Click here to download the ride entry form for printing.
There are two versions of the incident report form:
Online tracking allows any CTC member to use a smartphone or tablet to record their position on this web site while they ride.
Any member can display the latest positions of one or more riders. Further, members can issue non-members a guest password (which should not be made public) so they can follow riders too.
Online tracking has a number of uses. For example, it can be used by:
During testing, John Rosbottom's wife, Wendy, called him on his mobile to ask him why he'd taken a wrong turn!
It could also be used for a variety of purposes unrelated to cycling; for example my daughter in Horwich could track my progress up the motorways when Margaret and I visit.
There are a number of similar services available on the web - and they have their benefits. Our service is:
This note explains how to use the service to record your tracks online, and how to monitor positions using the web site.
Click any of the following to see more information...
Equipment you need
You will need a portable device with capabilities to:
Typically you will use a 'smart' phone or a tablet with phone capabilities. You don't need to be able to see the display to use the service so it needn't be fixed to your handlebars. Instead, you can put it in a back pocket, for example.
Services you need
Internet access. There are two kinds of access:
Normally, you don't have to do anything to continue to use the same service abroad. Instead, your provider probably has a roaming arrangement with other providers which take over as you leave the country. Roaming charges can involve a premium, however, so regular travellers sometimes use a SIM card bought in the country to take advantage of local rates.
You also need access to the members' area of our web site (only to log positions - you can invite non-members to see positions, see below). If you don't have access and you are a member of Cycling UK, click here to find out how to get access.
Software you need
You need an app that can:
Note that if all you want to do is keep a record of where you've been on a ride, you don't need online tracking. Online tracking is not designed to keep a detailed record of your track - that's best done on your phone.
The software we've been using to test the online tracking software is OsmAnd. It has a number of benefits:
Note, however, that although there is an Apple IOS version of OsmAnd, at the time of writing it cannot interface with online tracking. We are looking for a suitable IOS alternative - can you help?
We'll update this section as we learn of other apps that can also use our online tracking service.
Update your web site profile
At the foot of your profile page you will see options to enter two passwords. The first is the password you will need to connect your mobile device to our online tracking service. The second is a guest password you can issue to non-members so they can monitor positions online without having to go to the members' area first.
Set up your software
We will write separate articles to describe how to set up individual software products. We expect that compatible products will allow you to specify a web address using tokens that get replaced by data when logging each point.
In OsmAnd (the app we used to test the tracking service), the web address for online tracking looks like this:
We expect that all apps that can interface to online tracking services will allow you to create a similar web address. If, however, your app supplies data in a different way (for example, using a date and time rather than a time stamp) it's not hard for us to adapt our software to fit.
NB do not start the web address with "http" - use "https" instead.
Click here to see how to install OsmAnd to an Android device and connect it to our online tracking service.
It's not uncommon to hear people concerned that using GPS flattens batteries. And it's possible, that's the case with some phones. However, my (limited) experience with modern phones is that using GPS has very little effect on battery drain. I can easily record a day's ride and still have my battery at 80% plus - and that is using one of the cheapest phones.
Battery capacities tend to go down over time, so the effect might be more pronounced with an older phone. It shouldn't, however, be a major issue for a modern or new one.
Logging your position over the internet will use power and therefore increase battery drain. Again, however, I've not seen a significant drain additional to the power lost by having your phone switched on and listening for phone calls.
We have designed the online tracking service to use very small amounts of data to minimise any cost to you.
If you pay a monthly tariff to use your device, that will almost certainly include an amount of free internet access. If you are frugal with internet use, it's likely you will not have to pay any extra.
If you pay for usage 'as you go' you will pay for using the online tracking service. In my experience, logging my position every 5 minutes on a day ride uses significantly less than a megabyte of data. Your additional cost should therefore be less than 10p per ride.
Note, however, that when you allow your phone to access the internet over mobile data (i.e. using the phone signal rather than wifi) several apps will want to start using it as well as the online tracking service. The amounts of data used by these apps will be considerable and can quickly drain your monthly allowance or force you into an early PAYG top-up. To address this problem, you need to take charge of how apps use the internet. I intend to produce an article about that shortly.
