Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'm either 0-for-2 or 2-or-2, depending on how you look at it

30 (almost 31) miles, and, yes, another flat. Well, sort of - it was low, but I was almost home, so a CO2 cartridge got me back. Either way, I'm swappin' a tube again tonight. Ghaaaa. I think there's still a lot of winter road grit left, and it's working through the tread on my tires. A good hard rain should take care of that.

There's some acceptable hills up in the New Era area - 550 feet of climbing, and I only rode up two of the four available good hills.

Anyone use RouteSlip? Pretty slick - here's what I did today.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Unavoidable Question Of Spandex™

Here is something that I posted on my blog today. It's a question that I've been wrestling with for some time. As fellow riders, I thought a few of you might be able to relate.

At some point, every cyclist must confront the issue of Spandex™. It’s the elephant in the room, so to speak, when anyone discusses cycling.

First, some background. I’m NOT a cyclist. I occasionally ride a bike, but a cyclist is another creature altogether. Perhaps it is the Spandex™ itself that defines the cyclist. That may warrant more investigation.

When I was young, I didn’t need an “outfit” or a “uniform” to ride a bike. My outfit generally consisted of a t-shirt, shorts, and shoes (optional). I felt like I got around quite well, not knowing at the time how ill-equipped I was.

The first time I was forced to face the “Spandex™ question” was in high school. I participated in a 850 mile ride through the Canadian Rockies. I knew that all the other riders would be wearing “biking shorts”, and I knew that they offered many advantages to my plain ole shorts. My solution was to wear biking shorts under my normal shorts. Efficient? No. Comfortable? No. Less humiliating? YES! You see, I’m skinny. Really skinny. Unbeknownst to casual observers, there does exist a minimum weight threshold for Spandex™, in the same way that there exists a maximum weight threshold for Spandex™. (The upper threshold is frequently violated but, just because it is ignored, doesn’t make it less real.) While violations of the minimum weight threshold may be harder to spot, they are no less serious, and the psychological consequences of such violations can last a lifetime.

Now, at 34, I must face my Spandex™ demons once again. In August, I’ll be taking part in the Ride To Cure Diabetes in Whitefish, Montana. Surely, it is a worthy cause. I’m excited by the opportunity to spread the word about diabetes and its effects, and I’m looking forward to raising a bunch of money to support diabetes research. (My son is Type 1, after all) An opportunity such as this, however, comes at a price. I’m afraid that for me, that price may include a public display of Spandex™. As part of a team, each member receives a “uniform”. Adding insult to injury, the uniform includes not only skin tight, have-you-been-circumcised-shorts, but also a are-your-nipples-pierced, skin tight jersey. The HUMANITY!

After receiving several requests for sizing info, I headed down to Velo City Cycles to determine what size kit to order so that I might reduce, if not avoid, public ridicule. After noting that I had a “very long torso”, the gentleman at the shop suggested I try a pair of “bibs”. My freakishly long torso, he explained, gave the impression that I was sporting some sort of belly shirt, even when wearing an extra large cycling jersey. To go up a size in the jersey would leave it hanging on my frame flapping like a windsock. That is not an ideal fit. “Jersey’s gotta be tight”, he said. “Bibs”, explained the sado-masochistic biker man, “will keep your belly from showing if your jersey rides up.” “What are bibs?”, I asked. He pointed to a pair on the rack.

When I regained consciousness, I politely told him that I didn’t think those would work for me; that several forms of medieval torture looked far more appealing to me than the prospect of wearing “bibs” in public.

Despite the problems presented by the team uniform, I remain optimistic about the ride. I plan to train hard this summer, and, when riding alone, I may even wear Spandex™. (Under cover of darkness, of course)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pickin' up right where I left off!

I've had, like, ten flat tires in my bikin' life. Seven of them were in 2006. So, on my first ride on Ruby the WonderBike (a whopping 24 miles), it should come as no surprise that I also had my first flat of the season. I got way good at swapping tubes last year, so it was no problem, but the new tube started losing air, too - my quick inspection by the side of the road didn't find anything sharp in the tire, but once at home, I found a teensy little sharp-edged stone buried in the tread. Under pressure and flexing around while riding, it poked a wee hole in two tubes, in exactly the same place. I'll pretend that it's a Death Valley stone.

Naturally, my flat first showed up right by the rodeo cowboy part of the Double J Ranch. Naturally, I'm dressed like a freaky bumblebee - black leg warmers, black shorts, black arm warmers, yellow (2006 JDRF) jersey; heck, even my bike's black, and my shoes are black and yellow. And the truck people? They're all about offering help - tools, air, you name it. I love truck people. Cars and minivans lock their doors and avert their eyes in my presence. Trucks? "'Sup, man? You doin' OK? Need anything?" Cool.

And my laminate stuck down eventually. Hooray for clamps. Lots and lots of clamps.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Deer? In Chicago? Welcome to the North Branch Trail

Sunday brought our first 80 degree day of 2007 to the Windy City, a perfect opportunity to get out for a nice ride. Knowing that the Lakeshore path would be packed with baby jogging strollers, double-wide bicycles-built-for-eight (seriously, I can't make this stuff up), rollerbladers holding hands, and the inevitable jackhole riding on the left side of the path, I opted for the much more serene and much less crowded North Branch Trail.

