Thursday, December 27, 2007

-6 Degrees F

That's how cold it was this morning when I got up. No, not in Santa Barbara. We're up by Truckee for an extended-family gathering and some snow fun. A month ago there was no white stuff... now it is falling non-stop. Here's the view out my door across a frozen lake...

Much warmer in the lodge with xmas cookies and drinks!

A bit more skiing and snow play and then back to reality (well, as close to reality as can be in SB!)

Rewinding a bit... What a great three days of riding last weekend, starting with the Saturday group ride in SB. As I met the gang heading down State St., I spied one skinny black-and-red-clad rider whose economical pedaling could only be that of Christian Walker. Indeed, it's been at least ten years since Vampy did a group ride but it seems that even he eventually tires of solo daily Solvang loops. We were all grateful that he set a just-right tempo up the Casitas hills.

24 hours later I was meeting the Alto Velo "A ride" where it was nice to reconnect with old friend Kevin Merritt (emphasis on old! ...just kiddin') He leads a great ride and Sunday was no exception. 70 miles on beautiful roads across the SF peninsula to the coast. (I think we did the Pescadero RR course in reverse, but I can't say for sure.) It was also nice to climb the world famous Old La Honda road which is very similar to Old San Marcos in grade and distance. Lots of famous riders have climbed OLH for time and I hear the records are legend in NorCal. Anyway, the group (~20) was very controlled and the tempo was perfect. That was partly due to superstars James Mattis and Kathryn Curi who were both riding a very methodical power level.

And then Monday I had a really pleasant ride up Mt. Hamilton with Craig Nunes, leader of the Rock Solid Cycling team in SLO. It's amazing how easily you can climb 5,000 ft when chatting non-stop. The wind was howling and freezing at the top and we wondered about the Tour of California making it over in mid-February. Would a snow-storm force a last-minute reroute, or would we have our own local Gavia Pass stage ala Andy Hampsten's Giro? We'll see in two months!


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mt. Hamilton and/or Calaveras Rd. Monday?

Anybody want to ride up at a comfortable tempo on Monday morning? email me (address over on the right). Will have spotty internet access but will check sometime Sunday.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How Do You Lean?

We all know that one dimension (Left v. Right) doesn't even come close to fully characterizing a person's views. 2-D is a nice improvement, although the best choice of axes is debatable. I found a quick online test that works to characterize people based on their economic and social views. Here's the result of my test:

Go here to take the test yourself. Its free and anonymous.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Procrastination, or Throwin' it in the Dumpster

Of my many character flaws, the one that annoys me the most is my tendency to procrastinate. It's so illogical. Things that I know need to get done... things that, if not done expediently, will only get more difficult and/or expensive.

Take my latest, for example. This van being towed away is one we had for over ten years, and for much of that time, it was a good vehicle. Lots of trips to bike races, some camping trips, NorCal family visits, and uncountably many kid carpools. Last winter we upgraded to something newer. Now, a normal person would have been rid of the old van within a week via craigslist, the classifieds, or a donation. Not me. I figured I could use it as a utility-type vehicle for hauling stuff (because my little pick-up truck doesn't run right now, but that's a different procrastination story).

In actuality, the van just sat unused in front of our house and died a slow neglected death. The paint peeled, the tires rotted, the battery corroded, and all manner of insects and spiders took up residence inside. Registration came due, and it needed to be smogged. How to get to the smog station? I registered it as non-operational. Check that ...I called Gina and had her send in the registration because I was out-of-town the day it was due! sigh...

Gina gave me an ultimatum: one way or another, be rid of that van by Christmas.

So I decided the lowest hassle-factor approach was to donate it. Amazingly, places like Cars-4-Causes will haul away your vehicle, running or not, and sell it so that after their expenses you get a small charitable-donation tax write-off. In my case, I'm sure it will be very small. Or zero.

What's the point of this story? Well, this van cost around $20K new, and had I taken care of it properly and not neglected it, well then as either a donation or a sale, it would have been a useful vehicle for somebody. As it is--or was--I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up in the junkyard being scavenged for parts. It's kind of a waste.

But let me tell you my all-time most embarrassing procrastination story...

Way back in the early-to-mid 80's when I was an undergraduate Math student at UCSB, I had a part-time job as a Reader. For those that don't know, a Reader is a person who corrects homework. After years and years of teaching, the last thing a professor wants to do is correct 100 sophomore math homeworks every week. So instead they hire some poor upper-division student with good grades to do it. I fit that description, especially the poor part. As I recall, I was allocated something like five hours a week per class and was paid, oh I don't remember, maybe $8 per hour. That'll buy some beans and rice for sure.

