Category Archives: texas

Mack Brown’s Texas Recruiting Video

I have a lot of friends that went to Texas. We often get into debates about who is better – LSU or Texas. This year there is no debate and there is a very good chance we will see Texas play Florida in the BCS title game (which is why Texas will probably try and hang 60+ points on the Aggies Thursday). So as a Thanksgiving homage to my Texas friends, enjoy this Mack Brown recruiting tape – “take one of those Holiday Bowl trophies . . . I have plenty of those”

Headed to Austin for TechCrunch/Austin Ventures

I’m headed down to Austin tomorrow for a TechCrunch/Austin Ventures event. There is a round table on grassroots marketing and then an evening event where some of the top start-ups in Texas are going to show their goods. I’m an information/idea junkie, so events like this are right in my wheelhouse. On Friday I’m headed straight from Austin to Kevin D’s cabin on Lake Texoma for a “Team ThinkCash Cycling Camp”. However, there will be no discussion of emergency short-term loans on this trip. Basically a couple days of cycling, wake-boarding and cooking burgers/steaks by the lake. I’m really looking forward to it and thankful that I have an understanding wife ;)

It is HOT!

Kevin had a great post about how hot it has been in North Texas. 17 of the last 18 days it has been 100+ degrees in Fort Worth (today should make it 18 of 19).  Sunday was 107 degrees! I rode on Thursday and yesterday after work and it is just too damn hot – pretty depressing when you roll out and it is 105 degrees. This is the first time since I started riding that the heat has had a dramatic impact on my riding (luckily I’m pretty heat tolerant growing-up in South Louisiana).

Cyclingnews.com actually has an interesting answer to the question of how heat impacts training today in their Form & Fitness Q&A:

There are several interesting effects of training in high temperatures and high humidity. Principally at such temperatures the dissipation of heat becomes unavoidably the limiting factor to performance. That means the speeds or powers one can put out in extreme heat are less than what one can do at lower temperatures and one simply cannot train as hard or as effectively.

The reasons are that humans use sweat evaporation as the principle mode of cooling and that we cannot function with body temperatures more than a few degrees above normal. Dissipating heat by evaporation of sweat requires delivery of heat from the core and working muscles to the skin. That heat is moved from the core to the skin by blood which would be flowing through muscles at lower temperatures, so the first problem is that there is less blood available to deliver oxygen to the muscles. Then, evaporative cooling is less effective in high humidity, so one simply can’t effectively cool oneself by sweating in those conditions. The brain will shut down muscle activity to prevent overheating. Overheating causes coma and death, so not overheating is a better choice. I don’t mean that you can’t use muscles when it’s hot, but that the effort required to make a contraction force that would feel easy in cooler temperatures becomes greater in warmer temperatures.

So, to answer you question directly: The downsides of training in 40 degree Celsius (104F) and 80-90% humidity are that it is relatively ineffective and you are at risk for death by heat-stroke. The upside is that if you ever race somewhere warm, you will be well adjusted to the heat.

If you want to train effectively you need to do the same things that your competitors who live in snow country do in the winter: Find someplace safe to ride where the temperatures are more conducive to physiologically effective training: Get out the indoor trainer and ride somewhere air-conditioned.

So for the next few weeks I’ll be doing most of my riding in the morning. Hopefully we get a reprieve from the heat when TX Tough rolls around.

TXTough – Raising money for Children’s Medical Center in Dallas by riding a single speed for 112 miles!

I really got into cycling about two years ago. One of the first challenges I set for myself was to do the Lance Armstrong Foundation LIVESTRONG ride in Austin. The ride was 100 miles (at a time when the longest ride I had ever done was 40 miles). I put a lot of time and energy into training for the event; additionally, I also put a lot of effort into my fund-raising. As a result, I was able to finish the 100 mile ride in a respectable time, but more importantly, I raised almost $12,000 for the LAF. I’ve decided to use my passion for cycling one more time to raise money for a good cause.

This is the first year for TX TOUGH in Dallas. The TX TOUGH Tour is a pledge fund-raiser created exclusively to raise money for Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. The bike tour will be a 112 mile ride starting and finishing in Victory Park on Sept. 14. With two, young children any organization that helps kids has a special place in my heart. Additionally, some very close family members went through a difficult time recently that was helped by the environment that a Children’s Medical Center provides.

Since riding 100+ miles isn’t a big challenge for me anymore, I’m going to make it more interesting by riding the 112 miles on a single speed bike. For those of you that aren’t into cycling, this is a pretty daunting task. A single speed means just that, one gear. So if I want to go fast, I just keep spinning my legs even faster. If there is a big hill, no changing to a lower gear, I just stand up and grind-it-out. I’m pretty sure I’ll be the only person crazy enough to do the ride on a single speed, so you make sure my effort isn’t in vain by supporting my fund-raising efforts here. I’ve formed a team for us here at ThinkCash, with the promise of fancy, new ThinkCash kits for everyone that raises money and completes the 56 or 112 mile ride (I’ll give a sneak preview of the kits on this blog before the event).

Believe it or not, but this blog now gets a few thousand readers every month. I’m hoping that through “the power of the Internet” I can harness some of your goodwill to raise money for a great cause.  The event is only six weeks away, so I don’t have a lot of time. As always I will keep everyone updated on my training and fund-raising efforts. Hopefully the temps come down before Sept. (we’ve have 10 straight 100+ degree days here in Fort Worth).

www.active.com/donate/txtoughtour08/bencooper

Mellow Johnny’s

Mellow Johnny's T-Shirt

Kevin was in Austin this week and picked up a T-shirt for me at Mellow Johnny’s. Mellow Johnny’s is Lance Armstrong’s new bike shop in Austin. It’s named for the nickname Armstrong earned while wearing the Tour de France leader’s “maillot jaune,” or yellow jersey.

Mellow Johnny's Austin

 It’s on Nueces next to La Zona Rosa. It is also a block north of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, a path that will cut east-west through downtown Austin.

Everyone I know that has been just raves about this shop.

Mellow Johnny's Inside

It’s been described as part bike shop, part cafe, part commuter center, part training center and part museum. They carry Trek (as you would expect), but also have  Swobo, DeRosa, Eddie Merckx, Pinarello, Seven, Crumpton and Gary Fisher. I know that Tim is also proud of the fact that Mellow Johnny’s carries Masi bikes as well (get well soon Tim).

Juan Pelota Cafe inside Mellow Johnny's

I had the pleasure of riding with Bart Knaggs (one of the owners of Mellow Johnny’s) at the Cycle for Science ride last year. Bart’s a good guy and I wish them luck with the new shop, but with the team they have running this place I can’t see them not killing it and becoming a major fixture of the Austin cycling scene. I will definitely check the place out the next time I’m in Austin.

What a workout!

Cherry Pie Hill Workout

So Saturday my teammate Ed organized a training ride out in Palo Pinto. Six of us took on the challenge (5 Moritz riders and our mountain-bike-phenom buddy Matt). There are two races in Mineral Wells/Palo Pinto in a couple of weeks, so this was a great opportunity to train and pre-ride some of the course.

If you know Ed, you know he trains HARD. So we had no doubt this ride would be epic. Here was the plan:

  • Meet Ed at a small B&B on Lake Palo Pinto (where he and his wife had stayed the night before).
  • Ride 11 hilly miles to the base of Cherry Pie Hill.
  • Do 3 sets of 3 hill repeats up Cherry Pie Hill (that’s 9 times up CP Hill!)
  • Then ride the first half of the race course, taking a short-cut back to our cars.

For those of you not familar with Cherry Pie Hill, it is the longest climb in North Texas – about 1.5 miles @ 6%-8% (it’s 350 ft. vertical). So the thought of doing 9 hill repeats up CP Hill was a little daunting. So how did it turn out?

  • just over 72 miles in 4 hours
  • over 5,800 ft. of climbing
  • “The Big Ring Challenge” on the 9th and final climb up Cherry Pie Hill we all agreed to stay in our big chain ring or suffer humiliation – everyone made it
  • some tempo work into a nasty headwind on the way home

Overall a great ride. Let’s hope the hard work turns into some W’s for Moritz in April!

Jesuit Ranger Round-Up Race Report

Jesuit Ranger Round-Up B Race

Moritz Chevrolet Cycling had another great weekend. On Sunday we attended the Jesuit Ranger Round-Up in Celina. The race is a fundraiser for the Texas High School Cycling League and one of the few road races in the DFW area (most of the RR in Texas are near Austin).

Our top results:

A Race – 2nd place (great work Justin)

B Race – 1st (Thomas) and 4th (Brian)

I raced in the B race (Cat 4/5 race of 75 riders) with Brian, Thomas and Camilo. We discussed during our warm-up that Thomas would try to go on an early break while the other members of the team would block. If the break didn’t stick, we would then work togther to protect Brian for the sprint (Brian is the closest thing we have to Tom Boonen). Our plans worked pretty good because we accomplished both goals!
 
On the second lap of the race (the race was 5 laps of a 9 mile loop) Thomas went on a 3 man break with about 30 miles to go. Camillo and I controlled the race by setting a false tempo and chasing down any breaks that tried to form and bring back the breakaway.  I basically spent just over an hour at the front of the pack in the wind. We eventually convinced some of the Plano Athletic Cycling guys to help us at the front since they also had a man in the break. I think the pack was very confused because you rarely see teams “block” for a man up-the-road in a Cat 4 or 5 race.
Thomas of course did the most amazing job of all keeping such a high pace for such an extended period of time and pushing himself to the limit to out-sprint his two breakaway mates at the line. Once we knew that the break was clear and going to make it – Camillo and I banded together to help lead Brian out for the sprint. Brian delivered and took the field sprint for 4th.

It was a great feeling to really work as a “team” and I think in a strange way it gave me even more motivation than I’ve had for some of my individual goals. The whole time we were blocking I just kept thinking “we need to give Thomas a chance”. I know it gave me a little boost because the hour I was blocking I set a new high for my 60 minute normalized power – 270 watts (not the most impressive FTP, but not bad considering I’m only 67 kg). This is higher than what I’ve been using as my FTP in training, so I actually increased the FTP in my Cycling Peaks software.

In the Pro/1/2/3 A race Justin and Danny worked well together to put Justin in position for 2nd.  Danny went on the attack 5 laps in and got a small break formed. When the break was caught Justin counter-attacked with another group of 10-12 riders that worked well together to hold the pack off.  Justin missed the win by inches (not bad since he’s coming back from a pretty bad hip injury).

So this makes two weekends in a row where we have had a guy go on a three man break (Scott last week at Lago Vista and Thomas this weekend), have his teammates successfully block (Ed and Danny for Scott last weekend – Camillo, Brian and I this weekend) and then out-sprint his breakaway companions for the win.

Baby #2 is coming in a couple weeks. Therefore, I’m not racing the next couple of weekends. I will still be training hard though for the Mineral Wells races the first weekend in April (Grandma is nice enough to come stay with the family while Daddy goes racing).

MCC Team Training Camp Report

2008 Moritz Chevrolet Cycling Team

This past weekend was the Moritz Chevrolet Cycling team training camp in Granbury, TX (hosted by Mike and his wife in Pecan Plantation). The original plan was a full weekend of riding, dinners together, etc. Approximately 25 guys had planned on attending. However, Mother Nature had different ideas and dropped some cold weather and rain on us Saturday (they were originally forecasting freezing rain, etc). So on Thursday we decided to condense camp to one day – Sunday. The new agenda was:

  1. Meet in the morning for breakfast and catching-up
  2. Meet to discuss team issues (plans for the year, upcoming races, etc.)
  3. Ride for 4 hours on the beautiful and hilly roads around Granbury
  4. Post ride pizza, watch the Tour of California on Versus, etc.

The weather on Sunday actually turned out pretty good – sunny and in the 50’s; however, there was a steady 15-20 mph wind out of the NW. Mike planned out a great route that would take us into the headwind for about 40 miles and then we would come back on a similar route with the benefit of the tailwind, but the added challenge of climbing Comanche Peak. Larry was even nice enough to drive our support truck with extra bottles, wheels, etc. so we wouldn’t lose any time if someone flatted on the road.

We had a great ride. Mostly double paceline, played a few games of “chase the rabbit” on the hills etc. In all we did 80 miles and 5,000 ft. of climbing (profile below) in 4 hours.

ride profile

For those of you fellow “power junkies” my normalized average power for the 4 hour ride was 229w, so it was a good effort and I definitely racked up some TSS.

I’m lucky to be on a team with a great group of guys and look forward to some positive results for MCC in 2008.

Deep in the heart of Texas

Cowboy Grant

The “Cowboy” spirit of Texas has been strong in the Cooper family over the last couple of weeks. The Fort Worth Stock Show just ended, but not before Grant got to dress up like a cowboy for “Stock Show Day” at school.

Hannah on horseback

My sister’s family has also adapted quite nicely to life in Texas. They own one of the largest horse trailer dealerships in Texas (they specialize in Platinum trailers with Outlaw conversions) and you can see my niece, Hannah, above on one of her first trail rides.

