Friday, August 29, 2008

6:15 Wednesday Ride Report

We've had nice comments about this alternative Wednesday ride from cyclists who are glad to learn of another mid-week riding opportunity or cyclists who were perhaps just getting back into riding on a regular basis.
So whether you're getting back in shape or looking for another ride to keep you in shape, think about joining us. For details about this ride’s goals, look at this Blog's Archives list (found in the right hand margin, under August "Announcing New Weekly Ride").
We had a good ride Wednesday, running into a few other SMU cyclists who said "Hey!" as they rode by. This is designed to be a flexible ride based on the skills of the riders present.
Our initial ride is a great example of that: we made a lap of the lake at a leisurely avg. speed of 13 - 14mph. The sun is usually dropping behind clouds at that time of day, and with the shade of the trees, the temperature was pleasant. After the first lap, Susan had met her goal of getting back into regular riding and went off to find some air conditioning while Lee continued for another lap moving the pace up to 17 – 18mph.

So we'll be adapting the ride to those present. We'll be out there again @ 6pm next Wednesday, beginning the ride at 6:15. See you next week!

Wednesday Ride report (The Once and Future King)

The new school year has started and I'm happy to announce that we have a new recruit for the SMU Cycling team. Samuel, of course, is dominating the boards this year up at the Superdrome and we now have someone who could do the same on the tarmac. Jeff Klein ( also a Hunt Scholar!) joined us on our Wednesday ride. It was readily apparent that he what it takes to succeed on the road. Jeff's dad rides for a strong regional team and has been thrashing his son for years (on the bike) but a bit like Taylor Phinney, youth has now surpassed experience. Kevin, Greg, Caryn and myself were happy to welcome him to SMU.

Suzanne, and others, had sent me warnings that the Dallas Police were ticketing cyclists at the lake, so we planned on being especially vigilant.

We left campus and see Jackie (in her car) lamenting that she couldn't ride with us because she now has a class. I hear it is some Ph.D foolishness or something. Caryn was passing sign language back and forth with Jackie, the meaning of which I can only guess (and Jackie, I think I have guessed right!)

We ride on to the lake, and I was telling everyone that Noah should be back with us next week and he immediately proves me wrong by riding up about 6 seconds after I make that statement.
Jeff has never been to the lake before, but he still was going to lead us out. I thought I should get up front and let him discover the route by following me, but he took the lead. There was this one puddle (before HL Hunt's house) that completely trashed our freshly cleaned bikes. I stayed on his wheel and I was there long enough to go around and take the sprint, knowing that this acceleration would probably be my last sprint victory in his company (plus I mentioned nothing about a sprint line!) I showed him where it was afterwards.

Caryn was right on our wheels, then said something to me about taking it easy, since I was still dehydrated from (choose one:)
1. e coli
2. food poisoning
3. HHH
4. Mt Scott
5. crypto
6. bike with one bottle cage
7. needing excuses

From that point and for the rest of the ride I felt horrible. I guess the excitement of a new recruit was overshadowing my illness. I didn't have enough to even make it interesting for Jeff on any climb and by the time we got to Loving, I was crushed by both Caryn and Jeff up the hill. I must say that it is rewarding to have a student with so much potential thrash us.

Props to Kevin and Greg for showing up every week. They are improving steadily and are becoming strong cyclists. Ride with those just a little stronger than you and soon you will be equally strong (we won't be in Sam or Jeff's league without a lot more work though.)

Noah is back and we are going to have him work with Samuel, Lisa, Jeff and the other students to get to the next step as a club (lots of podium finishes with a supportive student body!)

Till the next thrashing (and welcoming it)....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

HHH part 3, Mt Scott in Wichitas

Being so close to Lawton and the Wichita Mountains, we have taken the opportunity to go to Lawton and test our climbing legs with an ascent up the road to the top of this granite mass. Long considered one of the best rock climbing sites in the US, the road to the top is convenient for everyone else. The climb is just a hair under 1000 feet in 2.66 miles and averages 7% with ramps closer to 12% and one respite of 4-5%. The Wichita Wildlife Preserve is a lovely place to ride, with Longhorns and Bison roaming free in the wildlife park. A beautiful park with a very Frank LLoyd Wright style visitor center. Alas, this year, it was all we could do to muster enough ambition to do just the climb.

We parked near the mountain and met a few other cyclists who were finishing their day. They came over to talk, and one guy said his niece was attending SMU starting the next day. She was from Montana, but he did not know what school she was going to be in. One thing I forgot to mention was that a number of people commented, during the HHH, that they had seen the SMU jerseys at the lake. One guy said he saw three people in particular, who we determined to be Rob, Greg and whomever else they were with. Another said he thought all of the SMU cyclists looked good.

