Early this month it looked like the state of Victoria was going to be sentenced to house arrest again. I quickly got in a long ride that I thought would be my last for a while.
There are only four reasons that we may leave home and whilst one of them is for exercise it seemed for a few days that we would all be restricted to one hour a day within five kilometers of home. That became the reality for the majority – those that live in the big smoke. Out in the sticks we were allowed greater freedom. We can exercise longer and go further.
The prospect of an hour a day got me thinking of how to avoid a crash in my fitness. I resolved to up the intensity making repeated use of a local hill. When all was clarified it still seemed a good time to chase the Strava Climbing Challenge of 7,500m in a month.
I wrote about the phenomenon of Everesting back in May. So this month has been a serial mini-Everesting. (In the interim the rest of the cycling world has moved on to Trenching – 11,034 meters, the depth of the Mariana Trench. Yes, in a day).
Since I wasn’t restricted to 5km I could make use of a better hill than the nearest one. There is a Strava segment not too far away called Devil’s Peak. It sounds more impressive than it is. The segment is on the south side. On the north side there is a steeper section 1.6km long and about 60m high. That section includes another Strava segment with the far less impressive name Dunolly-Avoca Road Climb. I prefer to think of it as The Devil’s Peak North Face. Real hills are a long way away.
So up and down I went. It took seven visits to nail the Strava Climbing Challenge and get my merit badge …
with efforts that looked like this …
And with a week left in the month!
As of yesterday 398,811 people had taken the challenge. My position was 82,002nd. The leader is Lukas Rathgeber who had been out 22 times and notched up 79,028m. He’s in Switzerland. He has real mountains and I suspect extremely strong legs.
A recent Strava innovation is an award for the person who has completed the most runs through a segment in the last 90 days. That makes you the local Legend and you get a set of laurels. Given the population density here in the Goldfields it can take as few as one ride through a segment to become a local legend. Modesty almost prevents me from boasting no fewer than 43 sets of laurels. I have completed the Dunolly-Avoca Road Climb 80 times in the last 90 days, most of them in the last 20 – I think I should get freehold title rather than laurels.
The Strava Climbing Challenge is to cycle up 7500 m (24,606 feet) of climb in a month.
It’s not especially mountainous around the Victorian Goldfields. In cycling 1266 km so far this month my climbing adds up to a mere 4998 meters. So if I cycle around randomly I’ll have to push the distance out to
7500/4998X1266 = 1899.759903961584634 km.
That degree of precision is probably unwarranted. Let’s call it 1900 km or 2000 to be safe. June only has 30 days.
Obviously it would be more efficient to find a decent hill and go repeatedly up and down it. This is not a novel idea. George Malory, inspired by his grandfather also George Mallory and quite possibly the first person to climb Mount Everest in 1924 (He died on the way down) came up with the idea of going up and down a suitable hill until the Everest equivalent of 8848 meters (29,029 feet) were in the bank. Mallory did this on Victoria’s very own Mount Donna Buang in 1994.
Winter snowfall in Victoria commonly reaches down to 1200 meters, Mt Donna Buang stands at 1250. It’s a short 89 km drive from Melbourne so it’s the place where most of Melbourne’s kids get their first feel for snow. A short drive there, heaps of fun stuffing snow down each other’s necks and a long miserable drive home – a rite of passage for parents and children alike.
Everesting now has rules and a Hall of Fame which I’m unlikely to be joining any time soon. A desirable hill is as steep as you can manage to keep the horizontal component short and as straight a route as possible so that you can descend safely even with your brain in a fog of exhaustion. A relatively short course with many repetitions may be preferable to a very long course.
That’s the lovable Dr Oliver Bridgewood PhD from Sheffield UK which is where I studied for my first degree. The accent brings back a lot of fond memories. If I was obliged to endure England’s execrable climate again Yorkshire is where I would choose to do it.
Ollie ground out his Everest in a shade under 16 hours so assuming an even pace throughout he earned his Strava Climbing merit badge in 7500/8848X16hours or just 14 hours.
That of course is not a record. In recent weeks Keegan Swenson knocked off the 8,848 meters in an impressive 7 hours, f40minutes, and 5 seconds. He’d have got his merit badge in about 6 hours and 45 minutes and I need a month!
It was a late lunch but gee I enjoyed it.
The ride took me through Maryborough, out to Majorca and around Tullaroop Reservoir. Out to the right from there I could see Mount Tarrengower at Maldon, the highest point for miles around. A Black Kite followed me for a couple of kilometers there. Perhaps it thought I would expire.
North past Cairn Curran reservoir, north again to the little town of Eddington. I must have blinked because I didn’t see any sign of it. Into the gold rush town of Dunolly and then south over the Mount Hooghly Ranges to home. Not a lot of people know the Mount Hooghly Ranges largely because there is no such geographical entity. A passenger in a car would hardly notice the hills. On a bike they make more of an impression. I reached the highest point of the ride at kilometer 103 – I organised that well!
