Wednesday, October 2, 2019

5 x 35

When you train a lot and ride long distances for a cause, sometimes it's nice just to do a fun ride. Last Saturday was one of those. A group of us rode the White Pine Trail, stopping at breweries along the way. We did a couple of rides similar to this a few years ago and we finally were able to get folks together to do it again.

Cedar Springs Brewing - the halfway point
The 5 x 35 is 35 miles of riding with stops at five breweries along the trail. Our friend Susan and Elvin from Chicago (the originators of the idea) came up to join us. It was rainy in the morning, but by the time we pulled out of Comstock Park at noon the rain had stopped, although it was still a little damp. As the day went on the weather warmed and the sun came out. It was a beautiful day to ride.

For the first stop we didn't even get out of Comstock Park. It was three miles to the Bier Distillery. This stop required us to hop off the WPT and cut thru a small side path and across West River Drive. Bier Distillery makes beer and spirits. We had a drink and got back on the trail heading north to Rockford.

Stop 2 was at Depot 36, part of Kayla Rae Cellars. They make mostly wine, but a couple of beers as well. Rockford was full of people participating in Harvest Days. Anyone want to build a scarecrow?

We stopped for lunch at Cedar Springs Brewing, our turnaround spot. At this point we were 16.5 miles into the ride. We sat out on their back patio and drank German beers and ate giant pretzels in the sunshine.

On our way back south we stopped at Rockford Brewing. Because of Harvest Days they had a beer tent set up, which meant music and a party atmosphere. Also, in my humble opinion, this was some of the best beer of the day.

We finished up back in Comstock Park at Elk Brewing. We had started the ride at noon and it was now after 6:30 p.m., which means it was almost dark when we left the brewery. Luckily it was only a mile back to the cars and there are street lamps along that section of the trail. All in all, a great day and were looking forward to the next one.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saratoga Spring Ride Report

Mary and I getting ready to start our 15th JDRF ride.
The ride was great. Getting to Saratoga Springs was anything but. I don't want to go into a lot of detail, but because of weather in Chicago we missed our connection and ended up spending over 10 hours in O'Hare airport. We finally checked into our hotel room shortly before midnight, so we lost our entire Thursday prep day.

On Friday morning we had the rules of the road meeting. There were almost 400 riders at this JDRF ride and 30 of them were from our Michigan team. We then did a quick shakedown ride to make sure the bikes were in good shape after their trip. In the afternoon a group of us went into the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains for a short hike. We hiked around Lake Bonita, a 2.5 mile jaunt. The scenery was beautiful. There was one spot where we stopped and sat on a big rock that sloped into the lake.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy with the threat of light rain. Mary and I decided on different goals for the day. I was going to try for the century (100 miles) and Mary wanted to try the metric century (100 kilometers). We ended up getting separated right after the start line. The group I was riding with was moving a little faster, so I would see Mary's group rolling into the break points as my group was rolling out. Our group kept adding riders, and as we left break point 3 (about 42 miles in) there were 10 of us. We also decided that we needed a team name. Because of things that happened Thursday (while I was in the airport) we became Team Grandpa Shots.

Team Grandpa Shots at Break Point 3
The route was very hilly. That shouldn't be a surprise since we were riding on the southern edge of the Adirondacks. There was over 4000 feet of climbing. Normally I'm a pretty decent climber, but in the second half of the ride I could hardly climb at all. I developed pain on the top of my calves on both legs. The entire Grandpa Shots team passed me on every climb. On the downhills I was doing great. In fact I was coasting past people who were already pedaling at the bottom of the hills. But then we'd start going up again and I would slow to a pace that barely kept me upright. I'm not sure what was happening, but I stayed with the team and moved closer to my goal.

We finished as a group about 10 hours after we started. Another century ride in the books. Mary had a finished her metric century two hours earlier and was waiting for me, already showered and changed. The Michigan team did very well. We had six people that set personal distance records. But most importantly, the ride raised $1.5 million for diabetes research.

This marked the 15th year and 15th ride for Mary and me. Thank you to everyone that has donated this year and for the past decade and a half. Because of you, we will one day soon be able to celebrate the end of Type 1 diabetes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Last Ride Before Saratoga Springs

Yesterday afternoon I did a 25 mile solo ride on the White Pine Trail, traveling north to 17 Mile Road in Cedar Springs before turning around. Since my new Cannondale Topstone is on it's way to Saratoga Springs (as I will be tomorrow) I had to ride my 15 year old Cannondale SR500. It is amazing how quickly I have adapted to my new bike. I knew that my old bike was, well, old, but I didn't realize how much better the new bike is. On the first stop on the old bike I really noticed the lack of disc brakes. I had to work a lot harder to stop the bike. Speaking of working harder, the old bike just isn't as smooth as the new bike. 15 years and over 15,000 miles probably have a lot to do with that. I'm really looking forward to being on the new Cannondale this weekend.

That's right, this weekend is what we've been training for all year. We registered back in January, did a some perfunctionary indoor training in February and March, and then got outside in April. It's been a hit or miss year for riding because of the weather. I've only got 900 miles in so far and my goal was to be well over 1,000 before we headed out to New York. Oh well, I still feel pretty good and think I'll be able to ride the full century.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to support our ride this year. If you'd like to make a donation to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes please click here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sartoga on the Horizon

Back in January we signed up for our 15th JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. This time we'd be riding in Saratoga Springs, New York. The town is in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, an area I'm quite familiar with. I've gone rock climbing and hiking out there, but never ridden a bike. In April we started our training. It was tough to get a lot of miles in this spring because it seemed to rain every day. Once summer hit we were able to ride more often and in July we purchased new Cannondale bikes. After 15 years in the same saddle it was time.

Now we are just over two weeks away from the ride. We leave for New York in 15 days. This is always the part of the season where the questions start popping into my head. Did I train enough? Can I do 100 miles this year? Am I going to make my fund-raising goal? How is my bike getting to the starting line? Usually a deep breath and the knowledge that I've done this before calms my mind.

So, on September 14th, Mary and I will be mounting our bicycles in Saratoga Springs for our 15th ride. I have fond memories of the previous 14 and I'm sure this one will create more of the same. If you've already made a donation - I thank you. If you'd still like to donate you can click where it says Donate to Tom in the upper left hand corner of this page.

Riding to turn Type One into Type None.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Riding the gravel

Since we bought gravel bikes it makes sense to ride some some gravel. Sunday we headed north on the White Pine Trail, something we do often. But our farthest north point has always been Sand Lake, because that's where the pavement ends. However, on our new bikes that doesn't matter. We kept riding north on the now cinder and gravel trail bed. The Topstones handled very well. It was slower on the gravel than on the pavement, and a little bumpier, but we were able to keep going with ease. Something we couldn't have done with our skinny tire bikes. We rode past the little burg of Pierson and turned around in Howard City. We then stopped at Cedar Springs Brewing Company for a pretzel and a pint (and a few chicken wings). When we arrived at home we'd put 50 miles under our tires, with 14 of those being on gravel. These bikes are really going to open up our cycling opportunities. We talked about several trails we've seen where these bikes would be perfect. Travel awaits.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

New bikes

After 14 years and thousands and thousands of miles it was time for us to get new bikes. My black Cannondale SR500 and Mary's pearl and blue Bianchi have been thru a lot. Fourteen JDRF rides, including seven in Death Valley. We've climbed small, medium, and large hills. Ridden thru rain and sand storms. Suffered thru 38 degree cold and 100 degree heat. We've both had serious crashes. (Only one of us ended up in the hospital.) Our trusty steads have taken us to a wonderful variety of places, but it's time for them to be retired.
So this week we picked up new bikes from our shop sponsor Alger Bikes (Thanks Mike Clark). They are Cannondale Topstone 105s. They are both dark gray. Mary's has pink accents because of the cake shop. Mine has blue accents because most of my riding clothes have blue in them. They are gravel bikes, which means they are road bike frames with wider forks to accommodate fatter tires. This comes in handy when hitting a piece of gravel road or on the unpaved portions of the White Pine Trail. We've taken them out a couple of times. The gearing is different than our previous bikes, so that will take some getting used to. Also, different saddles mean different pressure points on the posterior. All in all, we are very happy with the bikes and look forward to riding them for many years to come.

Seven weeks to Saratoga Springs.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

First day of Summer

Yesterday was a beautiful day, warm and sunny with light breezes. A perfect day for a ride and to complete a goal. This spring the weather has been pretty crappy, so I haven't ridden the amount of miles that I normally would. At the start of the day I needed 26 miles to hit 300 for the season so far. So I made it a goal to get to 300 miles on my afternoon ride. I started by heading south to the credit union to cash a check. I then came back north across the Jupiter bridge, taking advantage of the new bike lane. Then it was onto the White Pine Trail. I rode all the way to Indian Lake Road before turning around. On the way back I stopped at Rockford Brewing to have a pint outdoors on their trail side deck. After that little reward for closing in on my goal, it was a short five miles home. 26 miles in total and exactly 300 miles for this year.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Little Rides

The weather this Spring has not been cooperative to getting any long rides in. I've done several 15 to 25 mile rides, but nothing longer than that. It seems that every weekend, when we could out and get a 30 or 40 miler, it's been cold, rainy, or both. We've also been gone a bunch. So I'm trying to make do with stacking the shorter rides. This week I got out on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Now that it's the weekend -that's right- cold and rain. Our JDRF ride is in 3 months. I hope I'm ready by then.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

First Team Ride of 2019

Another post about firsts. This time it was our first JDRF team ride of the year. This past Sunday was one of the better days we've had this spring. By that I mean it wasn't raining. Lots of cold and wet so far this season. Temperatures were in the mid 50's and the wind was swirly but fairly light. The ride started in the Holland suburbs and tracked thru the villages of Overisel and Jamestown. It was a 25 mile loop and was the longest ride so far this year for Mary and me. After we rode, we ate. It is a bit of a tradition with the west Michigan team to hang out after team rides and have food, drink and camaraderie. We like that tradition.

4 months until we ride in Saratoga Springs.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

First Ride with Mary

Mary on the unintentional river crossing.
Monday was the first ride of the year for Mary and I as a duo. We took the White Pine Trail north, all the way to 13 Mile Road and back. That's a 17 mile round trip. The weather was beautiful again. It feels great to be riding when it's sunny and warm. We both realized that we don't have our riding legs yet. But that's why we are training.

On the day before we went hiking instead of riding. There is a nice set of trails at Lamerouex Park, along the Grand River. In a couple of places there was river where the trail should be. On more than one occasion we had to get creative in order to continue the hike and not backtrack. We even did a little bridge building. The total hike was 3.3 miles. I guess we should have gone for a swim on Tuesday to complete the triathlon.

I also did a solo mountain bike ride on Wednesday on the Rouge River Nature Trail. It's the closest trail to home so I can ride my bike there. A little bit over 4 miles on that route.