James Pearl Thinks Blogging is Dead


Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
I kicked off my day by editing chapter 20, which is an effort of my tying up what I started yesterday. I had all day to get to it, but it slipped through the cracks and suddenly the day was over. By getting right to it, I find it easier to follow through. If I'm going to get this done I'll need to revert finding time to do this when I wake up. Counter to that is my not using an alarm. Lately, I've been sleeping (a bit) more and with daylight shrinking like a wool sweater in the dryer, I tend to wake up later on average. Maybe I need to go to sleep earlier.

@taylor185 - you're new around here so I will bore everyone else by dredging up my history. I have a long one with coffee. I still have many pounds of green beans in the basement, waiting to be roasted one future day. They are surely past their prime, and being realistic, I may or may not one day roast them. I currently have 2 roasters (formerly 3 but I loaned one out and it ended up broken). One is simple and the other complex. Right now, neither works very well. I believe this was the death of my home roasting. I bought a better roaster and it didn't live up to the hype. I decided then I wasn't throwing bad money after good, and the roasting habit died then & there. I occasionally break out the simple one, but I think the internals of it must be so clogged with bean casings that I don't get the airflow needed to get an even roast. Thus, I end up with some oily beans and some dry beans all mixed together. In a nutshell - garbage.

My point - you definitely won't lose me by overindulging in the coffee talk. Go down the rabbit hole. I'll be there with you.

On that note, the beans you sent me are very light, what is called a city roast. This has typically been my sweet-spot of roast over the years. City brings out the best flavor IMO but it does not espresso well, where "espresso" is being used as a verb there. The oily stuff is more full city+ which is entering second crack. That's where your beans almost instantly go from nice/firm city roast to fire, really fast. Smoke billows out of the machine and if you aren't precise with it, you'll destroy the bean in no time. This is the ballpark where you tend to get the best roast for espresso. It's not really fair to compare the roast the way I did. But I made an espresso anyway because I wanted to see how good the bean is. It's an excellent bean. If it ran for Mayor of Warren I would vote for it.

Left is for espresso, right is the magic bean (not Jack's, but Justin's). The one on the right is really, really light. In my experience this is a very hard place to operate from a roasting perspective. If you go too light, the bean is garbage, totally unusable. This is like 3 seconds into being ready. Whoever roasted this could also run for Mayor of Warren and get my vote. It's legit skill. Having said that, coffee beans look like old people's kidney stones. They're not exactly a thing of beauty.


I cleaned my espresso machine today and holy mother of god, it was dirty. I went through 2 full tanks of rinsing it with the cleaning solution and by the end of the second one, the water was almost coming out mostly clear. This can only help in the espresso I produce with this machine.

With that, and absolutely nothing to do with coffee nor espresso, is The Great Saturday Central Park Zwift Race. I am still hanging fruit cakes with the lowly Cs, so take any & all of this with a grain of salt. Here's how the race went.

* I make The Selection. At this point I think I'm pretty good with this. I'm sure at the next race I will get dropped 9 seconds in.
* I stick with the AB Selection when the first attack starts a mere 1-2 miles into the race.
* At mile 3, the ABs attack again. The Selection starts to disintegrate like a meteor entering the atmosphere.
* I end up in No Man's Land and there are 2 of us. Then 3 of us, then 4, then 6. We settle in at 6.
* The 6 of us form a Sub Selection. As far as I am concerned, the only goal is to not get gobbled up by the Pac Man Peloton.
* We ride together for about a lap and change. We are working well together.
* About halfway through the race, we split into 2 groups. The first is AAB, and mine is BBC. I'm the C. I feel like I am sequencing DNA with this bullet point.
* I stick with the 2 Bs through the end of the lap. With 6 miles to go, we are about a minute up from the Pac Man Peloton.
* At around 3 to go, the 2 guys explode, and I am dropped. After my 2 hours @225w yesterday, my legs are fighting to stay in this game.
* The last 3 miles I am solo, and trying to keep a chase of 5 guys away. They are gobbling up the distance between us fast.
* With about .4 to go, we are in full-out fire drill with my lead shrinking, and I am burying myself to keep them away, trying to determine if I have mathed this incorrectly.
* My math works. They fail to catch me.

I was 2nd in the Cs but the winner had a 3.9 W/Kg power output and was DQ'ed on Zwiftpower. So I won the actual C race. Go Canada!

Screen Shot 2018-10-20 at 1.31.53 PM.png

Later in the day I go shopping with a 12 year old girl at Old Navy. Still trying to figure out which of the last 2 events I described was more painful. When we get back, I make her purge her closet & dresser of all the clothes she has grown out of since the last purge which, judging by the pile, is when Nixon was in office. We will now be dressing a small African nation with various girls clothing we'll be donating. On that note, when we put the clothes in the donation box in the church parking lot, do they get given away or does someone immediately try to make a profit from them?

@Glenn Rides After 4 PM CST stopped by after work with a fancy-looking electronics box and determined that the battery is perfectly fine. It just needs a good charge.

Topped off the evening with the local Brite Nites festival at Wagner Farms, with a special guest appearance from @UtahJoe and the family. I tossed it out there sometime today as an option for them to join us, and around 6:02 I think he told the wife, and at 6:04 he texted me back they they were on their way. It's a local pumpkin display of 1000+ not-actually-real pumpkins setup on the property. It was nice to hang out and the kids liked it. The hot cider was good but they need to revamp their hot chocolate recipe. Good way to spend a Saturday night.


Everything on the ToDo list from last night got done. Tomorrow is pretty straightforward:

* Easy ride early morning on Zwift, Central Park loops. Man I can sound like a douchey NYC hipster now.
* Jets-Vikings with step-dad.
* Pour battery acid in eyes after I get home from said game.
* Dinner with parents. My mom is making lasagna for us.
* Drop Zac off at some high school soccer camp thing around the corner.
* Simon also has a birthday party which D is bringing him to. Julia will make dessert with my mom during the day.
* D is doing the CR group ride but that does not involve me needing to do much other than stop the kids from setting the house on fire. I got this.
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Overthinking the draft from the basement already
Staff member
i looked at my beans, which have been making horrible coffee, and they look like a mix of
the one on the left, and something lighter than the one on the right. no oily cover.
kinda bums me out, , but 1st world problems. i'd also guess they are 2 months old, cause somehow
i ended up with a backup of beansl

should i store the unopened, air sealed packs in the pantry, fridge, or freezer?


Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Wake up, edit a little, D gets up, goes to CR, I get on Zwift, ride Central Park and watch Black Mirror S3E1: Nosedive. This is the episode that D's brother told us about a long time ago when he said he thought we would like this show. If it's not clear at this point, this series is pretty dark and suggests the future is going to be awful. Not sure if I said that already. I probably recommend not watching it.

Took my step-father to see the Jets today. He's been a fan since I think before time began. Last year we went to see them beat the Dolphins and he really enjoyed it. My folks are the sort of people who don't get out of the house too much. Let's just say that my affinity/openness to travel & doing things didn't really come from them. So the idea of driving to the Meadowlands to see the Jets play is pretty much impossible for them to wrap their heads around. Plus, my mom doesn't want to sit through this nonsense. So the last 2 years this has been some present (birthday, Xmas, I forget) that I get him.


Things that were good:

* I always enjoy the scale of a professional production like this. The size of the stadium, the larger-than-life everything, the brightness/sharpness of the colors, the logistics involved, how much everyone is just SO INTO the game, just so much of everything there.
* The sausage sandwich we got for lunch was legit.
* The national anthem was sung by Jackie Burns from Wicked. Goddamn that was an excellent rendition.
* Hey, these professional athletes are impressive, regardless of the final score.
* The Meadowlands are (is?) surrounded by fields and fields of, well, wasteland. Turns out that at this time of year, whatever plant is growing out there in droves is dumping the fuzzy seeds that float (I'm like uber on-point with my words here) in the air. And with the wind today it was literally snowing down on us in the 4th quarter. Maybe not great for my allergies, but it was cool as hell.


