Monday, August 30, 2021

Summer Cycling Trip 2021

Trip wheel from Veloviewer

As every year at Devex the company takes a week long Summer break in August. August isn't really the best month to take holiday in Spain, because on the one hand everybody does and on the other hand tends to be really hot. That's why I tend to do a trip on my own, without my girlfriend. In the recent years this have been cycling holidays.

I had the idea for this years trip for a while: rent a camper-van and travel to the nice hills that are not so easy to reach from Barcelona. 

I rented a van from Indiecampers, which have reasonable prices unless you book in the last minute like I did. The car was a pretty posh Mercedes Marco Polo. It drives pretty much like an oversized car and comes with automatic gears (why would you have anything else in 2021?). 

There is no bike rack, but my bike fitted inside. This is a bit of a hassle, because it tends to be in the way when cooking or eating. I also had to sleep in the raised roof, because my bike had the nice downstairs spot. 

I didn't really plan a fixed route or places to stay. I had Montsec, Val d'Aran and Seu d'Urgell on my wish-list.  

Most rides were pretty short. Cooking, planning, camping, looking for place to camp, shopping, sleeping, ... leave less time for riding. A fully organised trip is more effective. Even staying at one or two hotels/AirBnbs and then doing loops like I did last year gives more riding time.

Day 1. Montsec  

I took off from Barcelona toward Montsec. I used Park4Night to find a nice parking lot near a lake not far from the area I wanted to ride in. It was pretty quiet at night, but I didn't sleep well ... as all night on the trip. 

The route I picked was not ideal and in the end I decided to just ride back instead of doing the whole thing. It was very hot and a lot of the route was on fast roads. The first part was nice though. 
Turns out planning rides on the go without a laptop is pretty tricky. I used a mix of Garmin Connect, Strava Mobile and Wikiloc for the rest of the trip.

Strava: Day 1: figuring out the car and a hot ride

Day 2. Montsec Climb 

I drove close to the climb and the route turned out pretty nice except of some bad road surfaces. I knew the area, because I looked at a house to buy here once.
Very nice area, maybe a bit warm in August. I had to fill up my bottles a couple of times.

Strava:  Day 2: Col d'Ares and Tremp


Day 3. Rest Day  

I had no good idea what to do, so I decided to stay in a hotel for two days. It was a lucky pick. Hosteria Toloriu 1948 is a real nice mountain hotel ... highly recommended.  I thought I check out the area, but after having two punctured inner tubes before even get going and then a puncture on the first descend I decided to call it a day.
I did the laundry instead and tried to patch the inner tubes. Note for next time: bring more spare tubes and possibly some tires.

Strava:  Day 3: the day of the thousand punctures

Day 4. Val d'Aran 

Next I headed to Val d'Aran to a very quiet parking lot in the park next to a stream. I arrived late and only had time for a short ride. There was also no reception in the park, which made planning tricky.  

Good ride though with nice climbs and very quiet roads. The villages are very picturesque and probably full of tourists during the day.

Strava:  Day 4: short, punchy and pretty

Day 5. French quicky 

I knew this climb towards France from an early organised trip, but only as descent. There was a sign on the bottom about the border being closed, but the police let cyclist through at the top. Arriving in France I remembered how bad French drivers are at overtaking cyclists, so I aborted and quickly drove back and did a loop around Val d'Aran instead. It turned out to be a good choice, with nice climbs and scenery. 
In the evening I moved to a small camping site.

Strava:  Day 5: French quicky and some hills

Day 6. Bonaigua 

Bonaigua is the highest cycling pass in Catalonia. I parked on the not so nice side to avoid some of the climbing and then cycled up, down and up again. It is a long climb and temperatures went from 35C on the bottom to 20C on the top. Fun, with the exception of the bee who stung my temple on the first descent.  
I run out of water again ... I think this is becoming a theme.

Strava:  Day 6: Just Bonaigua

Day 7. Aig├╝estortes 

Last minute addition to my plans. This is a national park with lots of streams and waterfalls. I definitely plan to come pack. I found another nice parking lot in a village, which was also a good starting point for cycling.  
Due to bad planning, weak legs and running out of time I missed the largest climb and did only three of the four panned climbs. So pretty though! And cold in the morning at 10C. 
After finishing the ride I drove back home.

Strava:  Day 7: Aig├╝estortes

Day 8. Return 

The great thing about Indiecampers is that it isn't far from home and I rode back from their depot with my bicycle. Very convenient. 
By now my legs were pretty smashed. 

Strava:  Camper drop off


This has been a brilliant trip and something I want to repeat. Now that I have some practice it will also be easier.

It would be nice to also take the mountain bike. There is some nice infrastructure for mountain biking in Val d'Aran and in Andorra.



Some more impressions on Flickr below ...

Cycling Trip 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021

Friday Links 21-29

Pets, Mssks & 12 Minutes
Pets, Mssks & 12 Minutes
This week I was mostly thinking about Scrum and how it can affect developer happiness and productivity. I have certainly an opinion, but I am still in the data and information gathering phase. 

