Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Seasons Greetings

Have a Merry Blogmas, a Happy Blognukka and a very healthy Blog Year.

(Cross posted from the other blog I seem to inhabit.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Due Diligence

I did not lose any money with Bernard Madoff. This is not some sort of boast, and has nothing to do with my superior investing savvy. It has everything to do with my not having enough money for him to bother with me and the fact that I had never heard of him before two weeks ago seems also relevant.

That said, this article provides a nice lesson in doing due diligence with regards to investing. It also seems to provide an answer to this article.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What the Newest Car Ad Looks Like

Tim Jackson has a knack for finding some very funny stuff.

The Day the Earth Stood Stillborn

I saw the first trailer for the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. My first impression was of another stupidly produced remake trading on the fame and good will of a science fiction classic. I am usually not interested in a remake that merely adds modern special effects, usually at the expense of a decently updated script. But, then I heard a Scientific American podcast of an interview with Scott Derrickson, the director of the movie and was encouraged that maybe the trailer was a case of bad marketing. Perhaps the film was good, but it is being marketed using the traditional methods of emphasizing the special effects. I was further encouraged that Michael Shermer gave it a positive review. Of course, Shermer is a science writer, not a movie reviewer, and I don't know if he and I have similar movie taste, so I checked with Roger Ebert. He didn't like it much, and after reading his review, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it much either.

I also watched the extended trailer which added nothing to my expectations. Finally, I visited Rotten Tomatoes and the news there wasn't so good either. My two favorite quotes there:

"There was nothing wrong with the original that warranted a re-do--other than pursuit of legal tender." -Gary Brown, Houston Community Newspapers

"You'll be doing yourself a huge favor if you go into this movie with lowered expectations. "
-Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

Perhaps that's the best advice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From Cross Racing to Cross Skiing

I got in about six and a half hours of cross country skiing Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was in Saugatuck and from Thursday night until Sunday it just about never stopped snowing. We hit the dunes and the Allegan Game Area and conditions couldn't be any better. On Friday afternoon, the Game Area had a foot to a foot and a half of soft powder which made for a great workout in a beautiful forest. The dunes were magnificent. It's snowing here right now and I'll probably get in about an hour of skiing tomorrow morning.

Well, if it's too cold and icy to ride, I'm happy to have good skiing conditions right outside my door.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Northbrook Cyclocross

photo taken by Luke

I got a late start to the "Save Ferris" cx race in Northbrook. That figures. Since it is the closest race to my house and I took for granted that I could sleep in a bit and not pack the night before. Big mistake. I wanted to arrive with at least an hour to register, attach my number, warm up and pre-ride what was rumored to be a challenging course (it was). Instead, I got there only about a half hour before race time and, in the rush to get on the course, attached my number on the wrong side (rookie mistake thinking that all races require the number on the same side). Luckily a patient race official was able to right my mistake with seconds to spare before the start.

The one practice lap I got in told me the story of a very technical, twisty, off-camber festival. No barriers to jump over (rats, I'm getting good at that) and two stair climbs. This is going to be, er, fun.

I registered to race both the 40+ Masters race and the 4a race. It was a damp 37 degrees when I arrived, but at least there wasn't any wind. As usual, the Masters got off to a very fast start and my position near the back didn't help much. As we got through the first section of twisty, off camber turns through the trees, a rider went down ahead of me. I was able to avoid hitting him or the many riders around him and dismount, run past them and remount. Looking good, but not for long. My first fall came on the hairpin turn at the top of the sled hill. It was the first of four or five falls on that initial lap. I attribute this to either my being too aggressive on the turns (which is an improvement over my usual tentativeness) or the lack of the right tires for the conditions (as if I have any others). I also decided to run that turn for the rest of the race.

The first lap cost me time and confidence and I wound up taking 27th out of 31 which is a slight improvement over Hawthorn. Ed got a nice shot of me looking pretty intense:

6J9Q5377

I now had three hours to kill before the 4a race. I ate a sandwich, drank some coffee and a lot of water and put on some additional clothing for warmth. I also took a few pictures and rode around to pass the time and help keep me warm.

I did get in one more practice lap after the women's race and this was key. I got some great advice from Tom S on how to handle that first hairpin turn on the bike and was able to practice it two or three times.

For the 4a race, I made sure to get a good starting position. This was important as there were 54 riders in this field and that first turn would probably get ugly. Not being in the top 10, I didn't get called up, but I did get in the second row.

I hammered the start as if it were a closing sprint and kept good position for the trees. I handled that hairpin turn on the sled hill perfectly (if a little slowly) and raced a nearly clean race. Unfortunately for me, I lost time every lap on the stairs to faster climbers and the various areas of the course that were muddy sapped my strength and speed. It was also getting windy which didn't help. I was very happy with my race and thought I did better than 42nd place.

Northbrook Cyclocross 2008

Overall, a really great cyclocross race. I prefer the more technical course, because, well, they're more fun. There were also a lot of photographers out and you can see their pictures here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Plans

Riding Cross tomorrow morning at Daniel Wright Woods. Racing 40+ and 4a Sunday in Northbrook.

In case you want to participate in some races after Montrose, there are these races in Michigan.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Change of Plans

I had no legs today and decided not to bother going to St. Charles to race. I'm going to save myself for Northbrook Sunday. Did an easy spin this morning and nearly got dropped so I guess I made the right choice. I think I need a couple days off.

But I don't wanna take a couple days off with this nice weather.

Oh well...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Morning on the DPR

We did about 45 miles on the DPR this morning. This was my favorite picture.

Fast

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts on Carpentersville

I really enjoyed the cyclocross race in Carpentersville this year. The changes to the course made it more challenging and more fun. More fun, of course, in retrospect. During the race all I could think about was why the heck was I doing this to myself? Looking back, I handled the barriers well and have a photo to prove it:

Carpenter Park Cross Race 4a

This year, the race layout gave more room to attempt to ride through the sand pit. During my one and only pre ride lap, I forgot that there was a large lip into the pit and nearly did an endo as my front wheel dropped and dug in as I entered. Luckily I was properly sitting back in my saddle and was able to recover. The first time through during the race I was behind someone who dismounted to run it so I had to correct my line at the last minute and lost all momentum and had to execute an emergency dismount. I compounded the problem by missing the remount at the end and lost some time (and dignity). Luckily, no one captured this Kodak moment (UPDATE: apparently this guy did, but I'm not buying a print or providing a link). I rode the sand cleanly all the remaining laps.

I still need to work on my speed through sharp turns as this is costing me time and energy that I clearly do not have to spare--based on my finishing placement (41 of 54).

And then there was Superman:

Carpenter Park Cross Race 4b

Ok. This raises several questions:

Shouldn't Superman be able to ride through the sand pit?

Or be able to leap over it?

And what was Superman doing in the 4b race?

Wait. I'm confused. What's Superman doing in a skirt? If that's Supergirl, shouldn't she be in the women's race? Maybe it's Superman who's confused.

Next race for me is St. Charles. Come on out and bring your cowbell.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Quote

This quote came up in conversation recently:

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
Douglas Adams, from his book (written with Mark Carwardine): Last Chance to See.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm Published!

Well, not really, but this was fun to find. A photo of mine was used in a blog posting. As my son would say: "How random is that?"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Photogenic Lake

Rode the trail at the end of the day Wednesday. This is what greeted me when I arrived back at the parking lot:

Lake

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Morning Ride

No, I didn't race in DeKalb this morning. I didn't want to drive an hour and a half to race in the rain with possible thunderstorms. I didn't relish the idea of riding in a park on a metal bike with the threat of lightning. And no, wet rubber tires don't provide any protection against lightning.

So instead, I did the 8:00 Des Plaines River Trail ride. As you can see, it was a beautiful morning here, way out east.

My Morning Ride

It was a small group today, but it felt good to get in two hours of riding on the trails.

Note to Gurnee, the underpass under 176 is open and not under water, so you should change the sign.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Which US Senator Shaves His Legs?

Nope. Read the title again and note the pronoun.

Stumped?

Answer here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beer

Which country drinks the most beer on a per capita basis? The top 20 are here in an annoying slideshow format. The US is number 13. Not that it's a competition or anything.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wear a Helmet

Yet another reason why you should always wear a helmet when you ride.

Because you never know...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Patricia Barber

I just got back from Ravinia. It was their Celebration of Summer, an all day event that was free admission (they encouraged you to donate a food item upon entry). We went because we learned from her web site that Patricia Barber was going to perform at the Martin Theatre. Somehow Ravinia didn't have her on their program, but she was on their web site when I checked earlier today. I had been wanting to see her at the Green Mill for the past two years, since seeing her at the Macy's music festival (or whatever it was called) two summers ago. The Green Mill shows start at 9 and, with the drive, it just seems that the show would go past my bedtime. This was close to home and an early show so I wasn't going to miss it.

We arrived at 5:00 with a picnic dinner for a 7:00 show. By 6:30, I thought there would be a line of people waiting to get in, but I noted that the park was largely empty and no one was at the door. This was rather strange, but we went in at 6:45 and got to sit in the 3rd row. By the time the show started, I think the theater was only a third full. Patricia Barber walked on stage on time, sat down at the piano, kicked off her shoes and socks and thanked us for attending (even "those who came in by accident"). The small turnout made the evening an intimate affair for those of us who attended and she handled it with grace and humor.

I don't have the musical vocabulary to describe the show with any justice. She performed some songs from her new album, The Cole Porter Mix including You're the Top (with some improvised lyrics) , a wonderful, sultry, jazzy rendition of Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney), and some numbers that I didn't recognize. It was a fantastic performance by a very talented group of musicians. They were listed on the sign as playing from 7:00-7:45, but the show actually ended at 8:25.

So yeah, I'm gonna have to see her at the Green Mill. I'll take a nap before the show if I have to.

Oh, and a quick note to Patricia Barber: You left your shoes by the piano.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chicago Cyclocross Cup Clinic

Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 13. More info here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Got Nuthin'

Nothing to say and no time to say it. Maybe someone else has something to say...

"Ride lots"
--Eddy Merckx

(from The Quotable Cyclist)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Glencoe Grand Prix - Results

The results are posted for the 2008 Glencoe Grand Prix.

So far, this is the most popular photo I took at the Glencoe Grand Prix.

Glencoe Grand Prix

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dope of the Day

Penny Weaver.

The News Editor of the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier, writes:
So, I saw this guy on Wednesday riding his bicycle while talking on his cell phone.
And so it begins...

He was headed south in a lane of traffic on 16th Street at Charleston Avenue in Mattoon. He stopped to wait for the light to change, yakking on the cell phone, switching it to the other ear after a few seconds, and yakking some more.
Wait. A cyclist was stopped, waiting for the light to change? I thought cyclists never stop for lights or stop signs. Take that, motorists-who-think-cyclists-never-stop-for-traffic-control-devices.
Maybe I'm just jealous because I'm not that coordinated. I don't think I could ride a bike with one hand on the handlebars and the other holding a phone to my ear. I surely couldn't do it while trying to watch for traffic.
Then you probably shouldn't. Nor should you speak for those of us who are coordinated enough to ride one-handed...or even no-handed.
What I really wondered when I saw Bicycle/Phone Guy, though, was who would be to blame when he gets hit by a car.
Aha. Now I see where you're going with this. You are looking for yet another excuse to blame cyclists for your poor driving skills. What if you were talking on your phone in your car and you veered off into his lane (let's assume a bicycle lane) and hit him while he was talking on his phone. It would be his fault, right?
I mean, multitasking is one thing, but surely this carries it too far.
Why?
I know people talk on their cell phones while driving a car--yeah, me too, I confess--but I also know some drivers who shouldn't chew gum and drive at the same time, let alone yak or text.
This doesn't explain how talking on a cell phone while riding a bike is too much multitasking. This only tells me that you talk on your cell phone when you drive, you think you are better at this than some drivers you know and that despite knowing that this inhibits your ability to look out for other cars (and bicycles, and pedestrians, by the way) while you drive, you continue to do so regardless of the danger you pose to others.
It' not Average Car Driver who should be blamed when Bicycle/Phone Guy veers into traffic and gets hit by a car. It's Mr. Multitasker on a bike who should take the responsibility for being a doofus.
I'm not sure what your point is, but you wrote that you saw a guy on a bike talking on his cell phone while stopped for a traffic light and then proceeding (while still on his cell phone) when the light turns green. From this you extrapolate him veering into traffic and causing a collision. Sorry, that doesn't follow. Remember, he would be taking his life in his hands if his skills are that bad. The only threat to you is a few scratches on your car, and the pain of some paperwork.
So even when I see Bicycle/Phone Guy and I mock him and I shake my head at his stupidity, I still hope he gets where he's going safely.
I hope you also give him the required three feet of room when you pass him and you put down your phone, coffee, make up, iPod and cigarette (see, I can make idiotic assumptions, too) so you can make sure your car doesn't veer into the bike rider. Who's to blame and/or responsible then?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Music on Hold

What cell phone service answers my calls with:
"Please enjoy the music while your party is reached."

Then I hear the dulcet tones of John Denver singing "Rocky Mountain High-igh" until they either answer or I get voice mail. Not so bad the first time I heard it, but every single time? Can't they get a playlist?

Aaaargh!

Road Rage

Go read this post about another driver intentionally causing an accident in a group ride. If you were there and have any information about the truck that caused it, call the sheriff’s office at (847) 377-4000.

Where's the guy with the helmet camera when you need him?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Observation

Is it a cycling fashion faux pas (if there is such a thing) to wear a Campagnolo cap when your bike is equipped with a Shimano gruppo? Of course, one never sees the reverse. And, as someone older and wiser than I once pointed out, no one ever tattoos Shimano on their leg.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Design Changes

I made some changes on the blog design. Just playing around...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bicycle Film Festival

If you thought the only films worth seeing were Breaking Away and American Flyers, then you might want to check out the Bicycle Film Festival as it makes it's way to Chicago August 6-10. Road to Roubaix on Friday looks interesting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Buh-Bye UCI

Reuters is reporting: All top teams to leave cycling’s ProTour series for the 2009 season. I wonder if the UCI will retaliate somehow against them this year.

"Pat McQuaid, president of the UCI, the sport’s governing body, said the dissidents were facing exclusion from the international federation."

You mean this year? 'Cuz they're leaving next year so you can't fire them, they quit.

This, of course raises the question: Did Greg LeMond know something about this?

This could get interesting...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Taking Pictures While Riding

Those of you who know me, know that I rarely ride without my trusty Canon camera. I keep it in my jersey pocket and use it to take pictures of the epic rides and epic riders who ride with me. I tend to favor the hand held method which gives me the flexibility to take artful pictures like this one:

Christmas Ride

or shots of fun stuff I see along the way like this one.

