Wednesday, September 30, 2009

French Racing Report # 2

Here's another (and last for this season) report of Hugh's road racing exploits from across the pond. Enjoy.

Well the road racing season officially ended yesterday.

Saturday a week ago was a 14 km two person time trial. I did not have a partner so one of the faster cat 3 riders did double duty and rode earlier with another person and then with me. God, I hate time trials. This was a full on heart attack but we ended up slightly over 24 mph. I am sure that if it was me alone, it would have been closer to 22 with luck. The course was rolling with no big hills but it did go through a fairly major town here and the roads were not closed. Strange combination of bureaucracy and disregard for obvious safety concerns. Did I mention, I hate time trials.

Yesterday (Sunday was the last race of the calendar). This was not a circuit race like the others but a large 80 km loop more like the road races in the States. This had 4 major hills. I did have a chance to pre-ride the course the week before so I knew the route which turned out to be very helpful.
There were around 35 cat 3’s with a lot of the local clubs being represented by multiple members. I was the only cat 3 rider from our club. I figured there might be a break on the second hill (which I had ridden many times) so I positioned myself near the front. The break did happen and I just managed to cover it. This split up the peloton into the 7 of us at the front and the rest behind. Unfortunately only 3 of us were willing to work to make the break stick. I did my part but after 10 km, part of the 2nd group caught up so now we had a group of 20 on the front. Still there were only 3 of us doing any work, after a few surges and pulls, we eased up and cruised along until the 3rd big hill. There was another surge and I held on as did all the others but the time at the front and the hills was taking its toll so I settled into the middle of the pack. I knew there was going to be another break on the last big climb so I went back up near the front. About a quarter of the way up, 3 guys went off the front, I was not able to bridge the gap but held the gap steady. This split the group into pieces. I crested the hill in 7th about 15 seconds behind the leaders. I halved the gap on the downhill as well as passing 5th and 6th (these guys are wimps on the down-hills or maybe I am a little nuts). This put me about 5 seconds behind the lead 3 so I had to dig pretty deep to bridge. Again not everyone was willing to keep the pace up and the remnants of the group were starting to catch up so myself and another guy picked up the pace again. I would rather fight the other 6 guys rather than all 20. This was with about 5 km to the finish. Nearing the finish straight was a very quick left right left through the center of town to a 200 meter finish straight. I was 5th in line onto the finish straight and managed to find a little left to 4th at the line. I was very pleased with the results considering the time spent at the front. This was great fun with a lot of strategy and gambling involved. Definitely different from the mountain biking and its own animal. I now am certain I can ride with these guys. I may never get a win but I love mixing it up.

The season is done and actually I am too. I look forward to more casual riding and the change to the winter ski season.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cycling Adventure: Plan B

My cycling adventure got cut short a day on either end due to work stuff, so I ended up with three days to work with instead of five. The weather forecast for two of the three days was for heavy rain and thunderstorms. Luckily, I had a Plan B up my sleeve, and so I loaded up the truck with my mountain bike and headed to Marquette for the weekend to ride some new (to me) trails and not race. It occurred to me recently that I've always heard about the singletrack around Marquette being top notch, but I've never ridden it. Whenever I head up there it's for the Ore to Shore (which has very little singletrack). This time it was all about relaxing and riding.

Friday I stopped at the halfway point to ride Bruno's Run. I don't remember how many years it's been since I've ridden that particular trail, but it's been at least five or six. It was just as much fun as I'd remembered, although it seems like the last time I rode there it took me a lot longer. Check out the link below for ride information; and if you're ever in the area, give it a try.

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Saturday I headed out to the South Marquette Trails. They are very well marked loops that begin and end at the same trailhead. Killer singletrack with a lot of technical rocky stuff abounds. It took me close to two hours to do something like 13 or 14 miles. I didn't get all the loops in, so I can't wait to get back and try them out.

When I checked out of the hotel yesterday morning, it was cold and just starting to rain. I opted out of riding and took my time driving home. Plan B was nothing like Plan A, but I had a wonderful relaxing weekend in Marquette. That's not so bad. Check the calendar for this weeks WNR details. Hard to believe we've been at it for 25 weeks in a row now. Hope to see everyone there. Over and out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

WNR #24

Attendance: Myself, Benson, Rob, Secret Steve, Kevin, and Keri.

