Monthly Archives: June 2010

What a year!

I know time goes quicker as you get older but this year has really flown! Where has it gone?

I didn’t at the outset back in June 2009 think that I would be here now, a year down the line, typing this on my very own Blog, listing what has happened to me during this very eventful year.

A quick recap is in order I feel.

Before June the 30th 2009, I weighed 22 stones 4Ib. My waist was 50”. I couldn’t walk upstairs without getting out of breath. I had very high blood pressure that needed daily medication to control. I suffered with aching joints. I had sleep apnoea. I snored horrendously. The Doc was worried about diabetes and I thought that I wouldn’t see 50 years of age. Food and inactivity was quite literally killing me.

At the risk of being boring, I then found Frank’s Blog which lead to Gaz’s Blog and James’ Blog and without wishing to go into what it was like before, which I’ve spoken about at length previously, for some reason, these internet sites motivated me to act to save my life after 10 years of promising myself and others that I would act.

So I began pedalling again. After a very slow initial 12 miles per day 3 days per week, I am now banging out around 30 miles per day 5 days a week with good weekend bike rides too. To a total of around 3200 miles in the year.

This had the following effect. I am now just short of 5 stones lighter, my waist is around 38 – 40 inches depending on whose tape measure you believe, I no longer get out of breath doing normal stuff, I can buy off the peg clothes, my blood pressure is no longer dangerously high and much to wifey’s relief I no longer snore!

Me before all this at 22st 4Ibs.
The photos below are me now in the same T Shirt and shorts.


And finally a photo of my me now.

It’s only a start though; I’m still obese, I’m still nowhere near happy with my appearance or fitness and want to carry on. No, I need to carry on. I’m not setting any weight, pedalling or any other kind of target as I don’t do targets (June challenges aside, which was mileage achieved, 5st lost not quite), this is me forever. Well, as much as I can say this is me forever with my mental illness.

I am still I think, mentally ill. I genuinely believe that. I know I bang on about it, but would a “sane” person self harm via food and inactivity. I don’t think so. I know I am only one missed pedal or one pig out on junk food away from my old morbidly obese self. It’s a daily fight that I have and am sure I’ll always have.

That’s as much as I’ll say about that, this is meant to be a celebration!

Highlights, on the pedalling front? Loads, I’ll try and list a few:

1. Making the first pedal all the way to and from work.

2. Getting out of my saddle to stamp all the way up Cock Hill for the first time.

3. Wifey noticing that I could speak normally when I arrived home. That actually made me laugh when she told me.

4. The What Mountain Bike Photo shoot with Joolze.

5. Making it all the way to the top of Beacon Hill in the Lickey’s.

6. Heresy I know for this old MTBer, but (whisper it quietly) getting my road bike.

7. My first road 50 miler to Bridgenorth.

8. My first Monday to Friday full weeks commute.

9. Proud that I pedalled through the worst winter in years.

10. Meeting and pedalling with a few of my fellow cycling Bloggers, all crushingly good fellows!

Highlights off the bike:

1. The moment I cracked the 3 stone lost mark. Proof to me I was in the battle for the long haul.

2. Realising I could climb the stairs at work without getting out of breath.

3. Getting into 40” waist shorts.

4. Climbing a tree with the Spawn of Satan for the first time ever.

5. Starting walking again with wifey.

6. Becoming less (although not) self conscious about how I look.

7. Writing for the Bike Radar website and What Mountain Bike. (Still find that unbelievable).

8. General being less fat, body related stuff. All reformed fatties know what I mean here.

9. Controlling as much as is possible my food abuse.

10. New friends through Blogging.

It is with some regret that I didn’t start blogging about this epic “Journey” (sorry, hate that word) as soon as I started it. But, better late than never as they say.

I’m now going to say a genuinely heartfelt “thank you”, to you my Dear Reader. You know who you are and I’m not going to embarrass you by naming you. But you’ve become my trusted confidant, advisor, supporter but most importantly of all, my friend.

Suffice it to say I am under absolutely no illusions that I would not be here today having achieved what I’ve achieved without your help. That is the simple truth, and I hope you have found my sometimes sporadic support useful too. It is easy to get self obsessed about this to the exclusion of others. But I really do try my best.

It is a team game as well though, and the cycling/blogging community is a fabulous psychological crutch when the demons strike. And they’ve struck me a few times over the year. All obese folk know about the demons.

Looking ahead, I will be continuing this for life. I have to. If I stop I’ll become morbidly obese again and have an early death. Is that fair to my family? Absolutely not.

Enough now.

I’m going to finish this off with a sincere thank you to my lovely wife. She is the most deserving of appreciation and gratitude as she has to deal with my obsession on a daily basis face to face and not through the interweb!


I know this is taking me away from home at weekends and mornings when I’m off work. And I know how hard it is coping with what you have to cope with alone when I’m not there, but I hope (I know) you can see the benefit of this to you and the kids. I do try to get back as soon as humanly possible although it might not seem like it. And I’m also aware I’m not as supportive to you with your troubles as I can be when I’m off doing this stuff, that is something I will try much much harder at from now on I promise. Thanks for being there for me and helping me along the way. I couldn’t have got this far without you.

Luv ya sweetheart xxx.


Bus incident update…

Another Puncture on the way home last night! I’ll be doing something about it, what I don’t know yet later on in the week. New tyres, maybe slime, maybe gunk for the tubes, maybe everything!

Other than that the ride home along the cut and NCR5 was great.

Stats here:
Started: 28 Jun 2010 15:03:36
Ride Time: 1:21:35
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 16.34 miles
Average: 10.81 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 18.82 miles/hr
Climb: 407 feet
Calories: 1024

I came in on my road bike this morning due to the puncture situation on my Ridgeback! It was also an opportunity to give the Raceguards a test. A win! My bike is now quiet again and I even had a bit of rain to test the dryness of them. No wet arse so they must have worked!

Stats here:
Started: 29 Jun 2010 05:35:52
Ride Time: 35:31
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.78 miles
Average: 17.52 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 33.06 miles/hr
Climb: 157 feet
Calories: 605

Some of you may remember this post from last week.

I hope you did see it as of all the incidents I’ve had this was the one that spooked me the most, so much so I contacted the Bus Company involved and complained about it. I have never done anything like that before I hasten to add.

Below is the chain of emails, have a read.

Dear Sir,

I am emailing to inform you of an incident yesterday, 21st of June 2010 around 1520hrs at Stonehouse Lane, Weoley Castle/Woodgate Valley involving your vehicle L207 YAG.

I think this footage of the incident is worth more than a lengthy description.

Although the footage of the next incident doesn’t come out due to my distance away, the driver then jumped the red light to turn left into Jiggins Lane, which was when I realised where he was going and it was on my route. As you can imagine I was quite keen to discuss the incident with him. I also have that discussion on video which I’ll keep to myself for the moment.

Suffice it to say he denied all knowledge of the incident, said he hadn’t seen me which his bizarre left indication to “pull in front of me” disproves and point blank refused to apologise, although I hadn’t asked for one.

I have a wife and 2 young children at home and although I commute every day by push bike I would quite like to get home to them safe and sound every day, the actions of this driver do seem to be lessening my chances.

It is also ironic that you use Green quite openly in your branding and your driver seemed intent on taking out the only true green form of wheeled transport. I’m not an environmental Nazi by the way, just pointing out the irony.

And please don’t point out the difficulties of driving large vehicles, I used to drive double deckers for TWM and drive Class 1 lorries. I know about driving larger vehicles and this drivers actions were unacceptable.

I would like to be informed of any action you intend to take and evidence you’ve actually done it would be nice too. I also know how these things “work”.

Just for info I do not know how to adjust the date time stamp on my helmet cam, but as you can see it is clearly not the 15th of January.

Kind regards

Clive Chapman

Their reply:

Good morning Mr Chapman

I hope you are well

Re : Stonehouse Lane incident 21.06.2010

Thank you for your email

We shall investigate this incident thoroughly and report back to you shortly.

Thank you again

Kind regards

Simon Patchell

Operations and Customer Service Officer

The Green Bus

t: 0845 234 2222

f: 0121 643 6230



I waited for a while and got this:

Good morning Mr Chapman

Thank you for your email of 22.06.2010

Re : The Green Bus – Alleged Stonehouse Lane incident 21.06.2010

Following the alleged incident described below I have reported your concerns to the company’s Health and Safety Manager.

He will undertake a comprehensive professional assessment of the driver’s driving and will take any necessary action.

Furthermore, the company’s Human Resources Manager has arranged to discuss the matter you have reported with the driver concerned.

I will keep you fully informed regarding the outcome of our investigations.

Thank you again

Kind regards

Simon Patchell

Operations and Customer Service Officer

The Green Bus

I replied:

Thank you for your email.

I particularly enjoyed the “alleged” addition to the email title. I assure you my computerised graphics manipulation isn’t any good, so I am struggling to see what’s “alleged” in the video. I do admire your sense of humour.

Onto the meat of your email.

I also actually fail to see the relevance of assessing the driver’s capabilities. Being a professional driver he’ll be more than aux fait with the Highway Code and will also be more than capable of passing any driving assessment you may give him. But then of course you already know that.

I’m sure you have to be seen to be following your processes, but I am not satisfied with your plan, or any likely actions or outcome given your stated processes.

I’ll await the results, but please be assured, I am willing to take this much further if I believe you have fobbed me off.

More and more people are cycling now for various reasons and they quite naturally are amongst the most vulnerable road users, a total disregard for their safety, or even their presence as displayed by your driver should not happen, next time it might be a child on a bike he fails to “see” or acknowledge, and they might not be as lucky as I was.

You brand yourselves “Green”, I especially like the Sunflowers on your website, nice touch that (but given the age of your vehicles that branding is quite amusing by the way) so I imagine having various cycling groups protesting about your driver’s actions with all of the accompanying press that I have access to and with the video evidence being all over the internet wouldn’t be doing you or your companies image any favours what so ever. We do live in a very competitive recession filled time at the moment.


Clive Chapman

They then waded in with the big guns, the head honcho himself. Not my description by the way, that’s straight off their website.

Dear Mr Chapman

Thank you for your email to Simon Patchell. I am now dealing with this matter.

You have made an allegation of sub-standard driving in relation to one of our drivers. The company has responded appropriately to your allegation and has concluded its investigation into the matters you raise.

We are grateful to you for taking the time and trouble to contact us; but I am afraid that the company will not enter into any further dialogue with you regarding our actions from this point onwards. As you will appreciate from your long experience and expertise, matters between employers and employees must remain strictly confidential.

Kind regards

Ian Mack

Managing Director

The Green Bus

t: 0845 234 2222

f: 0121 643 6230



p: The Green Transport Company Limited, 111 New Street, Birmingham B2 4EU

I followed up with this:

Unfortunately over the years, this is the kind of hiding behind regulations that I have come to expect, and also unfortunately due to early senility my mind reading abilities have diminished too. So I have no way to establish your true motives.

If you have no intention of informing me of the actions you are taking (none as I suspect) then I have no way of knowing if you take road safety seriously other than hiding behind BS whatevers or ISO whatevers, which as we all know are paper/ tick box excercises that you can point to, to those who are clueless or easily impressed.

I would like to know what you intend to do or have done other than engage me in emails at a suitable time scale to infer an investigation.

If I am not satisfied, or not informed of your actions, which common courtesy and politeness would say is reasonable considering your driver nearly killed me, then I will publicise this incident in all of the local press (Which due to the nature of my industry I have very good access to and good relations with) and various internet and cycling organisations that I have access to and contribute to.

