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Weekly update

First things first.....this weather has been crazy...even for SW Michigan. It snowed all week and today it was 40...then it is going to be freezing rain tonight with winter storm warnings north of us. Still..I am hiding indoors.

I have done a few trainer rides mixed in with Focus T25. The last few days my feet and knees started to get sore so I just stuck to the trainer. Good news....body is feeling better and my mood is really good. Long time until the first race...but it happens quick.

Weight...well....I gained last week but I am hoping for a loss this week.

Might add the Lowell 50 into my season too. Just have to see how the cards fall.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A look ahead

I have been on the trainer twice in the last week. Also did a few workouts on the Focus T25 program. I am doing ok....plugging away. This journey is a marathon and I have taken a few steps....but I have a lot more to go. I have a lot of work to do and I going to do it.

That being said.....next year I don't know what I want to do. I am planning a trip to Georgia for a few days to get some solid climbing and training in. This trip will be early in March. Head down for a few days....ride like hell....head home.

The season...well....as usual in Southwest Michigan it starts in the end of March. The Barry Roubaix is the first race of season. It is a 36 miles gravel road race. Huge party. Awesome way to kick off the season. Last year, I didn't finish. Out of shape.

A few shorts weeks after the MMBA CPS starts at Yankee Springs. Always a fun race and close to home on a course I know very well means I need to have a good showing. Last year I wasn't in the right frame of mind to race....and skipped for the first time in 3 years. Won't happen again.

After that......there are a few races I want to look into. One is a road race called Fisk Knob TT. A roughly 15 mile Full out ride on my Defy. A road bike? wha wha? I would just like to give it a whirl and use it as a training race.

Some others are The Keweenaw Chain Drive and Ore 2 Shore as well as that one in November that I can't think of right now. Hopefully I will be competing and actually having a chance this year!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fort Custer ride

It was last weekend but I did manage to get out and ride. I missed the Turkey burner ride but after a stressful Friday I had to get out and ride on Saturday. Dan S. was there when I got there and rode with me for a few minutes before heading to the shop.

First ride in a while....but I was feeling alright. I knew it was going to be a slow ride and I was already prepared mentally for it. Temps were in the high 20's when I started. It is amazing to me how different the trails look with a little bit of snow and no leaves. The trails were frozen and fast....eh....felt fast....eh.....it felt good to be riding. I rode the entire red loop and then headed out on the red again. I was going to hit the Blue but missed a turn and went back to the red. I then headed down the green backwards.

This is what makes me smile about riding my bike. I know the green trail very well but riding it backwards is so much fun. I was keeping my head up and watching for riders riding the "correct" way down the trail. And that is when it happened. I saw a guy coming....so I bailed off the trail to the right to get out of his way. He nearly crashed bailing out the other direction...but didn't lose any momentum and he kept going. I hear "wrong way" in a quiet voice so I yelled "WHAT?!?!?!" and he says it louder "wrong way dude". I responded "I know" and muttered some other things under my breath. I gave him room because I was going the wrong way and i appreciate him telling me that I was going the wrong way, but he said it in a way that pissed me off a little. Last year we were riding out there and heard a group of 4 western students talking up ahead of us. As we flew around the corner they all scrambled to get off the trail. We slowed down and I politely told them "you guys are actually going the wrong way, so keep your eyes peeled for riders" and they had no idea they were going the wrong way. It happens. Anyway, the ride was pretty good. I mustered 15 miles and I felt really good.

Now....I am going to start something a little different tomorrow. I am going to post a short blog every day about how my exercise/weight loss/training is going. It will be full disclosure. I have a chip on my shoulder....and have more drive and desire than I have had in a while. That being said....it wasn't enough to get me out in the cold air today. I will hit the trainer tonight.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Find a reason

It was brought up the other day....why do you workout? I had to think about it. I have a long list of reasons why...

1. Family
2. Health
3. to be fit
4. to be fast on my bike
5. lots of things more


But as I was driving home last night in a quiet truck I go to thinking about it even more. My why is very important....I want to be a good role model for my children and it trickles down from there. Over the past few years I have had a ton of encouragement towards my goals but I have had little success. The only person I have to blame is myself. I find the excuses. I fail. I get up....I start again. I fail. Maybe my motivation isn't where needs to be....maybe I need to find that one reason that will drive me to be what I am capable of. Maybe I need that drive from an outside force......do you know what that is?

Someone telling me I can't.

Now, I have not had anyone tell me that directly.....I surround myself with people that want me to be better. My friends are awesome. All encouragement. Stop with the negative. 

I got to thinking about it last night....and why people haven't straight up told me I can't.....there are people that don't believe I can. I was cut out. People that used to give me encouragement and listen when I would vent straight up to a few of these people. And now I don't hear anything from them. So should I do it for them?

I say no.....I will never do something to prove someone wrong. I will do it for myself and another side benefit besides being fit will be having the ability to prove them wrong. I have been struggling lately....for the past year. Everyone has their own struggles and I won't compare mine to yours and you shouldn't compare yours to mine. My life is mine. It has different struggles than yours. So here is what I am going to do...

1. Stay positive (hard to do....but keep working on it)
2. Eat better. Cut way back and eat better foods.
3. Exercise more. Always an excuse.....eliminate them.
4. Do it for myself first.
5. Do it now.

Yet again I feel like I am starting over. I WILL DO what I need to do this winter to be ready for the spring. Lets go.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Inner dialogue

I noticed on Sunday that I have different inner dialogues when I am riding depending on the situation. I noticed it switching when I went from following to leading. I also know what it was like when I was suffering....which is different than when I was racing. Here are a few categories and what goes through my mind.

Following: Gotta hold his wheel. If he gets too far ahead and creates a gap it could be hard to catch back up. Shoot, there is a gap. I am ok, keep breathing. I know he is going to crack soon....he hasn't been riding much....crud...neither have I. Its ok, close the gap on this descent. Push hard, lean into the corner, relax....breathe. Closed the gap. Love this section. Used to go the other way. That means there is a steep climb coming. There it is....ugh. crap. There he goes again...wait...he stopped too. Lets skip this section and I hear "which way"....RIGHT.....good, this new bypass is cool and we still get some extra distance. I am feeling pretty good for not riding in a few weeks. Opening...pass him....

Leading: Just took the lead, its time to see what he has left in the tank. I wonder if this pace is too fast. I feel like I need to ride faster because I am leading. Dang, I can see way better with nobody in front of me. I love this area, I can stretch my legs out. Am I going fast enough....did I drop him.....no....should I go faster.....nah.....I am still feeling ok....don't want to push it......where did he go....should I look....nope...I can hear him....right on my wheel....maybe I should push a bit more....but if I do my legs will get fried and he will pass me again.....oops....there he goes anyway....I would rather follow him.


Racing to win: 6 of us today. I know I am a bit faster than him. Don't know him. I know I can crush him. Here we go. GO.....pace...pace....pace.....am I in last? Can't be.....must only be 1 guy behind me though....those guys are going out of sight....gotta keep up.....pace....pace. If I crush this hill I can recover on the flats....but I have to go fast on the flats...its all I got. Go go go. Pace this hill.....I see a guy....holy shit where did those 3 come from....hopefully they slow him down so I can catch him. Next hill....I got you. I got you....keep going. First lap done, not a bad time...right on pace. Must be in 4th. Go, at least one more guy has to be running out of steam. 4 miles to go...haven't caught him yet. Time to let it rip.....with whatever I have left. Keep breathing. Last downhill....go hard....people.....ON YOUR LEFT.....go....was that guy in my class....go go.....last corner....finish line.....


