Wednesday, 7 April 2010

What are the odds?

Been cycling to the new job on the new bike for nearly 4 weeks without tools or a puncture repair kit. Got both for my birthday 3 days ago and lo and behold I get a puncture on the way to work this morning. Fortunately I remembered to pack them in my rucksack, would have been bloody annoying if I'd left them at home.

Talking of rucksacks, I no longer need mine. Ordered my panniers Sunday night from an online store, saving £12 off the shop price, and they turned up today. I have adjusted the fittings so will be using them from tomorrow. No more sweaty, spotty back hopefully. And always plenty of room for my lunch, shirt, towel, book, waterproofs etc etc. To be honest more room than I need for my daily commute, but I will need them eventually, and the rucksack does have unpleasant side effects in terms of spots, and I'd like to be spot free by the time we go to Turkey on holiday in July. I am so looking forward to that, I don't want to be self conscious about taking my shirt off, as I know it's going to be really really hot!!

Monday, 5 April 2010

LOST - one willpower, if found please return to me asap.

Well this Easter has not been good in terms of eating healthily, I'm going to have to work incredibly hard not to put on a fair few pounds. Easter eggs, chocolate cake with fresh cream, hot cross buns, plus 4 days off the bike, I can see 8 weeks progress being undone in less than a week. Apart from the last 2 weeks I have been steadily losing between 1 and 3 pounds most weeks. There have been a couple of big events recently whereby I have eaten and drank more than usual, a 21st Birthday, a 50th Birthday, plus a tribute night for Dad on what would have been his and Moms 50th Wedding Anniversary, so the last 2 weeks have seen a tiny weight gain, but I was prepared for a little blip, what has surprised/disappointed me is the fact that I have been unable to resist the chocolate the past few days, not helped by being given 4 or 5 eggs this year, but I could have always just given them to the kids, I didn't have to eat them myself did I? Well, I've only eaten 2, so I could always give the others away can't I........or can I?

Watch this space!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Another year older.

But probably no wiser!!

Had to wait until the kids had finished the easter egg hunt before I got to my pressies, the sacrifices we have to make as parents eh!?! Eventually I got a new water bottle and holder to match the new bike (ok, she's 4 months old, but she's still my new bike ok), multi tool, puncture repair kit, big bottle of Muc-off bike cleaner and a big can of GT85, and a new pair of wellies for down the allotment. And the sad thing is, I'm chuffed with all of it, how times change when we get older!! In fact, I can't wait to use them all - except the punture kit of course, hopefully that will never be used........fat chance.

Plus a few cash gifts too, so will be off to Red Kite tomorrow if they are open, a pair of panniers with my name on them (not literally) just waiting to be fitted. Then I can retire the rucksack, I can't fit that much in it and it doesn't half give me a spotty back. Happy days :)

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Time to start blogging again.

Well what can I say, these past few weeks have been a mixture of frustration, disappointment, desperation and finally some joy.

For reasons I can't go into (I've already been reminded my previous contract included a confidentiality clause, how very 007) I found myself looking for a new job. So after 8 weeks of indecision and upheaval I was available for hire. Fortunately, fate was on my side this time, and after 2 days looking at various online recruitment sites, and updating of CV's etc, a great opportunity fell in my lap, I was interviewd on day 3 (Wednesday), offered the job the same afternoon and started the following Monday. That was almost 3 weeks ago now, and I'm really enjoying it. The commute on the bike is slightly longer, but I rarely took the direct route to the old place anyway, the people seem really nice - friendly, down to earth and enjoy a laugh.

One upshot is that I will need to reassess my charity ride - the route has definitely got to change, I can't see the point of visiting places where I used to work, and the date will have to change too - late April is unrealistic given I've only been riding regularly again for 3 weeks. No definite decisions yet though.

And that is it for now. Need to keep something back for tomorrows blog don't I?

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Todays weigh in.

