Last year we went away for a week near the town of Bakewell. We stayed in a lovely little cottage and went for walks, runs and even hired a tandem for a couple of hours to ride along the Monsal Trail. We also walked around Carsington Water, a large local reservoir. We also visited Chatsworth House, although as we had Nelly, our silly Pointer with us, we only walked around the gardens, which were absolutely stunning.
Me and Helen, my amazing wife, had a much needed break and totally relaxed. Our weekly exploration is excellently illustrated using Veloviewer.
A couple of months ago we went away for a week near the town of Cockermouth. Once again we had a much needed break, as well as walking and running all over the place, as can be seen in the map below.
I never blogged about our holiday near Bakewell. I was only two months into a new job, which was already proving to be stressful and time consuming. However, I managed to blog most days while we were in the northern lakes. I had dropped down to a four day week, which I would recommend to everyone. Currently I am three weeks with a different company, which again is proving to be stressful, but for different reasons. I accepted the job offer and then before I started they were bought by another company. We don’t become integrated until October, and it will take many months for everything to settle down, but here’s hoping the company we’ve been bought by prove to be good to work for. Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs out there for experienced air quality specialists, although I don’t want to become known for not being able to stick with a firm.
Anyway, this blog was supposed to be highlighting the excellent Strava add-on – Veloviewer, instead of a work related post.
A few days ago I wrote about how I had run a half marathon 71 times since I’d joined Strava (read about it here). This got me thinking about various other statistics. I have completed 100 miles on 113 occasions, although the most recent 100 miler was a couple of years ago, but I was completely gobsmacked when I saw how many 100 km days I’d had. The title of this blog post is correct, on 336 days I have completed 100 km. That is on average 38 times a year. Most of those have been cycling, although on a few times I might have been out and cycled slightly less and then added in a few extra km with a walk or a run. Sadly there isn’t a single day where the 100 km target has been passed with running only, maybe one day.
As for elevation, I have climbed at least 1000 m on 350 days, and on 272 days I have completed at least 5 hours of activities. I’ve also been given Kudos 100 times on 266 occasions, although that is slightly more arbitrary because if you want more Kudos just follow thousands of people and many of them will follow you back, giving you extra Kudos.
I have to be honest and say that I’m surprised by these figures and had probably forgotten just how much training I used to do. I think the mix is a little better now a days, as I enjoy going out with Helen and our silly pooch for long walk/runs, or cycle touring with just Helen. Cafe stops is something we are definitely looking forward to once lockdown 3.0 is over, as well as exploring new areas again.
What about swimming? Last year was a terrible year as I only went for a swim 30 times, and over half of those were before the first lockdown. Looking at my stats and I’ve swam 1 mile on 316 occasions, 2km 300 times and 1 hour 177 times.
A bit of a random statistic for a sunny Tuesday afternoon. Since joining Strava I have run 71 half marathons, or to be more precise, according to Veloviewer, there have been 71 days where I have run at least 21km. I know that a half is 21.1km but knowing what I’m like if I made it to 21km I would definitely run that extra 100m. I’ve been a member of Strava for almost 9 years, so it works out at 8 half marathons a year, which isn’t too shabby.
Veloviewer also tells me that I’ve run 11 marathons and 456 10kms. That is one and a quarter marathons every year and a 10km every week. If I continue at my current rate then I will complete my 100th Strava half marathon approximately three years time.
I have also done a number of half marathons before I joined Strava, but my statistical record keeping does not allow me to know exactly how many I’ve completed, although I have done 8 half marathon races before Strava.
Anyway, I quite like 21.1km as a distance; long enough to be a challenge, but short enough that I am not in too much pain the next day.
We’ve all lost a KOM and had a quick look at who the culprit was. I expect that sometimes it is an error. They’ve left their Garmin on while driving home, or logged a ride as a run. I’ve done it a couple of times, and I’ve also had to flag a couple of erroneous activities from friends. Unfortunately, it appears that Strava no longer sends notification if an activity of yours has been flagged. Fortunately, Veloviewer lists any flagged activities you might have. I only upload my Strava activities to Veloviewer once or twice a month, and I’ve had a flagged activity listed for a few years. A two mile walk where the GPS was a bit funky at the start. I couldn’t be bothered to crop the activity so I left it flagged.
