Musings

Rambles from the middle of the pack. 

My Worst Peak to Peak (And Why You Should Think About What You Eat)

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One Shitty Peak to Peak

For the record, I've had many positive experiences at Peak to Peak over the years. Even when the weather is terrible, you still get incredible views from the top of the ski hill once you crest the backside climb. The venue itself, Crystal Mountain, is an absolute gem of a resort in the Midwest, so anytime I get to go hang out there, I do. The course is fast and fun, plus, you know, there's beer.

But I did have one bad race at P2P, albeit had nothing to do with the venue or the race organization. It had everything to do with something called Magic Shapes.

Don't Eat Magic Shapes

At 25, nutrition doesn't really factor into a lot of your culinary decisions. At least, it didn't for me. I went through college eating turkeys sandwiches, PB&J toast, and cheese sticks as the basis of my diet. I had zero issues pounding three bowls of Fruity Pebbles and then doing a two-hour ride, followed by two or three or six beers with friends to follow. I'd wake up the next day and do it again. No issues.

But at 26, that started to change. I'd get an irritable gut every so often during a ride or a run. Not terribly frequent, but it did happen at a frequency where I began to consider my food intake prior to rides. I did a lot of thinking about the issue, but didn't actually change anything. You know. Because I was 26.

My moment of bowel-movement induced catharsis came at Peak to Peak that year.

The Race to the Lodge

I knew in warm-ups that something wasn't quite right. I had eaten Magic Shapes, which is the generic version of Lucky Charms, for breakfast because I thought it was quite thrifty to not pay extra for brand names. Still feel the same way about that. But at the time, it had caused me to feel queasy. Not nauseous. Just a little off. By halfway through the first lap, I know something horrible was happening inside me. I was riding with some of the Elite women and I was pretty sure they could see my face going red with embarrassment. I had arrived at a very inconvenient truth; my race today had nothing to do with the rest of the participants. My future dignity hinged entirely on my ability to make it back to the lodge at Crystal before my Spandex became as equally unenviable a place to be as North Korea.

Somehow, following a death-defying descent of the ski hill to the finish, I made it to the lodge in time to avoid an extremely embarrassing episode. Relieved, in more ways than one, I vowed to take a larger interest in the food I eat. It's been a long period of transformation, but a few cookies here and there aside, I've come leaps and bounds from my days of Magic Shapes and Fruity Pebbles.

Some Resources to Check Out

I'm way into blogs, and I've found a few good ones that I check out from time to time for motivation more than anything else. athletefood.com  has some really cool recipes, as well as excellently-written blog posts about competing at the highest-levels in triathlon.

The whole vegan thing has become more interesting to me recently, too. Tim Coffey is a believer, and so is Ryan Kennedy. Ryan is having a vegan meeting about going vegan that I'm going to try to make it to next week.

I guess I'm saying you are what you eat, so don't eat stuff that induces emergency bathroom visits.

Summer Bike Riding - 2017

The summer that was. From riding with the Norte kids to Ron's Ride to the start of Out and Back season, it's been one hell of a year for riding bikes in TC and around Michigan. Thanks for letting me ride with y'all and waiting up for me. Much appreciated. 

More low-quality pictures can be viewed on my Instagram.

Racing Bikes is All About Losing

Getting beat. Badly. But having fun.

Getting beat. Badly. But having fun.

I haven't won a bike race in six years. It's unlikely that I'll win one anytime soon, too. I train hard, (sort of) watch what I eat, and strive to be a faster bike rider in every other conceivable way. Even with all that time, money, and effort, my quest for victory remains Quixotic. 

And I'm far from alone. 99% of the people at a bike race lose. And by lose, I mean get beat by one guy or gal who takes the top step of the podium. In a society best summed up by a quote from a contemporary American philosopher, "If you ain't first, you're last." -Ricky Bobby. It's difficult to understand by anyone want to go pay good money to, in all likelihood, get beat. 

So, why race at all? For me, it's about the process. It's about trying to lose a few extra pounds, take 10 seconds off a Strava segment, or keep up with another cyclist who usually kicks seven shades of shit out of me. Adding a race in there is extra motivation to get out to ride, push yourself, and set a new goal. If it was about winning, I'd undoubtedly fail. Every single race. But since it's more about racing myself, I can be satisfied with how I've improved, or in a worst case, how I came up short.  

The key here is to not let a fear of losing keep you from racing. There's always going to be someone faster than you. Even if you master the Expert class, moving up to Elite guarantees you get whipped at least a few times before you triumph. And if you start winning the Elite classes here in Northern Michigan, go race a WORS event and be prepared to get humbled. Instead of focusing on winning, or even podiums, focus on the work that will make you a faster rider. Not even a faster rider compared to others, but rather a faster rider compared to your past self.  

Let's Do This Damn Thing: Fall 2017

Cherry Roubaix 2017

Cherry Roubaix 2017

It's been a long time since I've written. That's down to one unavoidable character trait, I supposed. Laziness. Just general laziness. Sorry about that. I'm working on it.

