How Many Wetsuits Do You Need?

November 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Dawn Hinz

WAIT! Am I really saying that you should have MORE than one wetsuit? … Possibly.

I have to confess that I have 3 wetsuits. Yes. Really. One for very cold water. One for regular cold water. And one for warm water. In water below 60* I wear my cold full sleeve suit with a neoprene hood, booties and gloves. In water below 68* I wear my regular full sleeve suit. In water below 78* I wear my sleeveless suit.

Let’s think about this. A wetsuit’s main purpose is to keep you warm in “cold” water; temperature below 78*F according to USAT. As an added bonus it also makes you more buoyant, improving your body position and helps you slip through the water faster than without it. 

Cold water is a relative term. What’s cold to me might be comfortable to you. Michigan gives us a large range of water temperatures throughout the year. Down right frigid to balmy.

Does that mean you should go buy the thickest full sleeve wetsuit? … Again, maybe or maybe not. You’ll want to consider how cold the water you’ll be swimming in will be and how comfortable you are in “cold” water. Also, a thick wetsuit can decrease your range of motion or could cause you to overheat.

For example; I am very cold blooded. I’m always colder than the people around me. So I lean towards a warmer or full sleeve wetsuit. Whereas some people naturally feel warmer and would overheat in a full sleeve suit but they would be comfortable in a sleeveless suit. 

I try to extend my open water season as much as possible so I swim in cold water, water below 60*, by wearing my warmest wetsuit with a neoprene hood, gloves and booties. Still I would be too warm in that wetsuit during the summer months but I want to take advantage of a wetsuit’s buoyancy so I also have a sleeveless suit for those occasions. 

Do you want to swim in as much open water as possible? Will you possibly race in a range of water temperatures? Perhaps you should consider having more than one wetsuit in your arsenal. 

Use this simple guide to help you choose the best wetsuit or wetsuits for you. Remember this guide is anecdotal and based on my experience swimming in Lake Michigan and Inland lakes.

Now is the time to buy with Aquamantri.com giving 50% off. Use code 2021BlackFriday50 until Dec 5, 2021.


Barry-Roubaix Psycho Killer – 100 Miler – 2021 Race Recap

November 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jared Dunham

Barry Roubaix is a uniquely Michigan festival of gravel that generally starts the season off. However, this year things were a little different. Due to rescheduling from COVID, we experienced the race in early October, just as the leaves began to change and Iceman prerides become a regular thing on weekends.

Barry has four distances to choose from, the 18-mile Chiller, 36-mile Thriller, 62-mile Killer, and 100-mile Psycho Killer. No matter the distance, Barry never shies away from a healthy serving of elevation on each route. However, the 100 miler has approx. 6,800ft of climbing and showcases the most remote two-track that Barry county has to offer. This was my first experience tackling the Psycho Killer, but after a year’s worth of long rides, I was confident in my abilities going into the event.

The morning of Barry had arrived, and I was indecisive on whether to wear a wind vest or only a jersey at the start line. On my warmup I opted for the jersey, additionally, I almost ran over a large raccoon. It was then 6:40AM, and the lights of about 243 riders could be seen on the streets of Hastings. If you know someone who is crazy enough to enjoy 100+ mile gravel rides, they were likely there on that October 10th morning.

While hilly, the beginning 35 miles remained tame, and were a prologue for the rest of the ride. Occasionally a hard effort was put in by riders at the front, but for the most part, a peloton of 50 or so remained together until we reached the first seasonal road. I didn’t get a chance to ride it, but I did walk through some of the portions of Two-Track and had an idea of what I was getting into.

Nearing the 35-mile mark, racers at the front of our group pushed the pace and I positioned myself in the top 10 leading into the first two-track. As predicted, we made a left onto Solomon Rd. and things went from Chiller to Psycho Killer. Everyone was riding/running up the sandy climbs and it went from a group ride to everyone for themselves at that point. A break of 5 riders occurred and I was 7th exiting this the first section of two-track. The next 10 miles or so were on and off seasonal road, and for a while I could still see the lead group off in the distance. Eventually, I caught up with Nicholas Stanko and we rode together in intervals. By intervals I mean he would get ahead on some sections, and I would catch up on others. The lead group eventually faded off into legend as we continued the ride.

Near Middleville, we were treated to 5 miles of ultra-smooth pavement, and only hit one red light while getting through town. At mile 47, Nick looked back and asked, “You think we can catch them?”. I, who was already having a hard time in his draft, replied, “I’m just going to see how long I can hang on,”. Not long after that, Tim Mitchell soloed up to us in aero position, setting a harder pace. I promptly fell off the duo, I had been pushing myself hard and knew that the last 18 miles were going to leave a mark. Looking back, there was no one as far as I could see. Consequently, I got back into a groove and rode solo. Mile 48, more seasonal road arrived, Tim and Nick were back in sight. Again, at certain portions of these roads, I would begin to catch up and in others, I would fall behind.

At mile 60, we hit the infamous Sager Rd. No, I’m not talking about the normal edition of Sager Rd. This is the Big Papa to the normal portion of Sager. More sand, more climbing, and more descending. At the end of the “road”, two huge, unavoidable mud puddles lay before me. I must thank Nick Dehaan for pointing out that you can run alongside the first puddle. I’m well-versed in drivetrain issues so I figured it was a better option to walk the first puddle and run through the second.

Returning to classic Barry gravel, I was now very much solo. At mile 65, I had to stop at the Otis Lake aid station. The plan was to bring enough water to not stop. However, one of my three water bottles shot off my bike frame on the first two-track, and the water bladder in backpack had questionable motives. By that I mean it was leaking onto my right leg the entire time. Keegan pointed out at the end of the race that it looked like I had either crashed or was having an allergic reaction (I had been drinking red Gatorade). Some of the kind volunteers topped me off with fluids and I also grabbed a few Clif Bloks shots. Exiting the aid station, Keegan Korienek and Scott Quiring caught me. We were then a trio, and with no seasonal road between us and the finish, it was full gas for the remaining 40 miles.

If I had to guess, I would say that it was about mile 70 when Benjamin Meer and Adam Hockley caught up to us. Unfortunately, not long after this, Adam had a flat rear tire and stopped for repairs, so we were then a group of four. With 30 miles to go, I was at the edge of my limits. On the turns, I had to push hard to stay with the group and when it came time to take a pull, my legs didn’t want to obey. The thought repeatedly crossed my mind that I should just let the group go and ride my own pace. However, while things seemed to be deteriorating, I affirmed that come hell or high water I would finish with the group.

With about 25 miles remaining, we found Nick Stanko, who informed us that there were 6 riders ahead. There were 5 cyclists in the group, someone would not be on the podium in a few hours. The following 20 miles were a lot more hills and as crazy as it might sound, I felt myself recovering a bit after 95 miles in the saddle.

Keegan, Scott, and I had a promise that no games would be played till the last 5 miles. We all kept to that promise.

3 miles to go: Ben made a small break on a flat section of gravel. Nick soon followed his wheel. Scott put in an effort to try and catch the pair. In the previous two miles, I felt cramps coming on and knew my legs were toast. I came around Scott to try and close the gap between us and the pair.

2 miles to go: Try as I might, I couldn’t bring them back and as we began descending the last gravel hill and onto the pavement, Scott came around me and I hopped on in his wheel. The order was then: Nick, Ben, Scott, Me, and Keegan. On pavement, we motored down a long descent to catch Nick and Ben. Scott was unable to close the gap, and the other two were just a few bike lengths ahead. I came around and Keegan was the one to finally seal the deal and close the gap. At that point we made our last right hand turn onto more pavement.

1 mile to go: I felt myself slipping from the group, someone from the Thriller rode up next to me saying, “Come on let’s get ’em big guy!”. That was all the motivation I needed.

This was it. The culmination of 104 miles of Gravel, Two-Track, Pavement, Grit, and Some Luck. We were in the home stretch. The group was silent now and the only noises besides cheering spectators were bike chains running over gears and rubber on pavement. Off in the distance, the sound of music and the announcer slowly drew closer.

??? miles to go: I was riding in the drops behind Scott, at the tail end of the group, as the countdown to the final sprint ticked away. The order of the group was Nick, Ben, Keegan, Scott, and Myself. I Can’t remember who it was that started the sprint but when the dust had finally settled, the order was: Keegan, Nick, Ben, Scott, and Myself.

Not sure how it happened, but I had taken 10th place. Maybe because Scott had crossed the starting mat before me and I had then caught up to him, but was the last one over the finish line of our group. Either way, I was absolutely floored to be able to finish the ride the group.


