Friday, March 30, 2007

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

Tonight was the big Karaoke competition. The Baccardi girls showed up, with prizes in the form of calendar, t-shirts, and a $100 gift certificate for the winners.

I'll start off by saying that I hope this never happens again. Being inherently competitive and prone to pre-race freakouts, Karaoke is supposed to be my escape, my safe-haven of acceptance and musical release. The competition tonight turned everything into strategic, goal-oriented scheming... which is not what Karaoke is supposed to be. Should I dance to "La Bamba" with my friend Lena? Or will that make my competition look good? These are issues that don't belong on Thursday nights.

Rutgers Cycling (plus Jenks)... Tiny Arms!

There were a number of stellar performances. Jenksy rocked "Video Killed the Radio Star". Tooly McSandbagger came out of the woodworks to sing "I am Beautiful" like a eunuch. SpikyHairWill and I owned "Mr. Roboto". These performances would make up the final podium.

What's Mr. Roboto without The Robot?

So the Baccardi chicks called us (theJenksster, Will & me, and my man Tooly) back up for a group performance of "Oops I Did It Again", to finally determine the winner. Perfect for the feminine McSandbagger, you might think. But oh no. While he was crooning, I was running to the bar to grab plastic cups for myself and Will. Why? Two words for you, my friends... Fake breasts.

In the end, it was close. The winners would be determined by audience loudness. Jenksy was eliminated first, but not for lack of effort (his veins were popping out of his neck so bad that Will and I kept having to remind him to breathe). It came down to McSandbagger vs. Team BME/RutgersCycling. His contingent was loud, including a girl who could whistle really obnoxiously. Our contingent was loud enough that my ears hurt.

Thank You Very Much, oh Mr Roboto

The Baccardi Girls conferred in the corner, making possibly the biggest decision of their slutty lives...

Tension mounted. Nerves were on edge. Would talent triumph over effort? Would entertainment defeat douchebaggery?


Don and Will, Karaoke Champions

Just think about that statement. Will and I were the victors in the Karaoke competition. Ridiculous as that sounds, it put $100 in our pockets and gave us indisputable bragging rights. We will buy a Vacuum Cleaner for the apartment. And maybe some DVDs for indoor training sessions.

Most importantly, we won. I love winning. I should do it more often. What a great feeling. Quite the difference from this morning. Moods this good are rare indeed. Karaoke f'in winners.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jiminy Cricket Has Muttonchops

As sometimes happens, especially after a tough ride, my ability to self-censor pretty much shut down this morning. Fortunately, I have friends who know what's appropriate and can set me straight.

I had a whole post planned for today, but it'll have to wait. Instead, I'm going to take the easy way out and post one of the things that lifted my spirits. Not the copious amounts of bagel, donut, and coffee that I've consumed since 11, because I don't know how to post those to a blog. No, no. This is way better.

Muse, "Knights of Cydonia"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Big Daddy ROCKS

Having survived today's workout-of-doom, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's recovery day. A brief summary of the ride:
  • 50 kilometer "warmup", including 20k of 4-man pacelining to try to make it home in 25 minutes (we were late, but only a little). Big props to BeastMaster and SpikyHair for the massive pulls
  • 5 sprints in the Hermes Miss-N-Out. Worked my tail off, got worked over by HermesCraig, was eliminated... or, rather, The Devil took me when I was the Hindmost. What a stupid name for a race.
  • 20 sprints behind the remainder of the race. While they did their tactical nonsense, I was sprinting 2x per lap. Hooray. SpikyHair beat HermesJenks... which just might knock Jenksy down a peg?
  • 25 sprints on the deserted, well-lit, well-paved road behind my apartment. In the dark. Among the various fauna of Busch campus (deer, cats, and inexplicable old Asians)
It ended up being something like 60 total miles, about 3.5 hours. Lots and lots and lots of sprinting. Yowie kazowie.

So tomorrow I'm recovering. Maybe an hour on the rollers, turning such a tiny gear that I may risk crashing. But Coach also wants me to get back in the gym... for good reason, too, as my core leaves much to be desired.

Here is my plan for the gym... Core work is probably important, and I guess I should do squats or something, but everybody knows that there's one thing that drives the ladies wild: Biceps. Also, SRAM components.

So I'm going to wear a sleeveless t-shirt, both to show off my massive guns and to prominently display my developing tan-lines. I'm going to grab some dumbbells (2lbs, or 5lbs if there's girls watching) and saunter over to the mirrors. And then I'll start curling.

Each curl will start with a grunt. I'll use my back, wrenching the weight upwards with the force of a mighty gorilla or typhoon or something. My positive self-talk will be out loud, and I'll exclaim "Big Daddy Rocks!". Finally, for the coup de grรขce, when the massive dumbbell has reached its apex, I'll reach my arm up towards my face and kiss my bicep, rewarding it for a job well done.

Repeat with the other arm. 2 sets of 8 reps. Go big or go home.

Monday, March 26, 2007


There are a lot of people reading my blog who might not know the truth. The real truth. The deep dark truth.

Fortunately, a world-renowned filmmaker took it upon himself to document the virulent misdeeds that abound in the dirty world of Collegiate Cycling. Filmed over the course of the 2006 cyclocross season, using interviews, hidden cameras, and obnoxious pestering, this movie will open your eyes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:
D is For Dope

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Race Reports are Stupid

This weekend was great, and I learned a lot. I just can't bring myself to write a race report. It's not that I'm particularly displeased with the way things went. It's not even that I couldn't find an amusing spin to put on things (I fooled myself into attacking too early on Saturday, then today I sprinted to win the bunch sprint, only to hear the bell for 1-to-go)

Much respect to BeastMaster, who has transformed my rides these past two days from races into base miles. That needs to go into the blog. Also, respect to Rich for his solo D win and to Alex for his great sprint for 4th in the B's.

But gah, who wants to hear about my race? It's late March, and most of my audience is already racing anyway. Here, you want a race report? Chris attacked. I blocked. I sat in. I went. It was over. Woooo! Honestly, though, I really dd enjoy myself, it's just that race reports start to get monotonous, you know?

What was unique about my weekend was the coffee shop at turn #5 today. Every 2 minutes, the field passed by, and we had a perfect view of the unfolding drama. 53x12Will had a great idea, which I implemented.


Will, by the way, got 19th.

