Tag Archives: cycling

Tell me why I don’t like Mondays…

Had a nice and overall relaxing weekend. Got in a nice ride on Saturday where we went out towards Westford and Groton and did Lost Lake Rd again. And this time, we didn't get lost on the way back which made it a perfect metric century. And a very very nice one at that… Lost Lake Rd is a lot of fun to bike with some off-camber road surface, lots of little rollers and some turns. I think that route is going to become a pretty common part of my routine as it really is incredibly nice and manages to incorporate some different things. I think I've also figured out a good way to have two stops that can hopefully be short to keep the total ride time down. Then Saturday evening, had a couple of friends over for takeout Thai food and board games. A good time was had by all.

Woke up yesterday morning to a fair bit of rain and so decided to wait until the afternoon to get out and ride. Ended up catching up a bit with mail, etc in the morning as well as doing my reading for Tuesday's class. Then, went out with Kate, Jon and Jim around 2. Kate and I both decided to take our fixed gears out to avoid having to clean them after the ride. We ended up doing 33 miles or so and also got to figure out how to change a flat on the rear wheel of a fixie which was fun. Good ride, though. Then spent a little bit of time yesterday evening playing the new Civilization game on the PS3 as they released a demo — good fun, I had forgotten just how much fun the Civ titles are.

Today, I have a few little things that are non-work related to accomplish during the day since I'll be at FUDCon and the Red Hat Summit starting basically tomorrow after class and all the way through Saturday. But I'm also hoping today to get a few packages put together so that garmin-sync can be available in Fedora and I might also do the bits so that pytrainer can work with Firefox 3 (and thus Fedora 9) to help move that package review along. Then it's just a matter of combining the two 🙂 I've also been considering seeing how painful firefox/mozilla plugins are to write and then try to implement the upload plugin as used by Garmin's motionbased site as it's pretty handy for uploading rides. The manual upload at least works now with the garmin-sync created files, though, so it's not too bad. Also, I think it's about time that I sit down and play with TurboGears a bit. But that's a pretty long list, so we'll see what I get to today. For now, it's lunch time!

All things in moderation

The temperatures in the Boston area have returned to a much more normal (and thus, moderate) level which has been kind of nice. The rides into campus in the morning have even almost had a little bit of a chill to them. But not enough to matter once I get moving. It's also been impressive the number of people I've seen commuting via bike. This has been touched on in a couple of the biking blogs that I read, but the effects of the gas prices really does seem to be getting more people out on bikes. Especially in this area, that's a very reasonable thing to do. The weather tends to be pretty reasonable from mid-spring to fall (at least) and there's a pretty good amount of bike lanes as well as dedicated bike paths. And even where there's not either of those, drivers here are somewhat conditioned to be used to people on bikes — I actually think that drivers are more considerate to people on bikes in the Boston area than they are to other cars.

But, that said, it's still worth being careful. Just because you're on a dedicated bike path or in a bike lane doesn't mean that there aren't things to watch out for. On a bike path, watch the crossings of roadways and be sure to observe stop signs and traffic signals. In a bike lane, also watch (and obey) stop signs and traffic signals. And in addition, watch out for people getting out of cars. If you can stay out of the door zone, you're better off, but the bike lane is likely to put you right there. So get used to looking through the rear windows or mirrors of cars to see if someone looks like they're going to get out.

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The week has continued to be pretty good. I had System Dynamics yesterday which continued to be interesting and engaging. I picked up the book today and started reading some of it and it does seem like a good text on the subject. Hopefully my opinion will hold, especially given the cost of it. Systems Engineering was this morning and seemed a bit repetitive between the last class and the reading. I should have a pretty good group for the project, though, so that should be good.

I've also managed to get in some riding the past couple of days. Yesterday, I went out with Kate and joined the NEBC folks on their Wednesday night hill ride. And they weren't kidding about the hills. Was fun, though, and I want to try to incorporate some of the route into my routine as getting some more climbing practice can't possibly hurt. Today, I joined the MIT cycling team on the ICIC (Intercollegiate Ice Cream) ride — they go out with some of the Harvard folks to an ice cream store at a very moderate and social pace. Nice people on both rides, drastically different types of rides, though 🙂

Also been trying to clean up some yum bugs and finish getting my way to Bugzilla Zero. Down to one bug, but unfortunately, it's a bit of a doozie. But, will keep trying and hopefully come up with something effective. But now, I think it's time to do some reading and then head to bed.

Heat wave says that summer is here

As a couple of people have mentioned, something of a heat wave has hit the greater Boston area over the past few days, and I actually have been pretty glad. I'm tired of days where it's 60 and drizzly. They're particularly not motivating to get out and train/ride. Because although I do want to do well racing, I also want to have fun… if it's not fun, then I probably have other things I could be/should be doing with my time. So, yesterday I got out and did 55 miles at a pretty good pace.

Then, today, I went down to the Wells Ave training crit in Newton to try out my first crit. And, somewhat to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it more than I expected. I started out at the front and pretty much stayed in the front of the pack for the entire race (15 laps, 12 miles). The pace was high but not too ridiculously so, and by staying at the front, I was at least able to avoid some of the accordion-ing that happens further back in the pack. I also apparently avoided some sketchier riders. I didn't go for any of the primes (that's pronounced preems for the non-cyclists out there reading), instead just being content to sit back and then maybe try to go at the end. As we rounded the back half of the course on the last lap, a few guys took off and I basically decided to catch on and try to follow them for all that I could. And up until about 100-150 yards to go, I was good. But then a few more people came up behind us and overtook me, leaving me to come in about 8th out of a field of a little more than 30 riders. Still, a good result for the day and one that I'm happy with. And I'll likely go back down in a couple of weeks, hopefully with a more sizable group so that we can maybe work together and do a little better. It was definitely a better experience than last week and I also did a good job of learning from what went wrong last week. And, again, I learned a few more things.

On the way back, we checked out the route for the Boloco Grand Prix race that's in a couple of weeks (no Cat 5 field, so I won't be doing it) which included doing a ride up Heartbreak Hill. Was kind of fun to see as I hadn't before, although I think that the “heartbreak” part was lost on us as we biked up it 😉 I can imagine that after running 20 miles it would kind of suck, though. Ended up with around 45 miles for the day rounding out the weekend at 100.

Tomorrow's a day in the office and then my classes start on Tuesday. So a busy week ahead. But busy's the way I like it best. And then the next week is the Summit and FUDCon, so likely even busier.

Update

The spring semester ended and since then, I've been spending time in the office and also trying to get some time in for relaxing. Overall, the spring semester was good. The classes I was taking for the most part were very applicable and I can even see some of the value of ERBA, although I also can think of some ways that the class could have been better and more applicable for people. Everything else was very good, though. The couple of weeks of break have been nice too, although I'm looking forward to classes spinning back up for the summer. Given that there are basically four classes offered over the summer and I have two summers to take them, I'm just going to take two classes over the summer and then return to the more full load in the fall. But my summer classes are going to be Systems Engineering and System Dynamics. The former is a class that continues to be in flux as SDM tries to find the right mix of things for the class to really work; more changes are in store for this year, so I'm trying to keep a positive approach to the course. System Dynamics is a class I'm really looking forward to — I sat in on a day of it last summer and thought that the material seemed very useful. And with things I've learned during the spring, I'm looking forward to it even more.

As far as other things going on, I think I'll resort to list form

  • Been working on cleaning up my outstanding bug list. There were a number of outstanding pirut RFEs and with the move to PackageKit, I've just been closing those out. Also, spent some time cleaning up livecd-creator bugs and have got that down to just a small number of RFEs that I think we should be able to get taken care of for Fedora 10.
  • The rest of Bike Week was good… got in some good biking and also went to the Redbones Bike Week party which was a good time as usual. Even if I didn't win anything in the raffles. Hrmph.
  • Been biking quite a bit as the weather has gotten substantially nicer. Been shooting to get between 200 and 250 miles a week over the past couple of weeks and have largely been succeeding. Doing some commuting to the office helps there
  • Raced at the Lake Auburn Road Race this past weekend in the 4/5 field. The course was nice, but I ended up off the back of the pack partway through the first lap due to some accordioning and not being as comfortable going down the hills at 40 mph on wet roads in a large pack. Decided against time trialing in cold rain so didn't finish. But, I learned from it and have some ideas on how to get some improvements over the rest of the season
  • Watching as gas gets ever closer to $4/gallon… more and more glad that I bike as much as I do, but looking at what other trips I can switch over. Also, need to stop by the hardware store so I can get some p-clamps and put the other rack on Kara's bike
  • Mario Kart Wii is fun.

Now to see if I can finish up my presentation for the Red Hat Summit today as well as finishing closing out a few of the aforementioned livecd-creator RFEs.

Bike Week, Two Days In

As previously mentioned, this week is Bike Week and so I'm pushing myself to only travel by bike for the week for going to school/work rather than availing myself of some of the other options. Plus, it's spring and the office isn't that far, so biking in to work gets me some good extra miles.

Yesterday was supposed to be cool and rainy, but the weather forecasters were wrong and the day ended up being just cool and windy. Biked to school per normal, no real oddities. Legs were a little sore from Sunday's ride, but I took it easy and just tried to lightly spin which worked out well.

Today ended up being significantly warmer than I expected, so I ended up peeling off some clothes on my way out to the office. I also happened to be behind a guy on the bike path who had both of the pannier bags that I've been considering (the Arkel Bug and the Arkel Commuter). This was convenient as I was able to get some real opinions and based on that, I think I'm going to go with the Commuter.

My way home ended up being a bit more interesting… I passed a few Quad riders on 225 as I was heading back but only noticed as I was flying past them spinning for all I could (ahhh, the fixie on downhills :). They did eventually catch me with a “don't you hate having to race to catch up to a commuter on a single speed” and I rode with them for a ways. Fell off as they sped down Lowell Rd and I continued on. Happened upon someone on the other side of Concord Center with a mechanical and stopped to try to help them. Finally made it home as it was getting dark and then ended up helping my next door neighbor, who needed to borrow a pump so that he can bike to work tomorrow.

Time for a spring century

As some/many of you know, May is National Bike Month and this coming week is Bike Week. Earlier in the week, one of the guys I ride with started circulating the idea of doing an 80-100 mile ride this weekend. After some discussion, Sunday was decided on as the more likely day and then it was circulated to a wider group. I was still a little on the fence about doing it, but managed to wake up and get out the door on time and headed down to the shop. There ended up being ten of us to start out, which was a pretty good number I thought. We started off at a good clip, averaging about 19 mph for the first 30-35 miles. At this point, four people needed to turn off due to time pressures and the climbing really started. The six of us left continued on and took our next stop in Sterling as there were some people needing water at that point. The stop ended up being a smidge longer than my legs wanted and then we headed off towards Princeton and the climb. I actually have to say that the summit wasn't actually as bad as I was expecting — even with a 12-25, it was very doable. The way back had a few dodgy sections of road, but overall wasn't bad. I dropped off on a hill around mile 78 due to some cramping, but Emily was still behind me, so I waited up for her and we headed back largely straight up 62. After Concord Center, I noticed that the time was getting on the late side for me to get back by when I said I would, so I pushed a bit up Rt 2A to make it back in time.


Map of the route


Elevation profile

Overall distance was about 101 miles and the riding time was just over 6 hours for an average speed of 16.4 mph. Not bad given the mountain in the middle and the headwind heading back. And about 7000 feet of climbing. Overall, a nice early spring century and also some good climbing. And a nice way to start out bike week, even if I might be a little sore in the morning.

Not dead yet!

Just really, really busy. Between the end of the semester and chugging towards the Fedora 9 release, haven't had a chance to write much. Highlights in bulleted form…

  • Birthday was good. Had some people over for a game night and I think everyone had a pretty good time
  • Prototype for our product in PDD is finished and it looks really nice. It's cool to have an idea and then see it realized in a physical form. Something you don't really get in the software world
  • Tech Strategy continues to be good… I want to write up summaries of some of the classes, but just haven't gotten there. Maybe I'll do a whirlwind pass through them late next week
  • Summer schedule is out… I think I'm going to take Systems Engineering and System Dynamics this summer, leaving the finance/accounting and supply chain classes for next summer
  • Fall schedule is also out… pretty much have to take System Architecture and Systems Project Management then. But also have room for at least one other class, just need to decide what. On the plus side, lots of good options to choose from
  • Fedora 9 is shaping up quite nicely — only the last minute “oh no!” types of things cropping up now. Feeling a little bit more confident today about getting the release out “on time”
  • Big presentation for PDD on Friday, big paper for Tech Strategy the first of next week… lots to do, not a lot of time
  • Warm enough that I'm not letting rain stop me from biking… realized that I didn't take the T to class at all during April. I did let the rain stop me from racing, though
  • Just another week and a half and things get a lot better…

Busy, busy, week

As really seems to be the norm, this week is also falling into the nice and busy category.

