Sunday, 27 November 2011

What a few Weeks...

Indeed it has been.  I started this month feeling as rough as a cats tongue and cried off work at midday on the first Tuesday of the month. Later the same day we noticed that the smaller of our twins had an unquenchable thirst and decided that my other half would take her to the doctors on Wednesday.
On Wednesday I tried to go back into work only to give it up as a bad job again and accept that I had a stinker and get to bed.  My horizontal dozing on the sofa was disturbed by a phone call from my other half telling me that the little one had been diagnosed with type one diabetes and needed to be in hospital with her mum for a couple of days at least.

Her blood sugar level was 48 when it should be between 4 and 7.  After pulling her sister out of school for the rest of the week I then spent the rest of the week visiting her and mum in the delightful University Hospital in Coventry.

Thankfully she reacted well to insulin and was released on the Saturday and the rest of the month has been sent with her, her sister and us adjusting to the new circumstances with much help from our family and the superb diabetes nurses from the hospital, whom I cannot praise too much.

We sent her sister back to school after a week and the little one went back a week after that once the school was up to speed on her needs, which are four daily insulin injections for the rest of her life.  The school have also been brilliant and five teachers volunteered to inject her in lunchtimes once we have trained them how to do it properly.

To say it's been a steep learning curve is an understatement, she has taken it all in her stride and her sister has been looking out for her, but we've all been in a bit of shell shock as a family, I think is the only way to describe it, and are only now seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

To say the "bad times" have had an adverse affect on my weight loss is an understatement. In a time of crisis I have, rather annoyingly, even to myself, turned to my constant crutch of food.  The only redeeming thing is that at least my exercise has continued to some extent, I am now on week three of the NHS Couch to 5k podcast series and am now once again committed to sorting myself out for good.

As part of the diabetes information we received were a couple of iPhone apps which included a BMI tracker and diabetes assessment tool which, when I plumbed my numbers in gave me a one in three chance of developing type two in the next five years. Did I not like those odds, and am now determined to beat this for not only my, but the kids sake.

It's just not fair to be gambling with their futures as well as mine, and what kind of example am I setting for them. So...

Tomorrow sees the start of a regular five day per week exercise regime, what type I don't care as long as it's at least and hour and of sufficient an intensity to burn 3500 calories a week, to guarantee a weight loss of some description given that both my partner and myself have committed to a healthier diet from here on in.

Apologies for the rambling nature of the post, it was written over a number of days, straight from the top of my head.

I've just weighed in for the start of the rest of my life at 18st 10lb, that number rings a bell from somewhere.  At least I've managed to see the error of my ways before it went higher still.  Would I say the last few months have been wasted? Probably, but what is it they say?

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

It's Been A While...

It certainly has been a while since my last post, and believe it or not, not much has changed.

Well that's not strictly correct, I've recently booked myself a visit to Spain to see my brother and his family in February, unfortunately I'm having to go on my Todd and abandon the family to fend for themselves for a week, more on this later in the post.

Exercise is still going sporadically unfortunately, with the girls having started school they are bringing home all sorts of new diseases which I've developed a great ability to catch.  It seems like months since I didn't have some kind of chest infection, I'm amazed there are any antibiotics left in the NHS the amount I've got through in the last few months.

These constant chest problems have unfortunately curtailed my attempts to lose any weight through exercise and the constant feeling of "illness" for want of a better word leave me constantly starving.  I have however been keeping a lid on the eating and haven't gained too much weight, just annoyingly haven't lost any either.

On the plus side I am now over 150 reps bi-daily on the press ups and have developed a decent set of pecs (granted underneath my fatty man boobs), that I would never have expected.  My triceps and shoulders have also developed to the extent that my biceps now look puny and I've started some low weight high rep dumbbell work to address the problem.  Check me out a regular Arnie, not!  My sit ups are now in the 60's per session, so all is not completely negative on the exercise front.

Back to the planned trip to Spain in February, I've calculated that, assuming I can kick this bloody infection by the end of this week, I've got exactly 100 days to shift as much weight as possible before I see my niece on February 7th next year. 

To that end I've got me a new cycling, gym and running regime planned to shift some long overdue poundage come hell or high water. I'm going to aim high and try and get down to as close to 15 stone (210lbs) as I possibly can, not a ridiculous amount but, given my last three months effort, challenge enough.

I don't think it right being such a motor sport and particularly bike fan as I am to close without mentioning the horrific events at the weekend that led to the death of the truly remarkable Marco Simoncelli.

My favourite rider since the swashbuckling Valentino Rossi first came on the scene, Marco has single handedly reinvigorated what was becoming a very bland Moto GP paddock with his aggressive, flamboyant and yet no nonsense style.

A great loss to the sport, his fans, and of course his family, I amongst many, many more will miss him like one of my own friends. Respects most heartfelt to all who will miss him.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Body and Mind...

This week has finally seen me back on track with a positive weight loss of 1lb. That makes three weeks of dedication to correct five days of stupidity last month.  That is a mistake I'm not going to make again in a hurry.

Getting on the bike is still a problem because we're all still adjusting to the new school and work routines at home. This week coming I'm going to make a concerted effort to get two or three good rides in, be they on the road or in the gym.

On a positive note, the press ups have now moved through the 100 reps every other day level and yesterday I did my first 50 consecutive reps which felt good considering where I started from.

By way of celebration I've started the sit up program on the iPhone from the same app provider.  In my initial test I banged out what I thought was an impressive 40 consecutive reps (British Army style, full sit ups, hands on chest). Considering I couldn't get to 10 arm assisted when I started the press ups, I think it's safe to say my abs have also benefited from the press ups which is great.

My calorie intake for the week has been consistently around the 1800 per day mark with good nutritional variety and today marks the 20th day of what I keep calling my "Xth day sober". I'm determined to go for at least 30 days without my Achilles heel, although I'm not counting any eggs yet.

Much of my reinvigorated attitude is down to my having rediscovered something that I used to do regularly when I was at university, but have not practiced since leaving, namely Buddhist meditation.

Try not to yawn and call me a hippy, and trust me, this blog is not going to get all religious or dogmatic, but I've been meditating on the breath for only 20 minutes a day for the last few weeks and reading a few of my old teachings and I have to be honest and say it's  had a massive positive effect, not only in my focus towards the weight loss and fitness, but also to my whole outlook in general.

Long may that continue methinks.

This weekend sees the third task on my "List of Fun" jobs to do around the house. Sunday will see me tackle what the girls call "Daddy's messy room", and I call the spare bedroom/Mrs's dumping ground.  It's a hard job but someone's got to do it.

First though I've got to get through a dinner party at some very good friends tomorrow night, let's see if I can make it to 21 days shall we?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Back To Where We Were...

Well after another week of sensible eating and little else unfortunately I'm finally back down to 17st 8lb where I was prior to the whole blowout (in both senses of the word) debacle.

Unfortunately, I didn't get my promised Sunday ride in, the amount of rubbish I needed to shift to the tip was woefully underestimated but, on the plus side, I now don't have to look at it every time I come in the back door.  One job down, about twenty to go.

This weekend sees me tackling the overcrowded landing which will undoubtedly involve many more trips to the recycling shop and tip, next week will be the big one, the attic, Dun Dun Durr!  The amount of junk up there is phenomenal and I have no intention of going another year with that amount of weight on the less than convincing joists up there.

On the cycling front I'm becoming a little frustrated at the lack of opportunities presenting themselves for a ride at the moment.  With the uhts now full time at school and after school activities three days a week only Sunday is really available to do anything and at the moment that is sort out the house with a view to moving across town in the near future.

At least the pressups are coming on well.  My bi-daily reps are now in the seventies and my max reps score is well into the thirties.  The muscle mass increase that has resulted from lifting my 18 odd stone 70 times a day has resulted in an actual chest developing nicely, to slowly replace my convex version that I had prior to the training.

I'm very tempted to start a British Army exercise programme I was given by a distant friend (and ex-squaddie I'm led to believe) over the winter period, to keep up the weight loss/fitness push. My theory is that you can't really bike at night (the only time I have free) but you can certainly run or circuit train. Plus if it's good enough for the armed forces then it's certainly good enough for me.