Life is good. My team is awesome. C racers need to learn how to corner. Every Army rider needs to downgrade 1 category. To Harvest Moon for celebration!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bucknell Race, mid-weekend

yowza. i've never been so smoked, but i do love the racing. certainly i'm fatigued from playing substitute den-mother, since mark is too cool for us this weekend. it has occurred to me, though, this was the first race i've ever done that was long enough to need a water bottle. which may be part of it. it would've been an easy day for me, since beastmaster was off the front, solo, for 22 of the 36 miles (and took 2nd, by the way), but i decided to attack once he got caught.
the demise of my attack is a surprisingly long story. let's not get into that.

overall, today has been the awesome...
  • left HP at 6:05
  • best rest stop ever... stopped at a Holiday Inn somewhere in PA. not only could we use their clean, warm, perfumed bathroom, but we could also take advantage of their free internet kiosk.
  • got to the race in time to register, dress, pin, and warm up, which had never been a guarantee
  • avoided every crash on what would've been a great, if fast, 'cross course
  • put in a pretty good attack, even did the ol' shake-n-bake (as taught to me by will and american flyers)
  • checked in to the hotel, which turns out to be one of the nicest i've ever stayed in., and not too expensive. if the jacuzzi hadn't been shut down, we would've used it. spacious, clean, quiet, and with free cookies.
  • massive team dinner, care of Damon's, the Applebee's-wannabe across the street. the waitress dealt with our giant order like a champ, then hooked us up with garlic bread. it may not seem like a big deal to you, but i nearly cried with joy
one final story: some crazy kid from bucknell decided to tighten his rear wheel's skewer by hand-screwing it. instead of using the quick-release, this kid just tightened the skewer by hand, leaving the lever at the end very exposed. i informed him of it, suggesting he have a teammate show him how to properly use the qr. when i told will this story, he said he would've been a lot less polite, because that kid could've crashed half the field. well, whatever was left of the field after the crashes, flats, and mechanicals. war of attrition, baby.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Paving Over History, Chapter The First

Last night, as usual, I was wandering home from the Harvest Moon, singing Journey and trying in vain to design an experiment for some now-forgotten reason. My aimless meandering took me into the parking lot of the Kirkpatrick Chapel, which on a hill at the end of the College Ave campus. I've been through there before, but last night I was particularly uncoordinated... which I will blame on my residual fatigue from 53x12Will's 30+ mph, pull down the length of Amwell Rd that morning.

So there I was, zig-zagging like a good, if lethargic, infantryman, when I almost bumped into a signpost. And by almost, I mean abruptly. Sizing up my opponent, I squinted at the offending sign and was surprised by what I saw.

Apparently, this parking lot was the site of an important moment in American history. In fall of 1776, the British had been trying to cross the Raritan River in pursuit of Washington's troops. If the redcoats had been successful, we'd probably be drinking tea and driving on the wrong side of the road.

Fortunately, Alexander Hamilton was a badass. He'd put together an artillery corps, outfitting and supplying them out of his own pocket. With no infantry support from the retreating Washington, Hamilton took a risk and positioned his men on the hill that is now the site of Kirkpatrick Chapel and its parking lot. Firing volley after volley, Hamilton's corps hampered the redcoats' progress. By the time the British could finally ford the river, Washington's army was long gone, and I can only presume that all the Englishmen's oxen were dead as well.

The site of this selfless assault is now a parking lot. Only 200 years later, artillerymen in the same location would be overlooking a nondescript parking deck. The only monument to the courage of Hamilton and his troops during this key moment in history is a sign post into which intoxicated students occasionally stumble.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


"Pretending air-to-air combat with identical aircraft makes it difficult to gain an advantage. Pilots are more tempted to push their vehicles to the edge of their performance to gain a simulated 'kill'. In my air force career there had been numerous incidents of dogfighting pilots crossing that edge, losing control, and having to eject - or dying when they didn't... In fact, it happened so often worldwide the airforce ultimately banned the practice of identical jets simulating a dogfight." (Mullane)

So if the jets are of different designs, then the pilots will play to their vehicles' respective strengths. Dogfights between identical jets, however, neutralize the characteristics of the machinery - the question becomes, which pilot is willing to risk death in order to win.

I love dogfights. Top Gun was an awesome, if mildly innuendo-ridden, dogfight movie. The dogfights were the only redeeming aspect of Pearl Harbor.

My teammates and I dogfight. In fact, these aren't 1-on-1 affairs, they are all-out duels with 3 to 12 very competitive, very individual protagonists. Like jetfighters, one has to wonder: are we mismatched, or are we essentially identical? I don't know the answer to that. Some of us are fitter than others, and we all have our own strengths; still, on any given day, any one of us can beat all the others, if he rides smart and the stars are aligned properly.
SpikyHair and BeastMaster Bleed From Their Eyes

It's really a beautiful thing. We go on these crazy rides to the middle of nowhere and back, with the Raritan River and the Watchung Hills setting the scene. We ride with the knowledge that every hill, every Rutgers sign, even everywhere that Jenks decides arbitrarily and without informing anyone, is a finish line, a stage on which drama will inevitably unfold. The roads are our arena, and like fighter pilots and gladiators, we battle to the death.

Okay, not to the death. That would defeat the purpose of riding for fitness, and besides, the cars are doing enough to try to kill us anyway (just kidding, Mom and Dad!). Not to the death, but close to the death. Seriously, we are playing on the edge of goodnight-sweet-prince death, dogfighting like evenly matched fighter pilots, driven to win. Drastic maneuvers push the limits of stalling their jets... Hill sprints flirt with the limits of stalling our hearts.

It's best not to think of training in such terms, but we do it all the time! Think about it... My heart rate has gone over 195 a handful of times this week. The highest heart rate I've ever recorded was 199.

We throw around the term Maximum Heart Rate a lot, usually as a reference relative to which we can estimate our "Heart Rate Zones". It's a blase term, but the physiology of a Maximum Heart Rate is pretty freaky.

The cells of the heart, like those of any other muscle, contract when an electric current passes through them. Near your Maximum Heart Rate, your heart's cells are contracting more than 3 times every second. Waves of electricity are passing through each cell every 300 milliseconds. If you were in a doctor's office and this happened, they'd call it tachycardia and freak out.

If the gap between waves gets any smaller, if the frequency of contraction gets any higher, the waves stop being waves. They overlap, and the cells don't recover between contractions. Instead of contracting as one continuous section of heart, the cells contract whenever they can, and the wall of the heart shimmies rather than shrinks. Blood doesn't get pumped through the body, it gets tickled. This is called fibrilliation. It will make you dead.

Fortunately, the body doesn't like being even close to Maximum Heart Rate, because the body doesn't like being even close to dead. We're not actually in any risk, unless our hearts are already damaged. We may puke, we may cramp, we may even pass out, but our bodies will do their best to keep us alive.

