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.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Chuffed to NAAFI break!

Now where the heck did that come from? From 6 weeks of a weight plateau to last week with a 6Ib gain due to too much Guinness and crap food on tour, I step on the scales last night and find I'm my new lowest weight of 18st 2Ib with a 7Ib loss!

Well I'm lying actually, I do know where it came from, I know I've started my phase 2 pedal plan with extended mileage, (a new weekly record of 116 miles this week) but I have been very very strict with my grub. If I think about it I have taken my eye off the ball a bit food wise of late, this week has seen me back to my strict no nonsense self about it. Back to fruit and veg snacks instead of the odd slice of toast and I've got wifey to cut the portions down meal times whose sizes were creeping up again. But bloody hell it's hard, she is a fantastic cook!

Onto the pedal last night, it was pissing down but I went home on the cut, onto NCR5 and did the Lickey loop for 16 miles. This is what I looked like when I got home:

A bit damp, a bit dirty but loving every minute of it!

Stats here:

Started: 29 Apr 2010 15:05:32
Ride Time: 1:04:29
Stopped Time: 0:12
Distance: 15.94 miles
Average: 13.33 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 28.05 miles/hr
Climb: 295 feet
Calories: 986

The only downer is that my Muvi helmet cam seems to have malfunctioned, maybe it didn't like the rain. Every time I plug it in to my laptop to download last night's footage a "USB DEVICE NOT RECOGNISED" error message pops up. I've done the usual re-booting thing but it doesn't want to know. It looks like a new one might be on the cards. Unfitguy has found a good Muvi clone on Ebay that might be getting visited soon!

A usual Chapman start to the weekend this evening with a family visit to the Dodford (check out the new website). Tomorrow I'm stagging on all day with the Spawn of Satan as wifey, daughter and my mukka's Mrs Missus are off into Worcester shopping for new outfits for the Rugby Club's end of season dinner and dance. Me and my mukka quite naturally will be wearing our weddings, funerals and job interview suits with Club tie. It's easy being a bloke!

As there'll be no pedalling until my MTB trip on Monday morning I'll wait 'til then to post a new Blog. Have a good Bank Holiday weekend folks! 

Thursday, 29 April 2010

New wheels...

What a day yesterday, I managed to get my Giant home ok via the QE route I did on Tuesday.

Stats here:

Started: 28 Apr 2010 15:05:04
Ride Time: 46:33
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.77 miles
Average: 13.45 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 34.74 miles/hr
Climb: 492 feet
Calories: 885

I then chucked it in the car and drove to Northfield Cycles to have a chat about the wheel/spoke thing, but not before I'd taken it to another local bike shop to get an independant opinion. You can never be too careful can you?

I'll keep the other shop nameless and the person who advised me as I don't want to stir up any LBS ill feeling! Suffice it to say I trust this person implicitly, I've known them for years and they've always supplied a great service. I kinda wish I'd had my road bike from them, but they don't do the types I'd researched and wanted unfortunately.

The advice I'd got from nameless LBS was basically that spoke breakages of the like I'd had were not the norm, I shouldn't be charged for them and nameless LBS would have repaired them for free or in the case of continuous breakages get me a new set of wheels. Nameless LBS actually used the "Not fit for purpose" phrase which is a terrifying phrase to hear in the industry I work in! Although I'm not certain the effect it would have on some one in the bike trade.

So, over to Northfield Cycles where I spoke to young Neil. At first they said they'd put another spoke in which would cost £12. I wasn't very happy with that and said that I do only around a 100 miles a week and I've only had the bike 2 months and I shouldn't be having spoke breakages. I said that just replacing spokes wouldn't cure the issue. Neil then said that Giant considered spokes a consumable and therefore not under warranty.  A bit of to-ing and fro-ing then occured as I stated my bottom line, which was the wheel is faulty, I want a wheel that is reliable, I had lost confidence in the bike and I also shouldn't have to pay anything extra. Neil said he'd phone Giant and get back to me. I then left and drove home.

At about 1730hrs Neil called me to say that after speaking to Giant they said that they'd supply a new set of wheels for me, these Shimano ones apparently. This is good news. To say I'm happy would be a bit of an understatement. The only slight negative is that I'd planned a 50 miler on Bank Holiday Monday to Bridgenorth which will now have to wait as it's unlikely I'll get the bike back before then. But the positive is it means I'll have to go on a MTB micro adventure instead!

Also no road bike meant that it was a tow path commute in. So my Ridgeback commuter was dragged out of the garage at early O'Clock and off I went. Just as I was by the Sainsbury's Supermarket in Northfield I saw a bloke on a hybrid whizz past through the red lights I was patiently waiting at and blast off down the hill towards Selly Oak, I really hope the footage comes out, Lights to green and I was after him. I soon caught him and kept a respectable distance behind him so he could drag me up the hill, punishment for red light jumping I say, but half way up he pulled over, I'm pretty certain he didn't like me on his back wheel! I said "Morning mate" as I went past and he said he'd pulled over as he had to cross over the road. Hmm...

