Tomorrow, I’m riding from the Theatre Of Dreams to Blackpool, as one of thousands of cyclists taking part in the Bike Events Manchester to Blackpool bike ride.
I’m riding in memory of my Mum and donating all sponsorship raised to Springhill Hospice in Rochdale, a fantastic place that provides respite and end of life care to terminally ill people. The help they gave to my family cannot be put into words, and they rely on donations to continue their wonderful work.
If you’d like to support me, and more importantly them, please visit my JustGiving page. Thank you.
How Do You Know I’m not Cheating?
Using the magic of Google Latitude, I’m making my whereabouts public for one day only. By visiting this very blog page, you’ll be able to see (I hope), where I’m up to. If I seem to be in Bamber Bridge for a long time, it’s because I promised my cousin I’d pop in for a brew. You’ve got to take your chances for free brews, haven’t you?
It’s not a race, but I’ll be happy to put 60 miles onto the #Jul100 sheet and raise some much-needed money for the hospice. I’ve got my energy bars and my lift home, so I’m thoroughly looking forward to it… 🙂
Basically, that’s the synopsis of yesterday’s ride. 🙂
This Sunday (22nd May) it’s Over The Edge, an annual ride for the British Heart Foundation which goes up Blackstone Edge from Littleborough then back down by various routes of 22, 29 or 52 miles. I wondered how I’d cope with the hill since I haven’t been up there since I did it with (or after, technically) Joby and Chris last year.
So I set off and at first I struggled like mad. Bad gear choice, cadence and breathing I think. I rested just after The Moorcock pub and was nearly sick. So, I gathered myself and set off with a lot more self-control, then plodded the rest of the way up the big hill without any issues. I felt like I was sailing past The White House at the top, well into the cloud cover by then.
Up and Over Blackstone Edge
It felt great to have got there and the 6+ mile descent down to Mytholmroyd was a blast, if a bit wet and quite hairy on the slippery roads in places!
If you haven’t laughed at my expense already, now’s your chance.
I fell in the canal. Yup, after 20 years of riding along the Rochdale Canal towpaths, I finally got my come-uppance. It was raining, the cobbles were slippery, there was goose poo and (critically) I made one wrong decision: I thought that the smoother big slabs near the waterside would be easier to cycle on than the rough-looking cobbles near the structure of the bridge I was passing under.
Checking Everything’s Working After My Dunking
The front wheel went up onto the slabs ok, but he back wheel didn’t and somehow I was flipped around, my spuds had unclipped and the Fat Boy and I were headed waterwards. I managed to land on my chest on the canalside, then hooked my legs into the frame and crawled forwards to think about my next move. Thankfully a Good Samaritan and his missus were walking towards me and he jogged to me asking if I was ok. I wasn’t sure but I said yes and asked him to grab the bike.
One back wheel hoiked onto the towpath later and we were up and stocktaking. Bike ok, no real pain, and miraculously my phone was totally unscathed thanks to the new weatherproof mount and an extra butty-bag rain cover! So thank you, Good Samaritan! I should have asked your name but I felt too much of a prat.
That shook me up a bit so I slowed up a lot the rest of the way home. I knew I had more than 10 miles of towpath to do including more cobbles and more bridges. My legs suddenly got tired and the rain seemed colder. Probably just a reaction to the adrenaline levels going back to normal.
Rising up a little sliproad to one of the many locks, I noticed – too late – a car crossing the path from my right. Brakes on… feet clipped in…stopped… Thud! “That’s all I need“, I thought, “two falls in one ride!“.
A very nice cyclist approached from behind at a fair lick and asked me if I was ok. Then he recognised me. Cue mixed emotions. It was great to meet Adrian and to prove that the messages on twitter are from real people, but my introduction was less than dignified! He’d recognised my bike and remembered my name, which was very nice of him. He’s a lovely bloke.
We had a chat and headed off towards our respective homes.
I got home having done over 26 miles and with a big smile on my face despite the dunking, the weather, the unplanned body-slam… And I think I’m doing Over The Edge on Sunday! 🙂
Clive’s blog today really struck a chord. I have diabetes. I ride alone at least once a week, after dark. I have diabetes so if I was to take a tumble or get clipped by a motorist, I could potentially be having a post-exercise hypo whilst insensible with an injury.
I’ve looked at RoadID before and always thought they looked cool, but expensive and that I was unlikely to wear them each time I ventured out. I’m not inclined to keep a wrist band on permanently, as I do a corporate job and a watch is enough adornment. I remove the watch and my two rings when I ride as I don’t like things jangling about on me.
So, Clive’s blog was a Godsend. These little stickers stick onto your lid, so if you’re a cyclist you’ll never leave home without them accidentally. Now that’s perfect for me, as I don’t run. At all.
Chris reminded me of something I’d forgotten this morning. The equation b=n+1 applies to all cyclists, where:
b = Number of bikes required
n = Number of bikes owned
This equation defines us all as cyclists. Once it takes effect, there’s no going back.
This equation is the reason that I downloaded the eBay app to my iPhone. This equation is the reason that I saved the searches “Rz120” and “Whyte t120s” into the eBay app. Now whenever anyone puts either of those two bikes for sale on eBay, I will hear a cheerful “BING!“, see a notification on my phone and instantly become stressed about whether or not to get involved in watching, or worse still participating, in the sale.
Oh yes, of course I rationalise: I’ve told myself that I’m just seeing how cheaply you can pick up a nice 120mm trail bike. I’ve told myself that I’ll save up diligently and not spend impulsively. I’ve told myself that I’m looking at shiny new trail bikes because my son is outgrowing his 24” bike and I can pass on my Fat Boy to him, so I actually really neeeeed a shiny new trail bike…
But we all know, it’s just the maths working their magic. The equation’s got me. I’m doomed. I’m a cyclist.
I didn’t go for a ride today. Again. This a Bad Thing (capital B, capital T). Instead, I thought I’d tell you about the parallel test I’ve been running on three Windows Mobile Cycling trackers.
The Windows Mobile Phone
I use an HTC HD2. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I love it when it’s working fine. I does loads of stuff. It’s even quite useful for speaking to people with, sometimes. I know, that’s unusual for a smartphone. I hate it when I have to rebuild it from scratch, which occurs once every 8 or 9 months. I’ve even written a little “rebuild the phone” note on my hard drive so I don’t forget what I need to restore. Still, that’s Windows for you…
SatSports, Endomondo and RunSat
SatSports was featured on Dragon’s Den a while ago, which led me to check the app out. It’s got a lot going for it. It does rely on you running an app on your PC to get the most from it, which enables you to compare your rides in quite a detailed way. Calories, routes, times, detailed tracking of time & pace – it’s an excellent app if you want to see all your rides in one pace, nicely tabulated. I also like the way it publishes to Google Earth from the app directly, showing your fastest, highest and lowest points alongside your start and finish times. Nice for the bloggers to screencap!
Socal networking links aren’t really supported from the app though, which is quite limiting for those of us who like to show off a bit.
I’d recommend this if you’re training and you’d like to see your progression because it’s a brilliant way to see similar rides sorted most recent first, showing how you’re progressing. The SatSports app is available for Windows Mobile and Android and costs about 6 Euros as I publish. Worth a punt.
Endomondo is becoming more and more popular. Several readers of this blog already use it. Its biggest advantages are the social networking links. Endomondo is capable of telling all your Facebook and Twitter friends when you’re going out and when you come back, telling them how far you went and how fast, as well as what you were doing (running, cycling etc). Links are published so your friends can visit the main Endomondo site, view your route and stats, then leave comments if they wish.
Unfortunately, the Windows Mobile Endomondo version isn’t nearly as good as the one they have for iPhone. It doesn’t take account, for example, of resting time. Now I don’t know about you, but I like to stop for a brew and a danish when I’m out for a ride. With Endomondo for Windows Mobile, my brew time is included in my ride time and therefore my average speed. This makes me look like a right old slowcoach! My average speeds are poor enough without adding brew and pee stops!
For this reason, I can’t recommend Endomondo for Windows Mobile. Not until that major oversight is fixed up, anyway 🙁
RunSat, Navmi, RunningFree Online
Call it what you will. This tracker has gone through a few iterations and I think it’s been bought by one or two different parties in its lifetime. Maybe that’s because it’s actually very good.
The app itself is downloadable as RunSat from Navmi.com. It’s a comprehensive app, giving a number of different views whilst you’re actually out. I use it on my handlebars (if you’ve seen my bar arrangement you’ll kow it’s quite crowded), where it shows me all sorts of route and riding information. By toggling the view you can see as much or as little as you want to. You can also turn the info off and the app will record your ride without distracting you.
You can also upload routes to your phone to show on the maps within the app, which download via GPRS as you ride (or whatever live internet connection you’ve got going on your phone). I’ve used this feature to upload a route which veered onto a bridleway in Royton which I wasn’t sure about – it worked perfectly.
Like Endomondo, RunSat automatically posts your ride to the internet when you finish. Your ride is posted to your (free) account on RunningFreeOnline, which is a great way to keep all your routes handy, whether running, walking or cycling. From within this site, you can set auto-posting to Facebook and/or Twitter. The posts can be edited too, so you can add hashtags for example. I have it post my rides with the #Feb100 and #20111k hashtags, which is nice.
Which Windows Mobile Cycle GPS Tacker Shall I Use?
Which Cycling Tracker Should I Use?
Well, I’ve used all three. Each has advantages and disadvantages. SatSports is great for serial training. Endomondo is simple to use and has a great membership website.
