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The Paul Mach Blog - August 2008

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

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August 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008 - General
Velo City I picked up the word "badass" from the junior kids at San Dimas. I've been using it interchangeably with "awesome" and "sweet." Recently I found it fit perfect for Myke at Velo City in Winters.

So I was doing the long loop before the Race Ride on Tuesday and at some point I was made aware that my rear wheel was wabbling all over the place. Too much power I guess.

We made it to Winters a bit early so I went over to Velo City to see what they could do. I explained the whole thing about the wheel and wanting to still meet the race ride and only having 5 minutes. As I was gabbing away Myke said, "Well quit talking and let me fix it."

He took the bike to the back and fixed the spoke. I was ready to go with time to spare. Thanks Myke.

PS. It appears that Professional Video Gaming has a drug problem. I know, crazy, you can go pro in video games.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - Research
Protein Ball ModelMade you look, but I mean balls in the mathematical sense. Sorry.

My wife always complains that I do too much cycling and not enough research. I don't see the problem, but I'll humor her.

This is the first in a multi-part series on measuring the surface and volume of a union of spheres in 3-dimensions, like the object on the right.

The work is motivated by applications in Computational Biology. It has been shown that the surface area of a molecule is proportional to its interaction with the surrounding water.

Specifically, we are interested in the Accessible Surface Area (ASA). We are looking for how much area is available to a probe representing the water. The probe is modeled by a sphere of radius 1.4 angstrom, the approximate radius of a water molecule.

Bellow is an example is 2-dimensions. The atoms are red, the probe is green and the ASA is blue.
Accessible Surface Area As you can see, the ASA can then be computed as the surface area of the spheres if each radius is increased by the probe radius.

Usually we are looking for the accessible surface of each atom individually. We then weight the values based on the atom type. Doing this provides more meaningful results than just using the total area.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - General
Bryan Clay Just wanted to clarify that my man Bryan Clay is much greater than Michael Phelps. His wife went to my high school so we're like first cousins once removed or something.

The Onion is reporting that hundreds of musicians were removed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for drug use. What is the world coming to?

Monday, August 25, 2008 - Race Reports
Ouch!!While Michael Phelps was probably just flirting with a girl from UC Santa Cruz, I was actually racing there. This was my 6th race at the university in 3 years, the most recent being back in March. I have a good record amongst collegians but haven't raced well against the big boys until now.

Last year this race was more like a workout Michael Phelps must do every day. 10 VO2 Max intervals followed by 9 recovery laps (yes, I got lapped). This year I wasn't coming off a 6 week break so was hoping to be a little more competitive.

The day stared with a 4am wake up call. That's when Michael Phelps wakes up and that's what it was going to take to get me to Santa Cruz on time. During the drive, I scanned through radio stations looking for some Hip Hop and Rap because that's what Michael Phelps listens to but could only find Country.

Showed up to the race to see Tony Cruz, Jackson Stewart, Neil Shirley, Jared Barrilleaux and 8 Cal-Giant in the parking lot. I was glad Michael Phelps wasn't there because he would have kicked all our butts.

The race was 20 laps and the first 10 were pretty mellow. Everyone was looking at Cal-Giant to set the pace. They played their usual game and sent James up the road so they could just focus on covering attacks. The pros and other strong riders quickly realized this and were waiting till the last few laps to make their move.

I got bored of the slow pace and with 4 laps to go I attacked. This worked well the last time I tried it. Mark from Cal-Giant was 20 seconds up the road and I caught him in a lap. Then I caught Greg the triathlete, who was another 40 seconds ahead, 2 laps later.

The last lap I dug deep to hold off Neil Shriley from Jittery Joe's for the win. At the line I tried to give my best Michael Phelps impression but it fell short. Can anyone really compare to Michael Phelps? Being part of the local media, I hope that this post fulfills my obligations to the phenomenon that is Phelps.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - Tech
Updated the blog just now to make it a little more search engine friendly. Now the links look like instead of some random stuff.

The old links will all still work but you may get a bunch of duplicate post in your feed readers.

Speaking of search engines, if you search for super badass with google right now an entry from this blog is the 20th result.

Don't ask me how I know that.

Monday, August 18, 2008 - Race Reports
Me in the TT The last stage of the Tour of Utah was a 7.5 mile time trial. It was pretty flat with a bunch of turns. A nice course.

There was definitely a lack of motivation in most of the peloton. While I didn't feel fresh I decided to go hard because this is the Tour of Utah after all. The times in my range were all pretty close. I ended up 28th, 10 seconds out of the top 20.

Jesse and Max made fun of all my "useless" effort at the finish line, but according to my calculations I moved up to 25th in the GC by 4 seconds. Even though I'm a PhD candidate in Applied Math I'm going to wait for the official results before I celebrate. Our U23 rider Erik Slack also moved up to 4th.

