Monthly Archives: September 2008

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.

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 😉

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.

Bill Simmons – Best sports writer in the business

If you love sports, and you love pop culture, you need to read ESPN’s Bill Simmons (aka “The Sports Guy”). A great example of his writing is this column on predictions for the NFL season. How many writers can mix true sports knowledge, with a pop culture reference (I’ll admit that I watch MTV’s The Hills) and a guys’ weekend in Vegas?

I was a sports writer in college for a paper in my hometown of Lafayette, LA called The Daily Advertiser.The paper had a decent circulation (about 50,000) and it was a great experience. But as much as I love sports and writing, I quickly learned that journalism is a tough trade. The only way to “move-up” is to continue to take jobs with larger papers/publications. Very few guys ever make it to the “big time”. However, hard work pays off and one of my co-workers actually did make it – Pete McEntegart has a regular column on Sports Illustrated’s SI.com.

So do I regret my career choices – no way. But if I were a sports writer today (in the world of online columns, podcasts and blogging) I would have little to offer – I would be a clone of Bill Simmons.

Lance Armstrong – The Comeback

So at first it was just a rumor, but now it is official – Lance Armstrong is returning to pro cycling. This is huge. For the cycling community this is bigger than the return of Brett Favre (for the NFL) or Michael Jordan (for the NBA). VeloNews was able to get some reactions from competitors at the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) when it was still just rumor. Luckily, I can read between the lines and tell you what they really wanted to say.

Johan Bruyneel(Astana general manager): We’ve heard the rumors starting a few weeks ago when he rode this mountain bike race (Leadville 100). Right now all we can say it’s a rumor. What’s sure, if he wanted to come back, I wouldn’t say no. And I could never imagine him riding for another team. It would be here. And if he did come back, it would be to win. But right now, all I can say is that it’s rumors.

My Translation: If Lance goes and rides for Garmin-Chipotle, I’ll be dissapoined. If he rides for that Michael Ball bastard and his Rock Racing misfits, I’m going to puke.

Alberto Contador (Astana): I don’t know about the truth of the rumor, but it certainly appears as something surprising and curious. I view it as a rumor that would revolutionize the world of cycling. He would be a good teammate and it would be a unique experience and it would be something of pride because he’s a rider I really admire a lot. I don’t know what to make of the story, but if it’s true and he does come back, he certainly would be able to do just about anything he wanted.

My Translation: I’d love to have you on the team . . . as my DOMESTIQUE.

Carlos Sastre(CSC-Saxo Bank): He’s a rider who can put your hair on end just by watching him on TV. After three years of inactivity, it would be difficult to return to the highest level, but he is Lance Armstrong. If he wants to return it’s because he believes he has an opportunity.”

My Translation: Thank God I won this year!

I’m actually very pumped about Lance’s return – mostly because Lance makes cycling more relevant in the US. Let’s face it, Lance’s celebrity gives our sport more credibility with the general public. If his comeback means it’s a little easier for a race promoter to get the appropriate permit from a city, or a driver gives me a little more space when they pass me on the road – I’ll take it.