Elite U25 Cycling

Yin and Yang

June 10th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Hunter Post

I am a Multi-Sport athlete and High School student.  I compete in alpine ski racing, and cycling. Alpine ski racing consists of Slalom, Giant Slalom and Super G.  I have raced gravel and mountain bike, and plan to add road racing this season. People find it hard to believe that a fall and winter sport can take up an entire year. My ski season starts in November, and continues until April. I start cycling in April and ride until November with about 2 weeks off in between the seasons. These two very different sports take up most of my  time and energy, I am so grateful for where they’ve brought me.

The social aspect of each sport is important to me. I have met so many new friends that have similar interests and have fun both training and racing with them. In skiing, my coaches emphasize a balance between having fun on the hill and training; the same applies in cycling, too. Having friends to ski or bike with for fun helps me to do that. Some of my closest friends that I train with are also my competitors which pushes us to work harder and gives us the opportunity to learn from each other. In each sport I am part of multiple teams, from my high school ski and mountain bike teams to competitive teams outside of school. I look forward to these practices because of the team atmosphere and to see my friends.

On the teams I belong to, there are athletes with varying skill levels and passion for racing. Belonging to these teams gives me a chance to practice more, work with more rigorous coaches and gain experience. I hope to pursue both of my sports at the collegiate level in two years and hope that this will help my chances. In ski racing, we train for the different disciplines separately. For example, setting a slalom course only helps the athletes get ready for a slalom race. There are a few fundamentals including staying on your feet, finding good balance and knowing when to initiate a turn, but the course is set for only slalom or giant slalom, never for both. In cycling there is more crossover on the training. Mountain bike training helps in gravel races. Handling skills for the trail translate into easier passing in sketchier portions. Training for endurance on my road bike correlates into mountain bike races by helping me to manage my breathing and know how to pace myself.

YIN

 

For me, skiing and cycling are like Yin and Yang because my life would not be complete without either.

Yin

YANG

It helps me to stay focused on one sport at a time, always looking forward to the next season and a chance to start over. Each season has triumphs and defeats that I learn from. It is a cause for celebration when races go well, but honestly I learn more when they don’t go as I hoped. A ski race allows very little room for error. The smallest mistake can change an entire run and two runs are needed to complete a race. Results are often determined by hundredths of a second, so everything has to go right to achieve the results you are looking for. In a mountain bike race, you have more room for error, including falling or mechanical issues. You can overcome the problems you might face in a bike race since you have at least an hour if you face a setback.

By the time one season is coming to an end, I am more than ready for the next to start. I logged 5000 cycling miles in 2020 and couldn’t wait to get on snow.  When my last ski race ended on March 21 of this year, I eagerly packed up my winter gear and waited not very patiently to get on my bike. People always ask me which I like better, and I tell them that I can’t answer that yet and don’t have to choose. Each have different workouts, muscle groups, and race atmosphere. I have found, however, that I am not alone. There are a few of us that both ski and bike race. They go together well, just like yin and yang. I am grateful that I found each of my sports. I hope to continue skiing and biking for the rest of my life.

 


“Best Kept Secret” Ultra-Gravel Ride in Michigan

May 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Jared Dunham

The KRanza 170, is the “best kept secret” ultra-gravel ride in mid-Michigan. Notorious for it’s sand, last year’s ride was given the nickname of “The Sandza”, on account of the course primarily being built from sandy two-track. To give some context, the fastest time from last year’s course was a spicy 12:57:55, laid out by Paul Low. Rob Richardson went as far as to name his Strava ride, “I’d rather cut off my legs and eat them before riding that course again!”. Roy Kranz, the event organizer, promised less sand this year and he delivered with the new and improved 2021 course.

The original course was two 85 mile laps which were done on the eastern portion of the route, before crossing over near Evart. This year however, we continued farther west and were treated with less sand but an added 1,500 ft of elevation. With more hard packed gravel and less sand, my tire choice was a 29×2.1” MTB tire on the front and a 700x42c gravel tire on the back. In addition to this, we also got some rain for two days prior to the event so the sand was reduced even more. One last note, while some of us were riding 170 miles, there was also the option to complete one lap of the original 85 mile loop.

It was 32 degrees at the start, or 28 by the time you factored in the wind. So I layered up with a normal jersey, thermal long-sleeved jersey, and wind vest. However, by the time you added in the sun and adrenaline, three layers was probably more than what was needed. With how long the ride was going to be, I assumed we would have an easy rollout and somewhere along those 170 miles we’d start racing, that was not the case today. The start of the ride was just as hard as any gravel race I’d done, maybe even more intense. David Messing wasn’t leaving anything to chance as he, Ben Kalis, and a few riders from the 85 mile race formed a group and began setting a hot pace from the start. Realizing the race was getting away from us, I tried to put in a good effort and bridge the gap but wasn’t willing to blow up early in the ride.

A group of five chasers formed to catch the lead group featuring: John Whipple, Jon Delboy, two 85 mile riders, and myself. The rain from the previous days had left the roads muddy, some sections had standing water that we were riding through. Running a 2.1 MTB tire in the front of my rig served me well in these areas and I was able to confidently charge into sloppy sections of the roads. In 8 miles we hit the first section of two-track and I took a pull through the road, having ridden this before. Not too long after this point, we were descending a hill and I was completely sprayed with mud from the wheel ahead of me, thinking that we had a very long day in the saddle at this rate. Somewhere within 13 miles, Ben was off his bike and on the side of the road. He hopped back on and joined our group, forming a peloton of 6. At 15 miles, I realized that my engine was probably still running too hot and I needed to throw some coolant in there or we were about to have a premature explosion at the beginning of a 170 mile race. I fell off the group and settled into a controllable pace in zone 2. Not too long after, I caught up with Jon who had left the group for the same reasons. We joined forces and entered the added 85 mile portion to the original 85 mile loop.

The total elevation from this ride was 6,788 ft, much of that began just after passing Evart at mile 30 and ended at mile 100 as we rejoin the original 85 mile loop. Upon passing Evart, we hit some long, rolling, hill climbs and were eventually rewarded with a little over 10 miles of the paved “White Pine Trail”. Until mile 70 me and Jon took turns hammering out the paved section of this course. Nearing the end of the white pine trail I began to feel myself slipping a little, my heartrate compared to my wattage was rising and I could feel the ride becoming harder than it already was. I was confident that I could still finish the ride but was worried that I’d have to slow the pace. At mile 72 we hit 170th Ave, “The Miracle Mile”. Having lived near this area all my life, I knew fully well what this seasonal road was capable of. When it has been dry for several days, the road is a crusty, clay, path of tire marks and tractor tracks. However, when wet, the road is an entirely different experience….

Somehow Jon and I were able to ride about 75% of the mile upright and on our bikes. There were a few moments of slip and slide, but we cleared most of it. Near the end though, the mud got so thick that it was getting stuck in my front fork and shedding off the top of my front tire. The bike quickly packed on the pounds and it was hard to even push it through this peanut butter. Afterwards, we spent a solid 1 5min or more cleaning off bikes and reviving drivetrains. Luckily, Jon had taken some of the spare chain lube that Roy was offering at the start. That saved both of our rides and gears on that day. We agreed that it probably would’ve been a better option to carry our bikes and walk. Not long after starting to ride again I realized that I couldn’t shift out of my small chainring. We stopped and I emptied the remaining water in my backpack water bladder onto the front derailleur. Jon and I cleaned it off using some sticks and found a pebble lodged between the mechanism and the frame. Afterwards, my drivetrain was arguing with me, but I was able to shift into the big ring again. We then began a 7 ½ mile rolling climb to the top of Grove Hill, which depending on who you ask, is either the highest or second highest point in the Lower Peninsula. Upon reaching the top, we are rewarded with a soulful descent to the halfway point at the Dighton general store. Jon grabbed some more water and supplies, and I swapped out my empty water bladder in my backpack for the 2 Liter that was in the bottom of my frame bag. We were then told that 3rd place was probably 30 mins ahead of us at this point, which was about five and a half hours in.

Continuing the ride, I still felt like I was on the back foot and began tapping into some of my gels and more carb rich foods. This was about the portion of a long ride where you reach a low and begin to question how you are going to finish the thing. Eventually I got the second wind I was looking for and came back to life in a few miles. This second wind was quickly followed by the portion of a long ride where you get the euphoric feeling that you can complete the thing. At 107 miles, there had been a serious accident, and someone was being airlifted to a hospital via helicopter. We were not getting through and one of the guys blocking the road said that we had a 20 minute or more wait on the helicopter. The helicopter did eventually land and we spent about 15 minutes scrolling through google maps to get a reroute. The main issue was that we needed to get over the Muskegon River and there were not many options to do that other than take 66 (the road we needed to follow). Our next best bet was to head northeast for a bit and jump onto M115. After some contemplation we decided to go ahead and take the reroute. Motoring through headwind on 115 we made a left at the “Bucksnort Saloon” and were finally back on track. Upon reentering the portion of the course which was the original 85 mile loop, the nostalgia of last year came flooding back to me. We reached the small town of Temple and crossed M61 to enter Strawberry Rd. With the name of “Soulpit”, this four-mile portion of the course is arguably the sandiest. On a bad day your bike will only sink in the sand unless you brought some mountain bike tires. However, we were fortunate enough to have the road well packed down and got through without too much issue.

The next 8 miles was flat gravel till we got to the Leota gas station at mile 134 and took a break. I grabbed a few fig bars and some cheese and crackers to take with me. We ate some gas station pizza with fingers crossed that it wasn’t “from last week” and I downed a Dr.Pepper. Refueled by gas station nutrition, we got back on the road with only 36 miles left. At 140 miles, we hit some rolling hills before the last portion of two-track. This last three-mile section is the primo two-track of the KRanza. A good chunk of it is descent and it’s technical enough that you can make a good case for coasting through some sections. At one point both our rear tires nearly washed out on the edge of a huge mud puddle. Two side-by-sides passed us not long after, and we soon passed them when a truck being pulled from the mud was blocking the road. The remaining 27 miles were mostly rolling hills and felt like a cooldown compared to the first 27. The last portion of the course is through some open farmland which can have some brutal headwind. However, we were spared form the wind and in return got a calm conclusion to the ride. Sort of, there was still a sprint. Not one of the sprinting types, I tried to make an attack on one of the last climbs. However, Jon followed my move easily and we rode together for the last mile.

Making a right onto Clare Ave…

Left onto Hatton Rd….

and Sprint!

Jon takes the sprint.

In total, we finished the ride in 11 hours and 22 minutes. Considering everything that happened along the way, I’d say that’s a pretty solid time. I took 5th, Jon Delroy 4th, John Whipple 3rd (10:48:12), David Messing 2nd (10:18:39), and Ben Kalis 1st with a fiery (9:46:23).

I need to thank Roy Kranz for hosting the KRanza for 6 years, this was my second time completing one of the 170 routes and I feel they present a unique challenge you don’t see at the average gravel ride. With 65 people registered between the 85 and 170 mile race in 2021, I can’t wait to see how the ride changes and evolves as time goes on!

Till next year!

You can find my ride here, the 2021 KRanza route can be found here, and for more information please go here.

Other stuff that happened on the ride

  • Someone flagged us down to say their dog was missing
  • A goose got mad at me (thankfully I was on a bike)
  • A chicken ran out in front of Jon and almost learned why not to cross the road
  • At one point an entire chain was lying in the road

A teen’s prospective: Accidents happen and Goals change

May 28th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Hunter Post

As a teenager in my third season in 2019, I decided that I wanted to start training more in order to improve. Even though I still had school during the day, I tried to ride every evening to get my miles up. My goal for the season was to win overall in the MiSCA JV category.   Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association (MiSCA) is focused on the coordination of youth mountain biking teams and races throughout Michigan for elementary, middle, and high school-aged students.

About a week after school got out, I went up to Michigan Tech to participate in a mountain biking camp. During the camp, we rode the Tech trails, Copper Harbor, and the Adventure Mine. Doing this camp drastically improved my handling skills and stamina. After the camp, I felt connected to my bike and unafraid to ride anything. I was grateful that I had the opportunity to do this camp, and I felt ready for the upcoming races.

Over the summer, I raced in several MMBA races, including Fort Custer, Hanson Hills, Island Lake, Pontiac Lake, Sweat Shaker, Big M, and Glacial Hills. I love doing these races because I feel that they give me a head start preparing for the MiSCA races since they are longer and more challenging. In September, I completed my first century ever. I rode my mountain bike and did Milford trail, Highland, Island Lake, Proud Lake, and Hickory Glen. I was really excited to ride that many miles, but I underestimated how hard it would be to keep pushing. I felt that completing this ride made me a better rider and showed me what hard work really is. Around this time, the MiSCA races finally kicked off. 

