Monday, 31 May 2010

Stuff From This Week

I kind of fell off the wagon this past week & up until yesterday have done no exercise at all.

Saturday - went for a nice bike ride with Ben (already posted about that)
Sunday - drove down to Cornwall & ate heartily
Monday - ate all freaking day and night
Tuesday - drove back to Reading with the worst back pain ever
Wednesday - back to work. worked late
Thursday - worked late again
Friday - managed to get the tender submission finished. Not a bad one either at £1.2m
Saturday - shopping in the morning & spent virtually all afternoon preparing the evening meal. It took so long as I was making it up as I went along, but turned out really great.
Sunday - Ben & I cycled down to the town via the Kennet & Avon Canal towpath; a really nice ride, and bought him a new mobile phone to replace the one 'someone' (yes I'm looking at you Mrs Sausage!) managed to put through the washing machine & tumble dryer. The insurance company wouldn't pay up even though we lied so sod paying that again. Bought stuff for dinner but my home made ratatouille wasn't as good as normal.
Today - overcast & breezy. May go for a ride later on but I could do with spending some time tidying & sorting things out here.

Oh and I've been scoping out e-bay listings for racing bicycles.
I bid on two over the course of this week, both Carrera Tour de France models which look quite nice. One finished yesterday which went for £225.00. The max I was prepared to bid was £160.00 - yes I am tight! The other one is this one but it doesn't look as nice & its a slightly larger frame at 52cm so I'm thinking it might be a little too big for me and I don't think I'll bother bidding any more on it. I may change my mind if it ultimately looks like its going cheap though.

This week I MUST get more exercise in as last week with no exercise and all that food must have really buggered up my weight.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Back from Cornwall

Yes that's right, back home again, or rather at work again. Got back yesterday evening after a punishing drive preceded by 2 days of gluttony - and I mean we ate a helluva lot. Had a fantastic time though, and it was the best wedding ever.

I'm still trying to sort out the photo's and video, both of this and the ride we did at the weekend so I will post up further details in a while. For now its back to work.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Uploading Video & Weigh In

Doing these video's is confuddling! I gather YouTube only allows a max 100mb file and a max 10 minutes video. That means our bike ride video would need to be cut into...umm...loads of smaller videos. That's crap (plus I'm not so sure how to do it anyway).

So I can't upload any video tonight as I'm going to have to read up on how to do these things with Windows Movie Maker. Sorry. I just watched it all through and the first bit isn't "great" as I had the camera pointed too far down really. Looks like a handlebar mount may be a better solution. Having said that, there are some good bits, but Id like to upload it all so family can also see it.

On another negative note, I put on weight this week. I knew it was going to happen as I haven't been on the exercise bike once and had some bad meals, but its still a blow. 219lbs. Tomorrow we go out with family for a meal, then we're staying in a hotel for 2 nights with complimentary full English breakfast, then theres the wedding on Monday with a large BBQ afterwards plus an evening thing afterwards....I am looking at some serious temptation.

Oh God just thinking of those full English breakfasts is making me drool. Its been sooo many years since I had one. Plus I found this article HERE which is quite good at explaining the calories.

I particularly like these lines: "This kind of breakfast is acceptable once in a while, if the rest of your diet is well balanced," and "Have your egg poached and choose wholemeal toast over fried bread. If you have reasonable portions of bacon, sausage and egg and load up on mushrooms, baked beans and tomatoes, a cooked breakfast can provide a really nutritious, well-balanced start to the day."

Woohoo I'll have 2 then!

Saturday Ride

Ben & I have just come back from a lovely bike ride along the Kennet & Avon Canal which is part of National Cycle Route 4.

I had looked a possible circular route of about 6 miles up on Google Maps but we either missed the turning or (more likely) the map is old and the turn off is no longer there. Anyway we ended up at a road with a pub on the other side so we did what men do...went and had a drink in the beer garden. It was fantastic, both the ride and the drink :)

After we had quenched our thirst we headed back the way we came hoping to find the damned turn off again but without success. We did make a detour but it wasn't the way we thought we'd go and arrived back home having done a not too bad 8.37 miles. A very hot day today.

I'm downloading the video of it all to my HDD right now but it needs pruning etc as its quite large and probably pretty boring. I might get it uploaded today or it might take a few days as we are going away to Cornwall tomorrow until Tuesday.

Hope everyone has as good a weekend as we are having.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Alcohol Free Lager

As some of you may know, I'm diabetic and as I only have a small part of my Pancreas left after the surgeons nicked it, I cannot drink alcohol. I never used to be a big drinker anyway, and even then it was only really lager shandy, however if there's one thing I miss its a cool lager during the summer.

A lot of pubs dont stock alcohol free beer, and I've tried a few makes from the supermarkets which were really crap. However I bought some bottles of Becks Blue alcohol free lager a year ago and today in the heat I thought I'd have one out of the fridge.

......sheer.....heavenly....nectar of the gods!

I tell you what guys; until you've done without lager for as long as I have, you have no idea what you're missing, and as soon as I popped the cap on that bottle today and took my first glug.....ahhhhh! It was just like proper lager. Even the smell. I swear you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

No Cycling & Being a Fat Boy

Tuesday & Wednesday off, beautiful weather both days, but absolutely gutted I haven't cycled once.

We had the scaffolders round to stick up their stuff, then one gas bloke came around to strip out the old boiler (not the wife) & put a new on in, then another came and then for a short period another, then an electrician, and all the time I had to move stuff out of the way, relocate, relocate. That was Tuesday, culminating at about 6pm when they said there was a problem with the new boiler and it wouldn't work properly but there was no more they could do.

So this morning I got a call to tell me that the manufacturer (Bosch) was coming round to sort it out, but they cant come until tomorrow when I'm at work. I waited in for the scaffolders to come and take their stuff down but they still haven't come. On the plus side having it up gave me the opportunity to clear out the gutters and (hopefully) fix a couple of minor leaks that happen when it rains, then I built a new side garden gate & Cuprinol stained it. I was sweating buckets out there today.

Ben & I were planning to go out for a ride after he finished school, but I was feeling bushed and he'd just had double P.E so he was tired so we didn't go. Plus I had to finish painting / staining the gate. I've still got to fix it on and replace the gate post but that's for another weekend.

By the time we'd tidied up after the installers last night it was too late to cook dinner so I gave in to the rest of the family's wishes and went to Pizza Hut for some take aways. I was bad...very bad! I felt like a stuffed apricot afterwards and no way could I go on the exercise bike. Tonight we had Chili & what with that and today's antics I'm not in an exercise bike frame of mind at all. I dare not weigh myself.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Recipe: Best Stir Fry Sauce Ever

Last Sunday I made a stir fry. I have a number of recipe's that I do but when you get down to the basics, they are all pretty much the same (noodles, meat & veg). So rather than posting the whole recipe, heres the fantastic sauce - well marinade really - I make, which in my opinion is critical to a good stir fry.

0.5 of a cup of BBQ sauce - I use Heinz BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce - I use the "Light" variety
2 teaspoons of crushed / powdered Ginger

Mix all of the above together in a bowl and thats it. I then usually chop up chicken breast and put it in the bowl, mix it all together, seal it and leave it in the fridge for at least half an hour. When you're ready, stir fry the lot in a pan. You can work out the vegetables and noodles yourself!

While I'm at it, another thing I find really great for stir fry's is my "Nicer Dicer" which is brilliant for chopping carrots into tiny batons the ideal size for stir fry's. If you haven't got one then for the cost of them they are well worth the few pounds they cost.

...but the sauce is pure win for all my family.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Monday Morning Cheer-up

Its a Monday so we have a god given right to feel depressed. 5 days of slavery until we can have our own lives back again. On the other hand, we can cheer ourselves up, even for a little bit, which is what happened to me when I saw this on YouTube this morning.

Come on say that didn't make you smile!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

More Video Testing & Weekend Antics

Very busy weekend.
On Saturday after dropping my wife to work Ben & I carried on into town as I have to get a new shirt and tie for my niece's forthcoming wedding. My big problem with shirts is that I have a 19.5" neck. I've had a large neck ever since I can remember and so consequently every shirt I own I have never been able to do the top button up on, only rely on the tie to hold it all together.

The last time I bothered to buy one that fitted around the neck was probably a decade ago, and I had to buy it in "High and Mighty", a clothes shop which tells you what they sell simply by the name. The problem with buying shirts there is that okay the neck fits, but the shirt is like a spinnaker sail on me. Any strong gust of wind and I'm history, however its usually the best I can get.

We parked in the Rivermead car park, one exit of which took us through Debenhams department store, and guess what they had on a 25% reduction sale? Yep - shirts. We managed to find the only two which had 20" necks - not ideal as I'd rather have another 1" to play safe with, but I can suffer a few hours at a wedding if need be. Also on sale were some really nice ties, so I bought two of those as well as they were also on 25% off.

