Team News

Athletic Mentors Multisport Team Suiting Up for Success in 2018

February 9th, 2018 by Team AM OAM

Athletic Mentors — the training and team management company responsible for elevating Michigan endurance athletes to recognition as “podium performers” — is ramping up for another strong showing for the 2018 race season.

The storied team of Michigan amateur triathletes, cyclists, runners and Nordic skiers will be suiting up with support from numerous community partners this year.

Training the next generation of multisport athletes is an activity that will continue to receive increased attention in 2018, building on workshops held last year for youth triathlete training and cycling clinics.

“Our mission is to introduce young athletes to the joy of endurance competition as a lifelong motivation for healthy living,” said Cheryl Sherwood, General Manager and co-owner of Athletic Mentors.

“It’s one of the many ways our sponsors are making Michigan a better place for active living.”

Back for a second year in the presenter role is Greenware, a Kalamazoo packaging company that caters to restaurant, event and entertainment service with an exclusive line of annually renewable drink cups, lids, portion containers and on-the-go boxes made entirely from plants. Parent company FabriKal is privately held and home to more than 800 employees. For Greenware, the AM team is an opportunity to encourage the community to enjoy the outdoors and keep it green.

After a season break, OAM NOW is back in the fold as a major sponsor. OAM NOW offers urgent orthopaedic care from the best orthopaedic surgeons available. With 30 experienced physicians and PAs specializing in motion; spine; joints; hands and feet, OAM is uniquely qualified to give immediate diagnosis and customized care to athletes. With all diagnostic technologies onsite, OAM NOW offers fast, unified care whether you’re on the couch or on the trail.

Rounding out the premium level of support are three community-minded West Michigan companies.

Gauthier Family Home Care provides elder and home care with an emphasis on independence and an improved quality of life. This family-owned business understands the struggles of in-home care and works with clients to create tailored care solutions. Their compassionate, professional caregivers go the extra mile to provide dependable comfort.


Total Plastics Inc. distributes thousands of diverse plastics across the US. They provide top-quality products with superior service and swift shipping. Dedicated staff, value-added services, and quick turn-around set them apart.

Agility Sports Medicine serves the Kalamazoo area with comprehensive orthopedic physical therapy. They employ one of the most heavily-certified staffs in the region, featuring two Board-Certified Clinical Specialists in Orthopedics and the only Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy in Southwest Michigan.

Additional team support comes from the following: Infinit Nutrition, Smith Optics, Giordana, First Endurance, KLM Fitness, Custer Cyclery, Speed Merchants Bike Shop, Giant and the Cross Country Ski Shop. Learn more about our sponsors.

Athletic Mentors continues to serve as the title sponsor for the team as well as the management company that operates it.

“We’re committed to keeping endurance athletes of every age moving. And nothing motivates a commitment to training more than a race,” Sherwood said.

The team regularly operates free introductory clinics to help amateur or would-be endurance athletes prepare for local races such as the GR TRI, the Cycling Lawyer Criterium, or the Michigan Titanium, mother of multisports.

Athletic Mentors, founded in 2002, continues to expand at a record pace. In 2016, it purchased a new home for its Richland training facility and fitness drop-in center. Last year, in partnership with the Wings West facility in Kalamazoo, Athletic Mentors opened a second center to keep young hockey and figure skaters in top form with off-ice training programs.

AM also offers adult fitness programs, classes, metabolic testing and sports camps. Previously, Athletic Mentors has managed the award-winning Bissell cycling team, the Priority Health Team and OAM NOW.

Is Anyone Obligated to Be A Role Model?

June 30th, 2017 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Kaitlyn Patterson

My first year of medical school has come to a close and it has left me a lot of things to think about. Besides doing a lot of necessary thinking about anatomy, physiology and disease processes, medical school has made me think critically about priorities- my own as well as those of healthcare and the medical education system.

mtb wc

One reason that I’ve continued to race and train over this year is because it has become one of my default priorities. At this point, I’ve been training consistently for so long that it is a routine part of the day. However, I am well aware that this time is a luxury that will become much harder as my clinical responsibilities continue to increase. I see this reflected in many of the students, residents and physicians around me- personal health suffers as time spent in the hospital increases and sleep, exercise and sunlight decline to minimal to none. Honestly, it scares me and I frequently wonder why it has to be like this. Why are the people who are supposedly healing others, so blatantly defying the most basic aspects of health?

This paradox was illustrated in a small group session we had about physical activity and lifestyle counseling. A discussion prompt was, “Should physicians be physically active and practice good lifestyle choices to be a role model for patients?”  The reactions from others to this prompt ranged from an obvious yes to significant reservation. The time crunch argument was a big one- how can taking care of yourself be a priority when there are always more patients to see? The Hippocratic Oath does say that the patient comes before yourself but at what point should the line be drawn? Another interesting point was the liberty to separate personal life from professional life- that our own choices should be separate from what we do as a physician. However, this seems like a very grey area because they are difficult philosophies to separate.

Ultimately, nobody is obligated to be a role model but I think that it should be a considered a privilege and something to strive for.  Role models can be powerful influences on other people and communities, sometimes without even realizing it.  My Athletic Mentors teammates represent a range of occupations but have all earned a great deal of respect as professionals, people, and role models. I think a big contributing factor in this is prioritizing health and devotion to participating in and sharing their sport.

AM train

There are no absolute answers to any of these questions. However, to me it is obvious that the culture needs to change somehow. Because as much as physicians and other healthcare professionals are working and sacrificing, it is not currently reflected in better health outcomes- for patients or health professionals.  I’m not exactly sure where the changes in healthcare and medicine need to originate, but a workforce full of true role models working to shift the paradigm towards prevention would be a great start.

Team Athletic Mentors Ready to Triumph with Greenware Multisport Sponsorship

March 24th, 2017 by Team AM OAM
Watch for Team Athletic Mentors new look at a Multisport race near you this year.

Watch for Team Athletic Mentors new look at a Multisport race near you this year.

Athletic Mentors — the training and team management company responsible for getting Michigan triathletes known across the region as “podium performers” — is delighted to launch its newest team partnership catering to Michigan multisport events and active living.

The team core of Michigan amateur triathletes, cyclists, runners and Nordic skiers will be suiting up with presenter-level support from Greenware for the 2017 season. It’s the beginning of a partnership that promises to ‘keep it green’ in Michigan.

“Greenware is in it for the long haul and so are we. It’s a perfect pairing with a forward-thinking brand designed to preserve earth’s resources while providing on-the-go packaging,” said team Manger Cheryl Sherwood of Athletic Mentors.

Greenware is a registered trademark of FabriKal, a Kalamazoo packaging company that caters to restaurant, event and entertainment service with an exclusive line of annually renewable drink cups, lids, portion containers and on-the-go boxes made entirely from plants. FabriKal is privately held and home to more than 800 employees.

For 2017, Athletic Mentors has elected to be the title sponsor for the team in keeping with the expansion of its Richland training facility, which now serves both elite athletes as well as regular active lifestyle seekers. With the expansion, AM now offers adult fitness programs, classes, metabolic testing and sporting camps. Previously, Athletic Mentors has managed the award-winning Bissell cycling team, the Priority Health Team and OAM-Now.

“Athletic Mentors is in a growth phase, and there’s no better way to show people what we do than titling the team – the proof is on the podium, so to speak,” Sherwood said.  The new Athletic Mentors-Greenware Team will feature the same core of talent as prior iterations such as OAM and Priority Health teams.

“With the support of Greenware, we will take this organization to the next level in multisport performance. Our goal is to motivate Michiganders to get off the couch and hit the road or trail.”

Headed by John Kittredge, Greenware’s company ethos includes active living in Michigan’s environmentally preserved trails and natural resources.

“Anything we can do to promote active, healthy lifestyles in Michigan fits with our company mission to act responsibly as corporate citizens and contribute to both the well-being of our communities and the environment overall,” says Kittredge, himself a competitive cyclist.

“Our family has been innovative in environmental stewardship and alternate transportation, and we’d love to help motivate our employees and neighbors toward healthy lifestyles that indirectly impact both sectors. Learning to value the environment does not come from sitting on the couch,” Kittredge said.

In addition to team registration at numerous multisport events across Michigan this year, from Barry Roubaix to Michigan Titanium, the two companies also look forward to community outreach through appearances at schools, community events and athletic clinics.

For more information on Team events, opportunities or appearances, visit

For a media interview or speaker scheduling, contact
Cheryl Sherwood, Co-Owner
Athletic Mentors
or email:


Athletic Mentors LLC, is a west Michigan-based athletic training and sports management company that offers individual training, team training programs, clinics, elite hockey programs and sports management services.  For more information about Athletic Mentors or becoming a supporter, visit

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The Biggest Test Yet

August 7th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson, Team OAM NOW cyclist

Over the past several years, I’ve tackled many athletic challenges I had previously thought beyond my ability. It has been a rewarding journey and it has been fun to learn the technicalities of new sports and become involved in these communities.  However, no race or training program I’ve completed yet will compare to the challenge that is staring me in the face right now.

DrKPatOn August 1st, I began medical school at University of Michigan.  After the application process and deferring an additional year, this has been an event in the distance for so long now that it is a bit surreal that it is actually happening.

There has been a lot of information to take in and process this week but there are a couple themes I thought were especially relevant to share here.


My goal is to continue to train and make it to several mountain bike races through the fall. When I told people this leading up to the school year, I received a range of reactions from derision to support. However, after the first week of orientation, I was pleased with how much the faculty and leadership pushed the idea of balance. With startlingly high rates of burnout, job dissatisfaction and even suicide among physicians, leaders in the field are now acknowledging that the environment can be consuming and toxic. Often retaining a life outside of medicine can be the crucial component to a sustainable career.

