Archive: September 24, 2023
Archive: September 24, 2022
Archive: September 24, 2021
Archive: September 14, 2020
Sowell often hits the nail on the head, but here he pounds it directly through the wood.
Almost every single thing on the liberal agenda will likely worsen the conditions it is intended to help. I often wonder if this is deliberate - Machiavellian power grabbing - but per Occam's Razor perhaps there is just a failure to draw apt conclusions from prior experiments.
Checking back in ... sorry, I've been busy. And also sort of hunkered down.
So so glad that Le Tour is taking place, albeit pushed back by a couple of months. With all the compromises it's still a fantastic event and has been great watching. Of course it doesn't hurt that "my team" Jumbo Visma are in yellow...
Asking the important questions: Will I ever buy clothing again?
You guys all knew this, but I did not; the supercool Flight Radar 24 website. Every plane in the air in realtime.
Here we have the 20 most extreme places on Earth. Make a list, visit them all. Awesome!
Book of the day: You look like a thing and I love you. "How artificial intelligence works and why it's making the world a weirder place." Noted.
Department of intended consequences: California judge rules Uber, Lyft must classify drivers as employees.
NASA: Seven things to know about the Perseverance Mars Rover. Good to know. I hope it has the same perseverance as Spirit and Opportunity!
News you could use, if only the people who claim to use science actually, um, used science: Why green energy is impossible. Of all the contradictory agenda items on the liberal agenda, this is the least easily explained by Occam's Razor. Surely at least some of the supporters of green energy know it's a sham?
Oh, and Tonopah solar files for bankruptcy in the great implosion.
Meanwhile, SpaceX changes the game with 100th rocket launch. The first polar launch from Florida in more than 50 years. And ho hum, the first stage was landed afterward and will be reused.
Archive: September 11, 2019
Now more than ever
Archive: September 11, 2018
what happened, and what we are up against
Archive: September 11, 2017
I will never forget
I hope none of us do
We must remain ever vigilant
Freedom is not free
Archive: September 11, 2016
Wow, 9/11, again. I will certainly never forget, as must we all not, for the evil philosophy which drove the horrible events of that day is with us still. We must be ever vigilant to defend our ways of life against those who would take them away.
I have a calm quiet day; the biggest challenge I face will be riding my bike up a steep mountain. I will worry only about how to make great things happen in the future, for my family and my business, and not about how to avoid bad things happening in the present.
But I will not forget the recent past, and I hope you will not, either.
Archive: September 11, 2015
taken at the beautiful 9-11 memorial
the reflections were an amazing serendipity
Archive: September 21, 2014
Checking in after another long weekend ... (coding away over here :) ...
I had a good time today taking a few hours out to redesign this awesome iPhone 5 gear case... Made it thinner and lighter, and eliminated a seam. I really like Tinkercad, what a great tool. And how cool that it's free ... could see such a powerful tool costing $500, easily.
This looks cool: the Apple Watch box, reimagined as a charging station. I love the creativity people display in these situations... there was a lot of work that went into these awesome Photoshops.
Remember I was wondering what happened to the desktop apps? Well here's an example of the strong trend in the other direction: Wolfram Mathematica now works in your browser. Will the UI be as good as Mathematica on the desktop? I doubt it. Will it be as fast, or as responsible? Almost seems like it can't be. And yet this the trend, everything has to be cloud-hosted and available in a browser. Pretty soon we'll all be running Chrome OS because that's all we need.
Showdown at the Four Seasons. "It all started with the decision to remove a Picasso curtain." As so many showdowns do :)
Seth Godin: What everyone reads. "Everyone used to read the morning paper because everyone did. Everyone used to read the selection of the book of the month club, because everyone did. And everyone used to watch the same TV shows too. It was part of being not only informed, but in sync... Today, of course, that's awfully unlikely." Well... everyone does read my blog :)
The evolution of flying ships. Hydrofoiling is awesome!
Dave Winer: the lost art of software testing. Not entirely lost, but certainly under-emphasized. Interestingly this trend we've been talking about with desktop applications moving to the web exacerbates the under emphasis; with cloud-hosted applications it's easier to fix bugs on the fly.
SpaceX launches cargo ship to International Space Station, including its first 3D printer. Hehe, excellent. Now they can make their own iPhone 5 gear cases! :)
Grandmaster clash. "One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed." A great story about a great cast of characters. Chess is interesting if only for the personalities of the world's best players.
MG Siegler outlines The Plan to Save Radio Shack. "My plan to revive RadioShack would be to harken back to the old days with a twist of the way things currently are. I'd create an 'Apple Store for everything.'" Definitely worth a try... but curating "everything" to find great stuff is not easy.
Archive: September 11, 2013
Hi all; I'm emerging from my Facebook-induced sabbatical from blogging to post on 9/11; I will never forget, as must we all not do, so as to honor those who died that day and also preserve everything we have and want.
The picture at right is of the most excellent 9/11 tribute on the giant front lawn of Pepperdine University in Malibu; a flag for everyone who died, including foreign flags representing those from other countries. Standing among the flags blowing around gives you chills, as you realize that each flag represents an ended life, and also how great it is to be standing there, alive, enjoying a beautiful fall day.
Last year on 9/11 I posted a tribute (after just having flown back from the Czech Republic!), and in so doing thought maybe it would prompt me to start blogging again. That didn't happen; a year has passed and I've posted ... three times. Yikes! So this year I'm flying to Colorado today (why must I always be in the air on 9/11?), and I'm again thinking maybe it will prompt me to restart blogging. We'll see... in the meantime, let's all take a minute and never forget.
Archive: September 11, 2012
Hi blog public; I'm back?
I haven't posted here in ... wow, five months (I have continued posting on my Facebook in the meantime) ... but couldn't resist posting a 9-11 tribute today.
Maybe this will loosen my "posters block" and I'll get back into blogging. Stay tuned :)
At right, my favorite picture from my just-completed visit to Prague, Czech Republic, of Prague Castle with St. Vitus Catherdral, and the Karlov Most in the foreground.
