Friday, January 21, 2005

Tough Love

Morning weigh-in: 181#, 11% BF

As usual it's all my fault: that seems to work fine on other machines/browsers, but I was having a lot of trouble with Mozilla crashing whenever I used it -- turns out that Flickr makes heavy use of flash, and I have avoided downloading the latest version of flash for a long long time. I'd upgrade mozilla, then just link the old flash plugins, and since I never cared to see most flash content I didn't worry whether it actually worked or not... Then all of a sudden I needed it to work, so I had to get the latest plugin, figure out how to get rid of all the cobwebbery of symbolic links I'd built around the old version, and reinstall -- properly -- the new one. OK, it's done now, and I spent some time playing with photos, as my recent posts can attest.

I finished playing around say 8:00 or 8:30, and then it was time to ride. I knew I should get out of the house, I needed the exercise and I even wanted to go riding, but man oh man was that hard to do! I finally got out about 9:00, rode for about an hour (mainly to see if the towpath is rideable after the recent snow: it is), then went to Which Brew to warm my toes and see if there was any local music going on.

Kind of a mistake, nothing going on down there. However: this Saturday Weyerbacher is having a big "open house," and I may pick up a mixed case of their Heresy (basically their Old Heathen, an imperial stout, except Heresy is aged in oak barrels that were previously used for aging bourbon) and Insanity (basically a verison of their Blithering Idiot barleywine, ditto the oak barrel aging). Not much info on the Insanity, but rumor has it that right now it's rated either #2 or #3 barleywine in the US. At the WB I usually have a glass (snifter) of Heresy, but the keg kicked, so I asked for a bottle of the Insanity. I have to say I prefer the Heresy (barleywines are very high alcohol, and also kind of malty), but it had an interesting, vanilla taste, which I thought was cool compared to the chocolaty taste of the Heresy. I was planning to get some anyway, bout it was nice to know what it tastes like before having to own it. I'll probably put these away somewhere; they are the kind of beers that get much better with age -- next winter I'll bust them out and be a hero. Pass the port...

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Belated Christmas: Me and Mom

Belated Christmas: Me and Mom
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
One last post before I hit the trails... My mom and I show off some of our Christmas loot. By the way, if you click on the photo it'll open a larger version at, where you can navigate around to the other photos I posted there -- not all of them end up getting blogged.

New Year's Day: Delaware River

New Year's Day: Delaware River
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
More fun with Flickr: another shot of the Delaware from my New Year's Day hike. I think these rapids are "foul rift," and I liked the way the afternoon sun put a touch of gold into the "whitecaps."

Say Watt?

There was an article in Outside recently, about ideal power-to-weight ratios: top cycling medico Max Testa had studied Tour de France winners, and found that the ideal power output for winning the Tour is 2.8 watts per pound of body weight; for ordinary weekend athletes Outside gave a figure of 1.6 watts per pound. This is not a "peak output," but is the level you should be able to sustain for about 45 minutes. (For me, that translates to 264 watts at my "ideal weight" of 165 lbs, or 288 watts for my current weight -- and for those following at home, that would mean 462 watts at 165#, or 504 watts at 180#, and I too could win the tour...)

Anyway, the gym I go to has a bunch of stationary bikes with all sorts of calories/watts/etc output. Years ago I used to use these machines a lot more often, and I remember seeing my power output held sustainably at about 250 watts, so I thought I'd see where I now stood on this issue. When I went in on Saturday, I tried to figure my wattage, and almost died -- 250 watts was amazingly hard, I couldn't keep it up for even a minute!

Then I noticed that the power output (also the speed) was constant for any set resistance level, no matter how fast or slow I pedaled. This is where an engineering background comes in handy: I knew that power is resistance times speed, or in this case resistance times pedal RPM, just as speed should be a product of gearing (i.e. resistance level) and pedal RPM. It looks like the bike manufacturer picked some average pedal cadence, figured the bike speed and power output for each resistance level for that cadence, and skimped on the instrumentation. Since wattage and even calories burned, is mostly a gimmick for most people, who wouldn't know or understand if this stuff is accurate, they cheated -- not to put too fine a point on it. This is a fairly prominent sports-equipment company too, one that built their original fortune & reputation on instrumentation fer chrissakes -- no names, but this gives me one more reason not to use their heart rate monitors.

So to make a long story short, on Tuesday I found one of the older bikes, which behaved the way I expected it to (though I can't truly vouch for this one's accuracy either). After warming up I did a bunch of intervals, 1 minute at 300 watts & one minute at 225 watts, fifteen minutes total with cooldown, no problem.

