Women

Capturing Rob

October 28th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

Is it a race without Rob, Mortimer and dog snouts? Racers can catch a glimpse of Rob Meendering, Rob Meendering Photography, behind trees or right in the middle of the road, not moving as the bikes whistle by. I had the opportunity to talk with Rob and get his story.

As a teen and in his early 20s Rob wanted to be anywhere other than Michigan. He had always had an interest in photography and took photos during the time he traveled. He had cheap cameras during this time and even used throw away cameras. Eventually, his very nice in-laws who spoil him, bought him a nice lens. 

Rob told the story of being a regular smoker and drinker. He drove an old jeep and worked at a garage. When gas prices went up to $4, he bought a Cannondale mountain bike to get to work and back. One day, he had the bike on the back of his jeep and a family member said he was going to ride Yankee and invited Rob to join. He said he hit every tree and took over 2 hours to ride 1 lap. His wife was a runner and swimmer so they decided to train for a triathlon. Rob decided to get a road bike and coincidentally, he lived 5 doors down from Ada Bike Shop manager, Steve Kunnath. Steve was so energetic and his enthusiasm got Rob excited about riding. He did his first 30 mile ride and joined the Founders team.

Rob started taking his camera to races. After he had finished his race, he would take “really cool” pictures of his teammates. It didn’t take long for race promoters to invite Rob to be the race photographer. He described himself as a “caveman with a camera”. Rob is now an icon at cycling races. I asked him about his favorite moments. He said he loves what he does so much, there isn’t 1 thing. He loves watching folks accomplish something they didn’t think was possible. He enjoys being in the woods, being a part of the experience, seeing his nephew, bad a$$ cyclist, Logan Barksdale,  as well as friends. “It’s always great to see Matt Acker and seeing him win.” Another highlight was when Alexy Vermeulen won the Iceman Cometh 2019. Rob was able to chase him with the camera. Another meaningful memory for

Photo taken by Rob Meendering

Rob was when he was asked to shoot Peak to Peak. Rob had broken his leg in August (riding a bike, of course) and was still wearing a big boot. He told Ted Peacock that he could sit at the finish line. Rob got to the race, ready to shoot the finish line when Joel Voss said he would be chasing Marie and Brandon around the course and invited Rob to ride with him. Rob hopped in with Joel and was able to get pictures from the course. That memory and story is touching for so many of us. 

I asked about the dogs. Rob was playing around with a wide angle lens and trying new shots. A dog walked right into the lens and a new category was formed. We all love seeing the pictures of fur friends at the races. Rob will be happy to talk about his rescue pit, Simon. (The Mortimer story is a fun one as well).

There was so much more to our conversation, it was a fun and interesting conversation. It is obvious that Rob loves being out there, taking photos and allowing us all to share our memories. He stated several times that he would never deny how fortunate he is. We are so fortunate to have him out there with us.


Meet Charlotte Rosinski

October 21st, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Charlotte Wright-Rosinski

Hi, my name is Charlotte Rosinski and I’m from Highland, Michigan. I’m currently 14 years old and in 9th grade at Milford High School with a few other members from Team Athletics Mentors Junior Development (TAMJD). I’ve been cycling since I was in 3rd grade, but I guess I’ve been on a bike longer than the 3rd grade. I would say that the spark for cycling really started the summer after 3rd grade, when I joined my school district’s mountain bike club where I was able to learn skills that have stuck with me and made many friends that have also stuck with me.

I have raced with MiSCA since I started mountain biking on the Huron Valley United Racing team, and in the 2021 season I achieved the Advanced Middle School Girls Champion title. I’m currently racing on the HVUR Varsity team. This is my first year on TAM Junior Development, and I joined because many of my friends on HVUR had either joined or suggested that I should join the team. I was really drawn to the team because I felt like I had continuously been growing as a cyclist, but I really needed people to help direct my growth which I feel the TAMJD team has really helped with.

