Back in (nearly) full swing!

Sunday, December 7, 2008 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

Helloooooo.

So this has been a great weekend for me, and it’s not even over yet! I’m just really glad, because as of earlier this week, my ankle has not been hurting! If you know me, you also know that I have a really hard time keeping out of trouble and activities.  As soon as the ankle began feeling better, I slowly cranked up the chaos:

1. Started walking places.
2. Rode 26 miles on the road bike, with street shoes on and weight on the heel instead of the ball of my foot.
3. Positioned my right foot so that it was in an actually normal position on the pedal while riding. This was big for me because putting weight on the front of the foot used to hurt.
4. Rode 15 miles up Broad St./611 to Abington yesterday, in full cycling get-up!
5. Today, I did 3 hours of mountain biking! I fell like 5 times, and my mountain bike actually needs a lot of work. But there’s no pain in my ankle!

I’m sooo glad that I can get back to being active (my style at least), which continues to prove my general rule: Ride until I cannot ride any more. To stay sane, run. Run until I injure myself. Repeat. It’s not a bulletproof strategy, but I just need this theme to happen once more, and then it can switch from being a rule to being a plan of action!  Of course, each time I do this, I refine my training schedule to be more lenient. But, that’s just for running. It was only when friends/family said something that I decided I wouldn’t ride 45-60 miles on the road bike on Saturday!

Instead of going on a long road ride with collegiate team members from all over Philly, I rode my bike over to Penn State’s Abington campus, to help out at a FIRST ‘VEX’ competition. I wanted to keep it secret, but I had seriously never given VEX a chance. In short, VEX is a less-challenging version of the FIRST Robotics competition that I mentor and take part in for. Instead of building a 130-lb machine, with lots of machined parts and lots of specifications and challenges, VEX bots are simpler. The founders of FIRST decided that they’d open up their program for middle-school and younger-than-high shool students by allowing them to design robots out of a parts kit that can be purchased from Radio Shack. Because it was simpler, I didn’t give it a chance. But now, I see how awesome it is! It still has the same exciting, crazy, and yet supportive atmosphere that the pits at the FRC competitions. But, the competition I was at was much harder to stay separated at. A small space and larger ratio of students:teacher made for a really cool place where it was often that I saw kids really immersed in repairs/programming/strategizing. At the robotics competitions that I am usually part of, it is as likely that you’d see kids goofing off than it is to see them in the thick of the learning and fun. This always made me sad in some ways. I was really glad to see young kids who didn’t need older people telling them what and how to do things. And VEX is a perfect stepping-stone for the “big show” of the high school competition.

The field is small, and so is the visibility!

The field is small, and so is the visibility!

Perfect placement for a match.

Perfect placement for a match.

You can score points by picking up and moving cubes.

You can score points by picking up and moving cubes.

If you would like more information about FIRST robotics (VEX or Robotics) visit FIRST Robotics’ Website . Or, of course, ask me! I know many of the coaches and robotics teams in the Philadelphia/PA/NJ region.     And to lament: there will not be a robotics competition taking place at the Drexel gym this year, while there’s substantial work being done to the athletic center. I’m not even sure if it will ever return to that venue! And I have never volunteered for it! Or have I, and I just forget? This is, after all, my 8th or 9th year in robotics. Woohooo!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season, and that they are enjoying the colder weather in our midst!

-Doug

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Entry filed under: cycling, FIRST Robotics.

I rode 26 miles on Friday! Fall term is over; grades are in!

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