Monday, November 29, 2010

Try something new: Dirty Du!

Next to cyclocross, there are a few more things which can be tons of fun (and challenging) as part of any off-season. For example, a off-road duathlon like Jack and Adams puts on every year out at Rocky Hill Ranch near Smithville: the Dirty Du!

Thanks to Robert I had a nice MTB to ride around for a bit and Adam "guided" me through the singletracks of Rocky Hill Ranch on a pre-ride a few days before the race. As a "roadie", I've never been out there before but I can tell you that you miss a lot by not going out there and spending a couple of laps on the MTB. Tons of good, fast, semi-technical trails through a mostly thick forest.

The 2x5K off-road up "Fat Chuck's Revenge" are obviously the hardest task of the whole things - at least when you're not a real runner. Like cyclocross, the time on the MTB is pretty intense and fun, but comparing to the road you have to make so many quick decisions on where to go, brake, pedal, lift, balance etc. in such short amount of time that you're "always on the move". Wes and Tommy F came out, too so we lined up with about 150 others to take on two 5K's and the 12mile loop on the MTB. After coming out 5th or 6th from the run I quickly got on the Cannondale Scalpel and tried not to lose too much time on Jason from MJ's and Andy Lee, the eventual winner and former MTB-pro. I was still leaping behind Jason and Andy but passed a few "quick" runners and was in third coming into T2. Unfortunately, one of "those runners" was Lance Parker and he ran me down pretty good - putting 2+minutes into me within 2.5K. But I heard he's fast, so that's okay ;-) Desiree Ficker ran the 2nd run quite fast, too and with Eric Hess she had a great teammate for the team relay which they won by minutes ahead of 2nd place.

Thanks again to Jack Murray and Jack & Adam's for giving me the opportunity to try out that duathlon thing on dirt!


running up Fat Chuck's revenge

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cyclocross Fun

What do you do when off-season training becomes boring? You add some bits of intensity to it. In this example, cyclocross. I've done a few races over the last few winters and it never gets old. I know I'll never be "great" at it but you can learn tons of stuff in every race and get better quickly. Besides, it gives you 60min of great, High Intensity Training, with tons and tons of micro-intervals, sprints, etc.

The first time (and for long time last time) I raced a CX bike was back in the mid-or late nineties and it was on a Diamant (oldest German bicycle manufacturer) steel frame with out clipless pedals and down-tube shifters. It must have weight 25lbs or something because I didn't like it at all.

But nowadays it's much more fun (Texas weather helps - of course, too) and thanks to some good people in the industry I have some sponsors which support me for the Texas CX races. Specifically, Sean & Charles at ROL Wheels and Sol & team at Austin Bikes! Check out the ROL Carbon 38mm tubular wheels here - solid, affordable, carbon tubular wheels at 1190grams/set. Built in Austin by Austin Bikes' very own Sam Frost. A bombproof wheelset for off-road fun.

photo KGS Bikes

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stories from India (भारत) - Bicycles in India

coconut bicycle

commuter bicycle

banana leave bicycle

silk production (cocoon) carrying bicycle

tricked out Durga Puja festival bicycle

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stories from India (भारत) - Flora & Fauna

Besides big cities with lots of traffic and people, India has to offer a big variety of open nature and wildlife. There a plenty of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks spread across the country - fortunately, because only in the last 40 or so years the preservation and protection of the Indian wildlife became a topic. Before that, plenty of hunting for elephant, tiger, was totally normal and widely common over there.

While in Bangalore we visited the Bannerghatta Biological Park which has a zoo and safari area with has plenty of adopted and rescued animals in a nice place south of town. Entry fee for zoo & safari was $3.50 and you could spend pretty much all day there. We saw some cobras, pythons, leopards, monkey, siamese(!) jackals, elephants in the zoo and plenty of tiger, lions, bears on the safari.


