Category Archives: Cycling

First Time With Drops

I finally got out on my Boardman ADV last night for the first time.  I’ve only had in since Saturday, but it’s taken this long due to needing to ‘modify’ the mudguards to get them to fit properly and also find the time to actually get out (as hectic as life is right now).

It was only a little ride, but a learning ride at that.  I need to move my saddle slightly forward as it’s too far back at the moment and I feel the tops of the brake handles are too low/forward, so the handle bar needs adjusting so they’re a little higher.  I didn’t know until about 5 weeks ago what Bike Fit was, but I’ve learnt a fair bit from YouTube these last few weeks.

The ride itself, albeit not as comfortable as it could have been, was enjoyable.  Getting back out last night, even for half an hour, was really needed.  I was in a foul mood when I got home from work and I needed a bit of a release.  As I’ve covered before getting out on the bike is my time and my time to release any stress or bad feeling I have.  It helps me clear my mind and last night it certainly did that.  Even the wife noticed a change in my mood when I got back.

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It’s the first time I’ve ever had a bike with drop handles.  I’ve only ever had mountain bikes in the past, but this adventure bike suited more for what I wanted to eventually use it for, commuting.  I’ll be honest, I did some searching via Google for any tips other people have previously had for transitioning to drops for the first time.  I found different sites/posts from people explaining the different positions on the handle bars, so I used this time to experiment a little.

I found being on the ‘hoods’ fairly comfortable, a lot more comfortable than I thought I would.  Then switching to the tops for any inclines was easier as it allowed me to get a little more upright to use my lungs more efficiently.  I could of times going back down the inclines I came up I used the Hooks, right behind the brakes.  This was fairly comfortable and gave me better confidence in braking should I have needed to rather sharpish.

I also noticed how much easier it was to pedal along roads with these wheels.  My Boardman ADV has 700c x 38mm wheels.  They have little knobbly bits on the tires as they’re designed for on and off road use.  I was amazed how much slicker they felt on the road compared to the mountain bike I was using previously.  It felt a lot less effort to get the bike going and to keep it going too.

The difference in weight compared to the mountain bike was noticeable as soon as I picked the bike up on Saturday, but actually riding it I noticed it even more.  It’s like riding on a cloud compared to what I’m used to.  it doesn’t feel too light that I feel I’m going to break it, but it is that much lighter it is so much more comfortable.  It’s around 6kg lighter than the mountain bike – which is almost 50% of the weight of this bike!

Overall I feel over the moon with this bike at the moment.  I can’t wait to get back on it, though will have to wait until next week as I’m on in-law duty this weekend while the wife goes to a spa (not jealous at all!).  I know someone who lives round the corner who owns a local bike shop and he’s agreed to go through a Bike Fit with me as soon as we can, so hopefully the little discomfort I felt last night will be gone for good.

A Brand New Ride

I’m in deep, deep trouble.  I’ve a new bike now, but it’s not the bike that’s the problem, I may have ‘forgot’ to let the wife know it was coming.  Not the greatest move I’ve pulled through our relationship, but I think she’s now just about over it.

So last week I ordered a Cycle2Work voucher via my employer.  It’s a good 15 miles to work when not using the motorway so is easily achievable on a bike.  I’ve never biked to work before but I know of others who do in my office.  They come from all different directions to the office and none live in my direction, so it will be a sole commute when it happens.

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The Cycle2Work scheme basically covers off the cost of the bike and safety accessories at the point of purchasing the bike.  I then ‘hire’ the bike from my employer for 12 months with me paying for the bike via salary sacrifice (before tax – have that Mr Tax Man).  Via the scheme I also got 5% discount on the bike – win win so far yeah.

The bike I opted for is the Boardman ADV 8.8 Adventure/Gravel bike.  I’d done a fair bit or research for the last few weeks on the bikes on offer to me.  My voucher limits me to buy from Halfords, so there wasn’t a ridiculously huge range of bikes to choose from.  But my main requirements were;

  1. Quick and comfortable on tarmac
  2. Able to handle cycle trails and gravel paths
  3. Prefer disk brakes due to winter cycling
  4. Drop handle bars

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The Boardman ADV 8.8 fits all these requirements I wanted.  The bike is £750, so really it’s £712.50 with the 5% discount applied.  Halfords then gave me £36 to spend on accessories as I went via the Cycle2Work scheme and they had a deal on for £75 off accessories with any Boardman bike – £111 or accessories for free, this keeps getting better.  In the end I maxed out on the accessories by getting;

  • Helmet (I’ve been using my dads while using his bike)
  • Front and rear rechargeable lights
  • Bottle cages (2 of)
  • Full mudguards (SKS Bluemels)
  • Spare battery operated small lights (in case the main ones fail during a dark ride)
  • Waterproof helmet cover (got to keep my noggin dry)
  • Cycling glasses with interchangeable lenses (comes with shaded, yellow and clear lenses)

The weight of this bike compared to my dads mountain bike is unreal.  16kg mountain bike compared to the 10.5kg of the Boardman already feels like those hills are going to be easier and I’ve not been on a ride yet.

Last night was a shambles though, trying to get the SKS mudguards to fit wasn’t a easy as I thought it would be and maybe I should have just paid Halfords to fit them – but I’m tight when it comes to something I should be able to do myself.  The rear mudguard went on fine, no issues there.  But the front mudguard is a real pain.  After working out that the mounting points for the stays are no where around the front wheel axel, I eventually found them half way up the inside of the fork.  So no I’ve had to bend the Stays slightly to meet their new location and still straighten into the locks on the mudguard.  Now it’s time to trim the stays, but at 10pm last night I was starting to loose patience and went to bed.  Tonight I will be finishing the front mudguard and hopefully getting out for that first ride.

It’s safe to say I’m excited and can’t wait to get out on this thing, fingers crossed!

 

More information on the Cycle2Work Scheme in the UK can be found here: https://www.cycle2work.info/

More information on the Boardman ADV 8.8 can be found here: https://www.boardmanbikes.com/gb_en/products/2145-adv-8.8.html

More information about Halfords and their bike services can be found here: https://www.halfords.co.uk/

Breakfast Is Key, Or Is It?

I have been told for the majority of my life that ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’.  My parents told it me all the time when I was younger and I often didn’t want breakfast – usually to have some more TV time or something.  But is it really the most important meal of the day?

Now I’ve been alive for a little over 11,500 days.  Now quite a few of those days I was a baby, not eating food for breakfast etc, but we can safely say the vastt majority of those days I have eaten breakfast.  I’d say that commenting on how I feel through the morning if I have had or have not had breakfast could make me an expert – just like those of you who are older than me, or those who are younger but are reading this (I doubt kids are reading me drone on about weight and cycling).  Now I can’t and will not comment on how other people feel, I can only and will only comment on how I feel.

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Breakfast isn’t something I always have.  Most of the time I do, sometimes I do not.  It all depends on how I feel when I wake up in the morning or if I have woke up with enough time to grab something before going about my business.  But it is safe to say the most of the time I have breakfast.

Usually if I go without breakfast my day can go very differently compared to days I do have breakfast.  Usually without something in a morning I feel less energetic (obvious you might say), but this goes on all day.  I don’t suddenly pick up after lunch when I’ve eaten, it feels for me like the whole day drags.  We all know what it’s like for a day to really drag when you’re at work, it’s not nice.  Also, when I do get to lunch I can quite often feel the need to binge eat.  This is where I eat more than I need to, likely because I feel deprived from missing that most important meal of the day.  I then snack throught he afternoon and eat my evening meal later on.

Making sure I eat breakfast turns my day around completely.  It doesn’t deel it drags, often it feels it goes too quick and there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that needs doing.  I snack a lot less, even in the afternoon when I’ve eaten something early on.  I don’t binge at lunch, instead I just eat whatever it is I’ve planned for lunch.  I’m also a happier person around others – this is key as I work with a lot of people and lets face it, no one likes a grumpy colleague.