After putting on our sunscreen, then the last few sips of sports drink, off we go. I rode right by the turn to the mountain the first time. I was just not ready yet. We turned around and warmed up our legs for ten minutes, then we made the turn into the road. The reason it is daunting is that the first mile is the hardest part. I could only get motivated by saying "I've got to break twenty minutes"

Climbing is such a personal battle and we all have our own rhythm's to follow. I did the first 300 meters in the big ring, then dropped down to the smallest gear I had. I immediately needed all that the bike could spare, not even saving that last big cog for later. The first stretch is straight for 1/2 a mile and towards the first turn I was already arguing with myself about stopping for just a moment. Caryn would have torched me for quitting, so I kept going. She knows that I put in a big show to start, then hang on for the rest of the longer climbs. If you can get out of sight, then sometimes the battle is won. Of course, Caryn is sensible enough to not think of it as a race.

Having done the climb before, I knew that it settles down a bit, but by then you are probably in oxygen debt if you are a mere climbing mortal. It was here I had the image of Lance (or the Pirate Pantani, my daughter Katarina's most memorable cyclist) passing me, spinning effortlessly. When good climbers pass the less gifted, those suffering always look like they are trying to extract themselves from an invisible, gooey film. I felt encased in a gooey film and hoped it was not coming from my nose!

Without the miles of warm up, but still a little fresh, that first mile was over and seven minutes had passed. I feared my twenty minute ascent was lost. I felt worse now than at mile 70 at HHH. The second mile has a few moments of rest at a 4-5% grade. I looked back to see if Caryn was catching up, but the road was winding more now, so she was still out of sight. After the second mile I was at thirteen minutes, maybe I could salvage twenty minutes. Still grinding the 39 X 21, I could see where the barriers at the side of the road change, meaning the parking lot at the top was near. I was at seventeen minutes and my heart rate had to be 180. I'm watching my time on the Garmin and as I near the flat spot at the top, passing the "Parking lot" sign, where the climb flattens out I pressed the "stop" button. I realized I might have had a hundred meters of flat road,premature Garmin stoppage. The lure of stopping at 18:57 might have been too much for my itchy button pushing finger. I later looked at my last year's time that I have posted on Motion Based and I might have broken it by 10-15 seconds.

I weaved across the parking lot and stopped and leaned against this weathered granite rock and my chest was heaving and I was trying to catch my breath. Nearby tourists were asking if I was OK. Some offered water and another said they could take me back down in their van. The sun was pretty intense, I wore my gold LAS Haxial helmet with the hope it would have reflected more of the sun, but that hypothesis was dis-proven by the throbbing headache I had just acquired.

After three minutes I hear the Kysirium whir of Caryn's wheels. "What's wrong with you?" was her comment. She then spoke (without a hint of breathlessness) that the climb was pretty easy. She was glad that she had put the 12-23 cassette on her wheels and had felt so much better on the climb than last year. Her legs felt really good and she never really got her heart rate into the red zone. Caryn also commented that at moments her mind had wandered off. The carrion birds circling the granite rockpile could"have been very distracting if they decided to circle her" and her thoughts also contemplated the misfortune that the Brazilian marathoner had endured when he was attacked by that crazed, dress wearing, Jesus in a UFO, fanatic that tackled the runner at the Athens Olympics. Only after some prodding from me, Caryn had to do some subtracting to determine that she climbed it in twenty-two minutes.

Other than the vision of laboured pedal strokes, I was fixated on the numbers flashing by my Garmin and was too destroyed to even enjoy the view from the top. Can you imagine that the difference from having an enjoyable ride, up a very beautiful landscape and being utterly consumed and not seeing really any of it, is just three minutes?

The descent is odd in that the road is real steep at the top and seems to almost flatten out after 1/2 a mile, then the road undulates most of the middle, never as steep as the start or the finish. Climbing up it, the road seems very regular but the descent proves different. The last mile is steep, but why could I not rest more on those middle undulations?

Plan on including this on your HHH weekend next time it comes around!

Monday, August 25, 2008

HHH part 2

We always go to the IHOP (Wichita Falls is a culinary challenge) after the trade show. I have since ramped back my carbo loading since it is dehydration that gets to you the most. We bought a few sports drinks and went back to the MPEC center to set up the tent. There have been a few years that it was hard to avoid a fire ant mound, then you had to spend an hour to determine where the meager prevailing wind could enter the tent, to cool it down below 95 degrees. This year it was actually a pretty night. Caryn cleaned and waxed her bike then made my headset as functional as it was going to be.

In the tent she had a bean bag and I had a fold able lounge chair. Neither made for a comfortable night sleep. The next morning I went to the car at 5 am to get my gear on. I was not feeling skin suit worthy, but I heard, "I know that bike that's Scot from SMU" I immediately recognized the voice as our Lisa Marshall. She was gone before I could clamor out, since I thought it would be best if I was dressed!

We went into the MPEC to discover long bathroom lines. Most people were planning on staying awhile in the stalls, so the waits were long. A volunteer pointed to a hidden bathroom down the hall. If any of you join us next year, I will divulge the location!

