Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Team Fatty Rocks the Austin LiveStrong Challenge - Sunday

Note from Steve: This is part 3 of the LiveStrong Weekend series, Friday's events (Part 1) can be found here, Saturday's events (Part 2) can be found here. The entire inventory of pictures is here.

Visit www.fatcyclist.com for all things Fatty. Paul's super writeup about the LiveStrong weekend is hereAlso, read Pam & Tracy's experiences in the Run/Walk and Ride, and then looking back.

~82.5 miles now
Sunday brought on the main event for Team Fatty, the Challenge Ride.  As usual, it took place in the Texas Hill County, with the start/finish in Dripping Springs.  It's about 25 miles WSW of Austin, and with 1000s of people headed that way, the road gets a little busy. Well, a lot busy. And you want to be on time, or early, or beyond early. Yes, you have to wake up at some ridiculous hour.  And then drive an hour or so. And then park somewhere not at the event. I chose my "non official but close enough and always has space" location (which shall remain secret). 

I left the bike in commute mode, with rack and fenders, lights (3 forward and 2 back) and my Acorn Roll bag. They may add a pound or two or so, I don't think it really makes any difference, other than to the people that think it makes a difference. Maybe on steep hills. I think the reflective sidewalls are awesome.

Torn up jersey
After arriving at the venue, I found the Team Fatty tent (stocked by Tim the prior day). Several other team members were already present, prepping for the ride. I brought my semi-destroyed Fatty jersey from my bad crash last year (the front side is held together with 10 safety pins), to place at the tent to help any stray Team Fatty members.

Here's a quick look around. Really, broke a cleat?

Here's the crew just before staging. A fine looking bunch, at least that's what they told me to say, something about headlocks and punches to the throat if I didn't.
Jeremy, Tim, Steve, Sasha, Pam, Tracy
Unknown Fatty

During staging I spied this guy, an unknown Fatty, anyone hazard a guess on the vintage of that jersey? Looks to be a classic.

That's fog in the distance
Foggy, hard to tell though
The ride started in the early morning sun, with a pleasant temperature in the upper 60s. And then, out of nowhere, fog, lots of fog. It's not been foggy for 6 months. With the fog and no climbing for several miles, it was cold. Well, maybe not cold, but cool, well maybe something between cool and cold. Not a huge deal, but you're dressed for warm to hot temperatures, so a bit unpleasant. Probably except for riders from Alaska. Fellow riders were asking "Where's a hill, I want to climb and warm up". That's not something riders normally want. Unless they have Schleck or Contador in their name.

The ride was uneventful, working my way through other riders. The one exception is the occasional cattle guards across the road.  Skinny road bike tires don't really absorb any of the bumps.  More than a few people lost water bottles, CO2 cartridges, and at least one frame pump!

I generally skip the first couple rest stops since it tends to be overcrowded. My first stop was at a themed stop, I'll hazard a guess that Dell volunteers worked it. There was even a small pool table just to the left. I did not see any leather clad riders though (that's a really good thing!).

Nice smooth road
Once past Wimberly, the road turns to the west toward Blanco, and from past Challenges, I knew the road would be miles and miles of rougher than usual chipseal. To my surprise and delight, the bulk of the road was resurfaced with nice, new asphalt. Given how poor the roads can be, this was greatly appreciated. During the trip toward Blanco, I has a duel with 'Mr. Power Meter Hub', well, not much of a duel, I passed him on an uphill, he passed me on a downhill, then I again passed him on an uphill, and that was that. Me and my "slow "commuter setup rocked Mr. PMH !

Just past Blanco is the rest stop hosted by the Texas 4000 crew, a great group of kids who ride from Austin to Anchorage (yea, Alaska!) each summer to raise funds to fight cancer. It's actually closer to 4,500 miles, quite a feat.

Texas 4000 crew

They really have a good time!

This rest stop is the westernmost extent of the ride, turning back to the east for the long ride back  It's mostly rollers with occasional significant hills. The riders tend to be spaced out widely so it's not surprising to be alone or almost alone on the road. I passed that guy going up that hill.

The route was modified this year to not travel on US 290, thus the initial part of route was retraced in the opposite direction toward the end of the ride. Remember I mentioned how chilly it was since it was mostly downhill past the start? Now, of course, it was all uphill. It did not seem to be quite as steep heading back to the Finish though. Phew! However, it also meant passing over all the cattle guards again. Bumpy! The semi-official count was 22. That's 22 too many.

Not too much further and I reached the Finish, where I relaxed and watched for other Fatties to arrive. Oh, and I got a shoutout from the announcers as I arrived! I'm semi-famous! Or so I think. The Fatty tent was adjacent to the S/F line, thus it was easy to check if someone snuck past me.  Once enough of us were back, we went over to the food and beer tents to get a well deserved drink and lunch, thus year, chicken & beef tacos, chips, and pico.

I had my best effort yet, here's the GPS trace of the route. I was out ahead of the rest of the Fatty crew. I tend to have just one speed, sometimes a good thing, sometimes bad.

And with that, another long and tiring, but eminently satisfying LiveStrong Weekend came to a close. Now, just a few more weeks until 2012 registration opens. Can't wait!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Team Fatty Rocks the Austin LiveStrong Challenge - Saturday

Note from Steve: This is part 2 of the LiveStrong Weekend series, Friday's events (Part 1) can be found hereSunday's events can be found here. The entire inventory of pictures is here.