So we go to HermesCraig's Miss-N-Out (aka Elimination, aka Devil Takes the Hindmost, aka "Lord Chancellor Knottingbury takes the last sportsman and refuses him his foie gras after the foxhunt on wheels" [SpikyHair 2007]), or we go to CapnChaz's Candy Mountain Ride, or we just say "hey, I'm doing 2nd bridge 8am Thursday, meet at the Brower". And we push each other, dogfighting, until we're close to death. And then we go home.

I love this sport. But good god, I do get antsy when 2 awesome rides take place during my F'IN REST WEEK!!! Have fun you jerks.

Mullane, Mike.
Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut. New York: Scribner, 2006.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Body Image

Don't worry, this post is not about my body image... although Will and I are trying to give each other complexes.

Two things have brought about this post. First, I made the mistake of watching about 3 minutes of a daytime talk show, Dr. Keith. The good doctor's guests yesterday included two "plus-size" actresses. Make no mistake about it, these ladies are morbidly obese. They were on the show to talk about how hard it is to thrive in a world where thin is in.

Then I did a quick PubMed search in order to make an empirical[1] response to Jenks' psychobabble response to my scientific response to Jenks' question, and I stumbled across an interesting, unrelated article. The study[2] looked into the behavior of Israeli women to compare 3 groups: Anorexics, Aesthetic Athletes (AA) like dancers and gymnasts, and Non-Aesthetic Athletes (NAA) like runners, swimmers, volleyball players, etc.

The article reports that while most of the AA group were physically sound, a significant number of them displayed behavior usually correlated with anorexia. The authors suggest that this legitimizes the hitherto uncommon diagnosis of Anorexia Athletica. Most importantly (for my point), they note that in general, the NAA group had a very positive self-image.

Dr. Keith's guests would probably not be too thrilled about this conclusion, because it correlates hard work to feeling good. If wallowing in self-pity feels good and requires nothing more than a PC sob-story, why should anyone work hard? Their stated concerns seem to be that they are getting pigeon-holed, that their weight is putting them at a disadvantage only because society perceives their body type as abnormal. Granted, I could only watch about 3 minutes of the show before I was enraged and had to change the channel; still, I think I got a pretty good idea of their message.

It seems that the morbidly obese don't have it too easy in Hollywood. It seems that they get type-cast into roles as "the fat friend". Why don't producers and writers just create roles where the actor could be of any shape or size? Why is Hollywood so image-based?

Give me a break. You want writers to be less imaginative, to not have any idea what their characters will look like? You want Hollywood to stop playing to our sexual desires? Good luck!

No, you don't have to be anorexic to be a starlet (this means you, Lohan). At the same time, though, you can't spell morbidly obese without morbid. These actresses are condemning themselves with their own bodies, and instead of trying to correct this problem, they're going on talk shows and bemoaning the unrealistic ideals to which women are compared.

I want to compare them to cigarette salesmen, but that's not quite right. While I despise smoking, I recognize the right to smoke (within reason - and I don't feel like debating this topic today). Being employed in Hollywood isn't a right... if it was, tall blondes from the Midwest with a bus ticket and a dream would be marching on DC every week. Dr. Keith's guests were hawking a self-destructive lifestyle to the daytime-tv-watching parents of little girls who need to learn that it's not OK to let yourself get that bad.

These actresses claim that life is tough for them. I have no doubt that they have their share of hardships... but do they think it's easy to be fit? I think the real Tough points should go to the people who go out to dinner with friends, then fight the urge to finish the giant portions that restaurants serve. Tough points go to the people who wake up at 5am to get a workout in before work. Tough points go to the people who are pestered with cries of "you're too thin" just because they've gone from "obese" to "healthy" on the Body Mass Index scale.

So no, you don't have to be anorexic. And no, it's not OK to be morbidly obese. There is a compromise!!! Non-Aesthetic Athleticism!

Buy your daughter a soccer ball, or a lacrosse stick, or (dare I hope?) a bicycle. Encourage them to use these toys.

For the love of god, turn off the damn TV.

Abiss, et al. "Dynamic pedaling strategies during the cycling phase of an Ironman triathlon". Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Apr; 38(4):726-34

Bachner-Melman, et al. "How Anorexic-like Are the Symptom and Personality Profiles of Aesthetic Athletes?". Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Apr; 38(4): 628-36

Monday, March 19, 2007


My advisor is hosting a visiting professor. He's only in town from Japan for 2 days, and while I don't know what the rest of his itinerary includes, I can tell you that Day 1 of his trip has included a great deal of ass-kicking.

The most noteworthy (as far as I know) of his various academic smackdowns came during his visit to my lab. He listened intently as Tiff, Kim, and I explained and demonstrated our research. The clarification questions he asked were good, not "I should ask a question to feign interest". In spite of a considerable language barrier, it became clear that dude-san knows his stuff.

I mentioned that I wasn't clear on why a particular value in my derivation of "adaptation" kept being approximately 0. There are a few possibilities that I'd considered, but nothing was really standing out as the answer.

"Maybe your task is too simple", he posited. BAM. A pimp-slap if there ever was one, but sometimes you need to get pimp-slapped to see the light. Holy crap. Of course! The subjects' adapatation was too rapid, because the task was too simple, and the brief linear increase in "G" (don't worry about it) was drowned out by inherent biological variability. It's so damn simple!

So, I've got my work cut out for me. Lit review, experimental design, Labview coding, data collection, data analysis. Yowza. I swear, though, I love being in this position. It is the equivalent of a crit racer, sitting in the top 10 with 2 to go, suddenly seeing the gaps that he's going to use to get to the sprint. I am the midfielder, seeing the holes in the defense that will let the ball move from midfield to the back of the net. The veil is lifted. God, this feels good.

I got out of the lab just in time to join the usual suspects for a recovery ride. Everyone but Jenks and Will P. wore full Rutgers kit, which made the whole ride a lot safer (I never wear anything else outdoors anymore). We did the Monday Night Loop, which involves laps around Busch and Livingston campuses, also known as "the cool kids' campuses". Pimp-slap #2 came during the first lap, when Jenks initiated a rousing BikeCapella chorus of Bohemian Rhapsody, which is by Queen, you philistines. That's right. Thanks to Jenks, we pimp-slapped the recovery ride upside its frozen windy head.

The final pimp-slap was, once again, directed at me, as well as CaptainChaz, PlaidRich, and 53x12Will, the sole survivors of lap 2. Somewhere around the Watermelon Loop course (3/4 of the way into the lap) it began to hail. I'm all for epic conditions, but not on a recovery day. Oof. Touche, Mother Nature.

