Posts made in 2012

November Media Roundup

Posted on Dec 12, 2012 in Media | 3 comments

Books
Been working through Cloud Atlas. Review next month.

Games
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Treyarch once again shows why they should be making every iteration of CoD. The franchise is back. I’ve yet to try singe player, but multiplayer is enjoyable again and they’ve done a really nice job on the prestige system (no longer feels like a punishment). 90
Extreme Road Trip 2 – Another free title in which you need to keep a flying (due to huge jumps and mines) car from crashing when it hits ground. Oddly addicting. 93
Punch Quest – Free title that’s great fun. Simple, 8-bit graphic style. “Fun” does the trick. 89

Movies/TV
The Art of the Steal – Documentary on The Barnes Foundation. Added strikes to Philadelphia. Very good watch. There’s now great art nearby that I refuse to see. 87
Battlestar Galactica – Friends ranted and raved about this, but I didn’t get it. Terrible acting, poor CG, weak story. Not sure what I was supposed to love about it other than it being in space and there being a hot blonde (I don’t find her all that hot, either). 72
Brave – Great animation, but overall uninspiring. 79
The Fountainhead – A classic (1948) on bucking trends. Liked this more than expected. 89
The Holiday – A Heather Seasonal Favorite. Was okay. Kept her happy so that’s more important than anything I may think ๐Ÿ˜‰ 78
The League (Season 3) – We absolutely loved the first two seasons of this. The third has the same writers, but is far worse. Overdone, not funny, and at many times difficult to endure. 77
MacHeads – Pretty bad documentary on the scary bits of the Mac world (the crazies). 62
Mansome – A slightly funny, but overall not very good look at what makes men men in today’s society. 68
Prometheus – Thrilling experience. Some stupid moments, but overall very good. 85
West Side Story – Nope, I’d never seen it, but I can play all the songs on a tuba. A classic. Amazing in Blu Ray. Does drag on a bit.ย 91

Race Recap: Capital ‘Cross Classic

Posted on Dec 2, 2012 in Cycling | 5 comments

Shave these.

Final race of the season, looking to finally break the top 10. Final race of the season, and I think I’ve figured this sport out.

In previous races, I’d gone out casually and picked people off over the course of the event, much like you do in running. It’s never worked too poorly, but also not too well, with a pair of 12s and a 13 in my pocket. In running it works just fine because there’s nobody potentially slowing you down and the faster man pretty much always wins. Not so in bicycle racing. Each mistake made by someone in front of you costs you in some way. The fewer people to make those mistakes, the faster you’ll go per lap. I don’t recall this epiphany, but it happened at some point before this race so it became the race plan.

Heather joined me for this one as it was local (slightly negated by an 8:15 start so we left the house around the same time I leave for the more distant races). I always have a handful of folks cheering me on, but there’s something about seeing her each lap that makes me push a bit more. It might be as simple as knowing she’s taking photos? ๐Ÿ˜›

It was a crappy week between terrible eating, the stress of getting a release out, and skipping all physical activity due to banging up my knee (the bad one) in my crash last weekend. In fact, until Friday, walking was a bit funky; I didn’t know if I’d be able to race until Saturday evening when things felt alright.

Back to the race… Arrive an hour early, do the stuff (bathrooms weren’t open, but I found a port-a-potty in the woods, saving me from my planned visit to behind a tree and wiping with a roll of shop towels), line up in the third row (eight-man rows), and we’re off. As mentioned in the recap of my last race, based on the preregistrants, a nifty online results predictor said I should end up around 16th of the 125 entered; my hopes weren’t too high. Especially after seeing the course. While not VERY technical, it was far more technical than anything I’d raced on all year. I’m not good at technical.

So yeah, we’re off. I push pretty hard, which is unusual for me at the start, take a half dozen of folks, and then into some twisties we go. No spots to be made here. I spot my teammate, Ben, just a few spots up and am glad I’ll have someone to get through this day with (turns out we never really got together to do work), but he’s still up a few spots so not yet… Onto a lengthy straight, I’m gassed already so I tuck in behind the guy in front of me and get about 20 seconds of not having to pedal. Up a pretty huge run-up (dismount with steps up a hill), a short climbing section, and then some pretty sweet downhill stuff, which ends with a massive drop finished with a 90-degree turn. If your brakes fail you, you’re in trouble. Through some loose gravel, up a decent hill, down a sweep, and back onto the start/finish straight.

