Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Iceman

I just got back from Traverse City where I did my 14th Iceman. 2:32. 10 minutes slower than my previous slowest time, 38 minutes off my best time, but the course was a few miles longer and I was only 3 minutes slower than I predicted. My bike worked flawlessly and I chose my clothes and food perfectly. I had a good time with friends. I will chalk this up as a good race.

Denny and Barb broke the derailleur on their tandem and had to walk the last few miles. I met them at Sue's car after the race to give them their dry clothes. They looked like they were on the verge of hypothermia, but still positive and smiling. It is a crazy race, cold and sloppy, yet I can't wait until next year.

Maybe I don't try hard enough. I saw a grown man have a total meltdown because his chain broke. He swore, threw his helmet at his bike, and paced around as if this were a tragedy too great for words. Just a broken chain. A minor issue that that should set him back maybe 2 minutes. He was my age and in my group. He wasn't going to place. Ever. I always consider the possibility that I am looking at things wrong. I would have shrugged off a broken chain with little more than a sigh but maybe I need more passion. Maybe, but I'm pretty sure that guy was just a dickhead.

Denny said our mutual friend Steve was doing the race. I haven't seen Steve since we rented a house together after college. This is the only picture I have of him; we were visiting Mike who was going to school in Toronto. Steve is on my far right, Denny on my left. Denny told me Steve's daughter was racing the Iceman too. I briefly though this was impossible, Steve was only 21, but then I realized that was 25 years ago. He was a football star in high school. He made girls swoon. It took him just over 3 hours to do the Iceman. Life is okay.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Single Speed World Championship

Today was the Ninth Annual Single Speed World Championship. I'm not sure how official it is, I mean, it isn't sanctioned by anyone, there is no sign in, no waver, no emergency contact or ambulance on standby. The trail isn't marked, there is neither registration nor registration fees, and no official results. In previous years, racers were given tiles that they stacked as they crossed the finish line; the order of tiles showed the race results. The DNR made us do away with this system because keeping track of results made the Single Speed World Championship look like a race and the DRN hasn't authorized a race.
They didn't have awards, exactly, but they gave away pint glasses to the first 48 finishers. There were about a hundred racers and free beer so there was a lot of incentive to finish above the median. Finishing above the median is always my goal and the pint glass just added to my resolve. This very well may be the best race ever.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Want it Wednesday: Garmin Edge 800

This week's Want it Wednesday is the Garmin Edge 800. I need this computer. Kevin loaned me his to help me pre-ride the Iceman last weekend. The Iceman is a point to point race made up of a network of seasonal roads and single track. Although I’ve done this race every year but once since 1997, it is difficult to follow before it’s marked. Kevin only had the first half of the course loaded on his Garmin so I took it to work to try and load the second half. Sean, a co-worker who rides, looked at the Garmin and said he must get one. I pointed out he already had a Garmin Edge 800. Sean said he had the older version; Kevin's is thinner and had carbon fiber trim. It amazes me how we as riders can’t imagine living without something once we realize it exists.

The Garmin Edge 800 does everything a good bicycle computer does (measures heart rate, cadence, speed, etc.) but it is also a GPS that does all sorts of amazing stuff, like lays a map of your ride over images from Google Earth. I am technologically inept so I don’t care about all that. I must have this Garmin because it records ride information so you can then race against stored data. Last weekend I was racing against a virtual Kevin. One arrow represented me and the arrow a mile or so down the trail represented Kevin, like a video game. The course is highlighted on the screen which accurately tells you where to turn. This was helpful on a course like the Iceman where you go from one trail to another for 27 miles. Kevin virtually kicked my ass. He will realize this when I return his Garmin. I have a few days to come up with an excuse. Lately I have been blaming my wheel circumference but Kevin is the other guy in Michigan still using a 26er. If I was thinking, I would have secretly strapped the Garmin to the bars of my vintage 2-stroke Yamaha and did the entire course in under an hour just to give him something to struggle with.

The ride was excellent. A bus makes a few trips every weekend between the finish line at Timber Ridge and the starting area at the Kalkaska High School. This saved Sue and me the bother of leaving a car in Traverse City and driving another one 25 miles to Kalkaska, or riding the course both ways. I wasn’t able to figure out how to load the second half of the course onto the Garmin, which was fine since the first section is the most complicated part. It took the stress away from trying to pick out which trail to go on. Before Kevin offered me his Garmin, I figured I would follow tire tracks but that would have been a poor plan; tire tracks went this way and that way, an indication that the people who have been pre-riding the course were as lost as I would have been. The GPS couldn't help me after Williams Lake Road but all I had to do from there was stay on the VASA cross country ski trail (which is well marked) and look for the large white sign for Timer Ridge, which I missed, highlighting how helpful the Garmin is when you are riding one trail but your mind is someplace else.

