Sunday, October 26, 2008

LiveStrong Challenge - Day 3 (Sunday the 26th) - Ride

The Challenge ride was held in Dripping Springs, Tx again this year.

Due to construction on highway 290, the LAF warned us we should leave ourselves ample time to get there. As it turned out, the travel time to get there was not much more than last year -- who besides a bunch of crazy bike riders is driving at 6am on a Sunday?!? (the drive back was slower, much more traffic).

I arrived about an hour before the start and parked at the Dripping Springs ISD Administration building, not an 'official' spot, but a bit out of the way, and less traffic to deal with. It's a little more than a mile from the high school so a little bit of a ride (and in the morning, quite dark), but good for a warmup. Some other riders pulled up and parked while I was getting ready. The temperature was about 65, so pretty comfortable. At this time of year it can be much cooler but we had a great weather for the Challenge.

At the Start/Finish, a lady who recently had brain surgery was setup to ride a stationary bike 100 miles. Her doctors did not want her on the road (since she's not fully recovered). She finished her 100 miles about 1 minute after I finished. That's quite an impressive feat.

With about 2 minutes before the start, they announced the start of the ride was delayed by about 20 minutes - Lance had arrived late, he made a few remarks explaining the delay - and then encouraged all of us to have fun and enjoy the ride.

Once the ride started, I moved in and out of groups, and stopped at every other rest stop. One fast group of about a dozen riders passed me three times I think, since they would stop where I skipped, or I would leave a stop before they did. When they passed, I had thoughts of trying to hang with them, but thought better of it. They were just a bit faster than me.

The ride was very nice, not too much wind, partly cloudy and beautiful vistas in the Hill County. When passing through Wimberley, there was a photographer snapping pictures of most everyone passing by (not from the 'official' company). I looked through the slideshow, my picture isn't there.

There is quite a bit of climbing in the route (6000'), but I was able to leave the chain on the big ring in front for the whole ride, although I'm sure shifting to the small ring would have been advisable in a few cases. I felt relatively good toward the end, though I had some pain in my left foot, well more my toes, from pushing up on the underside of the shoe.

After the ride, I walked around the Village some, got some food (they had small Subway sandwiches, pizza, and some Mexican food available - I had a little of each) and headed over to the beer tent. I met several members of Team Dell including one of the captains that had spoken at the Appreciation Dinner the night before.

My ride time was better than last year by a small bit, I was pleased I could manage a good speed. On some of the hills, I felt I couldn't have been going more than 5 mph ... but of course, the downhill side makes up for that.

I found out my friend Henrike had a bad crash at the Challenge just after the start. She's ok, but it sounds quite nasty. I hope she gets well soon and there's no lasting damage.

I had a good time and hopefully will participate in the Challenge next year.

LiveStrong Challenge - Day 2 (Saturday the 25th) - Appreciation Dinner

The Appreciation Dinner was held at the downtown Hilton, which is just north of the Austin Convention Center (it was held in the ACC last year). I was a little worried about being late since UT was playing Oklahoma State and the game was due to end just as I would be traveling downtown. There was some extra traffic, but not too bad, plus I had given myself some extra time to get there.

Once you signed in, you filled out a name tag for yourself and for your table since only certain contributors had reserved seating.

There was a reception before the dinner, and a silent auction featuring signed items from Tony Hawk, Alonzo Mourning, Lance Armstrong.

My daughter accompanied me to the dinner this year. The serving started a little late, once seated, you went back outside where they had setup several buffet lines. There was plenty of good food, salad, rolls, garlic noodles, salmon, chicken parmesan, pasta primavera, and some delicious desserts -- including one with a spoon made of chocolate. It was all very tasty.

Once dinner was more or less complete, the emcee, Evan Smith started off the remainder of the event. He was substituting for Doug Ulman who was away at a wedding in New Orleans. Doug had made a short video which they showed. They also showed a video made around the world discussing how other societies deal with cancer and treatment (watch a short version). It was eye opening how much lack of knowledge there is in other parts of the world. Part of the reason for Lance's return to competitive cycling is to spread the LAF mission around the world, raising people's awareness, and hopefully getting more preventative screening down.

After some of the corporate sponsors talked, Lance & Evan conducted a Q & A session. At the reception, you could fill out a card with any question you wanted to ask Lance. They selected about 6 or so to answer. One turned out to be from a lady sitting right next to me. Another of the questions was from a 7 year old which they invited to the stage to ask his question in person, which was:

"Lance, what's the worstest crash you've ever had?"

Lance pondered a bit and started to answer "My worst crash was....." and immediately the crowd was heckling him with "worstest.. worstest". He then corrected himself and gave the details of his "worstest" crash. Lance then asked the boy if he had a followup question, and the boy proceeded to not ask a question, but to give the details of his "worstest" crash (which included flipping over the handle bars). Lance then said "That crash was way worser than mine" :-)

They also invited up the Challenge award winners for top contributor, most donors, most team members who each gave a short speech.

