Monday, November 29, 2010

We're taking a pass on November

So, here we are at the end of November with no century ridden.  We have no real excuse except the regular excuses - family, jobs, etc.  Too bad, since we missed a few really nice riding days. No, seriously, it's been in the 70's and sunny here in the Dallas area, as opposed to being snowed in like other parts of the country.  Anyway, we are skipping this month and will have to do a make up ride later on.  We'll probably be more motivated in the spring when there are more organized rides.  Once we pay a fee and get a t-shirt, we feel obligated to ride.

Monday, November 1, 2010

what are we gonna do?

Here it is, Nov 1, and we don't have a solid plan for this month's century.  Or next month, for that matter.  Or anything until about May of 2011.  The best idea so far is to do a loop around DFW.  It won't be an "official" ride, but it may have to do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bike rack for inside the car

Since we've been using Dan's Suburban as transportation to the ride starts I built a bike rack that fits in the back of the car.  A couple 2x4s and a couple fork mounts from performance bike and we have a great way to keep the bikes upright and still leaves room for our other gear.  This would also work well for a pick up truck, or just to hold bikes in the garage.  They are spaced just far enough that a third bike could fit facing the other way between them, meaning these could be staggered (or tessellated if you want to get nerdy about it) to create a long row of bikes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Responsible Refueling

Refueling your body is an important part of any exercise and even more critical on an extended endurance ride.  Jon and I typically knock out over 50 miles before getting off the saddle the first time.  Leading up to that stop we steadily take in carb rich fuel in the form of energy gels.  Without these gooey packets of sugar we would bonk out as our body shuts down from lack of usable fuel.  You simply can't convert other energy sources, like fat, to a burnable fuel fast enough.  But these little packets of goo have a dark side - they easily turn into roadside litter.  

At some point on the Outlaw 100, Jon was taking in a Hammer Banana energy gel and wondering how they could possibly make artificial banana taste so bad.  To prove the point, he handed over a vanilla for me to try.  I've had the opportunity to try a number of brands of gel and gummies recently.  I can say, without a doubt, Hammer is my least favorite.  The vanilla tasted like that cafeteria style pudding bought in a gallon can from a warehouse store.  You know the kind.  

This was a thick, sticky mess of pasty vanilla that I could barely squeeze out of the foil pack.  I was left wondering how they could make vanilla taste so bad.  I mean, really!  Energy gel is sugar, vitamins, minerals, and flavorings.  You'd think it would be hard to screw up.  After I squeezed as much of the paste out as I could, I folded the foil packet, trying with moderate success to keep the sticky opening to the inside, and slipped it into one of my jersey pockets.

Despite the taste, I was very disappointed to find at the next rest stop that it had accidentally fallen out of my pocket when I was digging for other things, inadvertently becoming flotsam.  Even more disturbing is the number of riders I have witnessed jettisoning their spent fuel packets like booster rockets that have fulfilled their only use.  These foil packets are covered inside and out with a plastic lamination giving them an indefinite roadside life span.  Why do people still think it is okay to litter?  I would have hoped that cyclists were more conscientious as whole, after all, we are out travelling under our own power under the big sky enjoying the fresh air and scenery.  

If you use any type of energy gel or gummy packet, here are two simple rules:

1) Do not tear the top off completely!  Leave it attached and fold it down out of your way.  If you detach this little top you will likely lose it to the wind.  Keep it all together.
2) When your done, hang on to it and dispose of it properly.  Fold it so you wont get all gooey and stick it in a pocket somewhere.

I've come to strongly prefer refillable gel bottles.  These 5oz bottles come with a pull top like a water bottle that is easy to open and dispense from.  I started making my own gel from a honey base that I greatly prefer to any of the commercial products.  It is much less expensive and easier to manage than little goo packs.  I refill two 5oz bottles at a cost of about $1.50 - the same amount of commercial gel would run close to $15.00.  So I save money and generate less waste which means less chance of tiny foil packs sullying our roads. 

Outlaw 100 - Round Rock

Our third race is a wrap!  We rolled just over 100 miles in the Round Rock Outlaw 100.

We tried to leave Dallas at a reasonable time, but both of got hung up at work.  Follow that with a stop at store for white bread (love those carbs) and road snacks, a fuel stop (40 gallons takes a while), a quick dinner we called in to Pei Wei, and a beer run.  It was right about 8 PM we were finally getting on the road.  Luckily traffic wasn't terrible getting out of town and we made pretty decent time to Round Rock.

Interestingly, spicy Pad Thai makes a great high carb meal just before a race.  I was a little worried that would come back to haunt me, but it turned out perfect.  Jon saved his leftover spicy DanDan Noodles for breakfast, which he later decided was a mistake.  Note to self: despite our iron guts, spicy sauce that close to an intense workout is a bad idea.

Dad was on this ride, contemplating the 100 miler.  Here he is with Jon about 7:50 AM, right before we rolled.

Dad and Jon at the start line
We left Old Settlers Park with a police escort with just under 1,000 other riders.  As you can see from the course map, every few miles we caught a turn somewhere.  Quite a bit of the countryside was just gorgeous, but we also hit some rougher, run down parts.  Several mile were on a disintegrated, at one time concrete, road that had turned to loose gravel.  That really slowed everyone down.  Another section was old blacktop poured on sand.  It looked like an old dirt road with the hump the in the middle and deep tire tracks.  Luckily most of the serious potholes had been patched, but it was still a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

Lots of up and down on this course.  I don't think there was really a steady elevation gain, but constant up a 100 feet, down a hundred feet, repeat for the next 100 miles.  Not as bad as some of the west Austin hills, just the slow rolling hills of south Texas.  It made for a more difficult ride than anticipated since there weren't any decent flat areas to gain speed on.  Couple that with the twisty course and a shifting wind that always seemed to be catching our face... let's just say it was fun.

We made decent speed through to our first stop at around mile 57, rolling about 18 miles an hour.  Funny thing about this one, they put the "Watering Hole" sign at the beginning of Granger Dam but the rest stop was 2.5 miles away on the other side of the dam.  It was kind of a cruel trick.  Overall this ride only had moderate support.  Rest stop 5 was out of water when we got there, luckily more was delivered - but thirsty riders sucked it up nearly as fast as it was unloaded.  Everyone was friendly and helpful though.

Jon and Dan at just over half way
When Dad hit the cut-off he decided the 63 miler was a better choice.  He held strong and knocked it out in 6 hours.  Jon and I clocked in right at 7 hours for the 100.  Slower than our normal pace, but not bad overall.  This puts us 300 miles in to our 1300 mile adventure.  Only 1000 miles and 10 months to go!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tour de Pink Recap

This one is a little behind, but here it is!  All told, we raised $665 dollars towards breast cancer research.  A big "Thank You!" to all our supporters:

Laura Dornback
Lynda Curtis
Anne Linder
Bruce Byerly
Roger and Beverly McKemie
Amanda O'Brien
Mattie Rushing
Melinda Sedelmeyer
Cheryl Shore
Jason Greenwald
Steve Bledsoe
Kyle Carter

Thank you as well to Shirley Dornback for cooking us an awesome spaghetti dinner that we carb loaded with the night before.  We crashed in a field on the Prairie View A&M campus and listened to a few post game revelers wrap up their party while we chowed.  We woke up early, 5AM, to coffee from the vacuum thermos and PB&Js.  It looked like we were one of the few out-of-towners - at least one of the few to brave camping in the back field.   

Compared to the HH100, this was minuscule, with just over 1,000 riders, we took off right at the start time of 7AM.  The course was sort of like Wile E. Coyote's head, with his nose pointed to the ground.  We pushed hard and caught our first break rest stop 4, mile 55.  The rest stops were small, but friendly.  Lots of nice people helping us out.

Around mile 65 we turned north, and we really started to drag.  The wind pushed right into our face pretty much the rest of the way.  We ended up stopping twice more at 6 and 7 because we were so drained.  At 7 we made the mistake of dropping into some well intended folding camp chairs.  If you are ever considering doing a ride like this.... do.... not.... sit.... in.... a.... chair.  No matter how much you hurt, all that chair will do is remind you of how comfortable you could be.  It puts your mission at risk, and make no mistake, you are on a mission.  Completion is dependent on your focus.  That comfy chair will cause your focus to shift.

Luckily, not long after stop seven the course move east again and the wind wasn't quite as bad.  We actually picked up speed, hitting sprints of over 20 mph.  Crossing the finish line felt good, but not triumphant.  The post-ride fare was school cafeteria burgers.  We popped a few beers in the parking lot and relaxed for a while before hitting the road.

On the way home we stopped for for a plate of fried deliciousness at Sam's Restaurant.  They had a surprisingly good buffet.  There is nothing like real pan-fried chicken fried steak with smashed taters and fried okra to bring you back.

All told, a great trip that put us at 200 miles towards our goal of 13 hundred in 13 months.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

From now on, I am driving my bicycle

I rode in to work the other day.  Usually my bike commutes are uneventful, even here in Dallas (which is not generally recognized as a bike friendly city).  Once in awhile I get a honk, but the number of cars that go by without incident far out number the ones that cause trouble.

