Archive for February 2010

Carbs, Cake, Riding, Rambling, Owiness. Thanks.

February 28, 2010

I have so much to say that I don’t know where to start, or whether to say it all now or wait for fear of writing a large and unfollowable hodge podge of forever segue-ing thoughts. I think I’ll err on the side of sensible and start with the weekly photo then a description of Saturday and maybe follow that with my own special collection of brain meanderings. Feel free to ignore them if you wish. Now that’s sorted… 

This week’s ride was unusual. That doesn’t make it bad but it did differ for me from my usual view of a Saturday. I’ve put the road bike pedals on the tourer to give me time to get used to them. They are different from what I’m used to. On the way to meet Mr Kirby for the ride in I realised my computer wasn’t recording. That’s annoying, even slightly. It was pretty wet round our way though those closer to Pont had seen snow!

I had said that I would only be riding if I somehow managed to eat enough to replace what I lost Thursday, keep me through Friday and build me up for Saturday but that didn’t happen. It was almost impossible to begin with. Sod it was my thought as I stuffed the most substantial breakfast in I could and chucked 4 teaspoons of sugar in my water bottle. I was surprised though that my legs were turning fairly easily compared to my expectations, we were taking it gently though.

We stopped at Stannington to fix my computer and adjust my cleats. Keith joined us here. What was funny was that riding up into Stannington Mark and I were poking fun at a rider coming towards us on a black bike dressed entirely in black with a flashing light. Sorry Keith. He’s a man that will ride whatever comes his way, 2 weeks after breaking his ribs he was out riding. Honestly, you don’t know whether to worship him or smack his bum and send him home to bed. On the way in we spotted a petite blonde streak pedalling ahead. Very kindly she stopped to wait for us but afraid we’d make her late for the faster ride I sent her on. I wish I hadn’t now as she was there at the café when we arrived which just made me feel meanL.

Meeting at Pont, already cold and wet it was supremely surprising to see a light on in Anna’s café. That was such a nice and very much needed surprise.  It made a big difference to be sitting in that warm small room feeling part of a community.  The absence of a few people who have quickly become a favourite part of my weekend was noticeable here. No And, No SHoldaz. I have to admit that made it weird but I’m not sure what bearing it had on the rest of my day. I’ll let you decide. We set off to the stables at Bolam. I’ve said it before and I’m going to keep saying it till it’s no longer true. It’s frustrating being at the back it is, especially in the pouring freezing rain and snow. Snow! Gah.  It wasn’t a long ride to the Stables and I remember someone pointing out the start line for something called the hilly 21. Anyway, we got to the coffee stop rather early, at about 11:10 and someone said “it’s early, let’s do a loop round here” uh huh… 5 of us set off. I have to tell you there was quite some UP where-ever it was we were (anyone know? I’m bad at directions) and I really put my heart and soul into it. I worked and it hurt and I got there. I’m not sure that was wise given the aftermath of the stomach bug but if you’re going to do something then now is the right time. That added an extra 10 mile onto my day and I both hated it and loved it, despite the fact that I was soaked and my feet were so cold that they actually hurt.

After coffee and some soup (and Eileen’s introduction to cake… rant about this coming later…) I was very aware that I had put more effort in than I usually would and was worried that due to the lack of nutrition I was mostly fuelled by sugar, which would end with a bang soon Mark and I opted to leave the group for home somewhere on the Belsay road. I’ve never done that before and felt like a bit of a cheat but it was the right decision as we were very cold and very wet and I’m not sure I would have made it home from Ponteland. My stomach was cramping already and the ride home was slow. Mr Kirby bless him kept checking I was alright, did I want a cereal bar? Was the speed ok? Was I still there? I did chastise him for it, I’m a big girl you see but truth be told it’s lovely to have someone looking out for me. He even gave me a round of applause at the top of the Whorral bank out of Morpeth and escorted me to my door. I’m not great at allowing others to worry about me so I’m trying hard to tell people I both noticed and appreciated it. Cup of coffee, Mark off home, bath, 2 glasses of red and a takeaway then in bed by nine.


