Monthly Archives: February 2009

Revenge is a dish best served cold – Lance Armstrong stiff-arms jerk on TOC climb


Last week I was at the Tour of California, but I didn’t attend any of the climbs. However, I wish I would have been on the climb where the pics above happened. The runner is doing a poor Didi Senft impersonation (but with a doping twist).

I don’t know what I like best about this series of photos: the fact that Lance manages to push the guy into the snowbank while riding in a peloton on a serious climb, or the laughter of the other members of the pack  witnessing the action (look at the smile on Andy Schelck’s face).

I’ve always been a fan of Lance, but I’ve been really impressed with the way he’s handled all the tough questions during his comeback. As proof, check out the smack-down he puts on the British reporter in the video below.

Tour of California Report – How good are the pros? VERY GOOD

LEvi Leipheimer at the end of his winning ride

LEvi Leipheimer at the end of his winning ride

So Kevin, Stephen and I were in the Santa Ynez valley to catch stage 6 of the Tour of California (the Solvang time trial) on Friday. This trip was a mix of business, riding and catching the race. Kevin did a great write-up of the trip, so I’ll focus on just how good professional cyclists really are.

Just under 1K from the finish

Just under 1K from the finish

We picked a great spot at the 1K-to-go point of the time trial course to watch all the riders. The speeds they were carrying down the hill (and up the other side) were truly impressive. The hum of their solid disc rear wheels reminded you how fast they were going (40 mph+) as did the California Highway Patrol cars that lead/followed each rider.

Levi Leipheimer won the stage with a time of 30:40 (averaging 29.3 mph over the 15 mile course). That’s a very impressive performance, but I had no idea how impressive until Saturday.

On Saturday we rode the time trial course (same route the pros rode on Friday). I was shocked at how technical the course was. Lots of turns, gradual climbs and rough pavement. There is even a steep little hill on Ballard Canyon that really forces you to get out of the saddle and hammer it – followed by a technical little descent. All three of us came blow-away that someone could average almost 30 mph riding that course. I’ve ridden with pros before, but now I have even more respect for their skill and power on the bike. There is a reason these guys get paid to ride bikes . . . because they are good.

Gustav Larsson took 3rd in Solvang

Gustav Larsson took 3rd in Solvang

So I did a little more research to find out just how good they are. Gustav Larsson took 3rd in the TT and posted his power data – unreal.  He finished in 30:57 and average 486 watts. Given that Larsson is 80kg, that’s over 6 watts per kilogram for the 15 mile effort.

Gustav Larsson Solvang Time Trial power profile

Gustav Larsson Solvang Time Trial power profile

I’ve posted Larsson’s power profile for the stage above. My peak 1 minute effort is about 500 watts, so the thought of someone maintaining that level for a 30 minute, semi-technical ride is incredible.

The Greatness of The Office

I am a unabashed fan of NBC’s The Office – not a huge surprise since one of my favorite movies is Office Space. As a big fan, I loved the video above. The Office is one of those shows where I could watch the same episode on TBS reruns 10 times and still laugh.

Not to say that life at ThinkCash is like The Office; however, we did have a meeting earlier this week that reminded me of the clip above.

VO2-to-the-max: Performing a cycling VO2 max test

moments after removing my "head-gear" and breathing tube

moments after removing my "head-gear" and breathing tube

Last night I went to the sports science lab at TCU to take a cycling-specific VO2 max test. There is a kinesiology grad student who is doing her thesis on the impact of high-intensity sprint training on endurance performance for cyclists. She’s looking for “highly-trained” cyclists so the first step for a subject is taking a VO2 max test to determine if they meet the minimum requirements.

The first question I got from a ThinkCash colleague was “What is VO2 max?”  It’s basically the maximum amount of oxygen that can be used by the body for maximal sustained power output (exercise). Since the body uses oxygen to convert food into energy (ATP), the more oxygen you can consume, the more energy, power, or speed you can produce. VO2max defines an endurance athlete’s performance ceiling, or the size of his or her “engine.” Research has shown that VO2max significantly determines performance in endurance-based events such as cycling, triathlon, running, and Nordic skiing.

The test started with height, weight, body fat measurements. I clocked-in at 5’10”, 151 pounds and 8.5% body fat. She said my body fat puts me on the “lean” side of healthy males (9%-15%) and on the high side of elite endurance athletes (who are typically 5%-9%).

The next step was to jump on the Velotron stationary bike and start the VO2 max test. You wear a head piece for the test that holds a tube in your mouth. All of your breathing is done through the tube (your nose is clipped) so the computer can measure how much oxygen you’re taking in and how well it is utilized.

another rider (not me) taking a VO2 max test (notice the breathing tube)

another rider (not me) taking a VO2 max test (notice the breathing tube)

The test starts out with 4 minutes at 100 watts, then every 4 minutes it jumps up 50 watts. After 250 watts the resistance jumps 35 watts every 2 minutes. The goal is to hang on as long as you can and ride to exhaustion.

