Archive for the ‘ cycling ’ Category

Focus

Today’s the last day of August, wow that’s hard to believe! It’s been a super eventful year and I’ve personally seen lots of growth while exploring the Triathlon world. The past week or so I’ve been sitting down looking at race calendars for the rest of the year. While there are still several triathlons in the Austin area, my funds aren’t and I’m not sponsored yet. It’s quite the challenge trying to budget for everything when both myself and my wife are active, being frugal and having two small children to care for. (We constantly fast forward a couple of years to ‘free school’ and smile). Nonetheless I am already signed up for a couple of long-distance cycling events. Thus the title of my post, focus. I will continue to maintain my fitness levels in swimming and running, but am shifting my needed focus to cycling miles in order to be ready for these long rides. Now that the weather should begin to taper off any week now will also help. My wife is training for the San Antonio Half Marathon in November so I’ve been getting creative with my riding. Earlier morning rides, and thanks to bicycle magazine for an awesome article on interval rides are ensuring that my training isn’t for naught. So what am I riding you ask?

First I hope to be randomly selected (or otherwise if I can figure out how) for the first ever Bike to the Bash. It’s the coolest free ride EVER. And put on by my team, Austin Cycle Camp. It’s a ride from Austin to San Antonio, and lots of fun to ensue.

The city of Round Rock hosts a ride called the Outlaw 100. And as the name implies it’s a century ride. Being as it’s in my backyard I’m excited for this to be my first bonafied century. It routes along a lot of the roads I ride normally anyhow. It usually coinsides with the timing for the LiveSTRONG challenge, but I lucked out this year.

Then finally, I’ll be riding in the LiveSTRONG Challenge Austin again. Rather than the 65 miles of hill country I rode last year, I’ll be pedaling out the full 90 mile route. I’m really excited as this is an awesome ride for such a great cause. Speaking of which, if you haven’t donated to support my ride, please click here. Every bit counts. And it all helps fight the war on cancer. I’ll be riding for all of those friends and family members who are fighting or have lost their fight with cancer. I would love your support by sharing your stories with me to help finish out the miles I ride.

Keeping 2 wheels down…

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Product Review: VitalSox Compression Socks

After doing some extensive reading and talking to other athletes for a while, I’ve been in search of a good pair of compression socks. The problem? Most run for $50-60. As good as the technology sounds, I just couldn’t bring myself to shell out that much cash for a pair of socks. So I had been content (not really) with my lack of recovery apparel until I was in Rogue Running a couple of months ago. I wasn’t very hopeful and was just meandering around the store when I went to the sock area. I noticed the VitalSox compression socks. The price tag lured me in, and I asked one of the associates if this brand had been very popular. He affirmed, and I was quickly on my way having an affordable pair of compression socks. I have run a ‘battery’ of my own tests mostly involving me slipping them on post race, or post big run/ride. I’ve even worn them overnight after a couple of major events. My thoughts? Awesome. No really, they’re awesome. Now just how to figure out how to get the wife & kids to not make funny faces when I wear ‘old man’ socks around!

Going back to Cali

My company hosts an Annual User Conference for customers at our corporate office in Bakersfield California every year. So two weeks ago I headed out and I spent the week there. The unfortunate part was the week was right before the Lake Pflugerville Tri. The fortunate part is I have lots of co-workers who like to ride & run. So I made the best of it and was out at 6am most mornings continuing my workouts. The first day really freaked me out because it was 6 in the morning and it was broad daylight outside! I blogged back in January about the cool bike trail that runs from end to end in Bakersfield and our hotel was pretty close to it, so this was my choice to ride. My buddy Jim loaned me his classic Richey which was fully loaded with Dura-Ace and a carbon steerer. A boy sure can get spoiled with equipment like that! Monday morning’s ride was a nice easy pace for an hour on the trail. Amazing.

Tuesday was different. Jim told me they do a Tuesday morning group ride at 6am. I said ok, I’m in. Then I heard some of my other co-workers start to talk about that ride. “Oh yeah, those guys are hammerheads.” “You’re going to do Round Mountain? That’s a good climb.” Meh, in my opinion pain is temporary and that’s the only way to get stronger. So we meet up with the group and rolled 30+ strong. It began on the trail for about 6 miles then into some great rollers. The pace was anything but slow. I had finally gotten Jim to tell me the route the night before, so I knew I was in for a challenge once the actual climb started. I felt I did a pretty good job of grabbing a wheel and hanging with the group.

