Thursday, 7 March 2013


I'm a big fan of the Dirt Bag Diaries. Well worth checking out, and subscribing to their podcast. I followed a link from the site to another project of Fitz Cahall, Duct Tape then Beer which is a great name for a low key advertising company.

They seem good. I love this. I recommend watching, full screen, sound up. At least twice.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Skiing and house hunting

A week in Chamonix spent skiing and house hunting. Hard life.


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Long listening

I've gone back and forth on listening to music while running. For years I never did, then there was a period where I never set off on a long run without the ipod shuffle stashed on my pack. Even though I rarely used it for the whole distance I'd often stick some music on towards the end.

Currently I'm into podcasts. My favourite listening right now on a long run is from the Long Now Foundation. Their podcasts are excellent - good speakers, interesting topics and they are long! I didn't quite make it through two today, on a three hour run. Good stuff.


How to cheat at a marathon

Or at least proof that it's possible. Well worth a read.


The first three hours

Today was my longest run for a while - a full three hours. I ran through reading and picked up the the Berkshire extension of the Chiltern Way, something I had failed to find on a previous run. Armed this time with a map I found it. It is in fact extremely well marked, aside from the one place where I tried to pick it up, where the sign is obscured, and the path not obvious.

Still, once on it navigation was easy and the running pleasant. I ran through Crowsley Park which is quite intriguing. A high security centre, surrounded by ariels and with a trio of large satellite dishes. Most suspicious, until I fished my phone out and Google maps presented me with the wikipedia link.

Anyway I wasn't running quickly and hadn't planned a route home, so after Crowsley decided to pick a way back to the Thames and run back along the river. I eventually realised the trails looked familiar because I have biked them at night with the CTC. I followed a route a I remembered, however I neglected to factor in quite how much rain has fallen in the last week or so, quite how saturated the ground was anyway, and quite how high the tributaries to the Thames were.

The lane I planned on following to the Thames looked like this:

Hmm. I didn't fancy the longer route round on a busy road so decided to give it a go. After about ten metres, there was a style into the fields on the left. Whilst also being flooded it wasn't as deep as the lane and I was able to get through. It was cold though!

I made it to Sonning, and the Thames Path, encountering only one further flood on the way back into Reading. At least my trainers were clean by the end.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Where and why

I mentioned in my previous blog we have left the West Country. It's part of a journey, that should hopefully end up with us living in the Alps. Stage 1 of that journey was quitting my job and working for myself (which I have done, for a low value of 'working'). Stage 2 was acquire UK base, which we have also done. We're now living in a flat in Reading, chosen entirely pragmatically for it's proximity to motorways, airports and London. Notably not chosen for it's proximity to mountains, hills or exciting outdoor stuff. But! It has impressed.

As mentioned I have been mountain biking. Reading CTC have a great off road section, and do lots of rides, and there is lots of riding to be had locally. A nice bunch and it's a delight to have much better than expected mountain biking available right out of the door. I am reliably informed there are hundreds (or at least many tens) of miles of great cross country riding.

I've also been doing a bit of road biking. Due to being halfway through a move overseas a lot of our stuff is in storage. Limited space in the flat forced me chose which bikes I'd need, and which I could live with out. I selected the hardtail mtb and the fixed to come with us here (plus my trusty Raleigh shopper for getting round town), and everything else went into storage. This means road rides are on the fixed. It's been a while since I've ridden it frequently, and hills are hard work. But luckily there is a decent choice of quiet loops out into the surrounding countryside, and going north means the Chilterns and hence hills, and the south is flatter. 

And finally there is running. I had got used to having the Cotswolds on the door step, with miles and miles of hilly trail running. I was expecting a lot of road running post the move. However only a few minutes from the flat I can be on the canals, with miles and miles of traffic and road free running (if a bit flat). North again gets into the hills, though it does require a few miles on the pavement to start with. But again, not too shoddy.

All of that adds up to no excuse for getting fitter again. Two things I'd like to do this year are this and this. I have a confirmed entry to neither - dithering caused by concerns about fitness, not being sure where we'll be and when, and the lack of income. However I've now done some actual paid work (invoices sent), and hence really am running out of excuses. 


Winter mountain biking

I've been riding my mountain bike. Today was three hours in .. rain. A lot of rain. And mud. Mountain biking in winter has it's challenges. I've also been getting out at night a bit, which is a lot of fun (if also wet and muddy).

This is my bike:

Obviously, on that day it wasn't muddy. It was snowy and less filthy. This is what it looked like on Wednesday night at the beginning of the ride:

As you can see I've added crud catchers. I dislike the look (and indeed resisted mudguards for years when commuting by bike in London), but given the prevailing conditions at the moment thought I'd try it. It's a big improvement (as was my first commute in the rain when I eventually went the mudguard route). The first puddle that results in no wet arse is a bit of a revelation. I have no pictures of the mud and rain today as I didn't want to take my phone out of it's waterproof protection.  You'll have to use your imagination. To paraphrase, slimy things with bikes did ride upon a slimy trail.