Things that were not good:

* Yeah, the final score. The 37-17 score was not really indicative of the game we watched. I've been watching the Jets on & off for years with my step-father and I'll say this team is not dreadful. The QB Darnold is pretty good and for a rookie he's got potential. This coach may not last but I do see the players hitting the open holes so they are being coached well. They need better WRs for sure. And the little mistakes add up. But I could see this team working into a respectable team in a few years.
* The wind, holy shit is was brutal today. So. Damn. Cold.
* The traffic after the game. We are not people who leave early, like ever. Since I bring him once a year (you know, for 2 years now) we're going to sit and watch until the players walk off the field. Well, when the clock hit :00 there were quite literally about 1000 people in the stadium, probably 992 of them wearing purple. This made getting out of the parking lot easy. But it also means the other 77,000 fans were well on their way to going home and creating a slew of traffic we would have to sit in for like 90 minutes.

Then we drove home, I ate dinner in 6 minutes, then took Zac to his soccer thing. D was off with Simon at some birthday party up north. Went to bring Julia home and the battery was dead again. So I am invoking the Occam's Razor principle and just replacing the stupid battery tomorrow. And setting the old one on fire. Someone send me $20.

Tomorrow - other things. No more lists today.


Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Last night I stayed up until 11:15, almost exactly. I was tired, but not too tired to stay up to bring this one home. Why is this point in time significant? Because on October 21, 2018, at 11:15pm, I finally finished the 910 page monster that is Cryptonomicon. As @seanrunnette predicted, it pretty much just ended. The book was fine, even good, but I feel like he made it inordinately long in spots just for the sake of writing words. When he took 3-4 pages to discuss a tooth extraction, he really started to lose me. I finally dragged this hulking mass of former tree over the goal line last night. Then I promptly fell asleep until the alarm slammed the inside of my head at 7am. Being outside all day yesterday was tiring. Being in the cold for such a long time drains you.

I didn't have any time to edit this morning. I'm starting to get worried about the amount (or lack thereof) of time I'm putting into the book at this point. It's in decent shape but I need to keep driving it forward. I want to be able to hand it off to other people to read it and I'm still kinda far from that. After D left to bring the boys to school, instead of writing, I had to deal with the stupid battery headache which had me driving down to Advance Auto to pick up a new battery (which they won't change for you ALL the time, it turns out). Goddamn these things are expensive. I took the spare key and left the car running because the last thing I want to do is be stranded in South Plainfield at 8:30am. I'll swap it out tomorrow or whenever I need to go somewhere.

Found out this morning that my boss is probably not leaving after all. I'm not sure what the deal is right now but I hope he's making the right choice for him. This will make my life easier, so I'm good with it. I just hope he's happy and not draining his family time too much. On the note of work, the more "stuff" we do that costs us money, the more I need to make sure I am keeping myself pertinent and productive. I don't really have a worry about this today. But it's something I think about when I go to Jets games, or spend money in whatever form these cash-ectomies take. Every week I wake up and this roller coaster I'm on seems to keep going up & down.

Sean and I hopped on the Skype and did a podcast around lunch time. I figured that going Skype would make it shorter but as it turns out, we still ended up in the 2 hour ballpark. I hope the people who listen to this enjoy it. I think the conversations are pretty good, and there were spots today where I think it was very good. Of course, sometimes I'm sure it's boring. But it's fun. I sent Sean a list of topics as I kept track of them. I won't repeat it here but keep an eye on the podcast thread for it. I'd really like to make this a routine thing. Going back to Skype should help that.

After my 2:30 call I hopped on the trainer because I didn't feel like going outside - call me lazy. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do today but it was going to be something on the shorter/harder side. Typical block starts with 5s but in cross season you do more like 1s or 2s. I had in mind that East County session-stuff but again, wasn't feeling it. So I hopped into the Zwift world which is NYC again today. Jumped into the skyway and picked a ~5 minute climb and hit it 4 times.

