Monthly Archives: December 2007

LSU Beats Ohio State 23-21 for BCS Champsionship . . .

LSU's Jacob Hester

according to the Whatisports.com game simulation. That’s right, a computer simulation determined that the Tigers triumph over the Buckeyes with a 124 yard, 2 touchdown performance by Jacob Hester.

I don’t think it will be that close. I do think Hester will have a big game (BTW, I also think he will be a solid 3rd down back in the NFL and will open a lot of eyes with a good performance at the NFL Combine). I think the Buckeyes will have a difficult time with our two-quarterback system and team speed (similar to the problems they had with Florida last year).  I’m also expecting one game-breaking play from Trindon Holliday.

My birthday is Jan. 2, but I would gladly take a belated birthday gift in the form of a 3rd Tigers’ National Championship. We’ll find out in 7 days . . .

New Arundel Bike “Bling”

Arundel Dave-O Cage

So Christmas for my bike continues with two new Arundel Dave-O bottle cages. I had some carbon bottle cages on my bike already (the Performance Bike house brand – Forte), but recently they have started to “eject” my bottles (lost a couple bottles crossing railroad tracks). Not a big deal in training, but with the first race of the season just around the corner, it was time to find a solution.
So I decided to upgrade and got a couple new Arundel cages from Fort Worth Cycling. The Dave-O cage is specifically designed to not eject bottles and it looks pretty trick too (the carbon wrap identically matched the wrap on my Kuota Kredo). The other benefit is that Arundel is a local company here in Fort Worth and I ride with the owners (Dave-O and Chris) pretty regularly. Very cool that we have a company here in Fort Worth that is making such progressive cycling gear. My next upgrade just might be one of their seat bags, The Dual, with the grey piping of course ;)

A “Power”ful Christmas

Kuota KredoKuota KredoKuota Kredo

So I got myself a Christmas gift that I have been wanting for a little while now. For those of you that know my bike, you might see the picture above and say, “Ben, you got new wheels for your Kredo”, and that would partially be true. The wheels in this picture are different than my “normal” wheels (Mavic Ksyrium SLs). But if you look really closely at the pic above, you will see something else special about these wheels.

Powertap 2.4 hub

These wheels are laced to a PowerTap SL 2.4 wireless power meter. I’m a pretty analytical guy, so the idea of training with power has always had some appeal for me, so I decided to bite-the-bullet and get a PowerTap. I looked at power meter options – SRM, iBike, etc., but the PowerTap made the most sense. The toughest decision when getting a PowerTap is deciding what type of wheel you are going to lace the hub to. Since I will train and race on my PowerTap, I wanted something durable, but light/aero enough that I wouldn’t feel like it was a hindrance for racing. I found the perfect combination by using a wheelsmith in Florida named Mike Garcia. Make laced my PowerTap to some Niobium 30mm rims with black Sapim CX-Ray spokes (the best spokes you can get).

Mike Garcia built front wheel 

I have 24 spokes in the front (laced radially) and 28 spokes in the rear (laced 2x on both sides). So these wheels will be plenty durable, but amazingly the total weight, (even with the heavier PowerTap hub) came in within 50 grams of the weight of my Ksyriums (plus these wheels are more aero). Mike did a great job on the build and the wheels look/ride awesome. His price was also very competitive and I basically got the whole set for about the same price as what just the rear hub laced to a mavic open pro rim would have cost me buying from anywhere else.

I’m in the process of doing my various power tests now in order to determine my training zones. However, one thing I can already tell you from putting a few rides in on these wheels is this – you are rarely working as hard as you think. The PowerTap really lets me know how often I am “dogging it”. Speed is a horrible measure of effort and I’ve quickly discovered that many of my favorite stretches of road, where I can nail it for 30 mph, I am doing at very low effort (under 200 watts). I’ll keep you posted.

