Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Race Report: 2009 Bobcat Spring Classic

Another great weekend in Central Texas (San Marcos, to be exact), this one accompanied with some enjoyable collegiate racing in the SCCCCCCC... While the organization of the race was lacking, the courses themselves were nearly perfect, so thanks to the Texas State Cycling Team for that! With my experience co-organizing Sweatin' Burnt Orange this past year, I know it is a very daunting task to put on a cycling event, so I can understand, but hopefully they will learn and improve for next year.

First up for the weekend was the hill climb time trial, which consisted of a short flat section, followed by about a 1 km climb at 18% grade, and then a .5 mile flat section to the finish. Leaving campus around 7:15, we managed to make it to the TT site by around 8:15 after getting a bit lost, but the registration table was late too, so it was no big deal. And thus the fun began.

The time trial was really short, under 2 miles, and most completed it in around 5 or 6 minutes. I ended up 15th with a time just under 6 minutes. However, this included at least about 15 seconds that I was late to my start because we were not given start times and I thought I had more time than I had. I am curious to see how I actually would have done. Depending on how much time I lost due to that late state, I may have actually ended up around 6th place. Ah well. Clay blew everyone out of the water, winning our category (Men's C) by almost 30 seconds! He actually had the best time out of anyone on our team. Crazy!

We also took 3rd and 9th in Men's C, 2nd and 3rd in Men's B, 8th and 10th in Men's A, 3rd 5th and 9th in Women's B, and 3rd in Women's A! not too shabby, eh

Next up was the crit, but first we stopped at Alvin Ord's, a local San Marcos sandwich shop, for some tasty sandwiches. On the way to lunch, we passed by a Shipley Donuts, and of course, we had to stop by there after lunch to pick up a dozen glazed ones. Mmmm. It's a good thing I don't live closer to one of those, or I would be in trouble...

The crit took place on the Texas State campus in a parking lot and on a bordering street. At first, it looked to be quite a sketchy place to have a crit, and there were cars driving all over the course, due to a lack of volunteers/organization. But, things got worked out, and the first race was only delayed half an hour, and all was well. Apart from being a bit short, the course turned out to be very enjoyable with a 180 degree u-turn into a hill that played to my advantage, allowing me to pass people who have trouble handling their bikes and climbing, and a couple other short descents and climbs, including a climb to the finish line, that made for another spot to move up a few spots. The only really bad part about the course was a certain right hand turn that had a dip in the middle of it, causing much fear in the hearts of riders, but only ended up causing minimal problems in the end. Oh, and that trash can I grazed on just about every lap... All in all it was a very fast and fun crit and quite enjoyable.

In the men's Cs, Clay went off the front towards the beginning and stayed there for the win, making him a marked man after winning both of Saturday's events seemingly uncontested. There was a three-man chase after Clay who ended up taking second and third, and then a group of six of us behind them. Ken had some trouble in the corner with the dip and left us with 5 in our group. It was 3 UT riders an OU rider, and a Tech rider, not sure who, but we had an obvious advantage and were able to sit on the Tech guy's wheel. However, we were never able to make anything happen and ended up getting beat by both the Tech and OU rider, putting us at 7th, 8th, and 9th, myself being 9th. It was rather frustrating considering what could have been, but to have 4 in the top 10 isn't too bad I suppose.

We also managed to take 1st and 3rd in the men's B (Way to go guys!), 7th and 9th in Men's A, 3rd and 7th in Women's B, and 2nd in Women's A!

That evening, we refueled our muscles with some delicious shrimp, quinoa, and scrumptious rustic bread and cheese. It was quite a meal, I only wish my camera was working...

Sunday was the road race, and my first actual road race at that, (I'm not counting Pace Bend as a true road race) so I did not quite know what to expect. The course was just east of 35 behind the ridiculous outlets in San Marcos, and the same course that is usually used for the Tour of New Braunfels road race. The course was about 13 miles long, mostly flat with one noticeable climb in the first 5 miles of the course and a short descent soon after and then another that was just enough to stir things up a bit near the end of the course. Due to the narrow roads and the yellow line rule, some of the turns got a bit hairy, but there were no catastrophies, and all was well.

