Category Archives: exercise - Page 2

Conference travel coming up :-)

I’m attending a conference at Cliff College starting Friday lunchtime and ending Saturday lunchtime.

Fortunately, it makes a great cycle ride there and back. Current route is just over 63 miles so I might need to go the wrong way a few times to increase it a bit 😉 I’ve made it go on minor roads to increase the climbing to just over 4,500 feet as light training for the BearBones 200. It will mean a bit of an early start though.

You can see the route on Strava and it will tick off 2 of the remaining 7 60+ day rides to get my Eddington number up to 60 by the end of the year 🙂

As I’ll have finished preparing my Bike for Life for the BareBones 200 I think I’ll sort out my packing to use it in light weight bikepacking mode (essentially 2 drybags in WildcatGear Lion and Tiger harnesses plus my Lioness bag for bits). I might add an Alpkit Stem Cell for snacks.

And for anyone interested the conference is “Marriage and Relationships: facilitation training event” for the Methodist Connexion 😉


Post Sabbatical Challenges

So I’m coming to the end of my 3 month Sabbatical. It has been fantastic but with one day to go time to think about the Post Sabbatical Challenges.

First, a summary of the Sabbatical

  • Three special sites visited:
  • Plenty of Cycling
  • Time with the family
    • Visiting family in Cornwall
    • A 21st Birthday with the family in Bristol
    • A weekend with family including our grandson in Cardiff
    • Time with my nephew and fiancee planning their wedding
    • A couple of weeks touring Scotland and Northumberland with Jane and youngest Son using our caravan (Skye, Loch Ness, Blair Atholl and then Lindisfarne
  • Plenty of reading (my Kindle now has 145 books on it)
  • Plenty of reflection and lots of personal change as a result, more still to come.
  • A significant health impact.
    • I am the lightest I have been for more than 5 years (probably a lot more than that).
    • I have lost over 7 kg during the sabbatical which is 10kg since the heaviest this year.
    • I have reduced my body fat % by 4%.
    • I can now run 3.8 miles without any problems and have run my fastest 5k
    • I am using the last hole on my belt

So what next?

It seems obvious that I want to continue with this progress towards a healthier me as I am really enjoying the changes that result in energy and self-perception. So

  • I have entered the BB200 which is a 200km off road ride through the Cambrian Mountains in October. The challenge is to complete it within 36 hours. That is going to be a really significant challenge for me in many ways.
  • We are starting the 5:2 Fast Diet in the coming week. As my cycling miles plummet I don’t want to pile the weight back on and both the science around this diet and the practicalities appeal. If I could lose another 5% body fat that would put me in the middle of the healthy range for my age. It would also significantly help both my running and cycling.
  • I’m doing my first running event on Tuesday which is 3 miles (Watermead Challenge)
  • I want to build up the running so that I can do a 10k run by September (that should really help with the BB200 which will include lots of sections where I need to push or even carry my bike)
  • I want to get back in the swimming pool. My target is to swim 20 lengths front crawl without stopping.
  • I’ll enter the Leicester Triathlon next year. Unlike last year I’ll do so with proven capability of doing the swimming and running.
  • Within the next 12 months I’d like to build up to being able to complete a one day 200 mile bike ride.

That should keep me going 🙂


Signed up for a crazy thing

At the weekend I came over all crazy and have signed up for the Bear Bones 200. This is probably the daftest thing I have ever done! Last year I watched it online by following the satellite tracking dots and heard afterwards how incredibly tough it had been with hours at a time of “Hike a Bike” sections (where you have to push or carry your bike because the conditions are unrideable – often tussocky boggy mountainsides).

This year I was watching the satellite tracking for the Highland Trail 550 and being particularly impressed by MiniPips ie Rich and Tom (who is 10). Their collection of blog posts is here and their video is here:

Both HT550 and WildcatGear were providing a twitter commentary and lots of us were particularly inspired by the determination of Jenny Graham (now on twitter). In particular it took her some 23 hours to find a way across one river.


Afterwards she said that the first time she had tried to cross it was going to be over chest deep, in the end she managed to cross where it was “only” high thigh deep.

Given the suffering of these strong, determined, fit people the fact it inspired me to enter a 200km self supported bikepacking event with a requirement that I take less than 36 hours is something of a mystery to me.

