Fat Lad At The Back

  • The British Cycle Quest

    Discovering Britain (and re-discovering my passion for cycling) on ‘The British Cycle Quest’

    In late 2016 after a sixteen-year hiatus I bought two bicycles (Road & MTB) and almost immediately stumbled across two things that really spurred me on and encouraged me to get out on my bike. One was the Fat Lad At The Back brand that sold me some functional clothing that wasn’t skin tight and comfortably accommodated the weight I had gained during my absence from the saddle, and the other was ‘The British Cycle Quest’- a challenge devised and administered by Cycling UK.

    I will summarise my first two years on the BCQ and hopefully give you a feel for why I believe this to be one of the hidden gems of Cycling UK’s work.

    What is the BCQ?

    It's probably the most common question I’m asked when I mention it to people, and the nearest short answer I can give is ‘cycle touring combined with an element of orienteering’. Basically, Cycling UK have set up a scheme whereby every county / region in the country (including Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, Shetlands, etc) has six checkpoints which need to be visited by bicycle, added to together this forms a complete list of 402 checkpoints.

    Participants in the BCQ are required to visit each checkpoint and answer a question about that checkpoint, answers are then submitted on question cards which are submitted to Cycling UK for validation. Awards in the form of certificates are gained at 10 and 50 checkpoints, and Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum medals are awarded at 100, 200, 300 and 402 checkpoints respectively.

    One of the attractions about the BCQ for me is its relaxed nature – there are no organised events, no specific routes to be ridden, and no time limits, all Questers need to do is submit at least one answer every five years to be listed on the active Questers list. The Questers that have completed all 402 checkpoints (around 20 to date) have generally taken around 8-10 years to complete the Quest, and many Quester will never complete the entire Quest but will always have it as an aspiration.

    How do you get started?

    Participation in the quest is essentially free as the question book can be downloaded from the Cycling UK BCQ page as a PDF. If you wish to submit answers for validation there is a small charge for question cards – each card can accommodate ten answers, and the full set can be purchased for around £15. Certificates are free and there is a small charge to cover the cost of medals when those are gained. But if you don’t want the awards then the Quest is free.

    As there are six checkpoints in every county there is almost certainly going to be some that are local to anyone looking to start the Quest so getting started is easy. The majority of the checkpoints tend to be in places of historic interest such as monuments, listed buildings, churches, National Trust properties etc, and all are publicly assessible without having to pay any additional fee for entry.

    In general a decent day tour of around 40-50 miles will likely be able to take in two or three checkpoints within the same county or in neighbouring counties, and in some places such as Greater London or the Isle of Wight all six can be covered in shorter distances, and because the rules of the BCQ allow you to drive or take public transport to the general area visiting checkpoints can often be combined with other activities such as visiting relatives or going on holiday etc so long as you take your bike to get to the checkpoint – I once even managed to combine going on a training course for work with a quick twenty mile ‘training ride’ in the evening to a local checkpoint.

    Making memories

    The Quest has taken me to some great places in the last couple of years such as the Whipsnade Tree Cathedral, the Hardy Monument in Dorset and Culver Down on the IOW both of which where at the top of ferocious climbs but with views of the surrounding country side that made the effort totally worthwhile. There have of course been the inevitably odd bad day, getting drenched in Surrey after the weather forecast got it completely wrong, and getting the front wheel of my bike wiped out by a supermarket home delivery van in Dorset were probably the only two which after more than thirty days spent questing isn’t a bad ratio.

    The checkpoints for the Quest can (in my experience) be visited on any kind of bicycle as they are all in places where any skinny tyre road bike can go, and I’ve even visited checkpoints on a Brompton – most notably in London where I managed to visit all six in one day, combined with a bit of tourist sight seeing and tube riding so if you have a bike then you also have pretty much the minimum amount of equipment required to compete in the Quest.


    In the space available on relatively short blog post I really can’t do the Quest justice, so I recommend visiting the BCQ page on the Cycling UK website (link below), downloading the question book and giving it a go – it won’t cost you a penny to try it out but I’m sure you’ll be hooked. If you’re interested in more information I have been keeping a detailed online journal of my questing adventures the link to which is also below.


    Cycling UK BCQ page - https://www.cyclinguk.org/british-cycle-quest

    My Questing diary – http://www.quest.nwarwick.co.uk


    Neil Warwick is a FLampion organises FLAB Social rides in Berkshire. You can find out more about Neil's social rides here on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/groups/2101517010129959/


    Dominic Irvine - Ultra-distance cyclist and FLAB rider

    “You shouldn’t be wearing that kit - you’re not fat enough.” If I had a pound for everytime that comment is made to me. More often than not I hear it from those who’ve sat on my wheel as I’ve pounded out the miles. I wasn’t always a super fit endurance monster. Let me take you back a few years.



    It was the summer of 1999 when I headed out the door and walked to the top of the street I lived in in Ilkley. I was 112kg and about to start my first run in years. I made it to the next lamp post before having to stop and walk. For the next mile I ran between every other lamp post and walked the rest. I repeated the run a few more times before realising I could not lose weight and at the same time get fit. I also felt very self conscious. It was all too much for me. So I decided to focus on weight loss and 4.5 months later I was down to 82.5kg. What no-one ever tells you is losing weight is incredibly hard, often demoralising and requires epic amounts of motivation. You spend your life hungry and being a bit miserable. It’s definitely not as simple as calories in versus energy expended. That’s the sort of nonsense spouted by thin people who’ve never tried to lose a lot of weight. The reward for me came from standing on the scales every day and plotting the overall trend downwards. Once lighter, I started running and it was so much easier. Within a few months I was really starting to enjoy it, I particularly loved off-road running and even entered a few fell races.


    One drunken evening, a neighbour talked me into entering an Ironman triathlon. I hadn’t swum since I was a kid and my bike had a shopping basket on the front for carrying groceries. I rarely rode to the shops a mile or so away, the car was always easier. In the pool, I was out paced by elderly ladies swimming breast stroke and chatting whilst they made their way slowly down the lane. I managed a couple of lengths of thrashing around before being exhausted. My first ‘serious’ bike rides were not much better, I was dropped almost before we’d started the ride. I kept reminding myself that at least I was out having a go and surely that was better than sitting on the couch? What I remember from my first Ironman distance triathlon was the marathon. It was off road. The sun was shining and I was running along eating a packet of crisps listening to a play on Radio 4. I cruised over the finishing line a shade under 11.5 hours and decided if this was sport - I was loving it. 8 Ironman races later my knees called time on running. Incidentally, I got to my lightest weight during my Ironman phase at 79kg and 5% body fat, but at this level I was almost always miserable, ill and cold. I realised I was too light.



    But back to the story. I was always a dreadful swimmer and with running no longer an option I decided to focus on long distance cycling. It was back to being the Fat Lad At The Back - in my first ultra-distance race, I was the last rider to make the cut off taking 30 hours to complete the 525km and 13,500m of ascent. In the final 12 hours of the race I kept vomiting and could only eat an occasional boiled sweet as long as I just sucked on it and didn’t swallow (I had a lot to learn about nutrition and hydration). At about this time, a casual comment in a conversation led to what was become a 5 year obsession with the Lands End to John O’Groats tandem bike record. It had stood for decades at 50 hours 14 minutes and 25 seconds. The record had withstood attempts from Olympians and National cycling champions. It felt as crazy as doing an Ironman as a first triathlon. Once again I was back to novice status this time learning to ride a tandem. It was about this time I came across FLAB. I totally related to the brand. It was about getting up and getting out there - not taking yourself too seriously but at the same time not being afraid to give it a go. It was this spirit that kept me going through the two failed attempts on the record. Finally, at the age of 47, in 2015 along with my riding partner we set a new tandem world record of 45 hours and 11 minutes for the 842 miles that is LEJOG (this stands to this day). Building on the back of this fitness led to a win and a 3rd place in a couple of European Ultra Distance races.