So here's how it went down in the C race:

We had pretty good positioning from the beginning, with about 8 of us at the front, who would (for the most part) stay there the rest of the race. There were 63 riders in the race, so we had a good-sized field. The first, and biggest climb on the course caught me a little by surprise, as it was steeper than I originally thought, and I was in my big ring. I made the stupid mistake of shifting into my small ring while out of the saddle, and like clockwork, I dropped the chain to the inside. So there I am, in the middle of the hill, sitting about 10th wheel in the pack, shifting my front derailleur all the way over and spinning like a mad man trying to pick up my chain and also not cause a terrible mishap in the field. No dice. For some reason, even after shifting my derailleur as far as it would go, I could not pick up my chain. So, I stopped, got off the bike, and had to manually put my chain back on. Awesome.

So now I'm midway up a hill, dead last in the pack, with the follow car behind me (who actually got impatient and left me before I even got back on my bike) within the first 5 miles of the race. Great start... I briefly thought about just riding back to the start, but so early on in the race, I figured it would be worth a shot to catch back up. Luckily, the next 10 miles or so were relatively flat, so I caught up to some guys who had been spit out of the pack, and told them to get on my wheel to catch up. There were about 3 of us, doing somewhat of a paceline, and by that I mean I pulled until I started to get tired, and then an A&M guy pulled until he got tired, and then I pulled again, with 2 guys sitting on our wheels... Either way, I managed to catch the pack and sit in to catch my breath and relax a little bit.

Due to the yellow line rule, the pack was spread across the entire lane and there was really no way to move up in the pack, until somewhere towards the end of the first lap when a shoulder suddenly appeared, and the front of the pack seemed to be staying to the left of the white line. I took this opportunity to move up to the front of the pack, and ended up about where I had started, somewhere around 8th wheel. My teammates welcomed me back, and now we were all even, except that I had just put forth a whole lot more effort than them to get to the same place. Great.

The rest of the race was entirely uneventful, no attacks, no breakaways, nothing. There were a couple of crashes, one in a corner and another in a straight (how did that happen?) but otherwise nothing noteworthy. We pretty much controlled the entire race, sitting on the front with a couple Rice riders pulling for us. I tried to get some sort of teamwork together since we had the numbers and the strength, but nobody really seemed to have the desire or experience to do anything. I tried a couple of attacks, but my legs were shot, and I was quickly caught by the pack, and towards the end there were some attacks by other riders, to which we launched counter-attacks, but it seemed that somehow the pace always ended up being much too easy, foreshadowing a field sprint at the end.

Somehow, only some of the riders had an idea of where the finish line was, so several people sprinted early, almost to overshoot or nearly overshoot the final turn, at which point the whole field started to go crazy, and everyone was riding squirrelly. There were blatant yellow line violations followed by an uncontrolled field sprint for the finish. Despite the fact that we had at least 6 guys at the front, the best any of us finished was 4th, when we could have gotten organized and likely swept the top 3 spots at least. We managed to take 4th, 6th, 7th, and 9th, which isn't bad, but disappointing considering what could/should have been. But, you live and learn. I ended up somewhere around 15th to 20th, as my legs were shot by then from my efforts at the beginning, and I did my best to catch a wheel for the sprint, but just had nothing left.

In the Men's B race we took 7th and 8th, 9th in the Women's B, and 4th in Women's A.

Overall, the weekend was a blast, and I think we all learned a thing or two about racing, and I know I certainly learned a whole lot both as an idividual and as a team member. So, I would consider it a very successful weekend, especially if we put this experience to use come our next race in Wichita Falls.

Oh yes, and pictures from the weekend's races can be found here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Odds and Ends

It's Friday, here's what on my mind:

There's a new ride in town! James and I checked out a new ride, put on by Social Cycling ATX, started by a local named Brooks. He's hoping to start more of these rides, and seems to be headed in the right direction! Anywho, this was apparently the third edition of the "Urban Night Ride" but with a larger turnout than the previous two, which is exciting. We met up at the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge to watch the sunset and socialize for a bit:

Then it was a quick stop at the fountains by the Palmer Center:

Another shot of the small group, hangin' out at the fountains:

From there we headed up to the capitol, and then on through campus and up to the Draught House. Thanks to some Sweet Leaf Tea that was provided pre-ride (for free!) I had to make a pit stop at the Draught House, and then we decided to grab a beer there, while another group rode on for some more sober (less fun) riding. From there, we snaked our way all the way back down to the Gingerman to check out the new location. It was nice, still smells a bit too new and feels too sterile, but nothing some spilled beer and good times can't change. Check out Cyclebum's blog for more pictures of the ride and the Gingerman.

I had other things to put here, but the day has gotten away from me, and it's another race weekend, so that is all for now.

