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Hi everyone,

This blog has now been moved onto it’s own domain at

It still uses WordPress, it’s still all about me losing weight and cycling, just in a different place!




It’s a great website even if I do say so myself (I designed it), but the new KB Cycles website is now live…

New KB Cycles website

After a 23 mile outdoor ride yesterday, today was meant to be a recovery ride. However, despite yesterday’s ride knackering me, I felt pretty fresh tonight and decided to give the 10 mile quest a bash.

So, courtesy of BBC iPlayer, I watched an episode of Top Gear (the one with the Alfa Romeo 8C – probably the prettiest thing with 4 wheels ever made) and got going.

Boy, it hurt. I’ve never been a high cadence kind of guy, but I do try to keep it up to 80-85. So, in top gear, 80-85rpm, at 27 – 28mph. The last 3 miles weren’t the most pain I’ve ever experienced by a long shot, but there seems to be a mental block that won’t allow me to really punish myself yet (for reference the most pain I’ve experienced is when I went to the hospital to have fluid drawn from a mashed knee).

At 10 miles, with Suzy brandishing a serving spoon ready to dish tea as soon as I dismounted (something about the window of opportunity that experts talk about) I check the clock to be pleasantly surprised.

Previous Best – 21 minutes 58 seconds
New Best – 21 minutes 7 seconds

That’s a 51 second improvement – and hopefully an indication of increased fitness despite no real weight loss to speak of recently (it’s slowed down somewhat – but I’m at 18 stone 3lbs, that a 4 stone and 1lb loss so far).

As the weather improves, I intend to mark out a course with as much uninterrupted road as possible to try 10 miles in the real world – however bad the time might end up being!

After being pretty pleased with myself in the week for shaving 6 seconds off my 10 mile time trial, this weekend I have come back down to Earth with a bump.

The North East of England isn’t what you’d call a warm place. Even in Summer, despite local ladies wearing next to nothing on a night time, Tyne and Wear doesn’t feel as warm as say, Greenland. Yes, it’s an exaggeration, and yes it does get warm here (sometimes) but because of the ever present North Sea wind, the wind chill factor makes it feel slightly colder.

Despite warnings of a cold front coming in this weekend, I planned a Sunday ride. The weather has been getting milder over the past few weeks, and it’s predominantly the cold that has kept me indoors. On saturday, I invested in an XL (yes, XL – not XXL!!!) Endura Gridlock jacket (which has more technology in it than my living room) and some legwear from my friends at KB Cycles. So, wrapped up like a big blue eskimo, I ventured out into the wild.

Now, on the turbo trainer I can pedal along at 19-20 mph on a 40 mile ride. On my 10 mile rides, I average between 25 and 27 mph. Outside, it felt like I was pedaling through mud. On the flats I was doing 15-18 mph, and on the hilly bits between 9-11 mph. After 15 miles, I was cold and tired and ready for home. I’d stopped by a park and had a banana and a drink, and caught my reflection in a window. I know I’ve come a long way, as of today I weighed 18 stone 3lbs and 7oz (that’s a loss of 4 stone) and I have dropped 6 inches off my waist and wear an XL instead of an XXL. But looking at my reflection, I realised that I’ve still got a long, long way to go.

Particularly so, when you consider that the Great North Bike Ride is 56 miles long, and outside today I’ve managed 17 miles. I’m sure on a sunny day in August, with 6 months training and weight loss under my belt, I’ll be in a better position. But for now, it’s a little demoralizing.

I deliberately haven’t attempted the 10 mile quest for a few weeks as I have been busy increasing distance up to most recently, 40 miles.

As the daughter needs picking up from school at 9 and I didn’t get home until nearly 7, I decided a short ride was needed – so a ten miler was in order. However, as I did 10 miles on Tuesday, and tonight is supposed to be an intermediate ride, I decided the faster ride was needed.

All throughout the ride I was monitoring my left knee, which has always been problematic. There were no twinges and no pain, so I continued to hammer out the ride, and completed it in 21 minutes 58 seconds, 6 seconds quicker than my previous best of 22 minutes and 4 seconds. This time I concentrated on maintaining a smooth cadence (somehwere around 85-86rpm) and maintaining a similar position on the bike throughout (in order to simulate a time trial).

Overall it was pretty pleasing, except knowing that Keith from KB Cycles does the same training ride in 18 minutes at a higher power.

Oh well…

…well, not for me!

My other half has cellulitis, so she is resting up and I’m doing most of the housework. I popped out to pick up some groceries, and there seemed to be a roadie on every street – all with their mudguards and Winter clothing on. Mainly, the riders I saw were old school, with their skinny steel frame road bikes and club jerseys and racing caps. I guess most modern roadies are precious about their bikes, as the roads are still wet, dirty and salty. Those that do have Winter rides would probably be out today, but not me. I was glad to be inside, dry, warm and on the turbo trainer.

