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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.


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.


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.


Hart Hills Gravel Grinder

May 10th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

This was my first opportunity to race Hart Hills The Classic Gravel Road Race. I have never ridden this course in previous years and since it was a last minute addition, there wasn’t time for a pre-ride. That may have turned out to be a good thing.

I did look at the profile on Strava so I knew there was 3000 feet of climbing that included a long, steep climb about 40 miles into the 55 mile race. I did a quick look at the route but figured it would be marked well so no need to study or download it onto my computer. 

I did a pre race ride the day before from my home and noted how hard the wind was blowing. The weather report indicated there would continue to be 10 mph winds with gusts the next day. Hills and wind, no problem.

Jonathan Meyer, Terry Ritter, Jared Dunham, Christina Vipond

Race day! I arrived in Hart around 8 am to get my packet and to get a good warm up ride in. I rode the finish of the course, which was pavement with some small rollers and downhill to the finish line, much better than a climb at the end. 

The 55 mile racers lined up for a mass start at 10 am. The organizer, Raymond Passchier, was making announcements about how the rain did not help the road conditions as they had hoped for. He was also announcing sand at mile 23, a large pothole at mile 32 so stay to the left, and a couple of well marked areas of “rough road”. I was trying to keep mental notes. We started downtown, made a few quick turns, and we were climbing gravel in no time. The wind didn’t seem too bad and the temperature warmed up enough to be comfortable.  Then the fun really started.

It only took a couple more turns and we were riding into a strong head wind. No problem, just stay on a wheel, there can’t be a headwind the entire ride. Another turn onto a seasonal road and the thought of “hang on, there is some sand”. I managed that area of sand and was thinking back to the pre-race course announcements, I wasn’t even close to mile 23 yet. Another turn and more sand, and wind, and climbing. Finally, a stretch of true gravel road with a break from riding through the sand, except now there was a cross wind that was blowing the bike all over the place. 

I have difficulty grabbing food out of my vest pockets so I was told about the “lick em and stick em” trick for Clif cubes. I decided to try it for this race, two rows of cubes on the tube, ready to give a burst of energy. I quickly learned two rows is not a good idea, a couple fell off in the first few miles but overall the trick was working, at least for the first hour. 

By the second hour of the race, the remaining cubes were coated with dust. The wind continued with strong gusts. The sand continued to be constant as well. I was riding a section of gravel road which was pretty much loose sand when I saw a man getting his mail from his mailbox. He looked at me and smiled. I told him I didn’t know I was going to have so much fun riding today. He responded with, “You are a long way from Hart”.  This was followed by a short section of pavement which felt so nice to just ride without sand and gusting winds. Then I saw the sign for a sharp right turn. As I got closer, I saw it wasn’t just a sharp turn, but a downhill turn onto a washed out, sandy two-track. I started laughing and asked the volunteer “seriously?” He had a funny smile and shrugged his shoulders. 

Somewhere during the third hour of the race, I crested a hill and saw a big pothole, there was no choice but to stay to the left just as the race director had announced. The wind was still gusting when I hit some rollers and barely felt like I was moving going downhill. I was pretty sure I was going to get blown back up. There was another sandy two-track that I was not able to navigate cleanly and had to get off the bike. I grabbed the tube, completely forgetting about the cubes and knocked the remaining 4 into the sand. There was a brief thought of “I should grab those” before coming to my senses. I was near the 40 mile mark and expecting to turn onto a gravel road for the long, steep climb I had noted from the road profile. I rounded a corner on the seasonal road and, of course there it was, not on a gravel road.  

2nd Place Overall Women

I had only 10 miles left and I knew the last few were pavement and downhill. I was excited to hit pavement with about 8 miles remaining. But there was that gusty crosswind and an open farm field, which put me in a complete dust out for a few seconds. A little more gravel and then pavement I recognized from the warm-up ride! I was ready for the downhill finish but one more gust of wind made me stop riding completely because it was pushing me into the lane of an oncoming truck, Mother Nature exerting herself one last time. 

