Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leader Bikes

It looks like I've gotten a bunch of traffic for my posting earlier this year about my experience with Leader Bikes.  I kind of went off on them for what I consider to be bad customer service.  Looking back, I still feel that way, but their frames seem ok.  Yeah, I went with the cheapo low-end aluminum frame, but it serves it's purpose.  After riding about 12-13 hundred miles on it, I have no complaints.  It is a bit heavy, but I was told that it was before I got it.  It doesn't transmit as much road noise as my previous frame.  And the area that I had problems with on my previous frame, the rear drop outs, are really beefed up.  I don't expect the same issues.  I would recommend that you take it to your local bike shop to get it put together.  Both frames have had issues with paint in the bottom bracket shell and in the head tube.  Both had to be raced out a bit to accommodate the bottom bracket cups and headset, respectively.  I might get out the camera and take some pics to do a more thorough update on the frame, but it seems to be doing ok.  I can't say anything about their carbon stuff as I've never worked with any of their carbon stuff.  In fact, I don't think I've ever ridden an all-carbon bike, nor will I at my weight.  Of course, if Leader wants to fund something like that, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What a Birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday and I think I had a blast. Well, maybe I should say I had a memorable birthday. It actually started on Sunday night. I knew that I had a big day at work on Monday so I wanted to go to bed early. Instead, we stayed up in bed watching on my laptop. So around midnight, just as the last scene of Eureka is playing out, the dog downstairs starts barking. We keep her in a kennel at night. I walked downstairs to let her outside and decided to sit down in front of my computer downstairs and investigate the internet. Bad idea. Two and a half hours later, after I had delved into all sorts of news, sports, olympics, and theology, I let the dog in and went upstairs. But for some reason I couldn't sleep. Three am, no sleep. Three thirty, still no sleep. Four am, no sleep. I think I drifted off sometime after that and I got up at 7 ish.
So I get to work and start ingesting coffee. I missed breakfast. And I almost missed lunch with the stuff that had to be done RIGHT NOW! I didn't end up eating enough and by 4 pm, I had that "I've had too much sugar, too much caffeine, not enough real food, not enough sleep" feeling. It's a deep-down tummy ache coupled with a fuzzy head feeling. I haven't felt it since college. Yuck. I bumped off work a half-hour early b/c I knew that Monday night I had a Jr Bike team meeting and I didn't want to be woozy. I got home and went straight to bed. Kim wasn't there and when I asked where she was, Joseph responded with "She's gone to get... she's just gone to go do something." I recognize last second b-day shopping when I see it.
I got in a good hour or so of nap before I realized that the meeting would be starting in an hour and getting six kids there takes time and effort. I came out to see my wife taping HAPPY BIRTHDAY down the banister of the stairs. She'd only gotten as far as HAPPY BIRT. She shushed me back into my room for another 5 minutes before inviting me to come downstairs. The kids all hid (really poorly I might add) behind furniture and shouted "surprise!" On the wall, I finally notice, is a couple of clothes hangers with wrapping paper wrapped over my gift. Knowing that the only place in the world that we can afford gifts is on the Dillard's Card, I'm fairly certain that it's a couple of shirts. To my real surprise, it's a couple of Madden games for the GameCube, '06 and '07. Sweet. I've got '04, these sound cool.
Then off to the meeting. At the meeting, I discover that I am the only person that was nominated for Pres, so I'm in charge by default. Again. Then, after a lot of good discussion (too much, I only got one trip through the pizza buffet :-( ), Audrey trips over a chair leg and hits the floor with her skull. No bleeding, but then a friend and nursing student notices that one of her pupils is larger than the other. Aud also wasn't reacting in a typical fashion. She didn't even push away the ice pack. So I got to spend the remainder of my evening in the ER watching the Olympics with my other kids. Actually, for an ER visit, we might have had the best time ever. There was NOBODY else there when we arrived, so she got right in basically. The did an MRI and she's fine. There was a minimum of crying babies. Folks started to arrive as we were waiting and one person noted that she was the oldest of 12 and the her family looked like ours did when they would show up to the ER periodically. I take that as a high compliment.
