Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I couldn't believe when I looked at my Strava calendar that it had been several, you read that right, SEVERAL weeks since I had ridden at Owasippe. Oops! 

So on Friday evening my parents watched the kids and I, after work, after getting groceries and being locked out of the house, followed by an hour of sitting in the camper eating microwave popcorn and watching Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by Chad rescuing me and unlocking the house, went to Owasippe. 

And because Chad had to leave work early (5:30) he decided to blow off the rest of the day and join me! Yay, Date Night! Sometimes crummy situations (like getting locked out) can turn out to be a great thing!

Here are some pictures from one of my favorite places to ride:

While taking this shot I noticed an old cabin across the pond.
I was getting the heebeejeebees  and was too nervous to get a picture, maybe next time!

It's easy to ride the trail, head down, rolling out the miles.
But Owasippe holds too much beauty,  take the time to enjoy the scenery.

Pictures previously taken at Owasippe:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mountain biking is just about the hardest racing there is to do.

Shredding the last single track section before the finish

That's what Chad said yesterday after riding Pando Fall Classic. He also said that to me years ago when I first contemplated racing myself. I didn't really believe him. I mean, seriously, you're on a bike (what's more fun than that?) and you get to sit down (on that bike) for the entire race. It's not like running where you're on your feet, pounding pavement. Mountain bike racing could not possibly be more challenging than running a marathon.

I have since learned my lesson. And if you've done a mountain bike race you know what we're talking about. Mountain bike racing challenges every system in your body: strength, endurance, aerobic and mental focus. It's tough.

My daughter learned that lesson yesterday.

Sage climbing the ski hill to the finish line at Pando

The picture above sums up the entire experience for her: she had to dig deep.

I won't sugar-coat the experience. It was rough. There were tears for 95% of the race. However, given the opportunity to quit, she refused and pushed on.

One of the other girls in her AG, a more "experienced" racer at the young age of 9-10 was waiting at the ski hill for Sage to finish. She cheered her all the way up the climb along with the crowd of spectators and racers that had long earlier finished. Then she congratulated Sage at the finish line. It was a great display of sportsmanship and it meant the world to Sage.

One of the reasons I love mountain biking, especially racing, is that is has pushed me beyond what I thought my limitations were. It takes you so deep into suffering that all you see is black and pain lights up your legs like fire crackers. But somehow you find a way to keep going. It's true what is said at Leadville 100 every year: You are stronger than you think you are and can do more than you think you can do.

At bedtime we talked about what a tough, difficult race she had. It was the hardest thing she has ever done! But she learned something amazing and invaluable about herself: she endured.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Help me decide what to do in 2013!

If you haven't done so yet, please vote!

I'm easily swayed into doing events, so vote on the survey to the right to help me decide what races/events to do in 2013!

Thumbs-up after the first lap of LJ100
A return to LJ100?
It kicked my butt last year. Should I go back to return the favor? (I've been thinking scary thoughts about attempting the NUE Series. If I'm going to put in all that time training for a 100 mile race, I might as well get as much out of my training as possible! Right? I'm right.)

Sub 4 hour Marathon
It's a goal of mine to run a marathon in under 4 hours. Shall I attempt that at Bayshore in Traverse City?

Sounds like a fun event in a beautiful location. Should 2013 be the year I finally commit?

A full Ironman is on my bucket-list. Committing to doing a Half next year would put me on the road to knocking this one of the list.

3rd Annual Skip School to Go Mountain Biking Day (SS2GMBDv3.0)

Snoose on the loose in the woods

It's just about that time of year again: Skip School to Go Mountain Biking Day

Why must we skip school to go mountain biking? It makes it that much more awesome of a day, a day she'll always remember.

And now that Bear can ride his bike there will be a SS2GMBDvB1.0 (Bear's First Annual). Coming Spring 2013.

I'm currently in the "concepting" stages of SS2GMBDv3.0. I need to pick a date and a location. In the past we've ridden at Luton and closed the evening with Ada Bike Shop's Ladie's Night. It was a lot of fun and a good experience for Snoose to meet so many amazing, strong women cyclists. This year we will do something a bit different and not incorporate Ladie's Night. However, I'd like it to be equally special and inspiring for her. I'm not quite sure how to accomplish that. 

