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06 December 2014

Athens Group Ride Culture

Come and ride along
Starting to a group ride

Since restarting my cycling life early last year, I've come to appreciate some of the aspects of the group ride culture here in Athens. What I take part in has changed a lot, but I think all of these things are worth a try and can be good fun, and a way to explore Athens on a bike. Athens is not very bike friendly, so a group ride can make these things safer and more enjoyable.

I started with a commuter bike, and at first I went to the "Freeday" massive group rides on Friday evening, starting from Thisio. The first few times there were between hundred and a few hundred cyclists there, because it was winter. As soon as the weather got warmer, numbers increased, and when it got to close to a thousand, that group ride got to unwieldy and slow for me. Being in such a large group means having to stop and wait a lot. Still it's a fun experience, being in that sea of cyclists, having all the road for you (and the other thousand of you).

Next I found a little neighborhood, "casual" group ride. We're not talking about "dudes in latex on racing bikes" here. These are small groups of normal cyclists, usually on commuting bikes (city bikes, some mountain bikes, some people even on racing bikes), who make tours typically in the range of 30-40km, in an easy speed and waiting for all the members of the group. Usually there is a stop at the "endpoint", but I guess most of them don't stop at a cafe, first for economic reasons, second probably because greek coffee culture takes more time. In winter the stop probably is reduced to 10 minutes of rest.

I don't ride very often with the local group, since my schedule does not always allow it, but there are some people who are always there. On there is a calendar and a map helping you to find a group (in greek). Still I like to join in from time to time, to have an easy ride with company. There are some people who have prepared a route, and there are people who check that everybody stays together and nobody gets lost on a traffic light.

After getting a "fast bike", I started looking at more "sportive" group rides. Here there is also a range of options, but I don't know of any website listing them all (some are appearing also on the site). There are some well known "chain gangs" starting in Kalamaki at the parking space of the "Ble" club (where Alimou and Poseidonos avenues meet), and these groups usually follow the coast road in direction to Sounion. Wednesday evenings, and Saturday/Sunday mornings are typical times.

I've been about 4 times out with some of those groups. Sometimes I like it for getting an easier way to get a lot of kilometers done (drafting in a big group makes a huge difference), but other times I prefer to be out there on my own instead of having to concentrate on the wheel in front of me. I guess each thing has their advantage. One day when I was out alone on the coast road and hit a headwind on the way back, I was passed by a cycling club from Nea Ionia and was invited to sit in at the end... free shelter from the wind, getting me almost all the way home quickly!

Posted by betabug at 15:34 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
03 December 2014

Chewy Stuff Puncture

Not good for the stomach
Which patch will match this puncture?

I'm not really sure which of my patches will match this puncture. Should I try the largest that I have, or would it be better to try multiple smaller ones?

I had a puncture about a week ago, and after I came home and inspected the punctured tube, I left it carelessly lying around. Should have patched it right away and put it aside. What happens next was that Myshkin (our cat) seems to have gotten to it. I noticed only much later, when he had spent a few miserable days without appetite and had been dragged to the vet for it.

It appears he is feeling better now, hopefully no long term problems from eating yet more stuff that should not be eaten by little cats. We had some serious problems in that respect before, so I'm sure I won't leave bicycle tubes lying around any more.

Posted by betabug at 10:53 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
25 November 2014

Cycling to Sounion

A bit farther off on a sunny day
At the temple of Poseidon in Sounion

Since Myshkin is doing much better now (yay! [knocks on wood]), for a few weeks now I have been able to get back more to cycling. I had more or less two months where I hadn't done anything. Getting back was the usual drag, made worse by at first not really having much time. But I was not going to let that stop me. I started with one and two hour rides, and finally, two weeks ago, I ventured out a bit farther.

I didn't have a set plan, I just went with an easy rhythm. Not having been out for a long ride in a while, it's important not to overestimate your strength. After 1:20 hours, I called home and learned that things were fine with Myshkin and I could stay out longer and go further. To which I replied that it's also a matter of how long I'd feel able to go...

