Fort Custer Stampede 2013

Perfect weather. That about sums it up. My brother-in-law Evan met me at my house just before 7a.m. on Sunday morning so we could make the trek down to Augusta, MI for the 2013 Fort Custer Stampede mountain bike race. The Elite/Expert waves started at 10 so I wanted to be there by about 8:50-9:00am to grab my race packet and warm up without being hurried. It ended up only taking us an hour and a half, including a pit stop just before town.

Augusta Michigan is an 885 person village about halfway between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek (though a smidge north of both)  that is home to the Fort Custer Military Base, and the Fort Custer Recreational Area.  The original village of Augusta established in 1832 sat where the military base now resides, but was razed for the base and relocated to its current location. One of the notable establishments Even & I observed was a bike shop 200 yards away from the entrance to the recreational area. Well played.

I packed clothing for a cool morning, but ended up not needing anything but my shorts and short-sleeve jersey for my warm-up. I could tell already that race weather was going to be ideal. The sun was not hindered by even a single cloud. The day’s temps would top out in the mid 70’s making the later races a bit warm for mid spring and I could tell several of the riders were not hydrating well enough to compensate. It was a fine temperature to grill some burgers and watch the rest of the race, though.

Instead of talking you through every turn of my race, I’ll show you:

The Cross Country Cycle team again performed very well with podium and 4th/5th place finishes (5th and above are recognized and given pint glasses) throughout the race categories. I ended up in 8th which I wasn’t disappointed in until I started watching the video again and realized that there are some areas where I can improve my race strategies and tactics. I’m still learning, I’m o.k. J

My next race is down in Warsaw, IN at the Fat & Skinny Tire Fest which should be a ton of fun. Until then, more training and riding. Outdoor riding, that is. Man alive; am I happy for Spring!

Yankee Springs Time Trial 2013

Sunday’s temperature was predicted to be high 30’s at my 10am start time and warm up to the low 50’s by mid-afternoon. Brrrrr. I ended up dressing in my Under Armour coldgear mock turtleneck thermal with team jacket on top, full length cycling pants under my team shorts, and my summer weight full fingered cycling gloves. It’s what I call my upper-40’s set-up but it was perfect.

Being my first race in the Expert class, I was nervous/anxious all day Saturday and up to the moment I launched out of the starting gate. And it showed as I shoved off squirrely and nearly took out the timing clock. After the shaky start, I quickly settled in and set a pace that was slightly uncomfortable, but something I felt was sustainable.

My brother and brother-in-law shot out to some spectator spots on the trail for my first lap to cheer me on and encourage me which was really great. Great, that is, until my brother-in-law races me down the last straightaway yelling “GO! GO! GO! ONLY ONE LAP TO GO!!!” Yeah, that meant I was only half way. I gave him a hard time about that comment on the way home. I actually chuckled once I dove back into the trail for my second lap and had a second to digest what he had just said.

I ended up finishing 12th out of 26 in my age group picking up 20 points towards the Championship Points Series (CPS). My lap times were 51:54 and 53:39 which are both slower than my one lap from last year, but it appears as though the course may have ran slightly slower even though the conditions seemed perfect. It could be the overall average conditioning of everyone due to the harsh winter as well. Only time will tell.

A teammate of mine took a bunch of pictures. You can see I wasn’t really too worried about my poor start from the smile on my face. Or was that just slight embarrassment 🙂 I love this sport.

Planning for Another 100

This 100th post was much harder to write than I originally thought. I wanted to get it just right. This is why it has taken this long to complete.

About a month ago, I was sitting on the trainer thinking to myself (as I often do) about how my training regimen would translate into race performance. I had been working particularly hard compared to years past and was hopeful that the strategy would pay off. After my ride I hopped on the scale, as I do about once a week, and discouragingly reviewed my equivalent of the magic eight ball’s response. 240. ERRGGGHH! If only I had the discipline to manage my food intake I’d be able to drop weight with the amount of riding I was doing.

