MSc. Specialization in fabrication of tiny thingamabobs and thingamajigs and doodads and doohickeys that aren’t immediately very useful for anything*
PhD Candidate. Specialization in sweeping inconsistencies in climate data under the rug
Hypothesis: An investigation of the following trends may yield evidence of the evolutionary eating strategy homo-sapiens might be best served to adopt to coexist with their environment.
Correlation of these trends was calculated based on the month by month data for global climate and annual obesity rates data across the United States of America. A correlation coefficient of 0.354 was determined, which indicates a statistically significant correlation and a probability of error of only 0.502%.
Conclusions: the obvious inference to be made based on this data is that it is an instinctive reaction of the human race to get fatter as global temperatures rise. While the actions of the collective human race have caused an increase in carbon dioxide emissions by burning fossil fuels and cutting down large portions of what was permanent forest, the individual members of the species should demonstrate instinctive behaviour to enhance their chances of survival and hence increase their opportunities to mate and reproduce. The basic tenets of the theory of natural selection of the species imply that the instinctive behaviour of humans when faced with a changing environment is typically the one most well suited to their survival in the long term. The correlation shown above demonstrates that with high confidence (p < 0.006) that the instinctive response shown by human beings when exposed to changing climate is to increase the adipose tissue content of their bodies. The logical explanation for this behaviour is simply that carbon capture and storage, is the method of climate change mitigation naturally selected for by evolution. Future biomimetic applications based on this research may find pertinence throughout the energy industry and may be used to bolster the mean self esteem of the nation.
*This should be noted as further evidence that the behavioural strategies of individual specimens of a species do not always align with the interests of their species. The misalignment in interests and causation, or lack thereof, of this effect remains an active area of research.
I retired a pair of skis yesterday while tearing up the slopes at Kicking Horse near Golden BC for the day. The snow was falling but we weren’t skiing all day in total whiteout conditions, but as is totally typical of this time of year in the Rockies the coverage isn’t yet great everywhere. I found a couple rocks. The result was that by the end of the day I had totally blown out the edge on my alpine skis. Yech, not happy. Not that they were new or that they were super great, but they were skis that I could ski on whenever I wanted and they were more than sufficiently sturdy and reliable. I got them 6 years ago and they were already second hand at that time. Now I’ll need to get searching for a replacement, and that’s going to cut into the sports equipment budget which I was hoping I could totally allocate to bike parts for the next year. I’m now scoping telemark gear, but that doesn’t come cheap. I think I’ll rent tele’s for a day yet this winter and then start looking with more effort once I confirm to myself whether or not I want that’s something I think I’d really like to try and invest my efforts in. Oh well, they were good skis while they lasted.
Last week was also the fourth annual “Nog Jog” where I successfully defended my title. The short report is that I was faster on both the chug and on the run, and I’m happy to report that I have yet to let a drop of Nog leave my mouth during or after any of my three previous attempts at the distance. I’ve posted a bit longer description of the race and longer race-report on the Fiera Blog. I’ll add the video footage below though:
My Aerocat R509 frame also arrived in the mail and the building has begun. I’ll be adding photos as it develops. Here’s a starter with seatpost, saddle, brakes and stem mounted. I’ve got some BB30 bearings ordered as well as a pair of Neuvation training wheels and a carbon wing bar. Once those parts arrive I’ll be able to put together a first version of the bike, start fiddling with stems and do some roller riding while I wait for the snow to melt. Race wheels and the powermeter are on a bit longer of a time-horizon.
Since the Canadian dollar has been doing so well in comparison to the American dollar recently all of the online shopping that I debated doing last fall has recently been, in effect, put on a 15% sale. I have since gone ahead and ordered a GPS based bike computer from online. It’s available to purchase in person in Edmonton but the exact package that I wanted is something that only ships from the states (so far as I’m aware). I spent a while flip-flopping about if I wanted to spend more money to get one shipped that I wanted or save the money and buy one locally that was a bit less than desired. The thing costs enough that I was plenty content to just defer making the decision perpetually and even though I decided that I wanted this thing back in November it took until mid-April for me to actually place the order as a sort of birthday present to myself. The decision was based on the fact that I could now order things online from the USA at cost thanks to the relative strength of the dollars.
This morning I received an email that said the shipment was delayed another 10 days because of a shortage of the units. I presume this is because every other cyclist in Canada decided the same thing as me, order your spring bike gear from the USA while it’s cheap. The email suggested “Please let us know if this poses a problem for you so we can work to suit your needs.” I figured I’d see what that exactly meant and visited their website again to see what the cheapest thing they had for sale was. I saw that they had socks on closeout from the 2009 season and figured it was worth the experiment. I responded saying that there was no problem waiting for the GPS device but wouldn’t be opposed to the inclusion of some of their closeout socks in the package when it ships in a couple weeks. The reply came a few minutes later. Score!
Rules: You must drink 2 liters of full fat egg nog. The calorie count for the carton must exceed 2500 calories. Light egg nog therefore will not be permitted. The full carton must be brought unopened and un-tampered with to the start of the race. It must then be completely consumed, you may pour your egg nog into glasses or cups if you prefer but you must provide your own cups. Drinking from the carton is also permitted. Straws are not permitted.
When you complete your carton of egg nog you must exit the house, put on your shoes (no shoes inside) and run around the entire block that our house is on. The length of the run is approximately 720 meters. Running on the sidewalk or the road is permitted. Running will be completed in a counter-clockwise fashion, this permits maximal visibility during the finishing straightaway. It also provides an empty alleyway only one lot down the road for individuals who wish to remove themselves from formal competition after the first 10 steps of the run.
The winner will be selected as follows:
The first person to consume all egg-nog and run around the block with all of the egg nog in their stomach wins.
In the (extremely unlikely) event that no-one can complete the run with all of the egg-nog in their stomach, there will not be a winner, but the person who leaves the house first may be considered to have beat all of his/her competition.
The first running of the ‘Nog Jog occurred following a mandarin orange swallowing contest. The result of the race proved that Reuben had indeed swallowed multiple segments of the orange without chewing.
The second running of the ‘Nog Jog resulted in egg-nog being ejected from a nose within the first five seconds.
Despite failing to complete the ‘Nog Jog in it’s proper format, all competitors of all previous years have continued on to pay their dues by encircling the block with a partial stomach of ‘Nog. If there is any etiquette in this tradition it is to respect the race, and making your way to the finish line is an honorable form of paying respect.
This year’s race occurred on the evening of December 23. 16 individuals arrived with their egg-nog in hand and competed in the race. The kitchen was more than full, as more spectators arrived than competitors. Racing began at 10:37pm. The first complete 2 liters was consumed 63 seconds later and the first egg-nog was ejected from a stomach less than a minute after that. The race was completed by only 4 individuals of the 16 competing.
*Fastest chug (1:03) and fastest run (3:03) of the evening. **Jacob was making his ‘Nog Jog debut, as was 4th place Trenton. Andrew was awarded an honorable mention for fastest unofficial finisher, completing with less than two liters contained in his stomach.
I am acting as race director of the 2010 edition of the race. If you are at all interested or capable please contact me. If you’re interested in racing and not volunteering please at least consider volunteering… and then if you decide that you cannot volunteer but do want to race, then maybe check out the “Spring Thaw Triathlon” page at www.ualberta.ca/~tri for more information. Registration is not open yet and it will not be until March 2010.
Cyclocross is a sport that has a couple really defining attributes. That’s nothing special, every sport has defining attributes. The thing that makes it different is that it’s mostly the loosely associated attributes or that make it great, the barebones aspects of cyclocross racing aren’t all that exciting. The sport of cyclocross is the result of a set of decisions that independently don’t create something amazing, but together the maybe unexpected ramifications create something really great.
Here are the basics:
The race surface can be composed of any combination of the following: grass, dirt, asphalt, gravel, mud, sand, puddles… and whatever else the race organizer can find to make you ride over. The changing terrain emphasizes handling ability much more than road racing.
The course necessarily includes places that require dismounting from the bicycle. This can be in the form of a super steep hill that can only be run up, sand too soft or deep to ride through (beach volleyball courts), or plank barriers typically 18 inches in height. These obstacles add a required skillset to racing, successful competitors must be able to quickly and efficiently dismount and remount their bicycles. They must also carry the bicycle through sections of the course, making the ability to pick up their bike and sometimes shoulder it while running an additional skill to learn. Getting off the bike as close to the barrier and back on it as soon after the barrier is ideal, as running is slower than riding in almost all circumstances (when it is possible at all).
The race-course is based on time not distance. Racing is done on a lap and based on how fast the race leaders do the first couple laps organizers calculate how many laps to make them to. Typically at the end of the second lap the lap countdown starts so racers won’t see it until the end of their third lap, but they’ll know how long the race is supposed to be before they start: somewhere between 40 and 60 minutes based on category.
The bike is a modified road bike, running knobby tyres somewhere around 32mm in size with extra frame clearance for mud around the wheels. Cantilever brakes are used and often only a single chainring is run up front with 8-10 gears in the rear. Cable routing on the frame is arranged to minimize catch-ups while picking up and carrying the bike.
Racing is organized into classes similar to road and mountain biking, in Alberta there are three categories for men and two for women which are always (sadly) merged during competition (because the sport is short on females: what’s new in my world). Provincial and National Championships however are split by age. If you are good in your category you’ll eventually get kicked out and have to move up to some tougher competition. If you’re at the top of the best category, someone will inevitably entice you to go and race in Europe where you will be slaughtered by some really fast guys.
Speaking of fast guys; the fast guys in this sport are really, really good. As a huge bonus, amateur ‘crossers get to basically participate in the same sport as the pros. It’s not like pro road-racing where the professional version is a completely different kind of competition than the amateur version. Sure, some aspects change a bit, like having a second bike and a mechanic in the pit lane just like a nascar race, but the concept is still ‘ride as fast as you can over this course’. Road-racing at the elite level is all about teamwork, peloton dynamics, leadouts, and whether or not the breakaway is going to be allowed to be successful, hardly about riding your bike as fast as you can over the course. For me this is definitely a pro – getting to race like the pros.
The fast guys are really good – did I say that already? here’s some proof from the World cup races last year:
Why choose to take up the sport? It’s not likely because you think that you really enjoy 1 hour threshold or near-threshold efforts on the bike. It’s not because the idea of jumping onto the seat of your bike at a full run is super appealing to you.
In fact that’s probably the most off putting aspect for many first-timers. The fact that other people are doing it however, and having fun, is a likely reason I think most people start. There is no secret, the sport really looks fun because the people racing are having fun. It’s also time limited, only happening for a couple weeks each year, and there’s an urgency not to miss out. Perhaps a few esoteric reasons too; the handling skills gained in cross are valuable to bring onto the road (and even triathlon) and the top end speed is something that can be added at the end of a season to a solid base developed for other forms of racing. Cyclocross is meant to be hard, and that’s an appealing reason to start too, it’s a heck of a challenge but I’ll get to that later. Ultimately though I think the apparent disorganization and chaos of a race makes for a good time, and as with all sports, it’s about fun times. Here’s someone’s story about what made ‘cross appealing:
We walked around the course with our coffees and I was getting stoked. Then we got the the first run up. There was a plank at the bottom of steep hill. This was something that clearly nobody would be able to ride. Riders would be forced to get off their bike, run over the barrier, and then remount at the base of an impossibly steep run up. People were crowded all around and cheering and yelling and cowbelling. At this point the tail end of the Masters A racers were coming though, and well, they certainly weren’t making it look easy. Everyone was struggling.
Then Barry Wicks came though like a cool breeze, bunny hopped the barrier and rode his bike up the hill. A man on the hill with an enormous cowbell chased him and screamed in his face, over and over again:
I CAN SEE YOU!
I can see you, I can see you, I can see you! That didn’t make any sense to me, but I loved it. I would later realize that shouting the most obvious shit is the best way to heckle your pals.
Turns out it was Bruce from River City Bicycles doing the yelling. It was that scene right there that did it for me, that made me want to try cyclocross: Bruce yelling in Barry’s face, and Barry riding the hill with an ear to ear smile.
