New Winter Project

Well, I've been thinking about this non-stop since I took that Carbon 29'er Cannondale out for a test drive about a month ago: I certainly don't have now, nor am I willing to bet that even in early spring, will I have an "extra" $2,700 laying around in order to buy that bike. Job ONE is to save cash and get ourselves out of this crap neighborhood and into a larger house. Family first. (Dammit, I hate being responsible.) Who knows, something could happen next fall that would make a carbon niner possible.

SO anyways, I've been trolling eBay for a decent Cannondale frame to replace the 1997 General Lee...who is one size too small for me (Medium) and the HeadShok is on it's last leg. (The guy at the shop said pretty much when it dies this next time, that will be it.)

After doing much research, the cheapest way into a "new" bike, but still using the less-than-one-year-old parts from the General was to buy a new frame, HeadShok, Disc brakes and call it good. Everything else I have existing and in great shape, ready to integrate into the new bike.

So, without further ado, I present to you the Blue Bomber: $300. Brand new, never assembled. 2006. I will have to probably buy a $200-300 HeadShok cartridge for it and $250 worth of disc brakes, but for less than $900 I can have myself a "new" bike.

It's easy to think that if I would have saved up this $900, plus the $800 or so I spent on refurbishing the General Lee last winter, that I'd be more than half way there, but I would also have not been riding a mountain bike for two solid years - which is unacceptable garbage-talk.

The General will be no more in a month or so. So long my friend, someday I will bring you back to life. Maybe as a rockin' single speed. RIP.

Blue Bomber with Fatty Super Ultra DLR80 HeadShok
(I'm gaining 20mm in travel over my old fork.)

"Dual Assault". I think 2006 was the last of the "Handmade in USA" frames,
as Cannondale was sold to Dorel Industries (the people that own crappy Pacific Cycles)
and frames since then have been outsourced to Taiwan. This will be a keeper.


Turkey Jerker

Decided today to ride from my house to Luton to ride the trails then head home before going out (for the first time ever) for Thanksgiving dinner. I figured maybe the extra exercise would mean I could load up on a few extra desserts. HA

It was a chilly morning, but also very humid with some sort of gray haze everywhere. I thought it was supposed to be sunny, but I don't think I ever saw it.

Definitely didn't set any land-speed records here as it was just super-nice to get out of a busy house, away from the stresses of work in order to properly feel the burn. As long as I was moving forward, I considered that good enough. Otherwise, there was no goal in mind for this ride. Kind of a nice change of pace.

Only crashed once. It happens every time my legs are tired from riding the roads on my heavy mountain bike, then attempt to maintain correct lines and balance once I reach the single track. It was slimy out there today with decomposing leaves and a fresh rain from the day before. I was coming in hot through a sweeping left turn, the bike slid out from underneath me and I slid with the only thing stopping me being my left collarbone slamming into a small sapling. As I'm laying there fresh from the wreck, my left calf cramped up and I was scrambling to unclip both feet in order to relieve the cramp. I bet it would have been funny to see. I would liken it to watching someone scramble up from the ground after having a bee in their shorts. After just a few minutes, I would reach a turning point to where I could bail out on the trail, I actually forgot to turn off because I wanted more trail. Too late to turn back now. It hurt for the next 3-4 miles pretty bad and was better by the time I got back onto the road.

Overall, a good ride. I can tell with my lack of sleep and regular exercise lately, I'm already losing some of my conditioning. Want to stay "in it", but also take some time to recover/heal over the winter from a long 2011 season.

With this ride, I surpassed my 2,000 mile goal for the season. Thinking back, I missed a few rides I was hoping to do, so adding those in I could have easily reached 2,300 miles this year, which is amazing. I would have never thought it possible.

One more month's worth of riding to go. Maybe I still can reach 2,200 miles??!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I love riding dirt roads. It's all I pretty much plan on riding this winter.

A serene Luton Trail.


Random update

Okay, with almost a full two weeks of Iceman disapointment behind me, I'm ready to start my march into winter riding in preparation for a few early spring races. I've joined up with the Rapid Wheelmen MTB Race Team in hopes of learning a few things about racing - hopefully also this will help give me the drive to do lots of racing in 2012. Good group of guys, so it should work out good. All leading up to (hopefully) a stellar performance at next Iceman.

On Tuesday, I drove all the way out to Grand Haven after work to this tiny bike shop, Loose Spokes, just to try on and order up some NorthWave winter riding shoes. The shop was crazy to me. It was basically a shed attached to a house out in the middle of nowhere. I was kind of spooked out approaching the door to the shop - because of course, no one else was there, it was dark and the parking lot was not well lit . The owner (a sawed-off little man) greeted me and immediately asked my name and retained it during my entire visit. It looked like they specialize in VERY high end equipment - there were actually more antique (unridable) bikes there than new ones - stuff you see on American Pickers. It was like stepping back in time. (I think I saw 3 new MTB's and 2 new road bikes - none of them carbon). I'm sure they could order you something, but otherwise they only had parts, clothing and trinkets manufactured by some more of the well known high-end companies in cycling, but many more obscure ones I have never heard of. Apparently, they're big on Italian-made products, the owner was showing me around and my mind was blown.

He ordered my boots for me. They cost about $50 more than if I bought them online and I had to travel there, but it was worth it to try on a pair to make sure I was getting the right size. And, I don't know the shop at all, but its nice sometimes (to think at least) you're helping keeping a shop like that alive and kicking. Also, if I'm spending big money on shoes that are rated to -15F, I'm not going to "wing it" and get what size I think I need online. I can tell you, they were comfortable and the owner said he tried a pair on years ago, tried them himself, and cannot recommend anything else for winter riding. So, I'm excited for the temps to fall and the snow to fly. Bring it on!

I got all the parts in this week to fix up the General Lee. I replaced my trigger shifters by stepping back into grip shift - still staying with SRAM X.0. In order to fit everything on the bars, I have to forego bar ends, which have been on my bike since I bought it in 1997. I guess it's time to move on, (they're not "in" anymore) and it will be weird to pilot - I used them often on climbs. I was up at 4am this morning to feed baby Nick and by the time he went back to bed, I had an extra hour to spare before my alarm would go off so I wasn't getting back into the warm sheets. So I went downstairs to the General and set everything up, hung a new chain, tried out my new chain tool, etc. Still have tweaking on the gears to happen tonight, but otherwise, ready to get it back into the dirt.


Iceman Cometh 2011

#1500 DNF. It hurts even more to type out than to say.

I was feeling good, the day was perfect. All my preparation was spot on. I was super stoked to be just one of 4000 riders embarking on an epic Autumn journey on (what I hear) what was one of the best days for Iceman and best trail conditions anyone could remember.

I only made it 17 miles in on a 30 mile race. I guess it could have been worse. I could have been that guy at mile 4 puking his guts out. Or the guy that endo'ed two bikes in front of me and taco'd his front rim. Or I could have been that lady I met after my mechanical fail who had broken her collarbone.

It all started at about mile 16.5 with a shifter malfunction. Somehow I pushed my thumb right through the lowest setting and stripped out all the internals. No more rear derailleur shifting. So I stopped and set up what I thought would be a good single speed gearing. Rode about 30 feet, mashed the pedals and popped the chain. Pulled over to fix the chain and broke my chain tool. I tried for a few minutes to repair the chain in a last ditch effort still using the broken chain tool to no avail. My fingers now shaking and covered in black grease and oil. I was there on my knees beside my bike, like a novice surgeon working on my fatally bleeding pet who had just gotten run over by a car. There was nothing I could do, but stand up, feel the sun on my back and watch as about 40 guys pass me in this brief moment of time. I was done, the General Lee was dead.

I walked about 1/4 mile to a main mid-point in the race. Lots of spectators, a man on a loud-speaker reading names of participants and where they were from. My name would not get read. The worst part was upon me now...I call it the "Gauntlet of Shame". Running up the hill, with broken chain in left hand and the General in the other hand while having to listen to spectators say "oh no! he has a broken chain", "oh man, did you see that? Poor guy's chain is broke", "what's he gonna do?".

Already knowing that the day was over it was all I could do to look anyone in the face there at the spectator point. People were nice and offered me rides to the finish line. All I wanted to do was get back on the bike and finish it out - even if it meant taking 4 hours. I guess I could have ran and finished it that way, but it would have jacked up everyone else on the course. I was disappointed, sure, but having friends and family waiting for me at the finish line, only for me to show up in a van instead was heartbreaking. I hated the feeling of seeing the finish line from the outside looking in. All I wanted to do was report my DNF, congratulate the boys on a fine race find my family and get out of there.

Looking forward to next year? Right now...no. I guess I'm not p!ssed enough about it right now to do or say anything. Besides, what else could I have done? Everything seemed out of my control. I'm not the kind of guy to charge right back immediately and seek revenge and act all hardcore about it. For now I guess I should take some much needed time off, reflect on the heartache and work my way back in the saddle and work the next 11 months for Iceman 2012.

I'll put this aside - it was a learning experience. More about myself than the race itself. I'm at least really happy for Matt Remus who smoked the course to finish 12th out of 71 riders in our class, and Matt Longest who finished with a great time and only had to stop once to put on a thrown chain. Well done boys, really proud to have you as friends and fierce competitors.

Three Men on a Shuttle Bus.

View from the start line of Wave 22, 10:03am

The General. Laying in repose with intestines laying
out on the stump for the vultures.


Demo Day - Luton x2

It rained all of last night into this morning. Today was the day I was taking a half day off of work to demo a brand new 2012 Cannondale 29 Carbon Flash 3. I didn't care. Mud or not, it was going to be the best half day off of work I've taken off just to ride.

Holy cow, what an experience. It was the best $50 I can remember spending. It rode so smooth, I rode the first 5.5 miles with the Lefty locked out - didn't even know. Once I figured that out, the riding got even better.

This will be my bike in Spring of 2012. Just gotta come up with $2,700. (Well, $2,650, since I will get credit for the $50 ride today.) Much more affordable. HA!


Lefty in all it's glory.

Mud machine.

It was a heavenly ride.

The Lefty looks weird, but honestly you don't even know it's there. Beautiful.


Lowell 50 Race

To sign up for this race was an (almost) last minute decision. A few people approached me about doing the ride and I was going to bow out in order to stay around home and help with the new baby.

Glad I changed my mind and signed up. It was fun. The rain the night before and into morning helped make it a muddy mess, which was a blast.

Did pretty well, not sure of place results, but I saw this as the last test in preparation for next week's Iceman race in Traverse City. Same mileage, except there were more roads in this one. Felt good, my left quad hurts quite a bit now, but I know I can push harder next weekend when it will really count.

Looks like Garmin is messing around with maps again...Grrr.  So this is all you get:



...Pedal strokes. (Based on my average for the day.)

Today, it was all about miles. I had never ridden the Muskatawa trail that runs from Marne to Muskegon and I was looking for a long ride today, something different, so I decided to ride the White Pine, then Muskatawa.

The Muskatawa sucks. Well, it's not really that bad, but it IS in the middle of absolutely nowhere and at times, I didn't see a soul for 30+ minutes. Straight, flat, barren. Lots of farmland. With about 9 miles of that trail to go, I look up and see about the next 4 miles of trail layed out before me. Eff this, I'm turning around. I'm going crazy over here.

Ravenna is a trash hole. Couldn't find even one convenience store to refill water bottles. Figured I will just have to wait till Grand Rapids. In Conklin (of all place) I see this tiny sign near the trail that says "Snacks. Food. Store --->" OMG, thank you! It was a sign from heaven. I later realize without that little sign there, the rest of my trip home would be a terrible mess without water.

I was not afraid of being hit by a car today. Or crashing into a pothole. Or even running over roadkill. What I was most fearful of was dying a slow death by way of.....BOREDOM. I wish so bad that there were still group rides going on...rides that aren't run by 50+ year old men and women who ride at a 13mph pace and are insistent about talking about politics and medicare.

Maybe this is my cue to start up my own group ride next fall. (like I need something else to do)

I was struggling around the 75 mile mark to get back home. A few hills reminded me that I still had measurable miles to go. At times it was painful, like needles in my quads.

It's exactly what I needed though. It was a great day for a ride.


Superhill Interval - Egypt Valley

I've wanted to ride this route all summer. Well, not exactly "wanted to", but "needed to". The hills and climbing is intense. Up and down the entire way from work through Knapp Rd through Egypt Valley. One hour of leg searing pain. Lungs were burning too. I always hate mid-ride doing this, but afterwards there is such a sense of accomplishment. I actually went out of my way to find hills tonight. Probably the last ride home from work this year, as daylight is becoming harder to come by.

Crazy speeds. Crazy hills. Crazy Heart Rates.


Ft. Custer with 312 - Crash-tastic!

Wow, never have I spent so much time on the ground. Here's something fun...next time you go for a bike ride, just go ahead and throw yourself down to the ground every 2.5 miles - that's what it felt like was happening to me. I'm just hoping I can muster up the power to actually roll out of bed tomorrow am - I'm already getting sore.

Brief replay of my crashes: Uphill on Cardiac Hill (somehow flipped over to my back and cracked it on some cinderblock erosion control - which is a smart idea, btw), Full Endo, slow speed (right behind Marty - got caught on a root - gravity was pretty strong in this area - please see Remus' blog for a picture of bike in prone position), Forearm tree smash (caught a bad root dipping into some trenches, got offline and was fortunate enough to bash my right forearm into a 16" dia tree, jamming my shoulder - this one caused Remus to crash as well), High Speed sapling incident (going downhill - probably close to 15mph, again offline, nipping a 1" dia sapling - it got a hold of my handlebar inside my bar end, smashed my pinky and thumb and sent me endo'ing multiple feet. This one crushed my right side ribcage, I feel a deep bruise already, hard to breathe when I stretch - at first I thought I cracked something, but it's probably just a bruise), plus many other minor incidences mainly having to do with roots, sand and overall tiredness. Exercise induced stupidity, I guess.

