Although I wrapped up a productive 'cross season way back on Oct. 24, and then declared myself well done two weeks ago at the last 5th Street 'Cross, I do still have my trolls out in the world looking for the latest 'cross news.
From the New England town of Wrentham, Rhode Island, comes news of a Jan. 1 'cross race, of the inform type.
While my initial reaction is that this is pure foolishness, I can't help by acknowledge the need for late-season 'cross races, seeing as how the U.S. 'cross season is being extended to match the long-standing calendar in Europe. Remember, there are no nationals in 2011, instead, nationals for the 2011-2012 season will be held in January, 2012, in Madison, Wisc.
Suddenly, that Jan. 1 'cross race doesn't seem like such a bad idea, does it? Not only will racers have the chance to practice freezing their balls off while wearing only a skin suit and embrocation, but they'll also be able to perfect railing over frozen ruts, and drifting through snow banks. Sounds like fun, right?
Also, I've often heard older racers extolling the benefits of a race format where the worst injury that can happen is taking a tumble on some grass (usually uttered while trying to convince a skeptical spouse that this is a good idea). Guess what? Frozen ground tears flesh just as well as pavement. Enjoy that.
New England may be the 'cross capital of the US, but we here in PA are also trying to get into the act. A race is planned for Jan. 15 at Camp Olympic, right here in Lower Macungie Township. I may or may not show up to point and laugh, depending on how cold it is.
Only one thing is certain: I will not be racing a 'cross bike in Wrentham on Jan. 1. Hat's off to all those who chose to engage in such foolishness.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Although I wrapped up a productive 'cross season way back on Oct. 24, and then declared myself well done two weeks ago at the last 5th Street 'Cross, I do still have my trolls out in the world looking for the latest 'cross news.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I'm not going to lie, I've been wasting a lot of time on youtube.com recently. Mostly, I've been watching The Lonely Island's I Just Had Sex on loop in preparation for future karaoke nights, but I've also discovered a few amusing parodies, such as this one of a previous Lonely Island hit, "I'm on a Boat." Gotta hand it to those guys, they sure make being in the Australian Navy look like fun. There is also a US Navy version, by the way, and while it's probably more true to the original, it's also a little too straight laced to really do justice to the source material.
Harry Potter fans will appreciate this sexy tribute. There aren't enough intoxicants in the world to make me want to think about performing Jizz in my Pants at karaoke.
Happily, this massive waste of time (and potential source of embarrassment, should my neighbor need to borrow a cup of sugar at an opportune moment) has also led to the discovery of Soapbox Melodics, an emerging hip hop group from California.
Although I question the authenticity of a hip hop group that appears to comprised entirely of white kids from UC Santa Cruz, but I'm the guy learning the lyrics to "I Just Had Sex," so who am I to judge?
Anyhow, I was first drawn in my Soapbox Melodic's use of strings and the vibes on some songs. To my relatively untrained ear, it's a pretty refreshing and different sound. Of course, I'm sure someone with more time invested in learning about music could post here and tell me all about how this is just another Missy Elliot wannabe, but that's OK.
Can you tell that it's winter time? Despite the fact that it was warmer today than it has been in a while we still have snow sticking to roads and sidewalks around town, and so I passed on today's lunch ride. I'll be getting out again for an hour, and not a moment too soon -- it's only been two days since I last rode outside and I'm already getting antsy from too much time on the rollers. It's going to be a long winter.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sadly, Emmaus did not get as much of a snow storm as we were expecting. Instead, we only got 3-4 inches. By contract, my parents got nearly two feet at their house in Brooklyn. Am I jealous? Yes. Of course, I wasn't unhappy to have an easy time getting to work today, but it would have been fun to have to break out the boots and trudge to work in knee-deep powder, instead of simply brushing the snow off my windshield (I didn't think I'd make it on my fixxy today).
So it goes. Hopefully we'll get more snow next time.
The snow had the effect on me of making me feel really sleepy yesterday and today. Despite lots and lots of sleep, I just couldn't keep my eyes open. Plus, my legs felt like absolute crap. So, instead of torturing myself further I took an easy day on the bike today, heading out to RadioShack to get a new battery for my power meter, and then spinning easy on the rollers for an hour.
