Progress so far...

June 30th 2009 - 22 stone 4Ibs. Current weight - 17 stone 1Ib. Weight loss - 5 stone 3Ibs. Commuting miles - 3389.
Non commuting miles - 359. Mileage this week - 101 miles. Total mileage - 3748 miles.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

My Marin East Peak MTB.

No pedal today, so I thought I'd do a "My bike" feature. Today it's my Marin East Peak full suspension MTB. This will be a short lived feature I think, as I've already done my commuter and I have only 2 bikes in my stable! Hmm, what can I sell?

It's looking a bit dirty here as this pic was taken on my first off road ride since I've been back pedalling.

It is equipped with Rock Shox forks, definately a bit primitive now as they are about 10 years old, just like the rest of the bike. But they do the job. I had to upgrade the rear shock when I had the bike to cope with a MTBer who was slightly heavier than the norm.

It is fitted with pretty much all round XT groupset, although the Avid V brakes do a job as well as their Shimano equivalents. I have never ridden on disc brakes so I can't comment on if I'll be doing a conversion a bit down the road.

The wheels are Mavic rims, the best for doing trailside puncture repairs in my opinion. Wifey's bike has Ritchey rims and they are a bastard to change a tyre on. You always end up puncturing the tube when levering the tyres back on. Very irritating!

A closer inspection of the bike reveals a bit of its history. Which if memory serves goes something like this. I had an Orange P7 as the aquatic photo from  a day or 2 ago shows. I then part chopped it for a Specialized full suspension bike. Does anyone remember the box frame multi link rear suspension bike? No? Anyway it was one of those. It rode fabulously well during the summer, but unfortunately it was not built for an English Winter. Everything siezed on the rear suspension and it became awful, even with intensive maintenance. It had to go. Wayne at my local bike shop had his own Marin East Peak frame that he was due to build up into a bike but he didn't really fancy it too much. He was after a play bike really not a trail bike and he always commented on how much he liked my Specialized. I think you can see where I'm going with this. The deal was done, a straight swap was made after Wayne transferred all the bits from my Specialized to the Marin. Hence the Specialized Crank, stem and hubs on my Marin.

The only other bit worth a mention is the Brooks saddle. We all need a comfy Bum!

It rides really well, what I would say about it is that you don't notice the suspension, even when grinding your way uphill. But you do notice how much it is helping if you ride the same trail on a rigid. That seems the best type of suspension to me.

I thought I'd finish with my Muvi helmet set up. I think the day before it went into stand by mode because it was pretty quiet apart from my panting that is!

You can just see the self tappers and velcro strap from the sports pack. I hope I've got it sorted to do more than 24 minutes now!

Looking at the met I might be up for an off road pedal tomorrow, I'm looking at a few bridleways over Clent. Although the commuter need a bloody good clean after yesterday's ride. So that will be on the agenda for today.

As we have the "Spawn of Satan" we won't be doing anything tonight so It just leaves me to wish you all a very happy new year. Safe miles everyone! And keep going, next year we can all only get better with more poundage shed!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Colder than a cold thing who's sat in an especially cold deep freeze...

Well, how cold am I? A rhetorical question, suffice it to say I'm tad chilly. Today I decided to forgo my usual off road trip as the snow was pretty deep and frozen to boot. So out with my commuter and I went on a round the lanes jaunt.

My route took me over to Wythall, around Weatheroak Hill, back through Wast Hills and returning via the Barnt Green Reservoir route. All in all I was out for 1 hour 23 minutes for 17 miles. Again not too fast but the head wind was biting, the thawing lanes were flooded and there was sheet ice everywhere. Watery Lane at Weatheroak especially living up to its name as I ploughed through it hub deep for about a mile. Nice.

But the main thing is I got out there and did a pedal. It would have been so easy to use any amount of conditions/work/home jobs and other stuff as excuses not to go. But even though I'm sat here shivering before my shower I'm feeling very chuffed with myself. I know from bitter experience that if I miss one pedal, I'll miss two, then before you know it I've stopped...Again. Not this time though.

I didn't use the Muvi as the rain/sleet was pretty nasty and I haven't yet worked out how to use its skin from the sports pack in its cradle. I'll try the usual squaddie cling film trick next time though.

Wifey has just put a nice steaming cup of coffee in front of me so I'll bugger off and have a drink of it.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Back to work...

So, here I am back at work (from home though) so I can't moan too much. The met is looking particularly bad for Birmingham according to the Beeb website so pedalling tomorrow looks a bit dodgy.

My Marin is due some new brake blocks as its stopping power was well down during the Lickey downhill yesterday so a trip into Rubery Cycles today looks on the cards. I might do that when I pick my daughter up from her mate's house, she was at a sleepover last night, so she'll be bloody moody when I get her! As is traditional I believe they stay up all night chatting and talking about boys and make up. She'll probably go straight to bed.

