Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ride for Eric

Paint Rock resident Matt Garcia will be doing a 100 mile bicycle ride next Thursday (August 21) to help raise funds for a Ballinger family that needs our help.

His route will take him through a lot of the rural countryside east of San Angelo in areas near Paint Rock, Eden, Ballinger & San Angelo.

He'll be doing this ride solo and self supported, which means he'll be on the bike for six or more hours in the West Texas heat carrying supplies such as water, food and bike repair essentials.

In addition to the heat, Garcia will face rough chip-sealed roads, wind and the fatigue that comes with making his bike's wheels spin through 75,880 revolutions during the 100 miles he'll be riding.

This isn't Garcia's first rodeo as relates to long bike rides - he has completed events such as the Livestrong Challenge ride in Austin, multiple Hotter 'n Hell Hundreds, Ride for the Roses, the March of Dimes ride and a several Children's Miracle Network rides.

You'll notice based on his past events that he has an affinity for doing rides that raise money for good causes.

Garcia will be doing the August 21 century ride alone, but ... he needs your help to make the ride a success.

His century ride next Thursday will be a 'Ride for Eric' fundraiser to help raise money for Eric Hoelscher, a Ballinger resident who recently has surgery to remove a golf ball sized brain tumor.

Hoelscher does not have medical insurance, so all funds raised will help pay medical expenses for the brain tumor surgery and subsequent treatment.

You can help make Garcia's 100 mile 'Ride for Eric' a success by simply pledging a certain amount of money per mile for every mile that he rides.

Think about it - if 500 people pledge $.50 per mile, Garcia (with your help) will be able to raise $25,000 to help Eric Hoelscher and his family through these tough times as they face the current and future medical bills.

Given that San Angelo's population is around 100,000 with a lot of good companies that support important causes, there should be a lot more than 500 people who make pledges if you'll help spread the word.

You don't have to make the pledge by yourself - get your cycling or running group involved to collect donation funds or 'pass the hat' in the office this coming week and make a pledge on behalf of your club or company.

Any amount of money that you pledge will help, and remember that you don't have to sweat your way through the 100 mile ride - Garcia will be doing that for you.

Making your ride pledge is easy - just log onto to use a credit card or send your donations or bike ride pledges to the Eric Hoelscher Benefit Fund, Ballinger National Bank, PO Box 660, Ballinger, TX 76821.

For more information on the Ride for Eric visit

Remember - Matt Garcia's century ride will raise money to help a fellow West Texan, so let's cheer him on with our pledges.

Upcoming Events
Aug 21: Mountain bike time trial,
Aug 22-24: Hotter'N Hell Hundred,
Sept 13: Run to Remember,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,
Oct 4: Shannon Pink Ribbon Run

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chip Scoring

'If there's a way to complicate a simple task by using modern technology, we should be using the new technology because it must be better than what's been done in the past.'

That's the prevalent attitude with almost everything today and - for better or worse - the task of scoring many running and multisport events seems to going in that direction.

Much of this is driven by participating athletes wanting complete race results posted on web sites and social media a few minutes after the event finishes.

In the early days race timing and scoring was simple.  A volunteer (usually a spectator who was drafted on the spot) was handed a clipboard, pencil, and watch and was tasked with writing down names or bib numbers and times as athletes crossed the finish line.

It wasn't uncommon to hear the race scoring volunteer ask "does anyone have a stopwatch I can use?"

After everyone finished, the race director spent a few minutes figuring out who were the winners in the various categories, awards were handed out, and - usually a few weeks later - the race results were typed up and sent out via snail mail to club members.

The preferred method of scoring events gradually evolved from the simple clipboard method to the index card system where athletes were simply handed a numbered index card as they finished. It was the racer's responsibility to fill out the card with their name, gender, age, and time.

Although very simple, this system worked great and is still used for a few events.

As race management became more sophisticated (or complicated?) many race directors adopted the newer tear-off bib number system.

Each pull tag was filled out prior to the race start with the athlete's name, age, gender, and any special award category information.

After each racer crossed the finish line, his/her tear-off tag was pulled from the bib number and then taped in sequential order onto a table or scoring board.