It wasn't as restful as taking a day off the bike, but it was highly refreshing. If Coach Scott has taught me one thing in the time we've worked together, it's that rest is nearly as important as hard work. To continue this restful day, I'm now sitting on the sofa, watching the end of The Rock. Yes, at times I do feel that my DVD selection is a little limited, but that Sean Connery is so dreamy. Plus, seeing someone cast as "Marine who dies" in the closing credits is pretty funny. I wonder if that character name was advertised on the casting call.
If Hollywood is anything like the publishing industry, someone probably jumped on that role, even if their character's fate was sealed. I just hope that unfortunate actor didn't get type-cast later in his career.
It's remarkably quiet here in Pennsylvania, with a lot of folks at work out for the week. Ordinarily, I might say something like "I wish I was also on vacation," but, to be honest, I'm pretty happy to be working this week. It's quiet, I have a lot to do, and I'm still so new at my job that it feels way to early to be taking time off. Even having last Friday off, though I greatly enjoyed doing nearly nothing, felt a little like cheating.
Speaking of cheating, after winning the so-called "Bulldog" sprint, at the visitor's entrance to the Mack Truck plant on Friday, I was summarily relegated for opening the sprint too early (before a mandated regroup). Upon appeal, the ride jury reversed my relegation on the grounds that although I had sprinted before the re-group, the remaining riders did chase, and as such the result stood. Did you follow that. I believe that's the opposite of getting relegated for putting someone into the barriers -- I just wanted to get out of the way.
Such was the first of what I'm sure will be many introductions to the rules of group rides in the greater Allentown area. Or, I may just go rogue and try to break as many rules as possible on the group rides. Of course, I don't want to labeled a pariah.
Of the many things I miss about Saratoga is the ready access to the bike shop. Last night I removed a dirty cassette from a set of wheels that I need to return to the manufacturer who lent them to me to demo. Before installing the cassette back on my Open Pros, I cleaned it -- a task for which I would have turned to the industrial parts washer and the bike shop only a month ago. Yesterday, I instead had to fill my sink with dish detergent and water, and scrub with an old tooth brush, a process that was both less efficient and less effective than the parts washer would have been.
And that's not to mention the company I would have had while working in the shop, as opposed to the company I had in the kitchen, which was no one. Oh, life.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I've never been one to get excited about celebrating Christmas. Being that I'm Jewish I've always had a hard time embracing the holiday. I came closest in 2006, when my goy room mates and I cut down a pine bough and called it a Christmas Tree. It was silly, but it was fun. After that I dated a succession of Christian women (by dint, if not by practice) and realized that people actually take the holiday seriously and don't appreciate ironic, Charlie Brown Christmas Trees. I became bitter toward the holiday as a result. That's Mr. Grinch to you. Over the past few years I had the easy out of working over the holiday (newspapers publish everyday, after all).
But, I am now lucky enough to work for a company so militant about its holidays that not only was the office closed on Friday, but the doors were bolted all weekend, preventing any would-be workers from going into the office. (I only know this because my lap top's power cord bit the dust on Friday, so I attempted to retrieve that one that goes with my near-identical work computer form my desk, only to be denied.)
Anyhow, instead of working over the weekend, and since earlier plans fell through, I did pretty much nothing this weekend, which turned out to be really nice. After a bike ride on some new dirt roads on Friday, I retired to my couch for some serious reading and movie watching, followed by a Christmas Eve party with my relatives in Allentown.
Saturday passed in a similar fashion -- I finished Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, which I really enjoyed (thanks to the reader who gave it to me!), got on the rollers for a couple hours, watched Salt and The Other Guys, then went to a typical Jewmas dinner, Chinese, with my cousin Matt. Incidentally, he had spent his day in much the same way I had.
Today I hit The Derby, then commenced testing of a Yuba Mundo cargo bike by riding it to the grocery store, in a snow storm. It was an experience, but for the full report you'll have to read the magazine.
