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Lessons learned: the “crit”

October 3rd, 2017 by Marie Dershem

Criterium racing is a different kind of bicycle racing – and “crits” can be very intimidating for those just entering into the racing scene. Criterium races are short courses (usually .5 mile to 1 ½ miles) where you race for a designated amount of time. As the race progresses, the time turns into laps, based on average lap time. So, if racing for 40 minutes, at some point the officials will start a lap counter and count down laps until the finish. These are races of skill and strategy because they are typically high-speed races with 4 to 8 corners.

I am a long-course road racer at heart… so over the years of racing, I’ve had to learn how to race differently when racing a criterium. Here is what I’ve learned:

1. Be patient. When racing a criterium, you do not need to chase down every attack. Someone will chase it down and you’ll save a lot of energy by hoping on that wheel.

2. Positioning is everything. This makes or breaks the race. If the race is coming down to a field sprint, your position entering into the last stretch of road on the last lap will most likely determine where you place. Know the riders around you. Pick a good wheel to follow. Stay in the top 5 around that last corner.

3. Take some chances. Try for a break. Shake things up a bit. These races can be exciting and fun if racers take a chance and mix it up. Attack. Bridge up to a break. Go for a prime. Have fun and make racers work for their position.

4. Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you are more endurance than power, try to get into a break so you have a better chance at the end. If you are a sprinter, do some work, throw some attacks, but mostly just sit in and wait for your moment to shine. If you aren’t sure – test the waters and see where you land.

5. Rubber side down. It is never worth it to steal a wheel (taking a good draft wheel from someone else during a race), take a corner faster than your skill allows, or break your line (being unpredictable to the riders around you) to gain position or move up in the field if you have to do so in a dangerous manner. Everyone wants to do their best and get the best possible positioning leading up to the finish. But this can cause serious crashes, especially at high speeds. Be smart. Be cautious. Be aware of the riders around you. Be safe. Everyone wants to end the ride rubber side down.

Back to basics: an interview with Junior Racer, Christian Dershem

September 27th, 2017 by Marie Dershem

Sometimes kids have a perspective that bring us back to basics. There are times, as adults, we are out on a ride and the wind is high, motivation is low… and we wonder why we are out there. Here is a short interview with 11 year old junior racer, Christian Dershem. He’ll remind you.

1. What is your favorite part of racing: “It’s fun and competitive at the same time – I love that.”

2. What is your least favorite part of racing: “Crashes and mean bike riders that will shove you or cut you off.”

3. Why did you get into cycling? “My parents did it and when I tried it, I thought it was really fun.”

4. What is your favorite type of race? “Time trial or mountain bike race.”

5. Why? “I like how it is all your power. It’s just you and your individual power. It’s your speed. No one can help you. And, mountain biking is also so fun to do – really fun!”

6. What do you like about being on a team? “The support that you get and making friends. And, you get pushed and you also get to learn from teammates.”



7. Is there anything you aspire to do with bicycle racing? “Become a pro and race in the Tour de France.”

8. What do you plan to do to make that happen? “Work hard every day.”

9. How much do you train now? “Not too often.”

10. What is racing all about? “Having fun and doing what you love.”

11. Is there anything you want to say to those reading this blog post? “Do what you love to do, and thanks to all my teammates and cycling friends for all the help and support they give me.”

Ride on!


An object at rest stays at rest . . .

July 11th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Aric Dershem

Newton’s 1st Law of Physics: An object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.


My brain is in shock as I try to determine where the noise is coming from. It takes me a few seconds to gain just enough consciousness to reach over to the bedside table and fumble around, eyes still closed, searching for the off button on the alarm clock. When I finally muster enough dexterity to flick the off button, I begrudgingly pull off the covers and swing my legs over the bed. My feet hit the hardwood floor with my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands. I look at my watch. 4:46 am. Even though I’m only in a semi-conscious state, I need to make a choice right now. Stand up and get moving or fall back into the warmth of my bed and the comfort of my pillow. The latter sounds so inviting at this time in the morning, but there’s a small part of me that knows that this is my only chance. This is going to take the force of my will to get moving. If I’m going to ride today, I have to ride now.

aric lights

Over the next several minutes I slowly emerge from my grogginess into a state of complete consciousness. It’s chilly outside – chillier than it should be for early June. I have a hard workout on my training plan for today. I find myself having an all too familiar conversation in my head – What am I doing? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Some days, this whole “cycling thing” feels more like a job.

It’s 5:20. I ratchet my shoes tight and pull on my helmet and glasses. As I step out the door, am smacked in the face by the cool early morning air. I dread the chill that seems to go right through me when I start riding, but I’m committed at this point. I check my setup – rear flashers are on, one solid front light and one flashing front light. The Garmin has satellite connection and the power meter is calibrated. I swing my leg over the bar and hear the familiar sound of my cleats clipping into my pedals. One press of the start/stop button and my Garmin is capturing every bit of data about my the ride I am about to take. With a few standing pedal strokes, I’m down the driveway and out onto the road.

Even in these pre-dawn hours it takes about 20 minutes to get out of town. I have the roads mostly to myself. There’s an occasional car, but I’m more likely to see rabbits, racoon or deer. Nearly every stoplight I hit is flashing. I’m able to roll-up and (usually) roll through. The sleep is out of my system by now and I’m enjoying the feeling of acceleration when stand-up on my pedals. I feel the almost metronomic rhythm of my pedals as my wheels roll resolutely over the pavement – I focus on smoothing out my pedal strokes. Occasionally I look down at my Garmin to check on my progress, but mostly I take in the familiar landmarks as I slice my way through the city.

aric morning1Now that I’m riding the chill in the air no longer bothers me, instead the cool air hitting my skin feels refreshing. The thoughts of my warm bed have long left my head. I’m focused on the ride. My legs feel alive (even if they’re a little sore) and the sensation of speed as I focus my energy into my pedals is unlike any other.

Most non-cyclists think I’m crazy for riding on the road (they think it’s too dangerous). Many of my cycling friends think I’m crazy for riding this early in the morning (it is an ungodly hour to be awake). Regardless, these early morning rides have become the staple of my training. Like today, it usually takes a little extra effort to get out the door, but once I’m on the road, there are rewards waiting for me. Sometimes, the reward is just the sense of accomplishment that comes from surviving a hard workout while others are sleeping. Other times, the reward is the opportunity to greet the sunrise and experience the awe of the new day coming over the horizon. Every day I find myself moving relentlessly over the road, I’m rewarded by feeling a little more alive.

I check my watch and see that it’s almost 7:00. The morning traffic is in full flight with commuters rushing to work. I have to double-check behind me before making a left turn and watch for the drivers distracted by their coffee or their phones. By this point, the hardest work is usually behind me. I just feel the exhilaration of accelerating from intersection to intersection. I know that the ride is over soon – time to finish strong. I almost never hit the final intersection on a green light. This is a good place to call it a ride. I hit the “Start/Stop” button on my Garmin again. Just a short easy pedal home and I’m there.

As I roll up the driveway and see my family scurrying around the house as they being their morning routine. I pull up to the back door and unclip from my pedals. I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m 35-miles into my day and ready to face whatever comes. That feeling of forward motion carries me into my day – I feel like there’s no stopping me . Now I just need to remember that feeling tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off . . .

aric sunrise 2



Training While Pregnant

June 14th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Lindsey Lilley

    My husband and I are expecting our first child in November and we couldn’t be more excited. This change has also brought a new aspect into training, training while pregnant. This is my first pregnancy so I had NO IDEA what to expect or how my body would react. I spent a lot of time reading blogs by women who have led an active lifestyle before/during/after pregnancy and learned A LOT and it was nice to get a lot of different perspectives. This is a brief summary of my first trimester training.

