Monday, May 31, 2010

You can go home again, sort of

The three day holiday weekend allowed me a chance to partake in a variety of activities, starting Saturday with a XC race at a trail fairly close to me in Rochester, Bloomer park. I don't ride there very often so I made sure to ride the trails twice last week to try and pick what gearing I would use on the bike.

In some ways the trails are similar to parts of the LOHS trails but Bloomer also has more flat areas and some longer climbs. Picking the right gear ratio is never easy at courses like that. I started with an easy gear on the first ride, made it harder for the second, and picked a compromise for the race.

On race morning my stomach wasn't feeling 100% plus the anticipated race time temps in the upper 80's prompted me to switch the gearing back to the one I had on the first ride, fairly easy. In the end I'm glad I listened to reason.

I purposely started out slow, 6th out of 10, and just tried to keep a steady pace and not overdo it. I passed a few riders and was in 4th or so and kept taking it easy. On the second lap I got stuck behind a young girl in the race just as we entered a long section of trail that was very narrow and went along the side of the hill. There was no place for her to pull off and I felt bad for her as she was obviously nervous. I finally got around but the wait cost me a lot of time.

On the final lap I caught up to another rider in my class and I thought we were racing for 4th and 5th place. He got away from me but I got up behind him again a little ways from the finish. I stayed right on his wheel but didn't have the power left to pass so I ended up crossing the finish line 7 seconds behind. As it turns out we were 2nd and 3rd place. Overall I was happy with my result given the way I felt at the start. Plus I ran a smart race and never really blew up or cramped. Next week we are going down to near the Indiana border to support a race sponsored by our team shop. I haven't raced at the course in many years.

After getting dinner at home I drove down to my parent's house east of Cleveland to spend the night. The next day they wee going to participating in a one mile walk as part of a bigger event during the Chagrin Falls Blossom Time Festival. I hadn't been in the town for a while and while they were walking I walked around the town seeing how things had remained the same yet changed.

Chagrin Falls was featured in the 1977 movie The Gathering, which was supposed to take place in New England but the town is very much like a town you might find in Vermont or New Hampshire, except that the houses and incomes are probably two or three times those in the northeast. However with the incomes also comes a change in the once sleepy town to a more upscale and exclusive attitude. The town still has its charm and beauty.

I didn't actually grow up in the town but close by. They were a rival in high school yet I went to church in the village and new quite a few kids there. Sandy and I ended up getting married at the church in Chagrin. Lots of good memories but a long time ago.

Leaving Chagrin I drove out to the memorial gardens that my mom helps to maintain. I had heard a lot about them but had never seen them. I was impressed with the size of the gardens and the care that has gone into them. The edges of the walks were lines with brick in memory of loved ones. I found the one for my sister that was located under a bench so I sat there for a while remembering.

One of the other reasons for heading down to Ohio was to attend an open house at the park where I had my first official job over 40 years ago. Wiegand's Lake Park is in some ways a throwback to simpler times with a picnic grove, swimming lake complete with rowboats and paddle boats, softball field and horseshoes, concession stands and a dance hall. The grounds were always in immaculate shape, partly due to the hired help that constantly was on patrol picking up litter and emptying waste cans. In fact, that was my first job, litter patrol.

The park is not open to the general public but instead rented out to companies and organizations for picnics and other functions. One of the high points was the food provided by the park, always home made. The custard stand was another highlight.

The park is now being run by Wendy, the daughter of the people I worked for. I graduated with her and when my dad's company or our church had their picnics at the park she and I would usually hang out together. I hadn't seen her since school but lately have been catching up via Facebook.

Arriving at the park the entrance and parking lot was just as I remembered, complete with a law enforcement officer directing traffic. But once I got onto the grounds it was impressive to see all the improvements that had been made. Wendy and crew have been really working to add to or update just about everything. But more important they have kept everything that made the park special.

I got a chance to see Wendy's mom who is still helping out in the kitchen. We had a nice chat and she is still as sharp as ever. My parents had to leave but I stuck around a little while longer to visit. I may stop by again the next time I am down there to visit my parents.

It was nice to see some things were actually better than you remembered as a kid, I also swung by the house where I grew up, unfortunately a lot of the big trees have come down over the years due to their age. But the house itself is in good shape.

I always enjoy visiting my parents and fortunately for now they are still relatively close, only 3.5 hours away. I should get down there more often but it always seems there is too much stuff going on around here. Definitely something I need to work on.