After two laps or so, I found myself in roughly seventh or eighth place with very little gas. I battle back and forth with a handful of folks and seem to get them at the end of the third (?) lap, but after the technical section, dismount, straight, and run-up, they’re right back on me and a few even got by. I’d found a pretty sweet line through the uphill after the run-up, took it, and put that group of guys behind me for good.

Entering the last lap, I was sixth with two guys a good bit ahead. Getting them was going to be some major work, but with this being my final race of the year (that really shouldn’t matter, but it’s what went through my head so let’s go with it), I was going to go for it. I get the one on that little uphill section I fancied, and the other when he fumbled in some loose gravel. I put the hammer down once I got by him, but wasn’t able to shake him too well. He wasn’t far off heading into the final straight so I stood, gave it all I had, and that was that. I had enough in the tank that I knew he’d need to be superhuman to close the gap and get by me. Hurt like hell, but seeing a podium seems to move the pain threshold a bit.

Fin.

Meet and greet the wife and some friends, nearly barf, and wait for results. And wait, and wait. Due to an organizational error, it turns out there were a handful of duplicate numbers issued. Having put races on, it’s much easier to do than you’d imagine. In fact, we had that problem the last race I put on; the bib printer failed to put the ‘1’ on all bibs over one thousand. So no big deal… We all stand around patiently, and then results are posted. Hrmph. I’m not on them, but a guy with my number named Cesar finished third? I knew the guys in front of me and Cesar was not one of them. So… Maybe that’s me? I got third? Yes. After a handful of new result printings that still called me Cesar, we get it all ironed out and I step atop the podium for the first time as a cyclocross racer. If you’d followed my last lap closely you should be saying “Hey, you should only be fourth since you were sixth and got by two guys!” That’s what I thought, too, but apparently second place crashed pretty hard at the end of the final lap, moving us all up one more spot. Poor guy; he did the work, and left with only wounds to show for it. Such is racing… And speaking of racing, this getting out to the front business works! It hurt a lot more as I seemed to be gassed much earlier, but without every else’s mistakes adding onto my time, it was still much faster. As a bonus, I didn’t make any mistakes. That’s a rarity for anyone in this sport, and will always result in a finish spot a bit higher than usual (since “the usual” is a mistake or two or five).

Party time on the podium!

So that’s the end of racing for me this year. Al is trying to talk me into a 5k in a few weeks, but hopefully we’ll be on vacation ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s been a great year despite a handful of setbacks (knee since our move in June, hamstrings since 2009, and missing a prime month of early season training due to marriage/honeymoon). I can’t wait for the 2013 season to arrive, but for now, the bike is in the trainer, and I don’t plan on breaking a heart-rate of 130 for the entirety of December.

GPS.
Lap video (not mine).
Results.

Race Recap: Taneytown CX

Posted on Nov 25, 2012 in Cycling | 0 comments

Last race of Sportif Cup. Means nothing to me, but I needed a picture.

Twelfthย (that’s a really weird word to type)! I can’t seem to escape it. Two 12s in a row preceded by a 13. My points dropped from 395 last race to 393 this one so I suppose I did do about .5% better.

I totally wasn’t into this race. I signed up without looking where Taneytown actually was on the map, looked the night before the race, and went to bed already not looking forward to it. After the 70 mile drive up to near Gettysburg, I undo the bike, do the normal pre-race stuff, and don’t like anything about the day. It’s 35 degrees, windy, I feel slow, the bike feels slow, and the course has all sorts of off-camber stuff that I seem to be terrible at.

The race starts, I get going decently, make some passes, am around 15th or so nearing the end of the first lap, and completely wipe out. Went too fast into a tight off-camber corner and washed out the rear tire. Probably looked much worse than it was. Got back on, realized my rear brake cable had popped out, get back off, fix it, and I was finally on my way again. Probably lost about 30 seconds. I push the entire second lap just to get back to where I had been. The rest of the race was rather inconsequential with a short battle that I lost on a slide followed by a poor dismount, and gaining another few places due to attrition.

Aside from the fall, it turned out to be a better than expected race. I felt good and the result was good. Still aiming for that Top 10, but only one race left in which to do it. The nifty online race predictor says I have no chance, but I’ll set out to prove it wrong. If it happens, great. If not, this is a “home” race put on by “my team;” It’ll surely be a good way to close out the season.

GPS pow. Pretty long race. That’s good for me, especially when I go down at the start.

Update: This getting older stuff really is for the birds and really is for real. Not only at the start of the race was I still a little sore from my 5k a few days prior, but the day after the race the entire left side of my body feels as if I was hit by a car. Again, my “crash” wasn’t much of one. It was fairly high speed, but I hit the ground about as well as one can and slid a bit; something that a few years ago I surely wouldn’t have felt the next day. Le sigh.

Update #2: A video of the course is available. Don’t look for me; different race than I was in.

Race Recap: Virginia Run Turkey Trot

Posted on Nov 23, 2012 in Running | 1 comment

Doing what you’re not supposed to do.

I’ve been running this one ever since I was a kid. At the time, it was likely the only such trot in the area… Now it seems every town has one, but I’ve stayed true to my roots and continue to head out to Centreville on most turkey days (sometimes I’m out of town).

Running has been interesting for me this year; I’ve only managed about five miles per week and didn’t run at all for about two months late in the summer, but my times continue to improve. As usual with 5ks since “the injury” in 2009, I had no idea what I was capable of. I went out for a short and quick pace-gauging run two days before the race and struggled to put in a 6:20 mile. It was doable, but certainly didn’t leave me thinking I could do three of them. Regardless, I plan on going out at 6:15 pace and see what happens.

Do the usual pre-race stuff, get to the line, and suddenly we’re moving. I’m pretty far back in the corral because I was counting on them speaking for a few minutes like they usually do. Not this year. Time to move. Cross the line, start the watch, and here goes… Traffic is insane, but the running is feeling effortless as I jump back and forth across the road to avoid slower feet and legs. First mile through in 6:12. Odd. Way easier than on Tuesday and I feel like it’s no thing. Finally out of traffic, make a few turns, crush some people due to an optimal racing line (apexes, people!), hit the hilly section, still not feeling like it’s much effort… Second mile down in 6:10. Alright, when is the crash going to occur? It doesn’t. Final mile down in 6:02 and a solid, but not 100% push into the finish to cross in 19:08. A seven second post-injury best on far worse training than that best was earned on. I’ll take it. 6:07 pace overall (subtracting extra mileage for traffic, that’s a 19-flat). Absurd. This maintains my claim that cycling can make you a pretty damned fast runner. I’m not winning races, but I’m now only 20 seconds off my adult best, which is nothing.

69th out of 3664 starters. 15th in age group.

One of these days I’m really going to try training again. Promise.

Race Recap: Schooley Mill CX

Posted on Nov 12, 2012 in Cycling | 1 comment

 

SORRY, NO SWEET PICS

 

“Disaster averted” summarizes this day at Schooley Mill in the boonies of Maryland (another beautiful, untouched place) just south of Baltimore

Wake up at 5:45. Had scheduled our programmable coffee pot the night before for the first time. Coffee ready for me when I wake up? Awesome. This thing’s going to be getting more programmed use, for sure.

Pack car up and leave the driveway by 6:15. Neighbors must think I’m crazy as I seem to do this at least once a weekend.

Hit the highway and break into yesterday’s waffles. Were much better yesterday when not soggy and cold, but they’ll do as there’s really no food more “cycling” than them.

Arrive at the park around 7. Unpack bike and head to registration. Pretty sure the weather forecast was calling for 70. What’s 43 doing?

En route to registration, my quick release rear skewer decides to give up. If that’s never happen to you, trust me, it’s fun. ReasonsToNotRaceHorizontalDropouts++ (very few bikes allow this to happen… my pieced together, overweight pile does). CRASH. Luckily, fall over into some grass. Pride is the only thing damaged.

Register. Drop a deuce. Meet a team member, Brian, in the bathroom. Nice guy. More on him later. Pin my number. Back to the car.

Weather is warming so I drop a layer and head out on a recon lap. Appears to be a really good course for me as it’s not too technical and will require a lot of “go.” I’m better at “go” than “maneuver.” Lots of wet grass, though, which should prove fun as I have no experience on it.

Get back to the car, lay my seat down, sip some coffee, and wait.

10 minutes prior to race, hop out of the car, get ready to go, look at bike. FLAT REAR TIRE. Panic. Instead of bringing my full set of tools and spares, as I normally do, I brought nothing today. Why? Unknown, but I think two races of not needing squat attributed to it. Never again. Luckily, that teammate, Brian, is parked right behind me and still around (most had already left for the start). He has a tube for me. Awesome. And then he’s off. I peel out my old tube, spend no time figuring out why it’s flat (you’re supposed to try to identify the cause in case there’s something in your tire that will render the replacement tube flat as well), and try to put some air in this new tube. “TRY” indeed. For some odd reason, my pump doesn’t want to work with it. With Brian gone, I’m nearly SOL… There’s another guy parked a few spots down and I’m able to bum his pump. Back to my car… Schrader valve… and it’s not on of those unscrew-and-flip-around deals. GAH! Give it back to him and pout. AND THEN BRIAN SHOWS BACK UP AT HIS CAR. I borrow his pump, finish the job, and hope they haven’t already started. I arrive at the start line even earlier than my last race (started last and 15 seconds back), get a spot, and that’s that. Brian is my savior. I owe the man breakfast the next time we do a shop ride together.

The race. I lined up in about 35th spot. Not terribly bad. At the g-word, I start a bit slowly, drop about 10 spots, but no big deal; I’m in the thick of things as opposed to the back of them so that’s good. Make our way through the course for the first lap and I’m around 20th place and feeling good. Had replaced the quick release for a nut and bolt setup and no flats. I pick off a handful more folks on the 2nd lap and find myself in a small group right around 15th. For the next two laps, the five of us jockey back and forth as slips and slides are the great equalizer; get in front of the pack, slide out, face passing them all again, they slip, pass them, and so on and so on. Had I not managed two bungles (luckily neither on the tight right-hander that’d put you in a pond if you screwed up) I would have been clear of the group, but they were bungling the same so it really was a wash. My first came in a twisty, wet, slow, grassy section where I slid and went down. Low speed and I was back up in a matter of seconds, but lost two spots. The second was when I was about to break free from the group… Hop over a massive equestrian barrier and fail my remount. By fail, I mean carbon and leather several inches into my a-noose. Ow. Drop those same two spots again… One of which I wouldn’t get back. On the final lap, I had a group of about five right on my tail. One got past me heading into a sharp turn and completely bit it. With about a half mile left and a section in which I was pretty strong at (a technical little uphill and a road sprint) I figured my place was sealed. Not so. Somehow, the guy who went down hard is on my tail within seconds and I let him by as he clearly had more than I did. I stayed on his tail and we caught a rider ahead as we made our way onto the 30-second road sprint to the finish. The guy who had crashed and passed took off so I had no hope there, but I was right on the tail of the other and was happy to draft him up the short climb/sprint. With a final effort to get around him and make a gap, I saw him raise from his bars and knew the spot was mine. My first finish with anyone near… Great times.

Following the race, cooldown, meet and greet some friends, congratulate other racers. The usual. Met an employee of my “home” shop (Revolution Cycles) who commented on me riding a Cross-Check and doing well. It was a compliment… I think. I think he was inferring that my bike was slow and it was a hit to his ego to lose to it/me. Having chopped the handlebar and installed the Ergon gripsย (love them – immensely), I’m not too sure it’s as slow a steed as I originally thought or other folks seem to think; I’m able to hang with the competition everywhere and not only in places that I could make up for with fitness. Regardless, I’ll likely look at retiring it next year as I hope to get even more competitive and it likely is slowing me down by at least a few seconds per lap.

Results

I finished 12th. One better than last week, but looking at the points awarded (some cryptic system of calculating how good your performance is based on who you race), it was far and away my best finish yet. At AACX I scored 423, while this time I should be (I had to submit a correction so my exact number isn’t published yet)ย at 395 (lower is better).

As far as the race and organization goes, CX continues to surprise me… Folks are very organized, there’s tons of cheering, there are great vendors (mmm crepes at this one!), and it’s an all-around good time. One of these days I’ll try to spend a whole day at the event, but work and football have been getting in the way lately.

I don’t know what or when my next race will be, but the season surely isn’t over yet. It’s dangerous to set goals for this stuff because you don’t know who is going to show up any given day, but I’d really like to see a top 10 before the year’s out.

Yay cyclocross! Oh… and you want GPS?