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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ride Report - Kohala Mountains

This was the most pleasant ride of my stay in Hawaii. I did it early in the trip but only just now got around to writing a lot of this stuff down.

I started in Waikoloa, went up the Queen K to Kawaihae and then on to Hawi, on the north side of the island and the turnaround point for the Ironman. It is about 2 hours of mostly flat terrain to Hawi.

In Hawi I turned right on Hwy 250 and started riding up the Kohala Mountains towards Waimea. It turns out that I turned a bit earlier than I should have, and did a couple miles of 10% gradient that I could have avoided if I had turned right later on Kinnersley. After that, though, the climbing is moderate, and the day I rode, the views were outstanding. Once you get some altitude, it becomes very green. Basically the "green line" is about 1500 feet, where the rain becomes consistent as the clouds move up over the mountains. You are now in ranch country. Waimea is the center of the ranching industry on the Big Island, and home to the Parker Ranch, which is the second largest ranch in the US after the King Ranch in Texas.

The road surface is good and traffic is light. The climb tops out around 3700ft after 13 miles, for an average gradient of 4.4%.....very pleasant. From the top there is a nice descent to Waimea, and then the ripping descent from Waimea back to the coast.

There is no water between Hawi and Waimea, so fill your bottles in Hawi (there is a market behind the post office at Hwy 250). Fill them again in Waimea (turn left and go 2 miles to the town proper where the shops are), because you are still about an hour from home, and by now it is probably ass hot.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ride Report - Old Mamalahoa Highway

This is another awesome ride, from Waikoloa, up through Waimea, and then on to Honokaa via the Old Mamalahoa Hwy. You have to ride about 3 miles from Waimea on the main highway, which is slightly uncomfortable.

The climb from the Queen K up to Waimea is a nice one. 10 miles at about 5% gradient. It is about 50 mins of climbing from the volcanic wastelands of the beach area to the green ranchlands of Waimea. After a brief stint on the main highway, you turn off onto the old road, which winds it way through ranches and beautiful vistas. Once in Honokaa you can ride out to the Waipio Valley overlook, but I did not have time.

I was originally intending to go do Kaloko Drive again, but I ran into Lance and spun around to ride with him. When he turned off, I decided to go to Honokaa because Brad had recommended the old highway, and I know that Lance rides it as well. I was relieved, because Kaloko Drive scares me, whereas the climb to Waimea is tolerable.

The best part of the ride was the descent back down to Kawaihae from Waimea. After a couple of gradual miles, you get into an 8 mile motorpacing session. The average gradient is 5%, and it is pretty consistent, so you can motor. The shoulder is a bit narrow, so you need to motor unless you like traffic passing close by.

I spent 14 mins going down this section in the 53x11 and 12, at threshold the whole time. It was really fun to work hard for so long going downhill.

Hangin' with the Lancinator

Ok, not exactly hanging with, more like near. Today I ran across Mr. Armstrong on the road, and spun around to ride with him for a bit. In ancient Hawaii it was Kapu (forbidden) to stand in the King's shadow, and the punishment was death. Lance was on his TT bike and looked focused, and I did not want to be a nuisance or piss him off. So, after a brief chat, I dropped back a bit to ride along and see if I could keep up.

It turns out he was on an easy day (according to a later tweet). I surmised as much since I kept up for 15 miles until he turned off. I was at threshold, he was cruising.....seems about right. When I saw him coming and turned, I was so excited that I was riding at a 175 heart rate, and he was not catching up. I had to chill out for a bit and slow down.

Here is a pic I took after I dropped back. The guy on the left is a CTS coach that was with him. He also had a follow car, which is how I knew it was him coming.

I felt a definite buzz during and afterwards. Silly? Perhaps. But I feel like I had a nosebleed seat to the early days of a Tour victory. I was hoping he was going to offer me a stagiare contract based purely on my pro tan, but apparently it takes more than that.

