Sunday, June 29, 2008

2008 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey Results

Raul, Ilana and I got together for a 3-person co-ed team for the race. Ilana and I got 3rd in duo last year. The course was longer, more difficult but a little less exposed. Of course, it was in the 90s yesterday. It was so hot that my jersey was wet from sweat BEFORE every lap.

That's hot.

These goofy technical fabrics don't work when it's that humid and you sweat like a pig. Or rather, when _I_ sweat like a pig. Peeling that jersey off at the end of every lap felt great. My jerseys weighed 2 pounds when I was done every lap.

All four of them... at 10.5 miles each... in the heat.

I thought I would go out and do a double after the run but I suck at running and Raul was kitted up when I came into the start/finish. Instead of just handing me a bottle as I requested, he said 'You want me to go?' and I said 'Yes!'

The laps later on felt a bit better on the later laps. I took JoFo's advice and geared down for some of the climbs (granny gear) and pushed it on the less-steep climbs and flat stuff. No brakes on the downhill sections, of course. The heat was serious so keeping the body temp down on the climbs was a good call for me.

It had rained a bit the last few weeks (didja notice?) and the course was SEVERELY rutted out in some sections, a little muddy in a few sections and really tacky on most of it. Last year, it was so dry that it was VERY sketchy in the turns. I really leaned on a lot of the turns and the off-camber stuff but I wasn't coming loose at all. After my first lap of not checking my tire pressure (22psi), I bumped it up to 38 and probably could have run even more with no problems. The higher-pressure helped me carry speed through the rolly sections. I ROLLED past a few people at the bottom of some climbs because I carried so much speed into it. It wasn't my power, it was my momentum conservation.

Racing against the other City Bikes co-ed team of Mathias, Drajem and Lynn was a lot of fun. Plenty of trash-talking and laughing in the pit. We managed to beat them by only a few minutes. Barry and his team (2nd) ended up closing in on us after a really bad first lap (broken chain, flat). Of course, that's racing, right? Your equipment has to work.

We were all working together to make sure that everyone was healthy. I don't just mean my dcmtb team, but everyone out on the course. I was prepared to stop and help every person I saw stopped out on the course. And there were a lot of people 'taking a rest' out there. I asked every person if they needed anything and encouraged them to keep moving, especially when I heard the thunder. Luckily, the storm passed to the north of us.

Tough day. I got a kiss from Scud on the podium (jealous?) and a new '1st Place 2008 EX2' pint glass to add to the collection. I have quite a collection of t-shirts and pint glasses and we've started rotating some out of service.

Big ups to my dcmtb teammates for a great day. I think Tommy Vaughn had the fastest lap in the 55 minute range. I think my fastest lap was just under an hour but I'll have to check the results to be sure. I wonder if they are up yet...

Thanks to Jim Harman, Bike Lane and all of the other sponsors for a great event.

That 4th lap hurt...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hot Green Roof Action!

I was up in scenic Harford County, MD, last Saturday at the landfill (work-related) and I stopped by Emory Knolls Farm which is just around the corner.

The picture on the right is the primary workspace for all of the horitculture-type stuff going on. It's got a solar setup as well as a green roof that is pictured below, left. There were a ton of bugs flying around the plants when I was up there. That's a good sign for sure.

I have some green roof related duties at work and had heard about Ed Snodgrass and his farm and I was really interested in seeing it. A quick email later, I had an appointment to check it out.

Ed does green roof plants. Big surprise, his website is There is some pretty cool history of his family and this farm on the website. Click on 'about us' and start reading.

I have been on a gardening kick recently, probably from my green roof research, so I really geeked-out at Ed's place. My buddy Kent does solar stuff and I have learned a lot from him which helped inform my conversation with Ed.

Ed has got his entire back-lot operation off the grid. There's a big container next to his greenhouses with three 800 gallon tanks inside. The container is insulated and on this 85 degree Saturday, it was downright cool in there. The solar panels on top of the container power his pumps that bring water up from the well. Some float switches keep it from overflowing and he's got a small battery bank to store up some power for the low-sun days. The pic to the right is inside the container.

One cool thing he showed me was that he uses the straight current off the cells to power stuff, no inverter. He says that he gets much higher levels of efficiency that way. He's pointing to that in the picture. That's a big container of water behind him...

This is one of the green houses where Ed grows his plugs of sedum plants. Sedums are hardy succulents with great drought tolerance that grow in low-nutrient soils. Many have a significant tolerance to temperature change as well.

Ed has provided green roof plants for quite a few projects including plants for the Maryland Department of the Environment, Radio Shack World HQ in TX, US Dept of the Interior buildings and more. Almost all of them are listed on Ed's website.

If you get some time, check out the principles behind Low Impact Design for stormwater management. If you live in a watershed, you should understand your impact. This isn't touch-feely-hippy stuff, this is money-saving, intelligent stuff.

The American Society of Landscape Architects has a nice roof that has an interesting innovation. The plants are under some grates that allow you to walk around and hang out on the roof in the middle of the green roof while the plants, just underfoot, keep the roof cool and slow down the run-off when it rains.

Of course, you can't expect a guy like Ed to not be creative, right? He's known as 'Mr Green Roof' and he is passionate, for sure. Here is a shot of an old bathtub with some llama bones and his plants growing around it.

Hit me with questions. See y'all at the 12 hours of Cranky Monkey tomorrow!

Good article from WaPo about rock gardening, which is what I'm trying to do at home...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Father's Day Present

Emma woke up on Saturday, came downstairs a few minutes after Jeremy and shared bee-cereal with him for breakfast. (Bee cereal is honey nut cheerios - it has a bee on it).

After breakfast, they wanted to go outside and play. Jeremy wanted his pirate bike (his Hotwalk) and Emma asked for her doggy bike (her hotrock 16 with (duh) doggies on it). I took the training wheels off last summer and she has not been interested in riding it once. I put down my coffee and walked down into the garage with them. I handed Jeremy his pirate bike, buckled his helmet and he rode down onto the sidewalk, turning to wait for his big sister.

I handed Emma the bike and she asked me if I could take the pedals off (to be like Jeremy's bike). With my coffee cooling upstairs and the sleep still in my eyes I told her 'No' and waited for her reaction. 'It's OK, daddy, I'll just ride it like a two-wheeler.'

She pushed the bike to the edge of the garage, pushed off, pulled her feet up and coasted to meet up with Jeremy.

She balanced!

With my mouth agape, I walked out of the garage, shirtless, coffee-less and shoeless to see her push off after her brother, put her feet on the pedals and ride away down the sidewalk.

She did it. She was finally riding without training wheels. I called to Susan, whom I heard walking around the kitchen above, and she came running out with her camera to watch Emma ride up and down the street while I stood in the middle to direct traffic, mostly naked.

Her brother stayed squarely behind her, rubbing his front tire to her rear tire to make a funny noise. They both laughed as they piloted their little machines around the street, Emma beaming with self-confidence and pride.

I am so proud. Best father's day present ever.

Susan has the pics on her camera. I'll try to grab those later...

I am so proud.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I Want An Electric Car

I think. I mean, if I MUST have a car, it should be electric. Hell, I'd drive a golf cart to work if I could get one that could go 35mph...

Good news here at least. The future of the Hummer brand? Is that even a question?

I remember the Hummer backlash from a few years ago. Something like 'Real soldiers are dying in their Hummers so you can play soldier in yours' or something.

Obviously, if you google 'electric car' you'll see A TON of stuff out there. And don't forget the Automotive X Prize. I think the winner gets $10m so why don't they call it the 'Automotive $10m Prize'? I guess they are trying to teach algebra or something. 'Solve for x.'

Whatever. I'm still riding my bike to work as much as I can. I hate mountain biking. I had to DRIVE to work today so I could RIDE MY BIKE on the dirt after work. I was totally thinking of how to ride my bike to work, ride home then drive to Patapsco but it just doesn't make any sense.

My commute (in case you care) involves me riding the road bike (.7m) with the trailer on it to drop Jeremy off at daycare, leaving the trailer there then riding to work. Usually on the way home, I have enough time to go home, change and pick up the Bontrager to get the boy. I'm not sure how that Burley rear triangle clamp is going to work on carbon in the long-run so consider this a test!

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