Monday, May 14, 2007

Back Up To Speed

Well, since my last post I've done a good bit of riding. I rode in the Germanfest rally in Muenster, Texas. That was 64 miles of really hilly riding. I've ridden around town a good bit as well.

During the first weekend in May, I did the MS150. That was 2 days of windy, wet fun in North Texas. It was only a 75 mile ride each day, but the wind and rain made it a bit more taxing than it might have been. That said, it was probably the best organized event I've attended. 3,000 riders were taken care of by an army of volunteers at registration, rest-stops, the overnight facility and the finish line. The intersections were well marked and controlled by peace officers. I was truly impressed. If all fund-raising events were that well put together, fund-raisers in general might be better attended.

I have now told the kids that I won't go to another rally or race until the end of soccer season (mid-June). Who'd haver ever thought that I would consider it a sacrifice to not attend a strenuous day of bicycling. I will still be riding, just not at events taking place during soccer games. This past weekend, both kids played very hard at their respective games. It is a joy to see them enjoying themselves and getting good exercise at the same time.

Monday, April 16, 2007

To Mineral Wells and Back

I'm trying to get myself in good enough shape that the MS150 won't kill me. That ride will be a 2-day, 150 mile ride taking place the first weekend in May. The Ride for Heroes a few weeks back told me that I need to jack up the training regimen. With that in mind, I did a nice long ride yesterday afternoon. I parked my truck at a store off of I30 just outside Loop 820. I rode to the far side of Mineral Wells and back from there.

From where I parked, there are good access roads for the interstate all the way to Weatherford. Highway 180 goes from Weatherford to Mineral Wells and has nice, wide shoulders the whole way. The whole ride is about 80 miles round trip. The whole route is rolling hills with a few either very long or moderately steep hills along the way. As I've noted before, hills are not my friends. That being said, the outbound leg went pretty well and I averaged about 19 miles per hour. There was effectively no wind and I was fresh.

Just about the time I turned around, the wind kicked up to maybe 10 miles per hour. It wasn't much, but it was something else to contend with. The ride back just about killed me. By the time I was halfay back, I started wishing I had opted for a shorter route. I went so slow that my average speed had dropped to 17 miles per hour by the time I got back to my truck. While that ride may not have been one of my shing moments as a cyclist, I did at least get the miles under my belt.

Next weekend, we are going to West Texas for my niece's first birthday. I will take the bike along and get a good ride or two in while we are out there. The following weekend, I will be ride in the Muenster German Fest ride. It is about 60 miles through some fairly tough, hilly country. The weekend after that, I ride in the MS150. I think that I will have trained well enough to complete the ride without too much trouble.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ride For Heroes

Well, I partici;ated in my first group ride of the year. I had initially intended to run in the H.A.N.K. (Helping Another Next of Kin - a foundation whose purpose is to financially help the families of wounded or killed police officers in Tarrant County) 4 Mile Run this weekend. But, my bike wreck a few weeks back sort of set my knees back on the recovery schdule. I felt like I might complete the run, but would be in lots of pain.

So, at the last moment I signed up for the Ride For Heroes. This event is a fundraiser to help the volunteer fire departments of east Parker County. I thought that if I couldn't participate in an event for one good cause, I'd do another. Keith Hollar had really recommended this event and said that is well put together and worth doing. There are several courses you can choose from: 8, 20, 32, 40, 52, 64, and 75 miles. Being the stud athlete (if you can't tell, this is an example of that bit of nasty humor they call sarcasm) that I am, I rode the 75 mile course. Now bear in mind, I haven't ridden anything longer than 40-50 miles since October. And, I hadn't done those nearly often enough. But, "I can gut it out."

Well I finished, but "gut it out" is the right term. The ride was a lot hillier than I expected with a lot of long slopes. There was also a good bit of wind. Somewhere around mile 50 I started thinking, "I'm gonna have to call someone to come get me." I kept repeating the mantra, "Please don't cramp!" to my legs through a series of particularly nasty hills. At the 60 mile rest stop, I sat down for about 5-10 minutes and just chilled out. After that, I felt a lot better and finished up with a lot more speed and power than I thought I had left. This was a wakeup call. I am going to have to seriously get training before I do any competitive rides this year. I rode some this winter, but not nearly enough.

