Ocean Lake Triathlon Sprint Race 1 2014

I’ve never taken part in an open water triathlon this early in the year before and I was pretty worried about how cold the water might be. It was actually a ‘balmy’ 13 Celsius. This doesn’t sound that warm but it was actually warmer than the air temperature.

The weather was poor. It was chilly but also the rain was tipping down the whole time. Sometimes triathletes can be wimps. Before the start all these guys in wetsuits went in to a shed next to the lake and stood about shivering and hugging themselves. We were going in to the lake a few minutes later so not sure why anyone was so bothered about staying dry!

Leybourne Lake

I really found the bike hard going in the heavy rain. The bike leg was down a dual carriageway and there were huge puddles which I wasn’t sure if they were just normal puddles or covering pot holes. Falling in those conditions with cars coming past at high speed could have been messy. I played it safe and probably lost a lot of time as a result. I was a good bit slower than in 2011 and 2013. The bike leg has been different every year and in previous years it was later in the year and the weather was a lot better so it’s not a straight comparison.

750 m swim00:20:05
20km bike00:47:12
5 km run 00:23:54

Kingfisher Aquathlon 2014

I took part in the Kingfisher Aquathlon back in 2011 but this was the first time I was wearing CPT colours trying to earn some points for the London League and not too much of burke in the process. There is a 400m pool swim with a 9km run around a park in Morden. With such an early start it’s possible to finish and cycle home before anyone has noticed you’re gone.

Man with a lego hand

I remember getting mixed up with the distances back in 2011 when I thought I was only running 5 instead of 9 km. I didn’t make that same mistake this time although it’s hard to know where you are as a lot of the run is through the woods.

Kingfisher Triathletes do a great job in organising the race which has a really friendly atmosphere and affordable.

400 m swim00:09:42
9 km run00:47:57

The London Classic 2014

The London Classic reached its 5th anniversary and I was back on the admin table getting people to fill in legal disclaimers, and explaining that there are about 400 signs with pink arrows all over London that people need to follow to have any chance of getting back to the Gipsy Hill Tavern to watch the Tour of Flanders.

Me at the London Classic 2014

As it was the 5th year we had some pretty awesome special t-shirts made up which we sold out in no time at all.

Bike on cobbles at the London Classic 2014

We managed to raise nearly £7000 which is enough for a special care incubator for Evelina London.

cobble riding at the London Classic 2041

I’m very grateful to Ryoko Uyama who kindly gave up her time to take some excellent photos from around the route.

Cobbles in Wapping

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Why the image resize tool in a CMS is evil

I rarely get on my high horse over interweb matters but here goes! I see a lot of images on websites that appear to be appropriately sized but are actually massive and made to look small. A simple right click ‘inspect element’ in Chrome or Firefox shows the truth.

Don’t know what I’m on about? I probably haven’t explained it as well as this video does….

Size always matters

To show what I mean I have two pictures of Bodie from The Professionals, (actor Lewis Collins who sadly died recently) one of  my style icons. They look very similar but the stats show they are very, very different. The larger 4MB plus version on the left has been resized via WordPress image editing screen to look 250 px x 375 px on the blog post but it’s actually more than ten times that size. Just because you made it look small doesn’t stop it being bigger than it is. You can click on the images which will show you what they look like at their original size. The one on the right looks fine and you wouldn’t event notice any difference if it wasn’t propped against its giant cousin.

Left image: 2731px x 4096 px, 400dpi, 4.6 MB.
Right image 250px x 375 px, 72dpi, 33 KB.

Bide from the Professionals (not web optimised) Bodie from The Professionals web version

Why is this a problem?

Back when I was first building websites you were dealing with 56.6 K modems and so everything had to be optimised to be as efficient as possible – waiting for your pages to load is annoying. I regularly built whole websites that would fit on a floppy disk (1.44 MB). Once we all started getting better internet connections people got sloppy and stopped worrying about page load times. Google took action and we now use devices more and so people are starting to think more seriously about this again – a good thing.

Why not use the fancy image manipulation tools that most CMS have now?

Because they suck ass – if there is a good one I haven’t seen it yet. Classically some of these will let you edit the image and create an additional copy of the image with all your edits. So you’re left with two (or three, or four, or five…or how ever many edits your do) of the same image on your server! This makes version control and organising your files in your media manager generally, more difficult.

