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Showing posts from October, 2008

Bliss before halftime...

Have you ever been at that place where the camera digitizes an image that never should have existed?

Where you want to hit "delete" while your significant other chuckles and keeps the camera just out or your reach?

Here's one of those images: Tom Terrific at The Swamp in Gainesville, during homecoming weekend when the mighty U of FL Gators decimated Kentucky.

I'm embarrassed to state that I only made it through 1 1/2 quarters of the game and called it a day. I went back over to my office, changed back into my cycling commuter clothes and headed for The Swamp. Maybe this is too logical, but it's easier to sit at a patio beer bar that stand among screaming students at the game.

My PhD dissertation focuses on involvement models for individual and team sport fans - those who participate. I'm not much of a passive sport fan - those who watch others compete and live somewhat vicariously through the activities of others.

But it's all good. As individuals, we enj…

Cycling makes the world go 'round...

I recently traveled to Ft. Worth, Texas to interview for a teaching position at Texas Christian University. Part of that visit allowed for the opportunity to attend undergrad classes, where I came upon a student who captured the vision and lifestyle of the recreational cyclist.

Megan Murphy crafted a paper entitled "Don't Judge a Man Until You've Ridden a Mile in His Cleats: Understanding the World of the Adult Cyclist."

Megan's dad pilots an Orbea, a bike I can only dream about while earning an advanced degree. Some would say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this case I would suggest Megan's words have crafted the pictures, images from the mind of cyclists who embrace the freedom it offers. Check out the following quote that she captured from a local rider:

On the trails in Ft. Worth

There were some good times on foot once I got on the ground in Ft. Worth, Texas.

Christie's friend Mike gave me a tour of the area with a great - and for me fast - six mile run.

We explored the running paths along the Trinity River. Cyclists whizzed by and we took many of the gravel path extensions that run parallel to the water.

On two occasions we made river crossings, where large rocks are strategically placed for footing.

The day was hot, the sun was out, and there was little tree cover. I could feel the warm rays pressing into my back...maybe a black running top wasn't the best choice.

But this is all part of discovering Ft. Worth. If I would decide to take a position with Texas Christian University, it has to be about the lifestyle. Running and cycling would be a large part of the equation.

So it goes. I'll get another jog in this morning before my day starts at TCU.

Wish me luck: I'm teaching global branding in an undergrad class, leading a discussion in a grad c…

Keepin' it alive...

I was scanning some old slides into digital images yesterday - Racer X magazine is going to feature one of my photos from the 1986 MXdes Nations and they needed a hi-res version.

I came upon a shot of Johnny O'Mara at the '86 event, where Team USA stomped the world in motocross competition. Johnny O' was riding a production-based 125 and flew through the field, passing 500 world champ Dave Thorpe in the process.


I sent the image to Johnny and got a quick reply. He encouraged me to keep the training going and mentioned that he was riding a cyclocross today "just for fun."

Let's get one thing straight...Johnny never raced for fun. He's one of the truest competitors I have ever known. Even at this stage of life, married and with a couple of kids, the O' Show can still hammer with the best of them.

The world of endurance sport is out there for the taking. It really doesn't matter if you were a world class MXer like Johnny, or just an average Joe like…

Light, fit or healthy...pick two

Keith Bontranger, a pioneer in bicycle parts and wheels, once stated, "light, strong or cheap...pick two."

I just love that statement and have a great time dismantling it. If you wanted a really light wheel, it may not be as strong and would be expensive to make. If you wanted it strong, it may not be as light, but maybe less expensive...well, you get it.

So, master competitor shamelessly stole from Bontrager's mantra and created "light, fit or healthy...pick two."

The photo at left is none other than Tom Terrific hogging a photo op at a beer bar in Dahlonega, Georgia just prior to the Six Gap 100 mile bike tour. I am sorta light, sorta fit and far from healthy with a bad disc in my back.

At this age, light seems easier to come by than fit, but at times I eat poorly while training hard and get fit over light. As a matter of fact, due to my back I've been doing 60 minute swim workouts three times a week, and I have a great tan and look pretty appealing with …

Everything Lance...

It was time for a six mile run on campus at the U of FL this morning. Part of the jog included a new podcast I had downloaded of cycling phenomenon Taylor Phinney.

Taylor is being groomed by none other than Lance Armstrong, who has recently decided he will return to competitive cycling in 2009. Armstrong announced that he would be supporting an Under 23 racing team, which would be built around the 18-year-old Phinney, son of former champions Davis and Connie Carpenter Phinney. The team will be directed by Armstrong's former Motorola teammate Axel Merckx.

Phinney reported that Lance:
Dropped 18 pounds in two months after deciding to return to the Tour de FranceTravels with a personal trainer every other weekBought a new house in Aspen and is training therePlans to race the 2009 tour three pounds lighter than what he weighed when he last competed in 2005There are mixed opinions about Lance's comeback, but few can doubt the guy is for real. Phi…

Building a program...just one more time

I was out running this week (something I have seldom been doing due to my bad back) and was listening to a www.competitorradio.com podcast of Mark Allen, the multi-time Ironman Triathlon winner.

Allen talks of being pretty much cooked, worn out from years of training and racing, when he tried to re-create the package one more time for a final return to Ironman.

Nothing seemed to get Mark back on track, until he reconnected with Brant Secunda, a Huichol shaman and healer.

After this 10-day meditational experience, Allen was tuned and ready. What he could not recover physically, was finally captured through spiritual and mental rejuvenation.

I had a very tough experience at the Umstead 100 mile in April. I went well beyond my personal boundaries, and took the finish at great expense to my body, my emotions and the relationship I was in at the time.

But, like Mark Allen, I would like to find the components to let me do it "just one more time." Aerobic athletes everywhere know had…

The Horse Farm 90

Here's a shot of Delia - a new rider with our cycling club training group - and me during the Horse Farm 100. It was all good until the final stop at 90 miles, when my rear wheel went south and put me out of the tour.

It was a brisk, sunny day with heavy headwinds, a tough push at times and the rolling hills made it challenging on occasion. But many of my cycling club friends were present so the day was enjoyable.

A weird moment befell me at that final aid station. Everything on my Felt F60 felt solid as I rolled up to the stop; but when I lifted my bike off the ground to leave, I heard an audible "ping" and my day was over. A spoke broke, which threw the wheel off so far from true that it wouldn't spin, even with the brake calipers set in the outward position.

So, my day ended there, but I was not angry or upset. I sat in the sun and realized how fortunate I am, that the spoke broke when it did, on flat ground at dead stop. Only a short time ago I was making trea…

Santa Fe is underway!

It was a big day for cycling in north central Florida.

The Gainesville Cycling Club hosted the Santa Fe 100 bicycle tour and about 24 miles into the course, riders made a quick pit stop at the High Springs aid station.

I volunteered this year at High Springs and learned how to set up and manage a fast-paced effort, let by out illustrious and eclectic leader Jane. I was shocked at how fast she delegated authority and within minutes I had been put in charge of the Gatorade detail. Imagine that, my first volunteer role with the club and I was already managing the most important element for rider rehydration!

Who would have believed it.

Cyclists came through happy and enjoying the cool, overcast day. Everyone was polite and appreciative of our efforts to provide support at the station.

Gainesville has been so good for me at this stage of my life. There's something about a smaller university town that I find very appealing. Good friends, good activities and a hopeful future.

What more c…

Gainesville Cycling Club weekend

When it comes to spinning the crank in Gainesville, there's no bigger weekend than the one that's upon us.

This Saturday is the annual Santa Fe 100 and on Sunday the Horse Farm 100 will be underway. Both bike tours are sponsored and promoted by the Gainesville Cycling Club. Hundreds of cyclists both volunteer and ride to make this one of north central Florida's biggest bicycle happenings.

I totally love the GCC. It's one of the first organizations I joined when moving to Gainesville in 2006 and I have seldom missed a weekend club ride. Many of my finest friends come from the club...Mike, Dennis, Thomas, Delia...there are many more but these are just a few. There's nothing finer than riding over to the Chevron on the northeast side of town and heading out with the club for a spin.

This year, I will be volunteering on Saturday at the High Springs aid station, which is fairly early in the Santa Fe ride. I have done Santa Fe the previous two years and this time want…

Meghan and Christie crush Croom

How's this for a couple of very hottied-up trail runners?

Meghan Brennen (left) and Christie Staudhammer put the hurt on the field at this year's Croom 16-mile "fun run" that is part of the Croom 50K weekend.

The Croom web site tells us that this race takes place within the Withlacoochee State Forest, which was named one of the "10 Coolest Places in North America" by the World Wildlife Fund.

I ran a PR at Croom in 2006 (4:57) then returned with Christie in 2007, when I ran a slow 50K and she completed the 16-miler.

Now, in 2008, this female duo attacked the course like rabid animals. It was the furthest Meghan had ever run and Christie won her age group.

Master Competitor gives a big shout-out to both these runners. I have been training and racing with Christie for the past couple of years, and she's a partner who knows how to overcome injuries and keep her gaze over the horizon. Meghan worked hard to reach her goal a…

Retro riding

Hey, here's an oldie but goodie...I found this in my pictures file, but it was hidden and had to be converted to a JPEG. So now it's here for you in all it's glory.

This is Tommy master competitor, at the Fall N' Leaf tour near Cleveland in October 2003. Note the retro jersey (that I still own and some love to hate) and a nice shot of my Giant TCR-1.

