Col du Tourmalet (2018)

Last August 18th, together with some friends from the university we climbed with the bike the Col du Tourmalet, the mythic climb of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees. That was an excursion that I had been wanting to make since moving to Toulouse 8 years ago.

IMG_20180818_081539828

Training. I had bought a road bike 3 weeks before the climb. I used it 3 times, to ride in the roads of the Gers (France) close to home. I rode 21 km, 26 km and 60 km in each of those days, at average speeds of between 20 to 22 km/h. I then went on holidays with the children and could not train any more. When back to my home in France, a few days before the climb I preferred not to use the bike to avoid arriving to the Pyrenees with some muscle pain.

None of us was well trained for the challenge, so we were prepared for the worst. The day before, I think none of my friends was confident in being able to climb up till the end, though I kept telling them we would make it.

Route. We decided to climb it from the Western side, departing from the village Luz Saint Sauveur. From there the climb is a bit longer, 19.0 km, with an average slope of 7.4% with a maximum of about 10.2% near the end. We planned to only climb up and descend back home (~ 40 km), we would not simulate a longer Tour de France stage with several climbs. Just one. Below you can see the profile per kilometre.

Profil-tourmalet-aso

Route_complete

We woke up early and had an average breakfast. The weather was good for the ride: fresh (14 degrees Celsius at 7:45 am, in the middle of August) and cloudy at the start from Luz. And 21 degrees at 11:45 at the top (at 2,115 metres of altitude) before starting the descent.

We first descended the 2.5 km between our hostel and the starting of the climb in Luz.

At 7:58 am we started the climb. We had rented a Scott Addict 10 (CD22) with a compact 50/34 crankset with 11x32 cassette (7.74 kg of weight). I did the complete climb without changing gears: 34 – 32. Since I was not well trained I did not want to push muscles any more than required by moving a more demanding combination (other colleagues did and had no problems either).

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Kilometre zero at Luz St. Sauveur.

I decided on my own strategy for the climb the night before. In bed, I read some blogs about the climb and one rider recommended to mentally split the climb, in stretches of 15 minutes. So I did. Mentally and physically. I rode at a comfortable but steady pace about 15 minutes and then I took a pause of 3-5 minutes. And then again, and again. Not all colleagues did that. We saw other riders taking similar pauses, though I would say that early in the morning most riders were better prepared and rode faster and with less pauses than us. When we descended the climb we found more casual riders (or this is what it felt when you watched them climbing while you descended).

 

IMG_20180818_104921518_BURST000_COVER_TOP

Pause at 1 km from the summit.

I found it hard, but bearable. The last 3 km had a more difficult profile, which added to the accumulated fatigue. The muscles were tired after each 15 minutes stretch but after the small pause we could continue without problem. I did not feel any pain, or had any cramps or injures. In that sense I found it less aggressive than marathons.

 

In all, it took us about 2h12′ riding from the bottom to the top (find here my Garmin record, which misses about 2 minutes in a ~400 m stretch of the 1st km). The pauses must have taken us another nearly 55 minutes in pauses, for a total time of about 3h10’ to reach the summit, at ~11h10 am. The average riding speed was 8.5 km/h, which started between 9 and 10 but at the end it was rather between 7 and 8.

Elevation_speed

We then took some pictures, a coffee, a beer and had a chat at the cafeteria in the top.

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The descent to our hostel (16.64 km, 2.5 km from the start) took me another 28 minutes at 35 km/h, as I did not take any risk.

The experience was great. The views are breath-taking. The feeling of accomplishment very pleasant.

Route_2nd_half

Some more practical comments:

The descent. I was afraid of being too cold but it went well (not so for other colleagues who felt more the cold). I wore one t-shirt, the short-sleeved cycling maillot and an over-sleeve.

The road. It is rather wide at most points compared to other mountain roads. Cars during the climb did respect very well the distances to overtake riders. The asphalt was in good condition. I imagine that due to the Tour de France and the skiing stations they do maintain the road in good conditions, renewing the asphalt every few years.

Water. I did not see it while riding, but at the station on km 12, where there is the telesiege “Caubere” there was a water fountain where you can refill your bottles. I did the refill with river water a bit later, in the km 15 close to the a second telesiege at the station Super Bareges.

