Curlew Cup 2017

Every June there the Cyclone Festival of Cycling takes place in Newcastle consisting of family rides of Friday, a sportive on Saturday and women’s and men’s pro races on Sunday.

I’ve taken part in the sportive for the last few years and have always intended to head out to Stamdfordham to watch the pros without ever managing to get there. This year the weather was perfect and I wasn’t too tired after my Saturday effort so there was no excuse for missing the races.

The Curlew Cup, part of the Women’s National Road Series, was the first race of the day with roll out at 9am which meant a 7:45am start for the hour ride out to watch.  I got there in plenty of time to see the riders gathering in the centre of Stamfordham, ready for the start.

Curlew Cup 2017 Startline
The start line for the Curlew Cup in Stamfordham, 2017

Once the riders set off for the neutralised start I, and almost everyone else who had been watching, headed west to the climbs of the Ryals. The roads are usually very quiet around Ryal but today saw a long convoy of riders supports and families heading along the narrow lanes, held up behind me and another rider as we’d got away first thanks to not having to get to a car first. It was all very friendly and the convoy re-arranged itself around people on bikes as passing places allowed.

Even though it was still early it was very hot and I was glad to have smothered myself in sun cream before leaving the house. I whiled away the next 45 minutes or so chatting to other people who had turned up to watch at the steepest point of the climbs. One person had cycled from Rothbury that morning and there was someone from Bingfield, the next village along. As the time the race should be due got closer more people who had already watched it pass the norther point on the circuit arrived after cutting through the back roads.

It was possible to see the race convoy in the distance just after it passed through Hallington so there was plenty of warning of the riders arriving. The race was altogether with strong showing from Drops, WNT, OnForm and Story Racing making light work of the steepest part of the climb and leading the bunch up.

I toyed with the idea on riding up to the northern part of the circuit to see the race twice on the next lap but didn’t feel that I’d be fast enough so stayed where I was. On the second lap there was a three woman breakaway (afterwards identified as Annasley Park of Drops, Melissa Lowther of Breeze and Beth Crumpton of Story Racing).

Second climb of the Ryals
Annasley Park, Melissa Lowther and Beth Crumpton climbing the Ryals for the second time.

Once the race passed I rode back up the second Ryal (the easier one) passed lots of spectators at the official QoM line and went back to Stamfordham to catch the finish.

Back in Stamforham I met some friends who had also come out to watch the races so we found a shady spot to wait for the riders to arrive. An unsurprisingly fast finish saw Julie Erskine from onForm take the win followed by Hannah Payton from Drops and Georgina Panchaud from Bianchi. Katie Archibald won both the QoM and Points.

Curlew Cup Podium
Georgina Panchaud (3rd), Julie Erskine (1st) and Hannah Payton (2nd) on the podium.

I had intended to go home after the women’s race but decided to stick around to ‘help the local economy’ and stop for beer and ice cream with my friends. If I hadn’t have stopped I’d have missed the main drama of the day – a lorry almost driving in to the start/finish gantry shortly after the start of the men’s race. Luckily a motorist coming the other way was blocking the road and beeped at the lorry driver who stopped just in time.

Lorry/Gantry Drama
Lorry/finish gantry drama

I eventually headed home, back along the route of the last section of the previous day’s sportive beating a few of my segment times from the previous day in the process. I guess that’s the difference between having ridden 90km and having sat around for most of the day!

Total distance: 68574 m
Max elevation: 215 m
Min elevation: 1 m
Total climbing: 676 m
Total descent: -669 m

Killhope Cross and Chapel Fell

Total distance: 97036 m
Max elevation: 643 m
Min elevation: 174 m
Total climbing: 3197 m
Total descent: -3173 m
Download upgrade and Exchange ActiveSync

Microsoft recently updated the service to improve the service. As part of this they sent out message to those people connecting with Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 to alert them to the need to remove and re-add their account in order to continue using the service.

In most cases Outlook should configure the account using no more than the email address and password. However if you are using a custom domain this may not work.

Previously it was possible to connect using Exchange ActiveSync but this isn’t possible any more. If the account setup fails to work automatically it may be because you don’t have auto discover set up for you domain.

