Sunday, 31 August 2008

Fine and mellow

Most links to this site come from other recreational cyclists, and I've recently been honoured with a link from the Planet OSM aggregation site, so there is a certain pressure to keep posting entries about my cycling and mapping efforts. I am grateful for the links, and of course my cycling efforts are gripping, and worthy. But there is more to life. So on a different subject altogether, here is a reaction to an article in today's Observer, titled "The 50 greatest arts videos on YouTube".

No doubt the intent was to be controversial, and encourage debate, but what an odd choice! To pick just one example, they recommend Billie Holiday, singing "Strange Fruit", which is very conventional, and hardly Billie Holiday at her best.

I much prefer this, with Billie, Lester Young and others. Seven minutes of music to make your toes curl.

(To be fair, the list also included Karajan conducting Beethoven's 5th, which is pretty impressive music and film making).

Optional extras

In addition to the main circuit of the Round Berkshire Cycle Route, there are a number of extensions that provide either an alternative route, or a link to some point of interest. Now that I have tagged the main route on Open Street Map, the logical next step is to tag the extensions.

So yesterday I set out to mark up the alternative route round Bracknell, circling the town to the north, rather following than the main route, which circles Bracknell to the south. As usual with this circuit, the map gives a general idea of the route to take, but it is not easy to follow in detail. On the main circuit there are supporting directions, and signposts on the road, but on the alternative route, there is only the (rather vague) map as a guide.

So, while I think I managed to follow the route, I am far from certain. As a result I cannot confidently mark it up, and I think it will have to remain unknown to OSM - at least until I can think of a way of firming up exactly which roads to follow (any suggestions would be gratefully received).

It's a shame, because it turned out that it isn't a bad way to get from North Ascot to Crowthorne.

I covered 43 miles in total, on quite a warm day, drank a lot of water, and certainly enjoyed myself - apart from the puncture I got at the most distant point on the ride. But more of that later.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Guardian backs internet mapping shock

In an editorial today, responding to the rather wacky concerns of the president of the British Cartographic Society, the Guardian is broadly supportive of Internet mapping, and mentions Open Streetmap. It conflates geo-tagging and mapping, but what the heck, it shows the right spirit.

Rather than comment further on the comment, lets go back to the source: What Mary Spence, the President of the British Cartographic Society, seems to fear is that by concentrating on driving directions, corporate internet maps deny us the rich detail provided by traditional maps.

“Corporate cartographers are demolishing thousands of years of history – not to mention Britain’s remarkable geography – at a stroke by not including them on maps which millions of us now use every day. We’re in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique; giving us a feel for a place even if we’ve never been there.”

What nonsense.

She sees projects such as Open Street Map, as a good thing: "the first step in the fight back against ‘corporate blankwash’".

But let's not lose sight of the fact that there is a real world out there, which exists whatever the maps show. As the President of the British Cartographic Society knows, there have been route maps for hundreds of years (the picture above is from an 18th century road map - the internet is hardly leading the way); and now internet mapping is adding new capabilities, such as user generated content, personalisation, and so on (which are supported by commercial providers such as Flickr, and Google, as well as by open projects like OSM).

So congratulations to Mary Spence for a clever bit of headline grabbing, which has obviously worked (it has been widely covered). I'm a bit of a fan of Open Street Map myself, but to paint all this as the final stand of a few plucky individuals against the onslaught of corporate cartographers plotting to wipe out thousands of years of British history is taking it all just a little bit too seriously.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Round Berkshire Cycle Route

The changes I made to the mapping of the Round Berkshire Cycle Route have now been rendered, and pretty much the whole circuit can be seen on Open Street Map.
There are a couple of mistakes, where I tagged the route wrongly, and although I have now fixed them, it will be another week before the fixes appear on a new version of the map.
Also, I'm not really happy with the way that, after rendering, the local Round Berkshire route hides Sustrans regional route 52. This is no fault of the people who put all this together, who are doing a wonderful job. But I think the Sustrans route should receive precedence, so today I have slightly changed the way that I have tagged the Round Berkshire Route. The whole route is still in the underlying database, but (assuming I understand the rendering process) when the map is updated next week, where the Round Berkshire route follows a Sustrans route, the Sustrans route will be plotted, rather than the Round Berkshire Route.
Inevitably it's a bit of a compromise, but we'll see how it looks next week. There are a few alternative paths that I want to add next, and I haven't checked yet to see how much of this can be transferred to my GPS.
Meanwhile, I know that at least one visitor to Tlatet is riding parts of this route, so comments are welcome.

(The "official" map is here).

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Roundabout we go...

I think I'm pretty confident on the bike, even on busy roads, but I am never happy negotiating a big roundabout with multiple lanes.

Part of the problem is that I'm not sure what route I should take. Following the inner track means having to cross every lane twice - once on the way in, and once on the way out; while following the outer lane means crossing every exit; and all at a lower speed than everyone else.

I suspect that the proper way to negotiate a roundabout on a bike is to follow the same path as a car would: using the inside track, but taking proper control of the lane, rather than trying to sidle up to the kerb. However, this approach always feels a bit hairy - particularly on a large roundabout, where there often isn't much lane discipline. Rightly, or wrongly, I am always tempted to stay near the outer edge. It feels safer, even if it probably isn't. (I believe that most cycle accidents on roundabouts happen when crossing the junctions).

It was going through this roundabout in Newbury at the weekend that got me pondering about this (at least I think it was this one - the picture is from Wikipedia, but it looked very similar). That was the first time that I had encountered such detailed cycle lanes on a roundabout. Presumably the tracks are intended to let cyclists stay near the edge, while giving them priority over cars where the lanes cross. It wasn't very busy when I went round, so I couldn't really tell how this works out in practice.

Where there are no marked lanes, I'm still left wondering: are the only answers

  • always take the first exit on a large roundabout, and go where it takes you; or
  • wimp out, get off, and push the bike round the footpath

Or is there a good way to negotiate a large roundabout on a bicycle, that everyone else knows, but I haven't figured out yet?

Monday, 25 August 2008

Early warning system

There were not many cars on the country lanes yesterday, but it was odd how many of them sounded their horns as they came up behind me.

On the busier roads near home, when somebody does that it normally turns out to be young lads in a hatchback, who seem to think they've just invented a huge joke. On the quiet roads in West Berkshire, it always seemed to be an elderly couple in a small family car.

I am pretty sure that they were sounding the horn to let me know that they were behind me. What they obviously don't realise is that on a quiet country lane, a cyclist can hear a car coming from a long way back, and I was probably aware that they were there long before they knew I was there.

In any case, I put it down to some considerate, but rather unneccesary behaviour. On the other hand, perhaps I have been misjudging those thoughtful young lads in hatchbacks, kindly looking out for the well-being of a grey-haired cyclist.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Walbury Hill

After bailing out at Great Shefford last week, there was a 30 mile gap left in my coverage of the Round Berkshire Cycle route. So today I decided to complete the loop. West Berkshire is undoubtedly the most attractive part of the circuit, so it could be said that I left the best until last.

There are a few bits of the circuit (like alternative routes) that I want to go back and fix, but now I've plotted all of the main path on Open Street Map. It won't be rendered until later in the week, but when it is, I'll post a link here.

When I woke up the weather was somewhere between raining and drizzling, but the forecast promised that it would clear, so I set off anyway. I wanted to start and finish in Newbury, and since First Great Western was operating a replacement bus service to Newbury today, I stuck the bike in the back of the car. By the time I passed Reading the rain had stopped and the sky was beginning to turn blue. For the rest of the day there was occassional rain, but nothing to make it worth getting out the waterproof.

After parking at Newbury station, I followed the gentle climb back up to Great Shefford to restart the circuit. On the route itself, up to Lambourn, and then to Membury the climb gradually gets steeper, but the scenery in this part of Berkshire is pretty special, and after a lot of climbing, the descent from Membury to Hungerford was very welcome: through some lovely woodland.

