Cycling in 2014

My goal for the year was to cycle around 1400 miles and I managed to ride 1236 miles, climbed 21 thousands feet, in 86.5 hours, which is pretty good even if I say so myself. I also targeted to complete two cycling events which I managed as well.

NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour

After 2+ months of preparation, I finished the NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour in May.

The Start
The Start
Continue reading “Cycling in 2014”

Making it my own

One of the great thing about owning a piece of sport equipment is customization, to make it uniquely mine. A bike offers many ways of customization and here are mine. Some of them are more customizing my riding experience vs. customizing the bike itself. (I haven’t included pictures of the mundane stuff like foot pump, spare tube, CO2 canister, tire repair kit, and saddle bag)

Currently I’m waiting for two more items to arrive; Camelbak Podium Big Chill Bottle and Serfas Fissure Jersey.

Things that are on my shopping list in the future; road tires, better saddle, and winter clothing.

Name sticker with country flag
Name sticker with country flag

Bontrager water bottle cage
Bontrager water bottle cage

Topeak iPhone mount on stem
Topeak iPhone mount on stem

Topeak Ride Case II iPhone 5 mount
Topeak Ride Case II iPhone 5 mount

Pearl iZUMi Men's X-Alp Seek IV Cycling Shoe
Pearl iZUMi Men’s X-Alp Seek IV Cycling Shoe

Shimano PD-M520L pedals
Shimano PD-M520L pedals

Heart Rate Monitor
Heart Rate Monitor

Wahoo Speed & Cadence sensor
Wahoo Speed & Cadence sensor

Blackburn front and back lights
Blackburn front and back lights

Giro gloves
Giro gloves

Bell XLV helmet
Bell XLV helmet

Oakley M-Frame with red iridium and black iridium lenses
Oakley M-Frame with red iridium and black iridium lenses

8+ miles

Rode over 8 miles for first time yesterday. Wasn’t as hard as I thought. I’m now less apprehensive about Sunday’s 18 miles ride.

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Definitely need to get pedals & shoes soon.

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Cycling update

It’s been two proper morning rides and I’ve enjoyed them so far. I am able to ride further than I thought. Initially I thought I can only ride about 5 miles at most on the flat but I’ve already rode 6.5 miles with slight climbs today without hitting the wall. Hopefully I can ride 10+ miles soon so I can start getting some serious cardio workout.

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Blue Angels at NAS Oceana

Ever since I’ve watched the Blue Angels on Discover Channel (A Year in the Life of Blue Angels), I’ve always wanted to visit an air show with them demonstrating their aerobatics skills.

A few months back, we found out that the Blue Angels will be at the NAS Oceana down in Virginia Beach for the Ocean Air Show last weekend. So Leah and I decided to drive down there on Friday (with a stop at Annapolis to see the US Naval Academy). The air show was fantastic with non-stop aerobatics displays from 10AM to 4PM with the Blue Angels closing out with an hour-long demonstration. The most memorable display, however, was not when we were at the stands. Rather it was at the beginning of the day we were already in the naval air base but still in our car, in a queue to the parking lot. We were in the middle of the tarmac and a F-16C circled around to make a low-level, fast approach to the stands from the side. The flight path took it directly above us so we were treated with watching the F-16C flying towards us at 400mph+ at around 150-200 feet then passed us at 90 degree from right to left. The sound was deafening but glorious as it flew pass us overhead, its engine exhaust glowing with afterburner shooting flame out.

Knowing that we don’t get many opportunity to see the Blue Angels, I’ve rented a long telephoto lens (100-400mm) from LensRentals.com and managed to get lots of great aerial photos (570+). The best ones are on Flickr but here are a few from the collection.

F/A-18 in Russian paint scheme

F/A-18F Super Hornet in transonic regime

Blue Angels F/A-18 in tight turn

My Golf GTI

Ever since I bought the Golf GTI back in March I always planned to take photos of it with nice background. It finally took Leah being stranded in the UK by volcano ash and a burst of sunny weather today to get me to do it.

All of them are taken using my Canon 50D with 50mm f1.8, handheld. This is also the first time I used Aperture 3 in a more in-depth editing role. The brush-in adjustment feature is absolutely awesome!

The whole collection is on Flickr but here are a sample:

Front view

Rear view

GTI badge

Fun with digital photography

Recently I’ve been diving into High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. Initially I used Bracketeer to combine three photos that had been taken with different exposure (-2, 0, +2 stops). But very quickly I became unsatisfied with the output from Bracketeer. After a little research, it turns out Bracketeer only fuse photos with different exposures. Whereas other HDR software also perform tone mapping. After listening to a TWiP podcast about HDR and read through the HDR tutorial by Trey Ratcliff, I decided to try Photomatix Pro last week to see what different result I would get.

To demostrate the difference between Bracketeer and Photomatix, here are two identical photos processed by each software with the original exposure on the left:

As you can see, the result from Photomatix is so much more natural looking (though it can also produce extremely psychadelic version) than Bracketeer. And more importantly, I get to this very good photo very easily, whereas the options in Bracketeer are extremely technical and confusing.

Both are commercial software with Bracketeer a little bit less expensive than Photomatix. But judging from the output quality, I would thoroughly recommend going straight to Photomatix if you want to experiment with HDR.

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