Monday, December 30, 2013

For the love of . . . take my advice. Please.

I normally try to write this blog on the day of a ride, but a couple of circumstances conspired against it: 1) I woke at 1:30 am on Sunday morning and never went back to sleep (not as a result of any crisis, but as the now expected, not infrequent, manifestation of my whacky sleep schedule and chronic primary insomnia); 2) there was football, 10 and a half hours of it, that needed watching. I was too exhausted to compose any intelligible account of yesterday's ride without sleep. In fact, I only made it through about eight hours of football before it was lights out.

Saturday's Giro was rained out, which would customarily result in heavy attendance on Sunday morning, but the weather (foggy, misty, 48°, with NW winds at 14), and perhaps the season, kept all but 21 cyclists otherwise occupied. Before the start I was concerned about riding east in a following wind with guys who hadn't had their standard weekend dose of miles, but the pace on Hayne wasn't too bad.

Somewhere near Paris Road, Brian B. (not MD) started complaining about what struck me as highly unusual (both physically and metaphysically) if not downright incredible: he said his bike was moving sideways. While I in no wise question his concern, several people were unsettled by his decision to stop in the middle of the turn onto Paris Road to investigate the unnatural phenomenon. In any event, the unsolved mystery did briefly reduce the pace of the southbound leg of the ride.

I have a recurring nightmare wherein, like Burgess' Alex (1), I am strapped in a chair with my eyelids propped open and forced to watch a looped video of some fool cyclist being road-killed like an opossum while trying to cross the high-speed access ramp from I-10 to I-510. This week's game of chicken was played with one of those pickup trucks on steroids pulling a large flatbed trailer at about 70 mph. Don't people realize there is a better than even chance the driver has been up all night or is in the middle of a text message or has just dropped into his lap a hunk of burning cannabis out of the poorly-rolled doobie he's about done with? I wish, for my sake if not their own, people would quit the craziness.

Watching Ray, uh . . . I'm not sure. Could be praying or thanking his lucky stars he made it across the ramp on 510.
The service road felt like one long sprint, as usual, and, as we negotiated the traffic onto Chef Hwy, it was apparent a couple of people had disappeared. Then something remarkable occurred, something so noteworthy even HL said it would demand mention in this space: HL rode up near the front and asked the group to wait as two people were off the back! I'm not certain if it was an expression of true Christmas spirit on HL's part, or if his good-tidings-to-all gesture would have happened if one of the separated riders hadn't been Sherri. I do know his lingering holiday warmth was not shared by all as Kenny B. was heard to respond to his request with, "She knows the way."

 The ride out to the turnaround was winter-paced with a half-hearted acceleration and sprint at Venetian Isles. The weather improved all morning -- the road was drying, skies were clearing. Inbound, the pace remained mellow until we passed the Vietnamese shops and things began to wind up for the sprint. Because I had felt comfortable coming in, I got into the rotation. Big mistake. I was on V.J.'s wheel and, as he pulled over, I quickly realized that my theretofore comfort was because the group had been fighting a rather brisk headwind which I hadn't experienced from the cozy regions near the back of the bunch. V. J. must have thought I was just trying to ride next to him, but I was murdering myself to accelerate beyond his wheel and get off. When I finally did, I was on the front for about five seconds, which felt like an hour. Then V. J. came around me at a good clip trailing the single line of riders into the crossing headwind which meant that the tail end was all the way over at the centerline of the highway, seemingly about a mile from where I was struggling for oxygen. As we approached the Chevron station, I was only few feet off the back but, at the limit of effort, being off the back into a headwind by a few feet is like being off a mile.

I decided to see if, by leisurely proceeding to Bullard before turning north, I could get my heartrate down to something sustainable. I was eventually successful in that endeavor and additionally enjoyed the unexpected perquisite of finding myself arriving at Hayne about the same time as two very fit women on TT bikes, who I followed, trance-like, until rejoining the group as it came barreling past in several pieces between the bridges.

On Lakeshore Drive, Racer X (aka the Bashful Artist) and Rob K. independently commented on my new shoes, which I found somewhat surprising since my riding a few weeks earlier with one silver and one black shoe as a result of an inadvertent wardrobe malfunction was not commented upon at all, by anyone. Also on Lakeshore I was subjected to a second application of the Ludovico Technique (2) when a younger rider, with whom I am almost entirely unacquainted, churlishly began, and continued at some considerable length, describing for me and anyone else within earshot the details and frequency of certain bedroom antics in which he engages with his spouse. If there is anything my advancing years have taught me, it is that, aside from being distastefully boorish, such behavior, like playing chicken with huge, speeding, trailer-towing pickups, is ultimately hazardous to your health.

Trying to distract myself from what was being told, I started thinking about a news item(3) of the last century which so unsettled me at the time it moved me to write, almost precisely twenty years ago, a small poem. I share it here in the hope that my advice against  publicly discussing the habits of the marital bedroom (and for that matter, playing chicken with trucks) might be heeded:

by David J. L'Hoste

I'm not sure I can cope with the news
Of the man and his wife and the knife,
Of the rape and the tale that ensues,
Of the couple's disrupted home life.

