Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The positive side of averages

Statistics generally annoy me as they are often used by people with an agenda. Sometimes fairly, sometimes downright fraudulently, which might only be noted by a good statistician, a set that does not include me.

Averages are something I pay a lot of attention to, particularly this time of year, specifically, average temperatures.

The month of December was a good example. I spent a fair amount of time riding in colder than average weather, and lamenting that it "should" be 54.6 degrees today, but instead it is only 41. What the hell? Now, I realize what the average is but after what seemed like day after day of below average temps, I found myself thrilled by a recent upswing towards temperatures only SLIGHTLY below average, and now, above average temperatures. And not just a few degrees above, but double digits. It is about time. Riding in the dark is getting old about now, but being able to not dress like Ralph's little brother in The Christmas Story before a ride (certain smartassed people like to comment that I seem to spend more time getting ready to ride than actually riding my bike) is a major consolation. Especially in January.

We are at/approaching the point where the average temps start to trend upwared, which is cause for hope in itself:

So heres to a week of temperatures approaching to above 70...this is a winter respite I can smile about. Or perhaps I should simply smile about Texas winter vs. a winter in the northeast US? Probably...

Monday, January 18, 2010


This past weekend was the Texas State Championship weekend for cyclocross.

As some would put it, the sandbagger's cup. CX has a knack for bringing out the accusation of sandbagging better than possibly any cycling discipline.
This year was no different, if you followed any of the chatter on the txbra.org cyclocross forum. Not bad compared with other regions really.

It got me thinking about this topic once again. What defines sandbagging?
At what point should one move up? If you consistently win or finish in the upper echelon at a given level, then you should move up, right? Seems simple, but it isn't apparently so. Winning is pretty straightforward. So if you rack up a couple wins in a season, at what point do you move up? Should you move up for the last race if it is the State Championship, or stik it out for one more?

I don't know...there are a lot of variables, and fortunately for me, this is only an indirect issue, but it is of interest to me as I want to see this facet prosper, and not see people discouraged by others.

What would make you move up?

Personnally, I have moved up classes without ever racking up a single win, just knew I was consistently in a dominant position and capable of racing at the next level. And that doesn't mean jumping up and immediately vying for podium positions. If that is your philosphy than I can probably safely proclaim you are a sandbagger.
Some can do it, most won't. So what does it require...consistent top 5 finishes...top 3...top 6...??? Sometimes points dictate the progression, but in reality, there is nothing really pushing someone to move, other than the occasional peer pressure or personal desire.

In the end, it is a hobby, and if you race you should be doing it for a challenge. Guess that is where it gets sticky, in what we each consider a "challenge".

Ah well, now on to road season, where the issue of sandbagging doesn't EVER rear it's ugly head. Ever.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday night in January

It was nice to see the sun and actually feel some warmer temperatures today.

Went out for a ride after work on the road bike (which has been collecting dust lately) and was surprised how quickly it cooled off. Thankfully it was one of those rare calm nights so I didn't have to factor in the windchill.
Definitely better off than my brothers and sisters back east who are still in the icebox. Good news is this "warmer" weather is headed your way...I think.

This time of year gets monotonous. Seems like the best weather is always during the week, and of course my daylight riding options are Sat/Sunday. During the week it is riding in the dark. Which gets old. I tell myself these are the training rides that count, so I can maximize the enjoyment on the fun rides when I have daylight and/or warmer temps. Then I wonder if I am simply an idiot.

Cross State Championships are this weekend and I am feeling strangely unmotivated. maybe its the wide range of distractions that have been...distracting me lately. Already skipped the Houston weekend because I was too lazy to drive down south. Felt bad not supporting those guys, they seem to be a good crew. Hope their turnout was good.
Maybe I just don't feel like spending another weekend riding my bike as fast as I can while trying not to throw up on myself? Naw...that never gets old. Think it is just a case of the Januaries.

And to think, the Texas road racing season kicks off in a few weeks. I love the road racing but that is too damn early for my cold hating skinny butt. Nothing like huddling in a pack for 70 miles dying a dozen deaths because you have:
a) overdressed
b) underdressed
c) undertrained
d) spent the whole race in the pack doing no work and thus freezing (see option b)
e) combination of the above

Yes, I would rather spend 3 hours racing in 100 degree heat, trying to stay hydrated. Bring on summer.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year, new post

So it has been a while since I posted anything, not for lack of good stuff to write about, just lack of time and (mostly) initiative.

This has been an interesting December with a couple notable snowfalls and generally cool temperatures, cooler than normal according to the weather data sites.

I don't like being cold, but have this thing where I always make an effort to ride in the really nasty stuff, at least a couple times a year. They help make the typically cold rides seem like nothing. Or a little more easier to deal with psychologically...so I tell myself.

So far I have ridden in the snow three times now. Christmas Eve was particularly notable with blizzard-like conditions. I donned several layers, including the totally awesome Craft windstopper top and shorts (these things really neutralize the wind like nothing else, and aren't bulky at all) and ventured out towards the Trinity River paths to see what the world looked like. Windy and white. I headed south with a strong mostly cross, slightly head wind.
I had waited to venture out until the temps had dropped to about the freezing point, hoping to ride on snow covered ground and avoid as much slop. The gravel path of the trail was snow covered and made for cleaner riding indeed. Gradually, I lost function of the bicycle, first the rear derailleur, then the front brake, then the back brake.

This definitely made things interesting, especially with the wind grabbing the front wheel and threatening to push me over at times.
Not surprisingly, it was quiet and lonely on the path.

I passed one walker. I did note some faint tracks from another cyclist who had been out at some point earlier. I wondered if they chose this out of necessity or like me, out of sheer entertainment.

The snow continued to fall and drifts began to build, creating a unique scene I wouldn't have expected in the metroplex, but knowing it would be brief, enjoyed for the moment.

The moment of enjoyment was brief, as my extremities reminded me that I was beginning to freeze my ass of, and a retreat home where warmer temperatures and a variety of alcohol laced beverages waited to help warm me.

So I bolted. Defrosted. Imbibed. Further enjoyed. Happy new year.