Of course at the moment I have lots of ideas about how I am going to train for this. Training that particularly needs to include pushing a loaded bike up big hills through bogs. What the reality will be is probably very different which is something to worry about until October 10th.

Anyway it will be a good opportunity to really use my new boots (see yesterday’s blog post) 🙂


Longer day ride to Watford

So by the time you read this I’ll be off on a longer day ride. We are visiting family in Watford and Jane can’t leave until the afternoon. So I’m going to ride there (or at least most of the way). Could be upto about a 100 mile ride if I feel strong enough.

A nice try out for my Whyte with it’s repaired wheel and for some of the new clothing (gloves plus leg and arm warmers).

Pleased to see that I’m getting a bit better at taking less. Still far more than could fit in jersey pockets but it just fits inside a small Bridge Street Saddlebag which will be the only bag I will be carrying.

I’ll be on the satellite tracker if you are bored 🙂

Hoping that this will continue the weight loss, if so I’m going to need to add an extra hole in my belt soon 🙂


Sedbergh Sportiv (my first sportiv!)

Today I completed my first ever Sportiv 🙂 The 55 mile Sedbergh Sportiv.

We drove up to Dent yesterday evening because Ann and Paul had invited us to stay in their caravan which made things much easier. The last time I went to Dent was nearly 32 years ago when I walked the Dales Way from Ilkley to Windermere. Mind you I don’t think much has changed since then.

So it was an early start to get to Sedbergh for about 8am. Good coffee and pastries available at the start 🙂 Full mass start of around 110 riders doing a choice of 30, 55 or 70 miles.

The first 10 miles were basically all climbing and went smoothly, then things went a bit pear shaped. First, our food and drink station wasn’t there at 10 miles (where the 70 mile route split off). Then we split up a bit which meant Jane and I failed to notice Paul having a mechanical problem. His 10 speed chain broke, when repaired it broke again and took his rear derailleur out. That is a bit of a heads up for me because I’ve realised that I don’t have the tools or parts for my own 10 speed chain. Will have to sort that out.

So Paul was now in the broom wagon, Ann had got rather cold while they were trying to sort Paul’s bike out but joined Jane and I and we made good speed to the 2nd food point, which did exist and had some very excellent flapjack (made that morning by Sedbergh school).

The next section was the 55 milers on their own, the three of us being closely followed by our very own broom wagon. This was also the part of the route that combined the steepest and longest climbs with a vicious headwind. Both Ann and Jane were forced to walk up some sections. In the end a painful tendon meant Ann joined Paul in the minibus (being Ann she hadn’t complained at all about the toe that she broke last weekend).

Jane and I plodded onward. We thought it was going to get easier when we joined the 70 mile riders on a flatter bit off road at the very top of the world. However, it still went up and the wind was howling against us, so our speed dropped to barely measurable. Fortunately, that was followed by a nice downhill to Orton where there was an extra unscheduled drink and food stop which was very welcome. Jane added an extra, extra layer to look like a Michelin advert which rather restricted her movements 🙂 We continued to plod on, occasionally overtaken by 70 mile route riders.

When we got to Ravenstonedale at just over 40 miles Jane was clearly struggling and then she got severe cramp. Our team of four were down to just one – me. I was determined to escape our team boom wagon, so while they were sorting out how to fit a 3rd bike into the minibus I sprinted off down the road.

For a long time everyone had been saying it was all downhill from Ravenstonedale. They were lying! Not only were there uphill sections but the wind was funneling up the valley stronger than ever so I had to pedal hard even on the steeper downhill sections. I did manage to overtake a few people and finished in an official time of around 5 hours 55 minutes.

At the end there was a good spread of burgers, sausages etc as well as drinks. Plus excellent showers 🙂

Obviously, the broom wagon came in after all the riders and so we were among the last to leave. But we have had a smooth journey home with a meal at Frankie and Benny’s in Uttoxeter on the way. As always our Citroen Berlingo Multispace is very suited to these kinds of events. It takes about 2 minutes to put 2 bikes securely inside which is far easier (and cheaper in fuel) than any rack.

Here is the ride:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
05:55:21 05:12:25 55.70 10.70 29.75 3,710.63
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.