Onto the cut and I never saw a soul until I got to work. Apart from a bloke feeding the ducks where the canal has been diverted to allow the Selly Oak By-Pass to be completed. Apologies for the sound and the blank last 30 seconds of the vid, still learning about this stuff!

Stats here:
Started: 29 Apr 2010 05:25:21
Ride Time: 48:19
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.39 miles
Average: 11.69 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 27.63 miles/hr
Climb: 315 feet
Calories: 816

Weigh in tonight...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Aren't cyclists selfish lawless idiots?

I have a saying that I live by and know to be true, "It doesn't matter where you go or what you do there's always one." In this case on my pedal home it was two. My pedal home last night was going really well, the stiff headwind was just giving me a better work out most of the other other road users were giving me the time and space I need to make progress. So I've pedalled from Smethwick, through Edgbaston, around Harbourne, past the QE Hospital and am now getting ready to do battle with the main Selly Oak/Bristol Road lights at the Sainsbury's Supermarket. No problems, I have a plan for this risky stretch, keep my pace high, take the central position in the inside lane then wait for a gap to move over to the middle lane to turn right onto the Bristol Road.

On this particular occasion I'm getting a lick on and about to ride through a pedestrian crossing (lights on green for the road users) and a bloke on a MTB just rides straight across in front of me making me brake hard then turns off the crossing and pedals his way serenely up the inside lane towards the junction! More of him later.

I then get to the junction with the lights on red (let in by a decent motorist) and while waiting at the front of the queue I see a student (looks like a student and it is Selly Oak) pedal up the inside lane to the lights, go through the red light left onto the Bristol Road and calmly carry on his merry way. At this point original MTB man has pedalled on the pavement all the way to the junction.

I'm looking around at the motorists and I can tell they're pissed off. And rightly so.

I just hope the footage comes out ok which is why I've gone into quite a lengthy description of the two incidents just in case it doesn't. They might be candidates for Joby's Fight Bad Driving website.

Incident 1:

Incident 2:

Otherwise the pedal was fine. Stats here:

Started: 27 Apr 2010 15:05:26
Ride Time: 44:05
Stopped Time: 1:33
Distance: 11.72 miles
Average: 13.63 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 39.69 miles/hr
Climb: 627 feet
Calories: 1025

This morning was an East Side 20 miler, which for me went ok legs and cardio vascular wise. I am really suffering with painful upper arms, my shoulders, biceps and triceps are pretty painful after about 20 minutes in to the ride. I think I'll start doing press ups and pull ups to strengthen them, maybe that will help. I don't suppose all the years of front row rugby can be helping my cause though.

But my bike didn't fair too well. Another broken spoke on my back wheel when I was pedalling through Hall Green. I heard it twang and when I got off the bike I saw another spoke hanging, broken in the same place right on the hub as the last one. I carry a bit of tape with me so I taped it to the adjacent spoke, opened my brake calipers to prevent rubbing and got to work without further incident.

Stats here:

Started: 28 Apr 2010 05:21:13
Ride Time: 1:11:18
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 20.60 miles
Average: 14.46 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 35.87 miles/hr
Climb: 269 feet
Calories: 1594

There'll be another visit to Northfield Cycles later today. I might be having something to say about this to Richard. I have gone all of my cycling life doing some pretty intense MTBing as an adult and long distance pedalling on road as a kid which was done on some pretty cheap kit back then without ever having broken a spoke. I spend just short of a grand for a half decent road bike and I get 2 broken spokes in 2 weeks. Something is not right and I'm not a happy bunny.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Summer officially starts here!

This was the first morning when I ditched my Hi Vis jacket and cycling tights and pedalled in to work in my shorts and T shirt (ok with my Helly Hansen base layer underneath) and took a chance with fingerless mitts too. My fingers were a tad cold for the start of the ride but even though it was cold enough to see my breath they were ok.

Last nights pedal was a fabulously sunny one, I did the Frankley Beeches route home and it passed without incident. Although it did feel particularly slow due to a nagging headwind.

Stats here:

Started: 26 Apr 2010 15:04:36
Ride Time: 44:52
Stopped Time: 0:12
Distance: 11.55 miles
Average: 13.72 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 32.07 miles/hr
Climb: 535 feet
Calories: 875

I'll post a vid later if it's worth seeing.

Edit: Dunno if it's worth it but here it is anyway, the pedal over Frankley Beeches last night.

Following the Phase 2 plan religiously meant a 12 miler in today. This time I went over the Waseley's and through Bartley Green via Bearwood to Smethwick. A fantastic sunrise accompanied me and I don't remember seeing another vehicle until I got to the Bartley Green Road. I had the lanes all to my self. I got in to work ok and am typing this feeling fine.

Stats here:

Started: 27 Apr 2010 05:25:56
Ride Time: 40:20
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.91 miles
Average: 15.39 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 34.66 miles/hr
Climb: 102 feet
Calories: 944

Again I had the Muvi Helmet Cam on and I will stick some footage up if anything is worth seeing. I'm hoping the sunrise has come out ok.

Check out 3 mins 10 secs in, I get a fast left hander totally wrong, lucky it was early O'Clock otherwise I might not be here to tell the tale!