The first class I got (Intro Differential Equations) was taught by one of my favorite professors, kooky old Dr. Rosenfeld with Albert Einstein hair and everything. Our arrangement was pretty simple: he'd put the weekly homework from his 30-40 students in my department mailbox on Friday, and I would correct them and return them by the next Friday morning. I took my responsibility very seriously, carefully correcting every problem and providing detailed comments to the students. When they were totally off base, I would do the problem for them and explain the logic. Often the problems were hard for me too. I put more time into that job than any of my own classes, by far. It meant a lot to me to do a good job for Dr. Rosenfeld and it didn't bother me that I was putting in two or three times more hours a week than what I was being paid for.

I was given Linear Algebra the next two quarters, and despite the slightly larger class size, I continued to provide detailed comments and corrections on the homeworks. Again I liked and respected the professor and cared about doing a good job. It also helped that Linear Algebra was a strong subject for me at the time.

Then, in the last quarter of my senior year, I was given a big Freshman Calculus class, maybe 100 students. I met with the instructor at the beginning of the quarter to discuss our arrangement and for some reason unknown-to-me, our meeting was awkward. He was a grad student, only a couple years older than me, and this was probably his first teaching assignment. I wished I liked him, but I didn't. But this was business and our agreed-upon arrangement was typical--weekly homework and I'd correct and return it by the time the next batch was due.

I was floored when I saw the first batch of homework in my mailbox. The stack must have been over 200 pages, sloppily bound together with a thick rubber band. Uh oh.

Side note: perhaps only fellow procrastinators will understand this, but isn't ironic how the bigger the job is, the more likely it is that you'll procrastinate on it?

I really wanted to get that homework corrected, really I did, but I couldn't reconcile the amount of work with my allotted hours. Of course, the department expected you to scale down the detail of the work with the quantity, for example, only correcting every other question or something similar.

The stack sat on my desk all week and I probably started working on it Thursday night. Most likely I got about half way through and realized I couldn't finish. OK, no big deal... I'd just go explain that I had a busy week and couldn't finish it all. I'd have it done by Monday for sure.

Friday morning I walked into the Math department ready for an awkward conversation, and the first thing I saw was another huge stack of homework in my box!! I lost my nerve, scooped up the new stack, and quietly slinked on out of the building.

Now I had two piles on my desk. I don't really remember the details, but I probably made some more progress on the week-1 homework but I did not finish it. You see, not to make excuses, but I was a UCSB senior living on ocean-side Del Playa and I had just met my sweetie Gina. It was pretty easy to ignore those piles on my desk.

All week I expected a phone call from a somewhat-perturbed instructor, but it never came. When Friday rolled around I found yet another stack in my mailbox. I couldn't believe it. What could those students be thinking, and what was the instructor telling them?? Hmmmmm.

By this time I was pretty sure I wouldn't be finishing all the work, but tried to concoct a scheme to possibly save the situation... my dog ate the homework... I lost it... somebody stole it... I turned it in and you lost it. I couldn't come up with anything plausible. Needless to say, I wasn't turning in my timecard to get paid. At least I was still honest.

The next two weeks brought two more homework stacks, and still no phone call or note or any attempt at contact from the instructor. Truly bizarre! The stack of homework from 100 UCSB Freshman now exceeded 1,000 sheets of paper. God only knows how many hours of work it represented.

I stopped going into the Math department.

The mind of a pathological procrastinator is a strange place indeed. I'd see that stack of homework on my desk every single day, and it would invariably bring on a dull sense of dread and embarrassment... and then I'd ignore it and get on with my day.

And then I finally decided to deal with it...
...that's right, I threw the entire stack of homework into the dumpster outside my apartment.

Until now, the only person who knew about the Dumpster Incident was Gina. ...well, I suppose all those Freshman probably knew something was amiss too, but hey, they were just faceless names on 1,000 pieces of paper to me.

But seriously, I was (and still am) sincerely sorry for my lack of responsibility in that situation. I have no idea whether or not procrastination represents a real psychological disorder, or perhaps it's a symptom of something else, but I for one live with it as a constant challenge. Whenever I start letting something important slip too long, I think back to the Dumpster Incident, and then try to make some progress.

Training Week -- 12/10 - 12/16

Slipping backwards a bit... sickness and motivation problems. Hard to believe the first race is in 6 weeks time!

Number of rides: 5
Riding time: 8 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 2 hrs
Best ride of the week: Saturday group ride
Other: nothing
- Had a flu-like sickness that started immediately after the Tuesday lunch-ride sprint, and then ebbed-and-flowed (literally) through Sunday. Seems to be gone now.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

News Flash from Kold KC!

