State Games of Michigan report

State Games_Rick Silver_Dennis_Bronze

I don’t know what I was thinking, volunteering to help promote the State Games of Michigan Mountain Bike Race and also signing up to race just 7 days after putting on one of my largest and most draining bike races, the Lumberjack 100. No backing out now I kept thinking, just delegate various jobs to volunteers and I will be OK. Wrong! I spent 5-6 hours on my feet Friday preparing the course and then attending the opening ceremonies that night. Up to late and one to many beers made Saturday morning a challenge. I didn’t have to race until 12:30 p.m. but I did have to help with the race from 9:00-12:00 which just added to my fatigue level.

Scott told me to line up on the right for a clean line through the sandy start. I was behind one or two others on the right side. The start went well, no hole shot but I was riding fast and keep the heart rate high for the 3/4 mile gradual climb. I climbed the “Wall” without a dismount even though it was loose as hell from a hundred racers before me. I was feeling pretty cocky about now and then everything started to shut down or catch up to me. Was it the heat? The long day of Friday? Last weeks Lumberjack event? Maybe all of it I thought. People will understand if I quit. Yeah, I am done, I am going to quit after the first lap, 5.67 freaking miles is all I can muster. The crowd was cheering me on, clapping, ringing bells when I came through. Great, I can’t quit now, I kept thinking of Jeff’s race report where he had a bad day but wouldn’t quit, Founders doesn’t quit when things get tough. My teammates just rode 100 miles of pain I created at the Lumberjack course last weekend. How can I quit after 5.67 miles? I kept telling myself, just one more lap. I will quit after two laps. My cleats were not working great, there is an excuse. My chain made a breaking sound as I climbed the “Wall” again. But the damn thing didn’t break. I was praying for a mechanical.

Finally Jurrien Davison from Hup United caught up to me. We both felt like crap and discussed how we would just ride to finish, turn back the throttle and just have a recreational ride. That lap I followed Jurrien and matched his pace, we were chatting the whole way. Mentally that was my shortest lap, maybe not on the clock, but time went by fast with Jurrien. About 1/2 way though our last lap together I cramped big time, I had felt them coming on for the last 30 minutes so I was drinking tons to help try and prevent them, even got an E-Cap hand up from Cathy but I think it was too late. Jurrien suggested I take 4 of his Sport Legs. He stopped racing to help me. How cool is that? I insisted he roll on without me. Now I just had to finish half a lap and keep that white and red jersey dude from passing me. We talked but I didn’t have the courage to ask if he was in my age group. I didn’t want him to know, he might challenge me. We exchange places a few times and I grabbed the freaking granny gear for most of the climbs in hopes of evading the cramps. Walked the “Wall” finally, no shame this lap. I think that was the last I saw of white and red.

So glad to be done! I finished, Jeff will be proud, Founders will be proud, and then someone says your second place in 50+. What!? No way, I swear there were 10 of us 50+ racers on the racer list. Nope, they tell me, only three. Second out of three and 1st gets me by 30+ minutes. Not pretty but I get a silver medal in the State Games, so what if it is silly, I will take it, better than quiting and going home with nothing. 

Founders Alger Racing took home lots of hardware including Wade who had to swap out a front fork and 29er wheel turning his 26″ bike into a 69er then hitting the start line with no pre-ride or familiarity with the set up. Gabe flatted and finished on someone else’s bike to hang on for 4th in the tough Expert SS class! Sue crashed hard and took herself out of the race but put in a great effort after last weeks huge Lumberjack completion.

Scott Thenikl-Gold Sport 30-39

Shawn Cowley-5th place Sport 3039

Nicola Fester-Gold Womens Expert SS

Gabe Niehof-4th Mens Expert SS

Josh Hogeterp-Bronze Expert 30-39

Wade Bagnall-Bronze Expert 40-49

Rick Plite-Silver Expert 50+

Dennis Murphy-Bronze Expert 50+

Full results link

Rick Plite

Lumberjack 100 race report

SUE Swiger_1_Lumberjack

For the past two years, I’ve been on the sidelines of the annual Lumberjack 100 – volunteering where I was needed, cheering on friends and strangers, and supporting my husband as he completed his first-ever century in over 20 years of competitive cycling.  I was inspired by what I saw as an ‘outsider’ and wondered what it would be like to be an ‘insider.’  So I made it my goal this year to find out. 


