Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Keep it on the DL

sexy bitch
So I'm a week behind, so I will write about both weekends here. First, Double Lake (DL) week. I got some great mileage on the bike that week: 1hr recovery ride on Monday and then a 2hr tempo session, both down on the Fruit Loop. Its been easy to distract myself by hooking up to pacelines and logging some quick miles that way. I feel really strong now. Can't wait to see how I match up in competition. Went to training only once that week because the other night was Valentines Day, and for once I actually had a date that night. Good times. Then came the weekend. Saturday, we decided to get our Red Bud Team together for some hill training. So Nick and Weihan the Warship met up with me at Double Lake. Jaunda decided last minute to join us. It was a nasty, cold weekend, so none of us were looking forward to it. We decided Double Lake because there was a HART training session going on later that day and I agreed to help Rick out.

We reluctantly suited up in the 30+ degree weather, with wind gusts in the 20s and drizzle. We decide to take a loop in Coldspring: 2025 to 150 to 156 to 224 back to 156 to 224, etc. It is mostly rolling hills on 224, similar to the Red Bud course, so it was really good training. But the weather made it a lot tougher. At a point it actually felt like it might snow! After a couple of loops, we decided to call it, especially since the training session at DL was about to start. So we got back, all beaten and worn down by the weather. I was ready to help out, but all Rick had me do was watch for the racers at one turn off during a run leg...that was it. Then he sent me home. I was a little disappointed because that was the whole reason we moved our training session to that location...but then again, we discovered that good training loop, so I wasnt too sad about it. Since I still had time during the day, I decided to drive back into town and over to Memorial and do a short run. I did the jogging loop and my knee didnt act up. So I was happy about that--it looks to be on the road to recovery.

having a personal chef is nice!Next week was much of the same. Went to HART on Monday and Wednesday, doing some running. Good signs. 2hr tempo work on Wednesday. All throughout the past two weeks I have been continuing my Total Immersion swimming lessons. I am now doing zipperswitches, which is just about almost to full freestyle swimming. It is weird at first, but then the motion actually flows really well! I can't wait to tie it all together and see how I do. Saturday I was supposed to go to Muleshoe to do some recon for Eco Lonestar, but Ross called me early that day warning me it was pretty muddy from the rains. So I stayed in town. I actually tried to paddle on Buffalo Bayou but the trail riders were in town and they had blocked off most of Memorial Blvd, so I couldn't get to any of the put in points. So it became a lazy day at the house, which was nice for a change.

As a form of punishment, I went to Jester on Sunday to see if my new set of compact cranks would help me up the hill...the Warship foolishly accompanied me. We had an ambitious plan to do Jester a few times and then do a 40mi loop in the area. Boy, that didnt happen. Without Nick to insanely push us along, we only did Jester a couple of times and bailed on the hilly route on 2222/360/71/620. I was content that the compact cranks worked, so I didn't feel like pushing it and the Warship oddly agreed with me. So we spent the rest of the day touring Austin's bike shops and hit 6th street for food. But on our way back from Austin, guilt set in and we decided to do a short ride in Brookshire. I knew a 30mi route by heart out of there, so we did that. It was actually a pretty good tempo ride--we had a headwind, but still pushed really hard and kept it around 20mph. Then heading back we were around 22-23mph for the most part. Feeling good about ourselves, we went home.

The best news of the past week is that our team Gander Mountain/HART is now #1 in the nation! I'm so stoked about that!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Going Maverick on Jester

Come and get it!
Alright, alright. I know I've been slackin. I've been letting things distract me, but it doesn't mean training hasn't been going on. Oh the contrary. Since the Supergrind we've been getting in some good workouts. Swimming has been going, well, swimmingly. I'm starting to master the drills and they're actually pretty fun once I get relaxed and have my breathing under control.

The weekend afterwards we headed to Austin for some hill training, and yes, to finally meet up with Jester. Who would win this time around? Did I have him in my sights? Or did my wingman leave me, leaving my backside exposed...I would say the latter. That hill is a b****!!! We leisurely drove into town after work on Friday and stayed at Nick's sister's place in the West Lake area. His nephews are monsters...and I thought Ethan was bad!! They complemented each other well: one was a master thespian and the other was a daredevil--he still had scars from his last attempt to rodeo at the neighbor's dog's expense. I'm thinking, the future of texas adventure racing! I'm sure Nick is thinking, the future of texas MOUNTAIN BIKING. Anyway, we got in a little late, settled in and then headed out to Jester early Saturday morn. It was a sunny day, but cold and windy. We were driving along and I look to my right and there was a road out in the distance and I was thinking, "that looks a little steep...I wonder what road that is?" Yep, you guessed it, it was Jester of course. Holy shnikeys!

so you think you can tame the Jester, huh?!?
I was about to cry even before getting on my bike. To test things out, I brought both my road and mountain bikes. I had originally wanted to use my road bike, but Nick insisted that I might want to use my mountain bike since I will have more gears to choose from. Man, I'm glad I listened to him. I first headed out on Masi and I was fine at first, but the road started to turn up steeply. Crap. I was still moving, but not at a sustainable pace. I was churning hard with my rpms in the low teens I'm sure. I was so dumbfounded and my lungs were burning that I finally decided to stop midway. Nick caught up with me and stopped to see what was the matter. I told him my plight and he told me to go back and switch to a mountain bike. Problem was, Jaunda had the car keys and she was heading up the hill, not intending to stop like we did. Crap. So it was either go back down and wait until they got done, or forge ahead foolishly. The mere fact that I listed two options here should let you know which one I did. After Nick started back up, I contemplated a little, about the meaning of life, if there's a doggy heaven, and how much crap Jaunda will give me if I didnt finish the first climb. So I went for it. Slowly. It hurt like a mofo and I used the switchback technique to make it more bearable for my legs. I eventually made it to the top, but my lungs were now en fuego!

The ride back down the hill was awesome, though! I hit 45 no prob, but had to slow down at the curve where the crosswind seemed to pick up. Even cars were going slower than us! It took me a bit of time to recover and I really didnt want to go back up, but Nick and Jaunda assured me it would be better on the mountain bike, so I finally agreed to try it. Nick also brought his slicks so that I could try then out with the mtb setup. We put them on and then it was round two. Though still painful, it was a lot more of a controlled, smooth effort up the hill on Eve. I was going a lot slower than I wanted to before even knowing how Jester would be, confirming that I had set my expectations too high. I let go of those expectations and just tried to get a good workout in. We did that damn hill 4 times and Nick finally called uncle. It was a great workout but I was a bit heartbroken. Still, to this day, I won't let it go and I'm set on using my road bike to do Jester in a couple of weeks. I've even ordered a set of compact cranks to change out on the Masi. This weekend I plan to test them out with the Warship.

After meeting with Jester, we headed over to Emma Long to get in some technical riding. But SOMEONE over at the Austin Adventure Racing Team forgot to let us know that Emma Long was closed to mountain bikers that weekend because there was some kind of motocross event going on. Again, stifled. So we decided to ride the greenbelt instead, which was fine with me since I haven't ridden it before. We mounted and were off in no time. It was really fun--a few rocky spots and river beds that proved a challenge, but it was just plain fun throughout. We did an out to Barton Springs and back. Packed up and headed back to the homestead to get ready for dinner. Nick's sister, Zelda, was able to get a sitter, so she joined us at this mediterranean place not too far away. It really looked sketchy from the outside at first, but once we went in, it was very cozy and inviting. We decided to go and try the outdoor heated gazebo. Not exactly what I was expecting, but the food more than made up for it. It all tasted great! Afterwards we headed to Wholefoods to get coffee for the morning...and it was tough getting Jaunda to leave that place! I got to admit all the food there looked good, too. I held off and didn't buy any of the chocolate...I must have been sick or something.

Next day was a little off the hip. I had my sweat testing with Matt Pahnke at the human performance lab at UT...same lab that Lance did his testing. And, yes, Matt confirms that Lance has broken up with Sheryl--stop asking him! Anyway, that was at noon and it took about about an hour all together. Conclusion: I sweat a lot. Actually, the good finding is that I sweat a lot of sodium, which could explain a lot of things that happenend last summer. I was on the upper edge of sodium loss as compared to the Hawaii Ironman subjects he tested. Anyway, Nick and Jaunda picked me up shortly afterwards and we decided to call it a weekend. We headed back and were home late Sunday night. Good times, good workouts.

