Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spy vs Spy

This morning I had one of the best triple mochas in San Francisco - possibly the world. There are several cafes in my neighborhood and I do my best to support each location during the week. The hot spot is Cup-O-Joe cafe which is diagonal to my building and serves the best mocha in the neighborhood. Our team usually meets here on Saturday morning for espresso and a few cups of water. This has become a tradition and the tourists sometimes take pictures of the boys in colorful spandex sitting in front of the cafe.
Yesterday, I went to the CCA (California College of Arts) to see Sam's industrial design building. Sam is a co-worker at Aechelon with amazing design experience and a knack for creating computer peripherals and other electronic devices. Last night I went to see the Bourne Ultimatum at the Sony Metreon. I recommend seeing the movie if you're into high paced action with jittery cinemtography. The movie takes place in several locations around the globe and inspires one to travel outside the United States and possibly get caught up in spy vs spy business.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Back Online

The past two weeks have been hectic at work and there has been plenty of events to attend in the evenings with friends. Last weekend my friend Mariette held a benefit at club Roe for her family member and everyone had a great time dancing all night and enjoying the atmosphere. During the week Angelo and I met up at 111 Minna Gallery for drinks and to see the exhibition of new artists from the local schools. I ran into an old friend from the downhill mountain bike scene who was temporarily paralyzed from a crash and his condition has improved ten fold - I wish him well. The Altezza40 cyclocross team is beginning to ramp up the training during the week, but I have yet to find the time to travel to Palo Alto for a skills clinic. I usually jump on the road bike and cross over the bridge to complete 37 miles on a week night. Our group of riders put some quality miles into the legs this weekend and the ride today was packed with lots of climbing. Here is a link to our data provided by Motionbased and a KML can be imported into Google Earth to see the ride with satellite imagery and road layers. What else? I went to see the San Francisco Ballet perform at Stern Grove - the ballerinas were beautiful in their colorful dresses and the music sounded amazing for an outdoor venue. We sat on the hillside above the main audience under the tall eucalyptus trees - beautiful. We've been working on some interesting projects at Aechelon and it's been and amazing learning experience - how many people can claim to love their job? There is so much to learn during a week and I begin to realize how little I know and how much I will learn in the months to come. A lot has happened to me over the past two months and it's been quite a learning experience. We cannot go back in the past to change things, but we can sometimes learn from our experiences and make drastic changes. I realized over night that my career was heading in the wrong direction with dead end jobs and positions with no intellectual benefit. My professor sent out a posting for the position at Aechelon and I remember not wanting to apply because I did not feel my skills were on par with the position description. We sometimes sell ourselves short because we're scared to fail or not live up to the expectations. I decided to apply for the position and to this day things are still very challenging but I know it will come together in time. Each day I get on my bike and ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and think about how fast my life has changed and the people I lost in the process. I miss the family I used to live with and I think about their son and hope he will continue to grow into the amazing person he is destined to be. I exit the bridge and begin the steep climb to the Headlands as the strong winds press against my body. I realize the forces of life continue to push against us each day and we can either give up and ride down the hill or we can put our head down and drive forward into the unknown. The best thing for me at this point in time is to find my cadence and breathe - because tomorrow is new day full of learning and challenges.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Walk Up Hill

This evening I walked down the hill to Walgreens on Polk Street to gather a few items before the weekend. There were many homeless people sleeping in the doorways of restaurants and people who looked confused wondering around the sidewalk in search of drugs. As I walked into Walgreens an older man sat in the front begging for money. Shopping at local stores and riding my bike down Polk Street each day I begin to see the same homeless people on the streets of San Francisco. This evening I saw a man rolled up in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk - crying under a light from the window above. Did he choose this spot because the light provided safety? Did his neck hurt in the morning from sleeping without a pillow? Did the fog make his sleeping bag wet in the morning? These are some of the thoughts which ran through my mind as I passed his body on the sidewalk. I began to realize how fortunate I was to be healthy and surrounded by people who care. It made me sad to think about his family or lack of people who cared about his well being. It's amazing how we can walk past these ghosts in the night - we have all been guilty of this at one point in our life. We become numb to the homeless people - not because we're mean but because they're always there. This blog is not meant to be a lecture or a revelation but a way to ask some of the readers out there to think about helping the less fortunate next time. Some of these people may have put themselves on the street, but there are some who suffer from mental illness and cannot afford the treatment needed to fix the situation. This world has become cynical and callous - it's time we extend a little trust to those who might need an extra push or a smile of acknowledgment. I

Thanks for reading.