Then we hit Round Mountain Road. In Austin we have lots of climbs. However they’re short, steep and painful. Nothing beyond a half mile in length (this is not a technical assessment, just my personal opinion. I’m sure some of my ATX riders will correct me!) The route we were doing would take us on about a 4 mile section of climbing up the road. I was nervous, but excited because I haven’t done a sustained climb before. It was epic, painful, fun, and a learning experience. All of the reasons why I love cycling. About 1/4 mile into the climb the group kept pushing up the pace, and all I could do was keep pedaling. Jim was kind enough to stay back with me. I stopped twice to regain composure. Jim said, “we can turn back anytime you want, or keep going.” I sat there with my head on the handlebars and said to myself, you know what self, you’re here, you’re on a bike, do the freakin’ climb. So we did, slowly. But I made it to the top. It was beautiful from up there. My GPS data showed about 1,400 feet of climbing. Not too shabby. The way down was interesting. Anyone that rides with me knows I’m chicken. And I’m ok with that. Jim however spent half of the descent with his hands in the air! Ended up being a great morning ride with a total of 35 miles.

The next day our co-worker Karen from Wisconsin wanted to ride as well. Seeing as she’s a short stack, she was able to ride Jim’s daughter’s bike. Karen has recently gotten into road cycling so she was excited to ride with us. We headed out southwest on the trail and Jim spent the first several miles giving Karen lots of good cycling tips. We kept a good easy pace and enjoyed the morning. About 6 miles in, Jim got a flat. So he was able to use that for more instructional time with Karen as well. We carried on and turned around the 10 mile mark. Jim had to turn off as his flat repair had gone awry and his house wasn’t too far away, so he was going to air up at home. Karen and I pedaled on. It was a smooth ride as we exited the bike path near Beach Park and headed for the streets to cut over to the hotel. I gave Karen instructions about the street & how we would make our way back over to avoid a lot of traffic. We turned the corner after a stop light and Karen found the black hole that exists between pavement and concrete curbs. She went down fast, and I being right behind her landed on top. There was literally no reaction time, but on my way down I remember yelling “I’m sorry Karen!” We got up, dusted off, pulled the bikes on the sidewalk and assessed the damage. Karen picked up a fair amount of road rash on her knee, elbow and hand. Her jersey looked like she had been through a street fight! I ended up with a couple of cuts on my shins. Karen’s bike seemed ok, minus the chain being off. I had a nice flat front tire. So I changed it, but in the process didn’t find the gaping hole in the sidewall and blew the new tube. So we begin the walk of shame. It was fortunately less than a mile to the hotel. We were running pretty late by that point, so it was a quick shower, Jim got Karen’s wounds dressed and off to training we were.

On Friday Jim & I talked about how it would be fun to ride part of the Amgen Tour of California when they came into Bakersfield the month before. It’s a pretty cool finish climbing up China Grade Loop and the around Panorama Drive. During the tour, this was the finish of stage 5, after over 100 miles then doing the loop 3 times! One of the conference attendees from Sacramento mentioned he had his bike (rockin’ a fixie) & would like to ride with us, as well as another co-worker said he wanted to ride. So 6am sharp the 4 of us rolled out NE on the trail up towards China Grade Loop. It was a good roll and the climb was very nice, reminded me of a lot of the climbs we have in Austin. Short(ish), steep and to the point! We carried on to the decent which was super fast and back to the trail to return home. It was another great ride to cap off a week of riding out in California. Minus 3 flats that day. Oh Yeah did I mention the flats? I’ve had 2 in a year at home and had 4 this week. Goat heads is what I think they call them…

Lake Pflugerville Tri Recap

So after the Rookie Tri, I thought I might be getting into the swing of things with Triathlons. So my buddies Matt, Luke and I registered for the Lake Pflugerville Tri. This was a no miss event for me seeing as the lake is only 8.5 miles from my house and the area where we do most of our usual training. The field was limited to 500 participants which was about half the size of the Rookie. The last month of training has been pretty solid, including some PR times on the swim and bike route for the race. I was also able to capitalize on the early daylight hours while in California for work last week. (more on that later)

We planned to meet at Matt’s house and ride the 1.5 miles from there to avoid traffic issues. BRILLIANT. It was an easy was to get in and a nice little warm up. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to rise and were able to pick some pretty descent spots in transition. My wife arrived with the kiddos in tow just before the pre-race meeting (this was father’s day afterall) and it was great to have them out there cheering me on.

