Tuesday, December 22, 2009

End and Beginning

Cross season is almost over with only the State Championships to go in January. The whole purpose of racing cross is to have fun and find the love of riding and racing again. Now the road season is on the horizon and it's the moment of truth. Joe's Pro Bikes started their two week training camp on Saturday. I have to work most of the first week but was really looking forward to getting out and mixing up with teammates I haven't seen in a couple of months.

Saturday was a ride in Boerne and there was about 20 guys out which is one of the best showings for any ride recently. My recent trend of forgetting things continued as I forgot my bike pack that has all my tools, air, patch, tube, and other necessities. Fortunately none of it was needed. We rode out to Ranger Creek Rd and then split into teams of four to practice some race tactics. It was a lot of fun racing out Ranger Creek which is almost all uphill going out and then racing back downhill. What was supposed to be a short and fast 2 hour ride turned into a 3 1/2 hours of hard riding.

Sunday was a ride in Fredericksburg. My legs were feeling the effects of Saturday and I was praying for a slow day. It was in the mid to upper 30s at the start but perfectly sunny and beautiful. This ride I forgot food and gloves and was wondering if I was going to be able to ride at all but Phillipe had an extra set of gloves so I made do. We did 3 hours of riding on the county and farm roads that go through the beautiful hill country around Fredericksburg. It warmed up nicely and our group of about 10 had a blast. I found that my love for riding has returned and the camaraderie of cycling is vastly underrated. Below are a few pictures from Fredericksburg. Pardon the mediocre quality but its the best an iPhone can deliver.

Hanging out

Beautiful roads

Not a car anywhere

More stopping

Jimmy taking a "nap"

The View

Friday, December 11, 2009

Houston Weekend - Video

Here is a video of Saturday's Open race.

Houston Weekend - Part 2

Sunday lacked the mud that made Saturday so brutal but it was course with lots of hairpins, a very long straight away, and one slippery run up. The weather was cloudy, in the mid-40s, with drizzle, and 10-15 mph winds. It would be another tough day.

I was second on the sprint behind Brett of Austin Flyers to start but he carried to much speed and over-cooked the first hairpin and I jumped and got another good gap. I carried it till the second lap when I got lazy going over the barriers, caught the bike on the first barriers and went down hard. I grabbed the bike and banged the shifters back into place but my gap was shrinking quickly. I was caught on the run-up by a guy on a mountain bike who turned out to be a Cat 1 on the road and had a motor I couldn't match. I chased for a while but it was futile and just burned me out. Eventually I was caught and passed by one more rider. I tried to bring them back but felt Saturday's effort and couldn't find the burst I needed. I finished 3rd and Jimmy got 6th for what was very successful weekend.

The weekend's adventures were not over though. The rain was getting harder as we headed back to San Antonio. About 40 miles outside of Houston without warning the driver side windshield wiper came loose and flew off the car. The passenger windshield wiper went pretty far to the left so I took up a gangster lean towards the middle of the car and continued torwards Columbus where Jimmy and I planned to stop for lunch. About 5 miles down the road the passenger side windshield wiper suddenly exited the vehicle and I was sans wipers. I carefully got off the highway at the next exit which fortunately contained a small town with a O'Rielly's Autoparts. I purchased and installed a new set up wipers and noticed the trash can outside the store was completely full of wiper blade boxes. There was evidently a windshield wiper black hole in the area.

Houston Weekend - Part 1

Cross racing in Europe involves racing in mud and snow but races in the US are typically "crits on grass". US races are usually on hard, fast course with the occassional sand pit or mud to break up the speed. When I checked the weather and saw it was going to be a wintery weekend I expected it would be a little warmer in Houston but Friday came around and Houston received 3-4 inches of snow.