Gary D'Velo got the silver in the CX nationals this morning, 30-39 B race! Results here. Good job Gary--can't wait to hear the stories!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Well Shut Me Up!!

Seems perhaps my stupid rollers tricks inspired somebody with real skills.
Warning: if music full of F-bombs offends, then you might want to mute it.

Now I gotta get me a fixie and try it.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Weekend W-w-w-wrap-Up

Some people need their weekends for recharging physical and mental batteries. Rest and relaxation... sleep-in late... big greazzy breakfast... guilt-free afternoon couch time.

Not me. I prefer the Sunday-night sensations of a light buzz, muscle-twitchy, total-body fatigue ...yet with neurons still firing full blast as your brain tries to catch up with everything it ingested the prior 48 hours.

This was one of those weekends.

Saturday: out the door at 7:00 AM to catch the 8:00 roco ride. Road-master Gary was hoping for a big team turnout, and the Platinum boys didn't disappoint. We rode with the group to the second Casitas climb, and then split off for some photos and some more serious climbing (kids, that means Gibraltar). Despite knowing we were in for 5+ hours, I decided to do some big-gear strength work on the hills which left my legs a bit wobbly. Only seven of us continued all the way up Gib, and the higher we got, the nastier the weather became. The top was wet, windy, and cold. Instead of feeling sorry for myself (and my companions) because of our frozen hands and bonking bodies, I was struck with the following thought: If you gnarled up the pavement even worse along E. Camino Cielo, dropped the temps another 10-20 degrees and cranked the wind up to a gusty 30 mph, added 2+ hours, and upped our speed 5-10 mph, well, then you'd have your basic spring classic in Europe. We better not be complaining!

Big thanks to John Goodman for snapping some pics along the way, a few of which are shown below.

Sunday: again out the door at 7:00 AM, only this time it was three of us (Gina, Brian and me) heading down toward Malibu for the......Lasse Viren 20K trail run. Well, to be more accurate, Gina did the 20K and Brian and I cruised in the 5K f-un run. I'm really proud the little dude can crank out the miles non-stop now. We didn't stick around for the results but Gina probably did well since her time would be an age-group winner in earlier years.

Continued on down to Santa Monica on a quest (per Brian's insistence) to see as many high-performance sports cars as we could. Results: one Lamborghini, two Ferraris, one Lotus Elise, and more Porsches than we could count on the 62 digits we had between us.

After a nice lunch, we headed on over to the Encino Velodrome to check out......the Winter Challenge 100 km scratch race. 100 km!! That's 400 laps! For some serious cash: $5,000 for the winner, down to $500 for 5th. Nothing for 6th other than some good speed-work.

We missed the earliest laps but arrived just in time to see the biggest boys (e.g., Mike Creed, Roman Killun, Curtis Gunn) rip some brutally fast attacks that shredded the pretenders and left only the contenders. Our boy Cody was, and is, a contender!

I snapped some pics...

with 350 laps to go, this guy attacked hard and quickly got a half a lap lead. He strained desperately to make it around and attach to the back of the field but the field didn't want anyone going up a lap this early in the race. They toyed with him. After he got to within 70 meters of the back of the field, they ticked up the speed just a tad and it was enough to crack him.

Hernando (#212) was going good early and had his harem of honeys yelling enthusiastically for him. Here he follows track star Roman Killun of the Healthnet team.

Unfortunately, Hernando's carburetor seemed a bit clogged (LA air??) and he had to abandon after the first 10-15 km.

Rory started the race but was cooked by the high-speed attacks in the early going. He settled into the infield to support Cody. In the two pics below, Cody is followed by Mike Creed.

We left to do some shopping with about 300 to go and there were maybe 15 guys left on the track. We returned with about 50 laps remaining, and there were only five riders left. Convenient--the race only paid to five places.

Curtis Gunn was a lap ahead. Mike Creed and Chad Hartley (I think) were a lap down, and Cody and Rashaan Bahati were two laps down. What followed was pretty interesting, considering they could have mailed it in. Hartley and Creed started tag-teaming Gunn. One would attack, forcing a chase from Gunn, and then the other would go. Gunn looked solid in closing down the first couple of volleys but he seemed to be weakening. Plus, Creed was forcing him up the banking to take the long way around him. Then Cody stepped up and helped the chasing. Now for a second I thought, "why is Cody helping Gunn? Shouldn't he be trying to shed Bahati or perhaps rest for a sprint (4th vs. 5th?" Then it hit me... Gunn rides for SuccessfulLiving. Cody will be riding for SuccessfulLiving in 2008. Voila!! Teamwork on the track!

Cody and Bahati in the closing laps...

