Tag Archives: cycling

One way to liven up your running/ cycling during lockdown (beware, it’s addictive)

I really enjoy running but keeping all my running so localised during lockdown can be monotonous.

Here’s one answer: run every street, or as the founder called it, every single street.

The aim is simple – try and run all the streets in your local area, town or city. Instead of running you could skateboard or cycle the routes, or even walk them (but that would take a very long time). Continue reading One way to liven up your running/ cycling during lockdown (beware, it’s addictive)

Top 5 Sponsorship Innovations

Working for IMG for a few years, I got to learn a few things about sport sponsorship. It’s one thing to put a sponsor on a t-shirt, but there are also new ways. Here are my top 5 sponsorship activations:

  1. One of my favourite sports sponsorship deals is
    Team Sky Cycling Team Photo: Mogens Engelund
    Team Sky Cycling Team Photo: Mogens Engelund

    the Sky cycling team. My assumption is that Sky didn’t own the television rights to the Olympics in 2012, plus they could see Bradley Wiggins rising through the ranks of British Cycling. This meant he could potentially win the Tour de France and if the sponsorship was activated correctly, the two brands could become synonymous. By pumping more money into the cycling team than any other team was receiving, training and winning was a little easier. Also, some consider cycling as ‘the new golf‘, with popularity steadily increasing, so Sky have capitalised on this too, with events such as Sky Ride. Even the branding and design of the Sky team wear has been carefully thought about.

  2. Deutsche Telekom sponsor Bayern Munich. The German telco also want to prove their IT capabilities, so they use their own domain (which also really helps SEO) for the Bayern Munich website: www.fcbayern.telekom.de. In digital media terms it’s not only innovative, but subtle and effective.
  3. In 2008, a computer gamer and YouTube user, Levinator25, uploaded a video to YouTube of a glitch in the game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08. The video showed that if a ball landed in water in a specific place, Tiger Woods would stand on the water and still take the shot. EA responded with a video that is just brilliant, and more importantly, has been watched over 6.5 million times.
  4. Clever marketing from Morrisons for Andy Murray
    Clever marketing from Morrisons for Andy Murray

    When Andy Murray won Wimbledon, most of the UK came to a standstill. Some clever people at Morrisons had thought about this historic event a fortnight earlier when Wimbledon started, and converted the front of their Wimbledon store to read “Murriwins“. Interestingly, I think this was technically ‘ambush marketing‘, because I don’t think Morrisons was a sponsor. And Morrisons isn’t a sponsor of Wimbledon either.

  5. The last example isn’t a sports sponsorship but it’s very clever. And apparently no money changed hands either – quite what type of sponsorship this is categorised as, I have no idea! Nevertheless, for Nestle to sponsor the name of the next Android Operating System as ‘Kit Kat’ is ingenious. The Kit Kat brand can handle this – it’s a bit of fun, and the previous names of Android Operating Systems such as ‘Eclair’ and ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’. For Nestle to agree to this ‘deal’ it demonstrates how mainstream and ‘cool’ the technology has become. Did you know that Android Operating System names are in alphabetical order? This meant Kit Kat nicely slotted into place.

2012 favourites

For the last couple of years (2011 and 2010) I’ve listed my highlights of the previous year. Continuing the tradition, here are the highlights of 2012.

Favourite new gadget

iPlayer on the Xbox is simply superb. You don’t need the handset at all – just switch on the Xbox, use Kinect to fire up the iPlayer app and choose a programme, and then it’s voice activated from then on. It’s also the only way to watch programmes in HD on iPlayer.

Battlefield 3 has been my favourite game of the year so far, although I haven’t played the latest Call of Duty Black Ops 2 yet.

I installed Windows 8 at the start of the year on a Virtual PC and liked it a lot. Some of the staff at Endava are using it as their primary operating system. I haven’t done that yet because I haven’t had the time to spend a couple of days transferring everything from Windows 7 to 8 – backing up, restoring and all that.

However I have moved over to Office 2013. It’s super stable (I’m still using the Preview release)and there’s a few new features (such as opening and working in PDF documents) and it’s just ‘nicer’ to use.

Favourite book

I started reading Bear Grylls’ autobiography Mud, Sweat & Tears, and couldn’t put the thing down. I don’t read particularly quickly, but three days after picking it up I’d finished it. It’s one of those books where you wish it was longer. Bear has had a remarkable journey so far, and I share some of his values – the outdoors and Scouts being prime examples. Definitely worth a read.

Chris Hoy’s autobiography was also enjoyable. I received some feedback about last year’s favourites all relating to cycling, so I won’t go into any more detail about the book here!

Favourite iPhone app

Continuing the don’t-mention-cycling theme, Strava is my favourite app of the year. It’s brilliant. Strava records all your cycle journeys, split’s them into ‘segments’ such as a stretch of a single road, or even a mile long set of roads, and then compares all the cyclists (or runners) who have travelled that segment. It turns your commute and weekend rides into an addictive competition.

After Apple completely messed up maps, there was a void left with free, decent, mapping apps and after my summer holiday to Israel where I found M8, it’s my favourite app for car journeys.

Favourite award

I’m truly honoured to have won Sitecore Site of the Year for the second year running. This year’s award went to The Open, and I know how hard the team at Endava work on the site both year-round, and during the event. A huge well done to all the team.


Broken motorbikes, Sky TV and Office 2013


Now that the extended holiday season has finally finished, I thought I’d update everyone on what’s been going on recently, or more accurately, what I’ve been up to.

For one thing, I haven’t been cycling a lot recently. After our family summer holiday and really poor weather when we returned, I ended up not cycling for 4 weeks. I then got back on the bike and was shocked how much fitness I’d lost. Fortunately the fitness returned relatively, although my Strava times are still low. 

On the subject of cycling, last summer I read Lance Armstrong’s autobiography and loved every page. It was a truly inspirational book especially for anyone with cancer. I am torn between trying to understand that he allegedly cheated, and respecting him for the inspirational he has given so many cancer patients.

I’ve now installed Office 2013 on my work laptop and both home PCs. I’ve only encountered one major problem which was caused during an upgrade process where I clicked on a ‘Next’ button to begin installation. I clicked a couple more times and ended up installing Office three times on the same PC! Not only would none of the Office apps run any longer, I couldn’t uninstall the thing either. After some perseverance I managed to uninstall and reinstall Office again as I described in the Office 2013 forums.

This week I’ve been asked to review a social media report, which I’ll try to do on the weekend and post here. If there’s anything else you need me to review or want my opinion, please contact me, preferably by Twitter.

I had to be home quite early a couple of weeks ago, so I rode to work on my motorbike. I left home extra early and after filling up with petrol the battery had gone and I couldn’t restart the bike. The Green Flag motorcycle breakdown truck arrived in less than an hour and kept me regularly updated by text message – I thoroughly recommend them as a breakdown service.

A couple of days later they sent me a questionnaire to complete and return to them. I can’t remember the last time I completed a paper feedback form, and I don’t understand why they didn’t use an online tool to save costs – and I’d probably have filled it in by now rather than put it on the desk in the ‘to do’ piling tray.

And finally, last but by no means least, the Howard family have finally moved to Sky. It started when I contacted BT Vision, which I’ve defended and promoted to everyone who would listen over the last few years. The tipping point though was calling them to ask for the Sky Sports channels. The increased cost put the service on a par with Sky, which I didn’t mind, but I had to pay to upgrade my BT Vision box to the latest version to accept the Sky Sports channels. I didn’t even mind this, but I was annoyed that even the latest version of BT Vision doesn’t support HD channels. So I compared Sky, Virgin and BT packages. Virgin was about £30 a month more expensive than Sky for what we all wanted. Sky was £10 more than BT Vision if I included the HD channels, which we have gone for.

The most impressive thing about moving from BT Vision to Sky has been the speed and communication. It took three days from ordering online to an engineer coming to the house and installing Sky. The phone line and broadband are due to be switched over on Monday, ten working days after I’d ordered Sky. I keep receiving text messages of the latest status, and it’s all very impressive. Sky even contacted BT to let them know I was leaving. 

I’ll let you know how the phone and broadband transition goes – I already have the router waiting to be plugged in on Monday.


2011 favourites

Last year I wrote about my 2010 favourites and it was one of my most viewed posts of the year. So I thought I’d repeat it for 2011 too – and there’s a clear theme running through these favourites!

Favourite new gadget

One of the things I’ve really got involved with in 2011 has been cycling. It started in February when I was out of breath going up a local (yet very long and steep) hill, then got to June where a group of friends rode the BHF London to Brighton. I then started riding into work (13 miles, from North West London to the City). 

Three rear wheels later, thanks to the Holloway Road, I decided to go for a new bike. My £27 eBay investment (see below) had had its day after almost 1,800 miles between May and December. 


However my favourite gadget wasn’t the new bike, it was the base layer clothing. Base layers have been around for a few years and despite some literally freezing motorcycle journeys, I hadn’t used one until cycling this winter. They are fantastic and if you get cold easily, try wearing them under your clothes. There you go, a favourite gadget that doesn’t run out of batteries!

Favourite book

Without a doubt, it was Lance Armstrong’s autobiography. It’s a very easy read that is very emotional about someone’s battle with cancer, from denial through to winning the Tour de France afterwards. Thoroughly recommended.

In second place was Alan Sugar’s autobiography which was several times longer than Armstrong’s, but just as enjoyable. 

Favourite iPhone app

I’ve started using Barclays Boris bikes to travel around the City if the meeting is only one or two tube stops from the office. So the BarclaysBikes app is really handy, showing how many bikes and spaces are at a specific location. The AR (Augmented Reality) view is genuinely useful to find the nearest bike.

A close second is the updated LinkedIn app. The previous version never seemed to work without wifi. The latest app is excellent for looking up contacts after a meeting or even in the middle of a meeting when we’re discussing a mutual ex-colleague.

For outside work, the Geocaching app is excellent. It shows the three nearest geocaches and makes a spare hour disappear quicker than you can say “Where on earth would someone have hidden it around here?”

Favourite award

Without a doubt, I was extremely proud of the team to receive to a Sitecore Site of the Year award this year for our work with Cadbury.



