Fat Lad Chooses

It’s been a tough week. Emotions have run high. There’s been fact and counter fact. It’s set friend against friend. But amongst all this turmoil a decision was made. My mind wont be altered. I may lose some close to me but in the end it will be worth it…

I’m staying on flat pedals.

Fat Lad

Fat Lad and the Demon Logging Tool

Now if the title of this little post has got you all excited for tales of devil infested chainsaws or demon axes then I’m sorry to disappoint. Well only a little bit sorry. I mean I do this for nothing you know. Could it kill you to be just a little bit appreciative? You can’t swing by here expecting blood curdling stories of killing sprees by forestry devices can you now? Right now we’ve cleared that up I’ll begin.

Strava.

Good old Strava.

I hate it.

Hate is a really strong word but, yep, I hate it. I used to use it many moons ago in it’s earliest days. It had promise. Then, like most technology the public got hold of it and ruined it. It’s not Strava’s fault I suppose but I like an easy faceless target that can’t really fight back. *ahem*

“What do you dislike so much about it Al?” I hear no one disinterestedly cry. It’s not the tech. The old geek in me loves all of that. It’s what it’s done to certain folk. There’s always *that* guy who has to be the first up the climb and fastest on the descents. The sort of guy who will cut lines and cut trees down to own the KOM on that section. Strava has legitimised all that now. People who should know better getting all worked up about someone they don’t know and have never ridden with.

Chill. The. Fuck. Out.

However… It is the most widely used website for sharing routes and data. So from Sunday gone until Mayhem 2017 I’ll be logging my rides there if you want to have a nosey at what I’m up to. Then post Mayhem I will gleefully take it from my life again and wonder no more about where I am on a sodding segment.

Fat Lad

THIS IS STRAVA!

Fat Lad’s Turn

Jenn was a bright shining star that flitted in and out of my life like a incandescent swift. I first ‘met’ her at Sleepless in the Saddle 2006.

“Getting within striking distance of the timing tent I heard the all too familiar “on your right” and as I wandered over to let the rider past I slipped on a root and hit the deck. My relationship with the ground is hardly a distant thing, but to fall off just as a female pro rider who I admire rolls past me was just a bit much for my fragile male ego.”

Missing from my write up and what stays with me even now was the cheery “Are you ok? Good, have fun.”

Apart from various social media interactions she was no more in my life then any other bike journo/adventurer and although, knowing what I think I know now,it would embarrass her immensely to know she was always a rider I looked up to. Her write up from the Tour Divide is one of the most inspiring pieces of cycling journalism I have ever read.

Over time in a way I can’t quite piece together she was popping in and out of our lives in the process becoming good friends with Sarah. When her and Tom got together we all had heartfelt warmth in our chests and collective crossed fingers that it would be everything they hoped and everything we all wished for them. It was, and so much more. A couple so right it just made sense that for once it seemed like the stars had fallen into place for two lovely folk who really deserved all they had become.

The fucker of a truly unfair universe took Jenn from us too soon. Anyone who knew her was crushed. People whose lives she had briefly touched felt the loss keenly. When Tom and Jenn needed them the most St Gemma’s Hospice were there. Providing care and support to people experiencing the kind of thing nobody should ever have to go through.

It’s quite rightly become a charity and cause close to our hearts. The terrific people I am immensely lucky to have surrounding me have all done something incredible or hard to raise funds for a wonderful organisation without government funding. Sarah and Norna swam a marathon in 6 weeks. Tom *ran* the London Marathon in a very respectable time too. He wasn’t even being chased by a dog…

Still there? Awesome.

It’s my turn to do something daft and challenging. Something worth getting people to stick their hands in their pockets and donating money to something worthy. I gave it some thought. Then I gave it some more. Apparently eating pies and drinking Guinness isn’t challenging enough.

Instead I’m going to solo a 24hr race. Yup. Me. The bloke whose only riding these days is social mountain biking. You know ride to the fun bits have a dick around with mates then ride on to the pub. That kind of riding. He’s going to do a solo…

Now sadly Sleepless in the Saddle is no more. It’s a shame as I really liked that one as far as atmosphere goes. Far fewer middle pack wankers battling it out for 52nd place etc.

Mountain Mayhem 2017 is to be the event.

I’ve got a year to get myself to the point where I can survive 24 hours in the saddle. A year to get fit. A year to some how come up with the psychological strength required to ride round and round and round and round in sodding circles on the same sodding course. A year to… oh my god what have I let myself in for…

The longer miles have already started and time in saddle increased. The *shudder* training begins properly now. With this in mind I’ll be helped out with coaching and nutrition by the lovely folk based in Leeds at OTE Sports Nutrition. More on that soon.

St Gemma’s deserve all the money they get, and I intend to earn a bucket load for them.

It’s gonna be a fun old year!

Fat Lad

Fat Lad is Overtaken

This telling has two starts. Firstly with a borrowed Saracen MaxTrax. Heart of hearts I think she only rode it to humour me. This woman has always been way out of my league so any thoughts of her trying to impress me should be banished right now. That first ride out in the Scottish highlands on a borrowed bike two sizes too big broke the MTB cherry and a spark lay unkindled whilst “proper” careers took over.