After many long and lonely hours aboard my Salsa singlespeed, I found myself lining up on a beautiful northern Michigan backroad with about 300 other racers.  We were ready for what lay ahead of us – miles and miles of shaded singletrack, imminent pain, potential victories, and potential failures.  I could already tell that this was going to be a much different racing experience than the shorter XC and time trial races I’d done earlier in the year.  There were no egos.  There were no side-eye glances from competitors trying to size each other up.  We were smiling and we were excited despite the fact that most of us didn’t have even the slightest chance of winning this race.  As the roll-out began, lots of “good lucks” were exchanged as we prepared to enter the woods. 


The 33-mile lap begins with a long gradual ascent.  It was wheel-to-wheel crowded as we climbed the hill and, as a singlespeeder at the back of the pack, I found myself fighting to keep my momentum.  Luckily this didn’t last very long.  After the first few steeper climbs, the pack stretched out and I was able to pick my pace and settle in.  Having pre-ridden the course, I had a good idea of the average speed I needed to aim for in order to be able to conserve my energy for the bigger hills ahead.  I had geared down slightly for the race, switching from a 34×16 to a 33×17.  I’m still not sure if this was the best gear choice for me but I know it wasn’t the worst.  I was rolling easily along the fast, flowy sections of the outer loop and dismounting to walk up some of the short, steeper climbs.  All the while, I was enjoying the camaraderie of those around me.


Finishing the first lap was a relief – I was able to find out how my husband was doing (via a notepad on top of our shared cooler) as well as how my Founders teammates – Brad, Jeremy, Matt, Scott, Paul, Ralf, and Shawn – were doing.  So far, so good.  I didn’t feel extremely great and felt as though I may have pushed a bit too hard in certain sections of the course.  I gave myself a stern talking-to as I began the second lap and vowed to take it a bit easier this time.  My mantra for this lap – ‘Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.’  Halfway through the lap as I was stuffing my mouth with gummy bears at the aid station, I was passed by the race winner Jeff Schalk.  It was a little demoralizing to know that he was finishing and I was merely halfway done.  Then I remembered that I am not a professional mountain bike racer.  I’m just a chick with a muffin top trying to ride 100 miles of bumpy singletrack on a bike with one gear and no suspension.  All I needed to do was keep on moving. 


The remaining second and third laps passed without incident – I saw fewer and fewer people as I rolled along.  My legs were tired and my hands, arms, and shoulders were burning.  I was very happy to be greeted by my teammates Shawn Crowley and Jeff Jacobi when I reached the aid station on the third lap.  Their kind words stuck with me through the tough sections ahead and before I knew it, I was in the final miles of my first 100-mile mountain bike race.  As I rounded the last turn and got a glimpse of the parking lot through the trees, I couldn’t stop smiling.  A small cheering section of awesome friends and teammates were waiting for me as I crossed the line and was handed the prestigious finisher’s patch.  Eleven hours and seven minutes after it started, it was all over.  I celebrated with my teammates and some cold Founders Pale Ale, happy to have the miles behind me and looking forward to the next 100-miler.  Maybe……


The Founders/Alger Racing team was out in force for this race with impressive rides all around:


Jeremy Karel – 9:11:05 (66th Men’s Open)

Scott Thenikl – 9:31:18 (88th Men’s Open)

Matt Remelts – 9:35:28 (91st Men’s Open)

Ralf Scharnowksi – 10:13:45 (111th Men’s Open)

Paul Popielarz – 10:57:12 (24th Master’s 50+)

Sue Swiger – 11:07:20 (14th Women’s Open)

Shawn Crowley – 6:37:25 (2 laps)

Brad Bacon – 7:40:45 (2 laps)


Founders/Alger Racing’s co-captain and LJ100 race promoter Rick Plite and wife Cathy along with a host of many volunteers work tirelessly to make this event great year after year.  Big huge thanks to you all!

 Sue Swiger

Continuing the beer theme….

Picture 014
Anyone ever have this one (see attached picture)?  HIGHLY recommend this one!  The label says “blond ale”, but I’d call it more of a hoppy Belgian trippel.  Brewed in the Netherlands but notes that it is “Brewed for The Leyerth, Ruiselede, Flanders, Belguim”.  9.5% ale, top fermented and bottle conditioned the way it naturally should be.  $4.19/single bottle pricetag.  Found it at the gem of a grocery store the local bike shop in Greensboro, NC recommended to me.  They also carry several Founders options (including IPA — in my fridge now!) which tells me they know good beer!

