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


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. 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.