Race Report to come Monday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why Austin Rocks: Reason Reason #347

We had a muggy, damp, overcast all day, until I emerged from my cave that is work to dry streets and partly cloudy skies with just enough time to get a solid 1.5 hour ride in before dark!

Yupp, it's ok to be jealous.

Oh, and for some reason, this song keeps popping into my head ever since Danielle first introduced me to it over Spring Break. Not sure how I had never heard it before, especially with Luda being a guilty pleasure of mine, and I even had the album it's on at one time I think. I even had it in one of my dreams last week...

Though I dislike the words themselves, I just love all the puns with "ho" and "whore." Is that so bad? sigh... If only every day really was a "ho"liday

Oh, and something rather comical I found via Google image search related to the song:

Click on the map to check out the original source.

It seems the 512 is still up for grabs...

Oh, and Luda, if you're reading, I think it's because they like your gangsta ways...

Spring Break in Pictures

Leaving before the sun caught us Friday morning, Danielle, Brenna, and I set out on our long, long cross-state drive. We drove through rain on and off all day, with overcast skies further keeping the sun from knowing our whereabouts. Fittingly enough, at almost the exact moment we hit the El Paso City Limits, we saw our first taste of blue sky:

Once we got to El Paso, it was business first, and we grabbed a bite to eat at one of my family's favourite restaurants.

Then we headed to White Sands, one of Brenna's favourite spots and an old favourite of my childhood.

I had not been to White Sands in over 6 years, so it was fun to go back .

Of course, I also had not been at high altitude (4235 ft/1291 m) in quite some time, and the lack of oxygen was definitely felt climbing the dunes

Sometimes White Sands feels like a different world

"Those clouds don't look too friendly, and I think they're coming towards us"
Eh, too pretty to be concerned with some ugly clouds

And then we got sandblasted as a coldfront hit us

It was probably pictures like this that caused my camera to ...not work... the rest of the week...

Yupp, so while the sandstorm was an experience, and made for some cool photos, I have now screwed up a second camera at sand dunes... You think I would have learned in Florence

So, I have no more photos from the rest of the week, but I assure you it was incredible. We got in some awesome riding at around 7,000 feet, including one day where we did a beautiful 60 mile ride with over 4,000 feet of climbing. It was not easy, but the beautiful weather and scenery more than made up for it, in my opinion. There was also hiking, road tripping, unsuccessful snow sledding, and lots of eating, drinking, and merry times.

We got back Thursday after a very looooong day in the car (no thanks to me) and spent the remainder of the break trying to avoid the hipster infestation that is South by Southwest while still trying to enjoy some of the festivities. I would call it a success. I may write about all that fun, excitment, and irony, depending on my mooooooood.

Now back to the daily grind.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Race Report: Tunis Roubaix Crit

This weekend marked the beginning of the racing season for the SCCCCCCCCCC... (South Central Collegiate Cycling Conference) with the annual Tunis-Roubaix road race hosted by the A&M Cycling Team. I was busy on Saturday trying to get a job and was unable to participate in the road race, which I am still not sure if that is a good thing or not (kinda leaning towards yes, it is a good thing). From what I heard, it was a pretty rough race, and the course was intense with baseball-size rocks on the dirt section. Yeah, kinda glad I had to miss that. This year, for the first time, A&M also decided to add a collegiate only crit on Sunday and I was able to partake in that.

My race was at 9 am, and being more of a night person than morning person (though that is changing...) I drove out to College Station Saturday night and crashed at a friend's place instead of getting up at the ass crack of dawn after losing an hour to Daylight Savings Time to drive out there the morning of. Turns out my clock automatically adjusts the time for DST, but for some reason, it also adds an hour to the time you set for your alarm... so I ended up waking up an hour late... Good thing I was only 20 minutes away from the race instead of 2 hours!

The race was held at the Brazos County Expo Center (fancy name for a small convention center and some sort of livestock/equestrian arena, it is A&M after all...) which proved to be a nice spot for a crit, save some dirt on the roads. The course was flat and well-paved, with plenty of corners, and a whole lot of fun.

Lining up for the start, I had not had much of a warm-up and I had to pee, so I was not feeling too confident about the race. I decided to try to look as pro as possible and ditch one of my bottles at the start line up (more like I realized everyone else had only one bottle and I would not need more than one) apparently breaking Jacob's collarbone in the process. Good thing it didn't keep him from doing well in his race. And we were off.

Long story short, I was dumb and stayed at the back of what I would hesitate to call a pack, and it seemed that every time I got on someone's wheel, they would slow down, and I would have to hit it to get around them and keep with the front group, wasting energy. Also, on multiple occasions, after I had already picked my line into a corner, some idiot who did not know how to corner would cut me off on the inside and then come out wide, causing me to have to avoid them. Aye. Slowly, I just began riding off the back for a few laps until I just couldn't keep up with them.

Coming around the chicane, when I was still with somewhat of a group, photo from davidriggs.com

I thought about pulling myself from the race, but reminded myself it was only 30 minutes and wanted to finish unless they made me drop out. I was able to stay in for the entire race and ended up finishing 16th out of 30 some people, which is better than I thought, just because they pulled so many people and the field shrank really quickly. Had I been smarter about it though, I could have done much better. Ah well, you live and learn. At least now I have actually finished a race! For some reason, I think people think I have more racing experience than I actually have. While I hate to do it, I'm going to burst the bubble: This was my third race, and my first two were both DNFs in similar fashion. At least now I have a finish!

Josh ended up getting 3rd, and we had 2 other top 10 finishes, I belive, including Ben and Joey.

Another view of the chicane, with Joey in the lead. Photo from davidriggs.com

I had planned on leaving after my race, but decided to stick around to watch as the course seemed like it would be fun to watch, and to spend some time with my teammates. The Men's B and A race were both stacked by MSU, but we still managed to do pretty well in each, considering the circumstances. One MSU guy tore up the B race by breaking away pretty early and staying there, with the help of two or three teammates in the pack just sitting on the front and preventing a chase. Caputo managed to snag 5th though, I believe. We did not have any women in the Women's B race, and there were only three in the A race which was taken by an A&M girl who managed a breakaway, leaving Brenna with an MSU girl who refused to work with her. In the Men's A race, there was a break of four- 2 MSU riders, Jordan for UT, and one A&M rider. They eventually caught up to the main pack, causing things to get a little chaotic, aided apparently by a crash by Michael, and the end result was MSU taking first with Jordan in second, which was awesome! For Kyle and Sean it was their first and second, respectively time to race As, and they did an awesome job! All in all, it was a good day of racing, and fun to watch (save all the mullets).

By the way, I would caution you not to mess with Michael:
Photo from davidriggs.com

And now for more pictures, because that's what everyone really wants to see (Not that my pictures are as good as the above ones, by any means):
Caputo, workin' in the pack

Jacob, stickin' it to 'em
Caputo, goin' for itJacob and Caputo, holdin' down the front

Jordan is smiling too big to be working hard...

There he goes
Poor Kyle, having to stare at that nasty, nasty mullet

That is all for now. Full Moon Cruise tonight, midnight. See you there.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Tips for a Better Life

URGENT! PUBLIC BEWARE!!: If you live anywhere near Round Rock, Texas, and are the parent of children who like to ride bikes, specifically chrome a "Youth GT Performer" or blue "Adult Roadmaster Mountainbike," we have reason to belive you and your children may be in danger! Please consider the following:

There is one line in particular that I feel is cause for concern:
"BEWARE:If you stole these bikes and I see you or your children riding around on one of them I will get out of my car and wrestle you down if given the chance and because you are obviously a poor excuse for a parent I WILL PERSONALLY BUY YOUR CHILD A BRAND NEW BIKE to hopefully make up for their lack of a good role model who is so awful that they would give their child a STOLEN bike."

If you and your children are planning a bike playdate anytime soon, this could be the result:

But hey, at least she gave us fair warning, right? And, she makes up for it by offering to buy the kid a bike. So save a concussion, no harm done, right? I think we all know having a bike stolen is a pretty low thing to have happen, much less one of your children's bikes, so I say we must be vigilant and keep our eyes peeled for these bikes. If spotted, remember: no questions, just tackle!

Seriously though, when it comes to bike theft, I think it would be fair to turn the thief over to the owner of the bike and let them do what they feel to the thief, which would hopefully be more than just tackling... I was just picturing some poor kid riding their bike and being tackled out of the blue. It can happen:

Thank you Perry for those words to live by. See how lucky you are? You got two very excellent pointers to improve your quality of life from just ONE craigslist posting:
-Beware of women out to tackle your bike-riding child
-Always beware of Johnny the tackling Alzheimer's patient

My community service for the weekend is complete.