Life

I've also changed jobs mid-summer, and it took a little while to get my feet underneath me again after that transpired. All is well at VP Associations and I'm pumped to be back with the company and doing what I do best - calling people and buying them lunches. 

Summer

It's been a great summer for bike riding, too. I lined up for Cherry-Roubaix, despite not riding a road bike but for a handful of times all summer. It was a grueling day, but it was an absolute thrill to see a few hundred Lycra-clad goombas pedal down Front St. on a beautiful August day. That's a race I'll always do, whether I'm fit or not, because it's one of those events that you talk about for weeks after. The other event of such a high caliber being, as you'd imagine, taking place on dirt in November. 

What's Next

But before we talk about Iceman, there are two races that I'm really looking forward to. The first is the Bear Claw Epic. It was the race that got me decidedly more motivated to race bikes again last year, and that was due to it being one of the most fun races I've ever been part of. No, not in 2016. It was one of the best races I've ever done. Ever. Full stop. It's expertly ran, the money goes to benefit the Cadillac Pathway, and the course itself is ideally suited to racing. Fast, fun, with ample room to pass, the Bear Claw Epic course is one of the best places to pedal a bicycle in anger. 

Next up, I'll be taking on Peak to Peak, one of the Fall Classics that the dingleberry over at kolo tc goes on about. It's usually mentioned as a great warm up race for Iceman, but the competition and the course are more than worthy of being a prime motivator in one's fall race campaign in and of themselves. Most of the Experts and Elites will need 2:15 or more to finish the race, which makes it longer than Iceman in duration. Also, the ascent of the ski hill makes it an inherently dynamic race, which is in stark contrast to the attrition and luck based virtues of Iceman Cometh. 

Of course, the big daddy of fall is the Iceman Cometh. Over 4,000 people. Completely unpredictable weather. Fitness levels all over the place due to weather and the waning of summer's light. It's the race that keeps on our bikes and on our indoor trainers through September and October, and it's the race that means so much to so many. I'm aiming for my best Iceman ever (aren't we all?) this year and it's been this race that has been in my mind since, well, Iceman 2016. Every cookie, every beer consumed over the last year will be cursed and questioned once Iceman roles around. If only I had ridden more miles, if only I had watched my diet - the ifs, ands, or buts gel with the coulda, wouldas, and shouldas, that form the unquietable doubts in the minds of every rider on the start line. 

Let's Do This

#OperationThighGap2.0 commenced today in the hopes of reaching my ideal race weight in time for Peak to Peak. For me, this is the peak of the season and, for once, I want to be prepared like I used to be back in the proverbial day. Cody said on our ride today that I'm soft, like a puffed-pastry filled with custard. I hate custard-filled pastries, and I despise being compared both physically and mentally to one. Simply put, it's on. Autumnal amateur bike racing will never witness a transformation quite like that which is about to transpire. I shall enter my cacoon of training a chubby, soft cyclist and emerge a hardened, indomitable god of shaved legs and svelte physique. 

happy trails.

Spring Blog Update

I know you were all at home, wringing your hands with worry that I hadn't blogged in a few weeks. To all three of you reading this, I am indeed alive and well. I wanted to let you all know what I've been up to, as well as what I'm looking forward to over the next few weeks. To the one person still reading this, thanks. You're the best, Mom.

Diet Stuff

I'm down to 171! I have been eating slightly better, but the big change is when I don't drink beer. Delicious, wonderful beer. It's been tough, but a week without beer and I drop two pounds without changing anything else.

Race Stuff

Barry-Roubaix was miserable. Cold, rainy, muddy and just an overall challenge for the mind - more so even than it was for the body. I was signed up for the 62-mile, but I bailed and rode back on the 36-mile course. I was frozen, couldn't see a damn thing, and wished I had just hung out at the cafe in downtown Hastings. They had killer cookies. After the race, while warming up on Tyler Kuenig's sweet van (#vanlife), I wasn't overly disappointed about pulling the plug. I climbed really well, which has always been my Achilles heel, so I figured I was ahead of the curve. Next up is Mud, Sweat and Beers in TC in early May. I should be going pretty well by then. As long as I can stay away from the beer.

After MSB, I'm signed up for the 100-miler at the Bike Benzie Grand Fondo. It's one of my favorite rides that I did last year. The course is beautiful, challenging, and it's for a great cause. If you haven't done this one yet, you really need to. Whether you race it or cruise, you're sure to have an incredible morning in Benzie County. 

Life Stuff

I teach indoor cycling at Yen  Yoga & Fitness and once a month we've done a FUNdraising class. So far, we've raised money for Food Rescue, Safe Harbor, Norte!, the NMC Foundation and a few others. It's been so cool to organize and help get the word out about these awesome groups. If I could just ride my bike and raise money for a living, I would. It's a blast. 

