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Running around

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 19:53

If Tim can report his movements around New York, so can I! ;-) Sadly, due to Nokia deprecating my still-quite-new N95 phone by not allowing me to use their service anymore, I won't be able to share my routes with you – But anyway…

This morning I decided to take a quick run to start off the day on Riverside Park (the park where we had dinner yesterday). I went South for about 3Km and headed back (for, you guessed right, a grand total of 6Km), and decided that 45 minutes of exercising are enough to declare my day started - As I started at ~8:15, it was getting warm (specially when running under the sun). I am quite heath-intolerant; it's not unpleasant at all, but I will try to run earlier on future days.

Riverside is a long and narrow park. I ran Southwards by the lower trail, in the park itself, but ran Northwards by the upper trail, in the wide sidewalk between the street and the park. The way South was also way flatter, while the way back goes up and down repeatedly.

I don't think I will run on a daily basis, but that will be determined by my mood when I open my eyes in the morning ;-) Anyway, riverside is a very nice run, and I expect to head North. I still am not back to running ~10Km, so I won't do the Central Park trail Tim did - But I'll surely go run there as well a bit. And rent a bike one of this days for a ~2hr morning ride, of course!

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5000 Km

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 07:34

In an amazing but meaningless feat of synchronicity, Toxicore's post led me to check how much distance have I done while excercising – I have mainly done this cycling, although some running also comes into play. Turns out I was just about to break the same mark he did. From my Nokia Sportstracker records:

Before breaking the 5000 Km mark, yesterday at noon:
Yesterday excercise records, at noon

After breaking the 5000 Km mark, yesterday at night:
Yesterday excercise records, at night

So, following Bubulle's style... If I have done 5000 Km since January 2008, when do you think I should reach 5500? 6000? 7000? Infinity and beyond?

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Lets all get running

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 04/11/2010 - 16:26

There is no clear reason, but for many months already, I have almost given up running – Which is a shame, as I enjoy it so much. And yes, I can talk a lot about why not, but –outside of one seemingly stupid point– there is really no reason.

And yes, I have taken on cycling, although on a very different fashion: Cycling is by far not as good as an exercise as running – Yes, cycling for ~1h on average 3 times a week has kept my body from becoming sedentary again, but I do feel some increased clumsiness and a undeniable weight gain that I don't want to allow.

I said there is one seemingly stupid point: Shoes. My running shoes are around two year old, and they are an important factor on me not running. Why? Because they started giving me blisters at ~5Km. And my shoe size is beyond what is considered as normal by Mexican standards – European 44-45 (US 10½-11). Shoe-shopping is always frustrating and very off-putting for me, as instead of what most people do (go to one store, ask for their favorite n pairs on their size, test them on, pay, be happy), I follow almost the opposite process (go to n stores, ask for whatever they have on my size, test it on, pray, pay). Of course, for some people, entering many stores and checking what's offered at each is a thrill by itself. For me, that sounds as thrilling as visiting the dentist for an endodontic treatment.

Oh, and to make things even better, I am quite low on cash. Scarcity economics explain that if a given good is hard to find, it will probably be more expensive. So, while many people in Mexico buy ~US$30 shoes, I often get to pay ~US$90. Fun, hah?

Anyway, I had a short semi-vacation to Argentina. I decided to kill this excuse, and went shoe-shopping. Fearsome memories sprang in my mind when the first store said they didn't have anything right for me. But they pointed to a second store, one block away, where I found (I was even able to choose between several models!) a nice pair of Olimpikus.

In 2008, I was routinely running slightly over 10Km. Today I went out to get back the feeling, and made a not-so-great-but-still-satisfying 4Km. And upon arriving back home, I read Christian's chronicle on his Paris Marathon run — Well, only 10% of what my fellow DD achieved – But I am definitively back on track. I expect to make some time to get a run, at least three times a week, trying to push my limit at least back to the nice spot I was at two years ago.

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Foldable «Universo» bike

Submitted by gwolf on Sat, 06/06/2009 - 21:40

Today I went to the La Merced area to finally buy a foldable bike. There were basically four options: Benotto's 20" Utopia, Alubike 16" Foldingbike, Alubike 24" and a custom-made bike at a smaller store, Bici Universo. In Mexico it is also possible to buy a Brompton, although they are not available in larger stores and their pricing is prohibitive. Sergio Mendoza advised me to look for the Dahon bikes at Benotto, but they have discontinued them in favor of their own making.

