Tag Archives: cycling

Progress with the end of seasons

This was the last weekend of summer and on Saturday, it actually felt a bit like fall was already here. I went out with the MIT cycling club on their ride to Dover (MA). Was a nice route and largely in areas that I had never been before, which was good. Relaxed pace and a good opportunity to talk with and start to get to know some of the other people riding. Was glad that I had picked up some knee warmers, though, as they were pretty much the perfect extra layer. Yesterday, though, felt more like summer again as I went out on the Quad ride. Again a beautiful day, though, and nice to get some more good riding in.

Today brought the actual beginning of autumn and waking up to it being kind of dull, gray and cool was not the way I had hoped to start the morning. But I dragged myself out of bed and headed to the office for a day that I had somewhat booked already with meetings.

Between them, managed to get the serial cable hooked up to the OLPC in the office and started with trying to track down kernel things again. And finally started getting somewhere. After a week (plus) of dead ends, I happened upon the right avenue and was able to confirm that the problem was OpenFirmware loading the initrd into RAM where it shouldn't have been. Wrote up a good description of what was going wrong, sent it off, and Mitch Bradley (aka OFW Ninja) had me a fix in about an hour. I didn't see it for a while longer due to other meetings, but it was in my inbox.

So, after getting home and having dinner, I tried it out and was greeted with success. So modulo fixing some more “normal” kernel problems, it looks like we should be well on our way to having the XO able to boot with the regular Fedora kernel. And this means that having an XO run just any old Fedora live image is now a very big step closer to reality…

MIT Racing Skills Clinic

One thing that I've told myself I'm going to try to take more advantage of than I did in the spring is some of the other things that MIT has to offer. This includes trying to make a point of going to some random lectures on random topics (… that seem interesting) but also doing some riding with the MIT cycling club/team. I went on a few of the Intercollegiate Ice Cream rides over the summer and the people seemed nice enough. So I went to the first meeting of the semester on Monday and decided that I am going to do some collegiate racing for MIT in the spring. I figure that a) it's a good chance to get some more riding in b) a good chance to meet some more people from different parts of MIT than I usually interact with as an SDM-er and c) the MIT racing team is good. Very very good. As in, nationals champion good.

Anyway, the first skills clinic of the year was held yesterday so I went down for it. Not a lot of mileage put in, but a good workout. And lots of good work. The MIT team is coached by Nicole Freedman and it's pretty obvious even after one skills clinic that one thing that has helped the team succeed is a good coach. The first skills clinic was a lot of fun — some things to help focus on relaxing (somewhat ironic, yes), some skills drills and then some “getting comfortable riding really really close to someone”. The latter culminated in a fun game of Death Bike. Yes, Death Bike is as much fun as it sounds and I'll have to be sure not to miss the first skills clinic next year so that I can do it again ;-) Looking forward to the future clinics as I think they'll be very helpful to me in getting to be a better rider and racer.

Today brought rain and quite a bit of it, so I didn't get out for a ride and have instead spent the day working either on stuff for work or on stuff for school. While I would have liked to have gotten a ride in, at least I can be glad that I was productive and thus feel better if I take some time for a ride on a day with better weather :-)

Glimpse of Fall

We've started to have our first glimpse of fall here in New England as the temperatures started to drop yesterday. And this means the start of the time of layering and digging out all of my cooler weather gear for commuting. I'm interested to see how long my Keen Commuter sandals are effective when worn with wool socks. Actually, a lot of my wardrobe this time of year starts to bring in wool — it's a great fabric to keep you warm when it's cooler in the mornings and evenings but at the same time, it doesn't have to be overbearingly warm in the middle of the day. So I think that my Earth, Wind and Rider wool jerseys are going to start seeing quite a bit of use again.

Classes begin, great weekend follows

Classes started back up on Thursdsay. This semester is likely going to be pretty busy. I'm taking three classes and probably being a listener for another. I'm definitely going to be taking System Project Management and the second part of System Architecture. These are both SDM core classes and so I figure I should go ahead and take them this fall as this will leave me a lot more flexibility for next fall. And although there has been plenty of complaining about System Architecture in the past from some notable people, some changes are being made to the course to help keep it more relevant, eg, for software and so I'm keeping an open mind. The other class I'm signed up for is the Sloan Business Law course — after a day, it looks like this should be a good overview of all things law-y and a number of interesting guest lectures. Personally, I might have preferred a little bit more on intellectural property than the syllabus shows, but at the same time, I'm a bit of an edge case there :-)

The class that I'm likely going to be a listener for is the trial run of Software Systems Engineering. One of the required classes in the SDM program has been a Systems Engineering course and there continues to be a (pretty significant) struggle in how to make that work for software people. And in fact, I was not a big fan of the class at all over the summer (perhaps and understatement). As part of the curriculum revamp currently in progress, the option of a Software Systems Engineering class instead of the “normal” one is being provided and it's being run for the first time this fall. Since I don't really need the credit but still think that feedback on the course is important, I'm thinking about being a listener for it. But, TBD for real after the class meets for the first time tomorrow.

Then, ended up having a great weekend. Friday after class, I met up with Kara so that we could look for her a new bike. She has a hybrid, which, while nice enough, is difficult to go longer distances on and she's been getting out on the weekends and riding. So, we looked and ended up finding a nice bike at a nice price at Quad. Then, we ended up having dinner at home, watching some tv and generally relaxing.

Saturday morning, woke up to go riding and the weather looked less than ideal. So, got some more sleep and woke up to the sun shining. But so it goes. Ended up taking an easy day with some more errand running. Then, headed over to Yoav's birthday party at which a fun time was had. Lots of cool people, interesting conversation, good food and everything else that makes for a good party. Thanks to Yoav and his wife for having us.

Sunday morning, woke up and the sun was shining and so headed out on a ride. Ended up going to the Hills of Haavvaahhhddd, which was actually a very nice ride. Ended up with about 60 miles at a little over 19 which seemed pretty good given both the wind and the hills. I do want to try to get in another time at Wells Ave before Jamestown, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. Then, it was over to and 's place for games, food and fun.

So, all in all, a good week and weekend.

Holiday Weekend Wrapup

This weekend was a long (3 day) holiday weekend in the US and since classes start back up this week, I mostly spent the weekend away from a computer.

Started things out on Friday evening by (finally) getting around to getting a haircut and a few other errands. Then Kara and I grabbed dinner, came home and then caught up on some things recorded on the TiVo. Including the rest of the Daily Show's “live” coverage of the DNC. We were suitably amused.

Saturday morning, woke up to the surprise of wet roads. But since it wasn't actively raining, went out on the Quad ride anyway and had a quite nice ride. Came home, had a quick lunch, cleaned the bike and then we headed over to some friends' house for a bit. Played Race for the Galaxy for a while which was quite a bit of fun actually. Then, we headed to Za! for dinner with some other friends as well. Ended up seeing and as they were having dinner there as well.

Sunday, again woke up and went on the Quad ride. Kara also headed out. Another good ride and then spent a good chunk of time at the bike shop. Ended up helping a few people with various things and then eventually headed home. Then, we headed over to another friend's house for an end of summer barbeque. Matthew is also from NC (randomly — he's one of the other people I ride with) and was previously a chef — so, he made pulled pork. It was quite good, as was the sausage which he made. Lots of people, only some of whom I even had a chance to meet and to be honest ended up spending a lot of time talking with people that I already knew. Headed home before it got to be too terribly late and got some more good sleep.

This morning, I again woke up and headed down for a bike ride, though a significantly different route today than the normal Quad ride. We ended up with a group of six of us and set a good pace for the entire ride. Then, grocery shopping as we were really starting to run low on a lot of our sort of staple foods. And then, again, dinner with friends.

All in all, a very good weekend. And this week starts back the full grind of work and school. I'm currently thinking of just sitting in on the first day or two of a few of my options as far as classes are concerned so that I can really decide which seems like the best fit. And also, hopefully making some more Fedora on XO progress. But more on that tomorrow or so — reading and then sleep time now.

End of summer

Or at least, the end of summer classes. Today was the last day of System Dynamics and thus, the end of my summer classes. Looking back, I'm glad that I didn't decide to take three classes over the summer as two was plenty of work. Hopefully between the feedback that's been given about Systems Engineering as well as the addition of a Software Systems Engineering course option (which I'm planning to audit in the fall), some of the problems present in that class will be less problematic in the future. I know that people have complained quite a bit about ERBA in the past, but seriously, ERBA was a much better class.

