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, 28 February 2010

More bikey stuff...

I nearly got my commuter clean yesterday, but was stopped in my tracks when I discovered a very loose spoke on the back wheel. I can fix most things and do most work on a bike that it needs. But wheels are something of a black art so I didn't touch it. I threw the wheel and the Spawn of Satan in the car and drove over to Northfield Cycles where Richard said that if it was him he'd leave it loose as the wheel was true. To fix it would mean having to sort all the adjacent spokes out. I'm not the lightest bloke and the Ridgeback does do some pretty uneven ground so I told him to crack on and get it sorted properly, which for the princely sum of £6 he did. 

The computer.

I fitted a Brooks Saddle to my Giant, got the saddle bag sorted and fitted the rear light to it. I'm just waiting for the computer to arrive from Amazon. It's the same type as I use on my commuter and it does all the basics very well. 

As promised piccies of the Giant.

So the rest of today is about getting the Ridgeback put back together as I'll be on that tomorrow. The weather is very wet and very windy. Or so the Beeb website says.

Yesterday afternoon was spent at The Dodford watching the Irish beat England. The score was a fair reflection of the game with the Irish being deserving winners. I am now at a loss as to describe what I feel for what England are trying to do. I was in the company of another experienced coach yesterday afternoon, my old mukka Ski and we were totally mystified. I now think something is very wrong in the England Camp. How can experienced professionals who we know can play exciting attacking rugby for their clubs week in week out now seem to be unable to even deliver an accurate pass when the're in a white shirt? Hell, even Wilkinson missed the tackle on Bowe for Irelands winning try! Actually he was in completely the wrong place because our back row had gone AWOL. I dunno what to think, but I now believe the coaching staff are in danger of being asked to leave. 

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Garage and fettling...

This morning is about bikey things, commuter is getting a major degunk, adjustments and lube, then I'll be fitting the last few bits to my road bike.

This afternoon is being spent down the Dodford Inn watching England v Ireland. I'll need to watch it at the pub as I'll need the beer to drown my sorrows as I can't see England winning this one.

I saw Wales v France last night and while the Welsh will be pointing at a second half revival, I hope they're not kidding themselves, the French never looked troubled and Lievremont's annoying habit of substituting almost half his team in the second half meant it was that that got the Welsh back in it. the French defence and commiting very few to the breakdown is key to their success. French Grand Slam I think.

Friday, 26 February 2010

For the Father's of Daughters.

10 Rules for taking my Daughter out

Rule One: If you pull onto my drive and blow your horn you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two: You do not touch my daughter in front of me. You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.

Rule Three: I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your trousers ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waistline.

Rule Four: I'm sure you've been told that in today's world, sex without utilizing some kind of "Barrier method" can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.

Rule Five: It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is: "Early."

Rule Six: I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Seven: As you stand in my front room, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the film, you should not be dating my daughter. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process than can take longer than painting the Forth Road Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Eight: The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a Snorkel parka zipped up to her throat. Films with a strong romantic or sexual theme are to be avoided; films which feature chain saws are okay. Rugby games are okay. Old folk’s homes are better.

Rule Nine: Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, four-eyed, greying, middle-aged, dim-witted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless God of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, a pick axe, and I know of a few rarely visited acres of land near my house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Ten: Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a frost covered peak near Port Stanley. Or a fighter jet over the desert in Kuwait. When my Gulf War syndrome or other things I have been exposed to start acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull onto the drive you should exit the car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, and then return to your car. There is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

Another Century...

Even though I did a 101 miles this week I have remained static at 18 st 7Ibs, I stayed static the last time I did a century in a week. Maybe I shouldn't go for it again! Not too bothered though, the better weather is coming (so I'm told) and I'll be able to crack on and clock up some real miles.

The pedal home last night was along the cut, very wet and very peaceful, I'll take that. My legs were very tired though, I was quite glad to get home, the last climb up Cock Hill especially took it out of me. I've been out of the saddle getting up there lately, yesterday was a sit down grind.

This afternoon is about getting the Spawn of Satan's trampoline built in the garden without him hiding my tools and bits from the kit. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Birmingham Royal Ballet...

I hope the title caught your attention! Birmingham Royal Ballet is on the hill going up into Selly Oak and it is where I punctured this morning, I was up late anyway and taking it pretty easy going in. The old legs are are a bit tired. Their drive is very well lit and I took advantage of the illumination to fix the puncture. 10 minutes later I was on my way and doing battle with the puddles on the canal. The first time this week I've gone in to work down the canal. On a plus I noticed some Crocus' popping their heads above the grass on the drive, is Spring on its way?

Yesterday's ride home was again along the cut, very wet and very muddy and strangely for the conditions the towpath was quite busy. Which irritates me a tad. The towpath is mine!

Richard from Northfield Cycles called me yesterday to tell me that my Road Bike was ready for collection. Cool! So I got home, dumped my commuter in the garage and Wifey dropped me off in Northfield opposite the Black Horse Pub. That photo of the Black Horse below is taken from where I sit most nights on my bike at the Northfield lights, maybe a cyclist took it?