I am learning to cope with hills

Today was quite a hilly ride from Launde Abbey to Oakham and back (1,472 feet climbing in 12.1 miles) on my Bullitt Cargobike. It was also very windy with a headwind all the way back. I have done the ride many times before in the 8 years I have been coming to Launde Abbey for our District Retreat, but only once before on my cargobike (and that was before I had the cargobox).

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:18:47 01:23:34 12.06 8.66 45.63 1,473.10
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

While I am still not very fast:-) I think I have made a lot of progress since I wrote Getting defeatist me up hills for years ago. I’m not sure I’m a lot fitter and the weight I was hoping to lose at the time didn’t stay off, so I am a similar weight now.

However, mentally I think I have made progress when it comes to climbing hills. I don’t panic that I won’t get to the top. I am able to relax into plodding up for however long it takes and if I get off to walk it is no longer the end of the world (although I didn’t have to walk at all today). I can now look ahead and see the top in the distance without that frightening me.

My limited amount of running (my first 5k since May yesterday) does seem to help, especially when it comes to standing on the pedals when you can no longer spin in 1st gear.

All this has been without specialised, dedicated and committed training. Events like the Ford Fiesta help, but generally I think it is the combination of just riding for transport and adding longer rides into the mix. Learning to relax and not get so stressed also helps and part of that is knowing that I and the bike are reliable and so it does not matter if things take a bit longer.

Oh and two other points about today’s ride.

a) I wasn’t wearing any cycling specific clothing. T-shirt, light fleece and Acclimatise Fleece, normal casual trousers, trainers.

b) I’m not too tired after. Ready for an evening session on the retreat.

Neither of these would have been true 4 years ago.


Hospital visiting is a great excuse :-)

Sadly this week when we discussed who was in hospital at our staff meeting it turned out we had four church members in hospital, in four different hospitals. So this afternoon I got a lovely ride out to Melton Mowbray to visit E in the tiny (one ward) hospital there.

They actually had the best bike rack of any of the local hospitals, but mine was the only bike in it. Given what a horrible place Melton Mowbray is to cycle through I’m not surprised. It is a good example of Leicestershire’s approach which is to randomly assign footways as shared use without any thought about their suitability, the convenience or safety of cyclists (or pedestrians) – all to benefit King Car.

Apart from the bit inside Melton Moybray (“The Rural Capital of Food”!) the rest of the route is very pleasant  so I couldn’t resist a slight detour on the way home 🙂

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:50:06 02:00:26 27.28 13.59 30.20 1,131.89
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.



Monday inspired by Steve Abraham

So I’m feeling inspired by the amazing Steve Abraham. On 1st January he started a One Year Time Trial to break the record, held by Tommy Goodwin since 1939, for the longest distance cycled in a year. So far he has done over 1,000 miles!
My response is much smaller, but it is leading to me choosing slightly longer routes to/from meetings etc when I can. Hence, a slightly odd route back from Birstall this morning.

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
03:34:12 00:47:16 10.21 12.96 27.29 892.39
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

I also like this new Strava feature where you get awards for the fastest segments (short bits of road) this year. Tempting to find bits of road nobody else has ridden yet this year 🙂

Anyway, I guess my target this year is to reach more than 5% of Steve’s miles which is still going to be more than I did last year.


Practical combinations that only a bike can facilitate

Some Christmas traditions appear to have been lost. This year nobody bought me any socks or toiletries. Although remembering the choices of some, now long departed, Aunts maybe this is not all bad.

So I needed to get both some new socks and some shower gel and shaving cream. Plus I’m trying to lose a few mince pie remnants from my middle.

The practical answer was to wait for the rain to stop and then cycle to Next at Thurmaston Shopping Centre for some socks. Nice and quick with the only delay being all the cars circling the car park looking for a space and not looking for anyone else at all. Unlike those car drivers I was able to find a space to park, under cover, less than 20 yards from the shop entrance. I guess that by the time I got back to my bike with my socks some of them were still trying to park or taking their life into the hands of others as they walked across the car park danger zone towards the shop.

Anyway, for me onwards. I continued into Leicester along the Melton Road/Belgrave Road. I apologise for the frustration is causes car drivers when they are holding each other up and I carefully nip past them. Some take that as a challenge and with lots of revving engines scream past me, only to slam their brakes on again at the next lights or turning car. What they forget is that even if they get ahead of me I’ll more than make up for it as I’m allowed to cycle right up to the shop I’m visiting. In fact I lock my bike up about 3 small shops away from Lush and go straight in. Meanwhile all those car drivers will still, at best, be walking out of the car park at least 1/2 mile from the shop.