I have already emailed the Youtube link to the West Midlands Police Road safety advisory team by the way and I’ve already noticed the footage has already appeared on a very high traffic National website relating to bad driving, which I didn’t put there by the way.

I think, (wrong) I know, that if our roles were reversed I would be absolutely certain you would want to know what I was doing to ensure that such a breach of road safety was investigated thoroughly and what steps I was taking to prevent such things happening again.

Your companies attitude towards this lead to a quite natural distrust of your motives, imply a cover up and a determination to ignore what is the most basic of duties for a Public Service Bus Company. That of taking road safety seriously.

Words mean nothing, they are hollow, easily typed, I need to see evidence that this isn’t an under the carpet job as I suspect it is.

You’ve just effectively said to me, we might do something now go away. Again, what if our roles were reversed?

I’m not asking for anything unreasonable. It’s you who’ve just upped the stakes and in all honesty I have got nothing to lose here.


Clive Chapman

And that ladies and gentlemen is where it was left as of last Thursday. The Bus Company obviously isn’t going to contact me again like they said.

That’s that then.

Slime inner tubes.

I’m going to get some. Yet another puncture this morning coming in along the cut. I’m bored of them now.

Other than that I didn’t see a soul and it was very pleasant.

No physical after effects from my 40 miler yesterday which is nice.

Stats here:
Started: 28 Jun 2010 05:34:23
Ride Time: 1:15:42
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 16.01 miles
Average: 11.71 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 35.45 miles/hr
Climb: 131 feet
Calories: 961

A few bits to catch up on, I fitted some Crud RoadRacer mudguards on to my Giant on Saturday. The shop fitted Giant ones were making a horrible noise and I couldn’t shut the little blighters up.

The Roadracers were very easy to fit. The only issue was me cutting the “reusable” cable tie to free up the rubber bands to fit the stays to the fork, You need the cable tie to fix the mudguard to the brakes! Oops, that’s what happens when you don’t read the very helpful sign attached to the cable tie saying “do not cut, reusable cable tie”. Lucky I have a shed load of cable ties in my tool box.

They look good, now I have to see if they ride ok.

Our Saturday bimble down the bridleway went very well. We collected quite a bit of hedgrow food which went into our meals on Saturday and Sunday.

Wifey and the kids got some horseradish, lovely with the Beef on Sunday. Some wild rasberries, which went with Icecream for dessert. Sorrell and watercress which makes a banging soup and finally some Elderflower, which wifey made into a very refreshing cordial which I did my level best to finish off quite selfishly yesterday after my 40 miler.

Fay and Dan getting the wrong end of a nag.
Fay with redeye!
Wifey and Dan in the background digging up horseradish, Fay getting in on the pic too.
Fay picking the Elderflower.
Dan (aka Spawn of Satan) legging it with our booty.

Canal, 40 miler.

Just got back from my pedal with my mate Ski.

First off, I must apologise to him, he doesn’t get a chance to pedal too often and I think this hurt him. We’ve always had through the years pretty much the same level of fitness until I got fat! But I think I’m a pretty fair way ahead at the moment. But it was a testament to his grit and his determination that I know he’s got in spades due to other stuff we’ve done in the past that he got through it. He is always working away and living in hotels so it must be hard to keep in shape with a lifestyle like that.

Onto the pedal, route here:

Stats here:
Started: 27 Jun 2010 06:13:24
Ride Time: 4:11:04
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 40.95 miles
Average: 10.90 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 33.95 miles/hr
Climb: 1099 feet
Calories: 2931

We hammered the lanes to Solihull to get on to the Grand Union Canal at Catherine De Barnes. Where the fun would start.

