Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Baseline to Measure my Riding

Tuesday I needed to get a break in. Andrea was sensitive to the fact that I have been running ragged lately, so she graciously let me go mountain biking with my racer buddies Eddie and Andy, and my co-worker, Ed.

I was able to head over to the Novi Tree Farm to meet the guys. After about 20 minutes of setting up bikes and letting everyone get ready, the four of us were off.

Novi is a relatively flat trail. I would be surprised if there was 200' of climbing. That is not to say that it is an easy trail. Novi is twisty and tight with few sections that allow you to build good speed and momentum. The climbs always come after tough switchback turns. There are a lot of bumps and obstacles that throw off your flow, too. In its eleven miles a rider can get pretty surprised at how he can bomb and blow up if he is not careful.

Andy is the fastest singlespeed rider I know. He is young, light, and full of energy. He has some of the best, well rounded skills of any rider in any discipline to boot. Eddie is a muscle, health freak. He is a former downhill racer and rides everything like it was his last ride. Ed is 55 and a former open heart surgery survivor. Don't let that fool you. He is an accomplished road rider and has calves the size of bowling balls. Then there is me. I am fat, and look like Andre the Giant compared to the three of them side by side. Tell me how you think this ride is going to turn out???

Well, we got going. In the first two minutes I was in front of the group so Andy could see how the big bike moves. Not long into this I hear "crack kills", and check my shorts. They were pulled up all the way. Man, I must be so big that my rear end reaches to my shoulder blades... It was about then that I let them pass.
After each section of the trail the guys waited for me to catch up. The sections were all about 2 miles or so. The order of riders would always be Andy, Eddie,.. Ed,....... Me. They would stop and wait, but I would just catch up make some small clothing adjustments and continue to ride. I made it my goal not to stop for more than thirty seconds at a time.

Overall, Andy and Eddie turned in a 57 minute run. This was expected for them. Ed turned in a 1 hour and 3 minute run. I came in at 1:15. I was very excited with this baseline. It was slow for many riders, but for a fat guy on a big bike to be within 18 minutes of two state champion endurance racers, I was really stoked! I think the guys were really happy about this as well. They have been really good friends to me through a long time and know that riding like this is a real challenge for me.

This baseline gives me something to shoot to beat over the coming months.

Monday, April 21, 2008

First Dirt 2008

It is that time of year again. Everyone says that at every season or holiday. Ah, but this is special. This is the time of year when I can finally ride my bike on the dirt. After 4 months of spinning away on my trainer I finally get to commune with nature. It is a wonderful thing.

Here is how it happened. We were at the Master Builders Spring Regional (audio here) and my buddy, Pastor Ken's daughter, Mimi, starts playing the cute, sweet card to see if I will take her biking. Well, I had a lot to do, but I really wanted to go, so I didn't answer. Mimi took that as a yes and the next day of the regional her and dad showed up with all of their biking gear. Needless to say As soon as it was over and all of the cleanup from the luncheon was done we were on the way home to pick up the boys and the bikes.
This was my first ride back on a cross country bike in a looooooooooong time. Normally I like to do downhill and freeride stuff, so this was like a challenge to me. I also like to ride my Enduro as it is the best bike ever made, so this new Soul Cycles Dillinger 29er was a really different feel.

First impressions of the first dirt for the year. Well, I can tell that I have been on the trainer. I had a lot of energy and was pedaling smooth. I was able to ride everything and really enjoyed it. All of the kids had a great time and that was a plus. Pastor Ken was pretty happy to get out and move. It ended up being a really fun afternoon.

I noticed this bike is tall. 29 inch wheels are a lot taller than you would think. I had done a lot of research as I have two new frames I could have built up. I am actually glad I started here. The 29er does have its quirks, but it seemed to fit my riding style quite nicely. I was able to adjust to handling this big rig in a matter of minutes and went from timid to terror. Ok, I didn't really go to terror as I am very slow. The training helped my endurance, but I still have no speed to speak of .

The lack of suspension didn't bother me either. I must admit that I think that I like a full rigid bike for xc. I was thinking that I may need to get a suspension fork, but it ended up feeling nice and responsive on its own, and the big wheels seemed to roll over stuff more easily. I also liked the rigidity of the rear end. I was able to climb things I haven't climbed in the last year. That is a big accomplishment as this body isn't meant for climbing.

Nothing notable happened on this trip. It wasn't like one of my previous first rides. It was just a fun, relaxing, enjoyable afternoon on the bike with my boys and my friends. Since my schedule is going to be jam packed this summer I will be sneaking in my rides as much as possible. I think I will probably be riding during lunch just to fit it in...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I gots da Gimmies

I had a very depressing meeting with the doctor this week. I have a feeling that it might even get worse. When that happens I get down. The first thing I do when I get down is head to McDonald's for one or two of these tasty Egg McMuffins.

Because this depressing news has to do with my weight I will need to head off the Casual Male XL for new clothes to fit, as most of mine are getting too tight. Of course this is depressing, too so I need to go eat a sensible lunch at my favorite restaurant Cafe Sushi where I can enjoy some fine dining.

Since I am getting so fat, and nothing seems to stop it, I will need to upgrade my mountain bike to one of these just to hold my weight. Most bikes are built for an average 200lb rider for everyday cross country, so that means my current bikes will crumble under my size. It will be depressing to ride a near 40 pound bike through the trail, but it is what I deserve in my current state. The problem here is that no companies make mountain bike clothes in my size, so I will be forced to wear Vanilla Ice Jumpers.

Unfortunately I may just be too fat to ride, and will have to increase my XBOX time, so I might as well get this new TV from Best Buy. If I am diabetic I will have to cut back on Culvers.

Of course I will have to change my eating habits, so I will go back to the McDougall Diet. Or I may have to join Jenny Craig. Maybe I will have to join Bally's. If so, I will need a heart rate monitor so I stay in my target zones. I hope I don't over do it. I might need to get some home fitness stuff as well.

While I sat here typing this my problem became painfully obvious as my dog peed on the floor. While cleaning it I had a hard time bending over and ripped my pajama pants. I will have to get a new pair of those now.

Man, this is a depressing and expensive post. Can't I go to the doctor and get some good news for a change???

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Vision, Vision, Vision

Well, the last several months I have really been challenged by the Lord. As the three of you who read my blog know, I finally got the guts to sit down with my wife and my senior pastors to tell them about the vision to plant a church that has been growing inside me. After that I started talking about it out in public as my pastor directed. This has really stretched me. I think actually telling others with the blessing of my pastor has been a very humbling experience. This is all topic for another blog, though...

So we have been rolling along with youth ministry, then the Father lets me know I need to change direction with the youth. This has been a good thing for our youth. We have a small group, but I must admit that they have been a blessing, and I have seen the Lord work in them in many ways.

It all started when I was praying about the vision to plant this church. I was on the road spending time with Father and was impressed about the need to impart vision now. As I was thinking on this He reminded me about David as a young man. From there He reminded me of a number of young men in the Bible and showed me how they had the same vision.

Then, my pastor has been corresponding with a young pastor in Alabama, I believe. This young man sent him an Mp3 of one of his recent sermons. Guess what??? It was very similar to what the Lord was speaking to me above.

David was a young man in the place where Father pointed me to. He was asked by his mother to bring some food to his older brothers who were in the army. Those brothers were sitting in a camp waiting for a battle to begin. These guys were trained for battle. They were military men and ready for war, but something stood in their way.

On the other side of the field stood a big obstacle. A large man, somewhere near 9' tall opposed the army that David's brothers belonged to. He issued a challenge to the army daily, "One of you face me." I am sure this army was versed in battle, but they were versed in a certain type of fighting and this giant fighting wasn't it. Also, how would you like to be the one who loses to this guy and causes your whole army to be enslaved to the enemy???

David didn't like the smack he heard going out from this guy, though. To talk bad about the army was one thing, but to talk about David's God was another thing. Anger burned inside David. He knew God. God was his friend, his provider, his protector, his father, and spent time loving him daily as he attended sheep. He went to God as he was lone and had no one to talk to. He was comforted and guided by God. This person on the other side of the field needed to be taught a lesson. I can hear David's thoughts, "This guy has to go... No one talks about god like that and gets away with it, that dirty blasphemer..."

Let me sum this thought up for the sake of time as I have a lot to talk about here. His brothers were a little annoyed with David as they had been trained for battle. King Saul had been trained for battle as well. As a matter of fact, if you have already read the story, you know the Israelite army could whip the Philistine army. So what is my point? The Israelite army was paralyzed by not knowing how to face this enemy. This enemy was an enemy of God, though, and David had a real, lasting, relationship driven vision of the Father and nothing was going to drag His name in the mud while David could do something about it. It took a person with a vision of Father to release an army to fulfill its destiny.

Let's look at the older brothers and the whole army as the "adult church", and look at David as the "young church" for a minute. I believe that there is a need for young people to rise up and take a stand against the enemy. I know you may have heard that before, but I think too often the older church has missed the point, leaving another generation burned out. Since I focused on the young church in the youth ministry, I will continue to do so here.

I believe that if the young people of the church truly seek Father, and get a true vision of Him, and oppose the enemy, that the older generation will be able to move forward in battle and the whole body of Christ will be able to achieve victory over the enemy of our times.

You might be saying a couple of things:

  1. You keep mentioning vision, what's up with that?

  2. What enemies?

I guess I will answer them in order.

What is up with Vision?

As we know, the Bible says that without vision, people cast off restraint and perish. I have noticed that a large number of Christians have lost some sense of vision. I have also noted that the older we get, the more vision we lose. I have also noticed that when I am not wrapped up in thinking about Father I am an easy target for the enemy to sneak up and get me sinning. Vision is essential for the Christian. If we do not have vision we follow aimlessly. If we do not have vision we get caught up in "good" rituals. If we do not have vision we can miss Him entirely. For this I submit the following test I found (this test is actually for cycling, but I think it makes a strong point)

As you can see, it is easy to miss something you are not looking for. This is why it is imperative that we seek Him for His vision. We need to seek Him to know Him. We need to know Him to see Him. we need to see Him to have a vision of Him. We need to have a vision of Him to have His vision for the world.

What enemy?
There are so many enemies to our world right now. In our particular area some of them are:

  • For God and Country

  • The American Dream

  • Family above _____

  • Materialism

  • Poverty

  • Injustice

  • Racism

I will point out here that I left a number of holes in this blog. I purposely didn't put the scripture in because if you read it I hope you would know where to find the passages. I thought it would be fun to see if anyone can mark the verses.

Second, I left a number of holes in here as there were a month worth of sermons to our youth. I can't do them all justice.

Third, I just want to hear your thoughts.