What does it take to finish Old La Honda in 20 minutes?

The simple answer: An FTP above 4.0 watts/kg. Old La Honda in Woodside is one of the Bay Area’s benchmark climbs: long enough to make you hurt but short enough where it’s not truly an endurance climb. Nonetheless, it sees like the climb that everyone competes on to have a reference point against everyone else.

To finish this 3 mile / 8% average gradient climb in 20 minutes puts you firmly in the top 10% of all entrants. As of June 2020, almost 27,000 people have completed it and tracked it on Strava.

My best time: 21:06, ranked in the top 10.3% of all cyclists, riding a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX with Ultegra DI2, Disc Brakes. Canyon’s lightest Ultimate frame. I brought along one full water bottle, a rear light, and a bike computer – my minimum, no-accidents-please setup. Low tire pressure at 60/65 front/rear PSI using GP5000 tubeless tires on Roval CL 32 wheels. My guess is the bike + accessories was around 19 pounds.

I probably weighed 142 lbs (I’m 5’6), having eaten no breakfast. Average power during the climb 261 watts, about 4.04 W/KG. My estimated FTP going in was around 3.87 W/KG at 250W.

To be able to shave off that final minute for a 20 minute time, I think that I would need another 10 or so watts, which would take me to 4W/KG.

Rob Neyer’s Powerball vs the Real Story of the 2017 Astros

I just finished (and greatly enjoyed) Rob Neyer’s Powerball, a book about the application of data analytics in the modern game, highlighting a 2017 game between the eventual World Series Champions Houston Astros and Oakland A’s.

What stood out to me is how Neyer highlighted how the Astros had greatly improved offensively compared to the previous year, giving reasonable justification for those outcomes. But it made me think back to an article I had read just a month prior from The Athletic, “Does electronic sign stealing work? The Astros’ numbers are eye-popping“, by Jayson Stark and Eno Sarris.

Let me give a snippet of the article, which only is available for subscribers.

Their strikeout rate plummeted — at a level unparalleled in the last 100 years.

Their strikeout rate at home took an even more dramatic plunge — and that, too, was unlike anything we’ve seen in the last century.

They developed an uncanny ability to lay off breaking balls below the strike zone — an ability they hadn’t displayed before, and didn’t display on the road. But at the same time, they began crushing every kind of pitch inside the zone — at a rate that didn’t bear much resemblance to the way they’d handled those very same pitches in the past.

These were your 2017 Houston Astros. Remember back, oh, a few months ago, when we just referred to them as the World Series champs? Those were the days. Now we look at them and ask: Were they really that good? How much did they owe to pilfering signs and thumping on trash cans?

Neyer wrote about and lauded those Astros, those cheating, sign stealing ones that are perhaps part of the game’s greatest cheating scandal since the 1919 Black Sox. Yet, there isn’t much online bringing up the connection other than this podcast featuring Neyer himself from December. Neyer only wonders if he could have or should have suspected the cheating.

I Love Allen Iverson’s Humility

I’ve seen other articles or posts about Allen Iverson post-retirement and what stands out to me is how humble he is. He doesn’t hate on people, try to compare himself, complain. I have an original authentic Champion jersey from his rookie year, and this perspective makes sure I’m never tempted to sell it.

This recent interview shows what I mean: