Sunday, October 28, 2007

Last week on the bike

Finally in what felt like a reprieve, we got a break from the rain of the past month and I was able to get out for more than 1 day last week.

I went out for quick rides on both Wed and Thu up the cemetary hill and around the loop towards Roseville.

Sun I rode what is becoming the my new standard route, across the stone arch-along the LRT-up the greenway-and then some sort of loop of the river road, for a 16 mile ride.

I got to try out the shoe covers at last on Sun even though it wasn't that cold. I do think they will be nice, especially in the spring.

Almost at my goal of 1500. I will definitely hit it next week.

Last Week - 32
Season Total - 1486

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Can this passport be revoked?

So in yet another example of the controlling interests in cycling—not the riders or the sponsors mind you—dictating what they want to happen and how it should happen, we now get the blood passport.

Though it may sound like something out of Nightwatch or Moonlight, it is infact the new WADA plan to try to stamp out doping in cycling.

Now I will grant you I haven't dug into this enough to know if they have already answered my questions but I feel like there is a lack of safeguards for the riders and the incredible amount of bureaucracy this could create could create chaos.

How does rider prove they are innocent? Do they have the ability to retroactively challenge the original blood tests to the levels were not accurately captured? How long would this process take? And how advanced is our science in this realm or does WADA already have some of these parameters in place?

Another question I have is in regards to the effects of an entire season of training and riding on the body’s natural chemistry. Do we know what the effects of all this is on hormone and blood levels? Is it possible that some of these naturally might alter themselves?

If they really want to do something how about getting rid of all the exemptions that half the peloton has. I’m sorry but if you have asthma and it makes it hard to ride that is your own damn fault and you may not be able to race at the elite level. I don’t have the physiology to climb mountains all day long for days on end so should I be able to get a therapeutic exemption for steroids so I can compete with the pros in the peloton?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Last week on the bike

The crappy weather continued this week with rain everyday except Saturday. At this point we have had rain every day but two in October.

Maybe I'm a sissy but I do not enjoy riding in wet, windy, 50 degree weather.

Given all this I was only able to get out Saturday morning for a trip down the river road and back, a little over 20 miles. It was a bit chilly and I am looking forward to the shoe covers I picked up today for the rest of my fall riding.

Hopefully I get the colder weather gloves on my wish list for Christmas too so that I can start riding earlier in the year next year.

Week Total - 20
Season Total - 1454

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Last week on the bike

Not the best weather this past week but I was able to get out a couple of times for some riding.

Thursday I went on a quick ride in the neighborhood, up Ridgeway pkwy and around by Terminal rd to the new diagonal trail. It would have been a nice cool weather ride except the brand new bike trail just opened this year has a big section that is now buried under 10-15 feet of sand. It looks to be in preperation of some new blacktop and a connection to Industrial/St. Anthony pkwy. What a waste though to pave the trail and then bury the pavement.

Saturday I went out in the AM for just shy of a 30 mile loop. out along the grand round from St. Anthony to Theo Wirth and connected to the Cedar Lake trail. I decide to cut across the kenilworth trail to the greenway and home since my feet were not appreciating the cold. Hopefully my shoe covers I ordered arrive soon.

Getting very close to my milage stretch goal this year. onyl 66 miles to go.

Week Total - 36
Season Total - 1434

Thursday, October 11, 2007

In Rainbows - in three parts

As I just downloaded my copy of the new Radiohead yesterday, I though I would share a triptych of sorts containing my thoughts on this new release.

Part 1 - Distribution

I think it’s great that the band took the whole process into their own hands. By recording it on their own, and choosing to distribute how they wanted to, it gives them much more control over the how they are represented.

I know some things I have read online have essentially called this a controlled leak of the album, but I don’t think that quite fits what they are doing. First the big thing is that they kept under wraps just how complete the album was despite giving regular updates on their blog. Second by not resigning with a major label it kept too many cooks from entering the kitchen. Is it a truth that albums get leaked all the time nowadays? Yes. But why are they leaked? Because it is a product of a giant corporation with thousands of employees and the possibility of one of these—or many of these—people leaking a copy to the outside world is fairly high. I think some of the negative reactions to this method of distribution can be looked at as being stuck in the traditional mode of music distribution. I will be the first to admit that this won’t necessarily work for all bands and I am not expecting the music industry to fall apart or evolve overnight, but I think that it is interesting in showing the possibilities. Imagine if bands like U2 began to do this?