I was happy and a bit surprised about this attitude, especially at a school like Michigan.  The real test though will come in the next several weeks and months when “drinking from the fire hose” of information begins in earnest.  My plan is to utilize an indoor trainer more and to try to be intentional and efficient with my training time.  The tricky part is there will always be more information to learn and many competing priorities and I have to figure out where to draw the line. But this line doesn’t get easier to draw after school or after residency so it is something that will take deliberate practice starting now.  This balancing act is not unique to me or medical students though. Everyone, especially people trying to balance any level of racing and training with work, family, and other obligations need to practice their own deliberate balancing act.

patterson arcadia16

Imposter syndrome

One phenomenon I have been reminded of this week is imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a term coined by two American psychologists as a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” Attending an elite medical school means I am surrounded by brilliance. It has been great to meet the people I will get to know very well over the next four years as we all take on this challenge together. However, learning about others makes it easy to fall into questioning if I deserve to be here, especially with a relatively non-traditional background.

This phenomenon can be rampant in endurance sports as well. Whether this is racing for the first time or signing up for a new discipline or race distance, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you don’t belong or are not at the same caliber of the people around you.  Confidence is a fickle friend that can be easily shaken. However, confidence is one aspect of racing that can be just as crucial to results as training or fueling.  It takes exceptional mental discipline to build and protect this confidence and use it for good and not let it grow to arrogance.

Life has changed a lot in the last month and will continue to change and evolve until I can find a rhythm and routine. My hope is I can continue to do the things I enjoy while pursuing a great field but I also realize this will likely be my biggest test yet- mentally, emotionally, and physically. I hope to capture some of my thoughts either here or on my personal blog, but no guarantees, there are only 24 hours in a day.



BTR / Maple Hills Race Weekend Highlights

July 13th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

It was a busy weekend of racing, coaching, cheering, and volunteering this weekend for Team OAM NOW who came out in force for the BTR Crit and Maple Hills Race for Wishes.  It was a big weekend as Maple Hills was the 2016  state championship road race and  BTR was the state championship criterium for women, masters and juniors.   It was a great showing for the team with a successful Friday night skills clinic to kick off the weekend and nearly every race sporting some OAM NOW blue and orange kits. The racing was highlighted by two overall state champions as well as success stories in nearly every race.

Elite Men

Guelzo podiumIn the 87 mile men’s Cat 1/2/3/ road race on Sunday, Andy Guelzo stole the show taking the win in a sprint finish from a six man breakaway.  Andy was in strong company with Tom Burke and two Bissell ABG riders Aaron Beebe and John Leach.  But Andy was patient and delivered a brilliant sprint at the line to take the win.

Dan Yankus followed closely  in a chase group taking seventh.  With teammates up the road in breaks, the rest of the mens team finished in the main field.

Sunday’s win was a big relief to the team after a disappointing showing in the crit on Saturday.  Although  OAM NOW riders were part of every breakaway throughout the race, the field came back together in the final laps.  With a large Cat 1/2/3 field and a strong wind on the backstretch of the course, positioning was everything and the team ran out of real estate on the final lap. Andy  led the team in 14th place, followed by Dan in 19th.



It was a great weekend for women’s racing with strong and deep fields lining up both days.  Road captain Marie Dershem was joined by Kaitlyn Patterson, JoAnn Cranson, Danielle Nye, Laura Melendez, and Elaine Sheikh, the biggest showing for a women’t cycling event this season.

In the 60 minute crit, Kaitlyn Patterson broke away from the field alone 15 minutes in, enduring the windy backstretch and  eventually lapping the field to take the win.  After Kaitlyn was clear from the field, Marie began attacking and also broke away to take second and first in the Cat 1 / 2 race.

In the road race, the OAM NOW women  faced a challenge with City Hub Cyclery and Hagerty fielding strong teams.  The first half of the race rolled at a pedestrian pace, with an unfortunate crash taking down Danielle Nye and several other riders.  The attacks began on the biggest climb on the second of three laps as Kaitlyn got a gap but was pulled back and the field came back together.  On the final lap, the race was neutralized during the deciding climb as the field was passed by the Masters 35+ men.  With most of the riders still together, the nuetralization drastically changed the race dynamics.  With a deciding climb rendered irrelevant and nobody willing to pull or attack, Kaitlyn drilled the last 12 miles in the attempt to thin down the field and give Marie the best chance at the win. Despite the effort, 15 women stayed intact and the title was determined in a field sprint. Marie claimed fourth and second in Cat 1 /2 with Elaine and JoAnn finishing in the top 13.

TeamOAM Women's triathletes in Michigan, managed by Athletic Mentors, elite endurance sport coaches


Maple Hills debuted a Masters 40+ womens race this year with several riders taking on the challenge after racing the morning Cat 1/2/3/4 race as well. In an impressive double, JoAnn  took the top step of the Masters race in a sprint finish after 90 miles of total racing.

Elaine was one of the only Cat 4 riders to finish with the main field in the morning and she recovered quickly to also race in the Cat 4 race in the afternoon, taking sixth. This capped off a strong weekend for Elaine, after taking third in a sprint finish in the Cat 4 race at BTR.


Masters Menstate championship

The Masters Men had strong showings all weekend.  On Saturday, Richard Landgraff rode to a 2nd place finish in in the BTR crit for the 50-54 State Championship. Leonard Van Drunen just missed the podium, taking fourth in a four man break  in the 55+ race.

 On Sunday, the 7 masters riders monitored all the moves throughout the day and the race came down to a field sprint with Jon Morgan taking second and Rich in third  place in the state championship 50+.  The team was joined by new rider John Meyers who was instrumental in countering breaks with Terry Ritter, Mark Olson and Mike Wyzalek, and perennial strongman Chris Abston.


Three OAM NOW juniors took on the tough double race weekend including new team member Joe Meyers as well as Christian Dershem and Hunter Maschke.  Joe took third at BTR and took the top step in the 15-16 age category in Sunday’s road race, Hunter joined Joe on the podium taking third.

joe meyers RR

Full BTR Criterium Results can be found here.

Full Maple Hills results can be found here. 






Birkie 2016- A Physical, Technical Test

February 22nd, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

–By Kaitlyn Patterson and Alex Vanias, OAM NOW Nordic skiers and cyclists

birkie bibs

Each American Birkebeiner has its own personality and this year’s race definitely had a volatile and unpredictable flair. Taking place every February in northern Wisconsin, the race usually occurs under ideal ski conditions- plenty of snow and temperatures in the 20s. However, this El Nino year was going to throw some curveballs.

The Birkie is the biggest cross country ski event in North America, drawing 10,000 skiers from around the country and the world. It is a bizarre and awesome phenomenon that this quirky population gathers en masse every year to race 50 kilometers between the tiny towns of Cable and Hayward. Birkie is a date circled in red on countless cross country skiers’ calendars whether they are shooting for the win and huge prize purse, an age group award, a better wave placement, or surviving  the endless hills of the Birkie trail. Everyone wants fast skis for this iconic event and when the weather creates tricky waxing conditions, it causes something close to mass hysteria. Which is exactly what happened this year.

This is not what skiers want to see 36 hours before race time!

This is not what skiers want to see 36 hours before race time!

Early in the week leading to the race, the temperatures were very cold in Hayward- down to -15 F with 2-5 inches of fresh snow. However, the weather was predicted to warm up to the upper 30s and low 40s starting on Thursday, rain on Thursday evening and Friday, and remaining above freezing for race time on Saturday. In order to protect the snow base, the fresh snow on the course was not groomed and  was closed to all skiers on Thursday and Friday. The course was not groomed until overnight on Friday before the race.

Usually at Birkie, several ski shops and wax services perform wax and ski tests all week and have a very good idea as to what is going to be fastest on race day. However, with the rapidly changing conditions and closed course, testing was of relative little value in the days before the race.  Because of the wide range of possible snow temperature and structure, the professional skiers with wax service teams prepared many possible race skis in the days leading up to the race. Eventual women’s race winner Caitlin Gregg “narrowed” her ski choices down to 13 pairs the day before the race!


Since Alex and I don’t have a service team and have six skis between us (only one pair is mine but the varying flexes means I can often benefit from his fleet) meant that we had quite the task of preparing skis that could put us in the mix of the fastest skiers in the race. In addition, we have very little experience preparing skis for warm, wet conditions as it is quite uncommon during ski season in the Midwest.

We arrived in Cable on Wednesday night and went on a quick ski to check out the snow. We were met with fast, ideal conditions and a beautiful moon. Although we were wishing the race could be held before the weather became temperamental, we had no choice but to try to make the best of what we had. On Thursday, the research began in earnest and we headed to the expo in pursuit of bibs and a couple more tricks for optimal ski prep. We did not have any liquid fluoros and determined that it would be especially beneficial to add speed early in the race and help us make the initial separations. It also could be applied immediately before the start after our warm-up was completed (“fluoro” refers to fluorine which is a negatively charged atom that repels both water and dirt which are generally negatively charged. Fluro content is especially important in wet and dirty snow- which this year’s Birkie was both. For anyone interested in the physics, check out this article). After visiting the Swix tent at the expo and several ski shops, we finally found the swix HVC liquid flouro we were looking for. It was the last in stock at our last stop and likely the only one left within a several hundred mile radius.

Anxiety levels became much lower once Alex was confident we had enough tools to prepare competitive skis. Since we arrived in Cable early, we had all day on Friday to test and prepare skis. Friday morning offered comparable temperatures to race morning and although we didn’t have access to the course, we tested on a groomed section of trail that we hoped was similar to the race course.

Where the magic happens!

Where the magic happens!

We prepared all our skis with the same molybdenum high flouro baselayer to get an idea of which skis were running best. Despite the rain on Thursday and temperatures above freezing for a full 24 hours, the trail remained firm and surprisingly fast. It was pretty clear for both of us which skis were running best- my universal flex ski with a warm grind and Alex’s universal flex with an LS1 cold grind. Although Alex has invested in his ski fleet this year including a pair of Speedmax skis meant to be optimal for Birkie, the unusual conditions unfortunately made them irrelevant.

After setting our race skis aside, we then tested waxes and topcoats on the slower skis. Alex prepared one pair with Toko high-fluoro yellow paraffin and FC10 topcoat and the other Swix HF 8 with FC8X (red) topcoat. The yellow wax is meant for wetter and warmer conditions and was running a bit faster than the red which is a bit harder wax meant for slightly cooler conditions.  However, a complicating factor was the course would be tilled before the race- possibly bringing up colder snow that was insulated underneath. But we had no idea the snow temperature or how transformed the snow would be. Despite the warm and wet conditions, we decided the added durability and potential of colder snow made the slightly harder red waxes our choice for paraffin (Swix HF8) and topcoat (FC8X). This thinking was backed up by testing and wax recommendations from other teams.

The HVC liquid flouro was the final layer and we tested it on our pre-race workout- each of us applying it to just one ski. It was noticeably faster and we were happy to see it lasted over 10-k as one drawback of many liquid fluoros is the limited durability.

However, after the testing and decision had been made, the rain began in earnest. A combination of rain and wintery mix fell much of the evening, creating a sheet of ice by the time we went to bed. With all the factors in play, Alex and I got up at 4am to check out the snow in case we had to make some last minute changes.

The course begins in a wide open field and we arrived in the pre-dawn darkness to find wet and soft conditions as the temperature remained about 38 degrees overnight. Although it was in contrast to the firm trail we had been testing on, our skis were moving well and hoped it would be enough.

The Birkie starts in waves with the elite women’s wave going off first and followed 20 minutes later by the elite men. Some years the leaders of the men’s race catch the female leaders and some years they don’t so that is almost a race in itself. The women’s elite field is very small- only about 60 racers and I was able to start on the front row of the huge start line with some of the best skiers in the world. This was probably one of the cooler moments of my ski career.

Start of the elite women's field  (Photo credit- American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation©2016)

Start of the elite women’s field
(Photo credit- American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation©2016)

Despite a front row start, I fell back in the field a bit because the opening section was quite variable with sections of soft powder and icy patches. It took me a while to find a rhythm and by that time, the lead group was off the front. However, I was able to find a good group of five women to ski with and we took turns pulling. After the starting field, the course changed to be hard packed and fast- much different than anything we had tested on but my skis were great. Because of the high speeds, drafting was crucial and it felt very much like a bike race.

Meanwhile, Alex was fighting to stay with the lead pack- dangling off the back and having to make up the gaps once guys were dropped. Since the conditions were fast, drafting became so important to the race dynamics that many guys were skipping feeds instead of risking losing the draft. Although Alex’s skis were among the fastest in the soft snow, they were too soft to be optimal for the unexpected hard-packed trail. Eventually, Alex lost the pack and joined a chase group that had formed just behind. Although the pace was comfortable in the group, a fall at about 24k caused him to lose the group. Despite chasing hard to reestablish contact, the group acted like a peloton that is essentially impossible to catch. This left Alex to race the second half alone, stuck in no-man’s land and missing the benefit of any draft.

birkie hr

TrainingPeaks tells the story better than anything else


With about 18k to go I heard the sound of the lead snowmobile and I moved over as the lead pack of about 15 guys sped by followed several minutes later by a chase pack of 10. I was bummed to not see Alex but soon after he caught me solo. I was able to match him just for a few strides but is helped me to get enough of a gap on my group that they lost my draft and I took advantage of the next several steep climbs to shake them for good.

In the final 3 kilometers racers cross Lake Hayward before finishing on Main Street in Hayward. The recent rain made for a slushy crossing with some ankle deep standing water which made for an especially challenging final push to the finish.

The American Birkebeiner finishes in downtown Hayward to a extremely supportive crowd

The American Birkebeiner finishes in downtown Hayward to a extremely supportive crowd

Alex stopped the clock at 2:14:09 averaging over 14 mph for 31 miles, claiming 25th place and 13th American in a very competitive international field. I finished in 2:40:24, taking 18th in the women’s race as the 12th American. We were the first male and female finishers from Michigan including both upper and lower peninsulas. It was also an improvement over last year’s Birkie finish for both of us.