We then came back to the car to finish getting ready. There I saw Lisa and her friends. They were very interested in my Klimt inspired paint on the Y-Foil. I have brought the bike to HHH the last two years with it's exotic finish, and was always shocked that it was hardly looked at. For some reason, the addition of the thematically matching carbon bars (like Cinelli's rams) seemed to be the tipping point this year.

We rode to the start after I checked my phone to see if anyone called to verify starting line position. With 30 minutes to go before the start, it isn't too hard to get right at the front. So many people get there way too early and lay their bikes down. When they arrive back at the start and lift their bikes up, a lot of room is available, if you can sneak in at that time. I saw Philip Eshelbrenner, (SMU MBA and former Meadows IT minion) We talked for a moment about our rides (he races his inline skates and rides with the PBR)

The flyover finally occurs (T 38's, pilots in training) and Philip said the flyover took so long to occur last year because a news helicopter would not get out of the airspace (pilots in training remember). As he was telling me this, the cannon went off. Caryn, Philip and myself must have each jumped a foot! That was LOUD!. Being so close to the front, the pack immediately moved. I was so shocked by the thunderous retort that I fumbled into my pedals and then we were off.

The first mile is so dangerous due to the overpass and the possibility of riders massing behind you. Some are wanting to escape right then, others are so fearful about clipping in that the pace is very disparate between all the people. We could not get away from a guy making war cries, whooping it up and various other unintelligible mutterings. The odd thing was that spectators were responding with similar hollering. I guess the adrenaline affects people differently.

After four or five miles we saw our first crash, but nothing gruesome. We saw a homeless man laying in the middle of the street a few years ago that I would swear was dead. He was hit by the pack after stepping into the street. Also at this time we saw John Sadowski of Bicycle stuff, the guy who took the cheesecake photos of Jackie and Rob at Hot Rocks.

We paced ourselves at about a 24-26mph pace. The first ten miles are on a straight highway (think Northwest Highway but flat.) If you get caught up with the overly ambitious that are hugging the center stripe or making center line violations, then the possibility of catastrophe increases. I have done that stretch at a 28-32 mph pace (leading a pack) before and paid for it later. The first 45 miles were easy, a lot of groups, but the stretch from the 100 mile 100K split to Electra, I spent too much pulling the pack. I think I passed Philip here, but wasn't sure. (He wasn't wearing SMU colors, so he blended in)

We were on a good pace 24avg to this point, then Caryn's back and hands were stung by the chip seal on that 45-52 mile mark, and that had some influence on the rest of the ride. We stopped at 50 and downed some cookies (I even had a pickle, but none of that green poison) She stretched her back out, and I saw an SMU rider go past. He is an alum, I will have to go in my archive and figure out who he was, but I saw him on his cell and waived as we went on. We did not seem to be able to catch a group for a while, probably not consistently till 75. Caryn' s back was so sore that two groups went by at 58 and 65, but I was the loyal domestique and towed her till the back wasn't so painful.

At 80 a group went by that she knew we had to get in, since the dreaded turn into the wind at 84, 85 was coming up. Once in the friendly confines of the peloton I was free wheeling a lot, easy going it was. Caryn was working it hard and stayed near the front. We were nearing the home stretch and I felt a slight bump on my rear wheel, then the sound of a rider crashing behind.

I stopped to check on what happened, and the guy said the rider behind me freaked when I stood up to climb a rise and went across his bow. Oops. He had a bloody elbow but otherwise was OK. Not at fault but feeling a bit responsible, off I went after Caryn. The next 4 miles are where a few hills are, and I worked harder than I had all day to catch back up. I passed 40 or so riders and was going into the red zone, but I caught up. Caryn had to stop and stretch her back again, then I pulled her (mostly) for the last 10 on the highway into Wichita Falls.

We looked at the moving clock at 100 miles and were were two minutes plus slower than last year, (4:47 to 4:44) Overall a good ride. Should I do the masters 100K next year? I always say I will, then opt for the "fun" ride with Caryn.

During the ride and after, I heard so many comments about my bike that I had too wonder what made it more visible this year. Why was Gary blind to so much bling?

I would have liked a post ride, post-mortem with Philip, Tony, Kevin, Lisa and anyone else that was there. We packed up the tent and the headed north. We are always too destroyed to drive back the same day, and a 10-12% grade climb awaited us in Lawton.

The next post, let me tell you about our ride the next day, 2.66 miles up Mount Scott in the Wichita Mountains, 18:57 minutes that is more painful than all of the HHH!

Announcing a New Weekly Ride

This new, weekly ride is an alternative to the current Wednesday evening ride. This will be a leisurely, fair-weather ride around White Rock Lake, setting the pace by the least-skilled rider.

Our goals are to develop skills, friendships and add another opportunity for fitness during the week. This ride is a work in progress, so we'll be paying attention to your feedback as we go forward. Pay attention to this blog as we go forward for any updates regarding this ride.

