Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Lumberjack 100



I've had a pretty rough spring in terms of injuries and mechanicals, so I was really ready to put together a good race before summer started. My goal was to try really hard to pace myself in the early part of the race and then ramp it up at the end. A few twists and turns aside, everything went according to plan.

Lap 1: After freezing my a** off on the two mile ride out to the start on the pavement with the sun not yet over the tops of the trees, we were off. For the first 45 minutes or so I found myself in the middle of a looooong line of riders snaking through the singletrack. The pace was super mellow, and you could hear a bunch of different conversations going on simultaneously all around. About ten miles in the pack started to thin out and soon I was in a good group of 5 or 6 other riders. I went real easy and finished up the lap feeling fairly fresh.

Lap 2: On a whim Thursday night, I threw an expired bottle of Endurolytes in my food box. This would prove to be a very wise move indeed later in the race. Before setting out on the second lap I downed three of the white pills and changed out my bottles. I had a few rough spots on the second lap. There were definitely times where I struggled, but there were also times where I felt really strong. Such is life racing for 100 miles. I had one quick spell of cramping just past the aid station. My left quad seized up, and I quickly stopped pedaling and got off to the side of the trail. My first thought was, "oh F**K!". But then I stood still for a moment and took stock of the situation. I massaged my leg a little and drank about half a bottle of Heed. I got back on the bike and gingerly continued up the hill in my granny gear waiting for the cramps to reappear. Miraculously, they never did.

Lap 3: I downed three more of the Endurolytes and three ibuprofen before setting out on the final lap. As soon as I rolled away from the pits I knew I was going to finish. All those steep climbs would only have to be conquered one more time. I had a few rough spots here and there to be sure, but compared to the carnage I saw on the side of the trail I felt great. No cramping and aside from some irritation in my hands and lower back life was good. I stopped at the last aid station, about 16 miles from the finish, and filled up my bottles. I also slammed two little dixie cups of cold flat coke, it was delicious. From there on out I probably passed a good dozen riders. The heat was taking it's toll, and almost everyone I saw out on the trail was complaining of some cramping issue or another. I was still feeling great, powering up short steep climbs in my middle rang that I had cautiously walked up on the second lap. And then it was done. It feels so good in so many ways to finish one of these races.

Special thanks to Sarah for sitting around in the buggy woods all day to take care of Hugh and I. And also for cooking all of our delicious meals over the weekend. I'm already kind of sort of looking forward to next year.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WNR # 12

Attendance: I can't even begin to pretend that I would be able to remember everyone. That might have been the biggest WNR ever, at least that I can recall. Benson hiked up the power line for a photo afterwards, so maybe he'll be able to edit this post with some names and the shot.


**CB's Adds: Photo to the right shows the parking
area of the meadow that may need expanding ... with the number of riders, I thought it might be easier to get an aerial shot & this is my closest approximation. As for attendance, the list is getting LONG: CB, Doug, Pete, Sarah, Rob, Kevin, Charlie, Cheryl, Steve, Uli, Kerri, Scott, Mitchell, Cooper, Jim, Nick, Joe, Lisa, Mike T. & Jen PLUS new WNRiders: Bryan, Molly, Mike J., Anne for a GRAND total of 24! If some of the regulars would have made it, we could have easily hit 30! Next week at Boyne Mt. - meet at the tennis court parking area...practice wheelies at your own risk.**

Weather: Perfection. Sunny and 70 degrees.

Trail Conditions: Very good. A bit sandy in spots, and some of the trails are still fu**ed up from logging :(

I led out the B group, and Benson took the helm for the A group and we were off. I was trying to save some energy for the LBJ on Saturday, and some of the girls wanted to learn a new route so it worked out well for all involved. Benson and Amber hosted a nice pizza dinner afterwards, thank you very much. So Hugh, Sarah, and I are hitting the road tomorrow afternoon for the race. I'll report back upon completion. Have a good weekend and ride well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

