The Pain Train


^ The Pain Train from James . Part two here.

Winter training in San Antonio Texas can be harsh. The terrible weather- dry, partly cloudy and in the 70s – oh my, how terrible! All joking aside, it was a perfect day for a bike ride. However, what started out as a Valentine’s Day ride the weekend before the 14th,  should have been called Valentine’s Day Massacre instead. It started out easy but you know how it is. Before you know it….

Strava map. Related video Hot Rod Syndrome.

The route is the Three Counties ride from the Cyclones on the south side of San Antonio. It’s mostly flat with easy rollers to play on. Traffic was light and the roads are in great shape for the most part. Since it’s mostly flat, it’s perfect for tempo work, which is what we did after we got out of the park.

That weekend, the park was sponsoring a run so many of the roads were blocked off. We had to move our start and the first five miles were slow going. It was actually good since it led to a good warm up and some nice socializing. After that, however, it kept ramping up to the end. Fun stuff.

One other thing about the video is that I got to play with picture-in-picture in the editor for the first time. A message popped up asking if I wanted to use it, I said yes, and there you have it! Learned something new for the day.

This is the first video from the ride. I’m working on two others from this footage. When you get to see them, you’ll see why we were zombies at the end. Maybe I should have called it The Walking Dead….


Mystery Man


^Mystery Man from James on Vimeo.

When I ride, I go with different groups here in town. Sometimes just with friends and some just by myself. They’re all fun in their own way. However, most of the video I take is in the group rides. Obviously, having a cyclist in the video makes it much more interesting. When I do video on solo rides it’s usually because I want to show someone a certain section or maybe a Strava segment that I like. Maybe even a nice climbing section. That way, people can see what the route is like and what kind of workout to expect.

Strava map.

The whole purpose of the video however, is so that I can watch them later, in my old age (about a month from now) and see my friends. It’s funny, but when I go back and watch them I see so many things I was not aware of. I see people that jumped in, like in this video, and join us for part of the ride. He just jumped in, hammered along with us, and then went on to complete his own workout.

One of the segments in the video is called Tailwind. We’re at about mile 22 of 45 with 2200 feet of climbing, most of it on easy rollers. The segment itself is basically flat and about three miles long depending on which one you like. Look closely and you’ll see that this section has three in the same area that just happen to start and end at different points. Since anyone can set up segments this can and does happen. Just pick the one you like. Anyway, I don’t set out to look for PRs but it sure feels good to look back and see why it was so much fun. In this case, I set PRs on two of them. I guess I should pick one of those to remember.

Anyway, I don’t know everyone in the video and I do not know who the mystery man was but if you recognize him or one of the others let them know they were caught on video with the hammer down!


Fast and Curious Part I


^Fast and Curious Part I from James on Vimeo.

Bullis County Park is one of the places we like to start our rides. It’s a nice park and has restrooms, plenty of parking and avoids most of the heavy traffic. Being at the edge of the hill country lets you choose the amount of climbing you want to do. If you don’t need any, there are plenty of flat areas with shallow rollers for you to enjoy. This video is of one of my favorite flat segments. It’s called Tempo Time. You can go to the map and see the route. Scroll down to the segments and you  can see the leader board for that segment. There are several options for looking at it, choose your friends, your club or even overall.

Strava map.

On this particular day we had a fast group. Not everyone “opened it up” on this segment since it was early in the ride and we still had the majority of the climbing to do. Still, about half the group seemed in the mood for some tempo.

Or maybe they weren’t. Maybe I was just – oblivious.



Tovar Torture Test


^Tovar Torture Test from James on Vimeo.

This is a video of  a great mountain bike ride I had at Mac. It was just two of us so it was easy to adjust to each others pace and we managed 25 miles.  We did tempo with just a few short stops  and ended the ride with some hill intervals.

We did come up on some riders out there. They’re in the video but I don’t know them. They were doing their own pace so we joined them for a few minutes and then went on our way.

Strava map.

Everyone looks for something different from cycling. Health, fitness, maybe recreation. We were looking for three things and we found them. Oxygen, adrenaline and endorphins.


Don’t Look Up


^Don’t Look Up from James on Vimeo.

I was invited by my friend to do a little hill workout starting  in Lost Maples and heading out to Leakey. It took us over four nice climbs, two of which we went back and did again just for good measure. They’re only about 1 mile long but all four make it into double digit grade. The video below is only for half a mile of the first climb but it’s enough to show you that the climbs are nice.

Strava map.

When we finished the four climbs my friend asked me if I wanted to do the first one again. Hell, why not? So up we went. When we got to the top he asked if I wanted to go down the other side and come back up. I thought about it. This dare would be more of a commitment since I had to come back up and not just turn around and go back down if I had enough. I thought about it. Hell, why not?! You only live once!

When we went down to the bottom to start our climb was when I realized that this could be the end of “You only live once “. The down hills were actually the hard part. We had a very strong, gusting side wind that tended to blow us out into the road or off of the road depending on the direction we were going. And even without pedaling you could easily hit upper 40s. My friend hit 46 mph. I did not trust myself on this day due to the side winds and stayed in the mid 30s. Maybe next time, wind permitting, I’ll try upper 40s.

Next time we’ll go from Lost Maples to Camp Wood. That will be 80 miles, 5,700 feet with 12 climbs of 1 mile all hitting double digits. As long as we don’t look up,  that should be really nice…..




^ Lungs from James on Vimeo.

If you’re a cyclist you probably realize you’re a heart/lung machine. Runners and swimmers are too. And of course, there are those crazy people that do all three sports who are too, maybe more so.  I’ve got to say, it is so much fun to build and  drive these machines.

I see it like this- we are the engine. We work on it and build it to perform in different ways just like you would a car engine and just like a car, we have strengths and weaknesses and other design limitations. Some are due to genetics and others to desire. Some, I’m sure, are due to discipline.

The video below is of me and a friend driving our machines at the end of our 20 miler at MacAllister park. It’s on a fun Strava segment called Lungs. The link below will take you to the map of the ride.

Strava map.

This was a fun day. The engine was running good. It’s a little old and has lots of miles on it, some of them pretty hard, but we won’t get into that. I may have been at my skill limit but it was still enough to maintain a fun pace.  I went as fast as I wanted, or as fast as my skill would allow, without having to worry about getting a ticket. Or getting my car impounded! Or having my insurance rates sky rocket! Sorry, getting off subject here. (deep breath, serenity now, serenity now)

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say with all this ruminating is that I think fitness is fun. It’s not just for health reasons. Sure it’s good for you, but all things considered, doesn’t it all end up being about the fun you’re having? Isn’t it the best hot rod of all?


Sharing a Forty


^Sharing a Forty from James on Vimeo.

My friend Jack and I sometimes lead rides out in the Texas hill country. There are plenty of great roads around San Antonio to use for training and getting ready for all of the organized group rides that we have here.  Recently, many of our friends were getting ready to ride the Tour de Gruene so we decided to have a ride on a section that had some unknown climbs. We don’t have any mountains here so we knew they were all rollers, but if people were training in the flats the hills could come as a hard surprise. Especially for those doing the longer rides. The short video below shows just one of the many reasons to go on a ride with plenty of climbing.

Strava map.

Yes sir, those down hills can be fun. Maybe not as fun as the climbing, but still fun. We had quite a few of those on the ride. Most of them were easy to enjoy because the road and the view were good, making you feel more comfortable. I think on this ride I hit 40 at least three times. It’s too bad I can’t have a camera everywhere because I know I wasn’t the only one enjoying the speed rush. For those that had the strength and gearing, I’m sure 50 was there for them.

At the end Bill, Joe and I added a few hill repeats just for the fun it. Maybe next time we can do the whole route. After all, it’s almost time for the Tour de Grune again.


Chasing Youth


Chasing Youth from James on Vimeo.

When you get to be my age you ride with a lot of people that are younger. It helps your fitness because of their energy level.  But when they’re young AND fit? Well then, it’s going to hurt. This was a great 50 miler out around Smithson Valley and yes, it hurt.

Strava map.

The video is of a segment on Upper Smithson Valley Road. We had just finished a nice long steady climb and were now faced with the unenviable task of going down hill- fast. It wasn’t very steep but it was enough. Poor us. But somebody has to do it so we threw ourselves into the task. It did not disappoint.

We all took turns pulling but weren’t organized. It was more of a free for all. You know, more of a “let’s play with the gas pedal on this thing” type of ride. Everyone played, everyone had fun and everyone tried to remember what climbs were left in the ride. After all, we were only half way into the ride. But what the hell? It’s not like we haven’t blown up before. We all just put it on the credit card- and paid it back in the last five miles. Or maybe it was the last ten miles….


Attacked by Hornets


^Attacked by Hornets from James on Vimeo.

This video is of one of the rides Jack and I lead out in Bulverde. It was 50 miles with 2,300 ft. of climbing. There are no mountains here so any climbing that you do has to be out in the Texas hill country. And if you want to do a lot of climbing you have to plan very carefully in order to do as many of the small hills as possible. The link below will show you the map of the ride. The segment in the video is Last Mile to Bullis.

Strava map.

I like this segment. You do a nice steady tempo for a flat half mile then maintain what you can for the second half that goes up hill. Then you’re at the park for refueling for the next stage. It’s a fun ride with good climbing at the end.

This day was beautiful. It was 82 degrees and sunny. We all played hard on the first 20 but I still wanted to open it up a little on this segment. I started at the back so I could get this group in the video as I passed them. The second group had not made the turn onto this segment yet.

As I passed everyone I thought about how much fun I have on these segments. Everyone has their own favorite and they’re spread throughout the route. As I passed people most were lost in their own thoughts. Most were saving their energy for the climbs that were coming up. But some people are like hornets. When you pass them they wake up. Some of them come after you ready to sting!

And that’s what makes it fun. I don’t always know what’s going on behind me when I ride, so it’s cool when I get to see it on the video. What I see is people having fun. People putting the hammer down to make a hella catch! And I wonder, do the people in front of me know how much fun I had trying to catch them?


Madrone-With a Rock or Two


^Madrone- With a Rock or Two from James on Vimeo.

As I’ve said before, we have some great places to ride in San Antonio. Lately I’ve been riding with the Trail Ninjas and they took me to the Madrone trail in Canyon Lake. I’ve never ridden there mainly because everyone said it was a hard trail. Come to find out, it was. But there was plenty that I could ride.

Strava map.

My tour guides knew the trail well and sized me up accurately enough. They know you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but they could warn me of what was coming up and give me some pointers. After all, I’m 441 years old in dog years. Too old to learn anything new but still with enough skills left to enjoy the trails. Plus I could watch them and enjoy some of it vicariously. It turned out to be a blast!

If you could only use one word to describe the trail it would be “rocky”. If you could use two, it would be “rocky as hell”. Ok, that’s three words but you get the picture. It also has plenty of short climbs. We got about 550 ft in 8 miles. Not bad for the area.

I’ve got a couple of hours of video to go through so I’ll show some more of the trail soon. You can see the map of the ride with stats on Strava and a short video with the link above. I’ll definitely be going back. I think there might be a rocky section we missed.

More Madrone- Oh Fudge