Posts made in December, 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 😉 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. 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? 😛

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 😉 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.