Leontien Zijlaard van Moorsel

Leontien Zijlaard van MoorselLeontien Zijlaard van Moorsel is one of the most successful and versatile female cyclists of modern times, competing in both track and road racing events. She was born in Boekel, the Netherlands in 1970. One of the best looking female riders both on the velodrome and in the peloton, she is well known for her make-up, lipstick and painted nails.

Leontien Zijlaard van MoorselBetween 1990 and 1993, she won 4 world championships. During that time she also won the French Tour de l’Aude Cycliste Féminin” twice before suffering from depression and anorexia nervosa in 2004. She then made a comeback in the late 90’s overcoming her mental ill-health to win a further 5 world championship races between 1998 and 2003. At the Sydney 2000 Olympics she was one of the most victorious athletes, winning three gold medals and one silver in various cycling disciplines. [Read more →]

Spinergy Stealth PBO 650c wheelset review.

Bikes of the art world. Bicycle Sculptures.First a brief word about 650c wheels – it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of 650c wheels. They fit smaller riders better. There is no toe overlap. And of course they can be built lighter and stronger than 700c wheels (or else with fewer spokes). So it’s disappointing to see Mavic, Shimano, Campagnolo, Easton, Reynolds, LEW racing, X-Treme, among others, all abandon the idea of 650c. Even zipp has all but halted their 650c rim production (only applying their latest technologies to their 700c lineup). So if you’re looking to buy a factory-built 650c wheelset, that basically leaves Spinergy, HED, Nimble and Corima (full carbon rims only). Zipp make two models, while American Classic and Rolf each make just one model of 650c wheel. Otherwise you will need to go the handbuilt route – or else there’s ebay. It seems the worst thing going for 650c wheels at the moment is lack of choice… Kudos to Spinergy for continuing to manufacture 650c rims and complete wheels.

Spinergy 650c and 700c wheels.Spinergy also supply their factory-built wheelsets in both 700 and 650c and with either shimano or campagnolo compatible freehub bodies. I doubt that the latter combination exceeds 0.1% of the market. Even so, they cater for it. [Read more →]

Should I split my blog?

Blog Cartoon: becoming a famous blogger.I’ve been umming and ahhing over the past five or six months about whether I should bisect this blog or not. As the number of categories has recently grown, the articles have since shifted away from the original cycling theme (in line with the main page) to more profound & controversial articles. [Read more →]

Life, the entropy killer.

A new definition of Life: any self-generating system that tends to reduce entropy.In the section labelled “Vida Enigmatica”, I talk about all aspects of life in general. I attempt to tackle all of the tough questions about societies and civilisation. But it’s recently occured to me that I haven’t discussed life itself. One of the most difficult questions to answer are “what is life?” and “what is the purpose of life?”.

I suppose that before we can effectively answer why is life here and what is it’s purpose, we’d better be sure about what life actually is. How can we possibly answer what the purpose of life is if we don’t even know what separates us from the non-living? The trouble is that whenever we attempt to answer what consitutes life, we arrive at all sorts of vague definitions of what life is, for example:

“the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body”
“a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings”
“an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction”
“the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.”
“the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, esp. metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment.”

There are many definitions of what consitutes “life”, but for every one of these sub-classifications, there are exceptions:

Adaptation to the environment. At what rate must life adapt for it to be considered alive? If we rapidly create an artificially toxic environment, no life form will be able to adapt in time and hence it will die. The same can be said for the “reaction to stimuli” argument. The entire Plant Kingdom is at a great disadvantage here – although they can adapt relatively quickly to their environment, plants can only react to stimuli very slowly. Viruses do not appear to react to anything. In fact, I suspect that “adaptation to the environment” and “reaction to external stimuli” are really disguised as the same thing, albeit at different rates of application. [Read more →]

Technology’s secret revenge.

Technology’s secret revenge.Some people claim that technology improves our lives by improving our standard of living. I certainly don’t deny that since we have less physical work to do, we now have more leisure time than ever before. Before I get any further, I should say that it is up to each of us to decide what we do in our leisure time and I have no business in commenting about that. What I would like to discuss here instead are the many side-effects of some recent advanced technologies…

As technology relentlessly progresses, the most obvious question that comes to mind: what happens to our long-standing face-to-face human interactions? I’m not merely refering to writing electronic e-mails to your friends or speaking with a relative over the telephone. There are many other human tasks besides communication which now take place with the ‘aid’ of technology. We join online social communities and make virtual friendships. We utilise virtual banking and online bill payments. We attempt to find real mates using virtual dating databases. We take part in virtual gaming entertainment and even participate in virtual sex.

Sometimes it seems as if our entire lives are mediated through technology. It appears to me that one of technologies’ secret aims is to over-ride all direct human-human interactions. Yes I realise that due to the internet we are in a sense ‘connected’ to more people than ever before. Yet we can’t talk to them all, so we have to narrow down our options. But is this a good or a bad thing? Lately, it seems we don’t have time to really talk to anybody. Have we already gone too far? Have we become victims of our own high-technology? I believe that far from connecting us, technology is making us more and more anti-social.

Below, I’ve commented on some of the most recent technologies and their possible negative consequences… [Read more →]

How to “Live your Dream”.

How to be a success and “Live your Dream”.One of my goals when I was a teenager was that I never wanted to wear a suit and tie. I resented the very idea. It was too conformist. Too conventional. Illogical & impractical I also used to think. In that sense, I’m living my dream by never having worn one, although financially speaking, this was definitely not the wisest career move. As far as finances go, I’ve since realised it’s much easier said than done to make your own money.

It goes without saying that I like to make my own choices. I choose what my priorities are, when and how I perform tasks. I am my own boss. What I do not like in the feeling of insecurity. I’m living alright, but the dream has not come easily. In fact, I’m not 100% convinced that it’s even arrived!

When I was younger I got suckered into starting a Ph.D. Worse still, I was persuaded to continue until the end. It took 5 rather miserable years to finish. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my undergraduate Materials Science degree immensely, but I liken the Doctorate to being tortured in prison. I needed a change.

“Have you ever attempted to be yourself
when everybody wants you to be someone else?” – Powderfinger

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Road Riding in the Mountains.

What road bikers seek. Road riding in the mountains. In search of the perfect bicycle ride.I think I have an idea of what road riders seek.

What they are looking for more than anything is to be as far away from civilisation as possible (just like mountainbikers), but with the knowledge that if they need anything, they can have access to it. That might mean that extra water, mechanical backup, etc is only a phone call away. It’s kind of impossible, but there you have it. [Read more →]