Saturday, February 15, 2020

Race Report - 2020 Fort Ord CCCX XC MTB


Introduction

“When we were sixteen, my friend Shelly and I would mix rum with grape soda. We called it Welch’s Belches.”

I wish I could continue in that vein, but that’s not my story to tell. My subject, alas, is just another bike race. I’m on two teams: a road team and (as a coach) a high school mountain bike team. Both teams have a loose tradition of writing race reports. In the case of the mountain bikers, coaches have to really lean on student athletes to get some snippets, which are compiled anonymously, as you can see here. The grown-up roadies are more apt to write, but less apt to race … especially me. My only routine outing is the Central Coast Cyclocross (CCCX) Cross-Country (XC) mountain bike race at Fort Ord near Monterey. (Just in case that’s not enough juicy keywords to attract readers: iPhone Samsung Galaxy Tesla Silicon Valley Oscars celebrity gossip Scarlett Johansson Jessica Biel Mila Kunis.) At this event, both the kids and their coaches get to race.

Fortunately, my tradition is to go heavy on the food descriptions and mercifully light on the race details. With no further ado here is my report (Gucci Ballenciaga Valentino Prada Versace). If you’re in a rush, fear not: there are several versions, from briefest to goriest.


Executive summary 
  • Dinner wasn’t as huge as everybody said
  • Had my student athletes paid more attention they’d have seen me be a hypocrite
  • It turns out I kind of suck at this sport
  • Pointless suffering can be really fun in the right company
  • I came away with poison oak rash again
  • At least I enjoyed my beer afterward, and took a great Beck’st from the experience...
Executive limerick

A biker and wannabe bruiser,
Did a bike race and came out a loser.
He thought he was fast
But this myth couldn’t last
So he’s trying out being a boozer.

Short report

Race stats: 22.4 miles (vs. 19.6 last year); 2,362 feet of vertical gain (vs. 1,608 last year); 1:41:07 race time (vs. 1:26:27 last year); 13.3 mph average speed (vs. 13.6 mph last year). Conclusion: I was 97.8% as fast as  I was last year, over a race that was about 15% longer and 46% hillier, plus I’m a year older. I guess I should be happy about all this, but actually, isn’t it pathetic that I have to shore up my ego this way? Meanwhile, last year I missed the podium by just one spot, and this time I was much further from it. (How much further? None of your damn business.)

Pre-race Dinner: At Gino’s in Salinas:
  • Cream of asparagus soup that was hella good (I was thinking to myself, “This rivals what they have at Duarte’s” and a second later our head coach said, “You know, this soup might be as good as Duarte’s”);
  • Slice after slice of bread and butter because I was dying of hunger and the entrees were made-to-order (i.e., a bit slow to arrive);
  • This crazy pasta special of fettuccine with cream, brandy, stock, mushroom, spinach, and Gorgonzola with steak tips which was actually very, very good (though I needed the 5,000 calorie size, not the 3,000).
I also inherited some fettuccine Alfredo (alas, not as good as what I make) from one of my student athletes who, incongruously, couldn’t finish it. Everybody was groaning about how full they were and several of them, particularly the adults, left food on their plates. I wanted to go around scavenging because I was in one of those moods where I could not be sated.

Breakfast: Two thick slices banana bread; one cup super-strong coffee, black; the tip of a croissant I broke off because I couldn’t commit to a whole one (as they’re often gross, though this was rather edible).

During race: Two sleeves of Clif shot blox: one GoLytely flavor, one Jagermeister flavor (okay, kidding, they were both salted watermelon, 2x sodium); a large bottle of energy drink; 2 ½ bottles of water.

Glycogen window treat: At least four oatmeal cookies. A fellow coach shared my towering gratitude that whatever unsung parent baked these amazing cookies last year is still around this year (or has been replaced by an equally talented baker).

Lunch (post-race): Tri-tip tacos with grilled onions, jack cheese, fresh tomatoes, and guacamole … are you fricking kidding me?! Also two or three cheeseburgers, hella kettle chips, and a bunch of Acme bread. Probably some more cookies too, knowing me.


Dinner (post-race): Eggplant ptarmigan (clearly autocorrect isn’t familiar with the word “parmigiana”) that was really good because my wife knows to salt the dickens out of the raw slices first to disgorge that bitter brown liquid that has ruined so many ptarmigans. I washed this down with a beer … a real treat since I was foolish enough to swear off beer for six weeks to try to lose weight for this race. (If that seems like a ridiculous sacrifice to make for a meaningless amateur bike race, consider that it’s arguably less of a sacrifice than training harder, particularly if you’re as fundamentally exhausted by life as I am.)

New for 2020: “behind-the-Beck’st” report

Here is the post-race Beck’st I sent around:


(If you don’t know what a Beck’st is, get thee to a brewery! Or better yet, click here.)

A correspondent replied, “Apparently you were too tired to give us any details.  Also too tired to consider a safer spot for your pint glass than sitting ON your laptop, just waiting for an errant elbow to knock it down…”

So, yeah, details. There’s a lot to unpack with this photo. You can see my old-school bike computer in its PC cradle at the left, and its output—the course profile and race stats—on the laptop screen. If you zoom in you can see how hilly the course was. Also check out my race checklist (the need for which I learned the hard way). You can see all these checkboxes with “DA” next to them … up until this year, there were boxes for “DA” and “AA,” because my older daughter and I went to these races together. Now she’s gone off to college and it’s just “DA” (sniff). You can also see were I’ve scrawled some stats and calculations … figuring out how much I’ve slowed down, and if our team’s new head coach rode faster than I did. (He did, of course, even though his Category 1 race was a lap longer). You can also see how badly I wanted that beer … by the time I’d set up the photo, it was half gone. (My friend needn’t have worried about it spilling on my laptop … it didn’t last long enough for a stray elbow to come around and knock it over.) Finally, in the background you can see a photo of my brothers and me, more than two thirds of my lifetime ago. Could I possibly feel any older? Sure! Ask me tomorrow!

Full report

It was mighty cold during the first wave of races. We have a lot of new riders, racing in the beginner category, concurrently with the beginning adults which included a couple of our coaches. One coach stopped when he came through to tell me one of our freshmen had crashed, somewhere out on the course, and might need medical attention. I scrambled around, phoned the kid’s dad, phoned another dad who was near the medical tent, talked to the medics, couldn’t learn anything, and was just getting ready to head out on the course to go find the fallen rider when I heard another report that he was back on his bike. This fire drill fouled up my warm-up pretty badly, such that our second wave of student athletes, who’ve heard my endless exhortations about getting a good warm-up, got to see me scrambling around in the last ten minutes, barely getting any trainer riding in.

Nonetheless, I had a great start. Maybe it’s all that sprinting out of corners in criteriums in my past life as a road racer … on the uphill asphalt section at the top I got almost all the way to the front and was sitting snugly in third when we hit the single track. NOOICE! Unfortunately, people started passing me right and left (literally) after that.

Wow, this is already totally boring! I’m sorry about that. Of course you don’t care what happened next, and I don’t really either. I almost didn’t care at the time … it was too much like life. I was riding as hard as … well, not as hard as I could, but to the limit of my motivation, really feeling the futility of it all, like I was just going in circles (which of course I was). Here’s a photo so you can see all the bastards swarming behind me. Also, marvel at how old I look. I don’t think the clear sunglasses help. I might as well get bifocals.


This was a real bike-handler’s course, and I’m not a real bike-handler, at least on the dirt. I kept getting passed on the downhills and then I’d catch the same guys on the short flat sections, draft them through the headwind, and drop them again on the climbs. That was pretty fun, I have to say. I know better than to have any concrete goals for my races anymore … perhaps the best I can hope for is brilliant moments, however fleeting.

One guy took so much time out of me on the downhill sections on the last lap, I ran out of climbs via which to reel him back in. I’d given him up for lost until the final flat sections when I realized he was completely dying. I dug way deep and chased him all the way to the finish, just nipping him at the line, throwing my bike like a real sprinter.

I was pretty stoked about that until I checked his number. He wasn’t even in my category! I have just discovered (looking at the online results) that he’d started two minutes after I did, in the 55+ group, and made the podium. At least he didn’t laugh in my face or anything after the race. I hope I’m as gracious when I’m that age. I sure as hell won’t be that fast.

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For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Big Ring Tale - Cycling “Hail Mary”


Introduction

I am old. Fifty, and that’s mighty old, especially to try to be an athlete. But to paraphrase Faulkner, age “might have kilt me but it ain’t whupped me yit.” I still try to duke it out from time to time with the high school kids whom I coach mountain biking. These kids, if they did nothing, would continually improve just by getting older (and thus bigger and stronger). When they train regularly, their progress is stunning. Thus we coaches enjoy watching kid after kid go from learning the ropes to whupping us, often within the span of a single season.

This tale concerns a quixotic effort to beat L—, my team’s star rider, in a drag-out sprint recently on Wildcat Canyon Road toward the end of a team practice. If the outcome was “He kicked my ass and I never had a chance,” there wouldn’t be a story. Trust me, it’s a bit more complicated than that. My tale involves verve, poor fitness, equipment, tactics, politics, shame, equipment, tactics, suffering, equipment, luck, tactics, and luck. In that order.


Verve

Who am I to be going up against our fastest rider in a slightly downhill sprint? This kid has been on the podium in every race he’s done, except the State Championships and Nationals (where he was top ten in both). When he first joined the team I was expecting a very stocky kid because we inherited him from the football team (which had such a weak bench, they had to cancel their season when concussions claimed too many players to continue fielding a team). Instead, his physique is perfect for bike racing. He could have been a transfer from Team Ineos.

So yeah, why would I even try? Well, I always try. This is because cycling is such a complicated sport … crazy things happen that can suddenly put an otherwise non-competitive rider into contention (say, a giant crash in the final corner of a criterium that squirts a single lucky rider through). Moreover, I like taking on ridiculous odds just for the lunatic thrill of it. In a sprint you always end up going fast, and if you’re on the right wheel you go really fast, and speed feels great even when you lose.

But that’s still not the source of my foolish verve. Ultimately, if I don’t always try, no matter how doomed I am, I’ll become one of those guys who doesn’t try. That leads eventually to the being guy who never goes hard at all, and then to the guy who only rides to the bakery, and finally to being the guy who stops riding altogether.

Poor fitness

Am I going to say my opponent lacked fitness, this being February? Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. He’s young—he never lacks fitness. Aware of his own talent, L— always has ample motivation to train, and even his light off-season training has a dramatic result, meaning that the normal sine curve of seasonal fitness doesn’t apply to him. His graph is a constant upward trajectory, albeit with a steeper slope during the racing season.

Of course it is I who had the poor fitness. This is actually a strength for me when it comes to sprinting. Because my training is almost all in the hills, getting fit means climbing (marginally) better at the expense of my (already spotty) sprinting ability. If I’m ever going to finish fast on a flat road, it’s going to be in the early season.

Equipment

I was late to the party, about halfway through the group when I saw the contenders boiling at the front. This might seem like poor tactics on my part, to be caught napping like that. Actually, it was a timeworn strategy to protect my ego: I had an excuse, I was out of position! Of course, this is a bad strategy because the relief I feel at having an excuse is itself shameful, so my ego comes out the worse for wear.

Fortunately, even as L— began to pull away from the other riders, like a running back shrugging off defenders, he suffered an equipment problem—his chain wouldn’t go into the highest gear. This slowed him slightly, giving me hope of making it onto his wheel. Suddenly he had one foot out of the pedal and was swiping at his rear derailleur with his foot. By the time he kicked it just right and got into his highest gear, I was halfway across to him with a good head of steam.

Tactics, politics, and shame

So, the perfect tactic might seem to suck L—’s wheel until the very last second, and then sprint around him. But this would be problematic. It’s long run-up to the finish, along the twisty, slightly downhill road, and that’s a long time to suck anybody’s wheel. If we were professionals and the sprint actually mattered in the slightest, we might get into one of those deadlocks like you see on the velodrome, where riders slow to a crawl, neither willing to lead out the sprint. But this was just for glory, and there’s nothing glorious about sitting in your opponent’s draft for such a long stretch.

So, to work things right politically, I’d need to take a turn at the front, and the sooner I started, the better. The smart move is to pull good and hard and long so that the stronger rider will eventually see you dying up there and decide it would be equally shabby to suck your wheel the rest of the way … so he finds himself taking the final pull, essentially leading out the sprint. He won’t like it, but he’ll be honor-bound to do it.  That was my plan, anyway. I went to the front and started slaying myself. I drilled it for a good while, and then started to slow down, very gradually, as if running out of steam—but I was faking it. Sure enough, L— eventually went to the front and I tucked in behind him. NOOICE!

