Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tour oF Nilgiris

I am happy to see that organized long-distance cycling events are starting to take place in India. Stumbled upon the link to "Tour of Nilgiris", 7 day 919 km cycling event from Bangalore to Mysore. The culture of cycling is spreading to India...one good effects of globalization ;-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Comfortably numb

The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

- The Wall, Pink Floyd

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's all about Biking (Bicycling)

4000 miles on my bike and still going. Little did I think that I would do so much of cycling when I bought my road bike in May 2007. Thanks to biker-friendly California and the sport of Bicycling itself, it has become my passion. Sometimes I even foolishly think of becoming a Pro.

It was in the month of May 2007 that I first rode on my bicycle, a mere 12 miles. But it wasn't until Oct 2007 that I seriously started cycling. I have been commuting to office on my bicycle since then, 17 miles a day. At around the same time Sudhir and I decided to participate in the annual AIDS LifeCycle'08 event, in which we had to cover 545 miles from SF to LA in 7 days. It was in that event that I did my first century on the bike. That ride increased my interest in cycling even more and nowadays I spend some of my weekends going on long rides on my bicycle. For the first time I watched Tour De France 08 and also started keenly following the Pro races. Had I been into this a little earlier, I would have followed the AMGEN Tour of California where most of the Pro teams around the world complete. Hopefully my wish of watching a Pro race with my naked eyes will be fulfilled in Feb '09. That's when the Tour of California will begin.

Road Cycling is a wonderful sport. You can enjoy it in solo, no company required. You can go to far away places and enjoy the natural beauty along the way, as if riding in a car with an open-top. It's a nice way to keep you in shape. Unlike Running, there isn't so much of impact on your legs and knees. And if you commute daily on bike then you are being very Green and also saving a lot of money on Gas. For e.g 4000 miles would mean (4000/30)*4 ~ 500$ of savings in a year.

Thanks to America for bringing me into contact with Biking. Hopefully I will be able to continue Biking throughout my life, irrespective of where I will be.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

This is an extract from the book "It's not about the bike, My journey back to life" on Lance Armstrong the seven time Tour-de-France champion:-
THE QUESTION THAT LINGERS IS, HOW MUCH WAS I A factor in my own survival, and how much was science, and how much miracle?
I don't have the answer to that question. Other people look to me for the answer, I know. But if I could answer it, we would have the cure for cancer, and what's more, we would fathom the true meaning of our existences. I can deliver motivation, inspiration, hope, courage, and counsel, but I can't answer the unknowable. Personally, I don't need to try. I'm content with simply being alive to enjoy the mystery.
Good joke:
A man is caught in a flood, and as the water rises he climbs to the roof of his house and waits to be rescued. A guy in a motorboat comes by and he says, "Hop in, I'll save you."
"No, thanks," the man on the rooftop says. "My Lord will save me."
But the floodwaters keep rising. A few minutes later, a rescue plane flies overhead and the pilot drops a line.
"No, thanks," the man on the rooftop says. "My Lord will save me." But the floodwaters rise ever higher, and finally, they overflow the roof and the man drowns.
When he gets to heaven, he confronts God.
"My Lord, whey didn't you save me?" he implores.
"You idiot," God says. "I sent you a boat, I sent you a plane".
I think in a way we are all just like the guy on the rooftop. Things take place, there is a confluence of events and circumstances, and we can't always know their purpose, or even if there is one,. But we can take responsibility for ourselves and be brave.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Red-use, Re-use, Recycle

Yesterday (April 22nd) was Earth Day. If I were not in US probably I wouldn't have known about it. Lot of people here are concerned about their carbon footprint. It's a different matter that US does most of the climate damage.
There's a lot of talk about Recycling. That's nice but the other problem is that the US economy is primarily driven by consumption. For a variety of reasons (cost, convenience), there is excessive consumption. This is really bad for the environment. It's economically cheaper to buy a new good instead of getting it repaired because of the labor cost. Just dump it and buy a new one. And yeah we can recycle it. There is extra cost for recycling it. It would have helped the environment a lot if the good was reused and extra goods were not manufactured at all.
One fact I realized is that there is a lot of food that gets flown via flights to different parts of the world. This contributes to significant amount of global warming because of the fuel required for transport. Often the cost to environment is not considered in the economics.
Individual can do considerable help in reducing global warming. Some of the things are:-
- Switching off lights when not in use
- Carpooling/Biking/Taking buses etc whenever possible
- Avoiding using throwaway plastic cutlery and styrofoam plates
- Reusing stuff as much as possible

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as possible.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

AIDS/Lifecycle Practice 1

Now that the event AIDS/Lifecycle is just 6 weeks away, and now that the California Summer of 2008 has arrived (Forget the afternoon, but the evenings are amazingly refreshing), I shred my lethargy and went for my first practice ride from Cupertino to Stanford and back a total of 24 miles at a stretch. Did it in 2 hrs, my usual speed. I know it's very less and I feel the pinch every now and then when somebody overtakes with ease :-(. This is a good beginging and if I keep commuting to office on my bicycle that should serve the minimum training. But I need to build my lower-back muscles so that they are strong enough to keep in the riding position everyday for 80 miles for a week. My back started aching towards the last quarter of the ride today. Time to go to gym.
Here's the map from Google Pedometer
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1790162

My First Half-Marathon

I have been jogging all through my life but never for more than 1 hour and never very seriously. The last public event of worth mentioning is Hyderabad 10k run (in 2005) around the Hussain Sagar. I guess I completed it in a little over 1 hour. On that day I realized that I could run for even 2 hrs at that low speed. Running very slowly is the key atleast for beginers.

