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Friday,  07/01/11  08:26 PM

...and on the first day of July and the first day of Q3, I ... sailed with my kids.  What else would I do?

Tour de France 2011Cannot *wait* for the Tour de France, which starts tomorrow morning.  I am in the ABC camp, that is, "anyone but Contador".  I must tell you I don't think Andy Schleck will win; he is a great climber, but he can't time trial, and for someone to beat Contador they will have to do both.  Leading contenders include Cadel Evans, Bradley Wiggins, and Levi Leipheimer.  Stay tuned :)

Nice preview: tour veteran John Wilcockson rates the 20 top contenders.  Hard to argue with any of his picks.

light painting with a RoombaLight painting with a Roomba.  What can I say?  Most excellent :)

How well do you see color?  Test yourself.  I scored a 4, which is [apparently] extraordinary for a 52-year old :)

Chinese 26-mile bridge is the world's longestChinese 26-mile bridge is the world's longest.  Wow, 26 miles, that's a long bridge.  Wow.

Uh; this is embarrassing; the Dodgers file for bankruptcy.  For some reason I haven't made my annual transition from pro basketball to baseball yet; knowing this, I may not at all this year.  Sigh.

Steve Jobs at the 1997 WWDC, a Q&AI love this, from John Gruber; Steve Jobs taking a Q&A at the 1997 WWDC.  This was *before* he had officially rejoined Apple as "interim CEO"; but after they had acquired Next.  You can see the vision that led to everything Apple has done since.  Even the genesis of iCloud, it is right there.

There is this weird effect, that setting a low bar encourages routine.  So every morning for the last thirty years I have done push ups and sit ups.  Every morning.  Except when I haven't, because, well, I didn't feel like it.  So on a good day I can do 50+ push ups, and 80+ sit ups.  But every day is not a good day.  So I have empirically determined that giving myself permission to do 40 push ups, only, and 60 sit up, only, makes it easier to do them every day.  And doing 40 push ups every day is much better than doing 50+ every other day.  YMMV, but this seems to be a real thing.  Onward!

 

(New Yorker, 6/27/11)

Friday,  07/01/11  10:29 PM

 

"dog meets dog"

 


Tour de France 2011

Following are all my Tour de France 2011 posts, in ascending chronological order...
(of possible interest, all my Tour de France 2010 posts, and all my Tour de France 2009 posts...)

Tour de France route maps

Saturday,  07/02/11  10:10 AM

I have to call out the Tour de France race organizers for an awesome website this year, with detailed route maps of each stage including streets and towns and everything.  And detailed elevations of each climb.  Check it out!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 1 / uphill sprint - Gilbert wins as expected; crashes create gaps and Alberto loses big time

Saturday,  07/02/11  11:57 AM

Greetings all!  As I did last year (and the year before), I'm going to post about each stage of the 2011 Tour de France ... that way you can read them after you've watched on your Tivo (!), or skip them if you're not interested.

Philipe Gilbert wins stage 1, taking yellow and green and polka dot all at onceThis year the Tour doesn't have a prologue (!) - the traditional short time trial to "seed" the riders - instead we opened with a procession across the famous Passage du Gois, followed by a flat stage with a pretty steep uphill finish.  The setup favored Philippe Gilbert, who's has an amazing classics season so far, and indeed he won.

Cadel Evans nearly caught him at the end with a terrific effort to take second, and to gain a few seconds on the peloton.  More significantly there were several crashes near the end; none took out any riders, but one cost a number of riders big time, including Albert Contador who finds himself 80 seconds behind most of hit competitors, in a stage which wasn't expected to affect the GC.

Commentating on the commentating: I'd finally gotten used to Craig Hummer but NBC's Liam McHugh has taken his place.  Blech.  Craig didn't know much but he at least pretended to be engaged; Liam seems amazed by the sport.  Surely they could have found someone who knew something?  Not impressive.  At least Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin have retained their form.

Tomorrow we have the team time trial which should be most interesting; I'm picking Radio Shack to win, and Saxo Bank (Alberto's team) to lose more time.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 2 / team time trial - Garmin-Cervelo win (!) a close battle; Saxo lose more time for Alberto

Sunday,  07/03/11  08:34 PM

Garmin-Cervelo triumph in the TTT to take their first TDF win and put Thor Hushovd in yellowDon't you just love team time trials?  I do.  Great to watch, and a great addition to any stage race, as it truly features a team performance.  Today Garmen-Cervelo narrowly won - their first stage in the TDF! - edging BMC and Sky by 4 seconds, Leopard-Trek and HTC by 5, Radio Shack by 10, and Rabobank by 12.  Yes it was that close.  Unfortunately for Alberto Contador Saxo Bank were not close, and finished 28 seconds back.

The net leaves Thor Hushovd in yellow, with David Millar in second at the same time, and Cadel Evans third one second back.  You could see Thor keeping that yellow all week.  Early days but exciting!  Philippe Gilbert keeps his green and polka dot jerseys as there were no point awarded in either competition today.

Tomorrow is a dead flat sprint - look for an amazing Cavendish / Farrar / Petacchi battle!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 3 / sprint - Farrar first on forth, Hushovd golden in yellow

Monday,  07/04/11  10:39 AM

Tyler Farrar wins stage 3 for his first Tour victoryTyler Farrar blasted out from a bunch sprint to win today's stage 3, featuring a golden leadout by teammate Thor Hushovd, who keeps yellow.  I thought HTC started too soon for Mark Cavandish, and Lapre never got themselves organized for Alessandro Petacchi.  Surprise Spanish sprinter Joaquin Rojas Jose of Movistar scored consistently all around to move into green, and Philippe Gilbert kept his polka dots.

the Garmin train kept on rolling, led by Thor Hushovd in yellowI like the change to the rules wherein each days features one intermediate sprint that means more to the overall sprint standings; it has given us something to watch midway through what would otherwise be pretty boring days in the flats.  There was one climb - a high bridge - which made for beautiful views but didn't do anything to the standings.  Tomorrow's stage should be a bit weird; it kind of looks flat, but there's a hilltop finish on a Cat 3 climb at the end to make things interesting.  Everyone seems to think Gilbert is going to win, but I look for Contador to establish himself, and Evans will be trying to take yellow.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 4 / uphill sprint - Evans holds off Contador as Thor stays golden

Tuesday,  07/05/11  10:40 PM

Cadel Evans barely holds off Alberto Contador to win stage 4Excellent TDF stage today; a long rolling punishing ride in the fog and rain, followed by a surprisingly tough final 3km climb to a hilltop finish.  It made for some great racing; everyone thought perhaps Philippe Gilbert would win as he did on stage one, including his team and perhaps Philippe himself, but instead Cadel Evans marked him and out-powered him to the finish, holding off a last-second attack by Alberto Contador.  Thor Hushovd somehow hung with the leaders to get the same time and stay in yellow.  Great stuff.

Evans leads Contador and Gilbert on the final charge up the hillThe GC was largely unchanged with only small time gaps, but the psychological damage was done.  We now know that Evans is here for real, and Contador can be beaten uphill, and Gilbert is not invincible, and Hushovd is stronger than dirt.  And the Garmin and BMC teams are here to win.  And Radio Shack too, although Chris Horner flatted at just the wrong moment and missed his chance to mix it up on the final climb (would have been a good chance for him too).  And finally how great was it to see Alexander Vinokourov right there at the end.  It's gonna be a great Tour.

Tomorrow we have a field sprint - look for Farrar and Cavendish to do battle again...

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 5 / windy sprint - Cav wins one ahead of Rojas and Gilbert after carnage on the road

Wednesday,  07/06/11  10:11 PM

Cavendish wins a bunch sprint to take stage 5Whew, today was one of those days on the tour; what looked to be a quiet little day along the Brittany Coast turned into carnage as the nervousness of the peloton and the narrowness of the roads combined to yield several nasty crashes.  A stiff crosswind made the finish "interesting"; but in the end it came down to a bunch sprint, with Mark Cavendish prevailing over green jersey -wearer Juan Rojas and Philippe Gilbert.  Pretty much everyone got the same time so the GC is unchanged.

Tomorrow's stage is the longest in this year's tour and features rollers all through; to me it looks like an ideal stage for a breakaway to succeed, especially after all the damage today.  It will be most interesting to see who lines up to escape, and whether the field lets them go; a complicating factor is the new intermediate sprint point.  Probably a successful breakaway will have no more than five or six riders.  We'll see!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 6 / long rolling sprint - Boassen Hagen outkicks Gilbert and Hushovd, GC unchanged

Thursday,  07/07/11  10:45 PM

Edvard Boasson Hagen outblasts the field to the finish of stage 6Today promised to be a lot more interesting than it was; such is the Tour.  (There are other days when you tune in thinking you're going to see three hours of parade followed by 30 seconds of sprint, only to see fireworks all through.)  I expected a breakaway to stay away, but instead a rather weak five-man group hung off the front, closely monitored, as the peloton drove on through the rollers amid rain, all of which culminated with a rather disorganized bunch sprint on a slight incline.  Edvard Boasson Hagen of Sky blasted to the front, closely pursued by Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.  None of the true sprinters gave it a go.

Levi Leipheimer has the bad luck to crash just outside the 3km boundary, loses on a minute on GCI think today the mid-race sprint point worked against an interesting break.  The sprinters' teams kept the pressure on and nobody could get away.  Perhaps a stronger / larger break would have worked, but on the other hand a stronger / larger break wouldn't have been allowed to form in the first place.

Bad luck for Levi Leipheimer; he crashed just outside the 3km boundary, and by the time he was back up and chasing the field was in full sprint.  He ended up losing a minute on GC which he'll definitely wish he had back later in the Tour.

Tomorrow we have a pancake flat stage which probably will be three hours of parade followed by 30 seconds of sprint; but then again you never know, so stay tuned :)

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 7 / sprint - Cavendish wins, crashes knock out contenders

Sunday,  07/10/11  07:43 PM

the pack blasts toward the finishA long, wet, windy stage 7 from Le Mans to Châteauroux ended with Mark Cavendish winning another bunch sprint, his 17th overall (!), but the big news was crashes which took out Bradley Wiggins and cost Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer big time.  Alexander Vinokourov also hit the deck.  It was one of those stages where you could say the Tour cannot be won, but it certainly can be lost.  Tom Bonnen retired early on from injuries sustained in stage 6.

[Update: Chris Horner is out :(  could not start stage 8.  boo!  I guess now we root for Kloden!]

Stage 8 is rather interesting; with an uphill finish and lots of rollers, it doesn't look like a sprint stage, yet it isn't a pure mountain stage either.  Maybe a break will get away?  Stay tuned...

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 8 / rollers - Da Costa wins from break, Gilbert takes green

Sunday,  07/10/11  07:56 PM

Philippe Gilbert blasts away from the peloton on the final climbRui Da Costa hung on from a break to take stage 8 of the Tour de France, while Philippe Gilbert blasted away from the peloton to take glory and the green jersey.  And interestingly Cadel Evans hung on to beat Alberto Contador, after he attacked on the final climb.  It is starting to look like Alberto doesn't quite have it this year, and/or Cadel does.  Meanwhile Gilbert animates everything; I really like him (even though he's Belgian :).  Also interesting Teejay Van Garderen attacked the break and looked great, taking the polka dots.  Onward!

TDF stage 9 features eight catagorized climbs; look for a break to succeedStage 9 is rather interesting; with eight categorized climbs it cannot be considered flat or easy (in fact it can be considered a leg-breaker), yet it isn't a mountain stage either.  With a rest day ahead I predict a successful breakaway for the first time this tour, as the GC contenders rest up and recuperate and the sprinters wait for next week.  Stay tuned...

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 9 - Sanchez wins from break, Voeckler takes yellow; unbelievable crashes continue

Sunday,  07/10/11  08:02 PM

TV car swerves into break, hitting Flecha and knocking Hoogerland into fence :(Wow.  Stage 9 of the Tour had a little of everything; eight categorized climbs (some of those Cat 2s were pretty tough), a powerful breakaway destined to succeed, horrible crashes which took out several contenders and injured others, and a TV car running riders off the road, changing the results of the race.  If you missed it, go back and watch.  Wow.

Johnny Hoogerland is knocked into barbed-wire fence; he continued (!) and took the polka dot jerseyToday's break was not five guys out to get TV time for their teams, they knew they had a chance, and they rode like it.  Chasing behind the peloton had a number of horrible crashes, and Dave Zabriske, Alexander Vinokourov, and Jurgen van den Broeck were forced to retire.  With the finish in sight a TV car swerved into the five-man breakaway, hitting Juan Antonio Flecha and knocking him to the deck, and causing him to crash into Johnny Hoogerland who somersaulted into a barbed wire fence.  This enabled Luis-Leon Sanchez and Thomas Voeckler to escape, with Sanchez ultimately winning the stage but putting Voeckler solidly in Yellow, two minutes ahead of the GC contenders.