I had a break in Hungerford for coffee and a sandwich, then crossed the Kennet valley. This is really pleasant, fairly flat riding, along narrow country lanes, but after Inkpen, the steep climb up Walbury Hill defeated me. This is the only part of the whole circuit where I've had to get off the bike and push.

Walbury Hill is said to be the highest point in South East England at 297 metres (Leith Hill in Surrey, at 294 metres, makes the same claim, on the basis that either Walbury Hill is not in South East England, or because there is a 20 metre folly on Leith Hill, taking the total height to 317 metres, or 1,029 ft above sea level). Having climbed it, I'm siding with Walbury Hill. In any case, the view from the top is pretty spectacular, and almost makes the climb worthwhile.

After Walbury Hill, it is pretty much all downhill back into Newbury, and with a following wind, I finished this part of the route at a cracking pace.

My total distance was just over 40 miles; but with all those hills, my total time, and average speed will remain a secret between me and my cycle computer.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Cycling does wonders for your moustache

Various places have linked to this Hungarian "cycling to work day" video. I'm not sure what they are saying, but I think it is fairly self-explanatory.

To comment further could lead to all kinds of trouble.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Three different evening rides

On monday, a short four mile trundle round local back streets, for no particular reason, other than getting on the bike for a while.

On tuesday, another attempt to beat my time round the ten mile loop over Winter Hill. (I did it in 44 minutes, which isn't my fastest time, but close; and a distinct improvement on the previous two attempts. Chris Hoy, watch out).

And on thursday a gentle 18 mile stretch to Windsor and back, on a lovely evening, with just the right amount of cool breeze, and enough clouds in the sky to make interesting patterns.

"The great source of pleasure is variety"
Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Shiny new pedals

After getting rid of the slack on the old pedals, stopping the click, then losing the dust cap on the subsequent outing, I went to get replacement pedals from the local bike shop on Saturday. I fitted them on Sunday morning, before embarking on my long weekend ride.

It turned out to be much easier to replace the whole pedal than to make adjustments. So now the bike is blinged up with shiny new pedals.

It's not a very big bike shop, but they still had a wider range of pedals than I expected. The assistant said that there wasn't much to chose between them, and I could see no rational way of making a decision, so in the end I followed much the same principle as chosing a bottle of plonk. I picked something at random from the bottom half of the price range, avoiding the cheapest.

Perhaps I should have been a bit more scientific, but they seem robust, they were easy enough to fit, they go round and round like they are supposed to, and there were no ill-effects after a long ride. So I guess they do the job.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Lunch break

Last week I followed the Round Berkshire Route from Maidenhead to Reading, and a bit beyond. That section of the route is fairly urban. It is not unpleasant, but nor is it particularly attractive.

Today I pushed further, from Tidmarsh, near Pangbourne, to Great Shefford, north of Hungerford. This is a far more attractive part of the route, passing almost entirely through countryside, along minor roads. For much of today I was seeing more horses than cars. There are also some wonderful views: which is another way of saying that it is fairly hilly. But the long hills are not too steep, and the steep hills are not too long.

As if the landscape wasn't enough of a treat, it also turned out to be wonderful weather for a long ride - mostly sun, but cool, and no rain. There was a bit more wind than I would have chosen for myself, but as the air has started to cool off a bit, even a fairly steady head wind wasn't entirely unwelcome.

It was noticeable that there was a lot of harvesting under way. I guess they are keen to get the crops in while the weather holds. However, I had made my way home and we had finished dinner before the rain started, so hopefully the farmers weren't entirely disappointed.

For once I stopped at a pub for my lunchtime break - the Swan at East Ilsley. This is a 16th century coaching inn, which I used to visit many years ago, when it was a very traditional village pub. Now it has been modernised. I must admit that I see this as a bit of a mixed blessing, but it was very pleasant, and pretty busy so I guess I am in a minority.