Equipment

My mountain bike, though it sports a carbon fiber frame and modern brakes etc., is old-school in that it has a triple chainwheel. In the realm of mountain bike culture, this is as lame as, well, being fifty years old. A double chainwheel is much more current, and all the best cross country bikes have just one chainwheel (a “one-by”). I’ve often mused that if the one-by came first, and then the industry added a second and later a third chainwheel, that would be considered rad. Yeah, my drivetrain doesn’t look as clean, and there’s more room for shifting failures, but that third chainwheel gives me a higher gear. At the speed we were going, L— was fairly wound out in his highest gear and spinning really fast, which wasn’t as efficient as my cadence. Plus, knowing my top gear was higher than his stoked my mojo.

Tactics – Part II

As much as I longed to shelter myself in L—’s draft for as long as possible, I realized the chief problem with this strategy: I don’t have a lot of fast-twitch muscles, and it’s possible that at the very end, once I swung out to the side out of L—’s draft, he might have enough punch to hold me off. It’s never a good idea to underestimate the sheer power of a young, faster rider and I’ve been burned this way before. It’s also the saddest way to go out: you suck the guy’s wheel to the very end but still lose. So I decided I had to use the element of surprise and launch my sprint far sooner than he would ever expect. If I gave it everything, I figured it was just barely possible he’d fail to get my wheel. So, marveling at how stupid it felt to try this, I attacked L— as hard as I could, well before the end.

Suffering

Well, it worked … sort of. Truly caught out by my seemingly suicidal move, L— failed to catch my wheel. Now I was fully committed and just hammered my brains out. This is where experience can really help: part of what holds a rider back is fear of acute pain, but I’ve suffered too badly, too many times, to succumb. Resignation is a skill that can be refined and polished. I’ve learned how to distract myself slightly from the agony by stepping back to look at it, to marvel at it. Wow, it’s just searing pain! It’s amazing! The legs don’t want to turn anymore, but they do! Look at ‘em go! What a bizarre behavior, all this self-abuse just for the chance at a tiny dollop of glory I’ll almost certainly be denied in the end anyway! What a fool! Let’s see how far we can extend this!

Equipment

Every second L— failed to get my wheel increased my chances of success, so I was pedaling harder than ever and my chain started skipping. I guess I kind of knew my 11-tooth cog was worn out, but had forgotten because honestly, how often do I pedal this hard in that gear? The skipping reduced my efficiency, of course; not a lot, but I needed all the planets to line up here. This. Was. Not. Good. I looked over my shoulder and L— was not far behind. I still had a long way to go. It didn’t seem possible for me to hold him off. Ah, well … there were a dozen ways to fail at this, and going too early was one of them.

Luck
                                      
Suddenly I came around a bend and saw a car up the road, not so far ahead, that had passed us earlier when we weren’t going so fast. It was going just a tiny bit slower than I, and I figured if I could close the gap to it, I’d benefit from the large slipstream a car produces. If I got into that draft, and not L—, maybe I could maintain my lead.

Tactics – Part III

The problem with giving it everything to catch the car is that if I did, but it wasn’t going fast enough to keep me ahead of L—, I’d have expended all that energy for nothing … I’d be stuck behind it as L— caught up. Then, when the road flattened and straightened out, and the car pulled away, L— would leave me in the dust. What I really needed was for the car to speed up a bit once I caught its draft. I figured the chances of this scenario were 50/50 … a lot better than just holding my own. So I went all-in, going almost anaerobic to close the gap. (Don’t worry, I’m not an idiot … I kept plenty of distance between me and the car, so I could react in time if it did something erratic ... about as far back as another  motorist would stay.)

Luck – Part II

As I approached the car, I was close enough to see, through the rear window, that the driver was male. Ka-ching! If you wondered earlier how I’d reckoned my odds were 50/50, here’s your answer: a male, observing any kind of challenge from another male, will generally be provoked to take action. Sure enough, this guy’s ego couldn’t handle the idea that a bicyclist—that is, a nerdy person using a child’s toy as though it were a vehicle—could match his speed. Naturally, he accelerated. Even at the higher speed, my workload was much reduced. I had a free ride, and unless L— had also closed the gap (I dared not look back to see), I was home free. In the event, he hadn’t … he never got my wheel.

So … yeah, man! I took the sprint! I fricking won!

Epilogue … so what?

Needless to say, though his tiny victory meant something to me (at least in the moment), it meant nothing to L—. It was just another day, another ride, another sprint. “That was fun,” was all he said later. And he was right.

So … is there anything to take away from this little tale? I think so. When I decided to rise to the occasion and contest the sprint, I figured my chances of prevailing were very, very small. And yet I took my shot anyway, because you just never know. Moreover, there would be no downside to losing, as that was practically inevitable to begin with. To succeed was a nice reminder that throwing everything you have at a challenge is actually sometimes enough.

And when we compare cycling to life, that’s where the real lesson is. Life is often (usually?) harder than sport, and in so much human endeavor we face terrible odds. I don’t know about you, but I seem to be blocked continually by obstacles that, in aggregate, can produce an overarching feeling of futility. But by continuing to show up, by continuing to dig deep into our personal grab bag of parlor tricks, lessons learned, and arcane capabilities, we can sometimes prevail. You never know when you might have a breakthrough … all you need is the right chain reaction of verve, tools, tactics, politics, shame, suffering, and a little luck.

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For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.

Friday, January 31, 2020

From the Archives - Freak Bicycle Accident


Introduction

I consider bicycling to be a reasonably safe activity. Obviously it has its risks, and I’ve been injured a few times. Even so, by my rough calculation, I’ve cycled close to 200,000 miles, so I’m fine with my track record so far. There are those who think urban cycling in particular is unconscionably dangerous, but you know what else is dangerous? Urban walking. I don’t recall anybody trying to make the case that pedestrians should just give it up (unless you count Irvine, California where walking is so unheard of, it’s practically against the law.)

A recent article in “Berkeleyside” provides maps of where in Berkeley the reported pedestrian and cyclist accidents occurred last year. According to the Berkeley police, 230 people were injured across 220 accidents, and three killed. Of these, 98 involved bicycles, with 99 injured and one dead. Here is the map of bicycle accidents:


A yellow marker indicates that the driver was at fault; blue means it was the cyclist’s fault. So how does this break down? Police ruled that “fault was evenly split, with drivers and cyclists each responsible 47% of the time.”

What about the other 6% of the time (indicated with a green icon)? In those cases, police didn’t assign blame to either party. And yet, in three of these four accidents, the cause was “unsafe door opening.” So … would it be that hard to ascribe blame? Let me give you cops a hint: do bicycles have doors?


