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2011 Giro d’Italia

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From Wired

L’Étape du Tour 2011: A Double Act

Via Rapha, by Joe Hall

On Monday 11th July a 109km route (68 miles) will take etapistes over the Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and the Alpe d’Huez. Three legendary mountain passes that will test even the most hardened grimpeurs.

Étape number two, which takes place on Sunday 17th July, has less overall elevation but is a greater distance at 208 km (130 miles) and will be a very demanding course. As of today you can register to ride L’Etape du Tour 2011 here.

Bonne chance.

2010 Le Tour de France Data Visualization

By Jerome Daksiewicz

Visualization of all teams and riders at the 2010 TdF including riders countries of origin, team bike sponsorship, individual stage winners, the route map and a list of all TdF winners.

Guardian UK Interactive 2010 Le Tour de France Map

From guardian.co.uk

Col du Tourmalet

From Cycling News:

Feared Pyrenean climb honoured with two ascents at 2010 Tour

Scaled twice in this year’s Tour de France, the legendary Col du Tourmalet climb has been part of the race since 1910 when it was first introduced in stage 10 by race director Henri Desgrange as the capstone to what would be referred to as the “Circle of Death”: the Pyrenean foursome of the Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and the Col d’Aubisque.

Fifty-nine brave souls set out that July 21st morning to tackle the monstrous stage and the Col du Tourmalet’s mystique was born. Following are 30 facts about the iconic Col du Tourmalet‘s role in Tours past. Here’s hoping another 100 years are in store for the mythical mountain.

National Geographic Interactive Power Grid

7000 Miles Non-Stop, and No Pretzels

From The NY Times, by Carl Zimmer:

In 1976, the biologist Robert E. Gill Jr. came to the southern coast of Alaska to survey the birds preparing for their migrations for the winter. One species in particular, wading birds called bar-tailed godwits, puzzled him deeply. They were too fat.

“They looked like flying softballs,” said Mr. Gill.

At the time, scientists knew that bar-tailed godwits spend their winters in places like New Zealand and Australia. To get there, most researchers assumed, the birds took a series of flights down through Asia, stopping along the way to rest and eat. After all, they were land birds, not sea birds that could dive for food in the ocean. But in Alaska, Mr. Gill observed, the bar-tailed godwits were feasting on clams and worms as if they were not going to be able to eat for a very long time.

“I wondered, why is that bird putting on that much fat?” he said.

Mr. Gill wondered if the bar-tailed godwit actually stayed in the air for a much longer time than scientists believed. It was a difficult idea to test, because he could not actually follow the birds in flight. For 30 years he managed as best he could, building a network of bird-watchers who looked for migrating godwits over the Pacific Ocean. Finally, in 2006, technology caught up with Mr. Gill’s ideas. He and his colleagues were able to implant satellite transmitters in bar-tailed godwits and track their flight.

The transmitters sent their location to Mr. Gill’s computer, and he sometimes stayed up until 2 in the morning to see the latest signal appear on the Google Earth program running on his laptop. Just as he had suspected, the bar-tailed godwits headed out over the open ocean and flew south through the Pacific. They did not stop at islands along the way. Instead, they traveled up to 7,100 miles in nine days — the longest nonstop flight ever recorded. “I was speechless,” Mr. Gill said.

Since then, scientists have tracked a number of other migrating birds, and they are beginning now to publish their results. Those results make clear that the bar-tailed godwit is not alone. Other species of birds can fly several thousand miles nonstop on their migrations, and scientists anticipate that as they gather more data in the years to come, more birds will join these elite ranks.

“I think it’s going to be a number of examples,” said Anders Hedenström of Lund University in Sweden.

As more birds prove to be ultramarathoners, biologists are turning their attention to how they manage such spectacular feats of endurance. Consider what might be the ultimate test of human endurance in sports, the Tour de France: Every day, bicyclists pedal up and down mountains for hours. In the process, they raise their metabolism to about five times their resting rate.

