Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chegaumenon Fat Tire Festival Short & Fat 2012

The Cheguamenon Fat Tire Festival  is a very different race. There is no categories, no racing age, no UCI or USAC rules here. Your age is your age on the day of racing and it doesn't matter what category you are, as long as you get a race number in the lottery or have good enough results to merit a preferred start you're in. There is only two races, the Fat Tire which starts in Hayward and finishes 40 miles down the trail at the Telemark Ski Resort, and the Short & Fat which starts in Cable and is 16 miles long.

The Fat Tire's competition spectrum is as varied as you could imagine. From pro tour level riders like Christian Van De Velde, Mathew Busche,and Jason Mcartney,  to Tandem riders, weekend warriors, people riding to lose weight, and spry old age-defying 70+ age class racers. For some of the 2800 people who participate, its a training race. For others its the biggest race of the year and for still others its the only race of the year.

If you're under the age of eighteen however, you have to do the Short & Fat. This sixteen mile race is aptly named, out of the 950 some people who participate, several hundred are of the ages 12-17 and the rest are either new to the sport or just in it for the beer. Anyone can race this but the juniors typically sweep the top ten as any adults good enough to be competitive race the 40.

Race time! It's been a drag recovering from my broken wrist, but after building my fitness up with some long rides and a few practice Tuesday night races I finally was ready to start a new season. Last year at the Chegaumenon Short & Fat I had a break-through race. I went from barely cracking the top hundred the year before to sticking with the front group for the first few miles of the race and finishing 17th. Lining up for the Short & Fat this year, I felt confident in being competitive. I'd been pulling some good results in the little practice races and feeling strong in my training. I knew I wasn't going to beat Jordan Cullen (who time trialed away from the start to a record time last year) but I was shooting for a top five.
Thanks to Jim Cullen for the awesome photo.

I had a good start, I got on Jordan's wheel for the initial acceleration onto the pace four-wheelers in front. Myles Beach snuck in between me and Jordan right before we hit the gravel. Both Myles and I tried to match Jordan's vicious pace up the first hill and neither of us could. I fell back first, I didn't have a good enough warm up to go so deep right away. I sat on a wheel for a little bit and got back to the front before the top of the hill. Myles was still hanging on when I tried to reel the gap back in, I managed to close some of it down on the hill but Jordan's acceleration off the top was too fast. At that point Myles dropped back to the freshly formed front group and I let some one else take up the pace making.

After the first few hills, Jordan was out of sight and the front group was established. It consisted of Ian Haupt, Brett Poulten, Myles Beach, Reece Olson, and myself. Ian set a decent pace at the front, but besides a  few accelerations on the hills I wasn't in much difficulty. The Birkie section was what I had been most unsure about. Steep, grassy hills with a few yards at the top before a bumpy decent into the next hill. Last year Ian rode away from the front group to get second place here and I guessed he would be trying that again. The steep power climbs with the speed sucking grass were hard and Ian was definitely drilling it, but I stayed in the group fine. Once we got over the incredibly steep hill dubbed "Big Bertha" the terrain started to point more generally downward instead of up and our speed increased. Out of the entire race, this is probably were I had the most fun. It was like some sort of high speed carnival ride cross between a roller coaster and bumper cars, we were constantly bumping and rubbing as we fought for a wheel or smooth line up or down the hills. Once or twice we crested a hill going so fast I barely stayed in contact with the ground.

The pace stayed high for a while, but going through a narrow, slow and technical slight uphill section the pace took a dip. I felt strong and it was sketchy being on some one's wheel through such narrow and bumpy trail so I went to the front and set a high pace. As we neared the finish line I looked back and no one was dropped so I backed off. I wanted to be fresh for the final hill and if I came into it gassed from a hard effort I had no chance at placing well.