All that being said, I perversely enjoyed myself. As I've heard someone say, "A bad day on the bike is better than a good day in the office." Also, the ride was as well put together and organized as Keith had said.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Best Ride In Months and a Fun Time With My Boy

Yesterday afternoon, I had the opportunity to take a nice ride on the bike. I had already had five rides in the previous seven days, which is something I have not been able to do in some time, due to weather constraints. The wind wasn't too bad. It was neither too hot nor too cold. Shorts and a cycling jersey were sufficient attire. I took a route that led me on a loop south of town, back up into downtown and then back to my house. It wasn't a particularly long ride, but it was awesome! I rode 39.92 miles in 2 hours and 20 seconds. I haven't been able to maintain that speed over a long distance in a long time. It felt good!

When I got back to the house, I got a shower and changed clothes. Then, I packed up my little boy and his bike and we went to the park. I wound up jogging about a mile and a half chasing him around on his bike. He had fun honking his little bike horn at all the other cyclists, walkers joggers and folks playing in the park. Once he tired of riding his bike, he went and played on all the playground equipment.

After playing at the park, we wnt to Sonic and had, as my wife likes to call it, a frozen dairy confection (ice cream, or in this case we shared a vanilla malt). When asked what he wanted, he told me that he wanted whatever I was having. It really hits me at times like this the responsibility I have to my kids, particularly to my son. He wants to be like me. He wants cycling clothes like mine. He wants to wear matching clothes to church on Sunday. It reminds me to watch what I say and do. He is always watching me. It seems to me there are more than a couple of songs written wbout this very phenomenon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Father/Daughter Banquet

Last night, I had the pleasure of escorting my beautiful little girl to the Father/Daughter Banquet put on by her school. Caitlin was beautiful. Her Mama had made her a very intricate embroidered silk dress and then done her hair up in a gravity-defying do. I dressed up, brought her roses, opened doors for her and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

The meal was nothing to write home about, and neither was the entertainment. Heck, they even had me give a little impromptu speech about my little girl, so you know the entertainment budget was low. But, none of that was the point. The point was spending time with my little girl and making her feel like this was a special evening just for her.

My wife has made the point that little girls grow up and look for men who will treat them like their Daddy did. That puts a little pressure on dads, but it is a good kind of pressure. Just like we should always remember to treat our wives with the same love and respect Christ gave his bride, we should treat our children as individuals worthy of love, respect and attention. I was somewhat saddened when two of the fathers spent the entire evening talking about football and NASCAR and basically ignored their daughters.

My fervent hope is that my kids can look back on their childhood with fondness and want their children to have similar experiences.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Windy Weekend For Ridin'

This past Friday, I had planned to get in a nice long ride before work. When I woke at 4:00 a.m., it was 15 degrees and windy. I rolled over, climbed back in my warm covers and got some more sleep. Saturday morning, it was a little better. It was about 35 degrees and blowin' about 10 mph. I got a 38 mile ride in before the fam was ready for breakfast. I didn't melt my tires with speed, but I got some miles under my belt.

Later that morning, I took my son to the bike store to poke around a bit and then we went to the park (my daughter had spent the night at a friend's and my wife was hosting a ladies' party at the house). We really had a good time. My little boy is a fun kid, particularly when he gets me all to himself.

