Glacial Hills MTB Race Write Up

Glacial Hills is a flowing fun course with sneaky elevation gain, because it doesn’t really feel like your climbing as much as you are.  2018’s race was going to be a very dry and dusty one with no rain in the forecast leading up to the race.

Instead of staying up north at a great friends home like I normally do for races up in the Traverse City area, I decided to get up early and roll with my teammates Brent and Rob, both fast and technically sound riders.  I had to wake up at 5 $%$!!n fifteen in the morning to do this, which is very tough for me because I am not an early morning person.  I don’t like to get up before the sun, but that was needed in order to make the race.  Here is a picture of us loading up at 5:45 to leave, which I thought was a little early.  But, after we started driving, I soon realized that these old guys couldn’t hold their bladders and we had to stop every 10 minutes for these dudes to pee!

Only three other racers had pre-registered for the elite/pro race.  I looked at who was signed up, and figured a couple more would make the race.

We arrived at the race 3 hours after we left and right away I saw some elite riders that I was not expecting, but I told myself, no big deal, I should be able to hold the front group as long as the pace isn’t too crazy.  I preceded to get checked in and changed into my racing kit and went on my warm-up.

Then it happened, I saw him, the beast from the north and I knew the race was going to get blown apart as soon as we hit the singletrack, change of plans.

The course was super dusty and more sandy than I have ever seen it due to no rain.  This was the first race in a long time that I had not brought my GoPro’s, I think it was more of a decision my brain made rather than me consciously forgetting them.  The reason was because it seemed like almost every race I have done this year I have caught someone on camera crashing, so I did not want to be the superstitious reason for someone crashing again.

To the start line.  Before the race started while we all waited that long 10 minutes for the gun, I did announce that I did not have my GoPro’s on today so everyone was safe from crashing, a few guys picked up on that and chuckled.

The race starts, the pace is pretty good going up the gradual climb to get to the singletrack.  Jorden, the guy I was telling you about, aka the beast from the north, leads a fast pace into the woods and right away there is a crash which separates us a little from the group.  Cody and I push and catch back up to the group only to have another crash happen on more sand and we loose touch with the front group.

We worked together with Jeremy and gradually catch racers and move further up in the race.  As lap two progressed Cody and the G-man pulled away from Jeremy and I.  During lap two I started feeling really good, so on lap three I asked Jeremy if I could pull for awhile and he let me around.  I noticed after awhile I was catching rider after rider and making my way out of a double digit place and into the top 10.  I even started closing the gap on Cody and G-man.  I pushed myself really hard to catch them, but a 12 second gap is really hard to make up in a MTB race when the guy in front of you is pushing just as hard to stay away from you!  Cody and I even spoke about this after the race.

Afterward I think Kmac said that I better roll the GoPros because they actually prevent so many crashes, I think more of the Elite riders crashed on this day than did not.  This race was so dusty, I was a few shades darker than normal!  Photo Credit: Jack Kunnen

Racing…we pay to race, we get up early and drive far, we race and push our bodies to their limits, we manage more pain than most people can imagine…why do we do this?  If you don’t know, I doubt you would understand.  We live life behind bars!

This trip was a blast, and hanging with teammates made it even more fun.  We laughed a lot, had a great time before and after the race and I can’t wait to do it again!  Be sure to check out this race next year, as always, thanks for reading, share if you enjoyed it!

Big M Challenge, A MTB Race in the middle of no where!

Big M, I love it and I hate it.  It is beautiful,  inspiring, but it also causes me to have a little anxiety due to last years LJ100.

I love the singletrack there, especially on a full suspension. You can rip so fast on all the downhills, and then grind up the long climbs to test your fitness.  I don’t like the place because I completely bonked there last year at LJ100 and thought I was going to die, it haunts me.

I remembered the hill, that long climb, thankfully at the LJ100 you went the opposite way and came down that hill.  At this race however, you get to go up it not only once but three times!

