Friday, November 07, 2008

Prop 8

Ok its been a while and much has happened and I would have blogged about it, but...much was happening. In fact I have and am considering knocking blogging to touch. I am at the moment, undecided on that score. However, I felt this was worthwhile. In my now ex-home of California, people voted for Prop 8, a law that outlaws gay marriage. As a reaction a friend posted this quote from my favourite atheist Thomas Jefferson on her Facebook page . It says all that needs to be said.

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson


Monday, August 04, 2008

Favorite Photo Blog

I have a lot of feeds from some great photo blogs but The Big Picture a blog on the Boston Globe's website is by far my favorite. Every few days they publish a set of photos around a similar theme. Today's is surfing. Follow this link, the pictures are breath taking. This is one worth bookmarking.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 21, 2008


Downieville is a little town in the Sierra's nestling in a valley along the North Fork of The Yuba River. Like most of these little towns it was settled during the gold rush of 1849. You can still come across people panhandling for gold in the river. These days the town is more likely to be populated with mountain bikers than bearded old prospectors. It's the location of the annual world famous Downieville Classic mountain bike race, which consists of two events, a cross country race and a gnarly downhill race where you descend over 5000 feet of heart poundingly steep and technical single track. We went up to ride the downhill course. It's perfectly possible to top 30 mph as you descend, and many of the pro racers go at over 40 mph. We witnessed some of them on a practice ride (the race was the weekend after we were there) and it's amazing the speeds they travel at. I think it helps to be a little crazy to race mountain bikes downhill. The course is a constantly changing roller coaster of a ride, carving dust tracks give way to gut wrenching steep, slick, speedy sections, which suddenly change terrain and the trail cross multiple streams before entering a rock strewn forest where the slightest loss of concentration will be punished. And that's just the first ten minutes. Of the five of us that rode the trail (we did it twice, once each day) three crashed, none seriously...well not very seriously. Some nasty cuts. To add to the excitement, one of my mates who was right in front of me rode right past a brown bear! My eyes were so glued to the trail that despite being twenty feet behind I never saw the bear. However another friend who was a bit behind us was spooked when the bear ran right across the trail on front of him. I'm not sure if I'm glad I missed the bear or sad I never got to see it.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dancing In The Streets

No time for writing so photos it is. This was taken just off Tompkin's Square Park (where I lived 18 years ago). A jazz band was playing on the back of a parked truck and this couple were grooving to the music. A very pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. More proof of New York's increasing livability. This area although fun to socialise in, was dangerous and decrepit when I lived there. My roommate at the time had his neck slashed with a razor blade in a very nasty mugging. He was incredibly lucky to get a way with only a nasty scar. The EMT people told him if his attacker had been standing a centimeter closer he would have cut his jugular.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chatting in the East Village

No time to write so some more photos from my trip to NY. This is on the corner of 6th and A in the East Village (the best breakfast place in NY is the 7A on 7th and A). I used to live on 8th and B eighteen years ago, and I always try and take in breakfast at the 7A when I am in town. I was walking around the neighborhood, which has been cleaned up dramatically since I lived there, when I came across a little outdoor stage with a jazz band playing. The couple in the photograph were hanging out nearby.

Single speed bikes like this are the new toy for urban hipsters. Even in hilly San Francisco they are very common. Simple, sleek, light and elegant, almost maintenance free. In relatively flat NY they are the perfect commuter vehicle. Most often the rear gear is fixed, i.e you can't coast, no freewheel. This means the bikes often do not have brakes, or at most a front brake (in this case a rear brake). You slow down by slowing your pedaling. This takes a little time to fully master, but it makes for a very efficient pedaling stroke when you switch back to a freewheel bike. You have to be able to pedal around corners and downhill, when many on freewheel bikes would coast.

Not wearing a helmet seems to be the norm when riding a fixie. Helmets will never make you look cool, but I've witnessed many bike crashes where severe head trauma was avoided by wearing one, and seeing people ride on busy city streets without one makes me cringe.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Al We Hardly Knew Ya

Anyone see Al Gore's, Obama endorsement speech last night. Where was that guy eight years ago ? If he had that much fire in his belly back then George Bush would have been an also ran. In fact Obama speech afterwards seemed limp in comparison.

Labels: ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brooklyn From a Taxi

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

You can't but feel happy looking at this. At least I can't. It looks like crossing this bridge on a bike more regularly is in my future. More anon...

BTW I am getting pixelation when I upload photos - doesn't matter whether I use Flickr, or upload directly, I'd love to know how to fix it. There is no pixelation on the originals. It's driving me crazy, I've compared html with other photo blogs, especially those where they posted from Flickr and I cannot find any difference. Any ideas out there?

Labels: ,

Monday, June 09, 2008

San Jose Triathlon 2hrs 28 Mins

I am very pleased with this time, I was told I could expect to go up to fifteen minutes shorter at San Jose than at Wildflower, so cutting twenty minutes from my Wildflower time was very satisfying indeed. There are reasons - San Jose is much flatter, there is only one steep climb on the bike, and the run is pretty flat. Also, the swim is 250 metres shorter than a normal Olympic distance swim, not that that’s a whole lot, but it knocks a few minutes of the swim.
That said, the swim was a pain in the ass, I went off a little too fast, and had to slow down, I also veered off course a few times on the circular course, and my goggles let in some water on the right side which is very annoying and makes it hard to sight the course buoys. I was glad to get out of the water, but my swimming is strong and I should be getting better times. 22 minutes is fine, but in the pool I can knock at least 3 minutes off that. I need to be more aggressive and less intimidated. I was thrilled with my bike ride; I did the 40k in 1:10, and managed to keep up with the time trial bikes which are much more aero-dynamic than a normal road bike. On the one hill I zipped by the TT bikes, but I was head to head with the same group of riders on the flats (most of the course). The run however, was a bitch. I made a big mistake the day before by going for a ride with some friends and overdoing it. I went 10 miles out not realising I had a lot of climbing on the way back. That was a dumb move. After pushing hard on the ride, my legs felt like concrete on the run. I did the 10K in 50 minutes but I was hoping to get closer to 46 minutes. It’s a lesson learned. Taper properly. Lack of sleep was also a factor, as I also had to get up at 4:30AM to drive 60 miles to be on time for the 7:20AM start time. For a variety of reasons I hadn't gotten a solid nights sleep all week none of which helped. Despite all that at the end of the day coming in under 2:30 was thrilling. I was 34th in my age group and 180th overall. It was a very cool event, 1500 people and very well organised. There is such a positive vibe at these events that it carries through for a few days afterwards.

In an aside, one of my friends, who lives in the US was back in Ireland and did the Wicklow 200K bike ride, and said that while the ride was spectacular, it was the worst organised event he has ever done. No rest station until 100K, and then it didn’t have any energy drinks or gels, and at the beginning only one machine to check in over a 1000 people. Any Irish readers out there do the ride? What was your experience?

Labels: ,

Friday, June 06, 2008

Need For Speed

This is my usual view of my mate C, whether we be on the flats or the hills.

Labels: , ,