Sunday morning was another aborted ride. I had slept poorly and decided not to ride then. The previous night's news had said that Sunday afternoon wasn't gonna be too windy, so I pushed my ride back until after church and lunch. The news was wrong. The wind was between 15 and 20 mph with gusts a lot higher than that. By the time I made it home, I was thrashed. My legs were cramping and I was ready to get off the bike. Part of that is the fact that I had ridden two days in a row after a couple of months of not riding more than twice in a week. Part of it was the wind and the hilly route I took. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There's a peace out on the bike that I'm hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

As the weather is warming up a bit, I intend to try and get 3-5 long rides a week to work back up to some long rides. There's a metric century (100 km) ride I plan on making in April. I will also be riding the MS150 (a 2-day, 150 mile fund-raising ride for MS). Of course, I will also be riding in the 2007 Hotter'n Hell 100 in August. I hope to get some other organized rides in between now and then.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Life Ain't Bad

You know, there was a point in our lives where it seemed like nothing could go our way: our daughter was born incredibly premature and both she and Erin nearly died in the process; we lost two babies in miscarriages; my grandmother died; my father was dignosed with and died from melanoma cancer; my uncle died; my good friend, Mark Auer, died; another uncle died; my truck was stolen; our son was born incredibly premature and both he and Erin nearly died in the process; and I basically had a nervous break-down and left my job. We withdrew. We held onto each other and pushed everyone else away. My spiritual life was essentially dead.

Cut to the present: I have a beautiful wife with whom I am desparately in love; we have two beautiful and healthy children; Erin and I each have small businesses that, if not making us wealthy, at least pay the bills; and my spiritual relationship with my Lord, while not what it should be, is much better.

Isn't it funny how, in such a short span of time, things can change so very much. I am not wealthy. Except to my family, I am not terribly important or influential. I hold no patents. I'm not on any boards or councils. But, I am content with my life. Sure, I strive to be more and better. But, where I am now is okay.

God, thank You for the many blessings You've given me. Hold me when I'm weak and use me as an instrument of Your love when someone else is weak.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

K eith Hollar ( ) tagged me with the challenge to list 5 Things You May Not Know About Me.

I'm an awkward combination of somewhat boring and an open book. But, I'll give it a shot:

1. I was the drummer in my junior high's jazz band.

2. I turned down a football scholarship to attend the college my then future wife planned to attend.

3. I proposed to Erin at a scenic outlook in the Colorado Rockies. I was trying to propose at sunset and had to drive like a maniac chasing the setting sun up the mountains. Erin wasn't sure if I was breaking up with her or trying to kill us both. She head no idea I was trying to propose.

4. I have a not so secret urge to be a semi-pro cyclist.

5. I played a snowplow driver in a Christmas play put on by the Campus Advance ministry of Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock.

I'm supposed to tag 5 more folks, but it looks like everybody whse blog I know has already been tagged.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Semi-Random Rant

Today, we had the first day in a while with no snow, rain or ice. It was even pretty sunny. It was a bit windy, but you can't ask for everything in the winter. So, out I go for the first long ride in a few weeks. Toward the end of the ride, I was worn out from the long ride and fighting the aforementioned wind. I came upon another cyclist and we played tag for a bit in the last few miles of my ride. About three miles from the house, we crossed over a low water dam of the Trinity River in Fort Worth. You go down a long ramp, cross over the dam, and ride back up another long ramp.

A guy on a mountain bike had been coming from the other direction and followed us down. Coming up the other side, he decided we were too slow and went right up the bank. Great, he's fresh, in a hurry and jumped past us. Then, he slows down. We get close and pass him, which apparently got his blood boiling and a minute later he comes barrellin past us and... guessed it - he slowed down again. Normally, I would just have sprinted ahead and dumped the guy, but I was beat. Finally, after the fourth time he passed me and then made me get all over my brakes by slowing down right in front of my front wheel, I stepped up the pace just enough to leave him behind. I guessed he just wanted to tell his buddies he'd passed and stayed ahead of a couple of roadies. To tell you the truth, the speed he climbed that bank was pretty darn impressive. And, if he'd kept up the speed he made when he passed us, I would have been thoroughly impressed and then not thought anymore of it. At best, he blew past us and then was so winded he had to slow down. At worst, he was beeing a butt and just wanted to show us who was boss by making us work to keep from corn-holin' him.

I'd really like to run across this guy when I'm a litle fresher, or get him to tag along on a long ride to see how he does. Anyway... point, just a rant.