Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Looking back at 2007

I can't believe that 2007 is almost over. It seems like just a couple months ago I was setting my goals for the 07 racing season. Now I'm doing that for 2008. All in all I think 2007 was a great year. I improved quite a bit throughout the season, met some goals, exceeded some and missed some. My goals were somewhat ambitious for this year, especially considering that in 2006 I really just "got my feet wet" with racing. I really didn't get started with everything until late summer of 06, racing in one mountain bike time trial and two cross country races, as a beginner so the races were about 12-15 miles. I also raced Iceman and did one cyclocross race. I placed really well as a beginner (2 fifths, 1 third, 1 fourth) so I decided for 07 I would move up to sport class.

Not really knowing what sport class would be like I set some goals to complete the Stoney Creek Marathon (a 40 mile mountain bike race), finish top 10 in my sport class (sport men 30-34), race in a 6 or 12hour event, and take 20 minutes off my Iceman time (2006's time was 2hours 30minutes). My first race of the year was a bit of an eye opener, I placed 17th. That made me a little worried about the rest of the season, but after that I started improving my finishes. I did complete the Stoney Creek Marathon, placing 9th in my class. Later in the summer, on my home turf (the Ruby race) I placed 5th. That was my first podium finish in sport class. After that I grabbed two more podium spots (a 4th and another 5th) and a 6th place as well. I ended up finishing the the series in 5th place, much better than the top 10 I was hoping for.

Unfortunately I didn't end up making it out to a 6 or 12hour endurance event this year. Just too busy for a race like that, which pretty much consumes a whole weekend. But I did improve considerably at Iceman. Not the 20 minute improvement I had been hoping for, but I did knock 14 minutes off my time. That was good for 45th out of 105 racers in my class. Iceman, a 27 mile point to point mountain bike race, is one of the coolest events I have ever been to. It's the largest single day mountain biking event in the US, attracting over 2500 racers, plus lots of family and friends. It was really fun this year since we had rented a house in Traverse City that was large enough to allow us to invite our entire team over for dinner the night before the race and for an after party the night following it. Check out the video below on the race. This was produced by my friend Mike, who was the official videographer of the race. He has a lot of talent producing videos like this. Visit him at http://www.mashersmedia.com/ or click the link to his blog on the right.
video

After Iceman I was really bummed to see the mountain bike season come to an end. I did a few cyclocross races this fall. They're a lot of fun, but I still prefer hitting the trails with my mountain bike though. Maybe because I still really struggle with cyclocross and finish in the bottom of the pack. We'll see if I can improve those results next year. Maybe I will have more fun than.

What I did figure out this year is that I seem to prefer the longer races. Next year I am looking forward to testing myself with more endurace type events, like the Lumberjack 100 I posted about last week and hopefully a couple 6 or 12 hour events. The other thing I am looking forward to is getting my new bike built up. Shortly after Iceman I tore down my geared mountain bike and sold the frame, fork and wheelset on E-bay. Scott Quiring is building me a custom titanium 29er frame. It should be done soon and I am really stoked about building it up.

More than anything though, in 2007 I gained or strengthened some great friendships with my teammates. That's what makes this so much fun. No matter how tired I get or if I feel like quitting, there is always someone there encouraging me on and celebrating the finish at the end. I'll post up my official goals for 2008 here in the next couple days. That way everyone can help hold me to them.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Time

Wow, another Christmas has come and gone. The years sure do seem to go by a lot faster now. I guess when you're not waiting impatiently for Santa to show up the days pass a bit quicker. We had a great couple days celebrating with both of our families.

This year we spent Christmas Eve with my family. Typically we spend it with Jackie's and head to Romeo for Christmas Day, but Jackie was on call Christmas day so we needed to stick around the Port Huron area. We spent the day over my parents house with them and Amy, Sergio, and Hayley.

Jackie and I got Hayley the Hannah Montana guitar, which she spent most of the afternoon rocking out on. We also got her, Amy and Sergio a family present, a tobbagan. Next time we get a good snow fall we will have to head over and test it out with them.

Christmas Day we had Jackie's mom, Amy and Jill over our house. We cooked turkey with all the trimmings. Sergio recommended we brine the turkey for 6 hours before cooking it. That worked out great as it turned out very well. Jackie was on call all day, but never got paged in. Thankfully, as I wasn't looking forward to manning the kitchen on my own.

Well, Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope your's was as good as ours was.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Call me crazy...

Today I registered myself for the Lumberjack 100. It is a 100 mile mountain bike race in the Manistee National Forest on Saturday, June 14th, 2008. The course consists of four 25 mile loops, 99% of which is singletrack. No easy fire roads or two tracks, and around 13,000 feet of climbing. Luckily the course is a loop so there will also be 13,000 feet of descending. But it's a tough race. They don't call it the Big MF'er for nothing.

