Someone once said that in cycling it doesn’t matter how experienced or fit you are, it always hurts the same. The difference is how fast you go and how long you suffer. So to everyone who raced out at Yankee last weekend, I raise a pint glass and say, “We all suffered. We deserve this!”.
So how do you make all that suffering translate into going faster? One thing you can do is get the best machine for the job. What made the race especially fun for me this year was getting to break in my new Marin carbon hardtail from Gap30 Cycles (gap30cycles.com). I love it! However, you still need to make it go and the more I ride, the more I realize that mountain biking is like that painfully honest friend who literally cannot tell a lie and almost relishes every opportunity to point out your weaknesses. Sure, everyone has the occasional bad day even if you’re in great shape, but you can’t pull one over on these gods. Fluke accidents and mechanicals notwithstanding, it’s a 1:1 sport. You pretty much get out of it what you put in. The challenging part about the Yankee TT, besides the trail itself, is that it’s the first mountain bike race of the year. I always tend to treat Iceman as the kickoff to the off-season, but dragging myself out of that funk is a textbook exercise in procrastination and before I know it, the snow is gone and I’m in the starting block on a cold Spring morning at Deep Lake. So this year, I attempted to silence my “painfully honest friend” by trying something different. Spin class. Yup, I never thought I’d admit it, but it’s the best way to train in the off-season. I’ve dabbled in spin classes before but never really committed to it enough to get great results. I signed up for endurance class (2 hours of spin purgatory!) at the THE SHiFT (theshiftgr.com) and a couple one-hour downward-spiral-straight-to-hell classes on top of it. Heidi and Jeremy made it so much fun, it was like I wasn’t even working! Just kidding. It sucks. It hurts. You don’t ever look forward to it. You want to make every excuse to skip, like say, “I really should get started on my taxes.” I’m sure spin isn’t for everyone, and I know all the fatbikers out there are shaking their heads right now. That’s fine. Keep freezing your ass off out there in the dark and buying hundreds of dollars’ worth of winter gear. I’ll be putting that money toward more spin classes next year. But now for something completely different…
This year’s race was put into perspective for me as a friend and co-worker, Ryan Geister, was on a training ride a couple weeks before the race, went over the bars and was seriously injured. Feeling from his limbs was immediately lost and it took a couple hours for the paramedics to get him safely out of the trail. He was temporarily paralyzed, but expects a full recovery with time and a whole lot of work. He spent two weeks at Mary Free Bed and was finally able to leave in a wheelchair the weekend of the race. I’ve had my own injuries, one which required surgery and nine months of rehab, but this is way beyond anything I’ve endured. We participate in a sport that is fun most of the time, painful (in a good way) a lot of the time, and rewarding every single time you get back to your car in the parking lot. Consider those moments as victories.
After my injury, people would ask me if I was going to quit mountain biking and I would reply as if the answer was rhetorical. (Of course not! Would you stop driving after getting in an accident? NO!) I’m sure Ryan will be on the bike as soon as he can too.
The point is, whether you’re in this sport for fitness, fame, or fun, enjoy the moment no matter your race result. Be happy you’re out doing what you love to do. Ask yourself, “How many times did I think about work when I was on the trail?” We get to enjoy some of the best trails and races in Michigan and Yankee is a prime example. Many hours of hard labor go into maintaining our trails and making them ride/race-worthy. We have a great community of expert trail builders and racers. I love anticipating every race because I know what to expect: a good work out, good trails, good competition, good friends, good beer, and not necessarily good weather.
|ELITE MEN (OPEN)|
|4||Earl Hillaker||Founders Racing||45:38:00||45:58:00||31:36.0|
|ELITE WOMEN (OPEN)|
|6||Marnie Tencate||Founders Racing||54:58:00||57:36:00||52:33.9|
|SINGLE SPEED ELITE/EXPERT|
|2||Jeremy Karel||Founders Racing||46:14:00||47:29:00||33:42.8|
|6||Jeff Jacobi||Founders Racing||48:17:00||50:23:00||38:39.0|
|13||Tom Stolz||Founders Racing||52:01:00||54:10:00||46:10.5|
|EXPERT MEN 30-39|
|20||Joshua Hogeterp||Founders Racing||51:20:00||54:58:00||46:17.2|
|23||Shawn Crowley||Founders Racing||54:12:00||57:07:00||51:19.1|
|EXPERT MEN 40-49|
|1||Matt Remelts||Founders Racing||46:46:00||47:53:00||34:38.4|
|18||Scott Tencate||Founders Racing||49:01:00||52:04:00||41:04.2|
|EXPERT MEN 50 & OVER|
|23||Paul Popielarz||Founders Racing||55:35:00||59:53:00||55:28.9|
|FAT BIKE (OPEN)|
|15||Rob Meendering||Founders Racing||59:54.2|