Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Confederate Memorial Day

I forgot to mention in my last post that I had Monday this week off of work to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day. Seriously, it was an official State of Mississippi holiday. I'm not so sure how I felt about taking a day off to celebrate a people who waged war on my country but I did it just the same.

I bet that caught a few people off guard, but think of this-- having lived in a bunch of different states, countries and on different continents, this is the only place I have ever lived where the government built monuments to men and women who raised arms against my country.

Mississippi Grand Prix

It's been one full day since the end of my first timed stage race. I've healed some of the wounds that I inflicted on my legs but it's going to be a while before everything is running at full steam. It was a tough 4 races over three days in Brookhaven, MS. I'm proud of my 11th place finish in the cat 3 race, but wished I could have done better in the overall standings.

Friday night was a rough and tumble crit full of lappings and being lapped. I don't know the wisdom of including a crit in a timed race but heck, if that's what they want that's what they get. From the gun it was fast. I've never started quick in any race but knew that I would have to that night. It was easily closing in on 30 for the first ten minutes. I thought about pulling out but then realized . . . well I don't think I had the time to complete any of my thoughts.

I along with a group of ten was lapped at about the 35 minute mark, after having lapped another group of about seven. I never thought I could be dropped twice in one race but I was. It was at that point in time that I lost some time to a few of the cat 3s who were able to hang on to the 1s and 2s in the lapping group.

Saturday was rough too. Some yo-yo decided to go from the gun. As I'm fumbling for the big ring he's dropping the hammer. I put myself into the red only to realize that I was the lantern rouge of the race and that there was nowhere to go but forward. After the first 18 mile lap things settled down. A break got away and an organized chase ensued with the Compliance Depot guys leading the charge.

The chase brought the race down to a manageable pace, but I could still tell that one particular section of road which included a long slow uphill would cause serious troubles if anyone ever decided to go hard up it. The nice thing about a 3 racing with 1s and 2s is that you know that all you have to do when the time comes is respond to the move.

That's exactly what I did. With about 5 km to go someone put in an effort up that section of road. I had been dropped there two years ago and was bound and determined not to be a victim this time around. I jumped onto Frank Bruer's wheel as it started to get nasty and just put my head down. I could feel the muscles in my legs ripping to pieces, but I was not going to lose that wheel. I looked back and the field was gone and I was the last man in the break. Too bad it was all for nothing because the field caught us half a mile later when people started playing around up front and it turned into a massive pack finish.

The TT was painful and I care not to talk about it. TTs are by far my weakest discipline, but on a positive note I finished in the middle of the 3s this time and got the sense that I am improving.

The last crit was hot and fast. It was built just the way I don't like it. I have some serious problems with courses that repeat power climbs and this one did just that. It isn't the climb that hurts me, but the fast descent that puts me down. I'm small enough to be able to climb with the power riders by spinning the heck out of things but when they switch into their 11s and 12s on the descent I don't have what it takes to respond as quickly as I need to.

At minute number 20 of 75 I dropped my water bottle. I had two water bottles and one of them just popped out of the cage when I hit a little pothole. I was in trouble when that happened. It was Bensenville all over again. This time I was too stubborn to quit. At minute 40 I started to get a couple of chills in the 85 degree heat. Minute 50 came and I noticed a few goosebumps developing on my arms. I stood up coming over the hill at minute 60 and the breeze nearly took my breath away because it was so cold. Thereafter I decided not to look at the clock anymore. I told myself just make it to the last lap and group finish to keep your 11th place hopes alive. That's all I wanted to do and that is what I did. It's sweet revenge for my failure at Bensenville to do the same.

Next Race: Athens Twilight and Roswell Criteriums

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cycling Probability Question

This post is something that I have long been contemplating but only recently have come to a mathematical conclusion on. My problem is that I am not sure what the formula is for this conclusion. So if anyone can create a formula for these results I would love to see it.

Here is the basic question:

Three people leave their homes around the same time of day. Each person lives within 50 miles of the other person and they do not know each other. They set off on their daily journey all heading in a random directions. What is the probability that they will cross the other's path at the exact same moment? Most likely almost zero.

Now change one fact. One of the three people is me on my bike. Now what is the probability that the two other people in a car will meet me on the road at the same time going in opposite directions of each other? Mostly likely high.

Now what is the probability that these other two will pass me and each other while cresting a hill or going around a blind corner? 99.9%

If only cars were not allowed on the road while I was out riding...

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Did Something to Grab the Attention of the AP

The following is an AP article taken from today's Clarion Ledger. It marks the first time that an opinion I worked on made the news.

Miss. Supreme Court tosses 18 out-of-state asbestos claims against 3M

The Associated Press

The Mississippi Supreme Court has tossed out the asbestos claims of 18 out-of-state plaintiffs against the 3M Co.

In its 6-1 decision this past week, the court ruled a trial judge erred in ruling the cases would be heard in Holmes County Circuit Court.

"Holmes County lacks the required interest in the wholly out-of-state appellees' claims, and it would be a waste of judicial resources if tried in Mississippi," Presiding Justice Kay Cobb wrote for the court.

Cobb said the plaintiffs have no connection to Mississippi and are neither from Mississippi nor did their injuries arise from conduct in Mississippi.

