Results tagged “cycling” from kwc blog

Lance Fest

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Lance Armstrong Attacks - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Lance Armstrong Post-Race - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

All you Lance Armstrong fans my like what's going on over at my Spare Cycles blog.

Off to the Tour of California

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Ride - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

I'll be posting to my Spare Cycles blog regularly with daily photos.

Fire sky

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proc1IMG_1980

proc1IMG_1848 proc1IMG_1988 proc1IMG_1987 proc1IMG_2096

Why can't the sky be this interesting everyday?

New Bike!

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I'm having a blast

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Bicycling robot - Murata Boy

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murataboy.jpg

The engineers at Murata have a bicycling robot, aka "Murata Boy", which combines my love of cycling and robots. From what I can tell from the videos, it can do track stands on a flat floor, pedal forward and in reverse, handle low speed turning, and detect large obstacles. They don't show it on real terrain, but it still seems a fairly impressive feat to balance so well, though a robot can sense imbalances much more quickly than a human. At IREX 2007 I saw a Kawasaki robot that was able to balance two small wooden manikins mounted on metal poles -- I tried myself and it was fairly impossible for a human to do.

via

VeloNews!

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VeloNews Spread

crossposted from spare cycles

I got my first photo in VeloNews -- the latest with Hincapie on the cover. It's a two-page "Off the Front" spread showing Scott Moninger riding past a convoy of Missouri Department of Transportation trucks. Obviously I'm happy, but for several reasons:

  1. I've had this goal for a long time.
  2. I almost didn't stop to take the photo. I was in a hurry to get to the finish line of the time trial and drove for several more minutes before I said, "Stupid, that's the shot." One illegal U-turn later I took the photo.
  3. I happened to capture Scott Moninger, who later announced that the Tour of Missouri was his final race. It's nice to be able to pay respect to him, even if unintentionally.

If you're trying to find a copy of the issue, you won't find any at the Borders in Palo Alto :).

On to West Virginia

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Discovery leads the chase

I've journeyed from west to east across Missouri, through Branson, Lebanon, Columbia, Jefferson City, Hermann, Washington, St Charles, and St Louis. Today I thought would be easiest because a media sedan was there to drive me around the circuit. Little did I realize that I would end up sprinting 12+ blocks because the media sedan passed me by twice.

It's been a blast. Perversely, the hard bits added to the fun because it seems that the harder I worked for the shot, the better the result. You'll find lots of photos over on spare cycles. I can't say I've really visited Missouri as much as I've photographed it. Almost all my time here was spent in hotels, press rooms, or in the car. Next time, I'll go out for dinner.

Many thanks to m for the 20D loan -- couldn't have shot the race without it.

Jefferson City

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I've now made it to Jefferson City, where I am staying at my third Best Western in a row. They must like me now because this is the nicest of the three I've stayed in -- actual hotel (rather than motel) quality. I've settled on them because, unlike some higher priced lodgings, they actually offer free in-room wireless.

I tried to stay in the same hotel as the riders/press the first night I was here. The conversation with the front desk went somewhat like this:

Me: "Do you have any rooms for tonight for one person?"
Hotel: "Yes we do."
Me: "How much?"
Hotel: "Two-hundred-twe-- that can't be right. Let me check. Huh, that is right. Two-hundred-twenty dollars."
Me: "Um. Thanks."

I stayed at the Best Western two blocks away for $70, and I still ended up at the same bar as team managers (Johan Bruyneel, Jonathan Vaughters), mechanics and press. The riders from DFL-CyclingNews were the only riders present. They managed third place in the time trial so clearly they had a good game plan.

My game plan seems to be going well also. The media has been hanging out in the hotel lobbies, all siphoning off the same wifi signal.

Tomorrow I attempt to follow the riders from Jefferson City to St Charles. If today was any indication, it means that I will get some easy but boring shots at the start, frantically drive for an hour between stopping points just so I can get two shots of the riders zooming past, and then attempt to finally get a finish line shot right. I'll be happy when I get to St Louis where the riders pedal around in a circuit: by then I'll be delighted to shoot fish in a barrel.

Off to Missouri

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tour-of-missouri.jpg

I'm headed for a journey across Missouri to follow the Tour of Missouri, then off to West Virginia to visit with family, and finally a quick stop off to say hey to bp in Pittsburgh.

