Sunday, 18 September 2011

Thanks, Google!

A few weeks ago I entered myself into the 2011 Die Burger cycle race in the road category, as well as the 2012 Cape Argus cycle tour. I’ve just bought a new Giant TCR road bike and the Burger will be my first race on a road bike, although I’ve already completed 2 Argus’s.

Being my first road race, I am fairly nervous about how it will pan out for me. As I see it, I have at least 3 problems:

  1. I have no idea (yet) how the bike will handle in a race. More specifically, I have no idea how I will handle being on the bike in a race. I’ve taken the Giant for a spin a couple of times so far and the one thing I keep marvelling at is how eager it is to go forward. I feel like I only need to breathe in hard in the saddle to make this wonder of manufacturing technology go forward. This is good news for me, but in the interests of self preservation I reserve the right to remain concerned.
  2. I am still technically a novice on a road bike. I haven’t changed a road tyre, and I only learnt what a presta valve is a few days ago, never mind leaning how to fix a puncture. If I have a technical I will in all likelihood be screwed.
  3. I haven’t ridden the course yet, so have no idea what to expect.
Problems 1 and 2 are easy to overcome with a little practice. Problem 3 requires a more energetic approach - or so I thought. One quiet evening a few days ago I had the brilliant idea of using Google, trusted friend it is, to help me out of this bind. With the race route open in one window and Google Earth open in another, a nifty screen-shot grabber at the ready and a blank word document ready and waiting, I was set. Painstakingly I plotted the entire course, carefully noting each major climb, intersection, landmark and straight. The plan went swimmingly, and after 2 hours I had a 5 page illustrated walk through. Nothing would take me by surprise...

Except the startling and unwelcome realisation that I’d plotted the entire route backwards.

Now, one would assume that this is an easy problem to overcome... Simply re-order the screen shots, et voila! But no, in my over-zealous state I’d made sure all of my carefully harvested images were low profile, with the horizon in view. Fail.
Screenshot Direction Fail.

A few numbed minutes and a face-palm later, I abandoned the project, and reverted to my old friend Google. Did he/she/it have any better solutions? No prizes for guessing...

Someone had had the same idea as me and not only tracked the route but magically created a Google Earth Tour of the entire course. Such was the magnitude of my appreciation for this benevolent soul, that I resolved then and there to share the news of this act of charity for all to see:

Now, somewhat vindicated and a little more prepared for that first race, my list of concerns is one item shorted. Too bad Google can’t help me out with the other items. Or can it...?

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