Thursday, 31 December 2015

A Year Of Excuses

2015 stats thanks to @veloviewer

2015 stats thanks to @veloviewer.

Not a great year for cycling or weight loss. 

In 2014 snuck I over 2200 miles, but as you can see I only managed 1307 miles in 2015.
I also put on 1kg over the year. 

Cycling and weight loss started well but then in February I was cycling to work and slipped on some ice and knocked myself out. There are still a couple of hours I don't remember. 

This really knock my confidence and it took a while to get back on the bike. 

I did start cycling again including commuting, which I love, however in the summer I started looking for a new job, so had to drive in so that I could sneak out at lunch to make phone calls in the privacy of my car. 

I didn't get a new job, but there is a good opportunity within my current company. 

I actually found my mojo in December and did over 100 miles and lost a kilo over Christmas. 

I also started training more in the gym at work. My colleague goes every lunchtime and trains very hard. I have trained with him but then spent the next hour sitting at my desk sweating away which I can't stand. So I go after work and do HITT workouts. 

However I did get in a habit of buying a flapjack from the sandwich van "for energy" for my evening workout. I don't need it as I've got a spare tyre full of energy around my tummy. What's worse is that I would get a flapjack even when I wasn't training. 


In previous years I've focused my goals around cycling in the hope that the weight loss would follow. It did at first but this year it's weight loss first, which will help the cycling. 

At the moment I'm 122kg, by the end of 2016 I will weigh less than 99kg. 

To start with I'm keeping it simple. Move more and eat less.
As the year progresses I will have to be a bit more intelligent about that. For example get a heart rate monitor so that I know I'm pushing myself hard enough during exercise, especially on the bike. I will also look at what I'm eating to make sure there is enough good fuel for all the training I will be doing. 

A typical week will be drive to work Monday because there is an early meeting, train in the gym in the evening. Cycle to and from work Tuesday. Drive to work Wednesday as I have to pick my daughter up from football and it makes sense to go to the gym and then straight to pick her up rather than come home. Then cycle Thursday and Friday. 

This isn't set in stone as on some days I might have a meeting I need to drive to, if that happens I'll train in the evening. 

To start of with the diet is going to stay pretty similar. Cereal for breakfast, salad for lunch, fruit during the day, then a meat and two veg meal in the evening. But making sure the portion sizes come down, especially processed carbs as I do eat a lot of pasta. 

I will continue to use MyFitness Pal app to monitor everything and weigh myself monthly. As the weight loss slows down, I will look at my training and nutrition in more detail. 

I will keep you updated with how well I'm doing. 

Any tips and advice always welcome. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Best Cycling Diet - Guest Post

Here is a guest post from Mark Taylor, who I've met through the wonderful community on G+.

He writes an excellent blog, with some great information for cyclists, old and new.

The Best Cycling Diet

Whilst professional cyclists may burn an average of 6,000 calories per day, the rest of us burn slightly less. According to the average cyclist uses around 400 to 500 calories per hour but this is very much dependent on the effort you put in. The following are the number of calories used when cycling by a person of average weight.
  • Leisure Cycling at less than 10mph .. 280 calories per hour
  • Leisure Cycling at 10-12mph .. 420 calories per hour
  • Leisure Cycling at 12-14mph .. 560 calories per hour
  • Leisure Cycling at 14-16mph .. 700 calories per hour
  • Leisure Cycling at 16-19mph .. 840 calories per hour
  • Race Cycling at more than 20mph .. 1125 calories per hour
  • Mountain Biking, average pace .. 600 calories per hour
Pro-riders tend to eat a lot, here's a typical rider's daily intake; rice, cereal, oatmeal, toast with ham, and a 2-egg omelette for breakfast; whilst cycling it's rice cakes, energy bars, energy gels and plenty of water. Once off the bike, it's chicken and rice, followed by an evening meal of turkey, avocados, spaghetti, beet salad, curry rice, zucchini, tomatoes, prunes, and sorbet. Like I said, they eat a lot. However, they can afford to do that because they are burning more calories than they are consuming. As cyclists trying to lose weight, we need to eat less than we use. To do this, we need to exercise regularly and eat the right foods. Cycling is an aerobic exercise, which means that you want to stay fuelled before, during, and after your bike ride. Ideal foods are high in carbohydrates and protein, and low in fat. Here are some ideas on the right foods to stay energise and healthy.

