Thursday, February 28, 2008

Boggledy bits

Thursday, 28 February

Thanks to Miss Chris for the link to a great article in Harper's about Google's use of electricity:
You might think your next search for a knitting pattern or cookie recipe or directions on how to glue a tubular is free, but it comes at a price if you watch the bottom line on your taxes and electric bill or if you're concerned about the impact of exponentially increasing use of energy. Enough energy to run Tacoma goes into one server farm in Hood River. And Microsoft and Yahoo will be moving in soon as gluttonous neighbors, thanks to our cheap electricity rates here in the Pacific Northwest. A good thing that might come of this? I don't know if the "farmers" employed there are like the "techies" in Redmond, but maybe this will mean a bigger customer base for Dave's bike shop?

And, on the subject of things that boggle the mind if you think too much about them, local stud Kristi Berg is training for her annual assault on the Columbia Tower. Here's the snippet from the latest CycleU newsletter:

Big Climb for a Cure: Coach Kristi is Back with a Vengeance!
Please help in my efforts to raise as much money as I can for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. On March 16th I am going to participate in the 2008 Big Climb for a Cure. I will run 69 floors, 1311 stairs, up the Columbia Tower in Seattle. I have done this now for several years, and last year I became ill and was not able to participate so I am back with a vengeance this year to better my fastest time and raise more money then ever before. Please help by donating here. Your donations will go to help find a cure for Leukemia and Lynphoma. I will send out an update after the event to let you all know how I did! Thank you so much for your support.
Kristi BergUSAC Cycling Coach & ACE Personal Trainer

Let's all step up (oh, that's an awful pun--sorry!) and help Kristi and her great cause. You think your training regimen is tough? She's figured out she can go faster if she only hits every other step. Kristi is super tough, but her legs aren't what you'd call super long, so her plan is to PULL herself up 1311 stairs. You go girl!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Sunday, 24 February

[My sanitized race report can be found after the Chilly Hilly report here: What follows is a little more blog-like. Some overlap, though.]

Funny thing about good weather. You get to a time trial, it's dry and the wind is calm and you think, "these are ideal conditions for a time trial." Wrong! They are ideal conditions for the rider's psyche but not for the rider's time against the clock. The Frostbite Time Trial in Lowell in 2007 was a wet, windy, cold, and miserable affair. Today it was dry and calm with a promise of sunshine. My time this year was more than a minute slower than last year! No water on the road to decrease rolling resistance; no wind to push that disk wheel on its merry way. Don't get me wrong: it didn't feel harder--I thought I'd had a great race. But there was nothing to work harder against and nothing to work with you. And maybe cold, wet, and miserable is a subconscious motivator to finish that little bit sooner?

The only thing marring today's event was one of those "that's bike racing" episodes. Due to some miscommunication, the course marshals didn't figure out where the turnaround was until about 40-50 riders had turned around. I was rider #3 to start and rider #1 to the turn. I didn't remember that the WSBA had a "200M to turnaround" sign, but there it was, presumably 200M from the turnaround. But no cone to be seen in the yellow line, no marshals. Ah wait, there's a cone on the shoulder, just waiting for someone to move it to the middle of the road--right where it had been when we prerode the course. And it must be right because just past it there are signs on the opposite side of the road for oncoming traffic. So I turned AT the cone if not AROUND the cone. O.A.D. was right behind me so I yelled at him to turn at the cone. One teammate behind him as well as one of my former tandem captains made the turn, but another teammate right behind kept going on to Snohomish ("what sign?"). On the way back, I was amused to see three marshals standing at ANOTHER cone by the side of the road in the middle of the course (they weren't there on my way out, but O.A.D said he saw their car pull in after I went by). They must have been totally puzzled by riders coming from the wrong direction and not turning at their orange cone!

The bottom line is that it's the rider's responsibility to know the course. Usually I am on the wrong side of that line (i.e., screwed and/or lost), but local knowledge and previous experience sure helped me out today. It was pretty cool to see a promoter respond without getting hysterical or panicked. I think most people (there were 200 folks in the race) didn't even know the problem had happened. Watch for this event to get even better in 2009!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Google warming

Friday, 22 February

Did you ever think about the carbon footprint of your last Google search?

Consider this from the latest issue of Sierra: "Google is hunting for cheap renewable energy....The Internet powerhouse is investing millions in solar, wind, and geothermal technology, with the aim of generating a gigawatt of renewable energy that is cheaper than coal. A gigawatt is enough to power a city the size of San Francisco or three of Google's energy-sucking data centers."

Google is usually pretty silent on the subject of those "energy-sucking data centers"--where they are, how much energy they suck, how many there are. But if just one takes the power of one-third of San Francisco, well, in unproprietary layman's terms, that's a lot of electricity.

Giga- is a prefix meaning one billion, a 1 followed by 9 zeroes. A googol is equal to a 1 followed by 100 zeroes. I hadn't realized that Google's name is an apt reference to the amount of electricity it consumes.

So, what's the carbon offset for my next Google search: Geelong Tour?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Wednesday, 20 February

The best definition of overtrained is underrecovered. Since I am currently working 3 jobs (one of them full time) and doing the usual household chores (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.), I figured my week of mega miles would put me way over the line of fatigue. After all, I don't just sit around in my jammies after doing all those miles. But, hmmmm, no. (I'll let you know if I wake up with the flu tomorrow.)

So, from one Wednesday night TT through the next in the last week, I rode over 400 miles. Some easy, some hard, some climbing, some barely hanging on, but still 400 miles. Rain bike, race bike, tandem. Never did my resting heart rate budge above its normal 42-44 bpm range at night. My weight did not change (bummer). I do not hate my bike (or the saddle).

And some interesting numbers from the CompuTrainer TT tonight, for whatever they're worth. I got my HR higher than it's been all winter at CycleU (except for the time when they thought it got up to 221). I had my third fastest time of the winter (out of 11 races). Average watts and max watts were middling, which I swear are subject to calibration anyway.

Whatever overtrained is, those 400 miles weren't it. Don't think for a minute, though, that I don't get to rest now! And then the fun begins. I'm thinking smack talk about some early races, but I'm afraid to say it because I might jinx us all. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Random observations

Presidents Day

I rode to Snoqualmie Falls today, which turned out to be an 85-mile ride, which was farther than I thought it was going to be. This was my second big-miles weekend of the winter; it's gone like this:
  • Thursday: 30 miles
  • Friday: 81 miles
  • Saturday: 62 miles
  • Sunday: 97 miles (tandem)
  • Monday: 85 miles
If all I do for the next 2 days is commute to work on my bike, that'll be a 375-mile week with 10K indoor time trials on either end. Then it's just taper to the start of the race season, then it's weekly building of the racing miles: first race weekend = one race, second race weekend = two races, third race weekend = three races. This is my chance to see if some sort of periodization other than chance (although that's all this is) is more effective than randomly riding my bike.

Okay, the observations.

Many times have I ridden to Snoqualmie Falls, complete with the little detour on Fish Hatchery Road on the way up. Never before have I seen the airport on that road. I almost drove my bike into the ditch when I saw the plane and the runway.

The ride up to the falls is still the same nice gentle climb with gobs of winter grit on the shoulder. But the traffic on the way down 202 back to Fall City just plain sucks. This ride will not become part of my regular ride pattern; I think the only way to do this climb is to go on up Snoqualmie Ridge and out to North Bend. I had thought about going on to Issaquah, but that's lots more ugly-traffic miles; I opted for the quiet roads of Beaver Lake, with only a few on East Lake Samm before getting back on bike trail.

I saw a triple on the Sammamish River Trail. Not a tandem with a tag-along attachment, but a genuine triple bike with three adults on board. Cool. I also saw a ton of people without helmets. About the hundredth such underequipped person was a young woman with two kids in a trailer without a helmet between them. As I went by, I could not help but say, "You all need some helmets!" The response was not quite what I expected. She said, "Wha??" Maybe this is evolution in action.

A lot of new team kits out and about this weekend, too. They signal what I already know: the race season is here. One of my teammates won the cat 4 women's race at Cherry Pie yesterday. She was so eager to get her first race over with that she drove all the way to Corvallis for the thrill. Nice work, Daisy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Smile contagion

Thursday, 14 February
more Valentine's bloggery

The last hat I made went to a little boy for his first birthday. I had made him baby hats, but I thought being one was a sign for a boy's hat, not a baby's hat. But the hat is nothing. The kid's smile is, I hope, enough to make everyone else smile too. Some of the sweetest things have no sugar.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

O sappy day

Valentine's Day

For something different, I started today by taking the long way to work (an alternative to a morning run). It was simply gorgeous. Most of this ride is on the bike trail along Lake Washington, looking southeast the whole way. I got to watch the sunrise develop into a shocking shade of red (suitable for Valentine's Day), Lake Washington was like glass, and Mt. Rainier with its cloud cap was perched at the end of lake like a deity on its throne (rightfully so). I even heard the birds singing in the trees. Truly a beautiful start to the day.

Now this for my one and only (the rest of you can go read something else):

My bike is red
the hand-me-down one I got from you, that is
Your bike is blue
the brand new one, sitting on the couch
I'm still so glad
glad, adj.: experiencing pleasure, joy, or delight : made happy
I fell in love with you.
blame it all on Lisdoonvarna!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Funny fauna day

Saturday, 9 February

Nice riding today. Over 50 degrees. Sunny. Six hours. But the first hour was marked by some funny fauna observations.

At the bottom of Hollywood Hill, a car rolls up next to me. Two guys in tuxes want to know where Redmond High School is. I have no clue but can at least point them toward Redmond. Tuxes? At 9 a.m. on Saturday?

Over the backside of Hollywood, my peripheral vision picks up on three walkers in the road. I get a little closer and realize it's a man out walking his llamas. In a Woodinville subdivision. Maybe he hires them out as grazers to mow (and fertilize) lawns?

And then down at Cottage Lake, there was a flock of pink flamingos back in the bushes. I didn't for a minute think I was in Florida or (better) at Lake Manyara, and these were the flightless kind (seeing how they're stuck in the ground by metal stakes), but I did do a double-take.

After that it was just the usual herons and hawks, with frogs and chipmunks for background noise. I love riding my bike!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ready or not

Friday, 8 February

Just like spring is around the corner whether you see it coming or not, so too is the bike racing season. Yesterday I mailed (yeah, old school) my entries (single, tandem) for the Frostbite TT, and this weekend is the last one free of "mandatory" team events or racing until (checking calendar....) mid-April? I've got four tandem dates already, and that's only between now and mid-March. :)

Mason Lake World Championships will be an entirely different women's race this year: the creation of a separate cat 3 race pushes the rest of us "elite women" into the masters men's race. That might not have much impact on the end result, but it will surely change the nature of the beast on the road for the women. No more lollygagging when the "right" break detaches itself from the pack. Well, the boys do that too, but 5 mph faster. After much hoopla all winter about all the women teammates I've got, at Mason Lake at least the ones I'm gonna see are men.

Hmmm, maybe it's time to give that race bike a spin on something besides a CompuTrainer? I'm giddy already..... :)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Spring !!

Monday, 4 February
(one of those mathematical dates: 04 x 02 = 08)

In case you're a resident of somewhere like Bickleton and you think winter is never going to end, there's proof to the contrary right outside my front door. The tulips and daffodils are already several inches above ground and:

lily of the valley is starting to bloom,

daphne is just about to open up and release its glorious fragrance,

and witch hazel is in full bloom.

Women's racing in WA gets national attention

Monday, 4 February

USA Cycling shines its spotlight on the WSBA as its Local Association of the month with a feature on the cat 3 and cat 4 women's series we've got going this year.

We're not quite trailblazers (the East Coast and California already have lots of women's category racing), but we're not too backward out here in this little corner of the boondocks. :)