My MiSCA race season did not go as expected. I had a good first race at Addison Oaks, coming in second.  My second race did not go as I planned, and ended my season. During the second MiSCA race at Fort Custer, I fell and broke three of my fingers. I was devastated that I would not be able to finish my season or complete my goal of winning the series. I was in a cast for around a month, and during that time I could only ride my trainer. Riding my trainer was not a fun experience, since it wasn’t a smart trainer and I couldn’t interact with anyone. I lacked motivation, but I did my best to put on some miles. During this time, I set a new goal to do my best at Iceman. Once I had my cast off, I had to wear a splint for an additional month. I was not supposed to ride until I was fully healed, but I started riding again in order to prepare for Iceman. 

Preparing for Iceman was very tough, I was getting ready for ski season to start, and I had to try to make up for a month’s worth of riding.  It was difficult to keep riding even though I knew that riding more would help me perform better at Iceman. I was ready for bike season to end and ski season to start. The weekend before I was cleared to start riding again, I did my second century.  I just hoped that all of the training that I had done earlier in the season would carry me to a successful race.

Racing Iceman was a very interesting experience. It was my longest race, and I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be after the injury. I also did not bring any food or enough water. In the end, I finished fourth in my age group, and I now know that to sustain a good pace, I need more water and food. I was slightly disappointed with my performance, I felt like if I hadn’t had my injury I could have done much better.

At the end of my third season, I learned that I have to train as hard as I can, while I have the opportunity, in case I am not able to ride. I need to make the most of the time I have to train, because life is full of surprises and I don’t want to be unprepared. I also learned that goals can always be changed, if I am unable to fulfill my goal, I can always set a new one and work for it. Goals are an amazing way to motivate me to be my best, but I need to remember that they can always change.


The Sport of Stair Racing

May 5th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ross DiFalco

To start things off, I am no runner. I have tried my hand at running in the past and it usually ends in injury. Like many of you out there, your friends include endurance athletes. These people, just like most friends, tend to try and convince you to do something stupid from time to time. Racing up buildings is not something I normally choose to do for “fun”! We started this adventure off with some good old fashioned peer pressure.

First off, let’s talk about stair racing. This is a sport (I had no idea it existed) that involves running up sky scrapers and other venues with long staircases. Like other endurance sports, most events offer different length races. The race I participated in had two distances, a single ascent and a power hour. The single time is definitely a sprint. The building is a 28 story structure in Southfield, MI so a single effort is hard, but not crazy. Things get interesting when you contemplate the power hour. The way this race works is that you try and run up the building as many times as you can in an hour. The catch is that you are only timed on your way up and you ride the elevator on the way down. I didn’t fully understand this until afterwards. This piece of information is critical if you want to be competitive. It’s a balancing act of conserving energy between climbs, and not wasting the hour.

So let’s talk about how I got in this situation in the first place. I work with a great guy named David Garcia. David runs a weight loss blog called www.keepitupdavid.com and he is super into stair racing. David had the terrible great idea to make it a work event and get the group I am on to participate. David held a few stair specific workouts to teach us the best technique and to help us prepare. The best tips were to double step (skip a stair with each step) and to use the hand rail when you are exhausted. Come race day, most people opted for the one climb, doing the power hour was completely my fault. Also, considering this was a work event, I had to wear a work t-shirt so I represented Athletic Mentors by wearing one of our hats.

When the race started I learned quickly that stairs are not forgiving to pacing flaws. My heartrate quickly went above 170bpm and I started breathing hard. For those of you that don’t know me, I am a very competitive person and will never enter a race purely to finish. To avoid congestion in the stairwells, racers start about 10 seconds after one another. This means you can hear the person ahead and it makes you chase. Chasing is not what you want to be doing in the beginning. When I reached the top for the first time I had passed numerous people but I also knew this level of exertion wasn’t sustainable. I hopped in an elevator and collapsed to the floor to get 30 seconds of rest. For the next 9 ascents I was able to keep myself more or less together. My heart rate was sky high each time and I longed for the elevator rides. The eleventh time entering the the stairwell, I see the guy in first place. In my head, I am wondering why he is just standing at the bottom chatting with the race organizer. It’s time to make my move and go! I charge as hard as I can up the stairwell and hear him follow after me. I am able to keep him from catching me about half way up the building. By the time he catches me, I am absolutely destroyed and he knows it. We make eye contact as he passes and we both know it’s over. I am not ready to give up so I dig in and go with everything I have. I figured that if I started after him, I might be able to win on time. Cresting the top step was bitter sweet, I took a deep breath and up comes my gels and water. Not the way I wanted to finish this race but I gave it my all.

