Friday, December 31, 2010

Meaningless data for 2010

New Year's Eve

Jennifer recently wondered “why do rides seem so meaningless when your powertap doesn’t work?” I feared that my miles for the year were therefore all meaningless since I have none of the data that a powertap captures for any of my excessive miles. Z, however, reminded me I am just as fixated by the numbers I generate at the end of each year as Jennifer is by the display that mesmerizes her for every inch she travels on a bike. True enough, although I prefer to think of my habit in a category I heard described on the radio today: the need to make lists at the end of the year. Maybe it’s a way of proving to myself that the last 365 days were not without meaning or merit or some sort of accomplishment.

What I really meant in response to Jen’s question was that every mile on a bicycle should be meaningful with or without data, even if you don’t know that it was a mile you just traveled or 300 seconds of your life that it consumed. My most memorable moments on a bike in 2010 were these:

Riding along the John Day River with Mick and Terri on a May afternoon. The temperature was perfect, we were all the traffic there was, the river is always beautiful, the riding was easy on the legs, and it was all just incredibly peaceful.

Riding the long climb up from Clarno (located elsewhere on the John Day) on the tandem with Mick. Again, there was no traffic, you feel like you’re climbing up the side of the world with views to everywhere—and there was Christy Moore on my iPhone to keep us moving along.

Riding from Newhalem to Mazama and back. I just don’t get tired of that ride or those views. I made the trip 5 times this year. I passed someone walking his bike, I passed someone who was riding so slowly I thought he would tip over onto his paniers, I just missed the boulder the size of a house falling into the roadway, and I reveled in all 120 miles every single time. And I found a quarter on the shoulder of the road on 3 of the trips, and on the last trip I found decals for the letters M and W (like you'd put on your driveway signpost) on the shoulder--just those 2, no other letters.

Hearing a lot of gunfire as I approached the turnaround at the WA State TT Championship. Even in my oxygen-deprived state, it was unnerving, to say the least. Seems the locals were getting in some target practice. There was also that horrific downpour in the last 10K of the Ravensdale Road Race where you could not see the road in front of you. The finish line was about the bleakest and loneliest I've ever seen.

Really, though, the most memorable moment was the day and a half of watching my husband get to the Race Across Oregon finish powered solely by determination. The heat took its toll on the Irish lad, and his stomach rebelled (over and over again), so the last 200 miles were fueled by willpower alone.

So here’s the data for my year in review:

Total bike miles on the road: 13,012 (2009: 12,333; 2008: 12,693).

Month with the most miles: January 1,383. (My biggest month in 2009 was May, with 1,653 miles; May was No. 2 in 2010, with 1,336.)

Month with least miles: November again, with 671 (down from last year’s low of 757).

19 rides of 100 miles or more, up from 16 in 2009. Longest rides were 193, 181 (tandem), 144, and 136 miles.

First day in the year that I did not ride my bike: May 30 (that tells you something about the mild winter we had). Also missed 3 days while crewing for my husband at RAO, 2 days in the snowpocalypse in November, plus 9 more days. So 15 days of no cycling out of 365. (The figure was 29 in both 2009 and 2008.)

Most miles in one week (7 days): 451 (down from 599 in 2009).

Number of times I rode a trainer: 106. That’s up from just 9 in 2009. Different training program. I thought I would learn to spin more on the road, but I think I just do all my spinning now on the trainer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday base miles

St. Stephens Day

Just a quick follow up on my pledge to ride 1,000 miles between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The weather cooperated (no snow or ice) and I beat my goal. A short ride on Christmas Eve pushed my total to 1,111 (couldn't have hit THAT figure if I'd tried!). I also ran 30 miles during that period.

Fairly early in the process I decided to make the National Park Service the beneficiary of this little challenge: every mile in excess of the goal would be worth $1, and every mile short of the goal would be worth $2. I chose the Park Service because (1) it needs support and (2) I made 10 passes through the North Cascades National Park this year without having to pay a penny for the priceless experience. I'll be sending my check to the NPS superintendent in Sedro Woolley this week.

Time to organize my next training targets.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flash mobbing

Saturday, 11 December

Today the flagship Nordstrom store hosted a flash mob performance of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah by the Seattle Symphony Chorale and a host of other local choirs. It was not very "flash," but it was definitely "mobbed." The non-event was supposed to be top secret, but I'm sure each of the 500+ singers told 10 people (thanks, Brandon, for the tip!).

I got there at T minus 25 minutes and you could hardly walk around the main floor of the store. Since I average less than one trip downtown per year, I thought maybe this was normal for a Saturday in the Christmas season. Until I heard people asking "is there some star here?" and "are they all standing in line for something?"

Exactly on time and according to the described plan, the piano tinkled out an upper-register version of "Deck the Halls." Out came cameras and phones--and sheet music. With absolutely no ado, the pianist moved into Handel's work and the singers sang. From the spot I staked out, I could not see maestro Gerard Schwarz (he's featured in the video in the Seattle Times link below). What I could see, though, were singers going up and down on the escalators (which you don't see in the pro video link), some poor shoppers just trying to go about their shopping with no clue what was going on, and of course all the phones and cameras raised above the mob.

The work iself is pretty short. The singers got nice applause when it was done, and that was it. No un-ado. Good thing no one invited the Seattle Fire Department--it took ages for the mob to dissipate. One poor guy working his way into the store was so disappointed to see us all moving toward the doors and said "I'm too late?!"

In the Irish idiom, it was brilliant. It was art, religious art, in a highly commercialized setting. It was a cooperative, voluntary effort of the music community. Maybe it was disappointing that so many of the people there were not surprised by what happened (the missing "flash" part), but how amazing that they all wanted to be there. The Messiah is Easter music, but this was definitely a Christmas experience.

Here's the professional report:

And here's a clip of my iPhone video: