Archives for category: GT

Wow, it’s been ages since I wrote to you all, that’s crap, I’m sorry.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, and I didn’t ride the bike between 19th August and 1st September, leaving my August stats at about the same point they were when I last updated you.


128 miles in a month from an almost standing start isn’t bad, but given that the vast majority were earned in 13 days, it does feel like a low total for a whole month.  The break in cycling was caused by a work trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco for five days (made bearable by a free upgrade to British Airways First Class), then a weekend away with the family (and jet lag) followed by another couple of days out of the country in Europe, then my wife had to go to Switzerland for a couple of days, leaving me holding the baby! Sheer exhaustion was a major factor and by the end of August I was feeling tired and grumpy, and stagnant.

September hit hard and I was itching to take the first available opportunity to get out. Saturday 1st September greeted me with glorious sunshine streaming in through the bedroom window.

It took me 25 minutes to find all my kit, bottles, little white socks etc, but soon I was ready. I set out on the shortish 6 mile loop I’ve done a few times now, but it only took 25 mins or so, and I was in a zone where I was really enjoying the ride, and not suffering a great deal, so I decided to turn right, instead of left, and add on the Hever Castle loop I’ve done previously.

Mindful of my recent bonking incident I’d purchased some HIGH5 energy gel plus‘s, and necked one in Hever Castle’s car park, rather than waiting until a point where I’d run out of energy.  The gel was VILE, quite simply horrible stuff (not at all like the Vanilla Bean Gu I’d been able to try recently, which was delicious), I really can’t describe how nasty these things are. I will not be buying them again and will stump up for the Gu shots. YMMV. That said, they’re effective and I’ve taken a few now, and avoided gagging for the most part.

The route was lovely, mottled shadows from the trees, and nice rolling hills. yes, nice hills. I’ve completely revamped my riding style recently, and am making sure that I am riding well within myself, including changing down to the granny ring before starting an ascent, rather than when I ‘run out of knees’. I’m finding this hugely sustainable and my average speed hasn’t dropped one little bit!

I was home in 1 hour, 10 mins, and cycled a total of 16 miles, another target bites the dust! The garmin, with heart rate monitor shows me using just over 1,110 calories for the ride as well, which I’m rather pleased with.


If you click on the image it should take you through to the activity detail. I prefer this link as Strava only credits me with around 550 calories. Boo!  I think I’ll start to explore variations on this route, taking in Bough Beech reservoir at some point in the near future, despite the fact that it’s likely to be a solid wall of ‘up’ as it’s set against the infamous Toy’s Hill.

The Tachyon is long overdue for it’s 6 week service, and this is beginning to show. My front brake is really only for show at the moment, and the front deraileur is rubbing a bit, but leaving the house at 6:45am and returning at 7:30pm is not conducive to cycle shop opening hours, along with too many weekends away. I may need to suck it up and drive all the way to the office with the bike in the back in order to take it to a LBS which in reality isn’t all that close to anywhere useful to me.

No weight update as I’ve still yet to shift any. As a result I have pledged to cut my wine intake significantly, as I really don’t need to drink as much as I find myself doing out of habit of an evening.


I am rewriting this as best as I can, sadly, earlier today, my previous post of this title was lost forever. WordPress ate it. I hope this is a suitable substitute.

It’s been a great couple of weeks for me and cycling and yesterday, quarter of a mile before the end of my evening cycle commute I hit the big one – 100 miles in August. It’s taken me 13 days to crack and I’m very proud of my achievement.

I know some out there could cycle that in a single morning, but they probably weigh about as much as my leg, and have probably been riding seriously for some time…

Here’s the Garmin stats for August, as of this morning (including my morning commute)

I’ve not yet lost any weight, and remain 140kg or so, despite the whacking 8,000 calories Garmin (using the heart rate monitor) says I’ve burnt, I put this down to a good weekend with good friends with meals out, and hope to see some significant improvement soon.

