A Dream Realized

Last Thanksgiving I attempted to do a ride I have had in mind for a long time. There are four regional parks near to me, Peñasquitos, Sycamore Canyon, Mission Trails, and Marion Bear, that I have mountain biked in over the last few years. It occurred to me some time ago that I could make a loop of them and ride all four in one day. My attempt in November was unsuccessful - my route through Mission Trails was ill-chosen and it nearly killed me (OK, not really, but it was pretty awful). I decided to go directly home, skipping Marion Bear, and finished with only three of the four.

Today I, and my friend Stephen, accomplished the four-park ride. Most of the time and distance was off-road, although there is the inevitable on-road connecting sections. There were no crashes, although I nearly endoed at one point, and one pedal broke (his). Luckily it wasn't too hot out in Sycamore Canyon. I'm tired, of course, but happy that I finally accomplished it.

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Boulder Panorama

Boulder Pano

This was taken on Flagstaff Rd above Boulder looking to the East.

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Kilometers and Memories

Old Shorts

Above are my cycling shorts that are too old, too thin, too ripped and too transparent to wear anymore. For precisely the same reason I should get rid of them, I want to keep them. I have ridden many kilometers wearing these shorts (at least 30,000 kilometers worth in this photo, likely much more) and made lots of memories. All of my Cal Cycling shorts, and most of my UCSD Cycling shorts are worn out. But they are taking up space, and I can't imagine wearing them ever again. I intend on eventually purchasing new kits from my former cycling teams to replace these, but it won't be the same. I am in mourning.

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Polly

Polly

Now that Melissa works at home, she can see what goes on during the day at the Mesa apartments. A few days ago she saw a whole flock of these birds above come through and decided to take some photos of them. However she (and I cannot) identify them. She thinks it's a transient, on it's way somewhere else because it wasn't in the San Diego bird book.

I've named the bird "Polly", and I bet it wants a cracker.

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Snowy Boulder

Snowy Boulder

I just got back from Boulder, Colorado. Although I was there for less than 48 hours, I happened to arrive just as a big spring snow storm arrived. Above is the view from my hotel room in the morning after the storm. Even though it is already late March, this storm was heavy enough to create quite a mess. Roads were closed and fallen tree branches knocked out power. The change from what I'm used to in San Diego was quite startling.

Oh - and this is my first post since November!

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Thanksgiving Dinner 2009

Thanksgiving

Turkey sandwiches with heirloom tomatoes and country bread, and homemade french fries. For two.

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25 Hours of Frog Hollow

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Last week I traveled to Utah with seven friends (above: Paul, Chris, Stephen L, Mike M, Mark, Mike H, Matt and me) to ride our mountain bikes. The main attraction was the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow race that was held 10 A.M. October 31 to 10 A.M. November 1. The twenty-fifth hour was provided by the end of daylight savings time that happened during the race.

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The race was held just outside the sleepy Utah towns of Hurricane and La Verkin, near St. George. The location is amazing, which I'm told is not unusual for Utah. Above you can see Matt watching the sunset on the mountains and the (nearly full) moonrise as he gets ready for a lap.

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The course itself is broken up into four sections. It starts out with a climb, mostly on fire roads. Next is a descent on the Gem Trail which is fast and smooth and extremely enjoyable. After the Gem trail, there is a section on flat fire road that connects to the Virgin River Rim trail (I think that's the name) which is a very brutal and demoralizing stretch of rocky single track. The trail is littered with sharp-edged flat-topped rocks spaced inches to feet apart. It was difficult to maintain momentum and the terrain made my back hurt.

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I rode four laps of the course. My first at 11 am, then 3pm, 8pm and finally at 3am. The pace of laps naturally slowed at night, and we also got some sleep in the early part of the morning. The bright moon meant I didn't need my lights for most of the climb on the night laps. This kept my eyes sensitive, and I could see the sky filled with stars. On one of the night laps I stopped for a minute or two to just enjoy the calm and emptiness of the desert at night. The weather was very amenable to racing. It was clear the whole race with minimal winds. The daytime had temperatures in the mid-70s (F, of course), and nighttime in the low 40s. For the very curious, I have the GPS track of my ride online. I didn't clear the GPS between laps so there are some weird smoothing effects on the graphs during the time I turned off the GPS.

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My team was made up of Matt, Chris and Stephen L, and we came in fifth of six finishing teams, out of seven that started the four-person category. The other team in our group, Paul, Mike M, Mark and Mike H, finished one lap up on us and in fourth place. Neither of our teams had any designs on actually competing for a high place in the event, so we are both satisfied with the results. All of us also had Halloween costumes. Mike H above shows his very warm Luigi costume that came in handy for one of his night laps.

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I want to also mention the ride we did a few days before the race, on Gooseberry Mesa. This was riding like I have never done before. The mesa has huge rock-face sections that we crossed on which the trail is marked by painted white dots. It felt like sight-reading music for the first time, picking our way on carefully planned routes to cross technical rock sections. The trail network is built on a mesa that narrows to a point high above the surrounding land. The land below is the area on which the race was held, and a few of the fire road sections can be seen.

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A couple of the trails we rode tracked the rims of the mesa very closely, especially the south rim trail. In this Google Earth image, you can see just how closely the red line tracks the edge of the mesa, and below you can see the sharpness of the mesa edge near the point. It was truly spectacular riding!For the very curious, here is the GPS track for that ride.

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Blue Angels Over Mesa

Blue Angels

We didn't go to the Miramar Air Show this year. I've lived long enough in Mesa apartments to know the routine for the Navy's Blue Angels and that they they pass overhead several times. When I heard them pass the first time I went out with my camera to see what I could capture. This is the best picture I got. I see (and hear!) F-18s flying overhead daily, but never in such close formation so low to the ground, nor turning so sharply as when the Blue Angels are in town.

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Nobel Canyon

Nobel Canyon

Yesterday I rode the Nobel Canyon trail in Cleveland National Forest with Mike Hannon, Mike Morton and Stephen Lynch. Yes, it was two Mikes and two Stephens. My GPS track can be seen here.

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SciPy 2009 at Caltech

I'm at the SciPy 2009 conference at Caltech in Pasadena today and yesterday. It is an amazing collection of nerds and questionable facial hair styles. There have been some interesting talks.

I like this "snub cube" fountain:

Snub Cube

The SciPy crowd:

SciPy Crowd

A fountain in front of the building the conference is in:

Fountain

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2009 Tour Pool Wrap-Up

Fire Truck

The 2009 Tour de France pool is over, and Team Storky came in fifth. In terms of the time gap to the winner, this team did better than any I've been part of before. But it lacked several things: luck and winners.

The team lost Levi Leipheimer, a nearly-guaranteed top-five finisher, Jens Voigt who always finishes tours well-placed and is capable of winning a stage, and Robert Gesink, a promising young Dutch rider who has won a Tour of California stage ahead of Leipheimer and finished seventh in the 2008 Vuelta a España. No other team in the pool lost a single rider of the caliber of Leipheimer, nor three riders of such skill and ability.

The team also got exactly two time bonuses, for a total of 25 minutes of bonus time. This put Team Storky as the second-lowest team in terms of accumulated bonus time, ahead of only the astoundingly unlucky Team John Arnold. Team Wells got over eight times as much bonus time as Team Storky. On one stage, a group of eight escaped from the pack and reached the finish before everyone else. Of those eight, three were on Team Storky. Time bonuses go to first, second and third. The Team Storky riders got forth, fifth and seventh. That outcome is emblematic of the kind of luck the team had throughout the tour. It appears that to win the pool, a team needs at least a sprinter or two that can finish well-placed on a number of stages reliably, something my team didn't have.

Above: The fire department was training across the street from my apartment on Sunday, in no way related to the Tour de France. I just wanted to share that.

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2009 Tour de France Pool

Tour de France

It's Tour time again, and I've posted the team rankings after today's prologue in Monaco. You may remember this from last year, when I didn't do very well. I hope to do better this year. For once I actually put some thought into my choices.

I'll update the rankings every day after the stage as quickly as I can!

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Pareidolia

For a few months I have subscribed to Shorpy, a site that posts high-quality scans of historic American photographs. I save the ones I like, and I've set my computer to rotate randomly through them as my computer desktop picture. This morning I saw something I couldn't ignore! Take a look at the photo below of the [French Market in New Orleans in 1910][2]:

Pareidolia

What do you see just above and to the right of the wagon wheel? You can click on the image for the full view, or look at a zoom-in below:

Cutout

It's Che Guevara, of course! You can clearly see an eye, his beard, two nostrils and hat. He even appears to be sticking his tongue out. I am forced to wonder how his image ended up on a horse-drawn cart in New Orleans eighteen years before he was born. But clearly it's a sign of something profound and mystical. Any ideas?

Che

(Further reading.)

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Water Drip

I found the faucet in my lab at school dripping this morning. I guess some air got in the pipes and a bubble formed. Each new drip was forming on the bottom of the bubble until it fell off. Fun accidental physics!

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Inconsistent

Seen this morning in front of the La Jolla Farmers Market, parked in a red zone:

Hummer

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