That Big Kid Feeling

Tonight I managed to do two things I really needed to do:

  1. I needed to adjust my bike, move the saddle forward a few millimeters and roll the handlebars back a tad to raise the brake levers a little
  2. Get out and ride the bike properly

I was able to make the adjustments to my bike fairly quickly after work seeing as I was working from home today and the little ones had a play date straight from my eldest finishing school this afternoon.  This time allowed me to get the bike out the garage and into the front room for a bit.

I then made sure my lights were charged along with my phone with an idea of where to go for tonight’s ride.  I use Strava to map my rides – I’m not bothered about all the leader board and KOM stuff, I’ll never see the top of anything, but I do like how it paused the timer when it detects you’ve stopped at some lights or something.  I found looking on the laptop today (not the mobile app for a change) you can plan routes over a map.  So I planned a route that was 10.15 miles long and Strava estimated a total moving time of 58 minutes and 5 seconds.

Bike ready, kids in bed and me in my cycle clothes I set off through the estate as I normally do.  I wasn’t as cold tonight as the other night, it was just nice enough to get away with a base layer, jacket and bib tights.  All started off well racing across through Kirkby and I noticed the wind.  When head on it wasn’t too much of an issue but then after turning and getting it side it started moving the bike around a little, I’ve never felt that before but this bike being the lightest I’ve ever ridden it was very noticeable.  But I carried on, not letting it bother me as I just concentrated on trying to find a rhythm on the pedals.

I eventually came out of Kirkby and headed towards Kings Mill Reservoir, turned up the A617 and the plan was to then head up Cauldwell Road and back into Sutton and home.  I approached the Cauldwell Road turn off and thought against it.  I was horrid going up there last time in the dark, it’s an unused road now and there is not lighting so is pitch black dark.  Instead I carried on down the A617 and onto the A60 towards Mansfield.  I thought to myself if I’m not doing the incline at Cauldwell I’ll go further than originally planned instead.

I eventually headed back to the A617 in a loop, reaching 28 mph coming back down again – I was just about keeping with the car in front.  This is where the ‘Big Kid’ feeling first kicked in.  I don’t think I’ve been that fast on a bike before, but it felt good, it felt exhilarating.  A feeling I really want to do again.

I eventually arrived back at home, stopped the tracker and was over the moon I averaged a pace in double figures.  It might only just be double at 10.4 mph, but it’s double!  I got off the bike and had the feeling of wanting to just go and do it again – I’ve never felt like that about any exercise at any time in my life, but I already can’t wait to get out on the bike.  What I felt tonight through the ride has made me realise just how much I really like cycling and it’s something I am not giving up.

Thursday is the next planned evening ride, I wonder where the wheel will take me next time…

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Winter Isn’t Coming, It’s Already Here

We’ve all heard several highly paid actors tell us Winter is Coming… not heard it for a while, about time that final season is released.  For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, where have you been?  You need to watch Game of Thrones.

This morning when I got in the car to go to work the temperature read out was 5.5 degrees Celsius (about 42 degrees Fahrenheit for those who don’t use degC).  That’s cold, especial considering the fantastic summer we’ve had this year.  I even had to wait for the car windscreen to demist, not done that in a while.

With the colder weather comes a change in food.  Already I’ve switched to soups for lunch.  A lovely butternut squash soup with some wholemeal bread, I do love it when the wife makes wintery food.  Soon we’ll be making stews and casseroles as we say bye to the summer-like salads and lighter lunches I’ve been consuming the last few months.  I love winter food, it’s so warming and filling, nothing better than tucking into a nice hot bowl of corned beef hash when the temperature drops.

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Photo by Foodie Factor on Pexels.com

Winter also means the slow cooker will be coming out too.  I’ve already decided I want to experiment a little with it this year.  Someone from my Slimming World group made a Slow Cooker English Breakfast not long ago, looked lovely and nothing better than leaving it on while at work and coming home to it be cooked and ready (even though it’s a Breakfast, the English Breakfast can be enjoyed at any meal time).  There’s also Slow Cooker Jacket Potatoes which I’ve never tried before, but I’m intrigued as I love a crispy Baked Potato every now and then.