WHERE: We'll meet at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake (it's #8 on this map;topmap )

WHEN: Wednesday nights at 6pm (while it's still light out!) -we'll begin the ride at 6:15.

WHAT: The distance will be one lap around White Rock -if you want to do more, that's fine and some of us may join you in doing so.

For more information call:

Susan Moore 972-345-5600 or Lee Arning 21-768-4090

HHH weekend part 1

I e-mailed the people we thought were going. The goals many had for the season seemed to dissipate at the last minute. More about that later.

My new Chris King headset for the Y-foil arrived (just in time or so I thought). We went over to the Uptown bike store and despite no bikes in the service bay, they said they had no time to do it. It looked like he just did not want to by how slow it was. Over to RBM Garland where Caryn's eye batting usually gets her discounts and the head of the line treatment. Today, no such luck since they were way backed up with repairs. We decided the Stronglight had one more ride left in it. The car packed and the bikes racked up, off to Wichita Falls we go. Without fail, we always seem to get going at rush hour, so last years traffic snarled route through Southlake and Roanoke was discarded in favor of the traffic snarled route to Denton.

It is always exciting to see all of the bikes loaded up in vehicles heading up to Wichita Falls. This year we seemed to see fewer for some reason. We got to Wichita Falls too late to see any of the crits, they were obviously just ending as we got there. The parking by the MPEC facility was abundant for once. Inside, the expo was inhabited by most of the same exhibitors as in the past.

I preparation of the heat on the ride, we usually get acclimated by driving with no A/C on in the car (and sleeping in the tent.) Because of this, I was really looking forward to getting a beer. Two years ago, we were so spent due to the drive (and having stepped in a fire ant mound) that even the Coors light tasted great. Sometimes even the most modest things can be appreciated in the right environment. This year it was a Shiner Bock.

The Kucharik clothing exhibitors seem to bring the same items year after year. If you have a longing for some neon yellow or fluorescent pink jerseys, this is the place to go. One exhibitor was showing off the new Campagnolo 11 speed Super Record gruppo. The 75th anniversary pin was a nice little bit of swag. The levers are now SRAM, Dura-Ace like in that the hoods are higher for more leverage during climbing. The chain was made thinner and stronger, according to Campy, to accomodate more cogs in the same width as 10 speed. Go to to read all the buzz (pro/con) about the new stuff. I'm still happy with Record 9 speed myself.

So we go outside to the service bays, where Shimano has a repair center for those last minute quick fixes. We were going to see if the replacement of the headset would be within the realm of what is doable by these guys. The face we see wrenching for Shimano is Gary Smith, a local fixture on the roads around Dallas for many years. We never got along real well, something to do with his infatuation with Caryn. He has 14 bikes, but the silly part is that he has color matched Assos clothing for each bike. Canary yellow bike? Canary yellow Assos jerseys and shorts. Blue bike? ditto. When I was putting my y-foil together he was always making disparaging comments about it, and still mentions "old carbon" etc whenever we see him. Should I have expected some positive comments about my bike from him or about the sharp SMU kit? He went out of his way to act like he did not notice. The bike now looks so good he can't really say anything, so I guess silence is the best I could hope for.

More to follow...

Friday, August 22, 2008

US Open Triathlon

I know its not a cycling event, but the US Open Triathlon is coming to Dallas on Sunday Oct 5. There's two distances, Olympic and Sprint. Both have a 40K bike leg, but the Olympic has a longer swim and run.

One of the unique things about this race is that the bike is a point-to-point race (usually they're a loop that takes you back to your transition area). The bike portion starts at Joe Pool lake and heads into downtown Dallas, finishing at the American Airlines center. This creates some additional logistical challenges, but should be a great experience flying into downtown!

Many top-level professional triathletes race in this event, since this is the championship event in a series and there's a $300,000 prize to be won. The cool thing about a lot of triathlons (including this one) is that you have pro's and amateurs (like me) racing in the same event.

I had planned to do this event last year, but had to cancel due to an injury. I'm signed up again, so hopefully 2008 will be a good one. I'm probably not fast enough to place in my age-group, but I'll try to set a PR.

If you haven't been to watch a triathlon before, I would encourage you to come see this one. The best place for spectators is going to be near the transition area and finish line at American Airlines Center. You'll be able to see the racers come in off the bike and start and finish the run. Again, this is a national, pro-event, so there's a lot of energy and excitement.

More details here:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Results from Collegiate and Elite event

To see the results look at this page. It is unfortunate that other schools were too terrified to face Samuel.

Next year I want to see that he has a few team

President of SMU club Samuel Weyand

I just read this on

This is an unbiased report (I guess, since it isn't from us.) I'm proud of him for all of his work.

