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.

Back at starship enterprisey…Walldorf

I surivived the Giro delle Dolomiti last week, but I won’t be giving up my day job to become a professional cyclist. My family would starve if I did. (I’ll do a cycling post later for those interested in gear ratios, heart rates, calories, recovery drinks, and how to cope with being dropped by people who would normally be offered a seat in the lifeboat first)

I havent posted in 10 days or so, and I have had very little internet or blog access. Well, I tried to read a couple of blogs via the blackberry, but riding the 27kms up Stelvio was less painful. (I like to say slower, but that wouldn’t be fair to the blackberry)

So I fired up newsgator this morning, and the first thing I read was a gem from Andrew McAfee on business cases. He points to the recent Kaplan and Norton book, Strategy Maps, which I suppose I ought to add to my reading list. Measuring the intangible has always struck me as something of an oxymoron, because the moment you measure it, then it starts to have tangible properties. (bit like Heisenberg etc)

I especially liked this paragraph

Across the hundreds of quantitative IT business cases I’ve seen, I’d estimate that the average ROI figure was about 100%.  This brings up an obvious question, which I asked to every business case author that I could find:  “If this ROI figure is at all accurate, why are companies spending money on anything else except IT?  If there really are all these 100% ROI projects out there, doesn’t Finance 101 say that companies should immediately start lots of them, and not stop until the marginal return is less than the return from traditional investments like advertising, R&D, capacity expansion, etc.?”  

I remember someone from marketing being upset with an ROI study at SAB Miller  because the number was too low…

The ROI of 24% coupled with a payback period of 6.64 years proves SAB Limited’s investment to be quite sound. More specifically, the improved analytics and real-time delivery of people-related information has helped SAB Limited in its global growth endeavors.

I wasn’t.

The number seemed credible to me. 

I would love my own little investments to have an ROI like that.

 This is a through ROI analysis based on a strong Gartner methodology. (James, I can link to it though)  The report is well worth reading.

SAB Miller is a very successful company, and I wish I had bought their shares rather than just their product in my youth.

The report goes on to state:

The implementation of mySAP ERP HCM has been an enabler to SAB Limited’s strategy by providing more accurate information and analytics; however, the HR team at SAB Limited is truly responsible for the superior human capital management practices and people-focus that is engrained into the culture. The end result is a firm that can not only state that its people are its competitive advantage, but can also back up the claim with analytical data

This backs up a lot of what Andrew was on about with cause and effect chains. The system alone is not the ROI, it is the improved process and the people that make the ROI.  ROI claims of many 100’s  percent are rarely credible. If they were, hedge funds would be financing IT projects.

The report also picks up on a couple of themes that I have been on about before, HR processes and the importance of HR analytics. (see my post at the human Captalist..)

The most useful thing about an ROI study is not the numbers though. It is the discipline needed to actually measure what it is you do now, then change, and then measure again. This is the same discipline that has made SAB one of the world’s most successful companies.



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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.

podcasts and big hills.

Last week I decided to ride up (on my bicycle) a big hill in Austria called grossglockner. It is good training for a race I'm doing in August, and for the blogger charity ride up mont Ventoux in late September. It is popular with the motorbike crowd, as the road is well tarred, and quite wide for an alpine high road. Luckily, it is the world cup, so most of  the leather types were in front of the TV.

I started at Fusch. (Edelweisspitze is another 150 metres up from the Fuscher Tor the last bit is cobbled and rather steep)

I dont normally ride with music, as it distracts me from concentrating on the traffic, however as I was planning to climb the best part of 2000 metres, with lots of it at 12% I figured some distraction was not a bad idea.

All the music on my MP3 player  is stuff I've bought over time on CD and transferred to my laptop. I've not copied music since the days of cassettes. I figure I make enough money to pay for music.

Anyway, my ride up the hill playlist included Davie Bowie, The Killers, the Strokes, Toten Hosen, Nesse Dorma, Libertines, Talking Heads (road to nowhere), Jack Johnson, Elvis Costello, Wir Sind Helden, chumbawumba(tubthumping), Juluka, Freshly Ground and Kaiser Chiefs (i predict a riot)

About 15 minutes from the top I started to hear strange, yet familar voices talking to me about  open source. Perhaps I was more tired than I thought. Actually, I'd managed to add a redmonk podcast to my playlist. Cote and James joined me on the mountain. It was too steep to take my hands of the handlebars to turn them off, and if I'd stopped I never have got back on again. James talked about how he was like a hosted service in the sky. This was hard to follow with a heart rate of over 170.  I think I ought to listen to it without the endorphins or cannabinoids.

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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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