So anyway: I'll probably be taking the singlespeed out tonight; I was thinking of riding Jacobsburg but may just do the towpath. After that, I might go to the ol' WB.

Self Portrait

New Year's Day: Delaware River
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
Morning weigh-in: 180#, 12% BF

A photo of the Delaware (with photographer's shadow: yes I meant to do that), from the Tekening hiking trail near Martin's Creek. This is from my now-traditional New Year's Day hike.

No exercise last night, instead it was the Chain Gang meeting at Brian's house. The meeting itself was kind of amorphous, but we had fun with some old photos (Brian getting rid of a bunch of double prints, "take what you want"), and a couple of videos from past vacations. I got a few good shots of me and some group shots that I'll scan & post to Flickr eventually; meantime, I got excited & started playing last night, uploaded a few of my own...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Colder Than A...

Morning weigh-in: 179.5#, 10.5% BF

Hit the gym last night, then did another load of laundry and brought the whole batch to be dried at the laundromat. Probably it was because of the cold (nine degrees?), but the place was pretty empty for a change, maybe one other person doing laundry plus the woman who works there -- and a homeless guy hanging out, sitting in an inconspicuous corner. Went to Which Brew for dinner (dim sum, kielbasa chili), and he was still there when I came back for my laundry. I hope he was smart enough and lucky enough to be able to stay there all night, it was killer cold out.

A few weeks ago, I was in Which Brew -- where else? -- on another cold night, when the other Don asked the owner (a practicing Wiccan), "How cold is it? Colder than a witch's what?" I haven't seen him since, think she may have turned him into a newt.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Me & Hans at French Creek

Me & Hans at French Creek
Originally uploaded by donXfive.
Some Flickr experimentation, I'll eventually figure out how I want these photos to be displayed here; in the final analysis it might be just like this but we'll see.
This photo is from Sunday's ride at French Creek. I'm on the left fixing a flat, note the stupid expression -- photographer Pete caught me off guard. Hans, on the right, is a friend of mine from Which Brew, who also happens to ride. I usually have my life neatly compartmentalized, family life, work life, bike life, pubcrawler life, this might represent "leakage between alternate universes."

Internet Voyager, on the Slow Boat

Morning weigh-in: 180#, 10% BF

Still felt tired, so I blew off the spinning class in favor of playing with the computer last night. I checked out that Flickr, but the verdict is still out: they just moved their servers and their system is still a little cranky from the move. I'll give them a few days to work the bugs out, then start messing around. Meantime, I took all the good photos (ie non-blurry, not too dark etc) from my cousin's wedding last September, fixed them up and put them in a yahoo photo gallery; I also did a little updating and maintenance on my regular site. Busywork, kind of slow going especially the yahoo since it's not set up for automation and I had 40 new photos -- [rant] you can't just say "upload all these and I'll be back later," it's ten at a time, wait, upload next ten, etc... [/rant]

Tonight I'll hit the gym for weights; I brought my gear so I can stop in without first going home, checking the email, messing with the system, realizing it's 11:30 PM... clever eh?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Happy Hour at the Unexamined Life

Morning weigh-in: 180#, 11.5% BF

No run this morning: tired from yesterday. I'll do the spin class after work. I really have nothing to say so it's back to my lunch break...

Actually, one thing of note: I think I'll be ecxperimenting with Flickr, a photo sharing site, and if I like it I may be building all my albums there. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Nap and Laundry

Just got back from French Creek, maybe an hour ago: very good ride. It was just me and Pete H, and Hans K (who'd never been there); Pete S joined us for pre-ride breakfast & conversation. Four solid hours of riding, though we only did about 16 of the 20-25 miles available -- we were lucky for the most part in that the ground was frozen, only a few wet/mushy areas, but we skipped a big part of the back section since it tends to be wet. Mellow pace, a few stops for food or mechanical problems (nothing major), just great riding. Anyway...

Reading: I finished V for Vendetta, Persepolis II, and In the Shadow of No Towers (ie all the "graphic novels" I got for Christmas), now getting into Bob Dylan's Chronicles. Also re-reading Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, by Richard Farina.

Listening: Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks, the Who Live at Leeds. By the way, the guy whose song I quoted the other day was Julian Cope.

Doing: Laundry. After that comes naptime...

Eating: Curried-flavored tofu & chick peas w/ stewed tomatoes, over rice. It's ready now, goodbye.

UPDATE: I rewrote parts of this for clarity. - Don 1-17-05