Archive for the ‘Olympics / Sports’ Category

Ready to Ride!

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Well the Ride Ataxia weekend is coming up quickly. I got out for 40 miles on Saturday, so I’m as ready as I’m going to be.[1] In case you didn’t see the earlier post, I will be riding 50 miles on Sunday in the hilly Philadelphia suburbs to support FARA. Check out the route with elevation profile! The highest and lowest points on the loop are only separated by about 300 feet, but the total climbing is over 3000 feet, which is a lot of up and down.

If you want to support me and this great cause, there’s still time to donate! Please help if you can!

  1. I crossed the Cazenovia Hill Bender race, which was 39 miles in basically the same terrain, so I’m sort-of bummed I didn’t know about the event in advance! Something for next year. []

Oh yeah, I bought a bike.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

One area I had planned to mention, but completely failed to write about was the new[1] bike.

This process began back on Nate’s birthday when he received a “big boy bike”. Throughout the summer, he’s become more and more comfortable riding it. About a month ago he spotted my bicycle on the rack in the basement and asked if I wanted to ride my bike with him. I looked at the thick layer of dust on the frame and the crunchy rubber tires and said doubtfully, “Well, we can try.”

So a bit of background on this bike. This bike came to me as a gift from my parents when I was a teenager… a fairly young teenager. It was used when I got it, I’d estimate at least ten years. It is what today is referred to as a “vintage ten-speed”: massive steel tubing, utilitarian but robust equipment, standard flat pedals with the built-in yellow reflectors, friction lever shifters on the steering column and relatively wide hybrid tires.[2] This was a dream machine at that age. It was to a 14 year old what a cherry red mustang is to an 18 year old. Shiny painted freedom.

Over the high school years this bike underwent multiple upgrades, new shifters, a front and back generator driven light set,[3] a gel seat. It was completely stripped, overhauled and repainted with primer and sparkly metallic blue paint. This was my primary mode of personal transport[4] until after I graduated from high school. [5]

I don’t remember taking the bike to college, but when I reached graduate school it became a significant transport again. New tires, tuneups and the best maintenance no money could buy kept it in working trim. Hampton, VA, was far from a bike friendly environment, but I was in my early 20’s and cars didn’t scare me. That was 1997.

The bike has essentially sat idle since then with only a few rare exceptions.

So, I haul the battleship upstairs and hook up the compressor. I eye the tires warily as the cracks in the sidewalls expand revealing the weave inside… one holds… the other holds…

So we ride around the neighborhood and all seems well. Oh yes, the rims are so bent that the tires roll unevenly, the brakes pulse horribly… but we make it around and Nate is thrilled. A few days later we discover that one of the tubes has given up the ghost. No problem, I have a spare in my seat bag. Somehow, the spare is soft and supple. The installation goes relatively smoothly… except for the crumbling bits of tire which come off of the bead. We get another ride around the neighborhood. Now K and the kids go out of town, and I decide to use my after work freedom for a bike ride. I check the tires, saddle up and head out around the lake (about a 12 mile total ride). It’s all going rather well, although I’m noticing that the rear tire has begun to bulge in a worrisome way. Just before the awesome downhill reward… the tire starts losing pressure. I abuse the increasingly flattening tire all the way down the hill and it’s completely shredded by the time I reach the bottom. No problem, it’s only a two mile walk and the evening is still young. After some friends help me haul the old horse home, it’s clear I’ll be needing a new bike. Sure, new tires, wheels, brakes and possibly shifters and it could be a passable cruiser… but it’s so far past its prime and the gearing just isn’t high enough. [6]

So a scoop of Craigslist and a dash of research and I pick up a ~10 year old GT ZR-4000. It’s far from high end by road biking standards, but it’s in great shape with some add-ons: updated seat, clipless pedals and a bike computer. Bike shoes, cleats, Presta valve adapter and new helmet[7] later and I’m feeling like a teenager again. [8]

Yesterday morning ride: 27 hilly (1100 ft of variation) miles including two fairly brutal hill climbs. One is about a mile at 5% grade, the other is a mile at 7-8%.[9] The downhills were long and steady with one spot where I reached 45 mph.

Elevation profile from MapMyRun

  1. To me… []
  2. This was just how they came, I think the concept of mountain biking really hadn’t come into the mainstream yet when this bike was built. []
  3. I always wondered just how visible I was on those long hill climbs, but the light always seemed to reach as far as I needed it as a function of speed. []
  4. besides my parents []
  5. Yes, I drove the parents’ car, but that was never really mine. []
  6. I’m in high gear pretty much all the time. []
  7. Apparently you’re supposed to replace these periodically, mine was made in the previous century. []
  8. Well, at least in bicycle terms. []
  9. This is the hill on US-20 heading east into Cazenovia from the blinker at Oran-Delphi Road. []

4th of July 10 Mile

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

I one again survived the annual Cazenovia 10 mile foot race. Last year I ran with a painful but otherwise minor sprain in my leg; this year no injuries but didn’t feel like I had trained well enough.

Apparently, I trained well enough to beat my previous time! 1:18:56 for a 7:54 average mile pace. Woohoo!

My splits (and internal dialogs) were:

  1. 8:20 (I hate jockeying in the crowd.)
  2. 7:52 (Woah, slow down.)
  3. 7:56 (Settling in.)
  4. 8:15 (Apparently a little too much.)
  5. 7:59 (Push for the mid-race uphill.)
  6. 8:12 (Recovering… and hanging in.)
  7. 8:04 (Feeling good… keep it up.)
  8. 7:46 (Pushed through to the down hill.)
  9. 7:19 (Loving the down hill. 1 to go!)
  10. 7:08* (Whew!)

* I forgot to stop my watch right away, so this is the difference between the 7:27 split I recorded and the total race time.

I feel much better after the run than I did last year except the arch of my right foot feels pretty raw. I got a nasty hot spot at about mile 6. I haven’t taken off my shoe to look at the carnage yet. In any case, very happy with my results. I stuck to my plan of sustaining close to the 8 minute pace and catching up at the end.

Congrats Pens!

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Stanley Cup 2009
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins for their 2-1 win to take the cup back to PA.
This was one of the best series I’ve ever seen with great play, heart stopping opportunities and great high-pressure play. I was rooting for the Wings to come out on top, but the Pens fought for it and deserved it. I’m glad Crosby wasn’t seriously injured, but I worried that any Wings victory would be shallow with him on the bench. The Wings certainly had their chances, but you don’t win or lose a cup in one game, you have to win four.

I hope this doesn’t sound like being a poor loser, but I really wish playoff games, and especially finals games were officiated like the regular season. Sure it’s consistent for both teams, but the style of play changes from what the teams have been practicing all season. I’ve never understood the ‘let them play’ attitude in any sport. I certainly won’t say that officiating made the difference. I just don’t enjoy the way the game degrades to grab and block hockey. I certainly found the last few games less enjoyable (even the 5-0 win by the Wings) because of this. In my opinion the NHL has made huge strides with the rules changes against obstruction of all kinds to make the game faster and more open. To see the finals somehow lower than the standard of the regular season is frustrating.

Still, the Penguins got the win they deserved for good strong emotional play. I’m not concerned, the Wings will be back in the mix next year. There are some folks who may not be back,[1] but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Abdelkader, Leino and Helm bringing youth and playoff experience to the bench next year. The Pens are partying tonight, and a lot of Red Wings will be dreaming of a three foot thick crossbar or some other what-if. The only way to avoid a 7th game “what-if” is to make the opportunities in games 1-6. So Pens, enjoy your cup. Next year… maybe we’ll go for best out of three.

  1. I think Chris Chelios may finally hang up his skates. I wouldn’t be suprised to see him behind the bench some place instead of on it. []

Top 10 Shootout Goals

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

As seen on Digg, an EPSN top ten of shootout goals. Watch first, some serious dexterity there.

So as sweet as these are, I need a hockey expert to help me out. How are some of these shots legal?

So the official NHL rule book says in Rule 89 Tied Game:

b. (NEW for 2005-06) During regular season games, if the game remains tied at the end of the five (5) minute overtime period, the teams will proceed to a shootout. The rules governing the shootout shall be the same as those listed under Rule 30 – Penalty Shot.