I hope the snow misses us so I can do a pedal tomorrow. I'll also spend some time today looking at the ever so comprehensive Muvi instructions to see if I've missed something obvious with its settings.

Monday, 28 December 2009

A Muvi mishap...

A bit of a mystery with the Muvi that I'll talk about later. Surprisingly after the alcohol excesses of last night I awoke feeling pretty well, far better than I deserved in all fairness. I hope my mukka and his Missus are feeling as well as me!

So I got sorted and did a 12 mile off road pedal around the Lickey's. The Waseley's would have been a nightmare after the frost we had last night. The climb up to Beacon Hill is an absolute ball breaker and I was bollocksed when I finally got up there, absolutely hanging. Anyway, as you can see on the film it ends just after the touristy commentary I attempted. The Muvi stopped recording after only 24 minutes. I have no clue as to why. Any suggestions from the Muvi experts out there?

The rest of the ride was ok, I pedalled across the Lickey's to the visitor's centre and took the down hill bridleway to Barnt Green and then through Barnt Green to the reservoir. It was really perishing cold though, my feet were ice blocks at the end. I was out an hour and a quarter for 12 miles. I plan to go out again on Wednesday. Looking at the tracks I might do a towpath blast on my commuter for that trip. The off roading is very difficult at the moment due to ice and mud.

The Marin was then cleaned and lubed and put to bed. I then got all of the meat off the Turkey and I'm making a huge pot of stock with the carcass. Loads of stock veg went in along with garlic, bay leaves and rosemary. It should make some fantastic soup. Wifey is a homemade soup expert. They're delicious!

Anyway, I hope the video is worth a watch.

Thought I'd leave you with these photos, it was October the 15th 2000. Me and my mate Wilksee  on my last MTB ride in Snowdonia by my folks place. As you can see the path was a tad damp. I was on my Orange P7 too! Great bike. 



Sunday, 27 December 2009

Planning on a bit of head tomorrow morning...

Only a flying visit today as my mukka and his Missus are due a visit today so I expect to be a bit fragile tomorrow as he always brings a ruck of ale with him. And it would be rude not to help him drink it! Hopefully a pedal will kill or cure me in the morning. So, a quick tidy of the house, lay the grub out, nail the Spawn of Satan to the floor, then job done!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

My first attempt at video with the Muvi...

I hope you can forgive the naff editing and the panting on the sound track, I was knackered and there were a load of bloody hard climbs!

I used the Microsoft Windows Movie Maker, it seems simple enough even for a dummy like me. No doubt practice makes perfect. The most difficult thing was cutting 90 minutes worth of footage down to 10 minutes. But the end result was probably the best moments from the ride, I did leave out all of the excruciatingly slow and difficult climbs though. The video does give the impression that there's a lot of tarmac. Not true, but as they say, the effect is all in the cut!

May I be the first to wish you all a Happy Easter!

A good day yesterday I hope yours was too. Christmas came and went with its usual speed and the Chapman Christmas Dinner went down pretty well. Indeed Mum in Law wolfed her dinner down with indecent haste!

I had my Muvi Camera with the sports pack and I spent a happy half an hour fixing it to my helmet. In the end I used a couple of self tappers to fix it to my peak and used a velcro strap as an extra bit of security. I then tested the camera for a minute or two and it seemed to do the job. The software was loaded onto my laptop and I downloaded the first bit of test footage. Question, does it take an absolute age to download the footage for everyone else? It does on my system. Is there a way to see the camera as a disc drive in "My Computer" so I can just do copy and paste like I do on my digital camera?

I managed to get my gears on my commuter sorted, amazingly enough they didn't need any adjustments with the new shifters on at all. I went through the entire range of gears on all 3 chainrings and it worked beautifully. I was gobsmacked, no indexing or anything else needed.

I got out this morning on my Marin for an off road ride and bloody hell was it hard work! The roads were very icy and the tracks when they weren't like ice rink rinks were a quagmire. I got lost twice trying to remember my way around my old haunts from 10 years back and I had a puncture. I was out for an hour and a half for 8 miles! Not my greatest ride ever, but I was knackered when I got back. I had my Muvi on all the time so I need to get my head around video editing/Youtube etc. All advice gratefully recieved as I'm totally new to it. Advice on software especially needed.

So, back to downloading my videos, have a good rest of Boxing Day folks.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Jingle bells etc...

I was up clearing and gritting the drive at 0700hrs this morning as there was a surprise snow fall here yesterday evening.

Then into Rubery to get the vegetables and last minute bits'n'pieces, it was chaos, even at 0730hrs, a good call by me getting it done early O'Clock I feel.

Then my Docs visit, my BP is down 12 points and apparently according to him, I've lost over 10% of my body weight. I'll believe him, I can spell for England but sums were never my strong point. He was delighted and asked me to go into some detail about how I've done it. I told him about our little online community and how it is a powerful motivational tool and a fabulous support network. He was fascinated and seemed genuinely interested, but when I said why don't you prescribe what we're doing as a treatment he just smiled and didn't answer. Ah well at least I had a go.