A quick note on the Giant: I had a Scott road bike (the red rocket shown) and the frame broke at the headset. Scott gave me a partial refund, and of course I was hooked up with a marketing director at Giant, who sold me the TCR-1 frameset. I had Tri-Tech in Columbus, Ohio, take all the Campagnolo components off the Scott and build them onto the Giant. That was a nice ride over the years.

The Fall N' Leaf was run by a friendly group of club riders. The course was challenging for that area, and the food stops were great.

What's so neat about the bicycling community is the people you meet and the places you go. It…

The lack of speed...and no real need

No, the photo at left has nothing to do with my current mountain bike riding style. And yes, I thought it was cute to make a rhyme in my heading.

I have been using my friend Jeff's Trek Fuel mountain bike. It does all I could expect and more...the full suspension soaks up every bump, and even a log on the trail can be traversed with ease. Mountain biking was such a big part of my life when the trend first hit in the mid 1980's...I was hooked up with Scott USA at the time and ordered a series of mountain bikes to play on. Anyone remember elliptical chain rings?

This past Sunday, I took the magnificent Trek to Lake Wauberg, the U of FL's private property where students can romp and play. It was published that mountain bike trails existed there, so after church I headed out for my own fantasy adventure.

There really weren't many trails, just a few hundred yards of twisty, rather technical runs. I started to make my way through and then realized something I had to addr…

The rush is over

I wanted to add an image for today, but there isn't anything that pops into mind.

All of the excitement from Six Gap is over. I'm not racing the Croom 50K this Saturday due to problems with my back. So, the endurance sport void has once again reared its ugly head.

I really do like to train each and every day. But without some sort of event looming up ahead, there is a racer's depression that follows a big effort at a big race.

But what is different at this stage is that I am learning to balance the elements of my life. This is an exciting time for me. It's the final year of my PhD program, my dissertation is well underway (more about that in another blog entry) and it's time to apply for teaching positions.

Texas Christian in Ft. Worth is flying me in to interview, so the potential to move to another state is possible. The Ft. Worth cycling club has 800 members and I have already reached out to the club's ride director. We had a long conversation this week. I must …

Inherent risk

There's sad news to report. Daniella Izquierdo, a rider from Miami who was seriously injured at the Six Gap cycling tour, died yesterday. Daniella had been in a coma since the crash and despite hopeful indications, her brain activity stopped.

Daniella crashed about 10 minutes behind me, on the treacherous Hogpen descent. I found myself at the brink of panic making that downhill while others zipped by in aero positions.

Daniella was found face down on the shoulder of the road. A trauma surgeon riding the event was one of the first on the scene and immediately called for an air evacuation. Despite prompt efforts by ride organizers and emergency personnel, Daniella didn't make the journey back.

This seems the appropriate time to focus on inherent risk in endurance sport activity. We train, we ride, we race...and if we're in a fit state of being, may feel infallible.

Years ago, my brother ended up in the hospital after collapsing at the FANS 24-hour run in Minneapolis. See…

Hooked on the brand...Nathan Sports

Have you ever considered how committed you are to specific product brands?

Does the grocery store's generic brand do it for you, or does it have to be Cheerios?

I am not one to adhere to brands, but in some instances I am compelled to search for "sign value" and an affiliation with the quality and attributes of a brand.

I'm a Honda consumer. Motorcycles and cars. They work well, are reliable and offer top performance. I may be a Honda owner for the rest of my life.

Of course, I love Brooks running shoes and apparel. They make the best products and I am proud to promote the Brooks brand in my endurance endeavors.

The other area I am brand conscious is hydration packs. I was initially an Ultimate Direction consumer, and at one point went to their offices in northern California to have a meeting about a new product idea (an idea that was later implemented by Camelback). Then, I got into Go-Lite packs, as I read one of the company founders did a 400 mile self-contained …

I'm a retro cyclist

I won't lead anyone to believe I rode Six Gap in the apparel represented to the right, but it wasn't that far off the mark.

Photo credit to James Murphy for the picture at right - which is worth a thousand words

As a matter of fact, I seem to be a dork when it comes to cycling apparel.

There's an old Nike jersey that I still wear. It screams at you, with retro swirls on white. Some who know me well have tried to hide that jersey, but I dig through the depths of my dresser and bring it back from the dead.

For Six Gap, I wore a rather tattered lime jersey, which I purchased from Performance Bicycle for about $12 on a blow-out sale over five years prior.

There's something about looking retro that is safe. It states that you are an old-timer, out of touch and not current with the trends.

It also states that I don't have anything to prove and that once on the bike, a competitive performance is not expected.

That's where I like to turn the tables. Tommy master competito…