After drinking a few he came looking for love,
And his wife's ardent NO he ignored so says she.
After having his way, he climbed down from above,
And he slept with no dreams of catastrophe.

Into kitchen she strode and returned with a blade.
With a flick to his flesh into hands came his glans,
And while driving away she flung gobbet in glade,
Where it stayed till she phoned in her plans.

In the weeds it was found and then dunked into ice.
Then to doctors it went to be sewed to the bump
That was left on the man who had paid a dear price
For the pleasure he got in exchange for a stump.

I first heard of this tale via fax,
Which was sent by my wife, who's topnotch.
Ever since, it's been hard to relax,
While I sleep with my hand on my crotch.

= = 

 Alex is the villainous anti-hero in The Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

2. "The Ludovico Technique is a fictional aversion therapy from the novel A Clockwork Orange administered by Dr. Brodsky with the approval of the UK Minister of the Interior. It involved forcing a patient to watch, through the use of specula to hold the eyes open, violent images for long periods of time, while under the effect of a nausea-inducing drug. The aim of the therapy is to make the patient experience severe nausea when experiencing or even thinking about violence, thus creating an aversion to violent behaviour." Source (wikipedia).

3. The case of John Bobbitt and Lorena Bobbitt, wherein, on the evening of  June 23, 1993, Lorena Bobbitt amputated her husband's penis and threw it into a field as she drove away from their home. She was later acquitted of any crime. Soucre (wikipedia). Source (NY Times).

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Last Ride?

My last check of the weather before the ride showed a mild-for-December 57° with 7 mph SE winds. I was probably a little over-dressed with leg warmers and a long-sleeve base layer, a fact Rich was more than happy to point out shortly after I met him on Lowerline. Most of the chatter of late has been speculation about when the levee as we have known it will be no more. It is imminent. Climbing up the levee I could see new fencing had been installed to prevent levee access once the impending construction begins.
Brian, Max, Seattle Mike, the top of Vega's helmet, Ray, Rich, CA Rick, Woody, and Daniel

  There were 10 of us at the start, with the notable absence of Randy. We picked up HL, Lenny, and Keith N. at the playground. The first four or five miles of the ride were very steady with a seasonally appropriate pace. It was very pleasant. Then, having had more than enough of all the pleasantness, up the left side came HL for a twenty-second surge, which immediately altered the previously mellow moods of Daniel and Woody. I was still in the rotation but rapidly becoming uncomfortable as the pace rose. Next time through, when I was third or fourth person from the front, I was about fully cooked and having an increasingly difficult time maintaining contact with the wheel I was on, as Woody or Daniel, I can't remember which, amped it up still more. I moved left and waved the rider behind me through. About two riders passed, then HL, who gave me a double stink eye. It was stink eye, turn away, turn back, another stink eye.

I guess HL thought I was disrupting the paceline by voluntarily avoiding the front. What HL didn't know was that I got out with no intention of disrupting the line but only to prevent the interruption which surely would have followed my spewing a belly full of blueberries and Heritage flakes all over the eight or nine riders behind me. He couldn't have known I had enjoyed last evening a double ration of grog at the holiday gathering of the Nu Wave Masters Swimming Club and was feeling a wee bit bilious. What I didn't know was that eight or nine riders were not behind me, only three, then nothing but empty levee. Brian, CA Rick, Keith, Vega: gone, gone, gone, gone.

So now I feel like the man overboard watching the ship slowing pulling away with no hope of seeing it again. Then I see the guy I would later learn to be Mike from Seattle, who's on an ancient, fluorescent-pink Klein with downtube shifters, also get surprised by the empty space where the rest of the line should have been, and he's off the back, too. So I settle in on his wheel and figure it's him and me for the long haul, but he's got other ideas and stands up on this old aluminum frame and starts pedaling like hell. Well, he pulls me up to the group, almost killing me and I'm sure himself in the process.

Amazingly, the group hadn't slowed but was actually going faster and as soon as we were on again things started to unravel. A couple of people started losing contact, then Max is next to me, talking to me, but I'm not really listening, I'm trying to breathe. Finally I understand he's asking me where Vega went, but I just stare at him trying to breathe. Max curses and sits up. Now I'm thinking if Max is going back for Vega, he better hurry because Vega is probably putting his bike in his truck by now.

So it's Seattle Mike and me once more. But only 50 meters up the road is Lenny, who we join and the three of us start to work a little bit. I say a little bit because Seattle Mike pulled for a while then I went around him and got on the front, then, all of a sudden, Seattle Mike and Lenny are both out of their saddles sprinting away from me. So I say, "Really?" But nobody's there to hear me.

Brian and Seattle Mike
 Pretty soon Brain came by, and I got on his wheel. He pulled me up to Seattle Mike and Lenny. Lenny turned at the Little Dip. Just on the other side of the Luling bridge, the three of us came upon Woody changing a flat.

Could that be the stink eye?

Apparently Vega didn't get the bike in the truck because he and Max rode up after a short while. To be fair, Vega probably deserves a pass since lately he has been suffering a physical infirmity 1 of a delicate nature which I have much difficulty thinking about much less describing here. With Woody's flat fixed, we stood around jawboning until the rest of the group, which had been half a mile west waiting for HL to change a flat, appeared.