We turned a corner onto the final gravel section just as Andrew Senderhauf and a adult caught on to our group. No one took up the pace making aggressively after me so it gave them the chance to close the gap. There was no rest for the weary however, a few seconds later Brett attacked. I had been watching him and wanted to be on his wheel, but at that moment I was on the opposite side of the group. Everything exploded as racers scrambled from one wheel to the other. We turned a corner and hit the final hill. I felt good, but still didn't have the high end fitness to match Brett, Ian and Myles's sprint up the hill and over the top. I was passed by Reece and Andrew as well and finished 7th place. Jordan won the race three and a half minutes ahead of me, with Brett placing second 17 seconds ahead and Ian right behind him for third.
From left to right, Jordan (1st) Brett (2nd) Myles (4th) Reece (5th) Andrew (6th) and myself. Ian didn't show up. Notice that I'm the only one under six feet?

If I could change one thing about how I raced it would have been staying on the front when I was putting in my effort. Keeping the pace high would have prevented the others from being completely fresh coming into the sprint and Andrew catching back onto the group. A few of them had been in difficulty so I might have even dropped some and gotten a top 5 finish. However, Hindsight is always 20/20 and I was happy with my result, I still had fun and learned a lot about what I can do and tactical racing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

YKer Acres "Good FOOD or your SOUL 7 day challenge"

My Dad had this idea to only eat food from our farm for a entire week. My first reaction was "sweet, this means mom will cook more home made stuff and we can have home made bread and cheese!" Dad wanted the challenge to accomplish three things: for us to appreciate what we have availible to us on our farm, to force us to eat better, and to give us confidence that we could survive on our farm (and bartering) with planning.

After some discussing we decided on some rules for our challenge. We could eat anything grown on our farm like vegetables, chicken, pork, etc. We could barter for other foods, for instance we bartered pork for pastured beef from a local farmer. Finally, we would have 10 staple foods that we could buy.

These were:
Maple syrup/Maple sugar
Sea salt
Brown rice
Lemon juice
Raw milk from the local dairy farm
Rennet for making cheese
And training/racing energy food.

In 7days/21 meals we consumed:
10 lbs organic flour
4 lbs brown rice
4 lbs hamburger
1 chicken
2 pork loin roasts
8 gallons of milk (made cheese 2X and butter 2X)
1 pint maple syrup & 1 cup maple sugar

Lots of veggies-summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, Kohlrabi, beets, kale, collards, Swiss chard, basil, cilantro, crab apples, raspberries, sweet corn, Asian greens, and beet greens.

Planning, lots and lots of planning. Since all of the the basic staples like butter, bread, tortillas, yogurt, cheese and such had to be made from scratch you couldn't just open up the fridge and make some "convenience food". It was hard not being able to go into the fridge and make a sandwich or (and this was the hardest for me) make some granola and milk. At first this frustrated me. Especially, when I had to cook for myself.

As I continued through the challenge, I began to appreciate the full process of eating and preparing food. A lot of times when you go to make something to eat, you do not take the time to slow down and put effort into your food. It's a "find the easiest food in the fridge and get a move on it!". When you rush through preparing food, the quality and enjoyment of the food is always sacrificed. It also effects how healthy the meals you eat are. Typically if you are eating "convenience food", you don't have vegetables in it. Eating should be a priority, not just another chore.

Another thing I learned during this challenge was just plain old how to cook food. I enjoy cooking when I do it, but rarely do anything more complicated then a burrito or taco salad. I certainly never did anything like make bread, cheese, or butter. I will say one thing, the amount of milk it takes to make butter is insane. Now I use butter in cooking a lot and now that I know it takes 4 gallons of milk to make a stick of butter I can't look at butter the same.

Making cheese is quite fun!

 While making bread can be a pain, as long as you always have dough in the fridge it works out fine.

Doing this challenge help me learn a lot more about good food, and made me appreciate it even more then I already did. I am very lucky that I can eat so well and have access to such high quality food.

Here is a gallery of a few of the meals we made:
beet pancakes

Delicious burgers with homemade buns and cheese
Nothing beats burritos, especially homemade tortilla
Is there anything Mom DIDN'T put in this soup?

That's right...I cook, too! Pretty yumy!
WOW! I am SO hungry, now!