Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Strava Heat Map

I just spent an hour inhaling the new online map from Strava. It plots aggregated route data from their users, showing the most popular bike routes in brighter colors.

 It's amazingly accurate. I know because I spotted a discontinuity just north of Stedman, NC. I quickly recognized it as the long driveway into a Marathon convenience store, very popular with RUSA riders and local roadies. I've ridden this exact little detour countless times.

Here's a live map centered on the Stedman Marathon:     http://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#15/-78.69499/35.05709/blue/bike  Click the Google Street View icon to see from a rider's perspective.  Then zoom way back to find your own locations.

Enjoy this amazing resource for route planning.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Stand-up desks

I have used a stand-up desk at my office job for more than 20 years.  Compared to sitting, I feel more energetic, have better posture, and my back hurts less.  And I give much better speeches during conference calls when I am standing.

My advice to newbies:

Start gradually.  Let your body adjust.

Height matters.  Try different keyboard and screen heights to suit your wrists and neck.  Try all your different-height footwear.

Furniture doesn't matter.  Start with boxes, shelves, whatever.  Confirm you like it, then buy or build furniture.

Move.  You can get tense and cramped while standing just as easily as sitting.  Try these:

  • Shift your weight, move your legs, raise your head to people-watch.  
  • Intentionally store some stuff you need *behind* you, to force movement. 
Don't just stand.
  • Raise one foot on a footstool or a box.  Alternate feet.  
  • Kneel one leg on a bar stool.  Swivel your leg mindlessly.  Alternate legs.  (Don't sit on it, kneel!)

Be reasonable.  Stand only as long as it feels good.  Alternate sitting.

Be smart.  Always invite your boss to sit when she visits.

And most importantly:

Try it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Rando complete

Jayjay and I finished our R-60 continuous streak today.  That means we rode at least one 200km (124 miles) bike ride every consecutive month, for the past five years.

- I never thought we would ride one 200K.

- Then I thought we would never complete our first R-12.

- And now we finished R-60.  It's sticker time!

Many thanks to Dean and all the route owners for preparing cards, processing our results, and making this all possible over five years.  And thanks to my wife for the balloons and schwag today.

Enjoy photos of some interesting scenes today, as well as boring checkpoint photos: Photos  

But enough is enough.  It's been fun, and I am satisfied.  I never bought a good bike because I didn't think my interest would last long enough.  I don't train.  I haven't done any bike-commuting or riding for fun in many months.  And I am posting this here to help ensure I stop the streak.  Watch this space...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Perfect Planning

Imagine riding a RUSA 200K on a Sunday early in February.  Imagine unseasonably mild beautiful weather. Imagine all the dogs are friendly and all the motorists polite. Imagine chatting with your partner as you cruise slowly through the great outdoors from one checkpoint to another without a care in the world, never once checking your perm cards or arrival times during the first 86 miles.

And then imagine arriving at the next checkpoint, and wondering why the luncheon grille is closed early.  Imagine finally looking at your perm card and receipts and realizing you arrived only one minute before checkpoint closing time. And then looking back and seeing you arrived at the previous checkpoint only seven minutes before closing.

At first you might think this is bad, but no...

This is perfect planning, I say. Absolutely perfect planning!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trees and limbs, power trucks, and mud

Bad storms with high winds blew through the area yesterday.  You may have seen a newsclip of a building under construction near Raleigh getting blown down by the wind:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t9MpNTSbYg

I rode the RUSA Carthage Coffee Run 200k  permanent in central North Carolina today.  Between the towns of New Hill and Sanford (about 20 miles), the storm had wreaked havoc with trees and power lines.  The shoulders and sides of roads were all littered with tree trunks, limbs, boughs, pine cones, and other detritus.  Car lanes were mostly clear, but there was a well-defined line along the side where cars had pushed the branches and limbs off to the side, to the space where I usually ride.  Nuisance.

An army of electric power company trucks were everywhere.  In the pre-dawn darkness, their yellow blinkies and klieg lights looked like alien space ships.  One truck paced me from behind, apparently looking for an address.  It eventually pulled into a church parking lot.  Being Sunday morning, I'm sure the power company got a call.

When I got to the perm checkpoint in the area, it was closed.  The outdoor signs were dark, gas pumps were dark, only a few lights were on inside, and there was no sign of life.

On my return trip, I passed perhaps 30 trucks lined up in an empty parking lot, probably staged for their next assignments.  I'm sure the scene was repeated throughout the county.

Despite an abundance of dog chases, and some sloppy mud on the American Tobacco Trail on my return trip (in the gravel section in Wake County), the ride was great.

Click on the thumbnail to see my feet as I laid down on my back at the turnaround checkpoint in Carthage.   Then enjoy the usual boring checkpoint photos here:  http://flic.kr/s/aHsjQyxtFh

Many thanks to route owner Branson for letting me ride on short notice.