The 8-year-old daughter of a friend who just returned from IronMan Kansas 70.3 sang the national anthem and the open division was off. The swim for me was pretty good. There was definitely much more bumping and kicking than I had experienced in the Rookie Tri, but that’s all part of the game. I tried to stick to my pace, sight the buoy’s and get as much oxygen as possible. All of these goals were met, and I in fact hit the first buoy square on. I made it to the beach and bolted to transition. I wanted to make sure and not ‘dottle’ my way to the bike. I’m pretty sure this may have been where my heart rate was indeed the highest through the race.

I made it to my bike, got my shoes on, helmet on and was ready to go. The only issue? I continued running past the mount line which was… silly. After a disappointing showing on my bike for the Rookie, I was out for revenge. I know the course by heart and was ready to go. I put my head down, eyes up and hands in the drops and I was gone. I began my assault and starting passing riders pretty quick. Once we turned past the Cele store, I knew the fun was about to begin, a series of rollers over a 4-5 mile stretch. And it was. Fun. Because I trained on it. And passed people on it. And owned. It. Average speed coming off was over 19mph. I was on target. The plan was to be able to turn up the pace after the rollers. I had a slight pause trying to get down some Hammer Gel before the final leg of the bike, but kept plugging away. The last leg of the bike was a little tougher for me than I had anticipated. It’s normally where the gas is able to be turned up quite a bit, but I was just maintaining. Before we turned I heard my buddy Matt yell behind me “come on Andrew, let’s do it.” Arg. Matt had finally caught up to me, which meant he was smoking his time. We stayed fairly close through the end of the bike route, but I geared down to spin up before the run.

In transition, I was really starting to not feel so hot. Well, yes hot, but not in the good way. I slipped into my running shoes, grabbed my visor & bib number and headed out. I could see the wife and kids as well as our friends at the top of the hill cheering. I managed to make it up the hill in good form, then hit the trail. Ouch. The run was going to hurt. Again. The first mile was ok. At least I thought the water station was at mile one, but it wasn’t! If you’ve never run around Lake Pflugerville, it’s a great trail. Minus the 2nd mile section on the backside of the lake that somehow doesn’t get any air movement, and is always a sweltering furnace of pain. And I mean it. The comfort I took was knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling on that side. There were many quality athletes that felt the pain. After hitting the mile 2 marker, I began my mental countdown. I didn’t want to look at my watch, but felt pretty sure I was on target for my goal of 1:30 finishing time. But I didn’t want to ruin it. So I kept plugging along, and only had the wind knocked out of my sail from a few amazing female athletes who coasted by me. I finally make it to the finish, arms in the air, eyes on the clock at 1:30, then over to my amazing wife and kids! It was done, I had finished it, and I felt…ok. I layed on the grass with a cold towel, regained composure, drank my recoverite and began to bask in the glow of another successful triathlon completed. It was a great day. My friend Matt had smoked his swim and bike. Luke also threw down a great overall time. So yeah this triathlon thing? Totally addicting! And Fun.

By the numbers-
Overall time- 1:30:24
500m swim- 14:16
T1- 2:28
14m bike- 43:30
T2- 1:16
3m run- 28:53
http://results.active.com/pages/oneResult.jsp?pID=87098681&rsID=95130

Why Even Wear a Helmet?

…if you’re not going to wear it the right way? I’m not really sure. But this has been bothering me lately. I’m seeing more and more cyclists out wearing helmets that aren’t on properly. I guess I just don’t get it. To err in their credit maybe they just haven’t been taught how to wear it properly. So shame on whoever sold them the helmet, or those who ride with them. So many people I see out just slap on the helmet and let it slip to the back of their heads. In the event they were in a rear end accident and landed on the back of their head they would be VERY well protected. But if they were projected forward (think about the momentum of the device they’re riding) it could be catastrophic because there would be zero to minimal protection.