A digital method to deal with illegal cyclists and motorists


Although the weather is extremely warm for autumn in London, it’s still getting dark earlier during the day and I’m now cycling home from work after the sun has set. I cannot believe how many cyclists don’t have lights on their bikes, and for some reason it really irritates me.

As a rough guess I thought about a quarter of all cyclists between the City of London and my home in North West London don’t have any lights. Tonight I counted them (there isn’t a lot more to do when cycling 13 miles):

  • 9 cyclists without lights from a total of 21 bikes
  • That’s over 40% of the cyclists I saw this evening didn’t have lights on when it was dark.

Unrelated (well it will be related later on) Mrs H and I hardly watch any television (it goes part way to explain how we have four children…) yet one of our favourite programmes is Road Wars, which follows a team of police officers who drive top end sports cars around at high speed pulling over offenders. And one of the most common offences is no insurance.

One in fifteen cars in the UK are uninsured. £30 of every premium goes towards a central organisation called MIB to cover drivers who can’t claim from an uninsured third party.

Back to my bicycle.

I started thinking that the Police should team up with a cycle retailer and stand at pretty much any junction in the City of London pulling over any cyclists without lights. Instead of fining the cyclists, they should make them pay £30 for a set of lights. That’s got to be better than an on the spot fine, because the outcome is better for the Police (less accidents) and the cyclist (less accidents!).

I have a similar solution for drivers with no car insurance. The Police should carry a laptop or a tablet computer and when they pull over an insured driver, instead of the £5,000 fine, penalty points and seizing the vehicle, they should offer an option for the driver to buy the insurance on the spot. Just hand over the laptop with a comparison engine and watch the driver buy a policy.

One of the tactics that uninsured drivers use is to buy insurance and cancel the policy or direct debit after the first month, so one of the terms of this on-the-spot-insurance-cover should be to pay for a full year.

For any other complex social problems, send me an email just before I get on the bike in the evening!

Tour de France on ITV Player

A huge congratulations to Mark Cavendish on winning the Tour de France’s green jersey. That’s the colour worn by the leader in the Tour’s points competition, which is the race’s most consistent high-finisher.

I watched more coverage of the Tour de France this year than ever before. It might be because I’ve been cycling more (myself) this year, but it’s probably got more to do with ITV’s superb coverage on TV and online.

The online coverage had a quick user registration process – literally just the email address. The benefit of the registration was twofold:

  1. Users could watch the coverage(!)
  2. Users received an email when coverage started the next day

The second advantage was very refreshing – literally receiving an email when “the Tour” started each day, and then I received notification when the entire Tour highlights was on TV and the Internet.

Websites that require registration for no apparent reason other than untargeted ‘spam’ email could learn a lot from ITV. The only piece of feedback to ITV for their online coverage is to increase the quality by increasing the video bitrate. I don’t mind the adverts because I understand they are paying for the content in the first place.


London to Brighton


Yesterday I cycled from London to Brighton for the British Heart Foundation’s annual ride. It’s really well organised (one of those rare events where you can’t think of any improvements) and until you’ve taken part yourself, you can’t describe what it’s like to be in a mass participation sport with the public cheering you on.

Some of the highlights:

  • Realising Ditchling Beacon isn’t as difficult as Highgate Hill (on my twice-a-week commute)
  • The ice cream at the top of Ditchling Beacon
  • The general banter amongst which started at 5am and finished at 5pm
  • The finishing straight in Brighton with everyone cheering
  • 43mph on the downhill after Ditchling Beacon
  • Overtaking cyclists on £2,000 machines on my £27 bike from eBay!

We are still taking sponsorship for the British Heart Foundation thanks to some of the guys in our group of twelve (see below) who set it up.


Commuting on two wheels


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been cycling into work a couple of times a week. There are many reasons for cycling – fitness, the waistline and generally ‘just doing something different’.

I have never understood how other commuters can do the same journey, every single day, the same way. I’ve been lucky for the last few years because I generally go into work by motorbike. Motorcycling is a great way to commute – you spend time riding thinking about the riding, which clears your mind for an hour or so.

On average I typically spend one night a week out with colleagues or clients, and on those days I go into work by Tube. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and it helps ‘break the week up’ – i.e. doesn’t let the commute becomne monotonous.

I’ll be riding the London to Brighton again this year, so I’ve been cycling with a few friends [very, very] early on Sunday mornings since the start of the year, and decided to try cycling into work a couple of weeks ago. I really enjoyed it, to the point that I now cycle in twice a week, motorcycle twice, and Tube once.

The timings and costs are interesting:

  • The Tube – around 1 hour and 15 minutes door to door. Around £8 return.
  • Motorcycle – around 45 minutes door to door. £4 (just petrol).
  • Cycling – 1 hour door to door. Hard to quantify the cost.

I’ve been trying to work out why so many people in the creative and IT sector prefer two wheels – whether motorbike or bicycle – over the Tube. Maybe it’s the emptying-thoughts-whilst-commuting that I discussed above. Maybe it’s just a retro statement. Let me know if you have any thoughts.