Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Busy, busy

First, Merry Christmas to everyone. Two days late but that's sort of what the past few days have been like starting with Christmas eve.

I upheld my annual tradition of not wrapping presents until the day before Christmas, I had everything purchased, I just never got around to wrapping. After getting that done I managed to get out and ride for a few hours but I had to stick to as much pavement as possible since the dirt roads were wet from the day before.

Later in the evening I went to Chris W's house for a party they have every year. Chris and his wife had prepared a great spread of all sorts of things to eat but I was careful to not overdo it, knowing what was to come in the days ahead. This year I am determined to start out the new year at a lower weight than last. It was also nice to be able to see some of my riding friends and wish them a Merry Christmas as well.

We were to meet Jason and his fiancee at the midnight mass so and we had to leave about 10:15 to try and get a seat by 11:00 or so, otherwise it standing room only or at least individual seats. As it was we saw Jason before only for a minute, his fiancee Emily was holding his seat in the pew. We finally got to meet her after the service and immediately welcomed her into the family. We stayed a little while at the church to sample the buffet they have after the midnight mass.

We were fortunate that Jason and Emily made it to the church from Indiana. Jason had flown in there the day before but his luggage didn't make it. It took 24 hours for the airlines to even say they found it and would send it up to Detroit to have it delivered on Christmas day. Until then Jason was a cranky boy. Visiting the future in-laws with no change of clothes would tend to do that I guess.

We didn't get to bed until about 4:00 am and were up again around 9:30 to open presents. We had to take a few coffee breaks to finish and then it was time for dinner. Robin and Shari came over for dessert and to meet Emily. They are great friends and we always have a good time with them. I think they were able to fill Emily in on a few things about Jason as well :-)

Sandy's sister had come up the day before to spent Christmas with us so while Jason and Emily were off visiting later in the evening we had a chance to sit around and talk and watch one of the Blue Collar Tour DVDs her sister had gotten for Christmas. Another late night and we had to get up early the next morning to go down to Ray's MTB park in Cleveland.

Tuesday morning I was up around 5:00 am since we were leaving early to go down to Cleveland. The owner of Ray's met us at the place two hours early to let us in and we had the place to ourselves. The Hammer people have sponsored a section of the park so Jason had called and talked to Ray several times. Jason was like a little kid in a candy store as he eyed up all the technical stunts and riding areas. We had picked up his friend Nate and along with Emily and our other son Greg we spent about four hours at the indoor riding park. I rode some of the technical things but I chickened out on a lot as well. It's not my riding preference but I can see where it would help your overall riding ability.

After leaving Ray's in the afternoon we went down to my parents outside of Cleveland so they could see us but more importantly to meet Emily. I think they were as impressed with her as we are. A few hours there and it was time to head back home. We stopped for dinner at Tony Packo's in Toledo. None of the kids had ever been there and everyone enjoyed the atmosphere and the food, even liking the deep fried pickles.

We didn't get home until around 10:30 at night where Sandy and Emily finally had a chance to spent a few hours alone with each other talking in general and looking at wedding dresses in the magazines. Emily had to leave this morning and drive back to Indiana before catching a flight to Montana tomorrow out of Chicago. We wished we had more time with her; the next time we see her may be at the wedding.

At least we have a few days now with Jason before he too goes back to Montana. It seems strange to think that this may be his last time at home as a single guy. Funny, when I was getting ready to get married I never thought anything about what my parents thought along those lines. Of course they already had two others get married by the time I got married. I don't think it makes a difference though. It still causes you to reflect on things. All I can say is we wish Jason and Emily the best of everything. I hope they will be as happy as Sandy and I have been.

The happy couple

Christmas dinner

Robin and Shari watching the dogs before telling Emily what she's in for

Some of the stunts at Ray's

Jason gets some air

At Tony Packos

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Night ride

Not quite on the Winter Solstice but four of us got out for a ride last night. Good thing it was yesterday, rain is in the forecast for today. Chris, Todd, Tony and I were all on our ridgid SS's as we toured the back roads and rail trails while taking in the Christmas lights. Out in the country several of the big horse barns were lit up as well as the houses.

By the time I got home I had almost 2.5 hours but the time had gone by pretty quickly. We were fortunate that it wasn't very cold, but it's not hard to work up a sweat anyway. Plus the right clothes (and shoes) makes a world of difference.

