Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Statistics for 2008

Total mileage: 3,020 miles, in 214 trips, averaging 14 miles.

Eddington number: currently 30, up from 12 at the end of 2007.

Best outing: reaching Ewelme, and the church of St Mary the Virgin- the longest, and final trip in my efforts to reach 12 outstanding English churches, which I completed 7 months early - in May.

Worst outing: returning from Henley, in driving sleet, back in February.

Most memorable cycling event: catapulting myself over the handlebars in Windsor.

Favourite route: the ten mile loop over Winter Hill and Cookham, and back along the Thames to Maidenhead is the route that I have ridden most often, but....

Best route: the circle through Marlow, Frieth, Fingest, and Hambleden.

Activity on this blog: 242 posts (this is number 243), 9,317 hits in 4,314 visits, by 1,620 visitors (including roughly one in a million of European internet users).
And on the way, I'm proud of making a very small contribution to Open Streetmap, including a plot of the Round Berkshire Cycle route

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits from ItoWorld on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Advice for 2009

"Keep calm and carry on", is taken from a wartime poster that was produced by the Ministry of Information in 1939, and re-discovered in a collection of old books. I am grateful for my Christmas present, and I will try to follow the advice.

Meanwhile, are there any other suggestions for advice we should be following in 2009?

Sunday, 21 December 2008


With rides of 11 miles on Monday, 13 on Friday, 22 yesterday, and 10 today, I have finally reached my extended goal of riding 3,000 miles on the bike this year. And there are still ten days to go.

Apart from ticking off the main objective, there has been nothing particularly memorable about any of the rides this week. Yesterday was the only time when I covered some fresh ground - tracing a few roads that were missing from Open Street Map. Otherwise, all have been variations on my regular circuits. I'll do a few more rides before the end of the year but the diary is pretty full, so they are likely to be in much the same vein: short, local and pleasant enough - but not very interesting.

I know there are plenty of people covering longer distances, but I've ridden quite bit further than I expected this year: and a lot further than I ever have before.

For ten days, I plan to bask in a self-satisfied glow. Then I'll start a new spreadsheet, with all the dials set back to zero, and start counting a fresh year.

Monday, 15 December 2008


After the underwhelming response to my invitation for cracker jokes, here's a crusty old one, adapted as a tribute to Open Street Map contributors. It's not so much a cracker joke, more by way of expressing appreciation to those who have contributed so far, and those who get a GPS for Christmas and join in next year.

Two big blue lines walk into a pub, and the barman asks them who they are. "We are a motorway", they reply. "We are the biggest, strongest lines on Open Street Map, and we are afraid of nothing".

Then a red line and an orange line come in, and the barman asks them who they are. "We are a primary road and a secondary road", they say. "We are so tough, we go into places on Open Street Map that even the motorways don't go, because we are afraid of nothing".

Then a couple of thin white lines come in, and introduce themselves. "We are an unclassified road and a residential road. There are more of us than anything else on Open Street Map, so we are afraid of nothing."

Finally a dotted blue line comes in. It weaves about a bit, but the barman notices that everyone else keeps well out of his way. "What's going on?" he asks, "I thought you were afraid of nothing".

"Oh nobody messes with him" they reply. "He's the local cyclepath".

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Pig headed

I started out with a good plan today. The fall-back plan wasn't bad either, and neither was the alternative fall-back, or the revised alternative fall-back plan. In the end, everything went pretty much according to bits of one plan or another.

I started following National Cycle Route 4 from Maidenhead to Hampton Court, with the idea of coming back the same way.

It soon became obvious that there wasn't enough time though. I was too pig-headed to turn back early, and nobody has laid railway tracks from Hampton Court to Maidenhead. So the revised alternative fall-back plan was to reach my original destination, then head north and pick up the Great Western main-line somewhere between Southall and Hayes. Unfortunately, I didn't have the right maps with me, so it was all a bit hit and miss. I got close to Hayes, but then I decided to divert past Heathrow, and I finally caught the train home from Slough.

There were some pleasant stretches - particularly through Windsor Great Park to Egham; and following the Thames path from Walton-on-Thames to Hampton Court, but nobody in their right mind would pick the rest of my route for the scenery. It was all very satisfying though, I expect to sleep well tonight, and after 50 miles, I now only need to cover another 50 to reach my goal of 3,000 by the end of the year.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Cracker jokes

Yesterday I was told my first Christmas Cracker joke of the year:

  • "What do you call a man with a spade?" Doug.
  • "What do you call a man without a spade?" Douglas.

