Monday, May 13, 2013

The Tour de Crim

Excited for my first biking event, and also staying up and watching too many early 70s Doctor Who episodes, I didn't get much sleep Friday night.  Basically, I got none.  I think I crawled into bed at maybe 7am and woke back up about 9.

I gathered up my water bottle, my camera, my bike helmet, and some money and I.D. (for the bar after), and headed out on my bike toward downtown about 10:30.  The ride started at 11:00, but I live close.  I dressed how I would for a run in the weather we had (shorts and long sleeves), which, as I rode through the biting wind, realized it was probably too cold, but not cold enough that I was going to turn back and change.  I found J, and we met up in the big flat lot downtown with everyone else.  I saw a ton of bikes and even 2 of those "Elliptigo" (eliptical and bike in one) things.

They're crazy ass expensive too!
We lined up to go as one of the organizers talked about some of the things to expect, told us to be careful, and talked about the sponsors.  Then Riley (a.k.a. The Drubbler) led us through the national anthem.  I said hello to one of my neighbors and friends, who had a big hand in getting this whole thing together, and we were off.

Look at all the bikes!
J and I rode side by side from the start.  The plan (for me anyway) was just to stick together and enjoy it.  Then he had a pedal issue, and fell a little behind.  At about 2 miles in, he was still in view behind just over my left shoulder.  Then just about 2 1/2, I remembered to turn on my Garmin, and pulled off to get that started up and going (it wasn't even on).  I didn't see J pass me, and figured he was still behind and having pedal issues as I pulled into obstacle 1 (not to be confused with the Interpol song). I parked my bike, and I ran through some tires, limboed (it's a verb now) under the PVC crossbars and walked back toward my bike.  Then I saw the good folks at Good Beans were giving out coffee, and because I love them (and because I love coffee) I decided to get a mini cup and just hang out and enjoy it to see if I could find J again.
I was trying to look excited about coffee.
Slight expression failure.

Eventually I gave up, and figured he must have blown right by me at some point.  I headed out of the obstacle corral and booked it down University to the Chevrolet turn and remembered that I was supposed to be enjoying this, it's not timed, and I slowed down again before heading into Mott Park Neighborhood.  There was a guy in his lawn chair just enjoying the race with a bottle of champagne, welcoming us to "Champagne Corner."  Yes, I turned back immediately to get a good picture of him.

...And now a fine glass of a "Sham-pahn-ya"

Halfway through Mott Park was obstacle 2.  It's amazing how much adults love it when the bounce houses are actually for them.  Grown men and women just don't have enough opportunities in this life to play inside giant inflatables.  Something must be done about that.  As I got to the front, two guys wanted me to cut so they could race each other through the obstacle.  So I went with a nice girl about my age who asked me if I wanted to race.  I said "alright," and that sh*t was on!  So when the volunteer said go, I booked through the hole, between the rollers, through the hoop, down the gauntlet, and up the inflatable peg wall.  I had a huge lead so I hung up on top to look down on my beaten opponent before eventually sliding down the other end.

Nothing like a go in the bouncy castle to take your mind off of things
Coming out of the second obstacle I heard that some woman had her shoes taken.  I'm sure it was one of those innocent things where another woman, who has those exact shoes but wore another pair that day, just happened to pick them up on accident.  She probably won't even realize the mistake until she gets home and places them down right next to her pair of shoes that looks identical and will have a nice "Oh my, I'm a shoe klepto!" moment.  Somehow they hooked her up with some shoes to finish, but that does kind of stink.  I'm not sure what you can do about it though, because you can't have shoes in an inflatable, it's just not cricket.

We were finally at the Bradley Hills area, which is pretty tough to run.  Biking them proved a pretty good challenge as well.  I really had to drop gears and I was still cruising past a lot of people.  It was a tough climb.  I can't imagine the Elliptigo people and what they had to go through for that.  I honestly think they might be tougher to bike than run, because you have to maintain at least some speed on a bike or you start rolling back or slow down enough to where the bike is tipping over.  A lot of people walked up them, and I can't say I blamed them.  I was happy to have an 18 speeder.

About mile 6 1/2 we detoured just a small bit off from the Crim route to Sarginson Park for obstacle 3, which was some nets at different heights off the ground that you had to military crawl through.  I picked the lowest, hardest one, and was told I went through backwards and had to go again.  That volunteer was just screwing with me.  It worked, she totally got me.  I'm not sure there was a backwards, because I saw people going every which way through them

Obstacle 3
After obstacle 3, I was feeling pretty energetic.  It was time to pump hard and get this race done.  I'd enjoyed myself, and I wanted to get back for a brew.  So I booked through 7 and 8 and pulled off for obstacle 4.  There you were supposed to climb through raised hula hoops, then tiptoe through a ladder on the ground, and come back jumping some mini-hurdles.  I nearly wiped out not taking enough steps between hurdles and jumping too soon before one.  Luckily I had just enough air to clear it.  I still slipped and almost wiped out, but, again, managed to save myself from grass stain doom.

Not a camera trick.  Those hoops were tiny.

After Obstacle 4 they gave me a free Tour de Crim water bottle.  There was no place for me to put it because I did not come with packs strapped to my bike like a few of those prepared people.  I thought I was doing good having the water bottle holder and properly inflated tires.  I just ended up putting the extra bottle in my waistband and hoped it would stay there.

I killed the last 2 miles off quick and turned back down Saginaw to finish.  I got my finisher medal, pulled into the flat lot, parked my bike, and locked it up.  I didn't see J, so I thought maybe he hadn't finished, so I went back and watched for him for a while.  I didn't see him, so I went back down to the tent to get my free beer with my bib ticket.  It was Shorts Local's Light, which is probably the best light beer ever made.  It's actually pretty citrusy and really reminds me of some summer ales, even if it is a lager style.  They also had some bread from this place called crust that was fantastic.  I wanted to steal a giant loaf Seinfeld marble rye style and go running down the street.

Look at that stuff!

I found J, and we watched this band of kids playing cover songs for a while.  They were pretty young, but actually really fairly decent for their age.  They'll all be pretty talented if they keep with it.

These kids are awesome
After watching the kids play for a bit, and watching the raffle where it seemed like 90% of the winner had bibs in the 100s, we had a beer over at the Churchill's, and called it a day.  It was a great event, and I had a lot of fun.  Sometimes it's nice to do untimed events where you can just kick back and enjoy it.  For a first time event, everything seemed to go very smooth.  There were absolutely no instances where I felt the bikers were in danger, which was especially important.  We had lanes blocked off nicely, and all crosses were manned by police officers that traffic will actually stop for and listen to. 

I was really impressed, because I've seen some 1st time events be a bit of a mess, and I've heard about some real bad ones.  The Tour de Crim was just a really fun, safe, family-friendly time, and I'm sure almost everyone walked (or rode) away saying how much they enjoyed it.  If it's around again next year, which I'm sure it will, I plan on returning.  Hopefully it becomes a big staple in this town and grows.  I'll do what I can to promote it, just as I did this year.

Medal and Bottle

Friday, May 10, 2013

First Biking Event Ever

Tomorrow is the 1st ever Tour de Crim, put on by the Crim Fitness people.  It is a 10 mile bike ride with 4 obstacle stops (which I have no idea about), that covers the same 10 mile course as the Crim Festival of Races.  This will also be my first biking event ever.  Luckily, it will not be timed, and I'm assuming it will be a little easier to bike this route than run it.

We'll see how it goes.  I'm breaking out the purple Mongoose bike.  I'm going to see if it needs a new tube for the front tire tomorrow (I'm guessing yes).  Also, I have now equipped myself with a water bottle holder and helmet for my biking needs.  Certainly these are things that bikers do, but, you see, I'm not officially one of you until after tomorrow.
Shirt, Bibs, Tie Thingies, and 10% off Churchills (score!)

In the meantime, the non-biker in me wants to know, what's up with this "bike bib" thing?  Where does it go?  I know some of you are triathlon people.  There's like 3 bread twist tie things that came with it, but I know as much about how to use them as I know about how to use the 3 seashells in "Demolition Man."

