Tuesday, October 31, 2006

USA Geezer All-Stars Set to Invade New Zealand!

I caught up to The Vampire today as he was finishing his ride so I talked to him a bit. He's leaving tomorrow for New Zealand to race in the UCI 2.2 Tour of Southland with the team that Bob Coble brings there each year. The 2006 crew will be Walker, Thurlow Rogers, Steve Tilford, Bob, and Adam Bergman (all I'll say about Bergman is: check out the last paragraph of yesterday's post).

Now you've got to be pulling for Chris, Thurlow, and Tilford because at 45, 46, and 46, they must be the oldest team in the race. By far. Bob (also 46) will be lucky to make the time cuts, after all, he doesn't always hold on over Goob on the group rides. But a nicer guy you'll never find. And he's a giver to the sport of bike racing, from helping young riders to promoting quality races, he makes up for the rest of us slackers. Regarding how the 5th member of the team does... who cares.

Well back to Walker... As we talked I started to half-wheel him and his breathing began to get a little ragged. His infamous, ever-present snot string began to droop toward the top-tube of his spotless Time bike and it was clear I was putting him in some difficulty. I must admit that I was enjoying it, but still I decided to back off just a bit to about 28 mph. That was still probably a little fast because I think he's got a slight cold. (No sharing water bottles down under or you'll all be hacking!!) Anyway, after exchanging a few more pleasantries, I surged away from him at about 40 mph and let him finish his ride in peace. Oh, did I forget to mention that I was in a car talking to him through the passenger window?

Monday, October 30, 2006

How to Lose One Pound in 15 Minutes!

Peer pressure drove me to donate a pint today. It's a bit scary, and I personally don't intend to make a habit out of it, but I suppose it's the right thing to do now and then. The pre-donation interview was more personal than I expected, but when your history is as boring as mine, it's no big deal.

Anyway, the blood-bank person said "no vigorous exercise for 24 hours" so I guess that would include the Tuesday TTT session. Well, that's a disappointment! Apparently it takes a few weeks to fully regenerate the lost red blood cells, so I'm in for an interesting experiment in "reverse blood doping"... Is how I felt in training last week (relative to this week) comparable to the improvement after getting a Dr. Fuentes boost in the TdF??

Hey what about this... could there be any physiological adaptations due to training hard soon after donating blood? Adaptations that would be beneficial after the blood is regenerated? And further, if there is, would that be cheating? Some people think it's cheating to use an altitude tent, or even one of these devices (they sponsor Symmetrics so Jake has tried one). Where do you draw the line? The obvious answer is The Rule Book. It's black and white--if you blood dope, use EPO or any other banned drug, you are a cheating scumbag. Otherwise, knock yourself out.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Training - Week 4

Very busy week w/ work but still got in five good rides. A little bit of right knee pain.

Number of rides: 5
Riding time: 10 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 3 hrs
Best ride of the week: Sunday 8:00 roco then came back and met the 9:00 group; 5 hr ride felt good.
Other: 1 hr running
Notes: OSM 15:59 (wind assist) Thursday

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Problem with Working from Home...

...it's there waiting for you just 20 feet away! You can't escape... you just have to finish it off. But then again, if you're a software developer, it's never finished!! How does that saying go... "better is the enemy of good enough!?!"

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Training - Week 3

A good week. Noticeable increase in climbing power at threshold.

Number of rides: 6
Riding time: 12 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 4 hrs
Best ride of the week: Wednesday; Painted Cave-Stage Coach-Painted Cave; ran into Lindsay up there and rode with him.
Worst ride of the week: Tuesday; cruising on bike path and got stung/bit by big bug.
Other: 1 hr running
Notes: 16:54 OSM Thursday; 41:45 PC Sunday

Group Ride Tidbits

Yesterday was my first weekend group ride in about a month and it was a fun time seeing the gang and catching up. From a purely selfish training perspective, the Sat/Sun group rides in SB are not optimal because it takes time to get down there, with a lot stopping at lights and signs. And then the ride itself is only ~2 hours, with less than an hour at training intensities (although you could consider the other hour as LSD training). But I think doing the group rides is an important part of belonging to the local cycling/racing community. People bond on group rides. We're all passionate about the sport and we share many common experiences.

But that's not what this post is about...

It's an annual offseason ritual to gossip about who will be riding for which team in the upcoming season. Also, every year some new teams are born and a few old ones die. Two situations that I learned about recently are pretty interesting:

Cody says he'll be riding for the Sierra-Nevada pro team next year. That's a great opportunity if it comes true. Cody is the real deal and is on a steep upward trajectory. The kid got 2nd in the elite natz 15 km scratch race on the track a couple weeks ago ...as a junior!! Plus, he's been at the front of some pretty good p/1/2 field sprints this year too. Cody will continue to improve a lot with advice from guys like Jonas Carney and Kurt Stockton (who owns the team). Part of why Cody has become so good is that he is very dedicated and serious about his training, which is not common with juniors. There were a lot of times this last year when Cody would add on a couple of solo hours beyond the group rides. It takes discipline to pass right by your house (with its frig and comfy couch) after already getting in three hours and continue on for a few more. That's the difference between guys that get results and the rest of us ...we go home or sit at the coffee shop. Anyway, I didn't get to talk to Cody much about the team situation but I'm guessing it helped that Kurt has SB connections from the old days.

Now we transition to the older end of the bike-racer-age spectrum, and (awkwardly) from KS to Doug K. After being courted for at least a year, Chris Walker is making the jump from Labor Power to the Time Factory Team. Doug has always been a fan of CW because he respects his gritty style and that he races a lot. Plus he thinks CW and Jock Boyer will be a good combo when they race together. Maybe the two of them can take on Lindsay ...or not! I think it's a good move for Chris. MKA was great to CW the last couple of years with Labor, but Chris doesn't fit the whole SoCal masters ego scene and he didn't like being pressured to race 35+ and 45+.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

YouTube: Long Beach Marathon

OK, it seems that google video can't handle the data rate. YouTube works better. I wonder what will happen once Google incorporates YouTube into its empire??

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Long Beach Marathon Video

Long Beach Marathon

OK, after Saturday's epic and world-famous cross-country race at Lake Los Carneros, Gina and I (and Steve M.) headed south for a little run called the Long Beach Marathon. Since those two slackers didn't race on Saturday--and I did--it made sense that they should run Sunday while I would take the job of cheerleader, chief photog, and extra-clothing carrier.

The expo was typical--lots of booths with every gadget and clothing item that you cannot live without. One booth was seriously trying to sell little cardboard fold-up bike kick-stands. Yeah, I gotta have one of those! We had a wild Saturday night on the dynamic and bustling Long Beach waterfront ...dinner at P.F. Changs (gluten-free menu) and to bed by 9:00 pm. In truth, Long Beach was much nicer than I was expecting.

An early rise and trot to the marathon start area was all the warm-up we needed. Well, that and the mandatory porta-pottie trips. Kudos to the promoter for having enough of those. The gun went off at 7:30 and Gina and Steve spent the next 3 hours and 20'ish minutes cruising with 2,000 other crazy fools. Seriously, they both had awesome races, finishing strong and still able to walk and talk afterward ...although I suppose talking is never a problem for either of those two. We joined some of the other SB-area racers--all of whom did very well--for lunch and then headed home. Thanks to my Mom for watching the little dudes until we got back!

I snapped a bazillion pictures and video clips, most of which were terrible, and assembled a 7-minute video/slide-show. It is currently uploading to Google Video and I'll post a link to it if it ever finishes uploading.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Training - Weak Too (err, I mean Week 2)

Only rode Mon-through-Fri because of weekend trip to Long Beach for Gina's marathon.

Number of rides: 5
Time riding: 7 hrs
Time in mid-high aerobic zone: 2.5 hrs
Best ride of the week: Tuesday lunch ride (small group, hard and fast rotation)
Other: x-c running race (5 miles, 35 min)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Lake Los Carneros X-Country

Although I can easily skip the Monday night time trials that pass by within spitting distance of my house, I felt compelled to run the cross-country running race a few blocks away at Lake Los Carneros. This is a fun low-key race on the trails we run regularly. Not sure why, but this year a bunch of SB's fastest people showed up.

Apparently you need a PhD in Topology (knot-theory emphasis) to fully grasp the intricacies of this 5-mile course. Even promoter Jim Kornell goofed a couple of times explaining it! Since this is my backyard, I figured everyone should simply stay behind me and I would keep them on course. That lasted about 2 seconds after the gun went off.