On the other hand, if you have a large monthly allowance and already have your phone connected to the internet while you are out and about, you will not notice the additional data used by the online tracking service.
You monitor positions using a web browser like the one you are using now. To do that go to the online tracking page. It's available via the 'Routes' menu in the menu bar at the top of our pages.
The rest of this section explains how to use the monitoring page. Click any of the following to see more information. Click any of the screen shots to see a larger version...
If you are logged in to the members' area of the site, you can start using the page straightaway.
If you are not logged in, you will see the following:
If you have member access to the site, click the log in link to log in the usual way. You are returned to the tracking page when you log in.
If you have been given guest access to the tracking page, enter the user name of the person who invited you and the guest password you were given, then click 'Submit' to get access to the tracking page.
The map display
If you go to the monitoring page and someone is tracking their position, you will see a map like this:
Below the map, you will see a key that explains the icons shown on the map:
|A position recorded in the first half of the track|
|A stop recorded in the first half of the track|
|A position recorded in the second half of the track|
|A stop recorded in the second half of the track|
|The rider's latest position|
You can click any icon to find out more information.
A stop is defined as two consecutive positions that are less than 50 metres apart.
We use different colours for each half of the track to make it easier to see what's happening if a ride returns along a similar route to the outgoing leg.
The map is a Google map and you can use the usual methods to zoom into a portion of the map. You can also switch between map and satellite views. When you click 'Update the display' the page shows the latest recorded positions using the same map settings so you don't have to keep zooming in to the map.
If you want to redraw the map so you can see all the recorded positions for the day, use the 'Change date' button to re-select 'today'.
Showing multiple riders
If more than one rider is recording their position on a given day, you see a selector like this:
If you want to see the progress of just one rider, click their name in the 'Show selected riders' section and click 'Update the display'.
On some days there will be multiple riders on the road following different routes - possibly in different countries! To show a group of riders following the same route, pick one of them (you can see people's names by clicking on a map icon), click their name in the 'Show riders with' section and click 'Update the display'. The map shows all the riders whose latest position is within 5km of the last position of the person you selected. The check boxes in the 'Show selected riders' selection are updated to show the riders you selected. That allows you to add or remove riders to fine tune your selection.
Note that following multiple riders on the same ride is likely to give you a better indication of progress than following a single rider - especially in places where phone coverage is poor.
Update the map
Click 'Update the display' to redraw the map. The page retains the map's position, zoom level and map type (i.e. map or satellite).
Refreshing the page will lose all your selections and will show 'today's' tracks on a map display. That's unlikely to be what you want.
To keep your rider selections but redraw the map so all logged positions are visible, use the 'Change date' button to reselect the same date...
Select a different date
By default, the tracking page shows you positions logged 'today'.
If you want to see positions recorded for a previous day, click 'Change date' to see a date selector. Simply click the date you want to see.
Selecting a date automatically repositions the display and zoom level to show all the positions recorded on the given day. It also sets the map type to 'map'.
We are very lucky to have the South Downs National Park on our doorstep. It's a great place to cycle with fantastic views and the scenery seems to change mile-by-mile and week-by-week.
But there's no getting away from it, cycling in the SDNP means tackling hills.
This note describes some approaches to getting up hills on a bike - and some suggestions for what to do if you can't. Click any of these headings to find out more...
Strength and fitness
Of course, you need a certain level of strength and fitness to do hills. But you don't need to be super-human. Anyone with average strength and fitness can manage most of the hills we do.
Other issues such as technique and a positive attitude are usually more important.
Having said that, cycling up a hill requires a particular set of muscles to work together. Collectively we call them 'hill legs'. When you start doing hills you're bound to get some stiffness as your legs adjust to the new demands you're putting on them. The only way to get 'hill legs', however, is to do hills.
