It Was A Very Good Year – atmo

It Was A Very Good Year – atmo

matt2014 was my last year in the 30-39 expert race category. I was a solid top 5 racer but at every single race, I’d get caught by the lead group of 40-somethings. I knew the bar would be set higher this year and was determined to be able to hang. After spending the off-season training hard at The Shift, and getting not only a new mountain bike, but also a Marin carbon cross bike (thank you Gap30!), I began the year with a 4th place at Barry Roubaix in a sprint finish. Good start! Two weeks later I followed that up with a first place at Yankee with a solid margin of a whopping 9 seconds. Fast forward to Iceman where I started in wave 1, and also knew my main competition in KLM garb. If John Osgood didn’t win every year, he was at least on the podium. The start left me chasing for the entire race but I rallied and was feeling good with 10k left (which NEVER happens). I hit the single track passing the group I’d been riding with, put a gap on them and came up to another group. What’s that ahead? KLM? Tight barricades with 1k to go and I manage to pass one racer through an opening in the brush and finish with John just out of reach to claim third place. I was a scant 6 seconds from him and only 20 seconds from a first place finish.
I began this year with a few goals. Make it to my 40th birthday, make it through my 40th birthday party, get a new mountain bike, and make this the best cycling year of my life. Throw in a new car to really give it the mid-life crisis effect. Only this was no crisis. It was a celebration. After eleven of my twelve races this year, I was privileged to climb the podium with some amazing racers from several teams (mainly Cross Country), but special thanks to Roy Kranz and Paul Dunn for keeping me motivated and showing me how to compete at a new level. No matter how much we beat each other up (and we did… typically it was us three breaking away), the finish line demarcated race tactics from good natured mutual respect and beer sipping.
It wasn’t a good year strictly for the race results, though. More than ever, I learned that I can’t train hard without playing hard to balance it out. That’s where Founders Racing really steps up! I’m so happy to be a part of this team! The great turnout from them and other good friends at my 40th birthday shindig was amazing and I can’t thank them enough for making it my favorite birthday ever! Drag racing Scott and Marnie with Jeremy on an old 70’s kickback tandem still makes me laugh! Casual rides through urban single track and downtown parking ramps led by Jeff Jacobi (usually with a beer stop somewhere) are what keep this sport dynamic and fun. Ride hard and just go out easy the next day to enjoy the scenery. Take your kids out for a “recovery ride”. Ride the Barry Roubaix course on a nice day without turning Strava on. Seriously, that just makes you try too hard.
I raise a pint of Centennial to everyone for a great 2015 with one final congratulations to Tom Stolz for making a huge comeback from his wheelie serious injury last year! Also to the additions to our team for 2016, welcome to Founders Racing! Can’t wait to ride, race, and party with all of you for another year!

Dear year 2015

Dear year 2015,
You were one wild, fun filled ride.  Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner was named woman of the year, Donald Trump became the leading Presidential candidate, China exiled Dennis Murphy and Brad Bacon learned how to fly (sort of).
The Founders Racing family also had an incredible year with 38 podium finishes and over 60,000 miles logged (dang)!
We couldn’t be more excited about some big changes coming for the 2016 season.  Make sure you stay tuned to our Facebook, Instagram and Website to catch up on all of our antics and awesomeness.
Farewell 2015.  It sure has been great!
Rob Meedering

2015 Iceman Recap

12063534_842344422550162_4948176539845747533_nAfter last year’s mud-suck fest, I really procrastinated signing up for this year’s Iceman. I had used last year’s prize money to replace bike parts and then Iceman decided to raise the entry fee to $100.00. ..I just wasn’t “feeling it”. But there is one thing that draws me to that race and it is the feeling I have when I get to hang out with my Founder’s Team Family! The wives all come up which makes for more girl power & we all just have such a great time together! It all starts on Friday evening with a group of us meeting at “the campsite” to pre-ride the end of the course. (& toss our after-race clothes in Kim & Ernie’s camper.) We HAVE to pre-ride because you never know what Iceman has up his sleeve, so it is a good thing to check it out.  Then we all head to the Packet Pick-up Zoo with a zillion people who all tend to make me nervous.  Where’s my Founder’s Family in this sea of people? No worries! We all head over to North Peak Brewing for a giant “Brady Bunch” style table.  Other teams are envious when they see the fun we have as a team…so we invite them to have a seat! Just being together makes the nerves roll away. Then it is time to TRY & get some sleep.