I didn’t realize I could have brought my ipod for the test (I always wear my ipod when I ride indoors), but one of the grad students had a boombox with a great 80’s mix, so that helped. The test started easy enough; however, breathing through the tube is very unnatural. It makes you accutely aware of your breathing and you can easily lose focus on the goal, which is to keep turning the pedals. Once I hit 250 watts I really started to notice the tube and breathing solely through my mouth became very uncomfortable.  Once I hit the 355 watt segment, I pretty much knew that would be the last one, but I was determined to finish it. Once the machine jumped to 390 watts . . . I was done.

So what were my numbers? My VO2 max was 61.2 ml/kg/min. The minimum to qualify for the test is 55, so I passed. How does 61.2 measure up? I wasn’t really sure, so I turned to Google (UPDATE: In my  last test my VO2 max was 65.2).

VO2 Max Table

VO2 Max Table

I found the table above first. According to this I score off-the-charts (above excellent). However, I kept digging for a more trustworthy cycling source.

cycling-specific VO2 max table

cycling-specific VO2 max table

Next I found the table above on Velonews.  This indicated that I’m on the high-end of “trained” cyclists and at the low-end of qualifying for “elite”. Considering I’ve never won a race – I know I’m not elite. So I tried to find VO2 max levels for professional cyclists . . .

Highest ever recorded:

VO2 Max - 92.5

Greg Lemond: VO2 Max - 92.5

How about another Tour de France champion:

VO2 Max - 88.0

Miguel Indurain: VO2 Max - 88.0

What about the world’s most famous cyclist?

VO2 Max - 85.0

Lance Armstrong: VO2 Max - 85.0

So needless to say, the Texas race scene (let alone the professional ranks) don’t have to worry about me anytime soon.

What are the next steps? I agreed to take part in the study (it lasts 6 weeks), but I won’t start until early March since I have some business travel the next couple weeks. I’ll post more details on the actual program when I start.

Also, if you are a cyclist in the Fort Worth area that would like to participate – they still need subjects. To learn more, just send an email to




Arundel Bike’s A Monday In Hell

So my buddies at Arundel finally finished their Jorgen Leth tribute with A Monday In Hell.

Dave-O, the protagonist of the film and the namesake of the best bicycle bottle cage in the world, does some pretty impressive motorpacing in the film (as well as show off his ‘cross skills).

I get a big kick out of the film because most of it was filmed around my neighborhood and the country roads that I ride/train on – I think I spotted Old Weatherford Road, 377, Aledo Road, and Encanto?

For those of you curious about the “scooter” used for the motorpacing, that is known as a derny. A derny is basically a  motorized bicycle built specifically  for motor-paced track cycling events such as during six-day and Keirin racing or motor-paced road races. It is powered by a two-stroke engine and by pedaling through a fixed gear. The combination allows for smooth acceleration and slowing, important when Dave-O is riding an inch away from the derny’s rear wheel. A coupling between the motor and the back wheel ensures the derny will not stop dead if the motor seizes (also important when your following behind at 40 mph on a carbon fiber bicycle).

Dave-O Carbon Bottle Cage

Dave-O Carbon Bottle Cage

The guys at Arundel are big supporters of the Fort Worth cycling scene and just good guys. Additionally, they make some of the most kick ass accessories in the bike biz – including the best bottle cages in the business and the best saddle bag out there (for both clincher and tubie riders).

A-Rod did ‘roids? Time for the All-Drug Olympics


So Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking steroids during his stint with the Texas Rangers. I’m not surprised, I pretty much excepted it. However, I’m tired of talking about drugs in sports. As a cycling fan, I’m accustom to finding out that a favorite athlete’s performance was tainted by performance enhancing drugs. Cycling has the toughest testing program of any sport and the drugs themselves can have a huge impact on performance, so its natural (although unfortunate) that many professional cyclists are caught cheating.

SNL's All Drug Olympics Skit

SNL's All Drug Olympics Skit

The one thing that keeps a smile on my face whenever steroid/drug news breaks is the SNL sketch above. Click on the image for the video of the “All-Drug Olympics”. As obscene as the idea is, I think that’s basically what occurred in baseball for the better part of a decade.

Dennis, getting ready to lift now is Sergei Akmudov of the Soviet Union. His trainer has told me that he’s taken antibolic steroids, Novacaine, Nyquil, Darvon, and some sort of fish paralyzer. Also, I believe he’s had a few cocktails within the last hour or so.

Time to book a ticket to Bogota .  . .