 

A correctly sized Kona arrived next but still those pesky careers kept getting in the way. Whilst she cracked on with a real job and that little Blast sat lonely in the garage, I opened a bike shop. In those early days, each and every Saturday she would come and help out serving customers. After only a day or two of admitting she couldn’t answer on how things felt or rode she decided this needed to change. So we built a new bike. This wasn’t quite the epiphany it seems. There was still a few rainy and cold Sunday mornings where cold toes had to be dragged into cycling shoes.

 

But things started to change. A passion was kindled. Post ride pub bragging and over exaggerations, with the inevitable endless debate of tyre choice her own thoughts spoke loud and true. Borrowed opinions no more the confidence of her choice ringing through. Soon “where to” evolved into “I reckon we hit Birkby, then Nab to Wiggly Wiggly. It just flows better that way round.”

 

Her own circle of riding friends, mostly female, began to expand. “I’m off out with Kat and co Sunday, you coming?” Adventures, silliness, racing, dragging me along the way renovating a passion for the stuff I had long ago thought done with. In a, far too short for my liking, space of time her fitness surpassed mine. Long winter miles she smiled through, dragging my arse behind, desperately trying to half wheel along.

 

In slow motion I saw it happen. Front wheel slipping off an unseen rock. An over application of the front brake catapulting my everything over the bars onto hard ground. A dreaded cyclist right of passage achieved and a collar bone in two pieces. The hard won fitness was not to be lost, the turbo was dusted off and I lost valuable clothes drying space.

 

There is a finite number of firsts to be shared in riding and as we bumbled along through pedalling life we happily picked them off together, many of her own achievements surpassing my own. Yet in the Karavankas mountains of Slovenia I had maybe the last time to see the wonder of something new and unknown. Proper big mountain riding, the peaks way above us and alpine singletrack as far as the eye can see. Feeling so incredibly tiny amongst ancient hill sides. Cooking brakes, arm pump and riding way beyond your comfort zone I got to share the excited chatter and verbal exhalation of new-found adrenaline one more time.

 

A long suffering English teacher of mine repeatedly asked me “What is this piece trying to achieve? What’s it’s purpose? Who are you writing for?” Sat bashing away at this keyboard realisation hit me. Pride, love and pure unadulterated bragging. Yes I have an awesome passionate riding wife.

Fat Lad the Conductor

An early Autumn ride, the poor weather not enough to dampen the spirits of the riders brave enough to still venture trailwards. The hollow slam of boot doors and the pre ride excitement chatter charges the evening air. Out of the car park the consistent whir of knobblies on tarmac give way to the sighs and swears of despair as we hit our first off road hill. Heading suddenly upwards the panic crunch of mistimed gear shift offend the ears, the more prepared whisper their shifts with an almost inaudible click, chains lifting gracefully to larger cogs.

Swapping the squelch and wet slaps of mud for the crunch and rolling scrrr of gravel the trail levels out, the lung rasping exhalations of the less time earned riders joins the air. A simple trail obstacle mistimed produces a gentle yet vindictive Scottish lilt tinted “oh fuck” from our just north of the border ex-pat.

Drivetrains grind, Japanese, American and British technology sacrificed to West Yorkshire’s own very particular filth. Our grime doesn’t discriminate, it devours without prejudice. The to and fro of ride positioning swaps the click click click ker clack of poorly maintained bikes with the simple buzz of lovingly cared for wheels rolling over hard pack.

A breather. Laughter and exasperated cries of “bullshit!” ring as a response to tales of trail derring do. The bungee rope of front pack speedsters to tail end charlies slackens. “All on!” is the rallying call, simple click of spds engaging and the cord of riders is taught once more. The howl and wounded small mammal squeal of wet brakes announces the sudden left hander. On our patchwork of suburb post industrial trails you can never really escape the artificial. Overhead pylon supported powerlines hum crackle and hiss with the autumnal moisture laden atmosphere.

Trail positioning, come in wide and pedal hard. Wind it up, all elbows, shoulders and lactic burning legs. Local knowledge. The lip, the briefest moment of held breath silence and tyres kissing or slamming soil. Nearly finished. Warmth and welcome of the pub calls. We find blacktop again. Rolling downward kinetic energy converted into the swarm of Hope hub ratchet and pawl symphony.

I’m not often the conductor of this joyful mechanical noise but I’m always a part of the orchestra.

Fat Lad

Fat Lad’s Turf

‘It wouldn’t be a Morley ride without dog shit, nettles and mud…’ an anonymous local rider.

It starts with tarmac, it  has to round here. Down the hill wind creating streaming eyes. Sharp left round the gate onto dirt. Broken glass, under-age outdoor drinking kids anti motorbike gates and onto the flowing stuff that leads to Lynne’s drop. Rooty, steep and fast.

This is our town. These are our trails. These are our tales.

Down the old railway line paralleling the Leeds-Wakefield line. Wide crush and run under tyre rusting palisade fence to the left. Overgrown undergrowth to the right. Bare forearms bear the self harm of thorn and bramble. Over the bridge and past the burnt out historic hall.