Two amazing performances posted by Mike D. on 8/17/2008 10:05:00 AM.
First, how about Yo (Craig) Erickson's 12.04 200m for 1st seed in the elite sprints and 1.10.25 kilo for 2nd seed and only 0.45 slower than 1st? So why is this so amazing? Yo is 51 years old! Is it any wonder that Yo is the reigning regional masters 50+ 500m champion? I cast my vote for Yo as top masters trackie. Next, how about Sam Weyand's 11.57 200m? Just a year ago Sam was doing 14's and racing against little kids and old guys like me. Now, he's right there with the best in the region. I cast my vote for Sam as most improved elite trackie.

Friday, August 15, 2008


So, I'm up here in Arkansas at Lake Ouachita (don't ask me to pronounce that) for the weekend. My wife is going to crystal dig for a couple of days.

First I was going to bring my road bike, then I was going to bring my mountain bike, but in the end I took neither as I decided to do activities with my kids instead.

I'm kind of regretting it now, because there are some serious hills here and fast descents and it would have been a wicked weekend of riding (though a bit dangerous - all the cars are moving at 60 mph on these one lane roads).  

But since I was ill this past week and zapped of my strength (though I still cycled to work all but one day) I thought it better to chill.

For those inclined, there looks to be some great cycling out here.  It's kind of deserted and stuck in a 1970's time warp, but the terrain is awesome and the weather is a welcome relief.

Keep riding!

An evening at White Rock Lake

Recovering from an IT-band injury, I've taken the last couple of weeks off running and cycling, but after several very long weeks at work and self-denial of the joys of cycling, I made it out to the lake for an easy-pace late ride last night.

I'm starting back slow (to aid recovery), so I took things at a very mild pace (although I did not bring any Dostoevsky or Foucault to apparently was fashionable on the 'Hot Rocks' ride). I did take the time to enjoy the sunset at the lake, milder temperatures, and a light protein-rich supper provided by the swarms of gnats congregating on the west side of the lake. Why do they prefer the west side? Maybe the upscale 'vibe' of Lakewood over Eastlake?

As it got darker, I switched on my Cygolite LED headlight....boy, I like this light. I often have cyclists move off to the side when I come up behind them with this light on....maybe they think I'm a car, or maybe they've heard of my bike-handling skills and just don't want to take a chance.

The only problem with running a light this bright at the lake during the warmer months, is that it acts as a magnet for every bug within sight of its seductive glow.

I realized last night that most of my rides are 'training' rides, and that I don't notice the scenery much....don't worry, I wont lapse into some sappy 'stop and smell the roses' routine.....oops...too late. Hopefully once work settles down in september, I'll be able to join a few club rides again.


Wednesday Ride report

It wasn't really that hot!

Michael V, Caryn, Kevin, Greg and Tony rode the usual route, save for Tony and Michael's three trips up the last Loving Hill. Just as we rode on Williamson Dr. (during our warm up to the lake) a Mirage rider rode by us, telling Michael we were clogging up the lane. No hello, how is it going, etc. Typical small minded 'tude by the storm troopers of the "Evil Empire" as Caryn likes to call them.

Kevin tries to escape on the west side of the lake and it was quite the effort to catch him. If he had only waited later, but that is the part about learning what you can do, and how others respond to the challenge.

Greg's bike is making a noise and it is amazing how hard it is to determine where sounds come from when a bike is squeaking. BB Bearings, loose chainrings, a spoke, even the need for lubrication on the fork ends can be the issue. We were not able to track down the problem. I hear Signor Vangeli made it to the top of the White Rock trail hills first with Kevin again trying to get there first.

We have a good tempo ride around to where we turn on Winsted to do Loving. Caryn and I decide to leave it all out there for our ONE pass up. I started behind her and didn't catch her till the last 25 meters (she thought I sounded like I was about to die, so she let me have it.)

After Tony and Signor V do a couple more hill repeats we get our water at the boat house fountain and we return, with that little city limit sign remaining. Kevin, having been shut out all day, was ready and when it came time for that real short jump to victory, Kevin was all over it.
His victory arm pump was quite the sight!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Coaching Flyer

When we got back to the car, there were the usual flyers trapped behind the wipers. One was for a cycling and tri coach who promoted his skill measuring your watts. The first picture was of this coach with head phones exhorting a cyclist...who is wearing a SMU jersey! I would like to know who it is.

Hot Rocks

Hot Rocks has a reputation (like the Byron Nelson used to have) of bringing a rain shower to the metroplex on the day of the ride. No such luck this year. As a number of us are readying for the pilgrimage to Wichita Falls to worship at the shrines of heat and chip seal, we thought we needed a good dose of Texas heat in August. Michael Vangeli had already struck any meaningful riding off of his August calendar and he might have the right idea.

For some odd reason this rally becomes our first organized attempt to meet and ride together at an event. The Lancaster ride, at a more humane time of year and over better terrain was blighted by the cycling club's early season ennui. A few e-mails, a suggestion of this rally over the oft maligned airport ride and five possible commitments later brings us to the start line in Rockwall.

Caryn and I arrive with fifteen minutes to spare. My bike choice was determined by which one had the fewest issues. I was getting concerned that my commuter bike's front tire was getting more gnawed on than I would trust, I chose the bike that had the mostly unused aero bars on it, but the headset was solid, unlike my Trek y-foil. The aero bespotted bike's front tire appeared more ready for battle with the chip seal. My commuter bike (Campy Chorus, Athena and a Specialized Allez with one of their early carbon frames) is also the only one of my bikes with two bottle cages, and I gave it a serious reckoning before the multitudes of little cuts on that front tire (which had started its life in a bike store that burned down and I bought the front wheel with tire, tube and good coating of smoke residue) caused me to turn to the other available bike, but it has only one bottle cage. The camelback covers the Mustang on the back of the jersey and for that it is often left behind (and that the cat 1-2 crowd snickers at their use.) So much for informed decisions, since both decisions turned out poorly!

We are at the start looking for SMU jerseys and up rides Greg Pulte. He has lost his companions (Jackie and Rob) near the port o pots (aka sauna with a smell.) All of a sudden the starter gun blast goes off and we ride away, casually, hoping our other two companions find us. At bike rallies you see a number of people warming up on the roads around the start, usually some of the most serious and fittest around. Why? So that at the gun, they hammer away in a select group of familiar faces and get rid of those with delusions of hanging with them. Usually some one with an aero bar attached to their bike and who might, or might not last ten to fifteen miles. Caryn was relieved we were not entertaining those ambitions. See, she likes a good long warm up before dropping the hammer, and our front group ambitions are usually tempered by the fear of having someone with more ambition than skill take us out. Besides, those people are usually not as entertaining as Rob or Greg.

We ride and I can already see that Greg (who had never done a bike rally before) was filled with start line machismo and was frustrated at being reigned in, but also wanting to have Rob and Jackie join us. We let what seemed like a hundred people ride around us and still no sign of Jackie or Rob. As the road clears out a bit we hit what I thought was some gnarly chip seal. My unused aero bars (bought for another attempt at the Texas Time Trials in September) were doing what most aero bars do, rattle like a Benz diesel with 400K on the clock! They were so noisy, Caryn turns around and says, "Do you have a flat?" My response, "No, just rough road, no....yes"

A very convenient way to stop and find Rob and Jackie. It seems after they lost Greg at the start, they decided to start at the very back. Rob was doing about 24 mph to get through all of the back of pack fodder (yes we call those at the back that have to be passed various names!) and I saw him and wildly gestured for him to stop. No Jackie though. She came by a few minutes later and was obligated to stop, ending her rolling e-harmony interview (heck, he was only doing the 40 miler, so we already dismiss him as husband material despite his SMU Dedman Law school cred.)

Oddly, I notice that during Wednesday night rides whenever someone flats, I'm always jumping in to help, yet here on the side of the road, I was trying to repair it with everyone watching and I was choking! Greg did offer his pump to get the process started, so thank you! I should be happy that everyone stopped.

Off we go, pretty much at the back with only the grandparents and sneaker sod first timers behind. Once together, we try to establish a decent tempo. Jackie is starting to have breathing issues and Caryn's constant NPR listening has her relaying a story she heard, warning that ibuprofen can lead to asthma like symptoms.

We came upon a harrowing sight, the lead group all stopped on the road with evidence of some trauma. It must have been a bad crash, because none of them ever got on the road again, probably all done for the day.

Rob's brief account in his blog above left out some salient points. This ride is flat, those were not hills! HHH even has one climb that is steeper (but very short!) The compliance officer needs to lay off the Advil!

We would stop at the rest stops to regroup if we were detached from each other, so the training for HHH became not a question of speed, but of exposure! We were out there a long time. At one stop were were giving the appearance of having a symposium, chatting convivial to each other and a cyclist walked by and asked, "Are you a group of intellectuals?" If only he knew we were having a rather ribald discussion that lapsed into scatological humor thanks to Rob. Cyclists and their issues, out on the road!

Despite threatening to do only the forty, Jackie hung tough and finished, doing her longest distance to date. Same for Greg, who at one point earned the nickname, "The Fairing" for his impressive pulls that allowed Rob and Caryn the time and comfort to have read Dostoevsky. I would have read some Foucault, myself, but Jackie and I were not in the slipstream of "The Fairing" and were making do on our own, out in the wind.

Just about the end we come across John Sadowsky, the author of
He took the ignominious pictures of us now splattered at the back of his picture section. What a sight!

At the finish I heard a "I hate those jerseys!" Turns out he is a Frog. Nice to know that we can still cause some animosity! I responded to him that the TCU cycling club is moribund, so that is what makes the Frogs lame. He actually shut up, but retorted to my "Pony Up" later that "Hey, we beat you last year." Rather than discuss Princeton's College Rankings, I just rode on.

Caryn and I commented afterwards that riding together as a group was very enjoyable, and after dozens of bike rallies, this one will be remembered. Most of what Rob had to say is unprintable, but funny! Greg is too often his foil, but he is very funny in a deadpan way. Jackie was riding a leisure bike this time last year and look at her now! For the rest of you, let's all ride together soon.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hot Rocks Rally, Rockwall, TX 8/9/2008

Just got back from the Hot Rocks ride, advertised at 62 kilometers. Check back for the full report later with pictures (and perhaps a a report add-on from Scott) but here are the numbers for today (at least from the Babich group):

temperature: Damn Hot!

clouds: nary a one

shade: see clouds

road surface: 75% chipseal

flats: 1 (Scott)

hills: hell yes. almost rolling, but mostly long grinders

rest stops: thank god

traffic: pick up trucks in the opposite lane ripping by at 55mph

police: friendly and professional

new quote: "Mongo is a machine"

best fashion choice: Jackie's beaver socks

miles: 57.46 (sorry Rotarians, your odometer is off)

running time: 3 hours, 37 minutes

average speed: 15.82 miler per hour

bottles: 10

cramps: on the service road at mile 57

worst decision: tie between no sunscreen and not using the camelback

weirdest sight: all the elite racers on the deck 10 miles into the ride

headache: yes

jumped in pool upon return to house: yes

drinking beer as I write this: yes

Friday, August 8, 2008

Baked Ziti ride report

We returned from Long Island in time to do the Wednesday ride. As we traveled back we were hearing reports of a heat wave in Dallas. Funny, New Yorkers were complaining about their 90 degrees, they get no sympathy from us. Wednesday turned out quite nice for the stalwarts who rode (Michael, Greg, Kevin, Caryn and myself) The temps were a NY like 90 and felt quite cool, everything being relative. It seems as it was so hot last week that everyone did just a tempo ride to avoid any spontaneous combustion. Paul Sherwin is always commenting on "using up your matches" and I think in this heat that just riding is "dipping in the suitcase of courage" for all of us.

When Caryn and I were staying with the Pollio family in Charlotte NC (the day after the crit race, we just missed it) Caryn refused the incessant offers of food (the Italians know how to cook!) I, on the other hand, never want to hurt the feelings of the host and had numerous helpings of the baked ziti. The Pollio's daughters were the ones who got Caryn involved in the cross-country team in high school, so she was well aware of this family's epicurean delights (Caryn refused the food back then, too.) As I look back, I'm now thinking that Caryn was planning something by not eating as much as I did.

Our Wednesday ride was the usual affair, Michael leading us out and calling out every obstacle, car, pothole and calling me out on poor traffic avoidance (seems I am always in the way of little old ladies trying to turn on Skillman.) Kevin is always attempting breakaways and Greg...well he sees a pretty girl in the bike path and is too distracted and goes cross-country into the grass.

We get to Loving and Caryn seems very focused. We start climbing the first one and I immediately feel a bit slow (that 16 oz steak her uncle cooked for me) then I finally get her wheel at the top (where the crazy euro guy has put his bicycle part "editorials" in the trees and bushes.)

She climbs the second hill at a good even tempo, then descends like crazy. I'm following and I'm trying to shed all those lox and bagels I've had. The last hill I'm just about on her wheel and she hears that "whuum, whuum, whuum" sound of me behind her and sprints away. The baked ziti has done me in and she knew it! Why else would someone, two days before, turn down some really good food? Caryn has as much admitted so.

Greg's little foray into the grass was at the end before we stopped to refill our water bottles, then he headed home.

We rode back on University with visions of city limit signs to be won. This time I did everything to perfection, except getting to the intersection just as it turned red. "No guts no glory" as Caryn said, Michael opted for a "DQ'd" heaped my way.

Till next week...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

2008 Time Trials - Season update

Its been fun to wear the SMU colors to a number of Time Trial races this year....kind of an antidote to all the burnt orange and moron...uh, I mean maroon jerseys out there! The season's gone pretty well for me, with some big performance improvements with better training, better race strategy and some more experience. I'll post later on some of these things that worked well for me this year.
Here's some notes on some of the events this year....hopefully we have some folks that would be interested in doing a few next year...possibly even a team event. Note that you do need a racing license to compete, but both USAC and USAT offer 1-day licenses at $10 if you're not interested in a yearly.

Horse Country Time Trial Series - Aubrey, TX - 20K
3 of these races were held on a country road not too far from Denton. Its a challenging, hilly 20K course that is a well-run, inexpensive event. Wind direction is a big part of the strategy at this event...if you've got a tailwind going out, make sure you govern your output to the turnaround, because you'll have uphill into the wind on the way back. Usually can do this one without a water bottle.

