Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dirt Dawgs

Earlier this week was the first parent meeting for the GRBC Dirt Dawgs, West Michigan's first youth development mountain bike team, headed by Danielle Musto and friends.

There has been serious anticipation for this team in the Brewer household. Sage considers Danielle her BFF and can't wait to hang out again. Meanwhile, I'm excited that we'll be able to participate in the sport together as a family.

The Dirt Dawgs will focus on developing a healthy lifestyle and natural resource stewardship alongside learning to mountain bike and growing friendships. There are races on the schedule for the kids that are interested in competition.

It sounds like an exciting program and Danielle's enthusiasm is contagious. No doubt the kids are all going to have a blast this summer. The team is capped at 50 kids, which I believe has already been met. It's exciting to see how many kids are already interested in this new program. And it will be fun to watch Danielle try and organize that many children at once (kidding, she'll do awesome).

In other news, after a few months hiatus, I'm back at making homemade Sugar/Gluten/Dairy-Free ice cream for the kids. We love this stuff. It's so creamy and delicious. Sage had an ice-cream party at school last week and she actually requested my ice cream over store-bought.

I base my recipe off of one from the Spunky Coconut. She is a genius when it comes to allergen-free baking. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself holding her Paleo Chocolate Lover's Cookbook to my bosom--she's that good.

That's it for this week. Hoping to ride more single-track this weekend--if it would just stop snowing.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Announcing . . .

I have 3 announcements to make today. Brace yourself.

First, I'd like to acknowledge a little blogging milestone: today this blog has reached over 20,000 viewers! Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Second and most important:

It's no secret that I enjoy writing, look, I'm writing right now. But, you may not know that I wrote a novel . . .

Brave Mountain (working title)

Over the winter I started a writing project, something I've been thinking about for a long time. It was a labor of love for my daughter. This story is about a girl and her mountain bike and so much more, and was originally inspired by books like Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain.

This was a fun story to write because it is chock-full of mountain biking, orienteering, and wildlife. It touches on the special bond cyclists have with their bicycles. I don't want to give anything away, but there is one scene that, if you ever loved a bike, will bring you to tears. You know what I'm talking about.

I've just begun querying, looking for the right agent to represent this story. I'll keep you updated on the process.

There may or may not be a mountain lion in the book . . . 

Thank you to Monica, cross-cyclist and editor extraordinaire, for her help editing the manuscript and to Stefan and Erin for doing a read-through and offering guidance. . . . And my mom and many more.


Number Three: I made a goal for myself last week. One goal—get out and RIDE. The weather forecast was questionable, but on Wednesday, while cloudy and misty, there was no reason not to dust off the mountain bike. In fact, not only did I need to dust it off, but I still had the Slush Cup number late adhered to the front. That, my friends, is how long it's been.

Being an overachiever, I managed to go on 3 rides at Owasippe.

It felt like coming home. Owasippe is where I learned to ride. Where I shed many tears and crashed even more. I still have a scar over my knee from that one time . . . Anyways, it was great.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Stepping Stones

This is a repost. I came across this little gem cleaning up the archives—a reminder of something I needed to hear today. Read and be encouraged my friends.

While taking a walk along the beach, recovering from having finished the LJ100 just days before, I found something buried in the sand. I thought it might be a fossil as the rock, which was gradually being uncovered by the lapping waves, appeared to have markings on it. The kids would love to add a fossil to their growing 'beach treasures' collection and so I kicked it out of the sand with my feet, then washed it in the lake water.

When I turned it over I found that someone had written on it "ENDURE."

A fitting treasure for the summation of a journey that was my Lumberjack 100 experience. I keep the rock in my living room, an immutable testament to an accomplishment I once thought never possible.

Today I went for a 5k run around our neighborhood. The pavement was still wet from yesterdays thaw and yet the wind was biting with snow flurries. Running in March. In Michigan.

I couldn't help but think about the last time I trained for the River Bank Run 25k—running the same 5k route on the same March day some years ago. I set a lofty goal for myself that year: to finish in under 2:21:00. The previous year I had a finished at 2:31:06. Expecting to shave my time by 10 minutes was setting the bar high. In fact, anyone I mentioned this goal to strongly urged me to lower my expectations. I was glad I never revealed my true goal of seeing a 2:15 on the clock. A time that would require a pace faster than I had ever recorded over any distance, including a measly *3-mile 5k race.

I ended up running a 2:13:03.

The roads and paths of my neighborhood are much like that rock—a physical, tangible reminder of a dream made real. A testament of hard work, perseverance, and commitment.

What is my purpose in sharing this? I believe its important to mark our accomplishments so that on a day like today—a day where running feels as foreign as visiting Mars, where my schedule is in a vice, my body tired and sore, and the landscape between myself and my 'goal' has collapsed in an expanse equivocal to the Grand Canyon—I can recall having been there before. And, that eventually, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

Days like today, even seasons filled with weeks of days like today, are a necessary part of the journey. Big Dreams aren't achieved without the grueling, relentless, suffering work.

And each dream accomplished is not merely 'something we once did' but rather the rocks that build the foundation of our lives. I know that's a deep thought. But its true. The characteristics we gain from sport: commitment, dedication, goal-setting, hard work, perseverance, endurance—everything we do in our athletic lives (be it running or mountain biking or swimming . . . ) translates into every other aspect of our lives. How we conduct ourselves in our careers, how we parent, how we relate in our marriages.

Take some time today, remember your accomplishments and all the things you thought weren't possible, maybe it was running that first mile or going on your first mountain bike ride. Be encouraged and motivated by that experience and use it as a stepping stone to the next big thing in your life.

*I know I am being redundant, but some people are unaware that a "5k race" is not a type of race but rather represents the distance, which is 3.1 miles.