Archive for March, 2010


Right, then…

What’s this shit with headwind?  I mean, I know it exists, but I’ve not been able to get away from it lately.  Case in point:  Today I rode down to San Jose and back with a headwind the entire way.  Now, if I’m riding into the wind and I make a 90 degree turn, I now expect to be riding abeam (to use a sailing term) to the wind.  But no – there I was, heading into the wind.  So, basically, I had wind all they way down and all the way back.  That means that the wind was coming from all directions.  The only conclusion, then, is that I was riding in a vortex, which was irritating.

Speaking of irritation, Less Than Optimum Weather has returned.  Rain is expected tomorrow with wintry conditions and snow in the foothills on Wednesday.  I know we need the rain, but what a pain in the balls.

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Sunday ride

Right, then…

I mentioned earlier that my buddy Droobage was going to be leading me on a Sunday ride to help me train for the Tour de Cure in June.  First off, know that Droo has been cycling for eons (first, mountain, then road).  He’s done the Solvang Double Century.  Further, he’s about 70 lbs lighter than me and his bike is made of starlight, dreams and Rearden Metal, which makes it about 10 to 15 lbs lighter than mine.  Needless to say, he’s faster than me.

We left from my house, tooled up Homestead to Foothill Expressway.  Foothill, he informed me, is a favored route amongst cyclists…sort of like The Silk Road, but with Lycra.  We named it The Lycra Highway to which I pointed out that it sounded like the title for Gay Porn.  Regardless, Lycra Highway, it remained.

We traveled up to El Monte that turned into Moody Rd.  This is where we sunk to the depths of hell.   A check of MapMyRide showed me that this grade started at 2% and ranged all the way up to 9% over the course of 9 miles.  The terrain finally relented at about mile 18 or so, when the grade dropped down to 2% again.

This leads me to say two words:  Holy Shit.  I now have a better appreciation for lightweight bikes and gear.

The rest of the ride was good as it was mainly flat to undulating hills or downhill.  Mind you the downhills could be downright terrifying due to sheer speed.  Droo figures we were hitting 35mph or so at times.  What’s disturbing is that when I’m riding those speeds on the motorcycle, I have – at a minimum – long pants, heavy boots, a motorcycle jacket, gloves and a full-face helmet.  Here, I just have mountain bike shorts, a jersey and a bike helmet.  I tried not to think what it would feel like if I biffed it.  To add to this, the rear brakes are out of adjustment, thus are not quite as strong as I would like.  Other than that, though, it was fun.   After that, we went through Portola Valley to Arastradero Rd back to Foothill and then home.

I did notice two things:  1)  after all that climbing, my legs were fairly dead, such that even with mild hills, I’d find myself shifting in to lower gears, and 2) after all that downhill, I now know why cyclist have arms like that.  Also, I need to look at some lighter-weight shorts.

I did fairly OK, fuel-wise as I did the wheat toast/almond butter/banana thing for breakfast, then had Clif Bars with me.  Droo kicked in some CytoMax throughout the ride, as well, which helped (he normally takes one bottle of water and one of CytoMax, but he Max’ed both of them this time anticipating I would need some.  Mental note:  Buy CytoMax).  Water wise, I was fine as I was carrying my 70 oz CamelBack.  That said, it’s not optimum for distance cycling, so I really need to look at strap on water bottle cages (can’t bolt anything to the frame – the tubing is too thin.)

Overall, a good ride.  Even though it was equal parts cruising/pain/terror, I enjoyed myself.  I figure I’ll do it again, at least once or twice before the TdC.  Also, I have to mention that Droo was a good sport inasmuch as he would always circle back after my lagging ass, even though I told him to go ahead and that I’d ultimately catch up.

So this leads to good news and bad news –

Good News:  As this loop was 49 miles and 2400 ft of elevation, I can easily complete the 75K/46Mi TdC (which only has 1400 ft of elevation, I believe).

Bad News:  My crack habit wants a lighter bike, now.

Finally off the road…

Right, then…

I was in fabulous metropolitan Morrow, GA this week.  I noted, while down there, that The South has a certain look to it, that I can’t quite peg.  No, it’s not the presence of Waffle House’s, either.  I think it’s flat landscape coupled with a certain type of tree coupled with the presence of water towers (as you don’t really see water towers in CA for the most part).  It’s not a bad place, I imagine, just very different from anyplace I’ve been.

The trip was good, but we hit a snag on the ride back – we were late leaving Atlanta, apparently due to “maintenance issues”.  Said issues turned out to be an AC fan that was vibrating.  The couldn’t fix it, so the decided to just not run the fan during the flight.  This took 45 minutes.  This is the part of the conversation where I remind you that our layover at O’Hare was 50 minutes.  The flight crew said that if we could load the plane and be seated in 20 minutes, we’ll make all of our connections.  Thus a slow, crawling chaos ensued that took 30 minutes.  This was when I noted that – as a society – we’ve lost our ability to navigate spatial relations.  I say this because people were carrying on bags that – when empty – were larger than the required dimensions of carry on baggage.  Of course, when stuffed with clothes and moonpies and whatnot, they tend to bulge out.  Now, they’re trying to stuff these into the overhead compartments.  Years ago, Dennis Miller did a bit about people trying to cram mattresses into the overheads with hydraulic rams…that seemed to be an appropriate analogy.  Another thing – one guy – from La Crosse, WI, I might add – put his bag in and it clearly stuck out.  I mean, even the most delusional schizophrenic could tell it would not fit.  But him?  Nope – just slid it in and walked away.  It makes me wonder about this self-importance that has propagated throughout society.  Yes, I know that bags cost $30 to check and yes that sucks.  I know it takes a bit long to wait for your bag at the carousel.  I also appreciate the danger of baggage being delayed or lost .  Get a smaller bag, and don’t pack so much, then – there are ways to wash clothes on the road.  But don’t delay an entire planeload of people because you don’t want to be inconvenienced.