As the picture shows, I used the lunch break to work out how far I could reach in the afternoon. In the event I later decided that my lunchtime plans had been a bit too ambitious, and at Great Shefford I decided to to call it a day , and headed for Newbury to get the train home.

They were operating a replacement bus service from Newbury to Reading while they worked on the track, and because there was a lot of activity, the driver was a bit iffy about taking the bike on the coach. It all turned out fine in the end, and I wasn't too late getting home. Aching a bit, fairly tired, but happy with a very satisfying 44 miles.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Global reach

In the last month, Tlatet has received visits from 26 different countries.

puɐlɐǝz ʍǝu ɯoɹɟ ǝuo puɐ 'ɐılɐɹʇsnɐ ɯoɹɟ sɹoʇısıʌ ɹnoɟ ǝɥʇ oʇ ǝɯoɔlǝʍ lɐıɔǝds ɐ puǝʇxǝ oʇ ǝʞıl plnoʍ ı 'uɐɔ ı ǝsnɐɔǝq ʇsnɾ puɐ

With thanks to Revfad.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

OSM Cycle map with shading

As promised with a teaser some time ago, the OSM Cycle map is now acquiring shading to show altitude. It looks stunning enough to encourage even more cyclists to trace even more routes (take a look at Holland).

Sustrans has achieved many great things, but their online Mapping is not one of them.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


OpenStreetmap shows a tertiary road labelled C100, runnning from junction 4 on the M40 (Handy Cross / High Wycombe) to Marlow.

The first time I saw this, I thought it was a mistake. The road exists, but the number C100 doesn't seem to appear anywhere else, and while we all know A- and B-roads, I've never seen a C-road before.

But then, by Googling the Interweb, I discover that there are references to this road as C100 in several places: here, on the Highways Agency Site; here, on the Buckinghamshire county council site.

What's more, there are loads of roads with C-numbers, used by local authorities to keep track. Some authorities also have D-roads, and others have U-roads. There is more detail about them here. As a general rule, C-numbers are not released to the great British public, but it seems that some escape.

Someone obviously knew what they were doing when they described this thing as the "Information Superhighway" (remember those days?).

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Compare and contrast

After a bit of a rough day yesterday, I was quite pleased with my evening ride, covering 26 miles after dinner, and bringing the total mileage for the week to 56 (and still only Monday).

There was a particularly lovely stretch on the way home, when I really got into the rythm, all the stress of the day drifted away and I was zinging through the dark in zen-like calm.

Then this morning I find Jack Thurston interviewing Alastair Humphreys on the Bike Show. Alastair Humphreys has cycled round the world "the hard way" (i.e. up and down the continents): covering sixty countries and forty-six thousand miles over four years.

Somehow, feeling proud of riding 26 miles seems a bit pathetic.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Job done - kind of

Last week I adjusted the left pedal on the bike. It had developed a bit of play, and had started to make annoying clicks.

As with most things that need fixing, the biggest challenge was to figure out how to get into the thing. Once that was sorted, the mechanism itself is quite elegant and simple to work out. Adjusting it proved quite fiddly, though. Presumably bike shops have some special tools to do this, but I struggled for a while to tighten the lock nut while leaving everything else moving freely. However it all seemed to come together in the end, and on yesterday's ride it worked fine.

David Ogilvy famously wrote that at 60 mph, the loudest sound in a Rolls Royce is the ticking of the clock. The pedal has stopped clicking. Now the only sounds on the bike at normal speeds are the creaking of the saddle, the rattling of the chain when I've muddled up the gears, and sometimes wind whistling through the cycling helmet. The clock on the cycle computer doesn't tick, and in any case, at 60mph on the bike, I imagine the loudest sound would be me screaming in terror.