Just a thought to finish. I must be getting used to the road bike now, the reason I'm saying this is that when I'm pedalling along it doesn't feel as fast as when I first had it. My stats say different as do my ride times, it must be my perception. Interesting one that.

Monday, 26 April 2010


An east side commute this morning. 20 miles around the lanes via Wythall, Solihull, Sparkbrook and finally Smethwick.

Stats here:

Started: 26 Apr 2010 05:31:23
Ride Time: 1:14:10
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 20.45 miles
Average: 15.69 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 38.43 miles/hr
Climb: 367 feet
Calories: 1813

Route here:

It was entirely without incident apart from being squeezed by a WVM overtaking me when there wasn't really room for him to do so. But that's pedalling!

The weather is a bit tricky to dress for now as well, I had my Hi Vis T shirt on with my Hi Vis waterproof jacket on too. Full fingered gloves, my cycling tights over my cycling shorts and waterproof socks as it had been raining. I was a tad leaky when I got to Smethwick. It'll be just T Shirt and shorts on the way home methinks.

Physically the ride went ok, I'm sat here feeling not too beaten up, it was enjoyable being out in the countryside first thing as usual and I got here ok. It didn't feel like I was going that fast though. It felt like a steady pedal in which is fine. Time on the bike is what counts I think.

I did have my helmet cam on, so if there's any footage worth posting I'll do that later.

As promised. Sound off though if I were you. Check out about 4 mins 30 sec in for the WVM dodgy overtake.

The last game of our U17s went fantastically well yesterday with a hard fought 22 - 10 win over Old Edwardians. The BBQ and little soiree afterwards went swimmimgly well. Even though it started to rain a bit. The lads were well up for the game and this showed on the score board. It should have been 22 - 0 but the ref gave a sympathy try to Old Eds when clearly their player had been tackled in to touch before he scored and we let in a soft interception try right at the death with the game already won and the lads thinking about the bar.

Their final team photo below.

And my final team talk to them after the game was won.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

View from my Bivvy...

A very happy Friday night night was spent at the Dodford Inn celebrating their first year of being back in business after been closed by the Land owners in an attempt to redevelop the pub and the land into residential housing.

Suffice it to say after a very long 2 year battle the campaign group, the Local Council and Camra were successful in telling the developer to Foxtrot Oscar and never darken our doorstep again!

Pubs like The Dodford are becoming an increasingly rare commodity. It's a proper pub, with a proper bar which serves proper ale and which is a credit to the Landlord Richard Scott and the good home cooking should make Richard's Missus Min very proud indeed. Indeed the Camra Head Shed were on hand Friday evening to dole out a couple of awards to them.

This weekend which coincided with St Georges Day was used as a celebration not just to mark the first anniversary and our Patron Saint's Day but in my opinion was also a celebration to common sense, which just like the pub is also a rare commodity these days. St Georges Day was also an excuse for Richard the Gaffer to dress up as the Dragon Slayer himself and run around scaring the kids with a lifesize replica of an Old English Broadsword that was a long as Fay is tall! I just regret not getting a photo of him as I was too busy pissing my self laughing!

Edit, found this photo on The Dodfords Facebook page. Richard and Min getting their Camra award thingies.

Richard had also organised got a hog roast, a BBQ, a beer festival, a few bands on, a new ale launch and some Morris Dancers. All in all a very busy weekend.

If you are a regular reader of this missive, then you'll know that we always go to the Dodford of a Friday tea time, stay an hour or two then bugger off when The Spawn of Satan kicks off. This Friday we were able to stay for the duration as the weather was great and we were camping in the big field surrounding the pub. Dan could run around to his hearts content without pissing everyone off and when he finally crashed we could sit around the tent and carry on enjoying ourselves.

A few piccys below.

The pub from the back field.

The bar with Chris doing the honours.

View from my bivvy, 0600hrs Saturday morning.

Fay and Dan awake...

Fay last to be ready, as usual!

I slept outside in my bivvy and doss bag. I was absolutely fine and slept the sleep of the just! I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy sleeping out. I had to disappear into the bushes at about 0245hrs for a comfort break and when I got back into my bag I just lay there staring at the stars until I drifted off again. Fantastic!

As you may or may not recognise, I managed to hang on to my Army doss bag and kip mat. My Goretex Bivvy bag was purchased by me, like a lot of other squaddies back in the day as the bashas they expected us to sleep in were crap! Just remember servicemen, the kit you use is made to the lowest possible budget!

Today I'm off coaching, it's our lads very last game as an age group as they progress to Colts and adult rugby next year. I know it'll be an emotional time. There's a BBQ and bar afterwards and a bit of a get together with everyone who has been involved over the years.

And finally onto bikes, Phase 2 starts tomorrow with a 20 mile east side pedal. I suppose if I'm realistic, I needed to lose around 8 stones to be back to my youthful most fit weight. It's about 9 or 10 months into this thing and I'm roughly half way. I wonder if the last 4 stones will come off in the same amount of time?

Friday, 23 April 2010


It seems Rugby Tours and no pedalling, do not a healthy lifestyle make!

