Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winter

Thursday was half a snow day... and good timing, since Friday was Spring Break for me, and Jessica's work told her to stay home because of the snow. Sweet! We ended up with 15 inches or so at the house, and of course, spent most of Friday indoors. I was hoping for a real spring break, with good weather, so I could spend the day outdoors. While I did spend some time outdoors... it was mostly just shoveling. We did escape the house for a bit with Alex, to head up to Wondervu Cafe for some dinner and big 'ol blueberry margaritas!

Saturday's race was canceled, so it was back to the trainer again. Then Jessica and I hit up a baby shower for the nephew, which was conveniently in Superior, so we had a chance to check out the Krapandturd race course, that was scheduled for Sunday. While there was plenty of snow along the sides, and a few wet sections, the course was mostly looking like we would definitely race! That is... until we made the turn and came up to the climb;

Yeah... that wasn't even going to come close to drying up enough to ride anything other than a 4-wheeler up it, in time for the race on Sunday. Not surprisingly, the race was "postpwned" a few hours later.

That's alright, after the shower, we met up with Jesse, Brit-Invasion, and a pair of their friends for dinner, before hitting up the opening match of the season for the Denver Roller Dolls. This was the first of the matches that we have been to at the Fillmore. And while it's a cool idea and all, none of us thought that it worked out as well as it sounded like it would. Seating was insanely limited, and it was hard to relax and catch the action like you can at the Coliseum. The people-watching was of course pretty entertaining, and we definitely noticed a slightly different demographic with the Colfax venue...

With the race canceled on Sunday, it opened up the schedule a bit. So I made the absolute last minute decision to hit up the group ride with Seth, Joey and Chuck. As expected, it was a pretty massive group, but other than some usual sketchiness, people actually did a pretty good job of not riding like retards. Though the pace was pretty slow. I had promised to be home at a reasonable time, so at the turn for the lake, I pulled the U-turn, and did a lovely 50 minute individual time trial all the way back to town.

We had plans to meet up with Jessica's dear friend Stephanie, who had just finally pushed-out the newest member of her flock, John;

The always lovely Addison was there, and is of course very excited about her new little brother - and a total ham as always;

Speaking of babies... Walker has a new baby coming! Craig is "probably" the most excited about this little guy, but I know of at least 3 different plans already in the works to kidnap that fury little monster!

And speaking of doggies... today is Neo's 8th birthday! Which means we all get to hit Dairy Queen for some treats today!

I'm sure there will be an update soon, for all the festivities!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Call to Arms

So apparently, it's going to snow some. I'm glad I brought my snow boots, because I'm about to walk over to the Chancellor's office and punch someone in the gonads. I mean seriously... why the hell are we here at work today? And by "we", I mean, "me"... you know the one person in the office that lives at 8000 feet, and descends a treacherous, switchbacked, 24%, unplowed road to get here? To be fair, driving "The Gauntlet" from the canyon to this side of town is way more dangerous than the canyon itself; trying to duck left and right, avoiding retards sliding off city streets; trying to plan 3 moves ahead, and determine which of the three cars in front of you, is the one containing the most inept driver, that's going to start sliding out of control once they even tap their brakes... it's all sorts of "fun".

But back to this Chancellor dude... maybe shit fell through the cracks now that good ol' boy "Bud" Peterson left the university to head down to Georgia Tech, and no one is doing his job. But either way, I'm sure there is someone to harass over at his office; chanchat@colorado.edu

Made all the more fucking retarded by the fact that the students are gone for Spring Break, tomorrow the university is closed for our Spring Break... we haven't even had a snow day this year. Hell, they closed DU this morning, before a snow flake even hit the ground.

...and this just in... my rant can end since they're closing campus at 10am.

Looks like a solid day of doing nothing. Time to fire up the Playstation I guess.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Snow, Spring Break, Australia

Right on schedule, since the Koppenberg race is scheduled for this Sunday, there is the threat of a big snow storm. While going with the latest trend, I'm more apt to figure that the currently predicted 16-22 inches in the foothills will be more like some flurries - turning to blue sky. I guess we'll see. Personally, I'm hoping for a snow day. All the more so, since ironically, Friday is our "spring break" day, and I have that day off. Two in a row would be fabulous; snow or no snow. The only problem is that I'm not sure if I know where all my snow gear is, since I don't think there was any reason to get the stuff out this year!

