Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Guest Writers Wanted

I'm looking for guest writers for my blog, have you got a story you want to share?
Where's the best place you've cycled to?
What's your greatest achievement? How did you do it?
What great things are you going to do this year?

I don't mind if you're a fellow blogger, I'm happy to add links back to your own blog, or someone who's got a great message but doesn't know how to share it.

It doesn't have to be cycling related but needs to be funny, motivational or inspiring. No sales pitches please.

I'm doing this to boost the content on this blog as I don't always have the time or ideas to post as often as I would like.
I will have the final say in what I post but I won't do any editing without your permission.
The ideal length would be so that it only takes a few minutes to read, if it is longer I might post it in two parts.

I'm not asking for anything in return, I just think we can learn from everyone if we are ready to just listen.

"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on."
Louis L'Amour

Email me your stories

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Review of my 2014

Looking back it's been a good year for cycling. 
190 miles more than last year (the table includes my short lived affair with running). It is just dampened a bit by the last couple of months due to injury.

Drive or Ride?

The figures clearer show which month we got our second car. 
In January to March I had little choice but to cycle to work, but in April I had a choice and I'm ashamed to admit it I chose the car more often than I should have. It is mad that I cycled to work more in March that I did in the nicer summer months.


The best ride has to be the BHF Goodwood Ridecheck the link for more details, where I got to ride with family and friends around Goodwood race track. They haven't released dates for the event this year, but we're keen to do it again.

The next best was the one around the Isle of Wight. It is my longest ride to date at 85 miles and it was a great day out.

I did manage to go out for a few rides with my brother, one was up in Dulwich Park on Banana Bikes. 

This was considerably nicer than the cliff he tried to get me up. 
It was a short road in north Devon, I don't know how the tarmac stuck to the hill it was that steep. I had to stop and walk, it wasn't just my legs screaming at me, even my ears were hurting.

And then the wheels came off

In November I decided to do some weight training to help with my power to weight ratio. I started doing the Stronglifts 5x5 program where you add a small amount of weight each workout.
It was all going well till my right knee went wrong, so I decided to rest up to give it a chance to get better. This obviously effected my monthly figures for November and December.
It is still a bit sore but nearly right, and I got bored and started cycling which hasn't made it worse.
My brother suggested trying some yoga, especially the pigeon pose. 

This is what it is meant to look like

But this is probably more how I look at the moment.

It does seem to working, but it has highlighted how inflexible I am, especially on my right side.

The scales of justice

I weighed myself for the first time in two months on January 1st and I've gone up to 121kg, from 111kg at my lowest last year. 
I wasn't that surprised as I've had a relaxed Christmas, but the build up wasn't helped by being injured.
Now I know I should have kept doing some sort of exercise, it was only my knee that was sore, but I was really enjoying doing the squats and dead-lifts so got a bit fed up and did nothing instead.


I still think getting down to sub 100kg is still possible, it is less than half a kilo a week which is achievable.

I'm going to cycle into work as much as possible, just need to man up more often.
I plan to do a 50 mile bike ride at least once a month.
I will go to the gym at work Monday, Wednesday and Friday as long as I am in the office on those days.

Paleo or not Paleo, that is the question?

Whatever the answer, diet is the most important part of losing weight. 
You can't out train a bad diet. 
An average cyclist will burn about 600 calories an hour, that is the same as a 6" pizza, and who eats one that small?

If you're ensure the Paleo diet is going back to eating like a caveman, so meat and vegetables. Two people at work have lost a lot of weight but it just feels a bit too extreme for me. I have also suffered from gout so I am concerned about eating too much meat.

I do agree with the basics that we eat too much processed foods, so I'm going to try to cut out bread and pasta, which did make up a large part of my diet. However I am going to still eat rice and potatoes, which aren't on their lists, but much smaller portions. I will also try alternatives like quinoa as it a good source of protein and fewer carbs and calories than rice.

It is more of a change of mindset, I still eat how I did when I was playing rugby and carbs were in fashion.

This year I'm going for a balanced diet of natural foods and be more active.

As always thanks for your comments and support.

I hope that 2015 is all that you want it to be.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

How far have you come?

2 years ago it felt like it nearly killed me, but now I realise it is completely the opposite!

Yesterday as I was walking out to the garage for an easy bike ride along the coast I suddenly changed my mind and decided to go up Portsdown Hill to Fort Nelson.
I then decided to see how far I have come in the last two years.

February 2012

Haribo Joe had finally convinced me to go for a bike ride with him and let me choose the route. I decided to push myself my going up Portsdown Hill which overlooks Portsmouth. I wanted to keep it interesting for him as he was doing a lot of cycling at the time.

It is a 12 mile round trip, with a "mountain" to climb to get to the half way point.

The total time was 1 hour 47, but the total riding time was 1 hour 22. I needed a very good rest at the top of the hill. This is where my profile photo was taken.

I came back a broken man.

But is was the start.

October 2014

I have done the route in 54:45 so I knew I had to really push it to beat this time. I really focused on getting back up to speed after junctions etc.

"It never gets easier, you just faster."

It hurt!

Normally when I get back into Stubbington I ease off to cool down, but not this time I was pushing all the way as I had a time to beat.

My time was 53:00!
This is the segment on Strava for more details Fort Nelson Segment

While looking at the results it did hit me that I have cycled from fat to fit as the title of the blog promises.

That first ride didn't nearly kill me, it started me on a great journey to become a lot fitter.

As you can see I have started running.

I decided to do this as I wanted to mix things up. Cycling is great but you are stuck in one position all the time, not working all the stabilising muscles.

I'm doing the couch to 5k program, using the NHS podcasts. The music is very cheesy but it is simple, you don't have to worry about timings.
You run a bit and then walk a bit and repeat, doing the same run 3 times a week and then the next week the amount of running increases a bit.

The first two weeks went ok, but it stirred things up in my hips/pelvis where I have had previous issues. 
I expected this and should have done a lot more stretching to compensate.

On Friday afternoon my right ankle started hurting and I could hardly walk, but I knew with a lot of stretching it would be sorted. Saturday it was feeling a lot better, Sunday is was nearly right.

However I was so focused on sticking to the plan of doing 3 runs a week that I went for a run on Sunday when I really shouldn't have.
It was also the first run of week 3, with quite a big jump up in the amount of running.
It was feeling ok, but then I felt something go.
Yes I should have stopped and walked home, but for some stupid reason I didn't which probably made it worse.

It is on the mend, and I will repeat some if not all of week 2 again when it is ready. There is no rush.

My weight is stuck at 112.5kg.
My heaviest was 134kg, so I am really pleased with a loss of over 21kg, but I need to lose more.
I'm going to start using the MyFitnessPal app seriously again to track my food, and even look at reducing carbs as I do know they make up too much of my calorie intake.

I'm in a much better place than I was two years ago, what will the next two years bring?

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

BHF Goodwood 2014

"Bike ride on my birthday, yeah"

Now if I had said this it would be a good thing, unfortunately it was my daughter's views about doing the BHF Goodwood 2014 ride on her birthday.
Not impressed having to exercise on her eleventh birthday.

Tough, we're doing it.

The ride is something I had read about where you can ride around the famous motor circuit at Goodwood to raise money for BHF. It hasn't happened for a few years so most of us were pleased to see it was happening again.

We managed to get 3 other families signed up so there were 8 adults and 7 kids.

This is my poor effort at photo editing for the Just Giving page. I got bored.

As it was Lilly's birthday, and she was soo keen, we didn't want to get up too early so we got there at 11.
On the way over Lilly said she would aim to do 4 laps of the 2.4 mile circuit, but wouldn't enjoy it!

The event starts at 10 so it was already busy with cyclists of all shapes, sizes and ages whizzing around the track.
They ranged from athletes on time trial bikes and pointy helmets to toddlers with stabilizers.