To come full circle, Radiohead is able to release this album then to their fans when they choose to do it (not waiting for the optimal time for the record label’s profits) and letting the fans decide how much its worth to them is a great plan. I personally choose to pay 5 pounds which equated to $10 US, or about what I would pay for an album on iTunes or a new release at Target or the local record shop.

Part 2 – Sound quality

I do have one gripe in all this though and it is the quality of the download. I paid my money in good faith based on a certain expectation of quality and feel that the 160 kbps files do not live up to that expectation. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Johnny Greenwood stated that:

“We talked about it and we just wanted to make it a bit better than iTunes, which it is, so that's kind of good enough, really. It's never going to be CD quality, because that's what CD does.”

Personally I think this is a cop out. If you want to be picky about it I could argue that the DRM free music Apple does provide is encoded at 256 kbps. Since you downloaded it as a zip file there wasn’t much of a limitation on what the size of the file could have been.

Part 3 – The music

Regarding the music, I think it would be very hard for Radiohead to release something I didn’t like. That being said I do find this to be something a departure from recent work in that it feels more stripped down and “simple.” Kid A and Amnesiac were both very experimental in their approaches which seemed to be a great counterpoint to the songwriting. Hail to the Thief seemed to be a perfect marriage of this new experimentalism within a more “rock” format which again allowed the songs themselves this space to expand and grow in.

In Rainbows seems a little more stripped down in approach and production and I am not convinced that this serves the songs as well as it could. I know it is bad probably bad form to compare the solo album to the group album but I feel that if you combined the production of The Eraser with In Rainbows it would be more complete.

As for individual songs:

Bodysnatchers is at once a reminder of the rocking numbers of Hail to the Thief and also Bends/OK Computer-era, which is interesting as Nude is from that earlier era but has been updated nicely.

Faust Arp feels like the weak link in the chain for me. It isn’t a bad song but the production being all strings and acoustic guitar just doesn’t feel like it fits in with the rest of the album. It feels more like b-side material.

Luckily, in my book at least, it is followed up by the strongest song on the album Reckoner. With its melancholy guitar melody, delicate vocals and understated guitar and drums, it is just gives me chills.

House of Cards is frustrating in that it reminds me of something/someone and for the life of me I can't think of who it is.

All in all a pretty strong album from a group that shows no sign of losing steam and instead a continuous stream of innovation

Monday, October 08, 2007

Last week on the bike

Last week was definitely a better week for riding than the previous week.

I was able to get out 3 days, which was good becasue I was sure that it woudl be 2 due to weekend commitments and weather forecast.

Tuesdays I just went out and rodethe Cemetary hill and around to the new diagonal trail for a quick half hour jaunt. I had a ton of homework so I figured that was good enough at least. Irritatingly the city has decided to due some sort of construction work next to the trail so there was a big patch of 3' thick mud that I had to ride through. NOT FUN!!

Thursday was a pretty nice day to ride and I was able to get out over the stone arch and along the lrt then back via the greenway and UoM.

Despite the heat on Staurday I was bummed to have plans which precluded me from getting out at all on the bike, so I went out pretty early on Sunday for a 10 mile ride down past the U and up the hill by the Weisman.

Then I rode another 15 miles round trip to brunch with the crew so Sunday turned into a pretty good riding day overall.

Week Total - 31
Season Total - 1398

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Last week on the bike

Last week sucked for biking. Now I don't mind riding in cold and windy conditions, but I am just not down with riding in the rain. Consequently I got out one single night for only 25 minutes and 6 miles-total suck.

This week isn't looking any better I have to say.

I did bust out the Kinetic trainer we picked up this summer but since I don't have a trainer tire or just a crap tire to switch with, I didn't want to ride it more than half an hour. I did make it to REI to order a trainer tire so I will be all set in a couple weeks.

In other crap news, the single speed is currently out of commission due to the cheap ass tire they came with shredding on the inside and losing the bead. Not good.

I did pick up a couple of replacements but have not had the time to actually put them on so that has been frustrating as well.

Week Total - 6
Season Total - 1367