Tag Archives: sport

The start of the year

And again, I have not written anything for more than a month. Sorry about that. It’s just that I am busy living my life, and even though sometimes I really feel like writing about stuff that happened with/around me, by the time I sit in front of the computer and open the admin interface of my blog, I am too lazy to really do it.

So, stuff that I wanted to talk about, but I have not done it: 1) I finished my first level of Dutch (A1-Breakthrough) in December. I had 120 hours of classes spread over three months (3 times 3.5 hours a week), and my results (coming from three exams) were the following: Grote onderscheiding (Kennis 17/20, Lezen 8/10, Luisteren 16/20, Schrijven 16/20, Spreken 24/30). Just to have an idea, this comes with a vocabulary of ~1000 words, and a lot of grammar. I had my first class of Level 2 (A2-Waystage) yesterday, but this time it is only 2 times 3.5 hours a week. By the end of this level, we will be finished with the Vanzelfsprekend book (368 pages!).

2) We mad a big decision, and bought the apartment we had been renting for already more than a year by then. (On my side, I need to thank my parents for the financial contribution.) It was a good test-ride, and since the owners wanted to sell it, we decided that this was the best thing to do. So we do not have to pay rent anymore, “just” the loan, but at least after 20 years, we will have something valuable which is 100% ours, instead of 20 years of rent-payment behind our backs. This of course means that I am very serious about staying in Belgium, so I should indeed be good at my Dutch classes… Among others. But I will come back to that later.

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3) We have spent a nice long weekend in Grenoble, visiting Clio’s friends. We had a great time, even though they were completely overwhelmed by trying to move into their new-but-still-under-construction house with their baby :) Even with all the difficulties, they were great hosts, and we had a nice time over there. I hope we can visit during the summer too, then I can go cycling into the Alps. This time I did some running (a bit more than 20 km in three runs), which might be a surprise for even my oldest readers, since I used to hate running… It is indeed a relatively new thing (I would not call it a hobby, I am still not in love with running…), I started it last January, when it was way too snowy (yeas, still talking about Belgium, I am serious) for biking, and I was fed up with riding on the indoor trainer with my bike. Of course I only run with a Garmin Forerunner 210 on my wrist, I am not going anywhere without a GPS :)

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4) Speaking of sports, January 2013 was my best January so far, with ~800 kilometres (~31 hours) of running and cycling, irrespective of the cold (ok, not so cold this year), wind, and darkness. That’s pretty good. “Unluckily” now I have lots of Belgian friends on Strava, who did twice this much… Just to put things into perspective :) But in any case, thanks to this, my weight is almost at the level where I like to have it during the summer months! All the Christmas kilos are gone :)

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5) I applied for an FWO Postdoctoral fellowship. If I get this grant, that will mean that I can continue with my research for another 3 years at the KU Leuven after my current short term postdoctoral contract ends on the 31st of December. Based on the number of applicants/available money during the previous years, I have around 20-25% chance, so please, keep your fingers crossed. If I don’t get it, then I will have to start looking outside astronomy :(

6) I spent last (work)week in the Observatory of Geneva on a work visit, which was quite nice, especially because I always like solving problems for other people :) I also gave a 45 minute seminar about my PhD, which I finished with my time-lapse video about Mercator and by distributing some fine Belgian chocolate for the after-lunch coffee, so I am convinced everyone left the auditorium fully satisfied ;) But seriously, the talk was also fine… I also did some running on two afternoons (running uphills hurts big time) when it was not raining cats and dogs, and I got the opportunity to eat bison meat on one of the evenings. It was really great!

7) I got 29… On one hand, a few years ago this seemed to be so far, and now it is suddenly here, but on the other one, a few weekends ago I went cycling with someone who lives just around the corner, and I was really hurting while I tried to keep up with him, and he is 49, so clearly, for at least another 20 years, I don’t need to worry about getting too old for cycling :) I just need to keep Rule #5 in mind. I will write about my birthday present (besides the massive fruit tart I got from Clio) in the next post in a few days ;)

See you soon!

July

A month without posts on the blog can be a sign that my life just became boring, or that it is just so good and my days are so filled with things to do that I simply have no time/energy/psychological need to write. I can assure you that the latter is much closer to reality. But now, having a week of holidays in France, I have some time to sum up things from July.