Some stuff which has happened:
- Moved to Westlake Island
- Started a daily view from the bridge, following bike rides
- Celebrated leap day
- Visited Vancouver: USCAP conference
- Went sailing in the Caribbean (fourteen days, seven islands)
- Attended conference in San Jose: ATA conference
- Began following the baby geese
- Rode Breathless Agony (114 miles, 12,000 feet)
- Spectated Amgen Tour of California, Mount Baldy stage
- Visited Venice, Sweden, and Munich, conferences, customers, and symposia
- Started something new; still cooking, stay tuned for [much] more :)
- Enjoyed my Megan, wow
- Sailed Round the Island race and C-15 nationals, yay
- Kept riding to the beach
- Enjoyed Le Tour de France, as always
- Watched the London Olympics
- Cheered as Curiosity landed on Mars
- Felt amazing as Aperio agreed to be acquired by Leica (
not celebrating yet okay can celebrate now :)
- Raced the Hoodoo 500 (517 miles, 34,000 feet), and finished!
- Czeched out Prague: and ECP conference
This is a picture of the World Trade Center site, with the new Freedom tower which is under construction. I think this is an entirely fitting tribute, I love that the site itself won't be built on, but instead will remaind dedicated to the memory of 9-11. We must never forget and remain ever vigilant.
As those of you following me on my Facebook know I've been in Prague, Czech Republic, and actually flew back yesterday, which was already 9/11 in Europe, and wow flying on 9/11 really brought back memories from 11 years ago.
Archive: September 23, 2011
Blogging from Vacaville, CA, where I find myself to ride in the Knoxville Double Century tomorrow, after a nice dinner at The Mustard Grill in Davis (I *love* Davis, BTW, what a great little college town). Anyway.
So last week was my first week back, and this week was my first "real" week back, with projects and assignments and deadlines and deliverables, and interactions with colleagues and partners and customers. It was weird to be back, and great. I suspect the weirdness will wear off and I hope the greatness doesn't :)
I have lots to blog about, and while I have to sleep I'm not sleepy, so here goes...
How excellent is this? Public solves protein structure. "Players of an online game that allows users to adjust how proteins are folded have solved a decade-long protein structure mystery." Turn anything into a game and you can harness a lot of human energy; remember SETI@home? Wow.
Good advice: avoid boolean "traps" in an API. Don't you love it when you're reading code and see: doSomething(false); and you're like, is this going to do it or not? Much better to use an enum so you have doSomething(faster);
An interesting take on the perils of automated memory management, from my colleague Ed. "The moral here is; you can't just assume that resource use is not an issue you will have to tackle in a managed application." Amen. I'm glad to see the younger generation (*cough*) doesn't necessarily buy into the whole managed code story. I look forward to great things from Ed, not only is he an excellent engineer, he's off to a great start as a blogger :)
Reading this prompted me to head back into my Archive to find: managed memory leaks, a most excellent foaming rant from three years ago.
I can confirm Ready Player One is a fantastic book. I'm reading it now - on my iPhone using the Kindle App - and can hardly put it down. I'm not even an 80's video game fanatic, but I love all the references anyway. Check it out!
BTW this is a great book to read on an iPhone with the Kindle App, because I could readily Wikipedia any obscure references I didn't know. Added a lot of texture to be able to see all the mech warrior robots, for example :)
Some people look at something like webvi and ask why?, I look at it and say awesome!
Back in the day when I did lots of *ix programming (AIX if you must know) I used vi a lot, and I came to dislike it a lot, and I actually wrote my own editor called ice, full-screen on dumb terminals. I don't use ice anymore, but somehow I still find myself using vi ... to edit ksh scripts :) If you are reading this, there's a script somewhere which still works because of it.
I'm loving IOS 5 but hating a bug which causes me to "lose" pictures I take directly after double-clicking the iPhone's home button. Don't know whether I can trust it - such as when doing a long ride. Blech. Tried this advice to fix iPhone Camera Roll corruption but didn't help entirely. Tried reloading the whole thing; stay tuned to see if that helped. If you have any suggestions I'm open to them (TIA).
BTW, do you recognize TIA? It's a TLA I use often...
Way cool! IBM's Watson to offer medical advice to doctors. "IBM has inked a deal with health insurer WellPoint that will let the latter use the technology behind "Jeopardy"-playing computer Watson to suggest patient diagnoses and treatments. WellPoint hopes the technology will help improve the quality of patient care and help reduce costs." Even more useful than playing chess or jeopardy!
Remember how 3D was going to take over the world? What happened? Here are four theories. Personally I think the technology is amazing, but you *still* need a good story. Paging Pixar :)
Joel Spolsky answers the tough questions: Should you launch at a conference? (his answer: yes)
Did you see Netflix' interesting news? They're splitting off their historical DVD rental business into a separate company called Qwixster, and concentrating on the online video rental business. Seems like a great move, albeit communicated a bit ineffectively. MG Siegler's thinks this is a lesson for Microsoft. Huh.
So Windows 8 has been announced - I actually have it running in a VM right now (!) - and Axel Raushmayer reviews the keynote at which it was announced, so you don't have to. A great overview. I'm struck by the dual nature of the OS; it feels like Windows 7 with the "Metro" UI glued on the front. And Metro Apps look and feel nothing whatever like Windows Apps. I get what they're trying to do, but I wonder if it makes sense. Maybe having a 100% Metro OS (only) for mobile devices would be better...
In case you're wondering, no, I don't like the new Facebook changes. What was wrong with displaying my friends' updates in chronological order? That made so much sense. Now I have to pick around more to make sure I didn't miss anything. I get that there are people with 1,000 "friends" who each post 100 status updates every hour, and who need this kind of filtering, but I'm not one of them. Blech.
Wow this could be big: Google Wallet, confirmed. Everyone wants to use their phone as a credit card, but this isn't as groundbreaking as you might think; notice the Mastercard logo, because this payment system still uses the same infrastructure as credit cards. Will be most interesting to see how much traction this gets among merchants.
Funniest analogies: "Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever."
And finally this: "An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one tells the bartender he wants a beer. The second one says he wants half a beer. The third one says he wants a fourth of a beer. The bartender puts two beers on the bar and says 'You guys need to learn your limits'." ∞
(awesome poster on the wall of Megan's French teacher's classroom :)
Archive: September 12, 2010
I am reloading after a great weekend; slept in (what a luxury), went mountain biking, saw Pat Benatar with all my girls (Megan's first concert!), and brunched at the Lake, with useful amounts of uninterrupted work time in between. I needed that! Just wish I had another day just like it... and man I have a busy schedule; Vista next week, Boston + Baltimore the week after, Chicago the week after that. You may never hear from me again :)
...but I will squeeze in a filter pass while I can...
Seeing Pat Benatar was awesome... and the Canyon Club is a perfect venue, an intimate dive with the perfect ambiance for this kind of show. Pat hasn't lost her kick; check out this video of "Heartbreaker". And her husband Neil Giraldo (aka "Spyder") still has a blazing guitar. Coolest thing was being able to shoot this video with my Pre phone in realtime, and then immediately upload it to Facebook, while I was there. It isn't HD but the technology to do this at all is amazing.
A highlight from the show was Invincible, which Pat introduced nicely, alluding to 9/11; "we can't afford to be innocent, it's a do or die situation, we will be Invincible". Chills.
It was a quiet 9/11, huh? And a quiet 9/12, too... there were remembrances and tributes, but it was all rather muted. I know I will never forget. Let's hope we all don't, collectively.
I liked Gerard Vanderleun's remembrance, including that fabulous New Yorker cover from Sept, 24, 2001...
Glen Reynolds had a nice little collection of links, too.
This is awesome: the Rotterdam Football Club's headquarters. How cool is that?
I have not really been following the Vuelta, but I see where Carlos Barredo won stage 15 up the famous Lagos de Covadonga climb. I remember it well! Looks like Vincenzo Nibali has a 4s lead over Joaquim Rodriquez in the overall GC. So be it.
Telemedicine is totally becoming a reality; Randall Parker considers the possibilities of teleanesthesia. Like other specialists the logistics of having anesthesiologists present makes scheduling surgeries more difficult. Perhaps someday an entire surgery will be conducted remotely. For sure digital pathology is making remote intraoperative consultations feasible!
The other night Shirley and I watched "Killers", quite possibly the silliest movie of all time. (Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 0% :) The plot made no sense, the characters were cardboard cutouts ... and yet, it was fun. Watching Katherine Heigl is always fun (!) and Shirley would say the same about Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara was great, and best of all the entire opening took place at the Hotel du Cap in Cap d'Antibes, France. What can I say, mindless entertainment, but at least it wasn't pretentious...
We continue to enjoy our "old" AppleTV, which is perfect for impulse buying movies; we were watching within five minutes of having had the idea.
Motto for the week: Two weirds don't make a normal. Cheers!
Archive: September 24, 2009
Archive: September 24, 2008
My virus breeding program continues successfully, and my temperature continues to hover around 100o. My thermostat is not functional, I ping between sweating and freezing. My brain is barely functional (even less than normal). Crap!
And I'm supposed to be at the College of American Pathologists conference in San Diego, hanging out with customers and colleagues, and learning a lot and having a good time. Instead, this. Crap.
While Tim Oren was out, our financial system went missing. Lots of good links to explanations about what is going on and how it happened...
I really feel bad about this Lance Armstrong thing. So he has now announced that he is joining Astana, and as you would expect Alberto Contador is hesitant to ride with him. Who can blame him? It would have been so much better for Lance to form a new team, with his connections and PR he could have recruited sponsors easily and started a whole new operation centered on him. Instead I believe this makes the best team in the world weaker. A team with Kloden, Leipheimer, and Contador does not need another leader.
Wired runs these great articles from interesting dates in the past, and goes back to September 24, 1993, when Myst was first released. Boy do I remember that. I had a Mac 6100 (first PowerPC machine, remember?) and I loved every second of Myst. It was a completely new thing, a new world inside a computer. I know, it doesn't hold a candle to today's games, but it was so new. I also remember eagerly anticipating Riven, the sequel, and although Riven was great, it wasn't as great. Maybe it just wasn't as new...
The article makes the point - well taken - that Myst not only sold 6 million copies, but it also drove sales of countless CD-ROM drives. I well remember the era of PCs with external CD-ROM drives, don't you :)
Want to know what pisses me off? Check this out: Students are always half right in Pittsburgh. "Pittsburgh Public Schools officials have enacted a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work. District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying." Ebony Pugh is an idiot. If kids don't try, they fail. Period.
Inhabitat notes the amazing Cathedral of Christ the Light, in Oakland.
It is wonderful!
Liron Shapira on the Singularity Summit 2008. It defies synopsis, please click through to read his description.
Don Reisinger says Windows 7 must appeal to geeks, or else. I keep saying it over and over, but they won't listen, there is only one thing Windows 7 must be in order to be successful: fast. That's it! If it is faster than Vista, faster than XP, then it will succeed. If it is a pig like Vista, it will fail.
I'm not an iPhone developer, but I've been following the weirdness surrounding Apple's heavy-handedness with iPhone developers pretty closely. Brett Simmons says it is Beneath Apple and John Gruber is starting to get The Fear. Particularly striking in contrast to the wide-open approach Google is taking with Android...
Archive: September 9, 2007
So I was in Spain on business, so I decided to visit the Vuelta. Stage 4, one of the nastiest climbs the Pro Tour ever rides, from Cangas des Onis to the Lagos de Covadonga. And yes, I rode it myself.
Here’s my report...
[ Note: this post was retroactively added on 6/13/08 ]
The day began on Sunday Sept 2 as I participated in the third consecutive day of the
C-15 North American Championships in Long Beach (the C-15 is a small racing
sailboat). We finished eighth (I was crewing for a friend of mine’s son),
a respectable performance. From there I drove to LAX and discovered that
I’d forgotten my passport. Bad Ole. Shirley rescued me by
heroically driving it down to me (yes, she took the Maserati, and no, she
didn’t get a ticket). Next came a nice little 10½ hour flight on Air
France to Paris, which landed nearly an hour late. So I missed my
connection to Madrid. So I was rebooked onto another flight an hour
later. It arrived on time, but because it was a later flight I nearly
missed my connection to Oviedo (in Asturias, along the Northern Coast of Spain;
yes of course Spain has a Northern Coast). Picture me running through the
airport, chasing a little French Air France representative who is running fast
in her high heels. Okay. So I did make the flight to Oviedo, but my
luggage did not. It is now late Monday night and I have only the clothes
on my back. (There’s a lot more to the luggage story, but it isn’t
directly relevant to the Vuelta stage, so I’ll skip most of it. It does
have a happy ending.)
I rent a Hertz car, a Peugeot 170 which is the world’s smallest four-dour diesel.
(Really cute and snappy to drive, but a bit loud and rattley.) Along with
the car came a “NeverLost” – a portable Magallen GPS, which I have previously
found to be a godsend everywhere but especially in foreign countries with
roundabouts instead of intersections. The NeverLost comes in a foam bag
filled with crap. I pulled out the NeverLost, plugged it in, and
discovered it didn’t work. No findie the satellites, no
workie. So now I need maps, but I am in the middle of nowhere (Oviedo
airport is way outside of Oviedo). I decided to drive into downtown
Oviedo to hopefully get a WiFi signal so I could hopefully use Google Maps to
find my way. So that worked. (A lot of detail removed here.)
And I made it to the small town of Cangas de Onis, in Asturias, the site of my
Why Cangas de Onis? Well it is just outside a huge Spanish national park called the
“Picos de Europa”, aka Tips of Europe. This park is appropriately named,
there are some big ass mountains there. And in those mountains is an old
Catholic monastery called Covadonga. A little winding mountain road takes
you from Cangas de Onis up to Covadonga, and if you continue on the winding
mountain road it goes up and up and up and eventually takes you to some small
lakes near the tallest peak, called the Lagos de Covadonga. And it
happens that Stage 4 of the Vuelta finished with the climb to the Lagos de
Covadonga (see, the Vuelta was going to come into the story eventually :)
Stage 4 took place on Tuesday Sept 4. I arrived in Cangas de Onis at 3:00 AM on
Tuesday Sept 4. I found the hotel (whew!), checked in, took a shower, and
took off again. This was going to be a busy day, exacerbated by my lack
of luggage and lack of GPS. (BTW in case you’re wondering WiFi has not
made it to Cangas de Onis yet. If it ever does.) And yes if you’re
keeping track I have not slept yet. I knew there would be no shops open
in Oviedo until 9:00 AM and the drive back to Oviedo was about two hours, so I
had some time to kill. Not enough time to sleep, but enough time to drive
up the Lagos climb.
I found the road to Covadonga, and along the way I saw piles and piles of barricades, ready
to block the road. But not blocking the road yet. So I drove up the
climb. HFS what a climb. About 15km at about 10%, but some sections
are much steeper. My little Peugeot diesel was tested. And did I
mention this is a winding road? It took me an hour, which means I
averaged 15km/h up the hill in my car. It was still dark outside
but not too dark to notice the lack of fences and the fact that cattle roamed
freely. None of the banners for the race were up yet, and I began to
doubt I was even on the right road, but then near the top I began passing little
clusters of motor homes wedged into the sides of the road. More and
more. Until finally at the very top, which was very high, and very
exposed, there was a bigger clump next to one of the lakes. The whole
experience was very cool but also very intimidating. I have never climbed
anything like that before, not even Mount Palomar which is 3,000 ft at 8%
(exact same as L’Alpe d’Huez by the way).
Okay, so I found the climb, yay, and now I have to find a bike and some kit. Back
down the mountain. Took nearly an hour just to get down! Then on to
Oviedo, and I get there just around 9:00 in the morning. I find my WiFi
spot again, and begin Googling for bike shops. I find three.
Sparing you a long story (and many returns to the WiFi spot), none of the three
shops rent bikes. Boo. But one of them mentioned a shop in the town
of Treverse which did. Treverse is 40km South of Oviedo. So be it,
off I go. And I get totally and completely lost. I am in the middle
of Spanish nowhere, with no map and no WiFi. I have a GPS but it doesn’t
work. It is now 11:00 and I am running out of time if I’m going to see
this stage, let alone ride it. Crap.
Wait a minute… why didn’t the GPS work? Maybe if I futz with it? OMG
there are instructions! 1) Plug in the NeverLost. 2) Plug in the
GPS antennae. The GPS antennae? Yes, the GPS antennae! In
that foam bag filled with crap I find – ta da – the GPS antennae. You
will not be shocked to hear that when I plugged it in, the GPS was able to
findie the satellite and began to workie. Yay! Man triumphant
against the elements.
Okay, so again making a long story shorter (not to say short), I found Treverse.
It is way up in the mountains, at a mountain biking resort. (Who
knew?) And they rent mountain bikes. Bike, fat, heavy, mountain
bikes. So be it. I eagerly rent a BFH mountain bike, and discover
to my amazement that it fits into the back of the Peugeot. Barely.
I have a bike, but I don’t have clothes. That’s the next problem, and in
Treverse there is nothing; they do not sell clothes. Back to Oviedo I go.
I return to the bike shop where they recommended Treverse, and buy a new kit. Nice
shorts, jersey, mountain biking shoes, socks, water bottle, the works. I
even bought some gel packs. (Please do not ask about
underwear. Just don’t.) So, yay. I am ready, with a bike and
full kit, but it is 12:30 and I am in Oviedo. This is going to be
tight. And on the road to Cangas de Onis – which is a little two-lane
that so far as had zero traffic – I encounter a massive blockage. Traffic
is backed up forever. Remember all those barricades? They have now
What to do? Well, I make a U turn, and use my mad navigation skillz (the
NeverLost) to plot a return to Cangas de Onis from the other side, where
there is nothing. This requires a massive detour all the way to the
ocean, East along the coast, and then down some back roads. Time is
passing, and I am racing down the highways in my little Peugeot as fast as it
will go (for the record, about 150km/h). And it works! I make it
back to Cangas de Onis on a back road, and park near my hotel. It is now
3:00. I’m pretty sure the peloton has not made it through town yet and
onto the climb, but I don’t know if I’ll be in time to ride up all the way
before they do.
So I change into my new kit, assemble the BFH bike, fill my bottle, and I’m off! Did
I mention this bike was big, fat, and heavy? Well, it was. I
probably didn’t mention that the gears didn’t work, because I didn’t discover
that until this moment. Oh no, Mr. Bill, no gears! Well kind of
gears, because although the front derailleur is hopelessly wedged, at least it
is wedged on the small ring, and the back derailleur does sort of work.
At least I can get into the granny, and stay there. Whew.
So I’ll make a long story shorter (not to say short) by saying, I made it. It was
a bitch, but I made it. It would have been a bitch on my 16 lb. Kestrel
after a good night’s sleep; on the BFH bike going into my third day with no
sleep it was harder. But it was kind of fun, because I MADE IT. The
crowds were great, too, they cheered me all the way up.
