Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Cooperative Road Thong Network

Sherlock Holmes had his "Baker Street Irregulars," and now I have the Cooperative Road Thong Network to complement my own investigations.

The Team:
(out of respect for the participants, no last names without permission)
  • Mark Anderson
  • Carolyn Barkley
  • Ernie B.
  • Cary B.
  • Andy C. (x2)
  • Shawn D.
  • Adam E.
  • Harry Fang (x2)
  • Sydney F. (x2)
  • Christine F.
  • Claudia G-M (x2)
  • Elizabeth H.
  • Peter L.
  • Jana P (x2)
  • Jeff T.
  • John V. (x2)
  • Katherine L.
  • Lauren P. (x2) 
  • Mike S. (x2)
  • Mark I.
  • Molly P.
  • Stacy B.
  • Tom S.
  • Teresa R. and Rick M. 
  • Tsahai T.
  • Brian Thompson (x2)

The Collection:

2017-10-02 from Ernie B. Flagstaff Az during a pee-stop on a mountain bike tour. 

2017-09-11 from Sydney F, Bloomsburg, PA

2017-08-05 from Molly P. At Scott's Run Nature Park, Loudoun, VA

2017-06-25 from Stacy B Target @ Rio, Gaithersburg, MD 39.118, -77.202 (submitted 2017-07-11)

2017-07-04 From Katherine L. Quebec City, Canada.

2017-06-01 from Mark I at Fort Washington Park:    38.711054, -77.029593

2017-05-29 Roy Rd Sandia Puebla NM from John V.

2017-02-19 From Andy C. Clifton Inn  Charlottesville Va

2017-02-08 From Teresa R and Rick M. Waikoko Beach, Hawaii

From Sydney F. 2017-02-07 Bloomsburg U Lycoming Hall 3rd Floor.

2016-09-15. From Mike S.
Eastview building, corner of N Randolph and Fairfax Drive, 8th floor.  

2016-07-12 Thomas S on Riffle Ford Rd, near the sewage treatment plant. SO Brand

2016-06-01 From Adam E on the W&OD bike path near the East Falls Church Metro.

2016-05-22 from Cary B, Pittsburgh, PA

2016-05-27 From Claudia G-M. On the trail near the Kennedy Center.

2016-05-20 From John V  8th and Gold, Albuquerque, NM

2016-03-24 from Mike S. On the Mt Vernon trail just south of Crystal City intersection.

2016-03-22 from Andy C. corner of South Wakefield and 28th Rd South in Arlington. Stick came attached. Apparently no poking

 2016-03-08 From Claudia G-M on the Capital Crescent Trail

A "meta sighting" from Christine F. On US 211 going west up to Thornton Gap. Thanks for stopping!

 From Harry Fang (submission #2) on Buffalo Mountain, VA 

From Carolyn Barkley, on Rt 11 between markers 46 and 47  in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park near the trailhead for "The Great Crack"  2015-12-21. Joe Boxer brand

2015-11-06 courtesy of Mark Anderson, from his yard in Fort Collins, Co.

2015-10-22 at Upton Hill Regional Park, courtesy of Peter Lindeman.

2015-08-27 from Shawn D--the first husband/wife independent submission. Size L7, Herring Run Park, Baltimore, Md.

2015-07-19 from Elizabeth H on her first ride back after surgery. Ednor Gardens, Baltimore, Md. 

2015-05-14 from Harry Fang at 3302 Jones Bridge Road, Chevy Chase, MD 20815.

2015-April: A dual sighting in early April 2015 from Brian Thompson on Rt 17C 3 miles west of Endicott, NY

2014-04-11 from Lauren P at Virginia Square Metro 7:30AM. Definitely from the "Walk of Shame."

