Dr. Syed Hyder is not only my physician, but also my really good friend with whom I like to ride mountain bikes. He and Sandy McKee and I rode Laurel Mountain the other day on a truly glorious day. Syed and I usually ride up together in my Jeep and we have really great discussions on a myriad of topics from healthy eating, to planning the next mountain bike trip together with our pals. Looking at the beautiful sunshine on the way up through Rector, Linn Runn and up the mountain to the parking lot at the ski area, we remarked how great it is to take advantage not only of a great day, but a truly spectacular venue with the mountain laurel just about to burst forth in full bloom. Then per his usual custom, Syed became philosophical which is where he truly shines in my book. He said it is so important to ……….” expand the present.”
I like to listen to Syed and although I am a talker, I make it my business to listen when Syed speaks. I asked him to comment on “expand the present” and his logic was insightful. He said, we need to really enjoy days like we had at Laurel. Enjoy the moments, and really try to get as much out of the day as possible. Little things like enjoying the cool temperatures, the absolute perfection of the trails, and the challenge of Spruce Run which always takes a backseat in conversation to Wolf Rocks. As we pounded the Spruce Run rock section, Syed remarked that he thought it was as challenging if not more challenging than Wolf Rocks, especially where it comes at you at the latter part of the ride. But expanding the present in that sense, is to really enjoy the challenge, enjoy your body working to maintain balance, and relish in the aftermath of making it through a tough part of the ride. Syed likes to ride every tough section, and in his mind, he is expanding the present through his experiences. He and Sandy and I really enjoyed the scenery out at the Wolf Rocks overlook and I observed Syed looking off into the distance truly reveling in the moment. He said to me later that not only is it important to expand the present, but to “retract the future and the past.” That meaning that you really can’t do much about the past other than learn from experience, and nothing can be done about the future so why worry or spend time on what will happen. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the day you are given, as it is all really a wonderful gift. Too many of us worry about what will happen tomorrow, next month, or next year, and let the current state of affairs slip out of our hands. Enjoy each day as it comes and make the most of it. Expand the present.
Thinking about what Syed said, as I write this on Memorial Day, I think about expanding the present and thinking about what a great country we have. The opportunities are boundless if we enjoy the moment and the days as we get them. Freedom is not free and when I think about the guys that made it possible for us to truly enjoy our freedom and make the most out of our daily lives, I can really” expand the present” because I have the freedom to do so. I can ride in the Laurels on a sunny day, I can worship when and wherever I choose, I can enjoy my family without any dangers or issues that arise in countries that are not free. They don’t have the chance to expand the present.
Think about those veterans who gave their lives today. Think about the great opportunities we have as a result of their sacrifice. We can enjoy our days because of what they did. Enjoy your day today. Thanks for reading.
Vertical is a term that skiers and mountain bike riders use when describing their day on the hill or trail. Vertical drop is generally described as the measurement from the top of the mountain to the base lodge. Particular ski trails are listed with a certain vertical drop, and you can track these statistics on a number of apps today including the popular Slopes app. It gives you information like how many runs you made and what total vertical drop was achieved in your day of skiing. My friend Mark Hutchinson and I used an app called Alpine Replay which was the forerunner to Slopes to track our runs at Northstar at Tahoe one day. I have posted before that we achieved 57,000 vertical feet that day and the next day at Mt. Rose in Nevada, we achieved 52,000 vertical feet. It was kind of fun to track our runs and see how many we made and what the total vertical or vertical drop we had achieved skiing. Plus we totally honked off a French guy who held the record up to that point. A couple of old geezers took him down. The app developer loved it. LOL!!
Another fun statistic is to see how high the summits are at different ski areas and to see the total vertical drop based on those summit elevations. When you ride the Summit Chair at Whiteface as seen above, you will see markers on the chairlift towers that show your elevation and also how it compares to similar resorts in Vermont and New Hampshire. The summit at Whiteface is actually higher than a lot of New England ski areas. So, elevation vertical and vertical drop are used a lot when describing your day on the slopes at any ski area. How much vertical did you ski and what is the vertical of the summit? Cool statistics that are apres ski conversation pieces.