So according to Zwift, my indoor FTP is 287 which puts my L5/VO2 Max range at 304-344. I am not a huge fan of indoor intervals but I'm trying to work in this environment just because it's a tool that I need to figure out how to use properly. So my sets were as such:


I gave everything on the 3rd set because I wanted to see how I did with this approach. I tried to make #1/#2 as steady & solid as I could, then put everything into #3 then see what was left for #4. The above is what I got. Outside these numbers would be higher but I'm also much less steady/constant outside. After the sets I did a tempo loop around the park. We're moving into the middle of the season which means you should be adding some tempo riding to the end of the interval sessions.

Here's the site I use to get my zones: https://datacranker.com/cycling-power-zones-calculator/

Training plan this week looks like such:

Mon: 4x5 then tempo
Tue: Probably some sort of L4 work
Wed: Tempo work, ~2 hours
Thu: Easy
Fri: Easy
Sat: HPCX #1
Sun: HPCX #2

As noted above, looks like we are in for both HPCX races.

Death. I've been avoiding this subject because frankly, who wants to talk about death? Somehow we got onto this subject on the podcast today so I'll just throw it out there. Death is inevitable, maybe even necessary, but it's still awful. Last week I found out that a guy I know was run down on his bike. I would say that he was on the outer periphery of people I knew. That doesn't make it any less tragic but it doesn't hit home as much as some of the other tragedies in the biking community in the last few years. I told D I wasn't going to write about this one at all, but I changed my mind when I found out today that another friend of mine from the old Rutgers days took his own life last week. I haven't seen him in a few years as he is part of a world (RU sports) I don't exist in anymore. But again, does not make it any less tragic.

Godspeed Nick & Mike.



Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
On September 1st I started writing what would eventually become my book, or what I hope will eventually be good enough to be called a book. At the same time, I vowed to blog every day, weekdays and weekends, regardless of what we had going on. This year I have made an effort to blog most days, but not every day. On September 1st this changed. A long time ago, I read a bit of advice about how to be a writer. The bit of advice was simple, and it was this: write every day. This was many years ago, when I had it in the back of my head that I wanted to be a writer someday. Many people in their 20s think they can just "be a writer" and I was one of them. As I got older, I saw it for what it was: a common fantasy that some twenty-something had running in his head that had little-to-no basis in reality. Somewhere along the line, in the last year, I changed my mind on this. I do not harbor thoughts about "being a writer" at age 46. But I do have this idea that I can start, and finish, writing a book. Does this make me a writer, as such? Probably not. Does this mean I can start, and subsequently finish, a book? Sure. Maybe that makes me "someone who wrote a book" which is somewhere in between not being a writer and being a writer.

I digress, and here I am doing exactly what I came here to say I was not going to do. I am vowing to dial back this blog to a moderate daily entry which will serve to keep me writing something (see above, write every day). I need to dial back the blog a bit for now because it's having a detrimental effect on my putting time & effort into editing that thing which I hope to one day call, "my book." I still don't know if I should put the period in the quotes at the end of that last sentence or not. I think so, but I don't like the way it looks inside, nor outside. Maybe I should ask Iggy.

BRB...ok back. We'll see what he says.

What I am going to do is this. I will sit down to start my blog post at 9:00 pm every day, or most days. By 10:00 I will post it. So you, dear reader (which @seanrunnette says there are actually none of you), will get one hour (or less) of blogging time every day. In the parlance of our childhood, at 10:00 pm the post will announce to the world, "READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!"

Today I changed the car battery. Yesterday I started a new book, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. This was a recommendation from @2Julianas and/or @MurderBort - I'm ~50 pages in and so far I love this book. We also signed up for HPCX yesterday and got 2 tent spaces and for fuck sake, why is this so expensive? This is actually not an exaggeration. It would have been cheaper for us to go see Wicked on Broadway than to race these 2 days. Holy hell, why is it over $40 for a cross race? When did it start costing ONE DOLLAR A MINUTE to race?

And every day, I will put the training stuff as a spoiler so you can ignore if it you so desire.

Today I decided to do L4/Threshold workout using the Zwift-Borg as a tool. I know it was nice outside but I was going with the controlled environment here. I looked over the workouts and did not see a 4x10 so I went with the classic 2x20. Zwift uses your FTP in the tool to determine where you should be, and for me it was 285 watts. I didn't really know what I was doing and apparently it defaults to erg mode. I am not a fan of this in theory, but here is my confession about erg mode and this specific workout.

I loved it.

It was a total "set and forget" approach. For those that don't know, erg mode is essentially this: you say X watts, and the smart trainer makes it so you will be putting out that wattage. So if you go slower, it makes the resistance higher. It makes it really easy to nail the target wattage. Here is my output per the Kickr:

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 6.57.42 PM.png

Target was 285, and I hit 287 with both sets. That is pretty dead-on-balls accurate, to use a My Cousin Vinny-ism. Note the heart rate difference there - 156 versus 168. Same wattage, wildly different heart rate.

So I also ran my Garmin on the Quarq and here is the same workout data:

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 6.59.32 PM.png

First set 290, second 302. Hard to correlate these 2 snapshots. Aside from the 2nd lap on the Quarq (lower image), the Quarq reads consistently higher across the board. The average on the workout was 240 on the Kickr and 258 on the Quarq. After the workout I did a spin-down on the Kickr but this is a pretty wide gap between these 2. I'm not really that concerned because I'll use the Kickr for all my indoor work. Apples to apples. Just ride your bike and keep the numbers going up. Hopefully reality is the higher one but whatever. Again, ride bike forward, a bunch, then see results.

This erg mode also puts you on the L4 rivet 100% of the time. As such, you go uphill at 285w, downhill at 285, and flat at 285w. If you stop to take a crap, you do it at 285w. So you just drill the loop, at 285w, no matter what. Turns out that got me the Central Park KOM today in Zwift. By a lot, it turns out:


So I guess no surprise here, but I felt goddamn good on the ride today.

Ok, it's about 10:00 now. Ready or not, here it comes.


Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
The 100-Year old man book is Swedish. I love their irreverence for social norms. When you’re done, watch the movie. It’s good too!


Team Workhorse
Team MTBNJ Halter's
+/- 10 watts isnt bad at all, especially when you consider the Kicker is seeing power after losses in your drive train.

My POS stages was 60w higher than my smart trainer doing your same experiment for example.

Nice work on the battery change, take that ~$100 you saved and buy yourself something nice...Like a weekend of standing outside in the freezing cold rain while watching idiots ride bikes.


i came here after you said you used the ERG mode on starva; why you no like? i thought that was the whole point of the smart trainer for training


Infinite Source of Sarcasm
Team MTBNJ Halter's
i came here after you said you used the ERG mode on starva; why you no like? i thought that was the whole point of the smart trainer for training

pretty sure he loved it . . .

at least in this case . . .

. I am not a fan of this in theory, but here is my confession about erg mode and this specific workout.

I loved it.



2018 Fantasy Football Toilet Bowl Lead Technician
Team MTBNJ Halter's
1. ERG for life
2. Did you ever have to pay for tent space at HPCX before?
It'll probably come in handy with the rain on Saturday.


soon they gon make you pay for parking at cx races

also, you can make your own custom workouts, surprised you didn't see this. works extremely well from the phone too.

the funny part was i did recovery at z1 and was like hey, im still kind of working, let me freewheel trainer. im ded.

i was shocked how well ERG worked at hitting power numbers. i did some work on the road today and was v annoyed that i kept going 10w +/- over what i wanted to instead of just aimlessly pushing as hard as i can to keep the line lookin' like a shelf. maybe thats why you are against it?


Active Member
Today I changed the car battery.

Yesterday I started a new book, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. This was a recommendation from @2Julianas and/or @MurderBort - I'm ~50 pages in and so far I love this book.

Car Battery
1) How much was the darn thing?
2) Did it fix the problem?

Book Recommendation
Thanks for a new recommendation - I'll have to look into that one. I am attempting to limit screen time - specifically at night - by reading more, and an engaging book certainly helps stick to the program.

ERG is life when it comes to trainer workouts - the only time I don't ERG is when doing a fitness test.


Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
If I'm giving a gold star every day, today's goes to @taylor185. It has nothing to do with coffee.