Before You Cycle

Focus on lean protein, for example skinless chicken or turkey, as well as carbs that are rich in fibre. Aim to keep refined and processed foods to a minimum, if at all. Whilst sugary foods give you an energy boost, they are short lived and once the immediate highs have gone, you will start to feel lethargic. On the other hand, proteins and carbs release their energy slowly and as such, stay with you throughout the bike ride, dependent on the amount you've eaten and how long you're exercising. Food examples include; oats, fruit, yogurt, brown rice (not white), chicken (skinless), turkey (skinless), peanut butter.

During Your Bike Ride

If you plan to cycle for more than 2-3 hours, you should consider taking with you some energy boosting foods. Go back to the average calories burned list above and calculate how many calories you'll need on your ride. Then work out how many you've eaten before your ride. If this isn't going to be sufficient, then that's how many you'll need to take with you. As you can perhaps work out, the foods you should be taking are more proteins and carbs. Don't underestimate the quantity of water you will need as well. This varies from person-to-person and also is very much dependednt on the temperature but as a very average guide, consider one litre of water every hour. Whilst it may seem basic, you need to learn how to drink water. For example, drinking water when you're thirsty is too late, by then you are already dehydrated. Try to drink at least two litres of water every day and one litre before your bike ride. Once out cycling, sip small amounts of water every 10 mins or so, and never big gulps - it'll simply pass right through and do little to hydrate you. Here are a few suggestions for on-ride foods; energy bars, energy gels, snickers bars, rice cakes, electrolyte-replacement tablets (Eg. SIS GO Hydro tablets).

After Your Ride

Within a 30-40 minutes of getting off your bike, you want to be eating proteins, which will help to build muscle strength. This will help your glycogen stores to replenish and heal any muscle tissues that you tore during the ride. This isn't about a pulled muscle, rather the natural process of exercise. When we workout, we slightly tear the muscles, it's perfectly natural and helps to strengthen them. Along with the aforementioned carbs and protein, berries give you lots of helpful antioxidants. Of course, these foods are just examples. There are plenty of other options out there you can use depending on your preferences and dietary restrictions. The important part is that you find foods that fuel your body in the right way.

Thanks for the guest post Mark
I need to take more attention to what I eat after a ride, usually it's just what I can find.

Please contact me if you would like to write a guest post, even if you don't write your own blog, everyone's got a story to tell.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

You shouldn't have to pedal down hill!

You shouldn't have to pedal down hill!

That was what I was thinking after 4 hours of cycling up and down the Meon Valley in the wind and rain last Sunday 29th March!

Once again the British weather got it completely wrong on the day. The previous couple of weeks had been beautifully lulling me into a false sense of hope that I would be able to smash my time, and put to bed my disappointment from 2 years ago.

Yes, the Meon Valley Riser sportive had come round again.
This is the write up of my attempt two years where I had just missed the 4 hour mark, finishing in 4:07.
I wanted to smash 4 hours this time.

During the week leading up to the event the weather was slowly turning worse, with rain and strong winds forecast for the weekend. Regular checks of every weather website I could think of made no difference, it was going to be bad.

To make matters worse I was due to be sharing some of the pain with Nick, but sensibly he got food poisoning a few days before and opted for the shelter of his en-suite.
His brother Chris was doing the event, but was going with his even madder mate and doing the 104 mile route.

The event is quite small, with usually only about 300 riders taking part, so when I turned up I was quite surprised to see so few cars. As it turned out only just over 100 people were stupid enough to battle 30mph winds.

Check-in was nice and easy, I didn't have any of the porridge on offer as I had already eaten. While I was getting my bike ready Chris and Rob turned up. I thought about waiting for them so we could set off together but decided there was no point as they would disappear into the gloom as soon as we hit the first of many hills.

The dream was to fall in with a group of riders, all going at a similar pace, so we could all share the work load, but it never really happened. I managed to hitch a ride every now and then, fully prepared to do my bit at the front, but I always got left on the hills.

After about 22 miles you come to the feed station. On the 47 mile route there is only one, on the longer routes there are 3. As I said it is a small event, and the feed station consisted of a couple of old blokes on a village green, with a table handing out bananas, flapjacks and sports drinks. I was more than happy with this, but Chris did mention that by the third feed station he was bored of the same choice. Another criticism is that there weren't any toilet facilities, which meant you had to make another stop somewhere on the course.

As the name suggest, the Riser is quite hilly, combined with strong winds, which, as always, seem to be head winds, it was relentless. I had to stop to stretch a few times, but I still thought I was in with a chance of beating my previous time of 4:07.

I actually seemed to get stronger towards the end, and even started over taking some people. I have been doing quite a lot of strength work in the gym at work, and that seemed to be helping.

But then I got the dreaded back wheel wobble.
Yes, I had a puncture. It's not surprising as there was so much rubbish and flint on the road. It happened right out side a farm, which had a proper, smell of nature which meant I was gagging while trying to change my tyre.

It didn't take too long, and I set off with about 5 miles left to go, including Crooked Walk Lane, which is an horrendous hill.
There was someone in front of me, and I had to fight the urge to try to catch him, and settled down to a nice, slow, steady rhythm. I find that counting out the pedal turns to ten seems to work for me, and just focus on the road directly ahead.
I did look up and saw that the person in front had just got off at the steepest part.
This wasn't going to happen to me.

I've done the hill before, it hurts, but I know where the end is.

1, 2, 3, shut up legs, 3, 4, 5, bloody headwinds, 6, 7, 8, is that the end? 9, 10 yes it is I'm at the top

Well chuffed!

Only a couple of miles left, most downhill so should be easy.

The wind had other ideas.
The last bit is along the top of Portsdown Hill so very exposed, and this is where I had to pedal to keep moving down hill.
The route turns right half way down the hill, but I didn't have to brake to slow down for the junction, just stop pedaling and the wind did the rest.

Eventually got to the finish line, heard the reassuring beep that my timing chip had worked, and went to get my time.
A lot slower than two years ago.

I put my bike away and then went to hand my bits in. I wasn't planning on having any of the food provided, but there wasn't a queue, so why not.
So I was sat in a school hall, on a chair a bit too low for a adult, eating beans and toast from a polystyrene burger box, with a plastic spoon and drinking a hot, sweet coffee from a plastic cup.
One of the best meals I've had in ages!

The company does a few other events throughout the year. I would recommend them. Similar to the Wiggle events, but a few hundred riders rather than a few thousand

Part of me is gutted about my time, but another part of me is impressed that I made it round at all considering the conditions.

There is always next year.


Sunday, 22 February 2015

The power of crystals

I know a lot of people believe in the power of crystals but it wasn't these type of crystals that stopped me cycling as much as I would have liked in January, and gave me a big headache in February.

I was stopped by Ice Crystals and Uric Acid Crystals.

In December I came off my bike on some black ice and it seems to have shook me up a bit, so it was just the excuse I needed not to cycle into work that often. I only managed 2 commutes compared with 11 last January.

For those of you luckily enough not to know about Uric Acid Crystals, they are more commonly known as gout, which is horrible. I don't get it too bad, but this attack was in my big toe on my left foot. Walking was painful and the thought of putting on a tight fitting cycling shoe was unthinkable.

50 Miler a Month Challenge.

While out on New Year's Eve I came up with the idea of riding at least one ride of more than 50 miles each month of 2015. I got the idea from a few people who did a 100 mile ride a month last year, maybe next year.

Because of the gout I left it till the last Saturday of January, which wasn't the nicest of days.

I managed to rope in Chris and his brother Nick, who I did the trip around the Isle of Wight with last year.

I got to Chris' house about 9 'clock and shortly afterwards Nick turned up on his mountain bike, as he was concerned about his brakes on his new road bike. After convincing Chris to put on another layer we set off.

Within a couple of miles we realised that Nick, not only had fat tyres, but he hadn't pumped them up and it was making it real hard work for him. We decided to pop into Peter Hansford bike shop, and they kindly pumped up his tyres, which made a massive difference.

The clearer weather I had seen forecasted never really materialised and it was cold and wet most of the way around.

Nick battled on for about 20 miles but then decided to head home. Fair play to him, he go up Old Winchester Hill and then turned round.

Chris and I carried on and stopped at The Sustainability Centre on the top of Old Winchester Hill for a well earn pot of tea and cake.

When we set off it was freezing, and the first few miles were down hill so we couldn't do any hard pedalling to warm up. I was wearing a thin head scarf, but because it was wet it really hurt my head. Eventually it we got to the bottom of the hill and could start peddling again.

We went through a village called Hambledon, and even though it was freezing it was a lot nicer than when we last went though.
The previous time was last year during all the floods. Cycling through the High Street was like cycling down a stream and virtually every house was flooded with pipes coming out of windows and letter boxes to clear the water. Very depressing.

Once we were over Portsdown Hill we had warmed and the temperature was rising so it was quite a nice ride back till the last couple of miles along the seafront at Lee on Solent.
You come around the corner to a lovely view of the Solent, but we hit a monster head wind, not what you need for the last couple of miles of a big ride.
Chris was being mad as usually and had decided to do the whole ride without changing gear. He was paying the price a bit by now, so I dropped down a gear and dragged him home in my rather large slipstream.

Overall it was a good ride, a bit stop start especially considering the conditions, but good fun.

More Icecapades

My plan is to write a post at least once a month, reviewing the previous month, so this is a bit like a footnote as I had started writing this post a few weeks ago.
It has been quite an emotional week for myself and my family, and I didn't want to dig it all up again next month.

Last Tuesday I decided to cycling into work again for only the first time in February. Big mistake.

As I was walking out to the garage I noticed it was a bit icy and did think about going the short route along the busier roads, but opted for the more scenic route. I noticed a couple of times when my back wheel was twitching a bit but still carried on.

Two hours later I was a home, unsure what had happened in the last two hours.

From what I can work out I came off hard on black ice. I would expected to have sore wrists or elbows but I think my helmet took the full brunt of the fall.

This is what I've been told or can work out from phone records and paperwork, but I have no recollection.
I called my wife and that I stopped Strava on my phone, not sure which order though. I then waited about 20 minutes for an ambulance, and spent the best part of an hour in that. By this time my wife had turned up, and when the paramedic was happy, she took me home. It was half term so my daughter was at home, but I didn't recognise her, so my wife call on a friend to look after her.
I then started asking questions, and then asking the same question many times, much to my wife's annoyance.

Don't worry the bike is ok, a slight buckle in the front wheel.

I am shaken up. I have been knocked out before, once on a bike, but more times on the rugby pitch. But they were all in my youth when I didn't have other people to think about. The thing that upset me the most was that I really upset my daughter when I didn't recognise her.

I have ordered a new helmet, so I will be back on the bike soon, but not rushing things. From know on it there is ice on the car windscreens, I will be taking the car not the bike.

Unfortunately it will probably mean that I won't be able to do a 50 mile ride in February, so might have to double up one month when it is warmer.

Because of my helmet I have walked away, albeit a bit wobbly to start off with, with a few cuts and bruises and the loss of a couple of hours of my life. I don't really want to think how I would have been if I wasn't wearing a helmet.
They aren't that flattering, but are a lot nicer than those hospital gowns that do up at the back and I'm sure I would have been wearing one of those for a while if I hadn't been wearing a helmet.

Please always wear a helmet!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Guest Writers Wanted

I'm looking for guest writers for my blog, have you got a story you want to share?
Where's the best place you've cycled to?
What's your greatest achievement? How did you do it?
What great things are you going to do this year?

I don't mind if you're a fellow blogger, I'm happy to add links back to your own blog, or someone who's got a great message but doesn't know how to share it.

It doesn't have to be cycling related but needs to be funny, motivational or inspiring. No sales pitches please.

I'm doing this to boost the content on this blog as I don't always have the time or ideas to post as often as I would like.
I will have the final say in what I post but I won't do any editing without your permission.
The ideal length would be so that it only takes a few minutes to read, if it is longer I might post it in two parts.

I'm not asking for anything in return, I just think we can learn from everyone if we are ready to just listen.

"Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on."
Louis L'Amour

Email me your stories

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Review of my 2014

Looking back it's been a good year for cycling. 
190 miles more than last year (the table includes my short lived affair with running). It is just dampened a bit by the last couple of months due to injury.

Drive or Ride?

The figures clearer show which month we got our second car. 
In January to March I had little choice but to cycle to work, but in April I had a choice and I'm ashamed to admit it I chose the car more often than I should have. It is mad that I cycled to work more in March that I did in the nicer summer months.


The best ride has to be the BHF Goodwood Ridecheck the link for more details, where I got to ride with family and friends around Goodwood race track. They haven't released dates for the event this year, but we're keen to do it again.

The next best was the one around the Isle of Wight. It is my longest ride to date at 85 miles and it was a great day out.

I did manage to go out for a few rides with my brother, one was up in Dulwich Park on Banana Bikes. 

This was considerably nicer than the cliff he tried to get me up. 
It was a short road in north Devon, I don't know how the tarmac stuck to the hill it was that steep. I had to stop and walk, it wasn't just my legs screaming at me, even my ears were hurting.

And then the wheels came off

In November I decided to do some weight training to help with my power to weight ratio. I started doing the Stronglifts 5x5 program where you add a small amount of weight each workout.
It was all going well till my right knee went wrong, so I decided to rest up to give it a chance to get better. This obviously effected my monthly figures for November and December.
It is still a bit sore but nearly right, and I got bored and started cycling which hasn't made it worse.
My brother suggested trying some yoga, especially the pigeon pose. 

This is what it is meant to look like

But this is probably more how I look at the moment.

