Veloviewer Explorer Challenge

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There are now only 18 squares left in the highlighted area, which is the more central parts of Berlin. After I have filled them, I can expand. Especially the blank square in Grunewald (left) haunts me, it should be easily filled by a tour through the forest, like the one I did just above that square.

I’m not doing much biking at the moment though. And now it’s Monday so I have to start working. Today: Paying bills and doing book-keeping for May, sigh.

Berlin Velothon 2015

I biked the 60 km race this year too. I got place 190 out of 4,288 men. (Up from 298 last time, in 2013.) In addition, there was one woman who was faster than me. My average speed was 39.28, up from 39.11 last time.

velothon_2015_results

I biked in the same group the whole time, so it wasn’t hard at all to be honest. But very fun, as always!

Start
Start at the Siegessäule.

But I realise I had quite bad luck in the placement, because the first 100 persons that cross the finish line get the placements 1 to 100, even if someone who crosses the finish line later was faster. Well, I was the 103rd person to cross the finish line, not even a full second after the 100th person (he came in at 09:22:38.2, me: 09:22:38.9) – we have the same average speed of 39.28 km/h. If I had only overtook three more people, or biked one second faster, I would have got place 100 instead of 190.

Though to be fair, 190 is the fair placement.

At least you can say I have a clear goal for next year, to be among the first 100.

I took several personal records on Strava. Most proud of the last sprint before the finish line, where I got placed 20 – oops, now I’m already down to 22 – of 1744, with an average speed of 47.7 km/h on the 600 meters just before the finish line:

Victory straight!
Victory straight!

Simon biked too for the first time and we met up for a free Erdinger Alkoholfrei in the goal area afterwards, he came in six minutes or so after me and got place 748. All my other biking friends are biking the 120 km race.

Goal. I biked in Hakogaku team wear.
Goal. I biked in Hakogaku team wear.

Veloviewer Explorer

I just found a new feature in Veloviewer: The Explorer score, which shows how many zoom level 14 map tiles you have passed through, and the average distance per tile. For me at the moment: 1,005 tiles, with 13.5 kilometers per tile. The ratio isn’t so interesting for me though, since I have spent whole summers biking the same routes over and over again; Havelchaussee in 2013, Tempelhofer Feld in 2014. In 2015 I have deliberately searched out new roads, and that can be seen when my Explorer data are split for each year (that’s when the ratio gets interesting):

  • 2013: 100 tiles, 24.4 km/tile (2,443 km total distance)
  • 2014: 289 tiles, 22.37 km/tile (6,463 km total distance)
  • 2015: 816 tiles, 3.7 km/tile (2,985 km total distance so far)

Actually, the ratio isn’t calculated on my Veloviewer page, so it’s raw data rather than a “score”. If the number of tiles are divided by the number of kilometers, we get scores of 4.10 in 2013, 12.9 in 2014 and a blasting 221 in 2015, with an average of 74.4 since the start.

I’m skeptical to this kind of ratio score though, because even though it was fun to see, especially my exploring efforts in 2015, it also means that your score will get lower the more kilometers you gather, as long as you don’t search out new roads for each ride. This might discourage you from going out and “eat” kilometers. Maybe that’s why Ben at Veloviewer has chosen to present the raw data rather than the ratio score that I calculated myself.

Update: Ben replies on Twitter: “initially I used the dist per tile as the main ‘score’ but as you say, often gets worse with more riding so use count instead.”

But now over to the really cool thing, because those tiles that you have passed are marked green on the heatmap. And I just think I got even more addicted to Veloviewer, because how can anyone born in the era of video games resist the urge to paint the whole map green by going after those unlucky gaps in it! Look how beautiful:

Colonise it! My Explorer tiles on Veloviewer 27 April 2015.
Colonise it! My Explorer tiles on Veloviewer 27 April 2015.

That’s it. Gotta work now instead of getting caught up in addicting Veloviewer!

New bike lock

It was a principle of mine to not even own a lock for my Caad 10. The idea being that it’s not supposed to be left out of sight for the slightest moment ever – thus no need for a lock.

But I’ve had it for almost four years now. Maybe it’s ready to be alone on the streets at times.

At least it would be practical. Yesterday I waited 32 minutes for a bus (and it was 200, the flagship line!) before I gave up (cause I wouldn’t make it in time for where I was going anyway). Walking and using local transportation is so extremely inefficient. You want to run a simple errand and it takes the whole day. Hate it!

So on my way home, I decided to buy a lock and start using my Caad 10 as an everyday bike. Having had three bikes stolen during 2014, I don’t see the point of buying another one.

