Pretty clusters

It’s been six months since the max cluster metric was developed as a more general way of scoring explorers than the original max square. It’s interesting to see how max clusters are different from max squares. Here are I look at the current top 7 (as recorded at VeloViewer) max clusters.

In the pictures below, blue tiles are part of the max cluster. Red tiles are also visited tiles, but are not part of the cluster.

All the riders listed here have made their data public on VeloViewer so I hope it is ok to showcase it here. If not let me know and I will remove it. The open maps and data are copyright to Thunderforest and the OpenStreetMap contributors

7th: Chris White, Switzerland – Cluster size 4,180 squares

CW

Chris’s max cluster is truly impressive. To appreciate the scale of this map (it is zoomed out compared to the ones below), realise that Lake Geneva in the middle-left of this picture is 70km long! The cluster is well into the French Alps on south-western corner, covers almost the entire Swiss Plateau and touches into Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein. I estimate the width of the cluster to be about 400km.

Zooming in on Chris’s VeloViewer activities page shows many many up-and-down ride – the term plateau does not give justice to the effort required for many of these squares!

I’m not surprised to learn Chris’s own website is called RideFar.info.

6th:  Koos Woestenburg, Netherlands, 5,408 clustered squares

KW

Like Chris, Koos is someone who has benefit from the addition of max cluster alongside max square. Hailing from De Rijp, Koos is trapped by the North Sea to the north and west and the North Holland lakes to the east. This hasn’t stopped him from creating a cluster that snakes deep into Belgium, covering Ghent and Bruges to the west and also hugs the Netherlands/Germany border all the way to Aachen. Northwards, the cluster doesn’t end ’til Groningen. Little pockmarks throughout the thickest part of the cluster suggest that the Netherlands’ famous dykes, canals and dams do make some squares inaccessible.

5th:  Eric Nichols, New England, United States, 5,498 clustered squares

EN

I love how Eric’s cluster follows the shape of the Atlantic seaboard from way up in Maine to the south-side of Boston. A single solitary missing square sullies an otherwise great swathe of blue. I think this is actually a VeloViewer glitch! When I look at Eric’s summary I see a max square of 39×39, but in the overall leaderboard he is credited with 62×62 – the difference being whether this square (mostly an American Air Force Base) is coloured or not. I understand Eric has nabbed this square… the blocker for his max square now is a private game reserve covering multiple squares. Even if this proves impossible to visit, the max cluster can continue to grow.

4th: Phill Cloke, South-east England, 5,673 clustered squares

PC

Phill Cloke’s cluster follows the south coast of England from Southampton all the way to Margate before covering the whole of London and ranging almost to Oxford. What is all the more incredible is that nearly all Phill’s rides are round trips from his home near Sevenoaks (many of his rivals will do one-way rides use transport to another starting point) To achieve this, it becomes normal to see 300km+ rides popping up on your Strava feed if you follow Phill.

3rd: Jonathan France: South-east and Midlands of England: 6,022 clustered squares

JF

Jonathan France has an interesting cluster. He’s clearly aimed at creating a max square centred roughly on south-west London, but then on top of that has another base up towards the source of the Thames. Many century rides between the two bases have covered almost every conceivable route between making a huge band across the whole of Middle England. I know from my own exploring that the area between Basingstoke and Winchester is not too hard to fill; Jonathan is my quiet tip for the first non-Belgian leader in the max square and cluster stakes.

2nd Nils Oudejans: Belgium: 7,742 clustered squares:

NO

Nils’ max cluster shows that he has pretty much covered Belgium. What is scary to me is that the north-west section is so methodically filled it. It is clear that he is not content to sit still at 78×78 in the max square. Ride by ride he is preparing the ground for a huge increase in square size. This square is well over 10,000 square km already!

Leader: Dominique: Belgium: 8,109 clustered squares

DOBut our leader, Dominique, incredibly, has put four hundred more squares into his cluster even than Nils. The pair of them are taking advantage of Belgium’s dense road network and lack of natural boundaries to rack a huge max square. Dominique has poked a little further in all directions than Nils. But Dominique, what happened to that one solitary missing square at Alt Hoeselt?

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9 thoughts on “Pretty clusters”

  1. I just stumbled across your blog for the first time and so wasn’t expecting to see the first image on it be my cluster! Thanks a lot. As you mention, even the flatter parts of Switzerland aren’t very flat compared to most other regions. That causes most of my tile rides to be complex 3-dimensional puzzles that have to be optimized in multiple ways. I love the challenge.
    My 2017 ride report contains some info about extending my cluster (https://ridefar.info/reports/summaries/2017-summary/). My best trip of 2017 involved extending my cluster over the northern French Alps and getting it into Italy via the Petit St Bernard pass, see this post which includes my video of Alpine gravel biking: https://ridefar.info/2017/10/exploring-french-alps-haute-savoie-savoie/.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and cool view of the clusters, ok if i link to your post? I was just putting together a blog with screenshots of the veloviewer leaderboards just to see how the comming year progressed. Would love to get into the top 10 of clusters and sqs but love travelling too much to make that a priority. Going all out to keep my all time tile total up there though 😉

    Like

  3. I’m really enjoying your blog. May I claim (for now) the national record for Japan – Max Square 44×44? I suspect my max cluster of 2,444 is also the biggest in Japan, but at #29 I can’t tell for sure. I shall redouble my efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

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