Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend

Well, the "long" weekend is almost over. (I worked a full day on Friday and gave S & T the afternoon off, so it really wasn't a long weekend for me).

Kyle came up for Thanksgiving which is always good. I know the time will come when he doesn't come home for a holiday and I think I'll be OK with that... but I think I still have a couple of years before I have to worry about that.

Thanksgiving dinner was at the brother-by-a-different-mother in-law's and we had a good time. They took care of 99% of the cooking, so that in itself was a treat. I did slave in the kitchen long enough to make a sweet potato casserole, which is oh so difficult. Kyle provided a tart & yummy key lime pie and a scrumptious blackberry cobbler. Main course was... turkey. I'm not a fan of the big white breasted fowl as I prefer dark meat. Mike had fried a turkey and I have to admit it was some of the best turkey I've had (sorry Mom). I don't know if it was because it was fried, that he had injected the breast meat with a marinade, or maybe a bit of both. Between the dinner and way too many desserts, needless to say I overate... a lot. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the football game through the back of my eyelids.

As earlier stated Friday = Work. It was a fairly quiet day and although I didn't get as much done as I should have, it was still a productive day. And... I may have scored a couple of "nice boss" points by sending the girls home after I got back from lunch.

Saturday some of the Ouachita Team in Training guys met us at OCNP for an easy mountain bike ride (our first bike ride since Tucson). It was a nice, slow ride as we took the group for a tour of the trail. Some of the guys got a little too up close and personal with the trail, but that's to be expected of a mountain bike novice.

Kyle took of for Austin and the architecture studio Sunday morning and we went back to OCNP with some of the regular crew. The boys went off on their ride and I did mine. It was an another easy ride day, but not as easy as Saturday was either. Afterwards, Alan and I were both saying that we still feel sluggish. Guess we need a little more time to recover from the last couple of months.

Thanksgiving day and into the weekend is when we start getting ready for Christmas. No - not shopping... decorating. The tree goes up
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and the house gets lit up
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Rotate monitor 90deg CCW... or turn head

MB took this with her cell phone at the Sabino Creek crossing stop
video

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tucson

The final stop in the "this is going to hurt" tour was this past weekend in Tucson, Arizona. My first century - a 109 miles on the bike and my first trip to Tucson, an awesome cycling friendly town.

Oh, to live in a city with signs like this
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and drivers that actually yielded to cyclists!
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Saw this in a parking garage
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When I was taking the picture the owner of the vehicle walked up and said that it was his wife's idea to help find their car in parking lots. It was weird how realistic it looked from a distance.

Oops, I got sidetracked... The trip to Tucson and riding El Tour de Tucson came about because I was adopted by the North Texas Team in Training group that Alan was coaching to do this ride so I became an unofficial member of the team. Almost all of the Team in Training groups (I think there were 25 chapters there with over 400 riders) wear "flair" on their helmets to help identify each chapter. One of the group members once said that they all were soldiers in the battle against leukemia & lymphoma, so our flair was a cool little Army man
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The Tucson ride isn't known for long or hard climbs, but there are two dry river bed crossing that have to be done. Seems like a strange layout for a road rally, but it is what it is.

The ride started at 7 in the morning, but since there were over 8,000 riders Coach Alan wanted us to get there early for good positioning; so it was up before 5am and on the bikes about 5:30 to ride to the start. We were fairly close to the front of our starting group and by 6:30 there was a large crowd behind us. Once again, the Coach made a good call. 7am finally rolled around and the racers were sent off, followed by those that expected to finish within 6 hours and on down the line. Surprisingly I saw two unicyclists start with the fast groups.

I did not set any time/speed goals for the ride, I just wanted to enjoy the ride and finish before dark. We had full two and three lane roads for at least the first five miles of the ride which was nice. Plenty of room for everyone and no cars to worry about. We came to the first dry river crossing at the 7-8 mile point, it was about 50 - 75 yards long and had been graded, so there were soft "shoulders" along the side and then a short climb up the other side to get out (I'm sure we looked like lemmings). My mountain bike sure would have been nice at this point in the ride. Some of our team support people were there and cheering for us by name as we came up the other side. Before long I was hearing "Go Kathy... who ever you are" from the other side of the crowd. There was even a Mariachi band playing for the riders as we came out of the crossing.

I get back on the bike and for some reason can't clip in... go figure, sand in the cleats.

