Year to Date

I didn't set myself my usual raft of Resolutions this year, simply as back in January we had no real idea of what was going to happen. Eight months later and there is still a huge chunk of un-certainty, and many aspects of my life have changed.


I never really consider this within my plans and is what allows me to do the rest of my life, I don't set goals for it etc. One big thing that has changed is that I'm now officially a full-time homeworker, having signed the contract change last Friday. The current business plans are for "hybrid working", with individual departments coming up with their own plans, though suggestions are a mixed rota of 2/3 days in the office a week, with (possibly) little or no say on which days you're assigned. Moving to a homeworking contract avoids this...I can still go into the office if needed (and it's a 15 minute cycle away, so not a hassle), however I can do so on my own schedule. I've got myself into a happy routine at home now, with a dedicated office area, and better desk/screens/connectivity/space than I'd get in the office. I won't miss the daily commute (especially in winter and the rain).

Gill has arranged the same from her company, so going forward we are both working-from-home for the forseeable future.


On Tuesday Reaver will be 6 months old, and will have been in the house ofr 4 months. He's gone from a 5-kilo spud that waddled around to a 22-kilo+ bundle of energy. 80% of the time he's superb, 20% of the time he's an obsinate shit who eats his own poo. For a couple of DINK's, it's been a big upheaval in our lives, suddently having to keep a schedule, keep an eye on him, and try to teach him good manners. We've had some victories (like being able to trust him off the lead, and coming when called) and some ongoing battles (walking to heel, which he does understand, but everything is so damn interesting!), but generally it's going well. He's officially an office-dog, and once hes old enough (typically at 1 year old, when the leg joints have settled down a bit) he'll be taught how stairs work and get more freedom within the house.


In a weeks time I'll be heading down south to do Lands-End to John O'Groats by bike. After having been semi-hermetic for 18 months, it will be distinctly weird suddenly being in a bubble of a thousand cyclists. It will be a very different experience to when I did it the other way in 2010. Back then I had only been cycling for 18 months, and was more of a runner. I now have 11 years experience of cycling under my belt...but also 11 years of aging. You can reasonably expet a 1% drop-off in muscular strength for every year after 40 (and I see that in my training metrics...a slow drop-off in the power I can produce against a given perceived effort), so we'll see if that can be offset with experience and a better understanding of my own ability.

Racing has been an on/off thing this year, with a high level of what I'd call "Zwift Legs". A lot of people have spent a lot of time doing monster indoor training sessions on turbo-trainers, which are great for power development, less great for handling and control. The end result has been super-fast racing, but dodgy cornering and slightly more crashes than normal. I've been distinctly mid-field, and decided in July to step away ofr the year, and come back in 2022 for (hopefully) a full season, as I tend to come out of winter stronger than most.


In 2020 we had 3 holidays cancelled, including one in December where we had attempted to escape to St Lucia for Christmas (the introduction of Level 4 lockdowns 2 weeks before we left put paid to that). That has now been re-scheduled to October this year (to co-incide with our wedding anniversary), and right now it does seem like we should be able to travel, albeit with testing before and after, masks for the entire journey, and getting pet-sitter in for Reaver and Lily. I was supposed to be heading to Spain at the end of September for a delayed training camp, however the organiser (and my coach) had a horrific racing crash in June (open bone break of the arm), and he won;t be riding up mountains for a new months yet. I swapped that time off for taking all the Mondays in August off, allowing me to get in some volume training for LE-JOG...but I'd definitely have preferred to be in Spain!

The future...

The last couple of years have introduced a lot of change, and generally we've been rolling with it. Having home-working stauts does offer up some freedoms about location, though we are handly slumming it where we are right now. The mortgage is not up for renewal for a couple more years, so there is plenty of time to think about that. Otherwise it's really about trying to work out what will be possible in 2022, and then setting up some plans for that. I'd like to get back into racing properly, though also considering getting my velodrome accreditation and racing at Palmer Park (which is a shedload easier to get to that Hillingdon!)


You've had a cracking year, to be fair. Reaver, homeworking and now Land's End to John O'Groats - you lunatic (it's not a race). So glad you and Gill got onto homeworking, it's an intelligent thing to do as companies that are inflexible with just lose the good people.

Land's End to John O'Groats will be harder because it's all up hill.

brainwipe's picture

So the cycling thing is done. 9 days (plus a 50km jolly around the toe of Cornwall the day before) to make about 1,000 miles of cycling in 10 days. Generally speaking it went well...some bullet-point notes;

  • I am a lot more robust than 11 years ago - I finished RAB in 2010 running on painkillers, with some really nasty fascia binding on the quads that had to be released each day. I didn't get any muscular or soft-tissue issues this time...the only "medical" issue was a bit of saddle sore caused by the wetter conditions we faced in Scotland. That was self-treatable, though I did also take some painkillers on the last day so that I didn't have to worry about shifting positions. I did a lot of riding to Power. I have a powermeter on my bike, and I "know my numbers". So long as I don't spend too long in the red (Zone 4, or about 280-290w for me), and keep long efforts to 240w and below in theory my legs won't degrade that much, so long as I fuel and hydrate. That seemed to work in the most part, with little drop-off across the 9 days.
  • I'm probably faster - hard to be fully quantitative here, as it was a different route, different conditions etc. I'd say te route overall was hillier, but the most extreme hills of 2010 were not there (Asterton Bank near Church Stretton, Kirkstone Pass in the Lakes). In 2010 my average daily pace was 26-28km/h, nearly always working as part of a team. In 2021 pace was 27-34km/h...far more variability in the days, but also faster...on half the days I was mainly solo as well, which can have a big impact on pace, especially on the flatter days (though on those days I tended to ride in a group). From looking at the results, I was 3rd on chip time out of ~1,000 starters (and about ~700 finishers). I was not the 3rd fastest on the road, however I was able to ride for longer periods without pitstops and re-fuelling, so made up loads of time by simply keeping going every day.
  • I remember why it took me a decade to do it again - it's really draining, and takes up a huge chunk of your life for a while. I reached my "I think I'd like to be done" day on day 7...I hadn't gotten much sleep due to a generator on the campsite being upwind of my tent (noisy blighter), and I rode the day on fumes really...once I got to the next camp I crawled into my tent and slept for 4 hours before eating.
  • I did much better with photos - my big regret of RAB 2010 was hardly taking any photos. This was partly as the technology at the time was pretty weak..GoPro had only released their first camera, and Smartphones were a very new concept. This time I had a couple of decent spec cameras with me, though I only ended up using one. The Insta360 Go 2 is probably the best action camera I've ever used. It doesn't have the same horse-power as a GoPro (my backup camera was a GoPro Black 7), but in terms of usability and flexibility it's outstanding. I did a combination of from-hand shooting, and mounted on my chest (as Rob will refer to it as Chin-Cam) via a magnetic backplate. It has the same tricks as a full 360' camera (horizon levelling, digital stabilisation) and captures a 2500x2500 resolution image that you can then post-process to a separate resolution. The phone software then has an auto-edit mode that lets you pick all the shots you did that day, and form a quick edit that you can upload. I was doing this daily on my own Facebook page, and also to the RAB Rider forum, and got some great feedback.

    I'm now rendering off all the footage I took (260+ clips over 10 laptop is whirring even as I type this), and I'll use those in an NLE for a more curated memory video. I had a second phone with me that had an SD card slot (which is pretty rare for most phones these days), and was using that as my storage.

    If you are looking for a blog/vlog camera that you can chuck in a pocket without worrying about damaging it, it's the camera I'd recommend. Insta360's software is much better than GoPro's as well

    I did drop the camera on one day, shattering the (replaceable) lens protector. I managed to get an Amazon delivery to a field near Edinburgh for a replacement (actually a CPL Filter, which made some of the shooting easier...for example, shooting a sunrise without glare).

babychaos's picture

Got the final "Memories" video sorted for LEJOG. Bit longer than I had planned (the original plan was ~1½ - 2 minutes per day, but the Scotland footage needed longer clips), but worked out how to do the YouTube Chapterisation, so been able to chunk it down into separate days that way.

Very happy with how it's come out...even looking through the footage a week later there were bits I'd already forgotten (such as the Culloden Viaduct near Inverness, and crossing the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh...also the Wye Valley roads were lovely back on day 3). The sounds was basically unusable, with a lot of road and wind noise...most of what I said could be boiled down to "ohh, lovely A roads", "fuck me this is steep" (Cothelstone on Day 2 mainly, though also the last bit of Glenshee on Day 7 and the Lecht on Day 8) and "I'm exhausted" (most days after Day 6).