Had the ERBA quiz on Wednesday and didn't think it was bad at all — fair in terms of what was asked and if you paid attention to the review session, you had a very good idea of what was coming. Tech Strategy I felt less prepared for than I typically do just because I hadn't had much time to really read and digest the case. We were looking at Adobe and while I had familiarity with a lot of the events covered, that familiarity just didn't run as deeply as some of the other things we've covered. PDD was a pretty interesting class too, even with a guest lecturer — the speaker was the professor's husband who has a lot of experience in coming up with product ideas and selling them either to companies or through a company he's working for at the time. His experience had largely been in children's toys, but it was still pretty fascinating to hear the stories he had as well as some of the processes and lessons learned.

Then, we had the first SDM Connect event of the year. Unlike the ones I attended last year, this one was a bit more formal — we brought in a few people from a private investment group who were actively recruiting to get someone new to join their firm. But instead of a more information conversation, it was tilted more towards being a presentation. Which isn't bad, but lots of slides with lots of words aren't my proverbial cup of tea 😉 We had a good turnout, though, which is good as hopefully it will help to ensure that we can bring in more people effectively through the rest of the year.

Today was a day at the office, but the morning started off with my alarm not having been set. Managed to get up just in time to get ready and make the bus, though, so it wasn't an entire bust. Then, I had been planning on looking at some blockers and also sitting down to do a review of pytrainer since the package got submitted. Of course, I had failed to remember that the materials for prep'ing for the office move were present now, and so instead, I spent the day doing that. My cube is now pretty empty looking as everything is instead in boxes. So, now I've shifted things and hopefully I'll get to what I wanted to from today tomorrow.

After coming home, I headed down to the bike shop for our monthly social event where I hung out and just chatted with people. It sounds like we're going to have a good showing for the race at Blue Hills in a little over a week, so hopefully that will work out well. Also, before I headed down there, Kara gave me my birthday present even though I had said she didn't really need to get me anything. She got me the Garmin Edge 305 which I've been wanting for a while but trying not to buy for myself. It should be pretty sweet for keeping better track of my riding and helping to improve my training. The next trick will be getting it to work nicely in Fedora and seeing if I can figure out what some of the web-based apps are looking for in terms of data so that we can have good support for them 😉

Long Weekend, Cars, Bikes, and then Catching Up

Since it was a long weekend from classes, I decided to take yesterday off of work and turn it into a long weekend in general which turned out to be a pretty good thing overall. After spending the day at the office on Friday where I successfully threw out a lot of crap from my desk in preparation for the office move, I came home and then we headed out to dinner with a friend of Kara's. Dinner was good, although for some reason, I couldn't fully get into enjoying it.

Saturday, woke up in the morning and started the day off right with a nice long bike ride. Lots of people were out and a fair number of stronger riders within the group made for a good and spirited ride. Got in about 50 miles and felt like my legs were feeling okay after a few days of not. Then some time at Starbucks and a quick stop at the shop and then headed home. Kara and I then headed out to look a little more at cars since hers has been showing some signs of its age. Then, dinner with friends and eventually home to pack up what I needed to have for the race on Sunday.

Sunday was pretty much consumed by the race and not much else between travel time, food, etc. A good time was (I think at least) had by all. See my last post for the details around it.

Yesterday ended up turning into car day. After doing some additional preparation, we headed out again. And a few hours later, we had signed a chunk of paperwork to purchase a new Prius. Okay, that makes it sound like it was a spur of the moment thing, but really, it was the result of a while worth of looking into our options. The hatchback will be good for when I need/want to carry a bike and it's just me or just me and a passenger and it's also practical from other perspectives. Going for the nav system may not quite have been “practical”, but it's at least fun 😉 It's definitely the car to appeal to geeks. After all of that, we came home, had dinner and did some cleaning up around the house. Later in the evening, we finally got around to watching Juno which was fun.