After the race you realize the real mistakes that were made! Lots of stairs without training equal very painful knees. Overall, The Gift of Adoption Stair Race is a race with a great cause. It’s fun to push your boundaries and try new things. Best of all, it was with some great people. I may be done with stair racing but you should get out and give it a try! I was able to come in 2nd or 3rd place? They gave me 2nd but  the timing was weird and it says 3rd online so who knows where I placed. Two of my co-workers also were able to do very well.  If I were to sum up this experience, I would say this:  “Stair racing hurts and it hurts real bad!”


First Time using Electronic Shifting on my MTB

November 7th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By:   Todd Anthes

This review is for the uninitiated. It is not an in-depth review of the product.  It is a scant overview of someone using electronic shifting for the first time.

It was time to replace my SRAM Eagle cassette (ouch), and in doing so, I was one of the first to purchase SRAM’s XX1 Eagle AXS Upgrade Kit. This is not the entire gruppo, simply the rear derailleur, shifter, battery, and battery charger.  When SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS was released you could only purchase the entire gruppo.  

I was neither in the market, nor planning on switching to electronic, but nevertheless I decided to give it a go.

Electronic shifting has been touted as a game changer.  However, I was not convinced. The thought of having a battery and relying on electronic means to shift off-road on a mountain bike seemed risky.  I don’t know that I am past that issue (although no issues yet, including the 48 mile “Hard Rock” Ore to Shore” and a few other races).

But what I can tell you is that electronic shifting is everything the proponents have suggested it is.  A perfect shift, every damn time. Nothing better than that “clunk” of a shift that is perfectly timed, especially in a race setting

The shifter is somewhat finicky.  You can’t rest your thumb on trigger like a regular shifter. If you do you will initiate a shift.  And if you hold your thumb on the shifter it runs through the gears without stopping. You really need to learn to rest your thumb on the bar and only touch the shifter when you want to initiate a shift.   I often bump the shifter when I am off the bike, which is somewhat annoying when you move the bike or start to peddle, and the bike is not in the proper gear.

Within a few weeks I purchased a backup battery.  A battery is supposed to get you 620 miles, but I rarely look at the lights on the derailleur to see if it is “red,” meaning a charge is necessary. Plus, if for some reason the battery de-chargers (e.g., cold, water, etc.).  I want to have a back-up as you can’t shift manually.

I have heard stories, but it might be an urban myth, that if you transport your bike on a rack or in the back of your truck that it might initiate shifts and prematurely drain the battery.  I have not witnessed this, but I am concerned that in the colder seasons that the battery life may be affected.

All in all, I haven’t experienced any issues with the unit. I am somewhat mystified as to how the shifting stays true all the time, but I suppose without a cable to stretch that is one less variable to control.


Yankee Springs Mountain Bike Kid’s Race – Let’s Go!

April 4th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Amy Kimber

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Yankee Springs Time Trial on Saturday, April 27th. This is the longest running mountain bike race in the state of Michigan, beating Iceman by about 7 months.

This is an awesome event for all ages! Whatever your ability, we have something for you, and it’s free for our young racers to compete!  Make it a family event!

Athletic Mentors is proud to be running the Kids Race and Team Members will be there to support and motivate the young riders.   This event has been known to attract around 80-100 kids ages 2-12 years old (we will let older kids race too).   These races are  free, but make sure to sign up the day of the race.

Strider racers will have their own grass loop, it includes a small uphill and some big pine trees to navigate around.  There is plenty of viewing for family and friends.

Our youngest pedalers will have a challenging loop with a combination of single track and a grassy field, it’s about a ½ mile in length. The older kids will choose between one or two laps on the famous 2 mile Yankee loop known to the locals as the “warm-up loop.”  It’s 100% single track. The course offers rocks, roots, and some challenging sand pits for kids to navigate.

Come out and enjoy the day to expose your kids to the sport of mountain biking and trail riding at 8833 Twin Creek Dr, Middleville, MI.  We will have plenty of volunteers to monitor and supervise your kids during the race.  All the kid racers will receive an award!

Along with being a fun event, all proceeds go directly towards maintaining and building the many wonderful trails right here in Western Michigan.

The race schedule is listed below or visit http://yankeespringstt.org/race-day/ for more details.

