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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)
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)
19 December 2014

A Not So Common Cold

Been lucky for some time

Last week I had caught a cold. I haven't had one in a while, in fact I didn't have a cold in the last 2 winters. Since I was lying in bed, I had a lot of time to think about why this could be.

One reason that immediately sprang to mind: I'm not working in an office any more. In your usual office environment, there is always someone who goes to work feeling slightly sick, and then takes on the role of prime virus dispenser. Also I'm much less in public transport, which is also a nice source of sharing microorganisms. Not going daily to the office, means less time in bus and metro.

Another source of reduction of public transport exposure is that I have started to cycle again. I guess you get a lot of exhaust and spray water from passing cars, but no Common Cold virus. It's also quite likely that a bit of "sport" (or at least a more active lifestyle) due to the bike results in a slightly improved immune system. The last winter I rode my bike all the time, in any kind of weather, patting my own shoulder for being so tough and hardening my immune system.

Here in Greece they say that swimming in the sea during summer is an excellent strategy for avoiding getting a cold in winter. My theory about that is that the salt water in the nose and throat makes things more resilient there... it might not be scientific proof, but it worked for me. That's also what I blame for having fallen for the cold virus this time: The last summer I was in the sea much less.

There's this other thing they have here: You shouldn't go out when you have wet hair or you're sweaty or so. Last week it was pretty much rainy all week, there was just one opening, which I used to go out for a ride. Unfortunately I dressed too warm, so I was sweaty for almost all the way back. Prime suspect.

Now one could say that it's much more likely that I simply got the virus from someone, and that my immune system was a bit weaker than usual at that point. But I would prefer to have my home made theories not spoiled by anything like science or facts! In any case, the cold passed mostly, and I'm back on my bike, working on hardening myself for the next assault of some garden variety micro critter.

Posted by betabug at 13:46 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 December 2014

Neuwahlen im Januar

Es lag schon in der Luft

Nachdem es schon länger in der Luft lag, sind nun jetzt tatsächlich Neuwahlen angekündigt für den Januar. In der europäischen Presse ist die Propaganda-Maschine schon am anrollen: Die (in der letzten Zeit leicht angestaubten) Zielscheiben der "faulen und undankbaren Griechen" werden wohl wieder aus der Schublade geholt. Jetzt wollen sie wohl die Linken (SYRIZA) wählen und die "Austerität" nicht mehr. Sowas auch.

Aus meiner Umgebung höre ich im Moment nicht mehr so richtige Begeisterung für Syriza, aber ich höre, dass viele Leute sie trotzdem wählen werden. Man könnte es als "Denkzettel" bezeichnen, aber das trifft es nicht. Ich würde es als "keine wirkliche Alternative, aber irgendwas anderes muss man jetzt wählen" bezeichnen. Es wäre echt eine Erleichterung, wenn das Verbrecherpack, das die letzten Jahre (in abwechselnder Zusammensetzung) an der Macht war, mal endlich einpacken müsste.

Posted by betabug at 17:45 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
31 December 2014

This Thing Called New Year's Resolutions

Next year for sure I will...
Village in the mountains of Naxos, on a winter day

For all my life I never remember having taken new year's resolutiions seriously. Except that one time where I set myself the task to set up this weblog and write every day (or in the worst case every second day) in it. I managed to do that and you're reading this on the resulting blog. If you look at the last few posts, it's obvious I haven't stuck to the once per day rule lately - but I kept at it for many years in that rhythm. Now I'm at it more to the tune of "never a month without at least one post".

So, what made that new year's resolution work? I guess it could have just as well been any point in time that I would have decided to "do this". The motivation was there, publishing this stuff and getting feedback (stats, comments, direct feedback) made me stick to it. If I'd slack too much, it would show... so I didn't want to let that happen and I would sit down to write something. Even if it was something small - in fact, whenever I was planning a big super, great article was when things would get stuck.

A while ago, when I was laying in bed with that cold, I had a lot of time to think about doing another new year's resolution. Candidates where to revive the weblog, or maybe to set a target (10 - 12 hours per week) for the training on the bike. In the end I'm not going to do that. If I feel the motivation to write more on the blog, that will happen. Likewise with the bike: When things work out, I'll get the hours in, I'll enjoy myself and the training happens. When I'm travelling, when things go upside down in life, training stops. I'm not training for something, so in fact, "training" is just being out riding, having fun.

When I can, I'm trying to get in 3 to 4 rides per week. At that point, after a while, I start to be in a shape where riding gets easy, and when it gets easy, it becomes a lot of fun. No need to make me a rule about it. Who needs a plan to ride in a place like the one in the picture?

Posted by betabug at 19:38 | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)