Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I've been up to

1) Participating in Pure Michigan's / Rob Bliss State-wide Singalong

Crowds gathering and preparing to shoot our scene for the video.
Sporting my Love Muskegon shirt
My bike wanted to be in the lip-dub too, so I brought her along.
My friend Roxane messaged me to let me know that there is a big close up of my head on WZZM13's coverage! Check it out HERE. (I'm about 40 seconds in). I'm so relieved they didn't show my snaggle-tooth side.

2) Riding Owasippe. Yes, Owasippe is OPEN. So go ride! Watch out for the sand pits and snakes.

3) Taking the Snoose (age 6) on "training" rides for Peak2Peak. She really wants to do this mountain bike race, and, as her mom, it's my job to set her up for a positive experience. Even though we've had weekly mountain bike rides with the Family Mountain Bike Club, we've never tested her "endurance." First priority on our P2P race preparedness checklist was to do an 11-mile bike ride.

Climbing the hill to Lake Michigan.
Sage: "I didn't tell myself 'I think I can,' I told myself that 'I know I can.'"

That's the smile of a girl who discovered that
she is "stronger thank she thinks she is and can do more than she thought she could do."
 Snoose even asked to ride a couple of extra miles for a total of 13. I'm so proud of this girl! Up next is 13 miles of single-track. We'll be hitting the VASA in Traverse City this weekend. If you see us out there, say "hi!" And, if you think of it, give this kid an encouraging word to help her along.

4) And then there's getting ready for the new school year. Things are going to change drastically in our household. Not only is Snoose going to school full-days but my job is changing and I'll no longer be working from home. In fact I won't be home in the mornings at all to help the kids get ready.

To prepare for some of these major changes, the kids have been practicing their new daily routines.

The Snoose's daily routine

Bear's routine—it would be so much easier if he could read!

Snoose has her routine down-pat. She is independent and enjoys getting herself ready in the morning, making her own breakfast, etc. Bear, on the other hand, loves to be catered to. He thoroughly enjoys having someone brush his hair, get him dressed—it's like a spa treatment to him. I've never seen a kid so willingly open their mouth for a teeth-cleaning. He could spend hours having his teeth brushed.

It's been a frustrating week and a half trying to get Bear to do these things for himself. But, I believe, we are slowly making progress . . .

What haven't I been doing?

1) Cleaning my house. Boom! We hired a cleaning service and it is the best decision Chad and I have ever made over the duration of our marital union thus far.

This change means that Chad gets to hear less nagging and I get more time to ride. Everyone wins!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Top Five Events for Fall: 4 & 5

Getting this Fall Events Preview wrapped up today! There's been a lot going on, hence the single post from last week. Without further ado, here are my #4 and 5 Events for Fall:

For the Family:

4) Muskegon YMCA Turkey Trot

MLive (Muskegon Chronicle)
What it is: 5k walk/jog/run along Muskegon Lake on the morning of Thanksgiving Day. Presented by the Muskegon Family YMCA. Casual, family-friendly atmosphere.

Why I like it: The Muskegon YMCA Turkey Trot has become a Brewer Family tradition. The weather is almost always terrible but the crowd is none-the-less enthusiastic. It's a great way to kick-off the holiday. After a brisk 3 mile run it's much easier to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie.

Thanks to volunteers there are oodles of giveaways post-race. Prizes range from totes and t-shirts to a large assortment of homemade baked goods. It's just about impossible to leave this event without a goody-bag. If you dress up as a turkey you receive extra raffle tickets (for some reason I forget this detail every year and then wonder why so many people are wearing snoods and fans). This event is for EVERYONE: from strollers, walkers, joggers to runners. Come on out!

Muskegon YMCA Turkey Trot
Thanksgiving Day
5k Walk/Jog/Run
(check back later this fall for information on their website).

For the Mountain biker:

5) Iceman Cometh Challenge After Party

Finish venue Timber Ridge Resort
What it is: "The Bell’s Beer Iceman Cometh Challenge is a 29 mile point-to-point mountain bike race from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan. Held traditionally on the first Saturday of November (except for years when the first Saturday of November is the 1st), the 23rd annual Bell’s Iceman will be held on Saturday, November 3, 2012. Over $54,000 in cash prizes and $10,000 in merchandise prizes will be awarded." That's the race part . . .

Why I like it: I'll admit, I hesitated putting Iceman on my top 5 list. I've only done this race twice (2010 and 2011) and have my registration reserved for this year. My first year racing I was under the relatively new rule of the preferred start. Because of the number of racers (over 4,500), Iceman starts in a series of waves, about 45 of them. Veteran Icemen/women get preferred starts based on previous finish times. New racers are started last. That meant in 2010, my first year, I had to race in wave 42. The traffic on the trail was the worst I've ever experienced. I won't go into detail about how much I hated racing Iceman that year, you can read it here instead. But it was so bad that I almost quit mountain bike racing altogether. My friends convinced to me to come back the next year to see if the experience was better having a preferred start. It was night and day! Which is why I'll be back for a third year.

The best part of Iceman isn't the race, it's the after party at Timber Ridge Resort. There are thousands of mountain bike enthusiasts gathered at the finish venue enjoying beer, food, campfires, and more. Some of the fastest Pro's from around the US come to race and the crowds line up 4-5 people deep to watch them fly across the finish line. The mountain bike racing season is over (unless you've got a fatbike and are gearing up for the Great Lakes Fat Bike Series). For the rest of us its time to hang up our wheels, kick up our feet, and enjoy a cold one around the campfire with good friends.

It's too late to pick up a registration (unless you are able to transfer in). But even if you are unable to race this is worth attending as a volunteer or spectator. I hope you decide to come on up to Timber Ridge and join the party!

Iceman Cometh Challenge
Traverse City, MI
November 2, 2012

Other Awesome Fall Events:

NOW - Owasippe is open for riding!!!!
9/8 -  Battle at the Burg, Grand Rapids (Mountain bike race)
10/4 - Reveal the Path presented by Ada Bike Shop, Grand Rapids (Movie)
11/3 - Turkey Trail Run at Hoffmaster State Park, Muskegon (5k trail run)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top Five Events for Fall: Peak2Peak Mountain Bike Classic

Top Five for this Fall:
1) Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: Art Prize Edition
2) Scardy Pants 5k Trail Adventure: Zombie Apocalypse

For the Mountain biker: from the Experienced to the First Time Racer

 3) Peak 2 Peak Mountain Bike Classic

Photos from Endoman Promotions Website.
What it is: "Peak 2 Peak [mountain bike race] is held in and around the beautiful and gently rolling terrain which surrounds Crystal Mountain and will start and finish right at the resort!" Lap distances are approximately 11 miles. Beginners do 1 lap and bypass the large climb up the ski hill, Sport races 2 and Expert 3 laps.

Beautiful fall colors and flowy single track!
Why it's one of my favorites: "The hardwood and pine forests along with rambling two-tracks and flowing single-track will have you humming as you race." < This! Last year was my first of what I imagine will be many times racing this event. The strongest memory I have is humming and singing while I was riding. The course was a delight (other than that ski climb that didn't seem to end). It is relatively flat, smooth, with just a few moderate technical sections which makes it an ideal course for those interested in participating in their first race.

There are plenty of pre- and post-race activities at the lodge. Spectators can ride the chair lift to the top of the ski climb to cheer on demoralized racers struggling up the back. This is a family-friendly event, so bring the kids! Rent a condo or reserve a hotel room at Crystal Mountain for the weekend and enjoy the fall weather and colors of Northern Michigan while they are at their best!

Peak 2 Peak 2011: Crossing the finish line in 3rd!

. . . And it might also be one of my "favorites" because it is the only race I've ever podiumed (podiumed is a legitimate word in Mountain Bike Speak) in the Expert Cat. Sadly, there won't be a repeat this year. It's Chad's turn to race Expert, my turn to watch the kids. I'll either be racing Sport while he watches the kids or, hopefully, riding in the Beginner race with Snoose.

Thompsonville, MI (Crystal Mountain Resort)
Saturday, October 13
Sponsor: Right Brain Brewery

In other news . . .

Chad and I rode the MOST Tour  with Snoose and Bear this weekend, hosted by none other than the West Michigan Coast Riders. Chad has a few photos on his phone. If I can steal it away tonight I'll do a ride report. 

