21 June 2016
The Heat is On
First heatwave of the year
The last few days have been excessively hot here. There is a small
heatwave passing going over most of Greece right now, the peak was on
Saturday and Sunday. Right now things are slowly improving. In our
little mountain village on Naxos, it was the first time that we
experienced the temperatures not cooling down significantly over night -
the wind was stil hot. We're new here, so that might be no surprise, but
the oldtimers tell us that it's not something that happens "normally".
The weather report says we had temperatures around 37°C, while in Athens
the temperatures would have passed 40°C. I've lived through worse, but
that doesn't make it less annoying.
It didn't keep me from riding my bike though. Over the last few weeks
I've been working on my acclimatisation. I've been riding more and more
in the heat, at the same time improving my hydration. Because when it's
hot, you have to get used to it and you have to drink a lot of water. I
used to take small sips of water every now and then. Now I switched to
drink large gulps at once, as much as I can drink without getting out of
breath. The rate of emptying my water bottles has increased a lot like
that. On Saturday I drank one bottle (I think they're about 600ml) every
10km / 30min.
Sunday evening I the breeze wasn't that hot any more, yesterday evening
it returned to being a cool breeze, even if it wasn't very strong. I
hope it stays with us for the rest of the summer.
09 May 2016
Two Training Blocks
So happy to have guests for this
The last few weeks my cycling-Fu finally took a few steps forwards. I've
been going to the gym to fix my left/right leg imbalance, but I don't
think that's so much the cause of the improvement (yet). What got me
forward was doing two blocks of tough training, with riding much more
than I used to do in the last months.
You see, first we had the sprint, where we had (amongst other friends)
Borja here cycling with me for 10 days. With Borja I cycled 311km with
5500m of climbing, in 6 rides. One ride was a nice, round 100km
Apollona round, always a good endurance builder. When that was done I
relaxed a bit... and went back to the gym.
And not long after that, my friend George showed up. Now George, he's in
a different category of endurance riding. He has completed his 2nd 400km
brevet, and is now training to do the 600km brevet.
Even though he brought the family over, for some days of vacation around
Greek Easter, we managed to put in 4 rides. Those 4 rides made me
ride 254km in one week, climbing 4500m. That's about 50-60% more than I
used to do in a typcial week in the months before this.
As for the results of those two "training blocks"? Of course I have only
anecdotal evidence, but I seem to be as comfortable to ride 60km now as
I was doing 40km before. Unless I've been to the gym, in that case I'm
just a useless pair of sore, tired legs. Ah well.
30 April 2016
Flower Power Sprint
Working and having fun on Naxos again
The team I'm working with on one of my projects has this tradition of
meeting roughly 2x per year and working all together for about a week.
We call that a "sprint" (despite that some software process
terminologies call something different "a sprint", we're not bothered).
The last one was last November in Galicia, Spain. This time we were on
Naxos again (for the 3rd time now, April 6-16).
Our program consisted of 3 days of intensive work, then 1 day off, then
another 3 days of "sprinting", followed by 2 days for "social stuff". We
were quite productive on the work days, which resulted in us enjoying
the "social" days together even more. We also had lunch and dinner
together mostly, which resultet in way too much food being eaten. In
early April, not all naxian restaurants are open, but there is still a
Borja and me spent much of the "social" time out on a bike. We explored
many of the less cycled roads of Naxos together, and the number of
climbs was almost dwarfed by the number of sheep and goats we met out
on the road. We also met The Pig (which is another story for this
weblog, but since The Pig has a no-photo shield around it, maybe better
for another time). In the process, Borja managed to pass the magical
"100km in one ride" mark, of which he has written a nice ride report.
Oscar and Panos went looking for sheep and goats on a couple of
motorbikes, but they missed The Pig.
One perfect fit is that we got a new team member from Naxos, joining the
team just a few days before the sprint. This fit perfectly, as he could
meet all the team members, and also get a working start on the code
Oscar has another sprint report online, with tons of picture.
31 March 2016
Back from Paris
... and at home since a while
So, I came back from Paris. I had a very nice and successful week there.
Apart from the business stuff, I also did a tiny bit of tourism. Not too
much, since walking around currently isn't really my strong point. On
the last day I noticed that I had started to limp. Ah, never ending
story with that leg, it seems.