My goals for races overall this year are to try to learn a bit more about racing and place well. To be more specific, I want to do well in the elite category at Peak2peak and try to win my age group at Iceman. Similar to the non-MiSCA races this year I want to place 3rd overall and top 5 per year, but I also want to treat this year as a learning experience. I’ve been racing the Varsity category as a freshman with people who are a few years older and I guess you could say “wiser” in racing than me, so I’m really just excited to be racing people that I looked up to just a couple of years ago.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite riding place but I would probably say either Pontiac Lake, Highland, or any of the trails the team rode in Colorado during the Fort Lewis College camp we attended this summer . My favorite race that I have done is probably the USA Cycling MTB Nationals or the USAC/UCI Englewood races that I, and the members of the Junior Development team, visited this year. My favorite thing about riding is that it has made me closer with a lot of people and I have loved the places I have gotten to go to that I probably would never have gone to, like Brevard, North Carolina where we had our TAMJD training camp in March this year.

My favorite things about racing go hand-in-hand with simply riding, but with that I have loved seeing how much I have improved over time and all of the opportunities I have gotten just from racing that I am so grateful for. This year with cycling I have been able to do my first road race and gravel races, and I would really like to try to do more gravel and road racing because so far I’ve really enjoyed them and their atmosphere. Racing has become an outlet for me and I’m so grateful for the things I’ve learned about myself from it, like the fact that I am very competitive and won’t give up, I have to use proper nutrition, and I like to be very talkative with my competitors/friends after races, not before. Thanks to TAMJD, I have noticed growth in my riding and racing that I don’t think I could’ve accomplished as quickly alone.


Beyond The Gravel

October 20th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

Photo by: Laura Caprara

By:  Christina Vipond

The first time I raced Uncle John’s Gravel Race, I was tooling along by myself about 16 miles per hour thinking I was going really fast. I climbed the hill to the finish line expecting champagne to be sprayed all over me and saw what looked like 1000 racers who had already finished. 

Lesson:1  I wasn’t “really fast”. Lesson 2: I had a lot to learn about racing.

The Michigan Gravel Race Series provides a great opportunity to experience different courses. Melting Mann kicked off the season with an overnight rain and drop in temperature which made for a chilly and leg zapping peanut butter road ride. A very nice volunteer was excited to tell me I only had 10 miles left. I tried to hide my true emotions with a smile and a thank you. 

Photo by: Laura Caprara

Barry welcomed us with a snowy start and a new, uphill finish. Lowell-it’s always nice to get to the bridge. I had to miss Hart Hills this year due to mechanical issues with both bikes at the same time. A racer can never have too many backup bikes. Waterloo was memorable with  lots of water bottle sucking potholes. The Cow Pie Classic added a 2nd farm, those trails always add adventure. Arcadia Grit and Gravel and Lord of the Springs are short but both pack a powerful punch. This year’s MGRS season ended with Uncle John’s and a new, straight up the grassy hill climb for the finish. The MGRS awards were held at the Moran 166. Although this  wasn’t part of the long or short course, it was the final ultra race. The 66 mile course was beautiful with leaves just beginning to turn and racers talked non stop about the infamous snowmobile trail. The weather was perfect, it was a great way to end the series. 

Photo by: Rob Meendering

It doesn’t take long to recognize the same faces at the races. The men are always helpful with “hop on my wheel” and “hey, we raced together at ___”.  Rob Meendering is always in the middle of the road, shouting encouragement as he captures the action. As nice as all that is, there seems to be a special bond with the women.  As competitive as the women are, they are also very encouraging.  There is chit chat during warm up rides, wishing each other good luck and a safe ride.  Some of my biggest competitors are some of my greatest friends. We stay at each other’s houses during race weekends, ride together for fun and share stories about our families. I was talking with another female racer about the relationships we build, she said her husband, who also races, just doesn’t understand it. For many of us, it goes beyond the gravel. 

