And they’re off…..

Last Night WSI Team Active Racing got together to kick off  planning for the 2014 Season.  Eric Cook was nice enough to host at his house and, since I was driving from out of town, I convincedWSI Team Active 2014 Kick Off him to go for a ride in advance of the team meeting.

That may not have been the best idea.  Dwight  joined us and is (for some reason) at mid season form and Eric is, well what Eric always is…a machine.  I was a bit late for our departure time after making some much needed purchases at Team Active, although I was dressed and ready to go, my bike still needed to get prepped and I wanted to put toe warmers in my boots and hand warmers in my gloves.  Not sure what the temperature was, I remember seeing about 20 degrees.  While I was prepping my gear, I told Eric and Dwight that I needed about 5 minutes.  Dwight said “Okay, you get all ready, then we will start spinning and warm up on our way to the ‘Dump’.”  I thought he meant, we would have time to warm up, not that we would get on the bike and proceed to ride at 22 mph right out of the driveway!  I got warm, but not much of a warm up.

We met Kathy at an intersection about a mile from the entrance to the Dump.  It was too cold to socialize too much, but very good to see her.  I had not seen her since she returned from RAAM.  The Dump is a great technical morass of cement, tar and tile and, if you go down, something gets scratched or broken.

Last time I rode the Dump was 3 years ago, that was in the middle of the summer and I was much more comfortable handling my bike than this ride when the ground was frozen and I was cold.  Nobody fell, though I did do some sight seeing a couple times, but all in all a great ride through the woods.  On the way home, Dwight pulled and I locked on to his wheel as if my life depended on it.

My feet were so frozen, that they were numb, and (you know the feeling) I wanted to cry they hurt so bad when they started to thaw out.  But then we went to Crazy Horse for some pizza and a beer…then all was good.

All got much better when I saw the team that I started riding with 5 years ago.  Mike, Eric, Kathy, Dan, Danny, Hannah, Devin, Chuck, Charles, Dave, Dave Sr., Eric, Cameron, Dwight, April, Keith, JJ, Groat, Josh, (and I probably forgot a couple guys), have all been around since I started riding.  (JJ brought his daughter with him, it was great to meet her too.)

There is something about the internal fight you have with yourself while you are putting out a big effort (or fighting the elements) and then get together with friends who do the same thing.  It is a fraternity and sorority and a family.  It was great to see everyone, go for a ride and talk about all of the great things coming for 2014.  I value our friendship and look forward to an awesome 2014.  For those who could not make it, we missed you.

Go WSI/Team Active Racing.  Jack.

2013 Detroit Invitational Cyclocross


Of course I was sick over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  Of course.  Fortunately, there were a few great things happening in the Detroit area  to take my mind off of how miserable I was feeling.  On the morning of Thanksgiving, Robert Herriman (an ultra-endurance racer from the  Detroit area) hosts a yearly group ride at Pontiac Lake Recreation Area.  I believe this is the 14th year of this ride, and about 60-70 people  were present for a moderately-paced, snowy lap at PLRA.  It’s a great way to get your metabolism going prior to the day’s mass consumption, and I only went over the bars twice due to snow-covered rocks…

Now, on to the main reason for this post: the Detroit Invitational Cyclocross race held at Dorais Park in Detroit.  My friend Tony Cressey  alerted me to this event, and I’m so glad he did.  This is a free cyclocross race held at one of the many Detroit parks that the city can no longer  afford to maintain, so a group of guys calling themselves the Mower Gang have taken it upon themselves to perform the upkeep on the park so  that the local kids have a place to play.  They do this out of the kindness of their hearts and have no government funding; if you’d like to check  out more of their efforts and possibly make a donation, please visit  The event is organized by CX Czar Jeff Wood, and  sponsored by the Racing Greyhounds and Cycle to Fitness as a thank you to everyone they race against during the year.  It’s a bit more  eccentric than your typical cyclocross race (is that possible?), featuring beer & bacon handups, an in-race card game, costumes, and a shortcut where racers must perform a tequila shot in order to pass.  Sounds awesome, right?

Photo credit: Bob Bruce

I had planned on getting into CX racing earlier in the year, but a mishap with a sheet of 3/4″ medium-density fiberboard ruined those plans – a broken big toe is not conducive to hopping barriers or run-ups.  Fortunately it healed prior to Iceman, but by that point in time, almost all of the CX season was gone.  So, DICX was my first cyclocross race.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I came down with a head cold on Thanksgiving morning, but there was no way I was going to miss this event.  It did take the fight out of me, however, so my race strategy was more along the lines of “let’s not get bronchitis” than “LET’S WIN THIS THING.”

The course was about 1.5 miles and featured a few sets of barriers, routes through very bumpy fields that really made me wish for front suspension, a segment across the old velodrome, a snow pile made from ice shavings collected from a local rink, a properly punishing spiral on a hillside, a run-up, and the previously mentioned tequila shortcut.  It was a 45-minute race, which turned out to be 6 laps.  My lap times were close to 10 minutes, whereas the truly fast gents were around 7-8 minutes per lap.  I was racing my singlespeed Traitor Crusade with a relatively heavy gearing, as I really had no idea what to expect of the course – I probably should have gone a bit lighter.  Anyway, the CX training I had done prior to breaking my toe paid off, and I had no trouble with my dismounts/re-mounts, barriers, run-ups, etc.  I only took the tequila shortcut twice, on my 5th and 6th laps, and I have no clue where I finished – there were probably about 150 racers, and I’m guessing I was mid-pack?  It really doesn’t matter – I had a great time, and I highly recommend this event to anyone who has even a remote interest in CX.

Here’s a link to a spectator video of the event, and here’s a first-person perspective.