That brings me to now. At the moment, I'm enjoying a Christmas present from my boss, while racing a dying lap top battery (it's a good thing I happened to bring my work computer home -- I'd already sapped my own computer's battery), hoping to get this blog post finished before the computer dies. Outside the window is a wind-driven snow. The forecast says that we could get as much as 10 inches of snow overnight, but at the moment it looks like only about two inches have fallen in the past four hours. If it keeps going all night I guess it could turn into something.
A serious accumulation of snow, of course, would beg the question: how am I going to get to work tomorrow. Digging out the car would require a significant investment of time, but it will likely be too snowy to ride the fixxy that I've been commuting on.
Perhaps I'll walk.
All of that was saying, in a roundabout fashion, that this has been a very relaxing weekend. While it was not without a certain amount of introspection due to certain recent life changes, I'm glad to have had the time alone with my thoughts, and glad to have spent so much time sleeping and watching movies with my higher brain functions turned off. Everyone needs that now and again. Now that I'm no longer in a place where SOMEONE has to work over holidays, I am fully ready to embrace the occasional long weekend off, especially when it falls outside racing season and leaves me with absolutely nothing to do.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Two press releases in one week? Must be a bad week:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BY THE TOUR OF THE BATTENKILL – www.tourofthebattenkill.com
Cambridge, NY – Organizers of the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill (www.tourofthebattenkill.com) are proud to announce that nearly 2,000 participants have registered for the April 2011 event in Washington County, NY in just the first 24 hours of open registration. With 1956 registrants from more than 30 states and 5 countries by 7 PM on Wednesday, the event already approaches the 2010 total registration of 2200. More than 3000 participants are expected to register for the event to be held April 9-16, 2011 in Upstate, New York.
The scope of the race grows again in 2011 with an expanded schedule of events. The Pro/Am weekend begins on Saturday, April 9 with a non-competitive Bike Marathon to benefit wounded & disabled Veterans. The 64 mile Tour of the Battenkill Pro/Am follows the next day on Sunday, April 10. Several mid-week events are planned ahead of the following weekend’s professional races. Two new events – the Cambridge Professional Criterium race to benefit regional Public Safety, and a Ride with the Pros event – are tentatively scheduled for Thursday evening and Friday afternoon, respectively. In addition, professional racers from around the world will again be participating in regional outreach events at local schools and hospitals.
The marquee event – the Tour of the Battenkill Professional Invitational for both men and women – will be held on Saturday, April 16 and is co-organized by Cycle for Health – a new charitable organization formed to combat childhood diabetes (www.cycleforhealth.org). The USA’s Caleb Fairly of Texas won the 124 mile men’s professional race in 2010 following a 2-man break with fellow American Floyd Landis of California. The women’s professional race is a new addition for 2011 and expects to draw an international field. More than 40 States and 20 countries were represented at the event in 2010.
More information about the event, including sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, can be found at www.tourofthebattenkill.com
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
As I sit here, 1,593 racers have registered for the Tour of the Battenkill. While I'm feeling a little removed from the action (because I am a little removed from the action down here in PA), I'm still really happy for Dieter that his race continues to grow by leaps and bounds each year.
I love all the status messages relating to ToB on facebook right now. Nothing like a race in April to take our minds off the misery of riding through the cold winter.
The emails about tire selection for ToB are already pouring in, and I'm looking forward to a fun 3.5 months of ToB prep. This year, my road to the Battenkill will wind through Israel, and possibly some other warm climes, which I'm greatly looking forward to, as it continues to be cold here in Emmaus. Fortunately, the solstice has now passed us, so we can look forward to warmer and longer days ahead.
I did just learn two things that made me very sad: electric forced air heat leads to a big heating bill. And, that it gets really hot here in the summer. So, I'll try to keep that later point while I'm complaining about cold this winter. As for the former point, well, let's just say I know what I'll be doing with the raise that came with my new job.
It's a good thing the job comes with other perks, like the lunch ride, and this sweater, that the good folks at Dunning Sportwear sent me today (along with a couple shirts). For some reason, I always seem to be cold at work, and today was no exception. The new sweater was therefore a very welcome gift. That it looks good with the jeans and ToB T-shirt I happened to be wearing today was an added bonus.
