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Veterans Day: Local Vets Share Their Experience

Veterans Day: Local Vets Share Their Experience

November 11th is Veterans Day and M22 is flooded with gratitude for the men and woman who have gone above and beyond to protect our freedom. With less than .5% of our population serving in the military we were honored to reach out to some of our local Veteran neighbors and friends.   

We found it extremely difficult to summarize what these local veterans shared with us and therefore we asked our store manager, Liz Belt, to give us some insight on what it’s like to be in the military.  

 

Name: Liz Belt
Branch of Service: Army Reserve
Years Served: 12
Combat tours:
Military Job: Bridge Engineer

“I remember finally getting a chance to call home from Iraq in 2003 and hearing my mom cry on the other end.  She kept asking about the explosions she could hear and I kept trying to tell her it was us and not them.  I wanted to talk about normal life and she could barely breath.  I think I took that for granted.  The big picture is different though.  Imagine winning the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup without spectators.  You walk away from a large training or combat mission with feelings that can only be shared with your team.  There’s no way to relive or explain them to someone who hasn’t been there, and that’s ok.  Unless you were drafted for a war, you chose to do it, and you are most likely proud of the unexplainable stories you walk away with.  Sometimes things are horrific and sometimes it’s a level of brotherhood that you wouldn’t trade for anything else. It’s just like any other extraordinary life experience; there is a let down when you realize that what you did, and the people you did it with, can never be relived.  You kind of had to be there.” 
 


Name: Craig Webb
Branch of Service: Marine Corp
Years Served: 3
Military Job: Force Recon
Current Job: Professional Cyclist 

“It was expected that we could out run, out train and outsmart anyone that we encountered. We spent the bulk of our time on physical fitness training, military history education/tactics, and of course, weapons training. Force recon has one of the largest assemblies of weaponry known to any organized military group and we were expected to be able to disassemble, assemble and fire any weapon in that armory.”

“We did so many insane things in Force Recon!  A halo jump into a snowball near the Arctic Circle from 17,000 feet in the middle of the night or locking out of a nuclear submarine while it's underway in the ocean at night. These were the days before GPS and if you got separated it was just understood that you were going to die; because no one can find you in an ocean at night let alone in the daytime.” 
 


Name: Lisa Groleau
Branch of Service: Navy
Years Served: 10
Combat tours: 2
Military Job: Aviation Electrician on F-18’s and EA-6B’s
Current Job: Sales Manager at Bill Marsh Automotive 

“For me, the surreal everyday life of the Blue Angels was a lot to take in.  That was my last duty station and from a standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry to being on the practice field with the Baltimore Ravens, or Seattle Seahawks, being on the mound at a Detroit Tigers game….it was just a crazy world.  You go to work to do your job in front of a couple hundred thousand people every day.  People are always asking for your picture or autograph and it didn’t matter that I wasn’t a pilot because I was a Blue Angel.  After that, and all of my previous experiences, I knew I had to get out of the military because it couldn’t get any better.  I felt like I had done it all and it was time to go home.” 
 


Name: Brian Barsheff
Branch of Service: Navy
Years Served: 4
Deployments: 5 Different Support Missions
Military Job: Aviation Support Technician 
Current Job: Owner/Operator at Modified Metals LLC

“The memories I have over the four years are weird. Some are good and some I want to erase from my mind. I always felt like I wanted to do more.  When we sent our Special Forces off to shore I wanted to go so bad.  I dreaded when they came back; when you looked in their eyes you saw a sense of emptiness.” 

“I also have funny memories too, like the time one of our guys showed up for a command uniform inspection and he made it clear to all of us that he was wearing the woman’s version of dress pants.  We could barely keep our junk together but he made it through the inspection without them even noticing.  Every moment in the military is different and it’s an entirely differing world than the one I currently live in.”  
 


Name: Jeff Brooks
Branch of Service: Navy/Army
Years Served: 10
Combat Tours: 1 Navy, 1 Army
Military Job: Navy: Flight Deck Coordinator Army: Explosive Ordinance Disposal
Current Job: Retired

“I have so many memories but this one stands out: I quit smoking in Iraq. One night I was sitting out on some sandbags back at our headquarters. We were allowed 15 minutes of phone time on a satellite phone every week and it was my turn. As the phone rang back home and I was waiting for my wife to pick up, I lit a cigarette and looked up at the quiet, starry sky. When she answered, I puffed on the cigarette and we talked about how she and our kids were doing. As we talked, I went through one cigarette and was on my second when she said told me my 3 year old daughter, Ally, wanted to talk to me. As she handed the phone to my daughter, the base started receiving mortar fire; explosions were going off around me about 100 meters away. But there was NO WAY I was getting off the phone before I heard my daughters voice. When she came on she simply said “Daddy, I don’t want you to die from smoking.” Just then, everything went silent. I couldn’t hear the explosions, I couldn’t hear my daughter; I was in my own little reality check. I looked at the cigarette and looked around at the explosions and replied back to her “no problem, honey, I just quit”… and haven’t smoked since.”

“Although our experiences may be different and somewhat dreadful at times it’s important for people to understand that veteran’s are normal people, with normal dreams and ambitions who voluntarily give up a part of themselves to do an extraordinary thing.  That thing regardless of the reason, is to serve their country.”
 


