It's About The Journey

Rolling News. August 19th, 2014.

Le Parkour

Le Parkour (“the course”)

While browsing through local Strava segments, a cyclist (who requested to remain anonymous – we’ll call him Joe) noticed a new segment next to his neighborhood. “The segment was pretty short. I figured if I got up enough speed coming out of my neighborhood, I could hit it quick and add another KOM to my list.” KOM stands for “King of the Mountain,” the top-spot on the leader board for a Strava segment.

Joe goes on KOM Hunts. He looks for segments that he can achieve first position on, travels to that location and then attempts to take the segment’s top spot. “I sometimes drive 30, 40, 50 minutes to segments. I warm up for 5-10 minutes, then I hammer the segment.”

Two months ago, Joe made his attempt to grab this segment’s KOM. “By the time I exited my neighborhood though this back road I’d never ridden, I had hit 32 mph, and I knew I was going to take this segment.” He says lowered his head and pushed harder.

What Joe hadn’t realized was that this particular segment was created on a popular local parkour course, connecting the two neighborhoods. The Strava record from which this segment was created was accidentally marked as a “ride”, allowing the segment to show up as a cycling segment. After a slight turn, the road ended in a 6′ high brick wall that abutted the back of the adjacent neighborhood.

Suzy Canowitz – walking home from the store – recounts what she witnessed. “I saw this cyclist going mach 2 down the street and thought that maybe he was going to hit his breaks and skid at the last minute or something. But he didn’t. I think he sped up! Next thing I see is he hits the curb and flies right into the wall, and his bike basically explodes. Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. I figured he’d be hurt, so I called 911.”

After nearly six weeks in the hospital, Joe is now filing suit against Strava, claiming the segment wasn’t properly marked as hazardous. Strava would not comment on the pending litigation.


[*** Disclaimer: This is satirical post. I have no clue whether Strava is used for Parkour, or whether some idiot would sue Strava for running into a brick wall. But tell me that doesn't seem only too possible. :p ***]

Rolling News. August 12th, 2014.

Faster than a pedestrian. Stronger than a Mini Cooper. Able to leap large cracks in a single bunny-hop.

Faster than a pedestrian. Stronger than a Mini Cooper. Able to leap large cracks in a single bunny-hop.

Cyclists have long been known for their unusual feats – using more oxygen than the average human; eating more than small villages; travelling long distances in a single ride. But now, truly super human attributes are being documented among the cycling population. Scientists speculate that these abilities are manifesting themselves due to the convergence of several factors, including new cycling technologies, larger rider power output, and new supplements which claim to be “all natural.”

“It’s like a science-lab on wheels,” claims Prof. Leus d’Marco. “These cyclists push their bodies beyond anything in history, and we’re finding never-before seen proteins and molecules in their sweat and urine samples. Could be reactions between the embrocation creams, sunscreens, bug sprays, gel packets, electrolyte-infused drinks, and carbon fiber. But in our studies we’re only just scratching the surface of what putting all these random factors together in or on a human body might do.”

Cyclists are starting to take on pseudonyms and costumes to match their new-found abilities. “We’re already wearing spandex,” says one of the new super-cylists, “so it’s not like it’s a stretch. Get it?”

Some of the documented cases include:

Weather Rider: whenever he mounts his bike, mild weather becomes severe. Light clouds become a thunderstorm; a warm day flares up to over 120°; a slight breeze becomes a tornado.

Humidita: able to increase the relative humidity while she is pedaling to the point where the surrounding air becomes unbreathable.

Gradient Gal: the ability to increase the grade of a hill as she rides, turning the road into an impassable wall.

Blinder: this cyborg emits enough light to induce epileptic seizures and confuse local air traffic.

Crosswind Kid: the wind will always come from a direction perpendicular to his line of travel.

Cogito: when riding, Cogito’s IQ increases to immeasurable levels. His attention is turned towards the greater mysteries of the universe, leaving him vulnerable to heavy traffic and dogs.

Graviton: another cyborg, this cyclist carries so much gear on his bike and person as to generate a local gravity well, throwing off pace lines as he passes.

Chewtoy: a time trial specialist, the aerodynamics of his bike generate ultrasonic sound waves that irresistibly attract any dog within a 5 mile radius.

Only time will tell what new and fearful powers will develop as cycling continues to push the very limits of physics and biology.

Rolling News. August 5th, 2014.

Tony, as he appeared after the Hilton Hill Climb Challenge in May.

Tony, as he appeared after the Hilton Hill Climb Challenge in May.

After over three months of captivity, cycling and blogging celebrity Tony D. was returned home, unharmed. Tony was taken back in June while changing a flat on an evening ride, and since then there has been only intermittent communications between the abductors and the authorities investigating the case.

Originally demanding $1 million dollars for his return, the kidnappers found that no one was willing to pay that much for a cyclist. “You know how much we’ve been saving on food?” said a family member on condition of anonymity. After three months, the ransom had dropped considerably to $5,000 and some gas money “to make up for all the trips to the grocery store.”

Tony was finally found tied to his bike and gagged, in his front yard with a note on his chest. Below is a copy of the note’s text:

To anyone thinking of abducting a cyclist for ransom: DON’T! We were hoping to make a quick buck, maybe sell off his bike and get some ransom money for his return. But no one would pay! Most of his friends assumed he was just on a really long ride! We tried to sell his bike, and even though it looks new, no one wanted to buy it because the “components were more than three weeks old” they said!