Anyway, having fixed the pedal, and tried it out on a longish run, by the time I got home, the dust-cap had disappeared. I can't have fixed it back firmly enough and somewhere on the thirty miles I covered between here and Pangbourne it must have dropped off. I'm ignoring the family suggestions that I should go back and look for it. For now, I'll stick a bit of tape over the hole, and I suppose, after all that, the next job will be replacing the pedals anyway. Ho hum.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

At times like this, you realise you have missed a turning

Today I traced a bit more of the Round Berkshire Cycle route from Maidenhead to Reading and a bit beyond, to Tidmarsh. I covered 30 miles altogether, much of it against a headwind. Mid- afternoon, the rain that had been threatening all morning finally got under way. I felt I had done enough by then, and got the train home from Pangbourne.

This is the ford over the River Loddon, in Charvil, near Twyford on the way out to Reading. It is one of the two fords that are supposed to have given Twyford its name (the other has now been replaced by a bridge).

This is not on the Round Berkshire Route, but if you miss one of the turns you end up here, faced with a foot of water. Despite my relaxed and vague frame of mind on a Sunday morning, at that point even I realised that something had gone amiss.

Berkshire is not all pretty villages, ancient churches, and other historic monuments. It is also crossed by major tansport routes, is the home of numerous large and small companies, and more than 800,000 people live in the county. The Round Berkshire Cycle Route covers all of this, and why shouldn't it? The section I rode today passed through some countryside, and some interesting spots, but unfortunately it contains more than its fair share of ordinary suburban housing, industry, retail parks, and transport links. So while this part of the route is certainly not unpleasant, perhaps it is best described as "varied", rather than "attractive".

Although I have ridden from Maidenhead to Reading a number of times, I've previously followed the national cycle route, rather than the Round Berkshire Cycle Route - so that was new for me. As always, there were interesting things to see, and there is the promise of some pleasant countryside beyond Reading in future.

For now, though, this was my first lengthy ride in weeks, and it was enough to have a very satisfying stretch, and get home feeling thoroughly exercised.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Quaint customs

As any English cyclist knows, it is against the law (in England), under the 1847 Town Police Clauses act, to ride a cycle "furiously". This evening I looked up the legislation, and discovered that there is more. (I assume all this is still in force, or somebody more knowledgable will put me right).

I quote...

Every person who in any street, to the obstruction, annoyance, or danger of the residents or passengers, commits any of the following offences, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale (I think this is £1,000) for each offence, or, in the discretion of the justice before whom he is convicted, may be committed to prison, there to remain for a period not exceeding fourteen days;