Just as the whole group started back east, Randy, who I had figured for an early PT session, pulled up. Coming back was largely uneventful. Once we got started Woody took about a five-mile pull into a quartering headwind at a rock-steady 24 mph. Around Williams Blvd. I picked up a huge shard of metal in my rear tire and had to change the flat, a task I accomplished rather expeditiously in spite of Rich's standing around making snarky comments, pickpocketing my iPhone, snapping images of me, and constantly apprising me of elapsed satellite time.

Removing 20-penny nail from rear tire
Sadly, as we were getting off the levee there were workers standing at the bottom of the two asphalt ramps holding large rolls of wire mesh, preparing to close the levee for many months. This was probably our last Tuesday/Thursday ride from the pump towers for a long time to come.

= =

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Check the List, I've Been Good

Turning at the Big Dip (click images for larger view)
My immutable rule, faithfully applied to weather conditions to determine whether I venture onto the levee, is what I call the Law of 45/15. If the temperature is below 45° or the wind is greater than 15 mph, I stay within the comfy confines of my abode. Big Rich, because he's tougher, or at least he wants me to think he is, professes to live by a 20 mph wind limit. As for temperature, he subscribes to the Konrad Doctrine, which can be paraphrased thusly: "There is no bad weather, only bad clothes." I'm not convinced either Rich or Rob unwaveringly abides by this tenet.

When I awoke this morning I could hear the wind outside. I opened the door to my driveway and checked the stiff bush which is surrounded on three sides by house and only moves during hurricanes and other unusual wind events and it was swaying violently. I did not want to ride. Hoping to find  justification for jumping back into bed, I checked the weather online. I didn't like what I saw on the most relevant site (observations at MSY) so I checked Lakefront (KNEW). This is what I found:

While MSY was 46/14, taken as a whole, observations were ambiguous at best in light of the Lakefront readings, and, being a lawyer, I believed I could present a colorable argument for returning to the warm contentment of my bed. So I sent Big Rich (considerately including California Rick1) this email at 5:16:
 -------- Original Message --------
Subject:     Riding?
Date:     Thu, 12 Dec 2013 05:16:47 -0600
From:     David J. L'Hoste <>
To:     Richard B. Ehret <>, Rick Aubry <>

Lakefront says winds are 20.
MSY has 14 but that will be 20 coming home through Kenner.

In his typically laconic fashion, Rich responded at 5:22 as follows:
I was slightly angry with myself because I truly didn't want to face the cold and wind, but I had shown my hand, so to speak, and failed to garner any support from Rich for what I wanted -- validation of my wimpy desire to go back to sleep.

It was about 5:35 when, clad only in boxers and my fleece-lined L.L. Bean slippers, I dragged my bike, which had been untouched for a week, into the utility room to put air in the tires. It was about 5:38 (16 minutes before I needed to leave for the ride) when I pulled the pumphead off the rear wheel and with it came the broken stem core. Great. Now I had less than 25 minutes to change a flat, brush my teeth, fill a water bottle, dig out and put on a full compliment of cold weather gear and ride three miles to Oak and River Road.

Well, now I'm a little conflicted because although I've made the distasteful decision to brave the weather conditions, this unavoidable mechanical failure, totally beyond my control, may well allow me to avoid prevent me from making the ride. What to do? My resolution of these sorts of dilemmas usually involves fussing out loud, audibly expressing consternation at my predicament. So as I'm banging around in the utility room, pissing and moaning about not having time to change the flat and make the ride and how I am not going to change this damn flat just to go suffer on the levee, my loving wife, who was in the adjacent kitchen preparing herself a cup of coffee and had listened to about enough, said, "You are obviously upset because you want to ride so just change the flat and go." To which I replied, "I'll never be able to change the flat in time to make the ride." To which she retorted (and I swear this is verbatim), "Then quit whining, throw the bike in the car, take it over to Rich, and get him to change the flat."

What? So I tell my wife, "You don't understand. First, Rich would look at me like I was nuts if I did that. Second, it's quarter to 6 and Rich is deep into his pre-ride routine, which I assure you does not include changing my flat. And third, you don't think I can change this flat and make the ride? Is that what you are saying? Because I'll do it. I swear I'll do it."

All of which my wife viewed as a continuation of my earlier whining, and left the room. So I killed myself speed-changing the flat, not eating, speed-dressing, and racing toward Oak and River Road.

I caught Rich at the base of the levee.

Waiting at the start in the biting, icy wind, Rich and I were joined by Randy and Triceps Dave. Rich started bitching about his being too big to get a draft from Randy, Dave and me. Or more accurately, bitching about Randy, Dave and me not being big enough to provide him with a draft. Right after we rolled we were joined by Woody.

The ride out wasn't too bad as the wind moved a little and was more NNE than due N. This, of course, made the ride in miserable. Randy is still injured and could only take abbreviated pulls for part of the ride, and when Woody was on the front I felt like I was on the front because he would up the pace that much. It was almost like pulling twice in  a four-man rotation. We saw few people on the levee. Mignon was inbound as we were going out. Donald was heading out as we were coming in. And we passed a rider who Rich said was Racer X (the Bashful Artist), although he was covered head-to-toe, including his face, in black, and I couldn't tell who it was. Someone said he looked like a Ninja.

