Ride Every Tile – Cluster Potential

A couple of weeks ago I ran Canalathon, a 50km run from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge along the Rochdale Canal (read about it here). When I managed to upload it to Strava and then Veloviewer I found out that I had nabbed another 20 tiles, although none of them are added to my Maximum Cluster. This got me thinking about what the potential is, of the tiles that I added, to be added to my cluster.

cluster potential

The map above shows the bottom edge of my cluster, and the blue line is the route for Canalathon. As you can see I’m only a few tiles away from adding these new tiles to my cluster, in effect a high cluster potential, which is good.

The other extreme would be when me, my beautiful wife and unruly dog all went to Skye for a week. We managed a couple of rides (read about one of them here) and a few runs, and over the week notched up another 50 odd new tiles. However, it is over 400km from the my new tiles to the northern edge of my cluster in Carlisle, so the potential for adding these tiles to my cluster would obviously be very low. Never say never, there are some mighty large clusters out there.

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Veloviewer Maximum Square Revisted

Back in January I blogged about my maximum explorer square on Veloviewer (read about it here). To recap, a map can be split into squares or tiles, if you cycle or run into or through a square then it is highlighted or ‘ticked off’ on Veloviewer. If you can visit a whole load of them together you can create what is known as a ‘maximum square’. In January I was pleased that I had managed to expand my max square up to 16 x 16. I also mentioned that without swimming across the Ribble it would be difficult to expand my max square.

I’m sure that you can guess that I have managed to increase my max square. Not by swimming across the Ribble, but by cycling and running around Blackburn. By the middle of the year I had increased it to 18 x 18.

18x18

In the north west it isn’t always easy to increase your max square, which is why I prefer to chase my max cluster score (read about my latest update here). The largest max squares are almost into three figures with the largest being 97 x 97. If you live in the middle of your max square it obviously makes it easier to expand it. To reach the nearest point of mine it is a 10 mile ride, and nearly 50 miles to the far point, including plenty of hills and built up areas, which isn’t the most pleasant of rides.

But, my job has moved office, allowing me to be able to go for a run in the morning before work, ticking off a few squares that are inaccessible by bike. A 70 mile ride from Horwich ticked off a few more, and now my max square is up to 23 x 23.

23x23

23 x 23 isn’t very large and only takes me up 245th on the Veloviewer leaderboard, but as I said earlier, the north west isn’t the easiest area. There is still potential to increase this further, although I will be focusing on my max cluster.

Veloviewer Maximum Cluster Update

Back in July I blogged about the Bearded Tile Hounds (It’s a Strava group) and how I had managed to link up my Veloviewer maximum cluster all the way to Hull (read about it here). I’ve been slowly adding to my cluster, although it’s hard work as I don’t always have access to the car. September was a bad month for my cluster as I didn’t add a single tile, but I’ve been trying to make amends in October. I’ve done a couple of runs before work near Horwich which has added a few tiles and last Friday I took the train to Wigan for a 70 mile ride across to Formby and back. The route was a bit all over the place as I tried to obtain as many squares as possible, and included quite a few sections of farmtracks and bridleways, although it was fairly flat.

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This was my cluster before the ride.

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And this was my cluster after.

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Annoyingly I missed a couple of easy tiles with poor route planning. However, I did get all of the more difficult ones, and I have also collected all of the tiles around Skelmersdale, which is a truly awful place to cycle around. When it was built it was designed to be a cycling utopia, much like Milton Kenyes, but the cycle paths go off in random directions, suddenly end and are in a really poor state of repair. The roads also feel too dangerous to cycle on. On the whole, not a great place to cycle.

Fridays ride did add 33 tiles and 54 tiles to my cluster, moving me from 38th to 35th on the Veloviewer leaderboard. A long way to go to catch either my old friend The Prof, or to make the top twenty, but I’ll keep on plugging away at those pesky tiles.

Veloviewer Leaderboard Revisited

Back in January I blogged about the Veloviewer leaderboards, and how I was pleased to have made the top twenty on one list, notably swimming distance so far in 2018. Not particularly impressive, but you can read about it here. I’m pleased to say that I’m still in the top twenty for swimming distance so far in 2018, but only just. I’m also near the top for swimming Eddington time, with 58 minutes. That means in 2018 I have swimmed for 58 minutes at least 58 times. I’m not going to go through every leaderboard for 2018, as there are quite a few.

The reason that I’ve revisited this topic is because I have made the leaderboard for all years. Swimming only, but Eddington scores for km, miles and time.

leader1leader2leader3

When you look at the overall leaderboards for Eddington Miles, you need to have cycled 120 miles 120 times, but swimming it’s only 5 miles. If you’re not a swimmer you might not realise just how tough a 5 mile swim is. It would take a great dea of swimming for me to get any higher on those leaderboards, but Eddington time, I think by the end of the year I could get up to 80 minutes. 1st place for swimming Eddington time is only 90 minutes. I say only, because a 90 minute swim doesn’t half take it out of you. Hopefully by Easter next year I might have reached 90 minutes, although by then 1st place will probably be over 100 minutes.

As for other leaderboards, my old friend The Prof is into the top ten for his Maximum Cluster, although I am up to 33rd. Still a long way to go.

 

The Bearded Tile Hound

The Prof set up a group on Strava called The Beards of Bowland. I’ve blogged about them a few times (here, here and here). Recently The Prof has become a bit obsessed with tile hunting and expanding his maximum cluster and re-named the Beards of Bowland as The Tilehunters. As I’m an admin in the group I promptly re-named it as The Bearded Tilehounds.

I don’t have the time or the opportunity to expand my cluster as often as The Prof, but over the last couple of months I have added almost 1,000 tiles to my max cluster. The image below is from the middle of May this year.

cluster old

In the last couple of months I’ve had an overnight trip to Liverpool, a weekend away with my beautiful wife in the south lakes, three days cycling to and from York, and yesterday an off-road foray around Shap. This has resulted in my cluster now being 2,444 tiles and I’m up to 28th on the Veloviewer leaderboard (still some way to go to make the top 20). My revised max cluster can be seen below.

cluster new

My cluster now stretches from Penrith in the north down to Liverpool at it’s southern most point, and from Grizebeck in the west all the way to Hull and Scunthorpe in the east, via Skipton, Wetherby and York.

I lived in Hull for over a year a couple of years ago, so I’m pleased to have linked my cluster across the country. Of course I was living in Hull before the great Squarepocalypse (read about it here), so there are plenty of missing tiles.

What’s next for my max cluster? Tomorrow I’m supporting friends from COLT at IMUK, and I plan on a short ride around Bolton, an hour at the most, and probably only adding a dozen tiles. After that I should be able to link up Penrith to Carlisle, and across from Penrith to Appleby and Kirkby Stephen. It’s not always as easy to add tiles up in the north of England as there are fells and moorland with no easy access, but I will keep on plugging away.

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.

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.

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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.