The 2022 Reading Challenge

Earlier this year I set myself the challenge of reading 30 books this year and I have read 24 books out of 30 so far. In the grand scheme of things reading challenges don’t mean more. They mean you managed to start or at least finish a certain number of books within a given period of time.

I like the reading challenge because it encourages me to read more than I might otherwise but I am slightly frustrated that it doesn’t show the number of pages we have read in total, across various media. If we counted articles, podcasts and more then the count would be higher.

I also dislike that it encourages me to read shorter books, that I think I will finish sooner, rather than other books, that would take longer, and thus skew the number of read books, but boost the number of read pages. There is no challenge for “read pages” yet.

I have to read 29 books in a single year to reach my personal best. I think I will. I listen to books rather than podcasts when I walk and I listen when I cook.

I am two books behind schedule. This has been the case for almost the entire year. I should have read 26 books, rather than 24.

I need to read one book a week to reach my goal. That’s a comfortable goal, especially if I find books that take less than seven hours to read. One of the most unexpected books this year was Harmonica, Harps and Heavy Breathers. If my curiousity about harmonicas had not been woken during a walk I would not have picked up this book and I would not have spent a certain amount of time reading it almost every night for weeks.

My reading is not regular. I will probably read a few pages every night before going to sleep but sometimes I read at other times of the day. Whilst it annoys me that the Kindle App logs days in a row, rather than reading time I like that it encourages you to read every single day. It isn’t demanding. Reading one or two pages is enough. On that note I will leave this post for now and continue reading.

From Nyon to Vesancy

From Nyon to Vesancy

In 2015, I was exploring on a mountain bike when I found a road above La Rippe that was closed to traffic, so I decided to explore it. I managed to cycle a certain distance before I met a rockfall blocking the road, so I had to turn back. I then tried again in 2018 and I got quite close to the top but decided to give up and turn around. Within the last three weeks or so I have attempted the ride again, and this time I have made it up not once, but twice.

The first time I attempted it this year, it was exploration. I used Komoot to set the destination point, and then I started cycling up. This ride is a challenge because it starts steep, and it stays steep almost the whole way up. I read a comment that once you get to 1200 meters it gets easier. That’s almost at the top of the climb.

It is easier to do this type of climb if you look at distance remaining, rather than altitude. It is the type of ride that you do one kilometre at a time. Every kilometre is earned. One nice aspect of this ride is that you have more wildlife. You hear rustling in the leaves, and you hear things scuttling around. I saw at least one Chamois, one snake and quite a few hikers. Hikers do not count as wildlife. You see some people walking upwards, and others walking downwards.

I like to find routes that either have very few cars, or no cars. Cars often drive too close and too far. The further we are from cars, the safer we are. It gives us the time to focus our attention on the effort and the challenge, rather than on safety. I wear normal shoes, rather than cycling shoes, for this climb. In a previous attempt I found that I wanted to stop but couldn’t, so I was stuck with continuing to climb until the gradient was gentler. That was not fun.

View of the Alps through the trees
View of the Alps through the trees

On this ride you have a good few of the Lac Léman as well as of the Alps and the Mont Blanc on the right day. When you get to what I consider the top there is nothing to do. I could go further and explore on the french side, but during a pandemic I prefer not to cross borders, especially on foot, with a bike on my back. I could go up on foot, and explore from the other side, and eventually link the two. In theory I can go up from La Rippe, over the top, across to the West of La Dole, rejoin La Cure, cycle to St Cergue and come down the fun road. We’ll see next summer.

The 298 Km Walking and Running Challenge

The 298 Km Walking and Running Challenge

The 298 Km walking and Running Challenge is now ten days old and I’ve managed to run or walk the required distance every day. Yesterday rather than walk I decided to run despite the rain. As a result, a pair of my hiking trousers are now nicely covered in mud. I walked through two puddles near home hoping that most of the mud would wash off the shoes and it seems to have worked.

While writing this blog post I see that I need to run at least once a week for six months to get a running pace. It’s a shame it can’t take the data from activities like Strava does. It says “as you get faster your speed goes up and your pace goes down”. My problem is not with speed or pace. It’s with technique. I’m still trying to get my knees not to suffer when I run.

I can walk and cycle without pain, but running is uncomfortable, I need to work on the quality of my stride but that’s a topic for another time.

The weather is finally better. When I checked the temperature my watch said that it’s 16°C outside, which means that my conventional walks can start taking place again. I often walk ten-kilometre loops on the roads around here.

During my walks I listen to podcasts. Today I listened to Episode two of the FIFDH series by Histoire Vivante. They have a week of interviews with those who work on this event. Today it was about the film discussions they organise, and their role, as well as the films and their impact on the world. I also listened to How Corona Closed down Italy by The Guardian.

Oscillating Between 9 to 10 Kilometres per day.

During most of this challenge, I have not been on my summer walks but rather on smaller Ingress walks. I get the appropriate amount of steps, but the workout is different. Yesterday when I ran I hardly played Ingress, in part because of the rain but also because I was focused on simply reaching my 5km goal. Today the weather would have been good for cycling but I preferred to take a rest for my legs to recover.


A group of cyclists
A group of cyclists

During my walk I also saw three pelotons of cyclists along a stretch of road. There is a gentle gradient on this road so it is a good taster of what other gradients have to offer later on. I’d like to cycle in a group. So far my experience of cycling has been a solitary one. It would be an interesting experience. It would be different from a critical mass or other less energetic events.

I am now 100 kilometers into my 298 Kilometre challenge with about three weeks to go. At this rate, I will achieve the goal.