And . . . I have some friends that rode the ODRAM or One Day Ride Across Michigan. Approximately 150 miles from shore to shore. Kuddos to Kelly, Kirsten, Derek, Matt, and Jim S.! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Top 5 Events this Fall: #2

Top 5 Events this Fall: #1, Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race Art Prize Edition

Fall in Michigan has so much to offer and there is an equal abundance of active events for everyone. This next on my list is for everyone in the family. If you can walk 3 miles than you can do this event. It's fun, adventurous, and SPOOKTACULAR! *Not for young/sensitive children.

For the Family:

2) Scardy Pants 5k Trail Adventure: Zombie Apocalypse

Video clip from 2011's event.

What it is: A 5k haunted adventure that takes you along the lighted cross country ski trails at Muskegon Winter Sports Complex. Teams of 2-5 people must use a map to guide them through the haunted trails to ghoulish "check points." At the check point you then punch a pass card before moving on to the next destination on your map. The supernatural team with the most CP's punched and crosses the finish line in the fastest time wins. Costumes are encouraged. Sign up early because race fees increase beginning in September. Limit to first 500 entries.

Why it's one of my favorites: The spooky scenes that Endurance Adventure volunteers built last year were incredible: a cemetery with graves and tombstones,  witches cauldrons, were wolves and so much more. There was even an haunted luge run. I can say with certainty that this is the only place in the world where you can do a haunted LUGE RUN. Matt of Endurance Adventure has promised some really cool things for this year's event—I find it hard to believe they can top last year but it looks like that's the plan. Be sure to dress up in a costume as there is a heated competition for cash prizes. A post-race meal and drinks are provided.

Volunteer: As you can imagine, a great number of volunteers are needed for this event from building spooky scenes to haunting the trail and more. If you're interested in volunteering, please let me know and I'll get you in contact with the Grim Reaper himself (AKA Matt).

This race is a fundraiser for Endurance Adventure. For more information on this innovative program for middle school boys that has been developed and implemented in West Michigan visit their website:

Scardy Pants 5k Adventure: Zombie Apocalypse
Saturday, October 27
Nightfall . . .
Muskegon Winter Sports Complex


Its after dark and imagine yourself in costume and walking through the lighted trails through Muskegon State Park. Then picture having to find six checkpoints and realizing to get to each one you have to enter a into a various  haunted tunnels or structures in the middle of the woods.  This year will be even scarier after it was reported last years project being one of the scariest trail adventures ever encountered! 

The haunted trail adventure has been designed for both  who choose to walk and for
those who choose to run!  This year we added a non competitive walk divison for those who want to participate but not race. There will be a stage and emcee hosting the 2nd Annual Black Carpet Costume Awards, adult beverage tent, bonfires, dj music, as well as food and other fun activities for participants and spectators alike.

Not enough? We are amping things up even more with a "Thriller" Flash Dance Mob during the after party and welcome everyone to participate in the dance mob that will be seen across the world!
$500 Costume Contest! 
Walk across the black carpet upon entry to compete for some major cash!   

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Greatness--Nike's recent ad

I know everyone is highly anticipating my #2 of my Top 5 Events for the Fall, but I'm taking a break to write about something else today. Normally I don't like getting involved in this type of thing, I prefer to keep my posts about riding local trails, racing and training. But I read something today that really bothered me. I take that back, it infuriated me.

Here is a clip of the ad so everyone know's what this is about:

When I first saw this ad, I thought it was great awesome. I started running when I was 300 pounds and can relate to this commercial. Running is hard, especially when you are carrying that much extra fat on your body. I'd like to see a Kenyan run a marathon towing a 200 pound cart and see how fast they could do it then! That would be really amazing.

There is an overwhelming amount of prejudice against obese people. And its even harder to be an obese child. Perhaps the biggest stigma is that we're lazy. When you are repeatedly told you're lazy, you start to believe it whether its true or not. There's also a sense of hopelessness, that you are unable to change your circumstances.

I think we can all recall being in school and how horrible kids are to each other. The name calling, the teasing, the bullying . . . I was overweight, an easy target. The fat kid. That drew a lot of attention. My main goal of my educational career was to make myself invisible so that I wouldn't be the target for that day's verbal assault.