Pleasing result this morning, 2 milestones reached. I now weigh 13 stone 13.2lbs, so 3 lost this week. That means I've broke the 14 stone barrier, and now lost my first half a stone. I wasn't feeling overly confident to be honest because despite my big ride I'd eaten a fair bit of party food this week. We had the in-laws over Wednesday (the day of his birthday), then there was the party yesterday with his school friends (which I survived by the way, and everyone seemed to have lots of fun), and today my folks are coming over so it's party number 3.

The body doesn't feel too bad after Fridays exertion's, knee hurts a bit, back still sore, but it was sore before so that's not because of the riding. Apart from that, no complaints.

Time to go and make myself decent, everyone should be here in 5 minutes. Fingers crossed the house is still standing when they've gone!!

Friday, 5 February 2010

The Big 5 0 (a long story, be warned)

No, it's not my birthday, although it's only 8 weeks away, hint hint. Even then, I will definitely NOT be 50, another 7 years before I hit that milestone.

No, today I managed my first ever 50 mile ride, and on the new bike too.

I headed for Warwick first, and at around 15 miles there is a turning I normally take if I'm doing my 30 mile ride, which loops me back home through lovely country lanes. I have to confess, I spent a lot of time pondering if I should just do the 30 mile route today, after all, I haven't done a lot of riding lately. However, as wise a move as that might have been, I carried straight on and headed for Warwick.

Once in Warwick the plan was to head to Stratford Upon Avon then head home, however I realised that I hadn't actually looked at the map for weeks - I'd initially thought about doing this weeks and weeks ago but with one thing or another it never happened, so I was now in the centre of Warwick with my inbuilt "Man Sat Nav" to guide me!! I could recall that Stratford was on the right of Warwick on the map, so I headed right, past Warwick Castle and some fantastic Tudor buildings, and towards countryside. A mile or 2 later there was an island and some signposts, and sure enough I was heading in the right direction.

So I joined the A46 and pedalled onwards and upwards - quite a lot of upwards actually, but I was doing OK, although by now I was feeling a bit saddle sore, so any downhill bit, no matter how gentle, I took the opportunity to freewheel and stand on my pedals for a bit of relief. I didn't realise how far Stratford was from Warwick, they look quite close on the map, but by now there really was no turning back.

When I got close to Stratford I followed the signs for the town centre, thinking I'll get there then look for the signs for Brum. Which is exactly what I did, then found myself pedalling for a mile or 2 on the road I'd just ridden into Stratford, sods law I think that's called.

So I'm now on the home leg, and although I had a drink I had no snacks with me, and I was feeling peckish, but I'd forgotten my wallet and only had £1.42 in my rucksack. No worries, I'll see what I can get with that, if I can find a little shop. Well, did I come across a shop, oh no. And then I got pretty wet in a shower, surrounded by blue sky, one rouge grey cloud targeted me quite unnecessarily. It was 6 miles before I stumbled on a proper oasis in Wootton Wawen. A shop with loads of damaged and out of date goods outside at knock down prices, so I got a lot for my £1.40 I can tell you. Mini Hob Nobs (x 2), bottle of Lucozade and a packet of nuts, which I devoured like a man who hadn't eaten in days :-)

After that 10 minute break it was back on the bike, the rest of the journey was straightforward enough, although my left calf was starting to cramp up, and my neck ached (the posture on the road bike is different to the mountain bike, that should get easier though), the uphills were really painful, I resorted to getting out of the saddle for those, oh and my knees ached. But apart from that, totally straightforward.

I'm now completely knackered, but showered, warm and dry, we'll see how the body is tomorrow. My sons 5th birthday party tomorrow, him plus 11 mates at the local bowling alley, should be fun. If I survive I'll post an update.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Another small step in the right diection.

Weighed in this morning at 14 stone, 2.2lbs, so another pound off. Better off than on though, right?