The March Walking Challenge

The March Walking Challenge

I’m on the Apple Activities March Walking Challenge this month. The app has decided that I must walk or run 298 kilometres. It’s an average of 9.6 kilometres a day. This is both easy and challenging at the same time. Walking 10 kilometres takes about two hours.

When I had a broken arm I walked more than two hours a day, because I had nothing else I could do. I also walked that much because I couldn’t bike, take the car or drive the scooter. As a result, I needed to walk for everything.

My arm isn’t broken anymore. I’m happy to do two hours of exercise a day. I like to devote some of that time to cycling. Cycling 300 kilometres for me would be around 10 bike rides. I would complete the challenge in 12 hours or less.

App Weaknesses

Last month the challenge was to reach 500 Calories per day for 28 days out of 29 and I would have reached that goal if it hadn’t been for making the mistake of uploading a workout from Strava to Garmin. By doing this the app decided that instead of burning 1200 calories according to the Apple Watch activity app I had done just 220. Instead of being angry or frustrated I simply decided to take it easy for the rest of the month (a whole two days left).

The problem with the Apple watch is that you have no way of saying “use this data, not that data. If you make a mistake you have no way of undoing it.

The weather

We just had two days of rain and today is sunny. When it’s raining the appeal of going for a walk is lower. Going for a walk involves dressing for the rain, not being able to see or hear as well as usual. It also involves feeling the cold wind. Luckily when I was facing into the wind for one leg of yesterday’s walk I was on the last stretch, and I was warm from walking.

I wore my hiking boots. The beauty of hiking boots is that they’re waterproof and you can walk through puddles and streams without getting wet. I did walk through streams and puddles. I enjoy it. I had walked through mud. My excuse for walking in the stream of water by the side of the road was that it would clear the mud off of them before I walked back into the apartment.

One of the paradoxes of apartment cleaning is that it’s always done on the day when you’re most likely to walk in the mud and bring some back in. When mud is wet it stays on the shoes. The next day, when you’re running down the stairs, as usual, you dump a nice trail of mud behind.

Routing (pronounced rooting, not grouting).

I considered changing my routes. I would walk through muddy bits at the beginning of my walks and the clean ones, on the way home. This minimises the quantity of mud on my shoes when I get home. The second option is to wear the hiking shoes I keep in the car, on muddy days. Bringing mud into the garage doesn’t matter.


  • Ten kilometres a day – two hours of walking
  • Ingress – either by completing missions or by participating in an event
  • Peak days – walk 20 kilometers on some days
  • Running – running the same distance takes less time, but impacts the knees

Walking ten kilometres a day can be achieved either by simply spending as little time sitting as possible. We easily walk ten kilometres a day during a conference. We’re even likely to walk the equivalent of twenty kilometers

Ingress Missions and days are a good way to stand, and walk for hours at a time. In both cases, you’re covering reasonable distances.

Peak days are those where you walk twenty to thirty kilometers on one day, and bank the distance, so that on other days you can devote time to other tasks, such as writing blog posts.

Running is a good way of covering bigger distances in the same amount of time. It requires the right surface and shoes.

The futile Challenge

At the end of the day, the challenge is futile. If I cycle thirty plus kilometers I’m challenging myself to climb up hills, I’m challenging myself to sprint as fast as cars through villages, and sometimes I keep up on 50 kilometer per hour sections. If the weather is good cycling makes more sense.

I should achieve the challenge quickly, and get back to cycling.

2018 Nanowrimo attempt

2018 Nanowrimo attempt

As an introvert, I have a tendency to listen and daydream rather than talk. It is for this reason that the Nanowrimo challenge is an interesting one. It encourages me to be verbose, to use more words than I would usually use. It also forces me to find 1667 words of inspiration on a daily basis. This is a challenge. When you’re inspired it can take about an hour and a half to two hours depending on typing speed or it can be split into chunks. 

Current nanowrimo progress
Current nanowrimo progress

This morning I wrote a draft about the routes you can cycle if you go west from Nyon and tomorrow I plan to do the same but for routes that go east. When I format them as blog posts I will post them. It will provide you with a more in-depth and informed look at cycling opportunities if you’re looking to cycle between Geneva and Nyon.

You can write about anything during the Nanowrimo attempt. You can write fiction or fact, love letters or blog posts, or anything. The principal goal is to get in the habit of writing every single day, and of not worrying about editing and post-processing until December and beyond. 
A few years ago I managed to write a 50,000-word fiction piece and never found the courage to read it. It’s a challenge to write, especially when you force yourself to keep going despite your instinct telling you that what you’re writing is rubbish.

You can look at it another way. You can look at writing like taking pictures or taking video. You’re not taking that picture or that video sequence because you love it, you’re taking it because when it comes to the editing phase you want to have a number of choices and opportunities. You want to get rid of 90 per cent of the content and just keep the good stuff.    This writing month is fun. It’s enjoyable to write, and imagine, and as you imagine write what you are visualising, until inspiration breaks, and you need to walk around, do something different for a while, and then come back and write some more. It is pleasurable.

There is also the added dimension that you can meet other people who are doing the same thing. There are events in Lausanne and Zurich this weekend, so if you want to be with people staring at their laptops rather than their phones this is a good opportunity. ? Co-working without the financial gain.

There is another dimension to this. I want to broaden my work opportunities and one way to do this is to demonstrate that I have the ability to write well and to be concise and to write in an interesting manner. I can’t prove that with a tweet or a facebook post but if I blog frequently, and I improve my writing ability then I have more of a leg to stand on.

We’ll see what I find inspiration to write about over the coming 30 days. Now to see if I can find the motivation to experience traffic to go climbing indoors this evening.