26 Aug 2012

25th August 2012 Tour of Denmark race

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25th Spent the day not avoiding showers watching Post Danmark Rundt. The Tour of Denmark in English. From three different locations, no less. Caught the breakaway on video and then the Peloton. Saw Mark Cavendish in a string of Sky riders. Drove to Odense to see the finish and presentations but a large area was cordoned off by the police. It took us ages to escape again without ever getting anywhere near the finishing line.

An image, taken by my wife, of the three breakaway riders taking the intermediate sprint points at Brobyv√¶rk. My wife was struggling with dreadful conditions and a camera with which she is very unfamiliar. It doesn't help that Canon cameras take forty days and forty nights to make an exposure after the button is pressed! My last Canon Ixus camera was just as bad in this respect. Hopeless for action shots.  

This image brings it home how hard a pro cyclist's working life really is. The riders have to go out regardless of weather conditions. Or how they are feeling on the day. Glamorous is certainly not the word for a life of pain, a high risk of injury and regular suffering. Not to mention the continuous, international travel from one race to another. From one stage to another. Is there any other sport which demands so much of the competitors? Or so often? Only an elite few can claim wages remotely similar to that of the mostly second rate, playboy footballers.    

I managed 50-odd videos with my Panasonic Lumix TZ7 still camera. Many of which were spoilt by a low sun while it was still raining hard. Which left a large blob of water on the camera lens. (unknown to me) There were also a few claps of thunder at the beginning of the time trial. Fortunately it dried up soon afterwards. Though the roads were still very wet and cornering hazardous.

We were forced to move half way through the evening Time Trial. Just to avoid the low sun shining on the wet road. Then it became darker and darker as the last last riders took their turn. IT was overcast when we arrived with heavy clouds spewing dark rain shadows from their undersides on the lighter horizon.

Not sure if I caught Cav on video in the TT. We were expecting his white World Champion jersey from his morning appearance. Somebody passed in a Sky skinsuit at about the right time. With his head down. The trouble was we didn't have the start times for the riders. We were spotting each rider's team jersey colours in the distance using binoculars. Then I would video them riding past. Until it became too dark and the camera battery had almost gone flat. The blinding headlights of the lead police bikes, following cars and marshals did not help at all!



Now I have the perennial problem of clipping and splicing the hopelessly unsupported format of AVCHD Lite! Panasonic provided clunky software to help download and clip the videos. But absolutely nothing to stick the pruned videos together. I also have a dark fuzzy blob in the sky on every shot and video. I can brush out the blob on still images but not on videos. Converting the format so something which can be worked on properly usually destroys the quality. The nerds who put video standards together should be hung in a line. As warning to the rest of the word to only buy equipment which is properly supported by free video handling software.

Panasonic sold a lot of the TZ series cameras and have done bugger-all to help those who want to simply splice their videos together. They sold cameras with fragile LCD screens without a qualm. Knowing full well that retailers would try to wriggle out of any manufacturer's guarantees. Usually by suggesting the screens were damaged by dropping the camera.   

We hoped to go into Kerteminde to see the presentations afterwards but a large area of town was cordoned off. We ended up wasting half an hour just trying to get out of Kerteminde again.This really ought to be looked into. Spectators on the route cannot easily move while the road is closed. Not being able to reach the presentations, by car and to be able to park for a relatively short time simply adds insult to injury.The countless police on duty were making no attempt to help reduce the traffic congestion caused by their road closure barriers. Not every spectator is fully familiar with every start or finish town on a race stage.

One thing I noticed from the side of the road was the extreme difficulty of recognising riders. A number on the back of the jersey is completely hopeless when seen from the front or the side. Even the team strips are foolishly over-fussy. Being almost impossible to recognise from any distance. Not even in Zeiss 10x 50 binos on a clear, straight road!

If riders are going to get any recognition for their outstanding performances it must surely require far more than a few seconds on the rostrum to entertain those who hang about at the finish.

Gear change levers have now moved permanently away from the downtube. So it would be easy to fill the area behind the head tube with a large, really legible, opaque number plate in some lightweight material. Something easily visible from either side of the bike when seen from a wide angle. Always in black numerals on white. Nothing else offers sufficient clarity and contrast in all lighting conditions.

26th 62-69F, 17-20C, windy becoming very wet at times. It was fun being the shuttle as swallows whipped back and forth between an avenue of trees. It stayed dry until I arrived at the first shops. I came out to find it raining but not badly. On with the saddle cover. Then on with the Aldi jacket to make some room in the Carradice micro-Camper saddle bag.  The Ventus GPS was misbehaving. i-gotU showed nothing recorded! Both are charged to the hilt and cleared after every ride.

Not sure whether my legs were any different from all the rest days this week. I keep expecting to feel stronger after a rest day but haven't noticed any change. Only 16 miles so far. I was going to go out again and then a downpour ensued.

