Surprise Upgrade

October 7th, 2012

Much to my surprise last weekend, there was a slight rumble noise coming from something in my apartment at about 3am when I was finally done playing Diablo 3 for the night. I went back out to the living room and determined the noise was not out there. I went back to my room at turned off my computer in there. I didn’t determine the noise was coming from the computer, it was late. I just turned it off to safe so I could deal with it in the morning.

In the morning I found that it didn’t want to turn on. Some LED’s blinked and the fans spun up, but it did not beep or post. I did hear some much different strange noises from the power supply while I was trying to test out some things. They slowly got worse, but I still had to put my ear on the power supply to really hear them. I decided to get a new supply, and got a 650W one sent overnight via Amazon Prime.

The new power supply was not the problem sadly. When it arrived I went directly to trying to power on the motherboard with it. It didn’t turn on at all. The supply’s fan didn’t even turn on. I checked all my connections and tried again. Still nothing. I got out a super old single core Althon mobo/cpu/ram that I have lying around and that worked with the new supply. I also tried the suspected broke supply on that mobo, and it really made a loud sound that time. I confirmed the old mobo still worked with the new supply again, and then I tired the new supply on the motherboard in failed machine. Still nothing. I took out some ram, and then it powered on just like the failed supply had done; no beep, no post. When I put the ram back in, it still powered on with no beep and no post.

So it seemed like the thing to do was replace the machine’s internals. It has been on mostly constantly since 6/21/2007 and five years seems pretty good. Here’s what I got for the new system, which is now operational:

I also picked up 8GB more ram from a friend who bought the wrong kind. My 16GB set has not arrives yet actually, so the 8GB actually allowed me to do the build today instead of waiting for the other side of the long weekend.

I had to get the DVD drive because all of my existing DVD drives were PATA, but the new motherboard only has SATA connectors. In fact, I learned while building it today that it also lacks as floppy drive connector. That spawned a two hour hunt for the plastic piece that goes in the case to block up where the floppy drive lives. I did eventually find it. And while I was looking I reorganized all of my cables and spare hardware. I filled up two boxes of old stuff to recycle or give away, including the heart of my 500Mhz P3 and my original GPU, the Riva TNT2.

The build went smoothly; everything powered up on the first try; except that I forgot to hook up a SATA cable to the new DVD drive. I also accidental chose the “auto-overclock” option in my fancy BIOS, which then turned the machine on and off a couple times trying out different settings. That is pretty cool, as overclocking just enough used to be hard. Of course I don’t really want to waste the power to overclock, so when it was done I had to turn it all off. The Linux setup went easily. I didn’t reinstall the OS; I just rebuilt the kernel as all my drives were still perfectly fine. The one real gotcha was that I had moved my Nvidia GPU to a different slot, and so it had a different bus number, and that bus number was in the xorg configuration file… so it couldn’t find my graphics card for a while.

I can’t wait till I get the extra ram, and then to run some video compression benchmarks!

Liberty Mutual Tower

June 9th, 2012

There is a new skyscraper going up in Boston and one can finally see it rising above the trees.

I saw the construction site from the other side of town on Sunday, and it is very much in the wrong place to be the Copley Place Tower. It is in fact the Libery Mutual Tower. I do remember hearing something about this tower before, much more recently than I heard about Copley Place. I cerainly didn’t realize they were ready to build it. It’s only 25 stories, so it’s hardly something to write home about, but I already did.

Hopefully they will start on the Copley Place Tower soon! The first time I heard about it was in this laughable song in opposition to the tower. But I could not be happier that this one got approved. Well I could, its not particularly tall. It is a 47 story building with 43 stories of fancy condominiums right next to the Back Bay MBTA station on the Orange Line. From some angles it will fill a very large gap in the skyline between Copley Square and the Prudential Complex. There are lots more pictures and information about the tower in this fourm.

Actually, the opposition is always how I hear about new towers. Somehow their first complaint is always about shadows. I can only guess they have not spend a summer in Boston in search of some shade. In other Boston tower news, the developer behind the buildings that were famously not approved in my post It’s a City may get a slightly less tall shot.

“Sources tell the Boston Business Journal that [the new head of the Boston Redevelopment Association, Peter] Meade told [the developer, ] Chiofaro: “Ill help you get the project built, but you have to stop talking to the press.”