I drove up to Houston on Saturday morning to meet Jimmy for Cross Houston at Bayou Park. We got to the park and first appearance it looked like a fast course. It turned out to be anything but... It was upper 30s and sunny at the start of the race. The race started by dropping us in the back half of the course into a long straight-away. As the course went under the bridge there was two deep ruts across the course except for the far left. Jimmy and I lined up on the left so as to force the other riders to go through the ruts or fall in behind us. The whistle blew and we went out hard. I took the whole shot. Right after the straight away was a hard right to a very steep climb. I made the choice to run it as opposed to trying to mash my way up and burning myself out. I ran up and had a good gap by the top. Jimmy was a little behind me and had a gap on the strung out field. The course wound around the park before leading to a paved area. It then went through a couple of small, ridable sand traps before coming back to the start/finish. I went through the start/finish onto the front half of the course for the first time while maintaining a decent gap. Right after the start/finish it went into some heavy mud followed by a wet run-up. I rode into the mud, dismounted and struggled up the slippery slope. When I re-mounted the bike it felt like the rear brake was locked and I feared the mud had clogged it up. I struggled to push pedals and Jimmy caught and passed me and I knew the rest of the field couldn't be far behind. Finally something gave way and I was chasing Jimmy. I went into the first corner and hit the brake and there was no rear brake. The rest of the race I rode with only the front brake and was a kamikaze through the turns. The course then dove down into another mud pit that was about 20-25 feet of thick, soupy, ankle deep mud. When you finally slogged through the mud and re-mounted, the grass was so water logged you could barely pedal to the barriers. After hurdling the barriers it was back to the straight away where we started. I caught and passed Jimmy on the second lap and had a lead again. Going down into the mud pit the second time, just as I dismounted the rear tire slipped and I fell flat into the mud. I quickly grabbed the bike and ran while spitting mud out of my mouth. I kept waiting for the field to catch me but it never happened. I had my first ever cross victory. Jimmy was caught on the last lap but was in the perfect position to take the sprint but a bobble in the sand caused him to get third. It was the toughest course I have ever done and the most exhausted I have ever been after a race but it is a great feeling when it comes with a win. Sweet Leaf Tea sponsored the race so the prizes were cases of tea.

Race Start

Running through the mud

Jimmy running through the mud

Jimmy hurdling the barriers

Tea Toddlers

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Much love to all my family. I'm very thankful for all of you. I'm looking forward to a great day of food and football.

Also much thanks to all our service men and women. You sacrifice so much in service of this country. I hope this holiday season that you are away from home protecting our freedom you feel our support and thanks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Off

No racing this past weekend so I dusted off the road bike. It was the first ride on the Cannondale since the end of September. Woke up and rode from the house to the shop. It was cool and cloudy morning but the speed and quickness of the road bike was invigorating. A small group from the shop went out for a slow and steady ride with a few burst and a city limit sprint. AI finished with 68 miles which is my first 50+ mile ride since the beginning of September. My legs felt it and it confirmed my suspicion that my base form is on an extended vacation.

I've decided to rebuild my commuting wheelset. The old Shimano Ultegra hubs are out. They're rebuildable hubs but I found that they can be finicky when trying to get the tension right and can require frequent adjustment. They went on eBay today and some DT Swiss 340 hubs will replace them. I've heard great things about DT Swiss hubs and if these work out I'll probably put DT Swiss 240s on my tubular race wheel set.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Austin - Cyclocross Scuffle

Last Saturday I made the quick trip north to Austin to race the Cyclocross Scuffle. I was coming off a good results on a very open course but was now approaching a more technical course.

The course had a rolling uphill start before a sweeping left over some pavement and then another sweeping left into a fast off-camber section. The off-camber section curved right before a hard left around a tree. The off camber left around the tree was a hard turn on a steeper off camber grade that also had some loose dirt. The pre-ride confirmed that you could easily enter the corner way to hot and either fall or go off the course. It then led into a grass sections with a series of 90 degree turns. This threw you onto a bumpy straight that led to a steep run up with two taller then regulation barriers. A hard left followed onto a dirt/gravel road that was fast but had a railroad tie laid across the road. This was just low enough to convince you to try to bunny hop it but was tall enough that if you mistimed your hope (which could happen after a couple of laps and your brain is short of oxygen) it could send you over the bars (which happened to several riders). You then went up a steep ridable berm and immediately went back down to a long grass straight. The course finally cut back down a sidewalk followed by a hard left into a sandpit. Another grass straight followed with another sandpit before a couple of tight turns that led into the start finish.

