Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend updates

Last weekend I kind of put off the work I need to get done outside because I was busy playing. :-) That Saturday I led a bicycle ride and we tested out a new route. It was nice to have to help plan out the route (I did that on Friday night). I really like the satellite feature as it helps me envision what the area generally looks like as I ride the roads. Since my 3D perception is pretty good I understand what the area should look like from the ground as well as above it. I now have a nice smart phone that I hope will be useful when we're out riding (for short cuts or alternate routes). We'll see how that goes. Sunday I spent a lot of time trying to organize my various information sources so I could reach them using the smart phone (I'm still working on that).

Now, I really wished I had drank more as Sunday I was slightly dehydrated. It would have also been nice to have had the GPS working on my Android based Samsung Captivate (bug in the firmware) to test out and get use to using the feature. I was able to use the phone to check the radar for the area though it really doesn't give you a good idea of the way the headwinds are blowing in the various areas (yes it comes from various directions). On Saturday, my friend was able to text me that she was running a few minutes late and to not leave without her. I've since added Facebook and Twitter to my phone so I'll be able to post inane information for all to see! ;-) Despite the fact there is a lot of junk posted, both Facebook and Twitter have their uses. It allows me to keep up with friends, family and acquaintances. What I'd really like to do is to figure out how to post pictures and information from my rides like my friend Lane does. I often see interesting things along the way and wouldn't mind sharing them (most of NJ doesn't look like the start of the Sorprano's). I'm glad I've met people who have given me these ideas. Now I just need to figure out how to implement these ideas.

This past weekend I did the Princeton Free Wheelers - Princeton Event. It's one of the area's big rides. We managed to get a break in the weather as it only reached 85F but starte out at 65F @ 7AM. The previous weeks before were very humid and the temperature started out at 84F and rose quickly to as much as 103F. This break in the weather was a nice relief. This year the event took a different series of roads, as it always does. They took us out to Columbus NJ, down to New Lisbon, over to Turkey Swamp and back to Mercer County Park. It was a gorgeous route. I'll have to take advantage of some of those roads now that I know them. On the hydration front I decided to learn from my previous mistakes and drink a lot more. I still went out and stayed on the front too much so at the end of the ride I was very tired. We finished with a 17.3 mph avg. Not bad considering the previous weekends air quality alerts (I'm asthmatic) and that heat & humidy limited both our speed and distances. I'm hoping that we'll continue to get a break for the rest of the summer and I'll be able to get down to Chatsworth (107 mi.) and Tuckerton (131 mi.).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Can't wait for the 2011 Longest Day!

Oops, something got messed up in the editing, this should fix that right up.

Yup, despite the problems I had running the event, I'm still looking forward to running and participating in next year's Longest Day. There are a number of problems I need to resolve such as communications (when I'll be at the Days Inn, from what time to what time, what to do if x, y, or z). I'll start working on all of that plus a whole lot more. I've seen my mistakes and I've figured out how to improve the experience. So we'll see how next year goes.

So this is the way things went; starting Monday, June 7th through Thursday June 10th I was busy with the last minute details (and there are a lot of them). On Thursday, I put down road markings at a few unmarked intersections. I plan to do that again next year. I nearly got busted twice (I didn't have permits) and the Federal officer was very polite and let me go. Friday, I had to run around and drop off the goodie bags to the folks who would hand these out at the Century and Double Metric starts. Since I had very little sleep this week I was a little dain bread and couldn't remember the house numbers (ARGH!). My Windows cell phone was useless as it kept locking up and returning no useful information. I was so tired that I forgot about 411 (information). I arrived late at Port Jervis at 7:30 PM. From 8:00 PM until 10:30 PM I was busy with handing out everything and answering questions. Unfortunately not everyone was there as several people were coming from out of state (WA, MI, OH and AR). At 10:30 PM I finished my dinner and went to bed. I had to be up by 3:00 AM to do the ride. At 1:30 AM I received a call on my cell. Unfortunately I was totally out of it and didn't really wake up and missed the call. So much for sleeping! Next year, clearer directions and I'll better prepared.