The course was crazy sandy in spots but it was beautiful. I was just over an hour off my worse time but that wasn’t really the point of the ride. I rode for the pure enjoyment of riding. The Garmin helped.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I had a good ride tonight. I like riding in the fall but I spend too much time considering winter this time of year. Winter is useless when your only hobby is riding. I secretly considered racing cyclo-cross this season but I'm not where I want to be right now and my goals have evolved to just getting through Iceman without embarrassing myself.

A problem with riding in autumn is how quickly it gets dark. If nothing goes wrong, I can feed my daughters, get them off to dance, and squeeze in an hour ride before night. Although Em and Allie would have preferred Chicken Tenders from McDonald's, I cooked. I browned chicken in a skillet, added scallions, fresh grated ginger, soy sauce, and mirin. I served it over Soba noodles tossed with a little organic peanut butter and rice vinegar. The girls liked it but didn't appreciate it. I didn't expect them to appreciate it so my expectations were perfectly aligned with reality and everything was in sync. I got them to dance and took off on my ride.

I flatted 10 miles from home. It only took a few minutes to repair but it didn't fit neatly into my schedule. I used my only spare tube and CO2 cartridge. I get a little uneasy when I have to finish a ride without a spare.

It was getting dark when I got back into town. I wasted spring; I would have done things different if I had another chance. I squandered summer; I didn't realize this at the time but it was over while I was busy doing other things and when I poked my head outside it was autumn. Winter is still a ways away. I think I will slow down and enjoy where I am at now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

California Part V, or VI, or VII, or Something

I am getting old. I know this to be true because my youngest daughter just moved up to a 26 inch wheeled bike. Allie picked it out for the most part. Pink is her favorite color and we looked at pink bikes but she said she didn't want a bike that looked like it was right out of a box (her words, not mine). Allie wanted a white bike so we could customize it with pink cable housings, grips, and water bottle cages. Words can't adequately express how proud I am.

Shortly after we assembled the bike I went to California for work, again. San Francisco is beautiful and the weather is perfect and the food is amazing and everyone is fit and rides carbon-fiber Cervelos with full SRAM Red but I have been to California enough times that I shrug these things off with luke-warm indifference.

San Francisco still made me self-conscious over my lack of fashion sense, and I had just relayed that thought to a friend back home when I saw three men in assless leather chaps. Suddenly I didn't care I wasn't on the cutting edge of West Coast style. I like California. I'm concerned it could be devastated by an earthquake. I'm much more concerned that Iceman is five weeks away and I am not ready.

This was my first business trip where I didn't rent a bike to take advantage of riding opportunities; the logistics seemed a bit much. I did a few uninspired rides on a stationary bike in the Hyatt's workout area. I'm afraid my change in attitude is just another atrocity of getting old.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Road Trip

I mentioned before how Allie likes baking and adores Buddy the Cake Boss. After my trip to Nashville with Em, I told Allie that we, just her and I, would take a vacation this summer, anywhere she wanted. Anywhere.  She decided she wanted to take a cup cake decorating class at Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken NJ.

Me: “Hum, that is a clever idea Allie-Bear. You realize this is a 1200 mile trip?”

Allie: “Yes.”

Me: “That is over 20 hours of driving ya know.”

Allie: “You said anywhere.”

Me: “They call New Jersey the Garden State but in reality it is a cesspool of …”

Allie: “Dad!”

Tuesday night after work we drove straight through to New Jersey and right to her class.

When I made the reservations for the class, I had asked if there was any chance Allie might meet Buddy. They said it was possible but unlikely. Buddy showed up just as we were leaving. Allie was ecstatic
Wednesday night after Allie’s class we drove straight through to Michigan.

I dropped Allie off at home then went right to a meeting this morning.

I haven’t really slept in 60 hours. New Jersey was a pretty long drive for a cup cake decorating class. Allie and I talked a lot along the way. Best vacation ever.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Brighton Cross Country Race

Last year I stopped doing any real training. I had poor race results and whined as if somehow it wasn't my fault. Then I rode even less over the winter, raced at Mud, Sweet, and Beers in the spring and got clobbered. I decided I was through with racing.

Last weekend some friends needed me to complete a relay team for them. I warned them I wasn't in race shape. I suppose they thought I meant that in an "aw shucks", humble kind of way. No, I was serious. After the relay I thought to myself I am never ever racing again no matter what. Period. I mean it this time.

Monday I took Allie to one of her friends in Brighton. I brought my bike to ride Murray Lake while I was there. I use to live by the trail and rode it often before I moved to the ghetto, er, I mean Canton. I ran into someone on the trail who explained he was pre-riding the course for a race that was coming up. I had no idea they were racing at Brighton. I did the trail in just over 35 minutes. This was a good lap time for me.

I got second place in Sport Single Speed at the Brighton cross country race yesterday. It was a small field but still, this is a huge result for me. Later this month is the Maybury Time Trial. I am looking foward to this race. I can't seem to stop racing. I suppose as far as addictions go, racing isn't a horrible one to have.