Luis-Leon Sanchez leads break; he ultimately won and sits second on GCWith a rest day tomorrow that leaves the GC at Voeckler in yellow, Sanchez (1:49), Cadel Evans (2:26), Frank Schleck (2:29), and Andy Schleck (2:37).  Other contenders include Andreas Kloden (2:32), Ivan Basso (3:36), Robert Gesink (4:01), and Alberto Contador (4:07).  You could have won money betting that Contador would be in 16th that far back after week one.  After the rest day there are a couple of days for the sprinters - 5 hours of touring followed by 5 minutes of racing - and then Thursday (ta da!) we go into the Pyrenees, with stage 12 featuring a Cat 1 and two HCs.  Yay.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF rest day #1 - thoughts

Monday,  07/11/11  07:43 PM

The parade over the Passage du Gois was the Grand DepartA few thoughts on the 2011 Tour de France, as of the first rest day:

  • The race for GC is still wide open.  No serious climbing yet, no big selections.
  • There's going to be an interesting race for the green jersey.
  • The crashes in the first week were worse than usual, and eliminated more contenders than usual.  Bradley Wiggens, Jurgen van den Broek, Chris Horner, Alexander Vinokourv.
  • Alberto Contador had a bad week, lost four minutes, and crashed a lot.  But he's still right there.  Plus he won no stages and looked vulnerable.
  • Cadel Evans had a great week, he's in the lead among the contenders, and stayed out of trouble.  Plus he won a stage and looked strong.
  • Andy and Frank Schleck also had great weeks, they're right there, no crashes.
  • The sprint battles have been pretty much as expected, with Mark Cavandish winning two stages, but Tyler Farrar got one and so did Eduard Boassen Hagen.  Meanwhile Jose Joaquin Rosas has stayed close all the time.
  • Thor Hushovd was a great leader for the first week.  He looked good in yellow, and he'll be up there battling for green you can be sure.
  • Rabobank has reason to smile, with Luis-Leon Sanchez winning a stage and sitting in second place, and Robert Gesink in the white jersey and in the GC hunt.  Sanchez could stay up there, he's a great climber and a solid time trialer.
  • Johnny Hoogerland's horrible crash and subsequent recovery have made him a hero.  I doubt seriously he can hang on to the polka dots, but who knows.
  • Thomas Voeckler in yellow is awesome.  Everyone likes him, and while he isn't a threat to win overall, he could hang on to it longer than anyone thinks.

My picks for overall:  Cadel Evans to win, Phillippe Gilbert in green, Samuel Sanchez in polka dots, Robert Gesink in white.  Stay tuned :)

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 10 / sprint - Griepel takes one from Cavendish

Tuesday,  07/12/11  07:23 PM

After a rest day, another flat day in the Tour, another bunch sprint, and another win for Mark Cavendish Andre Greipel wins!  Yay for him, and yay for the Tour.  There was another crash involving big names - Fabian Cancellara, Levi Leipheimer, Robert Gesink, and Christian Van de Velde - but fortunately they were all able to continue and didn't lose time.  It was most excellent at the end to see Philippe Gilbert attack out on a break with Thomas Voeckler - how often do you see the yellow and green jerseys out on a break? - but they were inevitably sucked back into the peloton.  A little more of an incline and perhaps a little better timing and Gilbert would have had a chance.

Tomorrow is another flag day which will probably feature another bunch sprint; look for Cavendish to reassert himself :)

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 11 / sprint - Cavendish beats Greipel, takes green

Wednesday,  07/13/11  11:06 PM

Mark Cavendish wins a bunch sprint to take stage 11Today's stage 11 of the TDF was the most boring yet; a long flat ride through the middle of France which ended in a bunch sprint and Mark Cavendish winning again, giving him the green jersey.  Ho hum.

stage 12 is the first mountain stage, with a Cat 1 and two HC climbs. yay!But tomorrow there will be fireworks, as the Tour moves into the Pyrenees and we have the first real climbing stage.  It will be the first real selection with the GC contenders battling on the final climb.  Alberto Contador is going to have to take time back somewhere, and I suspect he'll try to do it here.  Cadel Evans will just need to stay close.  And Frank and Andy Schleck, well, they need as much time as they have and more to hold off Alberto and Cadel, who are better time trialers.  Actually the next three stages are all killers; the whole complexion of the tour will be different by the end of the weekend.  (See John Wilcockson's analysis for more...)  I can't wait!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 12 / mountains! - Sammy Sanchez wins as GC contenders take more time from Contador

Friday,  07/15/11  02:23 PM

(sorry couldn't post last night; we were celebrating Bastille Day in Pasadena ... we did toast Thomas Voeckler :)

Samuel Sanchez attacks on the final climb to win stage 12!Wow, did you see yesterday's stage 12?  Amazing!  *That* is why you watch the Tour, what a great stage.  You can read the blow-by-blow as Sammy Sanchez prevailed in the end (yay, he's a great rider, surprising to read that the reining gold medallist hadn't won a Tour stage before this one).  This was the first stage where we really saw how this Tour is shaping up, and here's what we learned:

  • Thomas Voeckler is magnificent!  On Bastille Day he hung right up there with the strongest climbers in the world to keep his yellow jersey.  Vive Le France!
  • Sammy Sanchez can pedal up an elevator.  When he attached on the final climb up Luz-Ardiden nobody could follow him, it was only a matter of whether he burned himself up.  He has the polka dots now and he could keep them all the way to Paris.
  • Frank Schleck is en forme.  When he attached at the end, the GC contenders could not go with him.  He ran out of road or he might have caught Sanchez too.
  • Ivan Basso is looking great.  He hung right in there with everyone, calm and cool, and finished in the lead of the GC contenders' pack quite easily.  He's a good time trialist and if he continues to climb like this, look out.  Remember he finished second to Lance twice.
  • Cadel Evans is looking great too.  As the guy with the lowest time of the GC contenders and as a great time trialist himself, he doesn't have to attack, just hold serve.  Which he did.
  • Andy Schleck was pushed.  Yeah he finished with the GC men, but he had to work to stay up there.  Interesting.
  • Alberto Contador is hurting.  He will heal and get stronger, but today he could not follow Frank's attack, and in fact he lost more time on the GC pack at the finish.  The key to this Tour is how fast he heals, can he be the Contador of old in the Alps?
  • Andreas Kloden was hurt before this stage, and fell again during.  I think he's too injured to be a factor.  Too bad, because like Basso he's finished second twice and he's a great rider.
  • Levi Leipheimer is a great rider but can't climb with the world's best.  He was dropped there at the end.  Boo.  The Shack are snakebit in this Tour.
  • Robert Gesink is too injured to be a factor.  Luis-Leon Sanchez is not a world-class climber.  Looks like Lawrence Ten Dam (aka "wolfman") is Rabobank's best hope for a high GC spot.
  • Johnny Hoogerland gave defending the polka dots a great shot, but he didn't have it, if indeed he ever did.  He gets the hero award for riding this stage with 33 stitches however, they should have a purple jersey for most courageous :)
  • Tom Danielson looks to be the top American on GC, riding for Garmen.  Christian Van de Velde will be a good ally for him, and Garmen have the second strongest team in the race.
  • Leopard Trek have the strongest team, no question.  Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, man.  They drove the peloton up the hills in this stage.

I gotta say, I love Jens Voigt; not only did he absolutely power the peloton over the hills in this stage, he has a blog, and recently did a great interview of his teammates the Schlecks (PDF) in Bicycling Magazine.  Go Jens!

Tour de France stage 13 profileWell that was great, so what's on for stage 13?  Well it features an HC climb up Col d'Aubisque but given the distance from the summit to the finish, it doesn't look like a day for a climber to win.  I suspect a break will form and an all-arounder will prevail, as the GC men wait for stage 14 which is another killer.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 13 / mountains - Hushovd wins improbably in most excellent fashion, GC unchanged

Friday,  07/15/11  06:05 PM

Thor Hushovd improbably but most excellently wins stage 13 with a great breakaway across the mountainsYou could have made a lot of money betting on Thor Hushovd to win today's stage 13 in the TDF, but you would have had to had big balls, exactly like the kind he displayed in getting into an early break, attacking from it, getting caught and passed on the massive climb of the Col d'Aubisque, but then blasting down the back at 70mph to win.  Wow.  You sit down, you turn on the Tour, and you never know what will happen.  Most of the rest of the peloton took the day off, but poor Andreas Kloden had to withdraw from his injuries, the fourth Radio Shack rider to do so.  Thomas Voeckler held the yellow jersey easily, and Jeremy Roy took over the polka dots by winning up the Aubisque.  By winning the stage Hushovd moves up in the green jersey competition (but can anyone explain why he didn't contest the intermediate sprint?)

TDF 2011 stage 14 profileOn to tomorrow, perhaps the decisive stage of this year's tour, with six climb on offer including a mountaintop finish at the top of Plateau de Beille, one of the most feared climbs in the Pyrenees.  I'm looking for a big break to take off over all those early climbs, with the GC leaders staying together, but then heavy attacking from the base of the final climb.  My own pick is Contador to win - he will assert himself, he has to - but Andy and Frank Schleck will stay close enough to avoid damage, and Cadel Evans will move into yellow.  Wild cards include Ivan Basso, who looked great in stage 12, and Samuel Sanchez, who won it and who could reclaim polka dots.  I cannot wait!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 14 / mountains - Jesse Vanendert wins (!) while contenders play on final climb / Voeckler keeps yellow

Saturday,  07/16/11  08:43 PM

Jelle Vanendert is the surprise climber of this year's tour, winning stage 14 and taking the polka dot jerseyToday's stage 14 was the consummate Pyrenean stage, with six categorized climbs and a finish atop the HC Plateau de Beille.  You would think *this* would be a decisive stage, with a definitive selection, but ... no.  After much jockeying around a solo attack on the last climb by Jelle Vanendert was allowed to succeed (you will remember he finished second two days ago atop Luz-Ardiden, and now finds himself in the polka dot jersey) and despite a series of half-hearted attacks the GC contenders all finished together.  The surprise of the day was Thomas Voeckler, who stayed right there with the leaders and now must be considered a possibility to take his yellow jersey all the way to Paris.  (Nobody is more surprised by Voeckler's success than Voeckler :)

[ Update: John Wilcockson is not impressed by the Tour's seven dwarfs.  As I consider his remarks, we may well look back on this stage as a missed opportunity for the Schlecks. ]

an awesome sculpture celebrates cycling on the Plateau de BeilleSome interesting subplots did emerge: Samuel Sanchez finishes second, a clear 30s ahead of the pack, to move into sixth and declare his candidacy for the podium, as well as King of the Mountains.  Levi Leipheimer was nowhere to be seen, nor was Robert Gesink, nor Tom Danielson.  The GC contenders now (in order of likelihood of victory) are Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador (who looked better but not great), Andy and Frank Schleck, Sanchez, and Voeckler.  Another interesting subplot was Mark Cavendish' bid to hold his green jersey, his team pulled him in over the time limit with just a minute to spare.

Tomorrow is a ho-hum sprint - well it could be exciting, because it's the last of this year's Tour until Paris - and after that we have a rest day, four mountain stages in the Alps including two mountain top finishes, and the final time trial in Grenoble.  So there's a lot left - stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF stage 15 / sprint - Cavendish wins another (yawn) as GC start rest day early

Sunday,  07/17/11  11:45 PM

Cavandish gets launched by HTC-Highroad to take stage 15Today's stage 15 of the Tour was pretty predictable; the last flat stage of this tour yielded a bunch sprint, and Mark Cavandish won.  I guess we have to salute HTC-Highroad and Cavandish for having absolutely the best leadout and sprint train in the world, but it doesn't make for great theater.  If Tyler Farrar or Andre Greipel or Alessandro Petacchi weren't in the race, it wouldn't be interesting at all, but I guess their presence does make for a little drama.  But only a little.  Now the main suspense will be to see whether Cavandish can make the time limit on the alpine stages ahead, because if he does he's bound to win in Paris, and he's bound to win the green jersey.  So be it.

By the way, in case you're wondering about intermediate sprints, in Tuesday's stage 16 to Gap the intermediate sprint comes before the main climb but it is uphill, so perhaps Gilbert or Hushovd can get points.  In Wednesday's stage 17 the sprint comes before the main climbing but again it is in the hills, so again maybe it won't be a field sprint.  In Thursday's stage 18 the sprint point is way early, long before the climbs, and in Friday's stage 19 the sprint point is right near the end but after a long descent.  So there is some chance for others to take points from Cavandish.  I rate Gilbert as the biggest threat, since he's a much better climber, but he's 71 points behind.

Meanwhile tomorrow is a rest day - boo! - and then we have four alpine stages in a row - yay! - followed by the time trial.  Those should be maximally great.  Onward...

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


TDF rest day #2 - pictures

Monday,  07/18/11  09:56 PM

Today is the Tour's second rest day; tomorrow begins the first of four Alpine stages (including two mountaintop finishes, one atop the Col du Galibier! and one atop Alpe d'Huez!).  After that is the long ITT in Grenoble, and the finishing parade in Paris.  Rainy weather is predicted and it should be an amazing shootout all week; I can't wait.

In the meantime here's some pictures from the first two weeks:


stage 1: the Passage du Gois


stage 2: Led by Thor Hushovd, Garmin win the team time trial


stage 3: Tyler Farrar wins his first TDF stage


stage 4: Evans asserts himself to beat Contador, win stage


stage 5: crashes in a nervous peloton


stage 6: Bossen Hagen wins amid more crashes


stage 7: the peloton in a quiet mood, for the moment


stage 8: Vinokourov almost pulled it off
this is how I will remember him as a rider, on the attack


stage 9: lots of climbing, a breakaway which succeeded, and more crashes
(including a runaway TV car which took out two riders in the break)


stage 10: sprint, with Andre Greipel edging Mark Cavendish


stage 11: the beautiful sunflowers on a rainy day


stage 12: Pyrenean mountains, wow, the climb up to Luz-Ardinen


stage 13: more mountains, and a long descent to the finish let Thor Hushovd escape


stage 14: Plateau de Beille with perhaps the steepest finish of this Tour


stage 15: Voeckler in yellow, amid his team; they had an amazing week

It is truly the calm before the Alpine storm.  Will Voeckler hold yellow?  Can Evans finally win?  Will the Schlecks attack, and will it work?  Can Contador defend?  We'll see ... onward!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 


TDF stage 16 / mountains - great racing! Hushovd wins from break, Evans takes time on GC

Tuesday,  07/19/11  09:11 PM

Contador attacks!Today's Tour de France stage 16 was a pure pleasure, it had all the elements of great racing, with many riders motivated to get in a break, a chasing peloton, a tough final climb that made a big selection, and a nasty descent which enabled Thor Hushovd to win from the break and Cadel Evans to take time on all the GC contenders.  For me this was the stage of the Tour so far; if you haven't watched the Tour and want to watch one stage, make it this one.