If you have suggestions, please let me know. Help a mom out! Thanks!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mountain bike happenings this weekend and beyond . . .

Women's Sport start at Pando, Sept 2011
Pando Fall Challenge MTB Race
Sunday, Sept 23

"MMBA CPS Race: a tough 4-1/2 mile course- technical climbs, technical descents and technical singletrack as well as wide passing areas as well as long bombin' descents,climb up the ski hill on each lap."

After a morning of spiritual rejuvenation and Windmill cookie pig-out at church we'll be loading up the truck and heading to Pando for this fall classic celebrating 25 years of racing! Check out the 1987 November edition of "Bent Rim Bugle" to read about one of first races ever held at Pando.

Chad is getting ramped up to race. He's been racing a mountain bike long before he could shave, skipping school to race nationals or to ride the NCT with friends. And although he wasn't at the first Pando race back in 1987 he has a long history of racing at this venue. He's excited to go back to Pando after a near decade hiatus (getting married and having kids can put a wrench in your race schedule).

The kids and I will be on the sidelines cheering and taking photos. After Chad's race the kids will have a chance to test out their legs in the kids race.

Since we'll be in the area we plan to stop downtown GR to check out ArtPrize. I can't wait!

Now—November 1

It's open, it's awesome, go ride there this weekend! A little rain is great for this trail so don't let that deter you. C'mon out and ride. If you see me on the trail be sure to say "hi!"

Merrell Trails Grand Opening
Merrel Trail, 2908 10 Mile Rd NE, Rockford, MI

Saturday, September 29

Trailhead parking lot.
9:30-10 free Merrell bottles to 1st 100. Register for drawing of thousands of dollars in Merrell gift certificates and shirts. Get free meal & beverage tickets
10-11 grand opening remarks and ribbon cutting
Trail open
11-2 Free lunch catered by Yesterdogs, free Founders beer and beverages. Music by Mike Cramer.
Bring your friends, family, bike and lawn chair

Oceana Gravel Roads
Fall Oceana County Epic Dirt Road Ride
September 29, 9:37 AM

September 29th is the ride date and will start at 9:37am. The routes are 47.5, 25.25, and 16.25 miles…approximately. The roads are in good condition, with only a couple places with deep sand. I will be sending the route maps in a few days. We are on roads, although most of them are dirt, so please be watchful of vehicles.

The start is located on M-20 (south side of the road) approximately 5.5 miles east of US-31. There will be one support vehicle (SAG) driving the course throughout the day.

This is not race, even though some of us do occasionally race each other. I’m hoping for a fun group ride while also getting in a great workout. And as I say this, there will be two sprint points on the long route course. The first sprint is a hill top and the second is a flat sprint. The sprint winner(s) will get a couple 22oz Fat Tires.

Hammering a false flat at Cry Baby
Cry Baby Classic
September 29

9.5 mile course with 3.5 miles of brand new single track added. Hardpack dirt, hilly, wooded, and wide trail sections. New! PRIMES added, free t-shirts for adult racers, improved kid's race, and Friday night pasta dinner, music and pub open at Nubs Nob.

*I did this race its inaugural year and really enjoyed the venue and the course. What is not to love about Petoskey? And I grew up skiing at Nubs Nob, returning was nostalgic. I'm hoping there will be some kind of time-fold warp that weekend so I can hit all three events: Merrell Trails, Oceana Epic Ride, and Cry Baby. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Orchard Beach State Park

Photos of Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee
This photo of Orchard Beach State Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Oh how I have been looking forward to this last weekend of camping. It seems like most of the trips we plan are scheduled around racing, mountain biking, exploring, and trying to cram in so many activities the weekend becomes a kaleidoscope of adventures. Which is awesome. But sometimes I just want to kick my feet up around the campfire and enjoy the view.

Photos of Orchard Beach State Park, Manistee
This photo of Orchard Beach State Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor
This was the view from the front steps of the Camper.