People either love or hate Lance, it seems. For me, he is a hero. I choose to believe that he wins clean for the same reason children believe in Santa Claus....it makes my world a happier place. Since it seems that most of his competitors have been caught doping, it really does not matter whether he did or not.....it just adjusts the magnitude of his accomplishments a bit. Either way, he is the greatest Tour champion of all time.

Sure, he is no Eddy Merckx, but the Tour is a lot more important now than it was in Eddy's day. Lance knows that it is the only race that matters to his sponsors, and he makes sure he wins. How important is the Tour to Lance? Did you know that he won the World Championship in 1993? Former world champions are entitled to wear the signature rainbow stripes on their sleeves. All of them do....except for Lance. He dropped the rainbow stripes around 2003 in favor of a yellow band, for Livestrong and the maillot jaune.

Update.....
Over the course of the trip, I saw Lance 4 times. The day after our little chat, I passed him going the other way on the Queen K. I sat up and gave him 8 fingers. He came up out of his time trial position to wave to me and give me a thumbs up....I thought that was pretty cool. 3 of the 4 times he was on the TT bike. Hmmm....I wonder where he thinks he is going to win the tour. I hope he does not neglect Kaloko Dr...he needs to keep up with Contador on the mountains before sticking it to him in the time trials.

On a geeky equipment note, I looked to me like he was wearing Bont shoes. Of course, they will have a swoosh on them if he wears them during races. I really like the design of the Bonts, but don't feel like parting with the cash for a third pair of road shoes just yet.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Puttin' on the miles

I have been getting some good rides in. The Big Island offers outstanding terrain. The Queen K highway has the widest shoulder I have ridden on, because it was built for the Ironman. You get 20 feet of room in most places, which is a nice buffer against the big trucks. You need to hit the road early, because once it gets hot you struggle to stay hydrated. I have been drinking a large bottle every 45-60 minutes depending on the terrain.

Speaking of terrain, there is everything you could ask for within easy reach of where I am staying in Waikoloa Beach. Want to keep it flat....no problem, stay on the Queen K. Want a Grand Tour HC climb, yeah, we've got those as well. I will do separate ride reports to give a better description of the more epic routes. Brad Sauber of Bicycle Adventures send me some suggested rides that were awesome.

There is a weird effect in Hawaii where your perspective gets skewed somewhat. The pic on the right looks like I am going downhill, and that is what my eyes were telling me. In fact, that section was dead flat, which is what the Garmin and my legs were telling me. I ran into this phenomenon in several places. Of course, on Kaloko Drive, after slogging up the steep pitches, the 4% sections seem flat, but that is "oh my god that hurt, I am glad that is over" effect, combined with the "hey man, this is your brain here, I am totally out of oxygen and shutting down, later" effect.

Ride Report - The Saddle



Feel like climbing for frickin' ever.....this is your ride. 35 miles outbound, climbing almost the whole way. There is a 3.5 mile flat section on the Belt Road, and then a couple of short downhills as you approach the summit. Other than that, you are grinding uphill. The average gradient works out to about 3.5%, but as usual in Hawaii, there are some double digit sections to make you cry. To the right is a pic of my Garmin from most of the way up the mountain. Yeah....5500 ft of climbing in 28 miles and still more to go.

The Saddle Road is also the worst maintained asphalt road I have ever ridden. There is a 3 mile section where it feels like you are riding on gravel strewn with potholes. A few years ago someone put one lane of newer tarmac down the middle of the road, so when there are no cars, you can ride on that. Traffic is not too heavy, but when you have to pull to the edge of the road, it is a bumpy ride. When you get up top, you are greeted with a spanking new section of highway with a big shoulder and smooth asphalt. The views up here are great.

video

Up top you get out of the vog, which is a mixture of moisture and sulfuric dioxide that you get on the Big Island because of the volcanic activity. Right now, the volcano's emissions are 10x normal, so there is a lot of vog. It just looks like haze. Apparently near Kilauea you can taste it, and it is probably not great for your lungs, but on the Kona side it never bothered me.