2015-04-04 from Lauren P, in Arlington, VA

2014-09-26 Never used! Kind of a Minnie Pearl version. Seen in Washington DC. Contributed by Tsahai.
2014-08-06 From Jeff T. Spotted on the banks of the Charles River, in Boston, Mass.
2014-06-24 from Bath, England. contributed by Jana P
2014-04-20. Somewhere in Rockville, Md. Contributed by Jana P

Monday, October 13, 2014

Year-end Analysis of Racing in the MidAtlantic Bicycle Racing Association


I have a much nicer PDF of this analysis--ask for it in the comments section. And it has all the notes

1 Introduction

This report attempts to summarize the attendance trends over the past nine years of racing in the Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association–MABRA. I hope it is a useful resource for both racers and promoters. In drawing conclusions from these tables and graphs, you should be aware that the data sets are small, and that hidden variables almost certainly influence the trends. However, I believe that some data is better than
no data at all. I am always looking for ways to improve this document, and I consider all suggestions.
As always, this report is an incremental modification to the report of previous years. To keep the main body of the report to a manageable and readable length, the supporting information appears as a collection of endnotes that follows the last section.( just ask for the PDF version if you want this)

2 What is MABRA?

MABRA, the Mid Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association, is an association of event-promoting clubs, based loosely around the Washington, DC-Baltimore, Md area. The map in Figure 1 shows the traditional geographic outline of MABRA, and the approximate locations of its member clubs in late 2014. The diameter of the circle is proportional to the number of USAC-licensed members in the club. (see note 1)  
Figure 1: Map of the traditional geographic boundaries of MABRA. Circle position indicates the location of a member club in 2014. Circle diameter is proportional to the number of members.

Most clubs have many members who are unlicensed. In addition, most clubs have many members, mostly Category 5, who are listed as “unattached” but who have actually joined the club. Figure 2 shows a zip-code-by-zip-code map of MABRA in which the size and color of the plotted point indicate the number of licenses in that zip code. The ten most populated zip codes in MABRA are all in DC or the counties that border DC. For the US as a whole, 7 of the top 10 zip codes are Boulder or its surrounding towns. 

Figure 2 shows a zip-code-by-zip-code map of MABRA in which the size and
color of the plotted point indicate the number of licenses in that zip code. 
Figure 2: Zip-code map of MABRA racer residences. Color is proportional to the number of licensed racers in the zip code. Size of spot increases with increasing numbers. Zip codes with no licensed racers are show as gray dots.
Add caption

3 Demographics

Figure 3 plots the demographic data by age broken out by gender and racing category
for all MABRA riders in 2014. Figure 4 slices puts the data of Figure 3 into separate
panels by category.
Figure 3 Distribution of age of MABRA racers by gender and category.
Figure 4 Distribution of age of MABRA races by category and gender.

Figure 5 compares the age distribution of all USCF-licensed riders in 1989, (note 2) and
2005 to 2014. 3 In the 25 years since 1989, the median rider age has increased 14 years,
from 27 to 41 (computed for men, though Figure 5 shows both genders). Note also the asymmetry of the 1989 distribution towards a larger fraction of young riders is much larger than the corresponding asymmetry in 2005. Note also that from 2005 to 2014 the distribution broadens both to younger and
to older ages. In 2014, a significant hump appears for racers less than 20 years old. 

Historical USACycling membership demographics

Figure 6 shows that the median age of licensed racers, except for category 5 has steadily increased since 2005. Interestingly, the median Category 5 age is basically constant. MABRA is not adding younger racers. Note also that the median age for women is basically unchanging. 

Figure 6. Historical median racing age by category and gender. 

4 Historical USAC and MABRA data

Figure 7 plots historical data on USACycling membership through the years, as well as some formative events in American cycling history. (note 4) USCF membership skyrocketed during the 1980s before reaching a plateau in 1990 and then declining. It was not until 2005 that membership exceeded the 1992 peak. What caused the plateau? Why is membership increasing again after 2003? It’s hard not to argue that it’s the “Lance Armstrong effect.” But then, why does the membership continue to grow even after all the doping revelations of the past several years?

Figure 7. Historical USACycling membership data. 

 Figure 8 plots the analogous data for total MABRA memberships. After three years of stagnant growth, membership increased again in 2014.
Figure 8 Historical MABRA membership data.

Race Attendance–Who is actually racing?

Figure 9 shows the fraction of of the total number of races entered by everyone who competed in a MABRA or Virginia race I was able to locate.5 This data set includes every racer with an address in MABRA, and every racer, regardless of address, who appears in a result from 2013. Note that licensed racers who competed in zero, one, or two races comprise more than half of the total.
Figure 9 Histogram of the fraction (as percent) of races in MABRA/VA entered by each licensed racer

Figure 10 is a similar histogram but that only considers MABRA racers (i.e. licensed racers whose address is in the geographic boundaries of MABRA). Here, more than one quarter of all racers do not appear in any results. And half of the licenses racers competed in two or fewer events in 2013.