Orchard Beach is one of the smaller State Parks we've visited this summer. It's located in Manistee on Lake Michigan. There isn't a long list of amenities there, but who needs amenities when you have The Lake? That view? It's everything you need. But in case your eyes need a break and your legs become restless there are 2.5 miles of wooded trails to explore or long, hilly stretches of pavement to ride.
While Big M and NCT trails are just 25 minute drive from Orchard Beach this weekend wasn't about that. Not that we didn't ride, we did. We just rolled out from the campsite and headed North on Lakeshore to M-22 before circling back "home." 

We explored the beach every morning while still in our pajamas, in bare feet carrying a mug of coffee. The kids ran up ahead in hopes of finding the best "treasure." This trip didn't yield any Petoskey Stones, I guess we weren't Up North enough. But I did find a handful of beach glass.

4 pieces of beach glass
I made a large batch of Pumpkin Pancakes and topped them with Pecans. We also enjoyed omelets and sausage. Large, indulgent breakfasts are one of my favorite parts of camping. 

In the afternoon the men would suit up for their ride along the Lakeshore. I managed to find a few quite hours to draw in my sketch book. 

When I opened my sketch book I was surprised to see that the last time I had drawn anything was half a decade ago.

"8/18/07" was the last time I picked up a pencil and sketch book to draw anything.
It was an odd feeling, being still and quite for more than an hour. I was uncomfortable. But at the same time it felt good to be drawing again. Hopefully five more years won't have to pass before that sketchbook sees the light of day again.

Saturday night the families gathered around the campfire for songs and storytelling. I made hot cocoa for the kids and we topped them with chocolate mint marshmallows. 

The weekend was perfect in my book. 

p.s. Sorry for all the tripadvisor pictures. We "unplugged" for the weekend: no iPhones or iPods. The one down-side is that we don't have any pictures.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Weekend in Michigan = Camping

Limited Edition Print by Adam Turman for Salsa. I have one of these. 
That's what I'm doing this weekend.
- the tent
+ camper
+ camp chairs
+ friends
+ 5 kids
+ Lake Michigan

It's feeling like fall in Michigan. 
I can't wait to get out of the house and into the State Parks where 
Lake Michigan is my front porch, 
the woods are my den, 
and the campfire the dining table. 
The chili's in the crockpot, 
all the fixins for pumpkin pancakes in the cabinet, 
and gallons of Apple Cider are sitting by the door. 
C'mon five-o-clock.
I'm ready to go.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hill Repeats

Lake Michigan
The weather has been great for riding. Windy, but great. Look at those white-caps on the big lake!

I've been attempting to get back into a structured "training" regime the last few weeks. One workout I've added to my repertoire is hill repeats. I hate hill repeats. Probably because I stink at them. Which is why I should be really doing them . . .

Something that has resonated with me is the concept that training/exercise/activity should be done with "purpose." The purpose can be anything from relieving stress, getting faster, increasing endurance, or working on technical skills/technique.

Every time I begin to exercise I ask myself, what is my purpose? Perhaps I'm doing a casual ride with some friends. That's a great time to work on technical skills: cornering, positioning, etc. Sometimes the purpose of a ride is to simply recover. Other times, like today, it's improving my climbing abilities.

And that's the other thing: my climbing NEEDS improving. I'm a bit like a locomotive. It takes me awhile to get rolling, gain momentum. I am the picture of the Little Engine That Could. Inspiring perhaps, but not pretty and certainly not fast, but eventually I get the job done.

Highest elevation point in Muskegon County (which isn't that high)

The base of the climb.
It was a successful workout in that afterwards my legs were wobbly. I ached with the stress of a body that had been driven to its limits. After beating myself up I recovered with a nice bath and cool chocolate/peanut butter/banana smoothie.

Also, awhile back I mentioned I had won a drawing for a limited edition Exergy Tour jersey. I finally took a picture. Here it is!

I love this jersey! Not only is it a lovely shade of green, but its full zip. FULL ZIP. Every jersey should be full zip. It makes it so much easier when doing a quick-change at the trail head. Trail head you say? But that is a roadie jersey!?! I guess it is. But it's going to be seeing a lot of DIRT.