Catching up with Eli

November 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Elijah Garris

Hello, my name is Elijah Garris, but most everyone calls me Eli.  I’m in the 8th grade and currently attend Muir Middle School in Milford MI. In the 2020 cycling season I started to practice and race for my scholastic team Huron Valley United Racing. It was such a great time racing with my friends that I go to school with. I won the overall Middle School State Championship with 5 firsts and 1 second place. That following winter I snowboarded a lot with family and friends. My Dad set up a trainer in the basement so I could spin once in a while.

I was anxiously waiting for spring so I could get back on my bike. Early summer this year I started racing the Michigan Championship Point Series. The first race at Hanson Hills was incredibly hot, the next two were raining and miserable. I ended up racing 5 of the 7 races and won the 14 and under category overall. During this time Kellen Caldwell and his dad Dan suggested I apply for Athletic Mentors. Looking up to Kellen I was super excited to apply. Coach Terry Ritter surprised me at the Pontiac race that I would be part of the team. I ended the summer with the Ore to Shore race in Marquette MI. One of my favorite races for sure.

Once school started our MISCA race season was happening. Our team would practice 3 times a week and I would go out another time or two on my own. I started to jump in on a Tuesday night road ride with a cycling group near my house. I came out of the 5th race as Michigan Advanced Middle School Champion. But, there was one more race left at Cannonsburg. I was in a situation where if I didn’t race I would have held the title. If I raced and took 2nd to the 2nd place holder I would lose it. There was never a thought about not racing the final race. Unfortunately, I came in second that day. I was ok with the outcome because I gave everything I had that day and he wanted it just as bad as I did. I’ll be riding in the JV class next year as a Freshman.

As a team with Athletic Mentors we got a chance to race in the Barry Roubaix gravel race. We won the youth team competition with a prize of $1000. It was fast and fun. I enjoyed being part of such an amazing group of people. The team tent was busy and there was just a lot of positive energy. Can’t wait for Barry next year. I just recently raced Peak 2 Peak which was a lot of fun also. I have the Lowell gravel race coming up and have been training on the gravel. Lately I’ve been meeting up with fellow teammate Collin Snyder for a weekly group gravel ride. This is for getting ready for my first Iceman.

After Iceman I plan to spin on the trainer, ride outside if possible and snowboard with friends. I’m signed up for a bike mechanic class this fall, which I’m super excited about. I’m thankful and proud to be a part of Athletic Mentors. I’m looking forward to our team rides and coaching that is provided by our coaches. Most of all, can’t wait to roll up to the line in 2022!


Running is more than “Athletics”, it’s a Lifestyle

November 4th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Raquel Torres

Running is an excellent physical activity not only to get fit, but also to feel good, and even to meet new friends and see new places. Starting a new habit does not have to be complicated, running is one of the most practical, affordable and effective disciplines, because we simply need a pair of running shoes (in good conditions) and the desire to move, wherever you are.

For those who want to start this new discipline it is highly recommended that the first thing to do is to set a goal, look for an event or race, register and put it on your agenda or calendar.

For those who are starting from scratch, those who have no running experience or people who may have experience, but they feel very out of shape, for any reason, it is advisable to first look for a local event close by your home and a short distance like a 5K or 10K. Every distance is possible for any level, we only need enough time to train and prepare for the distance.

The goal that you set will be the main pillar from which workouts, nutrition and rest will be combined.  The goal will help you to focus on the really important things, it will be the reason to strive every day and build discipline. 

Some of the benefits of running is feeling happy.  If you are already a runner you have experienced this, no matter how you feel good or bad, after running or doing a physical activity for more than 40 minutes you will feel better, this goes beyond the so-called “Runners high”, it is the production of “happy hormones” (endorphins). 

Recent scientific studies in sport medicine now confirm that exercises like running or cycling for 40 minutes or more at 70-80% of maximum heart rate is able to significantly improve some mental and emotional disorders such as depression.  When exercising you can experience the benefits of spending time in nature and how it positively impacts humans physically, mentally and psychologically.  It helps to decrease the number of stress hormones in your body that feed anxiety and depression like Cortisol and Adrenaline.

How to start training: The Run-Walk Method is an excellent option for those who have never run and for runners to improve their times. Contrary to what many people think, this technique doesn’t mean to walk when you are “tired”, it means to take recovery walks.

You must use this technique of running / walking that best suits you, here some examples:

Experience/Fitness level: Running time:   Walk time:
Beginner   10-30 Secs    1-5 minutes
Intermediate   1-5 minutes      1-3 minutes

This technique is simple: for example, start trying to do a total of 20-40 minutes of exercise, doing 1 to 5 minutes of running + 1 to 5 minutes of walking (alternating run/walk/run/walk), after a 3-4  weeks and some progress you can slowly increase your running time while decreasing the walk time.  There are a number of apps for your phone that can be setup depending on how long your run and walk  timed are.

It is important to identify where you are and what your personal goals are, if you have any questions look for a running coach’s advice.

Setting short term goals will help you to stay motivated and long term goals to stay consistent, always take 1 or 2 days off every week and try to run/walk at least 3 times a week. 

Have a plan, be patient, enjoy the process and always remember, do your best for yourself and avoid comparing your progress or goals with others. Adding the habit of running to your life will attract many other good habits and benefits to you, your family and friends.


Lessons From the 2021 MiSCA Season

October 27th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Joel Bretzlaff

I’m a member of Athletic Mentors Junior Cycling Team.  I participated in the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association (MiSCA) is a youth-only race series that takes place in the fall, offering a variety of categories for racers in 1st-12th grade.  They focus heavily on getting more kids on bikes, but also offer extremely competitive high school racing.  This season I raced in the 9-10th grade category.  I have been racing in MiSCA since 2016, and I always look forward to this chapter of my race season.  For the MiSCA races, I race under Orange Krush Junior Race Team.

Race #1: Heritage Park – This year, the season opener took place at Heritage Park in Adrian, Michigan, on August 29th.  The course was quite tight, and cornering was the most important skill to have.  The first sprint start of the year is always the most hectic, and I rode into the fourth position as we entered the woods.  I noticed that the leader was starting to open up a gap on the next two riders in front of me, so when we broke out onto a two-track climb, I seized my opportunity and passed the second and third riders.  From here, I was able to get onto the wheel of the leader.  We held a ~10 second gap for the first two miles of the race.  Eventually, as we approached the longest climb of the course, I moved to the front and broke away from the pack.  Over the remainder of the first lap, I extended my lead, which was over thirty seconds as we crossed through the start/finish area.  Nothing changed over the second lap, where I pulled out another thirty seconds and took the win.  This race taught me how to ride during a breakaway.

Race #2: Addison Oaks – On September 12th, MiSCA traveled to Addison Oaks, a wide open, fast course with many straightaways.  I went into this race as the series leader, and I led into the woods after the final sprint.  On the first climb, I allowed someone to pass as I did not want to set the pace.  I drafted the rider in front for much of the first lap, but as we reached a pavement section, two riders behind me powered around the leader and I and pushed the pace until we re-entered the woods.  This placed me in fourth position, and I was doing everything I could to get around the two riders in front of me and get onto the leader, who was beginning to pull away.  I got around one rider, but couldn’t get around the other until the grassy start/finish area.  At this point, I was very worn out, and started to lose position as the race went on.  I ended up with a fifth place finish and learned the importance of positioning, due to the amount of energy I used just to move up a couple positions in the trail.

Race #3: Merrell Trail – One week later, we traveled to Grand Rapids to race at Merrell Trail, a race with long climbs and technical descents.  Off the start line, I noticed that my drivetrain was skipping gears, so I dialed back my pace on the long, grassy opening section.  I entered the woods in fourth position, and the leader was already pulling out a major gap on the first long climb.  We quickly caught up to the rider in front.  On a tricky corner, I slid out and nearly ran into a tree, but I got back to the leaders.  The four of us started to open up a gap, then the first rider crashed and the other two and I got around him.  Eventually, the leader started to pull away, and after some attempts, I moved into the second position and began to chase.  When we came to Sawtooth, a ridiculously technical downhill section, I completely closed the gap.  I rode the wheel of first place until we came to a long climb near the end of the lap, where I was dropped.  As I came through the start/finish area, I was informed that I was behind by ten seconds.  I worked to pull this back over the second lap, and completed this comeback on Sawtooth.  The race came down to a sprint finish, but I wasn’t able to overtake my competitor, and was second by 0.4 seconds.  I now know just how much of an advantage leading into a sprint can offer.