I did have a problem with my L&M helmet light not turning back on after the first time I stopped but I have a second one on my bar that stayed on the whole time. When I got home I unplugged the helmet light and put it on the other battery and it fired right up. I put it back on the original battery and it worked with it as well. I think maybe the cord had come out of the battery slightly when riding but in all the races I've done it has never happened before.

Hopefully the weather will allow me to continue to ride outdoors. At least the days will start to get longer. I've been working out my training plan for the next few months and I am not looking forward to spending a lot of time on the trainer. But I look at long trainer rides as making me mentally tougher. Not to mention what it does for my backside.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More pics of the happy couple

Jason sent me these from the day he proposed up on the mountain.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Big news

Jason called on Friday night to tell us that he had gotten engaged! I was speechless but apparently my wife already knew he was going to ask his girlfriend, Emily. They don't have a date set yet but maybe next summer, and possibly in Spokane, Washington. That is where Jason had spent the prior year teaching at a small catholic school and they have a beautiful church there as well.

We haven't had a chance to meet Emily yet but she will be visiting her family for the holidays in the Indiana/Chicago area and Jason will be flying to meet her family before Christmas and then the two of them will be arriving Christmas eve. We look forward to meeting her and welcoming her to the family.

In other news I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday on Saturday by riding 50 miles. Fortunately the weather was nice and I met up with Chris W for part of the ride. I ended up with 60 miles. I have been riding my SS lately for winter training so it was a good workout. Heading into the wind was especially tough, as it was the day before when I got in a 2.5 hour ride.

Saturday evening was spent at a co-workers wedding. It was a nice way to spend my birthday, among friends and with great food and an open bar to boot. Ironically we also went to a wedding on my wife's 50th birthday back in August. I didn't realize our birthdays were so popular.

Today we put up the tree and got the lights on it. Later in the week it gets the decorations. We have been a little slower this year putting up decorations. Not sure why, maybe the week I was busy with the workshop put me behind.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

So I finally get a physical

This past year we switched health insurance plans and part of our new package includes yearly physicals. Now we didn't even have a family doctor, we haven't really needed one since we haven't been sick much, more often it's something of an emergency nature due to riding, skiing, etc.. I asked some of my friends for a recommendation and made an appointment for this past Monday.

The first test they did was an EKG, and then I went through some others including a bone scan and the usual blood tests as well as those of a more "intimate" type. The doctor says the EKG is showing some abnormality so he prescribes more tests including a sonogram and also a stress test. Due to all the riding I do I have a low resting heart rate which he says may put me at more risk after I tell him about the possible sleep apnea I have. I say possible because that's what my wife claims when she whacks me in the middle of the night. Maybe it's just an excuse for her though.

I took the stress test this morning which involves a treadmill and nuclear dye along withe some imaging tests. The doctor gave me a piece of paper to carry for about a week in case I cross the border or fly. Apparently the nuclear stuff in my body can set off detectors at these places. I checked and at least I can't be used for a night light.

The treadmill part was kind of fun, they start you off slow and then ramp up the speed and incline every few minutes while they monitor you HR and blood pressure. they want to get you to a certain HR and then you are supposed to tell them when you think you can only last another minute so they can inject more dye. I never got to that point and they have a time limit on the test so they injected more dye anyway. I was working a little by the time it ended, actually running to keep up but not enough to stop. They said for my age that the results were off the chart. Of course the pictures they took will tell the real story.

I also had a consultation with a sleep disorder doctor today and he prescribed a sleep test to check if I have sleep apnea and if so, how severe it might be. I will have to spend a night at a facility hooked up to all sorts of wires and things. I've heard from others that it can be difficult to sleep during these tests. Hopefully I won't have that problem and they can get a good diagnosis.

I'll be updating my blog with the experience and results as they come in. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Busy at work

I have been busy for the past month preparing for a seven day workshop at work which just concluded this past Friday. The workshop was for our ITM Business Consultant program that started this year. I am one of three consultants that is helping to direct the program as we get started and this workshop was the first to begin teaching the methods and tools we will use.

I was responsible for coordinating the workshop which included attendees from Germany and Asia. There was a lot to do including hotel and conference room arrangements, meals, and evening activities as well as coordinating the overall content with the providers, Michigan State and a vendor from Germany.

We started last Friday night with a welcome banquet and then started in with the classes on Saturday morning, finishing up on Friday afternoon. Most days started early in the morning and finished up with dinner around 6:00 pm. We went to the Palace for the Pistons basketball game one night to break up the routine. Most of the attendees from Germany and Asia had never been to an NBA game before so it was a treat for them.

My off season training basically came to a halt for the past week, unless you count 12 ounce curls as weight training. We did a lot of training using this method. Their last night here saw us hitting several of the local establishments, capping off the night at JD's Key club, a dueling piano bar. It also happened to be date night at the bar, the U of M frats had asked out their girlfriends and charted two big buses so they wouldn't have to worry about driving back home. Good thing they did, most probably couldn't have found their cars. The girls were dressed up in party dresses with low cut back and fronts; in their inebriated state it made for quite a scene. The German visitors seemed to enjoy the show.

I did get out for a few hours on the bike Saturday and today. I was able to hit up the local trails and back roads. At Addison Oaks I was the first one on the trails; it's always a treat to have undisturbed snow to ride through. The weather looks like it will not be very good for riding so I guess it's back on the trainer.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

April in November

These past few days have seemed more like spring than the prelude to winter. The warm and generally sunny weather drew people outside all weekend for a multitude of reasons. Many of my neighbors took the opportunity to finish their yard work or put up Christmas decorations. Fortunately I had my yard done weeks ago and the few outside decorations can wait until closer to Christmas. That meant I had plenty of time to do other things including riding.

I managed to ride all four days of the holiday break, at least two to three hours on each day except Thursday. On Friday the rail trails were wet on top and the mud coated the bike with a grey, cement looking coating. I ended up getting back on the roads through Stony and then the back roads home. At least the dirt roads were in fairly decent shape.

Saturday's ride was over to Addison Oaks to join the trail coordinator, Paul Bailey, on a lap with some out of town guests that he was showing around the trails. Paul puts a ton of work into the trails and every fall he uses a blower to remove the leaves from the trail to allow it to dry faster. It works, the trail was about 95% dry. It was probably in even better shape today.

Today I met up with six others to ride over to the cyclocross race at Bloomer. All of us except one were on SS's but we won't mention any names Mark. The group makes up most of the NOSS members, the North Oakland Single Speeders. Just a bunch of guys from mainly Lake Orion and Oxford that get together to ride and have fun. Of course most of them ride SS's. I do ride a SS on occasion but because I'm the oldest they let me ride anyway. That or they want me for my Hammer connection.

It turned out that one member of our group, Jay Jones, decided to enter the race on his SS MTB. We had fun cheering Jay on and watching him pass geared cyclocross bikes that were better suited for the course than his bike was. Some of our group had never been to a 'cross race before and were impressed with the race. I think some of them be entering one next year to try it out.

Now that this holiday is over it's back to work and probably onto the trainer. Cold and wet is coming our way and that means it's back to the basement and Spinervals or just spinning. When the weather cooperates I'll be back outside but it may be awhile.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey day in Michigan doesn't get much better than this, weather wise. The high today was in the mid fifties with sunny skies. For the first time in many years I was able to make the annual Turkey Roll at Pontiac Lake. I have been cooking the turkey the past several years so I couldn't make the ride. This year though my son worked until 11:00 in the morning so we scheduled a later meal.

With the ride starting at 9:30, the ground was still mostly frozen and just starting to get greasy in some spots exposed to the sun. This year had a record turnout for sure, the nice weather really brought out a crowd. After not riding much the past couple of weeks my legs could really feel the burn, even at the relatively slower pace.

Part of the pain may have been due to my time in the fitness center yesterday. I was testing for my 1 rep max in the leg press. I wanted to see where I am now compared to after I am done with the Compex strength program. Just that little bit of heavy lifting has me walking like a much older man, especially going down stairs.

I don't plan on fighting any of the store traffic over the weekend, besides I prefer to shop online. Speaking of internet sales, I sold some of my bike stuff on eBay this week including a frame and fork so I'm well on my way to funding my next bike, the Cannondale Caffeine 29'er.

With the nice weather forecast for the next couple of days and not having to work I hope to get in some longer rides. Maybe that will allow me to eat a little more turkey and pumpkin pie.

