And now for something completely different!

Today is Ada Lovelace Day!  You may be asking, “Who is Ada Lovelace, why does she have her own day, and why is Missus writing about her?”

Ada Lovelace is regarded as the world’s first computer programmer – working in conjunction Charles Babbage, the famous mathematician and engineer who is credited as being the ‘Father of the Computer’, she created an encoded algorithm which is now considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.  She also predicted that one day these computing machines could do far more than crunch numbers, including creating music.   Windows 7?  Her idea, probably.  

As a lifelong geek and technophile, I’ve always found her influence on modern computer sciences to be pretty impressive.  The influence of her work has been both practical and inspirational.   Apart from helping to light the way for those who followed, she had a programming language named after her, the British Computer Society hands out a medal with her name on it, and Microsoft have used her portrait on their product authenticity hologram stickers.   It’s a fairly impressive way to leave your mark on the world for anybody, but particularly impressive when you remember she was a woman who lived in the early to mid 19th century, prematurely popping her clogs at the age of 37.  Given that women today still often have to struggle against preconceived notions that they’re somehow limited when it comes to science and maths because they possess a set of ovaries, her achievements are incredible.

So once a year, people in tech like to remind the world that not only are there more notable faces in the history of science, technology  and engineering than just Bill Gates, some of them are actually women.  As a woman in technology myself, I feel obliged to honour the cause.  So, who to write about?

It’s a tough one for me, because I’ve worked with so many amazing talented women – 3d artists, programmers, etc.  Obviously I’ve worked with equally talented men, but they generally haven’t been treated like some sort of freakish aberration for their interests and careers by friends, family and colleagues!  So in a bold move (and in a vague attempt to keep this post in keeping with the rest of the blog) I give you…

Roxy Lo!


 Roxy Lo is an industrial engineer, and in a portfolio that includes products ranging from Camelbaks to diving lights there is also….the Ibis Mojo.    Without her, there would be one less bike in our living room.  Roxy Lo, we salute you!

Two years!

Mr Toast pointed out today that my blog is two years old as of yesterday!  Hooray!  You now may commence eating cake to celebrate!

Strange factoids over the past two years:

* When I started this blog, I couldn’t even ride all of the Follow the Dog in one go.  Riding all of it was a major achievement.

* I used to push up all of the hills

* I’ve never actually attempted Evil Root Number Two since I came off it in May 2008 -my first (hopefully not last) attempt

* I’ve had both my knees operated on

* I’ve got married

*  Despite demoing a huge number of mountain bikes, I’ve only ever owned two – the Trekadee, which is now with a new owner, and The Professor

* Despite demoing a huge number of mountain bikes, Mr Toast doesn’t actually own anything he’s ever demoed.   Current bike count stands at three – the Meta, the Mojo and the Stumpjumper.  We’ve said goodbye to the Enduro, the FSR XC and the Zaskar (RIP).  The BeOne frame lives in the shed

21/03/10: Eat your greens

It was the Bike Radar Demo Day at Cannock Chase today.  Unfortunately, there’d been a bit of confusion in the booking system – originally attendees were supposed to book online, then after a fair few weeks those booked bikes were cancelled, and there was a hullabaloo!  I decided to forgo the delights of the Demo Day and just take the trusty Professor to the trails.  Being rather short of stature, I know that bikes suitable for my height are in somewhat short supply, and I just wanted a good ride, rather than 25 minutes here and there with loads of waiting in between.

Unfortunately the Demo Day put a bit of a dampner on my ride.  The first couple of sections of FtD had been marked as the demo loop, so it was a lot busier than usual.  This meant a lot of disruption – having to pull over for faster riders, but also being held up by slower riders, who had a disconcerting habit of stopping abruptly on small climbs, and abandoning their bikes in the middle of the trail whilst snacking.  There was also a noticable increase in the amount of litter on the first couple of sections – it was enough to make me a little bit Royston Vasey!  “This is a local trail for local riders, there’s nothing for you here!”  Then I realised I was being a bit of an elitist prick, so carried on doing my thing.

My ‘thing’ involved successfully negotiating the exit of two again.  At least, it would have done if a Cairne terrier hadn’t decided to run right in front of my wheel and stood fast, barking at me.  I put my feet out on the rocks of either side, and ended up gingerly mincing around the slightly cross pooch.

I got to the top of the hill towards eight, and there was a huge group of people.  I didn’t much fancy doing eight when it was so busy, so I carried straight on towards nine and onwards.  My performance was a bit lacking compared to last week, a combination of feeling a bit rough and the trail being a bit muddy.  I have to admit, I’m not a fan of mud, it saps me of both speed and confidence.  I’d planned to hit the green/now blue route once I got to the start of 13, but I felt oddly drained.  I finished the rest of FtD without incident, with the exception of the odd skitty moment involving mudslides into trees.  I went to the cafe for a cup of tea, feeling a bit queasy.

