Where in the world is Dennis?

Big bike adventure
So I’ve been in China two weeks and was finally able to acquire a bicycle.  I had a bit of trepidation because traffic here is nuts and I considered most riding opportunities dangerous.
The bike I borrowed is a Giant mountain bike.  Most bikes here are mountain bikes. I see very few road bikes and other two wheel transportation is mostly e-bikes and electric mopeds.
I had the pedals swapped for my road pedals to clip in (Time pedals).  I also found a nearby bike shop with the brand XDS nearby. It’s a decent shop on par with any good shop in the USA.  I found out XDS bikes are made in southern China and most XDS shops are actually factory owned.  This shop sponsors a team and they do a team ride each Saturday. I was told if I wanted to join to come to the shop at 5pm.
I arrived at 5pm and luckily one person who was riding, a young woman named Alisa, spoke very good English.  The ride didn’t start at 5pm, but after some food and checking of bikes etc, we finally got under way maybe an hour or more later.
on the XDS rides
The ride was more of a social ride than a training ride, but everyone was very enthusiastic.  We rode in fairly heavy traffic at times and rode on paved paths as we worked our way out of town.  The ride would progress a few miles, then come to a halt as we waited for all the riders of varying abilities to collect. There’s be some standing around and bantering for 10-20 minutes, they’d do a head count and off we’d go again.  I kept my Garmin running the entire time rather than pause it during these breaks to get an idea of the total time of the event rather than just the ride time so my average speed is perhaps 6mph.
I had thought this was only a 20-30 mile ride, but it turned out to be an all night affair.  We eventually reached the Wutong National Park where there was some actual elevation and climbing riding protected paths with pedestrians, as well as a mountain paved road which also had cars climbing into the park. Reaching the peak, descended to a small kiosk where most of us bought more water. (Temperatures were approximately 85F and 75% humidity even at night).
At one water stop, 6-8 people lined up to get their picture taken with me. I felt like a celebrity LOL.  A couple riders could speak some minimal English but I pretty much hung with Alisa as she was most proficient.
We exited the park and reached a commercial area where we stopped for dinner. Alisa had said something about a dinner but I thought that was when the ride ended, not in the MIDDLE of the ride.  We’d gone about 20-25 miles and it was now dark. (Everyone had lights.  I’d brought mine with foresight).  I didn’t look at the time but it must have now been near 10pm.  I had not expected to be out late and Alisa mentioned something about getting back to the start point after 1am!  WOW. But even if I had wanted to bail and head back to my apartment, I would not have known how to get back.  I had no clue where I was and no real option but to just finish the ride.
The riders lined up the bikes and took seats at three tables and ordered dinner.  When the tea arrived, Alisa instructed me to do as the others, peel the saran wrap from the bowl, plate, cup and chopsticks and use the super hot tea as a sanitizer. (Normally the saran wrap indicates the items are already sanitized but if they were not taking chances, neither was I). While waiting for dinner, a large fish jumped from the tank onto the pavement and flopped around until the restaurant manager came out and scooped it up and put it back in the tank.  And yes, fish was a menu option.
Dinner arrived arrived in the form of the traditional communal plates, about 6 of them. Fortunately a couple were vegetarian (one was a spicy cabbage dish).  After more than an hour of chatting and eating, we finally saddled up to head back in a near reversal of our outbound course with the same ride, stop, collect, resume pattern.  As we exited the national park, we were met by a support van. Several riders bailed on the ride as they loaded their bikes into and on top of the van.  Again this process took 40-45 minutes.
Onward now and getting back into town, about the 40 mile mark a couple of the young guys showed their vim & vigor with fast paced sprints and the overall speed of the group picked up.  But this tempered quickly and I could tell that despite the enthusiasm, most were not endurance riders and the more than 40 miles was taking a toll and the group slowed down.  We finally reached the bike shop at 2am! Whew!
I had thought riding here would be dangerous. Traffic is nuts and seemingly chaotic. But after last night one can see there’s almost a method to the madness.  I am not intimidated by riding in traffic however and ironically, it is really rather safer here with cars on the road than at home in Grand Rapids.  The reason is that two-wheel transportation is ubiquitous and drivers are attuned and accustomed to dealing with them.  Also, drivers here, when confronted with bikes (and e-bikes and mopeds) actually slow down when passing or maneuvering. So even if one was hit by a car or bumped, it’s at the same speed which lessens the danger for more serious injury.   In contrast, US drivers seem to come upon cyclists going 15-20mph and then want to punch the gas pedal and pass at 3-4 times the speed creating a more dangerous speed differential.
The real hazard here is e-bikes and pedestrians, but more so e-bikes.  When on the paved multi-use paths which are everywhere, the population has no sense of stay to the right-pass left.  This entails quite a bit of weaving and dodging around pedestrians and other bikes and e-bikes (and mopeds).
But the e-bike riders are most dangerous. We had numerous occasions on our ride with e-bikes riding against traffic in the wrong lane or on one way streets and none of them ride with lights at night.  One is more likely to collide with an e-bike rider than a car here.
Dennis w XDS team1
But I had the chance to carry the Founders logo here as I rode in my Founders team kit.

