Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dallas CX

So we've got three races coming up this weekend in Dallas. That is about the only good reason I can think of to head more than a few miles east of I-35.

Friday night Bryan Fawley (aka - Fort Worth CX Race Weekend Dominator) has an event at the usually TNX location. Heard it is good but never been there. Read all about the flyover in the txbra.org cx forums section. Even have some video links if you want a visual.

Saturday and Sunday are more traditional daytime races. Should be fun, weather looks to be nice Saturday and maybe some rain on Sunday. Imagine that, a muddy Texas CX event.

Speaking of which, I went and got my cross bike nice and dirty this past weekend. The end of the week rain did a nice job soaking everything. The gravel Trinity River Trails were pretty spongy and downright sloppy in spots. Saturday saw me return home looking like a downright proper cyclocrosser, covered head to toe in mud spatters. And that is always so much fun to clean. At least it wasn't cold. I like my misery in smaller doses.

Enough of this, I have a nice bottle of Saint Arnold Amber Ale and a dirty bike that need attention. Both should do just fine prepping me for the holiday weekend.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whats this?

Is that actually cold air? No, but it certainly is cooler than anything felt in a while. May actually have to wear warmers AND some sort of undergarment/vest tomorrow night. Wow...hard times upon us now.

Back in the college days in the northeast I would be wearing shorts and a long sleeved t-shirt to class in this stuff. Amazing how (de?)acclimated I have become.

So now it is cool and dark. Could be a whole lot worse. If it isn't sleeting/snowing then I won't complain. That stuff is fun a few times a year, then it just is annoying and highly demotivating.

I think this year I get smart and get fenders.

Heard these are supposed to be pretty good. I can easily see them paying for themselves in no time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November = Cyclocross fun = pain/suffering



Last weekend was the big hootenanny in Fort Worth.

Saturday was the Broken Films Z Boaz race and Sunday brought on the Thinkcash Trinity Park premier race. (premier by txbra.org standards that is)

Both were excellent races, in my somewhat biased and mostly humble opinion.

Both brough a different flavor. Boaz was slower, muddier, and a little more technical. Trinity was fast and flowing, with one fairly technical section and a lot of grass and a dragstrip start/finish.

Both brought beer. Fat Tire and Blue Moon Saturday and local favorite Rahr on Sunday. I made sure to partake of a few.

And both DEFINITELY brought on the pain.

I raced both days and had a blast, as it seems several others did as well.

RTP has a good writeup and some video, so check it out here

Unfortunately I didn't see Steve A for a chance to say howdy, but as is apparent from the above, he had a great time.

The weather was nice and while the wind was strong it was actually nice for Saturday as it kept the circus freakshow mosquitoes at bay.

The only downside is I had a freak mechanical which caused me to crash and burn hard on Saturday, losing a few spots without time to regain. I wasn't in the lead group so I was already out of the money, literally and figuratively, so not a big deal except that I have some pretty sore spots on my body a week later, and a few points seem suspiciously slow to feel at all better. Have to keep an eye on these things and be a little careful not to go down and possibly make matters way worse.

Ah yes, the fun of cross.

Sunday went better, had a solid race, good finish and managed to miss every crash that happened in front, beside and behind me.

If you were there, you saw a good time. If not, you missed a good time and also the domination that was Bryan Fawley on Saturday and ultimately, Sunday. That dude is fast on the cross bike. damn fast.

I think he is a major player in the races next weekend in Dallas.
Three, countem, THREE big days (actually two big days and a big night) of cx joy, pain and happiness in the city east of FtW. check it out here

The only thing missing from the cross season so far is Euro-cross style weather. Personally, I am fine with that. Kills me to be racing in 70 degree weather in November. Now if I can kick this cold that snuck into me promptly after finishing last Sunday...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Z Boaz Park

Wednesday was the last cx practice session at Z Boaz Park before we lose the daylight for the year.

The guys promoting the Broken Films Cross race (November 7th, 2009 - Be There!)have been using this to scope out the park and determine the course layout. Apparently this area was used for some races years back.

With all of the recent rain, anyone around here who has walked across natural ground can testify that the soil is waterlogged. We probably need a good week of dry weather to really get it dried out. There are sections along the low lying areas of the Trinity River that have been holding water for about the last two weeks.
Point is...Boaz, despit all of the water, seems to have drained quite nicely.

Practice race took us through a good mix of grass and dirt, with a bit of a technical mud section to negotiate. The muddy section was in what amounts to a ditch which appears to be a small dry creekbed...although it had about 4 inches of mud in some sections. It wasn't too hard to ride if you were solo and could hit it at your own desired speed. Having to slow behind other riders was killer, as many had to dismount and run through the mud or up the slick bank out of the ditch. If someone in front of you bailed, you were probably stuck too, as there isn't a lot of room to move around. It added a good natural obstacle and actually allowed our cyclocross bikes to get muddy.

We rode about 30 minutes at simulated race pace and it was good. There seemed to be a good mix of abilities, probably 15+ people riding. Good times.

There was a stiff breeze but it wasn't enough to keep the big, aggressive mosquitoes at bay.

This race should be good. If you like cyclocross, want to see if you might and live even remotely close, then you should come. There will be another race in Trinity Park the following day to top off what should be a great weekend of cyclocross action in Ft. Worth. I am stoked. My legs will be crispy on November 9th. At least I hope.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday

Beautiful fall day, more in line with what I expected of fall in north Texas. Of course we were inundated Sunday night through Monday, so the ground remains saturated and the river high, limiting ride options.

I stuck with the cx bike and gravel trails along the Trinity, then jumped over to the Overton Park area to ride up and down some hills. Ledgeview...Ranchview....Altura...Sarita. Certainly can get the heart thumping. Seemed like a lot of people out enjoying the day.

Maybe they also feel the cold breath of winter breathing down their necks and realize they better take advantage of these nice days while we have them. Especially when you consider it seems to rain about every third day.

So I had a nice ride, came home, was treated to Kow Pad (Thai fried rice) for dinner, enjoyed a Shiner Bock with it....just can't complain.

Of course, then I found a letter from the county tax assessor for my previous county. Seems they think I should still be paying taxes on property I don't own. Hmmmm. I would think this should be easy to resolve, but experience tells me that these types of things can often involve plenty of red tape. I foresee numerous phone calls, emails and faxes. I'll put my money on a resolution sometime around December. Optimistically.

Hey, if by chance you are reading this and are a Fort Worth local in need of some bike related junk, check out Colonel's Bikes by TCU. They are having their "Monster Sale" right now and have some things pretty well discounted.
http://www.colonelsbikes.blogspot.com/ has the details.

Lots of clothing down 40%. I have used Craft products and they are nice. And expensive. I probably wouldn't have purchased any except one of the Craft exhibitors at Interbike apparently thought I was somebody of some value and gave me a bunch of discount cards, good for 60% off anything. I couldn't resist that, so JT and I loaded up. And the stuff has done it's job. We were like kids in a candy store figuring out what to buy. Or maybe more like college kids with their first credit card?

Ok, enough promoting for now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

October flying

So the month is basically over. Just like that. Time flies.

After the state RR I was knocked out by a wicked infection which required a course of antibiotics I am only now completing. This really threw my cycling schedule off, as I was prepared to launch half-heartedly into cyclocross season. Au contraire.

Finally feeling better I emerged over the last week and got back out on the bike for some serious riding aimed at this CX business. The positive part is I didn't miss much, as the rainfall here has been pretty regular. Seems that it is cloudy and damp more often than not. Perfect for CX, but a pain if you don't like cleaning your bike constantly, and feel like your lungs and legs are filled with mercury.