Plus, who am I kidding? I don't care what the weather does, all my attention is fixed on Melbourne Australia, where in just one day, the 2009 Formula 1 season will finally begin!

A nice little write-up and pictures of the CultCross races over at Mountain Flyer Mag.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mammoth vs. Swarm

Seven minutes after finishing CultCross on Sunday, Jessica and I were in the car and hurtling back towards Denver. It was easily my quickest departure from a race ever; I was still a bit out of breath when we pulled out of the parking lot. I would have loved to stay for the CultCross after-party, but Jessica and I scored some great tickets to the Colorado Mammoth indoor lacrosse game against the Minnesota Swarm!

I've gone to three of these games now, but have usually sat up in the nice cheap seats. This time, we were in the 15th row, and right at mid-field, behind the penalty boxes, which was pretty sweet! But even though we were a lot closer, the players didn't look any bigger;

I'm always amazed by the show they put on for a little lacrosse game, during the introductions! I mean, flame, sparkler fountains, fireworks, Harley's... all kinds of craziness. It's almost as amazing as the encouraged unsportsmanlike attitude during the complete lack of announcements for the visiting team.

It was a pretty physical game... and there was nearly a fight even before the first face-off.

It was a pretty good thing we pulled the starting goalie... after he let 3 goals past in 3 minutes... with 3 of the exact same shot. Incredibly not surprising when during warm-ups even Jessica noted, "Wow, that goalie has a HUGE weakness in the five-hole!"

After that, the game actually got pretty close... and eventually Colorado came back and eventually won by two goals. Good game overall. Halftime was a little exhibition game between a Denver Police team and a Denver Fire Department team. Pretty sure we had a twisted ankle, a torn ACL, two minor fights, and one full-on trading of fisticuffs. All in a 4-minute game. These guys were feeling a bit tense.

Beyond the game, like all times at the Pepsi Center, the people-watching is typically "grade-A". Starting with one of the best mullets EVER...

I was left speechless. This guy tried to compete, but he just plain didn't bring his A-game. I think he could have scored a lot higher if he left the hat at home. I mean really, if you've got it, flaunt it.

Bringing your kids to a fun, wholesome night of sporting entertainment is great. It can make you a better parent. But there are limits... bringing your kid that looked to be about 6.5hrs old, probably borders on closer to "Child abuse". I mean from 3 rows back, you could still make out the different plates of the kids skull, still shaped like his mom's birthing canal.

I was totally going to hit on this dude's woman... until I heard him and his friends talking (too bad I couldn't get everyone in the shot!), and I realized that he is a level 42 Farseer, who had used Azeroth power to cast an anti-adultery spell with 56 damage to anyone that dared to even approach!

And though I thought it was a great game, and it totally kept my attention for all of 2.5 hours, I guess to some people, a lacrosse game just isn't as exciting as a good book.

Cult Cross #2 Weekend

Once again... another big weekend. After fueling up on some Izakya Den (I'm telling you, I could live on those crispy tuna tapas!!) Friday evening, Jessica and I were up early Saturday to head out to scenic New Castle.

The plan was to hang with the Bergers for the day, and on Sunday morning, we were heading back East, with a stop in Eagle for the 2nd and final installment of CultCross '09. Elgee laid out another sweet course at the Eagle Fairgrounds. In keeping with the theme of changing course conditions last week, this weeks race was different again... with windy, warm, and a very dry course.

I signed up for both the single speed and open races again. The single speed race went pretty well, started out calmly enough, and I just accelerated throughout the whole first lap, till I was up to speed, and away on my own. It was good to see Mr. Faia out there, and after I gave him a one minute headstart, I decided to keep things safe, ride a hard tempo, and just tried to stay about the same gap behind him for the race. He had a solid ride, and took out the 35+ race.

