So a few years ago one of my best friends from high school/college (Jake G.) came up with a great idea. Since most of our crew from high school/college (my core group of about 6 best friends all went to high school and college together) are now married, some of us with kids, we decided to start an annual tradition -BBNC. I won’t tell you what BBNC is an acronym for, but the idea behind it is a guys-only weekend every year for all of us to get together and laugh at each other like the old times. I’m pretty lucky in that some of these guys I have known since I was 5 years old and we all stay in close contact (via email, phone, trips like this, etc.).
Our inaugural BBNC was in 2006 and we went to Austin. We attended the UT home opener against University of Louisiana of Lafayette (The Ragin Cajuns). About 10 of us attended and had a blast. We hung out on 6th street and the Warehouse district, went to the game, checked out Lance Armstrong’s club – Six. It was kind of a surreal weekend since the weekend before is when Katrina hit New Orleans. Several of my buddies in attendance were living in New Orleans at the time and were basically homeless.
In 2006 we did BBNC in Dallas. All the fellas came in and we stayed at Hotel ZaZa in Uptown. On the Friday night we ate dinner in the West Village and hit a couple fun clubs, including Medici.
On Saturday we hung out by the ZaZa pool all day.
Then we headed over to the Blue Goose on Greenville for dinner (close to me and Jess’s first house in the M-Streets) then went to the Def Leppard/Journey concert at Smirnoff.
The concert was a blast and once again we had an amazing time. Eveytime we all get together I realize two things:
- I’m pretty lucky to have such an amazing group of friends
- It is critically important for us to get together every year. Each year becomes harder and harder as more of us get married, have kids (or more kids), have more demanding jobs, etc. But that just makes the time we get together even more fun and unique (how many high school friends are you still close enough with that you would make sacrifices to spend a weekend with them?).
So this year we are heading to Destin, FL. More specifically, Sandestin Resort. Growing up in South Louisiana, everyone goes to Destin for SpringBreak, 4th of July, etc. so Destin has a special place in my heart. Plus, me and some of my buddies on this trip would live in Destin (and ironically work at Sandestin Resort) during summers in college. We would work just enough to pay the bills and then we were basically beach bums the rest of the time. It’s funny. We used to wait on people at Sandestin and always think, “I can’t wait until we are in a position one day to come to a place like this, get waited on, eat nice meals at fancy beachside restaurants and enjoy a nice cocktail by the pool.” Now we are those guys. The group will be smaller this year (about 6 or 7) due to some scheduling conflicts, but I know we will have a blast.
So Fantasy Football Season is fast approaching. I’ve been playing fantasy football since the pre-Internet days. Back when you would get together with everyone in your league and have a live draft (which would often take 6-10 hours) and someone would spend 10+ hours each week compiling everyone’s points. I started FFL when I was a sports writer for The Daily Advertiser newspaper in Lafayette, LA during college. Trust me, playing FFL against sports writers is about as hardcore as it gets and we luckily had one guy that was a stat-compiling-whiz. He would have all the stats for the weekends games done by Monday night (just after Monday Night Football was over).
The Internet has really made FFL accessible to the masses – it’s estimated that ~15 million people play FFL every year. I’m on a pretty good run. In 2005 I placed second in my league (run by my good buddy Ryan). Last year I took the championship in that same league. Ryan is stepping down as commissioner this year, so I am joining a new league. My buddy Scott S. from graduate school (BTW Scott is now an excellent realtor in the North Dallas suburbs if anyone is looking for a good realtor) is also a rabid FFL player. I’m joining Scott’s league this year, which will be a big change since Scott and I have often exchanged trade and line-up ideas in the past (since we weren’t in the same league). Our draft should be very interesting, especially if everyone follows Rule #1 of FFL – draft a running back with your first two picks (there aren’t many good running backs these days). Time to start looking at the mock drafts on ESPN.com.
So who am I looking at? Without giving away my draft strategy’s, here is one guy/team at each position that I think is undervalued (won’t be the first or second player picked at their position, but could perform that way).
