Sunday, July 26, 2009

Turning back the pages to the times I love best

The title is one of the lines from Gordon Lightfoot's song, Carefree Highway. I thought it was an appropriate blog title since Sandy and I went to see Gordon in concert at Meadowbrook this past Thursday evening. What makes the line even more meaningful is that Sandy and I went to see Gordon in concert on one of our first few dates, back in Cleveland in 1977. The theater back then was in the round and we had close to front row seats.

This time I got an offer through Chrysler for discounted lawn tickets and I thought it would be great to see him again after all these years. I took the day off work so Sandy and I could spend it together. The weather forecast was not promising so in the morning I stopped by the box office and upgraded to pavilion seats. I was surprised that I was able to get center aisle seats, about 20 rows back. Maybe not so surprising since Gordon's popularity probably peaked about 30 years ago.

The night turned out to be a pleasant one and no rain came down during the concert. But the seats we had were definitely a good investment as we had perfect viewing. Gordon's voice still had the familiar sound, just not quite as rich. Of course at age 71 it is to be expected. But I must admit he looks all of his age. The band members were the same ones we had seen 32 years ago except they added a keyboard player. All in all it was great night and it took us back to our courting days. Only this time I didn't have to drop her off at her parents. ;-)

I spent most of my riding this week at a slower price as my knee started to heal. I checked out the Stony TT course on Thursday and Friday in case I decided to enter the race on Sunday. I packed the van last night with the bikes and gear in anticipation of racing. I went over to STony early this morning so I could check out the course conditions from yesterday's rain and also check how my knee was doing.

Initially the knee felt good and the course was also in great shape. As I was riding I added a little more power to the pedal stroke and could tell that I was not yet at 100% on the knee. I headed back to start area and decided to not sign up for the race, waiting until next week to try again. The promoter had raised the price for this race above the normal entry fee and combined with a race that should only take about 50 minutes, I couldn't see paying to race at 85% strength.

Next week is a 6/12 hour race and again at Stony Creek, this time put on by a different promoter. There will be four different MTB races there this year and so far I've missed the first two. Then the week after is the Saturday race at LOHS. And Jason's family will be here!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Renewed my membership in the OTB club

The picture pretty much sums up the endurance race I attempted yesterday, the Ithaca 6/12 hour. OTB stands for Over The Bars. I decided two days before to do the race and also to ride in the singlespeed class; I had not raced the SS yet this year. Ithaca is a great SS course as it is fairly tight and twisty with very little elevation change.

I had planned on doing a prerace lap to get a feel for the course but decided to just wait for the race itself. With a planned six hours and laps usually in the mid twenty minute range I would have plenty of time to learn the course. Chris Werth had done a lap earlier and told me the course was pretty fast and he thought it was better than when we run it in the opposite direction. I decided to switch the gearing on my bike to set it up for a little more speed.

At the start I lined up with two of my riding buddies, Mark and Wayne, also in the six hour SS class and we sized up the remaining competition. One rider I knew and was fairly confident that he would start out fast but fade in the later hours, the other I didn't know at all. Mark and Wayne are fast as they usually only ride SS's. I had done quite a bit of riding leading up to the race since I hadn't originally planned on racing. I wasn't sure how my legs would respond.

We rolled out at the start and the younger rider I knew, Brendan, jumped in front. I was a couple of riders back and content to sit back with Mark and Wayne a few more riders in back of me. One of the few climbs we encountered fairly early in the race had some roots on it and Brendan slipped his back wheel causing him to crash. A couple of us went around him but it wasn't long before he was right on my tail.

It seemed like we carried on a conversation for most of the first lap as I was content to not push much but occasionally push the speed in the open sections, forcing Brendan to chase me. With my taller gearing I was able to generate a higher top speed. I also made a few passes of other riders where I knew Brendan would have to wait before he was also able to pass. My plan was to have him chase me and wear out early. I could tell he was working hard as I would open up a small gap and then slow up. I didn't want to maintain a high pace as it was still early in the race.

Brendan began having problems with his chain coming off and eventually he faded and I was alone to race my own pace. I was feeling very good and surprised how comfortable I felt. After the fourth lap I was calculating that I should be able to get in at least 15 laps with no problem, and maybe even 17 laps if pushed it near the end. All I needed to do was stay steady as I was gaining an advantage of about 10-15 seconds per lap on second place.

But as soon I was starting to feeling comfortable is when disaster struck on the fifth lap. I came up a short rise with some speed and out into the open where the course immediately turned right and went back into the woods on a slight downhill. Unfortunately there was also a little dip as you started down and my weight was too far forward from the climb and turn and the front end dropped into the dip. The back did a flip, sending me over the bars and crashing hard.

I got back up, sorted myself out and noticed that both my kneecaps were bloody, the right one really seeping and I could see white underneath. Still having a lot of adrenaline from the race and the crash I pushed on to finish the lap but the knees were starting to ache. It took me a while to notice that my handlebar had been rotated back from the impact.

On the completion of the lap I headed over to promoter's trailer looking for some first aid. He rummaged around and found the antiseptic and bandages. We cleaned the wounds as best we could and then tried to tape a bandage on. The knee is not a very easy place to bandage.

I rode into my pit to put some duct tape around my knee in an attempt to hold the dressing in place and also to change the rear wheel to one with an easier gear since I was having trouble pedaling. After changing the wheel I started to go back out but had to turn around when I realized I had forgotten to fix the bars. Finally I started another lap but by this time I had long ago given up the lead to probably everyone else. The initial pedaling was painful but OK as long as I didn't press too hard. I completed the lap and figured I would try another.

