Bob's Basement

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Work/Life Balance

Some people I know should read this... not that I'm naming any names, of course. Winking smile

for_dummies_work_life_balance

Posted: Nov 03 2015, 15:45 by bob | Comments (0)
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Political Changes

Here's your election thought of the day from the good folks at www.despair.com...

Change

Posted: Nov 03 2015, 15:24 by bob | Comments (0)
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The Italian Job VIII

My friend and fellow cycling enthusiast Keith shared the following security camera footage from the good folks at Woodinville Bicycle which captures the hilarious antics of a would-be thief attempting to steal a bicycle... I think we have a future Darwin Award recipient in the making.

http://youtu.be/pWdXl0DK3Ao

Posted: Nov 02 2015, 10:58 by bob | Comments (0)
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Gideon's Press

Every once in a while you need to kick back and listen to a little prog rock from Austin, TX...

Gideon's Press - Rain Down

Posted: Oct 30 2015, 13:27 by bob | Comments (0)
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A Few of My Favorite Guitar Solos

This should waste an hour or so of your time - here are ten of my favorite guitar solos...

eric-johnson david-gilmour
Eric Johnson
"Cliffs of Dover"
David Gilmour
"Comfortably Numb"
eddie-van-halen neil-zaza
Eddie Van Halen
"Eruption"
Neil Zaza
"I'm Alright"
joe-satriani alex-lifeson
Joe Satriani
"Satch Boogie"
Alex Lifeson (Rush)
"La Villa Strangiato"
stevie-ray-vaughan paul-gilbert
Stevie Ray Vaughn
"Voodoo Chile"
Paul Gilbert
"Scarified"
steve-morse yngwie-malmsteen
Steve Morse
"Tumeni Notes"
Yngwie Malmsteen
"Evil Eye"

Note: Few people know about Neil Zaza, which is too bad - as his live video shows, he's seriously underrated as a guitarist. By the way, although all of these solos are good, "Tumeni Notes" is downright impossible to play. (For me, anyway.)

Honorable Mentions

I should call out some Honorable Mentions; I think that Stevie Ray Vaughn's cover of Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" is is arguably better than Jimi's original version, but I still like the original. Also, it was a toss-up between Paul Gilbert's "Hurry Up" and "Scarified" in the original list.

jimi-hendrix randy-rhoads
Jimi Hendrix
"Voodoo Chile"
Randy Rhoads (Ozzy)
"Crazy Train"
rik-emmett paul-gilbert-2
Rik Emmett (Triumph)
"Fight the Good Fight"
Paul Gilbert
"Hurry Up"

Of course, I could go on and on about other guitar solos by other guitar players, and there are several guitarists who were somewhat inadvertently skipped in my list. (e.g. Gary Hoey, Vernon Reid, etc.) But that being said, the original list comprises some of my all-time favorite solos.

Posted: Oct 15 2015, 01:17 by bob | Comments (0)
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Stop the Domino Effect of Overreacting

Like many people last week, I was appalled when I read about the treatment of 14-year-old high school student Ahmed Mohamed in Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested for bringing what several people thought was a "hoax bomb" to school, despite his repeated assertions that it was simply a clock which he had invented. When I was Ahmed's age, I loved tinkering with electronics, and I brought my own creations to school several times, so I was understandably incensed when I read about Ahmed's plight.


CPY-VC-W8AUnJ1w

However, there is a big difference between what Ahmed claims to have done and what he actually did. Ahmed did not - in fact - build a clock from scratch. As multiple websites and YouTube videos have shown, all Ahmed did was remove an existing clock from its plastic case and mount the unmodified electronics inside a pencil box. As someone who actually built things from scratch when I was Ahmed's age, this was insulting to me, because it means that Ahmed is a fraud. While his motives are unclear, the fact is undeniable that Ahmed actually did bring a hoax to school; but he didn't bring a hoax bomb, he brought a hoax invention.

As I looked at photos of the clock which Ahmed was supposed to have built, I couldn't see where he had done anything to merit "inventiveness." The jumble of wires appeared largely intact to me; the only thing which seemed out of place was the 9V battery connector, so I wondered if Ahmed had soldered a battery connector to the main board after the transformer in order to allow the clock to work when it wasn't plugged into the wall. If so, that would have been a cool idea. But my theory proved untrue when it was later revealed that the 9V connector was the built-in battery backup for the clock memory in the event of a power failure. So once again, Ahmed appears to have done nothing to warrant all of his new-found fame and accolades. (By the way, what is truly embarrassing about this situation is that Make Magazine, which is one of my favorites, completely failed to notice that Ahmed did not actually build his own clock. That's a really big fail, guys. You should have known better.)

I realize that everyone who pursues a career in electronics has to start somewhere, and the disassembly of an existing electronic product is the perfect place for Ahmed (or anyone else) to start. When I was a teenager, I was an avid electric guitar player, so I started out with electronics by taking apart existing guitar effects to see how they worked. When I didn't understand something, I went to the library to check out books about electronic theory, and I dutifully studied the subjects which were foreign to me. Eventually I moved on to repairing other people's broken guitar effects, and finally I moved on to building guitar effects from scratch. (Craig Anderton was my hero.) So when I brought a creation to school, it was something which I had actually created. But even more than that, when I was a little older than Ahmed I actually created a digital clock from scratch by wiring together all of the parts by hand. That is a far cry from what Ahmed did; Ahmed took someone else's work, slapped his name on it, and asked to be recognized as its creator. What Ahmed has done constitutes fraud. Period.

Nevertheless, even though Ahmed is a phony as an inventor, at least in this situation, he probably did not deserve to have been arrested for bringing his hoax invention to school. I will admit that the jumble of wires and the large LED screen certainly resembles a bomb which you might see on a low-budget television show, so I should at least acknowledge the good intentions of the safety-minded school officials who thought the situation was worth investigating. (Note: Can you imagine the uproar if a student had actually brought a bomb to school and the school officials did nothing about it?)

However, once the facts of the matter were made clear and everyone knew that Ahmed had not actually brought a bomb to school, the academic and police officials overreacted, and Ahmed was humiliated as he was handcuffed and paraded before his peers as he was led away by the police.

But the overreactions didn't stop there, because everyone in the community - myself included - quickly overreacted to show our support for Ahmed. Many people were angry at the close-mindedness of the investigating officials; we all wanted to take this young David's side as he took on the Goliath of insensitivity. "@IStandWithAhmed" and "#IStandWithAhmed" became instant Twitter sensations. Mark Zuckerberg invited Ahmed to drop by Facebook for a meeting. Microsoft sent Ahmed a treasure trove of goodies to encourage his inventiveness. The Google Science Fair invited Ahmed to drop by and bring his clock. And President Obama asked Ahmed to bring his clock to the White House.

I have come to realize that these overreactions are equally as wrong as the original overreactions by the school officials; perhaps even more so - because Ahmed is being heavily rewarded for being a charlatan. Everyone needs to step back and think about this for a second: if Ahmed brought his clock to Facebook or the Microsoft Garage or the Google Science Fair, he would be a laughingstock, because his "invention" is a fake. When Ahmed is done being praised by the press and exalted by social media for being the underdog in this story, sooner or later he will have to stand in a room surrounded by people his age (or older) who are actually creating cool things from scratch. When that happens, Ahmed desperately needs have something better to show than an off-the-shelf digital clock that he stuffed into a pencil box, because real teenage inventors will immediately identify him as an imposter.

So I have changed my opinion in this matter from being upset over Ahmed's treatment by the authorities to being upset over Ahmed's treatment by the community, because we are rewarding his dishonesty. If Ahmed had copied the answers for an exam from one of his classmates, everyone would immediately recognize him as a cheater. Yet that is essentially what Ahmed is doing with his clock; he is taking someone else's creation and claiming to have created it, and therefore he is being deliberately deceitful. And through our collective overreactions our country is sending a terrible message to the youth of Ahmed's generation: "If you lie to America, not only will you get away with it, but you'll win big prizes and get an invitation to meet the President."

Posted: Sep 21 2015, 13:45 by bob | Comments (1)
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The Most-terrifying Moment In My Life

I will admit, I have done a lot of crazy things in my life. It's pretty amazing that I haven't earned a Darwin Award by now. I drove cars way too fast when I was young; and I lost control on more than one occasion. (Once I spun the car so many times that gravel had managed to embed itself through the bead on the tires; when the tire was flat the next day, we found a bunch pebbles inside the tires.) During my tenure in the Army, I did some pretty foolish things, too. Before the end of the Cold War, I snuck across the border into East Germany - and I did so on more than one occasion. Oh sure, everybody in my unit had done that at one time or other... but still, sneaking undetected into Communist territory just for the rush of trying not to get caught is kind of... stupid. All told, I've avoided more vehicular catastrophes than I can remember: I've gone free climbing at night, I've rappelled from helicopters, I've been scuba diving with sharks, I've jumped over rattlesnakes in the desert, and I've survived a host of other reckless, ill-advised, and/or dim-witted decisions with regard to my personal safety.

But what has scared me the most in my life is when my first daughter was born. I know a lot of people make jokes about how becoming a parent is terrifying, but that's not what I mean.

My wife and I married very young - just out of high school to be exact - and we became parents when we were still quite young. In fact, I was a few months short of my 20th birthday when our daughter was born. I only mention my age because it made everything harder; I had no real life experience to judge the seriousness of any situation. So when we arrived at the hospital prior to the birth of our daughter, everything was new to us.

Thankfully my wife's good friend was there; she was a pediatric ICU nurse, and she helped keep things running smoothly for us. (And of course, by "us" I mean "me.") After my wife had been in labor for several hours, she apparently still had several hours ahead of her. With that in mind, my wife's friend told me that she and I were pretty worthless hanging around the delivery room, so she said that she and I should head to dinner.

However, when we got back from dinner, complete chaos had erupted in my wife's hospital room. Medical personnel were running all over the place, my wife was wired up to all sorts of equipment, and everyone's face had an expression of dire seriousness. When a nearby nurse finally had a moment to describe what was going on, she explained that our daughter's heart rate had dropped in half - from 140bpm to 70bpm. If the doctors didn't operate immediately, our daughter would die. So before I really knew what was happening, I found myself decked out in surgical scrubs and being quickly escorted down the hall and into a densely-packed operating room.

Watching a cesarean section was... well... it's hard to explain; I experienced a range of emotions. Under other circumstances watching surgery would be fascinating, but there was something that was really unnerving about watching someone cut open my wife with a scalpel. Added to that was the knowledge that both my wife's and my daughter's lives were at stake. And that part was especially terrifying.

There's a scene in the movie She's Having A Baby where Elizabeth McGovern's character is having a cesarean section while Kevin Bacon's character is nervously waiting outside the operating room with both sets of their parents. It's a heart-wrenching moment in the movie, but even more so for me because I more or less lived through that same experience.

The end of my story is that the surgery was a success; both mother and daughter recovered from their ordeals. Thirty years have come and gone since that fateful day, but I have never forgotten what if felt like to realize that I might lose everything that was important to me. I have never felt more helpless. Or more petrified.

Posted: Sep 16 2015, 01:33 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Modern Art versus the I Could Do That Mentality

I found the following video fascinating because... I love art. I have been to dozens of art museums all over the world, and I have often said the words, "I can do that." (See my blog post titled The Eye of the Beholder for more about that subject.)

To Those Who Have Looked At Art And Thought I Could Do That An Art Curator Explains Why You Couldn't

However, I vehemently disagree with this presenter's central supposition; pushing back on "unappreciative observers" by claiming that "it's their problem" if they cannot appreciate something which is obviously below the artistic standards of a two-year-old is a cop out. Much of what is called "art" in this generation will not survive to be admired by future generations because - to put it bluntly - most modern art is crap.

Don't get me wrong, there is something to be said for challenging artistic norms, breaking new ground, and using creative license to push any art form into new avenues. It doesn't matter if an artist is using oil on canvas, sculpture, photography, musical composition, etc.; the mark of a true artist is someone who takes their chosen field to new heights. However, within each artistic field are pretenders who are in a race for the bottom, while at the same time protesting that your lack of approval for their creations is due to some deficiency on your part. That - my friends - is a load of cow poop. (And as a quick case in point, a load of cow poop has been considered "art" by some people, which perfectly illustrates my premise. See Why is Modern Art so Bad? for more.)

The presenter in the original video asks her audience to consider asking why they didn't actually create the art which they are critiquing, and then posits the inane suggestion that her viewers are actually incapable of doing so. This assertion is also a bunch of hogwash; the reason why most people do not actually do the things they say that they can do when it comes to art is because: 1) most people realize that the unskilled smearing of paint on a canvas is a colossal waste of time and money, and 2) most of us are not con men.

It is a sad fact that in this day and age a lot of the peddlers of modern art make their living from convincing the rest of the world that anyone who cannot appreciate their art is simply "uncultured," so most everyone plays along in order to not seem like a unsophisticated simpleton. The presenter in that video is a perfect example; it's her job to make you think that you simply aren't as refined as she is. But the truth is - you're a much better person for standing back every once in a while and exclaiming, "That's a big pile-o-poppycock; I could do that." What's more, you're probably helping the art world. As more people begin point their fingers and laugh at the ever-growing number of incompetent charlatans who are passing themselves off as "artists," perhaps we'll finally be able send them back to art school where they can develop some sort of talent. Or even better, maybe these artists will get real jobs and quit milking the empty-headed stooges who continuously buy into their deceptions.

One parting thought, take a look at Can You Tell The Difference Between Modern Art And Paintings By Toddlers? and see if you can tell the difference between actual modern art paintings and creations by four-year-olds; I'll bet you'll find it nearly impossible to accurately separate the two sets of "art" into their correct categories, regardless of your appreciation for modern art.

Posted: Sep 01 2015, 21:50 by Bob | Comments (8)
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Ride Notes for Cool Breeze 2015

Today I completed the Cool Breeze Century in Ventura, CA, which was organized by the Channel Islands Bicycle Club (CIBC). This century ride was billed by the CIBC as: "102 miles with about 4000 feet of climb - moderately challenging, [and] excellent for 1st time centurions." This was my fourth century ride within the past nine months, and despite its advertised status as an excellent ride for "first-time century riders," I think it was one of the more-difficult long distance rides that I have done.

I participated in this century ride with my good friend Kevin, who lives in the Los Angeles area. Kevin told me a few weeks ago that he had signed up for this ride, and at the last minute I invited myself along. Since I live in Arizona, however, this meant that I had to endure a ten-hour drive through the desert to LA on the day before the ride. Nevertheless I met up with Kevin in Ventura on the night before the ride, and we put together our plans for the next day.

We both got up early as planned, and I drove the two of us to the starting point near the Ventura Unified School District offices, where we arrived around 6:15am. (We were one of the last cars to get a great spot in the main parking lot.) We quickly pulled into a parking space, and then Kevin and I put together the last of our things for the day's ride. After a few minutes of deciding what to bring and what to leave, we headed off toward the starting line around 6:30am. In keeping with the spirit of this ride as a "non-race event," there was very little fanfare at the starting line - we simply rode past a set of banners with dozens of other cyclists and we were off.

Prepping the last of our gear for the day.
Last-minute selfie before heading out.
Approaching the starting line.

I should point out before I go any further that I immediately appreciated how well-marked the route was throughout the day; there were route signs everywhere for the duration of the ride. (This was a great improvement over some other rides where you periodically wondered if you had accidentally left the route.) All of the route signs were emblazoned with color-coded arrows which matched the cue sheet that cyclists were given when they registered, so as long as cyclists followed the correctly-colored arrows throughout the day, they were going the right way. One discrepancy that Kevin and I noticed was that the cue sheet which we had been given only listed 97 miles for the length, which was five miles shorter than the 102 miles which was advertised for the ride. I told Kevin not to worry - I had my Garmin GPS with me, and we could use it to verify the ride length when the time came.

One of the many color-coded route signs
which were scattered throughout the route.

For the first 2.5 miles our route ran south along highway 33 in Ventura, but soon after that we were riding west along the beach trail by the ocean, which was great; this section of the course was what I thought a ride through California should be.

Panorama of the ocean as we rode along the beach.
(Note Rincon Island in the background.)

We were nine miles into the ride and cruising nicely along the beach when I suddenly heard a "Klank! Klank! Klank!" from immediately behind me. My initial thought was that something had fallen off my bicycle, but then I realized that the sound was coming from my rear wheel. I pulled to a stop, and after a quick examination I determined that my bike had broken a spoke. I have no idea how it happened; I didn't ride over anything like a branch which could get tangled up in my spokes - apparently it just snapped. It took me a few minutes of wrangling to bend the broken spoke into a position which would allow me to extricate it from my wheel, but I eventually managed to wrench it out and we quickly got back on the road. (Although I could hear the spoke nipple rattling around inside my rim for the rest of the ride.)

Kevin and I passing a photographer at 7:30am.
(Note that this single photo represents the only
time that we saw photographer during the ride.)

We were a little over an hour and 15 miles into the ride when we reached our first stop of the day, which was at Rincon Beach Park. After a quick ten-minute break to refill our water bottles, Kevin and I got back on the road.

Kevin posing behind my bike.
Displaying my usual "hang ten" pose.

Our route took us north and inland as we left Rincon Beach Park, which kept us away from the water for the next eight miles or so. Over the next mile or so we faced our first climbs of the day, which were relatively short and nothing too difficult to worry about. After a few climbs and descents, we were mostly riding downhill as we rode to the west for the next few miles.

That being said, before the ride I studied the profile on the Ride with GPS website, which the ride organizers were kind enough to share online. With that in mind, I knew that we were rapidly approaching the most-difficult climbs for the day. Apparently I was not the only cyclist to have studied the course in advance, because shortly after we passed the 25-mile mark we faced the first serious climb and several cyclists loudly remarked, "Oh - this is the hill."

Route Map and Elevation Profile for the Century Ride.

I'll be honest - this climb was moderately difficult, and thankfully it only lasted for a couple of miles or so. At one point or other, both Kevin's and my bicycles threw their chains when shifting from the large chain ring to the small chain ring, which was exceedingly frustrating. Thankfully each of us was wearing black shorts for the ride, because black shorts always afford a great place to wipe off all the bicycle grease from your hands once you have reseated your chain. (See #14 and #8 and  in The Rules.) I should mention that one of the times when Kevin's bike threw its chain during a climb, Kevin did a masterful job of avoiding having to fall down with the bike. Many other people (including me) probably wouldn't have been able to prevent the fall, and several nearby riders remarked, "Nice save!"