This commute was different.

First, I met a fellow bike commuter who is a member of the Lone Star Randonneurs who was testing out his rig before an upcoming 300k event this Labor Day.  He said he opted for the 300k route instead of the 600k route so he wouldn't be too worn out for his upcoming 1200k route in Colorado.  There are people who love cycling, and then there are people who love cycling.  We chatted for a mile or so at 20mph before he took off like he was shot out of a cannon.

Then I lost my temper. On an essentially residential street, one wide lane in each direction, I came up to a intersection with a stop sign.  At the intersection there was a short lane marker for those turning left vs those going straight/right.  I pulled in to the left hand turn lane as required by law.  An SUV pulled up behind me, and the ignorant-of-the-law driver said "get on the sidewalk!".  I said, "you first!" and proceeded in to the turn.  Normally, I ignore and blow off idiots like this.  They aren't worth my time, and not worth breaking my zen-like riding state.  But this one got to me.  Maybe it was because as I made the left turn and took the right most lane, I knew the car would pass me on the left.  And as the car came up, I could see the passenger side window rolled down and I knew what was coming next.  I opted for a preemptive strike and yelled in no uncertain terms that the driver and passenger should learn the law.  There might have been some descriptive terms about their intelligence after that.

I'm not proud of that, and it was not the best way to handle the situation.  I've decided that the best way to handle the situation is to take a picture of the car with both the driver and the license plate in view and submit it to the proper authorities.  I think a cheap disposable water proof camera (do they still make those?) would look great hanging from my handle bars.

I am no longer riding my bicycle.  I am driving it.  "Riding a bike" is what kids do.  "Driving a bicycle" is what serious adults do to get to work and back.  I have a wife and a dog and a mortgage and potential future children and I choose to drive my bike to work to maintain my sanity and my health and I will command the respect that any other commuter is entitled to.

On the way home, a driver pulled up in the lane next to me with his window rolled down.  After the morning's incident I was expecting trouble but he surprised my by asking if I knew where a hotel was (unfortunately I didn't).  Just goes to show that not all encounters with cars are bad.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tour de Half-way

55 miles down, 45 to go...


A 99¢ loaf of white bread can go a long way!  Carbs carbs carbs and a little coffee on the side.  Okay, a lot of coffee. 
We camped in a field labeled as 'tailgate parking' which is pretty dark and reasonably quiet.  Better than we hoped for.  My eyes popped open at 4:20, only a little earlier than our planned 5AM wake up.  Jon is still snoring away.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On the road to the Tour de Pink

We're on the road to our second 100 miler.  Jon's at the wheel and I'm making the PB&J's.  Weather reports look to be good, low wind and highs in the low 90s.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Support Biking Initiatives

Road laws are meant to keep everyone, motorized and not, safe.  Some cities are trying to pass laws that ban legal cycling activities on our public roads.  When a cities create traffic rules that are different from state law it creates confusion and a dangerous situation for motorists and cyclists alike.  Check out the links on the right to support cycling activities all over.

Ride DART -- or ride your bike!

DART has a new commercial out promoting their buses and commuter rails.  This is a great first step to greener commuting, but where are the commercials for riding your bike to work?  Or riding your bike to a DART station?  At least some of the buses are equipped with bike racks.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

9/5/2010 training ride

30 mile training ride today, which we covered in less than 2 hours including stop lights and the "hills" of north Dallas.  Good ride, could have gone longer but other obligations called.  The really good news is that the temperatures are starting to fall off - it was actually decent by the time we got back (and by decent I mean less than 90*F).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tour de Pink supporters

We decided to do the Tour de Pink because it was the only century that really fit our schedule this month.  There are multiple centuries on Sept. 25, but our youngest brother is getting married that day and selfishly refuses to change the wedding date.  :-)

So, we liked the idea of supporting cancer research and the date fit.  But then, donations actually started coming in from friends and family... and along with them have come the stories about those who have survived cancer as well as those who have not.  I have been humbled by the responses.  So what started as a personal endeavor has now taken on a larger meaning and we will do our best to make our supporters proud.

Help us fight the good fight.

Students banned from wearing "I heart boobies" breast cancer awareness bracelet

Students in some districts are facing disciplinary action because they are wearing breast cancer bracelets (similar to the yellow Livestrong bands) that say "I heart boobies".  CNN article is below:

While some students may be doing this for the "boobie" factor, many are wearing them for legitimate reasons and know someone who has been affected by breast cancer.  What do you think?  Should this be allowed or is it too much of a distraction in a school?

