Sunday, March 28, 2010


Over the past few years I have had an idea of getting more youth involved in the sport of cycling, specifically mountain bike racing. When we started the races at Lake Orion High School a few years ago I included categories specifically for students and cut the entry fees way down for them. We haven't had a big turnout of students but did get some new to the sport.

One of my thoughts was that someday we could get an interscholastic league started in the state. Michigan has a big racing community but spread out over the state. There is a mountain bike race of some sort almost every weekend from May through September.

I started looking into the idea a little more and discovered that there is a big school league out in California that has also spawned a national program that is still in its infancy. Colorado is starting to organize under the national guidelines. I thought we might be able to do something similar in our state.

I have been talking about it for long enough and decided to finally see what i could organize. A few weeks ago I held an informational meeting and invited anyone interested and made sure to include the advisers of school clubs already in existence. Also in attendance at that meeting were a few members of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association state board.

The meeting was well received and positive communication generated a follow-up meeting with the advisers to work on how to get other schools involved and put together a club start-up document. The MMBA members and I talked about possibly incorporating my ideas as part of the MMBA. This would provide many benefits, including insurance, resources, and fit into the MMBA mission as well.

It was decided to present the concept at the state board meeting this past Wednesday. I was put on the agenda and a copy of my presentation was emailed to the board members. During the meeting, which was held via phone conference, I presented my ideas and answered questions. The motion to be a part of the MMBA was unanimously approved.

Now the work begins, forming our own board of the Michigan Interscholastic Cycling Association (MICA) and getting the word out. We have to develop brochures, a web presence, budgets, race schedule, school literature, etc., etc. The 2010 race schedule will be a trial run of only two races, including one already on the Michigan calendar in September and another TBD. At this late date in the school year it will be hard for schools to put together a team for the fall but we hope to have a few schools participate.

I started another blog for the MICA site as a placeholder for now but hope to have our own website soon. Stay tuned for more details of this exciting new venture.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Moving on

Those of you who read my blog may have noticed I changed the color scheme from green to black and red. I had changed to green last year to match the colors of the Cannondale Factory Racing team, of which I was a member. Unfortunately the team changed it's format for this year, abandoning the grass roots team as it cut back to only include a few of the top pro racers from around the globe.

Not that I'm terribly upset, I am back racing with the Cannondale Midwest Racing team of which I have been part of, in some fashion or another, since its inception. Of course CMR's team colors are black and red. It also means no more of the free stuff that the factory team provided. But we still get good deals through the CMR team sponsors.

Another benefit of being with CMR is that my race schedule is more flexible. In fact, as of right now I don't have any specific races I plan on doing. For some reason I don't have quite the ambition this year as in years past. I sort of feel like been there, done that.

One thing sort of new with bikes is that I commuted to work by bike this past Friday. I hadn't done that in years. I used the singlespeed bike I built late last year. I now have fenders and a rear rack and also purchased a set of panniers, or saddlebags, that connect to the rack. Using the bags means I don't have to use a backpack or try to strap it down on the rack. The panniers keep the center of gravity lower which helps keep the bike stable. The commute is just under 10 miles and takes 40-43 minutes. It's a little slower in the morning since I am more careful. Time will tell how often I use the bike to get to work.

I am concentrating a lot of my efforts on the formation of the interscholastic racing program that I hope to get up and running soon. I should have more news about that later in the week.

Probably the biggest news of moving on is preparing for eventual retirement. Many of you know that I turned down a chance for early retirement a year and a half ago. I could have had a job about an hour from the grand kids but had second thoughts.

We received a call from Jason about a month ago that a house on St. Michael's property would be coming up for rent and the church thought of us first. Sandy and I talked about it but I am too close to be able to get regular retirement to leave Chrysler now.

We decided that if the house was available at a reasonable price we would see if Sandy could go out now and work for the Mount in exchange for rent and then I would come out after the end of next year once I turn 55. Not an ideal situation short term but it would get us out west.

As it turns out, the rent is pretty high and they wanted the money anyway, not a barter for work. But, they said, the do have a 2 bedroom apartment coming available soon that would be very inexpensive. And they might have some leads for Sandy for employment.

We decided to take a shot and have Sandy go out and stay with the kids for a while before the apartment became free. This would give her a chance to look for and hopefully land a job to have income to support herself until I would be able to move at the end of next year and look for a job and a bigger place to stay. If things don't work out then she would end up moving back to Michigan.

Sandy has given her notice where she currently works and will be taking the train in the middle of April. The train has more baggage allowed but we have to go to Toledo to get the train; no trains in Michigan have the baggage allowance.

While I am not thrilled about the long distance separation it allows a way to check out the job situation and will also give Sandy a chance to spend more time with Jason and Emily and the soon to be three grand kids. In the meantime Greg and I will have to take on all sorts of new responsibilities.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spring is almost here

You can feel it, literally. The warmer weather is causing the snow to melt off the roads and in the woods, leaving the trails mushy and some of the roads an absolute mess of mud. But other roads are perfectly fine. The conditions are starting to be favorable for long rides on the back roads again.

But the melting snow also means that the XC skiing is probably over with. Sandy and I were going to spend the weekend up near Grayling and Roscommon at a couple of the XC ski trails but the snow conditions were deteriorating so we canceled the trip.

Instead, on Saturday we went hiking at a state recreation area close to us that we had not been at before. The trails are also open to mountain biking so I had a chance to see what they might be like. It is not a long trail, about 3.5 miles or so, but it had some nice elevation changes and sweeping corners. It seemed like it will be fun to ride over on a bike and check them out this summer. I'm glad that the trail was not much longer because my knee bothered me more from hiking than from any riding I have done.

Today I put the knee to the test as I headed out early to try and ride most of the 100 mile loop some of my buddies had put together for a charity ride next month. The ride is geared toward singlespeed riders so that is the bike I rode. The roads were frozen hard when I set out and for the most part were in good condition even as it warmed up. There were a few that were a real mess and almost had me walking due to the heavy mud. I ended the day with 107 miles.

Back at Christmas Sandy had received an amaryllis plan from my Mom. She planted the bulb a while back and once it started to grow we were amazed at how fast it sprouted. Sandy started recording the growth and on some days it was over an inch in one day. It sort of reminded us of something out of The Little Shop of Horrors. We kept checking to see if all the dogs were still around.

This week promises more warm weather but it looks like some rain moving in. On Tuesday is the initial meeting of the interscholastic mountain bike racing league I am trying to start. We have some interest and hopefully we get enough of a turnout to get some committees up and running.