- QB – Marc Bulger. Always puts up good numbers, but this year I think he will really shine (especially after signing a new deal that makes him one of the highest paid QBs in the league). He’s almost a lock for 4,000 yards, but look for his touchdowns to be up this year as well.
- RB – Laurence Maroney. He should be ready for 2007 after off-season shoulder surgery. With Corey Dillon gone Maroney should put up very solid numbers. With Randy Moss opening things up in the red zone, and the Pats using lots of two-TE sets, look for Maroney to get at least 12 touchdowns. I actually think he is good for 16 touchdowns (rushing and receiving).
- WR – Lee Evans. Evans will have a monster year in 2007. JP Losman finally looked like an NFL quarterback at the end of last season and Evans is one of the few, legitimate, deep-threats in the NFL. Could easily lead the league in receiving yards this year.
- TE – Vernon Davis. This guys is a genetic-freak. If you saw him at the combine last year, you know what I am talking about – 4.3 speed, 265 lbs, 0% bodyfat. Alex Smith is starting to play well, Frank Gore is a top-3 RB when healthy, I think Davis will get his fair share of looks in the red zone.
- DEF – Cowboys. My 9 years DFW has slowly converted me into a legitimate Cowboys fan (although the Saints are still #1 in my heart). So this is a sentimental pick. However; I’m hoping Wade Phillips can take the Cowboys talent and let them loose like he did in San Diego.
- K – Anyone. Seriously, kickers don’t really matter in FFL. The deviation between the best and the worst in the league is pretty small, but I’ll say John Kasay. I think the Panther’s offense will be much improved in 2007 and John Fox isn’t afraid to let Kasay attempt a 60-yarder.
So I finally got my new bike (as you can see, Grant approves of Daddy’s new bike). For those of you that aren’t familiar with my cycling plight, here is the synopsis.
- Started mountain bike riding casually (once or twice a week) a couple years ago. Due to a shoulder injury I am no longer able to lift weights, play basketball, golf or any other activity that requires a lot of movement from the shoulder (especially motions above my head).
- When we move to Fort Worth last May I bought a road bike, mostly because we live right next to the Trinity Trail system – a great networks of 40+ miles of trails through Fort Worth. I bought a Specialized Roubaiux Expert. A very nice bike, particularly for long rides. At the time I expected to really get into century rides and other long distance riding, I had no interest in the “race” season.
- Fast forward one year and 7,000 miles later and I am officially a cycling junkie and now ride about 200 – 250 miles per week. I also purchased a USCF racing license and now race on a pretty regular basis. I am currently a Cat. 5 racer (the lowest level) and need 4 more races to move up to Cat. 4. From that point moving up is strictly based on how well I do (could move up to Cat. 3 after winning 3 or 4 races, or could stay stuck at Cat. 4 for the rest of my life). So I have been itching to get a new bike that is more suitable for racing and on Father’s Day Jess gave me the greenlight to get something new.
I orginally got a Kona King Zing frame on the Internet and picked all the components I wanted separately. I had the guys at Panther City Bicycles do the build for me and Bernie did his usual fantastic job. However, after a couple rides I realized the frame wasn’t really what I was looking for. This is why it really helps to do all your cycling purchases with your LBS (local bike shop). I’ve made my living on the Internet for 8 years now and buy almost anything you can imagine online; however, when it comes to bicycle parts/components it really does pay to go local.
So I found another frame that I thought my fit the bill at Fort Worth Cycling – a Kuota Kredo. James did a great job on the fit and I couldn’t be any happier with the bike. The Goatneck on Saturday was the first long ride for the new steed and it is surperior to the Roubaix in a few areas:
- Lighter – The bike before pedals is right at 15 pounds, which is ridiculously light.
- Stiffer – No more flex in the bottom bracket. When push the Kredo, it goes.
- Handling – This is maybe the biggest change for me. The Roubaix always felt soft and uneasy in the corners (not what you want when you are racing in a crit), but the Kredo really does take corners like it is on rails (pardon the overused expression).
- Wheels – the wheels I have are Easton EC70 (a 38mm carbon clincher wheelset). They aren’t available to the public yet, but I was able to get an early prototype set from the Toyota United pro cycling team (long story). The deep section wheel really does make a difference when you are riding 20+mph. Hopefully they will give me a slight edge when I ride with the group out of FW Cycling on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. BTW, if anyone is looking for a fast weekday training ride in FW, this is it. Average is in the mid 20’s over the rolling hills of the I-20/I-30 service roads. We take off from the shop at 6:45 a.m. sharp. It works great for me, I leave the house just after 6 a.m. and it is about 8-9 miles to the shop, we ride 30 miles and a fast clip, then 8-9 miles home. It’s pretty cool to be able to ride almost 50 miles in the morning and still be in the office by 9 or 9:30.
- Looks – Yeah, it looks pretty cool. This bike just looks fast hanging on my garage wall.
So now there are no bike-related excuses. If I don’t ride well, it isn’t the bike, it is the engine 😉
So as some of you may know, my sister’s family just move to North Texas from Louisiana last week. This means that all of the Cooper Clan (myself, Jess and Grant – my parents – and now Rachel, Alex, Jack and Hannah) live in North Texas. Jess, Grant and I are in God’s Country (Fort Worth), my parents are in Addison and The Rosslers are now in Forney. We went to visit the Rosslers and check out their new house on Saturday night. It took us exactly an hour to get from our driveway to theirs (not bad, much better than the 6+ hour drive to Lafayette, LA). Grant has a blast playing with his cousins (Jack and Hannah) who he idolizes.
Their house is brand new and in a great subdivision with a really nice pool and playground. So after dinner, where 9 year old Hannah made her special carrot dish (which was great – Hannah is quite the cook), we took the kids to swim.
Grant had so much fun that he fell asleep the moment he got back in the car to head home. I was pretty tired as well from a full day (waking up at 5 a.m. to drive an hour, ride 70 miles, come back, shower change and drive another hour to Forney then back to Ft. Worth). My 5 minute commute to work has spoiled me and any drive over 30 minutes seems to take forever.
Did the Goatneck bicycle rally in Cleburne, TX this past Saturday. This was my first time riding this well managed event. The course was great and over 2,500 brave souls came out to ride 10, 27, 41 or 70 miles through the rolling countryside of Johnson County. I met up with many of the members of Team ThinkCash. As a reminder – we put together a company team to ride in the Frisco-to-Fort Worth MS150 (raising money for Multiple Sclerosis research). Several guys joined just to get some of our cool team kits (cycling talk for jersey and shorts), but amazingly everyone is still riding on a regular basis.
I did the 70 mile ride (this link will give you all of the data for the ride from my bike’s GPS unit) and felt good. I tried to do as much of the ride solo as possible (not getting the benefit of slipstream by rising in a group) in preparation for the Texas Time Trials in September (100 mile race with no drafting allowed). That put me at an average speed of just over 21 mph, so not bad for 70 miles of rolling hills, but not hammering it. In fact, I felt good enough to go for a 55 mile ride on Sunday morning. The rest of Team ThinkCash did really good (everyone has improved dramatically from the MS150 in May). Kevin actually had his best ride ever.
I’m going to try and race a Wednesday Night Crit or two over the next few weeks, but the next big ride will be Hotter than Hell 100 in Wichita Falls, TX at the end of August. I did the HH100 last year. It was my first century ride ever and actually ended up being 115 miles due to some pranksters that changed some of the signs on the course. I might have found it amusing if it wasn’t 108 degrees that day. This year I will probably do the 100K Cat 5 race in order to get me one race closer to moving up to Cat 4. Jess and I had reservations to stay at the Holiday Inn in Wichita Falls (where we stayed last year), but I just learned that they had major flood damage from all the rain we have been having, so I might be driving there the morning of the race and driving back after (2 hours each way . . . arrgh).
So I have been meaning to start a blog for 2+ years now, but finally decided to do it as a great way to let family and friends keep up with what is happening at Casa Cooper. You will also find me musing on sports (especially LSU football), cycling and business (particular things going on in the Internet space). I’ll try to post often (nothing worse than a blog with a post once every six months), but don’t expect hourly updates either. See you in the blogosphere.