A printing stopwatch (high technology at the time) was used concurrently to capture all finishing times in order, and these times were then manually written on the corresponding pull tag.

After the race was over, the information on the pull tags was reviewed to determine the finishing order in the various race categories.

Participants would crowd around the scoring board after the race to see what their finishing time was and how they placed overall, and some (unlucky) person would spend much of the next day looking at the results board and typing up results to post on a web site.

In the late 1980s electronic sports timing ('chip timing') became commonplace for motor sport racing and by the mid-1990s some of the larger cycling, running, triathlon, and ski racing events started to adopt this technology.

Chip timing systems consist of a transponder ('chip'), an antenna and the decoder that 'reads' the unique code emitted by each chip, and database software that takes the data from the decoder, matches it up with pre-loaded participant information and calculates the final race results.

These chip timing systems are expensive with the small lower-end 'club-size' systems costing several thousand dollars and the individual chips or bib numbers that have embedded RFID chips being an additional cost.

Chip timing systems are great when they work properly - they can provide almost instant results for a large group of racers and allow those results to be easily uploaded to web sites or posted on social media

The down side is that it's common to see chip timing errors because racers wear the chip improperly so that it isn't 'read' by the timing system or because of incorrect registration data in the timing system's database.

My personal opinion is that we could have the best of all worlds by blending the old and new methods of scoring races.

A blend of the index card method and chips just might be the ticket to ensure fast and accurate results while allowing race directors to advertise 'we use chip scoring.'

As each runner crosses the finish line, he/she will be handed a large tortilla chip that has been numbered (1, 2, 3, ... etc.) using an edible-ink pen.

Just as in the index card method, each racer would be responsible for writing their name, time, age, and gender on the tortilla chip after finishing the race.

The race official would use these 'scoring chips' to determine awards and - as an added benefit - the chips (along with some salsa and beverages) would serve as after-race snacks.

Remember - simple and edible chip technology might be a good way to score events.

Upcoming Events
Aug 13: Run to Remember,
Aug 21: Mountain bike time trial,
Aug 22-24: Hotter'N Hell Hundred,
Sept 13: Run to Remember,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Area Athletes Target Upcoming Events

The hot mid-summer weather isn't slowing down area residents as they train through the heat to prepare for upcoming events that will take place between now and early fall. Those events include the new San Angelo Triathlon, the Hotter'N Hell Hundred cycling tour, and the 2014-2015 cyclocross race season that will kick off in October.

San Angelo Triathlon
Regional triathletes are putting the final polish on their swim, bike, and run fitness as they prepare to race  the new San Angelo Triathlon on August 10 in San Angelo's Spring Creek Park. This new event replaces the Wool Capitol Triathlon which was a mainstay on the Texas triathlon circuit for many years. The triathlon will include both the classic Olympic distance event (1,500 meter swim, 40K bike, 10K run) and a shorter sprint distance race with a 500 meter swim, 20K bike and a final 5K run. Race categories will include both individual age group and team relays in both the Olympic and sprint distance events.

The San Angelo Triathlon will also take place in a new venue at the marina in Spring Creek Park. The swim course will be in Lake Nasworthy near the marina with the bike leg being an out-and-back through the park to Spillway Road, then over the equalization channel onto Knickerbocker Road to the turn-around point. Racers will finish off the triathlon by completing a final run that goes from the marina through Spring Creek Park to the turn point, back around the point on Camper Road and then to the finish line near the marina. Full information on the San Angelo Triathlon and a registration link is posted on-line at

Hotter'N Hell Hundred
Many area cyclists will be headed north to Wichita Falls on August 22-24 for the 33rd annual Hotter’N Hell Hundred cycling event.  Although the capstone event of this three-day festival is the 100 mile cycling tour, the 12,000 or more cyclists who participate in the event will also be able to take part in road races sanctioned by USA Cycling, race their mountain bikes on the WeeChiTah Trail, run a 10K or half marathon trail race, or test themselves in the Triple Threat competition by completing the mountain bike race, the 100 mile bike tour, and the half marathon trail run. San Angelo's Marlon Miller will one of the individuals taking on the Triple Threat challenge so let's cheer him on. Visit for full information on the Hotter’N Hell Hundred.