At 4:00 AM I was out the door and prepping the bike. By 4:38 AM Team Are We There Yet? (Our SAG Greg, Mark, Kevin and myself) left the Days Inn. I turned my helmet camera on (yes in the dark) and began recording our ride. It worked rather well and I'll post a montage later. Our initial 100 miles were uneventful. One rider did report and short encounter with bears (yes real bears). We saw many deer but had no problems. It was a comfortable morning but the fog kept us a bit wet. As we road we crossed the paths of many teams. We road with some, passed others and were in turn passed by others. While the camera gave you a hint of the speed we were descending it didn't really give you the feel. By the time we arrived in Manville we were feeling pretty good. Up to this point we had done some work in pace lines but the roads, hills and traffic are not really conducive to doing pace lines. Once we got on Canal Rd we kept a steady diet of pace lines. Also starting at Manville the wind was much more noticeable. A wind out of the south, expected to be 15 mph in Central Jersey and increase as the day goes on and we head further south. Head winds are a part of the Longest Day and this year didn't disappoint. The ride into Allentown went smooth though the wind was more noticeable. We had trained for winds up to 18 mph but this was worrying me a bit. The Chatsworth section is where we first start seeing head winds and they're usually mild but because your mentally fatigued you notice them (they're unrelenting). The lunch stop outside of Allentown (at the Soccer Fields) was a welcome stop. We had food that wasn't bicycle food and drinks that weren't Gatorade or water and Potato Chips that were salty and delicious! ;-) As we were in the final stages of leaving Will Bayley came up to us and asked if he could join us. Since we had trained with him we had no problem with him riding with us.

After lunch we left at the same time as several other teams. I think we came across Team Liberty, Team Major Taylor and a few others. Again we decided not to give chase and possible ruin our day. There was still 106 miles to go. The ride went smooth and we really began to enjoy the gusts of wind that would drop your speed 3 mph. Usually this occurred when someone (Kevin) was just coming to the front of the pace line. But other than that it really was a nice ride to the Ranger's Station. At this point the sun began to really come out and the temperature began to rise (as expected). A 10 mile break in Jenkins was very welcome. Unfortunately several teams had passed us while we were stopped. Including a team of about 20 people. Once we were back on the road we caught them rather quickly. They seemed to be doing about 14 mph in the heavy winds. My team didn't want to be slowed to 14 so we attempted to pass. While we were able to pass the entire train was able to latch on to our rear wheel. We weren't too happy as they could keep the pace we needed and we weren't thrilled with having to work with 20 tired people we don't know doing a pace line. That meant we (Will, Mark, Kevin and myself) were stuck with dragging the train the last 10 miles through the Barrens to the Mullica Bridge, another quick 5 minute rest stop. We then got back on the road and picked up the pace again. Along the way we picked up Kenneth from Team Major Taylor. Ken had completed the entire Chatsworth section solo (ouch) and we invited him to tag in. So we rode to May's Landing for another quick stop at McDonald's. As we were about to leave Team Major Taylor stops by the CVS next store and we discuss what Ken will do. He decidef to continue riding with us to the WaWa (mile 185). So we're off again, and the next 11 miles went pretty smoothly. The wind was still there and were dealing with it pretty well. The pace lines and chit-chat seemed to make the time go by quick. Once in Tuckerton we rode down a nice tree covered road for a few miles. It was nice to get out of the direct sun and the different scenery was also welcome. I don't know about anyone else but I was feeling pretty good as the miles ticked away to the WaWa. I picked up some extra food (not bike food) at the WaWa and we left after 6:00 PM for our last 25 miles. Up to this point we had maintained a 17.1 mph pace. The last 25 miles were brutal! We maintained the pace line but our final average dropped to 16.8 mph for the day. The winds felt like they were in excess of 20 mph. We noticed white caps on the inland bays and water ways. The only relief was that we were near the end and we knew we could make it. As we crossed the canal in Cape May the bridge didn't seem as steep (but still wasn't easy) and the final miles went better than expected. When we reached the light house (a welcome sight) we reflected on our speed with some delight and some disgust. 16.8 mph for the day, low by any standards but high when you consider that we just traverse 140+ miles of real head winds. In that light, a very respectable number. Overall an excellent ride!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

Just got back from Halter's Cycles (Rt 1, Monmouth Junction, NJ) and they were able to fix my favorite bike the Giant TCR Advanced (see my stable) for tomorrow's ride. I haven't had a chance to get it in to the shop due to work, family, The Longest Day Event and training. I expected it would be in the shop for more time than I like (separation anxiety) so I put back together my Mongoose Ti RX100 road bike. By the end of today I'll have 3 working bikes (yeah!). That should lessen the separation anxiety a whole lot.

So far the Longest Day event is going along pretty well. Since this is my first year and I haven't a clue as to what I'm doing. I actually expected a lot more problems. The majority of the registrations came in at the last minute and have kept me up late dealing with them. I have some small things to deal with but we're pretty much ready. Kevin Tatoris did me a huge favor and took over the Jersey (next year it will be part of the event from the start). He's doing some redesign work and changing the Jersey enough so that it is distinguishable from the previous Longest Day Jerseys. Thanks Kevin,

This week end I really need to put up the information on Longest Day teams.

Well more training tomorrow! I have a 124 mile (double metric) planned and 62 mile (metric) planned for Sunday. The heavy part of my training is done and afterward just some light road work (miles) to actively rest for the Longest Day. Looks like it will be a good year.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Longest Day and a ride to Tuckerton

Longest Day update: Well the registration forms keep coming in and I'm busy processing them. Wow did I get a lot of last minute registrations. I'll have the last in by tonight and the vest order will go out tomorrow. The Longest Day Jerseys are now the next order of business but I need the entire email list complete. The Jerseys will be $60 and pretty much exactly like last year (updated date of course). Sorry but I didn't have a lot of time to handle this. There has been a lot of interest in the Jerseys and they will be a part of next year's Longest Day instead of a separate part. The route review is going well I've got 150+ miles complete with a minor change at the Bridgewater Foothill Rd section. The second part of Foothill Rd is notorious for it's pot holes. This year we're going around it. While Bridge St is not one of my favorite roads it's better than Foothill (narrow, dark, cratered, too much traffic for conditions). Well I've got more work to do.

So this weekend as part of my training I took a ride down to Tuckerton. We started out in Allentown because I didn't want to make it 130+ miles, 117 was quite enough. :-) There was Lane, Will, Mark and myself. Will, Mark and myself will be doing the Longest Day. Will expects to keep a 16 mph average speed while Mark and I should keep at least a 17.5 mph average for the day. Lane has other business to attend to that weekend but if his riding is any indication of his speed he could do it faster than 18. Lane only had his heavy commuter instead of his nice carbon fiber. We told Will to hang at the back so he had a chance to survive. He did come out for his turn at a pull but we made sure he wasn't on there too long. Better to survive and ride than drag and possibly get lost on the way back. I don't like loosing riders.

The ride started out in all the familiar places: Waln, Emiley's Hill, New Egypt, Whiting. Common enough places for my rides. We then headed down to Tuckerton and passed through Lacey. As always there were plenty of pine trees (Pine Barrens). We saw the section of devastated pine forest from a few years ago. Nothing taller than 3 ft for miles in all directions. And as is common in such devastation, new growth pine trees, thick as can be. It was a 3 ft tall blanket of Pitch Pine trees. Eventually the forest will thin out and we'll see the more familiar 15 to 20 ft tall Pitch Pine Forest. It will be interesting to watch this grow over the next few years.

I was surprised at just how busy Rt 563 to Tuckerton was. It was heavier than I liked but not enough to worry about (this ain't Rt 206 between Pemberton and Hamminton). Once we reach Tuckerton we discovered that it was busy (not surprising). There is enough of a shoulder where it's not a problem but summer weekend traffic must be a nightmare. Once we reached our turn (Stage St) we were quickly out of the traffic and quickly back into the quiet Pine Barrens (nice). The forest down there was a quite a bit thicker. We crossed over several bridges over the Mullica and picked up the Longest Day route below the Green Bank Mullica Bridge. Lots of folks out fishing! We 'ran into' a cyclist in full mating colors riding a carbon time trial bike riding on the wrong side of the road (???). That was weird! As we started heading up towards Chatsworth we picked up a tail wind. One that would last most of the way home. In the Chatsworth Barrens we saw (and heard) a convoy of Corvettes, a group of motorcyclists who didn't know where they were going (Mark pointed them in the right direction). We checked out Mick's Canoe Rental and they're ready for us (they stay open until 5 PM). We also checked out the Ranger's Station. It looks like it will remain open, this is good news. In the end we averaged 17.8 mph had no problems with the route and enjoyed the day. Overall the Tuckerton ride is a keeper so I'll post that with my routes soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Beautiful weather for riding

What beautiful weather we had this weekend (Sat. 3/19 and Sun. 3/20). Saturday was the first day of spring and it reached a balmy 72F. Since early December we've had early snow storms, heavy accumulations, melt off, refreezing, flooding, and then heavy rains. It seems that every other week we had a change of weather to the opposite extreme. There are still many damaged and fallen trees in need of being cleaned up and many areas are still flooded or exhibit flood damage.