Ski hammering the lanes around Wythall.
The obligatory “catch me natural” at the start of the cut.
We then carried on along the cut until, we came to the first major thing of note, Knowle Locks.
And a chance for a drink!
The next thing of note was the Black Boy Pub a place I hadn’t visited since I was a boy. Unfotunately due to our earliness it wasn’t open, so a try of the beer was not an option!

The bikes parked up at the Black Boy.

After the Black Boy pit stop, we headed off towards Lapworth and the end of the Grand Union phase of the pedal. The towpath got a bit dodgy as it was very uneven, narrow and pretty sloping down towards the water. I kind of thought Ski would struggle a bit.
As you can see by the duelling scars caused by an unscheduled dismount he did have his moments!
This was the result of a coming together between him and a thorn bush…
My dueling scar was caused by catching my leg on a fence post, I think, I can’t remember what happened truth be told.
Then it was onto the Stratford Canal at Lapworth, this would take us all the way to Kings Norton Junction and NCR5.
First off was Lapworth Locks at the Boot pub.
I took this from the bridge over the canal.
Ski commented that only I could find canal’s with hills!
There was now quite a blast over towards Kings Norton, and due to the good weather a few narrow boats were chugging up and down the canal.
Then we left the cut at Kings Norton Junction where I took this on the bridge.
NCR5 is the route forking off to the right off the cut.
A swift pedal on NCR5 took us pretty much all the way to my house. Apart from stopping for my normal visit from the puncture fairy, everything functioned as it should.
I hope Ski enjoyed it as much as I did, he did say he wants to do it again in a couple of weeks as training for when we pedal to my Mom and Dad’s at Tywyn in Wales. I have seen him looking better though at the end of the pedal.
Normal commute tomorrow, undecided between road bike or a NCR5 and canal pedal. I’ll probably make my mind up when I open the garage tomorrow!


Going for a family bimble later over the Bridleways around Belbroughton that I pedal on my MTB. Kids and dogs all in tow, maybe stop for a picnic too.

We’re also going to dig up some Horseradish that grows over there in abundance, home made Horseradish sauce is nothing like the shop brought stuff. It’s also a good solution to sinusitus. If when you’re grating the root stick your head right in the bowl and take a really good deep breath from the grated root. Trust me, you’ll never have a blocked nose again! Or blocked anything else for that matter, I can only liken it to being caught without your respirator (gas mask) when you’re being subjected to CS gas (tear gas) in the respirator testing chamber when I was in the army. Try it if you dare!

Then it’ll be bike sorting time. Road bike needs a bit of maintenance, it has an annoying noise coming from it and I’ll be getting my Ridgeback MTB ready for the 40 plus miler (thanks Phill) I’m doing with my mukka tomorrow.

We’re off at early O’Clock so I’ll be blogging PM tomorrow I guess.

Yesterday’s pedal home stats here:
Started: 25 Jun 2010 11:44:35
Ride Time: 44:51
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.79 miles
Average: 13.83 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 39.21 miles/hr
Climb: 262 feet
Calories: 786

Again, pretty slow.

TGIF, no really TGIF, seriously…

Another full week pedalling, no car at all which pleases me immensley, even though I use it for rugby stuff, I’m not fit enough yet to commute of a day then pedal to rugby meetings of an evening. Especially when they’re right over the other side of Birmingham! Oh well maybe one day.

This morning’s pedal was fine, nothing to report other than a brilliantly bright sunny morning. That’ll do me.

Stats here:
Started: 25 Jun 2010 05:20:17
Ride Time: 37:58
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.59 miles
Average: 15.16 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 32.94 miles/hr
Climb: 328 feet
Calories: 564

A bit slower than usual though. Not to worry.

Last night’s pedal home was pretty standard too, again nothing to tell you about.

Started: 24 Jun 2010 15:03:38
Ride Time: 47:14
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.70 miles
Average: 13.32 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 32.45 miles/hr
Climb: 787 feet
Calories: 852

Hmm, that was a slow one too. I told you my legs are feeling it now. I feel quite tired in the mind too. Not that you’d notice. Like I said, TGIF!