All the way up the hill had been “dressed” for the stage while I was driving around Spain
shopping. There were barricades, there were banners, there were sponsors,
there were sponsor’s representatives (very attractive ones, too :), and there
were people everywhere lining the road. Some rode in cars and vans, but
there wasn’t much room. Many rode up until they bonked, and watched from
there. Others walked. And at the top was all the stuff you’d
expect, which appeared as if by magic; the finish line, the TV booths, the
jumbotron screen, and so on.
So it took me nearly two hours to climb the hill (ave 7.5 km/h, not fast :), it was 5:00
when I got there. And just then the peleton passed through the town, you
could see and hear the crowds cheering on the jumbotron. The Spanish
announcers were going crazy. (I missed Phil and Paul, but only a
little.) There was a break of about 35 riders, which splintered
immediately. All the way up the hill there were attacks, with Vladimir
Efikin, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, and Stijn Devolder trading places.
(I was rooting for Menchov, of course; go Rabobank!) Every time Sastre
came to the front the crowds roared. You could not believe their speed up
that hill. I honestly think it took them about forty minutes, which means
they averaged 20km/h. I know they did it faster than I did in the
Peugeot, let alone on my BFH bike. With about 3k to go Efimkin got a
gap and pressed it hard, and poof he was gone, leaving the other three to
battle for second. Scant minutes later the convoy of helicopters and cars
and motorcycles blew through, followed by Efimkin. Yay!
It took the rest of the peloton another forty minutes or so to dribble through,
progressively slower and with less intensity, until finally the massive autobus
with like 100 rides slowly ground through the finish. Whew.
Anyway that’s what happened, please enjoy the pics I took below...
My mighty steed. The worlds smallest four-dour diesel. Cute? Yes.
Peppy? Yes. Smooth? Well…
what a Big, Fat, Heavy mountain bike looks like in the back of a Peugeot
107. Yes it fits. Barely.
My trusty NeverLost, guiding me on the back route to Cangas de Onis. Note the
bundle of wire which connects the GPS antennae. This turns out to be
The view out the window, driving from Oviedo to Santander along the Northern Shore of
Asturias. Truly some of the most beautiful seacoast I’ve ever seen.
I didn’t enjoy it as much as I might have, since I was in a hurry…
The Covadonga River, with Cangas de Onis in the background. My hotel was the
tall white building in the middle. The mountains are to your right.
The main street of Cangas de Onis. This was at about 3:00, about 1½ hours before
the peloton arrived.
Exiting the town - a sign that I am on the right track!
The start of the climb. Looks innocent, doesn’t it?
Some beauty – the Rio Covadonga – while I can still enjoy it.
The barricades have begun. And off in the distance, another sign!
Further off in the distance, mountains. Way off right now :P
More signs! All the team buses had to park at the bottom of the hill – no room
on the hill itself for them. After the race each of the riders had to
coast back down the hill to get to their team cars, which then took them back
to their buses.
Young cycling fans, clapping for me :)
Getting more and more serious – barricades and policemen. The road here is a mere
4%, hardly even a climb. Except on a BFH bike.
Getting close to the monastery!
First sighting of Covadona! And it is here that the road becomes a climb,
suddenly. 6-7%, yuk. With 12km to go.
Getting closer! The church is massive and beautiful. And right about here
the road flattens a bit and there’s some parking lots…
Yeah, baby! Disco. I hated these guys for their not big not fat not heavy
bikes. Okay, back to riding.
The climb really starts with those barricades. Behind me is the church, ahead of me
Looking across at Covadonga. How did they get all that stone up here? Whew.
About 8% right here. See that guy on the mountain bike? I caught him.
On my BFH bike. He was not pleased :)
More riders, this guy has an Astana cape. He must be sad because Astana aren’t
even racing this year, after Vino won the whole thing last year. The
foliage here is beautiful.
Only 10km to go! Easy. Except for the 10% part. Note the angle of the
banners. They’re hanging straight down.
Yay, only 9km left. I am really flagging by this time, wondering if I can make
it. The climb seems endless.
First sighting of a team car! And I made it to 8km. It is still
8-9% here, not easy at all.
The road emerges from the forest, and the terrain becomes rocky. And the road
continues upward… I caught this guy on a road bike. I really think
the other riders inspired me to keep going, I kept hoping they would notice how
crappy my bike was as I passed them :) However I got passed a lot, too,
sometimes by guys who were really strong. But there’s still 7km to
The road ahead. If you look closely you can see it sloping up from left to right.
A disheartening sight.
Yay, 6km. Whew. This is ONLY THE HALFWAY POINT up the serious part of
the climb. Once you realize that, you realize you’re getting your butt
kicked by the mountain today. But then you realize if you actually do
make it all the way, it will be cool. So you continue…
I took my first break here, and turned around to take some pictures. WOW!
That valley way down there is where Cangas de Onis is located. Amazing
what you can do on a bike. This energized me.
Not all the spectators are human. Lots of bulls roaming them thar hills. I must
say they seem pretty unconcerned with the invasion.
Wow, only 5km to go! This seems like progress, until I remember that most of the
toughest climbs I’ve done were only about 5km. You can see the road
continues on upward, there off in the distance. Although the pitch here
is a mere 6-7%.
Okay, now we’re really getting high. And we have 5km to go. Whew.
A quick look back. That’s the 5km banner off in the distance. You can get
some idea of the steepness from this.
Yikes! That 6-7% suddenly became about 15%. Now this is NOT FAIR. Ouch.
The 4km banner. The section between 5km and 4km was the worst. Fortunately
as I recall from my reconnaissance this morning, there is an actual downhill
section coming up. I can’t wait.
Looking back from the 4km banner. Check out that valley off in the distance!
And the climb!!
Here’s the crest of the climb, just before the downhill respite. A crowd has
gathered. These guys ALL have better bikes than I do :)
The view over the lip. Wow. That’s just about all I can say.
There’s Covadonga! It was about 8km ago. And about 3,000 ft, too.
Wow. (I’m saying that a lot, huh?)
No pictures of the little descent, sorry. But it ends all too soon, and the climb
resumes. And now we have FOG. Wow, isn’t that special. It is
actually getting a bit nippy.