This is our town. These are our trails. These are our tales.

More black top. Too much. Lycra and baggy warriors bully our way across two lanes to stake the roundabout. Our waved thanks to the motorised caged is half felt and ungenuine. Too many near misses. It’s them and us.  Pebbles embedded in ill thought out waterlogged dirt. Upwards building character as we go crossing more train lines jumping the last three steps imagined freeride gods.

This is our town. These are our trails. These are our tales.

Under the trees only gas, gas, GAS will see you clear. Off camber big roots and a step up on an ascent. It doesn’t relent still leaning right you lean left or slide down. The roots will have you. Big tyres make it. Bigger hearts destroy it.  A cut through the industrial estate only locals will know puts us into the real reason for heading out. The poorly tended crop whips at bare shins no line choices clear just speed and wind rush.  It’s here now. This is it. A sharp left. Don’t fuck it up. Go, pedal harder, more roots gun for the uncommitted. A small drop off through the trees. Jump to flat. Commit. Take the fun right line. Leave the left Strava line for the dead souled. Another drop, get it right. Hand of god acceleration in the small of the back to the kicker. Front and Rear rubber reconnect simultaneously. Seamlessly. The last lip. The last lurch of stomach mid air. The landing rolls you away. The good stuff is done. We’re just rolling home now.

This is our town. These are our trails. These are our tales.

Fat Lad.ales

Fat Lad: Things Change

Life changes. Life gets complicated. Life starts.

The circles and cycles change. Metaphorical and literal.

I was blessed ten years ago to meet life long friends. They ride bikes. I ride bikes. Companionship cemented.

Life changes. Life gets complicated. A full life and now; fulfilling.

Customers, riding companions, new friends. A welcome evolution.

Life changes.

Fat Lad

Mrs Fat Lad is Fighting Back

I am broken…..

6 weeks and 3 days ago I tumbled off my bike breaking my collar bone
and damaging my elbow and shoulder at the same time.

Sat in A&E I was not a happy chappy, in fact my mood got worse when
the doctors started saying things like I wouldn’t be riding again
until October – 4 months away.

So what did I do….. I decided that I wasn’t going to sulk about the
doc’s opinions on when I would pedal again and instead do something
with my time and hopefully prove them wrong

Seeing as I had spent the winter slogging my guts out riding through
West Yorkshires finest stickiest wettest mud in an attempt to get
fitter I decided that I needed to keep turning the wheels somehow.

Out came the turbo trainer, yep the dreaded turbo trainer. I decided
that I needed a challenge, something that would keep me motivated,
keep me focussed and sane

With all that in mind I announced on twitter that I was going to do a
turbo version of LEJOG, a mere 874 miles from Lands End to John O
Groats. At the back of my head a small voice wondered if I was daft,
it was a huge number of miles, I couldn’t reach the handlebars because
of my broken bones and in fact getting on and off the turbo was really
rather challenging.

What I hadn’t factored in was the fantastic people I chat to on
twitter, there was lots of encouragement, my fellow broken collar bone
twin @trio25 agreed to do the same on her turbo, @stickymitts and
@_rOcKeTdOg_ decided they would attempt to do the same distance on
actual bikes whilst I pedalled on the turbo inside.

So far I have ridden 82 miles so still a long way to go, I’m slowly
healing, plenty of physio sessions, lots of turns on the turbo even
though I still can’t reach the handlebars. All the time being
supported by Al who has in the last 6 weeks dressed me, made my
meals,cut up my food, driven me everywhere, sorted out my tears of
frustration and continually looked after me whilst I have begun to
heal.

Hopefully the sling will disappear this week, my collarbone appears to
be healing well, my shoulder is a bit more troublesome but we will
see. All I need to focus on now is more sessions on the turbo to make
those miles disappear and to get out pedalling properly.

Sarah (AKA Crash Test Dummy)

Fat Lad Has a Minute

I think this is a shared phenomenon regardless of riding discipline chosen. The moment where, if only in your head, you are a riding god.

A muddy rock strewn 5 yard stretch of trickiness. Everything went right. Perfect line choice, roll in roll out huge grin. A few seconds of sheer joy. Worth every minute of headwind muddiness it took to get there.

When was your last moment?

Fat Lad

Fat Lad’s May 2012

Nar then old cock. Getting art much? Gotta keep back legs going tha knows.

Ride 2000 MTB miles

May Miles Needed: 181.94

May Miles Done: 187.58

Year Left: 1267.97

Monthly Total Now Required: 181.13

Another huge chunk over this month’s target. The man is a machine… ;)

Ride the Colne Valley Challenge in under 4 hours

Still on the edge of your seat? Did I do it? Find out soon…
Blog once a week

Yay! (Runs round in circle jumper over head waving arms erratically)

Week 17: Fat Lad is…

Week 18: Mrs Fat Lads 30 Days of Biking

Week 19: Fat Lad’s April 2012

Week 20: Fat lad Rides Vicariously

Si thi then.

Fat Lad