Nathan (the 12 year old boy in this commercial) is far braver than I was at that age. It takes courage to put yourself out there and it takes courage to change your circumstances. I'm proud of Nathan and I'm proud of Nike's ad.

And then I read a quote in a CNN article today from Dr. David Katz, editor-in-chief of the journal Childhood Obesity who is "ambivalent about the ad" and is "uneasy with the message that Nathan is chasing greatness by running."

Here's the quote:

“He looks miserably uncomfortable, and as if he’s about to topple over. There is no hint of greatness in it — other than, perhaps, his commitment to do it. But maybe he is a great mathematician — or orator — or pianist…” he wrote in an email. 

“So, I would have preferred they showed his pursuit of greatness in a way that was not so obviously far from great, so obviously impeded by his weight and so blatantly uncomfortable!”

This is the kind of talk that is incredibly frustrating. First, Dr. Katz is suggesting that because it is uncomfortable and difficult that he should pursue something other than EXERCISE, like math or music. Here's the truth, exercise is for every BODY whether you're a mathematician, orator, pianist or an athlete. Bodies were made to move and need to be exercised to get and stay healthy.

There are so many things wrong with that statement. I can tell you from experience that losing weight is HARD WORK. It is uncomfortable. It is miserable. Why? Because you have to change life-long habits. Because you have to use your body in ways you aren't used to. Exercising in its very nature isn't comfortable.

Dr. Katz quote only ads to the hopelessness that obese children are faced with everyday. When a child begins to set forth healthy habits, the first time it becomes difficult, should they give up? Should they not exercise because Dr. Katz thinks they look uncomfortable? Is the picture of an obese child running "so obviously far from great" Dr. Katz? What is your idea of greatness? Because I happen to think that a child who is taking steps to pursue a healthy future for themselves is the definition of greatness.

Furthermore, Dr. Katz, take a look at some of these photos below. And tell me, do you think these people are pursuing greatness? Because they look BLATANTLY uncomfortable to me.

Lee Merrien, Olympic Marathon runner, looks really uncomfortable.
Like he might be gasping for air. Perhaps he should try being an orator.

Uh-oh! This Olympian actually did topple over and needed help crossing the finish line. 

2010 Ironman winner Kate Bevilaqua crawled across the finish line.
Surely that isn't an attribute of 'greatness' according to Dr. Katz. 
I could post SO many more photos like this. But I think anyone that has ever run a marathon and tried to buy the courtesy photo afterwards knows already that running is not a flattering appearance for most—no matter the body type.

I'm beginning to think that Dr. Katz's definition of greatness, like so many others unfortunately, has more to do with looking great rather than doing something great. If we want to have an impact on childhood obesity than we need to start changing our definitions of what is great and Nike's ad takes a step in doing just that.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Top 5 Events this Fall: #1

I know Summer isn't over yet and many will groan at the mention of Fall, but its coming. And I'm excited about it. Fall is my favorite time of year for an overflowing cornucopia of reasons. There's the food of course: butternut squash bisque, apple crisp, chili, pumpkin cheesecake bread, apple cider and cinnamon sugar donut holes. Then there's Michigan's supreme landscape of changing leaves, the way Lake Michigan begins to grumble and fizz, and the crisp head-clearing cool breeze. Fall is my all-time favorite time of year to go running, mountain biking, take family hikes, explore, and sit around a campfire.

It's no surprise that my favorite events happen to occur during my favorite season of the year. I'm talking active events, not Pumpkin Rolls and Wine Tours. That's all fun, but someone else can blog about that. This blog is for biking, racing, exploring and having adventures with the family. So, without further ado, here is the first of five (in no particular order because they are all equally awesome):

For Everyone:

1) Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race : Art Prize Edition

What it is: Teams of two (grab a friend!) use maps to navigate to "checkpoints" on foot and bike through Art Prize locations in Grand Rapids, MI. Each team has a "passport" to record completed checkpoints. Some checkpoints include "Amazing Race" type challenges. The goal is to "maximize the number of checkpoints on your passport within the time limit."