Cyclocross University
Although the cyclocross season in Texas doesn't start until October, a group of area cyclists will start building their race fitness and honing cyclocross skills during the weekly 6:30 pm Wednesday evening cyclocross workouts that begin on August 6 in San Angelo's Middle Concho Park. These facilitated workouts, jokingly referred to as 'Cyclocross University', are open to anyone who wants to learn or improve their off-road cycling skills and learn about cyclocross events. All ability levels are welcome from beginners to experienced cyclists, and each participant will need a mountain or cyclocross bike, helmet, and either mountain bike shoes or flat pedals with running shoes.

If you are not familiar with cyclocross (CX), it is a form of off-road bicycle racing where riders complete multiple laps of a short 1-2 mile course for 30-60 minutes per race.  Each lap of a race will include one or more 'dismount-and run-with-your-bike' obstacles and the courses may include dirt, grass, pavement, sand, mud, and even snow/ice since the race season starts in the fall and goes through the winter. The local CX race series and the state-wide Texas Cup series will both start in October, and the 2015 National Championships will take place in Austin in January of 2015. For more information on the Wednesday evening cyclocross workouts visit San Angelo Cyclocross on Facebook or email

Remember - the hot summer weather isn't slowing down area athletes.

Upcoming Events

Aug 2: Southland Shuffle,
Aug 6: Cyclocross group workouts, 6:30 pm, Middle Concho Park
Aug 7: Road bike time trial,
Aug 10: San Angelo Olympic and sprint distance triathlon,
Aug 13: Run to Remember,
Aug 21: Mountain bike time trial,
Aug 22-24: Hotter'N Hell Hundred,
Sept 13: Run to Remember,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,

Friday, August 1, 2014

Cyclocross University


Aug 6 - Sept 24

Want to improve your chances at winning one of these? If so, you need to earn your Mud and Cowbells certification by attending this free eight week series of workouts that combines cyclocross theory, demonstrations, and tires-on-the-dirt lab exercises. You will be a stronger and more skilled cyclist after completing these group workouts. 

  •  Presented by Team San Angelo in conjunction with the San Angelo Team Red White Blue community 
  • Wednesday evenings at 6:30 PM Aug 6 - Sept 24, next to the middle restroom in Middle Concho Park in San Angelo.  After entering the park's front gate, turn right and follow the paved road for about 1/2 mile.

Course prerequisites:
  • Must have (and be able to ride) a cyclocross or mountain bike and have a bicycle helmet.
  • No known allergies to cowbells, fun, grass, mud, rain, sand, snow, or sweat.
  • A fondness for heckling and being heckled while maintaining a high heart rate.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:
  • Gracefully dismount and remount a bicycle while moving at various speeds.
  • Carry an exhausted bicycle up hills using the top tube, suitcase, and shoulder techniques.
  • Leap over tall barriers in a single bound while carrying a bicycle.
  • Negotiate smooth fast turns through flat, off-camber, uphill, downhill, grassy, sandy, and muddy corners..
  • Bunny-hop over small logs, rain ruts, and large rattlesnakes.
  • Ride fast on grass, dirt, sand, mud, and snow-packed surfaces.
  • Understand the true meaning of 'hot laps'.
  • Properly wear a cycling casquette under a helmet.
  • Be prepared to race (not just ride) a cyclocross event.

Workout Schedule

August 6: Middle Concho Park, 6:30 pm:  CX overview, training plan discussion, dismount/remount practice, running with the bike, short group ride around typical course, sprints, uphill runs, cool-down and stretch.

August 13: Middle Concho Park, 6:30 pm: Warm-up, cornering practice, shoulder bumping, short group ride around typical course, sprints, dismount/remount over barriers, uphill runs, cool-down and stretch.

August 20: Middle Concho Park, 6:30 pm: Warm-up, descending, riding over obstacles, short group ride around typical course, sprints, dismount/remount over barriers, uphill runs, cool-down and stretch.