    The learning curve from running between lamp posts to standing on a podium in Italy had been huge and so it made sense to commit these lessons to paper. So I wrote a book co-authored with Professor Simon Jobson, who coached us to break the LEJOG record. These days I’m lucky enough to have one of the best cycling coaches and a world class levels of fitness. I work with a nutritionist, a psychologist and my race bikes are custom made to deliver the riding characteristics I want. But once again I am the Fat Lad At The Back. Now I’ve shifted to ultra distance off-road. My next race is 2750 miles. It’s highly improbable I will win, unlikely I will finish (most riders don’t) but in the true spirit of FLAB, I’m giving it a go. I’m still no weight weenie at 84kg and 9% body fat, and I get my butt kicked on long climbs, but who cares - the important thing is getting out there and enjoying your cycling.


    What I have learnt is that FLAB is an attitude, it’s a mindset, it’s not a specific weight or body mass. It’s a philosophy that recognises ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they set their mind to it. I wear my kit with pride.

    You can read Dom's book on ultra distance cycling here.



  • Cyc-ology - The science behind why cycling enhances mood


    Anybody who regularly spends time in the saddle will know that a few miles on your bike always lifts your mood and makes you feel better (errant drivers aside) – but why?  Well research has shown that not only is cycling freaking awesome but can also improve memory, reasoning and planning as well as providing a huge boost to your mental health.

    A cerebral work out

    Did you know that cycling can grow your brain just like weight lifting can grow your muscles? Cycling increases blood flow to your brain which in turn builds more capillaries and ultimately supplies more nutrients, blood and oxygen to your noggin that can improve its performance.  Sudoku anyone?

    Cycling also makes your body produce more proteins, which you use to create new brain cells.  Regular pedalling can double or even triple new cell production in the brain.  If that wasn’t enough, regular jaunts on your wheels of steel increases neurotransmitter activity which improves cognitive abilities.  The Times crossword will be easy peasy lemon squeezy after a cheeky cycle!


    Fighting aging

    The plethora of benefits you get from cycling are even more profound for those of us who are no longer spring chickens.  The science stuff we’ve talked about can counteract the natural decline of brain function as we age.  We can’t promise you’ll no longer walk into a room and have no idea why you’re there but scientists did compare the brains of adults in their 60’s and 70’s and found that the brains of those who exercise regularly appeared younger than those who don’t. 


    You must have been living under a rock if you’ve not heard of this ‘mindfullness’ malarkey – but what does it actually mean?  Well it’s about taking time out and focussing on the here and now – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you.  Well cycling is the ultimate ‘mindfulness’ activity, concentrating on the here and now (and that lorry that just passed by too closely) and appreciating the scenery. 

    The pressures of modern life

    Here at Fat Lad at the Back, we’re more than aware that the pressures of modern life can build up to a point where you hit a wall, our very own ‘Fat Lad’ Richard Bye has struggled with exhaustion and anxiety and has found that cycling has helped him more than anything else. He said:“I hit the wall back in 2009  after years of working 16 hour days and international travel.  Cycling has definitely helped me recover and continues to be a vital contribution to my physical and mental well being.”
    We also have hundreds of people in our community of who testified to the effectiveness of cycling in helping them fight depression and other mental health difficulties.

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com - 20/042016 - Cycling. Richard Bye Ilkley West Yorkshire - founder of closing brand Fat Lad at the Back copyright picture - Simon Wilkinson - simon@swpix.com Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com - 20/042016 - Cycling. Richard Bye Ilkley West Yorkshire - co founder of clothing brand Fat Lad at the Back
    copyright picture - Simon Wilkinson - simon@swpix.com




  • Sportive and Group riding etiquette


    We’ve ordered the weather but things change around here from one hour to the next, our advice is, pack everything!


    Faffing about is an essential part of cycling, but please build in enough time to ensure that you can faff to your hearts content and still be on the start line ten minutes before set off time.

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.


    We’re looking forward to lots of you riding with our Ride Marshalls. Some of you will be less experienced at group riding and we wanted to offer some guidance to ensure the safety of you and your fellow riders.