This winter I had the privilege of joining ACA, Social Cycling and other groups out at a local elementary school to kick off their Freiker program. As part of it ACA donated helmets for all the kids. Not only that, but we properly fitted them, and taught them the correct way to wear them. So I thought I’d recap on my blog here to help the folks out I keep seeing. So for you, guy who commutes everyday around Round Rock with it improperly on your head and to the whole family of 4 I saw this weekend all with helmets on incorrectly, this is for you-

  1. Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head. You should be able to look up and see the brim of the helmet. Make sure the helmet covers the top of your forehead without tilting forward or backward.
  2. The straps form a V shape under each ear. You can easily check this by making a ‘peace’ sign with your hand.
  3. Fasten the chin strap below your chin — not to the side or along your jaw. There should be room for a couple of fingers, but you DO want it snug. Take a big yawn, the helmet should pull down on your head, if not, repeat step 2.
  4. If the bicycle helmet rocks from side to side or front to back, use the sizing pads that came with the helmet to get a better fit. Some of the newer helmets have an adjustable back which makes it easy to get the helmet snug without additional padding.

There are lots of great resources online that go into greater detail if needed, but that’s the gist. I really hope that the cycling community will continue to rally together and encourage cycling education, one part of which is safety. And especially if you’re a parent or older sibling please pass this information on and set a good example by wearing a helmet yourself. A well-designed and properly fitting bike helmet can prevent up to 88 percent of bicycle-related brain injuries, according to an industry estimate. I won’t go into the ins & outs of buying a helmet, there’s a lot to choose from. Just look for the certification sticker from ASTM, Snell, or ANSI. You don’t have to spend more to be protected more, all have to adhere to the safety standards. The more $$ you spend the lighter it can be, more aerodynamic, more airflow, warranty etc. My final thought is this, if you’re in an accident replace your helmet ASAP. Stay safe out there peeps, there’s a lot at stake.

the Rookie Tri Recap

Pre-Race

I spent as my wife would refer ‘all day’ Saturday in race prep mode. It was more of laying everything out; coming back later & working on transition settings; going and getting a transition backpack from VO2TC; checking my list; packing everything; etc. It wasn’t REALLY all day. I think. I made a good dinner at home that night and we retired early. Then my alarm went off at 4:30am and I got up and did what triathletes do, I ate and got ready. The race was held at the Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels which is about an hour away. We rolled down the highway, stopped at two Starbucks which were still closed and settled on McDonalds for a coffee fix. My wife took joy in passing all the tri-geeks with 10k bikes on the highway. There were smatterings of rain on the highway and a little drizzle when we got there. I’m sure there were about 1,000 extra prayers to avoid rain at that moment. I get everything set and we walk towards transition area in which I got my body markings on the way. I find a good spot on a rack about 4 rows back and close to the edge. I had to laugh because several of the guys around me had laid out full beach blankets for transition. LAME. I pull out my hand towel, lay it next to my bike and set out my running shoes, bike shoes, helmet, visor and running number. I ended up having to put my bag on the other side of my bike due to the yahoos with huge blankets. I had originally wanted to do a warm up swim and a little jog but after getting my bearings, checking the transition area, traffic flow and using the porta-potty once more there simply wasn’t time. They made an announcement that the water temp was 75 degrees. For being such a short race there were still several folks who opted for a wetsuit. I met up with Luke & Matt and we walked towards the start for the pre-race meeting. They make a few announcements while we stick our feet in the water. About that time we notice a huge dude with about 2% body fat and a tattoo on his left shoulder blade with the five little rings. Yup, that’s right an Olympian was about to swim with us, Brendan Hansen! He would go on to crush the swim in 4:10, yeah that was first. After the national anthem was sung it was show time.

Swim

The swim was pretty straight forward basically a U shaped 300m course at the Ski Ranch tank. The water was pretty calm and temperature was nice. It was definitely a spectacle to see the open division take off with an Olympian at the front. My was up next. We enter the water and since nobody else was I made my way towards the front. One of the best pieces of advice I got only a couple of days ago was to swim towards the inside. Most everyone takes the advice of going to the outside and it gets crowded. As soon as we go off, I join the crowd but quickly step back to the side and let the rush past. I was able to avoid most of the kicking and chaos this way. I got into my stroke almost immediately. My first sightings were off, but then I was able to follow the buoys great and even ran into one. I was amazed that there were swimmers hanging onto the ramps we past at about a 1/3 in. Just before I got to the turn I heard the announcer lead off the next wave. I was feeling really good because this was the pace I wanted. I wasn’t killing myself and was doing the stroke I trained. About half way down the home stretch I notice some different colored swim caps start to pass from the other wave, those guys were smoking. One thing I’ve notice with swimming is the end always seems so far. I kept sighting the finish, but it took a while to get there. I kept swimming once we got close to shore because the alga on the bottom was NASTY and deep. There were plenty of helpers to grab everyone out of the water and into transition it was… and a long run to the bikes.

Bike

I thought I might never make it to my bike rack. I always get pretty dizzy coming out of the water. In hind sight I should have sat on the ground to put on my helmet and shoes. Instead I stagger and almost trip several times. I slipped into my bike shoes but don’t fasten the tops. I grab my bike and run out of transition. One grave mistake that I would regret later was not strapping my shoes on yet. I was able to successfully tighten my right shoes, but I could never get my left shoe closed. I tried at least 10 times on the bike, but couldn’t feed Velcro through the eyelet. I slowed down tried, failed, repeat. Unfortunately I really let this error get in my mental game. I finally decided I could do without. The route was an 11.1 rectangle that started on the service road of I-35. I was never able to come pre-ride the route so it was all new to me. I heard a few riders concerned about a couple of the hills especially at the start. Fortunately for me I like to ride with Austin Cycle Camp. However it pains my legs, it’s always worth it when I come to an even like this. The hills were cake, and that’s where I made up the most ground. I passed up many riders going uphill after they bombed the downhill. The only riders that consistently passed me were the elite riding TT bikes with aero wheels. Whatever. I wasn’t riding as hard as I wanted too, and kept slipping into a comfortable pace rather than a Time Trial pace. I was conscious about not trying to kill it and leave some energy for the run. The final leg coming in was a nice downhill descent back to the Ski Ranch with lots of bystanders cheering. I hop off of my bike to run it into transition and could already feel my legs being heavy.

Run

I make it into transition, rack my bike pull off my helmet & shoes and slip right into my running shoes while grabbing my visor and bib number. I begin my ‘trot’ out of transition onto the run course. The legs were definitely heavy. I kept telling myself not to overdo it at the beginning. It was cool at the start of the run because all of the people cheering you on and they had a drum line playing some tunes. The run course was an out and back with a final lap around the lake to the finish line. I’m going to just say I’m not a fan of out and back on run, because you get to see the ridiculously fast people running the other way. Regardless I carried on with my slow pace. I knew that I could run faster in training, but just couldn’t muster the strength to pull that pace. When I finally rounded the corner to hit the home stretch around the lake I turned it up and came across the finish line strong.

Post-Race

Crossing the finish line I wanted to pass out lying on the ground. Which in my book was a goal. I didn’t want to cross and feel like I could have given a little more but didn’t. Not long after I crossed I was joined by my friends Matt & Luke. It was an awesome feeling that we all finished the event with respectable times. We were greeted at the finish with lots of cheering by spouses and bystanders, recovery drinks, food, etc. The best part may have been when we found the Advanced Rehab tent offering ART and massages. My IT band/quads were abnormally sore, so I immediately felt the benefits of these great people. All in all it was a fabulous event put on by Jack & Adams and High Five Events. It was so cool seeing folks from Monkey Wipes, and Red Licorice Events supporting as well. The more events I do the more faces I recognize and the more fun I have! Next up, the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon on June 20th.

By the Numbers:

Chip Time: 01:10:23
300m swim: 10:28
T1: 2:10
11.1m bike: 37:28
T2: 1:30
2m run: 18:45

see more photos here

RunFAR Bike TT Season Opener

A lot of my co-workers came in town this week for a user conference, including my friend Jim, who has a pretty awesome Richey break-away bike that he can travel with. Our plan was to sneak some riding in whenever we could during the week. I had remembered seeing some information about a low-key Time Trial posted on twitter. So I asked one of my local cycling buddies about it and decided we should give it a go. The Time Trial runs every other week and is put on by RunFAR. It’s a unique setup where you get a chip, and ride the course whenever you deem appropriate. Then they post the results online. The route itself is pretty straight forward you start at La Crosse on south MOPAC, go down turn around and come back. 8 miles with a gentle climb midway through. So Tuesday after we finished our training we load up the bikes and head out. The location is great because we able to get some warm-up time on the Veloway. When we finished warming up I started to notice several of my Team Austin Cycle Camp riding buddies and others who I had conversed with online but never in person. So it was pretty cool getting to chat for a bit. After we got our chips and oogled over the superfast TT bikes others had we head up to the starting line. It was a quick course, with a brutal wind on the backside. I mashed my pedals for as long as I could and came away with a decent time, 24:01. I hit the one goal i wanted, 20mph average. Up and away from here!

Editors note: this was totally supposed to be posted like 3 weeks ago…