Of course we also trolled the other major shops in the hope that we could find some more but we were out of luck. If I had anything below a 17.5" neck I'd be in shirt heaven. All I'd buy would be shirts all weekend...sigh!

On the way back to the car, we passed "Pret A Manger" (I had to look up the spelling on the web), or as I call it, "Pretty Manky" but Ben said that they do really nice crisps there so I asked if he wanted to get some and have a cuppa, to which (for a change) he answered with a yes. Ben had a cup of tea, me a latte, we shared a chocolate covered brunch bar and he shared some of his chilli flavoured crisps. Not letting the moment go to waste, I pulled out the little Muvi camera and proceeded to embarrass him:

After that we came home, had lunch, I assembled the composter in the garden and cleared a space for it, then prepared a fresh Minestrone soup - and damned good it was too, really thick with fresh vegetables, then we have to go for the weekly food shop in Morrison's.

Today the weather has turned sour. I had planned to build a new garden side gate to replace the rotten one & if time allowed we were to go for a short 5-6 mile ride. As I look out the window now its bucketing down, so neither are possible. All I've managed to do constructive is to fix Ben's bedroom light and marinade the chicken & baton the carrots ready for my sooper dooper stir fry tonight.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Weekly Weigh In

A day or so early with this, but I figured what with all of the exercise bike miles I've been doing this week (nearly 35.5 miles) and that this may be a busy weekend I'd not lose or gain much by doing the scales earlier.

Last week = 218.4lb (15.6st)
This week = 217.6lb (15.5st)

To say I'm disappointed is putting it mildly - I am totally gutted. I've slogged my balls off on that sodding exercise bike this week, eaten properly, no bad stuff, and admittedly generally felt better for it, but to only lose a poxy 0.8lb after all that is shattering.

I just cant think of what more I could do. Oh sure its still weight loss, despite the low number, and that's better than gain, and at the end of the day I am doing this to lose weight and you can't rush these things, but still I was positive that I would lose my highest number this week as its the most continued exercise Ive done since my teens, and for me it was quite exhausting work.

I won't give up, but I have to admit that the thought did cross my mind briefly as I got off the scales this morning. Not bloody happy though!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Muvi Camera Review

Amazon UK came good today and I took delivery of all of the ordered items at once, even though they came from 3 different companies Amazon uses. I only chose normal delivery so wasn't expecting the camera to arrive until Friday at best, and Monday at worst.

Packages received:
1 x Muvi Mini DV camera
1 x Extreme Sports Kit
1 x 8Gb Micro SD card

Video Camera
The Muvi camera I purchased is a really quality piece of kit, well packaged & neatly presented. The camera itself has an aluminium case and feels good - not cheap tack, and measures about 2" tall x 3/4" wide x 1/2" deep. The Micro SD card slots in the side (you get a 2Gb card in the box but I ordered separately an 8Gb card which is the max it will take) & there is a mini USB port on the bottom for plugging into your PC for downloading the video and/or charging the camera. On the left side is an on/off slide switch and to the opposite side is the voice activation on/off switch.

To the top of the camera resides the pause/record push button, all of the switches have a very positive feel to them and don't give the impression of any slackness of ability to miss-press which could have lead to them breaking over time. Also on the top is a small recessed indicator LED which changes colour or state depending on what it needs to tell you about recording/pausing/battery life/etc. Next to this are 3 small holes which are probably for the voice activation and I suspect also house the microphone - at least I could see no other place for the mic input.

The top front of the camera simply holds the fixed focus lens and at the back is a small eyelet hole for attaching the supplied lanyard is you desire. The case itself is in the form of a "bathtub" rear with a plastic collar/seal around the rim and then the front cover. I can see 2 small screws through the plastic seal so I assume it is all held together via these and internal clips, so again a good impression of quality is given.

Inside the box you also get:
A clip-on attachment which holds the camera very tightly and allows you to clip it all to your pocket, belt, etc
A USB to mini USB cable of about 1.5m length
A USB to mini USB adaptor
A software utilities CD
Soft carry case
2Gb Micro SD card
Instruction booklet
Option accessories sheet
The camera arrived out of the box fully charged so I could play with it straight away which was nice. I took this short film of the floor at my office (I'm the one holding the camera so you can't see me really. I'll have to practice my film making skills!

Extreme Sports Pack
Amazon UK seem to sell exactly the same pack from 2 or 3 different sellers at different prices. Naturally I went with the cheapest vendor, however having seen what you get inside the box I'm not so sure it was really worth the trouble getting it. I'll evaluate it when I get to fixing the camera to the bike or helmet. I may have been better spending more and going for the "Pro Handlebar Mount" & be done with it.