I love riding this trail, because it actually reminds me of being in West Michigan. Yesterday, I saw seven deer. Up close. Who knew?

Bonus about this cool trail: its turnaround point is the Chicago Botanic Gardens. You get free admission to this state-of-the-art oasis if you show up on a bike, too. Sweet.

All in all, 30 good miles on the most beautiful day of the year so far. Here’s to more of those, and fewer bicycles-built-for-eight.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clearly, it's a sign.

So, I'm out for a ride on Frank the Tank (my Trek hybrid, that I force myself to ride in the spring when I'm too fat for a proper bike), when, oh, my the issues. The Fisk link was jumping around, so clearly it had fallen out of that all-too-critical alignment with the hyper-resonance-dampers. In addition, the vangshaft was starting to squeak, and if there's anything Ted taught me is that when the vangshaft starts to sound like an aroused Gentoo penguin, it's best to slowly back away from the bike in a non-threatening but not submissive manner.

So clearly I'll have to start riding Ruby. Shucks.

Anyway, it's shaping up to be a really awesome year for this team - the new Herman Miller people are charging in to the fundraising like a horde of merciless, uh, fundraisers. With, like, horns on their helmets. I'm seriously impressed. Three of the folks I'm mentoring are already well over halfway to their fundraising goals, and we've got team events galore scheduled for the summer. Total coolness, man.

Now, does anyone know why my $90 sheet of Formica Monterey Storm laminate won't stick down to the very nice particle board substrate I so lovingly prepared?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

life with diabetes

I thought this was an interesting story... might help some of you with no diabetes connection relate or have "ah-hah" moment. This story takes place on any given Thursday morning, when husband is out of country for work.

I have to be to work at 8a, so there is the "time crunch" in effect. Get girls up, get them moving. Come on girls, get dressed. Pick out your clothes, let's get moving. Come on girls, help me out here. And Ellie, age 6 (who has diabetes), is just being a little meanie. She's picking on Anna (age 5). She's not listening. So, I leave the room to take the garbage out to the street by saying... "you girls better be dressed by the time I get back" (you know, real threatening)

I come back, and Anna, who is almost dressed, is across the room complaining that Ellie was messing with her. Ellie is laying on the floor doing nothing. Nothing at all. Still in PJs, staring at me. So, I start in... yelling about how she said she'd help me in the morning, she'd be a big girl, this is not a big girl. Blah, blah, blah. She still just sits there.

I grab the meter, and say the infamous words of a parent with a child with diabetes: "you better hope you are low"

She was 50. (normal is 80 - 120) UGH. So, three scoops of frosting later to raise her blood glucose level... she finally can help me get her dressed and out the door we go.

Just thought I would share a "in the life of a parent of a child with diabetes" moment. Diabetes stinks. So, if you are riding with the team, or supporting a rider or donating: Thanks for doing what you do (so in the future I can just yell at my kids and not have to worry about behavior because of low blood sugar ;-). I appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Party with the Ride Team

Tonight at New Holland Brewery in downtown Holland the West Michigan Ride Team will have our annual kick-off party. Currently almost 50 riders are scheduled to appear. The party starts at 7:00 p.m. and is conveniently located across the street from VeloCity Bikes. There will be food, beer, and info about this year's rides. Stop in for a good time and to meet the people who are helping to rid the world of diabetes.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Team Ride Report, 4/15/07

Well, the 2007 West Michigan JDRF Ride to Cure Team's season is well-and-truly underway! After a week of gloom-&-doom weather forecasts the sun came out, the temps clawwed their way into the 50 degree range and the ride was on! 9 intrepid cyclers met near the west end of the White Pine Trail and rolled up to the end o' the pavement and back, w/ a quick stop in Rockford on the return leg for ice cream, some of which was tested out by yours truly as a function of my coaching duties. (I didn't's my job!)
Attending the ride today : Sarah Andro, Ted Bentley, Mary Schiedel, John Jasker, Jeff Wert, Kevin Owens (today's sole new teammate!!!), Derrick Dykstra and your reporter, accompanied on the big orange machine by my wife and past-and-future Ride Support Person Linda. We enjoyed the tail wind on the return trip and the sunshine for most of the ride. We missed you!

No crashes, flat tires, faux pas or bad jokes to report...for better or worse.

Next stop on the JDRF World Tour is the Kick-Off Party this Wed @ The New Holland Brewery here in holland. You'll be getting a reminder call early next week 'cuz you're not gonna wanna miss it! New Holland is a Team Sponsor and they're settin' us up w/ food and we'll have door prizes too! I'll also have Training Ride Schedules and details and a Training Manual for you to pick up. (Fear not.....they'll be in the mail next week if you can't make it!) You'll also have a chance to meet your Team Mentor as they have been chosen for the season. If you are gettin' the impression that we really hope to see you are correct!

Next Team Ride is scheduled for 5/13, let's keep thinkin' Spring!

Coach Mike

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Team Ride Numero Uno?

sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!