It's a progressive programme over a number of months.  I'll post a link to it in a later post once I get everything into a google spreadsheet if anyone's interested out there.

Back to the biking, this Saturday I am finally going to be able to get a decent pedal in thanks to my other half taking the kids to a birthday party so let's try again. Cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

What a Week...

This week has been busy, busy, busy. 

The twins started "Big Girls School" on Monday and are loving it.

We were well prepared for everything logistically but one thing we didn't fully appreciate was the instant and complete change in their behaviour that would happen overnight. It really is amazing what being tired and grouchy will do to a 4 year old girl.

Five full days of school and three days of after school activities (gymnastics, dance and swimming classes) had left them pretty spent by today, and adding in the chest cold we've all caught, has left us with one cry at the drop of a hatter and one Satan incarnate for the weekend.

What with the school runs and a very busy week at work, I haven't been on the bike once so far this week.

I have promised myself at least a 20 miler tomorrow (hopefully closer to 30) but I'm not going to hold my breath.

My other half works on Sundays and I've promised to clear out the cubby hole between our kitchen and bathroom (both downstairs) which has been slowly filling with my junk (paint, tools, containers, bike stuff, etc) that should either be in the shed or the bin.

I feel a number of runs to the tip coming on, I just hope there's enough time to get a ride in.

On the plus side my diet this last week has been steady and at the right calories with no binging, drinking or alike. Long may it continue. I haven't done a re-weigh in yet but will do next week.

Who'd have thought it, my little girls at school, whatever next... it doesn't even bare thinking about.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Easng My Way Back In...

I've been slowly taking my time to get back into the swing of things following the shoulder problem.

The weekend brought a 1000m swim and a 10 mile outing on the MTB on my usual loop.

This week I've done two further 10 milers and no gym sessions, I know from past mistakes that pounding back at it is the perfect recipe to re-tear my shoulder so for once in my life I'm taking it easy and easing my way back into it all.

Further good news on the press ups front, today I did the next "to exhaustion" test and I'm up to 34 reps, so I'm chuffed with that considering the weight I'm heaving up each time. My bi-daily sessions are now up into the 60-70 reps zone and considering I was at 6 max just a few weeks ago, it's cause for a mini celebration, my next big target is 50 maximum reps, bring it on.

If only the weight loss were so straight forward, speaking of which, I forgot to mention my weight as of last Thursday's weigh in. I was up three pounds, so by no means as bad as I was expecting.

I'm not going to decrease the weight lost total on the page because I fully intend to be back down where I was within a week or two, if not, then I'll change it.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ahh, That's Better...

Today I did my first ride for too long, just an easy 10 miler on my mountain bike, the usual Cathorpe - Lilbourne loop. Being my first venture out since my lucky escape I thought I'd take it easy and enjoy every minute, and I certainly did.

I don't know my time or calories burnt because I have geniusly managed to lose my Polar CS200 unit and couldn't therefore get any stats. I know I'll find it somewhere completely random after the girls have "helped daddy to tidy up".

To be honest I'm glad I didn't have it with me. They (HRMs) only serve to spur you to go faster and in the right zones, and today that's not what I needed, which was a nice bimble over familiar territory to make sure my nerve was okay, which it certainly is.

Yesterday I went to the gym and did a 10 mile bike, 1 mile cross train and a 500m swim, again without HRM or a care in the world.

These two days have been to get me enjoying the exercise and to get the bug back.  They have certainly served their purpose.

Today saw me bi-daily pressup exercise reach above 50 reps for the first time (split into 5 sets of varying reps), another nice milestone reached. If you'd have told me I'd be banging out 50 reps a day when I posted my 6 maximum on day one I'd have told you to dream on, it really is amazing just how adaptable the old body can still be.

As I write this the fantastic aroma of the beef stew I've cooked for tonight's dinner is wafting up the stairs making me drool.

Is it just me or do hotpots make Autumn seem all the more real already?

Monday, 29 August 2011

Apologies For The Lack of Posts

Apologies to anyone who visits my ramblings regularly for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks.

I have to admit to having had a bit of a lull in activity since the high speed blow out at the start of this month. This, coupled with an annoying recurring shoulder problem, has left me feeling a little flat on all fronts.

Thankfully, this week brought a number of positives on many fronts that have lifted my spirits and conviction somewhat.

Firstly when I collected the extremely buckled (and broken spoked) wheel from my local bike shop on Thursday they had done a superb job. I gave the old Claud Butler Olympus a thorough cleaning and got it all ready for road action after a good 12 months of inactivity, and they only charged me £12.50 to boot for a top notch job that saved me at least £60 had I needed to replace the wheel like for like, top banana!

Secondly, this weekend we took the girls for a long weekend at my parents static caravan in the valleys of Wales at Cerrigydrudion, near Corwen. The change in scenery, coupled with the very high number of cyclists, much older and fitter than myself I saw over the three days, have had a very noticeable positive effect on my own determination to get back in the saddle.

Thirdly, despite my inactivity and somewhat dubious diet of the last couple of weeks, I have at least kept up the 100 pressups programme I started a couple of weeks ago, Today I did the second of four benchmark tests throughout the program resulting in an increase from a paltry 6 reps maximum on day one to 23 reps today (a third of the way through the program).

Whilst still not ideal, it is ahead of where the program expects me to be and I am quite chuffed. Even when I was a lot lighter and properly fit in the dim and distant past, I never really had any upper body strength and I seem to remember 30 being the most I could ever pressup, so I'm chuffed. 

To top it off I have seen a decent increase in muscle mass on the upper part of my chest and in my lats resulting in a noticeable change in overall shape which I should benefit from when I get some of this bulk off.

Finally, and most importantly from a physical point of view, I am at last pain free in my shoulder and back and feel confident to get back to not only cycling, but to a more rounded aerobic program in the gym.  As a result I have booked an extra day off on Wednesday this week so that I can get a ride in tomorrow and then a really good gym session on Wednesday to get me up and running again.

Sufficed to say my weight has gone up over the two weeks of inactivity, probably quite considerably given the atrocious diet of the last week, but I am not going to let this get me down and will not weigh in "officially" until Thursday of this week to give my two exercise sessions chance to burn off some of the excess calories and a couple of days of sensible eating to get me back to a more stable level of intake.

If nothing else, this two week hiccup has certainly opened my eyes to the way in which I default to a "self destructive" path when things go badly. With a bit of luck, if it starts to happen again, I might see it coming with my food and exercise journals to look back on.

I'd also like to say thanks for the positive comments from Clive and Mark, they are very much appreciated and it is a great comfort to know there are others out there in a similar boat, cheers both.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

At Last Some Progress Back To The Road...

Today I took the buckled mavic rear from my off roader (a Claud Butler Olympus) into my local bike shop. They didn't look too positive that they could straighten it out, it has a pretty severe buckle, but said they'd give it a go and let me know by Thursday.

So, with a bit of luck, I'll be back out on the road by the end of next week, fingers crossed.

In the mean time I'm sticking with the 100 pressups app and am up to 4x5 reps and then to failure. I would have progressed further but for that pesky shoulder that is really persisting this time, as it always seems to every time it goes.  There has at least been slow progress on that front though, so I'll be soon back in the gym and pool.

I have already noticed from only a weeks pressup activity that there is a noticeable increase in muscle tone and mass in my upper arms and chest which is at least proof that I'm doing the exercises right during what has been a difficult week.

Food continues to be my battleground as always, and I have to admit that the frustration of not being able to exercise as I'd like has had a vicious circle effect as always.

It's bizarre that even though I can fully rationalise the frustration, the years of emotional programming still kick in despite my best efforts. I suppose it really is a baby steps situation on that front, one day at a time I suppose.

Tomorrow's a new start and all that.

Speaking of which, tomorrow we take the girls to a fully working miniature railway with ride on trains, I don't know who's more excited, them or me. It's the same place my parents used to take me when I was a kid. It'll be very interesting to see it from the other side for the first time.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

My Poor Feeble Arms

A short one today.

After the pressups yesterday I only have partial use of my arms and abs!