Inside the box you get:
Weatherproof rubber case*
Cloth/velcro arm carry strap
Yet another soft carry case
Yet another clip-on attachment for your pocket, belt, etc
A wall mounting bracket on a ball joint
A hinged bracket mount - obviously for the helmet or handlebar mounting
Velcro fixing straps

Firstly there is no way the rubber case is weatherproof. It has an opening in it for every port, switch and the lens as well as the open ended top for the camera to slip inside it. The fit is well, but all it probably does is offer a degree of protection to the camera case. Veho do sell as an extra a 10m depth waterproof case if this is required. Oh and you cant use the brackets and clips if the camera is in the case!

If you are buying this to fit to your car dashboard, the hinged bracket mount looks like the one to use however what you don't get is any way to fix it to a flat surface, such as adhesive tabs or screws.
I'm not quite sure as to the practicality of the arm strap as unless you have terminal rigor-mortise you're either going to point it the wrong way or move your arm so much that the viewer will get sea sick before he catches a glimpse of the object of the film.

Micro SD Card
I chose the cheapest 8Mb card I could find on Amazon. Probably part of the saving they pass on is due to it coming loose without a case. On opening the envelope I got a receipt slip folded in 4 and inside that was the loose SD card. As these things are small enough to get lost when you sneeze without even considering accidental damage, I wasn't greatly impressed at the ethnic packaging, but it seems to work okay. Not a lot else to say about it.

I think this is going to be a brilliant addition to the blogging and to our enjoyment of cycling. Audio could be better but really what can you expect from a camera as small as this? I think the safest bet will be to strap it to my handlebars as I can then get at it to pause/play rather than attaching it to the crash helmet. It may get a bit more vibration, but that I can live with I think.

Oh and I did another 10 miles on the exercise bike tonight before dinner. Thats a total so far this month of 41.6 miles. I'm trying my hardest to get that goal of losing 2lb's in a week for this Sunday after just missing it last week.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Exercise Bike Miles II

Mini update & more goals complete.

Once again I got home from work tonight and did 10 miles on the exercise bike before dinner

It was tougher tonight. By the five mile mark I was more tired than yesterday and was going to stop at 6 miles, then I carried on up to 8 miles somehow and finally stopped at 10 miles but more bushed & sweating harder. This is a good thing I guess as the more sweat, the more weight I'm losing.

I get through about a bottle of water while I'm cycling. Takes me roughly 30 minutes to do 10 exercise bike miles.

Just realised I cracked another one of my goals, which is to do 30 cumulative miles on the bike. If I can do another session on it tomorrow then I crack another goal - to do 3 nights on the trot on the bike.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Exercise Bike Miles

Mini update

Got home from work tonight around 7.30pm and did 10 miles on the exercise bike before having dinner (chilli con carne...yummy)

I counted 23 revolutions per 0.1 mile & the digital display read a fairly constant 18.1 mph.

Ben sat next to me as I was cycling and told me about his day and various other things which really made the miles go a lot quicker. Thanks Ben :)

The Bike Tree

This is sheer genius.

I was browsing the web looking for some plans for an extension to my garden shed as there's not enough room to swing a maggot in there & with the bikes its a nightmare, so a small bike shed would do me on the back really nicely. Anyway I came across the above link to an old Guardian video blog and watched it.

At the end they even show a small side bit to the stairs where you can put your bike on a travellator to help it up - another bit of well thought through engineering.

Now as a way off suggestion with the bike tree parking thing, how about strapping one of the little code chips to your annoying kid and slotting him inside for an hour or so while you have a nice coffee and cake lol.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Riders Collective Magazine

My good friend Stout - catch his blog here - has found a new online cycling magazine called the Riders Collective

It aims to be a "cyclist's source for some of the best material on the Web....dozen stories—about cycling, by cyclists, and for cyclists—from New Zealand, Australia, Czech Republic, Tunisia, and all across America. They cover a wide range of riding styles—and a wide range of writing styles as well...."

Check it out.

EDIT: oops I almost forgot to mention that the latest issue of The Guardian Bike Podcast is available to download here

Additional Tab

Added an "About Me" tab at the top to give a bit of a better profile and history of myself than the stuff in the right hand column.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Weekly Weigh In


Take a ganders at the weight chart (the tabs at the top of the page). Just weighed myself.

218.4lb (15.6st)

Funny really as I didn't think I'd really pressed myself yesterday, and I know from a sneek peek on the scales midway through the week that it was on the up again so this is amazing news for me.

If I can keep this trend going then I can print off the chart to show the diabetic doctors at the end of the month when I go for my next appointment. Trouble is theres my nieces wedding 2 days before that appointment!

Sister if you read this, I want vegetarian everything there ok? Even vegetarian wedding cake.

EDIT: Damn - realised I've just narrowly missed out on my goal of losing 2lb in a week.

Goring Ride It - Completed!

Yesterday morning was the dawn of the Evans Cycles Ride It off road event near Goring. When I got up the sky was overcast and it was drizzling with rain, so I was in two minds whether we should go or not, then my willpower kicked in and I said "sod it lets go for it" and woke Ben up. It was a push to get everything ready for the start at 8.30am but as it turned out there were staged starts and we made the (approx) 9.30 group start. By then the rain had mostly stopped, although it was a little cold and windy.

The entrance to the event

The start tent with electronic tagging timer mat inside

There only seemed to be 2 young boys on the event; one who was obviously a few years older than Ben and was on a full size bike, and another younger than Ben who was on one of those mono-wheeled tow bar things behind his dads bike, so in essence Ben was the youngest solo rider there. Everyone seemed to have spanking pucker expensive mountain bikes except us - me with my old Toys-R-Us thing made of lead and Ben with a small 2nd hand one. Still, we might be the poor offspring, but we were game!

As soon as we started we fell behind our group - never saw them again lol - but we knew we wouldn't be able to keep their pace and we were content to just ride the route for the fun of it.

As you can see from the GPS route in my previous post on Friday I have managed to get the elevation data corrected. We were doing the short route of 15 miles but by no means was it the "easy" route I had thought it would be. In fact some of it was a bloody nightmare! After a few miles of riding on man made tracks, through beautiful woodland footpaths and winding in and out of trees on fantastic runs Ben started to feel the strain of pedaling a bit, especially on the long & short uphill gradients and eventually despite trying as hard as he could we would have to get off and walk up. This was often delayed by us being courteous & waiting for other cyclists to pass us by from behind. A lot of them would call out which side they were passing on which was good, but some idiots just barged by even with what looked like nowhere for us to pull over.

Ben walking up a steep incline through beautiful woods

There was one steep downhill bit where Ben had a really bad accident. He had only minutes ago asked me to ride in front for a change and I had my brakes on so he would know the safe speed to take the hill at (I would have gone faster but I know Ben is still inexperienced off roading) and had advised him to use the rear brake as much as possible with gentle dabs of the front if needed otherwise it would slide away from him.

So there I was tootling down the path when in a scene like Indiana Jones escaping from motorcycling Nazi's who should appear up on the bank next to me hurtling past like a bat out of hell? Yup you guessed it. No sooner was he beside & above me than his front wheel hit a rather large log and up and over he went. It wasn't just him going over the handlebars though, because he actually stayed on the bike as the whole thing cartwheeled upside down and landed, both him and bike, a full 180 degrees, then ground to a stop in the leaves.

Ben inspects his wounds

View downhill from Ben's "ride of death"

View uphill from Ben's "ride of death"

I stopped suddenly and rushed over. He was quite upset, but fortunately nothing was broken or sprained. He had a bruise on on leg and a small graze on the other, a muddy helmet (from where he had tried to bury it in the ground) and a face full of leaves. He'd also broken the front reflector off his bike, but no biggie as they are pennies to buy. The worry was that with his Addisons Disease any bad accident may need a Hydrocortisone injection (which I carry for him), but within a few seconds I could se he was shaken but otherwise fine.

One thing that did annoy me was some pleb who hurtled down the hill as I was tending to Ben shouted at me to move my bike from the path. Now my bike was right on the side by the bank, in no ones way, and there was plenty of room to go around as you can see in the photo above. He could see there was an accident, so I gave him a few curses, told him what I thought of him as he passed into the distance. I hoped we would meet at the end of the ride but I never saw the ***ker again.

After that Ben was very cautious of hills and was prone to getting off his bike to walk down even the smallest. It was a long trip after that, but I can understand his nerves took a knocking and on another weekends riding he'll be back to normal. Its knowing your limits. He explained to me that he was right behind me but that I was going too slow and he couldn't slow down enough to stop crashing into me so he took "the scenic route to Hell". We both laughed after too.

A while later we ended up riding along following the River Thames and came across a farm with hundreds of Alpaca's. Okay I thought they were Lama's until Ben "The Wise" said what they really were. I couldn't understand how he knew and then he pointed out the sign next to me that said "Alpaca's"....doh!

Shortly after that we stopped for a quick lunch of chicken & tomato sandwiches, then as we continued on for a quarter mile further we came to the 10 mile rest stop where drinks and biscuits were being handed out. We both drank some SIS energy drink which was quite sweet and made us both burp & fart for the rest of the journey. Right after the rest stop there were some really steep steps we weren't allowed to cycle down - for good reason - and then some equally steep steps up again the other side. We were both starting to flag a bit now and I had to take both bikes down and up again as Ben was tiring.

Ben about to start back up the opposite steps

Back up the way we had come (drinks station at the top)

By this time I was pretty certain we were last however there always seemed to be one or two riders coming up behind us. The guy at the drinks stop said he thought there were about 300 riders on the day. After following the Thames for a while longer we hit the dogleg at 11.8 miles, more uphill rambling and we were knackered. The cycling was okay but it was all of the hills that took it out of us so when we got to the 12.2 mile bend I figured we would take a short cut.

In my defence of this almighty cock-up, Id like to say its been many years since I had to read contours and the ones on the map they gave us were pretty fact the whole map was no use as a trail map to follow. If it wasn't for the signs we'd have got lost at the start. However it did look like we could cut off a lot of the hill by going around the side of it. Sure it would be uphill, but not as steep as the road on the proper route. Well I got that totally wrong and we walked those bloody bikes up the worst path on earth, nearly vertical over 250 ft. How we managed it I don't know, except the thought of going back was worse!

On reaching the top...eventually...we encountered proper road tarmac and could have a real well deserved rest. We came across a huge farm trailer near a field with a nice sized wheel to sit in.

Poor Ben trying to smile but not quite making it work

After a snack & about 20 minutes rest we carried on along the road which intercepted the proper route again at the crossroads near the start/finish. In all it had only knocked off less than a mile! Sorry Ben.

We finished around 1.00pm I think, but by the time we'd got packed up, strutted around being brave and manly in front of the other riders still coming in, cried quietly, sat for a while, etc we didn't get home until around 3pm. Then we had to go weekly food shopping...sigh!

Ben has never cycled anything like that distance before, over such heavy terrain. He did amazingly well and I'm really pleased with him. For myself, the last time I did a distance over 6 miles was over 11 years ago when I did the London to Brighton 54 mile ride.

We both had an early night. I'm okay today but Ben's still  a bit knackered. Id like to try to do it faster and am sure I could knock off half the time we took if I was alone, but that wasn't the point. All in all we had a great time. A lot of the course was brilliant to ride and we could do those bits again, making a much shorter circuit of it sometime. Also well done to the team at Evans Cycles. It was very well run and organised with friendly and helpful people, and the course was well signposted so you never even needed a map - unless like me you wanted to take a "short cut".

Stats for the ride:
(I used my new bike computer and I'm not sure Ive figured it out totally, but this is what it tells me)

odometer: 15.4 miles (so much for a "short cut" eh?)
top speed: 14.4mph
ave speed: 4.5mph
ride time: 2:58:31
kcal: 1197

Friday, 7 May 2010

Goring Ride It Route

I just got the GPX data for the Ride It route tomorrow. This is extremely useful because if the weather is crap we can do it another day. It'd be nice to do it tomorrow with lots of other cyclists, but if the gods say "no" then so be it.

Bikes Ready To Go

I took this morning off because the salesnob from British Gas was coming round to quote for a new boiler, then worked from home this afternoon.

After Mr Salesnob left I had time to do some things to the bikes, such as fit Bens bottle cage properly to his bike, and I tried to fit the new under-saddle bag but his rear mudguard goes up too high and interferes with it. Oh well.

Next on the agenda was to take off the old one & fit my new bike computer. That was all simple and quickly done. The setting up of it was what too kthe time. Dont get me wrong, I can programme phones, DVD players, TV's, and even know the back end of MS Windows reasonably well, but this effing bike computer the size of a matchbox took bloody ages. I suppose if the instructions werent in Pidgin English I might have done it faster. As it stands, I think randomly pressing a combination of the 3 buttons in different menu's finally cracked it. Still unsure as to what everything does but after a couple of rides I ought to figure it out.

Weather looks a bit iffy for the Ride It event tomorrow though.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Aldi Haul

Just got back from Aldi...well I had dinner too, but I was lucky as I didn't realise they shut at 7pm so I just made it in time. Got a decent collection of kit:

1 x cycle computer
2 x pairs of gloves - one red pair and one blue pair
1 x aluminium water bottle & cage for Ben
2 x pairs of cycling glasses with interchangeable lenses; dark, yellow and clear
1 x stirrup pump
1 x under saddle bag & tool kit

Its all really decent gear and Id have said worth every penny if not more. The cycle computer is fantastic with 30 functions - I probably need a degree in Science to use it. I think it does stuff others do for 20 times the cost.

Some of the features:
time, temperature, background light, stopwatch, speed, speed comparison, average speed, max speed, odometer, odometer memory, trip distance, riding time, calorie consumption, fatburn indicator.

The glasses are very cool. With the black lenses, Ben and I together look like the Blues Brothers lol. I wasn't going to get the tool bag but figured the tools were worth the cost and the bag can go under Ben's saddle for his bits and bobs. The only thing I wanted they didn't have were waterproof jackets for Ben and myself, but I'm happy with what I got.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Little Weighty Maths

I measured my height today and went to a Body Mass website to see what BMI I was and out of curiosity, what weight I would need to be in order to fall into the lower categories.

(I am assuming that there is no possibility that I will grow a few extra inches)

Current height = 68"
Current weight = 220.2lb
Current BMI = 33.4 (obese)

If I get my weight down to 196lb then I fall into the "overweight" category with a BMI of 29.8.
If I get my weight down to 164lb then I fall into the "normal" category with a BMI of 24.9.

I kind of wish I hadn't done this calculation as "normal" seems dauntingly far away. I can see "overweight" being achievable though.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Mini Update

Just did 6.1 miles on the exercise bike...knackered like an old dog.

Bought Some Stuff

Popped into Halfords today in High Wycombe and got Ben a new bone dome:
I figured it was a good one to get him as it offers more protection around his head than a normal style helmet. It cost more, but what value do you put on your childs life?

I also got a pair of special cable tie straps specially for attaching bottle cages to bikes without the lugs in the frame. It was a lucky find as I had been pondering how to secure the bottle rack to his bike properly. These things come with threads and screws, and seem to be a great solution.

I also bought a small bottle of light oil. Funny, when I was growing up, my late dad always had oil and grease on hand in the garage or his shed. I guess it was because of his time in the RAF as an aircraft mechanic and his later life working at Vandervell's/GKN so he always knew to have some on hand. As for me the closest I have is WD40 for the door hinges lol.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Weekend Cycling Fun

Today Karen was off work so she, Ben & I decided to go for a cycle in Swinley Forest again, although this was the first real time Karen's been on a bike since...dunno! Anyway as Ben has the new "pocket rocket" that frees up his old adult size bike for her to ride. Despite my protestations, she insisted that the saddle was going to be okay as it was - it was set for Ben's height and was a kids size one. This later turned out to be an error on her part.

So we loaded Ben's bike into the boot and put the others on the bike rack and set off.

We decided that this time we wouldn't bother taking the map as there were barely any signposts at the forest. Karen was soon moaning about the unforgiving saddle and I gave her my gel cover to use which seemed to ease the pressure a bit, but I think the fact that the saddle was too low for her meant that more weight was on her butt than being taken by her legs, however she said she wasn't sure enough cycling yet to have it higher. I do need to change it over for a bigger one sometime though.

Over the weekend we've had a lot of rain and there were a substantial amount of puddles. Ben decided that he was going to go through every single one of them, and for the first hundred or so he did just that - at full speed, however as he approached a particularly large one I said to Karen that it looked quite deep, and sure enough it was what I would call a "Vicar of Dibley" sized one! The water in the middle must have been nearly to the bottom of his seat post. His front and rear mudguards couldn't handle the volume of water coursing up the wheels and about a gallon of water ended up all over his back and legs...classic!

After that he was a little more careful in choosing which ones to go through. We tried the side tracks but Karen wasn't so sure of herself on them so we stayed mostly to the wider man-made paths, but this didn't stop them being quite muddy in places. I tried to pick the best routes but sometimes they wouldn't follow me, and on one occasion Karen got stuck in a deep quagmire and Ben had to go back and help her pull the bike out.

It rained off and on during the morning, but nothing too hard & we stopped for lunch around 12.30 when we saw some nice sized logs begging for tired asses to sit on them.

Having a rest wasn't part of Ben's plans for the day and after eating his lunch decided to race up and down the path to get his miles up higher than mine.

Shortly after we reached an old hill fort called Caesar's Camp and realised we'd made a slight error in our route, however I found a dirt track we managed to negotiate which was quite fun & heading in roughly the right direction; lots of humps and twists and even Karen was managing to cope until we got to a long downhill bit with a path-spanning puddle at the bottom.

