I’m on a bit of a gadget spending spree at the moment. After my Trek 3900 bike, I went out an bought a Nokia N73 smartphone and a bluetooth GPS device. On yesterday’s bike ride I was tracking my route, the GPS in my rucksack beaming its location to my mobile phone which was running Nick’s NMEA Info python program.

Unfortuantely, I’m running the program on a Series 60 3rd edition phone, on which python is buggy – the text is unreadable and the application crashes on a regular basis. However, I was able to log a decent amount of data. On the map below you can see my logged route, starting with a wander around Bath (including up to Royal Crescent which looks over the city centre) and then heading out alongside the canal, towards Trowbridge and Devizes. You can see my detour down below the canal into Trowbridge, followed by a gradual climb of the canal towards Caen Hill and Devizes. There’s a bit of a gap later on, with just one point in Devizes town itself, and one point a bit further on – at this point, my mobile battery had had enough and I wasn’t able to keep logging, but I’m buying a memory card for the GPS so it can keep going in future.

I also had a go at GPS logging the train journey from Reading to Bath, but it was difficult to acquire a good signal. However, I noted the fastest speed we went at was 173km/h!

Bath to Devizes Track


New Bike

Finally got myself a new bike – a Trek 3900 (2006 model.)

New Bike - Trek 3900/2006 (4434)

It’s streets ahead of my old thing, which fell apart and then got nicked anyway. It just hasn’t been the same, walking/getting the bus.


Biking This Summer

This map shows the long-distance bike rides I’ve done in the last year or so (purple) and those I’m hoping to do in the next few months (turquoise.) The sections are: Bath to Bedwyn (final stage in a cross-England route), Southampton to Bournemouth, Whitstable to Dover, Putney to Croydon, London to Eastborne (in at least two stages), Windsor to Welwyn Garden City and Arundel to Eastborne (South Down Way.) That should make up my 50 hours target nicely.

Bike Routes 2006


Missing Ingredient

I do like the look of the new “Ski Weather” dashboard widget that came with the Mac OS X 10.4.4 upgrade released last week. And yes, it does cover the Scottish ski resorts too.

Of course, this being the Scottish ski scene, there isn’t actually any snow yet…

Ski Widget



It’s incredibly cold at the moment – sub-zero in London. This might have been a contributory factor to my bike was playing up on the way home from work yesterday – the chain fell off about ten times, and then snapped spectacularly. So now I’m left with a useless bike (not that it was particularly useful before – only 2 of the 18 gears, and none of the brakes, worked) and no easy way to get around London. A nightmare – I do a lot of travelling by bike and so save a huge amount of money thanks to not having to pay extortionate Transport for London fares. It also kinds of put my x-England bike trip on hold for now, not that I was managing to get out and do it much these days…

London Bike No. 3 might be on its way shortly. I could just get a new chain, but really, the brakes and gears have had it, too.


Micro-O at SLOW’s OK Nuts Trophy

SLOW is going to have a Micro-O section at the OK Nuts Trophy regional event at the end of November, on the middle part of the open courses. Interesting – I might “run up” at this event to try it out. Micro-O is a bit like timed Trail-O – it’s about picking the right control from a cluster of controls (with no codes on them) based on your interpretation of the map. Many long time orienteers will not like the change to the traditional classic format, but the OK Nuts Trophy is normally an unconventional race, and Micro-O in it should make things intersesting.


Furthest from the coast

The point in Great Britain furthest from the coast is “just east of Church Flatts Farm, about a mile south-east of Coton in the Elms, Derbyshire” according to the Ordnance Survey in a snippet in this old BBC news article. (Update – featured in a later BBC news article here, and confirmed by the OS here.)

I see another challenge – getting to this point, and then biking from here to the coast. Here is the point, from zooming out, I can see there are coastal inlets that define this point – the Severn Channel near Glocester, the Runcorn near Liverpool, and the Wash near Kings Lynn. I don’t really fancy plowing through Birmingham to get to the first, and ending up in Liverpool will be a long way from my London base, so I’ll probably be heading East. National Cycle Route 63 is pretty much the route needed. Watch this space.

