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Le Tour 2014, rest day 2: movie + thoughts

Monday,  07/21/14  10:56 PM

The Tour de France 2014 rests again today.  Left are three mountain stages in the Pyrenees, a transition stage, and a time trial left before Sunday's parade / sprint to Paris.

It seems like Vincenzo Nibali is a lock to win.  But the rest of the podium and top ten is up for grabs, should make for some exciting racing.  Peter Sagan has the green jersey sewn up.  But the polka dot jersey competition is tight (tied!) between Joaquim Rodriquez and Rafal Majka, and the white jersey is up for grabs between Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, who are also battling for top French rider and ... perhaps most importantly ... fighting to be the first Frenchman on the podium since Ricard Virenque in 1997.  Add to that Tejay Van Garderen sitting in fifth, and riding stronger every day, and Bauke Mollema lurking in seventh, and Rui Costa ... well there's a lot of racing left.  (Update: Rui has dropped out due to pnemonia!  Rats)

It already seems a long time ago but remember stage 5, which retraced the Paris-Roubaoix route over the cobbles in the rain?  Want to see it again, from the handlebars of a riderCheck this out:

Wow.  And Onward!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


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Archive: July 21, 2009

TDF stage 16 / climb - Astarloza attacks to win / jerseys unchanged after battle

Tuesday,  07/21/09  10:51 PM

(refraining from descriptive titles until a couple of days later, for you Tivoers out there...)

And so after a rest day we had a day of fireworks in the Tour, with two massive climbs between Martigny and Bourg-Saint-Maurice that resulted in a further selection.  Mikel Astarloza won with a daring last minute break, but the real battle took place among the GC men behind him.  The Schleck brothers attacked, Contador and Kloden followed, and for a while there was a split between the contenders, with Lance Armstrong powering across the gap.  Ultimately the leaders came back together but some of the pretenders gave up more time, like poor Cadel Evans.  You could really see who was "on the rivet" and who wasn't; Bradley Wiggins looked really strong (pic at left), as did Contador, Andy Schleck, and Kloden, Lance showed a flash of his old power crossing the gap, and Frank Schleck, Vincenzo Nibali, and Christian Vande Velde were able to match the pace.  Also up there today was Kim Kirchen, who looks to be getting stronger.

Tomorrow is a maniacal stage with five massive climbs (the "queen" stage), but I don't look for any further selections until the TT on Thursday.  That's really the only and best chance for Lance or Bradley Wiggins to take time from Contador.  And/or for Kloden to move up into a podium spot.  There will be more attacking tomorrow because the Schlecks really can only gain on a climb, and perhaps one or more of the leaders will fall by the wayside; we'll see.

On a sad note poor Jens Voigt pulled out in the early break, fell back to power Saxo up the first climb, and then crashed heavily on the descent.  I sure hope he's okay, and it is sad to see him out of the tour.

One more note: check out this video of Fabian Cancellara descending on stage 7; this was while he was still in yellow, after he'd flatted, and with the peloton charging down the hill.  Wild bike handling skills on display as he weaves through the motorcycles and team cars at 60+kph :)

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


Tuesday,  07/21/09  10:55 PM

Still tired.  I seem unable to sleep enough, and then spend the whole day tiring myself out further :)  Busy day of meetings as our company absorbs our growth plans, and then a hard 30-miler with my friend and colleague Craig.  And then dinner and too much wine (Mahi Mahi and Sauvignon Blanc if you must know).

Pre-report: Battery life A-OK.  Lovin' it.  I always say "precelebration is the root of all failure", so I don't mean to Pre-celebrate :) but so far so good. 

Sounds-like-an-Onion-headline of the day: Entire moon added to Google Earth.  Pretty amazing technology, that we even have these data. 

Ben Rometsch: Google Wave, first impressions.  I don't "get" Google Wave [yet]; it seems to be a super-email, sort of a wiki-ish attempt to share information.  I distrust things like this which aren't simple enough to explain, but I'll keep trying because there seems to be a there here.  Stay tuned... 

Something I continue to believe doesn't have a there here is Twitter, and I see where Trent Reznor agrees...  Raise your hands, how many of you find Twitter useful?  See, there's no there... 