– Adam Cefai

A week in review…

Nutrition (weight loss) Power training (increasing power) and long rides (endurance) are all parts of the weekly training program for the next few weeks.  Some of it I like, some of it I dread, but in combination, I think it is all making a difference.  Tomorrow is my weigh in and today I will do my power test to see if I can add 4 watts to my power and hopefully see 2 pounds off my weight tomorrow.

Having to travel this week will throw a wrench in the specific training plan, but I should be able to work around it (running instead of riding, weights instead of TRX) there seems to be no end to the ways in which you can torture yourself with or without a bike.  Nutrition seems to be easier when I travel, though portion size is an issue in our American Eat-at-the-trough/plate the size of a boat/feed the whole family-per order for $12.99 idiotic behavior.  The good news is that it is cold enough that I can eat half of what I am given, put the rest in the car for later and keep the portion size more realistic.

Thankfully, it is 5 weeks to the Barry Roubaix and any set backs that happen now can be overcome.  I have been fighting something (flu maybe) and I am convinced that taking echinacea every day is keeping this at bay, but I am still fatigued…getting old may be what I am feeling, but I would rather blame fending off the flu than denying my age.

Winter’s end is just around the corner.  Finish Strong.


Thursday 2 by 20’s

Woke up Thursday morning and it felt like my legs were beat all night long with a baseball bat.  Although Advil PM helps me sleep through the aches and pains of a good day’s effort, I am certainly groggy when my alarm goes off.  I was thinking, TRX is definitely going to be a game changer…if I survive.

Packed my road bike and complement of trainer, water bottles and bike clothes into my car and headed off to catch up with a half dozen guys who I have been riding with every Tuesday and Thursday night in the off season for the last 4 years.  Without these masochists and a leader who lives in the hurt locker, I would be a puddle of goo when the first race occurs each year.

We warmed up nicely and then defined our workouts based on our abilities as measured by our power meters.  This device has kept me from becoming my historically delusional self.  Just because you don’t get dropped when everyone is on a trainer, does not mean you can keep up with them on the road…the power meter creates the mathematical equivalent of the difference between a Cat 4 and a Cat 2…just look at your watts.

20 minutes at a medium plus effort can be taxing, even if it feels relatively easy in the first 5 or 10 minutes, toward the end of the effort, I am always wishing it were over.  2 twenty minute efforts are a good wake up call when facing a 2 hour race in just over 6 weeks.  I finished my 2 by 20’s and kept my watts right about where I was hoping…the TRX put pain in my calves and quads..again, hoping that the next few weeks will change my prospects in the upcoming cycling season.

Go WSI/Team Active Racing


Cyclocross Fun in Kalamazoo – No Chain, Some Pain…

Today I expanded my cycling resume to officially include “cyclocross racing” to the list. While I’ve owned a cyclocross bike for several years, up until today most of what I’ve used it for has been riding the spring roads here in Michigan (which makes me much more confident with all the potholes).  Besides, what other sport can you do where prizes include six-packs of beer and everyone (who’s of age, of course) can grab a cold one after racing?!

Style points for the multi-colored handlebar tape.

I did the Kisscross Masters “B” race at Markin Glenn Park in Kalamazoo, which means I had 45 minutes of racing ahead of me. I initially thought about doing the “C” race for 30 minutes, but for the $25 entry fee, figured I’d at leasts get another 15 minutes of exercise. We took off at noon with a good group of other racers. I had done a couple of pre-race laps to get a handle on the course and true to cyclocross races, there were two sections on the course which required a dismount. The first section involved three foot-high barriers and with some tips from Andy at Team Active the week before, was able to negotiate them without any problems. It’s amazing how much easier it is to dismount and then run with your bike when you actually un-clip from your pedals!

The second area that required a dismount (and run) was just after a section that took riders along the water’s edge (yes, that means SAND!), and while riding parallel to the water was not much of a challenge, headed back up to the course involved 10-15 feet of wet and soft sand – impossible to ride. Even the “A” racers all walked up this section. More about the sand later.

Each of the laps was about 1.25 miles, but as is the case with cyclocross you race for a set amount of time, so the number of laps you end up doing really depend on how fast the leaders are riding. At 30 minutes (which is the time of the “C” race – and the race I was planning on doing, until I got there and signed up) I was glad that I had 15 minutes left (and not the full “A” race of 60 minutes).

Kinda hard to go very fast when you don’t have a chain!

Completing my final lap, I successfully managed to run over the three barriers, climb the big hill at the back of the loop, successfully navigated “the ditch” and had one more trip to the beach before crossing the line. I made the hairpin turn to the left and headed into the sand, and while each of my previous entrances were smooth, this time I caught a deep rut left by another bike and it got me off track. The sudden stop caused my chain to come off, get wrapped up in my rear cog and then I heard the SNAP!

Crap, I broke my chain but the good news was that I had made it to the home stretch. This (of course) was also the most populated spectator section, so when everyone realized why I was carrying my bike and running the rest of the couse, the cowbells and cheers seemed to continue to increase. I got passed by several other riders, but at this point it didn’t really matter. I just wanted to finish, and that mission was accomplished.

Toasting the beach that took my chain on the last lap.

As I enjoyed my “post-race” beer and watched the “A” group race, I couldn’t help but think about my first mountain bike race, which must have been 1989 or 1990. Similar to my finish today, I suffered a mechanical at the end of the race, but unlike today, figured that if my bike was broke I was done. But, luckily I had a buddy yell “RUN, you’re almost there” and ended up finishing my first mountain bike race carrying my bike.

Since then I’ve lost count of how many mountain bike races I’ve done, but that one finish always sticks in my mind. Today’s no exception and what a great way to kick off my cyclocross efforts.

~Eric Cook