 

 


Finding Balance from a Junior Athlete

May 9th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Nya Caldwell

Hello, my name is Nya Caldwell and I am 14 years old. Currently, I’m a 9th grader at Milford High School. I have always been a multi-sport athlete and have been riding bikes for as long as I can remember. This past fall I was on my high school’s scholastic mountain bike team, which is a combined team made up of cyclists from surrounding high schools.

In the winter I transitioned to boarder cross, (or snowboard cross). Boarder cross is a snowboard competition, where 4-6 competitors race down a course simultaneously. This was an exciting new sport for me, which allowed me to expand my snowboarding skills along with providing a different racing experience.

Everyone in my family either races, or rides for enjoyment. When I was 9 I joined Huron Valley Mountain Bike Club. We met every Thursday night for rides and to work on skills. This experience introduced me to MiSCA and mountain bike racing. That fall I had my first race, and it was at Island Lake Recreation Area. I didn’t know what to expect, but it ended up being really fun. That was the start of my love for racing. In 7th grade I was the MiSCA Middle School State Champion, and in 2021 I achieved the MiSCA JV State Championship title.

For the upcoming school year, I will be competing on HVUR’s Varsity team, and my goal is to have a strong season with a few podium finishes. I am excited to be competing alongside a great group of friends and cyclists.

This is my first year with Team Athletic Mentors. I first became aware of the team a few years ago, through my cousin Kellen. His success has inspired me to reach a higher level in cycling. My goal for my high school cycling career is to keep progressing to the next level in the sport. I love riding trails, so I would love to become better at skills. I want to challenge myself mentally and physically, which will help me in many aspects of life outside of cycling. Coming into this cycling season, I am hopeful that the demands of my other sports activities will allow me to transition smoothly back into cycling. I wasn’t able to put many hours into off-season training on my bike, but have confidence that my other athletic endeavors will help me get up to speed.

Last month I participated in my first gravel race, Barry-Roubaix. This was also my first race as a part of Team Athletic Mentors. It was a freezing cold day, with temperatures dipping into the 30’s, strong winds, and snowy weather conditions. Before the race we gathered as a team for a warm-up ride. Right away, I knew that I didn’t have the proper gloves to keep my hands warm. My hands were getting stiff, and painfully stinging. This was after only being on the bikes for 4-miles! This wasn’t going to work for an 18-mile race in winter-like weather. Luckily, a very helpful gentleman in the team tent lent me his gloves, which worked much better for me. Lesson number one, come prepared for everything and try out your gear before race-day!

It was so cool to line up at the start as a team. There were a lot of juniors in black and yellow kits and we were all experiencing the race-line jitters together. Everyone was so supportive of one another, offering advice and positive words of encouragement. It was such a great experience and all of my teammates were so supportive. The race was a huge success for the team, winning the junior team division. I managed to pull off a first in the 18 and under female category, which was an unexpected result. I was happy with how the race went and look forward to coming back next year.

The thing that I enjoy most about racing is the rush that I get after the ride. Often butterflies and anxiety can be distractions leading up to a race. I like to listen to my favorite playlist beforehand to help calm my nerves and get me hyped up. Once I take off from the start line I try to focus on a good cadence and any riders ahead of me. When the race is over, I always have a feeling of relief knowing that no matter the outcome I tried my best.

This Spring, I am on my school’s JV lacrosse team and on the Athletic Mentors Junior Development Team. Balancing multiple sports throughout the year, and the academic demands of high school can be challenging. However, participating in many different athletic disciplines is a lot of fun and I enjoy them all. The key to success is finding the right balance.


What I Learned About Heart Rates & Training

April 21st, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

Before I started racing, I used a bicycle computer to tell me how fast I was cruising and how many miles I had ridden. I never wore a heart rate monitor. When I started racing, I began wearing a heart rate monitor, using a power meter and using Zwift for off season training. My data showed my heart rate would quickly pop up to the 180s and even into the 190s during hard efforts. According to exercising heart rate zones, 220-your age, my max heart rate should only be 175. 