Plus, I had a little ride on the new bike this afternoon, probably only 3 or 4 miles, but the first time I've been on her since the day I bought her, and my first ride in days. Weather and back permitting I hope to do at least one serious ride this week. I hurt my back doing some digging down the allottment Thursday last week, and I've been in real pain since. Taking the anti-imflammatories and doing some stretches to help, but not a lot better yet. Suffered with back pain for years though, so I know it'll be ok eventually. Just not what I needed right now though.

Short and sweet, but that's all for now.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Has it really been 2 weeks since my last post?

I knew I'd neglected the old blog but didn't realise it was a full 2 weeks since I last posted - I have been very distracted with a number of different "issues" so haven't had the time, or, to be honest, the motivation to sit here and share my woes.

Bike rides have been very minimal and gym visits nigh on non-existant - However, on a positive note I have been eating well and weighing myself every Sunday morning and can announce the following results.

10th Jan - First weigh in - 14 stone 7.8lbs
17th Jan - 2nd weigh in - 14 stone 5.2lbs **2.6lbs LOST**
24th Jan - 3rd weigh in - 14 stone 3.2lbs **2lbs LOST**

So, although my rides have petered out somewhat, at least when I get back on the bike I'll be lighter than before. I know it's not even 5 pounds, but I really need to look on the bright side right now!!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

As Hannibal Smith would say....

"I love it when a plan comes together"

As I mentioned yesterday the plan was to get in early enough to do a session in the gym before work, and then again after, and that's just what I did.

Both times I did a half hour on the excercise bike, just on level 7 (not sure what level it goes up to, but a lot higher than 7 I'm sure), but again keeping the RPM above the 100 mark.

AM - 9.9 miles giving a speed of 19.9 mph

PM - 10.5 miles giving a speed of 21.18 mph

Throw in the 3.5 miles each way commute, and that gives a daily total of 27.4 miles. Plus about 40 pages of my book, so excercising the brain too!! Pleased to report I have resisted all chocolates and biscuits today again (I did have some chocs yesterday, but I was restrained by my standards). Someone brought some ginger nuts in today, the one biscuit I don't like, so they were easy to leave alone, but the Celebrations are still open so there was an element of discipline involved.

Who's Hannibal Smith did I hear you ask?

That was a clip from The A Team by the way :-)

Monday, 11 January 2010

Another week, another workout.

Roads still too risky to chance anything other than the direct 3.5 mile route to work, plus I'm on the early shift this week - 8am - 4pm, hardly the earliest of shifts, but earlier than the usual 9-5 so technically it is the early shift, OK? :-), but that means darkness on the way, so no point taking any unnecessary risks, especially as I have access to the gym.

Popped in for 15 minutes this morning, and managed a 1 mile run on the treadmill in 10 minutes (1.83 km actually, but I'm not going to brag about that extra 0.13 of a mile), then popped in again after work and did another 3 circuits on the weights, but slightly modified the routine again.

First circuit, weights on level 5, 20 reps.
variety of Ab excercises & flexibility excercises
1 mile on the bike, level 14, minimum 100 RPM

Second set as above, but weights dropped to level 4 and 30 reps.

Third and final set the weights were dropped to level 3 and I did 50 reps, no bike this time - apart from the 3.5 mile ride home of course, which I managed to do at a pretty high RPM again, which surprised me.

I'm organized this evening, so in the morning I can make a quick getaway, and hopefully have a minimum 30 minutes on the excercise bike tomorrow morning, and again after work. That's the plan anyway.

Oh, failed in my first ever ebay bid yesterday, I was after a cheap mountain bike to see me through the bad weather, but was gazumped at the last second. Will keep looking.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Back on the scales.....

As mentioned in previous posts, it's time to do something about my weight. Ideally I should be 12 - 12.5 stones, but over the last few months it's slowly crept up again. So I got on the scales this morning for my first official weigh in of 2010 and I was 14 stone 7.8 pounds (203.8 pounds or 92.44kg). So I want/need to lose 2 stones, and I want it off by my birthday which is 4th April. That's 12 weeks to lose 28 pounds, so less than 3 pounds a week. Totally achievable - I've done it before. 2008 I was pretty much the same weight as I am now and got down to 12.5 stone in a similar time. And I didn't officially diet as such, I just cut out most of the crap I love to eat, especially the sweets and biscuits, and ate more fruit and veg instead. Plus I did 30 minutes in the gym everyday before work and I started that regime again last week, throw in the extra miles I have to do on the bike, and I'm confident about this. Hopefully I won't regret putting this in black and white.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Isn't she lovely?

Popped over to Red Kite this afternoon and finally picked her up - they popped me on the rollers and made a few minor adjustments before I rode the 4 miles or so home - stuck to the main roads to avoid the snow - the difference between these tyres and the mountain bike tyres is massive, probably a quarter the size and zero tread, so didn't want to take any chances, I'd have been gutted falling off the first time. Felt good, but very different. I think it's going to take a few rides at least to get accustomed to what is a very different riding position to the mountain bikes I've ridden exclusively for over 2 years now. I'm not going to put my gel saddle on immediately, see how I get on with the one that it came with, see if I can't toughen up my butt :-)
Another thing to get used to is the toe clips, I've never had a bike with them before, apart from the exercise bike in the gym and I've only been on that 2 or 3 times. Another adjustment to my riding style to get used to.
Anyway, got her home, brushed off the snow and wiped dry all the parts I could get to, and she's now sleeping soundly in the shed. And as I've not been able to find sledges anywhere I definitely want the snow to clear as soon as possible - I've got a bike to ride!!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

9 miles reading a book.

Due to the continued sub zero conditions I took the quick route to and from work today, the picture shows how bad my road still is, but to be honest the main roads were ok.

I did pop into the gym after work though, and did just over 15km in half an hour on the excercise bike there. It was pretty good, I could read a book and still keep my RPM around the 100 mark. Not having a cycle computer I'm never 100% sure how far I've gone, and I have no idea of what RPM I might be achieving. I don't think 100 for half an hour is too bad - I went online when I got back to used an online converter as I'm "old school", and that's an average of 19mph.

15 miles in a day isn't going to get me far when it comes to the "Big Bike Ride" but I'm glad to be keeping active in this weather, and my extra gym work will hopefully shift some weight too.

Oh, had a call from Red Kite this afternoon, my new bike is in and is ready for collection - as tempted as I am to rush round there tomorrow after work, I think I'll wait until Saturday and I can ride it home in daylight. Pretty excited I have to say, although I'm undecided about the weather - part of me wants the snow to stay a while longer as I hope to go sledging with the kids Saturday and/or Sunday, but I also really want to get out on the new bike too, but can't risk her in these conditions. We'll see what Mother Nature brings eh?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Made it.

Despite the 3 or 4 inches of snow yesterday I biked it in to work today. To be honest I don't have many options, the wife needs the car for the school run - although today the school was closed so I could have taken the car, but it seemed the riskier option, plus I'd sort of boasted on Facebook last night about how the weather would not beat me, so to turn up in the car would have resulted in much mocking!!! The other option is the bus, but that involves a walk of about a mile, then waiting in the cold for the inevitably unreliable bus service, so I went for the 2 wheeled option. Plus, if I'm being honest, I enjoy the fact that some people are amazed that I cycle in poor weather, when, lets face it, as long as I'm sensible and careful, it's not really any more dangerous that driving. Either way we use the same roads but on my bike I have so many more options, and should a road become blocked I can easily change my route, and unlike motorists I'll never be in a position where I have to abandon my bike by the side of the road and dig it out the next day - at the very worst I'd have to push it.

Anyway, todays journey was pretty straightforward. My road, being a cul-de-sac that has never seen a gritter, is always covered in snow whenever we have a decent amount, and this morning was no different, but a bit of careful, slow riding soon saw me join busier roads which were pretty clear. Except the snow is now a horrible, dirty wet slush that sprayed up my front and back, pebble-dashing my glasses and giving me a cold wet bum. So I changed my tactic and actually sought out a route using as many small roads as possible, even though they were still snow covered, as long as I cornered with care, there was no issues with using them, and I didn't get any wetter. So I managed about 5 miles in just under 30 minutes - probably quicker than those in cars too.