Regardless of all the pain, one thing is for sure...not too many things in life beats rampaging through the leafy woods in the fall season, in brisk air with two of your best friends. It was a great 3 hours of pain.

Overall, none of us could believe how many times we all crashed. I guess one positive thing to come out of this is that crashing (in my mind) means that you're at least trying to ride harder than you probably should. If you don't crash, you're not going hard enough.

Until next year Fort Custer. I will conquer you yet.

Blood: Nature's skin adhesive.
(I had to leave the blood, so it would hold the skin shavings onto my thumb.)
Actually, I can't remember the last time I've left the grounds of Fort Custer and NOT been bleeding.

This was after I fell (uphill) on Cardiac Climb the second time. Crashed, then fell over and whacked
my back on the cinderblock erosion control you see there.

This fall crushed me down HARD. I endo'ed VERY quickly and went straight down with a thud.
All I could do was lay there motionless. Remus had plenty of time to come back down the trail to snap
this shot of me crippled by the blow. Look how my bike (somehow) landed perfectly on bars and seat.

Here are some of my other activities from this week:

Saturday night (yesterday) I went for a "knee check" ride. High rpms at slow speed to check the stability of my knee (see next post). Everything checked out good, at one point got up to 31 mph on a flat stretch near my house. Fast!

Tuesday Ride: Luton with Remus

Remus came over to ride Luton Park for the first time. As I become increasingly confident on this track, I am getting faster (and braver). Not even 1.5 miles into the ride I skid through a 90 degree (flat) left turn and the bike comes out from under me. Soon after, I realize my left knee is not very stable. It starts to swell and I end up limping very badly the next day. The pain has "torn ACL" written all over it. (Since I've done this twice, I know the feeling.) The pain subsides days later - it still feels unstable - not sure of the actual injury, but it was dumb how it happened. Wish I had at least gone shooting off a cliff or something. Remus crashed while trying to take video of me. I turned around and heard BAM, squeeeel! and man down. Camera face down in the dirt under his hand. The funniest part was watching the look of Remus in panic-mode as a hot chick in full kit almost run him over with her 9'er laughing at his crash.

Anyways, the rest of the ride was not notable for much, except that we rode the trail quickly - quickly enough to ride part of it twice and still have time for a Sam Adams in the parking lot as the sun set and we watched some homos drink wine at the plastic picnic table they set up out of the back of their Suburban.

OH, and this was my first sighting of "Stumpy" (Remus new 29'er Specialized Stumpjumper). I had to dip my bauls on the top tube - it gave me wood I'm pretty sure. I must have one. It is a beautiful machine.


Few Rides

Trying to get on the bike every other day or so. Missed out on Thursday, but shooting for every Tuesday, Thursday and a longer ride on the weekends. All MTB so far. Feeling way better than just a few weeks ago already - Luton has become easier (faster) to ride.

Tuesday was Luton by myself. Missed Thursday. Saturday I took the road bike into town to check out all the hillbillies at Red Flannel Festivus. At the car show I stopped at a General Lee clone to check it out. From behind me I hear a hillabillie say "That ain't no real one. The real one ain't got no doorknobs." Okay, jacka$$, they're not doorknobs first off, they're handles and c'mon, you think this would be a real one here in the CS!? Retarded, I can't wait to move away from here.

Then Saturday afternoon went with Marissa to her school's fundraiser Bikeathon. It was on the rail trial closer to the city. She rode 5.4 miles - all without complaint. She's my little superstar, ready to go for longer rides with daddy now. Patti is excited because now she can ride along side her while she starts back into running in the spring. Then later Saturday hit up Luton with Marty.

Today I went for a longer on/off road ride with Matt Longest. VERY hilly - was a good challenge. It was very cold this morning - freeze warning last night and it was 30 degrees out. Got all the winter gear out and shed that pretty quickly as I was starting to moisten up. (Moist...it's a good word. HA)

So, that is 68 miles this week. It's okay - I guess especially for MTB just after work and on the weekends. I'd like to be more near 100 miles a week. I think it's what will be needed for the rest of this month if I'm not going to die at Iceman.

I'm sure that all I need to do is build my stamina and I'll be good for Iceman. I don't think that race is at all about skills, just physical fitness. I'm not the most physically fit man I know, but helluva mo' better than earlier this season. If I could deal with eating salads all day every day, I'd be better off, but I'm a man and I need to eat greezy meat all the time. My goal is 2 hours 30 minutes. A guy at work said his best time is around 2 hours and he's a good rider, so I think 2.5 hours would be just about right. We'll see - hard to judge never having done the race. The key (for me) will be to not start too fast so I don't peter out quickly.