And then, as if I were the Wiley Coyotte screeching to a halt over the middle of a gulley, I stopped and said “Wait. What?!” “If only I had the DISCIPLINE!?” That was humbling. I realized right then and there that something owned me. It explained the shame after eating my box of Triscuits and half block of sharp cheddar cheese. But it wasn’t a comfortable realization.

Discipline, I realized, was more than convincing myself at every test not to give in to an option counter to my goal. Discipline wasn’t trying to push myself into the positive action castle, but that I was defending the castle from an intruder. It’s my house. But…seconds tick, minutes slip away, hours pass, days go by and the disappointment of that realization fades. I concede small battle areas. “Avery won’t eat an entire ¼ pounder; I’ll just add that little bit to my burger.” Before you can blink, I’m numb to the frustration I initially felt.

But this is more than just about food. And at the same time it’s not really about anything important at all, either. It’s just the minor battles I encounter while trying to accomplish my competitive goals. They’re not life or death issues so I need to keep that in perspective. But it did point out that there’s more that I can do in my training.

This past Sunday was the Yankee Springs Time Trial; the first true mountain bike race of my season. I took the entire week off two weeks ago, the week I was supposed to really hit it pretty good before a taper week last week. But I just needed the mental reset. I did fine on Sunday. Not as well as I maybe could have if I hadn’t skipped that week, but just fine.

I’m hoping that these are fairly common struggles of weekend warrior athletes. This week is a good hard week and then next week is another taper week leading up to the Fort Custer Stampede. I’m looking forward to the physical and mental challenges of this season. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time training physically over the winter. I’m planning on a few ‘mental taper’ weeks to help out with the mental strengthening . I’m planning them now so that I can hopefully avoid taking them out of necessity in inopportune times. My new plan is to research and add some mental, sport specific, training. I’m thinking this could lead to some new and different posts over my next 100.

The Barry-Roubaix

After this post, I will no longer be posting my training plan every week. Now that I’ve officially entered my race year, what I work on from here to Iceman will be proprietary and I can’t afford any of my competition finding out how I will be training to beat them. I may occasionally provide a glimpse now and again, however, it will be very generic to protect trade secrets.

O.k., I don’t have competition trolling my blog and they certainly wouldn’t be trying to steal a page out of my training plan 🙂 I’m just finding that posting my training plan is overwhelming my blog content and I’d prefer to keep my updates about getting outside (still boring you with the details, of course) rather than becoming a training blog.


Pre-Race Preparations


So, the 2013 Barry-Roubaix was held yesterday, and I joyfully participated for the 3rd year running. This year’s event had several significant changes, which in my opinion, worked out phenomenally. The first and largest was that the start finish was moved to the city of Hastings. Hastings is a small rural town about 40 minutes south and slightly east of Grand Rapids. It has a population of approximately 7,400 in about a 5.4 square mile area. It has a neat downtown area with restaurants, breweries, retail, and parks. It is approximately directly opposite of the previous race start at Gunn Lake/Yankee Springs. By moving the start/finish venue, Rick Plite, the race founder and promoter was able to increase the participant cap from 1,500 to 3,000. 2,873 riders registered, nearly selling the race out again.

Because of the additional participants, the race start was split up into more waves. First off were the 62 mile competitors who went out in 2 waves, followed by 10 waves of 36 mile competitors, and rounded out with 2 waves of 24 mile competitors. This race start strategy resulted in wave sizes that ranged from 130 to 230 riders, which was both crazy and energizing all at the same time. I was in wave 3. Hastings shut down several streets for the weekend to help direct traffic away from the race course and create space for the festivities. Several parking lots were converted into team pit areas, temporary food court’s, awards area, and the beer tent.

Unfortunately, I mis-judged the time at which I should line up in my wave, and ended up very near the rear of my group, initially. As the 1st and 2nd waves left and we transitioned towards the start line, I did my best to jockey for better position, but still ended up in about the middle of the pack. When the gun went off, we were led out of town via motorcycle at about a 16-18 mph pace, which allowed me to quickly move up to the rear of the lead pack of 20-30 riders. Once the race hit gravel, a group of about 10 quickly separated and began pulling away. I decided that I needed to be a part of that group so I gave chase, crossing the gap with the help of a slight tailwind. Once on, I simply worked to stay in the slipstream of this group until I could get a feel for the course, the other rider’s strengths, and what advantages I might have. The pace was quick, particularly in the climbs, but I was able to keep it, never falling more than 10 feet behind on any climb and always able to out descend the group (often having to apply some brake). Within the first 5 miles we lost 3-4 riders to falls, which 1 was able to rejoin us.

As we caught the tail end of the two 62 mile waves, the icy road conditions became very apparent as a handful of riders (mostly on cyclocross bikes) went down. I could tell that the riders in my pack were very tentative once riders started going down, and felt the pace slow just slightly. The gravel roads up until that point were either snow/ice covered, or exposed but riddled with pot holes. Friday afternoon had been in the upper 30’s and sunny causing many of the gravel roads to become really wet and puddle up. But overnight, temps dropped into the 20’s and all of those puddles and moist areas froze. It was still only 28 degrees at the start of the race, and clouds prevented the sun from re-softening the patches of ice.

As we continued, I began developing a strategy of simply hanging on no matter what the cost on the hills with the expectation that the pot holes would take their tole on the cyclocross riders as they constantly stood up out of their saddles and hopped their bikes over unavoidable potholes. I was quite comfortable on my Epic, sometimes navigating around obstacles, and sometimes simply hammering through them just to hand over a little psychological message that I wasn’t going to get worn out because of the road conditions. The group was a bit schizophrenic in that we’d peloton out in the flats, bunch up in the climbs, and kind of stagger in areas that had either snow or pot holes as no one trusted the rider in front of them. Again, I didn’t care what line the guy in front of me took, I figured if they could handle it, I’d be fine. I was starting to settle in.

About 8.25 miles in, the course begins a small climb as the road ends in a ‘T’ where we then took a left into a short steep climb. The road at this particular intersection was covered with about a 1/2″ of crusty ice/snow. Traction was scarce. I saw an aggressive inside corner line that looked clean and decided to take it. It wasn’t my intention to make a move, but I was in about 3rd or 4th position at that point because of the aggressive line. That ended up being mistake #1. The line ended up being solid ice and I went down. Fortunately I didn’t fall hard, but I ended up getting caught on a fairly wide area of ice so getting back up and on my bike proved challenging. On top of the road challenges, I was in the wrong gear to start out at the bottom of a steep climb, but I had no choice as shifting gears under that much load had a high likelihood of tweaking something in the drivetrain. My guess is that I lost 10-20 seconds on the pack.

At that point, I had a decision to make: overcook myself to catch back up to the lead group, or; keep a pace I could push and hope that the road conditions would finally wear the lead group down (all on cyclocross bikes I believe). I chose option 2, and thus, made mistake #2. I never regained contact with the lead group, and ended up having to push my own wind for the next hour until the leaders from wave 4 and 5 caught me. Once they did, I realized my earlier mistake as I was able to latch on to that group and had no problem following them in for the last 4-5 miles of the race. I sprinted into Hastings with this group, making sure I stayed out of their way as I wasn’t in it anymore and didn’t want to cause any unnecessary mistakes for any of them. My final time was 1:54:43, about 5 minutes behind the winner of my wave,  which looked like a fun finish as the gap between 1st place and 4th place was 5 seconds. I know there were a number of riders that passed me when I spilled, but didn’t realize that there were that many as I ended up placing 11th.

I had no expectations of winning and have no elusions that I would have either been able to maintain contact with the lead group or had enough left in the tank to offer competition in the final sprint for a podium spot. What I was most proud of was that I took about 2 minutes off my time from last year and moved up 6 spots from 17th to 11th. I was able to capture a little bit of the day on my iPhone. I planned on capturing the race on my GoPro, but unfortunately left the camera on overnight on Friday night so when I went to turn it on just before the race, the battery was dead.

As far as my training plan for last week, I planned a very light week of essentially just keeping my legs fresh by doing some non-stressful spinning on the trainer. I put in 50 minutes on Monday, an hour and a half on Thursday, and just 30 minutes Friday night to liven up the legs in some pre-warm up preparation. Because diet can have just as much of an effect on performance as the race week routine, I went with a high-carb rice filled burrito Friday night and several banana’s and a Mojo bar for breakfast. I staggered my breakfast over a two hour window immediately prior to the race and it seemed to work out well. I also made sure I drank plenty of water as I didn’t want to have the same problem as Iceman last November.

After the race I enjoyed a couple of hours laughing with riders and having a couple of Founder’s ale’s and eating some taco’s from What The Truck’s mobile food truck. This 100% serious here, no matter where you’re reading this from, you need to find out where that truck is going to be next and drive however long it takes to get to it for the tacos. They’re that good.

Barry-Roubaix 2013 rounded out to be a great event. Rick is proving to be a master race organizer and pulled off a perfect event despite nearly doubling the attendance. I’m looking forward to 2014’s race.

My next post will be the milestone 100th post. I’m brewing up a doozy which will dive into a rather personal, but significant realization that has changed some of my behavior over the past couple of weeks, but has also given me a method of understanding decisions and actions. Consider this a teaser….

Michigan Mountain Biking Race Season!!!!!

This weekend has been wild for me as I think through my final preparation for my first race of 2013 next Saturday. While it sure doesn’t feel like race season outside, I’m getting a firm boost of excitement with the Absa Cape Epic kicking off this morning and next week’s Barry-Roubaix (technically a cyclocross race, but mountain bikers are welcome). I celebrated with hot lap to Dunton Park with my daughter (7.1 mph average) for some playground fun in the warm sun. I wasn’t planning on riding hard today, but she kept pushing me to go faster 🙂

Epic Ride


Unfortunately, I was unable to get a pre-ride in of the new Barry-Roubaix course this year. It travels about 95% of the same roads as last year, but the race start/finish has been moved to Hastings, MI rather than the Yankee Springs State Game Area campground. It actually changes the course quite dramatically because Hastings is essentially on the opposite side of the race loop from the historical start/finish. The major concern this year has been course conditions as the killer gravel road race utilizes several seasonal roads that either don’t get plowed, don’t get plowed often, and/or are in the shade limiting the sun’s ability to melt snow off the road. I’ve been scavenging and devouring up every pre-ride report I can find. If you, too, are looking for some idea of what you’re in for, here’s a link to a Flicker page from today, and here’s some YouTube footage (6 part series) from last weekend.

The long range forecast for next Saturday is currently sunny with a high in the low 40’s and a low of 30. Considering we’ll be starting at or shortly after 10a.m., I’m guessing its going to be on the lower end of that range. However, with the sun and warming temperatures, it could cause whatever snow is on the road to soften and create some major road suck as well as make them squirrelly. Top that off with snow forecasted for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, and this has all the makings for one painful race for the record books. Someone I was talking to said this could be one of those races that everyone talks about for decades and those who participated will be able to boast “I rode THAT year”.

As far as the Absa Cape Epic goes, today marks the beginning of the 7 day event with the prologue. There are a few teams riding in honor of Burry Stander, the South African professional mountain biker who had won the last couple of Absa Cape Epic’s but was tragically killed by a taxi this winter while training. His teammate, Christoph Sauser, is partnering with last year’s Olympic Gold Medalist, Jaroslav Kulhavy for this year’s event under the team name Burry Stander SONGO. They proceeded to hammer the field this morning, opening a gap of 1:06 in just 55 minutes. As a comparison, Burry and Christoph took the prologue by just 13 seconds last year, but went on to win by 27 minutes. I have to believe that there were some emotions driving today’s action as Kulhavy pulled Sauser from line to line. Here’s an intro to the Cape Epic and this year’s race course.