Dennis B Murphy

Founders Lumberjack 100

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You hear about cyclist in our community talk about the Lumberjack 100. It’s like THE race that is held high on a pedestal and once you can say you have actually completed it, you have arrived as a credible cyclist.

Some say, “I just want to be able to finish it.”
Some say, “It’s on my bucket list.”
Some say, “I’ll NEVER do that race!” Hey! That was me!

The Lumberjack 100 is over 9,000 feet of climbing through one of my favorite trail systems: The Big M. The meandering sections of trail lead you through pine forests that smell amazing as your tires crush the trail littered with needles. Then you go through these “aspen tunnels” of swooping single-track, followed by trail covered with a canopy of hardwoods that take you over some super-fun rollers. There are sections where you feel like you are riding in a scene from Jurassic Park as the ferns line the trail on either side of you as far as you can see. Oh…did I mention the punchy uphills in between what feel like endless climbs? 100 miles on dirt is not the same as 100 miles of pavement or gravel.

It is my 5th year riding for Founders. Many of my team mates had done the Lumberjack 100 & encouraged me to give it a try. I always felt it would be impossible since it fell on the same week that I wrapped up my classroom and completed report cards. There was also the fact that I had NEVER ridden 100 miles of dirt single-track in 1 day.

I considered it a fun race for me to help out at the aid station. But at last year’s race I felt the tug: “You’ve gotta do this!”

My goal was to COMPLETE not COMPETE since I had spent the week helping Rick, Cathy and Tenner get ready for the BIG SHOW. (A TON of work goes into this race. It’s like having a wedding and inviting 1,000 guests.) Friday was spent selling swag and chit-chatting with the racers at packet pick-up. Tenner kept saying, “You need to sit down and relax a bit” but we were super busy! Luckily, around 7 PM Rob & Jeremy were heading to dinner so I jumped into the Scooby-doo van & they gave me a lift back to the cabin to prep 3 hydration packs filled with Infinite Nutrition, make some potatoes and pack my secret weapons: Sweet potato waffles with almond butter and some home-made steel-cut oat bread PB&J’s. NO GU PACKS FOR ME!

The 4:15 AM alarm came waaaaay too soon. I got up and blearily ate an english muffin swiped with PB&J and drank my usual Mocha Frappuccino with coconut water & almond milk. I got dressed and pulled on some arm warmers since it was only 44 degrees. We arrived to the Big M hearing the traditional song of the whippoorwill and the hub-bub of racers waiting to pick up their race packets that Cathy & I spent hours stuffing. Before I knew it, it was time to head over to the start.

As I made my way down the road with Jenny Scott, my mind wasn’t in the usual “race mode”. We chatted about the ax she was wearing on her helmet and looked for a place to line up. When Rick announced the race start, we all rolled out in a big blob. Some faster than others until we swerved around to enter the single track. It was like the highway merging into one lane. Each man (& woman) for themselves. The tools barging in where they felt they deserved to be. The first 10 miles was a slow train with no momentum to charge up the short punchy hills. I could have sworn it was my slowest lap. Things began to spread out a bit and I just kept a positive attitude. I made it to the Founder’s support tent in less than 3 hours. My husband, (Tenner), Jeremy, Summer & her husband were all there to strip my hydration off, sling on a new one and re-fill my gas tank. Thanks, guys! On to lap 2.

Lap 2 was lonely! Where were all of the choo-choo train guys from the 1st lap? Once in a while I would ride along and come across a lone soul, encouraging them that we were more than half way there. Once I reached the aid station I had accumulated a list of things Cathy could text Tenner about: Fingerless gloves, Booty balm, & 1 Bayer Back and Body (since I had wiped out and bent my pinky and cut my knee.) I remember taking my Carb-0-rockets regularly to avoid cramping & hearing Jeremy in my head, “Keep drinking!” Round 2 was nearly over! Another thanks to the pit crew while I made a pit stop.

One lap to go! I knew I could do it if I just stayed positive and just kept pedaling. There was not a moment when it crossed my mind to quit. I HAD to finish because I was not going to sign up for this again next year! It seemed to take forever to get to the aid station, I kept thinking, “I will be crossing the little bridges any second.” But it would always be the wrong pine forest with ferns. Finally, I saw the peace signs Cathy had hung up just past the little bridges. I was almost to the aid station! I couldn’t stop. I was afraid it would have hurt too much to get back on again. I looked ahead and could see Dennis! It gave me motivation to catch up to him. I climbed slowly behind him until I found my voice. “Dennis! It’s Marnie!” I shouted. He had done this thing 9 times and was going for the 9 hour mark.

“Marnie! Good job!” he replied. “We’re almost there.” We rode together for a bit until we hit Fire Tower. Dennis B. Murphy put that bike on his shoulder cyclocross style and ran up that Mo-Fo!
“You’re the man, Dennis!” I hollered, so impressed as I barely had the energy to walk my bike up that hill. I knew the sketchy gravel downhill was next and I could recover for a bit. I looked at my Garmin and seriously thought I would finish under 9 hours! (I forgot that time stops when you go less than 1 mile per hour.) I couldn’t believe it when I made that final downhill flyer toward the finish. I had a huge smile on my face knowing that I would finish. I crossed the line just over the 9 hour mark to the cheers of the crowd, most importantly my husband & team mates. Tenner handed me my “Lumberjack 2015 Finisher” patch and told me I made the podium! #10 for TenCate. I’ll take it!

The Lumberjack 100 is in the books, off the bucket list. The race I would NEVER do was done. Next year, look for me at the aid station! I will be wearing a sombrero, shaking maraca’s & handing out PB&J’s, encouraging YOU! YOU CAN DO IT!

Yankee TT- Spin to WIN!

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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)
Place Name Sponsor Lap 1 Lap2 Time
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

matt

Founders Barry-Roubaix 2015 – Hell of the Mitten

Hell of the Mitten
119 years ago a couple of textile manufacturers named Teddy and Moe started a little race in France called the Paris-Roubaix.  Maybe you have heard of it.  It is referred to as the “Hell of the North”.  Not because of what the riders endure but because, after World War I, much of the route was left in a hellish state, bearing scars from years of shelling and trench warfare.   The air in many areas hung thick with the stench of rotting cattle and ruptured sewage systems.  The blackened earth in every direction was churned up creating a flat, baron and muddy landscape.  Sounds like a real blasty blast huh?!

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Well over here in the good ole mitten state we have our own Teddy and Moe.  You may know them as Rick Plite and Scott Tencate, and they know how to put on one HELL of race…THE BARRY-ROUBAIX! Are there cobbles?  Well…no.  Is it 253.5 KM of beautiful northern France?  Not quite.  17th century farm houses?  Castles?  A Velodrome finish?  Nope, nope and nope.  But you know what it IS…miles of beautiful southwest Michigan gravel, challenging climbs, unpredictable weather, rabid dogs, a mile of 2 track which scares the living shit out of most roadies, some of the most well lived-in double-wide trailers, dozens of full sized Chevy trucks parked on the side of the road while their owners are off in the woods doing god knows what and the greatest post-race party on the friggin planet!  It may not be the “Hell of the North” but it surely will challenge you.  Oh, and you know what else?  IT IS THE LARGEST DAMN GRAVEL ROAD RACE…..IN THE WORLD (read in the voice of Jeremy Clarkson).

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Every year seems to be a new experience for me at the Barry-Roubaix.  This was my 6th go at it and I can honestly say that each year has brought different road conditions and different weather.  I have slogged through mud bogs and two tracks.  I have skated on my ass down ice covered gravel.  I have been chased by 3 legged dogs trained to kill all the weirdos in spandex.  Now, I wouldn’t compare these conditions to those of post WWI France, but mud, ice and 3 legged killer dogs are pretty frickin scary.  With the exception of testicle shrinking cold temps in the morning, the 2015 edition was the best yet.  Clear blue skies and some of the fastest gravel I have ever ridden awaited me and 3500 other racers.  Add to this an extremely well-orchestrated race start, a well-marked course and the greatest group of volunteers/corner marshals around and you have a race experience like no other.
At race start I felt really good.  For once, I had a decent amount of training leading up to the race.  Also, for the first time ever I was actually able to pace myself in anticipation of the first series of climbs, aka “The 3 sisters”.  As Tenner says “You never want to blow your wad before you get to the 3rd sister”. (Despite being raised in a duffel bag in the back seat of his uncle-daddy’s truck, that mop head Tenner is somewhat bright.)  The first two sisters came easy (get your mind out of the gutter) as they often do.  The real gauge to how the first half of your race will go is the 3rd sister.  She can be a real bitch from whom there is no quick recovery.  But this time I found myself cresting her with only a fair amount of effort.  Hell, my heart rate barely reached 210 bpm!  The highlight for me on this beautiful race day was the paved sections on both Gun Lake Rd and the Fat Lady on Broadway at the end of the race (think about it).  Fortune smiled down upon me as I was able to hang with a decent sized group averaging well over 20 mph.  I did more passing than getting passed and never let off the gas. (until another rider nearly took me out in the very last turn before the finish.  But I won’t get into that here.)
I ride my bike for several reasons.  Good friends and good beer are two of them and there was plenty of both awaiting me at the finish line.  The Barry-Roubaix after-party is unbelievable!  It is a huge gathering of bike-minded, beer-guzzling, bad-ass friends all celebrating the start of the nonfat season.  If you participated in this year’s race and did not leave with a huge smile on your face….well then you are doing something very wrong my friend.
Rob Meendering3

24- MILE CHILLER RESULTS:

Gabe Niehof Founders Racing Grand Rapids MI 1:18:38

36- MILE THRILLER TEAM RESULTS:
1:49:35    Matt Remelts                       40-42 Men 36M
1:58:10    Shawn Crowley                      35-37 Men 36M
2:09:57   Marnie Tencate                     46+ Women 36M
2:10:14   Rob Meendering                     35-37 Men 36M
2:13:00   Jane Van Hof                     40-45 Women 36M
2:15:25   Joshua Hogeterp                    35-37 Men 36M
2:26:04   Jeffrey Jacobi           Men SS & Fixed Gear 36M

62- MILE KILLER TEAM RESULTS:

Jeremy Karel Founders Racing Rockford MI 3:09:09
Earl Hillaker Founders Racing Grand Rapids MI 3:15:40

 

 

 

 

Cannonsburg Ski Area Fatty Fatty 2×4 Downhill Fat Bike Race

11006419_962877143730369_4248192848802025089_nWhen I heard about this I knew I wanted to try it. The cost was only $10 and it was a race format I’ve never tried on dirt let alone snow. The format was to race 4 wide down the course which is littered with bank turns, double jumps, step downs and rollers. Each run down the hill 3rd and 4th place were eliminated to the consolation round and the top two advance to the next round and so on. I was only able to get Brad Bacon from the team to sign up and he even got a loaner 616 Fatbike to use for the day. We both chose the Intermediate Class over the Expert Class.