Le Tour de Donut - Greenville, MI

This was my second time doing the "tour" so I knew more of what I was getting myself into. Morning started off brisk, but warmed up nicely - full sun. Perfect day for racing.

It is actually a "race" but a fun race. Ride 10 miles, eat donuts, ride 10 miles, eat donuts, ride 10 miles. For each donut you eat at a station, you get a 3 minute credit. I ate three. Problem is...really, how many donuts would it take to offset the time you sit and try to choke one of those dry bastards down?

Nothing too special to report, other than it was last years course, but in reverse. There were a few killer hills. I almost lost my first donut at the first major climb after the station, so I had to cruise to compose myself and not hurl all over myself and my bike.

Matt Longest and I smoked down 2 more at the next stop and felt pretty good from there on out. A few long hills to climb, but they seemed better than I thought they would. My left hand/arm went numb during the last 3 miles (heart attack? stroke? I guess not since I seem to be making sense right now and I drove myself home.)

Good ride. I need to find time to get out more than once a week. Some of the ride was painful - I know I was riding faster this summer. I've been too busy with work around the house to get out, but have to make a point of it now. Iceman is coming up in just over 1 month's time - I gotta be ready.


Triple Trail Challenge - Pinckney Rec Area

My alarm went off at 4am. Ugh, tired. Drove to Greenville to load my bike and gear into Matt Longest's truck and from there pick up Remus in DeWitt. It seemed as if within minutes we were at the sign-in table at the Pinckney Rec Area. The ride was free with free chili and beer at the end from Arbor Brewing. Only catch was you had to buy either a pint glass or mug to put the beer in. No problem, pint glasses were $5. (I had a "Hoptoberfest" and a "Ypsi Gypsy". Mmmm....yummy.)

We started off, still very cold. Charging off right into the woods, I was gassed after only minutes on the trail. This trend would go on for the first 2+ hours. After being smoked by just about everyone out there that day and falling UPHILL twice (quite dramatically too, I actually have wounds to prove it), I knew it was going to be a long day for me and there was nothing anyone else could do about it. I couldn't catch my breath even on the downhills and my legs had NO power. I felt like I was in a fog most of the afternoon until after lunch. I'm not sure what my deal was, but it was angering me.

The only thing I could come up with later in the day was possibly the muscle relaxers I've been taking at night the previous 4 nights to help calm my lower back. I don't even take the full dose. I don't know what they do to muscles or lung function in the long-run, but I guess as long as I plan to ride in events and perform well, I'll be off those for days beforehand. I don't know...its only an assumption at this point. Bottom line was, I was excited to be there, riding with friends, and I couldn't even half-way ride to my fullest and keep up with them. I felt terrible from head to toe which made it not fun and spent a majority of my day riding by myself.

Boy, I don't ever remember the Potto being that rocky and rooty - lots of steep drops. Of course, I only rode it once, and that was back in 1997. This would have been the only trail I've ridden in years where full suspension would actually make sense.

We rolled in at 38 miles - the ride was advertised as 47. So that was a little disappointing, but I guess the condition I was in, probably a good thing.

Two best things of the day I saw: One was rolling into Remus' only to see him sitting on the concrete driveway with gear ready like a small child waiting for the school bus on his first day of school. So excited! The next was while waiting for traffic to clear at a street crossing, watching Longest fail to unclip and fall amazingly fast right to the ground. He jumps up and yells "Yup, my first day on a bike!" That's good stuff.

Little did anyone know, but Remus was holding a private Single Speed Rigid clinic that day. (That was also free. All you had to do was bring your own glasses to keep the dust and rocks out of your face.) He always led our group out and was not within sight many-a-times. He showed everyone on mountain bikes with gears and suspension that we're all a bunch of pussies. I don't know what you're problem is my friend, but well done. You're a crazy bastard.


Quick ride in DeWitt

Another killer ride with Remus. We assaulted some hills last night and left them for dead. Remus ran off the shoulder once, and I thought I was going to have to run over him, then lay myself out in the road, but we made it through without incident.

Not sure what is wrong with Garmin.com right now, but this is all you get.

Tue, Sep 13, 2011 17:53 added by tmaravolo
5 miles
5 miles
31.91 mi
Average Speed
17.5 mph
Activity Type:
1,210 C
Elevation Gain:
545 ft
Event Type:


To/From Work

The ride into work today was super dark. Like it was the middle of the night. Nothing too fancy to report, other than it's seemingly been too long since I've ridden that early in the morning. It was brisk, but a perfect morning. I learned that raccoons can run about 10-12 mph and large moths can hurt when you collide with them. The coon was in the trail and starting running with me down the trail. I had to slow way down, fearing it would dart under my wheel, cause me to crash, then attack my teeth and face while I was down. I had to actually growl at the thing to get it off the trail. Then later one of the most giant moths I've ever seen came out of no where and hit me square in the chest. It seriously hurt. Like getting hit with a small pebble. I swear the thing looked like the size of a humming bird on it's way in to greet my chest.

The ride home was an organized ride I started for work people. Two guys I regularly ride Cannon Cruise with were there, plus two others. It was a very slow pace, but fun. Our original plan was to stop for hotdogs and icecream, but instead we stopped a deli and had beers. Way better.

What a perfectly beautiful night. I can't explain the feeling I get when I'm all alone riding in the darkness or dusk with no one around. Somehow, self-propelling yourself on a shade-laden paved path in the middle of nowhere has a way of dissolving all the stress and angst of the work week.

I think this is Kid Rock's new beer. I sampled one and liked it and thought
I could be a bigger "Badass" if I had another, so I did.



My plan today was to ride to Big Rapids and back. Maybe get to Paris. It was a glorious morning, but my back is still stiff and aching. I got to Howard City and had to start back. Just to stiff and uncomfortable. For the rest of the day, it seemed fine, so maybe it was the 50 degree temps freezing it up. IDK. Some other day, I guess. I got my HRM back from Garmin (a new one) last week, so it was nice to have that working again.


Again, defeated by Mother Nature

My quest to ride into work this morning was thwarted by a crack of lightning that almost made me fall out of bed at 3am. I think I peed a little. The impending rain did not stop until just before it was time to leave around 5am and I could still see lightning in the distance. Radar said rain still in the city. So I sat on the couch wondering what to do, staring out the window.

I went back to bed, defeated by Mother Nature again. Not today, but someday, I will emerge victorious.

Besides the lighning, the other thing that urged me back to bed was the thought of having to thoroughly clean my bike all over again after riding on wet/nasty roads. Road gunch would be everywhere and I woudl be soaked. And right now, I don’t have the time or patience for that this weekend. Maybe the ride home from work today instead at near 100 degree heat index will be worth it.

Oh, and I was an ultra dork yesterday and bought a $20 LED flashing tail light. I don’t know. Maybe $20 will save my life? I will admit it’s one of the coolest I’ve seen out there and seems really noticeable, but will only touch my bike during dark/dusk riding.


Cannon Cruise: The Final Episode

Today was the last Saturday Cannon Cruise of the year. It was a Cross and Mountain Bike special. Fifteen men saddled up on what was a glorious morning. Perfect temp. Clear skies, full-on sun.

The first main climb, several guys were already whining about before we even got started. Once we hit that hill about 4 miles in, it hurt. And really bad. One guy turned around and went home.

This turned out to be the single most-hard ride I've done all year long. In total, almost 2500 feet of climbing. There were two groups (A&B). The A's being the fast guys (mainly) on cross bikes - and guys on the Wheelmen race team. They were fast too. The B group (the one I was in) consisted mainly of the usual people I ride with on Saturday's. Medium to advanced riders, enthusiasts, not racers.

What a fun time! However, the hills were KILLER. Lots of them. Paved, dirt, gravel. At times I was decending down a dirt/bumpy hill at 30+mph, then on the next uphill, BARELY 4mph. It was tough. Some climbs were long. I learned though, that in order to not get dropped, I would have to pedal and fly downhill and then carry that momentum as fast as I could uphill and recover somewhere after that. Sometimes there was no recovery. People would keep passing me, but then I'd blow by them on the next hill.

At one point, I was so sick of hills, MARAVOLO showed up. I was in 7th place out of 7 riders, going down a giant hill. I geared up in the big ring, top cog and pedaled my @$$ off all the way down and UP the hill in the same top gear, standing (I have a 27 speeda). Guys later caught up with me and saw how possessed I was and offered to give me King of the Mountain bonus points (like in the TDF). HA

We did 42.3 miles. The A group did about 10 more. We almost finished at the same time. Everyone had a blast. It was super tough, but there many made mention of making this special event an annual thing - next time with a pony-keg at the finish.

You'll have to click on the Garmin map to see both the extreme fluctuation in speeds and elevations. Crazy.


Time off. Game on!

Well, after the Century ride almost two weeks ago with Remus, that next day (Sunday) I blowed up my back. All I did was turn to look at my daughter in the garage as I was cleaning up the bike and got a sharp pain in my side. All seemed okay until I took a nap on the couch just 2 hours after that. Then...I couldn't get up.

