Bike To work month 2012

Training for the Vermont City marathon is going … well, it’s going. It’s kind of been nice – my goal has been to just actually run the marathon, rather than getting wrapped up with trying to hit a time goal or anything like that. So, I’ve just been running. Which is nice.

I’m still up in the air as to the marathon being a good idea or not, but it’s registered, paid for, and less than a month away, so I’m kind of committed now. I’m happy about it – two more twenties, then taper, then run. Ought to be good.

Wrinkle in the plan, however, is the Gran Fondo NYC – 100 miles on the bike the week before the marathon. Steve R. and I headed out for 50 miles this weekend, felt pretty good, so I think that I’ll survive. I do, however, need to make sure to take advantage of “Bike to Work” month and ride.

So, I did this morning, despite rain. Felt great to be out in solid spring weather. Looking forward to another two weeks, then some travel, and a solid final week.

Commuted Joy

Got my eyes dilated at the optometrist this afternoon. So, no staring at a screen for the rest of the afternoon. Plus, it’s about 5 when I’m done. Hour of twilight left. Hey, why not take the long way home?

Commute home

Smugness quotient was in full effect this evening. There was a wreck on IH-95 headed north, so CT-184 was bumper-to-bumper all the way from the Gold Star bridge to Mystic. Went under the interstate by the reservoir – Standstill. And US 1 was also at a standstill. Only had one driver be a jerk and squeeze me off of the road as I passed on the right.

I dropped onto the two-track at Bluff Point. Did the loop, tore through Haley Farm. I couldn’t see squat. It was awesome. Somehow, being dilated and not really being able to see gave me mystical abilities to pick lines – man, I had FLOW going. Almost like Douglas Adams’ mythical Peril Sensitive Sunglasses – I just felt the trail.

Man, it just felt good. Dragged along the Amtrak right of way, didn’t have to dab a foot coming onto the pedestrian bridge, and threaded the gate into Haley Farm. Turns out I pulled a couple of mountain bikers back to the parking lots – no lights on them. They scared the crap out of me. But it was pretty cool – love me some cyclists.

Then up Brook Street, down 117 to downtown, and home along River Road.

All in all, the bike’s been berry, berry good to me. Love the commute.

Caso Contador

So, Contador is officially a doper. I’d be happy, ‘cept, not really.
On one hand, I’m happy he’s busted – that cycling has absolutely the most aggressive no tolerance policy in all of sport is something to be touted, especially after the legacy of the 80s and 90s.

On the other hand, the CAS case against Contador’s especially weak – it doesn’t make a clean case that Contador was systematic doping, leaves open the possibility that it really was contaminated meat, and doesn’t make any accommodation for 18 months of racing, lots of testing, and winning freakin’ two grand tours, really decisively in the case of the 2011 Giro.

24 months seems to be the CAS’ standard sentence for a doping positive. So, it’s not surprising that Contador got the standard.

On the other hand, CAS left itself open to the counter charge that it’s screwing Contador just to make an example. In which case I’m disappointed – The amount of clenbuterol in his system is a tribute to our ability to detect minute concentrations of anything. Stripping him of two titles earned under extremely close scrutiny serves only to throw closer scrutiny on the existing cycling anti-doping efforts, and impugns every other cyclist currently riding.

That it took almost two years to come to this decision, during which Contador continued to ride under threat of having results overturned, keeping the entire sport in limbo, is an indictment of CAS process. Justice delayed is justice denied. For a career that really spans from about 24 to 34 for most Grand Tour contenders, two years means that there’s going to be a lot of asterixes as drug tests continue to improve.

I still don’t like Contador, but he’s getting screwed. He deserves something for popping positive, but two tours stripped, two years late? Not justice.

Update – The long arm of Justice is still reaching out for Armstrong – WADA requested the evidience the US Grand Jury accumulated while looking for Fraud at US Postal.

Missed It

We’re having a really, really late Indian Summer (Indian Spring?) this week. Nine inches of snow this weekend (My lovely wife insists it was only six, but since when did women have a good judge for size?), all completely gone and almost 40 degrees this morning when I woke up. No excuse not to ride the bike, right?

So, I did, and what a difference it made. 28 and a half minutes for the 7 miles into work, clean lungs, and the best parking spot in the building.

Run on Purpose had a good post this morning on maintaining mental state for getting out the door:

One of the things I talk with my oldest son about is the remote control idea to discipline. As any older brother he gets his fair share of being tested by his younger brother. We often talk about who has control of his emotions. Does he give the remote control of his emotions to his brother or does he take charge.

I’ve used a simlar strategy with my boys, but hadn’t taken at as far as ROP does – and to be fair, the weather, or work, or any number of things get my remote more often than I’d care to admit. One thing I really admire about my lovely wife is that she’s in complete charge of her remote – doesn’t do a thing unless it’s on her plan, or in line with whatever she wants to accomplish in a given day. Wish that I had a tenth of her willpower on crap like that.