The dogs were as tired as we were after eating a good dinner.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A House Divided

This is getting to be too much. Another big game and another loss. We have a divided camp here, my older son and I rooting for Michigan and my wife and younger son are Ohio State fans. Way back it used to be a fun game but not the past several years. We have been hosting a game party with my parents travelling up from Ohio (he's a U of M grad) and a lot of my son's friends. One of them brings a projector and we have the perfect wall in the living room for showing the game. In spite of the outcome it is still a good time. I thought that the death of Bo might be enough to put Michigan over the top. I don't know what happened to Michigan's defense but Ohio was definitely the better team yesterday.

At least I got to spend some time with my parents, taking them out to dinner on Friday night and then shopping Saturday morning at both some new and old places that I thought they would like to see. One of them was Whole Foods in Rochester. While there we found out that a store will be opening next spring down by my parents. A manager even gave my mom a jar of jelly for free just for stopping by from out of town.

For the past week we have had some new members of the household running around. We picked up two dogs from the pound, one last week and then one early this week. We spaced them out to give our current dog a chance to adapt. We were concerned that she may not like having another dog(s) around since it has been several years since we last had two dogs. The first one we picked up is about 4.5 months old and is a beagle/lab mix. We were lucky that it was already housebroken and got it used to its crate from day one. The older dog didn't really want anything to do with it at first but now enjoys playing with the pup.

The second dog we got is a two year old black lab, or at least mainly lab. He's a big one, weighing 90 pounds. At first I thought he would be a real handful but it was just excess energy from being at the pound. Someone had worked with him as he knows most of the basic commands. Unfortunately we don't know what his name was so he is getting used to the new name we have given him. The pup took to him right away but the older dog has been more reserved. She seems to have some maternal instinct kicking in since she will growl if she thinks the black lab is getting too rough with the puppy.

Meal times are definitely exciting along with the arrival of any of the family members. Lots of happy tag wagging but it makes it hard to get in the door. The black lab has gotten out a few times and we have been fortunate to round him up in the neighbor's yard. Today I plan on looking for an electronic fence to help control the two new dogs. We have never had a problem with the older one other than chasing a few squirrels into the neighbors but she always comes right back when called. I'm sure Christmas will be interesting. We have an artificial tree, I hope it doesn't get "watered" for us.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Reflections on the past season

Today I went for my first ride since last Sunday, I had been staying off the bike on purpose for a while now that the racing season is over. A week is not really a long time but when you have been riding almost every day since March it seems like an eternity. Tomorrow the off-season training officially begins; days of weights, Compex and other assorted workouts. Bike time will be limited to fun rides until the on-bike portion of the training begins next year.

I have been planning next season already, well actually I started earlier this year as the 2007 race dates have become published. I want to do more of the 100 mile races as this format seemed to be the most fun. It's a long enough race to make it special but you usually don't do multiple laps like you do in a 12 hour event. Or at least the laps are longer. I'm not sure if I'll do a solo 24 hour again but I would like to try it on a team, I haven't done that before.

The local XC races are getting a little stale although they did put in a new venue this year and have an old one back for next. I just can't seem to get as excited about racing for an hour and a half to two hours when you could be racing somewhere else for 10-12 hours. If the race costs are too expensive though I guess I'll be hitting up the local scene again.

This past year was fairly successful in terms of results, I managed to win my class title in the MMBA Championship Point Series, 3rd in the Fun Promotions Endurance Series, and finished second in both of the National Ultra Endurance MTB races I entered. I even managed to win first overall at the 24 hours of Drummond Island, including having more laps than the teams. I accomplished most of the goals I had set at the beginning of the season. Next year's plans are still up in the air but hopefully I can build on what I learned this year.

One thing that will change it that the coach I have been using the past few years has said that he will no longer be performing that role. It is time for him to concentrate on other things for a while. I'm going to miss his advice, his training plans and guidance were a big reason for may success over the past few years. I found that I pushed harder in training when someone else was looking at my results. I may sing on with another coach or I may just use my own plan, based on what has worked in the past.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Where's the Ice, Man?

The Iceman cameth and wenteth yesterday. In spite of all the weather forecasts predicting multiple inches of snow, the race course conditions were almost perfect. No snow on the ground and the previous days' small snow had melted which helped to firm up the sand. The sand pits were still around, just not as many perhaps. The weather was cold and cloudy with light snow falling later in the race.