Scales do not lie, a 6Ib gain. After 6 weeks static weight I guess something had to give. And it did. Just in the wrong direction.

The weird thing is, my clothes are still getting baggier and people are still saying that I look like I'm still losing the pork plus I feel like my pedalling is getting better.

But the main thing is I'm really looking forward to Monday now. Bring it on!

New Bike Radar Blog here by the way.

After reading poor old Les' tale of woe yesterday and obviously reading Joby's many and varied opportunities for suicide I suddenly remembered a brilliant piece of advice I was given when I was learning to ride a motorbike. It may or may not be of any use but here it is any way.

It was my bike instructor John (ex Cop bike instructor) who said that when riding up to a junction it is always good to make eye contact with drivers around you, he conceded that most of the buggers never look anyway, but by staring at the driver of your nearest threat does make the driver think about your presence. I always eyeball vehicle driver's very intently at junctions and some of the looks I get back (surprise mostly) do tell me that it does at some level work. As we are clearly the bottom of the road user food chain we need every bit of help we can get, so if that little snippet does come in handy then job done.

Simon (aka Fat Man Slim) asked me a question yesterday about the gear I carry on my commute. So here goes.

My Road Bike and my Ridgeback commuter are equipped pretty much the same. Water Bottle holders x 2, a saddle bag containing a multi tool (including chain splitter) a spare inner tube, a puncture repair kit, tyre levers and a couple of pound coins just in case! Both bikes have pumps on the frame and I musn't forget front and rear flashing LED lights too. But they're not in the saddle bag obviously!

On Mondays I cycle in with a daysack (with Joby's kindly donated daysack cover on it)

containing my laptop and various work stuff that I needed over the weekend, plus any kit swaps I need to do. I do try to do kit swaps when I'm driving. The laptop and daysack usually stay at work until Friday when they come home with me.

My Marin MTB has no kit whatsoever bolted to it and I carry everything in a Camelback mule which is a top piece of kit. The piccy below is the one I've got.

I must mention the fact that I wear a Muvi Cam on my helmet too. It's a pretty fun thing to do as form of record keeping, but as Joby is proof of, they're quite handy in a deterrence kind of way.

Usual trip to the Dodford tonight, only not. It's the Pubs re-opening first Birthday celebrations this weekend and we're camping out in the field around the pub so we can join in properly, there's a BBQ, a band, St Georges Day festivities and a real ale beer festival so in all fairness there probably won't be any post from me tomorrow as we'll be back home late and have shed loads of family stuff to do. Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Back here at Sunny Smethwick.

I decided to make this week a rest week and to start my finalised Stage 2 plan next Monday.

So I've driven in today and amazingly it was pretty light at 0530hrs so I'll be enjoying the morning pedal even more next week.

My Stage 2 plan is this:

Monday will be an East side pedal in - 20 miles with a 12 miler home.
Tuesday wil be the bog standard 24 mile round trip.
Wednesday will be an East side pedal in - 20 miles with a 12 miler home.
Thursday wil be the bog standard 24 mile round trip.
Friday I will drive.

This will go for 6 weeks with a rest on the 7th.

Then the following 6 weeks will be an all 20 miler in with 12 miles home.

Rest for a week.

The next 6 weeks will be an all 20 miler in alternating between an easy East side route and a difficult west side route, again with a 12 miler home and a 24 mile round trip on the Friday. The first ever scheduled 5 day a week pedal!

Rest for a week.

A 6 week window of alternating 20 milers in with a 12 miler home but this time with a 20 miler on Friday.

Rest for a week.

And finally - A Monday to Friday West side 20 mile in with 12 miles home.

West side Route:

East side route:

I will be getting a few weekend pedals in too now the Rugby season is drawing to a close, there a few larger milage routes planned. A 50 miler Bridgnorth loop and the planned 120 miler to my folks in Tywyn too. Not forgetting the off road micro adventures.

I'm pretty enthused to be honest, seeing the plan in black and white in a spreadsheet has given me the re-focus I needed. I could feel everything starting to drift and become a bit samey, what with the static weight for 6 weeks despite some high mileage (for me) it was all getting a bit of a chore.

To return to the Cricket analogy I used when I cracked 4 stones, I've now retaken guard and am ready for my next century!

There's just the tricky moment tonight when I weigh myself after the tour and no pedalling for a week. This just might be the equivalent of a first ball LBW shout waiting for the Umpire's finger to be raised...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Working from home.

Another day working from home and trying to keep the Spawn of Satan happy. A good trick if you can do it!

Joby's "Fight bad Driving" web site has got a mention in May's edition of Cycling Plus so well done mate. Onwards and upwards! Oh, page 66 by the way.

Hopefully in between doing work stuff I'll finalise the plan for stage 2 of my regime.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Not a bad tour...

But I'm back to no pedalling, I'm having to work from home as the childminder is unavailable for a couple of days and wifey cannot do the honours due to other stuff she has to do.

I might just leave it this week and use it as a rest and come back next week. Have to think about that.

I'll do the dreaded weigh in on Thursday evening as usual.