The ride wasn’t comfortable, my backside hurt constantly, and my troublesome left knee gave me grief again. I’ll be honest, once it was over, I was pleased. I managed 36 miles, and along with all the housework, I am well and truly broken now. It’s a good start to the week thought, as I push to get more and more miles under my belt.

Also, it was really good to see Lance Armstrong back in competitive cycling. As the man who inspired me to get on the bike, I missed his career. I’ve read about it, watched the DVDs, and proudly sport a Livestrong yellow bracelet, but I feel like I missed out not being into the sport when he was competitive. I stopped watching the Tour de France somewhere between Miguel Indurain’s first and last Tour victory. He rode in the criterium in Australia today, and competes in the Tour Down Under starting Tuesday.

That’s it for now, the sofa and a cup of tea beckons.

…and for 3 good reasons.

1) I ripped my jeans outside playing football at lunch time at work (the kind of rip that doesn’t get unripped) so I needed some new jeans. I went to Asda, and fitted into a pair of size 38″ – a 2″ drop from the pair I ripped. When I started this weight loss, I was a 44″. That’s 6″ so far. It gave me a real boost.

2) I decided to start calorie counting. This isn’t going to be a scientific method of weight loss mind, just a rough guide for myself to monitor what is going in and what is getting burned off. It’s quite enlightening to see just how quickly a very basic diet adds up to 2000 calories.

3) When I was trying on my jeans, I saw my legs in the mirror. Now don’t get me wrong, they weren’t the legs of Alberto Contador staring back at me, but there is the makings of some definition in the upper leg. In particular, the muscle which I believe is called the Vastus Medialis (anoyone know for sure?) muscle is starting to take the shape of a cyclist’s!

These 3 things combined gave me the little boost I needed and wanted, and things seem to be back on track now. I’ve written a list, which I have called the “Yes List”, of foods which I am allowed. From these foods will come the mainstay of my diet:

Meats / Fish
Skinless chicken breasts
Turkey fillets
Salmon fillets
Tuna fillets
Rainbow trout
Cod fillets (not in breadcrumbs or batter)

Cereals and Breads
Wholemeal seeded bread
Wholemeal pitta
Brown Rice
Wholemeal pasta
Cous Cous
Granola Bar
Bran Flakes
All Bran

Fruit and Veg
Baked beans
Fresh Tomatoes
Jacket Potatoes

Flax seeds
Brazil Nuts

Green Tea
Black Tea
Fresh OJ

Even better news is that the Christmas weight is coming off – this morning I weighed 18 stone 7.6, just under a lb over my pre-Christmas low. This means I am now 3.6lbs off a loss of 4 stone. In addition to this, I am now up to 60 mile weeks – at least 30 on a Sunday, 10 on a Tuesday and 20 on a Thursday. My fat burning zone, typically 130bpm – 150bpm is harder to attain, requiring me to train at 20+ mph on the static training to achieve it, whereas before it could easily be attained at 16-17mph. Realistically, none of these figures actually mean anything other than for me to ensure I am within the fat burning zone, as the main aim is still to burn fat.

It’s been a good week, and I am looking forward to 2 rest days before pushing on to 36 miles on Sunday.

As quick as it came, it went.

Besides a plethora of new gadgets, chick flick DVDs that I will be forced to watch, and a Wii with all it’s wireless bits and bobs, Christmas left nothing but temptation. By boxing day, the pantry was full of biscuit selections, boxes of shortcake, After Eight Mints, Roses, mince pies, bars of chocolate, truffles, and a Thorntons’ selection box.

Christmas started for me when I went out for the work Christmas lunch. It was my intention to stick to my healthy lifestyle plan and continue my training as per normal.

Over the festive season I upped my distance rides to 33 miles, and had several short rides outside, getting myself used to the main roads and dealing with traffic, traffic lights and our crappy British road surfaces.

My healthy eating didn’t stay particularly healthy, well not all the time anyway. To be honest, at mealtimes I remained pretty restrained, and meal planning was still reasonably health conscious. However, the temptation of the aforementioned confectionary provided too much at times.

Now that we’re into the New Year, I am struggling to get back into the swing of things. Just the other day at work, one person brought in a biscuit selection box, one person a packet of chocolate digestives, one person a huge jar of jelly beans, and one person brought in 2 boxes of Jaffa Cakes. I mean, hardly considerate, is it?!

I have also slipped into the habit of drinking tea again, mainly because Suzy got some Christmas blend tea bags from M&S which I couldn’t resist. They’ve run out now, so it’s back to drinking black-currant tea, Chinese green tea, and juice. It’s important for me to keep hydrated, especially when I am doing lots of cycling. I am prone to headaches because of my job, so staying hydrated cuts out the chance of headaches due to dehydration.

It’s now the beginning of the second week of January, and I weighed just over 18 stone 7 this morning, but I had got as heavy as just under 18 stone 11. It isn’t that bad – one person at work has put on 6lbs over Christmas.

Tonight I rode 33 miles at 20mph on the trainer (while watching Panic Room) and I feel pretty fit. Now it’s time to get the festive season well and truly out of the way and start building up to the Great North Bike Ride distance while heading towards my weight loss targets.

