A goal slips by, a goal becomes achievable

So, if you’re looking for something interesting to read, swing by Cory Doctorow’s website and download one of his books. I’d recommend starting with his first – “Down and out in the Magic Kingdom”. If you like ’em, buy it. I stole the title from this post from “Someone comes to town, Someone leaves town”.

Anyway, I blew last week’s running schedule. And I blew off this weekend due to it being cold as crap, and me still feeling somewhat under the weather.

But, I did run twice last week, three miles each time, without any trouble with tendons. So, I think I’m close to being over the trouble I had. As always, my mileage may vary, but I think it’s there. And, assuming I can stay healthy, I think that I may still be able to make a fall marathon. I just need to listen to my body.

The short term goal that I’m really, really excited about is back on the bike. A bunch of guys from the church are going to ride Bike New York in May. From the sounds of it, it’s not much of a physical feat – slow due to the crowds, etc. But, I’m pretty excited since it’s getting me back into riding with other folks. I will probably do it on my old MTB, with a pair of slicks on.

I will get a new, comfy seat.

Oh, and we picked up a new bike for my oldest boy this weekend – a sweet Jet 20. It’s on the big side for him, but he’s loving it – it’s got “real” brakes, and big tires. He’s way, way faster than he was on his 12″ wheeled Specialized. I can’t wait until the weather’s nice. He did about a dozen laps around the new Mystic Cycle Center building when we picked it up.

And, since I still feel guilty about my mail-order bike (Which rides well), I got the bits I needed to move the rack onto the new car while I was there.

Anyway, here’s looking forward to good weather next weekend.

I could recommend a couple of brains for dissection:

So, exercise is good for the brain (for sure if you’re a mouse, but maybe even if you’re a person. Slashdot linked to a CNN bit

“Once these findings were established in mice, we were interested in determining how exercise affects the hippocampal cerebral blood volume maps of humans,” … They of course could not dissect the brains of people to see if new neurons grew, but they could use MRI to have a peek. (The experiment) also measured the fitness of each volunteer by measuring oxygen volume before and after the training program. Exercise generated blood flow to the dentate gyrus of the people, and the more fit a person got, the more blood flow the MRI detected, the researchers found.

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Podcasts and Nike+

So, Susie asked

Question for you–there’s no way to use the Nike+ with a podcast, right? I miss Phidip when I’m trying to measure my runs:(“

In case anyone else is interested, I’ve got two hacks that should work:

  1. Create a playlist called “Podcasts” (or whatever) prior to the run, and to drop the podcasts you wanted to hear, in the order you wanted to hear them, into the playlist. Sync prior to the run, and when you get to the point in the setup where you select a playlist, choose “Podcasts”, and the first podcast in the setup should be there.

    To make it more transparent, create a “Smart Playlist” (File->New Smart Playlist). Under rules, set “Artist” “Contains” and the artist of the podcast you want to add. Then, whenever a new episode is downloaded, it will automatically be added to the “Podcast” smart playlist. If you aren’t sure what the “Artist” field is for the podcast you want to add, right click on the column titles when you’re looking at “Podcasts”, and add the column for “Artist”. Or, your smart playlist could just consist of “Podcast” ” is true”.

  2. Alternately, you could start listening to the podcast prior to the run, and when you get to the choose music for the run, choose “Now Playing”, and the podcast will continue playing. You’ll miss a couple of seconds while the voice starts you off, but will hear the rest of the podcast.

Hope this helps.

Singletrack mind

There’s a rule of thumb around here that I picked up in the MTBR forums – don’t go ride singletrack if you wouldn’t ride in your own yard. Saturday and Sunday – absolutely no chance that I’d ride in my yard. This afternoon – four warm days; there’s been a decent amount of melt and runoff, so I figured it was marginal to ride. Given that there was a new bike to be ridden, the balance was tilted in favor of riding.

So, after work, I made it over to Arcadia, 14,000 acres (or about 75% of Rhode Island’s land area), for a little bit of off-roading. I stuck to the ridgelines, and the riding was wonderful. The sandy areas were extremely loose, but the new bike is sporting 2.1″ tires, which seem to float. I used to be a big believer in skinnier tires for off-road, but today’s ride seem to refute that.

Mostly I stuck to two-track – new bike, new disc brakes, and a long time since I’ve ridden off-road, but the couple of sections of real singletrack I tackled were wonderful – classic New England – babies heads, roots, fallen branches, and tunnels through rhodendron. There was still ice in some of the low points, and I wiped out a couple of times, bike sliding sideways from under me, damp leaves crunching under my shoulder. Nothing finer.

Tomorrow’s back to running – 3 miles easy.

Postscript: New England will get its pound of flesh for a wonderful late winter ride – my front tire was completely flat by the time I got home, courtesy of a thorn.

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Darn Tootin’

Seven months after a conclave of scientists downgraded the distant heavenly body to a “dwarf planet,” a state representative in New Mexico aims to give the snubbed world back some of its respect. State lawmakers will vote Tuesday on a bill that proposes “as Pluto passes overhead through New Mexico’s excellent night skies, it be declared a planet.”

Wired News: State Might Make Pluto a Planet

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Fatty’s got a great idea…

Once in a while, a great idea comes up, and today’s is courtesy of Fat Cyclist:

Like-Minded Cyclists + Local Knowledge = Dream VacationFrom here, the UVCV is pretty simple. Each clique would determine for themselves how often they have these vacations, and how many days those vacations last. Each clique member takes turns being a host: putting together an awesome biking vacation for their clique in your home area. When you’re host, you’re responsible for choosing what trails people will ride, where people will stay, picking them up at the airport, arranging with a bike shop to take care of any gear needs travelers will have, where to eat…pretty much everything. You’re Mr. Rork, and your hometown is Fantasy Island.

I’m digging on this idea, especially after hosting Warren last year – it’s a riot to be able to show off your home turf.

So, drop a line if you’re in the SE CT/RI area, and I’d be happy to show you around running, or on any kind of bike, provided you’re willing to wait up.

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A Modest Proposal

Executive Summary:

  • The cost to take a suburban house “off the grid” or nearly so, is in the neighborhood of $30,000 to $40,000. While not extravagant, it’s a figure that gives most middle-class households pause when compared with a $100-$200/month electric bill.
  • To offset this cost, Carbon Credits are used to fund alternative energy installations on existing suburban homes.
  • The benefits of taking suburban houses off the grid are numerous – reduces strain on infrastructure, simplifies disaster response, and provides the initial infrastructure for the much touted “Hydrogen Economy”.
  • Unlike most solutions proposed to be funded with Carbon Credits, this one is achievable TODAY with off-the-shelf technology, not vaporware.

More after the break. For more information, or if you’d like to throw a couple million my way to get this started, leave a comment, or my contact information is on the right. A (very) brief resume is at the end of the post.
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Thursday, I got running again – outside, in real weather (mid 30’s and it felt warm). Towards the end of the run, though, I was winded something fierce.

If I’d done my usual and really pushed, I might have been concerned, but it was 2 miles at an 8:45 pace – shorter and slower than the 4 at 8:20 I’d been averaging before taking February off to deal with PF.

Note to the wise – rest appears to work with PF – now we’ll see if building slowly works to prevent it in the future. Oh, that and staying off of f’n treadmills.

Friday morning, I woke up feeling fine, except for some real soreness in my thighs. Figured it was only small tissue damage from running on real ground, testing the fine motor-control muscles that I haven’t exercised since December, as every step I took on a treadmill was exactly the same as the one before and after.

Boy, was I wrong.

About halfway into a conference call Friday morning, I started getting chilly. The lab runs cold sometimes, so I pulled on my jacket.

Then, the cold sweats and shakes started, and I knew I was screwed.

Made it through the call, and put out a fire (Oh, boy was it a fire – I will discuss over soda/beer if given the chance), and headed home to crawl into bed.

The drive sucked – the heated seats were cranked up to full the whole time, and the heat was on to the point it started to dry out my mouth. I stopped for one nap. Got home around 2 and crawled into bed.

Slept/shivered/sweated for 16 hours straight, getting up to pee and drink more water.

This morning, I felt nearly human again, enough to go drill. Drill was fine – starting a new job there that looks like I’ll fit perfectly. Made it home, and Jake, my oldest boy, says “Hey, daddy. Why don’t we go ride bikes?”

Hmmm, sunny, 50 degrees, I’m no longer feeling near death? Sure, I can keep up with a 6 year old on a singlespeed bike with 12″ wheels.

The ride was all that and a bag of chips. I rode my wife’s bike with the jumpseat for the little brother on the back. We tooled around the neighborhood, and even went a little bit on the farm road outside the ‘hood. Jake only walked one or two hills, and that’s more because his coat catching on his seat stopped him from standing up in the pedals.

Absolutely wonderful – there’s nothing more I can ask for than a boy who wants to ride with me. Now, to keep that enthusiasm alive.

And there’s plans laid – his birthday is at the end of the month, and there’s a bike on hold for him at Mystic Cycle Center.

Oh, and I’ve picked up a new mountain bike. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, ’cause technically, it’s a department store bike, but I got a Forge Sawback 5XX from Target. Why did I go with the department store bike?

Mainly ’cause it’s got a complete Shimano Deore gruppo, disc brakes, and it’s less than $300. The exact same parts layout (likely with a lesser fork) would be $600 anywhere else. If the frame is a total wash, I can hang the parts on another frame, and come out ahead.

I don’t know that I’d recommend the Forge to someone who wasn’t already a decent wrench, though. The one that was shipped to me was pretty well built, with the following exceptions:
– Front disc rotor and calipers weren’t installed
– Bottom bracket was installed by f’n Godzilla
– Front derailleur needed adjustment.

The brake – not a huge deal. Discs rock – so much easier to adjust and install than anything else I’ve ever wrenched on. The front derailleur – again, not a big deal as they included documentation on EVERYTHING that came with the bike.

The bottom bracket, though? I’m a bit miffed about that one, as I had an LX BB and crankset that I was going to slap on the bike. I pulled the stock crankset (Truvativ, not a complete piece of crap, but slightly heavier than the LX), but could not, for the love of Pete, get the bottom bracket shell to move. AND I even read Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance before starting, so I remembered that the right side shell was left-hand threaded, so it’s leftie-tightie; righty-loosey.

I haven’t been riding other than down the street Thursday night after putting it together, but the bike seems to rock. It’s lighter than my 15 year old steel hardtail/hard fork bike, though not quite as sexy, and goes forward when I pedal.

The top tube seems a little shorter than I’m used to, but I’ve got about an inch I can move the seat back, so that’ll help. And, it might just be that I’ve been riding road bikes for the better part of the last decade, so I’m not used to the proper geometry. I do think that my original MTB was a skosh too big for me, too.

Other than that, it’s been a while since I’ve really ridden a MTB, so we’ll see how it goes.

So that’s it – sickness, love, and new wheels. Got to love spring. Really love the boys.