Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yankee Springs History

Vintage 1990's Yankee Springs Photo:
(Damn I tried...)

I was emptying out our spare bedroom/office/gym last night and found all my old training logs and race results. I took a break from packing to review 12 years of files. I started racing in '95 but it didn't occur to me to save any records until I started doing something that closely resembled training in '97. I don't think it has taken anyone else in the history of mountain bike racing as long as me to crawl up from Sport to Expert. This is the problem with having no natural athletic ability. I'm not bitter. I have perseverance, and given a choice between the two, I would pick perseverance. I was surprised (as I am every time I look at my race results) by how little things have changed.

Yankee Springs is always Michigan's first real race of the season, a race that I have competed in almost every year for no particular reason; it just worked out that way. My results were:

1997 52:38 23rd out of 41 in Sport
1998 49:11 14th out of 43 in Sport
1999 54:34 24th out of 49 in Sport
2000 52:03 15th out of 30 in Sport
2001 52:53 9th out of 33 in Sport
2004 54:21 17th out of 45 in Sport
2005 54:45 9th out of 33 in Sport
2006 54:06 11th out of 33 in Sport
2007 53:48 14th out of 23 in Expert
2008 56:39 25th out of 29 in Expert
2009 1:49:37 22nd out of 39 in Expert (two laps that year)

I'm not positive but I think the course grows a little bit every few years.

This takes me to 2010. I didn't preregister for Yankee Springs this year. First, my results are predetermined (1:48, putting me near the middle of 40 - 49 Expert). Second, the girls have a dance competition that weekend.

Here is the obvious dilemma: what kind of dad would I be if I miss my daughters' dance competition for a bike race, especially a time trial in which I think I already know my time. If I post a race result on 4/18, there will be no need to guess.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I just finished a fast lap at Murray Lake. 35:06. No one understands better than me just how relative "fast" is but still, I am...encouraged. I am only about 1:30 off my best peak mid-season time and the trail is still soft and I just finished a very lack luster training block. I'm baffled. Must be the 200 grams my new bike saved.

I spent the morning moving things from our house to a storage unit. Nothing like moving, one by one, everything you own to cause you to reflect on life, your future, and how you accumulated so much shit. Before I would pack anything and drag it over to storage, I gave serious consideration to weather or not I could live without it. As it turns out, most of what I have I can live without.

The bike stuff will stay at the house until the day we move; I have little problem holding on to anything bike related. I reluctantly kept holiday decorations. Holidays will come around and this stuff will serve a purpose. Sort of. I considered furniture and house hold items we aren't currently using. I held on to these even more reluctantly than I did the holiday decorations. Finally there were photographs and things the girls made. These are the only things we own that I can't live without.

I recently filled out some paperwork that showed the value of all my assets. Funny, the only assets I can't live without have no apparent value.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Edamame Beans

Ummm....frozen edamame beans for lunch. Ummm...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Today was the first time this year I tried doing a fast lap at the Murray Lake trail. Early every season I do this same loop to see what toll the winter took. I did it in 35:27. I'm satisfied. Last summer I stopped training. And looking at what other racers are doing, I don't think I ever actually trained, I rode around with an inkling of purpose.

My previous early season times were:

35:31 in '09
38:54 in '08
37:57 in '07
36:23 in '06
36:28 in '05
37:03 in '04

I couldn't be happier with my new bike. It was very stable and floated over the rocks. I have a really good feeling about this relationship.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pretty Good Week

The spring-like weather this week caught me completely off guard, like finding a $100 bill hidden under the cushion of the couch. Allie and I spent Wednesday evening at Heritage Park while we waited for Em to finish dance. We explored and played tag and hide-n-go seek and other outdoor games. A very good time. Bill and I rode three nights this week, mainly on the dirt roads around the house.

I had no intention to ride the trails since it is still early and I know we're not suppose to ride on them until they are completely thawed. The Murray Lake trail runs along the dirt road we were on and Bill pointed out it was dry. We went to get a closer look; it was perfect so we rode the trail system for a bit.