WNR #11 Kipp Rd AFTER A MAJOR STORM

AC, Kevin, Chris M., Chris H, Bobbi, Tina, Jen (both new girls), Cheryl, Karen, Sarah, Doug, Damion, Racin Rob, Pedro, Joe(Ryan),Secret Steve, Jim, some new guy I didn't get his name, Benson, Lisa--I think that is it? Sorry if I missed you.
I believe I was the one in charge of posting and now that summer is here at the boat shop, it didn't happen until now.
All I can say is it was Kipp Rd.
This is the account for the boy's ride. They were going to stop at Brutus Rd because if they went further the bridges would have been very slippery because of the storms from that morning. So, those of us that turned around we came back without blood, those that kept going had a pretty wicked pile up because Joe slowed down for the wet bridges and Bobbi then fell (shocker) and then Kevin said, well I ride over Bobbi or fall-thanks for not riding over her. Then I have no idea how AC got his his wicked bloody chainring looking injury and then there is Nick, who is new and his whole leg was bleeding. Thank goodness there were cold beers after!

All in all we had 21 riders!
See you at Boyne Highlands for the next episode!
Sarah G.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sticks and stones may break my spokes but dirt will never hurt me!

The Sunday Dirt Services…what a great turnout, and we aren’t just talking about the weather either! Chris, Chris, Rob, Bobbie, Joe, Uli, Charlie, Cheryl, Steve, Dan, Cooper showed up… Sundays typically are days…of rest.  But what we were about to embark upon was nothing close to rest.  Except maybe for a pro racer.  This might be rest to them!

