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.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Frozen grounds.

Hopefully rugby will be on today, the lads are desperately in need of some coaching sessions. But looking at the white lawn out the back I somehow doubt the pitches will be fit.

We might have to do a video analysis session. Although if we look at their last game we might need to show it after the watershed!

Bike is all prepped ready to go for tomorrow. And the good news is I won't be fighting my demons on Tuesday as I have a day off. It is a bike related day off, more to be revealed later!

Best of all today is wifey's Roast shoulder of lamb to look forward to dinner time.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Is there a difference?

After yesterday's wibble I thought it would be a good idea to check progress with these two pics. I deliberately say wibble as a wobble classes as a wavering in motivation which isn't happening, a wibble is a slight head malfunction. The thing that stands out to me is the fact I'm in jeans in  the most recent picture (taken yesterday) which I haven't worn in years.


Friday, 29 January 2010

Slightly irritated...

The pedal home last night was entirely without Jobys and went perfectly. Nothing to report from the pedal.

As predicted I still haven't managed to get a full 5 days pedalling in yet. Today I'm in the car as I have a H&S visit at a site in Peterborough. Luckily I managed to get in an extra 9 miles during the week to break the 100 miles in a week barrier, with 105 miles pedalled. I'm not really sure why I wanted to do that, it seemed like a good idea at the time I guess. Not sure if it served a purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Not pedalling today is no bad thing though, I am feeling the effects and last night was pretty bad. I had a broken nights sleep due to severe back pain, my calves were cramping and my quads were very sore, not to mention my neck, shoulders and knees.

At this point it might be worth explaining just how "broken" I am. I'd hate to sound like a galloping hypochondriac.

If we start from the ground up. My feet have been broken more times than I can remember. (rugby). I have 2 damaged achilies tendons. (rugby). My knees are permantly painful due to damaged ligaments and cartilidges. (army and rugby). I have sciatica, (army and rugby). Right shoulder has a metal pin holding it together. (rugby). My left shoulder partially dislocates occasionally. (rugby). My neck has limited movement due to injury. (rugby). Nerve damage in my left arm causing numbness. (rugby). Add on the illnesses due to being fat, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and asthma and you get some idea of how knackered I am. But, "hey ho" crack on.

But why I'm slightly irritated is despite putting in more mileage and pedalling quicker, my weight has not budged this week. I haven't lost an ounce so I'm still 18 stone 12Ibs. I was pretty disappointed last night to be honest. Now I know all about plateaus and it'll shift soon. Don't forget I went for 4 weeks before Christmas without losing an ounce but for some reason, last night bothered me. And I very rarely let things bother me. Bugger!

Oh, and thanks for all the good wishes in the comments yesterday, it is appreciated.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A Polka Dot jersey for my birthday yesterday!

We all have small moments when doing something like this that class as little victories or huge morale boosters. Yesterday, coincidentally on my 46th Birthday I had one of those moments.

Not that I see many cyclists on my commute, probably about 1 or 2, and I've never seen any cyclists on NCR5 over the years, but usually if they're not going in the opposite direction, they're overtaking me at a rate of knots.

My big moment came yesterday, Robert Millar eat your heart out, powering along the A38 Bristol Road yesterday evening up the hill towards Northfield I spied in the distance a fellow cyclist, and amazingly I saw I was in fact reeling in him. So Sunshine, you're mine I thought, (not that I'm competitive at all you understand), travelling at near terminal velocity I was stamping on my pedals for all I was worth and on the uphill I powered past the poor unfortunate. I kept the pressure on up the rest of the drag into Northfield and broke him, I never saw him again. Yeeeha! Who's the man?!

Actually, what happened is on film below...

But it's my story, my overtake and was my birthday yesterday so I'll remember it like I told it!

Now where's that Polka Dot Jersey?

I also yesterday brought a new Camelbak and a Helly Hansen Base layer using my Birthday money.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Extra Mileage and Cycle Route 5.

The pedal home last night was extended to get in the elusive 100 miles in a week commuting. Instead of coming off the cut at Selly Oak I stayed on there until Kings Norton and took Cycle Route 5 (well bits of it) to Longbridge where I then did the Lickey Hills loop to give me an extra 6 miles. That added to the night before puts me 9 miles up and on course to break the 100 mile barrier. That's if I pedal tomorrow of course which I hope to do.

I know JB and his pals are planning to do the whole of route 5 in the future, what I would say is that the route I pedalled is very intricate with lots of in and out bits and plenty of twists and turns. Also the surface wasn't that great on some of it. No problems for me and my MTB but I'm wondering about road bikes. Maybe the tracks will improve with the better weather. I have had a nose at the whole route through Brum, some of it goes through some pretty dodgy areas. I'm happy to advise anyone planning to do the route which bits I'd avoid and diversions I'd take.

The pedal in again this morning was totally fine, I took the route through the City Centre with no Jobys to report. I'll do the bog standard route home tonight, I need the hills to test me out. The last 2 nights have avoided my nemisis, that of Cock Hill. I'll be panting my way up there later.

The bits of Route 5 I pedalled last night below. If you decide to watch it play it with no sound on. My panting, snotting and general horrible noises seem particularly bad in this video!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Gotta get this Tuesday thing beaten...

The usual battle with my inner wimp ensued at 0430hrs this morning, why it should always be Tuesdays is a reason I guess I'll never know the answer too. But the motivated lean, mean fighting machine won and I enthusiastically leapt out of bed with a song in my heart at 0515hrs. (I hope the sarcasm came across there?)

The pedal in along the cut was perfectly standard and I saw no-one to bother me out of my reverie.

I did get an extra 3 miles in last night on the way home but not as I'd planned. When I came to pedal out of work I discovered my front light had gone tits up. It wouldn't switch on at all. It's always been a bit temperamental, as from virtually new I've always had to open the main body and switch it on and off using the internal connection as the outside switch gave up pretty quickly.

I pedalled my usual route along the cut and stopped off in Northfield at Northfield Cycles where I got a new front light, I fitted it on and then decided to ride past the MG Rover works (what's left of it) and do a loop around the Lickey Hills and pedal back home through the back end of Rubery which gave me an extra 3 miles as I said.

Remarkably I felt absolutely fine when I got in, no dying, no panting and being able to speak perfectly normally, perhaps all this is actually starting to work.

Monday, 25 January 2010

A dirty job, but someone's got to do it...

Isn't it always the way? You get your bike gleaming and the next time you ride it it's persistently raining. Grrr.

My commuter was looking that good and riding that well I came through the City Centre and gave the cut a miss. I'll bite the bullet and get it muddy tonight. The pedal in was pretty quick with no Joby's to report. I was overtaken by a number 61 bus right by where I had the blow out last week, he carried on up the hill and then he had to go around the houses on his route. He caught me up again just past Selly Oak 6 miles down the road! I'm quicker than a number 61 bus! Hurrah!

I'm considering extending the pedal home tonight, just to get the extra in so I can do a 100 miles a week. It seems I am destined to never pedal in every day, I have consistently always done 4 pedals or less because of various mitigating factors like snow, meetings at work, rugby coaching or breakdowns.

I have one or two options open to me by carrying on along the cut tonight and cutting back around on the road back to my house. I'll need to do a bit of map work later to decide which loop is the best.

My latest missive on Bike Radar for What Mountain Bike.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Maintenance day...

The trip to Mumsies went pretty well. The kids weren't travel sick and although we were held up on the M5 between Junc 2 and 1 and onto the M6 for an hour Friday evening they slept!

Today was about bike maintenance though.

Just look at the state of my poor commuter...

The result of 3 weeks of road salt, oily road grime, canal mud and goose shit. Also the flat rear after Thursday evening's blow out.

It needed a new rear tyre and tube, a drivetrain strip down, degrease and clean and general fettling. That was after a thorough jetwash to get rid of all of the gunk. I know there's an opinion on not jetwashing, but if you're careful and avoid bearings you'll be ok. I've always jetwashed bikes and never had a problem.

During the very dirty deed...

To finish up I gave my Brooks saddle some leather treatment and a polish. 

Below is the finished article after 2 hours work.

She is very frayed around the edges now, 20 years of putting up with me it is pretty understandable. I also sorted wifey's Specialized Rockhopper out too. She's threatening to restart pedalling too!

Video of my blow out. Listen for the bang!

Friday, 22 January 2010

All things are not equal...

Remember yesterday when I said all things being equal I'd crack the 100 miles this week. Well...

What happened was this, as you know I punctured my rear tyre on the way in yesterday, on the way home about a mile out I was belting (relative term, this is me after all) around the final island which is at the bottom of the last downhill stretch when "BANG!!!" a total rear tyre blow out, tube and tyre shredded, luckily I didn't come off and managed to stay upright. So walk home it was.

I was due to coach the Bees Advanced Player Development Group last night so I didn't have the chance to fix the wheel, anyway I needed to get a new tyre. I only have semi slicks and off road MTB tyres hanging up in the garage.

On the way to Solihull I passed a Halfords store so I thought it was a good opportunity to kill 2 birds with 1 stone and save a trip out on Sunday to get a new tyre. A bad mistake. I am now full of lustful thoughts and yearnings I know I will not be able to fulfil. I got my new tyre, but on display was the Boardman Pro Carbon Road Bike . A thing of stunning beauty dripping with jewellery that just craved to be mine! I want it! No! I need it!