The clocks go back for us UK people next weekend, the bonus being and extra hour in bed (if you don’t have a baby like me).  This also means the nights will be drawing in a lot earlier than they currently are, so night cycling is going to be the norm unless I can get out in the day at a weekend.  To that end I’m glad I’ve got rechargeable lights, no more worries about batteries giving way during a ride as I’ll make sure they’re topped up before I leave each time.

Reflective gear is also a must at night to be seen, so I will be making the most of my nice florescent jacket with reflective strips.  Let it be known I’ll probably be seen from half a mile away.  But my biggest problem is the cold.

I’m not overly prepared at the moment for the cold weather that is coming.  I have a pair of bib-tights but I’d say they’re for autumn use, not so much winter.  I was wearing them on Thursday night when I took the Boardman out for it’s first ride and I was cold, really felt the cold on the downward stages.  So I need some better thermal bib-tights.  I also don’t have much for the top other than a short-sleeve base layer and my jacket, so I’ll need to look into a long sleeve thermal jersey.  I don’t have much of a budget – if any at all, so I will have to keep on eye out for any online offers where I can.

Gloves are another thing and I think more important than maybe the thermals (I can layer in clothes but not gloves).  I have the summer time finger less gloves at the moment, but they won’t be any good through Winter.  I’d hate to think what could happen if my fingers got cold enough I couldn’t quickly apply the brakes if needed.  So looks like I’ll be hunting for some nice warm, waterproof gloves over the next couple of weeks.

As much as the cycling part makes it look like I don’t like winter and I’m not prepared, I do love winter, more so than summer.  In winter I can layer up if I’m cold, it’s not like you can strip your skin off if you’re too hot in summer.  I’m a big guy so believe me when I say I get hot in summer.

 

Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail

It’s an old saying, one that is often correct so many times during ones life, but it’s not like I didn’t prepare this time.  The preparation was there, it just wasn’t followed through.

So this weekend we’ve been at the in-laws.  Yesterday my wife went on a spa day with her mum and sister, that left me and the father-in-law with three kids, 2 of my own and my neice.  My eldest is 4 years old, my youngest 9 months old and my niece is 1 year old.  I wasn’t looking forward to this day.  I know my two kids routine and what they want when they want, but I don’t know my niece quite as well as that (the sister-in-law lives a good 250 miles away).  I was expecting a really stressful day.

The preparation for this day started Friday.  When the wife picked The eldest up from school, she had to pop to Asda to get her some new tights (kids grown so damn fast), at the same time she popped next door to Iceland to grab a couple of frozen Slimming World meals for me to take for the weekend.  Preparation is a BIG part of Slimming World working for most people.

The Saturday started off great, the wife had cooked breakfast to fill us for the morning.  So many times we’ve rushed the morning skipped breakfast and it’s then gone down hill grabbing a coffee and muffin from Costa in the wah… Well not today!
We packed the car up, got the kids in and started to drive to the spa where I was dropping off the wife for the day.  About 75% of the way there I asked the wife of she’d put my Slimming World meals in the boot… She took one slow look at me, realised we’d completely forgot and slowly said “crap”.  Yep, that’s where the original preparation wasn’t followed through.  All is not lost here though.

I dropped the wife off and made my way to the in-laws.  Met the father-in-law and got the kids settled.  It was getting to lunch time and the original plan was to get the kids a chippy lunch.  But we scrapped this and they had a jacket potato with beans and sausage.  The father-in-law and I had a lovely ham salad.  Ham, Egg, Carrot, Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomato, Onion and a Jacket Potato.  It was beautiful and best of all, it was on loan with plenty of speed food. WIN!

The day went quite quick, we took the kids to the park for a couple of hours, they had a picnic tea (sandwiches, crisps and mini savoury balls), had a bath and got them to calm down for bed.  My two kids love their bed and are often like clockwork.  The youngest goes down at 7, with the eldest 15-30 minutes later, no questions asked.  My neice, however, does not always play ball when not sleeping at home.  Maybe she’s not keen on the fact she’s not in her own bed, maybe we were too soft with her because we weren’t sure of her bedtime routine and we didn’t want to wake the two that had already gone down.  Anyway, come 20:15 she was still wide awake.

