Sunday, November 15, 2009

Doha: England - Brazil

Whew, it has been quite a first weekend in Doha.

Yesterday was the century ride (blog entry).

Tonight, I attended the sold-out England - Brazil soccer match in the 50,000 seat Khalifa International Stadium, ticketing courtesy of my friend Majd Sakr.

It's a gorgeous looking stadium:

Here is the view from the 500 Rials ($140) seats we got:

Yup, a little too far away to see the faces of the players despite my recent iLasik surgery.

For the second half, we ended up in some minor-VIP seating area. Free juice and a big difference in terms of viewing:

The game? It was 1-0 to Brazil and we unluckily missed the only goal just after half-time due to going for free juice. It was a friendly and both teams had already qualified for the World Cup in South Africa, so neither team had very much at stake. Still, it was fairly obvious Brazil was the better team. They scored a goal, hit the post and missed a penalty. England barely had a look in at goal.

The stadium is part of the Doha Sports City Complex built for the 2006 Asian Games.

Next to the stadium is the 300m tall Aspire Tower shown here. (About the same height as the Tour Eiffel in Paris.)

Also, next to it is a large shopping mall (Villagio) - not shown here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A century in Doha

A century in Doha.. no, I've actually only been here about 5 days...

Unlikely though it may seem, there is a bike club here called Qatar Chain Reaction. Today, November 13th, was their 2009 Century Ride. That's 100 miles (160 km). Hell of a way to see the country, see route below:

I haven't actually biked much since 2007, the year I began this blog.

(That year I did the Pactour Elite Transcontinental (blog entry) and a 600k in Southern AZ (blog entry).)

My annual mileage has dropped off a cliff since then, partially due to not having goals in cycling anymore. Also, having spent Fall in Tokyo, I was worried about (lack of) acclimatization to the Persian Gulf area. It might not be wise to put my body through 100 miles as the first meaningful sporting activity since getting here 5 days ago. (The desert should always command one's respect.)

On the other hand, there is s the romantic idea of a century ride. From time-to-time, I still smile wistfully about halcyon days of back-to-back, stunning beautiful Fall centuries in NJ, PA and NY, when I used to live in the Princeton NJ area.

Fast forward to nearly 2010, and I'm "signed up" to ride a century along the Persian Gulf with my new-for-2009 travel bike, a Bike Friday (see entry). How exotic is that?

How does that Supertramp song go?

It was an early morning yesterday, I was up before the dawn...

Well, I got up at 4am. Arrived at the parking lot at 5:30am. Fortunately, it's November and the temperatures won't be greater than 30C in the shade. (But, of course in the desert, there is no shade)...

(The sun peeks out above the horizon. It's around 6am.)
I have my friend Majd Sakr to thank for suggesting the ride and lending me the helmet.

Seems like there were about 50 riders of all nationalities (due to the multicultural expat society that is Qatar). Also there were Qatar national team junior members. It was surprisingly well organized. There is nothing out there. Volunteers handed out bottles of water at 3 locations along the route.

Ride report?

Well, I started off staying with the lead pack. There was a lead vehicle and a police escort. They were _moving_, so at mile 20 I knew my time was limited, so I put my head up front, took my token pull and then dropped off.

After being shelled, I got picked up by a 2nd group and rode on and off until mile 85, at which point it was hot enough that I felt cooked Tandoori style. One motivating factor to stay with someone was that I was unfamiliar with the area and didn't see signs.

On the final 15 miles into Doha, there was excellent signage to the finish, so I proceeded to ride in alone.

Stats? Total time, about 4:55, a bit under 5 hours. Ride time about 4:50. The leaders must have finished around the 4-4:15 hour mark.

(I used a Camelbak Racebak undershirt for the first time. It has a 70oz bladder. I put 50oz of frozen Sustained Energy for cooling and drinking. You can see the blue drink hose.)

A great experience. Makes doing centuries fun again. Have I re-kindled my love for the bike?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sunset: Liberal Arts and Sciences Building, Education City, Doha

The Liberal Arts and Sciences Building (LAS) in Education City, Doha as seen from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Qatar building. Sunset beginning around 4:30pm: A closer view of the LAS. Photograph taken on my walk back from the Recreation Center pool at 6pm:
More to come...

Monday, November 9, 2009


Sunset over Houston on my way to Doha

A beautiful moment on a grand scale rendered in 2D as the plane slowly sweeps around, a rush for a handy pocket camera, just a peek through my porthole ...

[How can we capture the feeling of 3D space? Some photographs are almost three dimensional in nature. Is it a property of focal length (telephoto => compression vs. wide angle => exaggerated perspective)?

taken from seat 1E on CO 509 to IAH. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. Unretouched colors.