Name: Bonny Hall
Branch of Service: Air Force
Years Served: 8
Military Job: Security Police Specialist
Current Job: VP Operations at Monarch Home Health Services

“I suppose I like to think and feel that since it is a CHOICE we make to serve (many other countries have mandatory service requirements, which I also think has merits) that it is not entirely selfless, as we do get things in return for that service. However,  it is a choice that can have many different outcomes. Some of those come with losses of life and limb. I do not think I actually had the where with all to entirely understand that concept as a young adult. Life is precious, and when someone loses their life in the defense of others....well, it is almost incomprehensible. I mean, as a mother, no question. But, as a young service member it's a leap of faith. It should be honored and recognized. It’s hard to explain that we aren’t looking for recognition yet there is still something special that stands out about it.”

 

Name: John Edingfield
Branch of Service: Army
Years Served: 5
Military Job: Military Police
Current Job: Sales Associate at Genes Auto Parts

“I don’t have any sad or bad memories.  I thought that basic training was a blast.  I was 20 years old at the time so I was a little bit older than everyone else.  The first day that the Drill Sergeants were yelling at us was interesting.  They went into their office and were laughing at all of the stupid things they were making us do while we stood in formation.  I think that is when it dawned on me that they were just as human as the rest of us.  There was one guy who was always late for formation, which meant we got our butts kicked for it. One day we tied him to his bunk to teach him a lesson but when the Drill Sergeants found out we just ended up doing a million more pushups.  The military is just a different world.” 


M22 is thankful for everyone who was willing to share a small part of their experience and for all of the men and woman who have served. 

Thank you. 
 
 

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Iceman Fever: Cowbell Increases the Symptoms

Iceman Fever: Cowbell Increases the Symptoms

It’s no secret that M22 lives and breathes outdoor activity and athletic competition, so it’s difficult for us to ignore the fact that Traverse City hosts the largest point-to-point mountain bike race in the nation. With over 4,000 racers, the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge is a mountain bike race that offers a platform for cyclists to compete from every level to a loaded pro category. 

Rather than talk about the specifics of the event, we went looking for an explanation behind this so-called “Iceman Fever.” What is it that inspires, drives and excites these humans to compete? Is it for the carb load? The stomach aches? Why would you want to get out of bed on a cold Saturday morning and spend hours in the woods suffering, when you could stay home? Is the lost sleep and anxiety worth it?

In an effort to get to the bottom of this, we caught up with some of Traverse City’s finest to get a taste of what inspires them to compete in the most anticipated race of the year. 

Tom White, a local celebrity and all around amazing human, races for City Bike in Traverse City. Although there is no way to sum up Tom’s inspiration, he did a great job of describing what he feels on race day: 

“I think the motivation behind the number plate is very personal for each racer. At the start line, all I see are my cycling brothers and sisters; because we love bikes. I am out to do my very best, but a part of me is rooting for them too because the closer the competition, the sweeter the victory. The best races I have ever done came down to the final minutes; and even though winning is the immediate goal, the battle at the end is what we train for.” 
 

Micah Clanton, a rookie to the cycling scene and an Iceman virgin, strolled into the store today in his Team Bob’s cycling kit. When asked if he had the Iceman Fever, he shot a look of distress and said this:

“Oh, the fever is real. I can’t talk about it or I will throw up. I’m excited and nervous.” 

With a contagious smile and a heart of gold, one of TC’s top cyclists is Rob Goepfrich who races for Hagerty Cycling. Rob clearly understands the Iceman hype:

“I guess you have to understand that Iceman is like Christmas to a lot of people. It happens every year. You desperately look forward to it. You lose sleep over it. The anticipation just about kills you. You train and train for that one big dance.” 

Shannon Kochis, loves to hate the pressure of Iceman. Although she is a free agent, she will be racing this years’ Iceman in an M22 kit:

“It's weird to be so excited about hitting the woods knowing that you are going to suffer for a couple of hours, but in my mind, if you aren't first, you're last- so there’s that. I plan to go out and do my best and then take in the extraordinary atmosphere that this event brings.”  

Finally, the guy who everyone loves to be around and who prefers to keep his bike rides under 3.7 miles at a time, stopped by HQ today for a little chat. Tim Wharton is basically one of our favorite people so when asked if he was racing Iceman, we were surprised by his in-depth response:

“Nope. But I have a cowbell.” 

Thanks, Tim. 

Unfortunately, we didn’t find anything in our research that offers a consistent remedy for this fever. Every athlete has their own ritual to fight through this pre-event anxiety and torture. Remember this: simply finding the courage to sign up for any event makes a person extraordinary; training and completing the event automatically sets you apart. 

This Saturday, November 5th, over 4000 people will line up for the Bell’s Iceman Cometh Challenge. Each participant will start the race with their own internal battle but they will finish with a personal story that will follow them for the rest of their life. The question should never be whether or not you will finish, but rather, how will you make sure to walk away from this race knowing you couldn’t have done any better? 

Good luck racers. 

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Cut-off Jeans, Cat Emojis and Flannel Shirts; According to Jorden Wakeley

Cut-off Jeans, Cat Emojis and Flannel Shirts; According to Jorden Wakeley

It’s that time of year, you know, when the air is cooler, the leaves are falling off the trees and Jorden Wakeley is in a constant state of “flannel.” With Iceman right around the corner, I decided that today was a great day to sit down at Brew TC for a nice chat with Jorden; mostly to see what all of the fuss is about.   

Wakeley is a proud member of the M22 race team and is also sponsored by Cannondale.  He is well known for his 6 foot 3.5 inch build and his outrageous power on a bike.  Although he is an amazing athlete, he also maintains a normal livelihood. In the summer, he works on the Ausable River doing restoration and building trout beds; while in the fall, he cuts and splits firewood for a living. He enjoys spending time with his family, hanging with good friends and eating cereal.  

I heard through the grapevine that you like to ride bikes. What's your favorite emoji? "Wait. What? Oh, I really like that cat with the heart eyes and that monkey who is covering his mouth.”

Interesting. So, you look like a normal dude but people talk about you like you are a local celebrity. Is that weird when you are out shopping for groceries? "Honestly, it makes me a little nervous because I don’t view myself as anything special. I'm very honored that people know my name. Any place I go in Grayling people say hi. I don’t know if everyone understands what this sport is all about and that’s ok. Sometimes I wonder if maybe they assume I ride a bike everywhere because I don't have a driver's license or something.”

That's actually a funny way to look at it. You do have a drivers license, right? “Yes.”

Earlier when we were chatting you mentioned how much you love flannel shirts.  What would you wear every single day if you could only pick one thing? “I would wear flannel shirts with blue jeans.”

 What about on your bike? “I’d just wear cut-off blue jeans…with my flannel shirt.”

That makes sense. So in all seriousness, being a professional athlete isn't something that everyone can do. I don't mean just the physical aspect, I mean the psychological part too.  You keep getting better and faster and you seem to be under a magnifying glass; how do you feel about that? “It’s really hard to explain this part.  In TC everyone knows me and they expect me to do well.  This is probably where most of my drive comes from when I train.  If I was going to a different state, no one would know me, so it would be different.  I’m very humbled by the cycling community in TC and I always appreciate it.  I think there will always be pressure when racing at any level, but I always try to turn it into something good.”

You’ve made it very clear that you love riding for M22; what makes it so special? “It’s really just about being in the woods with your friends and people who have the drive to go fast. The guys on the team want to ride hard and push each other. M22 takes really good care of its athletes and I’m very appreciative of that. What’s even more fun is watching the banter between Matt and Keegan (Myers) on Strava after a good ride.  A perfect day would be a 100 mile ride through the woods with a beer stop halfway with the team (as long as Sean Kickbush didn’t come).”

Ha ha ha, “Sean Kickbush.” He sounds nice.  You do a lot of different races every year.  Which two are your favorite and why? “I love Ore to Shore in Marquette, Michigan.  Marquette is one of the greatest towns and that race has awesome competition.  I also love Iceman.  You can’t beat the atmosphere, the competition is crazy, and when it’s over, the pressure is off for a bit. 

What and who inspired you to get into this sport and who helps keep you in it? “When I was first starting to race it was Brian Matter and Ron Sanborn.  Those two were my inspiration and they pushed me more than I can put into words. I’m also lucky because my parents come to all of my races and have sacrificed so much to get me across the Country to different races. My Dad does my hand-ups and as most racers know, this can make or break a race. I’m lucky in all aspects of support.” 

I hear you will be signing autographs at the Iceman Expo this year.  Any words of advice for those aspiring athletes out there who want to get into the sport?  “I’m signing autographs? Wow. That’s pretty neat. As far as this sport goes, you have to have fun. There’s no point in getting into bicycle racing if you are not going to have fun. Also, be patient. It takes a lot of time to get fast, it won’t happen overnight.”

Okay, one last question: what is this bicycle that you ride and what do you like the most about it?  “I ride a Cannondale FSI.  My favorite thing about it is the fork and that it has not broken.” 

 

 

 

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Pauly's coming home!

Pauly's coming home!

 Pauly Hurlbert as he crosses the Michigan border on his way back home.

 

6000 miles. 200 days on the road. 100 nights in a tent. 17 states. 3 countries. And he's finally coming home to Traverse City.

Last September, when we heard our friend Pauly Hurlbert (follow his Instagram here) had started his solo cross-country bike tour, we couldn't resist featuring his trip in our fall catalog. M22 fans have been following him ever since. Though he started with no real goal or destination in mind, Pauly ended up circling the southern part of the country and eventually headed back north, towing a heap of noteworthy adventures with him.

Like you, we can't wait to hear his stories and give him a high five. So we're holding a welcome home event at the M22 store on the day Pauly rides in—everyone is invited! 

JOIN US! Pauly will be riding into Traverse City at 6pm Friday, April 1st. Meet us in front of the M22 store (125 E. Front Street) to celebrate his return with a group bike ride along Union and State streets, ending at The Little Fleet for drinks and stories. Bikes are encouraged but not required—bring your wheels or just bring yourself. Either way, get here!

 

 

 

“...The beauty is, after this long period of touring I've realized this. All of these amplified challenges become very comfortable. It really becomes normal life. I don't seem to worry at all about finding a place to sleep, because I've always found one. I don't worry about my bike breaking down because I've fixed it so many times. I don't worry about being helpless and alone, because the kindness of strangers has always been there... Every single challenge has made me stronger. When I finish and return to "normal life" that confidence will carry over to my every day life, for the rest of my life. So, my advice is this. Get the hell out of your comfort zones! Just go!” –Pauly Hurlbert

  


Below is Pauly's original article as featured in the 2015 M22 Fall/Winter Catalog:

THE DIRECTION IS SOUTH and although he knows he’ll at least ride to Tijuana, he’s leaving the end open. And he’s heading out alone. 

His official name is Paul Hurlbert, but everyone calls him Pauly. This summer, he put his belongings in storage, quit two great jobs, and decided to spend the next few months on his bicycle traveling the west side of the country from Canada to Mexico. 

A flight instructor, a bartender, a musician, Pauly’s always been the adventurous type. He jumps out of airplanes as often as possible. At a bar last March back home in Traverse City, Pauly met a guy from Delaware. This guy would tell him about a bike ride from New York to San Francisco. It blew his mind. “To be honest, I had never heard of bike touring before. The seed had definitely been planted and I said that night, ‘I will absolutely do that, someday.’” 

Someday quickly turned into September. 

When often asked why he chose a bicycle, he affirms that it offers him a thrilling amount of freedom. “The ability to create whatever pace you’d like. Fast enough to see cities, states, and countries. Slow enough to experience every moment in between. Constantly alternating between extreme challenges and incredible rewards.” Every grueling hill, every difficult stretch is contrasted by a gorgeous view or pleasant coast downward—and totally worth it.”

While planning this trip, the most common questions he was asked were about fear. If he was afraid of being alone, traveling unknown territories, or trekking congested roads on a bike. “The truth is, these are all challenges I embrace on a daily basis. People tend to not do things because they are afraid of them, but in my experience every day is overcoming challenges. You always come out of the tip of the hill stronger. Now, instead of fear, I choose to put myself in challenging situations because I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.” 

Pauly understands fear Two years ago, his wife, Kelly, died in a traffic accident while riding her bike only a quarter of a block from home. She was 29, and the love of his life. 

“We both rode our bikes every day.”

For her memorial only days later, Paul led 1,500 bicyclists on a one-mile ride through several Traverse City streets. “She was a very strong person. She wouldn’t have wanted us to stop riding our bikes.”

Pauly doesn’t really attribute his trip to the death of his wife, but says she is always on his mind. “I do have some tough moments when I’m on a small shoulder or when a car passes me, only inches away. It’s impossible not to think about what happened to her, but I just keep riding. It’s what she would have wanted. She was the best, hands down—living to the fullest and loving as much as possible. I feel like doing anything less would be the greatest injustice to her legacy.”

HIGHS AND LOWS When we were interviewing Pauly for this article, he got a flat tire and had to call us back. When we finally caught up with him, we learned his forced break caused him to stop into a random diner where he discovered the best French toast of his life. “Homemade bread and jam,” he said. He seemed happy, and he told us about his other adventures since hitting the road.

He’s enjoyed stretches of sunshine and seemingly endless days of rain. He’s spent nights in hammocks, tents, and on the couch of strangers. He’s had days where his legs gave out after only 35 miles, quickly finding a place to sleep off the side of the road. He’s had days where 80 miles felt like a mere warm-up, only stopping because a friend offered him a comfortable place to rest. Once he walked into a bar in the middle of a precarious scene—bikers dressed in leather and rave wear dancing to electronic beats—only to end up joining them and making a few new friends. Another night he stayed with a family in Astoria, Oregon. He vividly remembers watching as the father, a burly ship carpenter, gently sang his 6-month old child to sleep in an armchair. Both of their arms slowly fell to their sides and their eyes shut.

One kind stranger Pauly met on warmshowers.org (a resource for long-distance bikers much like couchsurfers.org) had a bike accident years ago. In a coma for 16 months—complete with a scar to prove it—he had spent years relearning how to talk and eat. He now hosted other cyclists as a way to stay connected and be reminded of his gratitude. 

Pauly’s adventures have taken him along the rugged coastline of the Pacific Northwest, among the tall redwoods, and the winding scenery of California. No matter how gorgeous it is, he still misses the fresh water of home. “101 reminds me of 22. It hugs the coastline. People take pride in it. But it’s not nearly as beautiful as back home. I don’t know why. It just isn’t the same.”

He’s not entirely sure when he’ll finish, or where he’ll end up. “Ultimately, I’m spending each day as it comes. If I like a town, maybe I’ll stay for a while. I’ve traveled alone many times before, and have realized that the fewer plans you make, the more you open yourself up to spontaneous encounters that become unforgettable.”

NO PLACE LIKE HOME No matter how far he is from home, Pauly’s heart remains here in northern Michigan. “I know this is something Kelly would want me doing. If she were here today, she would give me a huge high five for doing this. That’s all the comfort I need.” 

To pay tribute to Kelly Hurlbert or donate to the benefit fund, visit her memorial website at remembertolove.org.

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Cross country for $300: An M22 Microadventure

Cross country for $300: An M22 Microadventure

 

If you’re craving a dose of adventure but operating on a shoestring budget, the recent road trip of M22 Ambassador, Grant Piering, demonstrates that you can get further than you’d expect. $64 for a one-way plane ride from Chicago to San Francisco was a good place to start, but he craved more than just Cali sunshine. With hikes to mountain peaks and camping under the stars in mind, an epic microadventure took shape: MI to Cali, and back, for $300 or less. Though the 1997 BMW they bought in San Fran (and sold once back home) had no cruise control or radio, Grant and crew conquered half the country from Yosemite to Zion, Breckenridge to Denver, St. Louis to home. He ended with $3 to spare and a few pointers for others with wanderlust:

 

1. GET THE TICKET

If you’re set on a particular destination, you can sign up to get email alerts when airfare prices drop from your home airport to your selected destination through websites like Airfarewatchdog (www.airfarewatchdog.com). If you’re open to anywhere, follow Grant’s lead and use Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.com). This website allows you to specify your departure city in the “from” search box and type the word ”everywhere” in the “to” search box. You can then broaden the search even further by selecting entire months for your “depart” and “return” dates, rather than selecting specific days. The more flexible your travel schedule is, the more possible this will be: 

 

2. GET A TRAVEL BUDDY

Grant had two fellow free spirits along for the ride. They split all of the expected expenses like groceries and camping fees along with some unexpected ones like snow chains and calamine lotion. They kept team morale high despite limited food rations and provided company in the waiting room when Grant broke out in poison oak. They were essential, because it’s rare to have everything go right.

 

3. GET LOST

Be flexible with your itinerary, open to the suggestions of locals and accepting of the kindness of strangers. A random facebook post connected Grant with a man from Breckenridge, Steve Adair, who offered much needed food, shelter, and showers to the three exhausted wanderers in the final days of their travel. This impromptu camping spot on the road to Zion was not their intended sleeping destination, but offered a brilliantly painted and unparalleled sky once night fell:

 

 

“When nothing is planned, anything can happen” - M22 Ambassador, Grant Piering

Get the ticket. Get a travel buddy. Get lost. Find everything.

 

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After the storm. Our Story. Our support.

After the storm. Our Story. Our support.

 

UPDATE, OCT. 1, 2015: Thanks to you, our LOVE Glen Arbor shirts raised over $7,000, covering all out-of-pocket expenses for our employees with vehicle damage. Overwhelmed by that success and the generosity of others, we’ve decided to extend our donations to the entire Glen Arbor community. Now, with your purchase of any LOVE Glen Arbor item, we’ll donate 22% of sales to The Friends Of Sleeping Bear Dunes, benefiting their restoration efforts of the Heritage Trail. Read more and purchase your shirt at M22.com/loveglenarbor.

 

Just one of the damaged vehicles belonging to Glen Arbor store staff.

 

 


The storm. It was only last week, but the aftermath will be ours forever. Trails, landscapes, business, lives—all have been permanently altered. Glen Arbor as we all knew it will never be the same.

At M22, we’ve always felt an important responsibility to support the Leelanau area. It’s a part of us, our very roots. Along with our customers, we’ve been asking, “What can we do?”

Inspired by our community members offering food, electricity, manpower (and even hugs!), we’ve decided to make an impact in the most effective and immediate way possible: by helping our employees. At our store in Glen Arbor, we were lucky enough to not sustain any real harm. However, our employees didn’t have it so easy.

Nearly every one of our staff’s cars were damaged by fallen trees, some to the point of total ruin. These hardworking people—mostly college students, saving for the upcoming fall semester—are left devastated. Because of insurance costs, most of the repairs have to be paid out-of-pocket.

So for each LOVE Glen Arbor shirt sold in our store, we’re donating $10 to help our staff repair or replace their vehicles

 

Buy yours now:
LOVE Glen Arbor tee

 

 

“People were running into our store for shelter, and the doors began flying open from the wind. So we we immediately took everyone downstairs for safety.”
-Emily, M22 Glen Arbor store employee

“When we realized how bad the storm was, we rushed to try and save a family biking on the trail. When we came back, I noticed a tree had fallen on the back of my truck; it was completely shattered. To get home and avoid the closed roads, my brother ended up picking me up...in a boat.”
-Gus, Crystal River Outfitters Cyclery employee

“I was walking to my car to head home when the storm hit, but decided to turn back into the store for shelter. I’m glad I did, because immediately after a tree fell down on top of it, pancaked the roof in. The car? It’s a total loss. But at least I’m alive!”
-Rob, Crystal River Outfitters employee

 

 

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Get lost this weekend

Get lost this weekend

 

This weekend is International Surfing and Father's Day: Two of our favorite holidays, back to back!

International Surfing Day was created in 2004 to observe coastal protection, and as a day to leave a sign on the door to your office: GONE SURFING. Happily, this year it and Father's Day falls on a weekend, and we just can't help but think that's the universe suggesting an outdoor, watersport weekend… This weekend, we encourage you to play in the water. Listen to the waves breaking. Get lost. We believe that getting out and getting lost means creating memories with your family and friends.

 

Our fathers taught us how to approach and embrace the world, and we think that life is like surfing: you must go with the flow to make it work. We are a company of millennials, and some of us are becoming fathers ourselves. To us, fatherhood means leaving a legacy in another person.

 

Co-Owner and Co-Founder Matt Myers and his son, at the 2015 M22 Challenge.

 

Fatherhood means being a role model, and at M22, conservation and land ethics is paramount: our business is an embodiment of the lifestyle of our area, the National Lakeshore. We celebrate our fresh water splendor by playing in it: kiteboarding, surfing, swimming, and plain ol’ floating. We also celebrate it by protecting it. Ever since we started, we have donated 1% of our sales to the Leelanau Conservancy, to help keep our shores clean and preserved for the future.

We’d like to thank you, for supporting us, and contributing to that legacy we all enjoy! Happy International Surfing Day, and Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

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SURVIVAL TIPS FOR THE 3 LEGS OF THE M22 CHALLENGE

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR THE 3 LEGS OF THE M22 CHALLENGE

 

We got the scoop on how to make the best of each leg of this race from locals and the 2014 Queen of the Road, and a 5-time Women’s Winner. #M22challenge

Sand, road, water, and a pinch-me-it’s-so-stunning landscape all await you during the M22 Challenge, Northern Michigan’s premier multi-discipline race in Leelanau County.

Racing up the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb, cycling on Leelanau Peninsula's scenic roads, and paddling to glory on Little Glen Lake: this unconventional triathlon is a sure-fire way to renew your love of nature, fitness, and competitive races.

We caught up with several veteran Challenge participants, including past winners, to learn tricks and tips for nailing the run, bike, and paddle portions of the race, no matter where you train.

 

UP FIRST: THE RUN

A fresh take on triathlons, the M22 Challenge starts with the running portion: a 2.5 mile dash, with the middle section up the dunes-- the crown jewel of the Sleep Bear National Lakeshore. 2014’s ‘King of the Dune’, winner (his time was 10:45!), Jake Flynn of Traverse City offers this advice on dominating this section of the race: “One to two times per month I try to hike [the dunes] to Lake Michigan and back. It’s such an amazing hike and a beautiful way to spend a morning. I do try to sprint the inclines. Which are brutal no matter how many times you've done them.” 

If you are a city dweller, or don’t live near dunes, Jake recommends finding “the biggest, nastiest hill around you and time yourself sprinting up it. Keep your best in mind and try to better it every time. As you build strength, your time will drop. Once you feel like you can maintain a race-pace-like effort from bottom to the top, you're ready.” 

Experienced Challenge participants also will tell you that it’s especially important to reign in your enthusiasm during the run. In other words: don’t go out too hard.

Jake offers this final run advice: “Don't change your strategy based on the sand. I tested bare-feet, racing flats, five fingers, and found nothing made much of an advantage. Wear normal racers as you would with any road race. The dune is a big challenge but it's over and done within a few minutes. Then it's back to trails and roads.”

 

READY TO RIDE

The 17-mile bike ride is Sean Kickbush’s favorite part of the M22 Challenge, and is a three-year veteran of the race. “The bike course is beautiful,” says Kickbush, 38 and from Suttons Bay. Last year, he finished the bike portion in 44:42 was third place overall. “I put my bike as close to the run finish as possible,” Sean says. “My heart rate is super high during the run so I want it back to normal as soon as possible.”

His tips for a successful ride: “If you have triathlon-specific shoes and have experience putting them on while you’re on the bike, that is typically the most efficient way to go from the run to bike. I have my shoes clipped in the bike when I grab it from the stand. I hop on my bike get it up to speed, then put my feet in the shoes while I'm moving. If you’re not comfortable with that, put on your bike shoes in the transition area and clip in when you get out of the grass. You’re only talking about a few seconds here so I would say do whatever is easiest and safest for you.”

A pro-tip from Sean: make sure not to have rocks and debris “stuck to my foot before I put my shoes on – that makes for an uncomfortable ride or having to stop and losing momentum.”  

Five-time overall female winner Keri Pawielski, 38, is an experienced triathlete – this summer she is training for an August Ironman. During the Challenge, a decidedly shorter race compared to other triathlons she tackles, she generally goes hard. On the bike she “pushes it up the hills.” 

“A lot of people are thinking I’m in the wrong gear, but I like to crank it. I never spin up the hill. I just want to get up to the top,” says Keri, who lives in St. Joe. “I just want to be in a pretty decent gear on the way up, and I’m pretty conservative down the hills … I really trash my quads going up Inspiration Point, but I know I’m going to be in aero the rest of the race.” 

Jamie Endicott, who was named Queen of the Road in 2014 (her first M22 Challenge) with a bike finish time of 49:39, says she always goes into a race “with one ‘big’ goal.” 

“It’s usually something like having a negative-split bike time or keeping good form throughout the run,” she says. “Having one goal that is entirely in your control helps everything else fall into place.

 

PADDLE POWER

Nick Murray, who finished the paddle in 19:16 in 2013, is a whiz on the water. “The number one key is having a fast boat,” says Murray, who owns TC Surfski, a northern Michigan company that sells kayaks and paddles. “On the water, length is speed -- simple physics.”   

Once you have the boat and paddle, he says, you need to learn to use both: “What most people don’t realize is that paddling is a highly technique-intensive sport, similar to swimming or cross country skiing. Paddlers with good technique will get most of their power from the larger muscles; including legs, hips, core, and lats; as opposed to traditional paddlers who use mostly shoulders and biceps.”

He offers these ideas for a strong paddle: “I recommend checking out the area where you will launch in advance, to get a sense for how shallow the water is. I know the winners try to get in their boats as soon as possible, but this is difficult if you have a fixed rudder that could drag in shallow water.” 

For him, settling into a groove usually takes about a 1/3 of a mile. “The focus should be getting away from just frantically splashing at the water, and really focusing on paddling with good technique: driving with your legs, core rotation, and lats,” he says. 

“I just go for it,” Nick adds. “I usually have a lot of catching up to do, so that helps, I always have a target to catch --  I would recommend just setting your sights on one person at a time and trying to get past them, then on to the next.”

We look forward to seeing returning racers, new ones, and the sense of community spirit this race evokes in athletes. Good luck to all the 2015 competing athletes!

 

 

We’d like to thank Heather Johnson Durocher (of MichiganRunnerGirl.com) for supplying the work for this blog post, Beth Price (of Beth Price Photography) for the gorgeous photography seen in this post, and to North Peak Brewing Company for being the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 M22 Challenge. #M22challenge

 

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M22 CHALLENGE TRANSITIONS: FUEL & SECRETS

M22 CHALLENGE TRANSITIONS: FUEL & SECRETS

 

 

We discuss tips for fueling during the race and making strong transitions with a few M22 Challenge past winners and participants. #M22challenge

 

FUELING FOR THE RACE

Some Challenge athletes swear by fueling during the race while others say the event is short enough that replenishing your fuel supply isn’t necessary. One thing they all agree upon: don’t try anything new on race day, including your pre-race meal.

“Don't change things up the morning of the race that you haven't tried before—that’s a recipe for disaster,” recommends Sean Kickbush, of M22’s bike team. This is what works well for him: “I usually get up, and eat a bowl of oatmeal and a banana right away. I snack on an ERG bar on the way to the race, and that's about it. It's a short race so nutrition strategy isn't very important. I almost always have a couple of dates in my pocket for emergency energy just in case. They're packed with natural sugars to give me a quick jump if I need it. Most people carry a gel pack of some sort. Same concept. Small and easy to digest.”

Jamie Endicott, the 2014 women’s winner, also has a small breakfast on race morning: “I eat something small, like oatmeal, two hours before the event. After that I stick to fluids like Heed,” she says. “I read that some elites drink Red Bull before their races, so I might give that a try! During short races, like the M22 Challenge, all I use is a sports drink (Heed) on my bike. I don’t worry about bars or gels unless I plan on racing over two hours.” 

Jake Flynn, a Traverse City athlete, physician, and M22 Challenge master dune runner offers this been-there, done-that fueling advice: “At the end of the day, I believe it’s important to find out what works best for you. The best way is try different things the night before long runs. For me, I still carb load and hydrate. Sandwiches, pastas, breads … keep in mind this is coming from a guy that won't look at a simple white carb the rest of the time. But gearing up for a race, I fill the tank with what has worked in the past. Hydration is key though. Three days out I start making an effort to drink more water. No substitutes and no additives. Just plain ol’ H2O. The day before the race, I drink 1 gallon of water. I start early, so I'm not up all night....Then on race day, 2 hours before the gun, I drink 2 liters of water as fast as I can, and eat 1 Powerbar. Powerbar is all fructose and some protein, so it's easily digestible. Don't eat anything with any fiber or fat. Those things don't digest, and you don't want them coming back at you during the race. 15 min before the gun I eat 1 GU pack. I like the ones with caffeine. Then, every 45 minutes I refuel with a GU and water. Don't mix a GU pack with a sports drink -- that makes cement in your stomach. Ugh.”

 

 

ENSURING STRONG TRANSITIONS 

At least once or twice before the event, Sean Kickbush suggests spending some time simulating the event. “Go for a short hard run (15-20min), hop on the bike go hard for an hour, then paddle for 20-30 minutes in consecutive order,” he says. “I live pretty close to the lake so it's easy for me to just have all my stuff at the public access and do it there. It's important to know how you will feel on the bike and in the kayak when you are already fatigued. It may also let you know that maybe you can go a little harder than you thought. The only way to ever know is to do it, and take note of how you feel when you are doing it. This is a great time to practice your transitions from one sport to the next, too.” 

Jamie suggests getting to transition early to claim a spot close to either end. “I always walk the transition a few times and try to find ‘landmarks’ like trees close to my bike,” she says. “It also helps to have a bright towel (or bike, in my case). Last year I lost a minute looking for my kayak. Getting a spot close to the water is pretty important for this race.”

Being mentally prepared is essential as well. “People often think when they train to go fast that the pain will magically go away during a race—it doesn't. It gets worse,” Sean says. “You just learn to deal with it and hurt more. You might get a flat, you may trip and fall. You might tumble down the dunes. Things rarely go perfect. Be prepared to deal with imperfections and push through them.”   

The M22 Challenge is a race that people travel across the country to do; not because it’s the toughest, or most competitive race, but because it’s one of the most fun. (Not to mention the race terrain has awesome views!)

“First and foremost, remember this is a one of a kind, ‘fun’ event,” Sean Kickbush says. “We’re all amateur athletes in spandex, running around having a good time. Just finishing is a cool thing – try not to take it or yourself too seriously … I can't stress enough to go out and just have fun and enjoy the landscape. Be stoked you had the courage, health and follow-through to show up and finish. That in and of itself deserves a pat on the back.”

 

We’d like to thank Heather Johnson Durocher (of MichiganRunnerGirl.com) for supplying the work for this blog post, Beth Price (of Beth Price Photography) for the gorgeous photography seen in this post, and to North Peak Brewing Company for being the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 M22 Challenge. #M22challenge

 

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The M22 Story

The M22 Story

 

Welcome to our blog!

Founded by kiteboarders in search of epic wind and waves, M22 was created to express a common passion for Northern Michigan shared by our friends and family. Though our company began in Northern Michigan, the passion our brand stands for spreads beyond Michigan’s borders. The M22 lifestyle is marked by the simplicity and appreciation for natural wonders such as bays, beaches and bonfires, dunes and vineyards, cottages, friends and family everywhere. M22 is the feeling you get when you realize there is no other place you would rather be.

