2013 Night Shift Jerseys are IN!

They look and fit very nice! Designed in full by yours truely.

Pactimo did a fantastic job - great friendly service, quick with the order. Little disappointed that they came from China, because I thought I was supporting a Colorado business, but oh well.....

Have a look!


2013 Night Shift Recon

This was both the best idea I've had in awhile and the worst. Best for the fact that indeed a few suspected trouble areas of the route, were indeed trouble. Worst, because it was 4 hours of driving, about 2.5 of it very tense at times. We were tired after this and we hadn't even pedaled 1 mile.

We did get lost, but rather quickly found our way. Kinda scary, traveling on dirt roads and "seasonal roads" where we've never been before, then also knowing that at any time we could get lost or stuck in the middle of nowhere. Had we "winged it" and done this by bike in the dark....trouble!

So here are a few highlights with pictures. We learned alot about the route. Mainly, how Google satellite images don't show depth very well...I'm eliminating 4 miles of dirt road (the term "road" used VERY lightly) entirely because it was up and down, up and down, up and down in what looked like would be PURE sand by the time a dry June would arrive - and with less than 15 miles left to the finish, we were envisioning hours of hike-a-bike.

Armed with energy drinks, snack foods (beef jerky and Combos) and two redundant GPS devices and an old-fashioned paper map, we began our trek from outside Rockford. Nothing notable to report from the start all the way to Newaygo. There will be a few chances to stop at gas stations for supplies (Howard City, then Newaygo).

Aside from the one dog that thought for a second that he wanted to commit suicide by jutting out towards my front wheels, we only saw turkeys all day. Oh yeah, and a few turkey vultures perched up in trees. A good sign in my mind. HA

Enjoy the pictures below...

 Much of what we drove from the start to Howard City looked like this. Nice!

I've never been to the Hardy Dam in Newaygo before. It was quite impressive. I wonder how it will look around midnight?

Much of the trek up north revealed snow and ice still on the gravel roads.

Our first approach on a "seasonal road" (roads that don't get any county attention during the winter months).

We travelled probably nearly a half mile before reaching a point to this garbage. This was not driveable. What/whoever had driven through here prior to us, had to have had a jacked up hill-billy wagon. The ruts were half as deep as the tires on my "little" SUV. We backed down, turned around and found a way around this. This should be ridable by bike, just not today...in a civilian vehicle.

View of the truck from where we stopped to look at yet another bad spot in the road. (next pic)

We did make it through this. Most of the mud was still frozen - only the top inch or so had thawed out.

More snow the further we got on some of the seasonal roads. This section near Hungerford Lake trail.

We took the occasional break to do fun stuff like this.

Part of the section I'm removing from the first draft of the route. It was up and down like this for 4+ miles. Nearly all sand. Hardly an excuse for a "road" - more like service drive for the powerline.

Final destination: Silver Creek Campground. Notice the broken muffler. Oops.

Mud truck. My wife was happy when we got home. "Why didn't you wash my truck?" My response: "Not my truck. Not my problem." HA HA...I got a dirty look (no pun intended) for that one.

Darryl-rigged muffler hoist.

Good ol' Loggers Landing was our reward (lunch) for our trek. Delicious burgers and Philly Cheese Steak.


Pure Happiness

Just when I thought my experience from last year taking my daughter out mountain biking for the first time couldn't be topped....

Last Wednesday was Marissa's 7th birthday. Hard to believe time has gone by so fast. This was the year she would get upgraded to 20" wheels and as luck would have it Cannondale (I'm a fan) would sell kids bikes for the first time ever. She had always had good name-brand bikes, but they were gently used bikes from Craigslist. Our first official "brand new bike store purchase" needed to be a special one.

I took half the day off for this occasion. My wife and I had first surprised her at school with a pizza party at lunch. She had no idea it was happening. Then after school we picked her up and whisked her away to a "secret location". As we pulled into the parking lot of Ada Bike Shop, she still didn't have a clue what was going on. (I'm not sure she has ever been there, so she didn't recognize the location.)  We walked in, she was holding excitement in, as she was grinning with her lips closed and being shy at the same time. I walked up to the desk and said to Jill, "this little girl has a birthday today and she has no idea what she is getting." Jill says, "Hmmm, maybe she should take a look around?"

I had a month earlier put money down on this bike I loved it so much. As it was recently paid for in full, I brought in a bow to be installed on the handlebars the day before and the shop was kind enough to oblige and also throw in a "Happy Birthday" note.

We casually cruised the shop looking for "something". Nearing the back of the shop, we rounded the corner, she saw the bike and casually walked up to it. Happy Birthday! The first words out of her mouth were, "Daddy, do the pedals go backward?" You bet. "Oh and it has brake thingys up here." Yes it does honey. It's a big girls bike. I'm surprised she could talk that much as she was smiling ear to ear. At this point, I'm not sure who was smiling more. Daddy, mommy or Marissa.

After practicing riding in the parking lot and panicking about the brakes a little, we took the bike home and she rode it through the neighborhood for no less than 20 minutes straight in the 30 degree (and windy) temps. We even took our first ride together and I taught her how, when and why to shift gears.

Man. What a day! I hope she remembers this day for the rest of her life. I know I will.

The smiles below speak for themselves. I wish I could do this every day.