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.



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…..


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?


The 14 mph Ride


The 14 mph Ride from James on Vimeo.

This is a video of an old ride I called The 14 mph Ride. It was a great ride with some good friends and we had a blast. We even had someone who just latched on for the fun. My Garmin said we had a 14 mph average pace. Now, if you judge a ride’s fun factor by the speed this may seem like a boring ride. But is the fun factor directly proportional to your speed? The faster you go the more fun it is?

Click on Strava to see the map.

Remember the first time you rode a bike? You may not have gone over 10 mph but you felt like you were flying! It was effortless compared to walking. It was freedom! Admit it, you were hooked after that. Now, you’re training, eating right, getting the right gear – and maybe even shooting for Strava Segments. Either way you’re probably either looking for a top speed or a high average. Or maybe not either one. Maybe the speed you find fun is the speed at which you can talk to friends while you do something good for your heart. To each, his own, right?

Everyone has a different idea of what speed is fun. Whether it’s a pace of  15 mph or 20, or even 30, it doesn’t matter. Your top speed can be 25 or 50, again it doesn’t matter. It’s all about feeling like you did when you first got a bike. That feeling that you were flying!

So what fires you up? Speed? Distance? Climbing? I don’t know if speed is the most important for you or not but we all know speed is fun.  If you have the right speed, the right distance and the right amount of climbing you’re going to have fun. In the right ratio they can even make for the perfect ride. Add in great weather and good friends and you get another day in paradise.


Saturday Night Home Movies


Lord of the (Chain) Rings Part II from James on Vimeo.

Ok, I’ve played enough with this thing already. I need to post some bike videos that have bikes! I have tons of video of rides here in San Antonio with some great friends that I’m finally going to post.

Strava map.

In fact that was the whole purpose of this blog. I needed some place to collect them all. They’re nothing special, that’s why I call them Home Movies. You know, the kind your family forces you to watch when you would really rather be somewhere else. There’s no exotic scenic views, no death defying jumps, no bloody crashes. It’s really just plain old home movies. It’s just a camera taking pictures on the move without me having to do much. Sounds easy, right?

Well there’s a lot more work involved than I thought. Maybe not as much as with still pictures. Those require an eye for a good shot. I have many friends that take great pictures but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. There’s an art to it that I just don’t have so this will have to do.

I hope you see yourself in there somewhere. If not, and you were on that ride, just be patient. I’ll post one eventually. Like I’ve said before, it may take me a while and you may not get to see it but your great grand kids are going to love it.


Skateboard Madness



Skateboard Madness from James on Vimeo.

I was out doing a solo ride one day and happened to have my camera with me. It’s mounted on the seat post and aimed back. It was a climbing workout so when you go up you have to come down. I was half way down one of the longer climbs when I noticed something in my rear view mirror. (Yes, I have a rear view mirror damn it. You can make fun of me later.) Anyway, I saw something in front of the car behind me and when i looked further I noticed it was someone on a skateboard!

Strava map.

If you think going 35 mph is fast on a bike, imagine what it feels like on the skateboard. And we have brakes. Watch how he stops at the end. I asked him how fast he’s gone on that thing. Mid 30s in San Antonio and in the 40s in Austin. Pure madness as far as I’m concerned. I does seem fun though, doesn’t it?