The bar-tailed godwit, by contrast, elevates its metabolic rate between 8 and 10 times. And instead of ending each day with a big dinner and a good night’s rest, the birds fly through the night, slowly starving themselves as they travel 40 miles an hour.

“I’m in awe of the fact that birds like godwits can fly like this,” said Theunis Piersma, a biologist at the University of Groningen.

Graphics by ERIN AIGNER, JONATHAN CORUM and SERGIO PEÇANHA. Read the rest, here.

Maps and Propaganda

From more intelligent life by Alix Christie:

The hundred or so maps on view at the British Library reveal the perennial human obsession with finding one’s place in the world.

As we grow ever more disembodied in virtual space, it is enlightening to consider the nature and purpose of maps. The curators at the British Library recently sifted through 26,000 of the 4.5m that make up its collection—the world’s largest. The hundred or so they selected to show, most for the first time in public, reveal the perennial human obsession with finding one’s place in the world.

Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art offers an array of milestones, including the first showing of Henry VIII’s map of Italy since his reign and the first American map made by the colonists with the Prime Meridian set at Philadelphia. The largest bound atlas in the world is here (the six-foot Klencke Atlas, gift of Dutch merchants to Charles II of England), as is the tiniest, created for Queen Mary’s dollhouse. This dazzling display of mainly European cartography from antiquity to the cold war is presented in galleries set up like a royal palace, with exhibits leading successively to the figurative and literal centre of these bygone worlds. The show coincides with two BBC documentary programmes—”The Beauty of Maps” and “Mapping the World” (available for a limited time online)—and runs through September 19th.

These elaborate maps are reflections of power and standing. In medieval and Renaissance mappa mundi, God sat atop the world; the monarch sat before it, accepting fealty. From Venice to Great Britain, a map’s patron placed itself squarely at the centre of its graphic empire. All is propaganda. One intriguing modern map shows Hitler’s plan to swallow chunks of Poland and the Sudetenland as early as 1935; revealed too soon, it was withdrawn and hastily recast.

These globes and charts also reveal the impulse, old as man, to hold the gathered knowledge of the world in one’s hands. To describe is to possess, preserve: for centuries maps served as visual encyclopaedias, storing what is known in one great annotated document. This show is a rebuttal to those who view maps as mere geographical tools. Indeed, a wealth of information is encrypted not just in landmasses, but in the artwork that fills the borders and blanks, says Peter Barber, the show’s curator. In some cases, map illustrations are the only remaining depictions of lost royal palaces and peoples.

For all our digital innovations, “many of the ways that we communicate visually haven’t changed,” Barber says. A map of the lost duchy of Pomerania inscribes not just the realm, but the whole ducal family, every town and coat of arms—even, drilling down further, each kind of fish that swims its waters—in data boxes built into its borders like some kind of scripted hyperlink. Two contemporary maps—one of London, another of the artist Grayson Perry—serve up idiosyncratic current data in these classic forms, and are sought by City bankers just as avidly as the gilded maps that wealthy merchants once hung on their walls.

Above all, these objects are seductively beautiful. Such lush watercolours help to sweeten the bitterness of a disputed border or contentious landmark. For example, the port of Dover is depicted as the graceful mouth of Britain in a bid to fund breakwaters necessary to protect it. Digital maps today may zoom in on each tree and house, endlessly updating our social networks on the go. But to eyes beguiled by these historic maps, the landscape of one created by Google feels shallow. To Barber, it’s the “emotive power of place” that this exhibit celebrates, along with the consoling thought that there is more to maps—and the world—than GPS. ­

Picture credit: Diogo Homem, A Chart of the Mediterranean Sea, 1570 (top); America, Sive Quartae Orbis Parties, Nova et Exactissima Description, 1562; Pierre Desceliers, World Map, 1550, all details courtesy of the British Library.

Giro d’Italia 2010 Route Map & Data

From Steephill.tv.