Richard had got my bike ready for me and with a few minor adjustments to saddle and bars I was off. I did a 5 mile loop around the Lickeys to test gearing and just to see if I could remember how to ride an anorexic machine like this. There were a few missed changes due to forgetting which was up and which was down, but all in all I'll take it as a win. I have a computer to put on and a Brooks saddle to fit probably on Saturday and then it'll be ready for action. Just wait for the nicer weather though.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Battle won...Not the war though...

My inner wimp was really giving it loads this morning, from very early O'Clock I was contemplating not pedalling, we had a good snow fall last night so I was anticipating very bad roads. But the lean mean fighting machine won the argument and I got up at my usual 0500hrs and got my pedalling kit on and opened the front door. I'm glad I did get up to pedal, most of the snow had gone and it was pretty warm (relative term). It must have rained in the night after we went to bed.

The pedal in was very good, I was feeling quite strong and felt I got a bit of a lick on. I went through the City Centre and for the first time ever, beat the 50 minute pedal in mark!

How the body and mind and mind works I have no idea, yesterday I felt bloody awful, no enthusiasm and feeling pretty leaden. I even had a dose of saddle soreness as well to contend with, the first lot I've had in months, yet today I'm flying along feeling good. Bizarre.

I fitted some of these at the weekend:

They're Giant Ergo Contact Bar Ends, they seem to be doing the trick with the numb hand thing and aiding my hill climbing, I don't know if it's these that have upped my pace a bit, I know they've stretched me out on my bike so maybe I'm a bit lower when I'm pedalling. I've also noticed my knees are getting a bit closer together when I'm pedalling too. All fat bikers will know exactly what I mean by that!

The pedal home yesterday was a bit grim, a headwind and snow to contend with, I chose the city centre route home as the cut was still icy and although there was loads of traffic I never had any Joby's to speak of. Selly Oak as usual was grid locked and maybe I shouldn't feel all smug, but I was getting one or two hard stares off car drivers as I rode past their traffic jam. I suppose me smiling at them wasn't helping their mood. Just trying to be friendly like!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Who'd have kids?

I know I shouldn't moan, but...

At about 1230hrs yesterday my mobile rings and I see it's wifey calling, I answer and she tells me that she's rushing Dan (Spawn of Satan) round to A&E. What the f**k has he done now I ask?

Lately he's had a bad cold so we bought him some Medised which is like a cheaper unbranded Calpol Night, it contains Paracetomol and a sedative. Basically it helps him sleep when he's a bit under the weather. The little git had drank about half a bottle!

Now I can hear you thinking how the hell did we let him have access to medicine? Surely it should have been out of reach of Satanic claws.

If I may I'll let you know the security measures we have in place. Upstairs every door has an external bolt up high to prevent him getting in to the bedrooms (except his own). We have all electrical sockets covered, child catches on every draw and cupboard, and we even have the TV high on the wall (as Rafe can confirm) as he smashed the last one that was down low on a TV stand. Oh, plus he smashed the gas fire and wrecked a carpet. But hey, that's Dan.

Anyway, moving on, we relented and now keep the bathroom door open, as he's a "big boy" and wants to go to the loo on his own. Fair enough. This is progress. Yesterday after going to the loo on his own, he came down stairs and showed wifey the empty medicine bottle saying he's had a drink. This bottle was in the cupboard, high on the wall, next to the bathroom sink. We can only surmise, he used his toilet stand to climb onto the sink then reach into the cupboard and removed the bottle, then there's small matter of the "child proof" bottle top.

To cut a long story short, he's ok after a visit to A&E lasting 6 hours for observation. I could bore you with all of the hassle wifey had there but that's a novel in itself. And it's a bit stressful.

All of the above meant I had to come home early as daughter had a Docs appointment for an injection which meant I had to take her as wifey was trapped in A&E.

I started to pedal home on the cut, but it was too icy so I came off at Ladywood Middleway, pedalled through 5 Ways down the ring road and got on the Bristol Road at the MacDonalds junction. Selly Oak was nose to tail which obviously didn't bother me and I was home in time to take daughter to the docs after a quick shower.

Wifey and Dan got home about 1810hrs, with him being his normal self and wifey ticking like a meter. Which lately because of Dan is her normal self.

This morning's pedal was through the city centre as the cut was still icy, a good headwind meant it was a bit slower, but I found my new Lizard Skin socks last night so feet were toasty again despite it being bloody freezing this morning.

Like I said, who'd have kids...

Monday, 22 February 2010

My feet are freezing!

Standard pedal in, I overtook a new cyclist (well new to me) by the Bristol Road MacDonalds, a young bloke on a MTB lit up like the Walsall Illuminations. He had LEDs stuck everywhere, a tad of an overkill if you ask me, but it obviously makes him feel safer. When I was catching him up I first thought he had a helmet cam on as I could see something Duck Taped to the top of his lid, but no, it was another light! I said good morning to him as I went by and he answered with the obligatory "All right mate" I never saw him again so I guess he must have turned off pretty soon afterwards.

I had a fear of more snow this morning but we never had any more overnight. There was the odd snow flurry from my house up until Northfield but afterwards I never saw any more, not even on the ground. It must be our micro climate again. But by all that's holy it was f*****g cold! I couldn't find my new Lizard Skin waterproof socks so I put my old ones on, bad move I should have ripped the house apart for my new ones, my feet are like blocks of bloody ice, they're actually painful. Not good.

Loads of comments yesterday about tyre size for my new bike, it seems it's a subject that has strong opinions from people. I like that. A good argument (friendly of course) always seems to get to the crux of the matter and throws up some good ideas. It's amazing what 2mm of rubber can do! Anyway, as a long time absentee from road bikes I'm always happy to be guided by those that know as a starting point. Then no doubt I'll have my own ideas as to what works and what doesn't. Keep the suggestions coming folks!

Sunday, 21 February 2010


I was awoken as usual at 0630hrs on the weekend to the Spawn of Satan bashing the shite out of his wardrobe shouting "MOMMY!" Better than any alarm clock I can tell you, but it doesn't have a snooze function. So, up and at 'em then.

I opened the blind in his room to be presented with a winter wonderland. Again. Brilliant. Not. Looking at the met on the Beeb we have snow for the next 3 days. So schools will be closed, roads will be chaos and in all probability I'll be working from home.

Yesterday was a good day though, a new bike was ordered from Northfield Cycles. A Giant Defy 2 as mentioned yesterday. I took an equivalent sized Giant for a spin and quite surprisingly I was pretty comfortable and my belly didn't intrude quite as much as I feared. Richard the owner said he will ensure everything is adjusted perfectly for me when I stop by mid week to collect it. I've asked for the Kenda 25s to be swapped at Point of Sale for some Schwalbe 23s puncture resistant tyres, with my track record for punctures I consider that a must. He is also fitting some Giant branded mudguards, they're pretty low profile so don't intrude that much. But again, mudguards are a must if it is a primarily being used for upping my commuting miles.

Onto planned rides, Rafe and Matt have bullied me mercilessly into doing the Oxfordshire Classic. Apparently it's a 30 mile or 60 mile loop. The classic bit is the 60 mile according to Rafe. As the ride is early May I think the 60 mile Classic is the one to do. I may regret typing that but I like a challenge. But I am looking forward to meeting Matt and pedalling with the pair of reprobates.

I have already got a few extended routes to work in mind for when the weather improves a bit. A 20 mile commute in via Solihull and a 30 mile commute in via Kidderminster and Dudley. I'll keep the ride home its normal 12 miles. I do like to get home of an evening at a decent time.

Today is all about keeping the kids happy and cooking the Sunday dinner. Roast Beef today. Obviously there's no coaching today due to the weather.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

What a day yesterday!

A lot happened, I sold my Motorbike very very quickly, I did a bit of looking around online and got an exact idea of what the bike was worth, which was a nice surprise. I then phoned Gareth at Cradley Kawasaki the place where I got the bike in the first place (actually the place where I always get my Kwaks, bits, servicing, hell they even taught me to ride as well!) and after a quick chat about condition, mileage etc he offered about what I thought he would allowing for dealer margin of course. 

Got home, got the bike out and rode it the 11 miles to Cradley Heath, Gareth handed me the cheque there and then and Wifey gave me a lift back home. 

So a new commuting bike is in the offing. As well as a much needed addition to the Chapman exchequer, as wifey lost her job a while back which is pressurising us a bit, but we're not the only ones.

We went out last night as well to celebrate wifey's birthday, a couple in the Dodford, where the Richard the Gaffer gave us a drink on the house to celebrate wifey's birthday, then a couple in the Wildmoor Oak and finally a curry in Rubery at the Masala, they specialise in Bangladeshi Cuisine and it's bloody lovely! (no website, sorry). I had a good chat with wifey about the bike choice and all of the helpful advice you gave me and I have arrived at decision with her help as she knows me best.

Drum roll...I will be getting a Giant Defy 2. The reason for that is this. I have a full suspension MTB, I have a MTB all roadified that will be used as a winter hack and towpath basher, the yawning gap I have in my bike stable is an out and out road bike. I have a number of big rides planned which really demands a road bike. Also my pedalling is a serious thing now and the Giant will be used a lot to build mileage, get fitter and help me over the various humps of stationary weight loss. All dependant on a test ride of course!

Northfield Cycles will be getting a visit today. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't bought a new bike in 20 odd years!

Onto rugby matters, I had a phone call off the Chairman of a local Rugby Club yesterday asking me to pop along and meet their committee with a view to me taking over as Head Coach. I'm happy where I am at the moment though, so even though this new thing is a paid position I'm still in two minds about it. I'll go along next month and have a look and see what they have to say. I've been Head Coach of a league club before and it is an all consuming activity and pretty much a thankless task. It's all your fault when you lose and it's the brilliance of the players when you win. Neither is true of course but bloody hell, it does get a bit wearing. That can go on the back burner for a bit though.

Commuter will be getting a good clean in a minute, cycling kit sorted, then a little birthday party for the Spawn of Satan who is 3 years old today. Happy Birthday Dan!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Winter is back

A 4" dumping of snow from yesterday afternoon to yesterday evening. Again the cycling deity's have conspired to stop me pedalling everyday, my intention was to do a park and ride this morning as it's a short day here in Smethwick and crack the 100 miles/week barrier again. But, what with the weather and me having to go to HQ this morning, it has all gone tits up.

I escaped early yesterday as I had a blood test at the Docs in relation to my blood pressure meds. No problems, just seeing if my new found regime is making a difference to what I need to take.

The pedal home was very snowy and wet, the cut was pretty muddy too, but Brindley Place was rammed, what with it being half term there were pedestrians everywhere. The queue for the Sea Life Centre looked like the queue to get in the Vatican in Rome so consequently it was very slow going through there, added to the fact I caught every red light as well, made it what I thought was a very slow journey, but amazingly it was well under the hour again. I must be going faster than I think I am.

I'm going to make a few tentative phone calls today with a view to selling my motorbike, depending on the answers I might be in the market for getting a new ride to work bike. I've been provisionally looking at a Giant Defy, the write ups seem pretty good for a fairly comfortable entry level road bike. Or a Kenesis Crosslight which would mean I can carry on doing the Canal stuff. It may be all academic though if the phone calls re the Kawasaki don't go the way I want. As always your opinions on that always welcome!

Progress report - another 3Ibs gone this week, 18st 7Ibs now and only 3Ibs off the 4 stone lost milestone. It might be a bit tricky that next week, I'm out tonight with wifey pubbing and currying it celebrating her 40th birthday and pedalling could well be down next week due to the weather, heavy snow forecast again for the start of next week here in Brum.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Definitley improving...

Usually on my pedal in at stupid O'Clock there is very little to report, this morning is slightly different.

Now while I might not be the fastest hill climber, I have yet to pedal with anyone who is quicker than me downhill. So, back to this morning, I saw about 400 yards in the distance just past Griffin's Brook by Bournville College a flashing LED, a cyclist, (I hardly ever see any other cyclists in the morning except Council Workman occasionally, either walking his bike or pedalling very slowly on the pavement and the other one is anorexic roadie who usually destroys me up the hill into Selly Oak). Target aquired then, reeling him in, reeling him in, then just at the start of the hill into Selly Oak I let my downhill momentum carry me straight past him (a fully proper kitted out bloke on a MTB) and then I was out of the saddle blasting up the hill for all I was worth. Which is a first for me up that particular hill. I kept the pressure on out of the saddle until very nearly the top of the hill and just as I sat down, anorexic roadie came cruising past me at warp 9, bugger! There is a bit of a downhill after the summit and I accelerated again to try to catch anorexic roadie. Well, you've got to try haven't you? As luck would have it, the lights at Selly Oak were against him so even though I was actually gaining on him on the down hill bit he had to stop at the lights. It turns out he's a pretty nice bloke, we had a chat about the winter and how crap it's been, said our goodbyes and off he went. As Lance says "You have two bullets to fire in any race, my magazine was now empty, bullet one, the uphill past MTB man, then bullet two accelerating again to catch anorexic roadie. While we were chatting at the lights council workman appeared on the pavement pushing his bike, I never noticed him in amongst the racing. Anorexic Roadie turned off opposite Selly Oak Fire Station, so I guess he probably works at Birmingham University or the QE Hospital.

The rest of the pedal was through the City Centre without incident.

The reason I gave the cut a miss was because it was so bloody wet and muddy last night, the picture below shows it pretty well, wifey came out and took a photo, as to quote her I "looked like a drowned rat",  other than the really wet conditions it was a really pleasant pedal. The upside to a wet cut is there is no-one else mad enough to use the towpath so I have it all to myself.

A good start to a day, I never would have even contemplated that kind of action 6 months ago. I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Back in the dark.

I managed to get up at a normal 0500hrs this morning which meant my joyous dawn pedal in from yesterday morning was transformed into a dark slog along the cut with just the odd Blackbird for company, until I got to Brindley Place (Birmingham City Centre), where the Canadian Geese were flocking on the towpath in large numbers doing their level best to block me and to wake the entire City with their honking.

A serious piece of hard won advice from me to you Dear Reader: If you come across Water Fowl of any description while pedalling along a towpath or river bank DO NOT under any circumstances try to get past them water side of them. Always ride between them and the bankside. If you do try to go between them and the water they'll panic and try and go through you to get to the safety of the canal, pond or river. All that will result in is maybe you coming off your bike and maybe going in the drink or injury to the bird. Neither of which is to be recommended unless you're deliberately going for Goose or Duck for Sunday Dinner.

Yesterday's pedal home was again without incident and I got back home in well under the hour and feeling in pretty good shape. Cock Hill was powered up out of the saddle and I got my second ever overtake in on the hill just before the Dingle Pub (or what's left of it). A bloke about my age on a MTB was victim number 2, bring 'em on!

As Redbikes was talking about his Bike test yesterday I thought I'd stick in a gratuitous photo of my Bike. A Kawasaki ZX 636. It's a summer toy that sits in my garage most of the year. I love it dearly but it might have to go to fund my ever increasing cycling addiction.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

A close call...

