Month: March 2014

Learning how to eat.

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It may seem a strange thing to say, but at the age I have reached (mid to late thirties) I need to return to mastering a skill which we are born with, feeding. The main difference is when you are first born into this world you are totally reliant on your mother or father for your food. You cry and they feed you and if that doesn’t work change your nappy. As you grow and get older you learn how to feed yourself and where the biscuit tin is kept, plus how to get in and out of the cupboard without anyone else finding out!

So why an I writing a blog about eating again or feeding myself. Thankfully I have not had an accident which has left me having to re teach myself the basic human functions, far from it, I need to learn how and more importantly when to feed my body when put in the bike. I will say the distances are starting to come along nicely as is the average speed for the rides, but as I am required to complete longer rides I need to gain confidence in what and when to eat whilst out riding.

In the past I have used gels and tabs from high 5. The gels taste nice which certainly helps and the tabs contain vital electrolytes, as well as having a pleasant taste (berry and orange have been tried) I need to start to work out the best time to take in board food so I can allow my body to cope with the extra training it will be put through and so that I don’t increase the chance of an injury.

I have read a few articles and blogs on getting your food right pre, during and post ride. I have to say I am a fan of wheatabix or whichever supermarket version I have in at the time as my pre ride breakfast. However it is the feeding whilst riding which is the area which requires improvement. Having practices with gels from high 5 I know they are good stuff and my body is able to cope with them. I feel there is now need to change the brand, it’s just the timing of when to take in board the fuel so my body doesn’t suffer. The key hear is to get the fuel on board before your body needs it so you don’t lose any performance on the bike. My issue to work out is just when. This morning we went out for a nice 48 km ride and I only used the tabs for energy (still need to lose some weight). Any ride longer than this and I will need to carry fuel and take it on board so I can keep up the good work. I feel comfortable riding up to 60 km at quite a good pace (for me between 25-28kph) but fuel will be required if I am going to complete another 100km on top of this in a good time.

My plan will be to try and learn to take more frequent sips from the bidon rather than an larger gulp of the liquid the said bidon contains, in order to keep the speed up whilst riding. Taking in fuel so far has resulted in the speed falling away and having to work very hard to catch up with any fellow riders or group. This defeats the object of taking on more fuel to go for longer.

After a ride I am normally quite good at taking on a good meal which will contain the right stuff to aid the bodies recovery. Pre and post ride is sorted, now let’s get the feeding whilst on the ride itself cracked before the summer.

The fact of the matter is I must practice taking in food whilst on a bike riding. It will take time and this is one thing you need to practice as we are all individual so therefore will require fuel at different times. Saying that it is only learning to eat again, and I have done this once before in life, so can do it again. Just this time I’ll be on a bike and not wearing nappies! >

Now its getting serious!

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I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but by the end of April we will know. The regular reader will know that I record my rides using either my Garmin Edge 200 and then upload to Strava or via my mobile record my rides via Strava mobile app, just so I can easily compare and track my performance.

One thing I really enjoy are the monthly challenges Strava provide each month to keep you going. Checking out how you shape up against others you follow has certainly helped me get out on the bike to close the gap. Now we have really gone a step further.

Image   The pros are contesting the Spring classics and Strava don’t want you to feel left out. In 40 days they have challenged users to ride the total distance of the classics, a mere 1266km! So I’ve accepted the challenge to see how far I actually get. Oh dear I am either going to die or come out of this feeling like my bike is actually attached to my body at all times.

ImageTo achieve this I have also accepted another challenge to ride 130km in one single ride. It is actually not that far away on the training plan so will be a good test of what I am made off, and I hope it is not a mistake. Only time will tell how successful I will me.

The result, if I am successful, is the increased leaner me on a bike and the option to purchase one of the specialist T shirts and Cycle jerseys only available for people who complete the challenge. I have to say they are not cheap and even if I complete the challenge I might refrain from the purchase but until the distances have been covered this is irrelevant. So if you dont hear from me on the blog you will know why, I am out riding the Km in the attempt to hot a challenging distance goal in the month of April. At least I have two weeks holiday which should help be get out on the bike.

a Strava first!

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I’ve done it. I have managed to ride 250 km in a month and record these on Strava to earn my first cycling digital badge. A small reward for the training but one which has been on the do to list for a while, and now I can cross it out and replace it with the goal of the next badge 500 km in a month.


The ride home today needed to be a steady pace, but quick and this was a very good lesson. Overall the times will tumble when you have a comfortable consistent effort, not going made for some segments and then having to rest on others. This is a technique not I have achieved with some success to replicate on other rides and see if I can maintain a higher average speed for these and in the process gain a string of PB’s too. From the perspective on PB’s I think this evening was a first. All the segments which I gained recognition for where PB’s. Not all segments were PB’s as some are marked as dangerous and one I will not improve upon until I have shifted a few more kg in weight. Still I am happy with a moving average speed of 28.1 for the 20 km journey.