Race #4 Bloomer Park – With the Bloomer Park race quickly approaching, the rainfall was coming down hard.  On September 26th, it was clear that the race conditions were going to be a disaster.  The start/finish area was a complete mud pit.  Even though I struggled in the mud on the wholeshot, I led into the woods.  One rider held onto my wheel, and third place was about 10 seconds back.  When we came to Art’s Lungbuster, a four minute climbing segment early in the lap, I slid out in the mud after clipping a tree with my handlebar.  I couldn’t clip in for a few seconds due to mud on my cleats, and by that time, the third place rider had already caught up to me.  The two of us worked hard to close the gap to first, but it was clear that it was an impossible task.  As we came through for our third lap, the rider I was with overtook me.  I held his wheel for half a lap, but ended up slowing down and landing a third place finish.  After this race, I further understood the importance of riding a clean race.

Race #5: Milford Trail Time Trial – The October 10th stop of the MiSCA season was a time trial this year due to trail and field limitations.  Racers were sent in series standings order at fifteen second intervals.  I pushed hard off the start line, trying to catch up to the rider in front of me.  As the first lap went on, it was all I could do to keep them within my sights.  I pushed on the second half of the lap, and came through the start/finish area with a six second lead.  However, by this point, I was completely gassed and my pace slowed.  I knew that my race was now about holding off the third place rider.  As I broke out onto the final sprint, my teammates informed me that the race for second was close, and urged me to push it.  I sprinted with all I had, and ended up 0.3 seconds ahead of third place.  This race taught me that some days are not meant to be and that risking more positions to try and ride for a win is not always the best idea.

Race #6: Cannonsburg Ski Area State Championships – For the state championship race of the 2021 season, MiSCA selected Cannonsburg Ski Area.  This course is jam-packed with brutal climbing throughout the course.  My category was only completing one lap, so my strategy was much different going in.  Due to time restraints from camping the weekend of the race, I did not have an opportunity to warm up, but still fought my way into second position during the wholeshot.  After five to ten minutes, I was finally feeling warmed up, and the pack was thinning out behind the leader and I.  Two riders were still holding on, but one of them dropped off at one of the large climbs about twenty minutes into the race.  I was in the middle of a pack of three as we continued to ascend our way around the ski hill.  Nearing the final sprint, I almost went off the trail on the last corner, and lost about 1 second before we broke out of the woods.  The end of the race included a 200 foot grassy climb straight up the hill, and wet, tight switchbacks all the way down.  When the climb opened up, I made my move and overtook the race leader.  I pulled with everything I had, but one racer was still on my wheel at the top of the climb.  At one point during the descent as I was trying to recover for the very end of the race, I was almost overtaken, but I held onto my lead and took the final sprint.  This race taught me the value of allowing another rider to control the race and sticking to a plan.

I finished the season with a second place in the series, and I can’t wait to race Varsity next year!


Training in Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program

October 13th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Sean Siems

Hello, my name is Sean Siems. I am 13 years old. I go to St. Augustine and I’m in the 8th grade. I started doing triathlons because my dad introduced them to me when I was around 9 or 10.

In the past, training wasn’t something I gave much thought to. We always just raced. All of that changed this year!

This year I had the opportunity to join the Youth Triathlon Team at Athletic Mentors. Our goal was to train for and race the Grand Rapids Triathlon super sprint distance and Athletic Mentors private race at Gull Lake. The coaches at Athletic Mentors set up a Youth Triathlon Program for us to follow and also held group training sessions at various locations depending on which discipline we were focusing on that day. We had coaches swim, bike and run with us in order to keep us safe in the water and on the road. They also encouraged us to do our best and helped push us along.

As it turns out, training for triathlons is just as fun as racing them. I have done five triathlons. The first three were the Shermanator. The fourth one was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. The last one was the AM triathlon at Gull Lake where we raced with adults. So far I am enjoying triathlons and I hope to keep doing more in the future and eventually do an Ironman.


Training for Life from a Young Triathlete

October 11th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By Kellen Siems

Hello, my name is Kellen and I am in the 7th grade. I have done 5 triathlons and I’m on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. I play soccer, tennis, and I swim and ski.

I do triathlons because my parents want me to be active. They also help me to be more athletic, which makes me better in the other sports that I play. Not to mention, it’s also a lot of fun!

