Found on Trail Ride Report

This sounds like a fun name for a knock down, last person standing ride. Unfortunately, not the case for this ride, on Saturday morning 12-4-10 Earl (new Founders teammate) and I meet eight of the TNR gang for a ride adventure around the Yankee Springs area trails. Departing the DL parking lot we headed off to trail parts unknown and unspoken. Eventually, we wound ourselves to the top of Graves Hill. The last rider finally reached the top and we all stood catching our breath and poking fun at each other. From the Devils Soup Bowl side of Graves Hill we heard a couple runners let out a blood curdling scream, HELP, HELP Please HELP us! We all turned and ran toward the screams, as we approached the screamer screamed that there was a dead body beside the trail. Sure enough there was a body, fully dressed and frozen! Fortunately Earl had his cell phone so we called 911 and then waited for the EMS and police. The police arrived about 30 minutes later and began their investigation. A snow covered car was found in the soup bowl lot and a few personal articles found between the car and the body. It appears the person committed suicide earlier in the week and had been along the trail for a few days. The woman had been reported missing from GR on Tuesday.

When the police finished taking our report they dismissed us. Having been standing around for an hour we were all very cold and rode away as hard as possible, trying to warm up and get the heck away from there, ending up back at the parking lot and to Sandy’s for hot coffee and breakfast, a somber group breakfast.

In retrospect, this was an exceptionally sad ride and sad situation. The EMS drivers told us there a 2-4 suicides in the Yankee Springs Recreation Area each year. Please seek professional help if the idea crosses your mind. For all the riders on that fateful Saturday the thought of riding over Graves Hill has lost its luster and may be better avoided for a while.

Peace Out and take care of your self!


Kenda Karma review


Kenda Karmas grace their presence on most of the team bikes and for good reason, they rock! I was recently surprised to find them a very good snow tire. A recent trip to the trails covered in snow had me worried that I should have changed them out for some meatier tires but the Karmas worked beautifully. If you are looking for a great, light all around full season tire look no further than the Kenda Karmas.

Matt in North Carolina

I did two laps today at this trail called Warrior Creek.  I’ve heard from a couple sources that this trail is 12 miles long.  The published length is 9.5 but they’re continually expanding it and it took me over an hour to do the first lap, so I’m going with 12.  Yesterday I did two other trails that are part of this trail system, so completely cooked on my second lap today, I took the opportunity to snap some shots.
The pictures attached obviously don’t do it justice. I would say the entire trail is covered in the pictures, i.e. I could’ve taken about 100 more pictures that look almost identical.  The trail goes in a loop around a sort of mountainous penninsula, so the whole thing is bench cut into the ridge with every descent carried by switchback berms and you end up climbing to the top about 3 or 4 times.  The “Berms!” pic says it all.  The “lakeside” pic is pretty common too and only reminds you that you hit rock bottom and you will be climbing again very shortly. The only bad part of the trail is the roots.  Some sections were very rooty so it totally kills your downhill (and uphill) momentum. Arms were completely shaken up too. Really, you have no idea. The roughest trail in our neck of the woods is no comparison to this uneven washboard experience. The trail can be ridden backwards too, so uphill blind turn bermed and benchcut switchbacks are also a feature that makes it interesting.  Despite these drawbacks, this is the funnest trail I’ve ever ridden in my limited out-of-state experience. Definitely a higher degree of difficulty with the elevation changes and rock gardens involved.
One of the trails I did yesterday is called Dark Mountain, which is even more of an intense elevation and root infested experiece. It totally trashes your arms as much as legs. This is a shorter loop, about 7 miles, but climbs to the top and back three times for a total of over 800 feet.  They have a race at this trail called the “Burn 24 Hour Challenge” and the winning team this year had 38 laps. 250+ miles – Insane!!!  Check out the pictures in the link.  Judging by my Lumberjack experience, I’d wager I would conk out after a slow 10. Actually, the more likely outcome would be that my hands would go completely numb, lose my grip on the bar, and go headlong into a tree, thus ending my 24 hour burn at about 5 hours.
Stay thirsty my friends,

Founders/Alger Racing Iceman Re-Cap

Well after quite a few years of being absent the “Iceman” returned to Kalkaska and Traverse City just in time for the race. Lake effect snow showers made Friday pre riding a challenge. It was not so much the snow as the wind. The Founder’s race team had 16 members compete in an Epic Iceman! The combination of cold temperatures, snow, ice, sand and mud made it Epic. 4 riders made the podium with two winning their age group.

I took a casual spin in the woods on my brother’s property (we grew up in the area) just to loosen the legs. As a result of the temperature, sand, leaves, and snow made for a messy ride and I worried about what the conditions would be like in the morning.