10676351_722358581215414_245295480191889065_nBoth Brad and I were called up in the first round to compete against each other. I knew right there I was in trouble since Brad is use to racing downhill events. Sure enough he was off to a fast start and had the lead, while I was sitting second. I had taken 3 practice runs and knew the course was getting softer and softer as the days temps rose into the forties so my goal was to just ride safe and survive my run down the course. I was fine with getting bumped out early and enjoying the sunshine and a cold Founders Centennial while watching others battle it out. But then it happened, Brad hit the second to last double jump with way more speed than I would have and sure enough he was sailing through the air without his bike and landed hard on his right hand and shoulder. I came in first but I would not wish that on anyone. Ends up Brad broke his wrist and will require surgery. Dang it, our team is jinxed of late. First Tenner with a clavicle, then Paul with a clavicle, then Tom’s turn as he breaks his ankle. Now we have Brad all gimpy. Someday this team will be whole again, lets hope sooner rather than later.

I got to advance to the next round and again survived with a second place finish as racers kept crashing around me. Just stay upright and safe I kept thinking, after all Cathy made it very clear I had a large job ahead of me in 3 weeks (Barry-Roubaix) and my daughter said I was too old for this shit anymore, she didn’t want to have to take care of a vegetable. Her exact words!

5335192857_baffc74dfcOne the final round of four racers and I was clearly in the lead as racers fell left and right behind me but I kept hearing someone yell, “pedal, pedal faster Rick!” Sure enough someone was on my tail for the final sprint to the finish but the 40 yards of finish chute had 3 rollers and a jump at the finish line. The last thing I wanted to do was sprint as fast as possible over bumps and jumps only to become airborne. Air and me don’t do well together, at least anything over 8″ maybe. I had no idea who won, it was too close to call from my position. Did you win? “I don’t know, I couldn’t tell either” said John. So I was the first to ask the officials, who won? You did, by 2 inches was word. Wow! Are you kidding me!? I show up only to survive with no broken bones and end up walking away as the winner of the Intermediate class. Just goes to show you never know.

1450670_962876927063724_4341952685185519314_nGet well soon Brad, I bet we would have been on the podium together had you not crashed, only you’d be on the top step instead of me.

 

Rockford MTB Club

Every time I ride Luton Park I’m reminded of my good friend, coworker and mentor Jon Muller. Jon and I use to commute to our schools in Rockford together from our homes in Alger Heights, discussing and dreaming along the way of one day giving students a chance to experience one of our passions; cycling. Although Jon is no longer with us, his legacy continues in a small but extremely meaningful way.

Rockford Public Schools offers many intramural sports to students, mostly free of charge, in hopes of giving kids a chance to experience something new and challenging. I was extremely honored to take on the role of leading a mountain bike group each week in hopes of sharing what I love outside my classroom walls. While I purposefully train and race most weekends throughout the spring, summer and fall, simply getting on my bike and sharing the experience with others is what makes the sport worthwhile. It has brought me great friendships and community that I otherwise would not have.
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Our club meets on Mondays. The first week, about 15 students showed up along with a few parent helpers. By the second and third week, we had more than 30 students, almost filling the parking lot off of 10 mile. Our group ranges in ability, from high schoolers who can ride the entire loop in an hour, to my normal group of 4 who ride a short distance, stop for a water break and take in the wonder of the changes leaves. Our group has both boys and girls with bikes from department stores to Rockford’s very own Speed Merchant. The coolest part about these Mondays after school really isn’t the riding or the challenge of getting through an obstacle that may have tripped someone up the week before, its the idea that riding a bike can bring together kids in a way few other sports can. A bike is a basic machine, but allows those who are willing, the freedom to simply be present and stress free. Every time I get on my bike, I’m reminded of my childhood and the carefree life that once was. My hope is that students get a feeling of this also. And maybe, one day will remember how much this sport can offer when they are older.