I was looking forward to Rich's ride profile, thinking the longer, faster pulls by Woody might be discernible, but Rich didn't clear his data from yesterday and his computer treated today's ride like a leg of yesterday's. Maybe Santa will bring me a Garmin for Christmas. If Santa checks his list, he'll see I've been exceptionally good. I rode today.

= = =
1. I included California Rick on this morning's email to Big Rich because Rick rode on Tuesday morning, when MSY was reporting gusts to 29 mph and 41°:
In a later email he lamented that "it was f**king cold and windy" and he asked if he was late to the start and perhaps had been left because nobody was on the levee. Rich, being ever supportive and in his inimitable, succinct style responded simply: HAHAHA.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

All Along the Pump Towers

All along the Pump Towers (click for larger image)

There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour's getting late.

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came
And went barefoot servants too
Outside in the cold distance
A wild cat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl, hey.
(From All Along the Watchtower by B. Dylan, as performed by J. Hendrix.)

First Up (click for larger view)

Not unusual for early December in the subtropics, it was 72° this morning with a dewpoint of 71° -- making for a misty, foggy and very humid ride. I pocketed my useless eyeglasses before we started. The group was remarkably small for a warm morning with no rain expected: Jaden (in orange), Brian, HL, Randy, Ray, Rich, and me. NOBC's three representatives from the River Parishes joined us on the other side of the Big Dip.

HL rode like HL, making noises about people (me) sitting in or short cutting the line. Big Rich began short cutting the line with impunity. I felt persecuted, but very comfy on Rich's wheel.

Randy must have been pressed for time or still suffering from his recent crash because he turned at the Little Dip. Going through the Big Dip Jaden rode off the front and HL and Brian accelerated to catch him. I may get dropped there on every future ride, but I refuse to race through the west end of the Big Dip. I still have nightmares about the sound Mark D.'s body made as it slammed down onto the asphalt going through that reverse-banked curve, fortunately only breaking his clavicle. I can't remember if HL was there that morning, but I know Brian and Jaden were not. If only I could play for them the little video of the incident that plays over and over in my mind. Give Google a few more years.  

Ray was left there on the climb out of the Big Dip with the rest of us, and he soon sat up and lodged some vague, nonspecific Vegaesque complaint about mud in his brake or some similar equally incomprehensible equipment malfunction.

Foggy Start
Coming back toward town the pace wasn't too bad even as the crosswind (dead south) began to stiffen a little. The River Parish guys turned, Ray got off at Williams Blvd., and somewhere in there we picked up the huge guy, who makes Big Rich look like Little Rich, and one of his compatriots.

At one point, Brian was on the front, then Huge Guy and his friend, then Rich, then me. HL and Jaden were on the back. Brian rides off the front, and I just know HL and Jaden are going to come around any second and chase, which, of course, they do. I expect Rich to go, but he doesn't. I hesitate for an instant and think about going around Rich. Immediately I wonder whether going around Rich will be a smart thing or a foolish thing. Next I think about a Gahan Wilson cartoon1 about making the same stupid mistakes over and over. By this time, there is no decision to make. Then Huge Guy and his friend go off in pursuit and still Rich does nothing. About half a mile up the road Rich and I pass Huge Guy and friend huffing and puffing and pretty much softing it. So Rich and I rode in from west of the country club together.


[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday Evening Post

The Saturday Giro isn't part of my normal routine, but I can't ride tomorrow morning, so I thought I'd go out today even in the face of temperatures in the 30s. The NWS observations showed  an incredible 14 degree differential for 6 am between KMSY (36°) and KNEW (50°), but I believe the NWS data collection equipment, sitting out on the peninsula that is Lakefront Airport surrounded on three sides by the warm waters of Lake Pontchartrain, provides poor readings except for those planning to go boating. When I parked for the ride on Killdeer, two blocks from the lake, my car's thermometer was showing 37°.

Almost nothing of note happened on this morning's ride. There were 20 or so riders. As to the make-up of the 20 or so -- good news and bad news. Bad news first: fully 40% were youngsters in orange or their allies. The good news is that the whole bunch of orangemen rode 160 miles around the lake yesterday. Representing my generation were Vega, VJ, Randy, and HL. Arguably from an intervening generation, and appearing to be unduly torturing himself with power cranks, was Rob K.

It was fast when expected, but nobody really attacked until we had been on the Chef for a few miles. The group split twice, and on the second occasion I made it into the group off the front. But it didn't seem like anyone was really in a mood to try to stay away. Near the turnaround,  I noticed Rob had taken his gloves off and asked if his hands were cold. He smiled and said, "Anything to make the ride a little harder." Apparently the cranks and maybe his cold fingers got hard enough as he opted to venture into Eastover on the trip in.

The highlight of the ride in was a sighting by the unfinished interchange along the service road at Dwyer Blvd. of four white-tailed deer, backlit by the low sun, standing statue-still, in the dew-laden grass and softened by a low fog. Last time I went by there heading in, two weeks ago, there had been two burned motorcycles which hit me at first glance as bodies. A little way further on was the body of a freshly road-killed coyote.