People pass me and I pass people and the miles keep rolling by. At about mile 20-some-odd I see MB, one of our group and catch up to her. We have a good time riding together and the miles keep rolling by. We get to a roller section and MB is having problems with the climbs, so I ride with her and help her get up the ups. We turn a corner and I see a nice long climb, uh oh this does not bode well for MB. I tell her to use those gears and keep her cadence steady and I'll see her at the top. I pull over when I get to the top and wait for MB, soon enough I see her and cheer her up and over. This becomes our pattern. We ride well together, but MB has problems with climbs that are on the route. I either ride with her and coax(harass) her up, or wait and cheer at the top.

Before long (mile 46ish, about 3hr 30min into the ride) we hit the big dry crossing which is over a mile long. It's more than a dry river bed, it's more like a sandy road with a small concrete bridge in the middle which is where a rest stop is located. As we're climbing out of the crossing MB says "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" What? "Thank goodness for nostril hairs!" Now where in the world did that come from??? "Just imagine what it would have been like without nostril hairs?"
Here's someone else's video of the Sabino Creek crossing


This time after getting back on asphalt you not only needed to knock the sand out of the cleats, but you had to take your shoes off to dump out the sand that had accumulated. Once again clipping in took an effort, but soon enough we were rolling again and wandering through a neighborhood to get to the main road.

Once out on the main road we get to one of the steepest climbs on the route. Luckily it wasn't very long, so I sprinted up to the top and waited for MB. Thanks to the sandy cleats, I almost gave everyone a laugh as I almost didn't get unclipped with I came to a stop. MB makes it to the top, which was better than the person that just fell over about 2/3 the way up (at least I was at the top and stopping on purpose before I almost fell over).

**Warning** Read the following at you own risk. It contains feminine bodily functions and is not for the squeamish or those easily grossed out.
After we get going again MB is saying that her leg was cramping a little on the climb. I asked what she was drinking and she said just water, but she had some mix to add. So we pull over and stop so she can get her drink mixed, at this time MB realizes that she has started... early... no necessary items at hand... great... we're on the outskirts of town... 50ish miles into a 109 mile ride... now what? Look, there's some people cheering the riders on. Wait - never mind, the youngest one is about 65. I go ahead and ride over to see if there's a store anywhere close by and they said there's one in town down the road and around the corner... wonderful. MB sends a text to one of the support people and all we can do is hope for a store or that we can be found. We decide to go ahead and start riding and she'll deal with things as they happen. About 1/2 mile up the road is a rest stop. We decide to take the chance and ask around. There was a woman photographer who was able to help out - whew! Irony for the day - the rest stop was sponsored by an Ob/Gyn.

Now that that has been taken care of we can get back to the business at hand and on the road. As we're riding MB says she's doing good and that I can take off if I want. I tell her we'll see what happens at the next stop. We get to a stop about 65 miles in and I decide it's time to stretch out the legs and to finish the ride off.

I have about 40-45 miles to the finish and my legs are feeling good. Since I'm basically starting at the back of the group I spend a lot of the time passing other riders like crazy. Before long I get to a long (about 10 miles) false flat downhill section so it's easy to keep up a fast 20+mph pace. I catch up to a local Team In Training Triathlon coach and we ride together and chat as we cruise along. He pulls off at the next stop we come to as his girlfriend is working at that one. I'm on my own again and just keep the pedals turning, holding a nice quick pace and having fun. I look back at one point and I see that I have a couple of riders sitting on my wheel. I've no problems with that. We get to a climb and at the top I look back again and I've lost my train - hee hee. Soon I'm back in town and heading to the finish line.

I finish the ride, drop my bike off at the truck for shipment back to Dallas and catch the shuttle back to the hotel to clean up. After a shower and change of clothes I go back to the finish line to cheer the rest of the group and all the other riders in.

Official finish time:
PLACE...NAME......SEX..AGE...TIME...MPH
1.....D.SALOMON....M......28...04:20:35.....24.9.(1st finisher)
99....E.ALLAR.........F.......23...04:38:02.....23.4.(1st female)
2854...K.JOHNSON....F.......48...08:11:57.......13.2.(me!)
3155..MB..................F.......40...08:43:43......12.4.(my ride buddy)
3814..R.VILLALBA...M.......41...12:08:40.......8.9.(last finisher)

My computer shows my ride time at 7:44:50 (about 15 minutes of that was at rest stops - I didn't get it stopped every time I did, so I'll guess my actual ride time at about 7hr 30min); average speed as 15.6mph; max speed of 31.1mph; total distance of 108.388 miles.

Oh yeah - remember the unicycles? I don't know if they both finished, but I did see one of them cross the line... WOW!