Other metrics I’m pretty please with include my heart rate, I topped out at 190bpm on my first ride, and now barely get to 170bpm when I’m putting some good effort in, and my average has come down significantly and quickly (this mornings commute averaged 133bpm for example) and I’m enjoying learning about heart-rate zones.

Aside from my commuting miles I spent much of the weekend doing bike related things of one sort or another.  Friday saw us collect my wife’s bike from the store, and have a cycle carrier fitted to the roof of the Land Rover (meaning that the boys clothes and nappies could join us on journeys making use of the reclaimed space). Great for taking two bikes away as we plan to do in the Lake District next month. I do need step ladders to get the bikes up there though, the roof bars are 2.2 meters off the ground without a bike in them!

On Saturday we had a “Family Trial Run”, just 5 miles or so around the local area, but incorporating a killer short incline (for me anyway) from the beautiful Haxted Mill, just down the road from us (literally, we live on the same road). We decided to include a pub visit to grab a sandwich and made a stop at the Old Eden, which has been a pub for 150 years, with part of the building clocking in at over 600 years old. Apologies to There and Back Again for a lack of historical marker photo, but none really exist over here. I will make an official recommendation to Downing Street as I’m sure it would make this blog more interesting.

The boy enjoyed cycling so much that he promptly fell asleep, with his helmet at quite a jaunty angle over his face. He doesn’t need a helmet at the moment as he’s cocooned in the seat, but we’re trying to get him used to it, and make the association automatic. I’m not sure the look would catch on anyway…

Sunday saw me take on a more aggressive sort of ride, with my Brother-in-Law on his Specialized Secteur Sport.  He’s the sort of chap who likes to attack every ride, but thankfully stayed with me at a slightly slower pace (he averages 20mph on his 8 mile commute).  We were cycling from his house near Epsom to my father-in-laws in Old Isleworth, a fairly straight forward ride, with a nice cut-through of Richmond Park.  We were able to use his local knowledge to take some of the quieter back roads to Kingston Gate, when he posed a question “How’d you fancy a lap of the park?”. Knowing I’d slowed him considerably I couldn’t very well say no, so off we set. It’s quite a hilly park and at exactly 10 miles, 168 feet into the ride I bonked at the top of a hill, which Strava assures me hits 12.8% for about 3 feet near the top. I couldn’t go on, my legs were screaming and I’d run out of go. You can see it at about 46 minutes here (anyone know why this doesn’t embed??)

Luckily I had an energy gel with me, which I quickly gulped down with some water, and after a couple of minutes I was ready to go. It’s all about nutrition I think, you have to put fuel in the tank to make it work. That morning I’d had a couple of poached eggs, with Smoked Salmon and 2 slices of toast, and, it obviously wasn’t enough. At the time of the bonking Garmin told me that I’d already whipped through about 700 calories, way more than i’d eaten in the morning. The whole ride burned almost 900 calories (one of the benefits of being the size i am is that you provide your own resistance training). Given that I’m trying to lose weight, eating more seems counter intuitive, but in reality needs to be a consideration. Naturally this isn’t such an issue on my shorter commutes.

Another highlight of the ride was watching a heavily-antlered deer run across the road 30 yards in front of us, and narrowly missing another cyclist. We looked around for the infamous Richmond Park regular, Fenton, but couldn’t see him.

One thing I need to keep an eye on is the pain I’m starting to get in my knee, I suspect this is plain old overwork, and I intend to cycle through it where possible. I know rest-days are optimal, but I have a week of enforced rest next week when I travel to LA and San Francisco for work, and am keen to get all the miles I can in before I go). I’m going to take an ibuprofen pill before rides and maybe apply voltarol gel, knowing that there’s a lot of recovery available next week.

A worry about the travel is the shocking lack of willpower I have, and the shocking quantity of food served by restaurants in the USA.  Something I’ll have to deal with on-the-day.

Until then, I’m going to work on changing the scales.

Despite my back being much better I really can’t bring myself to go out on the road for the first time during the pouring rain, I’ve never had a problem riding in the rain in the past, I just don’t want it to be the Tachyon’s inaugural ride.

I suspect there’s also a deeper fear at work, still not totally comfortable with the clip less pedals, and, you know, what if I’m just too unfit to even get a couple of miles?

I’m up to around 30 mins on the trainer now in the lounge, so think I’m getting on ok – I’m certainly extending my times each time I get on the bike. Like the rest of the UK I’m praying for a break in the weather.

Still not nailed my food intake, my self control is a real issue and it’s beginning to get me down.

I thought now might be a good opportunity to run through the kit I’ve bought or already owned that I’ll be using as part of my new ‘regime’

Let’s start with the biggie, the GT. I’ve linked to their website so you can see the full specs. It’s a ‘Fitness bike’, ‘flat bar road bike’ or alternatively just a ‘hybrid’.  Reasonably skinny tyres (32mm) , though not the thinnest or slickest, road bike gearing and some killer looks courtesy of the striking tube geometry and shapes. This was bought new.

Next up, the Garmin Edge 500. This is considered an entry level GPS receiver in the cycling world, and as such is more than adequate for my needs. It uses satellites to tell you how far, how fast and how high you’ve climbed; as well as linking to a heart rate monitor to show you calories, heart-rate zones and training levels. It also tells you the temperature for some reason.  It’s far from basic, but I’m a sucker for a statistic. It also connects to the computer and produces lovely maps and charts for you to share with your friends. This was bought new

The turbo trainer. I went for the Elite Mag Force Elastogel trainer after advice from relatives. It’s got 5 difference resistance settings, which can be controlled from the handlebar mount; it’s magnetic resistance which means it’s smooth and quiet, and the elastogel coating on the roller means it’s quieter and should shred the road going tyres. It’s quiet enough to use in the living room with my wife watching something on the box nearby, and it’s orange, which is cool. This was bought new

I wanted Shimano SPDs as they’re a product I’m familiar with from a previous, fitter life. I didn’t want anything too ‘try hard’ in this department though, so I went for MTB style shoes, not from the linked website, I found them cheaper and was able to include them in the Cycle to work voucher meaning a nice fat discount. Naturally I also had to buy the pedals, but you probably know what these look like, so no pic for those!

Saddle bag, you’ve got to keep the kit somewhere! I already had this Topeak Aero Wedge, so just swapped it from my old bike. Good bag, cheap price, plenty of storage.

You’re going to need Tyre levers and a puncture repair solution, punctures are a fact of life when you’re on a bike, especially when you weigh over 20 stone. I use these.



A multitool is a great thing, my one even has a chain tool on it, I bought this MAXbike gooj new as an upgrade to my original which was looking worse-for-wear.

If you cycle in London you really should wear a helmet, there’s too many idiots on the road. I bought this Bell cycling helmet a year ago during a Halfords two for one offer on all cycling equipment.

Another special from Halfords was the gloves, basic, but they do add a degree of comfort over a long distance.

Shorts were bought at a French supermarket, a complete bargain. Padded lyrca, all you could need.

When you’re doing some distances, you need some glasses to keep wildlife, spray and stones out of your eyes. DON’T buy cycling specific ones, really. Mine were £12 from toolstation.

I’m a big lad, so I sweat. I had a wicking layer that I use for hiking, it works just as well on the bike, I think it was about £10. Not from Millets but this link gives you an idea. It keeps me cool, goes under a t-shirt nicely and stops bits rubbing


I have also opted for another safety item, a Road ID. I ordered mine from the USA two weeks ago and it arrived yesterday, barely over £10 for a personalised, quality piece of kit, including shipping. If you cycle alone over long distances then it really is a no-brainer, get one of these made up. I went for the wrist ID Sport, which I wear when motorcycling as well.

You need one.


Finally, mudguards. After seeing some feedback and variable reviews I went for a quick-fix option, that can be removed from the bike in seconds.  These are incredibly innovative and no real downsides as they’re not a ‘permanent’ solution.


That’s about it, I’ll probably review the newer bits as time goes on, and swap things as necessary. I also carry two spare tubes at all times, *just in case*.