Racing to finish: last lap....do I even want to do it.....it is only 11 miles but holy shit is there a lot of climbing. just keep going....you are already in last. move over let this guy pass. yeah dude, sometimes I am the nail....dick.....even though he is right. blech, this blows. Why the hell am I doing this race? where did everyone go.....good job man....shit...that guy is on his last lap...of 4.....I am only halfway around my second. just cruise. enjoy this strange trail....you never get to ride it unless you are racing....right....i drove 3 hours to do this....hahahahahaha....i am crazy. mountain bikers are a different breed for sure. How many more? 4.....really.....all downhill....yeah I heard that before up at ore to shore....maybe I should do that again....but I have to be in better shape.....suffering like this in a race is no fun. Finally a downhill.....oh...to the finish.....let go.....whoooooo...SHIT!!!!!! Hope these woodchips are levellllllllllllllll.....ok, back on pavement....take a deep breath.....go.....last corner.....where the hell.....what....another mile....you are kidding......this is stupid.....finish line....done....ok then. I won't be back.....or will I....


Suffering: This sucks. If I have to ride one more freaking hill...ugh....its right there. I can hardly breathe. Why am I out here? Ugh....breathe......slow your breathing. I need to tell these guys I am bailing out. It was dumb to think I could make a lap out here.....I was feeling fine...but man I cannot breathe. Ugh. I like this section....but crud there is a long climb.....slow down man....you will never make it unless you get your heart rate and breathing under control. Ok....just spin. These hills are awful....need to lose some weight. It would help with climbing and breathing. Another hill. I don't remember that one. Are my tires flat? Was that a stick in my wheel? Wow, is it sandy. Must be dragging an anchor....nope...just my ass. 1 mile to go. Glad the guys talked me into continuing....but it still sucked. getting closer. these hills would be faster if I could breathe. There is the road....finally. 


I love riding my bike.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

For myself

I was caught off guard about a month ago when a friend said "so you just ditch your family and go ride your bike? I mean, it seems like you are gone for a long time"  

The cord was certainly struck. So much so that I asked Chelle if she felt like I was neglecting my kids in search of better health. She reassured me that I am usually only gone for an hour and that taking time for my health is important....but the question remained stuck in my head.

First off....I don't ditch my family. Over this summer I was riding a 18 mile loop on the road and I would leave right from my house. Total time gone was around an hour. I would vary the course but in general my rides were never over 75 minutes. I didn't want to be gone that long due to our schedule and that was enough saddle time a few days a week. Also, I would take my son and even my 9 year old out for rides. I would cut the loop shorter and drop them off and then head out for some more mileage.

Second, I spend a lot of time with my kids. With 4 kids it is not uncommon to be separated a lot. Two girls in dance, one in drivers ed, one is soccer and volleyball, doctors appointments, physical therapy and whatever else is needed. Add in cooking dinner, helping with homework, trying to keep up with laundry and some sense of the house being clean....and our days are full.

Third, who the fuck are you to question if I am ditching my kids or family? You really don't know anything about our family life...as you have 2 kids under the age of 5 and are not running all over the place like we are. But, I will not compare my life to yours.....we work out or schedule the same way you work out yours. We make the time and do what we need to do. I don't really appreciate you putting the thought in my head that I am doing something wrong...because I am doing something for myself. If my heart stopped while eating a bag of chips while sitting on the couch because I weighed 400 pounds and I died....how would that be helpful to my family? I work my ass off to support my kids. My wife works her ass off to build her business and help support our family. Our schedule works. Sure, we are busy as hell...but if I don't take a chunk of time here and there to focus on my mental well being I will end up a bigger mess than I already am.

When I do something for myself that is exactly the reason I do it....for myself. If a plane is crashing the instructions are to put your mask on first....then help. Why? Well, if you can't breathe and pass out you are no good to anybody. Put your mask on first, you never know how many people you can help....especially ones that cannot help themselves. But, in doing what I do....in being who I am...I do all this for myself first....knowing that the outcome will be more beneficial to my wife and kids. Walking around pissed off at the world doesn't help anyone. It makes me more miserable and everyone around me more miserable.

Lastly, I don't need any single person's approval. I don't do this for you. I could care less what you do. It is your life, make your own decisions. I live my life and make my own decisions. If I wanted your approval I would ask for it. You don't pay my bills. You don't pay my wages. You are just a judgmental prick that is trying to make yourself feel better by trying to take away from what I do. In case you missed it....my kids followed me around the entire time. The comments I heard were "your kids adore you" and "your kids give you no space" which I a sure could be twisted into "if you spent more time with them maybe they wouldn't follow you around so much".  Think what you want. I would walk through fire for my kids. I have given up more than many people could even imagine so my kids could take trips to Europe and stand on top of Mayan Ruins. Again, I won't compare our family life with that of another....because it is pointless. My life is mine.....yours is yours. Try to live it.




Life without chaos is death......

Monday, November 4, 2013

Not an Iceman

This past weekend was the Iceman Cometh mountain bike race in Northern Lower Michigan. I was not up there....but most of my friends and team were there...representing the colors. I stayed home and headed out to ride on Sunday.

Jeff and I headed to Fort Custer for some mileage. He had not ridden in about 5 weeks and I was right at 2 weeks since I rode at Yankee Springs. We were just happy to be out and riding. The colors right now are so awesome. The oranges and yellows mixed with the greens and browns make the trail look like a different place. The wet leaves on the trail make the trail ride like a different place. Because of the lack of trail time in the last few weeks it took me a while to settle in. After about a mile or so I was feeling pretty good and was comfortable with the conditions.

With temps right around 50 degrees I was in a heavy base layer and thin tights. I am glad too, because I was comfortable the entire ride. The sound of the tires on the leaves was a cross between crunchy and silent. Love riding this time of year! Just have to get out more and do it! The time change means no more riding during the week. That pesky job keeps getting in the way. I just land the winning lottery numbers and quit my job so I can ride all day.

Overall it was an excellent ride. There were quite a few people out riding but we never got passed and never passed anyone. We just cruised around the red loop and took the right hander to the Green loop. I would lead for a bit and then Jeff would lead for a bit. After we finished the Green we headed back out to the Green and then turned off and headed back into the Crazy Beaver loop on the red. Overall about 15 miles of dirt in the fall colors in early November.

On a side note, I won a CycleTek trainer in a drawing from their facebook site. I have it set up and will probably be putting the bike on it this week. I am pretty excited about it....one it was free...and two it gives me another trainer so that Izzy and Zack can spin with me this winter. I will post more on this trainer once I try it out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Keep going....

A lot of friends and teammates are in heavy training for the Iceman in November. These people are heading out and riding the Barry Roubaix course because it offers a lot of climbing. I figured a ride with a friend would be better than nothing so I planned on meeting Dan S. for a shortened loop. Well, he knows I don't "have to" or really "want to" ride Barry so he suggested Yankee instead. Much better!

We met at 10 and I was surprised by how full the parking lot was. Lots of people must have had the same idea, Singletrack is better than anything else...and Yankee is a good place to simulate parts of the course up in Traverse City. J.J. pulled in and off we went for a lap.

First off, this was only my 2nd ride in 3 weeks....so I knew I was going to be hurting...but add in an allergy attack and I was REALLY hurting. I never really have issues with asthma unless my allergies are flaring...and I tell you what....it was hard to breathe. I was ready to bail out....but Dan and J.J. would not let me. They were still riding and having fun in the autumn leaves. I didn't want them to wait for me, but they were going to wait to make sure I did the whole course. Blech.

