Monday, January 28, 2008

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, yesterday was my birthday. I had a great birthday, celebrating with Jackie's family on Saturday and mine on Sunday. Jackie surprised me pretty well. She made me wait until almost the end of my birthday before giving me my present. Here's what she got me.
It's a Raleigh XXIX 29'er singlespeed. I've had my eye on it at the Bike and Fitness Barn for a while now. Apparently my hints worked. I had another singlespeed, but it was a bike I had pretty much assembled from spare parts and never really seemed to work that great. Plus this is a 29'er (29" wheels vs 26" wheels on a standard mountain bike) which I am really excited about. The bigger wheels are supposed to role over stuff a lot easier and hold momentum better. They do require a bit more effort to get up to speed, but once there they should keep going better.
I'm really excited to get it out on the trail. Tonight I put my pedals on and adjusted everything to my liking. I couldn't resist riding it around a little even though it was dark out. When Jackie came home she asked me who had been skiing in our yard since there were tracks all over the snow from me. So far it handles great and is a blast to ride.
This will be a great training tool for me, as well as a lot of fun. Singlespeeds help you learn how to corner faster and keep your momentum since you don't have the luxury to just downshift. Plus they are great if the weathers not the best. Much easier to clean without all the gears and derailuers.

Testing out the Toboggan

Yesterday Jackie and I went sledding with our niece Hayley, my sister Amy and brother-in-law Sergio. We have been wanting to go sledding with Hayley for a couple years now, but never seemed to be able to get out. For Christmas this year we got them a toboggan so we had to help test it out.

We ended up going to the community center in Romeo, not far from their house. This is where I used to sled as a kid since we lived just up the street from there. It is a bit different now. They have added a big hill in what used to be a low area of the property. The new hill has a step down affect, where it slows down a bit in the middle. The snow was pretty warn down on that section and we weren't moving too fast so we decided to try out another hill there. This is the hill I always sledded down when I was a kid and it worked out great.

Before we left we had to go climb around on the playground equipment a little bit. Click on the picture above to check out the full gallery.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snowy Day for a Ride

Yesterday Curt and I drove out to Novi Tree Farm for a ride on our single speeds. I have only ridden Novi one other time, with Curt also. The last time I rode out there it was so muddy we had to bail out about half way into the ride. Hoping for better results I had watched the trail conditions on MMBA throughout the week and it sounded fairly promising, packed snow on the trails, but no hidden layer of ice so not too difficult to ride on.

My drive down to Curt's place was interesting. Very snowy, saw a bad accident when a truck couldn't slow down and slammed into the back of the car in front of him, then skidded off the road and hit a telephone pole.

We finally arrived at Novi and got ourselves ready to ride. Riding in the winter can be such a pain. In the summer you show up, unload your bike, put your shoes, helmet and gloves on and go. Not in the winter. To stay warm, but not too warm, you need to wear multiple layers. My feet are always the part that gets coldest. I wear thick neoprene socks, stuff one of those chemical toe warmers over my toes, and wear neoprene covers over my shoes too.

While warming up in the parking lot I ran into a couple guys on bikes who just got done trying to ride. They told me the snow was too thick and you couldn't make it. We decided to find out for ourselves. It was definitely slow going in spots and you need to really pay attention and keep a firm grip on the bars. The snow has a tendancy to push you all over the place. We did manange to finish the entire loop, which is about 10 miles. It took us around 2 hours though, easily double what it normally was. So I still haven't been able to really enjoy Novi. Not to say I didn't enjoy the ride yesterday, but it was tough going. I look forward to getting out and riding it again, but on dry trails next time.

Today is my birthday. Jackie and I are heading out to Romeo to celebrate with my family. First we plan to head to Amy and Sergios and go sledding with them and Hayley. We got them a taboggan for Christmas and are excited to try it out.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


For the past few years our friend Laura has organized curling for a group of us. She rents out the entire Detroit Curling Club, which has four sheets (think lanes at a bowling alley). Each sheet will have eight players, two teams of four. It was a great time, as always. I don't think it is a sport I would want to do regularly, but it is fun to do every once in a while and a great opportunity to get together with friends.
The key to the game is to slide the rock, which is around 30lbs, from one end of the sheet to the other end. The tricky part is getting it to stop in the circle on the other end. You only get points if it is in the center, and if someone from the other team gets one of their stones closer you don't get any points. We played for about two hours, which is just about right. At that point you are starting to get a little cold and tired of sliding around on the ice. It's something we look forward to every year. Click here to check out all our pictures.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Partying with TSB

This past Sunday was our annual Team Sandbag party. We have a number of get togethers throughout the year, but this one I really look forward to. This years party was held at Quay Street Brewery in Port Huron. They are a local microbrewer and an excellent restaurant.

The main purposes of this party are to recap last season, discuss the upcoming season, give out some team awards and watch the team video from the previous year. I was second in trail hours this past year so I got recognized for that from Bob and Mary, the owners of Ruby Campground. Additionally, I received the 2007 Sportsmanship Award. This was really an honor for me as all the members of the team have a chance to vote for the winner. It really made me feel good that I was choosen for this, especially considering how much a lot of other members invest into the team. That has really made me realize how lucky I am to be part of such a great group.

After all the awards and such we watched the 2007 team video, put together by Mike with Mashers Media. Mike spends a tremendous amount of time on this every year and it shows. It was a lot of fun to watch it with the team and I'm sure I will see it many more times as it will be great to spin to.

Hanging out with everyone has really made me excited about the 2008 season. Racing season is still 3 months away, but I am really getting excited about it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

2008 Goals

Well, its about time to write (err, type) this stuff down. I have been planning to get my goals down for a couple weeks now. So here we go.

1. Start the mountain bike race season (mid-April) under 190lbs. This is a recycled goal from last year. I was really disappointed I didn't hit this and am determined to do it this year.

2. Finish the Lumberjack 100. I would like to say I want to do it in 10 hours, but I really have no idea what a 100 mile mountain bike race will be like, so pacing myself to finish is my goal for this year.

3. Log 3000 miles of outdoor riding this year. In 2007 I came close to hitting 2000, only missed it by about 40 miles, but I had to throw in trainer miles at the end of the year.

4. Place top 3 in a USAC Cross Country race,

5. Drop my Iceman time down to 2:05 or less.

I'm excited about 2008. My new bike should be done soon so that will be fun to build up and start riding. I'm also really looking forward to getting more involved in the endurance type races, such as the Lumberjack. Though I didn't list it as an official goal, I also plan to do at least one 6 hour solo race, the 6 Hours of Addison in May. This will be good preperation for Lumberjack.

The year will have many other things to look forward to. Jackie and I are planning a trip to Colorado in the end of June. I will continue to travel for work, which may be a bit burdensome on my training, but I need to make the best of it and find time to get some exercise. My first business trip of the year is tomorrow, though luckily it's only for a day and a half. Not too bad.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year and More Snow

Happy New Years! Just when the last snow storm was starting to melt off, here we go again. We woke up New Years Day to 8-9 fresh inches of fairly heavy snow. I was supposed to meet some teammates for the first ride of the year, but have been battling a cold so I stayed home. I was bummed out to miss it as I really enjoy starting the year off with a ride. Oh well, next year. For now, I will have to jump on the trainer.

Jackie and I went out to shovel around 11 o'clock. Here are some pictures of us both working hard. For some reason I feel like I worked harder. Can't complain though, we came inside and I settled down to watch some bowl games, but she got paged in to work. Probably all those people out shoveling. So have a happy New Year and take it easy shoveling, or you might be seeing Jackie!
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