I did get out for some fun riding this past weekend, and was surprised to see that even after a few days without rain (tapered off Thursday a.m.) the Trinity was still flowing heavy. Usually within a day of heavy rain it is back to normal.
This past Saturday, a solid two days after any rain, the low water crossings were still...uncrossable. Unless you felt like wading in a swift current. Which I certainly did not. So I stayed west of the river on Saturday.

Went back out Sunday and it looked the same.



No dice. No problem. Headed back up and took the northwest trail. Nice because I could stay on grass/gravel/dirt as much as desired.
Putting the respectable southerly wind to my back was nice, and I flew north along the gravel, just enjoying the ride.

Finally found a crossing that was manageable on the upper NW end of the Trinity trail system.











Eventually had to turn back and headed back SE, towards the downtown...into the wind. The day had turned nice and the look of fall certainly is beginning to show.











The NW trail is really quite nice, quiet, usually only see a handful of people. At times it is hard to believe you are within a few miles of one of the 20 biggest cities in the country. At times it is in your face, but even then, for the most part, it isn't too bad.













Of course, any larger city is prone to the scourge of urban graffiti.
Witness the Lancaster overpass, Foch Street.














Some is a little less creative...



But still made me laugh.

Yes, Sunday was a good day...didn't even have to use my AK.

State Road Race

Pretty wild that it has been almost a month since I last pecked on this ragline.

October has really flown by. The first two weeks were spent in preparation for the Texas State Road Race, held in Killeen, TX. I had hopes that the course may offer a bit of advantage with more climbing than typical for a TX race, and this was hyped as such.

So I prepared, as I do. Some pseudo-serious training, mainly involving throwing myself at what climbs could be utilized with the rapidly shortening daylight after work, and pushing the amount of time spent in those heart rate zones where the body starts to question what the hell you are trying to accomplish.

The forecast of the race was looking good, with some sun and cooler than average but not cold temps. As could be predicted now with the benefit of hindsight, race day dawned with a light drizzle in areas, no sun for sure, and chilly temps.
The course was on the Fort Hood military base, which provided a closed road. This was welcomed with the field approaching 100.
I arrived, registered, got dressed, got cold, checked the bike, headed to the start. We started under dismal gray skies with a few sprinkles. The roads were dry which was a good thing of course. Immediately I found my computer was not registering speed. I worked on adjusting the sensor without success, eventually giving up. This was a bit of a worry as I would now not be able to mark the mileage and determine where key points would be on the second lap of the ~33 mile course. So it goes.
We raced, hit the climbs which, while definitely testing, were nothing really termendous. Certainly not going to shatter the field on the first lap, but probably going to shake things up on the second as legs became tired. I sat in for the first half and moved up after we went through the start finish, as one of the bigger climbs was only about 4 or 5 miles into the loop. I moved up, took a comfortable place near the front and things started to get hot. The first big climb was really a series of two, kind of a long stair step, with the initial step being shorter and steeper. As predicted, the strong guys hit the gas on the climb, just enough to try and put the hurt on those less adept at this type of terrain. It began to work and after a few miles of varying degrees on incline, there were certainly fewer riders inthe main field. We descended from our elevation gain and promptly ground to a halt on a long straight flat stretch. Seems the Pro/1 field had experienced a pretty serious crash. Several people limped around and at least one was loaded into an ambulance. Our race was neutralized for ~15 minutes. Long enough for dropped riders to rejoin, and long enough for the north breeze to cool us down. No complaints from me though, better than being in an ambulance because of a bloody bike race.

We restarted and proceded, en masse for the remainder of the race. With everyone well rested it was pretty much a foregone conclusion the race was going to end in a big sprint. Not enough challenging terrain left to break things up, not enough mileage to have a chance and a breakaway being left go...wonderful.

Not being a sprinter, I decided to try and keep up front in the event something may go, which it did not. The last big climb did split the field and I got a good scare when I couldn't get through a slower group and watched a lead group of about 20 begin to pull away. I made it through and busted my ass to bridge up, only to have the pace drop and the field come together. Oh well. We approached the finish, the field accelerated, some guys went down...the usual. My goal at this point is to make it through, skin and bones intact. I kept in decent position and made a good guess that the field would shift to the right side of the road as last ditch attacks went, which would leave the left (and leeward) side more open. This happened, I moved up some, scrambled around people as they popped, all the while ready to pull the plug and sit up to avoid the dreaded sprint finish crash. I chose well, avoided the crashes and cruised through in the low teens. Out of the money, in the points (which is worth...basically nothing) and most importantly, flesh safely sealed.

I later found out the last 8 or so miles were riddled with small crashes as the riders jockeyed for position for the finish, muscles fatigued and judgements became clouded. This made me all the more satisfied with what I would have considered the ultimate let down finish going into this race.

It was about this time I started really noticing the sore spot in my jaw, a dark harbinger of the hellish week to come.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Random thoughts on a Wednesday

So the weekend was nice. Short but hard/steady ride Saturday, and a longer, not really intended to be as hard as it turned out to be but glad it was in the end ride on Sunday. Left the legs feeling a little wasted Sunday night.

I plan to do the State Road Race Championship held on Fort Hood weekend after this one upcoming. It is a somewhat hillier course than that of typical Texas courses, at least in my very limited TX racing experience to date. Or so I hope. Flat and fast is not so much my forte. Long day with lots of climbing is more my cup of tea.

"Training" for it is a little more difficult as there is not much to offer locally in excess of 0.5 mile climbs...so intensity is the other way to tackle this. That means long periods at high heart rates. Not exactly riding for the shear joy of it. It is the race that will hopefully be fun. It is certainly a great feeling when you have the ability to stay with the lead group when the selection is made, and not feel like you are hanging on for dear life, which is how the average criterium makes me feel.
So it will be interesting to see how things unfold.

Sunday was warmer than it seems to have been lately, and a steady and sturdy southerly wind (what would Texas be without that?) provided plenty of resistance for the first 20 or so miles. Then a turn to the west, and the much anticipated turn northerly, where the wonderful Texas Tailwind took over, adding mphs to the pace and some respite to the legs.

And then the local assclown in the giant silver pickup truck (complete with big rebel battle flag streaming from a post mounted in the center of the bed) passed and geared appropriately to leave me in a giant black cloud of diesel exhaust. Kelly Road is the location. I actually saw the house he pulled out from and had brief fantasies of paying a visit late at night and sprinkling a few boxes of roofing tacks on the offender's driveway as a return favor. I believe this is the third time I have seen this happen, other times being with some groups in the same vicinity. Ah yes, the joys of road riding in the country!

My good weekend was seriously sombered when I stumbled across news of a cyclist being hit and killed on one of the access roads along I-20 in Willow Park. Again, it turns out. This time there were no apparent mitigating circumstances (apparently the sun being in your eyes releases you from responsible driving?) and the final outcome was a dead man. Father, VP of Lockheed. killed for having tried to enjoy riding his bicycle on a shared road. Also left behind is what appears to be a highly distraught young woman who was driving the car that hit him.
These stories shake me to the core at certain moments. Icy reminder of how fragile we are and how one moment of inattention can have such tragic results. I feel sorry for all involved and my heart truly goes out to the families, while I pray I never have to be involved in something like this on any level. During these days of lessening daylight I think of my friends biking during the dark hours, and hope they stay safe. Put on those lights and be aware, be safe!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Texas CX

I am itching for the CX season to kick off. To a degree. So far I haven't done any real CX practice, so I need to get out and practice those specific skills which can make a surprising difference. Dismount, shoulder, run, mount, ride... maybe through a jump or two in there, or a steep hill. My skillset is ok, I haven't lost ground before and often made a little up, but it could be a lot better. When you see the PROs do it, you realize how weak you are...of course I don't get paid for it. Nor would I want to. That would be a tough way to make a living.

The tentative schedule looks good, although it means a lot of travel. that is one bad thing about 'cross, sometimes spending hours in a car for minutes of racing. Not a complaint for sure, wouldn't want the races to be longer!

The Texas schedule, in it's tentative glory:

Oct. 16 Premier San Antonio -
Oct. 17 Premier San Antonio

Oct. 25 Webberville VC - South Regional

Oct. 31 New Braunfels South Regional

Nov. 7 Ft. Worth CX
Nov. 8 Ft. Worth Moritz CX

Nov. 14 at&t Brain and Spine - Austin, TX
Nov. 15 South Regional NRC- Kyle, TX

Nov. 21 Premier Mirage Dallas -
Nov. 22 Premier Park Place Dallas -

Dec. 5/Premier GCCA
Dec. 6 Premier Bikesport Houston

Dec. 13 Austin South Regional

Jan 9 Houston Woodlands South Regional
Jan 10 Houston Woodlands South Regional

Jan 16 Age-Based State Cyclocross Championships - Pirate Race Productions -Austin (Manor)
Jan17 Premier – State Skills based State Cyclocross Championship -Austin (Manor)

Certainly a nice offering. Hup time...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cyclocross Time

Oh yes, it is also THAT time of year.

Mud and cowbells. Beer chucking hecklers. A start followed by varying degrees of extreme pain until you cross the finish. At least that is what you are hoping for.

I put off getting into this sport for years as I just couldn't see the appeal.

Then I tried it and immediately was hooked.

If you aren't familiar with it, do some Googling. Check out some videos. It is more fun than it looks. These guys are hard men. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIZfGcBcfH4

And on a local note: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skKMZXxOiT8

Oh yeah, it can be the best of times, the worst of times.

Plummet into fall

Last couple weeks have certainly snuffed out the hot summer days pretty effectively, not that I expect to see them gone for the year, but...it did get us well into September.

I love and loathe this time of year. Love comes from the cooler temps and general climate and attitude changes in the world around as the hot summer days shift gears into the back to school mentality. Vacations are done and everyone seems to be "back".

Can be such a great time to ride too. Don't have to worry about becoming a sweat soaked mass of stink from a simple ride.

It is also the beginning of cyclocross season, which in itself is more than ample reason to celebrate, but that should be a separate post perhaps.

The slide into fall also brings an underlying sense of anxiety to me as the days suddenly seem to be getting seriously shorter. I know it is anything but sudden, but each year there always seems to be that point at which I suddenly find myself stuck out in the darkening skies, pumping hard to get home before pitch blackness. It is only a minute or two a day, but it just seems like one week the evenings are still cruising pretty late, then the next I am looking out and saying "where'd the daylight go?". It doesn't truly sneak up on me, I see it coming, but there is always that one ride where I look around and say damn, summer's done.

And that is the basis of the anxiety. Summer is all good. Warm, beaches, bikinis, suntans, riding as late as you care to... And then there is fall, all nice and pleasant except it is like a greek tragedy in which the handshake masks the icy dagger of winter creeping up behind you.

Now, it isn't that Texas winters are so bad, but I do get tired of riding in the dark more often than not.

Those really into training gut it out and ride their trainers or rollers.

Been there, done that. It works but is like a torture. Not what the bike is meant for.
I decide one winter that if I needed to ride then by God, I would ride my bloody bike outside, on the road, where it was meant to be ridden. This has resulted in some frosty experiences in my previous residences, but I almost always felt better for it.

Anyhow...enough on winter, it is close enough, no need to harp on it anymore.

Fall is a great season to enjoy as the road racing season winds down and the MTB and CX seasons kick in, if you are into that.
If you are simply into the joy of riding a bike it is perhaps the best season, or at least neck and neck with spring, in my humble opinion.

I look forward to a little more urban exploration during this period personally. Been in the road race training rut, concentrating on time spent at certain levels of pain and suffering, all the while missing some of the good stuff along the side of the road on the way.

Today sent the message, fall is here. Sure it won't be like this, 60s, maybe 70F for most of the day, but we are going to see more days like that and less of the damnitshot days.

And thankfully the epic rains have passed on after a week+ long slog. And we are still in a drought...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

HH100 recap - part II - the exciting racing part

And we are off. As expected, the initial pace was pretty mellow as expected. Nobody seemed to interested in pushing the pace or attacking this early, and frankly, it seemed like the peleton was a little sleepy. Considering the time, understandably so. We cruise along at about 20 -24 mph for a while, which in a big group on flat roads with no real wind, is pretty easy. Somewhere around 10 or so miles in, the Category 4 pack catches up. They were supposed to start about 5 minutes behind, but I later heard they left a little earlier. The official lets them pass, keeping our group intact until the other group is by. That seemed to wake the group up a little, the pace quickened a bit, and soon we overtook the 4s. Around the 20 mile mark, an attack went clear and 4 guys were off the front. With 80 miles, nobody was concerned, with good reason. Over the next 20 miles they built up about a 2 minute gap, quite manageable, so no reason to be concerned. At 50 miles the gap continued to hang around 2.5 minutes.

The temperatures had warmed and it was really quite comfortable. The wind was fairly light from the north, and with the luxury of a "rolling enclosure", we had the whole road to work with, allowing plenty of room to move around and find the sweet spot. Up until this point I was content to hang out in the middle to back half of the pack of 70 or 80 riders, no point in wasting any energy at this time.

I felt decent for the most part, but there was a nagging tightness around the top of my right hamstring, which had set in early and I attributed to a stiff muscle that needed time to warm up and stretch out. As the miles went on, this didn't happen, and I had some growing concern this could become a problem later in the race when fatigue began to settle in. I tried stretching it out, chaning positions, varying cadence...nothing seemed to help loosen it up. It seemed stable so I figured I would just have to keep an eye on this and see what developed.

With less than 50 miles left, we hit a little wind that put the race into the right gutter, riders strung out single and double file. People jockeyed for position and the pack bunched back up a little more. Things were good, conversation flowed and then something happened and I heard shouts, skidding and the cheap sound of expensive bikes hitting the road right behind me. I glanced back and saw a handful of guys had hit the deck, most likely due to a momentary lack of attention on one person's behalf. It happens like that, and the rest of us continued on.

I began to work my way up front to see what was happening and found that there was a small group of Velo Tec riders working to get a chase going. They worked pretty hard and I jumped in to take a few pulls as well, but it was obvious the majority was still content to sit in and wait. The breakaway gap continued to hang out around 2-3 minutes, and there was a little growing concern as a suddenly long race began to dwindle down, while the gap stayed up.

The efforts came, but it was only a handful of people working together, 2, 3, 4...maybe 5 guys would begin rotating and then it would die at as nobody else chose to pull through. One rider from the COX team out of OK City did his duty, staying at the front and trying to keep the speed from going/staying up. With the lack of overall sincerity in the pack's will the chase, his job was pretty easy. As we started getting down towards 40 miles and less I began to spend a lot of time near the front, pitching in when there appeared to be some serious efforts to pick up the pace, and backing off when it was apparent there was not a lot of help coming in. Despite the lack of a coordinated effort, the time gap had begun to slip back to under 2 minutes, a good sign the pack was accelerating or the breakaway was losing steam. Or, most likely, a little of both.