The training itself went well, although at this early stage we are talking paltry numbers.

I smashed my baseline figure of 6 with a mind spinning to failure total of 7. Check me out.

Today the reps rise for the first time to the dizzying height of 4x4 and then to failure.

Tonight I also start the situps program.

Climb on.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I'm In The Apps

No more gym workouts yet thanks to the continuing pain in my shoulder which flared up again after the weekend's activities.

As a result I spent the evening yesterday searching the apposphere for some core building apps to start building up my weakest areas, namely my stomach, arms, and chest.

I settled on an initial two apps for the iPhone by Software X Ltd, 100 pushups and 200 situps. Both take a baseline and then devise programs over six week cycles to build your strength.

Yesterday night was therefore baseline night. I approached the tests with proper form just to see how poor my strength was in these areas and the answer was very.

I managed an embarrassing 20 crunch like situps and a shockingly low 6 pushups.

With these paltry numbers still aching in my core this morning, I look forward to this evening's sessions as the first baby steps towards three digit numbers to come.
Wish me luck, on this one I think I'll need it.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Back in The Gym

I woke up this morning actually looking forward to hitting the gym, how sad am I getting.

I did bike, cross trainer and a swim again, upping my swim distance today and felt great for it, so much so that I got got back home and decided to take the girls over to Ryton Pools Country Park near Leamington, it's a great little country park and the girls love the climbing frames and feeding the ducks, swans and moorhens.

There were two added bonuses, one I too had a lovely time as well, and two, I got a couple of miles walk in and they all help.

We finished off with lunch and an ice cream for the little ones at the picnic tables and came home to all have a nap. A top day all round.

Bike: 10 miles
Cross Trainer: 30 minutes
Swim: 500m crawl, 500m breast stroke
Total Cals:1570

Thursday, 11 August 2011

That Was Pleasantly Unexpected

Well, my continuing aches and pains mean no exercise to report since Tuesday.

Swimming seems to have aggravated my old shoulder injury, originally sustained playing rugby, as are all of my others. The result is very little movement without considerable pain and a very fitful and uncomfortable sleep.

I'm going to give it until Saturday to recover a bit and then get back in the gym. I'll give the swimming a bit longer though I think.

A very unexpected and welcome surprise this morning, I was tempted to climb onto the scales and received the great news that I'm down to 17st 8lbs, another pound bites the dust.

The only reason I can see for the loss is that I've really got on top of my diet since downloading the imapmyfitness app for my Android phone.

The app contains a nutrition and burn calculator which let's you balance your calorie deficit for weight loss or maintenance. It's also got a very comprehensive food database.

It's not that I don't know how to do all of this stuff anyway, I just think it helps to have all of those things in one place.

Whatever the reason, the unexpected weight loss is very welcome given last weeks excesses and puts my mind at rest on that front.

Heal shoulder heal, I'm chomping at the bit.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Gymtastic Baby!

Ooh, that feels so much better.
I went to the gym last night and did a ride and swim and was back in there early doors this morning for a ride, cross train and swim.
As with all new exercise, I am now left achy but exhilarated and can't wait to get back in there tomorrow.
I'll certainly be sticking with it for the next few weeks until the cash is there for a bike mend.
Unfortunately, the gym has changed all of their equipment since I last went and my HRM no longer works with their kit, so I went back to the trusty Aldi 15 quider for these figures and will stick with it. Such a great bit of kit for such a low price.
Bike: 10 miles
Swim: 20 mins crawl
Total Cals: 990

Bike - 10 miles
Cross trainer - 1.2 miles
Swim - 20 mins crawl
Total Cals: 1390

Monday, 8 August 2011

All Set For Exercise 2.0

After the bumps and bruises of last week, today I get back on the horse refreshed.

All of my cuts are healed to an extent and the aches and pains are now much better than they were. Today I bring on the gym.

Because of my (somewhat expected) diet slippage over the self imposed "week off ", I've decided against a weigh in today. The last thing I need to start the week is a negative weigh in, so I've delayed it until next week after a week of pounding it in the gym.

To that effect I've downloaded a couple of apps for the iPhone that seem to be pretty good, Pedometer by Max CA Apps at a stunning 69p and iMapMyFitness by at £1.49, the latter of which comes bundled with a whole load of fitness and nutrition tools online to help in your fitness quest.

They both look good, particularly the iMapMyFitness which, if it's anything like the mapmyride software I've used in the past, will be very useful, we'll just have to wait and see.

Tonight I hit the gym for a bit of stationary bike followed by a swim. After a few days of lethargy, I have to admit I've been going a little stir crazy wanting to get in there earlier but, unlike my usual self, I've made sure I gave myself time to properly heal for once, before diving back into it.

I'l see you on the other side tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The August 500 is Officially Off...

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts for the last few days, it's been a bit hectic at work and home and I haven't much felt like it to be honest.

On the biking front, there hasn't been any at all since Tuesday due to the worst single day I've ever had on the bike. The day started well enough, my new HTC Desire S phone arrived, and incidentally is fantastic, more on that another day. My plan was wait in for the phone's arrival and then to do a 50 miler to Banbury and back.

All went well on the ride and I was keeping good time until the start of the return leg.  When I got onto the A361 back to Daventry, I found that the whole road was closed (not mentioned on any traffic feeds I follow) and that the diversion took me off into the sticks. Because I didn't have the iPhone (which following this I will no longer be selling) with me to do some route remapping, I decided that the A43 to Towcester and then back up the A5 would be my only option.

Again all was well on the A43, it's a busy dual carriageway, but it does at least have an official cycle lane, or at least it has most of one.  Whilst doing 35mph downhill I went to cross an on ramp via the marked out cycle area, only to spot too late that the cycle lane crossing point had a massive turfed up pothole in the chevroned area.

Lo and behold, two metallic thuds and one bang later I was doing 35mph on one tyre and an aluminum rim. I managed to slow to about 25mph before the speed wobble got really scary, luckily I still had enough control to aim roughly at the grass verge where I promptly abandoned the bike.  Unbelievably I only got a few cuts and scrapes to my lower limbs and a bruised right thumb (which is now very sore).

The bike didn't fare so well. The front wheel was badly scraped and a little buckled. The tyre was a write off, as I fear will be the left pedal when I have a look at it over the weekend. After what I can genuinely say was the scariest 30 seconds of my life, and I've done some stupid things in my time, I set about fitting a new inner tube and continued on towards Towcester at a snails pace.

I managed to get to 6 miles south of Weedon (about 15 miles from home) before the wheel cut into the new tube leaving me stranded in the sticks. Upon closer inspection the inner surface of the wheel has a number of sharp inward facing scratches that must have put paid to the new tube.

I walked for about 5 miles (over an hour) before I realized that the sun was really burning my arms, and promptly gave up and called the Mrs to pick me up.

As I sit here now a full two days later, the sunburn which has developed is still stinging like a bitch and my arms are red raw, much to the amusement of my work colleagues and my Mrs, thanks love.

The sum result of my supposedly relaxing Tuesday is two very sore arms, one sore thumb, two cut and bruised legs, one very bruised arse, two knackered tyres, one knacked wheel, one knacked saddle, two knackered mudguards, one knackered pedal, and one very bruised ego.

The total cost of repairs I'd put at about 150 to 200 quid which, in a month in which I am skintos means the August 500 is going to have to become the September 500 once I've got the spare cash to do the repairs.

In the mean time, I've decided that spin and exercise biking, cross training, and swimming at my local Virgin Active is the way forward this month. Once my burns, aches, pains and cuts calm down a bit that is. Until then I have officially given myself this week off of my fitness and weight loss routine.

I will climb back on the proverbial bike on Sunday with a nice relaxing day at the gym, until then I'll just concentrate on my calories and take it easy like the old man I feel like!

For what it's worth...

Ride Stats:
Distance: 49.89 miles
Average Speed: 14.4 mph
Average HR: 149pm
Max HR: 181bpm
Cals Burnt:4985 including the walk!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Another lb Bites The Dust

A lie in this morning... aah. 

I thought after 31 days without a day off for the legs today I would treat myself to a 7.30am rise and it felt good.

