Third day’s ride

20th August. Geoff, Richard, George  and I headed out.

The ride started at Chivari, but finished at Nervi, 97 kms or so.  Again, a route involving two biggish  climbs.  George and Richard charged up the hills, leaving Geoff and I to plod up behind.  Geoff mentioned his knee on several occasions. I had no excuses other than genetics.



Here are Richard and George asking what had taken Geoff and I so long.



The final climb was especially lovely, it had the feel of a proper mountain.



With a spectacular view down to Genova and the sea.



The descent was a bit hairy, and George’s bike woes continued. His tyre punctured. George and Richard went to fetch the car and tend to George’s bike, while Geoff and I investigated recovery supplements in Nervi Harbour.





1880 climbing, 97 kms, 3025 kcals.

The Alps and Zimbabwe

A couple of years ago Sig, Dean and I rode up Mont Ventoux in France. It was great fun, and we also raised some money for a noble cause, Warchild. Our friends from around the world were remarkably generous, donating  a tidy sum.

Photo from the fantastic cycling blog of Will Davies. flickr stream here.

This year,in August, I’m being even more of an idiot.  I’m doing  a week long Alpine ride with a bunch of cycling mates, all of whom are leaner and meaner than me.  This time the money will go to the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation. It is a very reputable charity, and has Desmond Tutu as its patron.

Violent and sustained attacks against civilian voters in Zimbabwe are leaving behind hundreds of mutilated and injured men, women and children. Many of them have also had their homes burned and their possessions destroyed. ZBF has launched an emergency response to support victims with medical supplies, blankets, food packs and basic building materials throughout the country. We appeal for your help now.

I discovered the charity via the Sokwanele blog, which provides brilliant but harrowing coverage of  the goings on in Zimbabwe.

The donations page over on the site, here. It would be great if you could head on over there with your credit card handy.


Here’s hoping that by the time I’m back from the Alps, Bob is no longer in charge.

I’ll post a cyclogeek post soon, with the route, altitudes and so on.

Corruption kills.

James Farrar, SAP VP for CSR kindly invited me up to Berlin, with James Governor, Dennis Howlett, Michael Schwandt and Stephanie Raabe. We had a good, open session on web 2.0 and what it could mean for Transparency International. Dennis and James have both blogged about the meeting, so I won’t repeat what they said here.

A couple of things hit home from the meeting. In our little enterprisey blogging echo chamber, it is unlikely that anything we post or read could lead someone’s life being threatened. Egos may be dented here and there, tempers may flair at worst.

But when your organisation is

Transparency International, the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, brings people together in a powerful worldwide coalition to end the devastating impact of corruption on men, women and children around the world. TI’s mission is to create change towards a world free of corruption.

The folks at Transparency International and the people they advise sometimes risk life and limb.

On reading the annual reports it made me realise that the Constant Gardener was more fact than fiction. I read of whistle blowers disappearing, and the extent and depth of corruption is numbing.

“Corruption is bleeding Africa to death and the cost is borne by the poor. Some estimates put money corruptly leaving the continent at greater than that arriving as aid. Much of the money is banked in
Britain or our overseas territories and dependencies and sometimes British citizens or companies are involved in corrupt deals. We want our government to get tough on corruption.”

– Hugh Bayley MP, Chair; House of Commons Africa All Party Parliamentary Group,29 March 2006

I’m glad that TI are exploring how web 2.0 can raise awareness, drive funding and build a stronger link to the community. And I believe it can help make TI even more relevant than it is today. At the same time, they are right to proceed cautiously. There is a lot more at stake than I realised before I visited them.

As I slip my latte and blog about ERP, it is humbling to think that

Over one billion people lack clean drinking water; close to three billion lack adequate sanitation. In 2006, Transparency International co-founded the Water Integrity Network to bring transparency and integrity to the water sector.

We can all do our bit to fight corruption. It is sand in the gears of capitalism at best, and at worst it is counterfeit heart valves,and substandard concrete that collapses at the slightest shudder. Markets are not free if they are corrupt. Even the most libertarian of thinkers, Milton Friedman, asserted that businesses have no social responsibility other than to increase profits and refrain from engaging in deception and fraud. It is unfortunate that the second half of this quote is often ignored. I’ll leave the broader discussion CSR and GRC for another post, save to say there is more to this than SOX 404.