My hope was there would be a strong counter to the break I could jump into, which looked slightly possible as numerous attempts to get off the front began to start. I took a few jumps with a couple different riders but we never really got anywhere, as the pack was quick to counter any moves. The finish was a flat, multi cornered affair in the middle of downtown wichita falls--not a good type of finish for me--so I planned to try everything possible to avoid that. If it meant leaving it all out a few miles from the finish, then so be it.
As the miles quickly dropped, the break was looking like it would come back, time gaps struggling to stay at 90 seconds now.

Then the 4s showed back up, motivated by a larger breakaway they had been chasing for some time. The two groups swapped positions a couple times, and the race officials seemed to struggle a bit with determining how to manage the situation. At one point our field was neutralized and right as this happened an opportunistic rider jumped away and was left to go by the officials much to the dismay of many at the front. He would eventually come back, but it was a worrisome sign that things could be deteriorating. For several miles we essentially rode along as one big mass, us in the right lane, and the 4s inthe left lane. Eventually the 4s began to blend in with the front of our group. At this point a couple of us at the front agreed we needed to get out of this situation, so we upped the pace significantly and passed the 4s. In the confusion of it all, it appeared we had managed to split the peleton and were left with a group of maybe 15. We hit the gas and attempted to build the gap and chase down the break. This was about the best situation I could hope for, but the hope was soon dashed as the rest of our field pulled back up. They had realized the potential danger and quickly ramped it up before it slipped away.

Back together we rolled on. The breakaway had apparently come apart during this time and there was now only one guy away off the front, or at least thats what I believe was the case. Another rider had gotten away and was attempting to bridge up... I think. At times we could see the lead vehicle with the dangling carrot that was the remains of the day's break. With maybe 20 miles left, it wouldn't stick now. Too many miles, not enough support, and the pack would be juiced to start positioning for the finish. Or so it seemed. With the break so close, things may have been just a bit too lazy. Here came the pesky 4s again, actually trying to race hard! They pulled along side and the officials apparently fearing the whole mass would finish simultaneously, made the decision to neutralize our field and allow the 4s to move up the road and chase down there break, or whatever was left for them to chase...maybe just the finish.
At this point there we have about 15 miles to go, but we are neutralized. Rolling along at maybe 20 mph. We did this for several minutes to allow enough of a gap to build up so we wouldn't possibly combine with the 4s at the finish. This would indeed have been chaotic. Problem is, now our once manageable breakaway was free to build up the gap. Minutes went by. I chatted with one of the moto-refs, asking what the plan exactly was, at which point he filled me in on the details. So it goes. Game Set Match. Kudos to the guy from Cox who spent the whole day at the front and got that last little bit of luck which allowed him to stay away. He deserved the win as much as anyone in my opinion. Certainly worked hard or harder than anyone. Now we could only watch it all fade away...

Finally we were released to fight for the remaining podium scraps. As the last miles wore down and we entered town I stayed at the front, often eating way more wind than desired, but desparate to be in position for anything that might go and happen to stick. The charges came, one here, two there...but by now the pack, as it so often seems, wanted nothing but a mad sprint charge to the finish. And it would be. I spent my last remaining bullets trying to go with a few Quixotic lunges, but nothing stuck, and as we entered the last miles, a sudden surge left me with no other options but to sit up and sit in. Main goal now, stay out of trouble. The speed ramped up, we crested a ramp, dropped onto the downtown streets and final shots were fired. I cruised in as the real sprinters charged. Past a couple bodies that didn't fare so well and were cast aside to spend their last minutes surveying the damage to bike and body. No thanks. Sit up and soft pedal in, somewhere in the middle of the pack I presumed. Which was ok with me. cross the finish with all skin in tact. That is a small victory in itself, one I gladly accept. Roll up to a tent where volunteers are handing out water bottles. Nice COLD water. Down one in the shade along the street as I watch the others straggle in who had not been able to keep the pace the final few miles. Water gone I get a second and sip on that. Way better than warm brothy sport drink for sure. Chat with a few others I know from Fort Worth. Begin to the hear the stories flow. Hear of a bad crash that took one local girl down in a nasty spill. Silently wish her the best.
After enjoying a few minutes off the bike I roll down to the wheel truck and collect my spares. Glance at the computer and see we did the 100 miles in a little over 4 hours, averaging a little over 24 mph. Not too bad. Now time to go clean up. I roll off to find some others and see how they have done. I hear a shower is likely and relish the thought as I head out.

Not a bad day, and it isn't even noon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

(N)Hotter n Hell - arrival...part I

HHH. HH100. Hotter n Hell 100. Has a couple different monikers amongst those familiar with it. I hadn't heard of it until this year, but as a recent transplant to the area, was advised it was one of those things I should definitely hit at least once. Taking that advice, I signed up for the epic event, known for it's blistering heat and peloton shredding crosswinds.

The event is divided into a multi-day festival of sorts, centered around Wichita Falls' MPEC, a convention center/arena type facility. There were crits on Friday and Sunday, with Saturday being the Big Day, featuring the HHH rides and USCF road races. Rides varied from around 25 miles up to the whole 100. The USCF races ranged between 50 or so and 100. I would be doing a 100 mile race.

Arrive late Friday night and head to the MPEC to sign in and pick up my numbers/race packet. It is a major mob scene. I knew the event drew a lot of people but was still a little taken back by the numbers. Registeration/check in was open until 10pm on Friday, I arrived with a little time to spare. Packet pickup was a breeze once I found the location, which was about half way around the perimeter of the MPEC bldg. The main interior area was set up with numerous vendors selling all the bike junk one could need, and then some. I did a quick cruise through, picked up my t-shirt and noticed several people carrying around beers. This seemed like a good idea, so I sought out the beer vendor. I got there just in time to see them loading the kegs on to a golf cart. Closed for the night. So much for that good idea.

Next up, food search. I bailed out of the MPEC and figured I could grab something nearby on my way to the crash pad for the night. This didn't work out too well either, and the best I could find was a super sketchy convenience store several blocks away, and definitely off the beaten path. Bars covered every glass panel. A weary looking crew diligently feed cash into some sort of video slot/poker machines lining the right side of the store. Good nutrition was not going to be coming from this place, and I was resigned to a dinner of energy bars and other delicious "power" food I figured. They did have a cooler full of beer, so at least I good slake my thirst for a cold one. I selected my drink while a couple bemoaned the fact that there was no more Colt .45, and they were going to have to settle for the Cobra or Hurricane 40 0z., can't remember which. It was low grade stuff for sure.

Hit the register, pay for my stuff and hit the crash house. I was the last to arrive and there were a lot of people spending the night. Fortunately a couple guys had reserved a love seat for me, so I was set. Not going to be stretching out much but then I had spent many a college night with similar accomodations so I wasn't too worried. Besides, I would be getting up in a matter of hours to hit the 7:50 start. Sleep came easy after a late feast on leftover pasta and breadsticks I was able to scrounge up, and the alarm sounded way to soon. I still felt pretty good for the early waking, especially considering I am not the morning type.

I loaded up the bike with 2 large bottles and stuck 2 more in my jersey, along with a pile of Gu gels and the parachute 200 mg caffeine pill under the leg of my shorts. I planned on taking a water bottle or two in one of the neutral feeds as well.

We rolled out, toting our spare wheels for the wheel truck. I usually don't bother, figuring once you flat you are generally out of the race, so might as well just fix the flat and then crawl home. For this event, with the longer distance I figured the spare wheels may be worth it regardless. Long day wouldn't be too fun fixing flats. Dumped the wheels at the truck and lined up.

A front had moved through the previous day and it brought unusually cool temps and nearly no wind. Temps were in the mid 60s at the start.