(not included are the ten miles from my house to Stannington which went unrecorded due to computer issues)

47.815                   distance (+ 10)

4.09.57                  time

29.8                        max speed

11.5                        Average Speed

The Ramblings

First one: One of the newer members a lovely lady with an excellent story, at about 5 foot nothing lost six stone and is now a size 8 told me she isn’t fit, fast enough or skinny enough. It’s funny how being a fatty isn’t actually a fat thing but a head thing huh? This lass is up the hills before me but doesn’t think she’s fit, she’s spending her time running marathons and riding some 30 miles in the snow but she’s fat and lazy? She’s a teeny tiny size 8 and she’s telling me she’s fat.. None of that is true. The battle to live happily and well really isn’t a physical one, it’s a mental one. That’s where wars are won. Take any ammo you can and use it. To anyone else feeling this way I’d like to relate this story:

I never allowed mirrors around me, hated looking at myself in them. Hated seeing the truth. Our one full length mirror was shut in my husband’s wardrobe. I brought it downstairs and leaned it against the wall to do something one day recently and it never went back upstairs. Slowly, over the weeks I’d catch glimpses of myself out of the corner of my eye and it started dawning on me more and more… All of the comments people had made were true. I’m looking good, tighter, leaner, much better legs, much happier. That mirror taught me to look at myself and to appreciate what I see. Try it please.

Second one: Closely related to the first one. Battles are won in the head. This lovely lady cut out carbs as some people are wont to do. Now, this may get you skinnier, not because of any pseudo science but because by cutting an entire food group from your life you are restricting your calories. The downside? Your body is a smart machine that needs fuel. Cutting an entire food from your life is no way to make a lifelong change, it makes it dull, and complicated and a chore. More importantly it makes your body not work. What do you want? Do you want to be skinny and too tired to enjoy it, constantly slaving yourself to those scales and “rules” or do you want a happy life, filled with energy and biggrin moments where all you need to think about is making the sensible choice 9 times out of ten? The coffee stop filled me with glee watching this lovely lass devour a nice bit of cake after so much abstinence. There’s the joy in your life, there’s always room for cake in a sensible lifestyle. Lady, we are finally free!!!!!!!

Third One: I was talking about not messing around in my last post and with this in mind, and the absence of a few of my gassing buddies I found myself actually not sitting back as much as I usually would. Probably this wasn’t such a good idea after being ill but then I’m not known for my good ideasJ. I did throw myself at a few hills more than I usually would and I did hurt. It felt good to be told I was getting stronger but honestly, I think I’m often stronger than I show and maybe that’s a failing maybe I’m too conscious of not getting home or maybe I’m just a pussy. Which brings me to some sort of point. I would rather suffer alone. I’m not good at showing my pain. Where do I go with that? Is that wise?


Meeblings of a Feeble Mind

February 26, 2010

I’m going to start by telling you that tomorrows ride was in jeopardy. I woke up yesterday morning with what seemed to be a disproportionate hangover. My mate And and I went for a few drinks so that I could have a good rant about stuff, clear my head. It worked but I didn’t do my usual fish drinky trick and was on the eleven o clock bus home. No, turns out the Junior cyclist had kindly donated his nasty stomach bug to me. Cue a day of constantly attempting to keep a sip of water in my body and the oh so fun “which end do I point at the basin?” game. Oh my god, the pain! But I woke up this morning and so far have kept a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup all to myself, rather uncomfortably but you take a triumph where you can and providing I can get enough food in me to see me through I’ll be riding tomorrow. Whoooooo Hooo.

I have mixed emotions about tomorrow. I want to take the road bike since I’ve barely had the chance to ride it but the weather is not really good enough and I have no mudguards but James had a point about the tourer, It’s a good bike but it is heavy and hard work. Still, And takes his out so I might, just to cheer myself up. I love to ride. Love it love it love it. Tomorrow though will see a ride without some of my favourite people. No And, he’s away somewhere, No SHoldaz, she has visitors and no MR Kirby by the looks of it as he says he’s not feeling up to it. I hope he changes his mind. On the up side I don’t think I’ve ever ridden into Pont alone so that might be nice and the household cyclist has threatened to ride to Pont after work to escort me home. I so hope he does, I love riding with him and we definitely don’t do enough of that. 