In my experience, and that of most of my cycling pals, police are quick to assign blame to cyclists in the absence of overwhelming evidence that the motorist was at fault. Consider my worst bike accident ever: the driver ahead of me inexplicably swung to the right, and then cut a hard hairpin left turn in front of me to head into her driveway. Needless to say she didn’t look behind her, nor signal her turn. I laid down the bike trying not to T-bone her car. Later, after the ambulance hauled me away, the cop rang her doorbell to get her story. (She’d been hiding in her house throughout the ordeal, ignoring my screams, which her neighbors heard a block away.) She claimed to have used her turn signal and that she had behaved very predictably and safely. The police officer took her word for it, even though (as detailed here) her testimony cannot have made any sense. The fact that my bicycle didn’t actually collide with her car further exonerated her. The cop chalked it up as my fault because I was “going too fast” (even though I was below the speed limit). I guess he had a point: if I’d been going walking speed, I might have been able to stop in time. So I’ll make a deal: I’ll go at walking speed from now on, so long as motorists agree to do the same.

Bicycling (like driving) will always involve some risk, no matter how careful we are. Just today, a friend of mine was hit by a car while bicycling. The driver was texting. While driving. While driving, in fact, through a roundabout. Who does that?

But yeah, I’ll confess that cycling has its dangers even when drivers aren’t directly involved. I recently stumbled across an email to a few friends from about six years ago, recounting my most bizarre bicycle accident ever. What follows is about 80% gripping yarn, 20% cautionary tale.

Freak bike accident – November 2013

Let me tell you about my crazy bike accident. Yesterday evening I was riding home from Bart [the train station, less than a mile from home] in the dark, around 6 p.m. I had basic lights front and rear. I was trying to turn left on Gilman Street and thought a particular driver was going to let me in, so I was out in the road. It’s a never-ending stream of cars at that hour, heading towards I-80, and they’re all fricking zombies, stricken by tunnel vision as they slog through their commute. Alas, it soon became apparent that, eye contact notwithstanding, the driver wasn’t going to let me go ahead of him after all. The gap he’d allowed to open ahead of his car was apparently unintentional, for now he closed it right up, shaving precious fractions of a second off his commute time. I guess the look he gave me was meant to convey, “I see you there, and I don’t care.”

[Coincidentally enough, this act of non-courtesy occurred almost exactly at the site on the map below, where—about four months ago—a driver failed to yield while turning left, struck and injured a cyclist, and didn’t stop.]


This guy’s attitude was shared by the whole line of drivers, whose safety seemed assured at this speed even though unbeknownst to most of them they were slowly dying, a withering wasting car commuter’s death, the death of actual living that doesn’t become apparent until it’s too late. I rode back across the (empty) left lane and hopped the curb up onto the sidewalk. My plan was to head a short distance down to a crosswalk where I could walk my bike across Gilman, as that’s the only way to get these rush hour motorists to let you through.

So there I was, riding along on the sidewalk, and then suddenly I was down. I mean, it was the weirdest thing, because normally you see a crash coming, and in fact time seems to slow down. (This is because, as detailed here, “your amygdala [acts] as an emergency control center that gets all the other parts of the brain to quit mucking around with their daily tasks and concentrate all the resources on the one, main thing that is happening.”) Normally, there’s an opportunity for evasive action or at least to think, “Oh, shit!” But not this time. I just suddenly realized I was no longer in control, was no longer moving, and was somehow in great pain. Given the suddenness of this situation, and the astonishing force of it—suddenly, everything hurt—I automatically assumed a car must have been involved.

And yet, the weirdest thing was, I wasn’t actually on the ground. The bike was down and I was tangled up with it, but I’d landed on my feet. “Landed?” you may well ask. “What do you mean landed? Like, from where?” I know, it makes no sense. Somehow I went from biking to landing with seemingly nothing in between. I immediately dreaded having to tell my wife about the crash, and the whole situation was so horrifying I found myself yelling, “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!”

And then I thought, wait, if I’m not actually down on the ground, then I haven’t really crashed. This was a bit of a relief because I was wearing a nice suit and it’d have been ruined. But it wasn’t much of a relief because I was in so dang much pain. My back hurt, my neck, my groin, but especially my head. My head? WTF!? Why would my head hurt when it was nowhere near the ground?

My mind raced, trying to make sense of the situation. With no car involved, and my head far from the ground, I figured somebody must have bashed me with a baseball bat or something. Or maybe I’d been shot? I staggered around, taking in the scene. And then I finally put it together: there’s a tree planted in the median with a big stout bare branch, with very dark bark, sticking out over the sidewalk. I never saw it and I’d simply run headfirst into that bad boy—it was a bit like being clotheslined. I wasn’t going all that fast, but this was nevertheless a terrible way to be (mostly) separated from my bike.

Man, it was horrible. I righted the bike, was amazed to see the chain hadn’t even fallen off, and remounted, but I was in so, so much pain. My head, man, it was just killing me. And my groin, it felt like somebody very strong had tried really hard to rip my leg off. My shoulder hurt , my neck hurt, my back, my legs ... I just moaned and groaned the rest of the way home (only a couple blocks). I got into the garage, flipped on the light, and inspected my helmet. I’m so, so glad I was wearing it. Sure enough, the foam was compressed and cracked ... totally unsurprising given that my head felt like it had taken a hit from a bolt gun. This was a big burly Bell helmet, my commuting helmet, and I though I’m sad to see it go, it obviously served me well.

I hobbled into the house, and my 12-year-old daughter saw me and gasped: “Oh my gosh, Dad!”

I thought, oh no, I must be missing some memory of this thing—maybe I did hit the ground, maybe I’m all bloody or ripped up or something! But I tried to play it cool. “What?” I asked faux-innocently. Alexa said, “Well, it’s just ... I’ve never seen you in a suit before!” Man, what a relief. She didn’t suspect a thing.

I went upstairs and it hurt just taking my suit off. I crawled into bed to rest a bit. It hurt to move so I just lay there on my back. I just wanted to lie there the whole night, but of course there was dinner to prepare and kids to deal with, and actually I knew in the back of my mind that it would probably be a good idea to stay awake for a few more hours and make sure I didn’t get dizzy, or hurl, or look in the mirror and see my eyes dilated or spinning like pinwheels or whatever happens when you have a concussion. [If, back then, I’d had the concussion protocol training I’ve since received as a high school mountain bike coach, I’d have had myself checked out far more thoroughly, believe me.]