Sponsor Stuff

I'm riding for Kolo t.c. this year, a blog that Cody does, and me and Brian Beckwith help out with when we can. We get jerseys at cost, which is about as good of a team deal as a perennial mid-pack amateur could ever hope for, so I'm pretty stoked to fly the colors. I also have a really generous arrangement with Breakaway Cafe, who feed me most days in exchange for doing their social media. It's totally a much better deal for me than it is them, but Breanne and Craig are pretty much the nicest people around. So go to Breakaway to get a burrito or a coffee sometime. They're good people. 

That's really it. When not riding, I'm working for Everpresent Marketing and Swell Development. If you need help with digital marketing or web development, let me know. I'll buy you lunch with my company card (at Breakaway) and we'll see how we can help. 

Tailwinds, everyone!

Less Than a Week to Barry

A race that seemed so far off, is now so very close. Barry-Roubaix wakes up many a bike rider from their winter slumber by getting them on their trainers, their fat bikes, and hopefully out of the kitchen. January's goals and February's good intentions have morphed into March's excuses.

But no matter where your fitness is on Saturday, there'll be a little extra adrenaline pumping through our atrophied leg muscles, largely brought on by being part of a Lycra-wearing horde of fellow cyclists. Few places in the world can say they can get 3,500 cyclists to put on little more than expensive underwear and ride their bikes in 30-degree weather. We'll emerge from our basements and spin classes to see remind our legs and lungs of what it's like have the wind in our faces and the mud in our teeth.

One thing that's so cool about Barry is that some have hours and hours of riding in their legs, while some riders will cut their Iceman number plates off moments before rolling to the start line. The disparity in fitness makes it really two races in one; some are racing to place, while others are just trying to survive. In the early, early days of the 2017 season, just being willing to line up in the (Iikely)  cold and wet on Saturday means you're likely at least a few steps ahead of everyone sat on the couch that day. 

Good luck, everyone. Have a great week. Get some fresh blood in those veins. Have a cookie. We'll see you on the start line. 

Wes is a dude who rides bikes. He works for Everpresent Marketing, Swell Development, and teaches indoor cycling at Yen Yoga & Fitness

March FUNdraising Class to Benefit Safe Harbor

I am so, so stoked for this month's FUNdraising class on March 29th! This month, we'll be donating to Safe Harbor, a non-profit that is dedicated to ending homelessness in the Traverse City area. 

Safe Harbor's story is one that we hope to one day not have to tell. In 2003, The First Church of the Nazarene started offering shelter and meals to homeless individuals who would have otherwise have been forced to spend the night outside during frigid fall, winter, and spring temperatures.

Now, Safe Harbor's 23 participating churches offer beds and warm meals to as many as 26 individuals per night from November through April. They also work with other organizations in town to help these individuals find the help and resources they need to get back on their feet. 

After almost 15 years of work, Safe Harbor is planning to create a permanent shelter to better care for the most vulnerable members of our community. The money we raise on the 29th will go towards helping stamp out homelessness in our area for good. 

A huge thank you to Yen cyclist and all around good guy Peter Starkel for bringing Safe Harbor to our attention. We can't wait to ride at Yen on 3/29 for a great cause! 

Wes teaches indoor cycling at Yen Yoga & Fitness. His day job is Director of Marketing for Swell Development and Everpresent Marketing. You can follow Wes on FB and Insta

 

Barry-Roubaix a is Special Race

Barry-Roubaix 2010. 

Barry-Roubaix 2010. 

You may only know Cody Sovis, and to a lesser extent, me, as super-fit cyclists who make Lycra look really, really good. But what if I told you that not all that long ago, Cody and I were fat and out of shape? You'd probably be like, "Yeah, based on your cookie consumption, I see that possibility." Well, here's a little story about our fitness history, and how it was Barry-Roubaix that got us back into cycling and our BMIs under 25. 

#Flashback to 2010. Everyone was still on 3G mobile connections and I had definitively removed my fake diamond earring at the behest of my girlfriend at the time. Cody and I were at GVSU down in Allendale. It's January, and we're in indoor intramural soccer. Cody, yes that one, weighs about 195 pounds. I'm weighing in at 185, but I at least lifted weights, so I wasn't nearly the Fluffer Nutter that Cody was. At any rate, during one indoor soccer game, Cody was jogging and came to a sharp stop. His gut jiggled. And jiggled. It didn't stop jiggling until after the game had ended. Cody had noticed the ceaseless blubber party, too.  

"Fucking hell, man. I need to lose some weight."

When you're fat and gross, you don't need advice. There's this misconception that fat people don't know how to be healthy. We know. They know. We all know. Stop eating trash and get off your ass. It ain't rocket science. You simply have to change your entire lifestyle and every habit you've adopted over the course of your lifetime. It's not complicated, but man, it's really freaking hard. 