The unpleasant part of this ride is coming back down. Once off the summit, you have to contend with the 3 miles of bomb cratered road surface again, but this time at speed. Also, the rest of the Saddle Rd down to the Belt Rd is pretty bumpy. Riding it on the Ritchey was a nervous experience, thinking about how the fork is likely to turn inside out or frame break in half at any moment. From the Belt Rd it is smooth sailing back to Waikoloa Beach.

You need to come prepared for this ride. From Waikoloa Village, which is about 6 miles up the hill from Waikoloa Beach, there is nothing......I mean nothing.....in the way of services. There was supposed to be water at the girl scout camp near the top, but the gate was locked. Drink a lot on the way up to Waikoloa Village, and then refill your bottles and buy a couple of extra bottles for your pockets. I bought one extra bottle and I was totally dry at the top. Bring tools and 2 spare tubes. Worst case, you can probably get a ride back down if you have a mechanical. The road is moderately traveled.

I packed my Rapha Stowaway jacket to use on the way down. By the time I got up top, around 1030, it was not cold at 6,000 feet (~65º), and I probably could have gotten away without it. But, you are descending for a long time--35 mins down to the Belt Rd, and it kept me from cooling off too quickly. I left it behind on all my other rides. Since it is flat on top you at least have an opportunity for the sweat to dry off before you go back downhill, unlike Kaloko. I would rather have had another bottle of water in that pocket and a bit of newspaper to stuff down my jersey, old school style. I was holding on to the bars so hard over the rough road that my arms stayed warm from effort.

The queen stage would be to ride over the saddle to Hilo and back, which would be 140 miles and 14k feet of climbing. I did a half queen and feel pretty damn good about myself.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kaloko Drive--Terror at 5,000 feet.

Do you remember the classic Twilight Zone episode with the monster that is trying to tear the plane apart in mid-flight while William Shatner freaks out? Kaloko Drive is that monster, and your legs are the plane. And you will freak out. Madame Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, will beat your Haole ass.

How bad is Kaloko? It is hands down the toughest climb I have ever done. Lance rides it multiple times when he is here.

The legendary Alp D'Huez is about 8 miles long with an average gradient of 7.7%. Kaloko Drive itself is 6.5 miles at 8.5%, with 6 monstrous switchbacks where the road takes a lazy turn straight up the side of Hualalai volcano. You can spend minutes on the switchbacks, because they kick up into the teens (I saw 19% briefly on the Garmin) and slow you to a crawl. Kaloko alone would be HC by Tour standards at the end of a long stage (perhaps only 1st Category if it were early?). But at the top of Kaloko you take a left turn on HueHue St and you have another 0.75 miles at a ridiculous 15% average gradient, shown in the picture on the right. I have seen the video (here) of Lance climbing this section and he looks to be in severe pain. He is standing the whole way up HueHue. It literally broke me....I had to stop halfway up it. Lance did it in 46:44....I did it in about 70 mins [update: I cut 5 mins off Kaloko proper on 1/1, but did not do the last section].

But wait, there's more! Kaloko starts around 1400ft and climbs up to 5,000 at the top. I chose to get to it via Pia Lani St, which is 3.5 miles at 6.5% before flattening a bit (4%) on the Belt Rd and connecting to Kaloko.

To put this all in perspective, the climb from Alpine Dam to the top of Bofax, which I consider to be quite unpleasant, is 2.3 miles at 7.1% from the first switchback.

Taken as a whole, from when you point the bike uphill to when you stop climbing, it is 11 miles with an average gradient near 8%......that is Trés Hors Categorie. Ah, but the problem is that average. There are sections where it is only 4%. And you despise those sections. Because for every foot under 8%, there is a foot over. Enjoy the 4-6%, Haole, because Madame Pele's monster is waiting for you at the next turn to rip your legs off.

Look closely at my Garmin readout at right. I am turning over the pedals at 52rpm to make a bit over 5mph. I am at lactate threshold, and have been climbing for 76 mins and 10 miles, so the worst is still to come at the top. At this point I remember thinking I am in Hell, but really, I am just on the front porch. HueHue St awaits.

The trip up Kaloko took me 100 mins of ride time from when I turned off the Queen K and started climbing. That does not include breakdown time (physical, not mechanical).

The next day, my legs just hurt. My knee tendons and ligaments were sore from the low rpm grinding. My arms were sore from stabilizing my body to put power down. On the top section, my cadence was in the 30s. I missed my 34 tooth chainring....the Ritchey has a standard 39x53. Of course, having a 53x11 proved handy for the way down. Kaloko is pretty smooth, and you should be prepared to deploy your parachute if you really want to slow down, because brakes alone may not do the job. 45mph is a lot more exciting on a bike that was in 2 pieces not long ago.

I highly recommend doing Kaloko if you get the opportunity. Make sure you start the climb with 2 bottles. I did not really ride Kaloko so much as survive it, like when a green skier slowly stumbles down a black run. Nevertheless, it was a great test of will to keep going, and I feel like I am mentally stronger for having done it.

On an equipment note, my ridiculously expensive Assos FI13 kit really shined, as did my Time summer gloves. Getting up Kaloko is hot, sweaty work. The ridicujersey (my pet name for it because it costs so much) really did wick better than any other jersey I have, and the shorts are super comfy with good compression. Who cares that I could buy a whole bike for what the set costs. You need gloves in Hawaii. Normally I don't wear them, but your hands get really sweaty here, and you need to clean off your tires periodically to avoid flats.

More pics here...
Kolako Drive

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hawaii Training Camp

I am spending 2 weeks in Hawaii for Christmas with my family, and I am bringing my bike along so I can get some riding in. Now that I have young kids, the Hawaii trips are not as adventurous as they used to be. I did get in some kitesurfing last year on Maui, but in general, our activities are pretty limited by having to keep an eye on the kids. I am able to escape in the mornings for a ride while everyone else goes to breakfast.

I brought my Ritchey Breakaway. The Ritchey is a piece of crap, but it has one outstanding feature--the frame breaks in half so that you can fit it into a suitcase that complies (mostly) with airline regulations. This means I only pay for a normal suitcase, or $15-$25 each way, rather than $150. Previously I would just rent bikes, but the fit is never right, and I have paid a lot of money to rent junk. The compact travel setup also means it fits into the rental car, so my wife permits me to bring it.

Other than that very nice feature, it is all bad. The Ritchey manages to be heavy, yet not stiff, nor comfortable. The front fork is a travesty....I can hit the front brake hard at low speed and watch the dropout move a centimeter backwards.

But, the wheels go 'round, and I plan to get a lot of miles in the warm sunshine. Lance will probably show up after Christmas on his way to the Tour Down Under.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jesus Phone vs. the Cylon, with a guest appearance by the Nexus

I had a chance to play with a Motorola Droid for a bit a couple of weeks ago, and think about how it compares to my iPhone.

On the positive side, the network is much better.....better signal and faster than the iPhone. No surprise there, but an NYT article yesterday blames that on the iPhone's radio rather than AT&T.

For me, the Android killer app was not the nav (which was very cool), but the Dave Chappelle Soundboard. "I'm Rick James, bitch!" as a ringtone is hard to top. The nav was accurate....I have been using the Maps app on my iPhone as a simple nav for a while, and the Android version just makes this a lot better.

Size-wise, the Droid is not much thicker than the iPhone, but it squareness makes it feel a lot larger in a pocket than the iPhone. The physical keyboard is garbage and a waste of space.

App-wise, the iPhone OS is still way ahead, but I think there will be parity, at least of the useful apps I use, within 6 months.

A big issue for me is iTunes. I have a lot of music, videos and photos which are managed from iTunes/iPhoto and dumped into my phone. There is not an easy equivalent for Android yet, though I have seen a couple of beta products (eg. DoubleTwist) that may do the trick, without being quite as simple.

So, I figured I would wait until a Droid sans keyboard came out, and the Andriod ecosystem evolved a bit, before considering whether to jump. And l0! The Google Nexus appears!

I had my hands on one last night at an event. It looks sexy, it even feels sexy with its satiny rubbery plastic. It is thin, with a great screen. It only works on the T-Mobile network for now, but that is rumoured to change sometime next year. T-Mobile's network is a big unknown. They only recently even started turning on 3G.

This does make things interesting in the smartphone market. Having just set up a Blackberry for my mom, RIM seems to be in deep trouble. They will keep the corporate market for a while, but their OS is very clunky by comparison, and there are so few apps.

Android devices are already practically free on a contract, so they are going to really drive smartphone penetration. Some more apps and a media solution will bring Android up to parity for most users.

At that point, the iPhone may become a premium niche product the way Macs were a few years ago. Of course, Steve Jobs figured out how to conquer that problem, and he probably has a few tricks up his sleeve for the iPhone.

The closed environment of the app store is a pinch for developers, but a few are starting to go around native apps and use HTML5 in mobile safari instead.

It will be fun for phone geeks to watch.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sustainable Financial Models--broadcast TV and the Internet

There is an interesting article in today's NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/21/business/media/21network.html?ref=media) on the slow death of broadcast tv as a business model, in favour of cable tv, where a combination of ad revenue supplemented by subscriber fees provide greater stability and much higher operating margins.

I can't help but think of the analogue of the Internet, where many companies that have found success over the last 4 years did so with an advertising based model that is now under pressure.

The Internet equivalent of cable is the freemium service. An advertising supported free, basic offering is supplemented with subscription offerings. Many of the hot young companies gaining traction are using the freemium model.

The advertising only model is in such disarray that NBC is probably being sold to Comcast. Given the famous discipline of GE, NBC's corporate parent, that is a vote that the broadcast, advertising dependent model is mortally wounded.

There are still areas where advertising dependent models work on the Net, such as blogs, where the costs of production are sufficiently low. But for applications that have to support expensive development teams, you need something more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My thoughts on modern art

I have never really understood most modern art. Basically, if it looks like my 4 year old made it, then it might be art, but it is not worth more than $10. Of course, I would pay more for it if it were actually made by my 4 year old instead of some coked out "artist".

With that in mind, I give you the following post from the Chronicle.....

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/parenting/detail?entry_id=49433#commentform


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From the random but oddly fascinating stats department....

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/10/13/another-upside-to-e-zpass-healthier-babies/

Another Upside to E-ZPass: Healthier Babies

Not only has E-ZPass shortened commutes, it might be making babies healthier too.
Mothers who lived near a toll plaza with an E-ZPass had fewer instances of premature births and low birth-weight babies, according to a new study.

AFP/Getty Images
Babies born near toll plazas were more likely to be healthy after E-ZPass lanes were installed and helped reduce traffic congestion.
Janet Currie and Reed Walker of Columbia University’s Department of Economics compared mothers that lived within three kilometers of a toll plaza with those that lived within three kilometers of a major highway (but not near a toll plaza) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
By reducing congestion and emissions through the E-ZPass system, premature births dropped 10.8% and instances of low birth weight declined 11.8% for mothers within two kilometers of the toll plaza.
For those who lived three kilometers from the plaza, prematurity and low birth weight fell 7.3% and 8.4%, respectively.
The conclusions are of particular interest, the researchers say, because low birth weight has been linked to health problems in the future and lower educational attainment. But it also shows the effects of a system like E-ZPass that has an inherent value to consumers – reduced travel time – as well as peripheral benefits, such as reduced emissions and health benefits.
Previous estimates showed that E-ZPass, an electronic toll system that reads a tag mounted on the windshield without forcing the vehicle to stop, reduced traffic congestion by more than 85% in some plazas within its first year. Other studies revealed it may have cut harmful emissions by up to 50%.
But the E-ZPass study took that research a step further by trying to determine traffic congestion’s health effects.
The researchers used Vital Statistics Natality records, which cover all births in a state, from Pennsylvania for 1997 to 2002 and for New Jersey from 1994 to 2003. They then compared the change in the number of premature and low birth weight babies born to mothers near toll plazas with those born to mothers who were not near toll plazas before and after the E-ZPass.
With roughly 26% of homes located near congested areas, Currie and Walker concluded that “…nationwide reductions in prenatal exposure to traffic congestion could reduce preterm births by as many as 10,800 annually, a reduction that can be valued at $557 million per year,” the study states. “Since we have focused on only one of the possible health effects of traffic congestion, albeit an important one, the total health benefits of reducing pollution due to traffic congestion are likely to be much greater.”

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cavendish pulls a Zoolander



Mark Cavendish, the amazing sprinter for the Columbia HTC team who has been dominating the sprints this year, showed up at the podium yesterday to collect another green jersey. Except, whoops, he lost it during the stage to Thor Hushovd without realizing it, because Thor made it back after the climb to sprint with the main bunch for points, and Cav did not.

Do you think they had a walk-off afterwards?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dangers of the real-time stream

I spent Friday at a TechCrunch conference examining the real time web, which today is really Twitter and services based on Twitter. There are clearly real opportunities around the real time stream of information, and perhaps the most interesting part of the conference was Ron Conway's list of 10 ways Twitter could monetize, which totaled up to a $5bn market opportunity.

I wonder about the dangers of brief rapidfire "interactions". We have already become a soundbite culture that does not like to analyze or think too hard. Getting information 140 characters at a time exacerbates the trend. The Michael Jackson coverage is a great example of the power of the stream, and the danger. His death was all over Twitter long before traditional media outlets were reporting it. But at the time it was spreading, it now appears that it was impossible to confirm his death, so it was really just rumour.

Real time can be great, but usually what you get is data, not information, and in the deluge of noise, you may not pick up what is important. Sometimes it is good to slow down a little and think.

Interestingly, a report out this morning from a 15 yr old working for Morgan Stanley as an intern says that the next generation does not really use Twitter. I used to find it sort of useless as well, but now I see value in it as a micro-blogging platform.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lightlane....a cool solution for the wrong problem

This seems like a neat product.....



until one realizes that the problem is not that the motorist cannot see you....it is that they are an idiot and just not paying attention.

If you are going to put a frickin' laser beam on the frickin' bike, do it properly, like so...



Driver chatting on the cell phone and doesn't see you? No problem. When you pump 200 gigawatts into them, they will notice you in the split second before they vaporize.

Where this product is quite useful is in maintaining the moral high ground when caught riding drunk. "Sure I was weaving, officer, but I was staying in my lane."


Friday, June 19, 2009

What kind of geek are you?

Here is an easy way to determine what kind of geek you are? Are you currently standing in line outside an Apple store, twittering about how cool it is to be rained on while waiting for the new iPhone? Yes?--then you are a dumbass geek. Did you pre-order your iPhone 3GS, and are sitting comfy at home browsing p0rn while waiting for UPS to deliver the goods? Yes?--you are a diligent geek. Did you decide "ah, screw it, I don't need a new iPhone"? Yes?--you're no geek.

Did you buy a Palm Pre? Yes?--see dumbass geek above.

I have decided to wait for a week until thing settle down, which gives me time to explain to my wife, whose older iPhone is eligible for the cheap upgrade, why she really needs my 3G, and should let me have the 3GS.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Product Review--Crank Bros mini pump



This pump is outstanding if you are a mouse. I got it because I needed a pump to travel with that had a gauge on it. This pump must be targeted at those with really, really, really small wheels, because it pumps a 1/2 thimblefull of air at a time. It took me 20 strokes to get a 1psi increase in pressure. Since I had to mostly deflate my tires to pack the wheels into the travel case, I got a nice long upper body workout pumping them up.