So we set up our Feed Station and then set off.

As you can imagine it is a beautiful surface to cycle on, no pot holes, lovely sweeping bends and no #bloodymotorists.

We all settled in to our own rhythm, doing laps with different people at different speeds. Stopping for a drink and a feed and then carrying on when ready.

We made the mistake of taking a BBQ, wasted cycling time!

I did a couple of fast laps with Chris and Richie. It was great to be able tuck in behind someone without having worry about them swerving to miss something. We got some good speeds.

I also did some great laps with Lilly. The whole event really helped her confidence on a bike, she actually learnt how to ride no handed.
There was one lovely corner, slightly downhill with the wind behind you where you could really get some speed up.
On one lap Lilly and I decided to go for it and she got up to 24mph which she was really pleased about.

My wife Kate, had suddenly decided she could bake and made some amazing scones for a nice cream tea. She also brought Lilly's favourite, profiteroles which meant we had the best Feed Station ever.

Team Sky could learn a thing or two!

The track closes at 4 so there was a mad rush to get in an extra lap. They did let one person do an extra lap so that he could break the 100 mile mark for the day.

Between us we did about 500 miles with some impressive distance covered by the kids.

I only did 15 laps. Part of me wishes I had done more but then I loved the laps I did with Lilly, it was real quality time together which we both needed.

On the drive home I asked Lilly how she did against her target. She did 11 laps or 26.4 miles and she actually enjoyed it and wants to do more laps next year!

It is a geat event, really well organised with all the support you'd expect. Yes you are going round in circles but the views are nice and we were lucky enough to see a WW2 plane take off and land a few times.

We are planning to do it again next year but aim to get there earlier so we can smash our distances.

The is the link to the girls Just Giving Page if you would like to support BHF.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Five Ferries And A Lot Of Hills!

Which jacket should I take?

This is what was running through my head at 4 o'clock in the morning, listening to the rain hammer down. In the end I should have been worried about what factor sunscreen to wear.

This was the morning of Saturday 12th June, the day we had chosen to tackle the Isle of Wight.
At first it was just myself and Chris, but then Nick, his brother, and Ritchie signed up for the pain as well.

Chris is mad
At the end of last year he started joining me for rides and we were equally matched. Only problem was that he was only on an old mountain bike. He then stopped feeding his kids for a few months so he could buy a new road bike.
Things aren't so equal any more.
He now loves hills, so much so that he decided to do the Strava climbing challenge in one day. This involved going up and down the same hill 25 times for 7 hours for a little badge on Strava.

Nick rides an old mountain bike, things are equal at the moment.

I hadn't ridden with Ritchie before but I knew he was pretty fit so I wasn't expecting much equality here.

It worked out quite well on the ride. We stuck together most of the time but every now and then Chris and Ritchie would shoot off, leaving myself and Nick to plod along, which was to our advantage at one stage .

The Grand Depart

We met at 8 and set off to Gosport to catch the first of our five ferries. We were worried about extra numbers of festival goers on the Portsmouth to Fishbourne ferry but once we had got past the Hi-viz Hitler we sailed on.
It was on the ferry that the clockwise/anticlockwise discussion started. Apparently Ritchie struggles turning right.
We decided to follow Chris's new garmin, a bit of a mistake.

We disembarked and set of up the first of many hills.
At the top of the hill, at the lights the signposts said right but Chris and his garmin were shouting left, so we went left.
I had been advised not to go into Ryde as it is tricky to get out of but I hadn't mentioned this to Chris and his garmin route started from and more importantly finished at Ryde.
So we followed Chris down into Ryde where his garmin congratulated us for completing the course. He couldn't work out how to start it again, to be honest we didn't give him much chance, only a load of abuse.

We then decided to go low tech.
Keep the sea on our left and guess.

I wish I had studied a map before hand so I had some sort of idea of where we were but all I know is that it is a great place to cycle.
There are some good climbs but you are rewarded with stunning views.
The roads are all in pretty good condition and on the whole traffic free. I'm sure the official route is even quieter, maybe next time.

