Monthly Archives: April 2010

Chuffed to NAAFI break!

Now where the heck did that come from? From 6 weeks of a weight plateau to last week with a 6Ib gain due to too much Guinness and crap food on tour, I step on the scales last night and find I’m my new lowest weight of 18st 2Ib with a 7Ib loss!

Well I’m lying actually, I do know where it came from, I know I’ve started my phase 2 pedal plan with extended mileage, (a new weekly record of 116 miles this week) but I have been very very strict with my grub. If I think about it I have taken my eye off the ball a bit food wise of late, this week has seen me back to my strict no nonsense self about it. Back to fruit and veg snacks instead of the odd slice of toast and I’ve got wifey to cut the portions down meal times whose sizes were creeping up again. But bloody hell it’s hard, she is a fantastic cook!

Onto the pedal last night, it was pissing down but I went home on the cut, onto NCR5 and did the Lickey loop for 16 miles. This is what I looked like when I got home:

A bit damp, a bit dirty but loving every minute of it!
Stats here:
Started: 29 Apr 2010 15:05:32

Ride Time: 1:04:29
Stopped Time: 0:12
Distance: 15.94 miles
Average: 13.33 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 28.05 miles/hr
Climb: 295 feet
Calories: 986

The only downer is that my Muvi helmet cam seems to have malfunctioned, maybe it didn’t like the rain. Every time I plug it in to my laptop to download last night’s footage a “USB DEVICE NOT RECOGNISED” error message pops up. I’ve done the usual re-booting thing but it doesn’t want to know. It looks like a new one might be on the cards. Unfitguy has found a good Muvi clone on Ebay that might be getting visited soon!
A usual Chapman start to the weekend this evening with a family visit to the Dodford (check out the new website). Tomorrow I’m stagging on all day with the Spawn of Satan as wifey, daughter and my mukka’s Mrs Missus are off into Worcester shopping for new outfits for the Rugby Club’s end of season dinner and dance. Me and my mukka quite naturally will be wearing our weddings, funerals and job interview suits with Club tie. It’s easy being a bloke!
As there’ll be no pedalling until my MTB trip on Monday morning I’ll wait ’til then to post a new Blog. Have a good Bank Holiday weekend folks! 

New wheels…

What a day yesterday, I managed to get my Giant home ok via the QE route I did on Tuesday.

Stats here:

Started: 28 Apr 2010 15:05:04
Ride Time: 46:33
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.77 miles
Average: 13.45 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 34.74 miles/hr
Climb: 492 feet
Calories: 885

I then chucked it in the car and drove to Northfield Cycles to have a chat about the wheel/spoke thing, but not before I’d taken it to another local bike shop to get an independant opinion. You can never be too careful can you?

I’ll keep the other shop nameless and the person who advised me as I don’t want to stir up any LBS ill feeling! Suffice it to say I trust this person implicitly, I’ve known them for years and they’ve always supplied a great service. I kinda wish I’d had my road bike from them, but they don’t do the types I’d researched and wanted unfortunately.

The advice I’d got from nameless LBS was basically that spoke breakages of the like I’d had were not the norm, I shouldn’t be charged for them and nameless LBS would have repaired them for free or in the case of continuous breakages get me a new set of wheels. Nameless LBS actually used the “Not fit for purpose” phrase which is a terrifying phrase to hear in the industry I work in! Although I’m not certain the effect it would have on some one in the bike trade.

So, over to Northfield Cycles where I spoke to young Neil. At first they said they’d put another spoke in which would cost £12. I wasn’t very happy with that and said that I do only around a 100 miles a week and I’ve only had the bike 2 months and I shouldn’t be having spoke breakages. I said that just replacing spokes wouldn’t cure the issue. Neil then said that Giant considered spokes a consumable and therefore not under warranty.  A bit of to-ing and fro-ing then occured as I stated my bottom line, which was the wheel is faulty, I want a wheel that is reliable, I had lost confidence in the bike and I also shouldn’t have to pay anything extra. Neil said he’d phone Giant and get back to me. I then left and drove home.

At about 1730hrs Neil called me to say that after speaking to Giant they said that they’d supply a new set of wheels for me, these Shimano ones apparently. This is good news. To say I’m happy would be a bit of an understatement. The only slight negative is that I’d planned a 50 miler on Bank Holiday Monday to Bridgenorth which will now have to wait as it’s unlikely I’ll get the bike back before then. But the positive is it means I’ll have to go on a MTB micro adventure instead!

Also no road bike meant that it was a tow path commute in. So my Ridgeback commuter was dragged out of the garage at early O’Clock and off I went. Just as I was by the Sainsbury’s Supermarket in Northfield I saw a bloke on a hybrid whizz past through the red lights I was patiently waiting at and blast off down the hill towards Selly Oak, I really hope the footage comes out, Lights to green and I was after him. I soon caught him and kept a respectable distance behind him so he could drag me up the hill, punishment for red light jumping I say, but half way up he pulled over, I’m pretty certain he didn’t like me on his back wheel! I said “Morning mate” as I went past and he said he’d pulled over as he had to cross over the road. Hmm…

Onto the cut and I never saw a soul until I got to work. Apart from a bloke feeding the ducks where the canal has been diverted to allow the Selly Oak By-Pass to be completed. Apologies for the sound and the blank last 30 seconds of the vid, still learning about this stuff!

Stats here:
Started: 29 Apr 2010 05:25:21
Ride Time: 48:19
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.39 miles
Average: 11.69 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 27.63 miles/hr
Climb: 315 feet
Calories: 816

Weigh in tonight…

Aren’t cyclists selfish lawless idiots?

I have a saying that I live by and know to be true, “It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do there’s always one.” In this case on my pedal home it was two. My pedal home last night was going really well, the stiff headwind was just giving me a better work out most of the other other road users were giving me the time and space I need to make progress. So I’ve pedalled from Smethwick, through Edgbaston, around Harbourne, past the QE Hospital and am now getting ready to do battle with the main Selly Oak/Bristol Road lights at the Sainsbury’s Supermarket. No problems, I have a plan for this risky stretch, keep my pace high, take the central position in the inside lane then wait for a gap to move over to the middle lane to turn right onto the Bristol Road.

On this particular occasion I’m getting a lick on and about to ride through a pedestrian crossing (lights on green for the road users) and a bloke on a MTB just rides straight across in front of me making me brake hard then turns off the crossing and pedals his way serenely up the inside lane towards the junction! More of him later.

I then get to the junction with the lights on red (let in by a decent motorist) and while waiting at the front of the queue I see a student (looks like a student and it is Selly Oak) pedal up the inside lane to the lights, go through the red light left onto the Bristol Road and calmly carry on his merry way. At this point original MTB man has pedalled on the pavement all the way to the junction.

I’m looking around at the motorists and I can tell they’re pissed off. And rightly so.

I just hope the footage comes out ok which is why I’ve gone into quite a lengthy description of the two incidents just in case it doesn’t. They might be candidates for Joby’s Fight Bad Driving website.

Incident 1:

Incident 2:

Otherwise the pedal was fine. Stats here:

Started: 27 Apr 2010 15:05:26
Ride Time: 44:05
Stopped Time: 1:33
Distance: 11.72 miles
Average: 13.63 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 39.69 miles/hr
Climb: 627 feet
Calories: 1025

This morning was an East Side 20 miler, which for me went ok legs and cardio vascular wise. I am really suffering with painful upper arms, my shoulders, biceps and triceps are pretty painful after about 20 minutes in to the ride. I think I’ll start doing press ups and pull ups to strengthen them, maybe that will help. I don’t suppose all the years of front row rugby can be helping my cause though.

But my bike didn’t fair too well. Another broken spoke on my back wheel when I was pedalling through Hall Green. I heard it twang and when I got off the bike I saw another spoke hanging, broken in the same place right on the hub as the last one. I carry a bit of tape with me so I taped it to the adjacent spoke, opened my brake calipers to prevent rubbing and got to work without further incident.

Stats here:

Started: 28 Apr 2010 05:21:13
Ride Time: 1:11:18
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 20.60 miles
Average: 14.46 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 35.87 miles/hr
Climb: 269 feet
Calories: 1594

There’ll be another visit to Northfield Cycles later today. I might be having something to say about this to Richard. I have gone all of my cycling life doing some pretty intense MTBing as an adult and long distance pedalling on road as a kid which was done on some pretty cheap kit back then without ever having broken a spoke. I spend just short of a grand for a half decent road bike and I get 2 broken spokes in 2 weeks. Something is not right and I’m not a happy bunny.

Summer officially starts here!

This was the first morning when I ditched my Hi Vis jacket and cycling tights and pedalled in to work in my shorts and T shirt (ok with my Helly Hansen base layer underneath) and took a chance with fingerless mitts too. My fingers were a tad cold for the start of the ride but even though it was cold enough to see my breath they were ok.

Last nights pedal was a fabulously sunny one, I did the Frankley Beeches route home and it passed without incident. Although it did feel particularly slow due to a nagging headwind.

Stats here:

Started: 26 Apr 2010 15:04:36
Ride Time: 44:52
Stopped Time: 0:12
Distance: 11.55 miles
Average: 13.72 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 32.07 miles/hr
Climb: 535 feet
Calories: 875

I’ll post a vid later if it’s worth seeing.

Edit: Dunno if it’s worth it but here it is anyway, the pedal over Frankley Beeches last night.

Following the Phase 2 plan religiously meant a 12 miler in today. This time I went over the Waseley’s and through Bartley Green via Bearwood to Smethwick. A fantastic sunrise accompanied me and I don’t remember seeing another vehicle until I got to the Bartley Green Road. I had the lanes all to my self. I got in to work ok and am typing this feeling fine.

Stats here:

Started: 27 Apr 2010 05:25:56
Ride Time: 40:20
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.91 miles
Average: 15.39 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 34.66 miles/hr
Climb: 102 feet
Calories: 944

Again I had the Muvi Helmet Cam on and I will stick some footage up if anything is worth seeing. I’m hoping the sunrise has come out ok.

Check out 3 mins 10 secs in, I get a fast left hander totally wrong, lucky it was early O’Clock otherwise I might not be here to tell the tale!

Just a thought to finish. I must be getting used to the road bike now, the reason I’m saying this is that when I’m pedalling along it doesn’t feel as fast as when I first had it. My stats say different as do my ride times, it must be my perception. Interesting one that.


An east side commute this morning. 20 miles around the lanes via Wythall, Solihull, Sparkbrook and finally Smethwick.

Stats here:

Started: 26 Apr 2010 05:31:23
Ride Time: 1:14:10
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 20.45 miles
Average: 15.69 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 38.43 miles/hr
Climb: 367 feet
Calories: 1813

Route here:

It was entirely without incident apart from being squeezed by a WVM overtaking me when there wasn’t really room for him to do so. But that’s pedalling!

The weather is a bit tricky to dress for now as well, I had my Hi Vis T shirt on with my Hi Vis waterproof jacket on too. Full fingered gloves, my cycling tights over my cycling shorts and waterproof socks as it had been raining. I was a tad leaky when I got to Smethwick. It’ll be just T Shirt and shorts on the way home methinks.

Physically the ride went ok, I’m sat here feeling not too beaten up, it was enjoyable being out in the countryside first thing as usual and I got here ok. It didn’t feel like I was going that fast though. It felt like a steady pedal in which is fine. Time on the bike is what counts I think.

I did have my helmet cam on, so if there’s any footage worth posting I’ll do that later.

As promised. Sound off though if I were you. Check out about 4 mins 30 sec in for the WVM dodgy overtake.

The last game of our U17s went fantastically well yesterday with a hard fought 22 – 10 win over Old Edwardians. The BBQ and little soiree afterwards went swimmimgly well. Even though it started to rain a bit. The lads were well up for the game and this showed on the score board. It should have been 22 – 0 but the ref gave a sympathy try to Old Eds when clearly their player had been tackled in to touch before he scored and we let in a soft interception try right at the death with the game already won and the lads thinking about the bar.

Their final team photo below.

And my final team talk to them after the game was won.

View from my Bivvy…

A very happy Friday night night was spent at the Dodford Inn celebrating their first year of being back in business after been closed by the Land owners in an attempt to redevelop the pub and the land into residential housing.

Suffice it to say after a very long 2 year battle the campaign group, the Local Council and Camra were successful in telling the developer to Foxtrot Oscar and never darken our doorstep again!

Pubs like The Dodford are becoming an increasingly rare commodity. It’s a proper pub, with a proper bar which serves proper ale and which is a credit to the Landlord Richard Scott and the good home cooking should make Richard’s Missus Min very proud indeed. Indeed the Camra Head Shed were on hand Friday evening to dole out a couple of awards to them.

This weekend which coincided with St Georges Day was used as a celebration not just to mark the first anniversary and our Patron Saint’s Day but in my opinion was also a celebration to common sense, which just like the pub is also a rare commodity these days. St Georges Day was also an excuse for Richard the Gaffer to dress up as the Dragon Slayer himself and run around scaring the kids with a lifesize replica of an Old English Broadsword that was a long as Fay is tall! I just regret not getting a photo of him as I was too busy pissing my self laughing!

Edit, found this photo on The Dodfords Facebook page. Richard and Min getting their Camra award thingies.