August 27: Middle Concho Park, 6:30 pm: Warm-up, bunny-hops, riding through sand, hot laps around typical course, sprints, dismount/remount over barriers, uphill runs, cool-down and stretch.

September 3: Middle Concho Park, 6:30 pm: Warm-up, uphill sprint starts, trail ride w/ CX technique practice (natural barriers), uphill runs, cool-down and stretch.

September 10: EQ channel parking lot, 6:30 pm: Warm-up, uphill sprint starts, trail ride w/ CX technique practice, uphill runs, cool-down and stretch.

September 17: Twin Buttes main boat ramp, 6:30 pm: Warm-up, uphill sprint starts, trail ride w/ CX technique practice, uphill runs, cool-down and stretch.

September 24: Race simulation on ASU CX course, to include warm-up, course inspection, fast start and 30 minutes of 'hot laps'.  Short discussion of race clothing for various weather conditions.

Oct 1:  Race #1 ASU CX Series (location TBA)

Oct 8:  Race #2 ASU CX Series (location TBA)

Oct 15:  Race #3 ASU CX Series (location TBA)

Oct 22:  Race #4 ASU CX Series (location TBA)

Oct 29:  Race #5 ASU CX Series (location TBA)

Texas Cup CX races in October

4 - Bicycle Sport Shop Six Shooter – Austin
5 - Bicycle Sport Shop Six Shooter
11 - San Antonio CX – It’s a Bexar – San Antonio
12 - San Antonio CX - It’s a Bexar
18 - Webberville Cross – Austin
19 - Cyclocross Scuffle – Austin

For more information, contact Bill Cullins at or call/text (325) 234-8942

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Train Like A Tour de France Cyclist

I’ve heard comments from fellow cyclists over the past couple of weeks that went something like “I wish I could ride half as fast as those guys in the Tour de France — what is their secret?”

My response was “You could — if you trained just half as hard and half as smart as they do.”

Although the cyclists who make it into the ranks of elite professional racers are genetically gifted, their workout regimen is also among the most grueling of all professional sports.

To be competitive at the upper end of professional cycling, these riders must be capable of performing at an almost superhuman level.

They achieve that level by following carefully structured training programs designed to achieve a very high power-to-weight ratio and to maintain a high power output for an extended period of time.

Power in cycling is measured in watts. The average well-trained recreational cyclist may be able to maintain a power output of about three watts per kilogram of body weight for an hour. For a 180-pound rider (81.6kg), that would equate to 245 watts of constant power.

Professional cyclists are able to produce twice that amount of power or more, with the top Tour de France racers being able to produce power outputs close to 6.7 watts per kilogram of body weight for an hour or more on long, steep climbs (450 watts or more for a 150-pound racer).

While recreational cyclists will average 17-18 miles per hour on flat terrain and 9-10 miles per hour up mountain climbs, the pros will use their high power output to scoot down the level roads at 25-28 miles per hour for hours at a time and go up long climbs at 20-plus miles per hour.

How do these professional cyclists develop the ability to produce that much power and achieve that type of power-to-weight ratio?

The answers to those questions (genetics aside) are simple — they follow a structured training plan, ride a lot of miles, minimize body fat and train extremely hard when the plan calls for hard workouts.

Those are things that all of us could do on a “normal cyclist” scale.

Tour de France racers will start their training year by completing what is known as a base phase that consists of riding a lot of miles at an easy to moderate pace while concurrently doing strength workouts and working on weaknesses such as descending or doing time trials.

After developing their endurance base, those cyclists will shift into a build threshold phase that includes doing long intervals at a faster pace, performing hard climbing repeats in the mountains, and racing selected, low-priority events that are used as hard, race-specific workouts.

During the base and threshold phases, they will also pre-ride some or all of the Tour de France stages to ensure they properly prepare for each specific section of the course.

Their workouts during the threshold phase may include multiple 30-60 minute race-pace climbs on steep roads, followed by a fast descent and then another (and another) race-pace ascent of the climb.

They will wrap up their preparation by competing in shorter multiday races to acclimate their bodies to racing hard for multiple consecutive days.