Also, Luke has been doing a similar kind of “targeting tourism” by trigpointing recently.

Staying on the geographic theme, a couple of cartography blogs: Mapping Hacks (I want the book!) and Ed Parsons, OS CTO.


x-England Part 6

Overlooking (p0333)
I completed the east-most section of my cross-England bike ride on Sunday, going from Rochester to Whitstable, a major seaside resort in North Kent, on a beautifully sunny day for October. It was one of the longer days – 45 miles – but, as you would expect for the Thames/Medway, it was exceedingly flat.

I really did like Whitstable and there was some great parts on the route (see the last 10 photos on my x-England set) – the section near Colyer was really nice and uniquely “Kent”, and Newington seemed so nice that I wanted to buy a house there now (has a station on a line directly into London too) but I also passed some of the nastiest parts of the route so far. In particular, the long trawl through the industrial estates of Sittingbourne was depressing, and made Sittingbourne seem like it was entirely made of industrial estates (maybe it is?) Also, leaving Sittingbourne to the north was exceedingly grim. Some gypsies driving around in old Fords assured me that the way north was the route, but the burnt out cars and rubbish tips made me suspect something dodgy going on – so I went east instead from Sittingbourne, passing through what must be one of the most socially deprived areas in England.

Leaving Sittingbourne behind though, the approach to Whitstable was lovely, and the first glimpse of the open North Sea was a fitting end to the x-England journey. Now I just need to do the western half…

(Slight edits)


x-England Part 5

Rochester Castle (p0275)

Another short-ish section (30 miles) of my Cross-England bike ride completed on Sunday afternoon. It’s really starting to get dark early these days – the light is fading after 7pm. The original plan was to go all the way to Sittingbourne, but with no trains running that far, I scaled back my plans, and eventually managed Erith to Rochester.

The section from Erith, through Crayford and Dartford, is really rather unpleasant, with dereliction and industry. The only redeeming part is a fantastic, high speed section, down a bike line beside the eight-line A2, of all things. Peaceful it wasn’t but fast and new it was. The view over to the massive Bluewater shopping centre is also impressive. From my vantage point, it reminded me a lot of a poor cousin to the Eden Project, both being modern, futuristic buildings set deep inside a chalk pit. Gravesend wasn’t amazing, a short section of it was so rough I was expecting to get jumped any minute – actually it was quite atmospheric, that bit. After then, an incredibly boring (but off road) section along side the Thames and Medway canal, brought me up to Higham, where a pleasant but meandering road section went over to Strood and Rochester, at one point down a road called “Admiralty Road, formerly Powder Monkey Lane.” I wonder why the residents wanted it changed…

Rochester Bridge is quite grand, the castle and cathedral were very nice to stroll around on, especially after the almost continuous industry I’d experienced for the preceding miles leaving East London. See all my Rochester pictures at the end of my X-England set here.


X-England Part 4

Isle of Dogs (p0199)[Updated] I biked another section of my cross-England journey yesterday – going from Islington to Erith. (The Putney to Islington section I did a few months earlier – I might do it again via the cycle paths to “link up” fully.) The original plan was to go to Dartford, but I stopped a few miles short, at Erith, as it was getting dark – autumn is now rapidly approaching…

The first section was via the Regent’s Canal, I then picked up National Cycle Route 1 at Isle of Dogs, passed under the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and then stayed on the Thames Path (also part of Route 1) on the south bank, for the rest of the way. It was not a particularly stunning leg – going through London was never going to be – but as ever, the view from Island Gardens, on the Isle of Dogs, to Greenwich was stunning.

The photos are at the end of my X-England photo set here.

So far:
III. Bedwyn to Reading
IV. Reading to Staines
V. Staines to Putney
Va. Putney to Islington
VI. Islington to Erith
VII. Erith to Rochester
VIII. Rochester to Whitstable

To do:
I. Portishead or Weston-super-mare to Bristol or Bath
II. Bristol or Bath to Devizes or Bedwyn
IIa. Devizes to Bedwyn.
Next weekend: The South Downs Way (from Buriton to Brighton or Lewes.)