It did amuse me in Lush when the lady at the til said “Oh you must really like our ‘Dirty’ products”. Not especially but I don’t like the smell of strawberries enough to shave in them and you have very few ranges of products for men – no maybe not very few, maybe only one ie the aforementioned ‘Dirty’. Still the products are made in the UK, are made by a company that does not try to avoid UK taxes and are made without animal testing. Always good when the money I spend can be recycled around our own economy generating jobs and income so that we can fund our NHS etc.

From Lush I decided to get a little exercise so I came home via

  • a quick look at Jubilee Square (yes I do hate the name, wish it had been named after something local or worthy). The long queue of cars did seem to mean that it is fairly traffic calmed at the minute, although one taxi seemed to be on a tour of the pedestrian areas of the square by driving around the new monument thingy.
  • the new cycle track crossing of the Southgates slip road at St Nicholas Circle. The post with the toucan button and indicator is appallingly positioned for cyclists coming from Jubilee Square and heading for DMU (or vica versa)


  • A quick flypast Jane’s site. See Planning Permission At Last
  • I then tested the shared use cycle facility along Bennion Road. It has been “finished” for months and yet there is still not a single sign to show that it is shared use.

My rather roundabout route was:

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:45:11 01:25:27 17.48 12.27 33.78 652.89
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

By the time I got home the temperature was just below freezing and my feet in old trainers were just starting to notice it, although overall nice and comfy.

Total elapsed time was 1 hour 45 minutes and I’ll bet that with just the two shopping stops it would have been hard to better that much by car – and there would have been all that expense of fuel, parking as well as the running costs of the car.


Stuck in the mud

I’m confident that now I have reached a certain age of supposed maturity the idea of being “a stuck in the mud” might seem appropriate. Tonight, however, in my “training” for the Ford Fiesta Winter Event it became literally true.

Someone had recommended that rather than using winter cycling boots that clip to the bike pedal it would be more sensible to wear walking boots due to increased waterproofness, warmth and ease of walking the bits that are impossible to ride.

So I put flat pedals on my Bike for Life and my lightweight hiking boots and set out.

Here is the route

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:19:58 01:07:50 11.92 10.54 20.13 374.02
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

The problem was at about 3.8 miles, soon after leaving the junction of Ridgemere Lane and Syston Rd onto the bridleway into the wood. I found myself getting slower and slower with my back wheel spinning. When I stopped I found I couldn’t even push my bike because the front wheel was locked by a huge clump of mud just behind the front fork. In the end over just a few hundred yards I had to unblock both my front and rear wheels several times each by knocking these huge clumps of mud off.

For the most part the mud wasn’t that sloppy so it just stuck to the tyres and got carried round on them until it couldn’t fit through the seat stay or front fork.

At least I now have a little test track for any bike people claim will ride through mud better than mine 🙂 I wonder what sorts of bikes I would have been able to ride through it.

I do wonder if a slightly wider tyre would have helped sink in less and carry less mud around (eg a Schwalbe Smart Sam 47-622 which would fit my frame) or would the smaller gaps around the tyre have clogged even quicker.

Is this an argument for a 29+? That is a newish standard which is essentially a 29er mountain bike with space for 3″ tyres rather than the usual maximum of about 2.4″. In other words it would be the same size wheel as I have now but the wheel rim would be up to 50mm (ie about twice as wide) and instead of a 40mm diameter tyre it would be 75mm.

I guess a fat bike could get through mud like that with it’s even wider floatation tyres (26″ wheels with up to 5.8″ tyres), but that would have been much less fun on the rest of the 12 mile ride. Maybe a 29+ would be nearly as nice on the road bits while being able to cope with the deep clingy mud.

Or maybe I’d have to walk it and in places have to carry my bike again whatever I was riding? In which case I’m best off with what I have.

One thing is sure, I was glad I didn’t have a chain and dérailleur to clean and oil when I got home!

Some bad photos of the dirty bike after the ride (yes I have cleaned it now):

First is not the bike but the boots I was wearing:








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