What we needed was motivation. An event, a deadline, and a tangible measure of our fitness that would make us get off our asses to get fit or face very public humiliation. What we needed, we determined, was a bike race. So, Cody borrowed our Dad's (not shitting) 1996 Mongoose and I dug out my mountain bike that hadn't been ridden in anger since middle school. We circled a small race called Barry-Roubaix to force us to get out and ride that spring. It was cold. It was really, really slow because we were fat and out of shape.  But damn it, it was so much fun. 

We entered the 23-mile race just to see how it went. There were probably 200 bikes at the race that year. To put that into perspective, there are around that many in just the men's 62-mile open class in 2017. Cody and I tied for 3rd that day, but who cares about plastic medals? What we found was a community of people just like us - people trying to be fitter, healthier, and active. We lined up with teachers, soccer moms, grandpas, accountants, and bartenders. Most of us had nothing in common except the desire to not have our guts jiggle when we brushed our teeth. 

On March 25th, Cody and I, along with 3,500 of our best friends, will head to Barry-Roubaix to go for a bike ride. 1% of the people showing up will even entertain the thought of winning anything, but 99% of people will have pushed themselves on trainers, on rides outdoors in the cold, in the gym, and away from dinner tables to get just a little fitter for Barry-Roubaix. Barry is a special race because it's the one that re-introduced me to a whole group of people who want the same thing as me - to be happier, healthier, and to be able to go swimming at the beach without wearing a t-shirt into the water. 

Wes does digital marketing for Swell Development and Everpresent Marketing during the daytime. He lives in Traverse City with his two cats and beagle. Oh yeah, and his wife, Renee. Follow him on the FB and Insta for pictures of food and domesticated animals. 

 

 

Getting Rolling in 2017

A rare February ride in the County. PC: Susan Vigland 

A rare February ride in the County. PC: Susan Vigland 

2017 has been started off as a year of change. As we enter March, I find myself on a new bike, on a new team, and adopting a completely different approach to training and amateur bike racing. All these changes have me feeling a new sense of motivation and I really can't wait to get racing started. 

First off, the new bike. After loving my B+ Bearclaw from last year, I wanted to race 2017 on a bike I've wanted since 2010. The Cannondale S-Fi is one of the sharpest, raciest bikes I've ever seen and I've been lusting after one for almost a decade. After deciding to do my own thing as far as racing goes this year, I picked up my black S-Fi from Velo City in Holland. The owner of the shop, Brad White, was kind enough to take me and Cody out for a ride when we showed up to collect it on a sunny February day. If you ever get to try a Careless Whisper from Our Brewing Co., I firmly suggest you take advantage. The bike is really something. Light, nimble, and with that Lefty fork, it's as much a treat to ride as it is to look at. 

This year, I'll be riding for kolo t.c. Cody's blog has become my favorite thing to read over the years, and I'm really glad Cody is making it a priority to bring it back. He's such a talented writer, and it's going to be a blast to wear the kolo t.c. shirt all over the state at races and rides. If you've never heard of kolo t.c., it's the largest, most popular blog about amateur bike racing in Michigan. It's also the only one. 

Lastly, my approach to racing is a lot different this year. Instead of doing what I usually do, which is train really hard all the time and not care about my diet, I'm actually watching what I eat. It's had a huge effect in the two months I've made eating better a priority. I've lost ten pounds, but more importantly, I feel exponentially better than I did before. I haven't made any drastic changes. I just make smarter choices every day, and those smart decisions really add up over the course of a few weeks. Now, I focus on training smarter, and I get to see the benefits of those training efforts by not eating my way out of any improvements. 

So, there's what I've been up to in 2017 so far. Nothing special. But a few small changes have me excited and ready to rock and roll at Rust Shaker and Mud, Sweat, and Beers this spring. Racing with Cody in some swanky kolo t.c. kits will be a real thrill, and I hope we're all in for a fast, exciting, and fun racing season. See you out there, peeps. 

 

 

Thank You! NMC Foundation's Fundraiser Was a Hoot

February's FUNdraiser for the NMC Foundation was a total success. Who knew you could do so much good while wearing Lycra? 

Despite weather that would be welcomed in May, let alone February, we had a great turnout in the cool confines of the Yen Yoga & Fitness cycling studio for an hour of cardio and good vibes. Between what I earned from class and the generous donations from our awesome cycling folks, we raised almost $100 bucks that will go toward the scholarship fund! A massive thank you to everyone who attended class to help us raise some #DOUGH for an excellent cause.

A special shout out to Alfie for their generous donation. It's so cool to see local businesses supporting NMC! 

Folks who attended class also got sweet swag, courtesy of the extremely generous Katherine Zurek of the NMC Foundation. Thank you so much for sweet new NMC Foundation and NMC Alumni shirts! I'll be rocking mine for years to come! 

If you missed class but still wanted to throw in a few bucks to help make college more affordable for well-deserving students of all ages and backgrounds, head here to make a donation to the fund of your choice. 

The next FUNdrasing class will be March 29th, with the non-profit being the Safe Harbor. I hope to see you then! Or before. Before would be nice. But seeing you at that class would be cool, too. 

