Social Media – Use at Your Own Risk

The concept of social media was so innocent when it was introduced to us.  They promoted, hey, let’s produce a platform where you can catch up with all your friends.  Sounds like a great idea, right?  That meant putting lots of personal information on there, like date of birth, phone number, home address …. Whoa, put the brakes on … phone number and home address?

As you all know, Cambridge Analytica was able to extract possibly all of that information, when some survey was posted on Facebook.  I mean this not only allowed people to share information, but it also extracted information from their friends, who didn’t even participate in the survey in the first place.

So I immediately turned off the ability for 3rd party applications to communicate through my Facebook profile (I may actually do the same thing for Twitter and Google Plus as well).  Will that help?  Who knows.  One thing I did notice is that when I tried to share my Instagram posts directly from my phone, it didn’t allow it.  I guess that confirms that it does do the job … but I think it may be a matter of a little too little, a little too late.

I then started to look at my other privacy settings, and more specifically the ads settings.  What I didn’t realize was each application that you click “like” will add to the source of where ads will get posted to you.  Holy shit!!!!  I had probably 20 sites, that was not high on my interest list, that could possibly be posting an ad.  Sheesh … I immediately turned that off.

Next I looked at some of what my friends’ settings are, and wow .. under contact info, I saw that many of them included their home street address and phone number.  If someone just viewed your profile, and saw your basic contact info, they can start spamming you like crazy, calling you, even visiting you at your home.  The default setting is for everyone to see your profile information.  That is bad …

So this is why I cringe when looking back at Social Media.  I’m too deeply into it now, but the first thing I would do is restrict who can access my profile.  Second, remove any personal information that can be spread to cause harm, like home address, phone number, and will probably be removing a few more in the future.

Facebook is not alone in this … Twitter is not quite as bad, but I still have some issues with them.  I chose to require 2 factor authentication for all my Social Media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus).  However, with twitter, the 2nd factor is via SMS text messaging, which means I have to put my cell phone in there.  The cell phone is in my twitter profile.  However, if someone got access to my profile, they can retrieve that info, and start spamming me.  What I really wish, that Twitter will do, is provide 2nd factor via push authentication (like what Google, and WordPress does).  I really don’t like the fact that the 2nd factor code is done via SMS, which can be hacked easily.  I really think push authentication for 2FA is the way to go.  I only wish more apps could adopt this.

Anyhow, enough of my rant.  The point of this blog is to be very leery of the information you share on Facebook, Twitter, or any other Social Media platform.  Now back to doing more house chores.

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Posted in Rants, social-networking | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Angeles Forest Highway … How Have I Not Ridden this Before?

Easter Sunday, I had to get back a little after lunch time … so normally when I’m a little short on time, I’ll do the climb up Hwy 2, to Clear Creek, then head back.

But I’ve always wondered about Angeles Forest Highway, seeing riders come up from there. I’ve eyeballed this on Google Maps, but never really did this on my own. I hesitatingly descend down Angeles Forest Highway, remembering that eventually it would connect to Big Tujunga, which I remember doing once or twice (but that was about 10-15 years ago). I figured, what the heck … it’s a nice smooth road … plus it starts off with a descent.

As I start descending, I thought to myself “Why haven’t I don’t this before”? Not only is it not as busy, but there definitely is more shoulder room to work with. Sure, I do get buzzed by crotch rocket yahoos, going down, but I would get the same thing descending down ACH.

The cautious side of me wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a turn. I remember Mt. Gleason as being a landmark road, and as I pass it, I wanted to check Google Maps. I must have looked at this wrong, because when I saw Big Tujunga Road, I thought I saw it being on the other side of Santa Clarita, which was way over on the other side of the valley. Well, I decided to backtrack, and get on Mt. Gleason. This took me to Tujunga, and the only way I know of getting myself back to Pasadena, is to head back on Foothill Blvd (not the prettiest of roads, and a major street through the valley). It’s not bad … there is plenty of room to maneuver, but just not the most scenic. I did get back alright. Maybe next time, I’ll study Google Maps with more detail, and pick a nicer route.

Posted in cycling, ride report | 1 Comment

Last Minute Procrastination Before Driving to LA

It’s my monthly visit to LA, and as always, I wake up at an ungodly hour (5 am), do a mad rush to get everything ready.  I guess a smart man would prepare everything the night before.

