Monthly Archives: November 2009

The how and the why…

A bit difficult writing this up as I really can’t point to any one event or any set of circumstances that got me being the shameful weight of 22st 4Ibs.

But here goes…

10 years ago I was still pedalling, I had a circle of ex Army mates who would regularly stop by and join in. I’m fortunate enough to live quite literally on the edge of the Worcestershire countryside and if I turn right out of my Crescent then I’m straight into a lane. But I’m digressing, which I’m guessing I’ll be doing a lot of.

So, what made me stop? Do you know, I really haven’t got a clue, it just seemed to happen. Was it my daughter who was taking up more time? Did I start concentrating on other things? I was still playing Rugby back then, but less and less due to injury and age, but whatever the reason I arrived at 2009 being a fat bastard.

In between then and now, I’d done the usual cycle (excuse the pun) of diet/excercise and then increased weight gain. But stupidly I knew all about “changing your lifestyle”, “more excercise”, “watch what you eat” etc etc but it just wasn’t happening. I decided to go to the Docs to see if they could help, but to cut a long story short of inumerable visits, apart from recommending the local Weight Watchers they did nothing. I did try the Weight Watchers but it was full of middle aged women all talking about periods and fatless chips. All respect to those ladies but it wasn’t for me.

I knew I was harming myself, my biggest downfall being the sandwich van at work, the take outs, mainly curry and beer. But I wouldn’t or couldn’t stop. I still don’t know why. I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, but then again I’m not a thicko so why would a reasonably intelligent bloke carry on for all those years quite literally eating and lethargically putting himself into an early grave. I guess the person who can work that one out will make quite a bit of money. That’s the key, why?

Anyway early this year I had to see the Doc for a medical to keep my HGV licence current. It’s always a good fall back if the job should go tits up so I do keep it going. During the medical the Doc discovered that my blood pressure was dangerously high and immediately prescribed Perindropol which I had to take every day so I wouldn’t explode. Permanent medication because I’m fat. Added to the list goes sleep apnea, bad snoring, lack of energy, tiredness, aching joints etc etc. I had to do something but again for reasons I cannot fathom I did nothing. Oh, I always talked a good diet/change to the Missus and the Doc, but I knew nothing would happen. Then in March this year I discovered purely by chance Frank’s Blog and again for reasons I cannot fathom it “flicked a switch” in me. I always loved cycling and here was a bloke roughly my age, weight and in the same condition health wise who had seemed to grab hold of his life and kick on from there.

It was decided then, March the 23th would be my first day back as a cyclist…

Then, Sunday March the 22nd happened.

I’m a Rugby Coach, rugby being my first love. (Union for all you Northern Monkeys out there). On Sunday March the 22nd I was taking a scrummaging session with our U17s and without getting all boring and rugby technical, they weren’t quite doing it right, so I jumped in at Hooker (Cue all the jokes) my old position and proceeded to demo exactly what they needed to be doing. We set, hit the scrummaging machine really well, then I called a drive. Snap…Snap…Both Achilles tendons let go one after the other. A fat broken 45 year old should not hit a scrummaging machine without warming up.The lads playing second row heard them both go, I was absolutely frozen where I was, the pain was like no other, I couldn’t move, I was stuck leaning against the machine. The only positive was, the fact that both tendons let go meant I was scrummaging straight. Sorry, nearly descended into rugby technicalities there.

So to cut a long and very painful story short, after 3 months in plaster I finally started the first day of the rest of my life.

I am under absolutely no illusions that I would not have started this getting my life back thing if I hadn’t read Frank’s Blog, which lead onto James’ and then the now defunct and much missed Gaz’s blog. Not forgetting the Jobymeister either!

Obesity is a laugh, look at fatty, check out those moobs, get a move on lard arse! I’ve had them all shouted at me and still am getting it. I haven’t taken my shirt off in public in years, I love swimming, I haven’t done that in years, too ashamed of my tits. Baggy clothes are the order of the day, just to cover them up. It’ll be a long road back before my self esteem is strong enough to go swimming, but at least I know now I will be going swimming again at some point. There will be low points along the way of that I’m certain and now prepared for. But there will be terrific highs, my first off road pedal last Saturday just being one of many I’m sure. But what a waste of 10 years, it would be very easy to go down the self pity route and reach for the take out menu, go round to the Offy and pick up a few Ales and settle in for the evening, just like I used to. But that won’t be happening. That’s a promise, not just to you my Gentle Readers, but much more importantly to myself.

