Cycling Cumbria to Northumbria for Miriam, Kenya and Cancer

In  just over a week I’m going to be cycling the coast-to-coast route, from Maryport on the west coast of Cumbria to Tynemouth on the east coast of Northumbria, 140 miles across the Pennines, the backbone of England.

The C2C ride is part of Miriam’s preparation for her 400km cycle ride in Kenya next February (see her blog “BICYCLE, BICYCLE, BICYCLE (I want to ride my…)“), organised by Women V Cancer, in support of several women’s cancer charities. During the Kenya ride Miriam will be doing a gruelling 50 miles a day in summer heat and on not-so-smooth roads, compared to just 35 miles a day on the C2C.  Janet Finlay, Rachel Cowgill and I are joining Miriam on the C2C, and Miriam, Janet and Rachel recently had their own pre-C2C training weekend down in the hills north of Cardiff, up near Aberfan (site of the 1966 disaster, which I posted about a few months ago).

In principle this should be a leisurely ride, we are doing it in four days, some people manage it in three or even two.  However, I’d not been on a bike for ten years before last summer, and since June have been travelling continuously and consequentially only stepped onto the bike four times — so not a lot of practice.  Furthermore, Tiree does not offer a lot of practice for cross-mountain cycling … the last time I cycled up a hill was 1994!  So, Alston Moor and the Pennines may be a bit of a challenge :-/

I’ll do a post when I finish and tweet (@alanjohndix) on the way (mobile signal allowing).

I’m not doing any sponsorship individually, but if you would like to support me and my sore bottom do add a few pounds on Miriam’s JustGiving page for Kenya and pop in the comments box that it is for me on the C2C.

endings and beginnings: cycling, HR and Talis

It is the end of the summer, the September rush starts (actually at the end of August) and on Friday I’ll be setting off on the ferry and be away from home for all of September and October 🙁  Of course I didn’t manage to accomplish as much as I wanted over the summer, and didn’t get away on holiday … except of course living next to the sea is sort of like holiday every day!  However, I did take some time off when Miriam visited, joining her on cycle rides to start her training for her Kenyan challenge — neither of us had been on a bike for 10 years!  Also this last weekend saw the world come to Tiree when a group of asylum seekers and refugees from the St Augustine Centre in Halifax visited the Baptist Church here — kite making, songs from Zimbabwe and loads of smiling faces.

In September I also hand over departmental personnel duty (good luck Keith :-)).  I’d taken on the HR role before my switch to part-time at the University, and so most of it stayed with me through the year 🙁 (Note, if you ever switch to part-time, better to do so before duties are arranged!). Not sorry to see it go, the people bit is fine, but so much paper filling!

… and beginnings … in September (next week!) I also start to work part-time with Talis.  Talis is a remarkable story.  A library information systems company that re-invented itself as a Semantic Web company and now, amongst other things, powering the Linked Data at

I’ve known Talis as a company from its pre-SemWeb days when aQtive did some development for them as part of our bid to survive the crash.   aQtive did in the end die, but Talis had stronger foundations and has thrived1.  In the years afterwards two ex-aQtive folk, Justin and Nad, went to Talis and for the past couple of years I have also been on the external advisory group for their SemWeb Platform.  So I will be joining old friends as well as being part of an exciting enterprise.

  1. Libraries literally need very strong foundations.  I heard of one university library that had to be left half empty because the architect had forgotten to take account of the weight of books.  As the shelves filled the whole building began to sink into the ground.[back]