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"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Spread Your Wings 18hr AR Suunto T6 Log

* pods not used due to race rigors
** data recording stopped prematurely due to full memory
*** altitude dips due to water activities

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Houston Bike-O POSTPONED

Due to training conflicts, course setting has been delayed. Therefore, I will need to set the race for a later date. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!



Tuesday, May 22, 2007

AlpineAire Foods to Sponsor Team SMAC/HART

caliente!I am excited to announce our new sponsor for the Raid the North Extreme, AlpineAire Foods! I first learned about this company's products through hiking as they produce freeze-dried, dehydrated, instant meals that are perfect for long backpacking trips where weight is a definite issue. One of the suprisingly good offerings they have are their desserts! I never knew freeze-dried could taste so good! We are particularly happy that we will be able to use their self-heating meal line, Inferno. This will make transitions a lot quicker as we won't have to set up a stove or anything! If you haven't tried them yet, check it out!

Monday, May 21, 2007

K-SPoT Tries His First Tri

Citizens Healthplex in VictoriaOkay, if you thought I was a bit sneaky and acting weird the first week of May, then you were not imagining things. The SR-71 was in full stealth mode. For those who hadn't heard, Kenny can't swim. Hence all the lunch swim sessions the past year. Well, I figured I should probably put all that logged time to use and decided early on this year that I would do a tri. But I had the strict conditions of: (1) it had to be a sprint; and (2) it had to be a pool swim. The only one that was remotely possible early in the year was the Citizen's Healthplex Tri in Victoria. To completely commit myself I registered early. I was all in. So I kept on my swimming and didn't even train at all on the run or bike (I didn't even put on my aero bars until a couple days before the race). One guy, George, at 24hr fitness kept asking me about the race so that kept me honest too. No excuses.

Healthplex transition areaThe week came and I swam twice, went to HART practice once, and finally got on my road bike and ran a little on Friday. Yes, I was gambling quite a bit by not practicing the other 2 diciplines (3 if you count transitions, which you should), but I was so focused on the swim. I had decided early on that I would stay with an easy one-beat kick as that would help me conserve energy for the eventual catching up I'll have to do. It is a slow stroke, but I didn't care--I had already resigned to the fact that I would probably be one of the slowest in the water. Saturday came and Mo and I drove out of town a bit after noon. It was an easy, uneventful drive into Victoria. We settled in at the Fairfield and then went for our quick 2 minute drive over to the race site to pick up my packet. That was the first time I saw the pool. It was a 25m, not a 25yd as I am used to, so that would be a bit different. Otherwise, the facility looked really nice! We then scouted the bike and run courses. I knew right away that the bike would not be trivial because there was a very long return stretch straight into a headwind. The only solace I had was that everyone would have to suffer through that. The run was straightforward--through a local neighborhood.

black man swimmingAfter dinner at Olive Garden, we retired to the Fairfield to call it early and get some rest. I had to figure out how to put on my race numbers first. I figured I would just put my number on a tether belt so that I can switch it around as soon as I got out of the water. The bike number was a bit tricky as I didn't want it to get in the way of my leg cadence. So I figured I would securely fasten an extra zip tie. Of course, that meant punching an extra hole into the number plate. Hmmm, punching a hole...sounds like a job for...a hole punch! That's what I was thinking, but I was so lazy that I decided to just use the scissors that were handy. The number plate material was kevlar-like, so it was giving me a bit of trouble. As I thought, hey this isn't exactly safe and I should go ahead and get the hole punch out of the car, it happened. The bullet-proof material all the sudden gave way and I instantly felt a sharp, slicing pain in my finger. Dumbass. I had cut a pretty sizeable gash into my index finger. Blood gushed and I cussed. Mo jumps into action and tells me to get into the bathroom and put pressure on it. I had just taken out the first aid kit from TReg, so we had to go to the front desk to get some band-aids. Nice. What's better than swimming in a swimming pool filled with chlorine other than swimming with a huge cut on your finger?! I was so pissed. I really didn't want this little thing to become an issue during the race so I applied extra tape to make sure it didn't come off.