However, when I uploaded Veloviewer this week there was a second flagged activity. A hilly 200km ride back in July 2013. At the time I was doing a lot of big rides, and often fairly quick. This ride my average speed was just under 18mph. I have plenty of friends who can average faster over longer distances. There wasn’t anything untoward about my ride, especially as I was wearing a heart rate monitor, so I have absolutely no idea why someone would feel the need to flag it, and I’ve had no reasoning from Strava.
Anyway, I unflagged it and hopefully it will stay that way. Here is a link to that particular ride. Can you see anything wrong with it?
I have my old friend The Prof to thank for encouraging me to head down dead ends. Longsleddale is one of the best dead ends around, with over four miles of undulating quiet road until you reach an old farm and a dirt track which continues up into the fells.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I have a habit of wanting to find new roads to cycle on and new footpaths to run on, with the aim of ‘getting’ new Veloviewer tiles (read about it here), which my lovely wife tells me is endearing. Last weekends camping trip snagged another half a dozen tiles (read about it here and here), but the lock down has meant that we haven’t travelled as far a field as we would have liked. Yesterday I decided to cycle up to Kendal and up Longsleddale to nab a few more tiles.
I headed north from Kendal up the A6, which is fairly quiet up here, before turning off just after Garth Row. The road drops down suddenly before passing the road on the left to Burnside. From here, as I mentioned earlier, the road undulates as it makes it’s way up the Longsleddale Valley, passing holiday cottages and farms. There are fells either side, first off Whiteside Pike, then White How, before looming in the distance is Shipman Knots and Grey Crag.
After four miles of some of the best cycling ever, the road ends at a small bridge and a farm, although a dirt track continues up and over before dropping down to Haweswater Reservoir. Alternatively you could run up and around the famous Kentmere Pike. There were a number of cars parked along the dirt track so it is obviously a popular spot for runners and mountain bikers, although if you wanted to run Kentmere Pike, Staveley is probably a better place to start and finish from. As I cycled back toward Burnside I was passed by more than a few cars, all of whom looked to be full of sporty types. Hopefully when the whole Covid thing calms down a bit, me and my lovely wife will feel able to head out into the fells of the Lake District or even make a long weekend of it.
Anyway, if you’re in the area, Longsleddale is a great little valley to visit, and don’t be afraid to cycle down the odd dead end, you never know what you might find.
One of the many things that I like about Veloviewer is the ability to have an indepth look at all of your Strava segments. I have now ridden, run, walked or swam over 18,000 different segments. 167 of them I have done at least 100 times. My most completed cycling segment is the ‘Dallas Road Pothole Dash’ which I have done 535 times. When I was doing my PhD at Lancaster Uni I used to cycle there, and this segment was on my route. Running wise and ‘I think I’m going to be sick’ in Fenham Carr has been run by me 554 times. It is on the route I nearly always take when I running with Nelly.
Veloviewer also allows you to look at which segments you’ve done have been completed by the most people. Cycling and the segment ‘Clappersgate to the bridge’ has been ridden by just over 29,000 different people. This segment is in the cycling hotspot of Ambleside, so lots of tourists. For running, the segment is ‘Have you ever said whoossshh, buuurrrrr, clonk?’ completed by 55,592 different runners. This is on The Embankment in London and while this road is part of the London marathon route, this particular segment goes in the other direction.
Amazingly I am in first place on 11 segments. One of them, ‘New Quay Road’ in Lancaster has been completed by almost 5,000 different people. It isn’t a good segment as half of it is on a shared use path, where you shouldn’t be hammering it. In my defense, it was very early in the morning one summer, before anyone else was awake, when I had my attempt. My second fastest time would be in third place overall. I haven’t got anywhere near the top of a leaderboard for many years.
Veloviewer Pro is only £10 a year, and I think it is probably better value than paying for Strava.
It’s not a New Years resolution, more of a life’s motto. Run somewhere new. Ride somewhere new. Over the Christmas and New Year break, me and my lovely wife managed a trilogy of lake runs. First up was Ullswater (read about it here), then Haweswater Reservoir (read about it here) and finally Wast Water (read about it here). All three were new adventures for us.
It can be very easy to run or ride the same old routes, day in day out, and going somewhere new can often mean a car journey or a train ride, but I think it’s worth it. Of course if you’ve ever read my blog you’ll know that I like to measure these things. Fortunately there are two websites that allow this. On the micro scale you have City Strides (read about it here and here), and on the macro scale you have Veloviewer (read about it here). Below are two images from Veloviewer showing where I had run and ridden by the end of 2018, and the second by the end of 2019.