You know, it is stuff like this that is probably why I always hear about new buildings from the people who are opposed to them.

Tyler Cowen’ Six Rules for Dining Out

April 15th, 2012

Tyler Cowen’s endless posts about “Markets in Evevrything” do not help me keep up to date with his proflific blog. They are so brief, varried, and many that I can’t even tell what the commonality that makes a post ripe for the “Markets in Evevrything” title is. This is perhaps, the halmark of a hurried blogger, but I’ve attributed it to a bad writer, or at least someone who isn’t writing with me as an audiance. There are 142 unread posts by him on my Google Reader. So, when he linked to this adaptation of his new book on his blog, I missed it, but my dinner group did not.

The overall idea some stragies to follow to end up eating the best food possible at the lowest price possible. So go read it and then come back for my take.

1. In the Fanciest Restaurants, Order What Sounds Least Appetizing
The premise here is that there are only two reasons something will be on the menu and the fanciest resturants, those being that A) it’s expected to be on the menu, or B) the chef makes it well. The goal of this advice is to push you into something that must be from column B. I don’t spend much time in this caliber of place, but when it is resturant week and I am I usually follow a more reserved but similar strategy. I order based on liking at least one or maybe two ingrediants in a dish, and I don’t worry about what the rest of the ingrediants even might be. This also when new to an ethnic food.

2. Beware the Beautiful, Laughing Women
The idea here is that places with great bar sceens don’t need to have great food. Well, at least once they have estabished a great bar sceen they don’t. I don’t pay much attention to this; in fact, I’ve fall pray here, specifically to the place once known as Ivy and now known as Social 49. The people and space in there are so beautiful. But did learn something, I’ve only had drinks at Social 49.

3. Get Out of the City and Into the Strip Mall
When I read this I was thinking of one place, Ritu ki Rasoi a delicious Indian place in Burlingon. It is located on a loading dock behind an auto parts store and is quite a find. But then the author went on to list subrubs where you can find good food “Orange County, California; the area near San Jose; Northern Virginia, near D.C.; Somerville, Massachusetts; and so on.” So maybe I don’t have to drive all the way out Burlington to find actual strip malls after all. My guess now is that he’s talking about Tu Y Yo.

4. Admit What You Don’t Know
Ask people who might know where the good resturants are, where the good resturants are, espcially people who travel to the area frequnetly. This seems like a no brainer, but I never do it. It does make sense though. When I saw someone who was most likely a pharama-gril at Junior’s Taco Shop on my trip to Ridgecrest, CA a couple weeks ago, I assumed it meant that I was having lunch in the right place. I was already pretty sure I was having lunch in the right place though, it was packed. But, I didn’t think of her a poential resource for finding more good resturants. I didn’t make that leap.

5. Exploit Restaurant Workers
There is good food, for cheaper, where there is cheap labor, including family eastablishments. I sort of assume all resturants in an area face roughly the same labor costs, so this doesn’t seem help me much. Sure the meals in chinatown always include more food for the money than anywhere else in the city, but I don’t want to eat a meal in chinatown every week, so this isn’t that much of a help. The authors example is to stay away from places with excessive waitstaff and valets. I suppose that is fair because, where this advice certainly goes wrong though, are poor areas of the country like Roswell, NM. They don’t have better food just cause there is cheap labor.

6. Prefer Vietnamese to Thai
Finally a valid reason not to like Thai food! I’ve been sort of wishy washy about Thai food for a while in world where everyone else seemes to love it. His argument here is that Thai food became hip, and like in #2, it no longer had to be good. That’s probbally not why I don’t like thai food that much, but it does feel good to have some else dis-recomend it. That said, I am not a fan of Vietnamese Pho at all either. Maybe that is for the laugauge barrier reasons that the author lays out.

So maybe I’ll buy his book. Certainly I just totally ignored its existance before, but the Atlantic adapation of it was worth reading!

2011 Word Cloud

January 3rd, 2012

This year’s word cloud was much easier to construct than last year’s because as a result of the difficulty last year in downloading post’s from facebook, I stopped posting directly to facebook and started using twitter much more. As a result the dominate feature of this year’s word cloud are the twitter handles of some friends and some people/sites I follow. These are the at symbols items, like @jodiecongirl. Actually, I transformed any reference to a person in any form, to their twitter handle, if they have one. There are also so some twitter hash tags in the mix.

There are a number of big items that I managed to blog about this year, including the puzzlesI solved at the MIT Mystery Hunt, all the miles I biked along the >Boston Marathon route, an interesting paper about Yelp, and the #WNDNYC trip to see the Daily Show, but there are a number of stand out items that I didn’t get a chance to blog about.

  • I met @jodiecongirl, writer of at #nerdnite in April.
  • I moved into a new apartment in Davis Square with a new room mate, @jamespost.
  • I went to a #redsox game in September, the one where they actually beat Tampa Bay, after my game in May got postponed due to rain.
  • I pulled hard for the Buckeyes in their worst season since 1897, despite the very unfortunate loss of Jim Tessel and the unfortunate hiring of Urban Mayer. #gobucks
  • I saw my former mentee Christina give a talk about the Awesome Foundation at #tedxboston. Actually I was at a simulcast event at google in Kendall Square.
  • I saw an MBTA musical about how much the T sucks at Improv Boston.
  • I continued to attend Wednesday Night Dinner. We finished our Alphabet Challenge including all of the hard letters: Quick Pick BBQ, Xinh Xinh, Yak and Yeti, and Zaftig’s.
  • I apparently use the words think, night, and work much too often.

There are also a number of things I didn’t get to blog about at all, but I should have:

  • Through my teacher friend Mary I got back into First Robotics for a year, mentoring Brighton Highschool students.
  • I bought skis in in March and promptly did a lot of skiing. I spent 3 days skiing Mount Tremblant in Canada with some Boston friends, and then a couple weeks later I joined Paul in Utah again.
  • I participated in two BAPHL Puzzle Hunts, miniature versions of the MIT hunt. In the first one @sparkyb, Jed, @jamespost, and I made a fine showing, being the last to finish. At the second, inception themed, hunt, however, we failed miserably even after picking up @jodiecongirl and @benlap.
  • I went on the Sam Adam’s Brewery tour for the first and second times. The first time was with these fine people, and the second time I wore a suite.
  • I wore my Google Maps costume to the common on Memorial Day and largely failed to give tourist directions. I blame the fact that tourists didn’t know that I was a map of Boston because they don’t know what a map of Boston looks like. Anyone who did recognize it, didn’t need a map. So I gave up and joined the Zombie March, I figured they probably did need a map.
  • In early June I went to the Bruin’s Stanley Cup Victory Parade and a Water Gun Battle on the Esplanade, on the same day. The Battle got broken up by the cops!
  • I went to a number of Self Proclaimed Rockstars concerts.
  • I joined Paul’s and my families at the Outer Banks Beach trip in 2011 after skipping the trip in 2010.
  • Tony and company topped their usual post thanksgiving turkey deep fry by roasting a pig with a Turducken inside.

Wednesday Night Dinner Goes to NYC

December 20th, 2011

Thanks to Amber, my Wednesday Night Dinner (WND) group got 8 tickets to the Daily Show on November 15th of this year. They sold out instantly to our group of friends, but I managed to snag one for my favorite blogger turned acquittance and fellow Daily Show fanatic, Jodi(econgirl). We also saved on to exchange for housing with our former WND friend Eric. We made a 5 day weekend out of it, since our tickets were for a Tuesday, and now I have finally finished a map detailing the whole trip:

View WND NYC in a larger map

And all the pictures that are included in the map, so you don’t have to go finishing if you just want to see them.

Social Media Halloween

October 29th, 2011

My room mate Post and I threw our Halloween party this year on Friday. The Social Media theme was encoded into the party invite:

With everyone Still atwitter from Our SCotchtoberfest party, Post and I are goIng to bookend October by throwing Another social gathering at the end of the the month, in our space. Costumes of alL sorts, constructed using any media, are highly encouraged. We’d like to see your shinning or gruesoMely paintED face there along wIth your plus ones, plus twos, or plus threes. The socializing will start At 8:30pm on Friday, October 28th.

Our costumes were also in theme. Post went as the best Facebook costume I’ve seen, and I was Google Plus, in keeping with my recent trend of being a Google product.

As part of the Google Plus costume, I took pictures of all of the attendees, which I printed out as stickers with a Polaroid Pogo printer. I had them place their picture in one of three circles, “Pirates,” “Pimps,” or “Not Hipsters.” This is sort of like what you do on a Google Plus, since no one is actually on there. I think the costume was way more fun than actually using Google Plus. Here are the pictures in each category:



Not Hipsters

On “Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of”

October 4th, 2011

I, perhaps famously, introduced my parents to Yelp this summer on the way back from our annual North Carolina beach trip by suggesting we have lunch at The Ten Top in Norfolk, VA before heading to the airport to return home. The review instructing me to get the Turkey Apple Club on cinnamon bread and suggesting that the pasta salad was especially good sold me enough to sell my parents. It worked out wonderfully, and is actually my favorite part of the whole trip. That may be because I was raised on going out to eat, and it was one of two restaurants featured on the trip, and certainly it was the better one. A fond memory thanks to strangers on the internet, organized by Yelp.

I use Yelp frequently. In my Wednesday Night Dinner group, where we try a new restaurant most every week, picking a restaurant and sending it out to the group often is done via a one line email with a yelp URL and a time. I don’t know why we still include the time, its always 7:30; the only important information in the email is the Yelp URL. Every member has their own method of picking places, some uses sources other than yelp, as do I. I often use local reviews like this one for last week’s delicious pick, L’Impasto, but I always check the Yelp reviews as well. In fact, the reviews for L’Impasto were so good, and so few in number that I considered the possibility that they were fake. If they were fake, they were at least correct in this case.

Yelp might review Hotels, they do review places that are not restaurants, but I certainly have never looked at those reviews other than as indication that I didn’t hit the restaurants filter button yet. Although, certainly restaurant menu prices are a lot more sticky than nightly hotel rates, there is no reason this tactic could not be attempted with restaurants. The real question raised by this comic, however, is if the erroneous signal sent by enough people operating in dick mode could be enough to cause the place to close, negating the benefit received by the dicks. There isn’t an answer to that yet, but I came across an academic paper today where “in ongoing work, [the author is] estimating the relationship between Yelp and exit decisions” of restaurants. Such information is crucial to answer the question of if the dicks are going to end up screwing themselves.

“Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of” by Michael Luca of Harvard Bushiness School, actually finds that there is a correlation between the average Yelp review and restaurant revenue from 2003 to 2009 in Seattle. Actually, “A one-star increase [on Yelp] is associated with a 5.4% increase in revenue.” Yelp was introduced in 2005, so his data set can provide details about the impact of Yelp as it grew to become the dominant resource that it is today. He uses a couple randomization techniques allowed by the way the data is collected and presented to control for correlations between average Yelp review and other factors that may increase restaurant revenues, like having better food, to bolster his argument to the level of causation. The statistics are over my head, but it the theory seems solid, and certainly a lot of his assumptions ring true to my use of Yelp.

The paper brings up another interesting point that rings especially true. It finds that while overall, Yelp reviews correlate with revenues, that “chains already have relatively little uncertainty about quality, their demand does not respond to consumer reviews.” That is, reviews don’t matter for chains, maybe people don’t even read them. I said I was raised going out to eat. I was a picky eater and only child so going somewhere I would not fight about was probably my parent’s primary concern. That means that I was raised eating at chain restaurants, most notably Olive Garden. I believe that from when I turned five until I went to college I was at an Olive Garden at least once a month. If you include college, it might have to grow to once every three months. I still love Olive Garden thanks to all that conditioning, and when I go home to Ohio, I think I eat there within the first 36 hours, without fail. I have not once read a yelp review about the Olive Garden.

My dinner group essentially bans chain restaurants, with a couple of minor exceptions. That is likely one of a number of cultural reasons why, since moving to Boston, I’ve broken my Olive Garden streak. However, apart of my pilgrimage to Olive Garden upon setting foot in the state of Ohio, I seek out independent restaurants there as well. The paper also finds this is a trend much larger than my group. Specifically “chains experienced a decline in revenue relative to independent restaurants in the post-Yelp period.” Since ratings don’t matter for chain restaurants, but they do provide useful information on independent restaurants, there is a pretty good rational “that increased information about independent restaurants leads to a higher expected utility conditional on going to an independent, restaurant. Hence Yelp should … increase the value of going to an independent restaurant relative to a chain.”