But, as with the School Babe you know that she is out of your league and you have absolutely no chance with her and you're reduced to worshipping her from afar. Now where's my credit card?

Onto matters blogging. Just so you don't think I've been abducted by aliens or crushed under the Number 62 bus I punched last week in a revenge attack on me, I won't be posting anything over the weekend. I'm off to my folks in Wales for a late Christmas and they haven't got the interweb thingy. And I'm pretty sure Tywyn doesn't have an internet Cafe.

So, have a crushingly good weekend and see you all bright eyed and bushy tailed on Monday!

Oh nearly forgot, 3Ibs lost this week and under 19 stones for the first time since God knows when!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

The Punture Fairy rides again...

I woke up earlier than normal at about 0445hrs so I thought I'd get a wiggle on rather than fidgeting around in bed. (I'd say tossing and turning but that'd just Tee up too many wise cracks from the usual suspects).

I was just passing the Orthopedic Hospital at about 0520hrs when my back wheel went all lairy and I was squirming all the over shop. Bugger! Puncture! So, being the proverbial Boy Scout, I whipped the back wheel off, got the tube out, swapped it for a new one and proceded to pump it up. I have to say at this point that the Topeak Mountain Morph Pump is a fabulous bit of kit, I can't recommend it highly enough, it's like having a track pump out in the field. And it is very portable despite what some reviewers have said.

Tyre pumped up, back on the bike. Now why won't the back wheel go round? Hmm, puzzle, have I put the wheel in asquew? Nope, it's seated right. Are the brakes catching? They can't be, I haven't connected them yet. What the f**k is going on here? Did I buckle the wheel when the puncture happened?

What a total muppet! I hadn't checked to see if the tyre was on the rim all the way around and it was off the rim by the valve. So tube deflated, seat the tyre properly, pump the tyre back up, (have I mentioned how good the Topeak Mountain Morph Pump is?) connect the brakes, kit away and off I go. 20 minutes of buggering around because I'm a dozy idiot! In my defence it was really early and the street was very poorly lit. Those are my excuses and I'm sticking to them.

The pedal home last night went swimmingly, poor choice of words when I'm pedalling along the cut, but I broke the hour again and no-one tried to kill me. I will be doing a park and ride tomorrow which means all things being equal I'll have pedalled 108 miles for the week, getting my first ever Century in. 108 not out, if only our proper batsmen were that good...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

At last, back along the cut!

The pedal home last night was brilliant, no Birmingham City Centre, no grid lock through Selly Oak, just the peace and tranquility of towpath pedalling with no ice. I don't know if this gave me a psychological boost but I was out of the saddle stamping all the way up Cock Hill for the first time ever in about 3rd gear I think. Normally I'm sat grinding away in first gear (all big ring by the way).

Even better was the pedal in this morning, I was half expecting to wake up to snow as we have had about 3" forecast, but happily none of the white stuff was around so up and at them! Obviously setting out about 0530hrs means traffic is minimal but there seemed to be even less around this morning, maybe everyone saw the forecast last night and decided to jack this morning. Whatever the reason I'll take it. I got on the cut at Selly Oak as usual and never saw a soul all the way to Smethwick, just me, my bike and my thoughts. Wonderful!

Below is a piece of footage showing a typical Birmingham cycle lane. It's like this every evening. As I point out in the video, the parking at the hospital is abysmal, I know having been a patient there on a few Rugby related matters. So I can't blame them when you have to get broken people in to the place you need to be as close as possible. Still crap though.

Maybe make the central reservation of the dual carriageway a car park?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Tuesday blues...

Now most people I know hate Mondays, not me. Tuesdays are my bete noire, I've always rationalised it like this. As Friday is half a day at work and half a day working from home my weekend (for me) officially starts on Thursday evening as Friday is such a short day in it doesn't count. Then because I'm still cruising on Mondays because of the weekend, I never really notice Mondays and they don't count. Tuesdays are when my "week" starts. And I hate them. This Tuesday is no exception, low bio-rhythms again, a lack of enthusiasm for the battle ahead and a complete unwillingness to get my lazy arse out of bed. The pedal in was again a slog that just needed to be defeated.

Like last night I pedalled the City Centre route as I wasn't chancing the cut as I didn't want a repeat of Dancing on Ice like yesterday morning. And I wasn't prepared to deploy a life jacket in case of total immersion. My water wings are big enough already thank you very much.