Tomorrow's perk? Taking these babies for a test ride.
Monday, December 20, 2010
This from Dieter Drake, because it's nearly Tour of the Battenkill season!
'Just a reminder that registration opens online tomorrow at 7 PM Eastern Std Time at http://www.bikereg.com/events/
Also, please note that there will be three (3) questions to answer at the end of the registration page before you'll be able to submit your registration online:
1. I have read the above flyer and have reviewed the event schedule and requirements.
2. Do you have any special medical conditions that could assist event staff in the event of an emergency? (ALL information provided is kept strictly confidential)
3. I plan to attend the Saturday Check-in
We have also added a Saturday evening Spagettti Dinner hosted by the Embury Methodist Church in town (just down the treet from Saturday Check-in), and a Sunday morning breakfast at the Cambridge School - each for $10 per adult. Details and purchase on the registration page. Enjoy, and help support the community that brings you the race!!!
ADDITIONAL DETAILS, BELOW:
Online - 7 PM EST at www.bikereg.com - PLEASE READ THE REGISTRATION TEXT PRIOR TO REGISTERING!!!
Several print buttons are available if you would like a paper copy.
We've found a way to add more Cat 5 and Cat 4 fields again this year to limit the wait lists.
Start times are noted
Prize list per category is noted
Cat 3 and Cat 4 fields will be sorted and split at a later date based on TEAM AFFILIATION. Please make sure your team is listed correctly on your bikereg profile prior to registering.
BATTENKILL CHAMPIONS CLUB
Past champions of the race will be given free entry. We'll save a spot for each of you. Please let us know via email if you intend to race this year by NO LATER THAN MARCH 1, 2011.
SPRING PREVIEW RIDE:
Test your legs on the new course!
Sunday, March 20
Fully supported with pace cars, sag wagons, mechanical support, and rest stops Non-competitive Registration currently available as an additional item with the Pro/Am registration at www.bikereg.com
A new course map is available for download at www.tourofthebattenkill.com
64 miles / 103 km (Pro/1 and Cat 2 = 84 miles / 135km) 10 dirt sections
15 miles of dirt roads
4000 ft of elevation gain
They are needed! Race for free if you provide a volunteer road marshal. Racers will receive a refund when volunteer arrives. Volunteers must register online at www.tourofthebattenkill.com/
TENTATIVE EVENT SCHEDULE:
Cycle for Health Bike Marathon – non-competitive ride to benefit Wounded & Disabled Veterans – 9 AM-2 PM
Pro/Am Check-in – 3 PM-6 PM
Race Expo – 12-6 PM
Pro/Am Race-Day Check-in – 7 AM-Noon
Tour of the Battenkill Pro/Am - 9 AM-6 PM
Race Expo – 10 AM-6 PM
Pro course recon
Cambridge Pro Criterium (tentative) – 4 PM-6:30 PM
Pro course recon
Press Conference - 2 PM
Ride with the Pros – TBD
Race Expo – 3 PM-6 PM
Tour of the Battenkill
Women’s Professional 100k – 9 AM-noon
UCI Men’s Professional 200k – 1 PM-6 PM
Race Expo – 9 AM -6 PM
If you or your company wish to support the event, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org !!! The Tour of the Battenkill is co-organized by Cycle for Health - a national charitible organization.
Additional details about the event will be posted online at www.tourofthebattenkill.com as they are available
Please join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/
And follow us on Twitter - http://twitter.com/battenkill
Sunday, December 19, 2010
The best thing about living in Pennsylvania, aside from the fact that it was ten degrees warmer then in Saratoga today, is going to the mall and finding a sprawling antiques store instead of a Sears. Of course, barring Sears, there was a whole bunch of the usual craptastic mall stores, but it was fun to spend a while this afternoon perusing the antique shop.
Why was I looking for old crap to buy? I need a spice rack.
My new apartment, on the triangle in Emmaus, is lovely in a lot of ways. A view of the town's three-sided square probably ranks among the best. Next are the 10-foot ceiling and eight-foot windows, both of which make the space feel bright and airy, even on cloudy days.