Oh yeah, I got a new bike to go with my XTR pedals. Well, not exactly new but a used ’09 Tomac Type-X carbon fiber hardtail. And not just used but raced by the Kenda/Tomac pro team for a season, which works out to about 7 seasons in human years. Its brutal past doesn’t discourage me in the least, I can see past all that. It is an amazing bike, much nicer than I deserve. 2.4 lb. high modulus carbon fiber frame, XTR components, 1298 gram Manitou R7 Carbon fork, 1340 gram Sun-Ringle Black Flag disc wheel set, Hayes Gram disc brakes...just thinking about it is making the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

In previous posts I quietly complained about my ghetto bike, as if somehow it was the reason for my mediocre results. I know it wasn't but I didn't want to take responsibility for myself. My new bike is so incredible, such a high-end bike that I have no excuses. Period. But, it only has 26" wheels, I mean, if it were a 29er I am sure I could post some pretty impressive results.

After Bill bought his 29er earlier this winter, he parted out his XTC to sell off the parts individually. He text’d me and said it was like killing his friend. I responded that the 29er was a better bike and basically to just get over it. I think I somehow likened it to reincarnation but I tend to get philosophical and ambiguous about everything; I don't even know what I am talking about half the time. I can’t seem to bring myself to part out my ghetto bike, it's like killing a friend. Despite my tendency to favor the left side of my brain, I constantly disregard my rational decisions in favor of emotional ones. This bites me in the ass quite often actually.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Thank you Congress for passing the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Day Light Savings), a policy enacted apparently so people can ride after work. This is my favorite holiday by far. No other one even comes close.

Yesterday was a rare occasion where both Cindy and I were available to meet with an accountant to finish our taxes. But the sun was shining and the roads were dry and Congress gave me an extra hour to ride. This is nothing to sneeze at.

Riding outside after spending a winter on a trainer creates the illusion of going really fast. I picked a route that would take Bill and me by a hardware store. I needed some things to get the house ready to sell. I am seriously going to miss our house but it’s time to move on.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mending a Broken Heart Rate Monitor

Every year on my birthday I do a century; I suppose to help me stay in denial that I am getting older. My birthday came and went and today was the first time this month I had a 7 hr block of time to ride. It's raining and I am just not that hardcore to ride 100 miles in a cold rain.

I got up early and decided to go to a spin class before the girls woke up. I noticed my heart rate monitor died, taking with it a month of data. Before spin class I tried making one good HRM out of three broken ones. No luck. I have been using a Polar 720i HRM for 6 years. I'm on my fourth one. I keep getting the same model because I want to keep the same data base; there is something satisfying with graphing 6 years of data. Polar stopped making this monitor a few years ago. I checked ebay. No 720i HRMs. I think I had the last working 720i.

I went to spin class without my heart rate monitor. I rode hard but couldn't verify this by looking at my heart rate. And I won't have any data to save and graph. Frustrating. I need my HRM to validate my effort. I need constant validation. Quirk number 164 if anyone is counting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Losing Weight Part 4, or 5, I’m losing count

Here I go, obsessing over my weight again. I better choose my words carefully or I might come across as neurotic as I actually am. Between a hectic schedule and wasting a few opportunities, I haven’t spent much time at all on my bike this month. I have read enough blogs to know I am the only kid on the block who isn’t riding. The one thing I can control off the bike is my weight. I have struggled with my weight for years. Last night Allie and I went out for ice cream (and to look at cakes for no particular reason) while we waited for Em to finish dance practice. I didn’t get any for myself but I swear it is easier to do intervals than bypass ice cream.

I got a cup of coffee at work this morning and saw someone brought in Rice Krispie Treats. Nice. And the person in the office next to mine brought in cup cakes. Are you even kidding me? If I touched either I would have enough guilt to start my own religion.

I will have a couple hours to myself this afternoon before I return my dad’s car. It is suppose to be beautiful today. I figured out the electrical issue with his Mercury. I can either spend 2 hrs fixing it or I can ride outside. Either way I will be consumed with guilt.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Getting Over Flawed Relationships

Me and my beautiful 1968 Mercury Cyclone back in high school:

I like cars, much in the same way as I like bicycles. They are so much more than just an assembly of parts. They develop personality. I never owned a really nice car (or bike) but this hasn’t discouraged me in the least, my cars have a certain charm and I don’t care if it is undetectable to anyone else. Selling them always feels like breaking up with a girlfriend, a girl whom you didn’t love but one you cared for deeply and the thought of them being with someone else hurts just a little.