Bonding with your son through Star Wars – and the hilarious Star Wars “Troops” fan film

Grant, my oldest and only boy, is about to turn 4. He and I have always been close – for better or worse he truly is a “mini-me” in both looks, personality and interests. However, our paths have converged even more over the last couple of months as Grant has discovered Star Wars.

I’m amazed at some of the difficult concepts of the films he is able to comprehend and his recall of minute details from the films. Every night when I get home from work Grant asks me Star Wars questions for a solid hour or two. It always starts:

Daddy, I have a question for you.

Then it’s Star Wars questions on various topics

Why is Chewbacca a Wookie? Does a Wookie have claws?  What planet are Wookies from?

What color is Anakin’s lightsaber? Why did Anakin turn bad and become Darth Vader?

He’s only seen a couple of the movies so far (I’ve been careful to skip through parts that I think he might not be ready for) and some of the Clone Wars cartoons. However, even without seeing all the movies, he us an unlimited number of questions.

A few days ago he asked me:

Daddy, what was the name of the planet with the big, tall, white aliens where they made all the clones?

I knew exactly what he was talking about (it’s from Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones), but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of the planet. So this morning we’re having breakfast and Grant says:

Daddy, remember that planet we couldn’t remember, the one with all the clones? I think it was Kamino.

The planet Kamino of the Outer Rim

The planet Kamino of the Outer Rim

He was right, it was Kamino. I was stunned. The fact that he was able to remember the name the of the planet (only mentioned a couple times in the movie) from a movie he saw once, over a month ago . . . makes me realize I need to be very careful of what I say because he doesn’t forget anything.

So how have we “bonded” through Star Wars besides our “fireside chats”? Well:

  • We play the Star Wars memory game at
  • Every night we have a lightsaber fight (Grant uses his toy light saber and I use the lightsaber app on my iPhone).
  • We play with Grant’s Star Wars figurines in his room. However, for some reason my team never wins.
  • We play “Natural Star Wars” which in Grant-speak is Star Wars role-playing. Every member of our family picks a character they want to be. Lauren is almost always Princess Leah, but for some reason my beautiful wife Jess is always forced to play the role of the homely Aunt Beru
  • We are both fascinated with Boba Fett
Boba Fett the bounty hunter

Boba Fett the bounty hunter

Why is Boba Fett significant? I literally grew-up with Star Wars. My parents owned a couple video stores when I was growing up, so I would often go to the store after school and watch movies in the back. I have literally seen the original Star Wars (Episode IV for the die-hards) probably 200 times. I had Star Wars toys, bed sheets, lunch box, I went as an Ewok for Halloween one year, etc. etc.

For some reason all boys of my generation had a fascination with Boba Fett, even though he was a minor character in the original trilogy. There was something about Boba Fett that was cool, but you couldn’t really put your finger on it. Grant hasn’t even seen The Empire Strikes Back yet, so his only exposure to Boba Fett was literally a couple minutes in Return of the Jedi, but he is easily his favorite character. He constantly has questions about Boba Fett and would rather play with that figurine over any other.  I guess it’s a case of like father, like son.

These last couple months have been a blast and really make me look forward to finding new things that Grant and I enjoy doing together as he gets older.

I didn’t want this to become a fan-boy-geek-out-on-Star-Wars-post, but it kind of became that. Therefore, I decided to include the video above. Troops is a hilarious Star Wars fan film mockumentary that is essentially TV’s  Cops for the Star Wars universe. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, but (unfortunately for my wife) it doesn’t end up good for Aunt Beru . . . enjoy.

Super Duds – One of the best Super Bowls ever and some of the worst Super Bowl commericals ever

In keeping with my tradition of reviewing Super Bowl commercials (as someone who has produced a couple  Super Bowl spots) I watched last night’s spots with great interest. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. This was the worst group of Super Bowl commercials in recent memory. Given the current economic troubles, I understand companies not wanting to spend a lot of money producing a spot. However, if you are paying $3 million for the airtime, make sure it’s something people will remember. In general, the commercials were uninspiring as a whole. I felt like I could have been watching NBC on any regular night of prime time – instead of watching the most anticipated block of programming of the entire year.

The only spot that really stood out for me was the commercial featuring Ed McMahon and MC Hammer (two celebrities that have had some serious financial problems). Cash4Gold typically runs very poorly produced spots in a direct-response manner (cheap airtime on cable networks, late nights, etc.) so I was surprised to see them during the big game. The only problem is, for a consumer totally unfamiliar with Cash4Gold, I could see how they would think that the entire spot was a parody. Monthly Visitors Monthly Visitors shows that had ~360,00 unique visitors in December. It will be interesting to check the data in a couple months and see how big a lift they receive from the Super Bowl.