Third de France, Stage 18

Pros: Embrun to Valloire, 208km - Mountains

Me: 68km, 5m/15m/20m/20m SST

Stunning stage last night, starting at Embrun and then running through the Ubaye valley to Col de Vars, which is the first ever mountain climb I did, with Kevin, back in 2010. Some odd behaviour from Movistar, riding on the Izouard and taking a few minutes out of the gap to their own teammate, Quintana, who ended up winning the stage.

If they’d let other teams ride Quintana could have ended up right in the mix over the last two mountain stages, but now he’s two minutes behind the favourites with no chance of getting any more significant time back.

For me, I opted to do the ride indoors as it was pretty much all intervals. Tough ride in the end. y legs felt tired at the stage, so you can see how the longer “easy” rides can be used to sap the legs a bit before the mountains. The final interval was hard going and left me thinking I should have adopted the pros technique of taking it easy most of the climbs. Looking at a few Strava files, it seems they were only riding at around 70-75% instead of the 90% I set myself.

Might try that tomorrow if they take it easy again tonight!

Me: 55.6km, 1h 32m, 1078 calories, 111 TSS.

Pro: 216.4km, 6h 5m, 5127 calories, 326 TSS

Weight: 91.7kg - CTL: 46.9 - TSB: -17.4

Reflections from Spain

The author returns from a few weeks travelling around Spain and gives his opinions on Spain through his economist’s eyes.

I must admit that I’ve commonly regarded Spain as a bit of a basket case. It suffered a similar fate to Ireland in the GFC with a big housing bust, though, unlike Ireland, it didn’t have a large tech sector and dodgy international finance dealings to keep things ticking over. I always had the impression in my youth that it was on the verge of collapse, though this opinion was never based on extensive research! 😄

Not so says Mr. Caplan - while things are not all rosy, he reckons there is massive untapped potential, particularly if immigration is encouraged from the half a billion Spanish speakers worldwide.

After I visit a new country, Tyler Cowen always asks me, “Are you long or short?” In terms of potential, I’m very long on Spain. The trinity of “deregulate immigration, employment, and housing” is vital in almost every country, but this formula would do more for Spain than nearly any other country. Wise policy would make Spain the biggest economy in Europe in twenty years flat.

Inside Amazon

An interesting counterpoint to the undercover “stings” which support the narrative that Amazon exploits its workers, written by an actual Amazon warehouse worker.

While warehouse work doesn’t sound particularly appealing or financially rewarding to your average white-collar worker, he makes the point that Amazon’s are pretty decent warehouses to work at and the pay is quite a bit better than other jobs on offer. Sure, $15/hr isn’t much, but it’s 36% better than $11/hr elsewhere.

Bloodworth says he worked 10-and-a-half-hour days at Amazon, which sounds pretty brutal. Maybe they do things differently in the UK, but my Amazon sortation center is very flexible about the hours it offers. When I was applying for the job online, Amazon allowed me to create a schedule tailored to my needs. They asked me how many hours a week I’d like to work, and which days of the week suited me best. They asked if I preferred to work evenings, overnight, early mornings, days. After compiling this info, they gave me a shift that fits me like a glove. I work four and a half hours a day, five days a week. My shift begins at 6:30 am and ends at 11 am. But, when I need a bit more money, I can go to work at 5 am and pick up an extra 90 minutes of work pretty much whenever I want. Many of my co-workers add hours to their days whenever they are in need of a little extra cash, and we can take voluntary unpaid time off just about whenever we like.

Third de France, Stage 17

Pros: Pont du Gard to Gap, 200km Hilly

Me: 68km, 5m SST

One small interval today and then cruise along for the remainder. That’s the last of the flat days over with - it’s now into the Alps for the pros, which means lots of longer intervals for me. 2h 45m of sub-threshold intervals over the next 3 days - my legs will be toast!

Me: 67.1km, 2h 37m, 1467 calories, 136 TSS.

Pro: 208km, 5h 5m, 3355 calories, 180 TSS

Weight: 91.7kg - CTL: 45.3 - TSB: -11.5

Third de France, Stage 16

Pros: Nîmes to Nîmes, 177km - Flat

Me: 59km

Pretty straightforward stage today. No climbs but the pros, so no intervals for me. Just ride along for 59km.

Nice ride in a balmy 25C - gotta love a Brisbane Winter. Back on my old bike while I get the broken spoke fixed and definitely noticed the difference. Wheels are about 350g heavier and noticeably slower to spin up, though once they’re going they’re great.

Power and HR were both up, so not sure whether that was due to legs feeling good after a few days’ rest or just a bit of dehydration after not drinking much water all day. Will find out tomorrow with another pretty flat stage before all the action kicks off on Friday.

Me: 59.8km, 2h 21m, 1330 calories, 129 TSS.

Pro: 181.6km, 4h 20m, 3597 calories, 194 TSS

Weight: 92.2kg - CTL: 43.1 - TSB: -5.3

Second Rest Day

The second week of the Tour ended up being a bit of a light week, with one rest day, another Stage missed due to being away and two short stages due to a broken spoke and risk of getting sick. So be it, life gets in the way, and the risk of getting sick is I’m sure partly due to starting this Tour at such a low fitness level.

As you can see from my CTL graph for the second week, fitness (blue) has remained fairly constant and tiredness has improved somewhat. Probably just as well, as the final week is going to be really tough.

Week 2 CTL

Totals for the 15 stages so far: 20h 40m, 558.8km, 1149 TSS

Third de France, Stage 15

Pros: Limoux to Foix Prat d’Albis, 185 km - Mountain

Me: 62km, 10m/15m/15m/15m SST

Great stage last night and well worth staying up for. Lots of attacking and all the top guys cracked at various stages, with the exception of Thibaut Pinot. Alaphilippe showed that the strain is getting to him too, so it’s all down to the Alps later this week with five riders in with a realistic chance. If Pinot wins, he’ll be the first French winner since 1985 and France will erupt! Would love to see it.

After all that excitement, my session was a damp squib. J woke up after the weekend feeling sick and I was feeling a bit run down too. However, felt a bit better after lunch and decided to go ahead with the session, but was starting to feel it again after the second interval so opted to cut things short. 55 mins at sub-threshold takes a chunk out of me, so didn’t want to push myself over the edge into full sickness.

The last week has been a bit hit and miss - some I can’t do anything about like breaking a spoke or being away for the weekend - but tomorrow’s a rest day, so hopefully I’ll feel better and be good to go without further interruptions for the final week.

Me: 28.2km, 48m, 554 calories, 50 TSS.

Pro: 26.9km, 4h 47m

Weight: 92.4kg - CTL: 42.0 - TSB: -9.8

Going Down the Pipes

A long read revisiting a 1996 article on the work lives of air traffic controllers working at New York Terminal Radar Approach Control, managing some of the busiest airspace in the world.

Tales of outdated equipment, burnt out controllers and the usual high-jinks that near constant high stakes stress levels lead to make you wonder how slapdash things can be under the hood, while appearing perfectly calm to the outside world, i.e: passengers.

Makes you wonder how much else of daily life is like a duck - calm on the surface with furious paddling beneath!

That’s what distinguishes the Men of Steel from the Papier-Mâchés. A weak controller, spotting two jets six miles apart, won’t agonize over the unused airspace. But Zack sees that gap as a chance to push more traffic, looks for a third jet to slide between the two, and then—by using visual separation—packs the jets even closer in the sky. On the final descent toward Newark, planes travel one mile every 11 seconds; Zack can’t hesitate or miss a turn, or the entire chain of jets will collapse. But he doesn’t. Like a shrewd billiards player, Zack calculates the angles that will transform his ten random jets into a 30-mile chain, then commands the pilots with unassailable authority. “Pilots are like dogs,” he says under his breath. “They can smell fear in your voice. But if you sound confident, they’ll do whatever you tell them to do.” He pauses to appreciate his handiwork—ten blips, each three miles apart, heading like geese toward the Newark runway. “Now that’s crisp vectoring!

Faking the Moon Landing

Given the weekend that’s just gone, this seems apt. How Stanley Kubrick Staged the Moon Landing 😉

At any other time, such theories would have been dismissed as a madman’s raving, but America was willing to doubt in the seventies. That’s when the dream faded, when everything we’d been told began to sound like a fairy tale. American history itself was questioned, rewritten. Were we in fact the good guys at Plymouth Rock? How was the West really won? It was all recast in the afterglow of the Vietnam War, which was escalated with lies, and Watergate, when the president operated in the way of Don Vito Corleone. In other words, the space program, which began in one era, the buzz-cut age of American exceptionalism, culminated in another.

Third de France, Stage 13

Pros: Pau to Pau, 27km - Time Trial

Me: 12min @ 105%

A quick blast on the indoor trainer this morning. Thomas De Gendt managed 105% for 35:36 last night, so I figured 12 minutes was a reasonable target for me. HR monitor opted not to work for some reason, but was a solid effort nonetheless.

Heading away for the weekend shortly, so will miss Stage 14, both watching it live unfortunately, and mimicking it the next day. Back for Stage 15 hopefully, though will need to get the trainer bike ready for the road until I sort out the broken spoke.

Probably easier to do that than having to swap out brake pads to go back to aluminium wheels on my main road bike.

Me: 18.9km, 30m, 356 calories, 39 TSS.

Pro: 26.9km, 35m, 911 calories, 73 TSS

Weight: 92.2kg - CTL: 42.8 - TSB: -16.5