Monday, March 29, 2010

Raking and Riding

Yesterday morning, Sarah and I got out for two and a half hours of trail maintenance/trail building. The whole trail is now leaf blown and raked. Also, there is a new addition to the trail. We closed out a small, steep hill that was getting pretty rooty and eroded. In it's place, we put in a sweet new section of singletrack that works it's way up the same hill in a much less steep and much more fun and twisty way. A nice treat for the next HQ WNR in a couple of weeks. Obviously I couldn't do all that work on the trails and then not go for a ride. So I did. An hour and a half on the singlespeed felt so good.

In other bike related news: I just signed up for this last week. You can click through to see all the gory details, but the basic idea is this: Entry fee is a donation to fight cancer. The event is to ride 100 miles on rollers/trainer or on an infuriatingly small loop outdoors on May 8th (in my case 9th). 500 folks signed up for this second annual event. My plan so far is to do it at Hugh's place. There is a .75 mile loop of trail that I would need to ride 150 times to complete the event. It really did sound like a good idea at the time. But as mind numbing as it may become, it still beats sitting on the rollers for 100 miles.

WNR @ Kipp Rd. this week. Weather forecast so far is most excellent. Ditch the excuses and grab your bike instead.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WNR #2 - 2010

The early spring is affording some fantastic riding and giving us a chance to enjoy our beautiful Northern Michigan single-track. It is still hard to believe that we have enjoyed 2 Wednesday rides and it is still March! The ride was planned for the Boyne trails starting in the Meadow. As the ride approached, I was feeling like I might be the only rider who would make it. Almost everyone else had other commitments and PG was out sick. In order to keep the early streak going, I loaded up and headed for the trail head, figuring that there had to be at least one other WNRider that would make it & if not, I'd go it alone. Fortunately, as I was unloading my bike, Secret Steve pulled in and someone got out of the truck I parked next to looking to join. So it was me, S-Steve & our new rider Chris. We headed up the valley & got in a nice easy ride...partly because Chris was new to the Boyne trails & it's March. The trails are in great shape, still in need of some lumber-jacking (only in a couple of spots) and quite a bit more melting at the North Peak. One unconfirmed rumor is that the North-Ridge, sweet downhill section has been logged in is un-ridable. Hopefully that's bad intel. To finish out the month of March, we'll be heading to the NCT @ Kipp Rd. next week. See you there!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another Bike/Ski Day

Yesterday was the second time this year that I was able to ride my bike and ski on the same day. Matt and I met up with Secret Steve and Will to mountain bike at Boyne in the morning. It was pretty cold, but the riding warmed us up quickly. The trails are all in remarkably good shape, so the WNR there this week should be a treat.

It's always fun this time of year to see people getting off of the lifts when you were able to ride on dirt to the top.

Matt and I headed over to Nub's in the afternoon. We made a few runs before retiring to the sundeck for a couple of beers and snacks. That's about all I have to report.

2010 cycling mileage: 176.92

WNR @ Boyne.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 WNR # 1

Attendance: Myself, Benson, Rob, Hugh, Matt, Kevin, and Sarah.

Weather: Mostly sunny and approximately 47 degrees.

Trail Conditions: Good to Excellent (especially for this time of year).

Well, the first WNR is in the books. And just over a month earlier than last year to boot. I don't know if the weather will allow us to continue a streak through to the fall, but the early start should give us a shot at besting last years total of 32 WNR's. We just rode a little bit of the trails at HQ before heading down to Hugh's house via Surfwood. At Hugh's house we did two laps of his killer trail. It's a great ride with tons of tight, twisty corners and ups and downs that keep you on your toes constantly. After that we retraced our path home for dinner and stouts to celebrate St. Patrick's day. Sarah also whipped up some Guinness chocolate mousse for dessert. It was delicious. Next weeks WNR @ Boyne. 6:30 start. Dust off your bike, pump up your tires, and get out there. Have a good weekend. Over and out.

2010 mileage: 149.22

Garmin Connect -
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Another Cold One

I got out for a good long cold ride yesterday. The best part of the ride was that at least 30 % of it was on dirt. We've got a good portion of the trail at home raked, and that's where I started the ride. From the top of the hill onward there are obstacles scattered here and there along the trail, but it's almost all rideable up the bottom of the 95 acres. I encountered a bit of snow there on the north facing slope so I cut out to Five Mile Creek Rd. I rode up through the golf course at Birchwood for the first time. It's way, way more fun going down. From there I cut through town for my own little private urban singletrack loop. Then up 119 to Lower Shore and up on the Loop to the top of Angel Farm. Then I went down Wasson's Grade and home through Surfwood two track. Almost 25 miles in a little over two hours.

