Cycling, Uncategorized

A weekend in the Alps

An impromptu ride down to the Italian Alps to experience some of the climbs I’ve been meaning to do ever since moving to Munich: Stelvio, Gavia, and Timmelsjoch. Also to remember how to do multi-day rides in the run-up to the TCR. I realised how hard alpine climbing (on a bike) can be.

In numbers:

  • Kilometres cycled: 714
  • Metres of altitude gained: 11,000
  • Nights: 2
  • Nights with sleep: 1
  • Countries visited: 3
  • Passes ridden: 7 (some bigger than others)
  • Passes planned to be ridden: 8
  • Near-death experiences in tunnels: 1
  • Marmots spotted: 1
  • Train crashes spotted: 1

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Around Norway: the kit

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Around Norway

I was going to combine this with a “lessons learned” post, but I know some people are eager to know what I took with me, so without further ado here’s the list.

With three full bottles of water, the bike and luggage weighed in at a shade over 20 kg. I didn’t weigh the bike beforehand, and I have to admit I was a little shocked when I eventually did weigh it at home, after the event. I think by slimming down my kit and choosing some lighter options I could maybe shed a couple of kilos, but I’m not sure I could realistically get it down much further than that without making too many compromises.

So here’s a list of what I took and how I set the bike up. I’ve written things roughly in order of how much I used them. Things that I didn’t use are starred* and things I would not bring again are struck through.

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Around Norway, part 2: ferries, mountains, and bus shelters

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Around Norway

Lysebotn and the rest of day 3 were my first real taste of the Norwegian mountains and the day was a taxing one. By mid-afternoon I’d come down off the high ground and into a headwind on the Rv9 toward Haukeli. My energy was leaving me and I was feeling like I wasn’t going to last much longer. Thirsty, exhausted, and craving fresh food, I pulled up to a grocery shop in Valle for a break.

This was the first slump I’d had and I felt pretty rubbish about it. You’re supposed to just keep pedalling, right? And I was stopping just because I couldn’t face it? That’s not a good look. Well, I’m sure it’ll get better, but right now I need that bottle of pear juice in the fridge.

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Around Norway, part 1

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Around Norway

tl;dr: I rode a bike-packing event covering pretty much the whole of sub-arctic Norway. The 3,400 km route took in Norway’s most iconic scenery and demanded payment in kind. I bike-packed my way to the end in 9 days, 8 hours, 43 minutes.

Some highlights:

  • πŸ“ˆ Lots of climbing
  • β›΄ Inconvenient ferry timetables
  • 😰 A 1,000 m switchback descent, including a 1 km tunnel with a 10% hairpin inside it… that had to be climbed again afterwards
  • ⛽️ Extortionate petrol station food
  • 🚏 Camping in bus shelters
  • πŸͺ¦ Camping in graveyards
  • πŸ₯΅ Unbearable heat
  • πŸ₯Ά Unbearable cold
  • 🎭 Plentiful mood swings
  • πŸ” The most beautiful mountain scenery I’ve ever seen

This was a long ride and this is going to be a long write-up – long enough to merit several instalments. Riding so far is a complex experience and I’m not really sure how to capture the whole thing in a blog post, so we’ll see how this goes.

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Science & Academia

Quantum computers?

The following is a transcript of an answer that I posted on Stack Overflow in response to the question:

I read a while back that quantum computers can break most types of hashing and encryption in use today in a very short amount of time (I believe it was mere minutes). How is it possible? I’ve tried reading articles about it but I get lost at the “a quantum bit can be 1, 0, or something else”. Can someone explain how this relates to cracking such algorithms in plain English without all the fancy maths?

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New lights (and how to fix them)

I got a new set of take-me-home lights recently: the USE Exposure Trace/TraceR set, an evolution of the brand’s previous small front/rear pairs. I’ve been riding with them for a couple of months now and love them.

My pair was working perfectly well until a few days ago, when I washed the bike while the rear light was still onboard. Already a bad idea, probably, but I’d forgotten to batten down the charging port cover and, predictably, the light succumbed to the hosepipe. Of course, once a waterproof thing has water in it, it’s rather difficult to get it out. In this case, the only way the water could come out was through the tiny micro-USB port machined into the side of the otherwise sealed body.

To my surprise, though, I eventually managed to get it working again by leaving it for a few hours in my friend’s food dehydrator (where rice, salt, and a hairdryer had all failed). So if you have water-damaged electronics, a dehydrator or dehumidifier might give them a new lease on life…

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