Among things I don't like: the electric range, which daily turns regular tasks like making rice into a challenge. White carpets that are sure not to look great for long are right up there as well. Finally, while there's plenty of kitchen cabinets, there is a lack of drawers in the kitchen. In my last several apartments, I stored spice in a drawer, but in this apartment I no longer have drawer space.
Instead, I'm looking for a spice rack to hold them on the counter. As I'm sure you assumed, I have a large and diverse collection of spices to support my self-indulgent fantasy of being some kind of a cook.
Anyway, after looking for a spice rack in all the obvious places (Target, kitchen stores, design studios), I've come up empty. Actually, I've come up full. Full in that spice racks sold in kitchen stores and Target are only sold complete with spices, and only to hold their own, specially-sized spice jars, rather than the jars you get from the grocery store.
To me, it seems a little silly to assume that everyone who might want a spice rack also wants 24 pre-selected spices. Being that different people like different types of cooking, requiring different types of spices, hasn't factored into the minds of people who have decided we all need a rotating rack to hold 24 jars of pre-selected spices.
Boy. I was getting pretty worked up there for a minute.
Anyhow, after browsing for an hour, I failed to find a suitable spice rack even at the antique store, so the search continues. (A google search reveals that I may need a trip to The Container Store, or perhaps Bed Bath and Beyond.)
I did some away with one positive thing from my trip to the mall: I have now heard more Christmas music than I had ever heard previously in my life. And, though it was tempting, I resisted the urge to spend $40 on a wooden mixing bowl.
Other than stress about a world-wide spice rack conspiracy, I also spent eight hours on my bike this weekend, split evenly between Saturday and Sunday. March, here I come!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
OK, not really. Anyone with a calendar knows that there's still about two weeks left in this 12th month of the year. But, as of a few hours ago, I logged my last race of the year on the final night of 5th Street 'Cross.
I found it kind of odd that after farting around (and promoting a race) in October, then farting around even more (and moving) in November, I decided to start my 'cross season with a poor run at the Bethlehem Cup on Nov. 14, then followed it up with three night time 'cross races here in Pennsylvania.
My results were, in a word, craptastic, but what can you expect when you don't start your off road season until mid-November? Not much, I suppose. And I'm OK with that. I enjoyed 'cross this past month for so for the fun of it, drinking beers and eating poorly.
The Fifth Street event was somewhat novel to me, as the race is conducted by headlamp, which was somewhat intimidating at first, but turned out to be pretty fun and not nearly as sketchy as I thought. Of course, if I thought I was bad at 'cross in the daylight, I was really poor in darkness. But, it was fun.
Since starting my new job at Bicycling, I've noticed that I have fewer excuses not to do things. Case-in-point, the first week I worked here a co-worker asked me if I was going to race Fifth St. I said, "No, I sold my 'cross bike." (which is true.)
"No problem," he said, "I've got a couple test bikes, you can use one."
Similarly, I was invited on a mountain ride this weekend in Delaware, on what I'm assured are easy trails. I'd been planning on riding The Derby on Sunday, and anyway, as I told my would-be host, "I don't have a mountain bike." (again, true.)
The inevitable response came swiftly and without mercy: "Where do you work again? There has to be a bike kicking around that you could borrow."
True enough, though I think I'm going to stick with the Derby plan anyway.
While I've been a bit bummed out by not knowing any of the roads here, and by the amount of sprawl in the areas immediately surrounding Emmaus/Allentown, the shear number of riders has been astounding, and their willingness to include in me in various two wheeled adventures has been very kind, and I'm happy to have so many riding options on any given day.
Now, if only it was warmer. At least we didn't get any snow today.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
One of the things I've noticed since moving to PA is that there is much less of a focus on providing consumer goods and services around the clock.
Previous to living here in Emmaus I had never encountered an ATM that closed for the night. It's an ATM, with no person involved. You'd think there'd be no reason to close it at a set time every night. And yet, the Wachovia ATM across the triangle from me (or maybe it's a Kutztown National Bank, I can't remember), closes around 11 p.m. Eric discovered this the hard way when he helped me move in here.
Similarly, the little Indian grocery store across the way (which has, by the way, an amazing selection of spices and unusually culinary finds) closes early in the evening. While one coffee shop in town closes at midnight, the other, nicer one closes at 4 p.m. on most days. I guess they do most of their business in the morning.
In another vein, one of the major shops in the area, Cycledrom, is closed on Sundays, even though a major group ride, The Derby, rolls right by its doors on Sundays, year-round. I guess the staff wants a day off.
There's a Yoga studio under my apartment, and I've yet to see it open -- I have no idea when they hold classes.
Today, I was tripped up in my quest for a haircut. You see, they're shooting head shots of some of the Bicycling staff tomorrow and, after seeing myself on TV, I'm newly interested in presenting a well-groomed face to the world. At least in periodic media appearances. If my head shot is going to be making the rounds, I figure it's worth getting a haircut for. Besides, how often do non-actors/models have head shots taken?
Not very often. In light of that, I'll also be shaving my beard. I know it's sad -- we'd hardly gotten to know each other, my beard and I.
But, all the barbers and salons in Emmaus seem to close up shop early. Today, I was going to attempt to make it to one barber before he rolled up the sidewalk at 5, but a pile of work I wanted to get through before the end of the day prevented me from leaving early. So it goes -- work first, as they say.
On the one hand, it's very civilized to send service workers home at a reasonable hour, and I can certainly appreciate the wisdom of supporting and respecting working folks by letting them have a normal home life. On the other hand, it was nice to know that in Saratoga I could get my haircut at 7 p.m. if I needed to.
I'm learning to adjust. I just hope I can get to the barber before work tomorrow!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
After a false start last week, I did appear on the NBC Nightly News with Chuck Scarborough last night. The NBC newsroom is very impressive, and the dance performed by remotely controlled cameras, directors and producers inside the studio space was both highly orchestrated and impressive.
Having never physically appeared on a live TV broadcast before, I didn't quite know what to expect, but Mr. Scarborough and his staff were very welcoming and happy to have me on the show. You can see the clip above.
My TV appearance, combined with a day off the bike left me feeling much better today, and I was able to knock out two hours on the rollers after work, leaving me feeling worked and satisfied to be back on the bike. it continues to be really cold and windy here, so I'm not sure when I'll next be feeling brave enough to ride outside in the elements, but Quantum of Solace provided all the entertainment I needed tonight.
On a separate note, I've been riding a pair of Stan's NoTubes ZTR Alpha 340 tubeless road wheels for about six weeks, since Liz at Blue Sky suggested the company might want to lend me a pair to test, as part of the shop's consideration of the wheels.
I've been riding the wheels since then, and have found them to ride really nicely, and with a feathery weight of 1,100 grams (advertised), they certainly climb well. I was interested to read this morning a review of the wheels in Velo News, which said the wheels weren't stiff enough. Their tester must be heavier than me, or more powerful, as I have not noticed any issues with the wheels being too flimsy.
I would say that the narrow hub bodies don't inspire a lot of confidence, and, more importantly, I broke a spoke on the rear wheel while riding my rollers last week. But, other than that, they seem to me a great set of wheels that you could on almost any occasion. Since getting the set to borrow, I've used them on both hilly and flat rides, windy and still days, and took them on plenty of dirt roads. In every situation, the wheels felt great to me, and you could certainly say that I'm a tubeless convert.
While I would consider buying Stan's rims in the future, I would not be likely to buy a complete wheelset, and would opt instead to use different hubs and spokes, likely at a weight penalty -- but, what good is low weight if the product doesn't last?
Monday, December 13, 2010
The rule of thumb about being sick is that it's OK to ride if you feel sick in the head (I'm talking about physically sick here, not mentally ill), but that you should rest if you feel sick in the chest.
Since late last week I've been feeling decidedly sick in the head, with higher-than usual mucous production, and after the weekend's wedding shenanigans I started producing thick, bright green mucous. So, that was awesome. I suffered through a roller ride yesterday, and intended to spin this morning before another trip to New York (with more success this time, but more on that later), but woke up this morning feeling terrible.