There was a particularly nasty little section, after climbing it I had to stop and recover.
Which gave these guys a chance to catch up :) Seriously they were
moving slow. But I know the feeling, I was moving slower. Actually
zig-zagging to make it up, that section must have been 15%+.
When those guys caught me, I asked them to take my picture, and they did. Here you
can see my BFH mountain bike in all its glory, along with my brand new kit (and
brand new water bottle).
A new feature – WIND. Yes it is blowing and yes this was the 3km banner, seems
to have blown away. Note the pitch here. Ouch.
I can’t even describe the section between 3km and 2km. It was agony, I was barely
ticking over the pedals. I am now fully bonked and cracked, and desperate
to make it all the way up.
Gasp. More climbing. Gasp.
Whew! I crested a climb and there was a plateau, along this little lake. Los
Lagos de Covadonga. The end is near! Well, kind of near. I’m
pretty sure I didn’t miss the 1km banner :)
Yay, here’s the view forward, you can see the 1km banner in the distance. And a
couple of team cars just passed me, the peloton must be getting close (how
close?) And note the climb after that. Serious stuff. Wow.
Yay. In fact, YAY! 1km to go. Now I know I am going to make it.
Yes I will suffer, but yes, I will make it.
Inside of 1km there are barriers all the way. Not too much of a crowd though – at
least not here…
By the shore of the lake. I’m secretly hoping to gain enough strength to make it
up the last section, which is nasty.
This is it – the finish. Just 500m to go. Onward!
300m to go. The CSC team car nearly ran me over. I am now going so slowly,
I may fall over. I am tired.
Looking down into the parking lot, those are all the TV trailers. This picture
was really an excuse to stop and rest :)
The final turn! There’s the 200m sign.
Around the turn and … on the final straight! 100m to go, coming up. Yes it is
steep here. Really steep.
Under the 100m banner, and THERE IT IS, the finish! Woo hoo.
This is as far as I got. These guys would NOT let me go through the finish.
Fooey. Oh well I made it! I made it! Yay.
Here’s what the finish line looks like with a wider view. Note the mobile TV
studio! A bit further over we have the broadcast booths. Phil and
Paul are in there somewhere, but I can’t hear them; the Spanish announcers’
call is being broadcast for the crowd.
This is my spot, carefully selected. I will have this view of the riders as they
come up the hill. Now that I’ve made it, it is time to get excited about
the race. Just about now the peloton is passing through Cangas de Onis.
They are about to do the same ride I did, about four times as fast.
From my spot I can see the jumbotron. There is a massive break of 35 riders, but
as they hit the climb that will splinter for sure. Excellent!
The helicopter view of the peloton starting the climb. They’re in that little
village next to the Rio Covadonga. Seems like about three days ago that I
was riding there myself.
The podium girls are ready. Is it worth climbing this hill to get a kiss from them?
Who can say.
Um, it is getting REALLY FOGGY. And cold. Now that I’m not riding anymore,
So – forty minutes later… and a lot of exciting racing up the climb, described in
glorious detail by two very excited Spanish announcers… we have an
Vladimir Efikim has attacked and pulled a gap, closely followed by Carlos Sastre (the
crowd favorite), Denis Menchov (my favorite), and Stijn Devolder (of Discovery
channel, who is really good and man is it a pity that Disco are folding their
tent with so many great young riders but I digress).
Here comes Efikim!
He takes one last look back to make sure nobody is catching him. Nobody is.
You can’t believe how fast he was climbing this section.
Not my best picture, I’m afraid; if you look closely you can see Efikim’s helmet as he
approached the line. He was jammin’!
Here’s the next three, about 40 seconds behind… fighting it out for second.
Menchov ended up nipping Sastre.
Next came Cadel Evans… a solid effort, keeping him in the hunt. He’s a good
TT guy and may be able to gain back the time there.
Here comes one of my new favorite riders, “the Spider”, Juan Maricio Solar, who won the
king of the mountain in this year’s tour. He’s in the red Barloworld
kit. I don’t know the AG2R rider with him.
From this point the field really dribbled across the line in small groups. Everyone
looked beat. I know how they feel. Well I know I feel beat, so I
think I know how they feel, but maybe they are more beat. After
all they were riding back when I was blundering around Northern Spain trying to
rent a bike. That already seems like a million years ago…
An interesting aspect of this race was that there was basically no room at the top
of the climb for anything except the finish line. So riders had to ride
DOWN the hill to their team cars after they finished, passing riders still
going UP the hill to the finish in the process. Here’s some shots…
And after a l o n g time, here comes the pelton!
I don’t know who this Gerolsteiner rider is, but I know exactly how he feels
To the victors go the spoils. If you were a victor on this day, you had to wait nearly
an hour for the peloton to finish, whereas the others got to ride down to the
nice warm team cars. Still, the podium girls are a good compensation.
All that remains is a steep 15km decent – a 5km ride into town – and then, SLEEP!
Here are the riders getting into their team cars…
One last view of Covadonga on the way down…
And finally, last but not least, my trusty big fat heavy mountain bike.
Archive: September 13, 2006
So, I’m in Granada, Spain, and I’m going to watch stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana, which
finishes one street over from my hotel. I want to see the last climb
of the stage, a Cat 1 climb up Alto de Monachil, a legendary black hole for
cyclists, and I ended up riding it myself. Here's a play-by-play...
[ Note: this post was retroactively added on 6/14/08 ]
First thing today I walk the streets of Granada looking to rent a bike…
The trucks are clogging all the streets, getting ready…
The city is still asleep…
The barriers are waiting to be stuck in the street…
The police are ready!
Many many many trucks. You can’t believe how many…
Hey, I found a bike shop! They have a few bikes :)
So I rent a bike. It worked! Nice bike, too, with a nice big old granny gear.
Oh, and I buy a helmet. They don’t rent them but I do want a
Okay, off we go. A quick study of the map, and now I have to find the Alto de
Monachil, a mere 30km outside the city.
The police have all the streets blocked. They wave bikes through like you’re
This bridge has barriers already. Look, I’m a tour rider!
I almost hit that blue car while looking at that girl in the red pants. Oops.
More blasting down empty streets with barriers. This is fun.
Ah, decision time. Let’s see, I want to head for Monachil. Which is
below the Alto de Monachil, as you might expect :)
Ah, there it is. See that notch in the mountains? That’s the pass to
Straight ahead is the notch. It is getting closer…
Aha, I reached the notch, and here comes Monachil. I must tell you some objects
are farther than they appear…
The valley of Monachil. The road hugs the left hillside. This is already a
tough ride, and I haven’t even reached the hill yet!
The road continues, and continues… this is what cyclists call a “false flat”; it looks
flat, but it isn’t…
Aha, the town itself. At the back of the valley. Now what?
These kids are playing a game called “Vuelta”. Yes, the road is tilting up…
The early part of the climb. I’m taking it real easy because I have no idea what is
coming. Well that’s not true I’ve studied the stage profile carefully and
I have a very good idea of what’s coming, so I’m taking it real easy.
Carretera means highway. The “hill” and “winding road” symbols are universal.
Note the barriers have begun!
If you look carefully, you can see the road ribboning up the mountain…
This part of the climb is 4%. Trivial. If you’re a pro tour rider. For
me, not trivial.
Man, it keeps going, and going, and going. By the way there is an endless stream
of cars, trucks, motorbikes, and bicycles up this hill. I’ve been waiting
for a “clean” shot as an excuse to catch my breath.
This guy passed me while I was
resting taking a picture. The road is
covered with graffiti from fans, encouraging their favorites.
I’ve been climbing steadily! That is Granada, in the haze off in the distance, with
Monachil nearer. Whoa.
4% my ass!
I think this is at least 5%. Or 20%. Feels like it.
The road passes a number of cafes. Each has bike riders lounging and
drinking. A beer would be
I passed these guys, then turned and took a picture. They don’t think it is 4% either.
Still climbing! Wow! I’m pretty sure this is the highest hill I’ve ever
climbed, and I’m not even on the hard part yet.
Definitely not 4% any more, and definitely I am not in Kansas, either. I think this
part was 6% but I forget. It is hot. It is dry. It is steep.
Barriers along a lot of the road. The road is narrow and there is a lot of nothing
over the edge.
Crap. Here comes the first 12% section. Crap.
I am oh so very glad my bike had a nice comfortable granny (low gear). I can tell
you the tour riders won’t be using this gear, but I did.
More climbing. A lot of people along the road now, even four hours before the
race. Lot’s of bike riders. Yes, this is still 10%.
Looking back – wow, I’ve climbed really high. Amazing. And still the
road continues… at about 8%. Ouch.
Oscar has his fans. These guys obviously think he won the tour, they have him in
yellow. He’s in the Vuelta but not in contention.
I saw this banner and thought I was at the top! Whew! Take my picture!!
Hmmm…. The road continues… and many of the spectators are bovine.
Hmmm… the road is climbing again. Crap.
When I saw this, I started crying. No not really but can you see the road climbing
endlessly to the horizon? At least it isn’t too steep right here.
Uh, spoke too soon. The road is tipping up again. I look at my chart, yep,
this is 8%. Crap. My legs really hurt. Back to the granny!
considerable time later… Yay I really made it. All the way.
That clump of green on the horizon in the distance is where I thought the climb
stopped, but now I am actually at the top. Wow. I am so proud of
myself. And so tired. And thirsty.
warning is not for the tour – this hill is used a lot by local riders.
are putting up the banner at the top of the climb. Yes it is still early,
about three hours to go.
have a banner. Can you guess who is sponsoring this stage? More on
that fool out of the road!
parking is plentiful!
my spot. The final turn leads to a small section which is really steep.
Not bad for the riders because they can see that they’re almost there.
But not good for the cars, more on that later. From here you can
see a lot of the stage, all the way back to that clump of green.
There is a
steady stream of cars, trucks, and bicycles. The place is gradually filling
up. This van is for a club which rode up to the top, and gets a ride down
in the van.
I took this
picture because I liked the car. No wait, I like the Illes Balears racing
the Specialized Angel! She seems to be calling me…
I’ll take a picture with you. Anything for my fans :)
I must tell
you the women here in Spain are rather astonishing. I’ve never been to
Spain before but I may have to come back.
Jersey tours organized bike tours that ride all the grand tour courses ahead of
the actual race. Every stage. Wow. Someday I’d like to do
that for the Tour de France.
1600 is when the riders were expected to crest this climb.
from my spot. Nothing yet except a steady trickle of cars and motorbikes
looks official! Lots of honking. LOTS.
Now we know they’re really coming!
I took this
picture because, well, okay I guess I really liked that guy’s camera.
is on the job.
crowd roars! A really slow police motorcycle, lights flashing,
siren wailing. This is it!
Danielson of Discovery is leading! All by himself! This is
excellent, if I could have named the rider to lead this race, it would have
next shot requires some explanation. If you look above, you’ll see the
officials are following Tom closely in their red car, like they always do.
But remember I said Ford was the sponsor? Well, the officials are
in a Ford. And remember I said this is where the road gets really steep?
Well, it does, and when the official’s car reached this corner it lost
traction and started spinning its wheels. Finally the wheels bit and
they almost ran Tom over. Now that would have been a story.
A lot of
the cars riding through were Fords, and they all had trouble with the corner,
vs. about 0% of all other cars. The crowd started yelling Olé when a Ford
would get stuck on the corner, and then spin its wheel and blast up. I
don’t think Ford got their money’s worth out of this sponsorship.
comes Alexandre Vinokourov with a couple of other riders, about fifteen seconds
back! Not a big gap but Danielson descends like a stone. He’ll need
it against the Kazak.
It is really
steep at this section. Great for viewing because even the pro riders
Here comes AlejandroValverde! He is wearing the
Gold Jersey of the Vuelta leader. But he is about 45 seconds down in the
stage, so maybe he won’t go to bed as the leader because Vino is in 2nd.
got the biggest cheer from the crowd. But judging from his position, he
was in the break and got dropped on the climb, so he’s got some work to do.
Sastre was next. Also with a bit of a gap, he was probably shed from the
break, too. I can hear Paul Sherwin now – “Looks like Carlos Sastre is in
a spot of bother….”
comes Andrey Kashechkin,
Vinokourov’s Kazak teammate who is in fourth. Also by himself.
Reading the accounts later, I understood that Kashechkin attacked on the steep part of the climb and splintered the
break, but then paid the price and dropped back himself. Still, he sprung
his teammate Vino ahead of Valverde.