Heading up to the race my stomach felt queasy and I questioned whether I should race but my competitive side overruled my unhappy belly. When I arrived at the race I was surprised to find a couple of teammates there to race the 4s with me. Jimmy was back off his Wurstcross shoulder injury and Connor (1 of our super juniors) was there after his high school cross country season. Jimmy and I agreed to start fast due to the large field (almost 40) so we could have a good position going into the off camber section around the tree. I guaranteed Jimmy there would be a crash in that section on the first lap. The whistle blew and Jimmy took the whole shot and I was 4th wheel. We came to the tree fast, braked hard and no sooner had I cleared the treacherous section then I heard a a bike go down behind me. This caused about 6-7 of us to have a gap on the rest of the field. Jimmy went off with a Bike Heaven rider and I blocked and sat on the chase group. It was nice having a teammate ahead as I was able to take it easy the first 1 1/2 laps while others had to chase. Rolando (a marathoner that is finding success in cross) and I caught Jimmy and Bike Heaven going into the run-up on the second lap with Brett (Austin Flyers) not far behind. Jimmy was hurting and Bike Heaven had nothing left. We passed Jimmy and Bike Heaven and Rolando put down the hammer. Going into the barriers for the 3rd time Rolando had a gap and only Brett was close behind. I caught a foot on one of the barriers and went down and Brett caught me. We rode together trying to bring back Rolando but he still had a decent gap going into the last lap. Both sand pits were deep but had been ridable. Entering the first sand pit on the final lap I was on Brett's wheel and he went on the right side of the trap and I went left. Almost simultaneously we both sunk our front wheels and filled over the bars. Brett was slightly faster back on the bike and through the second sand pit and had a small gap. After getting through the second pit I tried to shift and power down but my shifter was full of sand and wouldn't budge. I tried to spin a high cadence to bring him back but he held on by a bike length. Jimmy finished 5th and Connor 10th.

With a large field on a more technical course I could not be happier with 3rd. It was the most satisfying result of the season. Two consecutive podiums despite last lap crashes. The season takes a break till Houston in early December. Time for rest and base miles.

Heading into the oversized barriers
(Closest, Brett, then Roman, followed by Jimmy on the left and me on the right)

You almost had to jump more than hurdle to get over the barriers

Going through the last turns to the finish

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mistakes & Success

Went up to Ft Worth to do some racing. It was a tough week and the opportunity to get away and push the body to its physical limits was a welcome release.

The Saturday race at Z Boaz park was a fast open course with the exception of a drop down into a muddy creek bed. It was a decent size field and I had a good sprint and ended up 4th wheel in a fast start. On the second turn which was a sweeping right hand turn after a fast straight my rear wheel let go and I went down. The sound of bikes and bodies going down behind me immediately followed. I quickly jumped back on and chased now sitting in about 9th. After a lap of hard chasing I managed to work myself back up to fellow SA rider Henry G. and a local stud junior Imari. We rotate and try to bring back the top 3 but never make any progress. As the race progresses my struggles through the muddy creek begin and the chase back on in the beginning take their toll. I'm okay going down into the creek and through the mud but on the climb back out the other side I can't get good traction and I crawl out. We received the 3 laps to go card and I come off the group climbing out of the muddy creek. I fought to get back on but the next lap the story repeats itself and the crawl up out of the creek bed creates a gap I can't pull back. The last lap I have one chaser but I feel good. The last drop down into the creek and again I struggle getting out. The chaser is now close enough that I can hear his derailleur shift. We go over the barriers and down a straight to a 180 degree turn to the final sprint. He catches and passes me around the turn and we sprint for 6th. The sprint is just to short and he holds on by half a wheel. 7th isn't bad in that field with a crash.

Below is a video of the action through the mud pit with first the 40+ race and then my race. I make a brief appearance at the 1:20 mark and then our race is at the 2:30 point of the video.

Sunday was a "crit on the grass". It started on a wide paved road that fed into a narrow path up over a berm. It then went through a small ridable sand pit followed by a forced run up the steep berm. It was speed and power through the rest of the course with only a set of 3 barriers to break it up before entering the very long paved section.

Recently I have been aiming to be 3rd wheel when the order establishes. The whistle blew and I tried my normal strategy of going hard but trying not to get the whole shot. It was a long ways down the pavement to the bottleneck and about halfway there I looked around and everybody else was waiting for someone to go. 2 quick down shifts and I got out of the saddle and went hard. I entered the bottle neck first and went through the sand pit and up the berm and realized I had a good gap. I put my head down and road solo for the next lap and a half. I was then joined by a rider from Mad Duck, Imari from Saturday, and another junior from Imari's teams. We worked together and built a large gap that would stick. With two laps to go Imari's teammate attacked and I covered. Then Mad Duck and Imari counter and get a small gap. When we get back on the pavement Imari's teammate tries to jump and bridge but I quickly grabbed his wheel and he sits up. I lead back through the sand pit and run up but feign that I'm cracking. Imari's teammate bites and tries to jump across again and I grab the wheel and we're all back together going into the barriers. I'm sitting 3rd wheel with Imari in front of me. We go over the barriers and Imari's teammate clips a barrier and goes down hard. I started thinking about my sprint to early and as I remounted my bike I rubbed my front wheel on Imari's rear wheel and went down. I was able to get up and ride finish 3rd despite a bent right shifter. It's my best finish this season but it's bittersweet because I liked my chances in a heads up sprint.

My form is starting to show up especially in these less technical courses. One more race in Austin and then a break till after Thanksgiving. It's funny how success can make you love racing even more.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Test iPhone post. At a cross race in Fort Worth watching the Open race. To observations..
1. Brian Fawley is back from racing on the national scene and is destroying the field from the gun.
2. A pro Johnny Sunt (sp?) in a Kelly Benefits kit rolled up to the back of the field. Rolled around the first lap in last place, let a huge gap open, and then begin to work. Currently sitting in 4th.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ups and Downs

It was a tumultuous weekend of racing.

It started with Wurstcross in New Braunfels on Saturday. It was a highly technical course with lots of tight switchbacks and off camber action with loose dirt or gravel. I manage to stay upright despite a couple of close calls but lost time through all the technical areas. I started 3rd on the 1st lap after the sprint and slipped back to 12th by the end of the race. It was fun and challenging and continues to make me more determined to improve my bike handling.

Lined up at the start. Good size 4 field for Texas cross.

The start, my greatest strength in cross.....

The beginning of a technical portion.......definitely not my strength

A little barrier action

Entering the final twisty section

Exiting the final twisty section before rise to the finish

Sunday's Tour de Gruene was full of drama. My teammate Anthony who dragged an out of shape me around the course last year hadn't been riding much leading up to this two man time trial. To top it off he went out to celebrate Halloween the night before and called me around 3am to notify me that his car had been stolen from outside the club and he would need a ride in the morning. We finally get there and warmed up but still managed to miss our start time by about 45 seconds. We started off strong but and I was more than happy to lead but Anthony finally came apart over the big hill with about 7 miles to go and faded from that point on. We finished significantly slower than last year and failed to make the podium in our age group (we won it last year). Thankfully, after the Tour de Gruene a lot of the team gathers outside Gruene Hall for a big year end BBQ. It was great to swap stories and enjoy the camaraderie of what is the best team in Texas.

The sequence of events was frustrating and to say I was moody Sunday afternoon would be putting it nicely. Thankfully, the weather is beautiful and slow rides to and from work the past to days along with a patient wife have healed my racing soul. There is heartbreak and frustration but racing is about the beauty and fun of it and I can't wait to race again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This weekend was one day of cross racing in Webberville just east of Austin. The course was long and favored power over technical skills. It started out on a straight before making a hard right turn which led to 3 tall barriers. Then it went through wet, muddy grass to the only technical area of the course. It climbed up a hill that cut back down the hill partway before a cutback climb back up the hill. This led to a slight uphill run with a log barrier before looping back and running along the top of the hill. It finally went back down to the wet, muddy grass that made sure your bike was wet before you went through an up and back sand pit followed by a straight sand pit. After your bike and shoes were thoroughly caked in sand, it was a long, flat power run around the park to the finish.

The 4s was the first race of the day. I started off well but didn't sprint as hard as last weekend and ended up in a group of 4 with 3 up ahead after going through the sand pits for the first time. During the long power section I bridged up to the three ahead with a guy in a white jersey. Over the next lap and a half our group of 5 was whittled to 3; Major Bob, white jersey, and myself. We rode together till the next to last lap when Major Bob attacked, white jersey followed and I tried to follow but I didn't have the burst and my stomach threatened to empty itself on the course. I couldn't recover from the attempted effort and started fading. On the last lap two chasers caught me but I still finished 5th which is my best cross placing yet.

The fist race was so painful I decided to jump in a larger 3/4 field as well. It was fast and I started in the back so there was quickly a large gap. I felt good for the first three laps and reeled in riders but then my body quit on me and two riders came back and passed me. On the last lap the leader who had a minute and half lead over the first chase group caught and passed me. It was on the hill with the log and he neatly bunny-hopped the log. Exhausted and clearly not thinking, I decided to follow his lead and attempt a bunny-hop as well. I should preface this by stating I have never bunny-hopped anything in a race or practice. As I started the bunny hop I realized this was really stupid but I was committed. I put to much weight forward, almost went over the handlebars, but managed to save it and finish 19th.

The best part of the weekend was my parents came out and supported me through both races. I'm blessed with a great family. Thanks Mom and Dad!! The clean up is still ongoing and I glued up the new tubular tire so I hope to race them this coming weekend. Cross racing resumes in two days. This is definitely the way to spend the off season.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week Catch-Up

I've been a little lazy about posting this week. I did get out with the guys on Tuesday at a local Lutheran school that is on an old par 3 golf course. They have cut a cross country course around the old course which makes a great cyclocross training ground. (note: I've decided to stop the nicknames for all the guys I ride with. It's to much to try to keep up with) It's a small crowd that goes out but all the guys are strong riders. Doug, Nate P, Jeff, and a current state jersey holder and mountain/cross extraordinaire Chad. It was great following these guys around and learning their lines and then chasing their accelerations. Each time I get out I feel a little less like a fish out of water and with the ride to and from work it was a nice 40+ mile day.

