We’re almost guaranteed to see wildlife, and fully guaranteed to have fun. It will be a family-friendly leisurely ride, as I may have both of my kids in tow.
There will be a tent set up on the west side of the Fridley Northstar station care of our friends at the City of Fridley and Anoka County Commute Solutions. It will be there from 4-6PM on June 5th if you want to stop by for some bicycling and transit information.
If it’s more convenient for you to arrive on the east side by University Ave. & 61st Ave., don’t fret! There’s a convenient underground pedestrian tunnel that goes under the railroad tracks between the east and west parking lots.
After an incredibly strange snafu of events, the 2nd annual Fridley bike tour was rescheduled once to June 24th due to a mis-communication between myself and a city official – we never spoke of the month, only the 24th. It was supposed to be on July 24th, but I did meet another Fridley resident interested in biking and walking issues in Fridley on June 24th, so it was still a win.
Our route took us north of the Northstar station on the Mississippi River Trail and then east on the Rice Creek Trail. We were treated to a deer sighting and the young fellow even walked the trail with us for a while.
After emerging from Rice Creek West near Stinson Blvd., we went south to grab a bite to eat at Viet Noodles in New Brighton. It’s one of New Brighton’s gems, if I don’t say so myself!
While July is a great month for long bike rides in Minnesota, I find myself dedicated to much more “couch time” than usual. My July obsession: Le Tour, the Tour de France, the big old race around France (or whatever you’d like to call it). While I consider myself the very opposite of the lycra clad, weight obsessed (both in body and machine), Skittle-colored hard-core roadie – I find the tour fascinating. The team dynamic, the strategies, and the torturous rides, climbs and descents. And then there’s the gloomy overshadow of drug use, hushed amongst the announcers, hoping they won’t alienate their audience. Drama, speed, egos, color. So how do follow it?
My first rule goes against the grain of a true fan: I never watch the tour in real-time, except maybe for the last stage, which is really more of a victory ride than anything. I follow this rule for several reasons. I don’t need to be on the couch any more than I am. I’m also not going to pay for my cable provider’s sports package to get poor live coverage of an event that happens once a year. The US broadcasters will needlessly focus on any Americans in the race who (spoiler alert) aren’t going to win. Plus, cycling is an obscure sport, so there’s little risk of actual race spoilers – you can temporarily unfollow your bike race friends on twitter for complete isolation.
Instead I recommend downloading the one hour race highlights the day after. The best coverage I’ve found is the British ITV highlights show. They boil a full day of racing down to one hour of coverage (45 minutes without commercials) which only includes the most exciting parts. Plus they have great segments with great music. Yes, they have a little bit of a British slant, but it’s been well served the last few years with Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome on the podium. Moreover, I think they simply understand cycling more.
TdF coverage comparison
On most English speaking broadcasts, you get Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. Some people take pleasure from (or get annoyed by) these guys for being cliché and/or tripping over their words, but they’re the ones blabbing all day, trying to keep the dull parts exciting. I give them a pass due to their experience, but then again I also liked John Madden as a football commentator.
It’s the visual “enhancements” the US broadcasters add that irk me. When Versus picked up coverage a few years ago, it was especially bad. They had this hideous ticker constantly scrolling at the bottom. What is this, NASCAR or Fox News?
ITV uses the host broadcast (French) feed and doesn’t muddle it up any further. It’s clear what’s going on. They have little icons for the jerseys so you know what group they’re in if there’s been a breakaway. And they’ll tell you how much time is between the group(s).
The French know how to cover the race. They’ve been doing it for over 100 years. From the upper left of this screen I know that the leader is 31km from the finish of the stage. The wearer of the yellow jersey is in the main group of riders, called the peloton, which is 2nd to the breakaway group (or rider) in front. The peloton is 1 minute 10 seconds back from the group out front.
From the lower left I know that on screen is the peloton (again the 2nd group). If we were watching the front group it would say “1 – Tete de la course” (head of the course). I promise you won’t need your French/English dictionary. Very little gets lost in translation.
Overall race leader. The winner of the first stage will be the first to wear the yellow jersey or maillot jaune. But every stage time gets added together as the race continues. The big factor here is the gap. If riders cross the finish line as a group (with wheels overlapping), they all get the same time. So even if the main group is stretched out a quarter mile long, they all get the same time as the first front wheel to cross the finish line. Once there is a gap in riders, time gets added.
The sprinters jersey, also referred to as the points jersey. This jersey is worn by the rider accumulating the most points awarded by winning intermediate sprints (checkpoints that occur mid-stage, usually in a flat section) and at the finish line if it’s in a flat section. I’m not exactly sure why they call it the points classification as the polka dot jersey also uses points.
Polka Dot Jersey
The polka dot jersey is also know as the King Of The Mountains (KOM) jersey. Like the green jersey, points are awarded to riders arriving first at the summit of a mid-stage climb, or a finish line that ends at a mountain peak. The polka-dot color, introduced in 1975 came from chocolate maker and then sponsor Chocolat Poulain (their chocolate bars were adorned in a polka-dot wrapper).
The white jersey is for the best young rider. It’s really like the yellow jersey for riders age 25 and under – based on their total time.
The rainbow jersey (really a white jersey with rainbow stripes around the middle), is worn by the World Champion in road racing. While not directly part of the Tour de France points or time competition, the reigning World Champion is required to wear it at all races, or else pay a penalty enforced by the International Cycling Union (UCI). Since there are several categories within the road race categories (Road Race, Time Trial, Team Time Trial) the wearer of the rainbow jersey on a normal stage may be different than on a time trial stage.
What if a rider is winning in two categories?
The above jerseys are listed in order of their prestigious-ness. If a single rider actually lays claim to more than one jersey, he will wear the more prestigious one during the race, and the “abandoned” jersey will go to the 2nd place rider in that category.
Where do I start?
You can download shows via BitTorrent, there are several good clients out there like Transmission or μTorrent. Devices like WDTV Live or Roku work great for playing the downloads on your TV. The supreme omnipotent index for all shows cycling lives at Cycling Torrents. If it all seems to complicated, just come on over with a couple of beers (one for me please) and we can enjoy the abridged glory of Le Tour in style, plus we’ll still have time for a ride.
Before number portability came along, the turnover rate between providers was a hefty 25%. People would change their providers (and consequently their phone number) whenever a bigger better deal came along. Or they simply wanted to try out another provider because their current one is run, owned, and staffed by jerks, only to find out their new provider is run, owned, and staffed by jerks.
The phone numbers were ditched and quickly recycled for new customers. This was a major factor in the number of wrong number calls, voicemails, and text messages in the 2000s.
The normal experience of activating a new mobile phone and number would be:
Turn the phone on
Dial a bunch of crazy codes (or have the sales guy do it)
Within 24-48 hours get your first incoming call from a total stranger
This used to be the norm with land lines as well, but it was because the phone company was knowingly selling your new phone number to marketing partners. In the early days of mobile phones, marketers were hesitant to call mobile numbers because they would potentially be liable for using up valuable minutes in your calling plan. I wish this were still an issue.
I’ve received some weird voice mails over the years. Some I’ve tried to save, but if you don’t listen to them after a while some providers would forcibly delete the messages. Did I mention the cell phone companies are jerks? Then texting came along, which made it much easier to archive such wrong number gems like this transcript from 1/29/07:
7:36PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Can u tell EJ TO GIVE ME SOMETHING THAT BELONGS TO ME
Msg: Who is this?
7:38PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Her ex
Msg: I think you have the wrong number.
7:40PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Itr armando
8:22PM From: +17025331017 Msg: Tell her to give Armandos shit back
8:38pm Call: Name unknown 17025331017
Feel free to contact that number. It’s probably not Armando anymore. They may be delighted to get a cryptic message from you though. Experience has taught me that anything revolving a break-up makes for the most memorable wrong number voice mails and texts.
After number portability, people would keep their numbers. Unless you were trying to get someone to stop calling you – like a creditor. I got a new number when I moved to a new area code (so I could blend in). My recycled number was previously owned by a guy named Mike. At first I got a lot of calls for Mike. They all seemed kind of nervous. Maybe Mike was a drug dealer.
Then I started getting calls from creditors looking for Mike. One guy was a bit more inquisitive – he had the intuition of a repo man. I told him straight up that I’m not Mike, Mike doesn’t live with me, and that I don’t know Mike. He asked me those questions twice to listen for any wavering in my voice. I didn’t get many calls for Mike after that
Sometimes people just make honest mistakes. I sincerely hope that this woman got a hold of whoever she set out to contact. It sounds like there may be an issue with the toilet:
So when we couldn’t attend concerts that we wanted to hear, we could listen to them on the radio. And if we couldn’t listen in, there is the radio stream, which I could capture.
Radio stations have for the most part made streaming easy. Some have made attempts to secure their streams from easily being captured by using proprietary protocols like RTMP. But it remains that a stream is still a stream, and it can always be saved. It may just take a greater or lesser degree of difficulty.
Luckily, many stations opt for the tried-and-true streaming MP3 delivery method that every device can support without special hardware or software. My local classical affiliate is no exception. I found the address to the stream in apmplayer-all.min.js file (I used Chrome to un-minify it).
Then I put together a script that would save the stream…
First, I created a script, and saved it to /home/justin/bin/record_orchestra.sh on my system:
The script needs to be added to the crontab of my unix system to kick it off at 8PM on every Friday.
$ crontab -e
# m h dom mon dow command
0 20 * * fri /home/justin/bin/record_orchestra.sh
A little explanation of what’s going on in the script:
I’m using the date command to help me name the files. mnorch_20140214.mp3 for example is Valentines Day – Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Holst’s Planets
I’m using VLC to capture the stream. cvlc is just a wrapper that’s included with VLC. It runs in a “headless” mode where nothing displays – perfect for a cron job. I’m telling it to do a raw dump of the incoming stream so the file doesn’t get transcoded, just saved exactly as it was streamed from the station. The ampersand (&) at the end of the cvlc command makes it run in the background.
Using the $! shell variable, the script saves the process ID of VLC. Then using the at daemon, we tell it to stop VLC “at 10:30PM,” when the show is likely over.