We had great weather and a great time, but as usual what goes on tour stays on tour!

A few piccys though...

First pub stop Friday afternoon...

One of the lads already into the spirit...

Torquay prom, Saturday morning...

Team run in the park on the seafront Saturday morning...

After match photo v Totnes RFC

Enjoying Paignton RFC's hospitality.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

So long, farewell, aufedersein, goodbye...aduei, aduei, to you and you and you...

Only temporarily though, I'm off early doors tomorrow on tour with my rugby club to Torquay and I'll be back late Sunday, so depending on the state of me, my next Blog will be either on Monday or Tuesday next week.

I again did the extra cut, NCR5 and Lickey Loop home last night for 16 miles. Again it was a very enjoyable pedal and giving me after today's effort a not too shabby 104 miles for the week.

Stats here:
Started: 14 Apr 2010 15:04:18
Ride Time: 1:08:29
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 15.89 miles
Average: 12.68 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 22.08 miles/hr
Climb: 413 feet
Calories: 1034

I'm back on the Giant today and pretty glad it's my last pedal in. I had thought about going on a 20 miler in this morning, but when I threw my leg over the bike I knew it'd be the quick way in via the city centre. Although I've done a few miles this week I haven't felt at my best. Not to worry though, I'm sure this weekend will be just the tonic I need.

Stats here:
Your Performance on the trip started on: 2010-04-15_05.44.40
Trip time: 00:42:48
Trip distance: 11.8 mi
Trip calories: 621 kcal
Average speed: 15.3 mph
Maximum speed: 34.3 mph
Climbed altitude: 231 ft

Wifey picked my wheel up from Northfield Cycles yesterday, Richard had phoned me to say it was ready and interestingly didn't charge me for the new spoke. This was because he hadn't got a black spoke in stock and he had had to use a normal silver one to effect the repair. This doesn't bother me none as I'm only worried about function.

I have the germ of a plan for kicking off phase 2 of this regime which as I am weight static again for the 6th week running is looking pretty much a necessity. I'll post the plan early next week when I've finalised it. But I am definately getting fitter though and my clothes are getting even more baggy.

I am expecting a weight gain this weekend as I am a veteran of rugby tours and I know that there will be shed loads of beer and crappy food. But if anyone thinks I'm going on tour and watching what I eat and drink they must be mad!

Have a good weekend everyone and as my old man used to tell me "Do as I say, not as I do!"

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Another canal jaunt in...

My Giant's back wheel will be ready today so I was back on the Ridgeback. It was a bit of a struggle truth be told, my body and mind were not in the mood and as can be the case I lay there in bed debating going by car. But I did what I knew was best and dragged myself kicking and screaming on to my bike...eventually.

Last night's pedal was great though. I did 16 miles putting in an extra bit of cut and NCR5 onto the journey and coming out at Longbridge and doing a bit of a loop around the Lickey's. The weather just demanded it!

Stats here:
Your Performance on the trip started on: 2010-04-13_15.06.52
Trip time: 01:05:47
Trip distance: 15.9 mi
Trip calories: 735 kcal
Average speed: 14.8 mph
Maximum speed: 33.9 km/h
Climbed altitude: 131 ft

Onto this morning, after yesterday's hassle with cold fingers I'm afraid I relented and went back to the full finger gloves. This is not good as it's admitting that Summer is not quite here yet. I'm glad I did though as it was bloody freezing and the snot tap was back with avengance! Where does all that come from? I never have a runny snot tap when I'm not pedalling, apart from when I have a hot curry obviously.

The sky was a bit grey, there was a head wind, but the forecast rain held off. Which was nice, and again I was on my own down the canal for the entire ride.

Stats here:
Started: 14 Apr 2010 05:43:18
Ride Time: 53:25
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.49 miles
Average: 11.78 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 34.26 miles/hr
Climb: 1083 feet
Calories: 944

If you're wondering why the 2 sets of stats are in a slightly different format I have 2 cycling apps on my Iphone. Cyclemeter and B.icycle . I'm giving them both a good try out to see which one is the best. I'll let you all know how I get on!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Back down the canal!

And the reason I commuted in back down the canal this morning was because as I was breaking all records with my pedal home yesterday, done in an Earth shattering 39.37 minutes, (my first ever sub 40 minutes for the journey home) I broke a spoke in my back wheel. Or rather should I say the spoke broke with no help from me. A random break as it were!

I heard a twang by the Black Horse traffic lights but thought it was a stone or something just flipping up and hitting my wheel, but when I got home I heard a twangy type noise as I was putting the bike away and saw a black spokey type object dangling from the rim. It had broken right on the hub. Bugger! So wheel off, jumped in the motor and shot straight over to Northfield Cycles, right by the Black Horse where I first heard the twang to drop the wheel off for Neil to fix for me. I'll have it back today or tomorrow.

As I intimated above the pedal home was pretty quick, I went via Harbourne and the Bristol Road and felt a million times better than I did in the morning. Stats here:

Started: 12 Apr 2010 15:06:09
Ride Time: 39:37
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.44 miles
Average: 15.08 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 48.53 miles/hr
Climb: 341 feet
Calories: 900

So to today, my Ridgeback had an unexpected outing after the fun of the NCR5 bash with JB, and very enjoyable it was too, although I wished I'd put my full finger gloves on as my little pinky's were freezing this morning, pretty painful actually!