I can only think of one cracker joke related to cycling:

  • "Why can't a bicycle stand up on its own?" Because it is two tyred.

There must be more, and probably better: so your suggestions are invited.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Missing turkeys

I did 14 miles tonight, on a loop around Maidenhead, passing through Cookham and Bray on the way. It was a bit cold and damp, but not as bad as yesterday, when I wimped out of going for a ride.
For the last few weeks part of this route has taken me past a field of turkeys near Cookham. Sometimes I have seen them out in the field, and other times I have heard them gobbling away inside huge poly-tunnels. But tonight there was no sign of them.
Where can they all have gone?

Monday, 8 December 2008

Alex Moulton in 1963

From the British Pathe archive:

Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. Alex Moulton, well-known designer of suspension units for cars, has invented the first bicycle with suspension....

The whole family can ride it, without the slightest embarrassment.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Holy Trinity, Bledlow

This year I set myself he challenge of cycling to 12 of England's finest churches, using Simon Jenkins book of 1,000 Best English Churches as my guide. It turned out to be less difficult than I expected, and I completed the set in May.

Next year I am planning to reach the next 12.

For the first 12 the distances (as the crow flies) ranged from 3-16 miles, and the actual distance I rode from 16-60 miles. Crows would travel 16-20 miles from here to reach each of the next 12.

But in figuring out which ones to include in the next twelve, it turns out that I had missed one in the first twelve. Holy Trinity at Bledlow is closer than one of the churches I visited this year. So today I thought I would add it to the set.

It was a round trip of 46 miles, over the hills to Marlow then Stokenchurch, down the steep hill to Chinnor, then across to Bledlow. The return jouney started with quite a demanding climb up to Bledlow Ridge, then a long descent into Wycombe, and back home along familiar routes.

The church was locked when I got there, and I wanted to get home before it went dark, so I didn't hang around to look inside. It sounds as though it would be worth it, though. Certainly, if the inside is as pretty as the outside, it will be well worth another visit. And it seems there is a steam railway nearby to add to the visit.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


Our local authority is doing quite a lot of resurfacing of the roads around here at the moment. I keep coming across signs warning of roads that are going to be closed for a couple of days, and several of my regular routes have now got a smooth new surface.

Apparently the amount of damage that a vehicle does to the road is proportional to the fourth power of its weight. If I've got this right, then it means that in nearly 3,000 miles on the bike I have done about as much damage as I do driving the car 60 yards.

I suppose that I contribute my bit towards all the repair work through vehicle duty, council tax, and the rest. I don't drive the distances that I used to, but a decent road surface makes a huge difference on a bike. Particularly in the dark, when it is difficult to spot and avoid a ropey patch. So I can't help feeling that I am benefiting more than most from all this investment.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Cycling goals for 2009 (part 1)

December is here, so I've started to think about what cycling goals I want to set myself for next year. First up is total mileage. It looks as though I'm going to manage 3,000 miles this year, so the question is how much further I should aim for. Originally I wanted to choose a nice round number, but 4,000 seems too ambitious. My family is very tolerant of me disappearing off on the bike regularly, but unless things slow down dramatically at work, I just can't afford that much time.

And then it occurred to me that there is no real reason why I should choose a round number. So 3,249 miles it is. 

That's the age I will reach next year, multiplied by itself. I suppose it's what you might call a square number, rather than a round one; and it sets a tougher goal than this year, without seeming too ambitious.

To encourage myself to undertake longer rides, I've already decided to try and take my Eddington number up to 40 from it's current 30. That means that I need to do a couple of dozen rides of more than 40 miles, compared to the 17 that I've done this year. Also, I still haven't ridden 100km in one day yet, never mind 100 miles, so some kind of century is on the cards.

I have found this year that it encourages me to ride further and more frequently if my outings have a purpose, over and above just covering a distance. Filling gaps in the Open Street Map encourages me to explore new roads. So did covering the whole of the Round Berkshire Cycle Route, as did seeking out the nearest of the outstanding English churches picked by Simon Jenkins. Destinations and routes also give me something to report here, other than just numbers.

But I've not taken any decisions yet about suitable destinations and routes for next year, so suggestions would be welcome. What goals are others setting (if any), or is it still too early to be thinking about it?