For dinner (thus far) I had 4 "servings" of rice and a tall glass of Endurox. Delicious. I'm gonna go ahead and give this day a 9/10. La Vida e Boa.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blood, Sweat, and Torn Clothing

Will wrote up today's ride for the Rutgers blog, and once again, I'm too lazy to reproduce a previously-created blog post.

I will, however, add more detail to Will's account of my wipeout. I got tossed out of a rut in the ice and overcompensated, resulting in a low-side crash. I slid about 10-20 yds on my left hip. It is tender now.

My reaction to the crash was so pro! I didn't stick my hand out, so that while my elbow is a little banged up, my collarbone, shoulder, and wrist are intact. I was sliding on ice, unclipped, so that when I reached the end of the ice (and the beginning of the asphalt) I was able to spring to my feet, avoiding real damage. By the time SpikyHairWill and the Angry one were turned around, I was looking for my lost bar-end.

The only real damage was to my bibtights. The tear was actually on the posterior (rather than the side), where the gluteus and hamstring "intersect". This part of my body never touched the ground. It's also unlikely that the tights twisted while I fell... if my body was rotating clockwise, as you'd expect with a low-side crash to the left, then the anterior of my tights would be damaged. This leads me to believe that a shard of ice snagged the tights, which is supported by the torn (as opposed to shredded") nature of the damage.

Whatever. My sexy newish bibtights, which have kept me delightfully warm since November, are in dire need of mending. As is my sexy newish skinsuit, which I damaged at 'Cross Nats. Time to find me some elastic thread and a sewing kit.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Good Movies and Bad Parents

This has been a weekend of good movies, at least thus far. To make the time fly while riding the trainer, Will and I watched one of the best movies of all time.

Written by a Phi Psi about a Phi Psi, this classic has romance, comedy, drama, and edge-of-your-seat bike racing action all rolled into one. It is, perhaps, a little lame that we were able to recite the movie almost line for line. Whatever. "Mama! The Italians are coming!" Classic.

Last night, knowing that we wouldn't be racing at the now-cancelled Grant's Tomb crit, we went to see The 300.

Once again, let me emphasize how pissed I am that the weekend's races were cancelled. The rallying speeches and "Death or Glory" nature of the movie made us very much want to tear peoples' legs off.

What irks me is that people brought their kids to the 11pm show. Kids who couldn't be older than 6. The movie was insanely loud (another topic I could rant about), and it was very graphic, both explicit sexuality and intense violence. I'd imagine those kids had nightmares. The sexy scenes were certainly ruined by their giggles about the womens' exposed naughty parts.

It's cool that these parents were spending time with their kids. And hey, who doesn't like the movies? Still, this strikes me as so inappropriate that I wonder where the line is drawn between poor common sense and criminal child abuse.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Romeo and Juliet, part 2

In spite of my pledge to never ever write about the womens, I will continue to allow some of my misguided editorials to sneak in to the blog under the guise of mathematical cuteness. In this case, you may even find it useful, as I'm going to turn this Theoretical treatment into an Applied Mathematics problem for your entertainment.

So I've previously described a simple model in which the romantic behavior of Romeo and Juliet over time is based on two parameters: their sensitivity to the other one's interest level. In this case, they oscillated endlessly, occasionally even simultaneously being interested in one another.

This begs the question, do they not have any self-awareness? Are their emotions completely dependent on external influences? If they are teenagers, then the answer is probably yes. Still, most normal human beings aren't so susceptible. Knowing that you love someone will prevent you from falling out of love too quickly, or so the logic goes.

Let's expand on the previous model to allow for self-awareness. The equation then becomes

where a is the influence of Romeo's current state on his future feelings and b is Juliet's influence on him, with d and c corresponding to the respective influences for Juliet. It makes sense, trust me.

Nearly all of the solutions are boring. Both of our lovebirds tend inevitably towards apathy (which means an R or J value of 0); in the best of these cases, the solution revolves around (0,0) at lower and lower orbits until it finally reaches mutual apathy. Boooring.

In some rare cases, though, both Romeo and Juliet might fall madly in love with each other. They also might revert to homicidal rage (not unlike what I feel about the races being cancelled this weekend). Their behavior would look something like the following plot, which I've labeled in order to clarify what's what.

The slopes of the straight lines will depend on the values of the parameters (a,b,c, and d). Furthermore, the corner to which R and J will tend is dependent on the initial conditions of R and J. Imagine setting a marble on a plate, which is shaped so that its highest points are at top-left and bottom right, with its lowest points at "love" (+,+) and "hate" (-,-). Depending on where you set the marble, it will end up either at "love" or at "hate". How fast it gets there depends on the parameters.

Now let's apply this knowledge to something useful. Let's say you go to a bar (I suggest Harvest Moon). There is an attractive young lady, standing with a group of friends. Already, the initial conditions are in the R>0 quadrants. Now the question is whether the parameters (your a and b, her c and d) will allow for love, or if they will condemn you to apathy.

So here's what you do: Walk up to the girl and ask her to rate, on a scale from -10 to 10, how much a guy's desire for her affects her interest in him. Then ask her to rate how much her feelings for that guy will affect her interest in him (this may be more difficult to explan). In fact, it may be easier to go with the classic "1 to 10" scale, and then normalize. It would be best to ask for -100 to 100 to get the highest resolution, but that may be asking too much.

So know you know all of the parameters of this model. Simply solve the following equation for lamdas 1 and 2, the eigenvalues of the system:

If, and only if, either lamda 1 or lamda 2 is positive, you may proceed to the next step. Now plug that positive lamda into the following system of equations and solve for v1 and v2, the system's eigenvectors

If, and only if, the sign of v1 is equal to the sign of v2, then there is a chance for that passionate love you're hoping for. Now the only unknown is the initial condition of J. If she is very disinterested, then the system may trend towards hatred... the bifurcation between love and hate is dependent on a,b,c, and d. Frankly, finding the bifurcation and your location relative to it will take too much time; besides, it is probably rude to ask a woman "How much do you like or dislike me?" I recommend throwing caution to the wind and skipping this step of the system characterization.

So there you have it. NinjaDon's foolproof guide to finding true love. Remember to always bring a scientific calculator wherever you go; you never know when Cupid will appear.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

not a post

I just updated the Rutgers Cycling Blog with today's ride report. Unlike the Angry kid, I'm not big on double-posting, so you'll just have to read the other blog.

The ride knocked me out. I spent all day in my apartment. In the past 11 hours, I've done laundry, picked up my rear wheel, and eaten a lot. It was awesome.