Strider Race – 11:30
The Striders (bikes without pedals) will race multiple loops on a grass loop with plenty of opportunity for families and friends to cheer. This race will last roughly 15 minutes.

Beginner Race –  12:00
The beginner race will be 1/2 mile long and will consist of a mixture of single track and double track.  Beginner racers should feel comfortable riding on trail and uneven terrain.

Intermediate Race – 12:30 
The intermediate race will be 2 miles long and is mostly single track.  Intermediate racers should have the endurance to race 2 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain.  The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots.

Expert Race – 12:30
The expert race will be 4 miles long and is mostly single track. Expert racers should have the endurance to race 4 miles and the ability to handle single track on uneven terrain. The single track is mostly hard packed dirt but does have some sandy spots with a few rocks and roots.


Legacy of a Cycling Family

September 25th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

By Ross Williams 

Cycling/bike racing is a sport that provides a diverse variety of opportunity and experiences. Travel, the unique local attractions, sights and culinary experiences of the bike race scene and comradery with like -minded people are just a few of those offered. I’ve done plenty and experienced much on my way through the circuit. However, cycling is not something I just stumbled on and decided to pursue on my own. You see, I come from a cycling family.

Imagine this, you are a middle-class family from Mid Michigan, planning a weekend get -away. You team up with your neighborhood friends and decide on a trip of camping and biking in Northern Michigan. Would you pedal your 1960, 3-speed Schwinn through the hills of Leelanau County, or out and back Old Mission Peninsula? My grandparents did and they lived and laughed to tell us about it. I have the legacy of biking in my family.

That same 1960 3-Speed Schwinn Traveler that rode through the hills of Leelanau, rode my mom to kindergarten. That bike was well cared for and preserved by my grandpa and my mom rides it to this day. Legacy.

It was during a recent return trip from St. Louis, MO, and the Gateway Cup that memories of great times biking as a family came to me. You see, there is a lot of car travel involved in bike racing, a LOT. It affords ample time for reflection and goal setting. Often, driving through certain landscapes or viewing landmarks will jog the memory of similar sights. This trip, it was a long drive through the corn fields of Southern Illinois that reminded me of another trip along roads lined with corn fields.

My brother had been able to travel from Tennessee to St. Louis to watch me race and catch up. It was a good time. This probably caused me to reminisce about other things we have done together, especially as kids. I remembered, with a chuckle, our very first road bike ride together. I was eleven years old, my brother thirteen and my Grandpa was still in his prime. I was able to use Grandpa’s road bike, a 1990’s, ten speed Univega. We had done plenty of riding about town with Grandpa, but this was a much bigger deal.

Our plan was to get up and out early in the morning, head out from Grandpa’s home and ride north 40 miles to the family cabin. Our preparation for this long ride? Well, this was prior to my knowledge of riding nutrition and hydration. We weren’t up on the latest sport drinks or gu packets needed for a 40 mile ride. We did however, set out with plenty of water and planned feed stops along the way. The first stop was 10 miles up the road at a local, rural diner. We carbed up with a large stack of pancakes, enough to fuel us through a long, windy stretch of farm land. Twenty miles to go until our next feed stop. This one happened to be at Grandpa’s buddy Bob’s place. Bob was an avid weekend triathlete. He knew a bit about the best fuel for our bodies, so this stop we filled up on Gatorade and bananas. After we caught our breath and visited with Bob, we saddled up and headed off for the last leg of our ride. Ten more miles to go until our destination. The mood was a bid more subdued those last ten miles. My brother and I were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into and Grandpa was good-heartedly goading us along the way. “Ya doin’ okay back there sweet peas?” Or, his famous reverse psychology routine, “if we stop at that house up ahead, I’ll bet they will let us use their phone and you could call Grandma to come get you.” Seriously! This guy never let up! All in love though, he would have never pushed us harder than he knew we could go. He also knew how those remarks would cause us to be even more determined to push on. And push on we did. We arrived at the cabin with plenty of day light left. Our recovery drink? The same that I use today: an ice cold Coke.

Cycling families tend to stay connected. I got another chance to catching with more of mine at the Detroit Cycling Championships. Which was another, not quite as long as the previous weekend’s, car ride away.


Detroit Cycling Championship Team Recap

September 16th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Terry Ritter

September 9th saw big time bicycle racing return to the Detroit area. The Detroit Athletic Club put on the inaugural Detroit Cycling Championship. This event had a large purse ($45K!), and drew both amateur and pro teams from around the Midwest region and our friends to the east, Canada.