2010 mileage: 108.22

ALERT: Due to unseasonably warm temps. and the fact that this Wednesday is St. Patrick's Day, and with the trails being rideable and all..... we'll be having WNR # 1 just over one month early this year. So, WNR this week @ HQ. Start time is 6:30, come early if you want to preride. Just let us know if you're coming and we'll put together something for dinner. Bring some beer or a small donation for the keg. Stone I.P.A. is currently on tap. You know the drill. Be there or be square. I'm super pumped to be on the bike again, so don't be surprised if you get a phone call reminder tonight or tomorrow.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Calendar Updates

My biking legs are coming around, and the ski season is drawing to a rapid close. Both races were cancelled this weekend, and the snow in the woods is melting fast. If I get out on skis again this season, it will most likely be a few turns in the afternoon at Nub's Nob followed by drinks in the sun on the deck below the race course. That is always a good way to spend a spring afternoon.

I've updated my race calendar to reflect the cancelled ski races of the season and to note a few changes in the bike schedule. The Mohican 100 is out and Hanson Hills is back in. You may also notice that the LBJ 100 is back on the schedule but on a different date. A handful of us that got shut out due to the sell out decided to do the race anyway, just a week early. As much as I wanted to do the Peak to Peak race this year for the first time, it wasn't meant to be. Sarah's step-brother is getting married that weekend in Vermont, and we will be there instead. The weather forecast is calling for a high of 58 tomorrow and 60 on Sunday. Is it really possible that we'll be riding in short's this early in the season, and perhaps even in the woods? Maybe. I'll report back on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hugh Ride

Went for a nice longish ride on the road yesterday with Hugh. Just under 30 miles in a little over two hours. Mountain bikes are still necessary since there are still some patches of ice here and there in the shade, but all in all the roads are in pretty good shape. The weather was delightful, 54 degrees and sunny. Other than that, I have very little to report. Total bike miles to date this season: 67.

Garmin Connect -
Activity Details for Hilly Road Ride w/ Hugh

Monday, March 08, 2010

Hiking, Biking, and Skiing

Had a good weekend. Saturday I got out on the bike for just under two hours. It was a bit chilly and my legs got pretty sore near the end, but still it felt good to get out on the road. Yesterday morning I met up with JT and Matt for some skiing at the tower. I expected conditions to be sketchy at best, but it actually was pretty decent. After the skiing, we hooked up with Jess and Sarah for some hiking. We parked up just north of Island View and tramped around the nature preserve on the west side of the road. All in all it was a very good weekend indeed. The forecast for the week is calling for temps. in the high 40's and low 50's. I'm afraid the snow's days may be numbered.

Monday, March 01, 2010

My First Birkie

The Elite Freestyle start.

Helicopter circling over the start area.


Birkie 2010
It’s been just about a year since I committed to the big race I just completed over the weekend. It all started at Matt and Jess’s wedding last spring. I’d heard plenty about the Birkie in Wisconsin. I’d heard that it was one of the longest running marathon ski races in the country (37 years counting 2010), and I’d heard that it attracted the biggest field of any cross country ski race in North America (8,000 + this year). Anyway, Steve Biggs and I got to talking about it at said wedding. He’d never done it (but had always wanted to), and I’d never done it (but had thought about it in passing). It was agreed that we would both do it this year. I kept up my end of the deal and signed up over the summer. Steve did not.

Thursday. 6:00 am
Sarah and I left the HQ and headed north and west. I was allowed to drive the first 2 hours, and that’s a big stretch since Sarah does 90-95% of the driving when we’re on the road. Fortunately, the Google Maps estimate of 10+ hours was way off the mark. We pulled into our lodgings at just after 2:30 c.s.t., and we even stopped for breakfast in Iron Mountain. We unpacked the truck; and given the early hour, we drove north to Cable to sign in and pick up my race packet. Early Thursday afternoon the resort was jam packed, and I can’t even imagine it on Friday (note to self: always try to go on Thursday). Packet picked up and truck unpacked, Sarah and I stopped into a local bar on the way home for a drink. After digesting the cigarette smoke, the local snowmobile trail conditions, and one drink each we headed back to Treeland Resorts for dinner and Olympic TV coverage.