My weekend

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Christine Thorburn Sunset on the 24 Hour Course

As part of my tune-up for the Tour of Missouri I spent all of Saturday shooting cycling races. First up was the Beat the Clock time trial at 7am. The was mostly "field testing the 70-200 f/2.8 IS", so I shot some head-on shots as those are the most stressful for the equipment. Not everything was a keeper, but the image stabilization reduces one more area of mistake: camera shake. Normally at 200mm, you have to shoot at around 1/320 or faster to avoid camera shake blur. With all the action that's going on, I sometimes forget to check the shutter speed while shooting (I always shoot with aperture priority). IS gives a little more margin.

I left the time trial, stopped off at home to upload my photos, then zoomed down to Monterey for the World 24 Solo/Team Championships. The organizers gave me a lift out to the first checkpoint on the course and proceeded to hike about 5-7 miles along the course back to the Laguna Seca raceway. The narrow single track along the way gave me ample opportunity to break in my 16-35mm as well as my 580EX II flash. The flash got some additional testing when the sun went down and riders continued to race, but I must say that I am still not comfortable using flash in my sports photography. By 9pm I was nearly out of battery life, compact flash storage, and personal energy -- I drove home happy but tired. Hats off to anyone who shoots all 24 hours of the 24-hour race. Much, much more difficult than any road race I've shot.

All-in-all it was a great photography day, not in the photos, but in the ability to stress all of my equipment and to shoot in all kinds of light. I shot several shots with riders heading into the morning sun, battled the annihilating overhead noon sun that casts dark shadows over faces, and got some pleasing lighting with the setting sun. There was also a couple of hours of battery left to shoot some night motion blur.

My Tour concludes

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IMG_1663

Today I hung out taking photos and getting autographs at the stage start in Santa Barbara. I thought I'd drive up Balcom Canyon after that to get some photos from the final climb, but the CHPs had the road blocked off. After hiking about a kilometer up, I decided to turn back because I had a photographer's bib (a bright yellow bib that says "photo" on it = all access pass) waiting for me at the finish line and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take my first real sprint finish photo.

I drove like a madman to get to the finish line -- it's hard to stay in front of professional bikers -- mostly because I kept on making wrong turns. With all time I had to prepare, you would think that I would have printed off street maps.

I did get my first real sprint finish photo. It wasn't as good as I had hoped, but it was exciting to give it a try.

JJ Haedo beats out Paolo Bettini and Greg Henderson

Stage 6 Report: Santa Barbara - Santa Clarita

Awesome day

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Levi Leipheimer

Levi Leipheimer continues to put on a show for the fans and I've been having my best cycling+photography experience ever. Today I got to be a total fanboy + a "pro" photographer. Another photographer took time to give me advise on portfolio building, lenses, and submitting photos to magazines. People pay to have experiences like these and instead I'm being fed food and offered money for my photos. Armstrong, Ekimov, Julich, Cancellara, Hincapie, Danielson, Voigt, etc... I got near total access: Graham Watson and Casey Gibson stood behind me.

I even inquired about being a staff photographer. When I told the guy that I work as a software engineer, he told me to keep my job. Which only shows that not every dream should come true.

Now I'm tired. I woke up at 4:30am to drive down here and I need to go find somewhere to sleep. Good night all.

Media Passes are awesome

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I new that the media pass would give me better access to take my photos, but who knew there would be other fringe benefits:

  • The Press Room has wireless internet to upload your photos and write your reports
  • It also has food and water
  • You get a welcome bag from the city (someone stole the fudge out of mine, but I got a wine glass, opener, and tourist info)

I'm in Santa Barbara now drinking coffee to stay awake. I still need to find a place to sleep tonight...

Crazy crash

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Levi on the ground

On a whim I decided to drive up to Santa Rosa to see stage 1 of the Tour of California. I normally ignore the sprint stages, but I figured with President's Day and all it would be worth a new experience. The Santa Rosa stage also has three laps on the finishing circuit, so there would be multiple chances to snap photos.

There were tons of people in Santa Rosa and I couldn't get a good spot near the finish line. I managed to convince someone to let me squeeze in but a half an hour later the media folk started setting up right in front of us, blocking our best views. I couldn't get good sightlines down the straightaway, which meant that the autofocus and metering on a lot of my photos were blown. It didn't really matter, either, because there were so many of the thin yellow thundersticks being waved around that half of my photos feature them instead. As it turned out, it really didn't matter what was going on towards the finish line.

After the riders passed on at the start of the penultimate lap, there was a loud popping noise. I turned around and saw bike after bike piling up. There were riders yelling at each other in anger, others were lazily getting up, and others seemed to be figuring out what damage they suffered. All the while, the forty riders who weren't involved in the crash raced away. It wasn't even until a couple of minutes later that I realized that Levi Leipheimer, who's in the overall lead, was involved in the crash. The race lost all organization after that. The announcers didn't know what was going on, the finish had to be reviewed on tape to see who won, the judges belatedly decided to neutralize the finish (award everyone the same time), and one of the riders failed to show up for the award's ceremony.

The photo above is my favorite from the day because it summarizes so much of the chaos. Off in the distance, the riders racing away. In the foreground, riders still piling up on top of one another. In the center, Levi Leipheimer. The Liquigas rider is kicking someone in the head and on the side of #118's right leg: a face (you have to view the full size to see it).

Team Uni branching out

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Team Uni was in effect yesterday. After much practice with the Tour de Comic-Con, it was time to branch into the cycling realm with the Tour of California. parakkum loaned the necessary video capture equipment, offtopicartisan shot the video and reconnoitered the course, and I shot photos.

The hardest stretch was when ota initiated the sprint from Telegraph Hill down to the Embarcadero so that we could catch the podium presentation. Or perhaps the hardest stretch was when we had to walk back up Telegraph Hill to get to my car.

Tour of California Prologue

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Levi

The prologue for the Tour of California was awesome -- thanks ota for coming along and also shooting video (stage summary). Also awesome? My Canon 30D.

Your sport does dope

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In a previous rant, I argued that all sports have doping problems, and that if dopers aren't being caught, it is because the sport isn't trying. I rhetorically asked, "Do golfers dope?" intending for the answer to be yes, but not expecting to see the following in the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) 2005 report on doping tests with "adverse analytical findings":

  • Golf: 5.21% (20/384)
  • Cycling: 3.78% (482/12,751)
  • Baseball: 3.69% (390/10,580)
  • Ice Hockey: 2.87% (79/2,751)
  • Curling: 2.58% (9/349)
  • Soccer: 1.46% (343/23,478)
  • Table Tennis: 1.40% (11/787)
  • Chess: 0% (0/51)

These stats don't actually measure how clean a sport really is and they do mix in drugs that are banned but not performance enhancing. Nevertheless, golfers do dope, chess players apparently do not, but that only adds to the evidence that chess is not a sport ;).

WADA 2005 Report (found this via Leen Tuk's letter to VeloNews)

Millennium Park

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Five things I really liked about Millennium Park in Chicago:

  • The Cloud Gate sculpture (i.e. metal bean): I had seen many photos of this, and I didn't quite get it; it just looked like a giant funhouse mirror. But today I stood next to it and realized that, standing in the right spot, you can get impossible views of Chicago that are wonderful to take in. You can see the skyscrapers to the east and north of the park lined up side by side as well as the architecture in the park itself, all from one vantage point. And it's fun to watch distorted images of yourself.

  • McDonald's Cycle Center: there's free bike parking in a very secure facility (bike cops use it) and for $99/year or $15/month you can get use of a reserved bike parking area, a personal locker, and use of showers -- it's like a club for bikers. There's towel service for $1/use and the whole facility is indoors. It makes biking feel very upscale and luxurious. I like.

  • Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion/Great Lawn: As I walked over to Millennium Park, I was noting to myself how cool the naked architecture of the El train system in Chicago is: every support beam and bolt is right there for you to see. When I got to Gehry's typical twisting and undulating metal sheets in Millennium Park, I thought it was a really great match:

    • From the front, you just see metal sheets, but walk just a bit to the side and you get to see all the support structure exposed.
    • The Great Lawn itself has this canopy overhead that is stripped down to just beams, speakers, and lights. There was a jazz ensemble rehearsal while I was there and I enjoyed listening to it as families played soccer and frisbee around me. The canopy of speakers just drops sound down on you so you feel properly immersed.
    • There is naked concrete (ala Ando) used for ramps, staircases and supports.
  • Gehry's BP bridge: this serpentine bridge is a great way to approach the Pritzker Pavilion -- too bad you're more likely to be leaving rather than entering on this bridge, as I really enjoyed how the bridge introduced the pavilion.

  • Crown Fountain: I could care less about the images of faces projected onto these two mini-towers, but it's fun to see families bringing their kids to play and run around in the fountains shooting off each tower. I was tempted to run around myself, but I didn't have a towel.

This does mean that I pretty much liked the entire park, though I did leave out the gardens, which I felt were impersonally wraped in metal, as well as the Wrigley Square area, which was overly classic that it just felt flat in that environment. It will be interesting when the Renzo Piano's Modern Wing addition to the Chicago Art Institute is done: part of the plan is to add a very long pedestrian bridge from the park to the new wing. The linkage, I hope, will add even more to the park.

Doping and tarnished sports

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The first week of July is fun in that I get to watch two great international sports competitions: Tour de France and World Cup. By far, the Tour is much more interesting to me because I appreciate a sport that, to me, has a greater sense of nobility: soccer players whine and dive, a cyclist waits if an opponent crashes. When I explain this to random, the topic of Operation Puerto and doping often gets brought up, which brings me to the point of this little post: what, you don't think your sport dopes?

Watch old footage of your favorite sport. What often strikes me with baseball, soccer, football, etc.. is how small everyone looks. While there are modern training techniques and perhaps greater dedication by pro athletes, do you honestly believe that the sub on the bench looks more fit than Pele because he eats better vitamins? I remember a sports article for several years ago -- possibly SI or ESPN -- profiling linebacker Bill Romanowski's modern training techniques with specifically tailored supplements from a sports lab. As it later turns out, that lab: Balco; those supplements: steroids and HGH, among others.

Soccer, baseball, football, cross-country skiing, tennis, track and field, you name it. Dr. Fuetes, at the center of the entire cycling scandal, readily admits helping soccer and tennis players dope, including players on Real Madrid. The entire yearly budget for a pro cycling team is less than the salary of a top Real Madrid star. If a cyclist can afford to dope when the stakes and salary are so much smaller, what do you think happens in the non-niche sports? Do golfers dope?

At least cycling catches the players that dope and suspends them for two years. It has a code where team directors suspend athletes for merely being under suspicion, whereas the Giants happily rake in the ticket sales as evidence after evidence comes rolling in. If a sport hasn't caught anyone doping, then that just makes your sport more dirty because they probably aren't trying hard enough. In my opinion, this makes cycling much cleaner than any other sport. Sadly, that may not be saying much.

First place

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Al and I finished in first place in the mens' 2-man time trial we did over the weekend. We were in a class of our own...

Elsewhere on kwc.org (part V)

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This is mostly a reminder that Tour coverage has been moved to my spare cycles blog.

kwc.org is alive and tooch-ified

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Many thanks to Tooch who is lending kwc.org a wire and an IP address while I await DSL service at my new place. Comcast was hooked up this morning and I've found an open wireless network at my apartment complex so all should be set for the Tour-de-France-fest over at my spare cycles blog. The only problem right now is we can't seem to find any of my three TiVo remotes.

deut-sm.jpgWhile I was at Tooch's Norman Compound he showed off the manliest washer and dryer I have ever seen: the Whirlpool Duet. They have more switches and LEDs than an airplane cockpit. Tooch said that they were marketed at Nascar husbands, but doesn't that actually mean they are marketed at wives that want to get their husbands to do the laundry instead? And to think I had been thrilled earlier in the day to see that the dinky washer and dryer in my new place had been replaced recently.

Elsewhere on kwc.org (part 4)

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A writeup of my visit to the MythBusters set and the Tour de Georgia coverage has concluded. It's been an exciting month, from cycling events like the Sea Otter Classic, Menlo Park, and the Tour de Georgia, to MythBusters to Maker Faire to Alternative Press Expo, but I'm probably going to have to buy a stack of hard drives for all the photos and videos, and I go to Japan in two weeks! These are very good times.

Maker Faire

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Maker Faire was so much bigger and better than I thought it would be. I thought it would be great, but it was amazing. There were multiple pavilions crammed with eye-catching maker-foo and everywhere inbetween was interestingness as well. It was part Burning Man, part science fair, part RoboOlympics, part Web 2.0 conference, part RoboNexus, part DorkBot, part arts and crafts fair, part who knows. m, d, and I went on Saturday and I couldn't resist going back for Sunday as well. Some highlights:

Maker Faire-07 Maker Faire-10 Maker Faire-17 Maker Faire-13 Maker Faire-06 Maker Faire-15

  • Parallax had some great workshops, great in that you got to walk away with ~$70 worth of hardware for only $15. I made an RFID reader and a ultrasonic range finder. It's a good investment on their part -- I'm very tempted to get into BASIC Stamp programming now and also get one of their boe-bots: they showed off how you can mount the range finder on a swivel to turn it into a short-range (3.3m) radar.
  • I had a great time relearning how to solder while making my own Simon game.
  • The MythBusters were there playing Segway Polo and test driving a Xebra. The parking lot smelled like burning after their test drive.
  • The fine folks of The Crucible had a firetruck flame-shooting apparatus and there was also the flame-shooting SS Alpha Fox. The booms were loud enough that it was shaking the workshop building next door.
  • I absolutely loved the Meccano models of Difference Engine #1 and #2 (photo 1, photo 2).
  • Lego was showing off their next generation of Mindstorms: NXT. I snapped a video of their NXT scorpion 'stinging' my hand. The NXT set should be Mac and PC compatible and will support Bluetooth. I previously abandoned Mindstorms immediately after I discovered the kit I bought required Windows 98.
  • The folks at Amazing Magnets had a about a liter of ferrofluid to play with -- much more than the 30mL I bought.
  • There were plenty of modified bicycles on display, like a lawnmower bike and a chopper bike. My favorite was the Harry Potter broom bike. I failed to tame that unruly broom ride.
  • The cartwheeling robots (video) that I last saw at Robolympics were back.
  • There was a live demonstration of glass-flower making (video)

This entry doesn't begin to cover what was at Maker Faire. If you're interested in finding out more, you can check out the official Maker Faire site, the 3000+ photos on Flickr, or my mediocre photoset.

Unofficial MythBusters guides:

Spare cycles: * What Would Graham Do? * SportsVelo and LATS * Basso Looking Strong (Criterium International)

More on the MythBusters coming soon. I took lots of video that I need to process. If it's good enough I'll post on YouTube. If it's not, I try to transcribe some of the Q&A. There was a great blooper reel that I wish I could post.

Elsewhere on kwc.org

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Cyclists, please update your links

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Spare Cycles (kwc.org/cycling) is my new cycling blog. I've broken off my past Tour of California, Tour de France, San Francisco Grand Prix, and other coverage and moved it on over. My reasons for doing so were similar to moving the mythbusters entries: people who want to just see cycling coverage get innundated with many entries that having nothing to do with it, it's harder to navigate, and it's harder to showcase links to other cycling-related sites.

The first new content of the Spare Cycles will go up once I finish prepping an entry on lessons learned for taking cycling photographs. The blog may be a little dormant until the Sea Otter Classic and Tour de Georgia in April (still waiting for the Morgan Hill Grand Prix announcement), but I'll see what other content I can put together that isn't just race coverage and photos.

2*1000 contest participants, don't fret. Entries for all three blogs -- this one, Unofficial MythBusters, and Spare Cycles will count towards the total. And to littlestar who thinks I don't post enough, the 57 entries I've posted this month is the greatest amount since October 2004 (also 57 entries)... and February is a short month :).

Third race? No

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The cycling season has been postponed for me on the account of injury to a teammate. Cycling is a lot like drinking: best done with others. You can get wasted by yourself, but who will hold your helmet while you puke?

Second race

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vpLesson learned this week: don't forget your bike shoes. We did some basic cornering practice, but this lesson about footwear was much more important. Without bike shoes I couldn't lock into my pedals and get power on my upstroke. Al convinced me to race anyway. Surprisingly enough, I finished.

I survived six laps in the peloton before falling back and doing the last four in a paceline of stragglers. I had double-vision and my brain had gone offline, but this was much better than only surviving one lap in the peloton, not finishing, and emptying my stomach on the side of the road like last week. The final stats from my computer read: ~39:50 / 22.8mph / 15.1 miles.

A husband/wife mentor team were largely responsible for my finish. They formed the bookends of the paceline that I finished with. I nearly lost it when the rider in front of me gave up and left a huge gap between me and the next rider. If it weren't for the mentor behind me screaming for me to catch back up I probably would have watched as my draft rode away. Then I would have to come up with some lame excuse to explain my failure, like drinking bad sports drink samples, or forgetting my shoes.

Some additional notes on lessons learned in the extended.

Previously: First race

First race

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vpI entered my first bike race today, the Early Bird Criterium sponsored by Velopromo. It wasn't a glorious effort, but it was a fun effort. I was busy gulping down free sports drink and sports bar samples when Al asked me to come ride in the 35-year-old+ race with him. The sickeningly sweet sports drink ended up on the side of the road three laps later and symbolically ended my first race. My poor showing was more due to the fact that I haven't ridden a bike in three weeks than corn syrup, and I got what I wanted out of the event. There are four more coming up and I have a better clue as to what I am getting myself into now. I already have some important little lessons learned, like warmup before you race and don't accept free drinks from strangers.

Riding in the middle of a pack zooming down the road at 26 mph is a lot of fun, but also really, really hard. Al and I usually ride the hilly terrain of Los Altos, so we were both unaccustomed to the notion of going round and round a flat 1.5 mile circuit at full speed until your legs burn off. The race starts off really fast and you'll find yourself red-lining almost immediately if you haven't warmed up beforehand. Riders are constantly flowing around and you have to quickly react to find a wheel to latch onto. On the straightaways you get a little bit of breather -- the slipstreams nearly tow you along. It all changes when the pack goes through a turn. You're trying to make sure that you go through the turn without veering into another bike's line and crashing, next thing you notice is that you're 5 ft, 10ft, 20ft behind the rider in front of you and there's a big headwind pushing you even further back. You pedal desperately to get back into that safe little slipstream, but your computer informs you that you're at your top speed and your stomach says, "Yes those sports drink samples were free, but didn't you bring two bottles of your own to the race?" The rider in front of you is probably coasting, having gotten back into the draft, and if he had a rearview mirror he would probably smirk that he's a cut above.

My goal by the end of these race sessions is to finish in the peloton. Also, to not crash.

This was a mentored race: prior to the race they had a tutorial (first in a five-part series) and they also rode along during the race to provide assistance. I've put some notes on the lessons taught so far in the extended.

SF bike ride

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On Sunday, bp, d, joy, ota and I went on a ride from the 4th and King Caltrain station in San Francisco to Sausalito. Along the way we passed by the Folsom Street Fair (heralded by naked man on bike), the new de Young museum building, and the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate lunch in Sausalito, drank wine, got ice cream, and then took the ferry past Alcatraz back to the Market St terminal. The weather was oddly terrific -- it was the weather I had been waiting for all summer.

I highly recommend the ride -- the more adventurous can do an additional leg from Sausalito to Tiburon and catch the ferry there. Make sure you know the bike lanes in SF: I failed to print out a map and we had some additional adventurous path finding as a result.

The photos from the trip were a bit of sadness to go through -- I had my camera set on ISO 800 by accident, so they are all pretty noisy. I can always take similar photos on later trips, but having to wait for such great weather again might take awhile.

San Francisco-07 de Young Alcatraz San Francisco-01 Alcatraz San Francisco-06

San Francisco-11

Morgan Hill Grand Prix

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The Morgan Hill Grand Prix was two great races -- both the Men's and Women's pros turned in great efforts. In the women's group, Christine Thornburg barely held onto a breakaway to take the race -- she was nearly caught on the final climb, and on the final straightaway the entire pack was breathing down her neck.

In the men's group, it was an example of one rider completely outclassing the rest -- Dave Zabriskie, the winner, races for CSC, an international team, whereas many of the other riders were locals racing for local teams. Despite the complete domination, it was entertaining to watch as he executed his tactics without fail. Zabriskie was racing without support from his team, so he first brokeaway from the pack to get some of the better riders to chase him and form a virtual breakaway team for him. He then attacked that breakaway group to break off some of the Webcor riders (there were 3 in the breakaway), and with one final attack he was able to solo multiple laps to victory.

As usual, I took quite a few photos of the races, though it was a lot easier than usual to filter the photos, as a large percentage of them were out of focus or contained shots of bare road. I thought my fancy new telephoto lens would solve all my difficulties shooting photos at bike races -- I would have beautiful, crisp, close-up shots of bike racers battling for victory. It turns out that you actually need talent to shoot photos of people moving 40 miles/hour, but I'm happy to get the practice. I have a far greater appreciation for Graham Watson now. I uploaded a small set of the photos that you can checkout:

Morgan Hill Grand Prix Photoset

Morgan Hill Grand Prix-03 Morgan Hill Grand Prix-15

Ridin'

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I'm slowly getting back into the riding-swing of things. In order to give me an excuse to stop and rest, I took along my Rebel and took some shots along the way.

Los Altos Bike Ride Photoset

Rest break Decapitated trees

Foothills Park

Caltrain tags

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This little lifehack has saved me a bit of time and kept me on the right Caltrain. Caltrain gives out yellow tags to put on your bike that you label with the station that you are getting on/off. An unintended use is that they are also handy for writing down the Caltrain schedule as they are small, waterproof, durable, and easy-to-read. They also attach as easily to a bag as they do a bike -- if I'm not using my bike I keep the tag on my work bag so that I always have it with me.

caltrain_tags.jpg

Sore

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My friend Al called me Sunday morning at 9am to do a bike ride. This was a big deal for me as: * I was actually excited to be woken up at 9am * It would be my first real bike ride in over a year

The weather was perfect -- blue skies, but a bit of coldness to the air that kept us cool. We went through Los Altos Hills area along Elena/Altamont/Moody/etc, which somehow managed to survived, be it through a combination of poor adjustments on Al's new bike or very generous summit restbreaks. Today and tomorrow I'm sure I'll be working out more of the soreness.

I'm hoping to get a nice Tamrac backpack for my camera and take it back through some of the trails -- there are plenty of scenic views, interesting homes, and horsies to take photos of. Many of the homes feel so anachronistic being so close to the Bay Area sprawl: shabby barns, tiny homes on huge lots, quaint homes next to palatial estates. Back in Virginia I would probably pass them by without a second thought, but here they feel so exceptional.

TMobile 2004 Photos

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I got back all my photos from the T-Mobile race. Unfortunately, my first roll was ruined by stale film, but there's still more than enough photos to surf through. All the more reason for me to get a Digital Canon Rebel.

T-Mobile 2004 Photos (127 photos)

Note: none of the timestamps for the 35mm film photos are correct, though I did try to approximately place them so that the flow of the photos would be reasonable. If you're sharp enough to be able to tell the difference (hint: digital photos are blurry) then you can gauge the time correctly.

For reference, US Postal's number assignments:

12 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus)
13 Jose Azevedo (Por)
14 Michael Creed (USA)
15 Pavel Padrnos (Cze)
16 George Hincapie (USA)
17 Jose Rubiera (Spa)
18 Benjamin Noval (Spa)

SF Bike Race 2k4

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I got in a lot of sports watching this weekend. I got to see USC beat up Colorado State 49-0, and the Redskins defense beatdown the Bucs 16-10 (the offense was a bit lacking). The biggest event of the weekend, though, was watching this year's T-Mobile International (Al and Jill came along, which was great, because I'd never been able to convince anyone to go with me before). As always, the race provided a very exciting finish.

It was a bit of the old and new in this year's race. Armstrong did not start for the first time, and the free "Go Lance!" signs were missing (sad, because I really wanted to get a 6x sign to go with my 4x and 5x signs). The US Postal merchandise tents seemed eager to be dumping old merchandise and was selling 4x and 5x champion gear at a discount.

Previous winners Chris Horner and Charles Dionne were back, but with Horner's Saturn team now defunct, and with Dionne perennially vying for a new contract every September, both were now racing for the local Webcor team.

With three laps to go, everyone (including myself) had thought that the US Olympian Jason McCartney had won it all -- he had a lead of over 4:30, which with 15 miles to go seemed unassailable. When you're watching the riders go by, a 4:30 lead seems like a gigantic distance, especially when the Muni officials are able to let six trolley cars safely cross the race course in-between the leader and the next rider.

US Postal pulled riders back from chase groups and formed an alliance with Webcor to chase McCartney down, but their coordinated pace still did not seem quick enough as McCartney took 1:30 lead into the final lap.

Horner did the pulling for Dionne, and Dionne launched a killer attack on the Taylor hill, which became McCartney's undoing. Hincapie, despite all the efforts of his US Postal teammates, didn't have it in him to give chase, and only Fred Rodriguez gave any pursuit (after wasting time trying to recruit others to help chase).

I got to see Dionne and Rodriguez come around the final bend, and the gap was simply too much to be chased down, so Dionne became the first rider to ever win the SF race twice.

I was amazed to listen to Rodriguez's interview after the race, in which he talked about his crash during the race and mentioned that after the crash he couldn't use his left leg to pedal anymore. So not only did he catch back up to the pursuit group after getting his bike replaced and seat adjusted on the fly, but he was also the only person to give chase to Dionne at the end and did so with only one leg working. It's easy to see why he's the US pro cycling champion.

Dionne repeats as T-Mobile champ

T-Mobile International

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I spent all day at the T-Mobile International bike race in San Francisco. The main attractions were Armstrong, Vinokourov, Simoni, and Garzelli. However, despite all this star power (which is awesome to see in an American race), it was the local teams that came to play. Armstrong, suffering from a stomach flu, dropped out after 50 miles, and Saeco largely stayed under the radar. It did appear that Telekom was trying to do it's sponsor right and placed riders in the main breakaway groups, but Saturn managed to deliver an excellent one two punch with McCormack (current US champion) and Horner each attacking on the final laps.

Horner, who suffered a flat tire bridging up to the breakaway group, took on a tire from the Mavic neutral support car and quickly caught the leaders. McCormack then attacked, was reeled in, and then quickly followed by an attack from Horner. Horner's attack turned out to be the last as he was able to build up a sizable lead and cruise to victory. McCormack also attacked again and sat in the second place position.

US Postal managed to launch a last minute attempt by Ekimov to try and catch McCormack, but it was too little too late. Compared to last year, US Postal looked very disorganized and never controlled the pace, except for a single lap where Armstrong took control of the pace... and then promptly dropped out. With Tour riders Hincapie, Landis, CheChu, Beltran, and Heras serving duty in the Vuelta, and at least two riders (Armstrong, Padrnos, and possibly one other) dropping out, this was about all that could be expected. It was impressive to see Ekimov motoring around Embarcadero Plaza, and it's too bad that he couldn't steal the day.

- Horner and Cooke win in San Francisco (Velonews)
- Race Summary Minute-by-Minute
- cyclingnews.com Race Summary

Update: added cyclingnews summary, and I also wanted to note (now that I've watched my TiVo recording of the event) that Armstrong predicted Horner to win the race while being interviewed at the start of the race. Not bad.

Internet blackout

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Aside from being out and about all weekend (you can read honeyfield's watching horses and Napa bike riding blog entries for more info), I had no Internet connectivity at work yesterday. The msblast worm apparently said "all your base are belong to us" and our network agreed. Perhaps this was all a result of my jealousy at the NY blackout. I mean, if the East Coast can get a day off due to power outages, why shouldn't California? Didn't we start that whole concept?

Biking

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I rode a lot today (almost 30 miles) - we had a work picnic up Page Mill, where I got to see:
06-19-03.pagemill-1.jpg
then I biked over to the softball game and found a pedestrian bridge I had never noticed before:
06-19-03.pedestrianbridge-1.jpg
and finally got to play some softball, where there were these weird people wearing racoon hats, bright red lipstick, and discarded drapes:
06-19-03.softball-2.jpg

SF Grand Prix

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I'm excited - I got to see Lance Armstrong race for the first time in my life. He didn't win, but the race was still a blast and he put in a good effort. Armstrong quotes at the end of the race said that it was basically a race of attrition, and he wasn't able to put enough distance on Charles Dionne on the final hills. Lance was pretty much stunned that Dionne won the race; it was pretty much "Charles who?" IMHO, Charles Dionne cherry picked his was to the race win. I didn't see him pulling ever, though that might be my bias.

I also got to see Robin Williams. Some stupid PR person decided that it would be a good idea to give the super-rich Robin Williams a Saturn. Robin Williams responded as best he could: "[the Saturn] will go nice in my garage, and its cheap" Gary Fisher and some Olympic athletes were also there to do a quick short lap race.

Quote of the Day

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I took viagra before the race... I should be able to race hard and long
- Robin Williams, SF Grand Prix