Well that’s it, as much as my limited vocabulary and prose will allow. I haven’t discovered any answers, just tried to recount my story without getting too self absorbed. Reading it back the big thing for me is I still haven’t answered “The why” part of the situation I’m in. I’m really struggling with that one. Also why a blog should move me to change my life when bugger all else did. Two questions that I want answers to. Maybe I’ll find them further down the road. Or maybe you know the answers and can tell me!

Tell me why I don’t like Mondays?

Good morning Gentle readers, back to commuting this morning after too long a lay off with a bad back and hip. They’re still giving me gip, but I suppose that’s what you get for playing too much rugby and doing all the Army stuff I did. I may bore you all with those stories somewhere down the line. Or not.

Up at 0530hrs, my morning routine is pretty much down pat, into the bog for the ablute, downstairs (quietly so not to wake my spawn of Satan 2 year old son) to get dressed in my bike kit which is all laid out ready and into the garage to get my commuter. Lights on and away.

The weather was pretty wet and more to the point very windy, so I was immediately up against the cosh, but the ride in only has 3 up hills to speak of so best not moan too much. The Bristol Road as usual at that time no problem, with the added advantage of a cycle lane so happy days.

Then onto the cut at Selly Oak and I had quite possibly the wettest ride in ever without it actually raining, the tow path was one 6 mile long puddle about 3 inches deep. A bloody nightmare. I did tinker with the idea of coming off it at the university and pedalling through Harborne, but you know how it goes, it’ll be dry after the next bend, only it wasn’t, it was wet all the way to Smethwick.

But I did it, not a great time due to the head wind, but a good work out none the less. What’s the betting I’ll be into a head wind tonight? If anyone can tell me how that works I’ll be eternally grateful. Head wind there and back…weird…

So what’s on today? The end of the month is pretty quiet but it all kicks off again tomorrow when all of the customer’s stats and MI has to be produced, invoices sent out and meetings arranged, so I might take this opportunity to get some serious Blogging done!

I’m still trying to work out how to tell my story to this point, you know, the how and the why. It’s proving more of a challenge than I thought.

Anyway, mileage so far, since July the 1st, 988 miles (Commuting only). Weight lost 2 stone 12 pounds.

I started with a “Park and Ride” every other day which worked out to be a 12 mile round trip, then built it up after a period to a “Park and ride” every day.

Then I went to the whole ride every other day a 24 mile round trip, now it’s every day.

I did have a couple of set backs looking at my weight loss chart, 6 weeks in was the dreaded swine flu, then 16 weeks in a very bad cold, both resulted in weight gains, which proves I need to pedal all the while. But the trend is ever downwards.

Just a very quick mention of food to finish. I’ll have 3 shredded wheat around 1100hrs, drinking plenty of water the rest of the day. When I’m home I’ll have one of Wifey’s lovely cooked dinners, you know, meat and two veg kind of thing. Friday night is pub and take out night. Life is for living after all.

A beginning June 2009

There’s a bit to catch up on to be fair, so I’ve got a bit of planning and deciding how to tell my story and how to put across in a readable manner how much of a trial this issue is. I must point out at the start of this that I’m not after sympathy because as my ex Sgt Major used to tell me, “Sympathy comes between shit and syphilis in my dictionary!” No sympathy isn’t the reason for this blog.

Then what is the reason? All manner of things I guess, a way of staying motivated, a record of what happens on a “journey” (I hate that word used in this context) like mine, to stop me clogging up my peers blogs with inane comments, Frank, Gaz, Joby, James, thanks for putting up with me over the last 5 months!

I guess also that if and when the medical profession starts taking obesity seriously and actually coming up with constructive suggestions then maybe these blogs may be of some help.

So gentle readers, please bear with me and I’ll tell my story gradually over the coming weeks.

But so you have some idea of where I am now, please indulge me with the following story from yesterday. Oh and apologies in advance for the dodgy layout and crap editing, I’m having to learn quickly about blogging here!

Off road ride out. Saturday 28th of November.

By Clive Chapman

As it turned out I was the only pedaller, having had a raft of cry offs and excuses from various blokes (far fitter than me) who all decided the grey skies, wind and threat of rain were not that appealing. Ah well, at least it meant I could set off nice and early and get it done rather than waiting around for some notorious lateys.

Having prepped my Marin, well, if you can call dusting it and oiling the chain a prep then that’s what I did. After a 10 year off road break, I set off up the road to the start of the off road part, a path down through Chapman’s Hill Farm (No relation) where I very rapidly rediscovered that rain, leaves, cow shit and tractors do not a good surface make, not helped by yet another rediscovery that the tyres I had fitted were more suited to fire roads in forests during the summer rather than farm tracks in the winter. I just couldn’t get any traction and even with my shocking state of fitness and power I was constantly spinning the rear wheel out on the slimy surface. But much to my happy surprise I had kept my bike handling skills on a very technical descent to the bottom of Clent. Arse over the back of the saddle, cover the brakes, let the bike find its own way, keep your knees soft and scan the track a good way ahead for the best line. Marvelous!

The track from the bottom of Clent.
The payback for a fantastic descent is usually as I recalled correctly a ball breaking climb and my chosen route didn’t disappoint. The slog to the top of the Waseley’s was a granny ring battle that much to my shame and an indication of just how far I’ve got to go, resulted in me spinning the back wheel out on the grassy slope and toppling over. I just couldn’t get any momentum to restart so I finished the climb pushing the bike.

The climb up to the Waseley’s where I had to push. M5 Junc 4 in the background looking south west. The Malverns are just visible in the distance.

I knew the reward for the effort would be the fantastic bit of single track through Waseley Hill’s Country Park, it didn’t let me down, big ring selected, it was an opportunity to put the hammer down through the trees, get a couple of bunny hops over roots in and generally be a hooligan careering in and out of the woods. The beauty being that I was early enough to not have to worry about the Dog walkers that are the general majority inhabitants of the area.

Just before the start of the single track through the Waseley Hills Country Park.

Having traversed the singletrack there was now the descent back down to the bottom of the Waseley’s, mud, ruts and an errant Springer Spaniel all safely negotiated meant one thing. A small bit of road work over the bridge of the A38, then another slog up to the top of the Lickey Hills. Much to my surprise I must have got my second wind, again pedalling in the granny ring I managed to get to the top with out getting off to push. Bonus! Although the surface was a bit more forgiving than the clogged up Clent and Waseley paths and I did manage to keep traction.

The top of the Lickeys, by the monument.

The Lickeys are a mixture of open field, woody singletrack and open fire roads. They are also a major attraction for the outdoor types in the South Birmingham area, so the opportunity to go ballistic on the descents had to be tempered with a respect for the other visitors. So after a drink at the top by the monument, I headed off into the woods, I was taking it pretty steadily because as I predicted it was full of walkers, dogs, horses and other folks all seemingly clad in Berghaus, Helly Hansen and Barbour kit.

Then I had to make a decision, I had reached a T junction in the tracks, turn left for the short way home, turn right for the long way that would inevitably force me into taking in the Barnt Green Reservoir loop. A bit of a no brainer really, right turn it was and a hair raising downhill, round the duck ponds down to the Golf Club taking in some more air over the culverts, I’ve still got it!

Barnt Green Reservoir Chill out spot.

More road work, over the southern part of the Lickeys, then a screaming downhill just calling out for Boardman road bike towards Hopwood and the Barnt Green reservoir loop. My computer said I hit 39.5mph. On a full suss MTB I don’t think that’s too bad!

After the lanes it was a left turn up the bridleway to the reservoir where I stopped for another drink and a general chill out, this was always a good place to stop and have a peruse on “Life the Universe and Everything.” Very enjoyable.

The journey home from there started with “green laning” past the fish pools, the Barnt Green Yacht Club (Very posh) and Cofton Hackett Church. Then the start of my last major climb of the day back up over the Lickeys. It is a bridleway with a very good surface, so middle ring it was and churn away until it was beaten. Out the other side into Cofton Hackett proper, through the Park opposite the MG car plant (What’s left of it) and through Rubery and home.
The climb back over the Lickey’s

All that remained was a thorough degunk of my beloved Marin which had performed a damn sight better than its rider, a good lube and a steamingly hot cup of coffee for me while the shower revved up.

10 miles that became 16 miles, a rediscovery that despite loving my daily road and tow path commute that I’m still very much a MTBer at heart and the knowledge that at the beginning of July I would never have managed that route in a month of Sundays. Fabulous day, ruined only by going to my Rugby Club in the afternoon and watching Cardiff stuff us (Birmingham and Solihull Bees) big style in the British and Irish Cup.

Finally a special thanks to all the bloggers who keep me motivated and “flicked my switch” to get a fat broken 45 year old back out pedalling again and made me start the process from fat to fit. Frank, Joby, James and of course not forgetting the big man himself “Gaz”. Fellers, it is absolutely no exaggeration to say I wouldn’t be doing this stuff without you.