Lucky for me, my tires lose about 5psi a day, so I can stay in shape. Actually, I have just been riding to the nearest shop and borrowing a floor pump. I don't want to get all Hans & Frans.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stranger in a strange land

I am up in Seattle this week on vacation. Yes, I realize that I am unemployed, but deciding whether to ride, go for a paddle, or catch Sally Jessy Raphael reruns is exhausting, and I needed a break.

I wanted to keep riding while I am here, so I had a look at options for a bike here. $500 to rent a decent bike for a week seemed ridiculous, so I looked at travel bikes. I am not secure enough in my manhood to ride a small-wheeled clown bike, so I picked up a Ritchey Breakaway.

I picked the bike up on Thursday, and flew up on Friday. 6 beers into a party on Friday night, someone told me about the Flying Wheels, Washington's biggest century ride, taking place the next morning. What better way to break in a new bike than by riding too far? Better have a couple more beers.

I did the Beardsley Hangover Start® the next morning. The century started at 8am. I made it to the start line at about 945, when the stragglers for the 65 and 45 mile options were rolling out.

Ever wonder who buys all those fake beer company jerseys? Now I know. Those jerseys must weigh a lot, because lots of people were walking up the small climbs. I finally hooked up with a guy who was just out on a training ride and hammered at 25mph for an hour. That cured any thoughts of doing the full 100 miles. I caught up with the 100 milers and had a nice run back to the start.

The bike was great....it has been a while since I rode a steel bike. There is just something magical about the ride of steel. I don't know what it is, but enough people tell me so that it must be true. Pity about the back breaking (for me) 6cm drop from saddle to bars. I would buy a new stem, but I spent my money on white bar tape and a white saddle to look more Euro.

10 Cycling Myths Busted

See the article here, or the full URL below.

http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/article/fitness-10-cycling-myths-busted-21925?CPN=RSS&SOURCE=BRGENHOME

Note that the bit on dehydration not impacting performance is really only meant to apply to minor dehydration, I think. I have seen lots of studies showing that significant dehydration negatively impacts strength by screwing up the pH balance in muscle cells.

Regarding myth #1, no longer will your significant other have the excuse "not tonight honey, you have to ride in the morning".

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cycling--I won!

I am the man! #1!

I won the Friends of Tamarancho Invitational Mountain Bike Race today. Well, I won the beginner class. Er, actually, the beginner masters class. So I am the king of the weak, the old and the apathetic. Still, I won a nice pair of socks and a water bottle, and I only had to suffer mightily for 45 minutes to do it. Most categories got to play for 2 hours and 3 times up the unpleasant Dead Heifer climb.

Tamarancho is the only mtb race in Marin, run on the Camp Tamarancho Boy Scout reservation. It features the best legal singletrack in the county, and, except for race day, bikes are required to stay on the singletrack and off the fire roads--no problem.

The most notable feature of the course was the Dead Heifer fire road climb. Short, but very steep, and barely rideable for most (nobody in my group). Why do they call it Dead Heifer? It is too steep for a cow to stand on, much less die on. Maybe they used to push cows off the top of it.

I ran up most of it and was pretty cross-eyed when I got to the top, but I crested in the lead of the beginner class (at the time I did not know they had a masters subcategory). I was pretty excited, but could not rest on my laurels as I was being chased. 15 minutes later I was still hammering in the front, with my pursuer about 15 seconds behind. The training crits in Santa Rosa were definitely paying dividends now.

