The Squarepocalypse

June 17th 2017 will go down in history as the day of the squarepocalypse.

What?

This only means something if you use Veloviewer, and like to keep track of your explorer score. I’ve blogged about how much I enjoy the explorer score function and my maximum explorer square here.

Last week Veloviewer had a tweak with the algorithms, making everything more accurate. The result is that my total number of squares that I have visited went down from 6265 to 5816, and my maximum explorer square from 15×15 to 12×12. The Veloviewer blog explains all of the reasons behind this change, and how it works here. Interestingly a couple of squares which I now haven’t visited are located only a couple of miles away, so they will be easy to add, others not so much.

Thankfully last week I was touring Scotland with my beautiful wife, adding another 500 new explorer squares, taking me above my previous score of 6265. Additionally, Veloviewer has added a maximum Cluster score. This is explained far better than I ever could on the Explorer Square blog, here.

The image below is my maximum cluster of 597 tiles.

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Increasing the size of this will probably be easier than trying to enlarge my maximum explorer square, and if I add those two squares nearby it should add another 5 or 6 to my cluster score, which I will try to do in the next week.

Veloviewer Explorer Max Square

I’ve been a big fan of Veloviewer for many years, but for me one of the most exciting features was the introduction of the Explorer Score (almost up to 6000). The obvious extension was to see what your maximum explorer square is. This was introduced a couple of years ago, and when I first noticed it, I had a few 9 x 9 squares in the Lancaster/Preston area.

At the time I was living in Hull, so I then made an effort to increase my square there. It took a while, but eventually I reached 12 x 12. This involved cycling and running down more than a couple of dead ends and farm tracks. To get bigger would be a struggle with the Humber Estuary to the south and an army barracks to the north east. There was the potential to increase it to the west, but before I could I moved back to Lancaster.

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After a few months I had managed to reach 14 x 14, which again involved dead ends and even cycling through a caravan park near the coast. I also cycled out to a farm with my running shoes and crossed a couple of fields just to add one more square. From here it would be again difficult to increase the size, due to private land without a single path or track, and also the sea to the west.

Recently I noticed that I could potentially obtain a larger square stretching from Fleetwood to Preston. Half a dozen rides later during December and January and I am now the proud owner of a 15 x 15 maximum explorer square. I had to cycle down more dead ends and caravan parks, and even a dual carriageway.

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Once again I am limited to how far I can extend it, with sea to the north west and to the south Preston Sewage Treatment Works. To the north east there are a whole range of tracks that would be great for cycling….

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…but, no access. I could possibly run or walk, or even cycle at 3am. There is a chance that I could get to 16 x 16, as I only need another 7 squares, but with the Ribble Estuary any more will be virtually impossible for me.

The approximate distance from one side to the other is only 20km, so imagine how larger the largest maximum square of 60 x 60 is. Somewhere in excess of 80km I guess. There was a thread on Facebook where people were describing what they had done to obtain new squares, including Fat Biking across a frozen lake and being turned away by gunpoint from army sites.

For now I think I’m done trying to extend my max square, but maybe one day I could canoe across the Ribble?

2016 – End of year review

December

Before I give you run down on 2016, a quick re-cap on December. I completed another 9 Strava challenges, taking my total to 272. I also added 67 more explorer tiles, 140 new segments and completed the Lancaster parkrun once.

2016

So what did I do in 2016. I managed 17 races/events, which surprised me, and it did include a continuous triple ironman (blog entry coming soon), 4 sportives and 11 parkruns.

Distance wise, VeloViewer once again comes up trumps.

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It wasn’t the highest total for cycling, but it was for running, even with hardly running in the last couple of months. Over the year I also rode 8 different bikes:

  • Brompton (borrowed) 126km
  • Fuji 164km
  • Trek Cobia (sold) 227km
  • Colnago (given away) 501km
  • Trek 920 645km
  • Principia 763km
  • Forme 2618km
  • Scott 11149km

Most of my miles have been done on my Scott, which is in for a much needed service next week at The Edge Cycleworks in Lancaster. Next year I vow to ride my Fuji and Principia more. I have new tri bars for the fuji and will attempt to set it up more comfortably.

One measure that I love is the explorer score, which shows new places that I’ve been, and has gradually increased over the year.

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Some more interesting cumulative stats from my years on Strava:

  • Kudos; 2012 – 61, 2013 – 1591, 2014 – 5234, 2015 – 15150, 2016 – 40273.
  • Explorer; 2012 – 1402, 2013 – 2624, 2014 – 3938, 2015 – 5096, 2016 – 5932.
  • Maximum explorer square; 2012 – 6×6, 2013 – 9×9, 2014 – 9×9, 2015 – 12×12, 2016 – 14×14.