Histogram of the fraction (as percent) of of races in MABRA entered by each licensed MABRA racer.

Figure 11 takes that data and plots it as a cumulative distribution beginning with the racer, regardless of address, with the most races in 2013.6 The most interesting conclusion is that 10 % of licensed racers account for 40 % of the attendance. This result confirms the anecdotal evidence that you see the same people at races every week.

Figure 11. Cumulative distribution of race attendance. (Results do not reach unity because unknown licenses are not considered.)


forgot it--ask for the PDF version.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New England Museum road trip


I built this ten-day vacation around a single bicycle race, the Vermont Overland Grand Prix. After that it was driving, museums, and old friends for eight more days. 


Saturday: Driving, bridges, Killington

I was not excited about the 500 mile mostly I-95 and NYS Throughway drive up to the lodge I had booked at the Killington ski area, and knew that I would need something to break the drive up. The Walkway over the Hudson worked nicely. The foresight of the people who turned an abandoned railway bridge over the Hudson into a pedestrian destination is truly incredible. 
The cantilever bridge, built in 1886 and abandoned after fire in the early 1970s, reopened as a pedestrian walkway in 2009. It's over a mile long and 200 feet above the river. 

Sandra on the Walkway. In the background is the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which I rode across thirty one years earlier on my bike trip from Ithaca to Poughkeepsie.
In 1983 I rode from Ithaca to Poughkeepsie to visit my then-girlfriend at her home. The trip was at the peak of my "planning is an admission of failure" style of bicycle touring. I had no idea where I was staying, how I was going to get across the Hudson, and I didn't have a tent. I rode 110 miles the first day, never out of the bailout gear, and camped at deserted campground on the Pepacton Reservoir that was straight out of a post-apocalyptic zombie film. The caretaker was raving babbling drunk, and I was the only guest in a sea of unused pop-up campers and pull-behind trailers. The trip across the Hudson was unnerving. I navigated the pedestrian (!) walkway, which was just expanded metal grid. Terrible vertigo as I stared down at the Hudson 300 feet below my wheels. The Walkway across the Hudson would have been very helpful then... I arrived in Poughkeepsie a day earlier than expected to find her parents still on vacation. After chatting up the neighbors and letting them in on my plan I bedded down on the Laurendeau's deck. Unfortunately, they also arrived home a day early. Maria's mother got the fright of her life when she came up on the deck at 1AM, and woke me up. Luckily for me they were not armed.
Three decades later in the present, after a stroll over the Hudson we were back on the road to Killington. The Snowed Inn was a completely serviceable ski lodge. I swapped tires in the room, and prepared for racing.

Hotel: Snowed Inn, Killington Vt
Food: Neptune Diner, Newburgh, NY, It was a NY Greek diner. They had gyros. Little Harry's, Rutland, Va. A little overpriced but basically OK.

Sunday: Racing, Randolph, Montpelier

Sunday was mostly given over the Vermont Overland Grand Prix, described elsewhere. Post-race we drove up to Montpelier through Randolph, where Sandra's grandfather had grown up. We ended up at a B&B in Montpelier, just a few blocks from downtown. Of course, as the smallest state capital in the US, almost everywhere is just a few blocks from downtown.

Food:  Melaza Caribbean Bistro, Woodstock, Vt, (pretty good Cubano sandwhich)  Sarducci's Montpelier, VT (Saute'd Kale salad and garlic bread--good value. Nice open porch overhanging the Winooski River)
Lodging: Betsy's B&B. Pleasant enough, if in need of a little airing out.

Monday: Shelburne Museum and Burlington

Sandra and I had been to the Shelburne Museum in 2003, when I raced (disastrously)  the Green Mountain Stage Race in 2003.  The museum is the personal obsession of descendants of a 19th-century robber baron (Vanderbilt) and a sugar baron, who  set out to document New England Americana much in the same way that Henry Mercer built up the the Bucks County Historical Society.
The centerpiece of the museum, or perhaps its greatest oddity, is the Ticonderoga, the last paddle wheel steamship on Lake Champlain, which is now on blocks 2 miles from the lake. 