Provided you have access to change you DNS this is easy to fix by adding a CNAME with the following values:

  • Host Name: autodiscover
  • Type: CNAME
  • Address:

Once that is done you should be able to add your account to Outlook and let the automatic set up sort itself out.

If you have older versions of Outlook it might be a bit more complicated.

Going 5 minutes quicker

I’ve completed the Cyclone 100km route for three years in a row and improved dramatically each year due to experience, more practice and a new bike.

The challenge for 2015 is to shave another 5 minutes off my time to get under 4 hours. Training starts in January (weather permitting).

Cyclone 2012
Cyclone 2012
Cyclone 2013
Cyclone 2013
Cyclone 2014
Cyclone 2014

Heaton left with lowest environmental quality in the city after Quality of Life chief quits

Henri Murison, Cabinet for Quality of Life and South Heaton ward councillor, has resigned from his job as a councillor after helping author sweeping cuts to services across Newcastle in the recent budget.

The residents of South Heaton ward were left under represented at the recent budget meeting as former Councillor Murison chose to leave just before the crucial vote.

Under the stewardship of the recently departed Cabinet Member for Quality of Life and his two Labour colleagues South Heaton Ward has been ranked worst in the city for environmental factors in 2012/13.

The Local Environmental Quality Indicator, or LEQI as it’s more often know, ranks wards on a number of factors such as litter, weeds, fly tipping and dog fouling amongst others. Wards are scored three times a year and various locations within the ward are visited and assessed to generate an overall score.

The LEQI score for South Heaton ward had been rising steadily but since Labour took control of the Council in 2010 has dropped dramatically. The only ward to have a bigger drop is South Jesmond (which has seen its count of Labour councillors go for 0 to 2 in the same period).

The table below shows the scores across the city, ranked best to worst on the 2012/13 figures.

Overall LEQI Score
Ward 2007/08 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
Parklands 95.64% 96.87% 95.73% 94.46% 93.98% 93.70%
Dene 94.78% 97.90% 98.09% 98.99% 93.96% 93.62%
Westerhope 95.41% 98.45% 97.84% 97.61% 96.33% 93.18%
West Gosforth 96.61% 97.97% 97.72% 96.78% 94.48% 92.50%
Castle 93.65% 96.26% 95.77% 94.23% 92.23% 91.44%
East Gosforth 93.05% 97.68% 97.52% 97.66% 92.07% 90.92%
North Heaton 93.30% 95.86% 96.30% 93.29% 90.53% 90.50%
Fenham 93.31% 96.52% 96.98% 96.30% 92.62% 90.47%
Kenton 93.64% 95.49% 96.51% 94.66% 91.15% 89.71%
Benwell & Scotswood 83.59% 91.90% 92.54% 89.26% 88.84% 89.51%
Blakelaw 93.06% 95.78% 94.30% 94.25% 89.58% 89.30%
Newburn 94.30% 93.92% 94.19% 93.04% 92.48% 88.90%
Fawdon 86.00% 93.28% 94.36% 93.32% 90.84% 88.81%
Walkergate 92.39% 95.78% 93.26% 93.91% 90.96% 88.66%
Denton 91.26% 95.28% 97.33% 92.59% 93.14% 87.86%
Woolsington 91.36% 95.10% 94.54% 90.10% 91.39% 87.59%
Lemington 90.01% 95.72% 93.54% 89.69% 90.24% 87.38%
Walker 89.82% 94.24% 92.96% 92.54% 90.34% 87.09%
North Jesmond 96.09% 97.17% 96.20% 92.36% 86.52% 85.41%
Westgate 88.26% 94.86% 95.89% 91.81% 87.12% 85.09%
Wingrove 90.01% 94.62% 93.64% 90.54% 86.60% 83.42%
Byker 88.96% 92.13% 91.96% 92.25% 86.25% 83.42%
Elswick 89.57% 91.38% 89.86% 92.20% 84.99% 82.28%
South Jesmond 92.85% 96.53% 95.30% 93.51% 85.79% 80.97%
Ouseburn 85.28% 92.90% 92.11% 87.94% 81.68% 79.86%
South Heaton 88.04% 92.12% 89.12% 88.51% 82.53% 78.91%
Citywide Score 91.53% 95.21% 94.69% 93.04% 89.75% 87.61%

The most worrying thing about this data is it reports the state of Heaton before the recent Labour budget cut funding to sort out problems in wards.

