Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wind, Rain, Fun

This post is for all of you who told me you thought I couldn't handle the Michigan weather.

Wednesday night is group mountain bike night. You probably already know this since I usually only post on Thursday now. (Really, I do have a life other than Wednesday night riding. I just keep forgetting to write about it.) This week Wednesday arrived with something like 60 mph winds and rain. I took my riding stuff to work, but really I thought everyone else would bail and I'd get out of riding in the wind, rain and dark.

No one else bailed.

I have met my match in crazy with this group. When no one else bails there's really no choice but to ride  because if you don't you'll look like a wimp.

I hate looking like a wimp.

So- my trusty partner Cheryl and I headed out in our usual fashion, which is basically me just following blindly because I never know where I'm going.  Until last night, I also followed blindly because since I don't really know what I'm doing on a mountain bike I just try to follow her line and figure if she can ride over it so can I.

Just so you know- that theory was ridiculous. Within 2 minutes she rode over a log, which I then proceeded to hit and skid sideways along. Two seconds later I was on my ass.

Thankfully the boys hadn't caught up to us yet so no one got to witness this display of complete and utter ungracefulness. (Spellcheck doesn't think that's a word, but if spellcheck knew me, it would know this word. I'm pretty ungraceful most of the time.)

In fact, I'll just go ahead and admit that I'm pretty sure I managed to be completely ungraceful for over and hour while we rode, which leads me to a new reason to just keep riding behind my trusty partner. She doesn't have to witness how completely awkward I can manage to be on a mountain bike.

That said- I also want to clarify that while I might be ungraceful, I'm incredibly grateful at the same time. Grateful for new friends that will ride in the rain and wind, grateful for a riding partner who always finds the trail (and doesn't laugh when I talk to myself while riding) and grateful for this crazy weather that lets me feel like I'm a badass just for being out there.

Cuz we all know I'm never that much of a badass so I need the weather to help me out on this one.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bye Bye Jules

My favorite perk of the bike shop has ended. We had one demo/rental mountain bike that fit me. I'd sorta claimed her as my own the last few weeks.
Unfortunately, since I work in a bike shop, I sometimes have to actually sell a bike and since Jules was the perfect fit for a customer on Wednesday, I had to let her go. I tried to throw in the idea that we had a brand new version of the exact same bike, but it was a no go. One ride on Jules and she was hooked. Thankfully I'd cleaned her up after our last outing, which started out pretty enough:

 but quickly progressed into a trudge through the swamp. At first I was convinced I could just ride through the swamp. This worked fine for about 20 feet until the water submerged my front wheel and I came to a dead standstill, which lasted for about a half a second before I realized I was going to tip over and be partially submerged in the swamp. It was then that I decided that I'd rather trudge through knee deep water carrying the bike on my shoulder than risk crashing and swimming.

Of course, I immediately envisioned gators and water snakes and attempted to hop back on the bike to save my feet from the critters. There were numerous go arounds of mounting the bike, nearly falling off into the water, carrying the bike, panicking about snakes and remounting the bike before I finally decided that in northern Michigan the worst thing in that nasty swamp was probably a leech or two. This realization came immediately after I attempted to ride over a floating log, thinking it would just get pushed to the bottom and I would ride over it. While this seems like a great idea, let me just tell you- it doesn't work. You end up wet.

After a half a mile of this whole carry, try to ride, carry thing, I finally emerged on the other side of the swamp to discover that some wise-ass marked the trail this way to warn of the water:

Whoever marked the trail either has a sick sense of humor or speaks a language  in which "flooded" and "narrow" mean the same thing.

Either way, it was worth it because the rest of the ride pretty much looked like this:

Thursday, October 14, 2010


For those of you who've ever seen some of my lame attempts at mountain biking in  San Diego, and therefore can't believe I might actually try it at night- I've got proof. 

Of course, this picture is also proof that I don't know how to work either my camera or my headlamp very well so my trusty riding partner finally had to just take control of the camera so we could get a decent picture.

We're at the top of someplace called Avalanche, and Boyne City is in the background. The boys were way ahead of us so we decided to descend via the dirt road, which was more like a sand road, which means we pretty much surfed our bikes down the hill. This made me laugh for some reason, which could apparently be heard down in the parking lot. Hey- at least I wasn't screaming in fear....

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Once I got started with the mountain biking, I just couldn't stop. Hopefully I'm not pushing my luck with the new boss by sneaking the super sweet orange mountain bike out of the shop every other day.

Last night, I decided to try some night riding. While the boys had their fast-riding fest, I got my own tour guide up to the top of Boyne Highlands, where I just started job number two last week as a massage therapist. We got to the top without lights just in time for the sunset.

On the way down those lights got put to use and I loved it. I thought I'd be terrified, but there was something almost soothing about having to just focus on one little well-lit area in front of me.

When I bragged to an old friend about my ride in the dark, he pointed out that I used to be scared to ride a mountain bike in the daytime. I had to wonder why I'm not so scared anymore...

I'm sure some of it was having my own escort who pointed out the big roots, showed me the way and didn't try to kick my ass in the process. The ridiculously nice bike probably helps too. There was something else though...

This morning on my run I found an answer. I feel at peace here. Last year, when I visited, I stood on the shore of Lake Michigan and swore I could breathe better here. I'm quite certain I have a little bit of Lake Michigan running through my veins. Must be all the lake water I swallowed as a kid at camp south of here.  This morning, on that run, the feeling came back again. I got to the part of the path that runs about 25 feet from the lake shore and I felt like I weighed 50 pounds less.


It seems to be making everything easier, even the stuff that used to scare the crap out of me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Riding

One of the perks of working in a bike shop is being able to take any of our rental bikes out for a ride. Unfortunately, one of the downfalls is that when I have the day off, nearly all the guys have to work so when I took Juliana out for a ride yesterday we had to go solo:

There was also a big mountain bike race going on so I had the North Country Trail almost to myself. 

Honestly, I was pretty happy to be alone since my mountain biking skills are pretty slim. I definitely jumped off more than once to avoid a crash.

Definitely the most fun I've ever had on a mountain bike, mostly due to the super nice bike and incredible scenery.

I'm loving fall, even if it does mean it's still only 49 degrees at the end of a two hour ride. No complaints here since it was a beautiful sunny day, but I will admit that when a package arrives next week with some warmer riding gear I'll be a happy girl!