Marty had a great plan of trying to ride the "Trifecta" as it's known in West Michigan...ride the Cannonsburg State Game Area (SGA), Cannonsburg Ski Hill, and Luton all in one "sitting". I had the availability Saturday afternoon to ride, so that we did. It was a great day, full sun mid-50's. It rained a lot on Friday, but there were surprisingly very few muddy spots (so I was a little disappointed), but still enough muck holes to get a little dirty.

I hadn't ridden the SGA for probably 2 years and I was definitely out of shape last time I was there. (not very good memories) This time was different. Trail was in good shape (and so was I), there are some technical drops and long-steady climbs. Overall, lots of roots I noticed. Nothing much to note here.

So, onward to Ski Hill. As suspected, we had to ride on some roads to get between all the trials. The roadie in me, had me taking charge of the hills like no body's business. Felt good pounding the pedals on the roads.

We looked for a rumored "back entrance" to the Ski Hill from Egypt Valley road and eventually found it. Very new trail, it was soft, hilly and overall a leg killer. I had to granny-gear it most of the way. I was swearing under my breath about taking this trail instead of the roads around to the front of Cannonsburg. Well, it didn't last long and before we knew it we were on the regular trail. I haven't ridden Ski Hill in at least a year or so either. The climbs are long and not steep, but painful none the less. They just seem to keep going and going and going. About half way through, I was starting to lose my focus and was failing to keep my line in some technical areas. I was using my forearms to keep me from bouncing off of trees, several of them were wacking away at the tips of my handlebars. It was also around this point in the ride where I discovered that I had little to no use of my front disc brake. It wasn't doing much of anything. I guess its time to bleed the line. I was lucky and escaped any traumatic damage.

Next was Luton and we were going to have to battle the hills on Myers Lake in order to get there. I used my "extra weight advantage" to fly down the hills and let momentum carry me the first third of the way up the hills, find the right gear and grind out to the top. Then repeat no less than 5 times. At this point I was starting to lose Marty, so I stopped and waited maybe 15 seconds or so for him to catch up at the light. I took lead in our 2-man paceline all the way to Luton - we were flying. Anywhere from 18-26mph....on mountain bikes. Was feeling good. Found our way to Luton and both of us didn't start feeling the pain till Red Loop. Its the one to push you over the edge, if that is where you are at. And we were there. Of course, not being babies, we survived just fine. Rode all the loops without issue. The road ride back to Marty's house just a few miles from Luton, was good for me, more painful for Marty I think. I was big-ringing it all the way there. Flying. On such a great ride, I had to empty the tank.

Overall, a GRAND day for a mountain bike ride with one of my best friends. Three hours pain, sweat, swearing and best of all...muddy smiles.


Morning of No's

Another perfect morning for riding. Temps in the mid 50's, overcast, no wind. Rode Luton, 2 laps.
No crashes.
No stopping.
No mechanicals.
No granny gear.
Feel fantastic, could have rode another one.


Challenger, Luton, Challenger

Nothing special to report. Rode with some fellow Rapid Wheelmen last Wednesday evening on the Challenger ride. It ended in thick darkness, good thing I brought my light. Early on I had trouble with the Garmin. Later found out that the cadence/speed sensor was sliding all around so once that was fixed I was golden.

Next was Luton x2 last Saturday am. Rode one lap by myself, then lap two with some fellow RW Dirty Team Racers. One was a full suspension tandem piloted by Dave and Mary. They are good operating that thing. There wasn't anything they couldn't get around or over. Fun to watch. Felt good and wasn't terribly wasted afterwards. Start temps were mid 30's, and two hours later it was almost mid 50's. Great morning for mountain biking!! I did skip the yellow loop on the first lap because I wasn't sure I had time to meet everyone in the parking lot. Turns out I could have cleared it easy. This coming weekend, I hope to pull a full 2 laps with no break in between.

Last night was another Challenger ride. Lots of wind and fast speeds. Spent most of the time trying to draft, but also did a few pulls up front. Seemed sluggish at times, but overall, still felt good after a good 30 medium-hard miles. Spend most of the night riding behind "snot rocket man" (Troy I think his name was). He blew snot rockets out 5 times over the course of the ride. The first one caught me off-guard and he let them loose so I got hit with his spray. From that point on, I stayed back a bit. I was going to say something to him, but didn't know him very well. It was kinda rude, but whatever...it was still a good day to ride. He was a mountain biker turned roadie, so we had some things to talk about, trails and whatnot.


2012 Lowell 50 Spring Edition (28 miler)

It was a cold, brisk morning for a bike race. Not quite freezing temps, but mid-high 30's. With a slight breeze and 13-15mph movement, it would seem lots colder.

I started my warm-ups cruising up and down Covered Bridge Road with my head sock on under my helmet but even under the light cadence, I was starting to heat up, so wisely I took it off before race time. There were many Wheelmen in attendance racing, both race team and regular club members, so that was cool - showing our presence in team colors. I'm learning (and retaining) a lot of names now.

I tried positioning myself near the front of wave two (28 mile riders) instead of near the back like usual. I guess before, with starting near the rear, I like to think I'm avoiding conflict and a potential crash. But I realized, it's actually worse back there. At the front at least you can keep up and get less slingshot/rubberbanding action of the peloton in regards to speed. It's a rush riding with (actual) fast riders for at least the first couple of miles. After the first climb I was passed by (seemingly) everyone. Again, like last week, at least I never got off the bike to walk even one step of the race. (I hope I can start soon to not make this an "accomplishment" and just a normal thing.) HA

Within the first 5 miles, I tried latching on to several pacelines in the first paved section (yes, it happens in mountain bike races too). I just couldn't hold on for the long haul. Kept getting dropped. So, like every other race I've been in, I usually end up riding the course by myself with no one, nothing to battle except myself and the wind. If anything, it gives me time to think, time to talk myself into pushing harder, time to take fluids/gels. I have a really hard time finding someone close to my pace of riding during events like this (slow with erratic periods of crazy-fastness).

I was leap frogging a guy wearing Freewheeler Bike Shop gear all day. We should have worked together, but we were still too opposite. He on a cross bike, too fast on the paved flats, me on my mountain bike too fast on the gravel decents. He walked up hills, I slammed the granny gear most of the time and every so slightly pulled away. Beat him by a minute or two. In the end we met up for a bit at the finish line, he told me he was trying to keep a hold of my wheel, but couldn't do it. That made me feel good at least. (And no, he wasn't some 350 lb gorilla riding a 50 lb steel Walmart bike!)

Overall the race was fun, so a couple of positives came out of the event. I certainly don't go out to win anything at these things, but to gain experience, fitness and friends through participating. Again, nutrition was spot on, fluids good. Feet and extremeties warm. Just gotta work on continuing to lose weight and eat better in order to gain speed. It's a daily battle for myself, really wish I could get that together. I don't understand counting calories, it shouldn't be that hard. Something I have to learn I guess.

I was around 10-12 minutes off my time in last fall's race, which I guess is not too bad considering I had 6 months of decent mileage and riding under my belt. Still more work to do. Lots of it.

Time to get in some road riding and mileage soon and will probably sign up for my first Time Trial on April 15.

Official Results:
18/22 riders, Men age 30-39

I had (actual) fans Saturday! It was great to have them there.
(sorry it was so cold guys.)

There was an actual finish line this time. Complete with timing chips, etc. I was pretty tired at this point. I had been hammering away for the last few miles straight hoping to finish strong. There were a bunch of photographers near the covered bridge on the way back that should have gotten some stellar shots of me rocking the Blue Bomber at high-speeds in aero-position. Hope they turn out.