We rolled out with little ceremony. It was dark enough that I debated wearing my sunglasses initially...opted for them and then we were rolling...

more to follow, this is taking longer than I expected and I need to hit the sack. Hey, its only about a month later anyway, so no need to rush I figure.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An August Tuesday

Starting to show the signs that we are headed away from my favorite solstice. Cruising back from an evening ride at it was looking kind of dark shortly after 8 tonight. Some high clouds from storms off to the west added to the lack of lighting. On one hand it means some of the most pleasant days of the year are yet to come, but then it also means shorter days, eventually colder weather and all of those things which see how much you really want to ride a bike.

It also means cyclocross is coming up...oh yeah...good times. How much pain can you put into an hour.

Tonight was a training ride, more specifically hills. I kicked it off in style by scarfing down a slice of pizza when I got home from work. Ham and pineapple, a personal favorite. Couldn't wait until later as it was nice and fresh. About 30 minutes in I wondered if this would be one of those events I would look back upon in awe of my own stupidity. Fortunately things stayed settled and all was good. Good reminder that I need to use my brain a little more regularly. It tasted wonderful upon my return. The simple pleasures in life...

Completely unrelated, tonight is the Perseid meteor shower. Always kind of cool, if you want to stay up and watch it. Don't know that things are too favorable here, some clouds, fullish moon...don't think it will be in my plan.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August

...already. Amazing how time seems to go by faster as I get older. Guess I am not exactly discovering any new, just experiencing it first hand.

July seems like it was over practically after it started. Seems like it was just the nice, long 4th weekend.

Since then I have ridden a little less and worked on running a little more. Trying to get some balance back in the legs and body overall. Realized that the race training was doing a lot of good for certain muscle groups but leaving others sorely undergunned compared with their cycling centered neighbors. this accounted (quite likely) for some less than enjoyable weeks. I think I have pulled it back together, but we shall see...

I also hit a bit of a personal rut. Last couple weeks I felt tired, sore...more than expected maybe. I countered by reducing my workload and changing a few things up. One thing I noticed in particularly was that it seemed to take me a long time to get warmed up and comfortable for the Training Rides. Looking deeper I realized my sleep pattern is certainly not great and I haven't been doing myself any favors by getting 6 hours a night. Blabbing on some blog at midnight sure isn't a good way to help that either I suppose...oh well, weekend almost here and nothing special on deck. It is a work in progress for sure.

I continue to watch a mother/youngster turkey pair by the Trinity River Trail. So nice to see true wildlife in the confines of the city. FtW has impressed me with it's overall design, plenty of greenspace around for a larger city.

In the less-than-fun category, my all purpose bike continues to let me know it needs attention.
Replaced the BB last week after a superb lifespan. Gave it a good overall cleaning, inspired by the recent road bike overhaul. Promptly afterward I got The Creak. The mystery creak. I checked the usuals and found nothing out of line until I finally deduced it was the drive side pedal. I have an old set of SPDs on currently and this one was in need of a cleaning and lube it turns out. That done the bike is upgraded to "fair" condition, which means it is business as usual for store runs etc. Always a good thing.

So much excitement, I need to get some sleep.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Running and Real Ale

Those are two components of this Monday evening. Running first. Trying to work that back into my life despite my body's frequent and seemingly well founded objections.

Later a trip to Central Market due to the request of a certain prominent female. I spent way too much time in the beer aisle and eventually bought a pack of Real Ale's Rio Blanco Pale Ale http://www.realalebrewing.com/beer_styles.php to go with a variety of food purchased from the CM Deli, one of her favorite stop-offs.

I liked it just fine, she found it to be s0-so. I think a bottle of this would get higher marks from her in January. My labrador retriever was intrigued, which is generally a good sign. Dog knows her beer it seems. Open a bottle of something decent and she is instantly inquisitive, looking to see if it will be shared.

The weekend provided some nice riding including the always enjoyable Kelly Road loop. A small group of us ventured out and did the clockwise version--through the parks by Lake Benbrook, across and out McDaniel Road, up Kelly and then onto Aledo and back into FW.
http://www.mapmyride.com/ride/united-states/tx/fort-worth/297029748
Low traffic, some pleasant scenary and terrain as challenging as you wish to make it. Good way to spend a few hours for sure.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday

And nothing really special. Went for a nice evening ride, headed south down the Trinity River Trail and saw and interesting site at the river crossing by Highway 183, where the trail jumps over to Bellaire Drive. These coordinates will get you there, or plug them into google maps for an exciting satellite view if you feel intrigued.(32.697480, -97.421715)
Apparently the water found an alternate route downstream. Instead of going through the chute engineered into the concrete dam/crossing it appears to have worked a channel under the dam, or at least below the spillway. End result is a big stinky mudflat for the bulk of the upstream side, with a nice little whirlpool feeding down through the channel. There was a Danger sign posted stating one should not swim or wade, that maintenance is underway. Not sure about the maintenance, but it won't take a sign to discourage me from trying to cool off in that slop. Reminded me of low tide in the salt marshes in the summer.
Wish I would have had a camera to snap a shot of that.

Rest of the evening was less exciting, just hot and dry, nice southerly wind blowing...groundhog day ala Fort Worth Summer 2009.
I rode around a while then hit the hills around the Overton Park neighborhoods for the training part of the ride. Like that area. Nice little short steep hills guaranteed to jack up the heart rate if desired. Low traffic, plenty of shade from the big trees...always a nice loop to roll through. After that, back up Park Hill, down Rogers Road (another little section I love) and back across the river to head home for some cold water and a cold beer.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Talk about a different time...but I'll take the heat over the snow just about any day.


Little recap, what did today bring at me...





Tour de France excitement, sort of... http://www.velonews.com/


Contador putting a little move in? Part of the ochestrated plan? Who knows. I don't think Astana would have been real excited to have the Yellow on this early. Bet the boys in blue would love defending that through all of the stages in the Pyrenees and Alps. Definitely interesting to see how it unfolds. Astana 1-2-3 podium in Paris? Who cares?





Heat. http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/hdfForecast?query=Fort+Worth%2C+TX&searchType=WEATHER


At least the reported air quality wasn't too bad.


I went out and ran just to mix things up for a change. Gotta try and keep some balance with the muscles, or at least try. It was short and left me soaked.





Bike stuff: http://www.raydobbins.com/paramount/index


Got one of these stashed away, my first "real" road bike. Got it from a guy I worked with, actually too big for me. Nice steel lugged frame. Interestingly my fork is painted but appears to have a polished chrome fork under the paint, have to look into that and see what the deal is. I know the fork is original. Maybe they just had them all polished and painted some? Long ago I almost stripped the paint since there were a lot of chips already, now glad I didn't.





WNC Controversy: http://www.txbra.org/forum3/index.asp?page=loader&forumID=15


(under WNC B race, not sure how to link it exactly)


Glad I get the pleasure of avoiding that mayhem. Seems the B's have the most issues. Maybe due to having the biggest numbers? Hmmm...statistics at work? Could be.


Regardless, it is for fun. Hate to see the promoter dealing with a lot of trivial (in my opinion of course!) issues. Not like there is big money or prestige on the line. Its a training race and supposed to be fun, and the area is fortunate to have something like this and others over in Dallastown.



Weekend has launched. Cheers!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

WNC fun

Wednesday Night Crit time. Headed out to the Resource Center/Complex or whatever it's official nameis for a little training crit time.

I got a late start, got there with enough time to spin a couple laps in an attempt to warm up and get ready for the high pace to shortly ensue.

Warming up in a thermal context was no problem as temps. had reached a comfortable 100+ level. Fortunately a nice southerly wind kicked in to add some cooling. (insert sarcasm into the preceding)
A t-storm blew up of to the northeast and cruised by to the east, providing nothing but some good gusts, at most.

