Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Proud Mary," Tina Turner

What else should I be listening to when I have a 24 hour race in front of me?! I saw Tina Turner on Oct. 27, 2000, at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. Truthfully, back then I was most interested in seeing her opening act — the equally legendary Joe Cocker ("Feelin' Alright" clip = coolest piano chord progression and Mr. Cocker wearing the ugliest jacket ... but he OWNS it, man!!!)

But Tina, top bill artist of the evening that she was, well ... she absolutely killed it. She's the epitome of a timeless performer. She put on one helluva show.

Well over a decade later, I betya the artist formerly known as Anna Mae Bullock can rock your socks off. No, actually, I don't betya nothin'. I guaran-damn-tee it. Tina is that good. (Editor's note: Cheesier bloggers would insert a requisite she's "Simply the Best" reference here. But not Tr13ce. He respects you too much to resort to such base humor).

So. Yeah. In a matter of a few days, I will be rollin' (Rollin'). Rollin' (Rollin'). Rollin' on a river.

Actually, I'll be on a dirt trail. For 24 hours. But, again, this isn't about me. This is my first real-deal fundraiser. The race — 24 Hours in the Canyon — raises funds to fight cancer. Your support is greatly appreciated. If you feel so compelled, you can donate here. Thank you.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Proud of my Pops, IMTX shots, puns aplenty, funny graffiti

We interrupt the regularly scheduled begging for donations to 24 Hours in the Canyon (just 8 days left to help fight cancer — read about it here) to dust off the Five Photo Friday pheature. Oh, and for people who are good at "the maths," you may notice that there are six photos in this installment. Consider it a gift to you, the faithful reader. You're welcome!

That's my father. He recently earned his masters from the University of Texas at Tyler. He will be a first year broadcast journalism professor at the University of North Texas next fall. I'm very proud of him for achieving his goals. Way to go, Pops!

I've attempted to document this hilarious graffiti multiple times en route to work on the TRE. On a few ornamental sections of the Triple Underpass a graffito has tagged what appears to be the word "Power" with black spray paint. Apparently this vandal has a sense of humor.

Speaking of humor, I am not ashamed to admit that I am a fan of puns. I blame years of writing newspaper headlines. My first boss, Roy, was the king of puns — a puntificator, as he would say. He would agree that this right here is a punny magazine. I would relish the opportunity to write the cover blurbs for this periodical.

I spent a few days in The Woodlands for Ironman Texas last week. I didn't compete. Instead, I was a spectathlete, there to cheer on the wonderful That Pink Girl. I spotted this chillaxin' pooch and couldn't help snapping a shot. This dog has got it MADE!

Quality signs along the 112 mile bike route. This one was near mile 111. I'm guessing the answer for many racers was "Yes."

Frunners. Wonderful, awesome, stupendous Frunners showing big-time love for our Favorite Pink Girl.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

First bike nostalgia, who I’m racing for, final push for donations

I can't recall exactly how old I was when I received my first bicycle. Such a major moment in life, one would expect I could say it was my 5th or 6th birthday. I reckon I was in kindergarten or first grade.

What I do remember is the important detail: the bike itself. How could I forget that? It was a Schwinn Sting-Ray style bike — banana seat, high handlebars, coaster brake. At some point, I got the great idea to cover its frame with Garbage Pail Kid stickers. The bike represented freedom to roam. And I roamed a lot. And I still do.

All told, I've owned 10 bikes. My best guess is that I have ridden hundreds of hours on those 10 bikes. I rode to school, work and trails. I rode to friends' houses, convenience stores and state parks. I rode for fun, exercise, stress relief and training. More times than not, I rode by myself and for myself.

In 10 days, I am going to do something less selfish while riding my 10th bike. I am going to race for 24 hours. But I am not going to do it for myself. I am going to do it for those who can't ride. I am going to race 24 hours in Palo Duro Canyon to raise money to fight cancer.

While riding, I will think of those who have been affected by cancer — friends, family, acquaintances and strangers I've only read about who have battled this scourge. Some beat it; others didn't. The thoughts of their rounds of radiation or chemotherapy, their pain, their sleepless nights, their diminished strength will motivate me to keep pedaling. I must keep going. As 24 Hours in the Canyon's motto goes, "Cancer Doesn't Sleep ... Why Should We?"

I registered for this race with a modest fundraising goal of $150. I've already raised $250. I am thankful for the support of my friends, family and coworkers. I will think of them while I pedal, too. From noon on June 1 to noon on June 2, I will remember memories we've shared, what makes these people special to me, how we met, etc.

I want to think about even more people during the race. Please consider donating at Kintera.org and, in the comment section, share why fighting cancer matters to you. I will add you and your reason to my list of Why I Must Keep Pedaling. Because I will keep on pedaling as long as I am capable. Not just for 24 hours next week, but for the rest of my life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Getting hurt, humbled and feeling hopeful

It was a lousy race, and I also took lousy photos. To get a true feel of how kickass this course is, venture over to IngotImaging to see race shots.
Let's just get straight to the point: Saturday's 2013 Texas XC Mountain Bike State Championship Series race — the Prayer Mountain Pedal at Big Cedar in South Dallas — did not go as planned. In fact, it really sucked for yours truly.

I signed up for the race well over a month ago thinking that it would be another great opportunity to race a trail I was training on regularly. It's a tough trail — lots of climbing, plenty of roots, and tree trunks line the twisty singletrack and seemingly are magnetized to attract your handlebars and throw you to the dirt.