As you do hills, your strength and fitness will improve. It's not always possible to tell that's happening. Your first indication might come when you realise you're taking less time to recover for the next hill.
Don't believe your eyes
You might have experienced the foreshortening effect already. As you approach a hill it looks impossibly steep. When you get there, it seems to magically level out into an easy climb. Where did it go?
It's an optical illusion, you really can't believe your eyes.
The effect is magnified if you're going downhill into a valley looking at the hill the other side. In this situation, hills can appear almost vertical.
Obviously, you can't ignore the fact that there's a hill coming, but don't let it defeat you before you even get there. Don't trust your eyes.
False summits can really get you down. You think you're approaching the top, the road is levelling out, but then you realise you've been unable to see there's another section of hill to come. If you're on a hill you don't know, try asking others cycling with you if there are false summits - it's much better to find out before you get to them.
Because of the foreshortening effect and false summits, some people find it unhelpful to look up the hill while they are on it. You need to be aware of what's in front of you, but try looking at the road four or five metres in front and resist looking up until you know you're at the top.
You might also encounter a 'false flat': a stretch of road that looks flat, but isn't. The only solution is to be aware of the possibility and be prepared to drop to lower gears if you encounter it.
Get to know your gears
Some people can manage to get up hills on a single gear, but that's not normal!
You're going to need to use your gears, so it's worth getting to know a bit about them:
To change to a large chain ring, your shifter pulls a cable to drag the chain across. To return to a smaller ring, your shifter releases the tension in the cable and a spring pulls the chain back. You cannot therefore control the tension used to change to a smaller ring. If you are cycling up a hill, the chain will be straining against the chain ring and the spring won't be strong enough to move it. You try to change to a lower gear and nothing happens! As you approach a hill, you should change to a smaller chain ring before you get to it.
When you are on a hill you'll find it easier to change to a lower gear at the back than at the front. Even so, you still need to overcome tension in the chain. So:
If you drive a car with manual gear change, you'll already be familiar with some of these techniques.
Slow and steady
When faced with a hill, it's natural to try to take a run at it and get to the top as quick as possible. For some hills that will work but for long or steep ones that's exactly the wrong approach. You'll find either your legs will tire quickly or you will run out of puff. Either way, you'll have to stop part way up.
Going up slowly in a low gear takes patience, but it's easier. Take it slow from the start of the hill, if you wait until you feel the effects before slowing down, it will be too late; you're already running out of oomph.
... unless it's a dip
If you're riding down into a dip with a hill the other side, use all the speed you've built up on the downhill to give you momentum to help you up the other side.
Bear in mind, though, that you might need to switch quickly between a high gear on the downhill to a low gear going back up. To change gear while you are coasting, you have to turn your pedals - that's just how they work. If you don't turn your pedals, the gears won't change and you'll get a nasty crunch when you push down hard.
Here's a thought. It's can be easier to do a difficult hill that you don't know, than one you do.
Surely it should be easier to do a familiar hill because you know what to expect? But that's the point. Psychology plays an important part in getting up hills:
So treat all hills as if you were approaching them for the first time. You might have had a bad experience last time, but that could be for a number of reasons. We all have off days (or weeks, or months). Maybe you're a bit stronger this time, perhaps you've improved your techniques. Set bad experiences aside, and see what you can manage this time.
Get out of the saddle
This technique involves straightening your legs so you're standing on the pedals and then transferring your weight on to the highest pedal forcing it down then switching your weight to the other pedal; then repeat.
It allows you to put more power into the pedals, but is a lot more tiring than normal pedalling.
It's standard practice for professional riders, and some of our members do it a lot when climbing hills. Most of us, however, reserve the technique for:
Watch your weight
The lighter you are, the easier the hills. Have a look at what you are carrying. Do you really need all of it? Individual items might not weigh much, but taken together you could be adding quite a bit of unnecessary baggage.
Take care if you have large panniers. They invite you to add more and more stuff that you might need, but never do.
