Tag Archives: london

London to Brighton 2010: Poor Zoe…

Far...Too...Early...

On Fathers’ Day I cycled 54 miles from London to Brighton. This was in aid of the British Heart Foundation. This was fitting: My Father was diagnosed with Angina several years ago and, thankfully, the resulting surgery was successful.

I was part of the Jobsite team and my thanks go to the company for their support (which included paying our entry fees and sorting out the minibus travel). They were just as supportive several years ago when I last did this ride.

I did no training this time around. I rode my bike around the car park a few times to check everything still worked but that was it. In fact, the last time my bike had been used for anything more than a couple of miles was the last London to Brighton that I did! I am active in other ways, mostly running, so was confident that I had the cardiovascular fitness required to do well… but what about my poor thighs?

I got up at 3am in order to meet the rest of the Jobsite team at our offices in Havant. We were then taken up to Clapham Common ready for our 7am start. It was a little cold so I was thankful I had remembered to bring something warm. I munched on an oat bar and enjoyed the entertainment: Various performers were mingling with the crowd, typically of a Victorian bent, although I was particularly impressed by the girl cycling around backwards… including being able to stop motionless for photographs and conversation.

Before the starting gates...

At 7am we were off! It’s fun cycling through the London streets… mainly because they are closed to traffic for this event. The buzz of the event was fantastic and I quickly forgot that about the fact I had to climb out of bed at 3am.

The ride was a little stop/start at times due to accidents on the hill descents. I was probably stopped for about 40 minutes total as a result of these. There was a sadder event though, which occurred after I had finished: A man suffered a heart attack on the final hill climb and died later in hospital. (BBC News link)

I was doing great to begin with, really sparkling as I rode, but hit a wall at around 25 miles. This was where my thighs really began to suffer. It wasn’t helped by the grouped hills at this point. My head was down and I was watching my cycle computer more in slight disarray: My average speed dropping, my distance travelled not increasing as fast as I would like! I had slipped out of the zone.

When out of the zone you concentrate on the negatives. Pain is a good one. Thighs burning. The early stages of cramp catching on. That leads to further negative thoughts: Have I taken in enough fluids? Have I eaten the right things? I’ve not even quite half-way yet!

You don’t get back into the zone by magic. Positive steps were needed. I turned off the cycle computer display as it was no longer encouraging me. I brought my head up. I took on a stronger posture on the bike. I was going to complete this ride in under five hours, arriving in Brighton at mid-day.

I wasn’t in this alone though: So many volunteers make this event a success. I am so thankful to them. There was constant support from them and the spectators along the way. Not to mention the villages that make a real occasion of the ride: Churches are giving out free water and cakes, brass bands are playing, pubs have the BBQ going… I smiled at a sign saying ‘Nearly there! There’s time for a pint!’.

Terrible photo. Awesome brass band on the green!

To keep myself focused, when I stopped (for a jam tart or a slice of carrot cake as opposed to a pint) I kept it short. Probably five minutes at the most. Cycling 54 miles starts to get a little…uncomfortable in certain areas and I didn’t want that to set in too much as stopping really makes it worse!

There were nearly 30,000 people on this ride. I was riding along when someone comes up alongside me and says, “Are you Tristan?”. Yes, I am. It turns out this is a guy that has been following my updates on Twitter and he recognised the Jobsite-branded cycle top that I was wearing. What are the chances? That provided a pick-up all of its own!

I’ve explained how this event can be a little gruelling. It probably isn’t the best time to be giving declarations of love. Someone tried. A husband trying to win back his wife had put together some very impressive looking banners throughout the course: “Unite us and our family so we may love, laugh and grow together. Why take advantage of us, let’s take advantage of life. I love you Zoe! I always have and always will x.” It was like cycling through a Hallmark card. This last one was on the final hill ascent which the ride is famous for: “Come on Chicken. Flap those wings and shake that tail feather.” At this point, I wanted to divorce him! (Daily Mail coverage)

The final straight. SERIOUS MODE.

The final part of the ride is all downhill so it is an amazing feeling. Especially the finishing straight along Brighton’s Madeira Drive. 54 miles in five hours… and ten minutes, I never did hit my five hour target. Ultimately it doesn’t matter. I made it and earned that sponsorship money for the British Heart Foundation.

You can still sponsor me!

