Asleep on a Sunbeam

(Aos leitores da língua de Saramago, informo que a este post seguir-se-á em breve sua tradução em português)
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Lying here asleep on a sunbeam
I wonder if you realise you fascinate me so

Think about a new destination

If you think you need inspiration
Roll out the map and mark it with a pin
I will follow every direction
Just lace up your shoes while I'm fetching a sleeping bag, a tent...

Another summer's passing by

All I need is somewhere I can feel the grass beneath my feet
A walk on sand, a fire I can warm my hands
My joy will be complete
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As the Germans celebrate their one-nill score in that Big Soccer Thing, horns abound. But, instead of joining hordes of drunk countrymen in watching the event, I was following live tickers from the much more interesting "Wimbledon Forever" match between Mahut and Isner, which had by then already made history with over nine hours of court time. That was sport.

That same evening, I had gone on a training ride with my French teammate Cédric; along our route through the outskirts of Erlangen, we discussed how the drivers were impatient with our two-abreast riding, and concluded: "everyone is so nervous because they feel they must get home before the match begins". Soccer - or rather the fanaticism associated with it - drags any culture down to the lowest standard possible. And don't get me started on these "nationalist feelings". Phew.

If I am cheering for Germany, is only because the shop from which I bought my new notebook is offering a significant cash-back should the Germans return victorious - and I could really use some extra euros in my budget. In spite of my soccer hatred, I'm able to fake interest pretty well for the sake of social interaction in these World Cup times, but otherwise, I couldn't care less.
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I scored my first victory in European soil this past weekend, stopping the clock at 25m02s in Straubling's open time trial championships. The resulting 47.2km/h average was enough for the first place in the man's Elite class - with second placed Alex Biewald almost a minute behind at 25m58s, but still a bittersweet win as two Masters' riders could better my time - even if only for a handful of seconds: Jürgen Fuchs, a top 5 rider in the state 40+ rankings, managed a 24m55s, while Karl Aichner, who placed 10th and beat me by almost two minutes in the Bavarian Championships, clocked the best time of the day: 24m54s.

The more important race for me was still to come, however: Franconia's time trial championships took place this Tuesday evening. I was looking forward to improving from my 3rd place last year, but it was not to be. The dry, mild early summer weather - compared to last year's rainy 15-ish degrees - had a noticeable influence not only on the times, but also on the turnout, with almost 180 starters for the T-shaped 15.3km course. In addition to my poor handling in the curves - skidding in the first, and overshooting the second 180° turn, I lacked a stronger rhythm in the uphill leg. I did overtake three cyclists which started before me, and still managed to shave 18s over last year's 21m14, but this year a 20m56 was only good for 4th place, missing the podium for 9s. Michael Schultz from Aichach, who I knew from a long breakaway in the Schrobenhausen spring classic, took the honors, with Markus Beck and my teammate Christoph Schwerdt rounding out the top 3.

No less than 76 riders managed a better-than-40km/h average in the quite undulating course, which shows the depth of the fields in a typical local race over here. Through this perspective, my performance over the past few weeks - launching attacks in the final laps, or consistently making the breakaway - is not entirely insignificant, but still, I feel that my results haven't been commensurately matching. There's still a lot of mental work to do before the scoreboards match the legs...
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Spent some time skimming through Lonely Planet's Australia guide in preparation for my upcoming trip down under. Can't make up the best way to explore everything I'd like in just under a week. It's definitively too short for another coast-to-coast cycling challenge; and even if just for one single circuit racing, it's an enormous hassle given the connections and my plans to go backpacking with Benoit. I guess I won't make it with a bicycle there until another later time...

Speaking of intercontinental traveling, the acceptance of my research proposal for a semester in Waterloo, Canada came in earlier this week. But I'm also not planning to fly (any of) the bike(s) over there come August: the sparse racing schedule, and the looming autumn, have discouraged it. Instead, I'll be facing some serious gym time over early winter - in addition to kayaking and hiking trips, weather permitting.

For both these trips, I must still buy myself a new rucksack, maybe some new lenses for my camera, and a few other accessories. So many toys, and just one scholarship...
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Two weeks ago, I believed I had come up with a very convincing argument extending a known impossibility proof to a much wider class of states. All that was missing were minor mathematical formalities; physically it seemed to make complete sense. Today, all calculations suggest I've found an exception and as such, this impossibility proof - in which everyone believed, and was all but settled in several internal group discussions - doesn't hold. A formal review is pending to see if my algorithm indeed works as depicted, but this would be a very interesting turn for the Gaussian quantum error correction tide.

With results or not, however, I still have the feeling that my formalism is shallow; new ideas flow in constantly, but I'm unable to direct them to properly defined mathematical statements - or at least not with the prowess I would like to. A parallel with cycling is not hard to find.
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Living in my own little apartment, I sometimes enjoy my bachelor lifestyle with cycling clothes all over the place, cookware from several days piled in the kitchen, and sports drinks and beers pretty much everywhere. I will also take pride in just how tidily cozy I can make everything when I want to. Predictably, these two states alternate - the cycles have been typically of a few days for each one. I also alternate periods in which I'm very much at home - independently of the apartment being in the organized or disorderly state - and will then extensively read, write, browse or cook - and others in which home is just the place I go for a change of clothes, as I hop from training to the Institute to some bar get-together...
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The life I had long hoped and planned for. Maybe I should even enjoy it some more., but the Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runner is yet another post.

1 comment:

Whiskas said...

> A formal review is pending to see if my algorithm indeed works as depicted

Indeed, it doesn't work. It just so happens that two terms end up cancelling each other.

My former Quantum Mechanics teacher would always say: don't interpret, just calculate it. Maxima culpa mea. Should have done the math before conjecturing stuff...