I’ve been a big fan of Veloviewer for many years, but for me one of the most exciting features was the introduction of the Explorer Score (almost up to 6000). The obvious extension was to see what your maximum explorer square is. This was introduced a couple of years ago, and when I first noticed it, I had a few 9 x 9 squares in the Lancaster/Preston area.
At the time I was living in Hull, so I then made an effort to increase my square there. It took a while, but eventually I reached 12 x 12. This involved cycling and running down more than a couple of dead ends and farm tracks. To get bigger would be a struggle with the Humber Estuary to the south and an army barracks to the north east. There was the potential to increase it to the west, but before I could I moved back to Lancaster.
After a few months I had managed to reach 14 x 14, which again involved dead ends and even cycling through a caravan park near the coast. I also cycled out to a farm with my running shoes and crossed a couple of fields just to add one more square. From here it would be again difficult to increase the size, due to private land without a single path or track, and also the sea to the west.
Recently I noticed that I could potentially obtain a larger square stretching from Fleetwood to Preston. Half a dozen rides later during December and January and I am now the proud owner of a 15 x 15 maximum explorer square. I had to cycle down more dead ends and caravan parks, and even a dual carriageway.
Once again I am limited to how far I can extend it, with sea to the north west and to the south Preston Sewage Treatment Works. To the north east there are a whole range of tracks that would be great for cycling….
…but, no access. I could possibly run or walk, or even cycle at 3am. There is a chance that I could get to 16 x 16, as I only need another 7 squares, but with the Ribble Estuary any more will be virtually impossible for me.
The approximate distance from one side to the other is only 20km, so imagine how larger the largest maximum square of 60 x 60 is. Somewhere in excess of 80km I guess. There was a thread on Facebook where people were describing what they had done to obtain new squares, including Fat Biking across a frozen lake and being turned away by gunpoint from army sites.
For now I think I’m done trying to extend my max square, but maybe one day I could canoe across the Ribble?