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.

skipton1

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.

Skipton2

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.

Skipton3

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.

skipton5

skipton4

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.

 

Advertisements

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.

Untitled

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.

The Rapha Festive 500 – 2017 Edition

The Rapha sponsored Festive 500 has become a bit of a Strava tradition, with the aim being to cycle 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It works out at 62.5km per day, or just under 40 miles. I’ve now completed six editions of this challenge, and you can read about the 2016 challenge here.

If you completed the challenge then Rapha send you a nice cloth badge, although I forgot to update my address last year, so I never received it, which was a shame. I mentioned last year that in 2012 only 4,000 people completed the challenge. This year I finished lower than 16,000th, and I did a bit extra so there could be another thousand or more behind me, which is an amazing achievement.

As expected the weather can play a big part in the challenge, and there were a couple of days when the temperature was below freezing with plenty of ice about. For that reason over half of this year’s challenge was completed on my Trek 920, the big tyre’d beast. Below is an image from Veloviewer showing where exactly I cycled for my 500+km.

festive 500 2017

Last year I posted some stats on how much of the total festive 500 distances has been completed on each of my bikes, so here is an update to include 2017.

  • Trek Cobia 112.7km 3.7%
  • Cannondale 145.9km 4.8%
  • Forme 219.2km 7.2%
  • Trek 920 276.5km 9.1%
  • Colnago 1051.9km 34.6%
  • Scott 1230.2km 40.5%

Last year I mentioned that I would have expected to still have the Scott, and as a consequence it has completed the most miles for the combined festive 500 challenges.

Looking forward to next year.

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.

P1010786

P1010888

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.

20170625_102147

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.

wigan

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.

20170519_055135

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.

20170519_100401

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.

20170519_121608

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).

20170519_162103

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

300km

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?