thank goodness that's done!Morning comes and we get up quickly and try to hit Starbucks just as it opens. We get there and the baristas are obviously already in the store, but they don't answer the drive thru. I decide to just park and wait for the front door to open when a pickup truck pulls up to the drive thru and is immediately served. WTF?!? Victoria was starting to get on my nerves. So now I peel out and back up to the speaker, where they obviously can see us with their camera, but no action. Mo, being a Starbucks Partner does not want to stand for this, so she tells me to pull up to the actual window to bitch some people out. Nice, not exactly the stress-free morning I was looking for. So we pull up, at exactly their opening time, at the girl audaciously proceeds to tell us that they're not open yet. Hell no. Mo knows the policy and you NEVER turn a customer away. Navarro & Loop 463 store, consider yourself on notice!

bike transitionWe stormed away after they gave me my mocha, as much as one can storm away seriously while sipping a tall nonfat no whip mocha, and I almost smash right into another car. Great. I had to calm down. I tried to simmer down on the way to the race. By the time we got there, everyone seemed to have already arrived. Oh well. We walked over to TA with all my gear and I was able to squeak into a bike rack close to the TA exit. The morning was a bit rushed so I didn't have much time to warm up or do a last check on my gear. After the pre race meeting and national anthem, they announce that there will be two waves for the swim start and I was in the 2nd. So that gave me a little bit extra time to set up. I actually took it a bit too easy as I almost missed my wave, thinking it was going to start a lot later. So again I was rushing. We jumped into the pool for a warmup swim and then back into a line for our starts. The lady behind me was really nice, but was a bit distracting as she kept asking me questions. Then she notified me that the swim was her best event...meaning she most likely would pass me! Nice...well, I just told her to tickle my foot and I would let her go. The first guy in our wave shoots off like a missle and its now real for me--I'm actually going to do it! I kept thinking, "relax." Just 8min of pain and then its your bread and butter...

mechanical issues about to start"blah, blah, blah, jump, blah, blah, stay left, blah..." That's what the race director sounded to me as I stepped up on deck for my turn to jump in. My lenses were fogging up and I could no longer see the slippery edge of the pool. And then it was suddenly my turn. Crap...oh well, here it goes. My hop into the pool was lackluster (no diving) and I slipped on the colored tile stripe on the bottom of the pool so my start was very slow. I was so nervous that I was already out of breath--I was thinking, "this is not good." I hit the other side and turned and knew that the lady behind me was now starting her swim. She was for sure going faster than me, so that was making it worse. I had one goal now--not get passed! As we weaved through the pool, under the lane dividers, I could see her slowly creeping closer to me. Then, I realized, I should race my own race and not care about what others were doing. That's when I relaxed a bit. She did gain time on me, but she never passed as I got faster and she stalled a bit. The longer lanes did get to me a bit, but in no time I was to the ladder. Man, I was so happy to see that thing that I quickly grabbed onto it and jerked myself out of the water! I had did it! Everything was now cake...or so I thought.

done!I waddled over to my transition area as my legs were still a bit stiff from the swim. I had the quickest first transition out of my age group...and then I pretty much gave it all away as soon as I got out of transition. For some reason my bike wouldn't shift into the big ring! I kept trying and trying and then went for a "popping" motion to get it on, but that only shot the chain right off both rings. I had to stop and put it back on. Crap! To top it all off, for some reason (most likely because I haphazardly put the aero bars on my bike without paying much attention to my wiring) my bike computer wasn't working! Gah. Thankfully, I had my bike pod on so I just used that even though it was a pain turning my wrist over everytime I wanted a speed check. Not the best bike start. But thankfully we had a tail wind at first, so that got me into a smooth rhythm fast. As I was going out, people from the first wave were coming in, struggling against their headwind...I was not looking forward to that. Pretty simple course with only a couple slight inclines. I mashed pass a bunch of people, hoping that the crosswinds and later headwind would further demoralize them. I had a pretty good, comfortable cadence going...then came the return leg. That friggin wind must have been pushing 20-30mph! But I had no choice other than to fight through it. I was still able to keep my speed at around 18mph, which I thought was good considering the conditions.

Kenny and Race director at awardsThat stretch seemed to take forever, but finally I could see highway 463, which meant the agony was almost over. I turned left into the neighborhood I would soon be running through and then I was flying into TA. This is when I saw the first guy in my wave--I had passed all but him! I wasted a bit too much time in transition this time, some of it turning on the footpod that I had borrowed from Warship on false pretenses (I told him I was doing "accuracy tests" LOL). I was finally off and Mo was cheering me on throughout the whole way. I started off feeling a bit fresh, but it wasn't long until my legs were feeling the after-effects of the tough bike leg. They weren't cramping, but there were in pain. I had to slow down a bit to make sure I didn't hurt anything. I just wanted to stay under an 8min pace now. The turnaround was a glorious sight and I was almost done with my first tri ever! The last stretch was through a meadow and I was now sprinting for the finish. Done! I was so happy, I hugged Mo as one of the volunteers was trying to wrestle the timing chip off of my leg.

I was so ecstatic! What made it frosting on the cake was that I won my age group and finished 6th overall! Man, if I could actually swim around average...who knows! I was just so happy to finish and race my own race. Now I'm a bit hooked and am now looking at an open water swim. Of course, it has to be a wetsuit-allowed race...baby steps, baby steps. I showered and we had our victory lunch at Red Lobster right across the street. Good times, good times...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Buenos dias. Estoy aqui para ser tu perra.

road trip!Now that's a useful phrase! That was one of the lines from last week's My Name is Earl. The episode was hilarious--it had scratch and sniff interaction AND followed the movie Rudy's theme. Genius! It just made me want to head out and buy me a copy of the movie! Okay, back to me catching up on the blog. So after the MS-150, it was back to good ol adventure race training. Tuesday was another tough practice. We started off with cals and then went on a quick trail ride down the green trail and back. A few horses, a run around the trees, and more cals. Then we did a few bike sprints where, of course, Jackie and I were paired with the Warship. Wonderful. So I was able to keep up with him for a couple of the sprints, but my heart felt like it was about to burst. I had nothing for the last sprint. I limped back to the group and we were off doing more cals, bear/low crawls and an assortment of other painful things. Like I said, another tough practice, which is good.

Wednesday I went for my usual lunch swim and then, in preparation for Spread Your Wings, we went to the Texas Rock Gym for some rope instruction. It was me, Tracie, and Weihan. It turned out to be a lot of fun--we started with the basics of rappelling, like fireman's belay, using an ATC, and making up prussiks. After doing a couple of drills on the short wall, we moved onto the big wall! Yipes! Yipes because I have never actually climbed a rock wall before, so this was a new experience for me. I was the last to go, so I was able to watch their routes. It didn't matter--I was a bit nervous so I immediately forgot what I saw. I just went and did it. It was going okay until I got close to the top of the wall--I just couldn't figure it out for some reason. I went for a hold and it slipped--thank goodness for my belay! :) I climbed back on and finally figured it out. I switched off the climbing rope and onto the rappel line. That was the fun part! I was so nervous on the climb, my hands were slippery with sweat and that's how I lost my grip. The rappel lesson was over, so we went on a quick climbing lesson. Again, I had issues with my sweaty grip and right near the top I lost hold again! Man, I need to chalk up more! In all, it was a good time and very valuable to me and Tracie who have the least experience with ropes.

lotsa climbingThursday I just went for a weights session during lunch and skipped practice because we had planned a recon mission of Camp Eagle that weekend I had yet to pack. To build on our 48hr expedition camp experience, I decided it would be cool to do something like that at Camp Eagle and make it a long training session. Oddly enough, everyone agreed! So I had to pack as if we were going on an expedition race for the first part of our training weekend. We left during the day on Friday since it was about a 6-hr drive and we wanted to start right away that evening. We got into Kerville and decided to buy food supplies and go for our last warm meal before the long training session. It was a nice italian restaurant, which used to be a pizza parlour (Monty noticed the old drive thru). We continued on and arrived at Camp Eagle right before dusk. Right away we were greeted by smiles and good naturedness! We signed in and noticed that the Willies were there too, most likely scouting for SYW as well. We drove in and claimed a TA spot and started right away preparing for our overnight trek.

Mancation!Since Monty and Jackie had already done the race last year and we were planning just to do the course again that night, they let me navigate while they snickered at my route choices. :) Night navigation is always a bit harder since you cannot terrain-associate as well, but it is always good practice. Right before we headed out for our trek, we ran into Chris McWatters, one of the camp counselors and the race director for the Xterra coming up in August there at the camp. He was very nice and gave us a few tips. Shortly after our talk, we headed north for our first CP. It was the "mineshaft" and I had a bit of trouble with this one. I missed a branch-off point in the draw (the brush was thick and it was hard to see in the dark), so we had to backtrack a little. Eventually found it and then we did the same special test as in last year's race. The 2nd CP was probably the easiest as it was at the main landmark of the camp, a windmill on top of a hill. The 3rd CP was relatively easy too, in a "bowl", plus the marker was still up from last year! It was great to have that validation! Along the way to the 4th CP, we ran into a rattler! Of course, since I was navigating, I almost stepped right on it! Thankfully it wasn't too perturbed as it just slithered away. The next CP was in a grove a trees. No marker, but Monty thought we were in the right place.

rappel on!5th CP was along a fenceline. We had to climb a steep ravine to get to this one. Got it. Then we just followed the fenceline down back to the main camp and briefly stopped by our TA to refill. We then headed north again for the next set of trekking points. Again, had trouble with the first one as it was a lot farther than I thought. I had trouble staying in the right draw(s), so that might have added to my confusion. But eventually we got to the point--thankfully the CP was still up again. 2nd CP was the toughest for me as I got turned around in the cedars as they seemed to block my every move. I was looking for a point, but seemed to always miss it. And then when I was on the right one, again it seemed to take a lot longer to get to it. I gotta remember that pacing will be important in this thick brush! We then made our way back to main backbone trail along the hilltops and then headed down west to a draw next to a prairie. Found it. We then decided it was a good time to bed down and that prairie was a good place to bed down in. It was about 5am. Additionally, it seemed like someone was expecting as as there was a tarp covering up some wooden planks, pretty much making up a lean-to. The Bludworths were the first to make use of the tarp while Tracie and I tried out the open field.

this is the lifeIt didn't take long for it to get cold. There was a mild breeze that made it a bit cooler than expected. I then suddenly heard a loud rustling noise--moose?!? No, just Tracie's emergency blanket flying off in the breeze. I was awake and a bit chilled, so I decided to lay down under the tarp lean-to and that kept the wind at bay. 2hrs later, it was daylight and we were up again. I'm still amazed at how a mere couple hours of sleep can make such a huge difference. Feeling fresh, we headed back out, south this time, close to a windmill, hoping to refill Tracie's pack with water. Unfortunately the windmill was on the other side of the property fence and we didn't feel like scaling it, so we just shared our water and kept on trekking. The last point on our overnight trek was relatively easy as a jeep trail pretty much lead all the way up to it. Again, there was a marker here. Now we just trekked back to TA to switch into rappelling mode.

rocky descentAll throughout the weekend, the camp had other guests. They were there for an event called "Man-cation", which we translated into Manly Vacation. We were worried that we would ruin their mancation since half of our team was female, so we made sure to keep our distance. :) During our stay, we heard singing, music, so we knew they were having a good time. We were then warned by the Camp staff that throughout the day they would be using the camp facilities, including the ropes, bike trails, AND skeet shooting! So we were told to keep clear of a certain section of trail after lunch. Since we wanted to do all the trails, we got going right away. We first did the rappel work since we wanted to be relatively fresh for that since it was a learning experience for Tracie and I. Monty took charge here and made sure our rappel was nice and safe. It was so much fun and the view was great! As we finished, we walked over to a newly-built observation deck and that's when we ran into the Willies. They were having fun scouting the water. We chatted for a bit and then headed back so that we could have enough time to ride.

Camp BrushySummary: these trails are FUN!! When Too Cool says its sweet, sweet single track, they aint lyin! Its pretty typical of hillcoutry trails--nothing but sharp rocks. But the trails were cut in a way that they were exciting and flowed very well! Then the last part we did was the Armadillo, which ended up following a creekbed for the last stretch. Awesome! I can't wait to do the trails again during the race! We made our way back to TA and quickly switched into paddling gear. The water looked nice and cool, so I was looking forward to this. We started out by the kayak launch and then paddled upstream. It wasn't long before we were stopped by one of their dams. We had to portage over it. No prob. Then, after a minute or two of paddling, we were stopped again as the water was too shallow. I took the bow line and towed it along the slippery rock up to the next dam portage. I'm not sure why I volunteered to do this job as I'm those clumsy of the group, but still it was fun! We got to the next dam and over we went. Two strokes of paddling (okay, maybe a few more) and we were at another dam. There was a guy there with his kayak, asking us how many more dams there were upstream. We didn't know and I was thinking, "why don't you go and find out?" LOL. Anyway, we kept going, paddled a few meters, then crossed a dam/road. After this portage, we actually got a good stretch of paddling in. Now I can't remember if there was another dam or if the river just dried up, but we eventually turned back around and did the course backwards.

mmm, breakfast!We went as far as the last dam right before the ropes section and where the bridge to the armadillo trail was washed away then we turned back around and headed to dock. Along the way, a couple of kids in their sit on top wanted to race us. We figured, "what the heck." So we started digging hard. It took a while for the titanic to get up to speed, but eventually we started to pull away. They started complaining that we had two more people than they did, etc, but we all laughed--good times, good times. We lugged the canoe back to TA and started loading up all of our stuff. It was a great training session! By that time we were ready for real food, so we quickly finished up loading the GMC and then drove out to the Bludworth's ranch. Its a really nice piece of land...definitely a secret gem with all the gates you have to cross (plus the gate locks are PhD-proof)! :) We got set up and cooked up a fajita dinner, then shortly after a couple hours of chatting, we turned in...heck, once it gets dark out there there's nothing much else to do!

sweet, sweet hominy!The next morning we cooked up breakfast, which included my first taste of hominy. Doesn't really have a distinct taste, but I liked it. It went very well with the bacon and eggs and biscuits! After breakfast we headed back for Houston. Along the way we stopped for ice cream and then stopped for lunch at Stuckey's, where they had fudge and jerky (somehow we missed it on the way to Camp Eagle)! The sandwiches were suprisingly good. A few more hours and we were back into town. Yeah! Sweet, sweet bed!

Stay tuned for Kenny's report on his covert operation in Victoria, TX...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Introducing Team SMAC/HART

Team Southern Michigan/Houston Adventure Racing Clubs (SMAC/HART) is composed of four seasoned adventure racing and endurance athletes from across the country. Each team member brings talents and skills that will be put to the test this June during the Raid the North Extreme (RTNX), a 6-day expedition length race in Northern British Columbia.

Paul Piorkowski is 45 years old and lives in Belleville Michigan. Paul is not just an avid competitor but believes in giving back to the sport that he loves. He is the founder of the Southern Michigan Adventure Club. Through this 1,600 member organization, Paul puts on races and organizes competitive teams. Paul is also a contributing writer for several adventure racing magazines. Paul has been involved in the sport of adventure racing for over 9 years and has taken part in several expedition length events. In addition he competes in Rogaine (long distance orienteering) competitions. Paul works for General Motors as a Powertrain Development Engineer at the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds.

Kenny Farrow, 33, has been adventure racing since 2003. He began competing in Rogaine and Orienteering events shortly thereafter. Kenny also competes in mountain biking, road bike, triathlon, duathlon and running races. Kenny is an active member of the Houston Adventure Racing Team. Kenny completed his bachelor’s degree in Structural Engineering at Gonzaga University, then went on to the University of Notre Dame and graduated with a master’s and a doctorate. He now serves as an Associate for Stress Engineering Services, a specialized engineering firm.

Philip Shrader, 39 years old, is a member of the Southern Michigan Adventure Club. Phil competes in adventure races, marathons and endurance trail running races. Phil has been adventure racing since 2005 and is a skilled navigator. Phil also lives in Michigan and works at Shrader Laboratories, an analytical laboratory that specializes in environmental testing and problem solving for automotive suppliers. Phil works on computers programming software that controls the analytical instrumentation. When not racing, Phil can be found skiing, hunting, working around the house, or enjoying time with his wife and two daughters. Phil holds a bachelors of science degree in environmental studies and a masters of science in parks and recreation from Michigan State University.

Jenifer Kwasniewski, 43, lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado. Jenifer majored in Environmental Science from the Florida Institute of Technology, which she attended on an athletic scholarship for Crew. After almost 14 years working for the Environmental Protection Agency, Jenifer moved to the private sector. She now runs her own environmental consulting company, JK Environmental Solutions, specializing in cleaning up abandoned contaminated sites and returning them to productive use.

Always active and interested in outdoors sports, Jenifer began competing seriously in mountain biking in the late 1990s. She has raced at the expert level both as an individual and as a member of Team Bad Betty, a group of women who compete in 24 hour races. After several years of mountain bike racing, Jenifer added adventure racing in 2001 to find a new challenge. In addition to adventure racing, Jenifer competes in solo endurance mountain bike races and is an avid trail runner. She also takes advantage of her mountainous surroundings to hone her rock climbing skills.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Semi-Smooth MS-150 in the Books

Our ol buddy ChrisIts so weird how this year there seemed to be less hoopla about the MS-150...at least in my life. I trained even less, pushed the donations even less (which will probably bite me in the butt if none of you guys help me out by donating on my MS-150 page), and pretty much just went through the motions. This is a clear sign that I need to retire from the ride. Plus, I think the whole thing is getting a little too big for its own good, and I don't necessarily mean number of riders-wise. I mean, lets take the starts, lunches, and finish in Austin...its like a VIP affair where if you don't raise 40k or aren't associated with the right team (eg, BP), you are treated like you're a serf. Sure, you get to ride in steerage, but when you can't even go into BP's tent site just to go in and look for your friend (so that you can tell them we are planning to leave this circus) without being restrained by bouncers, that's wrong. I think the real mission has gone to the wayside for most of us riders and sponsors.

team StressAnyway, I'm ranting. To get ourselves somewhat pumped up for the ride, the Warship and I went over to Bike Barn to see Chris Carmichael talk and sign his new book, "5 Essentials for a Winning Life." He seemed to be a nice guy and all, but it was obvious he was on a promotional tirade. Okay, so I understand him pumping up the book, because, hey, he's trying to sell a book...but then there were plugs for Powerbar, his cycling camps, and the most abrupt one was a plug for "his bike", a Trek of some sort that had a more upright geometry. Not gonna tell you the name of the bike. Anyway, c'mon...if it was his bike it was a throw-down bike. I'm sure he still uses race geometry bikes. I mean he even said he was doing the Leadville 100 again, which is a RACE. Anyway, I wasn't convinced. I like the concept of the book, so I bought a copy, but the rest of the presentation just seemed to rub me the wrong way.

Sly, Warship, SR-71So, after getting mixed feelings from that visit, I just chilled the rest of the week. Went for a nice easy swim on Friday and that was it until Saturday morning. This year I was officially riding with Team Stress, who was in their 2nd year. They had everything down as if they were 10-year veterans already! We met up with the team at around 6am at the lab to load up our overnight bags and bikes. We had 11 stalwart riders and 8 wonderful volunteers. We made the short drive over to Hwy 6 and Clay, our official start point. Warship and Sly met up with us there, in front of our unofficial sponsor, Cindies. Funny--I guess its a tradition now! After a few minutes of unloading the bikes, checking our gear for the last time, and posing for team photos, we were off. Pretty much started like last year, trying to merge with the huge mob and not have the novices swerve right into us--defensive riding is the correct term, indeed. One of the funnier parts of that morning was when we approached a red light and we were slowing. One guy off to my right side seemed perturbed that I wasn't filing in behind him as we slowed down, and actually looked like he wanted to grab me. I looked at him as if he was crazy and went on with my own business. Sly said he looked quite pissed. Not sure why--its safer for me to slow down gradually, not stop immediately and get behind him. These people are funny sometimes.

day 1 pit stopAs we went along, we started seeing the Stress folk. We weren't going too fast, especially compared to our sprint interval last year. :) We cruised by Jonathan and he decided to join us. This was on the first section of 529. Of course, just as he joins our paceline, someone upfront, not naming names, decides to up the tempo. I told him I just follow the guys in front--I hope he didn't think we were trying to drop him. Anyway, he stayed on and we hit the second BP to use the restrooms. Jonathan saw his roomate from college there so he went on and rode with him the rest of the way to La Grange. We, as usual, took our time at the BP, taking in food and fluids. We started rolling again and nothing really happened from here to lunch in Bellville. This was where the fun was starting as the rolling hills started to show. In fact, lunch was at the top of a mild climb--sweet reward! We followed the usual routine--park the bikes, get in line, eat. We saw Monica and Dave here along the way. As we sat down, we ran into Will and Cynthia--Nick was over at some other tent so we didn't see him until later. We ate relatively quickly and got back on the bikes. On the way out, we joined up with Roadkill (Nick's new nickname), Surgeon, and Iron Will. We stayed together for a little bit, but we split up somewhere along the way to La Grange. Again, nothing very exciting. We stopped to refill in Fayetteville, which is always a lively town to ride through, and then it was straight through to La Grange.

fayetteville houseWe got into our last stop for the day at around 12:30. As we were waiting at the entrance for Mo to meet us (we saw her along the finishing straight), Patti Plagmann came up to say hi--she was there providing massage services to one of the team tents. After Mo arrived, we walked to the Stress tent to check in and drop off the bikes. I was the first one in among the Stress team, so I was offered dibs on food, massage, etc. I think the volunteers were happy that someone had arrived because they felt guilty about eating before us. Hey, always happy to help out! So we hung out a bit and then decided to head to the car to get my slippers and their clothes so we could go take a much-needed shower. Came back and then a crew of us headed over to the local high school via bus for a shower. Although a bit awkward showering with that many men in one cramped room, it was still refreshing. When we got back to the fairgrounds we did our usual lounging and eating and drinking and talking. We went over to the Port of Houston tent to say hi to Nick, Jaunda, Will, and Cynthia. The it was getting late in the day so we decided to call it and gather our things so that we could drive over to Fayetteville for our night's stay. We had hooked up with this guy Ryan Sullivan who had some extra beds to sleep in and in return we would donate some money to the MS society in his name. Seemed fair.

day 2 startIt was evening by the time we got there. It was a really nice, turn of the century house. It was conveniently updated for the usual creature comforts. Ryan was really cool and easy to talk to. We got one of the upstairs rooms and it even had satellite tv! Yes, we were able to watch UFC! Sadly, though, we were so pooped that we fell asleep before the main event. Oh well. The morning came and felt very fresh--the freshest of all the MS150 day 2 mornings ever! I'm so glad we decided to sleep in a real bed! We quickly got dressed and packed up to meet up with Helena just outside of the fairgrounds (she wanted to ride with us that day). We said our quick thanks and goodbyes and final house pics then we were off. We decided to start out of a hospital just outside of the fairgrounds so that we didn't have to hassle with trying to get back in through the massive crowds. This decision turned out perfectly! The hospital had bathrooms, so I was able to take advantage of that and we were able to leave right at 7am, rather than wait in a huge line hoping our wave was next. Helena was there right on time so we rolled out just before 7am and Mo drove off to meet us in Austin.

evasive maneuvers!Helena must have been on a mission because she wanted to drop the hammer early! The Warship seemed not to be into it, so I just followed his lead and let her go for a bit. There was a long downhill at the beginning to, so she probably was trying to take full advantage of it. We all settled down into a good pace and started trading pulls. It was working well...too well as we started picking up stragglers again sucking our wheel. Of course, we did all the work while they "let" us stay together. Nice. Then came the steepest downhill of the entire route, right before reaching Beuscher State Park. We hit 40+, with this one unknown large rider shooting past us like a rocket! It was a bit crowded, so I feathered the brakes. We shortly thereafter reached the park and agreed to stop at the first BP in the park, BP 2 of the day. Helena was now for sure in a hurry as she barked at us not to take too long. I was starting to see that we were going to get into Austin somewhat earlier than we're used to.

u guys gonna let us do all the pullin?!After draining and refueling, we started on the hilly park road and agreed just to meet up in Bastrop, at the lunch stop. I again tried to push the tempo, attacking the hills. I think the Warship was either a bit injured or had some mechanical issues as he dropped back immediately, but the Sly Fuchs stayed on for quite a while. Then there was a threesome that were cruising through the park, so I decided to hook up with them. I think this is where Tommy said he let me go. I had troubles of my own as I overheard two of the trio say that they raced regularly. Frick! No wonder I was on the rivet the whole time trying to keep up with them. The 3rd, non-racer of the group cracked early and cursed as he fell off the back. I was still there, but I knew that I would have to settle back and let them go sooner or later if they kept up this pace. I changed my tactic into busting down the downhills to catch up and let them go on the climbs. This worked as on the final big climb out of the park into Bastrop, I was still there with them! I was happy. They stopped at the Exxon and I kept going. It was smooth sailing into lunch--this was one of my favorite stretches as the road was smooth and mostly downhill. I was at lunch in no time.

photo finish!I racked my bike and Tommy was there shortly and then Weihan and then Helena. We had a quick lunch as Helena was still pushing...short transitions! We got back on our bikes and we were off for the final stretch to Austin. This section was pretty uneventful at first as we had the usual slight tailwind, until we got closer to Austin. There's one section of unprotected road always seems to have the wind slapping us in the face--this year was no exception. Weihan was doing fine pulling into the wind, but for some reason he deffered to me. Thanks. It didn't last too long, so that was fine. Then as we got closer to town we started having to deal with traffic, orange cones, and ill-controlled intersections. One car who pulled right in front of us and then decided to slow down suddenly. Not good. At one intersection, the cop was giving us confusing signals and Weihan stopped suddenly and Helena shrieked. Not good. Those cones barely gave us two bike widths to travel, with some people taking up both widths. Not good. Somehow we got through all that without a mishap. Again came the final two hills of the ride and the Warship got the jump on me as we sprinted to the top. My fault--I was sleeping. Not the next one, though. Good times.

austin finishFrom there on, we turned off the jets and rode into the Capitol together. We crossed the finish at around 11:15am, which was probably the earliest for me. I felt great, possibly the best of the 4 tours of done, which is suprising since I trained the least for the MS150 this year. Interesting. Anyway, Mo was right there waiting for us and while Helena, Weihan, and Tommy went over to the BP tent (see rant in first paragraph), I was shuttled to the Stress tent. As I suspected I was the first rider there...actually, technically I wasn't! Apparently, right out La Grange, one of those dreaded orange cones was knocked over by a rider and Scott Wharton, with no time to react, ran right into it and endoed, dislocating his shoulder. So his MS150 was done a lot earlier than he had expected and was already in Austin with a sling. I'm telling you--those cones are deadly!

We got some food, walked around a bit, and then finally said we had enough and headed for the car. Another MS-150 in the books for me. Now back to the business of adventure racing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Citizen's Healthplex Triathlon Suunto T6 Log

* Smartbelt data used instead of T6 due to technical difficulties