Needless to say, we missed the connection to SJC; in fact, the gate was closing as one of us was running up.  The good news was that we got to stay at the airport Hilton instead of the Cheesy-8 Suites, and got home at a decent hour yesterday.

Exercise-wise, it was a decent week.  As predicted, I ran on Monday and Friday (both days I was home this week), in addition to doing 3 mi on the treadmill on Tuesday.  I stopped at 3 mi, because I was bored to death – but at least I got a run in.  All in all, I got just over 25 miles in, Friday to Friday.

Tomorrow is going to be interesting as Droo and I are going for a long ride (ostensibly training for the Tour de Cure in June).  I’ve already ridden 39 miles before and did OK, but I think tomorrow will be somewhere between 35 and 50.  It’s going to be interesting, to say the least.  Should also be pretty as it’s going to wind through Portola Valley and such – don’t really know the loop as Droo’s leading.  More on that later…

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A new direction

Right, then…

OK, so a day after my last post, the company I was working at layed off 50% of it’s staff – among the included were dilettante consultants, such as myself.  So, that was the end of that.  It pretty much took everyone’s head clean off as layoffs were expected, but not that deep.  The Condemned went out for lunch that day, then a smaller group of us went out and had Italian at a local place in Santa Clara.  We all know we’ll be OK, but it was just a huge shock.  Funny what denial does.

Had to travel to Yuma, AZ this week, so I’ve had limited time on the bike.  I inadvertently went on a longish ride on Sunday – I was supposed to ride to the climbing gym for a yoga class, but wound up missing a turn – I think I was 1/8 mile from the place – and ended up doing a 17.5 mi loop.  At least I got my exercise (this was in addition to my trip down to San Jose – 13.5 mi, RT).  Tonight I rode down to the CalTrain station to catch a train up to Murphy st in Sunnyvale to drink with current and former and potentially future co-workers.  As the bar is only 5 mi from home, my original plan was to ride all the way in, but the rain was rather heavy, thus I took the train.  I did, however, put on some rain gear so I would not be soaked – it worked out quite nicely…again, there was that point of pride in that I was out there in the rain while the others were cowering in their cars.

Also, got some running in – I went on Monday, then yesterday, then again today.

Unfortunately, next week is not shaping up to be a good exercise week as I’m traveling Tues, Weds and Thurs.  I can probably get in a run Mon and Fri, but not sure about the other days.  I always bring running stuff when I travel, but rarely use it due to meetings and dinners and such.  We’ll see.  When I looked back over the week, I realized that I’ve only driven the truck since last Saturday – all other days it was sitting in the driveway.  I was out of town for 2 days, but still…

Baby steps…don’t lose your head Augustus, we wouldn’t want anyone to lose that…yet…

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Back on the road and general updates

Right, then…

First, off, I finally got the rear wheel back.  Turns out it was not bent.  Apparently, when properly tightened, spokes keep a wheel true and square, and when spokes are unevenly tightened, the wheel will take on a warped shape.  So that “bend” I thought I had?  Due to the broken spoke.  The wheel is back – I’ll be remounting it today.  Tahn was good enough to install a pie plate, as they don’t want to see me in with more damage for a long time.  I agreed, and am grateful for the help.

Last weekend, I did a snow trip.  It was pretty cool, actually – we took the train from Emeryville to Reno.  While this took about 2 extra hours travel time-wise (not counting the time taken to get to the station, wait for the train, check in, etc…) it was much more relaxing.  Just sit back, have a drink and watch the mountains go by.  Once there, we wound up renting a car to get to the snow.  There was a shuttle bus that we could have taken, but that would mean we would have had to been up and breakfasted and ready by 7:30…easy to do with three people or less; harder with more than three, thus the car.  Got my cross-country skiing in on Friday, and – once again – was not disappointed.  I love how it’s the REI ladies that go XC skiing – my age, fit, naturally beautiful, down to earth.  On Saturday, I went snowboarding and – to my surprise – enjoyed it.  I hadn’t been on a board for about 5 years, and the last time I was, I don’t recall being that impressed, thus I drifted away to XC.  This time…well, it felt good.  Admittedly, that first short run down a blue route (we made a nav error when choosing the lift) was steeper than I preferred.  It took about 15 mins to go maybe 1/8 mile as I kept falling.  Once on the green, though, it was much better.  I did fall, but it was more a function of my experimenting with the board (turning, mainly) as part of the re-learning curve.  It did suck in that later in the day, I managed to lose my gloves, so the last few runs were colder than I had hoped.  That said, I think about boarding more, and am considering picking something up at an end-of season sale…because I needed a new crack habit.

Now, the job.  Not much movement, yet.  I keep coming back and they don’t tell me to go home.  That, however, can end at any time.  I’ve started looking for a “real job” and am dealing with those frustrations – over qualified, under qualified.  Naturally, this is causing some fear and anxiety.  I’ve been told that there are three things to do, now:  1)  Worry, 2) Plan, 3) Play and keep on living my life.  The instruction is to spend the least amount of time on 1, more on 2, and the most on 3.  So, that’s about all I can do.  I do have a low-grade dread going on, now, but I think that’s more a cumulative effect of things I need to do:  1)  Finish class project due next Weds, 2) read up on stuff for customer project next week, 3) job search.  I know I’ll get this all done, but it’s frustrating in that my creative/working mind cannot really engage until there’s more pressure.  It’s just of the things I wish I could change about myself.

It’s going to be another interesting year, I think.

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