Sunday, January 28, 2007

Two Rides, Very Little Anatomy

On Friday, Deadhead rode 10 miles north from Loveland, met up with Howard, and together they rode 66 miles of mostly dry pavement, stopping only for spectacular views (see photo @ right), pizza, ice cream, and rest breaks -- all the essentials.

At that point, Howard limped home to bathe himself in Advil while Deadhead, who cycled 6,486 outdoor miles in 2006, continued south towards home, though not before adding a few more loops and twirls to complete the day's ride of 102 miles... on his 50th birthday! Howard's honored to have the opportunity to accompany Deadhead on such a major Day in the Life of a Grateful Dead Fan! Happy birthday once again, dooood!

After riding in 20-degree bone-chilling cold in December, Howard's best girl announced that she would never again ride in temps lower than her age. She finished the year with 3,504 miles.

So today, with the thermometer hovering at 36F, Howard convinced her to ride with him since she's younger than 36 [hack, cough]. Together they rode a Great Circle around Fort Collins -- distance: 25 miles. This was her first ride of 2007, and first ride since the New Rule. Note by the photo @ right that she wore her winter coat. She did exceptionally great. And she remembered what she loves most about cycling -- interesting snacks!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Anatomy of a Short Climb

Bingham Hill is a nice little two-part hill just northwest of Fort Collins and is very popular with bicyclists. The total climb to the top is 320 vertical feet over barely a mile (6% average grade) and the meatiest chunks of climbing are between 7% and 10%.

The starting point of the climb, as I typically ride it going west, is at the right of the map. The elevation graph reads left to right, opposite direction from the map, and shows two climbs with the highest peak at the one-mile mark.

Nearest the tops of the two ridges that form the Bingham Hill climb are a pair of 10% short stretches -- thankfully very short as the first 10% climb is only maybe 40 yards long and the second 10% climb is maybe 100 yards long. Not enough to make you hurt, but steep enough to let you know you've exerted yourself.

Here is a photo of the instrumentation on my Touring Beater during today's climb of Bingham Hill...

The red Schwinn computer in the middle shows my speed as 10.1 mph and the temperature as 50.8F. In actuality, the temps were around 40F, but since the computer was in the sun, it read higher.

To the left of that is my Timex heart rate monitor, which was a birthday gift a year ago from Second Son. It reads 166 beats per minute. That's well into the anaerobic zone, which for me is not sustainable for more than a few minutes.

To the right is an inclinometer which measures climbs and descents much the same as a carpenter's level with a little air bubble would indicate flatness... except this inclinometer is calibrated to show slope in terms of percentages. On flat stretches of road, the bubble fits snugly between the two zeros. On hills, you look at the top or bottom of the bubble depending on whether you're going uphill or down. Since the top of the bubble here is at 10, that means I was climbing a 10% grade, which explains the high heart rate and the low speed (at least it's low for me.) If the climb was longer, I would go even slower. A 10% grade is a very steep climb for bike, car, or pedestrian.

I shot the photo with my camera's lens set to Macro, which allows the camera to focus very close. Things away from a Macro lens appear to be much further away than they really are and they can be out of focus.

For example, you can see my seemingly small left shoe and the white stripe of the edge of the road. Note that I'm about 15 inches to the left of the white stripe because the road has no shoulder... nor any traffic, usually.

Finally, here is a photo at the top of Bingham Hill looking back east towards the cliff I just climbed. Notice that the road just disappears. That's because it's steep... at least a 10% cliff that I climb just about every other day. The Poudre valley where I started is visible beyond.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Chilly, Grim, & Somber -- Just Lucky, I Guess

Today's bike ride was 40.2 miles--my longest of the new year--due to temperatures in the low 40s--the warmest of the new year. I took a number of "mood" photos today. And though by the introductory sentence you might guess that the mood was happy, optimistic, and cheery, the photos came out chilly, grim, and somber. Just lucky as a photographer, I guess. After all, it is still only January -- barely one month into the winter season. As usual, click on the photos to enlarge and enliven them.

The Poudre River has escaped its icy tomb (as previously shown at this blog in photographs about a week ago.) And although I took many pictures today of the actual river water flowing and burbling merrily along, I chose to show this interesting ice crystal composition instead. I've never seen ice frozen quite like this before. While I was taking pictures, chunks of the frozen ice were calving back into the river much like a melting glacier sinks back into an ocean due to global warming... if you believe in that sort of stuff.

Okay, okay, here's a sort-of-picture of the Poudre River, but only hidden behind rusty railings and my Fuji Touring Beater, now protected by new fenders front and back. I love my new fenders. Gives the old Beater a sort of retro look that it deserves. They also keep things dry and clean.

Just a crumbling, dilapidated, abandoned house alongside a county road. Not a metaphor for our State of the Union. And definitely NOT one of my design masterpieces. Though that dangling window frame could inform my future work.

Turn-around point: A county road heading back to the northern edge of town, which is about 10 miles away. My home is another 10 miles beyond that. Remember: Total miles today -- 40.2.

Horses in corrals. Colorado horses. How can one tell they're Colorado horses? Extra robust, outdoorsy, and in good physical fitness.

Colorado trees. How can one tell they're Colorado trees? Extra robust, outdoorsy, and in good physical fitness. Also, they're in Colorado.

Colorado bicyclist. How can one tell he's a Colorado bicyclist? Extra robust, outdoorsy, and in good physical fitness. Also, he's a smart ass.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Global Warming's "Smoking Gun"

These opening sentences to the AP story on global warming should be alarming:
Human-caused global warming is here — visible in the air, water and melting ice — and is destined to get much worse in the future, an authoritative global scientific report will warn next week.

"The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said top U.S. climate scientist Jerry Mahlman, who reviewed all 1,600 pages of the first segment of a giant four-part report. "The evidence ... is compelling."

Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist and study co-author, went even further: "This isn't a smoking gun; climate is a batallion of intergalactic smoking missiles."

Global warming is "happening now, it's very obvious," said Mahlman, a former director of NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab who lives in Boulder, Colo. "When you look at the temperature of the Earth, it's pretty much a no-brainer."
The report will be given to governments next week to review "word-by-word", then will be released to the public on Feb. 2. To read the entire story, go here.

The $10 question for Tuesday night's State of the Union Address: Will he or won't he? The smart money says The Decider will talk about conservation measures, increased usage of ethanol, and perhaps slightly tweaking existing CAFE standards, acting like this rhetorical boldness and leadership will save the world. The smarter money says the words "global climate change" won't even cross his lips. What do you predict?

Update: The Decider actually used the words "global climate change," but in no context except to conclude his discussion on "energy independence." His exact words: "America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment — and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.
" Tepid applause before he immediately changed the subject. The Dems were probably stunned, the Repubs... also stunned, but for entirely different reasons. Everything else went as expected. Tepid.

My Next One...

If you ask any architect which project is his or her favorite one, he or she will always answer, "My next one." This architect is the same. He's working on two new house projects right now -- one is a modest addition to a modest house, the other is a new 2,600 sq. ft. w/unfinished basement custom contemporary home.

The "modest addition to the modest house" project is for an interesting Texas couple who plan to move to Colorado and live in the house for a year or more while a new and nice custom home is being designed (presumably by me) and built.

The new custom contemporary home is being designed in a more Scandinavian Modernist style with craftsman touches. The clients are a retired science professor and his wife, both of whom grew up in European countries, but worked and raised their family in the United States for most of their lives. They travel quite a bit so have retained their "international" sensibilities.

As for the project which has been the most gratifying, educational, and enjoyable of my completed projects so far, it would be the million-dollar house, of course. Since I never posted floor plans for those of you who like to look at such things, here you go. As usual, click on them to make them much larger:

The first floor, as with all three floors, is 1,200 sq. ft. It has a study, 1/2 bath, away room, kitchen w/large pantry, eating nook, family room, and a central circulation hallway/colonnade. It also includes a small deck in front and a very large deck on back. All floor materials on the first and second floors are either bamboo flooring or porcelain tile.

The second floor has three bedrooms including a master bedroom with walk-in closet, a master bathroom, laundry room, cedar closet, kids' playroom, two kids' bedrooms, and a common bathroom off the playroom and bedrooms. The master bedroom has a private deck. The kids' bedrooms have built-in dressers and window seats with storage under each seat.

The floors of the finished walk-out basement are sealed/stained concrete and the basement has a large game room, a guest bedroom w/walk-in closet, a dog room, a mud room with five built-in open lockers, a 3/4-bathroom, an exercise room, and ample storage and utility room. The house is connected via a breezeway to a 3-car garage on the same level, and there is an ample patio, pergola, built-in gas grill, and area for hot tub in back. All three floors have radiant floor heating and a central vacuum system.

My next new custom home project will be even better. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pictures from a Frosty Ride

Howard took this picture of the Poudre River (yes, there's a river under there) while hanging off a bicycle bridge.

People in wetter climates complain about the grit and grime and slime that gets caked to the undercarriage of their bikes, but since Colorado is relatively dry, we don't see so much of that. However, today's 28-mile ride in 25F degree temps took Howard through some messy, wet, and sloppy trails. Thoughtful as he can be, he took a picture so you could see. Note the studded tires as this is the Raleigh hybrid Ice Bike. Oh yeah, and Howard mounted the tires backwards. Both of them! So what?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Such a Nice Guy Chump

For the past four years since I opened up my own architecture firm [happy anniversary to me, BTW!], my firm's website has made the offer of a "free initial consultation" to introduce myself, meet the prospective client, and talk about "the process" of working with an architect to build or remodel a house.

The cynical among us might imagine that lots of people might try and take advantage of such a nice offer by meeting the architect, sucking his brains dry of ideas and recommendations, and then setting him loose without any intention of ever hiring him.

Unfortunately, those cynics would be right. But isn't this the price of doing business?

Well, yes and no. Because a lot of people with real projects want and need to meet a couple of architects before deciding whom to hire. And going through a couple of meetings with people who just want free advice from a licensed professional is worth it if it means meeting real homeowners with real projects who wish to hire an architect.

By the way, it's more than just a few. I've met over two dozen people who, in hindsight, never intended to hire me... or any other architect. They just wanted that free advice.

But if I devised a never-failed-me-yet system for determining the real project people from the free advisees, then how might I handle the meeting once I got 'em pegged? If the people are clearly in the latter category, can I find an excuse to cut the meeting short, shake their hands, and walk away? Or do I still answer all their questions, and be glad I got to get out of my office for an hour-and-a-half to meet some nice new people?

Here's the never-failed-me-yet system: The brain suckers don't really know what they want to do, and they're hoping I might offer wise, valuable, and free suggestions, as well as a road map to getting from where they are to... some place else. They've done no legwork and are all pretty much clueless. The worst offenders are those who are thinking of buying a house, and want me, the free architect, to come by and help them evaluate it "for future additions and renovations". They all say that, thinking I'll salivate at the possibilities.

The people with real projects who are looking for a real architect always have a clear idea what they want done and what their roles as owners in getting it done will be. They're just not so sure of the design process, construction milestones, and the architect's responsibilities in all that. For example, will I help them find a contractor? Yes. Will I help them with permitting and bidding and during construction? Yes. And what kind of phases or steps would we go through during design? Three -- schematic, design development, and CDs. If these questions come up, we have a real project on our hands. If the questions are more like, "what would you recommend we do with this kitchen?" then it's brain sucking time and I'll never hear from them again. Nor will I ever receive a dime from them.

My best girl thinks I should stop offering a free initial consultation. She may be right. As for those people who don't even own the home yet, I've learned to tell them right up front that I charge $75 an hour for that first meeting... because I secretly know I'll never hear from them again whether they buy the house or not. Only one person took me up on the offer. $75 later she bought the house. Then I never heard from her again. We both walked away happy.

I probably don't need to offer a free initial consultation anymore. I'm beginning to get recommended by past clients, a word-of-mouth reputation, as well as a couple repeat customers. So the work load is definitely picking up.

What do you think?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Rules Are Made to be Broken

The Rule used to be: No riding in temps below 20F degrees.

After four days of waiting for temperatures in Colorado to rise above 20F degrees (they never did), I finally realized that rules are meant to be broken. As much of a trouble-maker as I am, you'd think I might have figured that one out a bit earlier.

Swathed in new wool socks and new gloves, thanks to Christmas gift certificates to my local bike shop (LBS in the cycling lexicon), I set out on my studded-tire Ice Bike in 12F degrees of numbness and stupidity.

And thrived. No slips, no spills, no frostbike, though the fingertips complained at first, then the toes.

13 miles later, we have a new rule: Cyclists do desperate acts in desperate times. Yeah, that works for me. (Click on photos below to enlarge)

Here's a bike path bridge. Not yet plowed, though that didn't stop Howard -- you might make out his Ice Bike tracks.

Howard, swaddled in multiple layers, and his Raleigh hybrid Ice Bike at the confluence of the Spring Creek trail and the Poudre River trail. (The two rivers conflue as well.)

Here's a bit of the Poudre River. Kokopelli, the Hopi God of Music and Fertility, is visible in the shadows.

Finally, here's a larger view of the Poudre River. Still plenty of open water flowing. And ducks and geese are still in town, though they're laying low, accompanying the temperatures.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Wolf at Our Doorstep. Still.

The Guardian says that Bush is about to make an "historic" about-face on global warming later this month:
Bush and Blair held private talks on climate change before Christmas, and there is a feeling that the US President will now agree a cap on emissions in the US, meaning that, for the first time, American industry and consumers would be expected to start conserving energy and curbing pollution.

"We could now be seeing the beginning of a consensus on a post-Kyoto framework," said a source close to the prime minister. "President Bush is beginning to talk about more radical measures."

As Kevin Drum at Political Animal points out, "color me massively skeptical." After all, didn't Bush proclaim in last year's State of the Union Address that America was addicted to oil? And yet.... nothing happened.

Nice that this administration has decided to agree with international mainstream science after only six years. But since this is most likely a cynical political maneuver once again, how many times does Bush get to ignore half the real crises we face while crying wolf by not following through on the other half? And how many times will the American people/media keep falling for it?

First, they ignore. Then they embrace, but still ignore. Then it's too late, and the war expands to include Iran and Syria, and Jesus--who's chucked the title 'Prince of Peace' for the new title 'Prince of Pain'--has to come down from the heavens to gobsmack the heathens, and stuff like global warming never really mattered now, did it?

Run out the clock: That seems to be the script off which they're operating.

At least it sounds like the European Union will continue to take it seriously and make more progress...

Update: One day later, the White House denied the report, saying, "Global warming would be the best thing ever for the vacation industry. Can you imagine how great the cycling would be in places like the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana if it was warm and sunny there year-round? Hooey!" In follow-up polling, the cycling vote swung 13 points in Bush's favor.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

One Mile at a Time

People have asked me how I managed to rack up 8,000 miles in 2006. The answer? One mile at a time.

I started riding a bicycle again in October 2005, and since I kept a very meticulous spreadsheet of all my rides since then, I decided to put it all together into one nice month-by-month list at the end of this post.

As you might expect, the first three months were difficult and challenging. Panting and flop-sweat were the norm. As was bad weather. My average speed on the 40# Raleigh hybrid, when really pushing myself, was between 14 and 16 mph.

In early 2006, my mileage numbers began to increase, following my average speed, which now was 15 to 17 mph.

By late March, averaging 17 to 18 mph became the norm -- again, when really pushing myself. At that time, I started doing a lot more hill climbing. This reduced my average weekly mileage output and speed, but was essential in training for Ride the Rockies in June.

Since then, I can average 20 mph or faster on long rides if I really push myself. Usually I don't do so for such long periods of time. It hurts. The one exception was my Fort-2-Fort Century in November where I rode 100 miles in 5 hours at 20 mph. Instead, I typically do interval training, which consists of two- or three-minute sprints followed by three or four minutes of basic rolling, and then another sprint. Oh yeah, and lots of climbing when weather is good.

Yesterday, I found myself 11 miles away from home with the sun setting in five minutes. I kicked myself good and hard, then turned around for home. I figured I could get home in 20 minutes if I sprinted the whole way back. I pushed harder on a ride than I have in a while, but it took me 25 minutes, so I was left wondering why it took lon
ger than expected. Then I realized that I had miscalculated -- it really should have taken me 30 minutes at something over 20 mph. So doing it in 25 minutes felt pretty good after all!

Here's the month-by-month listing of miles, and also a week-by-week bar chart (by popular demand -- see comments). To read the chart: miles ridden to the left, days at bottom.The biggest week was Ride the Rockies in June 2006, followed a month later by Tour de Wyoming:

2005 - 802 miles
Oct. - 245 miles
Nov. - 292 miles
Dec. - 265 miles

2006 - 8,000 miles
Jan. - 462 miles
Feb. - 339 miles
Mar. - 454 miles
Apr. - 609 miles
May - 681 miles
Jun. - 828 miles
Jul. - 744 miles
Aug. - 566 miles
Sep. - 817 miles
Oct. - 727 miles
Nov. - 1,027 miles
Dec. - 744 miles

2007 - Goal of 8,000 miles
Jan. - 205 miles (so far as of the 10th)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Posted Without Comment (well, small ones)




Just received these four pictures via second son. They HAVE to be fakes, right? Nobody could be this nuts, right? Note the copyright by Victor Lucas 2006. That's why Howard is convinced they are REAL. Professional photographers don't cheat. Click on them to make them scary big. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Update: Here's a link to more photos and a narrative of the adventure. Turns out the pictures are quite real. (My best girl can hardly look at them.) They were taken at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. One of the riders wrote, "
Locals warned us of the upward drafts that blow people off the cliffs - and sure enough the wind was picking up over night. We got an early start, and even the extra strong Italian coffee I brewed couldn't clear our heads. Even though the conditions and weather were less than good, this was our one and only chance to ride the cliffs, so we did. It was a rad feeling to ride along the exposed edges and jump over some of the gaps. As time went on we started to feel more and more comfortable and daring..."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Why Howard Loves Cycling

1. Benefits to aerobic fitness
2. Aids weight loss/can eat more candy
3. Fun, fun, fun, and funner fun
4. Environmental concerns & green miles
5. Cheap transportation
6. Meet more interesting people on bikes than in cars
7. More acute physical connection to surroundings
8. Billion Chinese can't be wrong
9. Satisfies competitive desires at times they need to be quenched
10. Mentally relaxing and distracting
11. Doing something that two years ago thought impossible (ride 8,000 miles)
12. Doing something that nearly everyone else thinks impossible (ride 8,000 miles)
13. Like bragging about it on BikeJournal, catching flak, and rhetorically jousting
14. Annual drop in car's mileage from 3,000 miles a month to 300 miles a month
15. Something else to write about on the blog
16. Shlepped ice bike to Estes Park at Christmas and rode. Worth the reactions.
17. Wind in the helmet hair, bugs in the teeth
18. Climbing big monster hills.... only afterwards, actually
19. Planning next purchase at Performance Bicycles
20. Eating GU, Clif Bloks, and Sports Beans
21. Ice Biking rocks!
22. Something wonderful to share with my best girl

Howard could go on and on and on (your greatest fear, right?)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Howard's Masterpiece is Days Away

Adequate melting and snow removal on major streets allowed Howard to ride his bike to the million-dollar house today. He rode through 30F degree temps to take a bunch more photos before move-in day, which is now Thursday. Clean up is not finished yet (scheduled for tomorrow), so some of the floors and counters still need to be cleaned. Exterior photos coming in a day or two. As usual, click on any of the photos to see them larger.

The breezeway connecting the walk-out basement to the garage is being framed. Also, the pergola will be constructed to the left of these beams. Lots more cedar to come.

The colonnade through the house from the front door, beyond. Check out the bamboo floors.

The away/dining room.

The family room with plasma TV inside entertainment center (trust Howard, it's in there.)

The kitchen and eating nook.

The kitchen.

The laundry room with front-loading washer and dryer.

The vanity, sink, and mirror in the kids' bathroom. Glass block window to the left. The interesting tile pattern lining the bath/shower is visible in the mirror to the right.

One of the kids' bedrooms with the other visible through the play room. Beautiful bamboo floors.

The tub in the master bathroom lined with slate and a bit of a vanity and sink. Nearly all of the master bathroom light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, and accessories such as towel rods and robe hooks have a nickel finish. The door and cabinet hardware is still dark bronze. Don't ask Howard why.

The shower in the master bathroom, also lined with slate. Check out that nickel-finished showerhead!

The dog room with dutch door, floorsink, and stained concrete floors.

The guest bathroom in the walk-out basement. The shower, not visible, is lined with slate, so slate was also used as a backsplash.