Wes is a professional bird watcher, marketing guy, and chocolate chip cookie sommelier. He is the Director at Everpresent Marketing in Traverse City and the Director of Marketing for Swell Development, a web development company based in Grand Rapids, MI. Check him out on FB and Insta

February's FUNdraising Class: NMC Foundation

This month's Fundraising class is 2/22 and it's going to be a good one. We're going to raise a little money to help an organization that makes it possible for kids of all backgrounds to attend NMC by offering scholarships and grants to those who could use a little help. 

The NMC Foundation is important to me because I'm a proud alum of NMC. After high school, A lot of my friends took off to four-year universities, while I stayed home at NMC. At first, I felt like I was missing out on the "real" college experience. In reality, I quickly learned that NMC offered the same experience that my friends who went away from school were getting, except probably even better because our indoor soccer scene was off the chain. NMC offered a community of people who I still remember and value today. Attending NMC prepared me for the "big school" experience better than I could have ever predicted. In fact, the quality of instructors was equal to or better than the ones I had at a school that was three times as expensive and hundreds of miles away from home. 

Helping students of all varieties to have the NMC experience that I did is something I'm pretty stoked to do. You can help out by attending class at Yen Yoga & Fitness - I'll be donating all the money I earn from class that day to the NMC Foundation. If you can't make it to class, consider making a donation by visiting their website

Wes is the Director at Everpresent Marketing, a digital marketing company based in Traverse City, MI. He's an avid cyclist and dog walker. You can check him out on Facebook and Instagram

Battling the Winter Weight

I once did a report on penguins, way back in third grade. Penguins, if you didn't already know, are the second coolest animals on the planet, except for sloths. Sloths, as it happens, are likely our last hope for our soon-to-be-reality of a post-antibiotic world. So why do penguins finish a close second to the species that will be responsible for saving human existence from bacteria infections?

Because penguins get to get fat in the winter. And it's totally cool for them to get fat. The male and females swap turns watching over their eggs to go on eating binges all winter, trying to get as fat as they can in order to stay warm in their frigid climate in Antarctica. 

For humans, however, we add blubber in less purposeful ways. I don't need fat to stay warm. I have a really nice Arc-teryx coat and some boots. But boy howdy, is it easy for me to put on weight during the winter. It's cold. It's dark. Happiness is just another cookie and a caramel latte away. 

Me and the Chubby Buddies are trying to fight this weight gain over the winter to varying degrees of success. I'm only down a pound in three weeks, despite doing more exercise and cutting down on my lattes. I'm hoping that as the temps come up, my body will respond to the exercise a bit more and the weight will come off. 

In the meantime, though, I've discovered a little trick for looking skinner. Just wear baggier clothes. Seriously. I get so many compliments on looking "trim" just by putting on a baggy sweatshirt. So, if you're like me in that the winter weight is just not coming off, put on your XL t-shirt and fake it until the scale starts to go your way. 

If you want to actually lose weight, and not just buy bigger clothes, be sure to check out the women's race at the cyclocross World Cup at Fuiggi, or watch USA's Ellen Noble nab second in U-23 at CX Worlds. Hopefully watching these super-fit humans guilts you (and me) into watching what you eat and gets your butt on the trainers. 

Wes does marketing for evepresent marketing and Swell Development. He also teaches indoor cycling at Yen Yoga & Fitness in Traverse City. Check him out on Facebook or Instagram, yo. 

 

Get Kids on Bikes with Norte

On bikes. In the woods. Way better than on the couch. Yep. Way better. 

On bikes. In the woods. Way better than on the couch. Yep. Way better. 

This month's FUNdraising class is January 25th. That's a Wednesday. We'll be raising some cash-ola for one of my favorite non-profits around, Norte Youth Cycling

Run by the tireless and very Canadian Ty Schmidt, Norte works to do what most of the general population just talks about doing - getting kids off the couch and outside to blow the stink off. The best possible way to blow off the aforementioned stink is, of course, by riding their bicycles through their neighborhood to the various parks, beaches, and malt shops that adorn our adorable small town. 

By showing up to class at Yen Yoga at 5:30 on 1/25, you'll be helping to raise money to help Norte put on exceptional youth-centered after school bicycling programs at a number of Traverse City Area Public Schools. This program, called Bike Mas, is the highlight of the spring and fall seasons for the kids participating in the program. Experienced cyclists team up with fifth graders for bicycle adventures, usually some ice cream, and some good old-fashioned mentoring. I rode with some kids at Eastern this fall it is was one of the most experiences I've had. I'm tearing up just thinking about it. 

Your first class at Yen is just $5. Every single penny I make from that class will be donated to Norte. If you can't make it to class that day, consider donating to Norte here and tell them that the chubby dude in lycra sent you. 

