Archive: September 21, 2008
Hi - I'm baack... I emerged from a self-imposed deathmarch to deliver some software, just in time to take off for a few days and ride the Knoxville Double Century, in Napa Valley. I made it - riding, as usual, with my friend Mark Burson - and enjoyed it very much. It took us about 16 hours overall, 13:30 riding time.
The course has about 12,600' of climbing, and it is deceptive; unlike other rides where there are a few well-defined big climbs, the course spreads the climbing over the whole ride, virtually all of it was up and down on rollers. I don't think I've ever shifted so much, and managed to drop my chain about ten times with badly timed shifts from the big ring. There were few opportunities to really crank, it was more just staying focused and adapting.
Mark and I, about halfway done, and still smiling :)
I had one really scary moment; at about 175 miles I was barreling down a descent in the dark when I hit a bump, and my headlight shut off. Wow, instant darkness, and I was still moving at 30mph. I managed to come to a stop without hitting anything, and just sat there in the dark, my red taillight blinking its eerie glow without providing much light to see. I had to wait for another rider to come along and then jumped on their wheel, and followed riders all the way to the next rest stop. At which point, the headlight began working again. Ah, Murphy, you're so much fun.
Adding to the pleasure of the ride, Friday night we had dinner with my friends Tim and Kathy Marshall, who have a beautiful property near Lower Lake, at the extreme North end of the ride route. Serious amounts of excellent salad and pasta were eaten and Pinot Noir was drunk, including a fantastic wine called Six Sigma made by one of Tim's neighbors (an ex-GE guy, of course :)
Kathy explains while Mark listens, and I mug for the camera
Tim and Kathy live right along the race route, so we saw them during the ride, too - wow, fans! Their 70-acre property is not quite the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there.
At around 50 miles, Lake Berryessa
One of the real pleasures of this ride was the isolation, we were on back roads most of the day, with little car traffic. The scenery was amazing. It is always such a joy to realize how much wilderness still exists in California, even after all the development that has taken place.
Knoxville Road, in the Lake County wilderness
And then today we attended the annual California Triple Crown breakfast, where we were formally anointed as triple crown winners (as well as 1,000 mile club members). I was able to tell Mark's story - he completed six double centuries this year on an artificial hip - and everyone was appropriately appreciative. Among the highlights of the breakfast was the introduction of the 100 double century club, yes, that's right, these people have each ridden at least 100 double centuries in their lives:
The 100 double club. Wow, just wow.
The guy second from the left in the picture above is Dave "big ring" Evans, who at 70 is still riding doubles, he completed the ride yesterday. I can't even imagine that, but it is good to have goals :)
And speaking of goals, next up is the Furnace Creek 508! Scary, now just two weeks away...
I just noted completing a sextuple double, by riding the Knoxville Double Century, but it was also my tenth ultra century this year (rides of more than 100 miles). In the interest of keeping score:
Still, who's counting? Okay, okay, maybe I am. Hoping for some more of that metric magic :)
Actually I've been keeping score another way, too. After each ultra century, I've fashioned a little sticker commemorating the ride. This is what the top tube of my bike looks like now:
(ultra century stickers - click to enbiggen)
Pretty cool, eh? I get a kick out of making a new sticker after each ride, and I like the admiring stares when I ride with my local club on weeknights (the Conejo Valley Cyclists). Yeah, I’m a bit of a ham, what can I say.
Well, I am back to the land of the "normal", no longer working day and night trying to get software delivered, or driving up to Napa to ride in a 200 mile cycling race. A lot happened last week - a lot - and I must tell you, I am not a news outlet, so I apologize if I skip stuff which was "important".
In particular while I am really worried about the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac bailout, I don't understand it well enough to have an opinion. Actually I do have an opinion, that it was really stupid to have these quasi-government quasi-private corporations in the first place. I understand encouraging home ownership and I realize having a market for mortgages helps by lowing rates and allowing lenders to take more chances, but surely there was a better way? We can see that now... probably everything else bad that has happened and likely will happen can be traced back to this.
First and foremost, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful daughter Jordan, who turned 22 today. Wow, 22, I can so remember her as a little girl. She says she feels old, which is kind of funny but kind of understandable. I was 22 when I got married! Wow. Anyway Jordan is great and doing great, and [I think] had a nice day, so it was a Happy Birthday!
Even as we almost had a female President and could still have a female Vice President, the new Israeli Prime Minister is a woman, Tzipi Livni. This is pretty important, Israel is a nuclear power, and Iran, another nuclear power, has threatened their extermination. If there is a nuclear war on Earth in the next decade, this is most likely where it will start.
The media bias on display in this election has been nothing short of staggering. All pretense of neutrality has been lost. I understand Saturday Night Live had a joke about Todd Palin and incest. Wow, is that funny (no, they don't deserve a link). The Emmy Awards were a liberal feeding frenzy (no, they don't serve a link). If you really want to see how bad it's gotten, check this out: CNN's Jack Cafferty thinks only racism explains close polls. This wasn't a column, by the way, it was a "news" story. CNN, the LATimes, the NYTimes, NBC, ABC, CBS - they're all in the tank for Obama. And yet the polls do remain close, and not because of racism. I think the US public has calibrated the media, and is disgusted by it. And when they look at Obama, they don't see a man who is half-African American, they see an American, who happens to be just 46 and has served only one year as a Senator.
If, improbably, you're still undecided about who to vote for, you might find this article in the NYTimes comparing McCain's and Obama's positions on various aspects of science. At the highest level the difference appears to be - as you would expect - that Obama wants to use public money, while McCain wants to support private industry.
This is kind of cool: the Ventura County Star lauds Wade's Wines, my favorite local wine store. They have great stuff, reasonably priced, and their people know wine. You can walk in, describe what you want (a robust pinot with a smoky aftertaste for $25, from Oregon), and they'll point you right to it.
So Levi Leipheimer won the final time trial in the 2008 Vuelta a Espana, and Alberto Contador wrapped up the overall title. That means Contador has won each of the grand tours consecutively, the 2007 Tour de France, the 2008 Giro di Italia, and the 2008 Vuelta a Espana. (He did not ride in the 2008 Tour de France because his team Astana were not invited, due to past problems with doping which didn't involve Contador.) Pretty cool. And also cool that Levi finished second overall, giving Astana one-two, and a clear claim to be the top team in the world.
So do you now take this team and add Lance Armstrong to it? I don't know, it might not even help...
Good news: the FDA is adding 1,300 more people. Or is it? I am conflicted; on the one hand, judging from Aperio's interactions with them they really don't have enough people, but on the other, government bureaucracies like this only get bigger, never smaller.
Goodbye to Yankee Stadium. As a longtime Dodger fan, I'm not too sad about this. I understand the iconic nature of the place - Sports Illustrated had a nice article about it, featuring George Bush throwing out the first ball the night of 9/11 - but in the end it is just a stadium. Not like Dodger Stadium, for example, which is a temple!
Sailing Anarchy notes The End of a Legend, as Olin Stephens has died. "A wonderful man by all accounts, the body of work of Sparkman and Stephens, the design breakthroughs, and the sheer beauty of their work remains as a testament to the incredible boats they graced our sport with. Of all his brilliant accomplishments, designing eight of the nine America's Cup winners between 1937 and 1980 most certainly stands unmatched." This man designed more of the top racing sailboats in the world over a longer period of time than anyone.
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this date in:
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird