Monday, September 29, 2014


     Hey! It's a headline, they're supposed to grab your attention.  Here's my take on this year's State Finals Road Race held at Fort Hood.  As usual, since I always leave time for the unexpected, I arrived at race headquarters with an extra half-hour of piddle-time.  My plan called for thirty minutes of warm-up starting forty minutes before the race start.  I checked in, received my numbers (the pink one on the back, the white one on the left side), and returned to the car to attach them to my jersey.  By a stroke of luck, I captured a parking spot close to check-in and the porta-potties.  Both were essential, in that pre-race jitters had me going often and check-in had the only available shade on a very sunny day.
     I glue my numbers on, an onerous chore single-handed.  More luck, Carolyn (my Bicycle Sport Shop Road ((as opposed to 'Cross or Tri)) captain) happened by to chat.  Her race started twenty minutes after mine.  She helped affix the numbers.  She left to start her pre-race routine and I twiddled my thumbs as long as I could, but eventually got on the bike.
     Experience has shown it really takes me thirty minutes to loosen my legs and lungs for any serious effort.  The available road was pretty rough and had a few hills, but I completed the warm-up and returned to the car and checked the time.  Dang!  Twenty-five minutes before start time.  I had hoped for ten.  Chagrined, but not upset, I dawdled a bit and made last minute preparations, then went off to the start line to linger and circle around and chat with the other old guys in our group.  My friend, Dean, had signed up at the last minute but hadn't arrived (he didn't).
     My race plan was based on the registration information that the 70+ guys would race with the 60+ guys, but be given a five minute head-start.  This is because us old guys really can't keep up with the younger ones when they hit the hills.  We would rather have our own race, but given the numbers, understand being grouped this way and were grateful for the extra five minutes, which would get us over the first two hard climbs before being over-taken.  Well, as things transpired, just before the start the race director gave us our own category.  Great!  Except for one thing: once the young guys catch up with us, we are not allowed to draft them.  Bummer!
     The course starts with several miles of downhill before the first big climb.  Richard (last year's winner and acknowledged fastest guy in our group) got a gap and pulled away and the new guy (most of us know each other) jumped up with him.  I knew this was suicide because the wind was pretty strong in our face, and the five of us could rotate the lead and bring them back with ease.  Except one of us got dropped like a stone and the other three refused to rotate through and chase.  The lead slowly grew.  At the second hill a few miles farther I powered up the climb and left the three about twenty seconds behind, setting off to see if Richard and friend would slow down.  They didn't, but Fred and Tom chased back to me.  Well now, if they were willing to chase me down, but not Richard, then I would let them pull me the rest of the way.
     We finally turned, after sixteen miles into the wind, and had mostly a tailwind.  The hills were much more manageable.  According to my Garmin, we had six climbs over 10% and a bunch of others.  In the next hour I did a few downhill pulls, but mostly just sat on their wheels.  Then, on a downhill, Fred got a cramp and pulled his leg out of his pedal to try to work it out.  Tom and I kept going and between the cramp and the next double digit climb, we put a significant gap on him.
     Fred beat me, quite handily, the last two years even though he is ten years older.  He races with national champion stripes on his sleeve.  I felt no remorse as I then took the lead and hammered as best I could.  Tom followed.  Tom and I have raced against each other for ten years.  I know he is easily the best sprinter.  But Tom broke his pelvis in June and, needless to say, is nowhere near his best form.   One climb before the last turn, two small climbs after, then a slight uphill incline all the way to the finish line.  Predictably, Fred gained on the flats, and with 1k to go had more or less caught back up.
     I put it in the big ring, smaller cog to start my wind up and with 200 meters to go, dropped it down and powered as best I could.  We finished together, but I took third and Fred fourth.  What an exciting finish!
     Although being miffed at the guys letting Richard go, he and the other guy would have beat me in the sprint anyhow, so I have no complaints.  Now it is time to get into time-trialing mode for the Tour de Gruene in November.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


     I intended to do a short FB post, but this needs a longer explanation.  Our Tuesday night ride yesterday gave us the best weather all year, a homogeneous and cohesive group of fifteen riders, and reasonable traffic (that is, very few antagonistic drivers); which has very little to do with the title of the post.
     It is an intermediate group, meaning almost everyone is faster than me, but I can keep up.  My Speedplay left pedal, my in-out pedal, gave me a little trouble at the start and I circled in the parking lot getting clipped in thus coming out last.  I don't have a problem being last, and even when the opportunity arose to jump a few positions I didn't.  We moved along at a good clip but after about a half hour and several traffic stops, I noticed a rider behind.  I must have missed him somehow.
     At our regrouping stop just before Spicewood Springs Road, I saw Todd counting heads and appearing to be missing a number.  I rode up to advise I saw we dropped a guy back in Balcones, but didn't really know if he were in our group or not.  Everyone else said no one was missing, so we prepared to depart.  Now we get to the topic.
     In going up to Todd, I now found myself leading out.  As I pushed off I said to Todd "I don't like to lead" but kept going with the sure knowledge the fast guys would come around.  The Spicewood Springs is a Strava stretch and those who do that sort of thing let it all go (I don't like the term "hang out").  No one passed in the approach.  We made the right turn and I pushed hard to get up the first low-water crossing.  Still no one passed.  I felt good and pressed on.  It wasn't until Todd called out to "rotate" that it dawned on me that they weren't going to pass until I pulled off to the left.  Duh!
     I appreciated the "nice pull" comments as the stream of guys pulled through.  The fact that it was almost everybody indicated the speed wasn't overpowering.  But really guys, that wasn't my intention.  I don't even lead when I ride with a slow group (well, maybe for short turns).  Going up 360 we had to single-file past a few vehicles on the side of the road, including a car-hauler.  For whatever reason, I usually spin up this hill in the first third of the group.  Same this time.
     It was a good ride, and a good lead-up to my race this Sunday.  But for future rides, don't expect to see me in the front.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


     Because I only dabble in road racing, just doing three a year, I don't get real serious in my preparation.  Oh, I train hard; it is the bike to which I'm referring.
     I race on my touring bike, with a few modifications.  For those not familiar with my bike, it is a Roark custom titanium; not a Walmart Huffy.  For races I take off the saddle pack, tail light, and aero bars.  I don't take off the tail light holder nor do I remove my end of handlebar mirrors.  The mirrors stay on because they are currently quite stable and difficult to remove and once off, getting them reinstalled with the same amount of stability is practically impossible.  I know this through experience.  So I'm not quite as aero as serious racers.
     I also don't bother about my triple chain ring.  I haven't done  a man-on-the-street survey, but am pretty sure I'm the only one racing with a triple.  For Fort Hood I might actually use it on the back-side hill rather than struggle up in the middle ring.  Depends on the race situation.  I switch out the mountain bike pedals and shoes for Speedplay pedals and Sidi shoes.  This saves about a pound.  Oh yeah, I also switch out the Rolf Vector Pro wheels (2001) with my time trial bike Zipps (404 and 808).
     Washing the bike (which by now is pretty cruddy since I don't do it too often) and oiling the chain gets the bike ready to roll.  I air the tires the night before.  I'll warm up on the Rolf wheels, then switch before the actual race.  If the asphalt were a little better I wouldn't take this precaution.  I don't need the added stress of changing out a tube when time is tight.
     These changes don't happen at the same time, the pedals are already installed and the aero bars have been removed for a month in order to get used to being in the drops.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


     In my blog posts I often make reference to my age and ageing in general.  Try as we might to offset deterioration, some parts just don't work as well.  In one of my earlier posts I mentioned coming up on what initially appeared to be a KKK rally, right here in Central Texas.  As I got closer, it turned out to be a group of bee keepers in all-white protective suits circled around some bees.  It was an irrational assumption, but brains do funny things sometimes.  Of course, my brain blamed it on my eyes.
     The other day I was doing intervals out at Old Settlers Park (OSP).  I use OSP as a base for most outdoor riding because it has convenient rest rooms, good asphalt, and lots of parking.  Most days the only traffic are the park service vehicles.  I can leave from there and safely be out in the Williamson County countryside for longer rides, or just do a few loops for shorter (up to 75 minutes) rides.  I've been doing four loops in the hour and fifteen minutes.
     For whatever reason, I didn't feel like doing four loops so determined to include additional parking lots and short out-and-back roads which lead to playing fields and playgrounds.  After the first loop, my assumption that these inclusions would indeed be enough to reduce the number of repetitions proved to be correct.  On the second loop my eyes gave the brain a twist.
     One of the out-and-back roads leads to a small parking lot and play ground.  First loop: got to the end, casually noted a few mothers and kids on the slide and swings, looped around the parking lot and went back to the main road.  Second loop: casually noted a few fathers.  One was leaning over a baby carriage, two others were pushing carriages up the walk.  "How nice" my brain reacted.  "Most of the time, it is moms who bring their toddlers out to play."  "But isn't it strange to see a group of dads?"  Of course these thoughts went through my head in the blink of an eye.  In a few more blinks, the eyes had clarified the situation.  These baby carriages were being used to transport various discs for disc golf, and this was a threesome about to start out on the disc golf course.
     I have a Frisbee at home; occasionally I throw it in the back yard.  I never could get it to do what I wanted.  When riding the main road in OSP I occasionally see the guys throwing a disc, and I vaguely remember knowing they have different discs for various situations, just like different clubs for regular golf.  It never occurred to me that the discs would require wheeled vehicles for transportation.  I had my chuckle, then the brain once again remonstrated with the eyes to shape up and see right.