Well I am happy the early part of the training is going well and I have some strength to work on in the coming weeks.

Training update and allowing my mind to drift into the future…. The possibilities?????

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It’s going well, very well so far. I might only be in the second week of my training plan but cycling to and from work with a ride on a Sunday is allowing me to hit the numbers for the early weeks. I am also starting to feel the strength come back to my legs I had last year so all is good, especially as the weight is finally starting to fall off as my body adjusts to its new regime.

I have to say I am enjoying the training too. I think this is a vital way to ensure I maintain the levels I will be required to do for August. It Is easy to training when you enjoy putting in the hours. I have to say using the bike as part of the commute to work really helps as the training for these days is complete with me just getting to work and then home again later in the day.

I still need to work on some items and I will share one of these with you. Whilst I fuel my body before a ride in the form of breakfast, but more importantly the food the previous day, I still send to work out what it the best food to eat whilst on the bike. I am a fan of the high 5 gels as they taste nice and come with the caffeine option of your wish, which from what I read are very useful towards the end of a ride.


I also love the high 5 tabs which you drop into your water bidons as these have the electrolytes which need to be replaced when cycling.

The reason I still need to practice which fuel works do me is last year I think I might have overdone the gel consumption during the London to Brighton night ride. Let’s say I was more than wide awake for the ride and the whole day following the ride and only started to feel slightly tired when I finally got home that evening. I also don’t like fig rolls which are a good source of fuel when cycling. Looks like it’s jelly babies or Haribo for the sugar content or Jaffa Cakes, but it’s the other eagerly types I need to practice with. Well I am going to have plenty of opportunities to get the right mix of fuels for me. We are all individual but I will post what works for me if and when I find out.

I think I could be even more hooked by the bike and cycling is starting to be the main choice of transport, at least in the head, even though it might not be the best option. An example of this is not wanting to reserve something in the well known catalog store here in the UK (the red and blue one) as I can’t collect in store as I want to cycle to work. The item will just have to wait until the day when I use the car again. It was only a bed anyway, it can wait.

If I am going to be regularly cycling 150-250km per month when the training ramps up in the near future, what happens when the events are completed? All this work for 2014 and ride London gets me in hopefully fantastic shape but then what? This has got my mind working, well drifting again. I may need some time off from the charity bike rides, and focus a bit more on the personal challenge. I like the idea of cycling over a number of days from locations within the UK to start, but then entering Europe. The latter will certainly be 2015 at the earliest due to the planning involved for such a journey.

I suppose I should look at completing one of the London to (enter a European capital here) events before I turn 40, which means I have three years left to plan and then execute my plan, however lose they are at the time of writing this post. Whatever the far fetched ideas I have for 2015 and beyond I suppose I better return to the matter of 2104 and very much the present plan and ensuring I am ready for RideLondon come August. Right in that case it’s off to bed to get the legs ready for the cycle to work in the morning.

Thank you for reading.

Back cycling to work… and home again (with a full days work in between just to add!)

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Yesterday I decided I was going to start cycling to work, lights checks and all working, a change of clothes already in work waiting and the items required for a nice shower once I arrived. The ability to get some training in whilst travelling to work, plus I can do some later as I have to get home. I don’t class myself as a fair weather cyclist but the winter months have played havoc with the road and this year there seem to be more pot holes and cracks in the road. Well I say pot holes more like the metal drain cover is still there but the tarmac around it has been washed away. Literally in some cases! However now the weather seems to be on the turn the council can start fixing the roads and I can use the lighter mornings to cycle in a slightly more safer environment to work. Training on the road is far better than training in the gym, if nothing else so the rides completed on Strava can count towards challenges rather than just the MTS (Monthly Training Series).

I have not cycled to work for about 6 months so it was nice to get back in the saddle early in the morning. As the regular reader (all 2 of them!) will know this week I have started my training seriously for Ride London and any other sportive which takes my fancy before then too. The fact I can complete part of my training just getting to and from work is an added bonus and gives more time for other activities in the day apart from work. And it felt good! I managed the 20km in 43.11 (average speed 27.8kph) and I could have gone faster as I am sure the legs had more to give. I also lost about two minutes on a very busy roundabout, but better to be safe than dead! I have said in previous posts I wanted to get some shorter rides in at a higher pace to build up the power and fitness which will help on the longer rides and this was just the start. When I uploaded the activity I was rewarded with three PB which gave me an extra spring to my step, so as you can probably tell Tuesday is a good day, just because I can cycle to work and feel the benefits. This is why more people should do it, just think of the money you could save on the fuel and the health benefits cycling will bring to you.