Although MY first true mountain bike race won’t happen until the Yankee Springs Time Trial in late April, I’m beginning to ramp up the adrenaline and excitement.

A Michigan Mountain Biking Test

Don't Stick Your Foot In There While Moving.

Don’t Stick Your Foot In There While Moving.

This is what happens when you try to knock snow off your foot by taping it on your front fork while riding. You can very easily miss the fork and stick it in the front wheel, catapulting you up over your handle bars and onto the ground in, oh I don’t know, less than a second? I’m amazed that all I did was bend a spoke. The wheel even stayed true (until I started riding it that way). It’s a Velocity Blunt. I’ve had issues with the SL’s on my rear wheel, but this one has been bullet proof, and now that I’m back to the base model Blunt on the rear again, I’ve had no issues there, either.

Anyway, I mentioned in an earlier post that I was working on a couple of projects that I’m excited about. The first is a lo-fi mountain bike stage challenge that incorporates most of the West Michigan mountain biking trails. What’s lo-fi you say? Well, all of the participants will be timed by using Strava and completing the Strava segments that have already been set up at each of the trails. Each rider will have 72 hours to complete all 8 trails. And to eliminate the need for offering all of the various race categories, I’ve developed a handicapping system to help level the playing field. I like to think of it as the BCS of Michigan Mountain Biking. But, because nothing like this has been developed before (that I’m aware of), I’m having to do it by hand. This has been very tedious.

Essentially, what I’m doing is going through about 10-15 races from last year, including the highly attended Barry-Roubaix, Yankee Springs Time Trial, Ore-to-Shore, and Iceman, and creating a ‘par’ completion time by averaging the finish times of the fastest 5% of the riders at each race. This is pretty simple for point-to-point and single-lap races because everyone rides the exact same course (I consider the different distance options at the BR and O2S as separate races). Many of the MMBA’s CPS races, however, require a little finagling because depending on your race class, you complete a different number of laps than the Elite riders (typically the make-up of the fastest 5%). To solve this, I went through everyone’s lap times, and when necessary, added 5% to the previous lap time to come up with the following lap time as many times as it took to equalize the number of laps for everyone. Finally I took the difference between my participant’s adjusted time (AT) at each race, subtracted the par time (PT), divided it by the AT and multiplied it by 90%. The 90% was to create a slight disadvantage for completing fewer laps. This works well for riders who may ride at the top of their class, but could very well compete in the class above them (possibly like me last year).

What you end up with, is a percentage of deviation from PT that you can average using all of the races that a rider completed and apply to each rider’s actual times for each Strava segment in the challenge. Add them all up from each of the trails and compare them to everyone else’s to see who was the fastest that weekend.

So part two of my project, which is actually where I had started and ran into the idea above, is to create a Michigan Mountain Biker Ranking. I had the notion to come up with something about a year ago, but didn’t really start mapping out how that might work until late last fall after Iceman. Some of the factors that need to be considered in putting a list like this together is not only normalizing the number of laps at each race like I did for my Strava Challenge, but also come up with some sort of trail rating in order to appropriately differentiate the race difficulty, or maybe better described as the trail type. The theory there is that some riders are better at certain types of races than others. I’m more of an endurance rider and do better at longer races with mid-to-more total elevation gain.

I’m still working out what calculations I might use to come up with an overall rider ranking, but in the meantime I ended up creating what I believe to be a fair trail rating equation that uses three factors: elevation gain per mile; trail length; and technical difficulty. Of those three factors, technical difficulty will be the most subjective, while elevation gain and trail length have been some of the more difficult data to find. For that I have gone back to Strava. Because that data is based on GPS information which is somewhat subject to each device’s reception there is some discrepancy and inaccuracy (or lack of precision), if I use the same type of data for all of the courses it should still provide a good comparison. This is what I have come up with so far:

Trail / Race Course (Per lap) Elev. Gain per Mile Climb Rating Tech Rating Length Length Rating Overall Course Rating 3
Addison Oaks 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Al Quaal 0.0 10.0 12.2 4.1 4.7
Al Sabo 0.0 10.0 5.9 8.5 6.2
Allegan SGA 18.8 8.9 9 16.0 3.1 7.0
Anderson Park 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Arcadia Dunes 104.3 3.7 3 11.5 4.3 3.7
Aspen Park 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Bald Mountain 0.0 10.0 12.0 4.2 4.7
Barry Roubaix 24 66.7 6.0 8 24.0 2.1 5.4
Barry Roubaix 36 61.1 6.3 8 36.0 1.4 5.2
Barry Roubaix 62 45.2 7.3 8 62.0 0.8 5.4
Bass River 18.8 8.9 2 8.0 6.3 5.7
Bennett Park 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Betsie River Pathway 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Big M 100.0 4.0 4 40.0 1.3 3.1
Black Mountain 0.0 10.0 30.0 1.7 3.9
Bloomer 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Boyne Challenge 133.9 2.0 2 9.3 5.4 3.1
Boyne Mountain 125.0 2.5 2 16.0 3.1 2.5
Brighton 0.0 10.0 14.0 3.6 4.5
Bruno’s Run 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Burchfield 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Cadillac Pathway 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Cannon Township MTB Trail 0.0 10.0 1.2 41.7 17.2
Canonsburg Ski Area 97.4 4.2 4 7.7 6.5 4.9
Canonsburg State Game Area 60.0 6.4 5 7.5 6.7 6.0
Cheboygan 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Chippewa Hills Pathway 0.0 10.0 6.6 7.6 5.9
Clear Lake 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Clinton River Park Trail 0.0 10.0 4.5 11.1 7.0
Copper Harbor 0.0 10.0 25.0 2.0 4.0
Deerfield 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Eagle Run Trail 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Edwards Creek 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Ehlco 0.0 10.0 26.9 1.9 4.0
Ella Sharp 0.0 10.0 11.0 4.5 4.8
Fort Custer Stampede 0.0 10.0 4 11.6 4.3 6.1
Fort Custer Trail 0.0 10.0 4 20.0 2.5 5.5
Frankenmuth Trails 0.0 10.0 2.0 25.0 11.7
Gladwin Trail 0.0 10.0 6.0 8.3 6.1
Grand Island 0.0 10.0 23.0 2.2 4.1
Grand River 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Greenville Shearer Rd 0.0 10.0 5.2 9.6 6.5
Hanson Hills 0.0 10.0 21.0 2.4 4.1
Harlow Lake 0.0 10.0 18.0 2.8 4.3
Hartwick Pines 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Heritage Park 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Hewens Creek 0.0 10.0 4.5 11.1 7.0
Hickory Glen 0.0 10.0 6.5 7.7 5.9
High Country Pathway 0.0 10.0 80.0 0.6 3.5
Highland 167.0 0.0 14.7 3.4 1.1
Holdridge 106.9 3.6 14.0 3.6 2.4
Hungerford Lake 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Iceman Cometh 82.4 5.1 5 30.0 1.7 3.9
Ionia 0.0 10.0 7.5 6.7 5.6
Island Lake 52.0 6.9 13.0 3.8 3.6
Jailhouse Trail 0.0 10.0 5.5 9.1 6.4
Kensington to Proud Lk Connector 0.0 10.0 2.5 20.0 10.0
Lake Ann Pathway 0.0 10.0 5.8 8.6 6.2
Lakelands Trail 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Lakeshore Park 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Lightning Bend City Park 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Love Creek 0.0 10.0 4.2 11.9 7.3
Luton Park 66.7 6.0 3 9.0 5.6 4.9
MacKenzie Trail 0.0 10.0 12.0 4.2 4.7
Madeline Bertrand 0.0 10.0 2.2 22.7 10.9
Marquette South Trails 0.0 10.0 20.0 2.5 4.2
Maybury 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Merrell Trail – Red Direction 101.7 3.9 3 5.9 8.5 5.1
Merrell Trail – Yellow Direction 101.7 3.9 4 5.9 8.5 5.5
Michigan Tech Trails 0.0 10.0 18.0 2.8 4.3
Mid Michigan Community College 0.0 10.0 10.1 5.0 5.0
Midland City Forest 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Midland-Mackinac Trail 0.0 10.0 11.4 4.4 4.8
Milford Trail 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Morton-Taylor Trails 0.0 10.0 8.0 6.3 5.4
Munson 0.0 10.0 5.5 9.1 6.4
Negwegon 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
North Country Trail 73.7 5.6 25.7 1.9 2.5
North Higgins Lake 0.0 10.0 6.5 7.7 5.9
Norway Ridge Pathway 0.0 10.0 7.0 7.1 5.7
Ogemaw Hills Pathway 0.0 10.0 13.6 3.7 4.6
Olson Park 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Ore to Shore 31.4 8.1 5 49.5 1.0 4.7
Orion Oaks 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Ortonville 0.0 10.0 3.5 14.3 8.1
Owassippe 124.9 2.5 11.0 4.5 2.4
Pando Ski Area 100.0 4.0 5 6.0 8.3 5.8
Pigeon Creek 0.0 10.0 9 10.0 5.0 8.0
Pine Haven 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Pomeroy/Henry Lake 0.0 10.0 50.0 1.0 3.7
Pontiac Lake 110.0 3.4 11.0 4.5 2.6
Porcupine Mountains 0.0 10.0 25.0 2.0 4.0
Potowatomi 88.2 4.7 17.1 2.9 2.5
Proud Lake 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Refuge Bike Park 0.0 10.0 3.8 13.2 7.7
Rifle River 0.0 10.0 15.0 3.3 4.4
Riley Trails 41.7 7.5 6 6.0 8.3 7.3
River Bends 0.0 10.0 6.9 7.2 5.7
Robinette’s 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Rolling Hills Park 0.0 10.0 3.0 16.7 8.9
Rouge Park 0.0 10.0 3.0 16.7 8.9
Ruby Campground 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Seven Lakes 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Sharon Mills 0.0 10.0 3.8 13.2 7.7
Shingle Mill Pathway 0.0 10.0 14.0 3.6 4.5
Sleeper 0.0 10.0 4.0 12.5 7.5
Sleepy Hollow 0.0 10.0 10.0 5.0 5.0
Stony Creek 64.0 6.2 14.0 3.6 3.2
Swedetown 0.0 10.0 33.0 1.5 3.8
T.K. Lawless 0.0 10.0 9.0 5.6 5.2
Tisdale Triangle Pathway 0.0 10.0 10.1 5.0 5.0
Upper Macatawa Trail 100.0 4.0 3 2.0 25.0 10.7
Valley Spur Bike Trail 0.0 10.0 26.0 1.9 4.0
VASA Singletrack 0.0 10.0 13.0 3.8 4.6
Wakely Lake 0.0 10.0 16.5 3.0 4.3
Waterloo 0.0 10.0 5.0 10.0 6.7
Whiskey Creek 0.0 10.0 22.0 2.3 4.1
Wilderness SP 0.0 10.0 16.0 3.1 4.4
Wildwood Hills 0.0 10.0 9.5 5.3 5.1
Yankee Springs 90.0 4.6 4 13.6 3.7 4.1
Yankee Springs Time Trial 109.1 3.5 5 22.0 2.3 3.6
Averages 83.3

So that’s what I had been working on before I got crazy busy, and I should be able to get back to it again over the next couple of months to finish it up. In the meantime, I’m working on ramping up my training for my first race, which is now a month away. I’m really looking forward to racing again and I’ll be sure to keep my feet out of my wheels from now on


Coming Up For Air

I’m telling you right now, I will have to dive back under again, and soon. I’m hoping I fare better this next round. The last couple of weeks were brutal….for my biking (let’s be honest, here). First launching into a great ski trip out to Lake Tahoe (outside of the 9 hours of travel…flying each way) and then being catapulted into the final stages of multiple deal closings when I returned, my bike training took a real hit.

Though I was planning on my ski trip week as a ‘down week’, I ended up with a cold the Monday before I left which limited my riding to one night of easy spinning. Ski conditions were good, but not the 12-24” of fresh powder that really wears you out, so the first two days of skiing were simply not that draining. It wasn’t until Saturday that we found a real nice groove off one of the lifts and wore it out (I’m still working on the video I took with my GoPro). Sunday was entirely spent traveling home (left Lake Tahoe at 8a.m. CA time, boarded our 11:20a.m. flight out of Sacramento, flew for 3 ½ hours to Atlanta, boarded our next flight out 2 hours later, and landed in Grand Rapids at 11:15 making it home by midnight.

I knew returning to work I’d have some catch up to do, but thought I was in decent shape from keeping up with email while I was out of the office. Uh, yeah right. Outside of Wednesday where I was able to get out on my single speed for an hour, my days consisted of dropping the kids off at school, busting it to work, leaving around 5-5:30, eating dinner with the family, wrestling with the kids, putting them to bed around 7:30, and going back to my work until midnight. It was exhausting, but make no mistake about it, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in my job by Friday night.

So these are the challenges of being an amateur mountain biker. However, only fools long to replace their life with that of a full time rider. You either quit your job and do it, or be satisfied with the balancing act. I don’t wish to give up what I’m doing to chase that dream. But being a competitive person I do get a bit down knowing that my training restrictions won’t allow me to achieve all that I’m capable of on the bike (or at least all that I THINK I’m capable of 🙂 ).

What I’ve resolved to doing is replacing time with intensity. Trying to be very smart about how I spend my time on the bike when I AM on it. So, I’ve played with some of my workouts again. I’ll still be keeping my sprint drills and sustain programs in my quiver to pull out regularly; but I want to try mixing it up a bit as well. This winter has made it a bit harder to ride outside without a fat tire bike so far with the 8 inches of snow, rain, 8 inches of snow, rain, cycle we’ve had. The plows have not been able to keep up with the snow on the bike paths like usual which makes them essentially impassable with a standard 2.3” tire. So, I’ve had to spend a bit more time in the basement than I’d care to, but hopefully as we near the end of February here, the weather will turn a little which will allow me to start my 2-3 hour shoulder and gravel road rides.

With all of that load dropped on you, here’s my plan for this week (I know part of its already past):

Sprint Intervals: Total Day
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
30 second on – 100%
20 30 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
24 4 minute rest – 40%
60 seconds on – Standing
30 30 seconds off – 40%  4 total reps (6 minutes)
35 5 minute rest – 40%
15 second on – 100%
45 15 second rest – 20%    –   20 total reps (10 minutes)
55 5 minute rest – 40%
60 seconds on – Standing
61 30 seconds off – 40%  4 total reps (6 minutes)
65 4 minute rest – 40%
72 Sustain – accelerating speed
75 3 minute rest – 40%
95 Sustain – accelerating speed
105 10 minute cool down – 40% 105 Tuesday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Sustain Sprints:
10 10 minute warm up – 30%
20 10 minute sustain
22 2 minute rest
25 1 minute standing 30 second rest (2x)
30 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off (5x)
50 20 minute sustain – 80%
60 10 minute cool down – 30% 60 Wednesday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body
Trail Ride:
Get to a local trail: Ride hard for a while 105 Saturday
Indoor Fun Ride:
Variation for 90 minutes 90 Sunday
Strength Training – Upper Body
Outdoor Lakeshore Ride:
Wherever; just at 75-80% effort for 120 minutes 120 Thursday
Strength Training – Lower Body
Strength Training – Upper Body