At this point I really couldn’t be bothered to make anything for tea (should have thought about this earlier).  Without even thinking I whipped the phone out and ordered a pizza.  Half an hour later the pizza came, my niece still wide awake.  Then 15 minutes later the ladies returned from their spa day – and the first thing that went through my my mind was “caught red handed”.  The wife tried to talk me out the pizza, but it was 21:00 and I really couldn’t be bothered to wait for something to be cooked now.  The pizza tasted great, we both finished it off and I was stuffed, but now I really regret and feel really bad about it.  I went into the day determined to stick to plan, but didn’t quite make it.  Had I brought those damn Slimming World meals I would have been fine.

Today is a new day though and the cycle starts again, another chance to stick to plan, a day to redeem myself from the loss of will power yesterday.  A day to prove to myself I can do this, because I can do this and I will do this.  My mini target for this week is to loose 3lbs and that lapse in will power last night is not going to stop me.

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 Nice Surprise

Last night was weigh night.  I wasn’t really looking forward to going, not one bit, but the wife made me.  At the end of the day if I don’t go after a bad week it usually ends up being a bad two weeks and the damage is multiplied.

We got to group and it was quieter than usual.  Normally the 7 pm group has around 35+ people stop for IMAGE Therapy, but tonight there only seemed to be about 15 people.  This didn’t help me as I started thinking “well others haven’t been bothered to turn up, why am I here”.  But I put my bag down on the usual seat and went to check me and the wife through pay while she used the ladies room.  I paid the usual weekly fee and then put some Kiwi Fruits in the Slimmer of the Week basket.

I then queued for the scales.  One of our friends was just ahead of us and she started giggling like a little kid and was really happy – I would be if I’d lost as much as her in a week, 8.5lbs lighter she was.  I was happy for, I know the last couple of weeks she’s struggled and it’s had her down, so it’s good to see she was able to bring that sort of weight loss in this week, no doubt it has motivated her a bit more for this next week.

It eventually came to my turn to step on the little black square that I sometimes wish would just swallow me up.  I closed my eyes, didn’t want to see the figure on the display and asked for the weight lady not to tell me what I’ve put on.  What was just a couple of seconds seemed minutes in my head.  All of a sudden I heard the gentle “well done” I usually get when I’ve lost weight.  This confused me, I opened my eyes and looked at the figure on the display.  I’d lost but couldn’t quite workout how much by – it wasn’t a huge loss.

“Three pounds off this week” is what was said next as I stepped down.  I couldn’t believe.  I know some meals this last week have been on plan, but equally some have not.  I’ve snacked and I went out with some friends on Saturday night.  How I lost 3lbs I do not know, I just can’t understand it.

IMAGE Therapy went on as usual, us all having a laugh and a joke with our consultant.  Annette (our consultant) then turned to me and congratulated me on my loss this week.  She asked the usual “are you happy with that”.  I was over the moon, on cloud 9, but still couldn’t work out why.  I gave the usual “yep, I’m happy with that, it’s a loss so I’m not going to complain”.

She could tell from my tone of voice I wasn’t expecting it, so she asked “how can you protect yourself for the next week and make sure you have a loss again next week?”.  I didn’t know what to say, I wasn’t expecting a loss this week and I certainly wasn’t looking to next week just yet.  Then I remembered I have a Food Diary at home that should help protect me this week, “I’m going to use my food diary, note everything down and make sure my syns are counted” – I’ve not properly counted syns since probably week 3 or 4, hence why I don’t loose every week.

The loss this week has inspired me a little, so I feel right now anyway.  It made me realise that no matter how I feel I have to go to group, get weighed and stay for IMAGE Therapy.  I’m also looking forward to trying out this new bike now it’s prepped and ready to be rolling.  Exercise isn’t a requirement on Slimming World, but ‘body magic’ as it’s called will always help.  Hell, I might even try for my Bronze Body Magic award.

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/

Fighting with myself taking on the war of being severely overweight with dieting and cycling