A Great Hike

I'm not sure how many of the people that read this blog are in a position to go on a demanding four-day hike in the mountains of New Hampshire, but if you are I can't help but recommend this circuit my father and I discovered in the fall of 2006.

We took a four day weekend around Columbus Day and decided to wander all over the Presidential Ridge, often described as one of the best part of the 2,175 mile Appalachian Trail. We tried to maximize the amount of time spent above treeline since you get some of your best views there. We also tried to minimize the amount of duplicated trail -- no point in hiking the same stretch of trail twice if you can help it.

Click on the map to see an interactive version.

The terrain we picked varies from really quite steep at times (about a class 3) to nothing more than strolling along alpine meadows. The varied landscapes take you from the exposed ridge tops to quiet river valleys. The only real constant is that you'll be putting in around 10 miles of serious hiking each day, which is at least twice as far as the average weekend warrior prefers to do. That being said, pretty much all of the active people I know who read this blog could do it and enjoy it (I'm looking at you, athenaHuck).

(full set of photos from that weekend are here)

Meeting the Neighbor's Cat

A cat landed on our balcony this morning at 5am whining to come in. We live on the 4th floor. Thank god the phone number on the cat's collar worked. Too bad the people on the other end of the line didn't pick up until I had walked all the way over to the address on the tag, which was significantly out of date. The address on the tag was half a mile down the street, the real address was 3 doors down in the apartment complex.

Had to turn on computer to use google maps to find the adress on the tag. Thought I'd blog about something that's not a wedding.

Cute cat, but at 5am no animal is all that welcome, even if they can get up on the roof and down on to any balcony.

groggy ben saves cat. groggy ben goes back to bed.

The Upside of Biking

Despite the previous post, I've spent the past few days really enjoying bicycling. This may have something to do with my new bike which is very much not a PoS like the one I mentioned earlier. This time it's brand new, made completely of carbon fiber, and was fitted for me when I purchased it.

It was certainly expensive, but I ride 12+ miles a day commuting to work so the benefits are worth the money. The carbon frame and slightly-wider tires dampen a lot of the vibration that you find riding on the road grid from pebbles and cracks. The handlebar is also a little bit raised so I'm not bent so far forward that I can't see the cars around me. And good lord is it light. I accelerate out of stoplights faster than most cars, and it makes climbing hills much nicer.

I made a map of some of the routes I use to get to and from work. Click here to have a look at it. One of these times I'll bring my camera along to get some views of the SF Peninsula hills. I get chills and shocks at how lucky I am to live here each time I go riding in them.

First Week at Work: Things Can Only Improve

It's now Friday, the end of my first week back at work, and things can only get better. I took a test bicycle ride to work and back on the prior Sunday to see how long it takes. The bike performed without issue and everything seemed good to go. On Monday I was all ready to head in on my bike that I picked up used for not too much money. It even came with a free lock!

After riding along for 3 miles past the road construction that wasn't there the day before, I started hearing a clicking noise at regular intervals. I looked down at the bike and just chocked it up to the rear derailleur being a little old. But after a minute I was certain the noise was new, and noticed that my rear tire was completely flat thanks to the enormous nail sticking out of it. Thanks, construction guys.

Meanwhile, Erin was peacefully at home in bed until she was woken up by a phone call -- me needing to be picked up and driven to work. Oh what a wonderful way to start the week. She'd also have to come drive in to pick me up after work, leaving her celebratory first-day dinner plan in ruins.

Over the next three days at work I would freak out because I was under the impression that I needed to finish the project that I received on day one by day two, and I hadn't yet. Doubts about whether I was up to snuff for silicon valley crept in. I had never used a single tool (language, framework, IDE, etc.) in use at my new job before, but I still had the amazing ability to conjure a sickening fear of failure. Completely unfounded, but debilitating nonetheless.

This morning I found out that I was a day ahead of schedule, much to my relief. I popped out of work to pick up a patch kit and some spare bicycle tires near work and was all ready to bike in on Friday. Little did I know my bike was old and busted, a lemon about to really surprise me late after arriving home from an evening at my brother's house.

It's midnight and I need to fix a flat. I've got spare tubes and a pump so I figure I'll just pump up a new one and fix the punctured one some other time. This goes awry when I find that the wheel in question has been wrenched so tightly in place that I can't get the wheel off for the life of me (yes, it's old enough to not be an easy-release wheel) . I have bruised hands from trying. Somewhere around this time I start wondering if I should have purchased a new bike.

After a little thinking I wiggle off the tire and tube while the wheel is still on the bike and manage to patch the hole. It's now 2am but at least I'm getting somewhere. I proceed to put everything back together and pump up my two tires. Everything is finally going to work, I think. I roll the bike along to see if everything's working. I notice that the wheels have become off-center, brushing up against the brakes periodically.

After trying to center the wheels for a good 45 minutes of trial and repeated error I realize through my exhausted stupor that the frames are simply bent. There's no re-adjusting I can do to this junker to get things running smoothly. The bike was advertised as getting new wheels within the past year, but I know now it was just the tires. As I'm resigning myself to riding a shoddy bike 6 miles in to work on 5 hours of sleep the next morning the air is ripped open with a bang louder than any firework I've ever heard. The rear tire, which I have just finished patching over a terrible 2.5 hours, has just burst.

In the end all I ended up with was stress, lost sleep, a plan to purchase a new bike in the morning, and an extremely expensive lock.

(no, that picture is not my bike, just what I'd like to do to it).