Right, I want to comment on the little blog swop fun we had. I posted what MJ (the Magic James) wrote exactly as he wrote it and watching someone elses opinions of you is a bit strange to say the least. He called me a square peg and I guess he’s right but you see, with the Vags I feel like I fit. I feel happy and comfortable and accepted, which is nice. James, I have to say, stop bloody referring to me as a stalker! I don’t know, I show you support and this is how you repay me! Might I remind you of this:  and of course how you forced me to swap jerseys with you at Annas? Or how you hang onto said jersey? Who’s stalking who here?? (revenge is sweet 😉  ) But in all seriousness, as mean as we are to each other it’s good to have a strong support network. Those people who believe in you when you cant or wont believe in yourself, I count you as one of them.

Which brings me to my next point. It’s odd that James wrote “No one knows what’s under there. No one knows the full potential. ” That’s something I’ve been thinking of a lot recently. Just what am I capable of? How far can I go? I think I don’t really know my own capabilities but maybe it’s time I start finding out instead of just messing around. Thing is, I like messing around. It’s always been more important to me to have fun than to do serious but I am acutely aware of how much I’m changing  so we shall see. And then MJ says “So you ask me now, who’s inspirational?” Well in my usual self deprecating fashion I’d make an aw shucks face and change the subject but today? Well. Firstly, thanks for the kind words Im going to take them in the spirit in which they were meant and send them right back at you MJ. Now, part of me realises that I do stuff that others wouldn’t, after a nasty bout of stomach bug what I’m doing, finding ways to get enough food in me so I can ride 60-odd miles in the rain tomorrow, is plainly unusual. I can see that. I don’t really accept that I’m that inspirational. I’m not doing anything that anyone else isnt capable of but then Im doing this for selfish reasons. I like the time to myself, it stops me going nuts and I don’t want to die an early death with missing limbs and blindness from diabetes and be winched out through a window when I die. If you have a body and a mind then you make your choices and pay the price I guess. What I am pretty sure of is that most people can do this. Honestly, if I can you can. You just have to get your head in first.

The 22 Stone Cyclist Wades In..

February 24, 2010

A post from someone not me, in revenge for me posting on his blog…..

Driving to work this morning it occurred to me that whilst my personal life has taken many twists and turns in the last couple of weeks, my cycling and weight loss life has become somewhat stagnant. I’m training hard for a season of time trials, which whilst I’m seeing ever so slight increases in cycling fitness, my weight loss has ground to a resounding halt rather in the same way a gigantic cruise liner would if it collided with an iceberg. The silence echoes around the bathroom every time I stand on the scales. Based on this quite frustrating state of stagnation, finding the material to write about and impetuous to blog is quite difficult, especially as I feel I have nothing of any importance to say to anyone. So, during one of our usual aimless and futile MSN conversations (which let’s face it, is about the only type of conversation you’ll get out of me anyway) Carrie and I decided to do a Blog Swap. Like a Wife Swap, but without the hormones, crying and irritating TV presenter. This, ladies and gentlemen, is our gift to the cycling blogosphere, the Blog Swap. (Carrie, should we trademark “Blog Swap”?)

First of all, I should introduce myself. I’m James, aka the 22 Stone Cyclist (go on – have a look: I’m 33 years old, and whilst some consider that young, my 33 years has been nothing short of eventful. i’m adopted – the result of an out-of-marriage affair. I was sent away to school at the age of 8. I was systematically bullied all through school. I played rugby for North Yorkshire. I got myself super fit and 13 stone, mountain biking 20-30 miles a day. I came to Uni, discovered beer, women, cigarettes and music, and the weight came on. I’ve had bad relationship after bad relationship. And now, at the age of 33, I’ve just broken off a 4 year relationship with my fiancee. I’ve gone from 22 stone 4 lbs to 15 stone 8 lbs in just over a year, and have discovered a love of racing. The net result is what some have described as “a loveable rogue” – a colourful person with a past. Therefore, you can take it for granted that I am not the kind of person to associate with just *anyone*. I don’t have time for sheep – people who follow trends, fashion and just do what they think everyone else wants them to do. I also don’t like people who try to be different for the sake of being different. I like genuinely *different* people. I like the square pegs in the round holes. I like the people who frustrate you with their greatness and ability to stand out, rather than those who frustrate you for just “being”. I surround myself by charismatic individuals who bring something different to the party. I love square pegs.

Carrie is a square peg.

I’ve know Carrie for some months now, after she added herself quite unceremoniously as a friend of mine on Facebook and started stalking me on my blog (in a non sexual or threatening nature, although I’m sure that would have been fun also). She then joined the Vags, and has been a permanent fixture in the Saturday Easyride ever since. Why is it that I like Carrie? Well, it’s simple. I see a little bit of me in her. I understand that cycling is a male dominated sport, and most of these males are skinny, god like beasts with legs like The Terminator and the body fat of Paris Hilton after a rather strict diet. Carrie and I have neither. We’re… pleasantly plump. We don’t fit into the cycling stereotype. I think we can both admit that I don’t look as good in lycra as Lance Armstrong and Carrier doesn’t look as good as Lizzie Armistead. That’s just fact. But what we both have is the same grit and determination as any cyclist we know, and in fact in some cases more so. Carrie turns out every week, regardless of weather, on a bike better suited to commuting and touring (although I know she has some carbon in the wings) and mixes it with people half her size on superlight race bikes. I do the same. Every week is the same – an opportunity to prove just how far we’ve come, and to demonstrate a future potential. I have no doubt in mind that Carrie, once the excess weight is shifted, will be an extremely competent club cyclist, maybe even a time trialist.

I know some consider me to be inspirational. That’s fine, I can cope with that. I don’t agree with it, but I can cope with it. The truth is, I’m lucky. Even at 22 stone, the doctor couldn’t believe my heart rate and blood pressure. Underneath the fat is a fit person dying to get out (yes, just the one). I knew this, and had known it for a long time. Carrie is different. No one knows what’s under there. No one knows the full potential. This girl just decided to hop on a bike because her husband has bikes. She turned up at a Vag’s club ride because I suggested she should. And now she’s looking at young, thin, fit men and asking herself how long until she can beat them. So you ask me now, who’s inspirational?

I guess I’m using up my free ticket to blog share heaven praising Carrie because I am notoriously bad at doing it in person, and on a regular basis. Like Carrie said on my blog, I’m not perfect. And I never pretend to be. I know I have flaws, and one of them is telling people what they mean to me and congratulating them when they need or deserve it. So here’s mine. Carrie, YOU are an inspiration. You do what a million others can’t, and a whole load more simply won’t. I’m proud to have you as a friend, a fellow fatty, a blogger and a Tyneside Vagabond. Well done.

Now can I keep that US Postal jersey please? Everyone agrees it brings out the blue in my eyes… 

(If I ever get that pearl izumi sesame street jersey I so dearly want then you’ll get the US Postal jersey. deal??)

When Cycling Changes Lives

February 22, 2010

I don’t know where to start or even where this post is going. Usually I have a coherent plan for my posts, even if they look quite random, but I’ve been going through some personal upheavals which always leads to thinking and thinking is never good.

And here was the thought: who am I? what do I want? Why when I can barely get off the sofa can I still put on my thermals and go riding all day. So, my point. Cycling changes lives. Is it for the better? Is my life better?

Lets think about this, when I started cycling I was 16 1/2 stone, I smoked and drank and got out of breath at the top of the stairs, my husband went out cycling with his friends while I sat in the house eating chips and ice cream. Coming home from holiday I realised how unhappy my lifestyle made me and I got on my crappy hybrid and started riding to work 4 times a week. This spiralled into joining a club and dropping a few stone and no fags…. just like that. Everything I do now is cycling centric. I do mean everything. If I’m not doing it I’m thinking about it. I’m talking about it, researching it, buying parts and bikes and reading books on training. I have read precisely one book that isn’t bike related in 5 months. I used to read 10 per week… Thats how deep it goes. Is this a good thing?

The good things: In no particular order.

It makes me happy, nothing works to alleviate the deep black days as well as pedalling.

My body is beautiful, I have womans legs, much smaller than they were and a waist and muscles, I love my body which is a new feeling for me and I like it.

I feel like me for the first time I feel true to myself, like I know who I am and what I need and deserve.

I have achieved something, quite a lot probably and it’s because I have worked for it and refused to give up. self-esteem is a wonderful gift.

I am fit and can run around with the junior cyclist, it’s not unusual for me to jog along beside him when he cycles to school then hammer his tiny bike home. In fact the Household Cyclist commented on how fast I’ve suddenly started walking today.

I feel a sense of purpose and that I have a value now.

I can share my good days and bad days with people who accept me solely for me, Carrie.

I have some pretty amazing friends now, on top of the two or three amazing friends I already have. I feel soo lucky.


The Other Things: In no particular order.

I’m not sure it’s mentally healthy to be this obsessed, many years ago I coped with the mental illness by means of a drink/fag/food/drug habit, am I swapping one addiction for another? Is that healthy?

Will these huge changes in my own self worth brought on by the cycling ultimately alienate me from the people who have always loved me?

Will it all get too much for me one day, will I just give up, collapse on the sofa and grow a few more spare tyres?

Am I becoming overly self involved? Is it ok to leave my child with a sitter every Saturday so that I can go torture myself and talk to people who don’t call me mam?

Did I steal my husbands thing from him? Cycling was what he did. I feel like I ran in and stole his thing. I feel sometimes like I violated his space but I can’t stop. Dont want to. Wont. So I also feel selfish. No matter how much he supports me, which is a huge amount. No matter how gracious he can be I have this irrational worry that I have taken something from him and he’s right to be annoyed about that.

There is one thing that fits into both categories, as a person I am changing, rapidly. I am becoming the person I deserve to be, whole, happy, sure of my own opinions, feelings, emotions and worth ( on the good days at least).I know my family and true friends want that for me but it’s happening so quickly and sometimes it seems to be rocking the very core of my existence and those close to me. How do I find the balance? how can I do what I have rarely done before and put my growth at the forefront of my life? How, when it’s all so unsure and hard for everyone do I continue to grow and change and become the person I am without forcing those close to me to do the same? It’s a conundrum for sure. One I think that will only be solved with time.

1 Day Ahead & A There But For The Grace Of God

February 20, 2010

well, first I do want to thank Keith Briggs for that wonderful picture of me ice riding round a corner. It’s absolutely gorgeous. What you didn’t see was new guy Dan panicking when I informed him that the clean patch of road he was riding down the big hill on was mostly ice… Or the four or five sensible riders pedestrianising said hill.. Which leads me to say that today was very much a fun day for me. I appear to have found my middle name, it’s Nofear.

As a former commuter adverse weather is something I just live with. Riding the distances I do now, especially after the hole head incident and the learning from real cyclists I am actually far more cautious than I once was, even on my big heavy slightly thicker tyred tourer I balked at riding this morning. No way was I getting out of my hometown on 2 wheels, the ice under the snow was far too slidey. Luckily or thankfully after much internet whinging and slightly frantic texting And said he’d come get me. Yay. So, I swapped the pedals from the road bike to the tourer (I didn’t even know I knew how to do that!) and we drove off.

At Pont the turnout wasnt huge but did contains some of my favourite people and off we trundled, there were a few rubber up shiny down incidents, some worse than others and some hairy shiny moments of slidyness from most of us. I personally was not in the best of moods for some good reasons and was quieter and more touchy and pretty up-then-down too. But make it to the cafe stop we did, though quite slowly. I’ll tell you something, that Keith Briggs can climb on ice, there is a guy with good eyes and no fear!

The group at the cafe was small by comparison and I just found being chatty a struggle but you know, no one is on form all the time. So, coming back to Pont was for some reason quite speedy and also rather fun. There was more of the letting loose and the lighthearted peeing contests that make me laugh with joy. But coming close to Pont I made a point of making sure I got to talk to newgirl Sue ( who will now be referred to as SHoldaz, just cos I like it and her… and everyone I like gets their own name..). I like this lass, she’s a mean machine with a wicked fun mind and a gorgeous smile who will be kicking butt in the very soon future, probably mine…

So, that was my day. tiny mileage, at least 40 short of a normal Saturday, I don’t feel fully exercised but there are other battles to be fought and here’s one;

You see on the right of this column there’s a sidebar with something like “linky clicky”? under that is this link to something called the Laura Dodds Fund. This is something important to me that has also personally touched those close to me. If you like what I do please show it and click it, donate. I don’t care what, even a quid makes a difference.

I’ll even put the link here to make it easy.