At my normal time this morning (0500hrs) I woke up. But for some reason I rolled over and went back to sleep. I guess the Tuesday thing had kicked in. The next thing I know it's 0600hrs. Bugger. So I lie there for 10 minutes having an argument with myself about working from home, or phoning in sick as I have got the Spawn of Satan's cold. Well the start of it. A sore throat. But no, I got up finally and pedalled in. And I'm bloody glad I did. The hour later start meant I was pedalling in the dawn and not the dark, I could see down the cut and the dawn chorus was kicking off big style. It was wondorous. I actually got in to work in pretty much normal daylight. That has started my day fantastically, I'm in such a good mood now and it's Tuesday, my Devil Day. Hah! Up yours Tuesday!

The pedal home last night was ok, did it again in under the hour, which seems to me like my "normal" time for the ride home now. The 2 steepish hills at the end of my ride now do not pose any problems and I don't even dread them like I used to.

It looks like I'm on an upward curve at the moment after a few bad weeks. Maybe it's just more daylight.

My latest blog on Bike Radar by the way...

Monday, 15 February 2010

A new week.

I know the met is forecast as wintery for this week, but it was pretty warm when I pedalled in this morning, I even heard Blackbirds singing along the cut for the first time this winter. Is it a sign I wonder? I never saw a soul along the canal and I have no Jobys* to report for the road part of the commute.

Coaching went well yesterday, and I even found myself running around reffing a practice game with not too many ill effects which was a pleasant surprise. The weather was bright and not too cold either which was a bonus. Our training ground is pretty much the nearest thing to the Siberian Steppe when it's on form, but yesterday it was behaving itself.

I have to talk about the England game yesterday. No doubt the press will be shouting hysterically about "Robot England", who played badly against an Italian side bereft of ideas themselves etc etc. But if I may, I'd like to point out one or two things. The Italians are absolutely no mugs, most if not all of their players play in the English Premiership or the French equivalent and their Forward Pack is a match for anyone's. Indeed Sergio Parrise their injured back rower could arguably be called the best back row forward in the world. Although the Kiwis would be screaming Ritchie McCaw at you. The thing people forget about the Italians is that they don't come to play themselves, they have not got the midfield backs for that, instead they come to stop you playing, they spoil fast ball, they happily give penalties away so the game is slowed right down and they defend like their lives depend on it. All of which makes it very hard to build up a rythymn and put any pace in the game. The bottom line is England came away with a win and should be happy with that. But, and it's a big but, I was very disappointed with our kicking game. Wilkinson in particular has had lately a very bad run of kicking out of hand. And he is not playing flat enough. If the coaches can get him to step a meter or two nearer the gain line he'd be a bit more threatening to the opposition. Also England would benefit getting Dave Aldred back in to address the poor kicking out of hand, he is a world class kicking coach and needs to be asked back into the fold. John Callard just isn't cutting the mustard as a kicking coach.

Sorry about the Rugby stuff, not everyone's cup of tea I know, but it's my blog and you don't have to read the rugby stuff!

* Joby - a life threatening bike related incident.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Rugby day.

Coaching at Bees this morning, watching England play Italy this afternoon. With the added bonus of Wifey's brilliant Sunday roast with all the trimmings. Pork today.

Bike stuff is all sorted for tomorrow too, weather looks wintery for next week.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Family day today...

We enjoyed a few pints at the Dodford last night, Richard had got a lovely IPA in from a local Brewer Cannon Royall Breweries, which was very gluggable and it could have got messy if we hadn't got the Spawn of Satan in tow to remind us we have to go home after 3 pints! In all fairness he wasn't too bad for him though.

I sorted my commuter and cycling kit out yesterday (Saddle repaired) as well as checked my Rifle Cabinet and Ammunition safe was ready for the Police's inspection visit on Monday. I got quite a bit done which was nice. I do dislike doing admin at the weekend.

Today is about spending "quality" time together, a morning out at for a bimble down the canal at Stoke Prior near Bromsgrove with Wifey, the hounds and the kids, chuck Dan over the swing park, knacker him out and be back in time for tea and medals.

Then hopefully, I can watch France v Ireland in the 6 Nations.

Planned route me and my mate are doing to my Mom and Dad's in the summer.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Moving in the right direction...

A 2Ib weight loss this week which is nice, and again has shown I musn't get pissed off when nothing happens even when I do high (for me) mileage, I mean a 106 mile week a few weeks ago and not an ounce lost and only 54 miles this week and 2Ibs lost. I'm sure there are experts out there who can explain it. If so, let me know. I do need to know stuff like that.

Reading a few other blogs has also shown that I wasn't alone in getting a bit down. It seems the malady has been Nationwide, maybe it's the Winter, maybe it's the sheer grind of what we're doing but whatever the reason it yet again proves that this is more of a psychological battle than a physical one. It seems most people's Demons have been pretty active lately. I know mine have. But they're back in their box for now anyway. It might also be prudent at this point to thank everyone who has and who do show their support. I describe this fat bikers blogging thing as a community, and it bloody well is. So ta very much you lot!

I'll be sorting commuter out this evening after a swift visit to my local for my Friday pint with the family. We stay as long as the Spawn of Satan is behaving himself and the minute he kicks off we go. It's a personal thing, but I have an aversion to families who stay in a pub/restaraunt with mis-behaving kids. Everyone works hard these days and are entitled to a bit of peace and quiet in their down time so we will not inflict him on others when he's grown his horns. He starts, we go. Simple.

I had a bit of a morale booster yesterday too, one of my old Sub Contractor's popped by to say hello, I hadn't seen him since about August last year, he wandered into my office, his jaw dropped and said "What the f*** has happened to you?!" I told him I'd got aids...

Thursday, 11 February 2010

What else can possibly happen?

So I don't have to go to Bracknell! Phew...

I fixed the bike last night, flat front repaired, and the gears things was a stick in the derailleur which cacked the indexing. Both sorted in record time thankfully.

Which meant I could pedal in today! Bonus!

The whole pedal went pretty well, through the City Centre because we had a bit of snow last night and I didn't want to risk the cut being icy. As you know I pedal in at stupid O'Clock which means minimal tin boxes trying to kill me. I got to work, got off the bike and the saddle got off with me, both rails snapped! I mean, come on! I've lost 3 and a bit stones, how tough does a saddle have to be? It now means I've had to get one of my engineers to give me and my bike a lift home when he comes in at 0800hrs.

What next?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Just playthings for the Gods are we!

I had a great pedal home last night, I took the long way down the cut, off at Kings Norton and did NCR5 back home for 16 miles. I was feeling good, the sun was out and everything was right with the world.

This morning I was up at the crack of Sparrow fart as usual (0515hrs) and did my usual ablute, got all kitted up and rolled my bike out of the garage...Or tried to. A flat front tyre! Just as I was about to get round to fixing it I noticed that my drivetrain and gears were all clunky and not rotating correctly. How can a bike be working perfectly when you put it away and be all buggered when you come to it the next day? I hadn't got the time to muck about, especially in the dark so Bike away, root around for everyday clobber to wear (tricky as I couldn't turn any lights on to avoid waking the family) then into the car and arrive here at work.

To top it all off it looks like the Spawn of Satan (my 2 year old son Dan) is coming down with a nasty cold. This is bad for 2 obvious reasons. He's even more Diablic when he's ill and he'll probably give it to everyone else, including me with all of the implications for pedalling!

Tonight will be fixing (hopefully) my bike and tomorrow is a work meeting in Bracknell, so no pedal then either.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A tail wind?

Was it the rest or was it a tail wind? I absolutely flew home last night, I went the along the cut and did the whole journey in 51 minutes, considering that it is normally an hour or slightly less then that was remarkable. I really did feel pretty strong and seemed to be pedalling in every part of the journey in a higher gear. I did catch every traffic light on green for the first time ever though. Maybe it is a combination of everything.

That leads to a question, why should I be making a big deal about time? I'm not cycle training per se, although I love cycling, I'm cycling to lose weight. I have no intention of doing cycle training for competitions. I don't do races, never have never will. I have my Rugby to stir my competitive juices. So why the obsession with time?

This morning was a bit of a slow burn (Tuesday), I was up half an hour later than usual, but I was in bed late at 2330hrs due to a Rugby meeting I had to attend in Solihull last night. I am on record at the club as saying I hate meetings, but this one as meetings go wasn't too bad. I only got to the sticking needles in my eyes stage once.

So, out of the house at 0550hrs and chance the cut in the dark, bad move, my front light batteries started to go so I had dim light all the way along which by necessity slowed me up a bit. I arrived at work with absolutely no ill effects and not even sweating. Which is good news for my colleagues.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Wet and windy.

That was a great re-introduction to commuting, a stiff head wind and raining. At least it wasn't snowing. But, I got here to work via the City Centre route with no Jobys to report. Albeit with an annoying creak in my stem/handlebar area.

Maybe you have (or haven't) noticed the addition to my Blog title, the "Don't ever stop" phrase in the brackets. This is a reminder to me that this battle is for the long haul, probably a lifetime one and I'd better get used to the fact. Last week I was feeling pretty cack, but could I have pedalled? Yes I probably could have. The bimble round the hills with Rafe was proof of that. The real issue I'm sure was a psychological one not a physical one. I still feel pretty lousy truth be told and my back is still giving me gip, but I pedalled in and it proves that my inner wimp Demon won the battle last week.

I've been looking back over my logs and I've noticed a pattern, usually after about 2 months there is an issue of some description that stops me pedalling, maybe I need to dial in a week off every 2 months to provide a natural R&R period? If I deliberately don't pedal instead of coming up with reasons not to then maybe my morale might not be so damaged? Interesting one that. April the 5th is my next break then, maybe.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Family day today.

Short blog today, a quick bimble with the family and hounds from hell down the cut, then do a few jobs around the house. Fix the door jam in the bathroom that the Spawn of Satan broke. Mend the garden fence, then do general family admin.

Oh and sort my kit out out for the weekly commute.

I must mention events at HQ yesterday, my formative rugby years were spent watching that great Welsh team of the 70's smash all before it. And being a spectator at a few of those matches I have never forgotten the "banter" aimed at anything English. So, while I take any victory or defeat with good grace and in the best rugby traditions, buy my opposite number a pint and have a laugh with them I do take any victory against the Welsh as especially satisfying, and to be perfectly honest it ruins my week if we lose against them. So morale is very up at the moment!

The Wynn Jones binning turned the match, at that point it was anyone's game. I imagine Sean Edwards particularly launching into him after the event. A poor game on the whole though. I'd have given man of the match to Nick Easter not James Haskell.

And finally my smugometer is now off the scale as young Leicester Tiger Dan Coles won his first cap coming on to shore up a teetering England scrum, as I said he would a few weeks ago.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


The weight is static again, as I haven't really put in any mileage this week, I'll call that a win.

Joolze has written about our day on Tuesday on her blog and sent me some brilliant photos. She is a great photographer as she makes me look thin(ner)! (Well almost).

And yes I did have a puncture...Doh!

The only mileage I've done is 12 off road miles with Rafe who did a stop off at my house on the way home yesterday.

I hope he won't be offended when I say that I wasn't expecting a young guy who is carrying no discernable pork and who told me he had just completed a MTB instructor's course. To say I was intimidated about the ride would be something of an understatement!

But I needn't have worried, he's a top bloke who followed an old fat git around the 12 mile loop with no complaint or criticism. In retrospect maybe I should have picked a less hilly route as he had been banging over the Peaks for the last few days on his course. The only thing is there ain't no less hilly routes around my place! For info we did the Clent foothills, over the Waseley Hills, then over the Lickey's then the Barnt Green Reservoir loop to finish. As Rafe said, it wasn't on his life list to do, but seeing Birmingham in panorama from the top of the Lickey's can be ticked off!

We had a good chat on the way round (when I had the breath to talk) really about life the universe and everything type stuff. It was very enjoyable and also gave me a bit of a kick up the arse I've been needing lately. So thanks for that mate! Route below.

I'll put up some footage of bits of the ride later, if there's anything worth sticking up here.

Off to 6 Ways today to spend some time shadowing the Warriors during their match day prep as they play London Irish in the LV Cup with the North Mids School of Rugby lads. That's after I've run a coaching session with them. The only downer is I'll miss the ritual slaughter of our Celtic cousins from accross Offa's Dyke at Twickenham. I'll be recording that to enjoy later.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Friday, I'm over the hills today...

Rafe is dropping by today so we'll be out over the Waseley Hills this afternoon. It will be muddy, it will be wet. I'm looking forward to it. It seems going coaching last night has rekindled my enthusiasm somewhat. The session went pretty well and the Bees Pro Coach a Kiwi by the name of Eugene Martin (who is a top bloke) was pretty happy with what me and my mukka ran for the boys, just for the record it was a hands and decision making session.

I'll update my weight and mileage tomorrow.

Matt Skinner the Editor at What mountain Bike very kindly replaced my smashed lid for me. A very smart Uvex helmet arrived at my abode yesterday. I spent 15 minutes last night attaching my Muvi Cam to it. I wasn't expecting it and sometimes gestures like that restore your faith in human nature.

Off on a very quick H&S visit to Worcester this morning...Yawn...

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A very bad week...

This "feeling cack" thing is getting a bit boring now. I'm still feeling very tired and achey. Add on to that my back is giving me gip and it turns into a bloody horrible week.

No cycling means my weight has probably gone up even though I haven't been stupid with my grub, although morale wavered last night and I had some toast just before I went to bed. That's a bad sign and I'm pissed off about that.

I think the phrase "down in the dumps" just about covers it. I have coaching tonight, which in all honesty I don't want to go to. But I will as I have other people relying on me. Then more coaching on Saturday, again which I don't want to go to, even though we're working with the Worcester Warriors 1st XV (a premiership rugby club). That normally enthuses me but I just seem to be out of enthusiasm at the moment.

Rafe is probably dropping by tomorrow afternoon on his way back from the edge of Empire and we'll be going out on an off road pedal for an hour which will be fun and something I am looking forward to.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A very unique day...

I suppose I did dangle a bit of a carrot before about what I did yesterday, not out of any sense of mischief or suspense, but genuinely because I wasn't sure if I could advertise what I was doing because of any publishing or copyright issues. Thankfully none of my concerns were warranted and the good people at What Mountain Bike and Joolze the photographer have no problems about me telling the story.

As you are all aware I do a weekly Blog for the Bike Radar website. That happened purely by luck after a chance encounter on Facebook with MTB Journo Steve Worland, who without wishing to embarrass him has always been my favourite MTB writer. It's probably best if I don't say for how long for both of our ego's. Suffice it to say Purple anodised MTB accessories were all the rage at the time along with 1" travel elastomer suspension forks!

Anyway, on the back of the Bike Radar Blog, Matt Skinner the editor felt my story was worth a feature in the Magazine itself and sent Joolze Dymond (cycling photoist extradordinaire) over to my place to do a photoshoot to accompany the article.