They say you should fold laundry while it's warm. They never had to walk 70m from the laundry room in the cold rain. I don't mind the weather. I don't even mind the wrinkles. I just mind that they might be looking down their noses at me. Snooty bastards.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Man-Crushes, episode 2

'If this was Ithaca, it'd be snowing already!'

Here's the thing about SpikyHairWill. I hate him. And yet I also have a man-crush on him. I find myself compelled to write about him, even though I've never wanted to slash my first man-crush's tires as much as I've wanted to slash Will's.

He's a good kid. I met him at a Biomedical Engineering department recruitment weekend. He saw the USACycling sticker on my laptop and asked if I was at the Rutgers race the previous weekend. He even let me babble about it for a while before letting me know that he's an A racer. I shut up and listened after that.

I spend way too much time with Will. Our other BME roommate, Aaron, is also great, and we spend a lot of time together, but Will and I have ridden together, sat through seminar together, and attended Karaoke together enough that if he was less cool, I'd probably despise him.

How cool is Will? He is an amateur freestyle rapper... especially while riding. I don't even know how many times we've been out in the middle of nowhere and he's started rhyming nonsensically. It's not even limited to rap. A Capella, 20mph renditions of "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners, and so on, quickly evolve into improvised odes to my mother (sorry, Mom, it's nothing personal) or melodic trashtalking.
The Accidental Century was full of BikeCapella

You may be wondering, where does the name SpikyHairWill come from? The legend of Willis tells of his Epic solo bike ride from his home in Pennsyltucky to the Mystical Oil Refineries of Nova Scotia, where he dipped his head in a vat of crude... his body from the forehead down became his proverbial Achilles heel, but his hair became an impenetrable helmet of Spiky Impenetrability.

The legend, my friends, is false. In truth, Will simply uses enough hair gel to drown a full-grown horse. The SpikyHair prefix originated on a bus-ride back from Karaoke night. I was sober enough to remember this story, but only just... Some obnoxious undergrad, drunk out of her mind, was running up and down the aisle, encouraging people to sing. She called out to Will, imploring him to contribute to the cacophony, "Hey! You! With the spiky hair! And the Devil eyes! Sing Journey!" Given the FatMarc/Rutgers naming convention, it was easy to properly rename him.

Will is creative. Like an imaginative 6 year old with a bucket of legos, or perhaps like a schizophrenic with crayons, he uses what he has around him to make life more interesting. For example, he and Aaron created Lounge Volleyball, much to the dismay of our downstairs neighbors, using only a volleyball and a coffee table. He turned the campus map in our hallway into a canvas for explicit, inappropriate illustrations. When our androgenous 5th roommate Pat moved into the bathroom, Will was kind enough to teach him/her Biosignals Processing.
Will and Pat share a love for Learning and Bathrooms

He's also creative enough to wear ankle weights while riding in the offseason. In spite of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, and in the face of mysterious, inexplicable knee pain (which started soon after the weights became part of training and ended soon after he retired them for the season), Will is truly an innovator in the field of bicycle practice.

Then again, maybe I should shut up. Maybe knee pain is a small price to pay for Will's unbridled power. Will is just plain stronger than technology. I've already written about the Battle of Will vs Trainer, wherein Will overcame the locking mechanism mid-sprint and melted the plastic housing.
Photographic Evidence that Will's sprint can melt plastic

More recently, Will was doing an outdoor sprint workout. For the rest of the story, please examine the following picture.
Will's Rear Hub

Will 2, technology 0

So the long and short of it is this: SpikyHairWill has cojones. Chutzpah. l'Esprit de la Guerre. Again, I could describe his behavior, but I'll let him do all the talking, if indirectly. From his latest race report:

"Awesome race, feeling great. Last lap, good position, crash in front of me. Come to complete stop. Race over. 5 laps for nothing.

So tired of cycling spitting in my face. Tomorrow I am going to go berserk and [bleep] demolish all the [bleep] brats with their [bleep] zipps and their [bleep] attitudes. I felt like [bleep] vomiting as I rode through the line today and all the people gave me the dropped-rider pity applause.

[bleep] the ACCC. [bleep] Zipp wheels. [bleep] UVM. [bleep] Army. [bleep] Navy."

The next day, Will went a little crazy on the front, putting the hurt on 2 entire conferences...
'No" says Will to the attacks

So, if Will is such a good guy, why do I hate him? Mostly because he has such an affinity for confetti-traps
Goddamnit, Will

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Good Friends and Good Beer

Thursday night at Harvest Moon is Karaoke night. Thursday night at Harvest Moon is awesome. Ergo, Karaoke night is awesome. That's logic, baby.

Other Karaoke nights at other bars are just not the same. The Golden Rail has a Karaoke night, but the atmosphere is much less open, more impatient and judging. It's more of an undergrad bar, full of remarkably pretentious frat boys and sorostitutes (and this is coming from a guy who was in a fraternity and many of whose friends were in sororities!). Doll's has an alleged Karaoke night, but none of us have been able to confirm that claim.
Harvest Moon Karaoke... turning skinny guys into cool kids since 2006

Harvest Moon is a microbrewery. Which means that the bar is full of delicious, one-of-a-kind, delicious beer. It just tastes so good! They have wine and mixed drinks for the non-beer-drinkers, but honestly, who goes into a microbrewery and orders a not-beer? Or worse, a Coors (you know who you are, and shame on you!)

The General Manager of this fine establishment is Dario. Being from Italy, Dario knows a thing or two about cycling. Not much more than a thing or two, but enough that occasionally, upon our arrival, Dario will rush over with the printout of an Italian newspaper with a headline "Il Grillo e Il Vincitore" or whatever. Also, occasionally, Dario will buy the team shots (which is simultaneously great and terrible, you know?). It also helps that we know the bartenders, the bouncer, and some of the wait staff. The whole crew there is great. Which is nice.

The crowd is also fantastic. Some nights are slower than others, but you always get to sing about as often as you'd like, and no matter how bad you are, nobody ever boos. In the worst case, people resume their conversations. If, however, you rock (much like my guys do), the crowd will really get into the performance. Dancing, skanking, shouting, cheering... all forms of support are acceptable.
The Jenksster... no further captioning needed

Every so often, the 1st year BMEs show up. This is good, not only because it increases the overall grooviness (yes, grooviness) of the scene, but also because it gives those poor bastards some time away from the computer, away from the textbooks, and away from the not-beer. They need that, because otherwise they'll turn into Trolls or Computer Science majors.
Team BME, during a rare break from the respective labs

Usually, though, the biggest, the loudest, the charismatic-est group in the bar is the Rutgers University Cycling team (plus Jenksy). We cheer for each other. We cheer for good performances. We dance like maniacs to "I Want You to Want Me" or "99 Red Balloons". We backup dance for each other (that was the best performance of "Like A Prayer" ever). Eric the Karaoke guy sometimes introduces us as AngryMark, NinjaDon, or (when there are a lot of names on the song-request slip) as the Rutgers Cycling team. We enjoy that.
A small fraction of the Cyclists/Karaoke-regulars

For future reference, if you ever come to Karaoke night and Jay's name gets called, you must begin to chant "Jay Number One! Jay Number One!". I'm not even sure if I remember why anymore.

