Veloviewer Leaderboard

My regular readers will know that I’m a fan of Veloviewer and all of it’s extra stats. Read about all of my Veloviewer posts here. A few years ago Veloviewer introduced leaderboards, but only the top 20, and I was amazed to find that for overall Eddington score (miles) I was in 19th place. Recently Veloviewer has introduced placing for everyone, although only the top 20 make it to the list. I’m now down to 87th for my Eddington score.

My good friend The Prof has made it up to 18th for the maximum cluster score, while I’m still languishing in 50th place, but I have made the top ten on one list.

Swimming distance so far in 2018.

swimThat’s me in 8th place, having swam 32km so far this year. I’ve entered a 10km swim later in the year, and in June I’m doing Isoman which is a triathlon with a 7 mile swim (read about my races for this year here). I have therefore increased my swimming, helped with the terrible weather, and this morning I managed my second 5km swim of the year. I couldn’t stop eating all morning.

Let’s be fair though, this leaderboard isn’t too impressive after just one month, and I have no doubt whatsoever that I will soon drop down the list, but it’s nice while it lasts.

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Book Review 2018 – Part II

Normally I review two books at once, but this one deserves a review all of it’s own. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.

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I’m not a fan of Trump, but this isn’t new. I didn’t like him years ago when he declared bankruptcy and stiffed loads of ordinary workers when his big casino failed. I never watched The Apprentice, and I wasn’t happy when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

When he stood for President I never expected him to win, like almost everyone. I would have liked to have seen Bernie Sanders stand, or Joe Biden, but as we’ve seen over the last year, Trump has been a complete and utter disgrace.

I tried to buy a copy of this book when it was released, but Leigh doesn’t have a bookshop, so I had to wait until the weekend. I don’t really need to go into too much detail about the book as it’s been in the news for weeks, but if you’ve been living in a bunker, the author was given access to the White House and had almost unfettered access to everyone. Apparently he has tapes as well, just in case anyone from the Trump administration tries to sue him.

The book plays to my prejudices, as I like to read about what a moron Trump is. I don’t watch the news on TV anymore, and I generally get most of my news from left leaning websites, for example, The Canary or Evolve Politics. I am just a guilty of this as someone who only reads The Daily Mail and sups up every last piece of hate. OK, so I’m not as bad as the hate filled racists who avidly watch Fox News or it’s ilk, but you get the idea.

Back to the book, and one of the most interesting aspects was how the whole Trump team who not only believed that they would lose, but actually wanted to lose, just not by too much. They could then blame illegal voting and try to claim the moral high ground, saying that Trump actually did win. This would then boost the Trump brand. This is backed up by the fact that there were no plans or policies in place just in case he did win.

The other interesting fact is that everyone close to Trump has to try to manage him, as he doesn’t read, and isn’t interesting in anything except himself. If there is justice then Trump and his entire family will end up in jail.

Read this book and laugh at how pathetic he is.

Milestones – Part II

Last week I blogged about reaching a milestone, namely reaching 100,000km of cycling since I joined Strava (read about it here). This is the second part of three Milestones that I have reached all at about the same time. Part II is, wait for it, 100 rides on my Trek 920.

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The moment I saw this beast in the Trek catalogue I knew I would be getting one. I wanted a bike that I could go touring on and not worry about the odd trail as well as a bike that I could do some gentle off-roading. ‘Barry’ is the perfect bike for all that, and my wife named him after an ice-cream desert from a Chinese restaurant. I’ve had him for almost 18 months and I’ve blogged about adventures with him many a time, including earlier this week around Skipton (here) and last year’s Easter tour (here, here and here).

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I continue to smile every time that I take him out, and the only changes I’ve made since he rolled out of the shop is a replacing the saddle with a Brooks Cambium.

As expected, some stats. Total distance 4,144 km, climbing 47,000 m, kudos 6,780, average distance per ride 26 miles.

Another bonus about this bike is to do with tile or square hunting on Veloviewer. Some of the more hard to get squares invariably involve dirt tracks, farm tracks or bridleways, which are not always accessible on your more regular road bike.

When I’m out other cyclists often comment on the size of the tyres, and I joke about how great the bike will be when I’m crossing the deserts of Kazakhstan. Next up is a four day touring break with my beautiful wife at Easter, although a bit closer to home as we head off to York.

Here’s to the next 100 rides.

A Mini Adventure Around Skipton

Today was an unexpected day off, combined with a weather forecast suggesting it would be relatively warm and free from rain. To make the most of it I caught the first train of the day from Lancaster to Skipton. Northern Trains, so I wasn’t able to book my bike, but it wasn’t a problem. I also bought a return ticket as it only cost £1 more than a single.

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The idea of going to Skipton was so that I could grab a few more Veloviewer squares, with the long term plan of linking my cluster with the riding I did in Hull a couple of years ago. If all this means nothing to you, I have blogged about Veloviewer a few times (here).

With a carefully set out route I set off from Skipton station just after 8am, and headed to the hills. As I mentioned, the weather forecast suggested that it would be 5-7 degrees and dry. The actual forecast around Skipton was 2-3 degrees and plenty of rain, combined with a smattering of hail and sleet. My route was also phenomenally hilly, with snow and ice on the tops. Another reason for taking my Trek 920.

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At the bottom of the first big descent I crossed over the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, although I had to wait as a boat passed.

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A few more hills and a winding route to maximise square grabbing, before heading back into Skipton. I was pleased that I had bought a return ticket as my feet were cold and wet, as was much of the rest of me, despite putting on an extra layer. My revised plan was to follow my route to Gargrave and then return to Skipton to catch the 10.55 train. A couple of hilly dead-end dirt tracks meant that I had to revise my plan once again, to catch the return train from Gargrave. I had intended to cross over the busy A65 and ride along the canal towpath, but with less than ten minutes I had to get my head down and push it into Gargrave, making the train with less than one minute to spare.

The next train wasn’t for another three hours, and if I’d missed it I would have just cycled home. The route from Gargrave is a bit boring and I had done the same only ten days earlier, and with no easy squares I wasn’t too worried about my ride only being 30 miles, albeit it with over 1,000 m of climbing.

Back home and once uploaded to Strava I updated Veloviewer. The end result was 23 new squares and an extra 33 squares added to my cluster. I’m into the top 50, although I still have a long way to go to catch up with my old friend The Prof.

The before and after can be seen below.

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The next challenge will be to link the cluster to Keighley and over to Otley. There are still a whole load of squares required to link up with Hull, but I’m sure I’ll manage it this year.

 

Milestones – Part I

Since joining Strava back in May 2012, I have notched up over 100,000 km of cycling. Fairly impressive, or not, depending on your point of view. Not as impressive as some of the mile munchers on Strava, but I have a full time job, and I like spending time with my beautiful wife and loyal dog, instead of long rides all weekend every weekend, which is what I used to do a few years ago.

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The weather today was terrible, almost freezing and cold rain/sleet to contend with. As I only required 6 km to reach my milestone, my ride today was a paltry 6.3 km. Just enough.

Some stats for you. My first ride on Strava was on 27th May 2012 from the Universities Triathlon Championships in Nottingham. Strava upload is here. Pop over and be the first to give me kudos on my first Strava ride.

My 100,000 km has taken 2065 days, which works out at 48.4 km per day. I’ve ridden 2951 times, so each ride works out at 33.9 km. From Veloviewer I can see that I’ve climbed 914,500 m and received 52,895 kudos. My longest ride was 402.9 km and my hilliest was my Everesting attempt with 8879 m of climbing.

Ironman Loop

I’m not doing Ironman UK this year (or any year), but when the legendary Chris Wild organises a gentle recce of the loop, it’s rude not to go. I’ve done the loop a few years ago when it was three laps, but I’ve never done the newer two lap version, plus, I’ve never done the final section into Bolton. As an added bonus, my beautiful wife Helen wanted to come along, even though she also has no plans to enter IMUK either, or any ironman race.

Nine of us set off from Queen’s Park, which is the new location for T2 instead of the Reebok Stadium, and gently headed out of Bolton along the main road, all the way to Adlington and Babylon Lane. This section of road has the noisiest fans you’ll find anywhere on the course, mostly from COLT (The City of Lancaster Triathlon Club). The photo below makes it look like a large hill, but I guarantee on race day you’ll fly up it.

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Yesterday, it didn’t look like this. After Babylon Lane the first tester of the day arrives in the form of Sheephouse Lane. Again you’ll find noisy supporters near the top, many dressed at masked Mexican wrestlers (?). It’s a long climb, but the steep sections are fairly short. The descent is safe-ish as well. Into Belmont and it’s a fast main road for the next few miles, followed by another main road, which isn’t really conducive for a group of nine triathletes having a chat as we cycled round the route. Some of the driving we saw was unbelievably bad.

I should also point out that in places the road surface is absolutely terrible, especially near Wheelton where you cross over the top lock section of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal. It’s also quite technical here, so take it a little easier. During the loop I was asked if I would use a Tri-bike or regular road bike if I was racing. My answer is whatever your most comfortable with. If you use a Tri-bike make sure you can descend safely and that you can climb. Also make sure that you don’t have a silly cassette without low enough gears for the two big climbs. As for tyres, I would go with 25mm if they will fit, and I would sacrifice a little speed for durability. My choice of tyre is a Specialized Armadillo, but Conti 4 seasons or Schwalbe Marathon Plus would also work well, instead of puncture prone Vittoria or similar.

We didn’t have a cafe stop on our loop, but we did stop a few times for nutrition, or ‘biscuits’ in my case. Proper race nutrition isn’t really my strong point. I was seen eating a bag of Hula-Hoops on the run during my Triple Ironman.

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On the route everyone is wary of Sheephouse Lane, but the other climb, Hunters Hill is just as bad. It’s not as long but the steep section is steeper. I was riding with a compact chainset and a 12-27 cassette. I had one gear left up Sheephouse, but used the bottom one on Hunters Hill. At the bottom of the hill you can see a white house. This is the end of the steep section and you’re nearly there once you reach it. Again on race day there will be hundreds of people to cheer you on, many of them drunk as there is a pub at the top. The pub are also happy to fill up water bottles when you’re out training, or lend you a pair of pliers is you can’t remove the funny washer thing from your inner tube if you get a flat.

At the top, while waiting for the puncture repair, another group of cyclists appeared, one of them wearing a Hells 500 top. Always good to meet a fellow Everester!

From the top of Hunters Hill it’s only a few miles back to Babylon Lane, where you’ll begin your second lap. We were tempted by the brilliant Phil Walton for a brew, but time was getting on so we headed straight back to Bolton. Once again the traffic was awful, something you won’t need to worry about on race day, but be careful out there on a recce.

We did 60 miles, which included one full lap and the out and back section from Bolton, although the ‘out’ section on race day will be from Pennington Flash, but is about the same distance. The route does look a little like a phoenix rising out of the ashes of Bolton.

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One of our little group, Tammy, was ecstatic with completing her first full lap of the course, and given how much she’s improved over the winter, she’ll have a great race day in July.

As for me, I’ll be stood on Babylon Lane with a burger or chocolate, cheering you on, doing my best Seasick Steve impression.

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Wherever you’re racing this year, have a great one.

Races for 2018

It’s that time of year when people enter races, unless it’s Ironman, which you’ll have entered months ago. I’ve been busily using my debit card and have entered a plethora of races for 2018. First up is a trail race.

Grizedale Half Marathon – 4th February

I’ve not done a ‘real’ running race for a few years, and it could well be over ten years since I last did a half marathon, except for on Strava. I’m not totally running fit, but it should be nice to run somewhere different and not worry about my pace as I’ll be quite happy to sneak in under 2 hours.

No Excuses Sportive – 25th march

The name ‘no excuses’ is because this particular sportive is free. You sign up and pay your £40 entry fee, but if you finish it then you get your money back, which sounds good to me. The start and finish is in Carlisle and heads out to the coast, an area that I’ve not cycled before, which makes it even better.

Isoman – 30th June

This is my big race of the year, and it is bonkers. The idea is that each discipline is given equal time, so using a complicated formula based on world records, the organisers have come up with a ‘game changer’ of a triathlon. The full race, which I’m doing involves a 7 mile swim, 61 mile bike and then a full marathon. I’m fairly sure that the swim puts most people off. There are also half and quarter distances available, although the quarter still has a 1.75 mile swim. The entry fee was also a fraction of Ironman, which is another bonus.

Hurly Burly 10km Swim – 30th September

To finish the year I’ve entered an open water swim in North Wales. Set in Barmouth, the swim starts off the beach and then heads upstream, although with the tide the organisers state that this could easily be the fastest 10km in the country.

As we head into the year I might enter a few more races, but for now, these are the ones that I’m concentrating on. Say ‘Hi’ if you’re at any of them, I’m the one with the beard.