What am I gonna miss ?

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This week I am starting to prepare moving out of my flat. I will put it on the market in a few days. Hopefully I’ll find a buyer before I leave for the USA, otherwise my ex-wife will continue the process. In any case I have to weed out most of the stuff, as I dont want to rent a big self storage room. Ideally, I’ll put a few boxes here and there in friends’ basement πŸ˜‰ The rest, I will give or sell.

Most of the furniture I’ll offer along with the flat. And so the first thing I’m going to miss is certainly the couch pictured here πŸ™‚ It’s a great, comfortable couch, very large, especially for only one person ! I followed a strict diet a few years ago, focused on proteins, and strangely I dearly missed crunchy stuff. I was only eating meat and soft food, no biscuit of any kind. After a few weeks I was feeling like a crack addict in prison. I can sense, writing in said couch, that during the outdoor camping nights I will miss not having a firm and comfortable seat.

Second thing I’ll certainly miss is the very large shower. You can get lost in it πŸ™‚ Staying a long time in a hot shower rain is a luxury that I enjoy as much as possible. I often feel like the whole civilization process has lead us to this point, and we must benefit from it as long as it exists. I’ll miss it as I probably wont have a shower everyday πŸ™‚ That will be a big part of the adventure. In the same area, toilets will also be missed πŸ˜‰

Having a double bed, being indoors, sheltered, in a quiet place (at least as long as the upstairs neighbours are not waking up…), I’ll probably miss, but I’m pretty sure I will be so tired every evening that I will be sound asleep quickly whatever the situation πŸ™‚

I’m sure I won’t miss the television much, on the other hand. I had a few periods where I didn’t have one, and you can get used to that in a couple of weeks. Internet, not so much… πŸ˜‰ I’ll get my hands on a e-reader soon to see if it replaces books well enough.

One thing I will NOT miss is the one hour of ironing every week end πŸ™‚ Which turns into two hours as I forget to do it regularly. Frumpy lifestyle, here I come !

 

This was the material list of what I will miss and not miss. Of course, I’ll miss not getting to see friends now and then. If I keep the planning of about 5 months of riding, this’ll be the longest stretch of time being away yet. I spent a year on an exchange program in Leeds, UK, and as I didn’t know anyone, the first three months have been quite difficult. But here I’ll be in holidays, moving from place to place, meeting new people if only to ask for directions or a place to sleep. And as much as I like the UK, the weather shouldn’t be the same πŸ˜‰

 

The biggest change though will probably NOT being on a regular schedule anymore, not having to wake up, go to work and come back, having free time to watch a movie or a series, etc. I’ll be completely free to press forward or stay in the same place, and decide where to go next. I’ve read on other blogs that the total liberty and flexibility provided by a bike ride is exhilarating. I have never experienced that before, and I’m looking forward to it πŸ™‚

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Gift from my team

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It’s been a crazy week. On monday we signed the divorce papers at the notary office with my ex-wife. On tuesday I got to the US embassy to request a visa (I forgot to setup the alarm and woke up only 40 mns before the entry time, but still managed to reach the other side of Paris in time !). On wednesday I signed the departure deal from my work, and sent a goodbye mail to about a hundred people in the company. On thursday we signed the divorce papers at the lawyer’s office. And on friday I had a farewell at the local pub with my former team. Today I also went to the bank to announce all the changes and plan ahead. I plan to rest tomorrow πŸ™‚ (actually no, I’ll start posting the ad for selling the flat)

Parting with a job you’ve had for ten years is quite something, and when I sent the goodbye mail I felt the pressure mounting : that was it, I was gone. The kind answers I received, mostly from old-times colleagues, were heartwarming, and it softened the moment. I’ll probably come back to that along the journey.

So, on friday evening I had a gift card for a sportsware shop from my former team, that was a great gift ! I had already started buying some stuff on my packing list, and I’ve been browsing most if not all bike shops from eastern Paris for a couple of weeks now. So I knew very well what I would buy.

So people, your gift card transformed into a lot of useful stuff : 4 tshirts, a rain pants, a bike cleaning kit, a bike repair kit, pant clips, and mostly a bike computer that will certainly help me ride faster πŸ™‚ That covers almost all of the “asap” buys that I wanted to do. The rest of the packing list will be bought with two other deadlines : the “go” code, in about a month, when I’ll be sure that I can physically do the ride (I’ll mostly buy a new bike then), and the “camping” code, when I’l start testing camping outside (and of course I’ll be buying all the stuff linked to that + panniers or trailer, still undecided there).

The thanks here go to Julien 1, Julien 2, Marie-Cerise, Boris, Adrien, SalomΓ©, Manou and Fabien ! πŸ™‚

Rampup and stretching

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I started training last week. The objective is simple : to raise myself to about 80-100kms a day, with a day off here and there (at least once a week).

I’ve been riding a bike to work for years, but that’s only about 6 kms a day (going down the slope in the morning, and going up in the evening). I also do the odd ride all around Paris, which is 35-40 kms in two hours on sunday. I did that just yesterday and filmed it, but I’m still struggling to edit it down to a few minutes.

So, I’ve been searching for a program to do this training on the web, but I only found methods to reach a century, which is 100 miles, or 160 kms, in a day. This is a ramp-up which is very irregular day to day, but goes up slowly over two months. That’s not what I’m looking for. I don’t want to break any record but be able to ride regularly a long distance.

I decided to draft my own ramp-up, that you can see on the first image. It’s very simple : each week, I will raise the daily average by 10 kms, starting from the distance I’m used to do to go to work, up to 90-100 a day. So that’s about 10 weeks to do that, two and a half months, reaching a plateau on the last few weeks.

The overall idea is to be able to cross 500 kms, or 300 miles, in one week. That would be 80 kms a day over 6 days, or 100 over 5 days. That’s the average I’ve used when calculating the time I’ll need on the overall journey.

Doing such a curve on paper is easy, now I have to see if I can do it πŸ™‚

The next step was to find destinations to cover these distances. I’ve used google maps for that, moving a destination around to some interesting spot in or around Paris, until I had 3-4 objectives for each set of distance. I also tried to do some circles which covered the distance, in order to avoid “go there and come back on the same road” kind of stuff. Its not really easy with a large city so close, because either I have to go away from it, and destination points tend to be very far very quickly, or I have to go around or through Paris, with all the traffic.

Beyond going the distance, I also need to test camping around, making overnights, as well as small journeys. So I prepared some destinations that were 80-100 kms away, will stay there and come back. I drafted 3 and 4 days journeys, which should be the longest I’ll do before stopping at a motel or equivalent in the US. I’ll do these camping tests in april, with the longer ones at the end of the month, just before leaving.

Finally I’ve put all that on a planning for february, march and april, hoping to leave for the US early may. Here you can see february, with the week of the 17th where I started training and wrote down the actual distances I’ve covered. I did an average of 20 kms a day this week. I only got tired by the 40 kms ride around Paris on sunday. That was probably too much of a step at once.

Biking regularly for long distances will need regular stretching before and after. I’ve found these programs which seem fine :

Before the ride :Β http://mikesbikes.com/articles/stretching-before-you-ride-pg241.htm

And after :Β http://mikesbikes.com/articles/stretching-after-you-ride-pg240.htm

They are rather long, 15 minutes for the second part, but I guess it’s not much when compared to a 5 or 6 hours ride in a day ! I need to test these more and see if they bring a benefit.

How many cookies does the cook cook ?

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Well, tomorrow’s my 41st birthday and I’m preparing to welcome guests with many cookies πŸ™‚

I’ve tested and perfected a cookie recipe that I like a lot – it contains lot of chocolate, almost half of the cookie dough actually ! Here I’m preparing almost 50 cookies for tomorrow.

The anniversary will be a chance for the guests to win presents ! As I’m moving out, and most of my stuff will be stored away for months, I figured it would be better to give most of it. So, based on their success in a musical quizz, they’ll have a chance to go back home with a Wii and 30 games, boardgames, a few DVDs, video game collectables, a hair dryer, cooking books, etc πŸ™‚

This small post is also a test to publish using the equipment I’ll have on the road ! And that is, an updated iphone with a folding keyboard πŸ™‚

My old 3GS iphone is not able to withstand a day without getting charged, so I had to get another one. I figured it would replace a small laptop, as well as a camera, a gps, etc.

However, typing long texts on a small screen can be difficult, so I’m trying a folding bluetooth keyboard from iwerks. Of course, it’s a qwerty keyboard, but I’m used to switching back and forth and that shouldn’t be an issue. Much better anyway than getting mad at all the mistyping, I was having nighmares when I started with the iphone 5 years ago !

Another thing I’m testing right now is the wordpress app – will it live up to the web application quality ? I’ll see that in a minute πŸ™‚

 

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Surprise birthday !

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On this table I have placed one hundred very varied items. The friends coming this afternoon will have a chance to win them all ! πŸ™‚

I wanted to have a special party, as I will be leaving my flat in a few weeks now. I’ll be selling all of my furniture, giving away most clothes and dinnerware. So I thought it would be better to give what was valuable rather than sell it.

So I gathered all of these items here and, through a musical quizz, each person, for each song, can take anything he or she wants.

There are a few stupid things for fun, like paper towels or a tin can of food, but also pretty interesting stuff like a Wii console with many games, comics, alcohols, books, an air france business class toiletry kit (yes I once flew first class !), card decks, and even cat food !

As I gathered all of this stuff yesterday evening I was wondering how, in just few years, you can amass so many things. It really is a materialistic society. I’m sure this will be a subject I’ll come back to when on the road.

Aftermath !

Well the party was great and the quizz was great fun πŸ™‚ lots of laughs and many people were actually experts at finding pretty tough songs !

There was a rampage on the prizes and this is what’s left afterwards πŸ˜‰

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Paris tour

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I finally managed to edit, compress, annotate, convert and publish the tour of Paris I did last week. Took me some time, as I’m very inexperienced with videos πŸ™‚ The original file was 14go for 2 hours, and the reduced one under 30 minutes but still more than 7go. Youtube was ok to upload it, but it was taking more than 15 hours, and any glitch in the connection meant starting over again.

Now, a final version is 1.5go, and 3-4 hours to upload, much more manageable.

The result is close to what I had in mind : accelerated tour (x4), with normal / slow speed when showing interesting points, with notes and maps along the way. There are many things to improve and I’ll do just that with a next version πŸ™‚

Notes from the video :

This is a bike tour of Paris, along the “MarΓ©chaux”, the large streets circling the city. You will see many difference facets of the city along this trip – the real city, not the one visited by tourists. You will see very different levels of wealths, different activities, many ongoing constructions, and not that much traffic, as I was riding on sunday.

Paris tour – 2nd test

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I did a second test video yesterday. This time I chose to go along the very touristic routes of Paris, that is, going through the city center. So I’ve been along Nation then Bastille, then passing by the town hall, the Louvre, and reaching Concorde, before my battery went out !

I thought it was filled up completely, but probably (hopefully) not. The battery is supposed to hold for 140 minutes, or 2 hours 20 minutes. I checked with gopro video cameras, and their battery, depending on the model, is 1,5 to 2,5 hours. Comparable, and not very long in any case. I guess these kind of cameras are not meant to record long journeys. So I’ll have to turn it on only if there is something to share.

Another point with this test was the video stability at high speed. I’ve been trying to hold my head very still while riding, which is not good for safety with traffic. Well in any case the result is a little bit better than the first test, but only barely. I also tried completely stopping to record interesting points, and that worked. Editing got a lot faster, and I uploaded the video the same day. But the learning here is that recording while riding a bike isn’t good, unless in cases where you go down a hill and CAN stand perfectly still (as with the tramway races in the first video).

So, thinking about my project to record my going through the US and editing that down to one hour, or one hour and a half. I’ll have to select only a few points, a few rides down, without acceleration or only short ones. I’ve done x4 accelerations, so, even with half of the hour being accelerated, that’s a end total of 2 hours accelerated and a half normal.

The positive point here is that my sd card can hold all of that easily πŸ™‚ I was trying to find a way to upload gigas of video along the way, but if I restrict the recording, I can hold 4-5 hours on one card, and if I buy a couple more it should be enough for the whole ride. Still, I’ll try to upload through the iphone in order to have more leeway. So that means linking a micro sd card to an iphone, and getting that iphone to send that to the cloud. Pretty much advanced scifi stuff if I’m able to do that in the desert !