Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Round and round

I was just noodling around as a way of tracking progress on the bike. I got the bike on March 17th, and as of last Saturday have owned it for 163 days. In that time I've covered just over 1,050 miles, which is about 6.5 miles a day on average or 45 miles per week. It really doesn't seem all that significant in relation to the effort I've put into it. Not that I haven't enjoyed getting the miles in. Still, I plan to ride to work on Friday for an additional 26 miles and a training ride on Saturday of 30 miles. Then next week is the biggie - a possible 175 miles in a weekend.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Eating for England

So I've discovered the downside of riding longer distances. It's not the sore knees I was worried about (both are fine). It's not even the lingering effects of the saddle, although that's not great, thanks for asking. Nope, it's the need to eat constantly. My granola breakfast yesterday morning was a useless attempt to fill a hole. I managed to make it through to 11:30 then had lunch. Still hungry. My boss arrived back with a big Subway tuna sandwich and gave me some of that. Still hungry. Snickers bar around 2pm. OK for a while. Worked out at home. Fed the kids. Snacked on their left over tater tots. Then a big steak and mushrooms last night. Still hungry.

This morning I had tater tots, fish fingers (hey, they were left over in the fridge and I was hungry) and an egg. That finally did it.

I'm going to be eating for a week after the MS150.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Rolling along

I've been staying off the bike in the past week since my knee was starting to hurt. I think - hopefully - I've addressed that by raising my saddle about half an inch. Bike setup is subtle but crucial since you're doing the same movement many times over - RSI galore if you get it wrong.

With that said, I'm now less than two weeks away from the MS150. There was a Team GSK training ride on Saturday to prepare for it. It was my first fifty mile ride, around the rolling hills of Falls Lake. Michael and I were the only ones to put our hands up when the group leader was asking who was going to be averaging 18 mph plus. There were 19 people there, so that was a surprise.

It turns out that fifty miles is possible for me. It's a long way and all, but somehow I've become fit enough to not only be able to do it, but to be able to enjoy doing it. There were four of us taking turns at drafting. Hills are still hills though, and that just requires you being able to make the cranks go round.

We had a ride time of 2 hours 53 mins for a 53 mile ride, an 18.3 mph average.

I even went moutain biking for a few miles with the kids yesterday. How I love my moutain bike saddle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Halcyon days

Since my un-birthday has just passed some I thought about where I was ten years ago. By August 1995 I was probably in the US, Florida, visiting with my wife's parents before we set out on a year's worth of travel. We had our round the world tickets and a rough idea of which countries we were going to end up in. We also owned our first Lonely Planet guide book for New Zealand, giving to me as a leaving present at work, along with an inflatable globe (later to prove extremely useful when half-inflated as a tent pillow) and a huge MagLite flashlight which remained safely in the packaging until I got back home. Our research had really been minimal, consisting mostly of being able to spell the names of the countries we were going to visit (fortunately we'd chosen easy spelling ones, nothing like Malacca).

Everything we cared about went into two backpacks. One each.

We had around $9,000 to live for one year, and that was our total budget. Everything for that one year was to come out of there. I also picked up four weeks work in Melbourne that paid for us to spend 10 weeks in Australia, learning to dive in that time.

And now I work for a large multinational company, have a mortgage, two cars, two kids, a dog, school concerns for both my wife and kids, health insurance to fund, a lawnmower that's has a leaky fuel tank, two TVs, a seldom used formal dining room, broadband internet access. It's not a bad life at all, but it sure is different. And I would love to be back on the road again.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Other possiblities

My job is OK. Relatively low stress, easy commute, fairly well-paid. A middle class sort of life, which is surprising since I don't really have a middle class sort of attitude. Or at least I don't feel I share the same sort of attitude as lots of people who live around me seem to have. It's comfortable enough though.