Alberto Contador roused himself to make some great attacks, and broke clear of the Schlecks and some other contenders like Ivan Basso, but couldn't shake Evans and Samuel Sanchez, who seem to be the strongest climbers this year.  And Thomas Voeckler continues to amaze; not only was he in the mix all through, but even answered a couple of Contador's attacks himself before losing a little time in the end.  He is truly a worthy yellow jersey wearer and I look for him to keep it again tomorrow, only to lose it on the Galibier Thursday.  We'll see.

By the way there were two Norweigens in the race, Hushovd and Edvard Boessen Hagen, and they finished one-two.  What are the odds of that?  And kudos to Ryder Hesjedal who led the break up the climb and then worked perfectly with Garmin teammate Hushovd on the descent to get the win.

Tour de france stage 17 profileTomorrow's stage is similar to today's, with perhaps more climbing; it is interesting that they have the intermediate sprint after a cat 3 climb, which may allow Philippe Gilbert or perhaps Hushovd to take points from the pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Jose Rojas.  And then we have a serious cat 1 climb into Italy before a long long long descent and then a final cat 2 climb before a descent to the finish.  It could definitely be another day for a breakaway, much like today, as well as a day for a selection on GC, much like today.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 17 / mountains - Boassen Hagen wins this time, GC mostly unchanged despite Contador attacks

Saturday,  07/23/11  11:01 AM

(written retrospectively on the train to Grenoble, to watch stage 20; stay tuned for more about that :)

Edvard Boassen Hagen wins stage 17, after finishing second the day before!So stage 16 was unexpectedly great, with everything, while stage 17 was unexpectedly pedestrian, despite having pretty much the same setup as stage 16.  That's how it goes sometimes.  There was a break, there was an attack from the break, and Edvard Boassen Hagen beat Sylvain Chavanel to the finish to win, a day after finishing second.  (Yeah we could say he has good form :)  Behind among the leaders Alberto Contador attacked on the Cat 1 Sestrieres, but was marked by Andy Schleck and the continually surprising Thomas Voeckler.  This whittled the group down but did nothing to the GC overall.  On the long descent back down there were some adventures (Jonathan Hivert nearly crashed several times in the break, and Thomas Voeckler nearly did too, losing 30s from his GC lead) and for a bit it looked like ace descenders Contador and Samuel Sanchez might be able to pull some time.  But in the end the Schlecks and Evans pulled even, and we reload for stage 18...

TDF11 stage 18 profile - three HC climbs including a mountaintop finish at the top of the Col de Galibier!... which is going to be amazing... who could wait for this?  Three HC climbs in a row, with a mountaintop finish on the Col du Galibier, the highest ever in the Tour.  Should be GC fireworks for sure...

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TDF stage 18 / high mountains - fireworks as Andy Schleck attacks, wins stage, nearly takes yellow

Saturday,  07/23/11  11:57 AM

(written retrospectively on the train to Grenoble, to watch stage 20)

Wow!  Today's stage 18 was amazing; just look at that profile, three HC climbs including a mountaintop finish at the top of the Col du Galibier.  You could expect fireworks, and you would be right.  Of course there would be a break, and of course the break would disintegrate on the climbs, with a few goats breaking clear, and the leaders staying together until the final climb, and then pow the attacks would come, right? 

Andy Schleck attacks 60km from the finish, holds on to win and take big timeWrong!  Instead there was a huge break of 24 riders, with the rest of the peloton staying together and midway through the second climb on the Col d'Izoard Andy Schleck attacked! and boom he was gone.  Nobody knew what to do with him... none of the leaders responded, figuring his attack was too far out to succeed.  The break blew up and riders kept going backward all day, and meanwhile Andy just kept going, ultimately fading a bit on the final climb but still hanging on to win.  Cadel Evans drove the chase up the final climb, limiting his losses, and dragging Voeckler along to keep him barely in yellow.  Others who hung in included Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunigo, and Franck Schleck, but Contador was dropped (!) and is now out of GC contention, as was Samuel Sanchez (!)  What an amazing stage of an amazing tour.

Cadel Evans drove the leaders back to limit their losses on the final climb, and to keep Voeckler in yellow (barely)At this point we have only l'Alpe d'Huez ahead (wow!) and then the time trial (on my way there just now :) and then the final parade, so we can conclude that the winner will be Andy (0:15), Frank (1:08), or Evans (1:12), and Voeckler has a real chance at the podium.  Only Cunigo (3:46) and Basso (3:46) are close enough to compete for third, at this point Contador (4:44), and Sanchez (5:20) can make the top five but not the podium.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 19 / high mountains - Contador attacks, nearly wins, as Andy Schleck takes yellow

Saturday,  07/23/11  12:33 PM

(on the train to Grenoble to watch the ITT today! - I am *so* excited...)

stage 19 - mountaintop finish at l'Alpe d'Huez ... it's *on*And so yesterday we reached l'Alpe d'Huez, the ultimate climbing stage of the 2011 Tour even though stage 18 was arguably harder and longer and hence the "queen stage".  Partially it's because of the mystique of l'Alpe - the 21 hairpins with the stage winners celebrated at each one - and partially it's because this is the last stage before the ITT later today - and partly it's because the stage is so short; despite the Col du Galibier en route everyone reaches the bottom at the same time, everyone attacks, and may the best man win.  So it was the last time l'Alpe was in the Tour, in 2008, when Carlos Sastre won it and won the Tour.

Pierre Roland wins Alpe d'Huez, takes the white jersey and the glorySo what happened?  Well we had the usual early break, but then Alberto Contador attacked!  One day after falling out of GC contention after being unable to stay with the leaders on the final climb, he seemed to be the Alberto of old.  Only Andy Schleck could stay with him on his dynamic accelerations, with Cadel Evans and Thomas Voeckler struggling to stay on.  And then Voeckler finally cracked and fell off.  And then Evans had a mechanical, had to switch bikes, and suddenly was under pressure to stay on.  Even before we reached l'Alpe the peloton was all over the mountain.  Evans BMC team restored order and began a solid chase, so that by the foot of l'Alpe there were about 30 riders again.  On the final climb Contador attacked again (!) and seemed headed for victory, with Evans driving a hard chase, both Schlecks on his wheel, shedding Voeckler for the final time and dropping him from yellow.  Samuel Sanchez attacked, and then Voeckler's teammate Pierre Roland followed, seeking the white jersey.  Near the seemingly unreachable top Contador lost steam, and was ultimately passed by Roland, who won (and took White), and Sanchez, who ended up second (and in Polka Dots).  Evans drove the leaders to the top, putting Andy Schleck in yellow for the first time. 

Alberto Contador animated the day, attacking constantly, and ultimately fell short to third

I have to say, today I liked Alberto more than at any time before; he might not have won the stage or the Tour, but he won the respect of the fans.

So going into today's ITT we have Andy in first, Frank 2nd (0:53), and Evans 3rd (0:57).  Voeckler has dropped to 4th (2:10).  I think Evans will easily take a minute from both Andy and Frank, and will win the tour.  I don't think Cunago (3:11) or Contador (3:55) can make the podium.  We'll see - stay tuned!

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TDF stage 20 / ITT - Martin powers to victory, Evans blasts by Schlecks to take yellow (and we are there!)

Sunday,  07/24/11  09:35 AM

So yesterday was amazing; Shirley and I were in Grenoble watching stage 20 of the Tour de France.  I took a bunch of pictures - how great is it that you can just walk up to a Tour stage and watch it close up? - and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly; everything from the TGV down from Paris (600km in 2 1/2 hours!) to the beautiful city of Grenoble itself to the pageantry and of course the excitement of the ITT as the Tour was decided.

Some pictures, in chronological order to tell the story: (how cool is it to use my pictures, instead of Velonews' :)


Grenoble, gateway to the alps and scene of stage 20 of the 2011 TDF, the individual time trial


on the finishing straight, ready for action


the start house is right there; here Chris Anker Sorensen takes off


Tony Martin powered to the stage win, repeating his victory in the Dauphine Liberte on the same course
(and upsetting favorite Fabian Cancellara!)


Levi Leipheimer had a disappointing tour, as did Radio Shack; they'll be back


Robert Gesink suffered, as did Rabobank; they'll be back


Tom Danielson had a great tour (9th!), and Garmen Cervelo won the team classification


Pierre Rolland, white jersey for best young rider and winner of yesterday's stage up to l'Alpe d'Huez


Ivan Basso had a great tour, 8th overall


Samuel Sanchez, resplendent in polka dots, 7th overall


with the 3rd best time on the day, Alberto Contador passed Damiano Cunigo to finish 5th overall
somehow he gained more by finishing 5th this year than by winning last year


Cunigo had a great tour, ended up 6th overall


Thomas Voeckler was the French hero, 10 days in yellow, and finished 4th overall


Cadel Evans blasted to a close 2nd to pick up over two minutes on the Schlecks
and win yellow!


tick tick tick took Frank Schleck nearly six minutes to show up after Evans
(they started three minutes apart)
he did have a great tour and finished 3rd overall


Andy Schleck enjoyed yellow for the day but had to give it up to Evans in the end
so now he finished 2nd for the third year in a row
look for him to come back strong next year!


they say every road in Grenoble ends in a mountain; it is surrounded by beauty


celebrating our TDF swag at a cafe

Just an awesome day.  And later today we're off to the Champs d'Elysee to see stage 21 and the final finish.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 21 / parade - Cavendish wins! and takes green (and we are there!)

Sunday,  07/24/11  09:34 PM

What can I say?  To be on the Champs d'Elysee for the finale to the Tour de France was awesome!  It was a boring race even by last-stage-of-the-Tour standards - hardly any breakaways, easily chased down, and a bunch sprint ending in a runaway victory for Mark Cavendish - but it was great to be in the huge crowd, sense the atmosphere, and see the peloton flashing by.

A few pictures for your viewing pleasure:


the scene: Paris!


the Arc d'Triomphe punctuates one end of the Champs d'Elysee


the Champs d'Elysee, perhaps the most famous shopping street in the world
converted on the third Sunday in July into the most famous velodrome :)


looking straight down the 3 mile racetrack


one kazillion people were on hand, wow


the intermediate sprint point


giant monitors relay the action for the crowd


there they are!  Cadel Evans looking good in yellow


the peloton whooshes by


it's a break! - but reeled in quickly


Mark Cavendish wins!
his fifth stage win, wrapping up the green jersey


the final podium: Andy Schleck (2nd for the 3rd year in a row), Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck


winning team: Garmin Cervelo
Thor Hushovd (world champion's rainbow at left) won two stages and wore yellow all the first week
note cardboard cutout of Dave Zabriske who crashed out

And so ends a great Tour, which had a little of everything.  More than anything else it had drama, the end was in doubt 'till the last, many great attacks, many crashes, many heroes, many victims, and a number of interesting subplots.  (And blessedly no doping scandals!)  I will post some summary thoughts when I get back - stay tuned...

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TDF 2011 / final thoughts

Sunday,  07/31/11  09:25 PM

Tour de France 2011, the peloton blasts into a huge crowdWell I'm a bit late with this, but for form's sake (and because I have some things to say) I thought I'd wrap up the 2011 TDF.  Overall this was the best tour in a while, I'd say since 2003, when Lance Armstrong had to really work to beat Jan Ullrich, with Alexander Vinokourov third.  As then, we had three clear favorites (Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, and Cadel Evans), with many crashes, unexpected leaders, and incredible attacks.

Some thoughts:

  • There were so many crashes the first week, and it isn't apparent why.  And so many contenders were knocked out, Bradley Wiggens, and Andreas Kloden, and Alexander Vinokourov, and Chris Horner, and Tom Boonen.
  • That whole incident with the TV car hitting Franco and knocking Johnny Hoogerland into a ditch, wow.  That will be in highlight films forever.
  • Thor Hushovd - two stage wins and a TTT win, nine days in yellowHow great was it to see Thor Hushovd in yellow for a week, and then winning two "mountain" stages?  He's got to be my favorite rider at this point.  I wish there was some way to give a "most incredible riding" award for the Tour.
  • And how great was it to see Thomas Voeckler in yellow for a week, gamely hanging on to keep it just like in 2004?  He's got to be one of my favorite riders too.  Just awesome.  And great for France, and for the Tour.
  • It was cool to see Eurocar do so well, with Voeckler and Pierre Rolland, who had a great tour and won on l'Alpe d'Huez and took the white jersey.  Again, great for France, and for the Tour.
  • Garmen was the team of the tour, not only with Hushovd, but winning the team time trial, Tyler Farrar winning a sprint, and animating all the time.  Too bad they lost Zabriske, and Vandevelde was not great, but Danielson did finish 9th and the team had the best time overall.
  • I'm not a fan of sprinting, but there were some good sprints for those who are; Cavendish won five of them, wow, and the green jersey, but Tyler Farrar won one, and so did Andre Griepel.  Overall sprints were de-emphasized in this Tour and that was one of the reasons it was so good :)
  • I will say I expected a better battle for the green jersey, I thought the intermediate sprint points would help someone like Philippe Gilbert compete, but it didn't work out that way.  Would have been great, I like all-arounders like Gilbert.
  • Looking back, stage 9 was amazing; eight categorized climbs but nothing harder than a Cat 2, a serious break, the TV car crash thing and other crashes too, and Voeckler taking yellow by two minutes.
  • Andy Schleck attacks, his best shot to win and it nearly workedThe final three stages were awesome.  The Schleck attack on stage 18, 70km from the finish, with Evans forced to chase over three HC climbs up to the Galibier, and then the Contador attack on stage 19, way out, with Evans again forced to chase and the finish at Alpe d'Huez, and then the time trial.  Being in France while this all played out made it even better (thank you Tivo + Slingbox + hotel WiFi :).
  • Cool that George Hincapie was on nine TDF winning teams, with three different riders.  Wow.
  • Sanchez was a great kind of the mountains; for once, you felt the award went to the best climber.  Not only in the Alps at the end, but in the Pyrenees too.
  • Evans won the way you should win; with a great team that kept him out of trouble, consistency, taking control when needed to chase down attacks, and then blasting to victory in the time trial.  He was the champion (and the pride of Australia).
  • Best of all, no doping!  and not even much talk of doping, despite the Contador situation.  Whew.