    Your Ride Marshall will also repeat this on the day, but there’s a lot to remember:


    SPEAK UP!:

    Communication is vital in a group and especially on these roads which are often busy with other cyclists and vehicles.

    Your view is restricted by other bikes and you must communicate to ensure everyone remains safe and there are no pile ups!

    Here are some common commands which we regularly use on ur rides. PLEASE listen out for these and shout out and pass onto your group:

    STOPPING– vital to call when coming to a stop. If you don’t there’ll be a pile up and split tyres

    SLOWING– If you’re breaking heavily, tell people!

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.



    CLEAR– it is OK to pull out at a junction

    CAR UP (This is subject to regional variations but what we use in Yorkshire)

    – a car is coming from the front towards the pack

    CAR BACK- a car coming from behind

    LINE OUT– some riders prefer to stay 2 abreast when a car is trying to pass – on these roads we don’t think that works – lining out at least lets drivers know that you are trying to make room and perception makes a big difference to the way drivers will respond to you

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.

    HOLE LEFT– hole/obstruction on the left hand side of the carriageway. If riding 2 abreast, outside riders are aware the inside riders will be moving out and to give room if safe to do so
    HOLE RIGHT– as above but on the right

    HOLE MIDDLE– bet you already guessed this one?! Riders will split around the hole

    GRAVEL– there are LOTS of gravel spots on the routes, shout to warn your fellow riders with an indication of where the gravel is (middle, all over, left etc)


    When you stand up out of the saddle, your bike immediately loses speed – this will cause people immediately behind you to either crash or swerve. Think about who’s around you as you cycle!

    When you need to raise out of the saddle, do so on your full downward pedal stroke and push hard as you do – this should maintain your speed whilst rising you out of the saddle.


    Never ride more than 2 abreast


    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, when a car is behind you please LINE OUT – you might not normally, but please do on this sportive and create space where needed so cars can get through


    Groups will generally ride at the pace of the slowest. If you are struggling and feel that you are too slow, then let your Ride Marshall know that you will be dropping off the back and you will be picked up by the group behind, and ultimately by the sweeper if needed. (It’s not a real sweeper, it’s a man or woman on a bike!)

    If you feel that you are stronger and could go faster than the group, then just let your Ride Marshall know that you’ll be going off on your own!

    Try to have a turn on the front as well as sitting in the pack


    Our Ride Marshall's have a small yellow hi viz badge on their helmets identifying them by name or by the word Ride Marshall's  so they are easy to find. Whether you are in a group or not, if you have any problems at all, then just let one of them or one of our Marshals know.


    Helmets must be worn


    Bring spare inner tubes, water, basic repair kit and snacks just in case you get peckish between feed stops.

    Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for our glorious UK weather conditions.


    It’s going to be a fun day and a great way to meet other FLAB’s and having a nice social ride at a pace that suits you. Enjoy!

    We’re used to daft questions so ask away  fatlads@fatladattheback.com

  • 8 Reason Why You Felt Flat in January ......

    ... And How To Feel FLABulous In FEBRUARY


    NO, it’s not just you!

    If January has left you feeling a bit flat and you can’t put your finger on why you’re not alone, here are the top 8 reasons why it’s not just you that felt down in the mouth and some positives to help you shake off the January blues and step into February feeling flabulous!

    Reasons to be miserable:

    1. The Christmas Comedown

    After December’s month long exercise in sedentary binge eating and excessive booze consumption, comes January’s self-sacrifice and austerity which can be a bit of a shock to the system after weeks of over indulgence.

    1. Sober

    Whether you  did Dry January or just cut back it can be soul destroying not to have a glass of vino or a pint to look forward to after a long day at work.

    1. Skint

    We’re all skint after Christmas and January can feel like one long Simply Red song (money’s too tight to mention) especially when the credit card bill arrives!

    1. Hungry

    Everyone and their dog was on a diet in January (you can’t use that old shrunken jeans chestnut forever) and there is nothing like depriving yourself of carbs to leave you feeling a bit dejected.