Logistics – Housing. We booked rooms in advance at La grange du Bois. That is a chambre d’hotes off the village of Luz Saint Sauveur at about the 2nd km of the climb. It was big enough to accommodate our continuous demands for more beds, as in the end we were 13 adults and 8 children. The house has capacity for 33 people, though if you go in a big group you might have to share some rooms (with capacities for 5 and 6 people). The price was reasonable and included half board (~44 € per adult and night ).

Logistics – Bike rental. We all rented road or mountain biks for the occasion. We picked Ardiden Vélos at Luz Saint Sauveur, just 100 metres from the start of the climb. The rental for 24-h cost 55 € (for the higher scale and lighter weight model), this allowed picking and adapting the bikes the previous evening so we could start cycling early in the morning. The rental included helmets and pedals. It did not include water bottles, which you can bring yourself or buy at the same shop.

Excursions. The day after we went on an excursion to Cauterets and the Pont d’Espagne walking to the Lac d’Aube. We did not feel any muscle pain and had a good time there.

In the future, if I ever get to ride on bike often on weekends, I may give it another try.

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“El mejor español se habla en Valladolid” (PISA, 2015)

“En Andalucía lo que sabe un niño de diez años es lo que sabe uno de ocho en Castilla y León”.

Estas declaraciones, pronunciadas hace un mes por Isabel García Tejerina, vicesecretaria de Acción Social del PP y ex ministra de Agricultura, Pesca, Alimentación y Medioambiente de abril de 2014 a junio de 2018, suscitaron una gran polémica en España, y a mí me dieron la idea de hacer un ejercicio simpático a partir de los últimos resultados de PISA, en 2015.

Recordatorio: PISA es el acrónimo de Programme for International Student Assessment, unas pruebas estandarizadas realizadas por la OECD que se hacen a alumnos de secundaria (15 años) de más de 60 países en las materias de matemáticas, ciencia y compresión lectora. Los resultados de las pruebas de 2015 se pueden encontrar aquí. Los resultados por comunidades de España se pueden encontrar aquí. En la gráfica de debajo se puede ver la presentación de los resultados de compresión lectora que se ofrece en el informe.

Lectura

Viendo esa gráfica, mi intuición parecía confirmarse así que le dediqué un par de horas a desarrollarla. Partiendo de la siguiente “premisa”:

“El mejor castellano, el mejor español se habla en Valladolid”.

Esta afirmación se escucha a menudo en España. Así, que quise comprobar si los resultados de PISA de comprensión lectora iban en esa línea, y contrastarla con una derivada de esa afirmación, ver si cuanto más se aleja uno de Valladolid peor se habla español. Para ello, recogí los resultados por comunidad autónoma y los comparé con la distancia media (en kilómetros) de cada comunidad autónoma a la ciudad de Valladolid (1). Con ello obtuve la tabla de debajo.

Distancia_Valladolid_1

Y los datos de dicha tabla se pueden presentar de forma inmediata en la siguiente gráfica, a la que añadí una línea de tendencia a partir de los resultados de Castilla y León.

Distancia_Valladolid_4

En la gráfica se percibe cómo cuanto mayor es la distancia media de una comunidad autónoma a Valladolid, peor es el resultado de comprensión lectora de PISA 2015. La correlación entre las dos series de datos es de 0.47 (2), que sube a 0.53 para la España peninsular (la comprensión lectora en las islas Canarias aun siendo la tercera más baja de la lista no está en proporción con la gran distancia a Valladolid (3)).

De forma coloquial, entonces se podría decir que sí, que el mejor español se habla (de hecho sería se lee) en Valladolid, y que cuanto más se aleja uno de Valladolid peor se habla español (de hecho sería peor se comprende el español leído).

Un comentario final sobre comunidades autónomas como Baleares, Cataluña, Galicia, Navarra o País Vasco. En estas comunidades autónomas, las pruebas de PISA de compresión lectora se realizaron total o parcialmente en lenguas distintas del castellano (4). Siguiendo la teoría que en esta entrada se pretende demostrar de modo jocoso, “cuanto más se aleja uno de Valladolid peor se habla español”, si en esas comunidades las pruebas de PISA se hubieran hecho enteramente en español, los resultados de esas comunidades, dada su lejanía a Valladolid habrían sido peores, y más cercano al indicado por la línea de regresión (5).

(1) De Wikipedia se obtienen las coordenadas geográficas medias de cada comunidad autónoma. En la siguiente página hay un calculador de distancia entre cualesquiera dos puntos a partir de sus coordenadas.

(2) Una correlación a partir de 0.5 se suele considerar como fuerte.

(3) Siguiendo la regresión, para la distancia de Canarias a Valladolid (1,798 km) el resultado seria 387, mucho menor que los 483 obtenidos en la prueba.

(4) En particular:

  • País Vasco: un 25% de los alumnos hicieron la prueba en euskera (en su mayoría del modelo D, con puntuación media 483, por debajo del 491 general), el resto en castellano. El informe del gobierno autonómico ofrece mucho detalle sobre las puntuaciones sacadas por los alumnos de cada opción y el idioma que se habla en casa.
  • Navarra: el informe sobre los resultados que ofrece gobierno navarro no da muchos detalles, solamente indica que los alumnos de 9 de los 52 centros que hicieron las pruebas, las hicieron en euskera (los estudiantes de los modelos B/D; los de los modelos A/G la hicieron en castellano). Otros 8 centros hicieron pruebas en ambos idiomas. El informe del gobierno navarro no da más información, ni respecto al número de alumnos en cada idioma, ni en cuanto a los resultados en cada idioma.
  • Galicia: el gobierno gallego en su web no da mucha información, más allá de felicitarse por obtener unos resultados mejores que la media nacional.
  • Baleares: el gobierno balear publica un informe donde se indica que los alumnos que en casa hablan en catalán obtienen mejores resultados (503 vs 479; siendo un 36.4% catalanoparlantes), pero no ofrece información al respecto de cuántos estudiantes hicieron la prueba en un idioma u otro (o si se hicieron enteramente en catalán) y de los respectivos resultados.
  • Cataluña: todos los alumnos realizan las pruebas en catalán. El informe del gobierno regional solamente indica que los alumnos catalanes obtienen resultados de comprensión lectora un resultado mayor que la media nacional (500 vs 496), pero no habla de la brecha que hay entre los resultados obtenidos en Cataluña entre alumnos catalanoparlantes y castellanoparlantes (525 vs 487, en pruebas realizadas en catalán; ver informe).

(5) Un caso particular relacionado con esta afirmación se da con el País Vasco. En ese caso los resultados globales son peores de lo que indica su distancia a Valladolid (línea de regresión). Y se da el caso de que los resultados de los examinados en euskera son peores que los examinados en castellano.

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“Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”, John Maynard Keynes (1930)

The English economist, John Maynard Keynes, wrote in 1930 a short essay, titled Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren , where he discussed that in about a hundred years from that time (~ 2030) the economic problem would be solved.

I read this essay years ago and have referred to it many times, thus I had wanted to write here about it and leave some of the extracts and a few related graphics for future reference.

In a nutshell: Keynes forecast that, at some point in the future, productivity growth will reach a level such that we humans will not have to work more than 15 hours per week if we spread the available work to be done as widely as possible. The problem that humans will then face will be how to employ their time in leisure activities.

He comments that without the need to accumulate money we will see a “return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue-that avarice is a vice.

In the essay he also predicts “that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence will be between four and eight times as high as it is to-day. We can measure this by seeing the evolution of GDP per capita since then in the UK in the following graphic from the website Our World in Data (by Max Roser):

GDP per capita growth UK

Comparing the figures of the graphic 1930 (5,746 £) and 2016 (30,281 £), we see that the increase in these 86 years has been x 5.3 times (adjusted for inflation), thus between 4 and 8 times, as predicted, and pending 14 years to go till 2030.

Keynes included at the end of the paper some conditions that will set the pace of the progress to reach the moment in which the economic problem will be solved:

  • our power to control population,
  • our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions,
  • our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and
  • the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three.

Population growth and control. In the following graphic from the same website “Our World in Data” (by Max Roser and Esteban Ortiz-Ospina) we can see that population growth from 1930 was far from being controlled. The rate of growth tripled reaching its maximum in 1962 (~2.2%). Since then it has nearly halved. The forecasts are that by the end of the current century population will cease to grow and stabilize at around 11 billion people.

updated-World-Population-Growth-1750-2100

Updated-World-Population-Growth-Rate-Annual-1950-2100

Wars and civil dissensions. Yet again, in the website “Our World in Data” (by Max Roser) we can see how a few years after Keynes wrote his essay (1930) started the Second World War. However, since the end of WWII the global figures of deaths in wars between states, civil wars, etc., have greatly decreased.