If you cant see the videos head over to TIs’s youtube channel, a good 2.0esque step…)

Bribery and corruption require both supply and demand.

If you want to donate to TI, or just find out more about what they do, head over to the website. Give them some linklove while you are at it.

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Sig, Dean and I rode up Mt Ventoux this weekend, partly for the warchild charity, but mainly just because it was there. Pity about the fog at the top, it meant we didn’t get to see the lunar landscape even the Simpson memorial was just about invisible. The Giant of Provence was still just as steep though….

 Sig provides commentary over at his blog. He also edited the video. Great soundtrack!

I’d like to thank Sig’s family for the fabulous hospitality, and Dean for sharing the long drive.  For those of you that donated to our charity. A BIG Thank you.. For those of you that haven’t click here. (update: I should also thank my wife for allowing me to postpone the wedding aniversary…)

We would like this to be the start of a regular blogger charity bike ride, so if you are interested in next year’s efforts, head over to the wiki.  and help get it started. Galiber perhaps?

some free advice

Don’t try taking off your raincoat while riding your bicycle, you might crash. This is not good for your knees, elbows, shoulders and ego.  It also  may make a big hole in your raincoat, which impacts its ablity to stop rain rather profoundly. 

This will not stop the ride up Ventoux on Saturday, it merely gives me a excuse when Sig beats me!

I’m off to Sweden this afternoon to advise on a large  HR shared services project, and then I’m in the UK on Thursday to see a UK Bank about their ERP 2005 upgrade.  Friday we will drive down to France for the ride on Saturday.

I’d like to thank all the folks who have blogged about the ride, Dennis, Davids, James, JeffMark, Charlie and many more,  and especially those that have contributed to the fund for Warchild

I may be sounding like a broken record on this, but take out your credit card and click here

My bicycle doesn’t need middleware

Some of you (well 4 people) have requested that I write something about my bicycle, as that is the subtitle of this blog. For those of you expecting something extolling the praises of SAP here, you will be disappointed. When it comes to bicycles, I’m very much a best of breed guy. Each little bit is from a specialist vendor, but somehow it all fits together perfectly. Without any middleware. (unless you try mix shimano and campag)

Bicycles arent software….

I took this photo on the way down the grossglockner alpine road earlier this summer. (see the story here)

The first question normal people normally ask is what make is your bike?  Well that depends which bit you are talking about. The bike was put together by a friend of mine, Juergen, who used to build bikes and race them, but now has a normal day job as he has a mortgage to pay. He has a cellar workshop that would embarass most bike shops.  

The frame is carbon fibre, and weighs 980 grammes. We don’t know what make the frame is, as it was built as a prototype for a trade show. (Almost all carbon bikes are built in the same two factories in Taiwan and China) There is a long post waiting to be written on globalisation and cycling components but that will need to wait….

The fork is from Merlin, an American firm, it is also carbon. (I’m not sure what it weighs)

The brakes are  Campagnolo record and the rest of the groupset is campag chorus (11-23 10 speed cassette), with the exception of the crankset, which is from FSA, and is a compact carbon (34-50)

The stem and handlebars are from a German firm called Syntace. The stem is a F99, which is one of the lightest stems on the market. It weighs less than 100 grammes. Considering this is the thing that helps steer the bike, that is light.

The wheelset is also from Campagnolo, the neutron. This is their mid-priced low profile wheel and weighs about 1750 grammes for the pair. We replaced the standard quick-release skewers with tune titanium skewers. (Tune is a small German firm that specialise in ultra lightweight parts. the skewer is the only thing from them I can afford..)

The seat post is from use alien, a small UK firm. in weighs 166 grammes, and has been used to win the TdFrance king of the mountains twice. (not me, some skinny french bloke)

The pedals are from time, a french company.

The saddle is from Selle Italia and weighs 140 grammes, (SLR carbonio) It looks uncomfortable to those used to paddled sofa saddles, but it is actually suprising comfy, despite zero padding.

The bottecages were another minor extravagance, also carbon, and weighing  26 grammes. These are from an American firm Bontrager 

The bike weighs just over 7 kgs, which is very respectable, considering that the wheels are relatively heavy. Actually if I had the funds I’d buy a pair of lightweights! both wheels together weigh less than a kg!. (again a small German firm.) My other concern is that if you have mega fancy wheels it motivates other folks to ride past you, and then you feel really slow, as despite all the technology it does, eventually, depend on the legs and lungs. Sig describes this phenomenon rather well. This happened to me quite a lot in Italy last week too.

