Riding longer, riding lighter

What a day yesterday. I rode my usual ride to work (17.5 miles) but joined some folks from our company team at 5PM for what was said to be a ride of “about 20 miles.” I was a tad concerned at being out classed by my fellow riders and those concerns were justified.

I knew I was out-classed and had no idea that the supposedly 20 mile jaunt was in fact much longer: a trek from Sunnyvale to the Los Altos Hills as far up as Hwy 280 and then back down along Foothill Expressway, then back to Sunnyvale via Mountain View’s Castro St. district.

On the flats, I’m only slightly behind most other riders, at least the majority of the time. But on the hills I lag big time; somewhat because I don’t have years of leg development and somewhat because I’m still carrying at least 30 pounds of “extra weight” that the super-fit-folks don’t have carry. I also don’t stand up to blast up the hills at full leg-burning power, but rather I just drop a few gears, maintain pedaling cadence and whatever speed I go is the speed I go. The team was exceptionally gracious allowing me and another slower rider to lag.

Scary moment of the ride: A lady in a minivan made a right turn in front of me. “WATCH OUT!!!!” I yelled. I so did no want to get hit. Pissed off and afraid, I stuck my foot out to either push off her fender or simply kick it — which, I didn’t care — but in either case it would prevent my left leg from been sheared across her fender. Let’s just say my foot impacted her fender pretty good, letting out a loud clunk that everyone in the baseball park (into which she was turning) heard.

By the time I got back to work it was 30 miles total and was already 7PM. Even though I was tired from trying to keep up with everyone, I decided to re-fill my water bottles, grab my backpack and ride home (another 17.5 miles), hoping to make it home in the hour of light I had left for the day. My need for accomplishment and hatred of all things wimpy precluded the tempting option of taking the light rail home.

Commute + team ride = 65 miles for the day. Not bad. Welcome to my new Wednesdays!

I weighed in at 215 lbs. this morning, the best I’ve been in at least 5 years. While I won’t make the 200 mark by the Tour de Cure ride in two weeks, I can likely come in under 210 by then.

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Roubaix Rocks

The new bike is awesome! Cruising at 18-22 MPH is exhilarating compared to poking along at 14-16 MPH on my urban bomber. Those skinny little tires pumped up to a rock-hard 120psi make for near zero rolling resistance.

Alas, the downside of riding thin race tires became poignantly clear this morning as a small (perhaps 3mm) shard of glass seems to have punctured the rear tire about a mile away from work. I ended up riding into work standing and leaning over the bars to put my weight on the front tire. Maybe I need to upgrade to Slime Tubes, which would have automatically sealed the leak.

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Roubaix on the way

I decided to take the plunge an order a road bike: Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple. My local bike shop, Wheel Away Cycle Center in Campbell, only had the charcoal, but I wanted the red:

It should be here early next week!

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Reloading your JavaScript without reloading your page

Maybe you’re like me and develop your JavaScript with an endless cycle of “edit… save… refresh” to see/test the results. This gets pretty tiring if you’re having to fill in a form or wait for a complicated page to load up each time! I thought, “Why can’t I just save the JavaScript and use it without having to reload the browser window? Can’t it just replace it in memory… live?”  Yes, it can.  Here’s how to do it.

Continue reading

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Cycling Milestone

Weekends are, of course, my “big ride” days, building for the 2009 Tour de Cure on June 14.  On Saturday morning I met with a dozen or so other riders from company team to head out for what was supposed to be a 30 mile ride. But as I feared, they were almost all skinny road racer types on serious road bikes. I, of course, brought my bomber: a beefy Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc mountain bike outfitted for rough urban commuting, weighing in at a hefty 32 lbs unloaded (about twice what a road racer weighs).  I kept up, but only as they were warming up and hitting stop lights. Then they left me in the dust some 6 miles into the ride when the road opened up.

So I went it alone for the day (as I suspected I would) and headed from Sunnyvale, up to Palo Alto, up Alpine climb into Portola Valley, down and over to Woodside (think Hwy 84) and  back into Palo Alto.  My goal was to put in 40 miles – a lot considering the hills – but I got lost in Mountain View and ended riding a full 50 miles by the time I got back to my car in Sunnyvale!  Though my original goal was to ride 50 miles two weeks before the event, I’m already able to do so; a full 5 weeks before the event. This puts me three weeks ahead on my training schedule.

But it’s also become clear that if I want to put in serious miles and not feel like I’m fighting my bike, I need to get a serious road bike. I now feel like I’m ready for that level of bike. It’s not what I’d intended on spending my money, but it’s increasingly needed since I’m not going to give up cycling.

The tour has also challenged me to such an extent that I’ll probably continue riding in similar events for personal achievement, motivation and it’s good to raise a little money for good causes.

(NOTE: This is really a current cycling milestone for me. I was into cycling in high school and once rode a record 86 miles when I was 16 and did so also on a mountain bike.)

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Tour de Cure: 10 weeks and 23 pounds away

As many of you know, I’m now on the hook to ride the 75K/50Mi route of 2009 Silicon Valley Tour de Cure on Sunday, June 14, 2009.  Since I took the winter off from riding, I’m seriously out of shape and still well above the weight I’d like to be, with barely 10 weeks to go. I would like to be under 200lbs. by the event, or as close as I can get.  (I haven’t weighted under 200 since 1995). I’m under the gun and that’s how I work best.

For training, my weekly goals are:

  • Mon-Thurs: Ride to work (38mi round trip) two days
  • Saturday: Ride 5 miles further than the week prior;
  • Lose at least two pounds;

Initially I will just ride portions of the 50 mi. Tour de Cure circuit, increasing my training route distance each week.  On Saturday, May 30, and again in Saturday, June 6, I need to ride the complete circuit to be assured that I’m really read to hit the hills with the team.

The 50mi. route — which I consider grueling and full of hills by my amateur standards — maps out as follows:

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MSO-BIDI meaning

For those not familiar with working with Cascading Style Sheets for use by Microsoft Office product, some of the rules of the road can prove cryptic at best.  Case in point is the ” series of embedded styles.  These can sometimes appear to conflict with other styles in the same declaration, for example:

<span style='font-size:11.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;color:navy'>

The font-size is a standard CSS declaration, but the next declaration is particular to Microsoft:

The “mso” part is, of course, the abbreviation for Microsoft Office (since Microsoft almost always abbreviates its name as “ms” in code).  But what does “bidi” mean?  I hunted everywhere, but had to resort to deep Googling to dig up the answer from the Windows Internet Explorer Blog. In a post dedicated to the issue of bidirectional text behavior in MSIE 6 vs. 7, the IE gurus explain:

When text is presented in horizontal lines, most scripts display characters from left to right. However, there are several languages (such as Arabic, Divehi, Hebrew and Syriac) where the natural ordering of horizontal text in display is right to left. Ambiguities can arise in determining the ordering of character display when text flows in two directions (hence Bidirectional) is present.

So the “bidi” means “bidirectional” and tells the Office-based application that declaration affects the display/print of bidirectional fonts, such as those for Arabic or Hebrew.

Therefore, the “mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt” declaration means “Microsoft Office Bidirectional Font Size:12 point ” style and allows the setting of a 12 point font size in the event of a bidirectional font appearing within the bounds of the declaration

Hopefully I just saved some of you a bit of Googling.

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Showcase of outstanding data representation at FlowingData.com

I can’t remember where I found it, but I ran across a fascinating time-based graphic depicting the growth of WalMart.

Ever since taking the “Presenting Data and Information” course from the venerable Edward Tufte, I’ve been interested in information and statistics presentation (eventually contributing my minoring in visual communications). Representing numbers and data visually is very hard, especially when the goal of visual presentation (i.e., to demonstrate how the data relates to itself) often gets lost in our desire for glitzy over-production of whiz-bang PowerPoint.

So this brings us to the site FlowingData.com. Check it out, and don’t miss their 5 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year.

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Programmer food

OK, have to rebuild a ColdFusion 5 site for CF7 (convert modules to components. update HTML and CSS, blah blah). Yup, it’s late-night programming-o-rama for Phil.  There is only one approved food for midnight geeking…

Nachos Bel Grande a la Taco Bell.

Well, maybe not.  Wow. But still, I only do my best coding on the worse junk food. I’d have lost my career long ago if Hostess Donettes (chocolate of course) didn’t exist, but a box of Ding-Dongs will do a pinch.

A developer at work has a sign: “Programmer: An organism the converts caffeine into code.”  Yup.

I’m hittin’ da’ Bell.  G’nite all.

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