Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Holland Hundred 2017

Saturday was the most perfect cycling day in a long time. The temperatures were cool. The wind was non-existent. The riding partners were fun. It was a great day.

Our happy little pace line.
The Holland Hundred is a decades long cycling tradition in West Michigan. I've ridden it several times, usually with our JDRF team mates. This year we had a couple dozen folks who started out at various times with various distances in mind. Our group of eight decided on the metric century. A metric century is 100 kilometers, or 62 miles. The posted distance at HH was 67 miles. The actual distance was closer to 71 miles. That was my longest ride of the year by almost 30 miles. I felt pretty good all day. I did have one hill that gave me trouble, and my knees were pretty sore by the end, but i think I could have done 100 miles if I had to.

Part of proper training is knowing just how much to push yourself. While I think I could have done the full century I didn't want to push for that many miles and risk overextending myself and setting back my training. 71 miles was just right and I had something left at the finish. This lets me know that in five weeks I'll be ready to go for the full 100 in Colorado.

39 days until JDRF Ride #13.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A nice ride and a minor injury

First the nice ride. Mary and I both had the day off today. So we took advantage of the beautiful late Spring day and rode the White Pine Trail north to Sand Lake. Apparently it was "Retiree Cycling Day" on the WPT. Practically every cyclist we saw on the trail was older than we are. Admittedly we were out riding in the middle of the afternoon on a Monday, so most of the younger folks were probably working. It was kind of cool to see dozens of older folks on their bikes.

As rides go it was pretty uneventful. 36 mile round trip with a stop for lunch at Rockford Brewing Company. We did climb the Childsdale Hill on the way home, because we need to get more hill work to be ready for Colorado.

Now on to the minor injury. On Thursday night I was going to do a quick 15-20 mile solo ride. I was about two miles from my house on Belmont Avenue when something kicked up from under my front wheel and hit me in the left shin. In the brief flash that I saw, it I thought it looked like a lens from a pair of eyeglasses. I was concerned that it might have damaged my front tire. So I pulled over and examined the tire. It was fine. I happened to glance down at my left shoe and saw that my sock had turned red with blood. The cut was only about an inch wide, but bleeding like crazy. Luckily there was a nice woman (Thanks Deb) at the house I stopped in front of. She helped me put a bandage on it. We both thought it looked like it might need some stitches, so I decided to ride home.

My shin and the 4 stitches.
When I got home I noticed the the edges of the bandage were starting to turn red, so it was time to head to Urgent Care. As I was sitting in triage the blood started pouring out from under the bandage. They changed that, but it bled out again in the patient room. Apparently I had nicked an artery and no amount of pressure or bandages were going to stop the bleeding. The doctor put four stitches in my shin and that did the trick. It was amazing that a tiny cut could bleed that much. Luckily it doesn't bother me to ride, but I can't submerge it for 10 days which means no swimming. So it's not my worst cycling injury, but it may be the silliest.

"My scars tell a story. They are a reminder of the times that life tried to break me, but failed."  
- Steve Maraboli


Monday, June 12, 2017

Hot rides

Even though summer is still officially a week away, the temperatures have been quite summer-like recently. Being this hot before the body has acclimated can make for some strenuous riding. No complaints though, I love hot weather.

On Friday I rode out to my parent's farm, north of Lowell. I take Cannonsburg/5 Mile Road when I go out there. It can be a busy street, but it has a wide shoulder and gets lots of cycling traffic. However, on Friday there was lots of vehicular traffic, more than you'd expect in the middle of a workday afternoon. It was a 32 mile round trip with over 1,100 feet of climbing. It doesn't seem like that much elevation gain when you're driving in a car, but we've learned that cars and bikes see the road differently.

Yesterday we had a JDRF team ride that left from Wahfield Park at 8 Mile and Alpine. It was very hot (90+ degrees) and windy (15 mph steady with gusts). But we had a good turnout and rode past the apple orchards of Alpine Township on our way to the Musketawa Trail and the city of Ravenna. The weather was not our friend, but we had a nice pace line and kept up a pretty good clip through most of the ride. We rode through three different counties, Kent, Ottawa, and Muskegon. In all, 44 mile with just over 800 feet of climbing.

