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

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.

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!

Rock Racing gets a huge win – Tyler Hamilton wins US Road Championship

Rock Racing's Tyler Hamilton sprints past Garmin-Chipotle's Blake Caldwell
Rock Racings Tyler Hamilton sprints past Garmin-Chipotle’s Blake Caldwell

Tyler Hamilton (now 37 years old) outsprinted Blake Caldwell of Garmin-Chipotle in an extremely close photo finish, taking the Stars-and-Stripes jersey by a tire’s width after 177 kilometers (~111 miles) of racing on Sunday. 

The photo above shows that Hamilton won by .002 seconds. That’s part of what I love about racing, you can duke it out for 4.5 hours, but it might come down to who works harder in the last second.

I’m happy for Rock Racing. Say what you will about the team’s owner, Michael Ball, and his tactics/antics, but you can’t argue that he is giving the business/marketing side of the sport a much needed transfusion (no pun intended). A great example is their line of city/event jerseys. They create a new jersey for each race that they do, specific to that city (i.e. “Austin Rocks” jerseyfor the AT&T Crits in Austin).

With regards to Tyler Hamilton, I’m happy for the guy. I don’t have the animosity towards Hamilton that a lot of American racing fans do – mostly because I got into the sport after he had already been suspended. But the guy served his suspension, clawed his way back and just got arguably one of the biggest wins of his career.  I would love to go to the Tour of California next year (I went in 2007 and had a blast) and see Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis riding for Rock Racing.