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So, breakfast for me is rather important, maybe the most important meal of the day – who knows?  But this is why I make sure I have breakfast when I can.  I don’t often have breakfast before heading into work though, I often have it at work due to my earlier starts.  This isn’t always an issue as we have things at work like microwaves and fridges, so some hot and cold stuff is doable.  But we also have a small canteen that serves things like breakfast cobs and cereals (if i fancy paying).  Cereals are often a favourite of mine as I can take them to work in a tuppaware bowl and just add milk at work.  I have the fortune of being able to eat at my desk – my company isn’t as strict with food/drink in the office as some others may be.

A common discussion at my Slimming World group is people who often miss breakfast and they struggle with ‘on the go’ requirements.  Most of the time these people are nurses, or carers or some kind of job that requires you to be on your feet all the time with little chance of a break.  Again I’m fortunate as I sit my fat bum behind a desk all day.  But I do often feel for thsoe who eally struggle for morning meals.  If it was me who was in a job where I couldn’t find it easy enough to eat breakfast most days – I’d be unbareably  misserable.

Heading away from Slimming World and into cycling, I read around the Internet of people using a ‘fasting ride’ in a morning to loose that bit more weight.  Heading out on the bike for a short, hard ride before having breakfast when they get back.  I envy these people if it really does help loose a bit more weight.  I could only wish of getting up a hour or so earlier to hit the tarmac, especially around this time of year going into winter.  There is nothing I like more than a nice cosy, warm bed in a morning before the kids get me up.  Maybe it would be an idea to give it ago, at least a couple of times through right?  Surely it can’t be a myth that a few small fasting rides help loose that bit more weight?  Some keen cyclinst reading this post may comment and tell me to just get out and ride (if you’re still reading by this point) and feel the benefits of a little exercise to get the metabolism going instead of food.

 

But Why Cycling?

People have asked me why I’m using Cycling to loose weight.  There is not real reason behind it other than it’s something I used to enjoy as a kid.  Long before I passed my driving test at the young age of 17 I used to go everywhere on a bike.  I used to race up to my weekend job on a bike, I used to go out with friends on my bike.  Then along came a car and convenience.

If you properly look into cycling while overweight, there are warnings of back problems, neck problems and actually having a bike that will cope with a larger person.  I currently do not own a bike, I am using my dads mountain bike.  He isn’t using it and it was stood collecting dust, so I have it for now.

Mountain bikes and Hybrid bikes are likely the better bikes for us who are on the larger side.  They tend to have sturdier wheels and thicker tubes that make up the frames.  Usually so they can take the impact of off road mountain biking, but in my case it’s on a road and supporting my overweight body.

I really want a road bike and I love the idea of getting out on the bike and churning out 20+ miles.  But virtually all road bikes come with a weight limit for the rider, of which I am a few stone over.  But it’s my goal, it’s what is keeping me going at the moment with trying to loose weight.

I am getting out on the mountain bike when I can, permitting around the kids, work and life.  The nights are coming in earlier and earlier at this time of year, but that hasn’t bothered me of late.  I’ve managed to get some cheap ‘winter’ gear in the form of a windproof/shower proof high-vis jacket, some cycling bib tights and some winter cycling socks.  Armed with these I be looking to continue going out as the temperature drops.

Cycling can be seen as a better exercise for people who suffer with their weight.  It’s not impacting the knees and ankles like running does as the bike takes your weight.  You can also very easily complete interval training on a bike too, your heart rate will increase as you pedal up the slightest incline, but then you can rest as you come back down again (when you go up you have to come back down again).  I’ve found this has helped as it gives me chance to recover a little before attempting the next incline – much better than running or swimming which I feel are constant (though swimming also has it’s advantages for larger people).

Using an app on my phone called Strava is also helping me.  It tracks where you’re cycling so you can see how far you’ve gone and how quick.  But the mist impressive thing is it’s segment information.  It breaks you ride into segments and you can see if this time you set a quicker time than last time.  It keeps me motivate towards the end of my rides as I keep trying to lower the time on the last stretch home.  It’s also free which helps those of us on a budget.