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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 in Cycling

I can't go the whole year without a single post, so how about at least a quick recap on the cycling?

Stats (with a few days left in the year):

Miles 9,033
Elevation 315,533 feet (96,173m)
Rides 293

That's way more miles than any other year. I think the closest was about 5500, quite a few years ago. Lots of those miles were on the trainer which obviously aren't real miles as I don't actually go anywhere, but the devices all take a pretty good measure of the effort being produced, and they know my weight so they approximate the distance. It isn't perfect but so what? What isn't in question is that I rode way more than ever before.

Training through the Winter (which actually started in the late Fall of 2017) also allowed me to pick up in the Spring where I left off in the Fall. I put on a few pounds in the dark days, maybe as much as ten during the worst of it, but those pounds came off again quickly when I went back outside. More importantly, I didn't start the season slow like I did every other year. In most previous years, I'd gain 10-15% of my body weight and lose most of my fitness, which resulted in less training effort and slower weight loss. Training all Winter was the key, and I've felt really healthy all along, too.

I should write about the system (both hardware and software) I'm using for training in the Winter, but this post is already going to be super long so I'll save it.

Besides the winter training, I started joining the Brumble Bikes shop rides, most weeks. His shop is just three miles away, and I now consider Amos a friend. He puts up with me standing around in his shop chatting almost endlessly, which is a pretty good definition of a friend in my book.

There were a lot of century rides this year. I lost track! Five stick out in my memory, so I'll just cover them.

1. Greylock

The first one was Mount Greylock Century with the Huckleberries, or just “Greylock.” The distance was fine, it's just a little over 100 miles, but this was definitely the hardest century I've ever ridden because of the climbing. Almost 10,000 feet of climbing (over 10K according to some of the bike computers), and the bulk of it starts at mile 63 when you're already tired. At times the grade kicks up to 16+ percent. I cramped on that mountain, almost constantly. It was pure torture. It was also my own fault: I'd ridden a little too hard earlier in the ride, and hadn't kept on top of my salt intake. The results were really scary, and at one point I was more worried about whether or not anyone would find me on the side of the road (as if I was on Everest…) than I was about finishing.

A friendly couple at one of the many pull-offs (for taking photos) gave me a bottle of water, and I went through a full pack of salt tablets. Eventually I dragged myself to the peak where most everyone was waiting. I didn't get the long rest they all got, but it was enough and I recovered nicely on the descent, finishing with Steve and Paul Davis, and Mark Stockwell.

This was both my first season and first big ride with a power meter. I was so new to it that I thought of it as just another number on the screen. Next year will be better!

Central PA Trifecta

2018 was the year of Pennsylvania centuries. I rode all three centuries in the Central PA Bicycling Trifecta, though one of them ended up not being a century due to the rain.

Hershey Chocolate Tour, August 4, 2018

Official link: Penn State Hershey Chocolate Tour

With: Dave Moore (and about a thousand others)

This was the wettest sunny day ride ever. This was a beautifully sunny day, but the whole area had been inundated with rain for weeks before and a heavy storm the night before the ride was more than the drainage, creeks and rivers could handle. See the pictures on Strava.

I was introduced to Dave by Gavin Robertson, who I knew through the Lancaster County Bike Club. Gavin talked me into this ride, but since he's one of the primary organizers he couldn't ride it. He literally grabbed me and Dave and said, "You guys are riding together." Dave and I got along quite well so props to Gavin for a good pairing.

Lancaster Covered Bridges, August 19, 2018

Official link: Lancaster Covered Bridge Classic

With: Dave Moore and Gavin Robertson (and thousands of others)

It absolutely poured for this entire ride, and I was afraid to pull out my phone to take pictures. They canceled the 100 mile loop so we only got a metric century.

Here's the description I wrote for the Strava ride report:

Wet. I must be traumatized. Starting to conflate water and central PA into a single concept. Hopefully Three Creeks in September will be drier (despite the name).

It was great to finally ride with Gavin, and to see Dave again. See you guys again in a month!

They canceled the 100 mile loop because of the rain. Gavin says the descents are quite dangerous enough when dry.

Three Creeks, September 16, 2018

Official link: Harrisburg Bicycle Club - Three Creek Century

With: Dave Moore. Gavin missed it for an anniversary cruise with his wife. Poor guy.

This was the best of the three, if only because of the weather. There was no rain, and in fact the floods that had been drowning central PA for months had finally receded. At one point we passed some water running through the road (from someone washing their car or something), and Dave pointed it out as proof we were still in PA. Great day on the bike.


One downer about this ride: I had a major wipe out the day before, on a Brumble Bikes shop ride. I was sprinting to catch the group after an aborted water stop when my crank came off the bike!! Theere was no time to catch myself, I just went down hard and slid on my left side.

The "only" injuries were road rash, but I had a lot of it. I won't include pictures here in case you, dear reader, have a weak stomach, but you can see them on the Strava ride report.

And yes, I still drove to PA that night and completed the Tree Creeks century the next morning. Bandages flapping in the wind!

2018 Birthday Century

With: Steve and Paul Davis

I turned 46 this year. As I've done every year for a while now, I rode 100+ miles. Steve usually joins me, but this year he actually planned the route for me and brought along his son Paul (who I've known since he was tiny).

On top of all that, Steve gave me a cross bike that actually fits me, which he picked up from someone in the Boston area. it looks almost new. I haven't ridden it much yet, but it's nice to have a spare in the stable and I do plan to get out with it more this Spring when I'm sick of the trainer in the basement.

2018 was a great year on the bike. Special thanks to Steve, Paul, Gavin and Dave for being a big part of it. and especially big thanks to Corinne for putting up with it all. (Lest anyone think she's ignored as a result of all this riding, please remember that I work from home so we see each other all the time.)

Here's to a great 2019!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Manton Reece has finally 😃 opened up to more of the general public, and so I have an account. is like a federated twitter, where everybody owns their own content instead of storing it all on a central service like Twitter.

I'll almost certainly keep the paid service they offer, but more interesting to me is finding ways to integrate with the service.

It looks good, Manton! Nice work!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Birthday, Torg!

[Sluggy Freelance 20 Years]I can't believe it's been 20 years.

I believe I first started reading |Sluggy| 17 years ago, and talked Eric and my dad into reading it a year later. Eric still reads.

🎶 Twenty years of nifty darn comics… 🎵 And Riff should go check his notes! ♬

Happy birthday, Torg!

Monday, May 15, 2017

AJ Died

Corinne came into my office Saturday evening and said, “Your bird is acting weird.”

“He’s always acting weird,” I said, but I came out anyway because obviously she meant weirder than normal.

He (AJ) was at the bottom of his play stand having a hard time keeping his balance.

I picked him up and brought him to his cage so I could evaluate him a little. Gave him some treats (nuts and sunflower seeds). He tried to open a pistachio but couldn’t keep his balance on one foot: that's not good, balancing on one foot is what they do.

He said, “Hi baby,” which is his normal thing to say, but it sounded very off: slightly deeper and a little drawn out. Something was definitely wrong. In fact, the way he said it is what made me realize we were probably going to lose him.

He was panting. I laid down on the couch and put him on my chest; this is his idea of paradise. He loved nothing more than sitting on my chest and making sure I was paying him maximum attention. I rested one hand on his back to help keep him steady, and waited to see if he was going to improve. After a few minutes, Corinne brought me a hand towel to drape over him and help keep him warm (parrots seem to love being covered up anyway).

I was listening to him, reading a little, and talking to him. Soon I realized I was hearing his heart beating. Very arrhythmic, and loud. “thump thump thump pause (a few seconds) thump long-pause thump thump pause” etc. I shouldn’t be able to hear his heart beating at all (and when healthy, the rate is 340-600 beats per minute), and honestly I’m still not 100% sure that’s what it was, but it wasn’t in time with his panting so it wasn’t some kind of lung rattle. I think he had some sort of a heart attack and it was, uh... sputtering?