I finished. I had to walk  the matted climb and one other one, but I just plodded along at my own snail pace. It is good to have people to ride with because they will push you to your limits....which mine was not very high on this day, but I was still pushed. It was slow ride....but still better than riding the couch on a beautiful Sunday morning.


Keep riding...it has been beautiful weather!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eureka moment

As I get older I am starting to be more honest with myself. I broke down and went the doctor this year. If you know me, or any man for that matter, you know I don't like going to the doctor unless I am on the verge of death. So earlier this year when I went voluntarily my wife was rather surprised. At any rate, that step helped me look a bit closer at myself and my trends over the past few years. Here are a two....

1. My weight always drops from January to June and goes back up from September to January.
          (I equate this the seasons. I am way more active in the summer and I start to drop weight in January
            because I know the mountain biking season is coming in April)
2. My mood always gets worse in the fall and into winter. (I know this happens to a lot of people and it has
         an actual name S.A.D. or Seasonal Affected Disorder...which is basically depression brought on by
         lack changes in the weather...mine being the absence of warmth.)

The above reasons are why I went to the doctor. To find a balance. My family made the tough choice to go to a new doctor this year as well. My new doctor told me that he would like to see me drop "a significant" amount of weight. This number is irrelevant at this point, but if you have read this blog at all you have an idea.

Last week I was just blah. Stress from work, family life, lack of exercise have added up to nothing positive. I pulled back. Started to shut down like I always do. My thoughts changed from "make it a good day" to "what is the point in trying". Down the spiral I went. Every year, like clockwork, this happens. So this year I decided to look at why it happens. No solutions, just the reasons. And I know some people might be thinking "oh, here come his excuses again" but that isn't what this post is about....it is about me realizing what the actual problems are. A person cannot reach a solution until the problem has been established.

Reasons

As a father of 4 my schedule generally revolves around my awesome kids. I have a son always wanting to go driving. 2 girls in dance and one in soccer. With dance 4 days a week and soccer practices/games mixed in along with volleyball my time is structured basically the same every week. Now, add in that four kids want help with their homework and another chunk of time is taken away. Did I mention that it gets dark at 7:30 now? I don't really like riding on the road in the daylight...people are just crazy in the dark, but I do have a trainer. And, why not go for a run. Run on the sidewalk....its not like I am fast anyway.

So, my problem is time structure. I work until 5 or 5:30 which means I am getting home around 5:30 or 6. We have dinner.....and sit down to work on homework at 7. Put the little girls in bed at 8:15 and 8:45. Older kids go to bed when they are ready. If I went out the door at 9 pm to run I would be done and out of the shower before 10. Easy. Well, maybe I want to ride. So, jump on the bike by 9 and spin for an hour and be out of the shower and in bed by 10:30.

I am my own worst enemy. I had time to ride 2 weeks ago and didn't take the opportunity because mentally I was starting to spiral. I have been dressed and ready to ride 3 times in the past two weeks and had some unforeseen thing happen to kill the ride. I spiraled because I allowed it to happen. It is up to me to make what I "want" to do fit in with what I "need" to do. One step at a time....I am starting to break down the barriers that have landed me where I am today.....as an athlete trapped in a heavy body. I have to learn that a 1 mile run is better than nothing, or that 45 minutes on the trainer is still a stress reliever.

Now that I know the problem....I am working on the solution. Lets take a ride....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pando XC, Izzys career begins

I decided to try another race and this time I was bringing Izzy along with me. I talked with Fun Promotions and was given the go ahead to ride with her. We loaded up and met Jay, Mark, and Lisa on the way up to Pando Winter Sports Park.
Izzy trying to hide!
We got the numbers on and then it was time for me to go. I left my phone with Izzy, she took some good pics.

There she is!
I have never ridden here, but how bad could it be? The actual ski hill isn't that big....I mean Cannonsburg is bigger. I have ridden at Boyne Mountain. Pando is only 4 miles long....and UPHILL THE WHOLE FREAKING WAY. I am not a climber....not by any means.

Start: Up the face of the ski hill. No problem. I made it. The problem? well, I was gassed. ha. I wasn't the last one up the hill, but it wasn't long before I found myself in last place. I settled myself down and managed to reel one guy back in. At the end of my first lap I saw the next guy popping out of the woods just up the hill. I planned on reeling him in too....but I never saw him again.

Me on 1st lap
This was a cool section. A downhill across the deck and then a hard right before climbing the tubing hill. The hill doesn't look bad, but holy hell do I hate hills. I kept pressing on. At the end of the second lap I knew I was hosed. I got to the top of the hill and just bailed out. I would not have been able to ride 2 more laps and then follow Izzy. Hey, it was fun (not really) while it lasted. HA. I was right around an hour for my 2 laps. Not terrible, but way down the standing. 12 people in my class this year, which I think is a lot. Good to see the big guys coming out to race!


Izzy and I before the start
Next it was time for Izzy. We lined up and I was surprised by the 10 kids in her class. Beginner 10 and Under had TEN RIDERS!!! Brent yelled GO and off the kids went. There was about 5 dads following their kids around too. Izzy did awesome. She didn't make the first climb, but she sure did try.

Izzy on first lap (I got to follow)
Izzy making the turn after the deck. She said later that she would gladly ride the course to this point again so she could ride across it. She even took the little drop off. This kid is a trooper. She was frustrated as the other kids disappeared out of sight but she kept pushing onward. She caught one girl a few miles in, but they passed us shortly after. I was sure to offer only encouragement and it was just a lot of fun to watch her try her best.

 As we came past the start line for the last climb our teammates from Custer Cyclery were there cheering away for Izzy. She didn't want to ride the Ski hill again, but then she asked if she could "bomb down the hill" after the race was done. OF COURSE YOU CAN!  She had to push her bike more than she wanted....but she finished her first ever mountain bike race....of a brutal course.
Izzy after her race!
I want to give a huge shout to my team for cheering her on. You guys made the experience for her even more fun. We could hear you all the way to the top of the hill. I love my team and Izzy certainly loves you guys too!

Speaking of my team. Great job to Lisa P. for taking 1st place in her class. Also great job to Jeff R. and Mark K. on their first races. Good job to Jay and Bill for coming out and taking on this course!

The highlight had to be when we were watching the Beginner podiums. They called the Beginner Women 11-14 and I told Izzy that would be her in a few years. Her response "yep, but I will be wearing this jersey" as she flicked the shoulder on her Custer jersey. LOVIN IT!










Monday, September 16, 2013

Whoops

It has been a while huh?  Well, the last two weeks have not been great. A sinus infection has knocked me down a bit but I am fighting back and will be ready for Sunday. What is Sunday? Well, I broke down and signed up for the final MMBA CPS race at Pando on the 22nd. I also signed up Izzy for her first "full length" race in the Beginner 10 and Under category. After taking her to Fort Custer I think she will be ready, and I can follow her to make sure she is ok. At just over 4 miles for her lap this will be a good first time course for her.

So right away my mind drifted back to when I bailed out at Fort Custer. I bailed because I was in awful shape and didn't feel like subjecting myself to 9 more miles of torture. I hope this race will be different. It will be on a course I have never ridden, but I have been riding more and I am way stronger than I was in the spring....as is everyone else I am sure. Jeff asked me if I was "getting excited" for the race and I just shook my head "no". It will be his first race so I am sure he will be more excited than I am, but as the time draws nearer I am sure I will get my mind into it. I will do my race (4 laps) and then hopefully get done in time to chase Izzy around on her lap. I will record her, so it should be blast!

On another note, there is a trail that has been in the works for some time in my area. Click here for a news story on it. I am excited because it is about 2 miles from my house! Lets get cutting!

Otherwise, busy as usual. I am going to try to get at least one solid singletrack ride in this week before the race as Saturday is booked solid. Gotta keep some focus and get a plan lined up for the winter...because I want to be ready for 2014....not backing in with a "wide load" sign on my back.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cannonsburg miles

Saturday I spend a good part of the day helping paint at the dance studio my girls will be dancing at this fall. Same teacher, just a new location! Nice. When I got home I decided to go ride.

Izzy had that look on her face so I asked her if she wanted to go ride. We rode about 5 miles around a little loop and I dropped her back off at home. Then I headed out for another 22 miles. I was looking for some hills this ride because hills are my weakness. I headed out north of town and attacked the first long climb. Legs were feeling okay so I pressed on. The ride was going ok until a guy nearly brushed me with his mirror. I was on a wide open flat road and he didn't bother to move over. Then he of course flipped me off like it was my fault. People crack me up. On the other hand, I did want to run over my first cyclist today....but he was wearing a Calgary Flames jersey....that was the reason...not anything else. Sorry, Red Wings for life. I managed to average over 17 mph for the ride, a full 1.3 mph faster that I have ever averaged out on that loop.

I have been pushing harder on each ride, knowing that I will only get faster if I push harder. I have been steadily averaging faster on every ride I do. It feels good to go that fast, but I still have a long way to go. I do alright for a guy that is 60 pounds overweight. You heard me....I averaged 18.1, 18.8, 18.4, and 17.1 (in the hills). At 255 pounds that is alright. Singletrack...well...hehehe....that is another story. All of these speeds are on the road. Still, I was only averaging 16.5-17 on flat ground a few weeks ago.

Sunday, Jeff and I headed to Cannonsburg Ski area. He had never ridden there and we wanted to ride the State Game area too. The one thing....and I mean ONE thing I dislike about Cannonsburg Ski Area is how the trail starts. It has to be a mile climb right out the gate. Not a easy gradual climb, a tough climb. Might not be tough for some, but my weight kills me in the hills and I am a notoriously slow starter, meaning my legs were screaming for mercy on the first climb. Great. Plus, add the 27 I rode hard the night before and I was asking for punishment. This course is a blast. Lots of ups and downs with hills, roots, and rocks. I like that the laps are short, gives me time to recover. Jeff and I did a full lap and then opted to take an alternative route on the second lap. We too a left and took the shorter climb into the trail, cutting out the long climb and the first half of the lap.

We jumped on the connector and took Egypt Valley road down to 4 mile and made the left down to Cannonsburg State Game Area. As history says, I haven't ridden there in 2 years. This was the very first trail Jeff ever rode...and he rode hard enough that he puked before the end of the first lap. That didn't happen today, he handed my ass to me and I never saw him after the creek crossing. I forgot how much fun this trail was. It makes for a good day to drive up there and ride a few different trails. I had to take it easy and just cruise because my legs were shot. I did what I could and made it back to the trailhead where Jeff was waiting. I rolled through the parking lot and started the jaunt back to the connector.

It was still a good ride but I was beat. With 27 on Saturday and 21 on Sunday I had a good weekend of riding. I just need to keep chipping away at my weight and keep the wheels turning!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

3rd Annual Remember Big Timmy Ride/swim

For some history...clicky here


This year we had to have this day a little later due to scheduling. No worries though, we still had it. There was a touch of drama this year before the day actually got here but I am not going to go into that here. If you want to know send me a e-mail. ha.


So, this year Jeff, Zack and I loaded up and head to Fort Custer in the morning. We arrived at 8am and Dan S. was just riding in to the trailhead. We headed out and rode the Red. Pretty uneventful, just a nice ride in the woods. We made a pass back into the trailhead and Bill K. joined us. Then we headed out and rode the Green loop. Again, fairly uneventful even with a few small crashes. Dan headed to work and we headed back to the trailhead.

Zack was done riding but it was still early and I wanted to ride more so we headed out for a modified loop. We hit the green and turned off into the Amusement park on the Red. A guy dropped in with us on a SS and again this route was uneventful. Just felt good to be riding. The weather was perfect and the trails were good.

Tan lines courtesy of Fort Custer
I do this ride because Tim was the guy that got me started riding. We rode these trails. We had fun riding, crashing, telling stories, and just being friends. I like to remember the fun times we had and how we used to laugh like crazy. I am reminded of funny crashes when I pass certain areas of the trail. One in particular was soon after he got his new Trek. We were on the Green loop and he bunny hopped a root, but when he landed he was off balance and he shot into a tree...making the tree fall. I swear. The tree fell and we were all making sure he was ok when a few other guys rode up. The first guy says "is the bike ok?" which made all of us laugh. The second guy had a perplexed look on his face and asked "did you take out that tree?". Oh, it was awesome because he did indeed take out the tree and he was fine, as was his bike. Good times.

For the last three years I have done this ride we have had a visitor. I really don't care what you believe but know that I am a believer in God and spirits. I believe that once a person passes that they can and do hang around, or that they come around to let us know that they are here. Three years ago a butterfly/moth just like the one in the picture below landed on me. I shooed it away but it came back and landed on my helmet. Last year, a similiar looking flier landed on Jeff's jersey while we were all at the beach. It flew around and would come back and finally went on its way. Sunday, the one below landed on me, then buzzed Zack and finally landed on Jeff's helmet. Nobody else....just the three of us. You can believe what you want but I truly believe that Tim was with us...sending this butterfly to let us know that he is indeed here. It can't be a coincidence. I ride here all the time and rarely even see butterflies, let alone have them land on us and hang around. Thank you Tim for coming and letting us know you are still here. We miss you.

Third year in a row....thanks for coming Tim.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kickass

I will post another blog about the 3rd Annual Remember Big Timmy ride later this week but I wanted to post about the ride last night while it was fresh.

Last week I rode the typical loop around Little John lake and had my fastest average speed which was a massive 18.1 mph. Fast huh..well...for a 250 pound guy....I will take that average all day long. So after talking Jeff he wanted to go out and kill that loop too. I wasn't sure how my legs would respond after riding so much on Sunday but we headed out for what would be our fastest ride of the year.

The loop is pretty easy...only 400 feet of climbing and around 18 miles. Running sub 1 hour is fun because I usually average under 17 mph for a road ride. Jeff started fast, just like I though he would. I knew he would gap me because I don't start fast, takes me a few miles to warm up. About 1.5 miles in he put a gap on me on a small climb. I knew if I could keep him close that I would be alright. About 4 miles in I closed the gap and passed him. We were heading straight into the wind but I found a comfortable pace and just hammered along. He dropped in and we were averaging well over 18 mph.

As we turned south onto the section with a few hills I knew he would gap me again. I just kept him close but still managed to set a PR on that 2 mile stretch by 2 whole seconds. Ha. We turned back east and Jeff says "i have it figured out, you power the flats and I will climb the hills" as he hard pedals and gaps me again. This time I hard pedaled too and dropped onto his wheel. Time to return the favor. My legs were torched and we still had 5 miles to go. He put another gap on me a bit further down the road when a truck pulled out in front of him. The jackwagon in the truck pulled out really slow and Jeff had to unclip. Then the guy continued to drive slow and Jeff was on the shoulder right next to him. No harm done, I started to reel him in again.