I was totally unsure what to expect on a photoshoot as I've never done one before, and to be honest the weather wasn't that great, rain, bitingly cold wind and muddy ground so I was a bit er, nervous is the wrong word, but you know...

Joolze bowled up at my house mid day as promised and after a quick cuppa and a chat about what she wanted for the shoot off we went. Basically she wanted high ground, a great landscape to frame it, be it a city or scenery. I chucked my Marin in my motor and we drove round to the back of the Waseley Hills as I had an idea to use the Malverns and the Worcestershire Countryside as a backdrop. We got the kit out of our cars, (Joolze carries more kit than I did when I was the Army) and we started our walk round the back of the Hills to where I thought would be a good place for the piccies.

It was at this point I discovered how Joolze likes to work. While wandering up the Bridleway I mentioned a Trig Point at the very top of the Waseleys, just in passing like you do, and she then decided to go up there instead, a bit out of the way from where we first said we'd go, but hey ho crack on, Joolze is the professional! A change of direction and a bit of a slog and we were there.

Like I said, I wasn't sure what to expect, maybe a few pics of me pedalling along the bridleway, maybe the odd pic of me standing by my Marin, take about 10 minutes and we'd be back in time for tea and medals. 

What I wasn't expecting was Joolze to produce out of her Tardis like kit bag sets of lights, wirless technology and stuff like that and proceed to start photographing me more times than I ever been photographed before, even at my wedding! Perhaps I should have cottoned on a bit quicker when she told me on our little trek to the top that the pro MTBs she photo's get sick of her saying "can you do that again?"

So, loads of head and shoulder shots of me leaning on the Trig Point, then Joolze says she wants me to pedal up and down a bit, so then the curse of the Chapman strikes and I discover that I have punctured my back wheel during the walk up to the top. So proceed to change it and Joolze snaps away at me changing the inner tube. As Joolze said, you never know what the magazines want!

Then a wander over to an "interesting looking tree" to stand by and be photographed and then the wind then decided to step up and become a howling gale! I think at this point it might be worth mentioning that it's not a matter of point and shoot like us holiday snap folks do, oh no, not a bit of it. Light to be measured, lights to be set up and the shot needs to be framed. Then take the photo and just one more time please!

I think by then Joolze was starting to feel the effects of the cold, rain and wind, I know I was! So we bimbled back the way we had come to do some pedalling shots in a copse along the ridge, at least it was out of the wind! Shot was set up, then I did the pedal through thing, again and again and again.

Time to go home now, and as sod's law dictates just as we were nearly down to the bridleway, the sun came out, so Joolze says "stand there, let's not waste the light!" And few thousand more pics were snapped.

Back to the car, and again the curse of Chapman hit. I'd loaded my bike and kit into the boot and was doing a 3 point turn when I heard an almighty grinding noise, oh shit, I haven't forgotten to put my front wheel in the boot have I? I jumped out of the car expecting to see a mangled front wheel. But no, it was a mangled helmet, I'd only driven over my bloody lid! One of the things they hammer home to you in the Army is that when you are ready to drive off location, do a last minute sweep for kit. I always do that. Usually. But for what ever reason I didn't yesterday and my lid paid the price of my stupidity. At least my Muvi helmet cam had pinged off and was ok.

Back home, and Joolze wanted some pics of me and my bikes in my garage, so by then I guessed what would happen, cars shifted back on the drive, lights out on stands. Lighting brollys the whole shebang. I did see the net curtains of suburbia twitching. At least the neighbours will have something to gossip about!

All in all a fantastic 2 and a half hours out which I enjoyed tremendously. Thanks to Matt Skinner at What Mountain Bike for giving me a chance to have a very small look at a piece of his world and finally thanks to Joolze whose patience, professionalism and enthusiasm was obviously needed to get through a shoot with a rank amateur like me.Ta Joolze!

Onto usual stuff. I am still feeling like crap, tired and achey still. No pedal today. Bugger.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Chucking it down here...

A day off, thank God. Just got up at 0715hrs which is a mega lie in. Still feel like poo, but I'll be on my Mountain bike in some form or another today.

A short post today, but I'll be commuting tomorrow and hopefully have something more meaty to talk about then.

Off to drop daughter off at the school bus now.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Shattered and feeling like sh***...

After running around yesterday checking Rugby pitches (all frozen) and picking my daughter up from yet another sleepover I started to feel like shite. Very tired and just not right, I can't be more specific than that.

Knowing full well what happens to me when I do crack on when I'm feeling under the weather I decided to give my inner wimp the benefit of the doubt and come in to work in the car today. I'm glad I have, I'm sat here at work feeling very drained. Maybe there's a bug doing the rounds.

It did snow a tad yesterday, but nothing had prepared me for the 2" on my car this morning. But as is not unusual here it was very localised, it seemed to dump its load primarily on my immediate locale. Once I had driven past Northfield it all seemed to go. That's what happens when you live right in the middle of 3 sets of hills I suppose. But again, no roads gritted. Thanks local Council.

At least its a day off tomorrow.