Yesterday I fitted my new brakes and rapidfire levers to my commuter, I just need to adjust everything now, hopefully I'll kick that into touch today. The predicted problem removing my gripshifts didn't happen as they couldn't withstand a 2Ib lump hammer being swung by a bloke as heavy as me! The new units do look pretty cool though.

I won't be blogging tomorrow and plan to do an offroad jaunt Boxing Day which I'll tell you all about if I can get out.

So, gentle readers, have a fantastic Christmas, don't flap about the odd Ib gained and be proud of what you've all achieved so far. The biggest thing you've all achieved in my opinion is getting me off my fat arse and into a new life. So you all have my undying gratitude. Just don't ask me for money...

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Only 2 meetings left!

Last day here in a frost bathed Smethwick, the roads were treacherous coming in. Really glad I was in 4 wheels and not on 2 and I only have 2 meetings left!

I took a bit of plunge yesterday and emailed the link to this to my best mate. For some reason I've been keeping this quiet to people who know me. I suppose I'm a bit uncomfortable sharing my thoughts about this with people who are close to me. I've always been accused of playing my cards a bit too close to my chest and the Missus has always said that she never knows what I'm thinking. But, I'm "Out" as it were now. Fair play to my mate Ski, he emailed just one word back..."INSPIRATIONAL", now that's very nice of him to say, as been an ex squaddie like me it would have been the easiest thing in the world to launch into some Olympic Class banter. But he didn't. He actually phoned me later and said I'd shamed him into going to the Gym, even though that wasn't my intent! But that's the first positive result for The massive MTBer Blog! Here's to many more...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Having a think...

Another pre Christmas meeting today here at work so no pedal. Again, looking at the state of the roads I ain't too bothered. Ice rinks every one of them.

This has got me thinking about the direction this relatively new weight loss through pedalling blog is taking. Is it just a daily pedal record, a commuting commentary, a motivational tool, a weight loss record, a daily diary or all of these and more? I don't know yet. For starters I haven't discussed food at any length at all. Be it in a "the way it was before" or in a "what I'm doing now" sort of way. I think the first thing is to decide an aim for this blog, because at the moment it's a pretty rambling discourse. Maybe that's the point? Dunno...

Moving on, my brother and his lad are visiting tonight to do the annual pressie thing, I don't see him too often and he always puts things in a bit of perspective. Although he is totally unaware that this is what he does. He is married, he was a trucker but 3 years ago he had what can only be decribed as personal disasters. His wife had 4 serious strokes (is there any other kind) and is now disabled and at the same time he was diagnosed with a neuralogical condition that causes blackouts. He obviously was stopped from trucking and so both my bro and his missus were immediatley unemployable. All this with a 7 year old boy a mortgage and all of the other modern day responsibilities.

The exciting news, well I think it's exciting, that I mentioned a few days ago is confirmed for the New Year. Again, all will be revealed in due course.

So tomorrow is the last day sat here and again there'll be no pedal as I have the last few client meetings. I have an appointment with the Docs Christmas Eve to have my 6 monthly BP check, I'm hoping that my weight loss will come as a nice surprise to him as he has no idea I've started this little fat to fit thing. I may show him this blog, it might spark a few ideas for him treatment wise, well you never know...

Monday, 21 December 2009

Scraping the car

I have a meeting at HQ today so no pedal. Although looking at the state of the roads when I drove in that's no bad thing I don't think.

I recovered my equilibrium at about 1500hrs yesterday, after the night before. A really good evening was had. But, I'm really glad I don't do it too often any more!

Will I get my new laptop today? A really good question, one I do not have an answer for. I'll stand over the IT trolls at HQ today and do my intimidation bit. Usually works.

I have after today, 2 days left working here at work then I work from home over the entire Christmas period, Christmas day and Boxing day excluded. This will give me the opportunity to get some good off road rides in and convert my commuter from Gripshift to Rapidfire levers. The only problem I foresee is that the allen bolts in the Gripshift levers have rounded off and may require sawing/drilling/ or breaking off to get the levers off the bars. It could get ugly!

1030hrs Edit: WOOHOOOOO! As of 30 minutes ago I'm all laptopped up again. It's amazing what actually standing over some one to motivate them can achieve!

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Ice, frost and general frozen bits...

I've just cleaned my commuter and fitted new brake blocks. By the cringe it was cold! My bike is now absolutely frozen solid. But after today's Coaches piss up, in all reality I won't be in any fit state tomorrow. So this was my only chance to do the maintenance. The game has been called off due to a frozen pitch but we have Sky Sports at the club so there's plenty of European Cup action to watch.

A laptop update, I still haven't got one, the work IT trolls phoned me up yesterday to tell me it'll be now Monday. They haven't specified which one though!

I successfully did my Christmas Ham yesterday, had a cheeky sample and it's fabulous! It'll be great cold with pickle over the festive season.

