Sayonara, 2014!

Of course I start AFTER the year is over to start reflecting back at what happened in my life in 2014!

JanuarySnowboarding in Colorado.

February – Did my first duathlon. Bought my first mountain bike.

March – I finally shaved after extending “No Shave November” for 4 extra months. Interviewed at San Jacinto College for the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

AprilFurbypoo wedding. Drove to Austin to see friends cross the MS150 finish line.

May – Got accepted into the San Jacinto PTA program. Placed 8th in my first mountain bike race, the Big Ring Challenge. Set a new bowling PR of 256. My nephew Gabriel visits Houston for the first time. Got out of the Houston Escape Room with IHOS crew and bro-in-law. Started this blog.

June – Flew with my dad to Taiwan for less than a week for grandma’s funeral. Camped and mountain biked in the hill country with Eric.

July – My mom was diagnosed with oral cancer. Went back to TAF (Taiwanese American Foundation) for the first time in 9 years as a JH counselor.

August – My sister had twins. Started PTA school.

SeptemberCraig & Ellen hosted an engagement party on a boat on my birthday. I turned 26.

October – Placed 2nd in my second duathlon. Attended TPTA’s annual Student Conclave in Galveston Mom had surgery to remove cancer from her tongue. Finished my first (and last??) marathon at the Marine Corps Marathon in DC.

November – Bought my second bike of the year, a cyclocross bike. Raced Give Me Some Sugar CX. Watched Dwight Howard’s documentary and met Daryl Morey, Rockets GM. Finally experienced Killen’s BBQ. Completed the Texas Bridge Series (10K, 10K, 13.1) to conclude my running career for the foreseeable future. Relient K concert. Raced in the Terra X cyclocross race, then attended the Ong wedding that evening. Volunteered and raced in the “Houston Cyclocross Challenge” the following day, then attended the Lee wedding that evening.

December – Finally got my first raise at work. Finished first semester of PTA school. Won a pair of $400 cycling shoes. Mom finished all her cancer treatments at MD Anderson Cancer Center on Christmas Eve.

Kudos to Facebook/Instagram for helping me remember my life. You could say 2014 was quite eventful for me! October-November was one of the craziest time periods ever. What do I have look forward to in 2015?

  • Cyclocross National Championships are in a week in Austin, and I’ll be racing in a non-champ race plus possibly the Industry race! This year I hope to ride and race A LOT more by entering several mountain bike races, trying some crit racing on the road, and placing top 50% in all my CX races next winter. I sacrificed a lot of riding by training for the marathon, but no more!
  • I’ll have my first 5-week PTA clinical at the end of summer! Excited for that.
  • A deep playoff run for the Rockets? Crossing my fingers.
  • My mom will be declared cancer-free. IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

Here’s to a great new year to come!

All I want for Christmas…

…is for my mom to beat cancer!!

This Wednesday (Christmas Eve) is hopefully her final treatment for radiation and chemo.

The past several weeks have been very difficult for her. The daily radiation caused some burns along the scarred tissue on her neck. The radiation plus chemo has caused a lot of mucus formation that she’s constantly trying to cough out, often resulting in her having to vomit to get it all out. Her throat is very sore from the that plus the stomach acid wearing away on the esophagus. It’s really difficult for me to see and hear her go through this all day and night.

For the anatomically-informed/PT folks: The surgery a couple months ago damaged some nerves, so she’s had decreased arm strength. She has trouble with shoulder abduction to 90˚, and it hurts to hold it there. She showed me yesterday a hard protrusion on the top of her shoulder. At first it seemed like possibly a really bad knot in a muscle, but it was too hard, and moved with arm movements. I figured out it was the superior angle of her scapula! This means her entire scapula is abnormally elevated or downwardly rotated. WHY? I don’t know exactly. I’m sure it’s from muscle imbalance somewhere due to reduced use of her arm and neck since surgery. As a Student PTA, I’m very curious to find out the reason when we are able to ask a doctor that knows or a physical therapist!! I guess this means DPT transition program should be a future goal.

Anyways, thanks everyone for continued thoughts and prayers. She’s really the strongest person I know, and I know these few inconvenient months of treatments will be worth it in the long run!

Throwback Thursday // Across America Tour

venturegroup

Exactly one year ago, I was in Seattle getting to know 14 other people for the first time, and was preparing to lead them in the following 2 months on the road as we biked coast-to-coast, ocean-to-ocean, from sea to shining sea (get the picture?), to the Big Apple!!

Today, a new team is meeting for the first time as they tackle 3400+ miles and raise money to feed Burmese refugees and provide education/discipleship for children in Banpong, Thailand at the Hosea Community Center. It’s surreal the first time around, and sometimes it doesn’t hit you for several days that you’re actually biking across America!

You can follow the team on social media by searching #AcrossAmericaTour on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Or check out this cool site that does it for you: tagboard.com/acrossamericatour

If you’re interested in cool adventure trips like this that benefit people in need, let me know! Venture Expeditions (the non-profit behind these tours) is dear to my heart and they have many different opportunities for everyone!

Rad Ride Report // GHORBA Big Ring Challenge 2014

GHORBA BRG Selfie
At the front and ready to race, but first…let me take a selfie!

Last month I entered my very first bike race, which is kinda crazy because I just bought my first mountain bike (Trek Stache 8) 2 months prior to the race!