International-Battle-Deaths-per-100000-20th-Century-Acemoglu0

state-based-battle-related-deaths-per-100000-since-1946

To conclude this post, I leave here below a few extracts from the essay.

—-

“We are suffering just now from a bad attack of economic pessimism.”

“We are suffering, not from the rheumatics of old age, but from the growing-pains of over-rapid changes, from the painfulness of readjustment between one economic period and another.”

“The prevailing world depression, the enormous anomaly of unemployment in a world full of wants, the disastrous mistakes we have made, blind us to what is going on under the surface to the true interpretation. Of time-the pessimism of the revolutionaries who think that things are so bad that nothing can save us but violent change, and the pessimism of the reactionaries who consider the balance of our economic and social life so precarious that we must risk no experiments.”

“My purpose in this essay […] What can we reasonably expect the level of our economic life to be a hundred years hence? What are the economic possibilities for our grandchildren?”

“Some periods perhaps So per cent better than others at the utmost 1.00 per cent better-in the four thousand years which ended (say) in A. D. 1700.”

“This slow rate of progress, or lack of progress, was due to two reasons – to the remarkable absence of important technical improvements and to the failure of capital to accumulate.

“The absence of important technical inventions between the prehistoric age and comparatively modern times is truly remarkable.”

“At some epoch before the dawn of history perhaps even in one of the comfortable intervals before the last ice age-there must have been an era of progress and invention comparable to that in which we live to-day. But through the greater part of recorded history there was nothing of the kind.”

“The modern age opened; I think, with the accumulation of capital which began in the sixteenth century. I believe – for reasons with which I must not encumber the present argument – that this was initially due to the rise of prices, and the profits to which that led, which resulted from the treasure of gold and silver which Spain brought from the New World into the Old. From that time until today the power of accumulation by compound interest, which seems to have been sleeping for many generations, was re-born and renewed its strength. And the power of compound interest over two hundred years is such as to stagger the imagination.”

“For I trace the beginnings of British foreign investment to the treasure which Drake stole from Spain in 1580. In that year he returned to England bringing with him the prodigious spoils of the Golden Hind. Queen Elizabeth was a considerable shareholder in the syndicate which had financed the expedition. Out of her share she paid off the whole of England’s foreign debt, balanced her Budget, and found herself with about £40,000 in hand. This she invested in the Levant Company –which prospered. Out of the profits of the Levant Company, the East India Company was founded”

“Thus, every £1 which Drake brought home in 1580 has now become £100,000. Such is the power of compound interest!”

“From the sixteenth century, with a cumulative crescendo after the eighteenth, the great age of science and technical inventions began, which since the beginning of the nineteenth century has been in full flood — coal, steam, electricity, petrol, steel, rubber, cotton, the chemical industries, automatic machinery and the methods of mass production, wireless, printing, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein, and thousands of other things and men too famous and familiar to catalogue.”

“What is the result? In spite of an enormous growth in the population of the world, which it has been necessary to equip with houses and machines, the average standard of life in Europe and the United States has been raised, I think, about fourfold. The growth of capital has been on a scale which is far beyond a hundredfold of what any previous age had known. And from now on we need not expect so great an increase of population. If capital increases, say, 2 per cent per annum, the capital equipment of the world will have increased by a half in twenty years, and seven and a half times in a hundred years. Think of this in terms of material things — houses, transport, and the like.”

“At the same time technical improvements in manufacture and transport have been proceeding at a greater rate in the last ten years than ever before in history. In the United States factory output per head was 40 per cent greater in 1925”

“In quite a few years-in our own lifetimes I mean – we may be able to perform all the operations of agriculture, mining, and manufacture with a quarter of the human effort to which we have been accustomed.”

“We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come — namely, technological unemployment. This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.”

“… means in the long run that mankind is solving its economic problem. I would predict that the standard of life in progressive countries one hundred years hence will be between four and eight times as high as it is to-day.”

“Let us, for the sake of argument, suppose that a hundred years hence we are all of us, on the average, eight times better off in the economic sense”

“… when these needs are satisfied in the sense that we prefer to devote our further energies to non-economic purposes.”