Thanks to Vamsi & Sudhir, we all (including Bharath) registered for this event that was to happen on April 5th 2008. Sudhir & myself knew that running 13 miles wouldn't be easy without practice, so we started practicing running on school tracks in the evenings. The practice helped us a little, but little did we know how hilly the terrain would be in the Golden Gate Headlands Marathon (Rodeo Beach, California). The idea of going to the Rancho San Antonia Park, turned out to be helpful as we realized how difficult it would be to run on Hills. Then, couple of days before the event Sudhir saw the altitude graph of the terrain, and then we had some vague idea of the difficulty involved. At least these events prepared us mentally for the half-marathon.

It was nice to see the number of participants of all ages. This was my first such public event in USA. In the begining itself we had to climb a hill and the altitude gain in the first 1.5 miles was around 600 ft (600 ft looks very small, but you'll know only when you run it :-). And there were steps in one place. We were happy to see the steps as we could stop running there and walk for some time. Sudhir and I ran together and completed the half-marathon in 2 hrs 19 mins. It's not a bad timing considering the terrain and that this was the first one for us and we hadn't
really practiced much before the event and I felt good. The last stretch on the beach was quite tough and it sapped me completely. But seeing Sudhir continuing, I pushed myself. Running together helps a lot atleast for beginers like us. I had a small knee pain, which I generally get if I use too much of my legs. Other than that there weren't any problems.
Check out the result here:-
http://www.envirosports.com/results/event/2216/results.php?p=2&bib=766

And the photos are available here on Flickr:-
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dhiraj/tags/halfmarathon/

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jo Beet gayi so baat gayi-Harivansh Rai Bachchan

One poem from my school days which is my favorite and it still echoes in my mind. That's the beauty of it. It was written by Harivansh Rai Bachchan (father of Amitabh Bachchan) at the time of the demise of one of his dear friends. It goes like this:-

जीवन में एक सितारा था
माना वह बेहद प्यारा था
वह डूब गया तो डूब गया
अंबर के आनन को देखो
कितने इसके तारे टूटे
कितने इसके प्यारे छूटे
जो छूट गए फ़िर कहाँ मिले
पर बोलो टूटे तारों पर
कब अंबर शोक मनाता है
जो बीत गई सो बात गई


Read the rest of it over here. (Thanks to Sandeep for writing it in Hindi)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

AIDS Lifecycle : Cycling for a cause

This summer (June 1-7, 2008) I will be cycling from San Fransisco to Los Angeles (a total of 545 miles in 7 days) to raise donations for fighting AIDS Worldwide. I will be one of the ~2500 people participating in this tremendous event. It's a tough physical job but I hope to complete it successfully with months of training and support from near and dear.

Visit my personal page for details and donate/leave a note of support.
http://www.aidslifecycle.org/6691

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Words of wisdom...

From one of those email forwards:-

Forget about the days
when its been cloudy, but
don't forget your hours in the sun.

Forget about mistakes
that you can't change now, but
don't forget the lessons
that you've learned.


Forget about the times
you've been defeated, but
don't forget the victories you've won.


Forget about the days
when you've been lonely, but
don't forget the friendly smiles you've seen.


Forget about the plans
that didn't seem
To work out right, but...

Don't forget to Always Have A Dream

Keep Smiling

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yahoo Pipes

I had heard about Yahoo Pipes long time back (If my memory doesn't fail me, it should be more than six months). Little did I realize that it would be a very handy tool for me then. I have been searching for a used car for a long time and checking craigslist has sort of become a daily habit for me. It was becoming very painful visiting the site and finding out the cars that interest me. I was thinking of writing some Java Program which would filter out the things for me and send me an email of only the cars that I am looking for. Only a few days back I realized that I could use a Yahoo Pipe for the same. So I wrote a Yahoo Pipe. (Of course there were many similar pipes that people had already written, but they wouldn't meet my specific requirement and also to satisfy my ego, I thought it would be good to write one myself.) It was so easy and fast to write and the Pipe creation Tool was very impressive and I loved it. And we have an option of using the Yahoo alerts to get notifications about any changes in the Pipe Results. This was what I was exactly looking for. Had I written a Java Program it would have taken me more time and it wasn't worth the effort...until my search for cars doesn't end. Check it out http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/. You can copy others pipes and customize them, embed Pipes within Pipes. I guess these are the next-generation SOA apps or what is the term "Mashups". I am really impressed with these concepts. Trivia: As anybody can guess it derives it's name from Unix Pipes.