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Dan Went To Mexico And All You Get Is A Few Photos From The Trip

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Adventurer/Cyclist/Man of Steel Dan Ellis went to Mexico and odds are you didn’t.  Continue reading “Dan Went To Mexico And All You Get Is A Few Photos From The Trip”

BEE’s Eight Weeks To Iceman: A Case For Structured Training

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For years, riders in Traverse City queue up and elbow for prime spots in Lauri Brockmiller’s Eight Weeks to Iceman. With riders like Nick Wierzba, Tim Pulliam and others making huge improvements from the structured program, we thought October a prime time to see what all those riders are doing in “The Hive” right now ahead of not just Iceman, but Peak2Peak in two weeks.

Continue reading “BEE’s Eight Weeks To Iceman: A Case For Structured Training”

The Peak2Peak Entry Winner Is…

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Family, thanks for spreading the word about The Out’n’Back on October 15.  Continue reading “The Peak2Peak Entry Winner Is…”

2017 Clarabella GROAD: Justin Trudeau’s American Cousin Wins

That’s right, and this is a real face that’s true, Rick Trudo, the Busch Light to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Molson, wins the 2017 Clarabella GROAD.  Continue reading “2017 Clarabella GROAD: Justin Trudeau’s American Cousin Wins”

The October Campaign

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October is stacked with races. Here is where we’ll be, plus one shameless plug for The Out’n’Back.

It can’t be the promise of great weather, but the races in October are maybe the most fixed and fascinating of the whole season. In the spring, the run of Lowell 50/Barry-Roubaix/Mud, Sweat and Beers is essentially set in stone for many riders Up North, but the pattern in October is perhaps more certain, and perhaps more important in the build-up to Iceman.

This year, it starts from the gun with the Clarabella GROAD race. The 50-mile course is relatively flat, and the field is small, but it’s a laid-back, low-key race that’s much harder than the profile would indicate. Last year, days of rain left the gravel thick with mud, but it didn’t do anything to dampen the enthusiastic riders looking to raise some cash for Heart of the Lakes. It brings plenty of people into downtown Clare, and if you can make it past that donut shop, there are great coffee joints, Ray’s Bike Shop is way cool, and the town itself is a real charmer.

The race, which is on October 1, moved away before the other big pinnacle of the month, Michigan Mountain Mayhem’s Gravel Grinder on October 7. Somewhat fittingly, the Gravel Grinder falls on the same day as Il Lombardia, “The Race of the Falling Leaves” that traditionally caps the professional season in Europe. With Boyne City at peak color and the promise of an incredibly tough race, in another state, it would happily serve as a similar sort of bookend to racing in Michigan, staring opposite the calendar from Barry-Roubaix.

The 60-mile race is brutally tough, with over 3,000 feet of climbing and, according to Paul, more seasonal road in this edition than in year’s past. The addition of that sand (because ‘seasonal road’ means exactly that) could open up the race to folks who only have a mountain bike, and since the race is in Northern Michigan, 1) everyone has a mountain bike 2) everyone is getting ready for Iceman it might be a good thing in drawing more riders to the event.

While it’s not a race, we’ve not-so-subtlely plugged The Out’n’Back on Sunday, October 15. We’re taking a look at the Iceman course with a few hundred people, and it makes for a pretty incredible bike ride. Seeing 150 or so people ride out from Timber Ridge, all laughing and chatting and catching up, really gets riders of all abilities excited for The Big Day. Like Iceman itself, you’ll see riders of all interests and all speeds, so if you show up, you’ll almost certainly find someone to ride along with.

It’s only another week until Peak2Peak. This race started as an Iceman tune-up event, but that just isn’t the case anymore. While certainly smaller, the race’s men’s and women’s elite fields are as stacked as any race in the state, on par with everything from Barry-Roubaix to Ore2Shore and, except for a Howard Grotts or Spencer Paxson, Iceman.

The course has been dismissed in the past as too easy or straightforward, but I couldn’t disagree more. The lap is essentially a drag race punctuated with a hill climb. Riders with loads of power work themselves into a lather for 11 miles, only to find the impish climbers bouncing past. Descending like stoners, the bigger riders have to pull the climbers back, only for the dance to begin again at the base of the climb. It’s race filled with riders gambling, pitting their strength against the strengths of the riders around them.

On October 28, the Lowell 50‘s fall edition gives riders from all over Michigan 57 miles to test their legs ahead of Iceman. The gravel event is an absolute heartbreaker. At any Lowell race, there are 30 riders capable of winning, and like a lottery, they try their luck in countless breakaways until one finally sticks. You can be in a dozen moves, but there is always one that makes it, and you simply have to be at the right place at the right time with the perfect legs.

It’s a busy time of year, and there are a dozen other great events to take on, too. What races are you looking forward to?

 

The Out’n’Back. October 15.

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Here’s the official unofficial, unlicensed itinerary for the Out’n’Back for October 15!  Continue reading “The Out’n’Back. October 15.”

2017 Bear Claw Epic Recap: Hot, Hot Heat Brings Wins for KICKBUSH and Brockmiller

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91 degrees and dusty, the Bear Claw Epic brought the heat in 2017, and two worthy winners nabbed titles and cookies.  Continue reading “2017 Bear Claw Epic Recap: Hot, Hot Heat Brings Wins for KICKBUSH and Brockmiller”

Racing Bikes is All About Losing. Get Over It.

 

I haven’t won a bike race in six years. It’s unlikely that I’ll win one anytime soon. I train hard, (sort of) watch what I eat, and strive to be a faster bike rider in every other conceivable way. Even with all that time, money, and effort, my quest for victory remains Quixotic at best. In fact, I’m lining up at Bear Claw Epic this weekend in the Elite class and it’s almost assured that I get dead last. I’d need someone else to get a flat tire and a leg eaten off by a bear to not finish last. Seriously.

And I’m far from alone. 99% of the people at a bike race lose. And by lose, I mean get beat by one guy or gal who takes the top step of the podium. Afterall, we live in a society best summed up by a quote from a contemporary American philosopher, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” –Ricky Bobby. It’s difficult to understand why anyone would want to go pay good money to, in all likelihood, get beat.

So, why race at all? For me, it’s about the process. It’s about trying to lose a few extra pounds, take 10 seconds off a Strava segment, or keep up with another cyclist who usually kicks seven shades of shit out of me. Adding a race in there is extra motivation to get out to ride, push yourself, and set a new goal. If it was about winning, I’d undoubtedly fail. Every single race. But since it’s more about racing myself, I can be satisfied with how I’ve improved, or in a worst case, how I came up short. But that’s entirely up to me; my goals, my expectations, and my motivations. 

The key here is to not let a fear of losing keep you from racing. There’s always going to be someone faster than you. Even if you master the Expert class, moving up to Elite guarantees you get whipped at least a few times before you triumph. And if you start winning the Elite classes here in Northern Michigan, go race a WORS event and be prepared to get humbled. Instead of focusing on winning, or even podiums, focus on the work that will make you a faster rider. Not even a faster rider compared to others, but rather a faster rider compared to your past self. Fall in love with the process, not the results. It’s the best way to enjoy your riding and your racing.

So, I’ll line up this weekend, ego totally prepared to be battered and bruised. But as long as I meet my goals of feeling strong and staying motivated the whole race, I’ll be happy with how things go. And, who knows? Maybe the entire Elite field gets eaten by a bear and I end up on the podium. Now that would be pretty great. For me, at least.

Be sure to follow Wes on Strava and Instagram. Or don’t. Totally up to you. Happy trails. 

2017 Bear Claw Epic Race Preview: Speed of Light Goes South

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At the moment, the Bear Claw Epic Elite field is shaping up to be a Speed of Light showdown in Cadnasty.  Continue reading “2017 Bear Claw Epic Race Preview: Speed of Light Goes South”

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