Sunday, October 30, 2011

Epic Ride (Part 2)

And the story continues...

As the last bits of sunlight licked the tree tops, I found myself rolling into the driveway of a white farmhouse, hoping the owners of the house would let me charge my cell phone for a minute so that I could make contact with Chris and the team.

The blinds parted next to the front door and a girl about the same age as myself peeked at me.  She then emerged from the garage and said hello.  I briefly described my predicament and she agreed to letting me plug in my phone for a few minutes.  Since the garage door was open, I suggested that I just plug into an outlet in there, not wanting to make her uncomfortable by coming into the house and she said that would be fine. 

The battery in my phone was so dead that even after plugging it in, I still had to wait a few minutes for there to be enough power to make an outgoing call.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a hold of Chris and had to leave a message.  I gave him the crossroads of my current location and asked him if someone could meet me at the county road which I estimated to be about ten miles from where I currently stood.  That way we would end up meeting in the middle of what was left of my route.  I sent a text message as follow-up in case my voicemail was lost in space and then repacked my bag.

While saying good bye, my new friend gave me a few words of caution about the houses that were on the back roads and suggested I take the road her house stood on up to the main road.  I had thought about that as well, but the guys had a print out of my directions and I didn't want to go off course.  I assured her it would be fine, that I had lights.  She said she thought I was braver then she would be in my current circumstances.

At home, if I were riding the roads by myself, I easily would have allowed myself to get creeped out and would have been turning for home.  Out here, there really wasn't another option.  At best the guys were still at least forty-five minutes away by car and it was too chilly to sit and wait by the side of the road.

I told her with a laugh that she wouldn't be reading about me in the paper and then started turning the cranks towards the now designated meeting place.  The night was now upon me and my headlight shed bright light onto the road in front of me.

As I moved along, I thought to myself that before I knew it I would be at Ben's house laughing with everyone about being stuck out here, just that small rationalization made me feel comforted.  My mileage was now hovering around one hundred and thirty five miles, but my legs felt okay and I was still thinking clearly.  I also remembered that Eric's girlfriend Rachel was with the guys and that she wouldn't let them forget to come find me!

After an hour had passed, I still hadn't found the county road.  I'd followed all of the directions perfectly up until now, but the intersection had evaded me.  I came up on what seemed like a main road and stopped pedaling.  Leaning my bike against the stop sign, I sat down and started rummaging through my bag.  I reminded myself that this was the time not to freak out.  I just needed to eat something and assess the situation.  Overhead the sky was clear and filled with stars, the fields along the road where glistening as frost was starting to form.

After consuming a Luna bar and my last cliff shot block I decided to move forward and try one more intersection before I turned around.  The two houses I passed didn't have any lights on and the next road did not match the name of the one I was looking for...not even close.  I was preparing to turn around when a large, well lit auto shop truck rumbled up the road.  The truck turned down the road in front of me and I decided this would be the person to ask for help. 

I followed his truck to his house like a stray puppy and explained from the driveway my predicament.  I felt composed, but I'm sure I looked a little worse for wear, it had been over fourteen hours on the bike at this point.  He agreed to let me plug in my phone and I quickly disassembled my gear and plugged the charger into an outlet on the porch.

After three rings Eric answered Chris's phone, I've never been happier to hear his voice in my life...

We quickly discussed where I was located and decided to meet at the intersection I had recently departed.  According to Eric, Ben said I had missed the turn for the county road because the name is different on the sign then on my map. 

My second new friend of the evening offered to drive me back up to the corner and after I protested, not wanting to cause him further inconvenience, we loaded my bike onto the flat bed of his truck.  Within ten minutes I was reunited with Chris and Eric.  They quickly loaded my bike onto the roof rack and we filled in the missing details of my route.

In the end, I received a great ride (147 miles) and a little miss adventure.  As with all stories, there are many different paths they can take.  For this story, there was no unhappy ending, but instead the kindness of strangers and friends shone brightly above and beyond anything else.

I am thankful that my friends put up with me and the idea of my epic ride.  Thank you Chris, Eric, Ben and Rachel for getting me home safely.  Thanks to Ben and his dad for allowing me to crash at their house and the late night sodas!  Special thanks to Chris for making arrangements on my behalf for clothes and for dropping me off back at home, most of this adventure wouldn't have been possible without your assistance!

Tired Smile On The Road!

Epic Ride (Part I)

About a week ago I had this great idea for a ride. 

My fabulous friends from D2 Labs Racing (Chris, Eric and Ben) were hosting Michigan's first time based Ultra running race called the "Bad Apple Ultra" (I highly recommend you put this on your race calendar for 2012!).  It became apparent to me as the week pressed on that the only logical thing for me to do on the upcoming weekend was to ride out to the race from my home in Shelby Twp.  Overall the route would entail a total of one hundred and fifty miles of gravel and pavement.

After consulting with Chris about a ride home on his way back from Greenville Sunday, I went in search of a route.  Googlemaps provided me with directions that seemed sufficient and Josh cleared my bike as being fit for the adventure.  I prayed all week for good weather and decided that it was too late to turn back after setting the ball in motion.

Saturday morning I bundled up in my brand new cycling kit compliments of the Active Networks Team VW.  I rolled out of the driveway at seven in the morning and proceeded to travel through Rochester Hills, Lake Orion, Oxford, Ortonville, Grand Blanc and into Owosso.  Every other hour I sent out text messages to let Chris know my progress.

Team VW Cycling Kit!
It was taking a bit longer then I originally anticipated to put the miles behind me and at 2 o'clock it was clear I wouldn't be getting to my final destination before dark.  I had packed a headlight and an extra battery, so I would have a way to see, but my goal had been to arrive by seven o'clock and I was a little disappointed that I wouldn't be able to do so.

In Owosso, I stopped in at a coffee house to grab a quick caffeine boost.  The barrista was extremely accommodating and one of the customers having lunch was actually from Chesterfield Twp...!  We chatted for a few minutes about my trip and they wished me good luck on my adventure!

Great Coffee and Staff!
Between Owosso and St. Johns I saw some storm clouds on the horizon.  It seemed like I would miss them at the pace I was going, but just as I reached the lip of sunny skies the rain came barreling down.  Had it been seventy degrees, a little rain would have been welcomed, but the thermometer was bouncing between thirty and fourty degrees...

I sprinted for the 127 overpass and took cover below it until the worst of the storm had passed.  At this point I was over a hundred miles in and there was still at least fifty miles ahead of me.  It was also at this time that I noticed my cell phone had been draining it's battery.  Soon I would be without the ability to contact Chris, Ben or Eric to let them know my whereabouts. 

I sent Chris another message letting him know my predicament and that I would check in again around 6 o'clock.  Removing the battery from my phone to ensure no additional juice would be sucked from it, I continued on through Fowler and started heading north towards Fenwick road.

The sun set as I navigated the turns that led north and west through sparsely inhabited country side.  The fact that it was Halloween Weekend had not escaped me and eventually I couldn't wait any longer and rolled into the driveway of a white farm house that had a light on, hoping that they would be willing to let me plug in my phone.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Kaitlyn!!!

It is the number 3!  This weekend is my nieces birthday party and birthday!!!

Wishing you a most Happy Birthday Miss Kaitlyn! 

And Out Of No Where, I Give Thanks

I have a great life, family and friends (and a bike I love).

As I've gone through the process of growing up, I've learned that there are certain times when you have to "be a grown-up" and make choices to not buy or do something that you really want to do.  It sucks to make these decisions, but it comes with wearing grown-up pants.

Over the past few weeks, I've made a few of these choices and was decidedly comfortable with what they would mean for me at this time.  Then, out of nowhere through the generosity of some of the people I referenced in my intro sentence, some of those decisions I made, have been turned around...

I want to give thanks for this and for having those great people in my really means alot.  As we all know, things can't always be peachy, but when you receive some help from others it feels like maybe it can be that way!

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Today was a whole new level of resistance training!  I was pushing hard to get 9 mph in the face of some strong fall gusts of wind.  Leaves were sticking to my arms and slapping me in the face, but it was still in the 60's which made it worth the trip outside, even if it was spent mostly riding sideways!

Over the course of the past week I went from communting by bicycle to work, to riding the trainer in my bedroom.  Yep...I had to set up the trainer (gag)!

I've picked a handful of running races to focus on over the next two months and have devised a few creative ways to commute places so that I can keep my motivation to ride outside as it gets steadly cooler.  Pretty much everyone I know is gearing up for the Iceman race in November, but I've decided to sit it out this year.  I'm sure on the weekend of November 5th I will be dissapointed with myself for not going, but I'm sure I'll get over it...

Tomorrow I will be joining my family for some horse back riding...hopefully my legs have kept some kind of memory on how to do that from when I was younger!  We'll see...!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

12 Hours of Addison Oaks

Jelly, water, ipod.  My reminder list for the race today.  Everything else was accounted for, including a fabulous 700 lumen light on loan from the great Cullen Watkins (Thank you Cullen).  I woke, I drank a pot of coffee, I got nervous.

As previously noted I haven't had a ton of mileage in the past few weeks, but I REALLY wanted to get this race in.  According to the series points, there have been quite a few ladies battling it out this summer and I was expecting a good turnout.  On the drive there, I couldn't decide how I felt about that...

My fabulous pit manager, Josh and I arrived, set up our tent and found our friend Chris (Patterson) from D2 Labs Racing.  Chris and I warmed up, Josh fiddled with our bikes.  At 9:50 we lined up at the start.  During the racers meeting they announced three ladies in my category, but I couldn't find them on the line.  And then, we were racing...

Josh Getting Big Mama Miss Berlin Ready!

Warming Up...And I Only Thought About Doing Pull-Ups On The Jungle Gym Once...I Swear...

Sunshine.  Chipmunks.  Bunnies.  Deer.  This race was practically a Disney movie, but I was far from feeling like a princess as I heaved in air during the first lap.  It was a little faster then I should have been moving, but I wanted to get distance between myself and the other ladies.

On lap three, my friend Joe (Fulscher) stopped by to lend me a little moral support.  This in itself helped get myself back together after lap one.  Then my parents showed up to cheer me on and I was flying!

When the six hour race came to a close.  Chris finished his last lap with me.  It almost didn't feel like we were in a race at that point, the conversation helped break up the constant need to worry about how far behind me second was (I really felt like at any moment she was going to pop up on the trail and overtake me).

Night came, lights went on and strangely I still felt good.  Really good.  I was still practicing the new technique Joe (Fulscher) taught me, called "attack" on the hills (why have I never thought of doing this!).  My night vision was the best it's ever been and the temperature was perfect! 

My original goal was to get fifteen laps in.  I ended up with sixteen and wrapped things up a half hour early since I was a lap up on second.  Bringing my total mileage to 116.  Happy.  So happy!

Without my great pit manager, my friends and my family, my mood could easily have gone south during the day.  I appreciate greatly the time they took to help me out and for all of their well wishes!

O-M-G, It's April From The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Friend Ben

"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." - Robert Frost

My first endurance mountain bike event was the Stony Creek 6 Hour (2010).   I was excited to try my hand at something that was different and a bit outside of the box from the races of my past.  It was during this event that I met my friend Ben Vanhoose.  I was alone on the two track, just shy of the stretch that would take me back to my pit when someone jumped on my wheel and started chatting with me.

I'm a consistent rider, but not a fast one.  Typically in this situation the other rider would call out to pass and then carry on.  But that's not Ben.  Ben hung with me for a bit and talked to me about the race and how my day was going.  There was talk about a donut race near his home (mmmm....donuts).  I warned him about the big, BIG hill that would be upon us shortly and we wished each other a good day on the trails.

Ben later went on to become the 2010 Michigan Endurance Cup Series winner for his age group.  That being said, mountain biking is actually just a hobby for him, his real cup of competition tea is endurance running.  This past summer Ben completed several 50 mile ultras (with two second place finishes, a third place and a first) in addition to completing his first 100 miler.  This makes him the first person I know personally to run 100 miles.

Ben is pretty down to earth and naturally competitive with himself, always pushing to achieve his goals.  When we were at Lumberjack this year, I almost drove him out of his skin with my laid back pit-stops.  After sorting out my food and fluids he made me get back on the trail, 5x faster then I normally would.

Within his family, Ben is not the only one to tie on some running shoes.  His sister (who is also his personal trainer), mother and father have all been participants in different races.  With everyone on the same page, you can imagine how supportive they are of Ben's efforts.
Ben and His Mom

Over the past week I've been asking people what the main thing they would want to know about a runner that competes in these types of races.  The common response, "How does he keep going?"  Answer.  "It's just a matter of keeping my head in check.  The races I do are long enough that whatever funk I am in could be gone in the blink of an eye and things will be good again.  So I have to keep moving until then."

After meeting Ben at Stony, I raced with him again at the Cannonsburg 8 hour.  His cat like reflexes saved me when I endoed over my handlebars.  Somehow he was able to grab my rear wheel as it arcd around, destined to slam into my head.  To this day, I still don't know how he managed to do that!

Where will you see Ben in the future?  The list is always changing, but you could catch a quick glance of him down the road at the Western States 100, Leadville 100 or the Transrockies.  There may even be a showing at the tour divide (I may join him at the divide, since I hear he's a pretty good hunter (bears!), plus that race involves a bicycle).

To follow Ben's progress you can keep up with blog posts at
I personally would recommend it, this guys going places!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Good To Be...

With fall setting in I'm getting panicky about the long months of winter that lay ahead.  Since Lumberjack I've been shying away from my bicycle, poor Big Mama Miss Berlin, locked up in the house...

There was a need for a hiatus...some time to try something new and different...I wanted to WANT to ride my bike again instead of feeling like a had to...


It worked.  After not riding at all for the past few months, I successfully logged 20 hours in the saddle this past week and loved every minute of it (with exception to the two minutes an extremely rude lady gobbled up to spaz out on her horn (and honestly, I DID not do anything to require that kind of reaction)).

I now have a plan in my mind of what I want to do next year and am excited to continue laying the ground work to bring it to completion.  In the meantime, I'm going to avoid self righteous crazy people in cadillacs and work on building character as the fall and winter set in.

As a side note...big CONGRATS to Danielle Musto who is now the Womens U.S. Single Speed 24 Hour National Champ!  Completely awesome...!'s a little picture montage of my weekends adventures...