Three hours and 39 minutes of hills, wind and sand! Hart Hills The Classic Gravel Road Race 2021 was the most challenging course I have raced yet. It was also the course that made me laugh the most. Raymond and all the volunteers did a fantastic job.  I know what to expect from this race next year!

 


My “Giant” Family of Bikes

October 25th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

Submitted by:  JoAnn Cranson

It’s time to ride bikes year round no matter where you live.  I have a wonderful family of “Giant” brand bikes in my garage for the variety of riding I do.  Giant brand bicycles is the world’s leading brand of high-quality bicycles and cycling gear.  Their focus is being builders and innovators, but to also create a global community of cyclists. Giant owners are athletes, adventurers and advocates for cycling.  Some are Tour de France racers, singletrack explorers, neighbors and friends.

I get asked the question on a regular basis by friends “What kind of bike should I get to ride”? Well…. that is a loaded question that only you personally can answer.  The bigger question is “Where do you want to ride this bike?”

I can’t answer the question of what bike you should get, but I can certainly help you come to an answer for yourself!

How about I explain each bike and what I use it for along with a picture.

Road Bike (which is my personal favorite) is designed for pavement riding only. This bike is designed for long touring (higher mileage-40+) and group riding on the road. You can go longer distances faster than any other bicycle. The riding position takes some time to adjust to with a more hunched over profile to make you more aero dynamic and the seat is usually smaller and lighter. My “Giant – Propel Model” – is a great ride with an aero design to the bike that allows me to glide down hills like no other!

Gravel Bike – OK, so you don’t want to just ride on the roads, you want to ride the Rails to Trails or some gravel roads, I get it. Then we pull out the “Giant – Liv” (Liv models are designed specifically for women) with a more upright position on the bike and knobbier tires that make you feel safe and steady on gravel and unpaved roads, plus you can still easily ride on pavement just at a slower pace. Remember these bikes can have different tires put on them to accommodate what you want to do with them. A smoother tire would allow you to be on the pavement and go faster, but not as easy to handle on gravel.

TT Bike – But wait, you are taking up doing triathlons or an Ironman? Well you will want a bike that you can save your energy on, be totally aero-dynamic and pedal as fast as you can! You need a “Giant – TT bike”. This bike can fly as you are laid out on the handlebars to have that air go right over the top of you. TT bikes require a bit of practice to get comfortable with arm position and obtain overall control. But, the energy you can save on these bikes for the run directly after dismounting is well worth the bike choice.

Mountain Bike – You want to enjoy the woods and some adventure? You need a mountain bike that will take you over the logs, bump over ruts and stones and get you through the sand. Now I had a “Giant – 29er Talon” for some time, but like I said, everyone has their personal preferences and mountain biking wasn’t for me. I think I started too late in life and I’m a scaredy-cat and wasn’t comfortable on the rough terrain. But just because it’s not for me, doesn’t mean this isn’t your greatest enjoyment and challenge!  This is a great bike for fall and winter pedaling!

Fat Bike – But what about best of all you “Win” a bike like me last year and get a Fat-Tire Bike!!! This Fat bike is ideal for  Winter riding in snow (some people get studded tires) or beach riding in deeper sand,  or riding in the woods with a less scary, slower ride. Now these bikes will not keep up with the roadies on pavement, but you can comfortably ride any terrain at a more relaxed pace with nice wide tires to provide security and more bouncy comfort.  Giant does offer the Yukon fat tire bike in their lineup.

Electric Bike – One bike I don’t have in my family yet is a Giant Electric Bike. Giant offers Electric Bikes in Road, Mountain and Gravel styles. They allow you to ride farther and faster than you thought possible. If you struggle to keep up with younger family members or friends that you want to spend time riding with, this may be an option that is the right fit for you.

