Monday, March 30, 2009

It wasn't as bad as it looks,

but it still should have been better....

But first an important message from xkcd:"Police reported three dozen cheerful bystanders, yet no one claims to have seen who did it."

Back to our regularly scheduled blog (grab a drank and snack, it's a long one)...
Bluff Creek Ranch aka Warda. A trail that has been in the race series longer than the 10 years we've been riding. In fact, there used to be two races there every year. Warda can elicit a range of emotions from "I love that trail" to "Nope, never going to ride, let alone race, there again." I lean towards the I Love Warda camp. While not a technical trail (yea!) it does still hold some not-yet-conquered challenges for me.

There had been some trail modification/additions recently done at the ranch by our friends Ryan and Susan (S&S Trail Services LLC), so we were looking forward to seeing what had been done.

We left early enough Friday to get in an extra ride, but due to rain earlier in the week the trails were closed to bikes... bummer. Since the route to the hotel went right through the bustling metropolis of Warda, TX and by the ranch, we stopped anyway to visit with the Doc and Damon Nolan.

Saturday's pre-ride found the trails in great condition. The new cut trail was fun, although there were still a couple of sections that I can't get my head around. Kyle says I think too much when I ride and he's right. For some reason I balk when I see some obstacles. I can ride the same type, or harder, obstacle somewhere else with no problems. It makes no sense; but then again, if you know me it makes perfect sense. Anyway, I found my "scheduled dismount" (aka SD) spots for the race.

I also used the pre-ride to test my set up for the Ouachita Challenge. Two bottles on the bike, a CamelBak (which I haven't worn in years), two tubes on the seat post and air cartridges in the saddle bag. I'm sure I looked over-prepared for a 7 mile pre-ride loop.

Sunday morning was chilly, but the wind had died down from the 30+ mph of Saturday.. By time we started the temps were in the mid-60s. It was turning into a nice day. We had 6 in the class and the finish order wasn't going to be hard to guess... Kim was a no brainer for 1st; there was a toss up between Catherine, Lisa G and Tonya for the next spots, then me, and finally Karie (who had not pre-ridden) finishing up the class.

We started with the Junior and the 50+ Women, so there were 12 of us on the line. It was a long run to the single track - luckily no one took off like a wild banshee, so the group stayed fairly close together until the final run into the woods. Trying to avoid a repeat of Waco, when I never seemed to recover, I was towards the back when we hit the woods oh wait - I'm always in the back!, but I wasn't sure who was behind me. A couple of miles in I hear Tonya asking for the pass didn't know she was back there. I was pushing pretty hard at that point, so I let her by and tried to follow her wheel. After a bit I knew I needed to ease up and recover before I blew up on the first lap. Found a steady hard pace and kept it there.

In the middle of the last SD of the lap I hear "Rider Back!" and it's Lisa G what was she doing behind me?!?. I let her by, but end up catching and passing her back up before the end of the lap. Coming up to the end of the lap I spot Tonya up ahead. What's up with that? I had planned to take a bottle between the 1st & 2nd (of 3) laps. But seeing Tonya ahead and the gap closing I kinda forgot about that little detail... my bottle was empty and I was supposed to pick up a fresh one. I come up to the feed zone and Lauren holds out my bottle, I shake my head "no". Good thing she wasn't wearing sunglasses because I saw the puzzled look on her face as she held the bottle out again. Oh sh...oot! Too late to slow down, I come to a stop and drop the empty bottle and take the full one from her. As I start going again I get a push from Zach (thanks!!!) and off I go to catch Tonya... again. I catch back up and just sit on her wheel through the lap. The lead Pro/Cat1 men start catching us, but in most cases it's in a good spot and we can all share the trail.

Coming up to Gas Pass (which contains a SD), I look over my shoulder and see some more of the men coming up. I tell Tonya to pick it up hoping we can get in and out of the section before the guys catch us. She tells me that she goes slow on the downhill part, well so do I - but I don't want to get run over. I sprint past her so she can be the one that the guys have to get around. I time it right, just as I'm past the SD point the lead rider catches me. I let him by, get back on my bike and am clear of the section before the rest catch up. Tonya catches back up and passes me at the Mule Trace SD point, but I'm OK with that since it looks like I'll be able to catch back up without a problem.