The Nagarhole National Park, where we spent 3 days, is 4-5hrs southwest of Bangalore and if you ever in India I recommend you go there for a few days. This park and the neighbouring Bandipur park has the highest density of elephants in entire Asia (1500+) and around 65 tigers living free and roaming the 248 sq mile (Nagarhole) area. Traveling via boat on the Kabini river, we saw elephants, marsh crocodiles, deer, lots of monkeys (rhesus macaque and langur), and many different birds.


After getting up at 5am in the morning on Saturday, we headed out via boat to cross the river and then onwards on a Safari truck in search for tigers. Unfortunately, there was no sighting of them that day but still plenty of langur monkeys, gaur, wild dogs, hogs, and again all types of birds to watch.


video
buck fight!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stories from India (भारत) - Traffic

-After a long season it was time to take a break and we headed to India to visit family in Bangalore, India who moved there for work a year ago. I've seen parts of South East Asia but India is so much different, from culture, religion, food, languages and much more. Plenty of things to see and explore. 2 weeks are not enough time to see and understand everything but you get a descent idea of what life is like over here.

Traffic is crazy here, at least when you're coming from Europe or the US where driving is somewhat 'regulated'. Not here. Someone said you don't use your brakes, you use your horn instead. Having a horn is more important than having a working turn signal or lights on your car. It 'regulates' the traffic - Indian style. As a driver you are responsible for what you see ahead of you - the operators of other vehicles (bikes, rickshaw, scooters, cars, buses, etc.) just have to watch out to not hit you from behind or side. It all looks weird, and - for western standards - dangerous but it works out just fine and you rarely see any accidents. And last but not least, you don't want to hit a cow - ever. They are holy here and traffic comes to a halt if there's one on the road. And that happens quite often and everywhere - you just make your way around it or honk your way by.




video

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Conquer The Coast

After only a half-way satisfying-result last week in Laredo, Carlos, Sheri and I went down to Corpus Christi for the Conquer the Coast Criterium. Smaller race in a huge parking lot. Unfortunately, they don't have the cool downtown/hilly course from 2 years back but nevertheless it was lots of fun and some exciting racing. After the Women showed the 35+ 4/5 Masters how to win a sprint (Rheannon won, Sheri 3rd), we lined up for the P/123 75minute race - at 9:30pm! Alcala & Co. were at the start again but this time we got the better of them when Wally Groda (BikeBarn) and I rode away and ended up lapping the field 35minutes in. After Carlos pulled the same thing solo Wally and I went again and gained another lap on what was left of the field. Rather than sprinting against a fellow non-sprinter I decided to go for it with 3 laps to go and solo'd in for the win with Wally in 2nd and Carlos in 3rd.

Thanks to promoter Craig Hottell who found us a great hotel - the V Boutique - in Corpus on 701 N. Water Street. A very stylish, and nice place in downtown CC owned by a Vietnamese family including an in-house Vietnamese restaurant. If you're ever in CC, check it out.

Part two of city review is the Aqua Java coffee shop on William St/Water St. Great place for breakfast with (huge) $2.89 sandwiches and all kinds of sweets including a variety of coffees from around the world.
isolated thunderstorms over I-35

room at the "V Boutique" hotel

Aqua Java got plenty of coffee in the house...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Weekly Crit...in the country?

If you've never attended the Thursday Night Driveway Crits in Austin, you better make your way down. Last race is October 21st. Awesome crowds, tough races with big fields, and lots of great people. All thanks to Andrew Willis & Crew at Holland Racing!

tight finish with Wenger, yours truly, and Tyler Jewell (1st) last Thursday night. Photo by DCM Photography.

Interbike

I haven't been there for a few years so when the opportunity came up I jumped on it and headed to Vegas early Monday morning. Never been to the Dirt Demo on Mo/Tue so that was a nice change from things - riding bikes at 3000ft in Boulder City, checking out some new gear, talking to folks and seeing old friends.

I took a few pictures and put them up here in that Picasa slideshow:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Racing in Laredo

After TxTough on Thursday night we decided to drive down 3 1/2 hrs on I-35 to Laredo, only a stone throw away from Mexico. On a regular basis you'd drive 3+hrs up to Dallas on I-35 but going South on I-35 is pretty sweet - no traffic and instead of DFW you end up (almost) in Mexico.

