Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My picture is on a t-shirt!


My son Greg gave me this t-shirt yesterday as a late Christmas gift. No doubt that he knows me pretty well.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back on the grid

Our power came back on this afternoon after being off for almost exactly 34 hours. I think we may be lucky compared to others who are expected to be without power for a longer period. But with the high winds again this evening we are keeping our fingers crossed.

This morning I was able to get out for a couple of hours. With the almost clear roads it felt like I was flying compared to the last couple of rides. But you still had to watch for ice in the shaded areas. I hope to get out again tomorrow before the snow comes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

When the power output goes to zero

As in electrical power. We woke up at a little after 5:00 am this morning when the power went out. The carbon monoxide detector lets out a beep when the power goes out or back on. At that point there wasn't much to do but get back under the covers and try to sleep.

We got up a little later to go to church, hoping the power would be restored by the time we got home but no luck. I brought in our kerosene heater and fired it up. It puts out a lot of heat and the living room stayed relatively warm. Thankfully the temps were in the low 30's so it was not as difficult to keep things warm.

The record for the longest time without power since we moved here was 12 hours but as we approached that milestone Sandy and I went out to dinner. After we got back and still did not have power it was dark so I dragged out the generator and fired it up to provide some lights in the house. We also plugged in the upstairs refrigerator since it had been off so long it was starting to warm up inside.

With the fireplace blazing and the generator and heater going, it was quite cozy. I decided to plug in the cable modem and router so I could access the Internet via the laptop. We did not want to risk damaging the computer or TV by plugging them into the generator since it doesn't provide clean power. I felt bad for my son who picked up a Wii Fit overnight and hasn't ahs a chance to use it.

So here I sit, with the power out for almost 17 hours. They say it may be a few days before everyone has power restored. But with the fireplace, heater, a plate of cheese and crackers and a beer, plus Internet access, it doesn't get much better during a power failure.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas



I guess I have fallen behind in posting since I usually do it at least once a week. But with Christmas now behind us it's a good time to do an update.

Work has been kind of crazy the last few weeks as we are coping with the loss of a lot of talent all at once. It is taking a while to figure out who is now the person to go to in certain areas. I have picked up additional responsibilities as the ITM contact for two new engine plants we are launching next year. The person I am taking over was kept over for a month but now he is gone too. Many other employees were given an extension for a month or two.

Of course the other big concern at work is much broader in scope, will we even be around in six months. A few weeks ago we were wondering if we would survive much past the end of this year as we waited to see what happened in congress. The roller coaster ride isn't over but there is at least a little breathing room, however temporary it may be. After watching the senate proceedings I have to admit that I am reluctant to travel to the south and spend any money on races down there. Especially in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

All the snow we got last week allowed me to get in some snowshoeing and xc skiing while waiting for the snowmobiles to pack the trails back down to ride. I rode on the back roads on Saturday but much of the ride was spent trying to find traction on the roads that hadn't had a plow or much traffic. Often I would be riding in the tire tracks only to have to stop and get off to the side to let a vehicle pass as the tracks were the only spot to drive (or ride). I decided most of my riding this week would be on the trainer. They didn't even plow our sub until Wednesday, five days after the storm.

Christmas was a lot quieter than usual as there were just the three of us. Sandy's sister could not make it up. We also had cut down on the gift buying this year as Sandy and I decided to donate to a few charities instead of buying much for each other.

Sandy had cooked a great dinner of Cornish hens and afterward we had a video call from Jason. He had recently gotten a computer with a built in camera and more importantly, high speed Internet service. The last few days we have been able to connect and see each other while we talk. We were able to hook up our laptop to the 50" plasma TV to get a big screen experience. It's not quite the same as being there but it helps ease the separation. In the afternoon some of the nuns came down from the Mount and gave a concert while we watched.

Not sure what is in store for the rest of the time off. I rode outside today but the rains coming will force me back inside for a while. Sandy and I will be doing some indoor rock climbing and hopefully get up north next week to do some xc skiing.

Watching the live concert via the Internet.


Greg playing his Rockband 2 game.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lost Weekend

This past weekend was not very productive. Thursday night I started coming down with a cold and if got progressively worse on Friday. Saturday morning I woke up with intense sinus pressure along the cheek line, something I hadn't experienced before. I stayed in bed most of the morning and tried to sleep it away.

I felt a little better in the afternoon and also guilty for not riding. I went out for a ride and the back roads were almost perfect, as long as you had studded tires. The roads did not have many pot holes yet and were free of heavy snow. They were pretty icy in a lot of spots and you had to be careful not to get caught in the grooves left by the snow plow. I didn't have a lot of power so parts of the ride seemed more of a struggle than it should have been normally.

Sunday I took one of the dogs to the bark park to let him run and then the rest of the day I pretty much vegetated. I had planned on putting up Christmas decorations but that didn't happen. We also had made the decision the day before to stay home from Sandy's work party due to the way I was feeling. Probably a good choice.

Although feeling better yesterday, I skipped the weight room training to give my body one more day off. We did a little shopping after dinner and we thought we may end up in a crowd of other shoppers. I was surprised to find the parking lot only partially filled and the store itself not crowded.

I don't recall ever shopping this late into the season where you didn't have to hunt for a parking spot or fight your way through the shoppers rummaging through the items on sale. It is definitely a sign of the economic times in the Detroit area. People are either delaying purchases or not buying as much, and not spending as much time in the stores. But if you have the money to spend the deals out there right now are tremendous.

I hope to ease back into training today and be ready to ride (and ski) through the holidays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vintage MX Racing

My early facination of two wheel racing was with all things motorcycles. Like a lot of kids in the late 60's and early 70's I started out on a mini-bike and later graduated to a regular motorcycle dirt bike. We were fortunate to live out in the country on enough property that I could build my own MX track.

I did some racing, mainly hare scrambles, on such great bikes as the Hodaka Super Rat and later a Can-Am 175. I moved on to Pentons and other bikes that were great in their time but sadly the brands are no longer with us.

I ran across a web article about vintage MX and it had some pictures of racers I remember idolizing and watching race when they came to town for the Trans AMA races.

In the article was a link to the video below that honors many of the racers no longer around. I think I knew who 90% of those featured were. Sad that they are gone but it's nice to see them remembered.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cannondale Factory Racing

I got a call this afternoon from Matt Jewett, the team manager for the Cannondale mountain bike racing team. I had heard that Sobe was not renewing their sponsorship for 2009 and that Cannondale was shrinking their team but combining it with the international team under the Cannondale Factory Racing banner.

I had been waiting for the call to say that I would not be selected for the new team. With today's economic conditions I would have been surprised if they had a team at all. In fact other bike manufacturer's had recently announced they would not be having their teams again in 2009. I was totally floored when Matt asked me if I would be interesting in racing again for Cannondale and the new team! So now it's back to the grindstone and getting ready for 2009. I'm just not sure which races I'm going to do.

Here is a press release recently posted on the Cannondale web site about the CFR team.

(12/4/2008)
From: www.cannondalesports.com

Cannondale unveiled today a plan to support an all-new Cannondale Factory Race (CFR) Team this year. The revamped role is combined with a fresh new look, designed to maximize Cannondale’s position as a global leader in cycling. The team’s roster includes superstars on the World Cup circuit, but also expands into the North American racing scene for a truly worldwide presence.

The new team will field an impressive roster of riders. In Europe, World Cup veterans Roel Paulissen, Martin Gujan, and Marco Aurelio Fontana lead the team. In America, CFR is merging with the former SoBe-Cannondale team, which means that racing legends like Gunnar Shogren and Matthew Lee along with several dozen more riders will round out the roster, racing in regional events.

"An opportunity presented itself to combine the efforts of the best athletes racing on both sides of the Atlantic," said Rory Mason, director of sports marketing for Cannondale. "It really gives us a voice at a wide variety of races, from local fat tire festivals to UCI podiums."

Changes in the existing team structures made the merger possible. SoBe notified Cannondale earlier this month that it would not continue as a Cannondale team sponsor.

"We’ve had an excellent working relationship with SoBe and enjoyed many successes after their return to the team this past year, " says Matt Jewett, Inside Sales Director and Promotions Manager for Cannondale. "The upside is that all the best traditions of the team can live on. These riders have continuously been the best ambassadors for the sport of cycling and active lifestyles as a whole. Now they have a global platform on which to carry this 10-year heritage."
Although the teams combine forces, most of the racing operations for Cannondale will remain largely unchanged, including the teams’ co-sponsors.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The BEST Day One



Isabel Grace Kinley was born this morning and both she and Emily are doing fine. The story of the birth is remarkable and we are truly blessed.

Jason and Emily had planned to have the birth take place in a birthing tub, similar to how Oliver was born. But this time it would take place at their house using a midwife instead of using a birthing center. To be honest, I was somewhat concerned but they were excited and well prepared. Two of their friends from Montana were staying with them to help out.

Emily had been having contractions earlier in the week but they stopped. Early this morning they started again and this time she could tell the baby was on the way. Jason began to make preparations for the arrival but it became evident the baby was coming rather quickly.

Jason began to get things ready but there was no time to fill the birthing tub. The midwife was on her way when things began to really speed up. Emily lay on the floor where she was most comfortable. With the midwife about two minutes from the house and Jason on the phone talking to her, the baby was born using the most natural method there is. Emily simply reached down as the baby emerged to help bring Isabel into the world. The cord was cut later after the midwife arrived.

In talking with Emily you would have thought it was the most natural thing to give birth basically on your own. She sounded in better shape than after she had given birth to Oliver. I'm not so sure about Jason.

We plan on visiting them in January and look forward to seeing all of them. This is the first great grand-daughter so I'm sure she will be extra spoiled.

We celebrated the news with our first cross country ski outing of the season today. We were going to head up north yesterday but the snow coming down made us refrain from getting out on the roads. Instead I rode for two hours in the snow. The trails are getting too deep to ride so I also went out on the back roads where the ice under the snow plus low visibility made the riding a little tricky. I got out for an hour again today before going skiing. This time I used studded tires and the riding was much better.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Another Day One

I forgot to write in my last update that Monday also was day one for the off season training. Since I am going to skip the last cyclocross race of the season I started back with my weight training and fairly structured ride schedule.

While I have been in the gym two days a week during most of the year, ever since March the gym workouts have been mostly to maintain upper body fitness. From December through March I add the legs into the routine. I can feel the effects from the first legs workout; it takes a little time to get the muscles working in that fashion again.

The bike workouts will be based on using wattage and now that I have a used a PowerMeter for a year I can estimate total workout efforts when I'm on a different bike. That will help when looking at total effort expended and recovery over a period of time.

The one thing I'm not sure of is what my race schedule will be for 2009. Just like Christmas, I have a wish list of races I would like to do. But I think I will be cutting back on the out of state and most expensive races given the current economic conditions. It does make it harder to plan a training schedule though.

Hopefully in the next few days I will be able to post another day one story. This time for the announcement of the birth of our second grandchild. Emily was due yesterday so it should be anytime now. We are thinking of them all the time and offering up our hopes and prayers that all goes well.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Day One

Instead of driving west to Washington, this morning I pointed the car south and made the nine mile trip in to Chrysler. Everyone was not sure quite what to expect today. Overall the day was uneventful as we pieced together who was left, who would be responsible for what over the next month or two, and how we would continue to function. It was also very quiet as there were a couple thousand less people walking around. But that will probably change as they consolidate employees from other locations.

It sort of reminded me of Y2K; everyone was worried that the company would collapse but as far as I know we still made cars today. The difference will be over the coming weeks and months as problems start to emerge that would have been easily solved in the past by those who have now left the company.

I'll admit that it was pretty tempting to turn in my papers (again) last Wednesday and walk out the door for the last time. But I feel I have made the right decision for as long as the company survives.

Over the holiday weekend I finally got back on the bike for the Turkey Roll ride at Pontiac Lake. There was a couple of inches of snow on the ground at the start but it pretty much got packed down by the 80 or so riders that showed up. I ended up doing another lap as most only did one.

Staying around means that I can continue to work on putting on races at Lake Orion High School. The winter race is scheduled for January 31. Hopefully this year there will not be quite as much snow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm back!

OK, I never actually went anywhere but the point is I'm not going to Washington. After much personal reflection and discussion with family, friends and clergy, I have decided to remain at Chrysler for as long as the wild ride continues.

The decision was the hardest one I have ever made. From a purely financial standpoint it would have been a no brainer. But as the time drew closer I realized that there were many reasons to stay and that money was of the least importance.

While it would have been nice to be closer to the grandkids I still have a son living with us, as well as other family members close by. Not to mention a great network of friends as well as riding opportunities.

I know will have many things to be extra thankful for this Thursday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What was I thinking?

That thought crossed my mind this morning as I was driving into work and the outside temperature read 19 degrees. Why are we moving to another state with snow and cold weather as a normal wintertime event? Why didn't I look for work down south?

But then I started to warm up as the heated seats took effect and I thought about all the additional opportunities for enjoying the outdoors in the snow. And actually, the weather out in Eastern Washington is warmer than it is here. But you don't have to go too far to get into snow already as the higher elevations have some on the ground. Not a lot, but the ski areas are reporting the depth of their bases.

It's been a busy week so far. Tuesday evening was a dinner with some people from Daimler Finance and I got to see some of my old colleagues from Germany. Wednesday was a going away dinner at Robin and Shari's. Sandy got to hear stories about my racing and race planning.

Yesterday afternoon we had a get together at a local eatery for all the ITM employees to see each other one more time before a majority of us retire or leave the company. The place was packed with current and former employees. The restaurant will be packed for the next few days as other Chrysler groups will also be meeting there after work. It will be the last time that most of us will be together as there may not be another big exodus unless the company falls apart or is sold. Unlike in the past, a lot of employees leaving this time will probably be moving out of the area.

Speaking of moving, the realtor was over last night and it may be possible for us to sell and not be too far in the hole. Maybe even break even. The house goes on the market on December 1, the day I am planning on leaving for Washington. I'll be sure to post the MLS listing in case anyone is looking for a house in this area that is within an hour's bike ride of six mountain bike trails and multiple rail trails.

Today my parents come to town for tomorrow's party for THE game. Although it will probably be much like the Lion's game on Thanksgiving. But at least there will be alcohol and good food to help dull the pain (for some).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Snow report - 2000 miles away



As we transition from mountain biking to winter sports I thought I would mention a few of the areas in Washington that will be close to us. This is a photo taken this morning at Red Mountain ski area in Rossland, BC. It will be about an hour or so from us, depending on where we will be living. In addition to downhill it also has a Nordic ski area. As does 49 Degrees North, another ski area that will probably be even closer.

I think 49 Degrees holds one mountain bike ride/race in the fall and is working to open up the trail system for general mountain bike use. It might be a possible location that I can work with to develop a race series. The venue is about 45 minutes north of Spokane so I should be able to get some people to come out. There are not many races in the area.

Rossland is home to one of the IMBA epic ride locations. They have a great trail system and an active trail maintenance group. Check out some of these links to see video and pictures of the trails. There is a town just south of the border that would be about 50 minutes away from work. But I could ride my bike north and into these trails in about an hour or so.

Check out this video of some of the trails mentioned, and trails about an hour west.

Rossland Trails

Rossland Bike Newsgroup

As good as all this future riding and skiing may be, getting ready to move is starting to wear me out. Anyone got a job for me close by? :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

8 Days left

Since tomorrow is a holiday for the auto industry that means there are only eight work days left in my Chrysler career. After the Thanksgiving holiday I plan on packing up the van with some clothes, tools, at least two bikes and one dog, and heading west. I hope to get to Jason's by December 4th, and then on to the Benny's Motel in Colville. That will be my home away from home for up to three months while I look for a place to live. At some point my wife and the other two dogs will join me.

I won't dwell much on the situation at Chrysler except that I know a lot of people are on the fence about taking the voluntary separation package. I think most of those who are eligible for an early pension are taking it. But come December 1st the company will look and operate a lot differently. A major concern is how they will operate if a majority of the people with the technical knowledge leave.

As you can imagine there is a lot to be done before I go and then my wife will be stuck with the rest. I think I am tied up every evening next week with various functions or dinners as our time in Michigan runs short.

I have gotten a few responses for houses for rent out west, they have generally been houses out in the country somewhere on 5-50 acres. One of the properties has sheep and alpacas and would leave them for the tenant to take care of if they wanted.

When I was growing up I was in 4-H and had lambs but I'm not sure if that's something I want to do now. The owner said he raised the sheep for meat and the alpacas were just pets. Sandy really likes lamb chops but I'm not sure how crazy she would be about them if she knew the donor.

I have been doing some research on shotguns because if we end up in the country we will want one at hand. In addition to coyotes they also have bears, cougars, and rattlesnakes. It will add a whole new dimension to mountain biking

Saturday, November 08, 2008

6th to 14th in two clicks of the shifter

At the starting line of the Iceman today my mind was not really into racing. I was thinking of all the things I should have been doing getting ready to move. The last few weeks have been a little stressful as well so I wasn't sure what to expect when the gun went off.

But once we started the adrenaline kicked in and I found myself in 5th place after two miles in. The lead group started to put a gap on me so I jumped in with the next group of five that came up. We pretty much stayed together or didn't break apart too much.

We seemed to have little groups of two or three and sometimes one of us would be off the front for a while. My 29" wheel bike allowed me to take some aggressive lines through the sand and pass riders while those behind me had to wait and get a clear line.

I noticed on some of the steeper hills that I was having trouble with the chain skipping when in the three largest cogs. I think something must have happened to the derailleur early in the race when one rider's front wheel hit my rear in a corner. I was forced to use slightly bigger gearing than I would have liked for most of the hills.

Another guy was with me when we caught a guy from our class with about 8 miles to go. We ran together for the next few miles, passing racers in unison. With about 5.5 miles left there was a particularly steep hill that the others seemed to get stuck behind slower riders and I thought it might be a good time to go by them and try to get some breathing room.

I shifted down twice in the rear to begin an attack when the chain over shifted past the big cog and got stuck between the cassette and the wheel. No matter how hard I tried I could not get the chain free as other riders now started to catch up and pass me while I was working on the bike on the side of the trail.

Just when I thought I would have to abandon the race I managed to work the chain free and ran up the hill and jumped on the bike. Knowing that my top ten spot was gone my goal now was to finish under two hours.

My legs were really hurting after standing around for seven minutes but I tried to put the power down and pass as many racers as I could. Of course none of them were in my class, they were already way up in front of me.

I came around the last corner and sprinted to the finish in 1:59:08 so I did meet that goal. Looking at the results and seeing who I was running with I saw that I had a possible 6th place out of 55 finishers. Instead I ended up 14th. But that's racing.

The bike handled beautifully, the weather cooperated, and I got to see a lot of people I know one more time before we move to Washington. Maybe I will come back just for this race since just about all the racers in Michigan show up.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Historic Day - for more than one reason


Yes, history was made as the US elected its first black president yesterday. The funny thing is that I didn't really hear too many people discussing it at work. Everyone was waiting to get word of their retirement or buyout offers which were due to come out today.

I met with my director early in the morning and he handed me the package of papers and we briefly discussed the situation of the company, industry, and what was going on. Obviously not good but the unknowns are what is making people nervous.

On the other hand I can now come out and state that barring some unforeseen reason, not only will I be taking the retirement but I have accepted a job in Colville, Washington. Yup, I will be moving in December. The town is about an hour and 15 minutes from Spokane.

I had begun to get worried about what was happening with Chrysler so I was looking at alternatives. I spotted a job that was posted in the Spokane paper and applied. I received a phone interview and a few weeks later flew out to meet in person. Remember the pictures from Jason's a few weeks ago? That's why I was out there.

Obviously it is a big change for the family; our youngest son will be staying behind to finish his degree. And we are moving away from most of our relatives and of course all our friends, particularly those I've made over the years associated with cycling. It's tough to even think about.

But on the bright side we will be out closer to the grandchildren and the area is near great skiing and mountain bike riding, including an IMBA epic ride, about an hour away just over the border in Canada. About an hour west puts us in the Kettle Crest trails area. It's also less than a half hour to Lake Roosevelt.

In the next few days I'll update the blog with what is going on and include links to some of the area attractions, etc.

But first I've got Iceman this weekend and a whole lot of things to do.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cyclocross - Take 2

I did another 'cross race today on the SS with the same result as last time. Second place and beaten by the same person. I still managed to pass a handful of younger geared riders that started 30 seconds in front of us. Not only beating them up the hills but taking them on the inside of the corners, that's when it's really fun.

This race was over in Ann Arbor, home of the Michigan Wolverines, and I managed to convince my wife to go with me. Since she is a dedicated Ohio State Buckeye fan I thought she was going to break out in hives when we crossed the line into the town. At least she didn't wear her OSU garb.

This was the first race of mine she has been to in a long time. Maybe it's an early anniversary present to me. Tomorrow we will have been married for 30 years.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The waiting game

Imagine trying to figure out how your life is going to change 30 days from now without having all the pieces of the puzzle. That is basically what is going on for everyone at Chrysler, and I imagine to some extent those at GM as well. Not much work is getting done as everyone tries to figure out what they will do once (or if) the retirement packages come out.

We have been told the basics of the offerings but have not seen the specifics. Some will have a cash and car option, others will be eligible to start receiving their pensions early. If you turn down a package there is no guarantee that you will still be employed at the end of the year since they announced a 25% reduction target. But most people think we will get a take rate above that.

With GM cutting their maximum layoff benefit everyone assumes that Chrysler will follow suit and may even do so this year. So those who may be let go may not get the amount of severance pay they had planned on when making their decision to stay.

Most people have spent the last week discussing the latest rumours, asking everyone else what they plan on doing, and even using the Internet to look for new jobs. If you do go to a meeting it usually turns into a discussion of what is going on. Plus people are asking what is the point of talking about business when many of the people needed to make changes may be gone in a month.

The fear of those who may choose not to go is who will be left to do the work that is needed to have the company continue to run? If all of the experts leave, the company may implode or cease to operate for a while while those who remained get shuffled into new positions and pick up new or additional responsibilities.

We are supposed to find out the contents of our packages by November 5th, with decisions due by the 26th, making the last day with the company November 30. Since the Thanksgiving holiday starts on the 26th, that will be last day for a good many employees I'll bet. And many will probably wait until that day or a day or two before to make their decisions known.

Stay tuned for more info as the saga continues.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whew! Lot's going on


Wow, two weeks since my last post. But I've talked to my parents since so they know I'm still alive. They use the blog to keep track of what is happening up north.

Actually, a lot of things. First, last week I was out visiting Jason, Emily, and Oliver for the weekend. Flew out Thursday evening and back on Sunday evening. As you can imagine the three hour time difference to Spokane was not easily adjusted to in such a short time. But while I was there we had a great time and there new place really looks great. They have been doing a lot of work on it and it shows. It was also nice to see my grandson again and watch him walking now. They grow up so fast!

Those in Michigan, and especially the Detroit area, know about the dire straights that the auto industry is in. Of course in the news lately is what will become of Chrysler; will we become part of GM or Renault/Nissan? And in any case what will happen to our jobs. The predictions are not pretty.

If GM were to get Chrysler they would probably let go 15,000 of the 17,000 or so salaried employees. Even with another company buying us there would be jobs lost. And Cerberus, our current owner, has admitted they want to shed our company. So something is coming but we don't know yet.

Friday morning we got an e-mail from the company president talking about hard times in the industry, etc. etc. Basically leading up to telling us that by the end of the year we would be losing 25% of the salaried and supplemental workers. That's a lot but I think just the tip of the iceberg compared to what may be coming. included in the e-mail was a notice about enhanced buyouts and retirement packages. Unfortunately no details as they were supposed to be announced this week.

We do know that they lowered the age for packages and have added deals for others not eligible for retirement. The deals include cash and a car voucher. I don't know if that means giving up any claim to future benefits though. In any case I should find out tomorrow what my options are since I am one of those able to take advantage of something. I just don't know what that will mean. But it could mean we end up leaving the area. As you can imagine, I'm not getting a lot sleep right now.

On a brighter note, today was the benefit race at the Lake Orion High School. The run did not get a big turnout but I was pleased with the number of the bikers that came out. We got some of the top racers, both male and female, to race and they all had good things to say about the course. The weather was cool and overcast for the advanced and sport race but the beginners got rain, hail, and sunshine. They finished muddied but with smiles on their faces. The biggest winner of the day was the food bank. We raised close to $1000 plus the food that was donated. So thanks to everyone that donated or sponsored the race. Hopefully this becomes an annual event.





Looking at Spokane from the deck on the house.


Looking the other way across the fields is Mt. Spokane


This old barn is adjacent to the house

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Have you wondered what Cyclocross is all about?

Here is a video of the cyclocross race last weekend at Stony Creek. Good action footage shot by the lead rider and the camera pointing rearward spliced in with other footage. About 3/4 of the way through there is a couple of seconds in slow motion of me running over the barriers. Hmm, maybe that was in real time?

Fall doesn't get much better than this

Beautiful weather! Fall in Michigan doesn't get much better than this weekend. As long as we don't talk about U of M football. Other than that it was just about perfect.

Saturday was the big ride that would take place on much of the back roads and trails that i usually ride but a lot of people would be meeting at Stony park to follow a marked course with a couple of aid stations along the way. Riders were supposed to leave anywhere from 8-10:00 am.

Since I had a lot of things to do I wanted to make sure I got there early. I left the house before the sun came up and rode the southern portion of the route on my way over to Stony. I got to see the sun rise through the colors on the trees; I love to ride early in the day. It was cold though, there was frost on the ground.

I got over to Stony around 8:15 and left there shortly after arriving. For the rest of the ride I was the first one on the route, just enjoying the ride. For the day I ended up with just under 60 miles. That included the required extra mileage for doughnuts at the cider mill.

I got out early again this morning but waited until the sun was up and it was a little warmer. I jumped on a different bike with skinny tires and made good time in racking up another 40 miles.

For the rest of the day I tried to clear up some of the junk around the house that we have accumulated over the years and then I hiked the LOHS race course to put up some markings in case anyone wanted to practice the bike or run portions.

Next week I will be out of town so I may not get much riding in but
I plan on hitting it pretty hard the following week once I get back, leading up to the LOHS race and then begin a taper for the Iceman race on November 8.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Masochistic Tendencies


I think those that engage in some form of self propelled racing must have some kind of latent masochistic qualities. What else could explain why we put ourselves through agony, swearing that we will never do a race again, only to start thinking about the next race a half hour after the last one is over?

I can't count the number of times I have been in the middle of a race and tell myself that this is really stupid, it hurts too much to continue and if I stopped, the pain would be over. Actually I can count the times, darn near every race. But I usually struggle through to the end and even start to enjoy it.

Today I decided to enter the Stony cyclocross race and enter the singlespeed class. Since I don't own a true 'cross bike anymore but do have a very lightweight SS I thought it would be easier, and dare I say fun? And in a way it was. Besides, I hadn’t done a ‘cross race in years.

I knew going into the race my legs would be tired after training hard a couple of days earlier in the week. And yesterday some of my CMR team got together for a moderate back road ride and then a casual ride to the cider mill. Riding four hours on the day before a race is not on the list of recommended race preparations.

Today was one of those beautiful Michigan fall mornings with bright sunlight and chilly temperatures. The trees are starting to turn color and the Stony course is right next to the lake; part of the course includes riding (or running) on the beach.

I got out to the park early enough to take a few laps around the approximately two mile course to get reacquainted with a 'cross course and also practice my dismounts and mounts as we ran over the barriers. I could tell the mostly grass course was going to be tough pedaling and wished I had made my gearing a little easier.

When our race started we lined up in the back of the B racers and were given the green light 30 seconds after the B guys took off. I got to the front but it wasn't too long before the series leader passed me. I stayed on his wheel and passed him back shortly after.

He passed me again and the chase was on. I stayed right behind him but in one of the tight 180 degree corners I slid out and he opened a gap. I started to close it but the efforts from earlier in the week were making themselves known. He started to pull away, eventually finishing a minuter in front of me.

I was content to try and pick off as many of the B guys as I could since I had a comfortable lead ahead of second by over 5 minutes. I don't know the final results but I think I managed to finish in front of a number of younger B riders. Actually I think everyone was younger than me in this wave. Later I heard from some of my friends watching that someone had made a comment about "the old guy racing a SS" that was passing the geared riders. I resemble that remark!

The total race time was about 47 minutes and is one of the hardest types of racing in bicycling. But also one of the most fun as there is always someone around you or in front of you to catch. Racing on my mountain bike allowed me an advantage in some of the corners as I could dive inside people to take the line.

The cross season has just started but I'm not sure how many more I will have the chance to do based on other events coming up. It was fun though, in a masochistic sort of way.

Getting the holeshot







Sunday, September 28, 2008

30 Miles of Pain

Saturday I raced at a course I had never done before, one that a few of my friends had raced and they said it was fun. The Pine Haven trail is near Midland and the race is aptly titled "30 Miles of Pain Haven". It is a local affair that doesn't draw a big crowd but I've been to a few other races by the same promoter and the atmosphere is always good. Besides, when the after race nourishment is free pizza, chili and beer how can you not go?

A lot of the trail is very tight and twisty singletrack, not something that suits my ability. I have fun in it but I am not very fast in it. That causes me to work harder on the flats and hills to make up time. I've been working at improving but still have a ways to go.

The interesting thing about this race is that they have a mini one mile time trial before the XC portion of the race starts to determine your start order and how many seconds or minutes the guy(s) in front of you get. Part of the reason for this is to limit the amount of traffic entering the singletrack at one time since it is not very far from the start.

My TT time put me in a group with a racer from the Cycletherapy team comes into the shop alot. He and I are in different age groups but when we compare times at races we can literally be within a second or two of each other. I figured we could work together or push each other. I didn't know most of the other racers or even who was in my category. My age group was also expanded so that I was in a 42+ age instead of my normal 50+.

We started out fast, quickly catching the group that started 5 seconds before us. Once we got to a section of two track I accelerated to pass a few of the guys only to get passed back a little while later by one or two. We got into a long section of bumpy singletrack and I started to slow. I let my starting partner go ahead and he was able to pull away a little. But I caught him again on the open sections.

We spent most of the race in the same fashion, I would catch up only to lose time again in the tight sections. On the last lap he had more strength left than I did and ended up with a big enough lead that I couldn't catch him. I ended up 3rd in my class and actually won some money.

Although I didn't have as high a placing as I would like I was still satisfied with my overall performance. Having raced last weekend and also doing two hard training rides in the middle of the week I knew my legs would not be fresh. But the intent of this race was for the training aspect, plus to have some fun and not have any pressure to do well. Mission accomplished on all points.

Continuing the training philosophy, today I rode 50 miles at a moderate pace. Hard enough that I got the aerobic benefit but not too hard to over fatigue my legs. During the whole ride I kept telling myself that at the end I would stop and get doughnuts from the cider mill. It's amazing how that can motivate you to keep riding.

I've changed my training schedule over the last few weeks to better fit my work schedule. I have started to do more training in blocks, or back to back hard days. Then you have one or two days off or easy. Funny thing is that one of the newsgroups I subscribe to just had a coach's tip about the benefits of doing this type of scheduling. I think it seems to be working. I didn't feel as tired today as I thought I would after racing yesterday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One, nine or 27 gears - it's all good

A beautiful day brought out the biggest crowd in a long time at Addison and since it was now being run by the MMBA chapter as a benefit race, the larger turnout meant the chapter should clear close to $5-6,000. I spent part of yesterday helping to set up for the race and most of today helping as well.

For the race I had decided to race in my Expert age class on my Cannondale F29 1FG singlespeed bike. Most of this year the bike has been set up as a 1x9 for muddy races. But I was just treating this race as a training race since it was not of any real importance to me. But it's my home course and I'm one of the trail coordinators so I thought I should do it.

Knowing the course as well as I do has its advantages when running SS because you need all the momentum you can get to keep your speed up. There are only a couple of places at Addison where having multiple gears really helps. A couple of long straight sections can allow a geared bike to pull away.

We lined up eight deep for the start and when they said go the pace at which we started had me spinning like mad trying to stay with the leaders. I thought my legs and lungs were going to explode as we made our way up the first climb and I was in fourth, with a gap already back to fifth. I stayed with the front three for a while through the tight stuff but they pulled away on the open flat section.

I settled into as much of a rhythm as I could, hammering through the singletrack that I knew so well and trying not to lose too much time on the flats. Riding with only one gear forces you to attack hills and usually ride up some of them faster than if you were on a geared bike. it can also hurt more.

Later in the race I caught third place and slowly pulled away. I managed to extend my hold on third and stayed there to the finish. As much as I suffered I also had fun since it was not the same style of riding I had been doing most of the summer.

Now that the main XC season is basically over it's time to mix things up a bit. Next week is another 30 mile race at a venue I've never raced before so that should be fun and the week after I may do a cyclocross race. Something I haven't attempted in a few years. Then another cyclocross race or two and the Lake Orion XC race. The grand finale will be the Iceman but there may be another couple of 'cross races late in the year before taking some time off the bike. But before you know it our LOHS winter race will be just around the corner.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

That's a lot of rain

Like most areas of the Midwest, we were hit with a lot of rain this weekend. I think it has only stopped raining for about three of the last 48 hours or so. But we are fortunate compared to those along the gulf or even Illinois and Indiana that got more rain than we did. The rain certainly didn't help UM at the Notre Dame football game yesterday.

Rather than get wet I ended up putting the bike on the trainer for a two hour ride. After riding outside all summer it seemed hard to believe that two or three hour rides inside are common in the winter.

Today i took advantage of a lull in the rain to ride on the pavement for a while. Other than getting a flat tire the ride was uneventful and fortunately the rain stayed away until after I got home.

Next weekend is a race at Addison Oaks. The trails should be dried by then and I think I'll be racing on my SS but in my age class, just for fun. I may also try a cyclocross race or two in the coming weeks but I'll wait and see.

Photos from last week's race.

Preparing to hit a stretch of mud

In the mud

Happy that the race is almost over and things are drying up

It was worth it! State Champ!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

State Champ



Today was the last race of the USAC series and just like the first race, it started off in the mud. But this time it was from rain, not snow. The four laps of the Stony Creek XC course were projected to be fast but the early morning rain through the first two laps changed that.

There were nine in our class, which was surprisingly large given the weather. We took off and I assumed my now normal position in about fourth place, all of us running nose to tail. Once we got to the first section of singletrack I could sense the leader slowing a bit on the greasy conditions. One of the guys in front of me had a chain problem and I assumed third place.

We came out of the single track and the three of us began to pull away from the rest as I attempted to draft in the wet conditions. The large amount of muddy spray from the rider in front of me caused me to back off some to retain some vision.

As we were coming to the second singletrack section I made a move to pass the other two and get there first. I was familiar with the course and felt confident in my abilities to push the pace a little harder. I opened up a small lead and held it into the third and final section of singletrack but the other two caught and passed me shortly before the end of the first lap and I couldn't respond.

Assuming that one of those two would take the win, I could relax and cruise through the rest of the race, knowing that I had the series won based on points. I stayed in third for the next three laps and ended up with a really nice mirrored plaque for the series, a state championship medal, and a free entry to the sold out Iceman race in November.

As a bonus, the local cider mills opened this weekend and the drive home from the race had me pass by two of them. I stopped in and treated myself to two fresh doughnuts and also picked up a half gallon of cider.

There are a few more races around the state, including Addison Oaks where I am one of the trail coordinators. I'm not sure if I will race it but maybe I'll try something different at that race just for fun. The cyclocross season starts up next weekend and I may race one or two of these events. It's been a few years since I've done one. And of course we have the Lake Orion High School race next month and then Iceman on November 10th.

Monday, September 01, 2008

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I thought that in honor of Labor Day I might digress from my normal topic of biking and talk instead about jobs and professions. And in spite of the holiday nothing really on organized labor, other than to say I've worked on both sides.

When we are young people always ask us what we want o be when we grow up. Depending on your era, common answers (for boys) was fireman, policeman, astronaut, cowboy, doctor, or even president. All the normal occupations aspired to back in the 60's.

I was no different and as I got older I thought about being a gym teacher. I thought it would be cool to walk around in sweats all day and have ready access to the gym to shoot hoops or something. Then I was going to be a photographer, but started to realize that they didn't make much money.

I figured a business major was where I could do the best, not knowing really what I would do with it except find a good paying job. While in college I got a job working part-time at UPS and ended up becoming a supervisor, again part-time. I was making more money than some others I knew out of school so I figured I didn't need college any more and dropped out with a little over a year to go.