With the power that Yelp has amassed of the past 6 years, comes skepticism, the specter of fake reviews, which I feared, and also the specter of intentionally false reviews as evidenced by xkcd. There is still another aspect of power that people take issue with, corruption or extortion of independent restaurants. Clearly, with the power to increase revenues drastically with a small shift in rating, there is an opportunity for yelp to offer to artificially increase rating at a cost to the restaurant, or extort from them with a threat of a lower rating. Enter this Davis Square Livejournal post:

I went to Paddock Pizza in Somerville on Sunday (not usually open Sundays, but there was an event) and I loved the pizza (plain). When I told one of the owners, she said she enjoyed it, too, but the first pizza chef, no longer there, got some bad reviews on Yelp and asked if I might be willing to put in a good one. I would in theory, but I’m not always much with the food review writing. Since I like their pizza and want them to stick around and keep serving it, I am willing to take someone who likes writing such things. (Their pizza is also pretty inexpensive, more so from 4 to 6pm (early bird specials), though they are only open Wed-Sat, 4-10pm). Message me if you are interested and are flexible-ish time-wise.

The text presented has been edited since my original reading. It originally included a line about “detesting” yelp, which was responded to in the comments, and caused a thread about Yelp’s abuse of its power, or at least perceptions of abuse, as no actual abuse has been proven. Here we have a restaurant which is aware of the power of Yelp to affect their bottom line, asking a patron who has expressed a positive experience to help them increase their rating. It seems the restaurant is acting fair in this transaction, they aren’t faking a review, they are merely attempting to turn a positive dining experience they provided into a positive review. Unfortunately for them, their pizza loving patron is not a writer it seems and is unwilling to jump through the hoops to become one because of perceived, unnamed abuses by Yelp. However, the crux of the post is that he is looking to hire someone to write a good review for this place for the price of dinner, presumably half a pizza. That must be some damn good pizza, maybe I should go check the Yelp reviews though. Every review since 2008, when the first review appeared has been >= 3 stars, arriving at a current rating of 3.5/5 stars. True, recent rating seem higher, but haven’t caused a upward trend in the overall rating yet. Verdict? Well no one has picked anywhere for Wednesday yet.

Heat Wave

July 19th, 2011

Tomorrow, the official high temperature is expected to be 89 degrees, but temperatures could easily climb above that, said Rebecca Gould, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Regardless of how hot it gets, meteorologists are confident that temperatures will be in the 90s for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, meaning the region will meet the definition of a heat wave, which is three consecutive days with temperatures in the 90s.

So this is officially what qualifies as a heat wave in Boston, this was news to me. Does this mean I am allowed to complain about it being 89 when the rest of the country is complaining about it being 100? I think it does. No wonder I love it here. Maybe I won’t have to wear long pants to the July beach fire this year.

May 30th, 2011

A while back, my college room mate Chris informed me that in June of 2011 his registration and hosting of, the longtime home of my blog would lapse, and that he would not renew the domain. I pretty much could not complain, after all, 3+ years of free hosting is a pretty good deal. But here it is, June all of a sudden and I had to move. I’ve moved in with another good friend of mine, who already had some space lying around. Although, this time I am paying my fair share, whatever that amounts to. Much thanks to Sparky.

The move also caused me to get on the ball and finally lock up the domain name, which I have desired since 2002, but didn’t register until today. By my count, waiting these 9 years while allowing anyone and everyone else in the world ample opportunity to snap up my desired host name has saved me $89.55. I’m not sure if that was worth the risk, but whatever, I like to live dangerously. Anyways, be sure to update your links, bookmarks, rss feeds, ect…

2011 Boston Marathon

April 18th, 2011

This year, I finally used the Boston Marathon as more than a thinly vialed excuse for my employer to give me a day off of work in April! And really, that isn’t so much an action on my part; this year I biked the entire Boston Marathon route. On Marathon Monday no less, albeit, at midnight. My room mate Ben and I managed to goad each other into doing it without so much as return trip from work (11 mile) warm up. I am so sore, but it was a good introduction to exercise season and a little awesome. We were joined by my friends Jed and Ed, a handful of their friends and ~240 others on a trip organized by Boston The Societies of Spontaneity.

Ben and I did give our bikes a test ride earlier in the day. Ben discovered that this bike had only one working gear because the chain wouldn’t transition between sprockets in either the front or the back. I discovered the cause of the known slow leak in my front tire when I put it up to 100psi and it became a much less slow leak. I was able to replace my tube with one my room mate Andreas had around, and Ben was able to borrow a working bike from his Dad. We also managed to cobble together a headlight and taillight for both of us. My bike has a pedal powered light, but I knew I would be in no shape to pedal up heartbreak hill while also lighting the way. Thanks to Andreas, I didn’t have to; he donated a used taillight and brand new headlight to me!

Ben and I set off at 8:30pm to Harvard Square and then took the T to South Station where we meet up with the group at took the 11pm commuter rail to the Southborough stop, which is 3.1 miles from the start of the Marathon. We did spend a whole lot of time at South Station; we arrived there at 9 (as directed) but that was a crazy early direction. The train was to board at 10:15, a special early boarding to accommodate all of us with our bikes, but it didn’t board till 10:40; still it left on time. It took the train an hour+ to get out there because, as the last train of the night, it must make every stop. Strangely when at Southborough the train stopped twice, once for “normal” passengers, and once for the bikes, despite that the platform was plenty long enough. I passed the time playing Spot It (a card game) and Androminion (Dominion for Andrioid).

The first 3.1 miles consisted of a dreadful uphill, followed by a nice downhill, then an even more dreadful uphill. The road was alight with blinking taillights for more than a mile as the hill separated the serious riders from us, but there was mostly a continuous group. Since the second of these hills was not on the route itself, and everyone was waiting at the starting line, I conserved my energy and walked up most of it. I was glad to be set for a net downhill the rest of the way.

On Monday April 18th at 12:47:27am 2011 Ben tweeted that we’d started the Marathon. Then we ended up near the back of the pack because he had to put his phone away. The Marathon starts with a huge downhill. The roads were not closed, but the range of speeds and the need for space was so great that the bikes took up all of both lanes of the road. Luckily the roads were pretty deserted at midnight so that was not a problem. On the downhill Ben and I caught up to Jed and his group, whom had already lost our friend Ed in the crowd. Through this period we were in a group that had fallen behind by maybe .1 miles, but consisted of at least 30+ people; to the point where the direction of travel lane was usually full. We stuck with Jed past Tony’s house, which is 3.5 miles into the Marathon route. Tony is an occasional Wednesday Night Dinner friend, who attends all of the white water rafting and camping trips I write about and lives in the Suburbs.

At the 4 mile mark, my pedals locked up and I had to stop. Ben stopped with me, but Jed continued on. My chain had jumped off the back cassette, from the smallest sprocket to the axle. This was a quick fix to make, but I did have to turn the bike upside down, and we ended up well behind. From this point on we were never in a group of more than 10 riders. We really pushed to catch up, but it was futile. We stopped trying when we caught up to Ed before the 6.5 mile mark. While not pushing ourselves, we eventually pulled away from him before the 8.5 mile mark. We stopped for a water break at about the 9.5 mile mark. At this point Ed passed us without knowing; there was not a lot of light.

We were mostly alone through Natick, but caught up with a girl wearing red and biking alone with a radio blaring about the 12.5 mile mark. As you can see from the above chart, this period contains a sustained, but not very steep up hill. This took a lot out of me, maybe I was not in the proper gear, but Ben pulled away from me for a significant period of time, but never out of site, maybe 50 yards at most. For the rest of the race this was the case, Ben would always pull ahead of me on the uphills, and I would eventually catch him on the way down because I was on a much faster road bike and he was on a mountain bike.

Also about the 12.5 mile mark, what sounded like 15 trucks blew past us. In fact it was a commuter rail train blew past us heading back into Boston. She swore her friend, who had stopped back some ways must be on that train. The girl’s friend, however, managed to catch back up with us by the time we got to Wellesley Square. She had stopped for a smoke. It was at this point, the half way point (13.3 miles) that we realized we were not in very good shape. We lost the girls, but we pushed on until the 15.5 mile marker, at which point we took advantage one of the many porta-pottys that were setup as the primary means of marking the route for us. The secondary means were no parking signs, and the tertiary means was street cleaners or evidence of them.