Wes is a marketing guy, running everpresent marketing and working at Swell Development. He's also attempting to be the first human to lose weight without changing his diet or exercising habits in any way. It's not going well. He's on Instagram and Facebook if you have no one else to follow on the Internets. There are better people. Seriously. Kim Kardashian is pretty popular. check her out. 

 

Let's Be Chubby Buddies

I got an email yesterday from my buddy Tim Bottrell. He knows I struggle with overeating. Tim, while by no means fat, also likes to indulge in the extra helping at dinner, a supplemental beer to unwind at the end of the day, and perhaps a cookie or two from the local cafe. 

Tim came up with the idea of being chubby buddies. First of all, I've secretly always wanted to be chubby buddies with someone. I can't imagine a cooler name for a social arrangement. But aside from having an adorable label for our friendship, being chubby buddies will also provide us with accountability to motivate us to put down the donut and do the extra five minutes on the trainer. Why? Because Tim is making the same tough decisions and working just as hard as I am at this. He wants me to succeed and I want him to succeed. Together, we have twice the amount of willpower, which hopefully adds up to the amount required to drop a few pounds before Mud Sweat and Beers in May. 

If you want to be our chubby buddy, you can add your name here. Weigh-ins are Wednesdays. Yes, other people will see how much you weigh. No one cares what you weigh right now. We do care how much you'll way in five months. Let's. Be. Less. Flabby. 

Get Signed Up

#operationthighgap

Wes is a flabby, middling cyclist who also plays on computers for everpresent marketing and Swell Development. You can see just how flabby he is by following him on Facebook or Instagram

 

My Goals for 2017

Photo: The Appendix  - A Seriously Cool Website

Photo: The Appendix  - A Seriously Cool Website

Each year, I write down my goals for the upcoming year. I rarely write these goals down in a place or medium where they can be viewed by other human beings. But I have a blog now, and what are blogs for but to expose the best and worst of ourselves to a less-than-interested public. And by public, I mean, of course, my mom and a few friends who have a little too much time on their hands. 

Below you'll find my goals for 2017. No, they're not all cycling related. I'm an almost well-rounded human with personal growth goals as seemingly insurmountable as winning Iceman. I'll be focusing on those as much as I do on my amateur cycling career. Shocking, I know. 

My Goals for 2017. Please Hold Me to Them.

1. Be less selfish. I do not have problems. I am not too busy. I am not too tired. I want to learn to put other people first more frequently and with less complaining. 

2. Be more humble. I'm never as smart as I think I am. I do not know the right way to do everything. Listen, learn, and give other people the respect that they give to me. 

3. Get up earlier. Every day. Hangover and all. And since you're up, get your ass on a bike. 

4. Lose 20 pounds. Code name is #operationthighgap. It hasn't been going all that well, but tomorrow is another day to try again and do better. 

5. Learn to ride a wheelie as well as Austin Johnson. 

6. Do more rides with Norte. Why? Because Norte rocks. 

7. Spend more time out of the house. That could mean on a bicycle, hanging with friends, or chilling at Breakaway Cafe or Taproot. People are cool. I'd like to hang with them more. 

8. Learn to be less impulsive. I'm in marketing - I should know how to recognize marketing's ability to make people make impulsive decisions or rationalize stupid purchases. I need to lock that shit down.

9. I need to call my grandparents more. 

10. I need to realize that life is really, really short. The small things have an incredible tendency to take care of themselves. And even the big stuff is no match for a little grit and perseverance. 

2016 has been a trying year in a lot of ways. But I've learned a lot about myself, the US of A, and the world. I know, deep down, most people are good. I know that some people are total shit, but they're in the minority. It's when good people rationalize bad behavior that everyone loses. I guess what I'm saying is that if I want the best from others, I should be willing to give the best of myself. Whether it's at work, on a bicycle, or in relationships, you have to embody the qualities you'd like to see in others, or you have no right to expect it from others. 

In 2017, I wish you a very prosperous, healthy, rewarding, uplifting, inspiring, journey. There will be ups and there will be downs. Just remember to turn your Strava on in case you get any KOMs. 

Wes is the Cheif Cat Herding Director at a web development company, as well as a passionate volunteer at the Association for Pet Obesity Awareness. I'm not shitting you. That's a real website and real non-profit. 

What is Narcissism?

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter who was famous for his beauty - think Brad Pitt, except in a loin cloth. One hell of a combo, I know. The son of a God and a nymph, he treated all who knew him as something far less than the combined worth of his own ilk. Because of this behavior, Nemesis, yeah that one, decided to teach Narcissus a lesson. Nemesis lured Narcissus to a shallow pool, where he caught a glimpse of his handsome self. Unable to stop gazing at his own likeness, Narcissus stared at himself until he died of starvation. 

Nowadays, labeling someone a narcissist has become commonplace. And that's not really a surprise. With the rise of social media, especially amongst millennials, we're sharing, tweeting, and snapchatting ourselves to the world in a way that must appear curious and/or disturbing to the octagenarian segment of our society. Surely, there's someone in your Instagram feed that you've labeled a narcissist - I know I have. Or maybe, you're worried you yourself might be madly in love with yourself. So, are you a narcissist? In order to be diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder, NPD, you need to possess five of the nine following traits.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Here's the frightening part of a narcissism diagnosis - most of us, if we're being honest with ourselves, would tick the box of at least one of the nine traits of a narcissist listed above. It doesn't make you a bad person, and just one of these traits certainly doesn't make you a narcissist.

#lookatme

#lookatme

Interestingly, the thinking about the traits above brings up a 'chicken or the egg' type question. Which enables the other more; are narcissistic tendencies driving the proliferation of social media? Or is social media helping to bring out more narcissistic attributes in more people? I certainly don't have the answer, but it's certainly a question worth pondering while you're on your indoor trainer - and just before you post the trainer riding picture to Instagram.

If you want something to watch on the subject during your trainer ride, I'd suggest this clever piece by VICE.

You can give me the widespread admiration that feeds my own narcissistic traits by following me on Facebook or Instagram.

What Your Cyclist Friend Really Wants for Christmas

Photo: Liz Ammond

Photo: Liz Ammond

Sure, a shirt with a picture of a cat riding a bike is pretty much the perfect gift for any cyclist. I know it, you know, it, we all know it. But if your cyclist friend/family member/UPS gal already has that shirt, then you're going to need some other ideas. Fortunately, you're reading a blog written by a cyclist who knows what cyclists want. Good for you. You're smarter and more attractive than most. Here are a few excellent gift ideas for your friend who owns more lycra than David Lee Roth. 

A New Bike

You'd have to really, really like the person, but a new bike is always an excellent Christmas present. "Well, So-and-So already has like 10 bikes - they don't need another bike." You obviously don't shave your legs, rookie. Everyone could always use another bike. Always. A cross country bike, a dual suspension cross country bike; a touring fat bike and a racing fat bike, a townie, a single speed townie, a fixie townie - the list goes on and on. Go to your local bike shop and ask the guys what your wife/husband/mistress has been oogling at and pull the trigger. Merry. Fricking. Christmas. You just became So-and-So's favorite person. 

Shameless sponsor plug. It's the bike that gets everyone who looks at it pregnant. The Bearclaw Balthazar. I'll take two, thanks.  

 

A Bike Fit

Seriously. A bike fit isn't something a lot of cyclists would put on their wishlist, but everyone could use one. The best way to get rid of an achy back or numb hands? Having an experienced bike fitter use some science and computers to get you in the most efficient, most comfortable position possible. The prices for fits range wildly, but I'd highly recommend seeing Mark Gerlando at Ride Science in Traverse City or Ben Boyce at Einstein Cycles. Both have years of experience and know-how to make sure your fit is perfect for you. Ben got me set up on my Bearclaw this season, and I haven't moved a thing on my bike since. If you want your loved one to enjoy more miles with more smiles, a bike fit is the way to go. 

Winter Gloves

Winter bike riding is way more fun when you can feel your fingers. If you live in the Midwest, winter is about seven months long - a long time to ride your bike with numb hands. A solid pair of gloves makes those seven months a whole helluva lot more enjoyable. I bought a pair of GORE Thermo Gloves a few years back and they're simply the bomb-diggity.  If your local bike shop doesn't carry GORE, ask your experienced sales rep which glove would be best for you. Chances are, they know exactly which glove is the best option for you based on your riding style and what your "hell no" temperature point is for riding. 

Wahoo Elemnt Computer

I first saw the Elemnt and thought, "That is overkill, man." But then I tried my brother's out - Holy Snot Wagon, is that thing sweet. A huge screen, paired with the most intuitive user interface around, makes this the cycling computer to have. You can run the entire computer from your smartphone, making it completely customizable. You can even get texts and phone calls to display on your phone, letting you know if you need to stop and answer a call from your boss or just let that call from your mom go to voicemail. Sorry, mom.  

Whatever you get for your cyclist this year, make sure you get it from a local bike shop. You might save $0.35 by ordering online, but no online retailer will stay late to fix your bike the night before a bike race, have a beer with you after a trail ride, or get a part out of the take-off box to save you $50 when you're hard-up for cash in the middle of the racing season. Support your local bike shop because they do what they can to support you. 

Anyway, what did I miss? What are you hoping to spot under the Christmas tree? Let me know what I missed on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Have a very Merry Christmas and don't be stingy. Credit cards are easy to get and spending limits are high. Go crazy. Especially on me. 

The Off-Season

I hate the off-season. It's during this time of year when I'm not on my bike ten-plus hours a week that I realize all that cycling does for me. Not just fitness-wise, but for my everyday well-being. Sure, it makes my ass look amazing, but there's a lot more that I miss about training all the time. 

First off, I sleep way better when I'm training a lot. A bit of a no-brainer, I know. But it's so nice to be asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, rather than toss and turn until the proverbial sheep have been adequately counted.