Today, it was back to the grind of school and work. Although to be fair, I did start out Earth Day with a few of my classmates doing a loop up the bike path and back. Was good to get to show some more people what's out and about and the weather really is getting to be perfect. After that was diving back into the piles and piles of mail and bugs awaiting me. Made pretty good progress plowing through them, though. Also studied a bit for the ERBA quiz tomorrow and did some work for Tech Strategy. I'm pretty glad that tomorrow is the last day of ERBA as having one class less should help a bit for my sanity which is good as the continued march towards the Fedora 9 release isn't helping it any 😉 So maybe it'll balance out. Hopefully information on the summer class schedule will get sent in the next few days as I'd really like to figure out what my plan is for the summer.

But now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to go relax and then try to get to bed a little early.

Myles Standish State Park Road Race

I headed down to Plymouth today to take part in the Myles Standish State Park Road Race as my first race of the season following up on racing last fall in Jamestown, RI. Kara and I picked up Kate and John on our way down to help keep things a bit more exciting. A stop at Starbucks in West Medford and we were on our way. Made reasonable time on the way down, though the park was a bit further from the highway than we expected so we didn't get there as early as I would have liked.

Took my bike off the rack and managed to have my first slight mis-step of the day. In the process of pulling the bike off, I somehow managed to snap the plastic for my speed sensor — oh well, I can go by feel mostly. Then, I went to top off the tires and the valve of the rear tube blew out. Not the way I wanted to start things out. Changed the tube out without any problems. I do think that I'm done with the Conti tubes, though — this makes two of them that I've had valve related problems with. Between this and getting down a little late, I ended up not having as much time as I really kind of wanted for warming up. Did a quick warm-up around the parking lot just to mostly make sure everything was feeling good with the bike and with my legs. Then, we started staging. Where we sat on the line for the better part of 20 minutes. Which would have been great for getting warmed up.

In the Cat 5 under 35 field, there were about 25 people. From Quad, there was myself and Kenton. Given that we're both relatively new, we had a pretty simple plan for the race — “try to stay with the pack, if we fall off, try to work together”. As we started off, the pack got going at a pretty good clip, especially considering some of the potholes and upheavals in the pavement. But we managed to stick with the pack for a couple of miles. And then, someone decided to pick things up even more. I was pretty much at my limit and ended up falling back a bit as did a number of other people including Kenton. Of those that had fallen off, there were about five of us and at first, we did an okay job of working together, although everyone did pulls that were too long. As we got through the first lap (~ 5.25 miles), two of the five fell off the back including Kenton. I stuck on the wheels in front of me, though, and the three of us kept going for another lap or so. Then, one of the guys took off leaving just myself and one other guy. This was pretty much my “pack” until the last two miles when another two guys caught up to us and helped to get us energized again. Coming across to the finish, I managed to pull out the tiny bit I had left to keep from being passed by both of the two who had caught us.

I ended up in 18th with a time of 1:00:06 which I was pretty happy with for a course that totaled somewhere between 20 and 21 miles. And I managed to both have fun and learn some things for future races. Things to keep in mind for the future, even if they're a little obvious

  • Leave more time for warming up. Yeah, I had to deal with some unfortunate bits, but leave time for those. My legs hurt for too much of the first lap of the circuit because I hadn't had a good warm up.
  • Try to stay together better to work as a team better. And alternately (or better, in addition), try to get better cooperation with whoever else has fallen off the back. The latter sort of worked, but there was some lack of understanding on working together (I had a nice wheel, the guy I was riding with kept not drafting)
  • If you lose the pack, it's really hard to catch back up. I didn't see them again.
  • Come up with a more consistent training schedule so that I can be stronger and more consistent in a race.
  • Racing is fun!

Kara took a lot of good pictures of the race as well — link to come later once they're up. We then stuck around for the women's race (since Kate was in it) and thus also watched the 3 and 4 men's races. Kate probably had the best day of the Quadies coming in 6th in the women's race, which had 11 riders. The Quad riders in the Cat 4 race also were looking good. All in all, a good showing for Quad and a fun day for me. Now to figure out what race I'm going to do next…