Gunn wins!

1st Curtis Gunn
2nd Chad Hartley
3rd Mike Creed
4th Rashaan Bahati
5th Cody O'Reilly

Training Week -- 12/3 - 12/9

Starting to get some longer rides and some time in the upper aerobic zone.

Number of rides: 5
Riding time: 13 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 5 hrs
Best ride of the week: Saturday, group ride and then Gibraltar loop in harsh cold wind.
Other: ran twice

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Still Skeptical About a Power Meter

The geek in me wants one, but he's voted down by the rationalist and the cheapskate.

The rationalist says, "Dude, if you get one you'll waste even more time on the computer than you already do. Magilla Gorilla (famous rbr protagonist) and Chuckie V are correct--better to spend that time training than reading wattage forums and staring at graphs."

And the cheapskate chimes in, "Dude, you've got way more important things to spend $2K on than a toy that is too finicky and will probably break within a year."

Seriously, how exactly is a power meter going to make me a better bike racer?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Baby Greens

My babies get an afternoon shower.

Training Week -- 11/26 - 12/2

This week's running was harder than the riding.

Number of rides: 5
Riding time: 8 hrs
Time in mid/high aerobic zone: 1 hr
Best ride of the week: Friday night rollers party!
Other: ran three times (inc. once for 1 hr 20 min)
- ran 10K in 40:37
- OSM in ~18:00 (39x25 seated)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Stupid Roller Tricks, and Other Stuff

It rained yesterday. A lot. Probably a full 0.05 inches! That was early, true, but clouds hung in the sky all day long. One never knows when they might open up...

I didn't ride outside.

But I'm not a total slacker... Last night I dragged out the rollers for the first time in a long while. I dig the rollers ...way more fun than a trainer.

Let's back up for a second for some context to this post. A few months back I ran across the video below. If you've got a few minutes, give it a look-see and then continue reading...


People went nuts on the internet forums. "Mad Skillz" ... "Wow" ... "You're a god!!!"

I'll tell you my reaction: Big F'in Deal. I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, but come on... (Yeah, I know what you're thinking... Fanelli's just jealous of his long hair blowing in the artificial wind.) Well maybe.

So, with a glass of wine, I figured I'd give it a try myself. No hands and one leg, along with some other silly stunts. Got a few minutes? Then give my video a whirl...

I still have to perfect the track-stand, obviously, and next I'll work on bunny-hopping off the rollers. Will that hurt a carbon frame?


Pros, pros, and more pros. SB has always been a nice winter training ground for bike-racers of the professional variety. Decades ago, we had Andy Hampsten come to town. He did more than a few trips up Gibraltar. Then Phil Anderson paid a visit. Phil would do the Sunday ride around Casitas--that was the default back then--and then he'd do it again. More recently we've had Tim Johnson and Laura Van Gilder hanging around in Jan and Feb.

Now we've got Ken Hanson hanging out in SB with his girlfriend. He's been doing all the group rides and has been very restrained when us local knuckleheads ramp it up. Don't worry... When he's ready, he'll light us up like few we've ever seen. He'll put the dial well past 40 mph for he polo fields sprint.

I only did one or two races with him in '07. One of them was Mt. Hamilton and when our group came into the finish we were going for 9th, and he and AJM blew by me in the sprint with so much speed it dang near knocked me over.

I think Ken won a few races in 2007 but probably his biggest was at the Pro/Am International Challenge in Downer's Grove.

He's got a spot on the 2008 BMC team and they're stepping it up a level. A great opportunity for a speedy young sprinter.

[add/edit] On yesterday's ride Ken mentioned that he, in fact, will not be riding for BMC in 2008 because they have become almost exclusively focused on stage races. He's a sprinter, and would not get many chances. So, instead, he's planning on riding with Cal Giant Strawberries.

And now we hear that T-Mob couple Aaron Olson and Kim Anderson will be staying here through the springtime. Aaron has left T-Mobile for the Bissell domestic team (formerly Priority-Health) and I don't know what Kim's plans are for 2008. A few years ago, Aaron was Jake Erker's teammate with Schroeder Iron and I think they've remained friends. That's a good sign, 'cause surely J-Erker wouldn't have a jerk for a friend. BTW, Mark Bissell, head of the company, is an old friend of Mark Mittermiller's ...small world, eh?!

Kim and Aaron riding down the coast


I did another running race today. Sheesh it hurt! Not a physical injury sort of hurt, but rather just a really sore muscle kind of hurt. It was only a 10K and I ran a mediocre 40:34, but the muscle soreness is reminiscent of my post-Everest Challenge pain. I can see it taking a long time before running feels as comfortable as cycling.