This weekend we went to ATX to see family, race on Sunday (full report to follow in the next couple of days), and check out the Texas Custom Bike Show that was there with the LiveStrong Challenge. Here is a few photos from the small show. (sorry for the photo quality, was using a loaner camera I didn't know because I left mine at home.)

Beautiful Classic Steel

Nice ride from a new local builder

Great townie

Fixie action (love the track bars)

More fixie (crazy wheels)

Awesome Crumpton CycloX build (my runner-up)

Beautiful Alchemy fixie with Paul crank (my Best in Show)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

San Antonio Cross Weekend

The first weekend of the Texas cyclocross season kicked off in San Antonio with absolutely beautiful weather. Perfectly clear Texas skys, temps in the 70s, and light winds. Both courses were fairly dry despite all the recent rain.

Saturday's race was held at the San Antonio Police Academy. The course was a little rough but had a good flow to it.

The red lines on the right side is the start point. We lined up and I managed a good position on the front row. The whistle blew and I opened a strong sprint and was second wheel once we entered the course. My riding skills weren't very good though. I cross like a roadie on a cross bike, not a true cross rider. There was a series of off camber sections up on the berm at the top side of the course. These were my undoing and I lost 3 spots our first time through them. I started to settle in but on the second lap as I went over the barriers my chain fell off due to poor placement of my chain guard. I got the chain back on but lost 2 more places. I hammered it to try to regain the spots I lost and going through the berm section I wiped out on the third off camber section and dropped my chain again. A group of 3 guys caught me here, a large guy in a black kit, a guy in a Bicycle Heaven kit, and Zack Gonzalez. As we rode I figured out I could open a gap when I wanted and I was faster over the barriers but any time I gained I gave back every time we went through the off camber sections on the berms. These attacks did manage to dislodge Bicycle Heavan but Zack and Black Kit were still there. The next to last lap Zack attacked on the berm section and I couldn't get around Black Kit to go with him. Going through the barriers entering the bell lap I attacked Black Kit and opened a good gap. The last time I went through the off camber berms I took it very conservative and managed to maintain a small gap on Black Kit. Knowing I was faster through the rest of the course I tried to power down to catch Zack but was unable to catch him. 9th place overall in a field of about 30. It was fun and I know it will get better as I find some cross skills.

Sunday's race was the same venue as last year's state championship and is a great course. It is at Padre Park on the river and flows beautifully.

I lined up in the front row again because after the start it is single track for a while and is very hard to pass. The whistle blew and I sprinted well and entered the course 2nd wheel for the 2nd straight day. I was flowing well and the field was stringing out. The course dropped down to the river twice with steep climbs back up. During the pre-race ride I decided it would be better to run up the steep climbs as opposed to trying to ride them and get stuck part way up. We went down the first drop and I was a little rough in my dismount and dropped the chain. Guess I still don't have it dialed in. I managed to get it back on, lost 3 places, but was still in good position as we dropped down to the river for the second part. As we approached the steep climb up I decided to change my plan on the fly and try to ride it in a gamble to make up some places. As I got near the top and tried to turn left with the course my front tire rolled off the rim tearing the valve stem from the tire. The tire instantly went flat and I went down. I was to far from the wheel pit to have a chance at making a change and getting back into the race so I called it a day.
It was very disappointing but I'll glue on a new tire and try again next week.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back From Nowhere

It's been a while since I've posted. Work has been busy followed by a leak in the apartment and an unexpected move. Things have been hectic and the time on the bike has been limited.

Since my last post; congrats to the Kaptain and El Wonder Nino on collecting State RR jerseys in last weeks state championships. Also, cross season starts in less than 48 hours!!! I keep telling myself its for fun and not for results. It's for fun, it's for fun, it's for fun. I think I believe it....

