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"

Monday, July 31, 2006

Paddle It Like You Stole It

mmm, bagel!So, finally, an adventure race weekend! I bet you guys have been thinking, "is this guy really an adventure racer?!?" The last race I've done was Somer Breeze and that was a LONG time ago. Fact is that I wasn't even planning to do Lake Whitney, but Tom asked me if I was doing it...translation: you wanna do the race with me? So, with no real good excuse, I decided to go for it. I figured it would be a good telltale for how my getting back into shape campaign was going.

team Texas DareMonty and I drove up Friday night and met up with Michael and Patti...they were all on the same team, so I was pretty much a spy to them. They proceeded to nod and wink and whisper...its alright, Tom and I were prepared. Or were we?! I get a call later that night, at about 8-9pm, and its Tom saying he's JUST leaving the Houston area! Nice. I guess he figured getting some sleep deprivation training would be good too. Oh well, take it as it goes. We went to El Matador for dinner--the line waiting to be seated looked formidable, but apparently they were just two big families, so we were seated within seconds. Mexican not really optimal for me prerace, but good enough I guess...can't expect too much selection in Hillsboro...but you CAN expect a Starbucks!

Leiza the race directorMorning came and it was time to get up and pound on the doors of Starbucks at 6am. Of course, all other adventure racers in the vicinity had the same idea--it looked like HART was having a pre-race meeting at this location. After filling up, we headed towards Lake Whitney. Apparently the navigation test was starting early this morning--just trying to make it the park was an adventure with the highway twisting and turning through the small towns in between. I had a few issues, and was hoping I was just getting my mis-navigation out of the way before the race. Almost...but not all of it...

ready for battleBy the time we got there, the park was already filled with racers who had claimed all the shelters. No problem--I was sooo glad I decided to bring the ez-up now! I set up close to TA check-in. The atmosphere was loose and happy--possibly because nothing really was at stake and this was possibly one of the last Rattlesnake races in its history. Tom finally rolled in a little after 7 and was frantically trying to set up his gear. Thankfully, the race was well attended by about 30 teams and this was lengthening the time to race start, giving Tom the precious time he needed. At around 8am we got the prerace briefing--pretty straight forward. Then we were given a few minutes to finish up preps then show up at the start line with one of our teammates blindfolded. Nice.

yah, mule!At the start line we were given a hoola hoop. We had already decided Tom would be the blindfolded one, so I was hoping, praying that this in now way required me to hoola hoop! I'm, what's the word....horrible! Anyway, we were given instructions, and to my relief all we had to do is put the blindfolded racer inside the hoop while the other racer(s) directed the blindfolded one around a paved loop about half a mile long. The other caveat was that both hands of the non-blindfolded one had to be on the hoop at all times and the blindfolded one had to have their hands up on their heads at all times. With hardly any warning we started and not wanting to hurt ourselves we went at a less than blistering pace. It kept as about about 3rd position, which was fine with us--the race would not be won on this leg! We made the loop almost flawlessly, turned in our hoop and headed to check in to get our instructions and coordinates.

turning the cornerThe first leg was a bike leg, outside of the park. We plotted our bike leg points and decided to head out and plot the rest later. We were cruising, the 2nd team out on the course. We caught up to the 1st place team at the 1st cp and would follow this sequence of being left behind and catching up at the cps for the next 5 cps. We were now right behind them after CP 6, which was probably a bad thing as they slightly influenced my decision-making at this point, at the point which was really critical since we were warned in the prerace meeting that CP 7 would be difficult. Most of the difficulty stemmed from the fact that the dirt roads did not match what was on the map in this area and the lake level was a bit lower than what is shown in the map. Regardless, we backtracked about 500m to a dirt road intersection, disregarding a hint to take a certain sandy road. Disregarded because we failed to read it off of the cluesheet. Oh well. We trudged on the very bumpy, unimproved jeep roads and started to notice that we weren't going in the right direction. I finally pulled my compass out (too late) to confirm my feelings and I was right. But it was now too late really to turn back. We went a bit further and the road started to turn the right direction, so we kept on. It was all wrong--nothing was matching. Finally we reached the outer edge of the lake, and I had a feeling we had overshot east and needed to go back west. As I was saying this we saw a whole herd of teams heading our way from the west. Crap...and as Tom noticed, they were barreling our way not in "search mode." They had found CP 7 for sure. Passing by Monty's team and quickly asking confirmed this. We disengaged from the 4 person team which I had in bad judgement latched on to and headed back west. The undergrowth was thick, making it hard to follow any remnants of road that was there. It was getting bad and I was starting to lose hope when finally Tom had spotted it. We had to go and repair the damage, so we busted hump back to TA. We had probably lost 10-20mins on that mal-navigation.

damn puzzleA stiff wind from the south slowed our progress back to TA, where we found 3-4 teams ahead of us, already working on the next special test. It was the children's puzzle, the test I was dreading. Neither Tom and I claimed to be mental giants when it came to putting puzzles together...I just don't have the practice! So we frantically tried to put the border together and match colors, at the same time Linda and Tom's kids were shaking their heads, obviously thinking they could have been done by now. While we had lost some time, we did make up time on team Monty/Michael/Patti. We quickly put the puzzle behind us and started plotting the remaining points.

diggin inThere would be points in the water on this trekking/coasteering leg, so we were required to bring our pfd's. The first two points were coasteering points, pretty simple and straightforward. The next point was in a camp site, again pretty quick to find. Next was a cp in draw, which we got to by following the landing strip. The next cp was in a draw too. We first were in the wrong draw, but we quickly hopped into the right one and found it. We were back to the coast for CP 13, on the eastern side of the park. We then followed the coast for the final 3 cps, two of which were on buoys in the lake. We put on our pfds and swam to the first cp in the water. An amazing thing was happening--the usually worse swimmer of the bunch (me) was cruising by the pack! What?!? A huge turnaround in Kenny's swim training?!? No. Kenny wisely packed training fins with him. While it merely kept me on pace with the rest of the teams close to us, it made sure we didn't fall too far behind. Sooo glad I brought those! After picking up the swim points it was back to TA for the final paddle leg.

1st place!There were already 2 teams in the water to our amazement. We had to make up serious ground on this leg. Thankfully, the wind was up, which meant a distinct advantage to us who had kayaks instead of canoes. We had about a 30sec lead on Monty's and Kip's teams, but we squandered that quick when we failed to remember that we were supposed to pick up cps in order unless otherwise noted--we were heading for 18 before 17. Thankfully Leiza sprinted down the shore to stop us and turn us around. We were now about a minute or so behind the aforementioned teams. I was pissed at myself--we had definitely not followed the instruction sheet closely enough! So it was now full bore to make up the lost time. I could tell we were catching up to Kip's 4 person team, which was in one big canoe. But Monty's team on the other hand seemed to be gapping us in Tom's aluminum canoe...that would have been nice, being beat by his own canoe. We were heading to cp 17, which was the same as cp 13. The wind was tossing wave after wave at us and it seemed to be slowing down Monty's team bit by bit. We had passed Kip's team and were about a dead heat leaving cp 17. It was a long paddle to cp 18, which was on the other side of the park. This was to our advantage as the wind was tossing the canoes around--those who had racing canoes had the worst time of it. One team with Priscilla Reese on it had to pretty much keep their racing canoe stable with the ones in the kayak holding on to it, seriously slowing them down enough for us to catch and gap them. We then noticed that Monty's team was having trouble with water filling the canoe up, as they had to stop over in the shore to dump it out...that's where we passed them. We turned the corner to the boat ramp and started to feel the heat beat down on us as we rode the tailwind in. On the way there, we crossed the 1st place team...if we had one more cp to go, we for sure would had caught them too. We got cp 18 and headed back to TA with Monty on our tail. They weren't giving up and were digging pretty hard, Tom warned me. So we didn't turn it off quite yet. But as we made the turn back to TA, with the wind broadsiding us, we pulled away as their canoe was having problems again. We were in just a minute or so behind the 1st place team...and we were the 1st place 2-male team!

nice basket, tinaIt was a really good, fast race. I thoroughly enjoyed it, except for the puzzle and checkpoint 7. I really hope Rattlesnake continues on in some capacity.