Well, I've run out of lunch time, so I will end it here for now. Next time I will talk about Double Lake weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


[EDITED: They have made amends.]

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Texas Supergrind Recap

Alright, I have a little time now before the Annual Membership Meeting for HART at Gander Mountain. So lets see...how did it all go again? We headed out Saturday morning at about 1030 or so...at least that's when Monty and Jackie showed. Nick and Jaunda brought up the rear. I was so happy because I was going to showcase a new helmet cam made by Oregon Scientific, the ATC-1000! Nick had told me about it and when I read about it, I thought it was really cool! Its self-contained and is just a tube that you can strap onto your helmet or handlebar. So I got it and set up my helmet-cam that morning--I had already tried it out in the car to see how long a 1gig SD card would last--about an hour. I did this a couple of times...this will be a very important piece of information for later on.

Anyway, after messing around a bit with Toby...poor Toby, he was given away that same weekend...we loaded up the HART van, which Rick had let us use for the weekend, and the Bludworths followed us out to Boerne. I had Nick drive first, hoping it would keep him preoccupied...it kinda did, it kinda didn't. After stopping in Columbus for lunch and getting some gas, I fell asleep on the way there. Jaunda was navigating, so I had no worries...it was Nick that kept calling a UTM ruler an ATM card. Down I-10, around San Antonio on 1604, a left on 46, and a right on Deep Hollow--we were there, Tapatio Springs.

We checked in first so that we could change clothes before pre-riding the course. As I had said in a previous blog, they had removed the fabled "Supergrind" from the race course, which left us dismayed. But Nick wasn't about to get cheated out of his money. While we were all changing into bike clothes, me expecting us to drive up the Supergrind and do the regular course, Nick asks me for the keys to the bike locks. I nonchalantly told him, "in the center console" of the van. Dumbass, I was so oblivious. He was taking down the bikes, BEFORE we drove up the Supergrind. So he was determined to ride the Supergrind today! I didn't realize this until Jaunda slowly explained it to me. Then it clicked and the dread started to fill my body. Criminy, that hill has similar grade to Jester, which I guess is good if I want to train for Jester. But we had a race the next day! I couldn't back out now--he had ALL our bikes prepped and ready to roll, painfully up that hill.

We mounted our steeds and creeped our way to the Supergrind. Thankfully, there was a small downhill before we got there, which gave us a running start at it. But it didn't help much--as soon as the pavement steeply turned up, we were to a crawl. To boot, something was wrong with my helmet cam. It turned itself off right before we even got to the Supergrind. "Huh" I said then turned it back on--it seemed to be working...I had no more time to fiddle with it, though, as I was now at the foot of the monster. Slow and steady I told myself...no popping today. At first I kept it in the middle ring to see if I could keep the speed I thought I would need at Jester, but then I remembered I was racing tomorrow. So I kicked it back a notch and dropped into the small ring, but still trying to keep a good clip. We didn't have a warmup, so my lungs were burning. We all survived the climb, but my chest felt like it had caved in. Then I inspected the camera to see if it got my awesome climb--gah! It was turned off again. Apparently, there was a reason why they didn't put the estimated record time on the box--because its less than 2 hrs on 4 AAA batteries!! I was pissed! We tried cannibalizing batteries out of Jackie and Monty's blinky lights, but those too were drained. What a waste. I got over it and we slowly got back in our saddles and headed toward the trails.

First section was rocky with some dispersed double track ending in single track. It was tight and there is one downhill switchback on this section that I couldn't clear, so I just jumped off before it, even in the race. I figured I wouldn't lose that much time as long as I got off early and ran through the switchback, which was the case during the race. We slowly went along, analyzing the trail for clean lines. We hit the first road crossing and then had to climb up the road pretty much right away. Thankfully, what goes up must come down...we got some good speed going until we hit the single track again. Our first earnest climbs, up technical single track with switchbacks and big rocks. Good times. Here, I kept coming back to sections that I didn't clean the first time, which paid dividends during the race! Slowly we made it up the hillside, finally ending at a double-track road at the top of the climb. The rocks were definitely taking their toll.

