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Archive: April 26, 2009

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Wildflower; 4:58 (!)

Sunday,  04/26/09  02:55 PM

Yesterday I rode the Wildflower Century, in Creston (East of Paso Robles), and I am delighted to report that I finished in 4:58.  This is the first time I've broken 5 hours for a century and I am quite pleased with myself :) 

It was an "easy" century, 103 miles with about 6,500' of climbing overall and no big climbs or scary descents, but I am amazed that I was able to break 5 hours because there were no pacelines.  This is a relaxed ride, thousands of riders participate but most just show up for the beautiful day (it was nice) and the amazing scenery (it was amazing).  There were a lot of families, a lot of older riders, a lot of women, and a fair number of spectators.  Not to mention, there are 75-mile and 50-mile options, and many took them.  There wasn't a peloton of hard-core riders grouped at the start like usual, and I just never found fast riders to pace with.  I always figured if I broke 5 hours it would be as part of a strong group (kind of like my 10:38 in the Solvang Double), but on this ride I set my own pace the whole way with no drafting.

Some pictures, of course, for your viewing pleasure:

early morning beauty among the rolling ranchland
this is an area you never think about, with vast estates in the middle of nowhere...

not a car to be seen - the road surface was a bit rough, though

meadows of wildflowers, the signature of this ride

just beautiful...  mile after mile of peaceful meadows filled with flowers

spring lambs!  how cute!  they took no notice of cyclists flying by...

checkpoint 2 - 56 miles - the century riders merged with the 75- and 50-mile groups

halfway...  56 miles in 3:12, no idea yet I had a chance to break 5 hours

mile after mile of flat empty road - perfect for powering along...

gliding through vineyards - Paso Robles wine country - Chardonnay, I think

checkpoint 3 aka lunch - 72 miles - the bike parking area
a lot of expensive hardware on display
my 10-year old Kestrel is now regarded as a 'classic' by some :)

walked over to check out this little league field
just as I got here, my iPod selected John Fogerty's Centerfield
I don't expect you to believe me but that's what happened
looked in the outfield and was almost surprised not to see Shoeless Joe :)
"Put me in coach, I'm ready to play..."

final "climb" of the day - I powered up it at 18+ mph, feeling strong
I passed one slow-moving group and a guy yelled "car back" as I blew by them
that was pretty funny

final descent into Creston; about 15 miles to go, and now I have the 5 hour mark in my sights
I was not careful on this descent, sorry about the blurry picture but I was doing 40mph...

4:58:52 - 103 miles, 6500'.  Yay.

Well that was pretty cool - a great ride on a beautiful day, amazing scenery, and I broke 5 hours.

But no peace for the wicked (me), because next weekend brings the Breathless Agony, an appropriately named ultra century with 114 miles, 12,000' of climbing, and the summit is at 8,443' high above Big Bear Lake.  This will be no walk in the park, and I will be riding to finish, not to set a personal best :)


Sunday,  04/26/09  10:48 PM

Weighed down with nostalgia today; fixed a bug in my online picture gallery, and spent time looking at old pictures...  really old pictures, like 10 years ago...  fun, and yet sad.  It all seems so long ago.  (Pre blogging even :)  Wow.  1999 was a year of great promise and expectation, the Internet boom was ON and we were living in Los Altos, right in the middle of it.  Now it feels sort of like the 49er gold rush, something from ancient history, something you tell your grandkids about.

Netscape 2.0 splash screenI can remember putting up a personal website, it was such a cool thing to have my very own site, dum dum dum.  I can remember the Netscape 2.0 banner at the bottom and everything :)

Today I almost heated our pool.  My daughter's birthday is May 6, and a backyard birthday party is the usual reason to start heating it...  but the day was so nice, I almost did it today.  Almost.  Then I remembered how cold it gets at night, and I imagined my little pool trying to heat the neighborhood all by itself.

O3D example: heads' up displayWhen I read about Google's O3D plugin of course I had to try it, so I did.  Total dancing bear.  Yeah, it is cool that it works, but it is so slow that it cannot be called useful.  3D visualization holds great promise, but either the technology isn't ready yet or this implementation isn't at the leading edge.  I don't have the world's fastest computer but this sort of thing has to work on "everyday" equipment to have a chance of reading critical adoption.

If you're thinking you need a new computer, forward this on: Study: not replacing laptops can be very costly.  "The use of outdated equipment also costs a company about $9,600 per laptop user in lost worker productivity over the two-year period, the study concluded."  However, users with old laptops won't waste time playing with O3D :)

This article notwithstanding, I find that desktop/laptop computer performance has totally plateaued.  I can remember when new machines were really faster than old ones.  When was the last time you used a computer that was noticeably faster than yours?  Remember my As the laptop turns adventure?  (If you don't, please click through, I think you'll enjoy it :)  Well you might remember the end of that adventure: I received a spiffy new HP nc8230 laptop.  That was in May, 2005, four years ago.  And I am using that same machine right now.

Kaiser USB health recordI thought this was pretty cool: Kaiser Permanente offers up medical records on a USB drive.  "The read-only drive, designed for use while a person is traveling or during a health emergency, is a sort of stopgap effort as the U.S. works to build a national electronic health records system that can provide easy access to patient health information anywhere."  I'm a big fan of online health records as you know, but somehow a thumb drive feels like it would be more easily accepted than an online record on some website.  It will be interesting to see how well this works compared to Mayo's implementation of Microsoft Health Vault.

Some first impressions of Wolfram Alpha, a new search engine designer to return information rather than links to results.  An interesting concept, but I wonder whether it will really work.  I noted this: "Most of the data is curated".  Hmmm...  does not sound scalable.

In the course of playing with it, and also revisiting Cuil, which was another recent interesting new search engine, I realized that people don't pick search engines based on how good their results are, they pick them based on how bad they aren't.  That is, you put in a few searches and you verify they don't get the wrong answer.  For example I entered "Breathless Agony" into Cuil, and it didn't list the Breathless Agony website.  Fail.

Bio-Bak: cool web design or ??So, what do you think about this?  Is Bio-Bak a cool web design, or what?  (I must tell you these all-Flash interfaces are not necessarily my favorite, but some work better than others, and this one is pretty, er, interesting...)

Talk about bad timing: A novel idea: The machine that can print any book for you in minutes.  Just in time for Kindle etc. to make books obsolete.  Anyone working on new physical distribution for information is in the wrong business...

Ted Dziuba celebrates the birth of his daughter (really): Will Oracle kill MySQL? Who cares?  "As an open source project, MySQL is already a dinosaur...  In fact, it is in Oracle's best interest to keep MySQL moving at a glacial pace...  MySQL's performance on a multi-core machine is embarrassing, whereas a database like Oracle really shines on big iron."  This sounds right to me, and is a reason I hadn't considered why Oracle bought Sun.

Sony Walkman MP3/video playeriPod killer?  Dave Winer thinks Sony got it right.  4GB MP3 player for $80.  But... it ain't an iPod.  And it doesn't have the iTunes store behind it...

So be it, another day's useless days energy spent.  Cold hearted orb, that rules the night.  Removes the colors from our sight.  And we decide which is right.  And which is ... an illusion.


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