For those of you who don't know, Texas is getting absolutely soaked with rain. The rivers and streams are overflowing. Some of my bike routes are not passable because of the low water crossings. It is very different from how Texas normally is. It has rained everyday at least once for weeks and weeks. The forecast for the next week is more of the same. I hope it lets up on Sunday for the race in San Antonio.
I managed to get out for a short ride tonight when the rain stopped. It felt good to get out on the bike. I put on the new tires I will race with on Sunday - Veloflex Pave. Anne G. from Michigan told me when I got a set of the Pave for the retro roadie that they were the best rolling clinchers on the market. I was skeptical, but I am absolutely convinced that these things kick ass. If any of you out there race clinchers, you should give these a go. You will be able to tell a difference.
I was looking to do a road trip somewhere this year before the next Bug comes along in November. I have decided to head to Grand Rapids, MI to do the Priority Health Crit and to meet and hopefully ride with a few bloggers in the area such as Oldman. It should be fun. The earlier plan was to take a trip with my pal Sully but his balls came unattached at some point this year. Find your balls Sully. I miss ya, BRUTHA!
I have been at a sales meeting the first two days of this week. Luckily, it is in Austin. We have about 26 commercial and technical people in town to discuss the path forward for the rest of the year. I think having to get up early and drive home late is harder than being out of town at a sales meeting. We have 1/2 day of meetings tomorrow and then things will be back to normal on Thursday.
This moring we did paintball for a team building exercise. I had a blast. The first game I ran out of ammo and basically had to surrender after I had advanced most of the way to their flag. CRAP. The next two games I got my ass kicked. In one game it only took 30 seconds. My gun jammed and the guy I was firing at didn't hesitate. DEAD! The last game I advanced pretty far but got hit on the hand and that counts as a kill too. Oh well. That was my first time playing paintball and I thought it was pretty cool.
Despite the meeting, my morning training this week has been productive. I plan to do a road race in San Antonio on Sunday. It is 30 miles, which is about 15 miles further than I am used to racing. It should be interesting. The following weekend I may go to Dallas for the Matrix Challenge crit. Or, I may go back to San Antonio for the second race in the series if the first turns out to be worthwhile. We shall see.
I headed out this morning to ride with the guys at Southwest Cycle Sport. The Sunday ride is typically 40-50 miles at a moderate pace. I had the drive train issue that I posted about a few days ago, it has been raining daily, and my dad is in town, so all of my riding this week was on a Spinner. So, today I wanted a nice long productive ride. Would I get that?? FUCK NO! 25 minutes into the ride I was feeling great. Then PSSSSSSSHHHH. Flat. I pulled off to change the tire and I saw (felt) that I hit something on the edge of the tire which resulted in a pinch flat. I am not sure what it was but it sounded metal. The tire was abraided, but not really damaged. The other 5 guys waited for me to change the tire. We were off again. 10 yards down the road I started to tell Pete a story and PSSSSSHHHHHH. I pulled over and there was a tear in the tire. I hit something that went not only through the tire, but through the rim strip underneath. They are building a mall in the area and the sharp debris on the road is just horrible. I guess it was just not my day. I called my wife and told the guys to have a good ride. For the next 30 minutes I sat at a picnic table just off the road waiting for my sag wagon. Sighhh :(
Not much going on this week. Training as been OK. I substituted a ride with a run on Wednesday and am regretting it now. Running requires a whole different set of muscles and I am a bit sore now. But, it was a kick ass workout for sure. It was on my interval night. It is pretty easy to get your HR up while running compared to biking.
My dad is visiting this weekend. I picked him up at the airport today. We are now back at my house and he is already sleeping in the chair. I don't see him that much anymore - he lives in Pennsylvania. When I do I realize how old he is getting. Time flies it seems.
Though I consider myself a pretty good wrench on the bike, I had a problem I couldn't solve. I couldn't get the front derailleur dialed in on the Fort after I built it up with parts from the other bike. The issue was that when on the big chain ring and the large cog on the rear cassette, the chain would want to jump down to the small chain ring in the front. No matter how many times I tried to adjust it, I had the same issue. So, I started looking at it and figured it was a chain alignment issue with the cassette. Southwest Cycle Sport talked to SRAM and it was determined that I had the wrong bottom bracket for the TruVativ crank I was using. The TV crank that I use has a shallow seat on the ISIS bottom bracket. The TV bottom brackets take the shallow seat into account. The FSA ISIS bottom bracket that I was using didn't take the shallow seat into account and was holding the crank arms too far out. That was what was causing the drive train alignment issue. So FYI - ISIS is not ISIS. It is best to match the brand of the crank and bottom bracket. They threw a TruVativ Giga Pipe SL on the FORT and voila! Perfect alignment.
I had my Blackberry set to go off at 5am. For those of you who don't know me, I am sort of obsessed with being early for things. My wife makes fun of me for it. I woke up to an alarm, but it wasn't my alarm, it was my wife's alarm going off at 5:45am. FUCK! There is a function on my Blackberry that allows you to disable the alarm on the weekend even though you have it set to go off. I guess I turned that function on at some point. So I got out of bed, buttered up my chamois, and got the kit on. I hit the kitchen and downed a bowl of risotto and a bagel and made up some Cytomax. I went to the garage and opened the door and it was raining pretty hard. PERFECT!! I have waited for months for this race and it is pouring. I packed the car and was off to my race which was at 8:15am. I live about 30 minutes from downtown Austin, so I was still in decent shape. I was about 5 miles from my house when I realized I forgot my wallet which has my racing license in it. So I turned around and flew back home got my wallet and was back on my way. Keep in mind that most people still wouldn't have left if they were me, but I am really starting to worry about time because I am mental about being late.
I got to the registration table at 7:15am. I had preregistered so I just had to pick up my packet. They told me that the 5A race that was at 7:30am was to be combined with my 5B race at 8:15. Perfect! Now I could have a good warm up which I was worried about, because there isn't really any good area for warming up downtown. The rain had quit by about 7:30am, but downtown was absolutely soaked. The corners were very very slippy and I got squirrely a few times even during warm-up. I have to admit that I am not a fan of riding in the wet let alone racing in it. To make matters worse, I was running slick tires. It escaped me to change to my tires with some directional tread due to the fact that it might rain. BRILLIANT!
I ended up on the outside of the front row at the start line. This happened just by chance because as I was coming through to the start line during warm-up, the official jumped out and stopped people at the line. So that was good luck for me. They told me that there were 43 people registered for the combined race, but I didn't think there were that many on the line.
Inner thoughts at the start line.
We were off and hit the first corner. Everyone was fairly cautious through the corner and then accelerated onto the straight which was slightly up hill. The corner at the top of the rise was the one that I was sliding on in warm-up. I was in about 6th place. I hit the corner and slid and went way wide almost clipping a car with hay bails around it. I lost at least 5 places. I came through the next two corners ok and then back through the start line in about 11th or 12th place. I hit the corner after the start and slid again and went off the course outside of the orange cones and had to come back through. I lost another 5 or so places. At this point I am saying to myself, "Dude, you are going to kill yourself. This is just insane!" On the second lap someone went down behind me and on the 4th lap someone else went down behind me. After the first two laps, the field split into 3 groups and some stragglers. I was in the third group which consisted of about 6 riders. We were all just trying to get through the corners without incident and pushing it when possible on the straights. Everyone had a different preferred line on the corners, so when our group would get to the corners we would all split up and go to our "survival line" and then fall back in order on the straight.
College kids seem to have a lot of energy. This dude from A&M was in my group. The race was won by a U of Texas dude. I think the 14 years they have on me makes a difference. HA!
As the race continued, it was obvious to me that I was the strongest in our group on the uphill grade part of the course. However, at the top of the grade was the corner that I was having a hard time with so I could never really use it to my benefit. As we got inside of 5 to go we picked up the pace a bit. At 2 to go I almost went down in the corner before the start line when my rear wheel slid out. I looked like a sprint car going around the corner and really don't know how I stayed up. It was enough to open a small gap with my group. About 1/2 way through 2 to go the lead group was coming up on us so we gave them plenty of room to go through. As they went through the finish and we came through right after them with 1 to go they let loose a pile of streamers that got entangled all over us so we did the last lap with 10 feet of colored streamers trailing behind us. Great thinking on the organizer's part.
A video of my group coming through the start/finish. I am in the blue and white. I didn't feel as in control on the drops in the wet, so I stayed on the hoods all day.
The result of the race was 17th place out of 28. I honestly think I would have done better if it had been dry, but everyone had to deal with the wet conditions, so who knows. It didn't rain anymore on Saturday so the course dried up for the faster races which was cool. I am assuming that the entry number was low because of the rain. They had expected up to 100 Cat. 5 races and had registered 43 as of that morning. I am not sure why only 28 showed at the start. However, there were riders from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin making this a pretty good field. I am also happy to see that our Thursday Night Crit pace is on par with a large regional crit pace. All in all it was a good time and a good experience. I am happy to have done it and to have escaped with all of my flesh still intact.
My biggest fan - The Bug.
They decided to have the P/1/2 women's race with the Cat. 3 men due to low entry numbers. It was an exciting race to watch for sure. The 3 main contenders in the women's race, Jen McRae, Alyson Brandt and Shontell Gauthier battled it out like champs and finished in the top 8 overall in the race. At the line it was Jen McRae with a blazing sprint to take the race. She is phenomenal.
The P/1/2 men's race was fast and furious. With 8 to go there was a 3 man break consisting of Sean Sullivan (Toyota United), Mark Hekman (A&F) and Phil Wikoff (HealthCoach) that had a 14 second gap. The AEG/Toshiba team was chasing like there was no tomorrow to give their sprinter Franco Travieso a shot at the sprint. They pulled it off in text book fashion catching the break on the bell lap. Franco did not disappoint his team and took the win with one of the most convincing sprints I have ever seen. He just threw it down and nobody had an answer for his speed. Fantastic racing.
The weather looked good around lunchtime. Nice and sunny and around 90 degrees. I got to the track at about 5:10pm for my race which usually starts around 6:20pm. I did the same warm-up I did last time which was basically 3 laps down the road starting with some spinning, then some accelerations and then a few standing sprints. Great. All warmed up and full of Cytomax, I was now ready to race. I looked up and a huge black cloud bank was rolling in and was sure to ruin the nice calm sunny day that the Cat 3/4 race just got to enjoy. Darn.
I lined up in the second row at the start. We rolled out and I think the pace on the first lap was a bit slower than the last race I did there at the beginning of May. After the first lap I was about mid pack and not feeling too bad. Each lap is 0.8 miles. The second lap was more of the same, the pace was reasonable and I was feeling pretty good. At the start of the third lap, the wind started to howl. Since the track is very curvy, we were into the wind about 1/2 the time. On the third lap I decided to move up. We came around the turn near registration (left turn) and the pack slowed a bit so I decided to go. There is a short straight between the registration turn and the hairpin turn to the right which would be coming up. I went from about 15th place to 2nd place. When I came flying out of the hairpin and popped into second place I was a bit shocked. I had never been in second place before. I got on the wheel of the guy in first and it stayed that way for almost a lap. Then I decided to take the lead so I went around and he jumped on my wheel. I looked back and the pack was right there. I quickly found out that being in the front with the wind was a MUTHA! I stayed out front for the next lap. After that lap I started to feel the burn in a big way and my HR was screaming. I slowed a bit but nobody was willing to come around. So, I put my head down and kept going on the front. After another half a lap, the pack was still there and after the full lap, I was absolutely cooked. If I were a big truck, there would have been black smoke shooting out of my ass. As I started to struggle about 6 people came around and I couldn't go with them. I just didn't have anything left. I did one more lap and limped off the track defeated. I figured I would just save it for Saturday morning at the AT&T Crit rather than do laps by myself in the wind.
The time off the bike during my travels over the past 3 weeks definitely took a toll. I did the best I could with working out on gym cardio equipment while I was gone, but it just isn't the same. However, it was a positive experience. I had never lead a race before, so that was pretty damn cool. It was also a good learning experience because I used it all up and others were very happy to let me do so. I need to be smarter on Saturday. I do feel like I pussed out by limping off the track, but at the end of the day I didn't have enough left to be competitive.
I stayed to watch a part of the P/1/2 race. The skies opened up on those poor folks and they were dropping out quickly. I don't know who won, but there was a break of 4 out in front which included one of the Pro Women.
Now the goal is to get mentally prepared for Saturday and pray that it doesn't rain.
I rode after work today and it was hot out there. The thermometer in my garage said just over 90, but it was about 95 in the sun. Today was my Push workout where I push a big gear at 70 rpm all while keeping within a HR range. Fun fun. The Fort ran great again. The new cables have stretched a bit so I need to redial the deraillers. Should only take a few minutes.
I am racing the Driveway Crit on Thursday this week for the first time in over a month. I am also doing my first big race of the year on Saturday - AT&T Downtown Criterium. I wish my last two weeks of preparation wouldn't have included a trip to Asia and a nice case of food poisoning. But, it is what it is. I will just do what I can do.
It looks like The Bug may have Pink Eye. He has a doctor appointment tomorrow morning to confirm it. His poor eyes look awful, but he is in good spirits. He has been obsessed lately with running around the house without a shirt on. When he does he always wants me to take my shirt off so we can run around the house together shirtless while slapping our bellies. We have a blast.
We get a day of vacation for our birthday each year. My birthday was yesterday, so I took today off. Over the weekend, I got the new frame built up with the parts I stripped off my other frame. A few posts ago, I talked about how I went for a Wobble-Naught fitting and Kevin at KGS Bikes determined that the top tube of my frame was too long. I found another frame with the proper top tube length that was a left over from 2006, so I got a good deal on it. This morning, Kevin did all of the adjustments and got everything dialed in. I went out for a ride this afternoon and the bike felt great. The most dramatic difference in my opinion is the handling. It just carves through the corners and is very steady on the straights. I am very impressed with the final product.
Here is the frame. It is a Fort which is made in the Czech Republic (where all great frames are made - HA!).
The finished product. The only parts I changes were the wheels and the post/seat. I yanked them off of the bike I bought for my brother. It doesn't appear that he is coming back to TX afterall. I will see if I like the American Classic wheels better than the Ksyriums that I usually ride.
I rode at the Veloway today. It is a closed course that is 3.5 miles long that is only open to cyclists and roller bladers and only flows in one direction. There was nobody there today, so it was a great experience. I did two 12 minute intervals and was unbothered by traffic or people. The great thing about the Veloway is that it is full of corners which are great for crit practice.
The face of someone who hasn't been into the office in over 2 weeks.
Today we golfed with our Asian distributors and a few customers at a course about an hour from Bangkok. I was a bit worried that I would have a relapse of yesterday once I got out there, but everything went fine. My golf game is not so good, but we all had a great time. We played at the Subhapruek Golf Club, which was gorgeous. No shortage of rain in this part of the world to be sure. I head back to Texas tomorrow with connections in Tokyo and Dallas. It is going to be a long long day.
My caddie. She did a great job and stroked my ego a bit after some really bad shots. :)
Lots of water on Subhapruek.
Another scenic hole.
The group in front of us and their caddies on the green.
"I don't need no stinking John Deere like those pussy American golf course workers."
I just rolled out of bed and the shower. It is 2pm. I woke this morning at around 4am with some sort of food poisoning thing. I can't ever remember being that sick. I am still not feeling great, but between the hours of 4am and 8am, I was in the hurt locker. Not only were the uncontrollable diahrea and vomitting impossible to deal with, but the stomach cramps were a nice bonus. Such is life when you spend a week eating hot food that you can't identify.
All I can say is THANK GOD FOR OREOS! I had to eat something because my stomach was just grinding on itself. I walked to my minibar to see what was there and I saw a pack of Oreos. They have magical healing powers I think.
I can see a pharmacy across the street from my hotel so I am going to walk over and see if I can find some meds. What a fantastic day.
I have done a horrible job of taking pictures of all the cool things to see in Australia. I got here on Tuesday and am departing today (Sunday) for Bangkok. My trip here has been productive and enjoyable. I miss The Bug tremendously and can't wait to see him on Friday when I get back to Texas. My workouts have been crap but I am still doing them. Yesterday while on yet another "Lifecycle", I was tempted to swallow my iPod Nano in an effort to kill myself and end my boredom. Luckily for me there were 3 TVs going as well on the wall, one of which had good ole WWE on straight from the US. I look forward to getting back to a regular routine when I get home.
Friends of ours have recently moved to Brisbane so I got to hang out with them this weekend. Cailin, who is one of my favorite people in the world, and her husband Dave met in Hawaii where they were both at U of H, Cailin as a Professor and Dave as a Researcher. Dave is from Brisbane so when they decided they needed a change from Honolulu, they decided to look there. I met Cailin about a week after I met my wife. They had both just arrived at the University of Texas to begin work on their PhDs. Karen and I decided to meet at a bar and dragged along a few of our friends. She brought along Cailin. That was almost 10 years ago.
Here are a few pictures:
The Sydney Opera House.
The Harbor Bridge in Sydney.
Our friends Cailin and Dave.
Me and Cooper who is Cailin and Dave's son. Cooper is a few months younger than The Bug. This kid is freakin' adorable!
This was taken after about 8 or 9 beers. My head was killing me this morning. The new healthy Chris has lost all hangover tolerance.