Hell Rider 2013

For the third year running I entered Hell Rider seeing as it seems to have become an annual thing I participate in. The previous two years I trained hard – doing huge amounts of work at weekends running and cycling off road around the Chiltern hills and then went to the event, drank far too much fluid and had horrendous cramp. This year I was determined to enter, do the training and manage my hydration better. Sadly not all of this was to work out – I managed not to do any training for the event at all!

This year at work has been completely mad and I have been working lots of long hours which have stopped me from doing any running in the evenings at all and often at weekends I have either been too busy or too shattered from the week to train. I have barely made it to any of the Monday night circuit classes having been unable to make it home in time and aside from cycling to and from work I managed to do 2, on road, relatively flat 5 km runs… Oh dear!

As a result, I went into Hell Rider expecting it to be a complete disaster from a fitness perspective – fortunately this year they held it at a different location which meant I wouldn’t be able to draw any direct comparisons with my effort from 2012 :)

The Event - What is Hell Rider?

Hell Rider is an off-road duathlon held over 8 hours that can be entered as teams of 5, 3 or as an individual (I enter as an individual). The event consists of a 5 km run over hilly off-road terrain followed by a 7 km mountain bike ride over similarly challenging terrain. As a team each person goes out on a relay basis and must compete in run / cycle / run order. Individuals must run / cycle / run as well, only they don’t have anybody to relay with. The idea is to see how many laps you can complete in an 8 hour window. As long as you start within the 8 hours your final lap can be completed outside of the 8 hours.

The Courses

Here is the elevation and my pace info for one of the run laps:


And one of my cycle laps (which I still don’t understand how they managed to get so much climbing into):


How Did I Get On?

This year I managed to complete 6 runs loops and 5 cycle loops in just over 8 hours (including breaks between loops) – last year I managed 6 of both. Not bad considering I didn’t do any training to speak of! All of the other competitors who took part last year all agreed that the cycle route was harder work (it was more technical throughout and harder work physically as a result). Below shows my lap times – about 7 hours of effort in total.


So, lap wise I could have done better had I trained and you can see how much I was suffering on the runs from the degradation of the lap times – the cycling I was better on which makes sense given I cycle commute. Hydration wise I did much better, only one moment of cramp in the whole day – my problem was legs manufactured from lead from lap 4 onwards – my muscles just gave in and the absence of training was really apparent on the down hills which I couldn’t run down as my muscles just wouldn’t do it.

Overall I am pretty happy with the fact I managed to keep myself going (with some encouragement from the other competitors on the day as well). Here are a couple of photos taken by the event photographers (who hardly seemed to bother, bit disappointed in that side of things really):

Cycling! Running!

Password Protected Posts

If I password protect a post on my blog it is because I have shared something I am happy with friends reading but not necessarily the general public. If you consider yourself one of my friends give me a shout (being my friend you’ll know how to contact me) and I will share the password with you. I’ll use the same one for all posts like this and it is reasonably memorable.

Photography, Photos & Camera Lust

I have recently uploaded a few photos to this site in a wonderful HTML 5 gallery called Juicebox. I bought a license a while ago and have been dying to use it – once I worked out there is a WordPress plugin for “Pro” license owners I managed to rather seamlessly embed it into this site. The fact it is HTML 5 also means that the gallery works very nicely indeed on tablets and mobile phones that support it.

The links above will take you to the few photos I have uploaded so far. These will probably change a bit once I get some more time to play and I will almost certainly add a watermark of some description to the image.

One thing I have decided on though, is to maintain a black and white gallery. This is the format that I first took ‘real’ photos in – on an old clunky film SLR at school during my GCSE in the subject and I am still very fond of it, although I don’t go out to take black and white photos as much as I would like to. I think the reason for this is that I don’t have a camera on me enough! I’d love to be able to carry a camera with me at all times but the equipment I use for aviation and the little wildlife / animal work I do isn’t portable enough to carry with me every day. I do have my phone but they simply don’t offer the sort of quality I am after – the sensor is too small for one – and normal compact cameras don’t cut it for me quality wise either. This has left me looking at two options, both of which seem to have significant downsides.

  1. A camera like the Fuji X100S which isn’t quite out yet and addresses some of the issues of the X100 – yet still appears as though it will have some clangers with its release
  2. A (and this is a ludicrous idea) Leica of some description… the main downfall with these wonderful bits of kit is that that are obscenely expensive (as are all the lenses)

So, it seems likely I’ll end up in the market for something closer to option 1 unless I win the lottery at some point! Despite this I have worryingly discovered a Leica shop not far from where I work in London… I must… stay… away…

Revisiting Old Hobbies

Last year we went to stay on the Isle of Wight for a week with some good friends. They had brought an acoustic guitar with them along with some self tuition books. I hadn’t picked up a guitar in years, I used to play a bit a long time ago and also used to play bass in a Heavy Metal (ish) band that played a number of gigs around the local area.

I tried picking up the guitar and soon discovered that my brain had pretty much erased everything I had learned all those years ago which was a little upsetting. I set about trying the lessons in the tuition books and a few bits and pieces started coming back to me.

As we left my friend lent me the guitar for a while and I carried on practising with it. Despite my finger causing me the same old problems it used to (I badly smashed it when I was young and can’t bend it properly or entirely straightened it) I started to get a bit better although I felt a bit frustrated as the action on the guitar was very high which was causing a lot of difficulty with my finger.

Next thing I know I am sat in a guitar shop trying out some different models! I settled on a Tanglewood Nashville electro acoustic guitar which came with a hard case and have been enjoying playing it whenever I get a chance (which isn’t as much as I like) but I have certainly improved. Having an acoustic allows me to (attempt) to play a variety of tunes but I am still very much learning. My heavy metal days were calling a bit after learning a few things and at Christmas I found myself in the bloody guitar shop again! So now I have 2 guitars! The electric is a black Alden with dual humbuckers and sounds fairly meaty – this allows me to play a whole variety of other styles so I am very much enjoying myself trying to play a whole host of things :-)

Revisiting this hobby has given me the odd chance to really relax which has been much needed given how busy I have been at work lately.

Bleep Test

Every Monday evening for the last couple of years I have been attending a circuit training class in the village I grew up in. It is a superb form of exercise that I highly recommend, especially if you have motivation issues, as the rest of the class is going through the same thing and the presence of familiar faces always helps you press on when you might otherwise give in on your own at a gym.

Last night we were offered the chance to take part in a police length bleep test and since I had missed out the week before having left work late I had been chomping at the bit to have a go all week.

These tests are very deceptive – the beeps start off very slowly and running the 15 metres slowly enough so you don’t arrive well ahead of the next beep is actually quite tricky. After so many beeps the level increases and the time between beeps decreases. I was running fine up until about level 10 and felt quite comfortable. Shortly after this I suddenly noticed that only 3 of us were left running and not long after that only 2. The speed you have to maintain at the higher levels increases sharply and very suddenly you find yourself struggling to stop and turn around fast enough. Time to dig in!

I managed to keep running until level 15.6 (6 beeps into the level) before I had to stop and was the last one left running which was pleasing. My legs were fine, my breathing was the issue! The stop-turn-start nature of the test really pushes you on the breathing side of things.

If you fancy measuring your fitness these are easy to set up and you can download the beep tracks or apps freely, there are a number available for Android at the Google Play store so I am certain there will be some available for the iPhone. Why not give it a try? All you need is 15 metres of space to run back and forth in and something to play the bleep test through.

JamWheel Returns

It has been a while since I took down jamwheel.co.uk after deciding to can a second virtual server I had hired and wasn’t using much. Something in me decided it was time to start a blog site again to see if I can make a better effort at maintaining it this time round. Also I miss the ability to look back at points in my life that I blogged about to see what I was thinking – memories dim over time and blogs retain the detail that is otherwise lost.

I have put some categories together which will hopefully lay out a framework for the subjects I will be posting about. These are as follows:

  • Aviation
  • Fitness
  • Life
  • Photography
  • Technology

So, there we are. Will any of it be of any interest to anyone? Perhaps not, but maybe it will be of some amusement to me a few years down the line.