Between the Kalkasa to Traverse City Iceman race and the shorter Slush Cup race held near the finish, almost 2500 racers had signed up to compete. Or at least ride, as the end of the year event brings out many for whom this may be the only event they do all year. In my class alone there were 123 finishers.

Once again I had set up the Hammer Nutrition tent at the expo the day before the race and this year my son flew in from Montana to man the booth and offer expert advice on the Hammer products as well as race the next day. The booth was pretty busy all day and it was tiring being on your feet most of the day and talking to people. Not exactly the best way to prepare for a race.

I decided at the last minute to take advantage of the Cannondale rep's offer to test race the new Caffeine 29'er that will be available later this year. The 29'er market is expanding and seemed to have a large following of users to the extent that it almost seems like a cult. The 29'er with larger wheels is supposed to make riding a lot better.

I had never ridden a 29'er before so I thought this would be a great way to test out what everyone had been saying about them. The bike worked great in the sand, able to roll over most sections where others were floundering. I was able to keep traction on the hills that others were walking. It also handled the two small sections of singletrack much better than I anticipated.

The bike in stock form is a little portly for serious racing, probably coming in around 29 pounds in the size large I used. I could feel the weight when accelerating and when climbing. I also had continued issues with the seatpost slipping using the quick release collar until I finally got out an Allen wrench and snugged it down without using the QR lever.

The race turned into more of a challenge than I had anticipated but in spite of my relatively poor performance compared to if I had been riding my own bike, but I still would have finished 10th in the Sport class so I'm glad I made the switch to Expert. I'm also glad to have had a chance to test ride the Cannondale. Thanks go to them for making it happen. Thanks also to all who stopped by the Hammer booth and said hello and/or bought product. It looks like we will be back again next year and sales were good enough that my son should be able to make the trip again.

The headless rider at the entrance to Timber Ridge Campground, at the finish.

With our "Booth Babe" Shari

Monday, October 30, 2006

Daylight savings time

The past three days we have had some downright cold and windy days for training. About enough time to get acclimated and ready for the winter, like it or not. And then today it is almost 40 degrees warmer and sunny. As if we had one last reprieve before Mother Nature socks it to us. It was nice to ride without getting bundled up.

The ending of daylight savings time makes it difficult to get in much riding in the daylight. Today when I got home from work I had to decide if I was going to ride or rake leaves. I rode. I did get back in time to do some raking. I figured that it won't be nice out for much longer and the leaves will still be there tomorrow. Actually I hope they aren't. Maybe we will get some more strong winds and they will all blow away.

Raking leaves isn't really what I do now since I bought a big leaf blower last year. Blowing the leaves is much easier except for days like today when the wind was taking the leaves in the wrong direction.

In addition to the early darkness the time change has really confused our dog. You can set a clock by her stomach. She has been known to wake people up when it's close to feeding time in the morning. Same thing in the evening and for her treat, she starts getting ready for them, knowing the time is close. Now she is confused as to why she has to wait an hour before she can eat. Her stomach is still on Daylight Savings time. It probably won't take her long to adjust though.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Iceman - getting ready

The Iceman is now less than a week away and literally thousands of racers are doing their last bit of training. For some it may also be their first bit of training. With close to 2,000 racers many are not in it for the competition but for the "event". This race has taken on a life of its own, there are certainly a lot more races that are longer, tougher, or even more enjoyable to ride for the variety of the trail. But the Iceman has grown to the point that it sells out within a few months after registration opens. For many it's an annual event and marks the end of the season. For others it's just another excuse to party.

I haven't raced the Iceman in several years but last year attended the expo to run the Hammer tent. This year Jason is coming back to help with the tent. I decided I may as well race since I'll be there. After thinking about it I decided to sign up for the Expert 45-54 class. I will be lucky to finish in the top 30 but at least I should be done earlier than starting in Sport and shouldn't have the hundreds of racers in front of me. Instead I'll be looking over my shoulder for the SS class which starts 5 minutes after me. Jason is racing SS so it will be interesting to see how long I can hold him off.

I've managed to get out on the bike Friday through Sunday and think that over the course of the past three days managed to experience most of what you can expect at Iceman, at least as far as the weather goes. No sand to practice on but at least I have been able to get used to the cold.

