atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 11:17pm on 13/09/2016
Cambridge now has a Clip n Climb! Ewx has reviewed this already, and I broadly agree with him, but a few notes for me…

It's a very relaxing way to introduce people to climbing. If you're going to a usual indoor wall, you either need to teach your beginners to belay, or you end up spending big chunks of time belaying people who can't belay you in return. Clip n Climb does what it says on the tin - auto belayers, so you don't need anyone competent on the ropes at all, that the staff clip you into.

Because of this, it's a bit relentless. I am clearly a lazy climber who is used to trying the hard bit, failing, hanging around on the rope and then having another go at the hard bit. This does not work on an autobelayer. You try to hang around, and you end up back on the ground. Also, it is so much quicker to just clip in than having to tie a figure 8, and you don't spend any time belaying, the amount of time you spend climbing in a hour is huge in comparison to usual indoor walls, and by half way through I was quite pumped.

It's also easy to end up a bit lonelier - at a usual wall, you're climbing in pairs, so someone is watching what you're doing and cheering you on. At CnC, you feel like you're wasting time if you're not climbing, so although I did some hanging around and watching, it was more 'getting on with my own thing'.

We were lucky - there were 7 people in our session, and their capacity is 30. So there was no queuing for anything, and there was always a huge range of different panels to choose from. I think if we'd been there with 28 small children climbing Slowly it would have been a lot less fun.

We were unlucky - it was swelteringly hot, and a lot of the routes are very plastic, which with no chalk means the major challenge is 'hmm, I am too sweaty for this hold to have any grip at all'

It is really quite good fun to go from being one of the worst climbers at Harlow to one of the two best climbers at CnC. I am a show off.

The staff were friendly without being pushy, and once they'd noticed we could climb, they were good at saying 'try this one, it's the hardest'.

Ewx said they'd let him wear climbing shoes, but the website says they don't let you, and they didn't let us. I am a bit too used to smearing and having my feet stay on the wall, smearing in trainers is not the same.

They have some lovely lovely gimmicky things that I really enjoyed having a go at climbing. These included:

- A racing wall, where you can time yourself, next to an identical racing wall, so you can have an actual race! Matthew won two times out of three. Including the time he climbed the colour that probably wasn't actually a route, and included an Epic Dyno. I managed 11 seconds, M managed 9. He's taller ;-)

- A spinning wall, with holds round a big circle that turned when you put weight on it, which was balancey, and technically interesting. I can climb it just on the holds on the spinning disks (there are some static holds on the sides), but I can't climb it just on the orange holds on the spinning disks. Yet ;-)

- A weird plant thing, which was actually just Difficult to climb. Matthew got to the top, but he was working pretty hard, and he couldn't do the top difficulty setting (I didn't even make the top)

- A see through wall, with the same holds on both sides in mirror, so you can climb by trying to copy exactly what the person on the other side is doing.

- The fake ice climbing wall, where you get little wooden pegs instead of ice axes. The dark blue route on the wall was made for someone both taller and less tired than me, and I still haven't gotten it.

- A big spiral, which for some reason I don't quite understand I really like climbing.

- A 'stairway to heaven', which would have been better if it had been included instead of another way to extort money from people, but was a very fun balancey step-from-post-to-post. I did it, feeling very wobbly (because you're on auto belay, the belay rope keeps winding in and can pull you off balance a bit) and then afterwards the chap said 'you know, the first time you do it you're allowed to use your hands'. I'm not sure that would have been easier though!

I feel like I tried most of it - by the end of the hour I'd climbed on every wall, gotten to the top of about 95% of them, and gotten to the top on the hardest difficulty on about 70% of them. So I'm not desperate to go back any time soon, but in another six months would very much enjoy going back for another play, I think.
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 08:56am on 26/05/2016
So, I nearly ran my first ultra marathon! I thought it was interesting, so I've written Too Much about it, because what's the point of a blog if you can't ramble and navel gaze sometimes?

Long rambles about the apocalypse race )
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 09:39pm on 01/12/2015
In 'things I noticed but that wikipedia noticed first'...

Celestial Globes! Really cool! They draw all the stars in the sky, so you can learn the constellations! Except... You always look at a globe from the outside. And you always look at the celestial sphere (in as much as it exists) from the inside. So celestial globe makers have a fundamental dilemma - put the stars in the right place on the globe, and have all the constellations look backwards, or flip the entirity of the heavens inside out, so the constellations look right, but the more you think about it the more confusing it gets. Oddly, we don't seem to have converged on a standard - here's a 'each constellation looks right, so the globe must be wrong' one, and here's a 'stars in the right place so everything looks backwards' one.

If you like constellations, you could do a lot worse than the Digital Gene Constellation app, which is basically just a jigsaw where you can amuse yourself putting the stars in the sky until your sky has all the stars in it, but is gently pleasing, and taught me enough about constellations to get to the point where I went 'hold on a minute, that celstial globe must be wrong, surely?'