After we had reached the summit for this set of climbs, we were treated to three miles or so of downhill riding, which was a great change of pace. Unfortunately, I knew that these few moments of physical respite would be brief; having studied the ride profile, I knew that the next part of the course was going to be the most-difficult segment of the ride.

One we had descended back to sea level and rode west along the ocean for a half-mile or so, we turned inland again and began a one-mile climb to the north and our second stop of the day at the 31-mile point around 9:00am in Manning Park. This stop is actually situated during the difficult part of the ride, so it's well-located for cyclists because it gives them a moment to rest up before tackling the really challenging climbs ahead.

Scores of cyclists in Manning Park.
Resting my bike near the park fence.
Refueling and bicycle maintenance stations.

While Kevin and I were taking a break, we both refilled our water bottles, and I quickly ate a half a banana (for the potassium), a half-sandwich (for the carbs and protein), and a cookie (for the sugar). After a little over a half hour, we were sufficiently rested and refueled, so we climbed back on our bicycles and rode off to the north and into the toughest part of the course.

For the next two miles we faced steep climbs which ascended several hundred feet into the hills above Santa Barbara, where we slogged our way through neighborhoods filled with luxurious mansions overlooking the city. I will freely admit, the climbs were often steep, and they seemed to keep going on forever. We turned west as we continued to climb, and for the next eight miles it seemed that whenever we thought that we were finally beginning our descent we would round a corner and discover another climb was waiting for us.

This future site of somebody's mansion
will have an awesome view.
Posing for a useless photo.
Dozens of narrow, hairpin turns during the climbs.

I wear a heart rate monitor while I ride which is paired with my Garmin GPS, and occasionally it beeps at me when my heart rate is too high; e.g. over 170bpm. Usually I ignore it, because it's generally just a momentary spike in my pulse during a difficult moment or two, so eventually the beeping will go away on its own. But during this part of the ride it began beeping at me, and it wouldn't stop. After a few minutes I decided that it was best not to ignore it, so I told Kevin that I needed to pull over for a couple of minutes. As we pulled to the side of the road, my GPS showed that my hear rate was a little over 170bpm, but after five minutes' rest it came back down to 140bpm and we got back on the road. One other thing, I found it a little difficult to breathe during a few of the climbs, which I attributed to a lack of proper time to acclimate before starting this ride. (I had only arrived the day before, and I'm used to riding at an altitude that is 3,000 feet higher. When I rode in the Seattle to Portland ride a few weeks ago, I had a week to acclimate and enough time to get in a training ride.)

There is an old adage which states, "All Good Things Must Come to an End," and thankfully the same can be said about bad things. With that in mind, somewhere before we hit the 40-mile mark we had finally made it through the truly-difficult sections of the ride and we began our descent into Goleta. We encountered small climbs here and there over the next ten miles or so, but nothing as difficult as the major climbs which we had just completed. As we passed the 50-mile point of the ride, both Kevin and I had to suffer through some lower leg cramps, but nothing unbearable.

We pulled into our next stop at Stow Grove Park around 11:30am, which represented the mid-way point for the ride at 51-miles. Kevin and I refilled our water bottles, then we headed over to the dining area to grab some lunch. Once again I had a half-sandwich (for carbs and protein), a half a banana (for potassium), and few cookies (for sugar).

Resting my bike against a railing.
Picking up lunch.
Simple fare for simple minds.
Cookies and fruit!!!
More cookies!!!

During lunch Kevin and I were seated across a table from three ladies, and I made several jokes with everyone about classic songs that I had been rewriting in my head during the day's ride:

  • Sung to the tune of "Safety Dance":
    "We can pass if you want to,
    We can leave your friends behind.
    'Cause your friends can't climb, and if they can't climb -
    Well they're no friends of mine."
  • Sung to the tune of "Hotel California":
    "Welcome to the Cool Breeze California,
    Such a tiring race, such a grueling pace.
    You'll question your mind at the Cool Breeze California:
    I'm no competitor; why'd I register?"
  • Sung to the tune of "Margaritaville":
    "Climbing the hills again in California,
    Wondering why I'm still here at all.
    Some people say that there's a friend I can blame,
    But I know - it's my own dang fault."

My re-written version of "Margaritaville" drew an especially large chuckle from everyone, because I followed that up by mentioning how the pain of endurance riding passes over time, and then next thing you know you're inviting people along with you for your next excursion by saying things like, "Hey - you should sign up for this century ride with me; it's going to be lots of fun." At which point two of the ladies quickly turned and pointed at the other member of their party, who responded, "Yup - I'm the guilty one in our group."

After a 50-minute break Kevin and I headed back to our bicycles. As we prepped our gear for the next half of the ride, I met a cyclist who was wearing a jersey from the Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) randonneuring ride, which is a 1200-kilometer (≈745-mile) endurance ride in France. (Which - by way of coincidence - was starting this same weekend.) The two of us chatted for a couple of minutes, and he admitted that he had ridden the PBP four times, but he was now too old to survive riding 250 miles a day for three days (with only four hours of sleep per day). I admitted that I was probably never young enough to have survived the ride.

As we left Stow Grove Park, our route had us backtrack to the east for three miles or so before zig-zagging for the next few miles in a mostly-southern direction through Hope Ranch towards the ocean.

The view of the ocean from the southern end of Hope Ranch.

For the next three or four miles we rode eastward and parallel to the beach, although much of that riding was through residential areas so we only saw the water occasionally. (That being said, a lot of the mansions which we were riding past were pretty amazing; it must be nice to be that rich, but couldn't that opulent wealth be better spent? [Deep sigh.])

As we rode into downtown Santa Barbara, we turned toward the ocean again, and we cycled along the water past a series of beaches, parks, and marinas. As we passed the entrance to Santa Barbara Harbor, Kevin suddenly had a flat. The two of us worked on the flat, and we managed to get it sorted out in a few minutes. (I was obviously taking photos at the time, but I actually helped Kevin fix his flat. Seriously. I really did. I promise.)

Santa Barbara Harbor was pretty nice.
Fixing a flat. No fun.
The beach near Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf.

After we got back on the road, we passed the ladies with whom we had met during lunch earlier in the day. As we pulled up to a stoplight, I mentioned that we had stopped to fix a flat, and I asked why they hadn't stopped to help us out; to which one of them replied humorously that it was every man and woman for themselves. As we approached another stoplight a short time later, some @#$% motorist unnecessarily blocked the bicycle lane even though the light was green, thereby causing all of us cyclists to quickly pull to a stop in order to avoid an accident. One of the ladies issued an appropriate expletive at the clueless driver, and I remarked that I completely agreed with her assessment of the situation. She replied by asking if I had a song in mind which expressed that sentiment, and I said that I could put anything to music - even that.

We rode east along the water for another three miles before turning inland to the north. After another two miles of riding and a short climb we arrived back at Manning Park around 2:30pm. This park had been our second stop of the day, and I thought that it was pretty ingenious that the ride's organizers had managed to arrange the ride in order as to recycle some of the stops. (Great logistics.) We refilled our water bottles and ate a few snacks, and then Kevin took advantage of the bicycle repair facilities to make sure that his tube repair was sufficient for continuing the ride. (The guy was able to discover a couple of places where the bead for Kevin's tire had not been seated completely, and he was able to fix that.)

Back at Manning Park.
Pausing to refuel for the next segment of the ride.
Kevin having his bike checked out.
(That's just good sense.)

We got back on the road after the bike technician had signed off on Kevin's bike, where we continued to ride east and parallel to the beach for several miles. We started our final climb somewhere around the 80-mile mark, but to be honest it wasn't much of a climb. That being said, my bicycle decided to throw it's @#$% chain again, so we had to stop for me to fix it again.

The accumulated filth on my fingers.
(And this was after wiping them off on my shorts.)

Nevertheless, my chain was an easy fix, and we were quickly back on the road. After a couple of miles we ran into a brief moment of confusion with a small gaggle of cyclists about whether our route really meant to take us onto the highway, which it did. Once we had ridden a few hundred meters, we had arrived back at Rincon Beach Park around 3:50pm, which was our final stop for the day at mile 82. (You may recall that Rincon Beach Park had been our first stop of the day, so once again the ride's organizers had managed to recycle one of the stops.)

The view from Rincon Beach Park.
Good to know.

The main claim to fame for riders who make it to the final stop at Rincon Beach Park is - popsicles. I had heard about this feature before we started the ride, and I must admit - an ice-cold popsicle tastes pretty good after a long day of cycling.

Popsicle Power!
Posing with our popsicles.

After a 25-minute stop to rest and recharge, Kevin and I climbed back on our bicycles for the last segment of the ride. The next 12 miles had us riding along the beach again, which was great. At some point about ten miles from the end of the ride I changed cycling techniques so that I was only pulling up on the pedals. I do this occasionally in order to allow some of the muscles in my lower legs a brief respite from my normal riding, but on this occasion my change in technique was met with a sudden and sharp cramp in my inner right thigh. This was painful enough for me to loudly and angrily remark, "Oh crap!", and I drifted off to the right side of the bike lane as I desperately tried to stretch out the affected muscles while still riding. Kevin overhead my exclamation and asked if everything was okay, and I responded that I would be fine in a moment or two. I eventually managed to work my way through the pain, but still... that really hurt.

Shortly after we hit the 94-mile point we turned northward into Ventura as we retraced the 2.5-mile route which had started the day's ride. As we approached the Ventura Unified School District offices where the finish line was located, a cycling couple quickly pulled off the bike path several hundred meters from the end of the route. As Kevin and I rode past I remarked, "You can't quit now!" However, after Kevin and I had ridden few hundred meters further, my Garmin GPS showed that we were going to reach the finish line after having ridden only 97 miles, so I told Kevin that we needed to pull to the side.

I mentioned that if we crossed the finish line, we weren't going to make 100 miles; however, we both wanted to officially claim this as a "Century Ride," which means that we needed to add three miles to the length. I proposed that we create a quick loop through Ventura and Kevin agreed, so we bypassed the finish line and headed off into areas of Ventura which weren't on the scheduled route. After a little over a mile we merged back onto the official course, and as we headed toward the finish line I remarked that we were still going to be short by a little less than half a mile, so we bypassed the finish line and rode off in a different direction. As we approached the point where I wanted us to turn around, we bumped into the cycling couple which we had seen earlier, and I remarked to them, "Oh - now I get it; you two wanted your official century ride, too!" They both laughed and said that yes - that's why they had bypassed the finish line, too.

As Kevin and I rode back toward the finish line, I could see that we were just going to make it, and as we pulled to a stop past the finish line my GPS showed that we had just crossed the century mark.

One hundred miles!

Once we had crossed the finish line, we rode over to my car, where we loaded all of our combined gear into the back and locked up our bikes on the bike carrier.

Post-ride selfie before heading home.

After we had all of our things stowed in the car, Kevin and I dropped by the registration area to take advantage of the dinner which was provided, then the two of us hopped in the car and drove back to Kevin's house for the night.

Ride Stats:

  • Primary Statistics:
    • Start Time: 6:35am
    • Distance: 100 miles
    • Duration: 7:09:34
    • Calories Burned: 3,892 kcal
    • Altitude Gain: 4,724 feet
  • Speed:
    • Average Speed: 14.0 mph
    • Peak Speed: 30.3 mph
    • Average Cadence: 80.0 rpm
  • Temperature:
    • Average: 73.6 F
    • Minimum: 55.4 F
    • Maximum: 104.0 F
      (This is according to my GPS, but I find that hard to believe.)
  • Heart Rate:
    • Average: 148 bpm
    • Maximum: 181 bpm

Epilogue and Miscellaneous Parting Thoughts

As I had done for my Seattle to Portland ride notes, I had jotted several things down which didn't necessarily apply to any part of the ride, so I thought that I would add a special section to this blog in order to share them.

  • Based on advertising, I thought this ride was going to be peaceful cruise along the water with the cool breeze at our backs, but it was seldom like that. I realized from looking at the ride profile that the climbs were going to take us inland for several miles so I expected that, but what was unexpected (and somewhat disappointing) was that we sometimes rode parallel to the ocean for several miles without actually being able to see the water.
  • We rode through Santa Barbara for quite a while, yet I never saw Gus or Shawn. But then again, I guess that they live in San Francisco now. (Inside joke.)
  • It was rather warm during parts of the ride; as a result, several of the locals and some others complained, but the temperature was not bad for me.
  • We completed this ride at a considerably slower pace than my normal rides, and somewhat slower than my previous century rides. But Kevin and I had agreed to take this ride at a comfortable pace; I specifically did not want to feel like I was racing a clock (which I normally do), and as a result the ride was more enjoyable [sic] than normal.
  • Despite the advertised length of 102 miles with 4,000 feet of climb, the Ride with GPS website lists the length of this ride at 97 miles with a little over 5,000 feet of climb. That being said, my GPS agreed that the length of the ride was 97 miles, although my GPS said that the final altitude gain was closer to 4,700 feet. In either case, I think the CIBC guys were pretty far off.
  • The fact that almost all of the difficult climbs were relegated to one segment of the course was a mixed blessing; it was nice to ride for dozens of miles over long, flat stretches of road, but the hours of actual climbing were exceptionally arduous since the bulk of the elevation gains were all in one small segment.
  • As I mentioned in the notes, my bike threw its chain a few times during this ride. However, I managed to catch it quickly each time, so I avoided wiping out. After some experimentation, I determined that the problem seems to be when I am shifting chain rings at a high RPM; when I consciously slowed my cadence I was able to avoid throwing my chain. (But still - my bicycle should not be throwing the chain like that.)
  • I had overlooked one unfortunate side effect of driving ten hours on the day before the ride: I had predominately used my right arm while driving cross country, and it was hurting by the time that I arrived in Ventura. Even though I took some Advil and tried to relax my arm during the night before the ride, I could still feel my right arm hurting during the ride as a direct result of the previous day's drive.
  • I purchased a new saddle a couple of weeks before this ride, and I had not completely broken it in; so my derriere was understandably a little sore by the end of the ride. It was fine by the next day as I drove home, but still - I can honestly say that this ride was literally a pain in the... butt.
Posted: Aug 15 2015, 23:53 by bob | Comments (0)
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Ride Notes for July 22nd, 2015

Today was a fun day of mountain biking with family members, at least for a little while. Here's the scoop: my wife's relatives were hosting a family reunion at the Tanque Verde Ranch at the base of the Rincon Mountains, (which is an awesome place), and one of the activities available to guests was an hour of Mountain Biking.