Home stretch: about 2.5 miles to go and I was shooting for a fast finishing section. I buried myself on the downhill and Jeff passed me on the next uphill, then I blew past him on the next downhill and he passed me on the next uphill. I went into the drops and sprinted to Thomas street and then had to back off some, but kept the pace hard. Jeff caught me and passed me about .5 miles from home. As we turned onto our street I sprinted past him so I could say that I "won"....but I guess I never told him we were "racing". oops. ha.

Overall, 18 miles in 57 minutes. 18.9 mph average. Kickass.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sore legs...for sure

Well, since last weekend I have been really busy....but what else is new.  So, I will start with last weekend:

Saturday: Headed to Yankee Springs to take Jeff for his first ride. I always think this trail will be worse than what it actually is. The rain in the week leading up to the weekend helped pound down some of the sand that Yankee is so well known for. Jeff and I headed out and we had a good ride. We were discussing focus when Jeff made a slight bobble and wrapped himself around a tree. He went over the handlebars and never touched the ground, just caught himself on a tree. The rest of the ride was good. I made all of the climbs again and had a lot of fun. We only rode the 11 mile loop but our finish time was reassuring when put in relation to my race times from the past few years.

Sunday: Jeff, Zack and I headed to Custer to meet Dan after he closed the shop. At the trailhead we met up with Briana and headed out. Zack is getting better every time we go out but I was glad to have tired legs from Yankee so he had an easier ride. Towards the end of the Red loop I started to close on Jeff and I hear him say "go away Sean"...which prompted me to go a little harder. I was closing in on him a little at a time and when the trail turned flat I knew it was my chance. Dan moved over as Jeff went blasting around him and I was not far behind. I heard Dan say "go get him" as I was slipping past. We were ripping down the last section of Red with on right hander to the trailhead. I was in position to take him on the outside but he went a little wide and took away my angle. I gave up at that point...but it was a good battle none the less! All in all it was a 14 mile ride and was a lot of fun with friends.

Wednesday: Chelle was taking the girls to see a movie so I headed down town to meet up with my frieInds Ron and Barb who are starting a group ride here in my town. Their son-n-law Brendon was there as well but no other takers so we headed out. Always good to ride with people that I don't normally ride with because I have no idea what to expect. It was a fun ride. Ron and I rode out front while Barb and Brendon stuck together. It felt good to ride another 34 miles on some unfamiliar roads. We then rode around Lake Allegan and then everyone headed home in their respective directions.

Friday: Well, Friday was not a good day at work....very stressful. The family was supposed to head to Indiana and I really need to burn some stress off. I decided I would ride to Indiana and if I ran out of time I would have them come and pick me up. Off I went for what I thought was about 60 miles that in reality was more like 75 (which I didn't make). I headed straight south through Gobles, Paw Paw, Lawton and finally into Marcellus. I stopped to get some fluids and a reeses peanut butter cup....energy you know. I texted Chelle and told here where I was and that I was doing good. I checked the GPS and realized I had 33 miles to go but it was getting late. It was about 7:30 and I knew I wouldn't make it there by dark. My step-mom was freaking out a bit too so they headed out to get me. Overall I made it 51 miles with a moving speed of 16.5 MPH. I will take that for sure riding solo with a slight headwind the whole way.

Sunday: I had originally planned on riding Saturday morning but my partner bailed and I was not in the mood to ride anyway....way too tired. So I got up Sunday morning and headed to Cannonsburg Ski Area. Haven't ridden there since the State Games race a few years ago so I was pretty excited. Upon arrival the parking lot was pretty empty, just a few cars. I geared up and headed out. Unfortunately, I took the wrong route due to the sinage that pointed to the LEFT when I knew the trail went straight. My legs were super tight and hurting in the first few miles. I stood to stretch and the pain went away, thankfully. Since the lap was already messed up I took the connector to Cannonsburg SGA. When I hit the road I turned around and headed back to the Ski area. I finished up my lap and headed to the car, then back out for my second lap. The second lap was better because I went the right way. This trail is a blast once I get past the first climb. It is fairly short so I like to do multiple laps. I was going to do another but duty called at home so I headed out.

Good week of riding. Basically 120 miles since last Saturday. Legs were sore today but I have been hydrated. Can't wait to see what this week brings!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dumped...TNR

I was finally able to make the Tuesday night ride with the Velo City group in Holland. Last year the ride was a lot of fun and I knew it would continue to be this year. There were a lot of new faces but the route was the same. I jumped into the Medium group and off we went. Right away I got pushed to the back of the group. I forgot how fast a group can accelerate on road bikes. I have been riding my Defy with the CX tires on it so the acceleration wasn't as fast. The rubber band effect was killing me because I had to accelerate so hard just to hang on.

A few miles in I got dumped out the back on a small climb. The group was just hammering away and my heart rate was sky high. I did what I could but once the gap formed they were getting smaller and I was maxed out. Thankfully the road tipped downhill enough that I hooked back up after about a mile. I moved up in the group a little bit and was a lot more comfortable with the rubber banding.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. What I mean is that I was pretty relaxed and just found a wheel to ride behind. 25 miles in I was feeling good and the group just cruised back to the shop. There was pizza waiting for us when we got there, so I grabbed a slice and talked to a few people.

I figured out that I am not in as good of shape as I was last year, but I am also about 10 pounds heavier. I am not sure if it was just being slower or not used to the group aspect of the ride, but I was confident other than 2 hills. Thankfully the group waited for me before taking off or I would have been all alone.

Good to be back riding in a group that fast! Dang it was quick. ha.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A little of this....and that

Weekends are usually busy for myself and my family. We are constantly on the go...and this weekend was no different. Saturday I got up bright and early and headed to Fort Custer for a lap with Jay. Even though there was a trail day we figured we would ride and remove what we could while out to cover more ground. We saw the beast of a tree in the trenches right away and called it in. Everything else we pulled off the trail as we went. Got a nice upper body work out in while riding...so that is good.
Big tree down...calling in reinforcments
After riding Jay and I headed to the Custer Cyclery Niner Demo. It was going from 10-3 and we offered to help. Bill, Brian, Doug, Lisa, Jay and I all did our turns signing people in and swapping out pedals. I want to say about 30 people test rode the different offerings. One guy didn't have a good ride as he broke his collar bone shortly down the trail. Possibly will need surgery. Yikes.

Niner Demo day!
Around 2pm we were slowing down and I finally couldn't take it anymore. Mark M. from the other side of the state had driven over to ride so I threw some pedals on a RIP 9 RDO fitted with XX1 and we went out for a lap. I will tell you this much...the bike was sweet. I don't think I would want to race on it because of the 125mm of travel but the bike is quick. Keep in mind that I ride a 26" wheeled bike, my first real 29er experience was this $6500 beauty. We rode most of the Red loop at Fort Custer and I was able to power up some climbs easier once I got the wheels rolling. The longer wheel base took me a second to get used to but Mark said I looked comfortable on the bike a few miles in. I really like the XX1 and if I ever win the lottery that will be my drivetrain for sure.

