Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another way to enjoy the trails

Yesterday Sandy and I drove up to the XC Ski Headquarters shop and trails in Roscommon to get in some skiing. I had given Sandy a new ski package for Christmas and with no snow by us, we drove the 2+ hours north to find the snow and groomed trails. The area had received about 6" of snow overnight and the tracks were set with perfect conditions.

Sandy had the new type of boots and bindings, new to us anyway. I still use the older 3 pin bindings and long skinny skis. Sandy's boots had snapped at the toe years ago so she hasn't been out since, the older boots are very hard to find any more. She noticed after we were done that the new boots had made her ankles sore and a blister had started to develop on one heel. So we will probably go back to REI and check out a different pair or try another store altogether. The XC Ski HQ shop has a much better selection.

I usually try to get out a few times each year. I started xc skiing almost 40 years ago on wooden, waxable skis so the new equipment is great for getting people out on the trails. It eliminates the yearly job of prepping the base of the skis and the daily ( or hourly) decision of which wax to use. Those most serious about performance are still using waxable skis.

We were out about two hours which is just long enough to get comfortable on the skis and for the muscles to let you know that they have been working. The trails are fairly flat to gently rolling, only one or two hills and they are short. We plan on heading back up to the area if we don't receive much snow down here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Looking for new team members

The Cannondale Midwest Racing team is looking for new members for the 2008 season.

Every year people come and people go and this year we have an uncommon situation - the CMR team has openings for new team members! We are looking for a select few to fill out the team for 2008 and we would like to hear from you. If you are a mountain bike racer living in Michigan, Ohio or Indiana and are interested in being a part of one of the (IMHO) best race teams in the midwestern US, we want to know. See the CMR Team web site for more information at

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Snow? What snow?

It didn't take long for the big snow we had to pretty much melt or wash away with the warmer temperatures, rain and high winds over the last few days. Left behind is all the crud and mud. The weather forecast is calling for some light snow over the next 24 hours so maybe we will have a white Christmas after all.

The warmer weather did allow me to get outside on the bike for a few hours yesterday. I stayed on the pavement and did a tempo ride at a certain wattage for a prescribed time. It was interesting to see how much the power can fluctuate on hills, both up and down. Today was back on the trainer for more of the same. Tomorrow I hope to hit the gym before finishing off my shopping.

We decorated some of the Christmas cookies today and I ate my first ones of the holiday season. Unfortunately there are plenty more to both eat and frost so I am going to have to be careful not to indulge too much.

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree and just relax on the couch listening to Christmas music. Every year I seem to add to my collection of holiday music and I added a few more this year as well. I have also found the Internet radio stations to provide some interesting programming.

I probably won't post again until later in the week so Merry Christmas to everyone.

One of the dogs had the right idea, snoozing on the couch listening to the music.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Starting to look a lot like Christmas

We had our first major snow of the winter today, about 8" of fine snow and strong winds. It was the perfect day for finishing up the Christmas tree and some other decorating around the house. I wanted to get in some xc skiing but the wind was whipping pretty good so I just stayed inside until I went out to clear the driveway. Thank goodness for the snowblower I bought a few years ago. It made the job a lot easier but I am supposed to be in the gym tomorrow so I guess I could have gotten in my workout today by shoveling.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Whereas and therefore

"Whereas, the athlete is a competitive cyclist who competes in competitive cycling events throughout the world."

I received my Cannondale sponsorship agreement in the mail on Monday. Ten pages of legalese and do's and dont's and expectations. A lot of it is similar to what we have used for the Cannondale Midwest Team in terms of expectations of the riders; behavior, use of product, number of races, confidentiality, etc.

There are a few clauses in there that I am going to get some clarification on to make sure I am in compliance and to help plan my schedule for next year. For instance, I didn't see anything in there about using the corporate plane to get me to some of those competitive events throughout the world.

It has been interesting to train using wattage instead of just heart rate. There is definitely a learning curve on my end to understand all the terms and interpreting the graphs and data available but the coach is an expert on it. While using power as a training tool has been around for awhile it has been used mainly by road racers. It is slowly catching on for the mtb racing community. Part of the reason thqt it's not as widely used by mountain bikers is the difficulty to use on a bike that has disc brakes. At least in an economical (an oxymoron term for power meters) sense.

While I can use my Power Meter on my 'cross bike, I purchased a steel framed 29" wheel mtb so that I can use the power wheel on there as well. I have the bike set up dimensionally as close to my racing bikes as possible. This should allow me to do some training and testing both on and off the road without losing too much of the feel for my regular bikes. Especially since most of my training will probably not be on my racing bikes.

Here is a good blog of someone who trains with power on a mtb.

Probably the best source of info about using power

Monday, December 10, 2007

Back in the groove

This past week was spent just trying to get back into the swing of things after being off work for a week and a half. Not too much work left this year before we get a break for the Christmas holidays.

