It is that time of the year again: I am writing a post in a post-blog world. (This could totally be the start of a pop hit.) Could I be any more Millennial than this? Anyway, here is a month-by-month retrospective of memorable moments from my/our 2023, with a small (but not so small that you should be browsing this on a mobile network without an unlimited data subscription) collection of images in case Instagram dies.
I kicked off January very strong, with a lot of training – mostly indoor cycling on Zwift -, doing sports every day from the 29th of December until the 5th of February. This was my longest active streak ever with 39 days. Although this included a weekly yoga session, but I will be generous and count that as sports too. The fact that on 11 days I was actually biking outside during this period must mean that the weather was not that bad after all. We saw a book with a photograph of mine (legally) on its cover out in the wild. At the end of the month I finally managed to purchase a PS5 for a not ridiculous price, replacing our trusty PS4 after many years of happy usage, and I took Cole for a short sightseeing flight while he was back in town for a few days.
On the 1st of February (while turning 38) we commemorated my ageing by having a dinner in the Michelin-starred EED, which was excellent. At work the first production units of our Telraam S2 devices started rolling in. One weekend we went to the Ardennes for some hiking (where I was also very successfully testing my new Black Diamond Pole BD Distance FLZ hiking poles and the Garmin inReach® Mini 2), and some comfort food at Belgium Peak Beer. Unfortunately just after this I got sick with high fever and no energy which lasted for a good week, maybe at least partly from over-training combined with a completely messed up sleep-schedule… Of course that week the weather was perfect (and I had plans to go biking and flying) so I was not amused at all. A week later I flew to Sint-Truiden for the first time and also crossed a CTR on my own for the first time. In the rest of the month we visited the first flowers of the spring (and some warmth in the greenhouses) in the Botanical Garden, and had nice Italian food at Ristorante Guzzi (more or less ending our Gault Millau pilgrimage across town over the past months).
March could not have started any better than it did. Right on the 1st I made my longest trip (and my last non-local flight) with the Sonaca 200 ever by flying to Koblenz-Winningen in Germany. It was an awesome sunny (but cold) day, and it definitely gave me good vibes for the following weeks. A week later I watched in awe as Liverpool trashed Manchester United by 7 goals, which was definitely the highlight of an otherwise below-par season for the team. I met up with my brother in Brussels, and since we could not go flying as the wind associated with a named storm was causing trouble even for the big jets up there, we just had good food and walked around the city instead, talking about flying and fancy watches. Since I am never in Brussels everything was as new for me as it was for him.
So yes, as my most recent posts have already illustrated, I flew a lot, got my PPL(A) and my EASA Night Rating, and I took some pictures in Norway, but there were some other memorable events in the past year which should not stay undocumented. For people who still care about personal blogs. (I am really getting old…)
This time – instead of my traditional summary (read them here: 2008, 2009, 2010) – I will pick out the 10 most memorable things from all the things I have done last year. A bit of extra information behind every entry will help to make it into a nice story.
- Riding up to the Roque de los Muchachos from both sides on the same day. Call me crazy, but this was the most amazing day of this year. A day of struggling, cycling 147.4 km with an elevation gain of 5069 meters might make other people question your sanity, but the rewarding feeling of great achievement afterwards worth every drop of sweat. All this on the amazing island of La Palma, volcanic rock formations, pine tree forests and vast mountain landscapes, there are not many places like this on the planet. This was part of my epic cycling holidays (17-22 May), with a total of 4 rides, 451.70 km, and an elevation gain of 12,062.0 metres. I also rode around the island on another epic day.
- Riding up to the Mont Ventoux. A few days after crushing into a car and breaking my nice aero wheels :( I was already back on my bike :) riding one of the most iconic climbs of road cycling. It was the main event of the (partly) cycling holidays in France (thanks again for the invitation, Valery), perfect weather, hundreds of cyclists on the roads, awesome pictures, great company. And the final time of 1h 38m 41s is quite good for someone who only started cycling in 2010. Also this contributed to my best mont (July) on the road summing up to 1,256.32 km.
- Track cycling in the velodrome of Gent. Not only one of the best things last year, but one of the best things I have done in Belgium ever. Riding on the track is an amazing experience, the pace is high, the curves are steep, and the atmosphere can not be described with words. It is just a big blur of the track and the other riders around you. We have even made a nice video, and I also experienced how does it feel when someone crashes in front of you while riding with 40-45 km/h. Luckily I did not experience how does it feel to crash with this speed…
- My first first-author paper got published. There is no exception, every PhD student gets happy about this. Seeing your work in print is always a nice thing. I also kept my proposal acceptance rate at 100%, with an accepted Kepler Guest Observer proposal and a successful NOAO proposal to the 6.5 meter MMT in Arizona. So this year I am going to the USA (among others)!
- Visualising and analysing cycling workouts. I have written a nice python script to plot and analyse my rides, providing me with information which is way beyond the capabilities of Garmin Connect. To read more about this, head over the original posts: 1, 2, and 3. I would take the opportunity here to write down the totals from 2011 (and the values compared to 2010): 224h 39m 27s of cycling (+84%), 6,204.16 kilometres (+86%), 50,758.0 metres of elevation gain (+128%), and 176,855 Calories burned (+72%). The goal for 2012 is 7000 km.
- Night sky photography from and with Mercator. This year I had 4 observing runs (3 on La Palma and 1 on Tenerife, with a total of 40 nights at the telescope), and for the last one I left my bike at home and brought my photo gear with me instead. This resulted in quite some spectacular images, especially the post about the Draconid meteor storm got quite some attention over the internet. Then to prove that we can create nice outreach images with our telescope too, I produced colour images of a planetary nebula and Jupiter.
- Great personal best to Mechelen and back. No explanation needed, it was a superb ride, flying with the aero wheels after more than two weeks of high altitude training. Now that I have broken those wheels, I do not really expect to break this record in 2012 (without further expenses). But who knows ;)
- 8 Hours Cycling @ Spa-Francorchamps. A great race with the AstroTeam, the experience of cycling, racing in the rain on the Belgian F1 track is something money can’t buy (for everything else, there’s MasterCard).
- The climb from Masca in the Teno Mountains. This was a climb on my last day during my cycling holidays on Tenerife (24-29 May, 4 rides, 441.98 km, an elevation gain of 10,684.0 metres). Epic scenery, 4.0 km @ 10.8% with a maximum over 100 meters of 16.8%, scorching sunshine, no wind, zipped open jersey, pedalling out of the saddle all way long, bad asphalt, so although it was ‘only’ a 2nd category climb, this was the most memorable slope of this holiday…
- Skiing. For the first time in several years, I went on a skiing holiday (only a long weekend though). I really love skiing, and I am quite good at it, so :)
Making this selection was way more difficult than I expected it to be, so I feel happy about the year. And I did not even mention the great photo-excursions with Elise, the experience I gained in electric assembly, wall painting, and terrace constructions while helping Tijl at his (now almost finished) house, the memories of several exceptional rides alone or with members of the newly formed AstroTeam, my surprise visit to Hungary, finishing the 2010-2011 season with a bronze medal in the Adults’ 1st Division of the Belgian Floorball League (and then quitting floorball…), getting a MacBook Air, etc. So yes, this was a good year. The only thing I still kinda miss is a girlfriend…
2010 was a bit more relaxed than 2009, but it was a very interesting and exciting year. Now for the third time in a row, let me sum up the year in a long post (but not many words on work, do not be afraid), so grab a good Belgian beer, some leftover cookies from Christmas or New Year’s Eve, and enjoy! :)
January started with a really nice New Year’s party at Roy’s place, where we had lots of food and rinks – we also tasted one of the top Hungarian vines, which I brought from home. I managed to arrange my international transfer to a Belgian floorball team, so I started playing for FC Tigers Kraainem. Winter was strong, with freezing cold and snow – not really typical for oceanic climate… I published my video-review on the Knog N.E.R.D cycling computer, which is my most popular YouTube video since then (3400 views this year), though I do not really use it nowadays. I went climbing every Friday, and we usually ended up with a waffle afterwards :) I took pictures of my colleagues playing badminton, but I did not join them yet. I got into contact with the Bikemag cycling magazine (of Hungary), and asked them if it was possible to get accreditation for the Tour de France… I saw Mr. Nobody in the cinema, one of the best movies I have ever seen (and the best Belgian one) so far. Continue reading
2009 was not as special and exciting as 2008, but it was close, so I really do not have any reason to complain. Now specially for my non Hungarian readers, I will present a review of my last year in English. It will probably not be short, so grab a good beer (e.g. a Rochefort 8) and some cheese, and enjoy ;)
January: I spent the New Year’s Eve alone at home, thinking about life, but it was really bad, I hope it would not happen ever again… Then – as usually in every January since 2004 – I had to study a lot for my exams. Endless, monotone days of working on the given topics and learning them later on. But I managed to stay much calmer and stress less then before, which was a success already. Not for me only, but it made things much easier for my parents too. In the meantime, we had a small one-day floorball tournament, which shoved again that we were much better than any other team in the Hungarian 2nd League. I wrote about the first official smog warning, the International Year of Astronomy and the weather of Budapest (based on public data covering 1971-2000). Somehow during exam periods, I tend to find much more interesting stuff on the Internet… I got the highest possible mark for my “big exam” (an exam covering several semesters, 4 in this case) in Astrophysics, which made me completely satisfied and happy, as this was the most important exam during my university studies. Right after my last exam I sold my wide-angle Sigma lens and bought a Canon compact from the money I got for it – at that time I was a bit fed up with serious photography… I felt love again for a short time… Continue reading