Anyway, family stuff now. Have fun all!

Friday, 18 December 2009


I took a bit of a tumble on the way home last night, not really sure what happened, I obviously hit some ice and my bike just went from under me and I hit the deck pretty hard and slid down the road a short way. Anyway I was ok apart from a few aches and bruises. Luckily I was nearly home and the road had no other traffic on it. I'll chalk that one down to experience. Other than that it was a good pedal home, I got a bit of a lick on and broke the hour time home for I think only the second occasion. I'm not worrying about times too much at this stage though.

My weight has again not moved one ounce, I'm still 19st 4Ib. But I'm working hard and watching my scoff. Although tomorrow might be a tad tricky. It's the annual coaches' piss up and curry at the rugby club. Hmm.

But some good news this week (and boy do I need it) is the roll out of the new management team at the club. It's been pretty hard for us over the last 6 months, but this looks like progress. Keeping a competitive professional squad going is tough in these lean times. And to be brutally honest the paying spectator in Birmingham and the West Midlands do not appear to have an appetite for Rugby. All of the Pounds seem to be spent at Blues and Villa. Can't think why, loathesome game...

This afternoon will be dedicated to doing my Christmas ham, I always look forward to that. Music on, kitchen door locked and I can create in peace. That's after a conference call with a client first though. I shall be doing all in my power to speed that along!

Anyway, back to bike matters, the conversion from to Gripshift to Rapidfire levers on my commuter is definately on. It'll be happening over the Christmas shutdown and I'll be fitting new brake blocks to my commuter tomorrow or Sunday. My stopping power has dipped noticeably the last couple of days.

Finally, the IT Trolls at HQ have assured me I'll be getting a replacement laptop today. A miracle if true but I'm not holding my breath. Wait and see eh?

Edit: The wasters have just phoned me and said they can't do my laptop today. Time to deploy the "I TOLD YOU SO!" T Shirt...

Further Edit: They've just phoned me again to say they can do!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

What a day...and not in a good way...

So, a pretty good pedal in yesterday as you know.

Then obviously I had to do some work. It was pretty busy, prepping my lads for the Christmas holiday work, making sure all bases were covered etc etc. With my job I am always and I mean always in my office. But yesteday I had to wander across to the other side of our site to see a sales guy about a potential new client. I was gone 20 minutes and when I came back my laptop and daysack were gone. At first I thought the production manager was having his usual South African "isn't it funny messing Clive's office up" gag which he does on a regular basis but when I fronted him up and looked in eyes I could see it wasn't him. After a bit more investigation I found out that a "hoodie" was seen leaving the building carrying a daysack. I can leave the rest to your imagination. Police, statements, forms etc etc. A terrific afternoon.

Obviously the laptop was not mine but the companies, but even though I work for an IT based company, we're very much the brickies house syndrome. We deliver a superb service to our customer's but our IT infrastructure and priority for internal issues is bloody awful. So I'll be using shite kit until God knows when. So the ball ache for me is huge. But even more so because I've had my 20gb Rugby memory stick nicked with all of my coaching sessions, presentations and video analysis on it and my IPOD and bloody good earphones. Grrr...

So the pedal home was done in a foul mood but luckily the cut was quiet and there was no Joby's once I hit the main Bristol Road.

I'm still bloody angry now which isn't like me to be fair, but for some reason this has really pissed me off. I was thinking about it constantly on the pedal in this morning. And typing this on a steam driven desk top PC ain't helping matters!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bonus pedal!

I wasn't expecting that! Had an email last night from my Boss at the School of Rugby that tonights Coaching session was off due to a waterlogged pitch. I'll take that, it meant I could pedal in. 

Every morning for a couple of weeks now I've seen a bloke on a MTB, (not a massively good one to be fair, I hope that doesn't sound snobby and elitist) pedalling slowly on the pavement at walking pace down the Bristol Road. He's a Council worker (I can tell by his overalls) so I've Christened him Council man. Now he's a youngish bloke, not carrying any weight. I'd love to be able to stop and ask him why he's on a bike. I've passed him pretty much on every bit of the Bristol Road between Northfield and Selly Oak and he's always pootling along really slowly. Strange. I may never find out I suppose. I can probably guess why he's on the pavement though...No lights on his bike.

Anyway, my pedal in went really well, no Joby's* to report and I did a pretty good time in. 50 minutes exactly for the 12 miles. It was the City Centre route though and not the cut so it meant I could go a bit faster.

I may have some exciting (well for me) news to report very soon. No clues, so I'll keep you all in suspenders...

* Joby = A life threatening incident while pedaling.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I'm cold, I'm wet...but alive!

Another moist pedal in, but after reading the tale of Joby's ride home I can state categorically that I'd rather be cold and moist than dead!

The pedal home along the cut went really well, there being no IPEDs or other cyclists to ruin my tranquil state of mind, also the towpath was lovely and dry so I arrived home pretty clean for once.