The rest of the trail was similar, but not as tough. Just the same rocks that shook the daylights out of you. In no time we were back to the beginning. It was a good preride--no one got hurt and we knew what to expect now. After trying (unsuccessfully) to reach the registration table before it closed, we rode back down the Supergrind. Yeehaw!! We got up to speeds of 40-45mph! I'm sure we could have gone faster, but brakes were applied since the bottom of the hill was no longer policed. What a rush! We put up our bikes, showered, and headed back down 46 for dinner. We stopped at Naples Pizza and Restaurant for some pasta and wine. It was great--I had the Rigatoni. What I actually liked a lot was what Jaunda got--the Gnocci! I did it all for the Gnocci! The Gnocci! So you can take that Gnocci and...radio edit. It was yummy and a couple of glasses of red wine for the antioxidants, per Ciopollini's prescription. We had an odd, fired-up waitress, who seemed to be on something...she slightly reminded us of a female Dennis Miller. But she did treat us well...even though she tried to charge us with 6 extra glasses of wine! That was it for us--it was straight to bed after that.

Jackie and Jaunda working on race strategy
Beep-beep!...beep-beep!....beep-beep!....beep-beep-beep-beep-beep...! WTF?!? As Nick said, "what the heck is that noise?!" It was Jaunda's ironman watch, set at a gosh-darn-awful time....and it went off more than once! She couldn't turn it off, so she ended up wrapping it up in a towel and putting it in the bathroom. Smooth....silence...."Oooh, Ooooh, its Saturday! Ooh, Ooooh!" WTF again?!? This time it was my phone. Text messages coming in...I had no idea how to stop them from coming. I couldn't turn off the phone because I had set the alarm for when we were supposed to wake up. So I tried to set the network to where I thought it wouldn't get a signal. But an hour or so later I found out it didn't work and Ludacris was blaring into my ear. I turned it off quickly to avoid the whinings of ol' Nick.

The morning came and we got up at around 6am. Breakfast at the Tapatio restaurant at 7 and we were suited up and ready to head up to registration and the start line. It was cold and windy. Monty and I started to warm up since sport started at 9am. A lot of racers. After the prerace chat, we staged at the starting line. There were about 30 in my age group and Joe Love was there. We said 'hi' the day before, but now it was gametime--no pleasantries. He was the only one I recognized from racing 2 years ago. I also saw Andreas a minute before--he's in the age group behind me. 9am. First age group goes. Adrenaline starting to surge, but not as much as it did 2 years ago--I was more experienced and mature and knew pretty much what to expect. Calmness. Tranquilo. We edged closer and closer to the start. I gave Jaunda my jacket as she was watching us start before her and Jackie would get ready for their 1pm start.

Go! We were off. I had a tough gear ratio going but did not go for the front position since I knew it would be a long technical race and I would be able to whiddle them down in the second lap. So I started conservatively and was in the top half of the field. Cruising along, no problems so far--well within myself. We hit the first road crossing and this is where I pass my first group of people and then tucked in behind one guy to hide from the wind. I passed more people and was now hovering in the top 10--just where I wanted to be. We entered the single track on the other side and I passed yet more people as they popped on the climbs. My technical skills are a lot better than 2 years ago and I was clearing stuff with no problem and kicking butt on the switchbacks.

Then we hit this barney train going way too slow, but we had no room to pass in the highly rocky, rooty terrain. So I just slipped into a very small gear and made sure to stay balanced even though we were now crawling. I could tell the people behind me would get hung up because they weren't adapting. Finally, it started to clear so I started making my moves. But then it happened. My rear tire was way too mushy and I looked down and was immediately depressed. Flat. Just like the beginning of my fall series in 2004, I got a pinch flat...and again I was thinking about DNF'ing. But this time, since we were in the team challenge, it would be important that I at least finished, so I started changing my tube. I saw Andreas as he went by. That's when I knew I was slipping way behind the pack. Thankfully it was a pretty clean switch out and I was back on the trail...but I still had a lot of work to do now. I sped up and tried to catch up, but at the same time kept it even so that I wouldn't just end up blowing myself up.

One by one, I worked myself back into the pack. I was now treating this as a pure training ride, so I concentrated on my technique and passing skills. I felt strong, even though I was pushing to get back into the thick of things...this makes me wonder how I would have placed without the misfortune of a flat. Chip, chip, chip...little axe. The last final technical ascent and I was still picking off riders...then there was this junior rider that didn't give trail. No problem, I just waited at the top of the climb where I knew he would slow down to navigate the rock garden. I made my move, but he swerved into me as he was trying to maneuver around a large rock. Instinct took over and I leaned into him, thinking he would lean into me so that we could give each other support and get through the rocks. But he was not prepared for this so I ended up getting the good end of the deal and was able to pop off of him and keep riding, but he had to stop. I felt bad, but as Jaunda said, I probably made him a stronger rider because of that...plus as Rick would say, rubbin is racin.

PaynesThis was now the final stretch...the big ring stretch, theoretically. But the headwind negated this. So I just found the biggest guy ahead of me and pushed to chill in his back pocket...wheel sucker extraordinaire. But I didn't feel too bad because there was a guy behind me pretty much doing the same thing in my pocket--hiding in it. So we did this for a short while, but the guy giving me the ride was starting to peter out in the wind. So I pulled to the side and started hammering to see if the guy behind me could follow. He could and he did. But he didn't try to pass, so I still dictated the pace. We turned around away from the wind, so life was good again, but the rocks made their reappearance. Then I goofed a bit and took a really bad line through a rock garden. I was sure he would pass me up here, but he never came. He was still there, hugging my back wheel. This is where I figured out he must be hurting. So I poured it on a bit to see if he could respond. He couldn't and he didn't. The last sharp turn back into the wind and into the finish line. I poured it on thick like mollasses and I put a gap on him. He and a few others were starting to gain on me, but it was too late--the finish was only a hundred meters away. I stopped my mashing and sat up. It was a good race and a fun race despite my flat. I finished 18th, which I guess isn't too bad for having a mechanical.

BludworthsShort after my finish, I ran into Nick as he was getting ready for his race. I saw him off as his age group of experts flashed through the start line. Then I ran into the ladies and Monty after he finished. He apparently had a few nasty spills during the race, so bad he contemplating the DNF. But he kept at it and finished strong. We went back to the van and tahoe as Jackie explained that the Tahoe had a huge gash through the rear left tire. Jeepers, those rocks are vicious! So, Monty switched out the tire quickly so that we could head down the hill and wash up, eat lunch, and come back in time to watch Jackie and Jaunda race.

MMMM, blinzte!!Showered and packed up, we left the hotel rooms for the last time. Ah, and this is where the deception starts. First, I pull a fast one on the Tapatio Resort staff--they called me Mr. Jaunda Payne. Funny how my credit card said Kenny Farrow, but they chose to ignore that, even as we walked out of the hotel lobby. Have a great day, Mr. Payne! Nice. SR-71 in full stealth mode. Next, we tell Jaunda, Nick, and Jackie that we would just stop by the restaurant for a quick hamburger or something of the like. We walk in and are greeted by the host, asking us if we wanted brunch. Monty proceeds to tell them we just want lunch. But the host tells us all they have is brunch and that this will be the best brunch that we have ever experienced. So we bit--we were fully served and waited on like we were still resort guests. So while the others were foregoing lunch at the moment, Monty and I were enjoying our champagne, crab stuffed tilapia, and chocolate cake. Evil. Oh, it was so delightful and this is where I commented, "this is not mountain bike racing!" But I continued on with the pampering then tipped the wonderful piano player as we waltzed out of there, fully satiated. Oh if they only knew...

Chomping on Bit
So we buzz back up the hill, just in time to watch Jaunda and Jackie take off in their age group. They were off. I went to the other side of the start loop to catch them on the flip side and that's where I saw Nick. I was excited to hear how he did, but then he tells me that he had a flat! Kicker was that he didn't have any tools with him, so he was trying to pry the tire off with whatever twigs were around him at the time. Unfortunately, twigs do not double well as tire levers. He wasn't able to switch out his tubes, so he ended up DNF'ing. Oh well, he already had a good training weekend in from yesterday. He was okay with it.

Winners PodiumThen we positioned ourselves along the trail to see the women pass by...and there was Jackie blazing up the rocks and roots! She was kickin some tail! Jaunda was not too far behind, trying to hold off a couple of women in her age group. We sprinted to the finish as they would cross soon...and there was Jackie, in first place! Yehaw!! Jaunda was fighting for 5th, but had a small crash right before the final straightaway and had to settle for 7th. Even so, everyone was in good spirits as they had done all they could do, which is all we can ask of anyone. We waited for the award ceremony, which seemed to never come, to see Jackie take the podium. It was awesome!

Kenny checking the results out
So that was it. We packed up our gear, headed into Boerne for a quick linner, and pushed onward back to the H. So in summary, it was a great weekend with great friends! I'm already looking forward to the next mountain bike race weekend...for me, Waco. Team Challenge results are now up. Next, Jester Part I.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Well I see your Bumpytio and I.....ok I'm bluffin I fold!!

I posted a quick blog just to put something up because I had to go to work. And plus I like to see what the SR-71 puts up so I can give another opinion from my view. But I agree with man this mountain bike race weekend was a blast. As I went to work I pondered on what I was going to write. But as I read the last article in one of my mountain bike magazines this guy hit my views right on the head. His name is David Alden and he wrote in the drop off section of mountain bike magazine. His title Finish lines, flat tires and fun. Kind of summed up our whole weekend. I may tweak the story just a bit to custom fit it to what happened when I went to work. But my works cited page is in the above mentioned.

It's a sure bet somewhere in the country there is a mountain bike race going on somewhere. Some are winning and some are not quite winning. I am in the latter group as of now.

I'd like to win, bit I'm okay with my results. I'm in pretty good shape , and I get to enjoy pushing myself past the point where I would like to go back to the van and take a nap.
I can see other racers around me who seem like they might feel the same way. But it seems like the rest of the world just doesn't get it.

It starts the morning back at work. "What did you do this weekend"? line of questioning dominates the first hour. " I had a race," I'll reply. Next immediate question. "Howd you do?"

Good, I had a good pre-ride the first day and got a flat on race day before the first lap ever finished. Confused my co-workers can't compute that this is in how some way good! But even if I had finished the race the next question would be how did you place? And I will say a number and of course they will say "out of how many and repeat the same number. It never gets old to them either.

I immediately want to describe the race conditions the dust the descents the climbs and so on and say even though I didn't finish I got one hell of a workout. What did yall do? Play armchair________ you can fill in the blank with what ever sport season it happens to be.

Some will admit that they stayed and watched TV all day on their new HDTV set. And make comments like "Man the clarity is so good you can see the actual individual blades of grass." You know what? I was riding right beside the real stuff and it looked really good too!

But in the end one guy will still want to know why. Why do you do it? Why do you travel so far for just to ride?

Because somewhere in there, I'm having fun. As long as I can come away from a race and say that I had fun, that's all I need.

Contrary to popular thought, racing doesn't have to always be about winnin and losing. It can be about being competitive, setting personal goals, challenging yourself, and having fun.

But darn, maybe just one win might be nice.

It was great to read that after such a kick ass weekend. I hope you too also enjoyed it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I See Your Bumpatio and Raise You BumpyGrind

WWRDI don't see nothin wrong, wit a little bump and grind. R Kelly certainly had Tapatio Springs on his mind when he wrote that song...you must have run into him a couple of times in the Bronx, huh, Nick? South Bronx, South South Bronx! Bunyan or Bunion...not sure it matters. Man, you surely looked fresh as a daisy after your race...Daisy, Daisy...

This was one of the most hilarious race weekends I've been on and may even top Sprint Nationals in Louisiana a couple of years ago! Good, clean fun. It was a great group to race with and we represented well! For full results you can cross-reference our roster with the TMBRA results. I don't believe they have compiled the team challenge points yet--they actually had lost the jump drive with all that information on Sunday. Hopefully they found it.

That's all for now--will have extended weekend race coverage later this evening.

Bumpy Trail.

Tapatio should have been called Bumpatio! It reminded of the days when I used to work for the Bronx Bicycling Bandits. It was a messenger service in the Bronx. I would ride on the tracks to deliver important messages. I used to be faster than a speeding A train. Or maybe the tracks were just closed so thats why the train never caught me. Either way I was fast just ask my buddies Paul Bunion and John Henry they'll give ya the scoop. I have a blog in the works I'll post is soon.