As I had left home slightly earlier than usual, I had a spare 15 minutes this morning so managed 1.73km in 10 minutes on the treadmill in the gym. Again, not the sort of pace to frighten any athletes out there, but burnt some extra calories and certainly worked up a bit of a sweat.

Then this evening I hit the gym again, doing a similar workout to Monday only I upped the ante slightly. I concentrated on upper body excercises using the various weight machines, first circuit I set it at level 5 and did 20 reps, then lowered the setting to 4 for 30 reps, then finally set it at 3 for 50 reps. I don't want to add muscle, I'm just trying to tone up what muscle I already have and burn them calories. In between each circuit I did a variety of abdominal excercises (sit ups, crunchs etc) together with more flexibility work. And at the end I was really feeling it, but it felt like a really productive hour, so I came the direct route home on the bike, which is only about 3 miles. Probably do the same again Friday, but we'll see how my arms and shoulders feel first.

Hard frost forecast for tonight so another careful commute ahead tomorrow.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Back to work (in more ways than one)

So, after 10 days at home, today things went back to normal, up in the darkness, sorting out my lunch, then on the bike to work.

After taking inspiration from fellow bloggers I'm glad to say that I did the 11 mile route there. It wasn't easy, especially after having to scrape frost from my saddle, but once I got going I soon warmed up (apart from my toes, they just got progressively colder until I thought they were frost bitten). The uphills felt harder than I remember, but, having said that, in little more than a minute I feel ok again and am ready for the next one, well, sort of :-)

Now for the amazing part - whilst at work I had no sweets, chocolates, cake or biscuits, and there are still loads left over from xmas. My sweet tooth really is my downfall when it comes to my weight, so I was really pleased with this.

Then, after work I hit the gym. Only about 45 minutes but I did 3 circuits on the weight machines, plus 3 abdominal workouts together with some excercises to increase my flexibility. My back has been feeling quite stiff lately, but I have basically been sat on my backside eating and drinking for 10 days so that should not surprise me should it?

After that I just did 4 miles home, but all in all not a bad first day back at work. Plus, it's 6 months today since I gave up smoking. And 4 days until I get my new bike.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

New bike finally ordered.

After many hours online looking at different bikes and visiting a few shops, as well as monitoring a few bikes for sale on Ebay, I have now ordered my first ever new bike. Too long have I relied on battered 2nd hand bikes plus a borrowed one for the last couple of months. I hadn't planned on spending £500 (and by the time I have the mudguards and pannier rack it will be more than that), but that was before I did any proper research, and it became plain that my £300 budget was simply unrealistic. Sure I could have bought a bike for that, but I need a bike I can rely on, one that will cover my 15-20 miles daily commute as well as the 600+ miles of my charity ride, one that is nice to ride (what a novelty that will be!!).
So, the deposit has been paid, the order placed and, Thursday or Friday next week I will be the proud owner of one of these. Specialized Allez 16, granted it's only the entry model but according to many sources it's a fine peice of kit. Can't wait to ride her.
It will look less sexy due to the mudguards and the rack, but they are pretty essential. Commuting whatever the weather is more fun without a wet bum and legs, and dirty splashes all over me (thawing snow is the worst in my opinion, really dirty mess it leaves behind - at least when it rains the rain helps wash the crap off). And having the rack will mean I can retire the rucksack - no more sweaty back syndrome, and hopefully fewer unsightly spots too. Not that I go topless too often in public, a combination of English weather and my large belly make that unwise, but we are going on a "proper" summer holiday this year, 2 weeks in Turkey with the wife and kids, so it will be nice not to be self conscious about my back - although I realise I will have to work hard to sort out the belly :-)