Also, we live in an age where you can put armillary sphere into Amazon and get lots of hits. Maybe capitalism isn't all bad.
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 05:22pm on 17/10/2014
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 10:56pm on 24/11/2013
I have lots and lots of Things bouncing around in my head about Catching Fire. I want to write an intelligent, coherant review, but if I try to do that, I'll just fail to do anything. So have as many bullet points as I can think of before I go to bed.

Cut for spoilers )
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 04:07pm on 22/11/2013
Octonauts have been achieved, by, err, ordering 30 Octonauts. Ain't maths wonderful
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 12:01pm on 19/11/2013
A-level probability question, to bring joy to children at Christmas:

Tesco have an offer on Octonauts figures at the moment (that's true, so if you were hoping to buy some, now you know). The parents of an adorable 2 year old want 5 out of the 8 characters (he owns 3 already). However, the figures are not listed separately, just as 'one supplied.'

How many should they order into store to have a good chance (say >90%) of getting the 5 they want out of the random selection that Tescos send? There's no issue with taking any surplus back, so they could order vast quantities... but that would seem a little absurd.

Cut in case you're bored already )
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 12:26am on 20/10/2013
Right, I finally got my 50th park run! So I get a 50 parkrun t-shirt! And so I wander once more into the frustrating, unclear and gendered world of clothing sizes!

I have listed every t-shirt that I at least vaguely consider might be the right one to order in this poll, and All The Information I Can Find Anywhere about what that sizing means. (yes, that's sarcastic, there doesn't appear to be any)

Poll! Have an opinion on a dull thing! :-) )
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 05:46pm on 09/09/2013
Anyone got any recommendations / disrecommendations for cleaners in Cambridge? Looking for a big one day end-of-tenancy clean...
atreic: (Earth)
posted by [personal profile] atreic at 11:02pm on 02/09/2013
So, what do we know at the finish line?

I enjoy these sort of things. It was a hugely fun day.

My good luck with the weather this summer continues to hold. It was a pretty much perfect day for it - sunny, bright blue skies, if anything a tiny bit too hot, but that was much better than the alternative, and made the 'run into this giant pile of icy mud' bits seem very appealing

Everything is more fun if you take someone with an excellent camera along. Particularly if they're good company.

Map reading by committee doesn't really work. If you're driving the car, know where you're going, or delegate this to a navigator in advance, and make sure you trust them.

On the other hand, if you take the back route, and end up with a left turn right in front of a giant queue of traffic waiting to turn right into the carpark, you can never ever ever criticise your navigators at all, because it was Absolutely Priceless.

Some obstacles are genuinely good fun. This list includes, but is not limited to: climbing over walls, crawling under walls, climbing over nets, leaping over haybails, walking through deep muddy water, running along narrow twisting trails up and down hills, leaping over logs, leaping through fire.

Some obstacles give me a huge sense of smug achievement. This list is probably headed by Climbing the Very High Rope and ringing a bell at the top, but doing the monkey bars gives it a good run for its money (I have never been able to do monkey bars, and wanted to ever since I was small)

I am still a wuss, and obstacles involving any upper body strength are hard work. This includes carrying boxes of ammo, carrying buckets of water, dragging tires, and lifting buckets of concrete into the air by pulling on a rope. The worst obstacle on the whole thing was the walk-along-parallel-bars-on-your-hands-with-your-feet-off-the-ground one, which I failed completely at. [And we'd _practised_ it on the trim trail, and I knew I couldn't do it, and I could have practiced, but didn't, so really, my failure was my own fault]

There was a lot of trust involved in the system. I failed at the walk-along-parallel-bars one, but quite a few other women were falling down and getting back on at the same point and keeping going. And no-one was counting how many burpees you did or whether you did them properly. Also, there was a bit where you had to pick up a rock, and there was huge variation in the size of the rocks, and I did not pick a very large one. In fact, I picked quite a small one and then felt guilty about it. I guess at the end of the day you're only racing yourself so you're only cheating yourself...

There was probably actual genuine Mild Peril involved. Cat fell off the monkey bars when training and broke her elbow. Vivek sprained his ankle during the race. There was a bit where we were crawling under barbed wire and it pinged down and I was petrified it had gone in Naath's eye, but it hadn't (I'm not sure if it was special safety barbed wire, but it looked real to my out-of-it racing state) Naath fell off the evil-parallel-bars and gave herself a bad jolt. When I was at the top of the rope I had a sudden 'hmm, I can see how far away the bottom of the rope is from here' moment. There were less dramatic but probably also present risks like small cuts and lots of runners and lots of mud.