Similarly, mountain bikers rack up vertical while climbing up a trail. We all have devices that track different statistics like heart rate, distance, time on the ride and vertical. In this case, vertical means what is achieved when we climb on our mountain bike. My Garmin Fenix watch tracks these efforts, and I can log how many miles I have ridden, on what trails, what was the distance and other metrics that are interesting to see at the end of a ride. I can compare them to my friends’ metrics and see how we do in comparison to each other’s efforts. Gaining vertical on a mountain bike ride takes some effort and it is what usually gets you in shape when you have to climb a hill on a bike. This time of year, the effort is making us stronger with each ride. No pain – no gain. When we climb hills on a mountain bike, we sweat, breathe hard, and fatigue our legs to the point of exhaustion. So vertical in this case is all uphill effort with trackable results.
So, thinking about this the other day while looking at my Garmin statistics, led me to some conclusions which will show you a little bit about how my mind works. This winter, I always thought about the vertical on the summits where I skied. I thought about how many vertical feet I had skied and how it felt to achieve those metrics. Usually, I work hard at making clean turns and I learn something new every year. But the effort is assisted by gravity and even though sometimes I am breathing heavy at times due to altitude, or working the turns, the effort is not as difficult as when I am riding uphill on a mountain bike to achieve vertical feet in climbing. It occurred to me that the two different efforts are really like what goes on in life. Some days we flow downhill through the day, with little effort and appreciate the beauty of the world similar to a ski run on a sunny, groomed slope. Gravity is our friend as we make our way through the day with no encumbrances. But then there are the other days where it is tough. Like climbing a steep hill on your mountain bike in 90 degree weather. The sweat is pouring, you are breathing heavy, and your legs sometimes feel like lead. Those days, while achieving vertical feet of climbing, can be tough. But here is the good news. The effort most of the time yields great rewards. You get in better shape and the adversity turns you into a stronger rider and the no pain no gain axiom is found to be true.
There are those days when you think that there is no way you are going to make it. Like riding that mountain bike, you think you cannot make one more pedal stroke ……..but you eventually do. You don’t give up and you get to the top. You look back at the ride or the day, and you realize that life can be tough sometimes. But when you summon up some effort, learn to accept the pain and the adversity, you can achieve many things – a lot more than vertical feet. There are downhill days and uphill days, but when we learn to appreciate both efforts of gaining ……………..vertical………….we can see how it makes us a stronger, better person. Right? Thanks for reading.
Disclaimer!!!!!- This is a guest post by Jeff Chetlin. Although his friends are kind of shy about the flatttering comments that Jeff has made here, he asked that he could write this as a testament to his amazing comeback from a stroke. He has a lot of friends and he has very complimentary things to say about us. But the real story is his comeback. So………here is Jeff’s guest post.
I spent a week in Central Oregon with my good friend Pat and his wife Janet. It was a week that was very eye opening, and made me want to write a little story that I have been wanting to tell to a lot of people. Most of you may already know this, but for those of you who don’t, I have been a very active person throughout my 30s , 40s, and 50s. I was a swimmer and a baseball player in high school and in college played many years of golf. I got into mountain biking prior to suspension and clipless pedals in the early 90s and was instantly hooked. That led me to learn how to ride a dirt bike and I have spent many years loving that as well. I also want to tell you that skiing has been in my blood since I have been a child, and I love it still to this day.
Where the story gets interesting is in June, 2021, I experienced a stroke in my cerebellum and after many months in the hospital and in rehab, I was released to my house. There my wife took care of me 24/7. During that time, I went from a weight of 185 pounds down to 130 pounds and for six months I was basically on the couch or in my bed and unable to eat. As you can imagine, this changed my life considerably. But not as much as what happened in March of 2022.
My dear friend, Pat McCloskey, came to my house every Friday around noon whether I wanted him or not. He would bring these giant sandwiches, chips and drinks, and sit with me at my kitchen table. In the beginning, I could not even eat them, but he still came. As the weeks and months passed, one day he said that he and Pete Hilton and Mark “the Shark” Sauers were coming to my house and were going to take me on a bike ride. I was very unsure of that but they showed up at my house on a cold March day. Pat put my mountain bike in the back of his Jeep and drove it down to a flat grassy area in Frick Park. He and Pete and Shark ran beside me as I attempted to pedal my bike even though I was riding in circles. It was truly the beginning of my recovery and I think we all had tears in our eyes.
They were the first angels that came to my side and propelled me towards healing. The next person I want to mention is Dr. Syed Hyder. I was at his medical office in Mars, Pa and after a check up he walked out to the car with me and said,” you are good and must start moving yourself into uncomfortable situations.”
After I began to improve by riding my mountain bike, my good friend Jesse Seager would come to my house every day not knowing what I could or could not do. He didn’t care. We would ride our mountain bikes around the cemetery because there were no cars and he would tell me many funny stories along the way and the healing continued.
The next people that I want to mention are Tim Girone and his lovely wife Barb. I spent most of the winter out in Bend, Oregon. On the second day I arrived there, he and some other couples were taking a snowmobile ride up to a high mountain hut with food and drinks to watch the sunset. Tim thought that we should attend. My awesome wife Julie said we are in. But I was not sure I could do that because I was still dizzy and did not see too well. But I continued to push through and be persistent, and face my fears. Not five minutes into the ride, Julie and I crashed and I reinjured my broken shoulder. The accident did more than hurt me physically it hurt me mentally because I knew that Pat and Janet were coming out to ski with me in March. I was confined to walking and laying around for six to eight weeks while my shoulder healed. Tim, Barb, and my wife Julie belong to an amazing gym in Bend called Embark. The owner of the gym is Dorian Adam. In undying friendship, Tim kept telling Dorian that Jeff needs to move again. I had been laying around very sedentary. In a subtle way, he orchestrated getting me back to the gym where Dorian would work with me twice a week for a half hour. It was very difficult mentally. I had some stomach issues but Tim said that would eventually go away and it did.
I would be remiss if I did not mention my amazing wife Julie. She is a pusher. And I mean that in an amazing, positive way. She said,” you are going to the gym.” “I don’t care how much it costs.” One day she woke up and said,” I warmed up your ski boots and we are going skiing today.” I was very afraid and could not sleep the night before. She said,” Pat and Janet are coming and they expect you to be able to ski with them.” So we went up a few beginner runs, and on the second run she skied right up to me with giant tears in her eyes and was crying how happy she was to see me doing this. The next day we went back again with Barb Girone. I skied four blue square runs and had stomach issues again. But that was the last time it happened and I kept pursuing it. Then Pat and Janet showed up for a week and on their last ski day we were celebrating Tim’s birthday. We all skied together and had a party in the parking lot. On the fourth run of the day, the clouds came in and you could not see a thing. Pat, who used to teach blind skiers, said,” I got this, I am going to lead you down the mountain like the blind skiers.” We all had a good laugh at that. Tim eventually got me back to the car after a couple of visually challenged runs.
What happened next will remain in my memory for a long time. About 15-20 people showed up at Tim’s van. Tim had a fire and we all laughed and sat in the freezing cold. It was snowing and windy. I kept thinking that there is no way I can sit out like this but it was so much fun with everybody laughing, and shaking and freezing. At one point I looked over at Pat’s wife Janet who was freezing. I kept thinking that Janet would want to leave soon and that I would leave with her. But she never did leave and was one of the last ones to go.
I have been back in Pittsburgh for about a week now and every day my coach Jesse picks me up on our bikes and we head to Frick Park. He is upping my game every day and tells me we will begin doing some single track. He has become an amazing recovery tool and I realize that in some ways, I am helpful to him.
The reason I wanted to write this is there are lessons to be learned here. As in most of Pat’s Chronicles, there seems to be always an underlying lesson. And here it is…..from Pat, to Shark, Jesse, Syed, Barb and Tim, and mostly to my wonderful wife Julie, they have all taught me what life is really about. It is connections. It is people, it is movement, it is laughter. It doesn’t have to be skiing or riding a mountain bike. It could be just sitting around in the freezing cold parking lot after skiing or sitting on the edge of an Oregon beach laughing and enjoying the beauty. If you know me well enough, you know I enjoy my friends. They have been invaluable in my recovery which will go on for years to come. So what I have to say to all of you is in order to have good friends, you have to be a good friend. My lesson to all of you is without my friends, I would not be here at all. Friendship is a gift.
Well, even though most of our crowd has ridden mountain bikes all winter, it is nice to see the weather change and ride some dry trails for a change. We try to ride responsibly during the winter but even though our choices involve trails that drain fairly quickly, it is still dark, and winter, and it takes some effort to get out. That’s why when the time change comes and the weather starts to improve, all of us are excited to see each other. Some of us have not seen each other due to a lot of us being skiers or snowboarders and the weekends and trips are generally reserved for sliding on snow. So the guys who do not partake in the winter sliding don’t see much of us and it is nice to reconnect in the spring.
One of those guys is our doctor- Syed Hyder who rides all winter and is always patching someone up on the ride. Last Saturday it was Pete who fell in a hole and Syed attended to him during a real dry ride in a local venue. Syed is funny. Not only is he entertaining and a real good rider, but he also has some interesting things to say including the details of his recent trip to Morocco. I always laugh when he tells me I am his only patient who rides a mountain bike and skis while on Coumadin. But he is not worried because I have been on it for over 30 years due to a DVT and a pulmonary embolism years ago. Syed monitors my bloodwork monthly and he monitors all of us on the rides. He is good to reconnect with in the spring.
I always think about riding hills again and how I will respond to the early conditioning that takes place after a winter of “maintenance” riding. Nobody kills themselves in the winter but when the spring comes, we like to get back into shape and that involves some climbing in the hills of Western Pa and West Virginia. My wife, son and I are plant based eaters now and it is interesting to see how some weight loss has seemed to help my early season preparation. Plant based eating is not for everybody but it seems to work for us. We watched “The Game Changers” on Netflix and also “What the Health” and were convinced that a better diet that eliminates meat and dairy would work well for us. So far, so good in the spring riding preparation.
Lots of events coming up and it will be fun to switch gears from skiing to riding and have fun with some really great people. Like skiing, riding mountain bikes brings together some really interesting people who enjoy the outdoors. Some of us do both, but for the non-skiers, or non-snowboarders, it is always fun to see each other in the spring to ride again, and talk about what we want to do this summer and fall. The post ride comradery around some beers and snacks are what I miss in the winter ( thanks Bob Kowalski), and the post mortems on the rides are always fun to rehash with each other. Mountain bikers are fun people and being with them always is a good time which creates a lot of good memories. I am 68 now and have elected not to go the e-bike route. Again- it is what works for me as I need all the exercise I can get. But to have this crowd push me as one of the older guys is really gratifying. Spring has sprung for sure and another new season is upon us. Thanks for reading.
It is amazing to see the improvement in technology over the years with regard to night MTB riding with lights. Back in the day, we used Night Sun lights with rechargeable batteries in a water bottle. At best, these gave off a yellow light and the life on them was sketchy. We moved on to Night Rider equipment and the lighting was still kind of yellow but it was an improvement. In fact, at the 24 Hour Races in Canaan, West Virginia, Night Rider was a sponsor of the event and brought their charging stations which made recharging between laps convenient and it took half the time to charge compared to the time it took at home. The cost of these lights was always around $300.00 and it was limited to handlebar lights with the water bottle batteries.
I have experimented with lots of light options over the years. Lately I have used a product from Wuben Light Systems called the B2 with a rechargeable 3.7 volt battery which you can order as an extra. http://www.wubenlight.com The B2 can be adapted to mount on your helmet as well as your handlebars. I recommend using the 4800AH 21700 heavy duty rechargeable battery. I would replace the stock battery with these and order an extra for your pack as a spare. The whole system is $39.00 and the extra batteries are in the neighborhood of 20 bucks. A considerable improvement from the old days and the best is……………..they are wireless. No more dealing with light cords. Rechargeable and cordless. Super convenient. And they provide a nice white bright light with plenty of lumens.
Another improvement has been clothing. Riding in the winter takes fortitude and the last thing you want is to be cold. I use Endura products for general riding. http://www.endurasport.com These shorts and items can also be found on Amazon but the winter riding outfit of choice is the MT500 jacket and pants. A great outfit for winter riding. Pricey but definitely worth it. Keeps you warm and protected from the wind. I can thank my buddy Bob Kowalski for the tip on this product. The Endura MT500 takes a lot of punishment like the shorts that I use in the summer, and do very well with multiple washings.
Ok, now to the heart of the matter. I don’t like to be inside for exercise. I am not a gym guy and I like to be outside all the time to exercise. I have ridden mountain bikes since 1987 and lights have always extended the season for me and it can for you as well. Fat bikes are popular for when the snow comes and you would be amazed at how much traction you can get on snow packed trails. I personally use a 29er plus bike with 3 inch tires- my winter bike. My friends use studs in their tires when it gets icy. But I am not that hard core. When the trails ice up- I switch to hiking with Yaktrax ice spikes- but that is another story. The bottom line is you can be outside all year long if you want and get that clean, cold, fresh air all the time.
Riding in the winter is also very peaceful especially when it snows. Our local trails are quiet and the skies are filled with stars that help light your way with a cooperative moon cycle. Most of the time the trails are just frozen and dry. But the occasional snowstorm makes things interesting. Lots of funny stories out there too with breakdowns, battery issues, and general malaise that takes place when you do things in the cold at night. The innovative ways our guys work through issues are well remembered during our summer and fall rides with laughter around the camp chairs with the beers. ” Hey, remember when what’s his name lost both lights on a downhill and wiped out in the snow?” Funny stuff. To most people this may seem like a cold, fruitless activity. But for those of us who ride most of the year, night riding is fun and can keep you in good shape when most people retire to their couch for the winter. If you can hang in there during the winter, the spring “get in shape” time doesn’t have to be so painful.
So, if any of you are contemplating an alternative form of exercise this winter, consider extending your season by night riding. I have always enjoyed it and if you have the right equipment and clothing, you can too. Thanks for reading and ……think snow!!!
Kind of a Yoda like title but really- it’s true. Where you are…….it’s happening. Just like this fall for the last three weeks around these parts. The fall colors have been spectacular, the weather sunny and cool. So many people have remarked how wonderful the fall weather has been in the northeast and no matter where you are………it’s happening. Enjoy it, relish it, and get lost in the moments.
My last stretch of this fall weather and spectacular colors began three weeks ago in Bradford, Pa. Driving up through the Allegheny National Forest was nothing short of breathtaking. The sun was out, and my wife Janet and I took in the drive and also our time at one of our favorite places up there which I posted about last week. Whether you are a hiker, a road cyclist, or a mountain biker, all of these activities have been enhanced by the spectacular fall season around here.
I even had the opportunity to see two black bear cubs on one of my rides up there that had me jazzed for days.
The next week at Laurel Mountain was again – perfect weather, riding mountain bikes with a great group from Pittsburgh Off Road Cyclists and the group from the Laurel Highlands Off Road Bicycling Association. 45+ riders and all taking in one of the last fall weekends in the Laurel Highlands. Miles of smiles and a fun after ride party in the lot up there.
Weekday rides at our local parks have been really scenic too. The colors even in my own neighborhood have been brilliant and the riding and hiking locally has been cool, clear, and colorful.
Finally- this weekend I ventured south just across the border into Wild Wonderful West Virginia. A place where I love to ride and a place that holds so many wonderful riding memories for me. This time it was at Cooper’s Rock State Forest.
The group I was with this weekend were the Adventuremen. http://www.adventuremen.org. Adventuremen or Dirt Church is a group of really fun guys from Western Pa and West Virginia who not only are good riders, but also love the Lord in an outdoor setting. We can all appreciate the Creation with the fall scenery and the Adventuremen make it happen. This was the second Adventuremen outing this fall and Dirt Church was in session at Cooper’s Rock and also at Laurel earlier in the year.
Aside from all the ravings about the leaves and the weather, the point of all of this is – where you are……..it is happening. I hear so many people say” I wish I was somewhere else, I wish I was out west or down south.” The fact of the matter is all of those folks are enjoying their weather and their fall seasons. But we have a lot right here in Western Pa. and West Virginia. We just need to appreciate what we have. Sure the west is cool and other places in the country have their appeal. But everyone needs to appreciate their home turf. I am sure some of them are saying what a beautiful fall it is out east right now. But no need to do that……..enjoy where you are.
I watched the World Cup ski race from Solden, Austria this weekend and as much as I am wanting to ski, I love the fall. I am in no hurry for this to end and I hope we can get some more of this spectacular weather for a little while longer. Enjoy what we have, get out in it, and take in a huge breath of cool, crisp, fall air. Thanks for reading.
If you ever wanted to take your significant other to a fabulous place for a special occasion or just any occasion for that matter, look no further than the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, Pa. My wife Janet and I have visited this place at least 10 times and every time we go, we are amazed at what a great experience it is.
This particular trip, we went at peak foliage season as Bradford, Pa is in the northern reaches of Pennsylvania right near the New York state border. As we drove through the Allegheny National Forest, we entered Glendorn through the black iron gates and it is always like we are taking a trip back in time to a place that does everything right. The staff is always so friendly when you arrive, and they are more than happy to oblige with anything you might need. The rooms and cabins are decorated with artifacts from the Dorn family who were the original owners of the estate. The cabins are not what you think because when you walk in to any one of them, you are amazed at the fine linens, beautiful artwork and fresh flowers that welcome you. The lodge rooms are beautiful and if you wanted to take another couple or two, you can rent anyone of the cabins because they have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
The food is amazing as Chef David Haick creates breakfasts, lunches and dinners with fresh produce from local farms and orchards, local meat and fish selections, and can even prepare picnic lunches if you want to explore the property outside of the dining room. My wife can also attest to the quality of the Forest Spa, on site, which can refresh sore and tired muscles with deep tissue massage and many other spa services.
I particularly like the 1500 acres and their trails that are available for hiking, mountain biking, and cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. We always alpine ski up the road at Holimont in Ellicottville, N.Y which is only a 40 minute drive from Glendorn. Lots of outside activities including fly fishing( Glendorn received the Orvis Resort of the Year back in 2016), and skeet and trap shooting. Guides are available to assist upon request and are very knowledgeable. Another note of interest is that The Lodge at Glendorn is listed in the Relais and Chateau book of top resorts in the world. It is quite an honor to be listed here and Glendorn has been on the list for many years.
The amazing thing to me is that amidst the luxury at the resort, you can wander out to the trails in the 1500 acres adjacent to the Allegheny National Forest and feel like you are a million miles away from anything. I was riding my mountain bike on this recent trip after hiking with Janet, and a huge turkey or pheasant ( not sure) flew right over my handlebars and scared the heck out of me. Right after that while descending a trail, I stopped to see two black bear cubs scampering up a tree right in front of me. I snapped a shot but then got out of there quickly because I know mama was around somewhere and most likely would have taken a dim view of me taking photos of her cubs. I dropped my post and descended the trail quite rapidly.
Of the many places where Janet and I have traveled, this is definitely one of our favorites and the great thing is that it is only a 3 hour drive from our home. No airports, no rental cars, just pack up your stuff and go. I have posted about The Lodge at Glendorn before, but I felt compelled to talk about it again because it is truly spectacular. You have to try it yourself and you will definitely rebook if you do. Warren Miller, the great ski movie producer always said, “If you don’t do it this year, you will be another year older when you do.” This is so true and why not visit The Lodge at Glendorn soon? Cliff and Tracy Forrest, the owners, have done a marvelous job of capturing the essence of a wilderness resort with first class lodging, dining and activities in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Go visit. I am not going to tell you again. LOL!! Thanks for reading.
I have always liked gizmos. I had Polar heart rate monitors for many years as well as sports watches and devices mounted to my bike to tell me my mileage. I regularly entered information into Velo-News logs about rides, who I rode with, maximum heart rates, and all kinds of information that was interesting to me as a weekend warrior. I had the first app on the I-phone for calculating vertical feet when skiing, and when the creators of Alpine Replay( the name of the app at the time) saw that my buddy Hutch and I had broken the one day record each for his app( 57,000 vertical feet in one day at Northstar at Tahoe), they texted me wanting to know more about us. I had a backup battery in my parka so as not to lose any data and to make sure I collected all the vertical from 8:30 AM until 4:00 PM that day. In any event, I have always liked these things and they have been of particular interest to me with their amazing technology.
So at the suggestion of my friend Mark ” the Shark” Sauers, I recently purchased a Garmin Fenix 6 X Sapphire watch. It was available on the Amazon Prime sale and I got a good deal on it. I had not purchased anything like this in a while and have been amazed at the data and information that it provides. I am only using a fraction of that data because I am not a real techie. But what I have discovered is very interesting but the watch is starting to make me feel bad. It is subtle in it’s insults and I am hoping that the information I entered as an aging athlete would have tempered it’s comments. But to no avail. This thing in a subtle way admonishes me, and I am starting to think it has a personality all of its own.
To give you an example, it tells me I am a poor sleeper and I need to focus on getting better rest. I think I have had a decent nights sleep but I guess with the frequent trips to the bathroom as an older guy, it senses that I am not getting enough REM, and deep sleep. And it lectures me. ” Although you slept enough, your sleep was restless.” ” Try a white noise machine or earplugs.”
There is a measurement called load focus which tells me I am balanced based on my running Vo2 max trend. It tells me that my training load is sufficient to maintain fitness but I need to work out longer and more often to improve. WTH- I am riding four days a week on my mountain bike. I don’t race anymore and ride to ride again. I use my mountain bike for exercise. But this thing says I am loafing. Come on!!! Guys I went to high school with are coming home and getting a hot bath and watching Fox News. They have one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel but my Garmin won’t give me any slack.
When I look at the training effect measurement after a two hour weekday ride, it says,” This activity enhanced your ability to maintain a moderate pace for a longer amount of time” ” You gained a slight anaerobic benefit from this activity” My heart was pounding at 169 beats per minute on many climbs. I would argue about the moderate pace. I thought it was a pretty good pace at close to 8.5 MPH moving average speed. Come on Garmin- I am an old dude. It did say I had 64 minutes of vigorous intensity and 22 minutes of moderate intensity, so what gives? I think it just likes to insult me.
This winter, it says that there are over 2000 ski areas mapped into the Garmin. So wherever I am , I should be able to map how many vertical feet I log without going to the standard I-Phone app for vertical feet. I wonder if it will tell me I am lazy or not making enough turns? How will it insult me on the slopes? The watch has an app that connects to on my I Phone called Garmin Connect. It takes the data from the watch and downloads it to the app. So both the watch and the app double team me. Admonishment from two sources.
Speed, Timing, Heart Rate, Training Effect, Elevation, Nutrition and Hydration, Temperature MTB Dynamics, and Intensity Minutes. What did I do do deserve this? TMI if you ask me but I was the one who bought the watch. So buyer beware!! If you sale for one of these watches and you are an aging athlete like me, be ready to be humiliated by a device. I am sure in its own little way- it is trying to motivate me, but my giddup and go for a lot of these measurements has gone up and left. I just need the basics to give me the data on the rides or the slopes. I don’t need much more than that. But I will still look at the watch. Heck, I sleep with it to get the after hours measurements. It is part of me now. Thanks Shark!!! Thanks for reading.
Organized mountain bike rides are usually a lot of fun, especially when they are in the Laurel Highlands. Great trails, sunshine, beautiful state forest greenery, and challenging rock sections. But this day was special among the scores of organized rides at this time of year. http://www.adventuremen.org was the host with the founder Greg Nass at the helm. Adventuremen is an organization of Christian men who enjoy the outdoors together. The signature event is Adventurefest which is a camping event the weekend before Father’s Day. Great speakers, bonfires, mini-bike riding, fishing, Harley riding, mountain bike riding at Raystown, basketball, air cannons, drones, and a plethora of other activities that make the weekend a blast. The venue is at Agape Farm and I have posted on it before. Great group of guys and a great event. But Greg and I decided it was time to branch out from the fest and perhaps schedule some outside events like the ride at Laurel Mountain. It was special on many fronts.
First of all, my pal Jeff Chetlin came with his wife Julie- even though technically it is a men’s event. Julie rides the rocks better than anybody though, and she was a welcome addition. Jeff, as I have posted before, is returning from a stroke about a year ago and this was his first ride back on some technical trails. Our buddy Pete and Jeff rode together and it was amazing that Jeff has made the comeback due to a lot of hard work on his part and answered prayer. Julie rode the rocks with us. Jeff will ride them soon.
Next amazing story was my pal Tom Tiernan. He has come back twice from cancer and was in terrific shape. Tom pays a lot of attention to his fitness and it showed on the ride in the Laurels. He is an amazingly enthusiastic guy despite some pretty major health setbacks. He enjoys life and really likes mountain bike riding as well as road cycling. He is back and his health and fitness show it. And he talks the whole ride- can’t figure it out. He must have lungs of iron. He and I wouldn’t let anyone else get a word in edgewise. LOL!!!
The group was rounded out by the dentists- Steve Gurtner, and his pals Brad and Sean. All great riders with whom I have ridden many times. Along with Steve’s son Dan who decided to ride with the old guys this day. Julie and Jeff were in the dental field as well and if any one of us had any issues with our teeth on the ride- well we were covered. Roger Evans brought his posse up from West Virginia. Roger and I ride at Adventurefest every year at Raystown and it was great to see him again. My pal Sandy McKee came along and all in all- 16 riders of different backgrounds, faiths, believers, non-believers, and general good guys all hooted and hollered as we left the parking lot after a thoughtful prayer by Greg asking for protection. Greg also asked for prayer requests which were numerous in coming.
The cool thing about the outing was that even though it was sponsored by a faith based outdoor organization, there was nothing uncomfortable about it. Everyone, no matter if you have faith or no faith, likes to have a prayer said on their behalf. Greg handled it with grace and it was well received. The misnomer about a lot of Christian men is that they are extremists, right wing, condescending when nothing could be further than the truth. Real Christians recognize that they are sinners and in need of the Savior. There was no uncomfortable discussion, no shoving anything down anyone’s throat, just plain fun in the mountains on our bikes. Christian guys are not weirdos. Just come to Adventurefest and see for yourself. They know the good news of the Gospel and are willing to share it, only if asked. Just normal Joes like the most of us. No need to be intimidated by Christian men whose battle cry at the front of the pack was “Halle……….then the back of the pack responds ……..lujah.” And the whole group chuckles and keeps riding.