Cadel Evans rode consistently and well all Tour, with great team support, and when it mattered he came through, blasting to victory at the time trialIt was soo cool to be there.  Wow.  I might never go again (never say never) but it was great to see the time trial in Grenoble, and then the final stage on the Champs d'Elysee in Paris.  Can't wait to see the route announced (all we know now is that the start is in Liege, Belgium) and to figure out if I can see some of it :)

Finally, some comments on the commentators; what can we say, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin remain a delight, and they had a great tour too.  Bob Roll continues to have the best insights; he called the Schleck attack on stage 18 and the Contador attack on stage 19 perfectly.  I'd love to have Bob's insights during the racing.  Ian McHugh was horrible, worse than Craig Hummer (who got better over time), and I'm sure he won't be back.  The whole NBC involvement was weird; their online package was a joke, and their incessant house ads were horrible (thank you Tivo).  We'll see what happens next year.  And it should be great! with Evans back, and the Schlecks, and Contador, and who knows who else?

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Tour de France route maps

Saturday,  07/02/11  10:10 AM

I have to call out the Tour de France race organizers for an awesome website this year, with detailed route maps of each stage including streets and towns and everything.  And detailed elevations of each climb.  Check it out!

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TDF stage 1 / uphill sprint - Gilbert wins as expected; crashes create gaps and Alberto loses big time

Saturday,  07/02/11  11:57 AM

Greetings all!  As I did last year (and the year before), I'm going to post about each stage of the 2011 Tour de France ... that way you can read them after you've watched on your Tivo (!), or skip them if you're not interested.

Philipe Gilbert wins stage 1, taking yellow and green and polka dot all at onceThis year the Tour doesn't have a prologue (!) - the traditional short time trial to "seed" the riders - instead we opened with a procession across the famous Passage du Gois, followed by a flat stage with a pretty steep uphill finish.  The setup favored Philippe Gilbert, who's has an amazing classics season so far, and indeed he won.

Cadel Evans nearly caught him at the end with a terrific effort to take second, and to gain a few seconds on the peloton.  More significantly there were several crashes near the end; none took out any riders, but one cost a number of riders big time, including Albert Contador who finds himself 80 seconds behind most of hit competitors, in a stage which wasn't expected to affect the GC.

Commentating on the commentating: I'd finally gotten used to Craig Hummer but NBC's Liam McHugh has taken his place.  Blech.  Craig didn't know much but he at least pretended to be engaged; Liam seems amazed by the sport.  Surely they could have found someone who knew something?  Not impressive.  At least Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin have retained their form.

Tomorrow we have the team time trial which should be most interesting; I'm picking Radio Shack to win, and Saxo Bank (Alberto's team) to lose more time.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 2 / team time trial - Garmin-Cervelo win (!) a close battle; Saxo lose more time for Alberto

Sunday,  07/03/11  08:34 PM

Garmin-Cervelo triumph in the TTT to take their first TDF win and put Thor Hushovd in yellowDon't you just love team time trials?  I do.  Great to watch, and a great addition to any stage race, as it truly features a team performance.  Today Garmen-Cervelo narrowly won - their first stage in the TDF! - edging BMC and Sky by 4 seconds, Leopard-Trek and HTC by 5, Radio Shack by 10, and Rabobank by 12.  Yes it was that close.  Unfortunately for Alberto Contador Saxo Bank were not close, and finished 28 seconds back.

The net leaves Thor Hushovd in yellow, with David Millar in second at the same time, and Cadel Evans third one second back.  You could see Thor keeping that yellow all week.  Early days but exciting!  Philippe Gilbert keeps his green and polka dot jerseys as there were no point awarded in either competition today.

Tomorrow is a dead flat sprint - look for an amazing Cavendish / Farrar / Petacchi battle!

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weekend checkpoint

Sunday,  07/03/11  08:46 PM

low bridge!How's your Fourth of July weekend going so far?  Mine is great, thanks for asking.  I've spent each day so far sailing; yesterday went cruising with my kids, and today created a custom rig on my C-15 to enable the mast to be lowered dynamically, to navigate under Westlake bridge in tomorrow's 'Round the Island race.  (Stay tuned ... the picture at right was taken in the 2008 edition, and shows the height of the bridge and a bunch of capsized boats being swum under it; I'm hoping to stay dry :) 

Meanwhile it's been a quiet weekend otherwise...

Replacing property as a source of wealth creation.  It has gradually dawned on me that each month as I make my mortgage payment of X, my house's value has decreased by 2X.  This does not make sense, when I could be renting the exact same house for 1/2 X, and it has been going on for at least two years.  What's worse, I honestly believe it will keep happening for another two years.  Huh.

Dave Winer's "no interviews" policy was working, until it wasn't.  At what point does massive editing turn a "quote" into a fabrication?  I think this is more of a judgment call than a rule; as a journalist you know when you've gone too far.

Are you an android? Are you sure?On discovering you're an androidHow would you know?  Can you design experiments to give you the answer?

Google+: an interesting product, badly marketed.  This is a nice analysis by Axel Rauschmayer.  I haven't used Google+ but based on the reports it reminds me of Microsoft .Net, a poorly named umbrella for a miscellaneous collection of features.  Some of those features might be great, but the net is not a plus.

 

happy birthday, USA!

Monday,  07/04/11  10:33 AM

235 years! long may you wave...Happy Birthday USA!  235 years of freedom =)

My biggest worry today is winning a sailboat race, hanging out with my family, and hosting an informal BBQ at our house later.  As I consider my life and lifestyle, I have to be grateful to my country and the freedom it represents which makes it possible, and also to the men and women in our armed forces which keep that lifestyle and freedom intact.

I hope you all have/had a wonderful weekend, and have a great day.  While you're relaxing or partying (or sailing or whatever) today, stop for just a few second and say, "Happy Birthday USA"!

 

TDF stage 3 / sprint - Farrar first on forth, Hushovd golden in yellow

Monday,  07/04/11  10:39 AM

Tyler Farrar wins stage 3 for his first Tour victoryTyler Farrar blasted out from a bunch sprint to win today's stage 3, featuring a golden leadout by teammate Thor Hushovd, who keeps yellow.  I thought HTC started too soon for Mark Cavandish, and Lapre never got themselves organized for Alessandro Petacchi.  Surprise Spanish sprinter Joaquin Rojas Jose of Movistar scored consistently all around to move into green, and Philippe Gilbert kept his polka dots.

the Garmin train kept on rolling, led by Thor Hushovd in yellowI like the change to the rules wherein each days features one intermediate sprint that means more to the overall sprint standings; it has given us something to watch midway through what would otherwise be pretty boring days in the flats.  There was one climb - a high bridge - which made for beautiful views but didn't do anything to the standings.  Tomorrow's stage should be a bit weird; it kind of looks flat, but there's a hilltop finish on a Cat 3 climb at the end to make things interesting.  Everyone seems to think Gilbert is going to win, but I look for Contador to establish himself, and Evans will be trying to take yellow.  Stay tuned!

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victory!

Monday,  07/04/11  08:52 PM

'Round the Island victory! (click to enbiggen)Great: sailing my C-15 for the kazillionth time in the Westlake 'Round the Island race.

Not so great: Megan decided to sail a Laser herself instead of crewing for me.

Great: a chance to do it singlehanded (!).

Not so great: reverse start gave sabots a 45 minute head start.

Great: took advantage of South wind to sail around the island "the other way".

Not so great: wind shifted to North as I exited deadwind channel.

the custom rig to lower the mast for passing under the bridge (click to enbiggen)Great: mast dropped perfectly, paddled underneath bridge, made it even into the wind.

Not so great: sabots got there about the same time (!),

Great: got mast back up and flew up to top of island, fetched it in one tack,

Not so great: met all Lasers FJs C-14s etc at the top, (but Great: they still had to negotiate bridge),

Great: flew down main channel wing-and-wing,

Not so great: sabots emerged from deadwind channel way ahead of me, but

Awesomely Great: a huge puff took me past all of them to squeak by at the line.

Also great: Meg finished in fine style, I was most proud. Pretty much a perfect day :)

 

TDF stage 4 / uphill sprint - Evans holds off Contador as Thor stays golden

Tuesday,  07/05/11  10:40 PM

Cadel Evans barely holds off Alberto Contador to win stage 4Excellent TDF stage today; a long rolling punishing ride in the fog and rain, followed by a surprisingly tough final 3km climb to a hilltop finish.  It made for some great racing; everyone thought perhaps Philippe Gilbert would win as he did on stage one, including his team and perhaps Philippe himself, but instead Cadel Evans marked him and out-powered him to the finish, holding off a last-second attack by Alberto Contador.  Thor Hushovd somehow hung with the leaders to get the same time and stay in yellow.  Great stuff.

Evans leads Contador and Gilbert on the final charge up the hillThe GC was largely unchanged with only small time gaps, but the psychological damage was done.  We now know that Evans is here for real, and Contador can be beaten uphill, and Gilbert is not invincible, and Hushovd is stronger than dirt.  And the Garmin and BMC teams are here to win.  And Radio Shack too, although Chris Horner flatted at just the wrong moment and missed his chance to mix it up on the final climb (would have been a good chance for him too).  And finally how great was it to see Alexander Vinokourov right there at the end.  It's gonna be a great Tour.

Tomorrow we have a field sprint - look for Farrar and Cavendish to do battle again...

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week two

Tuesday,  07/05/11  11:04 PM

Last week was the second week of my vacation; perhaps it is a sign that I'm settling into it that it didn't occur to me until today, after the long weekend.  Today *felt* like I was on vacation; my friends were talking about going back to work and being back at work, and I wasn't.  My schedule today was unstructured; get up, watch the Tour, screw around with computers for a while (no I can't tell you what I'm doing yet :), go for a ride, meet a friend for coffee.  Then read for a while, eat dinner, watch a movie, and ... blog about it.  Yeah I could get used to this, and maybe I am already.

computer agent - why don't computers figure out what we want before we askSo I have this idea; why do we use computers?  We use them to do stuff of course - communicate with each other, buy things, make reservations, etc.  And we use them for entertainment.  But mostly we use them to learn things - we get news about the world and about our friends and families, and products we use, and services, and so on.

So here's the thing ... computers are great at following our commands to get information for us.  Google for example.  But they aren't so great at proactively finding information.  Seems like with all that horsepower and time, they could find stuff we want before we tell them we want it.  What do you think?

Curiosity, the next Mars roverCuriosity, NASA's next Mars rover.  "The size of a small car, it's four times as heavy as predecessors Spirit and Opportunity, and comes with a large robot arm, a laser that can vaporize rocks at seven meters, a percussive drill and a weather station. Oh, and 4.8kg of plutonium-238."  Let's hope it lasts as long and is as successful as its predecessors too :)

Josh Newman quotes Robert Sutton: "All the excitement about all things new obscures the fact that most new ideas are bad and most old ideas are good. It’s a Darwinian principle: the death rate of new products and companies is dramatically higher than of old ones."  Except that as conditions change, the chances for new ideas go up and old ones go down.  The more change, the more the odds shift.

epic fail :)Don't you find that when a website requires a particular browser version, it's a horrible interface fail?  Even worse if the website requires an older browser.  I recently applied for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), so Alex can get a work-study job at LMU.  And this website requires an old browser.  I couldn't use Firefox, couldn't use Chrome, couldn't use Safari, and couldn't even use IE.  The versions I had of each of these were too new.  I'm confident all of them would have worked if the site would have let them try.  Blech.

Speaking of times changing and epic fail: GM's backlog looking a lot like 2008.  "The bailed-out automaker now has a growing inventory in its truck lines of 122 days worth of sales, nearly twice that of its non-bailout domestic competitor Ford Motors for similar lines."  What a fiasco.  Let 'em fail.

Okay one more epic fail: Twitter raising funds at $7B valuation.  This is a company without profit, which doesn't even have a business model.  When the crash comes on this one, it will come hard.

Apropos: Why Biz Stone really left Twitter.  There's no there there.

 

TDF stage 5 / windy sprint - Cav wins one ahead of Rojas and Gilbert after carnage on the road

Wednesday,  07/06/11  10:11 PM

Cavendish wins a bunch sprint to take stage 5Whew, today was one of those days on the tour; what looked to be a quiet little day along the Brittany Coast turned into carnage as the nervousness of the peloton and the narrowness of the roads combined to yield several nasty crashes.  A stiff crosswind made the finish "interesting"; but in the end it came down to a bunch sprint, with Mark Cavendish prevailing over green jersey -wearer Juan Rojas and Philippe Gilbert.  Pretty much everyone got the same time so the GC is unchanged.

Tomorrow's stage is the longest in this year's tour and features rollers all through; to me it looks like an ideal stage for a breakaway to succeed, especially after all the damage today.  It will be most interesting to see who lines up to escape, and whether the field lets them go; a complicating factor is the new intermediate sprint point.  Probably a successful breakaway will have no more than five or six riders.  We'll see!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

Simi vista

Wednesday,  07/06/11  10:22 PM

 

 

Simi vista
(click to enbiggen amazingly)

taken with my iPhone and combined with Autostitch
yes it really was *that* beautiful
the perfect view during a perfect ride

 

 

 

TDF stage 6 / long rolling sprint - Boassen Hagen outkicks Gilbert and Hushovd, GC unchanged

Thursday,  07/07/11  10:45 PM

Edvard Boasson Hagen outblasts the field to the finish of stage 6Today promised to be a lot more interesting than it was; such is the Tour.  (There are other days when you tune in thinking you're going to see three hours of parade followed by 30 seconds of sprint, only to see fireworks all through.)  I expected a breakaway to stay away, but instead a rather weak five-man group hung off the front, closely monitored, as the peloton drove on through the rollers amid rain, all of which culminated with a rather disorganized bunch sprint on a slight incline.  Edvard Boasson Hagen of Sky blasted to the front, closely pursued by Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd.  None of the true sprinters gave it a go.

