Monday, April 18, 2016

Sea Otter Reflections

The past 25 years, I figured I’ve done over 500 cross country mountain bike races. Probably closer to 600 the more I think about it.  All the races have been “cross country” distance from a categorial standpoint. I’ve never done anything over 50 miles (although the first race I did in Grand Marais in 1993 was close if you add the miles I did when a group of us got off course and had to double back) Never have done the epics, 24 hours or marathon. Even after all these years, the short intense cross country races interest me most as it takes not only endurance but short bursts of all out effort combined with skill required on a "off road" course hopefully laced with technical features.

If there is one race I remember the most the past 25 years, it would have to be the Sea Otter cross country race in Monterey, CA held at the Seguna Race track . Jake and I made the trek out there in 2009. It sticks out the most because it was probably one of the hardest and definitely the longest races we did. 

Pro Short Track 2009

It was crazy for Jake considering he was 15 at that time and he was in the saddle for almost 3 and a half hours, racing 30 some miles climbing nearly 7500ft in the Junior Expert race. I raced in the Pro race later in the day where the temp flirted with 100 degrees under a hot dry wind. Instead of trying to remember everything, here is a post from short track and here is a post from the cross country

Jake racing at Sea Otter 2009

What I didn’t mention in the cc post was back at the hotel I passed out and was moments from going in the ambulance. Not a fun moment for Jake as he had to call 911. Before the ambulance came, I came to and called it off. I was suffering from heat exhaustion most likely and possible the first symptoms of Lyme. Not sure. Either way I slowly took in liquids in effort to recover proper. 

Yours truly rying to hang on in the short track

Every year I check the results to see the finishing times for the Pros and Junior races which is now called Cat 1. This year was no difference as the massive cycling event wrapped up yesterday with almost every type of competition. There was even cyclocross racing this year. Todd Wells, racing with a new team after a long time sponsorship with Specialized, won the mens Pro cross country to maybe even his own surprise. He represented one of the half dozen 40+ riders in the field of 156 riders taking the sprint over three other riders at the age of 41. His finishing time was 1 hour, 23 minutes. There would only be 64 riders to record a time, all of those riders finishing 10 minutes or less behind Wells. The course was a much shorter lap resulting in more lapped riders with almost 100 riders getting pulled. Quite the contrast from 2009 when I was able to finish just under 3 hours despite getting absolutely pitted. In comparison, I would of been pulled in this years version. I was glad to have finished and record the result but in honestly I think I would of preferred the shorter laps and race and try not to get pulled, similar to the short track.

When looking at the Junior results, this year, the finishing time was 1 hour 49 minutes 36 seconds as  MATTHEW TRACEY-COO of Oakland, CA crossed the line first. The last junior finisher recorded a time right around 2 and a half hours. A long time for a junior rider. I still don’t get why the junior races are so long and makes no sense to be longer than the Pro races. I didn’t go really deep in comparing results from 2009 Junior race to the Pro race of this year to see how many racers had made the jump up to Pro but as far as I can tell, the only one was RUSSELL FINSTERWALD of Colorado Springs, CO.

 The high school racing scene has a good thing going keeping the races short and interest high. Racing shorter makes for faster kids for those that have interest in continuing on. My opinion is fast racing makes fast racers….slow racing make slow racers! It’s great to see the momentum and growth in high school mountain biking, similar to HS Nordic skiing in Minnesota the past 5-7 years. 

Expo area 2009 Sea Otter

You could say the Sea Otter was on the bucket list of races to do but I really have no desire to go back. There are so many cool events across the country that hopefully some day I can cross off a handful of them.  The Sea Otter course wasn’t something to write home about, it was the atmosphere, the expo area that is something worth checking out. 

Keep the wheels moving...

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Hockey

Compared to other years, the spring hockey was light. It's mid April and I can already recap the "spring" season. Most years we are doing spring hockey a good portion of April and maybe a tourney or two in May. 

Jens did just one tourney this spring in Sioux Falls, SD, playing with a group of guys mostly from North Dakota . They did an "open" tourney. The ended up winning the tourney by a combined score of 54-1 I think. They scored more goals than their goalie saw in shots. It's hard to know what you are getting in to sometimes with the open tourneys but the kids had fun playing together and was fun watching the chemistry even though they had never played with each other before. 

Jens going for the wrap around. 

Crazy Dave. Dave has been running the Northland Hockey group for almost 8 years now. First met Dave when Jon played his first year of summer hockey. Dave has been running multiple hockey tourneys throughout the midwest and organizing dozen of "AAA" teams the same amount of time. I honestly don't know how he does it. This particular weekend witnessed a crazed hockey parent ranting about the refs. Happens ever single tournament, multiple games.
Sioux Falls wasn't immune to the cold weather early April but still got in the morning to check out the area bike paths before the morning games.

T-shirts for winning the "ship".

Jamba Juice before hitting the road. Nice move by Central Market to add this to the grocery store.

After the high school season ended, Jon finished the regular season with the Austin Bruins of the NAHL. He tendered with them back in the fall Being an affiliate player he wasn't allowed to play more than 10 games or compete in the playoffs. He'd go down on Tuesday after school and practice with them the rest of the week and either play one or two games. It was a lot of driving and a big commitment but a good taste of what juniors is like. He had a good time, grew up a bit and really liked the guys, especially the Euros.

Being 18 he could wear a half shield.  No teeth lost so that was good.

Last regular season home game vs Aberdeen. Caught a few games in Austin and really enjoyed the atmosphere. Fast hockey. All the junior leagues have expanded and improved.  The skill level, speed and states players are coming from outside of the traditional hockey states, has expanded.
Meet and greet on the ice after the game.

Nephew Garrett, Swedish import Markus, and Jens.

Proud parents.

Brothers Nick and Jake Leitner from Bemidji. Both playing for Aberdeen. Jon played a lot of spring, summer and fall hockey with them the past few years. Great kids fun watching some of the kids Jon has played with move on.

The Bruins, like most JR teams are big on reaching out in the community whether it be visiting schools, hospitals or nursing homes. The fan base is strong and a big sense of ownership in the community.

Jon's host parents Bill and Linda. Making good meals and taking care of him nicely while away from home. Great people and a reflection on how the community is proud of the kids, the team and wants everyone to do well. A refreshing scene after dealing with the association hockey drama.

Spring sports have started, Jack in track, Jens and Jon doing tennis. Jack giving support to his friend Aurora who was obviously working on a self portrait. Busy kids!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easter Vacation Red Lodge 2016

We were very fortunate to take a trip to Red Lodge again this Easter and have all the boys along for a four day ski trip. Not sure how many more years this will happen so we savored every moment. 
 Lunch stop at the Country Rose cafe in Dickinson. Classic American cafe with interesting decor. Great stuff.
 We had a early departure so we arrived in Red Lodge mid afternoon and a chance for me to sneak out to the Nordic Center for a quick ski and keep the streak of 30daysofskiing going and enjoy the beautiful mountain March weather.
 Pizza at Red Lodge Pizza the first night. Best pizza in town!
 Hitting the slopes the first day.
 Finding powder to play in.
 Jake keeping upright.
 Jon working the lower part of a chute.
 Jack coming through.
 Jens and dad having fun in the fresh snow.
 Jack's friend Max who came along. He was boarding and ripping it up nicely!
 Lift time with Jonell!
 I like this sign. Getting snowed on during a post ski ride.
 I wanted to ride up to the ski area from Red Lodge and ended up doing it the first full day. The roads were good, weather perfect and figured I better with snow moving in later in the week.
 Heading back down. Awesome views.
 Card games at night. Good times.
 Bluebird skies and fresh powder the third day. Doesn't get much better!
 Taking a short break taking in the view.
 Max first one down.
 Jens shortly after.

 Jon working the telemark skis in fresh powder.
 Jack finding a fresh line.
 Hooking up with the Wenzel family for social time. Fun times. Usually lot of Fargo folks come out but with some of the terrain not open and perception the skiing was not good, a lot bailed. Despite not all lifts open, we ended up with fantastic skiing and beautiful days. Being in the ski business, I know how important visits are to these small town ski areas and we were going out regardless of the conditions. Can't beat family time and the mountains!
 Jonell carving up the groomers.
 Jack doing the same.
 Mom watching Jack in the terrain park.
 Sunny lift time with Jonell!! Thumbs up!
 With the boys.
 Jens catching air in the terrain park.
 Max and Marilyn kissing the air.
 Celebrated my 46th, hitting up the "Griz" in Roscoe.
 Jens catching more air.
 Jens over the rainbow.
 Old man still carving it up on the telemark skis.
 Jonell and Jack working the slopes.
 Jake blasting through the woods off a cliff.
 Great views at the top and cool "snags".
 Jon and Jens on the groomers...
 ...and in the powder. Nearly two feet of fresh snow during the week. Awesome!!
 Missing the top part of Jake in the powder.
 Jens and Max threading through the trees.
 Jens out for a afternoon blade session getting after it on the airport hill.
 Family Easter dinner.
 Beautiful Montana back roads.
 We left Monday morning, not before one more xc ski at the Nordic center in fresh snow. Started snowing the morning we left and as of Thursday night and this posting, over three feet, yes feet, has fallen! RLM is opening again this weekend for two more days. Lucky folks getting in another couple days of lift service action!
 Traditional last breakfast at Red Lodge cafe. Another cafe classic with beautiful mountain landscape paintings and love the wood skis of course. We enjoy coming back to Red Lodge each year for the small town no ego feel and lack of commercialism.
Filled up and ready for the trip home. Awesome vacation with some fun times. Appreciate the opportunity to ski with the whole family and thankful no injuries.

Snow geese migration near Jamestown. Never seen snow geese like this before. At this moment, there were geese filling the entire sky in a 360 degree radius. Even up in Canada when we have gone up there, never saw flocks like this. Wow, fun to watch.