Sunday, August 30, 2009

Bike MS: Finally Finished!

I've been doing Bike MS events for 6 years now, and the 150-mile Bike MS for 5. I've never finished a two-day event under my own power before today.

Bike MS in Iowa works like this: The Des Moines and Cedar Rapids chapters of the National MS Society start off in their respective cities, ride to Marshalltown, stay overnight, and ride home the next day. Oh, and there are rest stops, energy drinks, energy bars, and lots and lots of home-made cookies in between. Oh, and bananas. LOTS of bananas. And the money goes to researching a nasty, debilitating bastard of a disease.

Well, the first year I did the two-day event (they were known as MS 150 events back then), I made it 132 miles out of 150 and quit. My legs wouldn't pedal anymore. That was back on my recently-departed Trek 2100 (I hope the new owner is getting good use out of it).

This year, I had the Invincible. I cannot adequately describe how much energy that bike saved me. Pedaling that bike is a joy--the bearings in the bottom bracked (cranks) and wheel hubs are so smooth you feel like you've got an extra mile per hour at your disposal.

And I needed it. The roads into Marshalltown are hilly, by Iowa standards. And that's saying something, because we are a rolling prairie kind of state. There isn't much here that's truly flat. So once I had 60 miles in my legs yesterday, THEN the road started getting interesting. I made it, but I walked one hill that looked and felt like it should double as a rock-climbing wall. And what was the very base of that hill was a set of railroad tracks with plenty of loose gravel. So the hill that would have been the most fun to barrel down with the brakes open was the one that was utterly unsafe to do so. Bummer.

I did cheat just a bit in one other aspect. There was a section coming out of the lunch stop in Maxwell (much love to Brenda Colvin and crew--you guys rock that rest stop) which went North, then West, then South out of Cambridge. I just went straight across and cut roughly 10 miles out of my way.

(We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post so I can pet my cat).

Anyway...there was a very tiny wind out of the North, but it was enough to boost my legs to going 18-22 miles per hour going south on flat stretches, including NW State Street in Ankeny itself in the closing stretch. And I did a no-hands victory salute when I hit the parking lot at the finish line.

Official stats, according to my Polar computer:
135.2 miles total
10 hours 50 minutes total ride time.
Average speed, 12.4 mph
Maximum speed: 34 mph
Average heart rate: 155 bpm
Total kilocalories burned: 9,400.
Status of my legs: Don't ask...

Serious note: the number of riders doubled from last year. We're looking to keep that trend going. If you would like to participate in Bike MS, please contact your local chapter of the National MS Society.

I love you, Mom.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Compact Double vs. Triple Cranks

Only hard-core cycling dweebs need apply here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

High-Speed Robot Hand

This thing dribbles a ping-pong ball, for crying out loud.

Via Running the Gauntlet Naked.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sam Harris on "Real Time with Bill Maher"

Frankly, not much of an interview. He makes his usual good points, but Maher didn't do much with his line of questioning. But it's always good to see smart people talking rationally.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Blogs to Recommend

I've been doing some branching out recently from my usual blog sites (Pharyngula, The Daily Dish, Dispatches from the Culture Wars, etc.). And I've found a couple of gems.

Angie Jackson, blogging as Angie the Anti-Theist, or ATAT for short (apologies, George Lucas) is a very smart, funny young lady whose grandmother was a cult leader. In fact, she has a book coming out soon (excerpt here) that sounds grimly fascinating. It's the kind of cult where they believed in faith-healing and children died because of it. Angie's only been a non-irrationalist for a couple years now, tops, but she's already got game in the writing department. Angie, welcome, and keep it up.

Also, one of my favorite targets for contempt--the "Church" of Scientology--has a stupendous counterpunch: Ask the Scientologist. It's written by a couple of long-term CoS members who have come to their senses. And like me with the Catholic Church or Angie with her grandmother's cult, there's nothing like a former member to tell you what's really going on.

They're both excellent. Check 'em out.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Facebook: The Death of the Inner Voice

[Commence rant]

I've been wanting to say this to a Facebook friend for some time, but I decided to post it here, instead.


It seems like you're live-blogging your every emotional whim on that stupid site, and it's pissing me off. Furthermore, we KNOW you're needy, whiny, narcissistic, high-maintenance, and that your mother doesn't love you enough. Do like the rest of us and GET OVER YOURSELF ALREADY.

This is just like blogging, only worse...just because you CAN write anything and everything and post it out there for the whole world in a pathetic attempt at understanding, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I got news for you, and I need to be reminded of this myself sometimes...the number of people in the world who actually care about your complaints is approximately 1% of those who will tolerate it out of politeness. Quit airing your dirty laundry in public.

[End rant]

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fat Cyclist Loses Wife To Cancer

Not just ANY fat cyclist--Eldon "Fat Cyclist" Nelson. His wife, Susan, succumbed to metastatic breast cancer Wednesday night.

I don't know Fatty as well as some (like some guy named Lance), but I'm catching up. This annual Christmas letter he wrote a few years ago strikes a nerve.

Go give him some love, please.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

DART Atheist Bus Signs Pulled For "Controversy"

Yeah, because this

is REALLY controversial.

"Atheist advertising signs on Des Moines Area Regional Transit buses that created a storm of controversy when they first went up on Aug. 1 have been taken down.

Officials with DART said the signs were not supposed to be on the buses in the first place.

DART's advertising director said the board never approved the signs and that they were put up by mistake. The Iowa Atheist and Free Thinkers group said the advertising director told them that the signs had been approved."

Help us out, please. Write these people and ask them what's so controversial about any of this?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I will show you President Obama's birth certificate when you show me Sarah Palin's high school diploma. "
--Bill Maher

Wine Bottle Designs

I don't know much about wine, but I know eye-catching design when I see it.

U2's Tribute to Iranian Rights

Via Sullivan:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lego Video Games--Old School!

Via Sullivan.

Dara O'Briain On Pseudoscience

Leave it to an Irishman to skewer the ridiculous in such a delightful fashion. NSFW language.