I can't even describe how great it is to go to this bar with these guys every week. Not counting times that I wasn't even in NJ, I've missed 2 karaoke nights since I started going last August. It's such a good release, so fun, so invigorating. It is a less painful, more expensive version of hill intervals, if that makes any sense.

Will put it best when he said, "Damnit, Don, do you realize what you've done? Now every week is just a buildup to Thursday!"
Sometimes it becomes necessary to both Rock and Roll

Monday, March 12, 2007

Photo Blog

Some pictures from the Philly Phlyer criterium. If you have Facebook, or if you don't like bike racing, this post will bore you.

Warming up before the crit. Why am I not on my bike?

Anticipating the Scrum, trying not to overthink things

The Start... please ignore the fact that I'm not clipped in and observe the beautiful venue

Get used to this, gentlemen. BeastMasterChris is in front of you

Riding in a completely doomed early break

Patrolling the front

Will P attacks, and the asphalt quivers

Another view of my 2-to-go attack... and the portapotties

BeastMaster Wins!!! (the bunch sprint for 2nd place)

Willis was very active in his race... more on that tomorrow

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Philly weekend

Rather that try to turn 2 days' worth of observation into 1 coherent narrative, I'm just going to post them as a list. I realize this may upset you; if you want to fight about it, you should be warned, I am sort of a Ninja.

--Friday's conference: I got my work done, in the nick of time. My posters were very well accepted by the conference-goers. This is like saying that my kindergarten teacher liked my fingerpainting. I worked waaaay too hard last week, given the nature of the conference.

--Saturday morning ride: Because of familial obligations, I decided to ride with the Hermes crew in the morning, rather than race the Philly circuit. I should do this more often. I'm okay with the tendency of the younger guys to sometimes look to me (far less frequently than to Mark, thank goodness) for race-related guidance, but they need to realize that I still don't know much of anything. Riding with the Hermes dudes gives me the chance to ask questions, get comfortable with a very smooth group, and test my legs in a way that riding with my own team just doesn't afford. They may be blindingly green and yellow, but they're savvy and didactic. Also, they go fast.

--Saturday morning cramp: Perhaps because I hadn't ridden in a week, perhaps because I'd just eaten a gel, perhaps because the road was a little bumpy... for whatever reason, my torso cramped up about 1 hour in to the ride. It was actually not my stomach, and it wasn't a side-stitch like runners get. It was a spastic contraction of my entire abdomen, every muscle from my hips to my ribcage. It hurt. A lot. Much love to Jenks for physically pushing me when necessary to get me through it. Now I owe him 2 beers. The cramp was gone by today. I think it's safe to say that I was probably not menstruating, but a good scientist doesn't rule anything out.

--Sunday's race: I did exactly what I wanted to do. I patrolled the front until 2 to go, attacked probably 5-7 times, covered, blocked, instigated, chased, the whole nine yards. BeastMasterChris won the bunch sprint for 2nd (UVM counterattacked brilliantly, completely outfoxing us and just taking the win). I'd like to think that all of the team's work is helping Beastie, but I'm pretty sure that he doesn't need us... in fact, I'm pretty sure that he spent more time off the front than I did.

A pretty apt summary of racing: Don rides suicidally off the front, and the portapotties loom ominously in the background

--Portapotties: The above picture and caption deserve a brief explanation. Inside the portapotties was a sign stating "Use of this Facility by more than 10 people in a 40-hour work week is unsanitary and unsafe". That translates to about 70 uses (probably far less). There were 400-500 or so racers in attendance (not to mention spectators), all consuming lots of caffeine, all trying to race without, ahem, distraction. Carnage ensued. If you were there, then you know; if you were not, then words will never suffice.

--Post-race food: I rode to a rather ghetto grocery store with HardTailJay, who was good enough to guard the bikes while I shopped. I was going to get a sandwich, but the Deli smelled rather peculiar. There was a strong scent of Roast Beef, but I couldn't quite place the other smell... and then it hit me. Poison. The Deli section was immediately next to the Ant and Roach Poison. I got a Nesquick Vanilla Milk and hightailed it out of there.

--Driving: Being neurotic before a race is something I've already covered. Suffice it to say that I'm very glad I got to the race without too much hassle. The drive home, on the other hand, was ridiculous. I call it the Drive of a Thousand U-turns. I didn't care, because I was on a post-race endorphin rush and I had nowhere to really be. Still, it took me 2.5 hours to drive from Philadelphia to Piscataway. It should've taken 1.5 hours tops.

--Dinner: As soon as I finished racing, I started eating. I didn't stop eating until I got home. This included a stop at a Dunkin Donuts, where I got more Nesquick (this time Very Banana) and a Egg and Cheese on Croissant sandwich. I ate a lot, and it was good. However, when I had dinner with the Jenksster (at the Harvest Moon, which may become a post-race tradition?), I couldn't finish my Pad Thai!!! Granted, it was very spicy, and I'd been eating all day (including those Nesquick Milks, which are highly caloric, if not actually nutritious), but somehow, it made me feel like less of a man.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside

Have you ever tried to pry something open, or twist a bolt, or open a safety pin while in a very cold environment? It hurts way more than you know it should.

If you're reading this blog, odds are very very very good that you have screwed with a safety pin (or 6) while in the middle of a field, with the wind howling and temperatures near freezing. You've done it because you hadn't yet picked up on the trick of using a steering wheel as a mannequin, or because one of your teammates is similarly dependent. Or in the worst case, another racer realizes, with 2 minutes before the start, that his number is on the wrong side, and he needs you to remove and redo all 8 pins.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess that I have, in fact, asked people to pin me up. If I have a flappy race number, I'll ask someone to fix it. If I screwed up the number placement so grievously that the officials won't be able to see it, I'll ask someone to fix it. I think that once, I was running so late that I had to ask HardTailJay to pin me, because he is the only person on Earth whose pinning skills I trust.

So today I was helping my labmate Mike disassemble a bookshelf on a loading dock. It was cold, and it was tedious, but I was happy to help out a friend. What struck me, though, is how much my fingers hurt. I would pinch the locknuts (please don't post a comment about my use of the word 'nuts'), and the dull edges would feel like they were slicing my skin.

