Lots of swimming, biking and running

2011 has been full of sport related happenings for me, and I’d like to sum them up here, now it’s done and time to look forward! The chart above shows the maximum power during cycling through the year; red representing a short duration of 10 minutes, and gray 1 hour. The peak in early september is my pride and seasons best, during a tempo run of about 20 minutes, averaging 297 W, or 4.7 W/kg; felt great to finally come close to that figure!

But 2011 was about a lot more than that, good and bad. On my 40th birthday, October 2010, I got a pretty bold present from my relatives; a Swedish Classic. They’ve paid the entrance fees to four endurance races spread out during one year, covering 300 km road cycling, 3 km open water swimming, 30 km trail running, and 90 km cross country skiing. Together they’re called a Swedish Classic.

Not having done much endurance training at all until then, besides just starting out running and cycling, I had quite some challenge coming my way: I had to learn how to swim somewhat decently, preferably the front crawl, learn how to do cross country skiing, and get the ability to run and bike for extended periods of time.

I started training more endurance related stuff in november 2010, but during a snowboard trip to Switzerland in march 2011, I got a pretty bad cold but still continued to snowboard for almost two weeks. Coming home, feeling better, I started training too early, and got weird heart responses: I knew my heart pretty well from recent pulse training, but this was nothing but strange. I went through a longer rest period that erased most of my fitness, then a complete heart examination, scans, work load tests, etc. Luckily I was completely recovered, and got the go-ahead from the doctors to start training again. This was a couple of weeks before the first event; 300 km of road cycling around lake Vättern.

I finished the run in 10:08, with a chain threaded wrong through the rear derailleur, making the chain almost sawing through the metal; not too clever :-) I also made lots of food breaks everywhere I could find them.

Next up was 3 km open water swimming. I was, and am, a lousy swimmer, and couldn’t do the front crawl. So I took swim classes, managing to crawl for 25 m after that, before getting totally exhausted. That’s 2975 m left :-) Two weeks before the 3 km swim event, I could do about 200 m of front crawl in a pool; 2800 m short… I then began swimming every day in a lake near Stockholm, Norrviken, and during those last two weeks finally did 2000 m of almost continuous front crawl.

During the final 3 km swim event, I finished in 1:01 with a huge smile, using only the front crawl! Didn’t think I’d manage that. Some of the safety staff during the race obviously wasn’t so sure either…

Next up, running; not much to say here, but the fact that I trained way too little for being able to handle a 30 km cross country run. I started among the last ones, meaning the very slowest runners, forcing me to constantly try to pass people with no place left on the trail; I had to run on the side in deeper vegetation, or perpetually patting people on the shoulder to get them to move so I could pass.

After finishing in 2:30, my legs was so severely hurt that I could not walk straight for 2 weeks, and had to cancel and miss a larger photo shoot just because of that. Wise… 90 km of cross country skiing is what's left to train for this winter; we'll see about that, not much snow so far.

The chart above shows power (solid gray) and efficiency (black line) evolving during tempo/TT bike riding during 2011. Efficiency is here basically power divided by pulse reserve.

Some of the years highlights also included a 160 km road race around lake Siljan and Orsa, where me, my brother and a friend riding by our selves did the first half with an average of about 37 km/h, but then faded badly, totally exhausted :-) It was fun to pass people though, and then being passed again by the very same smiling people, with the expression “we knew you’ll die” :-)

Also, a week in Morzine, the french Alps, with two local riders and four Swedish guys, was great: all-mountain lift based riding, which I believe the french are calling “Enduro”. A great summer trip to Estonia with open-water swimming in the ocean every day, was also a nice break from work and bikes.

For 2012, I’ll be continuing the competition against my former self, and not against others. I’ll eat better food, mix sports to try to avoid injuries, and care about what’s important in life, not meaningless trivia. I’ve got hopes that a new club I’ve joined, NocOut, will make it even more fun to exersise; so far so good!

Another bike build

This is my road race bike. I don't race though, so maybe "road bike" then. It's been built last spring, and used this summer. The frame is not a road race frame though; it's a Scott Plasma CR1 Team Issue, small; an older one, a couple of generations back from the current one.

The reason I've used a TT/tri frame is that I like a steeper seat tube angle, which is hard to find on normal road racing frames. And with the current move towards more aero road frames, I figured it's not too bad thinking. Also, I like yellow. Good thing I don't compete...

These wheels are heavier and deeper than the light ones used last summer, making the bike without pedals weigh 6,3 kg. The new wheels are cheap no-names, getting the weight up to almost 7,2 kg, but I reckon they'll be more durable for everyday training.

Saddles are always ISM Adamo on my bikes, this one's no exception. Ugly, yes, but works for me. This one's gone back though, for a Podium model instead; longer and nicer, me thinks. The bike wears a complete Sram Red group, bought used for stupidly little money. I didn't find the yellow version of it cheap, otherwise that would've been.. well, even more yellow.

The gearing is for hills; 34-50, 11-28. Still high enough for my abilities, and as low as could ever be needed. Guess this one's really made for the Alps, considering weight and gearing, hope to take it there some summer. I've moved to a completely flat place in Sweden now though, so the gearing is a bit out of place.

When photography is not a hobby anymore...

...a need arises for something else to tinker with instead of images and cameras. Well, that something is now bicycles, since a year or more. Not only can you ride them, but also wrench, collect, cuddle and get fit on them – perfect!

I've found this frame cheap and in my size, so decided to make it a winter project; to scout parts, build, and get it ready for spring. A peaceful hobby to do when I need a brake from photography. Come spring, I guess time spent with this one will not be all that peaceful anymore, since it's a tempo bike...

Anyways, parts are finally getting close to a complete set; I've sourced them as cheap as possible, often second hand, to justify a bike like this one, even though I'm not really worthy as a 40+ beginner, but never mind, it's fun.

The frame have served in a professional team in Germany, then brought to Sweden by an up-and-coming young cyclist, that just moved to France for a go as a professional rider, now getting his bikes for free. As he was eager to move and short on time, I got it cheap.

It's a Giant Trinity Advanced SL, small. The previous owner had a full Dura-Ace Di2 setup on it, but I've settled for a mechanical Ultegra group, with the new Vision Metron shifters.

Wheels will be a pretty old Zipp 808 + 900 tubular pair, and on top of that an ISM Adamo Breakaway saddle; I use Adamo saddles on all my bikes, they're a blessing for me.

Looks a little like a bull. Guess I won't be kicking ass on it though, it needs a proper engine to do that, and I'm just interested in competing against myself. Oh, and bikes. Now back to work. Just one more.

We're Wired, again

One of our images of Saab's remote flight control tower can be found in Wired's printed, iPad and online magazine publication. Makes me proud!

Once again, it's the image of the gray-haired man sitting in the centre of a control room, looking at surrounding screens. It's one of my favorites, and also in our interior portfolio.

This is what the magazine cover looks like, if you'd like to pick it up. No, we've not done the nice image of Mr Cox though.

And the now maybe familiar original image – time to show some new one's here now. Here's the online Wired post. Thanks for reading!

The Crown Princess Couple of Sweden

I've been hired to make pictures of Victoria and Daniel, the Crown Princess Couple of Sweden, during a visit at the defense and security company Saab – not the car company, that is. The inside images were taken with very low levels of fluorescent light in a room painted dark grey, with no possibility to use flash or other lighting – not too easy. I got by with some help from the computer screens, and my trusted friends 35/1.4 and 85/1.2.

Luckily, I didn't have to fight among all the other photographers showing up; phew! I've never seen such a mayhem of flashes when everything went off, it looked like a giant continuous light source, but made up of 30+ flashes from a similar amount of photo journalists. Scary to look right into all that and still have to look unaffected and calm – not an easy job.

I was allowed to move pretty freely while the other photographers had to stand in a special fenced area, only allowed to attend during the arrival. So it wasn't a very fair situation among us; I could follow during the whole visit, though in a discrete way, and with limited number of clicks.

Here's Daniel holding a countermeasure capsule – it's used in fighter aircrafts to confuse incoming robots, hopefully making them lock onto the flares this thing sends out, instead of the jet itself. This countermeasure thing was actually the real deal, according to Saab - guess they was pretty sure it wouldn't go off, considering Sweden's royal throne will be Victoria's and Daniel's in the future.

Sometimes pretty simple images can get more complicated to make because of the surrounding circumstances, but still, it was a lot of fun to get the opportunity to do this!

And now, weekend – yesss.

Another image in the Swedish newspaper SvD

A couple of days ago, Svenska Dagbladet featured one of our images of a Saab training vest, while discussing the Android platform. SvD and DN are the two largest newspapers here in Sweden, so once again, I'm really proud! They both do decent journalism – we also have the two toilet papers Expressen and Aftonbladet, which I'll never work for if I can help it – don't bother calling, guys.

This shoot wasn't all too easy – to make the invincible man wear it, I had to build a construction of thin metal wires, resembling a torso, suspended with fishing lines from many directions, connected to an outer construction surrounding the vest. And then, retouching. My girlfriend was actually holding the hand unit - I was too lazy building something for that too.

Cheers! /Peter

Cover shot

Alright, we've got an image on the cover of Aviation Week! The image shows Saab's remote air traffic control system.

Basically, you put eight cameras on the top of a high mast or other similar, and simulate the view of a normal flight control tower by projecting a 360° view from these cameras inside a remote control room, that can be far away from the mast and airport. The control room also contains the equivalents of normal flight control system. The image shows this room, with the projected 360° view from eight projectors onto a surrounding screen, with a man in the center pulpit.

Here's the original image. It's also in our web portfolio, where there's also another view of the room from above. Thanks Jonas at Saab for pointing this out for me!

My new corporate ride :-)

The biggest problem with public transport as an alternative to car and taxi, are in my opinion the transfer from start to the first station, and getting from the last station to the destination. So I hope this little gem of a bike will sometimes solve this; it's allowed to carry on subways, trains and buses, and can be checked in without special luggage fees on flights.

It's actually rideable too; Dahon mµ SL, the lightest foldable bike produced that still rides like a proper bike, sort of. It weighs 8.3 kg, similar to a normal road race bike; heavy folders can weigh double of that. There's even competitions for foldables, and this one's been ridden to victories quite some times.

It's got some serious transmission for a folder; huge FSA tempo front ring and cranks, making it reach 36 km/h at a cadence of 80 RPM, despite the small 20" wheels. Should be enough for commuting :-)

The stem is Syntace VRO stuff; high end, no flex, light weight. Nice minimal look I think.

SRAM X-9 drivetrain; better specs than my MTB :-) Even light aero wheels, hubs and top slick tires. I'll put some big tooth MTB rubber on it during winter though.

Everything is top stuff; the seat post and saddle uses the I-beam rail mount to save weight; the saddle is made as a one piece structure. Fore/aft adjustments are longer than on normal saddles.

Pedals have quick release, as an alternative for an even more compact fold. I'll get these fitted with old-school clips soon.

And finally, everything in a bag to throw over your shoulder, avoiding getting dirty. I guess the low weight should make this less bothersome also.

Our image in the Swedish newspaper SvD

One of our images are printed large in one Sweden:s biggest newspaper today; Svenska dagbladet, or SvD! It's also featured on their web site.

I stand corrected: a 100+ kg lightstand

So, here's the corrected version, #3, of the previous light lightstands during an assignment. As before, made from alu tent poles, but this time with curved legs, kept apart by small spreaders in the top. Still packs down to 40 cm, but this time max height is raised to about 250 cm. The stand is easier to move around, since the legs are kept in place, but you can still squeeze it together temporarily to move through a tight door opening, etc.

Mounted up top is a big parabolic 2 m focusable umbrella. The flash attaches directly to the umbrella shaft with a simple bracket I've made, keeping the head in the true dead center (not pictured), with an adjustable distance to move the focus point. The curved legs makes the direction of the umbrella to adjust orientation automatically: pretty much vertical when it's low, and gradually getting a slight downward angle when rising to the top of the tripod.

That way, the umbrella tracks what I usually want as an angle for different heights, and keeping the aim of the focus direction stationary at about 2,5 m in front of it. A person standing in front of it at that distance, will be kept in focus when height is adjusted. If an arbitrary angle is needed, I just use a normal, heavier light stand. And speaking of heavier...

This big mother of an improvised climbable stand was used to get some real height of the same umbrella, and carrying my old 6000 Ws Briese generator flash/head combo. See, we had to light the inside of a big hangar from a distance of a couple hundreds of m. Quite far from Canons 580EX (about 80 Ws) I usually mount to those 400 g stands; yes, sometimes tent poles just don't cut it :)