Clumps are now clusters

After a very active discussion on the Ride Every Tile Strava club (first one I’ve seen with 100 comments actually), it is great to see we have a solution to the “impossible-to-visit squares” problem. And that solution is “max cluster”. The idea of a maximum cluster is very similar to the idea of “max clump” described earlier on this blog . In fact the algorithm is the same, it is just the name that has improved. Although I am biased because I played a role in their creation, I do think clumps are a reasonable solution to the impossible squares problem because

  • No matter how many impossible squares you have, you can join the max clump game. In the worst case you pay a “fine” of 5 points for not visiting a square, and if there are a number of unvisitables next to each other, the cost per square works out less than 5.
  • The cluster metric adapts to whatever topology is in your area. If there’s a coastline that does go north/south or east/west, you can make a pretty pattern by visiting everywhere along the coasts.
  • The max square score is a very slow-growing score (like Eddington number it grows with the square root of effort) so it requires long-term patience to increase. The max cluster on the other hand brings more instant gratification.
  • Even if max square is working out nicely for you, it is still another thing to look at VeloViewer.
  • As a bonus, the map UI in VeloViewer has become much more sophisticated (details at Ben’s post here). Amongst other things, you can see cluster and visited-squares colour the same if you want to, recovering the old UI.


Using the new flexible UI to show the damage the Squarpocalypse has done!

A further bonus is that some of Ben’s legions of followers on Twitter/Facebook have been attracted Ride Every Tile, and we now have over 180 members (from about 40 two weeks ago). And with that influx, there’s been some great new ideas. In particular “Half-Fast” Mike who rides in and around Tokyo has shared a great idea for getting squares to be displayed on your Garmin Edge as you are out and about – increasing the chances that you will actually bag all the squares you hope to bag on a ride – full details here

Finally, the race to recover lost squares following the Squarpocalypse has heated up. I dragged myself out of bed (again) to do a very similar route to the last time I dragged myself out of bed (ride report here for that one ) except this time I would bag the four squares that I had missed. Despite leaving home 12 minutes later than target (4.42am) I reached work at 8.04am, four minutes later than target – traffic lights aren’t always more red than you think they ought to be. This got me back to 32×32. At the time of writing this actually third on the leaderboard, but the situation is very fluid.

As always, there was something unexpectedly pretty or interesting on a squares ride… I had to loop round the South Mimms services to bag a square just outside Potters Bar. Service stations are normally pretty awful places (Sartre wasn’t talking about services when he said “L’enfer, c’est les autres” but the phrase always comes to mind) and South Mimms, at the junction of the M1 and M25 is pretty typical so it was lovely to discover that the village of South Mymms has many centuries of history and a church that dates to 1136. As usual I regret not stopping to get photos – some at

Strava link for the ride:






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