Race morning arrives and I am SO thankful it is not pouring rain! I feel ready as I line up with my team mate, Jane and a great friend from GRBC.  We all take off & when I say “WE” I mean “THEY”…for some reason, taking off in one big blob makes me super scared. My first Iceman I saw a horrible crash at the start of the race and I have never been able to erase that memory…until I hit the singletrack.  I can feel my shoulders relax as my wheels hit the dirt trail. Now I am ready! I settle into a groove and try to reach my goal times at each timing mat. Dockery 31:53, Williamsburg 1:13, Zebra 1:41 ALMOST THERE! I see the red race chute barriers & get so excited I am nearly done!! Then I watch a man 2 riders in front of me ring himself silly against a tree on the last stretch of single-track! He is laying on the trail and my heart gets a sucker-punch as people ride over him! No race is worth being a jerk so I stop and help him unwrap his bike from the tree and get his booty off the trail. I ask him if he’s okay and he doesn’t answer but gives me a thumbs up. I tell him to run the rest of the race because there isn’t far to go & he just sits there and waves me off. I cross the finish with a 2:06:04. A personal best which put me into 3rd place. (Ironically I had gotten on the podium the past 4 years as a FOUNDER’S TEAM racer but had not gotten a 3rd place…until today.)

But now the FUN begins!  The Founders Family knows how to celebrate. I am not just talking about the world’s best beer, I am talking about the world’s best team families! We all bring food…lots of food and eat like we had been racing for days! We dance, laugh, cheer other racers on and then take the party back to our condos where we all re-live the days events and hope that Scott Thenikl will pull out his Michael Jackson moves! Lucky for us…this was the year!  A great way to wrap up a 2015 season! I am the luckiest girl in the world to ride for such a cool team!


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



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!


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 ( 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 ( 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.

Place Name Sponsor Lap 1 Lap2 Time
4 Earl Hillaker Founders Racing 45:38:00 45:58:00 31:36.0
6 Marnie Tencate Founders Racing 54:58:00 57:36:00 52:33.9
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
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
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
23 Paul Popielarz Founders Racing 55:35:00 59:53:00 55:28.9
15 Rob Meendering Founders Racing 59:54.2


Hellkat Headwind

garmin for hellkatHaving missed Barry-Roubaix due to a work trip, the lower-key Hellkat Hundie would be my first event for 2015.  There is a 50 mile and a 100 mile version, but of course I had to do the 100 miler!  Mike Clark and Cathy ‘Kaat’ Tahy put together this fun, challenging event as a JDRF fundraiser.  The course was well marked.

Last year I rode it and completed the course in seven hours.  This year I hoped to better that time, but at the last minute opted for a second goal.  Teammate Marnie Tencate was riding the 100 in training for her debut at Lumberjack-100, so I decided to ride with her for  the 100 miles.   Scott Tencate was planning to hammer the 100 and teammate Matt Remelts was racing the 50-miler.
As we rolled out from Third Coast Cycles, we soon encountered a strong headwind.  When we went south we rode into a headwind and when we rode east we rode into a headwind.  Oh, and did I mention the headwind!?  Frankly it seemed every direction was into a headwind.
At one point we were climbing a long shallow grade- yes, into a headwind- and I recall saying “Okay, headwind or a climb. Can we have one or the other rather than both?!”
Marnie and I picked up a couple other riders.  Eric Sooy rode with us in the first 25 miles until he split off to complete the 50-mile event.
Shortly after the 50/100 course split, a rider from Novi (Ken) joined us.  Later, Chicago rider Paolo caught up and decided to ride with us as well.  He had an interesting bike with 50mm cross tires and said it was built specifically for races in the ultracross series. These two guys would ride with us pretty much into the finish line.
I felt pretty good and fairly strong this day and so I went to the front of our little pace line for most of the ride.  The gravel roads were hard packed most of the day though they did get a little bit tacky after Noon as the temperatures warmed up a few degrees.
Marnie and I discussed race and food strategies for Lumberjack.  At one point she couldn’t reach her Endurolytes so rather than stop, as I rode along side her I started pulling items out of her back jersey pockets until I could reach the Endurolyte bottle.   Le Domestique hahaha.
Not everyone can do the Hammer stuff on rides but I have gotten quite used to their products.  I had my standard fare all one me for the race:  one bottle of Perpetuem for fuel, two bottles of Heed for hydration, Endurolytes, and a flask of espresso Hammergel.  Other than filling one of the Heed bottles with water at the third checkpoint, these items would get me through the entire seven hour ride.  After numerous 100-milers I pretty much have my nutrition needs dialed in for the expected duration and distance of such events.
The most disconcerting aspect of the event was the darn dogs.  On a couple of occasions, the dogs were quite determined.  One chased us for over 100 yards.  Marnie had to put a foot out and kick at the last one as I and one other rider started to turn around to defend us from the charging canine.  The dog then dropped off as we rode onward.
The Hellkat route is unique in that it can seem like it goes forever at times.   Left turn, right turn, left turn, left turn.  At some points you forget if you are going east or west or north or south until a familiar street sign at an intersection reminds you of your location and orientation.  And just when you think you are heading in to finish, the course takes another dodge left and seemingly away from Hudsonville, before turning again back to the finish.
Marnie ended up second on the podium for her women’s category!  I was surprised to find I was third for Master’s Men category though I had not been actually racing this day.  We got nice Sram ball caps as awards.  (First place finishers got a special pair of tightie-whitey Hundie Undies  hahahaha).
The roll-out started at 8:00am and we crossed the finish line at about 3:10pm.  Our moving time was 6:58 per my Garmin though the actual finish time was a bit over 7 hours when stops at the aid stations are taken into account.