The main topic of this month was cycling (while I am still working on my second paper, so no big news work-vise, before anyone asks). I set a goal for myself to ride at least 1000 km before climbing the Mont Ventoux somewhen during the last week of the month (see next post soon). I managed that surprisingly easily, with 3-5 trainings per week (mostly my standard 50 km rides before or after working hours, and then one or two rides above 100 km on the weekends or national holidays). I even had company sometimes with the AstroTeam, though they all say that it is impossible to keep up with me, and that my training rides are madness :D I have to admit that hearing these things always make me feel better ;) But now I am really so used to the trainings, that if I don’t ride my road bike for two days, then I really start feeling bad about it, and I really need to hit the road and ride.

On the last weekend before going on holidays, I went on an organised ride (Herent – Landen – Herent) with Tijl, wich would have resulted in reaching the 1000 km goal already before the last week (and the Mont Ventoux) of the month. Unluckily, the ride ended much sooner than expected, as after 20 kilometers (which I later decided to not even count as training for this month), I hit a car. No, I was not hit by a car, I hit a car… It was clearly my fault, we should have given the right to the car turning out onto our road from the right hand side (willing to continue in the direction from where we were coming from), but the fact that it let two other cyclists pass before us confused us for a moment. This moment was long enough for my brain to decide that it will be all right and we will just pass in front of the car as the two other cyclists just did, so I did not start breaking (while Tijl who was more in front already came into almost a full stop). Unluckily, the car driver probably only saw Tijl stopping, so he went on with his original plan of turning out onto the road, and at this point I was too close and way to fast to stop. The rain and the wet roads did not help me either, so missing Tijl just by centimeters, I basically went straight into the side of the turning car with a speed of 33 km/h (data from my GPS log ;P)… Luckily, the car was big, so I could not fly over it, and its side had an angle of 45° relative to my ‘speed vector’ (because it was turning), so I could slide along it during the impact. This probably saved me from a ride to the hospital. I was relatively lucky, because I only hit my knee into the car, and my helmet a bit while I was sliding along the side. With a full frontal impact, it would have been probably much much worse. Unluckily, my front wheel broke (again, damping the impact quite a lot), and the damage is unrepairable – and of course I had the fancy expensive aero-wheels on… But again, no other damage to the bike besides this, which I think is quite unbelievable – given my momentum. Also, the side of the car got seriously bent in (so it was really not a tiny little impact) and scratched, but my insurance will cover that. Tijl helped a lot with filling in the accident report form, and on the afternoon he looked up lots of insurance related stuff for me. As I could not ride any further from this crossroad, I got a ride from the organisers (that’s also a reason why these cyclosportive events are really good…). By the afternoon, my right knee looked like an inflated ball, so – as already as a first thought right after getting up from the ground along with some nice Hungarian swear words – my biggest worry was ‘how am I going to ride up to the Mont Ventoux in less then a week’s time’. Yeah, I was not really shocked by the accident itself. So on the afternoon I took a shower with my bike, and inspected it for further damage (luckily there was nothing), and then spent the rest of the weekend with resting (except for Sunday evening)… But I was quite optimistic about the following week anyway… (Hey, my guardian angel up there, thanks again if you read this.)

Finally this month I made it to Mechelen without my bike, as we had a nice day there with Elise, visiting a photo exhibition, the tower of the cathedral with more than 500 stairs up to a height of almost 100 meters (and with the bells and mechanical parts of the carillon inside – did you know that Belgium has the second highest carillon density over surface area in the World after the Netherlands?), and the city park, plus we have seen the Big Jump event (people raising awareness for the water quality of Belgian rivers by jumping into them) too :)

Then a week later, I made a three course dinner at my place for her (as the main idea was to go and listen to the Daan concert that night, which turned out to be a bit too crowded unluckily), and even though I made everything for the very first time in my life, it was perfect! (I was very proud of myself, as I am not the biggest chef at all…) If I had known that it is so easy to make pancakes, I would have made them every week :D So I made them on Sunday again (ok, a bit less fancy version, but the pancakes were the same) for some of my friends, and they also liked them!

For the rest of the month, I went to the Hungarian embassy in Brussels to make a new passport (took me 5 hours…), saw the last Harry Potter movie (it was OK), and had the experience of hopping on the train after work to arrive in Gent after only one hour, then have dinner (and get invited to the Mont Ventoux) there, and still arrive back to Leuven at a reasonable hour. I could never imagine this happening in Hungary between two big cities ~100 kilometers away from each other with the trains there… Sorry, but this is true. So this was the story of July till the 24th, I will tell you about the last week in the next post!

April

Again a full mont passed since I posted anything here. I do not have the same motivation as before (to write regularly), but still, I would like to remember what happened with me, and my – built in – memory is not sufficient to handle all the information. So I write a post every month – at least. Now I am flying over Spain towards La Palma, with the clouds below, so I have time again :) Pictures are slightly randomly spread over this time. Figure out what is what ;)

First of all, this month, I have biked a lot. And when I say a lot, I really mean it. If I look at my calendar on Garmin Connect, it is full of rides. There were times when I rode too much, I could tell it from the way my legs denied to move as fast as my mind requested them to do. So with all the KUL trainings, the Brabantse Pijl (the sportive version, not the Race – which was the first out of the four wins for Gilbert early in the season, making him the ‘Armstrong of the spring classics’ this year), the first ever AstroTeam ride (with colleagues), the usual lonely rides to Mechelen, and a really good day to the citadel of Namur, I rode 885.44 kilometres (spent 29h 28m 08 s in the saddle, and burned ~25000 Calories), which made this April my best month on the racing bike ever. And I could have done more if I wanted, but there are other things in life, not just cycling. (Yeah, shocking statement, I know :D) But I enjoy every second on the road. I really fly on the bike :)

Work is OK, but a bit slow. Sometimes I have my ideas but I don’t feel like woking them out. I know the road which leads to the solution, but I don’t want to walk along it. And then it is sometimes really hard to force myself to stay concentrated on the details… But after Easter, we had a four day workshop at the Institute on binary stars and the Kepler satellite, and it was really good, I have learned a lot of useful and new stuff, which I will be able to use probably very soon.

Thanks to the workshop, I have met some old friends, and we had great dinners all week long. Just to mention one from the many, I had the best salmon of my life in the Lodge in Heverlee. Also, I served as the official photographer of the event, taking not just a series of static, but a full HD group ‘picture’ too ;) Everyone liked the idea – you can check it out for yourself on YouTube.

Just like last year, my mother came for a visit – and brought cake, wine, and Túró Rudi with herself :) Everyone asks the same question, so I have to make it clear, that I would have been happy to have her around even without these nice add-ons ;) But I would be a terrible liar if I were to deny that this way it was even better :D We had a nice weekend together, and this time the weather was also fine. In general, the weather in April was almost unbelievably sunny, warm and dry. Belgium is not a rainy place at all, the two years I have spent here really forces me to draw this conclusion.

And at last, but definitely not least, I spent three great days with Elise, whom I got to know last month in the Stuk. First, on the 20th after a morning meeting with my supervisor, I went to Antwerpen, where she gave me a tour around the city, but avoiding all the shopping streets :)

This really improved my opinion about the city a lot! Then on the last day of April, we went to Den Haag to the Netherlands – again for a picturesque city trip. It was the Queen’s birthday, so the abundance of people dressed in orange was extremely high.

We took quite a large amount of pictures too! Oh, and just to mention one special thing, I sat in the drivers seat of a tram – which we later took to just go around the city. And we ate delicious bread and cheese :) Then, to close the day we went back to Antwerpen to a nice Italian restaurant, where they served the best pizza of the city.

Finally – when I was almost on the train back to Leuven (I have already filled out my Rail Pass for the trip), we decided to have another trip on the following day (and be surprised, I was happy to cancel my cycling plans without any doubt), as the ticket inspectors were not too active on the trains that day (it might have something to do with the fact that crowd dressed in orange were blocking the aisle…), and our weekend ticket to the Netherlands stayed untouched ;) So I slept on the couch at Elise’s place (though I almost had to fight for it with her cat :D), then after a delicious breakfast (what a smoothie she made!), we left to Rotterdam.

I have seen some parts of the city when I was there last year to photograph the Tour de France and I already liked it a lot, but now it was even better. We walked around a much bigger area (so I have seen things a have not seen before), had an amazing clear and sunny – but not too warm – weather (perfect to lie or sit down on a square or at the river banks and just enjoy being there), and – the most important of all – I was not alone.

I really like the city, it is modern (has amazing architecture) but with a lot of green, and some well preserved and integrated older parts too… This was my best weekend for quite a long time. (We are just leaving the coast of the continental Europe behind while I am writing these words.) I really enjoyed taking pictures and talking with Elise, and then checking out our images on the trains back to Belgium. We had a wonderful time.

I missed the cheerful atmosphere a lot when I finally went home to Leuven, especially because I had to spend the next day with preparing and packing for La Palma, but I was very happy about the time we spent together. And for a side note, I really hate packing. And even though I really wanted to finish in time now, it was 2 AM when I finally closed my bike box. I have no idea how can I pack for such a long time… And now comes the funny part of the story. As usual, I have asked for a cab for the morning (5:15) from the same taxi company I always use, but it did not show up… I was waiting with my 60 kilograms of luggage in front of the house, and nothing… I tried to call them, but there was only voicemail. As I did not know any other companies, and it was pretty much too early to try to phone someone for help, I walked (rushed/struggled) to the station with all my stuff (I think I was quite a sight on the streets of Leuven – even for people who are used to see students travel with their suitcases every Friday and Sunday evening – with my backpack in front, the huge – and I am not kidding here – North Face XL travel duffel on my back, and pulling the bike box next to me – thank God it has wheels…), and took a taxi there. Luckily I was still in time, so if everything goes well, I will land on La Palma in one and a half hour :) Now it is two weeks of work and a week of holiday (cycling up and down) on the Canaries. This is the part of my job I like the most ;)

March

Hey, I know, I know, it’s been a while since I wrote anything here, but I had no time to do it. Or maybe I just did not devote time for it… Anyway, lets see what happened in the last weeks. (I am watching the Ronde van Vlaanderen, so I have some time to write finally…)

First of all, I am working on my second article (it looks very interesting), while my first one is already out on paper in the April 2011 issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Also, when I was observing on La Palma in October, I discovered a new variable star (while monitoring a list of candidates, so it is not that special before you start asking), which turned out to be a rather interesting one, and resulted in a publication (a Letter in The Astrophysical Journal), on which I am the second author. And there are other ongoing collaborations, which will result in a co-authorships… Fulfilling the official requirements of the PhD won’t be a problem :) And to make things even better, my KEPLER Guest Observer Proposal was accepted, which means that I will have enough data for the rest of my PhD. And extremely good data! It happens once or twice in a while, that I think about what if I did not make the right choice when I went for being an astronomer (ok, this never happens while I am observing), but when I got the email about the acceptance, I became so happy, that I knew immediately from the feeling, that I am doing what I should do. Being happy always means that you are doing the right thing :)

As spring came into Belgium, flowers started to bloom, leaves started to grow on the trees, and I was finally able to leave the indoor trainer and go cycling outside again (but I will come back to this later). And besides cycling, we started to play soccer again (and after spending two hours sliding around the artificial grass field I decided to buy real soccer shoes for the first time in my life – and they are great). I made my travel arrangements for my upcoming observing run (and cycling holiday) on La Palma (in May), and for the CoRoT Symposium in Marseille (in June), and as my travel bag started to show serious signs of falling apart, I bought a TNF Base Camp Duffel (red, XL, capable of carrying 140 liters of gear, two years of all-around guarantee), which should serve me well in the following years, and survive even the rough handling of the airport staff of IBERIA :D And now I feel the urge to travel to the North, to Iceland or Scandinavia, and – among others – watch the northern lights.

To make myself useful, I assembled some IKEA furniture and helped a colleague/friend with doing electric assembly in his future house too on two days. Once we were there from 5 PM to 4 AM, but I really enjoyed it, because first of all it was something I have never done before, and on the other hand, I had some very good ideas (especially about arranging the cable-chaos into a nice order – as it can be seen above -, and about things which involve symmetry), and it was great to see them coming true (getting up the next morning was not that great, but we had fun, and that’s the important thing). Sometimes it is really relieving to do something different.

And now about cycling. As I have already told you, there was no need to ride on the indoor trainer this month, because the weather was generally (surprisingly for this time of the year) nice, dry and relatively warm. This – and being quite motivated – resulted in my best month on the racing bike ever (so since last year February) with 673 kilometers. Of course this is nothing exceptional even on an amateur level, but I am happy with it (given the conditions). As you can see on the picture above (notice the typical Flemish bricks and cobblestones :D), now I use my new aero wheels, and I also bought a 2cm longer stem (for better position), and a new saddle (a fi’zi:k Antares for comfort). The combination is pretty sweet, I expect some very good times coming up this season ;) I started working on a python script for automatically plotting my workouts along with providing detailed statistics (much more useful than the tools on Garmin Connect), but I will write about this later in a separate post. Very early into the season, I have already done a more than 200 km ride (to be precise, this was my longest ride ever, with 213 km), and just before the end of the month, I joined the K.U.Leuven University Cycling Team (it might sound serious, but it is far from that) for a training (which was pretty OK, I had no trouble keeping up with their pace, and I even felt strong in the last 20 km in pouring rain, and gave some really strong pulls for the team)… As there are some colleagues at the Institute who like cycling, we decided to participate in a 24 hour race during the summer, and to design our own AstroTeam cycling kit :) It will be very cool to ride in such a jersey on La Palma while working at the Observatory :D

Then, the month ended with a very nice evening – having dinner and watching a theatrical play (in English!!!) in the Stuk… Let’s see what April brings!

Floorball félidény

Amíg én a Kanári szigeteken süttettem a hasam, akarom mondani, dolgoztam szó szerint éjt nappallá téve, illetve halálra bicikliztem magam, na szóval addig idő közben Belgiumban elkezdődött a floorball szezon. Az első két meccset így nélkülem játszotta – és nyerte meg – a csapat. Eredmények: 2010.09.26.: Tigers Kraainem FC – Waterloo Lions 4:3 (2:0,0:0,2:3), 2010.10.17.: Tigers Kraainem FC – Black Cobra’s Gent 12:3 (3:1,3:0,6:2). Sajnos a harmadik meccsünk már nem sikrült ilyen jól (pedig – és nem amiatt, hogy – már én is ott voltam), nagyban annak köszönhetően, hogy összesen három cserénk volt, ami floorballban (a jégkoronghoz hasonlóan) nem túl jó dolog… Mondhatni katasztrofális. Ennyi emberrel nem lehet nyerni. 2010.10.31.: Juventus Floorball Club – Tigers Kraainem FC 9:2 (2:2,4:0,3:0). Így még az első félidő döntetlen eredménye is csodaszámba menőnek tekinthető (akkor még volt erőnk futni). A meccs utáni vasárnap minden végtagom fájt, nagyon elszoktam már ettől a fajta mozgástól, a biciklizés valahogy egész más :D Pl. ott nem jönnek neki az embernek, meg ilyenek :D Na nem baj, lesz ez még jobb is. 2010.11.14.: Tigers Kraainem FC – Union Beynoise Unihockey 10:3 (4:1,5:1,1:1). A tenerifei téli iskola miatt ezen a meccsen nem játszottam, és igazán nem fair, hogy pont ezekről a könnyű győzelmekről kell lemaradnom… 2010.12.12.: Tornado Brussels Floorball – Tigers Kraainem FC 3-5 (0-1,1-0,2-4). Két szoros harmad után legázoltuk a fővárosi csapatot, izgalmas, megérdemelt győzelem volt, és végre én is jól játszottam. Aztán egy héttel később az év utolsó fordulóját a masszív hóesés miatt el kellett halasztani :) Ilyen sem minden nap fordul elő… 2011.01.09.: Waterloo Lions – Tigers Kraainem FC 7-6 (1-3,4-2,2-1). Az idei évet a hirtelen jött melegnek köszönhető közel rekod szintű áradások miatt majdnem vízben álló Liège-hez közel játszottuk. Izgalmas és főleg változatos ütközetünket a második harmad döntötte el, ahol kicsit belealudtunk az addigra már négy gólos előnyünke. Sajnos túl sokat nem játszottam a meccsen, mert rotáltunk a sorokkal (egy játékossal volt több mint két teljes sor, így más megoldás nem volt), így csak minden második cserével mentem be. Jelenleg továbbra is vezetjük a bajnokságot, de egy meccsel többet játszottunk, és három csapat is csak két pontra van tőlünk.

Igazság szerint egy kezemen meg tudom számolni hány edzésen voltam idén, de valahogy ilyen rendszertelenül annyira nem is hiányzik. Más volt otthon a heti három fix edzés, azt élveztem, meg közel is volt. Itt eleve össze vissza hébe-hóba van egy edzésünk, és oda is fél óra az út kocsival. Ma is lenne, de az elmúlt négy napban nem volt olyan hogy ne sportoltam volna minimum két órát (jégkori, kerékpár, foci és tollaslabda), és mosodába is kéne menni, így könnyen lehet, hogy kimarad…  Ráadásul a hülye fejemmel véletlenül pont a rájátszás két hétvégéjére választottam magamnak a következő la palmai obszervatóriumi munkát… Ez van. Nem lehet egyszerre ennyi mindennek élni :(