Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Old Year

Old year goes first: The 2008 year of racing is now officially in the books. Not all my racing and training went as planned, but in the end I learned a lot and I continued to improve my skillz and fitness. I found that I derive a great amount of pleasure from abandoning my car for days on end and transporting myself only by bicycle (when weather and daylight allows). I still really enjoyed racing and the training associated with it. I'm lucky to have such a great group of friends to ride, ski, and train with. Although I'm sure they question my sanity at times, I'm also really lucky to have a family that supports me in my crazy, mixed up world of endurance racing. So, the old year was a good year.

New year: I'm still hammering out the schedule, but I've got a pretty rough idea. Jan. - mid March: Train for and compete in 7 ski races. 4 shorter events and 3 marathons. Mid-March through mid June: Train/Race in preparation for the Mohican 100 on May 30th and the Lumberjack 100 on June 20th. Mid-June to end of Sept.: Train for Ore to Shore on Aug. 15th and the Crank the Shield 3-Day Stage Race Sept. 18-20. Oct. - end of year: Train specifically for cross country ski season: upper body work, running stairs, roller skiing, etc. Stay tuned as it all unfolds in the new year.

p.s. If the todd that comments here every once in a blue moon is indeed the infamous Retodd, shoot me your snail mail address. I'll be glad to send you a copy of It's Too Late To Stop Now. It is a great album. Where you been anyway?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Muzak

The ways in which I listen to and acquire music has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. First came the iPod, and it was like "Holy Crap, I can fit 1000 songs in this little digital box". Since my first iPod 10GB (which still works by the way as long as it's plugged in to a power source) I've dabbled with the iPod shuffle, my current 40GB goto iPod, and most recently the iPhone. Let's just say they've come a long way. Somewhere in there among the iPod evolution, satellite radio came into my life. I have it in my car and at work. I'll listen to all kinds of different stations; and if I hear something I like a few times, I'll either buy the one song or the whole gosh darn album at the iTunes superstore. While all these changes in the ways I listen to music have been going on my extensive CD collection (you remember CD's right) has been gathering dust. Yesterday I got a bunch of "new" music for free. I dug out a box of CD's from the back room at the store and picked out a few of my favorites. I downloaded them onto the computer and then onto my iPod and presto: music I hadn't listened to in so long it was like I was hearing it for the first time. I downloaded a couple of classic Stevie Ray Vaughn albums, a great two disc set from Traffic, and some old Van Morrison tunes as well. So if you're in the market for some "new" tunes, dust off your old plastic and fire up your iTunes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Morning

We had a brief scare with the weather this weekend. Saturday brought temps. in the low 50's and rain. Fortunately, we didn't loose too much snow, and the forecast is calling for cooler temps. and snow for the rest of the week. The real bummer was that while it was plenty warm enough for riding on saturday, winds in excess and of 40 mph and treacherous icy roads prevented me from getting out and keeping the streak alive. But today I will ski again. Hugh and I are going to meet up at Chestnut this afternoon for a little skate sufferfest. After a couple of unexpected days off it'll be nice to get the engine revved up again. My first ski race of the season is coming up on sunday, and conditions so far appear to be quite a bit better than last year. And that is all I have to say about that.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays

Hope everyone had a merry christmas. We did. I got up early and opened some nice presents in front of the fire with Sarah and the dogs. After yet another hour of snow removal, we headed over to Chestnut to do some cross country skiing. I had a skate lesson on monday, and I wanted to get some practice in before I forgot all the things Nick had taught me. I felt better, and my timing's coming along; but I gotta tell you, skate skiing is hard, hard work. I took a quick ice bath when we got home, and my legs are feeling better than expected today. After my immersion in cold water, we headed into town for christmas with the rest of the family. Good presents and good food. This morning I got fresh tracks in 5 inches of new snow........on my way into work. Boo. Well, if it's not raining when I get out this afternoon, I may yet be able to get some skiing in today. If not, I've got some wood all ready to be fired up in the sauna. If you've got something that needs to be done this year, you better get moving. 2009 is right around the corner. Take care, and drive safely.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Consumer Report

Back in the day, when I drove a pickup truck (F-150) and then an SUV (Trooper), I would include a full sized shovel in my winter emergency kit. My winter emergency kit also contains a tow strap, a couple of blankets, and some jumper cables. When I made the switch over to the wagon a couple of years ago, I needed a smaller shovel to haul around unobtrusively in the winter months. Enter the Life Link avalanche shovel. I chose this shovel for it's compactness and because I figured if it was good enough to dig people out of avalanches it was probably good enough to dig my dumb a** out of a snowbank.



So I bought the shovel three winters ago, and it has resided in it's handy three pieces in the wheel well above my spare tire ever since. At least it did until I got stuck on Middle Village Rd. last weekend. Boy was I glad to have this shovel on hand. The three pieces snapped together in a flash, and I was off and digging. I've got to tell you, for such a small and lightweight shovel the thing digs like a champ. The blade cut through the chunky, frozen snowbank like a hot knife through butter. So, if you're in the market for a small emergency shovel for your vehicle this winter, or if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where you may actually need an avalanche shovel, check this one out.



Anyway, that's it for this christmas eve. Hope you and yours have a very happy holiday. Take care and ski well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New Warm Up Routine



I decided to head out to the MVSC saturday afternoon for the first time this season for a little change of pace. For some reason I thought the road was just wide enough to pull off a U-turn where we normally park. It's not. So I spent the first twenty minutes of my workout shoveling out the front end of my car. Needless to say, by the time I strapped on the boots and boards, I was sufficiently warm. The skiing was pretty fast on saturday so I stuck to some of the tamer slopes for an hour or so before heading back to work. Sunday morning I met up with JT, Tim, and Matt around 10:30 back up at the MVSC. It was Matt's first ever time out with us, and he did a really good job. There were six inches of new snow on the ground, and the skiing had improved dramatically. I had planned on being out around an hour so that I could do a longer ski in the afternoon. However, the skiing was so incredible that we stayed for over three hours. I got home around 2:15, and I had just enough time to have lunch and almost finish snowblowing the driveway before it was time to get skiing again. We were going to a solstice party around the corner, so I had Sarah drop me off at the Tower and I skied down and over to Mary and Greg's house. I ended up with over four hours on the skis yesterday, and my legs are feeling it. This afternoon I've got a skate lesson down at Walloon Lake and my last yoga class before the holiday break. Tomorrow afternoon I think I'll treat myself to some lift served skiing out at the resort. Over and out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Am So Sorry

I should have forewarned you folks that you would find some nudity and stupidity on the website I wrote about the other day. I'm able to filter out his nonsense and enjoy the video clips of bike races and the political/social commentary. Apparently, others do not possess the same filtering ability. If you're offended by his postings, my suggestion would be to never visit his site again and forget that I ever mentioned it. Also, rest assured that this site will continue to be as wholesome and pure as the driven snow. Sorry about the mix up. Have a safe and happy weekend.

Snow Report

We've still got a ton of snow. It dawned on me yesterday that I hadn't been on a bike in the month of December. Combing back through the last couple of years of records I realized that unless I get outside on the bike in the next week or so (which is highly unlikely due to snow volume), this will be the first month in over two years that I haven't ridden a bike outside at least once. Who said we should be worried about global warming? I don't really miss the bike yet, and I'm sure that's directly related to how much fun I've been having on the skis. Below is a link to my workout yesterday for those who care to look at numbers and stuff. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Product Review

There are quite a few bike bloggers out there that do product reviews from time to time. By and large, they review products related to the world of cycling. Since it's winter here in the north, and since I don't think there are too many regular readers that are quite as interested in bike products as I am, my first product review will be of alcohol. Shocking I know. And get ready for this, it's a two parter.


