Scott Addict – What a Bike

Exactly two years ago, I met a bloke in a car park under the shadow of the Humber Bridge to buy a bike. Don’t worry, I knew him, and knew that the bike I was buying was his to sell. He’d had his Scott Addict for four years and was replacing it with a Colnago, and gave me a good deal, although he was keeping the bars, stem and wheels.

Once I’d got the bike, and the bits I needed, I took it for a spin. Almost every segment on a regular short loop was a PR. I was impressed with it from the get go, especially as it didn’t weigh more than a sparrows fart. Photo below was only a couple of months ago, after some very grim weather.


A couple of months after getting the bike I raced on it for the first time at the Dales Duathlon. This was a relatively hilly race where I thought the Scott would be ideal. I finished third vet, so it probably was a good decision, although I do regret the white bar tape. It was filthy within a couple of rides.


Later that summer I had an attempt at Everesting up a local climb called Spout Hill, near Brantingham. I made it to 7200m before monsoon weather and then a puncture ended the day. My hands were so numb from braking that I couldn’t remove the tire. In hindsight I should have gone home and changed the wheel, but never mind.

I completed a 150 mile ride on the hottest day of the year, finished numerous sportives, and the Rapha Festive 500 on two occasions using the Scott almost exclusively.

I need to point out that like most normal people I give my bikes names. The Scott had been given a custom paint job in the colours of the nutrition brand OTE, and OTE is only a short leap to Otis, so Otis he became. The photo below was from a very cold sportive in the lakes in February 2016.


In May 2016 I managed a 200 mile ride in preparation for my Triple Ironman (really must write a blog entry about that). I hadn’t intended to use Otis too much in that race, but because my arms, neck and shoulders were sore from the swim, I only completed 7 laps on my Tri bike, about 84 miles, the other 252 miles were all done on Otis.

The last big ride that I did on Otis was back in September, where my Garmin ‘lost’ over 50 miles. Since then I’ve been taking it a bit easier.

So…. I’ve had Otis for two years, here are some stats for you.

  • 275 rides
  • 20050.4 km
  • 12458.7 miles
  • Eddington scores of 65 miles, 89 km and climbing of 1060m
  • Total kudos 14617
  • Longest ride 323 km
  • Hilliest ride 7211m

Approximate cost of the bike, including everything, works out at less than 20p per mile.

To finish, thank you to my friend for selling me such a great bike, to Scott for making such a great bike (happy to review any of your other bikes), and here’s to the next 12,000 miles.

Air Quality in Galgate – Part II

Welcome to Part II of my series of blogs about the air quality in the small village of Galgate a few miles south of Lancaster. In Part I, I did some air quality modelling and suggested that the air quality in Galgate is only going to get worse. Part II looks at a case study from a development in Galgate that has just been completed. Looks quite nice.


Towards the end of 2012 a planning application was made for 50 residential units. The new access road would be built directly off the A6 in Galgate, south of the crossroads and north of the railway bridge. The image below once again shows the location of the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in Galgate.


Every trip generated by this development would have to pass through the AQMA, so an air quality assessment was required. It was prepared by Gem Air Quality Consultants Ltd and I’ve had a good look through it. Documents related to a planning application are all available on the Lancaster Council website, although they can take a bit of hunting. The report is concise and well written, although guidance has changed in the last couple of years. The air quality modelling was done using the proprietary software ADMS, rather than the free DMRB, which was what I used in Part I.

An air quality assessment will model the air quality for the last full year before the application, so in this case, the report was written in 2012, with the data used in the modelling from 2011. An assessment will then use the verification results to model a future year scenario, generally five years later, in this instance 2017. The future year will model the air quality both with and without the development, so that the impacts of the development on its own can be shown.

Gem have used the same diffusion tube locations that I did, as can be seen on the image above, but they have also modelled them for the opening year scenario. I have got hold of diffusion tube results from 2015 so we can compare the actual results with the modelled results for 2017. I know there is a couple of years difference, but the results should be similar.

The results from the diffusion tubes at locations V, Z and ZC in 2011 were, 43, 41 and 37 micrograms per cubic meter. In 2015 the concentrations at all three sites had increased, so the air quality has got worse. The results from the air quality assessment for 2017, modelled the concentration at the diffusion tube locations as 31, 30 and 27. This is a very big improvement in air quality, which has not materialised. This is important, as planning decisions can hinge on things like this, so why the big difference.

