Yesterday saw a mass desertion for a while here at the Aspen Center for Physics. Howie Haber (UCSC) organized a large group (twenty-two) of participants (and some of their guests) of the program entitled “LHC: Beyond the Standard Model Signals in a QCD Environment” (info here), to go for a group lunch at the excellent Pine Creek Cookhouse, 12 miles away up Castle Creek Road. And, I should mention, 1700 or so feet up. The latter is significant since about two thirds of us, led by Howie, cycled up there! It takes a while (times ranged from 1 hr 20 minutes to about 30 – 40 minutes more than that), and there are about two or three major long, punishing hills to deal with, but it was worth it!
Here are some (not all) of the cyclists at the destination (restaurant is a low-slung cabin-style affair out of shot to the right). Howie, our organizer, is in the middle at the front. (Click for larger view):
(Er, for the record, I’m slightly embarrassed by wearing socks with my sport sandals – a personal no-no – but I wanted to protect my feet from 12 miles of pedalling friction, so made an exception.)
Here are some random shots of happy arrivals (click each for larger):
Here are the two tables we had inside (click either for larger view):
I won’t try to name everyone (if you’d like to have a go to test your knowledge of some of the great and the good in particle phenomenology, go right ahead in the comments), for fear of making unfortunate mistakes.
Finally, just for fun, here’s a little video of bits of the wonderfully thrilling descent after lunch. It’s coasting most of the way at high speed around some wet (it rained just before we set out) bends. I joined Patrick Fox (Fermilab) and Tilman Plehn (CERN, Edinburgh) on the way down and got them to wave at the camera as we sped along.
That was fun – with excellent lunch and conversation as a bonus!
An interesting side note about judging a book by its cover. My usual struggle to get people to open their minds about bike wheel-size continues. You’ve read previous posts about the Brompton (pictured right) several times (click here for some). People just assume that there’s going to be something wrong because it does not look like a standard bike. Everybody seems to look at it and just decide arbitrarily that it is somehow not a “serious” bike, and that clearly “those small wheels” are somehow a problem. So I explain patiently that the gear was invented a very long time ago and that the so-called standard wheel size is not much more than a convention. For most things people do with bikes everyday, those standard wheels are just unnecessarily large, really, and there’s no direct relation between wheel size and speed or ability to climb a grade. This never really helps (although I’m happy to say that physicists tend -though not always- to get it immediately once I explain).
To my personal amusement, I’ve encountered a number of cyclists with all their fancy biking gear while at Aspen who say well-meaning but, frankly, patronizing things about “how well I’m doing with those cute small wheels”, only to find me staying with them for a long way, or passing them. Yesterday was a lot of fun in that regard. I resisted the temptation to ring my cheerful little bell as I went by when it happened a couple of times.