So I stuck it out, finished out the evening, cleaned the kitchen, read to my younger daughter, stayed up until 10 or 10:30, took like four Advil and some beer, and got to bed. I woke up this morning feeling really sore and stiff, and I can barely walk. My head hurt most of the day but it’s better now. (I took a two-hour online training on RFID technology and passed the test, so my brain does still seem to work.) Mainly my groin hurts,  but also my neck, like I can barely turn my head. Riding is pretty much out of the question. It’s horrible.

Anyway, the funny thing is, when I was heading out yesterday morning, I actually thought about not wearing my helmet. I had fresh gel in my hair, for one thing; plus, a guy in a suit wearing a helmet on his commuter bike is just so nerdy. But I only paused for a second before doing the right thing and putting on the ol’ brain bucket. So what if I have reactivated hair gel and helmet-head for my big meeting ... vanity is for weenies, right? Right. Man, oh man, I’m so glad I was wearing that thing. If I hadn’t, I might be a corpse now, or an extremist political pundit with his own radio show.

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For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Everything You Wanted to Know About Getting A Colonoscopy - But Were Afraid To Ask


Introduction

I recently had my first colonoscopy. I know a bunch of people my age who ought to have had theirs as well but are procrastinating. If you’re fifty or over and haven’t had yours yet, read this to know what to expect (and consider this your wake-up call). If you have had one, what better way to commiserate and have another good laugh at what you’ve been through? And if you’re not fifty yet, this’ll be a good dose of schadenfreude and a sneak preview of what you have to look forward to.


What is a colonoscopy?

A colonoscopy is a procedure a doctor carries out to screen you for colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths. The lifetime risk of getting it is 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women. Early detection is key. Colorectal polyps are fairly easy to find and remove before they can develop into cancer. Details here.

What exactly is the colon?

The colon is one of those weird organs down there in your guts. It removes water from digested food and creates stool, which it conveys to the rectum. As this is already getting gross, I’ll leave it at that.

How does the doctor see in there?

Doctors have got a “back door” they use, through which they thread in a camera the size of your finger.

Which finger?

I forget. To be honest, I haven’t dwelled on that, for obvious reasons. But in all seriousness, the process is a hell of a lot less invasive and awful than chemo, surgery, etc.

Who should get a colonoscopy?

Anybody over fifty should get one, plus anybody with other risk factors like family history of colon cancer, or trouble with digestion, or if a doctor recommends it for any other reason.

Is there any legitimate excuse for a person over fifty not to get a colonoscopy?

Of course not. Don’t be lame, just get it done. As you’ll learn from this post, it’s really not that bad.

What is the preparation for a colonoscopy?

For a week, you have to eat refined food like white rice, white bread, pasta, etc. instead of good high-fiber stuff like whole grains, brown rice, beans, etc. (So, for a week you get an interesting tour into how so many clueless Americans eat.) Also off-limit are seeds, nuts, popcorn, iron, fish oil, and vitamin E. Then, 24 hours before the procedure, you’re not allowed to have any solid food. You can have light-colored juices or broth, or even Jell-O (but why bother)?

The other thing you have to do is completely remove every particle of food, and its downstream waste products, from your system. You do this by drinking four liters (more than a gallon!) of a prescription laxative drink.

Is this pre-op process straightforward and well-documented?

Well, that depends on where you’re having your colonoscopy done. The place I went to sent me a big packet of paperwork, and then I got a phone call saying, “We screwed up your paperwork so we just sent out a second batch. When you get the first packet, throw it away. Only read the second packet.”

Well, I received both packets on the same day so I had to figure out which was the evil twin. One set of documentation failed to specify when and where the procedure would take place, and who would perform it, though it did include a “Visit Date” that was wrong. The other packet at least had the procedure date, time, and location, though it also had a (different) wrong “Visit Date” listed. It also provided the doctor’s name, which was helpful, though it also provided a second doctor’s name that was wrong.

I called up to ferret out which packet was the correct one. Turns out, the packet lacking the when-and-where information was actually the right one. Having sorted this out, I requested clarification about the timing of the laxative drink, GoLytely. The directions say to drink 8 oz. every 10-15 minutes, and to “Take 1st dose (1/2 gallon) at: 4pm the day before” and “take 2nd dose (1/2 gallon) at: 5-6 hours before the procedure.” Well, my procedure time was 8 a.m. Did this mean I had to get up at like 1:30 a.m., and then roust myself again every 10-15 minutes until done, to finish 5-6 hours before, or do they mean at least 5-6 hours before? I asked if I could just be done with all the drinking—and its explosive result—before bed. (No, I didn’t put it so bluntly.) The gal answered, “Uh, well, um, I think … yeah, before bedtime should be fine … just, uh, go with that.” She really didn’t inspire confidence.

I called my big brother for a second opinion and he said, “Yeah, I got up every ten minutes for half the night—it was a total drag!” Keep in mind that you’re not just drinking this gross drink. You’re also rushing to the toilet. So this timing thing is important, and I’m here to tell you from personal experience, getting it all done before bed (in my case midnight) is A-OK. The doctor’s office didn’t send me away for incomplete evacuation, which had been my greatest fear (this having happened to someone I know).

Is the laxative drink really that disgusting?

At no point did the gag reflex kick in. That said, it’s pretty damn disgusting, perhaps even more so than bong water (but at least you’re braced for it; I’m pretty sure nobody has ever drunk bong water on purpose, at least no resolute non-pot-smoker like me). Here is a video of my very first 8-ounce shot of GoLytely:


It may or may not help to mix it with the flavor packet. I was on the fence about this, and my decision wasn’t helped by the packet instructions, which clearly say “Not for direct dispensing to the patient,” as thought the pharmacist is supposed to mix the flavor packet with the drink powder before I leave the pharmacy. Could there possibly be any skill involved in this operation? I can’t imagine, and yet the instructions are very clear on both the packet and the jug of drink mix:


The lemon powder smelled like that disgusting Country Time Lemonade mix. If I did decide to flavor my drink, I pondered, why limit myself to the lemon option? I could mix in the flavor packet from some Top Ramen, to have, like, shrimp flavor, or beef, or a combo. But ultimately I decided to drink it neat.

The first flavor to hit my tongue was like someone else’s saliva, but salted and slightly fizzy as though fermented. Then the aftertaste hit me like a thump: very chemical-tasting, like bleach or solvent. So yeah, GoLytely really is gross, but again, nothing that would make you hurl. The problem is, you have to drink nine 8-oz. glasses of this, ten minutes apart, for the first “dose” (i.e., session), and then, hours later, another eight 8-oz. glasses of it, so it gets mighty old.

By the way, my instructions didn’t tell me how many glasses to drink in the first “dose” so I had to do the math myself:


You said something earlier about the “explosive result” of this beverage. Can you elaborate?

Well, over an hour into my first “dose,” when I’d had eight 8-oz. glasses (i.e., 64  oz, almost two liters) of the miracle elixir, nothing had happened yet. I texted my brother with this worrisome update, and he wrote back, “Oh boy. Just you wait!” He wasn’t wrong. Five minutes later, I decided to take the throne and see if anything would happen. I’ll spare you the details, but an hour later I was still there. The word “hydrant” isn’t exactly right, but it’s close.

Hours later, after the second round of GoLytely, I again started feeling some serious stirrings down there, and suddenly (oddly) started to shiver. I ran for the bathroom, up a couple sets of stairs, with all the urgency of an action hero fleeing a building that’s about to explode. I made it just in time … it was so close I didn’t have a chance to close the door. My wife, from one nearby bedroom, and my daughter, from the other, burst out laughing simultaneously upon hearing the whooshing sound. If you don’t think this all sounds pretty funny, click this link immediately, and go read that post, before continuing with this report.

How will I know I’m ready for the colonoscopy procedure?

Trust me, if you’ve completed all four liters of the laxative, you’ll be ready (so long as you didn’t “cheat” and eat anything in the 24 hours before your procedure time). The official directions imply that you don’t need to drink all four liters if you have “clear rectal discharge,” but I find this to be a) gross, b) a needless thing to determine, and c) a great name for a rock band.

All this being said, in my case I can report that after my last toilet visit (which was, remarkably, at like 5 a.m., over five hours after my last glass of GoLytely), it looked like I’d only peed. So complete was the elimination, I lost four pounds. That’s after drinking about nine pounds of GoLytely. Do the math…

Will the nurses be hot?

This is a dangerous question to answer, but arguably the most important one in the entire report. Needless to say, your mileage may vary, but in my experience, these nurses were considerably hotter than the one who helped with my vasectomy. Perhaps this is by design … to encourage periodic colonoscopies, they’d want to make the whole ordeal as pleasant as possible, whereas with a vasectomy nobody wants to instill the wrong kind of, uh, attention.

Will I unexpectedly get disqualified from the procedure and sent home?

As touched on earlier, if you don’t follow the instructions and evacuate your system, you could be sent home. Other than that, I guess the only problem could be if your vital signs don’t look good. I had a tiny glitch in this department. After taking my vitals and wandering off, the nurse came back and said, “Um, are you a very active person?” At first, given recent events and current circumstances, I thought she was referring to my bowels. But then I understood, and said, “You mean, working out a lot? In that case, yes.” She replied, “Okay. I ask because your pulse was only 45 so we thought you might be on some … medication.” I assured her 45 bpm was normal for me, and it was smooth sailing from there.

Will they stick me with a big needle?

Of course they will, it’s a doctor’s office and you’re there for a “procedure!” They run an IV to administer the anesthesia. But they’re total pros. Two nurses discussed which vein to use … not because they couldn’t find a good one, but because my skinny arms presented an embarrassment of riches. “My husband is just like you,” one nurse said. “He’s got such great veins, I sometimes ask him, ‘Can I please run you an IV, just ‘cause it’d go so well?’”

Will they give me a drug to make me forget everything?

This will depend on where you get the procedure done. My brother, when he had his colonoscopy, did get the forget-everything drug (I think it’s typically Versed, aka midazolam) and didn’t like the aftermath … it really messed him up for the entire rest of the day. Myself, I hate the idea of any drug (even alcohol) messing with my memory. My brother mentioned that some people need colonoscopies somewhat frequently, and opt to skip the Versed. So I asked my doctor about this before the procedure, and he said they don’t use it anyway, and that the anesthesia I’m getting wouldn’t have any post-op aftereffects. “You could go for a run two hours afterward,” he said.

What is the actual procedure like?

They had me roll over on my side. This was probably the worst part because my ass was hanging out of the back of that backwards gown they make you wear, and it was kind of cold. The anesthesiologist warned me that it would hurt a bit when he injected the drug into my IV, but the pain was ridiculously minor, like being whacked lightly with a flower.

I lay there, deeply doubting that I would in fact fall asleep, because no anesthesia could be any match for the cold air hanging over my tuchus. So, preparing to be bored, I let my gaze fall on the patterned curtain a few feet from my face. The curtain seemed so unfamiliar. I wondered, did my wife buy new curtains at some point, and if so how am I just noticing? Moreover, why am I still in bed when I should be heading over to the—oh, shit! I overslept! I missed my colonoscopy and now I’ll have to reschedule and go through the GoLytely purge all over again! Total disaster!

Then I thought, wait a second here. Those are not bedroom curtains. That’s more like a hospital curtain. Oh, and I’m not in bed. I’m … oh, right, I remember where I am. This is where the nurses and anesthesiologist and doctor were getting ready to do the procedure. Meaning it’s over. I must have … slept through it. Just like I was supposed to, duh!

Is there an aftermath?

There was so little indication anything had even happened, I had to take the doctor’s word for it that the procedure had actually been carried out. I was handed a bunch of paperwork, which I only remembered to leaf through a few days later. It covers what they did, what they found, etc. My favorite sentence? “The patient is competent.” That’s the nicest thing anybody has ever said about me. I won’t comment much more about the report or the findings because that’s really none of your business. Plus, there are possibly (sometimes? often?) lab results that have to come back before one can conclude anything for certain.

I expected some physical discomfort after the procedure, but in fact there was none. They’d advised me to break my fast with a small, light meal, but I ignored that. I was starving and had a giant lunch, which went down without a hitch. I will say I was really, really tired for the rest of the day. I highly recommend taking the whole day off of work, as I did, for your colonoscopy.

How do I get home?

This is the one time I won’t tell you to get around by bike. This is also no time to get an Uber or Lyft, or even a cab (if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where you can just hail a cab from the sidewalk like in the movies). The clinic I went to requires that you show up with a chaperon to drive you home. Great idea, because you won’t want to hang around waiting for a ride, trust me.

Do I get a trophy?

What do you think this is, a kids’ soccer team where everyone gets a trophy, even the kids who just stood around? No, you don’t get a trophy. But you can get a certificate from Dave Barry; as he describes here, “If you, after reading this, get a colonoscopy, let me know by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to Dave Barry Colonoscopy Inducement, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Miami, FL, 3317. I will send you back a certificate, signed by me and suitable for framing if you don’t mind framing a cheesy certificate, stating that you are a grown-up who got a colonoscopy.” Now, I don’t know if this offer is still good, or if it’s transferable from “Miami Herald” readers to albertnet readers, but you can download the certificate here and just forge Dave Barry’s signature. I won’t tell!

How long until my next colonoscopy?

Wow, you can’t wait to get back, huh? Well, the rule of thumb is every ten years until you’re about 75 or 80, after which they just put you on an iceberg and give you a nice push. That said, your future colonoscopy schedule will depend on what, if anything, they found the first go round.

This all sounds like a lot of hassle. Are you sure this is really necessary?

I watched a man die of cancer. He discovered his the hard way. Trust me, you don’t want that.

Damn dude, I thought this post was kind of funny until just now. What the hell?

I know too many 50-somethings who have been putting this off. Don’t be one of them. Just get this done, and then we can share GoLytely stories and have a good laugh!

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For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

albertnet Frequently Asked Questions


Introduction

Well, I’ve been at this blogging thing for over eleven years, and have posted more than 500 times. For better or for worse, that’s some traction. Now, I’m well aware that blogging is an audacious act. It takes a lot of cheek to assume that anybody cares to read what I care to write. (But if everybody erred on the side of modesty, nobody would write anything.)

As long as I’m being audacious, I’m going to assume that my readers are curious about how it’s gone, what’s working, what isn’t, and so forth. That what this post is about. (As a special bonus, a good number of these are real questions from real readers! And at least one of these questions has been asked at least twice!)


albertnet Frequently Asked Questions

How many posts have you written?

524, including this one.

How can I quickly peruse all the posts you have on offer?

Check out the albertnet index here. All my posts are listed and categorized, with the newest at the top.

It’s been said that your average post is 15 pages of single spaced comic sans text. Why are they so damned long?

The guy who said that was my (okay, our) dad [this question being from my brother]. That was his calculated figure. For a guy with a 170 IQ, Dad sure could be sloppy with his math. This supposed average post length was one of his excuses for not reading my blog; in reality the average post is more like 5 or 6 pages.

Okay, 5 or 6 pages is still pretty damned long, I’ll admit. I write that much because I can, because nobody is making me shorten my essays. If I wanted to write shorter stuff, I’d just be a journalist and get paid for this.

Have you ever met one of your readers in real life?

Good one. But that’s enough now. Bloggers have feelings, you know!

I did meet a guy at a party once who, when I introduced myself, knew my name already, from my blog. In fact, after reading my “Ode on a Double-Edged Razor”, he said, he bought an old-school Merkur razor just like the one I touted in my post. (No, Merkur didn’t pay me for this. I wish.) Full disclosure: I probably knew this reader already and just didn’t recognize him. I’m terrible with names and faces, and in fact I wonder if I might actually be face-blind.

At what point in the writing process of a post do you feel that you’ve met the goal, that you’ve “struck fire from the heart of man, and brought tears from the eyes of woman” (as Beethoven said of his music)?

Well, I wouldn’t say my goal is anything like that. (My mission statement is “Increasing shareholder value since 2009!”) I’d say my feeling of general satisfaction begins when I have that first rough draft complete and the basic bones of the post have been assembled. Then I know I have something, and I’ll polish it until I run out of time or figure I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. (Occasionally I’ll discard a totally finished piece, but that’s pretty rare. Posting an essay here that fails to strike fire or bring tears is—I’ll own it—a largely victimless crime.)

What blogs do you follow?

Well, I could list them, but there’s no point because five of the six have gone under. (One is entirely extinct, and the others haven’t had a post in three years.) The only active blog I follow is The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog and I confess I don’t check it that often. Next time I’m in the Smokies I’ll be all over it, though!

If you don’t read blogs, why write one?

Fair question. The problem is, too many blogs are too specific. I have no particular interests, so why would I narrow my focus like that?

As far as other media I could try to publish in, that seems like a lot of hassle. Plus, I hate being hemmed in. I considered publishing my vasectomy story in something like “Men’s Journal” but they had some guideline like “Under no circumstances can a story run more than 500 words” which was a show-stopper. I cannot tell that story—and nobody could, not properly—in fewer than 2,000 words.

How do you manage to keep politics out of your blog? Do you ever want to just rant?

Honestly, I’m just not very interested in politics. Where I live, this topic strikes me as a pissing contest around who knows the most. To my mind, the differences among parties and candidates aren’t subtle, and we only get one vote, so I see no point in anybody devoting that much attention to them. Besides, why would I want to alienate half of my readership and attract a lot of hateful comments?

This isn’t to say albertnet never brushes up against politics, in a non-partisan way. Check out “Glutted by Campaign Signs” (a relatively popular post), “My Brief Foray Into Politics,” “Election Follies - A Proposal to Change Daylight Savings Time,” and “Election Follies – CA Prop 7, One Year Later.”

You have this incredible platform to spread important messages. What do you want all seven of year readers to know?

Ouch! Well, I guess I asked for it.

I don’t consider this blog a public service, and my goal is really to entertain, not so much to educate or inform. That said, I guess I could take a swing at a few life lessons you could read about on albertnet:
  • Eat well
  • Ride your bike
  • Laugh a lot
  • Read a lot
  • If you’re a parent, be earnest about it
How do you promote your blog?

I don’t.

How can I provide feedback on a post?

You can leave a comment below the post, or email me at feedback@albertnet.us.

What are your top three most popular posts ever?

The most popular ever is “New Cycling World Record Set in Berkeley!” which racked up many thousands of pageviews within just a few days. I gather there are blogs with hundreds of thousands of pageviews a week, and good for them, but this was a fairly big deal for me.

My second most popular is “Everything You Wanted to Know About Getting A Vasectomy - But Were Afraid To Ask” which was one of my earliest posts. For many years, it carried the distinction of being the very first search result when you Googled “california vasectomy law.” (It’s not in like the first hundred hits now … a lot has changed in eleven years I guess.)

Third most popular is “Highbrow vs. Lowbrow,” also with many thousands of pageviews. I’m not sure exactly why it’s been so popular. I mean, I like it—I like all my stuff, or I wouldn’t post it—but it’s not like I poured my heart and soul into it. You tell me.

What are your three least popular posts ever?

That’s kind of a tough one, because obviously anything I posted quite recently hasn’t had time to accrue many views. To answer this one, I had to go back and figure out what posts have very few views despite hanging out there on the Internet for years. I did a rough calculation of how many pageviews per year I see among the loss leaders. Here’s what I came up with.

The very least popular is “London – Part Four,” which has received a grand total of 39 views in roughly a decade, for a paltry 3.8 views a year. Pretty pathetic! Why so poorly received? Well, anything that’s fourth in a series deserves what it gets. (You hear that, “Star Wars” people?) Also, this is one of the “bloggiest” posts I’ve ever done; it was back in the early days of albertnet when I thought it was enough to report on something interesting that happened to me (like a web log, you know). I’ve since decided that there ought to be a point to my posts and they should hang together better. Anyway, I reread this one and it’s actually not so bad … I chuckled a few times.

Next is “From the Archives – My First Cell Phone” with only 53 views over 10.5 years. I just skimmed it, and it’s really not such a bad essay … it’s just that it’s a bit too sincere and nerdy, without the good sense to be comic. But how could anybody know that going in? Anyway, who cares.

Finally, we have a short story, “Doctor’s Daughter.” It’s seen 50 readers over about 8 years. Pretty sad.

Is your blog mainly popular among Americans?

I wouldn’t say it’s mainly popular among Americans, because it’s not popular at all, duh!

As far as my audience, about 47% of my pageviews are from the U.S. Fully 16% are from Russia, and just behind that is the Ukraine with 14%. Isn’t it ironic that foreign enemy bots aiming to swing U.S. elections should be targeting a decidedly apolitical blog?

What do you most commonly blog about?

What a great question! I myself had no idea until I researched this a bit. It’s a bit hard to tell because many posts fit more than one category, but here’s a rough cut of the leading realms: 
  • Polemics/opinion                                                                      108
  • Bits & bobs (i.e., impossible to categorize)                            87
  • Advice & how-to guides                                                             86
  • Cycling – My first-hand experience                                        81
  • Cycling – equipment, technique, & culture                           60
  • Parenting                                                                                      59
  • Cycling – pro race coverage                                                      56
Obviously if you add the cycling tallies together that would be the biggest category, but there’s a lot of overlap there. This truly is “a blog about nothing” [in particular].

What posts have occasioned the most comments?

I don’t get a lot of comments, except from bots, and I delete those as fast as I can. Here are my top three. 
What post got the most negative comments?


Did you mind that?

Not at all. Pageviews across my blog went way up after that post. I think I got some new readers!

What’s the nicest comment you’ve ever received?

My “Book Review – Cowboy Sam” post got this nice comment from the granddaughter of the book’s author: “Dana, I have to say that I enjoyed your post about the Cowboy Sam series. Very entertaining, well written and definitely brought a smile to my face! Edna Walker Chandler was my Grandmother and passed away in 1982. Her son (my father) passed in 2014 and I inherited copies of most of her books. Would you mind if I copied your post to my family history book for personal purposes only? Thank you! Celeste Chandler”

What’s the meanest comment you’ve ever received?

That would be in response to “Velominati’s ‘The Rules’ – Brilliance or BS?” with this acidly sarcastic remark: “Hilarious. I've have never seen the point of something missed by such a large amount, and then written about to such a great length. Bravo!”

What’s the angriest comment you’ve ever received?

In response to “The British Faucet Conundrum” I received this comment: “Tim Berners-Lee INVENTED THE INTERNET WORLD WIDE WEB AND HE IS BRITISH NOT AMERICAN... so stick that in your hat and smoke it. In typical fashion of most americans you try to take credit for most when you don't have a creative bone in your bodies.. give credit where credit is due.. not to mention the fact that you stole most patents off of the Brits when you decided to pathetically decided to pitch up for the tail end of ww2. thanks.. wankers.”

I got a good laugh out of that one. Plus, it brought about two other comments, both supporting me. At least one was presumably British, as he referred to the U.S. in the third person: “Tim Berners-Lee did indeed invent the world wide web, which is a system that runs atop the internet, which predates it. The Americans can quite legitimately claim the internet.”

How much money have you made from albertnet?

Let’s see … factoring in subscriptions, residuals, passive income, royalties, and referrals, that would total about … um … zero dollars. And zero cents. On a positive note, I’m supporting the US economy by paying for server storage space and all my domains.

Domains, plural?

Yes. Just in case would-be readers can’t be counted on to remember albertnet.us, you can reach my blog via danaalbert.com, danaalbert.net, danaalbert.org, danaalbert.us, albertnet.blog, albertnet.com, and albertnet.org.

Part of why I snapped these up is to prevent anybody else from creating an “evil twin” blog. I guess I should have grabbed the Instagram handle “albertnet” which is rendered on the site as “Альберт Нет.” That’s in Russian, which perhaps explains why I get so many Russian pageviews?


At least they’re cool photos, mainly of beer. (Kind of a neat coincidence since I like to blog about Beck’sting.) Maybe I would have that many followers if more of my photos looked like this:


So, if you aren’t making money, and you’re not famous, why continue blogging?

Keeping this blog alive keeps me writing, and that’s my main criterion for success. Details here.

What would you say is the most useful essay you’ve posted?


What’s the opposite … that is, your most frivolous post?


Has albertnet ever gotten you in trouble?

After a careless motorist caused me to crash my bike and break my femur, I found a lawyer and looked into filing a lawsuit. He immediately asked me to disclose anything on social media that could jeopardize the case (e.g., by making me seem like a daredevil who got what he deserved). I coughed up several cycling-related posts including “Diablo Ex Machina” and “Death Ride ‘99,” both of which mention descending fast. These didn’t help my cause, but they alone wouldn’t have mattered, as I’d previously published “Five Seconds on a Mountain Pass” in the Daily Peloton, which concerned high-speed wobble.

(Ultimately, I didn’t pursue the lawsuit because the whole episode made me too angry. Dragging that anger over a long term and involving lawyers just would have extended it.)

Im a bit behind on albertnet ... how long will it take me to catch up?

If you read a post a day, it would take you a little over a year and five months to catch up to today. But by that time, I will presumably have posted another 69 times, so you’d need another couple of months ... so, a year and seven months total. You better get cracking.

Do you ever do podcasts?

I’ve done 26 of them. If you’re interested, you can email me for details.

What’s the hardest part about blogging for you?

Obviously finding the time to write is a perennial problem, but what’s even harder is coming up with decent topics. (To the extent this post hasn’t done it for you, you can see the problem!) So, if you have any good blog post ideas, please send them my way!

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For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.