Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Doctor Is In

I read a lot of magazines. Its not always time well spent. Yesterday I came across "Rowing News". It's been 6 years since I rowed reguarly, but the cover mentioned a story: "East Germany's Rowing Legacy." I liked the stories attempt to provide balanced coverage of the period "East Germany" dominated world rowing. Drug problems were real, but so was an approach to training that works in every sport. That approach was not invented in the GDR, but that was one of the places it was refined.
There was much more in "Rowing News" -- the best coverage of training, health, and technique I've seen in any of the sports-oriented publications. "Outside", eat your heart out. "Runners World", pack it in. Except for the tidily-winks players, everyone should read the article on "Balance and Stability Training."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Functioning Artificial Proteins

"The goal of our research was not to find another way to make artificial proteins in the lab, but to discover the rules that nature and evolution have used to design proteins," Dr. Ranganathan said. "The rules we have extracted from the evolutionary record of proteins contain a substantial fraction of the information required to rebuild modern-day proteins. We're building solutions so close that, at least in a test tube, we can't tell them apart from natural proteins."
--Ranganathan, Co-Author of a paper appearing in Nature Sept 22, 2005

Now that is programming!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Gamboling at the 'Stick

After waiting for a couple hours, I decided to gamble on wind coming up & we headed to Candlestick Point. At first the wind was very light & I had a hard time flying my 12 m kite at all. Peter, my instructor, told me to pull the bar in (power up) on the down stroke and push out (de-power) on the upstroke. This worked wonders. I did not get the timing right with reliability, but when I did my figure 8s produced much smoother power and the kite moved up faster.
The first part makes sense: powering the kite in light air produces more power. The second is not so obvious: by de-powering, the kite flies more efficiently & gets up high for a power stroke faster. (Perhaps it just makes the turn faster?)
Unfortunately, it was clear right away that the session would be short: the tear in my left abdominal was getting worse.
Soon the wind came up a bit; by that time my kite handling had improved a bit so that once again the problem was too much speed. Eventually Peter succeeded in getting me to use very subtle movements and to realize that I really did not need anything but one minor down stroke as long as my board position was good. When I did this, it was like Eos intervened. Everything was easy & I had good control -- until I didn't have good control. I think that if I had also made my hand position narrower when I no longer needed an aggressive initiation, I would have not worked the kite by accident so much -- that is where my excessive speed came from.
Looks like its almost time to try a smaller board. That would make edging much easier.
On the delta I've been riding a North Toro '05. That is their school kite, but many riders like it in the surf because its so stable. The fact is I've been dumbfounded by how stable it is -- that stability was especially useful in improving my starts because it makes it much easier to maintain good body position if you don't have to do anything to control the kite. [The stable delta winds also help] At the 'stick I was using a Cabrinha Contra '05. Nominally the kites are quite similar -- school kites from two leading kite companies. However, the Contra flies much higher & must have much better upwind potential. It flies so high, its hard to see it without cramping ones neck.
I called the session off way too early, but my gut was getting worse & with Peter's help I'd moved up a step. I've been really lucky to get such good instruction from Sandy & Donnie at Ki'topia and Peter at Kite Wind Surf .

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Big Mistake

Yesterday's gym session was a big mistake. Everything felt fine & even fun when I was working out, but this morning I woke up to an unpleasant tear in my left abdominals. Not good.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Crippled Abs

I'm very sore from the delta session three days ago. I really need to work on the abs. Looks like its time for a trip to the gym.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Skunked on the Bay

We decided to call off the kiting, because it looked like the wind would never come up. Rescheduled for Monday. This is nerve wracking as there will not be many many opportunities this year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sherman Island :: The Sequel

Today I had my second kite surfing lesson at Sherman Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. I was able to do a lot more, but also realized that things were not quite as straightforward as I thought last time I was out. Then, I was surprised, and impressed, that I was able to hold my position in the river during an ebb tide. That was thinking like a kayaker, not a kiter. What actually happened then was that the wind and current more or less canceled each other out. I was not really working my way up wind.
This session began on a flood and ended on an ebb so I started with flat water with the wind and current both working against me and ended on the ebb with good chop & the two working against each other. But, my skills were much better and on many runs I was able to work my way upwind.
I learned a few interesting things about setting up kites.
  • Since the front lines are always under tension, they stretch faster than the outside lines. That is why there are three attachment points: they accommodate stretching lines. I thought it was a tuning issue.
  • A couple nice mnemonics for thinking about line placement:
    • Outback -- outside lines go to the back of the kite (bottom)
    • Front and Center -- center lines go to the front, the top, the leading edge
  • The truly unexpected thing is that the kite is steered from the back of the kite (outside lines). Once you remember this, all the other pieces are logical, but this is odd.
My runs were good enough, that learning to stop became important -- the river is only so wide and its good to stay in the shipping lanes as those are almost guaranteed to be free of obstacles.
Most runs ended in a crash & that was usually caused by working the kite too much & not holding an edge. I'm just not getting the body position good enough to use the edge and back of the board as a brake. Once my kite starts working too much, I go too fast and when the kite goes up I have lift and guess what? I'm bouncing across the tops of waves going straight down wind.

Another lesson, this time on SF Bay, on Friday.

About 3 hours on the water with absolutely first clas instruction (again) from Ki'topia. What a treat.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Good Week for Yoga

I had a nice combination of Anusara and Yin & was shown a different way to get into handstand in the Anusara class. Its much more graceful than what I've been doing & it should make a full handstand (no wall) much easier. Yin was, as almost always, great -- especially since I'd been away for two weeks.
I took my first Iyengar class. As I expected, even one class was useful. Perhaps its due to a shortage of talent, but I need lots of time to feel a pose & the Iyengar emphasis on alignment helps. I's still not sure if the Iyengar people really face up to all the issues of body proportion and alignment, but I hope to do more of these.
I did another double header. The first was a pretty active level 2 taught by a real monster. He provided interesting variation on pigeon -- straighten the extended leg & it will help align the hips & then its possible to press back and out on the bent side to work the hip strongly. In Yin I returned to my own style of using a belt for hamstring stretches. This really works & its also nice to see I've made real progress on my hamstring in the last three weeks.
My regular Yin instructor taught a strong level 2 & I had a great time. There was a really nice sequence for the hips & that always makes me happy.

Tahitians Rule :: Breakthrough at Teahupoo

At first I thought the term Tow-kite was a bad translation of something, but check out these photos.