Fat Lad and a Very Special Birthday


On a very rare ride during the shop fit out just over a year ago my phone squawked at me and I pulled up to answer, something I almost never do. Some crisis or other averted I jumped back on and caught up with the group. Mick who runs his own very successful book business told me something that has stuck ever since: “Get used to it mate, once you have your own business you’re never shut…”

It’s been a hell of a year. That very first day, all our life savings ploughed into the shop, it seemed so full but looking back it was so bare. The night before I was there until three in the morning, Sarah forcing me home so one of us could be high level functioning for our first ever day. Friends, good dear lifelong friends, and family all pitched in that very long day to make sure we were ready. We weren’t. I still don’t think we are. Every day we learn something new.

Sometimes I think I’m too thin skinned for this game. I get worked up when the suppliers let me down. We genuinely do move heaven and earth for our customers and it’s usually the ones we work hardest for who let us down the fastest.

The bank manager asked what our goals were, what our expected turnover and profit would be. I don’t think he expected the jeans and t-shirt wearing greasemonkey’s laughter. We worked out what we needed to take every day. We’ve smashed it. By a factor of 6. We had to take the shop next door our repairs are so busy. We had no winter slow down and 1st of May, John will start his journey with us and start his Cytech training.

It’s been bloody hard, but bloody rewarding. I can’t ever see me doing anything else. Today we are one year old. Here’s to a lifetime of Garage Bikes birthdays.


Fat Lad

Fat Lad #30daysofbiking 1/2 way there

“My advice: don’t do it” said a fellow cyclist on twitter to another when asked about 30daysofbiking. “It will make you hate it riding”

I’d played with the idea before and Mrs Fat Lad had done her usual “sensible” thing and asked if really I had the time. Then, as it is a Women’s evolutionary right to do, she changed her mind. “I’ll do it too. We’ll figure something out…”

So far it’s been not what I expected. Honestly I expected to be broken. But I’m not. Neither is Sarah. We’re tired for sure but it’s not been as hard as we expected, and boy, has Sarah’s fitness and cycling strength come on in leaps and bounds.

Thirty days of riding is tough when you’re upping your mileage for an upcoming MTB event, but hey, I love a challenge right 😉

Fat Lad




Fat Lad Singlespeeds in Cuba

Only two countries before have left such a profound imprint on our being. Something inside changes and always at the back of everyday conscious thought is the hope that someday soon you can make your way back. The first was Scotland; from the opposite city vibes of Edinburgh and Glasgow, to the genuine wilds of the highlands and islands. We get back North whenever time allows.

America followed and after that strange and brilliant land everything back in Old Blighty seemed to lack that full-on-Technicolour vigour. Friends for life were made and I rode my late beloved Kona at the other end of the world.

A very full on near first year of trading at Morley’s best* bike shop and the need for a break only just outweighing my total and utter blind panic at leaving the shop in the more than capable hands of others. My sister was getting married abroad and we agreed that, if we really had to, the hardship of going for a fortnight to Cuba could be endured. Only in the interests of family peace you understand.

Cuba is a land written about many times by authors far more brilliant than I. For a people with genuinely bugger all they demonstrated a generosity that was immensely humbling. The countryside transitioned from near desert to not-quite-mediterranean to caribbean in scant few miles travelling. As a crusty old lefty I wanted it to be a socialist paradise and yet it was a land of crumbling communism that had an awful right with a fairly large amount wrong.

Upon arriving at our all-inclusive-bubble (not our choice, though it was very lovely) I spied the rental bikes and whispered to Mrs Fat Lad: “I’m gonna bunny hop one of those before we go”. Our very short ride to a small roadside bar where I ordered drinks in my terrible Spanish cemented two facts for us both. 1) More Spanish lessons for us both and 2) We’re going back. With Bikes.

Cuba Panda

Our trusty steeds

Wifey on Bikey

You got like three feet of air that time.

Fat Lad


Fat Lad’s March 2012

Well hello there, how’s it going? Let me fill you in on what’s happening around here:

Ride 2000 MTB miles

Mar Miles Needed: 173.45

Mar Miles Done: 62.61

Year Left: 1666.12

Monthly Total Now Required: 185.77

Well, that looks really rubbish doesn’t it. But for once I have a genuine reason. I was in another country for 16 days. Details to follow.

Ride the Colne Valley Challenge in under 4 hours

Preparation for this ride is coming along awfully. It will definitely be an adventure if nowt else.

Blog once a week

Blimy something is going right:

Week 9: Fat Lad’s February 2012

Week 10: Fat Lad’s Sermon

Week 11: Mrs Fat Lad’s Epiphany

Week 12: Fat Lad and The Trail Ahead

Oh yeah… Sarah and I have agreed to do 30 days of biking. Should be a giggle…

Fat Lad

Fat Lad and The Trail Ahead

The trail ahead rises away.