No pedal tomorrow as I'm going straight from work to coach a School of Rugby session in Bromsgrove so I may do another "My Bike" bit. This time about my MTB.

Reading Joby's tale of woe reminded me of the two occasions I've had collisions with cars. The first was the summer of 1996 when I was living in the centre of Birmingham and pedalling to MG Rover in Longbridge, a round trip of 22 miles. I was on my way home and entering a mini roundabout and a woman pulled out of the junction I was about to pass and I hit her straight in the side of her driver's door. The door was dented and so were my forks and my front wheel badly tacco'd. She accused me of not giving way to her can you believe? That collision resulted in the Kona P2 forks I have on my commuter now. Nothing came of the incident. She gave a false name and address and her number plate was false too. Ain't that always the way?

Incident number two was when I moved to Rubery where I live now and had got transferred to Land Rover in Solihull. I'd got a road bike by then, a nice Dawes. That commute was a 28 mile round trip. Anyway, winter of 1998, on the way in I was pedalling down Wast Hills Lane which is where Birmingham City FC's training ground is (if you're into Kevball) no street lights, very dark, drizzling too as I recall and a white van on overtaking me clipped me, I was doing about 18 - 20 mph. I did a fairly good impression of the crash at the start of the 6 Million Dollar Man TV program from the 70's if you're old enough to remember that. My bike was a wreck, gears bent, crank loose, back wheel tacco'd. I was feeling pretty groggy too. The van incidentally didn't stop and there was no one else about. I had to walk the 4 miles back home and when I got home I passed out like a big girl and the missus had to get the doc in. I was off work for 2 weeks with concussion. 

But I'm still here fighting the good fight!

Everyone...Be careful out there!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Monday, Monday...

Back on the commute this morning, a totally uneventful ride in, a bit of drizzle weather wise but nothing too bad. The Endura overshoes have been reprised after doing a bit of work on the zips with a pair of pliers and the round bit off a key ring. You know, the bit the keys hang off? I haven't got a clue what it's called. But I pulled what was left of the zip handles off and looped the key ring bit through the hole left in the zip body. It seems to work ok. Hope that made sense by the way?

Anyway, Chez Chapman is now all Yule'd up after the Missus and the kids did their usual decoration thing.The big problem now appears to be keeping the Spawn of Satan away from the tree as he seems to think it is his right to use the baubles as ammunition to chuck at all and sundry. I'm sure it's a phase he's going through...

I thought this might be worth reading. My letter of recommendation about Brooks Saddles actually made it onto their website!

Sunday, 13 December 2009


A weekend of prepping is coming to an end. I've prepped my commuter for the week ahead. Got my new pump, a Topeak Mountain Morph. Fitted new more gnarly tyres to my Marin and got in all the ingredients for my traditional Christmas Ham. Recipe here. It's well worth doing have a look!

Jerk Ham

For poaching

  • 1 x 5kg leg of ham
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 6 Scotch bonnet chillies, halved
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 small leek, washed and roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 1 cinnamon stick

For the jerk marinade

  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 8 Scotch bonnet chillies, stalks removed
  • 250ml dark rum
  • 250ml malt vinegar
  • A small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked

For the ham glaze

  • ¾ jar good-quality, fine-cut marmalade
  • 125ml golden rum

Method: How to make jerk ham

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Put the ham in a large roasting pan with all the poaching ingredients. Add water until it comes halfway up the side of the pan. Cover the ham with tinfoil (making a tent over the ham to allow the steam to circulate). Bake for 2 hours or until pink and cooked through remove from the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes, remaining covered.

2. While your ham poaches you can prepare the jerk marinade. Add the bay and your dry spices to a food processor with your garlic cloves. Give it a good whiz so it forms a paste, then throw in your onions and chillies and whiz for a few more minutes. The chillies have a fiery, almost apricoty, sweetness to them and will start making the seasoning really hot. Pour in the rum and malt vinegar and keep whizzing everything around while you add the thyme. Once you’ve got a nice loose consistency your jerk marinade is ready.

3. Once your ham has finished poaching, transfer it to a roasting tray and let it cool down a bit. While still warm, put your hand underneath the skin and gently pull it away from the meat, leaving the bit of the fat underneath attached. Then, with a sharp knife, score the ham by lightly making diagonal cuts across the leg.

4. Spoon the jerk marinade over the pork and use the back of the spoon to smear it all over the ham and into the scored fat. If you want to use your hands then make sure you use rubber cloves, because this marinade is hot! If you like, you can cover the meat in cling film and refrigerate it overnight but, as we’ve already poached this in some of the jerk seasonings, you can also cook the ham straight away.

5. Pour a small glass of water into the bottom of your roasting tray and put the ham in your preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 2 hours. Try to baste it every half hour so it gets nice and dark. Once it comes out of the oven, scrape off a bit of marinade with a spatula. Spoon about ¾ of a jar of marmalade over the ham and pour a good swig of dark rum on top. Smear this mixture all over and let it drip down the sides of the ham. Spoon the juices off the bottom of the tray and back over the ham. Put it back into the oven, at the same temperature for another 30 minutes, basting every 5 to 7 minutes. This is all about giving it a bit of love to create a shine and sweetness. Build up that crust and when it's lovely and dark… it's ready!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Domestic Bliss...