    1. No Bank Holiday in sight

    After two weeks of doing naff all over the festive break the reality check of the daily grind can overwhelm us a little and leave us feeling more than a bit fed up.  There isn’t even a bank holiday to look forward to until Easter.

    1. Cold

    It's dark, it’s damp and its bloody freezing – the lack of sunlight and plummeting temperatures are enough to make anyone feel disheartened.

    1. The kids were doing your head in

    If there’s one thing Christmas is good for its blackmailing your children “if you don’t behave, Santa won’t bring you any presents” - that carrot and stick is redundant for at least another ten months so it’s back to actually having to parent our kids (sigh!).

    1. Feeling like a Failure

    All that ‘go hard or go home’ motivation can get a bit much when your social media timelines are full of other people’s good intentions, gym selfies and meal pics.  If the detox, diet or Olympian exercise regime didn’t go quite to plan it can leave us feeling a bit like a failure.

    Let's Look Forward To Febuary

    group 4

    If you spent January feeling Blue, you’ll be glad to see the back of the month and look forward to February; it’s starting to get lighter, you’ve been paid, Dry January is over and pancake day is just around the corner.

    January can make you feel like you need to change your whole life, quit smoking, cut down on drinking, go on a diet and launch a tech start up to make your millions.  Really?

    If your New Year’s resolutions haven’t gone to plan, you still haven’t lost *that* 10lbs or put those shelves up, life is too short.  Now that January is finished we have the whole of 2018 to look forward to, dates to put in the diary, summer holidays to plan and beer to drink.

    There is one sure fire way to put a smile on your face and a glow in your cheeks……….dust off the cleats, get the bike out of the shed and get back in the saddle.  Let the gym bunnies fight over the treadmill in the gym and enjoy the open road.

    You don’t have to try become Bradley Wiggins overnight, give yourself a break and set yourself some realistic and achievable goals to work towards.  Why not sign up to our Up North sportive in May.  Join our FLAB lads and lasses in your area on our FLAB community rides



  • FLAB Social ride locations 2018

    FLAB cog black


    All social rides are listed on the https://www.letsride.co.uk/social website. Please note these are social rides,  not led rides. All participants must book a place via the website and read the T&C'S of taking part in a ride social available here https://www.letsride.co.uk/terms 

    County Town Names Social Link
    Berkshire Lower Earley, Reading Neil Warwick FLAB Social rides Berkshire
    Cheshire Congleton Wendy Bibby FLAB Social rides Cheshire
    Derbyshire Swadlincote & Ilkleston Will Fisher & Steve Wadey FLAB Social rides Derbyshire
    Greater Manchester Bury Lucia Cronin FLAB Social rides Manchester
    Hampshire Sherfield-on-Loddon James Morrison FLAB Social rides Hampshire
    Lancashire Morecambe Craig Townson FLAB Social rides Lancashire
    Preston Bill & Lou Shaw FLAB Social rides Preston
    Leicestershire Loughborough Emma Dickson FLAB Social rides Loughborough
    London (South East) Forest Hill Dean Nicolson & Charlotte Levitan FLAB Social rides SE London
    Merseyside Crosby, Liverpool Louise Collins FLAB Social rides Liverpool
    Middlesex Hayes David Gable FLAB Social rides Middlesex
    Norfolk Attleborough Dave Bickel FLAB Social rides South Norfolk
    Great Yarmouth Jamie Roberston FLAB Social rides Norfolk
    Nottinghamshire Hucknall & Newark Theresa Peacock & Andrew Saxby FLAB Social rides Newark / Nottingham
    Somerset Pill, Bristol Ian Hall FLAB Social rides Bristol
    Suffolk Levington David Shutt FLAB Social rides Suffolk
    Surrey Horley Adrienne Horne FLAB Social rides Surrey
    West Sussex Chichester Karen Wheeler FLAB Social rides West Sussex
    Wiltshire Swindon & Stevenson Rob Woods & Rafe Aldridge FLAB Social rides Swindon
    Yorkshire Ilkley Bella Duckworth & Emma Booth FLAB Social rides Ilkley
    Harrogate Dave Marson FLAB Social rides Harrogate
    Scotland Angus & Fife Kirsty Billin FLAB Social rides Angus & Fife
  • What's stopping you from signing up for a sportive?


