Archive for November, 2007


24hrs in the Old Pueblo is in jeopardy

Nov 29, 2007 by Steve Belt in Mountain Bike

After going over the race with Robert, and to some extent Chris, we’ve found a stumbling block:  lights.  The type of light needed to compete in a 24 hr event has some fairly specific requirements.  First, it needs to burn for 3 hrs on a charge.  If it doesn’t burn for 3 hrs (say, only 2 hrs), there’s a good chance you’ll be finishing a lap in the dark.  Even if you can pull off 90 minute laps in the dark (which I should be able to do), you’re still risking riding without light if you have a mechanical during the lap.

The next thing to overcome is recharging the light battery.  If you can’t recharge your battery before your next lap, then that too is a problem. 

For 24 hr racing, I have 2 lights.  A bar light and a helmet light.  The bar light that I have is from Light & Motion.  The current cost for one is $450.  Run time is 3.5 hrs, and the battery will recharge the battery in 2 hrs.  It’s a really good light, and even on the fastest section I don’t ride faster than the throw of the light.  The helmet light I have was about half that cost, barely burns for 2 hrs, and the beam is short enough that on fast sections I outrun the light.  Having both is truly a luxury, as each light is good at lighting up different things.  All of my batteries are now 4 or 5 years old, and I need to see if they still perform like they did when new.  I could be needing some $200 batteries to use what I have now.

My L&M light works out perfectly for someone on a 4 person team in a 24 hr race.  You’d only need 1 battery and L&M has a recharge station at the venue, so you don’t even need to have a generator to recharge your lights.

For $125 you can get a light that burns for 2 hrs, but needs 14 hrs to recharge the battery.  That’s brutal.  It’s also risky if you have a mechanical, or if you are needing close to 2 hrs to spin a lap in the dark (which wouldn’t surprise me, given he limited night riding experience on the team).

Basically, the snag is the cost of these lights, given that Chris and Robert don’t see themselves using them other than this one race.  We aren’t registered for the event, but if we don’t figure out a more cost effective solution, it looks like we may not be registering…

Quick update: broken Canon camera

Nov 20, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging, General

Just a quick update on my broken camera.  Canon confirmed receipt of the camera at their repair facility today.  Also, Jefferson Graham from USA Today contacted me yesterday to discuss my broken camera.  He said he personally had 3 Canon cameras fail, and wanted to know more about mine and my experience.  I let him know that it was about 45 days old, and I had returned it to Canon’s repair center. 

He then let me know that he had spoken with Canon directly about it, and that Canon does not advise people to put these cameras in their pocket, but instead to store them in a case.  Ugh.  I bought the camera to put in my pocket and to have it handy everywhere I go.  I want a camera I can put in a jersey pocket on my bike, in a backpack, or in a pocket while I’m roaming around the city/on vacation, so that I always have a camera handy.  If I can’t count on this new Canon camera to be that camera for me, I’m going to be quite disappointed. 

My old Canon G3 has been through a number of bumps and bruises and has always worked.  It’s just too bulky to stick in a pocket.  I wanted the SD870is to do everything the G3 could do, but in a smaller package.  Hopefully I’ve been unlucky and it’ll work like I want, and not like Jefferson Graham from USA Today expects.

Finished the El Tour de Tucson

Nov 19, 2007 by Steve Belt in Cycling

El Tour de TucsonOn Saturday I rode the 109-mile El Tour de Tucson on my road bike.  This is a major event, which this year drew over 9150 riders, including Greg Lemond (whom I passed during the second river crossing 8-). 

Leading up to the event, I had been mostly riding with Chris Z doing 50ish mile road rides.  Since my training rides were a bit short, I wasn’t sure what to expect from myself in this event.  The 52 miles I did at Show Low in October on my mountain bike was more comparable to this ride, but I really should have done at least one 75 mile ride in preparation.

Going in to the ride, I had set as a goal the same time I had done in Show Low:  6 hours 45 mins.  I figured I’d ride at around 18 mph, taking 3 or 4 breaks, and thus 6:45 seemed a reasonable goal.  Since I was there with Chis Z, I wasn’t totally sure if I was going to ride with him the whole time, or if we would seperate.  But 9 minutes into the event, I threw caution to the wind, caught on the wheel of a group that had just passed us, and pretty soon was humming along at 20+ mph, a good bit faster than I expected to be able to sustain.  Before the first river crossing, which was at mile 8, I had left Chris well behind, and was completely on my own.

This event is unique for a road bike race, in that it has 2 river crossings where you have to walk your bike across.  Actually, I carried my bike across, because I didn’t want to get a flat tire as a result of it being in the desert sand.  The first river crossing, which was the shorter one, took ~8 minutes to walk across.  The second crossing, took ~9 minutes, and allowed for a bit faster walking, since it was around mile 47, and riders had spread out much more.