Last night's pedal went ok too, I broke the hour home again, although there was grid lock from virtually the Priory Road all the way through Selly Oak to the Outer Circle traffic lights. It didn't hold me up obviously but it must have been very very slow to move as all the cars and buses I passed I never saw again. Let's hear it for the bike!

I just want to be back down the canal though. Peace and quiet, no traffic apart from the odd Iped and it does wonders for my morale. This road riding thing is killing me.

Here's an assassination attempt from last week which Joby was good enough to put up on his Fight Bad Driving website.

Edit: My Radio interview for BBC 5 Live here. About 17 minutes 20 seconds in.

Monday, 18 January 2010

On my arse...Whoops!

I decided to pedal down the cut this morning as all of the snow appeared to be gone and the ground wasn't icy. So, I dived on the canal as usual at Selly Oak got about a mile along it just past University Railway Station and was enjoying the peace and quiet when I realised that I was in fact pedalling on sheet ice.

You know the cartoons where the character is running along a cliff then carries on running on thin air and only drops to Earth when he realises he is in fact in mid air? Well that was me pedalling on ice. It went something like this. Pedal pedal pedal. Ice! Oh shit! Crash...slide...ouch...check no one saw...pick bike up...walk past ice.

Most of the canal was ok, but areas where the towpath were exposed were bloody deadly. I kept a wary eye on the surface for the rest of the way and had to walk at a couple of places. I came off the cut at Gas Street and pedalled the rest of the way by road.

Now I'm having the debate about the route to pedal home. City Centre or Canal? All good fun though.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Back to normal?

It's Sunday morning, there's no snow, so it must mean Rugby is back! Off to coaching in about an hour. There's league games next week so I believe there's a practice match at the club. I won't be running it but I'll be there to keep an eye on the lads from the Advanced Player Development Group.

I cleaned my commuter, well when I say cleaned it I mean I got the worst of the crap off and gave all the moving parts a good lube. Time was against me yesterday so I couldn't do a thorough job as I would have liked. Next week will see me strip her right down and give her the TLC she needs at her age. 

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Film 2010, Barry Norman I ain't...

A good evening was had last night. Only due to the fact that Mum in Law volunteered her services to baby sit. Not such a big deal you might think, but when your son is very successfully hiding the 666 tattoo somewhere about his person you start to get idea of the magnitude of the task. At least there were no Rotweillers, 4 ugly horseman and various demons and imps setting up shop outside our house when we got back. So good news. My daughter was and is an absolute angel. They both are getting the same upbringing, so the diametrically opposed personalities has answered in no uncertain terms the nature v nurture question for me.

Sorry, major digression there, back to the evening. A few swift ales in the Dodford was followed by a trip to the cinema to watch Avatar.

Wifey and my daughter both absolutely loved everything about it. I sat there knowing that I had seen the future of cinema. Nothing will ever be the same again. I sort of know now how Sir Frank Whittle must have felt when he saw his first jet fly knowing that every plane that went before is now totally obsolete. 

I am sure that the art director, cinematographers and special effects folks will all get shed loads of awards. The effects were stunning, the 3D real while not being corny and the thought and attention to detail that went into it were quite literally on another planet. I cannot praise highly enough how the whole film looked and felt.

Now to do my Jeremy Clarkeson bit...

But. The story was more full of cliches than the average MassiveMTBer blog. The acting was wooden, the character development was non-existant, the plot, what there was of it was so predictable as was the script. I was half way through the film playing a game with myself to predict what would be said next, I was mostly correct. 

The baddie was so full of old Hollywood character traits that I was amazed they didn't give him a black hat and a droopy moustache, the good guy was a disabled Marine?! Oh please! Just how much of an obvious attempt to tug at our heart strings can you get? I'm surprised they didn't ship in his pet Labrador and summarily execute it during the attack scene. Oh sorry I forgot, they did a similar thing to the love interests angry flying horse thingy.

And as for the "message", I felt like someone was beating me about the head with a large brick wrapped in a burning  manuscript that had a very long and a very apologetic entreaty about the environment, Imperial Conquests and the genocide of the Native American peoples written in blood on it. I guess subtlety was not on the agenda when making the film. I have actually seen more subtlety both in plot lines and acting when I watch Lazytown with the Spawn of Satan.

So to summarise: A magnifcent visual spectacle that cannot be missed, a story, acting and message that leave a lot to be desired.

Onto bike/weight stuff. My interview for BBC Radio 5 Live seemed to go ok. I'll supply a link when I get it. I can't really remember much about it to be honest as it seemed to go just like a very informal telephone conversation. It lasted about 5 minutes I guess. The very nice lady who interviewed me was from my neck of the woods too, so we had something in common to kick off with. She seemed quite impressed that when she called I was making some Pakora using an Asian mate of mine Mum's recipe. Probably not what you want to hear when you call to talk about weight loss and excercise for your radio show!