While Luton has changed and grown with the addition of the new parking lot, I still find myself taking the long way and heading into the trail off of Kies. There’s a plaque that sits at an entrance to one of Luton Park’s loops dedicated to Jon Muller. Jon started this club. Many of the students he began with are now high schoolers but still come on Mondays. Legacy’s aren’t always just born but built over time. Jon’s legacy continues to grow.

Jeremy Karel

ed. note: Wow, very cool. It is weird how this blog has taught me so much about our own riders. Ernie’s MLive article was another great example of this. Thanks for sharing Jeremy.

Mountain bikers input needed!

Dear fellow mountain bikers,

Kisscross Events has submitted a proposal to the Manistee National Forest Service to obtain a permit to use the North Country Trail System for a Fall 2015 mountain biking event.

more event details http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/nepa_project_exp.php?project=45340

This would be a point to point, timed challenge that would navigate approximately 80 miles of the most scenic sections of the North Country Trails, which are always open to bicycle traffic. Sound awesome? We need your help!

The Forest service is soliciting comments from the public regarding allowing or denying the permit for this event.

If you, your friends and teammates feel this is an event you would support, please take a minute to provide your feedback and help spread the word throughout the cycling community.

The deadline is October 15.

Comments can be addressed to: Kathy Bietau, US Forest Service

Email: kbietau@fs.fed.us or Phone: 231 745-4631

Positive comment bullet points would include:

Economic impact to the community

Bring awareness and appreciation of The North Country Trail

We are active and enjoy healthy lifestyles

We are respectful to other trail users

Enjoy the scenic beauty of the Manistee National Forest

Scientific evidence now indicates that mountain biking is no more damaging to trails than other forms of recreation, including hiking. (source-IMBA 2007 study “managing mountain biking”)

Thank you for your help!

Big Dog Strikes Beermuda Triangle – Keep it Leashed! Annual Founders Team Labor Day Outing

On Monday September 1st, 12 hearty souls set out to brave the Beermuda Triangle. This Founders Team Labor Day ritual combines the last long ride of the summer with stops at some of Michigan’s best breweries. unnamedOur journey started at Founders Brewing.  Like sailors in the treacherous Bermuda Triangle, we faced the threat of rough seas ahead. Fighting a strong headwind, we made our way to Old Boys Brewing in Spring Lake.  Drizzle began to fall as we completed our tour around beautiful Spring Lake. The skies let loose the moment we stepped inside Old Boys. While mother nature unleashed her tempest, we enjoyed lunch, drink and camaraderie at the dog themed brewery.  While the photo op with the capt’n (a random lover of spandex in search of a group photo) was a highlight of the stop; was the brewery’s dog theme an omen? unnamed2The heavens dried up for the second leg of the triangle, a southbound ride towards to Holland.  On route we sprinted up Five Mile Hill (often renamed by local vandals) and then continued down scenic Lake Shore Drive. After a short refreshment stop at New Holland Brewing, we embarked on the third leg of our tour.  Riding towards Founders Brewing, we enjoyed a tailwind and great spirits.  Our rolling average exceeded 20 mph and the group had suffered only one flat.  By all accounts, an excellent ride. Five miles from Founders, our group turned onto the Kent Trails bike path.  We relaxed in anticipation of cold beers and tasty food.  Ahead, an elderly couple was enjoying their walk. Suddenly, disaster struck.  A big dog leaped out of the bushes directly in front of a rider.  Mike hit the 100+ pound dog and was thrown from his bike.  We feared a broken collar bone and Mike’s carbon fiber bike looked like a write off.  Fortunately Mike was spared a fracture. The dog belonged to the walking couple.  They were very apologetic and hadn’t thought twice about letting their dog run free.  Please take leash laws seriously. Thanks to all who made this a memorable ride. It’s unfortunate that a great ride was overshadowed by a fully avoidable crash.   Wishing Mike a speedy recovery and looking forward to a safe ride in 2015. Special thanks to Jack Kunnen and Andy Westmoreland for the photos and for driving the Sag-a-ru. Ralf Scharnowskihttp://www.newbalanceoutlet.cc

