French Bloke Runs

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Tag: Rollerblading

The Muslim Runner and other regulars

Some time ago, I talked about the regulars I meet in my morning runs, and how it compares to regulars in a pub. Well, like with pubs, I don’t go to just one and I meet other regulars on my other everyday route: the one I do rollerblading (yes, I’m unfaithful to running).

Rollerblade in London photo by IanVisits

Rollerblade in London (it’s not me) photo by IanVisits

Unfortunately, on this route there aren’t many other rollerbladers – I only met 3 or 4 others since a year and a half I’m going from Greenwich to Farringdon on eight wheels – and I think I’m the only one doing it several times a week.

Look at me bragging! I actually didn’t start blading to earn bragging rights, but only because I’ve loved it for more than twenty years. But I realised it looks somewhat cool and quite often there are people turning their heads and children shouting their surprise and admiration, which kinds of pumps me up when it happens. Kudos to all children I can inspire!

Don’t get me wrong, I also get a lot of abuse, especially from drivers who are pissed off that I use cycle lanes (why they care, I don’t know) or the road. I once even received a string of insults from a Spanish cyclist on a Boris Bike who said I was dangerous because I was too slow ; how ironic when you know that cyclists on Boris Bikes are notoriously dangerous in London and thatI go faster than them more often than not. But cyclists are generally supportive, especially since I wear protective, reflective and hi-vis gear like them.

Apart from the lovers (gonna love) and the haters (gonna hate), there are other people I come across very regularly. Most mornings, I can see the Muslim Runner going the other way. I have a lot of respect for him (especially since I run myself) because he’s quite old, he’s always running with some kind of a large tunic and he’s always there, on the Thames Path.

There’s the big bearded and tattooed cyclist (I should say biker) whom I cross almost systematically under the greenwich foot tunnel. It’s funny, because he looks like such a rebel but he’s wearing a bright yellow hi-vis vest and he’s very kind – he always holds the lift’s doors and has friendly words. I like this contrast.

You should know that I meet Santa Claus quite often as well. This one has a bright yellow hi-vis jacket rather than a big red coat, he’s riding a Brompton folding bike rather than a sleigh, and he’s fitter, but the long white beard is exactly the same so I’m sure it’s him. Shame I don’t have a picture to show you, I should think of taking one when I skate through Greenwich University.

Along the Thames, in Sir McDougall Gardens, there’s the Tai Chi Lady. She’s an asian granny who was also there every morning, repeating very slow and precise martial arts movements, but I haven’t seen her since last fall. I hope it’s only because it was too cold and that I’ll see her again soon.

Finally, there’s the occasional fox that I cross if I’m lucky. I love seeing them, they’re beautiful animals and surprisingly numerous in London! I’ve even heard there’s a lady-fox and her cubs somewhere on my route, by I’ve never managed to see them…

Rollerblade morning commute

I feel lazy this week, so I’ll just show you a video I made last year. I’ve already mentioned that I sometimes go to work on rollerblades (less and less, since I run more and more). So I asked Draculito to lend me his GoPro and here’s the result:

I think this is a pretty awesome commute and I always love doing it !

Test: synchronise your running apps with Tapiriik

The issue

I will guess that you’re like me. I have several friends who run and each of these bastards use a different running app, which is a real pain in the neck because I can’t run with five different apps at the same time. For example, I have an Endomondo account just to follow a couple of old friends in France and to participate in UKRunChat‘s challenges. Besides, I used to tracks my runs with Runkeeper where I have other old friends, then switched to Strava where I have newer friend.  Then I switched again to Garmin since I bought my Forerunner 225 but I still use Runkeeper when I rollerblade to work. So I needed to have all my activities on all these apps.

That fragmentation of the data and of the people is a real shame, because the social aspect of these apps is a great source of motivation (more about that in a future post). Also, each app shows the data in a different way, and it’s pretty cool to see the same activity from different angles. So I had a real need for synchronisation of all my data.

The choice

I found several ways of doing this:

  • Specific connectors between 2 platforms (e.g. TomTom has a connector to Runkeeper). This solution works if you have only 2 apps, but if you have 4 or 5 apps to synchronise, it becomes really messy and you’ll end up with some runs synchronised twice. Besides, some connectors simply don’t exist.
  • CopyMySport: I never managed to get this one working, so I concluded it is shit. Next!
  • SyncMyTracks: Really cool looking Android app, it even has a Runtastic connector, which is rare. But I couldn’t test the sync before buying it, so I didn’t test it. Also, this wouldn’t help iPhone owners. Who knows, I may try it in the future.
  • Tapiriik: My app of choice for synchronisation!
Tapiriik running sync

Tapiriik running sync – Original photo by Maurizio Pesce


I like lists and bullet points, so here’s the list of the “pros”:

  • Really easy to use and to connect your apps.
  • Has connectors for all my apps and even more (the guy who developed it is probably more of a bike nut than a runner).
  • Totally free for manual synchronisations and without any limitation with regards to the number of activities to synchronise, or the number of apps you want to synchronise.
  • Synchronisation is done server side and is automatic if you go for the paid version, so you don’t have to remember to sync after each run.

And for the “cons”, they all derive from the fact that it looks like Tapiriik is made by a lone developer in his garage:

  • No connector for Runtastic, TomTom, FitBit, Polar, Suunto, Nike+, and probably a bunch of other apps.
  • This app is rarely maintained, so if there’s a new app, you probably won’t have the connector. And chances are, the apps listed above will never have a connector either.
  • If the server is down, it can take a long time to come up again. The synchronisation may not happen for up to a couple of days, because the guy is on his own to support it.
  • A little bit annoying: my rollerblade activities tracked on Runkeeper are synchronised as “ice skating” on Strava.

All in all, I think that Tapiriik is a very good solution. But if you have some experience with SyncMyTracks, please share!

Urban Pac-Man, a running game

Like everyone I have dirty secrets and you’re about to discover one of them: I created a geeky game based on running back when I hated running. OK, I can see I’ve lost you, so let’s get back to 2004. In New York, a bunch of students created Pac-Manhattan, “a large-scale urban game that utilizes the New York City grid to recreate the 1980’s video game sensation Pac-Man”. Jack of all trades and me fell in love with the concept and waited for the Yankees to release their software so we could play too. But the software never came out and life went by.

In 2007, I reactivated the project and decided to develop the software myself. I gathered a dozen lunatics and we created Pacmanalyon. Even though we were not runners, we took over the streets of Lyon, where I lived at the time. I won’t get into the specifics of the rules (you can find everything on the website), you just have to know that Pac-Man has to roam through all the streets in the boundaries of the map in order to make the highest score. Of course, he should avoid being touched by ghosts, and when he eats a power pellet, he gets to be the hunter and has a chance to score even more by eating the ghosts. Yes, it’s basically grown-ups playing tag. We just ran faster, and dressed up in silly costumes.

Pac-Man Lyon - Photo Brice Robert

Pac-Man Lyon – Photo courtesy of Brice Robert (all rights reserved)

The trick is that each runner is remotely guided via mobile phone. Don’t forget this was made in the early 2000’s, so there’s no GPS or smartphone app involved. This was resolutely low-tech and the controllers communicated all the info from the HQ via good old Nokia phones. If I had to do it again nowadays, I’d do exactly the same thing because half the fun of the game is the communication between HQ and the runners. The other half is running, when you’re able to (which wasn’t my case at the time).

Have a look at the video that Music Daddy made with the footage I shot on my rollerblades, and laugh at me:

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