Happy travels.

17 minutes and 32 seconds on the trainer tonight.

I was hoping to get out on the bike on the open road for the first time, but Aunty Beeb lied about the weather (so much so that I got drenched on the motorcycle commute on the way home having neglected waterproofs) and there was no way my beautiful Tachyon was going to get *that* dirty on day one.

I’m using my phone to time rides when I’m inside as the Garmin demands satellites before doing anything, including heart rate. Any elegant solution suggestions welcome.


As my back is getting better, and has always been ok in cycling posture, I wanted to jump on the turbo trainer yesterday and get some ‘miles’ in whilst working from home (which is essentially off sick but still working – I work for a very small consultancy and am never really “off” even on holiday).

I adjusted the saddle forward 1 cm, and tilted the front up a hair’s breadth (remembering my earlier tail pipe discomfort) and jumped on, far more comfortable and natural feeling than before, I was also wearing my padded cycling shorts which no doubt helped a touch.  Popped something on the TV from the V+ (DVR) box that I knew my wife wouldn’t want to watch, I am a thoughtful soul, and started pedaling. Fairly steady and slow to ease myself in and not overtax my unfit and painful body.

I suspect I managed 5 minutes before citing boredom and getting on with some work. Despite there being an interesting programme on the box.

Later on in the day I tried again, this time I would time myself and set some goals (different gears for 60 seconds, up and down the sprocket), more interesting. I managed 7 minutes 40 seconds.

I started to think of the Sufferfest films which i’ve heard bandied around the internet, and how this seemed to motivate people, so went through the TV guide suspecting that as the Tour de France starts on Saturday that I might be able to watch some TdF related programming – I struck lucky and ESPN Classic (a channel I didn’t even know existed, let alone featured on my channel list) were showing the 2009 Paris stage that Mark Cavendish won; followed by the epic Mount Ventoux stage when Pantani swept from way down the field to pip Armstrong at the line in 2000.  That’ll do.

When the time came I got myself set up, and pedalled away in front of the TV again. Not trying to emulate what I was watching, just cranking away. When I started to feel a bit “done” I thought about what I was watching, the break-aways on the mountain after a 4 hour slog, and how pathetic I was being after just a few minutes in the comfort of my living room.

When I really could do no more I shocked myself, I’d managed 40 minutes, worked up an awesome sweat and felt pretty good about myself.

I can’t wait to get outside, but until I’m confident that my back wont let me down, miles from home this seems to be the best option.  The channel is doing the same again tonight, and I suspect you’ll find me mounted on my Tachyon steed. On that note, the bike needs a nick-name; answers on a postcard.


And this is it.

You can catch-up on the back story on the “about” page, but this is day one of the next part of my story. I weigh in at almost 22 stone and almost 140kgs.

I’m hoping that this blog will inspire me to continue and not find it easier to sit back on the sofa when I could be doing something better for my future, that of my baby son and my wife.

Along the way there’ll probably be lots of Stats

  • myfitnesspal tells me that at lunchtime today I ate 750cal, taking me to a total of 1240 for the day so far, of which 56% has been carbs, 20% fat and 24% protein.
  • My BMI today is 39.9
  • My weight today is 138.4kg
  • My BMR is around 2,800-3,000 depending on source

I daresay weight, mileage and anything else that springs to mind will feature as well.

I finally found a use for that DIY book

I picked the bike up yesterday, not had a chance to have it out on the road yet, but managed to get 15mins on the turbo before Mrs. Orange got home.  I’ve added SPDs and getting the cleats onto the shoes was a mission in itself, let alone learning to ride with them following the mantra of “learn to get your weaker foot in and out, then you’re getting the power down with the stronger leg”.

Drawing inspiration from (and possibly plaigiarising from) Gaz and Toby I’m adding small goals, that are achievable, rather than saying from the outset that I want to lose 8 stone (which I do). I’ll cross these off as I complete them. I shall also be adding goals completed in the past, my last cycling career, that seem a long way off for me at the moment.