    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Cycling Fat Lad at the Back Sportive - Ilkley - leisure cycling

    Sportives are a grand day out on the bike they let you cycle around a new area without having to worry about getting lost or finding a café for a mid-ride refuelling stop.

    We know that loads of our FLAB community would love to enter their first sportive but have a few concerns about taking part, here are the main ones that our FLAB community forum said was preventing them from taking part.

    FITNESS-  If you can comfortably ride 80% of the distance on similar terrain to the distance you’ve signed up to at 10mph you’ll complete our sportive. FLambassadors are on route to talk through options if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

    HILLS- STOP WORRYING! If you can’t cycle up to the top WALK, there’s no shame in walking up a hill.

    CONFIDENCE- Our sportive is super friendly, inclusive and supportive with the option of riding in a friendly group with the support of one of our awesome Ride Marshalls.

    MECANICALS- Carry a puncture repair kit and learn to fix a puncture before the event, it’s a lot easier than you think just takes a bit of practice. Loads of tutorials on YOUTUBE.

    FINISHING LAST- Who cares? You’ve lapped everyone on the sofa.


    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.FITNESS

    Will I be fit enough? Can I make it to the finish line?

    First thing to remember is a sportive is NOT a race the only competition is with yourself, do it at your pace within your comfort zone and don’t try and keep up with other people or compare your pace to others.

    There will be Ride Marshalls on route to offer support.

    If you’ve done a reasonable amount of training beforehand relevant to the distance you’ve entered you will fine. So, for instance if you can comfortably do 18 miles you will be able to 25 miles on the day and the atmosphere of the event and adrenaline can really help push you those last few miles.

    There is always Ride Marshalls on the route that you can chat to about options if you feel you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.


    STOP fearing hills! It is so easy to go into a complete meltdown at the thought of hills on a sportive and that big hill that you know is coming up can soon become the whole focus of your ride taking away from your enjoyment, remember THERE IS NO SHAME IN WALKING UP THEM.

    So what if someone fly’s past you with ease having a chat with their mates making it look easy while your legs are screaming and your lungs are on fire!

    Everybody is different it’s your body your bike ride and your business how you get up them! If you have to walk then walk it’s much better to get off and walk to the top in one piece than push yourself beyond your limits, risk injuring yourself and having a very unpleasant experience.

    STOP PANICKING IT’S ONLY A HILL! If anyone mocks another cyclist for walking up a hill we say SHAME ON THEM! We salute anyone getting of the sofa and having a go!

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.  Our feed stops are legendary


    Signing up for your first event can be pretty nerve racking with so many what ifs to worry about, being judged, being last, riding on your own, what if I get lost….

    Our sportive is unique as we have Ride marshalls who ride the whole route with groups making sure that everyone has an awesome experience and you won’t ever feel alone or worry about getting lost as our Ride Marshalls will be there to support you along the route.

    If you’d rather do it on your own the route is fully signposted and you can download it prior to the event. We also so set the longer distance riders off first you will get very few riders overtaking you along the route.


    It’s always important to carry a puncture repair kit, a couple of inner tubes, tyre levers pump etc. with you on the route. If you don’t know how to change a puncture it’s worth learning how to do it before hand.

    There are loads of very easy tutorials on YOUTUBE showing you step by step how to change an inner tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwwfV99VV8I

    Best time to do it is in the comfort of your own home/garage/shed when you have plenty of time , you’ll be surprised after a few goes just how easy it is to master with a bit of practice, and there will be hundreds of other cyclists passing and many of them will stop and offer to help you out if it’s not something you can fix yourself.


    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.

    N’owt wrong with finishing at the back, so whether it’s taken you two hours or five hours you’ve ridden the same distance as all the others on the same route and lapped all those sitting on the couch.

    CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS OF THE FLAB UP NORTH SPORTIVE 2018 https://fatladattheback.com/sportive/up-north-sportive




    Continue reading

  • 10 Road safety tips


    1. Road positioning - don’t ride in the gutter
    2. Be aware of other road users
    3. Be seen
    4. Always follow the Highway Code
    5. Try and make eye contact with other road users
    6. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles
    7. Signal clearly
    8. Be careful of vehicle doors
    9. Make sure your bike is road worthy
    10. Think about cycle training

    Road positioning

    Don’t ride in the gutter!

    Ride positively,decisively and well clear of the kerb where you can see and be seen.

    Ride in Primary position (middle of the lane) when passing side roads and going through pinch points.


    Be aware of other road users

    Leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you can stop safely if it suddenly brakes.

    Look out for pedestrians.

    Always be aware of other road users and try to anticipate what they might do.

    This includes vehicles on the opposite side of the road which may cut across your path, vehicles may need to move into your lane to avoid hazards and parked cars and vehicles waiting to pull out from side roads.

    Be seen

    Always use lights when it’s dark or visibility is poor.

    The highway code advises wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day  and/or accessories in the dark to increase your visibility.

    High viz and reflectivity on the feet works really well as it’s a moving part.

    Follow the high way code

    Always follow the highway code.

    You can find the Highway Code for Cyclists here

    Observe ‘STOP’ and “GIVE WAY’ signs and traffic lights.

    Make eye contact

    Make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you. If the other road user is not looking at you they may not have seen you.

    Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles

    Large vehicles like buses and lorries which have a huge blind spot and may not see you.

    If a lorry or bus is indicating left, passing on the inside can be dangerous.

    Hang back at the junction to reduce the risk of a collision.


    Signal clearly

    Look and signal clearly to show drivers what you plan to do.

    If you can only avoid an obstruction by moving out into the flow of traffic, check over your right shoulder first to ensure that you have room to move out. If a vehicle is travelling too close to you to allow this, slow down until you have a safe gap.

    Be careful of vehicle doors

    When approaching parked vehicles, look over your right shoulder looking for other vehicles and when safe to do so move out into a position where you can pass the vehicle safely.

    If possible leave a car doors width between you and the vehicle in case the door opens.

    Make sure your bike is road worthy

    Keep your bike in a road worthy condition making sure you regularly check brakes for wear and tear.

    keep your lights clean of mud and dirt especially during the winter months.

    Tyres should be in good condition and kept inflated to the correct pressure.

    Keep your chain properly adjusted and oiled

    Think about cycle training

    Signing up for some cycle training is a great way to feel more confident and develop your riding skills especially if you’re new to cycling or haven’t ridden for a while.

    You can find out about local courses by phoning the National Cycle Training Helpline on

    0844 7368460

    There are a great series of video’s available on the British cycling website on learning to commute with confidence here

    More video’s available  here for every day riding through to participating in sportive events with their Ridesmart videos




  • FLAB Winter cycling survival guide - Feet

    FLAB Winter survival guide – Feet

    Many of us struggle to keep our feet warm during the winter, here are our top five items to help keep your toes nice and toastie.

    • Socks
    • Toe warmers
    • Overshoes
    • Winter Cycling boots
    • Household helpers-tinfoil/clingfilm


    Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 15.43.15Layering your socks works really well at keeping your feet nice and warm.

    Our Fat Lad At The Back merino wool thermal socks offer great protection against the cold.

    When it turns really cold wollie bollie socks from defeet come into there own. These non itchy heavyweight wool socks are awesome at keeping your feet warm and if your shoes allow it when it’s near freezing pop a thinner pair of socks underneath.


    Sealskinz waterproof and windproof socks can be worn on there own and are great if you don’t wear cycling shoes and can’t get overshoes to fit your chosen cycling footwear. They also work really well layered with socks and overshoes although you do have to accept that if you are cycling for a long time in the rain it will inevitably run down your legs and into your shoes no matter what you’re wearing.