The real show was the battle for the top GC spot. Jeff Louder was 7 seconds down on Blake Caldwell going into the last stage. The Health Net boys had Louder 8 seconds up about half way through. It looks like he maintained that pace and took the win.

Oh and did I say I felt good on Saturday. This picture was taken by my man Carson Blume at the end of the stage. Almost over Spent the rest of the day driving back to Davis. Over the last 10 days I've become very familiar with I-5, I-15 and the I-80.

Want to thank the guys again for letting me race with them, it was a blast.

Saturday, August 16, 2008 - Race Reports
Utah Stage 4 profile The queen stage of the Tour of Utah was today. 98 miles, 14,778 ft of climbing, 22 mph average. Check out the profile above. The first half may look easy, but what looks like just a roller is actually an 800 ft climb.

Anyway, I finished 32nd which puts me 26th in the GC. I'm semi happy with it, here is how it played out.

The first half was pretty chill. We hit the first 800ft roller hard but then a break went up the road. Later as I was hoping the peloton would take a "nature break" we got stopped at a train crossing. One of those old time tourist trains with a bunch of kids in it rolled by to see about 60 cyclists losing some fluid.

About 52 miles in the first major climb started. I tried to stay with the lead group as long as I could. I got dropped with Danny Pate and tried to stay on his wheel but then got dropped again to join the second group. I was actually feeling pretty good, I just couldn't match their power. The pace was a little jumpy in the back and every time they accelerated it would put me in the red.

The decent was technical and I almost died twice. One time making a total ass of myself as I almost shot straight into the trees on a hairpin turn.

We hit the second climb of the day about 1:40 back on the front group. We went up it pretty mellow and it was clear that everyone in the group had given up. As we worked our way to the final climb the pace was way down and we hit the bottom 6:40 back from the leaders. I was pretty mad that we had slowed down so much, my top 20 GC hopes were going up the road, but there was nothing I could do.

I gave the final climb everything I had and ended up about 12:45 down from Mr. Louder. I was second from our chase group.

Overall I felt pretty good all day. It was nowhere near as hard as Stage 2. Had I been in that front group however, things probably would have been different.

I'm the top amateur in the GC right now and with a short 7.5 mile time trial tomorrow I don't expect much to change, but you never know.

Friday, August 15, 2008 - Race Reports
Utah Stage 3 profile Crit was today in downtown Salt Lake City. Nothing interesting happened from my perspective. Just got really fast at the end and I finished with the group.

Since I don't have much to say I'll leave you with some random thoughts from the week.

Yesterday I almost got spit on by Tyler Hamilton. He was looking around all funny then dropped back to miss me. Damn, I could have sold that on ebay.

Word is that Rory Sutherland, NRC points leader, said that yesterday's stage was the hardest race he's ever done in North America. And I finished with him.

The wife and kids came back from grandma's at the host house we're staying at. I've learned that if you listen to 5, 3.5 and 2 year olds, they'll just keep talking and talking.

It's awesome having a team for support. I wake up in the morning and my bike is ready to go. I get done with the race and everything is ready for me to just sit down and chill. The guys are awesome. Thank you

Friday, August 15, 2008 - Race Reports
Utah Stage 2 profile Stage 2 of the Tour of Utah was hard. 10,500 ft of climbing over 85 miles. The problem is that on Saturday it gets worse.

The top of the first climb was 10 miles in. Talk about a crazy start. It wasn't long before I was wondering why I worked so hard to get into this race.

Over the top there was a small lead group followed by a chase and then me and two other guys about 15 seconds back. We chased back on as Toyota started to organize itself. They railed it hard over the second climb before they slacked off to feed from the caravan. At this point we were in a group of thirty with only 4 or 5 amateurs. It was pretty sweat.

At some point another large chase group caught us and we had like 60 people. Before the second sprint Garmin got on the front and strung it out single file all the way into the climb. I was trying to conserve but it was hard just staying in the group.

The final climb had a more constant grade compared to the first one making it a little easier for me. I think I was in the top 30 over the top but in the second group. On the way down some people caught on and we had a good rotation. I finished somewhere in this second group 1:47 down. There were about 15 guys up the road.

Official results have me 30th. But I'm basically tied for 15th on time. Now I just need to recover during the crit tomorrow so I can lay it all down again on Saturday's 14,700 ft 98 mile monster.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - Race Reports
First stage of the Tour of Utah today. Was 51st with the same time as everyone else, but I think the Official Results are a little sketch. I swear Jesse was ahead of me and some of the guys on my team,, know they finished in a different order.

Now before you start passing judgement on the whole Jesse thing, I got a flat in the last kilometer. Thankfully it was just a slow leak, but I was still pretty sketch in the final turn about 400 meters from the line. It was no big deal, I was out of the action anyway.

Other than that the race was pretty mellow. The only interesting part was when the break got lost. The officials stopped the peloton so they could catch back up and get their 3 minute gap. Pretty funny.

Anyway, I think everyone knew that today meant nothing because the real show starts tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - Race Reports
So about those Elite National Championships, basically it was a lot harder than I expected, a hot 115 miles with a 25.5 mph average. Complete Results.

At the start the officials announced that any group 3 minutes or more behind the leaders would be pulled. They started doing this in the U23 race earlier but had never told the riders, so it was a cluster. For our race, it just made it fast right from the gun. Since the course was relatively flat, this didn't really mess with my "get in an early move" race plan.

The race was 6, 20 miles laps on a hot dog course. Out and back with the start/finish in the middle. It had a couple of hills at the ends, but nothing I would consider serious.

Somehow the heat, hills, and constant attacking combined to allow groups off the front. About 1 lap in, 20 of us rolled off on one of the hills. We never had that much of a gap and people kept bridging up. Every time I looked around, the group was bigger.

Anyway, as the laps went on, the hills kept making selections till we had about 15 guys half way through.

A hard attach.Here is Jesse off the front with Christian Walker at about 2.5 laps to go. I think I'm the last guy on the right. Moments after the picture was taken, I bridged up with Steve Reaney from Cal-Giant in tow. We stayed away for about half a lap.

When we got caught, Andy, James and Thurlow countered wisely. I was pretty gassed from the previous move so couldn't follow. A couple guys tried to chase but it wasn't enough. I helped a little but knew I would just blow myself up for the finish.

I sprinted at the end for 6th and I'm pretty happy with it. Riding solo against organized teams is hard, especially when no one stays around to feed you. Thanks to the Cal-Giant guys for helping me out.

The funny part was, last week I got made fun of for chasing down the Cal-Giant guys all the time and then getting out sprinted. This time I just sat in and let others chase only to get yelled at for sprinting. Can't please everybody I guess.

Quote of the race:

"If their balls were bigger than a mouse they'd be pulling more."

Sunday, August 10, 2008 - General
Finished 6th at Elite Nationals today. It was all I could do against the Cal-Giant juggernaut who took 1,2 and 5.

Driving to Utah tomorrow. I'll have a complete race report in a couple days.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 - General
Most people don't think about the aerodynamics of their saddle, but real racers leave nothing to chance. Saddles should be super fast. Wind tunnel tests are limited, but the right saddle can reduce drag up to 1-3%. The tests were done without a rider, but it's okay to forget about that.

One thing is for sure, a properly made aerodynamic saddle will give you at least as much savings as this thing.

Monday, August 4, 2008 - Race Reports
A bunch of Bad Ass Boys Over the years I've found there are two ways to win a race. One way is to beat everyone else to the line. The other is to convince yourself that everyone who finished ahead of you is either lucky, a moron, or you let them win.

So while the results say I got 8th at the Distincts last Saturday, I actually won and here's why:
  1. Steve Reaney - Soloing to the finish is bad ass unless you have 20 teammates blocking for you, then it's just cool.
  2. Andy J-M - Lucky to have like 20 teammates.
  3. Adam Switters - Update your blog you moron!
  4. Fabrice Dubost - Wasn't lucky and I didn't let him beat me, so he must be a moron.
  5. Nate English - Consider it a gift, one former runner to another.
  6. Roman Kilun - Friend of the Blog. You're welcome.
  7. Andres Gil - Must be lucky or a moron, I'm not sure.
This is from the names found on this picture. There might be others, but you get the idea.

Anyway, Fort Ord course with two crazy turnarounds and the twisty climb wasn't selective enough because of a headwind. Cal-Giant had like 20 guys, so you guess how it played out: I spent a lot of useless time on the front. I got dropped the final time up the climb but caught back on because the group started playing games. Overall I had a good time.

Big props to Dan Sweet, P.E. for pulling back the Jesse Moore.

Amazing quote of the day:

"Well, we should have gotten 1-2, we had like 20% of the field."
- Some Cal-Giant Guy

Makes me all the more excited for Nationals and Utah.

Friday, August 1, 2008 - General
It won't be long now before all we need to know is delivered through a series of images and sounds displayed on screens. Then reading will become a thing of the past and us science types will stick it to those English Majors once and for all. Nothing personal Eric, it's just progress.

At the future is today. Clicking the image below will play a recording of this blog post, ushering in the future. Listen to this Blog Post While in Alaska I decided to relive this old "reading" tradition.

First up was The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Basically a chick flick on paper. I should have known, anything listed under "Woman's Fiction" is bound to be trouble. But my wife recommended it and as they say, "Love is blind."

Next I read Volumes I and II of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, fantasy novels by Diana Wynne Jones. She must think I'm 12 or something, the plot was super predictable and there was no character development. But they did pass the time.

Anyway, I'm glad to be back. It's great to be in front of The Mainstream Media again. They make life so much simpler.

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