Get back on the bike, get on Tonya's wheel as we go through one bermed corner, around the next, then head to a short power climb... sweet... no CRAP! Tonya stops on the climb!!! Double CRAP - I'm stuck at the bottom while she gets off and pushes her bike up; which means that I am also off my bike... grrr. I get to the top and get going again and am Tonya's wheel before we get to PayDirt Bridge (a climb disguised as a wooden suspension bridge). One last killer climb to go. Tonya calls back that she can't clear the climb, I have problems with it too, so I stay were I'm at. I then find out that I can make it further up the climb than she can when she comes to a stop while I'm still climbing... this is quickly becoming a bad dream. This section of trail is on the side of a hill and not very wide, so it's not like I can just ride past her off the trail, especially since she and her bike are across more than half of the trail. I get off my bike and step around her and her bike and hustle up the rest of the climb. My goal for the last lap is to stay in front of Tonya.

Last lap - I'm in 3rd and feeling pretty good. Feel like I'm keeping a steady pace. Not long into it I hear "I'm coming for you Kathy Johnson!" I look across and through the trees and there's Andrew N, chasing me down. So I call out "Come and get me, big boy!" Doesn't take long before he does. He tells me to grab his wheel and he'll show me how to ride single-track. HA! If I could only hang on to it more than 5'.

Getting to the last couple miles of the lap I knew there were two hard climbs to get up and over. The first one is a long wide jeep road climb, and it usually beats me on the third lap. This year was no exception. The last 30' my legs were starting to cramp, so I got off to push up to the top and since the final SD point was around the corner I just kept pushing. As I get up to the top and head to Mule Trace I see Lisa G cresting the climb (at least now I know how she was making time up on me). She asks if I'm OK as she pedals by and I'm still pushing. Grrrr.

The legs are feeling a bit better as I get back on after the last SD point and I head for the berms and power climb. Swing left, swing right and up... no CRAP! I'm is too easy of a gear and spin out... double CRAP! AGAIN Off the bike to get to the top and here comes Tonya, and of course this time she clears the climb. Back on the bike and go chasing... AGAIN I catch up to Tonya a little before PayDirt Bridge and she offers to let me by. I guess she doesn't hear me and we are both approaching the bridge at the same time... too bad there's only room for one and I'm the one that gets squeezed out. Grrr. Off the bike when I shouldn't be, push up and over. At least Tonya is waiting for me instead of just taking off... which is cool. Tonya's in front when we get to that last climb and Tonya stops before I have to, so it's off the bike again. Tonya's apologizing and I'm just "let's go!". Up to the top and hope I have enough to catch her in the last mile. I put my head down and pedal, but the legs just aren't turning the pedals fast enough. The gap between Tonya and I just doesn't seem to change no matter how hard I try to go faster. At the end it's Tonya, then me 8 seconds later.
Place Name Team Time








Lisa G Bikesport/ION



Team Hammerhead



Matrix RBM





At the end of the race I felt like:
So, while I did not have the best race results... I did have a good race.

Next weekend is the Ouachita Challenge.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It was brought to my attention that I am slacking in the blog department as I had not posted anything from the race this past weekend. Besides having a "real job" and being busy after said "real job" the last couple nights, I didn't feel that there was anything worth sharing. I was then informed that I was wrong and needed to correct the situation.

The Good...
The race was at Cameron Park in Waco. A fun trail, but also one that takes it's toll as most climbs are "slow down, turn, now CLIMB!" North Texas has not been getting much rain lately - which allows for a lot of time on the trails, but also leads to dry, dusty trail conditions and Cameron Park had it's share of loose and/or powdery trail. During the week prior to the race the rains came down and down and down. While nothing close to epic proportions, it was enough for the Park Rangers and Race Director to cancel postpone the race by one weekend.

While this change affected some racers that had previous commitments, we were still good to go. The rain soaked into the trail and turned loose and powdery into packed and fast. Come Saturday morning pre-ride time the trail was in excellent condition. By race time the trail would dry out some, but at it's worse would be light-years ahead of where it was before the race.

The Bad...
I met up with Jen, who is getting back into riding/racing after taking a hiatus from the bike. Back in the day I dreamed of being able to ride as well as she does. While I can now out sprint her, she still walks away from me in the technical sections.

We started the pre-ride with me leading and Jen behind, complaining that I was going to fast. That may have been the case, but she wouldn't take me up on the offer to trade places. When I bobbled a climb we ended up trading places and most of the whining ceased. Jen was riding and climbing well... which brought about a new selection of whine "I don't have a good race after I had a good pre-ride and I'm having a good pre-ride so I'm gonna suck tomorrow".

The Ugly...
My "race".

My heart rate monitor download from the race:
The blue squiggly line at the bottom is my speed. For 13.5 miles I averaged 8.9mph with a max speed of 19.1mph (the winner of my class averaged a little over 10mph).

