My Office in the Woods…

Ok, so maybe I wasn’t actually “in the woods,” but I was pretty close for a week. As a digital marketer here at WSI, I get the opportunity to work virtually from just about anywhere that I can find a WiFi and cell signal. Since I travel with a hotspot for WiFi and my phone seems to do a pretty good job of hanging on to calls, that makes my office options pretty limitless.

My office for the week
Continue reading “My Office in the Woods…”

A Collection of “Bubba’s” Race Reports…

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Bubba BTR CriteriumI decided that the BTR Criterium in Kalamazoo was going to be my first ever bike race. It was an absolutely amazing experience! For being relatively new to cycling I hadn’t put much thought into bike racing until Maggie (my very supportive girlfriend) encouraged me to try bike racing.

I was somewhat nervous going into the race, but overall I was very excited. Scott Bridges was really generous in offering tips and tricks to doing well in my first bike race. He told me to try and stay at the front and see if I had anything left for the sprint. I did stay mostly in the front for most of the race until the bell lap came around. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake and found myself in the lead position a little too early. Overall, it was a great experience, and bike racing is definitely something I will continue to pursue.

~Bubba Continue reading “A Collection of “Bubba’s” Race Reports…”

More adventures from Scott and Kevin

BTR/Maple Hills Road Race

 

Scott

 

The 2016 edition on the BTR criteruim featured a wide-open circuit; there was hardly any reason to use the brakes. This favored the riders with a high-speed finish. I did the category 3/4 followed by the category 4/5. A strong field of 45 racers lined up for the category 3/4 race. The pace was fast, among the top 5 riders. The backstretch of the course was a strong headwind. I was stuck on the front, pulling the entire field. I was okay with it at first. Better to be on the front than 40 wheels back, I thought. Here it is. I was in the race. I fought for a top 5 position going into the final corner, but the majority of the field passed me. In a matter of a few seconds my race went from possibly one of the best results of the year, to a 33rd place finish.

There was nothing special about the category 4/5 race. The pace was slower; throughout the race I studied and observed traffic patterns, to know where to be in the pack at what time so that I was in a good position for the finish. By the final lap I tried to set up in the spot I wanted to be. It didn’t work. I was boxed in the whole last half of the lap. I got 10th place. For who what there and how the race was I was not happy with the result.

The next day was Maple Hills Race for the Wishes. This was one of the races I was looking forward to the most out of my whole season. The course featured a 17.5 mile circuit with hard punchy hills in the first half and ended with some fast decants, we would hit 42 miles per hour on one occasion. The first lap of the 52-mile race was relaxed. It was nice to get into a rhythm for a few hours instead of trying to hold the wheel at max heart rate in a silly crit. on the second lap of three, coming down a large hill witch followed a left turn, at high speed and close proximity it was sketchy. Almost though the turn someone crossed wheels a few wheels ahead of me and was going down. The trajectory of the rider scraping his skin on the pavement was headed for my front wheel. I did my best to miss him, but his head fell on the left leg and I might have ran over him face. It felt like my whole back wheel moved over a foot. On the last lap of the race as we creased the main hills I attacked and tried to bridge up the guy up the road. After a few minutes of that I was reeled back in. coming into the fishing corners I did my best to get to the front. We made the last turn just over 500 meters to go all together. The field lined up across the road for a bunch sprint. Only a few seconds separated the first position and 40th. I managed to get a 17th place finish out of the sketchy sprint finish. I was okay with that.

 

 

 

Kevin

I decided not to race at BTR this year and save my energy for the Cat 4/5 Maple Hills Road Race. My Crit racing has not going well, so I wanted to be fresh for the 52 miles of rolling roads around Lawton.

The race started off sketchy, the pace was surging with riders fighting for position. On the first big climb I heard a crash behind me, luckily I was ahead of it. The next few miles where spent fighting to stay up towards the front. The pace was fast but consistent and I settled in for a long morning ride. A few miles from completing our first lap of three we descended into a left hand corner I was on the right side towards the back when a couple of riders went down. I had to go into the ditch to avoid hitting

 

 

 

 

Kevin

 

I decided not to race at BTR this year and save my energy for the Cat 4/5 Maple Hills Road Race. My Crit racing has not going well, so I wanted to be fresh for the 52 miles of rolling roads around Lawton.

The race started off sketchy, the pace was surging with riders fighting for position. On the first big climb I heard a crash behind me, luckily I was ahead of it. The next few miles where spent fighting to stay up towards the front. The pace was fast but consistent and I settled in for a long morning ride. A few miles from completing our first lap of three we descended into a left hand corner I was on the right side towards the back when a couple of riders went down. I had to go into the ditch to avoid hitting anyone. By the time I got back on the road the lead group was pulling away and I had to chase.

I chased the leaders into town but could not catch back on and abandoned the race after one lap. A disappointing result to say the least, I should not have let myself to get that far back in the peloton after fighting to get a good spot. It was a rookie mistake that I should not have made. I was probably lucky to miss the crashes and come home with all my skin.

Next year I will come back smarter and maybe a little faster.

Bridges Guys on the Road…..to Iowa

 Scott

 

We headed to Iowa for a three consecutive criteriums in three days. The first of which was the Snake 20 percent grade cobbled climb that challenges any rider. After the 100 feet of climbing it was a gradual decent into sharp corners of downtown Burlington, Iowa. The junior race was first, 45 of the best junior riders in the mid-west and a few more. I had a poor start, and entered snake ally near the tail end of the field. Given that this is a very unique race, there was a very unique way of racing it. You would climb snake ally at your own pace, descend alone. And if you were lucky you would get so sit on someone’s wheel on the flat portion of the course. By the end of the race I moved up to 18th place. I had no idea what to expect. I was happy with the result.

The cat 4 race was later the day. I got a really good start and kept myself in the front. Out of the forty-some riders to start, only five were together with two laps to go. The last time up the climb a junior got a few bike lengths ahead of me as we crested the top. The gap stayed as we went on the decent, I went for a “don’t lose it here” approach. The junior pressed on and grew his gap on the decent. I tried to close the gap and thought I was going to have plenty of time and road to play with. On the final stretch he held his gap and crossed the line a few bike lengths ahead of me. I headed to the podium for my though to be second place but I was told that the winner was disqualified for not reporting to junior roll-out, therefore, I was awarded as the winner. To be completely honest, in my mind, I don’t consider this as a win. Although I received the plush snake, brick, upgrade points and $75, which was nice. I’m very happy with the way I rode the race. It looked like a great start to a long weekend of racing.

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The next day was the Melon City criterium. A crit that featured a longer steady climb, with a fast decent and a speed bump that acted as a ramp. Going down at 40 miles per hour you would hit the “ramp” and jump a hand full on inches off the ground and land on skinny tires, because normal crits aren’t dangerous enough. The junior race stared in the morning. The same riders as the day before joined me on the start line just 24 hours earlier. For the first few laps I stayed with the group but eventfully I saw my self in the second group. We hung behind the lead group while a few of the best kids in the country went off the front. I managed to be the first finisher out of the second group and snagged 18th place yet again. I was happy with the result.

The cat four race later that day had some bigger names. It stared hard and fast. There was a few crashes that I was almost caught up in. one guy fell over and landed on my hip and his head ran down my leg eventually hitting the ground. It happened fast, but I was focused, and in control and his crash didn’t slow me down. On the last time up the climb I managed to get fourth wheel going into the last turn. I held onto it until the finish. I was happy with my result considering how hard the race was.

The third and final day was the Quad City criterium in Davenport, Iowa. This course had a steep hill and a fast decent along with two tricky corners before the finishing straight. I woke up with a cold. I tried my best to not let it effect my mind before it effected my legs. I didn’t say anything about it out loud before the race because I knew if I did I would have lost any chance of a good result. I wanted a top 15. The race started hard, not a surprise. Again I found myself in the second group suffering. I managed to get 26th is the race. I was disappointed. But hey, one bad result out of a six race weekend, that’s not too bad.

In the time before the cat 4 race I wasn’t feeling great. I was not my best with my cold. But I knew I came here to do something and I had a job to do. So I started the cat 4 race and stayed with the lead group until two laps to go. Then a small group formed. I lead the decent for the group and two riders came around me on the finishing straight a I got ninth place. I was okay with the result given the circumstances. Overall I was happy with the results I got in Iowa and I really enjoyed the courses, because theirs nothing like getting to your max heart rate every two minutes.

 

Kevin

 

I raced the Snake Alley, Melon City, and Quad Cities Criterium in Iowa on Memorial Day weekend. All three of these races had a lot of climbing and technical down hills. The climbs and the high level of riders caused the weaker riders like me to separate from the field very quickly. My finishes were towards the back, but considering the level of competition and the difficult venue I am glad I raced these events. Hopefully my next race will seem easy.

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Ironman Steelhead 70.3

The Bridges were at it again. This time Katie and Kevin tackled the IronMan Steelhead 70.3!

Katie

the beach was unbelievably gorgeous.

Sunday morning we headed over to Benton Harbor (4:30am) to set up transition and be ready for a 7am start. One thing I staged, along with my food, shoes and shades was my red flower from Fellow Flowers. The red color stands for Strength, and I would need some to get through my Declare It Day goal. Declare It Day is a Fellow Flowers thing, too, where I made this promise to myself in February for a goal race. Back then it was easy to say I could be ready for a Half IM, when I didn’t know I’d get injured running early in the spring. I’ve had to plan and re-plan a few different times, but I stuck to this goal. At some point I was sure I couldn’t do the race as I’d planned, but I’d settle for doing the race just as it unfolds.

I started in wave 4, and we went out at 7:12. I was glad to get an early start. The water was the best it had ever been for Steelhead. The RD said it was 74 degrees, and there was very little wave action. The water was so clear I could see the sand far below at times. The swim is where I had a hard time adjusting to the crowd, especially at first. I’m used to finding a patch of water and going at my own pace. But with waves of swimmers coming up behind me, it was a constant battle for space. I learned a lot from this, just keeping it together and focused on swimming forward.

The bike course was great, and I took the opportunity to have some fun and push the speed a little. I had been advised to practice my hydration and nutrition plan during training rides, and I know this advise helped me immensely because I felt good and my ride was fast. I was able to average 18.2mph on the bike. The course wove through orchards and farm country, with gently rolling hills. As I rolled back into the park, my son took my picture and it was time to run. I tied my running shoes and threw on the visor with the red flower.

Running is no longer my favorite part of these races, I’ve been injured and recovering for a while, and I can run but not as fast as I’d like to be. However, I found satisfaction in the fact that I could run without pain. At least the former injury was not painful, but I had plenty of fatigue and aches and pains settling in by mile 6 or 7. This is where the big-scale race took over for me. There were fans, volunteers and spectators everywhere! They cheered for me and yelled my name (it was printed on the bibs!). I noticed so many runners had flowers and lots of people recognized my flower. As one orange-flowered runner passed me, we said hello and offered encouraging words, a guy asked us about them. Then, a few miles later, another guy had an orange flower on his singlet. I thought it was so cool and I knew he had a story there, too. I know the reassurance and connections helped me push through those last 5 miles. Somewhere in there Kevin also passed me and it was good to chat with him a second before he took off.

Finishing this race was like nothing I’d ever done before. It was huge. The people were all cheering and yelling for the finishers. Probably hundreds of people, and it was so hard for me not to break down in that moment. I got to finish that big race on IM carpet with photographers everywhere. It was a long way from setting a goal on a wintery day. I finished in 6:34:55.

Kevin

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This was my 3rd time racing Steelhead, I raced it in 2012 and 2013, and it’s my favorite 70.3. The swim course was changed this year from a point to point along the beach to a triangle swim starting near the swim exit. I was skeptical of the change but it was nice not having to walk down the beach to the start. The weather was perfect with calm winds and overcast skies.

On the swim I was kicked in the head and had my goggles knocked off my face, I’ve had this happen before but not this hard. I couldn’t see well out of my right eye for half of the bike. The rest of the swim went well I finished with a 42-minute swim time, not my best swim. I have not been working on this discipline lately, so it’s not a big surprise.

The bike course has not changed although it seemed there were more potholes than in the past, it is Michigan. I started in the second to last wave, so I was passing people the full 56 miles. I was able to get a slight draft off each rider as I passed, a nice bonus to starting at the back. I was able to average 21.1 mph on the bike, my best bike split ever at 2:39. I have been working on this discipline and it more than made up for the slip in time on the swim.

The run at Steelhead is great a fairly flat route through the Whirlpool headquarters campus. They always have lots of fan support; Red Bull was even there blasting music from an old converted fire truck. I wasn’t sure how the run was going to go as I had PR’d a marathon two weeks earlier. But I felt great on the run getting fuel at every aid station finishing with a 1:54 run spilt, my overall time of 5:25:54 was a PR by 9 minutes.