Promo video for the event:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Scenes from an airplane window

A sea of clouds
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Look elevation change!
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How many circles... and why?
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Desolate
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Roads to and from nowhere
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Some areas are still off limits
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More circles
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and changes of elevation
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A lake no more?
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We're not in Dallas anymore
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

6 hours of Erwin Park

6 hours on the bike is a long time. 6 hours riding a mountain bike with a high temperature of 52, a strong wind from the northwest and on a rooty trail can be miserable. Not that I'm whining or anything... ;~)

From 11:00am until 5:00pm I rode 7 laps for a total of 47.1 miles. I could have gone out for an 8th lap, but every once in a rare while I have a moment of lucidity so I decided that I would wait about 5 minutes before crossing the line and call it a day after 6 hours.

The good news is that although I'm sore & tired I still like my mountain bike!

Me & PJ (with Zoe jumping into the pic) before the race
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Waiting to start
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Oh, there's my bike!
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Solo 48 hour crazy Shaun T at about 31 hours in
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Oh yeah - Congrats to Kyle for completing the Tour das Hugel!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cyclocross can be messy

I choose not to partake in the fun & games last night. Which I'm sure Alan appreciated since that meant he only had to clean up one bike...

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his
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

"The Look"

Today was the Smithville mountain bike race and the 3rd installment of "this is going to hurt". Good news was that it didn't hurt as much as it could have... bad news is that I didn't put in the effort needed to make it hurt. This was the last race of the TMBRA Fall Series and I think my body is ready for a break.

I had a good pre-ride on Saturday and felt good on the trail and afterward. This morning was a different story, I just could not motivate myself for the race. I've had this happen before and usually once the race starts I'm able to get somewhat focused; but not today. My heart rate was high, but my legs just didn't have the umpf needed to turn the pedals... slow and consistent seemed to be all I could muster, at least I didn't blow-up ;~)

There was some special excitement for the weekend as Lance Armstrong... yes that Lance Armstrong... raced today; which led to to larger than normal Pro/Cat1 class. Would he walk away from the normal 'big dogs', or would there be a race? The following is a blatant cut-n-paste steal from someone that was there for all the action:
Well the start was the usual suspects. Lance missed his pedals and his front row call up went to a back row start... He wasted no time getting up to Fawley, Rick, Scott and I. Basically we shed Rick, and the four of us left rode around for about a lap. Both Scott and Bryan put in some pretty good attacks and lance had no problem sitting third wheel. I could tell he was just sizing us up. At one point, towards the end of the first lap, Bryan got a pretty big gap. He probably had 20-30 seconds. I actually don't even know how it happened, but I think he just out-rode us in the rough twisties. Anyways on the run in to the Start /Finish Line you probably have a good 1/2 to 3/4 mile jeep road. When Scott, Lance and I came to this I saw probably one of the most violent attacks on a bike I have ever seen in my life. Lance got his superfly going probably close to 30-35 miles an hour. I got gapped and spun like a hummingbird to keep it close. Everyone somewhat slowed in the feed zone and by the half way point in the Fat Chucks complex I had made it back to the group... but that was short lived. On the last hill on Fat Chucks Lance put in another 'final' kick. He killed it up and all the way to Karaway. In a section that probably takes 2 minutes to do, he got about a 30 second gap. Everyone in our group rode around by ourselves for the rest of the race. He chewed us up and spit us out. Unfortunately for me, Lance's strong point all day was my weakest. In the wide open stuff he went REALLY FAST and only my legs went really fast.

I'd say our local boys did a good job of representing...

Men - Pro/Semi-Pro

Place

Name

Time

Team

1 Lance A
1:52:2.00 Mellow Johnny's
2 (1 - SM) Scott H
1:53:50.00 Trek/VW
3 (1 - PR) Bryan F
1:54:57.00 Park Place Lexus
4 (2 - SM) Mitch C 1:58:41.00 Gary Fisher 29er
5 John C
1:59:27.00 Solar Eclipse
6 (2 - PR) Rick W 1:59:43.00 Solar Eclipse
7 Dan T 2:1:13.00 Beans & Barley
8 (3 - SM) Noel R
2:3:22.00 Bicycle Sport Shop
9 Jimmy C 2:3:34.00 Bike Barn/Gary Fisher/Subaru
10 (4 - SM) Craig K 2:5:34.00 Bicycle Sport Shop


While racing with Lance would not be an option for me, being passed by him was definitely going to happen, and I could only hope that I would at least be able to get my first lap in before it happened. The way I was riding had me thinking that completing the first lap without getting caught was just a pipe dream, but somehow I did manage to at least accomplish that goal.

