Sunday, December 13, 2015

Time for change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

....ebb....and flow....

No posts lately, because not a lot to post about. Life got crazy busy as usual with school starting. Riding is kind of an afterthought. So, I started running a bit. Then the fair started and things go crazier yet.

So....I started to run. A mile at a time. Not really a fan, but need to be active. I got slow on the bike because my riding fell off so much. blah blah blah. You guys don't want to hear my excuses. So I won't get them to you. Just know.....things are brewing.

I did ride tonight. 20 miles. Nice. 2 things happened. One, I was visually startled by a pre-teen that was clearly practicing her halloween costume. What was it do you ask? A vampire. And to top things off she stood perfectly still with a super creepy look on her face. A vampire is not something you expect to see in September....or ever.....

Second....I had a car pass me at the closest vicinity I have ever experienced. I never heard it because it was windy....and a car was coming at me. I was as far right as I could get on a road with zero shoulder. The asshole should have waited...instead...passed me on a rough road nearly clipping my elbow at 50mph. Close, but no harm no foul.

And....finally. I turn 40 in June of 2016. I have some goals I will share once I get them dialed in. Keep the rubber side down friends.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Taking back what's mine......

I needed a day. So I took one. 

I got up and headed to Owasippe. Solo. I knew Dave and Jay were riding Upper Mac, Wahfield, Merrill and Luton. I was craving Owasippe. It is such a cool trail....and I was going to destroy my legs. What better way to do it...than on a trail with lots of climbs.

When I arrived there were a few people in the parking lot, so I didn't feel so anxious about riding alone. I geared up and headed out. First two miles are my Only issue I had was my new shoes. They were killing my feet. Hurting to the point that I actually stopped and took them off. Reset them and moved on. Finally about 10 miles in my feet were used to them and I was feeling better. I think that pain took away from my legs. lol. I rode the outer loop and and then the inner loop. Legs were feeling ok. I was actually faster on some segments than the last time I rode here....and that was before LJ100. Interesting. 

I loaded up, texted MC and headed to Merrill. During transit I got a call from Jay. They were at Merrill and ready for their second lap. They decided to wait since I was only a few minutes away!

I arrived at Merrill and everyone was there. Dave, Jay and MC were ready to go. Unloaded, geared up...and off we went. Merrill is historically not my favorite place to ride. I don't mind the technical, I am just not fast in the tight and twisty trails. Then, add in the pace that Jay and Dave ride....ugh. I was holding on for dear life...literally. We took the Siren loop that I love. ZOOM. The more I ride the Anthem the more I trust it....still not 100% trust...but getting there. Eventually I got dumped....MC was nice enough to stay with me. I wasn't far behind...but the legs were feeling stressed. Jay and Dave headed to Luton while MC and I went out for another lap. We even did Sawtooth, which wasn't as scary as I remember. We got done with that loop and headed to Luton.

I was looking forward to riding legs were not. As I hit the 40 mile mark for the day I started to cramp. I was forced to slow down. I wanted to do 2 loops but I only managed one. Still such a fun trail. I was just out of gas. 

Thanks to Jay, Dave and MC for hanging out with me. Fun day on the bike.

Now, why the title. I had a purpose for Friday. It was to take back what was taken from me. Since LJ and the deer episode I have not been riding much. Then throw in the speed sucking staph infection and I was really starting to wonder what happened. So, I took some time off and let my body heal. Did a few rides and was feeling a bit better. True test was last weekend on Kal-Haven. I was holding on for dear life in a pace line. I was feeling really good. But I wasn't convinced that I had taken my speed back. So, I decided to stress my legs more on Friday. Either get back what speed and endurance I had....or destroy myself trying. While I didn't feel like I had all my climbing  power back....I felt much better on the bike that I have in a long time. So I took it back. I had to....I earned it in the first place. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lack of Power

Staph infection.

I don't go to the doctor unless something is truly wrong. I cause major panic when i say "I think I need to go to the doctor". I broke down and went a few weeks ago because I didn't want to become a viral video on the internet. 

A bug bite or an ingrown hair turned into a massive lump of infection on my back. After some prodding we decided it was best to have a doctor check it out before it got worse. A local and a scalpel were enough to try to get some of the infection out. The pushing to get the infection out was enough to make me want to pass out. Legit. It was the worst pain I have ever endured....and I blew my finger apart with a nail gun a few years ago. The doctor said "dont sit up...I don't want you to pass out" was awful. At any rate...major pain meds and an antibiotic were enough to send me on my way. Within a few days it was internet sensation zip popping here.

I took a few days off the bike and then rode. Um, that infection had my body shredded. I barely managed 16mph on a short road ride. A tiny hill made me feel like I was going to die. Zero power is an understatement. I didn't feel worn down...but I was. I rode Custer the following Saturday and was slower than normal. New bike aside, I was feeling ok....just couldn't hold any sort of speed.

So I rode during the week and felt pretty good. Slow still, but legs felt like they were coming back. Jumped on the road bike and averaged 17.6 on a loop that I always ride. Good right? Well, I hit custer again on the following Saturday and felt like someone stole my legs again. The first 4 miles were good...and then ZAP...nothing. I rode 18ish miles and was awful the rest of the day. Still suffering the side effects of the infection.

So I have taken a week off now. I will try to ride tonight to see how I feel. I am riding again tomorrow as well. Just a bad feeling after all the riding I have done this year to feel so slow. I mean...I got a new bike and felt faster....and each ride has shown a decrease in speed. Not really the way that is supposed to work. 

At any rate...somethings rest is the better idea. Not forced due to over training.....but forced because my body needed time to rebuild. Listen to your body.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

5th Annual Remember Big Timmy Ride

5 Years have passed since Tim left us. Lots of new friend. Lots of new adventures. He still comes to mind now and then. This day was to remember him....