All in all, we got home around 11 and I was asleep by 12. A long day, a memorable day. But I can't say if it was a good or bad day. Maybe it's best seen as something to survive, not to judge.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm now the parent of two, count 'em, two state champions

The last weekend of July was the Age-Based State Championship Crit. Joseph did ok, Emily got out there and worked hard. She finished last, but because she was the only 10-12 yr. old girl who pinned on a number, she's the State Champion. She's bashful about it, but that's her third race to win while coming in dead last. And those are the only races so far this year that have included a 10-14 girls competition, ok, until the TT this last weekend. She's done fine. It's hard for her to really feel like she's competing when there's no competition though. Next year, her younger sister will be turning 10, meaning that she will have that real competition. Allison is a skinny little thing (her 7 year old brother is only four lbs lighter) and has a power to weight ration out of this world. She could dominate if she has the determination. Emily really amazes me in that she can be very intense. A Sunday School teacher termed it "passionate." I don't think cycling is yet her passion (she doesn't practice much) because she has to do it on her own (nobody else there her age or gender). But if she gets going, zowie, I think she'll go whole hog. The competition thing from her younger sister might do the trick.
The race was on the north side of Denton. Nice organization. I sat down with the officials and went over the results for a good 20 to 30 minutes before we had something that I think all of the parents were OK with. Scoring a Jr. crit is probably one of the hardest things to do in cycling, something I think I've blogged about before. Very hot out there, over 100 for the later races. Joseph got 8th I think. About right for him, he felt OK out there. Special thanks to Christian Williams for following Emily on her first lap. At the last second, Joseph points out that he left his water in the car. I told Em to give him one of her two bottles, so she unclips both feet and pulls out a bottle for him. Meanwhile, another racer (hopefully a teammate) gives him a bottle and the official blows his whistle, starting the race. Emily has to put the bottle back in her cage and clip back in. Christian (the promoter) is there on his bike and rides next to her the whole first lap, giving her a little push to start and then watching over her to make sure she's ready. Props to you for being a thoroughly guy.
This past weekend was the State Time Trials down near Houston. We took seven kids from TBI plus one stowaway from another team. Got there late Friday night to my sister's house. They just had their fourth kid (their kids are 13, 3, 18 mo., and 5 weeks) and they let us crash on their floor. Thanks Leah and Chris. You guys rock. We got the kids late there on Sat AM. I parked at the old registration location instead of the new. I misjudged how long it would take us to get out of the car and get ready, and I also misjudged how many parking spaces would be available at the start/finish two miles away, so the kids all started their TT's late. Sorry guys, my bad. I think we might have had a medal in the 10-14 if we had been there earlier or if I had parked at the s/f. All the 10-14 guys were at least a minute or two behind. One of the Jr. Open guys had a nice TT, the other had a mechanical. All in all, we were hacked. We came back to my sisters, showered, and took off for pizza. Then we went to Ganter Mtn, a gigantic outdoorsy-type store. If you've ever been to Bass Pro or Cabela's, you know the kind of store I'm talking about. The guys decide to play tag there for about 45 minutes, hiding in amongst the camo gear or the fishing tackle. Amazing. We just let them have fun. We got up the next AM even earlier and parked before the registration table was set up. Those guys were ready to start on time. The older (Jr. open) team had a mixup though. Probably my mistake. The officials were determined to have four persons start the race, even though we only had three teammates there. We scrounged around and asked Avery Visser, a triathlete from Austin if she would join the team. All she had to do was roll across the start line, she didn't have to try to finish. She might have toasted some of those guys, from what I hear she's pretty good. I got her registered on the team and she was going to the start line when the Jr. 10-14 guys finished and one of them rolled across the line with the Jr. Open team. I still pitched it to the promoter to include her in the final results and I think they saved a State Championship medal for her.
In the end, both of our teams won their respective divisions and the all came home with State Championship medals. Some of them bought State Champ jerseys there (individual TT winners get them for free, and only winners can get them). I have a mind to make some phone calls to see if I can get both of them some jerseys.