I ended up buying the Bici Universo one. I must say this: I sincerely hope not to regret this option — I got this bike because neither of the other ones satisfied me, and this one was at about two thirds the price (MX$1800, plus some extras I requested, MX$2100 — That means, US$187 or €113).

First of all, after thinking about it for a while, I decided I didn't want a larger, more normal wheel — The Alubike 24 (which I'd have to build shopping piece by piece, as they had only the frame for sale — Would be a good ocassion to learn more about the whole process!) is basically a great regular bike you can put in a regular car trunk, but is still too large for taking it into public transport or lugging along when travelling, by bus or by plane. Besides, the handlebar1 is not foldable. So it is basically as portable as this venerable Compaq.

The Benotto's manubrium does fold, but the bike does not hold itself together when folded, it is not stable. You have to explicitly keep it folded. Not exactly comfortable.

I had tested the smaller Alubike at another bike store closer to my home. It feels a bit freer than the Universo one (I'll get to it soon), but still feels a bit kludgy... And at a price about MX$1000 higher, I decided against it.

Now, why am I wary with the Universo? Because after all... It is just a bike for kids age 4-7 and 7-12 (?) cut in half, and with a hinge soldered on:

Bici Universo - 4 to 12 year old

It is also a heavy bike (I have not weighed it yet, but comparative guesstimates puts it over the Alubikes), so it might be problematic when travelling... I'll see when in Nicaragua in a couple of weeks ;-) I have yet a couple of adjustments to make to it, but I am very looking forward to travelling with my bike on. I hope it turns out to be comfortable.

And in any case, I can —of course!— donate it to my nephews... who are in the right age group.

Some photos:

  • 1. the original word I used, manubrium, seems strange, but that's Google's suggestion — The bar you take with your hands to steer the bike
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How (and how not) to create cyclist awareness

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 17:46

Michael blogs about Critical Mass.
What is Critical Mass in case you are too lazy to go to Michael's or to the Wikipedia? A cyclist-awareness movement, showing how bikers are safer (i.e. more visible) when there are more of them. The (dis)organizational nature of this movement (at least according to Wikipedia's information) seems quite fun and interesting.
However, I have to oppose what Michael says is a strong point of CM in Austria - At least, given my country's culture.
People who don't bike often say we have the least bike-aware culture, and that this city must be like hell to cyclists. It is not - Mexicans tend to believe this is the worst place possible on many accounts, and I'm happy to prove the contrary. I do feel that bringing people out to the streets, as our local government's Muévete en bici program pushes, is completely right: It shows people how fast they can move in real streets in the city, taking away the fear of being run over by a bus, and people will gradually understand we can all excercise the right to use the streets without polluting, and gives us a better idea on how to behave with traffic (even if the traffic is made of fellow bikers) around us. I know this program works - At least, because it worked on me. Whenever possible, I go everywhere in this (not small or friendly by any measure) city by bike.
Anyway - What criticism do I have for Michael's post? That he states they:

Bicycling ludicrously slowly for a good hour, we managed to claim some fairly busy streets while many people tried to get home by car.

IMHO, what we should be doing is to demand the drivers to respect us, not to make them want to run us over. They should not be driven into hating bikers because of the chaos they generate - It is terrible to sit in a car for two hours when you usually take 30 minutes. There is simply no justification for that.
When I took part of the World Naked Bike Ride, some people wanted to take all four lanes of Reforma. Fortunately, reason prevailed, and we took only the lane we were assigned. And we should keep that in mind! Whenever possible, we should protest and make ourselves heard, but without interfering, without damaging, other people's lives!
Oh, by the way: If anybody in Mexico wants to have some nice hours of healthy fun: I am still pondering whether to join, as it is a huge effort, but I am very inclined to do so. Next week, November 9, we will go by bike from Mexico City's Zócalo to Pachuca. We face 95Km and close to four hours. The road to Pachuca is basically flat, and going in a large group is a great experience. Hope to see you there!