It does seem to working, but it has highlighted how inflexible I am, especially on my right side.

The scales of justice

I weighed myself for the first time in two months on January 1st and I've gone up to 121kg, from 111kg at my lowest last year. 
I wasn't that surprised as I've had a relaxed Christmas, but the build up wasn't helped by being injured.
Now I know I should have kept doing some sort of exercise, it was only my knee that was sore, but I was really enjoying doing the squats and dead-lifts so got a bit fed up and did nothing instead.


I still think getting down to sub 100kg is still possible, it is less than half a kilo a week which is achievable.

I'm going to cycle into work as much as possible, just need to man up more often.
I plan to do a 50 mile bike ride at least once a month.
I will go to the gym at work Monday, Wednesday and Friday as long as I am in the office on those days.

Paleo or not Paleo, that is the question?

Whatever the answer, diet is the most important part of losing weight. 
You can't out train a bad diet. 
An average cyclist will burn about 600 calories an hour, that is the same as a 6" pizza, and who eats one that small?

If you're ensure the Paleo diet is going back to eating like a caveman, so meat and vegetables. Two people at work have lost a lot of weight but it just feels a bit too extreme for me. I have also suffered from gout so I am concerned about eating too much meat.

I do agree with the basics that we eat too much processed foods, so I'm going to try to cut out bread and pasta, which did make up a large part of my diet. However I am going to still eat rice and potatoes, which aren't on their lists, but much smaller portions. I will also try alternatives like quinoa as it a good source of protein and fewer carbs and calories than rice.

It is more of a change of mindset, I still eat how I did when I was playing rugby and carbs were in fashion.

This year I'm going for a balanced diet of natural foods and be more active.

As always thanks for your comments and support.

I hope that 2015 is all that you want it to be.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

How far have you come?

2 years ago it felt like it nearly killed me, but now I realise it is completely the opposite!

Yesterday as I was walking out to the garage for an easy bike ride along the coast I suddenly changed my mind and decided to go up Portsdown Hill to Fort Nelson.
I then decided to see how far I have come in the last two years.

February 2012

Haribo Joe had finally convinced me to go for a bike ride with him and let me choose the route. I decided to push myself my going up Portsdown Hill which overlooks Portsmouth. I wanted to keep it interesting for him as he was doing a lot of cycling at the time.

It is a 12 mile round trip, with a "mountain" to climb to get to the half way point.

The total time was 1 hour 47, but the total riding time was 1 hour 22. I needed a very good rest at the top of the hill. This is where my profile photo was taken.

I came back a broken man.

But is was the start.

October 2014

I have done the route in 54:45 so I knew I had to really push it to beat this time. I really focused on getting back up to speed after junctions etc.

"It never gets easier, you just faster."

It hurt!

Normally when I get back into Stubbington I ease off to cool down, but not this time I was pushing all the way as I had a time to beat.

My time was 53:00!
This is the segment on Strava for more details Fort Nelson Segment

While looking at the results it did hit me that I have cycled from fat to fit as the title of the blog promises.

That first ride didn't nearly kill me, it started me on a great journey to become a lot fitter.

As you can see I have started running.

I decided to do this as I wanted to mix things up. Cycling is great but you are stuck in one position all the time, not working all the stabilising muscles.

I'm doing the couch to 5k program, using the NHS podcasts. The music is very cheesy but it is simple, you don't have to worry about timings.
You run a bit and then walk a bit and repeat, doing the same run 3 times a week and then the next week the amount of running increases a bit.

The first two weeks went ok, but it stirred things up in my hips/pelvis where I have had previous issues. 
I expected this and should have done a lot more stretching to compensate.

On Friday afternoon my right ankle started hurting and I could hardly walk, but I knew with a lot of stretching it would be sorted. Saturday it was feeling a lot better, Sunday is was nearly right.

However I was so focused on sticking to the plan of doing 3 runs a week that I went for a run on Sunday when I really shouldn't have.
It was also the first run of week 3, with quite a big jump up in the amount of running.
It was feeling ok, but then I felt something go.
Yes I should have stopped and walked home, but for some stupid reason I didn't which probably made it worse.

It is on the mend, and I will repeat some if not all of week 2 again when it is ready. There is no rush.

My weight is stuck at 112.5kg.
My heaviest was 134kg, so I am really pleased with a loss of over 21kg, but I need to lose more.
I'm going to start using the MyFitnessPal app seriously again to track my food, and even look at reducing carbs as I do know they make up too much of my calorie intake.

I'm in a much better place than I was two years ago, what will the next two years bring?