If you don’t like what I do well, I can live with that, so donate for the sheer altruism of it all 😀

and Andy says…

Woke up with last night’s snow frozen to the ground – bugger. I’d been looking forward to this ride all week. So next followed some quickish plan forming and a car trip to Ashington. I knew I’d made the right choice in getting out my nice warm bed when I saw the morning sunshine on the snow dusted landscape on the way up – very picturesque. We drove some of the back roads we’d normally use to get to Ponteland and it would have been impossible to ride without at least one visit to the ground. The ride roads were ok by comparison if a little micey in places. Rest of the ride as described by Carrie except to say that it was surprisingly warm today thanks to the sun and unsurprisingly slippy thanks to the ice. Nice to talk to some new faces too.
…oh, and apologies to everyone who had to listen to my brakes today 🙂

Not Quite a Cold Day In Hell

February 20, 2010

Have the journal picture. Was the shortest ride I’ve done in a long time. So here’s the photo. See you later for the report.

A Fistful of Up, A Momentous Occasion, Tea with the Magic James

February 16, 2010

And a first for me. Today I went to Rothbury. This is a bit of a momentous occasion as you all know I’m just not good at the up. So, as best I can through the fog of shatteredness, I’m going to bore you all with a description of my day.  

I left home at 10am with a google map and a squiggly pile of directions, these directions said it was 24 miles to Rothbury where the Magic James had promised me a free cuppa if I made it. 24 miles sounds like nothing huh? 24 miles of mostly up sounds impossible and one friend advised me to attempt just half the journey on my first time out that way. But, you know, sensible isn’t my middle name. I don’t have a middle name though if I did it would probably be deathwish or nice-glass-of-red or maybe Muh? Oooh, or possibly random. Um right, distracted…… ok. Up into Morpeth, through Fairmoor to somewhere called Pigdon? (who names these places?) and the going was hard. It takes me a good few miles before I stop having to work at it, a good few miles of why don’t I just turn back now and camp out on the sofa with a nice bit of cake. Of course, that would be the sensible choice.  

I got to a mean UP somewhere past Netherwitton  ( sorry Mark, I ignored your instructions to turn off for a less evil route ) and my phone rang, climbing some mean up while conversing with my husband was hard like. I get lost in a crisp packet so when the Household Cyclist told me that was forestgate I believed him.  I passed some sort of B&B called The Gate? Which was bizarrely advertising a hay show? That’s what they do for fun? Look at hay? Boggling.. anyway… I keep the wheels turning and start to go downwards, look right and see what seems to be a rather large and evil looking up (was this forestgate?) . Pay attention because this is where things took a turn for the weird. I heard a maniacal laugh and the screaming of “bring it” coming from somewhere….. hmm, someone left my brain out of the loop.. whooo. I got up it. I don’t give a hoot that I did it in my granny. I did it. Then down into Rothbury, chucking anchors on at 37mph, well, people kept telling me to be careful…. I was met at the Lazy Grace HQ by the Magic James and furnished with coffee and a gas. Then another cuppa, watching snow appear from the sky outside. SNOW!!!!  

Going Home-  

The Magic James tried to convince me to go home via something called Bilsmoor and a Gibbet (lol) and I was sorely tempted to give it a try, then I realised that my middle name definitely wasn’t “come pick me up I’m stuck and or lost” and I opted for the straight return journey but made him promise to show me the way when I’ve improved a bit more.  

 I firmly believe rides should be eased into like a workday morning, started with a leisurely cuppa building to a slow crescendo of shouting and running.. Getting out of Rothbury is not like that. It’s more like waking up and realising its already lunchtime, jumping out of bed and putting your feet into a shoefull of dead mouse then spilling your coffee down your shirt in the car. It. Was. Not. Fun. The rest of the journey home felt much quicker than the journey in though how there was so much UP on the way back when there was so much on the way in I cannot seem to fathom. Anyway, I took the same route home too but coming up the Whorral Bank at Morpeth I struggled more than I have in a long time. The ride was beginning to tell and I was looking forward to a nice cuppa and a bath.  

Coming into Ashington my stomach started to rumble and I had some interesting aches. Truth be told that’s the closest I have come to running empty (the dreaded bonk?) since my first club ride. But home I was and feeling tired and proud of myself and absolutely ravenous! 3 flapjacks and 2 boiled eggs was an inadequate lunch obviously. One bath lovingly run by my wonderful husband and my weight in chicken eaten and I feel more than pleasantly tired. I got some photos as a mementos. Heres a lazy link to the facebook album.   

Stats here:  

48.7        dist  

37.3        max  

4.24.25  time  

11.1        ave