I keep mentioning the amount of elevation gain, because our JDRF Ride in August will be in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and we'll have over 5,000 feet of climbing to do on that one. So hill training is critical right now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

Tom and Mary enjoying the beach in South Haven at the ride halfway point.
For the past three decades we have been getting together with the Hayes family on Memorial Day weekend. We had big group camp-outs, hung out at their cottage, gone hiking and boating, and played volleyball and many other sports. Susan and Elvin are also very into cycling, so when we visit their cottage we like to brings our bikes. On Sunday we did a ride with them that was absolutely glorious.

The Hayes cottage is on Paw Paw Lake in southwestern Michigan. We rode the backroads from the cottage to the beach in South Haven. It was sunny and cool, with fairly light winds. It was the perfect day to ride. It was one of those times where cycling felt absolutely effortless. We rode 36 miles in all and could have done more.

The Lake Michigan beach was also beautiful. Lots of boats cutting across the water. Not very many swimmers however, since the water temperature was only 58 degrees. After some time admiring the scenery we headed back, making part of the trip along a new trail that runs from South Haven to Van Buren State Park. We even chatted with a couple of park rangers about the trail when we got to the park.

In addition to the ride we also played a fair amount of volleyball and ate some very good food. All in all it was a fantastic holiday weekend.
The channel at South Haven State Park.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sunday, Sunday

The Spring has been a bit bi-polar. 70 degrees and sunny one day, snow storm the next. Luckily the last two weekends have given us the 70 degree part. Perfect for riding bikes. Mary and I got out and did a little riding on the local rail trails.

Last week we did the Heartland Trail up in Greenville. We rode it once last year and really enjoyed it. The trail runs from Greenville to Alma, but we haven't ridden the whole thing yet. Last Sunday we just rode 20 miles. It's still early in the season and we are trying to ramp up slowly and smoothly. The exciting part was coming across a farmer that was burning the wild grass in his field right along the trail.

Two days ago we rode the White Pine Trail from our house up to 13 Mile Road. We then took Summit Road back into Rockford. We rode along the rain swollen Rogue River and buzzed into town on a nice curvy downhill. It was a beautiful day, which meant the trail was very busy with other cyclists, rollerbladers, and runners. We've done all flat rides so far, so I'm thinking our next ride will need to incorporate some hills.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Riding outside in February?

The unseasonably warm weather in Michigan the last few days allowed us to get outside on our road bikes. Mid 50's and sunny in February is fantastic riding weather.We actually got out for two rides this weekend.

On Saturday Mary and I met up with Pam and her son Chad from our JDRF team. We rode an easy 15 miles north on the White Pine Trail to Rockford. It was my second time riding this year and Mary's first so we just wanted something simple to start to slowly get back into cycling shape.

On Sunday Mary and I rode south on the White Pine Trail to Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. There were a lot of people out on the trail. Quite a few cyclists, some families out walking, and a roller-blader or two. We rode a total of 17 miles. I don't remember ever riding two days in February before, much less two consecutive days. Nice to get the season off to an early start.

Two days riding on the WPT also makes me ask this question. Am I the only one that didn't get a fat bike for Christmas?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Welcome to 2017

We have signed up for another new JDRF ride this year. A large portion of the West Michigan team, including Mary and me, will be heading to Loveland, Colorado on August 24-27. This will be our 13th consecutive year of riding to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

According to the JDRF web site: "Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado just 45 minutes north of Denver, Loveland is the perfect base camp for all your Northern Colorado adventures. Hailed as the Gateway to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, Loveland is an ideal location that appeals to all types of cyclists. This Ride will offer multiple route options ranging from 32 to 100 miles of rolling hills and scenic views!" We were also told by our coaches that the ride will feature 5,000 feet of climbing. So it looks like we'll be doing a lot of hill training this summer.

Speaking of training, I got out for my first ride of the year today. This was an atypical January day for Michigan. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 50's. Great riding weather, especially since I was wearing the new cold weather gear I got for Christmas. I put in 15 miles on the White Pine Trail. There were lots of other people out on the trail. When I got back into our neighborhood there were several kids out riding very shiny bikes. Christmas presents being taken out for the first time I would guess.

In closing, the JDRF Ride is a fundraiser and we'd appreciate your support. You can donate to Tom by clicking here, or donate to Mary by clicking here. Thank you.