Shifting Focus

IMG_3263 Everybody has their way of dealing with challenges or difficulties. However, the two general solutions are to face our issues head on or to seek an alternate route.  There is no incorrect way.  What it comes down to is what makes you happy.  I realize that many people face greater difficulties than a bad day on the bike or poor race results or lack of training time. For me, time on a bike and how it relates to the rest of my life is of great importance.  Cycling has provided a balance that I truly could not imagine living without.  Yet, recently I found myself worrying and thinking constantly about how I am not “properly maintaining” that balance.  My race schedule this season has pretty much imploded within the vacuum of life.  What used to be regular 50-60 mile training rides riddled with hill repeats and sprint intervals has diminished to 10-15 miles simply to get somewhere without having to drive my car.  A recent move, career and photography commitments have meant very little time on two wheels.  Now, I could very well get up at 5 am and ride the trainer or take my bike to the office and do intervals during my lunch.  Believe me, I wish I could just Mike Bernhard the shit out this “slump” and go crush 80 miles of gravel “on my way home”.  That would be facing the issue head on.  I also wish I had a full head of gorgeous flowing hair but some things are just not meant to be.  Instead, I took a moment to think about what was of real importance to me, at this time and guess what…cycling is still up there but may be changing its role in my life for a wee bit.  Am I giving up racing?  HELL NO!  Instead, I am seeking an alternate route, a fresh approach which better fits my life right now.  More importantly, I am riding my bike purely for enjoyment and quickly finding that when I am not struggling to reach a goal or improve my time or prepare for a race, I am rediscovering the childlike exuberance which can be found while simply going for a ride.

Rather than a tool strictly for fitness or competition a bicycle is equally important for exploration and escape.  Often I find that my saddle is as effective as any therapist’s couch. A friend of mine recently experienced a tremendous loss in her life and immediately she went out and purchased a new bike.  I wrote to her how perfect I found this to be and told her that I personally have found that one of the greatest and often overlooked benefits of a bike is the ease at which one can pedal out both tears and hangovers.  Try it! Strap a tent, sleeping bag and a bottle of whiskey to your bike, ignore your phone and go get lost for a few days.

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Its a freedom unlike anything else.  You can not possibly imagine the things you miss in life at 70 mph from within a metal box.  Every summer I make it a point to do this.  Slowly, summer by summer, 5 days at a time, I have explored just about every mile of shoreline and brewery from Sawyer to Charlevoix or more precisely, Green Bush Brewing Company to Charlevoix Brewing Company.  This glorious state of ours has so much to offer not only your eyes with its scenery but combined with its people, towns, trails, and mostly beautiful weather it is sure to feed your wander lust and rejuvenate a soul’s longing for something more than work, eat, shit, sleep, repeat.  IMG_3265

Anybody who believes that Michigan is not one of the greatest states in the country has simply not truly tried to explore it.  Trust me, I used to be one of the biggest midwest nay sayers.  There was a somewhat foggy period of my life where I tried desperately to escape the boring old Mitten and, I’ll admit, I found myself in some pretty amazing locations throughout the United States and experienced things which I will never regret nor forget.  However, I came back and much to my surprise, discovered a passion for cycling and my home which has all but paralleled that of my prior endless meandering.  Quickly I found that in one day you can easily pedal from the city skyline to farmland to shoreline and back again.  More importantly, I realized how quickly I could make new discoveries not just of my surroundings but of myself.

So I may not find myself on a podium anytime soon.  So I can’t hang with the “A” ride anymore.  So my spandex fits a bit more snug as of late.  You know what?  I really don’t give a damn. I will still do a race here and there and definitely join my friends and teammates for group rides as often as possible.  I still have obligations to my team and my sponsors.  Lets just say that, for now, I am approaching cycling as Elbert Hubbard approached life when he said “Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out alive.”.  Throw some platform pedals on your cruiser and work on your smile instead of your pedal stroke.  Listen to how happy your heart sounds when its not redlining. Please, do not ever take your time on a bicycle too seriously or you will fail to realize why you are riding in the first place….even if you are last.

Rob Meendering

 

 

Thank you Gap30 Cycles!

A big shout out to Gap 30!
I’ve had trouble with my cross bikes shifting for a long time, Brian at Gap 30 helped me select a new set of road shifters. A few days later my DDX is shifting better than ever.
Thanks Gap 30! Tim

Barry-Roubaix Report

Better late than never…to tell you about my experience at this year’s Barry Roubaix.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, Barry Roubaix is this epic gravel road race that draws approximately 3,500 riders from all walks of like to the quaint little town of Hastings, Michigan.

This year was my first attempt at racing the “Killer” 62-mile course.

Leading up to race day, I was really nervous. As unpredictable as Michigan weather can be, you never really know what it’s going to be like until the day of. For instance, last year, it was 18 degrees outside with patchy ice. This year turned out to be in the 70’s and really dusty and dry.

As I rounded the corner to reach the first stretch of gravel I watched the really fast racers disappear into the plume of dust. That’s when I realized I would not be finishing the race with a group. I was disheartened at first but I felt good and was having fun so that’s all that mattered at that moment.

For the first 30 or so miles, I felt great and had a good pace.  Then, after a while, I slowed down, my legs started getting stiff and I was loosing steam. I cursed every hill. I also, blew past one of the aid stations without refilling my water. I had 1 bottle left and thought I’d be fine. I regretted that decision at around mile 55. There were a few times I wanted to quit. I had a dozen conversations with myself during that 62 miles, I am sure most of you reading know exactly what I’m talking about.

I wasn’t sure how many women were ahead of me on the road…or behind me. I only saw a handful of them on the course. Each time I passed a woman, I felt a little better about the race. Then, she would pass me about 5 miles later. Darn it! It was a day of ups and downs like that. In the end, I finished in 3 hours 57 minutes…3 minutes faster than my personal goal but almost 49 minutes behind the fastest woman!

I’ll just have to come back next year stronger and more prepared with a new goal.

Sally

Smith Optics rock!

timI did my first ride with my Smith Optics RX lenses today,  the RX lenses were made by Smith and received in less than a week from order date! They snap in firmly and I had great ride with great clarity. Oh and they match my Smith helmet 🙂
Thank you Smith Optics!
Tim Curtis

Who’s sweat is in the chamois? Part 1 Racer Profile: Scott Tencate

pic1Age: 16-75 (depending on alcohol consumption, eye tests and training miles)
Marital Status: Married
Children: Both of them (one ran away to the west coast and the other is tied up outside where he has been forced to live off of the land)
Residence: Ada
Occupation: Race Promoter, Hair Club for Men spokesman and legal drug mule
Favorite Food: Cheez-its smothered in melted cheese
Favorite Beer: Founders Centennial IPA
Favorite Quote: “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.”

Our first racer profile will feature none other than Scott (Tenner)Tencate.  Many of you may know him as the Robin to the Batman of race promotions.  But there is so much more to this silver striped mop head.

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A Capricorn, Scott enjoys mountain biking, mountain biking and….ummmm….mountain biking.  He can often be found (when not in spandex) exploiting natural habits, rural communities and innocent children for the greater good of the cycling community.
History:
While pursuing a degree from Fresuae School of Cosmetology in Massachusetts, Scott was discovered by a modeling agency based out of the back of a custom van with shag carpeting.

pic3Although he made very little money modeling for Vidal Sassoon and Dep, there was one good thing to come of these dark days.  During one of these shoots he met the love of his life, Marnie, who was making quite a name for herself as the stunt double for Kelly McGillis used in a particular, not so PG scene of Top Gun.

pic4From this moment Scott decided to take life seriously, start a career and settle down.  So he took a job as a rodeo clown.

pic5Due to an allergy to BPA free plastics found in today’s Rodeo barrels, Scott was eventually forced into a corporate sales position at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory where he spent many years successfully building a client base of toothless school children.  Eventually Marnie tired of him humming Oompa Loompa songs and smelling of chocolate and forced him into the cutthroat world of bike race promotions.

pic6Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the rest of the sordid tale of Tenner.

-Rob Meendering

I’ll Never

image4I have to say that most of my life I really enjoyed the Winter season in Michigan. Well, except for when I was eight and had a paper route that had me trudging through snow up to my waist, while pulling a sled full of newspapers, in the dark, around the neighborhood….That sucked! I’ve always appreciated the activities that only those who live in the Northern portion of the country can experience and felt sorry for those who never see how beautiful and awesomely harsh Winter can be on any given day or hour. Over the years I avoided “hibernation” by staying active and embracing the change of season by cross country skiing, building snow forts and sledding with the kids at the local school hill. I enjoyed the break from the bike but in the same vein missed the bike, the ride and the social interaction with my cycling friends.

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Three or four years ago I saw quite a few friends purchase fat bikes. I have to admit I was a critic of the Fat bike movement. I didn’t get it. Those big goofy tires looked like something from the Flintstones and those early years of the new sport seemed like I saw more people pushing their fat bike than actually riding them. I didn’t get it! ” I’ll never get one!” I said countless times to Marnie. We rented some fat bikes at Crystal mountain and rode for an hour. It was sloooow plowing through the powder. We laughed, we fell, we pushed our bikes…. ” what the hell? Everyone says “it’s the best!” I don’t get it, this is stupid!
Well, fast forward two years where Rick and I were presented an opportunity by our race sponsor partner, GRBC to work owning fat bikes into our sponsorship package. Rick sold me hard that we should do it and “I would love it!” What?!! I have 40 plus bikes in my house, I don’t need another one. Especially one that won’t be used, taking up space!!
Thankfully we / I took the offer! After a year of owning it, I now “get it” and truly love the winter fat biking experiences. You learn to go with the flow like we do with fluctuating Michigan winter conditions. I’ve had some amazing rides on the Lake Michigan beach, exploring area woods, groomed Marquette trails, Merrell Trail, The Burg…..and have been blown away by the uniqueness of those rides and the added adventure the fat bike provides.

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Even though I’ve been loving the winter fat biking and the addition of another sport to keep me fit and sane through the Winter, I said “I would never do a fat bike race.” Well, that all changed as teammate Jeremy called me over Christmas vacation and asked if I’d want to race the Farmhand fat bike race at Cannonsburg, in the two person team category. I couldn’t say no! The day before the race we received over a quarter inch of rain with warm temps turning to ice as temps dropped that night. Race morning, on a two minute phone call with Jeremy we set our race strategy (win) and laughed at the amount of preparation needed for a winter race; clothing, freezing hydration, tire pressure, equipment….
Jeremy started the race taking the first leg. I sat under the Founders tent in my winter coat, boots and snow pants trying to stay warm and going crazy wondering what type of trail conditions Jeremy was experiencing. Not really knowing if he’d come past the team pits gassed or injured, I knew I had to be ready. Here came the solo leaders of the first lap, so I stripped off all my winter clothes, grabbed my bike and ran to the pit start expecting a handoff to take lap two. Jeremy came around the last corner, fish tailing the back end and riding like a crazy person on fire. He blew past me….so I put my winter gear back on, sat at the team tent and had numerous offers for Hot Damn, Founders beer and whiskey. I declined feeling racing on some ice would be enough of a buzz. The other teams are switching riders every lap so I start to wonder if they know something we didn’t? Lap two, here come the leaders! Strip off the winter gear, grab the bike, stand at the fence ready for a tag. Jeremy blows by, big grin, decent lead on second place. What the hell?? I put all my crap back on and start to wonder if Jeremy’s going to do the entire race by himself. I conspire a strategy with teammate Martin. “If Jeremy doesn’t stop next lap I’ll start drinking or better yet you knock him off his bike and I’ll actually get to race. ” Third lap in Jeremy has a good lead on the competition and actually makes the tag! I’m racing! The course was actually fun despite a few icy spots and a few crashes. In the end we held on and won the team category placing 1st out of 41 teams. Congrats to teammates Terry on 2nd place and Adam for 6th. Along with Jane who had a great race despite bald tires. Also a great race by Marnie who just missed the podium in her first fat bike race. She says she’ll never do another one. “Too scary”. never say never!!
Thanks to Teammate Rob too for capturing some great moments/ photos on the course!!
Tenner~

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photos by Rob Meendering

http://www.robmeenderingphotography.com/Cycling/2016-Brewery-Vivant-Farmhand/

 

Slows Bar Bq

We are so excited to announce that Slows Bar Bq has become a sponsor of the 2016 Founders Racing Team! Slows Grand Rapids Full_Color_webSlows Bar Bq Grand Rapids (SlowsGR) opened Aug 6th, 2015 in the Downtown Market, an urban, self-sustaining, mixed-use facility on Grand Rapids’ south side that brings together food production, distribution, marketing and education about local foods. The new market-style barbecue restaurant is located at the SE corner of Ionia and Logan Streets.

SlowsGR features family-style dining with a mix of long communal tables as well tables suited to smaller groups. Guests order their meats, Texas-style, by the pound directly from the carvers. Sandwiches are ordered from the cashiers.

The Grand Rapids location features a similar menu to the Detroit location, including slow-cooked barbecue favorites like brisket, ribs, pulled pork, several of Slows’ signature sandwiches & sides and several dozen Michigan-based artisan and craft beers on tap.

Stop in sometime for sandwich and a pint, most likely one of our Team Members will be there too!

It Was A Very Good Year – atmo

It Was A Very Good Year – atmo

matt2014 was my last year in the 30-39 expert race category. I was a solid top 5 racer but at every single race, I’d get caught by the lead group of 40-somethings. I knew the bar would be set higher this year and was determined to be able to hang. After spending the off-season training hard at The Shift, and getting not only a new mountain bike, but also a Marin carbon cross bike (thank you Gap30!), I began the year with a 4th place at Barry Roubaix in a sprint finish. Good start! Two weeks later I followed that up with a first place at Yankee with a solid margin of a whopping 9 seconds. Fast forward to Iceman where I started in wave 1, and also knew my main competition in KLM garb. If John Osgood didn’t win every year, he was at least on the podium. The start left me chasing for the entire race but I rallied and was feeling good with 10k left (which NEVER happens). I hit the single track passing the group I’d been riding with, put a gap on them and came up to another group. What’s that ahead? KLM? Tight barricades with 1k to go and I manage to pass one racer through an opening in the brush and finish with John just out of reach to claim third place. I was a scant 6 seconds from him and only 20 seconds from a first place finish.
I began this year with a few goals. Make it to my 40th birthday, make it through my 40th birthday party, get a new mountain bike, and make this the best cycling year of my life. Throw in a new car to really give it the mid-life crisis effect. Only this was no crisis. It was a celebration. After eleven of my twelve races this year, I was privileged to climb the podium with some amazing racers from several teams (mainly Cross Country), but special thanks to Roy Kranz and Paul Dunn for keeping me motivated and showing me how to compete at a new level. No matter how much we beat each other up (and we did… typically it was us three breaking away), the finish line demarcated race tactics from good natured mutual respect and beer sipping.
It wasn’t a good year strictly for the race results, though. More than ever, I learned that I can’t train hard without playing hard to balance it out. That’s where Founders Racing really steps up! I’m so happy to be a part of this team! The great turnout from them and other good friends at my 40th birthday shindig was amazing and I can’t thank them enough for making it my favorite birthday ever! Drag racing Scott and Marnie with Jeremy on an old 70’s kickback tandem still makes me laugh! Casual rides through urban single track and downtown parking ramps led by Jeff Jacobi (usually with a beer stop somewhere) are what keep this sport dynamic and fun. Ride hard and just go out easy the next day to enjoy the scenery. Take your kids out for a “recovery ride”. Ride the Barry Roubaix course on a nice day without turning Strava on. Seriously, that just makes you try too hard.
I raise a pint of Centennial to everyone for a great 2015 with one final congratulations to Tom Stolz for making a huge comeback from his wheelie serious injury last year! Also to the additions to our team for 2016, welcome to Founders Racing! Can’t wait to ride, race, and party with all of you for another year!
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Dear year 2015

Dear year 2015,
You were one wild, fun filled ride.  Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner was named woman of the year, Donald Trump became the leading Presidential candidate, China exiled Dennis Murphy and Brad Bacon learned how to fly (sort of).
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The Founders Racing family also had an incredible year with 38 podium finishes and over 60,000 miles logged (dang)!
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We couldn’t be more excited about some big changes coming for the 2016 season.  Make sure you stay tuned to our Facebook, Instagram and Website to catch up on all of our antics and awesomeness.
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Farewell 2015.  It sure has been great!
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Rob Meedering