Races with groups are differently fun from just going on your own. The Team Thing! is fun, with matching t-shirts and people to cheer for, and people who you recognise running past you. But the faff factor is greatly increased - if you're on your own you can decide you're going to just go to the bag drop, or go and watch people finish, whereas with a team there's the 'what are we doing now' and the co-ordinating lifts, etc etc. I don't think I quite understand the ettiquette yet either. There was definitely a bit where Neil was Waiting For People, but I wanted to know how fast I could do it and Race. On the other hand, Naath and I were pretty evenly matched, and so ended up keeping each other company round. She definitely waited for me at the tire drag, and I definitely waited for her at the parallel-bars-of-pain so maybe that was more like Teamwork and less like racing. But maybe if we were doing that I should have waited for her at the end so we could cross the line together, rather than sprinting off after the last obstacle. There is a 'me' in team, but it's a bit backwards and broken ;-)

For a course trying to get hundreds and hundreds of people through it, I thought the organisation was pretty good. The course layout was nice, with the racers coming in to the spectators at the start, about a third of the way through, about two thirds of the way through, and at the end, always with some fairly interesting obstacles to watch. Obstacles that needed a mcguffin were designed to flow really well, with people finishing with the mcguffin leaving it at the place the next people picked it up from. There were definitely bottlenecks though. Quite a few of the running bits were very narrow (top of a ridge, or through a wood) which limited overtaking (not a problem for me, but a problem for the people behind me ;-) ) There were a few obstacles where you had to wait for your mcguffin (a bit of a queue for the buckets-on-ropes, for example) And the worst bit was the rock carrying, where there was really no way to overtake, so everyone inched round at the speed of the slowest person with a rock. So I think if I'd been time obsessed to the second, I might have found odd patches briefly frustrating, but I thought it all flowed really well.

There was clearly Big Money to be made out of us all. It was expensive (my 10K last summer had been 15 quid, whereas this was 45). Some of that is justified by the complexity of the course - a 10K needs a few signs and a waterstop, whereas setting up fire pits, monkey bars, ropes, ammo boxes etc etc must add to the costs - but with 5000 entrants there must have been a quarter of a million pounds worth of entry fees sloshing around in that field.

There was excellent people watching on the field. The two most common groups were charity teams, and single men racing (usually with a support team of wife and kids enjoying the spectacle). The race itself was definitely male dominated - I'd estimate 80/20, but it'll be easier to count once the results are up. They didn't look vastly different from your typical parkrun, but I think tended to snip off the bottom end of the bell curve a bit - there were a few people looking as though it was part of their 'get fit' plan, but most people looked like they had gotten fit already and were now showing off and enjoying it.

The one thing that really surprised me was the get outs in the course for women. The weaker sex had a shorter wall with better footholds to climb, a lighter bucket-onna-rope, a lighter sandbag, and a lighter tire. Now, on one hand this filled me with joy, because usually when I approached one of these obstacles I would be in pain and tired, and my brain would relish the relief. But it felt _wrong_, somehow. If I run 5k, I run the same 5k as the men, just slower. If I sit a maths exam, I answer the same questions as the men. Discussing this later, it's interesting that I probably wouldn't have noticed this as an 'unfairness' quite so much if the weight had been done, eg, proportional to height or bodyweight (of course, that would be a logistical impossibility). I almost wish I could go back and do the Slowest Spartan Race Ever, just using the Man Stuff. However, it is worth noting that I accidently started dragging a Man Tire rather than a Lady Tire at the tire drag. I could barely move it, and Naath (with her ladytire) vanished off into the distance. About half way round I found a Man dragging a Lady tire, and managed to persuade him to swap - and oh, it was a blessed relief! [Also, it was an interesting reminder of how 'man' doesn't have any of the connotations that 'lady' has, when they were divvying us up into 'manbags' and 'ladybags']

There was a big warm up speal at the start of the race. [There's a similar one on Youtube here] A man yelled at you lots of things like 'You will face things no-one has ever faced before' 'You have trained your mind and your body, failure is not an option' 'History will remember you, today is your day' and we all shouted back in chorus 'I AM A SPARTAN!' It turns out I am cynical enough that I don't switch my brain off entirely during these things, and sort of notice the pretention and the religion-alike and the mass-histeria side of it, while, err, also getting quite hyped up by it. I wonder if these sort of things do fill a religion gap, in a weird way?

My attitude to the spartan race was, err, not very spartan. I packed - two books, a water bottle, a flask of coffee, a change of clothes, a change of shoes, two towels, a chocolate bar, dried mango, and nuts. All of these I promptly dropped at the bag drop and forgot about, but sheesh, you'd think I was going on a three week expedition, not a 60 minute race.

At the end they gave you three things. Today, the t-shirt seems like the most useful, as it's a nice technical t-shirt and I can wear it to other running things. Yesterday afternoon I was best pleased by the Totally Gratuitous Medal, which I doubt I will ever wear again. But in the first 10 seconds after the race the most amazing thing they had given me was a plastic cup of cold, clear, delightful water. Ah, water after exercise, one of the most joyous things in the world.

I am still confused about sponsorship, but we are Very Near the Target, and I Leapt Through Fire, so your chance to give money to Epilepsy Research UK remains open here

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