Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Riding across bridges...

So, last Sunday I went for a ride in Houston with the Bike Barn group. I usually like to ride with the '18' group, but I figured if I want to get faster then I need to start riding with a faster group. So this week I jumped on with the '21's. I quickly noticed that the downfall of this group is that it's HUGE. There were about 30-40 riders in the pack, and that just never works out well. Each time we hit a stop light, the people at the beginning of the group would take off at like 24mph and the rest of the group would have to kill themselves trying to catch up. Eventually we just split into 2 or 3 separate groups, which made staying together much easier. The group I joined up with was mostly people doing the 100 mile ride that day. But there were three of us who decided that 40ish miles would be plenty... especially since it was getting colder and rainier by the minute. The coolest thing about this group was that they convinced me to take a side detour, which added about 12 miles, but included taking the fairy across the bay and then riding back over this awesome bridge. I remember driving from PA to Houston and crossing over this bridge years ago. So it was definitely very cool to ride over it on my bike. And although I was cold and wet when I got back, it was worth the extra 12 miles of riding. Thanks to the people who rode with me and kept the pace going.

And don't forget... the 2009 MS150 is just 2 1/2 months away. Check out my personal site here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reducing the stress... and cycling more.

This year I set two New Year's resolutions for myself. One was to go see a space shuttle launch before 2010, when they stop flying, and the other was to reduce the unnecessary stress in my life. Now, the first hasn't happened yet, but hopefully sometime this fall it will. The second one has begun to take shape. I've decided to stop stressing myself out over the little things in life. I don't *have* to go to the store tonight, I don't *have* to get that new shirt I've been wanting for 3 months, tonight. You get the point. The little things in life can wait, and the world won't end becuase of it. Part of this also includes only allowing myself to do one or two things a night, max. That is, it would be nice to eat dinner before 9pm at night. And it would be nice to just go home after work some nights and not worry about being out until 10pm running around town.

Also, as part of my "reduce stress in my life" mission, I've decided to step down as CTM Treasurer. I'll make this rant short, but lets just say there were a few things that were just annoying me, and people that I could no longer work effectively with. Mainly, I'd really like to know why one cannot just open a bank account in a organizations name without having to contact the IRS for a tax-id number. And then when you talk to the people at the IRS, some tell you that with a tax-id number you have to file taxes for that organization, and others tell you that you don't necessarily have to file taxes just because you have a tax-id number. That was it, the last straw. So now I've just gotta finish updating the member list (which I should have done this weekend, but forgot about), and then I've reduced my stress count by one.

On a total side note, this year I've decided to start climbing more, and mostly cycling harder. Last week I got a new rear wheel and trainer tire for my indoor trainer. It's so nice just being able to switch out wheels on my bike, so I don't have to worry about ruining my road tires. And now that I've figured out how to set up the trainer properly, I should be good to spin and not ruin this tire either. All total the rear wheel plus tire cost about $170, but it was a good investment. I also went out on a Sunday morning ride this past weekend with Brent. We road barton springs rd. to mopac frontage road, across the mopac bridge, west on southwest parkway to HW71. Up HW71 to 2244 (scariest part of the ride), back east on 2244 to 360, south on 360 to mopac frontage road north, back to barton springs road, up robert e lee, and back to my house. It was about 32 miles total, but almost all hills. It was a great workout, and great training for the MS150!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So Much Fun!

So last night Steph and Nic hosted a Crappy Christmas Gift Exchange party at their house. It was sooo much fun. First, let me say, it's amazing the type of stuff people buy for each other. For example, why would anyone ever want a small figurine of three pigs eating out of a troff? Or a candle with beads wrapped around it? Or a cookbook called "the best of the best" from 1996... that was just given to them as a gift this year! Other interesting gifts included grapefruit shower gel and bath beads, a calendar that shows you how to make a different paper airplane each day of the week, a melon baller, items from a dollar store, pink fuzzy vibrating slippers, a bad cat calendar, green fuzzy socks, and a porn video. So the party was basically a white elephant exchange with gifts people got for Christmas but didn't want and/or need. There were 25 people at the party and it was a lot of fun.

After most people left, Steph broke out the shredded paper. Apparently Nic and Steph have this fun game they like to play called, throw the shredded paper and old phone books into the ceiling fan. Now, if you've never done this before, you don't know what you're missing. Sure, it's messy, but it's sooo much fun! Jeremy tried to stay out of it, but as soon as he said "I don't want to," Moose tossed a handful off paper at him, and he was dragged into the mess with the rest of us. We were finding little pieced of paper everywhere when we got home. Who knew shredded paper could make its way down your pants.

Thanks for hosting a great party guys!

Oh, and check out more pictures here!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Busy at work, Busy in life...

I've had a wonderful holiday season, and I hope you have too. For New Years I went down to Houston and Jeremy & I hosted a dinner party for 10 of our friends. It was really fun, and everyone was able to stay until at least midnight. Even the folks with little kids. I also got the chance to ride my bike three times that weekend! I got in a 45 mile road ride on Saturday morning, followed by a messenger race in downtown Houston in the afternoon, and then a mountain bike ride on Sunday. The messenger race was awesome. I got to meet a whole bunch of new people from Houston, who were all really fun and nice. I met a few of the messengers there and hung out with them for a few hours. The welcomeness of the messengers there (and their friends) reminded me of the climbing community here in Austin. It was just so great to go to a race without knowing anyone, and to have such a great time. They even cheered me on during the first part of the race! I didn't actually finish the race itself, but I did about half of it. The race consisted of 3 manifests and 11 unmanned checkpoints per manifest... plus an obstacle course that you had to do six times! So for those of you that don't know, let me take a minute to explain this further.

A manifest is a piece of paper with a list of places that you need to hit. These were unmanned checkpoints so you just had to go to that location and answer the question listed on the manifest. ie - What color is the house at 2400 Bell Street. So you rush over to 2400 Bell St. and look at the house and write down the color. Fortunately all the people were given maps, so even us out of towner's were able to do the course pretty well. It was also a closed course. Which means all the checkpoints were within a 8 by 8 block radius. The manifest consisted of 5 checkpoints that you had to hit in order, then you had to run back to the "home spot" do the obstacle course, then do the next 6 checkpoints in any order, then go back and do the obstacle course again, then repeat for 2 more different manifests. When you were done you had to rush over to this pizza joint and turn in all 3 of your manifests. I made it through the obstacle course twice and through one full manifest before I was done. I probably wouldn't have come in dead last, but it was getting late and I knew I couldn't finish the race before I had to head back to clear lake. Either way, it was totally awesome.

I just realized this post is getting way long, so I'll just comment briefly on the mountain biking that I did on Sunday. I went to Jack Brooks park south of Clear Lake, TX. It's a pretty fun park with a bunch of man made obstacles in a section known as the playground. Now, I'm partial to Austin mountain biking, but if you've ever wanted to try trials type stuff, this isn't a bad place to check out. I decided to try out a ramp, but it didn't go very well. Needless to stay, wood does not give as much as ground does, and the fall was pretty spectacular. I'm glad I had my helmet on, and before I try those again, I think I'll make sure someone is with me in case I can't get up. I don't think I broke anything, but my pinky on my right hand is still up for debate. Anyway, if you're in the area, it's not a bad place to check out. Quite good by Houston standards. :)