So here it is, my new Abus Granit Plus 640:

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Very small, fits in your back pocket (though I was constantly worried that it would fall out when I pedaled) and still security level 12 out of 15. Cost me 70 euro, but what can you do. Weighs only 788 gram:

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And here my Caad 10 is locked for the very first time, it’s a perfect fit actually:

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Trying to explain the concept of bike paths to an alien

Sometimes it’s enlightening to pretend you’re explaining a phenomenon to an alien.

Let’s say you have an alien by your side who doesn’t know what a car or a bike is. You would say:

These are two means of transportation for humans. One of them is powered by fuel, the other one is powered by human energy. Get it? (You have to be pedagogical with these aliens.) In the first case, no human energy at all is needed. It doesn’t matter if the road goes up or down, you basically just push a button and lean back. Whereas in the second case, only your own energy is what moves you forward. So everything that slows you down – upslopes, curves, road bumps – will demand more energy of you.

The alien now has a clear image of the two means of human transportation. Then you ask it:

Let’s say you want to separate these two means of transportation. You want to build two different types of roads for them. Now, let’s say you build one road that is straight and smooth, and another road that is curvy and full of road bumps from tree roots. Which one would you give to the fuel powered type of transportation, and which would you give to the human powered one?

That’s too easy! the alien would reply. Even I get that it would be better to give the straight and smooth road to the human powered method, because it would demand less energy from you, and the only energy you got is your own. Whereas the fuel powered method can make do with a less smooth road, since you just push a button to move forward anyway.

Then you explain to the alien that it is the opposite way around: The road for human powered things goes in crooks and circles around the straight road for fuel powered things, often crossing it every few hundred meters, causing extreme loss of human energy. In addition, these winding “roads” are so cheaply built that they quickly deteriorate, with tree roots penetrating the surface in a way that doesn’t happen in the more expensive road made for fuel powered things.

The alien is of course shocked! Then it realises:

Oh, I must be missing something. Maybe the fuel powered method is very sensitive to bumps? Maybe every tree root in the road makes the fuel powered thing really uncomfortable to drive? And the people on the human powered things don’t mind these roots?

And you reply that no, it’s actually the opposite way around in this case too; the fuel powered things – and by now you can reveal to the alien that they are called cars – actually weigh a thousand kilos and have thick tires and heavy suspension, whereas the human powered things – ok, they are called bikes – are extremely sensitive to tree roots and other hindrances in the street.

But then I don’t understand at all, the alien says. On my planet we’re fostered with a very logical way of thinking, but this isn’t logical at all to me. If what you’re saying is true, then why are the roads for what you call “bikes” often made of uneven stones, while the road for “cars” next to it is smoothly paved? And why is the “bike road” constantly interrupted by cobblestones, when the “car road” is not? The alien shows you a photo:

11 February 2015: Street vs bike path on Adlergestell east of Grünau, just before Schmöckwitz.

Why? The logical alien doesn’t get it. And frankly, neither do I.

Bicycle manga

Amazing, Akira Yomoyama has released his previous doujinshi booklets + a new story in this beautiful volume, so thick, with perfect print quality and a tasty obi!

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So fresh it's not even officially released until next week! (15th April 2015)
So fresh it’s not even officially released until next week! (15th April 2015)

As for the shipment:

  • Monday 6 April at 23.24: I place the order on Amazon.co.jp.
  • Tuesday 7 April at 5.27: Amazon ships it from Japan.
  • Friday 10 April at 14.40: DHL delivers it to my door in Berlin.

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This is perfect post-ride entertainment now that Yowamushi Pedal has ended! And perfect timing wheatherwise, people are strolling around in t-shirt today in Berlin, and some are wearing shorts.

You can buy Akira’s bicycle manga here. It costs 907 yen (about 7.12 euro) and you don’t pay the eight percent sales tax that people within Japan have to pay. Shipping to Europe is 1,400 yen ≈ 10.99 euro.

Biking in March 2015

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In March 2015 I continued to bike on new roads, though three rides were Tempelhof only.

I participated in two bigger group rides:

  • 22 March 2015: To Neuhardenberg in a group of seven cyclists (report here)
  • 28 March 2015: To Blankensee in a group of eleven (!) cyclists

I also biked twice with Simon in the north. The rest of the rides were solo, I especially liked the “extended laktatrunde” as I call it, which continues east from Königs Wusterhausen instead of just cutting up north.

I forget the most beautiful stretches of each route easily, but there were plenty of them in the first group ride, and I and Simon happened to find one west of Hennigsdorf as well.