The cut is starting to put its Summer coat on, flowers in bloom, waterfowl all full of the joys of Spring honking and quacking away, quite a few Narrow Boats parked up, but best of all is the traffic free solitude. I just love it. All pedalling should be like this! I never saw a soul.

Stats here:

Started: 13 Apr 2010 05:29:09
Ride Time: 50:02
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.89 miles
Average: 13.30 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 29.96 miles/hr
Climb: 318 feet
Calories: 867

You can see the difference between a MTB and a Road Bike there!

Going back to the Rugby I spoke about yesterday, here is the Program article about the session I ran on Sunday.


I thought sticking it up here would be a good place to preserve it for posterity! Please excuse the self indulgance...

Oh, and a new Bike Radar article here.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Ikky's Mom's curry recipes as promised...

½ bag of small Gram Flour
2 tsp chilli pwdr
2 tsp tandoori pwdr
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
3 sliced onions
3 sliced spuds
3 crushed cloves of garlic

Boil spuds until cooked, sieve gram flour into bowl, add water until you have a thick batter, add spices, spuds, onions...MIX WELL!

Heat ½ pan of oil, place a table spoon of the mixture in the oil and fry until brown, done or whatever.

Mint sauce:

1 tub of natural yoghurt
3 tsp mint
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 crushed green chillies
Mix together and scoff!

Chillie dip:

1/2 bottle of ketchup
3 tsp mint
3 tsp crushed chillies
½ tsp chillie pwdr
1 tsp salt
Mix and scoff!

Shiekh kebabs:

2Ib minced mutton mixed with 2 chopped onions and 7 green chillies, left to marinade for 24 hours.
½ bunch chopped coriander
1 tsp salt
2 tsp crushed chillies
1 tsp cumin pwdr
3 crushed cloves of garlic
Mix well, put on skewer, grill until done. Remove from skewer and enjoy!

Shami kebabs:

2Ibs minced mutton
½ bag of small gram flour
3 tsp red crushed chillies
3 crushed cloves of garlic
5 tsp tandoori pwdr
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp paprika
1 tsp chillie pwdr

Mix until thick mixture, roll into balls, wet your hands, pat into burger shape, fry until brown 4 – 5 minutes...Tuck in.

Tandoori Chicken:

4 skinned chicken breasts
1 tub of natural yoghurt
½ bunch of chopped coriander
1 tsp salt
4 tsp tandoori pwdr
2 tsp cumin pwdr
1 tsp black pepper
3 crushed cloves of garlic
Mix together, put breasts in marinade overnight, grill then eat!

Meat Samosas:

Spring roll pastry
1Ib minced mutton, 2 chopped onions and chillies mixed in
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tsp cumin pwdr

1 tsp salt

2 tsp chillie pwdr

3 crushed cloves of garlic

Put in pot, mix well, add 1 pint of water, reduce mixture until thick, when cool put a desert spoon full of the mixture in the pastry, fold into samosa type shape. Don’t ask me how, I always make this bit up as I go along. Before you fry the samosas off, brush edges of pastry with egg white to seal them off. Fry until golden brown texture like new etc...

Top tip: Lay damp tea towel over pastry sheets so you can separate the sheets easily.

Vegetable Samosas:

As above only substitute meat with peas and cooked spuds. Plus add 2 tsp of Garam Masala pwdr into the mix.

I hope you make them and enjoy them as much as I have over the years. Let me know how you get on!

The force is not with me this morning!

Bloody hell, that was a tough one for some reason, the weather was a bit nippy, a bit grey and with a bit of a head wind, but by the cringe did I struggle! The only event of note was a huge articulated low loader with a massive crane on the trailer that had got wedged across the Bristol Road opposite the Uni blocking both carriageways. Oops, even for 0615hrs there were pretty big tailbacks both ways. But me on my bike just pedalled past. Dunno how that'll get sorted.

Started: 12 Apr 2010 05:55:25
Ride Time: 43:18
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.58 miles
Average: 16.05 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 44.43 miles/hr
Climb: 167 feet
Calories: 1158

I hope my bio-rythmns are a bit improved for the journey home.

The coaching demo session went well at the rugby, although some of the younger lads were a tad nervous bless 'em, but we got a good write up in the program. I'll have to scan it and post it for posterity. I can safely say our session went better than the main game v Rotherham, we came a very poor second in what was a dire game.

I think I've mentioned before that we go on tour on Friday morning to Torquay returning Sunday evening. That'll put a bit of a speed bump on my regime and no mistake, but I will have a new plan to use for the start of phase 2 which I've decided begins when I come back off the tour.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Coaching today...

I'm leading a demo session at Sharman's Cross Road with our APDG players. It's a curtain raiser for the Play Off game v Rotherham. Really looking forward to it! Hopefully some of our future stars will get themselves noticed!

A quick walk with wifey and dan this morning over the Lickey's. Weather is glorious. Back on the bike tomorrow.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Sun is out, the sky is blue, there ain't a cloud to spoil the view...

But it certainly ain't raining in my heart! I showed the Spawn of Satan the sunrise this morning, "Dad, what's that big orange doing in the sky?" Bless him. Sometimes he can be quite charming in a diablic sort of way. He's just running off to pull the puppy's tail now. Normal service is resumed.

The planned walk up the cut is now not happening. Apparently our cars are disgusting and need a bloody good inside and out clean. So that'll be 2 hours of me doing the insides and wifey doing the outsides. But the important clean has already been done. Road bike got its valet yesterday afternoon. Drivetrain all clean and sparkley. I must get the tools to take a cassette off. Dousing it in degreaser and scrubbing it with a brush is such a chore.

Have a great weekend folks!

Friday, 9 April 2010

The weekend starts here!

Looking forward to a good weekend. The weather is set fair and I have quite a bit on. As usual.

Tonight is the Friday trip to the Dodford and with the nice weather we can sit outside and let the Spawn of Satan run wild without annoying the other customers. So it won't be a stressful visit wondering when he's going to kick off.

Tomorrow will be a wander up the cut by the Queen's Head pub in Bromsgrove, this is a pleasant walk and we can let the hounds off and again let the monster run around to his heart's content.

Also hoping to get Munster v Northampton in tomorrow evening. It's the quarter final of the Heineken European Cup (Champions League equivalent to all you weird people who follow soccer out there!) That is still an ongoing negotiation with wifey at the moment.

Last night's pedal home was marvelous, the sun was out and I decided to go a new route via Harbourne, Woodgate Valley over Frankley Beeches, (nasty climb) and around the lanes by the reservoir.

Stats here:

Started: 8 Apr 2010 15:03:50
Ride Time: 44:14
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.03 miles
Average: 13.74 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 36.77 miles/hr
Climb: 846 feet
Calories: 944

I think with commuting you need to vary your routes as often as possible to keep things as interesting as possible. Even if it's only a turn up a road you've never been up before that brings you out in a similar place. Boredom can be a major obstacle to this sort of thing I feel. I know that has killed many a gym membership and stopped my Turbo trainer career dead in the past.

Weight is still static. 5 weeks in a row!

No pedal today, a meeting at HQ and a site visit...

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Spring has sprung...Boing!

Cracking ride in this morning, a tad of a nip in the air, but a beautiful clear sky and a fabulous sunrise to watch as I hammered in.

Stats here:

Started: 8 Apr 2010 05:39:44
Ride Time: 40:50
Stopped Time: 3:04
Distance: 11.37 miles
Average: 16.70 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 49.31 miles/hr
Climb: 689 feet
Calories: 1180

'Twas great fun, because in effect I did 2 pursuit races this morning. On the hill into selly Oak I saw a cyclist in the distance and I decided to reel him in, which due to lights I did just past the Uni, that was bloody hard work I can tell you. Then by the Bristol Road MacDonalds traffic lights I saw another cyclist in the distance and decided to do the same again, and I suceeded by the Pagoda Island in town. I guess things like that will up my speed a bit.

Last night's pedal home was pretty standard, again in Tshirt and Mitts. I'm toying with the idea of shorts soon.

A good evening at home as well, sun was out so me, wifey, kids and dogs were outside for an hour in the sun. Dogs racing around, kids trying to kill each other on their trampoline and me and wifey chilling with a glass of red. Perfick...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Here comes the rain again...

Only it's not falling on my head like a memory. It's falling on my head like bloody rain!

The ride home yesterday was excellent. Jacket off, pedalling in my T shirt.  Only an annoying head wind to ruin my reverie, but at least with a head wind you get a better work out. I did it in 46 minutes and got home with absolutely no ill effects. I sailed past 2 blokes who were riding together one on a MTB and one on a hybrid on the hill up into Northfield as well. "Nice bike mate" said Hybrid man as I pedalled by. I really feel that the hills on my route now are nothing at all. Considering that 6 months ago when I started pedalling the full route that they used to crucify me and cause me quite a bit of anguish the improvement is amazing!

I expected a nice morning this morning but awoke to rain. What a bummer. My bike was cleaned to within an inch of its life last Sunday and now it's all cacked up again.

I rode in the City Centre route and the stats off my Iphone Cyclemeter app are here:

Started: 7 Apr 2010 05:37:19
Ride Time: 42:03
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.83 miles
Average: 15.45 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 41.79 miles/hr
Climb: 443 feet
Calories: 979

I arrived again without any ill effects, this has got me thinking.

It seems I have now reached the end of stage 1 of this process. My weight has plateaud for the last 4 weeks. Ok I've had my achillies injury to contend with, and I've had to negotiate Easter as well but I think I've reached the end of the line with my current regime. The weight isn't shifting as fast but even to me I'm clearly getting fitter.

I've got this week and next week until the end of my rugby coaching season. The weekend of the 17th and 18th is our end of season tour, this time to Torquay. It will get messy and be a bit of speed bump in the old eating and drinking, but as the old saying goes "what goes on tour stays on tour!"

Between now and then I will plan stage 2 of the fat to fit plan. When I've carved it in stone I will obviously share it with you all.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Back on the commute.

Another seasonal first this morning. I was wearing mitts instead of full gloves! Now the debate starts about when shorts and losing the jacket can happen.

I did the route down through Bartley Green, Halesowen, Quinton, Bearwood and Smethwick. It's a good route with only a short stretch on the Hagley Road to contend with. But one bus driver did try to kill me by pulling out on me by the Bear traffic lights. He got the benefit of my opinion of him which would have needed to be broadcast after the watershed!

A good day yesterday, our friends turned up with their Alaskan Malamut puppy called Yukon. Little Benji our 11 week old Whippet cross Bedlington Terrier and Yukon had the time of their little lives.

Although Yukon isn't that little at 4 months old!

The picture above is Benji chewing on Eddie, our other Lurcher's tail, he is getting a bit long suffering the poor thing.

Benji crashed out after our mates and Yukon left.

I thought I'd leave with you this, The Spawn of Satan getting stuck into his Easter Egg. No subtlety, no finesse, just get in there! Oh, and absolutely no intention of sharing!

Monday, 5 April 2010


A quick in and out today, we have visitors coming up from Chippenham, old mates from the Army. I used to do a hell of a lot of MTBing with this bloke and his Missus and my Missus have a huge interest in showing Dogs, Corinna shows Alaskan Malamuts and wifey used to show our Rhodesian Ridgeback. But today is about Puppies. Corinna has a 4 month old Dog she's bringing and we have a new Puppy as we lost our Greyhound 3 weeks ago. Hopefully me and Jeff can get to the Dodford for a sneaky swift half while the girls are talking dogs!

Commute is back on for tomorrow after a huge bike clean session yesterday.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

NCR5 with JB.

A really good afternoon out with JB, to say I was a tad aprehensive would be an understatement. If you read his Blogs regularly you'll know he is way down the route of actually being a cyclist and does 100s of very fast miles pretty regularly. I'm nowhere near as fit and experienced. I was counting on Rafe to ride him into the ground on Friday!

At about 1315hrs I set out and met up with John at the Waseley Hills Country Park just by the South Car Park.

My Ridgeback at the start point.

John came up the road we're looking down in the photo above. After a quick "hello" we were off. I was very concious of not holding him up!

I very roughly knew where NCR5 went but it did appear to go in and out of some pretty obscure places. So with my local knowledge and JB's Garmin I was fairly confident we'd be ok.

I think I've mentioned before, most of my pedals are fairly solitary pursuits when before I was always used to pedalling in groups. So I do enjoy the chance to chat if I am pedalling with with other folk. And happily JB seemed pretty happy to chat with me.

Through Rubery, Frankley and then down the slope which is Tessall Lane over the main A38 Bristol Road to Longbridge and back on to a dedicated cycleway which is the Rea Valley.

I nearly creamed in going through a gate onto a road due to leaf mulch on the deck. But I held it up! I couldn't crash on successive journeys out could I?

First part of ride below!

It was then a short piece of canal from Kings Norton to Cotteridge then back on the Rea Valley NCR5 cycle way which took us in a roundabout way to Cannon Hill Park by Edgbaston Cricket Ground, home of the Bears!

JB took this photo of me desparately trying to keep up while on the cut in Kings Norton.

This piece of the ride was spent trying to catch an old guy on an MTB after we'd missed the entrance to NCR5 by an industrial estate. He was motoring though. We caught him in Cannon Hill park and JB had a bit of a chat with him while we pootling along.

Then through Balsall Heath, it isn't the greatest area, drugs and other negative social issues being rife in the locale so I was quite keen to get a wiggle on through there!

Then into the City Centre, the route absolutely gobsmacked me! Through Hurst Street, up towards New Street and across Broad Street. A very busy route. Why didn't they put NCR5 back on the cut at Edgbaston and just carry on up the Towpath through Birmingham? Seems a bit barmy to me sticking cyclists through that madhouse. But what do I know?

The last bit on the canal is the final part of my old commute pre road bike. Although the NCR5 is on the otherside of the canal to that I usually ride on and the path is a bit more agreeable.

We finally got to Ladywood Middleway bridge where I said my goodbyes to JB and wished him luck for the rest of his adventure.

I decided to pedal home straight up the cut and back along NCR5 to home. The weather changed as I got into Northfield and started hammering down. I was pretty wet I got home. But I loved every minute of it.

Amazingly I had done 28 miles, my longest pedal since I started this thing. I used my Cyclemeter App for my Iphone for the first time and a very useful bit of kit it is.

Stats here:

Started: 3 Apr 2010 13:57:38

Ride Time: 2:23:52

Stopped Time: 0:00

Distance: 28.35 miles

Average: 11.82 miles/hr

Fastest Speed: 27.08 miles/hr

Climb: 2425 feet

Calories: 2631

Route here:

My bike was absolutely filfthy, check it out!

Thanks to JB, I hope I didn't hold you up too much mate, Some serious bike cleaning today!