The morning of the race I arrived in Kalkaska at 7:40 am dropping my bag in the truck at the middle school and then heading downtown to park closer to the start. Having local knowledge was definitely a plus! I found what I was looking for about a block from the start. The temperature was a Brisk 27 degree and at least the first few waves would not have to worry about mud, leaves and “packy-snow”. The conditions were perfect for an Iceman Cometh race.


The new start which began last year from Downtown K-town and road roll-out seems to have cut way down on the number of crashes just out of the shoot. The Crashes in all the waves seem to wait until the first sandy area which is less than a mile into the first section of trail. In our wave almost twenty guys went down causing the first break in the group, this was followed by the second sandy section which had five more riders go down two very hard. Things then settled down on the two track sections and riders worked together well. The first single track section was snow covered and in many of the corners icy. This slowed the pace down considerably, I heard from riders who road later that this began to melt and became quite muddy. This was also the first section in which the tie ups began as the faster riders in the earlier Waves caught the slower riders in the waves ahead of them. The next 15 miles of the course were either snow covered or ice and snow covered making for some challenging bike handling. To add to the challenge my bottles and the other riders I spoke to in the wave froze solid. Not being able to hydrate really made the last section hurt! This section of the trail is shared by the slush cup and was snow and ice free so the pace compounded the pain.

What better way to recover than to have a Founders brew following and share war stories about the event around a campfire. Special thanks go out to Ernie Stafford and his family for setting up the campsite and to everyone who contributed to the feast for the Post race festivities!


Here are the results of the Founders Riders who competed and completed the 2010 Iceman. Yes it was an Iceman and not a Sandman! Congratulations go out to all.

Jeremy Karel  2:00:32  3rd of 83 Men 25-27

Gabe Niehof  1:55:34  2nd  of 113 Men 30-32

Josh  Hogeterp 2:12:34 16th of 113 Men 30-32

Shawn  Crowley  2:21:23 28th of 113 Men 30-32

Matt Remelts  2:14:56 18th of 81 Men 35

Brian  Walquist 2:04:57 16th of 115 Men 41

Wade  Bagnall  1:53:42  1st of 87 Men 44

Scott Thenikl 2:10:32 15th of 82 Men 36

Dan  Jelens  2:36:34 40th of 82 Men 48

Tim Curtis  1:56:48  1st of 102 Men 51-52

Rick  Plite  2:09:59 14th of 102 Men 51-52

Martin Hall  2:15:50 26th of 102 Men 51-52

Dennis Murphy  2:32:26 49th of 102 Men 51-52

Paul Poplielarz 2:08:15 11th  of 99 Men 53-54

Ralf  Sharnowski 2:08:08 10th of 121 Men Clydedale 40+

Ernie Stafford 2:44:26 55th of 121 Men Clydedale 40+

Mad Anthony Race Report


I went to Detroit today to try the Mad Anthony cyclocross race. The race is held on the site of the historic Fort Wayne right on the Detroit River across from Canada. The fort dates back to the pre-Revolutionary days. (If you are unfamiliar with cyclocross racing, check THIS wikipedia or google cyclocross videos).

I decided Friday afternoon to do both the C and the B race. I was a bit concerned about racing just the B event since this was a USAC-licensed event, the rules are that when you are lapped you must drop out and I didn’t want to drive over to get lapped and pulled from the event. Looking at last year’s events, team captain Rick placed approximately 23 of 25 racers that were considered finishers with a dozen “lapped” riders behind that. If Rick was close to the bottom and I am slower than him, I was concerned about holding my own on this event. So, to make the drive worthwhile, I opted to race BOTH the C and the B race. I figured I’d be fairly safe racing C and finish the event. Then, racing B, I’d get a couple laps in and if pulled, I’d get some mileage anyway.


Turned out they didn’t pull racers, but they did post results with those “lapped” racers as a lap down. Turns out, I wasn’t in that category in EITHER race!!

The course was approximately 2.35 miles long starting inside the fort and making a quick hard right on the outside moat to circle the west and north side of the wall before turning back and heading up on the grass. The course had one long stretch of pavement fronting old NCO housing units, up on the grass after that, followed by a hard run-up hill and down onto a long long packed gravel flat stretch around a soccer field. The NCO-road and this packed gravel really favored the sprint roadies who churned out RPMs to press a lead. Back to the fort, we’d ride in the south and east wall moats and into a tunnel in the wall which lead into the center fort parade ground where some tight turns in the center led to a couple tough climbs which most riders actually had to run up. A final turn and over the barriers, up&down a hill and through the chute to start all over again.


Joni and I drove over at 7am, reaching the fort at about 930 to get in line to pick up registration and paperwork. The registration was swamped so they moved the C race back from 1030 to 1045.

There were 81 “C” racers- quite a crowd! The C race was not divided by age or categories- just 81 racers all competing against each other- and that didn’t count the women who were also out there as their own group. Founders-Alger-Racing teammate Scott Thenikl was also there for the C race. The crowd took off, turned out of the fort and made that hard right turn into the moat. After the next turn in the moat a rider went down and the crowd split around him and I surged around a couple riders after we passed the downed racer. I rode pretty hard and the C race ended up being only three laps for just over seven miles in that 30-35 minute event. I saw quite a few racers behind me during the last couple laps. I finally finished and looked at the clock as I crossed the finish line at 32 minutes and some seconds. Scott came across the finish line a couple minutes later. I ended up at 27th of the 81 racers with many of them at the bottom counted as “lapped” and thus down a lap in the results. Scott was 30th of the 81 C racers.

There was a fifteen minute or so break and the B races started lining up. This also looked to be quite a crowd. Results showed it to be 65 racers. This B race was not divided by age or USAC category- so I was racing USAC categories of 2, 3, and 4. This was the race I figured I’d be really out-classed. Turns out I held my own. The race ended up being 5 laps which I completed in just over 55 minutes. I rode as hard as I could and got passed at one point by speedster Mackenzie Woodring of the Bissell team, one of west Michigan’s fastest women racers. The was on a mountain bike. She was shouting out encouragement to a woman Fusion team rider and I tried to hang in there with them on a paceline but they all pulled away from me before we hit the fort’s south moat.

So I focused on the nearest male rider and tried to close the gap over the course of the next lap. I did eventually pass the nearest one and over the course of lap four and five increased my lead by a huge seven minutes (which surprised me). I crossed the finish as the announcer indicated I was the last “**official” finisher to garner a 43rd place of the 65 racers in the B race. (**Results posted later, though, indicated one more “official” finisher after me- he finished at 62 minutes – the seven minute gap.

All in all a successful race- I went there with the modest goal to do decent in the C event and to try to hold of getting lapped in the B race and exceeded both goals fairly well!.

Joni and I drove around downtown Detroit for a little while as the A racers were on their last lap before deciding to eat dinner at one of the race’s sponsors- Los Galanes in Mexican Town. The food was really good. Joni had a chicken mole’ dinner and I was able to order a vegetarian stir-fry cactus dish. ( I like fried cactus too ).

The fort is a completely under-utilized property! If it could be really utilized it could be Detroit-area “Mackinac Island” with recreational activities too! Joni wandered the fort and the old structures taking, taking photos as I raced. We will definitely return next year.

Peak 2 Peak recap

Tim Curtis and I made the trip north to Crystal Mountain for the P2P mountain bike race.  The start time wasn’t until 12:30 p.m. so we had plenty of time to travel north and get a good warm up ride in. Temps for the early start waves were in the forties so it was a nice change of pace to start later in the day and race comfortably in short sleeves. Temps reached the high 50’s and sunny skies held most of the day. We both signed up for the 50+ Expert class (3 laps) so I knew I would lose at least one spot to my teammate, Tim is wicked fast for an old fart! 18 racers toed the line for a brief grassy up hill start, then some flat pavement followed by about 10 miles of smooth, big ring, flat singletrack. Most of us were hitting over 22 miles per hour on singletrack! There was one rise about 10 miles in but you could remain in the big ring if you carried your speed into it. Next we hit some twisty rolling singletrack for a bit before spitting out at the base of the ski hills. Signs pointed left for beginners and right for Sport, Expert and Elites. Our turn lead us up about a 1/2 mile climb to the top of the resort, gradual enough to handle in the middle ring, the only spot on the course where it was really needed. Once on top we dove over the front side on some fun swoopy downhill singletrack before spitting out onto a fast grassy blue ski run only to be clamped shut by some slalom gates made possible by the red Sram folks. I rode pretty consistently until the final 1/2 lap where I gave up two spots to some other guys in my class, try as I might I didn’t have it in me to hang on to either one of them. I had to settle for 15 of 18 with a time of 2:32:35 for the 34+ mile race. Tim did much better with a time of 2:22:33 and good enough for 9th place. Future Founders/Alger Elite moster, Earl Hillaker posted a time 0f 2:12:44, only 14 minutes off the overall winners time. 2 lap course profile:

Dennis in Texas

Dennis in Texas
My job requires periodic trips to McAllen Texas where I drive across the border to the supplier in Reynosa Mexico during the work week.  I’ve wanted to bring a bike – road or mountain- but the cost of shipping or flying a bike is so expensive that it has always been prohibitive even for the few times my trips are more than a work week long.
I came up with an idea to buy a bike at a pawnshop just to have something to pedal, but three outlets I stopped at didn’t have a bike in my size to make this a viable option.  Then, one of my contacts at the supplier, who is also a supplier, told me Tuesday he had a mountainbike I could borrow. He brought it in Wednesday- a Raleigh.  I took it for a tune up ride Wednesday night.
Today I rode it out to the Mission Trail system in Mission Texas, a nearby town to McAllen.  The ride out was ten miles.  Once at the trails, I rode the mountainbike loops.  The trails also have a single out&back paved track too.
Mission Trails can be considered the Texas version of Bass River.  There is not much elevation but the trail builders put in a whole lot of mileage in a confined space.  The only significant climbs are on the outer boundaries north and south when they run the trail up a short steep incline onto the levee that borders each side, after which they dive the trail back down into the Texas scrub.
Clearly the foliage is different- notice the cactus.  And it’s funny to see little desert lizards scooting across the trail instead of chipmunks.
The tread is hardpacked and fast, though, and mostly clay based.  You can see some severe tire ruts in a few sections where someone had ridden the trail when wet and the clay set up.  But erosion isn’t really an issue here.
Cactus is, however.  At one point, I had some foliage stuck to my front wheel and it was whipping around on every revolution, so I pulled it off the tire and heard a faint “phttt” sound as a small amount of air escaped.  I held my breath but no instant deflation occurred.  I considered I might have a slow leak, so I continued my ride for another half hour before heading back to the hotel.
So far the tire is holding so perhaps the air that escaped when I removed the cactus thorn was simply air trapped between the tire and tube- meaning the tube is not pierced.
I plan to ride Sunday as well, though I am torn.  There’s a 35 mile road race in Edinburg which I can’t really enter since I didn’t do the time trial today and am riding a mountainbike instead of my road bike.  The event is at 730am, so I think I will be better off doing another ride out to the Misson Trails and forgo the road event, even as a spectator.
I took another ride out to Mission Trails this morning. I encountered Jaime on his road bike- he is the guy that loaned me the mountainbike. He was on a morning road ride. We rode in the same direction for 3-4 miles and he turned off northward as I proceeded west toward the trails.
Update- 10-2-10 I took my first tumble today, climbing a small rise in the embankment. Not familiar with the trail I failed to shift down quick enough and stalled on the climb. I put out my left foot to dismount to walk the last few feet to the top, except- when I put my foot down on the grass- there was nothing underndeath it! It was that long grass that basically hung over thin air- I fell over the left side and down the embankment about five feet, landing on grass and rocks. No injuries, however, just a scraped elbow and cut finger on a sharp rock.
Here’s a photo of the “Pooh Forest” segment of the trails. Big guys like Rick, Ralf and Ernie would NOT be comfortable in this section.

Rick asked about mileage- it’s tough to determine. I asked three different riders at the trail head and got three different answers.  But there appears to be 10-14 miles of trail at least.  However, I rode some of the loops farther out from the trail head today and they are definitely not maintained- really overgrown, likely not ridden as much as the loops closer to the parking lot.
There is apparently controversy on this land as well.  I tried the link to the local mtb organization but their site is down, so I googled their cached site.  Apparently the local govt authorities “leased” the whole property to a gun club for ONE DOLLAR!  WTH?!
Photos from the cache shows many cyclists with signs protesting at a city council meeting.
The city said they didn’t “know” about the biking and hiking at that land unit since the Parks&Rec board was only an advisory board and didn’t tell the mayor about it.  Really? I’m not even from the area and I KNOW about these trails yet we are to understand the mayor and city council don’t know about a regular hiking and biking location on city owned property that actually has a parking lot and a kiosk sign with a map?  Really?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a strong mountainbiking culture here in the lower Rio Grande valley- there seems to be limited trail opportunities as well as clearly civic institutions don’t recognize mountainbiking.  Most cycling I’ve seen here is road riding and I’ve not found another mountainbike location nearby in any research I’ve done.

Dennis B Murphy

Pando XC results Fall 2010

The final MMBA CPS race of the season was held at our local trail, Pando and three Founders Alger racers competed on the 4.2 mile course.

Nicola Fester competed in a completely tough field of elite/expert women- mostly elite as her competition was Danielle Musto, Tara Jansen and Erin Vicary!  OUCH!  Nicola toughed out the course to take a prize winning 5th place.  Good job.

Ernie Finishing Pando

Dennis Pando 2010

Nicola Pando 2010

Dennis Murphy competed in  the men’s expert master category of 50+  (note to self, send email to Paul Brown to NOT call himself “slow” hahaha).  Dennis finished in 8th place.

Ernie Stafford competed in the sport clydesdale category and took fifth place in a crowded nine man field.

Good job to all on the day- beautiful weather for a Pando event.

On to more Kisscross and Iceman!