And now back to the regularly scheduled rambling:

I had planned on going on the Thursday Night Road Ride last night, hosted by a local racer who pretty much fits the profile of why I do not like to call myself a cyclist (i.e. should spend more time riding and less time worrying about what his bike looks like/weighs). But, riding to and from school/work yesterday I was definitely feeling the hills from the day before, and I had nobody to go with, so I decided to go to my roommate's performance with the UT Jazz Ensemble. Given that Ron Westray is the conductor for that group, and his, um, "lively" (an understatement to say the least) style of conducting, I think I made the right choice. Of course, I am also biased as my most recent birthday wrapped up at the Elephant Room to watch the Ron Westray Quartet, whereby they blew my mind by ending their set with a 15 minute vamp of Silent Night. Amazing.

So, in lieu of my review of a sweaty, lycralicious, testosterone-driven group ride, I am sharing with you ways to make your life not suck. Considering I already gave two pointers above, you should thank me for my generosity. And so I bring you this gem:
"Want to ride faster on limited training time?"
"Are you interested in recovering faster between each training ride so that you are ready to train effectively the next time?"
"Do you want to have more energy so that you can do your workouts around your other commitments without problems?"
omg, YES! How did you know?!!
"Find out how you can drop 5 pounds in one week, the healthy way and gain the competitive edge in cycling."
Holy crap, where do I sign up?
"I stated training from zero fitness at age 30 in 2005 and have now been racing top level for 3 years now."
hmmm, something smells fishy here, other than just your grammar...

Ok, so either this dude has combined TrimSpa, 5 Hour Energy, Bowflex, and probably some Enzyte (just for good measure) in some sketchy meth lab in Kansas, or he's pushing 'roids. Either way, who would trust this melting pot of late night miracle commercials? And if he is legit, he should really stop sounding like a melting pot of late night micacle commercials. Need I say more?

Finally, since it's Friday, I will leave you with a valuable lesson learned the hard way by some fellow Austinites: It's a waste of time to spend your Friday nights on LiveJournal, unless you like to partake in discussions (and I use the term lightly) that go nowhere.

While I generally agree with the original purpose of Critical Mass, I have never taken part in a ride. Why? I feel there are a handful of people who do it and just go out looking for confrontation, and that ruins it for the rest of us. Another reason is they tend to do things like ride through parking garages, or on the interstate, which, I feel goes against the whole beauty and reason behind riding a bike: we don't have to put up with those same annoyances as those who drive.

That being said, I have no sympathy for someone who had to wait at a light while Critical Mass passes through. You're driving on a Friday afternoon, downtown, you would be an idiot not to expect delays. So, the last Friday of every month, just plan ahead. It's not that hard. As a matter of fact, when you commute by bike most places, you always have to plan ahead. Cars are convenient, and convenience tends to make us lazy and lose appreciation for what we have. I just love reading all the reasons why people "NEED" their car, when the truth is with less money and a little more time and effort, most everything you "need" your car for can be accomplished by bike or walking. Of course, the infrastructure of our country and the American Wet Dream being based around the car, some would probably consider me a terrorist for such a statement.

Before someone calls me out on it, yes, I do own a car, and yes I do use it from time to time, and yes I feel guilty and hypocritical about 95% of the time I use it. But, I too am lazy and not perfect, and it is convenient when I do not want to ride. Plus, my dad would likely kill me if I got rid of the car (he already thinks I'm a gay vegetarian because I don't eat as much steak as him). So do I need my car? Certainly not, and I look forward to a time in my life when I can live without one. But for where I am in my life, if nothing else, it's an easy way to get a free beer from a friend in exchange for a ride ;-)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Over the Hills and (Not So) Far Away

For some reason, I was scheduled for two fewer shifts this week than normal, and while I could certainly use the money, I decided not to complain or ask why and use the time to ride instead. That was a good decision. Plus, this is the last week of 6:30 sunset, so I will be able to work until 6 every day AND still have time to ride when I get home! As if that's not exciting enough, the Driveway Crits start next week! I would gander to say that if you're looking for me on a Thursday between now and November, that would be the first place to check. Seriously, how better to spend a Thursday night than with bikes and post-race beer and food? Also, the Tuesday Nighter will be starting up, and I plan to at least check that out once, probably not a regular thing for me though... Aaaaand, I have been having withdrawals lately for the lack of "bike culture" in my life, and the upcoming Full Moon Cruise seems to be just the cure; I may even stick around for the whole thing and start Spring Break early! But I digress...

Back to yesterday:

I got a later start than I had planned, and while this is pretty standard for me, being late still bothers me. Yet I have done little to change it. Ah well, at least I was riding alone and nobody had to wait for me.

