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riding Mount Baldy (and visiting the Amgen Tour)

Sunday,  05/17/15  09:27 AM

Yesterday I rode the l'Etape California, a sort of pre-Amgen Tour event where normal people* could ride the same course up Mount Baldy as the professionals racing in the Amgen Tour of California stage 7.  The course started in the flats of La Verne, climbed 4,000 feet to Baldy Village, descended down Glendora Mountain Road, and then climbed Baldy again, 6,000 feet all the way up to the ski lifts, where you "finished" through the same course as the pros.  After which you could hang up at the top of the mountain and watch the pro race.  Awesome, right?

* "normal" aka crazy cyclists who like riding up steep mountains

Yeah, except for the 10,000 of climbing, including 10%+ in the last five miles, and the freezing cold.  Brrr.  Anyway I made it, so it is fun to talk about after, and I watched a great pro race; Julian Alaphillipe won, out-climbing Sergio Henao to the finish, but even more excitingly Peter Sagan hung on gamely for third, finishing just 47s behind, leaving him just 3s behind Alaphillipe going into today's final [sprint] stage from LA Live to the Rose Bowl.  Sagan will probably be able to pick up some bonus time in the sprints to win - stay tuned.  After yesterday's amazing ride we have to root for him, although Alaphillipe is a great young rider and if he wins he'll deserve it.

My own favorite Robert Gesink, who memorably won the 2012 Amgen Tour by out-climbing the field on the same mountain, finished fifth on the day and will probably finish fifth overall, too.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from my day:


the route: 84 miles, 10,100 feet (!); not pictured, freezing cold


early morning start, led by Jens Voght (!) - 500 eager riders


through the flats of La Verne (and yes, we *all* got lost for 5 miles)


climbing up to Baldy Village, not too bad (8% ish)


Baldy Village!


the critical turn up to the ski area; this is where it gets *steep*


5,000 feet, gasp


smiling with 3K to go, 11%+ here


just 1K to go but it is 14%


500meters... legs burning


the finish, yay!


lots of snow on the ground, and ice in the air, too


watching the peloton climb up the valley


the pros ... attack! Alaphillipe and Henao on the move


Alaphillipe leads strongly, with a motorcycle entourage


Sagan hangs in there, a great ride to limit his time loss

Cheers, and go Peter!

 

 

Visiting the Amgen Tour of California for ten years!

Sunday,  05/17/15  10:07 AM

The professional Amgen Tour of California race is in my back yard, so to speak, and I've watched it every year; can't believe it but this is the 10th anniversary:

In 2006 I watched stage 6, from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks; my friend Peter and I stationed ourselves on the Norwegian Grade and watched the peloton blow up it,



In 2007 I visited Solvang for the stage 5 time trial, and almost got run over by Thor Hushovd (unblogged), and



watched the peleton come up Balcom Canyon for the first time in stage 6 (a route almost identical to the one I watched Wednesday, unblogged)



In 2008 I again visted Solvang for the stage 5 time trial, and



again watched the peleton climb Balcom (again, a route idential to this year's)



In 2009 I visited Solvang for the stage 6 time trail, once again, and



climbed Mount Palomar for stage 7, in the snow (!)



In 2010 I climbed Rockstore and then watched the peloton do it four times, in the final stage 8; the ATOC moved to May to find better weather, so of course stage 6 up to Big Bear was snowed out; note that this happened again this year and Friday's time trial was in Santa Clarita instead of Big Bear as a result



In 2011 I watched the stage 6 ITT in Solvang, with S., very nice, and



then climbed Mt. Baldy with my friend Tim, to watch the stage 7 final at the top (wow), and am planning to do so again on this Saturday :) 



In 2012 I again climbed Mt. Baldy with friends to watch stage 7, again the queen stage, as every year since; a great battle to the finish (unblogged)



In 2013 the tour took a different route, starting in the South and working North, I watched, rode, and broiled stage 2 from Murrieta to Palm Springs (again, unblogged)



In 2014 the route was back North to South; I rode and watched stage 6, from Santa Clarita to Mountain High (gasp), before boarding a plane for Kazakstahn (and hence missed watching stage 8, on Rockstore, in person)



And in 2015, watched and rode stage 5, once again Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita, via Balcom Canyon, and



rode and watched stage 7, once again up to the summit at Mt. Baldy (yay)



Onward, to ten more years!

 

hot and cold

Sunday,  05/17/15  09:51 PM

hot and coldI had a nice weekend; a freezing cold / hard ride yesterday, and a beautiful sailing regatta today.  Hope yours was equally fun and interesting.  And so the Ole filter makes a pass... (it's all happening!)

Peter Sagan barely finishes third to win the Amgen TourSo yes, Peter Sagan did win the Amgen Tour, by a whisker.  (He's in the multi-colored kit on the left of winner Mark Cavendish and second place finisher Wouter Whippet.)  He entered the day 3s behind Julian Alaphillipe; he picked up 1s at the first sprint point, and then a 4s time bonus for finishing third on the day to edge Julian by 2s.  Wow.  And that after 700miles of racing.  He deserved it; there's literally nobody else who could win a sprint, a time trial, and the overall in the same stage race.

Barack Obama, pathetic at three levels.  "He's dishonest, he's un-Presidential, and he's un-serious."  He's been a huge disappointment to me.

Victor David Hanson: the first-and-a-half amendment.  "Among those who attack free expression the most loudly are progressives who do not like politically incorrect speech that does not further their own agendas."  The extent to which dissenting views are censored these days is a little scary.

For Meg and Alex*: how to inoculate your daughter against campus feminism.  From the Network of Enlightened Women.

* my daughters, both of whom are far too outspoken to be cowed by political correctness.

Thing Explainer: the Mars RoverIt's the Thing Explainer, from xkcd's Randall Munroe.  "Annotated blueprints that explain everything from ballpoint pens to the solar system using line drawings and only the thousand most common English words."  Yay.

Facebook's new Instant ArticlesYou may have seen, Facebook have launched Instant Articles feature in their iPhone App.  The idea being, they can serve up the content people link to more efficiently than the content providers.  Hmmm...  I am the last to argue about the value of speed, but I think this has more to do with control.  Publishers are tooth gnashing about whether to join...

This is reminiscent of Google's Web Accelerator project, now defunct, and Amazon's Silk Web Browser, which hasn't, er, set the world on Fire.  I think these sorts of things never find a business model.

Marc Cantor founds Interface.  Marc has been a big inspiration to me, ever since his Media Band days back in ... 1995.  He was one of the first to publish multimedia content on the web, and has remainder a leader.  Will be most interesting to follow Interface to see what they do.  (Not exactly a Google-able name, right?)

Robert X. Cringley: the Kickstarter Paradox.  Not so much a description of a Paradox as an interesting muse on the value of Kickstarting; there is raising money, but also raising awareness, and testing ideas with real customers.  The Paradox is that Kickstarters are go-or-nogo, they don't support projects that will go forward no matter what.

Wolfram's ImageIdentifyWow, cool: Wolfram have created a website that identifies image contentImageIdentify is getting a lot of [good] press.  I have played with it extensively, and it’s impressive. Pulling out high-level information like “this is a handbag” is in many ways harder than “this is Prada model 4-567”. The former is qualitative, while the latter is quantitative. At eyesFinder we've focused on image matching which enables quantitative visual search, primarily for shopping applications. This is a bit different to object identification which it appears Wolfram are doing.

Ultimately both kinds of visual search will have uses, and there will be applications which are better for each approach. For the applications where visual search can be done best by locating matching images in a search library, such as shopping, our VQ-based image matching is better (more accurate). Perhaps the best thing about Wolfram’s service is that it is calling attention to all the applications for Visual Search :)

tech Unicorns (valuation >$1B)Mark Suster with good advice about Unicorns (startup companies with $1B+ valuations).  "Here’s advice I give people all the time when they're raising money. Narratives matter. Narratives are memorable. I'm not talking about raising money at a billion dollars. I'm talking about making your company memorable by describing it with a narrative that people will later remember."  Totally agree!

 

 
 

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