System Dynamics, on the other hand, really should be a required course for all SDM students. Not necessarily because I think that everyone will use it on a regular basis, but because it provides a very solid foundation on thinking about causes and effects within a system. The exposure has me definitely looking at things with a slightly different light. That said, I think that a lot of the actual modeling is more complicated than you're going to usually have time to do and a lot of actually simulating the models requires either tons of research to get quantitative data or making up numbers. A cool thing that I learned about yesterday is that one of the GSoC projects is actually working on an activity for the OLPC that lets you do System Dynamics modeling. This is very cool and I actually want to sit down and play with it some in the next week or two.

Some other (related) things that I've noticed over the course of the semester that are/were kind of interesting…

  • Not having some form of repository to store things and share them really makes collaboration a lot harder.

  • Vensim (the modeling software we used for System Dynamics; worked under wine fwiw) could really stand to have some form of built-in source control. Although merging changes with the silly file format might be less than fun
  • Google Docs really does work well for working on a document among a group of people. I want to play with the AbiCollab stuff now and see how well it works too. The downside is that to get it to work in a general environment, have to get people to install something. Google Docs just requires them to use their web browser. This is big
  • PowerPoint (etc) slides are a terrible way to try to convey any significant amount of information. Our society is substantially worse off for its existence

After class, I headed out on this week's MIT/Harvard ICIC ride. We headed to Jamaica Plain to visit the original JP Licks. Along the way, took a trip through the Arboretum in JP, and got a nice view of the Boston skyline.
View from the top of the hill at the Arboretum in JP
Was a nice little ride, although I was regretting not bringing the nice light and the clear lenses as it was getting dark by the time we made it back to Cambridge. But I had them in my bag for the ride home at least. I guess it's getting to where I'll be using them more. And I definitely need to go through and replace the batteries in all of my smaller lights as most of them are starting to get a little dim.

Just a little bit longer..

Only a few more days and the summer semester will be over. And I have to say that I'll be pretty glad. Have spent a fair bit of time over the past few days looking at and trying to finish up the presentation my team is giving in Systems Engineering. I need to get back to really spending some time on the System Dynamics assignment.

Otherwise, the end of my week was pretty jam-packed with various meetings. It seems to often be that way when I go into the office, but Friday seemed even more so than usual. Then, last night, got home and then went and had dinner with Kara after which we spent some time just wandering and looking at books in Barnes and Noble.

This morning, I woke up and headed out on the Quad Ride. I tried to take it sort of easy since I'm planning to race tomorrow and succeeded better than I usually do. Only did about 40 miles. Felt good to have a day that wasn't just pouring rain, though, especially after the past few days. And the sun even came out for a bit!

Tonight, I'm going to spend a little bit more time on System Dynamics and then I think Kara and I are going to watch Harold and Kumar 2 as something light and fun.

Tomorrow, I'm headed to Wells Ave to ride in circles for a little bit. Should be a good time.

Cool story on the Garmin-Chipotle Team in the Tour de France

Cool story over at ESPN about the Garmin-Chipotle team during the Tour that was written by a reporter who had full access to the team for the entire time. In addition to the neat things in the story itself, there are also some pretty impressive photographs.

Which, speaking of Tour photographs, boston.com ran two pieces with high resolution photos from the Tour as part of their Big Picture series.

Last week flew by

So yeah, last week kind of flew past me and I didn't do a good job of keeping up with posting. Lots of it was building live images for the Fedora 10 alpha (coming to a mirror near you tomorrow), testing said images, building new images, and doing over and over again. Also a whole ton of mail on various fronts. Today was more of the same, although also a lot of time trying to track down what was going on in a weird livecd-creator bug that has been popping up from time to time forever. Finally figured out the root cause so hopefully we'll get to the bottom of it real soon now.

On the school side, it was the usual level of madness for summer classes. Spent a good chunk of time Tuesday after class finishing up the System Dynamics assignment and then home to work and have dinner. Only a tiny bit longer of that and then I get a few weeks off before fall classes begin. And Kara and I have booked a short trip for in that time period as we have some overlap this time around.