Probably because I wasn't in full-on pre-race neurotic-freakout mode, I was more aware of this sensation, and more curious about its cause. Why does the cold make the sensation "somewhat sharp" feel like "intense razorsharp pain"

I'll spare you the speculative possibilities I came up with and rejected. The answer is that there is one very specific cell in your skin that responds to "fast pain". It is called "A-delta", and it is sensitive to both mechanical (sharp) and thermal (cold) stimuli. When your fingers are cold, the A-delta cells are brought closer to the threshold (above which they begin to send the "holy crap you're in trouble" signals). When they are subjected to a deep, highly localized pressure (as in when grabbing a locknut [shut up, Jay, Jenks, Aaron, Will, Handloff, and Rob]), they get even closer to that threshold, and occasionally a few will fire those signals up to your brain.

In conclusion, if you're going to be racing, and it's a cold day, you should take care of your own f'ing pins in a warm car. AngryMark and I do so, and well in advance of our starts, because of our freakout-inducing neuroses. Even if you're as cool and collected as a Cap'nChaz, you should take care of your pins as a common courtesy to the people who've already taken care of their own.

Levy, et al.
Berne and Levy Principles of Physiology, 4th ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Mosby, 2006.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I finally found video footage from 'cross World Championships. Not all of it, but just the part where the world went all topsy-turvy. I'm thrilled that Jon Page made the podium, but if it hadn't been for these few moments, the drama of the race would've unfolded very differently.

I'm going to avoid opining about what "should" have happened. I don't care if Wellens' lawsuit happens, of if he wins it. Should Page feel less deserving of his success? Should Vervecken have an asterisk next to his name? I don't care.

What I do care about is the stupidity of the course setup. How is this even possible? How far up your colon does your head have to be to design a course where this can happen? Poor show, Hooglede-Gits.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bad Day update

As promised, I have forged ahead. These colors may fade, but they never surrender, or something. Vive la revolucion! Damn the torpedoes! Win one for the Gipper!

I'm not so young anymore. I still hadn't fully recovered from the weekend when yesterday hit. I started falling asleep around 1am, and that was bad. With a little help from PhiPsi Sean and my younger brother, and a lot of coaching from FarmerAndy and Maru!, I was able to eek out a few more hours of work. Sometime around 6am, I put my head down on the desk. When my labmates started arriving 2 hours later, it was back to business.

I am not a nerd. I'm a valiant hero, struggling tragically in the name of scientific discovery.

The long, lonely hours have forced me to question my motives. To some degree, I am terrified of failure and the detrimental effects it would entail, especially on my reputation within the deparment. It also has a lot to do with my stubborn streak, and it is probably most correlated to my deeply-rooted masochism.

So I've spent 35 of the past 36 hours in the lab. My notes have sleep-related drool stains on them. I got a nosebleed during an afternoon data collection session. I'm more than a little bit punchy.

The good news is that I'm pretty close to back on track. Starting from scratch yesterday morning, I've shown with statistical certainty that Ruffini's corpuscles strongly influence generalization of proprioception. That poster is almost done. Want to see some pretty pictures?

Post-Adaptive Force Myography!

This is probably not good for my training. Or whatever.

I've pretty much lost the ability to self-censor. Some random crap is finding its way through my fingers into the internets. Fortunately, I've been able to satisfy my desire to email and post inane, possibly offensive jokes by sending everything to Will, who is being astoundingly patient with me today. Thanks, Will!

So a bunch of bike gamers participated in my study. Those kids are the most competitive people I've ever met. This has been evident to me from the getgo, but the "Go for a High Score!" nature of my experiment prompted some intense rivalry. The competiton was hotly contested, but that's only because BeastMaster didn't have a chance to blow everyone away.

Burger King food is disgusting, but only slightly less so than Burger King coffee. Why does the campus coffee shop close so damn early?!?

Tables are boring and ugly, but they're the only means I have to present my results from the Grasp-Recognition study. My acronym is cool, though: Grasp Recognition for Automated Prosthetic Learning (GRAPL). How appropriate! How clever!

Seriously, I can't keep this up much longer.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

It Hits the Fan

In a stark contrast to my tendencies as an undergrad, life as a grad student has forced me to get my work done well in advance. I guess it was a byproduct of feeling constantly overwhelmed throughout my first year.

This new policy has proven itself to be just what the doctor ordered. It's even attenuated my neuroses a bit. Sometimes, though, it's not enough.

Last spring, for example, with finals approaching, I had a term project due in Pattern Recognition. I finished it 2 weeks early, leaving only the Powerpoint presentation on the to-do list. With 1 week to go, my laptop got stolen. This screwed me in every single class, but particularly in Pattern Rec. Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to recreate my code from memory and rerun everything. It was frustrating, especially as I kept making the same mistakes as I had weeks earlier, but it worked out well.

I've continued to be pretty good about staying ahead of schedule. Even when I got a little ambitious last month and submitted 2 different abstracts to the same conference, I knew it would just take a little more discipline to meet the deadlines. I've been cutting it close, but my workload has left me just enough time for training and racing and karaoke (the three basic elements of a Rutgers Cycling lifestyle).

So yesterday and today were the days wherein I would do my data analysis and make my posters. Yesterday went about as smoothly as can be expected. Today started off well...

And then I realized that half of my data was missing. The software worked perfectly, except instead of writing to excel files every time, sometimes it just created an excel file without writing to it. Half of the data from each subject was lost forever. And I need all of their data. So, that project was ruined.

Except it couldn't be ruined. I have to present it on Friday. There is no choice; I have to start from scratch and complete the entire project by Wednesday.

Whose fault is it? I'm going to take the hit on this one. While the software was written by somebody else, I'm the pointman on this project, and it was on me to ensure that it worked. How it broke between the next-to-last version and the final version we used, I will never know. I've learned my lesson, though, and I'm moving on.

So around noon I started writing emails. I solicited subjects from the BME department, I begged for volunteers from the Cycling listserv, I even wrote emails to people I hadn't seen in months to call in old favors. The odds were stacked against me, as I can't reuse subjects, I can't use lefties or anyone remotely ambidextrous, and it's midterms-week.

Fortunately, the response has been overwhelming. By 6pm, I had to start turning volunteers away. My friends are truly great people, and I am grateful in the most superlative sense of the word.

This still leaves data analysis. And poster making. I will probably not be sleeping tonight, and I'm going to have to let classwork and other responsibilities fall by the wayside for the rest of the week, but this will get done.

