Critical Mass in Geneva

For those who like to cycle in a group of people there is a critical mass event organised for the 29th of August from 1830 onwards in Geneva. The meeting point is the île Rousseau. From there they will cycle around the city of Geneva. At the moment of writing this post the weather is meant to be good with sun and 29°c.

When I cycled with a group of people in London I had fun. I found that the city of London was much smaller than I had thought. If you don’t know a city it is an opportunity to discover new cycling routes and if you do know the city it is an opportunity to meet new people.

The group cycles at a speed that is comfortable for everyone. Those who are confident have time to stop and take pictures or place ingress and Pokemon Go and those who are not as fast are not abandoned.

Although not a critical mass bike ride when I met with a group to cycle in Geneva we travelled about 40km. The advantage that I have when I cycle in and around Geneva is that the landscape is flat compared to where I cycle in the countryside.

Geneva has bike and bus lanes in the centre and when you get out of the centre you have cycle paths that are separate from road traffic and pedestrian traffic. When youn get to the Geneva countryside the roads are relatively quiet so you do not have to worry about cycling in traffic.

There is a critical mass cycling app to make finding the group easier if you meet the group after it has started cycling.

Cycling Trip to Lausanne and Back

When I set off on my cycling trip to Lausanne and back I thought that the strong wind would force me to turn around and that I would abort the attempt by the time I got to Rolle or Morges. As I continued cycling I fought the wind and I made slow progress. When I was in the dips or along certain walls I had a break from the wind. I continued on with the effort.
A nice portion of this route is on cycle paths so you are protected from traffic. Sometimes the cycle path is on the side of the road and at other points it is on a pavement at the side of the road. Near St Prex the route bifurcates from the road and goes through a 30km zone. You rejoin the road a few minutes later. Around Ouchy the roads were relatively quiet.

I stopped in Ouchy to recover
I stopped in Ouchy to recover before cycling back.

The air temperature when I set off was about 20°c with wind. As I cycled I never felt too warm. It was a great temperature in which to cycle over a long distance. For the first hour I was drinking Jura water before switching to electrolytes for the route back. I usually carry enough water or snacks for part of the journey and when I feel the need for a rest I stop and pick up more supplies. It keeps the weight down.

I was lucky when I cycled back towards Gland because the wind continued blowing in the same direction. The wind that I had spent the outward journey fighting was now in my back. As a result despite muscle fatigue the cycle back was comfortable enough and I still managed to get a good time. The challenge when cycling from the foot of the Jura is that you eventually need to spend energy to get from the lake uphill. It might be psychological but the place from which I like to climb from the lakeside is through Gland. There are a number of routes with reduced traffic or you can take the main road.
In this case I took the main road and when I was passing the train station I felt the rear wheel wobble so I stopped to check the wheel but it seemed fine. I then cycled a little further and then heard the rear tire flopping. A thorn had made its way in to the tire and punctured it.

I had noticed that there was a cycle shop on the lake road so instead of going to the two sports shop near the bouldering gym I went to this one. The owner was just about to leave when he saw me pushing my bike. He was very helpful. He helped me replace the tire and pump it up again so that I could continue my journey.

I had always worried about getting a puncture and I was lucky that it happened in such a convenient place. I had to walk back about two kilometres but in the end the inconvenience of the puncture was quickly resolved and I could head home. It provided me with time to recover before heading up the hill once again. I am amused that it was a thorn. I cycle around rocks, glass and other hazards on the road and nature got me with a simple thorn. To be fair I had cycled about nine hundred kilometres before getting a puncture.

Some of the landscape you see
Some of the landscape you see

 

In the back of my mind I was always ready to cycle to Lausanne and then catch the train back but my endurance lasted both ways so I skipped the train. My next challenge will be to cycle around the Lac de Neuchâtel which is meant to be about 96 kilometres depending on the route you choose.

Half way through to this year’s cycling goal.

So far this year I have been cycling for 680 km in 33hrs with a height gain of 6800 meters. In this time I have used my narrative clip 2 device to document the ride with a picture every 10-30 seconds as I want to focus on riding rather than other things. I like to have as high a moving time as possible so I usually stop once I get back to my starting point.

By cycling I see the landscape at a slower, more interesting speed. I see the roads, I smell the vegetation, I feel the heat and I feel the cold. I also discover small paths that I would not take in a car or on a scooter. In practicing this sport I get to know the landscape. I also get to see seasonal changes.