IAB ‘Engage for mobile’ 2010

Matt Brittin, Google's UK and Ireland MD

I was happy to attend the Internet Advertising Bureau’s Engage for Mobile conference on 16th June 2010.

Mobile is big right now. Well, to be precise it has been ‘the next big thing’ for about ten years. WAP was meant to ignite the world but was ultimately a bit of a damp squib. Now, however, there is genuine excitement in the water.

The conference was held at the Millbank Media and Cinema Centre in London. This is a wonderful venue. The organisation of this event was first class, and also featured perhaps the richest cakes to exist in the universe. The general set-up of the auditorium was excellent and, barring some minor microphone hiccups from time to time, provided a fantastic platform for the speakers.

Steve Heald and Spencer McHugh of Orange were present. Orange’s branding is certainly distinctive but quite wearing when used throughout a Powerpoint presentation. Their Orange Wednesdays promotion is exceptionally well known and an interesting fact to emerge was that some films are now released on Wednesdays in order to take advantage! This and some other case studies did highlight how their marketing was successful using purely ‘normal’ mobile features such as messaging and not dedicated applications. Not an iPhone in sight!

Orange also produced an App for Glastonbury. It was given away free. Although this was never strictly an ‘Orange thing’ the results were that 80% of people exposed reacted positively to the brand.

Matt Brittin from Google demonstrated some of their recent technology. Naturally the bulk of this was on an Android device. Speech recognition for search and, even more impressively, language translation was shown. The best was the demonstration of Google Goggles which can show information on everything from landmarks to artwork, searched for as a result of the user taking a photograph with their device. Now, none of this is particularly new for those that follow the company but it highlights how everything with mobile is starting to become more seamless and less fiddly!

Nic Newman from Tigerspike and Maani Safa from Telegraph Media Group talked about a few things, including their World Cup application. This has been an incredible success for them. I particularly loved how it encouraged voting by the users and the results of that voting could be seen on a geographical basis. For example, it could be seen which parts of the world were more likely to support a certain country! Seamless social interaction on mobile which I always love to see.

CAKES

Mark Freeman of Movement gave an outstanding and engaging presentation. His theme was on the differences between ‘heads up’ and ‘heads down’ mobile. ‘Heads down’ being the likes of just sitting there texting or checking email. ‘Heads up’? Things that are genuinely socially engaging. He ran a quick gameshow as a demo: Text him for the chance to win a Darth Vader Pez dispenser! Plenty of other examples were shown, including Nokia having a ‘textable’ giant sign which would respond and point as commanded and display the messages as well. Lots of video of the public interacting with the brand directly and having lots of fun there.

Mark was successful as he stuck to a few key points and really hammered them home with interesting dynamic examples. The theme of the conference was ‘Engage’ so this is what I wanted to be seeing.

Unfortunately, most of the afternoon presentations did not have this engagement. I’m not going to dissect them now. I will simply say this: Be passionate about what you are presenting. If the idea is to talk about the amazing things that your company has done or can offer, you have to look like you truly mean it and enjoy it. If you are not engaged by your own ideas, why would you expect your audience to be?

Also, less is more. Mountains of spreadsheets and graphs do not make a good presentation. Sometimes there were just not any pauses and I found myself drifting off and just not particularly caring any more. I really can’t remember much of what was said.

One nice fact came out of it though: There is an app, for your iPhone, which locates the nearest payphone for you. And it costs £2.99. GENIUS.

Everyone woke up when Roman Weishäupl of Trend One gave an amazing presentation. He was so energised and enthusiastic. He was speaking about the possibilities of the future, concentrating on augmented reality, but it was clearly he was passionate about it. See, this is the difference: He wasn’t just reading his notes verbatim or over-reliant on overloaded Powerpoint slides. HE MEANT IT. Anyone who can get the audience to hold hands for time travel at the beginning of their speech is doing something very right.

I love the potential of augmented reality. It just feels so much like science fiction at times but the technology to power it already exists in so many areas! Just a case of joining up the dots.

In all, I did pick up some good ideas from this conference but the afternoon flagged. Top up the roster with those who are genuinely excited about what they are doing and know how to get it across. Then this conference will genuinely be able to use the word ‘Engage’ in its title!

Mmm, water.

Oh, OpenMarket win my award for best ‘goodie bag’ item: Very, very nice drinks bottle which is going to come with me on the London to Brighton cycle ride this year! Please sponsor me!

#IABUK hashtag on Twitter.