Saturday, March 29, 2008

Old Man Winter Won't Let Go...

Ok people, it's just about April 1st and we got yet another blanket of snow on Friday. The photo here was taken of our driveway on the way out for the day, and you can see that Spring still has yet to make its formal arrival. Good news is that it warmed up later in the day and most of what you see here is gone. Knowing the water levels for area lakes (even Lake Michigan) have been down over the past several years, I guess this much snow will be a good thing come summer time.

Time Trial - Go Team!
I'm hoping to hear some good results from our Team members for tomorrow's Time Trial in Grand Rapids. While the weather hasn't exactly been the best for training, we have a few of our team headed over for 17 miles of fun at the Fisk Knob TT. I did it last year and can tell you the hill at the end is a doozy! Sure felt good on the start (zipping down at 35+ mph), but since it's an out and back you always have in the back of your mind that when you are just about 99% "empty" you have one last climb. Ouch!

Hoping to get out tomorrow for another ride. I got in 40 today, took the 'cross bike over to Fort Custer to check out the trails. Still a bit muddy and hopefully once all this snow stops and we get some consistent sunshine it will dry up the trail and I can get out and start doing some riding. The Lumberjack 100 gets closer every day and my Pedaling with a Purpose fundraising effort is coming along. I sure could use the support, so if you haven't don so already, stop on over and consider making a contribution. It's for a great cause and I'd appreciate the support.

Hugging the Ogre
This week I sent out my March newsletter and featured my first podcast on SEO (search engine optimization). While it's not exactly a professional recording, I was very pleased at how it turned out. I interviewed James Brown (no, not the Godfather of Soul), who is WSI Web Words international project manager. The title of the recording is "Hugging the Ogre" and talks about the strategies WSI uses to get search engines to pay attention to our client's websites. Check it out if you're curious about learning more about SEO.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

So this is Spring???

March 20th marked not only the first day of Spring, but Ally's 9th birthday. Hard to believe that she's been with us that long and I go back and look at the pictures of when she was a puppy and it seems like yesterday when we brought her home. We "celebrated" her birthday by going out to dinner (Ally and Ryder got to ride along) and then stopped by the grocery store on the way home and picked up some cupcakes for the "birthday cake". Yes, we even put in a candle and sang her "Happy Birthday". While I'm not so sure that she appreciated the singing, she gulped down the cupcake and talked us into a second. Of course, Ryder got to partake in the "munching" and got to share in her special day. This photo shows their typical "position" during the day, camped out on our bed taking it easy. When I come back in the next life I want to be reincarnated as a dog in a home like ours... talk about the life!

With Spring finally here, I was looking forward to getting out on the bike without having to bundle up. Well, Mother Nature certainly had different plans and we got about 10 inches of the white stuff on Friday. So, instead of a bike ride Saturday, we took off and went XC skiing behind the house. It started to warm up towards the end of the ski, so we ended up walking more than skiing close to the finish, but at the beginning the snow was in great shape. I even "got" to run the snowblower one last (hopefully) time.

Fortunately, the snow came out and the roads cleared up pretty good, at least they are clean enough for a ride this morning. Yesterday, before the plows hit the roads you would have been taking your life in your own hands riding on the roads, but today should be good (but still cold). So, I'll take along my iPod and continue listening to my audio book (Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill). Don't worry, I keep it low enough to hear the traffic and try to keep off the "well traveled" roads. It's nice to be able to "ride and learn" and appreciate the opportunity to multi-task. Of course, if anyone from the Team decides to join me the "ride and learn" will likely have to take second chair to conversing with teammates. I don't want to be rude, ya know.

Well, gotta go get the warm clothes around so I can hit the road. Knowing that I got one of the 250 spots for this year's Lumberjack 100 has got me motivated to keep the training going. A hundred miles in the woods is not something to take lightly, so with that I'm of to put in the miles. Don't forget that my Pedaling with a Purpose site just got an update and I'm ready to start collecting donations to support the Children's Neroblastoma Cancer Foundation.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Coming Events

The first day of Spring is just around the corner and things are not slowing down here at the Cook household. In addition to getting out on the bike for some riding with some of my Team Active Racing teammates and my "day job", I'm preparing for a few upcoming events. Good news is the time change arrived, which extends the riding day by an hour (but I did miss the extra hour of sleep this morning). Here's a taste of things to come...

2008 Racing Season
Last Friday we had the Team over to our house for a "meet and greet", signing of our contracts and to just spend some time to get to know each other. With over 30 folks on the team this year, we had quite a houseful (considering spouses/significant others) and it was nice to get all of us under one roof. Since we are a cross-discipline team (mountain, road, crit, time trial, duathlon, etc...) this may be one of the only times in the season that we'll see some of our fellow teammates, with the exception of training rides.

Michigan Bankers Conferences
Thanks to some good connections at the MBA from my involvement over the years (remember, I was a banker for 15 years) I've been asked to present at a few upcoming conferences. April 14-16 I'll be speaking at the Operations and Technology Conference. I've been given time to speak on two topics: Search engine marketing, and; Website Analytics. I've been working on my presentations and have to keep reminding myself that I "only" have an hour. Later in the month I'll be presenting at the MBA's Marketing Conference and discussing how to leverage the Internet for brand awareness, navigation strategies, optimization techniques and e-mail marketing campaigns.

Pedaling With A Purpose
June 14th will be here before I know it and that means my third annual appearance at the Lumberjack 100 mountain bike race. Again this year I'll be putting on my PWAP "hat" and riding to raise money for the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation. I'm also pleased to hear that several of my team members have approached me about also using PWAP to help raise money for worthy causes this year. If you're interested in raising money this year by riding your bike, please drop me a note. I'd love to hear from you and help you make a difference too!

Well, that's it for now. See you next time...
Eric