Monthly Archives: November 2011

Latest news…

I have been getting a few texts and emails from a few of you wondering where my daily blogs have gone. Thanks for that.

Just so you know, I have a very bad back as my Sciatica has decided to rear its ugly head again. I get it probably once or twice a year, I’m never sure what causes it, but the only relief is rest, painkillers and physio.

I just didn’t want to whinge on my blog about it, but the texts and emails have persuaded me to let you all know what’s occuring.

The blogs will re-start when I’m back in the saddle. I guess that’s the price of 35 odd years in the front row of a scrum…


Netherton Tunnel Pedal.

Last week I did a pedal through Netherton Tunnel .

I was recceing a commute on the canal that would get me to work without the trial that is the A456 Hagley Road.

The route took me through Lye, close to the Merry Hill Shopping Centre and on to the Dudley No2 Canal. It was very hilly especially on a singlespeed! The last climb up to the canal had me walking!

Once on the cut I was back on familiar towpath territory which as you know I enjoy. Pretty soon the tunnel loomed, I knew it wasn’t lit so I had my mega off road front light deployed.

Southside Portal.The tunnel itself was fascinating, there were drips from the air vents, a reasonable towpath and brilliant mineral deposits all along the walls with the small speck of the exit getting forever larger as you pedalled. Then out!

Northern Portal
The route then took me to the Birmingham Main line Canal which I knew took me past Smethwick and work.

On the main Line

I went past Winson Green Bridge which is where I get off usually for work before I moved house and carried on to Longbridge via Birmingham on the Worcester Birmingham Canal where wifey picked me up in the car.

The bottom line is that it’s not doable as a commute. The road bit to the canal is well dodgy and I had more close passes just getting to the canal than I have had in ages and that wasn’t in the rush hour! It seems the Black Country drivers can’t see cyclists! I could do it via a park and ride like the old days, but a lack of a car precludes that.

Anyway, an enjoyable pedal non the less. Route here.

Back to same old same old…

Have a look at this, unfortunately the vehicle registration doesn’t show up at all.


What Mountain Bike Article

For those of you who haven’t seen the article I had published in What Mountain Bike I have reproduced it below accompanied by Jo Burt’s fabulous illustration.

The italicised part of the article is an extra bit that Matt the editor asked for and then decided not to use. But I’ve whacked it in here for you. The whole piece is put on here with Matt’s permission. You can get What Mountain Bike (The best MTB mag in my humble opinion) at your local newsagent or here.

Article starts:

A toughie to write this one as it addresses some very hard questions that need answers.

It all started on the back of reading this blog by Gary Brennan.  He is talking about how it used to be for him and food before he lost an almost unbelievable 25 stones via the bike.

That struck a few very emotional chords with me; I used to do a very similar thing myself, only not consuming sweets, milk and crisps. Beer (real ale) and curry were my fixes of choice. Especially after a good day out at the rugby with my mates, or sat at home after a particularly bad day at work. Cooking? After my day at work? In your dreams! The beer thing is faintly worrying though, I still like a pint or 3 at the end of the week. And I do find myself craving a pint at various points in the week.  Am I an alcoholic I wonder? That’s something to ponder moving forwards. I have the curry addiction under control though.

That was mine and Gary’s abnormal relationship with food in the past but before we get to the nitty gritty of this piece and what I have to say, I must point out that I consider Gary a friend and someone who was instrumental in setting me on my way back to health and fitness back in 2009.

Take a look at the comments section of that very soul searching piece by Gary. A guy has dived in, in an unnecessarily argumentative manner in my view (but that’s the internet for you) to make the point that Gary has nothing to be proud of by losing 25 stones as he shouldn’t have got like that in the first place.

Now here’s the shocker, I agree totally with him. In fact I’ve always thought that, not about Gary in particular, but about me. I got to 22st 4Ibs with a background of the military, Mountain Biking and Rugby. I was a total active nut case. How the clucking bell did I let myself get to a state of morbid obesity? The fact that I’ve lost 7 and a half stones is nothing to be proud of, I’m ashamed I’ve had to lose it and still be in a position where I need to lose more.

But here’s the thing, 20 20 hindsight is a bloody handy thing to have. If I could have my time again knowing what I know now of course I’d do things differently, but I am where I am so deal with it fatso!

The argumentative chap in Gaz’s blog is wrong on couple of points though, it is frighteningly easy to put weight on and astoundingly difficult to get it off. If it is hard to get fat and easy to get thin, then you wouldn’t be seeing an epidemic of obesity hitting the Western World in general.

There’s a question that I asked on one of my first ever weight loss blogs over at the question was why did I get like it? Obviously by sitting on my arse and filling my face with crap! But why did I do that? I knew at an intellectual level that it wasn’t such a great idea and I could see myself getting fatter and ever more less fit and ill so again, why?

I have my own theory that it is a form of mental illness, I mean a sane person doesn’t knowingly self-harm do they? Lethargy and gluttony is self-harm no matter how much you package it in as many nudge nudge wink wink fat bastard jokes as you like.

This leads naturally to the murky, self-serving and dishonest world of politics for a grand scale solution.

I can very smugly take a bit of the moral high ground here, I never had any help from the medical profession or spent any of the NHS’s shrinking budget on getting myself better, nor has Gary, we did it the good old fashioned hard way.

But what about those who cannot help themselves? Do we continue spending money to treat the illnesses obesity causes or spend money on gastric band operations? I’m instinctively against the whole idea of gastric bands as it isn’t getting to the root cause of the issue, it’s just forcing people to eat less, but I’m not a medical professional so what do I know?

I’ll be totally honest here, and I’m not fence sitting, I don’t know what if anything the powers that be should be doing. My instinct is education at childhood to prepare kids to keep active and eat right, maybe even compulsory cooking lessons to prove that eating a balanced healthy diet with fresh produce isn’t expensive or a time consuming thing to do.

All I know is I’m not proud of myself,  I’m ashamed of myself in fact and I regret deeply the need to be doing what I’m doing now.

Oh and finally, just for clarity, I’m not out for sympathy, I never have been. This is my fault and only I can put it right.

Jo Burt's illustration


For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

By Laurence Binyon

A good home…

My mate Ski has just dropped by my work and I have donated my old Marin East Peak full suss MTB to him. I know he’ll get use out of it and look after it. I’m glad the old girl has gone to a good home.

This means we can go out offroad together now rather than sticking to the roads or towpaths. Looking forward to it.

I’m now down to just a morning to push ’til my break. I’m off as you know to Mumsies this evening with the kids, so there’ll no blog from yours truly until Monday or Tuesday.

Have fun.

Lower than a Submarine’s shithouse…

It seems the year from hell has finally caught up with me. I’m exhausted, both physically and mentally. My body is is shot, my shoulders are permanently aching and I have a never ending nagging headache. Add on to the fact my normal good humour is lacking and you can see why today and tomorrow morning can’t go quickly enough. The “can’t be arsed” attitude has landed.

My extra excercise came crashing to a halt also so it’s just been sporadic pedals indispersed with commuting.

That’s the downer out of the way. I’m trusting that the week and a half off, including a visit to my folks in Wales will sort me out.

But, the running and excercises will be starting again after my holiday. This time with a training partner. My daughter Fay. She has plans to go in the RAF so she needs to be fit. Those of us who have served will know if you’re fit then everything else is easier and it’s a route to instant kudos with the troops. So if she’s lucky enough to get in, she’ll be as fit as a butcher’s dog when she does.

I’m looking forward to having company!