Why it's one of my favorites: 1) You get to race with a friend. 2) Experience Art Prize in a fun, challenging and unique way! 3) A great introduction to Adventure Racing 4) You don't have to be the fastest to do well in this race. Other attributes such as teamwork, navigation skills, and creative thinking are equally important.

Details: Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: Art Prize Edition
September 29th
Ah-Nab-Awen Park

p.s. I just heard a rumor of a Zombie Apocalypse coming to West Michigan in October . . . check back next week for #2 for further details.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

North Country

A few days ago I rode North Country Trail. I could not believe how much time has passed since the last time I was out there. I wouldn't be surprised if it was back in the early fall of 2011.

NCT holds a special place in my heart. It's one of the trails where Chad first took me mountain biking almost 10 years ago. At that time mountain biking was a terrifying, death-defying adventure. Chad and I would only go on the trails 2-3 times a year, usually in the fall when his work schedule would slow down a bit. The leaves on the trees would just be turning dark purple, red and orange.

Getting ready at the trail head I would be covered in goose-bumps, more from anxiety than the chilly autumn air. A simple 8-mile ride would be an all day event. Chad was lucky if I could get to a top speed of 7-8 mph and I would need a break every mile just to let my nerves settle.

We'd end the ride with a stop at Heritage Farm Market for Apple Cider and homemade baked goods then cruise home listening to 10,000 Maniacs. Those were the early years.

More recently NCT has come to be one of my favorite trails—not only for the memories but because it's not a loop. The North Country Trail is "America's longest National Scenic Trail stretching 4,600 miles from New York to North Dakota, linking 7 states, 10 National Forests and more than 150 public lands." Even though time and responsibility always draws me back, there is a sense when I'm out there that I could just keep on riding. The twists and turns weave forward unlike many trails where each rotation of the crank essentially pulls you back to the parking lot.

Now that we have young kids, Chad and I rarely have a chance to ride together. It's bittersweet to ride at NCT alone, thinking back 10 years ago and our stops for Apple Cider. What was once a place of nervous jitters is now an open road of solitude, reflection and a place to clear my head.

One of my favorite pictures from NCT, US10 Trail.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Merrell Lithe Glove Review

I had so much fun tinkering around attempting to make my Salsa video, that I thought I would make another one for this review.

For more technical information on the Merrell Lithe Glove shoe, click here.

Retails: $125
Socked vs. Sockless: wear socks, it will prevent chaffing from sweaty feet.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Reveal Your Path Postcard Contest / Merrell Trails Update

A while ago I entered Salsa Cycles Reveal Your Path Postcard Contest and yesterday they revealed the winners. And, guess what, I won something: skewers! I admit, I am excited about some Salsa skewers. On their blog post they mentioned there were some entries that "struck a special chord" with them. Those people also recieve a limited edition Salsa print by artist Adam Turman. I'm one of them!!! And so is fellow Michigander entrant Jill Martindale!

Jill's postcard, I think it is very beautiful and creative. Well done!

I'll post pictures when it arrives. I can't wait!

I also pieced together a video for their video contest. I mean, they are giving away an Alaskan Beach Riding Adventure AND a Ti Mukluk Complete. How could you not enter?!?!? Below is my entry with special appearances from friends in the Family Bike club. 

So . . . it's not really done in Salsa's style . . . and it's hokey (a LOT hokey). But I'm hokey, so it kind of works for me. I can't help but smile when I watch this video: it makes me think of all the places I've gone, people I've met, all the things that I've accomplished, and where I will go all because I first rode a bicycle. Even though I definitely get an "E" for effort, I know its not really epic worthy of an Alaskan Adventure. But maybe I'll get lucky and the winner will be chosen by a random drawing (please?). :-)

Merrell Trails

Merrell Trails is changing their work nights from Wednesday to Mondays. This is great news for me because it no longer conflicts with Family XC Bike Club night. All I need to do now is convince my Mom to babysit Monday evenings. Mom, what say you?

They also posted this great video:

And they've updated their FB page with more photos. Did I not mention that I CANNOT WAIT TO RIDE THERE?!?! I think I have.

And, here is an article on the Merrell Trails.

If you haven't done it already, go to their FB page and 'Like' them. You can support the work they are doing at Merrell Trails and the WMMBA by going to this page and making a donation (scroll down and click on the button: "Donate Now!"