At exactly 5 a.m., everyone emerged from their tents. I only heard one alarm go off. The rest of the cyclists were probably like me and endured a sleepless night, just zipped up in a sleeping bag waiting for 5 a.m. to roll around. That’s when the high school building opened for those who wanted to shower and eat at the breakfast buffet. The high school was fantastic, new and clean.
The breakfast seemed a bit pricey at $8 (hmmm, or was it $7?), with eggs, hash brown wedges, fruit, oatmeal (grrrr, made from instant oats) and no orange juice. But it was generally OK. The mood at the breakfast table was gloomy because it was still raining and the outlook didn’t look good. One woman called up the forecast on her iPhone and it showed a long line of thunderstorms moving in from Wisconsin. The storms were supposed to hammer our area all afternoon. People started talking about changing their plans, switching from the 160k ride to the 100k or 50k.
As I left the school to change into my kit in the tent, I looked up at the sky and this is what I saw. The forecast for scary storms seemed extremely credible to me. I don’t mind riding in rain. I actually enjoy it. But I don’t like it when bolts of lightning are crashing down around me. I could easily see myself get 40k outside of town and have to spend the rest of the afternoon sheltering in a barn, waiting for the electrical storms to blow through. But I decided to give it a go anyway.
Next: Finally, the race
Posted: June 15th, 2012 | Author: wafflesandsteel | Filed under: Michigan Mountain Mayhem | No Comments »
The race began in Boyne City, a town of only a few thousand people on beautiful Lake Charlevoix. The city didn’t have enough hotel beds for the 1,500 cyclists doing the ride, so people were allowed to camp on the front lawn of the Boyne City High School. This the first time I’ve camped out at an endurance event. Actually, it’s the first time I’ve camped out beyond my back yard. I wasn’t sure what makes the best campsite. Common sense told me to seek out some high ground (there wasn’t any), and try to find a spot with a wind break. I pitched my tent in one corner of the school building, then realized that it was close to two rain spouts leading off the roof. Another camper walked by and I pointed to the rain spouts and said, “This probably isn’t the best spot for me.” And he said, “Ah, it ain’t going to rain.” As soon as he said that, dark clouds began moving in and it began to drizzle. I moved the tent to an area where three small trees made the points of a triangle. I set up the tent inside the triangle figuring that the trees would keep other campers from getting too close to me. Then I went and had a burrito at an eatery downtown.
When I returned to dinner, I discovered several more campers had arrived and half of them seemed to have set up a few meters from my tent. There was still plenty of wide open space on the school’s front lawn, so I was perplexed about why there was a big cluster of tents in my area. I thought about moving, but I didn’t want to seem anti social. Also, the pitter pattering rain had become a steady downpour. I got into my sleeping bag and tried to block out the conversation the two guys were having in a neighboring tent. I was still getting over my jetlag from my Asia trip, so I was able to doze off by about 9 p.m. But before I went to sleep, I tied a poly tarp over my tent because it looked like the rain would last all night. I wasn’t sure how long the rain fly would keep things dry.
At 11 p.m., I woke up to the loud sound of the tarp flapping in the wind. I removed the tarp, fearing that it might be keeping other campers up. When I got back into my sleeping bag, I noticed a loud noise, like a bullfrog with severe sleep apnea. The guy who pitched his tent closest to mine had a chronic snoring problem, and it was keeping me awake. When I finally dozed off, I awoke again when my tent suddenly lit up, as if someone were shining a spotlight on it. Then I heard a loud crack of thunder and realized it was an electrical storm, which lasted the rest of the night. When it was time to get up at 5 a.m., I think I only had about four hours of sleep.
Next: The race begins
Posted: June 14th, 2012 | Author: wafflesandsteel | Filed under: Michigan Mountain Mayhem | No Comments »
Last winter, when I signed up to do the 100-mile Michigan Mountain Mayhem ride, I was hoping it would give me more motivation to keep training through the cold months. That it did. I was pretty religious about hitting the rollers in the basement, and I was consistently doing two- or three-hour rides on the weekends. In April, I was doing hill repeats and intervals on the weekdays and long rides on the weekends.
Then came May. My training program broke down. I had a parental visit (which was wonderful), then some bad weather, followed by a 12-day business trip to Asia. While on the road, I was pretty good about hitting the hotel gym an hour each day to run on the treadmill or grind away on the stationary bike. But it wasn’t enough to prepare for a hilly century.
I decided to do the ride anyway because I was curious about whether Michigan really had a mountain. The state has been a generally good place to live the past couple years, but the one thing I don’t like about it is the lack of interesting topography. OK, right, I’m from Kansas, so I shouldn’t be talking. But one thing I learned from the 10+ years I spent in Asia, mostly surrounded by mountains, is that I need some elevation in my life. So off I went to the Michigan Mountain Mayhem.
Next: Camping out.
Posted: June 13th, 2012 | Author: wafflesandsteel | Filed under: Michigan Mountain Mayhem | No Comments »