Later on after shopping I'll be sorting my commuter out and getting my cycling kit sorted for next week. I'm looking forward to a full week's worth of pedalling next week as the met is looking wet but not snowy. At last!

Then I hope to be paying a visit to my Old Sergeant Major, I haven't seen him in a while which I always feel crushingly guilty about. He's a top bloke who deserves better off his troops. We never get together often enough as a group which is just not bloody good enough.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Friday progress report

I made it home in pretty good shape yesterday amazingly enough, especially after the carnage that was my morning commute when everything was horrible and not working right (me not the bike). I'm not keeping an eye on ride times or any other stats bar mileage and weight at the moment, but I did break the hour by 3 and a half minutes yesterday which if memory serves is a record pedal for the home journey. I was held up at traffic lights a lot too so for me I must have been flying. How does that work then?

Weekly weigh in showed a 4Ib loss which is great, especially as I have only pedalled 48 miles this week instead of my usual 96. Conditions and school closures had a very detrimental effect on my commuting. Hopefully the canal will be fit for pedalling on Monday and I can crack on. I have a thought to break the 100 miles next week. I may just do a "park and ride" next Friday to get a cheeky 12 miles in and take the total to 108 miles for the week. Still in 2 minds about that yet. Also work might intervene with bloody meetings.

This afternoon brings the interview for the Radio show mentioned earlier in the week. It's for BBC 5 Live no less. But the show is broadcast at 0300hrs on Tuesday mornings. Swings and roundabouts eh? Although it available to download as a Podcast.

I hope to get an off road ride in tomorrow, but obviously I'll need to recce the tracks close by first to see if they're rideable further out, I'll take a few bits of footage of that if I do go.

Miracles of miracles, we have a baby sitter tonight for the Spawn of Satan, much respect to Mum in Law who is taking her life in her hands to step into the breech. Me wifey and daughter are off to see Avatar tonight after a quick trip to the pub. Although I don't admit it to most or bore anyone with it, I'm a massive Sci Fi fan (geek) and I've been looking forward to this for a while. I've read mixed reviews about it so I'm going with an open mind. But 2 hours 40 minutes seems a tad too long. I'm not good at sitting in a cinema for anything much over an hour and a half. Kills my back too, me and cinema seats are not a match made in heaven.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Cold, damp, slushy and foggy.

And that's just me never mind the weather! I got up at my usual 0520hrs perfectly ok, bike out and away, roads pretty dodgy grip wise but as usual very little traffic. But oh my God, my bio-rhythms must be low or something today as I've never felt so tired and achey on any of my pedals. It was horrible. I'm not looking forward to my pedal home now.

I also had a weird one coming up to Spring Hill Library Island. It's a big island which is the junction of Dudley Road and the Inner Ring Road. The approach to it is 3 lanes, inside lane to turn left, middle lane straight on and outside lane straight on and right. I was in the middle lane, obviously towards the inside of that lane (if that makes sense) as I wanted to go straight on. Then a 4 x 4 overtakes me slowly, the driver then shouts at me "What the f**k are you doing in the middle of the road you c**t?" And then pulls in front of me, veers sharply into the left hand lane and actually turns left onto the Inner Ring Road. Totally bizarre, I was the only other bit of traffic on the road as well. I hadn't got my Muvi Cam on either, typical. Excuse dodgy picture editing, I'm no graphic artist! As you can see, he went out of his way to abuse me.

Human Beings - crap design...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Ok, total sense of humour failure now. Which for me is unusual. Had a great pedal home last night, even took my chances through the Birmingham City Centre and lived. The roads themselves were ok and I might even have got some footage for Joby's Fight bad driving website. Haven't downloaded the Muvi yet so wait out on that.

But to wake up to another 3" of snow this morning with the schools closed and having to drive in is now starting to wear a bit thin. Doesn't God, Mother Nature or whatever or whoever is in charge realise that there are people trying to get fit for f***'s sake! I can safely say they've made their point and they can stop now!

I had another article published on Bike Radar yesterday, the What Mountain Bike Editor says they're quite popular which is absolutely gobmacking me. I mean, who wants to hear about a fat bloke who pedals a bit, apart from a fat bloke who wants to pedal a bit? Seems there is a niche market out their!

Still, it takes all sorts to make a world...

Edit: Added footage mentioned above.

Dodgy wagon driver yesterday, missed me by 6" to get up the inside of traffic, he'd cut into the lane before that to get onto the main road, that bit didn't film properly so I stuck a still in the video to show it.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Normal service is resumed.

At last I managed to pedal in this morning, the roads were miraculously pretty clear with just the cycle lanes a bit sludged up. I can live with that though. It did feel pretty damn cold but I have no idea what the temperature was. After tipping the house upside down for my old Army headover which I singularly failed to find, I came upon my Shemagh (Google it) which I also had in the Army, that was thrown into service as a face/nose protector and it seemed to perform the task ok. Although my nose is quite sore even after the protection was worn. Just in case you've forgotten, I got frost nip on the end of my nose last week. The down side is looking like a suicide bomber while I'm pedalling. But Birmingham City Centre does offer enough life ending opportunities without the need to look like one.

I am missing my commute alomg the canal, I really enjoy that and might take a chance on going home that way tonight depending on what happens weather wise today. Rumour control says there's a thaw on the way. That only means wet and mud along the canal, I'll have to see about replacing my overshoes then.

Monday, 11 January 2010

What a morning...

We had another load of snow last night so I was digging the car out and gritting the Crescent at 0645hrs this morning, then I had to take my daughter to school as the buses weren't running and wifey doesn't drive in snow. We set off at 0745hrs and I dropped her off at 0845hrs and I have only just got back. All the main roads weren't gritted, traffic was at a standstill etc etc etc. You know the score. Absolutely bloody ridiculous. 3 and a half hours to travel a 9 mile round trip. What the f*** are we paying tax for?

Rant over.

According to the met the worst is now over, so hopefully I'll be pedalling tomorrow. Let's hope so.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Will I be pedalling tomorrow?

I'm keeping one eye on the met as it seems there is continuous snow forecast for the Midlands for the next 3 days. That'll mean no pedalling, working from home, school closures, or me having to drive the kids to school.

On a plus point I really enjoyed Tigers demolition job of Wasps yesterday. As an old front row player it warmed my heart to see the total destruction wrought on the Wasps pack by the Tigers in the scrums. Dan Cole the young Tigers Tight Head prop will play for England before he's much older. Remember you heard it here first!

I do try to not talk about Rugby too much on here but sod it, it's my Blog and Rugby is my first love!

I'll be cooking Sunday dinner later and cleaning my cycle shoes as the cleats are showing signs of rust and caked in dirt. They are 10 years old so need a bit of TLC.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Hatches battened down, drawbridge raised, moat dug...

Well, that's what it feels like here anyway. We managed to get out yesterday morning to get the shop in. The shop assistants all told us that people were "stocking up" (read panic buying) in anticipation of the weather to come. The good news was that first up the Council refilled the salt bin at the end of Crescent so me and a couple of my neighbours gritted the steep sloping road that leads out of the Crescent so we all could get out!

So shop done I had a pretty busy day at work (working from home). Without boring you all too much, my job always gets busier when there's a cold snap as National Grid and most of the other Utility Companies all use our kit, so quite naturally when the weather kicks off they get busy and consequently we do to.

All of my Rugby has been postponed as has the Coaching Conference tomorrow at Kidderminster. A bit peeved about that as it promised to be very good with some first class presenters booked. I hope they reschedule it rather than just forget it. But with the RFU you can never tell. Unfortunately they as an organisation do not impress me. They still operate like amateurs even though they've been fully pro for 15 years now. The Old School Blazer mentality still holds sway. Will Carling nailed it back in the day with his "57 Old Farts" comment. So a weekend in with the family, but I'll get in Tigers v Wasps on Sky this afternoon. 

This weather thing is really starting to get on my wick, I cannot plan a pedal in on Monday as I don't know what the kids schools will be doing, whether I will have to take them to school as wifey can't drive in these conditions or even if we will be able to get out at all. Bugger.

I now know exactly what the lyrics to "In the bleak mid winter" meant.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Progress and ramblings...

So I took the plunge last night and jumped on the scales. A 1Ib gain over the Christmas period. very pleased with that. As I said previously I didn't become a food/drink Nazi and equally I didn't kick the arse out of it. Well, just on the Coaches Christmas piss up. But we're all entitled to one blow out aren't we? Also the fact that I did a few off road rides obviously kept me ticking over.

The pedal home last night was f***ing horrible, I pedalled back for the first time through Birmingham City centre, while there were no overt attempts on my life I just had the feeling that as well lit and Hi Vis'd up as I was I was invisible. Pedalling around the Town Hall to get to the ring road was certainly shortening the odds on me living to a ripe old age.

I was pedalling through dry powdery dirty snow the whole route and the cycle lanes were again buried. But because of the volume of traffic I had to stay pedalling on them. The motorists were taking no prisoners at all when I tried very briefly to use the car lane to avoid the snowy cycle lane. I'll check the Muvi later but I'm not sure when it stopped working as it was off when I got home. It clearly doesn't like the cold which yesterday on the way home was - 5.

I have to say, I'm glad to say I'm not pedalling today as the kids are at home again due to schools being closed. I was absolutely broken when I get home last night, aching all over and totally bollocksed. I also got frost nip on the end of my nose. I'm not as young as I was!

Looking forward at the met, it seems we're getting dumped on again big style on Sunday, oh joy!

PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Motivating the wimp in me...

I pedalled here to work this morning after a day at home yesterday due to the conditions. That's the only positive thing I can say about it. It was, according to our temp guage in the garage -6 that's in the bloody garage, so f*** knows what the outside air temperature is, add on to that wind chill and you can get some idea of just how cold it was on the way in.

The road conditions were crap, the roads until I hit the main Bristol Road were not gritted and covered in snow, and the cycle lane on the Bristol Road was invisible under the stuff, so I was pedalling in the car lane. Luckily at the time I pedal in the traffic is minimal.

All of this pails into insignificance compared to the battle I had with myself from about 0355hrs about actually pedalling at all. I woke up at that time for whatever reason and just lay there thinking of all the reasons why I couldn't pedal in and wouldn't it be better to just phone in and work from home again and stay in bed? For an hour and a half I had an argument with myself but eventually I beat the wimp inside me and bit the bullet and did it. Purely down to the conditions I can honestly say this was the first pedal in that I haven't enjoyed.

I consider myself lucky, my personality type is pretty laid back, my worst mood could be described as mildy irritated. Usually I'm pootling along 90% of the time in a contented state taking absolutely no notice of anything. Thinking about it that's probably why I'm fat in all fairness. But I'm digressing, the point I'm trying to make (badly) is that this pedalling thing is a trial and it would be massively easy to jack.

I'm saying all of this as one of our comrades, James of "the 22 stone cyclist" fame is having a bit of a crisis at the moment, I commented at length on his Blog yesterday about how the things I've done in the past has equipped me to be self reliant if I wanted to achieve anything difficult, and added to my personality type I feel I have the tools to be successful at this. That sounds hugely pompous I know, but it's not meant to be. I'm trying to say that folks who are on this path without the benefit of past experience at digging in, toughing it out and ignoring your demons are to be applauded and are doing a far more admirable job than me.

As I said to James yesterday on his Blog, at the end of the day the only battle you have is with your own morale, not the conditions, not a crap bike, not a temporary bout of ill health and certainly not circumstances around you that seem to conspire against you. It's all down to your own mind and nothing else.

And that Dear Reader was why I got up this morning at 0530hrs and pedalled in after 90 minutes in bed of arguing with the wimp in me about why I shouldn't.

Thanks James. :-)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Global warming?

You want snow? This is snow.

The photo above was taken from my front door at about 2100hrs last night. Needless to say I'm typing this from home today as I won't risk the bike in conditions like this and the car won't get out my road as it's quite a steep slope, the neighbour's Landcruiser has just slid down the slope after a valiant attempt to get to work. The main road at the top is eerily quiet too. So it seems most people are saying sod it, I'm staying at home. Like me!

The downside is obviously no pedal, but sometimes you just have to bow to the inevitable and accept that Mother Nature is a bit more powerful than you. No sense getting all wound up over stuff you can't control is there?

I'm struggling to log into the work system too, which is a bit of a concern, so there might be a bit of catching up later when the IT trolls finally bowl up at HQ and sort it out. That's if they show up of course! 

So snowman building with the kids it is!

Our attempt finished at about 1040hrs.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Question answered

My question from yesterday "Was it a back to work novelty or a psychological change" about getting up and pedalling has well and truely been answered. Back to work novelty it was. A massive struggle to get my arse out of bed and onto the bike this morning, but I did it. Not as cold today as yesterday, still pretty icey though and the journey into work via the City Centre was totally without any Jobys.

The pedal home last night was pretty good too, I've captured the entire ride on my Muvi and will upload that at some point into today's blog. I've got a bit of editing to do obviously as I'll need to get an hours worth of footage into 10 minutes for Youtube purposes. Again, please excuse the panting, heavy breathing, snotting, coughing and general noises you don't want to hear. But I'm not as fit as I could be and it's still bloody hard work! I must work out how to put a sound track on or anything more pleasant than my bodily noises.

The rapidfire shifters, new brake blocks and grips are performing nicely, although the "numb hand" thing is getting to be a bit of an issue, I have well padded grips and gel gloves, other than trying to adjust my riding position I guess I'll have to grin and bear it I suppose. If anyone knows of a numb hand "miracle cure" then please let me know.

Canal part of my commute home:

And the road part!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Where's the bloody Gulf Stream when you need it?