There was a race called Laredo International Cycling Classic and a few locals asked me to come down there and race. Basically it was Carlos and I vs. Mexico since Alcala & Co. showed up in full force. This was a non-sanction USAC event so you don't need a license to race. Sheri did the Women's race and finished 4th - that's what Jerry Bueno and I saw at least. The "officials" gave her 5th, though. Go figure...

It was raining the whole day and a half we were down there. Some roads around the city were partly flooded and the 3.5mile circuit (10 times for 35miles total) had a plenty of water on it. But nevertheless we started with maybe 15 guys in the Open race. After a few laps Carlos was up the road with Hugo Hector and another guy. I was stuck with Alcala and 3 other "amigos", although they were not really friendly...After I punctured in the pouring rain it took me 20minutes to catch back up with the four guys since they obviously hit the acceleration button after I was gone. None of the dudes would work with me so I just covered every single of their attacks until they realized they wouldn't go anywhere today. In the meantime, the 3rd guiy in Carlos' lead group flatted and I was convinced CV had the win in the bag for us.

In the final sprint for 3rd I was on the right wheel (Alcala) but we drifted a bit too far right and the giant finish banner along with the officials standing on the road(!) made it a bit unsafe so I ended up 4th. End they actually gave me fourth place, too :-) Hugo Hector ended up beating Carlos in a tight finish for 1st so we had to be content with the $600 for 2nd place. Still, a good day considering the conditions.

We stayed in a nice hotel in South Laredo, 100yards away from the Rio Grande and "The Bridge" - the border to Mexcio. The hotel "La Posada" is a good place to stay if you ever down there and their restaurant is inexpensive and has some good American & Mexican cuisine.

giant dragonfly caught on camera

view from hotel (note: the flag on the Mexican site is at least 5 times bigger than the US flag on the Texas site)

the issues in Mexico are headlining the news in the local papers

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Time Trialing in Floresville...

...was fun and successful for Team Hotel San Jose ;-)

Photo courtesy of Photographs by Jim

oh, and something cool, courtesy of Kyler Eastman of University of Texas:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life

If you were at the local Thursday Driveway Crit last night, you know what this video below is about. If not, watch it again or read the article on KVUE here or visit Donate Life Texas.

Inspiring story to say the least.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tuesday Night Time Trials

Check out these vintage comic pages from many years back. Thanks to Jen Purcell for finding that on www.outyourbackdoor.com! Featuring Klaus, from Leipzig, East Germany (are they referring to Klaus Ampler maybe?)

http://www.outyourbackdoor.com/images/articles/121902_cat3.2.pg.1.sm.jpg http://www.outyourbackdoor.com/images/articles/121843_cat3.2.pg.2.sm.jpg

http://outyourbackdoor.com/images/articles/194640_cat3.2.pg.3.sm.jpg http://outyourbackdoor.com/images/articles/194614_cat3.2.tt.pg.4.sm.jpg

http://outyourbackdoor.com/images/articles/194601_cat3.2.tt.pg.5.sm.jpg http://outyourbackdoor.com/images/articles/194525_cat3.2.tt.pg.6.sm.jpg

Friday, August 6, 2010

Video Remix à la Driveway

Chris from Rapha / Mellow Johnny's came out to the Driveway here in Austin and brought a helmet/seatpost cam. Check out the footage from the Cat 3/4 race:


Monday, July 5, 2010

Rain & Fireworks at Tour of Lawrence, KS

After a successful trip to Lawrence, KS last year, the team was looking for another good weekend in the "Center of the USA" (the geographical center close to Lebanon, Kansas, to be precise). Josh, Carlos, and Travis drove in from Elite Nats from Bend, OR via Boulder, CO along with Sully while Ronnie and I made the trip up from Texas. I thought I'd be escaping the rain of Hurricane "Alex" but I was wrong. Except the Street Sprints on Friday Night we raced two days in the rain.

