Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Health and goodness

Rolling with the West Michigan Ride Team
We've reached that point of the season where I'm really starting to feel good on the bike. I've got almost 1000 miles under my wheels and a month and a half to go until the ride in Death Valley. But in today's post I want to talk not about riding, but about nutrition and energy and preparing to ride.

One of things I've noticed about long distance cycling is how in tune you get with your body. You learn what aches and pains you can ignore and which ones might be serious. You learn what you need to eat to perform well on a long ride. You learn about proper hydration and nutrition. When it comes to hydration there's good old water and also sports drinks and energy drinks. Our team has been fortunate to have XS Energy Drinks as a sponsor for several years. XS, unlike so many energy drinks, tastes great and doesn't make you feel jittery. They contain no sugar and low caffeine. They are great before or after a ride. Now we are making XS Energy Drinks available for on-line purchases. Click on THIS LINK or on the side bar link to go to a page I set up for this purpose. This new site will make it easy for you to get any flavor of XS you want. Best of all, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. You can also get what I use for hydration during the ride, Nutrilite Sports Drinks (like Gatorade, but not as sweet and no artificial colors).

Thanks for your support of the JDRF Ride for a Cure.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Let's start off by saying that I am NOT a sprinter. I'm a decent long distance cyclist, but racing isn't really in my skill set. Nevertheless I rode in my first cycling race this past Wednesday at Grattan Raceway. One of the local bike clubs, the Rapid Wheelmen, organizes races there every week throughout the summer. During the month of August they've added a "C" classification to the normal "A" and "B" races. The "C" race was three laps on the 1.8 mile course. That's only 5.4 miles. How hard could that be? Plenty hard.
Wednesday was JDRF night so there a lot of our team mates were there to ride or help out. The night started with a tandem race. Possibly a first ever at Grattan. Two of the three tandems were ridden by JDRFers. Next came the "C" race. I stayed with the pack until the start on the final lap. I don't know what our average speed was, but when I got dropped I was doing 21 mph. Even though I was beaten by almost everyone (including my 16 year old son Ian) I didn't finish in last place. A small non-victory.
The "A" and "B" races got going next. Those guys and gals are really fast. We had four JDRF riders in the "B" group. Unfortunately there was a crash early on in the 16 lap race that took out three of our riders. Luckily no one was seriously injured and the bikes are all repairable.
Even with the crash and my lousy finish it was a great experience. I can now cross "Bike Race" off my bucket list.

Great sunset at the end of a great night at Grattan raceway.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Perfect day to ride

We spent a lot of time in the car over the past few days so it felt great to put some miles under the skinny tires. Mary and I drove to Washington DC on Saturday to bring out a load of our daughter Colleen's stuff. She starting a teaching job there this fall. We spent Sunday seeing the sites in DC and then returned home on Monday. That's a lot of time behind the wheel. So today we went out for a ride on one of my favorite loops. We went up Post Drive to Pine Island and took that to House Road. House is like a roller coaster for bikes. It has rolling hills, lots of turns and is just a blast to ride. We did a short jog on 10 Mile to Jewell, which turns into 11 Mile, which turns into Edgerton. Again, more twists and turns and hills. We crossed US131 on 12 Mile and then went north on Summit to 12 Mile and took the White Pine Trail home. It was a 21 mile loop and we knocked it out in a little over 90 minutes. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too windy, just right.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

7 Mile Hill Training

I didn't have a lot of time to ride tonight so I decided to do a couple of repeats on 7 Mile hill. Normally when we ride up 7 Mile we turn when we get to the top, south on Chauncey or north on Courtland. Tonight I decided to take 7 Mile to it's end. That's only about two more miles but it also sports two more rolling hills. Then at the end of the road I turned around and road back. I did this twice. The second time was a little easier because I was warmed up and I knew I wasn't going to do it a third time. The real interesting part came when I got home. I decided to use MapMyRide to find out just how big those hills are and how much climbing I did in my 12 mile jaunt. Anyone who's ridden up 7 Mile hill with us knows that it's pretty steep. According to MapMyRide it's a Category 5 climb. Granted, Cat 5 is the lowest grade of climbing on a professional bike race, but it is a climb worthy of having a professional bike race category. Here's a link to the elevation profile with the Category 5 explanation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How fast I'm not

I took a late and long lunch today. That was so I could ride my bike, of course. I rode north on the White Pine Trail to Indian Lakes Road and returned home the same way. 23 miles in just under an hour and a half. The wind was swirly so it seemed to be in my face no matter which way I turned. It was a nice ride and since it was the middle of the day the trail was relatively empty.
So I'm cruising north on the trail between Belmont and Rockford.  It's a slight uphill grade and I was feeling good about myself as I was doing about 18-19 mph. Suddenly a voice behind me says "On your left" and a fully kitted cyclist passes me with ease. We nodded to each other and he pulled away like I was Aunt Gladys on a Sofa King. To make matters worse he was older than me. Actually that should give me hope. Maybe I can be fast like him when I get to be his age.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A week of variety

It's always fun when we ride with the Hayes family, our friends from Chicago. We were at their cottage on Lake Paw Paw on Sunday and the second generation is now joining us for rides. Our son Ian and their son Ed both came along for our 30 mile "big loop" around the lake. We called it the big loop because if we stay close to the shoreline it's only 11 miles around the lake. The boys more than kept up with us. A lot of the time they were the ones setting the pace of our six person peleton. The weather was great and we had excellent food, drink and boating post ride.

Mary, Susan and Ian ride past farm field north of Lake Paw Paw.

Susan and Elvin during a quick stop at about mile 20.

On Wednesday evening Ian and I did a sprint ride on the White Pine Trail to the ballpark and back. 14 miles in about 50 minutes. Nothing really to report on that one, just getting some miles in. On Thursday morning I needed to go to the bank so I did that on my bike. Only 2 miles there and back. The mileage of each successive ride this week has gotten considerably shorter. Ian and I had planned on riding this morning, but it's raining. I'll finish a ride in the rain, but I won't start one if I don't have to. I still have lingering bad memories of Killington in 2009.