Promoter Andy Hollinger announced they would offer a prime on every lap tonight. Oh, great I think, that should allow some time for me to warm up in the first few laps of the race, as crits are always pretty slow to start and the primes will surely help keep the group cohesive. (insert heavier sarcasm here)

In perfect compliance with Murphy's Law, the race started fast, really fast, or so my legs told me. I settled in to hide from the wind and survive until the system settled into a groove and the pace dropped. Or so I thought. About 3 or so laps in I find myself at third or fourth wheel into a strong headwind. Pace kicks up, I shift into a heavier gear accordingly. Or my hands go through the motion but the bike doesn't respond. I fiddle the shifter a little, finally clicking in another gear--and again with no response. At this point I am turning some serious RPMs to try and keep the pace but a gap is starting to open up between my front wheel and the rear wheel in front, where the blessed draft zone awaits. Not good. I shift again, and maybe again. This time there is a response, in the form of a double or triple shift. I bottom out as the rpms drop precipitiously and try shifting into a bigger cog to ease off and get nothing. Seeing the gap beginning to stretch I do the only thing I can and pull off before I gap off the group behind me, drift to the back and slowly drift further...off...the...back.... My heart rate is high at this point from the last roller coaster of a minute, and I finally get into an acceptable gear and try to get back on, but the wind is in my face and the gap is quickly stretching. Soon after I begin to blow up and realize that, horrors of horrors, I have been dropped like a cigarette butt. And I am not getting back on. Pull off and decided that my fate is sealed, so might as well try and adjust the cable tension to see if that can help work out the sudden shifting dilema, then jump back in for a nice time trial session. I twist the barrel adjuster a bit after giving the cable a solid tug and the shifting seems fine of course. Hop back out and begin to cruise. After a few slow solo laps I see the pack closing in from behind, so I slow further, get lapped and jump back, solidifying my position out of contention. Spend the rest of the race cruising slower then accelerating for each prime as we hit the start/finish. The same thing ensues lap after remaining lap until I watch the race end from the back of the pack. Cruise around another lap or two to cool down, pack the bike and head home.

Not exactly a susccesful evening but still fun, as it should be. It should be noted that the shifting on my bike was essentially flawless the rest of the night.

So Wednesday is in the bag, thankfully, roaring failure that it was. Still got a good ride in either way, which is what matters in the end.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Holiday recap

The fourth of July (long) weekend was good. I did a lot of riding with a lot of different people in a few different places. Consistently different.

Of note, a trip--my first--down to what is apparently considered the northern edge of the Texas Hill Country. Granbury Texas, more specifically. Spent a few hours with some other riders in the know, cruising through the beautiful hills southwest of Granbury. Definitely more vertical variation than found in the FtW vicinity. We rode around several roads whose names I don't recall, dealing with a steady wind that helped add a little more difficulty to the rises encountered. Of course it was hot too.

The roads were generally empty and the ride enjoyable. I can see that from the road race training perspective, a solid day in this country could be a very good thing, so I may have to make a trip or two back down with that goal in mind. Whatever the reason, I look forward to going back, and would certainly recommend it. Only downside is, unless you want to do some serious mileage cramming, it requires driving. So it goes sometimes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Not so hot, plus a little time behind the pulpit

Nice little changeup today, temps actually struggled to reach 90, if they even did. Rain in the area and the clouds that go with it helped keep things cool, and a nice northerly wind was a change from the Mexican furnace blast we have seen the past week.

So I hit a nice ride tonight, did some "serious" training (meaning I didn't just go ride around for a couple hours) to try and strengthen a few of the many weaknesses, and generally had a good time of it.

One thing I noticed that irked me. Lots of others out riding tonight. That is a good thing. Bad thing is that of the 20+ people I encountered on bikes at intersections with a STOP sign, I was the only one to actually abide. So whats up with that? For all the griping I hear about cyclists wanting to share the road and having to tolerate idiot auto drivers I would think a few more people might actually follow the rules of the road.

It is a bad sign when I appear to be the most law abiding one out there. Don't get me wrong, I know the temptation, but really, is it that hard to stop? No. What, you don't want to lose momentum? If you are that lazy then maybe you shouldn't ride a bike, or perhaps you need to ride it a lot more to gain the strength for the stop and go riding required in a city. Is it really going to disrupt your training plan that much? Are you really that good that it matters?

Hey, don't want to stop, thats your call. But don't even think about complaining about other's driving/cycling/jogging etc. If for no other reason, perception should drive us to obey the laws on the road, much as I hate the perception-is-reality point of view. We are our own worst enemies I think sometimes. don't go expecting a lot of respect from the rest of the world if we are perceived as road users who don't feel we need to share the road, obey traffic laws, not litter etc. Too bad I have seen this all to often from my brothers of the bike. And lets face it, it is a hobby. A sport. We do it for fun. Not too many of us have gotten paid for riding a bike. I know the money I have spent on this hobby far surpasses my winnings to date.

So here is my idea, lets lose the self riteous "I am on a bike and therefore own the road" attitude, ya bunch of asshats.

Ok, enough ranting. I really did have a nice ride. And I even stopped at every stop sign.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hot.


This is what weather.com was reporting upon my return from a 2.5 hr ride. Didn't really need a website to tell me this. I ran out of water about 30 minutes out and was suffering before that really. Heading out on the road at noon is not a great idea, and the heat got to me today. The amount of salt on my face was impressive. I rode hard as was the plan, and got the goosebumps a few times, a good warning not to mess around too much.
I checked my weight and figured I lost at least 6-7 pounds of water weight over the course of the ride. It was still fun, all things considered. And there weren't a lot of people out so I had the roads and trails basically to myself as an added bonus.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thursday - VO2 Max Test
Friday - 10 minutes at 70% Threshold followed by a 25k TT
Saturday - 75 miles of nice tempo type pace road riding.

After 3 consecutive days of doing absolutely nothing this was a rather abrupt change.
I think my legs found it to be borderline cruel. Definitely proved to me that the "day before" spin to loosen things up is a good idea. I have often wondered how much benefit a 60-90 minute low intensity ride the day before a race actually yields. Based on this past week I am less skeptical. 3 days off and then the VO2 max test left my legs feeling a little shattered.
Going to have to try not and let that happen again.

Monday, May 4th was nice. Tempo-ish 35 miles in coolish temps, not much wind...helped shake things out a little more and leave me ready for the Wednesday night crit tomorrow, which I have decided I won't be doing after all. I need to give the bike some TLC and at nearly midnight, I should be getting stuff ready rather than tikking around with this stuff. Gonna have to chalk this one off, get a nice solo ride in, and look to next week. Exciting stuff here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

So this weekend is in the bag and I got to mix things up a bit and actually ride my bike.

Over the past 3 weeks I have spent the majority of my time on stationary bikes at Texas Christian University. I volunteered to be part of a trial studying the affects of a high intensity training regimen on a couple different factors--VO2 Max, Lactate Threshold, blood pH buffering...maybe a couple other things that escape me, more on that when the results are in.

I was one of the people selected for the intervention group (yeah, there is probably a joke in there somewhere) which meant I was subjected to laboratory torture sessions 3x a week for two weeks. Sandwiched between a pair of VO2 max/25k TT/Threshold days, I have lived about 3 weeks of not much more than high intensity training. Sundays were the off days when I could go out for the long, slow ride, usually into a 2o+ mph headwind for the entire duration, or so it seemed.

At this point I have entered the final two week period of normal endurance training, so I made up for lost time and spent Saturday and Sunday on the road, as it should be. It was good. Weather started a little cool and wet Saturday but steadily improved, and miraculously, the wind managed to stay below tropical storm force the entire time.

In about a week and a half I will return for the final round of testing, at which point I'll start to get results...I'll share in some form.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I am pretty much digging FtW so far, really surpassed my expectations in many ways.
One area it manages to underachieve in a major way is water quality, and by quality, I mean the ability to palate the tap water.

Now, I have lived in a number of different areas with varying flavors of drinking water, and FtW by far, head and shoulders above the rest, is the worst. Seriously, I feel kind of bad giving it to my dogs.

It was definitely a hate at first sip type of thing. In fact, I knew something was up because I could smell it first. Kind of an earthy odor, which was a fortunate warning and prompted a small test sip, and a quick liquid reversal. Stuff was awful. And it isn't getting better with time. I have resorted to buying the gallon bottles until I get the filter installed on my sink (which is another annoying story in itself I won't even waste bytes on).

I looked into it a bit and didn't find much other than the actual quality is considered decent. I assume by quality they don't actually mean consuming it of course. Nothing in it that will make you sick, just the flavor of a nice mud puddle.

Thats about what it tastes like, all exageration aside. In fact, to get a good idea what it is like, imagine taking some fresh potting soil then filling a dirty gym sock with it. Now filter some regular, generally flavorless, water through it. I suspect the resultant flavor would be comparable. I have been forced to drink it in desperation a few times and it really bothered me, and I am generally not too picky about that type of stuff. Basically, as long as it doesn't make me sick, I am usually good to go. Not so here, guess that image is contradicted. I tried covering it with some powdered gatorade to no avail. Tasted like gatorade mixed in a moldy old cooler.

I hate to rip on FtW's water, but I am just calling it like I taste it. Judging by the quantity of bottle water sold (or lack on store shelves) I venture to guess my fellow compadres also find this stuff offensive.

If by any chance you happen across this and have any idea why this stuff tastes like a mouthful of liquid loam, please leave a comment, I would love to know, almost to the point of a note to the local water company...but then that would take up precious time I have already wasted on another blob of blog. Cheers, and bottoms up!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So it has been a while since posting anything, sorry to both of you who actually read this stuff to see what I have been up to since the move.

Weather has been nice and I have been riding, not writing junk on the internet. That said, time for some writing on the internet.

Today was nice. Front blew through and it rained about 12 drops this morning, then cleared out bringing clear skies and a shift in the wind. Yesterday it was roaring out of the southerly directions, 15-25 mph, with gusts 40+ according to the local weather sites.
Being the smart one I am, I decided to ride in that nonesense. I headed out into the wind down the Trinity River Trail. This slogfest went on for about 10 miles before I decided I would seek some shelter on the roads in the neighborhoods south of TCU, Westcliff, Overton Park etc. This did afford some shelter and I could actually make progress in the southerly direction at times. This area has some nice small climbs rising from the tributary that runs through Overton Park and into the Clear Fork. Nothing more than a couple tenths of a mile, but some steepness nonetheless. So I rode up and down some of these roads for a while...Ranch View, Sarita, Altura...I think I may make a hill repeat type training loop in this area, hit all of these hills in succession and repeat. That could add up over a while and leave the legs nice and heavy no doubt. There is little traffic which is a bonus.
After hitting this for a bit the setting sun prodded me to head back towards the TRT and venture home. Having a decent tailwind now I put my head down and cruised back, at one point almost getting blown over when encountering a ricochet wind off a building next to the path. It was like someone hit me with a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Luckily earth-body contact was avoided and a safe trip was completed.

Today, as stated, was nice. Temps were in the low 70s, maybe upper 60s when I headed out, with the wind coming out of the N/NW at a gentle 10-15 mph. I spent about 90 or so minutes cruising, hit some of the same hills as yesterday as I started to put together a potential training route, and had a generally nice time. The big negative was the major insect hatch in full effect along the Trinity River Trail. Major swarms of something, didn't get a good look which is incredible considering I probably hit about 214,000 of the things, about a third of which stuck to various parts of my body. I felt like a human flypaper. at one point I spent about a half mile trying not to inhale the damn things by attempting to breathe the the gap in my front teeth. This was not very effective. Good thing those things don't bite otherwise there would have been some walkers that were way more miserable than me.

In other random observations, I saw a group of about 20 to 30 riding back along Bellaire, looked pretty casual overall. Nice to see group rides going on, gotta get into a few of those here soon myself. Ok, enough excitement for one night.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday brought the much hyped and anticipated ice storm.
Good day to enjoy indoors, unpacking and drinking beer. Who says an ice storm is a bad thing. And by noon it was clear, sunny and warm. Welcome to Texas indeed. Bipolar weather it seems.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuessday the 27th of January.
Rise sore and unmotivated thanks to Monday's round of meet-the-pavement-dumbass.
Elbow - sore, bruised but ok. Shoulder - fine. Neck - stiff. Back - sore. Overall? Fine.
Day dawns gray with freezing rain, sleet forecasted. Good day to get on with the rest of the unpacking. Maybe work on the rear der. that is not in the best shape after yesterday.
Sounds like a plan...

Hit it.

So Monday, January 26th will stand out in memory for a while. I ate it in solid fashion today while riding. Been quite a while since that happened, and hopefully much more time before the next one.

It all started shittily (writer's freedom to make up words invoked here) enough. I wanted to get out for about 30 miles, decent tempo, get the blood pumping but nothing crazy type of thing.
Weather was not good. Cool, in low 40s at best, with rain off and on. During an apparent "off" period I suited up and headed out. About 38 seconds in it starts to mist heavily, then gets off the fence and settles in for a steady drizzle. Okay, I got plenty of clothing on and feel fine so I'll gut it out for a while until either a) it gets really nasty b) I get sick of it or c) mission accomplished.
Option C was the winner, sort of...

I headed out with the plan to just ride the Trinity River trails, since that is all I have ridden to date and wasn't really up for scoping out anything new on this day, just trying to get some exercise and work on regain some semblance of fitness. As could have been predicted, the trails were basically empty, proving I am either very dedicated or very stupid. Or a combo of both. Most likely the latter. Head south, enjoy a general tailwind, turn around and grit into the spitting wind for a while. Head through Trinity Park and up the West Fork trail, hit the 20 mile mark and turn around now that the clothing is getting saturated and the cold is winning. Winning in a big way. Time to call it a day and put this one in the books.
Head through Heritage Park (I think) on the west side. Cruising along nicely around 20-21 mph with the help of a cross-tailwind. Heading towards the White Settlement overpass ( I think) and note the path has three poles coming out of the ground, one in the middle and one on each side. there is a nice pool of water directly beyond, and as I get closely I opt to completely go around the whole part by going wide right, around the right post. The area under the overpass is all paved so this doesn't present any speed scrubbing potential and seems like a fine and slightly dryer option. Except there is a cable strung about 18 inches above the ground from the post on the right side of the path over to another somewher under the overpass.
It is gloomy, my glasses are covered in water droplets, I am cold and ready to be done with it at this point. I spot the cable in just enough time to realize the looming disaster, then hit it.
I may have slightly crabbed the front wheel right before impact, but unlike some crashes, this one did not allow time for me to try and choose my fate. More like: OHSHIT-SMACK-SLAM-SKID. Which is about what I did. There was a shout of some sort, probably involving surprised profanity as I impacted. I think it was a pseudo superman into a roll across my right shoulder with a splendid impact to my right elbow. There was plenty of skidding noted audibly as I dismounted as well.

Now, when I crash I usually do the hop-right-up-and-checkyourself routine, making sure nothing is too seriously damaged. Immediatly I felt a sharp pain in my elbow, which was the biggest concern. Picked myself up doing the usual inspection and made up for any lack of profanity up to the point. Elbow hurts. Shoulder feels a little funny but not too bad. No clothing tears and no feelings of road rash blooming, which concerns me. Not that I like the rash, but at least that usually indicates some of the energy of the impact was used up over a bit of time, not in one sharp bone/ligament/muscle damaging shot. I hobble around for a bit checking things out, and mostly, surprisingly, everything is checking out ok. My right arm is aching and the grip is not feeling really solid, but not anything that has me too concerned now. Check out the bike, it looks ok, from what I can tell. Right shifter maybe shoved over a bit, but nothing major. Look around and try and determine just what the hell that cable is for, can't figure it out, and at this point don't care to, just want to get home and out of wet clothes. Gingerly get back on and shuffle on down the trail. Right side is not great and grip is an issue, but part of it is just the cold I think. half mile later I try and shift into a bigger cog and find the rear derailleur wants to go into the spokes. great. head home and call it a day. Inspect the damage and find the helmet is clean, so no head impact, although the neck feels a bit whipped. Elbow has a nice bruise with a giant blood blister acting as the cherry on top, but that is about it. No ER visits. Good. Get over it and into a hot shower. Bike stowed away dirty and dinged, deal with that later.
Gotta pay more attention, that is for sure.
At least the trails were empty and I didn't make a big spectacle for everyone's entertainment.
On the flip side, I wish a friend had seen it to at least provide commentary.
Think Tuesday is a good day to take off now, especially with the impending ice storm. Definitley not feeling it right now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Scoping out the neighborhood

So the unpacking is put aside for the moment, time to get out and meet the neighborhood.

My neighborhood consists of a chunk of land that, to the best of my comprehension, lays either in the section of Fort Worth known as the "Cultural District" (and those that know me would find great humor in this) or else on the border between the CD and the Downtown area. Basically, I live next to the Trinity River, which will likely become the spine for many a ride.

The organizers of FW have created a nice system of paths that run along the banks of the West Fork of the Trinity River, advertised as something around 40 miles. This is a good thing.
Having always lived in the more suburban areas, riding has usually been a little easier, at least from a road biking perspective. Typically I have been able to get out into lower traffic back country roads within 10-20 mins. Living inside the center of a large city is generally not the best for a road cyclist. Lots of cars and narrow lanes on roads that often appear to be of the consistency of cobblestones are not the safest environments for some schmuck on a bicycle.
This was an initial concern with Fort Worth. The Trinity River trails appeared to be the answer for my concerns, as they span a large part of the city and should provide excellent access for escaping out of the confines of the perimeter into the more rural roads. This should also provide access to some topography, which was another concern, since Fort Worth is basically flat. I don't really like flat. The rolling country is outside of the perimeter.
So, with the TR trails ( http://www.trinitytrails.org/ ) only a minute away, I determined this would be my first area to explore.

The cyclocross bike was picked for the maiden voyage. Two main reasons for this were the versatility, and more importantly, it is the bike I have been riding almost exclusively this winter, so I know it is up to the task, despite being in need of some cleaning.

I hit the trail at the point where Lancaster crosses the Trinity River and headed south into a nice headwind. Apparently it is windy a lot here. With temps in the 70s, there was a good mix out enjoying the paths, but traffic really wasn't an issue and my speed was dictated more by a combo of fitness and headwind. I mixed it up, spending time on the paved sections and the crushed limestone, both running a close parallel. Once I hit a little over 7 miles, I hit what appeared to be the end. I consulted a map and decided that this was a good turning point although there was a little more southerly path available if I crossed the river via the overpass. Turned it around and enjoyed the tailwind back through the starting point and continued up and then took the northwest trail continuing up the West Fork towards Lake Worth. There were only a few people on the trail and I opted to spend the bulk of the time on the gravel. Once at the Riverbend Nature area the path crossed the river and due to fading light I opted to turn around. Headed back to Trinity Park to call it a successful day. Ended up with about 28 miles, not too bad for the cx bike, and felt surprisingly good after not riding for close to 2 weeks.

Couple things that impressed me right off include the quality of the paths, users seem to have good respect for each other, and it is flat. There was never a point I needed to stop turning the cranks, unlike the rollercoaster riding I have been used to the past several years. This will definitely be a change of pace for me, but not one I resent. Change keeps life interesting after all, no? And there are some hills to be had, the trails will just be my link to get to them.

Something around 7 to 10 miles up the northwest trail (West Fork) is Lake Worth, and Marion Sanson Park, which contains some mountain bike trails that are pretty decent, from what I hear. This could be a great setup, good warmup/cooldown getting to/from the trails, so I look forward to a trip NW with the mtn. bike one of these days.

So at the end of the day I call it a success, turn in to the new place and as any racer of quality will certainly do, cracked into a nice cold "recovery" drink. Yeah man, it takes dedication. Wish I had a bit more, but then maybe it wouldn't be as fun.

Tomorrow? More of the same.

Arrival...the beginning of it all.

So here I am, settling in to Fort Worth, Texas. Wasn't a place I ever pictured living but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found and things happening the way they do, ended up moving to this place a lot of people call Cowtown. Thats how the new adventure begins.

I have lived in several locales throughout the United States, and done a lot of cycling in just about all of them. Each has presented some difference, as would be expected. Northeast, Southwest, Southeast and now...Texas. And that is the first point of note. Most areas of the U.S. get classified by a region. Texas being what it is, is a region in itself. Not really the southeast, southwest or midwest, but a collision of some of all I suppose. And Texas doesn't like to be lumped in with other states. It is, after all, Texas, and stands separate by itself. With good reason too, I suspect. Now, all states certainly have their unique identities but I think it is safe to say that most have a pretty good preconception of what Texas is all about, and a lot of the stereotypes have already quickly proven to be true. Not in a bad way mind you. Everything is bigger in Texas, and everyone seems to like the place. I have yet to find a friend or associate who has spent any time here that doesn't have largely positive things to say. This, I hope, is a good sign.

So having arrived in the new place, it is time to get things in order. Unpacking.
As anyone who has ever moved can attest, the process of moving is not fun. The excitement of new opportunities and hope is probably what keeps us chugging along, like the settlers who loaded all of their belongings into wagons and undertook the arduous cross country moves so many years before. But I don't want to compare my experience to theirs, as there really are not a lot of similarities. Towards the end I would venture to say I more likely resembled a junky, ranging through the streets, desperately seeking a way to score that next high. Except the junky would have likely been cleaner, smelled better, and had a marginally better disposition.
The big score for me was just getting the last of my belongings moved and unloaded into the new place. While there are still a few loose articles in my cars, I will consider that phase complete.
Now unpacking the actual boxes. Walls of boxes, most of which are not in the actual rooms where they need to go to be unpacked. This process is going slower than expected. Due in part to the feeling that there is now a little time to catch my breath, or my likely due to the inherent procrastinator that wins my internal battles about 71% of the time when the task is not of major importance.
It is Wednesday, January 24th, and the weather is beautiful. Temperatures in the 70s. This is definitely not good weather for unpacking. So the unpacking is going slowly. The key elements are being organized, mainly, vital kitchen and bathroom articles, clothing, and bicycle junk.
This last is critical because the next two days are forecast to be more of the same--sunny, near record high temps...yeah, packing may just have to take a little longer. Some key introductions need to be made, specifically, 700c to Fort Worth pavement type.
The "training", if I could call it that, has taken a serious backburner in the past few weeks, so it is time to start getting things back in order if I want to be competitive anytime in the near future. By near I mean between April and November.
If nothing else, I just really need to get out and ride...