Both men’s and women’s overall titles were won by Americans as Caitlin Gregg won her fourth Birkie title and David Norris overtook six Europeans in the final kilometer for an upset win.

Although we had both been hoping to crack the top ten, the course conditions did not play to our strengths and we were somewhat limited by a small fleet of skis. Considering the challenges of the weekend, it was a very solid showing from both of us.

Jon Morgan also represented Team OAM Now, skiing out of wave 1 and finished his 24th! Birkie in 2:53:26. Jon was content with his race considering the unrelenting hills of the course and the rebuilding he has had to do this year after his hamstring injury last year at Noque.

Team OAM Now taking advantage of the trails to ski and test before the race!

Team OAM Now taking advantage of the trails to ski and test before the race!


The ski season is almost done for the nordic team with only two more race weekends. This weekend is Black Mountain in Cheboygan followed by Great Bear Chase in Calumet the first weekend in March.


The complete searchable Birkie results can be found here and an article about the winners by FasterSkier.

Nordic Immersion- Watching, Writing, and Racing

January 13th, 2016 by Kaitlyn Patterson

-By Kaitlyn Patterson, OAM NOW Nordic Skier and Cyclist

To kick off 2016 I made the trek to Houghton, Michigan to attend U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships (also known as U.S. Nationals) held the first week in January. But instead of lining up as a competitor, my job was to be a professional observer for the week.  Since November I have been writing for FasterSkier, one of the primary sources of North American cross country ski news. I mostly cover World Cup events remotely but since U.S. Nationals were held in the Midwest, I got my first shot at on-site reporting.

Nationals consists of four days of racing including an interval start race (racers go off one by one and race the clock, just like a time trial), two days of head to head sprint racing, and a mass start distance race. The event is held early in the season because it allows athletes a chance to qualify to represent the U.S. in international competition the remainder of the season. Since it is held so early, I didn’t plan on racing to give me more time to transition to ski season after an intense fall of cycling. However, teammate Alex Vanias prioritized roller skiing all summer and fall and would compete in the 30-kilometer mass start freestyle event despite having only one week of on-snow training prior to the race.

Michigan Tech did an amazing job hosting the event with limited snow and skiers from all over the U.S. and Canada converged in Houghton. I enjoy watching races almost as much as I enjoy competing and I got to see some great battles. I also had a chance to meet some really impressive, down to earth athletes and coaches including another Caitlin Patterson of the nordic ski world who had a great weekend and won both distance races (together we confuse a lot of people).  Our hotel was filled with skiers making for a fun and quirky place to hang out. Basically the week could be best described as doing quirky things in a quirky place with quirky people.  And it was great.

My FasterSkier partner Gabby and I even had official "media" bibs allowing us access to any part of the course.

My FasterSkier partner Gabby and I even had official “media” bibs allowing us on any part of the course

On my “days off” from race reporting I got to enjoy some of the best skiing in the Midwest at the Michigan Tech trails. We also had amazing weather with temps between 15 and 30 degrees and a couple days of sunshine!


Ski trails the width of a highway!

Ski trails the width of a highway!

Enjoying the Houghton sunshine!

Enjoying the Houghton sunshine!


Finally the day of the mass start freestyle event arrived.  It was a great field and I was excited to watch the race up front and see what Alex could do. The day didn’t disappoint with an impressive win by Tad Elliott who came back from a rough couple years battling mono and Epstein-Barr virus.  Alex moved up from starting position 76 to finish 43rd against a talented field of collegiate and professional athletes.

Alex competing in the 30k freestyle at U.S. Nationals

Alex competing in the 30k freestyle at U.S. Nationals

After watching races all week and feeling great skiing, I was itching to race. Alex planned on racing the 42k event at the SISU Ski Fest in Ironwood two days after his 30k. After working out some logistics, I decided I could join him and return to Houghton to wrap up U.S. Nats reporting.

Ironwood is a small, old mining town on the border of Wisconsin with strong Finnish history. Everyone is incredibly friendly and the town rolls out the red carpet for racers including traditional stew and pasties at the “Finnish” line. Hundreds of snow-deprived skiers from across the Midwest arrived excited for the new snow and great racing conditions.

Sisu is a Finnish word meaning determination, bravery, and resilience. 

Sisu is a Finnish word meaning determination, bravery, and resilience.

The course wound through the ABR trail system before heading north to finish in downtown Ironwood.  Both Alex and I started in the elite wave and after narrowly avoiding a pileup in the first 100 meters, we were off!

