YouTube versus 360 Video again

So as I mentioned in YouTube versus 360 degree cameras, I had problems getting the full resolution version of a 5K 360 video. Subsequently, I uploaded a 360 4K video on the 2nd, and YouTube told me it had finished processing SD, HD and 4K version in a short time, but it wouldn’t show me the 4K version. Even 6 days later, still no 4K. I just uploaded it again, and it finished processing SD, HD and 4K versions in less than an hour. And I could immediately see the 4K version of that one. Very annoying.

I don’t know if it’s significant or not, but the first time I uploaded was on Firefox and the second was on Chrome.

First cross country ski of the season

I’m trying to remember when was the last time I really skied. I had pretty much quit by the end of university in 1985, because skate technique hurt my knees so much. I know I had one winter where I got out 4 or 5 times sometime between Shani and I breaking up and me moving south, so I guess 1992-3 or sometime around then? Then a few years ago where I tried to ski at Mendon Ponds with my now ancient ski equipment and my boots (bought in 1981 at great sacrifice) both completely separated from their soles within a few hundred meters of the parking lot. a

Last year I found out about Cummings Nature Center, and the fact that they rent there. I tried it out once and immediately fell back in love with skiing. Unfortunately I discovered it pretty late in the season so I didn’t get back out. So I’ve been itching for a chance to go out again this year. First we didn’t have snow, then we got fresh snow and the temps immediately plummeted to around 0F. Not good for starting out. But today the weather finally cooperated. It was 26F and lightly snowing when I set out for the nearly hour long drive down to Cummings.

Driving for an hour meant the return of the painful butt. I’m still in making rounds of doctors to try and get some relief of that, whatever it is, and that means I spent half the drive trying to sit only on one buttock or lift myself out of the seat.

By the time I got there, it was snowing quite a bit harder, although the roads were well plowed. I was hoping they’d still be plowed when I finished. I got there just on the dot of 9am and there was one other car in the lot. They were skiing but not renting (I could tell because they’d skied from the parking lot to the chalet). The rental form asked what level skier you are. They didn’t have a spot for “I used to be quite good, but that was before you were born”, so I ticked “intermediate”. I was sure that when they saw that I’d put my e-mail address at xcski.com they’d accuse me of giving a fake address, but they didn’t say anything.

The equipment was quite good quality and new this year they told me. The new bindings are so much better than they were when I was a skier. And the ski lengths aren’t multiples of 5cm for some odd reason. I got a pair of Madshus Actives at 207cm because I used to race on 215s and I was a lot lighter back then. The wax less system felt like a combination of steps and skins. It worked pretty well at first.

Felt like old times. Set off and hey, my diagonal stride isn’t too bad in the grooves, but the muscles you use to keep your skis in a straight line when you aren’t in the grooves, or to skate around corners, or snowplow turn on a downhill, are all completely atrophied. Oh well, I’ll get this back.

My heart was pounding pretty hard, but the values displayed on my watch were ridiculously low. Stupid heart rate strap had had problems last time I’d erged. I didn’t think it had been long enough to need a new battery, so I hoped it would start reading right after I’d worked up a sweat. I figured it was probably in the high 140s or more because I’d had to stop to catch my breath on a couple of climbs.

I did the yellow trail out to the blue and did the blue loop, and when I got back to the yellow I thought “I don’t need to go back to the lodge yet” and set out around the blue trail again. Even though it was only 1.5 or 2 kilometers, it felt like a victory. And when I got to the junction with the orange trail, I took that one. Half way through the orange trail I got a notice on my watch that the heart rate strap had a low battery. I stopped to take it off, hoping that the watch would revert to the built in optical heart rate. I’m not sure what it did, because it was still giving me numbers around 100 bpm when the pounding in my chest was telling me it was actually over 140. I wonder if the strap was continuing to broadcast crappy data in my backpack.

When I finished the orange and blue, this time I took the yellow trail back to the lodge. I didn’t note the actual distance, but I think it was somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5 kilometers. My goal for the day had been to make it for 5 kilometers total, so I was feeling pretty good. And after having a brief sit down in the chalet to drink some water and eat a banana I’d brought, I was feeling good enough to go out and do the blue trail loop again.

This time, I think the wax they’d put on the skis to improve the glide had worn off, because my skis stopped abruptly instead of gliding a few times, once pitching me onto my face. I had to stop a few times to do the old “scrape the ski over the edge of the other ski” trick to get my glide back. I was also definitely tired now. But my heart rate was now showing up properly on my watch, and I was seeing numbers in the very high 140s and low 150s.

I finished up back at the lodge with a total of 6.6 kilometers. Goal exceeded! But I was really done – I don’t think I could have done even the yellow loop again. So I returned my rentals, suggested they renew the glide wax, and headed off to the car. It was barely 10:30. And it was snowing quite hard.

The first part of the drive was plowed but now bare, but after taking it easy on that I soon got back to bare road and headed home. Once again, the sore butt problem “reared” it’s ugly head but it was an excuse to stop for a Coke at least.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Canadian Ski Marathon

CSM Silver Courier du BoisHere I am skiing near the beginning of doing the Silver Courier du Bois. I look a little tired here, but I’m pretty sure this is the near the first or second feeding station on the first day, so I’m not sure why. Maybe I was just cold? At various points along the way, they made large marks on your bib, such as when you got your pack weighed or when you finished a day. Maybe an efficient system for preventing cheaters, but it sure ruined your bib as a souvenir. But that’s how I know that this was early the first day – no marks.

I already wrote about my memories of the CSM. You can re-read them here.

Road Ski Race

(This is first of a new series: my mom sent me a bunch of my old pictures for Christmas and I’m in the process of scanning them and uploading them.)

Newspaper coverIn 1980, I was doing most of my training on road skis because my knees were already hurting. The Southern Ontario Ski Division had their first ever road ski race, and I figured I had an edge on the guys who were normally better than me on the snow because they probably trained mostly on foot. So I lined up on the front row beside guys I knew were way better than me on skis. Well, it turned out that they were still way better than me on road skis, so I quickly ended up in the back of the pack. But at least I was near enough the front of the pack in the first lap to get my picture on the front cover of the first (and probably last) issue of “Track”, the newsletter of the Southern Ontario Ski Division.

In case you can’t figure out which young fit hirsute guy is hiding inside my current old bald and obese shell, I’m the one wearing bib number 532.

Athletes and drugs

I didn’t write a summary of the last couple of days of the Tour de France as I usually do because I didn’t actually get to watch them on TV until I got back from Oshkosh, and by that time the news was all about Landis’ failed drug test. I want to reserve judgement about Landis until we hear the full results of the investigation. But one thing I read in several discussions of this whole thing is “we should just allow the athletes to use whatever drugs they want”. This is a damn stupid idea for a couple of reasons, and I’d like to expand on this.

The first reason it’s a stupid idea is that athletes will do anything to get an edge on their competition. If everybody else is using drug X, then you have to use X or you’re going to be at a disadvantage, even if you’re a better athlete than them. The drugs would become just another arms-race situation. The various sports governing bodies have done what they can to reduce technological arms races – they want technology to evolve, but they don’t want it to decide competitions. Back in the days when fibreglas skis were new, the FIS had to step in and say that cross country skis had to be a minimum of 44 mm wide at the widest point, because people were trying narrower and narrow skis to get a speed advantage, to the point where a large number of competitors were breaking their skis in a race – if you didn’t break, you’d gain a few seconds over everybody else. The UCI does the same thing in bike racing with their weight limits on bikes. The limit is arbitrary, but you have to draw the line somewhere. If drugs got to be the next arms race, people would be doing major damage to themselves.

And that’s the second reason why it’s a stupid idea: athletes don’t care about the future. If you told an athlete that if they take this drug they’d win the Tour de France but they’d drop dead two weeks later, but their win would still stand, there would be a line-up around the block for the drug. How do I know this? Personal experience.

Most of my competitive life was in pain. I was pretty sure that continuing to compete would make the pain problems worse in the future, but I cheerfully accepted that trade-off. I’m not as cheerful about it now, but I stand by the decision. And I wasn’t competing for prize money, million dollar endorsements and world wide fame. The sports I was competing in were obscure to the point where most of my friends had never even heard of them. And I wasn’t even winning most of them – I never won a Canadian Championship in anything. In cross country skiing, I wasn’t even in the top 4 on our university team. But I loved the competition against myself, and the feeling of doing my best, and the knowledge that I’d tested my limits and come through them. I basically ruined my knees and condemmed myself to lifetime pain for nothing more than a feeling. Can you imagine what an athlete would do to himself if there was more at stake?