“I draw the conclusion that, assuming no important wars and no important increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years.”

“… we look into the past-we find that the economic problem, the struggle for subsistence, always has been hitherto the primary, most pressing problem of the human race”

“If the economic problem is solved, mankind will be deprived of its traditional purpose.

“To use the language of to-day-must we not expect a general “nervous breakdown”? We already have a little experience of what I mean -a nervous breakdown of the sort which is already common enough in England and the United States amongst the wives of the well-to-do classes, unfortunate women, many of them, who have been deprived by their wealth of their traditional tasks and occupations–who cannot find it sufficiently amusing, when deprived of the spur of economic necessity, to cook and clean and mend, yet are quite unable to find anything more amusing.”

“Thus for the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problemhow to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.”

“For we have been trained too long to strive and not to enjoy. It is a fearful problem for the ordinary person, with no special talents, to occupy himself”

“We shall do more things for ourselves than is usual with the rich to-day, only too glad to have small duties and tasks and routines. But beyond this, we shall endeavour to spread the bread thin on the butter-to make what work there is still to be done to be as widely shared as possible. Three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour week may put off the problem for a great while. For three hours a day is quite enough to satisfy the old Adam in most of us!”

“When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals.”

“The love of money as a possession -as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life -will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semicriminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.”

“I see us free, therefore, to return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue-that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanour, and the love of money is detestable

“But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still.”

“… it will all happen gradually, not as a catastrophe. Indeed, it has already begun. The course of affairs will simply be that there will be ever larger and larger classes and groups of people from whom problems of economic necessity have been practically removed.”

“The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be governed by four things-our power to control population, our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three.”

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San Francisco Javier y Castillo de Javier (Navarra)

El pasado verano de camino hacia Francia hicimos una excursión en Navarra, con parada en Javier, donde se encuentra el Castillo de Javier y donde nació San Francisco Javier el 7 de abril de 1506.

Castillo

La construcción del castillo se inició a finales del siglo X, en tiempos de Almanzor, como torre de vigilancia para defender el valle del río Aragón. Con el paso de los siglos se añaden estructuras hasta que en el siglo XIV se edifica el “Palacio Nuevo”, siendo propiedad de la familia Azpilicueta.

Escudo

En una de las salas del castillo se muestra un árbol genealógico con todos los “Señores y Condes de Javier” desde el siglo XII, comenzando por Aznar de Sada (1194-1203) hasta el actual Javier de Urzaiz y Ramírez de Haro (1975- ). San Francisco Javier, con el nombre Francisco de Jaso y Azpilicueta al nacer, fue el quinto hijo de Juan de Jaso y Atondo (Señor de Javier) y María de Azpilicueta y Aznarez de Sada (Señora de Javier).

Arbol

A los 19 años se fue a estudiar a la Universidad Sorbona de Paris, donde conoce a Ignacio de Loyola, junto a quien, entre otros, fundaría la Compañía de Jesús en 1534. En 1540 parte a Lisboa para luego seguir con su viaje como misionero a Mozambique, la India, las islas Molucas o Japón entre otros. Es por ello que en 1927 se le nombra como patrón de las misiones católicas en el mundo.

Painting

En el pórtico de la basílica que se encuentra junto al castillo, construida en 1901, se mencionan todos los lugares que visitó, junto con una cita del evangelio de San Mateo (16:26) “¿Quid prodest homini si mundum universum lucretur animae vero suae detrimentum patiatur?” (“¿Porque qué aprovechará al hombre, si ganare todo el mundo, y perdiere su alma?”).

Basilica

Portico

Dentro de la basílica se puede contemplar una losa que marca el lugar donde nació Francisco, dado que esa parte de la iglesia anteriormente formaba parte del Palacio Nuevo, derribado parcialmente para levantar la basílica.

Nacimiento

Javieradas. Fuera del castillo, unos paneles explican en qué consisten las Javieradas: unas peregrinaciones que se realizan en honor al santo desde 1932 por iniciativa de Camino Jaurrieta Muzquiz, rescatando una primera peregrinación organizada en 1886 en agradecimiento porque Navarra no había sido afectada por la epidemia de cólera de aquel año. Las peregrinaciones se realizan en el primer domingo entre el 4 y 12 de marzo, y al domingo siguiente.