Riding a lot of miles is another characteristic that differentiates pro racers from everyday cyclists. A typical training year for many professional cyclists will include riding 25,000 to 30,000 miles per year with some weeks having 600 or more miles of riding.

Assuming the average pace is in the range of 20-25 miles per hour, that would be 24-30 hours per week in the saddle.

Add in the strength, flexibility and other cross training activities and these athletes may be training for 40-50 hours per week.

Train, eat, sleep, train, eat, sleep.

The net effect of the structured plan, high miles and race-specific workouts is that these professionals arrive at key races with body fat percentages as low as 4-5 percent and with the ability to generate high power outputs for long periods of time, day after day.

So how could a recreational cyclist learn from what these professionals do?

Although most of us have busy lives with jobs, families and other time-consuming responsibilities, we can apply the same general strategies by following a structured plan, increasing the number of miles ridden, improving our power-to-weight ratio and doing the hard, interval workouts.

The pros’ secret is simple — lose excess weight and do the hard work needed to produce a lot of power for long periods of time.

Ride On, San Angelo and remember — if you train half as hard as a Tour de France cyclist, you will get faster.

Bill Cullins is an old cyclist, slow runner and former state Masters cyclocross champion. His column appears every Saturday. Contact him at

Upcoming events

Aug. 2: Southland Shuffle,
Aug. 6: Cyclocross workouts begin, Middle Concho Park
Aug. 10: San Angelo Olympic and sprint distance triathlon, Spring Creek Park,
Aug. 13: Run to Remember

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dirt Divas

There's a unique ladies group in San Angelo that meets on a regular basis for bike rides, trail runs, swim workouts, adventure races, paddling sessions in kayaks, after-workout yoga sessions and just about any other type of fitness activity you can think of.

You might spot some of the them riding the roads or trails in the State Park on Tuesday evenings, mountain biking at Middle Concho Park on Wednesday evenings, swimming around the buoys at the Lake Nasworthy swim beach, kayaking on local streams or competing in local bike, run, and multisport races.

Their ranks include housewives, business owners, veterans, nurses, fitness coaches, university professors and college students, with many of the ladies also being members of the local Team Red White Blue (RWB) chapter. 

On any given day, the group will include all ability levels ranging from absolute beginners who are just getting into one of the sports to experienced athletes who enjoy mentoring the beginners.

They call themselves the Dirt Divas.

The Divas are not an organized club - they're simply a group of ladies who enjoy being outside, exercising, having fun, and - most importantly - helping new people enjoy the various fitness activities.

Guys are not banned from the Diva group workouts - in fact, they are welcome as long as they're willing to air up bike tires, fix flats, and intelligently discuss which color of nail polish best matches with the workout outfit of the day.

"The Divas started out as a small group of ladies on the MAC Racing Team who started getting together for "girls day out' mountain bike rides a few years ago," said Dionnie Hoelsken, a member of that initial group.

"Christina McBride, the MAC team organizer and coach, coined the phrase 'Dirt Divas' because everyone ended up with a 'dirt tan' after a long dusty race or ride."

Today it's common to see 12-15 or more ladies show up for a Diva activity, with experienced riders such as Hoelsken, Donna Durbin, Dorothy Langdon and Debbie Yohman mentoring the new Divas in whatever the fitness activity of the day is.

Yohman says one of the fun weekly activities for the Diva group is the group ride that takes place on most Tuesday evenings at the State Park.

" We've been meeting at 6:30 pm on Tuesdays at the Playground parking lot in the State Park," said Yohman. "Most of us ride our mountain bikes on the park's paved roads but sometimes we do ride a few easy trails off the road with the normal ride distance being between 8 and 12 miles."

Cindy Simmons, who has been working on her 'dirt tan' with the Diva group for several years, urges other ladies to get involved and join in on the fun.

" Don't be afraid of the diva rides and other fitness activities if you are a beginner," said Simmons.

"Come out and join us for some fun girl time and get fit along the way."

Although the Divas are not an organized group with a web site or email distribution list, their upcoming bike rides and other fitness activities are typically posted on the Facebook pages for Team RWB San Angelo and SABA-San Angelo.