Hilarious: the Bio-Comedian.  ( Powerpoint comedy :) 

News you can use: is it safer to drive drunk or on the phone?  I so fear that using a phone while driving is going to be made illegal; granted, it may be [somewhat] dangerous, but so are a lot of things and it really isn't the government's job to protect us from ourselves. 

Jeff Atwood makes a great point: nobody hates software more than software developers.  I, too, dread it when something I buy comes with a software CD.  Invariably the software sucks and it breaks your machine.  Not sure whether to blame Windows for this or software developers in general, but it is so... 

Wow, this is cool: Cellscope, the cellphone microscope.  Now with a UV-upgrade.  People sometimes ask me about this technology, wondering if it will be an "attack from below" on high-end diagnostic equipment like that made by Aperio.  Not sure.  The performance gap is still large. 

Alex Payne: Fever and the future of feed readers.  "Today, at least in the web-tech echo chamber, feed reading is quickly falling out of fashion. Too many sites producing too many feeds of dubious quality means information overload, and a creeping sense of obligation to keep up with a torrent of questionably relevant content."  I'm not sure I agree with that; sure, there are a lot of bad feeds, but a lot of good ones too.  Just stick with me :)  Anyway the main point is Fever, a new feed reader, which filters feeds based on keywords etc., and in theory at least can extract information from data...



Archive: July 21, 2008

how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?

Monday,  07/21/08  08:40 PM

Well, I did it.  I climbed Mt. Whitney yesterday, and I have the pictures (and the overall soreness!) to prove it.  I actually had no idea how hard it was going to be, or how dangerous; in fact, before this I had little comprehension of the difference between hiking Mt. Whitney (basically, walking up the trail) and climbing Mt. Whitney (actually, er, climbing, as in hanging from rocks with 100' of nothing below you).

hang in there, dude!

My friend Mark Elliot and I climbed up the "moutaineer's route" to the summit, and then descended the trail back to the Whitney Portal; overall it took us about sixteen hours.  I would not recommend trying to do this in one day, but we did it :)

Our day started at oh-dark-hundred in Lone Pine (actually, about 5:00AM); the peak of Mt. Whitney was barely visible in the darkness, framed by the moon.

moon over Whitney; that slight purple dot is over "the notch"
Whitney Portal (base) = 8,325'

After a big breakfast (!) and driving up to the portal, we began the hike around 0700; as we climbed up, the views back down the valley to the East were amazing.

not in Kansas anymore

After about two hours (and some rather, um, interesting climbing up "the ledges") we reached Lower Boy Scout Lake.

Lower Boy Scout Lake, Keeler Needles (and Mt. Whitney) in the distance

The beauty of these high meadows is incredible.

wildflowers abound...

... as do waterfalls

After some serious climbing - and about 3 1/2 hours after starting out - we reached Upper Boy Scout Lake.  Here the foliage turns to rock, and the mountains really begin.

at Upper Boy Scout Lake, so far, so good

Lone Pine is now way off in the distance

At this point the weather began looking iffy, and we weren't sure if we could make it to the top.  Fingers crossed, and much scrambling over the talus ensued.

mist shrouds the Sierra crown; Keeler Needles at left, Mt. Whitney at right

Finally, five hours after starting, we reach Iceberg Lake.  Now the serious fun began, and man I must tell you, looking up at those peaks is intimidating!

Mt. Whitney beckons...
some objects are further than they appear

Iceberg Lake panorama
(click to enlarge)

We stopped here for lunch, taking in the scenery while refueling.  Fortunately we were not affected by the altitude; although people frequently camp here you are warned about altitude sickness.  We also met some of the locals...

A marmot checks us out; I can has cheeseburger?

Then onward; about 2,000' left, much of it seemingly straight up (!).  Now the difference between hiking and climbing really became apparent.  Making things even more fun, the East chute was filled with some icy snow.  Whoa.

looking up the East chute to "the notch"; note ice

Still we proceeded slowly and methodically, and made it to the notch.  After 6 1/2 hours, we are nearly there.  The views in every direction are unbelievable, and you must try not to think about the exposure.

yay, made it to the notch!  so far, so good...

the view to the West - you can see for miles and miles and miles and...

