Tuesday, 31 January 2012

On the beaten track

After a week long project meeting, last week I had a day off in San Francisco The weather was warm and dry so there was no excuse for not using the day to the best advantage. For me that was hiring a mountain bike and heading for the hills above the Golden Gate bridge. This area is hilly with a big H but offers fabulous views and stunning outdoor locations to explore.

Strangely some of the trails on the map that look to be suitable for off road mountain biking are marked on local signs as not for bikes. These trails start out as suitable but change to steep, narrow paths only really useful for hikers. I went from the hire shop on Columbus Av. down to Fisherman's wharf, past the bay side marinas then up to the Golden Gate bridge. After the bridge crossing, currently restricted by repair work to a crowded two way bike and people path on the west side, I turned left and climbed the steep hill road to the costal artillery battery emplacements. Beyond there past Rodeo beach the real country hills begin. After nearly getting stuck on Wolf ridge, I headed toward to Sulsalito and then along the ridge back toward the bridge and city beyond. It was only 29 miles but certainly some of the most satisfying off road riding to be found.

There is lots of information on the net about mountain biking in Marin county and reasonable quality bikes can be reserved and hired from Blazing Saddles in Columbus Ave. If you intend to go off road be sure to get a proper Marin bike rather than just one of the regular tourist hack bikes also available from this and other nearby shops.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Triumphs of Big Ben

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting book on the back history of Big Ben the world famous clock and bell in London. Goes into the original troubled build and the serious failure in 1976 that nearly destroyed the clock.

Clocks mark off and record passing time and fascinate in way unlike any other mechaincal device. This is the story of the big clock that has been at the heart of the British establishment for over 150 years.

Reading this book gives some insight into what makes Britain tick. (pun intended) The book shows that despite troublesome committees and contention between vested interests we still have the determination to get something great done.

For a short potted history of BigBen online see this link.
If you want a copy of your own check out the Advanced book exchange.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Virtual Fitness challenge 2012

I have a fitness challenge for the year that is to cycle&row a virtual track from Bideford, Devon to Eiffel Tower in Paris. It's 500 miles of road and 23 miles of sea and the target it to get there before birthday in June. To track the endeavour I have a wall chart printed out A3 with a bike ikon sprite to track progress. Sample to the left.

The driving instruction have a cumulative mile count that makes tracking easy. To make progress any time I am out on road or mountain bike I use Runtastic application to collect the miles.

Going well so far with 57 miles chalked up this month.

The chart was built using directions from Google maps and In-Design to compose.