Instead of the spin, I opted to stay in bed for an extra hour, which I think was a good decision, as I'm now feeling a little better. Hopefully, I can get back in the swing of regular exercise tomorrow. For the record, I'm not sure how effective NyQuill really is, but I do know that it gave me some odd dreams last night.
In general, I'm re-affirming my long-held belief that it's best to use medication sparingly.
In other news, we're going to be organizing a test of indoor riding equipment for Bicycling.com in the next couple weeks. Make sure you stay tuned if you're thinking of making any purchases this holiday season.
While others like the stoicism of suffering on their bikes in the cold, I've always been one to pop a movie in and while away my hours on the trainer. It's certainly more boring, but it's a heck of a lot warmer. Just a thought.
That's all for tonight, see you tomorrow, hopefully with more from my appearance on NBC news with Chuck Scarborough.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I did something this evening that I should have done a week ago: I replaced a wireless routes that I've been carting around since my senior year of college.
While the old Belkin served the residents of 99 Lawrence Street well as we wrote our theses, watched YouTube, and otherwise procrastinated, the device had begun to show its age in recent months, and proved incapable of keeping up with my turbo-charged Time Warner Internet back in my last domicile.
Here in Pennsylvania, the router stopped working altogether.
It's now been replaced with a super high-tech Cisco Valet, which promises to let me pick up my home network while hanging out in the Emmaus triangle, which is across the street (in nicer weather).
So far, I'm prone on the couch and haven't moved more than four feet from the router, but it is working as advertised, and I'm optimistic that I will be able to work from outside the building. Of course, I don't feel great about tossing the old router in the trash, but, if it doesn't work it doesn't work.
Why am I writing about home networking? There's not much else to report at the moment.
I spent the better part of the weekend in New York's Southern Tier to attend a wedding of a college friend of RA's, which proved to be a pretty-OK way to spend the weekend, although needing to stay sober at the reception, in order to drive back to the hotel, was a bit of a bummer. So it goes.
We rectified the situation with a "Hotel-Motel-La Quinta Inn"-style after party with some other thirsty guests. Where there's a will, there's a way...
Of course, celebrating the wedding on Saturday didn't do anything to help the nasty cold I've been fending off for a week, and I woke up feeling like ass on Sunday. I nearly bagged my plan to spin away the afternoon, upon getting back to Emmaus, but I soldiered on, and do feel a little better after sweating out some of the illness.
Here's hoping that a good night's rest and some NyQuil will have me back to 100-percent tomorrow.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
It's awfully chilly here in Pennsylvania. I bundled up under lots of layers for today's lunch ride, aboard my new test sled, a Specialized Allez Comp, equipped with the SRAM Apex gruppo.
While the bike isn't nearly as sexy as some of the bikes my colleagues are currently testing, I was impressed by the bike's light feeling on some long climb the local took me up this afternoon. (Yes, I will be referring to my new neighbors and riding partners as 'locals' until such a time that I don't have to follow them around.) Of course, the bike's super-low gearing (compact crank paired with a 28 tooth sprocket) helped with this, as did the decidedly upright cockpit setup.
Would I want to race on the Allez? Nope. But was it competent on a lunch ride? Yes, and I'm sure I'll enjoy the rest of the test period aboard it. Initially, I was thinking of extending the lunch ride to get a better sense of the bike, but cold and a nagging conscious got the best of me and I headed back to my desk after an hour of pedaling. Maybe it'll be warmer tomorrow.
After debuting last week, the goal for tomorrow is to get to Fifth Street 'Cross, but the forecast has the weather flirting with my hard-and-fast 20-degree rule, so we'll see about that. Even if it's cold, it's got to be better than riding inside, right?
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Despite that there is the promise of working Internet at home for the first time in a few weeks, tonight's post comes to you from a Trans-Bridge bus zipping across New Jersey. As I mentioned yesterday, I headed into the city to do a promo on NBC for Bicycling's newly-released Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair.
