Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Magic of Metric

I used kilometers to track distances on this trip for a couple of reasons. The supposed reason: because that is how they measure distance in the Netherlands. The real reason: distances sound so much further in kilometers. In any case, you get way more exercise when you cycle in kilometers since you cycle so many more of them, right?

A Metric-to-Miles Tutorial
A kilometer is kind of a mini-mile, while a mile is sort of a super-sized kilometer. The kilometer was developed by the French, as a solution to the problem of things being so much closer together in Europe. By using kilometers, Europeans get more elbow room on their crowded continent. It is still unclear why Canada adopted the kilometer when they have large North American distances to cover.

Here is some more or less useless scientific info on the kilometer: "The kilometre (American spelling: kilometer), symbol km[1] is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres and is therefore exactly equal to the distance travelled by light in free space in 1 299,792.458 of a second."

That description suggests some questions to inquisitive minds. For example, who really cares how far light travels in one bazillionth of second? And what is this "free space" thing? Does light travel slower when it leaves "free space" and has to go through a Construction or School Zone? Finally, if the kilometer is based on how far light travels... can we really be certain about kilometer distances after dark?

Here is more practical info, brought to you by Footloose Fietser:
  • If a kilometer was this long: __________
  • Then a mile would be this long: ________________

For this trip, here's the count in miles:
  • By bike... 527 miles
  • By train... 819 miles
  • By foot... 124 miles
  • By boat... 38 miles
  • The grand total... 1508 miles

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bike / train / foot / boat trip : 2428 kilometers

For many reasons, I bounced around by train quite a bit -- weather, joining Katie at airport, moving from biking spot to biking spot, returning to origin point by train some days when I didn't want to do entire round trip by bike, etc.

Based on time-in-the-saddle versus time-on-the-train-seat, this was clearly a bike trip! Trains go a lot faster than bikes, so I spent many more hours on the bike. Based on distance covered, it was another story: 848 kilometers by bike, 1319 kilometers by train. Makes it a bike / train trip.

Based on a sore-feet measure, it was another story! There were four or five days that had lots of walking, especially in Amsterdam and in Maastricht, but also shorter hikes in Haarlem, Leiden, Roermond, Otterlo, etc. It's a guess, but I figure 200+ kilometers total walking distance, with seriously tired feet a couple days. So, a bike / train / foot trip.

And based on a sheer this-is-a-lovely-way-to-travel measure, the boat distance of 61 kilometers was some of the very nicest distance. So, bike / train / foot / boat trip!

All in distance number: 2428 kilometers.

My friend Kelly just pointed out to me that the very first Tour de France in 1903 was exactly 2428 kilometers long. Interesting coincidence!

Monday, July 12, 2010

848 kilometers by bike

Finally sat down with maps, GPS, notes, etc to figure out how many kilometers I covered: 848 by bicycle, more or less. Can't be certain to the exact meter... I didn't always have GPS switched on, so had to guesstimate a few of the short rides... but it's right within a couple kilometers.

848 kilometers! It isn't to the moon and back, although a couple days felt that way... but it is a pretty good distance considering the bike is designed mainly for short-distance daily commuting.

Will figure out other distances (boat, train, foot) sometime soon.