I slotted in behind Johnny O. for the first mile but then realized I would literally explode if I tried to maintain his pace.

Eventually, three of us--Ricky Ho, Mariann Thomas, and I--settled into a nice pace and ran most of the second half together. A minute after this picture was snapped, Mariann pulled in front. Ricky and I bumped, kicked, clawed, and elbowed each other in a fight for her wheel, but my criterium skills won out and I had a very pleasant mile 4.

As we entered the final inner loop, my ego took over and I passed her and surged a bit. Ricky laughed, thought to himself "is that all you got?", and dropped me like a rock in the final 1/4 mile.

Not sure how all the fast people did. Aaron Gillen won (see the picture where he is floating in air and his leg speed was too fast for focus) and a bunch of other people went fast too. But who cares about them...

...well, if you do care, visit here for the results.

Thanks to Gina for taking the race pictures.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Meet My New Teammates

I struggled deeply with the decision to switch teams for next year. I mean, I really like the teammates I've had these last three years. They're great guys--class acts all around. Doctors, professors, scientists, business owners... pillars of the community... beacons of light and goodness in an increasingly base and crass world.

Yet I switched teams anyway.

Although I didn't know these new guys as well, they seemed nice enough... always laughing and happy... little did I know!

Click here to see the disturbing video I found of a few of my new teammates.

(Thanks to Stuart from whom I lifted the incriminating picture.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My Massive Manly Mango!

There had been much snickering about our Mango tree. Three years in the ground already, and no fruit production at all... not a single offspring. Was it firing blanks, so to speak? I was getting concerned.

This spring looked like all those previous--hundreds of little fruits set ...budding with the promise of tasty goodness. Then as soon as I started to hope, they began to drop off, falling onto the dirt like little green BB's, pissing me off more and more each day. I decided to rip the sucka out of the ground after the last one dropped.

A few weeks went by, and soon there was only one little Mango left, hanging on by a flimsy stem. It wasn't much bigger than an almond. And it didn't drop. As it bulked up through the summer, I was sure that wussy little tree couldn't hold on to it. By September it probably outweighed all the leaves and branches combined. We're now well into October, and I think it's going to make it.

I'm proud to present to you: my first Mango! And size does matter!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hey, I Got Links Now!

One of my favorite things about other people's blogs is the links they provide. I can easily "waste" an hour going on a journey following links from blog to blog to blog. I suppose it's not necessarily wasted time, depending on the blog stops along the way.

So now that I have a blog, I better have some links too ...just in case anyone ever actually sees this mess! I'll try to keep them updated and add good ones to the list.

To start with, I've got a few links for local (Santa Barbara area) news. The SB News Press is in a downward spiral and it's only a matter of time before we bail if the current trend continues. I'd really like to add a link with local sports coverage.

Bike racing links include the usual sites most cyclists already know about, plus some others that maybe aren't as well known. E.g., most of my cycling friends have never heard of rbr (the usenet newsgroup rec.bicycles.racing) so I have a link to the Google flavor of rbr. Also listed are links to sites started and run by former locals, Bicirace (Gregor Brown) and Thebroadbandracer (Ben Edwards). Steephill is a great site for pictures and video clips from NorCal racing and more. Finally, so us locals can keep up with Jake's exploits now that he's gone, I have listed the Symmetrics team site.

Although I don't know personally most of the people whose blogs I've listed here, I have raced with many of them and I enjoy reading their stories... particularly the ones that cover California racing. A couple of blogs put up some nice video pretty often: Hans Kellner and Wired Cola make great video of cyclocross. Ride Trash (from a Cielo Velo guy!) is funny but crude... let's just say I'm not inviting my 11 year old in to read it with me! Anyway, if anyone reads this and has other good blogs to offer, let me know and I'll add them.

I seem to always be searching for tidbits of farming or gardening info, so I'll be adding to the collection of organic gardening, sustainability, and permaculture links. The ones listed are quite good and informative with respect to permaculture and organic gardening at home and locally.