Despite it being Christmas, and despite having allowed myself to indulge a little over the festive season, I got on my turbo trainer tonight and took over 3 minutes of my previous best 10 mile time.

My previous time was 25 minutes 40 seconds. Today, despite having eaten goose, M&S biscuits, jelly beans, After Eight mints and some other stuff I daren’t even mention, I did it in 22 minutes 4 seconds. The great thing for me is, I completed the 10 mile haul in an average of 25.5mph – or “evens” as time trialists call it.

Don’t get me wrong, I know this is on a static trainer and means nothing in the outside world. On a real bike on the road, you have to deal with body weight, wind resistance, bike handling and the elements. Therefore I am not for one minute comparing my time to a real time trial time, where under 24 minutes would be considered good.

It will be interesting to try 10 miles on the road and see how I go. But for now, I am pleased with my 22 minutes.

Christmas Food

I knew the Christmas period would be difficult. All those mince pies, shortcake petticoat tails, Quality Streets and 4 course meals were always going to make training and weight loss difficult.

For example, we had our Christmas lunch the other day at the Coquetdale Hotel in Rothbury, and there simply wasn’t any healthy choices to be had. In the end I opted for chicken liver pate for starter, roast pork with garlic mash and seasonal vegetables, followed by profiteroles, mine pie and coffee. Yeah, I enjoyed it. However, there was something totally unappealing about feeling bloated and tired from a big meal – a feeling I used to love.

Since then I’ve had a constant seasonal battle, trying to avoid the pantry at all costs knowing what food is in there. All my favourites can be found in there, After Eight mints, mince pies, shortcake and various snacky rubbish.

Despite all this, I’ve still managed to post a weight loss – I’m down to 18 stone 6lbs and 9oz.

An outdoor ride

It’s that time of year again, so mum and dad are here staying with us. After 2 weekends of excuses (I mean, as if jet lag and flu is a reason not to go out in the cold on a bike ride) mum finally plucked up the courage to go out on a ride with me. It was cold, windy and to top it all off, mum got a flat. But regardless of that, we still managed 13 miles (half of it into a head wind). It’s only the second time I’ve been out of my Burls titanium road bike, and after weeks of sitting on the turbo trainer, the feeling of being outside is truly sensational. The one thing you notice is how quickly your hands, arms and bum tire, mainly because on the trainer these body parts don’t take the hammering they do outside.

But still, it was a lot of fun. Mum enjoyed getting to know her bike, and I enjoyed riding with someone.

27.5 miles

Last night, not really feeling up to doing anything after a grueling day’s Christmas shopping (have you ever tried dragging an unwilling 10 year old around both Tesco and Asda in search of Christmas gifts) I climbed onto the trainer hoping to put in some big miles. I’ve been told to increase my distance by 1% each time, and 1% of 25 miles is 2.5 miles, which is 27.5 miles.

After 5 miles, I had already begun to think about shortening the ride to a normal 12-15 miler. But as I went out at the weekend with mum instead of doing my distance ride, I decided to stick with it and see where it went, at the risk of detraining and gaining weight with Xmas food. When 20 miles came, I knew I just had to do another 7.5 miles to make distance. Trainers will tell you it’s the last mile, or the last couple of repetitions that makes all the difference. With that in mind, miles 23 onwards hurt. Even “Pirates of the Caribean” on the DVD player didn’t take my mind of my numbing body parts and my aching left knee, ankle and wrists.

After making 27.5 miles, walking suddenly became an issue as my legs had turned to jelly. I’ll be aiming for an recovery ride either today or tomorrow, to shake the stiffness out.

2 mountain bikes

As part of Suzy’s Christmas presents, I have got her a Trek mountain bike. It’s only a 3900, just something to get her out and cycling again. I am planning on taking her down to my little cycle track on Christmas day to get her used to the bike. It’s quite a nice little bike, in her favourite blue with an aluminum frame, Suntour suspension fork and a mixture of Shimano, Bontrager and SRAM bits.

Suzy's little blue mountain bike

Suzy's little blue mountain bike

In addition to this, I have reserved myself a 2007 Trek Fuel EX6 full suspension mountain bike. It has an alumnium frame, Rockshox Tora fork, Rockshox rear shock, and a mixture of SRAM, LX, Deore and XT bits. It’s my first ever full suspension bike, the most boing I’ve had before was a pair of Manitou forks on my old Cannondale mountain bike.

James' fully sprung Trek

James' fully sprung Trek

I should be getting it something next year, but there’s no rush until I’ve lost more weight. Both the Treks are coming from KB Cycles in Newburn, Newcastle. Keith and Paddy are always happy to help, and if you live in the North East, I’d recommend giving them a call if you want a Trek, Orbea or Scott bike.

Well that’s about it. Hopefully I can make it through Christmas without pigging out and start January at least the same weight I am now! Happy Christmas everyone!