I have been following the coach's plan that includes being in the gym twice a week and on the bike most days. Each bike workout had a specific target of time and intensity. Right now it is fairly mild since we are just getting started. I have had to use the trainer all week since I get home so late so I wanted to get outside and ride on Saturday .

I managed to leave fairly early and had a two hour ride scheduled with a one hour steady effort. I knew the back roads by me were still mostly snow and ice covered but I planned on being careful plus getting on to the rail trail early on. Less than two miles into the ride I hit an icy patch with ruts and the front end slid out and down I went. No real damage, mainly just bruises.

The rest of the ride was uneventful but there were a few places that were slick. The rail trail was rough in spots from the footprints and frozen tracks. I did find some clear roads later in the ride.

We were supposed to get some freezing rain with an ice build up yesterday. I wanted to be prepared so I went out and got gas for the generator, snow blower, and kerosene for the back up heater. Of course the nasty weather failed to materialize so you can thank me for preventing it.

Jason has been posting daily updates on his blog and has some pictures of the family on Big Mountain. Saturday was opening day of ski season there and they took Oliver up to go skiing. It looks like the weather was perfect on top, you can see Glacier Park in the background.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Back from Montana

Sandy and I flew out to Montana last Saturday to see our grandson, Oliver Scott Kinley. Oh, and to see Jason and Emily as well. Emily's mother, Suzie was also visiting, having arrived earlier but able to stay for a few days while we were there and attend Oliver's baptism on the evening we flew in. Father Casimer was gracious enough to drive from Spokane to perform the ceremony.

What can you say about you own grandchildren that hasn't been said by probably every other grandparent in the world? Oliver is the cutest ever. At only 4 weeks old he is still incredibly small but we could notice a change in his size just in the week we were there. He gained a pound during the week, or 10% of his total.

We babysat Oliver one evening to give the kids a night out on the town. It was the first time they were able to get away for an extended period of time. Oliver slept most of the time they were away.
Every morning Sandy and I would be the first ones up and we would walk into town and have coffee at on of the local shops. Kalispell is bigger than Whitefish where Jason used to live but the downtown still has a lot of local shops. We were able to do most of our Christmas shopping for the Montana family in the small stores.

During our stay we got to see some of the outlying area that we didn't see on our first visit a few years ago. While there wasn't much snow on the ground in town there was some as you got into the higher elevations. And the surrounding mountains were covered as well.

We took a drive into Glacier National Park but could only go in about 9 miles since the roads were closed beyond that. The park was beautiful with all the snow on the peaks and the ground. If we had more time we could have snowshoed into some of the other sections of the park.

Whitefish was decorated for Christmas and looked just like the typical ski towns you see pictured on the Internet. With less people the town has a very cozy feel to it, especially since the ski area isn't open yet so there weren't too many visitors. I also stopped by Hammer Nutrition's office and had a nice visit with the staff.

We did snowshoe part way up Big Mountain ski area. It was the first time I have snowshoed although I got Sandy a pair for Christmas a few years ago. Oliver was strapped to the front of Jason and seemed to enjoy the hike, sleeping through most of it.

We were sorry when it was time to leave, knowing we wouldn't see the family again for several months. The trip out west did confirm how much we like the area, perhaps we might move out there if the opportunity would present itself.
A lot more photos can be seen here
Oliver in his snowman suit
Downtown Whitefish with Big Mountain in the background
Summit Prepartory School where Jason and Emily work
Glacier National Park
Snowshoeing up Big Mountain, Whitefish Lake in the background
Oliver was with Jason
All of us at the top of the climb

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cannondale National Team - I made it!

I got a call today from the manager of the Cannondale national mountain bike racing team inviting me to join the team for 2008. I was thrilled to say the least and enthusiastically accepted the offer. More information and blog updates will follow as the contract and details are known. I do know there is an impressive list of sponsors signed up to support the team next year.

I am grateful to Canondale for the opportunity and look forward to next year. My overall plans for the '08 schedule won't really change much but I will be working harder since the bullseye on my back just got bigger.

Information about the 2007 team can be found here. Maybe my nickname should be Gramps?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Today was a relatively quiet Thanksgiving. Just Sandy, Greg and I to try and eat our way through a 14 pound turkey with all the trimmings. As has been the practice for the past several years, I was in charge of cooking the turkey. Unlike the fellow above I knew where mine was hiding, having put it in the brine to soak the night before.

The day started pretty early as my work pager went off about 5:00 am. This was kind of a freak occurrence since I usually don't have my pager in the bedroom, I'm on vacation for the next week and wouldn't normally have it with me, and for the most part Chrysler is shut down for the next four days. I managed to fall back asleep for about an hour or so.

This morning was the annual Turkey Day ride at Pontiac Lake but we got about two inches of wet snow overnight. Combined with yesterday's rain I knew the trails would be pretty sloppy and I didn't want to mess up the trails or my bike.

Since I wasn't going on the ride and I was up early, Sandy convinced me to go with her to church. unfortunately we got there just after the service was over. I guess she had the time confused with yesterday's service. After getting home we discovered we needed a few things for the dinner so off we went to the grocery store. Fortunately it wasn't very crowded.

Dinner was excellent as usual and I tried not to eat too much. One of the things that helped was that I asked Sandy not to make any pies this year. I love pumpkin pie as well as other types but I want to avoid putting on too much weight over the holidays. I have a hard time staying away from the bad stuff it is available. Better to not have the temptation to begin with.

With the snow sticking around all day and I elected to spend some time on the rollers instead of trying to ride outside at all. One of our team sponsors is SportCrafter rollers. Team member Peter Colan is the owner and these rollers can be bought through him and he also supplies some of the big name roller companies with his products but different badging. I rode the mountain bike with cross tires so they made quite a racket. I had to turn on the closed captioning on the TV.

Tomorrow is a big sale over at Cycletherapy and I plan on working in the afternoon. Then I will take a week off to just relax and get in some time on the bike, I hope, along with some time in the gym.

In the spirit of the holiday I will add some cartoons that my dad sent me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Training with a plan using FPTS coaching

Like a lot of racers in North America, the month of November is a time to take some time off the bike, reflect on the past season and plan for next year. At some point though it's time to get back into training. Although the first race may be 4 and a half months away or more a lot of what is done over the winter and early spring will shape the entire racing season to come.

In years past I have benefited from using a coach who was also a member of our team. His training plans and guidance pushed me to successive series wins in the MMBA CPS as well as victories in the endurance races. Due to work and family commitments he was not able to coach this year and I was left to my own plans.

Although I did have some success this year I felt that I did not reach my potential and my training lacked a focus and the proper schedule of intensity required to really be competitive. While a lot of racers are able to be highly competitive based on their own plans or maybe just genetics, I have found that I respond better to having a plan done for me and being expected to report my results.

After doing some searching I decided to engage Terry Ritter from Full Potential Training Services, or FPTS, to coach me for the coming year. There are a lot of coaches out there in the market, some very well known and have large coaching services and well known clientele. I wanted someone local or at least within a reasonable distance from me so that we could actually meet. I think it is important for the athlete and coach to get to know each other and develop an understanding of each others needs and methods.

I have known Terry for a few years and worked with him as part of the MMBA CPS committee. I am looking forward to his coaching plans and advice. I'm sure it may take a little while for us to get our plans refined as we optimize them for my needs and fitness levels. Testing and evaluations should be taking place over the winter.

For now though I will be heading back into the gym for weight training as well as beginning to spend time on the bike again. I will be using a new training method this year that I am excited about.

We don't have the 2008 race schedule finalized yet. I am waiting for a few details to be firmed up and then I will post it. For now though it looks like I will be doing some out of state travelling again.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Four years now we have held a Michigan vs. OSU party at our house and Michigan has lost every time. Living in a divided household means that the loser is in for a long year. For me that has been four long years. I've learned not to make any bets though.

The good thing is that it brings my parents north from Cleveland to visit. Of course once they cross the Ohio/Michigan border my dad put the Michigan hats and things on the back shelf of the car so people will see he is a Michigan fan. My parents also usually bring something for each side of the rivalry to put up. You can see some examples from the pictures of the decorations we have accumulated over the years.

This year we did not have the luxury of the projection system so we congregated around two tv's instead. Usually the adults were in one room and the kids in another.
After the game my son and his friends headed to the basement to play some of the Wii video games.

Getting ready to eat at half time

My wife looks kind of smug after the game

Some of the gang playing video games

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Iceman Goeth

Not a very original title but appropriate. There will probably be a lot of blogs out there with similar titles after more than 2500 racers took part in the annual Iceman Cometh race yesterday.

The race course probably had the best trail conditions ever. The snow and rain the week prior to the race meant the predominately sandy course was well packed. The race has always been referred to as a road race on dirt since the course is not very technical and is mostly dirt roads and wide snowmobile and XC ski trails.

Early in the morning the temperature was 26 degrees but the sun was up with no wind so it felt fairly warm compared to previous years when the wind would be blowing. We got to the start area in enough time that I could warm up some on the bike and check out the first few mile or so of trail.

I lined up about a quarter of the way back in my wave, Expert men 45-54. We also started with the Expert women so there were a total of over 160 racers waiting to go in our wave. Since I was on a single speed I expected to get shelled out the back early on the flat sections. The fastest guys would be able to motor aways from me.

Once our race started I managed to stay about in the same position where I lined up, passing a few and getting passed. As we spread out I was surprised that I was keeping up with most of the geared riders around me on the flats and sometimes passing them. Every once in a while I would look bike and I would have a pace line behind me. I was expecting them to be leading the line, not me.

On the shorter or less steep hills I would be passing people since I had no choice but to charge the hills or turn the pedals over in the big gear I was using. Occasionally I was barely moving by the time I got to the top but was the usually able to rapidly accelerate. There were about five times the hills became too much for me to climb and I was forced to get off and run (or walk) up them while those with gears would crawl by on their bikes.

Many times I was able to pass by just pointing the big 29" wheels off to the side of the trail or the deeper sand and just roll on by. It was exactly one year ago in last year's race that I had a chance to try the big wheel bikes for the first time. It convinced me that bigger was better in mountain biking, especially for Michigan trails. All year I have raced the Cannondale F29 in a geared version. My new Cannondale F29 1FG single speed performed flawlessly in the race. It was everything I hoped for in a SS bike.

My end results did not get me under 2 hours but close, I ended up with a 2:01:41 which was good for 41st out of 126 finishers. I cut off 29 places and 15 minutes from last year which saw almost the same number of finishers. I have to remember though that the course was about 5-6 minutes faster this year. But considering I was on a SS I am satisfied. And if I had raced in the single speed class I would have finished 24th out of 104.

On a downer note I aggravated my Achilles tendon injury that I picked up last week. After riding last Sunday I noticed that my right Achilles was very sore, to the point where it hurt to walk. I could see and feel the swelling so I tried icing it during the week and it seemed to help some but it was still painful to walk, especially down stairs. I could feel it when riding yesterday but it wasn't going to keep me from racing. After the race I could tell it had swelled up again. I guess the only thing now is to give it some time off.

I went back to the finish later in the day to check out the pro finish. Local racer Mike Simonson could not repeat as the winner but he did finish a close second. Kelli Emmet won the women's pro class for the third year in a row. National mountain biking legend Ned Overend finished 6th in the Men's pro class. Not bad for a 52 year old guy.

The Friday before the race is the big vendor expo and for the third year in a row I had the Hammer Nutrition tent there. And as in the past years the tent was slammed with people asking questions and buying product. I am grateful for the help I got from Robin, Shari, and Joel, my Cannondale Midwest team mates who helped cover the tent during its busiest times. It was a long day, starting with setting up the booth at 8:00 am and tearing it down about 9:00 pm. Most of that time I was on my feet so my legs were very tired that night.

Speaking of our team, we normally reserve a few condos at the Grand Traverse Resort for the weekend and have a team dinner on Friday night. I guess when Robin and Shari checked in they found that neither of the condos had an oven, an essential tool for the dinner. Shari managed to get our lodging changed to a house overlooking the golf course that had 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, a jacuzzi tub and a pool table in the basement. We have decided to try for this place every year from now on. The extra space was very welcome. Overall the entire weekend went very well; from a persona, team, and Hammer Nutrition view. Thanks to everyone involved in making it happen.

Look for an update soon with news of the 2008 season plans.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Anniversary and Getting Ready for Iceman

Saturday was our 29th wedding anniversary and the weather was almost exactly the same as it was back then. Sunny and mild in the afternoon. Time has certainly flown by since our wedding, triumphs and heartaches, success and failures, but we have endured all and our commitment to each other is even stronger. And now we are blessed to have our first grandchild.

We went up to Frankenmuth on Saturday afternoon, we haven't been there for a few years and we used to go around our anniversary when we first moved to Michigan. We stopped at Bronner's of course and the parking lot was jammed. I don't remember ever being there when it was so crowded. We actually had to hunt for a parking place. Inside it was almost as bad so we only went through part of it and plan to go back at a later time. We did get a chance to see Wally Bronner, the founder. I didn't realize he was still around and active in the store.

Frankenmuth was almost as crowded but at least the crowd is spread out. We didn't buy much this trip but we did get some of the warm sugar coated almonds. Plus I took advantage of any of the free samples of various foods that some of the stores had out.

We had reservations for dinner at a place I read about on the Internet that was supposed to serve wild game such as elk, kangaroo, alligator as well as other specialties. The owner appears on a TV show and has written some cookbooks. The place is called Dixie Dave's and is right outside Birch Run.

When we pulled up to the restaurant we wondered if we had the right place, it looked like any corner bar that had seen better days. When we walked inside it wasn't much better. The interior had some stuffed animals around but was mainly a big room with bar style tables and chairs and the booth we were shown had duct tape on the vinyl seats. Paper place mats and inexpensive silverware did not add to our confidence that this would be a decent place to eat.

When we came in there was a birthday party going on for some older gentleman and they were in the midst of opening cards. While we couldn't see him we did have the pleasure? of listening to him read each card out loud. Certainly this was a different dinner entertainment than I had envisioned.

We ordered the tequila shrimp as an appetizer and Sandy ordered the elk steak and I had the elk beef tips. The food was excellent and so was the service. It just seemed out of place with the decor.

Here are some reviews and information for the place:

The Old Dixie InnAddress:The Old Dixie Inn12027 Dixie Hwy.Birch Run, MI 48415 Phone: (989)624-9349Email: Enjoy a meal of wild game, everything from alligator to zebra. French, Italian and wild game menu, casual family atmosphere. Reservations suggested on Friday and Saturday, closed Monday. Dixie Dave's wild game cookbooks available for sale. Handicap accessible. The building was built in 1934. It was one of the first bars open after the prohibition and people from Detroit would come here to drink. Dixie Dave is featured on WNEM TV-5 on Sundays on Mike Avery's Outdoor show with another of his favorite Wildgame recipes.

