Adam's Blog

Tour de Waterloo 2015

Wednesday June 24, 2015
Category: Uncategorized

This year I revisited the Tour de Waterloo 76km Gran Fondo. Last year when I rode this event it was my first organized race. At the time I was hoping to finish with a speed over 32km/h average. I met that goal and broke away from my group with about 5 km to go to move up a few places, finishing 85th out of 205. I've had a great year on the bike so I was hoping for more.

The punchline: I was 24th out of 220 and I finished in under two hours. The process was interesting (at least for me). I woke up at my friend's house, ate, prepped, and rolled out at 7am in order to make it to registration. I got to ride through the stretch where I had made my move last year and familiarize myself with the last roads. I felt much faster and stronger as I did it and was feeling good going into the day. Strava told me that my comfortable warm-up was actually faster than my race effort from last year (I had a feeling about this but didn't get it confirmed until later). I rode past the final corner, which was covered in gravel and realized that the end of the race was going to be hairy. It seemed as though they moved the starting line too. Surely they wouldn't have moved the finish line, that was a highlight.

The morning glory team was registered almost entirely in the 133km edition. I found a few of them at the registration area and hung out until race time. We did a bit of warming up and rode past the final corner together and commiserated about the impending crashes. I got some advice to Kim about what I should do, and it lined up with my intuitions. There are two big teams here: one wants to do a leadout train like they did last year, and the other team was going to try and create a breakaway. The plan was to try and figure out which team would win and ride their coattails, but without spending any energy. I can wheelsuck with the best of them, so I was feeling good. By the time we got to the starting line my race was lined up so I tried to move my way to the front group. First mistake. I should have been there earlier. As it was I got up to about 70th or 80th before people would stop letting me though. I ended up starting with a friendly face, Katrina King. Excellent.

The race started and the neutral start meant we had an opportunity to move up through the group into the front pack. It took a bit more work than I had intended but once we were onto the first real road I was up with what I thought was going to be the front pack. So, now I sat in and waited for the pace to turn up. There was a lot of nervous shuffling and braking. We approached the first corner and caught sight of a breakaway forming. People started talking but none of the teams felt like chasing. It was about this time that I noticed that there was a really strong youth team and another team that I didn't know. Now there were four teams and a few individuals in the front pack.

There was a lot of push and pull and the breakaway team (Speed River) had a go off the front. I was well sheltered in the pack but it meant that I had to be careful to pick wheels that were riding strong and not about to go off the back. I was noticing that from my position I couldn't get involved in moves. I had missed the Speed River break, though I wasn't quite sure that they had the numbers to last, though they were moving away from us quickly. Until... they missed a turn. They quickly recovered and caught up to the pack and almost effortlessly moved back to the front. I was not moving well through the pack. I could move up a few positions on the hills but I wasn't aggressive enough to keep those spots through the straights.

It was about this time when I realized I wasn't having much fun. I didn't have any teammates to scheme with or to protect. I didn't have much to do except bide my time and watch the others fall away. A bigger breakaway escaped with enough representation that the pack sat up. We slowed down for awhile and then when the terrain got interesting we'd rip through a straight, shell a few more riders, catch a glimpse of the break and the lead riders would sit up. While I totally understood the tactic, it was a frustrating ride.

The break was eventually caught and we approached the finish with the sketchy corner. The penultimate straight was where I had planned to move up, so I did. There wasn't a lot of space and riders were crossing the yellow line for position. I wasn't willing to do this. It became clear to me that I don't have the nerve or aggression to win, though I have the drive. Maybe I should start time trialling? We got to the second last corner where last year the sprint train started. The rider in front of me took a terrible line and cut me off. Karma kicked in and they dropped their chain, but I had lost some momentum and I asked if they were OK (hoping to further up my own karma, not that I believe in it). The pace kicked up and I was steadily moving up. Not to the front but a few positions.

The corner. It was clear. No crashes. Now I had to sprint. Not my forte. I gave it everything and caught two or three more places to finish 24th, averaging over 38km/h and in the top pack. I was disappointed and embarrassed. I was 4th in my age category and mostly unhappy. I didn't finish as high as I wanted. I rode with people who didn't have each other's safety as their primary objective and although I did follow through the plan fairly well, it meant that I hadn't done any real work, so I didn't get much of a workout that day. I ended up wishing that I had just done a good old Sunday ride with the club.

I abstained from alcohol for a few weeks prior to the race. No snacks. Eating clean, enough to annoy my wife and to make my friends think I was a party poop. In the end it didn't really matter and wasn't really worth it. I'm not done with road racing but the sprint finish races will never be mine. Next year I'll enter the 133km version and ride with the team. This year I'll try the tour de terra cotta, which features a big hill in the middle of the loop that should play a bit better to my strengths, or the least of my weaknesses.

Here's the results from this year. All tolled, it is a huge improvement in just one year. I learned a lot. Hopefully I can learn to put it to use.

Website Overhaul Update

Friday July 01, 2011
Category: Uncategorized

I am trying to overhaul the website. I have been spending a lot of time researching what system I should use and how I should do things.

I have settled on Hyde. It is a python based engine that utilizes Jinja2 tempates, which are very close to Django. Right now I use 2 different content management systems that dynamically load and have different logins and passwords and I really don't need it. I love Hyde's idea of having static pages. There is nothing to login to on the net. No access points for hackers or spambots or script kiddies. I like that.

The downsides of Hyde is that it is quite big and flexible and requires some learning if you want to do something other than a boilerplate site. Currently the documentation isn't great but sufficient to get going. What Hyde really has is a few people who have open sourced their code to generate their sites (!!). I stumbled across James Clarke's site today and found it super useful.

With a templating system that allows for some real power under the hood I will be able to keep the look and feel of the site much more consistent and make a global change by only shifting a template. Right now I have some old youtube links on the site that use the <object> tag instead of the new <iframe> tag. They both work but I had to do a little massaging on each to get them to sit in. I have written a macro for Jinja that allows for a very simple way to integrate youtube links. If I change this macro then all youtube links will be updated across the whole site (once I recompile, of course).

After lots of sitting by a tree I came to the realization that I had places and media to put on the site. Also, that I felt that academic items were media items, just like pictures or other traditional media assets. So, I came up with this layout idea for all of my project pages.

Project Page

This can be handled nicely by Hyde. I would also like to be able to tag a project page as old and have it not included in my current list of projects but have it grouped in old projects, as I have now. No problem with Hyde's categories.

The major bonus of this system for me is git. I can make a git project out of this and everything gets stored in a format that both get and I can read. With Wordpress, indexhibit, or other mysql based sites only machines or super database wizards can read the files created and do anything with them. With Hyde and some careful planning, all of the content is a simple text file (or image file).

I am still a little dubious about comments on the site. I have received 1 non-spam comment in two years. So, I am looking into disqus to handle comments. The nice thing is that I can add them after I get the skeleton up and running.

There are some dirty Hyde details that I will start blogging about as I get my feet wet. Until then, any thoughts or links I might need please email me or put something in the comments here.

Happy Canada Day!

A real blog post

Monday May 09, 2011
Category: Uncategorized

Isn't a blog supposed to be about the musings of the blogger? I have done a lot of reporting of projects that I have finished. This summer I am going to try and post more works in progress and expose process a little more.

As an artist I try to just get things done. I rarely focus on code quality while developing and when a project works I almost never clean up the code for others to look at it. I'll try and fix that this summer. I have been playing with github to help me explore my code over time and look at the development of code by some other art practitioners.

I have also been investigating drupal as a CMS. Right now, my website uses indexhibit for the main site and a wordpress install for the blog. I am looking for a system that do everything and integrate with everything. I looked at Joomla once, but we mostly didn't get along.

You may have noticed my html5 experiment for the website. My problem with handrolling a site, besides the obvious, is compatibility. I'd love to have a site that changed to an appropriate form for every platform that happened to land here. I would like a wild animation if your browser could handle it, and something more simple yet interesting for iPhones, lower end Android devices, and all of the other interesting things that are now on the internet.

I don't have comments enabled on this blog. If you have ideas or comments send me an email or hit me up on twitter. I'd prefer to talk in public so let's talk on twitter. Let's try #fixadamswebsite for the tag to keep the conversation together. Be patient with me though, I am thinking that revamping my website will take the next 4 months.

Over the summer I will update my website to help you few readers to get what you want from this place a little easier and more relevant as you explore. I'll also clean up my code and make it easier for you to find so you can use it or investigate it.

Applescript + iTunes = Simple Functionality Added

Sunday April 10, 2011
Category: Uncategorized

I like listening to music. I prefer when the song finishes. I don't want to stay hovering over iTunes for the end of the song. There isn't a button to do this but we do have Applescript. Here is the hard way to do it.

tell application "iTunes"
    if player state is playing then
        if selection is not current track then
            reveal current track -- reveal selects current track...
        end if
        play selection with once
    end if
end tell

Thanks to Doug's Applescript for iTunes reference for the reveal command.


Sunday February 27, 2011
Category: Uncategorized
A glitch photo of a sunset.

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