This rock stands at the top of a switchback climb on the Green Loop at Fort Custer. I never met Erin. I have no idea who Erin was as a person. I imagine that she was an amazing person if someone left this kind of memorial for her. The quote says "Friends are spokes in the wheel of life". I always think it is cool to see this memorial, but on this day it had more meaning.

The ride was smaller this year. Jimmy, Lisa, and newcomer Chris W. joined me for the ride. We rode the red loop and gathered at the trailhead to see if anyone else was joining. Nobody did...except for a single butterfly. In previous years the butterfly would land on us. This fluttered by and landed a short distance if it was Tim....just listening in on our conversation. We rode part of the green.....then a storm rolled in.

I got a text so I stopped to check it. It was Dan telling us to take cover. I looked around and realized we were in trouble. We were far out on the green and had to sneak some shortcuts to dump out at the boat launch. Jimmy and Lisa hauled ass back to the trailhead while Chris and I hurried to Eagle Lake. I got the bikes in the suburban and it unloaded on us. Huge winds, thunder, lightning, RAIN and sirens going off in the distance. Tornado? Maybe. It was a short storm and the families were arriving.

We headed to the beach and set up. Had some food and we were relaxing. There was some turmoil when a trip to ER had to happen. My father-n-law had a vein start bleeding and it wouldn't stop. So they took him the ER and ended their day at the beach. We hung out and swam and chatted. My phone chirpped and it was a tornado watch in Allegan. I decided it was time to pack up....and the DNR Sounded a horn to pull people off the lake. We packed up and headed to my in-laws house. As soon as we unloaded the truck it stormed like crazy again. It was the right choice to leave.....even though a lot of people stayed. A County Sheriff pulled in as we were leaving....I can only assume to enforce the closure of the beach. People were still going to the beach and setting up. I am glad we left.

Overall it was a good day. Spent some time with friends and family and enjoyed getting a newbie out on the trail. I just simply need to ride more now. Been slacking off since Lumberjack. Anyway, it was a good day to remember my friend....the guy that got me riding....and started me on this path where I have met so many amazing people. Miss you brother.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Golden Egg......and Sweat Shaker

I am not really a happy camper right now. The day started good enough. Up on time to leave for Sweat Shaker. Arrived and swapped over the bike rack to Jay's car. Lisa, Jay and I took off from Meijer at 5:30 am. Right on schedule. Then.....

I hear Jay say "oh shit" and I look to my left....
....a male deer....full stride.....running towards us....
.....slow motion.....
.....head of the deer into the mirror and then the driver window...
....body into the rear door....
....deer into the 3 bikes...

Jay pulls over quickly on US-10.  We are only 1.5 miles away from US127. Less than 15 minutes from our destination. Carnage. Here is the rundown.

mirror gone
driver window splintered but no glass falling out
rear driver side door smashed in....will not open

Rack torqued to the right.
1 arm completely ripped off
1 bike...front tire taco.
1 bike with a hole punched in the fork
1 bike with a bent rear triangle, broken rim, and possible bent frame.

Did I mention nobody was hurt? Yeah...there is that positive note.  We pick up the pieces and drive the rest of the way to Mid Michigan Community College. We get to work getting 2 bikes functioning. One was fairly easy. Taped up the hole in the fork. Done. The second...well...we pulled the wheel and did some restructuring. The bike shop guys that were there did some work and got the where it would spin. The debate was on whether the wheel would hold for 20 miles or not. 

Race started....Jay and Lisa were off and I was left standing on the sidelines. Jay finished a respectable 7th with his wobbly ass wheel. Lisa finished an awesome 2nd. I yelled. I cheered.

So now....I wait to hear about the bike. But the title you say..."why the golden egg?". Well....I was thinking that my season will take a definitive change. I missed out on an opportunity to have a high finish today. Not knowing how long it will take to either get the bike fixed or replaced....I could miss another race....or the rest of the season. It is just up in the air right now. So I was happy to say that I finished Lumberjack last weekend. This race was truly my golden egg for this season. So if nothing else....I got my golden egg.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lumberjack 100

When I turned the calendar to June and saw Lumberjack 100 on the 20th my heart skipped a beat. Here is my recap as best I can remember
Ready to roll
Jay was at my house by 7:45 Friday morning. We had taken the day off so we could take our time heading to Manistee. We headed to the hotel first. Surprisingly, we couldn't check in until 4pm. So we gave Brian a call and headed to Big M.

Limited space in the Hotel room.

The goods. The customized number plate was a cool touch

Photo courtesy of Jay Bridgeman
 We wanted to do a pre-ride so we could have a small idea of what we were in for. Jay was going to do a whole lap since he wasn't racing. We headed to where Brian and Gwen were camping and then headed over to Big M to see what was going on. Once there, we set up our tent real quick and got some intel from Kris, who had just finished his ride.

 First off, this place is beautiful. It was kind of hard to ride and look around...and not die.

 So we finally got going. Right out of the parking lot it a long climb. Not steep. Just way longer than anything we have around here in SW Michigan. And that first hill just kept going...and going...and going. 

The first banner 
 We made to a sign and turned off to head back. Jay went on to ride the full race course loop. Brian and I worked our way back to the parking lot and ended up with about 6 miles....and a lot of climbing. We headed back to the campground to relax while Jay finished his lap.

Once Jay got back he gave us some intel on the course....and what I was hearing wasn't really positive. I knew what I was in for...but he made it sound worse. At any rate, it was too late now...the race was the next morning. We headed to the hotel and found a place for dinner. Then...straight to bed. We set our alarms for 4:30 am so we could get to Big M in time to have a decent parking spot.

4:30...beep beep beep. Holy hell is it early. Since we had everything ready I headed down to eat some oatmeal for breakfast. Yes, the hotel was serving food at 4:30 in the morning. I ran into Danielle M. and Jill M. as they were eating and getting ready as well. Then, off we went to Big M. 
Brian got a picture of me taking a picture. lol
Arriving at Big M around 5:30 was smart. We got a close spot and moved all our stuff to the tent. I commenced to getting ready. People were wandering around everywhere getting ready and chatting about the day. I was as ready as I was going to get.
Brian and I at the start. Unfortunately he was in the process of getting a flat and had to stop to swap it out as he rolled into the parking lot. Better there than 10 miles out I suppose.
 Brian and I said our good-byes to the people with us and headed to the start with all of the final "good lucks" and last minute advice of "pace yourselves" and "ride smart". 100 miles.....riding smart is already out of the question. lol. Started seeing a lot of friends at the start. Time to go....I just settled in and was drafting people. Everyone was laughing and chatting on the 1.5ish mile roll to the parking lot. I started all the way at the back because I had planned on 12 hours. We were rolling and finally reached the parking lot. There the mob turned into a single file line and started the grind up the first hill. Slow would be an understatement. Congo line was the best description I have heard. There was a line of riders as far as I could see winding up the first hill and out of sight. Around 5 or 6 miles in the group was finally decimated and sorted out. There were still a lot of people around, just smaller groups. 

I started to settle in and find my pace. The miles were ticking away one by one. But where is that aid station? Oh....I am only 9 miles in. Pace? Right around 10mph. Ok. I will take that. Finally the trails flattened out and I was able to use my road training to find a solid pace and get even more comfortable. The terrain is awesome out there in the Manistee National Forest. The trees are amazing. Old growth for sure. My mind is wandering already. I found myself passing a few people and then getting passed by a few more. Eventually there was a group of around 10 of us in a solid line rolling towards the aid station. It was a comfortable pace and it was nice to see where the trail was headed. Finally I saw some decorations hanging in the trees and we were rolling into the aid station. Oranges, bananas, chunk of payday...and go. Only a few people stopped, most kept rolling. There were a handful of people stretched out over a few hundred yards that you would see now and then.

Hills. Did I mention there are hills out there? This guy...not a I was suffering even on my first lap. Eventually I see a sign pointing up and right. Fire tower climb. You have got to be kidding me. Steep....torn to shit.....lets go. Finally drug my bike to the top and there is a screaming fast downhill gravel section. Finally a fast section. But, there was no relaxing because the gravel was sketchy. So, I enjoyed the short brake and back to the hills. Finally I see the 5 miles to go and I smile. Thinking that I am only 5 miles from the end of the first lap and I have a decent average speed going, I press on. 4, 3, 2, 1, finally I see the tents in team row. I see Walters and he points towards the tent. First lap done in 3:46:37. Not fast....finishing pace!

I roll into camp and the Cannonade Midwest guys clean the leaves from my bike to make sure I don't have any issues. Gwen hands me to full bottles and Jay hands me my full camel. I eat some food as Summer looks on in horror. I was stuffing beef jerky in my mouth and she was mortified. lol. I was hungry. Leave me alone! Then....on to lap 2. Honestly...I don't remember much about lap 2 other than these few things. First thing was the feeling of cramps coming on around 45 miles in. I was not drinking enough so I really started to drink more from the camel to make sure I was getting enough. That was a pain I didn't want to deal with. The more I drank the better I felt. I was still in my comfort zone and had just passed the 5 hour mark when I hear "riders back!" so I moved over. It was the 4 leaders and they were straight up flying. I was riding my pace and they still passed like I was sitting still. Damn. I hear a "thank you" from Jordan and I realize that he is in that group with Tinker. So cool to see those guy in action....demoralizing or not. Anyway, I pressed on knowing some people would be passing. I got to the aid station and loaded up again. Drank a cup of coke and headed out. Half way. I took off again with a positive attitude that I would make the cutoff. That changed about 8 miles later when I started to cramp again. I emptied my camel and saved my last bottle for the final 5 miles of the lap. Pretty uneventful....other than knowing I was going to make the cutoff. I rolled in at 7:44:00 with 16 minutes to spare for the cutoff. I headed to the tent. Gwen handed my full bottles and Tom helped me refill my camel. He was nice and calm. How is the bike? Did you eat? Anything else? Now go. lol. Now go enjoy the last lap. If you start will will finish it. I slammed the rest of the water in the jug and headed out....pretty excited that I was on my last lap....and my chances of finishing were pretty good.

So as I start the third lap I was eating a cliff bar. I had taken two bites and while climbing that first climb I just kept looking at it. My stomach was full from the water, which I deemed more important because of the cramps I was having. I looked at it one last time and the thought of eating it was too much....I threw it out into the woods. By now, the trail was a highway. On our pre-ride you couldn't even see it. Now it was a 14" wide strip of black among the beige and brown of the leaf covered ground. Nobody around. Had not ridden with anybody for a long time. Finally I see a woman churning up the hill in front of me. I get off and walk because there was just no way. I got back on the bike at the top and we start chatting about what we got ourselves into. Joe from CMW catches us as he was sweeping and looking for someone. With his fresh legs he flys up the hill and disappears. I said "he didn't race" and she says "I was gonna say, those are some fresh fucking legs". Ha. We pedaled along and enjoyed the scenery around us. I said the only reason I came back out was for the patch. She didn't know that you got a patch if you finished! She said "there is my incentive to keep going". Eventually we caught another guy and the three of us rode together for a while.

I was finally starting to feel better. Strange that far into a ride, eh...race,....but my legs were feeling better and I was getting excited about finishing. I eventually pulled away on a long flat section and never saw them again. My mind started to wander. I was thinking of my friends that had finished already. I was hoping all my friend made the cutoff. I was really starting to want pizza. The miles ticked away one by one and I was finally saw the decorations for the aid station. The volunteers there were very awesome. "what do you need?" was what they asked as I rolled up. I had them refill my empty bottle (just in case) and I had a few cups of coke along with bananas and oranges and pay days. Cathy was there and was really excited that I was on my last segment of the race! One final push and 17 miles to we go....

At the finish (Courtesy of David Frost)
Honestly, I wasn't feeling bad. I think I was climbing more this lap than I was on the second. I got that second wind and was still riding my comfortable pace. I was slow, sure, but I was moving forward. I had not seen another ride for a long time. I was mid hill walking when I heard a guy coming. I was thinking....really...this far in and someone is catching me? He was a sweeper.  He asked how I was doing and I said good. off he went and I started to ride again. Then I see those damn arrows pointing up fire tower climb. Two steps...break. Three steps....break. Now, I am ready to die. I am so tired I can barely get my bike up over the logs. Legs are sliding in the sand because it was so torn up. I just kept telling myself that I had an awesome downhill coming. Finally I made it. That tower is freaking tall...on top of being on a huge hill. Anyway, off I went. Now looking at my Garmin I had less than 10 miles to go. The miles were ticking away. I look again and I am at 94 miles. Then...I pass the 3/4 sign. Huh....that means more like 8 miles to go. Not 6.....DAMMIT. I keep looking for the 5 to go sign and eventually I see it. Awesome, 5 to go.

4, 3, that another rider? It is! I see Fred and I get the motivation to reel him in. We rode the last few miles and crossed the finish line together. As I rode under the finish banner I see Michelle and the little girls waiting for me. Such an awesome surprise! Cathy and her grandson head over and give me my finisher patch. I was done. Jay grabbed my bike and I was just trying to soak it all in. So many people were coming up and telling me good job that I don't even know remember who all was there! Very cool feeling. Very big sense of accomplishment.

Chris and I showing off our dirt tan lines.
We headed back to the hotel and got cleaned up then headed to dinner. William S., Summer, David W., Lisa P., Brian and Gwen B., Chelle and the girls, Jay and I all sat around the table and talked about the day. All in all.....a great day on the bike.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Closing in.

Just over a week ago I flipped the calendar to June and there was LUMBERJACK 100 staring me right in the face. Wow, that meant less than 3 weeks. So, looking at my riding I was a little nervous. I had not ridden the entire week after Memorial day because we were getting ready for Zack's graduation. The weekend after we had dance recital for the girls. I did muster some mileage at Yankee Saturday morning.

Monday night I loaded up the Defy and headed to the 3rd Coast Monday gravel ride. This ride was interesting. There was a guy there that had a very big movement in his pedal stroke. What I mean is that he was bobbing right to left on every pedal stroke. 2 miles in. 3 miles. Trying to lead the group. Red faced. Wasting so much motion. I figure he would blow himself up...but he did hold tough. There were a few sections where I took off just to ride my pace and put a solid test on my legs. Always fun to ride super hard and see where you stand.

West Loop at Ski Area

Wednesday I headed to Cannonsburg again. I started at the Ski area and rode everything that I could. I was looking for hills so I could truly test my legs. I took the newer West Loop that is on the connector between the Ski area and the SGA (state game area).  It is a tough loop for sure...but what I needed. I am learning how the new gearing works. I am glad I swapped to the 22\36 for Lumberjack...I will need that low gearing for those climbs. The West loop goes across the side of one of the hills a few times. Long and drawn out to really stress the legs. Awesome.

After that loop I headed over and did the State Game area trail. Always a fun loop with some interesting areas. I did have one issue...and it has been an unfortunate trend lately. A guy rode up on my and I moved over to let him pass....he zipped past me and never said a word. Headphone in. I just don't get why people can't give a simple "thanks" or "have a good ride" when they pass. I should have just rode my pace and held him up. I honestly hope that I ruined his strava segment. lol. On the connector back to the Ski area I hit the West Loop again. Legs cooperated for the most part. With the 22 tooth ring I actually had a few gears to go. That makes me happy.

Now....Lumberjack is 9 days away. I plan on one more long ride hopefully this weekend and then I am just going to take it easy next week. Jay and I are headed up Friday morning to scope out the area. We are going to do some sort of ride, just to open up the legs. Lumberjack 100. 100 miles on a mountain bike in the trees of the Manistee National Forest. I am ready. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Busy Memorial Day Weekend

The weekend started off right. I took my wife out to see Pitch Perfect 2 and then we went to dinner. After dinner we headed home and I packed up for Saturday.

Jay, Lisa and I met at the Kal-Haven trail head in Kalamazoo. We were set up for 70ish miles of rail trail going from Kalamazoo to South Haven and back. We were ready to rock...and off we went. It was chilly. the 40's chilly. I didn't have a base layer and poor Lisa didn't have her regular shoes, just her riding sandals. Needless to say, I was a little chilly for the first part of the ride.

Jay was setting the pace....and it was rough. I knew going in that I wanted to do a tough ride to test endurance and my Infinite custom blend. This was the perfect place.....5 hours of flat hard riding. The worst part of this knowing that you are going to be pedaling for 71 miles. We were trucking.....Gobles, after town just ticking by. Then you start to notice that the lake is getting close. Lake Michigan for those of you that don't know. We arrived in South Haven 2 hours and 3 minutes after we left Kalamazoo. 34 miles.....17 mph. I barely average that on the thankfully Jay was there to pull Lisa and I along. It was by far the fastest I have ever made it  to South Haven. We rode to North Shore and took the pic above. Refilled the water bottles at the trailhead and off we went back to Kalamazoo.

The return trip is never as fast.....because it is uphill the whole way. I say that jokingly, but it really is. The problem is that you have to pedal the whole recovery. With 30 miles to are still confident. I was holding onto Jay's wheel for all I was worth. Lisa was tucked in right behind me. We were good. 25 miles to go....that was over. I couldn't hold his wheel anymore. Jay would gap and drop and drop back. We were holding on for dear life and failing. Eventually Lisa started to tire and commanded me to continue on without her. She knew my purpose on this ride, and she didn't want to be the reason I slowed down. It didn't matter. We regrouped in Bloomingdale with about 17 to go. Jay was waiting in Gobles for us and I was just plugging away. Jay eventually caught back up to me again and we ticked away the miles. Finally we reached the final climb to the Kalamazoo trail head and I caught a glimpse of the parking lot. Don't. 71.2 miles with an average speed of 15.3mph overall. My fastest previous ride was a dramatic difference in speed. 

