Sunday, April 27, 2008

Active Recovery

The week was spent in recovery mode as far as any hard efforts on the bike. I did get a couple of days on the local trails to just ride how I felt. It seemed like the legs were getting better but not ready to win any races. Too bad though as I rode down to watch the start of the Bloomer race and there were only four guys in my class this week. I doubt I would have beat anybody but it would have been some easy points for fifth.

Saturday there were nine of us, including four kids, that spent the morning raking the Addison Oaks trails and making sure all the trees were cleared. After we were done the trail was in excellent shape. In fact, I did three laps after the trail work. I am more tired today from hiking with the leaf blower than I am from riding.

It was strange today on my ride back from the Bloomer race; I passed three different guys jogging toward me that were each wearing the same marathon race t-shirt and also wearing earphones. It reminded me of the Groundhog Day movie where the same thing happens over and over.

The rest of the day is reserved for yard work and around the house chores. Maybe this will be the year I can get some grass to grow in our front yard.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lake Orion High School Race Series

Here is a link to the race series that the school is putting on.

LOHS MTB Race Information

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cohutta 100 report

Four of us left for Tennessee on Thursday evening, driving part way that night so that we wouldn't have as far to drive on Friday. Robin had his portable navigation system supposedly so we could find our way but I think the real reason he brought it was to find the coffee shops along the way,

After getting breakfast we headed out while he searched for a coffee shop near our route. The computer found one a few exits ahead so we proceeded to follow the directions through a residential neighborhood until we found ourselves on a dead end street overlooking the freeway. We think the address it gave us may have been for someone who works out of their home as a salesperson. The funny thing was that on our way back to the freeway we found a coffee shop right where one of our turns was. And it wasn't in the navigation database.

Tennessee is beautiful this time of year and the trees and flowers seemed to be out more that at last year's race. We pre-rode part of the course on Friday afternoon after picking up our registration materials. The weather was great, sunny and warm. The weather forecast was calling for overnight rain though.

When we awoke at 4:45 it was pouring rain and had been raining for some time. It let up before the race started at 7:00 but still continued off and on for a while. The weather was also cool but it was supposed to clear up later. The first section of trails were very muddy and I started to get some bad chainsuck before we were through. Once we got to the roads they were soft from the rain and seemed very slow.

I was still having problems with the chain and after about 18 miles the chain jammed and caused the rear derailleur to get bent into the spokes as I started up a hill. It also bent the hanger. Fortunately I carry a spare hanger so I made the repair but it took me 15-20 minutes.

I managed to finish the race but I did not have a good finish time and ended up 7th. I know the mechanical probably cost me two places and they gave out awards to the top 5. The 50+ class is really competitive this year and I'll have my work cut out for me at the rest of the races.

Thanks to Shari and Ryan for providing support.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Heading south

We are leaving this evening for the Cohutta 100 race. It sold out this year so there should be a good size field at the start. Last year we were fortunate to not have any rain during the four 100 mile races we attended. At least not any rain while we were riding. At Mohican there was rain out on the course but I never ran in to it.

It doesn't look as promising for this weekend. Wouldn't you know it? Every day but race day looks nice. At least it might be warm.

Thursday Apr 17
High: 74 °F RealFeel®: 79 °F
Plenty of sun; pleasant this afternoon
Thursday Night, Apr 17

Friday Apr 18
High: 76 °F RealFeel®: 76 °F
Partly sunny

Saturday Apr 19
High: 69 °F RealFeel®: 63 °F
Mostly cloudy and not as warm with a thunderstorm

Sunday Apr 20
High: 75 °F RealFeel®: 76 °F
Partly sunny and warmer

Monday Apr 21
High: 80 °F RealFeel®: 79 °F
Warm with times of clouds and sun

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lake Orion High School Spring MTB Race Series

I've been working with the school to put on more races after we had a successful winter race and we got the OK to proceed with a three race, weeknight series with separate races for school kids and adults, starting May 8th. The other two dates are May 21 and June 4. We have a reserve date of June 11 in case we need to cancel a race due to adverse trail conditions. All races will be held at Lake Orion High School and the course length will be about 2-2.2 miles.