Josh kicked off the weekend in style by winning the Sprints, beating Nick Coil (left) and Dahlheim for 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

That cricuit race around KU campus is definitely the most fun circuit you do all year - mix in some 40mph descents and about a dozen slippery 90 degree turns and you have an exciting bike race! 500m into the race (it was raining, of course) a few guys already hit the deck and it was game on from there. I managed to work my way to the front where our Colorado-recruit Ben Blaugrund already settled in along with Sully. Unfortunately, Sean flatted and it was down to only two of us in a front group of about 12 riders. Thanks to good equipment and 80psi in my tubulars the rainy + slick roads didn't bother me too much...I felt okay physically, but only that and knew it would be hard to be there at the very end. That's when I told Ben to go for it when he sees the opportunity and sure enough he followed the right moves and made the podium by the days' end behind an on-form Dahlheim and former Mercy-teammate "Jose" Schmalz.

riding around KU campus with Hall, Bergman, & Co.

Ben Blaugrund on a slippery podium

Sunday's Crit was held on the same course downtown Lawrence again and having finished 2nd here last year myself with Heath winning we were motivated for a repeat and get Josh the win at the end of his 1-month race-trip across half the country. After a short spin in the morning (in the dry) I realized it will be a "wet affair" again:

But were able to execute our plan exactly as nothing would seriously get away for the first 45min of the 75min race and it was just time to follow wheels without wasting energy....energy we would need at the end do deliver Josh to the line up front and in one piece. There were only a few minor "sliding" crashes and people skidding but overall it was pretty good to see the field handling the slick pavement so well. I gotta give credit to the the tires again, though - never felt more comfortable running 80psi on the carbon tubulars in the rain. We took over with 6 or 7 laps to go and just rode a steady lead-out tempo to keep the pace high and keep others away from "swarming" us. It worked out well, although I had to dig deep a bit for a lap when Chad Haga attacked w/ 2 to go but the boys got everything under control and Sully held on for 4th while Josh took the win by a solid margin over 2nd place.

getting ready for 75minutes of fun in the wet...

...getting it done after 75minutes of great teamwork!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bike The Bricks and OKC Rocks

The 3-day-race weekends continued in McKinney and Oklahoma City this past weekend. McKinney Velo put on a new event in downtown called "Bike The Bricks" and it's definitely the coolest crit I've done in Texas besides the Downtown Austin Crits held over the last few years. It was a tight course, at night, and a quality field. We had the numbers but still, that doesn't guarantee anything in bike racing. Everyone wants to win and was hunting for that $2,700 1st place purse and a 15lb heavy trophy. It worked out well, with Sully + Ronnie making the move and Ronnie winning the sprint in dominant fashion for the "V". Me and Carlos ended up riding away from what was left of the diminished peloton for 7th and 8th place and we put all of our guys in the Top 20 or so. Great night.

Ronnie being "pro"

Two new events on the Oklahoma Race calendar followed Saturday and Sunday, fashionably labeled "OKC Rocks". This town might not be know to you for the great riding and racing opportunities but there's something in the making and those crits were definitely a sign that there's lots of potential for great bike racing in the future. My friend and fellow MSU Cycling alumni Greg Saxon is involved with it and it was good to be back in Okie-land! Day 1 around the State Capitol did not go 100% according to plan as Josh got narrowly beaten at the line by an early-charging Brian Jensen and we settled with 2nd, 4th, and 6th and the rest of the guys in the all in the Top20. But we made up for it on Day 2 when the same P12 field + Raul Alcala and his teammates from Mexico took on the 90-minute crit just south of the Oklahoma Capitol. Four of us made a solid break in the last 20minutes of the race and Sully, me, and Pat McCarty got away at the end with Sully taking the win ahead of RBM's MVP Pat and myself. The three of us ended up lapping most of the remaining field and I think I'm celebrating at the bottom of the finish "hill" in the pic below while Sully crosses the line for the "V".

Sully for the Win at OKC Rocks, Day 2