It cleared up late afternoon so I had another ride to take in more shops. 20 more miles. It was even windier but stayed dry. Ventus logger fine. i-gotU managed only 2 miles before switching off in open country.



27th 56-70F, 13-21C, very windy, sunny periods. Only 12 miles to the shops. Both loggers failed to record. I'm going to try a wrist strap to keep the i-gotU pointing at the sky. It didn't work. 27 more miles trying to find a special offer which had already sold out on Monday. 3 branches. No stock. Bright sunshine. Slightly lighter winds. The harvest is almost over. It already feels like autumn. The Ventus logger worked as expected! I-gotU died after only two miles.

28th 66F, 19C, raining. It never did brighten up as promised. Only 6 miles.

29th 56F, 13C, thick mist until after 9am. I left late and rode to Assens. Going via the vicious golden retriever which runs loose and unsupervised at Ebberup Maskin Station.

There was no sign of the dog so I sped up to 20mph to ensure a safe run. Suddenly it came out of the side of the house. Barking like a lunatic and chasing me down the road. Lunging at me at intervals.

I sprinted up to 25mph into the headwind hoping to leave it well behind. It went quiet so I relaxed but then it came after me again. Still barking ferociously. We were both at least 200 metres past the house by the time it finally gave up. No sign of the retarded owner this time. It usually takes the dolt several minutes to drag his lazy arse out of his house. If it weren't so dangerous I would film the dog and put it and its dumb owner on YouTube. This has been going on for years! Still the dog is allowed to run free.

No fresh bread again. Nearly run down by a pick-up driver on the way back. He was too damned lazy to indicate his exit from a roundabout. He glared at me when I pointed to his indicator. It was lucky I hadn't attempted to cross in front of him. I expect he was too damned lazy to use his brakes as well. He must have been in a hurry to get to a take-away. He was just beginning to get that wrinkly look. Like a slightly deflated balloon. It's nice and sunny now. Believe it, or not, the Ventus GPS logger actually worked perfectly today!

I left the i-gotU behind. It is no longer worth bothering with. It's battery is permanently sealed inside and the battery is now dead! This logger cost about £50 quid less than three years ago. Still costs about the same. They removed my question about expected battery life from their support forum. Presumably worried about how it might affect their sales. It is called an i-gotU GT120 GPS logger if you want to avoid it. Still a great little device. Until the battery dies. 22 miles.The Ventus still costs ~£25 in Netto. Quicker to get a fix but never rests when you do. So it scribbles all over the map sometimes and then adds in the extra mileage. That is one thing the i-gotU never did. So I relied on it to be more accurate than the Ventus. 19 miles later on.

30th 62F, 17C, overcast, rain forecast all morning. It hasn't rained yet (11am) despite the sky turning navy blue. 11 miles.

WARNING: Rant/

After nine weeks I have finally stopped showing the Google Adsense adverts on my blog.

My viewing figures were dropping steadily. After more than two months, two thousand miles, 75 clicks, 13,200 page views and publishing loads of photographs I had "earned" only 158Kroner. Nearly £16 or $25. About 25p or 40c per day!

As an Adsense user I was never given even a hint about the type of adverts being shown to my visitors. I only rarely saw any cycling relevant ads myself. Most were unbelievable, repetitive crap. Which I only tolerated because Google said it increased potential earnings. I have to keep myself in inner-tubes somehow! ;-)

The system works by Google auctioning off advertising space. So if a firm will only offer a pittance to have their ads shown, in a particular space, then the blog 'writer' only gets a fraction of even that miserly pittance. As is evident in my case despite my allowing three generous blocks of ads on each blog page.

I have given the Google Adsense system far longer than I should have done. It has had more than a fair chance to show what it can do. It has proven itself to be a pathetic joke in the context of my tri-cycling and Danish cycle travel blog. Perhaps Google's bottom trawlers couldn't identify the cycling-related from the pretty pictures of thatched cottages?

Perhaps I should have sought sponsorship from the Danish tourist industry or government department instead? If I only get 25p a day from Google I ought to be able to auction myself out to a much higher bidder:

Roll up! Roll up! Get your cheap, tricyclist and good all-round, chocolate-box cottage, photographer bod here! I do extras! :-)

Perhaps I should start searching rural litter bins for recyclable bottles? I can outdo Google's Adsense megabillions best efforts by returning only two empty bottles per day! Am I feeling lucky? Well are you? :-)
/rant 

31st  56-65F, 3-18C, breezy, rather cloudy. Having read the forecast I wore my darkest sunglasses. Not a good idea under an overcast. Just another tour de shopping. I finally found a matching replacement for the dodgy bike computer. It kept changing to a scrambled screen despite being constantly fed with new batteries. The old one cost a fiver and had 9 functions. The new one cost a tenner and has 25! But still no cadence. Most of the 25 are repeats of exactly the same thing but reworded! 21 miles.



Click on any image for an enlargement.
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