Levi Leipheimer has the bad luck to crash just outside the 3km boundary, loses on a minute on GCI think today the mid-race sprint point worked against an interesting break.  The sprinters' teams kept the pressure on and nobody could get away.  Perhaps a stronger / larger break would have worked, but on the other hand a stronger / larger break wouldn't have been allowed to form in the first place.

Bad luck for Levi Leipheimer; he crashed just outside the 3km boundary, and by the time he was back up and chasing the field was in full sprint.  He ended up losing a minute on GC which he'll definitely wish he had back later in the Tour.

Tomorrow we have a pancake flat stage which probably will be three hours of parade followed by 30 seconds of sprint; but then again you never know, so stay tuned :)

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

Thursday,  07/07/11  11:01 PM

Markleeville, CAI checked in at work today; everything seems fine there, somehow they are surviving without me.  I spent the day fighting an unplanned personal fire, recovered, and ended up visiting the Center of the Universe to see the Dodgers shut out the Mets with my kids.  Final score 3 hot dogs and 1 beer.  Most excellent.

revenue vs spendingEd Morrissey: do we really have a revenue problem?  Um, no.  We have a spending problem.

Home price survey: no rebound in sight.  Sigh.  Related: Zillow's "Zestimate" shifts.  Down.  Scary :(

Just read Brad Feld's review of I am John Galt, and just bought it on my Kindle.  A great weekend read, yippee.  The ability to instantly buy and read a book you've heard about is one of the Kindle's great virtues.

'who to believe' - sculpture outside Paris' Hotel d'VilleThe grand illusion: 'who to believe', a beautiful sculpture outside Paris' city hall.  "When viewed from a specific angle, the 100 meter long grass installation appears to be a much smaller three-dimensional sphere."  Awesome!  I must see it (and I will in a few weeks :)

how to beat nine grandmasters at onceThis is cool: how to beat a chess grandmaster.  In which a magician uses memory to defeat nine expert players at once.  The clever approach is all explained, but the twist at the end is rather bewildering.

Well tomorrow I'm off; Shirley and I are driving up to Lake Topaz for the weekend, so I can ride the Death Ride on Saturday.  Blogging may be intermittent, see you next week!

 

a visit to the Center of the Universe

Thursday,  07/07/11  11:34 PM

 

 

a visit to the Center of the Universe
(click to enbiggen amazingly)

tonight my girls and I watched the Dodgers shut out the Mets
final score 3 hot dogs 1 beer
most excellent

 

 

 

TDF stage 7 / sprint - Cavendish wins, crashes knock out contenders

Sunday,  07/10/11  07:43 PM

the pack blasts toward the finishA long, wet, windy stage 7 from Le Mans to Châteauroux ended with Mark Cavendish winning another bunch sprint, his 17th overall (!), but the big news was crashes which took out Bradley Wiggins and cost Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer big time.  Alexander Vinokourov also hit the deck.  It was one of those stages where you could say the Tour cannot be won, but it certainly can be lost.  Tom Bonnen retired early on from injuries sustained in stage 6.

[Update: Chris Horner is out :(  could not start stage 8.  boo!  I guess now we root for Kloden!]

Stage 8 is rather interesting; with an uphill finish and lots of rollers, it doesn't look like a sprint stage, yet it isn't a pure mountain stage either.  Maybe a break will get away?  Stay tuned...

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

TDF stage 8 / rollers - Da Costa wins from break, Gilbert takes green

Sunday,  07/10/11  07:56 PM

Philippe Gilbert blasts away from the peloton on the final climbRui Da Costa hung on from a break to take stage 8 of the Tour de France, while Philippe Gilbert blasted away from the peloton to take glory and the green jersey.  And interestingly Cadel Evans hung on to beat Alberto Contador, after he attacked on the final climb.  It is starting to look like Alberto doesn't quite have it this year, and/or Cadel does.  Meanwhile Gilbert animates everything; I really like him (even though he's Belgian :).  Also interesting Teejay Van Garderen attacked the break and looked great, taking the polka dots.  Onward!

TDF stage 9 features eight catagorized climbs; look for a break to succeedStage 9 is rather interesting; with eight categorized climbs it cannot be considered flat or easy (in fact it can be considered a leg-breaker), yet it isn't a mountain stage either.  With a rest day ahead I predict a successful breakaway for the first time this tour, as the GC contenders rest up and recuperate and the sprinters wait for next week.  Stay tuned...

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

TDF stage 9 - Sanchez wins from break, Voeckler takes yellow; unbelievable crashes continue

Sunday,  07/10/11  08:02 PM

TV car swerves into break, hitting Flecha and knocking Hoogerland into fence :(Wow.  Stage 9 of the Tour had a little of everything; eight categorized climbs (some of those Cat 2s were pretty tough), a powerful breakaway destined to succeed, horrible crashes which took out several contenders and injured others, and a TV car running riders off the road, changing the results of the race.  If you missed it, go back and watch.  Wow.

Johnny Hoogerland is knocked into barbed-wire fence; he continued (!) and took the polka dot jerseyToday's break was not five guys out to get TV time for their teams, they knew they had a chance, and they rode like it.  Chasing behind the peloton had a number of horrible crashes, and Dave Zabriske, Alexander Vinokourov, and Jurgen van den Broeck were forced to retire.  With the finish in sight a TV car swerved into the five-man breakaway, hitting Juan Antonio Flecha and knocking him to the deck, and causing him to crash into Johnny Hoogerland who somersaulted into a barbed wire fence.  This enabled Luis-Leon Sanchez and Thomas Voeckler to escape, with Sanchez ultimately winning the stage but putting Voeckler solidly in Yellow, two minutes ahead of the GC contenders.

Luis-Leon Sanchez leads break; he ultimately won and sits second on GCWith a rest day tomorrow that leaves the GC at Voeckler in yellow, Sanchez (1:49), Cadel Evans (2:26), Frank Schleck (2:29), and Andy Schleck (2:37).  Other contenders include Andreas Kloden (2:32), Ivan Basso (3:36), Robert Gesink (4:01), and Alberto Contador (4:07).  You could have won money betting that Contador would be in 16th that far back after week one.  After the rest day there are a couple of days for the sprinters - 5 hours of touring followed by 5 minutes of racing - and then Thursday (ta da!) we go into the Pyrenees, with stage 12 featuring a Cat 1 and two HCs.  Yay.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

surviving the Death Ride

Sunday,  07/10/11  08:21 PM

Well I did it (again); rode the famous Markleeville Death Ride and lived to tell about it, 129 miles, 15,000 feet of climbing over 5 mountain passes in the High Sierras, and whew 1 big smile at the end of it.  This ride does not get any easier and in fact this year I was in worse shape than previous years, and really struggled in the second half.  I must get in more miles if I'm to be successful at the 508.  Oh well I have three months left and must use the time wisely.

This year the new wrinkle was snow; the Ebbett's pass had a lot of it everywhere, which cooled the air a bit and made for even more beautiful scenery.  All the rivers were flowing wildly and there were waterfalls everywhere.  I love it.  The Monitor Pass views were even more incredible than usual with snow on the surrounding mountain tops too.  And in a twist, the Carson Pass was hotter than usual; twice before I've been rained on during that final long climb, but this year I was broiled (or maybe I was toasted :).  Anyway whew I made it.

BTW must note, I have completely cut over to using my iPhone as my camera, and I am now running IOS 5 beta 2, which nearly saved my life several times as it is so much easier now to launch the camera app; no more futzing to enter access codes etc.  You pull out the camera, double click, click the camera icon, and use the "+" hardware button to take pictures.  Excellent.

Here are some pictures, you can find more in the gallery on my website:


the official route map (click to enbiggen)


the route: 129 miles and 15,000 feet,
out from Markleeville up and over Monitor Pass and down to Topaz,
then back up over Monitor and down into the valley,
then up and over Ebbett's Pass down to Bear Valley,
then back up over Ebbett's and down into the valley,
past Markleeville to Woodford's,
and then up to the top of Carson Pass (yay!),
and finally back down and over to Markleeville.
Whew.


I still love the novelty of the Places map on the iPhone :)


early morning, up the first climb on Monitor Pass (yawn)


so far so good, climbing Monitor


emerging over the top into the valley with Checkpoint One


down to Topaz, a beautiful descent


traffic jam at the foot of the pass,
riders coming down and riders going back up


climbing back up Monitor, longest climb of the day
Yikes!


panoramic view down to Lake Topaz (click to enbiggen)


boy scouts help out at the checkpoints - excellent


incredible views from the top of Monitor looking West
wow!


climbing Ebbett's, Kinney Reservoir provides a beautiful vista (click to enbiggen)


after descending Ebbett's the meadows are amazing; note overflowing river


the town of Markleeville, our charming host


climbing Carson, the last bit is the worst but the end is in sight


checkpoint at the top of Carson, lots of happy death riders!


yay, made it; here posing with the official poster


descending back down the view of Red Lake is always amazing

Another year, another Death Ride in the books...  Cheers and onward!

 

long weekend

Sunday,  07/10/11  11:43 PM

incredible Dale Ford model wagon at the Lake Topaz LodgeWe're back!  After a long weekend; Friday Shirley and I drove up to Lake Topaz, Saturday I rode the Death Ride in Markleeville, and today we drove back.  It was great - seemed like we were gone forever - and I'll have more to say about the trip later, but for now a quick filter pass...

Another thoughtful post from Scott "Dilbert" Adams: Opinions vs Ideas.  Would it help to separate ideas from the people who espouse them?  Don't know.  It is certainly true that our reaction to an idea is spun by the context in which we hear it.  Interesting.

Stephen Green: the Bistromath economy.  "The numbers, they are awful."  I think there is a realization now that we're truly headed in the wrong direction, and furthermore, it will take time to turn ourselves around.  Sigh.

Powerline: Our excuser-in-chief.  "One wonders whether, when the history of this era is written, today might go down as a turning point."  Maybe.

Dave Winer (formerly an Obama supporter, then an Obama apologist): Maybe Obama will withdraw from the 2012 race.  "Obama is so deeply mired in this mess with the deficit. Perhaps the best thing to do is resign himself to being a one-term President and let the Democrats nominate someone else, who can run on a different platform."  I would be best for the country and the Democratic party, but don't count on it.

Shuttle Atlantis crew ready for launchPic of the weekend: Shuttle Atlantis crew ready for launch.  They will be the last...  I was never a fan of the Shuttle, but I'm sad that we don't have more manned space activity to replace it.  I guess having private companies take over makes sense, but it will take awhile; meanwhile the Shuttle blasts off into history.

Here's a cool history of the Space Shuttle in pictures.  Can you remember where you were when the Challenger blew up?  I can.  I think we all can.

Rand Simberg: six false lessons of the space shuttle.

Brad Feld: things I learned during my first week in Paris.  (e.g, "Lunch takes two hours here. That’s a good thing.")  Good to know.  My own trip to Paris is now less than two weeks away!

mysterious Pittsburgh protractorThis is most excellent: the mysterious protractors of Pittsburgh.  Sounds like something from a William Gibson novel, and who knows, maybe it is :)

Huh.  When women confuse being asked out with being raped at knifepoint.  In which "no means no" has become "no means you should not have asked".  Sigh.

boat + bike = ????Excellent!  Boat + Bike = ????

How to make text look interesting.  Interestingly, it is kind of boring :P

Out here in California, the imminent closing of the 405 freeway for two days is causing great angst.  It is being called Carmeggedon.  Predictably, Hitler reacts.

Longtime mobile device advocate Russell Beattie reviews the HP TouchPad.  "Anyone beyond the most fervent early adopter would be very disappointed with their experience after opening their new TouchPad."  Yikes.

ZooBorn: a Pygmy Slow LorisZooborn of the weekend: a Pygmy Slow Loris.

Dave Winer reacts to Google+: I'm still yawning.  Having received a number of invitations to join, I'm a little afraid of it; first, I don't want to mess up my Google experience when I use Gmail etc, and second, I don't need another place to post, as balancing my blog and my Facebook is already a challenge.  If someone can explain why I should use Google+ I would be most grateful.

 

TDF rest day #1 - thoughts

Monday,  07/11/11  07:43 PM

The parade over the Passage du Gois was the Grand DepartA few thoughts on the 2011 Tour de France, as of the first rest day:

  • The race for GC is still wide open.  No serious climbing yet, no big selections.
  • There's going to be an interesting race for the green jersey.
  • The crashes in the first week were worse than usual, and eliminated more contenders than usual.  Bradley Wiggens, Jurgen van den Broek, Chris Horner, Alexander Vinokourv.
  • Alberto Contador had a bad week, lost four minutes, and crashed a lot.  But he's still right there.  Plus he won no stages and looked vulnerable.
  • Cadel Evans had a great week, he's in the lead among the contenders, and stayed out of trouble.  Plus he won a stage and looked strong.
  • Andy and Frank Schleck also had great weeks, they're right there, no crashes.
  • The sprint battles have been pretty much as expected, with Mark Cavandish winning two stages, but Tyler Farrar got one and so did Eduard Boassen Hagen.  Meanwhile Jose Joaquin Rosas has stayed close all the time.
  • Thor Hushovd was a great leader for the first week.  He looked good in yellow, and he'll be up there battling for green you can be sure.
  • Rabobank has reason to smile, with Luis-Leon Sanchez winning a stage and sitting in second place, and Robert Gesink in the white jersey and in the GC hunt.  Sanchez could stay up there, he's a great climber and a solid time trialer.
  • Johnny Hoogerland's horrible crash and subsequent recovery have made him a hero.  I doubt seriously he can hang on to the polka dots, but who knows.
  • Thomas Voeckler in yellow is awesome.  Everyone likes him, and while he isn't a threat to win overall, he could hang on to it longer than anyone thinks.