Happy riding!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another Cyclist in the Family

If you're friends with me on Facebook than you've already had your newsfeed splattered with my gushing over this most recent development. But, for those of you that aren't, this weekend we added another cyclist to the family:

This 3 year old bad-boy has learned to ride his bike without training wheels! This also happens to be the same bike that his good friend Levi learned to ride on when he was 3. Levi, at the tender age of 4 is a rockin' rollin' veteran trail rider. Bear is so excited he'll be able to jump in on the single-track fun with his friend.

A little video of Bear learning to ride. 
Yes, I realize he is not wearing a helmet. I deserve to be blasted for that oversight. It won't happen again!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Yet another trip Up North, pt. 2

Bike Carts, looks like fun. Right? Mmmmhmmmm.

Timber Ridge Resort has a bunch of activities/amenties on site, which is one of the reasons we like camping there. They have a pool, a kids pool for the littlest ones, mini golf, dodge-ball, playground, bike park, and you can rent pedal carts.
2-Person Pedal cart
Tweens and kids flying through the park, giggling and whooping on these 4-wheeled, pedal bikes is a regular site at Timber Ridge. Our kids were begging to rent one.

Being a "cycling" family, Chad and I thought it was a good idea. We rented two. Chad and Bear in one and Sage and I in the other.

Unfortunately there were some unforeseen mechanical issues. First, these were not made for anyone over 5 feet tall. My knees were banging into the steering wheel with every crank of the pedal. If I moved the seat back further to stretch my legs then I couldn't reach the steering wheel. It was a sticky conundrum. But we were doing this for the kids. And just about anything we do "for the kids" requires sacrifice. Bruised and banged up knees it was going to be and I wasn't going to complain about it.

As I mentioned we had witnessed countless tween duets pedaling up and down the roads in these carts. Surely two experienced, strong mountain bike racing adults could adequately, nay, supremely motor the pedal carts at lightening speeds.

Yeah. Not so much.

Sage and I began pedaling away from the lodge and I was immediately taken aback by how much strength and effort it took to move the cart forward. I told myself that once we picked up some momentum it would get easier.

It didn't. And that was on a gradual descent.

We came to our first hill (maybe 3 feet of elevation gain with a 1% grade) and the cranks nearly came to a halt. I had to put every fiber of strength I had into each, painstakingly slow drive to the pedal. It was brutal. Thankfully I have some pride because if I didn't I would have gotten out and pushed the darn thing up the hill. It would have been faster.

By the time our 30 minute rental was up I felt like I had raced Iceman thrice over then had my hamstrings battered with a meat tenderizer.

If Iceman ever wanted to up-the-ante, all they would have to do is host pedal-cart races around Timber Ridge. I hope they seriously consider adding this event. The campground would be littered with deflated egos.

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Typically we squeeze every once out of a vacation as possible. The campgrounds tend to kick campers out around noon on check-out day but there is still so much "day" left to be enjoyed! We often pay for an extra night just for the privilege of being parked past dinnertime.

I found a handful of Petoskey stones during our trip!

However, we are now the parents of a First Grader and with school starting the next day, we decided to pack up and head home at the allotted check-out time.

But that didn't stop us from making a small detour.

Earlier this summer I went on a trip with some friends to Glen Arbor and experienced Sleeping Bear Dunes for the first time. I wanted to share this amazing place with my family.

We cruised over to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and parked the truck and camper in Glen Haven. This was an optimal location to allow us to hike to the Ghost Forest and then ride our bikes on the Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail.

Chad and Bear hiking the "Dunes" trail.

We stopped in the shade for a picnic lunch.

After our hike we rode the bike path. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures! Doh. Here is a picture I found online:

Currently 8 miles long. Eventually it will be 27.
Of course after all of that hiking and biking we had to . . . 

. . . Refuel and recover.

By this time evening was drawing near and we had already blown well beyond our intended departure time. What the heck, let's hit the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive!