I did prepare last night … put clothes in the bag, packed two sets of jerseys in, but there’s always the last minute thing to bring.  I guess the blog will make sure I have what I need for this ride.

So here’s a checklist

  • Shoes
  • helmet
  • Gloves (oh, shoot … where are they … check)
  • arm warmers, knee warmers
  • pump
  • USB cables
  • socks
  • food

I know I’m missing something … and this is all just before heading on the road for my 6+ hour drive.  Does everyone, who has a weekend trip, go through the same procrastination emergency?  Well, off I go.

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Damn Daylight Savings Time Again

Unfortunately this is still a thing

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So This is What Winter Is Like

We haven’t had a whole lot of rain, and even when we did, it was just wet, and not really too cold. Recently, we had some cold fronts from Alaska, bringing in cold temps. It did rain, and it brought the snow level, to the point where our local mountains had a dusting of snow at the mountain peaks.

The most iconic ones are Mt. Hamilton and Mt. Diablo. Mt. Hamilton is more local to me, and I heard there was a bit of snow in the mountains, so I had to check it out. It also gave me an opportunity to get in a metric century+, and in hopes to get my endurance up.

It was cold by California standards. Near the top, it was 41 F … now that may seem balmy for everyone else, but it’s a winter feel for California (especially if you aren’t living in the Sierras). I remember the jacket I used for DMD kept me pretty comfortable, so I wore that. I had wool socks, but I have no idea why I didn’t even put on my shoe covers. It would have kept my feet nice and toasty, but fortunately, the combination of wool socks, and toe warmers kept me warm enough. I had my skull cap, which I can lower to cover my ears, and I also had a balaclava, to protect my face against the wind. With this said, I was ready to climb the mountain.

I curiously saw a sign (it looked like a permanent sign) that indicated road closed at Grant Park (which is half way up the climb). I ignored that sign, and continued on up, and at Grant Park, I did see a road closed sign .. Damn. However, the CHP there just told me he won’t stop me from going up, but he warned there was reports of ice near the top, and a few people went down. I guess that’s expected, especially if they are ice conditions up there. I’ll keep my speed down (going uphill), and stay upright (keep the rubber side down). However, since they were stopping cars, who were not locals, this meant we have the road all to ourselves (well, with the exception of a few locals, and Caltrans going up and down with the snow plow). It’s like riding Glendora Mountain Road, Bay Area style!

About 3000 foot level, I saw my first evidence of snow on the road. Eventually, I saw it cover both sides of the road, and it was awesome.

 

It felt like I was inside a refrigerator, but it was cool, not cold. This deserved a stop for some pictures. I was definitely in a winter playground, and it was awesome. It was all natural, not man-made. I just had to take it all in.

The colder weather does have an impact on my climbing. I didn’t have as much energy as I would have, if it was a 70 degree day … my motivation today was just to make it up to the top, no matter how slow, or how much energy I expended doing it. I did see a handful of riders (maybe 5-10) descending the mountain, but I only saw maybe 3 other riders going up. I guess it’s just too cold for the average rider … I’m channeling Rule # 9 … if the weather is inclement, and you are out riding, you are badass! So here I am, badass’ing it up Hamilton.

I finally make it up to the top, and I see more of that white stuff. It is fabulous!

 

There is one California mistake I made … I took off my gloves, and I put them on the ground … the wet ground. After I picked it up, I realized what I had done … wet gloves, descending down … oooh … that’s going to be a cold descent. I went down slowly, just to keep the speed down, and not suffer frost bite on my fingers. I did stop one time, just to warm myself up. After that, I was fine, but it was a cool descent. Luckily, we did have to small climbs on the way down … it was just enough to warm myself up.

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Yes, I Still Ride my Triple

You don’t find many LBS carrying triple chainrings, with the thought that a compact double has the gearing enough for any rides. Well, for the Bay Area, that may be fine for fit racers, but for us average weekend riders, who love to climb hills, the triple is a much needed weapon.