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Free Software and the Democratic Construction of the Society

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 10/24/2008 - 23:52

Last Wednesday I went for the first time in many years to FES Iztacala, the UNAM faculty where I worked for four years (1999-2003) and where I have most learnt and advanced in my career so far. I have a very special spot in my heart for Iztacala :-)
But it was not just a nostalgy drive - In no small part, I had not visited Iztacala -despite several invitations- because... It is really far away, in Tlalnepantla, Northern Mexico City (while I live in the South, just by UNAM). It takes me approximately 1.5 hours to get there via public transportation, and I would not venture less than 1 hour travel time by car. So... Having nothing to lose, I decided to go by bike - you can look at my route to get there (OpenStreetMap, SportsTracker) and safely back home (OpenStreetMap, SportsTracker). Some people I have talked with think it was a crazy thing to do - No, I don't feel that, by a long shot. A 26Km ride in slightly under two hours, and back. People insist on thinking that biking in such a large and chaotic city as Mexico is unsafe, dangerous, suicidal... I deeply disagree. Cycling is fun and got me to my destination in almost the same time I would have made by bus. And no, I would not buy four liters of gasoline just to cross my city.
Anyway, I am also happy about the reason that actually got me to go to Iztacala - I submitted a talk+paper I prepared together with Alejandro Miranda to Congreso Internacional Software Libre y Democratización del Conocimiento organized by Universidad Politécnica Salesiana in Quito, Ecuador. This conference is quite different to those I am used to, as it is quite more formal and academic; it is mainly targetted at social scientists working on understanding our movement. We prepared a talk called Software Libre y la Construcción Democrática de la Sociedad - which was accepted, to my amazement.
Neither Alejandro nor I were unable to travel to Ecuador to give the talk, so we arranged to present it via a videoconference call - Which was based on Iztacala. A nice session, although quite different to what I am used to. Our presentation was on a panel setting, under the global Ethical and political dimensions in the Free Software culture, with 20 minutes to present the topic (I am used to preparing one- or two-hour talks), and it was frankly rushed... We "met" with some friends (or were able at least to greet them shortly after the talk) who attended live to the conference, and... Well, all in all, it was one of those good, interesting experiences I would surely repeat. And besides, I have several things pending to show off about my current work to my Iztacalan fellows ;-)

Freedom itches

Submitted by gwolf on Fri, 06/13/2008 - 20:43

In this Free Software movement we have many mottos - One of which, describing what motivates us to work writing code, is scratch where it itches.
Of course, I could not keep it to myself - Almost a week ago, I took part of the World Naked Bike Ride. What I didn't tell you... Is that it became obvious I cannot reach most of by back - And it's because I'm mostly careless. When the WNBR started, it was still quite cloudy, even starting to rain... so I was mostly careless.
If you opened the newspaper PDF I attached to my previous post, you'll surely remember (not an easy sight to get out of your head, I guess) I had painted on my back "Vehículo libre de emisiones" - Emissions-free vehicle (and yes, it's strictly true: My bike is zero emissions. The animal riding it might not be... But that's a different story). Add incomplete sunblock to the equation, and...

Were it not for the poor lighting conditions under which I took the photo, you'd clearly appreciate the words "libre de" on my back.
And... Well, one week later, my freedom itches.

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Nekkid city - yet again!

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 23:01

After thinking it over a couple of times, I did it. I told you here about the World Naked Bike Ride. Thousands of bikers, in over 130 cities around the world, voiced their concerns about the lack of caution drivers have towards us, about the abuse of fossil fuels for urban transportation, about the easy we are not to be seen. Many among us have been run over by careless drivers (in my case, no consequences except a broken helmet - And yes, MJ: although the impact was on the flat surface of the road and not on the kerb, the strength of the impact still amazes me). We feel naked against the motorized traffic. So, the WNBR decides to show it by taking the streets of our many cities - Naked.
It was a completely different experience of the massive naked Spencer Tunick photo, as we were there not just to show our freedom and enjoy, but to get the people to look at us. There were some of the same elements of comradeship and trust we had there (and, of course, that many of us learnt in Finland when we became GNUdists at DebConf 5's unforgettable saunas).
Anyway... I did not make the full route (I rode Chapultepec-Zócalo-Diana, ~15Km, but missed the Diana-Gandhi-Cibeles part, maybe some 5Km) as I had an appointment I was already late for. But it was a unique, great experience. If you are interested, we got a fair share of press coverage. Oh, and I must say: I am famous now. And in my favorite newspaper, nothing less :).

