Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Almost Done! (...fingers crossed)

One week until Thanksgiving, which we are hosting. Could we possibly cut it any closer?!?

What an experience this has been. Mostly good, but also some problems and associated stress. Living in the midst of it all has been a real test of our adaptability and has certainly strained family relationships at bit. We will emerge stronger.

Since I work from home, I was able to spend lots of time with the contractors, the vast majority of whom are great people who take pride in their work. I truly appreciate their willingness to educate me and explain the nittiest grittiest details of their trades. I find myself asking, "If I knew then what I know now, would I have undertaken this job on my own?" I am not naive enough to think I could do it all myself, nor that I could complete it in any kind of reasonable time, but it would be so deeply satisfying to build with my own hands. My siblings and I are the first generation of our family who haven't built a house (or a large portion thereof) with our own hands. We're certainly not alone there in modern society; it's sad in a way that so few people do their own physical work anymore. (Pot-kettle-black... I freely admit my preference for a nice bike ride over digging trenches or lifting drywall.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Training Week -- 11/2 - 11/8

Only group rides this week. The intensity is really painful and probably not the best idea just yet, but perhaps it's good to remember those sensations so it's not such a shock in January.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1 hr; lunchtime torture, dropped 3 times (after my pulls)
Wed: 0
Thu: 1 hr; OSM, 18:20 max effort, slight tailwind assist
Fri: 0
Sat: 2.5 hr; SB - 2nd Casitas - SB
Sun: 2.5 hr; Worlds

Total: 7 hrs

Monday, November 02, 2009

Get Your Power On

Doing just a little math, you can figure that eight riders like the ones above are generating a combined power of around 3 kW, give or take, during a one hour TTT. Cool. That would easily power your house for an hour.

So here's a thought... build up eight stationary trainers, hook them all to a DC generator with an DC-AC inverter, then plug it into your electrical service panel. Now invite that team over to your house for a TTT session on the trainers and, shazzam, free electricity!!

Well, almost free... they do need a salary I suppose. Also, they'll only ride for an hour before cracking and falling off their bikes. I guess you'll need to hire a few more teams, like maybe the entire field of the Tour de France, if you want to cover all your energy usage.

Or here's another thought... slap a few of these babies onto your roof:

They'll make power all day long and you won't even need to feed them. Sure, there will be some upfront cost, but thanks to generous state rebates (here in CA) and the forward-thinking policies of our country's CEO, you can expect to recoup your costs within 10-15 years, depending on the specifics of your situation. And if it wasn't compelling enough before, just a few weeks ago our Governator signed a bill requiring California's utilities to pay homeowners for any surplus power they generate. This is the wave of the future, for sure.

So let's bring this back around to cycling. I estimate that our photovoltaic system will generate about 20 kWh of energy a day, averaged over the year. How much is that? Well, it's roughly equivalent to the (mechanical) power I'd make doing 267 maximum-effort rides up Old San Marcos Rd., assuming I could capture it. [20 kWh / (.3 kW X .25 h)]

Full disclosure: My generous and forward-thinking parents offered to pay for our solar installation. Their offer is to each of my three siblings as well. Gina and I plan to gladly accept that gift, although we like to think we would have taken this step anyway.

Training Week -- 10/26 - 11/1

Steady mid-aerobic-zone efforts (20-60 minutes) mixed in with a bunch of easy pedaling.

Mon: 0
Tue: 1.5 hrs, OSM + Painted Cave, very windy
Wed: 0
Thu: 1.5 hrs, OSM + PC + 2/3 OSM
Fri: 1.5 hrs, Goleta and Hope Ranch
Sat: 3 hrs, Figueroa loop from Los Olivos
Sun: 2 hrs, to SB and back

Total: 9.5 hours