There's also a noticeable increase in my impulsive behavior in the off-season.  I think it's due to the excess energy I have, but I find myself obsessing over food, new cell phones, new clothes and a host of other junk that I wouldn't even waste a moment thinking about when I have bikes to ride. This is one of the more frustrating aspects to the off-season, and something that I have tried to work on this winter. So far, to no avail. Damn you, consumerism. I blame you. 

The off-season has also been terrible for #operationthighgap. I'm training less, eating more, and it's been a battle to just maintain my weight, let alone lose weight. I'm really hoping that once the holidays pass by, I'll be in a better position to watch my eating. At the very least, I'll be closer to spring and more bike riding. 

There are some good things, though. I have been able to spend way more time with Disco, my dog. I'm also catching up on TV. Ever see Stranger Things? Watched it in two evenings. That would never happen if I was training. I've also been running a little bit, which I really enjoy. A lot of cyclists hate running, but I find it extremely relaxing and a lot of fun. You get to see your city up close and at a slow pace, something you can't really manage on a bike. 

I'm also having a hoot teaching cycling at Yen. It's fun to sub for other teachers and meet people who may have otherwise not taken my class. Usually, they dig my class and I see them in my usual Wednesday night classes from time to time. That's always fun, to see new faces join our Wednesday night party. 

Oh, and I'm also getting STOKED to race the Short's Fat Bike Series this winter. Never done it? It's about damn time. It's basically a party on bikes, in the woods, on snow. I know. Awesome. 

Wes is the lead guitarist for Audio Slave, as well as a lead paint tester in Traverse City. You can check him out on FB and Insta. He quit Twitter because Donald Trump is on there and he is an icky, icky man. 

 

The Farmland 5K 2016

kyle-beer-hand-up.jpg

What a blast. That's really the best way to describe the Farmland 5K each and every year. In its fifth year, Farmland remains one of the more unique events on the calendar. It's a 5K, a bike race, and a barnyard party all at once. 

The runners kicked off the action with the start taking place at high noon. From competitive runners to a woman who ran the race dressed as a chicken, every single participate crossed the finish line with a smile. 

They then promptly went through 17 gallons of soup in 45 minutes. Clearly, running works up an appetite. 

The cyclists then took to the course on a myriad on bicycles - fat bikes, cyclocross bikes, 29ers, and a host of vintage bikes that runners got down from the lofts in their garage for the first time since Seinfeld was still on the air. 

Honestly, I'm not sure who won any race. It doesn't matter. Farmland is about celebrating the holiday season with friends and faking fitness as our waistlines expand in the winter months. 

Nick Perez battled the elements to take a massive portfolio of pictures from the race, which you can view here.

Wes is ranked #5 in the world in cherry pit spitting and the author of  Pumpkin Punctures: The Battle Between Pumpkin and Deer Hooves in Rural America. You can follow him on the social medias on FB and Insta

What I'm Thankful For

In 2016, I came back to the sport and the people I love most. After dealing with depression for about a year and half, I slowly got back into riding bikes this past spring. Looking back, when I started feeling consistently blue, moving away from the freedom and friendships that bike riding gave me probably only made things worse. It was only when I got back on my bike and in the (back) of the weekly group rides that I started to feel like my old self again. 

As I prepare to spend a day reflecting on life and gorging on Thanksgiving fare, it's worth writing down what I've learned to be grateful for over the last year. 

My wife. She's put up with me at my worst and stuck around. She's cool.

My family. If I have any positive traits, I learned them from my family. I'm especially grateful for Cody Bear. He's always there to push me to ride my bike, to put the cookie down, and to keep my chin up. 

My riding buddies. Teammates or not, I'm so thankful for all the people I get to ride bikes with, in TC and beyond. I was also really pumped to have these people around when Cody almost died after getting stung by a bee this fall. What would we do without all you good bike riding folks? 

And this includes the people at Yen. I'm just as motivated as you guys as I am by the outdoor people. In some ways, probably even more so. 

My health. I'm carrying around a few extra pounds, but I'm pretty darn healthy otherwise. I won't ever take that for granted. 

My local bike shop. Ec, you guys rock. You guys tolerate my silly technical questions and my ability to wreck just about any and very part of my bicycle. Thanks for putting up with me. 

My town. I lived in some cool cities, but there is just nothing like the community we have here in TC. The people, the trails, the roads - we should never forget that there are few places in the world as nice to live and ride as TC is. 

My job. I'm so lucky to work for a company that gets it. Work is about quality, not just quantity, or time spent working. Having some flexibility to ride during the day is huge, and makes me more productive. I wish more people could have a sweet gig like I do. 

In short, thank you all. I'm so lucky to have the life I do, and I won't ever take it for granted. From your chubbiest cycling friend, Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wes Sovis is certified acupuncturist and a leading scholar in the history of lululemon. He also does marketing and project management for Swell Development, rides bikes at Yen, and races for Einstein Cycles-Short's Brewing. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram.