Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mike Schott Memorial Circuit Race

This was supposed to be a race report about the Mike Schott Memorial Circuit Race, but I didn't go. I could have, but circumstances beyond my control influenced my decision.

Instead, I shall write about George.

I've known George since 1992. I've never known him to be especially nice, but he seemed to like me. In other words, He never was mean or insulting to me, and to the best of my knowledge never spoke ill of me to others. He was an intelligent man, given especially to correct english usage, and a fan of the more modern erudite authors such as Vidal and Buckley. I had many illuminating conversations over the years with George, though I could never get to point where I felt any sort of emotion toward him more than as an acquaintance.

George didn't have alot of friends. As he got older, he alienated more and more of them,including most of his own family. It turns out George was emotionally abusive to his family, and as a result all his children left home as soon as they had means. His wife was not quite so fortunate. She is of a generation and culture that teaches women to honor and obey their husbands. Fortunately that was not a quality they instilled in their children. I witnessed cruelty to his wife once, and his son immediately took him to task, shouting him into another room while others consoled his wife. His abuse was never physical, but emotional abuse leaves scars that run just as deep.

My wife called me last Friday afternoon to tell me that George had died. George was her father.

His passing was not sudden, so everyone had time to come to terms with the finality. My wife had an abbreviated period of grief, which had passed by the time I met her after she called me. She made the comment; 'he stopped being my father 20 years ago'. Her mother, Georges wife, made the decision that there would be no official wake or funeral. George had burned pretty much any sense of good will over the years,to the point that some of his close relatives, upon hearing that there would be no memorial service, passed on anything more than a phone call. I understand one of his cousins laughed when she heard the news.

The true sadness here is the true goodness and warmth of Georges wife. She is a sweet and kind woman, forgiving and supportive, and always ready with a hug. She loves large family gatherings and thinks nothing of taking day trips to visit relatives - provided George allowed her and she was home before dark. She didn't deserve the treatment she got from George. Many people - especially his children - repeatedly criticised him for his treatment of his wife. As of this sunday - two days after his passing - His wife was dispersing some of Georges personal items and rearranging the furniture. With the help of my wife, she has already planned a trip to florida to see her brother who moved there 25 years ago. She has only seen him when he visits back north, as she was never allowed to travel to see him in florida.

The last time I actually spoke to George was earlier this week. My wife and I were visiting to help her mother, as George had become more and more difficult for her to deal with. He kept trying to get out his bed, but apparently was no longer cognizant of the fact that he couldn't walk. His wife and I put the sides up in his hospital bed, keeping him in place as he was only strong enough to roll from side to side. He called me a bastard.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

this sort of thing just warms my heart

Glad to know I'm of service in broadening peoples horizons

from feedjit

Nashua, New Hampshire arrived from on "the zen of cycling: The Hardware - Il Campione del Cantina - Basso Gap" by searching for basso frame names late 80's. 1 hour 10 mins ago

Nashua, New Hampshire left via from "the zen of cycling: The Hardware - Il Campione del Cantina - Basso Gap"
1 hour 6 mins ago

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Houston, We Have Lift-Off

I lost my Polar 720 HRM. Again. This is the third time. They don't make the 7xx series anymore. I'd get a newer version, but I have the Power Output Pod that goes with the 7xx series and the new CS HRMs from Polar aren't compatible. Besides that, there are alot of 720 HRMS out there that work fine, but have a broken strap or bezel, that people dump on ebay cheap.

So I did a bit of surfing (between my porn quests) and found a used 720 on craigslist for $100. It allegedly worked fine, but it was in fucking Utah. The woman selling it HRM had a Ph.D. in her sig, so I googled her because I like to see how full of shit people are. Turns out she has PH.D. in psychology, and is in clinical practice as well as academia (albeit exclusively in mormon enclaves). One site she contributes to notes she has six kids. So after a couple emails, I felt satisfied that it was legit (I mean, mormons aren't supposed to lie, right?) so I bought it.

So I get the thing, and it was exactly as advertised, very clean, 100% working. Excellent. I set the thing up for me, and notice there are a whole bunch of exercise files, so I download them. Each exercise had one weird characteristic. At the beginning of the excercise the altitude showed pretty close to Zero, then in 15 seconds it shoots up to 4700 feet.

That's a climb rate of 18,800 feet per minute. While it isn't exactly escape velocity, it _is_ an average speed of 213 MPH. Anyone care to calculate the power needed to move a human 4700 feet in 15 seconds, straight up (account for gravity _and_ air resistance)? Yes, the altitude function of the HRM _does_ work, as is shown in this plot from a run earlier this week:

So I emailed the previous owner and asked about it. I speculated that the owner may have been in an commercial air-conditioned space when they started the HRM, then went outside. The location of the previous owner was American Fork, UT, which is at 4600 feet. A commercial building with an appropriate air conditioning system would pressurize the building and could fool the barometric sensor in the HRM into thinking it was at sea level until he left the building.

This is the reply I got:

"That does sound quite amazing. I'm not familiar with the watch myself. It was my husbands who use to do triathlons. He passed away last year."


Lift-off, indeed.

So here I doubted the integrity of this woman by googling her credentials, find out she's legit, find out it belonged to her deceased husband, and she's taking care of the six kids by herself now.

I feel this big.

Monday, March 15, 2010

sometimes it doesn't suck so bad

If you've been paying any attention to the weather in new england, you'll know it's been completely fucked up. They predicted rain from wednesday through sunday, and it didn't start until late saturday. Of course, by then, it made up for it. We allegedly got about 9" of rain in my little corner of the world, with consistent 30 mph winds.

Still, I had a decent weekend in terms of work outs. Friday I got a decent session in with the freeweights. I pushed more squats of higher weight than anytime this winter. No, I'm not going to tell you how much weight I have on the bar. It isn't much, and I'm not trying to impress anyone with my squat-stats. Let's just say I missed my goal for the season, but not by much.

Saturday, I did a 45 minute trail run with my dog, followed by two hours of MTN bike. I clicked off the 13 miles of my favorite local loop in 1:40, which is actually a decent pace for much later in the year. The round trip from the house to the trails and back took just over 2 hours. I consider a sub two-hour trip for that circuit to be pretty good, and considering there was still alot of _very_ soft terrain I was quite happy with it.

Sunday was in fact the washout. I sat around most of the day with my legs elevated, and didn't feel bad about it. I watched a few good movies and surfed a lot of porn.

I should get a few more commutes in this week, it's supposed to clear up today, and considering the tenuous situation of the new england velodrome, I'll be hitting the road bike earlier than planned instead of staying with the fixed gear for the rest of the month.

I leave you with chicks on bikes:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

solobreak has left a new comment on your post "Hey, Tough guy"

Fixed gear riding is not a canard as derided by its detractors, nor a panacea as glorified by its proponents. Some fixed gear training is good, and if you have some designs on actually competing in the discipline a bit more is better. Solo left a comment on my last post that was so full of misinformation that I felt the need to address them in a separate post.

> Lemond and Ray have it correct.

No they don't.

> All else being equal, going slower requires less power.

Thank you, captain obvious

> In this case "equal" means rider, weight, tires, not the gearing.

Wrong. When I'm the only fixed gear in a group of ten riders on geared bikes, nothing is equal. The gear restriction is _THE_ critical factor. If I want to go faster, I have to pedal faster, end of story. When you're coasting down hill at 30 mph, I have to spin a cadence of 150 just to keep up. Even in the situation where my 'power' is being derived from gravity, the very act of spinning a cadence that high for more than 60 seconds is a lot of work. If I want to keep up on the flats when you're cruising at 25 MPH in your 53x16 at a cadence of 100, I'm spinning _and_ pushing power at 125 rpm. I'm working a lot harder, weight is of no consideration here.

Now let's consider climbing - forcing my 42x16 over hills that you've dropped into your 39x19 takes significantly more effort on my part, and this is demonstrable in terms of basic physics: W=Fd. With out getting too heavily into the math, it takes more work to complete one rotation of the crankarms using ratio of 42/16 than it does to complete one rotation with a ratio of 39x19. Factor in the exponential increase of the vector force of gravity (proportional to gradient) and you can see where it leads: You're spinning a comfortable cadence in your efficient zone, I'm power lifting. This brings us to biomechanical efficiency:

> If fixed is "harder" it's because it's a less efficient way of producing the same result. In other words, you are wasting energy.

This is partially right. There are two things to consider here; Mechanical efficiency and biomechanical efficiency.

Biomechanical efficiency - We know that we have a 'sweet spot' where producing a certain amount of power at a certain cadence is the most comfortable, and you could extrapolate that to be the most efficient in terms of biomechanics. You could also consider it in terms of a efficient balance between fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fiber usage. Spinning too fast forces you to use more energy on the fast twitch, grinding too slow uses too much slow twitch, i.e. you can't keep up a speed of 20 mph spinning a cadence of 150 or 50 for as long as you can with a cadence of 100 . From that perspective, excessively high or low cadences are in fact inefficient. (I'll go into the training aspects of this later)

Mechanical efficiency - from a strict mechanical perspective, fixed drive trains are more efficient, and anyone who does not understand and agree with that statement is wrong through either ignorance or arrogance. It's provable in terms of physics, both in theory and practice. In any _given_ ratio, a fixed gear _will_ be more efficient than a freewheel. To encapsulate the concept, a fixed drive train has considerable less loss than a freewheel. On a fixed gear, pedaling efficiency is enhanced by the forward momentum of the bicycle, sometimes referred to as a 'return'. Some detractors misconstrue this as 'getting something for nothing'. They're morons.

You can somewhat emulate this (i.e. minimize drivetrain loss) with a freewheel and a super-efficient pedal stroke, but your stroke would have to be pushing the realm of 90%+ efficiency (even more with a derailleur). Not likely. Most riders who say they can get the same effect as a fixed gear by riding one-gear are full of shit, letting their bloviated egos claim they have a super efficient pedal stroke. These people are asshats that any serious rider could drop over a speed bump.

Here are two easy experiments that will prove out the concepts -

Find a steep hill of reasonable length (big blue would work for Solo). Set up a fixed-gear in a gear that you would be comfortable riding mostly flat roads with. Ride the hill. Next, take your heaviest geared bike and ride the hill with gear you feel comfortable in. You will notice that riding the fixie up that beast was not only harder, but also took more time than the heavy geared bike. This will disprove the statement "equal means rider, weight, tires, not the gearing".

Next, find a flat/predominantly uphill course. Take your geared bike, ride the course and pick _ONE_ comfortable gear, so that you are attempting somewhat of a TT, concentrate on riding a smooth cadence in the _ONE_ gear. Next, set up the fixed gear with the same gear you rode the hill on the geared bike. Your effort will be less given the same cadence. Why? drivetrain efficiency. This proves why riding a fixed gear is more efficient than riding a freewheeled bike with the same gearing.

That isn't to say you will _always_ be faster in a fixed gear, there will come a point where your biomechanical inefficiency will significantly affect your ability to ride faster. This is where gears come in handy.

> It is quite a stretch to think that wasting energy by propelling the bike forward in an inefficient manner would be better training than simply being as efficient as possible, and ultimately going faster.

I'm really quite surprised you made that statement, it's completely wrong. Fitness training for bicycle racing _concentrates_ on working your inefficient zones. Do you get faster by riding in your most efficient gear? Only slightly, and only in terms of endurance. HR Zone training will only get you so far. If you spend all your time riding in your most efficient biomechanical/cardiovascular zone, you will plateau quickly and in fact _not_ get faster. You do interval training to become more efficient at producing more power. This - by definition - requires that you propel the bike forward in an inefficient manner, by both riding excessively high and excessively low cadences - again, by definition, inefficient methods of propelling the bike forward.

Take, for example, this article from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. From the abstract:

"High-resistance interval training produces substantial gains in sprint and endurance performance of cyclists in the competitive phase of a season. Here, we report the effect of changing the cadence of the intervals. We randomized 18 road cyclists to 2 groups for 4 weeks of training. Both groups replaced part of their usual training with 8 30-minute sessions consisting of sets of explosive single-leg jumps alternating with sets of high-intensity cycling sprints performed at either low cadence (60-70 min-1) or high cadence (110-120 min-1) on a training ergometer."

"Low-cadence interval training is probably more effective than high-cadence training in improving performance of well-trained competitive cyclists".

But, to add a caveat to that last line from here:

"higher pedaling rates will preserve more glycogen in the fast-twitch muscle fibers, leading to faster and more powerful finishes at the end of the race."

Or, to paraphrase Thomas Dolby

"if you want my opinion
it doesn't mean a thing,
if you haven't got
the ability to spin"

So here's what we've learned here today:

- Riding a fixed gear in a group with geared/freewheel riders is more work because you're constantly in and out of your most efficient biomechanical/cardiovascular zones.

- riding in and out of your efficient biomechanical/cardiovascular zones are a critical component to becoming a stronger, more efficient cyclist

- Greg Lemond is suffering from lead-poisoning induced dementia

- Solobreak is wrong on this issue.

Any questions?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Hey, Tough guy"

Or maybe, notsomuch. "Hey, Tough Guy" is the favorite term of endearment from the Chronoman when one is performing, er, _attempting_ to perform some act of cycling prowess, strength, or endurance. He usually utters it after the futile attempt, as a reminder that it didn't work.

I've made a conscious decision to ride the Fixed Gear as much as possible for the month of march. I rode a total of 6 hours on saturday and sunday, just over 90 miles worth. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but riding the fixed for 3 hours is a lot more work than riding gears for the same distance. Hauling it up hills, spinning it down, no coasting. It gets to you when you can't coast to stretch after 40 miles. My intent is to get up to the track in londonderry on a regular basis, and I'm going to need some skills with regards to riding at speed in a group. I have two brakes on the the bike, but I've been focusing on controlling speed with my legs and staying off the brakes. No, I'm not going to take the brakes off the bike as long as I'm riding on the road with it. Too dangerous - for me anyways.

For what it's worth, what's up with the track? Their website hasn't been updated since last fall. No 2010 schedule yet. I'd think they would at least be open weekends by now. Anyone has any info, please point me to the link.

I got my first commute of 2010 in today as well, on the fixed gear, through lawrence. No brakes? I say, nay nay.

so much for being a tough guy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ads we'd like to see: 1-800-BLOW-ME

This post isn't what you think it's about. I got the latest issue of Velonews the other day, and during the cover-to-cover perusal I saw something I didn't expect.

I've been getting Velonews for over 15 years by subscription. My wife started it after we got married, and renews it every year. I enjoy the magazine, though it wouldn't break my heart if I stopped getting it. She buys it for me because she knows I enjoy it...She's good that way.

I've written in a few times, and been published twice. Once was around 1999 when usa cycling was going through all of its reorgs and I was commenting that they (usac) didn't really seem to be paying much attention to grass roots maintenance. Another time was when I called out lennard zinn for his comparison of a 29r vs a 26" wheeled mtb. He rode two different bikes from two different manufacturers with different gear ratios and different crank lengths and then sung praises of the 29r. I told him it wasn't a fair test since he had the 29r set up for him complete with 180mm cranks, the other bike was stock, and he didn't ensure the gearing was equivalent to account for the wheel diameter difference. He replied that I was full of shit, but didn't challenge any of my criticisms.

I wrote in again last week over this:

That's a scan of page 79 of the April 2010 issue. That's an ad for a gay chat line/dating service in the upper right. (Clickie makie biggie). Some bike shops carry the magazine, drop into your LBS and see for yourself.

Now, I'm as sufferably liberal as you'll ever see. I've never made a secret about my opinion that this country should adopt a much more open - european, if you will - attitude about sex and sexuality. I believe a persons sexual preference is as mundane as their anchovy preference. Hey, those little hairy stinky abominations make me want to puke, and any food that's been prepared with them in the near vicinity should be ground up and used as fertilizer. I can _not_ understand how anyone could tolerate them, let alone prefer them. Gays, I don't mind. Gay marriage, sure, go nuts, doesn't affect me in the least bit. But you _know_ what sort of maelstrom this ad is going to generate. I can't imagine Velonews didn't know it as well. The only criticism I could offer over the ad was that it wasn't cycling related, and even that, I didn't mind. Velonews often has ads that aren't cycling related.

This is what I wrote:

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I'm surprised it took this long. I've been a subscriber to velonews since 1994 (and I have the library to prove it) and it seems to me I've seen a dating service advertisement 'geared' towards cyclists in the past. Something along the lines of a 'singles cycling weekend' analogous to a singles cruise strikes a tone , but I may have that wrong. The April issue of Velonews, however took it a step further. Just a generic dating ad sans the cycling component.....but wait. It wasn't _quite_ generic.....was it.... A dating service ad would have done little more to me than raise an eyebrow. This one made me raise _both_ eyebrows. No, 'eyebrow' is not a euphemism, they are the hair-covered ridges over my eyes (I do in fact have two). I have no problem with Velonews accepting and placing ads for relationship services, it just caught me a bit by surprise. I'm confident enough in my manhood and my marriage not to be threatened by such advertisements or openly gay men and women. It's not me you're going to have to worry about, it's the element in our society that finds such activities an anathema to nuclear families, the sanctity of marriage, and the will of whatever intolerant version of god they choose to worship. I can hear the complaints now: 'what's next? ads for NAMBLA?'. Be careful, some of these people carry guns.

In the early 90's I was the president of my bike club, and as such was afforded the opportunity to attend the USCF annual convention in Long Beach, CA. One of the proposals up for ratification was the modification of the anti-discriminatory bylaw to include sexual orientation language (this is currently intact under USAC bylaw D section 4). When I saw the proposal on the agenda, I didn't think twice about it. It really seemed like a no-brainer. Well, others in attendance thought differently, culminating in a 'gentleman' railing against the board of directors for "Promoting sexual deviance" (yes, that's a quote, I remember him red-faced and frothing to this day). Fortunately, Tolerance ruled the day and the change was overwhelmingly approved. Make no mistake about it, intolerance base on fear, ignorance and inbred prejudice are rife, not only in the general public, but even in the cycling world. You will undoubtedly suffer a few cancellations over this. I hope you don't, but you will, and I think you already knew that. Rest assured, I've been a subscriber for over 15 years, and what will be argued by the irrational fear-mongers as implicit support of alternative lifestyles on the part of Velonews will do nothing to change that.

I received a reply from Velonews editor-in-chief Ben Delaney saying that ad was permanently banned.

I'm just hoping it was done for the right reasons, and not for irrational prejudice. The ad didn't belong in Velonews because of the _type_ of service it offered - a chat line - not because of the target audience. They should perhaps put a policy in place prohibiting non-cycling related social networking ads, or social networking ads in general, or just say "yeah, how about this ad? 1-800-BLOW-ME you homophobic assholes".

_that's_ an ad I'd like to see.

(this one's just for judi)