Archive for the tag 'family'

Event: Santa Cruz Triathlon Relay (bike leg)

Date: 09.25.2011

Teammates: Team Not Related Johnsons (Camille Johnson,/swim, Jay Johnson,/run)

Time: 58:48

Distance: 24.5 mi

Weather: Sunny, overcast/ low 6os

Power: 222w/549 (Avg/Max)

HR: 178/183 (Avg/Max)

Avg speed: 25.0 mph

Gearing: 50-34, 11-23

Place: 1st Coed Relay/3rd All Relays 2:10 (Results:

First offóno I have not been body-snatched and replaced with a hill-avoiding flatlander diesel engine. Its still me! But last week before Folsom the owner of my borrowed Cervelo P3C TT bike invited my wife Cami and I to do a relay with him at the Santa Cruz Triathlon. I figured if the guy who owns the bike invites me to ride it in a relay and heíll run, how can I say no? And truth be told, I sort of enjoyed the race against the clock at Folsom even though I was out-classed by my M123 competitors by a significant margin. But that was a short 11 mile TTóand this one was 25 miles. I was ready to see what I could do.

The Santa Cruz Triathlon course starts downtown, winds its way through the western edge of Santa Cruz by Long Marine Labs, then heads out on Highway 1 to Davenport, does a quick turn around and comes back. The course has a lot of little rollers, none super steep but definitely not flat, and the wind usually blows towards the North, making the return leg to town hard. I have many memories of hammering out with the UCSC club on Highway 1 only to turn around and limp home because of the wind.

My wife Cami rocked the swim and was only preceded by a few other relay swimmers, so I knew we were in good position. I honestly was worried I was going to give up quite a bit of time, as the dudes who were lined up in the relay gates looked more like Ross Tinline and Mark Slavonia than yours truly, and I knew that could be a problem for me! I strapped on the timing chip and proceeded to run about 1k uphill to where we were actually allowed to start pedaling our freaking bikes. It was silly but they didnít want people to mount before a hill, derail their chains, etc. Luckily all that cross practice remounting with Clark a few weeks back translated to the TT bike, so I think I was the only guy with both feet off the ground doing the flying mount onto the TT bike. Adrenaline makes you do silly things sometimes.

My goal for the TT was to break it into 4 segments, and hold a nice steady tempo and ramp it up in the 3rd and 4th legs. But most importantly, I wanted to keep my starting wattage under control so I might just finish this thing without exploding. What I didnít count on was the fact that relays started last, so I spent the entire thing passing bike after bike after bike and making sure I didnít get taken out by someone randomly sitting up or swerving or by the traffic whizzing by on Hwy 1. The upside was I felt really fast passing all these people, and was forced to keep my eyes on the road ahead which helps with that aero helmet. But at some point I recognized that the dude wearing high tops riding a mountain bike might not really be in the same class as I was. But I took solace anyway ūüėČ

The ride is pretty boring, the wind wasnít too strong, but at some point I was going about 35mph downhill and getting blown about which brought on some pucker factor, but I figured I couldnít let my team down and forcibly relaxed my arms and shoulders and stayed in the TT position. Corners and turn arounds were the most scary as I was flying through them and felt like I was playing Frogger or something as I had to swerve around the other riders. But in my head, I was loving the challenge and it motivated me to go harder.

Playlist for the first 3 segments: Soul Asylum ďRunaway TrainĒ

Runaway train never going back Wrong way on a one way track ?Seems like I should be getting somewhere Somehow I’m neither here no thereLittle out of touch, little insane Just easier than dealing with the pain

Not the most motivational of tunes, but its what was sticking and I went with it. Then on the last segment, the Doors blasted their way in as I started to ďBreak on ThroughĒ for the last 5 miles. The mind is a funny thing when its blocking out the screaming pain in your legs. As I was approaching Santa Cruz, I ramped up to 250 watts, and immediately my pedal stroke felt forced and unsmooth. I kept imagining smooth circles and powered on.

The last part of the course winds through town and goes to a little turn around to extend the distance, and this was a major slow down as I had to navigate turns and other riders that were riding 2 and 3 wide on both sides of the single lane road. Thoughts of T boning or head-ons while in the bars flickered through my brain, but I told them to HTFU and go faster.

The final straight goes right above the boardwalk and back down the hill. I imagined I was in the TDF and carving the curves but instead of motoring across a finish line, you have to come to a stop, dismount and run down the same damn hill. I flew in, did a cross step through (hard to do on the TT bike with the damn bars in the way) and caused the volunteers to have a heart attack that I was going to crash. But no such luck. I cruised into the transition zone and apparently passed the other teams out on the course, because I was the first relay bike in. After dismounting I underestimated the weakness of my adductors and suddenly found myself squatting to take of my shoes and falling over because I couldnít stand back up. It was quite graceless and undignified, but such is life.

True confession: I really enjoyed doing the TT. Its pure and painful, but also brings out the best in me. I can hardly walk or sit from the nerve pain, but I will be doing more TTs in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Strava segment:


Burlingame Criterium 06.26.2011

Matty pedals for a great cause!

This weekend I took time off from racing and instead helped my club, Peninsula Velo put on the Burlingame Criterium, and Ryan’s Ride, a memorial ride to raise money for cancer programs through the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I was really looking forward to this as Matty has been really excited to ride his bike, and begs me to wear my jersey and ride bikes with him. I can only describe it as feeling like a Super Hero to my son, and I’ve watched him mature into an understanding of cycling and competition to know that Daddy almost never wins, but he always gives it everything he has. He saw me struggle by myself last weekend as I crawled in behind the leaders and he said “Daddy you were going fast up that hill!” So I was ready to return the favor as he pedaled a lap of the course.