Next Up: Tour de Pink!

Our next epic ride will be the Tour de Pink to ride in support of breast cancer awareness and research.  We are raising donations to contribute to the cause and any support you can give is truly appreciated.  Our personal donation pages are listed below.  We've got a bet going as to who can raise the most money before the ride - the person with the least donations has to be the domestique!  So help us out and click below to donate.

Hotter N Hell Recap

The Hotter N Hell is getting more crowded every year.  I remember the first year I rode it the mass start took forever to get through the starting line, but then after 50 miles or so I'd be on a stretch of road with dozens or hundreds of meters between me and the next cyclist.  Now, they've switched to wave starts (which really helps), but there was not one moment when we were by ourselves on the road.  The total participation has gone up by a few thousand, so maybe it is just that or maybe a greater percentage of people are riding the century.

We made great time the first couple dozen miles and probably we went out too fast.  I had to catch up to Dan to tell him we wouldn't be able to sprint through the crowd because the crowd would never end.  At about 16 miles  we came to a complete stop in a traffic jam of shoulder to shoulder riders.  Someone ahead had wrecked bad, and between the gawking and the slowing the traffic jam was as bad as on any car dominated freeway.  Is this the future of cycling?  When everybody does it, will it just be another congested roadway with people dripping sweat instead of belching car exhaust?  In any case, we got through.  Some members of our family weren't so lucky - they were stuck for half an hour while cyclists were cleared off a section of road and no one was allowed to proceed until the Careflight helicopter had landed and retrieved the downed cyclist.

We didn't stop again until mile 50 when we reloaded our camelbaks and grabbed some snacks.  Well, that's not entirely true - we took a brief hop off the bike when the group was stopped by a train crossing the road.  After the mile 50 stop we planned to keep on truckin' until we hit Hell's Gate.  That almost worked.

Jason, Dan, and Jon at a rest stop yet still baking under the sun.  Does wearing the ride jersey at the ride make you a dork?  Does wearing a sleeveless triathlon jersey make you a tool, even if you trim up so it doesn't look like you have a squirrel in a headlock?

Just before we got to Hell's Gate, Dan got a flat.  We pulled off safely to the side of the road and took a look.  Upon pulling off the tire, we found the hole and saw that on the inside of the tire there was a worn section where the wires were starting to show through.  Very strange.  We cut a section of the old tube to prevent the new tube from blowing out as well and got it aired up again.  With the wheel mounted again, we noticed something malignant - there was actually a bubble forming on the tire itself!  It looked like a cancerous zit forming in the middle of the tire, angry and swollen and threatening a blowout of the tire.  We crossed our fingers and rode on, hoping it would hold up for the next 40 miles.

Somehow this held up for 40+ miles

If you don't reach the Gate in time, you either have to SAG it in or take a shorter route back home.  Our fast pace paid off and even with the flat and the rest stop we sailed through the Gate and on to the rest of the 100 mile route.

Dan, Jon, and Jason at Hell's Gate.  Towing enforced, apparently.

By this time we were starting to feel the fatigue and the burn of the last 70, then 80, then 90 miles.  Endurance events tend to bring out the quirks in people.  The general weariness, the mile after mile of riding and getting beaten up by every bump in the pavement, the rhythmic spin of the pedals.... it's easy to space out, to lose your focus, or just lose your mind.  About this time is when things start getting silly - we quote from random movies ("Nobody can eat 50 eggs!"), sing songs from our Scouting days (off key, of course), and generally try to ignore the pain as we press on to the finish line.  The "endurance" part of an endurance ride is just as much mental and psychological as it is physical.

The last 10 miles are some of the easiest - the finish line is getting closer, close enough to seem like an attainable goal.  Dan's evil tire had so far held up, though the cantankerous wart was growing larger and angrier by the mile.  The cycling gods were with us that day, and we made it back to town and saw the finish line looming ahead.  We raised fists in the air as though we were winning a stage in the Tour de France and mugged for the photographers.  I slapped the outstretched hands of family members waiting on the sidelines as we cruised to the arch and felt a little bit of glory as we finished the ride.  We are not racers, we'll never win a professional bike race, but just finishing an event like this is a major accomplishment for most mortals.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Century 1: Success!

We made it through Hell's Gate and completed Century #1!

Friday, August 27, 2010


Leaving now for Wichita Falls.  No idea if there is wifi available so the next post may be after we return.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It has begun.

Tomorrow we leave for the Hotter N Hell Hundred, the first of our 13 centuries.  We will endure 100+ miles of cycling through blazing heat, driving Texas winds and baking concrete and we will love every minute of it.