Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy New Year!

A new year, a new home, a new employer and new goals. That sizes up in 2009 in a nutshell.

Weather wise, 2009 got off to a great start. The first five days of the year (days I just happened to be home) started off to be just beautiful, sunny skies and above normal temperatures (see picture). All of my Michigan friends I'm sure are tired of my Polly Anna weather forecasts, and although it's not Florida in the wintertime here.... it beats the heck out of Michigan.

The upcoming week will be a busy one for me, I'm moving again. Not far though, just to the other side of the building and from the 1st floor to the 3rd. I'm leaving my parking lot view to a pool/tennis court view and views of the surrounding countryside. A much nicer apartment. Along with moving, I'll have to stay focused on my training.... as in less than two weeks, I'm doing some insane 50 mile Cyclo-Cross race in the mountains of Georgia. I've never raced that kind of distance in January, so it'll be interesting to see how I do.

As most of you know, Delta Airlines merged with Northwest Airlines this past year. The full integration begins in 2009, with training on each others aircraft and learning new service standards. I know a lot of people at NWA are a bit nervous about the transition, but I for one am looking forward to it. For the last 10 years or so, NWA has been an absolutely horrible company to work for. NWA used bankruptcy (no government bailouts for our industry by the way) as a tool to slash our pay and benefits to a tune of over a 40% reduction in compensation, I am one that's happy to see them gone.... good riddance NWA. The employees over at Delta seem to be pretty happy, they've been without unions their entire existence.... so that says a lot. Anyway, I'm looking forward to working for Delta and what it'll bring in the next year.

And what would it be for me to not mention Leadville, of course I'm going back (pending acceptance of my application). This year will be number 8, and my first and foremost goal is to be better than I was last year. I'd still of course like to break that 8 hour mark, and throughout my training this year that will be my focus.... but if I'm faster than 8:58:58, that will make me happy as well.

That's it for today. Happy Trails and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Best time of the year.

My first autumn in North Carolina, and wow it's beautiful. I'm not sure if it's just this year or like this every autumn, but the colors here have been just amazing. I've always thought the mountains in Colorado were the most beautiful, but this autumn.... the color in the North Carolina mountains has just blown the Rockies away.

I've been getting out and doing some riding this autumn, sometimes by myself and other times with a few guys from the Hickory Velo Club. Mostly shorter, less intense rides of 30-40 miles. I've only been riding a couple days a week, this is usually my down time from cycling.... but the weather has been so perfect lately, I just can't pass it up. Last month some cycling buddy's came into town for visits on two separate weekends, Robert Cutts and Will Botens. We had a great time, doing a variety of rides while they were here. I think they both left with pretty favorable opinions of the cycling here and I'm sure they'll both be back for some more riding next year.

I've also been getting out and doing some hikes with Torpedo. Now that the weather has cooled from the summer time heat, we're both enjoying some longer walks. Our favorite hike without a doubt is over at Bakers Mountain, a real nice park with area views of Catawba County from the top.

Well that's it for now, off to Japan this weekend and then back & forth to Amsterdam a few times later in the month. Happy trails. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Whew, that was close!

8 hours, 58 minutes & 58 seconds, whew.... that was close. On Saturday August 9th, I completed my 7th Leadville Trail 100, the grand daddy of the ultra distance mountain bike race. The significance of this years result marked how close I came to NOT getting my 5th "big belt buckle", I nearly missed it as I crossed the finish line with only 1 minute and 1 second in hand. For those not familiar with the race, a time under 9 hours earns the finisher the coveted gold & silver "big buckle" and for those finishing between 9 and 12 hours... one earns the smaller silver buckle. Both are trophies and a testament to ones tenacity over a 100 miles of racing and 12,000 feet of climbing. Everyone who finishes under 13 hours also receives a beautiful finishers medal. The one pictured above is the big buckle, my 5th & I also own two of the smaller buckles. The time I completed this years race is generally considered excellent, but it wasn't one of my better performances and I was bit disappointed. It was a tough day right from the 1st pedal stroke and I wasn't happy with how I rode most of the event, but it was another completed race with only 3 more to go to the 1000 mile gold & silver dinner plate sized belt buckle prize. Next year I hope to be a bit better prepared and conditioned.

The big hoopla this year was the presence of Lance Armstrong racing in the LT100. It was pretty cool having the 7 time champion of the Tour de France at this years race. If you hadn't heard, he finished 2nd to David Wiens.... a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame & former US National Champion. An epic battle for both, with both breaking the previous course record.

All in all, another memorable and awesome trip to Leadville. Next year I'm contemplating doing the race on a cyclo-cross bike, perhaps a highly modified cross bike with disc brakes and a triple chainring.... something fast and strong, we'll see. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and happy trails.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Well if you haven't heard, I sold my house.... again! So far, so good.... everything looks like it should go off without a hitch. My closing is on May 13th, with me hitting the road for North Carolina shortly afterwards. So it looks like it's finally happening, which couldn't make me happier.