The heaviest single component can be the most difficult to deal with: the one on the saddle. Going out for regular rides with us can help but you won't lose much weight through exercise alone. You need to get in control of what you eat too. In fact, exercise can increase your weight since muscle weighs more than fat.
Food, air and water
For your muscles to work they need fuel, and oxygen to burn it. Your body needs water to function.
If your body wants to breathe or pant, there's a reason. It needs extra oxygen. So give it what it needs. Breathe through your mouth and deeply.
The longer and hillier the ride, the more fuel and water you'll need. So:
If you sweat, you lose more than water. You also lose important elements, notably sodium and potassium. Most meals will replenish sodium and potassium levels but you might find it helpful to take supplements between times. For example, a bag of crisps at elevenses or tea.
Supplements in your water bottle can also be helpful. There are three basic types:
As you're cycling, you might feel a little light-headed and strange. If you do, let the rest of the group know and stop. You might be about to 'bonk'. Your energy levels are so low, your body simply packs up and you faint. Eat and drink something. Take advice from more experienced riders. Please don't ignore the symptoms if you get them, fainting on a bike can be extremely dangerous.
If you can't make it
You either run out of puff, or your legs won't work for you.
Stop safely. Be aware of traffic around you. Give riders behind you warning you might be stopping so they have time to get round you. Ideally you want to stop where you can get off the road.
Let someone know you've stopped. The back marker should be aware of you, but it's worth making sure. The ride will wait for you (and anyone else that's struggling). They will normally wait at the top of the hill, but might be a bit further on if there's no safe place to stop.
Having stopped, you have two choices:
If the hill is steep, it can be difficult to restart, so pushing might be the only option. Otherwise, you might be surprised how quickly your body recovers when you try option 2. It can be less tiring overall than option 1 - and you will have the satisfaction of completing the hill on your bike.
Don't worry what the rest of the group is thinking. Everyone has had to push up hills. They know what it's like. Try not to think of pushing as a failure; instead think of it as preparation for the next hill.
Look after your gears and chain
To ensure gear changes are as smooth as possible:
Cables will stretch over time in which case you'll find it increasingly difficult to engage the gear you want. Your bike will have tension adjusters either as part of the derailleur, the gear shifter, or both. They allow you to adjust cable tension without needing tools. To make larger corrections you'll need a screwdriver or an allen key.
We say that chains 'stretch' too. In fact they get longer because of wear in the chain. If your chain starts slipping on your sprockets it has stretched too far - but by then it's too late. You've almost certainly damaged the sprockets and they'll need replacing too. Some of us carry chain gauges for checking chain stretch, and any decent bike shop will be happy to check your chain for you. Try to check it every couple of months and - as it gets close to needing replacement - more frequently.
In any case, sprockets and chain rings wear over time and will need to be replaced. There's an argument for replacing your sprockets with every new chain - you can keep using your chain until you detect chain slip, making it last longer. Some of us allow up to three chain changes before changing the sprockets - but you need to keep a close eye on chain stretch, and change the chain as soon as it's failing the gauge. The most disciplined of us use three chains in rotation, switching every few weeks - that maximises the life of the chains and the sprockets, but needs dedication!
Replacing chains, sprockets, chain rings and cables needs some specialist tools and expertise, but it's not particularly difficult. There are loads of 'how-to' guides on the internet. If you're lucky, you'll find a video of someone working with the same model of gears as you have.
If you don't want to DIY, find a bike shop you can trust. Ask around to see which one others can recommend.
Consider toe clips and cleats
If you cycle with flat pedals and shoes, you can press down on the pedals for less than half of each rotation. When a pedal is at six-o-clock, your foot is just a passenger until your other foot rotates the pedal back up to twelve-o-clock.
Toe clips attach to the front of your pedal and surround the front part of your foot. They give you some scope to pull a pedal up as well as push it down. They also allow you to put more oomph into the pedal as it moves forwards. When you stop, you have to take your foot out of the toe clip by pulling back.
Toe clips come with straps that allow you to tighten the clip around your foot while you cycle, and quick releases to allow you to extricate your foot when you stop. That's more efficient, but it's practical only for race tracks.
