Tour de France Stage 5

Another flat stage, another bunch sprint. The biggest surprise of the day for me was the news that Thor Hushovd had been “relegated” for improper actions in yesterday’s sprint. I’d watched it on TV and hadn’t seen anything irregular – he shifted sideways to avoid Dean’s crash, and squeezed somebody else against the barricades. Being “relegated” means that he didn’t receive any points at all for the day, which effectively puts him out of the running for the green jersey – the same thing happened to Robbie McEwan last year, although it was a lot more obvious why that one happened than this one, since McEwan was basically leaning on the other guy.

With Hushovd out of the race, his team didn’t really have any motivation to help the peleton catch back the break-away group, but they did step up near the end. I guess they were trying to get organized, but it appears that there is no dominant team the way Alessandro Petacchi’s team used to make the sprints so predictable in previous year’s Giros.

Out of the massive confusion at the finish, McEwan looked like he had a good lead-out but jumped too soon – he actually let up on the gas, and several people went past. Boonen was looking good, but Oscar Friere took a line up one side with no traffic in front of him, and sprinted for first place, with Boonen nearly a bike length behind. McEwen had to settle for 5th, and Hushovd for 7th.

No change in the GC, except Boonen’s time bonuses put him a few more seconds further ahead, and Freire’s put him tied for 3rd with Hincapie.

Boonen moves within one point of McEwan in the green jersey competition, but nothing is sure there. McEwan seems to have the form so far, but today was the first sign that Boonen still has the form he showed in the spring classics and the world championships.

Tomorrow’s stage is also flat and boring, but it’s the day before the first individual time trial, so the big GC teams will have no interest in chasing the break-aways preferring to rest up for Saturday. So we’ll have to see if the sprinters teams are strong enough to do all the work for driving the peleton or if a break-away succeeds.

Computer Stupidities

I was spending some time reading Computer Stupidities, a fun little web site. Unfortunately some of the time you find yourself being more sympathetic to the poor “victim” of the story than the narrator because the narrator was being arrogant and not understanding of natural confusions that people new to computer might have.

One of the stories put me in mind of something that happened to me, and rather than submitting it there, I thought I’d put it here.

I was at Sun’n’Fun 2002, a large Experiment Aircraft Association (EAA) fly-in in Lakeland Florida. A local Florida ISP had put some computers that you could use to connect to the internet, with a time limit and no chairs to keep the line short. Not a bad idea, and best of all it was free. In 2002 I had a laptop, but no wireless card, so a wireless hotspot wouldn’t do me any good – this was my only access option.

Now as an aside, I should mention that I’m a bit of a dinosaur. I’ve been using email since the late 1980s, and as far as I’m concerned there are very few reasons to use HTML in email – I don’t care what font and colour you think your words should be, I’ll judge them on their content thanks, and I certainly don’t want to activate web bugs or see your spam. So accordingly, I use a plain text email client on my home machine, which I access through ssh or telnet. Pure text, fast as hell, and I can use extremely small and dumb clients like a vt100 emulator on a PDA.

So every day that I was at Sun’n’Fun I went into this area, fired up IE which was the only icon available, and typed “telnet://” which brought up the Microsoft Telnet client. I’d log in, read my email in less than the time limit and maybe also fire up my text-only newsreader and read a few newsgroups, log off, and leave.

The second last day of the fly-in, I was finishing up and about to leave when the guy running the booth that day came over and said “I know what you’re doing. And I want you to get out of here.” I asked what he thought I was doing, and he said “You know what you’re doing.” “Yes,” I replied, “I’m using mutt to read my email on my home server.” “You need to leave now.” “Why?” “You know what you’re doing.” “Yes, but evidently you don’t.” That’s when he threatened to call security. Since I figured Rent-a-cops would know even less than him about what you can do on the Internet that doesn’t look like Hotmail, I left. He must have seen a plain text window on the screen and somehow thought I’d gotten into the MS-DOS shell and was trying to do something on his screen, but trying to show him that I was on a different shell on a different system just didn’t register with him.

After I got home, I told my story on a newsgroup I participate in. One of the other participants used to work for that same ISP and asked me if it was “this guy” and sent me a link to a page on that ISP’s site with a bio and picture of their sales manager. I confirmed that it was. He said that while the bio on the ISP’s web site said he had 8 years experience with the Internet, it was more like 2 months experience 48 times over.


Oooh, I’m getting Oshkosh fever. Today I bought the approach plates for Wisconsin and Michigan and marked out the course on the en-route (L) chart, and programmed both legs into my handheld GPS. Last time I went, I used a Howie Keefe atlas rather than an L-chart – I didn’t realize the whole route fits on one chart. While it’s probably true that I could do the whole flight in one leg in the Lance, I’ve decided to play it safe and refuel at MBS (Saginaw) the same as last time – it means arriving at Oshkosh with plenty of fuel in case they’re busy and we have to hold or circle around RIPON, and it also makes it easier to time the arrival for the IFR arrival slot.

I still need to buy an air-mattress and some other camping supplies, but otherwise I think I’m ready. Woo hoo!

This weekend’s plans are complicated too – as I mentioned earlier we’re going to see Great Big Sea on Saturday evening. But unfortunately Laura works on Saturday morning, and she also wants to spend some time at the Corn Hill Festival here in Rochester. So here’s the solution we came up with: Vicki and I are flying to Oshawa on Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, I fly back to Rochester and pick up Laura, and fly her back to Oshawa. We all go to Great Big Sea, and then on Sunday morning, Vicki, Laura and I fly back. That gives Laura a few hours at Corn Hill on Saturday, and a few on Sunday – hopefully that will be enough for her. Hope I don’t end up on some US or Canadian Customs watch list. But for me it’s a way to get a few hours flying the club’s Dakota with its new GPS, have some fun. Filing /G and going direct across the lake, each way will probably only take 30-35 minutes. Unless they make me go around the two MOAs (Misty One and Misty Three) and the Canadian alert area (CYA-530).

Oh yeah, sometime in the next few weeks I’ve got to go out and practice flying the Lance at 1800 feet at 90 knots, in case we have to do the VFR arrival at Oshkosh.

Tour de France Stage 4

Another flat stage, another bunch sprint. Tom Boonen might have enjoyed the day in yellow, but he sure isn’t sprinting like a guy who thought he was going to win the green jersey this year.

Boonen’s team controlled the peleton most of the day and reeled back the break-away with 2km to go. But they didn’t get organized to do a proper lead-out. Two days ago, Thor Hushovd pulled his foot off the pedal in the sprint – today his lead-out man Dean did the same and crashed with 400 metres to go. But by that time, McEwan’s “new” lead-out man Stegmans had delivered McEwan to the front, and Robbie did the rest, winning by a convincing margin.

Hushovd got 4th, Boonen 5th. McEwen is back in green for tomorrow, Boonen retains yellow.

Tomorrow is another relatively flat course with a few 4th category hills. Expect another bunch sprint, and not much change in GC. Boonen better get it together and show some of the talent that he showed this spring or he’s going to go home empty handed.

Yesterday, the TV showed a former sprint champion Stuart O’Grady peddling very slowly off the top of the Cauberg long after the rest had finished. Today they’re saying that he cracked a vertebrae and is still in intense pain – but he rode today and finished in the peleton. The difference between a race horse and a bike racer is a horse race has a vet to say “no, racing this horse would be too cruel” and the horse doesn’t talk back.