I’d still got plenty of time left before meeting up with Mr Toast (who was demoing bikes), so I generally pootled around, revisited the old 3 & 4 sections, and returned to the Demo Day area.  Mr Toast was riding around on a bizarre contraption:

Big wheeeels!

What’s that, I hear you ask? It’s a Lynskey Pro29.  29 inch wheels!  A rigid carbon fork!  A weird twisted frame!  Bizarrely the proportions actually look fairly normal on a 20.5″ frame.  Apparently the handlebars were also incredibly wide, which caught Mr Toast by surprise as he darted between two particularly close trees – catching the bars (and his knuckles!) on one tree, then being knocked into the next.  He stayed on, but marvelled that the only real accidents he’s had mountain biking have been on 29ers…

And yes, he still wants one!

I’m looking forward to the trails being a bit quieter next weekend – we’ve got friends coming down, and they’ll be sharing the delights of the Chase whilst they’re here.  I imagine these delights will possibly involve the two gents (Toast and Jaggy) attempting to kill each other via over-competitiveness.  And possibly Wacky Races style shenanigans…

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Most of Follow the Dog,,,

Highlights: Getting out riding, good dogs

Bad bits:  The trail being so busy, missing section 8

Post ride food snaffled: Tea, cake and a packet of crisps.  It was a very green meal…

Four of your five a day

Good dogs seen: Ah, now we get to the good stuff.  There was a creature that looked like a Daschund-Jack Russel-Papillion cross, that seemed to be blind in one eye and barking at everything.   A husky pup, who seemed to have a longing for flapjacks.  Numerous Jack Russells of pleasing proportions.  A Lakeland Terrier.

14/03/10: What did I tell you? 88 miles per hour!

What better way to celebrate Mothering Sunday than a nice bike ride?  Unfortunately my mother won’t ride a bike, and has slightly put her back out, so encouraged Mr Toast and I to go out biking instead of sitting in – we went out for a meal in the evening, so don’t feel too sorry for her!

Well,  Sunday’s ride was awesome!  Again, I felt a lot more confident on the bike, and was making a conscious effort not to constantly dab the brakes – a lot smoother.  Sunday’s minor successes included:

* Not screwing up the last berm approaching the exit of 2

* Riding the exit of 2…eventually

* Actually holding my speed on the turn before the last set of jumps on 8, taking them faster.  Still rubbish, but faster!

* Riding the exit of 8

* Overtaking people (it happens!)

* Not actually feeling ill at any point!

…and to top it all off, I managed to shave off yet another 15 minutes, down to 1 hour 15!  I might actually be back to my best in a couple of weeks.  I think the secret of my success was the massive Chinese meal I had the previous evening.  Mmm, delicious MSG!

I didn’t actually ride the exit to 2 first time around – I actually did it right at the end of the day.  I was going to (honest!), but there was a large collection of walkers standing in front of the exit, and I didn’t really fancy ploughing through them.  Managed it at the end, although there may have been the odd obscenity uttered.  I think that’s the first time I’ve ridden it since I smashed my ribs up on it…

After the ride and a stop off at the cafe, we decided to go and have a pootle around.  Originally we were just going to stick to the greens, but we ended up taking a look at what used to be sections 3 and 4.  They’ve actually held up remarkably well, and 3 in particular is bloody good fun to ride – I felt waves of nostalgia, as it was the first section I ever tackled.  I even rode over the log, which I remember being some sort of unsummountable obstacle.  Mr Toast named my technique ‘donkeying’ – I took it at speed, and had my weight slightly too forward, so it was a bit lacking in grace…

Not sure if we’re allowed to ride 3 – it’s not brashed, and there were a few riders on there, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean much.  Brash can be removed, and once one group are seen riding something, others think it’s OK.  It’s kind of the curse of new/repaired trails, I just hope it doesn’t apply to old sections.  I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough if it does…

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Follow the Dog

Highlights: Shaving 15 minutes off yesterday’s laptime! Getting more confidence back, riding stuff instead of crab walking over it

Bad bits:  None really!  Good ride all around!

Post ride food snaffled: Tea and a cake – some sort of rice crispie concotion.  Omnomnom!

Good dogs seen: Border collie pup, Lassie

13/03/10: Faster, hobbits! Faster!

Saturday was a bit grey and gloomy.  This, combined with us arriving quite late, meant that the Chase was rather quiet, leaving me to pootle around Follow the Dog in relative peace.

Saturday’s ride was rather similar to the previous week’s in many ways.  I felt incredibly ill by the end of section 12, culminating me throwing up yet again at section 14 – this time, right at the start.  As I stood there, marvelling at my rubbery pink gut litter, I had several things going through my head.  Like, “Maybe I should actually take a proper look at my diet – woman cannot bike on Weetabix and Scotch Egg alone”.  And “Christ, looks like my childhood nickname of ‘Flimsy Lynsey’ still applies”.