What should we do then smart guy?

Probably go back to the totally ‘old fashioned’ way of using tools like Photoshop (or something like GIMP if you’re short of cash) to web optimise your image to exactly the right size and resolution and then upload it to your CMS. Leave the image tinkering to the tools that do it best.

So going back to Father Ted clip – the image on the left is far away and the one on the right is small. Or is that the other way round?


Boards of Canada live the Warp Records 10th Anniversary 10th November 1999

Much like the Aphex Twin live performance posted a while back I found this down the back of the digital sofa. It has been knocking around the interweb for a while but I thought I would post it here as it moves me so.

I didn’t actually go to this gig but I did go to the ill fated Lighthouse gig for the “incredible” party in 2000. Despite having a ticket I didn’t get in but I try not to be bitter about it. This Old Truman Brewery gig does seem to have been slightly more interesting anyway as it included a couple of untitled tracks especially the last one (Untitled 2) which is truly spiffing.

The band themselves don’t seem to be that keen on this gig recording going public as the recording doesn’t meet their lofty sound quality standards. I’ve now idea how true this is but fits in with their whole living in a commune thing.

I’m not as big on Boards of Canada as I used to be as they seem to have entered the chin scratching mainstream (I think the NME likes them?) and I still have this crazy idea that I’m above all that. In terms of electronic music I’m at the top of the snobbery tree. Music died in 1997.


London Triathlon 2013

I decided I would have another crack at this race which was what first inspired me to have a go at Triathlon way back in 2005. I also came back and had another go in 2006 but hadn’t been back since mainly as I wanted to try out some of other races.

This is the biggest triathlon in the world with over 12,000 people taking part. This can be good and bad. The good is that it’s local, well known, organised and supported. The bad is it feels a bit like a soulless production line as there are so many people. A bit like the Tesco of triathlon.
London Triathlon 2013

The swim went pretty well in that I dipped under 40 minutes (pretty good by my standards). It suited me as there was a lot of traffic nearly the whole distance so I had to really fight just to stay in position. Normally I get left behind after the fist few hundred metres so this was a refreshing change. The battling kept me focused as my mind tends to drift when you have your head submerged for nearly 40 minutes and can’t really see or hear to much.

The bike leg was very similar to the first time I raced here in 2005. It was two loops on a fairly flat and fast course. At times you can get up to such speeds that you feel you’re running out of big gears. I decided not to hang about or cheat by drafting – there were people doing both. Going through the Limehouse Link Tunnel at top whack is quite exhilarating and even better if you can dodge all the debris on the road!

The run was four laps of a loop running out of ExCel to the north and back. This is different from when I had last raced here as that was two loops running around the outside of the dock. It was very windy and seemed to go on forever but I got there in the end. I was definitely running out of steam by the end so I was just happy to cross the line in one piece.

Overall I was very happy as I’ve made an improvement with swim, bike and overall times – 5 minutes better than my 2006 finish time which is very satisfying especially as I train a lot less these days. I think this a great beginners course as it’s actually fast and not too challenging. I’m sure I will be back but probably not next year as I’d like to check out a few other events.

1.5 km swim00:39:20
40 km bike01:14:29
10 km run00:49:45

Ocean Lake Triathlon Sprint Race 3 2013

I needed a sprint triathlon as a warm up for the London Triathlon next month. I have raced at Leybourne Lake the last couple of years as it’s very close to where I grew up. Team Outrageous, the club that ran those events seem to have done a bunk and so another club called Ocean Lake Triathlon have stepped in and seem to run all the events at the lake now.

Starting a rac at Leybourne Lake

Ocean Lake Triathlon made a significant change to the regular bike course by incorporating some quieter back roads running parallel to A228 which made things a lot more fun as there were no big lorries to contend with. Other than that the course is the same as it was before.

I was quite a bit slower than in 2011 but I was much fitter then. I still like these races and I think it will become a regular thing to do every year as these races are very well run and low cost.

750 m swim + T100:21.50
20 km bike00.45.47
T2 + 5 km run 00:25:42

Great North Swim, Windemere 2013

The Great Swim series is a bunch of open water swims that happen around the country every year. The blue ribbon round is at Lake Windemere in the Lake District National Park.

