6.28.2012

Less than a week until "The Fourth"

How is this possible?  It seems like DS just finished school, but it's already been almost 4 weeks and it always seems like once we pass the 4th of July that Summer seems to hit warp speed -- back-to-school ads are everywhere and the next thing we know, we're returning to the regular school-year routine.  It's bittersweet.  I think the worst part of this (at least for me) is the realization that the long, dreary, cold days of Winter are approaching.  Already we're on the backslide to shorter days.  I loathe that part!

For now we're really enjoying the middle of Summer.  We've had a really nice one, thus far, weather-wise.  We could use more rain (not as much as they do in CO...the wildfires, homes lost, and evacuations truly make my heart ache for those folks), but I love that it's not been oppressively humid (which is generally the norm when we have heat).  We're in the midst of a heatwave, but relative to how it could feel and what people a few hours south are contending with, it's no biggie.  Just more reason to lay low and stay hydrated.

We've had great opportunities for lots of time on our bikes.  This weekend we participated in a charity century ride (Allegrina 100) benefitting a new non-traditional students scholarship fund at my alma mater (Grand Valley State U.).  A friend set up the event in honor of her late father.  She has been organizing this ride for 4 years, now.  The first couple of years were very casual and word-of-mouth.  Last year it grew to ~100 riders. This year she decided to make it more official and use it as a means to give back to the community.

Of all of the centuries I've done, this has been my favorite (both years that I've had the pleasure of participating).  Rather than everyone rolling out at random we all start together and do 3 loops.  Each loop leaves more-or-less on a schedule that allows people to all start the loops in decent sized groups.  It's so much more social than a typical century where 2-5 people may ride together, only socializing with others in passing.  For half of the first loop I barely had to pedal, as we had a fairly large double-paceline sharing the effort.  The ride ended up being my fastest and easiest century, yet.

The "dids," courtesy of Josh D. (tandem stoker #3)
DS rode the first leg on the back of our tandem with DH.  For the 2nd leg our friend with a broken arm assumed stoker duties.  And for the final leg a friend who is as tall as DH took his first stoker ride ever behind Derek.  It was comical...he had to sit upright for most of the 22 mile jaunt, because the rear of the bike is not really designed for a tall dude.

Between loops were were treated to PB&J sandwiches, drinks, pasta salad, and AWESOME kettle chips from the Saugatuck Brewing Company.  I could not eat enough of those.

After the ride we all reconvened at the start for a wonderful party with several local (and awesome!) beers, pizza, and other tasty calorie replenishers.  A great day was had by all!

In addition to road rides we're getting some mountain bike time in, as well.  Last night we joined the little local family group at a trail just a few miles from our home.  Dane zipped around on my "former" bike and I am borrowing a friend's mtn. bike until I am able to get one of my own (since the rugrat has all but commandeered mine).

Here he is zipping along on only his 2nd real trail ride.  And tackling a sandy, rooty little dip with a quick uphill on the other side like it's nuthin'.

I am really looking forward to getting in some family trail rides, now.  DS is riding leaps and bounds better off-road than either his dad or I ever imagined he might.  He has great confidence on the bike, too...this may change once he has a real fall, but thus-far it's not at all an issue.  I hope it never is.  It's really fun to see him embrace something so healthy and empowering at such a relatively young age.  I am envious that I didn't have such an opportunity earlier in life.  Soon we have to take him for some REAL, more advanced single-track riding.  He seems very ready and it's now clear to me that it's only a matter of time before it will be ME trying to keep up with both of my guys. *sigh*

6.20.2012

It never FREAKING ends!

The lusting over bike porn. *sigh*

So BikeRumor.com just this morning published details about the upcoming 2013 Cannondale models, primarily all-new models and models with significant changes/improvements.  There is not one, but TWO bikes that I feel would complete me.  One of the bikes is a more long-term object of need/want: a carbon Super-X cyclocross bike with disc brakes.  I didn't even realize the current model came in my size (previously Cannondale didn't build them smaller than a 48cm, which is a size too large for me in a CX bike with its higher clearances).  Someday my über-bike will be something carbon or titanium with disc brakes and 2 sets of wheels: the stock set with knobby CX tires for cyclocross races and gravel backroad rides and a lighter set mounted with slicks for road riding.  Then I can easily swap wheels depending upon where my whims want to take me.

In another year or two DS will likely fit both my current road and CX bikes, so that may be the logical time to consider such an upgrade.  Then when he's done with them we could sell them easily enough.

The primary force driving my desire is that my 11 year old DS is already starting to take over my little 2-wheeled fleet.  A week ago we attended an evening trail ride with a few other families.  The trail is relatively easy, but DS handled it mostly very well on his CX bike (especially considering he's still a relative noob on that bike and a mere 3 months ago it terrified him).  The CX bike is not ideal for loose sand or large roots, however.  Prior to leaving, DH attached DS's flat pedals to my too-small-for-me (we got a good deal on it, since Cannondale had a bunch of Petite/XS F5s languishing in a warehouse and sold them off at half price...I really should be on a small) mountain bike and did a short lap with Dane.  Almost immediately he was confidently rolling over things that were a struggle with his CX bike.