Dam Time Trial - Joe Pool Lake - 8 miles
This is a USAT-sanctioned event (triathlon), so the event is chip timed, and sleveless jersey'll get body-marked too for good measure. I actually prefer the chip timing and lack of a safety-pinned race number/parachute. This is a standing start (no holder), but you get about 3 meters to start and clip-in before crossing the timing this works pretty well. Its a flat course, but wind can be a factor. Fortunately, I had a crosswind this year, so I was able to set a PR. The drawback is that its held at 6:30pm on a friday evening...meaning its hard to get to with traffic...and its HOT! The race director plans to offer more of these next year. Overall, its a very good event.

State Time Trial Championship - Pattison, TX - 40K
I've done this race 2 years in a row now and its a good event to learn what you're capable of.....its a flat course, but wind, heat and very high humidity make it a challenge. 40K means its short enough to go really hard, but long enough that you risk 'spending your money' too early and fading at the end. I have not had any issues in the past couple of years with this event, but be aware that there have been complaints from racers that the residents and law enforcement are not supportive of the event. One rider was stopped by the sherriff, made to get off her bike and was given a ticket for crossing the white line (marking the shoulder) and into a traffic lane.

Run-far Time Trials - Joe Pool Lake - 8 miles
Run-far (chip timing company) is offering a series twice a month at Joe Pool lake (on the dam)....there's some events still scheduled for this year...check out the following link for more details.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wednesday Ride

Who is showing up today?

Monday, August 4, 2008

2008 Trek 100 Ride for Hope

Back on June 7th I participated in the 19th annual Trek 100 Ride for Hope for the 3rd time and 2nd year in a row. It was fantastically organized as usual and and was lead out by Lance Armstrong for the 2nd year in a row as well. Needless to say his presence attracts more people but there is a strong following year after year from the locals and many cyclists around the country. The ride participant total was capped at 2, 800.

I rode in the 100k option with the father of one of my old high school buddies and his fraternity brother from back in the day at Illinois. We had a great time, they are pretty serious riders so the pace was reasonable to fast throughout. The weather also favored us, it was sunny and in the mid 80's for the entire ride, a nice change from the two heavy storms that engulfed the ride last year and caused several accidents.

One of my favorite parts of the ride besides the beautiful scenery are the rest stops. The Trek 100 staff do an amazing job at getting the locals involved and at all 5 stops there was far too much food, gatordade, and water for us to consume. Unlike in previous years at the end of the race i did not hit a wall although I was still very tired. I'm not sure my exhaustion was so much from the ride or having had been awake for 12 hours by the time 4pm rolled around. I live in Chicago so I made the 1 hour 45 minute drive the morning of to make the 7:30 am start.

I had a great time and i encourage all of you to come out and participate next year, it will be on June 6th in 2009, for the 20th annual Trek 100 Ride for Hope. I'm sure the 20th anniversary will bring a special twist to an already exciting, inspiring, and exhausting day.

Just to let you know how important this ride is to childhood cancer and blood disorder research the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer) which puts on this event has raised over 7.2 million dollars over the last 19 years and this year alone $688,433 were raised. I myself was able to raise $315 for this great cause and I hope to significantly raise the bar next year. Thank you very much to everyone who contributed.

For those of you who might be inclined i would like to start a team for next years ride. I am going to enlist several of my fraternity brothers and hopefully my father and his friends who ride as well. Riding with a group of people always makes it more fun as you all know and it would be fun to to take a crack getting near the top of the list in team fund raising.

I was able to get one good picture of the event, no action shots could be found. While I spotted several people taking pictures along the route there is only one professional photographer who seems to have posted anything and he only took a couple hundred shots of the 2800 people on the ride, needless to say I was disappointed.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saturday Ride Report 8/2/2008

Greg, Rob and Jackie (on her new carbon fiber Fuji) rode on the GDB's Airport Ride this morning.  Jackie was a bit hesitant riding with the fast group, but she rode real well and looked like she belonged, so no worries there.  Rob noticed Greg riding off the back a little too much and instructed him to ride mid pack instead.  Jackie got gapped a mile or so before the Shell station rest stop - it just goes to show that you have to be real attentive when you ride at the back, because if the group hits the gas (like it did), and you can't close the gap by yourself, you will be off the back. 

Due to time restraints, we did not do any laps, but rode back to Preston & Forest instead.  Unlike the previous ride, we had plenty of water on board, so it was a mostly pleasant return trip and we hummed along at about 17mph.

All in all a nice ride.  For those keeping score, the cyclocomputer shot out these numbers: average speed 18.41, distance 41 miles.

Notable moment:  Both Rob and Greg hit the same 2 inch wide seam in the road without falling down.  Both riders made excellent recoveries.  As per usual Heath won all the sprints.

Trial run

Apparantly I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century with a BLOG of all things!

This is just a test drive so that if I ever have anything actually important to say, I will know how.

Thanks to Rob for setting this up!!

I am in Long Beach at the moment for a library conference.
Looking forward to being dropped on Loving Hill Wednesday!