I managed to crash into a tree in a section that required zigging and zagging at the same time. My watch took the brunch of it, broke off and tumbled down the hill.

ooops.....glad I hit the watch first

I watched my beloved Suunto fall for about 5 seconds while I thought about whether to keep going or go get it. I decided to go get it, and when I got back on my bike, 2nd place was right behind me. I got passed on an uphill section, but figured I would just hang on and then sprint around him. That was a great plan, but he was not playing along. He flew through the last singletrack section and opened a gap that I could not close. I managed 2 more minor crashes thanks to severe oxygen deficit before I decided to slow down and enjoy/survive the ride.

The team did well as always. Scott got 2nd in the Cat 1 masters, which has lots of fast guys, and Ann took 3rd in the ladies' cat 1 masters.

Cycling--Tuesday Night Twilights--I hardly knew ya.

Last Tuesday (6/2) marked my second and perhaps last time participating in the Tuesday Night Twilight training crit series in Santa Rosa. It was the 6th race of the series, but I am slow to catch on to good things, and only made it up there the last two weeks.

It is a shame that they currently have no plans to continue them--their permit was only for 6 races this year. The course is great--fast, safe and easy to park. Unlike many crits, the corners are wide enough to pedal through them at full tilt, and even the Cat 5 racers seem unable to hurt ourselves (except of course my legs). There are 3 races--first off is the Cat 4/5 for 30 minutes, followed by the 3/4 and finally the slightly longer 1/2/3 race. The arrangement allows most people to race twice and get at least an hour's thrashing.

Last week was my first road race in about 20 years. I managed to hold up the back end of the 4/5 race, and then hang in the 3/4 for about 15 minutes before I had a mechanical (my legs broke). This week my goal was to see the front end of the pack, and finish the 3/4 race. The 4/5 race has "mentors" who keep folks out of trouble, although they did nothing when the recently crowned state criterium champ tried to put me in the curb. Fortunately, he was the champ in the 10-12 year old category, and weighed less than my front wheel, so I was able to fend him off. I spent the whole race at or above lactate threshold--fun.

After a cool down lap it was time to go for the 3/4 race. The 3/4s are actually slightly easier for me. In the 4/5 race, people do weird things like brake going into corners. I am too damn old to be sprinting out of every corner, so I generally don't like to brake going in. The 3/4 race is slightly faster, but a lot smoother. I took Todd's advice that the best way to ride the rhythm I wanted was to go to the front and set it. After hammering full speed through several corners, I looked back and was surprised to see that, except for one guy, the field did not think much of my pace and was pottering along a hundred meters back. My breakaway companion declared that it was time to go, and the prime bell rang. I tucked on his wheel as we upped the speed again, and shortly thereafter got a note from the engine room--"we're done". My break companion won the prime; I spent the rest of the race in familiar territory at the back of the pack, but I made it all the way to the line.

Scott and Todd cleaned up, winning primes and taking 2nd and 3rd in the 3/4 race. Their reward was as much booze as they could carry.


to the victors, the spoils

The prizes at this series are better than any other race I have been to. Ronnie Lenzi and the NorCal Bikesport team do a great job and everything runs smoothly. It is impressive for a "training" race. It is amazing how different racing is from training and club rides. The speed and constant intensity mean that you do have to race to train for racing.

And after the race, of course, the feast. We patronized a local authentic latin restaurant to replace all the grease we burned racing. Good times!

ahhh, sweet beer

Friday, May 8, 2009

What am I doing here?

I want to be one of the cool kids. MySpace? Dying. Friendster? Dead. Facebook? Cool, but everybody is on it. Twitter? Makes my thumbs hurt. Blogging is the brave new frontier of content (and content is king).

This is also part of my effort at shameless self promotion. In the digital age, the value of your name takes on a global aspect. What is the first result when you google your name (go ahead, google yourself, it's naughty)? Hope that it is you, but it probably is not. Luckily for me, it is (for now). The fruit of my personal SEO (search engine optimization) project. This blog is just another element of that effort to make sure that Google knows that I am me.

So what to write about? Hmmm.....I'll figure that out later.