After the "vacation", I needed a few days of rest though. The main
reason was that I spent an overnight at the Athens airport. My plane
from Paris arrived at 23:40, my plane to Naxos left at 7:15. The airport
hotel is ridiculously expensive. So I just whiled away the hours. There
are some places where you can try to get some sleep, but since I was
alone, I didn't fall asleep at all. I re-watched an old movie ("A Sunday
in Hell"), then read up a bit on the Intarwebz, since during the days in
Paris, I was mostly enjoying offline time. The first 3-4 hours passed
quite fast, then somehow the clock seemed to slow down.
The worst was clearly over when I met some friends while waiting for
boarding on the little plane to Naxos. The flight passed really quick. I
had a nice window seat again, but this time I forgot to take the camera
out of my cabin bag, so no propeller pics.
20 March 2016
Paris-Brest (the sweet version)
Cycling and baking united
Paris-Brest-Paris is one of the toughest cycling events that a mere
mortal can attend. It involves cycling 1200km in 90 hours and is a
strictly amateur event. Before it was this "randonneuring" event, many
years ago, it used to be a professional race. At some point, someone (I
forgot who) created a sweet called "Paris-Brest" in its honor. I knew
This Saturday, while shopping with my host here, I was standing outside
the bakery... when I noticed the sweet in real. It's something different
to read about this, and then to see it in person. I probably should have
gone in and tried one, but at the time the bakery was so full that there
was a line outside the door - that's why I was waiting outside.
In any case, I should have gotten one for my friend tralala, who on the
same Saturday rode a 400km Brevet (congrats, man!). One the one hand, he could use the
calories after that monster of a ride, on the other, in a few years he
might be riding PBP itself and then it would be a good preparation.
UPDATE: The sweet things in the pics aren't actually "Paris-Brest", but chocolate Eclairs. Seems that the bakery had misplaced the label. I got a real Paris-Brest a few days later, and saw another one in a restaurant, and they didn't look like this at all. OTOH they were true calorie-bombs.
18 March 2016
Going to Paris
Just jump over
Continue reading "Going to Paris"
So there I was, climbing into the little plane (Dash 8) on the little airport
on Naxos. Heading for Athens... and then on to Paris. The airport in
Naxos is really kind of a family affair. Also you see that road in the
picture? It has the only traffic lights on the island. They turn red
when a plane is starting or landing.
28 February 2016
Attention, Dangerous Curve Ahead
You're in a maze of twisty little curves
You're in a maze of twisty little island roads, winding and curving
through the mountaineous island landscape for kilometers and kilometers.
There's a curve to the left, one to the right, to the left, and so on
forever. But then, you arrive at one curve that is special: It has a
warning sign in front of it.
All the other curves before or after don't have a fancy warning sign.
This one has. I've been wondering for a while now, what's so special
about the 1-in-a-100 (just guessing, I don't keep stats) curve that gets
a sign. I very much doubt that someone checked it and deemed it more
dangerous than others - I know some scary curves on this island, and
they don't have signs. The one in the picture is even easy to see ahead.
Also I doubt that it's the curves where accidents had once happened.
Not that I know that, but I don't think it makes sense. My current
theory is that there was a budget for warnings signs, x number of signs
for y square kilometers. So basically someone loaded a bunch of signs on
a truck and started planting them here and there.
What seems to be put to much better use are warning arrows on the side
of the road. They too aren't everywhere, but when they are there,
usually there is a good reason.
21 February 2016
Pfannkuchen - Breakfast of the champions!
Somewhere between a crêpe and a pancake
This morning I managed to treat ourselves with a real nice breakfast. I
made up some german-style "Pfannkuchen". These are something in the
middle of american pancakes and french crêpes. Not as thick as pancakes,
but also not as thin as crêpes. Their width is somewhere inbetween too.
I think similar things are made in many countries, under various names.
Probably it's one of the simplest ways to make a dough (flour, eggs,
milk), that doesn't need to raise, and then it just gets fried.
Personally I don't use an electric mixer. I just mix things up with a
fork. If you start with the flour and the eggs, and mix up these already
well, there aren't too many clumps of flour in the dough usually. I
haven't got the exact mix down well, each time I do this it's
experimentation to get the consistence right.
Years ago a friend of mine told me that he was dreaming of some
Pfannkuchen, but since he didn't know how to do them, he went to the
super market and bought some ready-made dough in a bottle. It was
horrible. Of course I told him how simple it is to make pancake dough
yourself. I don't think it took me more than 5 - 10 minutes. Today they
turned out nice. Only mistake: I made way too little dough. I could have
eaten twice as many as I did, and I also like to keep some around to eat
them cold in the evening, mjam.
20 February 2016
Katzenklappe, inklusive Lernfaktor
Zwecks Erweiterung der Katerfreiheit und Zwecks der Minimierung der
Türöffnertätigkeiten wurder hiernorts eine Katzenklappe angeschafft. Die
Dinger sind ja inzwischen ganz modern. Früher gab es entweder die
Variante "Bring deine Freunde mit" oder die Variante "Katze hat ein
Halsband mit einem dicken Magneten". Neu gibt es die RFID-Variante, die
mit dem Chip im Nacken der Katze erkennt wer rein darf und wer nicht.
Chip hat die Katze ja sowieso schon, denn auch so eine Katze kann ja mal
Der Probleme gab es jetzt aber zwei oder drei: Erstmal sind ebendiese
modernen Katzenklappen hier in Griechenland nicht erhältlich. Kenn wa
nicht, ham wa nicht. Also hat sie uns jemand aus dem Ausland geschickt.
Der zweite Punkt war der Einbau. Da gab es diverse lustige Vorschläge,
wo das Teil reinpassen würde. Nicht gefallen gefunden hatte das Fenster
im Badezimmer, wenn man da auf dem Ôrtchen sitzt, wäre es unpassend wenn
der Kater versucht an einem vorbei sein Wegerecht wahrzunehmen. Ein Loch
in einer Holztür war dann doch einfacher.
Der letzte Punkt, der hatte es dann aber in sich. Von damals in der
Schweiz hatte ich das nicht so in Erinnerung, aber so ein Katzentier
muss das erstmal lernen wie man so eine Katzentür benutzt. Das Problem
ist einerseits, dass Katzen es vermeiden, Dinge mit dem Kopf zu bewegen
oder zu drücken. Andererseits hat der Kater in der Praxis gelernt
gehabt, dass er Türen und Fenster nicht aufmachen kann und ihm auf Zuruf
geöffnet wird. Also sitzt er grundsätzlich erstmal da und wartet, dass
man ihm aufmacht. Eine unserer Katzen in der Schweiz konnte auch
Zimmertüren aufmachen, ich denke, das hat den Lernprozess beschleunigt.
Wie lernt er es also? In ganz kleinen Schritten. Erstmal Klappe
aufbinden und ihn entdecken lassen, dass er da rein und rauskommt. Dann
Klappe Stück für Stück weiter zu machen, so dass er sich dran gewöhnt,
die Klappe zu schieben. Irgendwann ist sie dann zu, aber dann hat er
schon gemerkt, dass er sie aufdrücken kann. So weit so gut, mit dem
kleinen Zusatz-Spassfaktor hier, dass wir im Dorf eine kleine Bande von
mehr oder weniger "herrenlosen" Katzen haben, die von verschiedenen
Nachbarn und uns durchgefüttert werden, und die liebend gerne reinkommen
um zu schauen, ob unsrer vielleicht nicht alles aufgegessen hat. Also
Katzenklappe aufbinden geht nur, wenn jemand da ist und aufpasst. Das
macht das ganze etwas langwieriger und aufwendiger.
Schlussendlich ging es dann doch, ungefähr eine Woche hats gedauert, zur
16 February 2016
I'll not remove my mudguards till summer is here for good
It's a matter of style
Both my road bikes currently have fenders / mudguards mounted. I've
sometimes received negative feedback about this. It doesn't seem to fit
with some modern schools of bike aesthetics. Too which I reply: "Who
cares?" I'm not going to remove my mudguards till summer is here for good.
Even a bit of wet roads here and there will make my bike (and me) look
bad. And I'm not that fond of cleaning my bike. Not gonna happen.
Even the greatest cyclists of all times put mudguards on their bikes for
training rides. Do you think il campionissimo Fausto Coppi would want
a brown stripe down his stylish clothes on his back? It was something
different in a race (where the rules disallow mudguards and every bit
counts), but on training rides? You think that sweet Bianchi sweater
looks good with road grime on the backside? Not likely.