Weather: A touch of fall in the air. Temps. in the mid to high 60's till the sun went down. Then it got cold.

Trail Conditions: The rain did indeed help things out, and we had a good ride.

I didn't feel particularly great yesterday. I managed a solid two hour ride with my solo warm up, but I never felt nearly as good as I did on sunday (when I was slightly hungover). Weird how that works. We chatted a bit after the ride, but it got cold out so fast I only managed to get one beer down before I had to get the car started and head home. Next weeks WNR @ Benson's cabin. Check out the team calendar for info. Also, while we didn't really need lights last night, we almost certainly will next week. Take care and have a good weekend.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Sunday morning Rob and I were the only ones up for a ride after the previous night's festivities. Those of you that did not ride missed out on yet another wonderful day in the saddle. We started out at Kipp Rd. and headed north. Then we rode down the front of Nub's Nob and rode across the street to Boyne. From there we headed up the long paved climb. For some reason this always seems like a good idea until about the halfway point when you start thinking "this maybe wasn't such a good idea". It is however, without question, a very good workout. Then we rode the Peak to Peak trail and down Secret Steve's trail to the Bridges. Then the new sweet downhill on the backside and back out to Pleasantview Rd. We headed north to hook back in with the NCT at Sutsmanville Rd. and then rode south back to the cars. Good times, good times. 22.67 miles and 2,679 feet of climbing in 2:32.

Rob and I parted ways after the ride, and I headed into town to catch a ride on a sailboat. The SBYC came to Harbor Springs on sunday. JT and Madge had their sailboat in the water, as did Ceci and Tim. Stuts and Ed (the commodore) had their powerboats in the water as well. I sailed/floated with John and Madge for a few hours, and then Stuts ran me back into the shore before five so that I could make it home for dinner. The weather was perfect all day long, and I had so much fun I could barely stand it.

WNR @ NCT off the end of Chestnut Valley Road tomorrow night. The trails should be in much better shape after the rain we got yesterday. Hope to see everybody there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

French Racing Report

Some of you may not be aware that one of our teammates had extended the racing season a bit. Since returning to France at the end of the summer, Hugh has obtained his racing license and has been competing in the local road racing scene over there. With his permission, here is his report from week two. Enjoy it, and get out and ride this weekend.

> guys
> Just
> an update from race central in France.
> I
> raced on Saturday and Sunday last weekend for my
> 3rd and 4th
> races here. Each time continues to be a learning
> experience.
> Saturday
> Race: 11
> laps - approx 6 km each lap with one big climb and one
> scary fast narrow alpine
> style descent with 3 hairpins. The finish was on
> small flat about 2/3 of
> the way up the climb. This was the only flat section
> with the rest being
> the one long climb and the scary descent. After 3-4
> laps two groups
> formed and I was at the back of 2nd group. I stayed
> calm and took my time
> to get into a rythym on the climb. Found that I had
> pretty good kick at the
> finish after the meat of the climb. With 5 laps to
> go, I went off the
> front of the 2nd group with another rider, he eventually
> dropped but 1 other caught
> up. The two of us rode together the rest of the way
> and picked off 4 or 5
> stragglers from the first group. Unfortunately the
> other guy refused to
> do any of the work so I was on point for the rest of the
> race. By the
> last lap I had put enough time on the second group that I
> backed off a little
> to not get behind on energy for the last climb and the run
> to the finish line.
> I planned my move for the last 100m of the climb before the
> finish straight. The
> guy who was shadowing me pounced first but I managed to get
> onto his wheel.
> He saw that he did not drop me so he backed off a little
> before the run to the
> finish. I stayed right on his wheel. He again
> made a move within sight
> of the finish but I dug pretty deep to stay with him and
> then sprinted by to
> beat him by a wheel. Great fun, classic stuff and
> great experience.
> Ended up 8th overall and 4th in cat 3
> which I was pretty
> happy with. Turned out that it was about 41 miles
> long with 3500 feet of
> climbing at a 19 mph average. I think the mountain
> biking is helping.
> Many of these riders are very cautious on the fast descents
> and don’t
> know how to use their brakes effectively (they brake way
> early and not
> aggressively). I was able to gap most of them on the
> descent. This race
> gave me a little confidence in being able to keep somewhat
> in the hunt.
> Sunday
> Race: 15 laps - approx 4.1 km each lap, rolling with
> no big hills, all on
> narrow country lanes. The pace started fast and I
> held position about 10
> back for the first 5 laps. One guy went off the front
> on lap 5 and I was
> feeling a little cocky so I went to the front and helped
> haul him in. My
> legs were a little tired but not bad from the day
> before. I drifted to
> the back after the pull and reached into my jersey for fuel
> at the same time
> that the peloton surged ahead. Instantly I was 50
> feet back and I found
> out that my legs were not quite as good as I thought and
> the peloton just faded
> into the distance. I rode the last 9 laps solo and
> nearly got
> lapped. Quite humbling. Finished dead last in
> cat 3. This
> wasn’t quite as fun as the day before but again,
> great experience.
> This
> whole thing is so different from mountain biking. I
> never trained
> intervals that much but that’s what is needed here.
> I need to improve
> my short term power delivery to be able to handle the
> surges and sudden effort
> requirements.
> Oh,
> by the way, each race costs 5 Euro to enter ($7 US) and in
> the case of the
> Saturday Race, they hauled out a 20 liter container of red
> wine after the
> race. I never figured wine for a recovery
> drink! The season here is
> coming to an end soon but for the most part, you can
> typically race on both
> Saturday or Sunday every weekend.
> Tomorrow
> (Saturday) is a 2 person team time trial….I’ll
> let you know.
> I think the local club president has found me a riding
> partner for tomorrow, or
> at least I think that is what he said on the
> phone.
> Hope
> all is well there. I have been checking weather in
> Harbor and it looks
> like you are still enjoying good riding.
> Talk
> to you all soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

WNR #23

Attendance: Myself, Sarah, Benson, Rob, Kevin, Keri, and Dr. Phil (one of the original WNR's from way back in the day).

Weather: Cool but sunny.

Trail Conditions: Dry, and very sandy. But the logging recovery is coming along well.

It was nice to have Phil back in town for a couple of days. It's really cool that he can plan his visits around the WNR because he knows it will be happening even though he hasn't lived here in years. Everyone had a good ride, kind of. Sarah, Keri, and Phil were riding in one group. Keri was supposed to wait at the top of a climb before they turned right so that Sarah could take the lead since Keri doesn't really know the trails that well. Keri didn't stop and turned left. Phil followed. They rolled into the parking area about 45 minutes after we did, and it was really dark. But they made it back. Next weeks WNR @ NCT off the end of Chestnut Valley Road. Adios.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Riding and More Riding

Those of you who missed out on last sunday mornings ride missed a good one. New trails, perfect weather, I even brought sandwiches for a post ride snack. Benson and I headed over to Secret Steve's and piled all our gear on top of and into his wagon before heading south to Dead Man's Hill. There we met up with Kevin and Brian (the new, new guy). They had ridden the trail once, but for us other three it was the first time. First off, technically these trails are, for the most part, off limits to bicycles. Curiously enough, they are open to horses. I have my own little personal rule, and it goes something like this: If horses (which do more damage to the trail than a bike) are allowed to use the trail, and if they are allowed to defecate in the middle of the trail whenever they please, than I feel like I should be allowed to ride on the trail as well. We did, and it was a blast. Lung busting climbs and sweet, swooping down hill singletrack. There were enough technical sections to require special attention and a couple of dismounts. It was just wonderful. In the end, we tallied up about 15 miles of singletrack with a 5 mile dirt road stretch back to the cars. I will definitely be back before the end of the season.

Self portrait of the group (minus Kevin who was in front of me).

The view from Dead Man's Hill.