              Have you ever been hung-over, taken a sleeping pill and had to go potty 24/7 all at the same time? That is exactly what I felt like forweeks straight. I wasn’t going to let this be an excuse to not train because 1) Staying active is important for the health of our growing human and myself. 2) I want my body as strong as possible for labor and delivery (OUCH!) 3) There are still events I want to participate in this year. It wasn’t easy to get the workouts going. Not easy at all. It took a LOT of arguing and negotiations with myself to get started every day.  Once I finally started, my swimming, biking, running and lifting sessions were when I felt best. Even though my workout time is when I felt my “best” it didn’t mean it got easier to convince myself to get going, I just did it. As an athlete I think it’s fair to say we are all used to doing things we don’t always want to do but know we should do.

Lindsey nicole

              10 weeks came and it was like a switch was flipped. The nauseous and exhaustion phase had passed, I was finally starting to feel like myself again. I was able to put more energy and effort into my training sessions. I’ve completed two races so far (Kent City Ridge Run 15K and 5/3rd Riverbank Run 25K) and look forward to “racing” throughout the summer and early fall. My times will be slower, I’ll be rounder but having my little workout partner with me this racing season is beyond spectacular.

              Disclaimer: I did get the OK from my physician to continue training as long as my heart rate didn’t get too elevated for an extended amount of time, I wasn’t having any health issues/complications and I didn’t deprive my body of oxygen for too long.

What to expect when you’re expecting…Lumberjack100

June 7th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Collin Snyder, Team Athletic Mentors cyclist

On paper, Lumberjack is one of the “easier” NUE races. With no major climbs and just 3 laps of 33 miles of fun single track, it can look like a cake walk, but it’s not. Lumberjack is hard. Really hard. With 90 miles or so of single track, you never get a break. With the race just around the corner, here are some hopefully helpful tips to make Michigan’s most famous 100miler just a little bit easier.

In addition to preparing with hours and hours of training, make sure your bike is just as ready. Make sure your chain/cassette/chain ring are in great condition, tires are perfect with new sealant, and brakes have new pads. If there is something that you’ve been holding off fixing, it will break out there.  Most importantly of all, don’t wait until the last minute. You’ll rub your local bike shop the wrong way if you show up Friday morning asking for a shock rebuild and a replacement Chris King freehub body.

Tent Area:

Lumberjack 100 is somewhat unique in terms of NUE races because instead of one giant lap, you do three. This presents some pluses and minuses. The down side is, like the Siren’s Song in The Odyssey, the thought of passing the starting area fully stocked with cold beer, camping chairs and team tents can draw you in for a DNF. The first pass is rather easy, the second pass takes some willpower.

LJ tents

The up side of passing this area multiple times in the race is it provides an opportunity to fuel up, re-stock on supplies, lube your chain and chamois (preferably with different products), and fix anything that broke on the previous lap.  It is good practice to bring a bag with an extra kit, rain gear, some tools, first aid, spare tire, a few CO2’s and tubes. Hopefully you’ll never touch it, but it’s there in case you slash a tire after an epic downpour it will be there. If you have a cooler, stock it with lots of ice and bottles for each lap. I prefer to ride with a new set of dry gloves each lap as 8 hours of sweat will make for some beat up hands.

Fuel Up:

When you see someone else eating, eat. In 100 miles, you can easily burn 10,000 calories, and it’s almost impossible to stay in the positive. Same thing can be said for hydration. If you want to make it to the third lap without feeling like this “stupid race” will never end, you need to do your best to start water and fuel intake early and often. Once you go past this point, it’s hard to come back.

And don’t try anything fancy/new. Race day is no time to experiment on fuel. If you normally only eat granola bars and gels for races, trying to mimic your buddy’s “highly successful” McDonald’s McDoubles and “carb-rich” Budlight only plan may not be the wisest (although if it works for him, whom am I to judge). Have food that is light on the stomach that packs more than just simple carbs. Gels are great for a pick me up, but your stomach will start rejecting them when the miles add up. Real food like sandwiches are the better long term choice.