I settled in a train of guys along with the one other female. It was great to be racing again but I noticed pretty early in the race that I had underestimated the stress of skiing and working all week. I attempted to ski relaxed but the spent too much time accelerating and trying to pass other racers on the narrow trail. At about 30k, the first female took off and by the time I passed the racer in between us and began chasing, she was out of sight. I had also fallen behind in my fuel intake and sat in the back of the train to regroup.  I was able to rally but it was a bit too little, too late and I finished second- just over a minute off the lead.  The winner was Jan Guenther, an accomplished skier and triathlete who also owns Gear West- the biggest nordic ski shop in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Alex was fighting a much tighter battle for the win against Matt Leibsch. Matt is one of the top cross country racers in the country with a previous Birkie win and a two top-10 results at U.S. Nationals this week.  Alex and Matt dropped the field early and despite Matt’s efforts to drop him, Alex was skiing strong and it became apparent it would come down to the finishing kick.  Matt overtook Alex the last kilometer to win by just 18 seconds.

SISU 42k freestyle men's podium. The quick lumberjack is Matt Liebsch, followed by Alex Vanias, and Nicholas Power. (Photo: Vic Calore)

SISU 42k freestyle men’s podium. The quick lumberjack is Matt Liebsch, followed by Alex Vanias, and Nicholas Power. (Photo: Vic Calore)

It was a great two races for Alex and a testament to his off-season training and potential for the season. It was an epic week for both of us and I’m excited that winter has finally arrived in Traverse City so we can train and race!

The OAM Nordic Team will be back in action this Saturday, January 16 for the Cote Dame Marie in Grayling, right in the backyard of our ski shop sponsor- Cross Country Ski Shop!

Results for U.S. Nationals 30k freestyle

Results for SISU Ski Fest

Tough Training Lessons from Strava

January 12th, 2016 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Elaine Sheikh, Team OAM Now Multi-sport Athlete

unnamedWhen I first started becoming serious about endurance sports a few years ago, several cyclists I rode with on Tuesday nights mentioned using Strava.  I really had no idea how it worked. For me, training consisted of swimming, cycling, and running basically whenever I felt like it, and mixing in body weight workouts and yoga to keep everything fresh. When other athletes suggested I make an account and upload my workouts, “Not for me,” I replied. “I have limited data and I use Apple Maps so I won’t get lost. I have it on my little wireless cateye computer and I pop it into my excel spreadsheet so I can make sure I’m biking enough.”

That was the attitude I had until I began veterinary school at Michigan State University. There, I met some intense triathletes who really encouraged me to get Strava. “We have an MSU Tri Club Strava group! We can all keep tabs on each other! It’s really fun!”  I caved. I learned how to upload activities from my watch so that I didn’t have to use my phone. I manually entered swims. And, I started tracking other athletes. While I know Strava is great for some people, it was, undoubtedly, one of the worst decisions I made in my triathlon journey.

Still, I learned a lot in the year and a half that I used Strava on a regular basis. I want to share those lessons so that others can learn how to avoid the pitfalls of any form of social networking focused on training. Again, I think Strava is a great tool for many people, and I don’t want to minimize that in any way. However, it’s like diet. Some athletes thrive on a vegan diet. Some swear by a high-fat, low-carb approach. Others perform well on just about anything they want to eat. Every athlete is different physically, mentally, and spiritually, so take anyone’s advice with a grain of salt. What works for me may or may not work for you.  Here’s what I learned:
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Giving Back: Getting by with a little help from the elves

January 3rd, 2016 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Jim Allan, Team OAM Now Cyclist
line up at startA December holiday ritual for members and friends of the OAM NOW/ATHLETIC MENTORS Team is the annual Elves and More Bicycle Build. The Elves and More West Michigan organization raises funds to purchase bicycles that are assembled by volunteers and then distributed into an undisclosed neighborhood to boys and girls. Their involvement and record is impressive as described in the background information:

“In the last eleven years, Elves & More- West Michigan has provided 11,800 new bikes and helmets and 3,300 treasure bags of toys and needed items to all the children in the ten neighborhoods of Grand Rapids.  With the financial help of many generous people and companies and the continuous efforts of our volunteers, we expect another amazing year.”

pic from alanAfter dressing for the task in festive Christmas caps and capturing the obligatory pre-event photo, the team went right to work assembling the bicycles. A nice group attended the event including: Leonard Van Drunen, Pete Chadwick, Steve Schousen, Jim Allan, Dan Gauthier, Roxane Kippen, Danielle Nye, Mike Hoogerland, Greg Neagos, Paul and Steve Buccella, Jim Fottis, Dave Newton, Alan and Mari-Megan Moore.There is usually a re-training period for the returning alumni as well as​ tips for the newbies and, after a little startup balancing of assignments, the work table and surrounding work stands become a whirlwind of activity. It doesn’t matter what your skillset is coming into this event, everyone leaves with an appreciation for all aspects of bicycle construction.
building bikes 1 croppedThe whole process is dependent upon on-the-job training and, as such, a few bikes are returned until all the requirements are met.
It is always gratifying to see Steve Buccella’s father Paul, who is approaching 95 years old and is now​ in his second year of helping us, happily pitching in to help unpack the bicycles and prepare them for assembly.
Our method of counting the completed bicycles included a flaw, so we have to estimate that in a (90) minute period our team assembled in excess of (120) bicycles. The total output of all teams was in excess of (1100) bicycles.
DCIM123GOPROAnd this event is not all work and no play, since we always follow with a conversational ride to Rockford for lunch and then further up the White Pine Trail. Unfortunately, we were met again by rain, so this year we were more attentive and turned around before reaching the 25 mile point.
finished bikes 2All in all, it’s an outstanding way to spend a Saturday with great team mates to benefit an outstanding cause and have a lot of fun while connecting with community.