    Toe warmers

    These are great for those in between times of years like autumn and spring. Really easy to get on you just pop them on over the toes of your cycling shoes.


    You can get all different types of overshoes, some are just made of material to make you more aerodynamic and some are windproof and waterproof.

    Sealskinz neoprone overshoe

    Neoprone overshoes offer your feet the most protection from the winter weather. They can be tricky to get on so make sure you buy the correct size.

    Winter boots

    The all in one faff free way to keep your feet warm and dry in winter, wind and water proof and a doddle to get on and off and no more wrestling trying to get your overshoes on. Northwave winter boots


    cling filmHousehold helpers - clingfilm

     Using Cling film as a vapour barrier can be amazingly effective at keeping your feet warm and dry.

    Humble cling film is apparently used by loads of pro cyclists in winter to help keep their feet warm. Sir Bradley Wiggins once tweeted how he used cling film to keep his feet warm on a winter training ride.

    Wear a thin pair of socks then wrap feet in cling film and pop a pair of thicker socks over the top.

    Rain and wind are kept from getting directly to your skin.

    Household helpers – Tinfoil

    tin foil

    It's readily available in the home or at a cafe stop and makes a great 'emergency blanket' for cold feet.

    Use it to line your cycling shoes to help block out cold air coming through the vents.

    Wrap over your socks to help keep your toes warm.

    Warm it up on the radiator beforehand to help keep the heat in a bit longer!

  • Ride Fright

    You’ve charged your Garmin, pumped up your tyres and are all set to go out for a ride when the pre-ride nerves kick in.

    Your stomach is in knots and you’re wondering if you need to make yet another trip to the loo! it’s all quite exhausting and you haven’t even left the house yet!

    Feeling nervous is understandable especially when you’re going to do something new whether that’s a sportive or joining a group ride for the first time.

    Yet many of us feel those pre-ride butterflies before rides and distances that we’ve comfortably covered many times before yet we can find ourselves completely focused on the “what if’s” list!

    What if I’m not fast enough and get dropped?

    What if I get lost?

    What if I can’t get up the hill and need to get off and walk?

    What if I can’t finish the event

    What if I let everyone down?


    Go through a mental checklist of all your what if’s. Are they really that much of a big deal? If they’re really stressing you out, write down the worst case scenarios and come up with a plan of how to deal with them.

    So for example …..

    WHAT IF I get a puncture? Learn how to fix a puncture and always have a puncture repair kit with you. Always take your phone with you so if you can’t fix it you can call someone for a ride home.

    WHAT IF I can’t make it up the hill? There is absolutely no shame in walking up a hill, and just ignore anyone who tells you different.

    Be Prepared:

    Make sure that your bike is in good condition, check your tyres, pack a tool kit and always carry a few quid incase you get stranded at the pub or café!

    Stay Hydrated:

    As little as 2% dehydration can effect our performance. As most of our anxiety is about ‘not being good enough’, being properly hydrated when you start riding and staying hydrated throughout a ride can only have a positive effect.

    Visualise The Ride:

    This is a technique used by many professional athletes and it works just as well for anyone. Before you ride, instead of focussing on the negative and what may go wrong, focus on the positives and create a vivid mental picture of yourself succeeding – getting up the hills, staying with the pack, having a good time and enjoying your ride. Continue to use positive mental imagery to stay focused and motivated when you experience obstacles or setbacks.

    Take A Moment:

    Research suggests that not only does our body language effect the way other people respond to us, but also how our own brains respond. Adopting a strong, confident and open body position can have enormous positive effects on your own confidence. Try it for yourself: Take two minutes before your ride, Stand in an open pose, shoulders relaxed, chest open (known as a high power pose). Close your eyes, breathe in deeply for a count of 3, hold for 1, and then breathe out fully for a count of 5 at the same time visualise the positive outcome of your ride.

    Stay focused on the here and now:

    Don’t think about what has happened on previous rides or focus on the what if’s, think about the sense of freedom you get on your bike and how much you enjoy the experience and remember there’s really no need to feel so nervous after all, it’s only a bike ride!


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