To lead it off, I've chosen the Cabin Fever Brown Ale from the New Holland Brewing Company. I've been a fan of this brewery for a while now, but it was just recently that I had the chance to sample their brown ale. It was really good. I'm not normally a huge fan of the brown ale, but this one has something different about it. It took me a few bottles over the course of the past week or so to put my finger on it, but I think I've nailed down what set's this brown ale apart from others I've tried in the past. It has just a tinge of sweetness to it, that I thought was chocolate and malt. The label actually says that it's caramel. But it's note is so faint that I think it's hard to really tell. Anyway, if you can get it in your area, and you like beer give it a try. It should be about $9 a six pack + tax and deposit.

I've also chosen a really reasonably priced red wine from Spain that you may want to seek out if that's your cup of tea (or wine). From the Bodegas Castano Vineyard, have a look at the 2006 Monastrell. I took a few bottles downstate to Sarah's family over Thanksgiving, and it was very well received. After that I kind of forgot about it until the other day when JT brought it up while we were out skiing. He mentioned that he and Madge had been drinking it lately, and that they both thought it was a really great wine for $5.99. I took a bottle home a couple of nights ago to try it again, and I agree. For six bucks it's a really good bottle of wine. So many of the less expensive spanish reds lately have seemed a little light and fruity for my tastes, but this was a very pleasant departure from that trend. Instead this monastrell is full bodied and earthy. Check it out.



So that's a rap for my first round of product reviews. Depending on feedback and whether or not I have anything better to blather about, look for more of them in the future. Perhaps next week I'll review my brand new pair of Scarpa T2X downhill boots. Drive safely out there.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yogaskate

After getting my hair trimmed up this morning, I ambled down the street in Ptown for a session of yoga practice at The Northwoods Yoga Studio. What was on the menu for today's session? Backbends. How do backbends and I normally get along? Not all that well. Today we might have turned a corner in our relationship. It was still really hard for me raise my rather large frame up off the floor and into a U shape while lying on my back, but I felt like I was finally able to feel some of the positive things that are supposed to come out of the work. Mary, the guru, says that backbends are "a substitute for sunlight". They are supposed to enhance mental clarity, improve mood, and increase energy levels. They must have done something for me today because I summoned the energy for an hour of skate skiing on the freshly groomed trails out at Nub's Nob immediately following class and before heading into work. The groomer was just finishing up the golf course loops at Chestnut Valley when I got there, so I got fresh tracks on both the golf course loops and the superpipe loop. The skating was still really hard, but it was a little better than last time. I guess there must be something to this whole notion of practicing a skill to become better at it. Who knew? I'm planning on doing a long classic ski tomorrow before rewarding myself with some downhill, lift served action on thursday. Just to give you a heads up: I've added a new link off to the right. It's a blog entitled Drunk Cyclist. Despite all the possible negative connotations one might conjure up given the name of the site, it's really pretty great stuff. His postings run the gamut from anything bike related to current events with a strong slant to the left. He also posts links to news articles of riders being killed by cars from around the country. It's a bit depressing how often it happens (a couple of times a week on average), but at the same time it underscores what a problem this has really become. So if you're looking for another bike blog to check out (I know you are), give him a whirl. I find him to be quite entertaining and informative. Over and out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Report

I got out for some great backcountry skiing both saturday and sunday this weekend. Saturday the snow was perfect, and we skied for a little over two hours. Yesterday the snow was not perfect, but we still skied for a little over two hours. The temperature rose to a balmy 34 degrees saturday night so the snow (which was like airy sugar on saturday) resembled thick, lumpy mashed potatoes. Oddly enough, the skiing was still pretty good.