Drunken Beaver Tour Part I

image_1The whiskey had not yet fully set in.  The storm over the lakeshore, however, had.  As I laid in my tent I thought about the journey we had just embarked upon.  I thought back to day one of Matt and I drinking a couple of beers and downloading some Tom Waits songs before we even took the first “official” pedal strokes.  It felt like months ago.  We discussed this phenomenon many times only to draw the conclusion that the sheer amount of memories made it seem as though the timeline stretches much farther than one realizes.

We set out from my doorstep bound for my in-laws place on Cobb lake a mere 27 miles away.  Jeremy would joins us later in the evening as he was taking part in a game called “gulf or golf”.  Something involving sticks and balls without bikes.  At the Cobb Lake Luxury Resort we enjoyed a steak dinner, fine local wine, many beers and far too much bourbon.image_2The proprietor (my mother in-law) was kind enough to make us a delicious breakfast the following morning, of which I was only able to eat a few bites.  Something in my belly was not agreeing with the mix of spirits from the evening prior.  A quick refreshing dip in the lake had me feeling like a new man and we were off to Paw Paw.  Along the way we decided upon a brief layover in the “island town” of Plainwell.  Our first stop was a surprisingly good gastropub called the Lost Raven.image_3
We ate, we drank, we discovered that our waitress had a twin sister that worked down the road at The Old Mill Brew Pub down the road whom had just applied for a midget scholarship.  Naturally we had to investigate.
Upon arrival at The Old Mill Brew Pub we were greeted by the owner, Scott Zylstra, with a huge smile telling us to get our bikes up on the porch.  He then bought the 3 of us a pint of Crazy Beaver and took us on a private tour of the amazing building, a 150 year old flour mill.imageNever have I met a more energetic person.  Scott constantly wiped the sweat from his brow as he led us on a whirl wind tour, up to the expansive banquet hall, further up to the old grain bins and finally down to the basement where we were introduced to the ghost of William.

Back at the bar we enjoyed another pint before setting off for Paw Paw, the town so nice they named it twice.
The moment we arrived at Paw Paw brewing company, the locals welcomed us with slurred speech and glazed over smiles (Apparently they get the party started early down here).image_4 image_5 image_6We gulped down a few pints, shoveled some food in our face holes while listening to a decent string band and settled in for our first night of “camping”.  This evenings accommodations would be in a friends backyard complete with a pool, hot tub and multiple feline friends, some of whom tried getting very friendly with Matt at the wee hours of the morning.
The dawn would bring the first of many greasy spoon diners for breakfast followed by some incredibly beautiful gravel filled miles.  Rolling hills, small lakes, tunnels of trees, no traffic…heaven.image_7image_10 image_8 Then it happened.  This was our third long trip together and never did we have a breakdown or mechanical that I can think of.  Well, our fortune ended quicker than a Kim Kardashian marriage.  Matt ran over a piece of glass which I failed to point out and flatted.  No big deal…right?  Well, turns out that a valve stem can be incredibly difficult to remove.  Nothing that 4 guys, 3 pliers, a screwdriver, a hammer and a Dewalt drill can’t fix.

image_9An hour later (longest flat fix of my damn life) and we were on a beeline course for Sawyer, home of Greenbush Brewery.
The pace quickened as we turned onto Sawyer road.  We were all a bit excited, for Greenbush was a key destination.  The place was packed. Yet we managed to find a table against the back wall and immediately ordered a round of Brother Benjamin’s (a delicious imperial IPA brewed with honey).  One more round of beers (which we did not have to pay for) and we were out. image_11 image_12We would set up camp a couple miles north at Weko Beach in Brigdeman.  Fortunately they had one “site” available.  A tiny wedge of sand at the entrance of the campground.  Over the years we have camped in back yards, farms, side yards, behind bars and front yards.  This was the most piss poor excuse of a campsite we have ever had to utilize.  But as we always remind ourselves, nothing makes for a comfy night of sleep like a steady intake of beer.  So off to Tapistry Brewing we went.  After a half dozen very respectable beers, a brief brewery tour and a nightcap stop on the beach we settled in for the evening on our 150 sq ft sandbox.