My picks for overall:  Cadel Evans to win, Phillippe Gilbert in green, Samuel Sanchez in polka dots, Robert Gesink in white.  Stay tuned :)

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

Megan and class on the capital steps

Monday,  07/11/11  08:06 PM

Last May Megan and her Oaks Christian Middle School class went on a 10-day history trip to the East Coast, visiting Washington, Philadelphia, and Boston.  While in Washington they met briefly on the capital steps with Elton Gallegly, our congressman, and posed for this excellent photo:


(click to enbiggen)

Pretty cool :)

 

touring the Sierras

Monday,  07/11/11  08:15 PM

Last weekend Shirley and I had a chance to tour the California Sierras, and it was amazing.  Friday we drove through the central valley (yes it was 110in Fresno) and then into Yosemite from the West, ending up in Markleeville for dinner, Saturday I rode the Death Ride (a tour of the Sierras in itself), and Sunday we drove back down the Eastern Sierras, stopping at Mono Lake and the Mammoth Lakes to admire the incredible views.  It is so nice traveling this way when you're not in a hurry, pulling over to see all the sights, reading the historical markers, and generally experiencing the scenery instead of just watching it pass by the windows.

Some pictures, in case they are of interest:


Our route: up the central valley into Yosemite and the high Sierras,
then back down the Eastern Sierras past Mono Lake and Mammoth Lakes
(Kind of cool having the profile; the crosshair is at Lake Topaz)


big sky in the central valley
(not pictured, 110o heat!)


up up up into the mountains we go
yay, pine trees


incredible panorama from Big Tree (click to enbiggen)


birds of prey in Hell's Kitchen


OMG snow in mid-July


Alpine Lake panorama (click to enbiggen)


waterfalls everywhere


Mosquito Lake - still nearly frozen over


beautiful streams splashing along Ebbett's Pass


our amazing dinner companion at Stonefly in Markleeville


amazing model wagons by Dale Ford at the Lake Topaz Lodge


Mono Lake from the top of Sherman Pass
wow


Mono Lake: Black Point - Negit Island - Paoha Island


Twin Lakes seen from below...


... and from above :)


reflecting at Lake Mamie


Horseshoe Lake


who knew?  a French bistro in Independence
(thank you Yelp)

We hope to do this again soon...  there are so many amazing places to explore, and they really aren't far away.  Stay tuned!

 

TDF stage 10 / sprint - Griepel takes one from Cavendish

Tuesday,  07/12/11  07:23 PM

After a rest day, another flat day in the Tour, another bunch sprint, and another win for Mark Cavendish Andre Greipel wins!  Yay for him, and yay for the Tour.  There was another crash involving big names - Fabian Cancellara, Levi Leipheimer, Robert Gesink, and Christian Van de Velde - but fortunately they were all able to continue and didn't lose time.  It was most excellent at the end to see Philippe Gilbert attack out on a break with Thomas Voeckler - how often do you see the yellow and green jerseys out on a break? - but they were inevitably sucked back into the peloton.  A little more of an incline and perhaps a little better timing and Gilbert would have had a chance.

Tomorrow is another flag day which will probably feature another bunch sprint; look for Cavendish to reassert himself :)

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

Tuesday,  07/12/11  07:41 PM

guess what this is?Just got back from a hard ride, so it must be time ... filter pass!

See that bike over there to the right?  Guess what that is?  Yes you are right, that is my next bike.  Stay tuned :)

Once again, Paul Ryan takes on Obama.

Amazon's CTO Werner Vogels on the Facebook / MySQL non-controversy: "scaling data systems in real life has humbled me. I would not dare criticize an architecture that the holds social graphs of 750M and works."  Exactly.

TechCrunch logoRedesigning TechCrunch.  Blech.  Naval gazing raised to the third power.  The logo is fine, but making such a big deal out of it isn't...

Way cool: how Leica lenses are made.  Amazingly it is still a pretty manual process.

3D-printed toolsThe progress made by 3D printing technology is amazing; here we have 3D-printed tools!  It is amazing that the parts can be interleaved in three dimensions.  And colored too!

An open letter: save the James Webb space telescope!  Join Votizen and sign the petition today.  (I like Votizen a lot, what a cool concept...)  [ via LGF ]

map of America as seen by a New Yorker :)A map of America as seen by New Yorker.  Some of this rings so true...  I love it :)

So I was wondering about whether I should use Google+?  Eric Raymond is planning to use it for microblogging.  Well that's all very exciting, we'll see whether it sticks.  Mostly when people tried to use Twitter for that, they tried it but eventually went back.

Dutch powerplant clad in Delft Blau tilesWell I had to link this: a Dutch powerplant completely clad in Delft Blau tiles.  Awesome!

 

TDF stage 11 / sprint - Cavendish beats Greipel, takes green

Wednesday,  07/13/11  11:06 PM

Mark Cavendish wins a bunch sprint to take stage 11Today's stage 11 of the TDF was the most boring yet; a long flat ride through the middle of France which ended in a bunch sprint and Mark Cavendish winning again, giving him the green jersey.  Ho hum.

stage 12 is the first mountain stage, with a Cat 1 and two HC climbs. yay!But tomorrow there will be fireworks, as the Tour moves into the Pyrenees and we have the first real climbing stage.  It will be the first real selection with the GC contenders battling on the final climb.  Alberto Contador is going to have to take time back somewhere, and I suspect he'll try to do it here.  Cadel Evans will just need to stay close.  And Frank and Andy Schleck, well, they need as much time as they have and more to hold off Alberto and Cadel, who are better time trialers.  Actually the next three stages are all killers; the whole complexion of the tour will be different by the end of the weekend.  (See John Wilcockson's analysis for more...)  I can't wait!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

one week to go

Wednesday,  07/13/11  11:17 PM

dinner with Alexis: priceless!Today was a great day; got up, watched the Tour, worked out, did a little coding (!), went for a great ride with a friend, had a dinner date with Alexis (but ran out of gas :), and then ... blogged!

One more week and then ... we're off to Paris and Amsterdam!  Cannot wait...

Yikes: 20% drop in housing to cause recession in 2012.  I wish I didn't really believe this is going to happen, but I really do.  Sigh.

last NASA spacewalk!And so the last NASA spacewalk marks the end of an era.  So cool ... we must get going with more space missions somehow.  If only to have more of these amazing pictures :)

Reminds me of a joke, that it was cheaper to send men to the moon than to make a movie about it.

Have you ever wondered what is HTML5?  Now you know :)

PayPal announces NFC phone-to-phone payments for Android.  Cool.  You might not know, but PayPal's original product was PDA-to-PDA payments for Palm Pilots using IR.  Only incidentally did they build a web interface to allow users to make payments to each other without their Palms, and the rest is history.  I don't think there's a significant market for phone-to-phone payments, but there's a huge market for phone-to-merchant payments, especially if PayPal can disintermediate the exchange fees.

Pastafarian license :)Truth is stranger than the Onion: Pastafarian wins right to wear colander in license photo.  You cannot invent this stuff, it's too crazy.

Lance Armstrong's "butterfly" racing bikeFive insane vehicles that go like hell.  A great list that includes Oracle's amazing trimaran ... and Lance Armstrong's "butterfly" racing bike.

Onward... tomorrow we have the Tour's first mountain stage (yay!), and then Shirley and I are off to Pasadena as tourists for a couple of days...  stay tuned.

 

TDF stage 12 / mountains! - Sammy Sanchez wins as GC contenders take more time from Contador

Friday,  07/15/11  02:23 PM

(sorry couldn't post last night; we were celebrating Bastille Day in Pasadena ... we did toast Thomas Voeckler :)

Samuel Sanchez attacks on the final climb to win stage 12!Wow, did you see yesterday's stage 12?  Amazing!  *That* is why you watch the Tour, what a great stage.  You can read the blow-by-blow as Sammy Sanchez prevailed in the end (yay, he's a great rider, surprising to read that the reining gold medallist hadn't won a Tour stage before this one).  This was the first stage where we really saw how this Tour is shaping up, and here's what we learned:

  • Thomas Voeckler is magnificent!  On Bastille Day he hung right up there with the strongest climbers in the world to keep his yellow jersey.  Vive Le France!
  • Sammy Sanchez can pedal up an elevator.  When he attached on the final climb up Luz-Ardiden nobody could follow him, it was only a matter of whether he burned himself up.  He has the polka dots now and he could keep them all the way to Paris.
  • Frank Schleck is en forme.  When he attached at the end, the GC contenders could not go with him.  He ran out of road or he might have caught Sanchez too.
  • Ivan Basso is looking great.  He hung right in there with everyone, calm and cool, and finished in the lead of the GC contenders' pack quite easily.  He's a good time trialist and if he continues to climb like this, look out.  Remember he finished second to Lance twice.
  • Cadel Evans is looking great too.  As the guy with the lowest time of the GC contenders and as a great time trialist himself, he doesn't have to attack, just hold serve.  Which he did.
  • Andy Schleck was pushed.  Yeah he finished with the GC men, but he had to work to stay up there.  Interesting.
  • Alberto Contador is hurting.  He will heal and get stronger, but today he could not follow Frank's attack, and in fact he lost more time on the GC pack at the finish.  The key to this Tour is how fast he heals, can he be the Contador of old in the Alps?
  • Andreas Kloden was hurt before this stage, and fell again during.  I think he's too injured to be a factor.  Too bad, because like Basso he's finished second twice and he's a great rider.
  • Levi Leipheimer is a great rider but can't climb with the world's best.  He was dropped there at the end.  Boo.  The Shack are snakebit in this Tour.
  • Robert Gesink is too injured to be a factor.  Luis-Leon Sanchez is not a world-class climber.  Looks like Lawrence Ten Dam (aka "wolfman") is Rabobank's best hope for a high GC spot.
  • Johnny Hoogerland gave defending the polka dots a great shot, but he didn't have it, if indeed he ever did.  He gets the hero award for riding this stage with 33 stitches however, they should have a purple jersey for most courageous :)
  • Tom Danielson looks to be the top American on GC, riding for Garmen.  Christian Van de Velde will be a good ally for him, and Garmen have the second strongest team in the race.
  • Leopard Trek have the strongest team, no question.  Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, man.  They drove the peloton up the hills in this stage.

I gotta say, I love Jens Voigt; not only did he absolutely power the peloton over the hills in this stage, he has a blog, and recently did a great interview of his teammates the Schlecks (PDF) in Bicycling Magazine.  Go Jens!

Tour de France stage 13 profileWell that was great, so what's on for stage 13?  Well it features an HC climb up Col d'Aubisque but given the distance from the summit to the finish, it doesn't look like a day for a climber to win.  I suspect a break will form and an all-arounder will prevail, as the GC men wait for stage 14 which is another killer.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

camping in Pasadena

Friday,  07/15/11  03:03 PM

Shirley and I spent yesterday in Pasadena, walking around Old Town and touring the Norton Simon museum, and generally having a nice day.  We enjoyed a great Bastille Day prix fix at Maison Akira (Beef Bourguignon, of course, with a nice Burgundy ... and of course we toasted Thomas Voeckler).  And then today we headed over to Azusa Pacific college to watch the "camp finals" of Megan's Cheerleader Camp; wow, is she good!  A nice couple of days...


Pasadena City Hall


in Old Town ... hats!


Green Castle


the Norton Simon Museum...


...with a lot of beautiful stuff to see


Auguste Rodin is amazing


the beautiful sculpture garden


"waterfall"


I love this piece ... with its sense of peace


Claude Monet is one of my favorites


and Vincent Van Gogh ... what can you say
this piece has to be seen from across the room, it looks like a backlit photograph


a huge work which looks photographic from across the hall
up close it is all just blobs of paint


celebrating Bastille Day at Maison Akira
awesome!


Go Cheer Camp!  Go Lions!  Go Megan!

Onward into the weekend!  A nice relaxing one ... before we head out to Paris and Amsterdam :)

 

TDF stage 13 / mountains - Hushovd wins improbably in most excellent fashion, GC unchanged

Friday,  07/15/11  06:05 PM

Thor Hushovd improbably but most excellently wins stage 13 with a great breakaway across the mountainsYou could have made a lot of money betting on Thor Hushovd to win today's stage 13 in the TDF, but you would have had to had big balls, exactly like the kind he displayed in getting into an early break, attacking from it, getting caught and passed on the massive climb of the Col d'Aubisque, but then blasting down the back at 70mph to win.  Wow.  You sit down, you turn on the Tour, and you never know what will happen.  Most of the rest of the peloton took the day off, but poor Andreas Kloden had to withdraw from his injuries, the fourth Radio Shack rider to do so.  Thomas Voeckler held the yellow jersey easily, and Jeremy Roy took over the polka dots by winning up the Aubisque.  By winning the stage Hushovd moves up in the green jersey competition (but can anyone explain why he didn't contest the intermediate sprint?)

TDF 2011 stage 14 profileOn to tomorrow, perhaps the decisive stage of this year's tour, with six climb on offer including a mountaintop finish at the top of Plateau de Beille, one of the most feared climbs in the Pyrenees.  I'm looking for a big break to take off over all those early climbs, with the GC leaders staying together, but then heavy attacking from the base of the final climb.  My own pick is Contador to win - he will assert himself, he has to - but Andy and Frank Schleck will stay close enough to avoid damage, and Cadel Evans will move into yellow.  Wild cards include Ivan Basso, who looked great in stage 12, and Samuel Sanchez, who won it and who could reclaim polka dots.  I cannot wait!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

pitch to the bishop (New Yorker, 7/4/11)

Friday,  07/15/11  06:12 PM

 

Perfect!
(winner of a New Yorker caption contest)

 

month one

Friday,  07/15/11  06:38 PM

mountain biking has been one way I've spent my time offSo ... it has been one month since I started my extended vacation, four weeks since I returned from a business trip to Europe and began ... "doing nothing".  I've done quite a bit of cycling, both mountain and road (including the Grand Tour and the Death Ride), and some sailing (including winning the Round the Island Race), and some traveling around (including touring the Sierras and camping in Pasadena), and planned for our cool vacation to Europe which starts next week.  I've spent lots of time hanging out with Shirley and my girls.  In between I've done a lot of thinking, too.  I have some stuff to work on, and I'm working on it.  So far it's been a great break.