Plans for 2017:

  • Increase my explorer score, and take my max square to 15×15 or more.
  • Ironman UK. Not sure how that happened.
  • More photos, stopping more often to look at the views.
  • Make the most of every day.
  • Support my beautiful wife as she attempts to swim 50 miles and run 500 miles in 2017.
  • Achieve 300 Strava challenges.
  • Blog once a week, and maybe even blog about last years triple 🙂

Here’s wishing you all a great 2017. Keep on keeping on.

A bit more Eddington

The brilliant VeloViewer not only calculates your Eddington score in miles, it also does it for km, climbing and time, as well as being able to filter it by year. As I mentioned in my previous post, my Eddington score for miles has reached 100, but for km’s it is up to 135, so I have completed 135 rides of at least 135km, not too bad. Time wise my score is at 235 minutes, which shows how much I cycle, if I’ve done 235 rides that have been almost 4 hours in length, or how slow I am.

Climbing is a bit more tricky, so VeloViewer has made each step 20m, so I have now completed 85 rides with 1640m of elevation.

Yearly, 2014 was my biggest year with scores of 64 miles, 86 km and 1100m (55 rides) for climbing.

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As you can see there isn’t a great deal of difference in the last four years by the middle of May, but gradually 2014 pulls ahead. Elevation wise 2015 was the lowest with 760m (38 rides), which I have almost overtaken already in 2016. This is what happens when you spend a year living in the flat lands of Hull and then move back to hilly Lancaster.

Currently there is a tough climbing challenge on Strava, so my climbing score for 2016 will increase, but I’m not sure if I’ll achieve 1000m like I did in 2013 and 2014.

More ramblings soon.

Eddington score

Yesterday I managed to reach the milestone of 100 miles for my Eddington score. Some of you may know what this is, but for the rest of you it means that I have managed to complete one hundred rides of 100 miles. Quite an achievement, but what makes the Eddington score so addictive is that it gets exponentially harder.

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For example, a score of 10 miles requires only 10 rides of 10 miles, and a score of 50 miles requires 50 rides of 50 miles, but for myself the road is steep from here on. To obtain a score of 110 miles I will require an additional 51 rides of at least 110 miles. This is because I set myself a target of 100 miles, and therefore on many occasions, once I had cycled 100 miles I didn’t feel the need to continue. Steve Abraham, on the other hand, has a score of over 200 miles due to his attempt on the world distance record in 2015. It is highly unlikely that I will ever get a score that high, but maybe in a couple of years I will reach 110 miles or higher.

Note: Eddington image is a screenshot from the excellent Strava add-on site Veloviewer, well worth the £10 a year premium membership.

Veloviewer challenge

As we all know, I’m a big fan of Strava, but there is another website that runs alongside Strava. It’s called veloviewer and it runs a clever API that extracts all of your data from Strava and gives you a whole load more stats. These include details on every segment that you’ve ridden/run. You can sort your segments to see which one you’re nearest to obtaining a KOM or which segments have been ridden the most times. You can also easily find which segment that you’ve ridden most. For me this is Bailrigg Lane on the way to work, which I have ridden over 400 times.

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Bailrigg Ln Hill near Lancaster University isn’t the largest hill by a long way and it’s not a very long segment either. It has been ridden by almost 300 different people though.

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I have ridden the Bailrigg Ln Hill segment near Lancaster University over 400 times, with my quickest time only a week ago. My fastest time also puts me in the top 10 overall.

Why is this interesting? It’s not really, but I came up with a challenge. To try and beat my PR on my most ridden segment. I created a discussion on the Veloviewer group on Strava and a few people were up for it. The idea is that your most ridden segment will have a very fast time because you’ll hit it under every condition, wet, dry, tailwind, tired legs and one day you’ll hit it with fresh legs and a tailwind, making it a difficult challenge. It took me a few attempts before I managed to beat my PR on the 6th July 2014.

Of course the first reply to my discussion was `awesome beard mate’, but a few other people posted comments about how they were going to try it. A few days later the first few comments came in from people who had managed to beat their PR. Sometimes you need a little challenge to keep you motivated.

EDIT, updated 5th March 2017

Bailrigg Ln Hill has now been ridden by over 800 different athletes, and I’m down to 19th position. It is also not my most ridden segment. Top segment is now Dallas Road Pothole Dash, which I’ve done 529 times.

I also have 88 segments that I’ve done over 100 times, 88 cycling and 6 running. Top running segment is Hill through the woods, with 179 times by 137 different people, with my top spot at 6th.

The segment which has been done by most people is Ambleside Dash with over 15,000 different athletes, although my position is quite low as I’ve only done it once.

At some point in the future I will revisit this topic in more detail.