It is nice to see such big a group of riders so early in the year.  Heck, it’s nice to see a big group of riders, period!  Our attendance thickens and thins during the progression of summer, but as of the last few rides, we’ve had at least 10 people sharing mud together.
Once everyone was rounded up at the Pleasantview Township Hall, we rolled out onto East Stutsmanville Road to roll up (way up) the North Country Trail.  Like a train pulling loaded freight cars, we lumbered up that first hill, gears changing, legs waking, lungs cycling the fresh wooded air.  Aaahhhh it’s good to be out!  The weather couldn’t have been any better! 
As we rode, it became very noticeable that someone had been out on the trail doing maintenance.  This section of the NCT was almost spotless…it was almost as if someone took a vacuum and sucked all the sticks and derailleur catchers off for us!  Great company, great weather, great trails…what could be better?
A couple of hills, that’s what!  In the middle of the next climb, suddenly, PANGGGGG!!!  What the F?!?!?  Looking around, I didn’t notice anything different, but holy cats, I sure heard it…loud and proud.  And, it came from MY bike!  And, as any of those reading this and have ridden with me know I’ve had my share of mechanicals…but that’s a blog for another time, haha!  Uli, who was trailing me at the time, said it looked like something shot out from my wheel…but I kept rolling...nothing looked different and nothing felt different.  Yet.
Benson had a route in mind this Sunday that was a little different than the usual.  Instead of crossing the upcoming two-track and continuing along the NCT, we leaned right and headed uphill.  I like it when there isn’t really a planned route, or at least I like it when I don’t know where the route will take us.  Just follow the guide…its part of the experience of Dirt Service.  At the top of this hill (did I mention there are hills in mountain biking?) we again took a right which rewarded us with about a mile of downhill.   Pretty awesome when a singletrack flows downhill and opens right up…we were flying and likely hitting low to mid 20’s on this baby.  We all saw a little humor in the 5 mph sign posted near the bottom…and boy did we hit bottom.
The trail took us through the bottom of some kind of bog or swamp!  Everyone’s tires, balance, and ground clearance was put to the test as we glooped our way through this murky muck…I was lucky enough to stay up and not put a foot down.  So was Secret Steve…although I must say he had a little extra incentive what with his gleaming white Sidi’s…ah well, there’s only ONE way to break that stuff in right Steve?!
Now that everyone’s bike was five pounds heavier, it was time to conquer the cart path.  For those of you who aren’t sure what the cart path is; meaning, if “cart path” sounds like something easy, relaxing (as in cart path:  golf, nice afternoons, coupla brews), and scenic…well, let’s just shift that train of thought, shall we?
The cart path, as it is deemed, is kind of scenic.  It is a smooth path, so it’s not very technical for us mountain bikers.  That makes it nice.  It goes past a golf course, so that’s nice too.  Now, take that mental picture.  Think about it for a second…take it in, ahhh yes…..  Now tilt it.  Put it in both hands and just tilt it.  UP…like, 50 degrees up….!!!  Suddenly, you aren’t really taking in the scenery any more; rather, you are glaring at the pavement just below you, taking in as much air as you possibly can to muster this thing!!!  And climb we did…pedal stroke after pedal stroke, foot by foot, we climbed.  The trees and shade fall away near the top and the pavement gives away to dirt…oh yea, when you hit the dirt section of this cart path, you can tilt that picture even steeper….and don’t even think about laying that picture flat until you’ve reached the ski lift.  Joe found the easy button for this one though, not sure where he hid it, but that little powerhouse cranked right past me in a sprint to the top!  Awesome!  At the top is a stunning view…on the clear days, you can see the Mackinaw Bridge from the top of Boyne Highlands!  Today, not so much; there was a little haze in the afternoon sky, but still a great view looking down at the landscape.
Once the oxygen began to even out and circulate back into my brain, I looked down and figured out what that resonant PANGGGGG!!! I heard from my bike a few miles ago; a darned spoke nipple gave away!  But luckily for me, the main body of the nipple was still attached to the spoke, and it was sort of resting inside the rim being held in place.  Score!
What goes up must come down!  From the top we followed Dirt Reverend Benson over the other side of the hill and wound our way through some very familiar singletrack, The Bridges, and snuck out the back side of Boyne on the newer, less beaten path towards Stutsmanville Road.  This part of the trail is pretty darn technical; you can’t really get much speed up because of how close some of the turns are and how close some of the trees are!  It’s nice to see this path getting some use, it’s beginning to get beaten in rather nicely and you don’t have to guess as much where the path goes.  Usually in cases like this, you call upon your skills of “Trail Braille”, where you sort of feel your way through the path when it becomes a little hard to read!  Which is totally different than using Trail Braille at night, but again, that’s another story…!
Once we spilled out onto Stutsmanville Road for the return stretch, it turned into a frantic, how fast can get my bike going, how high of a number can I get on my computer max speed indicator, race to where we started!  Any mud that held on to your tires for the last 5 miles of trail riding had no chance!  Shedding a chunk or two on the way down, the wind roared in your ears and the whizz of freewheels spinning to their maximum velocity kept everyone sharp and ready to attack once gravity’s advantage leveled out.  Everyone began sprinting as far as they could…I was so deprived of oxygen and spinning my knees off, that I cannot for the life of me remember who was out front…but I was somewhere in there and made it with the rest of the crew for another amazing Dirt Sermon.   We all reported max speeds down the hill of 40, 42, 43….and I’m pretty sure someone said 45…that’s haulin’!!!

Dirt Services, what a great way to finish off the weekends!!  Keep ‘em comin’!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

WNR # 10

Attendance: It was a big group, so my apologies if I forget anyone. Myself, Benson, Uli, Nick, Kevin, Matt, Jim, Bobbi, Cooper, Scott, Mitchell, Sarah, Lisa, Jess, Karen, Kerri, Amber*, Kathryn*, and Finn*. *denotes attendance but no riding.

Weather: Wonderful. Sunny and right around 60 degrees.

Trail Conditions: The singletrack at the HQ is in wonderful shape, but the rest of the trail (including Hugh's) is in need of a little TLC. There are a few trees down here and there, and Sammie's trails still need to be opened up.

So we had a huge group, and we were missing a few regulars! Dinner and post ride refreshments were awesome as always. Next weeks WNR is @ Kipp Rd. so get your climbing legs ready. I know there will be quite a few of us down for racing at Hanson Hills this Sunday. Good luck to all. I finally cobbled together a video of my Copper Harbor trip. It comes complete with an original score by yours truly. Please keep in my mind, that was the first time I'd picked up my guitar in about three or four years, enjoy.