Monday, August 31, 2009


I wore a long sleeve jersey on my ride Saturday, and saw a tree whose leaves had changed from green to red. These seemingly insignificant acts are my acknowledgement that summer really is over. I had higher aspirations for this summer but it is what it is; 43 years of harsh winters have left me perfectly suited to deal with a cold reality.

Next weekend Cin and I and two (maybe four) other couples are going to Traverse City for a long weekend to pre-ride the Iceman course. I just noticed there is a bicycle festival in the area and the inaugural 28 mile bicycle race from Hartwick Pines to Hanson Hills. I like riding at both of these trails and a point to point race through them seems worth doing, very iceman-like. What is even cooler than the pig roast they are having afterwards is the fact that there are only three classes: slow, medium, and fast. A personal pet peeve I have is that races have been broken up into so many classes that just finishing often guarantees a metal. Everyone comes away from the race thinking they are above average. I embrace being average, smack dap in the meaty part of the normal distribution curve, maybe just one standard deviation to the right of mean.

Since I have children, most the movies I watch are Disney Cartoons. My favorite is The Incredibles. After a series of lawsuits against superheroes, the Incredibles are forced to live normal lives among normal people. Over dinner Mrs. Incredible complains that Mr. Incredible isn’t going to their son’s graduation. In frustration Mr. Incredible says, in increasing temper: “he isn’t graduating, he is moving from the 4th grade to the 5th grade. They keep coming up with ways to celebrate mediocrity.” Brilliant. Mrs. Incredible interrupts: “you know what would happen if we let Dash [their super fast son] do sports!” They leave it up to the audience’s imagination. I imagine if Dash did the time trial at Ft. Custer last week, he would have won his class by 10 minutes, and on a single speed in a geared class no less, making everyone in that class feel below average. Maybe I’m just jealous, I’m not even sure.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Maybury TT

Very few things get me worked up; that's just my personality.

We will be driving somewhere and will get cut off.

Cindy is in the seat next to me, arms flailing in the air: "He cut us off!"

I'm wondering what I will have for dinner.


Me, in a tone so calm it makes Gandhi seem all rilled up: "He drives a Chrysler K-Car; perhaps life has dealt him enough blows?"

Cindy isn't satisfied with my logic. I am.

This attitude carries over to racing. I enjoy racing. I really want to do well but I understand where I fit in the group of racers. Racing is a test, not much more. This pacifist attitude goes a long way towards explaining my so so results.

I wasn't planning on racing again until the Iceman in November, and really, that isn't a race, it is an excuse for me and Cindy and our little group of friends to rent a cluster of cottages on Skegemog Lake, eat and drink a lot, go to the Turtle Creek Casino, and in between all that, do this over hyped race on sandy two-tracks between Kalkaska and Traverse City.

I noticed there was a race at Maybury today. I didn't have anything going on and I was curious how much damage I have done to my fitness lately. I am not a huge fan of Maybury, and I was completely unprepared for it, but everything in my wonderfully predictable, well laid out world seems to have come slightly unglued this summer and I just wanted to ride hard. I was a little angry for no good reason. A 45 minute all out effort seemed a good way to vent. My anger is so subtle that the only outward sign of it was a rather dark, cynical music selection on my Ipod.

Usually I pass racers like this:

Me: "Sweet Hugi hubs!"
Ricky Racer: "huff puff thanx huff puff..."
Me: "Hey, I'm going to pass you right here, Okay?"
Ricky Racer: "huff puff k huff puff..."
Me: "All right then, have a great race."
Ricky Racer: "huff puff uh hu huff puff..."

Right, that wasn't my attitude today. I passed people and didn't complement their hubs. Yes, I was just that angry.

I am normally (well, up until this year) meticulously prepared on race day but today I accidentally left my CamelBak at home and I got to Maybury late. They let me sign up after registration closed but I had to run up to the starting line and put my plate on as the timer was counting down. That was my only warm up.

It was a time trial so while I was racing I wasn't sure how I was doing. My heart rate monitor died so I didn't even have that to give me a clue. The course was very slick from the rain last night; the amount of speed I should carry into the corners was a judgement call.

I finished 2nd out of 12 in Sport Single Speed. I dropped down to Sport SS this spring but still, that a good result for me. I felt better after the race.

When I got home, my garage door, for no logical reason, started working again just as it stopped working, for no logical reason, back in June. Sometimes shit just doesn't make sense. This is an ideology I can live with.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Simplifying Stuff

I am trying to simplify my life, which mainly means getting rid of stuff. It is amazing how much stuff one can accumulate. Bicycles, kids' toys, clothes...just stuff. I have mixed feelings every time I get rid of something because I got it for a reason and the reason is usually still there after the stuff goes. Today I got rid of the dogs. Selling the tandem was hard; giving the dogs away was brutal.

I sold my tandem a month ago to a couple, Tom and....his wife (as usual, I am so socially inept I didn't bother to ask her name). When they came to look at my bike, they spent more time looking at my dogs than at my tandem. They had a Miniature Schnauzer too and asked all sorts of questions about the breeder and my dogs' temperament and other Schnauzer related things I couldn't answer. I am not into dogs. My daughters wanted them so I bought them. Period.

Yesterday my wife and I agreed it was time to get rid of Sally and Daisy, a big step towards disentangling our lives. I sent an email to Tom and asked if he would like them. It just so happens his 15 year old Miniature Schnauzer died this month and he and his wife were discussing getting another one.

I did research Schnauzers before I bought Sally last year, then Daisy this spring. I mean, I am an Engineer with an eye for detail. Miniature Schnauzers were originally bread in Germany to catch rats. How in the world could this bit of trivia help me? My research should have uncovered the fact that they bark non-stop when your neighbor goes out to have a cigarette. That would have been something worth knowing. Or that when your wife and kids are in Florida and you want to go to Yankee Springs for a long weekend to train for a time trial, you will need to find a cabin that allows dogs, and then if you leave your dog in the Yankee Springs parking lot, the DNR officer will give you a ticket for leaving it unattended. That would have been good information. Or if you want to ride with friends after work, you first need to go home and let the dogs out or else the dogs will pee in the kitchen. This is all valuable insight that I believe until now has not been available on the Internet.

Tom and his wife just left. They want the dogs but they are going on a tandem tour near Niagara Falls and asked if they could pick up Sally and Daisy at the end of the month. I am sitting here incredibly jealous of this couple I barley know because they have my tandem and my dogs. Sometimes shit just doesn't make sense.

Emilie left Tom and his wife a note. I wish I had her clarity.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I was suppose to ride with Nick at the Novi Tree Farm today but, even though there wasn't a dark cloud in the sky, it poured on the way there. The rain seemed a little hit or miss. I am not hard core enough to ride when there is a good chance of rain.

Saturday I tested myself on the trail by my house. I haven't timed myself in a while and I was a little concerned with what I would find. I haven't been training but more importantly, I've had trouble focusing and forcing myself to ride hard. I did three laps of the Murry Lake trail: 35:50@166 BPM, 35:49 @167 BPM, and a cool down lap at 39:31@ 159 BPM.

Compared to March, I had to ride harder to do an almost identical ET. But I was able to push myself, and it was a fast lap. I did a group ride on this trail in July and it took me about 42 minutes. If I consider the reroutes they recently added, 35:49 was my fastest time since 2006. I used a small 11/23 road cassette and never needed to drop out of the big chainring.

I completely understand how relative "fast" is, and this blog really has about as much to do with bicycling as the book Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance has to do with motorcycles, but I am comfortable with where I am at.

It would have been kind of cool to place in an Expert race though.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guilt Free Riding


Cindy took Allie to meet up with Emilie in Travers City for the first of a few trips they will be on for the rest of August. I will only see them when they stop by to wash clothes, repack, and take off again. I miss the girls like crazy but I can ride guilt free for the rest of the month.

Normally I do a group ride on Thursdays. Last week was the annual Poto no-drop ride, just a social ride with a BBQ afterwards. I wasn’t feeling particularly social so I skipped it. The previous Thursday I got dropped. Embarrassing. My head just wasn’t into riding. I would notice where on the trail I was and wondered how I got there, like I had no memory of the previous 10 minutes. I have been in some weird funk since the middle of July but I am getting comfortable with reality again.

I planned on doing the group ride today but as I was leaving for work Denny texted me and asked if I wanted to do Pontiac Lake. (In my best Eric Cartman voice...hell yes). He is racing there Saturday and wanted me to pace him for a sub 50 minute loop. I grabbed my riding stuff, threw it into the truck, and went to work, 15 minutes late.

Denny and I have been friends since we were kids. We meet up about once a month to ride and get caught up on the stuff that has been going on. We usually start off riding hard but get laughing or deep into a conversation and ride so slow ladies on hybrids pass us. We talked and laughed today but at 170 BPM. It took us 52 minutes to do Pontiac. Clearly I am not in race shape. I will get focused and finish the Iceman in under 2 hrs (the faintest of goals); I just need to smarten up and fly right.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Switching Gears

I am starting to think about the Iceman so as soon as Allie and I got home from church I replaced the rigid fork on my Felt with my freshly painted SID and went for a hard ride. I thought about selling my Inglis single speed. It is a wonderful bike but really, my infatuation with single speeds just doesn't make sense anymore.

I took my hands off the Felt's bars to stretch and immediately careened into the brush on the side of the trail. Strange. I tried it again and caught myself as I started to careen into the brush on the other side of the trail. I was baffled. I examined my bike to see why it handled so squirrely; everything looked fine. When I got home I compared the pretty old SID on my Inglis to the very old SID on my Felt. The older SID has a different crown, effectively giving my Felt a silly steep head angel. That’s it, I am swapping forks, selling the Inglis, chalking it up as another failed relationship, and moving on.


I didn’t realize my wife reads my blog. She asked why I never blog about her. Uh...This wasn’t supposed to be that kind of blog, its only reason to exist was to document my amazing rise up through the Expert ranks of mountain bike racing. I can’t even type that with a straight face anymore. I have had a great summer riding but haven’t trained since Fort Custer.

Actually I don’t see Cindy that much. We work different shifts and have different friends and different hobbies. It’s not like I don’t know what is going on in her life, I mean, she did add me as a friend on Facebook, and sometimes we go out with other couples. Saturday we saw Tori Amos. It was a great concert and we had a great time together. Cindy has a winsome charm that makes even ordinary things fun. She is very different than me. During the concert I pointed out things I thought were interesting, like in the song “Who’s Your Daddy?” (a song that takes a critical look at the Bush dynasty), Tory substituted the words from that “Ohio” song from Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young into one of the verses.

Cindy responds: “is she straight, is she married, does she have kids?”
Me: “I don’t know that kind of stuff.”
Cindy: “You know…‘Us Weekly’ voted her the worse dressed singer.”
Me: (blank look).
Cindy: “They say she looks like a cheese Dorito.”

After the concert we hung out in Down Town Detroit and came across Tori’s tour bus. Cindy wanted to wait there and meet her. We saw the other band members pile into the bus but security shewed us away before Tori walked to the bus. It was kind of exciting, not the thing I would normally do.

When Cindy and I met 20 years ago, I was fresh out of U of M and working at Cadillac, she was a flight attendant. She has always been fun and outgoing. One night she called from some city in some state and explained she met several GM VPs on the flight. She asked them if they knew me. They didn't but gave her some GM trinkets and one of them told her to call him when she got back to Detroit and he would give her an Allante to drive for the week. The Allante was the Cadillac flagship back in 1988, which goes a long way to explain why GM has since gone bankrupt. I told Cindy not to call, he couldn’t be serious, he was just hitting on her (guys hitting on her is a trend that continues to this very day). His secretary called me a week later and said Cindy’s Allante was ready. Cindy and I cruised around in an Allante for a week. Cindy often says where she goes, fun follows. That is hard to argue.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Emilie is spending the week in Traverse City with the teacher she had back in first and second grade. I never ever had a teacher invite me on their family vacation but Emilie is special; she is sweet and social and everyone loves her. And her teacher is very cool, she races mountain bikes to boot.

This leaves me and Allie. I dig Allie. She is her own person. I try to spend one night a week with just her. I look at her and ask what she would like to do. It is always an adventure. Last week she wanted to pet a goat. I found a place in Brighton that had goats so I asked if we could pet them. The owner, perplexed, said sure. And we did. Previously I blogged about how she likes to go to Border Books sometimes, not to read but to make fun of books and the people reading them. Yesterday we went out for ice cream as we often do but where Emilie would sit down and carefully eat her ice cream, not spilling a drop, Allie likes to go on a tire swing near the ice cream shop and try to take licks as she spins around. Uh...okay. While we were walking back to the truck we watched people setting up down town Brighton for an art fair. We talked to someone setting up the "Brighton Artist Club" display. They have about 250 members. With all the conviction of a Jehovah Witness, he tried to talk me into joining, which is very strange as I have no artistic ability what so ever. As we continued towards the truck, Allie said "you know you could join and just not tell anyone."

Allie has amazing perception. She knows I secretly have a thing for artists even though I am way to left brained to admit it. I was an artist, like all kids are, but as you get older you start coloring within the lines and it isn't fun anymore. Allie hasn't reached that stage. The lines in a coloring book are nothing more than suggestions to her. Her skies are purple and the sun is blue. She is way to clever to see things the way they really are.

I drove past the art fair this morning, just to see. It was raining so I didn't bother to get out of the truck. I'm sure there will be an art fair next year and the weather will be better.