Sunday I helped my lovely wife take pictures all day for the dance studio. Then we headed over to visit with some  friends. Got home late and packed up for Monday. Jay, Dan, Jimmy and I were headed to Owasippe to meet with Bob and some of the Team Troll group.
Awesome trail!

We got to Owasippe just before 9am and the rain was holding off. It was very grey and overcast, but only sprinkles on the way in. We spent a lot of time last year in this area when taking Megan to Blue Lake, but never had a chance to ride last year. Because the trail in in a boy scout camp they close it while the scouts are there. So we took the day we had to get a ride in.

Bob, Scott, and Marc met us at the trailhead and off the 6 of us went. The outer loop is 13 miles. There are some of the toughest and longest climbs I have ever experienced on a bike. Like....long....nasty....grinding...steep....awful....climbs. But the downhills.....damn. Fast. Mostly flow. Awesome.

One of the 2 Bridge Crossings on the Short Loop
We all headed out for the first loop. The group quickly segmented, but I stayed with the leaders. The pace was tough....but I was using this ride as a major training ride too. After all, Lumberjack is only a month away. We got back to the trailhead and a few guys bailed out. Not an easy trail by any means...and I know exactly how they felt. 2 years ago I felt like I was going to die when riding here.

So, the four remaining headed out for another lap. There is a cut-off just over 7 miles in...take the long way and it is 13 miles total....take the short way and it is about 9 miles total. Since we hit the long loop we wanted to see what was on the short loop. 2 bridge crossings...over NASTY water. Stink. Just go...ride straight across like you are riding trail and you have no issues. You look at the ass is walking home because you are not getting into any car I own smelling like that. lol. I thought that...and Jay said that on our last lap. We got back to the trailhead and Jay and I talked over another loop. We played it by ear and said we would decide at the turnoff which way we were taking. After 71 miles on Saturday I opted for the short loop. Jay thankfully agreed and we hung a left onto the shorter loop. Jay was giving me words of encouragement on the climbs. It was like I had my own personal team manager screaming in my ear while riding the tour...ALLEZ ALLEZ, VENTE VENTE VENTE.   We got back to the car and had just over 30 miles of hilly single track. Legs torched.

Lumberjack is a month away. I am feeling better all the time on the bike. The longer rides are working and as nervous as I am about 100 miles in the dirt....I am confident as well. It won't be easy, but I will do my best...and hope for the best. Today the legs felt pretty good, for the most part. I would expect nothing less with the hard rides we did this weekend. 100+ miles in 2 rides. Solid training. Thanks to everyone for the company and the nudge when I needed it.

We have Zacks graduation party this weekend on Saturday. Hope to get out for a long ride Sunday and just keep piling up the miles. I am nearly to my mileage total from last year. I expect to surpass it in June....probably on the Lumberjack ride. Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fort Custer Stampede

It was a beautiful day at the Fort Custer recreation area. Zack, Zoe, Chelle and I got there about 8:30 and helped Jay set up the tent. It was still pretty quiet but it didn't take long for the activity to start. While we were waiting of the race to start we went over and checked out the Kids race course. Zoe wanted to see what it was like. She walked a few of the hills....but was excited. 

We cheered for our friends racing Expert and Elite, then we headed over for the kids race. A pretty good group of kids were there so they broke it up into a few groups. Zoe was in the first group and they had to do 3 laps. I was following, but a little guy crashed and I was helping him out. I stayed with him to make sure he was good. When we got to the home stretch on the first lap there was another boy walking....pouting a bit. He had dropped his chain. I jumped off and got his chain back on and sent him on his way. Went back to following the little guy again. It was funny because as I went by all the parents and they CHEERED for me just as loud as the kids. lol. Zoe was the second finisher and she had a blast!

So, my start time was approaching. I went and did a warm up ride and then headed to the start area. I was chatting with Ross and Brian. We were trying to figure out who was in our class and who was in the other class that they combined with us. Not was time to go. 3, 2, 1....

And we were off. There were 24 Sport Clydes.....and the start didn't seem blistering....but we were stretching out pretty quick. I got in front of Brian and tried to settle into a pace. It was fast....probably too fast. I was just trying to hold onto the wheels in front of me. There was lots of passing and jockeying for position. We turned into Crazy Beaver and there was still a long line of riders. It was very cool to see because it was just a long train.....that was meandering through the woods. Normally we don't see many 30ish people all riding together was a cool thing to see. We made it up the first little climb and headed towards the trenches at the end of the red course. I knew there were riders behind me, and I heard "on your left" as a 15-18 year old tried to pass. I say tried because when he WENT...there was no ground...he went right off one of the trenches. About a mile later 2 more passed on the was clear...but they about caused a huge crash with the guy in front of me. Don't get me wrong...they were surely faster...but they were picking terrible places to pass....where there was zero room....and they very easily cold have gotten hurt....or hurt someone else.

I was a bit ahead of Brian...and then he caught me again. We pretty much rode together for the rest of the first lap. I was pushing as hard as I could....fearing that I would POP at any minute. At the end of the first lap I grabbed a bottle from Zack and took a gel. Brian gapped me and a few other guys got between us. Eventually I lost him. I had to slow down and just tried to settle into a pace. There were still a lot of people to ride I tried to just hang on if I could. It finally thinned out. I would catch a rider now and then...and another would catch me. In the Amusement park I saw a few guys stopped and realized that one was Brian. There was a log sticking out over the trail and it had smashed him right in the face. I asked if he was ok and he responded "I will be"....and I figured he was shaken...but I pressed on. I was slowing down...but I wasn't giving up. I was just going as hard as I could. 

4 miles to go.....keep going. Legs are fried. Is that Fred? Nope. Keep going. Surprisingly I was passing a few more people. They were running out of steam because we were nearing the end of the race. Knowing Brian was chasing I pressed on. I was worried about Ross blasting me right at the end too....but he had a mechanical and was forced to drop out. 3 miles to go....closer. I caught a Cross Country guy and drafted off of him for a while until the turn onto the pavement. I let it rip to get past him and shot back into the final stretch of single track. I saw Fred. Knowing for sure he is my class I tried to catch him.....but just didn't have the legs left to close the gap. I closed within 6 seconds...but he still got me.

My final time was 1:52. Good enough for 13th out of 24 in the Sport Clyde class. Zack did a fantastic job and finished 5th in Beginner Men 15-18. Lisa took 1st in her class and David W. took 3rd in the Sport Clyde class. The leaders were fast. lol. Brian wasn't far behind me....but thanks to a freak stick to the face I beat him by a small margin.

Next race for me is Lumberjack 100. Got lots of riding to do before then....

Monday, April 20, 2015

Yankee Springs Time Trail 2015 Review

Jay and I got to Yankee Springs early to set up shop. Brian was there walking the dogs and came to the site to help us as well. It was cold when we got there....overcast and windy. Temps were in the 40's and it was chilly. But....before I get ahead of myself.....

Saturday evening as I was packing up and getting ready my allergies started to flare. I was thinking that it wasn't a big deal...until I woke up at 3am Sunday morning sneezing and with a very sore throat. Lymph node under my the right side of my chin was super swollen and hurting. Perfect feeling on the night before a race. The best part was...the little girls were up and ready for me to go Sunday morning so that was a bonus. lol.

So...we were set up and ready to go pretty early. We didn't go down to the start, but we knew a lot of people that were on the course. Those are super fast guys and girls. We were chatting with Dennis and we saw Jordan and Simonson come flying through. Those guys are just ridiculous fast. Sub 44 minutes on their first lap. Crazy.

Finally I started to get dressed. Nose running. Sneezy. Hit the 2 mile loop trying to get everything opened up and headed to the start line. Everyone was chatting and then it was time for me to go...when Martin says "hold on" and makes me WAIT! They were running a bit ahead because of the people that didn't show up. So I looked at him and said "this is like getting on a roller coaster and having it break down right before you go...NOT FAIR". He just smiled and said "couldn't have happened to a nicer person!". So it was time to go....3, 2, 1. GO. and I was off.

First mile wasn't terrible.....second was worse...third was WORSE yet. I was just plugging away but I was having trouble getting that deep breath that I needed. Lungs just would not cooperate. By the time I got to the guard rail climb I was blown. I just plugged away and kept going. A few people caught me right away, but not as many as I figured would. And these guys....Kudos....they were polite and asked to pass when there was an opening. I was keeping an eye and ear open too....because I was having a bad day...I didn't want to hold anyone up. By mile 5 I was like "ok, almost halfway". I still wasn't feeling the greatest...but hey....on the home stretch.

Just keep plugging away....a slow time is better than not finishing. I was shooting for an hour.....but I missed that. I was about 3 miles from the finish and was really struggling. Just wanted to be done. I really like mile 11 to 12 out there at Yankee. A guy passed me right before the 11 mile marker. This is where I am fastest on the I stayed with him. He got a little off kilter in one of the sandy sections and I got past him. I put the hammer down and never saw him again. One guy stayed with me and passed after a while...but he was definitely drafting off of me for a bit. I just love that section.  

So I finished. Took 19th in my class. Way off the leaders....but I can't complain. 1:07 was my finish time. Faster than last year. Feeling awful. up is Fort Custer Stampede. Hope to feel better and compete a bit more in that race.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Barry Roubaix.....didn't want to play

It was an empty parking lot when I got to the Long Lake Outdoor Center on Saturday morning. 2 cars. Surprising for only 2 weeks before the Barry Roubaix...but then again...everyone starts in Hastings now. I just stop at Long Lake and ride the course from some drive time.

Off I went on a solo ride. I had a goal of 13mph for the route because I was almost there the week before....and conditions were way better. The roads were a little soggy in some spots...but mostly spongy gravel that is just soft enough to slow you down some. There was some mud too....but the roads are drying nicely.

The ride went fairly well. I got to the paved road into Hastings and my stomach started to hurt some. Nothing major...just uncomfortable. I rode through town and headed out towards the Three Sisters. Stomach was really starting to hurt by this point....not so much stabbing system wants to empty pings. So...I had a choice....go out into the woods and hope for the best or just keep going. I just kept going and the pings passed. The problem was....I was slowing down because my focus was gone. I was more worried about how I was feeling and how I was going to ride the rest of the way back to my car. When I got to the first sister I slowly churned over the top. About halfway up the second sister my legs quit. I had to stop and walk. Then I didn't even try the third....just got off and walked. Legs were like concrete. It wasn't making any sense to me until I started to think about what I did differently on this ride. Only one thing was different....fluids. I put different fluids into my water bottles...and thinking back I was feeling worse with every pedal stroke after about the 15 mile mark. About long enough for the Gatorade G2 I was drinking to be throughout my system. 

The last 12 miles were straight up survival mode. All I wanted to do was get to the car. Knowing that it was the G2 made it worse...because it was all I had to drink and I wasn't going to go without fluids. Ugh. I just plugged away and eventually turned right instead of left to head out to Gun Lake Road. Good choice...only cut 2 miles...but I was glad to back to the car. Ended up with just over 34 miles at a pace of 11.9 mph. So....not terrible considering how awful I was feeling. Lesson learned. A lesson better to learn now than during...say...Lumberjack 100.

Friday after work we took the littles to Lake Michigan to see the remnants of the ice. There was water along the shore....but these huge mountains of ice still in place....covered in sand. Looks like the sand dunes are out in the water. Pretty cool.

We live so close to Lake Michigan...and we never really think twice about how awesome it truly is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 Schedule almost full

With my first race of 2015 in a few weeks I figured I would share my schedule...not that anybody cares....but if you it is.

Barry Roubaix March 28th

Yankee Springs TT April 19th

Fort Custer Stampede  May 3rd

Lumberjack 100 June 20th

Sweat Shaker June 27th. (which may be a train wreck a week after a hundred miler...but we will see)

The above races are confirmed....I am signed up for them. The following are races that I may preparation for Lumberjack:

Hanson Hills 50 (good simulation of hills and a longer race)

Stony Creek 6\12 Hour (would be an excellent way to test endurance and nutrition)

And I will need to do at least 2 of these last ones to qualify for a CPS overall award.

Big M    July 26th (after Lumberjack I will know the course)

Maybury TT August 15th (love the course, lots of fun)

Addison Oaks September 13th (fun race, good atmosphere, would do it again)

Pando Challenge September 27th (hate the hills....but maybe not so much by this time of year)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Awesome weekend

The weather is finally getting warmer. This past saturday it was calling for temps to start in the teens and end up in the 40's. I had a super busy day of running the kids around starting around Noon so Jay and I headed out early to ride Barry Roubaix.

Our first pedal stroke was about 7:45. Temperature was low teens, but it didn't feel as cold....until we started moving. We were planning on pushing the pace a little and seeing what our legs were capable of. The strange thing about planning a faster pace is the mental side of it. I was planning on pushing it a bit....and my body was ready. The weekend before it was a struggle to just ride...let alone at any type of pace. we went. We were still cruising but we had a better pace going. The hills didn't feel as terrible....until the wall. Hills do not like me very much at this point. I don't mind them....but they have something against me. Like....they hold me back and stuff. At any rate....I had to stop on the wall for a second. But, I got back on and pressed forward without walking.

We rode the entire loop all the way into Hastings where the start\finish area is located and then took off again out of town. The three sisters are not getting any smaller....just saying. The first, not too bad. The second. Worse. The third...felt like it wasn't going to stop. My legs quit. I had to stop and walk for a bit. But when I got back on the bike my legs felt way better. Even Jay commented "it is amazing how that little rest made a difference". So we pressed on. The conditions were perfect. A few icy spots, but because we went so early the roads were still solid. I saw a lot of reports later in the day about how awful and sticky the course was. Glad we went early.

We got to Gun Lake road to head back to Long Lake Outdoor center and I settled into a nice pace. I am not fast on the climbs....but I just ride consistent and do what I can. Once the hill started to flatten out I just let loose. I wanted to get back to the car and I knew that the downhill was a good place to gain some speed. I kept churning all the way to Yankee Springs road where the stop sign is.....checked for traffic and took off again. Overall it was a very good ride. I averaged what I did last year in the race (in less than stellar conditions). I will take that 3 weeks before the race. I just need to cut back on the food....get the weight down...and the speed will only go up!

Sunday I went out for another ride because it was beautiful weather. I mustered another 20ish miles and held a decent pace. I even feel pretty good today after two longer rides. Just happy to be riding outside and that the warmer temps appear to be here to stay.

Barry Roubaix in 3 week.
Yankee TT in about 7 weeks.
Lumberjack is coming quickly too....

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Open Letter: Mavic

Hello Mavic,

     My name is Sean Evans. I am a Mechanical Design Engineer, father of four, and avid cyclist. I am a mountain biker by heart, but I also own (and ride) a road bike. I like that I can jump on the road bike and get a solid ride in without having to drive to a trail. Given the time, I will always choose the mountain bike over the road bike. Mountain biking is how I first heard about your products.
     Many years ago I was at a little race called Iceman Cometh in Northern Lower Michigan. After eating dinner I was looking over the bike and heard a clink when I spun the rear wheel. Perplexed, I spun it again...sure enough....clink clink clink. I stopped the spinning and took a closer look. 3 broken spokes. Not good the night before the race. I had that Mavic was going to be at the Expo that night and that a demo was possible. We went to the expo and I headed straight to the Mavic booth. Frantic, I explained my situation. The guys in the tent were awesome and told me they would hook me up in morning and all I had to do was be there early enough for them to get my bike set up. We got there early and sure enough they threw a set of demo Crossmax wheels on my bike. Truth be told....the wheelset they installed was worth more than my entire bike at the time. This made it even more exciting. I was at the start line and a few people were asking about them. I explained that they were loaners and everyone was very impressed that Mavic would loan such an expensive set of wheels to a beginner level racer. The race went ok....but I loved the wheels. Needless to say...I was hooked.
     Time passed and I stopped riding for a few years. Eventually, about 8 years ago, I started riding again. In typical cyclist fashion my bikes got more expensive and the components followed suit, minus the wheels. The set I wanted I could not afford. The Mavic Crossmax wheels. So I waited. 3 years ago I finally needed to buy a new wheelset. A teammate had a set of Crossmax SL wheels that he wasn't using anymore. Barely used....I got a solid deal on them. My shop owner put a lot of trust in the wheels telling me they would be "bullet proof" I jumped and bought them. I set them up tubeless and absolutely loved them. But....the bike is a 26er and last year I made the jump to 29er....regrettably giving the bike and my favorite wheels ever to my son. He loves them too for the record.....but I miss them.
     So that brings me to the point of this letter. I technically don't need a new wheelset...because the wheels that came with my bike are very nice wheels. I WANT a new Crossmax wheelset. While doing some research I was looking around the site and realized that Mavic has a lot more to offer than just the wheels. I knew Mavic put cycling shoes on the market, but I didn't realize Mavic has pedals too. And not only pedals, but the style of pedals I love to ride. I am a huge Time Pedals fan because the SPD style locks me in too much and puts stress on my knees. Wheels, shoes, gloves, pedals, helmets....a lot.
   My question is this: Does Mavic have any sort of ambassador program? I ask because I think it would be an excellent idea. I also volunteer to be the first in the program. I would use shoes, pedals, helmet, gloves, wheels, and whatever else you would be willing to offer. What would I do in return? Well, I write a blog that is read all around the world. I also have a facebook page that has a decent amount of traffic. I would do product reviews. I would do product spotlights. I would also talk to everyone I know about your awesome products. At races, I would wear Mavic shirts, hats, team kit and be a walking/riding billboard. I would also put stickers on my car and bikes as necessary.
     Why Sean Evans? Well.....I love the sport. I love to ride. I love to race. My story might not be the greatest. I have stood on the podium on a few times...but they have been awesome each time. I am doing my first 100 mile mountain bike race in June of this year. I am moving along. If Mavic were to allow me to be an ambassador I would attribute any success to the awesome components and products you have. I would share my stories with everyone, just as I do now. Only I would be able to say "Mavic has been awesome in helping because of...." or "these wheels have truly made climbing faster" or "I see you ride Time, I switched to Mavic and ......" . So many options.
     In closing, please consider an ambassador program. Many well established companies already have them, and the programs help get their products in front of more eyes out on the roads and trails. When people see other people out riding the brands, more attention is given to those brands. People are interested in what other people are using, riding, wearing. If you would like to have a conversation about this I am more than willing. I completely understand if you do not. I doubt this letter will ever even reach Mavic, but I wanted to launch it into cyberspace in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it would reach the right person.

Thank you for reading,
Sean Evans
Singletrack Chronicles

Sunday, February 22, 2015

First Barry Roubaix of 2015

Jay and I decided to head out into the cold morning air to test out the Barry Roubaix roads. We saw pictures and had reports that the roads were icy, with snow, sandy spots, and some gravel spots showing. I pulled the Defy off the trainer and threw the CX tires on, especially since I knew Jay was bringing his new TCX.

Do I really want to do this?

I left the house a little after 8am and met Jay at the Long Lake Outdoor Center a little before 9. Parking lot was empty. We geared up and off we went. Roads were not bad. Passable....albeit slow. We rode slower to prevent a disaster. I did have one minor accident. I caught a icy ridge and it kicked my bike out from under me and I fell right into the snowbank. No harm. Slow speed. 

Jay B.s Giant TCX (Photo courtesy of Jay B.)

The pic above was one Jay took of his bike at the top of "The Wall". That climb is always rough. I am learning to love the hills. The hills, however, hate me. Felt like I was dragging an anchor. The hills out there are always brutal....but they felt even worse on this ride. I think because it was so cold my body was struggling to stay warm. At any rate it was awesome to be out there riding with a friend and teammate....testing the early season fitness.

After the ride

We got a decent 22 miles in around 2 hours. Average Temperature was 23 degrees according to my Garmin. It felt really good to be outside and riding in the hills. With 5 weeks until Barry Roubaix I have to get outside more...but winter has a cold grip on SW Michigan right now. I felt pretty good after the ride...just cold. The season is coming quick and winter won't last forver.

Below is a video of our ride. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

2015, off an

This year is already off and flying by. Living in Southwest Michigan is always and adventure. We had 2 feet of snow on the ground in November. Hardly any snow on Christmas. And got 18" over the course of two days here a few weeks ago. As I type this we are under a Winter Storm Warning. Lots of blowing snow and frigid temps. So....I hide indoors.

January was a solid month. I started it off right with a ride (outside) on New Years Day. Haven't ridden outside since. I have had a few nice days....but missed the opportunity to get out there and break the monotony of the trainer. Instead I got a few of the Sufferfest videos to change things up.

In total...I had just under 300 miles in January. Just over 400 for the year so far. My speed is pretty solid too for this point in the year. My frustration is my weight. I feel stronger, but I am slowly losing weight. My own fault. Feel pretty good on the bike.....and the legs are surely getting stronger. Nutrition has to be dialed. I will get there.

So....the season is shaping up like this

Barry Roubaix (36 miles)
Lowell 50 (34 miles....or 57 depending on BR results)
Yankee TT
Custer Stampede
Lumberjack 100
Sweat Shaker

Those are verified.

These are not...but on the radar

Hanson 50/100
Ithica 12 Hour
Ruby 50

All I know is that I will be riding a lot to keep my fitness up. Gotta stay focused and be ready on June 20th when I have to ride 100 miles.....wait...RACE 100 miles. Have a goal time in mind right now...but won't let that leak.

Hope you all are enjoying your winter.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year

Said goodbye to 2014 by hanging out with some friends. When I finally got to bed on January 1st it was 4:15 am. I had to be up at 8 am to get ready for the Annual New Years Day ride at Fort Custer with the SWMMBA. I drug myself out of bed and left the house a little after 9. I got to the shop, Custer Cyclery, and a few minutes later Jimmy rolled in. Dan was there already and the three of us headed out from there.

It was chilly.....windy too, but the ride over was a solid warmup. We got to the trailhead right as the group was leaving. I coudn't really tell who was there because everyone was bundled up and had their faces covered. Anyway, off we went. It was fun to be riding Custer again after a long hiatus. The trail was like concrete....and it was actually a little dusty with the pace line we had running through the woods.

At a stop to regather...I saw a lot of the usual suspects. Good to see a lot of the people that I haven't seen in months. After a short break we started up again and just kept moving. It felt really good to be out...cold or not.

So the year started off on a positive. Last year was a decent year. Better than 2013 by about 300 miles. Not terrible for a hefty guy with 4 kids. I am thankful for each mile I can ride. Every pedal stroke....slow or fast.....thankful. 

So....2015 has started and I still can't make up my mind on what I want to do. Do I race clyde...or just age group....or do I even race at all. Only time will tell on this topic. But for now.....Happy New Year everyone.