Inhale Your Mail

If you prefer to only take pictures of what is directly in front of you, Photojojo shows an inexpensive DIY method of attaching a camera to your handlebars.

I imagine one could attach a video camera the same way, although it seems that the best way to go would be the helmet cam.

Have fun. Ride safely.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wear Your Helmet!

This story has been making the email rounds among my friends and fellow riders.

During a bike ride on the Skokie Valley Trail near the the Highland Park Lexus dealership, a blackbird swooped down and attacked a local rider. He lost control of his bike, fell to the ground and hit his head (he was not wearing a helmet). He died from his head injury over the weekend.

This was obviously a freak accident, but it emphasizes how important it is to wear a helmet at all times. You just never know what might happen.

Another fellow rider gave this advice about these aggressive birds:

Before they swoop down at you they make a repeated noise like ew ew ew and then they peck at your helmet. They may fly away and do it again right away. They don't hurt you, they scare the shit out of you. So if you're riding on the trail and you hear that noise, relax and hold the handle bars firmly, don't get stiff and hang on for dear life or you'll fall. Keep your tongue in your mouth (in case you scream) so you don't bite it.

So wear your helmet, just in case...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

2008 Cyclocross Season

Tentative schedules have been announced for the fall 'cross season. MadCross.org has the Wisconsin schedule (first race September 27) and the Chicago Cyclocross Cup tentative schedule arrived in my emailbox today. It looked like this:

Sat September 13-CX Clinic (TBD)
Sun September 21-Jackson Park
Sun October 5- DeKalb
Sun October 12-Hawthorn Woods
Sun October 19-Carpentersville
Sun October 26-Bartlett
Sun November 2-St. Charles
Sat November 8-TBD
Sun November 9-Northbrook
Sun November 16-Lansing
Sun November 23-Woodstock
Sun December 7-Montrose-IL State Cyclocross Championships
Dates subject to change
USA Cycling Event Permit Pending


RACE TIMES
10:00 Masters 30+ (60 min)
10:02 Masters 40+ (all 45)
10:02 Masters 50+
11:00 Cat. 3 (All 45 min)
11:02 Women 1/2/3
12:00 Women 4 (all 30 min)
12:02 Juniors
1:00 Men 1/2/3 (60 min)
2:15 Men 4a (30 min)
3:00 Men 4b (30 min)
Race times subject to change

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Boom De Yada

This commercial brought a smile to my face.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Decision on Landis Coming Monday

I first saw this on Yahoo Sports, but TBV pointed me to the actual time of the announcement. Looks like 10:00 am on Monday. You'll find it here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Be Like Idaho

Or at least their rules for bicycles. According to Cyclelicious, San Francisco will consider changing California law to allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs. Idaho already does this.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could do this in Illinois? Legally, I mean.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why Jon Stewart Rocks

Because he says things like this:

What I’m saying is that they [the News] should take in the fruit and entrees that are presented by politicians and the corporations that process it, and come up with turds of wisdom, if you will. You either bring clarity or you bring noise. The media should be filters, and they can only be that if they exercise editorial judgment. It infuriates me when people say, 'That’s elitism.' No, it’s not. That’s expertise. That’s like saying to doctors who diagnose people, 'You’re being elitist, telling me I have heart disease. I don’t want to hear that. I want to eat cake and ice cream.'
and:

You know, nineteen guys with box cutters brought down the Twin Towers. Are we supposed to go to war until there’s not nineteen guys that want to do damage to us? One day, two assholes throw pumpkins off an overpass. And now when you drive down the highway and go past an overpass, you see those giant ten- foot chain-link fences. Two vandals out of millions of people can fuck up your way of life in ways you can’t even imagine. There’s no way to fool-proof the world. You cannot out-engineer crazy.

Read the whole interview here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Crackdown

The Daily Herald reports "Barrington Hills cracking down on cyclists." Lake Forest is also, as we were pulled over on Old Elm just west of Ridge for riding three abreast (we were) and obstructing traffic (we weren’t). I got off with a written warning. More on this in another post.

As for the linked article, I have to say that the tone continues to be that cyclists are wrong, motorists are right.

"Each weekend, packs of several dozen bicyclists ride throughout town, sometimes as fast as 30 mph."

"It's a problem," he said. "This is not you and your wife out for a bike ride."

Does having your wife along on the ride somehow make riding through Barrington Hills OK? How about your girlfriend? I'm just askin'.

"[Sgt. David ] Kann said clusters of cyclists are sometimes longer than an 18-wheel truck and can be intimidating to drivers."

Reminds me of the opening of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:
"Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?" said Mr. Prosser.
"How much?" asked Arthur.
"None at all," Mr. Prosser replied.

"By stepping up enforcement, Kann said, police are not trying to dissuade riding in the village. 'We just want them to follow the rules of the road,' he said."

Not a word in the article about stepping up enforcement of drivers passing too close to or intimidating cyclists.

So, let's be careful out there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sleep Quiz

What's the best way to beat afternoon sleepiness?

1) More sleep at night
2) An afternoon nap earlier that day
3) Caffeine

Obviously, the answer is...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Such a Deal

Chainlove is like woot for cyclists! Except that unlike woot, which has only one deal per day, Chainlove continuously posts new deal throughout the day. WooHoo!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Gruppo Goes to 11

The rumor mill has it that for 2009 Campy will have a "Super Record" gruppo with 11 speeds. Really, do we need 11 cogs? I used to enjoy ripping on my Shimano-equipped friends with their puny 9-speed cassettes while I had 10 on my Veloce-equipped rain bike. Yeah, that's right, Veloce had more speeds than Dura-Ace. Well, for a little while anyway. But now, I have lost all interest in cog-numerical superiority and the uniqueness of my carbon-fiber shift levers. Yes, the introduction of the 11-speed gruppo has made me reevaluate what is important. It's not the equipment, constantly upgrading in an effort to have the latest and greatest stuff. It's the beauty of the ride. The flow of a finely tuned paceline. The camaraderie.

Or, maybe it's the clothing.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Saturday Annoyance

Yesterday. Saturday. Beautiful day for a ride. Got about 60 miles in. Decided to continue to enjoy the day with a little alfresco brunch in downtown Highland Park. We're settled in and about to order when we hear advertising blasting from a National City points truck (pictured above). This guy drove back and forth along Central Avenue a number of times with speakers blaring...something. It was hard to make out. I assume that I wasn't the only one annoyed by this making me wonder how successful this promotion could have been. First, their name, color and font confused me. It reminded me of National Rental Car, but this was National City. Then I couldn't make out most of what was being broadcast from their speaker. I figured out that it must be a bank since the few words I was able to make out related to banking. So this is my first exposure to the fact that there is a bank called National City. Which leads me to think that the association I am going to have with the brand, National City is annoyance. Great first impression.

Of course, they just might be so successful that they can afford to waste diesel at nearly $5.00 a gallon to get their misguided message across. Or that they are so successful that they don't mind pissing off potential new customers. There is also the irony that the truck is painted green.

Lucky for us, his shift must have ended just as our food came. So the morning ended well.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tour of America

From the RoadBikeRider newsletter, I see that the proposed route for the inaugural Tour of America keeps getting shorter and doesn't include Illinois. At this rate, the 2009 route might wind up being a crit in Americus, Kansas.

Yeah, I'm bitter.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blogging is Good for You?

Apparently it is.

"Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off."

Or maybe it's narcissism.

So what's my excuse?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Commuter Bike Panda


May is National Bike Month and the League of American Bicyclists promoted Bike-to-Work Week last week (May 12-16) and Bike-to-Work Day was Friday, May 16. However, if you missed it, in Chicagoland, Bike-to-Work week is June 7-13. I think we celebrate it a month later just to make sure there's almost no chance of snow.

Either way, I was in a good mood on the way home and snapped a few panda portraits for fun.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Silo


It is my blogversary today. I celebrated by taking a 60 mile ride up past Round Lake. It was windy with a mix of sun and clouds and the group hung together well. At Fish Lake, most went on for more and I turned south with three others to get home a little sooner. I couldn't resist trying to take this picture from the bike. It was a beautiful scene with the barn and the silo and the clouds. I think it came out OK.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bikes are Funny?

I get The Onion Weekly Dispatch in my email. In today's issue, there was a link at the bottom for their current contest which is "Enter to Win A Shimano Bike!". Clicking on the link directs you here to a sweepstakes where the prize is one of those new-fangled Raleigh Shimano Coasting bikes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Multitasking While Driving

You do it, but that's OK, because you know you can handle it. It's just those other !@#$holes that can't drive while text messaging, drinking coffee, shaving and scanning for music on their radio. Take a quick read of this article in Science News about what happens in our brains when we multitask while driving.
...people who combine relatively automatic tasks, such as speech comprehension and car driving, exceed a biological limit on the amount of systematic brain activity they can accommodate at one time, the researchers propose. As a result, the less-ingrained skill — in this case, driving, which is learned long after a person grasps a native language — takes a neural hit.
Ya see folks, going hands-free on the cell phone isn't going to make driving while talking on your cell phone any safer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More on the CycleSound


I put the CycleSound on my road bike for my morning ride. It's pretty easy to install, but if you are going to use it on more than one bike, it's probably worth it to get a second mount. The unit has a rear zippered access flap that encloses the battery compartment (6 AA). There is just enough room here for a spare tube (23c) and one CO2 cartridge. The bottom has a zippered pocket where your music player goes. In addition to my 2nd generation iPod Nano, I was able to fit a couple of tire levers and another CO2 cartridge. There wasn't enough room for my inflation pump, although there would be for one of the smaller inflation chucks. Under this zippered pocket is an open mesh pocket which might be convenient for small items, but it didn't seem very secure to me.

