Saturday, November 22, 2008

Riding Circles in the Sand

Murphy's Law reigns again.

There was a giant hole on the left side of the start line.
It was a ditch.
Hidden by a small berm.
When the gun went off, so did T.
Full speed ahead.
Then a frantic sudden hard-as-nails braking to a sudden stop just short of the ditch.
Leaving T in last place.
Not the best way to start a race.

It was a race of ditches.
Another ditch was not quite small enough to bunny hop, but not wide enough to ride easily. One foot drop off, two foot width, one foot rise. T hit this one full speed ahead, endo'd, came out of the pedals, and somehow landed on his feet running while his bike got left in the ditch. He said later at one point he saw 3 out of 4 riders go over their bars there. Eventually people just started hopping off their bikes and running it.

On lap three T got a flat.
Kind of the theme for this years 'cross season.
He finished the lap, grabbed his pit bike, worked hard, and ended up something like 14 places out of the money.
Not even a point-is-a-point-is-a-point (thanks DC) for this race.
But, as always, he had fun, "Riding circles in the sand at the Bosque school."

Next week is San Francisco for Thanksgiving and family, then the following week is the cyclocross state championships.

Tomorrow we're taking a break for some non-aerobic fun, rock climbing and cheering on the Outlaws at IMAZ.

Go everyone!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cyclecross and a Veterans Day Salute

Last weekend was a double header for T: A cyclocross race Saturday at Mesa Del Sol, followed on Sunday by a race in Santa Fe.
Even though it is the off-season, T puts out more excitement and verve for 'cross than he does for anything else.
As he puts it, "It's the most fun you'll ever have on a bicycle."
Although this year, his 'cross efforts are sharing the stage with our re-budding rock climbing skills, as well as jockeying side by side with school, life, and all that jazz....

Cyclocross racing is a little different than triathlon. Due to the nature of the beast, T always brings a second bicycle which he leaves in "the pit," a designated zone for changing bikes and wheels.

For the Mesa del Sol race, he pre-rode the course on his pit bike--and his pedals broke, allowing him to still clip in, but only if the pedals were in a certain position. Still, he placed the bike in the pit as a back up. On lap two of the race, he flatted and rode the entire 3rd lap with a flat. Here is the race in his own words:

"I flatted on lap two, rode the third lap with a flat, lost two positions, switched bikes in the pit, immediately made up two positions, crashed in a loose, sandy corner because my tire pressure was too high (it's the bike he uses for commuting), lost two positions, kept crashing and had a hard time clipping in while racing, barely hung on, and finished in 10th place--just inside the points."

With all of that, he actually did not finish last.
And, gained a point for the series.
Pretty big effort, if you ask me.

The next day, we drove up to Santa Fe for a late starting race at Fort Marcy.

As T was getting ready for warm up, we heard that a Veterans Day parade was about to start just up the street.

Since I had already planned on going for a short run before settling in to watch the race, I ran out to take a look.

This was the start of the parade.

I loved it's homegrown nature.

That was one heck of an organized fire crew.

The veterans bring tears to my eyes, for the stories they carry inside and the paths of their lives. Through work, I met one man who spanned 3 wars. He was 99 years old and had lied about his age as a teenager. He remembered the kindesses of an enemy boy who saved his life. Another spoke of hand to hand combat--and had bayonet scars to show for it. So many. WWII, the Bataan Death March, Vietnam, Korea, the Gulf and current war.

When T was gone, I received a home quilted Blue Star from the local chapter. For some reason it meant a lot to me, I think because of the historical context, the significance and recognition of family, as well as the link to so many others who knew what it felt like to have someone in combat. That blue star still hangs in T's study. It's a bit hidden, so I don't even know if he knows it is there...

This was my favorite. My camera stuck so, unfortunately, I didn't get the whole group.

I didn't know the police had a 'vette. Now, who do you suppose gets to drive that?

The end of the parade.

After the parade, I went for a short run, then settled in to watch T in action. This was the first cyclocross race to be hosted in Santa Fe. A lot of new and fast faces showed up. The competition was deeper than usual, the racing was hard, but the course was "really fun." This year, the race was a shot at a new venue, but, already, the Santa Fe Police Department has volunteered to sponsor the race for next year.

T leading a chase pack

Snaking through an S-curve in the dirt.

Taking it up the steps

Gaining speed and getting ready to jump onto the bike

A tired T at the finish.

T's comment at the end of the weekend was "that was an awful lot of effort for one measly point, but that was fun."

He's getting ready for another double header next week, one under the full moon in Tijeras, the other at The Academy. Meanwhile, we'll be hitting the climbing gym, and, oh yeah...more yoga!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How to Be Competitive At Yoga

Yesterday, T and I decided to try a yoga class.

The yoga class came as an extra benefit for membership at the local rock climbing gym.

Since I am up for anything that is "extra benefit," and since we were planning on going to the rock gym anyway, we decided to give it a whirl.

When we got there, the gym was REALLY crowded. It looked like there were about 100 people. Every wall was taken except for the really hard stuff. The really hard stuff, is REALLY HARD, and has climbs where you hang up side down and traverse upside down under and across the roof of the gym--but even that had some people on it.

T and I were the only ones to show up for the yoga class.

The yoga room was brightly lit, compared to the relative dimness in the rock gym, and had a sheer glass wall (not "window", but wall) , that allowed for a very clear view, so that T and I felt just a wee bit exposed.

We told the teacher we were beginners.

So in this bright, bare room, with the floor to ceiling glass wall, and nowhere to hide, she was kind enough to give us a private class.

Let me tell you, that stuff is hard.

After the warm up sequence (in which I realized I wasn't limber at all), she had us stand in "mountain", "tree" or "stork" pose. I don't know which one it was, but we had to stand on one leg, while reaching over head.

I was thankful that I still have good balance from my younger days as a gymnast, and my current work, in which I stand on one leg all the time.

We stood in this one-legged pose for a while.

I was proud of T, who was standing next to me, and who I could sense was keeping good balance.

A year or so ago, I had told him that people start losing their balance sense in their 40's or 50's. He had quietly taken this to heart, spent time challenging his balance, and had made some noticeable improvements.

Now, in this yoga class, his balance homework was carrying over and paying off.

At first it was OK.
Then, my leg muscles started to feel a little tired.
Then I began to wobble a bit and had to make corrections.
Then my calf started to burn and I wondered if I was going to be able to climb after yoga.
We kept holding the pose.
And I mean for a long time.
Talk about Feel The Burn.

And then we FINALLY got to stop.
So we could do it all over again on the other leg.
I thought, "There is no way I am going climbing after this."

When we done, we politely asked the teacher how long she holds these poses. Her reply was, "For as long as people can hold them without losing their balance."

But we're beginners.

The problem, we realized later, is that T and I are both competitive people, plus we like to rise to the challenge. When someone gives us a challenge, we'll do everything we can to be as good as possible. So both of us attempted to stand on one leg for as long as we could--waiting for the teacher to call it--while she was waiting for one of us to lose our balance.
Whew! Was I thankful when she finally called it.
Were my legs POOPED!!!

We did end up climbing afterwards, but it was a short session.

I didn't like the yoga and thought it was hard and uncomfortable--which means I should probably keep doing it.
T liked it.
As T puts it, "Once a week is enough."
So, he is dragging me back next week....

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Longhorn 70.3 in Photos

This is how we got ready for the race:

Mr. T carbo-loading on blueberry, strawberry, and walnut pancakes in the parking lot adjacent to the sponsoring Jack and Adams bicycle shop, the day before the race.

Then, we went for a swim in the local spring. Notice how clear the water is. It's a sinkhole, home to a rare, endemic newt, 68 degrees year 'round, and about 300 meters long. Very refreshing on an Austin summer day...
This is how we finished the race. Those are my shoes covered in muddy dust. We were given burritos with pico de gallo, red chile, and chile verde salsa, beer, a tall Longhorn water bottle, and Pickle Juice ("for the cramps"). Dessert was mint chip ice cream.

In between, the race looked like this:

T exiting the swim with a lot of helping hands.

Each of us on the bike.

T enjoying the run.

Life is sweet...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Off-Season Sport Climbing at Jack's

More fun.

Another weekend at Jack's.

This time we had a new moon, flanked by off set planets on either side (which could have been Venus, Jupiter or Mars)--then as the sun set completely, a few hundred million stars.

In contrast to our previous weekend, there were other climbers--from Alaska, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and, of course, Arizona.

Dierdre Burton was there, one of the original route setters in the mid-90's.

We took it easy, yet pushed our limits.

On the second day, we actually got up early to make the most of our second day--and were the first one's into the canyon. VERY uncharacteristic of us.

We're regaining some of our former climbing ability.

This weekend included the following grades: 8(2), 9(1), 10a(3), 10+(4), and two 12a's for Mr T.
The climbs were steeper, edgier, with smaller crimps, more balance, smears, and power.

In comparison, our first weekend had softer grades: 6(1), 9(3), 10a(4), 10+(1), and a 10a, and 11c for T.

The highlight of my weekend was Dealers Choice, a thin 10c with a tips only layback at the bottom and which was my first 10+ clean in years.

The low lights included hanging on Genesis under the high roof and not getting the sequence for the second time, despite kibitzing from T, as well as the gusty high winds on the second day that blew dried seared leaves and dust in swirls around my eyes. (The canyon was very dry this year, and the vegetation looked like it had been crisped in an oven...)

T's highlight was working the 12's, especially Genocide (next to Genesis), his first 12's outside of the gym in years.

There were no lowlights for T.

Route Roll Call:

Second Weekend (November 1-2):
Fistful of Dollars 10a
Dealers Choice 10c--(clean for me)
Slots Full of Fun 10a
Edge Your Bets 9a
Genesis 10c/d (1 hang)
(Genocide 12a--T on TR, fun)
Last Episode 10d

Jackpot 5.8
Unnamed 10a
Total Lack of Jack 10c
(Jacking for Change 12a--T clipstick lead, then TR; sharp, steep with reachy bulge)

First weekend (October 16-17)
Progressive Slots 5.6
Unnamed 5.9
Fistful of Dollars 10a
Sports Book 10a
Genesis 10c/d (2 hangs)
Blackened 10a
(One Armed Bandit 10a--T rapped due to worn anchors)

Edge Your Bets 9
Slots Full of Fun 10a
You Don't Know Jack-- 9
(Jack the Gripper 11c--T clipstick lead)