• 2017 in sport

    Running

    One of the biggest changes to my life in 2017 was that I took up running. I built up from running 2-3km to regularly running a 5k two-or-three times a week. Running culminated in finishing the rather hilly Hardwick 10k in one hour and 41 seconds. Sadly, after the race my motivation waned and I gradually ran less often until I picked up an injury in October after trying too hard to get back on track. That injury was followed by unrelated health issues and a crunch period at work, so the running year ended at a low point.

    Over the year I managed to run 387km across 84 runs.

    Running aims for 2018 are to beat my 10k time in a race and to run a further total distance than I did in 2017.

    Cycling

    Cycling highlight of 2017 was without a doubt riding North over the Humber bridge and then home via the trans-pennine trail. At 177km (109 miles) it’s by far the longest ride I’ve made. It took over nine hours plus breaks and was a fairly even split between quiet roads and trail. For the first 70 miles I felt pretty good but started going downhill from then, by the end I felt like death, particularly when I got the only puncture of the day about 5km from home. Still it was a fantastic ride and an achievement I’m pretty proud of.

    Most of my other rides were riding the same local routes as usual, though I did manage to get on a couple of good rides with Sara - Carsington to Parsley Hay on the Tissington Trail returning via the High Peak Trail and a rainy, muddy lap around Derwent and Howden reservoirs.

    Hugo was getting a bit big for the child seat, so I rented a bike at Center Parcs with a Burley Piccolo tag-a-long. It essentially turns your bike into a tandem. After getting home, I quickly bought one and so we’ve had lots of adventures cycling along together, both for leisure and as a way of transport. We’ve not used it since the end of Autumn but he’s raring to get on it again.

    I’ve also just got a turbo trainer for christmas so hopefully I’ll be in better condition come this summer.

    Mountain biking

    While at Center Parcs I visited Whinlatter to do some mountain biking. Other than the short and tame “adventure cycling” track at Wiliamthorpe Ponds and the blue route at Sherwood Pines my mountain bike experience was rather limited.

    First we rode the blue-rated Quercus route, which was tonnes of fun - fast flowing swoopy bits, berms and board walks. There was some hard climbing but it was enjoyable and the downhill bits made it worthwhile. I felt confident and had some of the most fun I’ve had on two wheels.

    After that we rode the south portion of the red-rated Altura route. This was a long steep climb on a hot sunny day, ascending over 200m, my longest climb yet. The route down had some adverse cambered rocky features which were out of my comfort zone but also some fast table-top jumps which I did enjoy.

    The hard work to get to the top of the South Altura route and the bits I didn’t enjoy meant I rode the blue route again while the others went to ride the even tougher North Altura route.

    My last ride of 2017 was a wet boxing day ride on the red-rated Kitchener trail at Sherwood Pines. This was ok but nowhere near as good as either of the Whinlatter routes, it felt like most of the reason for the red-rating was because of the rooty and rocky surface rather than because of fun berms and other features. I didn’t really relax into it as I did at Whinlatter and it was very puddly.

    I enjoyed the odd bit of mountain biking and loved Whinlatter but not enough to take it up regularly or get my own mountain bike. That said I’ll hopefully try the Kitchener route at Sherwood Pines again in drier weather.

    Summary

    In total I managed to ride 1775km, climbing 24660 metres over 390 rides as well as several virtual km on the turbo trainer.

    For 2017 I aimed to:

    1. Do more non-commute riding
      • I don’t really feel like I did this - I did more km but over fewer rides I think.
    2. Do more kilometres total than I did in 2016
      • Did this by 90km
    3. Have a 100km ride
      • Smashed this by 77km

    Aims for 2018 are:

    1. Do more non-commute riding
    2. Do more kilometres total in 2018 than I did in 2017
    3. Complete another 100 mile-ish ride
  • Reading 2017

    1. Nomad by Alan Partridge. I do miss the TV show
    2. Bands of mourning by Brandon Sanderson. Enjoying the Wax and Wayne series more and more
    3. Mistborn: secret history. Novella. Reread due to reading Bands of Mourning
    4. Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb. Fantastic story telling as usual. Really needs live ships trilogy to have been read first though. Doesn’t stand alone well. Looking forward to the rest in this series.
    5. The Wilful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb. Novella. Nice little background to the other six duchy books
    6. Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb. This one felt like a proper story, really enjoyed it.
    7. City of Dragons by Robin Hobb. It just went by, it felt like another novel leading up to something rather than something that stood alone.
    8. Blood of Dragons - Robin Hobb. The culmination of the series. The ending wasn’t particularly surprising. This is probably the weakest series of the Realm of the Elderlings. Possibly due to the main characters ages but it felt rather YA in places. Only bother with the series if you’re really into the Realm of the Elderlings
    9. Coalition by David Laws. Really interesting look into the coalition government by one of the insiders. Despite being written by a LibDem, and there being some obvious holes and biases I suspect this is a reasonably fair account
    10. Tamerlane by Justin Marozzi, interesting subject matter, I knew little of Tamerlane except from an episode of In Our Time. Never really settled into the book though it was certainly very informative
    11. Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg. This is Clegg talking about coalition’s and the future political landscape. Not entirely convinced of his expectations that european style coalition governments and consensus politics are increasingly likely.
    12. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain. Mildly funny the whole way through. Great wit.
    13. Guide to Adventure Cycle Touring. Non fiction. Interesting, I like the romance.of the idea
    14. Janapar, love on a bike. Non fiction. Really interesting travelogue about a really long cycle ride.
    15. Coca cola, crisps and the trans Pennine trail - Darren Geal. Self published & short. A couple of funny bits.
    16. Lands End to John o’Groats on a Beer Mat. Self published short. Not worth bothering with
    17. The Lord’s of the North - Bernard Cromwell. Reread
    18. Where Shall We Walk Today: Walking the Pennine Way by Dave Marriott. Self published, written ok. Obviously written by a man in his 50s
    19. Sword song by Bernard Cromwell. Reread.
    20. Last Englishmen by Keith Foskett. About walking the Pacific Crest Trail, much better written then the other walking/cycling books I’ve read
    21. IT by Stephen King. Genuinely really scary.
    22. Sword Song by Bernard Cromwell. Reread
    23. Burning Land by Bernard Cromwell. Reread
    24. Death of Kings by Bernard Cromwell. Reread
    25. Pagan Lord by Bernard Cromwell. Reread
    26. Empty Throne by Bernard Cromwell. Reread
    27. Warriors of the storm by Bernard Cromwell
    28. The Mother Tongue: English and how it got that way by Bill Bryson. Informative and enjoyable, not funny like a short history of nearly everything though
    29. Wolf of the Plains by Conn Iggulden. Fantastic historical fiction about the early life of Ghengis Khan. It strays from the truth as good fiction should but I found it hard to put down.
    30. Lord’s of the Bow by Conn Iggulden. Next in the Ghengis Khan series, fantastic again, wish it hadn’t skipped over some of the betrayal and drama over the reunification of the tribes
    31. Bones of the hill by Conn Iggulden. Fantastic again.
    32. Empire of silver by Conn Iggulden. as above
    33. Conquerer by Conn Iggulden. Sad didn’t cover all of Khubali’s life
    34. Ghengis Khan by John Man. Reread to re-separate fact and fiction in my head.
    35. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. Short but enjoyable
    36. Mort by Terry Pratchett. Reread. It’s ok, not encouraged to read the whole of the death series as I planned.
    37. Why the West Rules - For Now by Ian Morris. Reread
    38. Kind of Blue by Ken Clarke. Interesting view into the world of politics before my time. Some of the contradictions drove me potty
    39. Absolute Pandemonium by Brian Blessed. Autobiography. Unbelievable.
    40. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Unputdownable
    41. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. Ditto
    42. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Brilliant book about a man and his son in a post apocalyptic world. Brilliant in a terrible way, it’s a hard world that McCarthy made and I constantly found myself grateful I wasn’t in the main characters boots
    43. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Meh. Don’t be a dick, pay interest in people.
    44. Collapse by Jared diamond. It’s ok, no guns germs and steel
    45. Oathkeeper by Brandon Sanderson. Fantastic, can’t write storm light novels quick enough.
    46. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. Reread. Didn’t enjoy it the first time round so much as I did this time
    47. Fools Assassin by Robin Hobb. I missed reading this series.
    48. Fools Quest by Robin Hobb. Went so fast, was surprised when it finished.
    49. Assassins Fate by Robin Hobb. Brilliant, though perhaps a bit rushed feels like it could have been two books? wraps up the whole world
    50. Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb had to re-read after finishing the others, still brilliant
    51. Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb. Reread.
    52. Assassins Quest by Robin Hobb. Reread.
  • Cycling 2016

    2016 was my first full calendar year of cycling. Most weeks just have the short ~20 minute round daily commute to the train station. Once the days are longer though and on some weekends I’ve taken the chance to cycle further.

    In March I bought a new bike - another hybrid, a Giant Roam 2. Lock-out front suspension is much better, no more feeling like I’m in a boat.

    I managed to bike home all the way from work a couple of times. Work and home are both within a few 100 metres of the Trans-Pennine trail so that’s handy. It’s about 30km. I’ll try to do this more often this year - once the days are longer

    I’ve discovered a few other nice routes around Chesterfield too; the canal towpath, quiet roads & tracks between Tapton, Calow and Heath and the various branches of the Trans-Pennine trail. One of my favourite local rides was via the backroads to Chatsworth and then home via Stone Edge. Unfortunately my phone battery died so I only recorded some of a ride.

    We took our bikes with us on holiday a couple of times - once for pootling around Center Parcs and the other time in Cornwall - as well as riding into the nearest town we also did the Coast to Coast to Coast - Hayle to Marazion and back and rode into St Ives. Going up the hills out of St Ives with Hugo in the child seat was fun!

    Longest ride was 92km, from home to Sherwood Pines, a lap around and back again. Looking forward to trying a long ride like that again.

    I managed to do 1685km, climbing 19454 metres over 352 rides.

    Aims for 2017 are to do more non-commute riding, get more kilometres under my belt than I did in 2016 and have a 100km ride.

  • Reading 2016

    First full year commuting by public transport, which is where I’ve done the vast majority of my reading, well on public transport or hanging around empty platforms… I thought 52 books sounded very achievable this year.

    1. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (reread)
    2. What If? by Randall Munroe - Enjoyable, though I’d read most of it on the blog already
    3. Liveship Traders: Ship of Magic by Robin Hobbs - fantastic fantasy, I waspulled right in to the whole series. Not sure that I’ve read fantasy set on boats since the Dawntreader.
    4. Liveship Traders: The Mad Ship by Robin Hobbs
    5. Liveship Traders: Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobbs
    6. Farseer Trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobbs - the first part of the first series in the World of the Ealderlings series. Should have read this trilogy before the Liveship Traders, though it didn’t make much odds. Another fantastic trilogy, possibly slightly better than the Liveship Traders trilogy.
    7. Farseer Trilogy: Royal Assassin by Robin Hobbs
    8. Farseer Trilogy: Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobbs
    9. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (reread)
    10. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card (reread)
    11. Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card (reread)
    12. Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card (reread)
    13. Tawney Man Trilogy: Fools Errand by Robin Hobbs - Really enjoyable series, not quite as addictive as the Farseer Trilogy. You definitely get the sense of this as the start of a trilogy, setting up for the stories to follow.
    14. Tawney Man Trilogy: Golden Fool by Robin Hobbs. Settled back in to the world now, feels like a story in its own right.
    15. Tawney Man Trilogy: Fools Fate by Robin Hobbs, surprised me with the sweet ending. The last 10% of the story, felt like a protracted epilogue though. This trilogy was not quite as good as the Farseer or Liveship trilogy
    16. Fall of the Roman Empire by Peter heather. (reread)
    17. Old man’s war by John Scalzi (reread)
    18. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (reread)
    19. The Last Colony by John Scalzi (reread)
    20. Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (reread)
    21. The human division by John Scalzi (reread)
    22. End of all things by John Scalzi, the reason for re-reading the others was that I knew I had this to read. Really enjoyed reading the whole series yet again.
    23. Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman (reread)
    24. The Man Who Cycled the World by Mark Beaumont, quite an interesting non-fiction read.
    25. Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwall (reread)
    26. Little Brother by Cory Doctrow (reread)
    27. A Game of Thrones by GRRM (reread)
    28. A Clash of Kings by GRRM (reread)
    29. A Storm of Swords by GRRM (reread)
    30. A Feast for Crows by GRRM (reread)
    31. A Dance With Dragons by GRRM (reread)
    32. Dunc and Egg by GRRM. Set in the same world as Game of Thrones but much earlier. Really enjoyed having some fresh ASoIAF material to read.
    33. House of Cards 2 by Michael Dobbs (reread) couldn’t remember it very well, so I re-read in preparation for the third in the series.
    34. House of Cards 3 by Michael Dobbs Enjoyed more than the second, neither come close to the first.
    35. Mistborn Secret History by Brandon Sanderson, surprising find, didn’t expect this to exist. Definitely for fans of the mistborn trilogy only.
    36. Frankenstein by Marie Shelley Decided to read something more classic after binging on fantasy, glad I did.
    37. Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Shame it was so short
    38. The Odyssey by Homer, I really enjoyed it, it’s where a large part of the Greek myths that everyone vaguely sort-of knows comes from. Probably shouldn’t compare it, but I preferred the Illiad - wider variety of gods, more perspectives, more variance. The odyssey has lots of fleet-footed Athene doing things, Odysseus being anointed with olive oil before getting his companions killed and moaning about the suitors.
    39. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cromwell (second reread of the year) Back to fantasy after areciating some classics. Decided to read the whole series so started at the beginning again.
    40. The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cromwell
    41. The Lords of the North by Bernard Cromwell
    42. Sword Song by Bernard Cromwell
    43. Burning Land by Bernard Cromwell
    44. Death of Kings by Bernard Cromwell
    45. Pagan Lord by Bernard Cromwell
    46. Empty Throne by Bernard Cromwell
    47. Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cromwell Really enjoyed reading The Last Kingdom series, but binging like this has merged them a bit in my head.
    48. Proxima by Baxter - nice bit of sci-fi, the world building was good, the characters were a bit 2d.
    49. Ultima by Baxter - pretty poor sequel. Romans in space.
    50. Necromancer by William Gibson. (reread)
    51. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (reread) - still enjoyable, not quite as laugh out loud as he first few times I read it as a teen.
    52. Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (reread) - still funny.
    53. 3 men in a boat by JK Jerome (reread) - not as funny as I remembered
    54. Seven Eve’s by Neal Stephenson - Absolutely fantastic, especially the first two parts. Kind of get the feeling more could have been done with part 3.
    55. Mort (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett - Quite amusing, not as enjoyable as Guards Guards! but I’ll keep reading and I’m sure it’ll grow on me
    56. Reaper Man (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett - Much more enjoyable than Mort. The first discworld book I’ve had that has dealt so much with the wizards.
  • Reading 2015

    I was very busy playing Destiny so didn’t read much this year until Terry Pratchett’s death in March kickstarted me on a Discworld city watch re-read. Commuting via the train rather than driving also meant I read more after August. Too many re-reads though.

    1. We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver - I’d heard bits of this on Radio 4’s Book of the Week years ago and finally got round to reading it. Wish I hadn’t taken so long.
    2. Honourable Friends: Parliament and the Fight for Change by Caroline Lucas - an interesting look into some of the inner workings of Westminster
    3. Guards guards! by Terry Pratchett (reread)
    4. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett’s (reread)
    5. Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett (reread)
    6. Jingo by Terry Pratchett (reread)
    7. The Fifth elephant by Terry Pratchett (reread)
    8. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (reread) All of the city watch series are still brilliant, I still need to read the rest of discworld.
    9. A Dance with Dragons by GRRM (reread)
    10. Anathem by Neal Stephenson (reread)
    11. The End of the world running club by Adrian J Walker I really enjoyed this, it was nice to read a post-apocalyptic book about Fred Bloggs set in the UK.
    12. Reamde by Neal Stephenson, it doesn’t quite measure up to his other books in my eyes, possibly not as geeky and part of the subject matter being MMORPGs was a bit of a turn off. I did enjoy it though, it’s an exciting thriller with a fast paced climax.
    13. Baroque cycle: Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson - (reread)
    14. Baroque cycle: The Confusion by Neal Stephenson - (reread)
    15. Baroque cycle: The System of the World by Neal Stephenson (reread)
    16. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (reread)
    17. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel - A slightly different take on a post-apocalyptic world. Very enjoyable.
    18. How to be an MP by Paul Flynn MP - Interesting and mildly amusing in places
    19. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
    20. House of cards by Michael Dobbs
    21. Play the King by Michael Dobbs - 2nd of the house of cards series, can’t believe I didn’t read the third yet. Not as good as first.
    22. Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card - reread
    23. Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card - reread
    24. Shadow of the Giants by Orson Scott Card - reread
    25. Shadows in Flight by Orson Scott Card - reread
    26. Adrift: 76 days at sea by Steven Callahan (reread)
    27. Lost in the jungle by Yossi Ginsberg (reread)
    28. Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford (reread)
    29. Naked and marooned by Ed Stafford, interesting, though much less so than Walking the Amazon. Included lots of stuff that was cut from the TV show.
    30. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwall, read after watching the TV series. Fantastic read, looking forward to reading the whole series except that it’s still being written.
    31. Final empire by Brandon Sanderson (reread)
    32. Well of ascension by Brandon Sanderson (reread)
    33. Hero of the ages by Brandon Sanderson (reread)
    34. Alloy of law by Brandon Sanderson (reread) - enjoyed it much more this time round
    35. Shadows of self by Brandon Sanderson - it’s good. I still prefer the mistborn series though.
    36. Way of kings by Brandon Sanderson (reread)