Weather forecast is looking much less offensive - mid to upper 40s, but no rain. Who's gonna be there? 2 p.m. Parrish Sign parking lot... map here.

I'm planning to at least try to be there!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Guess who?

Yeah baby!


First training ride

And so it begins. The formal training season. Getting out on the bike sounds wonderful right now. Too bad there is snow and ice all over the road.

Looks like we might want to think about riding indoors this Sunday for our first team training ride. Anyone up for a trainer session at the bike shop in Holland? Let's let Coach know if we want to do this.

I think my current state of mind needs to get outside, in the sun and on the road. It would be nice to get out there and just ride. I want to be Nicole below.....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Somebody's asleep at the switch, man

Did we forget to fill out a form or something? Somehow I don't think that we should be under a winter storm ANYTHING, let alone a WARNING, in the middle of APRIL!


Saturday, April 7, 2007

Naughty Kitties

Peggy, Sue and Mary at the Badwater station during the 2006 Death Valley Ride.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Screech, meow, etc.

Kittiez should wear helmetz.


Hey Guys!

Coach MC here, bound and determined to quash all the rumors that those plaid shorts that someone (Nicole?) Photo-Shopped onto me in that picture actually exist! (She made me look fat too!)

Anyway..........I just wanted to say that I am honored and humbled to be allowed to share this experience w/ each and everyone on the team. We're gonna have a blast this season (if it ever warms up!) and I can't wait to meet and ride with everyone! Welcome back to all of our alumni and welcome to all the new team mates that we haven't met as yet! I hope to meet a bunch of you @ the big Team Kick-Off Party here in Holland on 4/18 and don't forget that our 1st Team Training Ride is Sunday 4/15 in GR! (I'll have details as to where and when soon, but it'd be safe to assume a 2:00PM start time). I'll send out an e-mail on Monday w/ the scoop and post it here on the Blog too.

Again, welcome to the team! This is an awesomely cool thing that you've decided to become a part of and we're glad that you're along for the ride!


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Hi, meet me.

'Bout time I checked in here and said that!

I'm representing the no-prior-connection-to-diabetes contingent here, as well as the Herman Miller subteam. The Herman Millerites are headed to Whitefish, Montana in August; this'll be my third year riding for the JDRF and my third location. I'm a bit disappointed that I won't be in Death Valley with the rest of the JDRF crew, but last year this time I was disappointed that I wasn't going to be going back to Asheville again. Death Valley was utterly not disappointing, and I don't expect Whitefish will be either!

Incidentally, if you catch the "Deserts" episode of the Discovery Channel show Planet Earth, one of the Death Valley vistas they show is the view from Zabriskie Point. The "tune-up" ride the day before the big ride there climbs up to Zabriskie Point, so the view was pretty instantly recognizeable.

Kinda hard to think about biking right now, though. See, Katie down there was totally not specific enough when she said "rain, rain, go away" 'cause DANG THE HECK but it's snowing to beat all, and there's no end reasonably in sight (I'm considerably less reasonable about this now that it's April, rather than January). Ah, Michigan, how indecisive your seasons!

So, thank The Great Googly Moogly for my portable DVD player, and for DVDs with commentary tracks. Turning the lights out in my workshop, firing up a flick, and ignoring the universe for a couple of hours is a sad substitute for a real bike ride, though. Sweat drips into my eyes instead of evaporating in the breeze of my own movement, and then there's that constant roar of the magnetic resistance dooleyhoober. Feh. My last garage ride ended after only 45 minutes or so, as I just couldn't stand it any longer. I should have tried a bit harder, as, determined to be productive, I headed over to my table saw and experienced a small chunk of maple kicking back into my left pinky finger at about Mach 3. Ouchie.

Soon, the roads!


Two More Contributors...pre-mojito shower

Thanks for the shout-out Tom. I would like to reciprocate your kindness with this lovely photo of you and your wife, just a few minutes before you were showered with a tasty concoction of rum, mint, lime, sugar, and soda. Nothing says "teammate" like still being cool with me after an incident like that. Can't wait to see you guys again.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Our contributors

Here's a photo of some of the riders who contribute to this blog. This shot was taken last year in Death Valley on the night before the training ride. Sitting at the table are Nicole, Katie and Steve. The guy in the red shorts behind the table is Derek.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Ok, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature we have training on our bicycles to do. Rain for days on end and snow in the forecast! What's up with that!?

I'm sure some of our riders are out there (DANIELLE!! You have been, haven't you!?) but this is not bicycle weather for me. I also have heard it's the year of the "dog" - watch out for the mutts out there. And wear your helmet, right Dave!?

I am getting excited about our team party on the 18th. Steve will be in Mexico (yeah, let's all feel for him, can we!?) so I'll be a singleton that night. I even got a sitter! Whoohooo. I'm hoping to stop at Velo-City Cycles to grab a t-shirt beforehand as well! Kind of nice we are right next door for the party.

So, I've got the JDRF West Michigan Ride website all up to date. If anyone wants to see what this Ride thing is all about, check it out. There is a page of our riders (with donation links!), and a calendar of our training rides and fund raising events and lots more info!