Visit www.fatcyclist.com for all things Fatty. Paul's super writeup about the LiveStrong weekend is hereAlso, read Pam & Tracy's experiences in the Run/Walk and Ride, and then looking back.

Saturday's main events were the Run/Walk in the morning and the Dinner in the evening. I (we, the team, in pieces) stopped by MJs and the LiveStrong Village several times for shopping, listening, autographing, and general milling about.

The Run/Walk

The Run/Walk started downtown, on the south end of the 1st Street Bridge, the route winding through a little bit of South Austin. I did not participate since I enjoy watching other people run, not running myself. Really, does anyone actually enjoy running...or do they just say that? I attend to cheer on and support all the participants, they deserve all the support we can give.

The weekend had extremely pleasant weather so I was treated to nice sunrise. I had parked a ways away, Austin had just recently changed their parking rules for Saturdays (boo!). Fairly inconvenient, I must say. Still, with such nice weather, a little extra walking was not an issue.

Team Fatty Rocks the Austin LiveStrong Challenge - Friday

Note from Steve: This is part 1 of the LiveStong Weekend series, posts for Saturday (the Run/Walk) and Sunday (the Ride) are available. The entire inventory of pictures is here.

Visit www.fatcyclist.com for all things Fatty. Paul's super writeup about the LiveStrong weekend is here. Also, read Pam & Tracy's experiences in the Run/Walk and Ride, and then looking back.

Heavyweight Horsepower

Captain Steve
Sasha, AK Chick
Let me introduce the team members.

Tracy & Pam


Paul, the guest megablogger

A small contingent of dedicated Team Fatty members participated in the Austin LiveStrong Challenge.  While a small team, we did the greater Team Fatty good, placing 8th in the team total fundraising!

Getting my Packet

I headed downtown Friday to get my packet at Mellow Johnny's. For those unfamiliar with Austin, it sits astride the Colorado River (not The other Colorado River). Texas is in the middle of a year long drought, however down by the river, it's not so apparent. Out in the Hill Country during the ride, it's more obvious, with many trees dying. The extremely long, hot summer has broken, no appreciable rain yet, but noticeably cooler - for those of us not from Alaska...

After arriving at MJs, I picked up my ride packet, and saw that Levi Leipheimer was signing autographs. I was apprehensive given the penchant Levi has about headlocks and punches to the throat. I introduced myself as the Team Fatty Captain for Austin, expecting that to prompt an immediate attack. After all, look what he does to Fatty!
Safe from a punch, or so I thought

I was able to tell Levi in the nick of time that I was NOT Elden (since I'm much better looking, have hair, etc), and just as quickly Levi no longer had the urge to go for the throat (or so I thought). What I didn't know was, that later in the evening, one of Levi's henchman (and a fairly famous one at that) would do his dirty work (more on this later).

Friday Night Dinner

Heading to the undisclosed location
Sasha qualified for the "Ride for the Roses" incentives since she raised more than $10,000. One of the benefits was a smaller Friday night dinner at a mysterious  "undisclosed location". She could invite a guest and graciously invited me (Thanks Sasha!). The LiveStrong staff kept it a secret until we were on our way. We loaded onto buses and during the trip they announced we'd be going to a private residence in west Austin. I thought "Cool, we're going to Sandra Bullock's house". However, I was wrong, instead, we were delivered to Lance Armstrong's house. Yea, that Lance Armstrong. Later in the evening Lance explained he wanted to show his appreciation and this was a nice and, for me, an unexpected way, to show that. But now that I know where he lives, I wonder how often I can get him on the bike -- being retied and all? Or better yet, make him a new Team Fatty member, it could happen...

The reception was in the lower back yard, with dinner tables set up in the upper back yard. As you may have guessed, it's a big back yard. They were serving a curious concoction of grapefruit juice and whiskey, along with beer and wine. I had to sample several glasses worth of the whiskey drink to make sure of quality and consistency, and I honestly couldn't decide whether I really liked it or not. So the extra samples were needed for proper research. You're believing this? Well ok then...

Sasha & Chris
While waiting for dinner to start, we saw several of the Team RadioShack members, including Chris Horner. Since Chris is Sasha's favorite rider, we went over and introduced ourselves and proceeded to have a long, 40 minute or so, conversation. He was very gracious. He relayed the TDF experience with the awful crash, concussion, fractured nose, and the resultant loss of memory. He still has about a day and a half gap in his memory, remembering nothing of the day he crashed.

David Blaine
At this point we noticed alot of people had disappeared, they were eating, and had been for a while.  We headed up to the buffet line, the main dish being pork enchiladas. I don't know exactly how they cooked it, but the cornbread was excellent, I think I could have eaten nothing but that (mmm cornbread). We sat on the far side of the yard from the buffet, all the close seats had been taken. That location worked out well as it was pretty close to the 'stage' where awards where given post dinner. The Gypsy Queens were the music entertainment for the evening and wandered through the dining area playing music, very cool. David Blaine was also present, mostly doing card tricks that no one could figure out.

The emcee for the evening was Ethan Suplee, most notably starring in 'My Name is Earl'. He's become an avid cyclist and as many of us have discovered, is the path to fitness. Thus far, he's lost 100 pounds or so. He introduced Lance, who gave a short talk, and then between them, they presented awards to a variety of folks.

Ethan delivering a punch to the throat
Remember I mentioned Levi's henchman? Little did I realize it would be the emcee! Here's proof, that punch to the throat is just about to land! Ouch! He especially wanted to knock that silly smile off my face.

Who knew?!?