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!


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.

2012 Race Schedule

Registration for many of the 2012 bike events are starting to open up now that we’re into February. While registration for the Yankee Springs Time Trial and the Barry Roubaix opened at the tail end of last year, many of the race dates were released in January once various race coordinators were able to meet and decide which weekends to hold their races and if any tweaks had to be made to their events.

It’s great to be able to start registering for these races as winter training can begin to lose steam quickly whether you’re in the warmth of your basement on a trainer or battling the cold of winter outside. Registering for races gives me a boost of energy in my training and reminds me that each ride is helping me achieve my goals. I try not to beat myself up for not riding one day or another because it is winter, but each year I have been more and more consistent in getting in my rides. I made the greatest stride yet, last year.

This year will be my first year riding on a team (Cross Country Cycles) and I’m looking forward to it. I am also planning to nearly triple the number of races that I rode last year to compete in the Michigan Mountain Biking Association’s (MMBA) Championship Points Series (CPS). The CPS includes 10 different races this year, of which you need to race in 5 in order to qualify for year-end awards. The scoring works by accumulating points based on your finish within your division at each race. Accumulate the most points in your division over the race season and you win the series.

There are a couple of different race series’ (leagues) that you can participate in throughout the state. The CPS is one, Tailwind Racing is another. The Tailwind series is made up of 7 races (including one 2-day stage race) which are all organized by one group. The CPS series races are all organized by different groups (like Fun Promotions) but coordinate with the CPS to manage finish results for point accumulation. Both race series’ include races across the state, however, the CPS has 4 of its six races within an hour’s drive of Grand Rapids while Tailwind’s races are almost all more an hour from Grand Rapids (east and north). Peppered into the schedules are also MiSCA (Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association) events for middle and high school riders.

Race attendance varies by event, but one race to keep an eye on is the Barry Roubaix. This is the 4th year for the race and they had to cap registration at 1,500 in order to manage it well. It’s already sold out. This race in particular has broad appeal because it is open to mountain bikers and cycle cross riders. In fact, this year the race will qualify for the Ultimate CX Series. I also think this race has appeal because it is one of the first outdoor races giving all of us bike riders an opportunity to get out and see how well we did on our trainers over the winter. Because it is so early in the season, there aren’t a lot of other races in the Midwest to compete with, either.

If you’re going to ride in some of these races, check out their websites (or Facebook pages) for registration info and then make sure you find out how quickly spots are taken to make sure you don’t miss out. The perfect example is Iceman where if you don’t register in the first few hours you’ll be stuck begging for a transfer in August.

Ultimate Cycling Challenge – Indoor cycling fundraiser for Livestrong (non-competitive)

Barry Roubaix – March 24th

Yankee Springs Time Trial – April 22nd (CPS)

Fort Custer Stampede – May 6 (CPS)

Fat & Skinny Tire Festival (Tentative)

State Games of Michigan at Cannonsburg Ski Area – June 23 (CPS)

Sweat Shaker – June 30th (CPS alternate for me)

Boyne Challenge Marathon – July 14 (CPS)

Holland Hundred – July 21

Ore to Shore – August 11

Pando Challenge – September 23 (CPS)

Iceman Cometh Challenge – November 3

Link to more Michigan Mountain Bike Races: