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.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter starts here, and it's snowing!

Not very heavily though, it snows, then sleets then rains. Very dark and grey though which should make the off road fun a bit interesting today. A full write up with pics and video tomorrow.

The ride home last night was horrible. A very stiff head wind and bucketing down with rain. I don't mind the wet but it was like pedalling with your brakes on. I was knackered when I got home. I only just beat my time I used to do on my MTB!

I am planning a few excursions out over Easter so happy days!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

An achievement of sorts...

Although I never really gave it any thought, it wasn't until I logged on this morning I realised I've actually cracked the 2000 mile pedalled mark since I started this thing. It would have been roughly going up the hill into Northfield yesterday evening I'm guessing. Anyway, the pedal home was without incident, my wheels for whatever reason now seem to be behaving themselves with no rubbing from them (how does that work then?) And unsurprisingly I had a functioning computer. I suppose having the front wheel in the forks the right way round would help that.

The pedal in this morning was the quick way down the Bristol Road with a quick detour at the Bristol Road MacDonalds up via Fiveways and down Icknield Port Road. That was a spur of the moment thing as while I was waiting at the lights I saw a guy on a MTB whizz across the lights towards Fiveways going at a fair lick. So I thought it would be a challenge to see if I could catch him up the hill when the lights went green for me.

Green light off I went, he was about 300 metres ahead but I could see I was gaining quickly, he was through the lights at the 5 Ways Railway Station and I was still gaining, 200 metres now so I put my head down, out of the saddle and went for it. I got through the lights by the railway station and sat up to see how close he was and the bugger had gone! I'm guessing he went left at the side road past the station. But my heart rate was well up and I got a bit of a work out so no harm done. Fair play to him though, he was shifting for a MTB.

This is my last day at work until next Tuesday. Pedalling is still to the fore though. Tomorrow I shall have company on an off road pedal over the Lickey's, I am being deliberately mysterious there! And on Saturday I'm joining JB on a very small part of his NCR5 pedal through Birmingham. It appears I have the NCR5 navigation duties through Brum. Gulp, no pressure then!

To finish on a positive, it seems the fair Emma's healing hands have done the trick, absolutely no twinges, aches or wierd pains (other than normal cycling ones) from my achillies or calves.

Monday, 29 March 2010

No twinges, good news...

First pedal in for a fortnight would you believe. Also the first time this year I've pedalled in without wearing a wooly hat under my lid, it's the first time Giant has got wet as it was persistently precipitating this morning and it was the first try out of new route that was not too hilly as I want to ease myself back in.

The biggest hill was at the start of my ride up to the Waseley Hills Country Park, then a very wet bit of country lane until I hit Bartley Green. I'm having wheel problems. My front wheel is still rubbing on the brake block when I'm up out of the saddle going up hill and my rear wheel started to catch the brake block down the lane just past the Prison Farm. I had to complete the ride with the calipers apart.

Oh, and my computer is knackered!

Route here:

Only one Joby to report, turning right at the Halesowen Streetbike Island a woman in a Smart Car entered the island going left and just missing my front wheel as I was about to get off the island. She saw me too late and waved an apology. That's ok then. It wasn't ok for the motorcyclist who gestured a despairing wave at me regarding the incident as he overtook me. And it certainly wasn't ok for the woman who he rode alongside and gave absolute loads to!

Injury wise no ill effects, generally no physical ill effects at all, it was a bit of a non event to be honest. But I'll go the quick less hilly way home tonight through Northfield and pop in to Northfield Cycles about the back wheel thing.

Finally a big shout to Joby and James for their successful completion of the Cheshire Cat thingymabob. Well done fellers!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Scrum session

I'm running a scrum session at the club today, really looking forward to it. Scrums are my thing actually. Very physical. Very confrontational and can be quite painful!

Bees beat Coventry at Coventry yesterday too which was brilliant news. The Great Escape seems to be on track.

On the bike tomorrow at last, I'm going a slightly different route to try to keep the commute fresh.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Up and down more than the Assyrian Empire...

A good day, (Up) was ruined (down) by the Oxfordshire Classic bumf dropping on my mat. This was my chance to pedal with Rafe who I've pedalled with before off road and is a top bloke. But also my chance to pedal with Matt which I was really looking forward to as I see a lot of myself and the weight issues I have in him. I suppose you could say that via the interweb thingy there's a bit of a kindred spirit thing going on.

Anyway, the reason this isn't happening is that for some obscure reason that when Rafe and Matt suggested I do it with them I got it into my head it was the 2nd of May, but when the bumf landed on my mat I discovered it's actually the 9th of May which is the Gala Day at Bees my Rugby Club which I cannot miss. I've actually got the 2nd of May down on my year planner in my office at work and booked the Monday off too. What the hell made me think it was the 2nd? What a Muppet. Ah well, as John Lennon once said before a Chapman slotted him "Life is what happens to you while you're making plans."

Today will be spent planning some important coaching sessions, a scrum training session tomorrow and there's an Advanced Player Development Group session to tweak for Thursday. This is important because it'll be used as a curtain raiser at the Bees home game v Rotherham on the 11th of April. Got to get that right. We're in the spotlight and it's an opportunity for some of our player's to get themselves noticed.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Emma's torture chamber and personal challenges.

So, I bimbled over to see Emma, The Bees Physio yesterday as she had kindly agreed to see me to have a dekko at my achillies injury.

The reason I wanted to do this was because with my injury history I know who are the experts in relation to sport's injuries. That is a good piece of advice for you lot actually. Doc's are ok in their own way, but for injuries, physio's who specialise in sports injuries are the way forward without a shadow of doubt. And Emma who deals with professional rugby player's on a daily basis is an absolute God send and a fantastic resource for me.

I got there and was invited into the treatment room where I gave her the potted history of the injury and what had happened recently. Which I won't bore you with as I have covered the original injury and this re-occurrence in other posts.

She then put me through some mobility tests which seemed to go ok, she then asked about the calf muscle itself and did some physio type prodding around. "Ahh" she said, "have you had any tightening of the calf muscle?" "Yep" I replied. She told me to lie face down on the bed (teeing up the jokes for you here folks) where she started doing something called "targeted trigger therapy" or something like that.

What that is, is basically she stuck her finger as deep as she could into the area of the calf that was giving me gyp and left it there until the not inconsiderable pain subsided. She did that in and around the problem area for about 45 minutes. It concentrated the mind a bit I can tell you.

She went on to tell me that I need to warm up properly and cool down (which I knew but very rarely do) but I should be ok to crack on from Monday but to take it easy on the climbs. What I'll do is pedal the less hilly routes so my calf is not under too much strain.

The drive home was done in an exceptionally good mood as she gave my achillies the all clear which was my main concern. Seriously, you never want to snap your achillies. It hurts, no, it really hurts. Trust me on this.

I had to laugh when my daughter Fay got home from school and she saw the area of my calf that Emma had been treating which had sunk, probably about 10mm in and to a diameter of probably 30mm, she yelled "Yeuch what's that? It's horrible!" She didn't calm down any when I told her what it was and what caused it. The irony being is that she wants to be a physio when she leaves school. Methinks she needs to toughen up!

Moving on, Toby had written a nice piece on his Blog about "The Man who cycled the Americas" now showing on BBC 1 and suggested I mention it too. This is the story of Scot Mark Beaumont who, er, Cycled the Americas. The first episode was shown earlier in the week but can be seen on BBC I Player. The rest can be viewed at 2235hrs on Tuesday 30th of March and Tuesday 6th of April.

Just to make an already challenging quest all the more difficult he also climbed the highest peak in North America and climbed the equivalent in South America. I always knew these Sweaties* were barmy!

Seriously though, it's an inspirational tale that shows just what is achievable with the right mental outlook. The thing that gobsmacked me was his ability to climb thousands of meters along huge distances with a bike as loaded as his was. It makes my little sojourn up Cock Hill or Frankley Beeches every evening look a bit silly. The bloke is amazing! It's well worth a look. I'll certainly be watching the last 2 episodes.

A few of our number also have their own personal challenge this weekend. Apologies for any omissions if you've mentioned that you're doing it and I've forgotten, but I know Joby and James are in the middle of panicking about the Verenti Cheshire Cat and something called Mow Cop.

Best of luck to you 2 fellers and anyone else reading this and doing it too.

* Sweaties - Rhyming Slang - Sweaty Sock = Jock. "Jock" being British slang for a Scotsman.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Giant service

Got the Giant back from Northfield Cycles yesterday afternoon. All that was needed was a quick tweak of the drivetrain and a re-true of the rubbing front wheel. Happy days, all set to go now.

Obviously I'm a bit aprehensive about physio this afternoon, not about what'll be done treatment wise, but about what'll be said. I'm hoping for a clean bill of health as the pain is transient and I could pedal with the injury. It's the long term prognosis I'm concerned about.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Honesty is the best policy.

I thought about not telling you all this but...

I'll put my hands up and apologise, I regret it. Last night wifey wanted me to go to the shop to get some bits'n'pieces and she said "Get some nibblies while you're there" Nibblies by the way are a ruck of chocolate, crisps and jelly sweets that she shares with Fay and Dan. I answered with my usual "If you have sweets I'm having beer" that normally makes sure she says ok forget it. But last night she said "It's up to you."

So having bought the bits'n'pieces and her nibblies I also bought 3 bottles of Ale which I quaffed in front of the TV. I'm very disappointed and now totally regret it. It's the first time since I started this that I've fell off the wagon and been stupid. Is my will that weak?

It might seem a small thing to some, but it's a big thing to me. Don't be all nice about it to me either, I want to beat myself up over this. Comments like, "You've let us all down" and "What kind of example is that?" would be much more appropriate.

Onto other less disappointing stuff.

I'm seeing Emma the club physio about my achillies injury tomorrow afternoon and the Giant is going in to Northfield Cycles for its first month service. The only fault I can identify is that the front brake rubs the rim when I'm up out of the saddle going up a hill which is a tad irritating.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Docs, as I predicted.

Went to the Docs, he says as predicted rest it and take pain killers. Which means it's entirely down to me but I will go and speak to the club physio about this. Other than that, crack on. Nothing else to report.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Taking advice...

I'm going to the Docs tomorrow about my Achillies Injury, it still isn't right. I could in all fairness probably pedal ok with it, but after the horrors of this time last year, I do not under any circumstances want to take any chances with it. So I'm being careful. And at my age that's the sensible thing. I've spent a lifetime of coming back into various physical activities from injury earlier than I should and I guess I'm now paying the price.