Continue reading "Cycling to Sounion"
Posted by betabug at 08:50 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
06 November 2014

Yepp it's broken

Hinge broken on Lenovo Thinkpad X220
Broken hinge on Lenovo Thinkpad X220

For a while there was a bit of play in those hinges. Then little cracks appeared, so small that I was wondering if they were just features of the plastic that always were there. Some days ago when I wanted to close the lid, the plastic cracked. Looks like that "super strong hinges on Thinkpads" thing doesn't always work out. Gotta check if this can be fixed.

Posted by betabug at 14:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
02 November 2014

König Auto in Griechenland


Der ehemalige, griechische Rennfahrer Tassos Markouizos (Τάσος Μαρκουίζος), bekannt unter dem Namen "Iaveris" ist seit 30 Jahren damit beschäftigt, für mehr Verkehrssicherheit und Sicherheitsbewusstsein einzutreten. Vor ein paar Tagen bin ich über zwei Artikel gestolpert, in denen einige der in Vorträgen genannten Fakten aufgelistet wurden (auf Griechisch ein Vortrag in Patras und einer in Ioannina).

Ein paar Aussagen und Zahlen:

  • 20% der Unfälle passieren auf dem Nationalstrassen-Netz, aber 80% in Ortschaften mit geringer Geschwindigkeit - obwohl die meisten Lenker meinen, dass sie dort sicherer sind
  • Griechenland war 2013 in der EU-Statistik der Verkehrstoten auf Rang 6
  • Es gibt keinen sicheren Weg um Patras per Auto zu erreichen, weder von Korinth aus, noch von Agrinio, noch von Pirgos aus (ein Umstand der mir sehr bewusst ist und der mich schon öfter daran gehindert hat, dort Freunde zu besuchen, vor allem seit die Zugsverbindung für Dauer-Bauarbeiten unterbrochen ist)
  • In den letzten 50 Jahren starben in Griechenland 130'000 Menschen in Verkehrsunfällen, in allen Kriegen in Griechenland im 20. Jahrhundert (Balkankriege, 1. und 2. Weltkrieg) starben "nur" 70'000 Soldaten. Für die letzten 50 Jahre nennt er auch die Zahl von 360'000 Gelähmten und Tetraplegikern. (Meine Anmerkung: Diese sieht man allerdings fast nie, denn unsere Infrastruktur ermöglicht ihnen fast keine Bewegungsfreiheit.)

Für "Iaveris" ist der grösste Teil des Problems die "Idiotie der Lenker". Er sagt wir brauchen nicht bessere Autofahrer, sondern bessere Menschen. Der Artikel aus Ioannina merkt dazu an, dass sich der Vortrag vor allem an die Studenten der dortigen Universität richtete, dass diese aber nicht interessiert waren.

Posted by betabug at 18:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 October 2014

Mal wieder in der Schweiz

... und es hat gar nicht gross geregnet
Pack den Tiger in den Koffer (oder so)

Anfang Oktober war ich wieder mal in der Schweiz, zu Kunden- und Familien-Besuch. Böse Zungen mögen jetzt behaupten, dass es da bei gewissen Kunden auch keinen grossen Unterschied mehr gibt. Unter anderem gab es einen Gesellschafts- und Pingpong-Abend und gemeinsames Arbeiten im Café.

Wettermässig hatte ich Glück, Regen gabs gar keinen und kalt wars auch nicht. Da ich nicht zum Velofahren kam, war ich zweimal joggen. Das hab ich schon ewig nicht mehr gemacht und der entsprechende Muskelkater hat mich dran erinnert.

Der Hinflug war nicht so angenehm, ich sass auf der Sonnenseite und hatte vergessen im Sicherheitsbereich des Athener Flughafens noch eine Flasche Wasser mitzunehmen. Das gab dann eine durstige Sache und meine Ohrstöppsel hatte ich auch vergessen. Der Rückflug war umso angenehmer: Den besten Platz beim Notausgang erwischt, mit 1.5m Fussraum und zwei Fenstern. So lässt es sich dann schon reisen.