Last night we were watching TV and there was an ad for Cologuard during one of the breaks. Using a little bit of extension here, you will see that this product is made up of 2 concepts. The first is the colon, the second is to guard. As you can imagine from said extension, this is a screening for colon cancer. The commercial was somewhat vague, but people kept walking around with this blue & white box and it soon struck me that the whole point of it was that you get this box, presumably in the mail, then you take this box into the bathroom, then you...yeah, you guessed it, you poop in the box. This is so accurate of a description that I found the name of the product by Googling "poop in a box" and it came up with Cologuard as one of the top results.

This leads me to 2 things:

1. I want to poop in a box, just to say I did it
2. Is this somewhat offensive to people in the Color Guard?

My day in a paragraph goes as such. I brought the old battery back this morning and got a $23 refund from Autozone. The battery itself cost $160 plus the $23 core deposit. Yes, it fixed the problem. I found out today that I'm probably going to Seattle for work which means that the remainder of the year will see trips to Pittsburgh, Seattle, Kentucky, and Canada. On the Canada note, does anyone who reads this blog regularly really need to ask why I might have the following flags on my Zwift user: US, Canada, Taiwan, or Poland? As for HPCX, we've never paid before because we didn't think the team tent area made sense for what we were doing. But this year they've moved the start/finish to the bottom so we decided we would pony up. The team pays for it so it's no big deal but the whole cost is somewhat absurd.

As for book suggestions @vlkslvr, I would also throw in A Man Called Ove. It's also Swedish and I absolutely loved that book.

Today is day 3 of the block so we fall back to tempo. The idea was to hit Zwift for 2 hours and get my power up over 218w to be compliant with the borg's suggestion of where my Kickr tempo bottoms out. The first hour saw me at around 250, then after that I started to come apart and it was a struggle to stay in it mentally. The last time I worked really hard on a Wednesday was before Hippo and I felt like I went into that race a tad flat. So I decided to pull the plug at 90 minutes with a 234w day in the books.

I watched part of Batman vs. Superman and it was meh, at best. That didn't help.

Why do I not like Argh (Erg) Mode in theory? I don't like it in theory because you don't race in Erg mode. If all of these races were in a lab, then sure, it would make sense to never turn it off. But as we race in the real world, there's something to be said about getting your workouts done under real world conditions. It behoves you learn how to produce the desired power under all conditions, if possible. It should be noted that this statement is in the context of having Zwift, or a similar feedback world that makes the trainer go easier or harder depending on the terrain.

I'm not going to say that after yesterday I totally agree with the above under all circumstances. For FTP work specifically, after yesterday I think it can be very beneficial. For today's workout, I don't think it makes sense. When you're doing tempo the aim is to be working under a wide range of powers and various conditions, at least if you use the classic approach (aka, fartlek). Plus, after 2 days hard, and 4 of 5 with some solid work, how do I know if I should be doing the ride at 218 or 258? Tempo is an exercise in taking what your body gives you at the end of your block.

I don't know how I feel about 5s, but I can see it coming in handy for that too. Have I mentioned that I think 5s are critically important? Have I also mentioned I think they're really freaking hard to train? I hate doing 5s. They hurt like hell. Beyond that, I'm not sure how well Erg mode will work with 1s and 2s and microbursts. Yeah, I saw a microburst workout on there yesterday. As for rolling my own, that seems like too much work.

As for the question, isn't that the point of the smart trainer? I mean, if you spend time in Zwift then the answer is no. The smart trainer turns your indoor workout into an actual real-world workout when you allow it to be controlled by the program. I love the feedback that Zwift gives and it makes me enjoy indoor riding far more than I ever have. As such, that allows me to be on the bike more, which promotes better fitness, and so on.

At the end of the day, the more you ride your bike the better you will be at riding your bike. The smart trainer allows me to enjoy riding inside, which allows me to ride more. The Erg Mode is not something I would ever consider outside a strict training workout. Once Nats are done, I probably won't do much of anything with Erg mode for a few months.

Tomorrow & Friday will be easier days on the bike. I'll be recharging myself for the double this weekend.
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