In future the Council are likely to be more reactive than proactive so if you see problems around Heaton, or elsewhere, make sure you report them to Envirocall or use to report problems online.

No Newcastle Mayor Campaign Launched

A campaign has been started to fight against plans to have an elected mayor in Newcastle upon Tyne. On May 3rd 2012 the citizens of Newcastle will vote in a referendum to decide if the city should elect a mayor or not.

At the referendum people will be asked the following question:

“How would you like Newcastle City Council to be run?

By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.


By a mayor who is elected by voters. This would be a change from how the council is run now. “

The No Newcastle Mayor campaign has been set up to encourage people to pick the first option and send a clear message that an elected mayor is not needed in Newcastle. The website set up to support the campaign details the reasons for voting against the proposal and explains the arguments.

You can read more about the campaign at

Setup a fixed IP address

In order to setup some routers, print servers and modems you  often have to connect to them via a wired connection even if they are wireless. Some of these devices have an inbuilt DHCP server so it’s just a case of connecting a cable and you are ready.

For the devices that do not have inbuilt DHCP you may need to set up your PC to have a fixed IP address. To do this in Windows XP go to Network Connections in the Control Panel.

Find the connection you will be using to connect to your device and right click on it and choose Properties from the menu. It the dialog box that appears scroll down the list of protocols in the centre box and find Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click on the Properties button.

Network Connection Properties
Network Connection Properties

In the new window that pops up click on the radio button next to ‘Use the following IP Address’. It the IP address field enter an IP address for you machine. This should be in the same range as the device you are connecting to. For example if you are connecting to a device with an IP address of you could set this filed to be Pressing the TAB key after the last number automatically fills in the next line. If you are just setting up a device you can leave the rest of the fields blank and click OK to save all the settings.

Once you have finished setting up your device you can set you connection back to automatic by repeating the steps  above and choosing the ‘Obtain IP address automatically’ option. You will also need to choose the ‘Obtain DNS server address automatically’ at the bottom of the page.

Increasing message size limits in Microsoft Exchange 2007

By default Exchange 2007 with Service Pack 1 has a number of limits set that restricts the size of messages that can be received to 10MB.

To see what the current limit is open the Exchange Management Shell (found in Start->All Programs->Microsoft Exchange 2007) and enter the command: get-transportconfig

This will show you a list of settings and the current limits, for example MaxReceiveSize. To change a value you can type the command: set-transportconfig -maxreceivesize 30

That would set the MaxReceiveSize to 30MB.

You may also need to tcheck to properties of the receive connectors in the Exchange MMC Snap in. Go to Exchange -> Server Configuration – Hub Transport and view the properties of one or each of the connectors. On the general tab is a setting for the maximum message size.

In addition to the checking the setting of the Internet send connector may solve any problems. This is found under Exchange -> Organisation Configuration -> Hub Transport. Again view the properties of the connector to see the Maximum Message Size setting.

Connect a PlayStation3 to Windows Media Centre

In order to play music stored on you PC (Windows XP Vista or Windows 7) you need to have Media Player 11 installed. If you don’t already have it you can get it for free from Microsoft.

Once you have Media Player 11 installed make sure your Play Station 3 is turned on connected to your network. On your PC open Media Player and got to the Library tab. Click on the small arrow at the bottom of the tab to display the menu.

From the menu click on the “Media Sharing…” option and a new box will open on the screen. Tick the box next to “Share my media to:”. In the box below you should see an Unknown Device which should be your Play Station 3. Click on that device and then click “Allow” and you should be all set up.

To access the music just go to the Music menu on your Play Station 3 and you should see an entry for your PC. If your music is stored in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format you need to enable WMA playback in the settings menu of your Play Station 3.

Zoom X6 ADSL modem Default IP Address and Set up

I recently had to help a friend set up a Zoom X6 ADSL modem router and had a few initial problems connecting to the web interface.  The main problem turned out to be that the inbuilt DHCP server is turned off by default.

The default IP address for the Zoom X6 ADSL modem router is

Although it does have a built in DHCP server this doesn’t seem to be on by default so you will need to set the IP address the computer you use to connect manually to something in the same range ( for example).

The default user name is admin and password is zoomadsl.