Aggregate 100

I took part in the Aggregate100 last weekend. A 100km gravel enduro race comprising four timed stages of varying (but I’m assured atypically long) distances, each over the hilly and at times pretty technical off-road course on the bridleways, singletracks and forest roads of the North York Moors. I punctured on the first stage (on a climb!) and then again a further four times in the section between the 1st and 2nd stages (which, whilst incredibly annoying, wasn’t timed, so was actually a good chance to recover some legs). After that I actually had to go back to the HQ at Cropton for more tubes and patches (I’d run out of both, borrowed patches from passing riders and then run out of those).

After puncturing on the first stage I’d assumed my goal of a finish in mid table mediocrity was out of the window. I went as hard as I could on the remaining stages, because that’s what you do, isn’t it? I was completely spent at the end. Even after the 16km steady ride back to the finish from the end of the last stage, I couldn’t talk. I laid on the grass for a good while.

I punctured again between the HQ and my car. 10 metres across a grass camping field. That made it six for the day!

The organisers did a rough calculation of the aggregate stage times on the day so they could present trophies and I was pleased that my VC York club-mate and good friend, Pete Hook, who I’d ridden the non-timed sections with, had taken the win by a whopping 15 minutes to the next rider. He’s a class rider and consistently disappeared up the track in front of me when we hit the timed stages, so it wasn’t a surprise at all. He flew!

This morning I saw the overall results sheet. It appears that the second placed rider, 15 minutes behind Pete, was me!

Second! I’ve come second in a bike race before, but that was the tequila race at Rapha Supercross. That was still a race but you could take a shortcut on each lap if you took a shot and let them squirt tequila into your mouth from a bidon. I stood on the podium after that night-time race with my face burning from the cheap liquor. The Aggregate100 feels more like an actual race!

This was my first experience of a race in the enduro format and I have to say, there’s a lot I like about it. Pete H has had more experience, having done a lot of MTB enduro. He knew the score and made sure we took it very steady between the stages. There’s no point in blowing your efforts on parts of the course that don’t count. As a result of all the punctures and the steady riding, we actually finished the event near the back of the field. We were on the course for 7.5 hours, but only the timed sections counted. As a consequence, until the results are published I had no idea how well or how poorly anyone had done.

I’m under no illusions that I’m a top-three rider in events, or even top-ten, or that I will be in future events. There were a lot of people missing from that race who who might have finished between me and Pete, but you can only race those who turn up, eh? Go as hard as you can and hope for the best.

I’m beaming a bit this morning. Thanks to Matt and Emma and everyone else involved for organising a fantastic event. I’ll be back next year (with tubeless tyres).

If you want to discuss, I'm @peterjlambert

Loose Lego bricks on the floor

I’m currently somewhere near the middle of a huge project I’ve undertaken at work. A total refactor of the web app’s CSS. Over the 6 or so years we’ve been working on the product, the CSS codebase has grown bigger and messier as we’ve added features and redesigned certain aspects. When features have been built on a tight deadline, refactoring old CSS to fix specificity clashes has been pretty low on the list of priorities, and so the number and length of selectors has grown.

More recently, with feature production now stabilised, I figured it would be a good idea and a pretty good time to refactor EVERYTHING. Doing this by halves would just not get the job done. I needed to get everything fixed at once. Rid the source of specificity clashes and tidy up old code. Everything would be solid and modular again and much easier to deal with when new features are added in the future.

At this point in the process I’m starting to feel a little over-faced by the massive task still ahead of me.

My son has a lot of Lego. He’s always been into Lego. He started with Duplo, then the basic Lego sets, then City, Ninjago and later the Star Wars franchised Lego sets. He has a lot of them. I daren’t think how much it would all add up to. He’s an only-child. He may be a little spoiled.

In the last couple of years though, as he approaches his teenage years, he’s been getting more into the Xbox and his Lego collection has been ignored and neglected. Over that time the models he (and I) painstakingly put together have been dismantled; either partially or fully, deliberately or accidentally. Pieces have been borrowed from one to patch another. Eventually, the majority have ended up as a box full of loose bricks in various shades of battleship grey.

Lego instruction manuals

This Summer, during the school holidays, my son is also undertaking a mammoth project. Finally bored of the Xbox, he’s decided to revisit his Star Wars Lego. He started with his Clone Turbo Tank – one of the biggest of his models and one that when first built, he abandoned after a day and I spent the next two days completing it myself. Of course, originally we had neat little bags with all the correct pieces in. This time we have two huge plastic boxes containing all the dark grey remains of his various dismantled fighters, vehicles, and bases.

So far, he’s sticking with it. He’s finished the Turbo Tank and is onto the next model. Diligently sifting through the ever-shrinking pile of loose bricks to find the specific piece he needs for a certain instruction. He knows that it’s going to be a lot of work and at times it’s mind-numbing (as well as knee and fingertip numbing), but in the end he’ll have a room full of perfectly put-together Lego models and, I imagine, a bunch of loose bricks that he’ll decide he didn’t need anyway.

Whilst it’s a fun task to start, and a daunting task in the middle, at the end he’ll have created something that is as it should be. All his fighters and bases and vehicles will be whole and independent. One won’t rely on any pieces borrowed or shared with another.

Then he’ll promise himself that he’ll never have to go through that again.

If you want to discuss, I'm @peterjlambert

I’ve been thinking recently about my ‘web presence’. I don’t blog anymore. I haven’t in years. I’d like to get back into it but I suffer from the same problem I always have – whilst I enjoy writing, I don’t really feel like I have anything to write about. I’ve never been good at writing about industry stuff (this may be something to do with what industry people seem to refer to as ‘imposter syndrome) and I just don’t feel inclined to write about personal stuff. The latest incarnation of my blog still exists here at Chuff.it, although it is a little broken and I lost a lot of my older articles in a database mishap about 8 years ago..

I don’t have a ‘portfolio’. I stripped that back at http://petelambert.com to just a page of chatty text a few years ago. I’ve been working happily at Logikcull since 2010 and I’m not courting alternative employment or freelance projects. I don’t really have anything to show for what I do at Logikcull because, whilst I’m proud of it, it’s all behind a wall, so there’s nothing I can portfoliate anyway.

I’m obviously still on Twitter but I hardly ever post now. I retweet stuff that I like and I chat with friends on there, but I don’t really feel like I’m contributing much to the general feed of tweets. It’s not the same Twitter I enjoyed in the first few years of its incarnation. I put a bit more effort into Instagram, which is a fun way to share my photographs, but doesn’t do what Flickr used to. I disabled my Facebook account a few weeks before the last election.

I’ve started occasionally submitting my photos to Unsplash (http://unsplash.com/@peterjlambert) and that’s quite nice, but feels quite anonymous. That might be what I like about it. I kind of like seeing the stats on how many times my photos have been downloaded. It feels a lot more rewarding than a ❤️ on Instagram.

My place on the web has changed, the web has changed and I’ve changed. I used to be a contributor, but now I feel like I’m very firmly in the consumer column. It feels a little lazy and negligent.

Maybe I want to change back. If I do, I need to get excited about something first. I can’t see a comeback coming in the guise of writing about web design. That’s a door I’ve been banging on for over a decade and I just can’t get into it. I don’t think it’d be personal stuff. I’m a little wary of oversharing on the web these days. Maybe I should write about road cycling, cyclocross or mountain biking. Maybe snowboarding (I’m going on my first snowboarding trip next Spring). Maybe something different. Maybe writing’s not the answer.

Maybe there is no answer and I should just settle lazily into my happy life as a consumer of content diligently produced by those more engaged than I.

If you want to discuss, I'm @peterjlambert

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