I was always interested in motorcycles and since I had extra time when I got through at UPS, I got a part-time job at a motorcycle accessory shop. When that shop went under a year later due to tax problems I saw that there was still a market for the business and opened my own shop, later quitting UPS.

I soon realized that I couldn't really support the family on the store earnings and started working part-time again; now for a delivery company, DHL. Later I closed the shop and decided that maybe a college education wasn't such a bad thing. By now I was full time at DHL but also was going to school full time.

Once I graduated I got a job as a trainee with an industrial laundry company and within a few months was transferred to their Albany, GA location to take over as plant superintendent while the previous guy was off in the Gulf War. I stayed there for several years before my position was eliminated.

One of my other passions while in Georgia was golf; part of my package was a membership at small country club where I played several times a week. When I lost my job I decided to go back to an agricultural school to become a golf course superintendent, later transferring into the hospitality end of the business.

Before I could finish school I got a call from a consulting company about interviewing for positions they had available. I had started to look for possible alternatives to the golf business since money was very tight.

I was hired by the consulting firm and got on a plane one Sunday afternoon in January to fly to Chicago for my first assignment. Imagine the shock when I got off the plane and it was -19 degrees. I had no winter gloves since they were not normally stocked in SW Georgia. It was so cold that first week that the transmission in the car froze up and we had to drive around the hotel in revers until it warmed up.

I spent about seven months flying back and forth to Chicago before we had another assignment in Ohio, at the Chrysler plant about 15 minutes from my parent's house. Here I was living in Georgia and flying up to Ohio every week and also getting to see my parents. I was sad when that assignment ended and I had to move on to another one in Chicago again.

By now I was getting tired of flying out every Sunday evening and back home on Friday evenings. I barely had time to do anything with the family before it was time to leave again.

I decided to call up some of the contacts I had made at the Chrysler plant and see if they had any openings. Within a month I was working for Chrysler and living with my parents while the kids finished school down in Georgia.

I worked in the plant for two years in production control before landing a corporate job in Auburn Hills at the Chrysler HQ. While here I have had several different positions. of course now with the shaky auto industry the time may come when I will change jobs again, either voluntarily or not.

So getting back to my post title, I guess I can say I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Hmm, maybe a gym teacher that teaches mountain bike classes?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eight trails in 64 miles

We had the day off on Friday so I had planned to get out and do a longer ride. I haven't done one in quite some time. The weather was calling for a chance of rain but the radar looked like the rain would pass to the north and south of us. I decided to resurrect an old ride that would take in many of the trails in the area.

I started with some older trails off the the PollyAnn trail; these were used a few years ago for a race and way back were part of some motorcycle trails; you could tell from the bermed corners. Unfortunately they had become overgrown so I spent some time ducking and weaving around the brush. And also getting very wet from the moisture still on the leaves from the rain the night before.

I then headed to Orion Oaks where I got even wetter when the rain decided to let loose in a short downpour. I had a rain jacket with me so put that on for the rest of the time in the park. The sun came out and the jacket off as I was leaving and heading to Lake Orion High School for a lap around the race course.

From the High School I entered Bald Mountain South for a partial lap and then headed over to Bald Mountain North. I rode most of a lap before exiting the trail and riding to Addison Oaks for a full lap.

After Addison I took the back roads over to Stony Creek and completed a lap of the XC course that will be used next weekend. On the way home I was on part of the Paint Creek Trail before the final short stretch of roads back to the house.

I could have ridden down to Bloomer for a lap after Stony but decided that I had enough for the day. Maybe later in the fall I will do the ride again and pick up Bloomer as well as the Macomb Orchard Trail and the Clinton River Trail as well. As it was I had 64 miles and only 24 of that was on roads. Even when on the roads only a little over 7 of the 24 miles were paved, the rest were dirt.

Yesterday I was talking to my team mate Bernie and we decided to get together for a ride today. It turned out to be somewhat similar to my Friday ride except that we skipped Orion Oaks. We started with the high school course and then headed to Bald Mountain North. Then we did an easy lap at Addison with another team member and his friend who was camping there. Bernie and I then headed over to Stony so he could check out the XC course as well.

By the time we got back the sun was starting to cook us and I could feel the effects of Friday's ride plus from my ride yesterday testing my SS gearing. We had almost 48 miles and again, a majority of that was on the trails. In spite of being tired it was nice to ride with someone for a change.

I'm glad tomorrow is another day off work, I need it to recover from the weekend.

Hopefully I will be able to post the flyer to the October 26 LOHS running and mountain bike race pretty soon. We should have it down this week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sure is quiet


Jason and family left Friday afternoon to start their trip back to Spokane. After being here for almost three weeks it was very hard to see them go. We had a great time with the whole family and enjoyed the chance to see our grandson. The house didn't seem the same once they left.

During the time they were here I had taken vacation so that means I have to go back to work tomorrow. That will seem strange that I have to get up early again and play the corporate game. I wish I was a year and a half older, I would have been eligible for a retirement package from Chrysler. I think I would take it and look for another line of work.

Today was the Pontiac Lake XC race, part of the USAC series where I currently hold the series lead in my class. This is probably one of the harder courses in this series with lots of climbing and rough downhills. It is also one of the more popular trails in the area and gets a lot of riders on a daily basis.

I started out well, running fourth in a paceline at the start and eventually working up to 1st as the other riders in front of me would make mistakes or take bad lines. That lead didn't last for the whole lap though as two of them went past me before the end of the first lap and another after starting the second lap, putting me back in fourth again. I stayed there for the rest of the race but finished in front of the two closest to me in the overall points chase.

So now it's back to work and a normal schedule with the next race not until two weeks at Stony Creek. This will be the last race in the USAC series and one of the final important XC races for me until the Iceman race in November

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ft. Custer TT


Instead of racing the Pando 12 hour we decided to make a day of it at the Eastern Market. Or to be more precise, the morning at the market turned into a lot longer than originally planned once Sandy and Emily found the antique shops and recycled clothing. Both came away with some new (old) hats but now I've heard that they need to go shopping for something to wear with them!

Today Jason, Emily, Oliver and I headed to Ft. Custer to race the last event of this year's time trial. The neat thing about a TT is that you can start with someone other than in your age group if you are both in the same category. Jason and I signed up so we could start at the same time. A father and son battle to be first across the finish.

Jason wasn't feeling confident in his ability to outlast me but I told him I was going to use him as a rabbit to set the opening pace. I needed to finish ahead of a particular racer in order to earn 2nd place for the TT series. Once we started Jason took off and I chased after him as he opened an early gap.

I caught up to him as he lead the way for the first few miles. At one point I bobbled and lost him but before too long I saw him ahead as we came to a small climb. Once the climb got steeper I passed him as he was starting to struggle. I kept the pace up as long as I could that Jason had set early on but eventually I backed off to a more comfortable tempo, if there is such a thing in a TT.

Parts of the course were familiar from the spring XC race but other sections I hadn't ridden in four years. I played it safe around lots of corners since I wasn't sure what to expect. There were a couple of exciting moments as the sandy corners would cause the front end to slide but I managed to stay upright.

I ended up with 2nd place in my class for the day, about a minute back from the winner. I didn't feel too bad knowing that I had gone about as fast as I could. At least I didn't get beat by one one hundredth of a second like some of the Olympic swimmers. That would be tough to take. I also managed to secure second place for the series and received a really nice engraved plaque.