"The courts of Mississippi will not become the default forum for plaintiffs seeking to consolidate mass-tort actions. To allow otherwise would waste finite judicial resources on claims that have nothing to do with the state," Cobb said.

In a 19th case, Cobb said Circuit Judge Jannie Lewis must determine separately if that case can be heard in Mississippi. Plaintiff Willie Kern claims exposure to asbestos while working in Attala County and in Illinois.

Of the 18 out-of-state plaintiffs, 13 claimed exposure in Illinois, while others claimed exposure in Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado and North Carolina.

Cobb said if the out-of-state plaintiffs were allowed to pursue their claims in Mississippi, the trial judge would be forced to apply not only Mississippi law, but also the laws of Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Minnesota and Missouri.

"This would require seven different product liability statutes, seven different jury instructions and seven different verdicts. This would confuse the jury and lead to possible error," she said.
Asbestos is a commercial name for several different types of minerals that were commonly used in insulation, fireproofing materials, wallboard materials and automotive brakes until the 1970s.
Its use was drastically scaled back after public disclosure that it had a tendency to break down into microscopic particles that could hang in the air and be easily inhaled, potentially causing lung scarring, breathing problems, cancer or heart failure.

In 2000, more than 150 plaintiffs sued about 62 defendants in Holmes County over asbestos exposure. Six plaintiffs were selected to be tried jointly against the defendants against whom there were claims.

On Oct. 1, 2001, a jury awarded each plaintiff $25 million in compensatory damages. No punitive damages were awarded.

The Mississippi Supreme Court threw out the jury award in 2005, ruling that separate trials should have been conducted in each case.

In what has become the standard for huge tort lawsuits involving multiple plaintiffs and defendants, the Supreme Court ruled it was improper to group the plaintiffs together when their claims did not arise from the same incident or involve the same defendants.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Tour LeFleur

Some weekends you've got it and then some weekends you don't. For me it was the latter. I misjudged everything. For me the weekend was "oh that break will come back" (it didn't), "this guy will bridge that gap" (he didn't), "these guys will go easy here and faster there" (so didn't), "they're racing for X" (they weren't racing for anything). So I take my lumps and look forward to the next race.

I crashed wicked hard on Saturday. Some yahoo, decided that he was tired of going fast and by the time I knew it I was up on his rear wheel rubbing it pretty hard. That's fine and all I don't have a problem with that, until someone else starts rubbing my wheel at the same time. So there I was trying to fend off two guys forcing my bike in two different directions, which of course means that I'm headed in a third which is right down to the ground. My question is why do people get pissed and start cursing when they crash? I'm calm about it. For me it's, ok let's check out all our body parts and make sure they are still there, then check out the machine, is it all together?

For me, the machine wasn't. I lost my Ksyrium front wheel. It was tacoed straight to hell, but on a brighter note, my tire didn't flat and I broke zero spokes. So it's safe to say that those are some good wheels. I went and took my five free laps, got a new wheel and put myself back in the race. It's a bad crit course and I strongly recommend for anyone who doesn't live in Jackson to not do the crit ever. You're wasting your time if you do. Thankfully for me it's a short drive and I had a lot of supporters out there yelling for me. And then later I had some very kind person take care of my road rash. Thank you for that.

The road race was equally disappointing, so I won't belabor anyone with that report. I'm just going to take my lumps and move on to the next race. My thing is, if you're team has 9 cat 1s in a race and my team has 5 cat 3s, don't ask us to chase down a break of 1s and 2s from a 3rd team for you. You've got the manpower to control a race and we've got the man power to be opportunistic. Go chase it down yourselves. My team did well at the road race, too bad I was so far back that I didn't get to see it. See earlier mention of gaps closing and breaks sticking.

Next Race: Miss. Grand Prix, Brookhaven.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Scalia Speaks

Justice Scalia came to Rural yesterday and chose to speak on a topic that surprised me--the role of foreign legal decisions in American law. I was waiting for the traditional speech about blah blah blah originalism blah blah everyone else is wrong blah blah. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the change of topic and even agreed with him when he said that he wouldn't allow self-righteous Europeans dictate our law to us. There definitely is value to knowing what the rest of the world is doing, but that doesn't mean we have to follow them.

In 1776 the rest of the world was creating monarchies and autocracies, we didn't follow them then and it's turned out pretty good for us so far. I do however, disagree with most of the usual stuff that Justice Scalia says. Therefore I found this quote which I particularly like:

"I can only hope for a day when the courts of justice will decline to dig among the tombs of a dead past for ancient and obsolete precedent . . . and the law will be treated as a philosophy to be applied to the ever changing condition of man, and not as a straight jacket with no leeway for the exercise of common sense and common justice."--Mr. Justice Scott of Colorado

There is of course something to be said in favor of Scalia's interpretative prowess and against the rapidly changing world of the living constitutionalists. However, extremist are rarely right and the better course is typically charted through the middle. I don't have an interpretative agenda to push like Scalia, because I cannot wrap mine into a neat two sentence package like he can. I agree that simplicity is the key and that a dynamic changing Constitution serves no one but those in power. However, I also agree that there are rights embedded in the Constitution which do not appear in bold print. There will always be a B in between A and C. Therefore, I must respectfully dissent from Justice Scalia's approach and follow my own path.