I went for the 1 mile distance although there is a 3 mile option. The course was a simple out-and-back affair along the edge of the lake. This is a massive event. There were around 300 per wave running in half hour slots starting early Friday and finishing late on Sunday. I had a 3 pm start on Saturday which meant I got some extra shut eye – normally I’m getting up when it’s still dark to do these things.

Lake Windemere 2013

My brother lives nearby and was delighted when my sister-in-law Sue joined me on the swim, raising a stack of cash for charity in the process. It was great to have a bit of support and it made it more lots more fun having Sue there doing it with me.

The conditions were the worst I’ve ever faced in an open water swim – even including some pretty tough sea swims I’ve done. The lake was extremely choppy with waves coming from one side (from my left on the way out and right on the way back) and passing well over my head. This made sighting extremely difficult as when I would have a look at what was in front of me all I could see was these large waves and not much else. The course was well marked but it was still tough to spot a 3 metre high inflatable.

After completing the swim

On the way back there were plenty of people from the previous wave struggling – they were probably looking at finish times in the 80 minutes plus category – a pretty tough baptism for a newbie.

I completed the mile swim in 00:50:33. I normally average around 40 minutes or so for this sort of distance so I think that shows how hard things were. I would love to have another go at this event but maybe not the 3 mile distance just yet!


Crystal Palace Triathlon 2013

I’ve wanted to take part in this race for ages as it’s just down the road and I’ve previously had to withdraw due to illness a couple of years back. It was my first time wearing the colours of Crystal Palace Triathletes who run the event so I was hoping not to look too daft especially as this event was part of the infamous London League.

Bike leg shot as part of the 2013 Crystal Palace Triathlon

That’s me on the far right

The swim takes places in the FINA approved 50m indoor swimming pool with 15 lengths of the pool making up the 750m swim. The bike is 9 laps around the park with no traffic, making up 20km. The run is a further 5km around the park finishing in the famous athletics stadium on the track. The whole event is inside the park making it great for spectators as there are lots of opportunities to get “papped” by your mum. If I stay in the club it’s likely I won’t be able to take part again for at least a year which is a club rule. This is a shame as this is one of the best and most convenient triathlons I’ve ever take part in. As soon as I finished I was off on marshalling duty for the rest of the day which hope will earn me some good will.

A picture of me finishing the race


750 m swim 00:19:31
20 km bike00:49:36
5 km run00:24:17

The London Classic 2013

Another year, another seminal London cycling event. The London Classic continues to raise a stack of dough for Evelina Children’s Hospital.

Last year we moved everything to the excellent Gipsy Hill Tavern, with it’s amazingly friendly staff, large beer garden and fairly unique in pub cinema, where we watched Paris-Roubaix. The London Classic couldn’t have a better home.

Registration for the 2013 London Classic

Work colleagues take note – here is a picture of me volunteering.

This year I was on the usual pre event online registration duty as well as lots of other admin stuff before the event and on the day. As this event was now its 4th year, the core group of volunteers all know their jobs which made everything run very smoothly.

Two tandems at the London Classic

The weather leading up to the day had been awful but it turned in to a beautiful April spring day with bright sunshine throughout which meant the beer garden was packed with riders hungry and thrirsty after the 40 mile odd ride around town. Cliff from Brixton Cycles CC (a chef by trade) made some amazing scran with all proceeds going back in to the charity pot at the end.

Cyclist at the London Classic leave the Gipsy Hill Tavern

There is loads of interest in this event and we can more than fill our registration list every year. The challenge comes with making money for Evelina the rest of the year. I’m exploring some merchandise ideas which we might be able to sell via the website. Cycling has flipped on to a golf like level of popularity so it would be good if we could exploit this and make a few charity bucks along the way.

Brixton cycles club at the London Classic 2013

Last year our friend Ned Boulting persuaded Team Sky to donate a signed jersey (signed by Wiggo, Cav and the rest of the squad) which Evelina managed to flog at a high roller Christmas auction. This wasn’t easy to achieve and won’t be easy to repeat but is the sort of thing which can really make a difference.

London Classic cyclists in Covent Garden

Special thanks goes to our official photographer Louise Heywood-Schiefer, who flew around the course on the back of Stan’s scooter taking some amazing shots along the way.

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