My parents starting their walk

The walkers started after the runners

The popcorn stand has been a fixture in Chagrin Falls forever

The church where Sandy and I got married

The memorial gardens

Wendy and her mom, my first boss

The lake with swimming and boating

The original custard stand

Brand new wedding spot down by the lake

These tables probably weigh 500 pounds with all the coats of paint over the years

Wendy was prooudn of her new bathrooms and the floors, complete with her requested glitter

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Warm weekend

No races this weekend but still plenty of bike related stuff going on. On Saturday, members of the MICA board manned a hot dog stand and information table at the REI store in Troy. It was part of their Celebrate Michigan week or something and different agencies (DNR, US Forest, etc.) had tables inside to distribute literature and talk to the shoppers. We shared a table with the MMBA and promoted the MICA organization.

Outside, the store was giving away coney dogs that the MICA and MMBA volunteers served up. We set up a donation jar and collected about $100. We had heard that the store would be donating money to MICA but that seems to be up in the air.

Today I spent a few hours in the morning weed trimming part of the school trails. Later in the day several members of the CMR team met at the school to do a lap of the race course and then head over to Addison Oaks for a lap there. Two members of another team showed up as well.

With all the rain we had recently the school trails were fairly dry. But Bald Mountain was a mess, probably the worst I've seen it. Addison was also pretty dry. By the time we were done I was pretty tired, doing the ride on my SS. The temperature was in the 80's, something we have not had for awhile. The body has to acclimate to the warm weather again. But at least the trails should dry out.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

LOHS Spring MTB entry form

Information and mail in form for the races. You can also register on-line here and here.

2010 Spring Mountain Bike Entry

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LOHS trail map

Here is an overview of the trails at Lake Orion High School as recorded by my phone. it is pretty accurate but missing a lot of the little corners. It recorded the distance as just over six miles but it is coming up short of what is measured by a bike computer. The elevation gain showed just over 1,000 feet of climbing which seems too high.

View LOHS 5_19_10 in a larger map

Monday, May 17, 2010

Three to make one

I decided to race the Brighton stage race this weekend. The race was three races spread out over two days with the lowest total time for all three races the winner. I haven't done one of these races since the stage races were held at Whiskey Creek near Ludington and that was probably five years ago.

Saturday's race was a short time trials on a section of trail that was not very singlespeed friendly. The first half was very tight with many hills that did not allow for a fast entrance, and then the second half was a lot faster. It was hard to pick the correct gearing. I geared easy and prerode the course about an hour before my start. It was probably a mistake as it was hard to keep the heart rate down in the preride. I ended up third our of the three in my class, about 40 seconds behind first.

Later in the day we had a short track race, similar to a cyclocross course in that it was a mass start over a mix of grass and pavement with tight corners. The only thing missing were the barriers. I got a pretty good start but was getting passed by geared riders in the straight section of pavement. I would work my way back up to and around them, usually passing them in a corner or up a hill. I ended up fairly high among the entire group but more importantly I made up about 22 seconds on the 1st and 2nd place guys.

That left us with the Sunday XC race to determine who would win the stage race. I was in second now, about 17 seconds behind 1st and seven seconds ahead of third. I didn't preride the course this time but just warmed up as usual. The race on Sunday had more racers in every class since some people could not do the stage race but still wanted to compete in the XC race. It had its own awards separate from the stage scoring.

At the start the third place guy went out hard and it wasn't too long before he began pulling away with the eventual winner of the day. I was in front of the stage leader until I bobbled on a hill and he got in front. He also pulled away. I saw the third pace guy fixing his front wheel and after asking if he was OK I sped past. Later on the lap another SS got past me but I stayed on his wheel and eventually we caught the stage leader right before the end of the first lap.

I also passed the guy who pulled me as he also started to fade. I tried to turn up the heat to build a lead but I could still see the stage leader behind me every now and then. Eventually I lost him but I knew he was not far behind. Surprisingly the third place guy caught back up and passed me again. But to show how fast things can change, just as I came out of the trail toward the finish of my second lap, there he was with his chain in his hand. One more lap to go.

I kept looking back but could not see the stage leader but kept on the attack, not wanting to assume anything. I started to develop cramps in various parts of my legs but worked through them with additional Endurolytes and HEED. I finally finished the third lap and was grateful that the race was over. AS it turned out, I finished 2nd in the XC race and far enough in front of the stage leader to take first for the stage race.

I'm not sure what series race I will be doing next, it may not be until a month from now. In the meantime I have the Lake Orion races coming up plus plenty to do with MICA. And still some trail work as well.

Out west there is not much new news. There is a feeling that the baby may be coming early; it's still three weeks from the due date but could really be any time now. Sandy is still looking for employment but is being kept very busy with watching the grand kids and helping around the house and farm.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Wait, I thought I would be doing MORE riding

The saying goes, when the cat's away the mice will play. I've got to tell you, this mouse isn't playing much. In the back of my mind I thought that when Sandy left that meant I would have more time to ride since I wouldn't worry about being home for dinner, shopping with her, or whatever else we would normally do on the weekends. So far it hasn't turned out like that at all.

I seem to have less time than I did before. Some of it has to do with MICA ramping up and also trail maintenance starting to be required as the brush is growing like crazy. But a good part of it is due to now handling the little things that I took for granted, like shopping, cooking, laundry, and ironing.

I have been trying to make dinner most night so that Greg has something decent to eat instead of eating out or junk food. But that means we don't eat until late. Even if I make a lot the leftovers don't go very far with lunches. But I am showing Greg how to cook a few things; Friday he made shrimp stir fry.

I spent all day Saturday at the bike demo day, both in the MICA tent and helping at the Cannondale trailer. The weather was more like November, mid 40's, windy and intermittent rain. A great time though seeing all the people interested in cycling.

This morning I went through the LOHS trails and trimmed back the growth. I need to go back with the string trimmer in a few areas. On Friday I took out a few trees that I had tagged previously. The trees were in areas that really slowed you down or could be a hazard. The trail is faster now and should make it a little more enjoyable. Still a lot of climbing though. I have a few other modification in mind for a later date.

This week is another MICA board meeting as we try to nail down our 2010 budget, decide on a logo, and get a preview of our website. The weekend brings a two day stage race; a time trial Saturday morning and a short track race in the afternoon. On Sunday is a traditional XC race. The lowest combined time for all three events wins.

Our tent at the demo days. Signs courtesy of Clarkston High School.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

One week down, how many more to go?

Well, Greg and I survived the first week as bachelors. Neither of us got food poisoning and the house is still standing and relatively clean. With our individual schedules we still managed to eat dinner together a few nights and only ate out once. We have decided that each of us will cook at least once each week, I will probably do so more often. But we already miss Sandy's cooking. Plus just having her here; the dogs just aren't a good substitute.

I entered into the modern era of cell phones, finally breaking down and getting a smart phone, along with its associated benefits and costs. I had been looking at them for a few weeks as I was getting more involved with MICA responsibilities. Sandy's departure also meant it would be nice to stay in touch via text and photo messages. Under our former plan each of those types of messages cost a quarter.

In doing research on phones available under our carrier I ran across discussion of a new phone that was due out. So I opted to wait a few weeks and on Thursday I picked up an HTC Incredible for Sandy and myself. This was the first day they came out and the supply was limited. The phone is amazing in its capabilities and now I have to upgrade my skills to use it. But now free to send me all the text messages you want.

Yesterday I took part in a social bike ride I had been wanting to do for several years. The ride started in Ferndale, about nine miles north of Detroit and covered quite a few of the famous landmarks in and around the city. Plus stops at several bars along the way for refreshments.

If you saw the Dateline piece a few weeks ago you know what some areas of Detroit are like. We rode through some of the best and worst that the city neighborhoods had to offer. But we never felt threatened; most people we saw just smiled or waved and said hello. Of course, they probably weren't going to mess with 70 or so cyclists riding together.

It rained hard before the start but then we had mainly clear skies and warm weather, although a pretty strong wind was present for most of the ride. We wound our way to several landmarks including a goat farm in a blighted neighborhood, Mexican Town, the old train depot, the Riverwalk Park, Dequindre Cut, Heidelberg Project, Eastern Market and Hamtramack Disneyland, just to name a few. We only rode about 40 miles but the ride took almost 8 hours. We spent a lot of time looking at the sights or stopping for refueling.

I am glad I was able to see the city from a different side. It is quite different to be rolling through it on a bike rather than in a car with the windows up and doors locked. I intend to visit some of these areas again when I get a chance. For a look at the pictures I took you can go here.

This week brings our third MICA board meeting and the bike demo day at Island Lake. I had planned on being there to help at the Cannondale tent but now will probably be at the MICA tent instead.