Niner RIP 9 RDO 5 Star build
Overall it was a good weekend. Busy as usual but I got to ride and see some friends then spend good time with Izzy before shipping her off to camp for a week. Things are going good....because I choose to find the positive and try to let the negative go. Thanks to Mark for making the trip over to ride. Thanks to Niner and Dan at Custer Cyclery for the demo day. Thanks to the SWMMBA for the hard work clearing the trail. Thanks to my team for your continued support!

Ride on.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Determination

I know it has been a while again since my last post, things are crazy busy as usual. Not an excuse....a FACT JACK! ha. So....if I have been so busy.....here is a recap of what I have done since my last post....

Yankee Springs:
Finally got there for a lap. I managed to clear every hill out there and only put a foot down once because of sand in a nasty corner...but I never stopped. I dabbed and pushed off one time then kept moving. I was feeling awesome. Managed to be faster than my race time from 2 years ago, and I am 15 pounds heavier. Starting to learn how to pace myself a bit. Fun lap.

TK Lawless:
Headed down there again since I flatted and had to walk out the last time I rode...er....walked....er...hiked out of the woods. Lisa P, Bill K, Kevin V and I met for a few laps. First one was brutal. TK is so tight and twisty that I got spit out right away but we would regroup and I would watch them disappear yet again. First lap was ok, but the second lap was much better. I paced myself again. I told the others that I was heading out and that I was sure they would catch me. I made it further than expected before I got reeled in but my lap time was much faster and I was feeling really good.

Last week I went to a Scentsy Family reunion with my wife. I had been training for the 5K that was being done but I strained my calf and was unable to run for almost 2 weeks. Knowing I wanted to run my first ever 5K I gutted it out and ran the entire thing minus stopping for some water at the aid station. Just under 42 minutes. Not bad for a 260 pound guy. I just plodded along and hit my goal!

Kal-Haven:
We got back Saturday and I had a 70+ mile ride planned with some friends on Sunday morning. Jeff and I loaded up and got the trailhead a little before 7. Jay, Brian, Lisa and a few others were there to make us a group of 8. The pace was fast on the way over.....right around 2 hours to the light house. The pace back was more tolerable as we finished with 71 miles in under 5 hours. 14.9 moving average. Nice. That is what I have been up to!


Now....maybe you are wondering what a "Scentsy Family Reunion" is. Well, my wife is a business owner in the Scentsy family. She has three product lines with various products ranging from warmers with wax all the way to fondue warmers with chocolate and cheese. The reunion we went to packed a lot of information into a few days and allowed us to have some fun as well. We saw Kelly Clarkson in concert and Mo$aic (a band that does music without insturments) was there as well. It was a fun time with a lot of fun people. They announced that the Scentsy family will be able to sell in Australia and Mexico. I generally don't use my blog for this kind of thing...but if you happen to read this and want to get in on the ground floor give me and my wife a shout. I will list her websites below so you can look around at the products. But let me tell you this, if you were to start your own business in Australia or Mexico and be one of the first consultants in that country your chances of being successful are super high! Here are her sites:

For Scentsy (aromatic warmers, lotions and buddies)
For Grace Adele (purses, clutches, wallets)
For Velata (fondue warmers with cheese and chocolate)

I am pretty fired up for our futures so I want to be able to share this anyone reading it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Whoops.....its been a while

I didn't realize that is has been over a month since my last post. A lot has been going on. Been riding more and actually running...but more on that later.

Road riding is more common in the past couple of weeks, but Jeff and I did manage to ride Owasippe a few weeks ago. This trail is located on a Boy Scout camp and it closes for the Scout usage during the summer. Jeff and I rode it two days before it closed. This trail is very cool. The builders have done an excellent job utilizing the property. There are some monster climbs and lots of flowing downhills. Click here for a highlight video.

My weight has been dropping a bit in the past few weeks too...so that is good. I started running because Chelle and I have a 5k in July. I was planning on running it, but I tweaked my calf two days ago and I am not sure if I will be able to now. It is rather funny running a mile without stopping. Then the next week running 1.8 miles without stopping. Pushing to 2 miles was the breaking point....I made it....but at a price. All I can do now is rest my calf and ice it. As I type this I have an ice pack under my leg. Bright side? I can still pedal with no pain....which seems strange, but I guess I don't use my lower legs enough. hmmmm.

I have noticed a different mentality recently about weight loss. Perhaps it was the talk I had with my doctor about my weight, or more specifically my BMI. He told me my blood pressure and pulse were fine but that he would like to see me down around 200 pounds. My thoughts were "yeah, me too!!" ha. When he told me that I needed to lose the weight I almost felt relieved. My last doctor told me I was fine....even at 70 pounds overweight. This time my new doctor was honest and carefully told me that I need to lose the weight. I have a new determination about my weight this time. I am cutting back on my food and exercising more.

That is what I have been up to......in a nutshell. Hopefully it won't be this long before my next post! Thanks if you are reading!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Understand this...its easy....

I know it has been a while since my last post...and honestly....it doesn't really matter. Where have I been? On the couch? On the beach? On the trainer? In witness relocation? Well...that answer is simple...busy.  The typical grind for us in the spring with dance, dance, soccer, and everything else left me with very little time to ride. Well....let me be honest.....I had time...but I didn't take it. I got caught on the downward spiral and rode it to a place I have not been in a while.....deep in a hole.

I can make excuses...but they are all paper thin. I can rifle off all these reasons that don't hold any weight. So I will just cover my absence with these simple words "it is just easier to be lazy". It is...honestly. It is easier to have the kids grab me another piece of pizza. It is easy to tell the kids yes to ice cream and candy bars and cake because they are delicious. It is just easier to come home from work and do nothing. Lazy. Period.

I took a mental hit after Barry Roubaix because I allowed myself to. So instead of getting back on the bike and riding away the anger I harbored it behind pizza and sugar filled foods. Honestly, I always eat food that is bad for me...but if I can limit my intake I drop weight. So, I have been hiding. I raced Custer...but didn't have the gas for a second lap. That's ok....because I at least tried...knowing it was going to be a rough go.

One pedal stroke at a time. That is how I am approaching things now. The funny thing is....cutting back and eating healthier is actually easier than I make it....just have to make the choice. I gave up pop on January 1st...been almost 5 months....just have to make the same commitment to my health. My family will appreciate it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Know when to fold em'

It was very early in downtown Hastings
The first race of the year can be seen in many different ways. First off, it is an opportunity to see who has done the work over the winter to test your early season fitness. Second, it is a way to get together with say 3000 riding buddies and hit the road for a group ride. Barry Roubaix was the perfect way to do this. Downtown Hastings was overrun with cyclists from all over Michigan and probably the United States before it was all said and done. The pic above was taken about 7am. Notice the frost? It was still chilly with temps in the 20's so we were all hoping the ground would stay frozen to avoid a mud fest.


Photo courtesy of Rick Plite
Then it was time to get started. We lined up in an array of colors and started the race. Pros (and super crazy people) went first for the 62 miler....but I opted for the 36 mile race. I was happy that the course had changed this year to avoid some super sandy 2-tracks but it just meant a little more pavement. GO. The start was fast. I knew it would be so I just settled into my pace and found a smaller group to draft off for a bit. Didn't last long because the pace was really fast on the pavement. First hill...which was small...I got dumped and only a few riders were still behind me from my wave. That was ok....because every 3 minutes after that I was being passed by the front of the following waves. Good news...I never really rode alone. There was always someone around. Someone in sight to help me keep my sanity. The three sisters were after the first right onto the dirt. First one...not bad. Second one....here comes Jay. I was hoping to make it over them all before he caught me but he is really fast so I wasn't shocked. He disappeared over the third and I just kept chugging along.


Photo courtesy of Jay B.
About 10 miles in is where the story changes. I had a weird pain in my hip that hurt with every pedal stroke. I rode for about 5 more miles before I stopped and stretched to no avail. I climbed back on and slowly watched as my average speed dropped with every pedal stroke. Everyone I knew was saying "just keep going" and "do you need anything" but my mind was already working against me. At mile 27 I saw an aid station and threw in the towel. Thankfully it wasn't long before a SAG vehicle was there and I lowered my head and took the ride back...bailing out to save myself to ride another day. I was done. Mentally and physically. 

My team did very well averaging about 2:18 overall. It was awesome seeing all the people in that little town. It was fun for a bit...but my mind won the battle and I am glad I stopped. I knew there were 2 more nasty long climbs and I would have probably ended up with an injury. Just a bad day on the bike, but some had worse days. One guy was air lifted out due to a heart attack. He was lucky enough to have some immediate help from a doctor and paramedics that were riding right behind him.

Next up is Yankee.....just gonna do what I can. 11 miles should be way easier than the 27 I managed at Barry. It should be warmer too! COME ON SPRING!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekend update...time is flying

Time flies in a general statement. It seems like this year is already going by at a record setting pace. I realize it isn't but we are already into March. The pic below is a picture of the Barry Roubaix course from a few weeks ago. Icy. This forced me to skip rides out there and find alternate routes.

Courtesy of Laura Piippo 

This past weekend I headed down to Augusta to meet Dan S. for a ride around Gull Lake. I took the Defy with CX tires on it so I could get a feel for how it responded on pavement. The temps were much more bearable at around 35 but the wind was cutting when were stopped. Once we got moving I warmed right up. Good news...no cold toes! We rode with Mike N. for a bit but as Dan said "he brought a spoon to a gun fight". I was on my Defy, Dan was on his TCX with road tires...Mike was on his MTB with 2.35 and 2.5 tires on it. First acceleration and we gapped him. He decided to turn off and we continued on our ride. We got about 28 miles in and my legs were feeling somewhat better. The hills are still hard....and with a race in less than two weeks that has a lot of climbing it should be interesting!

Courtesy of Laura Piippo
The pic above was taken on Sunday. We opted to not ride because of the rain and it was a good thing. Early in the day the course was solid, but by mid afternoon it looked like this. This is a public gravel road that is used by the locals. Pretty amazing to see a road in that bad of shape. Hope the weather cooperates and it dries out some....or a tough decision may have to be made.

Overall a good weekend. I did a little Tae-bo with one of my daughters yesterday and I can tell just how out of shape I am. I am going to start mixing in tae-bo and running so I can get this weight off. I won't be able to compete until I do.

Hope everyone is enjoying spring! 12 days to Barry Roubaix.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Good weekend

I know I know.....I could pour out a hundred different excuses as to why my weight hasn't dropped and why my riding has been sporadic at best...but I am not going to waste time. Just know....mentally I am doing good and I know this is a marathon....not a sprint.

This past weekend was pretty good. We planned on doing the Barry Roubaix course for training on Saturday but Dan S. did a little recon and the roads were sheets of ice. We opted to ride around Gun Lake instead and keep on the paved roads. Temperature was under 20 degrees when we started. My legs were not liking me very much. We were on flat roads and I was getting dumped out the back. One of the guys leaving me is a smoker...and hasn't ridden in over 6 months. That was a boost to my confidence. Oh well, he is a 22 year old kid...with a never quit attitude...so I wasn't surprised. I take a while to warm up. I have noticed that if I warm up good I am golden. If I don't, then it might be the second lap of a ride before I feel like I should. This day didn't allow me to warm up at all. We hit a longer climb and my legs just would not go. I never stopped, but slow was an understatement. I just did what I could and figured a slow as hell ride was 150% better than sitting on the trainer for an hour. Over the top of the hill Jeff's chain broke (from sitting for so long) and we stopped to fix it. I was standing on the side of the road in the snow. When we got started the bottoms of my feet felt frozen. Not good, but thankfully we were heading back towards the car. We opted to try one of the gravel roads just to see...and it was super slick. Didn't hit the deck this time, but Jeff did....and he the ultimate slide forever down a hill. I knew he was okay when he gave the thumbs up. All in all, a chilly 15 miles with one major climb.

Sunday the team opted out of BR and decided to ride around Gull Lake. The kids guilted me into staying home so I went out and rode in the afternoon. Legs still felt heavy, but it was cold again. Temps were in the mid 20's but there was a pretty stout wind. I could actually feel the cold on my legs which rarely happens. Guess I am getting old or something. I managed 18 miles by myself. Still better than 90 minutes on the trainer.

Barry Roubaix is in a few weeks and I am really wanting to ride the FULL course. Hopefully the temps this week will do some melting on the roads....then we will have to ride somewhere else because of MUD. Nice. Gotta love Michigan!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

First test of 2013


Because of my geographical location it is common for me to train indoors for most of the winter. Say what you want, but I will spin for 90 minutes inside because of weather and darkness. Add those two things together and the glitch with "this is my road" car drivers in my area and there is no way I will be outside in my town. Thankfully, I have been able to sneak out a few times and get some mileage in to test out the legs.

The family and a few friends
A few weeks ago I took the family over to Fort Custer for a day in the snow. We did some sledding and had a fun cookout with a bunch of friends.
Dan brought his Moonlander and we made a few tirps down and then back up the sledding hill. It was a solid climb and I am happy with my 3 trips. So that brings up the next topic of a fat bike......yeah.....what kind of fun could I have with one of those!!! But, a new MTB is first on the schedule so nevermind. ha.

e
FAT BIKE? Just borrowed it for a few trips up the hill.


The real test came this past weekend. Barry Roubaix training rides with my team are starting up. Dan T., Jay and I met in Hastings to try the new course roll out. We met at 9am and off we went with temps in the teens. A few miles in we knew it was going to be a long ride because the roads were pretty icy. Jay took a spill at the top of the third sister and I dumped myself about 20 yards later. I slipped again a few miles later but no injuries....so on we went. It was so quiet out there. No cars. Just a few people out on bikes. With the ice it was difficult to climb. I am a power guy and I had to finesse the hills so I didn't spin and fall again.

The good news.....I felt pretty good. I was climbing fairly well and was happy with what training I have accomplished. The first race is coming quick and I am heading in the right direction to be as ready as I can be.
Another reason to put the bike inside the car.

On Sunday we were planning another  BR lap but it was ZERO degrees when I got up. I settled for a lap at Fort Custer following Dan S. He was on his moonlander and I was on my Epic....which was fine...but it was a rough 8 miles for sure. I felt worse after that ride than I did from the 25 miles the day before. Overall, a fun weekend of riding and I am feeling pretty good.

Get out and ride. Or stay indoors and ride. Just ride.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Keep going


What a strange and unusual week. It started with my oldest daughter getting sick. My poor wife started with a sinus infection. I came home early Thursday because I couldn't hold it in anymore, and I feel really bad for the dude in the bathroom. I was down all day Friday, so I missed a day on the trainer. No biggie, I lost 5 pounds overnight. Blech. I know I know, water weight. I ended the week down 3.75 so I really cannot complain. I will take the help. My two little girls both got sick too. Chelle is getting back to normal from her sinus issues, and I hope that the crud has finally left.