The open race was great... we had something like 9 or 10 starters, and no one lining up was shabby at all! I was definitely in for a working on this course... There were some really great, tough technical sections that required some finesse, and wide open, bumpy, grassy power sections. Those were the ones that got me. I was just off what became the chase group, and where all the fun was being had. I could make a bit of time in the slower sections, and switchbacks, but the long power sections were just too much on the single speed, and I would lose back all the time I had made up.

In the end, I finished sixth. And while a bit frustrated, I was pretty happy that I was just a few seconds behind the main group, and really held them at the same gap for the entire race. Not to mention, how can you not love a course with great use of natural obstacles, whoopdees, a ramp, two bridges, and some great maze sections!? Not to mention the incredible fans! I think everyone that raced yesterday, stuck around for the final race, and that definitely makes those final 10 laps a bit more bearable. Thanks everyone.

CultCross had it's most racers yesterday, and the event continues to grow. I say it every time... if you really think you live for cross... well then, there is absolutely zero reason for you to not get out there for these races. There is no acceptable excuse. Great job again Elgee! And I can't wait for next year!

Okay... NOW that I've got that out of my system, I'm ready for road season to begin in earnest!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cult Cross Race #1

Busy weekend, that's for sure!

Saturday Jessica, Alex and I were off to Ned for some tasty breakfast at the Savory Cafe... sadly, it wasn't nearly as good as the last time we went. But that isn't all bad, since I had to try to keep from overeating my motivation away to ride. It was a pretty nice day, and I needed to get out to stretch the legs. Still, it was actually a lot cooler than it seemed like it would be, but I got some lovely riding up along Peak to Peak.

Had to get the ride down early, since we were headed up to Craig and Jeff's for a bit of a party. The theme was "Beers of the World" and everyone was to bring some different beers to try. The hardest part for me was picking just one beer to bring... and of course I cracked and ended up bringing two of my favorites. Technically I was to bring a Belgian beer, so I brought a few bottles of Rochefort Trappist 10 - EASILY one of my favorites. I could drink this all night. I think it was well received by most people. And of course, since I was able to find a bottle, and I have been craving some, I ended up bringing a bottle of La Folie from New Belgium. - I don't like to mess around; straight to the good shit. Plus, I figured this would be an awesome one to bring, since I knew it would be a shocker for people. I don't think that anyone there had experienced a sour Belgian ale before. I just wish I had a ton of it, since I think this beer gets more enjoyable as you make your way through your first glass. I only ended up with 3 new beers for me to try, and none of those that I really enjoyed. But it was still fun to have a bit of a taste of plenty of others that I already knew about, all in one night.

A beer party and a giant hot dog off the grill however, wasn't necessarily the best preparation for doing TWO cross races the following morning. But that's okay, I mostly behaved, and the early wake up call and two hour drive weren't too bad all. I was looking forward to seeing what Elgee had created this time, for the 2009 Cult Cross series!

A smallish field as anticipated, but still, an awesome vibe all around. I really think because of the fact that everyone there, was there simply because they love cross, and just wanted to have a good time with their cross bike... suffering, and breaking in the body for the new race season. I definitely liked that Elgee had a "newbies" category for first timers, that was awesome... And he even invited people that did that first race, to jump in another category later in the day if they wanted.

The course was pretty sweet, and evolved all day. Started to thaw out just as I was warming up, and so it was super greasy at the start of my single speed race. By the afternoon, it was smoothing out, the lines were getting defined, and most of the mud made the course perfectly tacky. All day, there were great switchbacks, some steep ups and downs, power grass sections, paved sections to open the throttle, and great techie sections.

The legs didn't feel awesome in the single speed race, so I hoped to start slow. No one came past so I gave it a bit of gas till some guys came off. Gave it some more, to open the gap by myself, and held it open for a couple laps to get nice and safe. I was able to hold it at a nice tempo all race, without going too hard, but seemed to be rolling pretty well, and going fast, so the legs are going in the right direction. We started a minute behind the 35+ guys, and I caught all but the winner.

The ref did an awesome all day... except for when he stepped directly between me and Jessica during her try to catch my victory salute in the new kit - at least you can see part of my arm, right?

An hour between cross races is pretty sweet. But two hours is a death sentence. It's just long enough that the body starts to shut down, and is ready for a nap. Especially after just 5 hours of sleep the night before. So I was barely awake for the start of the Open race. Still I was happy to follow the leader, but could tell, he was going to zoom away in no time flat. I was left with another guy, who didn't seem all that into working with me to catch the leader. And I wasn't too worried about it, since the legs were telling me they weren't going to maintain that effort for a full 60 minutes anyway. I was faster on a lot of the techie sections, but with the singlespeed, he had me out-gunned on the fast sections; attacked when he should have, and I was just left to chase along. Making sure to go fast enough that no one had a chance to come from behind. Podium spot in third.

I love these races, and Elgee did a great job with them. I wish more people would just suck it up for the drive out there. Especially the people that claim to "live for cross" and all that bullshit. If you live for cross, then you should jump at the opportunity for any cross racing, regardless of time of year, and all the more so when it really is just for fun, for testing yourself, and so that you have an excuse to go play in the mud with other slightly twisted grown-ups.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two Weeks and a Stupid Bike

Somehow we're down to just two weeks until it's time for Formula 1 racing to return to Melbourne for the season opener! And because of the sweeping technical rule changes, the racing should be wide-open. Teams like McLaren seem to be struggling lately in the practice sessions, while other teams like Brawn (formerly Honda, which happily just found a new buyer in Russ Brawn) which has just taken to the track, are finishing at the top of the time sheets. Even if their car isn't much to look at;

The technical aspects of Formula 1 just blow my mind, and there are lots of technologies that trickle down from the sport into various other industries. Toyota has used what it's learned in Formula 1 to make create the iMobile "mobility concept". Which was reviewed not long ago on Top Gear;

Pretty intersting, but all I could think of while watching the story were the lazy, fat humans in the movie Wall-E, being shuttled around and coddled by their chairs which they seemingly lived in.

Unfortunately, I was much less impressed with the Formula 1 technology that was used to create "the world's most advanced bike", the Factor001;

"Multi-channel electronics package which provides unique ergonometric data collection, logging and analysis capabilities; can correlate biometric data from the rider, physical force data from the bike and environmental data; developed with feedback from professional athletes. Carbon ceramic brakes provide endless, exact braking performance at any temperature. Almost all original parts; key components designed and manufactured in-house from Formula One-grade materials. Fully integrated structure using BERU f1systems’ Wire-in-Composite patented technology; load sensors, wiring, batteries, sensors, control cables and lines for the hydraulic braking system are all fully integrated into the composite during construction, to give unparalleled efficiency and durability with a clean, uncluttered appearance. Twin-spar frame reduces sideways frame flex and preserves rider comfort. 8-spoke monocoque composite wheels deliver high lateral stiffness and robustness for everyday use. Bespoke made-to-measure frame (to within 1mm); each customer to experience Formula One-style ‘seat fit’ process."

Ummm... great... I have a bike. It weighs nearly 10% less than this 7kg bike. I don't have a "twin-spar" frame, but my "single-spar" frame provides more stiffness than I need, and is much more simple to design. Ceramic brakes? I'd be surprised if they really did get those to work properly. Perhaps you could (considering there seems to be a collection of people bent on bringing disc brakes to road bikes, even if they are heavier, more complicated, more expensive, increase rotating weight and provide more power than you could ever consider using), since while ceramic/carbon brakes typically require rather high temperatures to work well, you could get by with a set of disc brakes barely working to their potential on a road bike. This bike has special monocoque wheels that are stiff, and you can use them everyday. Of course, it's hard to tell from looking, but many wheels designed with a similar look to these have tested poorly in the windtunnel - and frankly, EVERY set of wheels I have, can be used every day.

The Factor001 does include an onboard computer though... but doesn't EVERY bike technically have an onboard computer now? Like the Factor001 it even features a radio transmitter to relay it's information. Throw on one of the new wireless ANT+ powermeters, and there you. The Factor001 has built-in, internal cabling for the shifters, brakes, and computer hardware. Definitely designed by a car maker, ask any mechanic worth his salt if that sounds like a good idea to him.