What the H?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pontiac Lake Trail Run

J and I went to Pontiac to join up with the Stay In The Shade group for a 10ish mile trail run on the Pontiac Lake Trail.  I heard about it the day before from another guy we both know, and he said he was coming out as well.  So I got up early Saturday, after going out to the bar with my wife and friend and former roommate.  I didn't feel particularly good, and this I blame on the Arnold Palmer Hard Iced Tea and Lemonade.  I only had 1/4 of one, and it is quite possibly the worst alcoholic beverage I've ever had, and because I've rolled the dice several times when it's come to alcohol limbo (how low can you go?) that is saying a lot.  It says even more when you consider how much I like the regular non-alki Palmers

Not Intended For Human Consumption
Anyway, I threw on some running gear and grabbed the water backpack (and forgot the Garmin as usual).  J came over bearing gifts of old Flint maps and Head East's "Flat As A Pancake."  All things I enjoy (history, Flint, 70s rock, and pancakes).

We drive down the Pontiac Lake State Park.  We find part of it, and after sitting and observing, realized that this park station was not where runners were convening.  So we went back out to find the parking that was closer to this alleged beach, and eventually thought we had found it.  Of course we were a little unsure at first, given that it was also where some dog agility training was going on.

Not For Human Running

Eventually we figured out we were in the right place as runners started to file in.  After saying hello to a few people and eavesdropping on a few conversations, I realized that most of these guys and gals were what I call the "A-Squad" of runners.  There were a lot of ultra people talking about things that frightened and confused me.

I'm just a fat man.  Your "Ultra-Marathoning" frightens and confuses me

Me, I'm like a C- runner, which is why, when we headed out, I tried to hang at the back (where I'd naturally be anyway).  J went out a little faster than I wanted, but that evened out shortly after and we ran together for the rest of the way.

Action Shot.  I'm not looking at the camera
because that's a good way to not see a rock
or stick and fall on your face.
We were almost last for most of it, and, after the girl behind us passed about mile 8, we were the last ones around.  I probably could have pushed a bit, but trails are a good place to lose your way, and since it wasn't timed what was really the point of running ahead?  We were just out to enjoy a nice run. Luckily none of us got too far away from each other, because the 3 of us at the back had a little confab at a part where the trail split 3 ways.  I voted to go straight and follow the dog barks.  That was pretty much the obvious decision.

Here are some photos from the day....

The three of us at the back of the pack had a decent chat after finishing, where the girl just ahead of us informed us of a run near us that is predominantly women that has something to do with wine or something (mostly women at a wine thing?...shocker, I know).  Anyway, I have no need for such things (see my wonderful shirt below that says so), but I told J that would be a good one for him to do.  In the end, we never saw our friend that told us about the run in the first place.  He was a no show, and just ran on his own that day.

For the record, this shirt is meant to be silly, not sad and true.

After the run, Jason was starving, so I introduced him to Qdoba (it was really about the only thing around that sounded good), and we went back.  I spent the rest of the day doing awesome things like drinking Oberon and watching the Brentford (I also adopted them) game.  Then, like what usually happens these days, I got bored of watching sports after 30 minutes and headed out to see what was what for Free Comic Book Day (which was also Star Wars Day).

Had to get the Star Wars.  Grabbed Atomic Robo b/c something
with a robot and dinosaur has to be decent, and I grabbed the other
one because, even if it's for kids, I think Owly is cute and it had
a Corgi on the cover.
After a quick stop at the Farmer's Market, a walk with the dog, rescuing a starling that somehow ended up in our fireplace (then the house and finally out a window), finishing my long George Washington book by Ron Chernow, and a walk around Flint trying to capture Genesee Towers and the Citizen's Bank weather ball before one gets imploded and one changes, I found a friend downtown and I was at a sports bar I'd never been to before with a $5, 32oz Summer Shandy in front of me.

Meanwhile, in the present, I'm off again with my wife for another bar/karaoke night (something about $3 margaritas b/c it's Cinco de Mayo).  I'm down for that, but I'm really hoping to be home by midnight.  It's been a busy, awesome weekend.  Also want to point out, that if he were still around, this would be my Dad's 70th.  It's too bad I don't get to take him out and tease him about being a super old man.

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