Pro Bike: Kaitlyn Patterson’s Winning LIV Lust 27.5

December 14th, 2015 by Erin Young

By Terry Ritter

Few mountain bikes come from the dealer ready to race. Even the highest level models need some adjustments or small equipment swaps to meet the racer’s build, style, and preference. But, what happens when a rider buys a mid-level, quality-designed bike with no real intent on high level racing and then finds herself quickly ascending through the sport over the next 18 months? In the case of Team OAM NOW rider Kaitlyn Patterson‘s full suspension Giant, it meant lots of changes.

This rig netted a slew of podiums, including wins at Ore to Shore, Peak to Peak, and 2nd and 5th, respectively, at Chequamegon 40.

This rig netted a slew of podiums in ’15, including wins at: Ore to ShorePeak2PeakGravel Grinder and 2nd and 5th, respectively, at Chequamegon 40 and Iceman.

A Rocks Brothers post reduces weight and adds some style. KP like her Salle Italia SLR Lady saddle. Pit stop sealant handles the little punctures.

Rock Brothers post reduces weight and offset, and adds some style. KP likes her Selle Italia SLR Lady saddle. Pit Stop sealant handles the little punctures.

Stan's ZTR Podium 27.5 wheels are run tubeless with sealant, wrapped by Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires, chosen for their great all-around performance.

Stan’s ZTR Podium 27.5 wheels are run tubeless with sealant, wrapped by 2.25 Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires, chosen for their great all-around performance. KP ran them at 18 and 22 psi (F/R) for Iceman. The Q15mm front hub keeps steering stiff and responsive.

KP's bike started as a LIV Lust 2. The award winning Maestro suspension gives 4 inches of quality travel and the 27.5 wheels quick reflexes and big wheel stability.

KP’s bike started as a LIV Lust 2, size Medium. The award winning Maestro suspension gives 4 inches of quality travel and the 27.5 wheels offer light weight, quick reflexes and big wheel stability.

Front Wheel C RS

Rock Shox XX fork holds up the front. A hydraulic suspension lockout can firm up both ends of the suspension. The OEM Shimano caliper clamps an Alligator Windcutter rotor.

The cockpit is set up with 22 inch Truvativ Noir carbon straight bars, Shimano Deore brake levers, a SRAM XO rotary shifter and stock grips. The lockout is to the left. A Garmin 520 notifies of additional Strava segments mastered.

The cockpit is set up with 22 inch Truvativ Noir carbon straight bars, Shimano Deore brake levers, a SRAM XO rotary shifter and stock grips. The lockout is to the left.

The Lust uses a hydro formed Aluxx Aluminum frame for stiffness, with Giant's 3F, women's specific geometry.

The Lust uses a hydroformed Aluxx aluminum frame for light weight and stiffness, with Giant’s 3F, women’s specific geometry. A Blackburn carbon cage does water bottle duty and a XX shock provides the rear suspension.

For a more athletic posture, the Lust swapped the original stem for a 90 x 30 degree Contact SL, run inverted. A mounted Garmin 520 notifies of additional Strava segments mastered.

For a more athletic posture, the Lust swapped the original stem for a 90 x 30 degree Contact SL, run inverted. A mounted Garmin 520 notifies of additional Strava segments mastered.

The Lust was converted to a 1x system, with a 32t RaceFace chainring mounted to the OEM SRAM S1000 crank arms, gold KMC chain, and SRAM PG1070 10spd, 11-36t cassette. A SRAM X9 derailuer handles the shifting and the OEM Shimano caliper clamps a SRAM rotor.

The Lust was converted to a 1x system, with a 32t RaceFace chainring mounted to the OEM SRAM S1000 crank arms, gold KMC chain with Squirt Wet lube, and SRAM PG1070 10spd, 11-36t cassette. A SRAM X9 derailuer handles the chain movement, with an OEM Shimano caliper clamping a SRAM rotor.

When the modifications were done*, Kaitlyn had personalized her Lust to get the most from the responsive frame. Only the brake caliper and levers, crankarms and grips remained from the original purchase.  And if you’ve followed Kaitlyn at all this season, you can’t argue this is one fast bike!

* Kaitlyn would like to give a great thanks to Team OAM NOW team mate Alex Vanias for all the work he did wrenching on her bike and making it the race winning machine it is.





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