After Saturday's tumble the bruises are starting to come out now and I am "proper" achy as they say in these parts, so I think the day off was a good idea.

I've ordered an upgrade of my mobile phone that's due to arrive tomorrow, so I took the opportunity to book the day off work and will get in a nice long ride once the phone's arrived. I think I'm going to have a stab at the 45ish mile route from the Rugby Bikeathon (mental note, take fluids with you).

Today's weigh in delivered another pound lost, not great I know given my mileage, but considering the amount of protein consumed at Saturday's barbecue, very welcome and another baby step in the right direction.

Bring on the August 500!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Badge of (Dis)Honour

Apologies for no post yesterday, we had a family get together to celebrate the birthday of one of my in laws that ended up lasting all day and night.  Food consumption went well, alcohol consumption was not so good but not  overly excessive, I certainly wouldn't have classified myself as "pissed".  

The five mile walk home was good, and by the time I neared home, my head felt perfectly clear and I had actually enjoyed the unscheduled exercise. Cue a stupid accident.  Just as I was turning the corner into our road the Mrs rang and whilst trying to dig out my phone I missed my footing up a curb resulting in...

... it looked a lot worse at the time and blood was pouring out of one of the cuts. What a clutz!

It looks quite convincingly like road rash, so I'll be able to avoid the difficult questions that one would usually associate with a stupid injury, but of more concern is my left forearm which took pretty much my whole weight on the way down and is really aching today.  There's no visible damage and no "pain" as such, just the continual dull ache of muscle bruising.

On a lighter note, the last two rides of my 31 days of July went really well. Yesterday's meander was a ride I had done previously out to Birdingbury and back through Willoughby and Barby, which is one of my personal favourites. The weather was glorious, as were some of the views.

It's hay bailing time of year and this particular field drew my attention, now where's my easel and paints ? (not entirely a joke, I love painting in oils and don't get enough time for it since the kids). Sorry about the low quality of the image, I didn't realise the panoramic setting on my phone only takes at 320x240.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 26.95 miles
Average Speed: 14 mph
Average HR: 129pm
Max HR: 162bpm
Cals Burnt: 1638

Today I decided a 10 miler incorporating a trip back to the in laws to collect my keys was all that I'd attempt given the "road rash" situation.  It went really well and I was able to push relatively hard considering the pain.

My total miles for my first month back on the bike were 469, a nice total considering where I'm starting from. I am pleased with the way the fitness is coming on, however I constantly have to battle with myself over food intake. As aways, this is where my focus needs to be for the coming month.

The August 500 may well be out of reach, I've got four days in Wales with the family in the last week so I'll be needing to cram in the miles as much as possible early doors.  On the plus side, my other half said I can take the bike if I only do one ride whilst there, so the great climb that is the Horseshoe Pass is on the cards, more on that in later posts.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 10.44 miles
Average Speed: 13.2 mph
Average HR: 145pm
Max HR: 172bpm
Cals Burnt: 887

Friday, 29 July 2011

And Relax...

Today I will be taking it easy all day.

After last nights really tough ride I woke up this morning feeling tired and still do to be honest. With tomorrow's longer ride in mind (planning on 40 miles, legs dependent), I took this morning's outing easier than any other to date and treated it very much as a recovery ride.

It's amazing how much more you see when you're not concentrating on pushing/cycling form/being generally knackered. I had a proper Hamlet moment on the old 10 miler, looking at the views and wildlife.

I'm off to the local bike shop today for a new helmet and bar grips, my old ones came unraveled on yesterday's ride. Nothing too expensive on either front, just straight like for likes I think.

I'm taking the girls with me, it'll be their first ever bike shop outing and it's safe to say they're a little bit excited.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.89 miles
Average Speed: 12.2 mph
Average HR: 117pm
Max HR: 162bpm
Cals Burnt: 509

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Going For It

Today I did an evening ride again, and as it's getting towards the end of the month I thought I'd really push as hard as I could to see how fast I could actually do the 10 mile loop, if I gave it 100% all the way round.

The result was the hardest half hours exercise that I think I've ever done in my entire life. I got back absolutely exhausted and couldn't have gone any faster at any point. At one point on the final climb my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest and I just couldn't get enough air in without slowing down for a few metres, the first time that has happened since I re-started exercising.

As you can see below I knocked over two minutes off the time that I thought would stand for a while the other week and my average bpm was 155 over 10 miles, well into the threshold zone methinks.

The endorphin rush when I finished was phenomenal, and lasted for ages. It just shows you how much of it all is mental, I went out knowing I'd beat my old time and lo and behold, it got smashed. Bring on Augusts challenge.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.88 miles
Average Speed: 15.9 mph
Average HR: 155bpm
Max HR: 182bpm
Cals Burnt: 795

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Kamikase Mercedes...

Today I had my first taste of car drivers stupidity when dealing with cyclists since the campaign began.

At a T junction in the middle of nowhere, a woman driving a Mercedes stopped at the junction, looked both ways, looked directly into my eyes and then tried to floor it to jump out ahead of me. She promptly stalled and kangaroo kamikased it right into my path whilst I was close to 30 mph on a downhill, thanks love.

She received the obligatory hand slam on the side of the car and a gesture that I call the "Friends Fafonapoli" for anyone who's ever watched that episode. Just to top it off, not 200 yards down the road she promptly indicated right and pulled into the drive to her house.  To say I was tempted to stop and give her both barrels is an understatement, but thought better of it, basking in my self righteous indignation.

Other than this first foray into the world of cycle rage, today's 10 mile loop went well, at a steady but not pressing pace, I could still feel last nights hard 25er in my legs a bit.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.94 miles
Average Speed: 12.9 mph
Average HR: 126bpm
Max HR: 173bpm (probably as she pulled out)
Cals Burnt: 584

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Big Four Double Zero...

Did an evening ride today and it was really muggy, on the verge of a thunderstorm that never came all the way round, resulting in fantastic trailing winds on the way out and a killer headwind on the way in to get my heart rate racing.

As I mentioned yesterday, today I was trying to find a 25 mile route for next month. My finger in the wind technique resulted in the following which I think I'll use, although the first half is on a relatively busy road out to Southam.

Broadwell 25 Mile Loop

It turned out to be a really enjoyable route with a really varied terrain.  A fast downhill, two good climbs, a bit of countryside and an exposed flat section towards Willoughby, I really enjoyed it and because I needed to be back to read the girls a book at bedtime, pushed pretty hard and felt good.

This will definitely be one of the routes for the August 500, yes, after breaking 400 miles for this month today, I've now decided to go for the 500 miles in August, what's the worst that can happen, don't answer that, I saw those crashes in the tour, ouchy!

Ride Stats:
Distance: 24.60 miles
Average Speed: 14.6 mph
Average HR: 143bpm
Max HR: 169bpm
Cals Burnt: 1730

Monday, 25 July 2011

Thank God For That...

I've had some weight loss at last. Today's weigh in brought a 2lb loss. Not the best in the world, but by no means the worst. I'll take 2lbs in a week every week if it's on offer. Weight off is weight off and a success worth celebrating (without food).

This morning I did the 20 mile Daventry loop and thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven't done this one since my flat out effort last week, and the hill climbing was noticeably easier throughout the whole ride which is great.

Tomorrow I'm going to try and find a new 25 miler because I haven't got any mapped yet and this is the sort of distance I'll be looking to be doing on the August 400/500, whichever I decide to do.

At work this morning, it eventually dawned on me that the twins really are starting "Big Girls (Junior) School" in September. I had to request a change of hours to accommodate the school run, bringing it all into a focused reality at last.

Where did that four years go?

Ride Stats:
Distance: 20.66 miles
Average Speed: 14.0 mph
Average HR: 133bpm
Max HR: 173bpm
Cals Burnt: 1267

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Keeping Things Fresh

Today I thought I'd try to find a new 10 mile route to use. The one I've been using until now is perfectly good, and great to time my progress on, but there's only so many times the same view of countryside can keep you interested, and it would be a shame if my daily rides turned into part of the daily grind of working life.

As it turned out my guesstimate of 10 miles turned out to be pretty good resulting in:

Barby - Kilsby Loop

At just over 11 miles it's a nice ride for my lighter days and has a couple of good short sharp climbs to get the legs going and the heart pumping. All in all a bit more of a challenge than the usual "official" timed route I've been using.

Today's pedal went well, I didn't push anything or try particularly hard and still averaged well so all is going in the right direction in that department, let's just see what tomorrow's weigh in brings.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 11.14 miles
Average Speed: 13.1 mph
Average HR: 131bpm
Max HR: 173bpm
Cals Burnt: 701

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Chapeau Cadel!

What a great ride from Mr Evans to round off a thoroughly enjoyable Tour De France for 2011.  He rode to a game plan for the whole three weeks, pushing where he needed to and chasing down most of the mountainous breaks, a well deserved winner in my opinion.

On my front, today I was on the road at 5.30am. The BBC forecast promised early sun, it never materialised, and I was out in fog for the first hour and a half, most of the way to Market Harborough. I did a tough 38 mile route, mainly through Northants.

There were a few big climbs today, maybe one or two too many. I felt a bit drained by the finish, but I think that's more likely down to the fact that I once again geniusly left with no drinks, dumbass. No cracking though and the stats read quite favourably at the end.

Market Harborough - Naesby Loop

I've always been an admirer of Lance Armstrong, his achievements, story and equally his work outside of cycling with Livestrong, and as such I decided that my "If I get into that..." cycle gear should be the kit of one of his teams. I ummed and ahhed for a week or so and in the end ordered a US Postal shirt and shorts which arrived yesterday.

I couldn't find any originals anywhere and so went with Chinese imports with full zip and bib shorts. At about 50 quid all in and from an Amazon seller with good feedback I thought they were worth the gamble. It's paid off no end. The quality is really good, no dodgy stitching, decent materials and excellent print work, a right good bargain.

Now all I need to do is lose the four stone or so I need to fit into them properly.  Whether I do or not, I'll tell you something, the prospect didn't half make me push on harder when I was struggling a bit today.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 37.92 miles
Average Speed: 12.9 mph
Average HR: 134bpm
Max HR: 166bpm
Cals Burnt: 2481

Friday, 22 July 2011

300 Miles Baby...

This morning's ride broke me into the 300's for the month, far more than I was expecting in my first month of serious exercise for a couple of years, hurrah. At this rate, next months August 400 maybe obsolete before it's even  started. I feel an August 500 coming on instead!

By way of celebration I thought I'd try and kill myself by having a real go at cracking 40 minutes for the 10 mile loop I've been using for the last three weeks. The results you can see in the stats below. My total time was 39m 23s and I was completely spent by the time I got back in but was absolutely "pumped" as they say over the pond and had dolphins (endorphins) running around for about 1/2 an hour after the ride. Marvelous.

I think that time on that course will be hard to knock much more of until I've shifted a bit of poundage, on the flats I was pushing 20mph on my MTB so there's not much more to gain except on the lumpy bits.

This week the "food management" has also gone well, no snacking and good calorie counting has resulted in me feeling noticeably trimmer, even if the scales may not reflect it. We'll have to wait and see on Monday.

Ooh, and my "If I get into this I'll be at the right weight." cycling kit arrived yesterday, pictures and more tomorrow. 

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.89 miles
Average Speed: 15.0 mph
Average HR: 143bpm
Max HR: 164bpm
Cals Burnt: 692

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Giving It Some

This morning I slept straight through not only my iPhone alarm but also my backup and it's two reminder alarms.  I awoke at about 7am still with time to ride, but thought the oversleep was probably signs of tiredness and thought better of it. Ah a lie in, I remember those...

This resulted in my first after work effort which I've just got back from with two conclusions:

1. The air quality is attrocious at this time of day, even out in the sticks.
2. The warmer weather means you can really give it a go on the speed front without being afraid of pulling something.

I felt really fresh, despite the air, during the first 5 miles of my usual loop, and therefore really gave it a flat out push for the second, not getting lower than 145bpm for the whole 5 miles.

As a result I've just knocked 2 1/2 minutes off of my best time for the loop, although my average is still below that of my best 20 miler.

Next week I'm going to give it a real push all the way around to see what I can do flat out for the duration.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.88 miles
Average Speed: 14.6 mph
Average HR: 148bpm
Max HR: 175bpm
Cals Burnt:762

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Naughty Boy

Well it's day 20 of the 31 Days of July and so far so good. No missed days, and every day has been over at least my 10 (9.5) mile loop, so hurrah for me I suppose.

Today I was back on the usual 10 miler and felt good.  The pain from my foot is all but gone (except for when I walk) and my legs are feeling stronger by the day.

Despite the weather being cold and blowy, I thoroughly enjoyed the pedal and feel reinvigorated since yesterday's weigh in. It's amazing what getting a bit of stored up guilt off your chest does for you.

Just an update on the Tenn Outdoors gear I raved on about the other day, it washes and wears perfectly OK and I will definitely going back for more next month. 

On the clothing front, I have very naughtily committed the cardinal sin of ordering my "If I get into this I'll be at the right weight." cycling suit (bib shorts and jersey) for a bit of extra motivation. It wasn't cheap and the other half was not impressed, to which I replied, "A man can but dream...". I'll post more more on that once it arrives...

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.88 miles
Average Speed: 13.4 mph
Average HR: 133bpm
Max HR: 168bpm
Cals Burnt: 638

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Good News, Bad News

Well, the good news is that the doctor said my toe is not broken, just crushed a bit. She reckons I'll lose the nail but that should be all.  I was advised to keep it elevated to reduce the swelling and that it should be back to normal within a week or so. With the advice still in mind, I promptly chose to ignore it as ever and this morning went on a 20 mile magical mystery tour as mapped below.

Dunchurch - Grandborough Meander

The foot felt surprisingly fine on the bike, with only a little irritation towards the end. In my defence I will be keeping it rested on a box whilst at work and have driven in rather than my usual Tuesday meander in today.

The bad news is, as you may have guessed, regarding weight loss, or a lack of it. At this mornings weigh in I stepped on at 17st 12lb as per last week.  Whilst this was frustrating, it was at least expected. A couple of big feeds at the weekend (curse those family get togethers and my lack of will power), and a bit of a drinkie on Saturday meant no weight loss this week.

The two pronged silver lining is that firstly, I was actually expecting to gain, so staying steady is actually a bit of a relief, and secondly, this speed wobble has actually helped me to refocus on calories in a bit more rather than just making sure I was concentrating on the exercise front. 

Incidentally, thanks for the words of encouragement received in your comments regarding this aspect of the journey. They're all very much appreciated.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 19.76 miles
Average  Speed: 14.1 mph
Average HR: 133bpm
Max HR: 164bpm
Cals Burnt: 1256

Monday, 18 July 2011


Today's planned 20 miles had to be curtailed to under 10 thanks to me being a complete dufus and potentially breaking the big toe on my left foot.

Whilst shaking an extremely heavy plastic backed foot mat I managed to drop it sideways directly onto my foot which smarted a little. I promptly followed this up by pulling the vacuum cleaner at angry speed straight into the big toe of the same foot, genius. The pain was excruciating and the initial result was a split an bleeding nail and a horizontal line where one edge of the mat landed.

During this mornings ride however, the toe started to swell quite alarmingly and, having broken my other big toe playing Rugger in the past, the pain was is all too familiar.

I'm not able to walk particularly well so I'm off to the doctors today and will hopefully not have bad news tomorrow.

All in all, not a great start to the week, but at least I still got out there and pedalled. What a hard man of cycling, not.

Ride wise, I did the smaller version of the 10 mile loop (9 1/2 miles) in reverse and discovered it's much harder that way around, although the weather was atrocious with a stonking head wind.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.52 miles
Average  Speed: 13.4 mph
Average HR: 141bpm
Max HR: 169bpm
Cals Burnt:685

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Who'd Have Believed It...

This morning I was greeted by sun and drizzle, "that fine rain that soaks you through". If you add these two together you usually get rainbows and today was no exception as you can see below.

What was a surprise however was that the end of the rainbow seemed to be on the headmasters tower at Rugby School. Tom Brown would have been proud, or repelled if I remember the story correctly.

Today's ride started off as an out and back 10 miler on no particular route and rapidly turned into a thoroughly enjoyable 20 miler on the single track roads around Grandborough and Willoughby. I've well and truly caught the cycling bug now and am looking forward to every ride.

Here's the route I followed today, it's got a couple of good hills on it including a short sharp killer up into Barby.

Grandborough - Willoghby Loop

Ride Stats:
Distance: 19.58 miles
Average  Speed: 13.1 mph
Average HR: 130bpm
Max HR: 171bpm
Cals Burnt: 1239

Saturday, 16 July 2011

200 Miles Baby!

Well, that's my first 30 miler over with then. All went well, I was on the road for 5.30am and back for 8am.  I felt good on the bike all way round and only caught the torrential downpour for the last 6 miles or so from Yelvertoft home.

I gambled on the weather holding out and went with short sleeves and shorts.  I'm glad I did, despite no sun today was really warm and muggy, the warmest morning so far this month.  Luckily, and not, I remembered to pack my folding waterproof which now I have used it for the first time I have renamed windproof. It did no job at all against the rain, but did at least keep the bite of the downpour out.

Given the stats on today's ride I could push on with the mileage if I wanted to, but just for once I think I will not over exert myself too early and will stick at around this level for the remainder of the month.  Maybe I'll give it an extra 10 miles or so for the last week's big one.

Today's route came in at about 31 miles and as described yesterday wound it's way around Northamptonshire, here's the map for anyone interested:

East Haddon - Ravensthorpe - Yelvertoft Loop

It's a cracker, by far the lumpiest I've done to date. There were a couple of really good climbs in there to get the heart rate up, a thoroughly enjoyable way to break through the 200 miles for the month mark.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 31.17 miles
Average  Speed: 12.8 mph
Average HR: 129bpm
Max HR: 171bpm
Cals Burnt: 1993

Friday, 15 July 2011

5/10 Must do Better

As you can see from my previous posts, my fitness and enthusiasm for cycling are coming on in leaps and bounds already. What you may also have noticed from my posts however, is a complete lack of mention of anything diet related.

As always I continue to struggle with overeating in one form or another (binging, portion control, etc, etc). I would say I am managing to stick to my calories for three days in every seven so far. The reasons are varied, be they family celebrations, barbecues, boredom, comfort or even general apathy, but the result is always the same, looking at the scale thinking, "If only I hadn't...".

With this in mind, the task I am setting myself for next week is to stick to my diet every day and really try and get a stellar week of weight loss in as a result, because, as with last week, I am not expecting any miracles on the scale on Monday, although I will reapply myself over the weekend to try and rectify this weeks over indulgences.

Tomorrow I have decided to go for another of my short term goals, namely a thirty mile ride which I've decided will go through the rolling hills of Northamptonshire. Once I've planned a route I'll post it here under the rides label for anyone interested. Given that I've now done 198 miles this month, tomorrow will be a two for, with the 200 mile mark also being surpassed.

If only that grub didn't taste so good.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.89 miles
Average  Speed: 13.3 mph
Average HR: 128bpm
Max HR: 162bpm
Cals Burnt: 563

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I Was Trying For Another Recovery Day...

This mornings pedal was supposed to be another bimble around my 15 mile route but I just couldn't resist getting out of the saddle and giving it a real push up the 2 mile lumpy bit I mentioned in a previous post, which resulted in yet another highest bpm reading of 186.

Until I've been riding for a month or so I've decided to give up reprogramming the zones I mentioned yesterday, I'll end up doing it everyday at this rate.

The big push up the hill into Barby actually did me a huge favour, I was out in short sleeves and shorts and despite the beautiful sunrise, the foggy patches made it fricking freezing.  When I got back it took nearly an hour of cuddling up to my hot water bottle (the Mrs) to get any heat in me.  As you can imagine she was not terribly impressed.

I think it's about time I started taking some pictures of all these great summer mornings I describe. I take my phone with a good camera on it on every ride and completely forget it from the second I leave the house. I'd like to think it was focus on the task at hand, but I suspect it's probably something more like only having the ability to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 14.35 miles
Average  Speed: 13.11 mph
Average HR: 128bpm
Max HR: 186bpm
Cals Burnt: 905

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Taking it Easy

This morning I made a conscious effort to ride as slowly as possible within reason. I've been really pushing hard over the last few days and thought I'd better slow up a bit to let myself get some energy back.  If I don't I know a baulk is on its way, and I don't fancy that in the slightest.

With this in mind I picked the shorter of the two near 10 mailers and rode with a view to keeping my heart rate well down in my temperate zone (zone 2) to give myself the benefit of a good recovery ride (and my first in nearly two years).

Given yesterday's new highest bpm figure I reprogrammed my HRM with the ranges below:

Zone Type Max %age BPM
1 Healthy 50-60% 92-110
2 Temperate 60-70% 111-129
3 Aerobic 70-80% 130-147
4 Anaerobic 80-90% 148-165
5 Redline 90-100% 166-184

I managed to get my average bang in the middle of the zone, so well done me. I think that could quite possibly be the most disciplined I've ever been for nearly an hour in my entire life. The temptation to give it a quick push on a hill was immense, a good sign I'm catching the cycling bug again.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.53 miles
Average  Speed: 11-7 mph
Average HR: 120bpm
Max HR: 154bpm
Cals Burnt: 536

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

So Much For That Max HR...

Today we took the twins for their hour long induction at their new school. This involved them sitting in their class playing with classmates and listening to their teacher whilst us parents chatted in the main hall over tea and coffee (or water in my case).

We signed ourselves up for the "Friends of ..." Parent Teacher Association, I don't know how much I'll be able to contribute time wise but a fundraising bike ride never goes amiss does it.

The kids had a great time and were very excited about the new school uniform we picked up at the same time. We bumped into the other half of one of my old school friends who I've lost touch with over the years and their little girl will be in the same class as the twins, so we've exchanged numbers for some summer playtime together which I look forward to.

After dropping the girls off at nursery and my other half off at work I decided that I would have a go at the 20 mile loop to Daventry (although today my legendary navigation skills led to another course correction and an extra mile or so).  Once on the road I felt really good and started to push as hard as I could for a couple of miles, which turned into five miles and ten miles and before I knew it I had set a time over the distance that I certainly won't be bettering for a while.

My average speed was a whopping 14.7mph and my face was covered in salt when I got back. More importantly though, I didn't baulk and, despite my heart running in it's anaerobic zone for most of the ride, I still felt and feel strong by the finish.  Very encouraging.

As you can see by the numbers below, the maximum heart rate I mentioned yesterday appears to have been something of an underestimate.  Today I hit 184bpm out of the saddle on the steepest section of the Cat 5 up out of Braunston.

A great day and a great ride, and looking back over the last seven days I've clocked 104 miles, so I can knock off my 100 miles in any week target as well. I've now added a 300 miles in a week target to aspire too in the future.

Bring on tomorrow mornings recovery ride.

Distance: 22.30 miles
Average  Speed: 14.7 mph
Average HR: 151bpm
Max HR: 184bpm
Cals Burnt: 1733

Monday, 11 July 2011

Success on Two Fronts..

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my other half in the Merchants Inn, Rugby sampling their superb range of local and not so local small brewery ciders as part of their annual cider festival. We got through what was supposed to be a set of six 1/3 pint testers, but in reality was closer to six 1/2 pints and talked cod shit (about nothing in particular to non-UK readers) for a good few hours.

There were some crackers included in our selection and controversially my favorite was a Perry which I usually hate. We followed the cider up with a Subway on the way home so I have to admit to yet again not being too optimistic about weight loss for this mornings weigh in. Thankfully my fears were not realized and I weighed in at 17st 12lbs (250lbs) which is great.  It feels so good to get out of the 18st something I've had to see on the scales for the last year or so.

Inspired by this loss I thought I'd give today's 10 mile loop a bit of a push today to try and shave my time a little. When I got out on the road the early morning cold and fog didn't inspire confidence but I thought I'd give it a crack anyway. When I got back I was expecting to see a few seconds off of my best time and was shocked to see over a minute and a half improvement with little extra effort bpm wise. 

The fitness I thought I may have been imagining towards the end of last week is definitely coming on now, I'm surprised how quickly it has to be honest, but anything positive I'll accept graciously.

One thing I also saw today was what I am going to take as my maximum heart rate reading until I see anything higher. I was out of the saddle in mid range for the first time coming back towards home up the Clifton hill and very much felt I couldn't give much more by the top of it, so 176bpm will do for now.

Tomorrow I've got the day off so I might have another go at the 20 mile Daventry Loop you can find from my Rides label if you want to see the profile. I'm very keen to give that categorized climb another crack.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.92 miles
Average  Speed: 13.8 mph
Average HR: 141bpm
Max HR: 176bpm
Cals Burnt: 744

Sunday, 10 July 2011

More Rabbits Than Magpies...

This morning I was on the road for 5:45am and it was proper foggy as they say in these parts. Visibility was down to about 50 yards once I got out of the town.

With such atrocious visibility it was only apt that today was the day that the wildlife chose to come out onto the roads to try and cause an accident. On todays ride I had to manouvre around 14 rabbits, 5 magpies and once enormous dairy cow that was in the middle of the road out from Clifton.

By contrast I only saw 11 cars, 3 of which were in a row behind the aforementioned cow, I wish I'd had my phone to take a picturre. It's great to be on the road so early with so little traffic to contend with, I hate the feeling of ever present bumpers on the back wheel that comes with riding in the morning rush hour.

Today's 10 mile loop had a couple of roads cut off it too give my knees which are a little stiff from yesterday a chance to recover, I also dropped down a gear so it's very safe to say today was a recovery ride.

My HRM is behaving itself now that it has a new battery, so that'll be the first thing I do if the problem ever occurs again.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.52 miles
Average  Speed: 13.1 mph
Average HR: 131bpm
Max HR: 160bpm
Cals Burnt: 627

Saturday, 9 July 2011

New Goodies For a New Ride

The clothing I mentioned in a blog the other day arrived today. It was a jersey and shorts from Tenn Outdoors which I bought via their store on Amazon.

I got a red and black short sleeve jersey and a set of bib shorts, the pair setting me back £14.99 for the shirt and £18.99 for the bib shorts.

 I did my long ride today in them and my first impressions are excellent.  Both wick very well and despite the material of the shirt being very lightweight I got no wind penetration at all. The padded crotch is well positioned (considerably better than a lot of more expensive gear I've had in the past). The stitching quality is very good, as are the general materials and most importantly, they offer sizes from XS - XXXL for both jerseys and shorts.

I got the XXL shirt and XXXL shorts.  The XXL is a good fit for my 49" chest and the shorts have plenty of growing room (the elasticated bottom is loose) on my 44" waist, the XXL would have been a better fit for me personally. 

Tenn do everything cycle wear related from gloves to winter overcoats. I'll certainly be going back at those prices, and I can certainly recommend them to anyone reading this as there are definitely sizes and designs for everyone.

Back to today's longer ride and great news on the fitness front.  I did pretty much the route I'd planned below except for one wrong turn adding a mile long extra loop coming out of Willoughby onto the A45 by accident. This mistake meant my total distance ended up at about 28.5 miles.

Rugby - Birdingbury - Barby Loop

My HRM troubles continued today with the battery I had suspected on Thursday finally giving up the ghost from about the 10th mile (I've now replaced it and all seems well). This failure actually did me a favour however because rather than ride at tempo to try and maximise my calorie burn I decided to give the whole ride a big push to see where I was at.

The results you can see below, I ended up with a nice average speed for a hybrid mountain bike over a much greater distance than I've been used to so far. I also didn't blow myself up at all, despite making the schoolboy error of forgetting to take any liquids with me.

I also knocked off another of my goals today by completing 100 miles this month, bring on the 200!

It's been a good day all around on the exercise front, just a shame the Mclaren boys couldn't get them selves nearer pole for tomorrow's Grand Prix.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 28.45 miles
Average  Speed: 13.6 mph
Average HR: ???bpm
Max HR: ???bpm
Cals Burnt: 1800 (estimate)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Wind and Rain, Very Inspiring...

After snoozing my alarm for 15 minutes this morning, I dragged my semi conscious carcass to the window to see wet roads and a fine drizzle waiting to greet my morning ride. I have to admit this was the first pang of "Oh, just another 15 minutes in bed can't hurt" that I've had since I started the 31 Days in July campaign.

However, I managed to drag myself up, and after donning my trusty Crane Sports (Aldi) winter cycling coat I ventured out very gingerly, my bike has treadless slicks fitted at the moment that do not mix well with wet roads.

I start all of my rides from a School near my house that happens to be at the bottom of a 1/2 mile hill, so every ride starts with a gentle climb to the top to get my heart rate pumping.  By the time I got to the top this morning I knew two things, firstly that I was going to be very wet by the time I got back and secondly, that I was really glad I dragged myself out of my pit.

The fine rain (that soaks you through) was beautifully warm and wrapped up nicely in my padded tights and overcoat I had a thoroughly enjoyable pedal on the 10 mile loop, topped off by a rainbow for pretty much the entire return leg. Sometimes it really is the little things that make your day.

On the down side however, by the time I got back my bikes drivetrain was pinging and whistling meaning a good cleaning is in order for tomorrow, bring on the Muck Off.

Today's ride stats show what I think maybe just the inkling that my body maybe ready to up distances once or twice a week for next week, my calorie burn has dropped of noticeably, although I have to admit to not having pushed as hard today because of the rain.  I'll wait and see after tomorrows longer ride.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.91 miles
Average  Speed: 12.9 mph
Average HR: 132bpm
Max HR: 160bpm
Cals Burnt: 645

Thursday, 7 July 2011

What a beautiful morning...

Another cracking morning this morning, sunny and warm with a little mist on the hills. I had to go out overdressed though because I've only got one pair of cycling shorts as yet.  I've ordered a pair with a matching short sleeve jersey recently, and will show piccies and give my opinion once they arrive.

Back to the 10 mile loop again today and it felt very easy, my legs felt strong throughout and I got a good sweat on thanks to the clothing.

I’m not however, going to make my classic mistake of upping the mileage too early and then being knackered after every ride to the extent I’m in a permanent state of semi comatose.

I repositioned the HRM higher on my chest this morning and that seems to have done the trick thankfully, although today’s slightly higher bpm readings may mean that my older results could all be wrong. Ho humm.. so be it, at least everything from now on should be accurate.

The biggest difference I’ve found already is that going up hills is no longer spiking my heart rate to ridiculous levels. Indeed the maximum heart rate readings on the 10 mile loop now seem to occur on an exposed stretch of slightly uphill road which always seems to have the wind coming right at you. My hill climbing ability is already improving which feels great.

Another 10 miler tomorrow and then something a bit further afield for Saturday I think, best get mapping.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.91 miles
Average  Speed: 13.2mph
Average HR: 140bpm
Max HR: 163bpm
Cals Burnt: 823

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Erm, I Don't Think That's Quite Right...

Whilst out and about on my bike today my HRM started beeping whilst I was going down a quite steep incline. When I had a look at the reading it read 194 bpm. Now either I was scared to death or something was amiss. I gave the belt a bit of a wiggle and all returned to normal, or so I thought. 

Whilst climbing the steepest section or the 2 mile hill I mentioned in yesterday's post it started beeping again. "Aha!" I thought, "It's working OK now".  But alas, when I looked at the readout it read 83bpm, and even though I'm getting fitter, there's no way in the world that was right.

Once at the top of the hill I stopped and reset the position of the strap further up on my chest (without my moobs resting on it) and all was well for the rest of the ride as far as I'm aware.

I'm hoping it was just the positioning that was causing the error and not the battery on the way out, in my experience cheap HRMs are never the same once that seal has been broken for the first time.

Rugby - Dunchurch - Barby Loop

The ride, as you can see from the link above, is a relatively bumpy loop around Rugby and Barby and, despite the pretty tough climb, I felt pretty fresh all the way around. I thankfully missed the torrential downpour that had occurred at home in my absence and didn't feel a drop all the way around.
Because of the HRM problems I'm not too sure about the bpms below, however, the ride felt pretty easy so I think the average's probably about right.