Christmas @ Home

Grant and Dad Xmas Morning

This year was the first time that we didn’t go back to Louisiana for Christmas. With the exception of my Parents (who live in Dallas) and my Sister’s family (who just moved to Forney, TX) the rest of Jess’s and my  extended family live in South Louisiana. We always go home for Christmas, but decided this year to stay home. We want Grant to have the experience of opening his Christmas gifts at home and starting our own family traditions. It worked out great. My Parents and Sister decided to do the same thing. So we went to my parents on Christmas Eve and Grant had a blast opening presents with his cousins.

Then this morning Grant woke us up at 6:30 a.m. to “go see what Santa left”.

 Grant and ambulance Xmas Morning

As you can see from the pic above, Grant was very excited about his ambulance. He loves any type of service-vehicle, ambulances, police cars, helicopters, but especially firetrucks.  Staying home worked out great and made for the most “stress-free” Christmas ever.

Merry Christmas . . . Go Elf Yourself!

Ben Elf Yourself

Many of you have probably already got an email from a friend that “Elf’d Themself”. But if not, I will spread the holiday cheer by giving you mine here.

You can create your own version at http://elfyourself.com.

This is a pretty ingenious promotion that OfficeMax does each year and the site gets millions of visitors every December.

Why are we all fascinated with “train wrecks”?

So the list of the year’s most memorable quotes was just release. #1 on the list was “Don’t tase me, bro”. However, my favorite was #2 – the answer of Miss South Carolina, Lauren Upton, at the Miss America pageant. In case you can’t understand some of her mumbling in the video above, here is the actual quote:

“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us.”

Keep in mind her question was why are one-fifth of Americans are unable to locate the United States on a map. Big props to Mario Lopez (the host and AC Slater from Save by the Bell fame) for not losing his cool and laughing-out-loud. I don’t think I would have been able to control myself.

To Leadville, or not to Leadville?

Leadville 100

Last year I signed up to do the Leadville 100 mountain Bike Race. Each summer Leadville, Colorado, a city rich with mining and Wild West history, is host to a number of challenging endurance events. The town is 10,152 feet above sea level, so endurance events take on the added challenge of dealing with altitude. One of the events, the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, is so popular that racers enter a lottery in January to secure one of the 750 available starting line spots for the August race. The ride starts at 9,200 feet, with the highest point at the famed Columbine Mine aid station at 12,600 feet, and covers over 12,000 feet of climbing over the 100 mile course.

Leadville 100 MTB Under 9 hour buckle 

The goal of Leadville is to get a “buckle”. Racers that finish in under 12 hours get a silver commemorative belt buckle. Those finishing in under 9 hours get a gold & silver buckle. Many consider Leadville the toughest race in the U.S., so these buckles are literally & figuratively “worth their weight in gold”.

But to race, you must win the lotter. The lottery works like this:

  1. You send in your registration and a check for $240 before Jan. 31.
  2. Then sometime in February you are notified if you “got in”
  3. If you do get in, your fee is not returnable and you can’t transfer your entry to anyone else (so you better be committed). 
  4. Preference in the lottery is given to people that have competed in past Leadville’s (with those completing 5 or more times getting a guaranteed spot).

So last year, partially inspired by Bernie’s Leadville story, I sent in my application the first week of January . . . and waited . . . and waited. It seemed like an eternity. I had my training program designed, I had the plans for a new “Leadville-specific” mountain bike ready, I had  travel plans ready . . . and then . .. I didn’t get in. The race received a record number of entries last year, mostly because Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong were rumored to participate (only Landis did, getting 2nd). He was pretty dissapointed and put Leadville out of my mind.

Since then I’ve started racing (on the road), moved up to Cat 4, and joined the Moritz Chevrolet Cycling team. I had totally put Leadville out of my mind. Then I get the postcard above from the Leadville organizers, reminding me to get my registration in. So now I have a dilemma . . . do I register, or not. We’re having a baby in April, so do I think I can really put in the training time needed? Can I juggle a full road racing schedule and prepare for Leadville? Is there anyway I can convince Jess to let me buy another bike? In the end, I think the competitor in me will win-out and I’ll send in my registration, but I’m still on the fence. Anyone want to join me for 9-12 hours of tortuous climbing on steep fire roads at 12,000 feet?