I was amazed at the number of people who looked at my heart rate during rides (on STRAVA or Zwift) and commented on the numbers; “Look at your heart rate!” “Why is your heart rate so high?”  Several people had advice for me, I heard “you haven’t trained enough” (8000 miles a year apparently isn’t enough training), “you are overtrained”, “you are working too hard”, “your heart rate shouldn’t be that high”, “you should go to the doctor to get that checked”. I was assured that my heart rate is just naturally higher when I am riding. Still, I would question how I felt when I was riding with a heart rate of 183. I was definitely working but I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out. I was also embarrassed as others would say, “man, my heart rate is only 130”. 

I am now into my third year of training and racing. My heart rate still pops into the 180s with hard efforts. As I was researching “normal” heart rates, I had the opportunity to talk with Mark Olson, Athletic Mentors co-founder and expert in the field of strength and conditioning.  I was relieved to hear we have similar heart rates. He explained heart rates are very individual and that there shouldn’t be any comparison to anyone else’s heart rate.

Mark defined the lactic threshold heart rate for me. A simplified definition of Lactate threshold is the level at which the intensity of exercise causes lactate to accumulate in the blood at a faster rate than it can be removed, making it the border between low- and high-intensity work.  According to various research articles, lactate threshold for an untrained person usually coincides with 50-60 percent of VO2 max, ranging up to 85-95 percent of VO2 max for an elite athlete. Mark explained that the lactic threshold heart rate is how hard an athlete can ride for an hour.  The number is individual and should only be compared to that athlete. For example, if an untrained athlete does a test, trains then does the test again, it is expected the lactic heart rate will improve and increase. Once an athlete is trained, there will be little movement in the heart rate number.  He said that the lactic threshold heart rate is really an input number, the power created is the output number. The heart rate number alone is useless.

Together, we looked at my FTP (Functional Threshold Power) rides that I had done over the past 3 years to estimate my lactate threshold. The data from these tests showed that while my heart rate did not change at FTP, my power went up, reiterating that my heart rate number by itself is meaningless and that my training is improving my fitness.  This information has given me confidence and the ability to explain that my heart rate is okay to those who have shown concern. I also have insight to the reasoning behind, as well as the importance of training rides of lengths, power and cadence parameters. This information has piqued my interest in the “why” and “how” of training. There is still so much more for me to learn.


How Mountain Biking Has Enhanced My Life

February 15th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Elizabeth DeFauw

Hello! My name is Elizabeth DeFauw and I am 17 years old. I am a junior (11th grade) in high school taking online courses from Home School Legal Defense Academy (HSLDA) and Memoria Press Academy. Homework fills, 8-10 hours,  of my day with studying, quizzes, tests, and several various homework assignments. It is not fun to study but…  my free time is always amazing! I spend my precious free-time cycling, skiing, seeing my amazing friends, reading Scripture and praying, or hanging out, playing games with family. I absolutely love to be active in almost any sort or fashion. Before I got hooked on biking, I had tried multiple different activities and sports, such as Krav Maga Israeli war/self-defense, dance, swim team, and such. None of them can be compared with biking (and skiing).

I am currently a Varsity rider in MISCA. I started racing in 2020 for Huron Valley United Racing and achieved 2nd overall in Junior Varsity and advanced to Varsity in Orange Krush Cycling Club for 2021 season. I earned podium twice in Varsity, 4th in Heritage Park Race and 5th in the Milford Time Trial. I won the fall 34 miles Lowell Classic, which was my first gravel race. It was a super muddy but absolutely amazing race!

Lowell Gravel Race

I was prompted twice to join Team Athletic Mentors and did. I am excited to be a part of the group, especially after meeting everyone officially and personally. I hope to continue to develop as a rider, achieve goals, and inspire others to pursue their passion. Team Athletic Mentors has already encouraged me to train harder! I will do my best to contribute and encourage the team I am now a part of and represent.

4th Place Finish

How I Got Into Mountain Biking:

Note: During this time, in 2020, the covid-19 lockdown took place. This stopped several activities I enjoyed because of their restrictions.  This made life extremely isolating, difficult, “inactive,” and kind of depressing since everything I used to do and the people I used to be with was stripped away. However, as I have learned, the conclusion of my former life was for a new and good purpose. 