Despite all this we have been able to get out and do some riding. With all this on and off riding I've managed to pull a muscle in my quad. It seems to happen every year and I think I may have finally figured it out. It only happens when I push the pace up and it might be related to my habit of pedaling with my right foot toes down. I've found that this aggravates the tendons behind the knee and the muscle in the middle of the quad. So yesterday we go out for what was supposed to be a 50 mile ride. I really felt like doing a 72 mile ride to Pemberton. I did warn my riders that the speed would be less than the advertised mid 17's average. The ride turned into a 62 mile ride and the weather was most cooperative. Never did we hit a strong head wind. The sun shined the whole time, the birds sang, everything was ready to start budding. We kept a pretty good speed (mid 16's average) and I finished with no leg problems. I even went was far as riding today with the group out of Cranbury. We had another great day with the same wonderful weather. Still didn't have any leg problems. I am tired but I've put on over 110 miles in two days. Much more than the recommended 10%/week increase. :-)

I'm going to have to work out some additional exercises to help with the quad issue and take off some additional weight (yes, I'm also eating better). I've already started with the rest of my program. Still a few more days like this and I'll be in mileage heaven. I'm now looking forward to higher temperatures (I like it hot) and I hope to start commuting to work to build up mileage and improve my climbing. Turns out I more hills on my 40 mile commute than on the 210 mile Longest Day ride.

PS: Ah, I forgot this bit. I brought my new Tachyon Helmet Camera and put it on my handlebars. I had thought it was pointing upwards a bit but viewing the recordings showed it wasn't. I do have to devise a better mounting. It was allow to bounce around pretty good. As I've said before the camera works great. As I'm finding out the mount is a little tricky.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Grad student at NJIT

Well it's official I'm now a grad student at NJIT. I'm in the Computer Science program and I'm looking forward to learning. I'll need to do some more work on my attention deficit problems. I think I'll talk to my doctor and see what we can do. I'd prefer not to go the medicine route unless it's absolutely necessary. In the meantime I have some calculus to refresh and a few bridge course to attend to.

I also decided to do my part for the economy and get a new TV. It was expensive but it has a nice picture. I got it home, unpacked it, drooled over the picture quality and suddenly came to the realization that there were no quality programs to view. That crushed my rather frugal nature pretty severely. The good news is that my wife likes the TV and she'll use it to watch baseball. So it's not a total waste of good money. The TV supports DLNA and I now need to compile a DLNA server on my Linux server. I'm currently running MediaTomb on the server but it's UPnP and the TV doesn't recognize it properly. I'm now in the process of getting the various HD cabled up properly. The way I had the previous things cabled hasn't made it easy to hook up the new TV.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tachyon XC, Helmet Camera Pt. 2

So I've had the Tachyon XC, Helmet Camera for a month and done some modest testing (the Northeastern US has been dealing with some snow). Two weeks ago I setup the camera for medium resolution and went out for a ride. I attached it atop my helmet and despite the make-shift helmet mount the camera worked great! It pretty much stayed put and followed wherever I looked. The medium res. wasn't too bad and the voice recording actually worked pretty well (big surprise). I've determined that I really don't like it on the helmet too much as I am rather twitchy and I'm looking all over the place. The next test will be to attach it to the handle bars and see how well that works. The final test will be attached to the frame. I'm now in the process of finding some open source video editing software that I can use to edit the half hour files (I recorded 2 hours worth of a 4 hour ride). I've had no trouble reading the files off the SD card and playing them on my Linux boxes. So far I am pleased with the camera. It's well worth the money and it works great!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tachyon XC, Helmet Camera

Recently, while hunting down further information for the CJBC's Longest Day event, I found a rather neat video someone took of the 2009 Longest Day. The video came out pretty good but I felt it didn't fully capture the feeling of the Longest Day ride. I'm not some great photographer but there are certain things that standout on do this ride, such as: starting the ride before dawn, the early morning fog, some of the views on the early climbs and descents. The tunnel in Andover (you also need sound to go with this part ;-) and the list goes on. So anyway, I set out to see what was available for filming. I started with helmet cams and I found the Tachyon XC after reading a few reviews. The Tachyon was a bit more expensive but the overall quality was much better and the reviews were very positive. The available videos showed pretty good video quality. I still have some questions and soon I'll have some answers as I purchased a unit. :-)