I'm sure at this point most readers are thinking, "Why?". This will be physically the most difficult thing I have ever done, but from the first time I read about this race I wanted to do it. I want to complete it, just to say I did. I'm not setting any time goals, just to finish before the cutoff. They start the race at 7am, to give everyone plenty of time. The top pros finish in around 7 hours and the longest finish times are around 12.5 hours. There is a time limit on how late you start your fourth lap to ensure racers are stuck out on the course in the dark.

This should be a fun year to do it, as two of my teammates, Todd and Brad are both racing as well. They registered for singlespeed though. Not me, I need gears for this one. Also, it sounds like the race is very well supported, with multiple aid stations to refill water bottles and take a break along the course.

Preparing for this race will be a lot of work. I had hesitated to register since it is so early in the season, I was worried I might not have enough time to properly train. But who knows what tomorrow or next year will bring so there's no better time than now. Plus training for this will really help me with a lot of my weight loss and fitness goals I am setting for next year. More on those soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow Day!

Well, not exactly, since it is a Sunday, but we are staying home because of it. The weather channel said we only get a storm like this every 5 to 7 years. It started last night sometime. At around 8 o'clock this morning I went out for round one of shoveling and we had 6-8 inches on the ground already. It's about 3:30pm as I write this and the snow isn't supposed to stop until late tonight. St Clair County, where Jackie and I live, is actually under blizzard warnings until midnight. In total we are supposed to get 15"+.

We were supposed to head out to Romeo today to my sister Amy's house to celebrate Christmas with my Aunt Cathie and Uncle Dan and my cousin Dave, his wife Cheryl, and their daughter Allison. I'm bummed we won't get to see them today, but driving in this type of weather probably isn't a good idea.

So we will stay bundled up inside until it's time for the next round of shoveling. Earlier in the week I was hoping to ride my bike to my sister's today to get a good workout in. This definitely changes plans. Another day on the trainer:(
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

England and France 2007

Time to play some catch up on what happened in 2007. Back in September, Jackie and I were fortunate enough to be able to travel over to England and France for 2 weeks. I needed to go to Manchester, England for a couple days for the British Orthopeadic Association Annual Meeting with our UK rep. It seemed like a good opportunity to bring Jackie along and spend some more time over there. What made it even better is that my cousins Dave and Allison moved to Horsham, England for work last year (check out their blog link on the right). They were awesome hosts to us for 9 days, 3 of which it was just Jackie and Allison as I was in Manchester and Dave was traveling for work as well.

Check out some of our photos here

We arrived at Gatwick Airport on Saturday, September 22nd after flying all night. From there on Allison and Dave where the best tour guides we could have asked for. Since they have been there for almost a year now and have had many visitors they've seen much of London and southeast England, so they knew all the cool places to take us. We spent a few days in London, walked a lot, took a double decker bus tour, crossed Abbey Road, shopped at Harrods, and toured the Tower of London.

While London was great, I really enjoyed getting out into the English countryside. The first place we visited after arriving was Arundel Castle. We also made a trip out to StoneHenge, which was amazing. On the way back we stopped in the town of Winchester, home of the 900+ year old Winchester Cathedral. On the last day we were in England they took us to Devils Dyke, in the South Downs, which offered awesome views of the countryside to the north and the English Channel to the south. After that we drove down to the cliffs at Beachy Head. These are actually white chalk cliffs rising right from the edge of the English Channel. Quite amazing.

Dave and Allison live in the town of Horsham, which was about an hour south of London via train. We really enjoyed walking around town and stopping in the local pubs for a beer. While we were excited to see Paris, we were disappointed to leave Dave and Allison as they had made us feel so comfortable.

On October 1st Allison dropped us at the train station and we headed up to London, where we transfered trains and jumped on the Eurorail headed for Paris. We had 6 days ahead of us on Paris and had rented an apartment to stay in. Having booked it with only pictures online to reference we were a bit skeptical, but it turned out to be a great place in a wonderful neighborhood. While in France we spent all but one day in Paris. That much time allowed us to see all the sights, the Arc de Triumph, Eifel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer and walk along the Champs Elysees. I could just imagine the racers coming through on the final day of the Tour De France. Too bad it wasn't July.

After being away for 16 days we were ready to head for home on the 7th. The flight was long, but it was so great to see my parent's faces when we walked out of the airport in Detroit. It was definitely a great trip and we hope to go back to England before Dave and Allison move back to the US. We also look forward to touring more of Europe in the future.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Welcome to my Blog...

Everybody else is doing it, so why shouldn't I? Write a blog that is. I've been toying with the idea of doing this for a while now. Inspired by reading the exploits of my teammates and my cousins Dave and Allison, I've been meaning to get one started. With 2007 coming to an end it seemed like a great time to reflect on the past year and start planning for 2008.

I hope to post up regularly with information about mountain biking, racing and everything else noteworthy in my life. Check back soon for more...