Get In and Out:

The first NUE race I did, I looked at my moving time vs finish time, and it was over an hour difference. This time was spent recovering, eating, and relaxing. That is a lot of time that could have been spent spinning at 4mph, adding to the overall goal of finishing 100 miles. When you watch the top guys go, they are in and out in under a minute. While this may be a bit extreme for someone just looking to finish, anything more than 5 minutes makes getting up and rolling harder and harder.

Take your time: Lumberjack is won over 7 hours, not the first 7 minutes. If you find yourself  going Iceman Pace with your heart rate pegged, back off. My best NUE race ever, I just rode like it was a Sunday stroll until a 2/3rds into the race, followed by passing every single speeder but one in the final 30 miles. Being a jerk 4 miles in because the guy in front of you made you put a foot down is not going to make a world a difference in your race, and chances are you’ll ride with him the rest of the race anyways which makes for an awkward 8 hours.

It’s Hard:

I’ve done around 15 NUE races and never once have I crossed the finish line and said that was easy. One of the top NUE Pro’s was quoted as saying there’s never an NUE race that he hasn’t wanted to quit at least once during the 100 miles. Know that everyone you’re riding with is probably feeling the same way. Just keep spinning (and eating and drinking) and soon enough you’ll get a coveted Lumberjack Finisher’s Patch.

LJ patch

What Being a “Fat Adapted” Athlete Really Means

April 25th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Erin Young

Of course we all want to burn that fat to be lean, but there are dozens of reasons that being a better butter burner will make you a better athlete. Ever have GI distress (bloating, vomiting, bonking, etc. ) three fourths through your marathon? Are you filling your pockets with gels and bars to  go ride for a couple of hours?

gu runner

Contrary to what most of us have learned, these pouches of sugar, called “Gu” or “gels”, are not necessary or even healthy for athletes.

“Efficiency” is usually thought of as doing something well with little amount of effort. In endurance sports nutrition, this boils down to being able to burn more fat and less carbohydrate for energy. Why would we want to do this? Because at any given time, most trained athletes are carrying about 1,500 – 2,000 calories of carbohydrates and 80,000-plus calories of fat. Yep, even speedy little Meb has that much fat in storage. The trick is teaching the body to love to run on fat and use it at higher intensities. This is done through metabolic efficiency training to build a stockpile of fat-burning enzymes- the “machinery” to make it work. Voilà – the ultrarunner, cyclist or triathlete, becomes much less dependent on consuming mass amounts of carbohydrates during the race and has reduced risk of GI distress.

Just how do you ignite this fat fire?

The single most important contributor to improve your ability to use fat as fuel is diet. A diet low in refined foods, specifically carbohydrates, moderate in protein and fiber as well as higher in fat is key to priming metabolic efficiency . Yep, fats! Not the artificial, industrially produced partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, like corn, safflower, sunflower, or canola. Not crisco or margarine. Those are examples of the “bad” when we speak of bad fats. You can safely enjoy the real fats. Fats, included in meats, avocado, ghee (oh so good for cooking!), macadamia nuts, etc. Add these delicious fats and proteins into your diet and you will be satiated enough to stop thinking about your next meal. Stay away from “low fat” products and read your labels. Carbohydrate translates to sugar. Even those “healthy” organic dressings and snacks have the bad stuff. Take Newman’s Own balsamic dressing… healthy, right? Look closely at the label Vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola oil). Stick to the real oils, like olive and avocado. The food industry has learned to trick those who want to be healthy. But athletes, fats and protein are your friend. The real fats. Yes, even animal fats.

Give your gut a break. Lengthy fasts are not necessary, but giving your gut a break and laying off the mid meal snacks can tell your metabolism to use the fuel we all have plenty of… fat! If you’re hungry before mealtime,  choose a small nutrient dense snack that can get you to you the next meal. Some great small snacks that stop the growling are:

  • Boiled eggs
  • Macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts
  • Celery with almond butter
  • Hard cheeses

Get enough sleep. Your body does a lot of work at rest. You aren’t digesting and the gut can rest. Getting sufficient sleep lets you stay in a fasted state where your body is using fat stores rather than carbohydrates from your last meal. Waking up without having to immediately get a meal is a good sign you are functioning on fat stores.

fat graphYou can also train your body to use fat stores through training! Before we get fast, we have to lay the groundwork. Being a metabolically efficient athlete means we have the foundation of which speed is built upon. To find out where you are as a fat burner you will need the help of my friends at Athletic Mentors to perform a metabolic efficiency assessment. You can do this as a runner or cyclist, whichever area you want to become more efficient in. By doing this assessment you will learn what are the most fuel efficient heart rate zone for you. Athletic Mentors can teach you how to build your foundation and reach your full potential. They are currently offering group classes to teach you how to use your own data. They will teach you how to fuel and train for metabolic efficiency. The next Metabolic Efficiency Class will be held May 11th, at 6pm.

100 miler

Zach Bitter, world record holder as the fastest 100 miler on a track, is known for his fat fueled success.

You are meant to burn fats. The average American diet has allowed us to become dependent on carbohydrates to get us through the day, our workouts and races. Take a day to learn about your metabolism, and what you can do to stay healthy and burn the fuel that your body was meant to use. Metabolic efficiency training can help you stabilize your blood sugars, give you steady energy, lose body fat and allow you to run faster at a lower heart rate. All great results, so think about incorporating ME training into your base training. All you really need to start your ME training once you get the test, is your running shoes, a heart rate monitor and your body fat.

If you have questions, or want to schedule a test check out the website at www.athleticmentors.com or contact erin@athleticmentors.com with any questions about metabolic efficiency testing.



Pressing the Reset Button

March 3rd, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team Athletic Mentors Cyclist

An off-season has been a foreign concept for me for the past several years. The rollerskis (or real skis) would come out just after Iceman and ski race season would be in full force as soon after. And by the time the last xc ski race was over in March, it was already cycling season. I’m still not sure how I managed to avoid getting totally burnt out pulling this off several consecutive years, but I am very thankful for my string of healthy seasons. But with the move to Ann Arbor and school demands, I can manage being a cyclist but not a skier. And after a fall of balancing the first semester of medical school with mountain bike racing and then the Zwift Academy competition, I was pretty toasted and ready for a break.

I took some time totally off the bike and got in some skiing in December before the big January thaw. I didn’t do anything structured or hard, nor did I want to.  I did have a few things I wanted to accomplish off the bike. My first goal was to put myself back together so I could do real runs. I injured my IT band at the GR Tri in 2015 and haven’t been able to tolerate much running since. It didn’t bother me on the bike so I admittedly put it on the backburner and just didn’t run. It didn’t get worse but also didn’t get better. Some concentrated rehab on my hip flexor flexibility and abductor strength the past few months has been very successful and I’ve been able to build up to 6-8 miles every other day.

It feels great to be running again and pretty nostalgic since I’m back in Ann Arbor.  I’ve been running variations on the same well-traveled routes from my collegiate running career, albeit not quite as

Flashbacks of my previous life

Flashbacks of my previous life

fast or not quite as long. It has definitely helped to fill the void of not being able to ski or ride outside much.

I’ve also spent more committed time in the weight room since strength is definitely my weakness. I am slow twitch through and through. I’ve historically not been a fan of lifting because I haven’t seen it translate to improvements but I also haven’t previously committed enough to see results. This time is more enjoyable and it helps that I have a readily accessible gym and it has helped me get back running already. I think strength training can be a hard thing for a lot of cyclists and multisport athletes to commit to, but it really does translate to being more injury resistant and keeping control and form on the bike.

The remainder of my training time is spent on Zwift. I actually don’t mind the trainer and my cold tolerance for riding outside is pretty wimpy.  The trainer also has the added benefit of allowing me to listen to lectures and material while I ride.

I definitely miss cross country ski racing and the ski community but it has been nice to have some time to not have to be on top of my game all the time.  Sometimes a reset button is necessary and even enjoyable. And by the time spring rolls around, I’m going to be itching to race!

Making It Work

January 20th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Alex Vanias, Nordic Skier and Cyclist

I moved to Ann Arbor around the beginning of August. It isn’t the most optimal place to be a cross country skier, but I’m making it work. It took me about a month to find some convenient roads and trails to roller ski, but unfortunately after the time change in the fall I would get kicked out of said parks at sunset. Apparently downstaters are scared of the dark… Ok, I’ll go play with the cars. So much safer! It took me a few more weeks in November to find new roads with minimal traffic. I ended up finding some great suburbs with minimal traffic and nice pavement. The only annoying part about suburbs is that between 5-8pm after work, everywhere I go smells like dinner and it absolutely kills me when I’m starving a couple hours into a workout.

A quick side story; When I was searching for roller ski training spots, I came across the short track speed skating club in Ann Arbor and absolutely needed to try it out! I actually competed in a short speed skatingtrack race in Midland before ski season. In the image below, I’m the guy in fluorescent green. I’m actually very bad at short track. It is very much a technique sport, and my VO2 helped me very minimally. It may or may not have made my skate skiing more efficient, though!

I knew ski training would be a struggle, so in October I was lucky to find a used Ski Erg. This device has transformed my training and is currently saving my season. It allows me to work my weakness even when the trails are bare, and the roads are icy. It also allows me to train with power. I have done a couple 20min power tests so far with lots of improvement. The picture below is worth a thousand words.

ski erg

In December we got dumped on with snow and all the local trails were groomed and amazing. The Michigan Cup racing kicked off and I won a couple of the season openers. It was great to get that early season lung burn over with! That great snow only lasted 2-3 weeks before a series of unfortunate warmups.

Where did all the snow go?

Where did all the snow go?

speed max

Classic boot with full carbon sole offers superb control of the skis while remaining lightweight!

I was on the fence about going up to SISU Ski Fest the first weekend in January, but not having been on great snow in a couple weeks lead me to sign up for the race a few days before it started. The forecast for the race was a frigid -5F to 0F. It’s tough to go from 50F training all the way down to that, but I have awesome cold skis so I couldn’t turn it down. The drive to Ironwood is about 10hrs in one directions, and of course there were blizzards to drive through. On the way up I stopped my Northbound Outfitters for some wax and Fischer’s new Speedmax Classic boots (These boots are really worth the upgrade!).

The weather for SISU was looking straight forward all week- frigid cold. I planned on using my coldest, softest ski with TB1x grind no matter what. My TG1-1 grind on a stiff ski just happened to be testing the same as my TB1x at the start area. I knew using the TG1-1 was a liability, especially since it was starting to snow, but 10min before the race start I grabbed the risky ski hoping that the snow was packed and the snow would stop. The forecast didn’t call for snow until the afternoon so it was worth a shot.

ski testing

ski testing at -5F

All was going fantastic and I was calm and relaxed following in the draft while I watched Matt Liebsch start opening a gap. I thought “no problem, I’ll let him do some work and then bridge up to him.” I finally got around and opened up a gap on the hills. I felt great- possibly better than last year. Then the snow started getting deep, up to 2-3” in spots. My skis suddenly felt terrible. I know everybody’s skis slowed waaay down, and I’m sure others made a mistake picking skis as well, it’s just that some skis are less slow than others in this situation.  Turns out the skis I planned on using all week would have been the way to go. Lesson learned.

Matt got out of sight, and Joel bridged up and eventually dropped me. I couldn’t drink because my face was frozen. I was on the struggle bus, big time! I was actually doing V1 technique on the flats. V1 is a  technique usually reserved for going uphill but that’s how slow the conditions became. In the last few kilometers I saw Cory coming up behind me. At this point the wind and snow was so bad I couldn’t see the trail in front of me. My eyeballs were so cold and I would try to ski short distances with my eyes closed to warm them up. My left eyelid wasn’t even closing all the way! In the end, I held off Cory for 3rd place. It was a good, tough race. That’s what I drove 20hrs for. There is so much to learn with ski racing which is why you don’t see many young guys at the top of races. Experience and equipment tends to trump everything in difficult snow conditions.


sisu ski

Limiting my losses at SISU

Unfortunately the weather is still not cooperating in Ann Arbor to do much on-snow skiing so I’ll have to continue my mix of using the Ski Erg, riding the trainer and running. Training for ski season this year has made me feel more like a fitness enthusiast than a skier!   I’m looking forward to getting some more racing in and my next big test is the Noquemanon Ski Marathon in Marquette the last weekend in January!




Finding Balance

December 28th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Elaine Sheikh, Team Athletic Mentors Triathlete


I’ve talked to a lot of people lately about their triathlon training.  And let’s face it, it isn’t super easy for people who have “real jobs,” families, and other commitments in their lives to get in the necessary training for three disciplines while balancing rest and recovery, as well as healthy fueling.  The word I hear thrown around constantly is “balance.”  How do we find a healthy balance of career, family, and sport?

Balance is a concept that tends to mystify me.  Sure, in day-to-day life, it is important. However, I firmly believe that greatness is achieved by being temporarily thrown out of balance.  Look at the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence.  Last year, he completed 50 iron distance triathlons in 50 states in 50 days.  Was he living a life of balance?  Absolutely not.  However, there is no way he could have achieved something so extraordinary while living a balanced life.  Collin O’Brady, a former professional triathlete, just shattered the Explorer’s Grand Slam and also set a new world record for the seven summits.  Was his life balanced during this feat?  Absolutely not.  What am I trying to get at here?  Well, not all of us are in a position where we can take 50-100 days to go do something amazing.  However, what can we do?  Stop shaming ourselves for living a life that is not perfectly balanced.  That might training for an Ironman while working a full time job, being a dedicated parent, etc.  It might be not training enough while throwing 90 hours a week into a professional career to chase another dream.  No matter what your version of greatness is, it may be necessary to eschew balance for a period of time in order to achieve your goals.

So, my encouragement to you is to stop seeking greatness in “balance.””  Instead, try to explore your boundaries.  Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Learn how to live temporarily imbalanced lives to seek the greatness you dreamed of, and then rebound from that imbalance.  Greatness is earned, not deserved.

Elaine 2

The Not So Serious Blog

November 2nd, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Collin Snyder, Team OAM NOW Cyclist

This weekend, the most prestigious race in Michigan went down. You may be asking yourself, what could be bigger than the upcoming Iceman Cometh? Well the answer is, the 12th annual Poto Single Speed World Championships or PSSWC2016 for short. This race (it’s officially not a race –Ed.) is only open to the most dedicated of racers (people who have a Facebook account or heard about it some other way, and happen to have a single speed mountain bike –Ed). The event is held each year on the last Saturday of October at the Potawatomi trail in Pickney Michigan and draws thousands (closer to 75-100 riders –Ed.).


In the past two years participating in this race (it’s not officially a race –Ed.) I’ve earned the title of “Poto Single Speed World Champion!” twice. Based upon my past performances, Giant created a special edition rainbow world championship XTC+ complete with a ROY-G-BiV color scheme for this year’s ride arriving just days before the big day (no they didn’t, he just happen to have a bunch of miss matching parts in his stock pile that happen to complete the hideous ROY-G-BiV rainbow color scheme -Ed ) (Okay you’re right –Collin).

roygbiv bike

On the line, there were a few grand contenders, Todd Ace, Stephen Cain, and a few dark horses thrown in. The race started in a hurry. I did my best CX style start and was screaming down the opening dirt road at 150 rpm. Right before the trail head, Cain jumped around me to get first tracks. The pace was heavy, and an elite group quickly formed with myself, Todd Ace, and Jon Robul in tow. A few miles into the trail, I was feeling feisty, and made a pass around Stephen for the lead. I put a good dig in and a small gap quickly followed.

Although early, I thought this might be it as the gap increased. That’s when tragedy struck. My seat post slipped! My mechanic is fired. (Collin is his own mechanic. He didn’t use a torque wrench –Ed).  With my seat about 3 inches lower than the ideal position, I couldn’t keep a high cadence in the saddle and had to stand up pretty much the whole time. The gap quickly shrank, and Todd Ace made it back on my wheel and put a flyer in shortly thereafter. He kept me honest up the hills, putting in a bit more effort than I would have done solo. After a hand full of miles of not shaking me, he allowed me to lead at the first road crossing. I kept the pace up, flying down the sketchy stair step descents. Ace being a great descender wasn’t fazed. On the following uphill, I took a line right over a big root which required me to do a bunny hop over it. Ace didn’t and smacked his front wheel hard. The next thing I hear is disappointment in his voice as he had cracked his China-made carbon wheel and slashed his tire.

My hopes of a solo victory returned. I put it in tempo mode and was thinking of a 2015 Peter Sagan World Championship style win. However, with very little sitting, those dreams fizzled as my legs snyder SS battlefaded.  Up a steep sandy climb, I peer back to see Stephen closing in hot. When he eventually caught me, he didn’t even take the time to rest on my wheel and went right around. With less than a third of the race (it’s not a race, it’s a spirted ride –Ed.)  to go, it looked like if I had any chance of pulling off the three-peat, I had to hold Cane’s wheel. He was running a bit easier gear than me and he knew it, so he put hard digs up every climb, putting the screws on me. In the closing mile of the trail, his home court advantage was showing. He was taking lines that were completely foreign to me, and was getting an ever slight advantage at every rock garden. When we get to the final quarter mile stretch of dirt road before the last bit of single track, Stephen had a good 4 bike length gap on me. I dug deep, seeing a heart rate I haven’t seen in some time and closed the gap right before the final 100 feet of single track.

That’s when I made my winning move. I know what you’re thinking, hard attack right? Nope. The PSSWC uses a crude form of timing. When you enter, you get a small wooden paint sample card with your name on it. When you finish, you put your paint chip through a small metal pole at the finish table. The placing of your chip determines your final placement. Bottom is first, and so on. For the past 2 years, the overall chip drop turns out to be the deceive move. Fumbling for your chip is not an option and will cost you dearly. This year was no different. My winning move was made well before the parking lot. On that final stretch of dirt road, I pulled the chip out of my back pocket and placed it in mouth for easy access.  As we raced (rode aggressively –Ed.) through the parking lot, Stephen opens up his sprint and got to the general start area a half second before I did. However, with my paint chip ready and the fact I scoped out the finish area before the start, I rode right to the timing can and placed my chip on first. Although not the story book finished I hoped for, I had made it a three-peat World Championship title.

Stephen was a bit bummed with the overall outcome but eventually came around after I offered him some of my large fortune of prize money (a six pack of Pale Joe from Founder’s Brewery). Always big thanks to The Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association who puts this great event on. Finally, huge thanks to Giant for making a proper single speed bike! The new XTC+ is a blast to ride.

Now it’s time to focus on some less serious stuff, like that silly race up in Traverse City.

Editors Note: Collin Snyder takes single speeding way too seriously. While most people figured out how to use a shifter, Collin never really did. He also tends to be the king of riding ugly bikes and can turn the coolest looking bike into a monstrosity with odd color parts lying around.



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