Commute #10: October

The weather forecast for Monday was anything but accurate. Expected to be near 38 degrees in the morning, I had staged all my winter-weather gear on the couch. What I woke up to was about 10 extra degrees (bonus!), so I had to break into the bedroom where my wife was quietly sleeping and gather alternate, warmer weather gear. Also, when I flipped on the back yard flood lights to see how much moisture there was, I was excited to see everything was bone-dry. But by the time I left, it was drizzling. Huh? Weird. That didn't last but a few miles anyways. Geez, what a confusing morning.

This time of year is fun to ride on the rail trail. Morning's especially. It's usually fully covered with fallen leaves to where you care barely see the asphalt and the leaves show so bright and colorful against my headlight, its like day. And to me, the smell of Fall is something I love and will never forget. The ride in was rather uneventful, spotted a few deer here and there. I had a few moments of sadness thinking about Pastor Robert a few times, then what I've been expecting and hoping would never come to be...the guy with dogs. No longer had dogs. The second one must have passed on over the span between my last commute and that morning. So it was a sad ride in, but the fresh air does more than I probably figure no matter the quality of miles.

The ride home was also challenging, but because of physical and environmental reasons. I thought my legs were doing fine all day, but they were really tired apparently. Headwind nearly all the way, I struggled to pedal 12mph where I would normally be doing 16mph. The (stupid) light show at Fifth Third Ballpark is going up. I suspect my November commute will include part of that - watch for a unique Garmin map coming soon. (ha) I sort of "gave up" on trying to match or beat times from the morning about half way home, just too exhausted - it took me 10 minutes longer than usual to get home. Tired. Hungry. Sad. Just a lot of things weighing me down on this trip.

Greg LeMond once said "It never gets easier. You just go faster."

True for a cyclist, true for all of mankind.

Another Soul for my Rides

I went for a cross-bike ride Saturday just to get some miles in and relieve some stress. It was a long week. For this ride there was no intended route. The only intent was to get out and move a little. I rode some rail-trail, explored a industrial park, then single track and then some roads. It was a cold morning, but really nice to get out, not be on an agenda or time table. The sun came out and warmed things up nicely.

It was a good day to clear my mind. Little did I know (I would learn a few hours later) that our church Pastor, Robert had died the night before of a massive heart attack. We were all shocked and saddened by the news. He was a good guy, great for our church and loved and supported our kids dearly. Marissa had a great bond with him and is very sad about the news. All he ever wanted to do was help people, that was his church mission and he made it his life to do so.

He was a part-time Pastor for us, but worked more than any full-time one I've ever known. A great communicator. A great organizer. A great thinker and educator. Former typesetter in the printing trade, we had that in common too. He gave Patti and I lots of support through some challenges we had faced inside and outside of church. Just a good, regular, down-to-earth guy. At times I feel alone and sad, other times plenty happy and proud to have been able to serve the last five years with him at our church.

A good soul on earth has been lost, and what upsets me most is that his work here wasn't done. How are we supposed to pick up all those pieces? I guess it's our job to carry on for him, its what He would want us to do.

He always enjoyed my stories about cycling. He would tell me about his vacations with Mary and how they biked together places. He was one of the first people I e-mailed to tell him about my 24-Hour Challenge results. He supported my Miles for Smiles ministry this last summer by dusting off his steel-framed steed and riding 204 miles in 10 weeks, raising hundreds of dollars for the cause. I think mostly, he did that to show his support for me - he didn't have to take the time to do that, but he did. And he did things like this tirelessly for plenty of others. I will never forget him for that.

Pastor Robert Eckert. Another soul for me to bring along with me on my rides.


Playing Hooky

I took the day off from work yesterday to do some Mountain Biking. Then the plan was to relax the rest of the day away with wifey after lunch out with her. I really had no plan for riding, so I just headed to Merrell Trail in Rockford. I hadn't ridden here only but once before with Jeremy and it was "okay". Not completely my style of riding, lots of technical short turns and rocks and roots. There are also lots of narrow bridges and wooden "features" to ride on or through.

I took a chance and (really) without thinking rode up this thing and nearly lost it coming down the other side. And I did have to use my left forearm to brush the tree to keep me balanced. It seems steeper in real life than it looks here, I swear.

(stole this picture off the interwebs)

Like I said, the trail was still just "okay". I bet if I would ride it once a year that would be good enough for me. I prefer Luton or even Cannonsburg State Game area. It was just above 40 degrees, freezing after you started moving. So once I made it back to the car, I loaded up and was outta there fast. There were two dudes also packing up and they must have laughed because I showed up, loaded and was gone before they were even ready to get in and leave themselves. Hey, b!tches, I got another trail to ride!!!

So off to Luton I went. I contemplated riding to and from Luton on the bike, but on the single-speed it would add quite a bit of time and I was afraid it would cut into lunch time. There were maybe 6 other cars in the lot, I spotted only one with a bike rack on it. More and more runners and walkers come out to Luton. It's not usually a problem, everyone is friendly and happy to let you ride by. The only problem is that there are no signs posted to tell walkers and runners which way to go. The safest option would be to walk against the bike traffic, but almost always they're going with traffic.

My legs were pretty gassed and heavy from Merrell. I only skipped one short section of the Yellow Loop though that would have added like 30 seconds of climbing. Glad I made the rest of the trail happen though. I ended up with 18 miles on the morning in less than 2 or so hours.

Fun little map of my day. Love the straight line between trails. ha

I have an official-unofficial new mileage goal on the year of 1,500 miles. I had originally hoped to get 2,000 for Year40, but realize that is not going to happen. My cousin from Illinois, has also been riding. Fifteen-hundred miles is also his goal, so we're going to see who can make it happen first. I just rolled up onto 1,200 miles. With 150 miles of commutes to go yet, I have to fill in another 150 miles at least - that's 50 per month, or else 75 if I don't plan on riding much in December.

2016 Colorburst

I rode the Rapid Wheelmen's Colorburst Tour last weekend. This was the first time I had been able to ride the event since 2010 - which was the same year I had gotten the road bike. It quickly turned into my favorite event because that year happened to be super awesome weather and the fall colors were amazing. Also, aside from the Tour of the White Pine Trail, this was my first major "event", so quite the experience all-around. Because of schedules, every year since then, I have missed it, so I was glad to be able to make it this year.

I believe that was also the same year I joined the RW. I had talked with Jeff Festian there, whom I hadn't seen in since the old days of visiting my "girlfriend" (now wife) at GVSU. They all had lived in the same building and we had become friends.

Anyways, I digress. Saturday's event started pretty brisk and cold (high 40's), and the forecast included some light wind and full sun. The weather did not disappoint. This was my first major ride since mid-August's Night Shift. Between then and now there was only one commute and some other small, random rides.

I planned to ride the 67 mile gravel route with George from Night Shift. After mixing it up with some other cycling friends at Fallasburg Park, we met up, had some pancakes and rolled out. George lives in the area and had pre-ridden the course just a few weeks prior - so it was nice, I just took his lead. He knew all the roads and turns, I never had to access my map.

It turned out to be a great day for a ride. I was getting gassed about the 40 mile mark or so - near the second SAG stop along the route. There we met up with Johnny K, who I typically see once a year at Iceman. He was out there by himself, so he hitched on and the three of us rode together to the end.

Near the 50 mile mark or so, there are some very large and steep hills on Ashley headed south, and I had to walk up a few of those. It was actually okay though, as it did help stretch out my body and give me some time to recover - but boy, I was pretty whipped. Weak legs and I had that solid, pushing pressure right between my shoulder blades.

It was a good day though. Riding with some friends. Good weather, nice to exhaust myself. As life becomes more stressful, I need those outlets in exercise. I don't set aside enough time for myself anymore - and it was nice to get out on some good ol' dirt back roads to do some sightseeing.