I tried to ride through but the wood buggered me up and by pure fluke I managed to put my foot down on a bit saving me from getting wet feet. A little way further on we hit a long steep uphill bit that none of us could cycle up and remain sane. Heck it was knackering just walking up and I stupidly offered to push Karen's bike up as well as mine! When we got to the top and turned around we saw this sign.

I wouldn't go so far as to say it was unsuitable for cycles, though riding down the hill would have been preferable to going up the ba***rd. I also have to apologise for the photo Ben took of me at the top. I hadn't realised how ugly I really am!

After another mile and a half of uneventful cycling we reached the start again. Oh I suppose I ought to mention Ben getting chased by a big dog as he was riding and he didn't even know about it. The thing was a baby werewolf or something and was right up to his rear wheel, but Ben hadn't a clue it was there before the owner called it back.

We stopped off at the cafe for tea, Lucozade and a rest as well as photos and funny faces.

(I'm sure I must look better than this - must be a dodgy camera).

Total miles cycled = 6.66 miles.

So we got home and I really didn't feel like I'd been out cycling at all. There was no tension or tiredness in my legs so I decided to do 5 miles on the exercise bike. What can I say but holy crap that did me in! I did 5.5 miles at a constant 20.5 mph. The bikes in the sun lounge and it gets really hot in there too and I was sweating buckets at the end.

Sadly, my weight has increased by 0.59lb this week to 220.2lbs (15.73st). I can't understand how, and it's disappointing as I've not eaten anything over and above normal. Still its giving me determination to get it down for next weekend.

At least I managed to scratch off a couple of my goals this week. Shame about the weight though...damn!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

My Best Thick Soup

This is for Les

Makes around 7 servings

1.5Kg Carrots (Morrisons usually have these on offer for around 80p for 1.5Kg)
1 x small head of Broccoli
1 x small Swede
6 x rashers of smoked streaky Bacon
4 x tsp Madras Curry Powder
1 x pinch of Chilli Flakes (optional)
1 x tsp Fennel seeds (optional)
1 x tsp Oregano (optional)
2 x Kallo organic Beef stock cubes - or chicken or vegetable stock if you like.
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Break up the stock cubes and put them into your largest pan/soup tureen. Add about 1 litre of boiling water and stir until broken up/all mixed well.
2. Add the Oregano & Chilli flakes.
3. Chop up the carrots, swede and broccoli into small pieces. I usually use a mixer to do this as its quicker. Add the vegetables to the stock.
4. Top up with more water if necessary.
5. Place the saucepan onto the hob and bring to the boil. Once boiled allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
6. Remove from the hob and allow to cool before using a hand blender to puree all of the vegetables. Alternatively you can spoon the veg into a mixer and do it that way except it will take longer as it wont all fit in one go.
7. Add the fennel seeds & stir in. If the soup has cooled too much return it to the hob and allow it to reheat to serving temperature.
N.B The soup should be nice and thick once blended.
8. In a frying pan add the bacon in batches with a little oil and sprinkle a small amount of curry powder over the rashers as they cook on both sides. Once cooked, put aside and add the rest of the bacon to the pan and repeat with the frying and the curry powder.
9. Once all the bacon is cooked, using scissors, chop up the rashers into medium sized pieces and divide them up into the soup bowls
10. Spoon the hot soup over the bacon.
11. Serve with crusty bread.

I got the basis of this recipe off my sister Madeleine. She used Italian bacon which goes nice and crispy but mine is the cheaper version, and I add the curry powder as the kids love the flavour.

Essentially you can use whatever herbs, bacon or veg you like, or none at all except the carrots and just make it a carrot soup - Its all good and does the 4 of us for a Saturday evening meal plus my eldest son for a few lunchtimes during the week.

Special Offers @ Aldi 6th May

Just took a look at the Aldi website and they have some good offers on for this Thursday coming (6th May 2010) here Aldi Offers

I'm particularly interested in the gloves, the jacket, sunglasses, bike computer and stirrup pump as they're all extremely cheap. I've been looking around for some time for a calorie counter watch or computer and for £4.99 even if its crap & lasts a few months I won't be too bothered.

All I have to do now is remember to go there on Thursday after work.

....Newsflash....Its still raining cats and dogs outside so looks like another day off the bikes for us. I'll have to clear the 6" of dust from the exercise bike this afternoon I guess. Also popping up to Halfords for a new bone dome for Ben's bonce so he can break some more trees with his thick skull.