The first thing to note is that this isn’t an issue with the air quality assessment, this was done using the most up to date guidance at the time. The problem is primarily with the emission factors toolkit. This is a spreadsheet that calculates the emissions from vehicles on the road in the UK, and as older cars are scrapped and replaced with more efficient newer cars, the volume of polluting emissions decreases. Unfortunately, real world emissions have not been decreasing as quickly as expected for various reasons, for example, the Volkswagon diesel scandal.

Many local authorities realised that air quality assessments did not resemble real world scenarios, so now most assessments will include future scenarios modelled with emission factors from the present day. This will give a ‘worst case’ scenario, although as I have demonstrated here, ‘worst case’ is probably what is happening in Galgate.

Finally, is there anything that I would add to the assessment that was done for this development. Guidance has moved on, so you would have to include something about the railway line passing so close to the new houses. I would also liked to have seen something about designated habitats, for example Sites of Special Scientific Interest, of Local Nature Reserve. Close to the proposed development there are two ancient woodlands, Cockshades Wood and Little Cockshades Wood, as can be seen in the image below.


From the guidance, neither of these woods are close enough to the development to be effected by it, but it’s always nice to know that a consultant has looked at these things, because the next assessment might be sharing a border with a conservation area.

Part III will examine a more recent air quality assessment from another development in Galgate, coming soon. In the mean time, if you want me to have a look at an air quality assessment for a development that you have concerns about, send me a message.

Book Review 2017 Part I

So here I am, re-writing my Book Review blog post, after I had managed to accidentally delete it. What an idiot. I’ll try to remember what it was I wrote first time, although this will probably be more succinct.

I know that I started off my telling you that one of the good things about catching a train each day is that I get to read. I prefer to read a good book, rather than look at rubbish on Facebook or play some stupid game. So far this year I have finished four books:

  • Hell and High Water – Sean Conway
  • Mister B Gone – Clive Barker
  • The cyclist who went out in the cold – Tim Moore
  • The Moth – Various


Hell and High Water is all about Sean Conway’s attempt to swim up the coast of Britain, via a detour up the coast of Ireland. The adventure is beset with problems to overcome and people telling him it couldn’t be done. It is also full of random strangers helping out, and how and why he grew his iconic ginger beard. I learned all about tides, and why he could only swim at certain times. The book is ideal if you want something different, but set in places that you could easily visit.

The cyclist who went out in the cold is proper bonkers. I’ve read a few of Tim’s books before, and they are always an enjoyable read. His trip around London via a Monopoly board was a great way to visit the places of names that we all know. Again his trip around Italy following the route of the toughest Giro in history, on a wooden wheeled bicycle from the 20’s was bonkers. I loved it. So I was really looking forward to reading about his latest mad adventure, and it is mad. Buying an east German shopper, adding an extra strut for support and then cycling a new Euro route which roughly followed the old iron curtain.To make it harder (more fun/interesting), he set off from the north of Finland in winter. If you like irreverent travel books, you’ll love this.


Mister B Gone is a damn fine horror novel. I’ve been a fan of Clive for almost 30 years, ever since I stumbled across of copy of the Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart. The latter he wrote a screenplay for, and then directed the film, which became the iconic Hellraiser. (Looking forward to the remake Clive). In Mister B Gone, the main protagonist is a demon, dragged out of hell by a crooked Arch Bishop, and follows his adventures above ground. The book is also notable as it cleverly breaks the fourth wall. I managed to pick up a copy for 1p from Amazon, plus postage, so there is no reason for not finding it.

The Moth is simply a collection of true stories, but that description doesn’t even scratch the surface. The idea is from before technology, when people would gather round a story teller, like moths round a flame. Before the book, story telling evenings were organised, and then the best were collected into this book. Some are sad, some are happy and some are downright strange, but they are always interesting. One thing for sure is that you have to take your time with this book, as invariably you’ll need a few minutes to reflect upon the magnitude of what you’ve just read. I’ve lost count how many times I cried. If you rush through this book like a trashy Dan Brown novel you’ll miss the beauty that is ‘The Moth’.

Commuting and Air Quality

Part of my commute involves cycling from Wigan train station to my office in Leigh; the red line in the image below. The blue splodges are Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs). In the smaller inset map you can see the Greater Manchester AQMA in the middle (lots of splodges), with the Liverpool AQMA to the west and Sheffield’s AQMA to the east.


The Manchester AQMA was created with air quality modelling software, so only those areas where the annual mean concentration is above a certain level are highlighted. You can see the various splodges that I cycled through in Wigan, with a few more at busier junctions all the way to Leigh.


I would have liked to have used the ‘clip’ function in QGIS to calculate exactly how far I cycle each day inside the AQMA, but my GPS route doesn’t have the required attributes to do the job. I’m sure there is a way of converting to the correct format, but my knowledge of GIS isn’t the best. My commute is just over 11 km, with approximately 1 km inside various sections of the Greater Manchester AQMA.

Most of my journey is busy with traffic, so I am probably exposed to quite high levels of pollution, but studies have shown that the exercise from cycling benefits me far more than the exposure.

As I near the end of my commute in Leigh, there is another splodge of AQMA right on top of the office where I work, quite apt for a bunch of air quality scientists.


The NO2 annual mean objective is 40 ug/m3 (micro grams per cubic meter), and as any good air quality scientist will tell you, if you are exposed to pollution concentrations above 40 you will die tomorrow, and less than 40 you will live forever. I’m joking of course, but this is why air quality is an objective and not a hard and fast ‘level’, which any city in the UK should be able to achieve, if it is a priority. Cars would appear to be more of a priority in most cities, especially between Wigan and Leigh.

Bikes on Trains

Taking your bike on a train, it sucks, doesn’t it. Not in mainland Europe, obviously, but in the UK. I have the misfortune to have to take my bike on a train every week, and the experience is nothing like the photo below, which is from Germany.


It’s a pain booking your bike onto the train, as it can’t be done online, and you have to already have a ticket for your journey. If you’re unlucky you could buy a ticket and then find that there’s no space for your bike, and hope that you can then swap your ticket. Of course some trains can’t be booked onto, so you have to take your chance, and if it’s busy you might be left on the platform.

You might not be able to get off the train either. The Virgin East Coast trains which I use, someone else has to open the door. It’s the duty of the train manager to ensure that you get off the train. Most times they leave it to the platform staff.

What if they forget. Don’t laugh, it happened to me. By the time that I realised that no-one was going to open the door, it was too late, and I was off to Warrington. The train manager was very apologetic and gave me a free coffee (wow!), but Virgin didn’t give me a refund. At Warrington I caught the next train back to Wigan. Since then I have made a point of seeing the train manager, making sure he knows that I’m on the train. As a back-up, I have a route plotted in my Garmin to direct me from Warrington to Leigh. I don’t want to go to Warrington again, although it could be worse if I couldn’t get off in Lancaster on my way home.

Talking with the train manager isn’t always enough, as only a couple of weeks ago I had to dash through the train, pushing my way paste people who had just got on, and then wave to a member of staff to get them to open the door for my bike. Very stressful for a little Beardy.

And, don’t get me started on trying to get a refund. I’ll save that for another post, and I will try to be a little lest ranty.

The Beards of Bowland give a thumbs up to sticky toffee pudding

The last Beards of Bowland (BoB) ride was back in December and I bailed early. Too cold, too foggy and too quick. This ride was to be a bit slower, as new BoB member Mark, had cycled 25 miles to get to the start and was going to cycle the extra 25 miles home at the end as well. At 9am on Millennium Bridge in Lancaster four of us set off, myself, Prof, Mark and guest non-beardy rider Ali. The planned route, from Prof, was to cycle to Cartmel, stop at the home of the legendary sticky toffee pudding, before slowly plodding home.

I suggested that we take a small detour to the farm where we left the kitten from a previous ride.

In the summer, the BoB had found a bedraggled and abandoned kitten. The photo of Prof is too good not to share once again. Alas, there was no sign of the kitten, although he wouldn’t be a kitten anymore, so we continued into the Lyth Valley, with our obligatory dead end climb.


This was the second time that I had met Mark, so it was good to be able to chat with him this time. He was a former pro cyclist who raced in the 80’s and 90’s, often against a certain Chris Boardman, whatever happened to him. Mark also held the Lancashire 25 and 100 mile time trial records. Fortunately he had had a hard session the previous day, so he was taking it easy.

Prof’s route headed up over Tow Tops, a particularly nasty climb with some very steep switchbacks and a horrendous road surface. Ali decided to miss out this climb and take the longer but flatter route to Cartmel. As Prof and Mark climbed with ease, leaving me in their dust, I was wishing I’d taken the same option.


We found the cafe in Cartmel and had only been there a couple of minutes when Ali arrived. Mark declined to eat, Prof had a bacon and egg butty, Ali went with Sticky Toffee pudding, while I tried the Sticky Ginger pudding. They don’t just make Toffee puddings, there’s a whole range, although Prof declined to put one in his back pocket to take home to his wife. He also declined to carry a small tub of ice cream home as well.


When we set of I had the chance to chat with Ali for the first time, although he was having some problems with his rear derailleur jumping. Ali knew that I had successfully Everested, so we had a great discussion on the pros and cons of specific climbs and the whole concept of Everesting. You can read my blog entry and see my Strava entry, if you’re bored.

Click to access everesting2.pdf

Ali had attempted to Everest up Jubilee Tower in Lancaster, but without anyone to ride with hadn’t managed to finish. Maybe BoB should have a group Everesting attempt this summer. We then chatted about Ali’s successful bob Graham round, which if you don’t know is a 66 mile circuit of the highest peaks in the Lake District to be completed in less than 24 hours, running, not cycling. Ali had also completed the Welsh equivalent, the Paddy Buckley round, which is even tougher. Hats off to anyone who can manage these challenges, especially as Ali almost had the complete set as he narrowly missed out on the Scottish equivalent, the Ramsey round.

Disaster then struck, Ali’s mechanical got worse, resulting in a nasty fall. His helmet saved his head, but his thumb was pointing the wrong way. I was all for calling for help, but Ali is a tough nut, and climbed back on his bike for the ten miles home, even insisting that we don’t wait for him. We waited and made sure that he got home. I am positive that I do not have the testicular fortitude required to cycle home with a dislocated thumb.

Back at Ali’s his glove had to be cut off revealing a very bent thumb. I won’t post a photo, but take it from me it was nasty and after a trip to A & E it was found to be dislocated in two place. Heal fast Ali, and the BoB we’ll ride with you again soon.

I’ve said it before, but it’s never a dull ride with the Beards of Bowland.

18pence per mile

I’m the kind of person who likes to keep stats and the odd spreadsheet. I have one that I use to keep track on how many miles each of my bicycles has done. My Principia ( is in 3rd place with my Scott in 5th. 1st and 2nd still belong to bikes that I no longer own. My Cannondale which I had for 17 years, is in 1st place, and is the bike graveyard. He was a good bike. This was from the 1999 Lanzarote Ironman.lanzarote-1999-2

In 2nd place is my old Colnago, currently being ridden by my wife’s youngest son, who has his second triathlon coming up in April. Good luck Danster.

Back to the topic, and once you have all these stats, you need to do something with them. I started to keep track on how much each bike costs, including new chains, tyres and servicing at my local bike shop.

My Forme,


which I commute on, has done over 8,000 miles, and works out at 18pence per mile as it was a fairly cheap bike. My Scott, which was more expensive but has done more miles, works out at 21pence per mile. My Trek, on the other hand, has cost me over £1 per mile as I’ve had it less than 6 months and its not even done 1,000 miles.

My last car, an old beat up Citroen, which cost me £1000 and was sold 18 months later for £150, worked out at somewhere between 31 and 45 pence per mile. This is including tax, insurance, MOT, new alternator and petrol. My insurance was £700 a year as I hadn’t had a car for ten years. Why don’t you try to calculate what your car costs per mile, but you have to add up everything, including fuel and that cheap air freshener. It’s a scary amount.

My train journey from Lancaster to Wigan and back works out the same as my Forme, at 18pence per mile, although my bike will probably work out cheaper in a few hundred more miles. That reminds me that I need a new rear tyre and a new chain before the end of February.