This week will be Jason and Emily's last week here before leaving for Spokane. We have a few things planned but mainly plan on sticking around as much as possible. Then for me there is the Pontiac XC race next Sunday.

Oliver gets carried in style when we go out.


He was facintated by the brick wall while the rest of the family shopped.


Showing off his teeth that are coming in.


Posing for the press


Discussing race strategy just before starting


Podium spots


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Family Time Part 2


Jason and Emily went up to a friend's cottage for a few day which meant we got to be the typical Grandma and Grandpa and spoil Oliver. We took him to the Armada fair today and are happy to report that he approves of french fries and hand squeezed lemonade. He mad friends with a few of the animals while he was there.

Earlier in the week everyone went out to Cook's Dairy Farm for some of their fabulous ice cream and Oliver had a few close and personally encounters with the cows. The have t-shirts for sale that described it perfectly, "I got licked at Cook's Dairy Farm". That cow's tongue moved pretty fast.

Hopefully we will get a chance to get to the zoo and up to Frankenmuth, maybe take in the Renaissance festival in Holly. On Sunday Jason and I are racing the time trial at Ft. Custer. We decided not to do the 12 hour race on Saturday and spend more time with the family.

Playing in the cold fountains by the Ren Center in downtown Detroit.


Ice cream at the dairy farm


New friends at the fair


Farmer Oliver


Looking at all the sights at the fair made Oliver tired.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Family Time


We had been eagerly waiting for the arrival of Jason, Emily and our grandson Oliver. Although we were keeping up on Oliver's growth through Jason's blog, we have only seen him in person twice, once a month after he was born and then again in February when we was about four months old. Plus we had not seen Jason since November.

The family arrived by train on Monday evening and will be here fro about three weeks. Oliver had begun crawling shortly before coming to our place and pulling himself up to stand which meant we needed to literally baby proof the house at a different level.

My parents came up for the weekend to see both their grandsons and great grandson as well as to get better acquainted with Emily. They had only managed to meet her briefly back in December of '06. On Friday I was fortunate to get three tickets to the PGA from my friend Mark; my dad, Jason and I spent the morning at the tournament. We also spent the rest of the day in the doghouse since we had taken the vehicle with Oliver's carseat. We didn't realize it until we got to the event.

With everyone coming we hired a photographer to take some family pictures. Oliver didn't seem especially pleased about it but we managed to get a few smiles out of him. Later we has some of the kids' friends over for a barbecue.

The next two weeks will be spent going here and there and the kids getting away for awhile by themselves as we babysit. Jason and I are supposed to race this weekend on a team but we will see how he is feeling. A little over a week ago he had his wisdom teeth pulled and is still feeling a little bit of an effect from that.





Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dry and Sandy Big M


Sunday I returned to the site of the Lumberjack 100 but for a much shorter USAC XC race. The race course ran in the opposite direction of the 100 mile race and only used 6.5miles of the 25 mile endurance loop. We had perfect weather for the start of the race and the driest race so far this year. In fact, much of the course has sandy patches that were no problem for those of us running 29” tires.

I ran with the eventual leaders for a half a lap before falling back, feeling the efforts of three consecutive weeks of racing. I ended up fourth but ahead of my closest rivals in the chase for series points. Next up will be a 12 hour race as part of a team, racing with my son who is in town visiting from Spokane and then a time trial the next day where I can wrap up a top three spot in that series as well.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

My 15 minutes of fame


Someone told me that Cannondale had linked my rider bio to their front page. So for a short time, anyone that goes to the Cannondale main page will see my name and can link to find out more about me. They took some of my answers to questions and turned them into a bio. Cool!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A race with no rain!

Wow! The Stony TT was completed on a darn near perfect day. There was a good breeze blowing but it was head wind on the way out. A pretty big crowd showed up as well as the trails are popular among the eastsiders plus it was one of the MMBA races. The time trial format is also a popular way for newbies to get into racing since instead of a mass start you go off two at a time every 30 seconds.

I wasn't sure what to expect since my legs were feeling pretty good but I still had a little muscle soreness from last week's race. And yesterday while preridng a section of the course I hit an overhanging branch hard enough to about knock me off my bike. I thought I may have cracked my helmet I hit it so hard. As a result I have a little stiffness in the neck but otherwise I'm OK. I would have said I was knocked silly but others would ask how I would be able to tell.

I was one of the last starters and ended up trading leads with the guy I started with. I managed to drop my chain twice and also forgot my water bottle. I'm not sure what was going on today. I ended up third in my class, 15 seconds behind 2nd place. I checked the results from last year and ironically the guy that beat me this year lost to me last year by 15 seconds.

This was not an important race for me and it was more of a filler; a race to keep me tuned up if I decide to head north next weekend for the race near Manistee. That race will be part of the series I have a shot of winning. It would be nice to have an insurance race in the bank so that I don't have to rely on finishing the last two races in the series.

In a little over a week Jason and family arrive for a three week visit before heading back to their new place in Spokane. They have been spending the last few weeks visiting Emily's family and friends in Indiana and Illinois.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Practice makes perfect

Practice in the mud that is. And I've certainly had plenty of opportunities to race in the mud this year.

Today was the Ruby XC race and I already knew I would be getting wet since the course crosses a river twice on each lap. But the weather forecast called for overnight rain and into the morning and of course this forecast they got correct.

Bernie and I drove up this morning and we hit harder rain just before the course. With the wet conditions and falling rain it made it easy to decide which bike to use. The 1x9 with Michelin XC tires came out and the fully geared bike stayed in the van. This is essentially the same bike setup I used at Pontiac this spring and the Stony race a few weeks ago. Except this time I had a slightly smaller chainring on the front to make it easier to climb the couple of hills this course had.

At the start I got in right behind the fastest guy in our group as we headed into the first section of singletrack, the other guys were right behind me. At the start of the race we had warned each other to stay safe and take it easy but it didn't take too long before I heard the guy behind me crash. "That's the first one," I told the guy in front of me, figuring there would be more to come.

A little later he had trouble on some roots going up a hill and I went around him. I knew he was having a little more trouble with the mud than I was so I tried to push my advantage in case it started to dry out. By the end of the first lap I had a lead of about two minutes.

For the next three laps I concentrated on trying to stay upright and only fell once, when I put my foot down on a slippery bridge section. The mud began to get thicker and the course faster as it stopped raining and began drying. I was worried the others would begin to catch me.

I also had some problems with the chain skipping on the two smallest cogs as the mud packed the cassette. On one lap through the river I stopped to try and wash some of it off. The river was deep enough that most people were running with their bikes instead of riding. The water actually felt refreshing as it was not too cold to cause a shock to the system or to cause the muscles to cramp.

I managed to extend my lead over second place to four minutes to take the win. I actually had a good time in the mud. I always seem to do fairly well in the nastier conditions; part of is from practice and the other from having a positive outlook. It also helps when you have the right equipment.

Next race I know I will get wet again, even if it doesn't rain. The Stony Creek time trial runs through a creek twice but it is usually pretty shallow. The current forecast for next week's race actually says 0% chance of rain. I won't know what to do.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lazy weekend

Even though I spent some longer time on the bike this weekend it seemed like a lazy couple of days. Sandy and I had dinner at the White Horse Inn on Saturday and I made my marinated shrimp and chicken barbecue for Greg's birthday dinner today. Topped off by finishing the bottle of Riesling and some of my wife's orange cake I was ready for a nap on the couch.

The legs are starting to come around and hopefully they will be ready for the next couple of weekends in a row of racing. I haven't decide if I'll head back north in a few weeks for the Big M race but first I have two other ones to contest.

Jason and family are moving to Spokane tomorrow and then start their eastern trip to Indiana and then here for a few weeks. And if you hadn't read it on Jason's blog, they found out last week that their new addition will be a girl. We are looking forward to seeing them all in a few weeks.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Oliver seems to get this grin on his face a lot. I wonder what he's planning?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Downtime


I didn't ride the bike for five days in a row, and on purpose. I had to look way back in my training log to see when the last time was that I had taken that much time off in a row. My legs were fatigued from the early season racing and training and not responding the way they should. I was going to take more time off but this weekend's weather was just too hard to ignore the bike.

I am easing back into the training, having rode for a short and easy ride on Saturday and a little longer today. I don't want to push hard as I can still feel a little fatigue in on of the quads. Saturday's ride made me feel like I had lost all my fitness but today was about back to normal. The first day after a down day is always the hardest, after five it was even worse. That is why the Tour de France riders get out and ride on their rest days; they want to keep their legs relatively active.

Work is supposed to be taking some downtime as well. A few months ago they announced that the company would be having a two week shutdown in July. As it turns out a lot of people are working anyway, including my me. A good indication of the number that will continue to come to work is that the fitness center will remain open along with one of the cafeterias. I'm glad I don't have to take a forced vacation as I'm saving mine for when Jason and family come back for a three week visit in August.

Speaking of the Montana (soon to be Washington) family, Greg has been out there visiting since last Sunday. I guess they have been having a good time enjoying the outdoors by hiking and rafting. They had a close encounter with a bear on one hike. Greg has also bee beating up on his brother while playing roller hockey.

The house has been pretty quiet with Greg gone. In fact the whole neighborhood has been strangely silent given that it was a holiday weekend. We didn't hear many kids around or even a lot of fireworks this year. Speaking of fireworks, Sandy and I parked the van at the rail trail and rode our bikes up into town to watch the fireworks. It is only about a mile and a half ride each way and it eliminates any traffic problems.

Hopefully I can get back into decent shape for the next couple of races as there are a couple of them in a row starting in two weeks. And then the kids come in to town and we will be busy with other things.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

That wasn't so bad

Even though we had heavy rain in the early morning hours the race course for the Stony Marathon wasn't too muddy. I got the most mud on me from being behind people when we were on the two track and we were riding through puddles. I was actually hoping for more rain during the race because some of the mud in the singletrack started turning to the consistency of peanut butter. The rain would have made it easier to ride through.

I wasn't sure how I would be feeling since my legs and HR haven't seemed to be cooperating with any higher intensity riding. I figured I would just hang out in the back and see what happened.

From the start the pace was much less frantic than a normal XC race, probably because we knew we would be racing for close to five hours. I had no problem staying with my age group as we made our way around the course. We had one guy go off the front but no one made an attempt to chase him down.

Once the trail opened up onto the relatively flat two track I felt like I could probably open it up some since I knew I would have problems on the hills. I seemed to be able to ride fairly fast on the flats without a problem. I took the lead of our group and slowly stretched it out, eventually catching and passing the early break away.

I stayed in first for the end of the first lap but half way through the second lap the original front runner caught me on a hill but then I caught him back again on the flats. We traded positions through the rest of the lap and half of the next until i backed off, trying to at least salvage a finish. I was concerned that if I raced him instead of riding my own pace I wouldn't finish at all.

About half way through the race I started getting lots of cramps in various leg muscles as the legs seemed to stop working well. The cramps would come and go throughout the remaining three laps.

One time my rear wheel slid out on a root and I fell, causing both my legs to instantly cramp, much to the amusement of the rider I was passing as he was pushing his bike up the hill. I lay there for a few seconds trying to stretch the legs out. I managed to get back on and keep going but I could feel my legs wanting to stop at any second.

I managed to hang on for second place. With this race worth double points in the local USAC series it gave me a good chance for a top three overall position at the end of the season. Of course, there are a few more races that I have to do well at. Anything can still happen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Here we go again



Tomorrow is a 60 mile race at Stony Creek Metropark and of course we will have rain and wet conditions to deal with. In fact, we have had quite a bit of rain already this week and the course has been altered to avoid some of the mud.

I rode parts of the course today and surprisingly much of it was dry or just damp. The soil is a sand and gravel mixture on the two track and more clay in the singletrack. Most of the 10 mile loop is on the two track which means mostly just puddles. But it also means picking up a lot of sandy grit to wear away your chain and drivetrain.

I an still having a few issues with having the power fade in a short time so I may not be racing tomorrow and end up taking some time off the bike to fully recover. But it will be hard to avoid the temptation to play in the mud (again).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

At least the grass is growing

The rain has been affecting the riding this year but at least the grass is growing. Of course that means cutting the grass more often. I actually have some grass in spots that hasn't had grass in years.

This weekend was spent working on a new trail connector at Addison Oaks as well as betting in a couple of training rides while trying to avoid the rain showers. Of course it rained before the trail work and the brush was wet, meaning we soon were also. The section of trail we are working on is like a jungle, very thick undergrowth that is difficult to clear.

Later in the afternoon I headed over to Stony Metropark to ride next week's marathon race course. It had been a while since I've ridden there plus I rode the bike with the power meter to get a feel for what kind of wattage a lap would have.

This morning I went out for a longer ride and hit up the high school trails as well as Bald Mountain north and south and Addison Oaks. It was a beautiful morning to be out. I flushed a large buck at the school; the deer had a nice rack growing.

Next Saturday is the marathon MTB race, 6 laps that should take somewhere around 5 hours to complete. True to form, they are calling for a chance of rain and thunderstorms almost every day through race day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lumberjack 100

Carrying on this year's trend of rain affecting my races, the area that the Lumberjack race was held at received over 11 inches of rain on Thrusday night. The city of Manistee was also hit by high winds, bringing down many big limbs and trees, some onto buildings. The city was also without power.

The motel we stayed at was about 15 miles east and not affected. The trail was also surprisingly dry, thanks in a large part to its sandy soil base. There were a few trees down on the portion we rode but nothing like the damage we saw in town.

Race morning was clear and cool. After a two mile start on the road I was in a pretty good place entering the trail and continued to work my way forward. Coming into the back part of the course, a little more than half way through the 25 mile loop, we encountered the water filled trenches we had heard about. There was no place to go but through them. The water in some spots was about two feet deep of balck water. You had no idea what was underneath. Other spots along this stretch were dry, teasing you into thinking that your were done with the water and then you hit another stretch.

I felt good until starting the second lap when my back started acting up. I had done something to it last week while working on the school race trails. I also was losing power. I had noticed that since the Mohican 100 race two weeks ago my heart rate didn't seem to be responding to hard efforts. I have not determined the cause yet.

I finally decided to abandon the race at the end of the second lap. Since I will probably not be able to do the minimum to qualify for the NUE series we decided not to do the Wilderness 101 in Pennsylvanial next month. Especially with the price of gas. This trip was only four hours each way and cost $140 in gas alone. The upside of stopping early is that we were able to get home last night instead of this afternoon.

I now need to figure out what to do to salvage the rest of the season. And think about racing in general and how I want to proceed.

Lake Orion High School Results June 11

Results from the June 11, 2008 race. We may have more races later this year. Thanks to everyone for coming out and thanks to our sponsors Cycletherapy, Rochester Bike Shop and Peppy's Pizza.

Read this document on Scribd: June 11 08 final results