However I was wondering what other possibilities there are ? If this all went sour tomorrow what would I see myself doing next ? IT is always an option of course, but if I was to completely start over I don't imagine that's what I'd be doing. My personal two other possibilities are landscape architecture or custom furniture design and construction. Both appeal since they require design skills and would satisfy the creative side of me. Then there is also the engineering aspect to both which holds a strong appeal. Money would still be a concern, but if you're doing what you want then that probably matters less.

Anyone else ? What else would you do ?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Talk is cheap - very very cheap

I need to let you guys know about this new application I'm running. It's a voice over IP system that allows you to place internet phone calls to any normal phone. Not only that, but it's free to landline phones. And it's free in about 20 different countries. I just finished a phone call to my mum in the UK. Not only did it work flawlessly, it also is a better quality connection than the calling card I've been using.

The service is here at

You download an application to set it up - apparently there are no viruses or spyware (I ran checks for both after downloading and came up empty). You then need to buy one Euro credit (about $1.27) which took about five days to go through on PayPal. After that - free to landlines. Nada. Nothing. Zero.

There are some charges to cell phones, but since my primary calling expense is long distance to UK landlines I'm coming out way ahead. It may mean I can look again as to whether I really need a landline phone connection. Cell phone calls in the US are 1.1 cents per minute (I think those are Euro cents though).

Here's a list of the countries you can dial for free:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece ,Hungary ,Ireland ,Italy ,Luxembourg ,Netherlands ,Norway ,Portugal ,Spain ,Sweden ,Switzerland ,Taiwan ,United Kingdom ,United States.

I wish I knew someone in Taiwan. Maybe I'll google for the best take-out in Taipei and see what deal we can work out on their best duck dish.

Try this. You'll be pleased you did.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Waxy bubbles floating

There was a lava lamp at home that was getting very little use. It was pretty when we were using it, but most of the time we're in that room the TV is on and that's what gets looked at. So I decided to bring it into work with me. This may not have been the smartest of moves. I spend all day long at my desk, and when I need to stop and think about something I sit back in my chair. That's when I've started to notice the lamp. It has hypnotic properties. I end up just watching these bubbles of wax float up and down in the water. I start making these little internal bets about when the bubble is going to float up ... or down, and find myself upset when some other bubble that wasn't my choice makes it first.

I don't think I've ended up drooling on myself yet, but I know I've spaced out a few times. No-one has said anything to me yet, but that may only be fear of the lamp-gazing loony that's keeping them at bay.

Damn, another bubble on the way down bumped into my upward bubble and stopped it. How rude !

Building the miles

I rode another 35 miles yesterday evening with Michael. We got round in good form, actually speeding up on the later sections of the ride. Our average speed was 19.4mph, and for the first time I went faster than 40mph, 41.6 to be exact. It felt quick to be on two skinny wheels going downhill on a left-leaning curve. And still two cars came past.

The scenery along the ride was glorious. There's a whole lot of rural roads near my house back in Orange county. I think we had one 30 minute stretch we were only saw two cars.

My legs have an exercised feeling today. Two days of riding in a row - none this weekend though. Spraying the house for bug control and cutting the grass is about as exciting as it's going to get.

Monday, August 01, 2005


I signed up to ride the MS150 this year (as keen readers will remember). It's possible as part of the signing up process to register for a team, and my work team is Team GSK. Last year GSK had 140 riders who raised around $100,000. They're hoping to beat that this year. To try and get everyone in shape there are a number of training rides. This Saturday was my first one. I got to the car park we were meeting at and stepped out into the rain. Discussions followed about calling the ride off but as it slackened off a little we decided to ride the first portion, 17 miles, and then possibly call it off at that point. The rain stopped quite quickly after that.

The pace was moderate, about 15 - 16 mph average. That speed made may realize I could easily do the full 75 miles both days if I were to ride that pace. Another rider was along who was much faster though, and we ended up at the front of the pack together. We were drafting off each other and making some great time. At one point we were moving along the flat getting a 25mph pace out of the bikes for two, three miles or so. Man, I love riding like that. The ride was 35 miles in total.

September 10th and 11th will be fine.