One of the first things Jess and I noticed when we moved from Dallas to Fort Worth almost two years ago is how different the cities are (even though they are only 30 miles apart). Dallas is very cosmopolitan and aspires to be similar to New York or LA; by contrast, Fort Worth is proud of its western roots and heritage and is very content to be . . . Fort Worth. Needless to say, we’re pretty happy to call Fort Worth home.

Strange things afoot in Stephenville, plus my Top Alien/UFO movie picks

UFO 
For those of you that don’t live in North Texas, you may never have heard of Stephenville. Stephenville is a small town of 17,000 people about an hour SW of Fort Worth (as a side note: great cycling in Stephenville). This little town has become the “UFO Center of the World” over the last week after numerous residents spotted something in the skies. They all have claimed to have seen a UFO, or an ‘unidentified flying object’. Many of the witnesses are very credible people, including the constable for Erath County. You can watch a CNN International report on the story here
One thing that hurt witnesses credibility is the fact that most of them claimed to have also seen military jet fighters in pursuit of the UFO. However, the Air Force said that they had no planes in the vicinity on the date in question.
This story took an intriguing twist yesterday when the Air Force changed it’s statement and said that it actually did have F-16s in the area on the date and time in question.
I’m no conspiracy theorist, but this change of events is sure to keep the tabloids and UFO fans focused on Stephenville for some time.
In honor of these events I present my expert Top 10 Alien/UFO movies of all time.
  • How am I an “expert”
    • I spent 6 years of my life working for Blockbuster (in stores as a teenager and later, launching and serving as the head of marketing for Blockbuster)
    • I “grew-up” in video stores (my parents owned some for 5+ years)
    • I used to catch the $2 double-feature at The Lake Cinema in Lake Oswego, OR every weekend with my friends.

So, in no particular order:

war of 

War of the Worlds

One of the original alien movies that’s still considered one of the best. 

Based on H.G. Wells novel of the same name, Earth gets invaded by Martians. 

You never really see the aliens, but just the thought of them in their spacecraft gives this movie 

it’s suspense – don’t expect to be wowed by the special effects (special effects weren’t very “special” in 1953). 

This movie should not be confused with the crappy Tom Cruise remake of 2005. 

ET 

E.T. The Extraterrestrial

A different twist on the alien flick. This time the character is a love-able alien that easily tugs on your heart strings.   If you haven’t seen it yet, or haven’t re-watched this movie  for years, do so now, you’ll be surprised how good it was. This movie was also the start of the “product placement wars” in major motion pictures. Can’t remember the product – it was Reese’s Pieces! They were E.T.s favorite treat and the bait Elliot used to bring him out of hiding. I actually got an “E.T.” filled Christmas stocking in 1982 – a small plush E.T. doll and a bag of Reese’s Pieces. See – product placement works!

 

blob 

The Blob

Both versions of the Blob, both the originals 50’s version and the updated 80’s version have a lot to offer.  One a personal note, the 80’s version was filmed in my wife’s hometown of Abbeville, LA. The 80’s version is also one of the few lead movie roles for Kevin Dillon, Johnny Drama of HBO’s “Entourage” (best show on TV). The alien in this case is just that – a blob. It’s hard to imagine being scared by anything that moves so slowly, but this giant Jell-O mold eats anything in it’s path.

. killer

Killer Klowns From Outerspace

The title alone should get your attention. This movie is as bad as it sounds. It makes the list for the obsurdity of the plot and special effects. Alien Clowns come from outer space that shoot ray guns turning people into cotton candy wrapped treats that the clowns later feed on through silly straws (I’m not making this up).  The one thing you’ll learn from this movie is to always shoot or hit an alien clown in the nose (it makes them explode).

last 

The Last Starfighter

Great movie. The graphics were way ahead of it’s time (1984) and it actually features a rare combination – a good plot and good actors. This movie gave every trailer-park-video-game-playing-kid the dream that they could save the universe. As a kid, this movie made me wish I had my own “Beta-unit” to do my chores while I joined Star-Command to save the universe.

 

.flight 

Flight of the Navigator

A 12-year-old boy, is mysteriously abducted by an alien ship and returns to Earth eight years later, still only 12. He now possesses great navigational powers that enable him to fly his space ship anywhere he desires. Along with the help of robotic Commander Max (voiced by Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman) he “takes off” on adventure. I know it sounds a little corny, but this is actually a really entertaining movie that has stood the test of time. It’s the kind of film you wish Disney still made more of.