Both Friday and Saturday were rainy and cold, in the 30's. Then to make it worse the wind picked up during the last half of the ride yesterday. Fortunately I have decent riding clothes so I wasn't too cold, except for my fingers. Today a couple of team members and one of their friends came over and joined me for about 2.5 hours on the back roads. The wind was super strong and made even the flat roads seem like we were climbing. We had a couple of good long intervals to make the spirited ride even better. I got to show them one of our "special" hills that they had never ridden before. They are looking forward to more of these rides next spring.

The weather forecast for Iceman is calling for a chance of snow showers every day starting on Tuesday. I don't know if there will be any accumulation and it may help to pack the sand down and make it faster. The lows the night before the race will be in the 20's so it may even be frozen for a while. I plan on running a 1x9 gearing, using a 42t ring. I hope we don't get too much snow or it will be a struggle. I might take another bike with a full set of gears just in case.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Back to school

I stayed at my parents in Ohio Friday night as my aunt was visiting them from Arizona and I hadn't seen her in a couple of years. She is an amazing lady, travelling all over the world to help with various ministry projects. What makes it even more remarkable is that she had polio at an early age and has used crutches and a wheelchair most of her life.

Of course I brought a bike with me, I have shared some of my rides in Ohio on this blog before. This time I decided to ride down to Kent where I had gotten my college degree. The adjacent town of Stow is where we had lived before we moved to Michigan so I rode through there as well.

The area has continued to add rail trails; most of them intersect and you can find your way to Cleveland or Akron almost without getting on the roads. The trails I was on in the Kent/Stow area were about 100% paved but the recent wet weather kept the speeds in check due to the slippery leaves covering the path, particularly in the corners.

Riding around the Kent State campus I was reminiscing about my time there and enjoying the fall colors when I realized it seemed like a ghost town. As I rode near the student union I passed a couple of coeds and I asked them if it was always so dead on a Saturday. The replied that it was too early for most students to be up, after all, it was only abut 11:00 am. I guess I had forgotten how late we slept in.

The Cuyahoga river runs through downtown Kent.

The Kent State University front campus.

The business school building where I spent a lot of time

The local bike trails

Certainly can't go fast. Heavy rains had caused the river to flood; time to find a different route.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Slow as molassess in January

Well maybe not January but I was certainly slow on yesterday's ride. I had done a hard ride on Wednesday on what was my rigid SS, but I had converted it to a 1x9 to see how the lighter weight would affect my set test route time. Even with tired legs the rigid was a little faster. It may be the bike I use for Iceman, I don't think I need all the weight of the full suspension. If I get to use the Cannondale demo 29'er I've heard that in stock form it is pretty heavy also but the bigger wheels may help make up for it.

Yesterday my legs actually felt pretty good but I did not seem to be able to make the bike go fast without more effort than usual. I was down 2-4 MPH for the same HR. The back roads were kind of soft but I had the same power loss on the drier rail trail as well. I stopped to spin the wheels to see if they were OK and the brakes were dragging a little but not enough to cause the way I was feeling. I figured I must have been more fatigued than I had thought so I ended the ride early.

Once back at the house I checked the tire pressure and found that the tires were in their low 20's. Being tubeless I hadn't really noticed when leaving the house that they were running low but I remember thinking how smooth the ride was. I thought it was because I was on a fully rigid bike the day before and now I was riding a full suspension. I guess I hadn't used that wheelset for a while. Maybe the tire pressure would have been OK for sand or snow but not on the roads. I'm glad to know that the cause of feeling slower on the bike was not all me, I just got in more of a resistance ride than I had intended.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Better weather

It was great to get nicer weather for a weekend ride. I didn't ride Saturday, instead I spent most of the day doing yard work. About half or better of the leaves are down so we got those raked and bagged as well as clearing the mess the utility company made the other day when they worked on restoring power. A lot of limbs were cut and thrown on our property so we had to cut, bundle, and tie them for trash pick up.

Today I waited for it to warm up a little before heading out to do a hard ride, basically the first half of my hill loop at steady pace. This week I did it on the Scalpel, probably the bike I will use for Iceman. I managed to better my fastest time but was tuckered out at the end. I was able to keep up a pretty good speed on the flats and downhills but I think I may have been a little slower when climbing than on the SS. The Scalpel is heavier and the suspension costs a little in efficiency when climbing.