I also caught up with podcasts again. Lots of good stuff about management.


Introducing DecisionOps - I am not sure that word will catch on, but still a nice post

Should Scrum Teams feel guilty for taking a break? - no

5 Common Mistakes In User Stories [YouTube] - all very good points

Stop Directing People, Start Designing Systems: How to Design Optimal Work Environments with Daniel Terhorst-North (Lean and Agile Methods Expert)  [Podcast] -  very nice episode

How Facebook Works: Comparing its Engineering Process to Google, Microsoft, and Amazon [Podcast] - talking about his book

Leading leaders who lead engineers [Podcast] - tricky, but can be fun. Lara Hogan is always great in interviews.


Upgrading Webpack 4 → 5 - seems easy, until you hit Rails

Data Lineage at Slack - very interesting and possibly over designed? 

Migrating Facebook to MySQL 8.0 - this doesn't sound fun. "The 8.0 migration has taken a few years so far."


T-Mobile Data Breach - oh no

Swiss researchers calculate pi to new record of 62.8tn figures - mining without the money (but New mathematical record: what’s the point of calculating pi?)

Remote Work

How to work remotely: 5 people-first principles for your team - the usual good tips, but well written

Research Shows Working From Home Doesn’t Work. Here’s How Employers Should Tackle the Problem - even I don't believe that

Why the 'Great Remote Work Experiment' may have been flawed - because we couldn't leave the house and saved time on laundry!


Restoring More Water Than We Consume by 2030 - I never thought about water instead of just energy. Facebook is making an effort.

How environmentally sustainable is your cycle clothing? - meh! I for one try to buy less and use longer

This Is Your Brain on Pollution [Podcast] - pollution is basically where lead was when we banned it

Germany ‘set for biggest rise in greenhouse gases for 30 years’ - go Germany!


Accessible Places - "Automobile Poverty"

Death of Bridget Driscoll - first time I hear about the first pedestrian killed by a car. 

The jury returned a verdict of "accidental death" after an inquest lasting some six hours. The coroner, Percy Morrison (Croydon division of Surrey), said he hoped "such a thing would never happen again"

SUMMER SPECIAL: Being Gary Fisher, the Interview [Podcast] - good to see him join the war on cars!

Do people really walk this much in the UK? - Americans are funny

Transport for the North boss calls for debate on raising cost of driving - there goes his job

Traffic Crashes Are Getting Worse. Car Ads Are Part Of the Problem. - fast cars are pointless and dangerous 

A magic change in Groningen when 2 tramlines finally were canceled in 2012 - [YouTube] - I prefer trams, but this is pretty good. I wonder how the policing of the bus lanes is. This wouldn't work in Barcelona for example. 

Marble Arch Mound: Deputy leader resigns amid spiralling costs - I have some questions: what? why? how?

Random Pets

Someone's gotta stop giving Lena Dunham pets - funny, except for the animals

Don’t Be a Schmuck. Put on a Mask. - Schwarzenegger is trying to appeal to the patriotic Americans.

Twelve Minutes review – a tense time-loop thriller - it arrived. I am playing it. It is nice.

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday Links 21-28

Record label "Feel My M.F. Base" by Paul Johnson
Feel My M.F. Base - Paul Johnson
I am rethinking these posts again. I have a plan ... maybe.


The Big Project Syndrom - we all have been there

The Problem With Passion [Podcast]“do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” is one of the long list of things I have recently stopped believing in.

It’s time for leaders to get real about hybrid - the most difficult path, but also the most likely 

Managing Strengths to Scale: Why Hyper-Specialized Roles Are Key to Driving Growth with JP Chauvet (President at Lightspeed) [Podcast] - emphasises on growth

Getting to yes: solving engineering manager hiring loops that reject every candidate. - true for every position 

#106 – Cal Newport on an industrial revolution for office work [Podcast] - author of "A World Without Email" ... he addresses Slack too


GitHub’s Engineering Team has moved to Codespaces - this is pretty cool. I have to confess I haven't tried it yet, but seeing how our Mac users are suffering with Docker it could be an option

How We Design Our APIs at Slack - this sounds sensible, even if you wouldn't think it when working with their APIs

Ruby's Hidden Gems: Bullet - we didn't find it super helpful, but it is a nice idea

Building a more accurate time service at Facebook scale - I enjoy a lot of the weird edge case stuff Facebook is doing. I am also a bit of an ntp fan-boy. And they are open-sourcing it too.

Frustrating Design Patterns: Disabled Buttons - I really like this series. Maybe because UX can be so frustrating.


Scanning "private" content [LWN] - About Apple scanning your private photos and the EU doing something similar 

Apple Adds a Backdoor to iMessage and iCloud Storage - Schneier is also not happy about Apple and includes lots of relevant articles

The slow collapse of Amazon’s drone delivery dream - apparently a management thing ... and a pipe dream?

It's Not Just Tesla: All Other Driver-Assist Systems Work without Drivers, Too - I am not leaving my house any more 

AllStar: Continuous Security Policy Enforcement for GitHub Projects - another tool to automatically check your repos

BBC Micro Elite source code - I love and miss Elite. I did play mostly the Amiga version though.


Dead white man’s clothes - this is pretty depressing. I don't buy a lot of clothes and donate none of them, but this just shows how bad "rich countries" are behaving

487 “It’s only gonna get worse.” [Comic] "Thinking about the future is depressing"

Barcelona mayor rallies against airport expansion - Barcelona & the EU are not happy with this, but it probably will still happen

We need to talk about cycling and sustainability - I have too many jerseys and possibly bikes.


Mayor Pete and Elaine Chao Hit the Road [Podcast] - infrastrature is tricky in every country, but it is amazing how bad it is in the US

Utilitarian Bicycling and Mental Wellbeing Role of the Built Environment - you get on your bike and smile ... that's just how it goes


Paul Johnson, Get Get Down house producer, dies at age 50 from Covid-19 - :-( so many good memories from my House Music phase

Training for Tokyo: how athletes prepared and how they did – in pictures - if you ever though: "I can't do this sport. I need the right space, time, equipment first"

Journaling through a Pandemic - I am still writing my journal and most days it is pretty useless, but once in a while I really write and it does focus my thoughts

The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done - I am a bit of a GTD fan-boy. The article is mostly the story about another fan-boy and how he learned and adjusted. It's good.

Other Links

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Friday Links 21-27

Comic strip: How to Motivate your Team
Basic Instructions
No random section today! 

I am catching up with my podcasts and really enjoyed the one about Sad Days

It also seems that climate change will affect more of our life sooner than most expected.


How to Motivate Your Team [Comic] - another good strip from Basic Instructions

We should allow sad days, not just sick days [Podcast] - I certainly could have used a few sad days ... and maybe I took them

Vaccines and our return-to-office plans - Google is going to require vaccination 

Incentives Change Marginal Behavior - you can't do much more than nudge with incentives 

CL XL: Under and Over - Tim about "construction" - under-promise, over-deliver

The SaaS Org Chart - random made up org-chart for inspiration


Optimizing People You May Know (PYMK) for equity in network creation - LinkedIn improving their recommendation engine

TBM 32/52: The Form That Stole 20,531,250 Seconds - my general tip: avoid as many validation as possible

Lorin Hochstein (Netflix) [Podcast] - another Staff Engineering episode, this one is pretty good and down to earth. Also really going into resilience and managing up. 

cube composer - nice game to learn about map/filter/reject/...

Visibility - another cycling / engineering analogy 

New Recruiter & Jobs: The largest enterprise data migration at LinkedIn - full strategy of a massive migration

Design? - Ron musing about software design 

Connecting with Mob Programming - I never got into either pair or mob programming, but I imagine it would be fun for a while


A GPSD time warp [LWN] - ntp daemon is going to break this year

Backblaze Drive Stats for Q2 2021 - looking at SSDs too

Disrupting Ransomware by Disrupting Bitcoin

"There is no single silver bullet to disrupt either cryptocurrencies or ransomware. But enough little disruptions, a “death of a thousand cuts” through new and existing regulation, should make bitcoin no longer usable for ransomware. And if there’s no safe way for a criminal to collect the ransom, their business model becomes no longer viable."


Climate crisis: Scientists spot warning signs of Gulf Stream collapse - lovely 

Is remote working better for the environment? Not necessarily - certainly not when I work from home, until I get solar panels. 

Scientists consider slashing a leap second from time as Earth spins at its fastest in half a century - see also the gpsd article by LWN above

Water Pirates - I see people here getting water in small containers from public fountains. I still don't know why.

Today in Murder Offsets - "Bootleg Fire is burning up carbon offsets"

11 Years Ago, Foothill Transit Got 3 Electric Buses. Are They Ready for More? - I don't know what is going wrong with electric buses in the US, they seem to work fine in other countries. Maybe go with "Made Outside The USA"? 

Punk Powder from Muc Off makes much needed dent in cycling industry's single use plastic pile - I really love what Muc-Off is doing. It is silly to ship liquid around, which is really just water with a tiny bit of ingredients.


Cargo bikes deliver faster and cleaner than vans, study finds - the surprises keep on coming 

The Meatpacking District is doing away with vehicle traffic permanently on these streets - nice to see that some of these changes stick

Motor City Of Birmingham To Throttle Short Car Journeys - I like this kind of splitting up of cities and making cross city trips longer

New Highway Code To Rule That Motorists Should Cede Priority To Pedestrians And Cyclists - the shit-storm by the poor motorist didn't take long

What empty offices mean for America’s cities — and workers - it means that you designed your cities wrong by separating living and working

Other Links 

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.