Lake Whitney Sprint AR Suunto T6 Log

*pods not used due to race rigors

Monday, July 24, 2006

Is Texas Drying Up?!?!

Austin Urban TASo it was another fun-filled week of "adventure race training." Tuesday we had a long session on the bike, hitting the green, yellow, orange and purple trails, and riding to 610 and back. This is where it got a bit whacky. We got split up from the rest of the group so the group that was with me did some cals and then a quick run around on the purple loop to get our 2hrs of training in. Wednesday I decided to go for a 6mi run on the jogging loop and I felt pretty good. I kept the speed constant and didn't feel like I was bonking at any time during the run. Then comes Thursdays practice--wouldn't you know it, but we're back to the jogging trail and right after a quick set of cals we are ordered to go for a 9mi run, or 3 loops on the jogging trail. Wow, like I didn't have enough of this trail. The best part was that I had to run with Tom. He played coy with me for about 8miles, letting me stay up with him, but then turned the jets on at the end. I had nothing in the tank, so I just let him go and continued on at my same pace.

sup, turtle?This weekend Mo and I went over to Austin to watch a portion of the Urban race and also get some paddling and trail riding in. Debbie was our gracious host again, letting us stay in her apartment with Eric and Caroline. We got up the next morning and went to the race after having breakfast at Katz's. They had already started and were off somewhere running around. While waiting for them to get back, we stopped by the farmer's market that was going on at the same time, right next to TA. It was wierd because it was almost if each operation was totally oblivious of each other! Anyway, we did some shopping and went back to see the teams transition out to biking. Everyone looked good! We stayed for a bit longer, but then had to leave to get some paddling in before it got too late. We put in at the Rowing Dock on Town Lake and proceeded to paddle for about 3hrs. It was laid back for the most part, but we did have sessions of hard paddling in there. We went to the western dam, over to Barton Springs, and then just short of the eastern dam. Quite a bit of people were out on the water, despite the ominous-looking clouds rolling in. It sprinkled a bit, but didn't dump on us the way it apparently did here in Houston.

Mo on the LakeWe had dinner at the Iron Cactus and then stopped at a bar or two to take in the Austin nightlife, then called it a night pretty early. The next morning we had breakfast at Kerbey's Cafe--it was awesome! But we were not warned that the portions were huge--we couldn't finish any of the plates we got! Apparently Mo hasn't acclimatized to the sun yet and had sunburn on her legs again, so we decided to skip today's paddling session and I instead went to Muleshoe by myself to get some trail mileage in. I had remembered to bring the helmet cam but again I was having issues with it! I had put in new batteries the last time I checked, but apparently that was too long ago. Oh well. I had a pretty good ride, but didn't try to scale any of the rocky portions (4 or so) since I was alone. They had also blazed new bypass trails which were a bit confusing, but I was still able to stay on the main trail. I got back to the car then I decided to explore the lake...the water had receded big time! I had to ride almost a mile farther down to the beach to actually get to the water! It was crazy! Those trees to the west that used to be under water...not anymore! Looking at my gps track, it shows me deep in the middle of the lake/river! I really wonder if it will be back up by the time of the sprint race...

where's the water?!?We pretty much packed up and left for Houston after that. It was a pretty laid back trip...nothing really planned, just wanted to get out of Houston for the most part. It was also some good training for me...Lake Whitney is this weekend...and apparently it will be the last race for Rattlesnake this year and possibly the 2nd to the last (if not the last) in the history of Rattlesnake Racing!

weak point analysis?!?Oh and by the way, if you haven't experienced this before (yet), this is what it looks like when you try to pull into your garage with your bike still on your roof bike rack. It was bound to happen for me--I'm so forgetful!! I heard this crunching noise and my heart dropped when I realized what was happening. Thankfully my bike seat took most of the punishment--makes for a good failsafe fuse! My new seat is nice and it worked well during the Muleshoe ride! Don't say I never warned you...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Landis No Longer Parked on Mountain to La Toussuire

He has recovered nicely after being fully dismantled on Stage 16!

don't call it a comeback!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Go Landis!


Monday, July 17, 2006

Katy Flatlands was Flat (except for two places)

glassy water
Another good weekend to be in the outdoors. But first, the week was chock full of good HART training. On Tuesday we ran to the pullup bars and did a set of 5-4-3-2-1 then did an indian run around the jogging track. Stan was in our group so we were of course were consistently telling him to slow down...which you will realize is very ironic as you read what we did to him later in the workout...Then we did another set of pullups, this time 1-2-3-4-5. Good upper body workout. After that we jogged back to our cars and mounted our bikes for a 5-mile bike ride. Since the trails were closed due to the recent rains our only real option was the fruit loop. We did that for about 4 loops--we slowly ramped up the speed. This is where we betrayed Stan--we didn't slow down for him. We simply dropped him. Nice. He was visibly pissed when we regrouped back at the cars. I have a feeling he won't be slowing for us during the next run. Too funny.

hi there
Thursday we started with cals, including the dreaded lunges. I'm still feeling those things right now! We then went for a bike ride on the green trail and then the time trial course. Met back up at the cars and went for a final uptempo run on the purple trail. I was feeling good, but Stan was feeling like, well, Stan. He pulled away steadily but I caught up back to him as we got to the rocky dip--it was full of water and he wasn't sure how to get across. I showed him the log crossing and we were off again...and again he pulled away. I still kept him in sight. It was a good run--I haven't felt that good in a while...I'm almost back.

Saturday I did my protocol ride in the morning and then Mo and I headed to Huntsville to meet up with Nancy, Matt, and Miz Vera for some paddling. We didn't get there until about 3:30pm. The bad part was that the others didn't have a boat to paddle but were planning to rent one there at the park...the bad part of that was they waited for us before actually going to rent the boats, but by then the rental place had closed and the attendants were being asses. So Mo and I would have to paddle by ourselves. It was good, but Mo had forgot to bring her hat, so midway in the paddle her face was burning. I had to drop her off after the first hour of paddling so she could get some shade--the "feels like" temp was about 100, so that would explain it. I went for about another hour and it was a nice day to be out on the lake, even if it was that hot--it wasn't too humid and there was a slight breeze to keep me relatively cool. We hung out a bit longer and watched the turtles pop their heads out of the water, then headed back home.

esperanto flyin down I-45
Sunday was the Katy Flatlands ride. We had a good HART showing: Me, Warship, Tommy, Cynthia, Tracy, Eric, Janet, Raymund, Michelle, Matt, Nancy, Tina, and Lisa. Eric was the only monster who did the 100miler--but it was more of a mistake as he took a wrong turn at the 60mile/100mile decision point. Good times. We had a good ride and Tommy, Weihan, and I stayed together for most of the time, except for the first 20miles as Weihan got a late start and we had to wait for him at the 2nd rest stop. We had our own good paceline going and we would at certain points have other people latch on. The best one was this one guy in a white jersey who got on our train and would pull for about 30secs and then peel off. Needless to say we did most of the work. Then this punk decides to sprint off at the finish. I said, "hell no!" I sprinted after him to put him in his place--no way are you gonna draft off of us and then claim the glory. LOL. All in all, it was a good ride--no real issues except for Eric getting those 40 bonus miles.

HARTOh yah, I mentioned two non-flat parts during the ride. On the last 3rd of the ride there were two SLIGHT inclines and I decided to get my heartrate up so I led us up it at about 23-24mph. Tommy, wanting to get in on the action, takes us up the next incline at about 25-26mph...but then immediately peels off. Nice. It was some good interval training. Another thing I noticed was the difference in my heartrate when pulling and when sitting in the draft. Its about a 10% difference, which is huge! Its not a new concept, but this is yet another instance which shows the importance of pacelines--the group can go a lot faster than an individual because of the rest periods in between pulls...but that also depends on your impetus to go faster as a group, FLOYD LANDIS! :)

Also, if you looked at my T6 log, you might have noticed that Lance Armstrong had possessed my body for a second or two as I was going at about 220mph. Felt like nothing.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Katy Flatlands Suunto T6 Log

* log stopped due to full memory (forgot to erase old data)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Paddling and Road Racing Around the 4th

paddlin on the 4th
So there was no crazy 4th of July party to participate in this year--we decided to keep it "chill" and not plan anything for sure...just to keep our plans fluid. There was a HART training session at Lake Houston on Monday, but it was just too far to drive right after work and get there in time. Instead Mo and I decided to go on a paddle on Lake Conroe on the 4th. I avoided all the usual selections and launched at Stubblefield Camp since I figured the other places would be packed. It was perfect--hardly anyone there, only people fishing off of the bridge. We drove up there right after Mo got off work and were there within an hour. We loaded up the kayak with food, drink, and other essentials and we were off in no time.

gunkOnly problem was that the only other time that I paddled at Lake Conroe was with Tommy, Weihan, Andrea, and Ross and we launched from a private subdivision (Tommy knew the gate code). I did not realize that it would be a long trek through a windy, swampy, dead tree-filled creek before we got to the actual lake. After a while I didn't mind because I knew we were going to hit the lake eventually and it was actually pretty fun.

wassup?Along the way we saw a lot of wildlife. Herons, frogs, turtles, and hogs!! They were just chillin on the banks and didn't run away until we got really close--they were looking at us like, "why the F are you paddling down this thing?!" We had to maneuver the tricky slalom course of dead trees jutting out of the water and watch out for sand bars. We took a potty break by one of the geocaches we found the last time we were at Lake Conroe then just sat in the boat and floated while we enjoyed the nice weather and snacked on chips. Then we felt a hard "thump" on the hull of the boat...WTF?!?! We looked at each other as to say, "it wasn't me!!" We decided to start paddling again...fast!

storms a cominWe could see the dark rain clouds in the distance so we decided to paddle to the 1375 bridge and then call it a day and head on back. We got there and turned back around, but all the sudden the clouds were on us in no time! It was obvious that the storm was flying faster than we were! The white caps started to show up...thankfully the wind was at our backs so we just surfed back most of the way. It started to rain a bit and then we got stuck on a sand bar. Nice. Kenny of course has to get out and drag the boat out to deeper waters. LOL. We nicely navigate back to the creek and the rain actually stops. The temp is really nice now. It turned out to be a great paddle, about 3hrs.

the lineupThe next day was the 4th and I had to speed back home right after work to get ready for the Memorial Crit at the fruit loop. Weihan joined me and Mo provided team support. With just two people, team tactics were not an option. Thankfully the rain had stopped earlier that day and the pavement had for the most part dried up, otherwise we would have abandoned the race.

roll outWe actually started out with a pretty fast rollout, faster than the last crit I did. These guys were out for blood--we were hittin high tenor early in the race. I guess I should have expected it--Justin and Roger Burger, Kiet, and a number of other big hitters were there. Another indicator that I was out of shape was that I was struggling just to hang on for the first few laps. It sucked. Then I got my wind and started to push the tempo up, but I never did see the front for an extended period of time.

tightI did however go for one of the primes, as did Weihan earlier in the race, but it was a futile attempt. At least I was feeling froggy enough to try for it. Now I tried to stay to the front as much as possible because I knew the bell lap would be coming soon. Plus, I kept towards the inside of the track, instead of outside, where I spent most of my time that day. That turned out to be a great decision because near the end of the race a guy skidded out on a chicane towards the outside, where I would have been, and his tire popped. All I saw was him and his bike popping up like he was on a pogo stick. Scary.

loopyThe bell rang and everyone started positioning themselves then the acceleration came. I felt good, but I had bad position, too far back to pass. I was blocked a couple of times and by the time I got free on the last chicane it was too late. I'm sure I was top 20, but that was it. I definitely felt better the during my 1st crit. Kiet ended up getting 3rd--he was as good as I thought he was. Though the not so favorable result, I enjoyed it. It definitely is good for honing my handling skills.

final turnYesterday we had HART practice which consisted of riding downtown to do recon for the Urban sprint this weekend. I miss those easy, fun workouts. It was good to ride downtown and just joke around most of the time. Good times. Then we headed back and of course it was pedal to the metal! Frank and Tom lead out while Jackie and Caroline were scheming to put up some kind of "girl block" as I heard them whispering. One thing they forgot about was the non-paved, offroad part...LOL. I got around their blockade as they yelled "cheater!" and bridged back up to Frank and Tom. We kept it at a manageable 18-20mph pace. Decided to keep it civil and didn't break out the sprint at the end. It was a good 1.5hrs of easy training.

HART doing crits?!?!That's all I got. Should be padding, riding, and running this weekend too. Nothing special...maybe go back to Lake Conroe and go hunt down whatever that was that bumped our boat! BTW, anyone else inherit new neighbors in the form of mating frogs after the latest rains?! Damn things are noisy!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Memorial Criterium Week 5 Suunto T6 Log

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Vast Vasque Experience

Stable of Vasques

My Favorite Trail Runners

Monday, July 03, 2006

Le Tour is On, MOAT Has Finished PQ

It's definitely on. Hincapie is in Yellow, The Norse God has left blood on the road, and all is up in the air. Despite the non-starts of Ullric, Basso, and Mancebo, it looks like the Tour is going to be exciting anyway! While I know the Yellow will most likely leave Hincapie today, it was still good to see him wear it for at least a day. That man deserves it and more! MOAT is done and has captured 14th place! Awesome! I really can't wait to hear their stories!

So this week has been pretty rough on me, training-wise. I'm obviously out of shape, but have been training harder lately to get back into the thick of things...slowly--don't want to get injured trying to get back to 100% fitness. Tuesday and Thursday were HART sessions. Tuesday I got a trail run in before practice and then we had teams again during training and I got this newbie who obviously was trying too hard at first, so we had to slow it down dramatically after the 1st run. But it was good because I got to talk to him about AR and I enjoyed helping him out--I of course can remember when I was in his shoes. Thursday, another trail run before training and then we had track work. It was tough for me because I haven't done those in a while, and I was actually just thinking that I needed to do them again earlier last week. We then did a trail ride where I got to stretch out my legs and motor.

Wednesday I paddled about 6 miles in the bayou. The temps were actually bearable which turned the outing into a slightly enjoyable experience. I loved the looks that everyone walking across bridges or along the trails gave me...hilarious! Saturday I did my battery of bike sessions. First a protocol test for the T6 report then a set of sprint intervals. I was wiped. Yesterday I went trail running at Memorial. The heat and humidity were conspiring against me again--I was sweating buckets! I ran across a taped off section of the Triangle, where a yellow jacket nest apparently fell down. Definitely ran around that mess. Then along the Bayou I ran into a snake--I stopped and let it cross. The summer has all kinds of things moving out and about. Good times. Again I was wiped. Was supposed to go paddling again but I knew the lakes would be crazy with people. Planning to paddle the Bayou tonight.

That's all I got for now. Just getting back into training. Happy 4th!