I didn’t ride the rocks at the end of section two.  I didn’t ride the exit of section 8.  But on the plus side, I actually rode 16 rather well, not even a slight bit of shakiness.  Well, not until I got to the cafe, where I felt I was going to pass out.

The trail pixies had been out again, this time changing the markers for the 19 mile green loop to blue ones.  This will bring it into line with the likes of Dalby, where the blue route is basically fireroads, but covering quite a distance.  Hopefully it’ll eventually be like Glentress, and include friendly blue-graded singletrack! 😛 It does have a couple of EXTREME features though – road crossings!

Blue…there’s that colour again!

Anyhoo, despite the slightly grim state I finished the ride in, it was overall rather successful.  I felt my confidence returning in handling the bike, and was a bit speedier, and trying for fewer and shorter stops.  As a result, I managed to shave fifteen minutes of last week’s rather lethargic time of 1 hour 45, down to 1 hour 30.

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Follow the Dog

Highlights: Shaving 15 minutes off last week’s laptime

Bad bits:  Throwing up at the start of 14.  Particularly when it adamantly stuck to my lower lip. It is impossible to detatch vomit from one’s personage elegantly. 🙁

Post ride food snaffled:  Just tea.  Felt a bit flimsy…again

Good dogs seen: Huskies – they seem to be the on-trend pooch for this season!  And the ubiquitous border collies.

07/03/10: We shall call it “Blue”

So, over the past few freezing weeks we’ve been hibernating a bit, going progressively more stir crazy.  On the plus side, I’ve finished Bayonetta, got most of the way though Darksiders, started Miles Edgeworth Ace Attorney Investigations, and managed to hit over 9000 dps on my WoW rogue.

On Sunday, however, the sky was a funny colour.  After much scratching of heads, I eventually recalled that this colour was ‘blue’, and that glowing yellowy orb was ‘the sun’.   We’d already decided on Friday that we’d go biking on Sunday ‘no matter what’, so the fact the weather was actually pleasant was a winner all around.

In addition to being the first time back on the bike in a fair few weeks, it was also my first Follow the Dog effort of the year – and the first time since November!  We got there about one, and the car park was rammed!

I was very shaky to begin with, and with it being very busy (ah, the sun!) I was having to pull over quite a lot.  Didn’t ride the end of two, as there were people about.  Six and seven were closed, so we (‘we’ being Mr Toast and myself, he decided to take it easy) pootled along the diversion to eight.  I was quite pleased I rode up the big hill, and mostly in the middle ring (mostly!).  I actually seemed to go at a fair pace – faster than it takes Lita Ford to belt through ‘Kiss Me Deadly’, anyway.  At the top of the hill we took a breather, and I took a couple of pictures with my new phone.  They’re now in widescreen!

 I remember you…from the mountains…


Fortunately by the time I got halfway around eight, I was feeling a lot more confident.  Rolled over the jumps in an even more half-arsed way than usual though, and didn’t ride the exit (there were people about!!!)

 9, 10, 11 and 12 all went fairly well, although I nearly came a cropper on the one section.  I was being approached from behind by a much faster rider,  and went to pull over to the left on a flattish bit – unfortunately Speedy Gonzales decided he was going to overtake on the left.  No harm no foul though, he missed me and sped along.

With it being alot drier than it has been over the past few months, I took section 13 a lot  faster than I have for a good while, and it felt great.  By this point though, my energy levels were seriously flagging.  Got partway around 14 before having to pull over for a group, and suddenly felt exceptionally flimsy.  And lo, I did vomiteth on section 14…before I even got to Ill Phil’s Hill.  Felt better, but started to feel increasingly spaced out over the remaining sections.  By the time I got to 16, I felt decidedly surreal – I was weaving through the trees with perfect control and balance….but incredibly slowly.  Then a faster rider (there were a lot of them…) approached me, and I pulled over.  Unfortunately I was on a hill, and could I get going again?  Could I hell.  Walked to a flatter bit, got back on the bike, realised I was actually right near the end.  Got to the cafe, narrowly avoided passing out in the queue.

Although this entry might make the ride sound hellish, I absolutely loved it.  Loved being outside, loved being back on the  bike again, loved marvelling that chihuahuas are actually the same species as huskies.  I need to get back into the swing of things again and reclaim my lost fitness, but hopefully that shouldn’t take too long!

Ride: Cannock Chase

Trail: Follow the Dog

Highlights: Sunshine!  Vitamin D!  Exercise!

Bad bits:  Realising that I’d let winter steal my confidence and fitness again

Post ride food snaffled: Tea.  Felt a bit flimsy.

Good dogs seen: Chihuahuas – do I like them or not?  I can’t quite decide.  Definitely like huskies, minature schnauzers and minature daschunds, all of which were present and accounted for.