Javierada

Por último, la festividad del santo se celebra el 3 de diciembre por ser la fecha en que murió el santo en 1552 en la isla Shangchuan (China), a los 46 años de edad. Sus restos se llevaron en 1554 a Goa (India) donde fue enterrado.

Libros

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ACAT aviation rally (rallye aérien) 2018

Last June 23rd, together with my friend Asier, we took part for the first time in an aviation rally (rallye aérien) organised by my aero-club, ACAT.

ACAT_Collage

For starters, an aviation rally, following (more or less closely) the rules of the Aviation French Federation (FFA), is not like the sport cars’ rallies that we may be used to see. It is not about who is the fastest in a given circuit. It is rather about precision, and the purpose of organizing such rallies is to improve as pilots and increase the safety of flight, along with the competition side of it.

The rally in itself included the following parts:

  • A theoretical part.
  • An observation part
  • A navigation part.

In order to rank the teams, a series of penalties are introduced in each of the parts, as described below:

Rally_ACAT_penalties

In order to discover the route of the flights, even if not subject to penalties, the different teams received a questionnaire. By correctly guessing the answers to the questions we would be able to find the route that we had to fly. For this we had a map, a ruler and pens. From that moment the flight preparation started.

We made two flights of about 1h20’ each. In each of the flights, a part of it would be the subject of the competition, defined by a “starting” and “finishing” points that we had to closely over fly. In between those points a few turns had to be made. We had to estimate at what time we would fly over each of the points with a precision of plus or minus 15 seconds. A greater deviation than that was penalized.

To correctly track the route followed and measure the time in which we flew above each of the points, we carried 2 GPS recording devices provided by the organization. With them, the organization was able to print the track of the flights as below.

Rally_ACAT_trajectory

The image above corresponds to the first of the two flights. In the image you can see that we missed the Final Point, in red. But in the table below you can see how we passed the different turning points. We over flew the starting point (10 minutes after take off) 23 seconds behind schedule, which carried a 9 points penalty. The following turning point (PT1) was passed in 6 seconds above schedule…

Rally_ACAT_score

Along each of the flights we had to spot on the ground a series of images (16 per flight). For that we had some papers with small photographs taken in advance by the rally organization. When we saw an image, we had to identify where we had seen it in the map we had been given. The photographs for each of the flights were not in order, so we had to pay attention to see them. The more you saw, the less you were penalized. However, if you placed the landmarks corresponding to the photographs in wrong locations in your map, you were penalized as well.

Rally_ACAT_photos

Before the flights we had to estimate the overall fuel consumption of the aircraft for the two flights. After the flight we refueled to see how good or bad our estimate had been. In our case we had estimated 69 liters and needed 67. Not bad. But those 2 liters of deviation, carried the corresponding penalty.

As part of the theoretical side of the rally, we also completed a multiple choice questionnaire, similar to the PPL exam but shorter.

The experience was great. We had much fun and even if we did not place well in the rally, we learn quite a bit out of it: (1) to select a slower target speed to allow for wind variations and then set your speed to the targeted one instead of compensating at turning points, (2) to better prepare the reaching of the Starting Point of the circuit, (3) the lower fuel consumption to be employed when flying in with a lighter take-off weight.

I guess we will take part in more aviation rallies in the future.

Rally_ACAT_selfie

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First World War Armistice Day and Compiègne Wagon

Today, November 11th is commemorated “Armistice Day”, the day in which First World War representatives of the Allies and Germany signed at Compiègne (France) an armistice for the cessation of hostilities on the Western front at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month“.

NYTimes-Page1-11-11-1918

Last May, we visited the “Musée de l’Armistice 14-18” at Compiègne, in a forest north of Paris. The main attraction of the museum is the Compiègne Wagon, the train coach in which the armistice was signed. A replica of the coach is displayed today at the museum, showing the position of each delegation within the train.

Coach

The coach itself, number 2419 D, was a restaurant coach built in May 1914 and delivered to the French Marshal Foch in September 1918 and employed as an office. The coach was the sixth out of the seven of the train that brought the Allied delegation.

Coach number

Complete_trains

As part of the display, one can see pieces of the original wagon, the rails where the train once stayed, some monuments to the main actors of the event, military uniforms of the time, pictures of how the delegations arrived to Compiègne, documents with the letters exchanged in advance of the meeting, announcements made to communicate it, some videos of the time, etc.