8 Hours of Cannonsburg

Gabe Niehof 8-Hour Ski Area
The Cannonsburg 8 hour challenge was a hot one!  I could only rock 3 hours of the 8 hour race because my niece had her high school graduation open house that I couldn’t miss.  Jeff Jacobi and I were the only ones flying the Founders colors that day.  I know a lot of our team had the Lumberjack race the following weekend and did not want to tackle an 8 hour challenge one week before.  I ended up with 6 laps in 3 hours which put me in 4th place (out of 5 riders).  Hats off to Jacobi with a 2nd place finish!!  He did 15 LAPS – 91 miles of single track!!!   
Gabe Niehof

Mohican mudfest

dennis at mohican

Mohican 100- yes I keep calling it MUDhican- which is exactly what it was…….

Teammate Martin had sent me a great glowing description of the Mohican trails. I didn’t see THOSE trails, but I saw glimpses of what could be potential of those trails.
I got to Loudonville Ohio Friday evening and got my race packet. I’d been in Ohio all week for work and it rained every day in central Ohio. As I got to Loudonville, it was raining once again.
I had dinner then checked into my inexpensive motel which was five miles from the start of the race, which was downtown Loudonville. The finish would be at the Mohican Adventure resort which was about two miles west of downtown Loudonville.
I set the alarms for 6am but woke up at 4am and tried to get back to sleep but the residents of then next room were stirring at 430-500am anyway so sleep was difficult. I got up at about 515am and dressed and packed, departing the room and arriving in downtown Loudonville about 6am under a light drizzle of rain.
I had dressed with legwarmers, armwarmers and a base layer. Rain looked imminent at any time but the temperatures were well into the 70s so I peeled off the base layer and warmers. I was glad I did because I never got cold during the race.
The race started at 700am with 600+ riders heading out of Loudonville on the paved roads north straight up a steep climb. Once out of town there was a left turn onto a country road about a half mile, then a sharp right onto a short gravel track and …….. a standstill! The course there immediately funnelled to a singletrack which began with a sharp drop and very few riders were actually trying to ride it. As we stood there, the guy in front of me was puking four or five times and explained it as nerves and adrenaline. Kinda funny.
Once into the singletrack we began some of the most torturous racing/riding I’ve done in all my mountainbike riding life. The trail soil was a churned, pasty pancake-like paste of material which gummed up your tire tread and cause the back wheel to slip constantly. Any downhill was impossible to take at any decent speed since the greasy slipperiness of the trail would make stopping or turning completely difficult if not impossible. Steady grade uphills were almost impossible to ride due to the back wheel slipping. The technical sections were hazardous as wheels were slipped and thrown sideways on any angled root or rock.
I’ve never walked so much in a race as I did Saturday. Curiously, and I wasn’t the only one to notice this as RBS racer Art Fleming even said the same thing, there were numerous- numerous- hike-a-bike sections that would not have even been rideable in good weather. Some of these were well over 100 yards long.
I got to the first aid station (approximately mile 20) in THREE HOURS. Keep in mind, as a frame of reference, I rode the first 18 miles of Cohutta singletrack in two hours. It had rained the night before at Cohutta too. But Mohican trail did not drain and was a saturated paper-mache tread. I drank some water at Aid #1 and let more air from my tires which started at 45lbs. I was surprised to see pro-racer Danielle Musto show up. She was having much difficulty with her rear derailleur.
Back on the course, more mud, then- yes- more mud. There were a couple spots of road and gravel two track, then………….. more mud. And yet, more mud…………..
At one point we crossed a creek which was about knee deep and I dunked my bike in and washed the mud off the drive train. It was a short-lived cleaning since as soon as you got out of the creek, you had to hike the bike up a hill which again could not be ridden given the conditions. After this 100+ yard climb on foot, you could re-mount the bike for……… more mud.
Aid station #2, I arrived at 100pm. Six hours of grueling riding in slippery, tread-clogging riding I’d gone 34 miles- REALLY! This aid station had a power hose, so I hosed down the bike and cleaned the drive train. I filled both Heed bottles, which I’d emptied in the last ten miles. Danielle was working with a mechanic on her bike, still experiencing drive train issues, unfortunately. She’s quite fast and I know if it weren’t for the mechanicals she’d have contended for podium.
I rode out the continue the race. Another walking climb due to the mud, some riding in the mud, a turn and a climb. I paused a mile or mile-and-a-half into the next section and took out the laminated map and directions of the course. Description for the 100 miler’s read “enter the Mohican State Forest…….” UGH. More singletrack, MORE MUD.
I hesitated for four or five minutes, undecided as to my decision, then turned back to Aid station #2. My right leg (ITband area) was getting achy from pushing the bike through the mud, I was six hours in and only 34 miles, there were no significant sections of road or two track on the course and more singletrack at the less-than-six-miles-per-hour pace meant a long long long day of riding. Additionally, the race has cut-offs and if you don’t pass certain stations by a certain time the pull you from the course anyway.
I evaluated the fact I could ride for nearly 80 or 90 miles and get pulled to DNF anyway. I then turned the bike around and headed back to the aid station. I cleaned the bike again, told a volunteer I was dropping and road the gravel and paved roads back to the Mohican Adventure resort- all road riding which took me about a half hour.
I then rode the two miles further back into Loudonville during which a complete thunderstorm blew in again. As I was getting drenched (and inadvertently cleaned off of the mud), I knew I’d made the right decision about dropping out.
I ended up cleaning off the mud, packing my gear and going to the race headquarters to eat my post-race meal, then drove back to Michigan.
All in all, I don’t think I will try Mohican again. I am definitely going back to Cohutta, but I won’t commit to Mohican. Give the cost and time to do one of these events, I want to go to a race that is rideable even in inclement weather because once you pay for the event you gotta do it – or try it- even in bad weather. Cohutta is rideable in even a downpour- I’d found that out in April. But I don’t want to commit to another Mohican effort if the weather becomes uncooperative and then have to try an impossible course.
Interestingly, pro racer Jeff Shalk took over eight hours to finish Mohican this year. Last year the winner finished in about 6-1/2 hours.