Now there was a little matter of climbing the North face to the summit.  This is considered a "class 3" climb, but whatever you call it, this is serious.  It just doesn't do to think about falling.

the North face, just 300' to go - straight up

Fortunately Mark is an experienced climber, and a solid guide.  We took our time and he roped us through a particularly tricky section, entering the face.  I must say in retrospect this was the best part of the climb; methodically working our way from hold to hold.  There were some really cool sections, including a 'chimney' to wedge through near the top, and it was really fun.  I really like rock climbing, who knew?

Mark, in the route

That picture of me at the top of this post was taken by Mark, about halfway up the North face.  Woo hoo.  So after a very concentrated hour, we made it!  Eight hours after starting out, and 6,000' higher.

and you may ask yourself, "how did I get here"?
once in a lifetime
(same as it ever was)

2,000' straight down to Iceberg Lake

The feeling of vertical dimensionality you get, standing at the highest point in the U.S, looking down in every direction is hard to explain.  Of course I've looked out an airplane window, but this is pretty different.  The volumes of air are apparent, and the Earth looks curved.

maximum verticality

altimeter check
Mt. Whitney = 14,496'

After gazing for a while and eating and drinking, we took off back down the Whitney Trail; 11 miles of switchbacks.  The trail begins by heading South behind the Keeler Needles and Mt. Muir, before joining the Muir Trail at the "Trail Crest".

peeking down between the Keeler Needles

at the Muir Trail Crest; looking East...

...and looking West... Wow!

At that point the trail heads down and East, along a different valley to the one we climbed up.  The views back along the ridge toward the peaks were incredible; it was hard to believe we had been standing "up there" just two hours ago.

the Sierra crown: Mt. Muir, the Keeler Needles, and Mt. Whitney

The path down the remainder of the valley was long but amazingly beautiful in the fading light...

High Sierra beauty  

...still ticking, but winding down...

Six hours later, we were back at the car; no problem :)  So, eight hours of hiking climbing up 6,000' vertical feet to the highest point in the U.S., followed by eight hours of descending back down through some of the most beautiful High Sierra scenery imaginable.  Quite a day. 

And I may ask myself, how did I get here?



Monday,  07/21/08  09:30 PM

Okay, Whitney survived, mind cleared, and it is back to work, although without my voice, which somehow left me during the course of yesterday and has been replaced by a chorus of frogs.  Fortunately I was able to get stuff done anyway.  Meanwhile the world hasn't stopped spinning, let's take a look...

Charles Krauthammer: The Audacity of Vanity.  He nails it; the main reason I am recoiling from Obama. 

A similar theme at the National Review: The Tautology of Hope.  ("Beliefs we can believe in..." :) 

And the Onion outdo themselves: 'Time' Publishes Definitive Obama Puff Piece.  "Hailed by media critics as the fluffiest, most toothless, and softest-hitting coverage of the presidential candidate to date, a story in this week's Time magazine is being called the definitive Barack Obama puff piece."  Amid heavy competition, we might add... 

Michael Barone thinks McCain should revisit 1976

Think things are bad in our economy?  Well you might be right, but consider poor Zimbabwe, where $1B won't buy a loaf of bread.  I believe Monopoly money is more valuable.  That's what happens when the government raises incompetence to new heights ( or I should say, lowers it to new depths).  Wow. 

I watched yesterday's Tour de France stage tonight (being otherwise occupied yesterday :), it was great!  A real shootout on the final climb, with an early breakaway staying clear, an unknown nearly winning (Danny Pate of the U.S.), plenty of spills in the rain (Oscar Periero fell over a guardrail 12' onto the pavement below, breaking his arm; later about 20 riders in two separate clumps hit the pavement at a turnabout, and on the final climb Denis Menchov fell while attacking, recovered, and ended up attacking again), and a dogfight among the leaders which closed up the standings so that six men are now within 40 seconds of the lead!  Speaking of Menchov, he looked strong...  stronger than Evans and Sastre.  Today was a rest day, but tomorrow there are more alpine fireworks, it should be excellent! 

Was it really thirty-nine years ago the first men landed on the moon?  Yes it was.  Wow.  That was definitely one giant step for mankind

Pete Worden, director of NASA, says "we're going back, and this time we're going to stay".  Cool!

William Tucker in WSJ: Let's have some love for nuclear power.  "All over the world, nuclear power is making a comeback.  British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just commissioned eight new reactors, and says there's 'no upper limit' to the number Britain will build in the future.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged her country's program to phase out 17 nuclear reactors by 2020, saying it will be impossible to deal with climate change without them. China and India are building nuclear power plants; France and Russia, both of whom have embraced the technology, are fiercely competing to sell them the hardware.  And just last month John McCain called for the construction of 45 new reactors by 2030.  Barack Obama is less enthusiastic about nuclear energy, but he seems to be moving toward tacit approval."  Excellent!  This is really our only chance. 

Awesome! - here we have a lego Stephen Hawking... 

This is pretty funny: HP shatters excessive packaging world record.  Seventeen nested boxes to ship 32 pages of paper.  That's pretty good, it might put the record out of reach.  Reminds me of the time IBM mailed me a big shipping crate containing only a smaller shipping crate.  But HP has topped that... 

Well, looks like it is now possible to unlock / jailbreak your 2.0 iPhone or iPod Touch.  With the 2.0 software and the Apple App Store there is less reason to do so, but less is not none; some of the apps you can run jailbroken do things you can't do otherwise, such as continue to play music after switching to another app.  I might have to check this out :) 

Here we have the North Sails VW Toureg.  I am not making this up.
[ via Sailing Anarchy

AppleWatch wonders what is Apple's mystery product?  "During Apple's fiscal third-quarter conference call this afternoon, CFO Peter Oppenheimer warned of falling margins for the next quarter and fiscal 2009. He gave three reasons, but one really stood out: a future product transition that 'I can't discuss today.'"  Huh... 

Why does race matter for women?  GNXP reports "women care much more about the race of a potential mate than men do".  Huh...



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Archive: July 21, 2003

Monday,  07/21/03  11:12 PM

Here we go again: "The order has gone out for a team of U.S. quick reaction force soldiers to be sent to Liberia where rebel fighters are attempting to create a "strangle-hold" on the capital."  Fasten your seat belts, and please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle.

Remember how bizarre it was when Libya was chosen to chair the U.N.'s Human Rights committee?  Well, here's the result: UN farce as Libya judges Israeli rights.  You can't make this stuff up.  The U.N. has careened so far off course it is worthless and indeed counterproductive.

Steven Den Beste has the "microscopic view" of the war...  a lot of detail.  Worth bookmarking for future reference.

pods unite iPodOkay, the Pod's Unite thing is cool.  (A joint marketing venture between Volkswagen and Apple.)  But get this - the link between the iPod and the Bug is a humble cassette adapter.  You think they could have done better, huh?

So, the RSS saga takes another turn, as Dave Winer transfers the RSS 2.0 spec to the care of Harvard University's Berkman Center, where he is presently a fellow.  This solves the problem caused by the spec being in the hands of a commercial venture (Userland Software).  A good move, IMHO.  And in Dan Gillmor's HO as well...

Want to create an AOL journal?  Go hereI did.  Cool!

Tour de Lance update: Armstrong falls hard - and wins!  His lead is still only 67 seconds, much smaller than it has been at the 15th stage of his previous four victories.  There's a lot of racing left!  (I've been linking to Yahoo for Tour news, but check out Lance's own site as well...)

Walt Mossberg reviews the Fossil watch.  This is a watch which includes a fully functional Palm pilot.  As a PDA, he doesn't like it: "The Wrist PDA is much harder to use than other Palms or Palm-compatible devices...  The screen and stylus are simply too small."  But it has a feature he likes a lot: "the most interesting feature of the Wrist PDA has nothing to do with the Palm functionality.  In watch mode you can scroll through and select from a wide variety of different watch-face designs.  This is the first watch I know of that lets you pick the way its face looks and change that look as often as you like."  I wonder how long before someone writes a program to display an aquarium on the watch face :)

You know how hard it is to get radioactive ore, and other nuclear materials?  Well, consider United Nuclear!  They seem to stock everything :)  I am not making this up.