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.