Dennis B Murphy

Race Report. Hope it doesn’t suck

jacobi at bloomer

This weekend I attended the Bloomer Park XC race on the east side of our lovely state. The park lies in the heart of Rochester Hills and is a great place to ride a bike. The park holds our only velodrome in the state and has some of the most technical trails I have ridden. 

 The start of the day was picture perfect, you really couldnt ask for a better start to the race. With that being said, I was feeling great, I had my lovely wife and my dog there to help with the support. This was going to be a 5 lap event covering over 26 miles and this was my first year racing in the Elite group at Bloomer. The start of the race was typical, Fast and furious; I was able to hold on to the lead group for about ¾ of the lap. That’s when my body started to tell my brain, This Hurts! The course was nothing but straight up then straight down. Normally my kind of course. But not that day. For some reason my body was over powering my brain with pain and suffering. It was not my normal pain that I can control and take over. You see the mind is stronger than you think. But when you don’t have it, you don’t have it. My legs, my lungs, my arms Hurt and I could not get them under control. Needless to say I had to stay with it.  By this time I was on my 3rd lap and had to do 2 more.

 Most every racer goes through this pain. This is where the weak fail and the strong prevail. I asked myself over and over, can I give up? Would my wife understand? What mechanical problem would I fake? Please have a flat tire or something break, Please!  I just want to Quit.   Well you see I have never quit a race do to this Phenomenon. I have always finished!  This day I was going to finish. Rounding my last grueling lap, I guessed I was close to last place, Not Cool.  But that is all right. Last place is better than DNF. All I had to do was finish now.  Last lap came and went faster than the previous it was only a blur. But when I rolled a crossed the line to end my fight, there was a sense of pride and failure, that I had failed the race because of my place on the standings, but no I had finished. So I had won the fight in my head. You see that is more important. Standings are important but the real battle is in your own head. The true reason why we race is the sense of accomplishment and pride we get when you complete something. Even if your body won’t cooperate. Well the race was over. I had a bad day; it is not the end of the world. I learned a lot about myself that day. Well to say the least I finished 9th out of 10 guys. The 10th guy DNF. I will be back! 

I am on the founders Team for one reason. Pride!  Ever sense I was a young man I thought it would be cool to race for a Beer team. Well now I’m on one, and the sense of pride always wins and I must finish. Even if I am in last or first. Would Founders stop making beer if it was hard? No. they do it because they love to make beer and I love to ride bikes. So I will continue to race with a sense of pride that takes me to the finish.

 Thank you Founders and Alger for the chance to show my pride. 

Jeff Jacobi