While we were there, Sandra indulged me with this picture of an authentic Vermont smokehouse. I was obsessed with smokehouses as a child. Quoting from my "Adventure book" from June 28, 1969, when we lived outside DC "We went to Sotterly on a hot day... My favorite thing outside was the smokehouse. I love smokehouses." So here I am pointing at the smokehouse 46 years later. Even though they moved it, the smell remains. mmmmmmmmm
Indulging my childhood obsession with smokehouses and smoked meats. 
Dinner was at Farmhouse Tap and Grill, a combination brewpub and locavore venue in downtown Burlington, recommended by my friend Katherine. Two thumbs up. Made me wish I lived in Burlington. 
After dinner, I left Sandra behind at the B&B and met up with Katherine, who lives basically around the corner, where I got the full story of her fall from my bathroom window while I was in Germany in 1988. It's always great to catch up with old friends. 

Food: Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Burlington, VT One too many craft beers, olive plates, bratwursts. Whew...
Lodging: Richmond Victorian Inn, Richmond Vt; Awesome neighbor cat. 

Tuesday: More Montpelier

In my panic to get all the venues scheduled, I didn't realize that the Vermont Historical Society  was actually closed on Monday, so we were back in Montpelier. The historical society is a little glitzy for my tastes--not enough artifacts in glass cases. But its presentation of Vermont history is reasonably balanced. We learned that for all his calls for liberty, Ethan Allen's motives may not have been as pure as portrayed in fourth-grade history. Turns out that he had 200,000 acres of prime Vermont land with a disputed title. It was very much in his interest to have the colonies independent to secure his clear title to that land. Nothing is ever as it was portrayed in grade school.
Sandra points at the last catamount shot in Vermont, in the 1880s..
We also toured the Vermont state house. Apparently, until the mid 1970s, Vermont had one representative for each town--around 400 of them in a state that only had 400,000 people. Howard Dean has a very casual governor's portrait in his canoe with his flannel shirt and canoe.
After Montpelier we lunched in St. Johnsbury, and then continued on to Concord, Mass. We stayed for two days at Concord's Colonial Inn, in the same room that Queen Noor used. Brush with greatness.

Food: some forgettable place in St Johnsbury on the railroad Tracks.
Lodging: Concord's Colonial Inn, Concord, Ma

Wednesday: Concord, 19th century literature, old friends

The Concord agenda was to do everything that Sandra had missed doing when she worked weekdays in Lexington and that we hadn't done on our "Shot heard round the world" visit a few years ago. That meant we were mostly off technology and on literature.
Stop 1 was the Concord Museum. Very polished, and with the most youthful and attractive docents I've ever encountered.
Sandra points at a shoe  at the Concord Museum
From there, we were off to lunch with one of Sandra's former co-workers, and then to the Louisa May Alcott house. I've never read Little Women, but I remember the names of the books from endless card games of "Authors" as a kid. The other people on the tour were so excited about it. One women kept texting her daughter.
After Louisa May Alcott we hit The Old Manse, which overlooks the bridge from "The shot heard round the world" Ralph Waldo Emerson lived there while writing "Nature" and then rented the house to Nathaniel Hawthorne (also in "Authors, the card game") and his wife. They were later evicted for not paying the rent. And, wonderful tenants that they were, the commemorated their anniversary (?) by scratching a poem into the window glass with a diamond ring. 

Lodging: Concord's Colonial Inn
Food: Concord's Colonial Inn bacon-wrapped figs and cheese, Calimari

Thursday: Lowell, Industrialism and textiles

We went off the schedule for a day, and on a whim went to the Lowell National Historical Park. Initially, I thought it would be something to do for the morning, before heading down to New Bedford, but we spent the whole day.
Lowell was apotheosis of the early American industrial revolution. Industrialists dammed the Merrimack River for the water power to run weaving mills and built canals around the falls. The technology high point for me was the Boott Mills museum, which has an operating weaving mill room, using early 20th century looms. Even though only 10 of the 100+ looms were weaving, the noise was still astounding. I can't imagine being a 12 year tending for or five loops 12 hours a day.

