200 Strava Swims

Yesterday evening I notched up my 200th Strava swim. I’ve been on Strava for five and a half years, but it wasn’t until February 2014 that I got myself a Garmin swim-watch. Before then I would only manually upload swims if they were ‘epic’. The first swim that I uploaded was in January 2013 and it was 6km. My longest swim was 11.4km and was part of a continuous triple ironman (you can read about it here). Below are a couple of photos of that swim.



This year my target has been to swim 100miles, and with three weeks to go I only need a couple more swims, which will be the furthest I’ve ever swam in one year.

My 200 Strava swims total 478km, making each swim on average 2389m. I also manage to collect on average over 20 kudos per swim. My Eddington scores (explanation here and here) are only 4 miles and 6km, although for time it is 53 minutes. It will be a long while before the distance markers increase, but I only need to swim at least 53 minutes two more occasions for my score to reach 54 minutes.

I don’t yet have any big targets for 2018, although my wife seems to think that I should have a go at the Frog Graham! Windermere one way could well be another challenge, but we’ll see what develops.

Not much more to say really, except that I love swimming and even after all these years of triathlons and open water swims, I still get incredibly nervous at the start of every open water swim.


300 Rides

I’ve now done 300 rides on my trusty Scott Addict, bought second hand two and a half years ago. I’ve blogged about it (him) before (here), but I thought that I would blog again as I’ve reached a good milestone.

300 rides is about 2-3 rides every week, although he does get used more in the winter as my Principia, even after 17 years, is my summer bike (here). Back to my Scott, and my Eddington scores are 67 miles and 91 km. If you don’t know what Eddington scores are you can read about it here and here. My longest continuous ride was 323 km when I was training for a triple ironman (here), although I managed further during the triple with a few hours sleep.

The hilliest ride was when I had an unsuccessful Everesting attempt, where I made it 7200m of climbing. Monsoon conditions, numb hands and a puncture ended my attempt, although you can read about my other Everesting attempts here and here.

My total mileage in 13,500 miles, which works out at 45 miles per ride, which isn’t too bad, especially as my commuting bike works out at less than 8 miles per ride. Climbing works out at 695m per ride, which again isn’t too bad as I spent a year riding on the flat lands of Hull.


Final pointless statistic is that I’ve received on average 56 kudos per ride, making my Scoot my most kudos’d bike.

So, here’s to the next 200 rides as I’ll blog about him once again when I reach 500.

Segments x 100

One thing I like about Veloviewer is the segment analysis page, which also lets me know that I’ve done over 12,000 different segments. I can also sort them by how many times I’ve done them. I have now done 99 segments 100 times or more.

After ten months of commuting to and from Wigan, there are now five segments in the area that I’ve done 100 times. I’ve attempted the ‘Ince Park’ segment 104 times, although it isn’t too exiting.


Due to traffic and being on my commuting bike I’m nowhere near the top of the leader board, but that OK.

The segment that I’ve done the most times is still ‘Dallas Road Pothole Dash’, with 529 times, although the last time I did it was May last year, so it might not stay at the top too much longer.

The segment that I’ve done that has been done by the most people is ‘Embankment Bridge to Waterloo Bridge’ with over 25,000 different athletes having done it. I remember a few years ago being exited when a segment had been done by over 1,000 different people. If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen 🙂

Lanarkshire to Lancashire

February last year I completed 200 Strava challenges by doing a 200km ride (Strava activity here). So when it came round to 300 challenges I thought about doing something similar, although I wanted the ride to be a bit more memorable. I therefore decided to look at taking a train somewhere, and them cycling back. Glasgow was about the right distance, and I had never cycled half of the route, which made it an ideal choice.

I kept a close eye on the weather, and it looked like Friday would be best, so I booked myself and my bike onto the first train of the day. I also decided to start my ride in Motherwell so that I wouldn’t have to negotiate Glasgow at rush hour. The photo below was taken a few minutes before 6am at Lancaster station, with my pink Principia, loaded with extra food and lights, just in case.


The staff on the train were friendly and I had a very nice cup of good coffee as I watched the changing landscape. The train manager was having a rough morning as there was a man without a ticket, and no way of buying one, who was refusing to get off the train. Transport police were due to meet him in Glasgow.

Getting off in Motherwell I was glad that I had created a route for my Garmin, as I would have got well and truly lost, but less than 10 miles later and I was on the correct road south. Another reason for cycling home from near Glasgow is that there is a road running parallel to the motorway all the way to Carlisle, making it fairly easy to navigate.

First stop of the day was at Abington after 50km, just for a few minutes, before continuing on to Lockerbie for my second stop at 100km.


I was also lucky with the weather, as there was a small tailwind, although this did change later in the day. A few miles past Lockerbie there was the town of Ecclefechan. I had to stop for a photo, and I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce it.