  • Every person who exposes for show, hire, or sale (except in a market or market place or fair lawfully appointed for that purpose) any horse or other animal, or exhibits in a caravan or otherwise any show or public entertainment, or shoes, bleeds, or farries any horse or animal (except in cases of accident), or cleans, dresses, exercises, trains or breaks, or turns loose any horse or animal, or makes or repairs any part of any cart or carriage (except in cases of accident where repair on the spot is necessary):
  • Every person who suffers to be at large any unmuzzled ferocious dog, or sets on or urges any dog or other animal to attack, worry, or put in fear any person or animal
  • Every person who slaughters or dresses any cattle, or any part thereof, except in the case of any cattle over-driven which may have met with any accident, and which for the public safety or other reasonable cause ought to be killed on the spot:
  • Every person having the care of any waggon, cart, or carriage who rides on the shafts thereof, or who without having reins, and holding the same, rides upon such waggon, cart, or carriage, or on any animal drawing the same, or who is at such a distance from such waggon, cart, or carriage as not to have due control over every animal drawing the same, or who does not, in meeting any other carriage, keep his waggon, cart, or carriage to the left or near side, or who in passing any other carriage does not keep his waggon, cart, or carriage on the right or off side of the road (except in cases of actual necessity, or some sufficient reason for deviation) or who, by obstructing the street, wilfully prevents any person or carriage from passing him, or any waggon, cart, or carriage under his care
  • Every person who rides or drives furiously any horse or carriage, or drives furiously any cattle
  • Every person who causes any public carriage, sledge, truck, or barrow, with or without horses, or any beast of burden, to stand longer than is necessary for loading or unloading goods, or for taking up or setting down passengers (except hackney carriages, and horses and other beasts of draught or burthen, standing for hire in any place appointed for that purpose by the commissioners or other lawful authority), and every person who, by means of any cart, carriage, sledge, truck, or barrow, or any animal, or other means, wilfully interrupts any public crossing, or wilfully causes any obstruction in any public footpath or other public thoroughfare:
  • Every person who causes any tree or timber or iron beam to be drawn in or upon any carriage, without having sufficient means of safely guiding the same:
  • Every person who leads or rides any horse or other animal, or draws or drives any cart or carriage, sledge, truck, or barrow upon any footway of any street, or fastens any horse or other animal so that it stands across or upon any footway:
  • Every person who places or leaves any furniture, goods, wares, or merchandize, or any cask, tub, basket, pail, or bucket, or places or uses any standing-place, stool, bench, stall, or showboard on any footway, or who places any blind, shade, covering, awning, or other projection over or along any such footway, unless such blind, shade, covering, awning, or other projection is eight feet in height at least in every part thereof from the ground:
  • Every person who places, hangs up, or otherwise exposes to sale any goods, wares, merchandize, matter, or thing whatsoever, so that the same project into or over any footway, or beyond the line of any house, shop, or building at which the same are so exposed, so as to obstruct or incommode the passage of any person over or along such footway:
  • Every person who rolls or carries any cask, tub, hoop, or wheel, or any ladder, plank, pole, timber, or log of wood, upon any footway, except for the purpose of loading or unloading any cart or carriage, or of crossing the footway:
  • Every person who places any line, cord, or pole across any street, or hangs or places any clothes thereon
  • Every person who wilfully and indecently exposes his person
  • Every person who publicly offers for sale or distribution, or exhibits to public view any profane book, paper, print, drawing, painting, or representation, or sings any profane or obscene song or ballad, or uses any profane or obscene language:
  • Every person who wantonly discharges any firearm, or throws or discharges any stone or other missile, or makes any bonfire, or throws or sets fire to any firework:
  • Every person who wilfully and wantonly disturbs any inhabitant, by pulling or ringing any door bell, or knocking at any door, or who wilfully and unlawfully extinguishes the light of any lamp:
  • Every person who flies any kite, or who makes or uses any slide upon ice or snow:
  • Every person who cleanses, hoops, fires, washes, or scalds any cask or tub, or hews, saws, bores, or cuts any timber or stone, or slacks, sifts, or screens any lime
  • Every person who throws or lays down any stones, coals, slate, shells, lime, bricks, timber, iron, or other materials (except building materials so inclosed as to prevent mischief to passengers)
  • Every person who beats or shakes any carpet, rug, or mat (except door mats, beaten or shaken before the hour of eight in the morning):
  • Every person who fixes or places any flower-pot or box, or other heavy article, in any upper window, without sufficiently guarding the same against being blown down:
  • Every person who throws from the roof or any part of any house or other building any slate, brick, wood, rubbish, or other thing, except snow thrown so as not to fall on any passenger:
  • Every occupier of any house or other building or other person who orders or permits any person in his service to stand on the sill of any window, in order to clean, paint, or perform any other operation upon the outside of such window, or upon any house or other building within the said limits, unless such window be in the sunk or basement story:
  • Every person who leaves open any vault or cellar, or the entrance from any street to any cellar or room underground, without a sufficient fence or handrail, or leaves defective the door, window, or other covering of any vault or cellar, or who does not sufficiently fence any area, pit, or sewer left open, or who leaves such open area, pit, or sewer without a sufficient light after sunset to warn and prevent persons from falling thereinto:
  • Every person who throws or lays any dirt, litter, or ashes, or nightsoil, or any carrion, fish, offal, or rubbish, on any street, or causes any offensive matter to run from any manufactory, brewery, slaughter-house, butcher’s shop, or dunghill into any street: Provided always, that it shall not be deemed an offence to lay sand or other materials in any street in time of frost, to prevent accidents, or litter or other suitable materials to prevent the freezing of water in pipes, or in case of sickness to prevent noise, if the party laying any such things causes them to be removed as soon as the occasion for them ceases:
  • Every person who keeps any pigstye to the front of any street, not being shut out from such street by a sufficient wall or fence, or who keeps any swine in or near any street, so as to be a common nuisance.