Matt and Keegan Myers, M22 Founders

 

Getting ready to write our first post, it was an easy decision that we wanted to begin by sharing our story.  I’m sure you’ve heard of M22 if you’re already here but you may not know how M22 started or how it’s evolved to what it is today.  Incredibly, it’s been almost 11 years since we began in 2004.  Ever since then, I’ve saved clippings from magazines and newspapers where our brand has been covered in stacks of boxes. I’ve collected samples of every first shirt or item we’ve made, and archived thousands of pictures and memories.  With everything sprawled out in front of me, I want to start from the beginning. 

It all started with kiteboarding, and to be honest, kiteboarding was initially why we decided to plant our roots where we grew up, in northern Michigan.  If you don’t know what kiteboarding is, google “broneah”.  Better yet, image search that. 

My brother and I lived and breathed kiteboarding.  Not only did we kite as much as possible, we taught kiteboarding, owned a kiteboarding school, started a kiteboarding brand (Broneah), edited for a kiteboarding magazine, competed, photographed, were sponsored, and traveled for kiteboarding.  It was our life and so we were determined to be in a place where we could kiteboard as much as possible in the most ideal setting. 

 

“If you dont know what kiteboarding is, google “broneah.” Better yet, image search that.”

 

We were fortunate enough to be able to travel the world (literally) in our early twenties and when we got back to Michigan, it was clear to us that Michigan is one of the best places in the world for kiteboarding.  Fresh, uncrowded water.  Incredible beaches, breathtaking views.  Miles of flat water, sandy bottom lakes.  Waves when we are lucky.  Seasons - which meant getting out of here in the winter and heading to the next best kiteboarding spot.  When we did leave Michigan, our friends who lived in the tropics or in more mainstream hotspots for kiting always asked, “why in the hell would you live in Michigan?”.  Clearly, no one had a clue and it was never easy to explain.  As you know, if you’re from Michigan, you have to experience it to understand.   

Kiteboarding connected us to Michigan in a unique way.  We studied the weather like sailors, understood the waves and currents likes surfers and then put ourselves out there, miles off shore in Lake Michigan with nothing more than a board under our feet using the water to ground ourselves and a kite in the sky to pull us powered by nothing but the wind.  We truly respected nature for this simple phenomenon which was our bliss.   

 

 

As our kiteboarding business and reputation grew, so did our passion for northern Michigan as well as our sustentation for the area.  We felt we were representing a lifestyle that we wanted to authenticate and attest through a brand so that we could share it with others.  We knew that others in northern Michigan were already living a similar lifestyle in their own particular ways, maybe not through kiteboarding, but through other activities and ways of enjoying nature’s wonders as northern Michigan is not short on them.  There was not yet a way to mutually identify this lifestyle, however. 

 

Several of our favorite kiteboarding spots in northern Michigan are off of highway M-22. The road is marked by the black and white M-22 road sign, nothing more than a sign to help visitors and residents alike find their way around the most beautiful part of our state. To us, however, the image of the road sign meant more than just a road. More than directions. It became a symbol. A symbol of our passion, our lifestyle, and with that in mind, we put it on a shirt and wore it proudly. It became a brand, and while teaching a local attorney how to kiteboard, he suggested we trademark it to protect and share our idea.

Our intention was not to make a living or start a big business, we didn’t actually have a business plan but we were paying off our college loans and saving up for plane tickets to go to the Caribbean, so when friends saw our shirts and wanted them, we made them.  We started selling them out of the back of our kiteboarding van on the side and from the very beginning we donated a portion of the proceeds to the Leelanau Conservancy because that just seemed like the right thing to do. 

 

Then, as luck would have it, Traverse Magazine was doing an interview and photo-shoot with us for a story on kiteboarding and my brother happened to be wearing one of our M22 shirts during the shoot.  That shot became the cover of the magazine and before we knew it, requests started pouring in for shirts from people we had never met.  Without a doubt, the symbolism we had created, between the logo and the lifestyle, had caliber with more than just our kiteboarding community.  

 

Risking it all, we refocused all of our resources on developing M22 into a business.  We built a website, hired employees, started wholesaling, rented space in downtown Traverse City, re-did our website, rented a bigger space, franchised our store to a Glen Arbor location, added more wholesalers, hired more employees, re-did our website again… and we’re still growing.   

 

“...from the very beginning we donated a portion of the proceeds to the Leelanau Conservancy because that just seemed like the right thing to do. ”

 

We’ve been busy adding products and co-brands to provide something for all ages and preferences.  Our customers have expanded from kiteboarding friends, locals, and Michiganders to those from other cities, states, and countries.  M22 goes beyond Michigan.  People all over share this passion and lifestyle defined by M22 in their own special way, in their own towns. M22 is just the symbol that communicates it and if you’ve been to Michigan, it means even more. 

We still kiteboard, not as often as we’d like, but we do, and now when we travel people see the M22 logo and ask us about it.  Now we have a better way to explain why we live here.  Even more often when we travel, we actually see our own logo and when we do we share a smile, a nod, or a wink, because between us and the logo, there is a mutual understanding.  

Now time to put these boxes away and hang out with my baby boy. 

ENJOY, MATT

 

 

 

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