Friday. All day.
I spent most of the day relaxing and waxing. We went into town to catch the tail end of the Citizen Sprints and have lunch; but other than that, not mucho going on.

Race Day. 4:00 am
I woke up before the alarm went off which is pretty much par for the course. I stayed in bed for a little while and tried to fall back asleep, but after a little while it was obvious this was not going to happen. I did a little getting ready and waited for Sarah to get up with some Netflix. Sarah got up and was kind enough to make me some scrambled eggs with cheese and toast for breakfast. We headed out for the start around 6:30. Since there are so many people and spectators involved in the race, you can't actually drive to the start. They close the road to the resort/start, and everyone is bussed in from various parking lots in the area. I'll admit that this seemed to have the potential for some serious problems. Our doubts were totally unfounded. These people have their sh*t together. Cops were directing traffic off the main highway. Volunteers were directing cars to parking spots in a massive freshly plowed field. After a short walk and a two minute wait, Sarah and I were on a bus packed full of racers and spectators alike, skis and all. In less than fifteen minutes we were deposited at the front of the Telemark Resort, and from there it was a short walk to the start.

I've never seen anything like the start of this race. There were flags and banners whipping in the wind all around the start pen. A helicopter circled overhead. We got there just in time for the men's elite freestyle start. After that I had just enough time to ditch my warm up clothes and ski over to the start. I'd estimate there were at least two hundred racers in my wave, and I was positioned about five rows back near the center. And just like that, the race was on.

I was very determined to not repeat the mistakes that I made last month at the Noquemanon. Part one of the plan was to pace myself so that I would still have some energy towards the end of the race. The second part of the plan was to eat a little more and a little more consistently. It's really hard to pace yourself at the beginning of a big race. You've got a nice surge of adrenaline going, and your body feels fresh and fast. The trick is to override all that and remind yourself that there's a long day ahead. I gave myself about a half an hour leash in that regard. After that first thirty minutes, I tried really hard to ease up on the pace. I'd get behind someone that was going a little slower than I could have gone, and I'd stay there for a little while. Sometimes they'd pull away eventually, and other times I'd eventually pull away from them. This strategy must have worked really well because by the halfway point I was still feeling pretty good. The slightly lowered pace also enabled me to concentrate on taking in a consistent 250 calories an hour. After the 27 km mark, I definitely started to get tired. My arms were getting a little sore, and my legs were just beginning to protest. Still, I was making good time and eating well up to 35 km or so. Then I encountered a small technical difficulty. I stopped for maybe two minutes at an aid station to get some extra calories out of my pack. When I tried to start moving again, I couldn't. The warming temperatures had caused a good 2 inches of snow to become attached to my kick wax/klister. I had to remove both of my skis and scrape it off to get moving again. So for the remainder of the race I had to keep moving. This was both a blessing and a curse as you can imagine. There were definitely a couple of times where it would have been nice to catch my breath for a few seconds, but the thought of removing my skis to scrape them off again kept me skiing for the finish line. The last 5 km of the race sound easy enough in theory: 4 km of skiing across Lake Hayward and 1 km up the finishing stretch on Main St., and it's all flat. Well I'm here to tell you they were a super tough 5 km. My kick was gone, and I was tired. I just put my head down and double poled for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, we skied off the lake and into town. Then turning onto Main St. you can finally see the finish line. Thousands of drinking and screaming people line both sides of the street for three long blocks. And then you're done. Some nice young lady removed my timing chip, and another volunteer put a nice medal around my neck for finishing my first Birkie. Going into the race, my goal was to finish in around five hours. My time ended up being 5:01:19. My average heart rate was 170. In the 35-39 age group, I finished 45th out of 82. Overall there were just over 1,400 men skiing in the 54 km classic race, and I finished 785th. All told I was very happy with my race. Middle of the pack beats back of the pack any day of the week, especially at the biggest cross country ski race in North America. Before I left for the race I was pretty sure it would be a one time dealio just to see what all the hoopla was about. Now I know the reason for all the hoopla. It is an absolutely awesome event. Everything about it is world class: the racers, the trail, the crowds, everything. Bottom line, there is a very good chance I'll be back next winter.