I may try to turn the SS into a 1x9 and compare times next week. The SS is completely rigid but the Iceman race isn't that rough of a race. The which bike to ride decision may be a moot point anyway as there is a chance I may get to race on a demo Cannondale 29'er. In stock form it's kind of heavy but the 29 inch wheels should help in the sand. I hope to build a new bike next year using the 29 frame as a starting point.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Auntie Em , Auntie Em!

Dang, the wind was strong today. At least it wasn't snowing like yesterday. The wind had partially dried most of the dirt roads to the consistency of velcro mud, you can see it's kind of wet and hear your tires sticking to it as you roll over it. Not much splatters up, it just slows you down.

There were several places on the roads where branches had fallen on the road and it made me kind of nervous. I was expecting to be riding along and get hit by falling debris. Later in the ride it started to rain/sleet a little but not too bad. The wind at times would catch me and try to push me over. Heading back into it gave me interval training while just trying to keep moving.

I hope to get in a longer ride Sunday when the weather finally breaks.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Iceman in October

Wow! In the 70's on Sunday and 34 this afternoon! The snow started up this morning and combined with the howling wind, it made for almost white out conditions. At our place it stuck to the ground and I heard that the farther north you went the more there was on the ground.

We were fortunate that we didn't lose power during the day, we had lost it last night around 11:00 when the transformer on our back property line blew. My wife and son saw and heard it but I was asleep and didn't know the power had gone out. I found out about 2:00 am when I woke up to what I thought was really loud snoring but in fact was the chain saws of the utility crew clearing away some limbs around the transformer. The power was restored around 5:00 am, right around when I normally wake up so it worked out fine.

I figured the weather was perfect for preparing for the Iceman race next month so I dug out my cold weather gear and headed out the door after work. The wind and snow made it very difficult to even see and the snow hurt because it was the harder corn snow. I rode over on the park road since the back roads were a mess and super muddy. The park road is paved and has little traffic but I had to be careful in spots because of the wet leaves making the corners slippery. About the time I was close to being done the sun came out and then it was just cold and windy.

It took a while to get acclimated to the cold, my face and fingers were the coldest. I forgot how much faster you tire out when riding in frigid temperatures, the workout seemed harder than normal. The nice part about riding in these conditions is how good it feels when you are back home and can take a shower to warm up. Once you sit down after that you are very relaxed in the heat of the house and it's very easy to just doze offffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Doughnut ride

As this morning's heavy fog started to burn off, the warmth of the sun caused the trees to slowly start to release their leaves. I sat watching them and thought about the yardwork to come raking them up and the winter that was not too far away. We have quite a few large trees in our yard and since there is no leaf pickup it means bagging them up for collection. We will normally have 80-100 bags each year.

My legs were tired from yesterday's ride but the temperatures were supposed to get up in to the 70's later in the day so I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy the colors while they were still on the trees. Before I went riding I thought I had better take care of some winterizing around the house. After caulking and prepping window trim for painting I was ready to ride.

I headed into Bald Mountain and the back roads. My ultimate destination was the Paint Creek cider mill located next to the Paint Creek trail. I had ridden past it so many times this fall without stopping that I thought today would be the day for those sugared doughnuts and some cider. No need for hot cider today though.

At the mill I spotted newlyweds Bernie and Niki who had ridden up from Rochester. They were heading to another nearby cider mill because the Paint Creek mill was super crowded. It always is on the weekends, many people come out to enjoy a ride on the trail and get their cider and doughnuts. The mill also used to host a great restaurant but it closed and the owner turned the whole property over to the township. Thankfully the cider mill continues to operate in the fall.

I followed Bernie and Niki up to the other mill where there was still a line but not a long one. They bought a jug of cider and a half dozen doughnuts which we shared while listening to a couple of musicians. Thanks Bernie and Niki. This mill happens to serve unpasteurized cider. Seems funny to mention that when I was eating sugar doughnuts anyway.

Tomorrow is supposed to be another nice one before the rain and colder weather comes in. it is appropriate that this Friday is the 13th and they are saying a chance of snow. What a difference a week makes.

Some pictures from Bald Mountain

Paint Creek Cider Mill

Bernie and Niki

Musicians at Goodison Cider Mill