Richard had also organised got a hog roast, a BBQ, a beer festival, a few bands on, a new ale launch and some Morris Dancers. All in all a very busy weekend.

If you are a regular reader of this missive, then you’ll know that we always go to the Dodford of a Friday tea time, stay an hour or two then bugger off when The Spawn of Satan kicks off. This Friday we were able to stay for the duration as the weather was great and we were camping in the big field surrounding the pub. Dan could run around to his hearts content without pissing everyone off and when he finally crashed we could sit around the tent and carry on enjoying ourselves.

A few piccys below.

The pub from the back field.
The bar with Chris doing the honours.
View from my bivvy, 0600hrs Saturday morning.
Fay and Dan awake…
Fay last to be ready, as usual!
I slept outside in my bivvy and doss bag. I was absolutely fine and slept the sleep of the just! I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy sleeping out. I had to disappear into the bushes at about 0245hrs for a comfort break and when I got back into my bag I just lay there staring at the stars until I drifted off again. Fantastic!
As you may or may not recognise, I managed to hang on to my Army doss bag and kip mat. My Goretex Bivvy bag was purchased by me, like a lot of other squaddies back in the day as the bashas they expected us to sleep in were crap! Just remember servicemen, the kit you use is made to the lowest possible budget!
Today I’m off coaching, it’s our lads very last game as an age group as they progress to Colts and adult rugby next year. I know it’ll be an emotional time. There’s a BBQ and bar afterwards and a bit of a get together with everyone who has been involved over the years.
And finally onto bikes, Phase 2 starts tomorrow with a 20 mile east side pedal. I suppose if I’m realistic, I needed to lose around 8 stones to be back to my youthful most fit weight. It’s about 9 or 10 months into this thing and I’m roughly half way. I wonder if the last 4 stones will come off in the same amount of time?


It seems Rugby Tours and no pedalling, do not a healthy lifestyle make!

Scales do not lie, a 6Ib gain. After 6 weeks static weight I guess something had to give. And it did. Just in the wrong direction.

The weird thing is, my clothes are still getting baggier and people are still saying that I look like I’m still losing the pork plus I feel like my pedalling is getting better.

But the main thing is I’m really looking forward to Monday now. Bring it on!

New Bike Radar Blog here by the way.

After reading poor old Les’ tale of woe yesterday and obviously reading Joby’s many and varied opportunities for suicide I suddenly remembered a brilliant piece of advice I was given when I was learning to ride a motorbike. It may or may not be of any use but here it is any way.

It was my bike instructor John (ex Cop bike instructor) who said that when riding up to a junction it is always good to make eye contact with drivers around you, he conceded that most of the buggers never look anyway, but by staring at the driver of your nearest threat does make the driver think about your presence. I always eyeball vehicle driver’s very intently at junctions and some of the looks I get back (surprise mostly) do tell me that it does at some level work. As we are clearly the bottom of the road user food chain we need every bit of help we can get, so if that little snippet does come in handy then job done.

Simon (aka Fat Man Slim) asked me a question yesterday about the gear I carry on my commute. So here goes.

My Road Bike and my Ridgeback commuter are equipped pretty much the same. Water Bottle holders x 2, a saddle bag containing a multi tool (including chain splitter) a spare inner tube, a puncture repair kit, tyre levers and a couple of pound coins just in case! Both bikes have pumps on the frame and I musn’t forget front and rear flashing LED lights too. But they’re not in the saddle bag obviously!

On Mondays I cycle in with a daysack (with Joby’s kindly donated daysack cover on it)

containing my laptop and various work stuff that I needed over the weekend, plus any kit swaps I need to do. I do try to do kit swaps when I’m driving. The laptop and daysack usually stay at work until Friday when they come home with me.

My Marin MTB has no kit whatsoever bolted to it and I carry everything in a Camelback mule which is a top piece of kit. The piccy below is the one I’ve got.

I must mention the fact that I wear a Muvi Cam on my helmet too. It’s a pretty fun thing to do as form of record keeping, but as Joby is proof of, they’re quite handy in a deterrence kind of way.
Usual trip to the Dodford tonight, only not. It’s the Pubs re-opening first Birthday celebrations this weekend and we’re camping out in the field around the pub so we can join in properly, there’s a BBQ, a band, St Georges Day festivities and a real ale beer festival so in all fairness there probably won’t be any post from me tomorrow as we’ll be back home late and have shed loads of family stuff to do. Have a good weekend everyone.