All was going far better than I expected until 3 hours 20 mins in, when I had fallen a bit off the pace of a group I had been riding with.  They were just going so fast, and I was starting to fatigue so I slowed a tad, and was riding along side another rider.  That’s when I flatted.  It was mile 67.  About the time I had the new tube in the tire a bike patrol guy came by and asked if I was ok.  I said “yep”, and he continued on.  30 seconds later I realized I wasn’t ok, as I didn’t have any CO2 cartridges to blow my tire up with.  Suddenly I was stuck.  I sat there for 12 lonely minutes waiting for the next bike patrol guy to come by and save my sorry butt.  About 1 minute before we had it fixed, Chris rolled past.  Turns out I had built a 17 minute lead on him.

With the tire fixed, I headed to the very next SAG station, needing water, as my bottles had been empty for the last 10 miles or so.  After this stop, I noticed that the riders I was now riding with had changed.  Falling back just enough where I noticed the typical rider wasn’t going as fast as I wanted to go.  I was finding it difficult to “group up” and find a pace line that was travelling at the right speed.

Eventually, a bike patrol lady and a 67 mile rider (he was signed up to ride 67 miles, and thus started 42 miles closer to the finish than I did.) passed me.  Being fresher, they were riding at just the speed I was looking for.  Eventually our little group became 8 or 10 riders, and we moved along at a nice clip.  Of particular fun was a slight downhill stretch where we averaged over 25mph for 10 miles.  I must say, it was perhaps the funnest 10 miles of road riding in my life.  Being the rider with the most miles, I let them set the pace initially, but when 4 of the leaders had all taken a turn, and all seemed a bit tired, I finally took my turn.  We had been doing 27 mph, and I kicked it up to 29 mph, pulling hard for 3 strong miles, which was a real blast.  I wasn’t sure if the group was going to be able to keep up, but sure enough, our core group was right there behind me the whole way.  I think everyone enjoyed the opportunity to go that fast.  I know at my size and weight, I have an advantage in these circumstances, but I pushed my heart rate up over 160 bpm, which was amazing for me to phathom some 84 miles into the ride.

A few miles later, there was a crash a short way ahead of our group, and the bike patrol lady had to stop and offer assistance.  It was really too bad, because it tore our whole group apart.  For the last 20 miles or so, I would essentially ride alone, catching a wheel here and there, but rarely hooking up with any group for even a mile before a SAG stop or something caused it to bust apart. 

At mile 103, just 6 miles from the finish, my rear tire flatted again.  I knew I was riding on low pressure, but I was so close to the finish I didn’t want to stop.  Plus I didn’t have a pump.  Unfortunately, I hit a pot hole and pinch flatted.  Fortunately, the guy riding right behind me asked if I was ok, and then stayed to offer help when I said I had no air.  He said he was tired and needed to stop anyway…just 6 miles from the end!  The second flat took under 4 minutes to repair, but once again, Chris rolled past me while I was broken down.

In the end I finished with a measured time of 6 hours 20 minutes.  My event official time was 6 hours 24 minutes, because it’s not a race, and they only measure when you cross the finish, not when you cross the start.  It took 4 minutes for me to cross the start, with so many riders.  I’m really happy with the result.  Having expected to take close to 7 hours, and then being able to ride at a sub 6 hour pace was certainly beyond my expectations.  In the future, I’ll be better prepared, and next year, it will be my goal to finish in under 6 hours.

Registered for El Tour de Tuscon

Nov 12, 2007 by Steve Belt in Cycling

After a month of waffling over whether or not I was going to ride in this event, today I finally signed up.  The 25th annual El Tour de Tuscon is this Saturday, November 17th.  I’ve chosen the “I must be crazy” distance of 109 miles on a road bike.  That will be by far the longest road ride I’ve ever done.  We’ve been doing 50 mile rides every weekend for 2 months now, without much trouble.  Of course, there is indeed a big difference between 50 miles and 100+ miles.  About twice as much.

I’m optimistic I’ll finish somewhere between 6 & 7 hrs time, but I have no true basis for that optimism, having never come close to riding this kind of distance.

There are expected to be between 10,000 and 11,000 people riding in the event, although not all of them will be doing the 109 mile length.  Many will do shorter distances, but you figure somewhere around 40% of the people will do the 109 miler.

My new blogging camera is broken

Nov 03, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging

Ok, this is a bit of a rant, so my apologies up front.  But a month or so back I bought a new Canon SD870is Digital Elph to use as my general all-around blogging camera.  I wanted something that was small enough to put in my pocket almost every where I went, but with the best quality of photo I could get for the size.  The 870 is a bit bigger than my Razr, but not much, so the size was right, and with the image stabilization, it really takes some great photos.

So yesterday, when I whipped it out to find it wasn’t working, dang I was bummed.  The camera won’t focus at all in the wider angles, about 3/4 of the way through the zoom you can make out a camera phone quality fuzzy image, but any further zooming and again, there’s non focus.  Some thing is jammed in the focusing motor, and all the messing with it and banging of it I’ve done hasn’t helped.  So I’m going to have to send it back, and endure the hassle of dealing with an online retailer’s customer service.  Ugh.

Anyway, until it broke (inexplicably I might add…I don’t recall dropping it since I last used it on Halloween), I did like the camera, and I expect it’s replacement to do well for its intended purpose.

Today I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal

Nov 01, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging, Real Estate

Today was an amazing day.  My real estate blog received some tremendous reactions over an article I wrote about Trulia Voices.  The CEO of Trulia stopped by and commented later that day.  Today, I wrote another article about Trulia Voices, and got another visit from the CEO of Trulia.  And all of the hits on the blog caused it to really skyrocket in the stats category, which I couldn’t be happier about.

While that fun was taking place, I had coffee at Starbucks with an agent that’s agreed to office at my satellite.  That’s really good news, as we need more agents, especially since I let one go, while at the same time a client that was renting half of my office space moved out when he found a commercial lease that worked for him.  So the office has been a bit quiet the last couple of weeks.

And then back at the office, In my inbox, a client prospect sent me an email requesting to look at homes to buy on November 5th and 5th.

So when Shelly from the Wall Street Journal called today, as the big “capper” you can’t imagine my elation.  She led out by saying that she’d seen what I had written on my blog, and the reaction from Pete Flint, the CEO of Trulia, and wanted to ask some more follow-up questions.  I’m not sure our discussion added much to her story, but I did stress an important point: 

When the content at Trulia becomes consistently high quality, I’ll want to be a part of it.

The low quality of the content is my beef with it today, and it looks like the folks at Trulia listened and are planning to do something about it next week.  Kudos to them.

But back to the cool factor…I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.  Sheesh, how cool was that?  Jan remarked that I haven’t attended any media training.  She’s wondering if I made ”the company” look bad.   If so, oh well.  Most likely is I botched it up enough that the Journal never references me in whatever article they are planning to run (Shelly said it was something about Web 2.0).

Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, here at My Side Door, I’ll probably always post in flurries.  That’s another reason to subscribe.  If you don’t have a feed reader, Google has a good one.  Then you don’t need to ping the site to find out if I’ve posted, your feed reader will alert you automagically.

Happy Belated Halloween.

Quick update on Le Tour De Touscon

Nov 01, 2007 by Steve Belt in Cycling

We went to Jeff & Denise’s annual halloween party yesterday, which is always a treat.  I know Jeff’s favorite holiday is halloween, and it really shows with the celebration event they throw.  Tomorrow, I promise to post some pics of the girls in costume, and even some a few from our Disneyland vacation 2 weeks ago.

At any rate, I was talking with Jeff’s mom who mentioned she was planning to house sit for Jeff’s grandmother in Tuscon next week, when it dawned on me…Jeff has family in Tuscon.  Hmmm, this might be a nice way of getting some accomodations for the race.  I mentioned this to Jeff, who’s thinking about entering the race.  He’ll probably decide over the weekend, and basically if I have a place to stay, I’ll be in as well.  Otherwise, I’ll sit this one out.

Phoenix Area Real Estate Blog gets a new URL

Nov 01, 2007 by Steve Belt in Blogging, Real Estate

I wrote about a new domain name for the Phoenix Area Real Estate blog a while back, but unfortunately, the name I was hoping to get at the time was renewed for 2 years by the current owner, just days before it was set to expire.  It’s unfortunate, because there isn’t a website using the domain name, which has been the case for the last 10 years.  You’d think by now the owner would have done something with it.  Bah…no sense crying over spoiled milk.

At any rate, I did a quick survey with 8 choices, and the domain name was definitely the crowd favorite.  Not everyone’s #1 choice, but in almost everyone’s top 3.  So that name won, and today I renamed the real estate blog.  Google hates the new blog now, but that’s ok.  In less than a month Google will be stopping by once a day or so again, and in 3 months Google will be back to the multiple visits per day I’ve grown to enjoy.  In less than 3 months, the blog earned a page rank of 4, which is phenominal.  I hope I can get back to taht level a bit quicker, especially because I know some of the tricks that got me there.  Well, not tricks really, just things to do right.