So please ride sensibly, watch your language, bring in the washing, secure the flower pots, keep the swine in the back garden, and be careful with those kites.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Must try harder

The good thing about setting all sorts of different targets is that when things are going badly on one, you can always concentrate on something else. With my weekly mileage looking a bit feeble at the moment, it seemed like a good idea to work on my speed, so this evening I had a crack at improving my time round the regular 10 mile Winter Hill circuit.

The results were outstandingly disappointing. Not only was I slower than the last time I tried this, I was slower than every time that I've tried it since I started logging speed with the GPS.

I need some good excuses.
  • Excuse number one would be the road. It had been raining, and the road was still wet. Like the Stig, and the stars in the reasonably priced car, perhaps I can argue the Top Gear Defence. I can't possibly be expected to achieve top performance when tyre grip is reduced by a wet surface, can I?
  • Excuse number two would be the weather. I could argue that the elements were working against me. But was it too hot, or too windy?
  • Excuse number three would be the bike. I am just going to have to invest in something lighter, with better protection against wind resistance, less rolling resistance, or whatever.
  • Excuse number four would be my fellow road users. I could argue that there was too much traffic, and too much waiting for it to clear at road junctions.

The trouble is that these hardly stack up. To take them in turn:

  • Not even in my wildest dreams am I doing the sort of speed where wet roads are a problem. There is already a limit, though, to how quickly I am prepared to take steeper descents, there was quite a lot of gravel on the road after it had been resurfaced. I did lose a bit of time on the way down from Winter Hill
  • There was a bit of wind, and it slowed me a little on the way across Widbrook common. On the other hand I made up some time on the climb up to Winter Hill, and I suspect that was because the wind was behind me
  • The bike is fine
  • I did the ride at about 6pm, when everyone was returning home, and I did have to wait at some of the busier junctions, which cost me a few minutes

The most telling thing, though, was that by the time I got home, I wasn't as tired as I had been on previous attempts when I achieved beter speeds. I clearly hadn't put in as much effort, and I have to face up to the fact that I'm not going to better my time until I try a bit harder.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

July roundup

Inappropriate weather, a weeks holiday in Suffolk, and a more relaxed approach hasn't done much for the mileage in July.

My total for the month was only 177 miles, compared to 313 in June, and a monthly average of 261 since the end of January. It's my lowest monthly total since I got the new bike at the end of January.

Fewer trips, and shorter trips have both contributed to the drop in total distance, but the crucial difference is that I've not done any really long trips since the end of May.

I try to cover more than 56 miles each week, and I try to get out on the bike more days than not (at least four times a week). Unfortunately I am achieving the weekly mileage goal only 70% of the time, and the four trips goal only 63% of the time.

The more positive slant is that the year's total distance continues to creep up, and now stands at more than 1,600 miles. Although my weekly average has been falling through July, it remains above 60 miles a week. I'm still on track to pass 2,500 miles by the end of the year, and my Eddington number is up slightly - to 21. The level of activity on this blog is also increasing. (I'm not sure when it appeared, but astoundingly, a link to an earlier post is now included as a reference on the Wikipedia article about Arthur Stanley Eddington, and visitors started arriving from there in June).

Overall this month's performance has been disappointing in the face of difficulties, but all is not lost; the general plan remains on track and barring accidents, by the end of the year, with a bit of effort, I should end up where I want to be.

I doubt if everyone holidaying in Suffolk this year could confidently make the same claim.