This year I have cycled in the rain, in the snow, in the wind and on days like today. Today it was sunny and there was no wind to fight against. It made the ride more pleasant.

The technology I took on today’s ride was my narrative clip 2 to take pictures of the bike ride, my Crosscall Odyssey+ phone, the Cateye Evo+ and finally the Suunto Ambit 3. I also took the Ricoh Theta S but never stopped to take pictures. For future rides I should fix it to the handle bars. I could bring you with me on my next bike ride. Of course I would keep just the interesting bits of the ride. I can throw away the rest.

Vittorio Brumotti in Livigno

For years I have enjoyed watching the Tour De France and often call it the French Landscape program. In this case we start with Vittorio Brumotti cycling with his team before becoming distracted and going to enjoy some mountain bike trails, some balancing on barriers, floating in a swimming pool, enjoying a running carpet and more. It shows the area of Livigno and what it has to offer in summer.

You might remember him for a video from earlier this year or last year. I like that road cycling teams have athletes who can show their balancing and other skills. It makes the sport more entertaining to watch. Remember when he cycled in the plane graveyard and on that barrier?

StravistiX for Strava

StravistiX for Strava

Stravistix for strava is a Chrome plugin. It allows you to analyse the data from your ride in more detail and with more graphs. In the detailed view you can see heart rate information, speed, power, grade, elevation and  ascent speed. It allows you to see each metric in more depth.

It allows you to look at your statistics in detail. You can see what percentage of the ride was flat, uphill or downhill. You can see how fast you were climbing and how your speed varies.

This breadth of data is fun to play with. It allows you to see whether you do spend as much time as you thought climbing. It also allows you to see how much of your time was spent static or moving.

There is a weather module for wind, temperature, clouds and humidity. This is a nice way of checking whether the wind is favourable to the ride you are thinking of doing that day.

What I would like to see next is a log of the weather and especially wind during the ride. It would like to see ground speed in contrast to wind speed. This data should be relatively easy to acquire.

Plugins are great because they allow you to do more with the data that you or other people generate. They allow weekend and professional riders to analyse how they are progressing. It also allows riders to compare themselves with others.

E-bikes, autumn and the changing seasons.

One evening this week I was walking in the countryside at the foot of the Jura enjoying the evening when I walked by a couple. They were sitting on a bench looking across some fields towards the Mont Blanc, the Alps and of course the Lac Léman. Leaning against the bench were two e-bikes with good suspension.

It made me think about retirement and free time. It encouraged me to think about the freedom and pleasure of exploring the landscape on a bike without having to make the same effort as if you were on a conventional bike. I thought of the range it would offer and the gradients you could climb. It would in essence give you the freedom of a car with the practicality of a bike.

Of course there is a barrier to enjoying this pass time and that is the price of these bikes. In Switzerland they cost as much as a scooter. They lack the range and flexibility though. Electric bikes, in relation to road bikes are in fact cheap.

Enjoy some freedom, swap your car for a bike for two weeks
Enjoy some freedom, swap your car for a bike for two weeks

I already alternate between a car, a scooter and a bike and with the change in weather I prefer the comfort of the car or the speed of a scooter. If it’s raining then I would much prefer to use the car. It is a shame that they have this promotion at the end of the pleasant season. If they had this promotion at the beginning of summer then I would have taken advantage of it. I will take this option if they offer it next year.

 

 

Fribourg was liberated by Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva Ingress resistance fighters

This weekend teams of Resistance Ingress agents from Fribourg, Lausanne and Geneva met in Fribourg to neutralise and capture all Enlightened portals. Some teams were on foot to liberate portals from the centre of the city. I was with the bike team and we took care of liberating all of the portals on the outskirts. It involved cycling up and down hills, a thunderstorm and being rained on.

I really enjoyed being part of the cycling team. It’s a fantastic way to get around and it’s a good way of seeing a big portion of unfamiliar cities with a minimum of effort. My team members were on electric bikes and I was on a mountain bike. This was great for me. I had to work hard to keep up with them. This was a good workout. There were moments where I generated up to an estimated 1300 watts of power for very short bursts and got the fifth best time on a segment.

I enjoyed this experience so much that I would love to do this again in other cities around here. Cycling gave me a workout and playing Ingress gave me time to recover. It seems that if you’re creating fields having a bike is ideal. You can get almost anywhere from anywhere within a city within minutes with a minimum of effort. By car this would be dangerous and impractical and on foot it would be slow and impractical.

The Bulle Slowup

Bulle is a city by a lake in the Canton De Gruyère in Switzerland. Last weekend they held their annual slowup event. A slowup is an event where roads are closed to motorised transport in favour of cyclists, roller bladers, skate boarders and other self propelling sports. The loop is around 26km long and there are ares to stop and enjoy food every few kilometres.

At this event you can also get your bike maintained for free except for parts that need replacing. It’s a great opportunity to take an old worn out bike and have it reconditioned. As I spent several days getting mine back in to condition I did not abuse of this opportunity.

The first climb
The first climb

The landscape around Bulle is nice. As you cycle you can see the Moléson mountains in the distance, and without clouds for a change. You can also enjoy a few climbs and descents. The gradients are not steep and the climbs are not long. A friend of mine was on rollerblade and it impresses me that she did around 30km.

Father and daughter
Father and child

The best feature of slowups is the ability to enjoy a wide road and cycle anywhere you like without the usual cars overtaking too close and too fast. As a result parents and their children can enjoy this beautiful landscape.

BYOB, not bring your own bike or beer. Bring your own barbecue
BYOB, not bring your own bike or beer. Bring your own barbecue

It’s amusing to see someone take a cool box and barbecue for such an event. I didn’t see them stop and start preparing food though.

 

France Télévision Coverage of the Tour De France

The Tour De France is a 3600 kilometre race over 3 weeks with one independent race each day. They start in an international city and then make their way to France within two or three days. The programmes are built around three specific shows. There is the pre-show Village programme followed by the first part of the race before the depart until well after it. The last segment is moved to France 2 for peak viewing and audience.

During the first of these programmes you learn about the city the tour de France is leaving. You get artist interviews, food preparation and other small animations. During the second programme, the first part of the race you see the cyclists and the landmarks and places worthy of note. You get landscape shots of the countryside, aerial shots of castles and learn about where they are cycling for future tourist visits should you be in one part of France or the other. You also get to see the cycling.

Today they’re cycling through the Pyrenées so you will see the cyclists face the challenge of climbs at the same time as working on making their endurance last long enough.

There are a lot of sports on television but very few of them have the intensity and landscape of cycling. Tennis is in a court, Football is in a stadium, golf is in a park. Only Cycling provides television audiences with a journey, a voyage. I love this voyage and love the “French Landscape programme” as I like to call it, for this very reason.

Cycling in the Vallée de Joux

Cycling in the Vallée de Joux is an enjoyable way of taking advantage of the summer heat we are currently lucky enough to experience. The Lac de Joux is a small lake and the ride distance is around 22 kilometres. In winter this lake freezes and I have walked over it whilst others have taken the opportunity to ice skate. It is located in the Jura after the Col De Marchairuz if you are coming from the Léman region of Switzerland.

The cycle around the lake is relatively flat for most of the journey. I cycled clockwise starting from the western side of the lake. There is a 13% grade climb to contend with so be ready for it. It is not long but it is steep and you’re almost to the top when you get to the train tracks. Traffic is sparse so you can meet the challenge without stress from cars.

There are two sets of sign posts that you can follow. One is for cross country bikes and the second is for road bikes. I had some fun doing a little of both as my bike allows for this.

Cycling around this lake is pleasant. As you travel to the North of the lake you climb through the mountains with the occasional glimpse of the lake with it’s wind surfers, pedalo and other related sports. You can smell the pine trees and have a number of places to stop for a drink and rehydrate yourself.

When you get to Le Lieu you can follow the road to a second lake along a nice easy road or you can choose the VTT (mountain bike trail. You have a short climb up until you get to dirt roads. These take you over the hill and back down the other side with a very nice view on a secondary lake.

You have a nice descent from Le Lieu to Le Pont.
You have a nice descent from Le Lieu to Le Pont.

From here you go around and arrive on the Eastern side of the lake where you find two or three restaurants and an epicierie. That’s where I stopped to get a refreshing drink. It felt so good to ingest cool liquid and I was pleasantly surprised by the relatively low price.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lac de Joux

From the Eastern Edge of the road you can cycle along the foot path or you can cycle on the road. Out of respect for walkers/hikers I chose to go along the road. On the Southern side of the lake the road is rising slightly so you won’t get too tired. It’s from this side that you have some really beautiful landscapes to appreciate.

Now that I have cycled around this lake I hope to make my way up to larger and larger lakes. Switzerland does have healthy opportunities. Eventually I want to cycle around the Léman once I feel my physical condition is right.