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 ( ) 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...