The ride home was a far more gentle ride and I was not going to smash any records here. a gentle 25.6 kph was the average speed. I think the body was feeling the effects of a busy day plus a good paced ride in the morning. On reflection I didn’t fuel the body very well today either, which doesn’t help a quick burst of energy. I must ensure I have a good breakfast from the canteen on arrival in the future.  Anyway soon into the ride I knew that is had to be an easy pace so took the opportunity to  take in the lovely countryside views which we are blessed with in the south of England.

The joy of cycling had never really gone anywhere but today I dusted it down from winter hibernation. The cycle commute is back. Yes!

Getting there!

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The weather was lovely this weekend and just ideal for a cycle, so I have done just that. In the last four days I have ridden a total of 93.5 km which is ideal to kick start my training for Ride London later in the year. Last week I achieved my weekly goal of cycling 80 km mainly helped by the work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I will say that of the 93.5km cycled 39.5 has been in the gym and the rest on the road, so prober cycling. However the result will be a fitter me and km in the legs for later in the year.

I didn’t write this post yesterday as I was a little disappointed with a 10 mile TT which a friend of mine had set up. We both had a goal of achieving this in sub 35 minutes and unfortunately I was 29 seconds over. I am sure next time I will achieve the sub 35 minutes goal. However I need to take heart from the fact the ride yesterday the ride had a number of PB’s on segments which I have to take heart from. A PB is a PB after all.

I am also glad I didn’t post this when feeling down and took the opportunity to look at one of the segments from my Saturday ride. There was a segment which I had set a goal of completing in 9m30s and actually completed this in 8m39s. This cheered me up as to take 51 seconds of this time is a real achievement. So on reflection I am happy with this. I must remember in the grand scheme of things I am only battling against myself and my times. If I keep achieving PB’s then I know I am improving.


I aim to increase the km ridden each week from now as the training plan kicks in. Cycling to work will certainly help. In the past I have looked for an average speed on rides of 25kph which is 4 hours for 100km and 6 hours for 150km and just under 6.5 hours for the big 160km (100 miles). I do think I might need to increase the speed for the shorter training rides as this will help my training. If I can get some 30-50 km rides in at 27-29kph and then up to 30kph this should be able to enable me to complete the longer rides at a good average speed.

Well the weather is grand so far this week so let’s start cycling to work. As a famous supermarket has as it’s slogan “Every Little Helps”. If only I could earn the relevant points on that supermarkets loyalty card for every km ridden. Now there’s an idea for another blog.

New kit part 2, staying warm on a ride!

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That is how I felt when I was on my morning ride today. I have warn arm Warmers before and thought the leg Warmers would also do a good job, which they did, but the best feeling when I finished the ride was not having cold and wet feet. I am sure my shoes will also thank me, I know my feet certainly did.

The reason was I have finally invested in overshoes.


As you can see this excellent invention fits over your shoe so you still clip in as normal but have the luxury of keeping your feet warm and dry (depending upon the make, some are not waterproof). There was a lot do standing water, although not the flooding of recent weeks, so it was a good test of the overshoes. After one ride of 28 km they have scored a big 10/10 from me, but I will see how they go in the next few weeks. First impressions make a big difference on me and I have to say again dhb have come up trumps again with another fantastic product as a very reasonable price.

As well as keeping my feet warm I have decided, as spring is nearly hear, to bin the tights and have invested in leg warmers.


Again the brand is dhb and I got all the products here in one shipment for just over £40, you just have to love Wiggle. Anyway back to the warmers. I went for large for both in the leg and the arms and they are just right. I am 6ft and weigh around 14 stone and they are a perfect fit. I have size 10 feet and the large overshoes are ideal for my shoes. In metric figures all this is 182cm tall, weighing 88.9kg and shoe size 44! They work a treat, my whole body was warm and I think As a result I was able to push further too! Well that is what I’ll be telling myself as justification for the investment if nothing else.

All this plus I had a new saddle bag from the great people at Ben Hayward Cycles in Cambridge, (@BenHaywardCycle) to contain the essentials for an breakdown, and the ride recorded on my new Garmin Edge 200. It might be the entry level GPS cycle computer but it sure does do a lot for under £100. Impressed, no very impressed I am with the little handlebar mounted unit which keeps you honest. I do like the fact I have my average moving speed in my eye sight when ever I glance down at the handlebars. Instant motivation to get your sorry ass moving, or to scare the living shit out of you when you’re defending a hill as speed. Well I say speed, the max speed today was, going downhill was still slower than a Mark Cavendish sprint for the line. His speed on those finishes are just silly for a mere amateur like me!

Well it was fun being warm on the bike and I have to say it felt great to be back involved with the Sunday rides again. I even was able to manage some much needed decorating during the ret of the day which probably meant I didn’t push it hard enough on the ride. Oh well the plan which starts next week says start small and build it up over the eight weeks.

Thanks you for reading, and keep cycling.