Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Anaheim to San Diego

Amber and I parked at Anaheim Amtrak station on Saturday and rode down the SART to PCH and thence down to San Diego Amtrak station.

I've been riding in SoCal for 20 years and the prevailing wind is always from the North except during a Santa Ana wind event or when a storm is coming in. However the wind has been coming out of the South for the past two months. I'm going to have to reorganize my rides so that I ride North whenever possible. We have 10-15 mph winds out of the South all day so we had to deal with headwind for the entire 107 miles of the ride. Oh well - builds character, right?

PCH was very busy with cyclists - much more so than usual. While Amber and I were eating lunch at the Carl's Jr in San Clemente we had a total of 30 or so riders in several groups show up. We detoured onto Vulcan through Ensenada and Leucadia to avoid that dangerous section of PCH and it was much better.

Torrey Pines was easier than usual, I'm not really sure why. We passed a young lady clearly struggling who had passed us earlier. I think she was bonking but when I asked her she said she was fine. I still think she was bonking.

I had designed a route between Ojai and San Diego that used a lot of bike paths but they were largely unusable because they were clogged with pedestrians. I despair of finding a good route across San Diego.

I've been looking at the possibility of riding Santiago Canyon and the Alisal Creek Bike trail to Laguna Miguel and then finishing the ride at Solano Beach. It gives us 96 miles and cuts out Laguna Beach and San Diego. It might be a good winter ride.

Caltrans was up to their usual tricks. The 10/215 SB interchange was closed (at least they provided a sign). Also the 91/57 NB was closed with no sign until the very last moment so everyone was forced to go south. On the way back the 215/10 EB ramp was closed with no notice. If I was Governor I would half their budget and tell them that drivers and their customers and should be treated as such. No real corporation could get away with treating their customers like shit.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reductio ad absurdum

This has nothing to do with cycling - it's just an observation on my work environment. I don't know if this phenomenon is related solely to government work, or if it occurs everywhere.

There is a philosophical method called Reductio ad absurdum which is used to demonstrate that a statement is incorrect. It involves showing that the logical conclusions of the statement are absurd or undesirable in some way. For example, we might see the following conversation in a design committee for accounting software.

User: I'd like to add a feature that allows us to attach video files to purchase orders.
Dev: Why?

User: It might be useful for something.
Dev: It will cost 100 hours of programming, 100 hours of testing, consume 50% of our network capacity, and require us to purchase $10,000 of extra disc space.

User: Oh, maybe we don't need that then.

Unfortunately, not everyone has heard of this concept so I am regularly witness to conversations like the following.

User: I'd like to add a feature that allows us to attach video files to purchase orders.
Dev: Why?

User: It might be useful for something.
Dev: It will cost 100 hours of programming, 100 hours of testing, consume 50% of our network capacity, and require us to purchase $10,000 of extra disc space.

User: OK according to my notes the backup system will take 100 hours of programming and testing. We don't really need backups do we?
Dev: (sarcastic) Not until the system crashes.

User: Great. And the email system uses 50% of our network traffic, right? So why can't we just pass notes around like we used to?
Dev: (sarcastic again) I can't believe I didn't think of that.

User: And we can fire a teacher's assistant to save the money for the disk space. See - we can do anything we set our minds to.
Dev: I give up.

And that's how decisions are made in government.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day

I went running again for the first time in two months on Wednesday. I overdid it, of course, running 2.5 miles and walking 2.5 miles. My quads were killing me but I rode a 100k perm Friday night. By the time Father's day came around I was sorer that kangaroo hopping a marathon. Amber and I rode The Crema which might have been a mistake because there was a 90 minute wait to get in. You can only kill so much time on the pier.

Turns out we couldn't even kill that much time because the end of the pier is closed due to the restaurant at the end losing its lease. There talk that another restaurant will be picking up the lease on July 15th which will be nice. While we were waiting we fell talking with a chap who was waiting for his honey and we thought it would be great to have a smartphone app that could track your position in the wait list. It turns out someone already thought of that. Drat, now I have to find another project.

Amber paid for lunch - happy Father's Day :-)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tour of Orange County Bikepaths

I hosted the Tour of Orange County Bikepaths 200k brevet on Saturday. It's a quirky ride with a ferry ride and a control at a Biker Bar. I had ten riders and most of us stayed in touch for most of the ride - semi-audax style :-)

Willie Hunt rode over from his house in his yellow submarine, as did Martins Zinbergs on his bamboo Calfee. The ride started nice and cool and headed to the coast for the first 80 miles where it was overcast and with an unusual Southern wind. The sun didn't come out until we headed inland and finally broke through around 1pm at mile 90.

The climb up towards Cook's Corner Biker Bar was hot and the place was packed with bikers. But the food was awesome. Finishing the climb to the top of Santiago Canyon was tough with 90F temps and a belly full of burgers. I stopped at a coffee shop at the last control and had a fantastic blueberry iced coffee. We had a tailwind to the end.

I finished in exactly 10 hours - my target speed. Most of the group finished 10 minutes earlier and Martins finished eight minutes behind me.

Overall a good ride. No-one got horribly lost, the heat didn't get as bad as predicted, and lots of people learned lots of new bike paths.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I really hate Caltrans

I had a good idea for beating the heat on Saturday. It was over 100 in the valley, Amber was working Friday night so she couldn't ride Saturday, and Sherry and I were scheduled to attend a 'Celibration of Life' event on Sunday so when could I ride? I called Amber at 4pm on Saturday to ask if she wanted to ride The Crema starting at 6 in the evening? Sure.

We met at the Anaheim Amtrak station which kind of shares a parking lot with the Angel's baseball stadium. They had an evening game so it was a bit crowded but we found parking spaces anyway. It was 71F at the start - perfect - but I was a little worried that I was under dressed for when the sun went down.

We had the usual headwind down to the beach and then a tailwind up the coast to Seal Beach. The Crema closes early so we ate at a Mediterranean restaurant called 'Athens West'. It wasn't as good as the Phoenician but I would definitely go back there. By this time it was 65F which is still very pleasant even without arm warmers or leg warmers.

We turned back into a headwind around 8:30pm. The wind was being surprisingly persistent. When we got to Huntington Beach and turned inland we had a strong tailwind. Amber took the lead and we hammered all the way back to the trucks. There's a detour that forced us to use the bike path on the South side of the river between Hamilton and PCH. Nicely signposted, it was no problem.

We got back to the trucks at about 10:30pm and the temp was still a pleasant 65F. That was a nice surprise. Unfortunately the game ended about the time we finished so getting out of the stadium area was a nightmare.

What was really annoying is that Caltrans practically shut the 91 freeway down so that it took 90 minutes to crawl about 5 miles. I tried to use the Lakeview exit because I needed gas but they had it shut down. It took 45 minutes to get to the Imperial exit two miles down the freeway and that was closed off too. By now I was desperate for gas and I knew I couldn't get to the Green River exit five miles further on so I ran over a few cones and used the exit anyway. I got home about 1:30am. It should have been midnight.

I really hate Caltrans.