Anyone wanting more information about how to hook up with this fun group of ladies can also contact Debbie Yohman at (325) 223-1080.

Ride On, San Angelo and remember - the Dirt Divas are all about having fun and getting in some healthy exercise.

Upcoming Events

July 24: Mountain bike time trial,
July 26: Goodfellow Triathlon,
Aug 2: Southland Shuffle,
Aug 10: San Angelo Olympic and sprint distance triathlon, Spring Creek Park

professors and college students, with many of the ladies also being members of the local Team Red White Blue (RWB) chapter.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Dirt Road From Hell

If you’re looking for a close-to-town place to run, walk, or ride your mountain bike while enjoying nature and being away from traffic, the dirt road that connects from Middle Concho Park to the paved Twin Buttes Reservoir access road near Highway 67 might be just the ticket.

In fact, it’s my go-to location in San Angelo for fitness activities and also where I send new people who ask where to go for workouts.

You can hike the road, run it, or ride your mountain bike while enjoying the desert scenery and taking side trips on the assorted 4WD roads and trails that connect to the main dirt road.

Officially, the road is called Middle Concho West but most local athletes refer to it affectionately as the ‘Dirt Road From Hell.’

That nickname was coined years ago by athletes competing in the Wool Capitol Triathlon each August when they had to complete their final 10K run on this road with the sun beating down, buzzards circling overhead, and rolling hills adding more pain to their already-tired legs.

Nickname aside, it’s a fun and relaxing place to do workouts while getting away from cars and people.

The east end of this dirt road starts in Middle Concho where the park’s paved road ends seven-tenths of a mile west of the park’s entry station.

You can also start near the park’s main front entry and follow the dirt park roads along the shoreline as you head toward the back of the park.

After leaving the pipe fence at the beginning of the dirt road, you’ll go about four-tenths of a mile and reach the park’s main back gate. It’s usually open, but if not just squeeze around it and continue on.

The road will make a big right turn as you leave the park and you’ll traverse around the edge of a bluff called Spillway Hill. Watch for buzzards along the lip of the bluff surfing the updraft from southerly winds that flow up and over the hill.

At about eight-tenths of a mile from the start the road will start to make a sweeping left turn and you’ll enter ‘the sand and clay’ zone. This is an interesting area that can be really muddy after a rain, firm and packed a couple of days later, and then a loose sandpit after continued days of hot dry weather.

Continue west on the road and the grade starts to pitch up a little. It’s not a long climb but enough to remind you that the Dirt Road From Hell is still in control.

At 1.4 miles from where you started you’ll come to a ‘T” intersection with a dam in front of you. Turn left and you can top out at Spillway Hill about 1.9 miles from the start of the dirt road, or continue on the main and at 2.4 miles you’ll be on the shore of Twin Buttes Reservoir next to the cage at the dam.

If you decide to head right at the ‘T’ you’ll gradually climb up what I call Twin Buttes Pass, reaching the high point of the road underneath the twin peaks at 2.1 miles from where you started.

From the top of the pass, the road will drop back down into a draw and then undulate up and down over several small hills before reaching the paved Twin Buttes access road at about 3.1 miles from the road’s starting point.

Wanting a little more distance? One option when you reach the paved Twin Buttes access road is to turn left and follow it for about two miles to the main Twin Buttes boat ramp.

You also have a multitude of other add-some-distance options as you bike, run, or walk along the route by turning onto some of the 4WD roads and trails that intersect the dirt road both on Spillway Hill and in the area between the Twin Buttes hills and the reservoir.

These roads and trails are fun to explore and are routinely used trail running events, adventure races, and mountain bike rides.

There are no restroom facilities or places to get water along the dirt road, so it’s a good idea to carry water, a cellphone, and other out-in-the-wilderness necessities with you.

Remember — the Dirt Road From Hell is a great place to exercise. Give it a try.

Upcoming Events
July 13: LakeNasworthy Triathlon,
July 24: Mountain bike time trial,
July 26: Goodfellow Triathlon,
Aug. 2: Southland Shuffle,
Aug. 10: San Angelo Olympic and sprint distance triathlon, SpringCreekPark