The course was interesting as well, though rather challenging. Three of the main roads used ran the perimeter of Comerica Park, where the Tigers play Major League baseball. Between corners #2 and #3 was a pretty good downhill that generated speeds in excess of 30 mph. From here there was a short section between turns #4 and #5, then #5 and #6, and back onto the long, slight uphill straight. And, being inner streets of a major city, the patched pavement and utility covers were plentiful, with the worst examples of the former on the course’s fast decent. Add a quality prize list and the accomplished riders that show for such a draw, and you’ve got a technical race that was fast and strung out from the gun. Having frequent primes only ramped things up more.  Moving up and maintaining position was a challenge, especially since the opportunity to transit through the field of riders was muted by the speed, and dive-bombing corners was a common occurrence.

The ample purse meant a lot of new riders, and opportunities to have different race classes combined compared to the normal Michigan scene. This meant not only grouped category 3s and 4s races, but category 2s and 3s as well. There was also a full masters class. Ultimately, this left the racers on Team Athletic Mentors the opportunity to not only get a couple of events in, but to race with each other when we normally don’t get that chance.

Toeing the line in the combined Cat. 2/3 race was Terry Ritter, Rich Landgraff, Luke Cavender, Collin Snyder, Ross Williams, and Bobby Munro. Like all the races, this one was fast. Collin won a prime early on, then took a flyer to try to get away with three laps to go. However, there was too much horsepower for anything but a sprint finish.

Ross and Bobby were active in their Cat. 3 only race, with Ross attacking for a prime and then Bobby countering the next lap to try to get away. Great to see some tactical racing from our up-and-coming racers.

The Masters race was all three categories (35+, 45+, 55+), and it made for a large field but interesting dynamic. It wasn’t slow by any means (the 35+ group assured that), and there was a national champion kit in the mix as well. Richard, Peter O’Brien, and Terry doubled up (Peter was in the Cat. 3 Masters race earlier), with Jonathan Morgan joining the crew.

Elaine was our sole female Team Athletic Mentor rider and competed in the Cat. 3/4 race, as well as the Cat. P/1/2/3 race. Like the other races, the group was rarely grouped together, and the later race was especially fast. There were a few teams that were recognizable from the National Criterium Championship race earlier in the summer.  With this being Elaine’s first year of serious road racing (not to mention criteriums), she did very well and represented the team impressively.

The final event of the day was the Pro/1/2, slated for 80 mins. A lot of big regional teams were there and it was super fast. Dan Yankus, Collin, Peter Ehmann and Jonathan started. Many riders didn’t finish due to the pace. Eventually, a group of 5 got away, including two Bissell Pro riders, that lapped the field. Then, with about 10 laps to go, there was a crash that left a few riders in need of medical attention and the race was halted, only to restart after the break with a fast conclusion. With a $200 prime on the second to last lap, the pace was high…until the group passed the first corner as the last lap bell was ringing. Bissell slowed a bit around corner #2, with Daniel taking advantage and shooting up near the front on the outside. Unfortunately, a number of riders dive bombed the inside corner, pushing Daniel and the Bissell train towards the outside and into the barriers, causing a crash. Fortunately, no one was hurt too badly and the race finished on that lap. Collin came home with 30th on the evening.

Not getting enough racing for the weekend, Bobby, Daniel, Collin, Terry and Ross headed to Uncle John’s 56 mile gravel race north of Lansing on Sunday. Glen Dik joined the mix. The team was active early, with Daniel finishing fourth out of the small break that got away from the rest of the field. Collin got 6th overall and Terry came in 13th, and 3rd in the 47-51 age group. Elaine and JoAnn Cranson competed in the women’s 24 mile race as well.

There are rumors that next season the Detroit Criterium Championship will be earlier in the season and hopefully on the national cycling calendar. With the positive support and great organization of this year’s inaugural event, there’s little doubt this can grow bigger and better, showcasing the renewal of our great city.


Four Tips to Safer Road Racing

August 11th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Bobby Munro

Road bike racing is a dangerous activity. It is arguably the most dangerous type of bike racing—except for maybe our distant cousin, downhill mountain bike. Below is four things to do at your local race to make sure the pack stays safe. Admittedly, this list primarily helps to keep others safe. But, if everyone can abide by a code of conduct then we will all benefit.