I managed to do a couple of rides Thursday through today, on both geared and the SS. Today was probably the last day I'll have to ride before the race so I did my climbing route on the SS using the gearing I plan for the race. It seemed OK as the two biggest hills were a struggle but that's the way its supposed to be. I could probably go a little harder but the weather up in Traverse City is calling for some snow this week but dry on Saturday. The trails may be soft in spots so an easier gear may be in order.

I'm also getting ready for the Iceman Expo where I'll be manning the Hammer Nutrition booth again. If you are up there on Friday stop by and say hi.

Jason is posting new pictures of Oliver every few days so check them out over on his blog.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend riding and golf?

With the weekend comes one of the few chances I have to ride anymore. In spite of the rain Saturday morning I managed to ride in it for about an hour and a half but stayed on the pavement.

Today was the four trail ride that some of us were planning on meeting up for. It takes in four of the local trails and the roads in between. Out regular riding group does rides similar to this all the time but this was an organized ride that was backed by the MMBA. I met Mark and Todd at 7:30 in the morning to ride to the start. There was a frost on the ground as the sun was starting to come up.

We ended up with a group of about six riders to be the first ones out of the start area and riding most of the route. once we got moving I was OK but freezing while waiting around. I have heard that they may have had as many as 100 riders out today.

Later in the day I met Mark, Todd, Chris, Jay, and his brother to play some golf in a scramble format. Out team didn't win but we had a good time. Afterward some of the guys came over to watch the 24 Solo movie and enjoy a few "refreshments".

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More pictures of our grandchild

Jason has posted pictures of Oliver on his blog. Go here

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's official, I'm a grandpa!

We got the call this afternoon from Jason that Oliver Scott Kinley, weighing in at 7 lbs 4 oz, had arrived into this world. Oliver, mom, and dad are all doing well. The baby was delivered underwater, a process I have seen on tv and is amazing to watch.

Congratulations to Emily and Jason. We are proud of you and love you all.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New ride

I have been riding and racing Cannondale bikes for several years now and have gotten rid most of my non-Cannondale mountain bikes, except one, a single speed. I have had several single speed bikes that were built from other manufacturer's frames but never a Cannondale. When they announced they were building a 29" frame SS specific bike for 2008 I immediately put it on my list for the next bike to build.

I had a frame on order since they first announced availability back in August. It sometimes takes longer to get a frame by itself, especially on hot sellers since they like to sell complete bikes. My frame finally arrived this past Thursday and I finished building it on Friday night. Saturday morning I gave it a shakedown ride and today I did 50 miles of my hill route to test the gearing I was thinking of using for Iceman.

I will probably run the SS but in my age class. The gearing I had on was a struggle on some of the hills but allowed for fast cruising on the flats. I may make the gearing a little easier, I'll have to think about it some more. The nice part about the bike is that it is identical in size to my other 29'er so fitting was relatively easy.

This week we are anxiously waiting for that phone call from Jason to tell us that he and Emily have had their baby. She is due on the 23rd so we should be getting the call any day now. I can then officially be called Grandpa! It doesn't seem that long ago that Jason was born.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bulletin Board Biker Bash and group ride

I spent Saturday out at Lakeshore park in Novi manning the Hammer tent and helping out at the Cycletherapy booth. The event was the MMBA bulletin board Biker Bash, a fall get together of mountain bikers who spend the day socializing, riding, and playing bike games. Several shops bring out bikes for the demo and the Cycletherapy booth was pretty busy all day. I had free Hammer samples and advice for those who stopped by. I also had a kerosene heater going as it was a bit chilly during the day.

I got to the park in time for an 8:00 am ride with Ernie, the owner of Cycletherapy, and several others. It was only about 36 degrees when we started but it didn't take too long to warm up on the trail. I hadn't ridden this trail in a few years so it provided a nice change from what I usually ride.

Today I got out to ride a little after 8:00 in the morning and again it was about 36 degrees but it was supposed to warm up later. I started by heading north on the back roads to ride some of the bigger hills before heading over to Stony metropark and try out some reworked singletrack. Along the way I saw quite a few deer and the when cresting a hill there were two hot air balloon just taking off and floating over the road. I wish I had my camera to get a shot of them against the sky and reflecting the early sun.

After Stony I then headed out of the park and just a short ways down the road to where a group of riders were preparing to preride a route that they want to use for a large group ride in a few weeks. We still had 19 riders at the start. I ended up leading most of the ride as I took them on an alternate route to what they had planned.

Anytime you get a large group of riders you will have people who ride at different speeds. Because this was a no drop ride, we had to be certain that everyone caught up at the major turns or intersections. This was not really a problem with our group but I can imagine if they get the 40 or 50 riders they are looking for then there may be some problems.