At this scale the changes are not obvious, apart from the trip around Northern Ireland (read about it here), however, by the end of 2019 I added almost 1,000 new tiles or squares. On the smaller scale I have now run over 20% of the roads in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.
Neither metric is flawless. Our Ullswater run, while most of it was new, didn’t add any Veloviewer tiles, and City Strides also has a few bugs. Apparently there is a cycling equivalent to City Strides, but it has more bugs than a Trump Hotel mattress. Of course you could just run or ride in new places without having to add it to Strava!
One thing is certain, me and Helen (often with our silly pooch) will continue to ride and run new places, having small and large adventures.
Last December I had a go at running every day (read about it here). I didn’t quite manage it as I had one day off in the middle of the month the day after the very tough Bowland Half Marathon (read about it here). Of course there are plenty of people out there who are running every day for far longer than one month. Emily Rudow from Toronto managed to run a half marathon every day for 74 days, and famously Ron Hill ran every day for 50 years. A couple of Ron’s ‘runs’ were up and down a hospital corridor on crutches, but I’m not going to quibble as it is a very impressive feat (or feet).
I like to think that triathlon training is a bit easier on the legs, in that instead of a run you can go for a swim or bike ride. I’ve managed to train every day for over three years. (For ‘train’ read upload something to Strava). Some of those days have been pretty epic, while others have been little more than a 20 minute swim or 15 minute gentle run.
Inevitably all things must come to an end. My beautiful wife had been really ill last week, and I managed to pick up whatever it was she had, so yesterday I spent most of the day in bed and didn’t leave the house. Training streak over. 1154 consecutive days from 27th September 2016 to 24th November 2019. I thought that I might be upset or annoyed, but I’m actually quite sanguine about it, possibly knowing that if I have another full on rest day it won’t affect my streak.
If I’m feeling better in a few days then I might have another attempt at running every day in December, but you know what, it doesn’t matter if I don’t make it. Just enjoy your running (or swimming, or cycling, insert other sport here).
I’ve blogged a couple of times before about the Veloviewer leaderboards (read about it here and here). I remember stating that there was a possibility that I could reach an Eddington score for swimming of 90 minutes by Easter this year. I was a little optimistic, but I have now reach 91 minutes. This means that on 91 occasions I have swum for at least 91 minutes.
Amazingly the top score of 90 minutes hasn’t increased for almost a year. Either they are no longer on Veloviewer or just haven’t uploaded for a while. Either way I don’t expect to remain at the top spot for very long. It’s nice while it lasts though, especially as I’m a very long way from the top twenty for all of the other leaderboards.
A couple of months ago I stuffed my Trek 920 into the car and drove up to Pooley Bridge for a bit of a mixed ride. Plenty of hills and a few off road sections, hopefully nothing that the old beast couldn’t manage. Obviously much of the ride was dictated by the need for more tiles (it’s a Veloviewer thing).
Setting off and the weather was great and the hills were immediate. Matterdale was a bit of a shock that early, but at least I was riding on some lovely quiet roads. A couple of deadends followed, deliberate, one on road and the other off, before a small section of illicit or illegal riding.
I crossed over the A66 and rode down a small track to the edge of Troutbeck Forest. As the sign said ‘no public right of way’ I continued. A lifted my bike over a padlocked fence and rode down a very pleasant track, completely devoid of anyone.
I got slightly annoyed by this. Who are the land owners and what gives them the right to fence off such a large and beautiful area of the countryside. See also much of the land south of Lancaster and in the Trough of Bowland which has been set aside for shooting. What harm would a few bicycles actually do to your precious fenced off land. (Rant over).
Back on the road and I did a shoot loop up to Mungrisdale before dropping down into Threkeld. This next section I was a little unsure whether I would be up for it as it was a long off-road bit on the Old Coach Road.
It was a bit rough and steep in places but I managed to ride most of it. I also saw an older couple riding on e-bikes in the other direction. Once I made it safely back onto tarmac I rode along the lakeside road back to Pooley Bridge. Not the best road as it’s narrow and fairly busy.
Not being in any rush I decided to throw in one last long dead end on the other side of Ullswater. This was a brilliant road; hardly any traffic and a monster of a switchback climb near the end.
If you love obscure climbs this is a classic, and although it wasn’t too long my legs were feeling it. Another great little ride on roads and tracks that I’d never ridden before.