Sandra points at a balance at the Boott Mills Museum.
Weaving mills in operation at the Boott Mill. Only 10 of the 110 mills were running, and the noise was still deafening.
As usual, the park rangers were super-engaged and interesting. We rounded out the trip with a short ride on a trolley car, and then a trip through the locks to the Merrimack.
Lodging in New Bedford was at the  Orchard Street Manor, a bed and breakfast run by a guy who had been adviser to the Moroccan finance minister. The house was built by a whaling captain, and the current owner has assembled a big collection of memorabilia of him, family, and his ship.

Food: some kind of "Mufungo" at a Puerto Rican restaurant, then seafood casserole at Freestone's City Grill in New Bedford Delicious.
Lodging: Orchard Street Manor, New Bedford, Ma

Friday: New Bedford, Whaling, On to Cape Cod

We really short-changed the New Bedford Whaling Museum, since we only had a little more than half a day. My feelings about visiting were a little mixed. The history of whaling is abhorrent, but I love everything about Moby-Dick. Plus we visited the Drake Well last year on our 19th Century Technology Road Trip. Oil pumped from the ground spelled the beginning of the end of commercial whaling, though not, of course, of the widespread slaughter of whales. 

It's easy to think about commercial whaling as a 19th century horror, or perhaps even one that ended in the early 20th century. One glass case of artifacts dispelled that notion: cans of gun oil and "Whale Meat in Curry paste."

We rushed the museum a little to fit in a visit to the Seamen's Bethel, which is featured in Chapters 7 to 9 of Moby-Dick  (and both excellent movie versions.) And then it was off to John and Rachelle's house on Cape Cod for the weekend. 

Sandra points at "Old Nemo" a fur seal purchased from PT Barnum. I'm unsure what he's doing in a whaling museum, though.
Scrimshaw display. The museum has an entire room of glass cases with stuff carved out of teeth and whalebone. Glass-case overload!

Saturday: Cape Cod, Beaches, Stand-up paddleboarding

Finally a day without driving. The day was given over to hanging out on the beach with John and Rachelle. While Sandra read her book and napped, I took Rachelle's board and John and I paddled (wind-aided) north on the inlet. I only fell off every time a boat passed. At the tip we paddled past a herd (flock?) of about forty seals. Amazing.

Sunday: Cape Cod, Telecommunications museums

Rachelle left in the morning for a college-reunion weekend, and we turned back to visiting museum. The history of Cape Cod is more than just whale oil and ocean fishing. It figures significantly in the history of telecommunications as well. 
The first stop was the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, which was one in a series of transmitting and receiving stations that the Marconi Corporation built on Cape Cod to compete with the trans-Atlantic cables, one of which also came ashore on Cape Cod. After WWI, the station was used for Ship-to-shore communications until the 1990s. 
The docents were a creepily eager--like members some kind of techno-religious cult. 
Sandra pointing at some kind of vacuum tube from at the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center
 Museum #2 was a labor of love to memorialize the French undersea cable first laid in the 1870s, and put through to Orleans in 1891. The French Cable Station Museum is a musty collection of artifacts of the trans-atlantic cable technology in dire need of some new labels. Still--lots of period stuff on display. It seems to be run by the descendants of the original station master. The engineers in the group (i.e. us) had a fun discussion on how a wheatstone bridge might be used to detect the location of cable breaks, while the docent/owner declaimed a  technologically-not-very-correct explanation.
Sandra pointing at the only glass case we could find in the Orleans French Cable Station Museum.
Then it was back to John's for dinner.
John, Rachelle, and Sandra on the deck.

Monday: Mystic

We cleared out of Cape Cod around lunchtime on Monday, to try to avoid the inevitable backup, and stayed at our friends Betsy and Dan's vacation house in Mystic Connecticut. We arrived too late in the day to take in the Mystic seaport museum/compound, but we did have a nice walk through downtown Mystic on a lovely summer evening. 
Sandra watching the Mystic drawbridge rising.

Tuesday: Home!

One last stop on the drive home at my college friend Maria's house for lunch. She had spotted my post about the Walkway over the Hudson the week before. We had a quick lunch, played with her adorable Australian cattle dog puppies, and then hit the road again for home. 
Maria Laurendeau and me at her house in Campbell Hall, NY


Museum and Venue Links