Brian NoLastName – 2009
Others have described Cyclocross as “You make a bike race as stupid as possible, but it’s still a race, so people do it. And then you rationalize that, like, it’s so stupid that it must be fun”. I agree that the concept works for some people but I don’t think that’s how you’d sell the idea to a bunch of athletes who are actually looking for a physical challenge, which ‘cross is in spades, but perhaps the sheer stupidity is part of the reason for some folks. For the people who want to go out and race ‘cross, what most of them are really relishing when the whistle blows to start the race is that this is really really hard. The courses are laid out to prevent rhythm, just when your heart-rate is getting out of control there’s a hill to really add some nails to your coffin and bury you if you’re not careful. Just when your legs are tired from a long section in soft grass there will be a corner that really requires you to slow down and re-accelerate out of it to remind you that your legs are really tired. When your hands are starting to ache from all the jittering and shaking after riding over some really uneven terrain you’ll have to hop off your bike and grab the top tube of your bike with a serious grip to pick it up and run over the barriers, yeilding a big ache in the knuckles. When you think you’ll get to run up some speed down a big hill there will be a U-turn at the bottom, or maybe even a double barrier dismount to prevent you from reaping the benefits of the climb you just did. The changing pattern isn’t something that can be practiced as it’s different from week to week, the ability to change pace, position and focus is the underlying key, while at all times keeping the effort level high. Cyclocross happens in the autumn and early winter. For Edmonton that’s September to November; for Belgium and the rest of northern Europe, where this great sport began, it’s more of a November to February sport. The result is the potential of miserable weather. Why is that a good thing? Well, it makes things hard! Cold and wet sap determination. It makes the win go to the toughest competitor out there. If it’s hard, why do I love it? Probably for some of the same reasons that I’m signed up to tackle Ironman in August.
Maybe it’s the mud, or the bruises, maybe the beer, or the loose semblance of camaraderie. I think what it boils down to is that I feel more alive during a cross race than at just about any other time. Cyclocross is the most intense hour of effort, pain and joy I have ever encountered. I’m attracted to cross because I can put everything I’ve got on the line for 60 minutes, come out of it totally exhausted, covered in rain, mud and grime, perhaps with a trickle of blood running down somewhere, craving ibuprofen, blowing mud out of my nostrils, placing top 30 if I’m lucky, and loving every minute of it.
Kelly Hobkirk – 2008
Unlike road-racing where team-tactics play a huge role in competition, cyclocross is more of an individual sport. Co-operation on the course is a definite possibility but more often than not it’s co-operation with riders from another team. The main role of team-members is cheering when they’re not racing and maybe snapping some photos, that’s it. In that sense, everyone is on the same team. The pre-race course inspection and post-race random shenanigans are shared amongst the entirety of those assembled at the race. The event of cyclocross lasts more than the length of the race, it lasts the entire duration of the time spent at the park. Things like this would not at all be considered to be out of the ordinary:
One of the best things about cyclocross is the attitude. Gone is the testosterone-induced yelling and uber-competitiveness. Everyone seems to respect each other, no matter how talented or strong or skilled they are. Everyone cheers for everyone.
I made a tyre swap on my fixed gear commuting bike yesterday in preparation for winter which is due to arrive any day now. Autumn is still cruising along in Edmonton but the leaves are mostly gone and we’ll have to give up on pretending that it’s still fall when things turn white.
I swapped my old chain off for a new one as I had stretched the old one by 3.5% or so. If you’re not familiar the rule of thumb is that you’re supposed to replace it around 1% I think. An eighth of an inch over a foot. 1/(8*12)~1% it was making quite a bt of noise due to being too long and not fitting well on the front chainring. I also slapped on the winter tyres which are 34mm front and 36 mm rear. I’ve a sweet c-cross front tyre that runs between 60 and 90 psi with loads of little knobbies. It’s quite fun and at 80 psi makes a sweet hum as I fly down the pavement. I also swapped gears for winter and am running 48×20 instead of 48×17 which was my summertime gear.
I also caught wind of a funny product out of Denmark to make cyclists appear a bit more fashionable. I would wear one if I had it but I don’t think a third helmet acquisition is necessary in 2008, plus I’m sure they’re not cheap.
Other news is that I’ve been in the pool 3 days in a row totaling up to 5 kms which is pretty amazing progress for the shoulder. It’s nice and tired after about 30-40 minutes in the pool. I skip doing the physio exercises when I’ve swum, I think it can only take one workout a day.