In 2010 I had a total of 18 photos from Day 3 and Day 7 only, so this is a vast, vast improvement.

babychaos's picture

It's a wonderful video, I enjoyed the lot. The hills of Scotland seem particularly harsh given that you've just done 7 days of 100 miles. You don't look particularly shattered by the end tbh. Tired yes, but not completely broken.

I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to undertake this kind of thing, so thanks for the video!

The Insta360 Go 2 is also favoured by drone pilots as it weights fuck all and has great image stabilisation without too much buggering about with settings.

brainwipe's picture

I can also confirm it's fairly robust, having dropped it (and the case) and only the lens protector broke. The feature that was probably the most use (though I didn't realise it at the time) is the horizon-levelling. I've seen a video another chap attempted with a similar theme (well, he started copying me...originally he just had it forward-mounted on his handlebars) using a GoPro, and the shots are all over the place batman-fight style. I honestly can't see myself buying another GoPro...they still have the best hardware on paper, but in terms of usability and functionality they are really lacking, and (right now) I don't need 4k/8k footage (apart from anything else it's a complete bitch to edit). This was done at 2k/50, and I'm really impressed with the quality, even in lower light conditions. I sort of regret getting the GoPro Max 2, and probably should have jumped ship and gotten an Insta360 camera back then.

This was the first time I'd used the new laptop for video editing, and it made life a lot easier. I had ~300 clips, and I always generate 480p proxies for NLE work (which makes scrubbing super-smooth). The 5900HX and 3070 chewed through that, and the final render was nearly done at real-time (video is 25 mins long, render was 28 minutes). Very happy with that, and I'd be confident I could take on smaller projects away from home (maybe not something with 500+clips, having the big screen really helped with that).

I think it would be worse the other way...Scotlands hills are big, but Cornwall (Day 1) was just relentless. On fresh legs it wasn't that bad, but ~3,000m of climbing over 170km WITHOUT a significant single climb is brutal. Day 7 hurt mainly as I hadn't slept...but it was less climbing (2,500m) over a longer distance (185km), so in theroy an easier day. The end of Day 7 was my low point (if the sound was on, there is a bit at the end where I just say "I'm dead"), but a 4-hour power-nap in the tent, and double portions for dinner got me back to the land of the living.

Multi-day stuff like this is mental as much as anything else, and getting into routine. Pedalling a bike is not that hard, and the target pace for completion (nominally 20km/h, though realistically you want to be 23-24km/h+) is not hard, but recovery, fuelling and sleep are key. I needed to eat and digest about 5,000 calories a day...sounds "fun", but without some adaptation you'll probaby encounter gut issues. 5am wake-up times were killer for me personally, and took me a few days to sort myself out to get riding for 6:30-7am.

babychaos's picture

20km/h is quick for ordinary people. If I do 30 minutes on my GT3 at 20km/h then that's bloody hard work, even without going up Alpine Street! I think my best times are about 20km/h.

5,000 calories a day sounds immense. Is that mostly solids or are you on those gel-power-nutrient-things?

brainwipe's picture

A proper road bike would probably add 10-20% to your speed, as would clip-in would be a big improvement to power delivery and aerodynamics. Most people were also riding something significantly lighter than your bike (mine is fairly lean at 7.2kg, but most would have been on 9-10kg machines), and that would.make climbs easier. Cycling is definitely a sport where money can buy speed! The suggested training plan for novices was 10 months long, and built you up to back-to-back century rides about a.month before. I didn't use the plan (as I do way more than it suggested), but did add in some longer rides in July and August to practice pacing.

In the saddle it was a combo of solids (cereal bars) and gels, with about 75% solids, and probably 1000-1200 calories. Off the bike it was mainly normal food, but a focus on protein for repair (target being 2g per kilo of body weight), then carbs and fats.

babychaos's picture

Some great footage there the insta360 go seemed like a great concept for a super light stabilized camera leveraging the wide angle rather than a mechanical gimble which adds weight complexity and power use not viable for something tiny like that. I had the first generation one but it tended to overheat after recording for any length of time making it useless for anything but a few brief clips hopefully they've ironed that out in the new version.

Evilmatt's picture

The case controller thing with screen and buttons seems to be a major improvement on the go2 over go1 where the only way to control go1 on the fly without digging out the phone waiting for it to connect etc was to press it and hold it for x seconds then single double or triple tap with no method to know what mode it was in or if it was even recording.

Evilmatt's picture

I must admit I'd completely missed the original, but the specs and features were not great. The Go 2 is a great set of compromises in my opinion.

I tended to use it in 2 my hand it was in the case, using the controls on the case, and magnetically fixed to the pendant. When it was on me I had it set so the on-camera button stopped/started recording (the button presses are configurable, so I had it set to record in Pro mode), and used the vibrations to confirm it was working. I didn't use it with the case as a remote, but I could definitely see that being useful if you had the camera mounted somewhere away from you (like Robs drone scenario, for example).

It definitely got hot, but never froze. I think the longest clip was about 5 minutes. It actually got hotter transferring clips to the phone, but that was probably on part due to it also being plugged in. I'd absolutely love a microSD card expansion slot in the case, which would make the small memory size more manageable. My tactic was to have a spare phone with me with a microSD card slot, and backup the raw footage to that (which was a bit hacky, but I was then able to load it into the Windows app for bulk processing when I got home). Realistically I doubt I'll be away from a laptop for 10 days again. The raw footage was about 80Gb, so could (just) have squeezed it onto my Pixel 4a, but didn't want to risk that.

The other thing I really like is the app. The navigation is a little counter-intuitive, but the auto-edit feature worked excellently...I often had a "days highlight" video done once I'd had my first post-rode cuppa, and being able to pick the aspect ratio post-film is super good...I was doing dirty, dirty portrait video (with extra chin) for the highlights, but was able to reuse the same footage in 16:9 wide-screen for the final edit, while still having some framing options. Software is a place GoPro are really weak on...for a long time they assumed you'd be using Adobe Premiere for post, and had minimal tools outside of plugins.

babychaos's picture

I was mostly using the Go1 for the hyperlapse mode which I guess does necessitate much longer recordings and maybe exacerbates the overheating. I found it was ideal for a sort of timelapse build cam for lego or some such you could whack it in the little stand sit it on the table next to what you were working on and it would capture it in timelapse from even quite close thanks to the wide-angle and not take up a bunch of space.

Unfortunately you could get one recording out of it before it would overheat and then it would basically be unusable for a significant amount of time (I got bored waiting and just stopped using it I think). It also doesn't really indicate when it had stopped recording so I would continue with whatever I was doing thinking it was recording it all when it had shut itself off.

I guess maybe my use case doesn't fit the design, I'd like to use it for recording timelapses of walks or drives or some such like I have done with their actual 360 cameras before but in a more compact manner but the go1 just can't manage to record long enough for something like that and seems more designed for quick clips here and there rather than extended recording.

Maybe the go2 will be more capable in that regard. I'll have to look into it next time I'm taking a trip.

Their software is pretty good the ability to take the footage and retarget it reformat the view based on your preferences shift the angles change the projection was very powerful on their 360 cameras allowing for a lot of creative shots. I was mostly using the vr180 mode to do car timelapse stuff but being able to tweak it was pretty useful.

Evilmatt's picture

I think your use-case is legit...I mean, thats the purpose of Hyperlapse modes! It does sound like the gen-1 hardware was not great. I have no idea what the Go2 battery life is for Hypelapse (I have a 10 minute timer hard-wired into me now for the Pro-Video mode out of the case). I've also not used HDR shooting...partly as I don't really have the screens to view it, and partly as it's limited to 24fps (which is too low for cycling, you get a lot of blurring and loss of detail, especially when shooting sideways).

The case and comedy tripod ability would probably work for a build-cam, as the battery life is way more (150 minutes in Pro mode, so probably more in Hyperlapse), but again I've not had it running for more than a few minutes. On the occasions I've done something like that I've used a GoPro plugged into mains, and benefitted from the bigger sensor, or even fed the HDMI output of it into OBS via a Capture Card. I think for static/mounted scenarios the GoPro hardware and format is better there...the Go2 wins out when you're on the move, and doing more dynamic angles.

babychaos's picture

It's a great bit of kit - once my savings increase a touch and I have drones that can carry it, I'll look into it. Time is currently my enemy.

brainwipe's picture