Category Archives: Sports

The Ex-Cubs Factor, Revisited


There’s a belief that a baseball team with more than three former Chicago Cubs is unable to win the World Series.  This paper is an attempt to analyze the actual facts from the Baseball Data Bank and see whether that’s in fact true.

Spoiler:  It’s not true.  The Pittsburgh Pirates are, in fact, the Worst Team Ever.

The project was built in Python via an iPython Notebook, using the Seaborn plotting library to help visualize some of the statistical inferences.

The Iceman Cometh

The Iceman Cometh is a key of the Midwest mountain biking scene, an even with hundreds of entries over thirty miles of course in unpredictable weather.  Entrants are sorted into waves based on their performance in previous races.  I was interested in understanding how the wave start impacted conditions along the course as faster riders overtook slower ones, so took the race data and visualized it first as a simple shiny app.  Once I colored each wave differently, processing time became very slow, so I took individual PNGs of each frame of the analysis and made a video instead.

I also wanted (very badly) to know how my performance was likely to compare to other women entered in the event so gathered results for women and faceted them year-over-year.  Vertical bars mark quartiles. (2014 was an appallingly bad weather year).icewomen

Data gathered from the Iceman site and mmba member bjbonner

Touring the Tour of Sufferlandria

An overview of a virtual cycling race, helping riders understand how much effort they expended; how this international event unfolded over time; and comparing their efforts to others’.  I also took an exploratory look at how event participants’ post-event performance compared to those of people who had not taken part.  This deserves more investigation.

Data sourced from via python scripting, processed in R, published via


Ingredient #1

The first, foremost thing you need in order to write a race report is, um, a race. And I finally, after 18 months of cowardice and lame excuses, have one to report. In order to make it happen, I knew I had to keep the pressure low – I decided to tackle a little sprint triathlon, one that was just a weekday night frolic, one where nobody knew me.

Of course, in order to do that, I had to either race with a paper bag on my head (impedes oxygen uptake like you wouldn’t believe, and totally not aero) or find a race that was about 4000 km away. So I did. Continue reading Ingredient #1


It’s been a long winter. You would be forgiven for thinking I was so badly scarred by Tour de Vic last year that I went and hid under a rock for six months, and you wouldn’t be far wrong.  I kind of fell apart after that ride and stopped training much, except for a last fling at the Tour de Foothills with Mom in November.  With all the time I recovered from training, I rediscovered the joys of drinking beer with friends.  And baking and eating bread.  And cookies.  And what my scale looks like when it’s begging for mercy.  And why you shouldn’t wear argyle cycling shorts that are one size too small.  (the warping of the check pattern graphically demonstrates how the shorts are being stretched.)

Anyway, I resolved to pull myself together and started training with Clint Lien and Mercury Rising Triathlon.  It’s been great.  I’m back to running (slowly), cycling (slowly) and swimming (less slowly, thanks to a great clinic with Clint and Coach Tenille Hoogland).  Travel and the usual plague of minor injuries and bugs has punched a few holes in the schedule, but on the whole, I’m back into OK condition.

So, Clint finally noticed that although I was training, I kind of hadn’t registered for any races and I had to admit to him that I’m, um, afraid of racing.  I hate racing.  But we agreed that I should do the Shawnigan Lake Olympic tri to get back into the swing of things. I knew all the right things to tell myself.  “Just getting going again.  Just train through it. You won’t be fast, but nobody cares but you.”

Continue reading Chicken

Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria 2013

Times-Colonist Photo.   Photograph by: Steve Smith
Times-Colonist Photo. Photograph by: Steve Smith

Yesterday was the third annual Tour de Victoria, the brainchild of our local Giro d’Italia champion, Ryder Hesjedal.  I’ve wanted to do this in previous years but didn’t for very good reasons, like an impending world championship race of my own, or just not being trained for the distance.  This year, I hemmed and hawed all summer, leaning “against” as September passed and I spent far too much time travelling and far too little on my bike. So, I did the clever thing and asked people who were well-trained for the distance and very excited about the Tour whether I should do it. Well, duh.  I entered the 140km event, which loops through Metchosin and around the Peninsula.

Our glorious summer ended with a cold stop on yesterday’s equinox.  Really cold.  It was showering lightly before the start of the race ride and went downhill from there (“This is not a race, it is a mass-participation cycling event,” said the announcer.  “Riiiiiight,” murmured the crowd of MAMILs.[1]) Continue reading Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria 2013

Lost in Surburbia

Garden of the Gods, a public park famous for i...
Garden of the Gods (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in Colorado Springs this week, and I might as well be on a different planet than the place I visited two weeks ago. Besides the tremendous damage done to the area by torrential rains and flooding during the week I was back at home, I couldn’t be staying in more different parts of the city.  The plush luxury of The Broadmoor and the post-apocalyptic feel of Colorado Springs’ northernmost exurb are joined only by views of the Rockies and the wonderfully weird natural megaliths of the Garden of the Gods.

I’ve felt unsettled all week.  Cherwell’s offices are in an area that must have taken a pummelling in the crash of ’08.  Huge sweeping six-lane roads to nowhere have the occasional office building or hotel dotted alongside.  The shells of buildings abandoned mid-construction are haunting.  I didn’t bring a bike along, so have been confined to pitiful little runs.  Each of them has begun on half-built suburban roads that peter out into two-track through rolling pasture.  The old post-and-rail fences are there, but the cows are gone. Continue reading Lost in Surburbia