This means I'm in the car today. It also means that I have to be super careful with my food and I'm using this as a rest period. A couple of weeks earlier than scheduled but what the heck. It also lets me pamper the steeds in the garage and get them ready for a summer of heavy use.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Reference the France v England game...

I told you so...Bugger...

But on to things that matter, Bees beat Moseley yesterday! My joy knows no bounds!

Sorry there's no pedalling news.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Promised weight update.

I have remained static this week weight wise which has chuffed me, and amazed the hell out of me to be honest. I was sensible with the grub so suppose that's what helps. Also the Duck Tape, No More Nails and self tappers  worked on Dan's play house. All back working again for the little blighter.

A busy day (for a change) I've got shopping with wifey and Dan in an hour, Fay is at her mates on a sleep over, then I believe she's going out donkey walloping (horse riding) with her mates, so she'll be dead tired and miserable when she's back. Oh joy.

Later on I'll be at Bees to watch their first relegation play off game against local rivals Moseley (spit). It's been a hard season for the club. Going into administration, seeking new backing, reforming the management structure, being docked 15 points, losing a hard core of the playing staff, not winning a game etc etc. But the play offs are a new start really. What has gone before now counts for nought and we could still stay up. No wonder the play offs are being marketed as "The Great Escape!" good luck to Russ, Eugene and the boys.

After wiping the floor with Moseley [/mockers] I'll be nipping over to the Dodford to watch France slaughter England. Or not. France can implode on any given day. Now here's my prediction of what will transpire in Paris this evening. And remember you heard it here first.

The French will have one of their "couldn't give a toss days" England will run them close in a shockingly bad game but lose. Rob Andrew and Martin Johnson will then point to all of the "improvements" seen by England today in running the form team of the 6N so close. That'll mean us poor English Rugby fans will have to put up with more of the same dross right up until Rugby World Cup 2011 where we won't qualify from the pool stages. It's cack! And I'm bloody annoyed.

If you'd have read Rob Andrews piece in the Times yesterday where he states "England are on the way back" you'd be genuinely wondering what he is actually watching and asking yourself just what does he do for his 400k a year! For those that don't know Rob Andrew is England's Director of Elite Rugby and effectively Martin Johnson's boss. He is known to all and sundry in Rugby as "Squeaky" by the way, as when he was playing he always had a squeaky clean image. So from now on when ever I'm ranting about English Rugby, Rob Andrew the useless pile of pants will not be given the dignity of being refferred to by his given name, he will in fact be known as "Squeaky" on this Blog until he does the honourable thing and falls on his sword!

I really, really want France to have one of their "no one can touch us" games and massacre us lots to very little, that's how bad I feel about the current England regime and how much I want them gone. I could go on, but rant over.

I've also got to get my bike ready for the commute next week, the old achillies thing is pretty much better, I can still feel it a tad, but it'll be good to go on Monday for sure.

Friday, 19 March 2010


Yesterday I promised you a weight update. Ooops. Fail! Sorry. Tomorrow definately.

I had Rugby coaching at Bees last night and I also had to shift the Play House in the yard, over a fence into the back garden. The Play House shift could have gone better, me and my mate Ski with wifey's help managed to get it on top of the fence, then just as Ski said "I've got it" it dropped off the top of the fence, nearly severing my little finger and belting Ski on top of his swede. No serious damage to me and Ski but I'll be doing a bit of DIY using No More Nails, Duck Tape and a boat load of screws on the Play House this afternoon.

The upshot to all of this is that I didn't get a chance to do my weigh in. The coaching went well though and I was jogging around pretty well with no signs of the achillies twingeing so I'll be back pedalling as usual on Monday.

Tonight is the usual start of the weekend Dodford trip for a swift few, then the weekly take out. I haven't been pedalling hardly this week as you know, so I seriously thought of giving the pub and the take out a miss. But wifey in her usual common sense way said that my routine is vital to this stuff and a morale booster of the pub and take out is just as important as the pedalling. And do you know what? She's absolutely right.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

In honour of the Brooks Saddle.

As there's no pedal today due to resting my injured Achillies Tendon, (It's a bit better by the way and will be ready for battle next week) I'm doing a tribute to that Doyen of pampered cycling posteriors everywhere, The Brooks Saddle.

Which you can find here: .

My first ever "proper" bike which was a Raleigh racing bike of some description came already fitted with a Brooks B17, and as a kid I quite naturally didn't pay it the slightest bit of attention. I did many miles on that bike and with that saddle until the day came to get a new bike as I had grown out of it.

What I didn't realise was that not all saddles are created equal and my new bike, which I can't remember what type it was, came with a modern saddle made of synthetic materials, plastic, PVC and some sort of padding. Weeks of pain followed in trying to get the adjustment right and in the end I gave up and got my Dad to get me a B17. Still used on my Marin MTB by the way.

Since then every bike I had and ride now has been treated to a Brooks Saddle.

On the left is my Ridgeback Commuter with a B17, in the Middle is my original B17 from about 1980 on my Marin and on the right on my new Giant is the Team Pro Classic. As you can see the MTB B17 is definately showing it's age,  but is as comfortable as ever and even though it is a bit worn round the edges it'll still be in use for years to come.

I do have a bit of an advantage as I quite literally work 5 minutes away from the Brooks factory in Smethwick, so if I do need to get a saddle repaired then I just pop round and they do it while I wait. Great service and very rare I feel these days.

Indeed I emailed them this on the back of such excellent service, which they were kind enough to put on their website.

Downsides? Ok, they are a tad heavier than modern saddles and maybe the price is pitched where it is as they trade on their skill, tradition, quality and a penchant for retro products. And why wouldn't they? I also know of one or two very rare people who just couldn't get on with them. But they are in a minority to my knowledge.

Practically they need about a 100 miles of breaking in, which can leave the Gentlemen's area a bit tender while in progress and you do need to check tension and treat the leather regularly with a proofing treatment so they're not fit and forget like modern saddles.

But for sheer comfort (for me) and for a quality British hand made product they're the dogs, and I wouldn't park my posterior on anything else.

Saddles are a very personal thing and are pretty much crucial to your pedalling pleasure, get it wrong and you may very well give up cycling altogether. Get it right and you'll be in for miles of smiles. With a Brooks you have the added advantage of having a saddle that moulds to you personally, becomes your very own perch and a saddle that needs a bit of old fashioned TLC in return. A very amicable arrangement if you ask me.

Below is a couple of films about the history and manufacture of the old school items.

A weight update will be posted tomorrow folks. Not expecting anything good.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Bit of a set back.

The pedal home last night was going swimmingly, I was panting my way over Frankley Beeches into a bloody great head wind, which is always nice, when I felt a twinge in my right achillies tendon. Not a problem I figured, just crack on. I got home and to be honest forgot about it, but as the evening wore on my ankle got more and more painful. A good nights rest will sort it out, it always does I thought.

It always doesn't. I couldn't walk properly on it this morning and as the cliche goes I now walk with a bit of limp and have had to drive into work. I am a bit worried, as this time last year I was immobilsed for 3 months after snapping the tendons through rugby. In plaster, on crutches, the whole nine yards.

I'm hoping it's just a bit of a twinge that'll right itself with a days rest. I can't be not pedalling, my weight will just increase.

Onto more positive stuff, Matt the editor at What Mountain Bike sent me a couple of the latest issues of the Magazine with the article that I'm featured in. Joolze does take a nice picture! My hills are looking great in the shot they used. Pity there's a fat bloke blocking most of the view though!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A quick pedal in...

On the Giant today, but I was suffering from my usual Tuesday Blues so I wimped and went the quick City Centre route, the thought of 20 miles early doors was a non starter. So 12 miles it was. This is, in its own way progress of sorts. Usually with Tuesday Blues I would have reached for my car keys, but that thought never even entered my head.

The pedal itself was very quick (for me) 38 minutes in. But I had an annoying SPD malfunction at the start in that I couldn't clip in with both feet. I finally managed to get my left foot in then finally the right foot. 10 minutes of pedalling without being clipped in. I'm wondering if my off roading last week in Shimano SPDs then road biking in Wellgo SPDs (that are meant to be compatible) has anything to do with it? Or maybe I'm just talking bollocks and I hadn't woken up properly to co-ordinate my feet!

Thanks for nice comments re my food Blog on Bike Radar. I posted this in the comments section:

"It's an interesting one isn't it? People addicted to drugs, booze even fags have all sorts of support, obese people don't. The wounds are just as self inflicted and the health implications just as real. Maybe it's that fat people have comedy value visually and their (our) poor behaviour and lifestyle choices are there for all to see and ridicule. The other addictions aren't necessarily as visible.

Just a thought..."

Monday, 15 March 2010

New Bike Radar Blog...

The good people at What Mountain Bike have just put this up on the Bike Radar website. Oh yes, the actual What Mountain Bike article is printed in this months edition out now at News Agents near you!

I haven't seen it myself yet...


I'm in the works van today as there is a requirement to move some of the vans about. We're a bit short of bodies at the moment with sick leave and holidays so I'm it! Still, if you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined!

That leaves me looking forward to tomorrow's pedal. I'll do the 20 miler (East side) and do the Frankley Beeches route on the way home. Apparently the weather is nice tomorrow and Wednesday getting a bit dodgy on Thursday.

Remember my poor battered Ridgeback Commuter? It has been the subject of on an ongoing saga since its bottom bracket let go a few weeks ago. This is a very old bike. It has in its life done some serious wilderness mountain biking in Snowdonia. It has carried me to Longbridge from Small Heath regularly on an old commuting route, then Rubery to Solihull on another commuting route. Now as you know it has been taking me regularly via the towpath to Smethwick from Rubery through one of the worst winters in living memory. Faithful workhorse doesn't even come close to describing how I feel about the old girl.

It went in to Northfield Cycles for a replacement bottom bracket. No probs, then while it was in Neil phoned me and said its rear hub was gone, this didn't surprise me. Old bike after all. Then he said the cassette had worn badly, again...Then he said the rim was shot. So the bottom line was a new bottom bracket, new cassette, new rear wheel and new chain. Gulp. I kind of knew this was coming. Then just to complete the set, I realised I needed a new headset which I fitted. Apart from the front wheel everything major has now been renewed. Just in time for the little bit of NCR5 through Brum I'm doing with JB!

The frame is very rusty and battered now, bless her, so a complete strip down and respray might be a summer project.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Happy Mother's Day.

The kids are doing various stuff for wifey today, Fay is cooking Sunday Dinner, Dan has made some stuff at Nursery to present later and there is a big box of chocolates from me. So she should be pretty happy with that!

My mates house move went fine. Two trips to Barton Under Needwood and back in time to see both 6 Nation's games. I watched the Ireland game at home while the girls went out, then I went to the Dodford to see the Scotland v England game.

2 very poor games, Wales were pretty easily brushed aside by Ireland. I don't think the Irish broke sweat at all.

As for the Murrayfield encounter, oh dear. Two very mediocre teams with organised defences trying in vain to magic a try. As Brian Moore said in commentary if they had played another 80 minutes neither team would have scored a try. As a rugby coach myself I find it very frustrating trying to work out what England are trying to do. Mostly they kick (poorly) with no discernable chase. And as we all know, a kick is only as good as its chase. Then when they do try to keep the ball in hand they generally do it from the wrong parts of the pitch. I spent a good deal of yesterday's game with my head in my hands and yelling "Muppets!" at the screen.

All coaches are trained to take the positives from every situation. So I am now going to try to do that. Toby Flood, England's attack looked marginally less sterile when he came on. He stands flatter and gives his centres a target and keeps the opposition back row interested. I know I am now commiting Rugby herecy and being negative about a national treasure, but Jonny Wilkinson needs to be benched, or even dropped altogether. Toby Flood to start against France with Shane Geraghty on the bench.

The other good things - Courtney Lawes got his first cap. The lad will be a superstar eventually. Ben Foden got another run, 2 young exciting Englishmen who have yet to be tainted by whatever is wrong with the main English coaching team. If you look at the English age group sides you'll see good skills and pacey attacking play. Why does it all go pear shaped when they get to the supposedly highest level?

I'm off to Bees today coaching. Hopefully I'm not turning out clueless unskilled Robots like Martin Johnson's coaching team is doing.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Helping a mate

I borrowed a works van yesterday so I can help my mate move house. Well not really him but his girlfriend, a long story. So a few trips from Selly Oak to Barton Under Needwood in the offing today.

Got the kids in tow too so wifey can have a break from the Spawn of Satan. My daughter Fay will be minding him while the grown ups fetch and carry. Dan (Spawn of Satan) is quite excited about going in a "big van."

I should be back in time to be at the Dodford to watch England v Scotland in the rugby. I think our boys will be picking thistles out of their teeth at full time. Scotland to win. Bugger.

Friday, 12 March 2010


Just doing a favour for my LBS.

Graham at Scott's Cycles in Rubery has this bike to sell.

It's his own Tifosi Road Bike that he built himself.

Spec: Alu frame, suits a 5' 7" to 5' 10" person.

Full Ultegra groupset.

Not certain what wheels they are but if Graham built them they'll be a top spec job.

It has a flightdeck computer that is operated from the brake hoods, mega expensive apparently.

Carbon bars, forks and this that and the other as befits a bike built by a bike shop owner.

He wants £900 but he's open to cash offers. The bike is hardly used and worth 2k plus.

Give him a bell on 0121 453 3148. Tell him Clive (Ridgeback commuter) told you about it.

Oh and he's throwing in some Northwave Road shoes.

Just pissed off I didn't know about this before I brought my road bike...

Friday report.

Me and wifey were going for a towpath pootle today, but she has got the bug that the kids have had so I have advised her to not pedal. A bit of a shame but there'll be other days. So no pedal today for me either but a chance to get some admin done.

I have not lost any weight this week and mileage is down to 51 miles as I was pedalling off road, back on the commute next Tuesday. I'm having to do a van swap on Monday so no pedal in then. I'm helping a mate move house tomorrow, hopefully that'll be cracked off pretty quickly.

Now the big question, am I doing all this to lose weight, because I love pedalling or to Blog about it? It all seems to have got a bit jumbled of late. Maybe a re-think is in order.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Over the hills and further away!

Just got back, all abluted now and sorted.

I've had an email from Matt at What Mountain Bike saying that my next Blog is now on line at: it is about a month behind this one so all of the drama of that Blog is well past now.

Onto this morning, up at roughly the same time as yesterday and I pedalled this route:

There was a hell of a frost last night and so the sky was gin clear. It is amazing what cloud cover does, plenty of it yesterday none today so I was pedalling at the beginning in the half light where as yesterday it was darkness.

Up over the Waseley's again which as Rafe will tell you is pretty much on my doorstep, 5 minutes pedal and you're into the hills.

This is the same shot as yesterday's piccy only with a bit of daylight, M5 Northbound in the background. It's a bit of a slog up to there with a bit of hike'a'bike involved, I'm still not fit or thin enough to pedal all the way to the top!


This picture is facing towards the Lickey's, the copse of trees in the distance is where Joolze had me pedalling up and down ad infinitum during the WMB photoshoot last month. You can see just how frosty it was this morning.

A swift downhill towards Clent then a bit of road work to get towards Walton Hill Clent. The lanes are very quiet around there and I saw virtually no cars.

Then a ball breaking climb from hell up towards the summit of Calcott Hill. Again I had to resort to Hike'a'bike, I'll get there eventually though! I was rewarded by a fantastic sunrise over the Waseley's as seen from the Clent Hill's. I'm no photographer though.

The downhill from there was a rollercoaster ride of large stones, berms, terrible cattle caused bogs, right angle turns that came upon you unseen and possible wrong turns into farm yards. This is why I love mountain biking!

What goes down has to go up. Or something like that! Another ball breaker climb up to the ride summit which is the top of Walton Hill, this started on lanes then they eventually ran out in the little Hamlet of Walton Pool and it turned into the narrowest bridleway I've ever encountered. My shoulders were touching the hedges on either side and it was impossible to pedal. Well impossible for me. So, yep you've guessed it, more Hike'a'bike until I reached the top of Walton Hill.

The piccy below is some of the houses at Walton Pool just before the Bridleway.

Once at the top I found the trig point and used my first app in anger on my new works IPhone. The compass. There were a lot of paths leading everywhere so I used the IPhone Compass and with my OS map I was carrying I found the right way down.

Another "all the fun of the fair" downhill off the top, a very narrow, very rutty type singletrack down to the lane towards Romsley. Just brilliant! There were a number of berms on it too which tested my skill a bit, but me and my Marin were as one. Man and machine in perfect harmony!

A lane pedal in now, through Romsley Village, over Romsley Hill and home.

Wifey had just cooked the kids a breakfast of Honey coated pancakes when I got in. I indulged too with a steaming hot cup of coffee to finish. A cracking pedal, very tough but what doesn't kill you makes stronger! Footage from the start of the pedal below. Play with the sound off!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Over the hills and far away...

Working from home today, but, I was up at early O'clock to get a MTB ride in. I did 9 miles in quite a long time, but I was stopping to take piccies. I rode over the Waseley Hills and took some City at night/dawn type shots, then pedalled over to the Lickey's.

I had a screaming descent from the top of Beacon Hill down towards the Rose and Crown. As it was not quite light and in the trees it was like riding down a chute, very exciting, but not as exciting as when I realised I was in fact riding down some steps put in by the Wardens to stop path erosion and aid the walkers. That concentrated the mind a bit! But I stopped on ok, just let the bike go as bikes want to stay upright! It's humans that make bikes fall over!

Waseley Hills just before dawn looking towards Birmingham.

Yours truly, on top of the Waseley Hills, M5 southbound and Droitwich masts visible.

On top of Beacon Hill on the Lickey's. Rubery down below with Frankley Beeches in the distance.

Looking back towards Beacon Hill from the other side of the Lickey's

View up the path to the downhill into Rubery.

A good morning out, off on a bigger Micro adventure tomorrow!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Car today.

Bit of a downer, in the car today as I have stuff to do today that needs a motor. But hey ho, crack on!

The pedal home was great last night, over the Beeches, footage below. I've experimented with adding audio to the clip as my panting is totally out of control, well it is a beast of a climb! I found it pretty difficult to choose background music, so I picked The Long Run, by the Eagles as I thought the title pretty apt and Set the record straight, by Reef, just 'cos I like it!

My mindset about hills is changing too I've noticed, I don't dread them anymore, I still find them painful, but the fear has gone. I'm wondering when that happened?

Today is the last day here at Smethwick this week so it'll MTBing tomorrow and Thursday. But Friday is a cracker, wifey said she wants to pedal with me, so I've chosen a towpath pootle around Alvechurch with a suitable pub stop at lunchtime. Can't wait!

Monday, 8 March 2010

East Side Story...

Up at 0500hrs as per to the sound of the Spawn of Satan doing his best fire engine siren impression. better than any alarm!

Got my togs on asap and dived in the garage for the Giant and set off at 0515hrs on a 20 miler via longbridge, West Heath, Wythall, Shirley, Hall Green, Sparkbrook, City Centre to Smethwick,route here:

The pedal through Longbridge and West Heath was a quick warm up then I hit the lane to Shirley, this is the bit of the route with the only hill to speak of. Pedalling through the countryside at dawn, especially heading east towards the sunrise is a hell of a way to start the day. It was very beautiful and accompanied by a soundtrack of the dawn chorus and various farm animals and the smell of Spring, just fantastic.

All to soon I was pedalling over the drawbridge over the canal just before Shirley and my rural reverie was broken with the thought of doing battle with the Stratford Road commuters. Not a problem though, at that time I was still the only thing on the road and the pedal along the A34 then down Fox Hollies Road came and went without a drama.

On the Warwick Road and really hitting the inner city now, traffic starting to build although nothing major and I turned onto the Inner Ring Road which leads down to the Bristol Road and onto my usual City Centre route in.

I got to work after a 1 hour 15 minute pedal feeling as fresh as a daisy to be honest. The only negatives were the biting cold which has frozen my feet and my numb hand and arm thing which is starting to concern me a tad.

I'll pedal back home via Frankly Beeches and hopefully the Muvi will function as it's a very pleasant ride and view. Apart from the killer climb over the Beeches!

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Coaching day

A swift in and out today (ooh er Vicar!), coaching at Bees, then a nice restful Sunday afternoon, well, as restful as the Spawn of Satan will allow!

A 20 miler in to work over the East side of Brum tomorrow. Can't wait!

Saturday, 6 March 2010


Today is for me is a bit of a Red Letter Day.

2 reasons for this, first off this is my 100th Blog entry amazingly enough and more importantly I cracked the 4st loss barrier today too.

Maybe it's time for a bit of a refocus and planning ahead. You know when a batsman hits a century and quite often they're out very soon afterwards? Well my Granddad always told me that what they should do is take a drink break, get their batting gloves off take 5 then take guard again and tell themselves they're starting again. I'm going to do the bikey weight loss equivalent.

In the past I've hit a target and stopped, which meant all of the good I did was wasted. Not this time, 4st while for me is impressive it's only a start, to carry on with the Cricket analogy I've only just played myself in and have got a grip of the bowling.

Next week will see me carry on with the Road Bike Monday and Tuesday, with me planning to do 20 milers into work. Wednesday I'm working from home as there is an IT issue with my laptop that I won't bore you with so an IT weenie is visiting me at home to sort it. That means I'll be doing some proper cycling on my MTB early doors before he gets to my house.

Thursday and Friday are days off so more of the same on my MTB as early as the light will allow. I have a few explorations in mind looking at the OS map and I plan to post a few piccies and footage of my locale.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had been approached by a local Rugby Club to become their Head Coach. As I said I've done that before and it is a pretty thankless task which does become all consuming. I coach now at a Club at a high level with great access to various resources to assist what I'm doing. The local club is a pretty low level club and when I spoke to their Chairman he said I was too qualified for them, which was nice of him. I also got quite a few very nice and unexpected references from senior professional coaches whose opinions I respect and value. But it was wifey who as usual nailed my indecision about whether to take the job or not. (It was a paid position by the way). We had a pretty long chat about it and she asked would I be happy leaving Bees and taking this job? The answer was a pretty definate no, so she told me not to do it. Which was a fantastic thing to advise as we do need the money as she has lost her job. Top bird eh?

More Rugby today, watching the lads play Pontypridd in the British and Irish Cup this afternoon, then getting home and watching Tigers v London Irish on Sky, then coaching tomorrow.

No thoughts of even looking at a bike this weekend, rest is rest. Looking forward to Monday though!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Work rears its ugly head.

A day off the bike today as I have a H&S visit at a site in Nottingham. Truth be told I'm quite glad, my quads (thighs) are very sore and my neck is pretty painful. The few days rest will sort the quads out and my neck will just have to sort itself out as the road bike is now my chosen weapon of choice for the commute. Oh and I did a bit a of Googling and discovered that the Spawn of Satan's bum cream is pretty much the same as Rafe's udder cream. My er, ahem gentleman's area has now been treated. Apologies if that's too much information.

The pedal home last night was outstanding. I came a different way home, this time when I came through Edgbaston and Harbourne I took the turn over towards Shenley Fields and came through the lanes by Frankly Reservoir and pedalled over Frankly Beeches. I did have my Helmet Cam on and was going to post the footage as the sun was shining and all was right with the world. Even the climb over Frankley Beeches was great, painful but great, but something malfunctioned and that clip won't copy over so I've deleted it.

Coaching was good last night and the lads all got stuck in, they learned a bit and we only broke a couple of them during the contact session so that was good news.

I had a chat about dialling in some recovery time to my old Army mate Ski who I coach with. He's an ex Army PTI (PHYSICAL TRAINING INSTRUCTOR) I told him that every couple of months I seem to have a bad time, my body lets me down and morale plummets. He had nose at my log and said it's classic overtraining.

I had on the back of that scheduled in some recovery time for every 2 months for when I predict I'll suffer. Ski said the best thing would be to have a week off a week or 2 before I break down as that is when your body can recover most efficiently and make the most gains. If you have a break when you are suffering then your body is fighting the problem rather than making training gains during the rest period.

Makes sense to me. I'll have a word with our conditioning coach at the club too, he may have more ideas as well.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Getting the hang of it now...

I seem to be getting the hang of the spindly beast now. Problems I had were ranging from the Wellgo SPDs seemingly very keen to keep my feet in them and very keen not to allow my feet back in. That seems to have stopped. Maybe a bit of wearing in was needed. I was always worried about the fragility of the wheels, especially with me being so heavy, after some of the pot holes I've hit, I'm not too concerned now.

On going issues, more me than the bike. Neck ache and upper arm ache which is a totally new one on me. Riding position seems ok so maybe the bike has got to break me in. I am still getting the numb hand thing but not as badly on this bike but the new Brooks Saddle is beating me up a bit as new ones always do. My Gentleman's area is a tad tender!

I found a new route home yesterday via Edgbaston and around the back of Harbourne bringing me out at the big Selly Oak lights which misses out Birmingham City Centre and Selly Oak itself, it's still 12 miles but with hardly any traffic or traffic lights. Consequently my ride home last night was done in 40 minutes, a time I find hard to believe I'll ever beat.

The pedal in this morning was through the City Centre, I overslept so I came the short way after planning to ride a 20 mile route in only over on the East side of the City. Maybe my ego was writing cheques my body couldn't cash, as I am feeling pretty tired today.

I know I'm going to have to extend the routes more regularly as time on the bike is absolutely crucial to weight loss, which maybe has got overlooked a tad amongst all of the 2 wheel excitement of the past few weeks. I mustn't lose sight of the purpose of all this.

Coaching tonight with the Bees which I'm looking forward too. We're running a contact revision session which is always popular, the lads just love boshing which is why people play rugby anyway. Happy Days.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Quite remarkable, the sequel...

The pedal home last night was even more remarkable considering the majority of it is uphill and I have to fight the good fight through Birmingham City Centre and Selly Oak. 13 minutes quicker than average! I got home in 45 minutes feeling exhilarated! The hills were blasted up and Cock Hill is owned! Apologies for the yoof speak there...

But if you consider back in October last year when I first started pedalling the whole way to and from work I was doing the journey home in 1 hour 15 minutes you'll see why I'm pretty pleased.

I'll post some footage later when I've checked it out to see if any is worth posting.

This morning I decided to ride a longer route in.

As you can see it's a tad longer with what felt like a lot of climbing, Mucklow Hill was especially a bastard. My neck is aching a bit, but if after 44 miles in 2 days on my new road bike that's all that's aching then I'll take that. My legs are feeling it a bit too, but that's to be expected. Maybe in hindsight I should have used my other planned 20 mile route in taking in the east side of Brum. It's a lot less hilly! The ride in was an hour and 15 minutes by the way.

So, I have decided, I am now very happy with my secondary form of bicycle. Road riding is fun, quick and the way forward for commuting and weight loss. But it'll never replace MTBing in my heart. Sorry all you roadies out there!

Footage as promised of my journey home via Birmingham City Centre. It's just of the bit from Heath Street in Smethwick until the Bristol Road towards Selly Oak. It gives a bit of an indication of traffic at about 1530hrs.

I've also chucked in this footage of Priory Road, through Selly Oak to the Outer Circle traffic lights. The 2 videos posted are the bits that my Canal ride miss out.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Quite remarkable

An eventful pedal home yesterday, pedalling along the cut the alarming creaking and grinding from my bike got very bad, I could feel it through the cranks and through the saddle, I stopped a few times to try and identify it without success, finally when after an otherwise uneventful pedal I came off the cut at Selly Oak I suddenly thought..."It can't be the bottom bracket can it?" Dismounting I gave the pedals a quick wobble and they moved laterally by about 5 mm either way...Oops! I had 6 miles to go so I gingerly got me and the long suffering commuter home, then chucked it into the car and dropped it off at Northfield Cycles where young Neil said he would replace the offending dead bracket for me. The commuter was in a hell of a state, very muddy which I apologised profusely for, I never take a dirty bike in for repair, the height of bad manners if you ask me. Bottom brackets I can change and I have, but I haven't got the tool for chasing the thread out which the Ridgeback would certainly have needed after 20 years of abuse.

As my computer hadn't arrived from Amazon for my road bike which was now being pressed into service a bit quicker than I thought it would be, I took the Ridgback's computer off so I could fit it to my Road Bike after adjusting the settings.

Sod's Law then kicked in, when I got home what was waiting for me? Yep, the new computer from Amazon. New computer fitted, which was more tricky than I thought it would be due to wheel clearences and magnet size, but with a bit of modifying with a file, cutters and electrical tape I got the sensor on the fork ok.

So, pedal in this morning and first impressions. The big stat is time. My fastest ever trip in to work is 49 minutes. This morning it was an unbelievable 39 minutes! 39 MINUTES!!!!

I sort of knew it'd be quicker but a whole 10 minutes? Quite remarkable. I certainly didn't feel I was pedalling any quicker, if anything I was taking it easier while I got used to the beast.

It felt quite odd to ride, quite skittish, which may be helped by moving my saddle back a tad as I felt I was hunched over the bars. Also my saddle is quite slippery as predicted. It'll need to break in fast so I'm not sliding around too much.

Gears, I felt like I was changing gears far more on the ride in this morning than I do with the Ridgeback, also I was using the front mech a lot. Can someone tell me what combinations I should or shouldn't be using? It's a compact chainset by the way.

I have small hands, and I'm finding that when I'm changing the front mech I'm putting the back brake on. Which is a tad annoying, also the brakes are not up to MTB V brake standard, which came as a bit of a shock at Northfield By Pass traffic lights. Lesson learned with those then.

The pedal home tonight will be the tester on the gears front. It's mostly uphill and Cock Hill at the end of the ride is a bastard. Will the compact's lowest range be enough to get me up there as I am a still a complete fatty?

But the downside to this is no canal and traffic avoidance, it'll be dicing with death through town later. For every silver lining there's etc etc...

Monday, 1 March 2010

Pristine bike and kit...

Until I got to the cut that is. My Ridgeback was gleaming, my kit was spotless, then canal; towpath that was muddy, icy, and generally very wet. I was quite surprised, ok, we'd had a bit of snow yesterday but on the whole it has been a dry weekend. Ish. After the travails of the rear wheel on Saturday I now have an alarming creaking and cracking noise coming from my front wheel. I suspect the hub. I hope not. Those wheels have seen sterling service having been handbuilt for me 20 odd years ago at the now defunct "On yer bike" in Solihull. Maybe their time is approching.

I hope the computer for the road bike appears soon as I want to fit it and try Giant on the commute through the City Centre, I am very interested to see what effect it has on time. Also after making one or two slight adjustments on Saturday I'm keen to see if I will be comfortable on it. I'm not really counting the 5 miles I did on it last Wednesday when I picked it up. The Brooks saddle wasn't on it, also the bars were a tad low and the seat post a tad high. Not hugely so but enough to need a tweak. We all know what a difference a couple of mm make to your comfort while riding.

It's now March, that's Spring in my book, so why have we had frost this morning and heavy snow is forecast for Friday? I am fast approching not seeing the humour in the situation!