Posted by betabug at 16:51 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
04 October 2014

Mini Glas-Container

Es sammelt sich
Ein Mini-Recyclingcontainer für Glas in Athen

Nachdem ich vor Jahren schon über die ersten Schritte im Recycling in Athen berichtet hatte, lief ich heute wieder mal einer interessanten, neuen Entwicklung über den Weg. Ein Container für Glas-Recycling. Mit Ôsen, mit denen der Container gleich komplett abtransportiert werden kann, aber in Mini-Ausführung. Zum Grössenvergleich der übliche "blaue" Recycling-Container daneben.

Ich denke, dass das eine gute Idee ist. Die blauen Container (Marke "der Grüne Punkt") werden nicht überall gleich qualitativ befüllt - sprich, es landet auch viel Müll drin. Die Verarbeitungskette dahinter ist meines Wissens in Griechenland unvollständig, aber ich kann mich da täuschen, ich habe schon länger nicht mehr nachgeschaut. Vor ein paar Jahren wurde das Recyclinggut getrennt und dann deponiert. Mit Glas gibt es eine klarere Recyclingstory.

Posted by betabug at 11:08 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 September 2014

Matryoshka Code

One little class in another little class in...

In programming, a very old pejorative term is spaghetti code. Traditionally this is associated with languages like BASIC, where control structure is done with a lot of nested IF-ELSE structures, combined with jumping around with GOTO and GOSUB. I've seen my share of this and I wrote my share of this too.

But we seem to have a modern variant of this, which I would like to call "Matryoshka Code". The first time this name jumped into my head was when I had to do a bit with some "Zope Interfaces" or "ZTC" style of programming, where almost everything is an "adaptor", but it can be had in your plain old object oriented programming too.

Continue reading "Matryoshka Code"
Posted by betabug at 18:28 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
18 August 2014

Splish splash I was taking a vacation

... and so was everybody else!
Bubble, bubbles everywhere

So, my vacation time came and passed again. Took a few swims, took some bike rides, read and relaxed a lot. It was a good vacation time, and I spent it in a good place to vacation. Only little nitpick: Everybody else seemed to have had the same idea for their vacation destination this year. Naxos was and still is full of people.

Apparently Naxos was voted into the 10 best islands on TripAdvisor. Number 6 worldwide, number 2 in Europe. I mean, come on, it's a nice enough island, with plenty of things to do... but number 6 in the world? Dunno really.

Combine that with northern Africa being off the tourist map right now, Turkey probably got some dampening with the politicals that were in the news all the time, and all the Germans who didn't come to Greece last year (due to the "Greece will fall out of the Europe, all tourists there will starve!" propaganda) and are amending for it this year... it's crowded.

Shouldn't matter much too me now, as I'm back at work. My time on the beach will be in the evenings again, when most people have left. I'll continue to enjoy the good weather on the bike early in the morning or late in the evening. Hopefully now the traffic on the roads will calm down a bit, but I guess it will take some time. August 15th is usually the peak point of the vacation season here, afterwards things fall off rapidly usually. This year it just might take a little bit longer to "fall off".

Posted by betabug at 11:40 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)
29 July 2014


Uff, das war Zeit!
Ab in die Ägäis!

Es ist Ferienzeit hier, Naxos ist proppenvoll mit Leuten, auf einem Niveau, dass es schon nicht mehr lustig ist. Mehr Leute als schon lange nicht mehr. Alle sind sie wieder da, nachdem sie sich letztes Jahr in die Hosen gemacht haben, dass sie vielleicht ohne Euro dastehen, jetzt ist wieder alles gut und ab geht's an den Strand.

Gut, dass ich auch Ferien habe. Ich fahr nirgends hin, denn ich bin schon da, wo dieses Jahr alle hinfahren. Freunde sind aus Athen da, komplett mit Auto. Also gibts Expeditionen an den Strand und Essen im Restaurang... und Ferien-Feeling im Café über dem Hafen...

Continue reading "Ferienzeit"
Posted by betabug at 17:09 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

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