So now the discussion has turned to getting me on a more appropriately sized bike, that way the 3 of us can go ride trails together...or at least DS and I can ride together on easier trails until we both improve enough to ride more with DH on the more advanced terrain.

Cannondale Tango 29er
The 1 bike that I'm REALLY eyeballing at the moment is the upcoming Tango women's hardtail 29er mountain bike.  I would likely have standover clearance issues with Cannondale's current 29er offerings, as would most shorter stature short-inseamed riders.  Cannondale has solved this issue by making a sort of Franken-biked top-tube to accommodate stubby peeps like me.

I could easily fit on pretty much any size small 26er on the market, but 29ers are rapidly taking over the mountain bike market in much the same way that digital displaced film photography.  I've done a lot of reading re: 29er vs. 26er and it appears that a rapidly shrinking minority prefers the smaller wheel format.  Now that more companies are producing 29er frames with geometry that can accommodate shorter riders, that tide is likely to turn even more in favor of the larger wheels.  Generally the accepted advantages of 29ers are that they roll over larger objects better, climb hills better, and are more forgiving/less twitchy than their smaller-wheeled counterparts.  EVERY person I know who has made the switch to a 29er style bike has said they would never go back to the more traditional 26" wheeled style.

Word on the street is that Cannondale starts releasing new models in July.  So maybe I'll be able to hit some single-track with BOTH of my guys on a funky new ride by Fall!  We're starting to discuss taking some sort of family vacation involving mountain biking, too.  We have at least one ski resort here in MI that has some pretty extensive mountain bike trails and cycling-specific packages, even making use of their chair-lifts to take riders to the top of trails...wheeee!!!  A longer-term goal would be a family trip out to DH's beloved Moab & Fruita mountain biking meccas.

Speaking of that big guy, watch his brand new blog for his forthcoming Lumberjack 100 race report!

6.10.2012

Well, that's embarrassing...

It's been >2 months since I last "penned" a blog entry. I am in complete awe of those who write something every day, year-round. And most of them even have interesting things to report, day in and day out.

Me, Heather, and Jen - sweat T-shirt contest winners!
I still need to order this photo...
I'd had every intention of writing a race report after my Flying Pig Half-Marathon, a month ago. But it was really more of a fun run with friends than a race...which would explain my PW (personal worst) time. The last time I did a race like this (in Vegas) I set an earlier PW. Cincy was the hilliest and warmest and sweatiest HM I've ever run, so that alone eliminated the possibility of a PR (personal record). I also was not trained to go at it competitively. By 10 miles in my calves were talking cramps, even though I was running slower than my typical training pace. In the warmth and humidity I couldn't keep up with hydration, even stopping at each aid station (at each mile marker).  By the race finish I felt soaked in about 5#s of my own sweat!

Flying Pig was a really good time.  I'd love to run that race again, someday.  That was my first time in Cincinnati and I really liked the city.  I encountered not a single unfriendly person in the entire place.  The downtown was easy to navigate from our hotel and there were plenty of places in walking distance to find food and adult beverages.  Heather and I road-tripped from MI and had easy driving both ways (aside from my car's A/C crapping out for much of the trip to OH...stupid, quirky Mazda 3).

Next year the ladies of RunningAHEAD.com are planning to run the Go! St. Louis marathon/HM in early April.

In cycling news: our JDRF training season is well underway.  Our team rides have worked up to 40ish mile distance.  Yesterday I also gutted-out 70 miles in bare minimum preparation (I am not nearly at the sort of mileage I was at this time a year ago) for the Allegrina 100 charity century in 2 weeks.  The "A 100" raises funds for a scholarship benefitting non-traditional students at Grand Valley State University.  I am really happy to participate in this event, as I myself was a non-traditional student at GVSU.

If my riding mileage is poor, my JDRF fundraising is sort of abysmal.  We'll be in Tahoe in 3 months and I've raised <10% of my $4k goal.  I am under contract to have raised $750 towards my goal by 90 days out from ride day and could potentially be removed from the program if I don't raise my minimum FAST!  Can you help a girl out?!  The bulk of my fundraising $s won't be coming in until later in the Summer.  I still need to organize my bowling FUNdraiser and I'll be receiving a portion of the proceeds from ODRAM.

Speaking of ODRAM, if you'd like to join us in riding across MI in a single day, check out our website, our Facebook page, and our new Facebook group.  The group is a really nice way to get to know other riders, find out more about the ride from seasoned riders, and find others to pedal with on ride day or share transportation.

12 miles on curvy single-track...and I didn't even fall once!
In addition to road riding I've gotten in some miles on my mountain bike.  Not as many as I would like, but I won't ride alone on trails and now that the Boy Scouts are on Summer break the nearby campground land is closed to the general public for riding and hiking.  So the nearest good trails are over an hour away.  With DS home for the Summer it would also be tricky to get out riding.  I'll really be happy when he's a bit older and can join us in the woods.  My bike is a hair small, so eventually he will inherit it and I'll likely upgrade to something a size bigger with better specs.