But for me, the Runsat app is superior. It tells me all I need to know whilst I’m actually riding, then it records comprehensive information on the RunningFreeOnline website when I get home. It posts to my favourite social media channels too. And the website can take information from a massive variety of other devices too.
So, my recommendation for Windows Mobile GPS Cycling Tracker goes to RunSat and RunningFreeOnline. Tell ’em Phill sent you!
When the weekend began, I thought I still had an outside chance of achieving the August150 target, so I mapped a 20+ mile ride with a bit of a challenge thrown in: a nice, big hill. I rode out of Rochdale through Whitworth to Bacup, then over Sharney Ford to Todmorden and back home along Rochdale Canal, the National Cycle Network’s Route 66.
The slow climb from Rochdale to the top of Britannia (about 8 miles?) was okay. None of it gets steep and it’s just a case of keeping the legs turning and not getting too bored. The scenery isn’t nice until you get to Facit where you discover that there is, in fact, a Fudge Village there. A whole Village, of Fudge? I kid you not. Sorry I didn’t get a picture but I’m diabetic so I didn’t stop. Sod you lot who can eat what you like 😉
There’s a nice quick drop into Bacup centre then before turning right into a helluva hill. I admit, I got off twice on the way up and walked a bit. As I was getting back in the saddle after my second breather, a girl on a yellow bike wearing cutoff jeans, with her mp3 player wired into her ears, pedalled past me slowly but purposefully and in a much higher gear than I was spinning. If that was you, good on yer! It’s a good job I don’t have any illusions of masculine superiority, that’s all I can say. I’d have sulked right then!
The drop down into Todmorden is brilliant! A nice wide, fairly gravel-free, very steep tarmac road all the way down the hill. Without a turn of the pedals I hurtled towards Tod, collecting flies on my grinning teeth and with tears being blown from my eyes into my ears. What fun! Oh, and I passed the girl who’d pedalled past me earlier. Did I mention how fearless boys are on bikes, compared to girls? 😉
From Tod, the ride home was a leisurely affair, with the grin plastered firmly on face until my gadj let me down.
Fail 1: Solar Battery. A few weeks ago I bought a solar battery from dealextreme. Now, I know that their stuff is a bit shonky, but I’d tested this thing once by putting it on the windowsill for a bit, then attaching it to my phone and I definitely witnessed it giving life to my phone’s battery. Definitely.
About 2 miles back towards Rochdale, I noticed my phone was running low. At 20% battery my GPS automatically switches off, so I pulled the solar backup from my pocket, connected the usb cable and plugged it in. Nothing. Wiggled the connections. Nothing. Swore. Still nothing. Shonky far eastern piece of poo.
Fail 2: Phone Handlebar Mount.This is the 2nd time my HTC HD2 phone mount from Mobile Fun has broken. Last time it was the bit that cradles the actual phone that gave in, and full credit to Mobile Fun for replacing it despite not being able to find a paper-trail for my purchase.
This time, I was bobbling along a short stretch of cobbles on the towpath when the main mount fell apart. It turns out that a bolt is moulded into the mount and not enough plastic covers it, so the bolt wobbled its way out of the assembly under repeated … erm .. use. Yes, use: just normal riding a bike. So I’m not happy and I’m not sure how I’m going to attach my phone from now on. I can’t replace the unit now that I know the design is flawed, because the next time my phone parts company with my bike it might not land on a friendly surface. Shonky far eastern piece of poo (2). Until I’ve devised and engineered a marvellous new mount contraption, it’s going to have to stay in my pocket and I won’t be able to see how I’m doing on the fly.
All I can say is: thank goodness it didn’t fail at 38mph on the descent into Todmorden. Yep, 38mph, my all-time fastest record so far, woop woop! I am chuffed about that despite the gadget failures.
The Shear Failure of my Phone Mount
A hiatus in Tod due to cobbles and shonky plastic
Bike + Tea + Daypack + Canal + Hill = Nice
I have no full stats since my phone gps tracker did indeed shut down at about 16 miles, but I rode 22.88 miles in total (completed map on this link) and achieved a maximum speed of 38.3 mph.
I didn’t mention my new Daypack at all, did I? I picked it up from Go Outdoors for £22.50 which was an absolute bargain, in my opinion. I wore it for the first time on this ride and although I needed to fiddle with it a bit for fit comfort, it was great. Comfy, easy to drink from and felt light on my back. It’s got a 2 litre bladder plus a bit more storage for gubbins and a nice little drop-your-helmet-here bit for when you’re walking about (which I didn’t, so I don’t know if that bit works well yet). I’ll review it a bit more when I’ve used it again, perhaps.
With some luck, I’ll get a few miles in tonight but the August150 is looking a long way away for me! 🙁