I was nearing the end of my Scottish leg, and onto roads I’d cycled previously. I had also created a route for my Garmin to take me through Carlisle. It is one of those cities that I’m sure there are easy ways to get through on a bike, but this is the fifth time I’ve been there and it doesn’t get any easier, much like trying to cycle through Preston or Hull.

I saw a few other cyclists on the route towards England, many of them fully loaded with panniers, who could well have been doing Lands End to John O’Groats. I used the Flyby function on Strava and saw that one cyclist had done 155 miles from Penrith to Glasgow, almost my exact route but in the other direction.

Once through Carlisle I stopped to refill my water bottles in Dalston and eat more flapjack (made by my lovely wife). Out of Penrith and I once again used a route I had plotted in my Garmin so that I could avoid the A6. Unfortunately my Garmin froze, so I restarted it and saved my ride up to that point. The last time my Garmin had done this I lost everything after that point, so I wasn’t risking losing 70 odd miles. As they say, if it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.

The route from Penrith to Shap was where myself and Helen had intended to go on our Easter mini adventure (read about it here), although it was quite a bit lumpier than the A6. This was the first time on the ride that I had had to use my small chainring, as all of the hills in Scotland had been very gentle. The wind had also picked up and was definitely not a tailwind anymore.

I stopped once again in Shap as my total so far was 202km. One fairly bland Costa’s coffee and a very poor Ginsters sausage roll didn’t make me want to linger in the village for too long (sorry Shap).


The last time I had cycled south from Shap was in terrible weather, so I opted to detour through Orton and Tebay, although the climb out of Tebay is a real killer. I also passed a geological feature that I visited on a field trip as a second year undergraduate, ten years ago. As far as I’m concerned, Geology doesn’t rock!


Up in the Howgills, and the micro climate decided that it was time to rain, and rain hard for half an hour. I made the decision that if it didn’t stop raining I would take the direct route home and not worry about completing 300km. Fortunately it soon stopped as I made my way to Kirkby Lonsdale and a slightly longer route to Morecambe to add a few extra miles.

On the cycle path from Morecambe to Lancaster I was still short, so I completed a few laps of the cycle track at Salt Ayre and then made my way home just as it was getting dark. My full route can be seen below, along with the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty I passed in England. Scotland doesn’t have any designated AONB’s, because the whole country is one.


Total distance cycled was 300.3km with over 2500m of climbing, which took me about 12 and a half hours, including stops (Strava activities here and here). The bike I rode was my old aluminium Principia from 2000 with 9 speed dura-ace group set, which is still by far the nicest and fastest bike I’ve ever ridden (read about it here).

Helen, my beautiful wife, was waiting for me with pizza, beer and a hot bath. She also said how good I looked compared to when I was doing these sort of crazy distances last year, when I was training for a triple ironman (really should blog about that soon).

Overall it was a great day and a great way to tick off my 300th Strava challenge. At the rate at which I’m completing these challenges it will probably only be a year before I reach 400, and I might have already started looking at 400km routes. Edinburgh via Durham to Lancaster. Who’s with me?


300 Strava Challenges

I can’t believe that I’ve completed 300 Strava Challenges. Some of my Strava friends don’t bother with them, while others complete them every now and again. Me, on the other hand, got a bit obsessed with them.

Even when I joined Strava five years ago I was never too fussed about KOM’s or segment hunting. Back then, there wasn’t as many challenges, often only one a month, and they could be a serious challenge. Gradually more and more appeared, sometimes eight in a single month. Not all of them are posted on the Strava challenges page. The website here lists all challenges, although many of them are segment challenges in far off countries.

As I am a triathlete, I can manage both running and cycling challenges, and for an eight period from Dec 15 to July 16 I completed every single challenge, running and cycling, distance and climbing. The last year I’ve not completed as many due to a running injury, but most months I’ve managed the easier running challenges.

Back in Jan 15 I set up a Strava group, only for those athletes who had completed 100 challenges (find it here). We only have five members, so join up if you can.

In Feb last year I celebrated completing 200 challenges by riding 200km (Strava activity here), hence why yesterday I rode 300km to tick off 300 challenges (Strava activities here and here). I’ve set a trend, and while I might manage 400, I think 500 is beyond me.

To finish off my ramble, here are some answers to the more obvious questions.

First challenge:

Rapha Rising Jul 2012

Last challenge:

Gran Fondo May 2017

Toughest challenges:

CTS Bucket List Aug 2012, where the challenge was to ride 683 miles in 7 days. The Alpen-Traun in a day Aug 2014, where you had to complete a ride of 252km (strava activity here). It took me two attempts, as I only managed 245km a week earlier.

Easiest challenge:

What I find easy could well be a significant challenge for someone else, and what I find to be hard could be a walk in the park for someone else.

Memorable challenge:

Quarq Power Trip Feb 2013. The challenge was to complete a 100 mile ride, but there was only a three day window, and it snowed (strava activity here). Another memorable challenge was the Strade Bianche challenge from Feb 2016, as this was my 200th challenge (strava activity here). I emailed Strava and they sent me a T-shirt, water bottle, plastic phone wallet and a truckers cap.

Annoying challenge:

In June 14 I completed a double ironman, but my support crew managed to take my Garmin cable with them, and by the time I got it back I had missed the window to upload my 52 mile run, thereby not completing a challenge.

Favourite challenge:

I like cycling time based challenges. These level the playing field so it doesn’t matter how fast you are. It also doesn’t matter if you do hills, go off road or touring.

Challenges that could be better organised:

I don’t like to criticise Strava, but sometimes the challenges don’t appear to have been thought out thoroughly. For example, earlier in the month I ran a 10k, ticking off three 10k challenges that were all on at the same time. Next month the 10th Rider challenge requires you to complete a 100km ride, which is generally what the Gran Fondo challenges require. Why not have a different time period, or make it a slightly different distance.

Has anyone completed more challenges than me:

I don’t know, but if you do know of anyone, send them over to me.

Finally, here’s to the next bunch of challenges and hopefully I’ll still be here when I reach 400, 500, 600 or more.




Last weekend me and wife, along with most of her family, spent a great weekend on the Llyn Peninsula near Abersoch. We stayed in two lovely farmhouses next to Hell’s Mouth (here). My beautiful wife had been there many times, but it was the first time that I’d been anywhere near the area since I was about five, and had a holiday in Pwllheli.

It took less than four hours to get there, and we did stop for a reasonably priced and surprisingly pleasant coffee from a McDonalds. We also swapped driving. As soon as we got there we took Nelly to the beach. Have you ever seen a happier dog.


Back at the cottage and soon Helen’s family arrived and did what families do, eating, drinking and talking loudly.

The next morning three of us (myself, Helen, and her brother Phil) set off to explore the peninsula. I had plotted a route that would take us around the coast before heading inland and back to Abersoch. Unfortunately I’m not very good at noticing hills on a map, so after five miles we found ourselves at the bottom of a wall.


It kind of went on and on, but the views from the top were amazing.



Once back at the cottages eating and drinking commenced.

The next morning me and Phil went out for a gentle 20 miler out to Aberdaron, and over the same hill as the day before, but up the easier side, which wasn’t much easier.


In the afternoon Phil lent his bike to Helen’s eldest, so myself Dan (Helen’s youngest) and Tom went out for a gentle six miles, without any hills. I think Tom was hooked, so he should be joining us on rides in the future.

More eating and drinking followed.

The final morning, Dan was keen for a quick spin, so we returned to the big hill, which was a bit of a shock to Dan as he lives on the flat lands of the Fylde coast. We then found a different route back with a great gentle descent. Back at the cottages it was time to pack up and head home. The weather had been fantastic as had the cycling, and I would definitely recommend it.

Strava routes from the weekend are here, here, here and here.

Who do you ride with?

I was out cycling yesterday with Garstang Cycling Club for the first time in over two years, and it was great to be back, as I was made to feel right at home. It was a lumpy 85 mile ride with a posh cafe stop. https://www.strava.com/activities/887431400 Thanks to Boz for the photo.


I’m digressing slightly. During the ride Sue mentioned that I didn’t appear to have been out cycling with my wife much so far this year. If only there was some way to find out. Fortuitously, there is. Strava allow their software developers the time to work on side projects, which can be found here http://labs.strava.com/. The projects include the very popular ‘flyby’ along with ‘Project Kudos’.

The project that I’m interested in here, is The Roster. This project shows you, of the many athletes you follow, who you have ridden and run with the most. Apparently I’m a lone wolf, with 79% of my activities being solo.


In the four and a half years that I’ve been on Strava, I’ve ridden or run with 321 athletes that I currently follow, with Chief Bunny (my beautiful wife) at the top with over 8 days, followed by The Prof (3 days) and Ian (1.4 days).

What about 2017? The Roster allows you to pick a year on it’s own. So here is the top six people I’ve been riding with so far this year:

  1. Chief Bunny – 11.3 hours
  2. Professor Badass – 9.3 hours
  3. Chris Clarke – 5.3 hours
  4. Jenny Evans – 5.2 hours
  5. Danny Rogerson – 5.1 hours
  6. Sue Taylor – 4.7 hours

My wife is still in top spot, but we both agree that for various reasons, weather and illness mainly, we haven’t been out together as much as we would like so far this year. Therefore, next Sunday we will be riding out to Dunslop Bridge, one of our favourite rides.