The middle red graph line is altitude. Minimum was at about 220', max was about 370' with a total of 650ish' of ascension in one 6.8 mile lap.

The really ugly is the top squiggly red line... that's my heart rate during the race. The line between the orange bar and the top blue section is my max heart rate of 180bpm. My average was 179bpm and the max was 186bpm.

I was basically red-lining it for 1hr40min. Good thing I'm not a fine tuned sports car, because I would have thrown a rod, blown the engine and left an oil puddle in the middle of the trail.

Jen finished 6 of 12 in her race and 10+ minutes faster than me. That also included her trying to take out a tree with her bar-end and hand, then having to pick herself up off the ground.

Oh well... Warda is this weekend. It's not as demanding of a trail, although it has it's own special challenges that I will have to face.

The weekend after is the Ouachita Challenge. 60 miles in the Ouachita Mountains (Arkansas). The distance is doable. The climbing and technical sections will be tough. Doing it all with in the time limits - there in lies the Challenge.

Oh - final note on Waco...

.....The Beautiful:

..........Kyle had a most awesome race.

...............Congrats to him for the win!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


>blog here<

or, in many more words:

Waco "race" report to come in the near(ish) future.

We appreciate your patience.

That is all. Goodnight.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lovely day for a ride

The Waco TMBRA race was canceled due to 4"+ of rain that fell from Wednesday to Friday prior to race day. Dallas got its own share of well needed rain, so the trails were off limits to us. This meant that the TNT group training ride would be moved to the road, so we joined the Tahoe group ride in Flower Mound.

5am Saturday morning it was raining.

8am Saturday morning looked like this
on our way to go ride.

The rain stayed away and although the clouds never left the roads did dry. The day stayed cool, but since we've been doing a lot of riding this winter I've got the layers figured out for the most part. My toes did turn into numb blocks by the end of the ride. When I changed I found that my socks had gotten wet, so that explained the cold toes.

Saw this on the ride
You can't see it, but the 2nd sign reads "County Maintenance Begins". What does the County have against that little section between the two signs?

Thursday, March 5, 2009



Oh - that's right, I'm supposed to type something meaningful, entertaining or maybe even insightful.

Nope, sorry, I'm all out.

Let's see what I can come up with....

We went from sub-freezing temperatures on Sunday, to the 80s today. Welcome to north Texas.

After some painful headwind enhanced intervals last night I had a good ride with the girls, getting in 20+ miles of dirt. Somewhere I managed to find a little more oomph in my legs and put in a nice mile long sprint towards the finish of the ride.

Today my legs are tired...

wonder why.

Daylight Savings time change is coming on Sunday. As much as I dread "springing forward" and losing an hour of sleep (especially since I'm getting up way too early to help at a road race), it will be nice to have the added hour of daylight after work. Longer evening rides are a plus.

I'm tired.

Good night.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


This is not a pleasant sight on race morning when you have a 9am start.

Watching the car thermometer reading drop as you drive out to the race venue does not help.
At least the wind had calmed down considerably from the 40+mph gusts on Saturday.

Biggest race excitement for me was the start. Since it was so cold I (and a lot of others) decided to forgo the pre-race warm up ride. Mine consisted of pedaling from the car to the port-a-pot to the start line. As such, I did not realize I was in the granny gear. We line up, Jurgen counts us down to the start and off we go. The start is fast downhill sprint and before I know it I'm spun out and going backwards, what the FRENCH??? I look down and realize my problem, but now the chain is crossed (smallest gears front and back); so I have to shift rear cassette, then the front chain ring to get the right gearing. About the time I have all that straightened out all the girls are hitting their brakes and turning... aahhhh - BUT we are not at the end of the start run, yet! It seems that the race leader has seen the ribbons where the finish section crosses the start stretch and she has turned off about 1/4 mile early. Luckily everyone grabs a handful of brakes, makes the turn and follows the leader. Since everyone in the group followed there would not be any penalties or DQs for cutting the course. Our race was just a bit shorter than everyone elses.

Not much else to report about the race. I did finish 3rd of 4 in my group, and 5th of the 8 of us that started together.

Congrats to Kyle for having a good race and putting some of that green paper/cloth stuff in his pocket.
I'm sure once he reclaims his laptop, which was left in my car, he will have a race report of his own posted.

Other excitement on the race front was a friend that trashed his rear-derailleur while riding sweep for younger kid's race.


And on a totally unrelated note...
What do states like Colorado and Wyoming put on their highway overpasses?
A square?