South of the border

Tomorrow I will be heading out on another trip, this time going south
of the border to Mexico. Specifically the province of Durango. This
trip will be very different than others as I am going as part of the
Youth Technology Corps. This will be YTC’s 6th trip to Mexico and my
first. The group consists of 20 Chicago public school kids (many of
whom refurbished the computers we are donating) and ten adults. The 100
computers that we are donating have already been shipped and are
waiting for us in the city of Durango! To those of you who donated to
this cause in the past (hardware or otherwise) many thanks! I very much look
forward to this trip although I feel totally unprepared! I don’t really
know what the Internet situation is going to be like while I’m there,
but I’ll do my best (as always) to keep blogging!

Using Excel to analyze GPS data

GPS data plot in Excel – click for more detail

After Greg’s comment about my lack of GPS data analysis, I decided to go on a quest for software that will do it for free! I found this thread which supplied me the Excel add-in tool to do just that. Of course, I had to figure out how to convert my GPS data log to the proper format – and GPSBabel fit the bill perfectly! (I remember Fitz referring to it in a post on his blog, but Blogspot’s search blows!) Once I figured out how to parse the data I needed – I got the graph above! For some reason the speed is WAY off (I’m going to see if the author can’t help me with that) – but you can get the general idea of how my speed changed over the length of the course. Again, data was only logged in 30 second intervals, I hope to have more data next time. Click here for the Speed and Altitude vs. time graph. (changes in altitude were small, but you can actually see the effect on my speed!)

Don’t leave home without it!

Went for a bike ride yesterday to Circuit City to pick up some needed
hardware for the upcoming trip to Mexico (this Saturday!). I figured it
was a quick ride and that I wasn’t in “compete mode” so a helmet wasn’t
necessary. After about 5 minutes of riding I realized that it is indeed
necessary! Chicago streets, though they may have bike lanes, are not
bastions of safety! I was almost to my destination as I made a left
turn off of Division to reach Elston. I was riding on the sidewalk and
looking to the side noticing that there were bike lanes on the road
when suddenly my bike disappeared from underneath me! The next thing I
know I’m putting my hand out to brace for impact and I’m sliding across
the pavement. I forgot to take a picture of the road-rash on my
backpack (it took the brunt of the impact) and I’m lucky that I
fell on it! (also lucky that I had emptied it before leaving home) The
fall must have looked pretty insane! When I finally came to a stop, I
grimaced waiting for the pain to finally reach my brain – nothing.
Somehow I managed not to do any major damage! I didn’t even draw blood!
Minor scrapes on the elbow and a sore left forearm from bracing myself
against the fall. As I turn around to see what happened I realize that
the sidewalk disappears (as can be seen in the photo above) and there
is 6 inch plus curb! I’m taking this as a warning never to leave home
without my helmet! Yikes!


GPS log of my 20k on the bike

As I alluded to in my previous entry, Saturday’s Triathlon was a disaster. I had been counting on the fact that I would be riding my bike to work everyday from the new apartment to get into shape – given  that I finally moved in last weekend, I was only able to really get one good bike ride in this past week. It was to be my first and last training ride for the Triathlon. I did the bike portion of a Triathlon last summer in 46:47, so I was hoping to at least come close to that number. Unfortunately my Polar S150’s batteries died, so I really had no idea how I was doing (heartrate, speed, distance or otherwise) while on the ride. I did manage to bring the GPS, although it was only tracking every 30 seconds (I thought I had set it to 1sec intervals). As you can see by the GPS data above, the ride was in the heart of the Fermilab grounds. It started off just outside of the 5 lane pool where Catalin (and the other swimmers) did their laps for the swim portion. As there were only 5 lanes it was almost 2 hours (~10am) before we were up. I started off a bit too strong and it took me a good 5 minutes to get my pace and breathing settled down. The first portion of the ride was on the roads leading to the 4-mile long Tevatron (the most powerful in the world!), after which I did 2 laps of the ring. I thought for a few moments how much faster the particles were going around than myself… then I thought about the twinkie. I felt relatively good during the ride, but it was hard to judge how well I was doing as the only other bike that I saw on the course was this one! (as he flew by doing his 20k in 27:04!) As I arrived to the transition zone, Greg told me he thought I did better than last year. That was later confirmed as I managed a respectable 44:29, respectable for a mountain bike with slicks! (thanks again TK!) 16.8mph average – no too bad. I was just thrilled to do better than last year!

So what about the disaster that I referred to? The results speak for themselves. Notice that some body’s time is missing? I’ll just put it this way, it doesn’t take a PhD in physics to follow the course markings! Ah well, there is always next year!

For those of you who don’t know what I posted a picture of yesterday, I suggest you get in your car and head over to Sarkis for a Disaster sandwich! Experience is the path to enlightenment!