Saturday, January 29, 2005

CTS Field Test

Today my training called for a "field test". This is essentially a check in point to see how your training is going and is used to help set parameters (mainly heart rate limits) for your upcoming training.

The test consists of two 3 mile time trials separated by a 10 minute break. Each 3 mile interval is an all out effort and is complete misery. Percentages of your average heart rate from the intervals are used to set the heartrate limits for your future workouts.

I wasn't expecting to do that well since I haven't been working the upper ends of my aerobic capacity over the winter. Boy was I surprised by the results. My average heartrate over the first 3 miles was 174. I managed 172 when I did this test in the fall. The second interval was the real surprise. While I only managed 169 last fall, I came in at 175 today. I have no idea how that happened, but it looks like I recover much better than I did last fall. I'm looking forward to see what my coach has to say about the results.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Exercise by driving?

The goverment recently changing the amount of recommended daily exercise to somewhere between 30 and 90 minutes (I think it was just 30 before). Given that people can't even get 30 in, I have no idea why someone would think they would do more. Well, I guess it's just a recommendation. You don't have to believe it will come true to recommend it. :)

Anyway, the usual slew of article on creative ways to add "exercise" to your life has followed this announcement. Of course, exercise is rarely defined and usually seems to mean something better than sitting on your ass.

An article I came across today was a real winner. The author suggests he doesn't have time in his busy day to hop on a treadmill and suggests ways to get in some exercise while shopping. A little extra time paying, a slightly longer walk from the car and the time will start to add up. The best recommendation was to actually take a longer route to the store since driving is apparently more active than sitting on your ass. Don't even get me started on this one.

So, take the few minutes here and there you add to your shopping trip and guess what? You could have gotten your ass on a treadmill and actually sustained an elevated heartrate that would have resulted in more than additional pollution. Damn are people lazy.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Staring out the office window

Staring out the office window

Friday, January 21, 2005

Customer Service

I've had the pleasure of dealing with the customer service departments of several companies lately. I'll bypass all the obvious material in this one and comment on the new voice enabled phone systems they all seem to have. Rather than punch numbers to navigate the menus, now you have to say the number, and pretty much everything else. I found this to be not only more time consuming, but a potential privacy problem as I rattled off various account numbers. Great. Do they really think this is better? Who did they study that was more productive with this system?

Now whenever I have to make call I have to go find an empty office so people don't overhear anything they shouldn't. Meanwhile, I'll listening for any interesting calls at the office with a notepad handy. :)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

New Bike

Due to an event which I'll post about soon I have been in the market for a new bike. Even though I'm partial to Cannondale I thought it might be wise to broaden my horizons. I looked at Trek, Jamis, Scott, Cervelo and others. What I noticed across all brands was that in the $3000 price range you can either get a carbon frame or high end components. I struggled with this decision. I've ridden aluminum for years and have no complaints, but then again I've never ridden carbon (or much else for that matter). Another factor that matters to me is where the frame is maufactured and how long the warranty is.

With these contraints in mind I was quickly back down to Cannondale and Trek as leading contenders (because their frames are both made in the US). Ultimately I decided to go with a Cannondale R5000. It is their top end aluminium frame with a full Dura-Ace group. Trek had a nice model with a carbon frame and full Ultegra 10 group, but it was quite a bit more money. The Cannondale was about $2600 and the Trek was $3200. I didn't think it was worth the extra cash for a carbon frame.

When the weather gets better around here I might actually take it for a ride. In the mean time, here are some pics:

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


What do you do when you meet a nasty dog while on your bike?

I haven't had many encounters with them. The occasional chase, but nothing of note. Last night was a bit different. Once again I was riding around a small lake during my ride home (also the site of my Creepy Night). The road around the lake is small and completely dark. It is a residential area, but the houses are set back enough that the road says virtually black. As I came up a small, steep incline a dog from the house I was approaching came tearing out and stopped at the end of his property, facing me. I stopped in my tracks. The dog was pretty large (could have done some damage) and was barking and growling. There was no way I could sprint past him because of the incline, and since he wasn't backing down at all, I just turned around and went a different way.

What would you have done in that situation?

Monday, January 10, 2005

Discovery Trek Madone has a nice writeup and some shots of the new colors for the Discovery Channel's Trek Madone.

Friday, January 07, 2005

CTS Update: 1/7/2005

It's been a while since I posted an update of my training with CTS, so here we go.

From October through December I was in a transition phase (the program is broken up into phases, each with different goals). My training was lighter it was generally pretty relaxing. Everything was eventful. I still rode a decent amount, but notably less than other times of the year (no complaints here!).

Now I've moved in to the foundation phase of training. The main goal for the next few months is to build up my aerobic endurance by putting in a lot of miles. When the racing season is a bit closer this will transition to more intense training and I'll start to work on race specific skills. My training is starting to pick up, peaking out at about 15 hours on the bike during 1 week this month, which doesn't include weight training sessions. Most of my rides are categorized as "EnduranceMiles". They tend to be on the longer side (1.5 - 4 hours) and have a max heartrate that gives me enough room for difficult climbs, but doesn't push me into my red zone. For me that heart rate is 156, but my average heart rate for these rides is usually significantly less.

The rides usually include some type of exercise to perform during the ride. Right now I'm mainly doing muscle building exercises on the bike (such as climbing a hill with a ridiculously hard gear). Again, these exercises will shift to the more traditional interval and other lactate threshold enhancing exercises when racing season nears.

So, that's where things stand. All I have to say is that I'm thankful for living in a relatively temperate climate where I can still ride outside several days per week in the middle of winter. I have no idea how people in cold climates do it. After an hour on the trainer I'm ready to go crazy.

The Future of Development

Herb Sutter has a very interesting new article which suggests that the free ride of faster processors we've been enjoying is about to end. He shows that CPU speeds are starting to plateau and that the future will be many processors on a single chip, which will require highly parallelized applications for maximum effect.

This will be very interesting. As it stands, serial programs are very difficult to reason about and understand. I'm not just referring to the code either, I believe that the way we document and test (mainly) serial systems is very rudimentary. Highly parallel applications add a significant amount of complexity to this. Hmm... time to start asking more concurrency questions in interviews. :)