Take for example my last ride. Al and I decided to go on this epically hard ride on President’s Day holiday. The highlight of the ride was a ride up Bohlman, Norton, Kittridge, Quickert, then On Orbit. Now this was epic. However, to prepare for these climbs, a little warm up is really needed. So I kicked it off with a little climb up Montebello Road, which in itself, is no slouch either. It’s 5.1 miles, with about 2000 feet of climbing.

It started out frigidly cold, so we started fairly late, 9:30 am … it was still about 45 F at the start. It was windy, cold, and the temperature didn’t really warm up. The sun was out, but don’t let that fool you. We definitely needed to bundle up.

It’s a bad sign when you start the ride, and you ride into a headwind. Usually, the winds around Sunnyvale are fairly calm, but not this day. After doing a few local short hills around Rancho San Antonio Park, the wind calmed down considerably. It also gave us a chance to warm up a little bit. However, the wind and the cold was concerning, and I was even thinking about bailing on some of the climbs, but look at this … blue skies all around. We were thinking if it gets too windy, and too cold, we could shorten the climb to the Montebello school, which is halfway up, but the wind and cold actually calmed down on the mountain. I’ll say that again … it’s windy and cold in the valley, but calm, and a little warmer in the mountains, with higher elevation. That’s backwards!

We got to the top, with no issues. I for one was not pushing too hard on this climb, knowing what we have to come later. I’ve been averaging between 51 to 55 minutes on this climb, and today, we came in at 53 minutes. I guess I’m still in shape. The view was spectacular today, and it was very clear. And there was no wind evident up at the top.

Descending Montebello was cold … frigidly cold. So there were two trains of thought for the descent … get off the mountain as fast as you can, but then the faster you go, the colder you’d get. For me, I decided to go slowly, because once you get into the shady sections of the descent, the temps drop. The low on my Garmin showed 34 F, and I think that was during our descent. We just needed to get to any place where there was sun, so we saw a sunny spot, and just sat there, soaking in the rays, while our body temperature warmed up.

We were originally going to climb up Redwood Gulch, but that would mean we would have to go into Stevens Canyon, and the temperature would drop going there … uh … no! Up Mt. Eden we go, and adding in a few short, steep hills, like Teerlink, Saratoga Summit … nice 16% grades, to warm the body up.

Ok, now for the big climb. I always get a kick out of this climb, as it passes by a cemetery at the base of the climb. Is that a little omen? Well, we’ve done this all before … Norton is fine, Kittridge is tough, but then when we got onto Quickert … oh boy. I think it was sustained 15-18% there (maybe even more in some spots). Al even had thoughts of stopping and walking, but he knew I was behind him. When we finally got to On Orbit, we had to take a breather.

I had to give Al the bad news that what we did, wasn’t even On Orbit, that this left turn we are making is On Orbit, and this is where the real climb starts. WTF ??? Yes, onwards to more 18-25% climbs. Thank god for my granny gear, 30-28 … and using every gear inch of that thing. There is something soothing about you on the climb, with no cars, just hearing your derailleur in the back, climbing to the rhythm of your breathing, and not worrying about what is ahead. I did take a quick peak near the summit, just to know where I am, but I just kept at my same rhythm … it’s kind of a mental, psychological thing.

We made it!!! It’s not the highest peak, but it definitely is one of the toughest. Looking back, we started to wonder if this is the toughest climb in the Bay Area … it definitely is one of the toughest. Another one that comes to mind is Welch Creek, off of Calaveras, east of Fremont. Al thinks On Orbit is tougher, but I think Welch Creek … both of them are hard, but picking which is tougher is a tough call.

Anyhow, this is why I still have a triple chainring. If you are doing something this epic, you need those extra gear inches, especially since we are not getting any younger. I’m definitely tagging this one as a climbfest.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1416302655

Posted in climbfest, cycling, ride report, steep climb | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Skyline is Finally Open

Yes, Skyline (aka Hwy 35) thru Los Gatos is once again open. Last year, we had heavy rains that was enough to cause a big section of the road to disappear. They had to have a drone take aerial shots to give you the magnitude of the damage.

This has now been repaired. Oh I had forgotten what ride I was missing. It was glorious, especially riding thru the Christmas tree farm.

This meant I’m finally able to do my Big Basin Loop, via Bear Creek.

It was a nice 66 mile, 7300 foot climbfest. This is why I live in California.

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