Well, as john Lennon once said, "Life is what happens to you while you're making plans". All my plans for a pedal and other stuff bang out of the window.

I've got to fix the dishwasher, fit a new bedroom blind in our room, mend the blind in my daughter's room and then dive into the loft for the Christmas decorations. This is a week earlier than I'd like for this but I know when I'm beaten.

Hopefully I'll be done in time for a Rugby match on telly this afternoon.

Friday, 11 December 2009

The body is a mysterious thing...

The pedal home was thankfully absolutely full of absolutely nothing to report. A swift dash down the cut followed by the usual grind up hill to home. No-one tried to assassinate me. Which was nice. Although I was pretty knackered at the end and pretty glad I'm not pedalling today.

I did my weigh in last night when I got home, still 19st 4Ib, which considering I've been pedalling religiously and very careful with my scoff is a tad disappointing. but, them's the breaks. Just have to try harder next week.

I've just read some of the comments over on Jobys Blog about the Manc/Blackpool and a very kind invite for me to do it. I've been thinking about an event to aim for and I've pretty much decided to do this one.

Obviously being an ex squaddie with some very good mates still serving in some not very nice places, this is a cause very close to my heart.

I'll be doing it not in 2010 but 2011 as I'm nowhere near fit enough to do it at the moment and I would like to enjoy it and I guess I'll need a half decent road bike. The Chapman exchequer cannot fund one any time soon so this is another reason for the delay.

I already have a couple of ex squaddie mates who have promised to accompany me so the planning starts soon.

Watch this space!

I'll be off roading tomorrow, I've spotted a nice little loop, about 10 miles through the Waseley's and Lickey's, I might even take my camera and inflict my image upon you all again!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

A bit tired today...

The blast home last night along the cut went ok, as did the ride up into Northfield. But then I had a bus pull out on me in Northfield High Street, he was that close to me I punched the bus pretty hard with my fist, (actually hurt my hand) the passengers all jumped up in shock, but the driver carried blissfully on totally unaware of what he had just done. I didn't get a chance to get reg or a number. Roll on the Muvi deployment.

I had to do a coach assessment last night for new Coaching candidates for the School of Rugby. We had 3 applicants, 2 weren't what we were after but we've decided to take 1 on a trial to see if he comes up to scratch. I'm not looking forward to calling my mate later, he was one of the ones who were unsuccessful, which is a bloody shame as he worked really hard and wanted it so much too. He'll be getting a thorough debrief so hopefully he can address the problem areas and re-apply next year.

It's been a busy week, my legs are a bit leaden this morning and I'm hoping the ride home goes better than the ride in. I'm sat here typing this feeling pretty drained. I'm not pedalling tomorrow but will look to do an off road ride on Saturday.

Oh, and I still need to replace my broken pump, probably do that tomorrow after work.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The good, the bad and the ugly.

The pedal home last night along the cut went pretty well, it was drier which meant a few more folk to contend with. Now as a rule, I'm that laid back I'm almost horizontal and I hardly ever get annoyed or wound up. But, I'm starting to build up an irrational hatred of walkers on the canal wearing IPODs that are so loud that they cannot hear my polite "excuse me please" when I'm trying to overtake them. It's especially bad as the canal winds its way through the University. I'm thinking of fitting an air horn on my bike, that will make them jump into the cut in shock I would hope. Students and IPODs grrrr...

Onto the good now, I got overtaken by anorexic roadie on the hill up into Selly Oak this morning, I haven't seen him for a few weeks and this morning he was on a MTB. Now the good bit is that I actually accelerated and managed to hang on to him for about 20 yards, he never realised I was there I don't think, but actually trying to keep up is a fantastic indicator of how much I've improved. Please bear in mind that even when I was at my fittest I was always built for comfort not speed.

Onto the bad, at the Bristol Road MacDonalds traffic lights (a pretty big junction for all non Brummies out there) I stopped at the red light and edged forward over the line as I normally do when there is no specific cycle area so I am visible for all and sundry. A van edged closer to me that had stopped behind me, so I rolled forward a few feet to stay out of his way and the git then edged forward again, so I rolled a bit more forward and he did it again this time revving his engine. I turned to look at him and he just grinned. At that point the lights went green and he passed within inches of me, I was too busy concentrating on staying upright to belt the side of his van. It was a Ford Transit 350 BX07 VDM (If I recall correctly) from Edwards Construction Co.

The ugly? I looked in the mirror this morning.

I'll be back along the cut tonight battling with IPODs.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I can do boring...

A boringly uneventful pedal in. No punctures (even though I chose the route through the City Centre) and only one WVM passing a tad too close for comfort. I'll take that.

The ride home last night along the cut was very wet but pretty good fun, the canal due to the weather was virtually empty of folk even through Brindley Place in the City Centre, so I could get a lick on.

On the kit front my Endura overshoes have let me down. The zip on my left shoe has completely broken off, this is after the plastic bit you pull the zips with broke off a few weeks back. This happened on both zips. So I've had to dig out my Porelle Dry Socks that I've had for years. They do keep my feet dry but I've always found them a tad too tight and my feet tend to get cold, probably because of the tightness of the socks I'm guessing.

I've been doing a bit of research on pumps and so far I'm thinking the Topeak Mountain Morph Pump. I've arrived at this one reading the reviews and looking at actual ease of inflation. Anyone got any better suggestions?

Oh, and I've lost my Hi Vis daysack cover, I reckon the Spawn of Satan has hidden it somewhere, but in his 2 year old crafty way he is denying all knowledge of it...

Monday, 7 December 2009

The puncture fairy strikes...

So as I'd decided to attempt to keep dry on the way in this morning I chose to cycle through town, not down the cut. What a mistake. Just as I was pedaling around Smallbrook Circus in the City Centre I heard the hiss hiss hiss of what could only be a puncture coming from the front tyre. Obviously I went straight into denial and totally ignored it. Anyway, it refused to be ignored, when I'd reached the mailbox near the Town Hall some 500 yards later, it went totally flat. Into muttering obscenities under my breath, you know the type, and proceeded to fix it. Not a drama, I carry all the necessary kit, so I removed the dead tube, found the nail, and put a new tube in.

I then went to pump the thing up and my pump suffered a total malfunction. On a Monday, in the dark, in the drizzle. It would not clamp onto the valve and when it would clamp it wouldn't pump. I tried everything for 25 minutes to get this bloody thing to work, but nope, it simply refused to play. Bastard thing!

As luck would have it one of my lads passed me on his way to work in his van so he played the good Samaritan and gave me and my dead bike a lift in. So today is going to be spent getting the front tyre inflated and working out what the bloody hell is the matter with my pump!

I love cycling.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Just another quiet Rubery Sunday...

Went to my local the Dodford yesterday evening, just for a swift couple and watched the Barbarians beat the All Blacks, a very entertaining game and with a bonus of the Kiwis losing. It's good that Richard the Gaffer is a Rugby nut like me too, so no chance of soccer getting in the way!

No pedalling to report today. Took the Spawn of Satan to the playground this morning, just to give wifey a break, chucked him over all the kit, picked some watercress with him that grows in the stream at the back of the playground, then took him to see the motorbikes at Streetbike at Halesowen. He loves them, plus I enjoy it too. So a bonus.

Wifey did a fantastic Sunday Roast, chicken this week and a cracking pud to follow. Small portions naturally! Highlight of the week for me is Sunday dinner, everybody sat round the table. A bit of a Chapman tradition that I hold very dear. It'd be nice to think the kids might keep it going.

Just sorted my bike kit out for the commute tomorrow and after getting back out on my Rapidfire equipped MTB I am toying with the idea of converting my commuter over to them. So much more slicker changes than the original Gripshift on the Ridgeback. That might be a Christmas holiday project.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A new low gives a new high!

Well, who would Adam and Eve it? At my weigh in yesterday afternoon while I was expecting a gain due to the injury lay off I actually lost the 4Ibs required to get to the 3 stone lost milestone. I can't tell you how chuffed I was! I'm now 19st 4Ibs from a 22st 4Ibs starting point at the beginning of July.

I did get out for an off road pedal this morning, just an 8 miler over Clent and the Waseleys, very wet, very muddy, very slippery. Some tracks I'm guessing will be unrideable soon. The reason for the short trip was a need to be back, degunked and ready to rock at 1000hrs so we could all go out.

Mission accomplished. We've just got back, my lad having been to his first Santa visit (that he understood) and he had the time of his little life. My daughter buggering off up Merry Hill with her mates which was just as well as she'd have been bored witless. So a nice restful aftrenoon, wifey is making homemade watercress soup for lunch and I might pop to the pub this evening for a swift couple.

Friday, 4 December 2009


Nothing much to report about the pedal in, all quiet on the Western Front as it were. But it's a big day today for me weight wise though. While I wasn't stupid with my calorific intake while I was off with my bad back and hip I didn't step on the scales. So this afternoon is truth time. I'm expecting an increase...But by how much????? A bit worried if I'm honest...

As I was involved with my Rugby a hell of a lot this week I'm having a weekend off much to Wifey's delight and we are planning a bit of a day out tomorrow, somewhere to let the lad run amok and let my daughter indulge her female passion for clothes shops. What is that all about then? So it looks like Evesham Country Park it is.

Anyway, back to bikes, it'll be degunking my commuter this afternoon to get it ready for the abuses of next week, and I'll see if I can get a cheeky off road pedal on Saturday morning before the family are ready to rock. But I must get some proper winter tyres for my Marin though, last week was just too slippery for comfort.