I was introduced to mountain biking in July of 2020 during one of the two usual family week-trips to the Upper Peninsula. We met up with a few longtime friends and they invited me to go riding with them on the Point Trail in Copper Harbor. At first, I was a bit nervous because I had only ridden a few trails in the Lower Peninsula, and I knew they had been riding for years. All anxiety altered into exhilaration and a feeling of freedom at the start of the flowy downhill. The trail was decently technical for a “first ride,” but I managed almost every section. I threw any potential fear behind me (I do not remember being afraid once) and dove right into anything thrown at me. We reached the end of the Point Trail (half-way point for the trip), ate, and looked for agates (I am a rock-hunter).  We continued our journey back to town. It was mostly uphill going back. Endurance and solid effort were required, but I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of endurance and proceeded onward.  After the ride, I felt on fire (both figuratively, and, for my muscles, literally)! I completed 20 miles that day. We also went riding the next day and, afterward, was encouraged to join MISCA, which I did with much enthusiasm. I was driven from then on, feeling like I had something to strive for; something I could put my passion and competitive nature into.

Biking is more than a sport to me. It significantly changed my lifestyle and mindset for the better. Through cycling, I have met amazing people (some of which I would consider to be good friends) and have had some of the best experiences of my life! It has inspired me to  push myself to go beyond my limits to achieve goals. This is not just confined to athletic goals, but also career and personal goals. I was determined then, but I feel all the more determined now.  I’m looking forward to an incredible 2022 year!

 


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

November 4th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Raquel Torres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mackinac Island Swim

August 31st, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Dawn Hinz

What do you consider a “long” swim? Anything over a mile? How about 2 or 3 miles? Or have you ever done a point to point swim? Is it crazy to swim 8.2 miles around Mackinac Island? Yes it is. Crazy, exciting and beautiful!

The event starts on the shoreline in front of the Grand Hotel and then goes clockwise around Mackinac Island to Mission Point Resort. (Optional to swim around marker buoys near the harbor to make up for not being allowed to swim through the harbor itself.) Water conditions could be wavy and rough or flat, cold or not as cold but crystal clear and rocky. You could stand or reach shore quickly if you wanted a standing break.

A storm blew through the night before the race bringing 4-6’ waves but luckily calmed down by race start. Lake Huron was an enjoyable 68*. 237 swimmers entered the water two by two. Miles 1-2 had a gentle head on current. That current increased over miles 3-4 and then disappeared for miles 5-8, except the last 350 yards from finish. There it pushed you to the final buoy and I had to dig deep to make the final surge back to the finish line. Garmin officially recorded 13,532 yards, about 1000 yards shy of 8.2 miles. Views of the Island were beautiful and you could use various points to sight. The crystal clear water allowed you to see all the rocks and boulders and old logs beneath the surface, along with numerous tiny fish. Oddly enough M-Dot had road construction in the middle of our swim course. They were unloading rocks from a barge at mile 3.5 to repair the road that goes around the Island.

Training for this distance meant swimming 10,000+ yards, broken over 3-4 swims weekly since February with a lot of emphasis on technique. It also meant getting into open water by late May to acclimate to cold water. Long continuous swims started in June at 2 miles and increased mile by mile up to 7 miles in August. If I could go back I would add a few 3 mile pool swims in before hitting the open water.

Are you up for the challenge of a distance swim? There’s actually a few in Michigan. Swim to the Moon offers distances from 0.5 miles to 10,000 yards through a few connected inland lakes. Mackinac Island Swim can be taken on by individuals or relay teams. The Mighty Mac Swim across the Straits of Mackinac will hopefully return in 2021. It’s a 4 mile swim but is more like swimming 5+ miles due to the currents and there is no bottom to touch for a break. 