Here are some photos from the biggest group ride:

After heading lead the group for a while, I retracted to the back, drank some water and snapped this photo of nine of the guys (I'm the tenth and there's also one behind me).
After having lead the group for a while, I retracted to the back, drank some water and snapped this photo of nine of the guys (I’m the tenth and there’s also one behind me).
Group ride of 11 cyclists to Blankensee.
And this is what it looks like when I’m in the picture too (the only one in shorts on this picture).
At this bakery we ran (rode) into another group of cyclists. So we were about 20 cyclists eating cake and drinking coffee there, and enjoying a few rays of sunshine.
At this bakery we ran (rode) into another group of cyclists. So we were about 20 cyclists eating cake and drinking coffee there, and enjoying a few rays of sunshine.
After the coffee break I found out I had a flat tire. Someone offered his magic glue spray and fixed it in a couple of minutes. Six of the riders decided to go on a longer ride, so they left while we "repaired" my puncture. This is the rest of the group (four people + me) who went straight back to Berlin, making it a 120 km instead of 160 km ride.
After the coffee break I found out I had a flat tire. Someone offered his magic glue spray and fixed it in a couple of minutes. Six of the riders decided to go on a longer ride, so they left while we “repaired” my puncture. This is the rest of the group (four people + me) who went straight back to Berlin, making it a 120 km instead of 160 km ride.

This is now how my Veloviewer heatmap for 2015 looks like:

veloviewer_heatmap_jan-mar_2015

King of the runway

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The storm “Niklas” has caused a state of emergency in Berlin. Hurricane blasts reach between 120 and 140 km/h. Trains and cars have been crushed by falling trees. And the TV tower had to be evacuated; the visitors had to take the emergency stairs to the ground – that’s 986 steps!

Naturally I wanted to see what it was like to ride in such weather. Maybe I could set some personal records on the runways on Tempelhof! Unlike yesterday, which was only rain storm, there is also sunshine today. But the weather changes so fast.

My first attempt at the northern runway was wonderful. I quickly reached 60 km/h and pedaled at 115 rpm on the highest gear. Yowamushi Pedal fans would say I pedaled like Onoda Sakamichi (who I don’t really care for) but used the wind like Manami Sangaku (my favorite). I couldn’t keep up that speed though. And I wasn’t even warmed up.

Manami Sangaku
Manami Sangaku

Then came some rain and I took a break before slowly making my way back to the western part of the field. Then I tried the southern runway, but it was nothing like the northern had been. I only reached 50 km/h, though funnily speeding up and keeping at 56 for the last part. Don’t know if it was lack of wind or if the southern strip is simply laid out differently than the northern.

I ventured for a third attempt to see if I would have better luck with the wind. I didn’t. But at 49 km/h the tube of my back wheel burst with a loud bang. I quickly released the wheel and started changing the tube. But then the storm came – really quickly, you can see it approaching on the photo. And it was stronger than I thought would be possible today (cause yesterday was fiercer). The big trash container next to me flew away about 50 meters. Within a minute I was soaked by rain, which gave way to hail. Imagine changing a tube in a hail storm. And to top that, there was suddenly thunder as well. And I was in the middle of the field (you always are when you get a flat). I did the changing pretty fast and pumped up the tire just enough to be able to roll, but then I couldn’t get the wheel on again, the chain was total chaos, and I had lost the feeling in my hands, so I started walking – bike in one hand, wheel in the other. No, that wouldn’t work. The storm subsided a bit and I managed to get the wheel on (how hard can it be). Hadn’t really pumped the tire very hard, but at least I could roll slowly towards the exit. Then the rain and hail subsided as well, and soon it would be sunny again. But I was soaked and swearing and just wanted a warm shower. How could I have been so stupid to go out and ride in the storm!

But then I came home, took the shower and uploaded the ride to Strava. And damn it if I didn’t take the KOM of the northern runway! With over 2 km/h margin; my average speed was 57,3 km/h – number two has only 55,2:

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So now I’m number 1 out of 429 competitors. The record will probably last for quite a while, or at least until the next storm strong enough to cause an Ausnahmezustand. It was worth it after all.

Update: The previous KOM holder “grt h” congratulated me on Strava (you get an email when your KOM is stolen) and said that he had just got out himself to steal back the record. He didn’t succeed though:

Hab grad noch versucht ihn zurückzuholen, aber keine Chance 😉

(PS: Now you all think that I care a lot about these Strava records. And you know what: I do! I’m proud as hell. In case that wasn’t obvious…)