The possible exception was my last truck, a 2002 Chevy Tracker. We never developed a strong relationship. On paper it was a good truck: inexpensive, went through snow great, and I could fit both of my bikes in back. But it had no charm: it was noisy, handled like a box of rocks, and it was so ugly I felt like a dork driving it. I treated it as well as any other vehicle I owned, changing the oil myself because they don’t fill up the filter with oil before installing it at those quick lube places and I respect my cars more than that. How did my Tracker thank me? The bitch spun a bearing and left me stranded. I sold it last weekend. Selling it felt like a divorce. Have a nice life and don’t let the door hit you on your way out. No, really, I’m not bitter.

I just got a Chevy Equinox. It's not exactly charming but it is reliable, and maybe that's more important.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

XTR Birthday

Cindy got me a beautiful set of XTR pedals for my birthday. Things have been a little...tense between us this year. I have this uneasy feeling whenever we are together that she is going to take a baseball bat to my head so the pedals were a nice surprise. I am not really a new XTR kind of person, I am more of a very used off ebay vintage XT person. It was nice getting parts that didn't need to be re-built, re-packed, and re-engineered. I saved another 25 grams.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Favorite Blogs

Emilie has dance practice tonight, Allison doesn't. Allie and I alternate between Starbucks and Jungle Java on Wednesday nights while we wait for Em. As I was signing in at Jungle Java, Allie saw a friend and suggested I get my computer from the truck. This was her sweet way of saying she would rather play with her friend. I spend a lot of time drinking coffee and waiting.

I cannot think of anything to post tonight so I decided to add a gadget that lists my favorite blogs. I have been reading blogs for about a year now and still feel a little creepy reading other people's blogs, like riding a bike at night and looking into the lit up picture windows of houses as you pass. I am going to take this one step further and comment on my favorite blogs. I don't even know if this is socially appropriate but I really do follow some cool blogs so I thought I would share. I suspect that most of these authors don't read my blog; I don't take it personally.

Morocity was the first blog I ever read. I started mine right after reading it. Di does a good job using pictures and crossing t's and dotting i's. She is a motivated girl.

CBGD is an insightful blog. Bob is living with this very sad, degenerative disease and his observations about losing the ability to do things we all take for granted causes me to whine much less than I normally would.

I like The Loneliness of a Part Time Runner because the author lives in Whales and, other than his use of some verbiage, he seems like a typical American endurance athlete. He is thinking about doing some crazy ass 60 mile running race through mountains this summer.

Surly Girl and MTB Vegan race bikes but they also seem to have such a good time with the social part of bicycling. creATE and athlEAT focus on cooking healthy. Even though I don't really cook, I do like to read about it. Podium Quest and Living the Dream are expert racers that I don't really know but I have probably seen at local races. They each have a killer bike collection.

Trainin' on a Prayer and Adventures and Excursions both live in Indiana and I believe they ride together. They are so young and so gosh darn chipper. I wish I took cycling as serious as they do when I was their age. Damn I would be fast.

The Sometimes Almost Fictional Life of Penny just cracks me up. She is a real writer from Ann Arbor. Lauren is a real writer too. You can just tell.

Danielle Musto, Dirty Picasso Ride, and BG Phone Home are the three best blogs in Michigan. They are all from the Grand Rapids area. Must be something in the water there. Single Track Chronicles is from the West side too, he is a regular guy, very refreshing.

Crossy...very cool.

Mary Sunshine...very motivated.

Breaking on the Wheel, one of my favorites. Matt works very hard to train without taking time away from his kids. And all his pictures are incredible because he lives in Colorado and you can't take a bad picture in Colorado.

Coyote Rolling. Wow. Smart and dark. Sometimes smart and really funny. Never know what you will get when you click on this blog.

And those are my nominations for blog of the year. Thank you.