If you do take on a long distance swim I recommend starting with technique improvement. Bad form over miles and miles could cause a major injury. Follow a solid training plan or work with an experienced coach who can improve your technique and give you an individualized plan. Also, swim in conditions that closely match your event and practice your nutrition.  Happy Swimming, Coach Dawn 


The Divide – Gravel Road Race

August 24th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

The Divide began in 2015 by Jeff Harding and Don Passenger as a fundraiser for Manton Public School’s Cross Country and track teams. It is held the last Sunday of July and is part of the Michigan Gravel Road Series.  

The Divide offers something for all gravel enthusiasts with 3 route options:

  • 19 miles with 1330 feet of elevation change
  • 34 miles with 1987 feet of elevation change
  • 50 miles with 2292 feet of elevation change.

There is an outer loop that the 34 mile course completes one time and the 50 mile racers get to experience it twice. The outer lap is ridden in opposite directions every year to vary the terrain profile. All routes begin and end on paved roads in Manton, Michigan. Around the 3 mile mark, these roads turn to mostly hard packed gravel with “a little two-track” and “a little sand”  for a scenic ride on the outskirts of the Manistee National Forest.

The Divide is a great race for gravel, mountain and fat tire bikes. As with so many other races, The Divide will leave racers wondering if they are riding the right size tire for the course. 

Jeff, Don and their volunteers (including the cross country and track teams) were top notch with ice cold drinks and freeze pops at all aid stations. The course was well marked with signs and volunteers were stationed throughout the course to make sure racers stayed on course. Photographers volunteered their time and posted over 1000 photos that racers could share for free. 

This year’s race took place on Sunday, July 25th. Jeff and Don, as always, did a great job of posting on The Divide’s Facebook to keep racers up to date. A post on July 22nd, updated the course conditions.  It was reported that the roads were recently brined and the outer loop was rolling “faster than ever”. Then the news about the infamous Gilbert Corners, a section of sandy two-track that keeps racers guessing about their bike choice.  The 19 milers could expect some sand at the bottom of the downhills. The 34 milers would ride this 3-4 mile section mostly uphill on their way back into town. The 50 milers would get to ride this section both out and back. There will be some “sketchy downhills” on the way out and “on the way back the sand at the bottom of those downhills will zap your legs before the punchy uphills challenge your will power”. There was a July 24th update post reporting the rain had made the washouts on Gilbert Corners a little bigger. “Caution Ahead” signs were put out throughout the course with a Facebook posted warning “when you see a caution sign, we mean it!”

 

Athletic Mentors represented well in the race with athletes using a variety of tire sizes.

  • Jared Dunham took 3rd overall in the 50 mile race. He rode 42cc but felt he would have been fine on 40cc tires. Jared said he feels like the sand made a few of the hills more challenging but you don’t need a big tire to ride the course. He further stated that “The Divide may be 50 miles but it’s probably the most memorable 50 mile race course I’ve done so far.” He thought it was a good race, very hilly with some sand thrown in.
  • Terry Ritter took top spot in the 50+ class for the 50 mile on 36cc tires. He felt the course conditions were excellent; right direction and plenty of heavy rain the day before.
  • Hunter Post took 1st in his age group and 4th overall in the 50 mile race, racing 40 cc tires. He also felt the rain helped firm up the sand, but the depth was still energy draining. Particularly on the 2nd lap, once the sand was chewed up by other riders. Hunter liked the direction of this year’s outer loop as well.
  • Melanie Post took 1st in her age group for the 34 mile race. Melanie  raced on 40 cc tires and stated she also liked the route this year. “The sandy climbs were definitely the most challenging part of the course, aside from just the elevation gain in general. The course was very well marked with great volunteers as always.”
  • I raced the 50 mile route on 36cc tires and finished 2nd overall for women. Choosing lines on the edge of the two-tracks was helpful but I still did my fair share of walking some of the deeper sand. The main gravel roads were in great condition.

The Divide really does have something for everyone with 3 options for miles, challenging climbs, fun and memorable sections of sand, and beautiful scenery on quiet gravel roads. It is a great fundraiser with all proceeds going to Manton’s cross country and track teams.  Hope to see YOU there next year!!