And then to keep things even more busy last week, we had a pretty busy social schedule. Wednesday had a group of the Quad racers getting together at Redbones and so I wandered down there as, hey, why miss a good chance of eating at Redbones. Thursday was then the monthly “Cafe Quad” social, although I really only briefly popped my head in before going home due to the tiring week. Friday night, Kara and I ended up going out with Kate and Jon to drink to a better August, as Kate's July kind of sucked. Saturday was probably the slowest day — Quad ride in the morning, spending a little bit of time between work and looking at school stuff in the afternoon, and then dinner and watching Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story which was no better or worse than I expected it to be. It was just the sort of light comedy that I was needing at that point.

And I think that mostly catches up to the present… this week might be a little bit less insane on some fronts, but I'm sure it will make up for it on others.

Bow Road Race, 3 August 2008

Yesterday was the Bow Road Race, also known as the Central NH Road Race. I was wanting to get out and do another race again and wasn't really feeling in the mood to go to Wells Ave (… again) and so tried to get together some other people from the Quad team to go up and do it. The email met with moderate success and we ended up with a total of five Cat 5s, but they split the field by age group and so there were 3 in the 35+ Cat 5 field and then only myself and another guy in the Cat 5 under 35 field.

I got up early early early in the morning and got ready to head down to meet my ride. I grabbed a light and threw it on my bike as it was still not quite light, but once I was out the door, it actually seemed like it would have been light enough without. There was a light mist in the air and so I was wondering how much this was going to parallel the other non-Wells races I've done this year where it either rained right before or during the race. But we got on the road and as we made our way up I93, the sun started to come out and it looked like we might just have a nice day for a bike race.

We got to the starting point, registered and got ready to go. Managed to get in an almost decent warmup even, although I avoided attacking too much of the climbing while warming up just to sort of save my energy. I also was trying to work out some sort of muscle knot that I had gotten in my thigh on the drive up. We went to the start line and I positioned myself near the front with Matthew right with me. This was when we learned that the start was neutral for the first mile up the hill. Figured okay and then we were on our way. Once the pace car saw us and actually started, it kept a slow and unsteady pace up the hill. He'd go, then he'd slow down, causing the same sort of things through the entire field. Ugh.

Finally, we hit the top of the first hill and the pace car sped up and the field began to move. I kept with, trying not to push too hard but also doing what I could to stay with the group. And I succeeded for a little bit, but after one of the hills, I dropped off the back of the front end. I was determined not to let that discourage me, though, and so continued on. Not long after, I caught up with a few more stragglers and attempted to organize the group to work together. This was almost successful, but not quite. We'd work together and then hit a downhill and one of the guys would go bombing down the hill, forcing everyone to scramble to keep up. So when we were halfway around the second lap, the entire thing started to fall apart with pretty consistent attacking. I just didn't have it in my legs to keep up with that through the hills and fell back.

The rest of the race was pretty much a time trial effort. I had a couple of brief periods of working with another person, and it really helped a lot when Tyler (who was in the 35+ race) caught me right before the KOM hill and gave me some encouraging words, helping me to at least not feel that I was entirely in No Man's Land and thus a much-needed-by-then boost of confidence.

I ended up finishing about 18 minutes behind the leader, averaging 17.6 and about 4 minutes ahead of Matthew. Overall, a third of the field had dropped out (13 of the 39). So while the results weren't what I had gone in wanting to get, I still feel somewhat successful. And I didn't have the problem of over-wariness when descending in a group like I did at Lake Auburn earlier in the season. But if I'm going to do Bow (or races like it) next year, I definitely need to spend more time out climbing longer and steeper hills. The GPS said like 3500 feet of climbing over the 32-ish miles for the course. So ~ 150% of the climbing of the usual Quad ride in about 50% of the distance. It was definitely enough climbing that I felt it for a good chunk of the day. The course, though, was great even with that. Very very well marked with signage before every turn, a marshall at every turn stopping traffic and ensuring you went the right way and nice roads. So even with the amount of climbing and pain involved, I do think I'll look at doing it again next year.

And I think I'm likely to do something next weekend, probably Wells Ave unless something better shows up that I'm not seeing right now. And in all likelihood, there's I think only one or so non-Wells races with a cat 5 field left this season (other than Jamestown).