So the other day my Tachyon XC and my Class 6 - 4G SD cards (x2) arrived. The XC can be purchased with a 32G SD card which is good for 16 hours of 640x480 @ 26fps with compression (H setting) video (up to 64 hours at the lowest quality 320x240 @15fps) but that card costs as much as as the camera itself. The camera is a nice small camera about the size of one of the double-A battery 2-4 Watt head lamps that are shown in the magazines. It's light but solid and comes with 3 different mounts. I've been playing with the side mount and it fits on the right side. I've been able to attach it to a belt, it has a slot for that, which fits around my hips. I'll need to work out how to attach it to my helmet and then my bike. For my helmet I would prefer it on my left side. I'll have to try it out on the top of my helmet, on the side, on the handle bars and on the frame. I don't have the handle bar mount but I think I have something that will work as well.

So far I like what I've seen, basically I've simply attached the camera to me and walked around with it. I set it to the best quality (640x480 - 30 fps with best compression), I'll give medium (320x240) a try later and see how that looks. My first test was a simple test, in my well lit computer room I held it against my chest and slowly spin around. I then plugged the camera into my server (running Linux) and copied the avi file over to the machine. Once on the server the avi played fine. So I expect that it will work with just about any modern OS. In fact I was surprised at how smooth the avi displayed. This camera works better than some of the other small hand held digital cameras I have. I didn't test the sound because while riding I doubt the sound would be very good (expect a lot of wind). Oh, in case your wondering, my other cameras wouldn't attach to anything very nicely and they eat batteries in a few short minutes. The XC is rated for several hours with the appropriate batteries (2 AA batteries). Next I tried the XC outside, during the day. In sun it works well but when I went inside my house the lack of direct sun light (and any inside lighting) caused the picture to be too dark to really see (still not a problem but good to know). I later tried it at night but it doesn't pick up much (I expected that). Oddly enough some of the lights the camera did pick up at night had an odd blue tint to them. As soon as I get some clear roads I'll do a night time test run. I have some wonderful roads that appear pitch black. I'd like to see how well it picks up the road with my MiNewt X2 lights.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Longest Day update

I've finally gotten my hands on the Longest Day information (the club has a small file box with the information. I now understand my role as chairperson a little better and what I need to get done soon. It also has information dating back to 1996 (Cool!) so further updates are in order to the web pages. As I'm busy with a bunch of things it may take me a couple of weeks to get that extra info on the pages.

The Longest Day meeting are set for the the East Brunswick Public Library on Tuesday April 13th and Thursday May 18th. I wasn't too happy with the dates but it was all that was open and Metuchen's library has broken links to their reservation pages (argh!).

As I've said before I'm ordering the Tachyon XC helmet camera. I figure if I start playing now I'll have it ready for the Longest Day. :-).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Longest Day 2010

As I've said before, I am the CJBC's Longest Day Event chairperson. So far I've started pulling together my check list of things to do and the one concrete thing I've completed (other that the web page) is the event date. It is: Saturday, June 12th, 2010. I have to make sure none of the costs have risen but I'm still expecting the cost of the event as it was last year $35. The cost of a 2010 CJBC membership is $13 for the electronic membership (email newsletter). I think $48 for a double century is not bad! :-) Finally I've added a twitter feed: LongestDayRide. Let's face it it's a great way to get quick updates and I'll have plenty of those to come.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Longest Day 2010

Yes, I know it's still January. I only managed my first ride in a month last Saturday (Jan. 16th). I will admit it felt great to be back on the bike and the 50F temperatures didn't hurt either. :-)

So starting in 2010, I am the newest Longest Day chairperson. Fran Sanchez, who did a wonderful job and set high standards (eep!) has turned it over to me. She has done me a great favor by sharing with me a lot of what needs to be done in preparation for the Longest Day (it's a lot of work). I hope I'm up for it. Anyway, starting some time in September 2009 I started working on the new format for my Longest Day page. I also kept a copy of the old page. That page won't be updated any longer. So far I've gone nuts. I've added a history section, an updates section, slide show, SAG Guidelines, Hand positions, Calendar, and a Poem by one of the original Longest Day riders. Today's Longest Day is a far cry from the first Longest Day back in 1980. We've certainly learned a lot since then. :-)