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   Breakfast in the morning with Pokie followed by a very short 1.5 hour day of work.  I had debated just working late last night and not coming in at all today, but I wanted the ride around the lake.  Yesterday after work I went directly to bed, and woke up this morning very refreshed.  After doing some housekeeping items at work, it was time to ride the north side of the lake for my return home.  On the way I finished a most excellent book, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greene.  I have read some good books on my many bike rides and trips to/from work, but this one stands out as the one that really made me think.  The concepts of Relativity are hard; Quantum Mechanics is harder; and Superstring Theory harder still.  Yet so many questions I had were answered, and I gained a great deal of insight into areas of particle physics and cosmology.  T-duality still blows my mind.  Among other things, it prevents singularities (like those found in black holes by the equations of General Relativity) showing that the radius (or distance between two points) is also equal to the inverse radius (r=1/r).  Apparently this relationship holds in the real world, but our concept of distances are so large (compared to the Planck scale) we would never observe the inverse.  Of course, the book only brushed over the most broad topics of Superstring Theory.  I haven't the math background to touch the metric tensors of General Relativity, yet alone Quantum geometry used in things like Loop quantum gravity and especially not the Calabi-Yaus manifolds key to concepts such as Mirror symmetry.  About all I can do is appreciate the breakthroughs others have made in these fields and try and understand their consequences.  But that understanding is pretty exciting.  In addition, I have a fantastic resource most people do not: a physics PhD whose background is in particle physics I can ask questions.  Thanks Dr. Pokie!!
   With my book finished and my ride at an end I grabbed a quick shower and then went to the bank.  For the past 2 years I have been building credit.  I started with a credit score of 0 (seriously) and slowly working it up so that when it comes time to buy a house I will be able.  Six months ago I was told to return to the bank in 6 months to increase my credit card limit and take out a loan for something.  Those last two steps were to put my credit score above where it needed to be.  When I got to the bank, I was told my credit score was already high enough to get a home owners loan, sitting at a comfortable 753.  I increased my line of credit on my credit card (despite never holding a balance of more than around $150 in a month) and now get cash back (whatever, I still only plan to buy gas with it).  But I was told not to worry about getting a loan because my score was just fine.
   My ride home from work was 500 Calories shy from allowing me to play fat boy, and the Airport-Ashton run is a quick 12 mile run that burns around 600 Calories.  I decided that was exactly what I needed.  My new book, a history of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, has a good start--I do enjoy my dry history and lately have focused a lot about the times around and during World War I.
   One downside of a major cycling spell are the results when you push yourself just a little too hard.  While I am use to feeling the after effects of a long ride in my legs, I think I've also come down with a virus making the rounds.  The results are feeling extra drained.  I guess that is better than what I've been told are the effects it has had on other people.
   On my 47 miles ride on Saturday, I found that grilled cheese with feta and artichoke are a really great combination.  Then again after riding for 2 hours in +85°F (+29°C) at >70% humidity, maybe any food would have seemed like a great combination.

June 13, 2016

May cycling

Cycling May, 2016

While it is June, I wanted to have a look at my cycling from May. I cycled 19 days, which is down form the 23 I was able to cycle in April. Seems the rain that April usually gets was deferred to May this year. In these 19 days I biked 410 miles and logged 45 hours of physical activity, burning more than 30,000 Calories. The number of hours break my previous record set in October of 43 hours, but the number of miles does not break the record of 450 set in August. On average I biked 21.6 miles each day of activity. This doesn’t separate out skating for which I can’t track millage, so actual millage is slightly higher.

Pictured are all 410 miles for May. Much of it traces over the same paths to and from work. The image spans about 21 miles across and 12 miles vertically.

Maya Atop the World

Maya Atop the World

After yesterday's upper 80s and high humidity, this morning's temperature of 63°F (17°C) seemed rather chilly but most welcome. Today it was truly time for me to raise the bar. My longest ride in a single day was in late October at 51.6 miles, just beating a ride I made in late September at 50.23 miles, which beat the next highest ride of 44.45 miles. If I were to meet my goals for the day it would shatter these numbers.

While I have cycled to Devil's Lake twice before they were both one-way trips. I noticed that after a hike up the rock face I felt fairly rested and that maybe I could cycle back home. After all, the short version of this trip is only 32 miles, and by the time I was ready to try the ride I could already do 40 miles in a day. However, in October the days are so short I would not have had time to complete the trip before losing sunlight. And so this milestone would have to wait. Now, after a good start to my cycling season, averaging around 29 miles/day, and the weather finally cooperating, it was time.

The ride began just after 11:15 am after I rallied the team of people who would meet me at the lake for a hike. I already had 86 miles just from the last two days alone, but I did not feel fatigued. For the approach I wanted to take the slightly longer route the ran mostly parallel long highway 12, going through Roxbury and Sauk City. The segment from Sauk City to the lake is almost all along Highway 12, rather boring, and contains a slow 512 foot hill climb. But I had an audiobook on superstring theory. So by the time I reached this point of the ride was fine putting my head down, putting a bunch of torque the peddles, and concentrating on my reading material.

At the lake I could hardly keep my mouth moving fast enough to take in food at the rate my body desired to have it. In short order I met up with Noah, Maya, Steve, and Zach. Our plan was, after I finished shoveling food into my face, to hike up the rock face. Maya is only 4-years-old, but she was keen on climbing. I wasn't sure she was going to make it to the top without wanting to turn back,. While her shorter legs were a handicap she was very persistent, refusing help and wanting to figure out how to navigate her way to the top—and she made it. Kids. I knew they had endless amounts of energy, but the persistence impressed me. She led the remainder of the hike, keeping the rest of us jogging in order to keep up. When she found a rock face that met her fancy, she would scale it. When the rock face was too difficult for her tiny body despite giving it a lot of effort, she would seek out a new path. Never a request for assistance or pout for failed attempts. In fact, Noah said on their way up the main rock face they passed a boy who was probably around 13 and pretty unsure of his ability to climb, only to see a 4-year-old showing him how it was done. Well done Maya.

After a good hour and 45 minutes of hiking it was time to get back on the move. My shoulders, which are usually the weakest link in long rides, felt rested up and I was ready to attempt the trek home. For the return trip I would travel the east side of the lake. I had never traveled this way by bicycle before and found the trip began with a steady 558 foot climb, followed immediately by a 632 foot drop. The climb will isn't the most pleasant way to start a ride but it really was the only one. The drop might have been nice if it wasn't for the fact I had a pretty good headwind to limit speeds. Still I made it to Merrimac in good time and took the ferry across the Wisconsin River. Although I hadn't looked into the route too much I decided to head south west rather than north east. I had done the north east road before, and both paths seemed to loop to Lodi. Once in Lodi I kept to the south west to travel along Lodi Springfield road though Lodi Marsh State Natural Area. This portion of the ride I had done once before and really enjoyed the scenery. Once out of the natural area I worked my way to the village of Dane where it was time for a snack break. After that I only had 12 miles back home which was mostly a north-south set of road segments that, as most of my ride, leads to the Pheasant Branch Creek Conservancy.

I arrived home tired but not thoroughly exhausted. Had I needed I could have continued to peddle, but I was nonetheless ready for the ride to be complete. This milestone ride has been completed. Now time for the numbers.

The entire day consisted of 7 hours and 46 minutes of physical activity, with an hour and 41 minutes of that being a hike. The remaining 6 hours and 5 minutes were pushing peddles. In total I burned 4,666 Calories—more than twice the 2,050 Calories I require for a typical day. Total travel, including the 1.5 mile hike, was 76.3 miles, blowing past my previous record of 51.6 miles by almost 25 miles (50%). In addition, with a week full of longer rides, I have also destroyed by previous weekly mileage record of 177.07 miles, clocking in at 250.36 miles over the previous 7 days—a 41% increase. This also sets the record for hours of activity (23.39 hours/week) and calories burned 15,526 Calories/week. And I'm pretty happy with that. It will be awhile before I'm ready to challenge this personal record. Tomorrow I know I will feel today. But for now, I'm going to be pleased with the results.

The Oasis and the Iron Horse

The Oasis and the Iron Horse

   An other hot, but clear day.  With nothing else limiting me I decided to go on a longer bike ride today.  The goal was to bike first to Indian Lake Country Park via Martinsville, then west through Marxville to Mazomaine, and then home via Black Earth, and Cross Plains.  With temperatures around 90°F (32.2°C) with 71% humidity, I knew I would need a good supply of water.  My bicycle carries two water bottles, and I keep a two litter bottle in my one of my panniers.  What I didn't expect was that after 15 miles when I reached Indian Lake that I would have emptied the two litter.  I still had two full water bottles, but that would not last.  Indian Lake does not have running water.  My next stop would be Mazomaine, and I had to hope my water supply would last that long.  Lucky for me, I passed by Halfway Prairie School.  They had a hand water well pump that replenished my supplies.
   In Mazomaine I stopped at a little cafe and had some food.  It gave me some time to cool down and dry off a little before getting back on the road.  For the return trip I had a light tail wind.  I made good time through my remaining towns and finally back to Middleton.
   Total travel was 43.1 miles over 3 hours and 34 minutes, burning some 2,422 Calories in the process.  Despite the heat my heat rate was fairly typical, but my speeds were a little slower.
   Friday is breakfast with Pokie and Steve downtown Madison.  This Friday was a little different through.  I would be working onsite for the client whose project I have been working on for the past several months.  Their shop is located near the west side of Lake Kegonsa.  It was forecast to be ridiculously hot today, but I wanted to cycle.  It turns out the location I needed to go is about the same distance from breakfast as my normal work is from my house--about 14.5 miles.  So after a hardy breakfast of pancakes and eggs it was time to traverse some new ground.  This would be the first time I traveled on any of the trails south of the belt line, and I made my way along Capital City Trail for a little while until it was time to head south.  It was a decent ride, although very humid.  I arrived onsite pretty much drenched.  However, they had showers and I was quickly rinsed, in dry clothing, and immersed in work.
   When it was time to leave, the temperature was already 90°F (32.2°C) with +60% humidity.  There was a steady breeze from the south west at 21 MPH (33.7 km/h) with guests of 26 MPH (42 km/h).  I would be heading west for half the trip to travel wouldn't be quick, but I'd have a breeze to help fight some of the heat.  I snaked my way west and north until I got back to Capital City Trails.  I took that mostly west, through the north side of Fitchburg until the Southwest Commuter Path.  That took my north with a good tailwind until I got into some residential area on the west side of Madison.  There I snaked my way back to Middleton and home.
   I had traveled a total of 43.5 miles, burned 2,411 Calories, and drank more than 2 litters of water.  I decided I deserved to play fat kid again and after a shower walked across the street for some amazing Indian food.  Although the rest of the house was fairly warm despite the air-conditioners continued efforts, my basement was cool and comfortable.  Tired from a long week, I turned in quite early and slept happily.