Finally, there is a new toy in this house. I've loved Oakleys and have owned 4 pairs, two of which I still own but never a pair of truly race worthy shades. Cancellara wore a pair of orange Oakley Radars that were cycling bling in the Tour last year. They were obnoxiously bright and as my wife can attest, when it comes to shoes and shades I love obnoxiously bright. The orange would go perfectly with our kit but a teammate bought them before me and I prefer to roll unique. This year Oakley released the Jawbone in Atomic Orange. Matt at Bike Heaven had a pair and hooked me up. This is true cycling bling. Now if only Sidi would make some orange and white shoes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

FF Week 3

My fortunes are finally starting to turn in fantasy football. I had my first winning week of the season going 3-1. Maurice Jones-Drew was fantastic winning my friends league for me. One of the experiment leagues I won because my opponent scored an amazingly low 24 points. I didn't know that was possible while starting players at every position. Finally my work league went down to the last minutes of Monday Night Football but I managed to squeak out a win by 6 points. Bye weeks start and injuries are in full force (Frank Gore, LT, and Marion Barber). I've thrown out a few trade offers this week so we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Yesterday my teammate Crazy UPS invited me out to Fredericksburg to do their Tuesday night ride. I put the bike and bag of equipment in the car, snuck out of work and hauled up to the 'Burg. The ride started at 6:00 and the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was a small crowd consisting of Crazy UPS, The Playboy, a rider in a Mellow Johnny's jersey, and M.

We took off and the pace was intense very quickly. About 5 miles out we approached a small power climb, I pulled up to the climb and Crazy UPS came around to end my pull and upped the pace as he went by. I quickly started going backwards which was the first sign I didn't have the best legs. We all struggled up after Crazy UPS and the Playboy jumped out of the saddle and passed him right at the crest of the hill letting out a "whoop" as he went by. After the short burst of intensity, the Playboy sat up to see if M would get back on and Crazy UPS and Mellow Johnny's decided to see how real that "whoop" was and took off leaving the Playboy to chase. I quickly jumped on partly because it was fun and partly because I had no clue where I was. We hammered down Jung Rd till we reached 290 and then sat up for the Playboy. The Playboy caught back on after absolutely burying himself, his face red with a mix of anger and exertion. He didn't slow down and quickly and continuously tried to punish our attempt to leave him with vicious attacks. I tried to counter one and got a gap before quickly remembering I had no clue where I was going and being off the front alone wasn't the best idea. The attacking and chasing continued till about the 22 mile mark when the road went up and my body decided to give in to the cramps that had been hinting at joining the party. I have never had cramps that bad and watched Crazy UPS, the Playboy, and Mellow Johnny's disappear. The last 8 miles were solo and a lot slower. I was able to enjoy the beautiful country that surrounds the 'Burg.

This was another in series of great rides over the past two weeks that are renewing my love for being on the bike. The guys are planning for States and while I'm very happy with my decision to forgo the 66 miles of brutal racing, I can't wait for cross season and the quirkiness it entails. I love the bike once again....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

FF Update

It's Two Post Thursday!!!!

A quick fantasy football update. Another 1-3 week last week. I won in my friends league and lost in all the others. Tom Brady is absolutely killing me. Willie Parker, what a disappointment. Mad ups to Frank Gore!!

I love this stuff........

World Champion Again

Fabian Cancellara showed his greatness in Mendrisio Switzerland today absolutely crushing the field. After passing on the UCI World TT Championship last year after the Olympics, Cancellara returned to claim his title in dominating fashion. His next closest competitor was a massive 1:27 behind him and Cancellara sat up and celebrated before the line. Absolutely owning the race!!!

Saturday Cancellara competes in the UCI World Road Race Championship and tries to become the first rider to ever do the double and win both in the same year.

What a beast......

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Not Bike Related

Cycling is a fringe sport that is a melting pot of society. It lacks the stereotypical jock element of most popular sports. It's not uncommon to be racing with guys from all walks of life that have no commonality other than cycling. One thing that separates me from most of my two wheel brethren is my love for football. I have found very few cyclist that care about football much less love it the way I do.

The NFL season started last weekend and with it Fantasy Football. Fantasy Football is a game in which you and the other contestants in the league draft players at the beginning of the year and then complete "lineups" each week. Each week you are matched up against another contestant and the score is based on the stats of the players in the "lineup". Last year was the first time I had played Fantasy Football. I finished 2nd in my league and love it so much I am playing in 4 leagues this year. 2 leagues that are friend/coworker leagues which I really want to win and two other leagues that I'm in simply to have fun. The weeks leading up to the season create so much anticipation it's amazing that it can actually live up to it.

Week 1 came and went with all the highs(not many) and lows(more than I'd like) of a Fantasy Football weekend and I am 1-3. I won my match-up in my coworkers league but lost in my friends league and my two other leagues. Now its time to search for great free agents and tinker endlessly with lineups in anticipation of next week. Have I mentioned that I love football?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sweet, Sweet Weather!!

Work has been very busy and required me to run some errands that need a car. Combine this with the rain and I haven't been on the bike in 8 days.