Riding down Barton Springs, I had my usual Rollingwood/360/Shoal Creek loop in mind, but I felt a strange pull, and ended up heading down Stratford. Considering the climbing starts less than 2 miles from my place, I was less than warmed up for it, but after nearly coming to a stop on the first hill, the rest was not terrible. This was also the first time I had done any signifigant climbing with Izabella, who packs a double as opposed to Vanessa's triple, so that was new as well.

Normally, I turn around and do Stratford half way and then cut through to Rollingwood when I get to Red Bud, but again, there was something pulling me in that direction, so I decided to stay the course. I ran into Kyle and Joseph out on Red Bud, gave the obligatory nonchalant wave between passing cars, and then I found out what Red Bud is all about. For a long time, I thought people referred to Red Bud as just the section between Westlake Dr. and Lake Austin Blvd. which is part of my "old" favourite route, but for a while I knew there must be something more, I had just never done it. Well now I know. It was quite a climb, but a good one at that, and traffic was very minimal compared to Westlake Dr. I will definitely have to add that one on the regular rotation.

I had been tossing around the idea of Lost Creek, but when I came to 360, that would have been a hassle to go south to get there, and I still felt mysteriously drawn in a certain direction. Plus, I had a good thing going what with all the changing of my usual routes, so why rain on that parade?

Let me just say I love riding 360, for many reasons, but this could be one of the best ones:
It makes me sad to think how many people are pissed off and stressed out, sitting in traffic in their cars while I do what I love and enjoy the beautiful views that this area has to offer. You can life life in your "fast" lane all you want, but I prefer the lane that is free of traffic:
Ah well, more room for me I suppose!

Cruising along, I was drawn into a random neighborhood, up a little hill that so badly wanted to be taken seriously:
After ending up at the bottom of a hill that ended in a cul-de-sac and resulted in the first time I have ever had to weave side to side to climb a hill (remember, I'm still new to having a double) I finally realized why I had felt like I was being drawn towards something the whole time:
The antenna farm!! One of my favourite Austin landmarks since I moved here. Recently, I was shown how to get there (which turned out to be far easier than I had originally thought) by a certain someone, and we had noted the hills in the surrounding neighborhoods. I guess the fact that I started my ride with some hill climbs, the electro-magnetic fields emitted from the antennae drew me in ever so discretely. As it turns out, right next to the compound from where the antennae keep watch on the city (hopefully they don't work for Big Brother) is for sale!
Maybe there is suspicious Martian activity that goes on beyond those gates, and they're fed up, or they recently had a child with an extra nose due to the radiation emitted by the antennae, or perhaps, though much less exciting, they could not pay back their mortgage... Ah well, such is life. I guess they could just want to live somewhere else? But who does that, really?
And I want to know who is responsible for putting up the black sheep antenna! Why the hate for the candy cane antennae? Someone's always gotta be different...

And so, in light of all the newness, hill climbing, and being out on 360, there was one more thing I had to squeeze in before the sun left us for his friends out West with whom he prefers to spend his evenings:
Ah yes, Jester, another famed Austin hill I had yet to meet. And what better time than rush hour on a warm spring Wednesday when the roads are more like a playground than anything else. And so it goes:
And now I have climbed Jester. Was it a challenge? Of course. Did I have to go at a ridiculously slow pace in my granny gear? Yes. Was it the epic monolith that everyone talks it up to be? I'm not so sure about that. But then, I'm not sure any hill I have climbed has lived up to the talk that precedes it. A climb is a climb, and mental strength can get you through most of them. Of course, if you're going for speed, then it's different. But I ride for pleasure mostly, a hedonistic style if you will, and it's not the difficulty of the climb that makes or breaks it for me.
I judge hills based on how they reward you once you've done your work. If a hill offers scenic vistas and/or a thrilling descent, then it's a winner in my book.

And on a day like yesterday, with this beautiful March weather we are so lucky to have, and beautiful land we are so lucky to live on, Jester has got something going for it.
Yupp, I love this place, especially this time of year. And we had better soak it up because soon our clothes will be what is soaking, with sweat that is..
I almost want to say the summers are worth it, just for these past few months, but then again, I know I will be bitching as soon as we hit 90 degrees with 65% humidity, and it's impossible to brush your teeth without breaking a sweat. But that's another day. Today, our only responsibility is to appreciate what we are given and make the most of it.
Of course that goes for every day, and there may not be a better purpose in life than to make each day as beautiful as possible. The real challenge comes in not losing sight of that.