Thursday, December 14, 2017

Not enough miles !

EDIT- updated January 2, 2018

Not counting what I may ride or run the next 2 weeks- my 2017 data
Mileage on the bike 2017
Races (9) 273 miles
Rides 2941 miles
total 3214 miles
Climbing 76188 feet
Running miles
Races(6) 15.4 miles
Training runs 162.7 miles
Total 178
Not nearly enough of either!

Stolen Sign

So this!
Joni and I got one of those blue "Hate has no home here" signs from Mary Valentine in August and staked in the front yard of our house on Burton to which we'd moved July 24th. A couple weeks later I came home from work and the sign was on the front porch. Odd, but I thought Joni must have moved it for some reason but when she got home she said she had not. Shortly after the next door neighbor, Paul, knocked on the door and told me he'd tossed on the porch claiming that if we left it in the yard the kids walking by would trash it into the street.

So, he had the balls to come into our yard and toss it on the porch. If it was a concern he thought we should have wouldn't he have knocked first and advised us rather than taken it upon himself to toss it on the porch?

Anyway I told him I'd move it closer to the house to which he replied "it won't matter." But I did just that.

Came home a couple days later and the sign was gone. I then saw it laying in the turn lane on Burton, though the wire stake was now completely missing. Dammit.

So I put it in our front window on the porch where it's been now for a couple of months. This morning when putting a tree on the porch I noticed the sign was gone. Again I asked Joni if she'd moved it perhaps in preparation for the tree? NOPE! Someone had the temerity to come up on our porch, walk the 12-14 feet across the porch and steal the sign!

Joni all along thought Paul the neighbor did it. I now think so too. A couple of weeks ago we found out he and his family were moving and there are now PODS in his driveway. Thursday there was a boatload of old furniture and trash on his terrace for disposal. I now strongly suspect my sign has been put into that trash which was all removed sometime Friday.

Interestingly enough, when we first moved in, I had two brothers-in-law over working on the house with me- Suburbans and power equipment in the driveway, I pulled onto the front lawn to unload the screen doors I had purchased to install and left my car there a couple hours as we worked on the house. Next thing I know a GRPD officer was walking down the driveway as we were using power tools on the shed door and asked whose car- which I replied was mine. "Can't it be on the front lawn?" Nope, city ordinance. So I moved it and all was good. Apparently a neighbor had called and complained which was the reason for the officer's visit. A couple days later I mentioned this to Paul across the backyard fence as I was letting the puppy out and he asked if I got a ticket? No, I replied, but I couldn't believe one of our neighbors would have called on it since it wasn't a habit. We just did it that one time while working on the house and hauling stuff. He proceeded to tell me about which neighbors might have and which not and that he, as a landlord, had gotten the $125 ticket himself when working on one of his properties. Hmmm.

Good riddance to him. I have already lost count of the number of times I've had to pick up cans, bottles, other trash not to mention balls which his kids have tossed over the fence into our yard. He apparently sold his house to a woman veteran. We are looking forward to that veteran moving in.

Monday, November 27, 2017

2017 Re-cap, assessment and goal setting for 2018 Running & Biking

2017 Re-cap, assessment and goal setting for 2018 Running & Biking

Now that all the biking and running races are done for the year, I have to assess the past season and ascertain what my goals are for 2018.

It was, frankly, a mediocre year both on the bike and in the running shoes.  Mostly I focus on my TIME goals, rather than my position in the standings.  In hindsight, 215 was a peak year.  The 2016 political campaign and buying a house this past summer in 2017 took away quite a bit of training time and focus.  Hopefully we can have all that settle down in 2018.

In regards to standings in the running events, I did quite well with the end-of-season 5Ks, getting first or second place as well as a personal high placement at the GRPS Thanksgiving race of 4th place -a race in which I'd never broken higher than 6th before. But in terms of TIME my best was just under 23 minutes for a 22:56 time.  This is two minutes slower than previous times in the 21-1/2 minute range of a couple seasons ago. The big one- 25K Riverbank Run- was also middling this year with a 2:18 time, not really close to my 2015 finish of 2:08 and breaking two hours there is still my target.

Biking this year was also not overly successful.  An intestinal issue and a crash in at Southern Cross kept me from a 4-1/2 hour goal. Breaking the four hour mark at Barry-Roubaix remains a gaol with my best time two years ago at 4:05.  Breaking nine hours at Lumberjack also not met due to broken fork this year at mile 41. My previous best was 9:04. I did better at Yankee, beating previous best times but Iceman two hour goal also remains elusive- and perhaps impossible.

Barry Roubaix has a new 100 mile event which is appealing, but I think I will pass on it for 2018 in order to focus on my finish goal for the 62-miler.

Southern Cross 65 mile gravel road race- Dalhonega GA:  Finish time   5:02
Barry-Roubaix 62-mile:  DNF
Yankee Springs Time Trial mountain Bike race  Time 1:54 (3 minutes faster than 2016)       
Lumberjack 100 - DNF- broken fork
MSU Fondo  80 MILE OVERALL 109 of 475 / Gender Place  101 of 402 / Time 03:47:22 / Pace  21.11 mph
Pando mountain bike race    8th of 9 races 50+ age group
Iceman 2017 Pro Cat  Time 2:20, 79th of 79 Pro/Cat1 Men, 1510 of 3275 men overall, 1588 of 3609 all racers

Fifth Third River Bank Run 25K: Finish time 2:18,
LMCU Bridge Run 5K Time 23:56 - 2nd of men 55-59
Run Thru the Rapids 5K  Time 22:56 - 1st of men 55-59
Alger Hts 5K  Time 23:13 - 2nd of 13 Men 50-59
WMU Turkey Trot 5K  Time 23:15 - 1st of 20 men 50-59
GRPS Thanksgiving 5K  Time 23:20 - 4th of 99 Men 50-59

Looking ahead to 2018
Southern Cross  Target 4-1/2 hours
Barry Roubaix   Target 4-00  hours
Yankee Springs  Target less than 1:54 (continuous improvement).
Lumberjack-100 Target less than 9 hours
Iceman    Target two hours
Riverbank Run Target under two hours
5Ks Get back to under 22 minutes.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Iceman ends the bike race season with a dud

Bicycle racing season came to an end last weekend with the annual Iceman Cometh race from Kalkaska to Traverse City.  My finish time was a bit disappointing in my second and likely last effort in the pro class race.

The morning started early because Joni was racing her first Iceman event, the 8 mile Slush Cup which we had pre-rode the previous Sunday.  For some reason we thought she raced at 8am and got to Timber Ridge really early only to realize we had over an hour to wait.  But eventually she got in the start chute and rode the course. When we rode last Sunday we did it in one hour so I got a bit anxious when she was not coming through at that time.  She eventually showed up at Icebreaker Hill.  I found out she and another woman stopped to help a youth rider whose chain had jumped off the back cassette and jammed between the small cog and the frame.  They both lost a good amount of time during that assist, but she finished strong on the bike after walking the hill!

I stopped at Bob Evans for some scrambled eggs and potatos to go and ate in the hotel before taking a half hour nap, then getting dressed to go to Kalkaska.  Again, we got there well over an hour before so we relaxed in the car and waited.  About a half hour before the race's 2:30 start time I got out and started riding around then made my way to the chute.

As expected, when the gun went off the field shot away and I was 50 yards off the back.  I could see the last rider in that pack on occasion as the trail straightened out, but soon lost all sight of them.

The trail conditions actually were not that bad.  Some of the single track in the early half of the race were a bit greasy with that black dirt surface. The two-track was mostly wet and packed down.  Singletrack in the second half was more of a sandy surface and drained well and packed despite the sleet that came down about 3:00pm during the race.

I did dress with four layers.  Base layer, jersey, windbreaker and thermal jacket as well as armwarmers and leg warmers.  I'd just gotten new low temperature cycling boots that week but on a test ride the previous Tuesday at 37 degrees my feet still got cold. So I bought some boot-toe covers as a windscreen. This worked well.  My toes got a bit cold but not uncomfortably so.  I had my heavier gloves on during the warmup but opted for the lighter cyclocross gloves for the race. This also worked well since all the wind was a tailwind out of the east!

At approximately five miles in, the leading women's field passed me led by Katerina Nash. A bit later another group of three passed me.  And eventually, another woman.

Early in the race, I reached to my back pocket to get some Endurolytes and as I opened the canister *BUMP* I hit a bump and ALL the tablets flew to the ground.  This would cost me this day because the last four miles with some of the more difficult hills caused my thighs to cramp in both legs.  I ended up walking two of the hills during the course.  Icebreaker Hill was rideable but I wasn't given the opportunity to grind up it as so many of my teammates were there and decided to give me a push.

Into the final chutes, winding toward the finish.  I ended up with a mildly disappointing 2:26:02. time and 79th (and last) in the pro category.

I had had high hopes early on even as I was dropped by the main group.  Looking at my computer I had been holding a 15-16 mph average. This soon dropped drastically across the course as evidenced by the timing mat checks on the course:

Dockery 16.65 mi/hr
Williamsburg 12.56 mi/hr
Zebra 11.68 mi/hr
5min 12.11 mi/hr
Finish 12.12 mi/hr

My theory has now been debunked.  Racing in the wave groups, I usually get passed by faster riders on the open track and then the whole line gets stalled in the singletrack sections of the course.  My theory was that in the pro class, at which I will of course never be competitive, the main group would be gone and I would have an open course to blast through the technical sections as fast as I could with no interference.  But after two tries in the Pro cat to validate this, it seems to not be applicable.

2017  Time 2:20  (Strava Link)
2016  Did not race
2015  Time 2:17
2014  Time 2:54 (mud year)
2013  Time 2:17
2012  Time 2:28
2011  Time 2:26
2010  Time 2:31

In general I have gotten faster. My best times were 2013 and 2015 and I consider 2015 my peak riding year.  The last two years of 2016-2017 were totally taken up with life events (election campaign in 2016 and buying a house in 2017) which definitely cut into training time.  I still think with proper training I can break that elusive two hour goal.

All in all it has been a mediocre race season for me. 

Next up are two 5K's and then I begin planning for 2018.  We will have to see how training goes in 2018.

WMU Turkey Trot 5K   -November 18th
GRPS Thanksgiving 5K -November 23rd

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October 2017 update

Work on the house continues.  After finding we have asbestos on heat ducts in the basement when we had a quote by Stanley Steemer to vacuum out the ducts, I bought some containment spray and covered that duct.  Joni then had Stanley Steemer in and they pointed out more spots and thus could not do their activity.  So this weekend we will take the grates off upstairs and vacuum as best we can from the top before kicking on the furnace.  The house has been getting chilly at night now with temperatures dropping into the mid-30s at night.

The Iceman bike race is now ten days away- not much more can go into training at this point.  My riding and training has been hit or miss over the summer especially from June and July with the house purchase and move.  I registered for pro class with a goal to try to break two hours which I cannot do in the crowds of riders I end up with in the technical section of the wave starts- lots of fast roadie types who are not that good in the trees :)   I would consider dropping to a wave as I did a couple years ago and got wave 3 except that I talked Joni into racing the Slush Cup which is at 8am.  If I did a wave, I'd have to be in Kalkaska by 8am and could not support her ride or see her finish.   The good thing this year, unlike my one previous pro class attempt in 2014 (the mud year) is that the start is closer to the singletrack. In 2014,  the start was still in downtown Kalkaska and when the race started the entire pack of pro class riders blew me off the line and I was riding several blocks all by my lonesome past people on the streets.  Kinda felt pathetic, though I caught several riders over the course of the race and finished 103rd of 128 racers that year.

Joni and I have begun ramping up our running again also.  Just getting into 5Ks at this point for the fall before serious training for the Riverbank Run begins.  My goal is to break two hours at Riverbank Run in May 2018. Joni may not participate this coming year and instead get back to work on her scuba dive training.

In any event, we have done a couple 5Ks and I was very pleased with my results.  I have been about a minute or more slower than my faster 5Ks in the past but still placed at the event for my age group:

LMCU Bridge Run 5K  
Time 23:56 / Pace 7:38 / 2nd of men 55-59 / 41st of all 435 men / 49th of 1083 overall

Run Thru the Rapids 5K  
Time 22:56 / Pace 7:24 / 1st place men 55-59 / 9th of 69 all men / 12th of all racers

Up next three more 5Ks:  Alger Hts Oct 28, WMU Turkey Trot Nov 18 and the GRPS 5K on Thanksgiving Day.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Isle Royale adventure 2017

Isle Royale adventure 2017

I had done a bit of backpacking and hiking back in the 1970s but had gotten away from it for years but always wanted to get back to it.  Also, hiking on Isle Royale was part of that goal. Any gear I had back then was long gone.

Over the years I'd gradually began accumulating the right gear:  backpacking tent, good sleeping bag and a pad, water filter/purifying unit, small stove and cookware, etc.  When I'd accumulated most of the big stuff by 2015 I went to REI in Ann Arbor, with my friend Steve for advice given his experience, and shopped for & purchased an Osprey Aether-70 backpack.

The goal was to hike the island in 2016, but with the election season interfering I had to move the plans to 2017.         

Forward to 2017, the plan was to go to the island in mid-July, but with our new home purchase and moving in July, I delayed again to mid-August.

As I worked to finalize the trip a number of issues arose. Apparently the ferry to the island from Copper Harbor gets sold out! You definitely need to book in advance. I finally did, with a ride over on Monday Aug 21st and return trip Saturday Aug 26th.  I had wanted to get on the island Sunday but there was no room on the ferry.

In the last couple weeks I also assembled the smaller items needed: gathering the clothes and hats and such, put together a small first aid kit, buy more stove fuel, gather food.  I packed about 90% of it into the backpack the Wednesday  before the trip and tried on the pack for weight and fit- felt great.

Food:  My friend Scott said when he hiked he used regular foods.  But I opted to go with freeze-dried foods.  However, looking at the single serve packs of various brands at Bill&Pauls or REI or Cabelas- each of these were $7-10 !  I figured I needed at least ten meals at two meals per day.

Instead I bought a pre-packed set from REI produced by Harmony House.  At first I was going to take several of these vegetable items as-is in their packages but opted instead to create 12 meals in advance. I mixed and matched the various ingredients from this kit into twelve zip lock bags complete with added spices.  This way as I consume the meals the pack gets lighter and I am not carrying any food items which I may not use or have left over.


Primary Gear:

REI three season-two person tent
Kelty 21degree sleeping bag
REI self inflating sleeping pad
Osprey Aether AG 70  backpack
MSR Whisperlite three fuel stove
Harmony House freeze dried foods
Katedyne Pro water filter
Merrell Moab shoes



Day One (Monday):


Rock Harbor Trail to Suzy's Cave Trail to Tobin Harbor Trail to Mount Franklin Trail to Greenstone Ridge Trail.  Hiked to Mount Ojibwa then down to Daisy Farm campground.
10.2 miles

The Mount Franklin trail from Tobin Harbor to Greenstone was THE TOUGHEST segment of the entire week.  It rained Monday night.

Day Two (Tuesday):  


Daisy Farm Trail to Greenstone Ridge Trail, hike west to Chickenbone East then to McCargo Cove Campground.
11 miles

Another brief squall of rain Tuesday night

Day Three (Wednesday):


McCargo Cove to Indian Portage Trail to Greenstone then to Daisy Farm via Chickenbone campgrounds
13.1 miles

Day Four (Thursday) 

Daisy Farm Campground via Rock Harbor trail to Rock Harbor.
8 miles

TOTAL:  approximately 42.3 miles of hiking and 22 hours.



I didn't underestimate the island. It is beautiful and rugged.  I had originally planned for five nights and six days but by Tuesday evening had decided to cut one day off.  I was having

fun but decided to get back home  a day earlier in order to unpack my gear on Sunday rather than come home Sunday and go right to work the next day and be unpacking Monday evening.

However, I started to get a stress injury on the side of my right foot making it difficult to hike at time.  Also, I'd had some issues keeping my stove lit for breakfast and dinner both Monday and Tuesday.  So I opted to head back to Daisy Farm campground and be on the south side of the island if any issues arose which was prescient. Wednesday night the stove finally stopped working.  It wasn't keeping a pressure seal to allow the flame to keep going.  Another camper heated my water enough so I could get dinner that night. I tried replacing an O-ring on-site but no good.  If I stayed longer on the island past Thursday I'd be eating peanuts and Clif-bars.  So I decided Wednesday night to hike Thursday (8 miles along the Rock Harbor Trail) back to the harbor and see if I could get a ride off the island.

When I planned to go originally I tried to book the ferry for Sunday but it was full and sold out!  So Monday through Saturday was my passage.  The boat only holds so many people (per Coast Guard rules I assume).  Luckily they had room on Thursday for three of us who decided to exit before our scheduled date.  so if you go, book passage well in advance on the days you plan.

But also know that if you want to get back to Copper Harbor early you may not be able to.  I took the Isle Royale Ferry from Copper Harbor but there is also a ferry that departs from Houghton as well.

When we got off the ferry the national park staff divides the passengers into two groups: Those that plan to backpack/camp and those staying at the lodges/hotel.  There was 90-100 people on the boat and at least 50 of us were backpacking!  After an orientation regarding "leave no trace" and "pack it out"  we went into the ranger station and got our permits to hike.  The park has an entry fee of $7/day or $60/season.  I'd bought the $60 so as to not worry about details of how many days I'd stay.  The permits are no charge but they want to know a preliminary itinerary, i.e. at which campgrounds you intend to stay which gives them an idea of who is where in rough sense.  From discussion with the rangers there was about 250 people hiking on the island.

After getting permits everyone pretty much heads west out on Rock Harbor Trail- it was like a freeway!  So after 1.80 miles I decided to get some solitude and less traffic and took a right turn north on Cave Trail (or Suzy's Cave Trail).  There is a cave in that approximately .2 mile segment which leads up to Tobin's Ridge Trail.  This trail runs parallel to the Rock Harbor Trail on the north  side of the peninsula on which the harbor sits and you can actually get to it right from the harbor by going straight north from the ranger station rather than east- a factor I had not noticed when I first left the harbor.

From Tobin's Ridge I decided to ascend up to the Greenstone Ridge trail and Mount Franklin.  The Mount Franklin trail segment from Tobin to Greenstone was the TOUGHEST segment of the entire
trip in my opinion!  VERY difficult.

Once up on the Greenstone I was surprised how easy that trail was- far easier than the trails down along the shores of the island!

After traversing the interior a bit and seeing Mount Ojibwa lookout tower, I opted to go back down to Daisy Farm campground -a very popular campground by the way.  Camping is first come, first serve and if you wait too long in the day you may not find a site at any given location.  All campgrounds have a mix of lean-to (screened in on the open side) shelters and campsites.

They also all have one or two outhouses.

A word about outhouses and the "leave no trace-pack it out" as applies to toiletry.  If you HAVE to go and can wait until a campground is near, whether camping there or not, you can just use the outhouse.  This applies to going #2 (to be tactful), not urinating.  BUT, if you cannot absolutely wait, THEN that is when you have to dig a hole, go in the hole, and bury your waste EXCEPT you don't bury the toilet paper. That is what you have to pack out probably in a zip lock bag, which they recommend you carry several zip lock bags for any trash eventuality.

Oh, and don't drop the zip lock bag or other trash in the outhouses holes.  It just creates bigger issues in the ground.

Monday was also eclipse day!  The NPS had given us eclipse glasses when we got our permits.  As I hiked from Tobins Ridge up to Greenstone I did come across 5-6 young men sitting on a large open rock face. I asked if they were getting ready to watch the eclipse and one told me it was almost over.  Hahahaha.  I hadn't even noticed because it wasn't much to begin with and I was in the woods on Tobin's Ridge trail and didn't see the sky much anyway.  All rather anti-climactic.

It rained Monday night at Daisy Farm quite hard.  Tuesday I decided to cross the island and camp at McCargoe Bay.  I had intended to go back up to Mt Ojibwa and climb the tower for photos but there are two trails out of Daisy Farm and I took the one on the left which reached the Greenstone a mile or so west of the tower. I didn't really want to backtrack so headed onward past Chickenbone campgrounds around Chickenbone Lake (so named due to its shape) and down to the cove.

Just getting to Greenstone Tuesday morning was a wet ordeal.  I was soaked from the hips down due to all the rainwater still laying the the overgrown leaves along the trail.  Once on Greenstone the trail opened up and I did come across another hiker heading in the opposite direction, the first I'd seen for the last couple hours. We exchanged greetings and I said he was the first person I saw and he commented that perhaps no one else wanted to get wet.

About 10am or later, I took a break on a large rock face open area,  took off my shoes and socks and unzipped the lower leg of my pants and laid them all out to dry in the sun for about a half hour.  Good opportunity for a snack and water break also.  I opted to change my socks at this point.  Onward for the hike with plenty of long vista views!

It rained again Tuesday evening.  I'd camped at the top of the McCargoe Bay campground then went down to the lake where there was a dock and a picnic table to make dinner.  Two other hikers went by and I told them if they couldn't find a site, the one I was in was huge and could accommodate two or three more tents- which they did decide to do.  After dinner I lounged on the dock and chatted with a man and his son who'd come to the island by boat.  Soon thunder could be heard and I headed up to my tent and tucked in just in time to avoide a hard short rain squall.  (One of the two other guys on the site simply camped under a tarp strung between two trees- ultralight- though he did have a sleeping bag and pad).

I did have a rain jacket and also a rain cover for my pack but it never rained during the day while I was there and hiking after 8am most mornings I didn't even need a fleece or jacket as it was already warm enough.  I wore the same shirt all four days- my longsleeve tech running shirt which I got after completing the Grand Rapids half-marathon.  It was wicking, kept my arms from sunburn and cool enough I didn't overheat.  I wore the same pants each day and only concerned myself with changing underwear and socks- especially socks as my feet were getting soaked and the shoes muddy every day.

There is a LOT of mud on the island.  It's hard to avoid it and indeed the NPS rangers tell you to slog righ through it rather than widen the trail by trying to go around.  Often there are rocks in the middle of a muddy strail section which you can also walk on.  But in some cases there is no option but to just muddle down the middle!

There are also many many sections of long 12 inch wide boards to walk on which traverses bogs or watery areas.  Some of these seemed 100 yards long or more and be aware- not all the board are in good shape!  Some are rotted. Others have the nails which hold them to the log underneath very loose and the board shifts as you step on it.  In several spots you can see piles of these boards and logs staged for use in repair of the damaged sections and indeed on Wednesday afternoon at the Daisy Farm camp, I saw a crew of 8-10 people in park uniforms exiting the woods to board a boat for the end of the day. They were carrying axes and chainsaws and gear to repair these wooden sections.

Day three out of McCargo Bay was my moose encounter morning.  I'd gotten up had breakfast (with difficulty as the stove was not working well). A bit after 8am I began my trip back over the island to the south side.  It would be my most aggressive day with 13+ miles to get back to Daisy Farm campground.

I did see wolf tracks in the mud and photographed them but never did see a wolf.

The trail runs along a cove or lake and is close to the water.  15 minutes out of the camp I saw the moose cow down in the water on my left and I took a couple photos as she looked up and noticed me.  I assumed she'd stay there so I started hiking again at which point she moved up out of the water and stood on the trail looking at me from about 30 yards.  I assumed she'd moved out of the water so as to not feel trapped there as I went down the trail.  I moved up off the trail a bit and too a couple more photos. She started to come toward me but after a couple steps she stepped on one of those 12" boards and stepped back and began mooing.  After a minute she headed up into the trees and away from the water.

Once I reached Greenstone ridge a while later I came across a group of young men taking a break.  We chatted about campgrounds and destinations and they said they were heading to Lake Ritchie. Just as they said and before I could mention it, another couple walked in and told them Lake Ritchie had been on NPS alert for a bacteria bloom and the water in the lake was unusable for drinking. Boiling and filtering would NOT fix it and you'd get poisoned. The NPS even recommended not eating fish there.  They had told us this Monday when we had orientation at the dock and the NPS had posted signs all over the island to that effect. These young guys hadn't heard it yet and it changed their itinerary immediately.

Anyway, I made it back to Daisy Farm Camp and was sore and exhausted this time.  I didn't see a campsite readily available and didn't feel like hunting one down so I took one of the lean-to shelters.  When you do this you need to put your permit (which you twist tie to your backpack for visibility) onto the door.  Some people get the lean-to and set up their tents inside for better heat retention, but I opted to just put down the self inflating sleeping pad and and my 20 degree capable Kelty sleeping bag.  (It did get down to about 35 degrees each night on the island).

I went to the dock and took off my shoes and socks, chatted with other campers and refilled my water bottles with my Katedyne filter kit.  Then back to make dinner- and the final straw- the stove would not stay lit.  The MSR Whisperlite attaches to the MSR fuel bottle and you pump it up to pressurize the white gas inside.  But mine was not pumping up and reaching any resistance.  Thus the flame would die out unless I pumped it a bit more but then it would fade again...Dang it.

The older couple I'd been talking to at the dock were at their lean to and heated up my water for me so I could cook the freeze dried food I'd packed for my last meal on the island. Once the stove died I decided to try to depart Thursday.  Worse case, I could not get off the island but could camp near the harbor and eat at the restaurant there.  And I still had peanuts, bread & peanut butter, and clifbars.

The lean-to shelters are three sided with a roof and the entire front screened in.  But they are up off the ground a bit and ultimately like a large beat box! Yeah- people in a nearby shelter walked rather heavily in theirs and all night I could hear their footsteps booming from the beatbox effect of the elevated floor. Jeesh.

This was my earliest start at about 7am and the only day I hiked with my fleece for a bit.  With no stove, I didn't take time to cook breakfast and I didn't have to take down the tent since I'd used the shelter so I started the eight miles along the Rock Harbor trail back to the harbor.  A portion passes some open mine pits (which have wood fence barriers) so I got a few photos there.  The coast trail was difficult with lots of rocky up and down.  Finally I reached the Suzy's Cave post and was less than two miles from the harbor and my right foot was aching quite a bit. Less than an hour later I reached the harbor and checked in with the ranger who put me third on the list for standby for the ferry.  An hour later she contacted them by marine radio to check on arrival time and asked about room off the island and they said they could take all three of us on standby at which point she gave the ferry boat our names.

I had a cup of soup in the restaurant as I waited the last four hours of my trip on the island.  Most of the staff was from China, interestingly, ( "Ni Hao" ) and I had conversation with the waitress from Taiwan for a bit.

Eventually the ferry came- the take the packs and luggage up top, you put your stove fuel (if liquid) in a crate for separate storage (does not apply to the screw-on propane style fuel- just white gas or kerosene as I had in the MSR bottle). Then onto the boat for the 55 mile - three hour passage back to Copper Harbor.

I got back and was able to move my Saturday stay at the North Port Motel from Saturday to Thursday.  I got cleaned up, organized my pack and disposed of any trash I'd packed out, and went
for dinner at the Mariner North restaurant. I'd eaten there Sunday night too. It's really the only place to eat and it is quite good.  (By the way, one young lady waiting tables there was from Nigeria).  There's a pub across the street but while I was there the attached grill kitchen was not open so I have no idea of its menu.

I also noticed a brewpub in Copper Harbor. When I mentioned it back home before my trip a friend made a "face."  I went there Sunday when I arrived and tried their IPA... and I made the same "face."  Sorry pub, not really that good of beer.  Better to get a beer at The Mariner North restaurant.

Now for the long drive home.  My shoes simply stank!  So I rode most of the ten hours back to Grand Rapids without shoes on, tossing them to the passenger side and pulling out the insole.

At one point I held them out a window to air them out as I drove through a town at 35 mph LOL

On the way north I'd seen US-2 eastbound backed up for a couple miles as traffic tried to go south across the bridge. So I opted to take the route east out of Marquette directly to I-75 and come do the bridge from the north just in case there was a similar back-up, I'd already be on the expressway.


Lessons Learned

Probably the singular most different thing I could do is the tent.  I used the 2-person, 3-season tent my wife and I camp in from the car. It's not really a backpacking tent. We got our tent a few years ago (and bought our son Brenden one as well). They don't make that model anymore but it is similar to the current REI Co-op Passage 2 Tent which is nearly five pounds.  On the one hand with the extra room I dragged my pack in each night. But I am already shopping for a solo backpack tent such as the MSR Hubba which at 2lb-7oz cuts my tent weight in half!

Injury- I just did not get enough pack time.  I'd meant to pack the backpack with my gear and hike a local trail a couple times a week to get used to the weight.  But with buying a house and moving all through late June and July, I never did have the opportunity.  The soreness or stress injury on my foot is simply lack of training- not enough time practicing with the added 40 lbs.  But the pack fit great and never caused discomfort or chafing except  a mild discomfort on my right shoulder. I had broken the collar bone in 1989 and they allowed it to heal overlapping as was common. The pack pad went right across this bump but by moving the pad a bit to the right off the bump and closer to my shoulder I eliminated this easily.

Footwear- first I forgot to pack footwear to put on at the campsites so as be able to take off my shoes each night.  I do have Packmocs which I will take next time
I also probably  would hike in something more of a boot.  The Moabs did great for grip on the rocky terrain, but I would probably go with Merrell Moab mid-rise which puts the shoe higher on my ankle rather than Merrell Moab shoes.

Swimsuit- Take one.  The lake is really cold but it would be refreshing each evening after a hike to dunk in even just quickly and get washed off.

Finally- test my stove in advance.  I didn't do this but also had no reason to think it would not work, though I had not used it for over a year.  So my fault- lesson learned.

August was a good time to go- late enough to get past bug season. But not too late to where the moose get too aggressive.


I am already planning for my next visit there next August 2018.  Our tentative plan is to do the Ore-to-Shore race in Marquette, visit friends in Ontanogan on Saturday and head to Copper Harbor or Houghton on Sunday for passage to the island.  Joni and I can day-hike on the first day and I'd head out for two or three nights camping on the island after that.



Wednesday, August 02, 2017

No more lefty on my Cannondale mountain bike

First ride last night w/Founders team on repaired Cannondale Rush- no more lefty- conventional thru-axle front wheel- bike handled great!

Keep in mind the bike is a 2006 frame which came with standard 26" wheels. I installed the 27-1/2 Velocity tubeless on it at the start of 2013. In 2014 I damaged that original Lefty fork and replaced it with a used carbon fork purchased on Ebay and expedited so I could get it installed in time to race Mohican-100 in June of 2014. Both forks were 26" wheel intent.

Fast forward to June 18, 2017: 42 miles into Lumberjack-100 on a climb (thankfully not on 25mph descent), the front wheel starts wobbling and completely rotating separate from the handlebars. Completely unrideable. Walk out to the aid station for ride to the start line for a DNF.

Take the bike to GRBC on Fulton because I was told Dan is the Lefty fork guru. He reports the fork is not repairable. Something damaged and broken which holds the lower portion to the upper.

Option #1 ($1000 min): Get another Lefty which is designed for 26" wheels but Cannondale will not stand behind the warranty if I use the 650B wheels.

Option #2 ($1400 min): Buy a Lefty designed for 650B as is on the Cannondale Habit bike

Option #3 ($700-800 approx): Ditch the Lefty and go with a new conventional fork but one with a through-axle mount.

Not being paricularly wedded to the Lefty I went with door #3 and due to moving and as such not riding that much right now, I gave Dan plenty of time with the bike and he dialed it in perfect! The only adjustment to be made is to rotate the shift lever a bit more toward me so my thumb doesn't have to reach too far to click it to drop down the cassette gears.

But more interesting was the stability. Both Lefty forks I had used with the 650B wheels were always a bit unstable if going no-handed. I don't do that much and obviously not on trails but when on flat roads or such it would have been handy to do so when eating and drinking or swapping things from my pockets particularly on those long races. But I couldn't do this because the front would start to shimmy after 10-15 yards and I'd have to hang onto the handlebars.

But last night, on a ride that took in a good amount of pavement as rode to and from the trails, I tried no-handed and the bike rode smooth and straight as if I'd just gotten an alignment on car! The Geometry seems excellent - maybe even a bit better than with the Leftys as the rake of the front wheel doesn't seem so steep. Maneuverability seemed to be of no issue either!

So- a 2006 Cannondale Rush 26" wheel bike has had the following upgrades:
1. 650B tubeless Velocity wheels replaced stock wheels 2013
2. Drive train changed in 2016 replaced original triple set with a One-By Sram set
3. Lefty Front fork changed for a new Rockshox through axle fork 2017
4. I also immediately changed the hand grips to Ergon in 2006 and the saddle for a Koobi saddle. Also have a Thomson seat post.

Pretty much the only original items are the frame and handlebars.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Blast from the past-July 2015 epic ride in China

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.

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.

But I had the chance to carry the Founders logo here as I rode in my Founders team kit.