We ended up riding up and doing Bald Mountain and Addison Oaks before heading back down the Paint Creek Trail to the cider and doughnut stop. I turned off when we got closer to my house as it was running late.

Over all it was a good weekend to be out on a bike.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Take a walk on the Wild Side

Regular readers of my blog (both of you) may recall that I have mentioned the 12 hour race we went to in April down in Tennessee. Prior to the race Robin and I were interviewed for a public TV show. In addition, I had a camera mounted on the bike for the first lap of the race.

We found out a while back that the show has finally aired but we didn't have a copy of it until a few weeks ago. In addition to a fair amount of footage of the team and some of me on the bike, our half hour interviews were whittled down to a few lines each by Robin and myself. Oh well, hopefully our sponsors appreciate the air time.

We have the video linked on our team website. You can see it here. Robin and I will be signing autographed copies at Iceman. :-)

Monday, October 08, 2007

What month is this?

Raking up my first batch of leaves was the only thing that reminded me it was fall. Temperatures in the upper 80's with high humidity made it feel like August.

I managed to get out for a few hours early Saturday morning on the back roads with some of my riding buddies. Most of them were on singlespeeds except for one. I am waiting for my Cannondale SS frame to come in and then I may join them on a SS as well. I haven't had the chance to ride much lately so it was good to get out for more than an hour.

Sunday morning I rode for a few hours again including taking in the C cyclocross race at Stony. I raced cyclocross a few years ago but I'm not sure I want to do it again. The race season is long enough as it is. Besides, all the close by races are over with this year until the last one in December. I may travel to a few more mtb races but not a 'cross race.

Next weekend I will be at the Bulletin Board Biker Bash, an end of the year bike fest that includes bike demos, games, and just getting together with other mountain bikers. Some of the bike shops set up displays so I will be working with Cycletherapy as well as distributing some Hammer products.

The following weekend I hope to get up north for a mtb race that is only in its second year but at a venue that used to hold mtb races many years ago. I think it will be the last race before the Iceman a few weeks after that. Once again I will be representing Hammer at the Iceman expo.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Never Give Up

I thought about it all week and decided to head out to Pando for the last race in the MMBA series. As I wrote last week, I figured my slim lead on third place for the year would disappear if the 4th place racer, Calvin Stewart, showed up as his points would eclipse mine with the addition of his 5th race. The series counted your top five races. It was still mathematically possible for me to hold on though if I were to place ahead of him. Not likely since Calvin is definitely faster than me and I got lucky last week when he had chain problems.

My team mate Bernie Wendel also had a shot at third place in his age group but needed to complete his 5th race. The two of us decided to take the drive out to Pando and see what we could do. Although the turnout for the Expert class was low, just before the start of my race I saw my main competition show up. That meant I would have to do everything I could to hang on to his wheel.

At the start three of us opened an early gap and I stayed right on Calvin's wheel. He would pull away slightly on the uphills but I would catch back up in the singletrack and the faster, flatter sections. Half way around I sprinted around him in a flat section leading to some singletrack and stayed in front for the remainder of the first lap. Once we got back to the climb up the ski hill I let him come around, knowing I couldn't hold the pace.

At that point I lost sight of him and settled back to maintain my third place, knowing there was $$ waiting for the top three. Part way through the third lap I was surprised to see Calvin on the side of the trail working to get his chain free. I passed him but we still had 3.5 laps to go. I didn't know how long he would be working on the bike so I kept checking over my shoulder for him to be coming up on me, thinking he would appear at any moment.

On my final lap someone was able to give me an approximate time split between us and I figured I was safe so I cut back a bit to avoid any mistakes that would cost me second place. I ended up coming in about 1.5 minutes ahead of Calvin and I think securing my third place in the series. Plus I won back my entry fee and most of my gas money by taking second at the race.

Bernie ended up taking fourth for the day and beating the person he needed to to finish with a third in the series. He also had a crash that caused the handlebars to take a bite out of his cheek but fortunately he didn't appear too badly hurt other than that . I think he also learned a valuable lesson about what not to do the night before a race.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Busy couple of days

It seems like the past few days have kept me pretty busy. Jason arrived home from Montana on Thursday, actually it was Friday since his 11:45 pm flight did not arrive until after 2:00 am due to flight delays. Fortunately Sandy picked him up but I didn't get to bed until late because Jason kept calling with flight updates. And then I woke up when they arrived home about 3:30 and then had to get up for work about 5:00.
Later in the day Jason and I did two laps at Addison Oaks since he planned on racing there on Sunday and had not seen the new trail changes. Sandy and I went out to dinner and visit the new Papa Joe's after Jason and his brother Greg left for the wedding that Jason flew home for.

I think Papa Joe's replaces Whole Foods as my new favorite place for food samples. It seemed like the end of every aisle had samples, even up by the checkout registers. Plus the store had two wine bars that allow you to use a store debit card to order wines by the glass. Several people were walking around the store shopping while drinking.