Clipless pedals - or 'cleats' - require both special pedals and shoes. A cleat on the bottom of the shoe engages with the pedal so the two are stuck together. As well as pushing down on the pedal, cleats allow you to pull up, push forward and pull back. You get to use more of your leg muscles and share the work between them. Cleats also ensure your foot is always in the optimum position on the pedal.
You get out of a cleat by twisting your heel sideways, away from the bike. That's not a natural movement and - until you're used to them - stopping can be a problem. It's normal for people to go over sideways - rather comically - a few times at first. Fortunately you are moving very slowly when it happens. It quickly becomes second nature and many argue that clipless pedals are easier and safer than toe clips.
There are two main types of clipless pedal:
Most of our riders that use cleats use the SPD style as they're more practical for our type of riding.
Note that it's important to fit cleats correctly. Knee joints work in just one plane. They cannot twist like your wrists. If you fit cleats at the wrong angle you can damage your knees. A high degree of float is important when you're starting out with cleats. Use an SPD cleat or a grey/yellow race cleat.
You can use an allen key to reduce the pressure needed to unclip a cleat. When starting out, set this to its lowest tension to make it as easy as possible to get out when you need to.
Pimp your bike
In the past, bike manufacturers seem to have designed their bikes for people riding fast on the flat. The lowest gears just aren't low enough for normal people doing our more difficult hills. That seems to be changing. As a result, more bikes are being sold with sensible gears and with options to replace components to give you lower gears.
If you want to lower your gears, the simplest way is to replace your cassette at the back with one that has more teeth in its largest sprocket. Your bike and derailleur will have a maximum sprocket size and range of sprockets (smallest to largest). You might, for example, be allowed to go from 25 teeth to 28. It doesn't sound a lot, but it will definitely make a difference. The manufacturer of your gear changers will have a web page that tells you the limits. A bike shop will also be able to advise you.
You can get an even larger sprocket at the back by either:
You can also get lower gear ratios by:
But, unless you are prepared to experiment, you should get professional advice before taking any of those steps.
If your bike has hub gears, your options are limited because you can't change the gears inside the hub.
We hope the above is some help. Please ask around the next time you are on a ride if you have questions or get in touch via the web site. But remember, three cyclists can mean four opinions!
If you are considering becoming a ride leader, there is plenty of support and training available to you.
The emails get sent - honest. But several people claim they don't get them, or that they get them intermittently.
There's nothing special or different about the Portsmouth CTC emails. In fact, when people manage to track them down, they usually find emails from other people have gone astray too.
This note will hopefully help you find out where they are going and how to make sure they arrive OK.
If you keep an electronic calendar on a device attached to the Internet, the chances are it understands the iCalendar standard (also known as iCal or ICS). In which case you can add selected Portsmouth CTC events into your calendar automatically.
The following sections provide general instructions for adding our events, plus specific instructions for some common calendar tools.
iCalendar is a standard way to represent the entries in a calendar. It is used to export and import calendar entries. Our site provides a list of events (for example: all Wednesday and Saturday rides) as a web page in the iCalendar format. Calendar programs that understand the iCalendar standard and that have an internet connection can automatically read the web page and add the entries to your calendar. Any changes on the web site will automatically update your calendar too.
General method for adding our events to your calendar
First, you will need a link that gets the events you are interested in from our web site. If you want all the events, the link is simply:
Note that the leading http:// is important. Your calendar program might not understand the link without it.
To get just the events that interest you, you need to add a 'c' parameter listing all the event categories you are interested in separated by a comma.
The next section is an iCalendar link generator. It allows you to decide which events you want to include in your calendar and generates a link to match.
You need to plug the link into your calendar program. There will usually be two methods: internet import and file (.ics) import. You want the internet option.
Most calendar programs will allow you to:
There are more specific instructions for some popular calendar programs below. If your calendar isn't in the list, or if you find our instructions hard to follow, try searching the internet for your calendar's name and "ical import".
iCalendar feed link generator
Select one or more event types to create a link to a feed containing just the events you selected.
Select at least one type of event
Issues you might encounter
Although widely used, the iCalendar standard is relatively crude. It uses simple text only. So, for example, entries cannot contain bullet points or different coloured text. That means we cannot reproduce the text of our event descriptions exactly as you see them in the web page. On occasion, it might be difficult to read the description.
Similarly some special characters might appear as question marks or odd sequences of symbols.
Some calendar programs - such as Windows Outlook - allow you to get the latest version of a calendar whenever you like. Others - such as Google Calendar - automatically retrieve calendar details on their own schedule and you cannot force an update. You should learn how your your program gets updates if you want to rely on seeing the latest version (just before joining a ride, for example). To be sure of seeing the latest version, you might need to go to the Portsmouth CTC web site.
Please let Andy Henderson know of issues you encounter. Screenshots usually help explain the problem you are seeing.
Add our events to Google Calendar
You can see instructions in the Google Calendar help text at:
Note that you will need to log in to Google before you start.
The 'iCalendar address' it refers to is a link to the Portsmouth CTC web site. See 'iCalendar feed link generator' above for the link you should use.
You can add as many calendars as you want so, for example, you could create one for each different type of event.
To show Portsmouth CTC events alongside your own events, or to hide them, click the square box to the left of the calendar name shown under 'Other calendars' in the left hand pane of the Calendar page.
You cannot force Google Calendar to update the calendar. Instead, it has its own schedule and automatically updates the calendar every few hours, or so. If you are about to join a ride and want to see the latest information, you should go straight to the Portsmouth CTC web site and not rely on Google Calendar.
Add our events to Android Calendar
You can add our events to the calendar held in your Android smartphone or tablet.
First, you need to:
Your Portsmouth CTC event calendar(s) will appear automatically.
You can then show Portsmouth CTC events either as a stand-alone calendar or combined with other calendars in your Google account.
Note that for your calendar to be up-to-date:
If you are about to join a ride and want to see the latest information, you should go straight to the Portsmouth CTC web site and not rely on the Android Calendar.
Add our events to Windows Live Mail
To add an internet calendar to Windows Live Mail, you first need to subscribe to a Windows Live account. You then add the internet calendar to your account on the web. The calendar then gets copied down to your PC so you can see the calendar there. Alternatively, you can see the calendar online as a web page.
You can find out more about Windows Live accounts and calendars here.
This page explains how to add an internet calendar to your Windows Live account and show it in Windows Live Mail. It explains how to add a Google calendar using its iCalendar interface, but adding our events uses exactly the same process:
You can add as many calendars as you want so, for example, you could create one for each different type of event.
Add our events to Windows Outlook
The first procedure on this page explains how to add a Google calendar using its iCalendar interface, but adding our events uses exactly the same process:
You can add as many calendars as you want so, for example, you could create one for each different type of event.
I found it useful to arrange to update the calendar on demand, rather than have it update automatically. That way I can be sure I am always seeing the most up-to-date information. To do the same, you need to create two send/receive groups: one for email and one for calendars:
Add our events to an iPhone
A simple method is to use the link generator above to select the rides you are interested in and send an email to your iPhone containing the link. Double tap the link on your iPhone and follow the instructions to incorporate it into your calendar.
Alternatively, the following steps worked for Keith Wileman - there might be variations for different versions of IOS. Having generated a suitable link using the generator above, go to your iPhone, make sure it is connected to the internet and:
If you have any issues, please let Andy Henderson know. He might be able to help. Also let Andy know if you can help with instructions and screenshots for other calendar applications.
We are particularly interested in articles that have a lasting value. That way this web site can provide a useful reference to both old and new members.
If you'd like to publish an article direct on the web site, just let Andy Henderson know and he'll set you up.
Alternatively, just send your article to Andy as an email, Word document, or similar and he'll do the rest for you.
Articles can contain pictures, photos, videos, graphs - just about anything you like.
Click here to find out how to create and submit an article through this web site.