Thursday, May 7, 2015

Earthquakes and Stampedes

Good Morning, Readers!


Last week was an exciting one, as far as weeks go. Certainly the talk around West Michigan has been the 4.0 earthquake centered several miles south of Galesburg.

It just so happens that we were camping at Fort Custer State Park in Galesburg when the earthquake quaked(?). And let me tell you, it was noticeable. We were surrounded by RV's that are not all that stable, so when the earth shook, they were rocking and rolling. Mostly rocking. All of them rocking and none of them literally rolling.

Sage, who was inside the camper at the time, was knocked to the ground thinking the RV was collapsing. She ran outside and asked Chad if we had an earthquake, at which point he replied "no, we don't have earthquakes in Michigan." Children, let this be a lesson that parents are not always right.

Shortly thereafter emergency sirens sounded and military helicopters were flew overhead. It was disconcerting but, thankfully, turned out to be no more than an interesting story to share.

For geeky information on the earthquake, check out WZZM's Bills Blog.


The annual Fort Custer Stampede mountain bike race was held on Sunday. Sage raced Beginner 10 and Under, Bear competed in the children's race, and Chad made a return to Sport.

Sage and Chili Dog at the Beginner 10 and Under Start. Look at all the awesome kids!

This was the first race of the season for the family and I'm happy to report that everyone had a blast. Sage was excited for the race swag. But as a parent, the best part is seeing the perma-smile when she crosses the finish line.

Bear was all business at the Kid's Race

While Sage was set on racing all weekend, Bear, on the other hand, insisted he wasn't going to. Bear and I planned to hang out at the campground. That changed 30 minutes before the start of the kids race. Bear and I were sitting around the campfire when he suddenly jumped up and started bouncing excitedly. He was struck with the urge to race.

We rode our bikes as fast as we could from the campground to the race venue (2-3 miles) and arrived just in time. I rarely see such a look of determination etched on his face. When they said "go," he stood and hammered for the entire two laps.

Both kids are looking forward to the next race and can't wait for Dirt Dawgs to start. The Brewer Family's next stop will be the Hanson Hills Challenge in Grayling. Look for us in the large Jayco. And it appears that I will be making a return to racing. I can't wait.

A few more photos from the weekend:

Sage is working on mastering the log pile.
No pollution. No signs. Just the trail and nothing to be bothering me. --Bear

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you on the trails,

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.


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 discovered that what I thought was the fossil imprint was actually hand writing. Someone had written the message "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.