Sunday Bikes 10/15/2017
Stella and I got out to Pocahontas State Park with Adam and Kaden for another crack at the Blueberry Hill Trail. Luckily, the rain we had during the week didn’t keep us off of the trail. It probably even helped a little bit since things had gotten sandy in the couple of weeks without rain.
This is the 4th(?) time we’ve been on Blueberry Hill and I think Stella’s getting the hang of it. In fact, she did such a good job there wasn’t a photo break. It is rated as an Easy trail in the park guide so there are very few technical (rocky or rooty) sections and none of the climbs/descents are too steep. It’s a fun ride for me, too, since I’m pretty damn far from cycling fitness.
Stella has started Nutcracker rehearsals so I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep riding on days she has to dance. She’s also a bit of a chicken about the cold, so she might not be on too much until the Spring. Luckily Adam got a new bike so there should at least be plenty of dad rides through the winter.
Stella has been working me to get out on the bike with her for months. I have been out of the bike riding mode for the last couple of years and, honestly, the couple of times she and I have been on the road for rides it has been way too stressful. On a lark, we took our bikes out to Pocahontas State Park to see how riding on some fire road trails would pan out and it ended up being a great time.
This is us on our first ride at the park. Fire road trails are wide open and multi-use so we saw joggers and hikers out there, too. The climbing was never steep and it didn’t go on very long, despite being marked as “moderate” difficulty. We got a little turned around and had to ride on the park road to get back to our car but it was still fun.
Our next time out we went with some friends. This was an “easy” difficulty single track trail called Blueberry Hill at Pocahontas State Park and Stella struggled a little bit. The climbs were short and never steep, but the lack of bailout room had Stella being extra tentative. It also raised the stress level for me because I really didn’t want to watch her take a dip off of the track into a tree. She had just a few slow-speed crashes and, as evidenced in the above photo, finished with a smile. We’ve been out to PSP a couple of times with this group and it’s been a lot of fun.
Stella and I took a Labor Day ride down to the James River Park System for some easy loops around Belle Isle. A sunny holiday meant that the place was packed but it was good practice for Stella’s share-the-road skills. That’s a photo of us on the rocks at the river. After a couple of laps around the island, we took off down the Richmond Slave Trail and Kanawha Canal. It was mostly riding on paved multi-use trail. Easy stuff and a good time.
I had heard of a downtown trail called the “Poop Loop” for it’s proximity to Richmond’s water treatment facility. The Loop is just under 2 miles long and sits at the far end of the Slave Trail. It was described as a good place for new riders to work on mountain bike skills, so we were stoked to get on it. Turns out, Stella needs some more seasoning before she can qualify as a “new rider”. It’s a pretty technical trail (meaning lots of roots and rocks with occasional felled trees) that had her super gun-shy by the end. It was not ideal, but she toughed it out. She’s no quitter.
Our most recent rise was new-to-us trail at PSP call Box Turtle. It was rated “easy”, but I am starting to think these rating are more about grade and less about trail obstructions. The roots and rocks here weren’t as bad as they were on the Poop Loop, but she was still reeling a bit from that misadventure and so was quick to dismount some rideable sections. She’ll come around, I’m sure.
And that catches us up to date. I’ll be sure and post up after our next ride.
Ain’t she a beaut? I’ve been bringing this Zojirushi 12oz stainless travel mug/thermos to work every day for the last couple of years. It’s the same size as a Tall from Starbucks but I can enjoy it for an hour if I just have a couple of hot ounces at a time.
We’ve had a couple of different Zojirushi products over the years and they’ve been useful and durable. The cute elephant logo is a nice bonus:
I went to the movies by myself over the holiday and saw Baby Driver, the new bank heist/car chase movie from Edgar Wright. I loved it and, without any spoilers, these are some the reasons why:
- The Music – Have Mercy! The soundtrack for this movie is so great. There is a Spotify playlist of the songs that I’ve been listening to non-stop. The way it is used in the movie is smart, too. I stuck around through the credits and saw that Kid Koala made all of Baby’s tape remixes. He’s an excellent DJ you should check out if you haven’t heard of him.
- The Driving – I’m a big fan of the Ken Block-style Gymkhana stunt driving videos and the car chases in Baby Driver are directly influenced by them. All of that crazy drifting and hand brake skidding is fun to watch.
- The Edgar Wright Stuff – Edgar Wright makes cool-looking movies that have lots of little treats for attentive viewers. His Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy is stuffed with signature scenes and moments that tie the whole thing together. It’s clever film making and I was ready to see what would be in Baby Driver. I noticed:
- the lyrics to the opening song show up as graffiti and on pasted-flyers in the background as Baby is walking to work
- the gunshots in the numerous firefights all seemed to be on the beat of the song that was playing at the time (this made a neat effect)
- the music in the film is just a little bit louder than you normally hear soundtracks in other movies (which I think is a nod to Baby’s tinnitus)
I’m recommending this movie to everyone who will listen. It’s a near-perfect summer movie.
2017 RVA Open
This was my first weightlifting meet and I’m willing to call it a success. I finished third in my age/weight bracket (earning a swanky bronze medal), I completed all six of my lifts successfully (with two new PRs), and I had a good time doing it. I will break it down GoW-style.
- Singlet fit
- new PRs (164kg total)
- Solid hangs with Joe and Cy and Swolenik
- Getting coached up
- A bronze medal that looks like it could be on a real podium somewhere
- 8am session start
- Shirtless post-session cryotherapy (don’t ask)
To add a little color, I’ve been way, way overweight the last year or two. I’m mentally chalking it up to wanting mass for powerlifting, but really I just like not paying attention to what I eat and drink. I’m working to fix that now. It is def. work. I’m a big, big fan of “play”, and I *loooove* playing team sports. It was cool to hang with the team in my session and I’m double-especially looking forward to training with them over the next couple of months. Getting active input from a vested coach was really great. I trust Chris Lawyer to put me in a position to succeed. He does good work.
The negatives from the meet were minimal. Since I’m a new lifter with a relatively low projected total in my first meet, I was seeded in the first session. 8am Saturday start time means a 6-8am weigh-in window. I’m not the worst about getting up in the morning, but this was a bit much for a Saturday. Once we got to the lifting, I was more nervous than I expected. Chris was there with a “hey have a seat and lower your heartrate”; (which is just one example of how an experienced coach can make a big difference at a meet), and I chilled out.
My plan, and I realize that naming the plan dooms the plan, is to get on a weightlifting track through the rest of 2017. There should be 2-3 more meets on the calendar and I’d like to get close to 200kg with my total. I think I have room to grow to that number.
Holy crow, it’s already June! Seems like a reasonable time to share my 1st Quarter Spotify playlist.
Per usual, it’s a big bucket of songs that I really enjoyed. Some are new, some are old, all of them treated me the right way.
I had a killer TypeShift Daily Puzzle streak going, like 22 days, and then I lost track of it over the long weekend.
I guess it’s cool that I wasn’t buried in my phone over the holiday?
Still definitely recommend the game. It scratches the crossword puzzle itch just enough.
I hemmed and hawed and overshopped for months before spending a couple of bucks on a refurb Das Keyboard. It is a sturdy keyboard, no doubt, and I was really enjoying it. And then one night I splashed some beer into it while podcast recording. It appeared to kill a couple of the switches and gum up a couple of others. It was a bummer. I took the keyboard apart to clean what I could, but if didn’t make a difference. The non-responsive keys remained non-responsive, even after a couple of days of drying out.
I kept the keycaps I pulled and put the whole thing off to the side to try to figure something out.
The internet suggested that there was no way to bring it back. Any liquid that got to the switched would end up causing corrosion in the underlying board.
Today, after probably six months of looking at the loose keycaps and lamenting the loss, I plugged the old horse in to see if maybe it just needed to dry up completely. And now it works! The left Shift key is still a little sluggish, but I am more than capable of powering through that.
Now I need to unlearn all of the Windows-keyboard habits I had picked up. It’s a little weird having a proper Command key.
When I am driving with Michelle and listening to the radio it’s almost exclusively the classic rock station here in town. We’ll occasionally debate whether the song playing is “real” classic rock or not. It’s lead to some fun conversations. Since I hate commercials (as well as a handful of bands/songs that always seem to be in heavy rotation) I wanted to do an Andy-from-WKRP impression and program my own station. Besides songs that are obvious choices (i.e. any Zeppelin or AC/DC) I have pet songs that I love and others that I do not. I swear, if I could listen to the goddamn radio for 20 minutes without hearing Pink Floyd it would be a minor miracle.
I started a Classic Rock playlist on Spotify to solve my Classic Rock Radio problem. The list was good, but it wasn’t as long I wanted it to be so I started thinking and talking (and talking) about what makes a classic rock song “classic rock” in an effort to dig up more examples and to find songs I had forgotten.
I started with some firm rules about what I don’t want to hear:
In the current playlist version (101 songs, 7hr 21mins) there are a few common denominators:
- songs need a guitar solo (“Gimme Three Steps“)
- bands harmonizing in the chorus (“Juke Box Hero“)
- My list seems to really be skewing Southern Rock, which makes sense since I grew up in Virginia. (“Black Water“)
- I think I might have an anti-ballad bias.
One thing that kept coming up was the age of the song determining it’s “classic” credentials. I disagree because there are definitely modern (non-60’s/70’s) songs that I think qualify. “The Bucket” by Kings of Leon is what started this whole thing. Michelle and I were practically impressed that a song from the 21st century was such a great Classic Rock example.
Bands and songs that didn’t make the cut:
- “She’s A Beauty” by The Tubes.
It’s got some of the classic features (guitar solo, band harmonizing in the chorus) but there is a lot of 80’s radio influence (synths, mid-tempo softness), too.
- “What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers.
This one crosses over into Yacht Rock for me. I think it’s all of the Michael McDonald. There are some great pop songs in that vein, but I don’t know that they’re classic rock. I feel like there needs to be at least 2 degrees of separation from Toto.
- “Peg” by Steely Dan.
It’s a great song and a terrific example of what I meant when I was wondering if my list was too Southern Rock influenced. Peg sounds almost like Disco. It does get major bonus points for being a 3 Feet High and Rising sample.
- “Rocket Queen” by Guns N’ Roses. Great song, but this is metal. (“Paradise City” is 100% classic rock, though, and is 100% in that playlist. Go figure.)
- I don’t have any Metallica in there. I think everything before the Black Album is way more metal than classic rock so I don’t know that any of it fits.
- I struggle with the Eagles, too. Don Henley is such a twat that it’s made it hard for me to enjoy them. “Life In the Fast Lane” and “Witchy Woman” are on the list. I like those songs more than I dislike Don Henley.
Funnily enough, after spending momths talking about it and weeks building the playlist, I had satisfied my appetite for Classic Rock so I didn’t spend much time listening to the playlist I built. It’s there for me when I want it now, which is really all I wanted in the first place.