All that being the case, I really enjoy riding this trail. It requires focus. Now, that's not to say I'm really skilled on the trail. I've fallen most every time I have ridden Big Cedar, once hard enough to warrant a trip to the doctor. A spill in a rough rock garden had me concerned that I broke my shoulder. Luckily, I was wrong, and I healed.

My riding, in fact, had improved greatly. Last week, I had a particularly good training session at Big Cedar — rode fast, climbed like a mountain goat and stayed on my bike the whole friggin' time. That was an excellent day. It convinced me that despite training for a 24 hour endurance race, I could be competitive in a quicker competition — the two-lap, 16-mile cat 2 Prayer Mountain Pedal race.

DORBA, which helped coordinate the race, does things differently. All of a sudden, 29-inch tires seem inadequate. 

On the day of the race, the Big Cedar was packed. I read that 500 cyclists were signed up to compete, and it appeared each took his or her own car — soooo many vehicles. And, sooooo many badass bikes. I arrived early to watch the pro and cat 1 racers speed through the course (and stare at their bikes). As it turned out, I had plenty of time to watch racers (and, say it with me ... stare at their bikes). The start times had been pushed back at least thrice since I signed up for the race. TMBRA could have done a better job communicating the time shift; but I can't complain about getting to sleep a little later and hang out. During this extra waiting time, I heard a cat 1 racer say that a section of the course — the right turn immediately after a creek crossing around mile 5 — was slick as ice because of all the riders' wet tires rolling through the corner. I thought, "I know that section. Duly noted."

While lining up for the race, I managed to get marked with the the incorrect age group (group 2 instead of group 3). So that wasn't a good start, but not the end of the world. Despite the incorrect mark, I started with my correct wave (30-34) and promptly ate the dust of the racers who are in the top 10 for the TMBRA series. I knew I probably wouldn't catch all of them, but I knew my familiarity with the crazy-ass climbs would benefit me down the road, er, trail.

All was going well. I started to make up time, passing a guy from San Antonio I chatted with before the race and some group 2 racers. Then, I reached the "slick-as-ice spot." I splashed through the creek crossing, reaching the other side and approaching the right turn. I was going too fast. And, in a split second, I went down. Hard and fast. Still clipped in, the right side of my body slammed onto the singletrack. That sorta hurt. But, what really hurt, was my left knee, which slammed directly onto the top tube of my bike's aluminum frame. The pain was immediate. I writhed on the ground. I said choice, four-letter words. I was pissed. Even worse, I was really hurt. The bruise and swelling were instant. I couldn't bed my knee without feeling a sharp, stabbing pain.

Minutes passed and riders passed, and I eventually tried to walk off the pain. Then I foolishly tried to ride my bike. No chance. Each attempt to press down with my left leg was met with an intense pain in my knee cap that shot up and down my leg. I could taste the pain. So I walked. More riders passed me. Even though I did my best to stay as far off the singletrack as possible, some were audibly pissed that I was in their way. Others were varying degrees of concerned. Several asked if I was OK. I replied to some, saying that I wasn't OK, but there was little they could do. Some said they would alert race officials who were about 3 miles away. It was really no use. I had to get out of the woods on my own power.

I walked up and down the tight trail, moving into weeds as best I could when riders approached. I leaned against the bike's saddle, using it like a rolling crutch. The climbs sucked, but the descents were even worse. It was difficult trying to maintain balance with a leg that could neither bend nor support much weight. I gritted my teeth and sucked it up. I was especially upset when I walked the hilly switchbacks that I had recently conquered and felt comfortable on during training rides. On the few flat stretches, I clipped in with my right foot and pedaled with one leg, shifting like a maniac for small changes in elevation in order to maintain momentum.

After the 3 miles of this race hell, I eventually finished my only loop for the day and went straight to the EMTs. They iced me up and offered to take me either to the ER or my car. I thanked them for being out there and for their offers but declined and opted to pedal another half-mile to my car, making a slashing gesture across my throat as I passed the race officials' table. I was done for the day. Dammit.

I packed my crap and went to Primacare pronto. Long story short: X-rays were negative, I was ordered to rest, elevate, ice and take some anti-inflammatory pills. If the pain didn't get any better by Wednesday, I would need to get an MRI. Based on my 1-out-of-10 pain level (a solid 8), I was certain I would need to get an MRI. Dammit.

Well, it's Monday evening, and, miraculously, I feel pretty good. I can bend my knee, and the pain is minor. I'm sore, but the knee is hardly swollen now, and I am walking quite well. I'm hopeful that I will continue to improve and won't obsess about not training. That's easier said than done. This injury is going to set me back considerably when it comes to training for 24:00. Alas, the only thing I can do is get well. I may line up at Palo Duro less prepared than I would like; but, I can't afford to start that race injured. So, more rest is in order this week. If I'm lucky and feeling up to it, I may get in a short road ride. We shall see.

You never know what will happen each time you set out on a journey, race or daily, mundane errand. It could be a matter of what we eat (beware the blueberry doughnuts), our state of mind, dumb luck, the nature of our activities or a combination of factors that lead to bad ish happening. Regardless, we have to dust ourselves off and get back to business. And that's what I intend to do. Unlike past road bike crashes, I will not allow a spill on the dirt to ruin my passion. I love to ride bikes, and it's going to take a lot more than a sore knee to keep me from pedaling my ass off.