While I’ve ridden road bikes for 4 years now, I’ve never had an honest desire to do any sort of road racing. Don’t get me wrong, I love road racing–but as a spectator. But what keeps me from doing it is that it’s intimidating. Weak, I know, but there are still some seriously strong riders in the lowest category, “Cat 5”. But it’s not just the speed factor I fear, but it’s the personality of the sport–it has an elitist aura about it. That is just my humble opinion, and I know not every road racer is a stuck up elitist jerk (some of our racers are goofy and friendly as hell, yet punishing on the bike). Also, the fear of catching someone’s back wheel doesn’t help either. Cat 5 is full of beginners, and plenty of those beginners aren’t the best at holding their lines. At high speeds, I’ll pass on the road rash!

BRG TrailBut anyway, back to mountain biking!

What drew me to want to enter a MTB race was the appealing culture and the fact that I know would have fun riding the trails no matter where I place. The atmosphere is laid back and is like a festival. Everyone wants to have fun riding (and riding fast for some). I’m typically not good at meeting and chatting up strangers, but I befriended the guy who placed after me and his family. They offered me beer, Gatorade, and his momma even whipped me up a potato salad sandwich as we watched other racers ride through the giant sand pit at the end!

The race took place at Double Lake Recreation Area (Coldspring, TX), which is on the edge of Sam Houston National Forest, and next to Lake Livingston. It’s a solid 1.5-hour drive from where I live. I was fortunate to have the chance to pre-ride the race course with my buddy Brian a couple weeks before the race. Double Lake is known to be a fast course, with its lack of technical features. It’s where roadies go to be mountain bikers (hey that’s me!). The trails are flowy and pretty smooth for the most part. The park is heavily shaded by piney trees. It was a warm day, but thankfully it wasn’t true Texas summer yet.

BRG Brian
Brian shreddin’ the trails!

I raced in the “Cat 3” group, which is the category beginners start in. Cat 3 racers only had to ride one loop totaling about 11.5 miles, whereas the Pro/1/2 cats raced two loops. There are multiple race starts within each Cat based on age group. The 19-29 group had about 30 riders that raced. Because I was one of the first people to register online, I got to start at the front of the group! Below you can see a sweet shot my friend Nathan (whom I met at the Cypress trails) caught of me leading the opening driveway sprint before entering the woods!

I didn’t stay in first long. I was 3rd entering the woods and held that spot for the first couple miles. Race pace was intense and definitely something my body wasn’t used to. I was sucking air a mile in, and the dust getting kicked up in the air wasn’t helping! Finally after 3 miles, there’s an open jeep road where I had planned to hydrate, but it was bumpier than I thought! I lost time as 2-3 guys passed me up while I held the bottle against the handlebar. Half a mile later was a longer, smoother jeep road. It was a quarter-mile long “climb”, I knew not to gas myself too much on this segment.

Race shot
Professional photographer friends rejoice…I paid for this photo!
I even got a ribbon and a shoutout for Venture Expeditions!
I even got a ribbon and a shoutout for Venture Expeditions!

Probably the weakest part of my riding is my handling in corners. At mile 7.5 and 8.5 of my pre-ride, I had slid out on the piles of pine leaves or sand. That sat in the back of my mind the entire time, but I’d rather lose time on the corners than lose time recovering from a crash!

At times there was no one visibly ahead or behind me. I let up in those moments and probably lost 1-2 spots because of it. I now know that mental aspect of racing, that I gotta keep pushing. Eventually one guy passed me up wearing a plain t-shirt and checkered canvas slip on shoes–I was thinking to myself “oh jeez this guy is going to beat me lol”. And he did.

Throughout the course I could’ve legitimately wrecked 2-3 times, but miraculously recovered each time. In the end, I came in 8th place in the Cat 3, 19-29 group! I was really happy with the top 10 placing, which was one of my goals heading in.

I definitely intend to enter more mountain bike races in the future! For the summer, Texas MTB races are on hold because of the heat, and they resume in the fall.

At the end of June I’m hoping to travel somewhere in Texas with my good buddy Eric, who just picked up a sweet Kona Explosif! Look out for another Rad Ride Report then!

Here we go

Lately while reading product reviews of items I already own, I’ve found myself quite unsatisfied at times. Unsatisfied because I sometimes have negative experiences with the items and no one else seems to ever mention/experience them! Maybe I’m a bit nit-picky at times, but the little things matter to me.

That triggered something in my brain, making me want to do my own reviews! I do consider myself a gear junkie. I enjoy buying things that I believe will valuably enhance my experience in whatever I’m doing, which is usually (but not always) related to sports. But I’m not Richie Rich, so I always try to find the best bang for my buck.

Many reviews will be bike-related, but I’ll also cover things like electronics, athletic apparel, and household stuff that I love to use on a daily basis to mix it up.

And much more than just reviews (because I don’t get things for free, nor buy things super often), this’ll be a blog for me to share my life, thoughts, and cool things I find on the Interwebz! So stay tuned for more posts, and hopefully this’ll break up the monotony of my off-days from work. =]

Here’s a super quick mini-review: I like the layout of this theme (‘The Morning After’). Three columns give me ample room to share lots of stuff in a small area. But I really hatehatehate that it only shows the “Latest post” and not a stream of older posts below. Featured posts will have a preview below the latest post. If you want to read older content, you have to click the titles under Recent Posts on the right, or search. But unless I find another good looking three-column theme, I’m sticking with this one!