Along the Cut

Because of the nature of my job, I am able to work from home most of the time but occasionally I have to go to site. Today was one of those times.

I caught the bus to Birmingham city centre and walk the best part of a mile from the bus stop to work. Luckily, I was able to do most of this commute along the canal passing through Digbeth ‘Tunnel’ en route.

I had packed and was travelling light with my new pack. I had the two half pint (250ml) bottles on the front and a soft shell jacket, First Aid Kit and emergency toilet kit and my sarnies in the back.

A little under a mile after getting off the bus I was getting in to work.

After I had done what I had gone into work to do, I donned my walking gear and set off for home, initially by heading for the Grand Union Canal. After crossing the Coventry Road (A45), for the first time, I was on the cut and after ascending a few locks was walking past Vincent Timber. There is always the scent of newly cut wood drifting across the canal at this spot.

I continued along the Grand Union for a little over two miles leaving the water behind (for now) at Kings Road. At the end of Kings Road, I had to wait for the lights to re-cross the Coventry Road. A short walk past mostly closed shops brought me to the River Cole. I took the parallel footpath and started on what would be six miles alongside the river.

The going was good with the occasional puddle that was easily circumnavigated.

Just before the path went under the railway at Stetchform, the going went from good to soft which required a bit of puddle jumping, not always 100% effective !

On the other side of the railway, what is normally a small pool was now a much larger lake. This got me slightly concerned as an upcoming stretch often floods after a downpour.

After negotiating the, still under re-construction, roundabout on Stetchford Road / Stetchford Lane, I regained the footpath which is now named Cole Valley Way. As feared, parts of this next stretch were under water and were, all but one, walked around. The one that wasn’t, resulted in me getting my feet rather damp.

The approach to Cole Hall Lane was again blocked but it was also about a foot deep. “Sod that!” I though and back tracked so that I could circumvent this section by walking along the road.

From Cole Hall Lane, the path was generally above water or easily got around.

Ay Babbs Mill, Kingshurst, I left the Cole behind and after a stint through Yorks Wood completed my walk on pavements arriving home having clocked up another eleven miles.

The new pack worked well with my drinks readily accessible. The only negative was that as the bag is a snug fit, it did result in a sweaty back.


TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   11.9 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   194.9 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   805.1 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   2083.1 miles

Another One Bites the Dust

  A Coventry Way    

Conducting my periodic check of what’s on and what’s not, I can’t say that I was totally surprised to see that one of my favourite events had been postponed for yet another year. Of course, I’m talking about the forty mile A Coventry Way. The event has been pushed back to April 3rd 2021. Luckily, my entry will be carried over (again) so I don’t have to worry about missing the entry deadline as I am wont to do.

  New York, New York    

For my walk today, I chose to walk on the old treadmill. I’m still not too happy with Kinomap so went for the ol’ faithful Zwift. I picked New York as a virtual destination and went for it.

The footpad worked quite well today, recording what I reckon to be around the correct speed. I managed four miles with a short cool down in a tad over the hour.


TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   4.1 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   178.96 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   821.04 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   2099.04 miles

  Stuff    

I’ve splashed out on some bits and pieces including a small rucksack / vest for my shorter walks. It’s only has a 5.5 litre capacity but has a couple of bottle pockets on the front. Should be big enough for a light jacket and a few essentials.

Should arrive Thursday so I’ll test drive it over the weekend.


Sport Walk

Relaxing at home, about an hour before bedtime, it was too late to start watching a ‘proper’ programme on TV so turned to Youtube.

Feeling like a little inspiration, I searched for ultra walking and came across a video entitled “Move Fast – How to walk Faster”. Six minutes long so I could squeeze that in before bed.

I watched the video which made perfect sense then went in search of more of the same.

Sport Walk is an organisation that is promoting long distance walking along the lines on Ultra Running as opposed to the likes of the LDWA. I have always considered myself an ultra runner who just happens to walk so this resonates with me.

I’ve got a few more videos and articles to read on this site so I daresay I’ll have more to say on this subject.

Fordbridge

Out with the dogs before breakfast. The snow was still present but after a cold night, there was also a lot of ice around. We just managed a walk unto Green Lane and back with each before returning home for breakfast.

After work (working from Home) I changed into my walking attire and went to meet the other half from work. Directly, it’s just over a mile but I needed to get some miles in so walked to Bacons End (stopping to withdraw some cash from the ATM at the garage) before descending to The Centurion pub (remember pubs?). I walked along beside the River Cole, skirting Kingshurst before making my way the the Chester Road to Castle Bromwich.

