Buy my Books!

The Sketchnote Workbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, showing how to use sketchnotes in new ways, along with advanced tips and techniques.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →
Watch a FREE video sample →

The Sketchnote Handbook is a fully-illustrated book and video, designed to teach regular people how to create sketchnotes.
Learn about and buy the book →
Download a FREE chapter →

Mike Rohde (Color - Square)

ROHDESIGN is the website of designer Mike Rohde, who writes on design, sketching, drawing, sketchnotes, technology, travel, cycling, books & coffee.
Read more about Mike →

SIGN UP! Get the Rohdesign Newsletter.


Le Tour Memories

I'm actually not the biggest cycling fan out there, but I do really enjoy the Tour de France and keeping up with race coverage across the big pond.

Today, I was thinking of all the fond memories of past Tours, and how they have inspired me to get out and ride. Some of my oldest memories were from the 70s and 80s, when as a kid, I loved watching Tour highlights on ABC's Wide World of Sports. I still remember how just one hour of Tour highlights on a Saturday afternoon excited my friends and I about cycling for the rest of the summer.

After college, in 1992, I happened to have cable TV and ESPN carried coverage of the Tour daily (well, it was at 3am). I felt fortunate, since I could tape that day's stage and watch in the evening after work. Wow, what a great Tour! Miguel Indurain, Greg LeMond, Laurent Fignon, and all the other greats, battling it out for the win. That year I was challenged to buy and refurbish an old steel frame racing bike and retrofit it with new components. I had a great time building my ride, which I still ride to this day.

I also recall a nice service AOL offered in 1995, where an on-location cycling reporter followed the Tour and sent out email updates to the subscribers of the list. I still recall dialing in by modem to download the latest descriptive post while I was visiting friends in Germany, as the Tour was taking place in nearby France.

And of course, this year I find myself enjoying Tour coverage offered by websites, weblogs and particularly by Outdoor Life TV in the form of live and archived audio feeds. I feel honored to hear Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen making the call on race day, while I work. In fact it brings back fond memories of 1992 when Phil and Paul made the call for ESPN.

After writing this post, I can't wait to get out on my road bike tomorrow morning! I can't wait to smell the fresh air and feel the wind in my face. I'm looking so forward to seeing the green of the fields and woods flash past, feeling the rumble of blacktop under my wheels, sensing the rush of flying full speed downhill and the challenge of spinning my way up hills. And of course there's that wonderful feeling of endorphins being released and the tension you feel in your legs after a nice morning ride.

Man, it's great to be a cyclist in July! :-)


Le Tour Fever

I'm a fan of cycling riding and following cycle racing, so this time of year is always a great one for me because of the Tour de France. This year in particular it's more exciting, because I and two friends have been training indoors since January and riding our road bikes outside since May, so I've been in much more of a cycling state of mind this summer.

I knew that the Tour began this Saturday, but today (Wednesday) I think I've caught the fever big time, learning of US Postal's Team's huge team time trial win today in stage 4. Lance Armstrong heads the US Postal Team (afectionately known as the Posties or the Blue Train) and is going for a 5th consecutive win of the Tour, to match the great Miguel Indurain.

So, with my thoughts turning to cycling and Tour de France results, I thought it might be nice to share some of the bits I've been collecting since the weekend for readers interested in the Tour. Enjoy!

First, there's of course the Tour de France Official Site, with all sorts of news, information and goodies in many languages.

Outdoor Life TV is showing 2 hour blocks of coverage on US cable TV and has an Official Tour website featuring live and archived audio feeds (Windows Media Player required), which are great for listening to in the background while working.

VeloNews, is covering the Tour as well, and includes rider diaries and excellent interactive flash-based Tour coverage.

Eurosport has a nice cylcling section covering the Tour, has good info but a confusing site and Graham Watson's Photo Website has some excellent photos of the riders in action.

The USPS has a Postal Team site up as well, for Lance and Postie fans.

I've found only one weblog completely focused on the Tour: Le Blog de France, but I'm sure there must be more. If you come across a good one, please let me know.

Lastly, the weblog Nicest of the Damned has a nice beginner's guide on the Tour for those new to cycle racing and the Tour itself.

Oh yes -- a Dutch company called Deepweb has release a neat little Palm OS Tour de France reference application called Le Tour 03 (thanks PDANews24!) which shows details on the stages, teams and riders. It's free to check out, though a small $3 donation to Deepweb is certainly in order if you like it and use it.

Cheers too all the road cycling fans out there -- enjoy the next month! :-)

UPDATE: 2003-07-10
I had to add two new Tour Blogs I've learned of via the comments on this post:

Frank Steele from Nicest of the Damned has a great Tour de France 2003 blog site up and running with the latest news (thanks Frank!).

Meanwhile, Dutchman Oskar van Rijswijk has his own LOGos Tour Blog with excellent coverage and a ton of great Tour-related links (thanks Oskar!).


Surprise! Complex Gadgets & High-Tech Lingo Confuses People

Today's tidbit link (via Hal) is to the BBC story High-tech babble baffles many, on how high tech gadgetry is baffling potential buyers out of buying.

I've always had the feeling this was true, so it's good to see a story confirming my beliefs. This is what happens when engineers and marketers promote a boatload of glitzy "features" and related buzzwords and acronyms rather than offering easy to use and simple to understand solutions.


Getting Back in Rhythm

Andy & His Clie CamI am almost back in the swing of regular blog posting after a nice, long independence Day weekend and time spent with our friend Andy Bauer. We had a great time the past two and a half weeks with Andy (who is now safely back in London).

We saw and did quite a bit in two-plus weeks time, including dinner at two very good steakhouses (Butch's Old Casino Steakhouse and Mr. B's Bartolotta Steakhouse), sailing, fireworks, a 4th of July Parade, Old World Wisconsin (a living museum) and much, much more. Hopefully I'll be able to recount a few highlights when I'm back in the rhythm of blogging again.

However, with the combo of Andy's visit and a long 4th of July weekend, it's going to probably take a week to get on my normal posting schedule, so please bear with me. I may just do quickie posts with links until I'm able to get back to more substantive posts.

I should mention that I'm in the midst of a wonderful old Jules Verne novel on my Sony Clie called The Mysterious Island. It's a great story, set in the 1860's and recounts how a crew of Union civil war prisoners escape by stealing a balloon during a hurricane and manage to survive on a remote island. I loved 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, and this one is right up there in quality. Highly recommended!

Okay, off to a few outstanding tasks here... :-)


Queen's Cup Sailabration

Queen's CupThis Friday, my wife Gail, Andy (our houseguest), and I had the great opportunity to go on a sailing adventure in Lake Michigan. Andy had located a special boat trip called the Queen's Cup Sailabration, onboard old style wooden tall ship called the S/V Denis Sullivan and invited us along while he visited Milwaukee. Normally the Sullivan offers sailing tours of the Milwaukee harbor and lakefront but this package was a bit different. Details were sketchy on their website, so I rang the office.

During my call, I learned that the Sailabration package was a spot on the race committee boat for the Queen's Cup sailing race, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Muskegon, Michigan. The Queeen's Cup is actually one of the oldest sailing races in the world (since 1855), making this the 148th running. Funnily enough, not one of the committee members we asked knew which queen the race was in honor of.

So, we headed for the lakefront at 2 p.m. in the afternoon, with only a slight idea what we were in for on this excursion. There was a little confusion at Pier Wisconsin's office locating someone with our tickets. However, our persistance paid off, and we clarified all of the needed details for the trip and for parking. A little while later we were underway on the Sullivan, motoring for the starting point of the Queen's Cup.

Regarding the S/V Denis Sullivan, it's a recently built wooden tall ship, made in the old style of shipbuilding. I remember reading about this craft while it was being constructed; it took several years but I must say, the builders did a wonderful job. The vessel is made mostly of wood, with metal here and there. Very analog.

Of course, there were modern items on board, such as GPS, radios, a diesel engine and other items, though the majority of the ship is quite traditional. Masts were all solid wood (crafted from some seriously massive trees) as were the block and tackle and the deck. Even the anchor hoist was of old-style design, with hand crank ffor raising and lowering the anchors and chains. All in all this is a beautiful craft.

Rainbow RacingWe anchored in the chosen spot and the committe of the race began their praprations. We watched as they test-hoisted race flags and prepared the shotguns for race starts. Soon, the time approached for the first race to start -- which was accompanied by a huge squall that approached rapidly from the western shore of Milwaukee and hit the Sullivan just at starting time. We remained on deck and donned our foul weather jackets as the rain blasted the ship.

I was assigned photgraphy duties by one of the committee members, and through the rain I managed to shoot a few pictures of the start. Once I had a decent amount of shots taken, Gail, Andy and I all went below deck for a break from the rain, along with our packs. There we chatted while the race committee got drenched while officiating the race.

10 minutes later we returned to the deck, when we learned that the sun was out and the rain had ended. Upon exiting the lower decks, a huge rainbow had emerged, creating a gorgeous backdrop on the lake. We all worked feverishly to get shots of racing sailboats and rainbows while the moment lasted.

As the day's races continued, starts improved. It seems the less-experienced sailors started first while more experienced sailors started last in the sequence. In the first few race starts there were many illegal start line crossings (requiring the offending boat to circle back for a short time as a penalty) while in later starts, more experienced sailors managed to hug the start line, jumping over only seconds after the starting shot had sounded.

Once the last race had begun, another squall was fast approaching the ship, so Gail, Andy and I got back below decks to try and maintain some dry spots on our clothes. In the galley, chatted with the crew and the race committee, and heard several war stories from past Queen's Cup races.

Breakwall LighthouseOne of the crew came below and mentioned that the storm had passed, so a large group returned to the deck to enjoy the return trip to the dock. However, the anchors had to be raised, which was quite an experience, since there was no electric winch. The raising was done by four crew members on a manual winch! It looked like very hard work, taking 200 feet of anchor chain up 3 inches at a time. Gail and I even had an opportunity to help haul in some anchor line with the crew, which was a workout in itself.

Once the anchors were up, it didn't take long to re-enter the Milwaukee Harbor, motoring toward our docking point at Pier Wisconsin. Looking back at Lake Michigan provided an eerie sight, with the dark storm clouds heading East, right behind the sailors, and the sun setting in the West.

All in all it was a wonderful experience. If you ever have a chance to go sailing on a tall ship like the S/V Denis Sullivan, go for it. There's nothing else like it.