Shortly after that break we crossed route 128 at the 16.5 mile marker. Then came our first real turn at 17.5 miles onto Commonwealth Ave, and as you can see in the elevation chart, a precursor to heartbreak hill (mile 20-21). We saw some other bikers on the hill and soon as we turned the corner, but they were much further away than appeared because the hill really hit us hard. We did make it up that one by pushing hard, but the downhill was not nearly enough to recuperate. About 1/3 of the way up hearbreak hill, at 19 miles in we caught up with Ed, who was walking his bike up the sidewalk. I craned my neck out and said “Ed?” to which he responded, “yes… do you guys have any power bars? I’m just out of energy.” Ben gave him a power bar and we took a much needed power/granola bar break.

After the restbiet, the hill was much more forgiving, and Ed got back on his bike with us. Sadly, Ed and I didn’t make it up the rest of the hill on our bikes. We gave in at 19.7 miles and walked .3 miles until we meet up with Ben, who had made it all the way to the 20 mile marker. To be sure, there were not any actual mile markers on the route. I am spotting all of these markers from memory with the aid of Google Maps. We had no real sense of how far we had gone. This was not the top of the hill, but from here we biked the rest of the way.

Cresting the hill at 21 miles I saw an immense Gothic church, which Ben informed me was Boston College. I’d never actually been to BC before, but I knew that meant we were close. From here on in landmarks occurred quite quickly and egged us on:

  • 21.5 miles: First sighting of a Green B Line T Stop.
  • 22.5 miles: Cleveland Circle, the C line, and Beacon St
  • 23.2 miles: Washington Sqaure and excellent, but close bar, the Publik House
  • 24.0 miles: Coolidge Corner, the first place on the route I would say that I frequent.
  • 25.0 miles: The Mass. Turnpike bridge, first sighting of the Citgo Sign and Fenway Park.
  • 25.5 miles: Kenmore Square!
  • 25.7 miles: Mass. Ave!
  • 26.0 miles: Final turn on to Boylston St.!!
  • 26.2 miles: Finish line!!!

I crossed the line first in our group of three, having pulled away at the last turn and pushed into my highest gear, which I had only used during the previous but failed push to catch up to Jed. I remember crossing just after 3am, something like 3:05 or so. I know we were well finished by Monday April 18th at 03:17:30am 2011when Ben tweeted that we were with the Boston Marathon! So by the official tweeted times we took 2:26 hours to finish the route on our bikes, which is an average speed of 10.7 mph. I know that when I ride home from work, which include no significant hills I usually hit between 11 and 12 miles per hour, so this is about what I expected the rate to be given the hills and the endurance issue. But like I said, I think the end time is ~10 minutes late, so its more like 2:16 and 11.5 mph, which is surprisingly better than expected. Of course, a non-official world record time of ~2:02 was set today on the same course, with the same tailwind by a non-bike-aided individual. It doesn’t feel that great to be slower on a bike than someone running, but it is still the most significant athletic accomplishment I’ve made since I stopped running cross country in high school (where my longest run was ~8 miles).

Those of you who checked my twitter feed know I took at spill at Cleveland Circle. I fell when my front tire got locked into a trolley rail in the road between the B and C lines in the middle of the intersection. It would have been a really bad place to crash at rush hour. I was simply not paying attention to the hazard and attempted to cross the rail at a ~15deg (very shallow angle) and as such, I was thrown off to the left side. I landed mostly on my left hip, at least that is the only thing that still hurts. I manage a skin deep scrape on my left fore arm just above my elbow and a deeper scrape below my left knee. I was, of course, wearing a helmet, but my head did not hit the ground at all. I immediately yelled that I was ok, got up, and picked up the bike, which was also in good shape. I walked my way over to an Island in the intersection and checked my scrapes for severity. Finding them to not be too bad, I continued on.

Of course, Copley square is 4.4 miles from my house, and it is ~3:30am by the time we were ready to leave Copley, so the T is not running. We have bikes too, so cab’s are out of the question. This ride, most of which I have done with some regularity was hard. For one, it was into the wind. We had befitted the whole ride from a strong tail wind, and now we had to fight it across the Harvard Bridge. By central square I was seriously considering either taking a break in the CVS (the only thing open) or locking my bike up and taking a cab home, but we didn’t. Near Harvard we almost ran over a drunk guy. Pushing up the ever so slight hill from Harvard, I eventually just had to take a break .2 miles from my house, but I finished strong once on my street. We arrived home to find Andreas taking a slight catnap from packing for his return to Canada. I had some water, Pineapple slices, Resse’s easter eggs, cuscus, and managed to crawl up the stairs and into bed by 4:30am.