I woke up this morning happy to be commuting once again and enjoyed a beautiful cool 70 degree weather. It felt wonderful to be on the bike again. The ride home was under a perfectly clear sunny sky, about 90 degrees with a light wind out of the north. Factoring in the heat index it was 15-20 degrees cooler than it was a couple of weeks ago.

I can't say I've forgiven this summer but the anger has subsided. C'mon fall!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Mount Rushmore of One

There is a man who has been instrumental in the growth cyclocross in the US and is now the unofficial "spokesman" for the sport. He's coined "hup, hup, buttercup" and writes one of the best blogs out there. He is none other than Greg Keller. The one and only author of the MUDandCOWBELLS blog. He is the standard of blogging by which I measure myself and someday I hope to have the impact on cycling that he has had on cross.

Keller, you are the man!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

On The Road Again....

Recently, I've lacked motivation to train for road racing with cyclocross on the horizon. However, a road race in nearby ATX with 4 other teammates was too tempting to pass up. So I headed up this morning to see what the legs had to offer. It was a strong cast for a flattish course. The Pilot, Skillz-Skelley, The Hall Monitor, and El Wonder Nino. I went in attempting my best homage to the great domestique skills of Jens Voigt.

We lined up to race and after a dry summer of minimal racing, the skies threatened rain. I quickly ran back to the car and traded the carbon wheels for the aluminum tubies. We lined up and light rain ensued. I looked over at Skillz-Skelley and we agreed to go from the beginning to avoid the mayhem of riding in a pack in the rain. The race starts and we immediately take off and try to string out the field and keep ourselves out of trouble. There was a crash 3 miles in that we later found out involved the Hall Monitor who displayed some nice skills staying up but did break a spoke in the front wheel and was unable to get back on.

The next 10 miles settles into a routine of Skillz-Skelley, The Pilot and myself attacking and patrolling the front of the field hoping to soften up the rest of the strong riders. After the first lap the field is smaller and it settles down through the first half of the second lap. Skillz-Skelley and I continue to push the pace on the rollers and my lack of road riding is rearing its ugly head. My recovery is slower and I drift into the back of the field. I worked my way back to the front just in time for some attacks. Velossimo with their new Tri phenom move to the front and attempt two hard attacks which we cover the first one and I find myself covering the second one. After Velossimo sit up I'm at the front again. I pull off and drift back to try to recover. Waiting for the legs to come back...... still waiting..... hmm, still no legs and I'm off the back. I watch the field disappear. Sorry Jens.

Hoping it's enough I roll in the last quarter of the race with another rider. A lonely finish to the race. Unfortunately, we were without any top 10 results with El Wonder Nino putting in the best finish despite spinning out in junior gears. I'll definitely be out for States to support the team again and hopefully this was the spark I need to have some decent training to come in with some form. Having teammates makes racing truly special and we have a great group of guys. Good luck though out the rest of the weekend!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fall.....& CycloX are coming!!!

The heat here in Texas has been oppressive. As of 2 weeks ago we had 57 days over 100 degrees in this fair city. I heard that the average is about 12-15 days per summer. I already complain about the heat by end of July every summer so to say this year has been rough would be an understatement.

I'm desperately awaiting fall and the cooler temperatures it brings. To help convince myself that cooler temperatures are on the way and since I'm finding it harder and harder to motivate myself to train for these last 3 road races I have, I'm turning to cyclocross. What is cyclocross you may ask? It is a crazy winter sport that is huge in Europe and is fast gaining popularity here in the US. Here is a short video to help give you a little more background.

Well, during most of the year (mid January-September), my cross bike functions as my commuter. So yesterday, in a desperate effort to convince myself that fall is just around the corner; I took off my Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tires (best commuting tires ever).

Commuting Wheels

And put on the knobbies.....still with dirt from last year on them.

Now they're Cyclocross Wheels!!!!

Today, I enjoyed a day off of work and took my Van Dessel Hole Shot out to explore the Salado Creek Greenbelt. Sorry, iPhone photos aren't the same quality....

Hopping on the Greenbelt at 1604 and riding it to 281 for the first time I have to say it is very rideable on a cross bike with only a few parts that required some dismount and carry practice. A good trail that I would definately ride again. It was great to get out and explore and work on my trail riding skills which are seriously lacking. Falls coming....I know it!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

State TTT - The Sequel

Sorry for the lack of pictures but Sunday was an early start and my beautiful wife was still fast asleep when I left for another day of pain.