Oh, and of course I've been following the Tour! and ... blogging!

high-speed rail: planned corridor designationsThis is too bad: Let's face it, High Speed Rail is dead.  Like so many of President Obama's promises, this one was not to be.  Go anywhere in Europe and you are immediately struck by how much better their public transportation is than ours.  I know, they have more density, and that is important, but we just don't invest in infrastructure anymore.

Similarly, we don't invest in R&D anymore: SpaceX: Life after the Space Shuttle.  I am a big supporter of private industry over government funding, let's hope SpaceX are successful.

Mona Lisa in 140 dotsThis is amazing: Mona Lisa in 140 dots.  Up close, nothing, across the room, well, you can see for yourself.  There are two effects working together here; first, the way your brain integrates dots of color into a coherent picture, and second, the fact that you've seen the Mona Lisa before, so you recognize it immediately.

Bonus question: okay, so the Mona Lisa itself is copyrighted, but what about this "piece"?  Are these 140 dots copyrighted too?  At what point does a derivation like this become a separate work?  Fascinating.

John Patrick considers Google+ and Facebook.  "Circles are a big deal and clearly the differentiator."  I agree all friends are not alike, and it is sometimes tough to decide who should be a Facebook friend.  (Or a LinkedIn connection.)  But I could see gardening your circles taking quite a lot of time.  Who gets to see what?  Which people belong in which circles?  If it becomes too much work, you won't do it.  Right now Google+ is new and people are spending a lot of time with it, but will they continue to do so?  We'll see.

BTW so far I have evaded Google+'s charms; I have a number of invitations but somehow having one more place to "do stuff" is not compelling.  I already have a little dance between my blog and my Facebook.

Bonus: What Apple could learn from Google+.  Huh.  I keep wondering, what is the problem they're solving here?

Eichhorn accordionsThis is awesome: a YouTube video about the Schwyzerörgerli, a Swiss accordion first developed by the company Eichhorn.  I love it!

'405' - in honor of carmaggedonTomorrow is carmaggedon!  In celebration, please watch this classic short movie, "405", a cult classic.  [ via Doc Searles ]

 

TDF stage 14 / mountains - Jesse Vanendert wins (!) while contenders play on final climb / Voeckler keeps yellow

Saturday,  07/16/11  08:43 PM

Jelle Vanendert is the surprise climber of this year's tour, winning stage 14 and taking the polka dot jerseyToday's stage 14 was the consummate Pyrenean stage, with six categorized climbs and a finish atop the HC Plateau de Beille.  You would think *this* would be a decisive stage, with a definitive selection, but ... no.  After much jockeying around a solo attack on the last climb by Jelle Vanendert was allowed to succeed (you will remember he finished second two days ago atop Luz-Ardiden, and now finds himself in the polka dot jersey) and despite a series of half-hearted attacks the GC contenders all finished together.  The surprise of the day was Thomas Voeckler, who stayed right there with the leaders and now must be considered a possibility to take his yellow jersey all the way to Paris.  (Nobody is more surprised by Voeckler's success than Voeckler :)

[ Update: John Wilcockson is not impressed by the Tour's seven dwarfs.  As I consider his remarks, we may well look back on this stage as a missed opportunity for the Schlecks. ]

an awesome sculpture celebrates cycling on the Plateau de BeilleSome interesting subplots did emerge: Samuel Sanchez finishes second, a clear 30s ahead of the pack, to move into sixth and declare his candidacy for the podium, as well as King of the Mountains.  Levi Leipheimer was nowhere to be seen, nor was Robert Gesink, nor Tom Danielson.  The GC contenders now (in order of likelihood of victory) are Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Alberto Contador (who looked better but not great), Andy and Frank Schleck, Sanchez, and Voeckler.  Another interesting subplot was Mark Cavendish' bid to hold his green jersey, his team pulled him in over the time limit with just a minute to spare.

Tomorrow is a ho-hum sprint - well it could be exciting, because it's the last of this year's Tour until Paris - and after that we have a rest day, four mountain stages in the Alps including two mountain top finishes, and the final time trial in Grenoble.  So there's a lot left - stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

TDF stage 15 / sprint - Cavendish wins another (yawn) as GC start rest day early

Sunday,  07/17/11  11:45 PM

Cavandish gets launched by HTC-Highroad to take stage 15Today's stage 15 of the Tour was pretty predictable; the last flat stage of this tour yielded a bunch sprint, and Mark Cavandish won.  I guess we have to salute HTC-Highroad and Cavandish for having absolutely the best leadout and sprint train in the world, but it doesn't make for great theater.  If Tyler Farrar or Andre Greipel or Alessandro Petacchi weren't in the race, it wouldn't be interesting at all, but I guess their presence does make for a little drama.  But only a little.  Now the main suspense will be to see whether Cavandish can make the time limit on the alpine stages ahead, because if he does he's bound to win in Paris, and he's bound to win the green jersey.  So be it.

By the way, in case you're wondering about intermediate sprints, in Tuesday's stage 16 to Gap the intermediate sprint comes before the main climb but it is uphill, so perhaps Gilbert or Hushovd can get points.  In Wednesday's stage 17 the sprint comes before the main climbing but again it is in the hills, so again maybe it won't be a field sprint.  In Thursday's stage 18 the sprint point is way early, long before the climbs, and in Friday's stage 19 the sprint point is right near the end but after a long descent.  So there is some chance for others to take points from Cavandish.  I rate Gilbert as the biggest threat, since he's a much better climber, but he's 71 points behind.

Meanwhile tomorrow is a rest day - boo! - and then we have four alpine stages in a row - yay! - followed by the time trial.  Those should be maximally great.  Onward...

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calm before storm

Sunday,  07/17/11  11:57 PM

the calm before the stormThis weekend felt like the calm before the storm; it's going to be quite a week.  I puttered around, cycled a little, sailed a little, and worked out a little, watched the tour, and hung out.  In between I worked on my tan (coming around nicely) and worked on my head (not coming around quite as nicely, sigh).  Onward!

Sea and Sky - the Southern OceanThis is so beautiful: Sea and Sky...  yes, you *must* click through to watch it, and you must watch it full screen.  Wow!  [ via the horse's mouth ]

Excellent!  Dawn spacecraft slips into orbit around Vesta.  "Dawn has become the first probe ever to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Researchers are now gauging the spacecraft’s orbit around the huge space rock."  We have a spacecraft orbiting an asteroid?  Who knew!

I had an interesting email exchange with my friend Gary about the role of governments in sponsoring "big" projects, like infrastructure, or basic research, or healthcare.  It seems they definitely do have a role.  We would not have Dawn if it weren't for government sponsorship.  But the limits of that role are most difficult to establish, and right now it would seem our government is trying to do too much...

John Patrick: Personal Health Records.  On Google's withdrawal from this field, and Microsoft's ongoing entry, and the role of government.  There is no doubt that PHR will be big, but how big, and how fast?

whale shark tankThe world's largest shark tank, available via webcam.  How cool is that?  For maximum enjoyment, please maximize your window.  I can remember when screen savers which looked like aquariums were all the rage.  And now we can have video from an actual aquarium.  Awesome!

transparent eel larva - how amazing!Something equally amazing: transparent eel larva.  Just when you think you've seen it all...  [ via American Digest ]


Apostle Islands' sunsetAnd finally a rather amazing sunset over the Apostle Islands, to end the weekend...

 

TDF rest day #2 - pictures

Monday,  07/18/11  09:56 PM

Today is the Tour's second rest day; tomorrow begins the first of four Alpine stages (including two mountaintop finishes, one atop the Col du Galibier! and one atop Alpe d'Huez!).  After that is the long ITT in Grenoble, and the finishing parade in Paris.  Rainy weather is predicted and it should be an amazing shootout all week; I can't wait.

In the meantime here's some pictures from the first two weeks:


stage 1: the Passage du Gois


stage 2: Led by Thor Hushovd, Garmin win the team time trial


stage 3: Tyler Farrar wins his first TDF stage


stage 4: Evans asserts himself to beat Contador, win stage


stage 5: crashes in a nervous peloton


stage 6: Bossen Hagen wins amid more crashes


stage 7: the peloton in a quiet mood, for the moment


stage 8: Vinokourov almost pulled it off
this is how I will remember him as a rider, on the attack


stage 9: lots of climbing, a breakaway which succeeded, and more crashes
(including a runaway TV car which took out two riders in the break)


stage 10: sprint, with Andre Greipel edging Mark Cavendish


stage 11: the beautiful sunflowers on a rainy day


stage 12: Pyrenean mountains, wow, the climb up to Luz-Ardinen


stage 13: more mountains, and a long descent to the finish let Thor Hushovd escape


stage 14: Plateau de Beille with perhaps the steepest finish of this Tour


stage 15: Voeckler in yellow, amid his team; they had an amazing week

It is truly the calm before the Alpine storm.  Will Voeckler hold yellow?  Can Evans finally win?  Will the Schlecks attack, and will it work?  Can Contador defend?  We'll see ... onward!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

 

Palo Comado Canyon

Monday,  07/18/11  10:24 PM

Great mountain bike ride with my friend Bill today, we climbed the Chesbro loop up to China Flats, and I managed to capture this exquisite vista of Palo Comado Canyon on the way up:


(click to enbiggen!)

The amount of color in these hills as the sun goes down is incredible.  Can't wait to do it again :)

 

birds of a feather (New Yorker, 7/11/11)

Tuesday,  07/19/11  09:08 PM

 

"birds of a feather"

another awesome New Yorker cover celebrates summer!
...and friends...
what would one be without the other

 

 

TDF stage 16 / mountains - great racing! Hushovd wins from break, Evans takes time on GC

Tuesday,  07/19/11  09:11 PM

Contador attacks!Today's Tour de France stage 16 was a pure pleasure, it had all the elements of great racing, with many riders motivated to get in a break, a chasing peloton, a tough final climb that made a big selection, and a nasty descent which enabled Thor Hushovd to win from the break and Cadel Evans to take time on all the GC contenders.  For me this was the stage of the Tour so far; if you haven't watched the Tour and want to watch one stage, make it this one.

Alberto Contador roused himself to make some great attacks, and broke clear of the Schlecks and some other contenders like Ivan Basso, but couldn't shake Evans and Samuel Sanchez, who seem to be the strongest climbers this year.  And Thomas Voeckler continues to amaze; not only was he in the mix all through, but even answered a couple of Contador's attacks himself before losing a little time in the end.  He is truly a worthy yellow jersey wearer and I look for him to keep it again tomorrow, only to lose it on the Galibier Thursday.  We'll see.

By the way there were two Norweigens in the race, Hushovd and Edvard Boessen Hagen, and they finished one-two.  What are the odds of that?  And kudos to Ryder Hesjedal who led the break up the climb and then worked perfectly with Garmin teammate Hushovd on the descent to get the win.

Tour de france stage 17 profileTomorrow's stage is similar to today's, with perhaps more climbing; it is interesting that they have the intermediate sprint after a cat 3 climb, which may allow Philippe Gilbert or perhaps Hushovd to take points from the pure sprinters like Mark Cavendish and Jose Rojas.  And then we have a serious cat 1 climb into Italy before a long long long descent and then a final cat 2 climb before a descent to the finish.  It could definitely be another day for a breakaway, much like today, as well as a day for a selection on GC, much like today.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

we're off!

Tuesday,  07/19/11  09:28 PM

Paris: le Arc de TriompheFinal post before getting on a plane tomorrow and heading to Europe.  It's going to be great!  I don't know how much time I'll have for blogging, so I apologize in advance if I have to catch up later.  Please have a great time if we don't see each other :)

Sorry for posting so much about the Tour de France, I know, you don't care, but I do, and this is my blog, eh?  We're actually going to be in Paris for the final stage on the Champs d'Elysee next Sunday, how cool is that?  And there's a nonzero chance we might go down to Grenoble for the time trials on Saturday, too.  So I'm afraid there's more Tour blogging ahead!

zillow track of my house over the past ten yearsWant to see something sad?  This isn't a Tour de France stage profile, it's the value profile of my house over the past ten years, according to Zillow.  As you can see, the last five years erased the gains of the first.  Now the more-than-$64,000 question is, what will happen from here?  Is this the bottom and will prices recover, or are they going to go down further?

Susannah Breslin: How not to be unemployed.  I am always stuck by how useless the "normal" advice for job-seekers feels.  I especially liked her emphasis on networking over resume sending.  That feels dead-on.

"this painting is not available in your country"Awesome counterpoint to country-level rights: this painting is not available in your country.  What's especially ironic is that this picture is on Flickr, where it is rights-restricted :)

John Gruber, regarding the new Google+ app for the iPhone: "An interesting app for a service I do not enjoy. It does not solve my fundamental problem with Google+, which is that it feels like work to use."  See, that's my problem too.  In fact, it feels like work just to explain why I don't want to use it.

Doonesbury on teaching creationismDoonesbury on teaching creationism.  I love it.

Why can't we fix Medicare once and for all?  Geoff Colvin makes too much sense in Fortune.

Okay, that's it, we're off.  Have fun and stay tuned!

 

TDF stage 17 / mountains - Boassen Hagen wins this time, GC mostly unchanged despite Contador attacks

Saturday,  07/23/11  11:01 AM

(written retrospectively on the train to Grenoble, to watch stage 20; stay tuned for more about that :)

Edvard Boassen Hagen wins stage 17, after finishing second the day before!So stage 16 was unexpectedly great, with everything, while stage 17 was unexpectedly pedestrian, despite having pretty much the same setup as stage 16.  That's how it goes sometimes.  There was a break, there was an attack from the break, and Edvard Boassen Hagen beat Sylvain Chavanel to the finish to win, a day after finishing second.  (Yeah we could say he has good form :)  Behind among the leaders Alberto Contador attacked on the Cat 1 Sestrieres, but was marked by Andy Schleck and the continually surprising Thomas Voeckler.  This whittled the group down but did nothing to the GC overall.  On the long descent back down there were some adventures (Jonathan Hivert nearly crashed several times in the break, and Thomas Voeckler nearly did too, losing 30s from his GC lead) and for a bit it looked like ace descenders Contador and Samuel Sanchez might be able to pull some time.  But in the end the Schlecks and Evans pulled even, and we reload for stage 18...

TDF11 stage 18 profile - three HC climbs including a mountaintop finish at the top of the Col de Galibier!... which is going to be amazing... who could wait for this?  Three HC climbs in a row, with a mountaintop finish on the Col du Galibier, the highest ever in the Tour.  Should be GC fireworks for sure...

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 

TDF stage 18 / high mountains - fireworks as Andy Schleck attacks, wins stage, nearly takes yellow

Saturday,  07/23/11  11:57 AM

(written retrospectively on the train to Grenoble, to watch stage 20)

Wow!  Today's stage 18 was amazing; just look at that profile, three HC climbs including a mountaintop finish at the top of the Col du Galibier.  You could expect fireworks, and you would be right.  Of course there would be a break, and of course the break would disintegrate on the climbs, with a few goats breaking clear, and the leaders staying together until the final climb, and then pow the attacks would come, right? 

Andy Schleck attacks 60km from the finish, holds on to win and take big timeWrong!  Instead there was a huge break of 24 riders, with the rest of the peloton staying together and midway through the second climb on the Col d'Izoard Andy Schleck attacked! and boom he was gone.  Nobody knew what to do with him... none of the leaders responded, figuring his attack was too far out to succeed.  The break blew up and riders kept going backward all day, and meanwhile Andy just kept going, ultimately fading a bit on the final climb but still hanging on to win.  Cadel Evans drove the chase up the final climb, limiting his losses, and dragging Voeckler along to keep him barely in yellow.  Others who hung in included Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunigo, and Franck Schleck, but Contador was dropped (!) and is now out of GC contention, as was Samuel Sanchez (!)  What an amazing stage of an amazing tour.

Cadel Evans drove the leaders back to limit their losses on the final climb, and to keep Voeckler in yellow (barely)At this point we have only l'Alpe d'Huez ahead (wow!) and then the time trial (on my way there just now :) and then the final parade, so we can conclude that the winner will be Andy (0:15), Frank (1:08), or Evans (1:12), and Voeckler has a real chance at the podium.  Only Cunigo (3:46) and Basso (3:46) are close enough to compete for third, at this point Contador (4:44), and Sanchez (5:20) can make the top five but not the podium.  Stay tuned!

[ Tour de France 2011:  all postsindex ]

 

TDF stage 19 / high mountains - Contador attacks, nearly wins, as Andy Schleck takes yellow

Saturday,  07/23/11  12:33 PM

(on the train to Grenoble to watch the ITT today! - I am *so* excited...)

stage 19 - mountaintop finish at l'Alpe d'Huez ... it's *on*And so yesterday we reached l'Alpe d'Huez, the ultimate climbing stage of the 2011 Tour even though stage 18 was arguably harder and longer and hence the "queen stage".  Partially it's because of the mystique of l'Alpe - the 21 hairpins with the stage winners celebrated at each one - and partially it's because this is the last stage before the ITT later today - and partly it's because the stage is so short; despite the Col du Galibier en route everyone reaches the bottom at the same time, everyone attacks, and may the best man win.  So it was the last time l'Alpe was in the Tour, in 2008, when Carlos Sastre won it and won the Tour.

Pierre Roland wins Alpe d'Huez, takes the white jersey and the glorySo what happened?  Well we had the usual early break, but then Alberto Contador attacked!  One day after falling out of GC contention after being unable to stay with the leaders on the final climb, he seemed to be the Alberto of old.  Only Andy Schleck could stay with him on his dynamic accelerations, with Cadel Evans and Thomas Voeckler struggling to stay on.  And then Voeckler finally cracked and fell off.  And then Evans had a mechanical, had to switch bikes, and suddenly was under pressure to stay on.  Even before we reached l'Alpe the peloton was all over the mountain.  Evans BMC team restored order and began a solid chase, so that by the foot of l'Alpe there were about 30 riders again.  On the final climb Contador attacked again (!) and seemed headed for victory, with Evans driving a hard chase, both Schlecks on his wheel, shedding Voeckler for the final time and dropping him from yellow.  Samuel Sanchez attacked, and then Voeckler's teammate Pierre Roland followed, seeking the white jersey.  Near the seemingly unreachable top Contador lost steam, and was ultimately passed by Roland, who won (and took White), and Sanchez, who ended up second (and in Polka Dots).  Evans drove the leaders to the top, putting Andy Schleck in yellow for the first time. 

Alberto Contador animated the day, attacking constantly, and ultimately fell short to third

I have to say, today I liked Alberto more than at any time before; he might not have won the stage or the Tour, but he won the respect of the fans.

So going into today's ITT we have Andy in first, Frank 2nd (0:53), and Evans 3rd (0:57).  Voeckler has dropped to 4th (2:10).  I think Evans will easily take a minute from both Andy and Frank, and will win the tour.  I don't think Cunago (3:11) or Contador (3:55) can make the podium.  We'll see - stay tuned!

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TDF stage 20 / ITT - Martin powers to victory, Evans blasts by Schlecks to take yellow (and we are there!)

Sunday,  07/24/11  09:35 AM

So yesterday was amazing; Shirley and I were in Grenoble watching stage 20 of the Tour de France.  I took a bunch of pictures - how great is it that you can just walk up to a Tour stage and watch it close up? - and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly; everything from the TGV down from Paris (600km in 2 1/2 hours!) to the beautiful city of Grenoble itself to the pageantry and of course the excitement of the ITT as the Tour was decided.

Some pictures, in chronological order to tell the story: (how cool is it to use my pictures, instead of Velonews' :)


Grenoble, gateway to the alps and scene of stage 20 of the 2011 TDF, the individual time trial


on the finishing straight, ready for action


the start house is right there; here Chris Anker Sorensen takes off


Tony Martin powered to the stage win, repeating his victory in the Dauphine Liberte on the same course
(and upsetting favorite Fabian Cancellara!)


Levi Leipheimer had a disappointing tour, as did Radio Shack; they'll be back


Robert Gesink suffered, as did Rabobank; they'll be back


Tom Danielson had a great tour (9th!), and Garmen Cervelo won the team classification


Pierre Rolland, white jersey for best young rider and winner of yesterday's stage up to l'Alpe d'Huez


Ivan Basso had a great tour, 8th overall


Samuel Sanchez, resplendent in polka dots, 7th overall


with the 3rd best time on the day, Alberto Contador passed Damiano Cunigo to finish 5th overall
somehow he gained more by finishing 5th this year than by winning last year


Cunigo had a great tour, ended up 6th overall


Thomas Voeckler was the French hero, 10 days in yellow, and finished 4th overall


Cadel Evans blasted to a close 2nd to pick up over two minutes on the Schlecks
and win yellow!


tick tick tick took Frank Schleck nearly six minutes to show up after Evans
(they started three minutes apart)
he did have a great tour and finished 3rd overall


Andy Schleck enjoyed yellow for the day but had to give it up to Evans in the end
so now he finished 2nd for the third year in a row
look for him to come back strong next year!


they say every road in Grenoble ends in a mountain; it is surrounded by beauty


celebrating our TDF swag at a cafe

Just an awesome day.  And later today we're off to the Champs d'Elysee to see stage 21 and the final finish.  Stay tuned!

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TDF stage 21 / parade - Cavendish wins! and takes green (and we are there!)

Sunday,  07/24/11  09:34 PM

What can I say?  To be on the Champs d'Elysee for the finale to the Tour de France was awesome!  It was a boring race even by last-stage-of-the-Tour standards - hardly any breakaways, easily chased down, and a bunch sprint ending in a runaway victory for Mark Cavendish - but it was great to be in the huge crowd, sense the atmosphere, and see the peloton flashing by.

A few pictures for your viewing pleasure:


the scene: Paris!


the Arc d'Triomphe punctuates one end of the Champs d'Elysee


the Champs d'Elysee, perhaps the most famous shopping street in the world
converted on the third Sunday in July into the most famous velodrome :)


looking straight down the 3 mile racetrack


one kazillion people were on hand, wow


the intermediate sprint point


giant monitors relay the action for the crowd


there they are!  Cadel Evans looking good in yellow


the peloton whooshes by


it's a break! - but reeled in quickly


Mark Cavendish wins!
his fifth stage win, wrapping up the green jersey


the final podium: Andy Schleck (2nd for the 3rd year in a row), Cadel Evans, Frank Schleck


winning team: Garmin Cervelo
Thor Hushovd (world champion's rainbow at left) won two stages and wore yellow all the first week
note cardboard cutout of Dave Zabriske who crashed out

And so ends a great Tour, which had a little of everything.  More than anything else it had drama, the end was in doubt 'till the last, many great attacks, many crashes, many heroes, many victims, and a number of interesting subplots.  (And blessedly no doping scandals!)  I will post some summary thoughts when I get back - stay tuned...

[ Tour de France 2011:  all postsindex ]

 

TDF 2011 / final thoughts

Sunday,  07/31/11  09:25 PM

Tour de France 2011, the peloton blasts into a huge crowdWell I'm a bit late with this, but for form's sake (and because I have some things to say) I thought I'd wrap up the 2011 TDF.  Overall this was the best tour in a while, I'd say since 2003, when Lance Armstrong had to really work to beat Jan Ullrich, with Alexander Vinokourov third.  As then, we had three clear favorites (Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, and Cadel Evans), with many crashes, unexpected leaders, and incredible attacks.

Some thoughts:

  • There were so many crashes the first week, and it isn't apparent why.  And so many contenders were knocked out, Bradley Wiggens, and Andreas Kloden, and Alexander Vinokourov, and Chris Horner, and Tom Boonen.
  • That whole incident with the TV car hitting Franco and knocking Johnny Hoogerland into a ditch, wow.  That will be in highlight films forever.
  • Thor Hushovd - two stage wins and a TTT win, nine days in yellowHow great was it to see Thor Hushovd in yellow for a week, and then winning two "mountain" stages?  He's got to be my favorite rider at this point.  I wish there was some way to give a "most incredible riding" award for the Tour.
  • And how great was it to see Thomas Voeckler in yellow for a week, gamely hanging on to keep it just like in 2004?  He's got to be one of my favorite riders too.  Just awesome.  And great for France, and for the Tour.
  • It was cool to see Eurocar do so well, with Voeckler and Pierre Rolland, who had a great tour and won on l'Alpe d'Huez and took the white jersey.  Again, great for France, and for the Tour.
  • Garmen was the team of the tour, not only with Hushovd, but winning the team time trial, Tyler Farrar winning a sprint, and animating all the time.  Too bad they lost Zabriske, and Vandevelde was not great, but Danielson did finish 9th and the team had the best time overall.
  • I'm not a fan of sprinting, but there were some good sprints for those who are; Cavendish won five of them, wow, and the green jersey, but Tyler Farrar won one, and so did Andre Griepel.  Overall sprints were de-emphasized in this Tour and that was one of the reasons it was so good :)
  • I will say I expected a better battle for the green jersey, I thought the intermediate sprint points would help someone like Philippe Gilbert compete, but it didn't work out that way.  Would have been great, I like all-arounders like Gilbert.
  • Looking back, stage 9 was amazing; eight categorized climbs but nothing harder than a Cat 2, a serious break, the TV car crash thing and other crashes too, and Voeckler taking yellow by two minutes.
  • Andy Schleck attacks, his best shot to win and it nearly workedThe final three stages were awesome.  The Schleck attack on stage 18, 70km from the finish, with Evans forced to chase over three HC climbs up to the Galibier, and then the Contador attack on stage 19, way out, with Evans again forced to chase and the finish at Alpe d'Huez, and then the time trial.  Being in France while this all played out made it even better (thank you Tivo + Slingbox + hotel WiFi :).
  • Cool that George Hincapie was on nine TDF winning teams, with three different riders.  Wow.
  • Sanchez was a great kind of the mountains; for once, you felt the award went to the best climber.  Not only in the Alps at the end, but in the Pyrenees too.
  • Evans won the way you should win; with a great team that kept him out of trouble, consistency, taking control when needed to chase down attacks, and then blasting to victory in the time trial.  He was the champion (and the pride of Australia).
  • Best of all, no doping!  and not even much talk of doping, despite the Contador situation.  Whew.

Cadel Evans rode consistently and well all Tour, with great team support, and when it mattered he came through, blasting to victory at the time trialIt was soo cool to be there.  Wow.  I might never go again (never say never) but it was great to see the time trial in Grenoble, and then the final stage on the Champs d'Elysee in Paris.  Can't wait to see the route announced (all we know now is that the start is in Liege, Belgium) and to figure out if I can see some of it :)

Finally, some comments on the commentators; what can we say, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin remain a delight, and they had a great tour too.  Bob Roll continues to have the best insights; he called the Schleck attack on stage 18 and the Contador attack on stage 19 perfectly.  I'd love to have Bob's insights during the racing.  Ian McHugh was horrible, worse than Craig Hummer (who got better over time), and I'm sure he won't be back.  The whole NBC involvement was weird; their online package was a joke, and their incessant house ads were horrible (thank you Tivo).  We'll see what happens next year.  And it should be great! with Evans back, and the Schlecks, and Contador, and who knows who else?

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]

 
 

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