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.