Picture

The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days. It was followed by the Paris Peace Conference in which diplomats from several countries participated. The British economist John Maynard Keynes was a delegate at the conference, and he wrote the book “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” about it (see here a post about the book).

Delegation_Paris_conference

Months later, on June 28th 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

Peace Treaty

In September 1919 the coach was donated to the Musée de l’Armée, in Paris. It was then moved to the Cour des Invalides where it was displayed in open air for some years. Thanks to the contribution of the American businessman Arthur H Fleming, a building to house it in the forest of Compiègne was built, where it was displayed until the Second World War.

Second World War

Once France was occupied, on June 22nd 1940, Hitler ordered that the wagon was taken out of the exhibition building and be placed in the rails outside in the exact location in which it was on November 11, 1918, for the signature of another armistice. He carefully prepared the setting, by switching sides for the occasion, the German delegation occupying this time the seats that the Allies had taken in 1918, with Hitler taking the place of Foch. As the story goes, he stayed while the terms were read out by someone of his delegation and left the coach before the signature took place. He then disposed that the coach be transferred to Berlin to be displayed there, at the Cathedral. As the second world war advanced the coach was moved to different locations in Germany and destroyed before the end of the war. Thus, what it is shown today is a replica.

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Dublin marathon (2018)

Last Sunday, October 28th, together with my brother Jaime (see here his post about it), I took part for a second time in the Dublin marathon, the “Friendly marathon” according to one of their lines, the 4th largest marathon in Europe with about 18,000 people registered, above 16,000 finishers.

Dublin_0

Jaime and I subscribed to the marathon after the good experience I had in Dublin two years ago (see here my post about it), when I ran it with Serna. After the bad experience in Vienna last spring (see here) I wanted to have better prepared this marathon, but I did not. I arrived to Dublin with just above 470 km in the legs (in the previous 16 weeks), some 70 km more than for Vienna but between 200 and 300 km less than when I have closely followed the training plans in the past years. As you can see below, I found myself at the end of August or the beginning of the 8th week of the plan without having trained much and with 9 weeks to go and about 10-12 kg overweight, and then I put myself to the business.

Dublin_2018_mileage

In the 8 weeks prior to the marathon week I averaged 50 km per week, but I missed many long runs on weekends and wasn’t able to complete good series sessions until the last 3-4 weeks. In any case, I could complete some trails, lose some 6 kg and arrive with the confidence of being able to finish it even if the final time was uncertain.

Weight_loss_Dublin

The circuit of the marathon was the same as in previous years.

dublin-route

From experience, I knew that the profile was not flat with a few climbs but that the crowd, with plenty of Dubliners cheering at the runners, and the cold weather (5 degrees Celsius at the departure time) would help in keeping us running at pace. My strategy was to start with Jaime from his box and run together with the 4-hour pacers until I could not keep up with them, hoping to come with them until the km 30 and then see.

Due to the big crowd of runners at the start of the race, it took me some 3 kilometres to get to the pacers, with whom I lost contact after the km 6 due to a short technical stop, but I quickly recovered the gap. I skipped taking a bottle of water at the supply station around km 10, and got to some distance ahead of the pacers. I then doubted what to do, whether to wait for them (to actually run between them) or keep going ahead pacing myself. As in 2016, I took the second option and I went ahead, running consistently a bit faster than the target pace for a 4-hour marathon (5’41” per km) until the km 33, and only then, at km 34, I felt that it was a bit harder to sustain that pace so I softened a bit, not much, and I kept some strength to run a faster last 1.5 km to enjoy the last crowded streets.

Dublin_2018_pace

In the end, I clocked a net time of 3h55’15”, better than expected and with great feelings while running all along the race, as it was the case in 2016. It was my 19th marathon completed, easy to say today but not so on April 30th 2000 when I completed my first one in Madrid.

Dublin_2

With the 3h55’15”, I was again below the 4-hour mark, and finished in the 7181st place of 16236 finishers (see the diploma below), that is in the top 44%, just in the upper half. That time makes it my 10th best marathon, just in the median of the 19 I have completed.

Dublin_2018_certificate

Times_comparison

At the finish line, I changed clothes and waited for Jaime to take a picture with him and share the experiences of each other before going to our hotel. It may not have been the last time to run in Dublin.

Dublin_3

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