Wifey thinks I’ve lost quite a bit of weight again, she said so last night, I also noticed last night that my new 40″ waist shorts I got about 3 weeks ago are constantly in need of being hiked up. I’ll have to get a belt on them. That’s got to be good hasn’t it?

Weigh in later, the scales don’t lie. Although I’ll save the scores on the doors for next Wednesday.

I have to tell you this funny story from home yesterday evening too. Regular readers will know that my 3 year old lad Dan (aka The Spawn of Satan) is a bit of a handful. Anything he can get into he does and if it ain’t nailed down or breathing he’ll either try to eat it or break it. He obviously takes after his Mom.

Anyway, due to his behaviour we’ve had to put bolts high up on all of the doors upstairs, except his bedroom so he doesn’t go in and trash the other rooms. His elder sister Fay who’s 13 was getting very bored of it!

Fay was in her room trying to do her homework last night (my angel) and Dan kept on barging in and generally being Dan. ‘Nuff said there, so Fay asked if we could bolt her door from the outside so Dan wouldn’t keep disturbing her. No problem.

A bit later we put Dan to bed, (thank God) and went to watch a bit of TV. When Dan’s in bed everyone, the dogs included, know to be quiet!!!!!!!!!

About an hour into the TV program my phone went, I had a text. It said – “Can you come and let me out of my room, I’m dying to go to the toilet”. We’d forgotten about Fay! I quite naturally texted her back and said “No P yr pants” as a good Father would.

Luckily she saw the funny side of it when we eventually let her out 2 hours later when our film had finished.

Dodford tonight, then no bike but family stuff tomorrow. Have a good weekend everyone!

Damn you June challenges!

Had a really crap night’s sleep, maybe the heat, or maybe I’m not as fit as I should be. After yesterday’s pedal home I was absolutely shattered and felt pretty crap all evening. Nothing to report on the pedal by the way.

Stats here:
Started: 23 Jun 2010 15:03:31
Ride Time: 46:07
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.71 miles
Average: 13.63 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 34.46 miles/hr
Climb: 430 feet
Calories: 829

Which is why I say damn the June challenges. I am going to keep going until the 30th to achieve as high mileage as possible and get as close to 5 stone lost as possible. After that I’m having a week off the bike and resting.

The male of the species will get the next paragraph totally.

Why don’t I rest now? That’s simple, I’m a bloke and there’s a competition on and I can’t back away. Stupid isn’t it? It really is the same as when you were a kid and you’re dared to do something and you say no. Then the person calls you a chicken and you know you have to do it. Too much testosterone I guess. Wifey calls us men simple primitive creatures and I suppose (grudgingly) she might have a point.

I’m not saying some women aren’t like that, indeed I met a few in the Army, but it’s more of a trait I’ve noticed in my gender.

So, that leaves me today, Friday, day off on Saturday, a big off road ride on sunday, then commuting up until the 30th. Then I’m going to have a rest from the bike for a week, I’ll stay sensible with the grub obviously and I’ll start doing some fitness work on my upper body. Just body weight excercises, pull ups, press ups and various types of sit ups which are good for the core. That will probably help my permanently aching back and neck!

Wifey is motivating me to do that too, she thinks that I’ll somehow get my rugby playing physique back. Dream on love, I’m not in my 20s now!

Onto today’s pedal, I’m sat here feeling knackered, but despite all I said above I broke my pedal in to work record. How the flinkin’ blip does that work? I tell you, there’s stuff about this weight loss, fitness, excercise malarky that makes absolutely no sense to a simple primitive creature like me!

Stats here:
Started: 24 Jun 2010 05:38:22
Ride Time: 32:44
Stopped Time: 0:00
Distance: 11.81 miles
Average: 17.88 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 38.16 miles/hr
Climb: 75 feet
Calories: 961