"The most advanced bike in the world" doesn't even have electronic shifters and derailleurs! Even worse, it's downright ugly, and the makers decided you needed grips on the drops, rather than tape, which gives you the lovely, and often sought-after, "dog-erection look" for your handle bars.

While being on the "cutting edge" is often tempting, even at the mere cost of $20,000 UKP, I think I'm going to stick with my "old-fashioned bike" that runs less than a quarter of that, and looks a lot more purtier.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SkyNet

Who doesn't love a friendly little robot side-kick? I mean, Luke had R2-D2 and C-3PO, and Sarah and John had...

...okay, well maybe not everyone wants to have a robot friend. But I do.

And I needed something creative to do in between pushing papers from one side of my desk to the other, so I decided I needed to build a vibrobot. The heart of a vibrobot is most often the little motor from your cell phone or pager, that makes your ass feel slightly tingly when someone calls. It's just a small electrical motor, with an off-set weight on the fly wheel. That's what creates the vibration when your phone rings. Complicated, high-tech shit, right? Who doesn't have several old phones lying around by this point? So I picked the oldest of the lot, and "delicately" disassembled my phone.

I left my favorite Stomper in the picture to provide scale, and well, because I love my Stomper. Ah! There's the motor we were looking for!

My workshop is pretty limited here at my desk. But there is always a way to use office supplies. Using an extra large binder clip, I suddenly upgraded my area with a "bench-vice";

Bristlebots (a vibrobot variant, built using the head of a toothbrush) are awfully popular, and seem to work well, but I didn't have an appropriate toothbrush here at work... besides the one currently employed to clean my teeth. So I settled on the idea of manufacturing my bots body out of a pair of paperclips. Once that was set, I just needed to solder some wires to the motor contacts. Luckily, I work in the IT department, so we have some soldering irons around, just for "old-times sake" I imagine. I quickly clipped the cable from discarded speakers, and I had wire. I tried to steal solder from a motherboard I had ripped out of a computer, but other robots were way too efficient with the amount of solder they use on the circuit boards. So I just brought in my own. Then it was just a matter of affixing the motor to the body, and connecting the wires to a watch battery I had lying around, and... IT LIVES!

I shall name him "Ralphie"
video
Not too bad for the first attempt. I have some other ideas for his body, but I need a pair of pliers for more advanced fabrication techniques. And then I just have to experiment some to see if I can control his direction... maybe slap on some LEDs so he can see where he's going... and maybe even see if any of my other phones have a stronger motor!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Performance Enhancing

I got the new Ibis team bike on the scale finally, and I can't say I was too disappointed in it.

Sure... I might be disappointed if it was my child or maybe a family member that I knew was breaking the rules, but when it's my bike that's breaking some silly weight limit rule, I admire it. 14.50lbs. for the new Ibis, and that's complete with aero wheels, bottle cages, computer... everything set to ride.

Even more importantly, that's without starting to spec the bike out with any real weight-weenie parts. Which made it that much harder to resist, when I was able to borrow a set of Edge 45mm wheels with Extralite hubs from Cycling Technology. Those wheels are just 972g for the pair, yet aero, and strong enough for just about any race - and they look damned hot as well!

On the scale (with "heavy" Ultegra pedals) the bike was down to just 13.68lbs.

That of course made me want to see what it would weigh once I have some speedplays, maybe throw on my 173g KCNC brakes, a 140g KCNC seatpost I have... no no! I'm not going to do it! Resist the weight-weenie urges! -Really... it's not that hard to do, when you know your bike is already 14.5lbs, and you can ride with absolute confidence in all the parts, with no silly-light parts that may or may not last for the rest of the day. ...but still... breaking 13lbs would be easy.

Anyway, Saturday, after visiting Grandpa Bredo, our guests came back to the house for some dinner. Craig got some new sushi-making toys and was anxious for me to give him a bit of tutorial. And that we did! We had a great selection of sushi, though I didn't count the number of pieces this time.