Spectators were gathering about a mile or so into the course (which was a series of loose gravel/sand climbs) with cameras at the ready to snap a picture of Lance in action. At the top of the second climb there was a good sized group and I told them that I couldn't believe they were all there just for me! That got a laugh from the crowd and a some extra cheering for me.

At the top of the third and last climb I could see another gathering of spectators and soon I could hear them cheering "Go, Lance!". For half a second I thought that maybe they were giving me a hard time, but then I looked behind me and there was Lance and he was closing the gap very quickly. Since I was in the only decent line up the climb I pulled over to clear the way for Lance to pass. As he rode by me he looked over and gave me what I'm claiming was "the Look", or maybe something like "come on, get on your bike and let's go"
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or maybe it was more of a "who is this person in the trail" look... oh well, although I'll never know for sure I'm going to go with "come on, let's go" theory.

Tuesday night may or may not be another round of CX/ST racing and depending upon the weather the 6 hour solo race is still on the calendar for Saturday.

Until then I'm outta here!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cyclocross

is hard.


I look more like this...
except the kids are more graceful that I am.

Looks like fun, huh?

Monday, November 3, 2008

5 weeks of "this is going to hurt"

I didn't think about it until last night, but starting with the Ruston stage race I have 5 weeks of cycling silliness. Which also means that I get to subject my faithful readers (whoever you are) to my adventures on the bike.

October 25 & 26th - The Piney Hills Classic stage race in Ruston, Louisiana. - Check
November 2nd - The Texas Cycling's Sweatin' Burnt Orange Bike Tour - Check
November 9th - The Rocky Hill Roundup - coming this weekend!
November 15th - The Ultracentric Experience 6 hour solo race at Erwin Park - 99% there
November 22nd - El Tour de Tucson with Team in Training - airline tickets have been paid for.

I already whined and dined my way through the Piney Hills Classic stage.

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Now it's time for the Sweatin' Burnt Orange Bike Tour (a fund raiser for the cycling team) which was held in the Texas hill country starting in Blanco (west of Austin). We could have elected to ride the 45 mile route, or even the 60 mile route... but noooo, we decided that the 80 mile route (which was really only 72.8 miles) was more our style.
There was a cut-off time for the longest route, but I didn't think I would really have a problem making the first 30 miles within 2 hours... but it was a goal I could consider not making.

The weather was perfect for the ride, a little crisp in the morning but warming up nicely during the day. It did get a little windy later in the morning, and of course it had to be a head wind.

I started off with the front group, but soon realized that this was not a wise decision if I wanted to complete more than 10 miles, so I moved to the edge and let the fast riders go by and settled into my own little ground eating pace and that was the way it stayed for the rest of the ride.

Living in the "rolling hills" of Dallas, the hill country had a tad more climbing than I was used to. The first killer was by mile 7 with 125+ feet of climbing in less than 1/2 mile, ouch! Surprisingly the climbs is where I would close the gap on riders in front of me.

I made it to the dreaded cut-off rest time with plenty of time to spare (dang it!) and about 10 minutes behind Alan. I grabbed some food, topped off the water and our loving son sent me on my way with a "turn left for the long route!". Off I went to the left, and another climb. I spent the ride enjoying the scenery and cussing the big climbs, but overall having a good time riding my bike. Here and there I would see a rider in the distance, sometimes closing the gap and passing and other times they would continue to ride off into the distance.

This cool little graphic is from my heart rate moniter:
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I know it's hard to read, but the top squiggly red line is my heart rate, which was in the "max" zone for 35% and the "hard" zone for 61% of the ride.
The next dark red line is the altitude... see those two tall spikes? Those were at mile 41 and mile 60, not a nice thing. Minimum altitude was 960' and maximum was 1700'; 3430' of ascension and 3465' of descending. It sure didn't feel like there was more going down hill than what was climbed!
The green squiggly line is my cadence (pedal spin) and the blue one is my speed (average speed of 15.7mph, with a max of 38.4).

I completed the 72.8 miles in 4:40 with a total time out of 5:02ish, so about 20 minutes spent at 4 rest stops. I can live with that.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Want some candy?

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Had a good night of Trick or Treaters, 99% little kids all dressed up. Best costume (sorry, no pic) goes to the front loading washing machine, complete with laundry soap and assorted clothing. His partner in candy looting was the Maytag Repairman. Too cute!!!