After the State TT on Saturday, I was back at the scene of the crime for a 7:42 start for the Team TT on Sunday. I rode in the Cat 3 TTT with the following roster; Mr. CycloX, SuperLegs, and The Pilot. The Pilot, like myself, had done the individual TT Saturday so both of us had serious questions about how much we had left in our legs but thankfully Mr. CycloX and SuperLegs had skipped the individual TT and were fresh.

After a discombobulated team warm-up,Mr. CycloX and I were the only members there when our team was called to the start line. SuperLegs showed up with about 30 seconds till our start and The Pilot came in about 10 seconds before the start after a last second nature call. We were given the go and SuperLegs immediately drilled it and the rest of us scrambled desperately to get to his wheel. SuperLegs let off and glanced back to make sure we were all there and then decided to drill it again. Finally, SuperLegs decided he was done and we began to settle into a nice rotation. About half way through the "out" leg, it was becoming apparent that The Pilot was feeling the prior day's effort and his pulls became shorter and he even skipped a pull or two. SuperLegs also backed it off and even allowed the speed to drop slightly during his pulls which was okay as long as he lived up to his moniker and pulled hard coming back. My legs felt better than expected and I finished our "out" leg with pull at the halfway point getting us through the turn around and back up to speed.

The leg back started with the eventual winners catching and passing us soon after the turn around. My turn to pull came right after they passed us and I ramped it up to match their pace. Soon afterwards I hear Mr. CycloX announce that SuperLegs had come off the back. I backed off the pace and waited for SuperLegs to rejoin us. We went through another rotation and when SuperLegs came to the front he pulled hard again. He announced the end of his pull with a loud bang accompanied by a giant mushroom cloud and came detached for the second and final time. Unfortunately, SuperLegs didn't have his legs on that day.

The time is taken on the third rider from our team so it was imperative not to lose anyone else. Mr. CycloX, The Pilot and I continued our rotations and my legs continued their good sensations so I continued to share the majority of the work with Mr. CycloX. The headwinds picked up on the way back so the pulls became increasingly painful. With about 4 miles to go Mr. CycloX began to feel the effort of the day but The Pilot miraculously found his legs. Mr. Pilot made two very strong pulls before I led out the sprint at the end for a 57:05 which was 9th; 3:10 off the winning time. It was a great ride and fantastic group of guys to fly the colors with. Time to give the TT bike a two week rest before I get back on it and work on becoming more slippery and powerful. Let the tweaking begin......

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

State TT

Special thanks to my beautiful wife who joined me and chronicled the day with some great digital celluloid.

It's amazing how your body knows when you are going to race. You wake up feeling different on race days. It as if you body "prepares" itself for the ensuing adrenaline and pain.

I woke up early (4:40 am) as the adrenaline started pumping. Slowly at first but threatening to overtake me. It requires focus not to peak and crash before you arrive at the race. The ritualistic preparation ensues after we arrive in Castroville about 7.

After I had taped and pinned up my race number and prepped the tubies to 140 psi; the mind and body screamed to be unleashed so my wife and I rode the two miles from the registration to the start.

The start Willis had created was unique in that it was a steep ramp that was quite difficult to walk up in cycling shoes.

Riders went off every 30 seconds so from the time the rider in front goes off, you have 30 seconds to climb the ramp, mount your bike, and clip in both shoes. Apparently I wasn't quick enough because by the time I was on the platform the race referee told me I had 15 seconds. I quickly jumped on the bike and tried to clip in my right foot. Missed on the first two tries..... "10 seconds" states the referee. I clip in the right foot and try to get the left foot in as the referee counts down from 5.

You can see in the photo the referee is at 3 seconds and I'm still trying to get my left foot in.

I get clipped in just as she says "go" and power off without even starting my Garmin.

No distance, time, or average speed info to use for pacing. My legs felt good but lacked that extra spark that makes great performances. About 2/3s on the way out I feel the wind pick up at my back. This means the return portion of the TT is going to be extra painful. I turn around and head back in and began the struggle against the wind and the pain. With about 3 miles to go my legs are absolutely screaming at me and everything in my body wants to stop fighting and get out of the aero tuck. My teammate Kurt who is a TT master (and current 45-49 State Champ!!) says that if by the end of the TT you don't hate the bike so much you want get off and hurl it across the road you haven't gone hard enough. I was there but I made it to the finish using everything I had in me. Its rewarding just to know you couldn't have given it any more.

I don't know if pictures can accurately depict the relief and exhaustion you feel after you cross the line. The ride was good enough for a 59:16 which was 5th on the day. 1 goal met, 1 goal missed. Something to aim for next year. Time to start training.

Sunday TTT report to follow.