It was on my seventh lap that the adrenaline must have worn off and the pain set in. The bandage was off my knee by the end of the first go round and blood was still oozing down the leg. I decided to pack it in after only three hours of my race. I have races planned for the next three weekends so there was no sense making things worse now.

On the ride home my knee really started to stiffen up. I was afraid that someone was going to have to carry me out of the car when I got home. While driving I noticed that I had some abrasions on my forehead caused by my helmet and glasses during the crash. Once home, for the rest of the evening i couldn't really bend my right knee at all.

This morning the knee was feeling better as I had taken quite a few Hammer Tissue Rejuvenator capsules which seemed to help. I went out for a short ride to keep the knee active and I could pedal, just not with any force on the right leg. The small hills became a left leg only cycling drill. I can't remember the last time I had a ride with as low a heart rate average as this ride.

Next week is the Stony time trial and I hope to be recovered in time for that. Training this week might be a little off but time will tell.

On a positive note we found out that Jason and family will be back in town the first week in August. We look forward to seeing all of them again. Especially since we have only seen our granddaughter back in January.

Monday, July 13, 2009


CCNA from the Wikipedia listing:

CCNA is the acronym for the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification from Cisco. In speech and in writing, this certification is properly referred to by the initials CCNA rather than the full name.

CCNA certification is a first-level Cisco Career certification and indicates a foundation in and apprentice knowledge of networking. CCNA certification validates the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size routed and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN. To become Cisco certified, a passing score on the 640-802 exam must be achieved.

I'm proud to say that our younger son Greg successfully passed his test today. This is not an easy test and in fact a lot of people do not pass on the first try. Greg didn't pass on his first attempt a few weeks ago, only missing by one question.

He went back to studying and retook the test today. Of course he didn't tell us he was going to do so in spite of our nagging. We came home from work today to find a nice card from him, telling us of the news and thanking us for our support. We are extremely proud of him. We all went out to the restaurant of his choice to celebrate. Greg will now start to look for an internship to put his knowledge to work.

From the western front we are waiting to see what Jason and family are working on to get back east to visit. Initially the race timing company that Jason works with was going to pay to fly them back so Jason could time a race here so the company could test out a fix to the timing program. But the company had not been getting timely payments from the race promoters so did not have the funds to send the family back.

Obviously we were disappointed but understood. Then Jason called and asked me to check into cheap airfare but had not told me what he has in mind. Perhaps nothing will come of it but we may get to see the family after all.

Today started the two week corporate shut down but our are had the option of working. Even though the plants and most users of our systems are not around we are making changes so their is testing to be done. It is kind of strange to walk around the big headquarters complex that normally has thousands of people working and for this week there are maybe a few hundred. The cafeterias, fitness center, and latte stands are closed be will survive. Next week there will be more as we prepare for the plants to start back up.

This past weekend I was all set to go up to Boyne and race but on the way home from work Friday I came to the conclusion that I didn't really want to have a 3.5 hour drive each way for this 3 or 4 hour race and end up spending close to $100 after gas, entry, and food. I decided to skip it and rode for several hours each day. One of my Cannondale Midwest team members joined me on Sunday. It was nice to have someone to ride with. Hopefully we can get more team members to join us on future rides.

I'm not sure what the next race is, it may not be until the end of the month. I may have an announcement about a new type of race for LOHS to be held this fall but I can't say anything for sure until I can get the details worked out. Hopefully soon.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

LOHS Race Info Aug 8

The next race at Lake Orion High School is Saturday, Aug 8. This will be a full length race and we will even offer a money class for men and women! On-line registration is here: Or you can get the mail in form below.

2009 August Summer Mountain Bike Entry

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It's July Already?

The year is half over and it seems to have gone by pretty fast. Not that long ago the weather was cold and rainy but for the past week the temperatures have pretty much been ideal. Summer is finally here, right on cue.

We held another race at Lake Orion High School and once again lucked out on the weather. It was rainy in the morning but while the rain threatened all afternoon, it never materialized. We had a decent turnout of students which was great to see. The trail was in good shape and the racers were treated to the longest course yet. This will be similar to the rest of the races scheduled there this year.

The three days off from work meant I got to ride for a couple of hours each morning and hit up most of the area trails at some point. I averaged about 3 hours per day; not very long but I threw in some harder efforts for training. I was usually home by noon to do whatever else was on the agenda for the day.

Sandy also had Friday off so we went shopping for the weekend meals as I planned on grilling every day. Sunday we were celebrating our younger son's birthday and he had requested tht I make the shrimp and chicken kabobs he liked. It's acutally a pretty simple dish but cleaning three pounds of shrimp takes some time.

While at one of the stores we noticed that the lawn furniture was on closeout. There really wasn't a lot left but it did get us thinking about it. In the afternoon we cheked out a few other stores for furniture and decided to mix and match table, chairs and umbrella from three different places. Now, after almost twelve years in our house, we actually have something on our patio other than a grill. We enjoyed eating outside all weekend.

Next week most of Chrysler shuts down for its first two week corporate holiday, similar to what the other auto makers have done for years. All of our plants will be down and most of the rest of the corporation will be off as well. Originally we were told to plan on taking vacation as well but now we are alloed to work instead. I plan on working most days to save the time off for later this month when Jason is supposed to come back for a few days. Hopefully the rest of the family will be able to make the trip as well.