Rule 30 Penalty Shot says:

a. Any infraction of the rules which calls for a “PENALTY SHOT” shall be taken as follows:

The Referee shall ask to have announced over the public address system the name of the player designated by him or selected by the Team entitled to take the shot (as appropriate). He shall then place the puck on the center face-off spot and the player taking the shot will, on the instruction of the Referee, play the puck from there and shall attempt to score on the goalkeeper. The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete. No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind (an exception being the puck off the goal post, then the goalkeeper and then directly into the goal), and any time the puck crosses the goal line, the shot shall be considered complete.

Only a player designated as a goalkeeper or alternate goalkeeper may defend against the penalty shot.

There are two things that confuse me. First, in number 4, the spin-o-rama shot. Unfortunately, ESPN has their stupid title bar right in the way, but it seems unlikely that in all of these shots the puck continued in its motion toward the goal. When the player stops at the crease (otherwise there would be a crease violation), the motion of the stick would seem to swing an arc away from the goal then back into the side of the net. Thoughts?

The second is the ‘once it is shot’ rule, I guess its not a shot if the goalie hasn’t touched it yet? In number 3, it would seem that the player shoots, then reaches back across the goalie to tap the goal home. Many of these highlights seems to have deke after deke, so there certainly isn’t any shortage of repeated trigger pulls. Is this just an extended pass-to-self?

Bow down to the refs who have to watch this stuff in real time and make the right call. Wow.

Olympics Photography Blog a must read.

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

If you haven’t been following the adventures of Newsweek photographers Vincent Laforet, Donald Miralle ad Mike Powell at the Olympics, you’re missing a great opportunity. As all of you readers know, I’m an amateur photographer with aspirations for a few great shots. These guys are the best in the world shooting in a two week marathon of photography moments. They talk about the technical, physical and emotional challenges involved in capturing emotionally and literally dynamic events in still frames.
I posted about Vincent’s packing exploits to start off the series, but I think the posts have gotten even better as we’ve gone along.
They’re sharing a unique perspective on what it takes to get unique perspectives on this media circus of a sporting event: the technically strategic challenge of being in the right place (or several places) at the right time after hours (days!) of planning the perfect shot, the emotion of ‘discovering’ a new sport, the catharsis of introspection… it’s just been a great ride so far.

Keep it up guys!!

Video viewer light on features

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

So the highly publicized M$ Silverlight based viewer for the online Olympics footage is inconvenient at best and painful at worst. I’ve crashed it twice already. The much publicized ‘view 4 events at once’ is useless because rather than splitting the display 4 ways, you are in a sort of ‘video control room’ where the images are less than tiny.

I’m trying to watch the women’s fencing from last night and your choices are basically watch it or not. There is a slider that might theoretically allow you to move around in the broadcast. Just like in Media Player, the slider is about 3 inches long, this wouldn’t be a big problem if the broadcast weren’t 3+ hours long. So the smallest adjustment in the slider is about 7-10 minutes. How hard would it be to have a finer adjustment?

Oh, and as expected, you’re forced to watch a commercial before the viewer actually goes active to watch the event itself.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain TOO much, after all, I wouldn’t be able to see any events other than gymnastics, swimming and basketball if it weren’t for the online feed.

Amusing note: The theme from The Rock was playing in the background before the first bout.

NBC’s Olympic Broadcast Directory: Two thumbs down!

Friday, August 8th, 2008

With NBC providing thousands of hours of Olympic coverage with broadcast, cable and online viewing available there is an overwhelming amount of viewing available. Now I hate watching the 45 second highlight clips intermixed with 45 minute human interest stories that make the prime-time Olympic magazine show. I want to sit down and watch some event to see what it is, or how it works and become an armchair judge (or in the case of Laser sailing… maybe learn something).

So I’m VERY disappointed in the NBC broadcast listings on their website. At first glance it seems like a lot of thought went into organizing the event and broadcast information, but extracting useful information from the NBC broadcast megaplex is nearly impossible.

Olympic Photography Blog

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Vincent Laforet, who is shooting the Olympics for Newsweek, is running a blog documenting his experiences. I’m not sure if I will follow this throughout the games, but his post about packing for the trip is pretty interesting.

If you can’t be bothered to read the post, at least flip through the image gallery of his packing.

All I can say is: “Mmmmm….. gear.”