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?!

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).

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


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

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


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.


Late Iceman report from a new Mom

Iceman Race Report-Postpartum Division
The rain came down in slush-drops. And there I was sitting in the front seat of our car breastfeeding my six-week-old next to a truck full of middle-aged men. This was my Iceman pregame. I work at the Gaslight Grand Rapids Bicycle Company, and for weeks up until Iceman I had to listen to people get psyched up about their training for the race. I kept fairly quiet, secretly holding my spot in the race, meanwhile struggling to get past my huge belly to pick up the hex wrench I had just dropped on the floor. I had found out I was pregnant in January, so I held back from mountain bike racing for the year. Iceman was my only chance to get in at least one race for the Founders team for the year.

IMG_0683Needless to say there were a lot of stars that had to align in order to do Iceman. Here was my list of things that had to occur:

1. Baby must be born on time. Due date was September 28. Much later, and I would not have enough recovery time.
2. No C-Section. Again, not enough recovery time if this is what happened.
3. Recovery must go well. I kept running (a generous term for my brisk waddle) up to the last weeks of pregnancy in hopes this would help.
4. When baby is born, it must take a bottle.
5. My husband must be okay with it. I knew this was already okay, as Kyle has supported me through almost every race I’ve been in since we’ve been together.

I was extremely lucky, and our boy, Jules Escher, was born with no complications on September 20 at 3:26 in the morning. Recovery also went well. Two weeks later I was running. Three weeks later I was biking. Four weeks later I was doing single-track. I knew I was ready when a friend I biked with said, “You should do Iceman!” I said with confidence in my new nursing sports bra, “I am!”
The start of the race was miserable. Not only the feeding and pumping in the car, but the rain-snow mix, the Stan’s leaking out from my tires, the cog on the back of my single speed that I had last-minute put on, and the zombie-like feeling that comes from the lack of sleep newborns bring with them. Still, I headed to the start if the race with a plastered “this is X-TREME!” smile, in a wave that was much faster then what I deserved six-weeks postpartum.

-4We were off. As the start of Iceman is on pavement, it only took a few minutes for me to be at the back of the wave with the other guy on a single speed. Then the mud hit about 1 mile in. It was like oatmeal; a never-ending track filled with oatmeal. There was no break. And the slush-rain kept pouring down. It was only a few miles into the race and it started, the grinding of gravel-laden gears and the dropped derailleurs. The cassettes were no longer visible on people’s bikes. Jane, a teammate, said she was one of the many who ended up riding single speed because of the terrorizing mud. At this point, I realized my single speed wasn’t a half bad idea.
Shortly after the sounds of clanking gears the silence started too. People were already drenched, hypothermic and miserable. I saw many friends on the side of hills not even having enough energy to curse. They wouldn’t talk. Iceman generally is a positive race, with people saying “Great Job” and “Go get it!” This year it was a mix of grunts, sighs and spitting of dirt. At one point, the rain stopped for a minute and I exclaimed, “This is a nice change!” with as positive of a tone as I could. No reply, just pissed faces.

-3As I was approaching Williamsburg Road where my dad was going to be I kept thinking, “I’m a mom now. I have to do the responsible thing. Should I bail, or should I keep going?” But I kept thinking two things. A. This is your only race for the year and B. You just endured three days of labor, what’s three hours? So I went up the hill, gave my biggest smile and kept going.
My pants were now so soaked that I was getting comments from time to time that my pants were falling down. I kept going. I told myself, “Once you see that 10k remains you are golden. Just make it to 10k.” I made it to 10k. It wasn’t as good of a feeling as I hoped for, but I kept going. I had to get back to my baby. Coming into the last 3k the trail was pretty much unrideable, as it was single track they just put in for the race, so it did not fair well with the thousands of riders on it that day. I kept going. Finally the finish. The fans cheered and I saw Kyle with Jules tucked away in his carrier with his red hat peaking over the top.
I crossed the finish line. I had done it. I took a picture with my boys and realized I had just completed the Iceman with my slowest time ever. I think the rest of the team may be able to say the same (even though several took podium places). But I think we’d all say that with the shittier the race, the better the beer tastes in the end. Especially if you haven’t been able to drink for several months.

-5Danielle deJonge Shaver