Hopefully (family allowing) I'll have another post about my off road exploits tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

My Commuting Bike...

The piccy above was taken for the "Bikes in Bogs" web site, but as it's the most current photo of my commuter it'll have to do.

It's a Ridgeback 704 Competition, a chromoly steel framed bike circa (I'm guessing) 1990. It was my first proper MTB and has gone through many incarnations in it's life to arrive at the bike it is now.

The photo below was taken about 1991 and shows it and a very young and thin me in the mountains above Aberdovey in Wales.

Anyway, after much componentry changes and various suspension forks being put on and taken off, we arrive at 2009.

The frame is a good steel frame, with Mavic rims built for me by Paul at "On yer Bike" in Solihull in about 1994 and they have never gone out of true or let me down once. I've some 26" x 1.75 slick tyres fitted, Halford specials actually, but they seem fine.

The gear set is Shimano XT rear and front mech, with original Gripshift changers, The chainset is Shimano LX with Shimano SPDs hanging off the end of the cranks.

Brakes are again original Shimano LX V brakes with Avid levers, totally fine, always managed to bring me to a halt when they need to.

The forks are Kona Project 2 items, they're pretty springy and steer very acurately. As the bike is my commuter I felt a fully rigid set up was the way forward. I can't see the point of suspension for a road bike to be honest.

I had to fit an adjustable stem when I started this effort as my original stem was just to low and with a too aggressive a posture for comfort. Especially with my bad back, pinned shoulder and massive belly! But I'm hoping to get back to a more lower position as I improve.

As for the bits'n'pieces, 2 water bottle cages, Riser bars, nice and wide to accomodate my girth with Ergon grips, a very basic computer with the usual functions and a cracking set of LED lights, the rear one especially is excellent.

I've a bog standard rear mudguard, from Halfords again, with a Crudcatcher up front doing the keeping me dry thing.

My saddle choice is made after the result of many years pedalling and it's a Brooks B17 leather saddle. The only saddle I've found to suit me. I can heartliy recommend them. After they've broken your arse in (Ooh er missus) they're as comfortable as a comfortable thing with comfortable sauce.

And finally Esther (you have to be of a certain age to get that one), my saddle bag, with the usual tools, allen keys, a puncture repair kit, a spare inner tube and a MTB pump fitted to a bottle cage.

I hope you found that interesting. In the absence of a pedal in today due to coaching I thought that might be a good thing to do. I want to Blog every day if I can to keep my motivation going. Because I know how easy through bitter experience it is to let things slip. Let me know guys. Cheers Clive

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Work gets in the way...

A good pedal home last night. The cut wasn't frozen, but even if it was I would have gone that way, as dicing with death through Birmingham City Centre at 1600hrs wasn't very high on my list of things to do.

The only incident being a number 61 bus forcing me onto the pavement just before Frankly, which I could have done without to be honest. I'm looking forward to getting my Muvi all rigged up after Christmas.

A downer though, at about 1730hrs last night the boss rang and said I needed to be in Bristol for 1000hrs today for a client meeting which was set up at the last minute, so I'm in the car today. I will be tomorrow too as I'm going straight from work to Bromsgrove for 1630hrs as I'm coaching the Worcester School of Rugby lads, then going straight to Bees to coach our Advanced Player Development Group.

Two days off the bike. Looking forward to Friday though and I'm already planning another off road foray for the weekend.

As there won't be any pedalling to report tomorrow I think I'll do a "My Bike" feature. I was having a think on the way home last night and wondered if we all could do a "Kit that works for me" kind of thing in our blogs? Might be of some use? What do you think?

As always your views are very important to a me as a newbie...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

There's always a before picture...

As there is always a before piccy, here's one I just found while clearing out some old emails. Me September 2008 with my lad (spawn of Satan) Dan. And my other 2 wheeled love.

Ice breaking...

At least I didn't have to scrape the frost off a windscreen this morning, but by crikey it was a tad chilly! The roads fairly predictably were not gritted, which when you consider the area I live has its own micro climate and suffers with very bad hard frosts might be a little surprising. But hey, let them use our Council tax and Road tax for whatever they want don't you think?

The upshot to the conditions meant I didn't chance the tow path for the first time ever, as MTB slick tyres, a very wet path and ice in close proximity to a canal do not good cycling conditions make. So decision made, carry on along the Bristol Road past Selly Oak through Birmingham City Centre out the other side and up into sunny Smethwick.

I wouldn't fancy that trip in the rush hour though, I think I'll be going back down the cut this afternoon that's for sure.

On a plus point, the enforced lay off I've had recently seemed to have done me some good. I felt very strong last night on the way home. Even to the extent of getting out of the saddle on the climb up Cock Hill and arriving home being able to speak, which is pretty much a first. I think later on today I'll have a look at my log and maybe think about scheduling in some rest time in my plans.