It was a beautiful day and I was an escort for the kids to make sure the all made it safely around the course. There was an endless sea of kids on a variety of bikes just having a blast. Matty had several friends there, and as his race got under way, he quickly wove his way through the rather disorganized sea of riders. If you’ve ever felt unsafe in a criterium because riders aren’t holding their lines, you’ve only grasped the tip of the iceberg with a sea of 7 and 8 year olds all swerving around, some looking forward, backwards and sideways as crowd cheers them on. Its a miracle more of them don’t plow into each other.

But Matty, true to his character, slammed it into his hardest gear and pedaled his heart out. He motored around the course and was beaten by one other kid who he just couldn’t catch. Daddy of course was right behind him encouraging him to pedal not because I cared whether he won or lost, but because I wanted him to enjoy the sport of it, and give it everything he had. When we finished he was breathing hard, but not that hard and said “I’m ready to do more Daddy!” I smiled and hope this is just the start of a long career of competition in sport for him.

A great way to end the weekend. One proud Daddy!


A few good days on the bike

For their last field trip of the year, the cub scouts got to learn some bicycle safety and do a group bike ride together. Matty quickly decided he was going to race everyone, and faster than I could even get the camera out, he was gone.

And besides learning how to pass safely on the left, they somehow found every…single…puddle and bit of mud so that they were covered in seconds. Who can blame them, its a blast!

Add this to the bike fun we had yesterday as I chased Matty around an office park, and its been a good several days on the bike


How the boys play

What’s a father and son to do on a hot day left to their own devices?† Well watch and see.† And do note, all those orange things are non-toxic and biodegradable


Gymnastics Show

Admit it, you miss “Eye of the Tiger”!† Well here’s your chance to hear it all over again, in all its glory


Moving towards home ownership!

Well its official, we have put a bid down on a nice house in Redwood City and its been accepted!  After months of searching and wondering if we would find something with the right balance of features that met our eclectic needs (read “large garage for Menko”) we found something great.  The original owner has lived there for the last 50 years, and the moment we saw it we knew it was the place for us.  While that long-time ownership often results in some “deferred maintenance” the house itself has checked out OK. 

The house has a living room, dining room, 3 modest bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  There is also an enclosed porch that we will be using as a family room.  With hardwood throughout and a nice backyard, we saw the place growing with us.  I have posted a few pictures, so enjoy them!

front of house from drivewayfront of house from driveway


Matty gets the “all clear!”

Dr. Tsai and Mattheus

Dr. Tsai and Mattheus

On Thursday, Matty started complaining that he was having pain while peeing, and he became quite frantic. Fearing a repeat of 3 weeks ago, I immediately checked a few things, and made an appointment for the following day to see his pediatrician. The last thing I wanted was for a repeat infection to get out of control.

To confirm my fears, Mattheus woke at 2am and came running into my room and hopped into bed with me. He curled up against me and went back to sleep for the rest of the night. However, on waking, he hadn’t peed all night and was clearly uncomfortable. I took him to school, and told them to keep an eye on him. He stayed glued to his teacher and didn’t do gymnastics, so we knew he was holding it and being uncomfortable. However, once he fell asleep after lunch, the floodgates opened and the kid needed a new set of clothes. Terrified he was sick again, we went to see his doctor and got him checked out.

Luckily, the tests showed he was in the clear, and we celebrated with some stickers, a new race car and went home feeling good. Mattheus saw pictures of all the kids on the wall, so he asked me to snap this photo so he can go up on the wall as well. I guess we’ll see the next time we visit the doctor.


Pumpkins, Surfing and Sunshine

This weekend was a tornado of activity with Saturday being spent at SJSU during alumni weekend. I was barely able to drag myself out of bed since this week was just packed with short nights and long days, but the event was packed with bagels, coffee, and good humor, making it most enjoyable. The afternoon sped on past as we took a nap, did some cleaning, and played a bit. Kayla and Chris invited Mattheus and Menko out for some ice cream, which meant lots of frantic running around and playing at the ice cream store. Clearly both kids were on the rebound but the parents were still worn out! They ran and ran while Chris and Menko just tried their best to keep them from losing a limb or becoming too much of a nuisance.

Continue Reading »


Summer 2007 brings change!


Those lazy months of June, July and August have traditionally been busier than the rest of the year for us, and this summer was no exception. Menko foolishly believed that with his MA in Instructional Technology completed in June, he’d finally have that long awaited relaxation time. Instead, we spent a great deal of time travelling for conferences, family outings, and even a little time at the beach. So where did all that time go?

The highlight of it all however was Cami getting started at her new job as a tenure track faculty member at San Jose State’s College of Business. After completing her post doc at Stanford and getting several publications out of the way, she’s ready to start work in August. Go Cami!

Menko also had the opportunity to take part in a presentation at Campus Technology’s annual conference on August 2nd in Washington, DC.. The Incubator Classroom was selected as one of the top technology innovations in education for 2007. At the conference, I had the opportunity to explain how technology is enhancing instruction at San Jose State and how Instructional Designers help facilitate faculty course planning and implementation. After nearly 16 months of hard work, the award certainly was a welcome surprise and validation of the good work being done by faculty and staff in the Academic Success Center.

Summer also brought about the acquisition of some new toys including a folding bicycle for commuting on the train and a surfboard donation from Est, a long-time friend of Menko’s. While hardly the surfer dude, he’s atleast going to give it a go while the going is good.