Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Mexico

Merry Christmas!!

For this past Christmas my whole family decided to travel down to Playa del Carmin, Mexico with the rest of my extended family. With school being let out on Friday the 19th we decided to leave the next day, Saturday. Our flight left at around noon, so we decided to leave the house around 9 to get there a good two hours ahead of time. When we checked the computers had kinda screwed up which put us in first class (for no extra charge). Of course, we weren't going to complain. After going through all the security and making a restroom stop we made our way over to the gate where we would meet up with the rest of the family which included: our Granparents-Greg and Joan Kuhns; the Kuhns family-Aunt Nancy, Uncle Jim, and cousins James, and Lindsey; The other Kuhns family-Uncle Hampden (who is an excellent ping-pong player), Aunt Sara, and their adopted kids, Kit and Niya; and the McCarthy family-Aunt Anne, Uncle Shawn, and cousins Will, Sam, and Alex. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the gate we found out that the flight was delayed a good hour. Fortunately for the Craddock family, we were able to get into the President's Club because of our first class tickets. After "chilling" in there for a while with my dad and brother we made our way back to the gate before the flight left. We then got on the flight and took off for our stay at the Petite Lafite. When we got Mexico everyone was able to get all of their luggage, so we then went outside to get in the taxi vans. On our way to the resort we ended up getting lost, but thankfully made it there in time for dinner. After getting everyone sorted out into their "cabanas" we found ourselves at the buffet picking up some delicious authentic Mexican food. In fear of writing the length of a novel I won't go into that much detail on the adventures that we went on. We did a bunch of things while we were their including: snorkeling on the coast of Cozumel, jumping off 50 foot dives into underground cenotes, snorkeling down an extremely long river, racing my brother down the same river, visiting ancient Mayan ruins, climbing up huge, 192 step Mayan Pyramids, jumping up the same pyramid to get in my "strength training" for the day, and just relaxing on the beach. To say the least, it was definitely one of the best family vacations I've had, and special thanks to G-Mom and G-Dad for helping put it all together and making it happen.

As for the cycling part of my blog....
The Sunday before the trip was another cyclocross race in the Woodlands. The course was fun and demanding. It started out in parking out lot where you would do a big U-turn. You would then take a sharp turn onto a sidewalk which would lead to the first off-road section. You would then have to jump over a set of barriers before you dive into the forest. This part was extremely technical before you come back out of the forest into a muddy straightaway. You would then go onto a technical grassy area before you climbed a short hill where you would ride along some soccer fields. The next major obstacle was a steep downhill with an extremely tight U-turn at the bottom. The rest of the course was pretty tough and technical before you made another U-turn with about 200 meters until the finish line. I decided to give another shot a the Men Open despite my disastrous attempt the previous week. I had a pretty bad start and entered the forest in 4th place. With the first two guys on Bike-Lane, they started some teamwork to let the first place guy, Kevin Koen, get a good gap. I then attacked when we got out of the woods to try and catch back up to Kevin. The other Bike-Lane guy, Nathan Winklemann, sat on my wheel while I tried my hardest to catch back up. I almost made it up to Kevin before we made it to the grassy section, but he opened up a big gap during the technical section. I then tried to recover as Nathan repeatedly attacked me. After about halfway through the race my legs gave up as I watched Nathan open up a huge gap. As I was trying to recover the GCCA guy who was in fourth passed me. I then rode at my own pace just trying to stay in fourth. As I started to recover I was able to up the pace, and had a reasonable gap on the fifth place rider. On the last lap the gap between the GCCA rider and me from around 15 seconds to 7 seconds. Thinking I could possibly catch him, I went to fast around the U-turn at the bottom of the steep hill and cashed. I quickly picked up my bike, and jumped back onto the crooked saddle. As I continued to ride as hard as I could I noticed that my brake levers were crooked as well. Nevertheless, I ended up finishing in fourth. After the race I met up with best friend, Alan Ting, so we could wander hopelessly around the Woodlands and eat Coldstone on the side of the road (inside joke....). This next weekend I have the State Championships CX race up in San Antonio where I plan on racing the Juniors on Saturday and the 3's on Sunday.

Happy New Years!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

If you ain't first, you're last!!

This past weekend marked the start of a few new things. The first being my official start to being a Hot Tubes Development Team member, and the second being the start of my cyclocross season. The first race of the weekend was over in Tinsley Park put on by GCCA. It was about a 7 minute course starting with a steep gravel road with a 180 turn at the top. We then rode some on a paved bike path before we tackled the off road section. After riding off road for a while we got onto a steep paved hill with switchbacks. After climbing that hill we rode straight back down the hill before the tricky U-turn onto the finish line straight. With my lack of racing this far into the CX season I opted for the Men 3/4's with 45 minutes of racing. At the very beginning, I went to the front and went all out for the first three quarters of a lap to break up the field. When I looked back there was only three others behind me. I then pulled off to get some rest. The next guy kept the pace high to drop everyone except me. We then traded pulls until Southern Elite's Cody Foster bridged up to us with a Woodlands rider. Cody went straight to the front and then slid out around a tricky turn. Being right behind him I, slammed on the brakes and went over the handlebars trying to miss him. Fortunately, neither of us were hurt, so we jumped back on the bike and chased back on. Later that lap, I slid out again on the U-turn before the finish. I jumped back up again and was able to chase back on. By the time that I had caught back on the Woodlands guy had been dropped making it the original Bike Lane guy, Cody, and me. With about two laps to go Cody flatted, making only the Bike Lane guy and me. With one lap to go, I attacked at the top of the hill to open up a gap. I was able to keep that gap, and ended up winning by about 5 seconds over the Bike Lane guy with Cody recovering from the flat to get third. Today was a little different....With the payout a little better, I made the bad decision to race the Men Opens for a hour worth of racing. The course was fun and technical with a difficult uphill run-up. Everything started out well. I was able to stay with Bryan Fawley, one of Texas' best CX racers, until the really technical section. By the time that I had gotten out the that section, Bryan had opened up a pretty good gap. I kept riding at my pace before two Bike Lane racers caught up to me. I was still feeling pretty good up until I was behind both of them, and the guy directly in front of me eased up to make a pretty big gap to his teammate. I then got to the front and started chasing pretty hard. To say the least, I made it about a half of a lap. My legs then just blew up and my day was done. I kept riding, but I was passed by the remaining five riders only to hang on to their wheels for about five seconds before being dropped. I ended up finishing the race in ninth out of nine :( Special thanks to Andy Gonzalez for working on my bike so that I could race.