Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In the woods

It seems like I spend a lot of time in the woods. Mountain biking is my main hobby and most of my riding is done on trails that wind their way through old growth timber. I have always liked being outdoors and was lucky enough to grow up in a rural area where I could walk out my back door and go for miles through the fields, woods and rivers. At one time I even wanted to become a forest ranger.

Our house was on a 5 acre lot but it was surrounded by empty fields that backed up to the forest and the same across the street. Even as a kid I was into building trails for my mini-bike and then dirt bikes. Some things never change.

But now I have traded the motor for pedals but still love to build trails out in the woods. I have worked on most of the major trails in my immediate area, either helping lay out or install new sections or simply maintaining the existing ones. These trails include Bald Mountain, Addison Oaks, Stony Creek, Bloomer, Pontiac Lake, and Maybury. When I first got involved with the Michigan Mountain Biking Association(MMBA)I was all over the area working at the trail days. Now days I pretty much stick closer to home.

I am fortunate to have the Lake Orion High School property within a half mile from my house and that the school property is a great piece of real estate for mountain biking. The multiple elevation changes on their meadows and woods has allowed me to build quite a few sections of singletrack and to tie them all together and also access the Bald Mountain trails. The school grounds crew has been super supportive of my efforts and assisted in so many ways to help put the trails in.

This past weekend I pretty much finished up another section of trail that while not being lengthy, will provide a few neat features but took a lot of work on a couple of sections. The best part about these trails is when other people ride them and are amazed at the trails they never knew existed. As a bonus it gives me a great workout, both while building them and then as an almost private training grounds.

Those that have ridden all the sections know that my trails can give you a good technical tree avoidance as well as cardio workout due to all the climbing. The terrain does not allow for many climbs to be rolled into; it's more descend, turn, and climb. But that is what makes the most difference in racing, climbing and the ability to hold sustained efforts. The latter I still need to work on but with a ready made course less than a five minute ride from my house I can easily get in the practice.

Hopefully some of these workouts have helped me get ready for the Lumberjack 100 this weekend. I didn't fare well there last year as I pulled out after 50 miles as I didn't seem to have any energy. This will be my fourth year in a row for this race and my field looks tougher than ever. There are 32 men registered in my class; I think that is the biggest field for my group in any of the 100's I have done. I know of at least ten that could be contenders for top honors. The forecast for rain may play a factor in who survives until the end.

I am traveling with my usual pit crew of Robin and Shari. We will spend Thursday night at their cabin on Higgins Lake and then head up to the race site Friday morning. The best pit sites fill up early so we will stake our claim and then head over to our rental chalet. This place will be new to us but it is a three bedroom house that we will be sharing with some other racers that we know. The place has satellite TV, AC, gas grill, kitchen, etc. And the best part is the cost is about the same as one tiny hotel room yet this is closer to the race. Hopefully this will be a place we will want to return to every year.

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