Kashechkin powered by this section in a
massive gear. No granny for him!
Iban Mayo with a couple of other riders – he’s won the Vuelta before, but he
doesn’t have it this year. The crowd gives all the Basque riders (orange
shirts) a kind of low moan – not sure if it is a boo or some kind of "in" cheer.
Mayo is a
And here we
have Discovery’s Egoi Martinez, presently leading the King of the Mountains
unlike the Tour de France, leaders of classifications other than the overall
don’t wear colored jerseys. Igor is ahead of Pietro Caucchioli, his main
rival, so looks like he’s collecting points. He is hurting, though.
Pietro, about ten seconds back. Still in the KOM time doesn’t matter,
Now we have
a bunch of riders I can’t identify, because I don’t recognize them and I don’t
want to look up their numbers. Anyway the whole front of the pelton
dribbled over the hill, there was no clumping at all. That more than
anything else tells you this was a serious climb.
is from a brand new team called Relax. He didn’t look too relaxed.
And bright red, for Relax? I don’t get it.
Discovery boy crests…
recognize this guy – it’s Michael Rasmussen, aka the Chicken, winner of the
King of the Mountains in the last two Tours de France. And he rides for
Rabobank. Anyway I think he was burnt after the Tour, he hasn’t had a
strong Vuelta. Of course he’s still ahead of the majority of the field,
that’s how strong he is.
here’s a clump (that’s a technical term used in bike racing):
another… you can tell these guys are not pushing as hard or going as
good 45 minutes later, here comes the peloton!
In a hilly
race like this the also-rans form a big clump called “the bus”. The race
will drop any rider who doesn’t finish within 20% of the leader’s time, unless
there are more than 25 riders in the group. So by having a big group,
they can take their sweet time. Of course that’s relative, they all rode
100 miles in the heat and then rode up this hill, without stopping to take
that’s it for the climb, now to ride back down the Alto de Monachil and
hurry back to catch the finish. I didn’t take pictures, but it was
fun. 12% is much more fun going down than up!
town! And it only took about “that” long, too. The race has already
come by but the roads are still closed off with barriers, and bikes can ride
down them. So you can pretend you’re finishing the tour stage!
cheering me on, though.
missed the finish of the leaders, but caught the finish of the peloton.
But the pictures are all blurry. Must have had a lens malfunction.
Anyway after the race I followed the bikes up the path, and guess what?
that cyan color, who is that?
Yep, it is
Alexandre Vinokourov himself, coming out of the doping control trailer.
He was right there.
surrounds him as he gets on a bike. Everyone is congratulating him!
fact that he had to give a sample, I assumed he was now the overall leader,
since I know Danielson won the stage. (After a stage both the stage
winner and the overall leader are tested.)
decided to follow him – what the heck!
riding through Granada like any old rider – like me, in fact!
There was a
ton of traffic because cars were routed away from the main drag used for the
So he stops
at a light. And I stop behind him and take this picture:
And then I
rode up to him and said “congratulations” and stuck out my hand, and he shook
it. He had a big smile and said something in Kazak and rode off.
the perfectly incredible end to a perfectly incredible day.
Archive: September 24, 2005
Archive: September 24, 2004
Archive: September 24, 2003
There's a lot of great stuff happening...
Ganymede, Callisto, Europa, and Io
(click for larger view)
With the demise of Galileo (the satellite, not the scientist), there has been a lot of web activity about Jupiter. I came across this amazing picture of "the Galilean moons"; the four large moons of Jupiter which were visible to Galileo with his crude telescope. Watching the moons orbit Jupiter, Galileo had his first proof that the entire universe did not revolve around the Earth. What is especially fascinating to me is the way each moon is so different. Many astronomers consider Europa the most likely site for extra-terrestrial life in the solar system.
Think Tivo doesn't have the networks' attention? Matt Haughey notes NBC has juggled their fall lineup on Thursday nights to have non-standard start and end times. "Note the time of the Scrubs premiere show. It starts at 8:32PM. Huh? Coupling is a new show that also sports an odd time slot: 9:27PM-9:58PM. ER starts at 9:59PM that same night. Friends runs for 47 minutes and is followed by a 39 minute long Will and Grace. What in the hell is going on?" Presumably to mess up overlapping season passes? This is going to backfire - Tivo users will be pissed. If they even care about NBC, which is doubtful...
Lore Sjöberg thinks we should be Charging People. A really well-written look at micropayments and free content on the web. "But here's the dirty little secret of the artistic Web community: We're not as popular as we like to think we are." I wish The Slumbering Lungfish had an RSS feed, I'd subscribe... [ via Cory Doctorow ]
Doc Searles posted a terrific rant On the continuing death of Radio as Usual. "I think the future of radio is Webio over wireless IP, fed by the same grass roots originalities that give us both blogging and the equivalent in webcasting." Webio - I like it!
Philip Greenspun is on a roll, today he considers RIAA, friendship, and prostitution. "What is the point of Internet file sharing when people can, perfectly legally, copy as much music from each other as they could reasonably want? Only a person with zero friends would want to bother with file sharing. Which is why we can now say that the RIAA is the world's leading promoter of friendship!" The logic is impeccable. The RIAA is screwed reliving the past. Better they should buy an iPod, check out the Apple iTunes Store and start living in the future.
This looks like a headline from the Onion, but it's in the Register: KaZaA sues RIAA for copyright infringement. "Sharman Networks is suing the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for distributing replicas of its P2P file sharing software." Now you have to love that.
In the unintentional humor department, check out the 2003 Worst Manual awards. For a butcher's trolley, "test stranger and use on" is the last step. Hmmm...
And from Hoom! Maps, we have walking directions from Bag End to Mordor. "When using any walking directions or map, it is a good idea to stop at an inn or hostelry and inquire about news from abroad. Find out whether any wars are brewing, and if so, whether agents of the enemy are pursuing you." I love it.
Want a new desktop or laptop? How about a Go-L? This one looks nice :) [ via John Robb ]
T-Mobile gets in the N-Gage Game. As Gizmodo reports, "We're somewhat ambivalent about the N-Gage's prospects and aren't particularly impressed with it, but you really have to root for any gadget that seems to have so many pundits predicting its demise." Looks like a cross between a gameboy and a pillow. But it's a 'phone...