It is hard in full-fingered gloves to take photos with an iPhone so I include a photo from the 2010 Tour de LA. I don't know who it is, but I like the image.
From the 2010 Tour de Louisiana

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Game Called on Account of Weather

Enough said.

Instead of riding today, revisit some images from the Tour de LA in 2011. Here are about 70 images.

And 12 images from 2009.  Or read my other blog.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Encounter with Dancer from Destrehan and Road-hogging Tractor

The reported wind at KMSY  for 6, 7, and 8 o'clock was 10 mph. It sure felt a lot stronger. I checked the measured surface conditions at the airport for the same period and the wind was consistently due east: 090.

I'm convinced  something about  the way the river sets up in its general  west - east meander makes a dead east wind feel worse than a stronger NE or SE wind, even though we are very rarely traveling due east on the inward leg of the Tues/Thurs levee ride.

This morning's ride was as expected in such a wind: fast going out, fitful coming in. We had 11 participants after passing the playground until Movie Star Dave did his little wait-'til-you-see-the-whites-of-their-eyes pirouette in the middle of the path just this side of Kenner. We also picked up Pat still further west. Some chucklehead, who the taxpayers of Jefferson Parish thought it wise to entrust with a huge piece of  motor driven equipment with scads of rotating steel cutting blades, decided it was a good idea to try to meet a group of speeding cyclist at the pinnacle of the little bridge in Kenner, forcing us to near unclip speed.

A group that included Brian, Woody, and two of the young orange-clad riders,  got away with an  acceleration coming out of the Big Dip and stayed away to the turnaround. We started back toward town immediately and after just a couple of miles, the surges started. It wasn't long before Brian just rode off of the front. There he stayed into a stiff headwind for a scary long time. The group remained together until near Williams Blvd. and then it was let the stop/start, block/surge, gap/attack games begin. All the while, Brian is still off the front.

The group split into several pieces, with Big Rich, Pat and me working together until Pat turned. Rich and I then picked up Lenny and eventually Randy, and the four of us rode in together.

It was impressive to see Brian's strength, which allowed him to ride away from the group without the need to rely on a lot of maneuvering often employed by others.

Ray was back from a stint out West doing altitude training, and if he hadn't gotten off at Williams, I am certain, with his new kit, he would have been in the front group as a Contender.

Big Rich's Ride Profile
[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Monday, November 18, 2013


Acronymy has been around forever -- SPQR and INRI are good examples of its long use. Today there is an exponential proliferation of the use of acronyms. There is even an Acronym Sense Society, acronym ASS, formed to fight the overuse of initials as words.

California Rick and Rich at Big Rich's Gazebo

The OFCM, also known as The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research, or simply the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology, has published something called the Federal Meteorological Handbook No. 1, or the FMH-1, a used copy of which can be had from for $219.70. Alternatively, it can be accessed for the much more reasonable sum of free on the internet here.
Fully 50% of Giro: Triceps Dave, Brian B., The One With No Handlebars (with handlebars on fixed-wheel bike), another Brian B., and Vega

I now possess this largely useless information as a result of the befuddlement which overcame me as I tried to pin down the weather conditions when I awoke Sunday morning. The NWS observation site for MSY apparently couldn't make a decision on the subject, reporting "light drizzle, fog, mist," and the KNEW (ICAO code for Lakefront airport) site was little help, showing only "sky obscured."

The FHM-1 understandably defines drizzle as a form of precipitation at 8.3.1 (a):
Fairly uniform precipitation composed exclusively of fine drops with diameters of less than 0.02 inch (0.5 mm) very close together. Drizzle appears to float while following air currents, although unlike fog droplets, it falls to the ground.

On the other hand, mist and fog are obscurations, as defined in 8.3.2 (a) and (b):
A visible aggregate of minute water particles suspended in the atmosphere that reduces visibility to less than 7 statute miles but greater than or equal to 5/8 statute miles.

A visible aggregate of minute water particles (droplets) which are based at the Earth's surface and reduces horizontal visibility to less than 5/8 statute mile and, unlike drizzle, it does not fall to the ground.
 Whether properly described accordingly to the Byzantine standards of our federal bureaucracy as DZ 1 or BR or FG, or some soupy mix of the three, it is entirely accurate to say it was too wet for eyeglasses to be of any use and nothing beyond 100 feet could be seen anyway.

It is rare when I recall everyone on the Giro, but Sunday's ride, in toto, was comprised of those depicted in the images above, me, and two riders who joined us just to the east along Lakeshore Dr., HL and Eddy D.

Almost nothing remarkable happened on the ride out. On the service road, I did find myself off the front with Brian B., MD, (on a TT bike) and The One With No Handlebars, and wondered what I had done to put myself in such a predicament. But nothing came of it as there was a regrouping at the Chef.

At one point during the morning, for several miles, all ten of us were working together in a smooth double paceline at about 25/26 mph. I think HL was distracted during that interval by his offering to the other Brian B. (whose chops were largely earned riding tri events rather than double pacelines) some friendly tutelage in the art of paceline riding. HL sharing his experience was charming and the group working as one was beautiful, but as a popular  translation of Proverbs 31:30 instructs: charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. Seemingly, HL was brought back from his Papa mode (which may have been induced by the celebration of his granddaughter's birthday less than 24 hours earlier) by Vega sitting out of the rotation for a single round. HL commented, "Ha, the elastic is starting to stretch." During the very next rotation through, Brian B., MD, with a mischievous smile, glanced over at HL, and when they got to the front, off they went. HL surging and launching the good doctor and his TT machine into the foggy or misty or drizzly distance.

 On the way in, HL had two flats. During the first change everyone stopped, with The One With No Handlebars moving from bike to bike, squeezing people's rims and giving their spokes a little tug. After each such test he would give his head a slight shake and frown. I have no idea what he was doing. His patience already stretched, he and Brian B. MD kept riding when the second flat occurred.

Of course, during one of the flats, there was the required discussion of the passion-provoking issue of Tuffies. What I learned from this most recent in the never-ending series of debates on the subject, was that Konrad evidently has quit using them in spite of continuing his practice of immediately asking anyone who flats if they have Tuffies, and the new most ardent supporter of the tube protectors is the rider 2 who famously coined the phrase, "Ain't nobody gonna wait?"  -- an incident I well remember as a highlight of one Tuesday morning levee ride. Mr. Tuffy's best new proponent had started west before the group, as was his habit, joining in when it came upon him. That fateful morning the group observed him sitting aside the levee top changing a flat, but slowed not a whit. As we flew by, and he let out his plaintive request, it was ironically Konrad who responded simply, "He started without us."

After the flats the ride remained quite civil, and Big Rich, as in fondly remembered bygone days, was allowed to pull steadily from Bullard to the bridges.

All things considered, it was a lightly attended Sunday Giro with very little excitement. One explanation for the poor showing, aside from the weather, was the TVR excursion. Another tidbit I picked up Sunday was that TVR is an acronym for a less than PC description of a ride started by Keith Andrews which stands for The V (as in a part of a woman's anatomy which will remain nameless here) Ride. According to Randy, that ride offered more flats (eight) and more excitement, including a loaded gun sitting in the road.


1. DZ, BR, and FG are not true acronyms, but are METAR codes for, respectively, drizzle, mist, and fog. METAR is an acronym for meteorological airport report.


[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Overcoming Shyness

Tuesday/Thursday Turnaround At Ormond Plantation
  [Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

It can be disquieting, from my 61-year-old perspective, to sit beneath the pump tower waiting on 6:15 as strongman after strongman rolls up for the ride. I'm certain the muscle-to-mere-mortal ratio at the start this morning was the highest I've ever witnessed. Woody, Brian, Robert, two of the Gen-Y guys in orange (except one wasn't in orange, he wore his LAMBRA 2013 TT Champion's jersey). And, of course, I just knew HL was waiting for us at the playground. Oh, I almost forgot (he's so shy and reserved you hardly notice he's there), we were treated today to a fairly rare appearance by the only man I know who can tell you exactly how many nipples there are on a cat 1.

As we pulled away I told Vega this wasn't going to be fun. He said, "I saw Scott as I passed the playground, it's going to be alright." "Oh, okay," I said. But I'm thinking, how's Big Scott going to help us? The only way to help us is to get four or five of these guys to turn around now and go home.

Before we passed under the Huey P. Long Bridge, HL protégé, Robert, attacked. Brian was on front, but didn't bite. He pulled steadily until Robert came back to the bunch. There were maybe two more early surges until the bashful artist yelled, "I want NHL." I actually think things settled a bit then, and the ride to Ormond was relatively uneventful from that point until HL decided to attack at the decidely most dangerous spot on the ride -- at the western end of the Big Dip as the path makes a counter-sloped reverse-S through concrete abutments and steel beams. Yet again briefly overcoming his clinical introversion the artist starts screaming, "Go for it. This is your big chance." Other similar cries began to ring out. Things again quieted and remained steady to the turnaround.

As we started back toward town, there seemed to be a certain tension in the air (not that this is unusual for these rides). Right away HL and Robert went off the front. Brian took a colossal pull, brought it back together, and continued off the front.

 Although calm when the ride started, the mostly east winds were freshening during the entire morning, and now we were chasing into a headwind. Twice as we approached the Little Dip I found myself on the front of the chase -- a monumental mismanagement of my position within the group and my energy expenditure. I was done. As the group pulled away, I could see Vega safely ensconced on its ass-end. I wanted to get a photo but was too cooked to take out my iPhone.

As to what occurred after that point, beyond my lonely trek home into a stiffening wind, I can offer little. I did see HL near Ochsner riding back toward the playground from Oak Street and waved and said his name, but I think he must have been looking at something on River Road and didn't see me wave.

I can also say because of the marvels of modern technology and his candid admission, Rich was dropped, near the country club, exactly 8.28 miles east of the point of my inglorious departure. Rich's ride profile, annotated by me, is below.

Rich's Ride Profile

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

The peleton climbs the Rise Rich Will Not Cross

This week the weather prevented me from riding on the levee on Tuesday and Thursday. Well I guess it would be more accurate to say I was too much of a wimp to ride in the wind  on Tuesday and Thursday. The weather is merely a description of the state of the earth's atmosphere at a particular place and time. Strictly speaking, it doesn't really prevent anything.  Anyway, because I hadn't ridden, I was looking forward to Sunday's Giro. The forecast was a promising 63 degrees with NE winds at 13. My normal routine for the Giro is to put on my kit at home beneath shorts and a tee shirt and throw a towel, helmet, shoes, gloves, arm warmers, and a banana into a small bag. Then I drive to Killdeer St. (George's house) on the Lakefront, finish dressing, and mount my bike. Today, at George's, when opening my bag, I was overcome with a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach as I stared at my shoes -- one silver, one black. The mind, or my mind at least, is a funny thing because I instantly assumed they would be two right shoes or two left shoes. I began rehearsing acceptable (or less unacceptable) explanations for why I had to miss the ride. (Rich had seen me as I drove by him on Carrollton Avenue.) Simultaneously I tried to calculate how long it would take to race home and where I might meet the Giro in New Orleans East. I actually had to pick up the shoes and hold them next to each other, confirming there was a left and a right, before my mind quit the previously described exercises and I began thinking about how to explain wearing one black and one silver shoe. Amazingly, no one said a word about it all morning.

Before the Giro at Big Rich's Gazebo

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
-- Mary Oliver, from The Summer Day

I arrived at Big Rich's Gazebo about the same time as Rich. He seemed unusually quiet and contemplative. After all, it was the eve of the 54th anniversary of his birth, and I know, having recently celebrated my survival of another year, such times can stimulate self-reflection, a consideration of the big questions. He may have been recalling the previous evening's event, a small dinner hosted by his wife in honor of his birthday at Apolline Restaurant, where the proprietor, Keith Andrews, had asked, "So what is this, Rich, the big six-o?" Ouch.

Or maybe he was just resting his aching dogs and quietly enjoying the beautiful morning.

As we joined the peleton by the Swim Hole, I counted 34 riders, including, somewhat rare for a Sunday, Carey H. The first part of ride went pretty much as expected until the breakneck charge off I-510 onto the service road. I had moved sufficiently forward in the group to make it onto the service road in relative comfort, but as we neared the Chef a few riders had gotten about 20 meters off the front. Without warning, The One With No Handlebars (who, by the way, was this day on a normally equipped road bike) came charging up the side of the line of riders screaming, "Come on, Seabiscuit!" He was rocking wildly up and down evoking the movement of a horseman on a galloping steed. I wasn't sure what I was witnessing. "What did he say?" I asked Rich. But Rich confirmed it: "I think he said Come on Seabiscuit." Apparently Seabiscuit wasn't up to bridging the gap, but no matter as it all came back together in the last curve before the Chef.

Rare bird sighted in Bayou Sauvage NWR
About halfway out  along the Chef, Vega moved up from somewhere near the very back and said, "I'm still here so make sure you take my picture."

As the pack rounded the last curve before Venetian Isles there was a big surge and the group split into several pieces. After we sat up Keith McD. asked, "Who ramped it up?" The response, dripping with indignation, came immediately from HL, "Who do you think ramped it up?" Of course, HL was with Keith McD. and me, a couple of hundred meters behind the riders contesting the sprint.

After the turn, the tailwind-assisted pace was quick with the sprint at the Chevron station contested by Reagan and Rinard. From my vantage, I couldn't tell who prevailed and, in any event, I was too busy trying to move up to prepare for the inevitable race up the service road and past the automobile dealerships along I-10.

The pace was thankfully somewhat mellow on Hayne, and, not having seen Vega since the Chef, I asked Rich if he knew what happened to him. Rich said he had looked back as we went by the IHOP and didn't see Vega. A mile or so later, Vega showed up at my side. "What happened to you?" I asked. "What do you mean, I've been here all along," he responded. Vega's comment puzzled Rich. A reconciliation of Vega's assertions with Rich's recollection may remain impossible, one of the many small mysteries which populate our lives.

In the end, the ride was thoroughly enjoyable. We were treated throughout with satellite time provided via Rich's brand new Garmin. With his new toy, Rich has begun to upload his ride data to Garmin Connect, which generates much useful info, including a nice ride profile. I annotated the Garmin-generated profile, below:

Monday, November 4, 2013

$79.99 Saved Is $79.99 Earned

The Giro is described by Randy on the NOBC site as "the standard big group weekend training ride in New Orleans." It has been, for the 13 or 14 years I've been fortunate enough to participate, a reliable, predictable, thoroughly enjoyable ride. Except for occasional disagreements about where the official start should be or minor alterations in the route necessitated by construction or natural disaster, the Giro has been, in a broad sense, the same, week-in and week-out. Same time, same route, same warm-up, same sprints. The same. But each Giro has a unique personality primarily shaped by weather and who shows up at the start.