This is a low key, fun race series being promoted as both mid-week training races and a way to get the kids (and anyone else) out on the bikes and introduce them to mountain bike racing. Don't expect a lot of fancy timing, awards, etc. We want to have fun and promote the sport, especially at the school level, and hopefully see the series grow into something larger.

The particulars (once flyers are completed and up on a website I will post a link):

School races start at 5:00 with male and female elementary, middle, and high school divisions. Race distances will be adjusted by class.

Adult races should start about 6:30 and we will have male and female Citizen, Sport, and Advanced classes, with two age groups, <35 and 35+. Advanced female will not be split by age. Again laps will be adjusted by class. Hopefully race times will be about 30, 45, and 60 minutes depending on class.

Cost is $15 per race in advance, $20 day of. But you can pre-register for all three races for $40. There is a good possibility that t-shirts may be included in the pre-registration fee. Can't beat that!

In addition, on May 1st the Cycletherapy race team will host a MTB clinic at the school at 6:30. It will be a chance to come out and find out more about racing and mountain biking in general. I should have the potential course marked so you can check it out and bring the kids to give it a try as well so they won’t be intimidated come race day.

I want to thank Paint Creek Bicycles, Rochester Bike Shop, and Cycletherapy for each agreeing to sponsor one of the races and provide bike inspection (required for registration). If you stop in one of these shops be sure to say thanks for supporting this grassroots series.

Please get the word out to anyone you know that may be interested in giving racing a try. And especially encourage the kids and/or if you have school contacts you can let them know as well.

My goal is to someday see mountain bike racing become a regular school sport here in Michigan. Not to mention that I won’t have far to drive to get in a race.

Pontiac Lake TT, Part 2

I was talking to my coach, Terry Ritter of FPTS, after the race and I commented that some of his other coached racers had done well also in the race. He remarked that he would always feel good if his athletes achieved success, whether he personally had a successful race or not.

I would say he should be happy with the way the year is starting out. In addition to my win:

The winner of the women's Expert/Elite category, Karey Collins, is also coached by Terry. It was her maiden race on her new Giant Anthem Advanced mountain bike, racing for Team Giant-Michigan.

Kevin Skipworth, racing for City Bike Shop, took second in the Men's Sport 40-44 class.

Race results of the time trial

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Race Report: Pontiac Lake TT or Our Personal Hell of the North

In a fitting tribute to the famous Hell of the North road race taking place across the pond, Mother Nature saw fit to put her personal touch on the opening race of the 2008 Michigan mountain bike racing season. The first race of the year was a 19 mile time trial held as part of the Michigan USAC state championship series. Racers were prepared to face some muddy conditions based on the continual rain that fell the day before but they woke this morning to an inch of snow and temperatures hovering just above freezing. Additional snowfall during the early part of the race coated the trees and bushes, providing an almost surreal feeling while zipping through the woods and fields.

Arriving at the race I quickly registered and began my warm-up sitting on the trainer and tried to stay warm. I had prepared my Cannondale 1FG F29 especially for this race by putting on a derailleur hanger and running the bike as a 1x9. I knew the course and mud would not really allow much use of the big ring and I wouldn’t have to worry about shifting problems. Braking however was another matter.

We were mixed up in the starting order for day of registrants and I was lined up behind another racer in my class, one of the faster racers last year. I didn’t know who else was racing today since we started every 30 seconds and you didn’t know where anybody was on the course. Once the gun went off I tried to keep a steady pace since I figured it would be about 1:40 for a finishing time. The mud made some of the corners slick but the Michelin XC AT 29’er tires provided superb traction. Less than two miles in I caught the guy in my class and quickly passed him.

I continued to pass other riders that started ahead of me and was occasionally caught by others from behind. Half way through the first lap I was coming down a rough section just before a turn and as I grabbed the rear brake nothing happened except the lever went all the way to the bar. For the rest of the race I had to rely on the front brake only. I did take it easy coming into the corners after that so I had to push a little harder elsewhere. Besides, brakes only slow you down, right?

I ended up winning my class, a great way to start off the year. Maybe I should take the rear brake off for every race! Oh, and I caused the problem with the brake. In bleeding the brake last night I forgot to put the retaining screw back in and as a result actually lost a brake pad. You can bet I’ll be double checking that from now on.

Our new team kit got lots of compliments and it felt great to be standing on the top step of the podium at the first race of the year. On to Cohutta next week. From hypothermia to sunstroke.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


The weather finally turned to spring like conditions this weekend and allowed me to complete my workouts as scheduled, with the exception of Friday which was rained out. So I moved Friday's workout back to the trainer.

But on Saturday I was able to get in almost 7 hours on the MTB and just over 100 miles. I rode the hills in my area during the ride so I got plenty of practice climbing in preparation for Cohutta in two weeks. Although the hills are a lot bigger down south that also means plenty of recovery on the downhills. We don't have that luxury here so you tend to attack the hills a little harder.

Today I got in another 3 hours and over 50 miles but on a somewhat flatter profile. I ended up out at Stony Creek Metropark on the road where I successfully avoided being caught by a group of three roadies. I don't know if they realized they were chasing a mountain bike with full fenders. A lot of people were out today enjoying the warm temperatures but I hope all those running around in shorts and short sleeved shirts at 55 degrees don't get sick. It was nice to finally be able to shed some of the winter riding gear though.

This week is the Pontiac Lake TT and it looks like it could be kind of sloppy. I am scheduled to race it but it may be a game time decision. For now I'm turning my SS into a 1x9 in anticipation of the nasty weather since I don't want to risk the chance of ruining my other bike a week before Cohutta. Besides, in muddy conditions the less gears the better.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Lizard Rides Again!

Posted today on the Cannondale web site:
SoBe/Cannondale Team Reunites on Pro-Am Race Circuit. SoBe and Cannondale Bicycle Corp. are again teaming up to field approximately 50 riders on the co-ed SoBe/Cannondale mountain bike team.

“The reunion of SoBe and Cannondale lends a lot of excitement and value to the cycling scene,” says Jeff Dubiel, vice president of marketing for SoBe. “SoBe has always been about healthy, activing living, and this team helps us underscore that message. We’re thrilled to be back in the mountain biking arena, and look forward to delivering the fun and function of SoBe to mountain biking fans.”

The pro-am team is comprised of riders ranging from age 17 to 40-plus. Riders participate in all off-road events, from the Great Divide Race to short track to dual slalom races. During the three-year contract, the team will receive mechanical support from Eric Saletel, a U.S. Cycling Federation-trained mechanic with experience wrenching on the World Cup circuit. Saletel will drive a truck towing a fully stocked, 36-foot trailer emblazoned with the team’s distinctive graphics.

“We’re elated to have SoBe partnering with us once again,” says Matt Mannelly, CEO of Cannondale Bicycles Corp. “This team hits a unique sweet spot in the cycling world, giving up-and-coming riders the opportunity to hone their skills against more seasoned, professional riders. The all-inclusive nature of the team simultaneously inspires outdoor sports participation from non-racers.”

News from work, Chrysler plans big tech job cuts

Hundreds to lose their positions in outsourcing
Free Press article
Detroit News article

Many readers know that I work for Chrysler as a business consultant in the IT section. I don't normally write about work too much unless it had to do with something I did like my trips to Germany. But yesterday the Chrysler IT employees were all told officially about the changes that are coming to our area.

I have known somewhat was was coming for some time now and in fact I have been in meetings the last few days with a few others to help design how we will continue to deal with our customers in certain areas and what the new role of the business consultant will be. It is being given additional emphasis in the wake of the announcement.

I think that I, as well as most of my current Chrysler colleagues, will be safe from the cuts mentioned as our area has already been close to meeting the target reduction through other means. But it appears that a lot of our long time contractors may be replaced with the new companies. It is a shame to see them go as they are valued workers and we have developed good friendships over the years. For those in the Detroit area and the automotive industry in particular it is becoming a common occurrence. But it doesn't make it any easier.