Finally, a few running links for any masochists that read this. The SBAA site maintained by Jim Kornell is THE source for local running news. Too bad the cycling community doesn't have something similar. Now that brings up a great, never-ending topic to discuss someday: why is the local cycling community so kooky and quirky compared to the running community? ...and I say that affectionately of course!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Training - Week #1

A fairly weak week to begin training for 2007...

Number of rides: 6
Time riding: 8 hrs
Time in mid-high aerobic zone: 2 hrs
Best ride of the week: climbing Painted Caves on Wednesday
Other: ~2 hrs running

Cancer Center Run

Gina, Brian, and I all ran the Cancer Center run this morning in Montecito. Gina just cruised the 10k at her marathon pace (Long Beach next weekend!!), I suffered through the 10k with major slowdownitis in the second half. Brian did the 5k--way to go McFlurry! (That's him in the picture.)

5k results and 10k results.

Nice gathering afterward with catered brunch by the Biltmore and really good raffle prizes, e.g., dinners for two at Sage and Onion, Brothers, Wine Tasting tours, and a trip to Hawaii. Naturally the Mileys won something--they have major good karma!

But the big winner of the day was the Cancer Center... over 600 participants @ $50 entry, plus any additional fundraising = $30K minimum!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sweet Peppers

I liked the way these peppers looked, almost ripe but not quite...

So I picked them.

Saturday Group Ride in Santa Barbara

Here's the video I talked about yesterday...

Friday, October 06, 2006

I Got a Helmet Cam

These guys inspired me to start making some videos of cycling and bike races...

...so I bought a simple helmet camera from Oregon Scientific and, so far, it has been a lot of fun. I've got two more on the way, one for Ron and a second one for me.

I took the camera on the Saturday 8:00 roco ride two weeks ago and shot some footage, but it turns out that was the easy part. Here were the subsequent steps to making the movie:

  1. I download the avi files to the computer through the USB port and then imported them into a nice open-source freeware program called VirtualDub that provides some handy video editing tools and filters. The raw footage from the camera is very shaky because of road vibrations and my head bobbling around, so I used a really cool filter called Deshaker that processes the video and tries to compensate for unwanted camera motion. Of course, the camera actually is moving, so it's a bit tricky to get it to do the right thing. Trial and error...
  2. Once I was happy with the filtered video, I imported it into the movie-making program called Adobe Premier Elements which allows the user to split clips, add transitions and text, mix video and audio, and much more.
  3. Next I used Audacity to shorten and compress some music and voice clips, which I then added to the movie in Premier Elements. (more on this below)
  4. I then added some voices using a text-to-voice web demo program from AT&T Labs.
  5. Finally, using Snagit I captured some clips of the funny monkey from the CareerBuilder monk-e-mail site, and then mixed them into the movie.
  6. Once the movie was together in Premier Elements, I had to export it in a video format such as avi, mpeg, wmv, etc. and there are a lot of settings to choose that impact quality and file size. I was unable to get much compression with either mpeg or avi so I settled on the Windows format (wmv).
  7. Finally, I uploaded it to Google Video and, lo-and-behold, it was on the web (albeit with somewhat worse quality than on my PC).

I'm really excited to make story-telling videos of races next year. I think an in-the-peloton view can add a lot, and be very entertaining (at least to the participants!). So if you're in a race next year and you see a dorky guy who looks like the borg, "smile, you're on candid camera!"

Note: I am concerned that my use of the music in my first video may violate the "fair use" conventions for copyrighted material. On the side that says it's ok... (1) it's not commercial and it doesn't deprive the artists of any revenue, and (2) the movie uses only a portion of the songs and the quality is significantly reduced. On the side that says it's not ok... well, the songs are copyrighted. I'll have to research and soul-search a bit further...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

U.S. Track Nationals - Congrats to Adam Duvendeck

Local good guy Adam Duvendeck winning the Elite Keirin national championship. Not just winning... going off the front and beating four guys all from the same team. Very cool!

SB News Distress

We may finally have to quit the SB News Press. Gina was crushed to learn that Starshine Roshell resigned the other day, giving her editor an "FU" on the way out the door. What a disaster. It's like watching a trainwreck (not that I've ever done that) in slow motion. Gut wrenching, yet hard to take your eyes off of it.

Thanks to
Craig Smith (a cyclist no less!) for keeping us all up-to-date about the SBNP saga and thanks to sites like Edhat for local news.