I did it that way around because some of the route was unfamiliar and Dunolly being reasonably large was going to be easier to find than places like Baringhup West that are really nothing more than names on the map.
115 km at 24.3 km/h, 674 meters of climb. And that nailed the Strava May Distance Challenge with four days to spare. Another merit badge for the Trophy Cabinet.
What next you ask. Well, the other non-trivial monthly challenge is the climb.
When I was researching Durability I came across the feats of Kurt Searvogel and following links I arrived at his Strava Trophy case. He has a truly impressive trophy case crammed with merit badges. As a Strava newby not only was mine empty at the time I had no clue how to get them.
Subsequent exploration led to Challenges. On that page one can choose from challenges in a variety of flavours suited to a variety of sports. The first one I accepted was the May Grand Fondo. Sometime in May I was to ride 100 km and thereby earn my merit badge.
Uncertain that I could meet such a challenge I did the ride then accepted the challenge. Let’s not put the ego on the line publicly. Child that I am I immediately craved more badges.
The sun is about to emerge above the trees behind me and at the moment my trophy case looks like this …
Not all challenges are created equal. Among the less trivial and therefore more desirable is the …
As you can see I was rash enough to join before I’d actually accumulated the distance but I’m now only 98 km from completion. The sky is blue. The wind is light. Once the sun has dealt with the frost I’ll be off. That badge may be in the case around lunchtime.
I rent this domain. Add a subscription to WordPress for hosting the blog. Add a subscription to my internet service provider. I fled from Lightroom to Capture One to avoid a subscription. Phase One no longer upgrade my program but they offer a subscription. Sometimes it seems like I rent my life from someone else.
It may only be the cost of a coffee and a doughnut at a time but add all the opportunities together and they could easily add up to a nasty case of obesity.
I recently gave up obesity in favour of riding a bike. In the process I discovered Strava and an easy way of tracking my training. It comes in two flavours – plain vanilla and subscription. Plain vanilla did everything I felt the need for … until today.
That things were going to change had made it to my consciousness via Bike Radar and Global Cycling Network and a notice on Strava itself. Co-founders Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath were careful to get the spin they wanted on the news. The components of the change that were emphasized were that Segments and Route planning were largely going to go behind a paywall. We were assured, however, that there would always be a free Strava and that it would be good enough to serve as a worthwhile introduction to the program.
There were three ways ways to review your training, on the Dashboard, the Training Log and the Training Calendar. The Log provides the easiest way to compare week against week, the Calendar is the easiest way to find out where you are for the month. It always struck me as odd that the daily rides in Calendar didn’t have the distance in numerical format. That deficiency in the Calendar makes the Log the most useful means of long term comparisons.
The Log disappeared behind the paywall this morning.
Without the Log a free Strava doesn’t really cut it. Not that Strava has a duty to provide me with a free anything. It has been a pleasure to use, it is not full of annoying adverts and it has not made a profit. Good value for the consumer but not a long term business model to invest in.
So it’s time to consider renting another little slice of life or do I just start a spreadsheet? When I fled from Lightroom I realised that whilst I owned a lot of good photos finding the ones I was looking for had suddenly become a problem. The changes in Strava make me realise that I don’t even own my own training diary.
I liked the computer. I liked being able to see that I was going really fast. Downhill I could be really impressed with myself. For the secondary display I usually chose distance covered but on the eBig Tour you can cycle through all the options as you ride. It’s nice to be able check your average speed. Apart from the odometer the other data is ephemeral. I didn’t keep a record.
The new bike has no computer. I could buy one. I really like the Wahoo ELEMNT Roam which does all the tricks I had before plus GPS mapping. It comes in at a mere $600 but I’ve spent all my pocket money for the year on the bike.
I have a smartphone. There are a number of ways of putting that to use. I have been using the Strava app. You open an account and download the app on your phone. When you’re ready to go for a ride or a run you open it up.
Across the bottom of the screen there are a number of options, the centre one is labelled record. Press it and you are rewarded with a bright orange button. Once you have satellites press the button and set off. Don’t forget to take your phone!
At the completion of the ride press the finish button and you can give your ride a title and description, add a photo, write notes and sync it to the cloud. When you go to your real computer your session will look something like this …
and you can track your workouts in a number of different formats. In addition you can compete against others over road segments.
It’s a combination of training log and social media. You can keep it private, share it with friends or share it with the world.
There are some other features to explore. You can sync heart rate and power monitors. The basic app is free but there is a deluxe version for those whose pocket money hasn’t run out. You can sign up at strava.com and get the mobile app from your friendly app store.
There’s no display to watch during the ride but you can work out your average speed at your leisure.