Mountain biking is a cool way to get 16 guys together and 1 cool lady for some exercise and fun in the woods, with some great dialog. People have issues, or have friends and family with issues, and no better people to discuss them with than the guys from Adventuremen at what they call ” Dirt Church.” I am happy to be associated with them and in fact Greg asked me to be on their board. I was truly honored. So guess what he gets out of me? An enthusiastic guy who organizes fun rides or as I call them Pleasant Pat Peddling. I am going to try to organize some more rides, hikes and even a ski day or 2. Check with me or http://www.adventuremen.org. Adventuremen on Facebook and Dirt Church on Facebook. If you have interest, join one of these FB groups and get all the latest information on rides and events. Greg, Shark, Pete and I invite everyone and it is amazing who God puts together. Normal people – mountain bike riders – in the woods, discussing life and its ups and downs, and how faith in the Lord can fuse it all together. Thanks for reading.
” So Pete, what made us think we would escape the rain, roots and mud of riding in West Virginia?” I said this as my friend Pete Hilton and I made our way through the Backcountry Trails at Silver Creek right outside of Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia. We decided to take a flyer and go see the World Cup Cross Country Races and get a ride in too. We have a lot of experience over 30 years of riding mountain bikes in West Virginia for different events and unfortunately it rains most of the time. But somehow, that adds to the allure of the place and we kind of expect it. When we went to the Word Cup finals last year, it was a hot, sunny weekend. But that was a first. At the Wild 100s, the 24 Hour Races, the NORBA Nationals, the Fat Tire Festivals over the years- it always rained………….and that’s ok believe it or not.
So Pete picks me up at 4:00 AM and we take the drive to Snowshoe from Pittsburgh. About a 4 hour jaunt and when we get there, we get our tickets for the races and then head to Silver Creek. The long and the short of that is we got lost because I started out on the wrong trail. We had a long, rocky, climb and eventually ended up in the woods on a trail system that we had ridden before. Rooty, muddy , slimy and all around West Virginia treacherous snot fest. But we survived as usual and got back to the van and changed clothes and headed to the races. We met up with our Pittsburgh contingent and took in the expo area and saw a lot of the new bikes and equipment and also saw some of the racers who were warming up for the respective women’s and men’s cross country events.
As we made our way to the start line and then to the course, it began to sprinkle and then about halfway through the women’s race, the skies opened up in true West Virginia fashion. We were positioned at this amazingly muddy and steep downhill and witnessed some of the most skillful bike handling you will ever see. Take the time to watch the races on Red Bull TV and you will see how difficult the course became and how well the women rode. My MVP for the day was Jolanda Neff of Switzerland who bombed down the muddy, slimy, rock infested descent and bridged to the lead group to finish on the podium. An amazing feat of fitness and skill was on display for all of us to see in a truly biblical, torrential downpour.
The men were next and it seemed to be raining even harder as Hank, Samra, Pete and I hung out in the North Face Store just to stay a little dry although we were totally soaked. We welcomed people into the North Face Store jokingly hoping not to get thrown out. But eventually we made our way to the wicked fast start and eventually back to that treacherous downhill to see how the men handled it. Well, not only are the speeds higher than the women, but the fearless attacks in the torrent both on the climbs and on the descents were impressive.
Although the weather was really foul, the amazing thing about the whole event is the people. First off, the fans are truly enthusiastic and no matter how badly they were soaked, their cheerful attitude and encouraging voices and cowbell rings, buoyed the riders on. The Red Bull TV people all comment on the enthusiastic fans at Snowshoe and it was on display even in the raging rainstorm.
The athletes, managers, and employees of the manufacturers at the booths are amazingly approachable and always happy to oblige with a picture or a discussion. There is something in the air at Snowshoe that makes it a great venue for mountain biking and mountain bike racing. People are friendly, and the visiting athletes from all over the world are always glad to come here. Even though it is quite remote, it is like a gem in the wilderness of West Virginia and the people of mountain biking make the venue even more special.
On our way out, Pete and I stopped at the Almost Heaven Smoke House at the bottom of the mountain on the way out to RT219. Great bar b que if you visit and the owners are hard working and friendly – typical of the locals of West Virginia who embrace the World Cup every year. I am hoping that the UCI always hosts the World Cup at Snowshoe and we can continue to see world class athletes show us all how it is done. Nothing like the races and nothing like the people of the mountain bike community.
We headed home after the men’s races were over and the four hour drive back seemed to fly by with our enthusiastic recounting of the events of the day. A long day for a couple of guys in their 60s but what the hell- go for it. Spending the weekend is the way to go, but Pete and I had other things that precluded that. But we made the effort, got a ride in, and saw some great racing in the wilds of West Virginia. It truly is ” Almost Heaven” even when it rains. Thanks for reading.