Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the new ship cycling

If you haven't seen it, mosey on over to the new Ship Cycling website.

(It's what I do to procrastinate what I should be doing.)

If you want to link to the site from your blog, website, or whatever, use the following url:


I used "Google Sites," Google's new website creation and hosting tool, to make it all. For free. And Google hosts all the files. Super awesome for html dummies like me who want just a super simple site.

An unexpected major advantage? Super easy to do team collaboration.

Actually, it took me a while to get the hang of it (much early frustration), but now that I'm done I sort of like it. The templates and options within the templates are limiting, but that's mostly ok for my needs, and I know just enough html to make it do things that the interface doesn't provide quick and easy tools for doing.

And like I said, easy-breezy for team collaboration. And free. :-)

more support of disclosure (and wikileaks)

An op-ed published yesterday on NYTimes.com discussing an unrelated topic (trolling) offers additional support (I think) for WikiLeaks and the cause of full disclosure:

"Plato touched upon the subject of anonymity and morality in his parable of the ring of Gyges.

"That mythical ring gave its owner the power of invisibility, and Plato observed that even a habitually just man who possessed such a ring would become a thief, knowing that he couldn’t be caught. Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly."

A hard truth. Who has ears to hear?

Monday, November 29, 2010

wikileaks: I'm on their side

So WikiLeaks is headlining the day's news. Again. The New York Times reports a quarter million diplomatic cables have been released to various news organizations. The talking heads on the various TV news outlets are up in arms. "Down with WikiLeaks," they cry. "It's espionage. A threat to national security."

I don't buy it.

Clearly, I've the unfathomable advantage of not having a stake in any of it. Which is to say that no secrets revealed are going to embarrass me. But it also seems clear that those clamoring the loudest against the leaks are those with the most to lose; those with a personal stake it.

Consider this from The White House:

"By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information."

Maybe. But maybe it's just desserts for those who traffic in shadowy deception and manipulation. Need our government officials employs nakedly Machiavellian tactics to promote the interests of its citizens? I doubt it. It's the easy way, of course. A seductive means of control for the power elite. But a police state would be an easier way to govern, and I'm not keen on that either.

Also, I'm reminded of the frantic prophetic ravings of my beloved white-haired poets.

"I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations...and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation..."

The implication is that stuff done secretly is bad, and that those who persist in secretive interactions, well, they'll get theirs. Generally, I'd say that's a pretty good rule of thumb. To the extend that there is a morality to method, openness = good, deception = bad.


In the struggle between the powerful and the powerless, I rarely find myself empathizing with the powerful.

Go WikiLeaks. Free Pfc. Manning.


On a completely different note, when reading about all this on nytimes.com this morning I found myself hopelessly distracted by this advertisement:

I can't figure out why this women, excitedly peddling Harry Winston's gaudy blood diamonds, is eating a sandwich. If it wasn't so obvious that the image has been digitally distorted, Dove evolution style (the neck is the give-away), I would think she took the advertisement's tag line, "Live the Moment," to heart, the poor woman having starved herself for months prior to the shoot in order to fit into that dress.

Seriously, though, is she really holding a sandwich?!


If you haven't, I recommend a visit to the WikiLeaks site, just to see what all the hubbub is about. As of now, there's nothing on the site regarding this latest bit. What's more, the site appears all but unusable. Perhaps that's due to heavy internet traffic, or perhaps there's something more nefarious afoot. I'm interested to see where this all goes in the coming weeks, months, and years...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


(FB'ers, you'll have to visit the blog to watch the video.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

summer dreaming

From sometime last June. A crit in Hagerstown.

It was a fun little course that had riders careening through a neighborhood in north Hagerstown, and sometimes careening over curbs and whatnot as well. What looked like a simple four-corner crit had enough curves in the straightaways to keep the field pretty strung out. The race was fast. I felt flat. But I had enough to pull out a nice little move to win a prime.

Yah for races with primes. Go AVC.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

what I do to stay warm in the winter

It hasn't really gotten cold yet in south-central pee-aay, but it's a 'coming...and so are the questions on how to stay warm.

Yesterday, I got a note from a friend asking how I keep my package warm when it gets cold--bibs and tights, just tights, two pairs of tights? I figured I'd share my response, along with some other cold-weather riding tips and just what-I-do sorts of things.

Everyone has to figure out what works for them, which is to say there won't be a universal right way to stay warm, but I think it's helpful to learn what those who have ridden through more than a few winters have learned.


On keeping male genitalia warm when cold-weather riding...

To start, I don’t have any padded tights. I always wear bib shorts under everything. When it’s cold enough to warrant, I pull on a pair of tights over them. Except that I cut all my tights off mid-shin, so I guess that makes them knickers.

I have two pair of knickers—one that’s not that warm, which I wear when it’s about 35-45 degrees out, and another that I wear when it’s colder. If it’s REALLY cold, like less than 25 degrees, I wear a modified pair of hiking pants over whatever else.

When it gets to freezing or below, I don’t leave home without my anatomically trimmed patch of fleece. I cut it from some old fabric I had lying around and, when it’s cold, I just stuff it down my shorts, wrapping my package in the warm, soft, comfy texture of 200 weight fleece.

It’s really the best solution I’ve found. My genitals never get cold when I have that thing in place.

There are other possible solutions. Craft makes a brief with a WindStopper patch on the front that you supposedly wear under everything. I think that would work ok, but I don’t like wearing underwear under my shorts in the winter not so much because of discomfort (though that's a concern), but because the extra fabric makes my butt all sweaty. And sweat, when it’s cold, should be avoided when possible. So if the fleece patch doesn’t appeal to you, I’d consider taking a look at the Craft brief. (Craft makes super stellar winter wear. IMO, Craft, Icebreaker, and maybe Patagonia are THE top-of-the-line in respect to cold-weather athletic wear.)