There are many other styles of bikes I don’t have, check out Giant’s website for their wide array of choices.  Whatever bike you pick, just get on it and pedal the way you want to. It’s a great way to exercise without extra strain on knees and other joints. You get those endorphins flowing which pushes stress away. It allows you to spend time with family and friends of varying ages. As you pedal, breathe the fresh air and take time to see the beauty of nature in this journey called life!


GREENWARE Creates PPE

July 21st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

Submitted by: Dawn Hinz

Team Athletic Mentors/Greenware is proud of all of our Sponsors for stepping up and adjusting to the dynamic changes of this year. We thoroughly appreciate the support we have received from them. It enables us to encourage healthy living; albeit from a distance this year. In past years, Team Athletic Mentors gave back to the community by volunteering at multiple events including Team Athletic Mentors Greenware’s Youth Programs.  Along with Greenware’s willingness to give back to the community, they stepped forward during this critical time to create Personal Protective Equipment to keep people safe and healthy amidst the COVID Crisis.

Fabri-Kal is a local company that was incorporated in 1950 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when they purchased the Kalamazoo Paper Box Company’s plastic segment and set up shop in 5,000 square feet.  

The first products Fabri-Kal produced were paint cups for the paint-by-number industry. The company soon expanded into manufacturing polystyrene meat trays and pizza lids and then diversified into proprietary stock packaging products, including plastic cups and lids. 

In 1961 the company expanded to a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility on East Cork Street in Kalamazoo. 

In 2005 Fabri-Kal recognized the need to create plastic-like products from renewable sources. That’s when they created GREENWARE; a plastic made from annually renewable plants, not petroleum. Greenware is created from PLA; polymerized lactic acid from corn sugar. PLA is perfect for making biodegradable products such as cups, lids, and to-go boxes.

When COVID struck in early 2020 there was a surge in need for Personal Protective Equipment. While Greenware’s PLA is a fabulous product, it is not the best choice for every application. It’s too brittle to form plastic face shields. That didn’t stop Greenware from moving forward to find a way to manufacture face shields by the thousands.

Greenware under Fabri-Kal collaborated with Tekna and Schupan, who are experts in design & manufacturing of medical products to create a new product; face shields. They quickly decided on using Pete #4 Plastic which is flexible, clear and perhaps more importantly highly recyclable.

Since late January Greenware has sold out of the 4,000 face shields it produces daily!

 


Athletic Mentors Youth Triathletes

June 18th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jacob Florey

The Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program is a great opportunity for kids who have never done a triathlon and for kids who have done a tri to improve their skills. In the program you learn about the rules of a triathlon, along with the equipment you’ll need. They teach you about proper Swimming, Biking, and Running techniques. The coaches train you for the Shermanator Triathlon specifically. The Shermanator is a great first triathlon because it is a fun laid back course with lots of volunteers making sure it is well marked.  It also has a shorter distance for young athletes.  Unfortunately the Shermanator Triathlon and Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program will not occur in 2020 due to Covid-19, but we look forward to them in 2021!

You only need four items: Swim Goggles, a Bike, a Bike Helmet, and Running Shoes. Most people already have these four items.. You can get these items at varying prices but in the end a bike is a bike and a helmet is a helmet.

The coaches will teach you proper swimming techniques in the pool and open water. Once you have your swim stroke down they will teach you about sighting for buoys. Sighting helps ensure you’re going the right direction.

They then teach you about effective transitioning. Your transition is a very important part of a triathlon. Once you get out of the water you need to be able to get everything you need for your bike on quickly.  Then when you are done on the bike, you need to be able to get ready for the run.

Biking was always my favorite part because of how fast you can go. But no matter how fast you go you have to be aware of your surroundings like cars, bikers, and even runners. This program teaches you about how to be safe while you are racing.

Training-wise; you will learn about bricks, bricks are teaching your body to transition between activities, like running after biking, or biking after swimming. Running after biking can be challenging because your legs will feel like bricks. One way to deal with this feeling is to practice.

Finally the coaches help you put it all together on race day. The coaches are at the race to help you and cheer you on. It’s honestly the best feeling once you finish the triathlon because all your hard work paid off. This program helped me train for future triathlons and taught me everything I needed to know. I’m very glad to have done the program because of how much I learned.  If you want to learn more about Athletic Mentors Youth Tri-Coaching program, click on this link to learn more:  Athletic Mentors Youth Tri Programs

 


Workout Recovery is Fast with Ultragen

June 11th, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Chelsey Jones

To reach my workout goals, I need to use all the help I can get!  I want to be able to push my body in my workouts over and over again.  To achieve this I need a reliable, quality Post Recovery drink to restore my muscle breakdown, build back up my fuel reserves and rehydrate my body right away!  Research shows over and over again that for the best results to repair your body is to give it nutrients within 30 minutes of exercise.

First Endurance does a fantastic job creating a product that I can get in my body ASAP!  I have been using Ultragen RS-Recovery Series after my hard workouts. It has fantastic flavor, and I notice a significant difference in my recovery afterwards. Ultragen has several components including fast sugars, complete proteins, amino acids, five electrolytes and key vitamins all designed to work together in order to fully maximize recovery. Ultragen is formulated with 6 grams of Glutamine and is the only endurance recovery product on the market that includes this essential anabolic and anticatabolic ingredient.  First Endurance prides itself in all the research they continue to use to always be improving their products.

My favorite mix is the Cappucino flavor blended with almond milk, banana, and a few chocolate chips. It is so yummy! It is a great treat after a hard workout. Ultragen RS is also gluten and lactose free, making it a great option for those with specific intolerances.

 I highly recommend First Endurance to those looking for nutrition.  They not only have a recovery drink but they have a pre-race drink and plenty of drink mix options (including a liquid shot product) to keep you at your peak during your strenuous training/racing events. 

 

 


Smith Optics – My “Go-To” Sunglasses

June 1st, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson
By Michelle Dalton 
Smith Optics has been my “go to” glasses for the last 5 years and have been amazing in terms of allowing me to continue in this sport with no issues due to my declining vision. My favorite is Parallel Max 2 for Triathlons. The ability to wear light and stylish frames that have interchangeable lenses that are easy to carry with me makes the decision to continue buying Smith glasses simple.

With the option of different frames, lenses and styles no matter what your activity, from hanging out at the beach, driving, hiking, biking, running or fishing, there is a pair for you in their collection. Smith has a proprietary ChromaPop™ lens technology, that helps you see detail and color beyond normal capabilities. They finish the lenses with multi-layer mirror, Anti-Reflective (A/R), anti-scratch, and Hydroleophobic lens coatings. With the wear and tear of racing and training, these lens just don’t scratch like other lenses I’ve had in the past. If you experience a manufacturing defect in materials or workmanship Smith Optics warrants your sunglasses for the lifetime of the product, and will repair or replace at no charge.

As an endurance athlete, much of my time is taken up with training and focusing on the races that are ahead of me. I have been doing this for a long time and up until recently everything that went along with triathlon was just something that you got and made decisions based on price and comfort.

However, as I age, albeit reluctantly, I have had to think more about my equipment and how that can help me train and race to the changing elements of age. In the last 5 years as my eyesight has become more of an issue, I looked for sunglasses and eyewear to race and train in that could support the difficulties I sometimes faced with my vision. As I wear contacts when I bike and run I needed eyewear that could be versatile with the light and light enough that I didn’t notice I was wearing it. Also, it had to look good!! Smith can also convert to prescription eyewear and that is definitely something that I will be looking into in the future.

Its great when you find a brand that works for you and does what you need it to do. Being a part of a team that is sponsored by Smith Optics, we have the experience in wearing these top quality sunglasses daily and know they hold up under all conditions. Faced with more choices than you can handle, I find that being loyal to a brand like Smith is easy and I have never been disappointed with the decisions that I have made purchasing and wearing their product.



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