  1. Practice contact

Coming in contact with other racers will happen. When it does, DO NOT PANIC! Hold your line, avoid the brakes, and counter the force if need be. Leaning into the other person is a skill and it must be practiced. Don’t wait until you are going 25mph to practice it. Find a friend and practice while going slow (I’m talking 5mph, granny gear slow). Just a little practice every few weeks or so can turn you into a pro.

2. Hold your line in corners

We have heard it a million times to “hold your line.” I trust that if you are reading this you know what that means. That being said, I think we could all use a reminder on what your line actually is in a corner. Your “straight line” in a race will seldom have you riding parallel to the curve. Try to follow the line that the rider in front of you took. When you deviate from that line then you cause others behind you to change course as well. This causes a snowball effect that can lead to someone being pinched on the outside or the inside. Also keep in mind the riders to your side. Try to keep them at the same distance they were going into the corner. The natural tendency is to fan out.

Dive bombing corners is not ok. Don’t be that guy. This tactic can be effective but it can be a dangerous one. If you are passing on the inside of a corner then it your responsibility to observe the pack first. In particular, try to predict the line that the person you are looking to pass will take. If there will be a gap, go for it! But if it is going to be tight then it is best to play it safe. The best way to predict what line someone will take is to look at the person who they are drafting (you may need to look a few riders up). If they are following the line of the person ahead of them, then it should be a good predictor of where they will go.

  1. You should (almost) never cross wheels

Another basic of group riding etiquette. The problem is, this is not a group ride, and this is a race. There are literally tens of dollars on the line! When the bunch slows down it can be easier to avoid the brakes a little and cross wheels. This is completely understandable. Just do so at your own peril (and the peril of those behind). If the rider ahead looks unstable or if he looks like he may dart outside to go for an attack, be weary. However, if you are crossing wheels of someone who has a rider on either shoulder, you are probably safe. At the end of the day, it’s your front wheel, so protect it.

  1. Sprint responsibly

The final sprint will be hectic. It your responsibility to be safe during the final meters of the race. The biggest thing to remember is to not make wild movements to the side. Be predictable! Once you have a clear sight at the line, hold your direction. This is not a professional race and we should not be blocking. End of story. If you can’t fend off an approaching rider then you need to improve your sprint, not put another person’s life in danger.

 


Race Hard but Be Nice- Race Etiquette Matters

July 21st, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Sawyer Shafer

Race etiquette is a tricky subject. We all know to be respectful to other riders, call out passes, and ask a fallen participant if he or she is okay. But during the heat of the battle, do we all do this? This past weekend I competed in the WORS Cup race in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. I was racing against some of the fastest riders in the Midwest, and in addition to the stiff competition, the course was very physically demanding and tight, allowing no room for error or passing. An additional challenger was the Category I men slated to start right after my elite junior class. They would be upon our field rather quickly once the race started. Pre-race, I had a number of them come up to me and say, “You better let me pass as soon as I catch you.” Safe passing in a race situation requires skill, and an understanding of the communication and timing needed. This is all amplified when you have riders riding at faster speeds, and taking risks to move up. This can lead to frustration, and more critically, injury.

saywerHalfway through  the first lap the field starting behind my group began to catch us. The first few announced that they needed a pass and that they would be passing on our left. This is the standard, and correct way to pass: you notify those that you will be passing when and where it will be happening to avoid frustration an injury. This is easily done on an open climb, a section of fire road or two track. However, in tight and twisty single-track this is complicated by trail features, and the speed needed to pass another rider. This is when some started to become frustrated, and let that frustration lead to hostility towards other riders which can become dangerous and paint a bad imaged for that rider’s respective club or team. This is when you need to calm down and remember that, yes, you are racing, but at the end of the day it is all about getting on your bike and just having fun with others in your community. This is why you started riding in the first place. Unfortunately, one of the Cat. I men did not demonstrate this attitude when catching me. His tire tapped mine, causing my handlebars to clip a tree and send me flying from my bike. This resulted in a trip to the E.R. where I was notified  I had fractured my wrist and be out for the rest of the summer. I hope this story will help remind everyone that at the end of the day we are all just racing because we like to ride our bikes and have fun.

Therefore, when put in a race situation where you may be contemplating forcing a pass, or doing something to endanger yourself or another, don’t. This is why I chose to share this story as I fear too many people have lost sight of why we started racing in the first place,  because we enjoyed hanging out with good people and riding bikes.

Here’s to a safe summer of racing!

 



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