I arrived about ten minutes before Sue was due to finish after covering five miles bringing the daily total up to 7.6 miles.

Winter Wonderland 2

I was up early as usual – the dogs won’t let me lie in !

It was cold outside but with a forecast of some snow, later, I held off taking the dogs out.

At around nine o’clock the first few flakes started falling and an hour later it looked like this …

Just before noon, after the dogs had totally messed up the even layer of snow in the garden, I decided it was time for proper walks.

Misty was first, today. Once past the sledders by the bus stop, I was able to let Misty off the lead and she absolutely loved running around in the snow.

One thing that I did discover is that throwing snowballs for dogs is most amusing. It goes like this – make a snowball; show the dog; throw the snowball; laugh as the dog tries to find the snowball in a mass of snow !

As we neared Arran Way, Misty went back onto her lead until we reached Smiths Wood where she was able to have another free run.

We returned home where I changed dogs, before repeating the exercise. Gabby’s walk turned into a bit of a Cani-cross event with a few short stretches of run as can be seen from the Strava trace – note the peaks on the speed (blue) and cadence (purple).

Both dogs love the snow, even at home they kept opening the back door just so that they could run around in the white stuff.


TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   4.15 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   167.27 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   832.73 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   2110.73 miles

Winter Wonderland

I had to nip into work so decided to chance going in on the bus so that I could walk home through some different scenery.

It had snowed the previous day and after a cold night the snow, underfoot, had turned decidedly crispy. I walked to the bus stop and the bus duly arrived. Luckily it was fairly empty (social distancing) and luckily not too many more got on.

I alighted near to Aston University and made my way down Cardigan Street towards the canal which was then followed, through Digbeth ‘tunnel’, past the Banana Warehouse and as far as Gt. Barr Street.

From Gt. Barr Street it was but a short stroll to work.

After a few hours at work, I got changed and started the walk home.

I had planned to follow the Digeth Branch to Salford Junction then take the Birmingham Fazeley to the Tyburn house, Castle Bromwich and home.

I crunched my way along the canal, descending a number of locks (it’s all downhill) and after passing Star City turned right heading towards Tamworth.

All was going well and the sun even popped out now and again.

By the time I was approaching The Tyburn House, I was feeling great and decided to continue along the canal a little further.

Half a mile further along, I left the canal, crossed over the Lichfield Road (A38) and made my way around the perimeter of Castle Vale.

One thing I didn’t expect to see was a Shetland pony. I discovered some stables and looking beyond the little pony spotted some full sized horses in a field at the rear. I continued around ‘The Vale’ finally emerging opposite B&Q.

After going over the River Tame and under the M6, I ascended the, in places slippery, hill to St. Mary and St. Margaret Church. I went around the houses a bit through Castle Bromwich arriving home after a very pleasant eleven and a half mile walk. I was wearing my newish HOKA One One ATR shoes which provided good grip in the snow and ice.

After a bit of a tidy up, I took the dogs out for a walk around the block. It was still rather icy and hence slippery which the dogs, Misty especially, did not like.

After a clean up, I entered my mileages into the various trackers and discovered that my total for the year has now crept up to 163 miles. I should, barring accidents, clock up over two hundred miles by the end of the first month and well on target for completing Route 66 – only 2,155 miles to go!

Looking at the map of my progress across the US, I see that I am just about to pass the intriguingly names Kickapoo Creek Country Park.

Impressively, looking at a map of the whole route, it is now obvious that I have moved as there is definite space between Chicago and my marker.


TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   13.88 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   163.1 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   836.9 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   2114.9 miles

Kinomap

I’ve been looking at treadmills recently as the old machine is past it’s best and came across a likely candidate – the Sportstech F10. Looking at the specs I saw that the machine could be used with a mobile app called Kinomap.

Kinomap is similar to Zwift in that the scenery moves past at a rate dictated by the speed of the treadmill – no more reliance on my footpad. I assume that the the machine will also work with Zwift which will take the Bluetooth data from the treadmill.

Anyway, back to Kinomap. I downloaded the app onto my iPhone and started it. First job is to pair it with your exercise equipment whether that’s a turbo trainer, rowing machine or treadmill, amongst others. It will also pair with any BT or ANT+ device so I paired it with my Zwift Runpod.