On Saturday all of us went down to Eastern Market in the morning and then had lunch where they were cooking the outdoor barbecue. They had an item on the menu called the Oh My God Hamburger, one pound of meat. I couldn't believe how big it was until I saw it on the grill. The food was really good plus they had an outdoor karaoke going but the performers were really good, not some drunk patrons who thought they could sing.
Later in the afternoon Jason, Greg and I went up to Boulder Pointe in Oxford to play golf. Jason and I hadn't played all year so I wasn't sure what would happen. The course was really nice but one of the best features was the carts. They all have electronic screens that give you a picture of the hole layout and the green plus distances to all the obstacles. As you would drive the distance to the pin was automatically calculated and displayed, it also told you how far ahead the other carts might be. In addition to letting you order from the clubhouse a few holes in advance of making the turn, the carts would provide updates of the Michigan and Michigan State scores. I actually played fairly well and ended up shooting an 84. Not practicing at all hurt me, especially in the short game.

Today was the Addison Oaks XC race, the trail where I probably ride the majority of the time. Unfortunately I could tell on Friday evening I was coming down with something as my eyes were getting itchy and my nose running. By yesterday the cold had set in and I was worried about the race. Today I didn't feel a lot better but didn't want to waste the opportunity to race a local course.

My Expert class started a little after 9:30 and I stayed near the back but made my way forward until I was running in 4th or 5th. The guys in front of me suddenly made a wrong turn which put me in first. I stayed there through the first lap before fading and the original group caught and passed me. Between the pace and my cold it was a struggle to finish all four laps but I managed to hang onto 5th out of 11.
About an hour later I got on my bike again with converted rear wheel and crank to race the SS class. This would be three more laps plus I got to line up with Jason who was also racing single speed, his only race of the day. At the start everyone took off and I could tell right away I was struggling. I did manage to catch a few riders but knew it was only a matter of time before my legs seized up, I was getting the tell-tale signs. I made the decision to stop after the first lap so when I ran across Jason on the side of the trail I stopped to see what was wrong.

It turns out he had flatted while running right with the leader of the class. Jason had been feeling pretty good and thought he would be able to win or at least take a close second. In the half lap he had completed before flatting, Jason and the other guy already had a couple of minute lead on the rest of the field. Obviously Jason was very disappointed with the outcome but that's racing.

Tomorrow it's back to work for me as Jason drives to Ohio to visit his grandparents. He flies out early Tuesday morning.

Next week is the Pando XC race, the last race in the MMBA series but I doubt I will go. I will probably end up in 4th place for the series and can't really improve on it at the race. So racing is almost over for me this year, I don't plan on doing any cross races but there may be one more XC race or two before Iceman in November.
Jason with the vendor who happened to have a chair that Jason kept playing on.
The one pound hamburger!
Jason getting ready to hit his second shot on a par 3.
Where my ball landed on my first shot on the same hole.
Our last few holes were an adventure as the sprinklers came on.
We had a good time!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weekly update

Seems like not a lot is happening this time of year but when I sit down to update the blog there are a lot of things happening or did happen. Not much in the way of racing news though but the Addison Oaks XC is next weekend. This is the closest race to my house all year, many of those I ride with consider it our home course.

And speaking of Addison, Chris Werth and I were asked to step in and help as trail coordinators out at Addison. The current trail coordinator, or TC, has done one heck of a job with trail improvements but has increasingly been running into some issues with the park management. There have been a few misunderstandings of what kind of trail work has been authorized vs. completed and we have been in danger of losing the ability to ride the trails. Chris and I will be acting as intermediaries to help smooth relations and keep the trails open. We had a very productive meeting with the park last week and look forward to more open communications.

While my schedule for next year is not firm yet I plan on doing more of the national events or races that require travel. I also plan on hiring a coach to bring my caliber of racing up a notch, something I recognize I need help with. Of course all of this costs money so I had decided to find a part time job for the off season specifically to pay for racing. The day after I made this decision a job posting came up at a local bike shop.

I have been to most of the bike shops in the area and there are very few that I would consider working at for one reason or another. Having owned my own motorcycle shop I have a feel for what make an enjoyable atmosphere to shop and work in. The shop that posted the ad, Cycletherapy in Waterford, is one of the rare shops that meets my qualifications. I have started working a few nights a week after I get off Chrysler and on Saturdays or Sundays depending on my schedule. I am working the sales floor helping with sales of bikes and parts. Ernie Dell, the owner, is very good about being flexible with my hours. Even though he knows that I will be training more come spring he agreed to have me work at his place. Maybe I see a little of myself in him and his shop. It takes me back to my my store ownership days.

In other news Jason is coming back this Thursday for a friend's wedding. He won't be flying out until Tuesday so we plan on doing some family things this weekend. He also wants to race at Addison on Sunday and I may be racing against him in the SS class after I race the Expert category. I am not sure if I will be able to get my bike into SS mode and definitely will not be competitive but it would be fun to line up against him.