I enjoyed myself and hope I can attend next year, although that's more up to my donors than it is to me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

LiveStrong Challenge - Day 2 (Saturday the 25th) - Walk

The walk was held in downtown Austin, Tx on Saturday. I arrived well ahead of time, and it was still quite dark out. Like last year, the start was just south of the Capitol, however down one block, at 10th and Congress.

Just before the start, Doug Ulman gave a small speech, followed by the National Anthem, and then actor Evan Handler. Watch the video.

Once the walk started, I ran for just a little bit since I was to the front and didn't want to get trampled. The route was different this year, turning east on 3rd street and then north on Trinity. I tried to watch for the mile markers, I believe the timing was 12:53 for mile 1, 28:17 for mile 2 and 43:30 at end, at mile 3 (the chip recorded 43:29.442). Perhaps one day I'll try running, but for now, the walking suits me.

Once again, they had pedicabs for children from the Dell Children's Hospital. Most of them were quite noisy as they passed so they didn't sneak up on you. I found out the next day some of the riders from Team Dell were the "drivers" for the cabs.

These folks, from the Palmetto Pelaton, rode from Greenville, South Carolina to Austin in about 5 days. They left on October 19th, rode in groups of 5 for 6 hours, 24 hours a day. I'm impressed! After all the walkers had finished, they invited the whole gang to go up on stage for a group photo

After the walk, I went up to the Capitol to look around a bit. Last year I didn't go inside, but decided I would this time. There were lots of other folks from the walk with the same idea as me, probably a good deal of them from out of state.

As I left, I noticed many UT fans were already setting up their tail-gating parties for the game that afternoon.

Once home, I did a short ride in preparation for the Ride tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

LiveStrong Challenge - Day 1 (Friday the 24th)

Registration was at the Austin Convention Center on Friday. I took the afternoon off from work so I could travel downtown before rush hour. I arrived and parked in the parking garage on 2nd street, the prior time I had used the one on 5th street. I didn't have a voucher to park but they had a signin sheet, thus parking was free.

I headed over to the ACC and picked up my packet right away. It didn't take too long, they had alot of people working. After checking in, I also picked up a timer chip that could be used both on the walk/run and the ride. Previously, they only had used the time for the walk/run. The LAF decided to time the ride since Lance was now racing again - although they make it clear it's not to be treated as a race.

I wandered around some more, stopping by several of the booths, Kashi had a big setup doing cooking demonstrations. Bicycle Sport Shop setup a small store, they had a good deal on some 10//2 clothing, a shirt and windbreaker, I decided to get both.

Chris Carmichael (Lance's coach) was there, autographing copies of his book. We got to talk for a minute, he was riding the 90 miler on Sunday. Nissan was sponsoring this and took a picture putting you on the cover of Bicycling magazine.

I went to find my friend Henrike, she's one of the Challenge mentors (for the International Region). We talked for quite a while, she had trouble with some of her fundraising due to the view of some in Europe that Lance must have doped to win the TdF and his return somehow encourages more doping. It doesn't make much sense to either one of us. She's planning on running the Berlin marathon in a few years, I wish her luck, running is much harder on your body than biking. While we were talking, several other folks, from England, stopped by. I was hoping I'd see her during the walk or ride but I never did... but there were so many people around, it was not a big surprise.

I filled out my 'In Honor of'' cards for my Mom and brother and put them on the wall. They move this to the Village they setup at the Ride.

I wandered around a bit more and then headed home to get some rest for the walk the next day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Outlaw Trail 100 - 08

The Outlaw Trail 100 was held on October 18th starting in Round Rock, Tx. The route was very close to prior years.

The weather was spectacular, clear and cool. Looking back at last year, it was about 20 degrees cooler and much less humid. I decided to ride to Old Settler's Park from my house, and then, of course, back. The distance was about 7 and a quarter miles each way. Fortunately, the wind was from the north so I had a bit of an assist on the way back.

I considered doing the 100K distance given the LiveStrong Challenge is this coming weekend, but I felt good and did the 100 mile route. The wind was from the north but nowhere near as strong as last year, making the ride much more enjoyable. I was able to stay in a few packs, but for the most part, I rode solo. Near the end, maybe mile 95, I did my 'TdF' move, racing ahead of a group I had been in for a liitle while. At the very end, one of those riders did catch me for his 'stage win'.

At the end, instead of pizza, they organizers provided a coupon for 'Chicken Express' and I got some tenders. At least this way, everyone gets a hot meal, before, by the time the 100 mile riders return, the pizza they had in prior years was cold.

The ride was enjoyable and they have quite a turnout every year.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Final push for the Challenge

The Challenge is only 3 weeks away now,  seemed so far away for such a long time and now it will be here before we know it.  I sent another round of fundraising emails out today, hopefully people can make some donations, even with all the confusing economic news swirling around these days.  It's certainly unfortunate since I think it does impact giving in general.

I noticed the Challenge events are scheduled to start at 7:30am, both the Walk/Run and the Ride.  With daylight savings time still in effect for the events (standard time does not begin until the first weekend in November), the sun won't be up when they start although it will be twilight.  Hopefully this won't much of an issue.  Since alot of my training rides have been during early morning, I'm pretty used to this, although it may be a bit different for some folks.