Category Archives: fort worth

I love Fort Worth . . . this weekend find out some of the reasons why

I’ve often had out-of-town visitors to the Think Finance HQ tell me that I should work for the Fort Worth chamber of commerce. After I detail all the reasons I love Fort Worth (the Cultural District, amazing zoo, TCU, Trinity Trails, the Stockyards, Sundance Square,  Texas hospitality,  etc. ) they are often ready to pack their bags and move to Cowtown. This weekend everyone can experience part of why I love Fort Worth so much with Day in the District. This Saturday (Sept. 25, 2010) eight of Fort Worth’s top cultural attractions are offering free admission to exhibits or performances. This includes:

  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art – 
  • Ansel Adams: Eloquent Light
  • Fort Worth Botanic Garden — Public Art Tour
  • Fort Worth Community Arts Center — “Preservation is the Art of the City” & Distinguished Texas Artist Martin Delabano in “An Artful Life”
  • Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (a Cooper family favorite) — Interactive science and history exhibits, including the Fort Worth Children’s Museum and Cattle Raisers Museum.
  • Kimbell Art Museum — Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea
  • Log Cabin Village — Harvest Homecoming (noon-4 pm)
  • Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (another Cooper family favorite) — Vernon Fisher: K-Mart Conceptualism
  • National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame — Discover the world of the cowgirl through memorabilia, interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations

Fort Worth is a great place to raise a family (especially for a cyclist like myself). Right now, I can’t think of any place we would rather be.

Team ThinkCash Cycling Camp

So Kevin D. was nice enough to host a “cycling camp” for Team ThinkCash at his lake house on Lake Texoma this past weekend. It was basically a reward for everyone’s hard work at training and raising money for the TXTough charity ride. For details on the weekend, it’s probably best to read Kevin’s slighly humorous post (including awards for the weekend).

Besides riding, everyone had fun cruising on the ATV, wake boarding, cooking big steaks and just hanging out.

Sunset on Lake Texoma

Sunset on Lake Texoma

The weather was perfect and we spent all of our “downtime” on the deck listening to tunes/college football.

Ironically, the weekend of a “cycling camp” I spent more time in my car than on my bike. I drove to Austin on Thursday for the TechCrunch/Austin Ventures event. Then Friday I drove 4.5 hours from Austin to the lake. On Sunday morning I left the lake to meet Jess and the kiddos at my nephews birthday party in Forney (about 2 hours) then an hour drive home to Fort Worth. Basically, I spent 11 hours driving around Texas this weekend.

However, my payoff for all my driving was well worth it. I got a big hug from Grant and Lauren (more of a sloppy, open-mouth, baby kiss from Lauren) when I met them at Jack’s birthday party. Grant and I had a great time playing Simpsons pinball and Wall-E. Then he and I did a little grocery shopping on the way back at Central Market to give Mom a break. Grant is quite the little foodie and loves going to Central Market. It was the perfect end to a great weekend.

A Father’s Joy

I intended to write a post tonight about my epic bike ride in Santa Barbara on Wednesday. However, something happened this weekend that I have been waiting for a long time – Grant is now riding his “big boy” bike. Let me take you back . . .

I first got into cycling when Grant was almost a year old. In fact, “bike” was his third word after “Daddy” and “Wrigley” (our dog). Grant has also taking a keen interest in helping me maintain my bikes, racing, etc. He loves to put air in the tires, help me change flats and fill my water bottles with Gatorade.

I got Grant a Like-a-Bike at an early age hoping he would really take to it – but he didn’t. Then we got a tricycle – he could care less. Then we got his “big boy” bike with training wheels – the only thing he liked about it was the water bottle holder.

So I’ve never pushed him. I figured he would decide when he was ready, but I would never be the kind of Dad that forces his hobbies/sports on his kids. So needless to say I was thrilled when Grant rode his bike for the first time yesterday. Then today we went riding again and he has already improved and gained more confidence. He was throwing out phrases and cycling terminology I didn’t even know he knew as we pedaled around the cul-de-sac:

“Daddy, I’m going to use my turbo booster”

“Daddy, I’m in the lead”

“Daddy, I’m going to sprint for the finish”

The best part is to see him get so excited. When I asked him if we wanted to go ride today he was so excited that he put his sandals on backwards (notice in pic above).

I wasn’t even on a bike, but that ranks as one of my all-time favorite rides.

Autumn in Texas

Grant and Lauren enjoying the cool weather

Grant and Lauren enjoying the cool weather

We’re entering the time of year when the weather in North Texas is pretty amazing – highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s. It’s actually cool enough now to have fun outside with the kids (not to mention this is perfect cycling weather).

The cooler weather also means that we are entering the “heart” of college football season. Grant and I are both excited and nervous (as evidenced by Grant’s expression in the pic above) to watch our Tigers battle the Auburn Tigers tomorrow night. This will be LSU’s first real test and should give us an indication of how good this team really is.

TXTough Grand Prix criterium and great sushi – a perfect night

Last night I took Team ThinkCash to Dallas for dinner and the TX Tough Grand Prix criterium. This was a reward for everyone’s hard work at training and raising money for a great cause. This was also the first real bike race for most of the team. The course looped around Victory Park and made for an awesome venue.

We got to Dallas early and had dinner at Kenichi - easily the best sushi in Dallas ( I recommend the Blake Roll and the Wild Salmon Goat Cheese). We had a great table at the window that overlooked the race course. So we actually watched the first 15 minutes of the race from our table while we had desert.

The energy at the event was awesome. The crowd was crazy, there was music, all of the giant HD screens in AT&T plaza were showing the race from different corners and the racing was hard and fast. We got so into it that we pooled together $300 and gave it to the announcers to do a “Team ThinkCash” prime with about 10 laps to go. I was actually happy that Texas’s own Patrick McCarty of Garmin-Chipotle won our prime.

Health Blackgrove of Toyota-United took the lead at the 75-minute mark, leading with five laps left and winning a $1,000 prize. He increased his lead in the next three laps to about 15 seconds. The field closed the gap to a few seconds, but then Blackgrove opened it up again and won comfortably.

DFW Big Guns Crozzy and Dave-O in the mix

DFW Big Guns Crozzy and Dave-O in the mix

More than 90 professional and elite amateur (Cat 1/2) riders started the event, but only 36 riders finished the race (I clocked a couple laps where the field was doing 36 mph). It was cool to see some of the local “Texas Big Guns” mixing it up with the pros (it makes the rest of us realize that there is always someone faster).

I really hope this becomes a regular event because it has the potential to be huge – it is hard for words to describe what a great setting that was for a bike race.

Ride Report – 2008 Cowtown Classic

2008 Cowtown Classic Route

2008 Cowtown Classic Route

Saturday I rode in the Cowtown Classic in Crowley, TX. Most of my Moritz teammates were there since this is the only real rally in Fort Worth (technically it starts in Crowley, but it’s close enough). I decided to ride my single speed in order to get in one final, long ride on the SS before I ride it for 112 miles on Sunday (all in the name of charity). The ride was 62 miles, plus I was riding from my house, so it would be 80 miles in the saddle.

Right at the start I noticed a strange bulge in my front tire, so I pulled over at the first rest area (mile 10) and my front tire literally exploded as I pulled in. Phil and Ken from ThinkCash saw me and stopped, but continued on, assuming that I would catch them on the way. After changing the flat (and using a couple CO2 canisters) I realized my spare tube also had a hole in it. 

Some other rider was nice enough to give me a tube and some CO2. I took it as proof to the existence of karma in the universe. In the last 2 weeks I’ve stopped to help 3 different riders on the Trinity Trails with flats. In all cases I gave the riders a tube, CO2, or both. I figured this was the universe’s way of repaying my kindness ;)

So the flat slowed me down for 20-30 minutes. This meant for the rest of the ride I would be passing slower riders along the course. I haven’t ridden at the back of a bike rally in years (since I first started riding). So it was interesting to observe some different behaviors now that I am a more experienced cyclist. I thought I would share some of my observations in an effort to help new cyclists:

Stay on the right side of the road – I saw more cyclist than I could count riding in the wrong lane. I’m not talking about the left-side of the right-lane, I’m talking about riders actually riding in the wrong lane of traffic. The smart thing to do (whether in a bike rally with 1,000 other riders or on a solo training ride) is to stay as far right on the road as you can. This will make it easier for faster riders and CARS to pass you.

Don’t spend too much time at rest areas – When you stop at a rest area, grab a banana or a cookie, refill your bottles, use the porta-potty if needed and then get moving. When you stop at a rest area for longer than 5 minutes, your muscles “freeze-up” making it more difficult to get going again. You’ll be much more likely to ride a new “personal best” distance if you keep your stops short.

Don’t hit your breaks in corners with debris – There were quite a few corners on this ride that had sand, gravel, etc. The best thing to do is brake before the corner and then let go of the brakes as you make the turn. You’ll be surprised how much debris you can safely ride through on a road bike. However, when you hit the brakes mid-corner, all bets are off. You’ll quickly lose traction and be more likely to go down.

Don’t get in a paceline that is too fast – Pacelines are a great way to conserve energy and ride faster than you could by yourself. However, when try to hang on to a group that is too fast – you will probably get dropped and burn most of your glycogen reserves. Leaving you with very little power to finish the ride. A cyclist can only burn so many “matches”, you don’t want to waste them trying to hang on to a group that will drop you. If you see a group that’s moving at the right speed, join in, if there moving too fast . . . let them go.

Despite the flats, it was a great ride. The weather was perfect and I averaged right at 19 mph for 80 miles. The 48×17 gearing I have on the bike seems just right and should be the perfect gearing for TXTough. I’m really starting to like this single speed thing. Too bad there aren’t single speed divisions in road racing like there are in mountain bike racing - It would make things interesting.

More Single Speed Love

I’ve already written about how much I love my single speed. Then I took it up a notch by adding some more Arundel goodness to the bike. Last night Grant helped me complete the project with the addition of some new wheels. So here are the final stats:

  • Frame – Schwinn Madison (complete bike from Performance Bike)
  • Handlebar and Stem – Zeus ITM from my buddies at Colonel’s Bikes
  • Bar Tape – White Arundel Gecko Grip
  • Saddle Bag - Arundel Dual
  • Bottle Cages - Arundel Stainless Steel Cage. These cages grip like the Dave-O, (the best cage I have ever used and what I have on my Kuota Kredo race bike) but they fit the personality of this bike with the classic stainless steel look.
  • Wheels – White Weinmann DP18 rims with Formula flip/flop track hubs and DT Swiss stainless steel spokes
  • Pedals – Look Keo Sprint Classics
  • Gear – I went with a Shimano 17T freewheel for the new wheels (that gives me a 48×17 or 76 gear inches)

I’m anxious to take the bike out this evening for a quick spin. I don’t expect the new wheels to impact the performance, but it definitley gives it some more bling. Hopefully the “coolness” factor of the bike will give me some more motivation as I ride it for 112 miles to raise money for the Children’s Medical Center Dallas in 10 days!

Race Report – last Wed. Night Crit of the season

So last night was the final TBi Wednesday Night Crit of the season. To make it interesting, they tried a new format. The B racers (Cat 4 and Cat 3 35+) went off first, than the A racers (P 1, 2, 3) pushed off when the B racers hit the halfway point on the first lap (the loop is 1.6 miles, so we had a ~.8 mile head start).  The consensus at the beginning of the race was that the B racers wouldn’t push it too hard (for fear of burning too many matches and then not being able to hold on when the A racers caught us). So most though that they would catch us around lap 5-7. Surprisingly we managed to stay away until lap 11, when an elite chase group of 5 caught us (including my Mortiz teammate Justin).

With 2 laps to go I went to the front to help Justin and put in a small attack in hopes that the Metro VW guys would chase (giving Justin a chance to counter when they caught me). The only guy that followed me was from some other team I didn’t recognize and I eased up. By that point I was pretty spent (this was my first race in a couple months) so I let the group pass me and solo’d in on the last lap. Christian Helmig of Metro VW ended up taking the win (not surprising since he is the reigning State Crit Champ and just won Hotter ‘n’ Hell).

It was a fun format and gave me a solid hour of riding at intensity. My normalized power for the race was 263 watts and average speed was just over 25 mph.

New Arundel bling – plus a new site design

My buddies at Arundel Bicycle Company recently redesigned their website and it looks great. Arundel makes some of he best cycling accessories in the business. All of their stuff manages to blend style and function (everything looks cool on your bike, but more importantly it works). Arundel is based here in Fort Worth and the guys are part of the foundation of the Fort Worth-cycling-scene. 

I just got some stainless steel bottle cages for my single speed. With the Gecko Grip bar tape and Dual seat bag, that makes my single speed an “All-Arundel” bike (I’ll post pics of the bike with the new cages soon). The bike needs to look good as I ride it for 112 miles in TXTough.

If you want to add some Arundel bling to your ride, you can get a list of Arundel dealers here.

Wild West Weekend

Grant the cowboy

Grant the cowboy

 Grant spent this weekend in Dallas with his Pop and Granny June (my Parents). This was the first time that Jess and I had just Lauren (with no Grant) since she was born. It was nice to have some time to focus 100% of our attention and affections on Lauren. Jess and I often found ourselves looking at each other and asking the question, “Do you remember what is was like when we just had Grant.” I’ve quickly discovered in my 3.5 years of parenthood that as parents, we get a kind of selective amnesia – you can’t remember what your life was like before kids.

Baby Lauren

Baby Lauren

Lauren is truly a great baby (always happy) and a joy to be around.

The forecast called for rain, but luckily I was able to get in some long rides on Saturday and Sunday. My teammate, Ed, organized a great group ride on Saturday. We headed north towards Boyd, TX.  We had a couple sections where we took it up to “race pace” and then did a fun “pursuit” team game.  It was exactly the kind of ride I needed – long and with lots of intensity.

Sunday I went for a 70 mile solo ride. I left early so I could be home to take care of Lauren while Jess went to work out and run some errands. Then we headed to my folks house to get Grant, which is also when we got to hear all of the rodeo stories.

Grant with cousins - Jack and Hannah - ready for the rodeo

Grant with cousins - Jack and Hannah - ready for the rodeo

Saturday night Grant went to the Mesquite Rodeo with my folks and my Sister’s family - The Rosslers. The Rosslers own one of the top Platinum Coach and Outlaw Conversion horse trailer dealerships in the US – Circle M Trailers. Two of their employees were competing in the rodeo, so they had tickets for everyone, plus the kids got to go “backstage”.

Grant at the petting zoo

Grant and Hannah at the petting zoo

Grant’s favorite part was the petting zoo. Plus, he got to watch his cousin Jack compete in the mutton busting contest.

Jack getting geared up

Jack getting geared up

I haven’t seen the video yet, but apparently Jack had the most impressive ride of the night (despite the judges scoring) and came home with a trophy.

So even though we were spread-out all over the DFW Metroplex, the Cooper’s had a great weekend.