I took advantage of the wet snow and made some preparations for a bonfire this friday night. I built up some walls behind the benches around the fire pit in an effort to create a sort of shelter from the wind that generally blows up the driveway from the west. I didn't have anything else to do while I was waiting for the sauna to heat up anyway. And heat up it did. It was just a tad over 160 when I got in; and by the time I finished up, it was up to just over 180. That's definitely at the upper end of the spectrum in the world of saunaing. When the temperature is between 140 and 160, it's really nice and relaxing. You can sit quietly and ponder life's mysteries. Once it gets over 160, all you can think about is how hot it is. It makes for a quicker (but still enjoyable in some twisted way) sauna experience since you start sweating almost immediately upon entry. I don't generally get it that hot, but it's a nice change of pace every once in a while.





Anyway, now you know what I was up to this weekend. What were you up to?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Friday

I was listening to NPR in the shower this morning, and I heard a really interesting story about banking and mortgage loans in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. It was nice to hear about a small subset of the American population that actually manages their money and debt responsibly. If you're interested, you can check out the online article here. Otherwise, have a good weekend and enjoy the snow.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bailout Humor



So I know I shouldn't be joking about the whole American automobile industry debacle considering I live in Michigan and all, but the little tidbit above was just too funny to pass up. I just had to share with the class. Make sure to read the fine print at the bottom. In snow related news: I'm off to a great early start to the ski season. I got out for just over an hour today at Nub's Nob on the classic skis; and considering it was only my second time on the skinnies this season, I think things are looking pretty good. My technique is coming back a little faster than normal, and I was able to ski the hilliest loop without spending any time in the red zone. I'm enjoying the snow so much that I'm going to see how many days I can ski in a row starting today. Tomorrow, I think I'll head up to the tower for some backcountry action. I don't know where I'll be skiing the next day, but there are certainly no shortage of options. If there's snow where you are, I highly recommend that you get out and enjoy it. I do.

Friday, December 05, 2008

One and One

My sister had her second kid this morning. Now Niko has a baby sister, Stephania (Nia). Welcome to the team little one. Everybody have a good weekend, drive safely, and get out for some skiing. Over and out.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Finally

This summer a local resident, Fred Knoodle, was struck from behind and killed while riding his bicycle. While I didn't know him personally, the story hit close to home for two reasons: One, I spend a great deal of time riding my bikes on the roads around here. Two, a good friend/riding partner of ours (Benson) was struck from behind and almost killed in the summer of 2007. The woman who hit Benson never received so much as a ticket. I thought for sure that the killing this summer would be swept under the rug as well, but it looks like the tide may finally have turned. It now looks as though the person responsible for killing Fred Knoodle will actually be punished. Check out this article from the Petoskey News Review. I realize that the circumstances surrounding the crash certainly suggest that it was indeed an accident, but that doesn't change the fact that someone was killed. If you accidentally kill someone with a gun, there is a very good chance that you will be charged with negligent homicide. The same should be true if you accidentally strike and kill someone with your car. I'm glad to see that the sheriff's department and prosecuting attorney are finally going to defend our rights as cyclists by bringing charges of negligent homicide against the driver that struck and killed Mr. Knoodle this summer.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Yo Yo @ The Tower



Working the split shift today allowed me to get out for my first backcountry ski of the season this afternoon. Tim and JT went yesterday afternoon, but I was stuck doing two hours of snow removal around the HQ. They reported back last night that conditions were excellent, and they weren't kidding. It's hard to believe that it's only the second day of December. There's so much snow up there that you can practically ski wherever you please. I yoyoed up and down for over an hour before climbing out. It was one heck of a workout without any help breaking trail, but it was well worth it in the end. I made several nice runs in around of foot of fresh powder. You had to be a little careful; but if we get just a little more snow, everything should be wide open soon. It's also looking like this early snow will enable the resort to open up all 28 km of classic and skating trails on Friday. What a treat, to be able to enjoy all four of my ski disciplines in the first week of December. Hopefully everyone is enjoying the snow as much as I am. Until next time.




Disclaimer: I didn't really think anyone would follow my advice on the stair workout, but if you do for some reason Be Forewarned: It will probably make your legs hurt really, really bad. I'm okay once I'm up and moving, but getting out of bed the last few mornings has been an exercise in pain. At least today I was able to walk down the stairs normally.