On keeping legs warm when cold-weather riding...

I'm a dedicated knee-warmer fan. Such a great piece of cold weather gear. If it's under 65 and cloudy, I've probably got my knee-warmers on. If it's under 60, they're on. When it’s cold enough to put my knickers on, it’s over the knee warmers. And I have several pair—those that are just lycra, and others that are fleece-lined.

As I said above, I always wear a pair of bib shorts under everything. When it gets down to about 45, I pull my lightweight knickers on over my bibs and thin knee warmers. When it gets cold enough that I want my shins covered (35 degrees or so), I wear tall socks.

My leg-covering strategy by approximate temperature ranges:

55-65: bibs + thin knee-warmers

48-55: bibs + fleece-lined knee-warmers

38-48: bibs + thin knee-warmers + thin knickers

20-35: bibs + thin knee-warmers (sometimes fleece-lined warmers) + warm knickers + tall socks

under 32: everything else + fleece genital cozy

under 20: everything else + specially modified hiking pants

On keeping feet warm when cold-weather riding...

Shoe covers are of course critical when the temperature drops down into the 40s. Sometimes they also make sense even when it's a bit warmer. Nice neoprene numbers are the best because they're waterproof.

However, the single best cold-weather gear purchase I’ve made in the past five years are my winter riding shoes. I have the Shimano MW80s. Such. A. Good. Idea.

I got mtb (as opposed to road) winter shoes because they’re much more versatile. They work well when mountain biking, obviously, but if I want to wear them on my road bike I just move my pedals over. Mine are a size bigger than my usual riding shoe size so I can wear a thicker sock and still have a little room in there. A too-tight shoe makes for blood circulation problems which accentuates cold-weather feet-warming issues.

If it’s really cold (less than 25 degrees), and I’m going to be out for more than two hours, I’ll put shoe covers over them. But really, I’ve found the problem with keeping feet warm on a bike in the really cold is the negative heat transfer from your cold metal crank and pedal to the sole of your shoe. Shoe covers do nothing to solve that issue. So if my feet get cold in 20 degree weather I find I just need to get off and walk a few minutes and they’ll warm right back up. This is of course easier in mtb shoes than in road shoes.

On keeping the torso warm when cold-weather riding...

Keeping your torso warm is a good deal about managing sweat and wind. I've found that when heading out for a long winter ride I'm going to sweat a lot more in the first, say, 60-90 minutes than I am the rest of the ride. So I like to bring along a spare base layer. After 90 minutes or so I strip off my sweaty wet one and put on the fresh dry one. Or just take the sweaty base layer off and then put everything else back on. Makes all the difference in the world.

Bulking up with extra layers is less important than making sure you've got a good wind shield in the front. So a good wind vest with rear ventilation is critical.

I've found that with our new (last year) Shippensburg jackets that it's so warm I don't want to put it on until the temperature drops well below 40 degrees, and then with just a base layer under. But I always bring along a vest, and if I get cold later, I either swap out base layers (for a dry one) or put on my vest under the jacket, or both. I can go a long way in 30 degree weather using this strategy.

On keeping your head warm during cold-weather riding...

When it gets down to 50 or so I like to throw on a thin hat or ear-covering thing (actually, I used to do the ear-covering thing, but now I only do hats). I have low tolerance for cold ears, so I keep them covered.

When it gets below freezing, you might benefit from wearing a balaclava. I find, however, that keeping a nice full beard does the job and balaclavas often leave me over-heated.

When it’s under 30 degrees I usually wear ski goggles right over my helmet. This works surprisingly well. I've found goggles make an amazing difference in keeping your entire face/head warm. A skullcap + goggles keeps my head much more comfortable than a balaclava + sunglasses, but I generally pack along an extra balaclava when it's cold just in case. Goggles + balaclava makes your head virtually impenetrable to cold, which I've found advantageous when it's cold, the wind is blowing, and, if that wasn't enough, it starts to snow.

On keeping your hands warm during cold-weather riding...

This one is easy: wear gloves.

Really, it's that easy. If your hands are cold your gloves aren't thick enough. Ski gloves work best.

I've also found leather work gloves to work really, really well until about 32 degrees. And leather work gloves are an awful lot more economical than fancy full-fingered winter cycling gloves.

Now, if your hands do get cold when you're out riding, it helps to windmill your arms several times really fast to push the blood out to your finger tips. When people first see this trick they're generally skeptical, but then they try it and they believe. Trust me, it works.


Well, I think that about covers it. Have your own cold-weather riding tip? Post away if you're not afraid...

Friday, November 12, 2010

a walk in the woods

Yesterday, hiked ~23 miles along the AT and various other trails/fire roads. (Total walking time, 10 hours w/ breaks.)

Today, little muscles on the outside of my legs--about six inches up from my ankles--hurt so bad I'm left hobbling around. Everything else: fine. Weird.


Ten years ago the idea of hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. Not so much anymore. During my walk yesterday I kept thinking how much I'd rather be on a bike. Load me down with gear and set me off to do 100+ miles a day on a bike and I'd be all enthusiastic about it. I think on the trail, doing ~20 miles a day, I could go about a week and I'd be done. Just. Not. Interesting.

I might, though, feel different about hiking the high mountains in the West-Is-The-Best. More challenge. More diversity of terrain and scenery. Potentially more danger. These eastern mountains, I love them, but oh my how they are monotonous...