Running, biking, and the like

Submitted by gwolf on Tue, 06/10/2008 - 10:25

Bubulle's improvements on running make me envy him. Of course, I'm nowhere close to Dirk's (or for that matter, I can only hope never to be as insane as Mauricio).
I must admit that I have heavily reduced my running. This is in no small part due to the fact that it's not easy to find decently-priced running shoes of the right size in Mexico - But well, that's only an excuse after all. But yes, if I run over 7Km with my current shoes, I get blisters, invariably. And I'm a bit short on money right now...
Partly, I've been moving my preferred excercise to biking - I don't do heavy biking, of course, but I do try to get at least 15Km every day (and as I bike to and from work, I only have to take small extra detours to reach that point - although splitting an excercise session in several sub-sessions is very close to cheating on myself) and at least a longer, continuous, 25-30Km ride every weekend. But yes, I've lowered my rythm.
Also, I'm running less because of where I am currently living - Very close to my usual area, but quite a bit more hilly, and it has made my knees ache every now and then.... And by far, it is not as nice and friendly area.
I do hope to work on this - And, of course, the Debconf Morning Jog is one of the events I most look forward to. Running in Edinburgh was, after all, my favorite and most productive way to get to know the city.

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Would you mind a quick ride?

Submitted by gwolf on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 12:25

May 1st is a holiday in many countries around the world - It is, at least, here in Mexico. So, what's a man to do when faced with really-crappy network connectivity at home?
Yesterday I had dinner with Gigio, and among many other things, we talked about the Ciclotón, which I've only done twice. And on my way back home, I crossed (twice) the path of a group of ~100 cyclist going over Colonia Roma.
Anyway, whatever the reason, I woke up very well in the mood for a nice 20km ride:

Now, lets get the day started!
[update] I was told about a worldwide nudist cycling activity, the World Naked Bike Ride. Their page states their main motivator:

We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignit and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.

Of course, Mexican groups take part in this interesting activity - Ciclomarcha nudista.
Will I be there? I don't know - Quite probably, yes. I first thought of it as a joke, and as a dangerous activity. But, come think of it, I am a move-by-bicycle-in-the-largest-city-in-the-world activist. I have been knocked over or shit-scared (and fortunately not more than that) by careless drivers, but than won't force me back into driving my car when not needed. And this kind of activities, which do get their good share of exposure, need all the participants - I hope to be there, June 7 12:00PM, at the beginning of Mexico City Ciclopista (FFCC de Cuernavaca esq. Ejército nacional, Polanco) Chapultepec's Lions' entrance, at the crossing of Lieja and Reforma.

Share the awareness. There are very good promotional pictures. And collective nudist activities are quite fun, experiences to remember for life.

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Yet Another Ciclotón

Submitted by gwolf on Sun, 01/27/2008 - 23:44

Call me reiterative, but yes, it is this time of the month again: Last Sunday. Today we went cycling to my city's Ciclotón. Although Nadezhda already took part in the August 2007 ciclotón, I was flying in from Europe that day. When I did the Ciclotón in October, she was in Monterrey. Then in December, Rodrigo reminded us that we missed it. So, this is the first time I do the Ciclotón with Nadezhda! (To my defense: Yes, I sent a SMS to Rodrigo... But too late - He probably didn't plan it on time, so we just didn't meet once again).

And what, am I going to come and brag each time I take my bike out for a longer-than-usual ride? (40Km is no small feat. Well, not for me at least!) Probably not. But if you remember, I just got a new toy, and I can now prove it to you all:

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Yay, new gadget!

Submitted by gwolf on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 08:25
A week ago, I got my fourth cell phone so far. This is the first time, however, that I pay for it - even though the first one I had was a very nice smartphone for its time (basically, a not-really-well-integrated Palm Vx and a bulky phone very worthy back in its time. Anyway - Some months ago, I decided I wanted a Wifi-able phone, in order not to need to carry around my laptop for simple tasks such as checking my mail. Shortly after I started looking for phones which fit my needs, I found Nokia's N95. The map-maniac in me found it had a GPS, and... Well, it just became matter of waiting until my phone company brought it to the Mexican market (as I paid about half its street-price... Y'know, points for customer loyalty, blah blah).
Anyway... I've been extensively playing with my new toy, and although I am still often frustrated by Symbian's so very-very-propietary-minded OS and general culture (it's amazing the number of for-a-fee very simple applications!), I'm very happy. So far, my favorite application (and, of course, the one that made me jump for it) is Nokia's Sports Tracker. While it does have some issues (particularly the web application - at least its interaction with firefIceWeasel is somewhat buggy; it abuses AJAX interaction and some pieces of information are just not linkable, they lack a proper URL), I'm delighted at using it - tracking my theoretically daily excercise sessions, be they excercising per se or my bike rides to work, linking photos taken during those sessions, tagging them to the point and moment they were taken (although, I must admit, it is awkward to take photos while running - And next to impossible while biking, of course).
Yes, to many this is not so impressive... But it is really the toy I was looking for.
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