On other interesting bit of information is that I saw another rattlesnake last week. This one was on the road over by Bald Mountain North. That is the second one I have seen this summer after not seeing any in the first ten years we lived here. This one was quite a bit bigger than the first one but not moving as fast. in fact it didn't seem to want to move out of the road so I got a stick and moved it into the field. Maybe I have watched too many Jeff Corwin or Steve Irwin shows.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

On Any Sunday

Actually on a particular Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Those who are in to motorcycles may remember that On Any Sunday is the name of a classic motorcycle movie made in 1971 by Bruce Brown who also made the classic surfing movie, The Endless Summer.

The reason I reference the movie in the title is that I spent this past weekend taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course in preparation of getting my motorcycle endorsement to my license. I had ridden motorcycles for a long time but not in the past 12 years or so. The course was fun but you were glad when each two hour section was over to have a chance to relax.

The last thing we did today was take the Michigan Motorcycle Operator Safety Training riding test. I passed which means I won't have to take that test at the Secretary of State's office. Thanks to Biscuit for letting me borrow a helmet for the course. Mine is kind of old and even though I really like it, it's past its useful life.

Like a lot of kids I got my start with minibikes and graduated to dirt bikes and then off road racing. Later, in the mid-eighties I owned a motorcycle accessory shop for about four years. During that time I got into road racing, the knee dragger type. I raced 500's and also various bikes that at the time were considered vintage. Now they are probably antiques :-) At one time there were 10 motorcycles in my stable.

All I have now is one that hasn't been started in 12 years. I plan on tearing it apart to replace all the seals and gaskets to make it rideable again. It is one that you don't see much of any more, a two stroke twin. It is a great mosquito fogger when starting, as all the exhaust comes billowing out the expansion chambers. I'm not too sure how well the neighbors would appreciate it if I ride it to work at 6:00 am. It sort of sounds like two dirt bikes at once.

A new bike is not in the immediate future, the pedalling kind of bike takes up all of the budget. But someday if I do get a new one, a Goldwing is a definite possibility. My wife and I used to travel on my bigger bikes and she loved riding on the back. She would get so comfortable she would even doze off. I think she wants a Goldwing more than I do.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day report

We took advantage of the great weather this weekend to take in some of the local attractions that we have been wanting to see but never got around to. On Saturday we went to the Eastern Market where we loaded up on fresh produce. We plan on going back there more often but learned that we need something to carry around our purchases. The fold up carts that everyone had seemed like the ticket but everything would be sitting on top of each other. I am going to look into something else to use. We also bought some sausage at the meat market that we grilled later in the evening. Some of it was a lot spicier than we thought but I liked it.

Sunday I went to church with Sandy and then we headed down to the Toledo Zoo. The older part of the zoo was especially nice with tree shaded walks and lots of flower gardens. All of the exhibits seemed nice and clean and the older buildings are updated. I'm not sure what our favorite animals were, maybe the polar bears with the twin cubs or the hippos since in both displays they were out swimming and would come right up to the glass enclosure. It has been a while since we went to a zoo. Sandy and the boys went to one in Omaha and I was at one in Mexico City. While we haven't been to the Detroit zoo yet I would recommend the Toledo zoo.
After the zoo we headed over to Tony Packo's at the park, across the street from the Toledo Mudhens baseball field. We had tickets for a double header in the evening. There was a huge line snaked around the building and we thought everyone was waiting to get in. It turns out that that the restaurant was hosting a radio station contest winner's lunch with a pro wrestler, Matt Hardy, that happened to be in town for a match. We were able to walk right in and get a table.

When I bought tickets to the game a few weeks ago the only thing they had left were general admission seats in the outfield. Actually they weren't seats, but an area with picnic tables set up above the outfield wall. They were good seats for watching the game but in the direct sunlight for the entire first game. The sun had set behind the stadium by the time the second game started under the lights. The home team came from behind in both games to win. We didn't stay for all of the second game as Toledo was playing a lot of the second string and rookie players, judging from the batting averages 0f .091 and .000.

The ballpark is only about 5 years old and since it only seats about 11,000 there is not a bad seat in the stadium. Plenty of concession stands and easy parking and access to the freeway makes it a nice venue to see a game. Ticket prices are reasonable too.

Today I went out for an early morning ride for a few hours and ended up stopping by to see some of the crit races taking place in Auburn Hills. I don't know if that is something I would take up. I enjoy myself a lot more on the trails than I do on the roads.

Tomorrow I should be starting a new after work activity that will probably keep me tied up a few nights a week and some weekend days. More on that in a later post.
Sandy feeds a lion some Hammer Product
A hippo keeps an eye on us
Smile for the camera
An escapee from Meerkat Manor?
Yes, this is the zoo
Some of the flower gardens
Brett Hardy from WWE
Views of Toeldo from the ball park
Not the San Diego Chicken but the Toledo Mudhen's mascot