Unfortunately, shortly after boarding the bus in Bethlehem this afternoon, I got an email from our PR guy in NYC letting me know that the spot needed to be postponed. So it goes. I went to Rodale's NYC offices anyway, and had the chance to meet Bicycling's publisher and some of the staff that works with him -- it was great to get the perspective from that side of organization, and to meet some of the staff who are essential to a magazine's operation, but with whom we don't have a lot of daily interaction.
While in NYC, I spent a few hours working in a vacant office, on whose walls were hung 100-or so pages from an upcoming Men's Health sex book. I'm not stranger to such books, and although I'm not sure if I would buy this one in particular, I will say that the photo illustrations manage to be both sexy and tasteful.
I was amused, however, by the number of people who poked their head into the office to apologize for subjecting me to the nude images -- as if it were some kind of torture. In fact, the images were far less distracting than the interruptions. So, after getting some work done, I enjoyed a burrito at Chipotle and headed back to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, where I arrived ... just as the bus was leaving. Someday, I'll figure out how to make my bus/plane/train on time.
Fortunately, there was another bus not too much later, and the lower concourse of the terminal proved to be a suitably quite place to continue my evening's work.
Not being on TV was a little disappointing, and I certainly would have been more productive in my office, but all things considered, it was still a good day. Besides, in my previous life, the most exciting business trip I got to take was to Utica, so I'm not going to complain about NYC.
The TV spot to promote the book will likely be rescheduled for next week, and I'll be posting information here so that anyone in the NYC market can tune in to watch me talk about bike winterization on TV.
I'll be road testing a Specialized Allez tomorrow, so that should be fun.
For now, it's back to being productive while I'm enjoying the company's bus ticket.
Monday, December 06, 2010
So, I've been particularly bad about blogging over the past week.
Good news, I now have internet at home and will be back on track, starting ... now.
First, a quick programming note: tomorrow evening I'll be on TV promoting a Bicycling event. Stay tuned to twitter for details!
After a few days of getting my feet under me at work, I now feel like I'm beginning to get organized and get a sense of the parameters of the job. I'm also happy to report that after choosing to forgo Hanukkah festivities in Brooklyn, I had a great weekend of riding and socializing here in the Lehigh Valley.
Unfortunately, both activities were heavily effected by the cold. It's been between 30 and 40 degrees here for the past week or so, leading to lots of layering for long rides.
After going on a handful of lunch rides and driving around a bit, I was slightly worried that all my riding would be contained in the sprawling burbs that surround Allentown. It turns out, though, that once you ride clear of the sprawl, Pennsylvania is a pretty neat place to ride. There were tons of roads that could have easily been found in upstate New York, with similar farms and rolling terrain.
My perpetual quest to win the Tour of the Battenkill will also certainly be aided by the well-developed network dirt roads. After linking up with a large group of area cyclists on Saturday morning, including some co-workers and others, I rode more than five hours on Saturday, probably spending two hours on dirt roads.
I realized, when we hit an unmarked intersection of two dirt tracks in the middle of a corn field with nary a building in sight that I was, that I was both happy to be in the company of others who knew where we were, and to realize that despite the rampant development closer to the urban centers, there's no shortage of open space and wonderfully desolate roads to explore.
After surviving five hours in the cold on my bike, I met up with some folks I met through work and other for a birthday bar crawl in nearby Bethlehem for an evening of bar crawling. Perhaps not the best way to recover, but it was a great way to meet some fun people and to check out a new place. For my upstate New York readers, Bethlehem, which is about 20 minutes from Emmaus, is to Emmaus as Saratoga Springs is to Ballston Spa. Both are nice places to live, but Bethlehem has a lot more of a night life. In moving here, I opted to sacrifice access to drinking in exchange for a short commute. So far, I'm happy with my decision, but I could also see myself hanging out in Bethlehem more in the future.
Sunday brought another bike ride, in still-colder temps, followed by Hanukkah celebrations with my Allentown-native relatives. The weekend ended with a beer brewing session on the other side of the mountain. Not something I have a lot of experience with, but when a friend invited me over for the brewing session, I wasn't going to say no.
When in Rome, as they say.