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The Paul Mach Blog - September 2008

Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Pat Malach

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September 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008 - Race Reports
Got 3rd at the Mt. Tam Hill Climb today. I stayed with Nate for a little bit, exploded, then I got caught by Chris. I think my time was around 41:00. I generally didn't have that "good feeling" in my legs. I could list a bunch of other excuses, but I'll spare you.

Just kidding. I wouldn't really be taking my cycling seriously if I didn't have a whole bunch of reasons for why I didn't win. Here are a few of them.
  1. I'm training for a bigger race. Which one? I don't know, something in March or April.
  2. I didn't want to go over 85% this time of year.
  3. Something my wife did. Not exactly sure what yet, but it wasn't my fault.
Actually, I just didn't have it and the other guys did. Pretty simple.

Friday, September 26, 2008 - General
Our first win together Yesterday, after so many good years together, I had to sell you. I'm sorry, but there was no room in the apartment and Sara is unwavering in her quest to keep the bedroom free of bikes.

While I didn't win my first race with you, or get my Cat. 1 with you, you were there for everything in between.

Do you remember our first win together? I do. It was the Cat. 4 Sea Otter Road Race in 2006. We dominated the field along with Greg's Litespeed and Nils' Felt, see picture.

I will forever hold dear the afternoons we spent on Mix Canyon and the long hours riding at ME on the flat roads west of Davis. During these times we built an unbreakable bond that will not be lost.

I am certain you and Jay will be happy together. And I know you will teach him the joys of riding hard, climbing fast and dropping Jim Mansoor on the race ride, just as you did me.

Jamis Xenith Team, thank you for all the good times. You will not be forgotten.

Thursday, September 25, 2008 - General
It appears that even 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong reads my blog. Check out his quote about Alberto Contador found at

"I think he is the best bike rider in the world right now."

Yep, Lance applied Tip #3 from my recent How to be Amateur post.

The compliment was a nice but the "right now" made it clear that things will be very different come Big Show Tour de France time.

Now I'm just waiting for him to say that he was only going 85% last night and that is why he finished 22nd.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - General
I've been studying professionally since 2005 and nothing makes me more excited than the start of a new season. For those not familiar with pro pupil "new season" terminology, it's sometimes called a new "school year." Only call it a "school year" if you want to look amateur.

The thing I look forward to most is 11:50am to 12:00pm during the first week. This is when 5000 new amateur students, who haven't ridden their bikes since elementary school, all come together and form the equivalent of a Mens D collegiate crit right on campus.

I find it especially entertaining when some dude decides that he's a rebel and traffic circles are for followers. I can only laugh as he cuts through the middle and causes total chaos. Moments like these make my year, err, I mean season.

Monday, September 22, 2008 - General
Got an interesting email today and here's an excerpt:

... has expressed interest in cycling but doesn't have the means to purchase a bike. I arranged for a famed Italian physician to assess his cycling potential. Here are the exciting results: at 5'11" his V02 max was estimated to easily reach 92 if he can cut weight to the recommended 120 pounds!

120 and 5'11 is recommended weight? 16.7 BMI? Seriously?

Saturday, September 20, 2008 - General
No Screw This tip is for those of you who spent the extra $40 for the SRAM Force Brakes instead of the Rival just to save the 7 grams.

This tip is not for those of you who got the Force just so the brakes would say "Force" instead of "Rival."

Anyway, I learned from experience this last weekend that you don't actually need those little screws that hold in the brake pads. Those things are literally holding you back. Without them you save about 2 grams of uselessness.

You can also save your worn out brake pads to use during hill climbs. Some smart thinking is all it takes to put yourself another 5 grams ahead of the competition. No fitness necessary.

Friday, September 12, 2008 - General
Cycling is subjective. There are many variables and thus many excuses. It's not always clear that you're the better rider.

So how is one supposed to climb up the amateur cycling food chain? What if the course is never right for you? Then it's all about how you interact with the other guys, that and having an expensive bike.

To help you on your climb, I've compiled a list of some typical post race situations and how to deal with them correctly.
  1. Someone compliments you. Example: "Nice job today, way to stay with the lead group."

    Respond with, "It actually wasn't that hard." This gives off a bit of humble, but subtly you rub in the fact that he got dropped. Classic.

  2. You just lost a time trial.

    You: Innocently ask, "What was your time?"
    Him: Quotes time that is 20 seconds faster than yours.
    You: Yeah, I was like 20 seconds slower but I was only going 85 percent.

    You want to make sure he knows that you were taking it easy. I mean it's the truth right?

  3. Somehow you find yourself giving a compliment.

    Make sure to end it with "right now." For example, "You're riding good right now" or "You're stronger than me right now." The compliment makes him think you have good intentions. The "right now" lets him know you're just training for a bigger race or coming off a sickness, so he shouldn't get too hung up on it.
I've found myself on the losing end of these types of situations recently. I've probably been on the winning end too, sorry.

Oh, and everything in this post is in the male form, but the advice is by no means restricted just to men.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - Research
What does the Inclusion-Exclusion formula applied to balls look like?

If Set of Balls is a set of balls and | . | denotes the volume of an object, then this is the formula.

Full Formula
You just add and subtract more and more intersections till you run out. The same applies for surface area of spheres. If you're interested, here is a way too detailed proof.

This method is simple to understand. The problem is that if you have more than 4 balls you run into trouble. You are stuck with figuring out if all the intersections exists and what they are.

Conclusion: This method is great if you have a small number of balls or if you know you don't have any intersections of 4 or more balls.
If you do, then you're going to have to think a little harder.

Monday, September 8, 2008 - General
The picture of this bike might be too intense for some of my younger readers. The new black. Because black is the new black, that's why I have a new frame. Actually it's because the old one got warrantied due to a small crack in the rear [pause] on the integrated seat post.

So the new frame is the Look 595 Ultra and it replaces my old white Look 595. It was a bit of a hassle to get everything changed over, but I'm not complaining. I get a new frame to enjoy during the high mileage off season and it's black. The color was the only problem I had with the old bike. It looked awesome when it was clean but got dirty in about 2 miles.

Look claims the Ultra has 15% more lateral stiffness with no extra weight. I think I noticed it a bit on the first ride but I haven't had a chance to unleash my monster sprint yet (ever actually). We'll see if it affects ride quality.

The old bike was very good to me in many ways, I hope nothing changes with this new frame.

The down side is that now Andy, John, Max and Ozzy will have to find something else to make fun of me about. It's okay because they'll have plenty of time to think about it while riding their old ass Specialized bikes all winter long.

Sunday, September 7, 2008 - Race Reports
Mt. Shasta Got a new frame yesterday and spent the whole day putting it together. For a test ride I headed out to Mt. Shasta for the hill climb. It's about 14 miles with 4100 ft of elevation gain, ending at 7700 ft.

I was motivated by this on the website:

There is a raffle and $100 purse to the first rider to break the 1 hour mark.

I figured it meant that if you ride hard and win you get a 100 bucks. When I got to Mt. Shasta, I learned that the record was 1 hour 26 seconds held by Justin England. So "first rider" actually meant "first rider ever." Great.

Anyway, got in a warmup, sent the wife up the hill early and got ready for the start. The plan was to go out harder when there was more oxygen and then hang on for the second half. I kept on looking at my average mph to see how I was going. At 30 minutes I had a 15.0 mph average. After about 45 minutes I was going 12 and the road was flattening out. Every time I tried to pick it up the altitude would put me back in my place.

The finish was a little complicated, the one hour record line was at the old finish about 500 meters before the new finish. I was 59:30ish to the hour line and 1:01:22 to the actual finish.

I couldn't find a jersey to try out Race Day Tip #1229, sorry. Oh and skipping the sun screen is taking it a little too far. Just FYI.

Well, it was a long drive for a one hour time trial but I got a $100 check in the mail. Although I've heard that before, Tour *cough* de Nez *cough*.

More on the new bike later.

Friday, September 5, 2008 - General
Like my wife said, it looks like everyone is going nuts over my research posts. I haven't received such a solid set of responses before. I'll be sure to keep it coming. Really? Have you seen this sign along the highway? Dude, if you need to remind people that your beef is actually beef, you have far bigger issues.

Take it to the Star!The other thing I've seen on the road is Coinstar ads. They remind me of something a friend of mine once said.

"Coinstar has the best business model ever; you give them money and they give you less money."
- Pete

That second step is finally clear.
  1. Take customers money
  2. ?????? Give less money back to customer
  3. Profit!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008 - Research
If you're new, check out part 1. First, [img= popup=false] means union and [img= popup=false] means intersections. Just so you know.

So how do you start computing the intersection of a union of balls? Lets look at some simple examples.

If you have two balls, you can start with the volume of 2 balls. But then you need to subtract their intersection because that part was added in twice. 2 Disk example The resulting formula looks like this

2 Sphere Formula
If you have three balls, you subtracted too much so you need to add in the 3-sphere intersection.

3 Sphere Formula
You may see a pattern here, and there is. The resulting formula is the Inclusion-Exclusion Formula. More on that next time.

Again, mathematical balls.

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