I have been doing longer rides on the trainer. 2 90 minute rides started off the week. Then I got sick and mustered an hour on Saturday followed by 1:45 on Sunday. I am feeling 100% and actually sticking to a schedule. Sure, I missed a day but I cannot look back I must keep moving forward.

Hard Rock Hotel, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, 2012
The pic above shows how I have been feeling on the bike. Strong. That will be tested this evening as I have power intervals on the schedule. I realize that the trainer is not real life. I cannot simulate hills, wind, road conditions  or any other science related factors sitting in one place. My legs, though, are still doing the work. Base miles are exactly what they are. Base. Foundation. Start. Beginning. I am building the foundation one day at a time and I know where I want to be. So, I keep going.



Barry Roubaix will be my first test. Training rides will start soon enough if it ever STOPS FREAKING SNOWING in my area. I will ride outside on that course when I can, just not sure when exactly that will be. Going into this race I know I won't win, but I am challenging myself. My season truly starts a few weeks later at the Yankee Springs TT. The first official MTB race of the season. I have a stout goal of sub 1 hour. My fastest time ever is 1:12. Yes, my goal is to shave a full 12 minutes off of my fastest ever time. How? By building the foundation now and continuing to lose weight. My weight goal is 229 or less by this race on April  21st. I still have over 25 pounds to go and about 11 weeks. Safely losing the weight (2lbs a week) is my plan. A flash in the pan diet is not going to work. I like to eat, so good (healthy) food is important. My plan is working so far in 2013. My attitude is way different this year than it has been in the past 2 years. Sure, my January wasn't as strong as I wanted, but the flip switched and I have the goals in range. Lets go.


Yankee TT, 2012 (photo by my lovely wife)




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Flip the switch

The last few days have been interesting. I noticed on Sunday that things seemed different for me. When I was on the trainer for 90 minutes on Sunday it didn't bother me. I had been struggling to get an hour in...and sometimes settling for 45 minutes on occasion. That ride on Sunday though just seemed different. I didn't mind the time and just was thinking about the first race of the season in March. I just pedaled for 90 minutes and was fairly relaxed on the bike.

Monday was a scheduled rest day. I was going to spin for 30-45 minutes at an easy pace just to keep my legs loose but I opted for extra sleep instead. Glad I did. I felt very rested on Tuesday and I had another 90 minute session on the schedule. I put on a movie and pedaled for 90 more minutes. This ride was a little less comfortable because of the steady state intervals (3x10 min) that were mixed into the ride. The first one was easy. Comfortable. The second I noticed that my focus was on maintaining cadence and breathing. I easily could have gone out of the SS range but my breathing was controlling my heart rate. The third was hard. I didn't think 10 minutes at a higher heart rate would be difficult but by the last 5 minutes I was ready to be done. After the third set I still had 28 minutes left of my 90 minutes. I did an easy pedal for 5 minutes then a moderate cruising speed for the remainder of the ride. Again, just a different feeling on the bike than I had even last week. Kind of like a switch was turned on.

Say what you want but I know that if you are not in the right frame of mind that you will not be able to accomplish anything. Confidence? Perhaps, but I don't think that is it. I think for me it is the desire to be better. I can say I want to be better but until I actually WANT to be better I will never get better. With 12 weeks until my first race I WANT and NEED to be better. I think this started last Saturday when I was sitting with a few of my team members. We were talking about bike choice for Barry Roubaix in March. I just started thinking that it is time to get in gear. I made a spreadsheet comparing gear ratio vs. speed of my Epic and Defy. I want to ride the Defy (with CX tires) because I will be way faster. The issue is gearing on the Epic is clearly better for hills. So, the choice I have is to ride the Epic or get stronger and ride the Defy. David W. told me to ride the Defy and if I can't make a hill to get off and run. Makes sense. So, because I want to ride the Defy and I know time is closing in I had the switch flipped. It is on and I am going to work my ass off to get in race shape. 

Do you have a switch?












One other thing. I saw this picture and it reminded me of myself. I am a person of average intelligence but I have doubts about the decisions I make. This makes me less confident in myself. I work, or have worked, with people that are the other way. They are so confident that they are right that they prove their stupidity on a daily basis. Just food for thought.
courtesy of www.lifelovequotesandsayings.com



Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Rush

This weekend was fun filled and busy. Started off Saturday by joining a group of teammates and friends to help another teammate move into a new place. I gotta say, when the time comes for me to move these are the people I will call. We were highly effieient in the moving process and made 2 trips with a full u-haul to accomplish the task. We were done by 1pm. When I got home I fixed a leaky toilet valve and changed the ballast in the kitchen light. Then, relaxed and watched movies and played with the kids.

Sunday we headed to a birthday dinner for Zack with my Dad, Gail, Josh, Jenn, McKenna, and our herd. After stuffing good food in and visiting for a few hours we headed home and started to prepare for the week ahead. We were under another winter weather advisory but not really for snow. We got some freezing rain and over 300 schools in our area were closed today. Anyway, I missed my ride on Saturday so I planned for a longer ride on Sunday. After I put the kids in bed I picked a movie and headed to the trainer.

I have been struggling mentally to sit on the trainer for even an hour. I just think I have been getting bored. We have netflix so it is dumb for me to not watch a movie or get into a series this winter. Last night I picked Act of Valor as my movie. I knew I would need something to keep my attention because I was planning on 90 minutes. The schedule called for just a cruise, no intervals. I basically found my cruising speed and watched this movie with my eyes glued to the screen. Very intense. Very real. Very sad. The first hour went by very quick. The next 15 minutes were very quick too. Then my body said "WTF are you doing" and while the last 15 minutes were not hard, they were not as easy as the first 75. I rode 90 minutes at a clip of 16mph. Say what you want about speed and "that isn't very fast" or whatever else you want. It is the end of the first week of training for me and this was just a base mileage ride.

So, for the week I am down 1.25 pounds. Not bad, but I need to put my weekends in check so I can lose more consistently around 2 pounds. I am the lightest I have been in 2013....so I am heading in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lake Effect

As a Southwest Michigan resident I am used to snow. I live in the snow belt, so when the snow falls it can fall for days at a time. We get this lovely thing called "lake effect" and it will snow a ton in short bursts when these so-called "snow bands" set up shop. As of Monday we have gotten around 18" of snow. There was no snow on the ground Saturday and my normal 25 minute drive home turned into an hour. I am from Michigan. It is January. I know this is normal. It just makes me glad that I can torture myself for hours on a stationary trainer. I am just glad that we don't have the cold that Wisconsin has. A friend of mine moved there last year and the windchill was -25 this morning. It was only -4 here and the snow looks nice. They barely had any! ha.
Photo courtesy of Visit Traverse City
 What this weather does do is make me crave another form of riding. There are numerous Fat Bike races going on this year. I do not have a Fat bike. I don't even ride a 29er yet. The bike below is from 616 Bicycle Fabrication. A new company here in my area code. Dan S. just got a few in and he rode his on our ride last Saturday. Sweet looking frame and fat bikes just look cool to begin with. I want but need to upgrade the mountain bike first.
Photo courtesy of 616 Bicycle Fabrication
What is the point? Well, these fat bikes have turned winter from an occasional riding season to a season where people are riding, and racing, year round. I think they are here to stay based on the clubs and races popping up all over the place. Maybe eventually I will own one. Maybe not. I know for sure that I will ride one this year. A guy I ride with has invited me to demo one from the shop where he works. Should be a blast...especially since we have so much snow. But tonight I will spin on the trainer and maybe watch videos of fat bike races.