Don’t Give up – Keep “Tri-ing”

August 16th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  JoAnn Cranson

Do you have that challenge in your life that no matter how hard you try – you just can’t get better or fix it? Do you feel like giving up?

I experienced that feeling last Sunday! I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship 2021 for the Sprint Distance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This race is once a year and you are racing against the top women in your age group from all over the US. The race entails about a ½ mile swim in open water, a 12.5 mile bike and a 5K (3.1 miles) run.

I really struggle with the swim portion. I didn’t learn to swim until about 4 years ago and it is so hard for me to figure it out and get better. It is so discouraging! I realize this is a minor issue to someone being plagued with health issues, family problems, abuse, addictions, etc. But….no matter how big or small we all get that “feeling” of discouragement in our heart and minds.

I don’t have the solutions to your personal challenges but I hope this blog will give you some encouragement on your journey through life as we each live it. I don’t even have the solution of how I’m going to learn to swim!

But what I can offer from my race today is “keep the faith”. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So on with my race – out of 80 women I crawled out of the water totally exhausted in 76th place! I still had the bike and run to do with 75 women ahead of me. Now I’m a competitive person so it wasn’t about completing this event – it was about getting a good place. At this point, I could have said to myself – “Why continue to push yourself, just go through the motions and get it done” but what I decided to say to is “Don’t Give Up – Keep Tri-ing” until the race is done!

I ran to my bike, put my helmet and biking shoes on and started pedaling. Biking is my favorite so I said to myself “I’m going to give it my all even if I have nothing left for the run”.

Now back to our daily personal struggles. Life is already hard but then you get “kicked in the teeth” when you are already discouraged – it’s just not fair. But how are you going to deal with it? We just have to acknowledge it and figure it out. Right?

Shows angle of handlebars that dropped and how I had to grab my drink bottle.

So what do you think happens as I’m pedaling just as hard as I can and hit a big bump? My aero-handle bars drop down to a 30 degree angle and my drink bottle started sliding out of the holder on the front of the bike as I’m going 25+ mph downhill. I grabbed the bottle, so now I’m hanging on with one hand and holding this bottle wondering what the heck am I going to do with this? I can’t throw it and I can’t insert it back in the holder that is now slanted at a 30 degree angle. This isn’t fair – wasn’t my race hard enough already!!!

I’m like think fast, figure it out. I remembered just watching an Olympic marathoner stuff her water bottle down her shirt so as I’m still flying downhill I unzip by tri-suit and stuff the bottle down my shirt and zip it back up with the straw flopping out the top of my suit. I had to be quite a sight, but I just couldn’t stop, I could tell those handle bars where not going to move back up and I still had 4 miles to go! So I just keep pedaling!

I made it off the bike and was off on my run. I’m real tired now and it’s really hot. Just like in the day to day grind – it’s easy for us to all say when the going gets tough – I’m tired and give into the negative self talk of “It doesn’t really matter”, “You aren’t really good enough to be here anyways”, “So & so is better”, “Others have it easier”.

Instead I decided to put one foot in front of the other and Run. As I was running my daughter yelled out to me – you’re in 32nd place! What – how did that happen?? I was 76th out of the water but during my pedaling I had passed 44 people. I kept going – I tried to encourage people around me, I walked some, I took ice from volunteers to try and keep my body cooled down. I did the best I could to encourage others and care for myself while trying to do my very best.

I think that was my lesson today that I learned. I needed to keep “Tri-ing” during the hard times and not let my circumstances stop me from completing what I set out to do.   I’m going to seek out more training with Athletic Mentors.   We all need to take action to improve our circumstances the best we can.

So….you want to know how my race ended??? I finished 23rd place. Between the bike and run I had passed 53 of my competitors! I had the 6th fastest time on the bike and the 16th fastest run time in the women’s 60-64 age group.

I encourage you to Never Give Up No Matter What Your Challenge Is because you never know how it will end if you do!!



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