Gradient changes all along it’s back.

Sitting in and spinning all the way won’t cut it.

There’s times where getting out of the saddle and stomping the pedals is the only way.

Legs and lungs burn, not much left in the tank and then it get’s technical.

Shift weight, keep fluid and put the power on only when the time is right.

Keep the pedals turning.

It’s all worth it in the long run.

Fat Lad



Mrs Fat Lad’s Epiphany

My name is Sarah and I was a bike widow

For 9 years I have happily sat on the sidelines and watched Al ride
day and night through sun, rain, hail and snow.

I’ve smiled through gritted teeth when I’ve discovered brake fluid on
cream carpets because it was apparently too cold to work outside.

I’ve pitbitched through 24 hr events, putting up with fabulous moods
due to little sleep and lack of food, often being up for 36 hrs at
events then driving his aching body home.

I’ve watched as he has obsessively counted down the miles to
predetermined goals and achievements.

I’ve had bikes involved in every one of our holidays bar our
honeymoon, though his pride and joy did make an appearance at our wedding.

I’ve supported Al as he changed careers to retrain as a bike mechanic
and then as we set up Garage Bikes last year.

All the way through a part of me has always thought “oh its just push
bikes and its better then him being obsessed by football”

And then…

Now I find myself wanting to ride on a Sunday morning,  looking
with interest at riding gear, pointing out potential trails in Cuba to
Al, talking to customers in the shop and actually understanding what
they are discussing and even putting in the miles on a turbo
trainer to improve my fitness.

I am no longer a bike widow.

My name is Sarah and I am a mountain biker.

Mrs Fat Lad

Fat Lad’s Sermon

I’ve ridden with friends. Pedalled with MTB journalists. Watched endurance winners disappear over the horizon on my home turf. Taken my beloved Kona transatlantic. Ridden with new friends. Rolled with forgotten friends. Struggled upwards with new acquaintances and blasted down with retired racers.

And through it all. It’s all still just grown ups playing out on bikes.

Go grab friends, go pedal, never grow up.

Fat Lad

Fat Lad’s February 2012

Well hello there. Come in, grab a coffee, have a browse and then buy something expensive. Sorry slipped into shop mode then. Time for a wee catch up of my twentytwelve goals:

Ride 2000 MTB miles

Feb Miles Needed: 159.17

Feb Miles Done: 95.47

Year Left: 1734.56

Monthly Total Now Required: 173.45

Well, you see what happened here is, well errm, I didn’t ride much. Firstly we had a metric shit load of ice early doors of the month and then once that had started to thaw fate dealt me a cruel blow by doing my back in… You see that 3 mile surplus came in handy after all 😉

Ride the Colne Valley Challenge in under 4 hours

My time machine is broken and my crystal ball has gone cloudy, but my Magic 8 Ball says the outlook is good.

Blog once a week

Keeping it up 🙂

Week 5: Fat Lad’s January 2012

Week 6: Fat Lad’s Fecking Miserable Pootle

Week 7: Fat Lad Rides Like a Girl

Week 8: Fat Lad Takes The Hint

Have fun kids and you come back soon you hear.

Fat Lad

Fat Lad Takes The Hint

No, it’s not that roadies will never trust a chunky bike shop owner. Or even perhaps that growing the remaining bit of your rapidly disappearing hair into a weird quiff/worlds thinnest mohawk is a good idea.

Nope, the hints are there. Little clues that changes are coming. Too early for those who understand these things but joyous for the pedalers out there. Crocus poking through, snowdrops drooping proudly, daffodils daring the season and the mud has changed from sloppy rear wheel churn to tacky trail glue.

Spring is coming, go see the change and enjoy it.

Fat Lad

Fat Lad Rides Like a Girl

I love Twitter. I really do. It’s brilliant. I’ve met loads of new friends and it enables me to keep in touch with old ones.

If you are a regular attendee of this here virtual bike shop sofa you’ll know that Sarah is riding lots more now. Her enthusiasm is infectious and a nice kick up my backside to keep me pedalling. Through Twitter Sarah organised her very own women’s only ride round the muddy shores of MTB Mecca Morley. By virture of having a fine pair of A cup moobs I was asked along too. Oh and because Sarah didn’t know the route that well too. But I think mostly because of my moobs.

So with my dear wifey and three other cycling femmes we did the Res Raid classic, and despite what the magasines may tell you, it was exactly the same ride as if it had been all blokes. The route didn’t need to be altered, no tamer downhills were swapped in and no flattery or bribery was needed to coax anyone out onto the trails. True the humour was maybe a touch more refined, but we’d all mostly just met. I’m sure in a few more meets it will be as near to the knuckle.

Climbs were struggled up, descents beasted as fast as they dare and battle scars and war wounds recounted. We all agreed that Mountain Biking maybe the ultimate leveller but it’s definitely the best way to meet new friends.

Fat Lad