Boys will be boys

At one stage Chris and Ritchie felt the need for speed and shot off. Like responsible adults Nick and I told them to follow the signs.

As we were going along I suddenly saw a sign telling us to turn left. It was half way down a nice long gentle slope, the sort of slope down which you could really go for it.
Straight away we knew they would have missed the turning.

Do we phone them and wait or carry on and let them catch us up?

After about an hour and a few phone calls they finally caught us up.
They had got lost again.

We then stopped for lunch at The Sun Inn in Hulverston. We had gone nearly forty miles by then so we all needed it. Good honest pub food.

Must we?

This is how we all felt getting back on our bikes after lunch. It was tough.
Luckily it was quite a gentle stretch to start with but then you get onto Military Road where the road snakes along the side of a cliff.
Amazing views but a lot of climbing.

Someone then had the great idea to "pop" down to the Needles. Stranglely even though you are heading to the end of the Island it is up hill.
Even stranger is that it is up hill on the way back.

Once again our lack of planning cost us.
We knew the route tooks us along the coast from Yarmouth to Cowes so we ignored the signs taking us inland. Little did we know that the official route cut back across the road we chose.
I got a sudden burst of energy and went to the front and pushed on, dropping Chris and Nick. I don't know where it came from but it didn't last. If it wasn't for a big bag of jelly babies I would have been in trouble.

The road we chose took us into Newport and then down to Cowes. It was busy, boring and up hill.

We had a nice wait for the Cowes chain ferry, which is free for pedestrians and cyclists so it gave us a chance to re-group for the final, up hill stretch to Fishbourne.

Once again Chris and Ritchie shot off, but when we got to the port there was a ferry ready to leave but no Ritchie.
He's a nice bloke but I wasn't going to wait for him.
Luckily he turned up just in time.

After another long sit down on the ferry we had to cycle back from Gosport. I've done the 7 mile route loads of times but this was the hardest.

Nearly an ice bath!

Ritchie did text me later that evening with some advice as I had been suffering from cramp.
He recommended drinking 3 or 4 lires of water.
Unfortunately it was a bit late, I was already on the cidre by then!

Would I do it again?

But I would be a bit more prepared and follow the signs.

The total ride was 85 miles. Strava shows 95 as it includes the ferries. 14 of the miles are to and from Gosport this side. It is a lovely place to cycle. Fairly quite roads, challenging hills but rewarding views.

I hope you get a chance to give it a go!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The merry month of May

It's been a good month for cycling, I hit the 1000 mile mark for the year.
Last year I had only done 686 miles by the end of May so I should be able to smash last year's total.

I had a nice ride out with Fareham Wheelers with Chris.
We cycled out to Wickham for the start and then opted for the slower social group as I wasn't feeling that strong. Unfortunately someone had a spill very early on so it was a slow start, but eventually, when assured she was alright we set off again.
It was a lovely day and route with a good group of fellow rides all similar speeds, apart from Chris, who should really be in the intermediate group. He made the classic mistake of flying up a hill only to realise that he should have turned left half way up, he'll learn.
It was my first club ride of the year, and as if by magic it was the Chairman's Cupcake ride, where we were treated to a nice selection of cakes when we got back to the Community Centre.
I do need to push myself and join the faster social group, I know I will be fine.

I also tried my hand a "cyclo-cross" with out great results.
My daughter goes to Scouts and they were doing an evening bike ride so I agreed to be a parent helper thinking it would be a nice ride along the seafront, so I turned up on my normal bike. However when they did announce the route is was anything but a road ride.
We basically tried to ride across a lump of clay, which proceeded to stick to every part of my bike, and ended up ripping off the mud guards. It was so slippy that at times I thought I was on rollers, pedalling like mad but not actually moving.
Once I had calmed down and realised that my bike would be ok I have to agreed with my daughter that it was the "funniest and muddiest bike ride" I had every been on.

