Monday, October 29, 2007

Summer of the Langster has come to an end

I started out in the spring looking to change up my excercise routine. I was getting burned out on the gym and I did not want to waste a nice summer day lifting weights in side a dark gym. Since I had started taking spinning classes as a alternative cardio workout it started to make since that I should look into a single speed track bike instead of a full road bike as I was originally thinking of.

The decision was made that I would only go to the gym on days when the weather was not good for riding. The plan was a success! My computer says that I have riden 1600 plus miles since I installed it. I think I already had put more than 1000 miles on the Langster before I installed the computer (Cat Eye Micro Wireless). It definitely reversed the gym burnout that I was experiencing.

While I lost some size in my upper body I did build up my legs. I think I gained about 5 lbs which was kind of unexpected since I had expected to lose weight. Of course the reading on the scale is just a meaningless number. A body builder once told me the only thing that matters is how you look in the mirror.

I know that the experiment has ended since I rode both yesterday and today. While the sun was out it is starting to get cold here on the North Jersey Shore. We had frost over night. On Sunday's ride I wore a long sleeve heavy jersey and shorts. I was not super uncomfortable but I did cut my route a little short once the sun was starting to set. I wanted to be back by 5 PM but it started to get colder at around 4 PM.

Today's ride was even colder. The temperatures were in the low 50s at mid day. I wore my long tights that I bought to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and up to Marin County in February. At first I thought I could get away with only wearing my fingerless road gloves but after two test rides around the lake I knew I ended to get something warmer on my hands. I went through the coat closet and I found a pair of gloves that would go on my hands and still fit underneath my riding gloves. They were not a matching pair and I think they were women's gloves but I did not have time to get to a store since my window of riding opportunity was going to a short one.

I am finding that riding in the cold is much harder and strenuous than riding in the warmer weather. I have found myself at a lower energy level. On Sunday I only got in about 37 miles and today I only got in about 29 miles. Both rides were not fun at all. Although I do feel like I have worked out.

I have been holding off on purchasing a lot of winter riding gear. I am not sure how often I will use it especially once ski season starts. Since this is the New Jersey shore and not Syracuse we should still have several weekends left of 50 to 70 degree weather. I bought some glove liners after I finished my ride today. I do not think I will be getting out riding as the temperatures get below 45 degrees so I should be good with what I have.

I do want to get a better bike for next year. I think I have decided on a Specialized Tarmac. The only question is which model model. The Tarmac Elite appears to be a good value. The two shops I have talked to have told me that they will be able to sell it for $1750 - $1775. This is a good price for a Shimano 105 equiped carbon frame bike. The Tarmac Elite is a new model for 2008. It looks like it is supposed to replace some the Allez models that were dropped for 2008.

The real decision comes when you start looking at the models above the Elite. Once you start spending $1500 - $2000 it is always easy to justify spending "Just a couple hundred more". That is usually when it starts to snowball.

I am starting to move away from the Elite and up to the Comp Double. I was originally looking at this bike when I bought my Langster. I was originally going to get a Scott CR1 Team but I wanted to look at the Tarmac. While I ended up with the Langster I have been thinking I would like to have a Tarmac was well. I have not priced this bike yet but online price is $2400 so I am thinking the shops will sell for around $2100. I think this might be my winner for 2008. The Tarmac Expert Ultegra pictured above is listing out at $3000. I talked to one guy on the road who had a 2007. He had great things to say about it but he also worked for a Specialized Dealer . It is certaintly an option.

At $4000 list the Tarmac Pro Double picture above is definitely out of my price range. While it would be nice to have a full Dura Ace Group bike I currently have other priorites and it would be hard to justify. I am not sure it would make that much of a difference.

So far none of the dealers around me have any 2008 Tarmacs in stock. They all have them on order but they have yet to come it. Since I am in no hurry and I am not expecting to buy anything until the spring I can wait until some of these start showing up on the sales floor. Toga Bikes in New York usually has a good supply so I will have to stop in next time I am in Manhattan.