Late January Brewing News

I bottled the Tri-Pale Ale this weekend. The bottling part went smoothly – boil some Dry Malt Extract, add it to the wort, siphon into bottles, and then cap. What I’d forgotten was how much of a pain in the butt cleaning bottles was. Luckily, in addition to those that I’d been squirreling away for the last couple of months, I’d been donated some large Grolsh-style bottles. Put on new washers, and, man, how easy is that? These are meant to be shared…Rye pale ale bottled

Next batch is teed up, too – my wonderful Mother-In-Law gave me a pilsner kit for Christmas; need to get on that while the basement is chilly. So, I took 4 ounces of light dry malt extract last night, boiled them up, cooled them down, and pitched the White Labs Pilsner Yeast that came with the kit. Largely a precautionary step, but, having been a while since I’ve brewed, I forgot to refrigerate the yeast when the kit arrived, so it’s also an opportunity to go get more yeast if it’s not viable. We’ll know in the morning, but signs are hopeful. The tube of yeast smelled great, and was under pretty good positive pressure when I opened it, so if the starter is bubbling happily today, everything is copacetic.Lager Starter


Winter is making me her snitch. Short days, a little dose of Seasonally Affected Disorder, busy at work, and a lack of give a crap make it easy to fall off the wagon.

Can’t let it happen. Just can’t.

So, I jumped on the treadmill again. J., the oldest, had swim; I drove and ran. Broke out the heart rate monitor, set the treadmill for 7 MPH, and hung on at 80% for 35 minutes. I was actually pretty pleased – in the past, the mill has slowed me way down after about 20 minutes to keep my heart rate down; tonite I just kept cruising.

Eating isn’t quite the struggle that it has ben, but I haven’t been hitting the physical hard the last couple of weeks. Need to pick it up – four months until Gran Fondo NYC, not much more until Vermont City.

Posted in Run

Busting the Zero

Internet, I’ve been in a funk lately. Partially weather driven, partially work driven, mostly slacker-induced. But I think I’ve turned the corner tonight. First run in a week or so.

Instead of sitting my butt on the couch after 12 hours at the office tonite, and another hour of work pending for the part-time job, I watched Dr. Who (Dum da dum, Dr. Whoo-ooh, dum da dum) while cranking out a couple of miles on the treadmill.

And that, for the hour or so I had the endorphin high, seems to have made all the distance.

Still haven’t biked to work in 2012. Which is a serious case of needing some Rule 5 (and missing out on Rule 9). New self sealing tubes in the commuter last night, which was ironic, ’cause the Cage (car) needed some air in the tires in the 15F this morning.

I’m still spun up about the runner who was killed by a careless driver in my folks’ neighborhood last week. In that vein, it doesn’t help to hear that a cricketer in Australia’s the latest to pick up the “Get off the road, geeks” mantle. The Sydney Morning Herald has a good take on it, though:

The important concept that non-cyclists often ignore is that we are all road users. … I also see a consistent improvement in the consideration they show for cyclists. Every year, there is a noticeable improvement in courtesy, patience and a general awareness of riders as valid road users, and for this I am very grateful.
Cyclists need to be beyond reproach in our use of the road to maintain the respect of motorists. But I would also love for every registered driver in Melbourne to ride a bike to and from work every day for a week.

OK, I’m harshing my mellow – need to accentuate the positive. Life’s good, winter will someday end, I’ve got a frame I love. We’ll end with some gratuitous nakedness:


If you’re lucky, I’ll show some closeups and soft focus on the rear dropouts later.

This Blog is Blacked Out

Google has a good link describing SOPA and PIPA, and why you should care. Lots of other sites have gone black. I would, but am feeling lazy and don’t want to muck about with CSS.

My major objections are two:

  • piracy and copyright violations are already illegal, and RIAA/MPAA have been pretty successful at identifying and prosecuting pirates.
  • the Internet works and promotes innovation by virtue of simply defining itself as a transport mechanism and peering agreements. Changing that to require deeper inspection changes the ‘Information Superhighway’ into a train station, where you can’t get on unless you’ve got a ticket, and can’t get off unless there’s a station.
  • I accept that the Internet as it existed in the 1990s and earlier does need to continue to evolve and change. However, I object strenuously to changes that don’t preserve openness, flexibility, and end-user control of data. These laws remind me of gun control and cell phone laws – it’s already illegal to pirate copyrighted works, shoot people, and drive recklessly; making it more illegal isn’t going to stop the activity.

    Unpaid Advertisement

    Go pro or go home

    So, a couple of weeks ago, I caught a tweet about VeloInk. Having had a desire to have my name on the toptube ever since Trek started offering the Project One line during Lance Armstrong’s reign.

    Anyway, Matt at Veloink was amazing. Within an hour or so of me placing the order, he’d dropped me an email to confirm that, yes, indeed, I really wanted the Nutmeg state flag, rather than something that’d be clean at the resolution his machine could print. I said “Yep”, figuring that it’d either be funny to those who recognized the flag, or an obvious but inside joke to those that didn’t pick up on it. And mostly, it’d be an attention grabber to pimp this website. And maybe, just maybe, a theft deterrent.

    I went with plain white with black letters – not quite original, but there were plenty of other choices.

    They’ve been sticking solidly to my commuter for 3 months in the cold and rain.

    Eventually, I’ll have my dream of a custom frame with custom paint and lovingly hand-lettered “Jank” on the top tube. However, that’s somewhere about a decade away (Got to get the kids into college before my marriage will survive the request); till then VeloInk rocks. $18 well spent.

    Road User Safety

    I’m going to run on at the mouth for a while.

    I don’t understand why such a vast swath of the country lets careless drivers completely off the hook. Cars and trucks are the deadliest things we touch on a regular basis, especially now that smoking has become completely unacceptable.

    In 2007, the last year for which the CDC has posted mortality data on its website, almost 44,000 Americans were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Lung cancer and emphysema killed almost three times more, but I’ll guarantee you that there are way more than three times more commercials encouraging Americans not to smoke than there are encouraging them to slow down and be careful when driving. In comparison, “Water, air and space, and other and unspecified transport accidents and their sequelae” (Plane crashes and non-automotive crashes, including bikes) – less than 2,000 fatalities. And this includes drunk boaters, stunt pilots, everyone who is petrified of flying ’cause it’s ‘unsafe’ and idiot cyclists.

    My Ma had a woman in her neighborhood hit and killed by driver yesterday. My mom was pretty seriously affected by it – she and Dad were out walking when it happened, and saw the helicopter fly off with the woman’s soon-to-be-lifeless body. She posted about it on Facebook:

    Tuesday, as the sun was setting, Bill & I heard sirens as we were returning from a walk. Then Air Lift landed. A young mother of two was struck by a car as she walked. She died last night. A stark reminder that each day we have is a gift. If you walk or run on the roads Please face traffic and don’t wear ear buds. Be alert!

    What torques me off about this is that almost everyone’s gut reaction is to suggest ways to be safer when using the road as a runner or cyclist, rather than to point out ways to be a safer driver. The KGNB article said:

    Troopers say the driver of the car will not face any criminal charges since the incident has been ruled an accident. But DPS officials strongly urge joggers or walkers to stay on sidewalks as much as possible, and if you’re going to walk or jog in the street, to do so going AGAINST the flow of traffic.

    When I protested that the driver bore much of the blame for the woman’s killing, my sister-in-law said:

    Appreciate your point Billy, but I also think that we have to be smart and reduce as many risks as possible and be responsible for our own actions. I almost hit our neighbor’s dog who was crossing the street because the sun was in my eyes when I came around the corner.

    To me, the knee-jerk reaction to suggest things that the runner could have done differently is akin to saying “Well, she was asking for it” when a woman gets raped.

    Yes, there are things that runners, pedestrians, and cyclists can do to reduce their exposure to traffic, but the right to use public roadways should not come with a government individual mandate that every citizen purchase an automobile and petroleum or forefit their right to use the roads. Furthermore, the moral responsibility for protecting life should rightly rest with the person with the most ability to do harm – the person operating the two-ton motor vehicle.

    In this case, the runner was in a very low-population density neighborhood, on a straight road with pretty big shoulders and good sight-lines. My rewrite of the incident would be more like this:

    A young mother of two was killed last night by a careless driver, driving faster than was considered prudent given the limited visibility due to the setting sun. A stark reminder that each day is a gift. If you drive, make sure you do not take that gift from anyone else.

    If the driver had blown 0.08% on a breathalyzer, the driver would be in jail right now, regardless of the sun conditions. Sadly, for a sober driver, the setting sun seems to be implicitly endorsed by the Texas Department of Public Safety as a good reason to commit vehicular manslaughter.

    (The Driver) was “impaired by the sun” and did not see the bicyclists, officials said. Both riders were wearing helmets, the DPS said. (“Because the cyclists would be completely at fault for being run over from behind if they weren’t wearing helmets”, the DPS implied)

    The roads are a public good. That the dead woman was jogging for health or recreation is immaterial – she would be just as dead if she were walking to pick up her kids from a playdate, or riding her bike home from work – using the roads for transport. There should not be an implicit unfunded individual mandate that the only way to use the road is to purchase gasoline and an automobile.

    I didn’t know the woman who was killed by the careless driver in Spring Branch yesterday, but this is personal to me. I’d like to think that I’m just as protected from careless drivers by the law when I ride my bike to work as I am when I drive to work, but all the evidence suggests that a driver who plows into me from behind will get off scott free if I’m on my bike, and only be held accountable if they total my VW while killing me.

    Transport for America has a great interactive website that goes through fatalities by state, but I’m not convinced that just spending money on ‘infrastructure’ will save lives. People need to be held accountable, even if it’s ‘an accident’, when they kill a pedestrian or cyclist. Do it often enough, and the bloodshed will stop.