He was getting worse, and I accepted he was going to die. I started telling him (mostly for my own benefit, I guess... he can talk but he’s not a person) that he should let go, it’s almost over. He grabbed onto my thumb a few times with his beak, but didn’t hurt me. Just held on.

After laying there on my chest for a little less than an hour, getting weaker and weaker, he stretched his neck way out and then tightened all his muscles up for a second, Then he just stopped breathing, and the heartbeat stopped.

I didn't sleep much that night but had to exhort Sunday morning. Ugh.

Sunday afternoon I buried him in a deep hole in the back yard. I miss him.

The closest emergency vet is about a 50 minute drive. (This was a Saturday night.) I hope nobody thinks badly of me for not rushing him over there. I believe it would have been a traumatic and expensive last hour of his life instead of me providing what comfort I could as he died.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

AJ: Two Cockatoos in One

AJ is our 20 year old Cockatoo. He was with friends for about five years but he's been back now for about six months.

There seem to be two different AJs. They look the same. The sound the same. We're going to pretend that they (he) calls me "Daddy." In reality he calls me <screeching sound> but we're just pretending, ok? You with me?

Day One

I come downstairs early in the morning, dressed in a navy blue shirt and denim shorts.

AJ's cage cover is no longer covering the cage. This heavy, denim cover (which outweighs the bird by at least 500%) has been pulled off the back and in through the bars of the cage. Not all of it, but about six inches at a time has been pulled through six or ten successive gaps between bars. It looks like pleating, as it's quite even.

AJ is sitting quietly, pulling more in and chewing on the cover. As I walk toward the cage he releases the cover (it doesn't move) and sits motionless.

I extract the cage cover from the cage bars, while telling AJ how impressed I am with his work. He continues to sit utterly motionless. Obviously I can't see him if he doesn't move.

I reach over to open his cage door and AJ — like a mighty predator — leaps for the front of the cage. He repeatedly bangs his face into the bars trying to bite me, and sticks one claw out as far as he can to grab a finger or, if he's really lucky, my throat.

The door released, I step away. I've barely escaped with my life.

As I round the corner and step out of sight, AJ calls out "Hi Baby! Hi! Heeeey! Hi!!" Over and over.

After I've hunted down a morning coffee at Dave's, he seems more sociable.

“That's my Daddy! I love him. He scratches my neck and under my wings and I will protect him from bad creatures like that woman who also lives here. He shares his food with me but doesn't like it when I try to share mine with him.”

End of day one.

Day Two

I come down wearing a red shirt and denim shorts.

AJ's cage is in exactly the same condition as on Day One.

AJ is doing the same thing as on Day One.

In fact, everything is the same right up until I return from the morning hunt.

He's not more sociable this time. He's neither subtle nor sneaky, either. He starts flapping his wings and screaming at me as soon as he sees me, and doesn't shut up until I close my office door.

I try to calm him down with some neck scratching, but his moment of quiet is just to throw me off my guard: as soon as my hands are in the right position he explodes into action, striking at my fingers with his beak, batting at my face with his wings. In short, he makes a best effort at patricide.

“I don't know who that is. I hate him. He tries to fool me with his soft words and treats but I know better. I will kill him, kill him, kill him until he brings back my daddy or just goes away. You've been warned, little man.

(Me:) I outweigh you about 125 to 1.

Ooh listen to the little man, he can talk! Come over here and say that to my face, small fry!

With a heavy sigh I go back upstairs and change into a dark blue (or green, gray or black) shirt. Then I walk through again on the way to my office.

“Yay! That's my Daddy! I love him! He scratches…”

(Me:) “Oh shut up.”

“Hiii!!! Heeey!! Hi Baby! Hi birdie…”

December, 2018
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