Monday brought the beginning of what would be my shakedown ride for the upcoming cycling adventure/tour. I had the bike all loaded up with my camping gear (tent, sleeping bag/pad, cookstove, small cookset, food, spare clothes, H20, wine). The plan was to ride up to Sturgeon Bay after work and camp out on the beach to get a feel for the bike fully loaded and make sure all the gear was in working order. The first thing I noticed rolling down the driveway monday morning in the dark was that my bike was really, really heavy. I estimate the bike, bags, and gear tipped the scales at a hair over 60 lbs. The flats aren't too bad. Going down is really fun because you accelerate like you're pedaling really hard, but you're not. Going up on the other hand is anything but fun. I've already started weighing individual pieces of equipment in order to try and shave some weight. For instance, my thermarest with chair conversion kit weighs close to 8 lbs. I dug out the old foam pad and crazy creek chair last night, and I will weigh them this afternoon. I also have a line on a bivy sack that I may borrow to take the place of my cozy two person tent with vestibules that is very heavy. When I first started planning this little cycling adventure, I was thinking I could easily get in 100 miles a day. Monday's ride to work and then the beach was probably around 40 miles, and my legs were definitely feeling it on the ride home yesterday morning. My legs feel good today though, so who knows. I leave one week from tomorrow.

Camping out at the SBYC turned out to be the perfect idea. A good half a dozen members were in attendance when I arrived, and most stayed till sunset for dinner and drinks. I passed up on offers of food to maintain the test ride protocol (squeeze cheese mac and cheese for dinner), but I did get a little extra wine from JT. Once the sunset, I had the beach to myself. It was awesome. I had two packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast in the morning. Then I just chilled out and read my book while I waited for the dew to dry off the tent. Then I packed up all my gear, loaded the bike, and headed for home.

Camping out at the SBYC for the first time.

One of the best sunsets of the season for me.

WNR @ Boyne tonight. Party @ HQ saturday 6:30. I'll provide beer and wine. Bring something for the grill and a dish to pass. Over and out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

WNR #22

Weather: Hot. Temps. in the upper 70's and dry.

Attendance: Myself, Benson, Rob, Kevin, and Keri.

Trail Conditions: Sandy and Bumpy. There has been some horse traffic lately that chews up the trail a little, and we've had very little rain for the last couple of weeks.

Despite the small rider turnout (maybe it was too nice out for some people) we still managed a good fast paced ride from the parking area on Lark's Lake to Van Rd. and back. The pace was fast, but controlled on the way north. On the way south I put in a little extra effort and pretty much rode at the redline all the way back to the cars. My legs are feeling the race pace effort today, but it felt really good last night. I've got the day off tomorrow for the first time in almost three weeks, and I'm thinking a long road ride is in order. I've been mapping out a long a** road loop in my head for a while now, and tomorrow I'm looking to make it happen. Have a good weekend; and if you're interested in a Sunday morning ride down in the Jordan River Valley, check out the Team Calendar to the right for all the details. Next weeks WNR @ Boyne.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sweet 16

Yesterday marked the end of my 16th summer working at the store. We had a really good group of kids working this summer; and that, along with a few tweaks here and there, made for one of the least stressful summer seasons in recent memory. I was still very near the end of my proverbial rope, but I'm here to tell the tale. After all, survival is the most important thing to consider when going through one of these summer seasons. It's always an amazing (and confounding) thing to spend a few months surrounded by a ton of people that operate on a completely different wavelength from your own. For now, I'm planning on enjoying the nice weather and a few extra days off. Come the end of October, it'll be time to start getting ready for ski season. WNR @ the NCT off of Larks Lake Road tomorrow. Sarah and I are talking about going to The Pond (Moosejaw Junction) for dinner afterwards. See you there.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

WNR #21

Weather: Sunny and 70. Perfect.

Attendance: Myself, Sarah, Keri, Jess, Benson, Matt, Rob, Kevin, and Scott (he took the pictures below).

Trail Conditions: A bit on the dry side, but excellent other than that. We also rode up Lower Shore Dr. to hit up the singletrack at The Humongous HQ. Hugh, your trail is in fine shape.

A good turnout for a good ride. Sarah assigned everyone a different food item necessary to assemble a killer taco bar. Next weeks ride is at the NCT trailhead on Larks Lake Road (I think). I can't remember for sure if that's what we decided on, but I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm mistaken. We're closing in on the last sunday of work for the summer. I'll be celebrating on the beach at Sturgeon Bay by 4:00 if anyone cares to join me. The sunday after that I'll be up for one long a** ride in the woods since I won't have to be at work. Take care and have a good weekend.