I decided that I needed to keep racing more this year to keep my racing legs and to stay faster and not let the fitness fall off, so this race was on my schedule and I am very glad I did it as I was 4 minutes faster than last year.

The race starts with about 2 miles of fun flowing singletrack before you go up the hill, and this race started pretty fast and the pace seemed to pick up going up the first long climb up that hill.  After you crest the hill you flow for a bit and then there is another gradual climb in elevation before going out into the cut forest sections with the hot sun trying to overheat your body.  Once you reach the triple climb and crest that hill the rest of the course is amazing and super fun even at race pace.  Check out the action in the video below.

TCTF

Every time I think I am getting ahead on things I wake up from dream land and realize there’s a lot to do!  I do have a big project coming soon, so stay tuned!

A few weekends back, some teammates and I decided to race the  TCTF race up near traverse city.  The race was amazing using almost all singletrack and doubletrack.  The event was put on very nicely, including the timing, course design, awards, mtbers, and post race food!!!

If you have not been up to race this race, I would recommend getting it on your schedule for next year, I would also recommend a full suspension bike to help smooth out the rough singletrack.

After the race we decided to put more miles in on the VASA, it was a great day on bikes!

Check out the footage and commentary on the race!

Trip West

How can a summer vacation not be great?  Our summer vacation did not disappoint! We traveled with our kids and my parents, and for the most part, we all got along.  There may have been an hour in there that was not so good!  haha

We left Michigan around dinner time on a Thursday and made it to Wisconsin for stay for the night.  We purposely stayed very close to where we would start things off! Up in the morning on Friday we were off to the Cave of the Mounds in Wisconsin followed by a boat tour of the Dells. Cave of the mounds was amazing, not only is the cave temperature nice and cool, the cave is a must see! As for the boat tour, it was super hot, so hot that my 7 year old and mother started to shut down. Over 100 degrees and humid doesn’t make for pleasant weather unless you are in the water!  We still made the best of it!

We packed up the peeps and headed to stay near Theodore Roosevelt National Park, so that we could get up in the morning and have a short drive to get there.   This was our first time at this park and we were very surprised at its beauty and wildlife.  Watch out for the cliff edges!

Next on the list was traveling to BIllings, MT just outside of Yellowstone to re group and plan our next few days in the park.  By this point, the wife and I were itching for some singletrack.  We dipped into the trail forks app to locate some trails in the area and decided on the one with the best views, and that was close, only a 10 minute drive.  We woke up early and jumped in the loaded up SUV.  When we were 2 minutes away we realized that the road to get up the cliffs had just been closed due to a crack in the road, this added 15 more minutes to our travel plans and cut down on 30 minutes of riding time.  Instead of going back to the hotel, we pressed on and explored Zimmerman Trails, see the video for my review on the trail.

Next on the list was a day of driving through the beartooth highway and parts of Yellowstone, because of our lack of cardio on the ride in Billings, we wanted to get out and ride the next morning in Yellowstone.  Check out the snow we came across just before entering Yellowstone and our hike to Trout Lake.

Our Ride from Silver Gate into Yellowstone, just a little on the chilly side!

We spent a few days touring and hiking Yellowstone and wanted to find some singletrack again, so we used the trail forks app and found a trail system in West Yellowstone where we were staying.  Check out the footage and my opinion of this trail system called Renezvous.

After time spent in Yellowstone, we made our way to Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, Needles Highway, Keystone, and the Crazy Horse Monument!

 

We also were able to ride on the epic Mickelson Trail which is 110 miles long!  My wife and I put in 20 miles and I added another 14 on my own.  See how amazing this gravel rail trail in the video below.

The next day I got up early and rode up to the top of needles highway!

We finished our trip at a water park for the little ones birthday, I think we all needed some cooling off after mostly hot hot weather!

Thanks for checking in, be sure to share and subscribe to the youtube channel Bike Life with Rob!  See you on the trails!