The following morning we had the “pleasure” of meeting our new neighbor Dirty Larry.  This 70ish Veteran was kind enough to allow us use of what would be his piss poor sight well past the checkout time.  In exchange we were to endure stories of ‘Nam punctuated by seemingly endless ramblings of what was wrong with grownups then and what is even more wrong with the youth of today.  Turns out that Larry had a surprisingly colorful military experience which was cut short due to what he bluntly described as a “gay love affair”.  The next hour passed  in a blur of tent folding, gear stuffing and increasingly awkward stories of the legend of Dirty Larry.

Rob Meendering

Stay tuned for Part II of the Drunken Beaver Tour

Gran Fondo, ride for Dad, ride for all skin cancer victims

1Well, today was the big road race benefiting skin cancer and once again I
can’t thank you all enough for your generous donations! Your gift was
more than a show of support for me, but rather a display of action to help
skin cancer education and research. Thank you!
Marnie and I race for the Founders Brewing mountain biking team and
race quite a bit ( on dirt) but understand, I’m usually a stranger to any
podiums or high placing finishes, that’s Marnies area. Despite my past
performances, my goal was to line up in the front line of the race start line
( usually designated for the “winners” ) and go as hard as I could as long
as I could for my dad and all those battling cancer.
The 80-mile track started in downtown GR and took us to the shores of
Lake Michigan 40 miles away and back. The day started out on the warm
and muggy side and by the start of the race it was steamy. As I lined up in
the front row with the sun beating down, I cursed myself for not cutting my
shaggy hair which must have added ten degrees.

untitledWe took off and kept a pace of around 24 mph as we headed toward the
lakeshore. I was in the lead group of about 20 and feeling pretty good even
considering I hadn’t been on my road bike in two months and sweat was
pouring down my brow and dropping my sunscreen into my burning eyes.
During these moments of a mental lapse of pity I would distract my mind
by thinking about my dad. The way he faced his diagnosis and surgery
with courage and a positive attitude. The mental strain he endured with an
uncertain future and recovery. I pushed on a kept the pace.
After a quick stop for hydration at the half way lake shore support area,
the lead group was back on the bikes and pushing 25 mph. We were now
heading into the beating sun and a head wind that taunted me….I kept
thinking of the song with the lyrics “welcome to the jungle” but pushed on
with the group. By mile 60 I actually had visions that I wasn’t riding
outside anymore, but on a stationary bike in a sauna. Once again I cursed
myself for not getting a haircut. I passed by sprinklers in yards and
envisioning striping and running around like a little kid to cool my core
temp. Again, my thoughts were interrupted by the vision of my dad’s scar
and the many people who weren’t as lucky as me to see their dad survive
melanoma. I pushed on. At mile 70 my legs started to cramp and I knew I
was getting close to the finish but I knew my time at 23 + mph were over. I
fell off the back of the pack and called on my body for one last surge. Dad
didn’t give up, don’t you give up I said to myself. I latched back on to the
group but at a cost. Cramping legs told my mind I wasn’t tough enough
today and the group slowly pulled away. Sorry dad!
The last 10 miles I was by myself, but not really. I spent that time digging
into my reserves and fighting the heat and headwind determined to finish
strong. Along the way I recalled many great memories spent with my dad
and what a great mentor and father he is.
Needless to say I dint win the race but finished strong and had an
experience with my dad I’ll never forget. Final – 80 miles in 3:26:00
Thanks again and love to you all. Remember to apply sunscreen!!
Happy trails, Scott TenCate

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