Sunday, October 30, 2005

Noodly Appendage, Hon.

According to Are you effing kidding me, this sign is in Hampden. The image is lifted from bosconet.

More on the Noodly Master.

Bike Ride Report - Fall Foliage Populaire

Yesterday I rode the DC Randonneurs' 161k Fall Foliage Populaire. 6900' of climb. Several 15% grades according to DeLorme. Temps in the 30s and 40s. Headwinds. It was great!

When the sun rose over the Super 8 in Middletown VA, it was pretty darn cold, but no frost.

I slept in the Big OE, around the corner in the parking lot of some sort of educational facility. Despite the cold, I was pretty cozy in the Element. In fact, I overslept, and didn't wake up until 7:10. I had to get dressed and over to the Super 8 before check-in ended at 7:30. I just made it, but I was 20 minutes late getting on the road.

This was a great route. It went up Fort Valley, then over Edinburg Gap (a brutal climb). Then it goes in a loop south in the Shenandoah valley to Mount Jackson and back north again. You climb over Little North Mountain through Fetzer Gap (brutal climb) and then down the other side to the microscopic town of Zepp. This is in some very obscure valley in the west side of the top of Virginia. The terrain is pretty rough, with lots of short, steep climbs. Here is the control in the valley of obscurity, the Star Market in the town of Star Tannery, VA.

The fall colors were not so great around here, but were pretty nice in Fort Valley, when I was on a mission and not taking any pictures.

Here's the map, plotted with my Garmin GPS and uploaded into DeLorme Topo USA. Click to make it bigger. The Garmin reported 7800' of climb vs. 6900' for the heart rate monitor. This took 7:30 pedaling, and was 101 miles. Way cool. Way hard.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Who says recumbents can't climb? State Line Century.

It was brutal. 100 miles. 8100 feet of climb.

It was a DC Randonneurs' training ride. The "State Line Century". Starting in Frederick, it went up Catoctin Hollow road, and then over the mountain on MD 77. Here's the intersection. This was one of the easier climbs.

Then it was along the mountain to Cascade MD, and a totally gratuitous climb up to High Rock . The plan was to go to the top of Quirauk Mountain, but the nice "US Police" with the assault rifles turned everyone back. There are antennas up there. Some Googling turns up this link, which may suggest what the issue is that requires the presence of assault rifles.

Here is a picture from the top of High Rock, looking north.

I hauled the bike up to the rock, to discover my camera batteries were dead! That's after a 3 mile climb up a grade of 8-10%! A super nice guy up there enjoying the view with his girlfriend gave me some new batteries and took my picture. I am totally greatful.

Lunch was in State Line, PA, north of Hagerstown, at mile 54. It was pretty easy going to Cavetown, MD, but then there is a big climb over South Mountain. And finally, the crusher, at mile 88, the incredible Crow Rock Road, which has about a half mile that is over 10% with a little bit around 15%, and then another similar stretch on Highland School Road. This puts you on top of the mountain overlooking Frederick.

I was not speedy on this ride. I was under 3 mph up the 15% grades. The whole thing took 8 1/2 hours pedaling, for an average speed of 11.5 mph.

I did get to test out some new gear. I splurged on a new Patagonia Figure 4 soft shell, which was fantastic. The temperature varied from the 40s to about 70, and with all the climbing you sweat a lot and then have the cold wind on the downhill. The new shell, with a Patagonia fleece pullover and base layer underneath, wicked all the sweat away, and I was pretty much warm and dry the whole way.

I've also just bought a GPS Mapping Device. Garmin e-Trex Vista C. It has an altimeter. I figured out how to transfer the track to Delorme TopoUSA, which makes much nicer maps than the Garmin USA Topo map. The GPS thing was dead accurate on time and distance when compared with my trip computer. I think I messed up the altitude calibration when I started, so the climb recorded by the GPS was way off (2000' high) compared with the trip computer, which measured 8100'. Another rider measured 8300'. This was a great ride, fabulous scenery, but good grief that's a lot of climbing. I barely made it in before dark.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Invitation to Naughtyness - Custom US Postal Stamps

I see on the Yahoo home page that you can order official US Post Office stamps with the picture of your choice on them.

Now we know you are not allowed to send obscene material through the mail. But what if the stamp was obscene? What if you had a custom stamp made with, let's say, a picture of your penis?

Do you think that anyone checks the submitted photos? How closely do you think they check? What is the most obnoxious thing that you could slip by?

What would happen if you tried to get non-obscene images put on the stamp that were obnoxious and political? Say, like this one:

Or let's say you photoshopped up a picture of George W. Bush lighting a cross with some Klansmen.

Or George W. Bush dressed as a Nazi.

Or George W. Bush abusing some prisoners in Iraq.

I see a lot of work for the ACLU in the near future. I wonder what the USPS was thinking.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Squirrel 1 Monkey the Whippet 0

Monkey the Naughty Boy almost caught a squirrel this morning.There has been a natural selection type effect at work for the last couple years. He hasn't come close to a squirrel for many months. But today, there was a squirrel way out in the open, far from any tree. Monkey was right on it. He charged the squirrel, but he didn't over commit himself, he slowed down when he got close so he could see which way the squirrel was going to run.

The squirrel feinted, and then broke for the tree. It had no chance. Monkey was on top of it about five feet from the tree.

The squirrel stopped! Monkey ran right over the squirrel, and SMACK into the tree! He bounced off the tree, and tumbled in the grass. The squirrel bolted up the tree to safety.

Monkey limped around a little bit, but the only injury was to his pride, as you can see in the picture. If you look close, you will see his wrists have grass stains.

eBay Success! No more Altima

The Al-TEE-ma is gone, bought by a guy named Farhad for $3101.

Farhad was super nice. We dropped the car off for him at a gas station where he appears to work on Annapolis Road by the city line. He seemed delighted with the Altima-it seems he had exactly the same car, down to the replacement battery and the dinged-up bumpers and 97000 miles, and his was totalled a couple weeks ago. He couldn't believe his luck to find an identical car on eBay. He was so happy, I felt bad about saying unkind things about the car in the description. I hope it runs forever for him.

He apologized for not coming by to look at it after the Ravens game Sunday, he said he was out on the bay and "we started getting hit by rocks". Debra and I were appalled that somebody was throwing rocks at him. He explained he meant the rockfish were biting. I gave him good eBay feedback.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bike Ride Report - DC Randonneurs Spinning Wheels 161k Populaire

Yesterday I rode the DC Randonneurs Spinning Wheels Populaire. It was 100 miles. I felt good at the end, even though there were monstrous climbs and headwinds.

It started in Thurmont. As usual, I drove out Friday night and slept in the back on the Element with the bike.

Away we go, just before 8:00 am.

The route heads north from Thurmont to Sabillasville on MD 550. This road follows a creek up into the mountains. There were a pair of ravens croaking at us along the way, and a dead fox on the side of the road. I didn't know there were ravens this far east, although I've seen them at Snicker's Gap in Virginia before.

In Pennsylvania, it's all rural, old towns. We went over this covered bridge south of Fairfield.

I stopped at the Round Barn. Inside it is a country gift shop with lots of preserves and gew-gaws.

Out back, there is a porta-potty, next to the goat shed.

Here's the map with elevation. The second half was pretty easy, but there was a monster climb about 30 miles in where I had to visit grandma.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yet another politics quiz to rate yourself

I found it on another blog. Here's my result:

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(71% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Intelligent design?

Harold Hill, the Music Man, decides he's got to create a moral crisis in River City, so he sings:

"Well, either you're closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge or you are not aware of the calibur of disaster indacated by the presence of a pool table in your community."

From the "family values crowd, who've taken a break from rescuing the institution of marriage from gays, while invading Terri Schiavo's husband's right make decisions for his wife, we get the quest to teach "intelligent design" in the public schools.

It's not teaching religion, we're told. No, we're just going to tell children that all the puzzle pieces of nature fit together so well that this harmony must have resulted from "intelligent design." Sounds pretty nice. It's not God creating the world, it's just "intelligent design." Has a nice ring to it.

To me, the greatest evidence against "intelligent design" is that God created people who really think they can just slip this by the rest of us, without us figuring out that there can be no "intelligent design" without an "intelligent designer." And that gets us back to what this really is, an effort to teach religion to public school students. Put a new label on a bottle of wine, and it still tastes the same.

More to the point of the "intelligence" behind the people who "designed" this creationism pitch is the assumption that there is some reason we, as a society, must teach religion to public school students. How ironic is it that the people who profess the power of God the loudest have no faith in his abiltiy to reach us, unless taxpayer dollars are used to broadcast his message.

And while we're on the subject, can someone explain why we need the 10 Commandments or Manger scenes on public property? I'm looking for the "intelligent design" behind installing a several ton statue of the Commandmnents in the Alabama courthouse? Was there a single criminal who saw it, slapped his forehead, and exclaimed "if only I'd known there was a commandment against murder or theft!"

Truth be told, the "design" behind these faith based initiatives is to earn God's favor. On judgment day, the "intelligents" would have us believe, we've got a better shot at salvation because the dollars we sent to televangelists say "in God we trust." Or maybe the divine will be more likely to "bless" us while we are alive, because we make our children pledge that we are "one nation under God."

Why I will probably not make it the promised land designed by these intelligent so called Christians is because my God is not so easily fooled. He knows what's in my heart and my soul, and he judges me by my deeds - and not by how many times I see Mel Gibson's movie. And he's not really fond of people who have God Bless our Troops stikers on their car, since "not killing people" is one of his commandments. So is turning the other cheek. He sent a someone named Jesus Christ to tell us all this. Faith means more than just head nodding. It means taking a punch, with the "faith" that God's not happy when you fight back.

My hope is that one day the spell of these religious music men will wear off, and the "faithful" will read the Bible they've heard so often thumped. Not only will they discovery that their emperors have no clothes, but God's truly "intelligent design" will be made known to them - we can all live in peace. - we just chose not to.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Hot Car on eBay!

I've put Debra's old Altima (we pronounce it Ael-TEE-ma) up for auction on eBay.

Check it out. I hope the description does it justice.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bike Ride Report - Seagull Century

I rode the Seagull Century yesterday. I didn't see one seagull. I think they drowned. By the time I was done, I was about drowned too.

It rained continuously non-stop the whole time. There were stiff headwinds the whole way, too.
It wasn't at all cold, though, it was mid seventies, kind of balmy. It was like swimming.

Here is the Element section of the parking lot. Debra's in front, and another guy with a blue one in the back.

The guy with the blue one says he didn't sleep in it. But for me, the Element gets more like home every week.

I was going to camp at the Salvation Army with Debra and some of our friends, but they bagged it due to the weather forecast. So it was just me camping in the Seagull parking lot in the cozy Big OE.

Crisis! Before I even started, I discovered my front brake lever was cracked! Where it clamps on the handlebar. It was flopping around all over.

Luckily for me, the repair stand was already set up at 7:30, and the guy in charge made a quick dash back to the store to get me a new brake lever.

What a lifesaver. I had the (lousy) breakfast in the Salisbury U. dining hall, and was underway just before 8:30. I wasn't in a big hurry, I was naively hoping that maybe the rain would let up if I waited a bit. Right.

Here's the scene at the first rest stop, at Pokomoke State Park. This was just over 20 miles in.

At about 65 miles, you get to Asseteague State Park, on the beach, where the wild ponies frolic. I saw one, he was standing by the entrance bedraggled and sullen looking. I didn't take a picture. This is the rest stop, where people throw their bikes on the ground and hide under the tent and eat a banana.

I always find a fence to lean my bike against.

I took a little break and walked to the top of the dune. Pretty rough surf today. The wind is blowning about 25 mph from the southeast.

This dude is cheating. He's missing the special experience of riding into the stiff wind with the rain coming down hard and stinging through your rain jacket.

I pretty much hammered the whole thing. I have a dream that someday I will ride a century in less than 5 hours. That dream was not for this day. It took me 5:23 rolling, and just under six hours on the clock. Average speed 18.5 mph.

Which was exactly the same time as last year. Last year was the Reynolds Weld Lab Dual 26 T-Bone. This year was the Cobrabikes Royale. The conditions were considerably worse this year, so maybe I am showing some improvement.