Hills and More Hills

Last night we experienced some of the strongest wind this season on the way down to Sausalito and on the way up to the Headlands. The wind must have been in the high 20's if not faster with dense fog saturating the bridge cables and trees over the road. Angelo (a.k.a. Angigolo or Ange Chovey) and I (a.k.a. A-train or Bert) departed the city around 5:30PM and maintained a high tempo all the way to Sausalito. The wind is usually calm in Sausalito but last night was a different story along the bike path. There were times when I thought my wheels were going to take flight - especially crossing a foot bridge in the marsh. We finally met up with Phil (a.k.a. Phil's Lama or Ernie) and Vince (a.k.a. Vin Diesel or Vin Dog) towards the end of the bike path. From there our group ("The Fantastic Four") set a high tempo up Camino Alto and over the backside to come back up Chapman. Angelo set the tempo up Chapman and everyone looked strong on the climb to the top. We finally reached the top of the climb and descended down Camino Alto so we could make the climb up Headlands before dusk. Our group rode a smooth formation all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge and the legs were feeling strong on the climbs into the headwind. I could only imagine what the Mt. Washington Hill Climb would feel like with the intense headwind all the way to the summit. So much wattage is spent on steep climbs with headwind only to feel like the bike is moving 5 miles per hour. The entire ride was an excellent experience and I feel my fitness is beginning to ramp-up before the opening cyclocross race in September. Please click on the link below to see a visual representation of our ride using a Garmin GPS unit on Angelo's bike.


Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Congratulations to my brother Chris for landing a job at Apple Computer. I would write more at this time but my brain has not receive its daily does of caffeine and I need to leave for work now. The iPhone is a pretty cool device and my birthday is right around the corner... hint... hint

Saturday, August 4, 2007

One Gear

One of the greatest things about San Francisco is the steep hills on a fixed gear bike. My truck has become obsolete and the bike can be taken any place in the city as long as the motor is willing to climb the grade. The commute to work is approximately 1.5 miles in the morning and riding in the traffic gets the brain working immediately. There's nothing like descending all the way to work with steep hills on the way home. This evening we had cappuccinos at Sugar Cafe on Sutter Street and discussed a new bicycle product in development. The Sugar Cafe has become my new place to enjoy a nice cappuccino while completing busy work on my laptop. The atmosphere is nice on the weekends - but it will never compare to Central Kávéház in Budapest. This place served amazing cappuccinos and the best hortobágyi palacsinta with a uborkasaláta (cucumber salad). These are the simple pleasures in life which I think about from time to time. There is something romantic about the Central Kávéház atmosphere and I recommend this place to anyone traveling to Budapest. Tomorrow we are going to travel to the South Bay to compete in a criterium in Santa Clara. This morning we rode 36.24 miles and met some interesting people from Boston on the way to Sausalito. The husband is visiting on business with Adobe and the wife decided to come out to California to vacation for a few days. Please copy and paste the URL in a browser to see our riding stats for the day - http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/episode/view.do?episodePk.pkValue=3551616

Why do fruit companies feel the need to put sugar on packaged mangoes? I ripped open a bag of mangoes from the store across the street only to find loads of sugar coating my fruit - GRRRR!

OK. I must get some sleep before the race tomorrow morning. I hope everyone reading this blog enjoys the remainder of the weekend and learns something new about the world.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, August 3, 2007

Falling Away with You

I've been practicing the guitar everyday - it has become an obsession. As you can guess my favorite group is Muse and I will be auditioning for my brothers band. Last night I found the music and lyrics to "Falling Away with You" and plan on using this as my audition piece for the acoustic and "Plug in Baby" or "Stockholm Syndrome" on the electric. It would have been nice to see Muse while living in England - maybe I will make a trip to London to see them in the future. This evening we're going to a friends house to put cleats on her new shoes for the clip less pedal system before her triathlon in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Headlands Bike Route

I'm working on getting the embedded Google Maps for the blog site and will be sharing some interesting tools for customizing Google Maps and Google Earth. I had some people ask about my evening ride to the Headlands and I decided to create a temporary route using the Path function in Google Earth. I can send the KML or KMZ version of the route if you're interested in coordinates, distance and elevation data. The Headlands route is an excellent way to escape the city after work and can be helpful for hill repeats on short days. The fog rolls into the Headlands around 5pm and the winds can be brutal on the way up to the look out point. I recommend a conservative descent during high winds and to mind the tourists and pebbles on the road. Sometimes we're lucky enough to have a clear view of the city with no wind and warm temperature - those are rare occasions.

Thanks for reading.

Shimano R300 Elite Road Shoe

Last week my friend Earl hooked up a pair of Shimano R300 road shoes and adjusted my saddle height and pedal position. A month ago I started experiencing slight pain on the outside of my right knee and wanted to adjust the position on the bike with a fit specialist. The saddle height was lowered 1.5cm and the seat was moved back to accommodate the changes to the cleat and pedal interface. Earl thought my Specialized road shoes were too wide for my narrow feet (rabbit feet) causing them to slide in the toe box. Why Shimano R300? This elite shoe can be heated and placed on the foot to provide a custom fit in the heel cup and the upper portion of the shoe. I've been using the shoes for two weeks and there was an immediate difference on the climbs and almost no play in the forefoot. I plan on getting the heat treatment on Saturday and will probably add a foot bed to assist my flat feet.
R300 Technical Specifications
  • Thermo-form* - Moldable upper forms to foot for a custom fit.
  • Next generation NANOTEC carbon fiber outsole - Ultra rigid, lightweight sole transfers your energy straight to the pedals.
  • Thermo-form insole with antibacterial treatment - Moldable insole forms to foot for a precise fit.
  • Anatomical curved last - Improves fit and indreases shoe-pedal stability .
  • Micro-adjust buckle and dual offset straps - Securely stabilizes foot and allows subtle adjustments. Offset straps prevent pressure points.
  • Anti-slip heel lining - Prevents heel lift.
  • Wide type is available with roomier toe box.
  • SPD-SL and Look(R) cleat compatible
  • *If you like to customize, the special device for Thermo-forming is required.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Origin of Symmetry

This evening I discovered an advanced tool for embedding Google Maps MyMaps on a blog or website to share paths and routes. I'm currently working on a map of my travels in Europe with pictures to share with family and friends. This will be an excellent way to visualize the routes so people can see the amazing places I visited last summer.

Right now we're listening to Muse and the track playing is Citizen Erased. This is an excellent song with haunting vocals which appear 6 minutes into the song. The song is track number 6 on the Origin of Symmetry album.

It's getting late at the office and I need to read a journal before going to bed.
It's amazing how we can learn new things from people each day. Or how we can listen to a song 100 times and discover something new about it. Each night I find myself going to bed with a book or journal from work and this is something I learned from a special person and it's something I will continue for the rest of my life. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Cross and Simulators

It's been a hectic day in the office as we near the deadline to complete a flight simulator for the Italian Navy. Last week we met with a few pilots from Italy to work out the terrain details for emergency landings. It's always interesting to hear the perspective of the pilot and sometimes frustrating when asked to make the impossible come to life in the simulator. The new job has been an amazing experience and I seem to learn something new about Remote Sensing each day. Our company, Aechelon Technology, builds flight simulators for various militaries around the world.

On a different note it was sad to hear about the Basque r
ider Iban Mayo testing positive for EPO. I enjoyed watching him conquer the steepest mountains in Europe with his elegant spin - it's too bad these riders feel pressured to use performance enhancing drugs and techniques to win races.

Speaking of races!
I will be racing for a new cyclocross team called Altezza 40 this season and the kits are supposed to arrive sometime at the beginning of August.

Altezza - "height" in Italian

40 - the barrier height in centimeters

Please r
ead the cyclocross link above if you're confused with barriers and height in a bike race. I would be confused as well. Last year I raced in the C category and improved as the season rolled along. It was a team effort and I will always appreciate those who woke up early in the morning to attend my races and hand out water bottles in the cold morning temperature. Cyclocross requires fitness for a circuit course filled with obstacles and barriers. It's crucial to have support around the course for water bottles and wheel exchange.

New Apartment

Last night we rode the Tuesday night sprints in Golden Gate Park before grabbing dinner at Umami (Japanese) in the Marina. The atmosphere in the restaurant was nice, but the portions were a bit small or maybe we were hungry from the ride.

I received several email requests to post pictures of my new apartment for those people living back eas
t and in other parts of the world. The pictures below were taken before dinner and the bed has not been made - this gives a candid feel to my images. I currently live a simple existence with no couches or chairs and the kitchen has the feel of a desert with tumble weeds rolling around in the wind. My friend and I went to IKEA to purchase some nice kitchenware, but there is no food in the refrigerator.

The follo
wing items can be found in the cupboards at this time

Accelerade, Edurox R4, Protein Powder, Cliff Shot Blocks (all flavors), Life Cereal, Gatorade, Recovery, Cliff Bars