2015-07-22

There were four of us who decided to go mountain biking today: my brother-in-law, Mike, and I are both road cyclists, so mountain biking sounded like it would be a little different from our usual routines; one of my nephews, Nate, likes to go mountain biking when he's back home in Washington state; and my son-in-law, Curt, is a fan of a myriad of outdoor activities (namely surfing).

We showed up at the cycling office at the ranch around 6:45am and met with Chuck, who was to be our guide for the day. After some basic fitting of cyclists to full-suspension mountain bike frames, we took off around 7:00am. Chuck took us through some easy trails at first to get everyone acclimated to their bicycles, then he navigated the group to a small track which the ranch has created on its property. The track is a small oval with lots of bumps and high-berm corners. Chuck had each of us make several passes around the track to get used to working with the full-suspension systems on the bicycles, and then we headed off into the desert.

Our route primarily consisted of extremely narrow paths between rows of cacti and other pointy plants, which kept everyone on their toes. At one point I had to mention to Curt that he shouldn't brush up against the cholla cactus, because they have a tendency to break off and painfully attach themselves to people. We also traversed a lot of small hills, and Chuck took us to one particular hill where everyone could jump off and get a little air under their bicycle.

After riding around for a while Chuck asked if we'd like to go on the harder trails, and everyone agreed; sometime around that decision the injuries started to happen:

The first mishap was when Curt flipped his bike trying to cross a small wash. (Note: Curt was wearing his GoPro camera at the time and managed to get that on video.)

The later mishap occurred when we were climbing a hill over some rocks, and my left leg slipped off the pedal. Since I was pushing hard with my legs to climb the hill and over the rocks, this meant that I had nothing to slow the speed of my right leg as it pushed down hard on the remaining pedal, which spun the empty pedal around and smashed broad-faced into my left shin at full force. This hurt more than you can possibly imagine; I went from a 0 to 10 on the pain scale instantaneously, and I immediately formed two golf-ball-sized welts on my shin where the pedal collided with the bone. I quickly pulled to a halt, exclaimed something a little more dire than "Oh Crap," and it took me a couple of minutes to get myself together.

I walked my bike to where the rest of group was waiting and announced, "I'm done for the day." I explained what had happened, and by now the contusions on my leg were so large that everyone else thought that I had broken my leg, and the swollen areas were the bone jutting out. I assured everyone that my leg wasn't broken because I could put weight on it, but I didn't want to risk injuring it again, so my day of cycling was over.

We walked our bikes toward the ranch for a little bit, which was out of courtesy for me, but I informed everyone that it would be easier for me to ride than to walk. With that in mind, we boarded our bicycles and headed back to the shop at the ranch. Once we arrived, Chuck brought me a bag of ice and a crash kit, and I started to ice the swelling on my leg.

The following photo shows my injuries (on the left) and Curt's injuries (on the right); unfortunately the photo is from the front of my leg, so you can't see how high the swelling was at this point - all you can see are light shadows.

WP_20150722_08_34_45_Pro.edited.cropped

Once we had returned our bikes to the shop, we met the rest of the family for breakfast, where my wife - the nurse - took one look at me and asked something like, "So, where did you hurt yourself this time?" After breakfast I headed back to our room, and after a couple hours of icing my injuries the swelling had disappeared; all that remained was a nagging pain in my left leg when I walked.

All that being said, despite the injuries it was a fun time. And my injury serves to illustrate why riders should clip in when mountain biking.

Ride Stats:

  • Primary Statistics:
    • Start Time: 7:00am
    • Distance: 7.8 miles
    • Duration: 1:03:57
    • Calories Burned: 490 kcal
    • Altitude Gain: 182 feet
  • Speed:
    • Average Speed: 7.3 mph
    • Peak Speed: 19.7 mph
  • Temperature:
    • Average: 85.4 F
    • Minimum: 78.8 F
    • Maximum: 87.8 F
  • Heart Rate:
    • Average: 133 bpm
    • Maximum: 163 bpm
Posted: Jul 22 2015, 17:22 by bob | Comments (0)
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