My favorite triathlon was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. There were many members of Team Athletic Mentors there both racing and cheering us on. It was a pretty big race so I was nervous. My brother and twin sister are on the team too, so that helped. If you have ever raced anything before then you know that as soon as it starts, all the nervous feelings go away. All that’s left is to focus and enjoy the race.

My goal one day is to do an Ironman and be fast. I also want to be able to do triathlons more easily. That will come with more practice. Most important though, the training involved in racing triathlons will help me lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.


Joining a Triathlon Team at 12 years old

October 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Brie Siems

Hello, my name is Brie Siems. I am 12 years old. This year I completed my first season on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. After a long delay due to the pandemic, it was nice to finally be part of the team. Although I have raced many triathlons already, this year was my first experience with a structured program geared toward racing.  As a group we trained together as well as followed a plan individually throughout the weeks leading up to our race. Our training included the usual swimming, biking and running but also some exercises to strengthen our core.  This year the Youth team raced the Grand Rapids Triathlon. We focused on the super sprint distance because we are all pretty young still. The distances were 200 yard swim, 6 mile bike and 1.5 mile run.

My 2 brothers are also on the team. The nice thing about racing with a team is that although triathlon is an individual sport, being part of a team helps us all to be our best. It is also nice to see teammates before and after the race and to cheer each other on.

I love to do sports and activities too. Some of the sports I did this year are soccer, tennis, swimming, skiing/snowboarding and cross country. I have been playing piano for 6 years and love it!

I started doing triathlons because my parents wanted me to become an athlete. My dad also does triathlons so I guess it was only natural. My dad actually said that when my brothers and I are 18, he would be watching us do an Ironman triathlon. I joined the triathlon group here at Athletic Mentors to help myself become a better athlete. Currently, I go to school at St. Augustine Cathedral School. I am doing this strength and conditioning program to help myself become strong and better at running. I am looking forward to becoming a better athlete


Taking Triathlon Off Road

September 30th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Kathy Braginton

Are you a triathlete looking to spice up your triathlon race?  Or, maybe you are a cyclist with a gravel/mountain bike thinking about trying a triathlon?  With their latest event that made its debut this past weekend, the race directors of GR Tri and MiTi have found the solution: The Dirty Mitten.  It was composed of a swim, gravel bike and trail run that spanned over the grounds of the YMCA’s Camp Manitou-Lin in Middleville, Michigan.  The Dirty Mitten featured both sprint and olympic distances, also known as the Shorty and the Long One.  You don’t like to swim or run?  No problem!  This race also offered Duathlon (run/bike/run), Aquabike (swim/bike), and Relay options!  

The swim distances were advertised as a 750m swim for the Shorty and a 1500m swim for the Long One.  The placement of buoys for these race directors at their events this year has turned into a amusing comedy of mishaps, so why would The Dirty Mitten be any different? That being said, the Shorty swim was anywhere from 600 – 700 yards.  (There is some question as to how straight the author of this blog really swam.)  The Long One was 2 loops of the Shorty course.  I’ve heard reports that it was approximately 1100 yards.  With the water temp at 68 degrees and the air temp in the 50’s, there were no complaints on the swim distances being a tad short for both races.  As with most triathlons now, the swim start was a “time-trial start” with athletes entering the water 2 at a time every 5 seconds.

The bike course for the Shorty was a 14 mile route out and back with about 4 miles of paved roads and the rest gravel.  The gravel portion was hard packed and rolling with 450 ft of elevation according to my Garmin.  The bike course for the Long One was another story.  If you are familiar with Barry Roubaix, all I have to say is “The Wall”, “Graveyard Climb”, and “Sager” and you’ve got the idea.  It was 32 miles and 1900 feet of climbing.  I’m told it even included an added feature that required you to climb off your bike and hop over a tree.

As a competitor in the Shorty distance, I found the run to be the most challenging leg of the race.  It was a mix of trail, gravel and field with a 170ish feet of elevation gain.  The field consisted of tall grass that had been driven enough to create a path.  The trail portion was partial horse trail which meant some uneven terrain and the occasional “road apple”.  I ran in my regular running shoes, but I wished I’d owned a pair of trail shoes for this event.  The Shorty duathletes and the Long Ones ran 2 laps of the Shorty course.  If you were doing the Long One duathlon, that made 3 laps total!  Yikes!  The distances were approximate, but again, there were no complaints with it being a tad short.