One of the Scenic Overlooks. Just beyond where they are standing is a 450 foot vertical drop. 
Many tourists were running down the dune than clawing, crawling, and crying their way back up. The brochure warns that it takes minutes to descend and well over 90 minutes to climb back up. Growing up on the coast of Lake Michigan I am well aware of how difficult it is to climb a sand dune. We had no desire to attempt that feat with two tired kids. Instead we stayed on top and enjoyed the immense view.

What better place to see a "sleepy Bear" than at Sleeping Bear Dunes?

Here is a blogpost about cycling Pierce Stocking from Morancity.

With one more Grand family adventure in the books it was time to go home. . . . Until the next time anyways. We have several more family camping trips planned this year and I can't wait. Nothing tops Michigan in the Fall!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Yet another trip Up North

It has become a family tradition to head North for the summer bookend holidays. This Labor Day weekend we followed suit packing up the camper, the bikes, pancake supplies, and some special edition Fat Tire Amber Ale then pointed the truck North on US-31.

New Belgium Brewing "Pedaling Straight to the Great Lake State"

As we approached Ludington we saw a rather startling site:

Wind Turbines. This picture does not impress the gross stature of these beasts. I don't plan on starting a debate on this issue, all I'm going to say is that I was startled by the physical, unnerving reaction I had to the large, unmoving turbines. I wondered if this is what it felt like to watch the first power-lines be erected nearly a century ago?

Onward North!

Our final destination was Traverse City. We parked the camper at one of our favorite campgrounds Timber Ridge Resort.

Our home

Why is it one of our favorite campgrounds you ask? I'll tell you why:

Mountain Biking: you can ride from your campsite to the VASA Single Track trail. And/or you can ride the VASA Pathway (two tracks and cross country ski trails). We keep several copies of the GTMTBA Traverse Area Trail maps in our camper, they are extremely helpful when navigating the trail system in Traverse City. You can order your own copy here.

Really, that's the only reason it's our (i.e. Mom and Dad's) favorite campground. However, the kids have a few reasons of their own:
  • The Swimming Pool
  • Planned Activities such as crafts, games, dodgeball
  • The Candy Cannon
  • Glow Parade 
  • Bike Go-Carts
  • Playground
  • and the Bike Park (the kids can spend hours here)

VASA Single Track

GTMTBA Trail Map : VASA Pathway

Saturday morning, after making half-inch thick, saucer size pancakes for the family, I kissed them good-bye and rolled out in search of the VASA (this is where the GTMTBA map comes in handy). To get to the singletrack from Timber Ridge you have to navigate first the Timber Ridge Trails, then the VASA Pathway, across the power lines sand pits, and onward to the single track. 

My Garmin map: riding from Timber Ridge to the Single Track
The VASA is close to 13 miles. Riding from Timber Ridge and back makes it approx. a 16 mile ride. 

There's not much climbing, only 283 of elevation. It makes for a fast and flowy ride. 

An 11 mph average is decent for me, especially since this was only my third time riding the VASA in as many years. I was happy with my morning jaunt in the woods.

The trail had more sand and erosion than I remembered but it was manageable and allowed me to practice the "neutral" hand grip and "heavy" feet stance. This technique has immensely improved my ability to ride through Michigan's notorious deep sugar sand. 

There is one section of the VASA that I have always found unnerving. It's a tight, narrow, gradual descent with 180 degree turns. Imagine trying to navigate a 29er through a life-sized paperclip chain—that's what it's like. Typically I wobble and weave through the turns, bumping into trees and putting a foot down here and there to steady myself. This time, however, I was pleased and surprised to find myself steadily and confidently rolling right on through. 

Why the change? Remember a couple of weeks ago when I participated in the Muskegon Lip Dub? Well, we had a lot of down time to kill between practicing and filming. The police had blocked off the roads with narrowly spaced bright orange cones. What better way to spend my time than by doing bike drills? I utilized the orange cones and practiced tight turns on bike. This short amount of practice reaped a significant improvement in my bike handling skills.

I even managed to snag QOM on Strava for the VASA Single Track Climb segment. Although I suspect that's only because there are a whole lot of women in Traverse NOT using Strava. 

Stay tuned for more Up-Northness coming your way tomorrow! . . .