Monthly Archives: February 2008

Walburg/Pace Bend Race Report

Pace Bend Cat 4 Race

 So this past weekend Jess and Grant joined me for a trip south to compete in two Texas Cup RacesWalburg and Pace Bend.  Both races are within 45 minutes of Austin, so we decided to make a “family weekend” out of it (probably our last family trip before the new baby arrives).

We headed down early Friday for packet pick-up in Austin. Registration was a breeze and we grabbed dinner at the flagship Whole Foods on Lamar. Then we headed to our hotel in Georgetown, which was only 15 minutes from the start of Saturday’s race in the small, German town of Walburg, TX. The Walburg race is the first “big” race on the Texas cycling calendar and is historically known for really bad weather – rain, freezing temps and strong winds. Last year the winds were 50+ mph and racers were literally “blown off the road”. Luckily the weather was in the 50s and sunny, so it was perfect racing weather.

The race on Saturday went “OK”. It was the first time I had an opportunity to race with some Moritz teammates (Brian and Thomas).  I basically had horrible position all race (narrow roads and 100 riders will do that) so I had no chance to compete in the final uphill sprint, but I finished with the pack. Brian did great and took 8th. It was really great to have Jess and Grant there cheering me on at the finish. I finished 39th, but felt like I came in 1st.

After the race we headed for our new hotel for Saturday night – The Lakeway Resort on Lake Travis. I got a really good deal on the rate and it put us only 30 minutes from Sunday’s race at Pace Bend (which was key since my race started at 8 a.m.). After checking in we headed to an early dinner at The Oasis on Lake Travis.

Mommy and Grant at The Oasis on Lake Travis 

As you can tell from the pic above, Grant had a great time at The Oasis. The area around Lake Travis really is beautiful (with all the elevation change, it really feels more like California) and The Oasis is a must stop for anyone that has never been before. The views at sunset are pretty spectacular.

Sunday’s race went a little better. We had a full field of 100 riders again, but this course suited me better with a few short hills. I felt good the whole race and tried to get a few things going – chased down a break, attacked and got a 3-man break going that didn’t last long and then attacked again solo on the last lap (which didn’t stick). I decided to wait and make one more move on the last hill before the final turn and downhill finish, but got stuck behind several slower riders and wasn’t able to accelerate on the final climb. I ended up finishing 35th. Our average speed for the 44 mile race was 23.7 mph, but it never really felt that fast; the course just had a really good “flow” to it. My normalized power for the race was 250 watts and my peak 60 minutes was 263 watts. 263 is higher than the FTP I’ve had in my training plan, so it looks like my training is working; therefore, I adjusted it up to 260 watts in my Training Peaks software.

Daddy and Grant

Grant had fun, Mommy had fun and Daddy got to test out his early-season-legs. All-in-all a great weekend.

Why Jason Kidd? Why?

So yesterday I posted a horrific music video featuring the 1986 Los Angeles Dodgers. Someone then informed me of the fine video above. Right now everyone in Dallas/Fort Worth has Jason Kidd-fever with the Mavericks recent trade. This isn’t Kidd’s first stop in Dallas – he was originally drafted by the Mavs in 1994.

1994 was also the year that Kidd made the mistake of recording a rap song with Money B of Digital Underground. The list of basketball players who thought they could rap is long:

  • Shaq
  • Kobe
  • Ron Artest
  • Tony Parker

But this effort (if you can call it that) might be the worst of them all. Would Mark Cuban have been as willing to part with $17 million to get this trade done had he heard this rap first?

Baseball Boogie . . . wow this is bad

Baseball BoogieBaseball Boogie

So after the success of the 1985 Chicago Bears music video, “Super Bowl Shuffle” several pro sports teams attempted to create their own music video. Most of these efforts were horrible, so luckily for the players involved, few were ever seen by the public-at-large. Well, that was before YouTube.

The little diddy above is “Baseball Boogie” featuring the 1986 Los Angeles Dodgers. You will need to click here to watch it since YouTube won’t let me embed the video. There are so many disturbing things with this video, that I’m not sure where to start:

  1. Were bright satin jackets ever in style?
  2. Is that a young Ed Begley Jr.getting out of the limo as one of the red carpet “celebrities”? Is that an electric-hybrid limousine?
  3. Is it just me or are Orel Hershiser’s hip movements/thrusts disturbing?
  4. Is that former Mets great Keith Hernandez in the audience?
  5. Was Pedro Guerrero’s injury during Spring Training in ’86 fate’s way of punishing him for making this horrible video (he is the one in the pink satin jacket with all the bling)?

As an ’86 Dodger, I wonder what hurts more – losing 89 games or having to see yourself in this video.

Show’bidness Pizza

Grant isn’t quite old enough yet to appreciate Chuck’E’Cheese or Showbiz Pizza, but I’m guessing after he attends a birthday party there, he will regularly ask to go. We had a Showbiz Pizza in the town where I grew-up (ironically it is now a Hooters) and I remember everyone getting really excited when the animatronic band would start to play. However, the band at my ShowBiz never played contemporary pop music like in this clip. Seriously, some ShowBiz employee spent a lot of time programming the characters to this song and I think it is hilarious. There is a Chuck’E’Cheese one block from my office – if the band played music like this, Grant and I might make lunch their a regular stop 😉

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.

Let Levi Ride 

Most cycling fans know who Levi Leipheimer is, but I’ll give his bio for the benefit of those of you that aren’t cycling enthusiasts. Levi is an American professional road bicycle racer who currently rides for Team Astana (last year Levi rode for the now defunct Discovery Channel team).  He is arguable the greatest American cyclist today with a  1st overall in the 2007 Tour of California (winning the Prologue and Stage 5 time trials), 1st overall in the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré, 1st overall in the 2005 Deutschland Tour, 3rd overall in the 2001 Vuelta a España, and three top-ten finishes in the Tour de France general classification, including 3rd overall in the 2007 race. He is also the reigning USA National Road Race champion, finishing 1:11 seconds ahead of Discovery team mate and defending U.S. champion George Hincapie. However, he is not being allowed to compete in several top races this year – including the Tour de France.

On February 13th, the Amaury Sports Organization (ASO) barred Team Astana from competing in any race or event organized by the ASO in 2008. The ASO owns premiere cycling events like Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours, and the famed Tour de France. The ASO cited the doping scandals of last year’s Tour de France as justification. The politics of professional cycling are confusing (even for those of us that follow it closely), but this decision

Astana is a totally new team in 2008. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the name. The entire organizational structure has been rebuilt under the direction of the team’s new General Manager, Johan Bruyneel, who basically cleaned house (bringing over many former Discovery Channel riders). In addition, Astana has adopted the rigorous doping controls developed by anti-doping expert Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard, and Astana now spends more money on anti-doping controls than any other team in the pro peloton.

By barring the entire team from competing in ASO events, outstanding athletes like Levi Leipheimer, who was not a member of last year’s Astana team and who has never been implicated in any doping affair, are forced to sit on the sidelines while their life’s work passes them by.

I had the opportunity to have dinner and ride with Levi last year. He is a genuinely nice guy that is totally passionate about cycling. As he talked about the Tour de France, it was clear that he loves the event and would like to have another chance to win it after coming so close. I’d rather not see politics get in the way of him having that chance, so you can support his cause by signing the petition here. I think the Tour de France this year would be a less compelling race without him.

Love is in the air at ThinkCash

ThinkCash Cupcakes

Well maybe not love, but the spirit of Valentine’s Day is definitely here at ThinkCash. Mike S. and his wife baked the cupcakes above for the team. The “brand police” might say that they didn’t use the correct PMS color, but we’re not going to nit-pick.  This proves once again that besides being the leader in installment loans for emergency cash needs; we are also the leader in logo-inspired-baked-goods.

Power Training . . . the next level

So regular readers of this blog know that I got a PowerTap power meter for Christmas. Well, I have officially taken my power-based-training to the next level by incorporating the Training Peaks WKO+ software (formerly called Cycling Peaks). The above is the summary of a solo training ride I did on Sunday. It’s very cool and let’s you really analyze your rides, but more importantly it is great and monitoring your training overtime to help “taper” for really big events.

The next “really big event” in my life is the pending birth of our second child in 8 weeks, so I’m not using the software to plan for any “A” races yet, but I think it will definitely help me maximize the limited training time I will have.

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.

Super Bowl commercials . . . an expert review

As someone who has produced a couple Super Bowl commercials during my career (not at Thinkcash yet, but during my days at Blockbuster) I’m often asked the Monday after the game what I thought of the spots. I was going to do a full write-up, but I think the Miller High Life delivery guy beat me to the punch.