With the laid back atmosphere of this race, it was especially fun to participate.  Transition never truly “closed”.  This was especially appreciated by those doing the Shorty with an hour wait from the start of the Long One until the start of the Shorty.  It allowed us to keep our warmer clothes on for as long as possible.  Plus, we could cheer from transition for all the Long Ones during their T1.  As a seasoned triathlete, I found the wide array of bikes in transition rather amusing.  There truly were all shapes and sizes of bikes in attendance and suitable for this race.  This was a USAT sanctioned race, but there were no officials (that I saw) at the race site or out on the course.  There was some question as to whether or not drafting was allowed on the bike.  Nowhere in the athlete guide could I find anything that said this was NOT a draft legal race.  I have to admit I may have taken advantage of a wheel or 2.  

With this race being a sell out in its inagural year, you won’t want to delay when registration opens for 2022!  It was a great opportunity to conclude the multisport season on a high note!

*Photo credits to Team Stellafly and Terry Hutchins


Racing and Riding as Part of a Team

September 29th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jonathan Meyer

My name is Jonathan Meyer, and I am going into my junior year of high school and have just joined Team Athletic Mentors. Prior to this, the only team I raced with was my Lake Orion High School team, which is only really in effect during the fall season when the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association mountain bike race series takes place. Outside of this time, there is not much support or action from the high school team, so for the most part I was alone, outside of my parents. That being said, I still enjoy being a part of my MISCA team very much.

Shortly after starting my sophomore year, a member of Team Athletic Mentors that I raced with during the school season recommended that I apply to the team. I thought, “Sure why not? It would be nice to be part of a team for the rest of the year other than the fall.” After that I filled out and submitted an application, and then had an interview for the team with Mr. Terry Ritter. After that I attended the team zoom meeting and then my first race as part of the team!

The first race I did was the Dirty Thirty gravel race, and despite being a brand-new member of the team, everybody was really friendly and talked to me before, during, and after the race. It was really cool!

Then, after that, I participated in my first team event other than a race, which was a youth development team ride beginning at Kensington Metropark and riding to Island Lake Recreation Area. During this ride I got to ride with and get to know many of the other juniors on the team better, and it was really fun! Usually in the spring and summer I have to do all of my rides alone. But now I’m on a team with riders that are similar speeds and even faster than I am! It’s much more fun and exciting than riding alone.

I have participated in ten races this year as part of Team Athletic Mentors, but one of these stands out above the others: The Cowpie Classic gravel race. I had been looking forward to this race for most of the preceding month, and when the day came, I felt well prepared and ready to race! During the race director’s talk before the start, they informed us that there were heavy storms in the area the night before, and racers should watch out for fallen branches and debris on the road. With that in mind, the race started and I managed to stay with the lead group all the way going into a section through a farm and the woods where I dropped my chain after hitting a big hole at the bottom of a downhill. Despite that, I caught back up to the front of the race besides a small breakaway that went up the road.

Throughout the race, all the way up to about mile 30, we kept seeing small pieces of tree or branches on the side of the road. At mile 30, I was in a group of about 20 other racers including Mr. Ritter, Ross DiFalco and Jared Dunham. The group crested a hill and started going down a large descent at about 25 mph. This road was covered in branches and leaves, and right in front of me, as I would learn in about 3 and a half seconds, there was a very big log in the middle of the road. It was about five inches in diameter. Before I knew what was happening, I had hit the log and had hit the ground and slid about ten feet from where I originally impacted. Mr. Ritter said that after I hit the log there was a loud cracking noise, which I later learned was my rim breaking. After I crashed, Mr. Ritter, Jared, and Ross had all stopped to see if I was okay. Mr. Ritter waited with me until my dad got there to call for help, and Ross waited with me all the way until we walked to an intersection where I could be picked up by a family friend. The support I received in the race before the crash, after the crash, after the race, and resolving the complications that occurred as a result of the crash was incredible. I am very grateful for the help of all my teammates and Team Athletic Mentors as a whole to get me and my bike patched up again after my crash.

Team Athletic Mentors has also provided me with the resources and coaching to improve my riding and help achieve my goals in the sport. Recently, I have started learning and training with Mr. Ritter as my coach and I am very excited to see where that takes me.

In summary, from my time as a member of Team Athletic Mentors I have learned that with your riding and your racing, teammates first and foremost can provide vital support and encouragement, and also add an extra element of fun and enjoyment to your time on a bike, or anywhere else for that matter.



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