one day at a time…
Tuesday 2 September 2003

Pix Of The Day: Pass Storming Romans v. BMW Z3s
CREDITS: 1&2 © Tim Cullis/Z3Roadster.net 3&4 © Peter A. Jones/PassBuster
MAP: Hardknott Pass When clicked, thumbnails popup image source page.
Hardknott Sign 2 © Tim CullisHardknott BMW Z3 © Tim CullisHardknott View © Peter A. JonesHardknott Sign 1 © Peter A. Jones
A few days past, in a feature about the C2C (Coast To Coast Walk), we mentioned travel writer Michael Parfit. We enjoyed the complete PDF download of his article, where we read, 'We might have imagined joining a clanking company of Roman soldiers, except they'd have shamed us. Their rate of march even in the mountains is said to have been about 18 miles in five hours. We, on the other hand, were hard pressed to go half that speed.' Completely accepting the shameful speed of modern walkers, as critical readers we wondered at the claimed speed of the Roman infantry. Abandoning protective body armor, helmets, and shields might allow a higher speed, but without swords and spears they would hardly be soldiers. Carrying weapons, and walking in sandals, is not a comfortable way to travel.

We decided to experiment: setting our cardiac rehabilitation treadmill at the claimed 3.6 miles per hour and a gradient of 10%, we walked for 5 minutes; then 5 minutes at a 5% gradient; then we did a complete repetition. After 20 minutes and 1.2 miles we were gasping for breath and streaming in sweat. Did we mention we were not carrying weapons, and had the advantage of modern footwear? Whew! If the claimed speed and distance was achieved under special circumstances by an elite unit, we are impressed. If it was routinely expected of all soldiers, we stand in awe.

During the Roman occupation of Britain in the 1st century AD, a network of roads and forts allowed the administration to control the country. Halfway up the steepest road hill in England is where one of the forts, Hardknott, was built. Hardknott Pass, in what is now the county of Cumbria, has an official gradient of 30%, though on the inside of the hairpin twists the gradient must exceed even that steepness. We began a search on the web for people who might have stormed over this pass in the years after the Romans withdrew from Britain.

Pass storming was popular with cyclists in the years between the two world wars, and Allan Nelson has an interesting page entitled 'Cycling Before Lycra'. Allan says he has two hobbies, cycling and cycling in Italy! A second great page title, 'Cumbria To Umbria' was the result; actually it was Tuscany & Umbria, but as Allan says, it does not rhyme. As we say, why let accuracy spoil a good title? We enjoyed all Allan's parents cycling memorabilia by following the links from the pass storming page.

Peter A. Jones is the Trackster Man, who has stormed all the Lakeland passes in a single day! Actually Peter did omit three passes, but as we also say, why let accuracy spoil a good headline? The site has photo features from Peter's other trips in Asia, Africa, and the USA. Peter's Lakeland route was 90 miles, so nobody can accuse him of bicycling only on smooth, flat roads.

Mark Harding of Thames Velo ('Maidenhead's Premier Road Racing Club') reports on the 2003 Fred Whitton Challenge, 'After 110 miles, 3,320 metres of ascending, I crossed the line in 8 hours 27 minutes and gained 2nd category.' He has the output graph from his onboard bicycle computer to demonstrate his prowess through the Lakeland mountains when rising to Fred's challenge. Without doubt cyclists can travel at speeds that all Roman infantrymen, and modern hikers, must envy.

Then we found a web site that shows how to storm the high passes in a way that would have brought a tear to any Roman general's eye: Tim Cullis and his fellow marque enthusiasts travel in a convoy of BMW Z3 sports tourers! Environmental purists, The Friends Of The Lake District, plus assorted individuals and organizations dedicated to restricting democratic access to their favorite places, will doubtless be having seizures by now. We were torn between outright desire for these shiny, magnificent beasts, and the understanding of the cumulative effects of motorized traffic in the district. We felt like philosophers struggling to choose between Act and Rule Utilitarianism when tempted to pick daffodils in a public park.

From Our 2002 Archive: Tudor House Museum - Monday 2 September 2002

Tudor House Museum © Frank RiddleHampshireCAM.co.uk, a weekly updated CAM site about the eponymous English county, is jointly David Packman and Frank Riddle. Today's feature picture of the Tudor House Museum in Southampton is by Frank, so in fairness I have already chosen one of David's for tomorrow's feature. The two are both former Royal Air Force photographers, who on leaving the service became civilian news cameramen.

Frank is still working as a news cameraman in the English county of Hampshire. David is retired and webmaster for their site, as well being Studio Manager and webmaster for Winchester Hospital Radio. Frank's pictures of the wonderful Bargate (a Norman gateway arch dating from 1175) reminded me of when I revisited Southampton after many years absence. This time I was driving a 32-tonne truck, and headed for the docks. I thundered down the long straight approach road ('The Avenue' known as Above Bar and Below Bar, if I remember correctly) and wheeled around the Bargate, only to find myself totally confused while making a dramatic screeching halt, because at the other side there was now a pedestrian only area!

Regular visitors to this weblog may notice three sidebar pulldown menus. You will find that the menu items lead to nineteen UK CAM sites (including HampshireCAM), four CAM sites elsewhere in the world, and three photo gallery sites. All are places I have enjoyed visiting, and more will be added through time.

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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)