For the first time I had to walk the bike to get out of my Crescent this morning, the road was totally unrideable. The main roads were ok though, so I got in ok, a busy week work wise as always in the first week of the month, stats, MI and invoices to produce. Oh the ecstasy!

I'll definately risk the cut tonight on the way home, the thought of battling with rush hour traffic through Birmingham City Centre is a non-starter.

I was quite surprised at how easy the first morning back was morale wise, I didn't struggle to get out of bed and I wasn't thinking of my usual excuses not to pedal (even though I ignore them), is this the first day back at work novelty value or has a corner been turned psychologically?

I'll fit the Muvi on my lid on the way home and see what kind of footage I get from the cut and the Northfield High Street assassination squads.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Doesn't time fly?

Well, Christmas is now back in the box and I'm getting my kit ready for the commute tomorrow, looks like a very cold week in store reading the met on the Beeb web site. More layers then.

Just came back from a walk over the Lickey's with the hounds and family, there was a couple of MTBers doing their stuff, albeit a bit gingerly, much respect, the place was like an ice rink. No doubt I'll be using the City Centre route in and towpathing it home tomorrow.

I'll take the Muvi as well and maybe if conditions allow I'll film the return commute just so you can see my daily route. I'll check to see it's not terminally boring before I post it though!

An afternoon in front of the telly beckons after a Sunday Dinner, wifey is producing her roast chicken special which is always something to be anticipated with much glee.

I'll do a weigh in at the end of the week just to give me a chance to shift some of the pounds gained over the break, I haven't been a pig and I have got a few pedals in so I'm hoping for not too a bad a showing, obviously anticipating a gain. I've stopped trying to second guess it though as there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

All positive comments...

I've just been reading some of the comments on the article I did on Bike Radar for What Mountain Bike. It seems that it has touched a bit of a nerve with some people and there appears to be quite few more folk in my (our) situation. I'll ignore the bit of an argument over diet on there as there are as many diets that work or don't work as there are people who are overweight. It seems to me that you can over complicate things. Eat sensibly using all food groups, get regular exercise and you'll do ok. Maybe a bit simplistic for some who study this kind of thing but it's a sensible starting point for the average bloke in the street like me.

I always knew that I was harming myself by being lethargic and over eating. That much was obvious. In fact it was a no brainer.The thing was, I was a very active person before, MTBing, Rugby, hill walking, swimming were all regular activities, plus regular gym visits for weight training to aid the rugby. To go from all of that to nothing and upping my beer and take outs is tantmount to self abuse and harming yourself. People get sectioned for stuff like self harm, so why is obesity seemingly ignored before it gets out of hand? Why do people like me let themselves get in that state? I haven't any answers unfortunately and I think it's worthy of study if NHS figures on obesity is anything to go by.

I've always been a master of understatement and re-reading my blog it doesn't really reflect just what hard work and amount of sheer bloody minded will power it takes to do something like this. 3 stones in 6 months, over a 1000 miles pedalled is for me and how I was, totally astounding. Every day is a battle of wills, with me still looking for excuses not to pedal or not to have a take out or the odd beer or 3. The irony is, once I'm out pedalling I love it. So why is it such a battle to get out there? I'm waiting for the time when it becomes automatic and I just get on my bike without a second thought. Or that I don't crave a take out curry or a ruck of ale. 

I currently still have 1 take out a week and go to the pub 1 night a week, only for 3 pints. I'm considering reducing that. Dunno if that's wise yet though.

More questions, no answers, still bloody hard work. But your support as always is a key motivating factor. I'll be here for you folks too. Mad this innit?

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year of pedalling and getting thinner!

Here's the the exciting thing that I've mentioned a couple of times. This happened purely by chance via Facebook. I joined the "Mint Sauce" group and I noticed the name of Steve Worland on it. Steve wrote fabulous MTB articles for my favourite and much missed MTB magazine MTB Pro. I emailed him to see if it was him and to say how much I enjoyed his articles back in the day. Steve very kindly emailed straight back and we exchanged a bit of an email conversation that ended up with him inviting me to write about my experiences as a "Fat Biker" which they "What Mountain Bike" might publish in some form. And there you have it. I have no idea where it'll go, but as I've said loads of times, if it helps one person get off their arse as you fellers have have helped me then job done.

Back to today, a day out for me and my family today, probably to Arrow Valley, the frost was a right hard one and the tracks will be totally unrideable if the last week is anything to go by. Not to worry though, I'll be back on my commute on Monday. Tomorrow is a day out in Worcester and on Sunday I'll be taking it easy as it's work proper the next day, so all in all a bit of a wind down back to real life. An enjoyable break though and I got more pedals in than I thought I would.