I will say this: It takes a lot more than a ruined project to break me. Nice try, though, universe.


McGill was kind enough to post photos from many of the circuit races. A few of them caught my attention, because they contain badass, dramatic, exciting representations of myself and my teammates. I will post them here, because you, my dear reader, deserve all the excitement and badass-osity the blogosphere can throw at you.

Riding comfortably in the early laps

Chaz(right) and Don, patrolling the pointy end of the field

Moving up the right side

Chris takes the Win!
The crowd (and the Jay) goes wild!

NinjaDon rolls in mid-pack for 22nd

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dirty Jobs

AngryMark wrote up Sunday's race well enough that I won't be rewriting it, except to add that I finished 22nd (about mid-pack), and to wish that somebody, anybody, would work with me off the front.

I will write instead about the nitty-gritty of volunteering at a race. Needless to say (and yet I say it anyway), nobody worked as hard as Rob, who put on an amazing weekend of races in the face of enormous weather-related adversity.
Henceforth, he shall be known as EpicRob

Also, I will post some pictures that SpikyHairWill, photog extraordinaire and badass A racer, took throughout the weekend:

Warming Up for the ITT

Post-Scrum, Pre-Crit

Corner at the Top of the Hill

BeastMasterChris, C-men's D1 Dominator

So, Livingston campus was shut down for the circuit race... mostly. Unfortunately, by virtue of being on a college campus, people had to go do their jobs, attend their events, etc, and we simply couldn't completely close the roads. We did our best to appease everyone, but some people were just ass-hats. To them I say this:

Cones and Barriers mean DO NOT GO HERE. They don't mean "Get out of your car and move the obstacles", and they don't mean "Drive offroad". They certainly don't mean "Drive directly at the person waving frantically at you to get off the road in a very one-sided game of chicken".

Now that that's off my chest, let me tell you about Parking Lot Cleanup. Since we're not a varsity sport, we basically had to turn ourselves inside out (especially Rob) to get access to our venue. To ensure the longevity of the Rutgers Classic, we make every effort to deny the powers that be any reason to complain about us. This includes ensuring the cleanliness of the parking lots where the 450 racers warmup, cool down, and generally habitate for a day.

HardTailJay made a very astute observation last year: Just once, it'd be nice to see the Rutgers Basketball team cleaning up the RAC's parking lot after a home game.

Then again, varsity athletics' spectators probably don't make as much of a mess as the bike gamers.

Granted, much of what we picked up was clearly not from our guests, like rusted metal and incredibly dirty gloves. Then again, the empty Gel packets and the fresh banana peels and apple cores were pretty clearly cycling-related.

It is also very clear to me now that a byproduct of bike racing is bottled urine. For some reason, bike racers can't coast the 200m to the restrooms. Instead, they pee in empty water bottles... and then neglect to throw those water bottles away.

So, as Jay and I wandered about the parking lot on Saturday, we kept track of how much urine we collected. The grand total was easily 3 gallons... plus the 1.5 gallons that we made Dartmouth dispose of before they left. And may I just say "Go to Hell" to UVM for leaving a full liter under their van, then waving at us as they drove away while we picked it up.

Karmic justice was served, though, on Sunday. I walked by UVM and asked them if they had any pee for us today. They said no. I said "well, that big empty cardboard box says UVM on it, please throw it away". One of them picked it up, and it flipped in the gusty wind and landed on him. Apparently, at least one of the UVM maniacs had micturated (in this fair city) in the cardboard box. The urine-soaked cardboard was most unpleasant for the UVM kid.

I laughed.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Power of Visualization

Like I said, I haven't slept well this week. Every time I closed my eyes, I pictured myself in today's crit. I thought about every corner, every straight, every climb, and how and when I would attack. Amazingly, today went almost exactly the same as I'd been imagining.

Somehow, I scrummed well enough to get a first-row spot (I am still very upset that the first thought in my mind was "I don't belong up here, let me get one of the other Rutgers guys to switch places". F that noise). Like a good 'crosser, I clipped in immediately and found myself in 4th wheel (AngryMark, being both a good 'crosser and a good sprinter, was already drilling it in 1st wheel).

Everything was like I hoped it would be. Lap after lap, I followed wheels and stayed comfortable. Cornering felt like child's play. Gaps closed before I even realized I was closing them. I got used to the fluidity of the pack; I was in 2nd wheel, then I was in 20th wheel, then I was in 10th wheel, and so on. It was very comforting to have a bunch of RU guys with me in the pack: AngryMark, BigGearWill, BeastMasterChris, and Noah constantly appeared around me. Sadly, HardTailJay didn't have a good day and was not in the pack with us.

Warming Up at Camp Rutgers... I'm 2nd from left, with the bare calves

With 3 to go, it was clear that I would, indeed, finally finish a freaking race. Goal #1: check. Now I needed a new goal, and as I took the 1st corner, I weighed my options: Sitting in would guarantee a pack finish (boring), sprinting could result in a top 10 (unrealistic), and attacking could risk everything but maybe earn me a win (holy crap!).

So we took the 2nd corner, and I immediately scrapped my plan, because I was relatively far back in 10th wheel and the wind was wicked. A gap opened on the sheltered side of the strung-out pack, and I rose out of the saddle to occupy it. Noticing that Chris was on the front, and that I was now suddenly in 4th wheel, and carrying a lot of momentum, I shifted up and sprinted. As I passed Chris, I shouted "Chris, block! Block!"

Holy crap did I just attack?!? Stop thinking! Dig dig dig go go go pedal pedal pedal!

Chris, being awesome, slowed slightly. Not enough to let others come around him, but enough to let me build a gap over the pack. Within 100m I had 5 seconds. At the 1st turn I had 10 seconds.

Oh my god this might actually work...

Then I hit the headwind. 2nd turn. I hit the hill. Oof. 3rd turn. As I got caught with 1 measly little lap to go, Chris counterattacked in a textbook display of team tactics. It seems that our work set up the team's sprinters, as AngryMark and Noah took advantage of our attacks to rest up before the bunch kick, or whatever it is sprinters do when their teammates are up the road. They got 2nd and 6th, respectively. I finished at the tail end of the pack in 30th.

I truly don't mind that I crossed the line in such a poor position (Will says he's never seen someone so happy to finish dead last in the pack). It was just so exhilerating to animate the race, dictating to the others how the drama would unfold, saying "You will suffer and chase me down, or else you will lose". Okay, so I don't quite have the fitness to make that move stick... yet. Still, this race was exactly what I needed, and I'd like to offer my enthusiastic congratulations to AngryMark, who put out massive power while showing true savvy to make the podium.