I really do not want to move away from single speed riding. In fact I want to start riding fixie but not on the road. Unfortunately, the closest Velodromes to me are between 90 and 120 minutes away (Kissena in Queens and Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania). Specialized is not offering a complete S-Works Langster for 2008. They are just offering a S-Works Frame for $1100. The bike pictured above is the 2007 Langster S-Works which retails for $3800. I have heard that Specialized still has these available. I might think about this if I lived closer to a track. However, the 54 Langster Comp that the Peddler is willing to sell for $800 is a better investment. If it is still there come spring I may make it mine. Otherwise the Bianchi Pista Concept or the Felt TK2 is another way to go.

Off to Richmond, Virginia for the week. It is supposed to be warmer the rest of the week but I still will not be able to ride. Hopefully it stays nice into the weekend.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Holmdel Freshman girls play in the Toms River JV Tournament

Holmdel's Freshman and Junior Varsity team combined to play in the Toms River, NJ JV Field Hockey Tournament. The game was scheduled for 1:30 PM on Saturday October 27. The weather was not cooperating since it rained hard all morning. I was suprised that the matches were not cancelled. My daughter had to be dropped off at Holmdel High School at 11:30 AM. It was still raining hard when I dropped her off.

Toms River is about 35 miles south of Holmdel. It is located off of Parkway Exit 88. (Yes, it is true that everything is an exit number in New Jersey) I mapped to the wrong school and I needed to ask for directions twice. I expected to miss the first half but the earlier games were delayed. I got to the field just as the team was warming up as Welcome to the Jungle played on the loudspeaker system. Holmdel's opponent was Notre Dame Catholic High School.

The game was played on the Toms River East High School turf field. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. The field was lined for multiple sports and both teams had difficulty finding the right out of bounds markings. I know it was difficult to tell from the stands. The ref was always correcting the players. Also, the Holmdel players had not spent a lot of time playing on turf and tried to drive the ball the same way they do on grass. It took most of the game before they were able to adjust.

Notre Dame dominated play in the first half but were unable to score because of the superior play of Holmdel's goalie. She had a great game and left Notre Dame frustrated at what should have been sure goals.

Notre Dame did put the ball in the goal during the first half. However, the score was waved off by the refs because the ball had been kicked. The Notre Dame coach had some issues with the call and made it known from the bench. As the Notre Dame players on the bench chimed in the ref stopped play to reprimand the coach and the players. The coach apologised and took the blame for his players by stating that they were just following his lead. The Notre Dame coach had a big booming voice and it was easy to hear him in the stands. It was obvious that he as passionate about the game and was constantly calling out instructions for his players. Even though he had more issues with some of the calls he learned to bite his tongue for the rest of the game.

The second half of the game was much more even sided. The game was played on the whole field and Holmdel was also starting to get more opportunities at scoring a goal. However, Notre Dame's defense also stepped up and held Holmdel scoreless.

The score at the end of regulation was 0 to 0. This was followed by a 10 minute sudden death overtime period. The Holmdel players were starting to wear out and Notre Dame was able to score about 3 minutes into the period. This ended Holmdel's season.

I did not bring my camera to the game because it was raining so hard I figured that I would not get any good shoots. Now I wish I had.

I enjoyed watching the Holmdel Freshman girls play field hockey this year. I am looking forward to next year when they all move up to Junior Varsity. The girls all seemed to have fun and really enjoyed the competition. The coach Ms. Hoffman did a great job with them.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vultures in Richmond, Virginia

I parked my rental car in the parking lot of my new client in Richmond, Virginia. I was getting my backpack out of the back of the car when I felt stares on my back. I turned around and I spotted these vultures in the tree behind me. Kind of poetic I think.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Holmdel defeats Rumson Fair Haven in Freshman Girls Field Hockey

Holmdel High School Freshman field hockey team (5 -6)played Rumson Fair Haven High School (RFH) at home today. Holmdel was able to come away with a win by out scoring RFH by a score of 3 - 0. Holmdel's defense was able to record another shutout.

During the first half both teams appeared to be evenly matched. The ball moved up and down the field and neither team had complete control of the game. At the end of the first half the score was still 0 - 0.

Not sure what the Holmdel coach told her team at half time but whatever it was it worked. The team that took the field for the start of the second half seemed completely different that the team that had played during the first half. Holmdel spent the almost the whole second half on offense. RFH only got close to Holmdel's goal a couple of times. Holmdel was able to turn RFH around at the half field on almost every break away. Holmdel was executing on their corners and by the mid point of the second half Holmdel was a threat to score on every posession.

Rumson Fair Haven had one of the nicest uniforms of every team that Holmdel has played this year. The purple with laid skirt uniforms looked like they were designed by Alexander Julian.

Holmdel Freshman Field Hockey team only has one more game left against Wall Township on October 23. This will give the team the opportunity to finish the year with a .500 record. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend.

I have really enjoyed watching the games this year. I am now looking forward to next year's JV season.

Red Bank, New Jersey

I was walking around Red Bank, New Jersey last night because I was a little bored and for the month of October the restuarants in Red Bank are supposed to be offering Price Fix Meals for $25. This was the first Wednesday that I was able to get into town. I ended up stopping at a pizza shop and getting a slice of pizza and a pepperoni wheel.

As I was eating my meal I was thinking about one of the stores that I really missed in Red Bank. Prown's was one of my favorite stores on Broad Street. While the Prown's name is still around as a home improvement company the store on Broad Street is now a Chase Bank. One of the great things about Prown's was that it sold just about everything from blinds for your house or apartment to electric trains.

Restoration Hardware moved in down the street from Prown's a couple of years before it closed but it is not really a replacement.

There was a Army/Navy store in Red Bank that closed a couple of years ago and the building is now being turned into Luxury Condos/Apartments. I think the name of the store was call Kislers or something like that. While I never purchased anything there I did like to walk through it from time to time. The store sold everything you need for a day at the beach or a hike through one of the local parks.

Unfortunately, these types of stores have closed all over the country so it would be hard for them stay in business when they are in high dollar real estate.

On the plus side Jack's Music is still open. However, I seldom buy anything there. I used to be a good customer but now I download most of my music. I do still browse and I occasionally purchase things that I cannot get on iTunes.

Jack's music used to be across the street and had a large musical instrument department. It was a hair band paradise with lots of pointy guitars and big stacked amps.

The Original Soup Man (the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld) just opened up a store on Broad Street across from Starbucks. They have opened up several of these stores in New York. I have always thought that this guy was a creation of Larry David. I have been to the stores in New York and the soup is not bad. However, there are couple of other soup places that I like better.

One of the great things about Red Bank is that even though it is a small town it is always changing. I am waiting for a bike shop to open. There used to be on in town but it closed and the building is now a fashion retailer called Nirvana.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Holmdel Freshman Girls Field Hockey lose to Freehold Township

Holmdel High School Freshman Girls Field Hockey (white/blue) lost to Freehold Township High School (blue/yellow) on Monday October 15, 2007. The final score was 2 - 1 and the game was tied 1 - 1 until the final minutes of the game.

The Holmdel freshman that have been playing Junior Varsity came down to help the team work on subbing. Holmdel has played the whole year with just enough players to field a team.

Freehold scored first on a well executed corner. However, Holmdel stayed strong and came back with a score of their own that gave the team hope that could pull out the win. Holmdel did put the ball in the net again but the ref had already stopped play. The goal was not allowed and the score remained 1 - 1 for the rest of the first half.

Neither team dominated play. The offense and defense of both teams were busy throughout the game.

Holmdel's goalie had several great saves. The improvement in the goal is allowing Holmdels defense to move further away. In fact is has been fun watching the whole team improve as the season progresses. The team is now striking the ball hard and using push passes to move the ball up and down the field.

Freehold scored their second goal late in the second half. While Holmdel had some strong scoring opportunities they were unable to convert and the clock ran out. Freehold was able to return home with the win.

The game was well attended by both parents and students. It was agreed by those sitting in the stands that Freehold Township was the best team Holmdel faced this season. I am glad I was able to get out of work early so that I could attend the game. I also remembered to bring my camera for the game as well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Two New NBC Shows (Must See TV)

I have found that my early adoption of a TV show is the kiss of death. Last year I liked the early episodes of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "The Black Donnellys". Both of which were cancelled before they even finished their first seasons. However, shows that I discover after the 1st or 2nd season seem to do better. "Seinfeld" and "The Office" are two good examples.

This season I was excited about two new shows. On Mondays at 8 PM EST is the show "Chuck" which is kind of a gamers fantasy. The premise is an underachieving Big Box Electronic Retailer's technical manager (Nerd Herd) is teamed with a gorgeous CIA spy because he has downloaded all of the world's secrets into his brain. I have yet to watch any episode on regular TV but I have gone to the NBC's website (Chuck Online Episodes) and watched all three episodes. So far the shows move fast, the characters are well developed and the sound track is excellent. Hopefully they can keep up the pace as the season progresses. I am not sure if I will stick around for "Heroes" which I have not warmed up to. I will probably try to head for the gym at 9 PM instead.

"Life" starring Damian Lewis is on Wednesdays at 10 PM EST on NBC as well. I was a big fan of the HBO series "Band of Brothers" and Mr. Lewis was one of the stars. I think Mr. Lewis is the go to guy to play stoic characters. I was travelling on the West Coast and I missed the first half of the pilot but I have since been able to watch all of the shows again on NBC's website. So far this is my favorite show of the new season.

The characters are complex and again the soundtrack is first rate. The plot revolves around a wrongly accused LA police officer who is exonerated and released from prison. As part of a settlement with the City and State Mr. Lewis character Charlie Crews is allowed to return to the police force as a detective. However, after 12 years in maximum security he is a changed man. However, Officer Crews is not the only character struggling with past demons.

I am not sure that either of these shows will be able to keep the quality up for more than a year or two but in the mean time they are both fun to watch. Hopefully, I be able to get further than I did with either "Studio 60" or "The Black Donnellys".

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Holmdel vs. Jackson Liberty High School Football 10-12-2007

Holmdel High School Varsity Football (here is an article about last week's game) played Jackson NJ Liberty High School last night at home. Unfortunately the Jackson team was unmatch was not able to move the ball and was never a threat to score. Holmdel ended up with and easy win (40 - 0) to remain 5 - 0 for the season.

Even under the lights my camera does not take good pictures at night but the video option works fine. I took several videos of various plays but there was one longer one that had a penalty, a distance walk off and then a play. I am using the new video upload feature in blogger. (I give up. I have tried to upload video all day with no success!)

I got a 40 mile ride in at the end of the afternoon on Friday. However, the summer has left us and we are now moving into fall. The wind was blowing and the temperature was in the low 60s. I was able to break out my new heavy long sleeve jersey. The wind was so bad I almost turn around because it was moving me all over the road.

It was also an animals gone crazy day as well. A squirrel decided to sprint under my front wheel. I did not hit it but it scared the heck out of me. As I was coming back into Holmdel two deer posed on the front lawn of a house for a woman taking a picture of them with her cell phone. Once the picture was taken both deer decided to sprint across the road right in front of me. I was not going that fast so I was able to hit the breaks. Right now that is one of my worries is that the a herd of deer are going to run out in front of me as a I flying down one of the hills on my training routes. (On today's ride a Ground Hog decided to run in front of me from across the road as I was getting to the top of a climb. The animal almost got hit by a mini van but it missed. What is up with the wildlife in New Jersey?)

Maybe we might get a couple of more warm days but we are now moving in our fall/winter season. The leaves will start changing in the next week or so. As long as I dress warm I do not mind riding in the fall or early spring. Might need to make an investment in another jersey and a jacket.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

More Pictures of Hyderabad, India

Here are some more pictures. I was not in town long enough to take some quality pictures. Here are the some more of the best of what I was able to take. Next time I want to be able to walk around more which should create better photo opportunities.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Back from India (with more pictures)

I got back to my house in New Jersey at about 5 PM on Friday evening. The line through Immigration moves quickly but my bag was one of the last off of the luggage carousel. Customs went pretty quickly as well. I am glad that I lined up a car to take me home because there is no way I could have handled the drive down the Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway on the Friday evening of a long weekend.

I slept most of both flights. I probably only got about 6 hours of sleep over the 2 days I was on the ground in Hyderabad. I got 2 hours on the first night and 4 hours the second night. Since my flight was leaving at 1 AM on Friday I toughed it out and fought the need to take a nap before heading the airport.

The CEO of the company that I was visiting (he is a Canadian living in California) wanted to go to a shop to look at some wood carvings. Since I needed to buy some gifts as well I decided to tag along. I bought some pearls, a couple of bracelets and a cool carving of an elephant family.

Getting into India was easy once I got my visa together (I used CIBT). Now I can take as many trips as I want for the next year. I think I set a bad precedent by my willingness to travel coach class to India on short notice. Next time I am going to have to insist on business class (coach was not bad but on the trip from Hyderabad to Frankfurt some guy got into with me because I was trying to open a packet of nuts and I guess I made to much noise).

I missed my daughter's Field Hockey game because I thought it was a 4 PM but it was moved to 5 PM. I could have made it. They beat Red Bank Catholic by a score of 1 to 0. I went to the school to pick my daughter up and the team was really excited as they got off the bus.

Holmdel High School Football team was playing Barnegat High School at 7 PM. My daughter and some of the other members of the team decided to go directly to game. Since I was going to have to come back to pick her up I decided to attend the game as well. I am glad I did since the game went into overtime. Holmdel won the game and remains undefeated. I thought it was kind of funny that I started the day off at the Hyderabad, India Airport and finished the day at a High School football game.

This is the pool at the Marriott Hyderabad. This is a new hotel in the area. I ended up eating all of my meals at the Hotel. If I end up going back I am going to venture out more. I was a little intimated by the whole experience. Even though I travel a lot for work I have only been out of the US once before and that was to go to London in 2000. I have been to Canada a lot but that does not really count since it was about a 90 minute drive from where I grew up.

Hyderabad has statues all over the city. Including a large Budda built in the man made lake called Husain Sagar that is in the center of the city.

I am not sure what the name of this temple is. It is on a hill that reminds me of Coit Tower in San Francisco. This is as far as we can go without taking off our shoes. I was not doing that although I wish I had been more adventurous but it was such a short trip I never got over the intimidation factor of being in a strange country.

The walk up to the Temple is lined with stands just like this. The Coit Tower reference is really reenforced here.
This is the Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. There was a big match friday India vs Australia. I was watching a replay of a Cricket match in my hotel room on ESPN (it came on after a replay of the 2006 Winter X Games Super Pipe replay). The games are annouced just like a baseball game. If I had stayed over the weekend I would have tried to get tickets.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hyderabad, India 10-03-2007

Left Newark International on Monday 10/01/2007 at 5:05 PM arrived in Hyderabad, India at 11:20 PM on Tuesday 10/02/2007. My flight home leaves Hyderabad at 1:10 AM on Friday 10/05/2007. I will be back in New Jersey at 3 PM on 10/05/2007. I am tired but I wanted to post some pictures.