Monday, September 15, 2014


     Like most folks who can't throw things away, I keep telling myself "one of these days I'll need these to rebuild an old bike" or words to that effect.  It's time to see if someone will actually put any of this to good use.  The intention here is for Austin-area folks, but might consider shipping the bigger items.  I'll start with the small stuff and work my way up.  There are no prices listed; if you want it make a reasonable offer and we can negotiate.  Pictures available upon request.

Shimano CS-6500 9 spd cassette 12-25 (well used, not abused)
Shimano CS-6600  9 spd cassette 12-25 (used)
Dura Ace CS-7700 9 spd cassette 12-27 (well used, not abused)
Dura Ace CS-7700 9 spd cassette 12-27 (used)
SRAM PG 1070 9 spd cassette 11-28 (hardly used)

Dura Ace FC 7701 B 53-39 Chain Ring and Bottom Bracket BB 7700
Ultegra FC-R700 50-34 Compact Chain Ring and Bottom Bracket

Dura Ace RD-7700 Rear Derailleur
Dura Ace FD-7700 Front Derailleur
Dura Ace BR-7700 Brakes (front and back)
Dura Ace ST-7700 Flight Deck Shifters (well used, but not abused)

Thule Pick-up Truck Bike Rack
Rhode Gear  Car Bike Rack
Serfas Bike Case (Plastic)
Schwinn Unicycle
Cinelli Vintage bike frame (I think 58cm; circa 1962)

Campagnolo Pro-fit pedal (the right works great, the left not so well)
Clip-on fenders
Training wheels (kids)

KHS fully suspended mountain bike (fits me at 5'8")

REI Sierra Half-dome Two Person Tent (hardly used)
North Face Blue Kazoo Down Sleeping bag (hardly used)
Massage Table (used only a few times)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


     These were some of the words wandering through my mind as I pedaled this afternoon out at Old Settlers Park (OSP).  Regular readers will know that even though my "thing" is cycling vacations, I dabble in racing.  I've also previously posted that in order to get faster/stronger, I engaged a coach to give more structure to my training.  So, why have a coach if you ignore his/her coaching?  Not me, I'm following instructions as best I can.  Which is why today is my first two-a-day work-out.  I'm really taking the long way around to making my point.
     This morning I did intervals, on the trainer in the kitchen.  No problem.  This afternoon called for an hour and fifteen minutes riding (no set targets to hit).  As a touring cyclist, I strongly advocate getting out on the road to cycle.  Several years ago, I'd have driven out to Berry Springs and had a nice country ride.  But an hour and fifteen minutes now is a "tweener."  Too long to ride around the neighborhood, unless I want to do multiple loops when school is about to be dismissed.  Too short to do my normal country roads, plus being in the afternoon, which I really detest anyhow.  I chose to ride in OSP.  Hardly anybody is there, I have decent rest rooms in case I Gotta Go!, the terrain is varied, and the asphalt is smooth.  And this is where the title words come in.  Am I really being lazy, or too picky about eschewing the roads?  Or am I being intelligent in choosing a safe environment in which to exercise?
     My narcissistic self says it is the intelligent choice.  But doubts creep in.  Am I deluding myself into thinking because this is "training" it doesn't matter what road I'm on?  As I get older, am I unconsciously moving away from the long cycling vacations?  I can tell you I have a long ride on next year's agenda, but nothing two years out.  Is that a clue??  Only time will tell.