Island Lake Challege

It has been awhile since I have posted!   Summer is busy, kids are at home, it’s racing season, it’s beach season, and it’s camping season!  Time sure does fly when you are having fun.

The Island Lake MTB race was scheduled earlier in the year, but due to bad weather they postponed it and I decided to go and get my butt kicked!

The course is really fast, not a lot of climbing, but it definitely pays to know the course.  I started in last place in the pro/elite category, and gradually through lap one and the start of lap two, I was able to pick a couple people off. Things were looking good until I flatted, and it wasn’t a flat that I could pump back up, it needed a tube!

I actually tried pumping it up with a ladies pump and it wouldn’t hold air, you could hear the air escaping through the giant hole. I eventually hiked it out to the main road and was lucky enough to bump into a bike medic who patrols the course while the race is going on in case of a crash or mishap.  Thankfully he had a tube and fixed me up.  He also showed me a great technique for taking a tire off which I have used and it is way easier than I had previously done.  Too bad I didn’t record him doing it, I could have posted his advice in the form of a video.

As for the course, it was still wet in areas with standing mud water in the low sections, and the wooden bridge was ice, just ask everyone who crashed there.  Other than that the dirt was amazing and fast!  Check out the race footage that I do have and enjoy!  Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel if you like cycling, I am way behind on the subscribers!

Cheap Action Camera

I recently found a cheap action camera at Menards for $30.  I figured for $30 even if the camera wasn’t great, I could give it to one of my kids and it would make their day!

I tried the camera with different settings to see if I could get a steady picture while connected to my mountain bike, and nothing worked.  This camera does not have any kind of stabilization control and I would not recommend it for use on any moving platform (bike, car, running, dog, drone, etc).  You may be able to use a gimble and get it to stabilize, however I do not have one and was not going to buy one to see if it worked.

I also had to mess with the saturation settings, as it came with the settings making everything overly saturated.  This is pretty easy to fix in the settings.

The camera does have an ok slow motion setting in which it takes video of an action sport and puts it in slow motion.  I would grade it average in this respect, and for $30 it’s pretty cool.

The camera does work well for shooting video of the action and not being a part of the action, again, worth the $30 to have a camera I can set on the trail and catch some footage of someone going by, doing a jump, smashing a corner, etc.  I just set it up on  a mini tripod and its good to go.

It also takes pretty good pictures as you can see in the second video below.  Overall I would recommend a buy on this if you need a camera to shoot the action as opposed to being a part of the action.  If you need a part of the action, action camera then I would go with a GoPro as they do a good job.  See the videos below for proof of what I explain here.  PS the sound quality of the camera is not good at all!

VIDEO 1 SHOWING THE QUALITY DIFFERENCE

VIDEO 2 SHOWING SOME OF THE GOOD THINGS OF THE CHEAPY

Intervals

The MTB season has not gone how I would like it to so far.  The asthma issues pushed training back a bit,  and because of that I did not have any really great races so far this year.  I have had fun races, just not performance great races.

To add to that, I have recently been coming into form for racing, but then I decided not to race a race because of rain.  I had enough rain in the previous race and did not want to deal with it again.  And then the last race I was planning for the spring season, I missed the sign up deadline and there are no day of registrations.  So coming into to shape for nothing is kind of a bummer.

The good news, I have been able to get on intervals, and these really are great for MTB racing, and I can feel the power living in my legs after a few weeks of these.  I was able to try out the fitness on a local trail and I felt pretty good last weekend.

If you are not including intervals in your training routine, I don’t think you will see the improvements you are looking for.  They help you get off the start line, they help you fight and attack, they help you get up that crazy hill, and they get you the sprint finish win at the end of a race.  Intervals = Matches, how many matches do you have in your pocket?

If you need help with your training, visit https://urbikelife.com/product-category/mtb-training-plans/ and pick something that is right for what you have in mind!  Thanks for stopping by, let us know what your favorite type of interval is?

 

Mud, Sweat, and Beers Mountain Bike Race

MSB, one of my favorite races.

1. Because the weather is usually perfect for racing bikes, it’s not super hot and it’s not snowing or freezing rain.

2. Because the trail system in Traverse City is vast and the course seems to always change with the millions of trails they have.

3. Because the event is killer from everyone racing, to the people that bring MSB together every year.

This year was no exception, the weather was great, the announcer was entertaining, the guys I race with were great, the people I don’t race with were great, and the mtb community up there was great.  I was excited to get on the line to see what I could do again this year placing 14th in a close group of guys finishing from 12th place to 18th.  No complaints from the results considering a rough start to the season.

Check out the video, I have been trying to have fun and keep interest in the videos, so I have shortened the races. Instead of being 1.5 – 2 hours long, I try to keep them under 20 minutes, closer to 10 if possible.  I also have added some funny commentary to the videos to keep people watching.  The names given are in no way meant to make anyone cry, it is just for fun!  Check out the shortened race video, as always thanks for racing, be sure to subscribe, and let us know how your last race went?

Yankee TT

The Yankee Springs Time Trial is one of my must do races every year.  The amount of people and riders at this particular race brings so much excitement to the sport I just can’t miss it!

This year I did not start first like last year, I started second!  Which brings up a very interesting topic, do you sign up early and get a top spot so that the real fast guys can pass you, or do you just sign up before the race so that you start last and are not humiliated?

I choose to be humiliated, and why not?  When a faster rider comes through, this gives me a chance to try and hang on for my life until I can’t anymore.  I believe this is a great way to learn and get faster.

I didn’t do too bad this year, placing better than last year in 13th, check out the footage and enjoy the commentary!  And most importantly, we are very happy that Tumble Tim was OK!

Racing Elite is like having a punching bag that only punches me!

I guess you could say I am somewhat new to the MTB scene, this being my fourth season riding the bike.  I still have a lot of questions, I still have things to get better at on the technical riding side, I still have to improve the engine and cardio, I still am not 100% capable of doing everything I need to maintain my bike on my own, but I have learned a lot over the last few years and have grown to really love the sport.

One thing I have learned as far as what category you should ride in is this; if you are beginning to mountain bike and want to race, start out in the beginner category for a couple races and see how you do.  If you like and want to get serious about it, keep riding and racing.  Once you have made a few podiums and/or won your age group at a race, it’s time to move up to the sport category.

Once you move to the sport category and start doing the same thing, getting on the podium, then it is time to move up to the expert category.

This is where it gets tricky, do you stay in this category even when you win and stand on the podium all the time, or do you move up?

Things to consider.

The Elite/Pro Category is a totally new animal, and I believe there are these same levels within this category.  There is a beginner elite, a sport elite, an expert elite, and a pro elite.  At the end of my second season, I tried one of these races and was a beginner elite for sure, posting one of the slowest times of the day in that category.

In the beginning of my third season, I decided to race this category for the whole season and actually raced my first REAL Pro race.  In the spring I showed signs of major improvement, I would have considered myself a sport elite, but I did hit a couple races that I would consider myself a low level expert Elite.  Since those spring races I have not been able to get my fitness there for a number of reasons, being sick, overtraining, and taking time of to recover from a race.

This year I sit around that Sport Elite level, and have not been able to get where I thought I would be, again, kids bringing bugs home from school, time off training to recover, winter dragging on which unmotivated me, etc.

Another thing about this category, there is no glory from where I sit.  I get my ass beat everyday at 99% of all the races.  If there are not a lot of fast guys that show up, someone makes a wrong turn,  then I have a chance at getting a low spot on a podium, but if the dogs show up, I am off the front group very fast as my level of fitness can’t hang.

Getting your ass beat all the time is tough, but I am not giving up.  Let’s see how the last few races shape up for the srping, and then how the fitness comes together for the fall.

What are your thoughts on the topic?