If anyone is at all interested, I will do the money no object dream bicycle post another day.

This weekend I will be venturing out on Sunday into the Odenwald, my local hilly bit,  as I need train for the charity ride up Mont Ventoux (see wiki) in aid of warchild. We have about 5 people riding (Sig and Hamish have blogs), but we would like more. The wiki will explain how you, dear reader can join us, or-and donate to a worthy cause.

Wars, bicycles and business language

James at Redmonk talks a lot about declarative living.(actually he talks a lot, fullstop) So, as I pack up here and head off to Italy for a bicycle race, I figure I should blog what is on my mind. It is miles away from shared services, Sox, and ERP, or even my race.

Throughout the world, there are many wars raging. Some are major news like Iraq and Lebanon, others “less” newsworthy, like Somalia. All wars have one thing in common, children suffer the most.

We picked the Charity Warchild for our bike ride in September up Ventoux before the conflict escalated in the Middle East. I have friends on both sides of the fence in this conflict, and I don’t want to be drawn into a debate as to who is right and who is wrong.

If you would like to join us on the bike ride, check out the wiki, you can also donate to warchild from there too. They help kids in all wars, on both sides. Lots of friends and colleagues have already donated, thank you again to those reading this.

Maybe I’m being naive, but I try to avoid using military terms in business speak. I’m not at war, I don’t want to carpet bomb Oracle, or catch them in a crossfire, or do some collateral damage. I’m not at the front line, or in the trenches, luckily.

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google earth and pain

Funny how Google impacts much of what I do.  I use alot at work and home to find stuff, but until yesterday I thought Google Earth was a bit of a lame gimmick.
Earlier this year in what I’m realising was a moment of madness, Martin and I decided to enter the Giro delle Dolomiti.  (we found out about the race via Google) This is a six day jaunt through the Italian Dolomites. (634 kms and 14188 vertical metres)

The idea was to give us a goal to train for, and somehow justify spending money on fancy bicycles that should have gone into pension funds. I find it hard to stay fit and focused without a goal. Otherwise I sit in front of the TV and commentate. There isnt much cricket on German TV either.
This picture shows the second stage, which is probably the toughest.

This looks so abstract though. With google earth it looks so terribly real. You can download it here. (make sure you dont download the gps waypoints, otherwise it falls over)

my legs will be a mashup after this.

In September we will go up Mont Ventoux for Charity. find out how to sponsor us (Sig, Hamish, Dean, Marcus and me) here. We are using the wiki to organise the ride, and the web to raise funds for warchild. If you want to ride, just us send us a note via the wiki.

Mont Ventoux, the echo chamber, web 2.0 and a good cause

There is a hill in France called Mont Ventoux, and some of us are going to ride up it for charity at the end of September. 

some stats from wikipedia

South from Bédoin: 22 km over 1610 m. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.6%. Until Saint-Estève, the climb is easy, but the 16 remaining kilometres have an average gradient of 10%. The last kilometres have strong, violent winds. The ride takes 2-3 hours for trained amateur individuals, and professionals can ride it in 1-1.5 hours. The fastest time so far recorded has been that of Iban Mayo in the individual climbing time trial of the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré: 55' 51". The time was measured from Bédoin for the first time in the 1958 Tour de France, in which Charly Gaul was the fastest at 1h 2' 9".

Sig of thingamy  is game, as is Hamish of the Cardboard Spaceship, we are working on some others, and we welcome any other bloggers (and non-bloggers) to join us. I'm hoping to do sub 2 hours, but I will be happy just to get to the top.

We thought it would be great to see how blogging etc can help a good cause, and we are using a Wiki (thehughpage), the web and so on to help organise things.  No doubt Sig and Hamish will tap Hugh for a cartoon or two. (update Cartoon has arrived)

  Good old fashioned bug friends, family and colleagues  techniques will be deployed too. 

So we are looking for some fellow mad people for the ride, and of course, your cash.

War is a wicked thing.

Read hugh's post quoting W.H Auden, and then image it with children.

We have registered  at, raising money for warchild. But feel free to set up your own if you want, and link it to the wiki.

..( I learnt about the justgiving site from a colleague at SAP UK who ran the london marathon, it is a simple and safe way to donate.

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