Oh, and I just realized that I have achieved one of my targets, namely to cycle 50 miles in one week, well done me. Better mark it off on my progress page.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 14.46 miles
Average  Speed: 13.2mph
Average HR: 133bpm
Max HR: 165bpm
Cals Burnt: 953

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Getting Stronger...

Yesterday's food consumption went well, keeping just under my allocated 2000 cals, although I very naughtily had the last three bottles of Bud from the fridge which added at leat another 500 or so.

I've noticed that my eating and drinking fits very much into the category of  "out of sight, out of mind". If the temptations are not there then I can very easily munch away on a carrot stick and feel just as satisfied as I would guzzling a beer. To that effect I sensibly decided to throw out all of the left over naughties from the weekends barbecue, they were just too tempting for my "...fragile little mind" as South Park's Cartman would say.

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I felt particularly fresh on the bike and today I felt fresher still to the extent that I decided to give the second half of the ride a bit of a push and got my backside out of the saddle.  The result is that I knocked nearly three minutes off of my best time to date for the Daventry Loop with little if any bpm rise.

It is always nice when you can see the fitness very obviously coming, firstly because longer more interesting rides are just around the corner, and secondly because it tends to be followed by a good bit of sustained weight loss, he said hopefully.

Tomorrow I think I'll try my favourite ride in and around Rugby, a 14 mile circuit which includes a 2 mile climb at a fairly good gradient. I'll post the route tomorrow after the ride.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.91 miles
Average  Speed: 13.3mph
Average HR: 135bpm
Max HR: 174bpm
Cals Burnt: 688

Monday, 4 July 2011

Thoughts on my First Week

Well that's a week of trying to keep my diet on song and four days of exercise down.  What have I discovered in this week?

1. Cycling everyday after not having done anything for a while leads very rapidly to an aching buttocks.
2. Keeping under 2000 calories is fine as long as I plan meals and snacks a day ahead.
3. Having a barbeque with lots of grub left over for the next day is not advisable.
4. I'm not as fit as I would like to be (very tired today), but can already feel strength coming in my legs.
5. If my diet slips, which it did for two days this week, by keeping up the bike miles the weight will come off.

Today's weigh in was better than expected, 4lbs off in a week when I ate and drank to excess over the weekend if I'm honest with myself.

Also over the weekend, I developed a noticeable ache in both of my knees, a sure sign that I've been pushing too high a gear on the bike. This morning's ride was back on the 10 mile village loop and I tried a lower gear at a higher cadence for both flat and hills, resulting in a slightly slower time at about the same average BPM.

I feel noticeably fresher this morning after the ride, and have had little if any stiffness or pain in the knees, so I think I'll stick with the lower gear for the time being.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.91 miles
Average  Speed: 12.4mph
Average HR: 135bpm
Max HR: 154bpm
Cals Burnt: 766

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Upping The Mileage...

As I expected the barbecue was indeed an almost irresistible temptation yesterday, although I managed to contain myself to eating mainly protein (meat, burgers, sausages) and a little potato salad.  Thankfully the drinking fest I anticipated did not develop and knowing I had to rise at 5:15am to be on the bike meant I managed to reign in my own alcohol consumption for a change.

Nonetheless, I decided to do my first 20 miler of the new campaign this morning, a nice hilly route from Rugby to Daventry and back which included my first categorised climb of the campain, a cat 5 1.2km climb from Braunston towards Daventry. I'll use this one as my 20 mile progress ride from now on, the hills make for a good cardio workout.

Daventry Loop

I again felt pretty limp on the bike, as expected with the everyday aspect of the "31 Days of July", however the stats say this is the most efficient ride HR wise so far, so I must be doing something right.

Tomorrow is my first weekly weigh in so wish me luck.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 20.59 miles
Average Speed: 12.6mph
Average HR: 126bpm
Max HR: 166bpm
Cals Burnt:1222

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Exuberance of Youth...

Well that certainly wasn't as easy as yesterday, although the stats tell me it was.  I felt heavy on the bike this morning I think exasperated by the fact that I was disturbed by three phone calls between 3am and 4am, meaning I only got about 5 hours decent sleep last night.

It was another beautiful morning out there today, sunny and fresh with just a little mist in the countryside, my favourite exercising weather.

As promised yesterday, here is the first link to the courses I am riding over the coming months:

Rugby - Lilbourne Loop

This is a nice little 10 miler with a couple of short, sharp climbs to get the heart pumping well, it's the ride I'll be using for my 10 mile loop on the progress page.

Today I'll be having my first test of will power.  We are having a barbecue for my twin girls fourth birthday and with my other half being Chilean there are many South American delicious, and riduculously bad for you, savoury treats available. These plus meat and beer equal a very large temptation and test for me.

I am consoling myself with the fact that I can have pretty much anything I want, just in moderation.  Either way I have already decided that tomorrows ride will have a few extra miles added to it, just to be sure. Knowing this fact will at least keep my alcohol consumption down (he said hopefully).

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.91 miles
Average  Speed: 12.75mph
Average HR: 131bpm
Max HR: 163bpm
Cals Burnt:681

Friday, 1 July 2011

And So It Begins...

One ride down and thirty to go on the "31 Days Of July", and what a beautiful day to start on.

I was out of bed at 5am sharp and zombie like got dressed and on the bike.  Unlike most rides I actually managed to remember to fit my HRM before I started. Once on the road I thoroughly enjoyed the first 10 miles of what I hope will be thousands on this weight loss journey.  The sun was bright and warm and the air cool, perfect biking weather.

I did a 10 mile B road loop from Rugby town centre out to a couple of surrounding villages and back, I'll post the route on a later entry. 

The ride felt good, and I found it pretty easy to tell the truth, childlike enthusiasm I'd imagine. I'm guessing the same ride won't be feeling so marvelous in a couple of weeks, but hey, it did today and that's the important thing.

Ride Stats:
Distance: 9.92 miles
Average  Speed: 12.6mph
Average HR: 137bpm
Max HR: 162bpm
Cals Burnt: 768

That starts the day off with a good deficit of calories, now to just stick to my calories for the day and we'll be rocking and rolling in no time.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Good Evening ... Good Evening ... Good Evening and Welcome

Hello and welcome to my new cycling blog. 

I've always loved cycling over the years and have always kept my finger in, keeping a half decent bike, making sure I do at least one or two good rides in a year etc.

However, as my about me page will tell you, I have struggled with my weight and food in general for all of my adult life.  I've tried most of the diets out there and yoyoed up and down like a good one.  The stretch marks on my belly will tell testify to that! 

I've recently realised that if I don't get myself sorted out soon, my battered and abused body (too much weight and untreated sports injuries carried for years) will be wearing out, and as a new father, my twin girls are 4 years old, that is just selfish and stupid to the nth degree.

To this end, I'm embarking on an initially strict regime of cyclecise over the next two months, and am making a concerted effort to eat a better varied and more calorie controlled diet over the coming months and hopefully years thereafter.

Because I already have a reasonable level of fitness despite my 18 stone plus frame (I complete 50 mile bikeathon rides and don't struggle too much), and have in the past been a 500-600 mile a month man, I have come up with two really tough months to kick me off.

In July, I will be completing what I have called the "31 Days of July" in which I have promised myself and others that I will be on my bike every day for at least 5 miles a day (I'm aiming at 10 miles in reality).

I'm going to follow this up in August with my "August 400", whereby I want to try and complete 400 miles of cycling in one month to really pull some weight off and kickstart my new life of sensible eating and exercise.

I realise these two initial months are extremely ambitious, bearing in mind I did my first weigh in yesterday and tipped the scales at 18st 6lbs (258lbs) and I haven't done any sustained exercise for at least two years, but despite my addiction to food and my ever increasing levels of lethargy, I do know my own mental and physical limits (I was extremely fit and active in the dim and distant past) and feel I can pull these two tough months off.

Wish me good luck, it all kicks off at 5am tomorrow morning.