Less than 24 hours after arriving home from Austria, I already had to take the first train towards Bonn, as Elvire (ex-colleague from work) and Matthias (an astronomer himself too) asked me and Jonas to take pictures during their wedding. This way I finally managed to use my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L IS USM lens, which I bought back in January… So Jonas took pictures with a wide angle lens, while I was responsible for the close-ups and portraits. This made things much easier, as we did not need to change lenses or work with two cameras which is common among professional wedding photographers. I am very happy with the results, and of course the freshly wed felt the same way :) A broader selection of my pictures can be seen on Flickr, while here is a sample of them. I really love this lens, it is a pleasure to work with it!
I am 10000 days old today :) / Ma lettem 10000 napos :)
Ok, I will keep it short: it was a nice conference (The Modern Era of Helio- and Asteroseismology, 20-25 May) held on a very scenic spot (Ötz Valley), and I gave a talk: Rotation and pulsation in B stars on the main sequence – a case study of the B3 IV CoRoT target HD 43317, and a first look at our Kepler Guest Observer sample (so the presentation of my last paper and a short intro to my next paper). And one extra cool thing: the landing to and the take-off from Innsbruck between the mountains! I love flying :) (Photo from Paul Beck – click and it gets bigger!)
Although I had a feeling it was not the best idea, I got dragged into a race after coming back from Mallorca by Stan and Tijl… Of course I was curious if I can finally manage to survive a real Flemish koers, because one and a half years ago I already failed once miserably, although I was in an incomparably worse shape back then… Now after months of hard training and a week on Mallorca, with much more experience on the road bike, I was relatively optimistic, so I set the goal of finishing the race for myself, hoping that it was within reach. Tijl drove me to the start in Hoeleden, I was very nervous, but I still felt OK. Then the other competitors started to arrive, mostly with really fancy (expensive, light, and aerodynamic) bikes, some of them came with small teams, so I felt a bit worried and afraid of the competition… Still, I did some good warm up, tried out with Tijl how to take a bottle from his hands while riding with 40 km/h, and then went to the start line, still relatively optimistic, looking forward to one and a half hour of suffering, but hoping that I can finish the race with the main group, without being dropped.
The first lap is always a bit slower, behind the race director’s car, so speed and heart rate-vise it was OK, although I did not feel very good about all the crazy breaking in front of me. Things can get a bit tense when you are surrounded with a 100 other bikers from every side… Then after the first lap, hell broke loose… On the long flat we had a speed constantly above 50 km/h (there was a sleigh tailwind), which was still OK (as for me a heart rate of 180 is still fine, I can take that for more than one and a half hours), but then near the end of the lap, when we got sidewind on a slight uphill section, and the peloton got stretched out into a one biker wide long line, then I could not follow anymore, it was just too much. I was dropped after two laps. But I was far not the first to be dropped. And still, I managed to go another two laps before I was taken out from the race by the director. It could have been much further, if the guys I caught up with would have been more cooperative… But anyway, being dropped from the main group in a criterium race always means it is over. It is just impossible to catch up. Here is the GPS-log of the race.
I was pissed. I was pissed because I really wanted to finish, and even though I felt strong, and I was in a good shape, with a very good fitness level, I did not manage to follow. Ok, I did not do too much interval training this year, but with this much training, I felt very disappointed to drop out like this. And I kind of lost motivation too, I did not feel that I would want to just train more and more and come back next time, I just felt like I do not want this crap anymore. And by crap I mean the racing, not the biking :) I biked home after the race with Stan (who at the end did not participate in the race, although that might have been good for me), which felt good, but I felt hurt inside. It was not physical pain, but mental…
Towards the end of may I still did some proper training, I had a seasonal best (or personal best if you look only at rides without aero wheels) on my standard Leuven-Mechelen-Leuven route, but then I really felt burned out. I need to take a small break, stay off the bike for a while, so by the time I have my cycling holiday on Gran Canaria (starting on the last days of August) I can build up my form again, and enjoy riding again as much as I did in the first 5 months of 2012. I am already at 5130 kilometres this year anyway :)
Yes, I know, I am really lagging behind my life with the blog, but it is not dead yet. So to cut the unnecessary chatter short, I have been on a cycling holiday finally not alone, but with other people! I know, sounds unbelievable, but several photos and videos prove that Tijl and Thomas were my company.
We have spent 7 amazing days on Mallorca from the 29th of April till the 5th of May. Our headquarters were in Port de Pollenca in an amazing seaside villa (where we all had our private bedroom and private bathroom – early season prices are really low…), so every morning we had breakfast on the terrace (which was a bit chilly, but as soon as we managed to get some sun on our skin, everything became better), and every evening we had a stroll along the beach to the ‘city’ to have dinner in our local Pizzeria (where the service got better and better as we kept going back every day – so the last evening it was the chef himself serving us). I have to mention here, that they have the best brownie (warm brownie with nuts and raisins inside served with vanilla ice cream…) on the planet. Period. Then we usually went to the market square after dinner to get our daily internet and upload our rides to Garmin Connect. Then we went to sleep. Which was very well deserved every day…
We made loads of movies with my helmet camera (which was installed on one of our handlebars), which I still have to edit and cut together, but I need a bit more time for that, as there are other things in my life too… But the footage we got is really cool, believe me. The scenery was amazing, the weather was nice, the company was great, so we had loads of fun.
I have already ‘killed myself’ on the first ride of the first day, racing to the lighthouse, which did not feel too good (I was somewhere in between throwing up and fainting, luckily neither of these happened), but my form quickly shoved, so all the hard training of the first four months was proven to be very useful. Although Tijl and Thomas had much less training and they are also a bit older (sorry… :P), it still felt good to be the strongest of the three. Still, Thomas was a great climber (who always managed to stick with me so I could only ‘win’ the climbs with a sprint at the end – thanks to my fitness level), and Tijl is just crazy amazing on the descents (so technically impossible to follow for people with no suicidal tendencies :D). Also, Tijl’s English breakfast was first class. We should have had it on every morning ;)
Here are the links for all the rides on Garmin Connect: Day 1 morning (to the lighthouse) and Day 1 afternoon (small flat circle), Day 2 (long flat ride), Day 3 (Sa Calobra – big competitive climb), Day 4 (small flat rest day circle), Day 5 (extreme stage), Day 6 (long flat till the climb of Cura), Day 7 (morning good bye ride to the lighthouse). Total of 645 km with 8200 metre of elevation gain, 18 000 Cal burned. It was an extremely nice holiday, and it was extremely crappy to arrive back to the rainy Charleroi in 6°C… :D I could write pages of this holiday, but this was really something you have to experience as a cyclist (all the discussions about bike parts, following ‘The Rules‘, passionate bike cleaning, etc.), and not read about it. I will be back somewhen with the videos too! Update: here it is (set it to 720p).