Once setup, you need to select the route of which there are loads. Some are specific for either cycling, running (or walking) and even some across water for those rowers. The app runs on a mobile device, iOS or Android but it can be cast to a chrome cast, Apple TV or in my case a web browser. I connected my laptop to the big TV (see earlier post) started the (old) treadmill and hit start.

The main difference between Kinomap and Zwift is that the graphics on Kinomap are real videos and not computer generated. There are also no other competitors’ avatars whizzing past as you walk along.

The route I chose was a 2.6 miles walk through the desert near Moab, Utah (see right – without all the HUD).

The display shows loads of data, including speed, elapsed time, distance remaining. There’s a map and n incline indicator. Fancy treadmills will automatically adjust their incline.

The walk went well and I had soon clocked up another 2.6 miles to add to the four miles that I did earlier with the doggies.


TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   6.8 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   130.0 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   870 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   2148 miles

Double Virtual

After slightly elevated mileages for the puppies over the past few days, I went easy on them this morning and only dragged them out for just over a mile each.

In the afternoon, once work was finished, and not wanting to venture outside again, I dragged out the treadmill and laptop for another virtual session.

I had been telling my mother about Zwift and told her which cities could be explored. When I got to Innsbruck, she said “Oh, do Innsbruck – I went there once and it was very nice!”

Before starting the Zwift app proper, I ran another app called Zwift Prefs which allows you to set certain parameters that cannot be set from the main app, most notably picking the city. The main app only gives you three choices.

I could walk any distance but I noticed that there was a ready made route of 5.5 miles called Innsbruckring which seemed ideal. I picked that route and dialled in a target distance of 5.5 miles; started the treadmill and app and I was away.

Not being one of the regular selection of places, Innsbruck was very quiet but I was still passed by a lot of cyclists. The miles ticked away as I looked at the buildings and statues of this Tyrollean city. I even noticed a funicular railway around mile five.

So here’s the setup.

Treadmill – ancient with a slipping belt and non too accurate readout.

Laptop (on top of fishtank) running Zwift connected, via HDMI, to

Big TV – even bigger when only a couple of feet away.

Around the lightbulb is a ceiling fan blowing oodles of cool air down on me.

Also, I have a Zwift Runpod on one of my shoes which sends speed and cadence info to the Zwift app on the laptop.

So, I did a couple of miles this morning with the dogs and another five and a half in a virtual Innsbruck. These miles go towards my virtual walk along Route 66. Basically I’m doing a virtual walk inside a virtual walk hence this post’s title of Double Virtual. Could just as well have called it Matrix – The Walk.


TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   7.8 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   124.0 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   876 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   2154 miles

Dog Walk Bonus

Some kind soul posted this on to one of my Facebook groups today …

I checked the source and it part of the gov.uk website.

I was pondering this a couple of days back and wondering if I could, legally at least, walk the dogs and then go off on my own for MY exercise. Well, according to Her Majesty’s Government – yes it is.

Now let me justify my position. I usually walk the dogs between 06:00 and 08:00 when the streets are still generally deserted – so quiet that I can usually let the dogs run free for part of the walk, at least.

When I go off walkies, it’s often straight after my dog walks or in an evening. The streets are again quiet and my walks often take me into the countryside where I see very few people. I keep my distance when meeting others out for their constitutionals. All in all, I reckon I am at little risk of giving or receiving a dose of the dreaded virus.

Ton Up

Fifteenth of January and my annual total has just tipped over the hundred mile mark. One tenth of my #Walk 1000 miles challenge and one hundred miles nearer to the Pacific Coast.

On the right, is a Street View snap of where I am on my virtual Route 66 walk. The nearby Interstate I55 takes most of the traffic these days leaving the old Route66 to fall into some disrepair – looks like a typical UK road with all the cracks and pot-holes.

I was out early this morning doing the usual two miles per dog, pre-breakfast, walks. I may wheel out the treadmill later for another three or four miles – perhaps.

Tomorrow, I have twenty two miles pencilled in. I could do the Water Orton loop with each dog then continue on my own for another sixteen, perhaps following a route something like this …

… keeping local. At no time would I be more than three miles from home (as the proverbial crow flies).


TOTALS for 2021
TODAY’S MILEAGE   4.0 miles
ANNUAL MILEAGE   103.0 miles
#WALK 1000 REMAINING   897 miles
ROUTE 66 REMAINING   2175 miles