Last week I spent 4 days down in Georgia and what a great experience that was. I travelled with friend and teammate Will Botens. We got some great rides in and saw 3 stages of the Tour de Georgia. We saw the Stage 4 Team Time Trial at Road Atlanta, the finish of Stage 5 in Dahlonega and the mountainous Stage 6 up on Hogpen Gap. It was so cool getting close up photos of the best of American cycling. I'll definitely be back next year, and with it only being a few hours away from my new home.... an added bonus.

Last Sunday I raced at the USAC Bloomer Cross Country, which I totally thought I'd have a terrible race at. I ended up finishing a strong 2nd place in the Elite/Expert Single Speed Class. That was all following a 12 hour drive from Georgia on Saturday night and riding and climbing 6,000' on Friday. I felt cooked before the race even started, but I guess I still had something left in the tank. In the end, I'm very pleased of my result.... especially after all the miles I rode so close to race day.

Well, this will be a busy 10 days. Lots of packing and of course.... there's always work, but I'm really looking forward to my move to North Carolina.... now less than 2 weeks. Oh boy.

Happy trails until next time.

Friday, March 28, 2008

This never ending winter!

If a picture could say a thousand words, this one says it all.

As most of you know, the sale of my house fell through less than a week before closing. As you can imagine, extremely disappointing news. It's back on the market, but home sales are slow and I'm not getting many showings. Maybe, perhaps things will pick up soon as I think Spring may be coming... but not really sure after this mornings snowfall.

Earlier in the month I escaped to North Carolina and did some warmer weather training. Rode on the Blue Ridge Parkway one day, over in Hickory a few others, and on my last day over in Asheville with Chris Carmichael (no kidding). Got some great training in, with some nice sustained climbing miles bagged. A great trip all in all. 

The miles are coming this season, but much slower than I'd like... it seems to keep snowing on my days off while home. It even snowed on me in Amsterdam last week, and it rarely snows and accumulates there... maybe it's me? So far my miles are on par with 2007, so I'm a little shorter on fitness than what I'd hoped for. Perhaps April will bring us warmer days.

I've pretty much decided my race schedule for 2008, with season objectives for my better results at the Stony Creek MTB Marathon Race, The Leadville Silver Rush 50 and of course The Leadville Trail 100 (the latter two in Colorado). I'm also planning on racing cyclo-cross in the Fall, at least until it starts getting too cold and wet (snow or rain). I'm becoming a fair weather rider :-)

So please Mr. Weatherman, please bring us some warmer weather. All my bikes and I would appreciate it much. Happy Trails, I hope soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Missing in Action, well... non-action

Well, I've been off on my annual month long non cycling sabbatical. This year I extended my season about 7 weeks beyond my norm of late, and with the colder and shorter days.... I threw in the towel about mid November. I needed this time off from the bike, some time to rest, time to enjoy other things and time to get motivated for the next coming season.

I missed my planned December trip to the CX Nationals in Kansas City.... kind of. I ended up making the trip with no intent to race, but after seeing the horrendous conditions there, I didn't miss a thing. Kudos to the racers who competed there, it just wasn't my cup of mud.

So 2008 is here, with some new goals and inching closer to others. The centerpiece of my season will again be the Leadville 100, this will be my 7th LT 100. I've once again decided to make my goal, the task of breaking the 8 hour mark. In 1999 I missed it by 2 minutes, and by 8 minutes in 2005. I'm not getting any younger (47), so I really feel it has to happen this year. In 2007 I rode the LT 100 on a single speed, with a less than stellar time of 9:33.... a time I wish not to repeat. With that being said, my training will totally evolve around peaking and showing my best form on August 9th. So 7:59:59, here I come!

Also this season I'm planning on doing the Leadville Silver Rush 50, which is run in mid July. Although it sounds like a mini LT 100, it's not even run on the same course.... and as I'm told, it's a much harder course than the LT 100.... just not as long. I think this will prove to be a good tune up for the LT 100, as it falls just 3 weeks before it.

The balance of my season will be a mix of mountain, road & cyclo-cross racing, with a schedule that is still largely undecided. What I do know though, is all of my racing and training with be planned with an eye firmly fixed on the LT 100 on August 9th, 6:30am.

Hope everyone is doing well and had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Until next time, happy trails!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

All in all, not a bad weekend...

This weekend's cyclo-cross competition brought us to Veterans Park in Ann Arbor. This weekend featured Michigan's second doubleheader of the season, on a very physically demanding course. The course featured a nice sized hill that was incorporated into each lap several times, that really took its toll on its participants as the race wore on.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with temps in the mid 50's, very nice cyclo-cross weather. The days winner, Joe Brown took off like a shot right from the start. I eased into the pace getting to the first hill in 5th, but I noticed Joe was still putting the hammer down.... so I had get busy in my chase mode. Well my chase mode wasn't closing on him.... Joe just kept putting more and more time into me, but the good news was my chase was leaving the rest of the racers behind. After finishing the second lap I knew I wasn't going to catch him, so I just rode hard enough to protect my 2nd place. I ended up finishing a very satisfying 2nd, with enough time in hand that I could back off my pace with 1 1/2 laps remaining. I knew I would need to save something for Sunday's race, as I knew it would be a much harder day.

Sunday was a different day for sure. This day was going to be nothing like Saturday, it was cloudy, chilly, the course ran backwards from the day before, an additional lap was added.... and all the big guns were here. Oh boy! The race took off like a speeding bullet, and I decided wisely to follow the fastest wheels.... and I did for a while. We had a nice group of six for the first lap, the farthest distance into a race this year a group this size stayed together. Keith Riege was setting a pretty brutal pace up front, but it was doable initially... but as the race wore on, it was just too fast for me. By the middle of the second lap I was riding behind David Linden, we were 5th and 6th. As we approached the biggest climb on the course, I was pretty confident I could hurt him on the climb and ride away. I was right, and from that point on I rode away from him and the remainder of the chasers. For the rest of the race, I was once again riding to protect my placing. I was losing a little time to the four in front of me, while gaining time on those racing behind. In the end Andy Klumb from Ohio won our race (he raced Pro/Elite the day before), and I rode in with a very solid 5th place.

All in all, it was a good weekend. My fitness is pretty good right now, but it's far from peak. It's such a long season that starts in April and ends in December, and with Leadville in August being my main objective.... I'm pretty much riding on that fitness. Now with the days shorter and colder, it'll be hard to improve on my conditioning.... but if I can maintain this fitness for the rest of the season and maybe if everyone is at their peak form... I might be able to pull off some better results as the season continues on. We'll see, a big if for sure. Two more races (one is the State Championships)  left in Michigan for the point series, and then the National Championships in Kansas City on December 14th. So basically 6 weeks left in this long race season, then it's some much desired couch time for a few weeks before I start preparing for 2008.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Leopard Roars In....

This past Friday, Apple released their latest update to the Macintosh operating system.... Mac OS 10.5 or a.k.a. "Leopard". I've spent the majority of the weekend (oh, I found time to train too) digging around Leopard, discovering all of the new features and finding new enhancements to previous features.... I was like a kid with a new toy. I just read this morning that Apple sold over 2 million copies of Leopard this weekend (my Apple stock is soaring!), and Apple is the only computer company to have double digit growth over the past 12 months. Obviously, people are finally finding out how much better the user experience of the Mac is over Windows.... which I've known for 20 plus years. If you've been on the fence about making the switch.... go visit your local Apple Store, you'll be off that fence pretty quickly. 

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lower Huron CX, October 21, 2007

Well, I've been hemming and hawing on this post for four days now and I still don't know how I really feel about this race. It's not that I had a bad race, maybe it's because I didn't have a great race. It was once again seasonably warmer than average.... which I don't care for, but the other guys had to deal with that as well. It was a beautiful day though.... no torrentail rains, freezing temps or knee deep mud.... which I had really feared two weeks earlier.

It started off pretty well, as I had a nice position on the long headwind straight away behind those who chose to face the wind first. As we hit the grass, I was nicely placed in third position and when we hit the "sand pit".... I moved up to second as total chaos insued behind me as racers went all over the place. I maintained second place behind the then again winner Mark Wolowiec until we got to "the wall".... where I went from 2nd to 5th in about 50 feet. I'm just not a runner, and that run up didn't help me in anyway during the race. From that point on I just pretty much rode a hard steady race, losing a little time to those in front of me each lap.... while putting time on those behind me. I ended up finishing a very uninspiring 5th, a distant two minutes behind the winner.

The 5th place finish puts me in 4th for the Cyclo-Cross Point Series, behind 4 guys that I'll have a difficult time making any ground on.... but the season still has 4 races left, so we'll see.

Next up - Veterans Park in Ann Arbor, November 3rd & 4th.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cycling in The Netherlands

After four cyclo-cross races in three weekends, I earned a well deserved weekend off from racing... and where else better to spend it than in a nation with some of top cyclo-cross racers in the world, The Netherlands.

Without doubt, the best aspect of my job is the opportunity to travel the world on the company's dime. The Netherlands is where I go most often when flying internationally, and for good reason... I have a bicycle there! Cycling in the The Netherlands is nothing short of awesome, great roads and bike lanes without motorists who are trying to run you over.

Our layover hotel is perfectly situated on the north side of Amsterdam, just a short 3 mile ride to the countryside. The Dutch countryside is beautiful, with small villages and farms dotting the Noord Holland landscape. I can get out and do two to three hour training rides without ever stopping... and that's without running stop signs ;-) It's such a short list of places that can offer better areas to train than The Netherlands. The weather is much like Michigan as Autumn and Spring are near identical, but with much cooler summers and a bit milder winters... plus you'll always find a breeze, if not strong gusts (hence all the windmills).

If you ever get a chance to travel there, don't miss the opportunity to ride a bike while visiting... you won't be disappointed for sure.