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.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Moment of Truth

So this race season is my second race season but the first season that I came in with experience to make educated goals. After racing last season as a Cat 5 it was time to prove myself with some results as a Cat 4. My goals for 2009 were good overalls in 3 stage/omnium races that contained TTs and a top 5 in the State TT.

The first race was the Alsatian omnium in Castroville. It started with a win in the TT and 7th overall. The second race was the Fayetteville Stage Race. I finished in the pack on the first road stage. Then completely stunk up the TT with the worst TT I have ever had. I lost a lot of time in the area that I normally gain time. Then on the third and final road stage I broke a spoke and DNF'd. The third and final targeted race was an experience in climbing in Fort Davis. I limited my losses on the hill climb stage and then powered to 6th on the TT placing my high in the GC. On the final epic road stage I blew up on the second set of climbs finishing 22nd and had to settle for 16th in the GC.

It has been a mixed bag this year. I stopped racing in May due to the heat and since I'm not a Crit guy started training for the State TT. This is a lot of time to dedicate to this race but its the biggest event on my calendar. I want to top 5 and do a time in the 58:30 time range. Last weekend I did a local TT series and did a 58:30 on the State TT course. Tomorrow, I find out if my legs have the stuff to finish the season with a bang. It's the moment of truth.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


One beautiful thing about bicycles is their simplicity. Admire a $15,000 dollar race machine with its specially crafted carbon fiber tubing made to be aero, stiff, and light. Add to it carbon fiber wheels that are wind tunnel tested to smooth the airflow around them and ceramic bearings to reduce rolling resistance. And finally, add a tiny computer mounted on the bike giving precise real time data on the elevation, power, heart rate, and many other measurements to analyze a rider and the ride. Still, there is a core of simplicity inside all this technology.

I can still take apart a bicycle to its basic pieces. This is ultimately the heart of simplicity. That these pieces can be reassembled with a few tools into a vessel that is powered and controlled by your physical self to reach great speeds and distances. This is what attracts me to more than just the physical benefits of riding and racing. It's the love for the simplicity and fascination with tinkering and improving. It is amazingly satisfying to know you can fix almost any problem you encounter with a bike.

My latest project has been an exploration in simplicity. My fixie. No shifters or derailleurs, it is the essence of simplicity. Its only purpose is to cruise and look sexy. No worries about it being the lightest and fastest. Simply, be sexy and unique. Fixies are a wonderful expression of creativity and individuality. My fixie has gone through 3 phases already and I think it has reached supermodel status, very sexy.

I love track bars. I think they have a great allure to them. First build was with track bars but for an urban cruiser they are extremely impractical. Someday I hope to have a full on track bike which I will mount those sexy bars on.


I then went to bullhorn bars which are extremely fun for a fixie that you cruise around on. I originally set it up in true fixie style without brakes, cool but not practical. Again, this will have to wait for the track bike some day.


Finally, I added brakes and I have to say I love this bike. It is a lot of fun to cruise to the corner store or get together with the guys and ride downtown to find some tiny watering hole. Mad love to Gunnar for their sexy Street Dog steel fixie frame. It is truly simplicity at its best

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Sorry for the lack of timely post. The job has been making significant demands on my time.

Food is an important part of any endurance athlete's life. It is a careful balance of eating the right food to maintain your strength while remaining lean.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I love to eat. However it can be my kryptonite because two of my favorite things are ice cream and all things breakfast. This past weekend I indulged both my weaknesses. There is a local favorite Celito Lindo that serves traditional interior Mexican food and is a breakfast favorite. Delicious but not the most healthy.

a plate of chips with creamy bean sauce, chorizo, cheese, avocado, and a side of eggs.

The other indulgence was homemade ice cream but for more on that visit my wife's blog at