And you just couldn’t get him to shut up about cycling! “Can you put on the Tour?” “Is it time for another snack?” “Are these restraints carbon?” “Is it time to eat?” “How much do these chains weigh?” “Do you have a trainer I can ride?” “When are we going to eat?” “If you shave your head you’ll save 2.3s when running away from the cops.”

We couldn’t take it! NO ransom is worth that. In fact, it took us so much food just to keep him alive that we’ve lost money!

Don’t abduct a cyclist. Just don’t.

When asked for a statement regarding his abduction and subsequent return, Tony said, “I’m happy to be back, and will start blogging again soon. But can I give you a better statement later? I’m three months late for a training ride.”

Photo Credit: Chris Wilcox, Eucha Classic Road Race Facebook Page

Photo Credit: Chris Wilcox, Eucha Classic Road Race Facebook Page

[Before I begin, I want to give a big shout out to Chris Wilcox, the Tulsa Wheelmen, Eucha Volunteer Fire Department, and all the volunteers that made for such a safe, smoothly-run, and awesomely fun race. Even if you're not a racer, you need to drive up and check this event out!]

With the weather looking very Oklahoma-ish, riders converged on the small town of Eucha, OK (pronounced “oochee”), a few miles west of Jay. Winds were strong but erratic, mostly from the South, though rapidly shifting SE and SW; there one second, gone the next. Drizzling rain was followed by hard wind, then eerie calms. Lightning in the distance (thankfully in the distance), but the charge in the air was all around.

It was race time.

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What’s Watt

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The less you weight, the faster you'll get up this hill. The less power you generate, the longer it'll take to get up this hill. Like everything in cycling, it's about balance.

The less you weigh, the faster you’ll get up this hill. The less power you generate, the longer it’ll take to get up this hill. Like everything in cycling, it’s about balance.

Start cycling for any significant length of time, and you’ll inevitably hear about “power meters” and “watts per kilogram” and “threshold” (and many other power-related numbers). Now, cyclists are almost by definition numerically obsessed: miles, mph, elevation gain, weight, grade, temp, heat index, weight, wind speed, rolling resistance, weight… the list of metrics a cyclist can follow is staggering. But the more you ride  - especially around the “did you just climb that hill at 32 mph” set, the more unavoidable these “power” terms are.

So the questions are: What is a watt? And why is it so important to cycling?

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Red Jerseys

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Not everyone gets to be Captain Kirk. In fact, very few of us ever are.

Not everyone gets to be Captain Kirk. In fact, very few of us ever are.

“Listen, here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.” Mike McDermott, as played by Matt Damon in Rounders. No, not a cycling movie (yes, cyclists need to watch non-cycling movies too!), but an excellent movie, and an excellent point.

When you go on a group ride, if you can’t spot the weakest sprinter, or climber, or the one with the least endurance, chances are it’s you. Wait, keep reading! That’s not an insult, it’s just reality. And there’s nothing wrong with facing reality. As the group starts to pour on the speed, or the climbing goes vertical, you realize that everyone’s doing well… except you.

That’s right. You’re the sacrificial lamb on this particular ride. Or for my Trekkie friends, you’re the a Red Jersey.

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One is not better than the other. Both are amazing feats of engineering, decades of design, and effort.

One is not better than the other. Both are amazing feats of engineering, decades of design, and effort.

My wife was reviewing our logs to do our taxes. Being the awesome numbers person she is, turns out she records the beginning and end mileage of my truck each year; I had no clue. From this, I found out that in 2013 I drove a grand total of… [wait for it]

2,884 miles. To answer your next question: no, I don’t know why I have a vehicle.

On the bike for 2013, I rode 5,167 miles not counting the trainer, because well, who does?

Bikes are by their very nature extremely efficient machines. Even the cheapest blue-light special bike from your local big-box store is about 80-85% efficient at converting the power output from your body into forward motion. A decent road bike? 90-95%. A mid-to-high end road bike? 97%+. A high-end Olympic-level velodrome time-trial bike? Over 99% efficient. Insane, right?

All this got me thinking: how efficient are all those miles I rode on my bike versus those I did in my truck? The more I thought about it, the harder this was to answer. See, efficiency isn’t a simple subject. When talking about efficiency, you can limit your scope to just energy efficiency – converting potential energy (in glycogen or gas) into kinetic energy. But doing that, we’re leaving out quite a bit of the overall picture. There’s temporal (time) efficiency, economic (money) efficiency, and loads of other types. Let’s break them down, get them all into similar units, and see where my bike and my truck really land.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

As another year ticks down to a close, I’m reminded of how our perception of time changes as we get older. When you’re young a single hour is a significant amount of time. Events are new, and routines to turn those daily events into mundane happenings don’t yet exist for you. You build up experiences – both good and bad – and they all stand out from one another because they haven’t happened before. “Remember that awesome spin out on my big wheel? That was cool!” Life feels long. So much time ahead.

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Enough is enough. Perpetual novices, listen up. Or better yet, don’t listen to me, watch this:

Yul Brenner (played by Malik Yoba) makes a perfect statement in the middle this dialogue. He says “But it’s not about what I see. It’s about what you see.”

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Accidents will happen. Be ready.

Accidents will happen. Be ready.

If you own a bike, you will crash. Just a matter of time. If you ride with others, you will witness a crash. Again, just a matter of time. Though you can minimize crashing, you can’t stop it, so best to prepare. Below I’m going to go through a few things to think about when you’re in a crash, and when you’re present at a crash.

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