For the next 3 days I couldn't stand upright, could barely walk. Saw the doc, she prescribed some meds (actually muscle relaxers - which made me loopy at work), so I only took those at night from then on. Suspected bulged disc, which turns out, happened almost exactly 5 years ago and lasted a VERY long time. (thinking to myself, I don't have time for this right now)

That Thursday the same pain came back, it scared me, except now I was mobile and relatively pain-free - almost instantly. Something must have moved back into place. I bowed out of riding in the Cycling Classic Challenge held downtown in the streets of Grand Rapids that Saturday as a precaution, which was dissapointing, but payed off big time last night:

Rode with Matt Longest and Marty at Luton Park - MTB. I felt awesome, was fast and nothing could stop me....except having to stop and wonder what the H happened to Marty. At one point he was gone for like 7 minutes. Matt and I stood at the side of the trail watching old guys pilot $4,000 rigs as they rode by, wondering if Marty had a flat or wrecked big time - and now how do we find him? All of a sudden I hear "Hey, what H are you guys waiting for!?" There's Marty walking through the woods right at us, taking a shortcut. It was funny. From that point on, Matt and I hammered the gaz.

I was SO hungry for a bike ride. I was only off for 11 days and couldn't take it. It's been a long time since I felt this way, but I was at one with The General, ripping around turns, flowing over bumps, handling all the climbs tip top, dipping into turns with my shoulder brushing trees. On the road ride home, I was standing up, mashing the pedals up hills and down. It was like The General Lee knew I have been casually shopping used 29'ers online, looking for a possible replacment or new build for over the winter. This was his chance to convince me, there is plenty of life in the GL, we were at one last night...two gay dudes doing the mombo in the woods under a beautiful sunset. I love you buddy.


2011 Maple Leaf - Mission: Century

Myself and Remus signed up for the Maple Leaf ride about 3 weeks ago. I asked him what loop he wanted to do, and he said, "why can't we do them all?" Okay, fine, let's do it!

The advertised milage was a 20 flat loop OR 30 rolling hills loop OR 30 hilly loop, plus the 14 miles riding from and to my house to the event start was going to make a 94 mile day. We changed OR to AND. It was also decided that if we were within 10 miles of a full Century, we would have to ride around extra to make 100. So we did. Mission completed.

The morning started off by waking up at 3:30 am to the sound of an impending storm. I fired up the iPad to check the radar. Ewww, not good. However, it never really started raining until around 6am and the outlook was bleak. We were originally to leave the house at 7am, but the lightning was preventing us from leaving on time. Just about when we were going to leave, we looked, I said "looks better, let's go", then Bam, right where we were looking was another bolt of lightning. I guess we should wait. A sign from God. Once we arrived, signed in, got our orange "Steak" wristband, we were off. After that, the ride was pretty uneventful.

Not many riders, I guess there were 27 registered pre-ride, I was expecting a few hundred. Oh well, we were there to ride and that's what we did. We had no plan going into this, but things turned out perfect. We decided to ride the hilly loop first, expecting we'd have the most energy right away. It was hilly! Then we thought we should ride the rolling hill loop and finally the flat loop. Surely, by the time we would get to the end, the road would be perfect for our dwindling capacity for pain. This worked out beautifully.

After the first two loops we had lunch (steak, potato and half a Coke for me). Not even sure what Remus had. He eats so fast, I saw food, looked away - next thing I saw was an empty plate with meat juice on it. We could hear rumbling in the distance, I text Patti to see what was going on. She said it would miss us, so we took off for the last loop. It was an out and back on my favorite area road (Red Pine Drive), and by the time we were half way back, (only 13 more miles to complete the mission) the skies opened up. I said "It's looks good!" (being funny) then CRACK, a bolt of lightning was (seemingly) right in the woods next to us. It about scared both of us right off the road. We thought we should hide under some leafy trees (trees aren't targets for lightning are they?!) and wait it out. We got pelted with some hail, were soaked and loved every minute of it.

From there it was time to head home. Rolling hills on the way back killed me, I was struggling at this point, but we had to pull this off. Hit the rail trail and rode around the neighborhood in order to put on the 4.5 miles we were short on the Garmin. Had a short sprint race at the end with Matt, I hit 30mph on the flat. Rode around area neighborhoods, and pulled in the driveway. We did it! And not a minute too soon. Ten minutes actually. More storms were in the near distance, lots of lightning and it POURED for a good 20-30 minutes. We had dodged a bullet this time.

All in all, it was a great ride. Glad to have a good buddy to ride with. Without that, it would have been super boring and I would have probably not even ridden more than one loop. Glad to be home to rest, shower and chill with the fam.

This ride puts me very close to 1,400 miles on the season. Have to keep chipping away at my 2,000 mile goal on the year. I ride in the winter too, so I can take this all the way into December 31!

Link to video of rain delay:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyO0u3HnPJk

Enzo happily cruising along.

Documentation of hail. Remus pictured.

This is the storm that came through 10 minutes after we got home. Danger!

click below on "view details" to see the details....



Didn't get out for a ride tonight. A bit bummed by that. It was the perfect night too. I was at work till 7:15 pm. Oh well, happy at least that I'll go for a short, easy one tomorrow, and then I have 100+ to rip off on Saturday. Can't wait, Remus will be here. He needs to be punished for all the glorious pics he was sending me from Lake Superior and Paradise, MI last week, while I was sitting, rotting in my work cubicle hating life.

FYI, I'm only going to post workout data for any ride over 40 miles. Anything less won't be worth posting. I'm trying to cut back on my "digital intake" and concentrate on simplifying things. Too much going on, stressed out about things that don't matter in life - just have to dial things back. Just don't have the time. Going to close out my Facebook account Sunday. Good riddance. It is evil and addictive - stealing the souls from humans without them even knowing.

HA HA...sounds like a good premise for a movie.


Tuesday Ride

Had a summary typed out and the internet quit on me. So here is the jist of what I was going to say:

Beautiful night.
Trail busy.
Car/cyclist accident.
Not me.
Lady not badly injured.
Just blood.
Maybe concussion
Good elapsed time.
Still with 38 road crossings total.
Sand Lake sprint Thurs.
Aiming for over 20mph average.
Like a 10 mile time trial.


Edwards Creek to Shearer Road, Greenville with Matt Longest

Fun ride tonight. Hit some trails in Greenville. Haven't been able to make it over there for a ride yet. Was fun to ride with Matt, he showed me around the trails. Edwards Creek can make you dizzy. It's a ton of technical little jigs and jags around trees, stumps and rocks. Keeps going back against itself. Easy to get turned around in there. Pretty tricky. Too tight for a 'niner I think. It had my whole body in a tensed up mess - my hands were killing just after a few miles of riding. By the end my lower back was burning up.

Fell once, sort of against a tree on a quick uphill, spun out, then couldn't clip out. Man down. Then we rode over to Shearer Road. Shearer is more of a faster MTB trail. I would say more "traditional". More straights, little quicker. It was like a tornado recently went through there though. Lots of fresh down leaves and twigs...chunks of 1-2" dia wood - rollers I will call them. Every object wanted to send you right or left - not straight. We quit early. It was hot and we were getting tired. Good ride, we plan to hit the roads soon, maybe Luton the next chance we get for off-road. Matt is doing Iceman with me, so we have to hit some trails in the coming months. Put Fort Custer on the agenda.

Shearer Rd Trail

Edwards Creek Trail


Cannon Cruise

Fast ride tonight. Averaged 18.9 mph. There were 8 men, 1 woman and a co-ed Tandem.

At one point I looked down and I was doing 22mph and the Tandem took over pulling the group. I was already at the back of the group and wasn't paying attention. In a blink they were gone and I couldn't maintain the pace. I had to give up the pursuit. They were gone. Probably a good half-mile ahead of me. They had to be doing 25-26mph. I guess not hard to go that fast when you're drafting on a two-engined bus.

HRM still not working, even though I replaced the battery. Very erratic. I'll have to check a few things, otherwise I might find myself buying a new one. Not sure what is going on.

Saturday, Aug 27 is a MTB/Cross bike Cannon Cruise. 50-60 miles on dirt and only "some" pavement. Sounds fun. This will be the last Cannon Cruise of the year as the cross season starts. I guess road bikes are dumb to ride when this starts. I'll stay away from cross for now, thanks. I've got MILES to put on!! So guess I'll be riding by myself starting in Sept.



Rode north on the unpaved portion of the White Pine Trail today on the MTB. Haven't done this yet this year, believe it or not. (It's all I've ridden for the past two years until I got a road bike - not sure how I was able to keep it interesting all this time, because it really sucked.)

It was a boring ride - stats are below. Of course Garmin is messing around with the functionality of their website, so nothing can be embedded or edited right now. So, below are some screen shots instead.
Calories is completely off. You'll see why below.

Couple of things to note:

1) Apparently I died around the 30 minute mark and came back to
life right at the turn around point. (I guess the battery in the HRM is done.)

2) Something is wrong with elevation. It should be an exact mirror of itself,
since I rode the same line out and back. WTF!?

3) Look at how I busted tail at the last 6 or so miles. Pushing into road-bike
speeds on the MTB. On the way back there was a Bissel team rider that I passed
(oncoming). I high-tailed it right then, wanted him to come chase me down, but I
never saw him. He must have turned off. It took me 1:00:16 to ride out.
Had to beat that time on the way back - and I was dragging behind. Finished the second
half at 0:59:30 - 45 seconds quicker. I swear I made up more than 5 minutes I was behind.

This was the only "game" I could come up with in order to keep my attention.