The mileage could have been a lot higher but we now have two cars, so I always have the option to drive to work, and I only cycled in 6 times. I had quite a few meetings to go to so couldn't ride in on those days, but it is still a poor effort. I always feel so much better when I do cycle in, especially in the evening after the ride home, I seem to have more energy.

On a lot of the days I didn't cycle in I did manage to go to the gym at work to make up for it and have been shown a new method of self torture, the Deck of Cards Workout.
You choose 4 exercises and assign each one to a suit from a deck of cards.

Mine were
Press up                                Hearts
Sit ups                                   Diamonds
Kettle Bell swings                Clubs
Kettle Bell squats                 Spades

Then you turn over the card to see how many of which exercise to do, for example 8 of Spades is 8 Kettle Bell squats. I did it so that picture cards count as 10 and Aces as 11. It is completely random so you can have a few easy goes or a lot of picture cards in a row. You end up doing 95 of each exercise and takes about 30 minutes. You can choose almost any exercise, with or without weights and can be done in a very small space. I use an app on my phone to deal the cards.

The weight has been fairly stable, moving slightly in the right direction, but I haven't been overly focused on it. I still need to get back in the routing of using MyFitnessPall app everyday, as that does help. Clothes are starting to feel a bit looser, and I'm nearly on the next hole on my belts. I've also got a lot of comments from people saying how much I've lost, which is good for the motivation.

As always thanks for everyone's support and good luck with your journeys, wherever they may be taking you.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned!

It has been 4 months since my last post and in that time I have driven my car to work instead of cycling.
What should be my penance?

Since November we've only had one car but at the start of the April we got another one so I've now got two options for commuting.
I have to admit it but I have taken the car a few times.

To make matters worse April was meant to be #30daysofbiking where a lot of people are cycling everyday for a month however not me.
I've had my shortest month of the year with only 162 miles.

I knew about the challenge in March and thought about giving it a go but looking at the calendar I knew there were going to be a few difficult days. I knew I was going up to see my brother and his family for a few days in London. Due to car issues I wasn't planning on taking my bike. I did end up taking my bike to London and went on some great rides with Pete, more about that later.
Therfore I decided not to even bother joining the challenge.

My next excuse is that my knee went wrong again.
I finally relented and joined Tony "Boot Camp" Busby for a workout in the gym at work.
It was brutal!
Unsurprisingly it stirred things up in my pelvic area, which I've twisted out of place playing rugby years ago.
When this happens I usually get a sore knee and I have to spend a few days on my foam roller.
This time it has lasted for a few weeks and this has restricted my cycling, or more accurately giving me another excuse.
It is getting better and I will do more boot camps with Tony as I need to build my core strength.

London calling

As mentioned I did take my bike up to London when visiting my brother and we went for a nice couple of rides.
One of the was along the Thames Path and we had some lovely views.

We also took out some banana bikes which were great fun.

While in London we had to do the tourist bit and saw the changing of the guards and then had some fun in Hamleys.
On the trip we were lucky enough to see one of the yellow Boris bikes.

The first of many!

Later on in the month we managed to take advantage of the surprisingly good bank holiday Monday weather and organised a bike ride with 3 other families along the Hayling Billy. It is a old railway track running up one side of Hayling Island.

Le Grand Depart.

We parked at the beach and after the 7 mile round trip had the first bbq of the year on the beach.

Weight for it!

I had a great start to the year losing 4kg taking me down to 110kg.
But the scales have got stuck.
I need to lose one more kg to have lost 25kg in total.

I have being using the MyFitnessPal app on and off for the last few months. I do need to use it everyday as it is a powerful tool.
One thing I've noticed is that I'm relying too much on exercise to hit my calorie goal. The problem is when I don't exercise I eat too many calories for any weight loss.
Therefore I'm going to focus on sticking to my target by eating less and using the extra calories from exercise as the icing on the cake.

My main area to focus on is portion size, so no more seconds.

Sounds easy........