The sound quality is quite good and the volume is loud enough to hear, but is limited so that you can hear what's around you. I have no idea as to the unit's durability, but it seems pretty well designed and put together to me.

Here's my playlist from this morning.

Take Five - Dave Brubeck
Classical Gas - Mason Williams
Krafty - New Order
Beer - Reel Big Fish
Zoot Suit Riot - Cherry Poppin' Daddies
The House Is A Rockin' - The Brian Setzer Orchestra
The Impression That I Get - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
My Back Pages - The Ramones
Here It Goes Again - OK Go
Lump - The Presidents Of The United States Of America
Who's That Girl (She's Got It) - A Flock Of Seagulls
The Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
Bicycle Race - Queen
My White Bicycle - Tomorrow
Pop Song 89 - R.E.M.
Nice Guys Finish Last - Green Day
David Watts - The Jam
Take On Me - Reel Big Fish
Suffragette City - David Bowie
Runaway - The Misfits
You And Me - The Moody Blues
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
Breakaway - The Producers
What Ever Happened To Saturday Night? - Rocky Horror Picture Show
Can't Get Enough Of You Baby - Smash Mouth

Some music to warm up to and then mostly upbeat stuff to keep it lively. I don't think I'll be riding with music on our morning rides--it's just not our style (although the spin instructor in the group thought it was a great idea). However, I think I'm going to keep the CycleSound on my commuter bike.

A couple of final thoughts. Having the iPod safely tucked away inside the zippered pocket gives a clean look and prevents getting a cord stuck in your dérailleur, but limits your control. I like the idea of a wireless remote control (like this one) for the iPod which would allow you to skip songs, and turn it off without having to take it out of the pocket. Another use would be to turn your CycleSound into a speaker phone with a bluetooth headset (would this work?). I wonder if an iPhone would give you both music and a speakerphone? The mind wanders...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rockem!

The funniest t-shirt I'll never wear. I just don't have the guts.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

Today, I had my first road bike ride since some minor surgery two weeks ago. It was just an easy ride today, 20 miles at around a 15 MPH average. I felt good and plan to ease back into harder rides. No racing plans except for fall cross season which is way off and, perhaps the Sherman Park Crit as an incentive to get in shape.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Commuter Bike


My first bike commute of the year today made more enjoyable by the CycleSound system I won at Ride-Strong. First impression is that it is easy to set up and easy to use. The sound quality is quite good. In case you are wondering, today's playlist (round trip) was:
Take Five - Dave Brubeck
Krafty - New Order
Suffragette City - David Bowie
Beer - Reel Big Fish
Zoot Suit Riot - Cherry Poppin' Daddies
The House Is A Rockin' - The Brian Setzer Orchestra
My Back Pages - The Ramones

It's a really short commute. Yeah, and Bowie doesn't belong there--I'm going to have to work on the playlist order a little.

Thanks to Tyler at Ride Strong for getting this to me so fast.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Places To Go

Thanks to the creative people at Imodium, you can now enter a location, either by zip code or city/state, and get a list of bathrooms in that area. Add this to a web-enabled phone and it could be quite handy on a long ride. Visit the Bathroom Finder.

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Camera

I am on hold right now with Canon customer service trying to resolve the problems I am having with my Powershot A570. I am using some tips I learned from The Consumerist on How to Mind Control Customer Service Reps (great article!) and the supervisor, James, has just put me on hold after listening to my tale to "see what he can do".

At this point, I want a new camera and to never have to deal with the Canon repair facility again. They took my camera, repaired what was wrong and then broke something else. They returned the camera to me without even testing it or the problem would have shown up. I returned the camera (on their supplied UPS label) and got it back with that problem solved, but with a brand new problem--the focus lock no longer worked. I called and they emailed me another UPS label. I sent it and a week later got it back. And the focus lock still doesn't work consistently.

James transferred me to Roderick who, I was told, is their highest ranking customer service person and he took my information. He is sending me an overnight label to send the camera to the manager of the repair facility so they can check the camera out and see what's going on.

Final resolution...to be determined.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why I Hate Ticketmaster

Ticket cost: $22.00
Convenience charge: $5.75
Order Processing Charge: $4.80
The least expensive option for delivery is $14.50.
Total is $47.05.

Groan


Had my first $50 fill up earlier in the week. Makes these gas rewards credit cards (h/t to consumerist.com) even more appealing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Threadless

Two of my favorite cycling-related shirts from Threadless:
Infinity MPG - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Honk if you are about to run me over. - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Trails

Traillink.com is a good resource for finding trail information on the web. It's searchable by location and doesn't require a subscription like this web site.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gas Saving Tips


Cyclist and the price of gas
Originally uploaded by richardmasoner

With gasoline prices like these, who would you ask for tips on how to save gas? How about UPS? Would you believe that one of their tips is to make fewer left turns? Or, you could ride your bike. They didn't think of that one.

Monday, April 7, 2008

How to Really Escalate Customer Service at a Big Company

I like The Consumerist for its take on customer service issues. If you ever find yourself at your wits end after lengthy customer service calls, escalations to "supervisors" and you are just plain not being heard and not getting fair treatment, you may consider something they call an Executive Email Carpet Bomb. Even if that doesn't work, it has a nice ring to it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Game Theory and Doping

This interesting article from the current issue of Scientific American is by cyclist and writer, Michael Shermer, Ph.D. It's worth reading for its excellent analysis using game theory of the pervasive use of drugs in cycling. He then uses game theory to propose a number of recommendations for cleaning up the sport.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Funniest Typo Ever

The Large Hadron Collider is a gigantic scientific instrument which may revolutionize our scientific understanding of the universe .

It is not, as has been reported, called the Large Hardon Collider.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Graphic

The Indexed blog takes Venn diagrams to a new level. This one relates to cycling. And one that just plain silly.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Complaint Department

Hey, I'm just a guy that likes to ride a bicycle so I'm no expert, but keeping last years' winner out of this year's Tour de France just seems stupid to me. That goes for the third place finisher as well-- some guy named Levi Leipheimer.

Via Trust but Verify I see that WADA is mad at UCI for suing their former president (a certain Dick Pound) for injurious and biased comments against UCI. There's also stuff in this article about the French Cycling Federation (FFC) sanctioning Paris-Nice outside the oversight of the UCI and using the French anti-doping agency, AFLD, to be in charge of the doping controls for the event. The UCI warned that they would discipline any rider that participates in the event.

Tell me again why this is good for the sport.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Technology Meets Swimming

In the "Things-You-Never-Thought-About-Department" we discover that a new swimsuit designed by Speedo with help from NASA and lots of other organizations containing smart people is helping swimmers set new world records. Video of the awesome suit is here. Predictably, swimming's world body, FINA, is concerned about the advantages this suit conveys and will be meeting next month to discuss the thickness of the material used and, possibly, the ethics of using it at all.

I wonder if doping is also a concern in swimming?

Wait, was that Dick Pound's beeper I just heard going off?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In the Beginning...

"In the beginning God created the bicycle, saw that it was good, then went for a nice Sunday ride on the bike lanes He'd made the day before, and they were good, too, because they were new and He had the angels keep them clear of debris. Later, of course, God would get cross and have the flood wash all the good ones away."
--Cycling Plus, January 2001

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another Thing I'm Not

I just learned that I'm also not one of the "World's 50 Most Powerful Blogs" either. Yeah, me and forty two million others...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Setting Out


Saturday morning. I'm still learning how to use my camera and what the best default setting would be for when it's in my jersey pocket. I like to use the continuous drive mode while riding, but this limits which shooting modes I can use. I am also learning that most changes to default settings are lost when the camera powers down. The net result of all this is that this shot was overexposed. I did my best to fix it in Photoshop and felt it looked better in black and white. Still not happy with it. Also, I missed a later shot of the xXx-Athletico paceline when I inadvertently put the camera in timer mode, not continuous drive mode. Damn gloves!

Oh, and it was a great day for a ride too!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fed Up

I agree with Donna. All the infighting, the drug problems (both real and alleged) and the whining have me fed up with pro cycling. I'm going to use that extra time to ride more, stretch after riding and maybe post more to this stupid little blog.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Weblog Awards

The results of the 2008 Bloggies are in. No, I didn't win (thanks, Barb for nominating me). The best sports blog was Fat Cyclist, so props to him. He was, of course, humble about wining. The runners up were Kickette, The Big Lead, Up in Alaska, and Deadspin.

Monday, March 10, 2008

RideStrong

Go here. Sign up. Maybe you'll win a bike.

Up in Alaska: Aftermath

Up in Alaska: Aftermath Congratulations Jill. You made it. I really enjoyed reading about your adventure. Except how it made me feel like a wimp for not riding here in the relative warmth of 20 degrees knowing that at the end of my ride was a hot cup of coffee. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sexiest Sports

What sports make you most attractive to the opposite sex? The Quirkology website has offered the results of their experiment, involving "6000 people indicating which sporting activities would make a member of the opposite sex more attractive." The results? The highest percentage of men claimed that they were most attracted to women into aerobics and yoga and least attracted to women involved in bodybuilding, rugby, and golf. The highest percentage of women found themselves attracted to men in climbing, extreme sports, football and hiking. Women were least attracted to men involved in aerobics and golf. There was no [see comments for update] information provided about cycling, because we know that shaved legs and tight clothing gives us an unfair advantage. Which might also explain why men and women agree that golf is one unsexy sport.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Blood for Oil


Posted on flickr by evithalani

I first saw this here. No further comment needed.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March Ride


What a great day for a ride! It was 40 degrees when we started and 35 miles later, it was 50. The snow on the ground and the sunny skies made for a beautiful ride. And, I have a new camera. As far as I was concerned, this was the first ride of spring.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

This will be my last post on February 29 for four years. Take that!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Snow

And if I had this, perhaps shoveling my driveway would have been more fun (h/t to Fritz at Cyclelicious).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Winter Training

I don't usually read Dave Barry's column for training advice, but in this column, he makes a compelling case for sleeping more as a way to build muscle mass. Winter, of course, is the perfect time to add this to one's training regimen (assuming one has a training regimen).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Song Idea

It's too cold to blog, but I think I can ride.

(sounds vaguely familiar somehow...)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

By Hand


Hand crafted beer - Tasty.
Hand made bread - Delicious.
Hand thrown pottery - Beautiful.
Hand shoveled driveway -

- doesn't have the same appeal.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Top of the Bridge


Rode the North Branch Trail yesterday on the mountain bike. On 4 inches of fresh powder, I had to let nearly all the air out of my tires for any traction and still it was quite the workout. I took this on the bridge over Caldwell and Oakton.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Love My Bike

One reason why it is especially important to make sure your saddle is at the right height.



Anyone understand Dutch?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dangers

I stumbled across this cool chart:


And decided to see what happens if I look for cycling. As a control (geek alert) I googled (or is that Googled?): "Died in a skydiving accident" and "Died in an elevator accident" and found that these numbers had increased by about 10% since this chart was made. The results for "Died in a blogging accident" has increased to 46,000 hits (yes, 46 thousand), due, I'm certain, not to the increased dangers of blogging, but to bloggers citing this chart.

Anyway, the results for: various cycling terms are as follows:
bicycle: 4460
cycling: 1430
biking: 395
pedaling: 0

Sadly, the first item that comes up in the search for "died in a cycling accident" is the death of Stereolab vocalist Mary Hansen in 2002.

OK, in a post that was supposed to be humorous, I seem to have taken a turn for the morbid. I'm going to stop digging now.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

On Schedule?

According to the Chicago Tribune which cited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), Chicago's "climatologically" coldest week of winter arrived on schedule this week.

And today is the 23rd anniversary of the coldest day in Chicago history. It was my first winter in Chicago and I woke up to a temperature of -27 degrees and wind chills down to about -90.

I didn't' ride that day either.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Place For Your Unused Bikes

I just learned that Working Bikes Cooperative will be collecting donated bikes at the January 19 Chicago Winter Bike Swap. So bring your old, tired, used, unused, disused, useless, lonely, misfit or just the bikes you no longer need.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Last Chance Appeal

Floyd Landis's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will be on March 19. I've not been keeping up with for months so I'll just point that date out and refer you to TBV for all (and I do mean all) the details.

I wonder what major league baseball would look like if their approach to doping were the same as cycling's?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Morning Ride


35 degrees, cloudy and a stiff west wind made this a great day for my first 50-mile ride of the new year.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cyclocross 2008

Through my friends at Chicago Bike Racing, I see that there is a tentative schedule for the 2008 Chicago Cyclocross Cup. There are 7 races on this schedule (Moline is new for 2008) and in the comments section at the CBR post comes word that Beverly Bike-Vee Pak may also try an add a race as well. They are having a a USAC sanctioned, non-competitive cyclocross ride on February 10 to "see how it goes". Flyer here. I'll be there.

In other news, there will be a 'cross race in Viroqua, Wisconsin on January 19. That's about 4+ hours away, so I don't think I'm going. At least, not this year.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chicago Winter Bike Swap

The Chicago Winter Bike Swap is this next Saturday (January 19) at the Old Orchard Country Club in Mount Prospect. Details here. There is a bike swap in Madison, Wisconsin this Saturday (the 12th).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Rule of Thumb

I did a quick check of the eponymously named web site Rules of Thumb for one about cycling. The closest I found was #2250: "An ideal weight for an endurance athlete, in pounds, is twice his height in inches." Being 5'11" that would make my ideal weight 142 lbs. This leads me to #3042, "The Two Keys to Dieting: Consume less and/or metabolize more. Any diet plan, supplement or gadget will only help you do one of these two things. Ultimately, you can save a lot of frustration and money by doing nothing more than consciously and continually choosing to eat less and get more exercise."

Starting tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Driving Under Presure

BBC News reports that a French company has developed a car that runs on compressed air, will be produced by India's Tata Motors and it may be on sale in Europe and India by year end. More details here, but essentially a fill up (recharge? pressurization?) will cost about $3 for about a 125 mile range. Perfect for a city car or a second car for those of us in the suburbs. Also noteworthy is that its exhaust is non-polluting.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Warm Out Today

How's this for an apres ride picture? It was an unseasonably warm 47 out today. Tons of snow melt made the roads wet and gritty. Everyone was kicking up rooster tails of salt water, even fenders were of limited help. Even so, it's a treat to get in a 40 mile ride in January without shoe warmers, tons of layers and gloves the size of medieval gauntlets.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The New Year

This is one idea for the new year:

And here's another:

Perhaps there's a way to do both?