 My first check of yesterday's weather at about 4:15 might have, on another day, sent me straight back to bed: a "fair and breezy" 58 degrees with NE winds at 23. (I have no doubt that had a cyclist rather than an officer in the British Royal Navy been called upon to standardize the measure of wind speed, what Sir Beaufort thought of as a "fresh breeze" would have been likely termed something altogether different -- maybe, I don't know, "death wind" or "widow-maker wind" or simply "windy as shit.") Nevertheless, I had agreed to provide my wife's SUV and myself as means of transportation from the very edge of the Black Pearl to the Lakefront for a visiting far-flung cyclist. I was committed.
Final Preparations by Rich and the Far-flung at Big Rich's Gazebo
As to who showed up at the start on this particular Sunday, it was a relatively small group, most stronger and younger than I. There was that peculiar phenom, the poison-hearted 1 cyclist I ask each and every time I see to please buy handlebars for his bike. There was the welcome sight, for the first time in many a Giro, of the ever-tanned and sparkly-toothed insurance executive. There was the usual spattering of strongmen and also of those, like me, who seek the solace of a steady wheel on which to sit and hopefully survive. This week, thankfully, survive I did.

By the time we got to Hayne, the wind was down a tad and had shifted more easterly. For me, hiding in the pack, a strong ENE wind is a good thing on the way out as it tends to act as an equalizer, a governor on the speed achievable by those working in the rotation. Nonetheless, several riders were shed along Hayne and several more once the group turned south and the speed climbed above 30 for most of the way to Chef Menteur Hwy.

Heading East on Chef Hwy.

Counting the rider without handlebars who inexplicably pulled off into the marshside grass in the middle of Bayou Sauvage NWR, never to be seen again,
the peleton was whittled to just a dozen riders by the time we were on Chef.

What was an advantageous ENE wind on the way out, turned into an evil bitch of a following wind after the turnaround. While my computer's battery had failed, someone said speeds approached 35 for some portions of the ride in along Chef.

All in all, the ride was delightful, as is any Giro I finish with the peleton. This is true no matter the weather or who happens to appear at the start.

On another but related matter, I have been concerned about undue advantages gained by my far-flung friend by his training on the high valley floor between the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains in northern Utah, and after copious online research resigned to buy a Training Mask 2.0, which is touted thusly:
Elevation Training Mask mimics the effects of High Altitude Training. When elite athletes want to improve their performance they go to high altitude levels to train. When they come back to sea level they perform much stronger, faster, and have increased endurance.
I was a hair's breadth from adding one to my cart and shelling out $79.99. In the end, thankfully, I relented. Apparently, high-elevation training isn't all it's cracked up to be, or perhaps, as suggested by HL, it has been too cold these days to ride in Utah.

1. No disparagement is intended by this term. The One With No Handlebars has on more than one occasion insisted to me that his riding would be much improved if he could only rid his heart of the poisons.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Halloween Scare

Kenner Bend Anchorage

There are certain universal truths in this world. When a doctor says you might feel a slight pinch, everyone knows to brace for broken-bone pain. The same goes for a toothy TV personality standing in front of a weather map telling you it may be a little breezy in the morning. Hang on to your hats. Officially, the NWS observation for N.O. Int'l Airport at 5:53 said winds were south at 10, and that was expected to worsen as a front approached. (After the ride, I checked the 8:53 observation: S at 17 with gusts to 28.)  At the start, one of the guys who rides from Kenner to meet the group just shook his head and said, "The wind."

Time to Clip-in
I started near the front of the group, right behind Brian B.  and Keith McD. They rode side by side to the playground, and then Keith pulled all the way to the big bend by the country club. Brian took a very brief pull, telling me he was saving himself for the ride in. I spent what I tried to judge as the absolute minimum time on front which could still be considered a pull by the generous and then got off. Well,  a couple of guys go by, then Brian and Keith, and then nothing. A big gap. I look over my shoulder and see HL on the front of the long train of riders. No way am I letting HL force me into this rotation especially not in front of him, so I just keep pedaling in the left lane. Eventually HL goes by, and then, of course,  nobody is interested in letting me in and I end up on the very back of about 18 riders, 14 of whom are in the gutter getting absolutely no draft.

For the next few miles I was stuck in the yo-yo at the back until people starting getting pinched off, and I found myself repeatedly having to go around riders and accelerating to get back onto the group. Near the parish line, the group was splintered into four or five pieces, and I ended up on Triceps 1 Dave's wheel with a few others in what I think was the first chase group. I don't know who was in front of Triceps Dave, it was nighttime. Suddenly Dave said, "Left, LEFT, LEFT!"  Then I heard the awful, awful sound of a wheel locking up and a woman screaming in terror.

That was about enough excitement for me for one morning, so I dropped down into the Little Dip with Dave. I still don't know who the rider was in front of Dave or why he was in the left lane.

I do know that at the parish line where this happened, the backdrop from which an oncoming headlight must be distinguished is a thousand lights on the several ships moored at the Ama Anchorage, which, of course, is why you stay out of the left lane. I also know I will never again ride in the dark with this group.

Calling it a training ride is a misnomer. It is a race, and racing in the dark in a howling crosswind on ten feet of asphalt, five feet of which is the right-of-way of oncoming cyclists is just plain idiotic.

I learned later in the day it was Mignon who the group put at risk. She said the group should stop riding like a bunch of jackasses.

That's much too kind.