A New Bike, The HellKaat Hundie and The Yankee Springs Time Trial

The fourth weekend of April was a good one for me. The weather was fantastic, a new bike, two fun races, and I got to hang out with great people.

Friday – The New Bike

I’ve been riding gravel and cyclocross on my Crux since 2012. It’s been my favorite bike for years, but after this year’s Barry Roubaix it needed some TLC.  Before I even had the chance to start any work on it, we discovered that the front derailleur mount was broken and wouldn’t be safe to use. That was a game changer. So what should I do… fix it, buy a new bike?

I took the bike to the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company Fulton St. shop to see what they recommended. After discussing the options, we decided to convert it to a 1 x 10 setup. It was both a fun and affordable option. My new favorite mechanic Dan got the parts and worked late on a Friday afternoon to get it ready for me. I was riding the HellKaat Hundie the next day and Dan knew it, so he spent extra time making sure it was ready to go the distance. He wouldn’t let me take it until he was certain it was perfect.

Just a couple of weeks earlier I had invested in some new wheels for the Crux… a set of Velocity A23’s.  Probably the best wheels you can buy for gravel and cyclocross.  For the tires, I went with the 700 x 40 Panaracer GravelKing SK which I mounted tubeless. Wider tires and lower pressure seems to be the trend, so I thought I’d give it a shot. The only chance I had to ride with the wheels was in the Barry-Roubaix.  No issues with traction or control during the race, but it was not the best conditions to get a true feel for them.  So I was looking forward to getting to know them better.

OK, so technically I didn’t get a new bike. It doesn’t shine like a new bike nor does it have that new bike smell, but it felt new to me. And I couldn’t wait to hit the gravel with it!

Saturday – The HellKaat

It was an early start for a Saturday.  I was up and on the road by 6:15 AM to get to Dorr in time to pick up my HellKaat Hundie packet and get setup for the race. This was my 2nd year riding the HellKaat, which is both a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and a race.  It’s still a relatively small event and it has a mellow vibe, which is one of the things I love about it. The location, packet pickup, the start… it all went smoothly but without any feeling of pressure.

I wish I could say the same for me. This was going to be my first gravel century and I was facing a long day in the saddle on a bike that I had just picked up the night before. I had also found out late Friday night that the friend who talked me into the Hundie had to cancel due to food poisoning.  I was a little amped up.  Fortunately, the other rider from our group, Jane Van Hof, arrived and we set off committed to sticking together and to getting it done.

This year the race start moved from Hudsonville to Dorr which required a new layout to the course.  It was a great change. Rolling hills, farms, and lots of iconic scenery. There was over 4000 feet of climbing, but there were no steep hills. The gravel had some rough spots, but overall it was in good shape. A breeze picked up a bit in the afternoon, but it didn’t feel that bad since there were frequent turns which also put it at your back at times. And it was well marked.

With the great conditions, the first 40 or so miles went by quickly. Jane and I rode with various groups doing a bit of socializing along the way. Eventually we ended up with a mixed group from Alger, Central District, Velocity, and Founders.  Everybody was in a good mood and helped share the work load as best they could.  We took a casual but steady pace. It went surprising well.  However, after 75 miles, reality set in for me and it started to get tough.  By mile 90 I had discovered that the hip flexor muscle could actually cramp up.  Some of the group dropped off along the way, but we ended with 5 of us crossing the finish together.  Roughly 6.5 hours in the saddle plus 20 minutes or so for breaks.  I’ll take it.

My bike was great.  I ran the GravelKing’s at about 30 psi, which softened the ride quite a bit making it much more comfortable for the distance. The 1 x 10 gearing was ideal for the course.  Everything about the bike was perfect.  You’d never guess that half of it was replaced less than 24 hours earlier.   A huge shout out to GRBC, Panaracer and Velocity for that.

One of my favorite memories of the day came around mile 20, while we were still in a large stream of riders. I looked over to a pasture next us and spotted a group of horses running full out.  They were gorgeous!  And you could tell they were excited to see us and wanted nothing more than to join us.  It was an inspiring sight; one I hope to see again next year. Yeah… I’m already planning on it for next year.

Sunday – The Time Trial

Ugh… I hate my alarm clock!  It was 6:00 AM, an early start for a Sunday, especially after getting up early and riding 100 miles of gravel the day before.  But it was time for the Yankee Springs Time Trial. This is the WMMBA’s biggest fundraiser of the year and it has a huge impact on the trails that I love to ride, so it’s important to me to help.

This year at the race I was handling the raffle. A Velocity wheelset and a Küat bike rack with all the proceeds going to our trails. I was fortunate enough to have my son join me. He is required to volunteer several hours per year for school, and he had such a good time with it last year that he was happy to join me again. I’m not going to lie; we were using every angle we could think of to sell those raffle tickets.  I think we came out pretty good by the end of the day.

The weather on Sunday was perfect. All the reports I heard from the racers were that the trail was in amazing shape and riding the fastest they could remember.  I so wished I had brought my bike.  Screw the tired legs, I could have managed a lap. That is my one regret for the weekend.

Founders Racing was well represented at the race this year.  We had 7 riders competing at the Expert/Elite level with Jeremy Karel and Mike Bernhard making it to the podium. We also had a large group volunteering, including Tim & Nancy Curtis as Race Directors, and Martin Hall, Terry & Denise Sensiba and myself helping on the committee. It’s a big race for the team.

In the end the YSTT had a record number of racers… 777.  It was the first year there was a beer corral and all the feedback was positive.  It was great to be a part of it and to know that I’ve done my part for our local trails.

Whew… a long, tiring, but fun weekend. What a great way to start the season.

Jeff S.

4/30/2017

Dennis kicks off the season

I completed my first race of the year, traveling to Dahlonega Georgia for the Southern Cross 55 mile gravel road race on Saturday March 4th.

I had been to this area in 2012 for the Fool’s Gold-100 mountain bike race.  The event started and ended at the Montaluce Winery just outside of Dahlonega. It’s a beautiful area.  The 100-mile mountain bike race took place on some of the same gravel roads as this road race was expected to

use and I knew it was going to be a tough one simply due to the climbing.  For this event, however, I was going to use my cross bike with my 35mm Panaracer tires.

As in 2012, I drove part way on Thursday night so I wouldn’t have to power drive the whole 12 hours on Friday– the day before the race.  A near-issue developed halfway between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis on I-69. Police were out in force pulling over drivers for speeding so seeing some

flashers ahead wasn’t alarming. However, as I got closer, there were several flashers and I then noticed a north bound car in the median.  Then another as the highway became an overpass for a local road underneath.  Just then, the pickup truck in front of me fishtailed in the left lane! I moved to shut off my cruise control and as I did so my rear tires also spun and the car jinked. I steered to the right lane with the intention of steering onto the right side to ditch if necessary as that was the most clear but as soon as I did the ice was gone and my Subaru was grabbing the pavement.  Crisis averted.  I drove safely on to Batesville Indiana where I finally got a hotel room and a pizza and settled in for the night.

Friday drive got me to the Montaluce Winery first about 3pm where I picked up my race packet.  The race venue is located in a field a bit of a ways from the actual winery.  The entire property is made to look like an Italian valley complete with a small stand of houses looking like an Italian village and couple villas.  The winery has a high end dress-clothes restaurant but their store is right inside the entrance.  SO I parked and went inside to check out the wines and walked out with a dessert wine and a dolce for Joni and a Cabernet Frank for me.

On to my lodging.  I had stayed at the Hiker Hostel in 2012 and made reservation to do so for this trip.  The hostel is a large log cabin-like structure with two bedrooms upstairs each with bunk beds for a total of four guests per room.  The basement also has two bedrooms on each side of

a large common area. The bedroom I was in had two bunk beds and my three room mates were also there for the bike race.  The other bedroom has a queen size bed rather than bunks.  The basement also has a kitchen area for guests to prepare their own meals- though only lunch and dinner are needed for this as breakfast is part of the $18 per night lodging fee.  (Breakfast consists of pancakes or french toast, scrambled eggs, yogurt, grits, oatmeal, coffee and orange juice.  The eggs come from a pen outside with a dozen chickens).  The hostel was packed this trip and there were additional beds in the basement common area.  It is the start of the northbound Appalachian Trail hiking season. A large group ferried out Saturday morning and again new people were there Sunday as well to head out.

Saturday breakfast of french toast, coffee, juice and scrambled eggs at 730. The race started at 10am with a racer meeting at 930am.   Just after 930am Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and Christian Vandevelde showed up in a large Suburban in their Mellow Jonnies jerseys to race the event.  (Lance ended up 4th place, Christian ended up 6th- both in Open category.  I heard Hincapie crashed out. He’s not on the finish list). The event was sold out at 350 racers, with only 321 showing up on the results.  29 racers didn’t finish.

I was satisfied with my finish time but I lost perhaps 20-30 minutes on the course for two reasons which I will explain later.  My intent is to go back and try too finish in under 4-1/2 hours.  The race has a drop bag option with one aid station for this but I just used two bottles of  Heed, Endurolytes and a flask of Espresso Hammerjel.  I did not intend to stop unless I needed to.

From their website:  For 2017, the main gravel road configuration of the course will remain the same. We are eliminating the cyclocross elements at the start of the race, in favor of a neutral rollout on the roads due to the bottleneck that typically forms at the first turn off the pavement. To keep it interesting, we are adding (given dry weather) approximately 5 miles to the course, including the Jones Creek Dam Trail. This section is very ride-able on cross bikes, though possibly challenging due to some steeper grades, and riders should be spaced out before encountering this section to minimize congestion. The return route to the Winery will be on Hightower Church Road (same road you came in on) and not Wahsega Road as in the past. Upon returning to the Montaluce Winery, riders will be greeted with some traditional Cyclocross obstacles, however, expect a more direct return to the finish from previous years, so that you can start the post-race celebration a little bit quicker.

Total course distance is just under 55 miles and total elevation gain is approximately 6400′.

I debate if I should wear my jacket or not but decided not- it was a good choice.  My attire was jersey, windbreaker, with arm-warmers and Legwarmers and full finger cross gloves.

There was climbing right from the start but the real climb began about 15 miles in with a long 5-mile steeper climb.  I was riding well and passing people- mostly those on mountain bikes.  (It is a decision to be made- cross bike or mountain bike- for this event. More on that later).

I was even passing racers on the climb who had the better mountain bike gearing which made me feel pretty good.  But as rode the longer steeper first climb between miles 15 & 20 my gut really started bothering me.  I had been uncomfortable for some time and had not been drinking much Heed. I thought I might eventually get a bit dehydrated but couldn’t drink.  Finally the discomfort became unbearable and I had to do something I have never had to do before at a biking or running race. To be tactful, I had to go into the woods and decide which article of clothing to sacrifice.  Fortunately it wasn’t a glove or a sock, but the Chaco neck-pullover given to the team by Tom and Merrell (sorry Tom).  This whole delay cost me probably 15 minutes and I saw many riders above me on the road go by whom I had earlier passed.

Now that my discomfort was abated, I got back on the bike. It took a mile or so for my legs to feel good and then I rode fairly well.

The Southern Cross (like the Gravel Grovel in Indiana) includes a 3-4 mile fairly serious mountain bike segment!  Imagine racing Barry Roubaix and riding 3 miles of the back section of the Yankee Springs mountain bike trail before jumping back onto the road and you will have an idea.  Rocky, rooted, up and down.  Frankly, however, I rocked it!  I rode this section so well that one mountain bike rider I passed even gave a kudos shout out to me!  THe only bobble I had was on a tight turn switchback to the left and my front tire rode up on the berm and cause me to put a foot down, so I ran the next 20 yards and got back on the bike.  There was one further section later so steep ALL riders around me were walking it and I did so as well.

Back on the road.  Other than the “mountain bike section” the only other reason to ride a mountain bike is the gravel road downhills.  They are super fast and almost 100% bumpy.  I rode the brakes constantly just to keep the bike under control at about 18-20 mph. But the descents were jarring as I did so because my palms were on the handlebars and fingers on the break interrupters.  (My cross bike is fitted with brake interrupters on the flats.  I prefer, in more technical sections, to ride on the flats and am not comfortable riding in the drops to hold the brakes.  So I really like my brake interrupters- it’s more like riding a mountain bike in technical areas.

One last fast downhill before the 50 mile mark was the next glitch.  I was coming around a sweeping left hand turn and was going 22-24mph and squeezing the brakes but realized I was NOT going to make the turn and tried to steer away from water capture ditch on the right side and the bike went down. I slid several feet on my left side as a pickup truck came toward me from the other direction.  Luckily I was wearing armwarmers and got a bit scraped up but not seriously.  As I got up to move my bike and get going, another rider on a mountain bike came roaring down the turn.  I tried to move right but it looked like he was going that way so I moved back the other way just as he too steered that way.  He didn’t shout out direction and he went right INTO the ditch and hit the wall!

OMG.  I jumped into the ditch and he just laid there against the stone moaning.  I thought for sure broken collarbone or rib or such.  The two young men in the truck moved both our bikes.  Another rider stopped and asked if they could take the downed rider to the winery if necessary (six miles away).  The downed rider eventually said he was okay and not injured-just had the wind knocked out of him.  Fortunately the wall he it at the end of the ditch was moss and grass covered,  providing some cushion.  As he and I prepared to get out of the ditch another rider came in fast and hot and endo’d onto the edge of the ditch as we put our hands up to catch him to keep him from falling in.  Treacherous corner!

I got my bike going after getting the chain unstuck, rode as hard as I could to try to break five hours and passed a few riders.  But the ditch had cost me another 15 minutes. Had the other rider not crashed I would have just been riding onward after getting up but I wasn’t going leave him without ensuring he was not hurt.

In the end. my finish time   5:02, 48th of 66 racers 50-59.   243rd of 321 racers that finished.

To the debate: Mountain bike or cross bike?  Frankly, if you are NOT comfortable using a cross bike on mountain bike trails even for only 3-4 miles a mountain bike is probably necessary. I think a cross bike is faster overall and I will plan to use it again there, but if I went again I would do a couple things differently.

a) use better padded gloves

b) put some added padding under my cross bike bar tape

c) even perhap figure out how to put a slight suspension or shock absorbing mechanism on the cross bike.

The race was well marked and staffed with volunteers. The food was excellent and we also got to have two beers from Terrapin Brewery.  I had the Hopsecutioner IPA, which I liked so much I found a six pack at store Saturday evening and brought it home.

FYI I also had dinner at Shenanigan’s Irish Pub both evenings but they were very busy- make reservations if you go with a party.  I was solo and at the bar.

This would be a great event for several of a team to come to participate together.  I will plan to be there next year.  If no teammates come, I suggested my wife join me and Saturday after the race we can come back to the winery in our nicer clothes for dinner.

Relevant links below!  Photos at the Facebook link.

http://mountaingoatadventures.com/southernx

http://hikerhostel.com/

http://mountaingoatadventures.com/forms/SouthernCrossResults2017.pdf

https://www.facebook.com/dennis.b.murphy/media_set?set=a.10158390682835500.1073741861.626825499&type=3

http://http://terrapinbeer.com/portfolio-item/hopsecutioner/

http://www.theshenaniganspub.com/

http://www.montaluce.com/

Dennis B Murphy

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!