Miso soup for an appetizer, then a big selection of sushi; inari, tamago, salmon sprouts and cream cheese, cucumber and avocodo rolls, shrimp cucumber avocado rolls... and two new ones I decided to try. The first was tuna salad, with a big pile of scallions - that came out great. Reminded me of the smoked trout roll at Sushi Den. And the second was just crazy... bacon and baked asparagus (baked with sesame oil and garlic) - that one was just plain awesome! I think more sushi may need bacon! No one seemed to mind that we made at least twice as many pieces as we could eat.

This morning my nemesis had returned...

10 degrees with wind and light snow this morning. Ugh. Way too cold. Does anyone like March in Colorado? Well, if nothing else, maybe it will keep the Cult Cross course a bit moist for this weekends racing!

Monday, March 9, 2009

2009 Frozen Dead Guy Days!

This past weekend was Frozen Dead Guy Days up in good ol' Neder-Nederland. And as usual, it was a picture bonanza! Craig, Bonnie and Dawn came up to meet Jessica and I before heading out to the festivities. Right on cue, just as we were leaving the house, snow pretty much started dumping down. It was almost nice... I don't mind snow so much, when I'm not planning on riding the bike, and plus, this almost seemed like the most snow we had seen all year! And what the heck, of all the celebrations, you might as well have snow for Frozen Dead Guy Days!

Dumping as the crowd rolls in from the low country, and as Craig takes a picture of us at the FDGD display on the circle;

Moments after that, some guy driving through the circle, literally stopped his truck in traffic to inquire as to what was going on. He apparently had never heard of FDGD, and left way more confused than before he asked us anything. The ladies and Grandpa Bredo's incarnation;

There was good snow for the parade;

The Pope even showed up, with his friend The Flying Spaghetti Monster, as a team for the Coffin Races.

This is always one of my favorite hearses in the parade;

And though I didn't see the flame-thrower hearse around this year (we might have just missed it) this was another favorite!

As usual, the beer tent, and corresponding lines were pretty poorly arranged, which means we were stuck in line and/or drinking in the beer tent, and we missed the Polar Plunge. But there was an awesome crowd gathered on the hill for the Coffin Races;

The course looked tough again this year, but not quite as inventive as last year;

But the teams gave it their all, with several coffin crashes and this team whose "tail-gunner" was unfortunate enough to fall about 20 meters from the finish line. Not noticing, his team kept running, and the fallen teamate held on to the coffin and "let" the team drag him across the line so they could finish with a complete team.

And of course... it's FDGD... so there were more than enough entertaining people to get photos of! Like this chick... who came to FDGD in the mountains in March, but apparently didn't want to get her hair wet, while standing in line for beer tickets, and talking on her cell phone. I guess holding a garbage bag over your head, looks less retarded than having wet hair like everyone else?

Speaking of hair, I was really hoping to get a good headshot of this chick. She had full-on prom hair and make-up for the mountain festival. Of course, what do you expect from the giant (yes I am high-maintenance) purse, and nearly, but not quite matching gloves. This clan spent more time texting people than talking to the people they were with;

This guy turned to see if I really was going to take a picture of his lady friends, who were dressed up in great outfits incorporating as many "cool" fashions as possible, into one outfit... whether they should mix all those or not. And the answer to his question was "yes, yes I was taking a picture".

Can't have FDGD, and snow and 28 degree temps without at least one person in shorts. There were the requisite flip flops on someone as well, but I missed that picture;

This outfit was just plain funny, but at least he seemed to be happy with who he was;

I know if I'm going to a mountain festival on a Saturday, to walk around on a snowy hillside, and relax, that I'm going to dig into my closet for my "casual" pair of loafers. The most disturbing thing about guys with loafers on a Saturday, at a festival in a mountain town, is that it invariably means they have DRESS loafers for the rest of the week... most likely with tassels.

I liked this guy... he had loafers too... and his girlfriend's sunglasses, expensive skinny-droopy-jeans (quite possibly also his girlfriends), and the Guitar Hero satchel to really top off the look;

Of course, by far, the best had to be the chick that killed Chewbacca just so she could have a set of "fashionable" boots. Unsurprisingly she was in the beer area sucking down cigs and beers the entire time;

There was this great collection of people that were silly enough to pay for an over-priced photo with this years winner of the Grandpa Bredo look-alike contest as well! But you gotta support that economy!