Monthly Archives: January 2017

  • Battle with your numb!

    Are you sitting comfortably?

    Arguably the seat is one of the most important parts of the bike to get right and if you’re not sitting comfortably you could be doing untold damage to your important little places!

    Remember your first proper road bike ride - ‘Wow that was ace!’ and then ‘ow my #@$*!’

    Riding a bike is definitely something you have to get ‘used to’ but if that same uncomfortable feeling becomes repetitive, it’s time to rethink the position and possibly the type of your saddle.

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com 25/10/2014 - Cycling Fat Lad and Lass at The Back photo shoot - copyright picture - Simon Wilkinson - simon@swpix.com

     

    It’s all about your sit bones!

    First off you need to get the right bit of your bot on the saddle. There’s a misconception that the bigger your bum, the bigger the saddle you need but in fact bum size has very little to do with finding the right saddle. It’s all about your sit bones!

    The sit bones (part of your pelvis) are designed to support your back and upper body and this is what you need to be sitting on. The distance between sit-bones can vary tremendously but has no relationship to the size of your anywhere else.

    You can be a skinny lad with wide apart sit bones or a larger lad with narrow sit bones, it all depends on the size and shape of your pelvis.

    So if you have wide sit bones and a narrow saddle all the pressure and weight of your upper body is going on… parts that can go numb easily aka ‘soft tissue’!

    Finding out the distance between your sit bones is the essential first step to a comfortable saddle. Some cycle shops do have ways of measuring your sit bones, we’re not entirely sure what they’re called… maybe an arse-o-meter? Although you can make your own ‘arse-o-meter’ at home, there a plenty of videos on YouTube showing you how to! Here’s an example of one:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7j9LUVJrjAh

    Now you know your sit bone width, what is the perfect saddle?

    Goldilocks

    Don’t rush into making a decision, you’re going to be spending a lot of quality time with your saddle so take the time to get it right and don’t feel that you have to choose a saddle at the shop there and then. There’s no point in buying one and realizing it’s not quite right 2 months time.

    There is a much better solution. Fat Lad in Charge, Richard met  Selle’s UK distributor, Dillglove http://www.dillglove.co.uk/test-saddles/ at a recent bike show where they had their full range of saddles -  there you can ‘try’ as many saddles as you like, until you get one which feels right and then, they’ll let you trial the saddle at home. It does take a while to get to know the saddle and you may have to swap a few times to find a perfect match but it’s well worth it.

    It’s made a huge difference to Richard and the office is no longer subjected to detailed information about his numb bits, so it’s a win win!

    Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 03/05/2014 - Cycling - Yorkshire, England - Fat Lad at the Back.

    Fine tuning

    The positioning of the saddle is another factor that you need to think about. For example if your seat is too high and you are using clipless pedals, you are actually pushing your nether-regions into the seat! You might have found the most comfortable saddle in the world and it fits to your sit bones perfectly, but the increase of pressure could give you numbness and saddle sores (as you try to reach down to the pedal on each stroke). Minor adjustments work best to get height and angle of seat right, so go for a leisurely ride and take a friend and a bike tool and keep pedaling and adjusting until you’re sorted.

    Bike Fit

    Although bike fit comes at a cost, it can make the most significant difference to your comfort and to your overall ride. Most people think that there’s no point spending on bike fit unless they have an expensive bike, but that’s not true and in the long term a proper bike fit may well save you money and make you appreciate/love your bike even more!

    You can seek professional bike fitting help with www.cyclometrics.co.uk and get a specially negotiated Fat Lad discount  20%. Paul is a qualified professional bike fitter for Cyclometrics and member of the International Bike Fitting Institute. He has professionally fitted a wide variety of riders from those buying their first bike to world champions.

    He has worked in sports for many years and spent time with Middlesbrough Football Club as a development coach, York City Academy in their centre of excellence and more recently working alongside British Triathlon.

    He is a Gym Instructor, Kinesiology Taping provider for Rock Tape and as a Biomechanics Trainer is one of only five UK based providers of gebioMized pressure analysis.

  • Beginners Turbo Trainer Guide

    Beginners Turbo Trainer Guide

    The winter weather, time and the realities of real life can easily put paid to the most noble of resolutions to keep up your hard earned summer fitness by continuing to cycle all winter. A turbo trainer is a great piece of equipment that allows you to ride your own bike stationary in your own home and can be a valuable aid to your cycle training. Turbo trainers are available to suit all budgets and there are many apps and videos available that provide structured training plans and motivation. Most are easily attached by swapping the rear quick release skewer that goes through your rear wheel to the one supplied and mounting onto the trainer
    Picture1      or the newer direct drive trainers that allow you to attach your cassette directly to the trainer.

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    Types of trainers

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     Magnetic trainers

     

    On a magnetic trainer your back wheel sits against a roller which has an attached magnetic unit which creates resistance on the back wheel. It comes with a dial which can be clipped onto your handlebars to allow you to adjust resistance up or down making it easier or harder to pedal.
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    Usually the cheapest option and they do the job but they can be very noisy which can irritate the Neighbours or your family if they are trying to watch TV in a nearby room. 

    Fluid

    The resistance from this type of trainer is provided by a propeller which spins inside a fluid based chamber and you use your bike gears to adjust resistance. As well as providing a better ride feel fluid trainers are much quieter than magnetic trainers which makes them more popular.

     

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    Virtual reality/Smart trainers

     

    These trainers make the most of the latest technology and allow you to connect your trainer to a PC, tablet, TV or smart phone via Bluetooth or ant+ . There are numerous apps available that connect with your trainer which make the experience interactive via software playing a video on a laptop, tablet, television or even a projection screen in front of you. This software allows you to ride courses and routes with and/or against your mates. The trainer is controlled by the computer which adjusts the resistance of the trainer so it gives the feel of riding the route you are watching on screen. You can also up load your ride stats via Strava if you wish to analyse your data a bit more.

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    Rollers

    Rollers provide the closest experience to actually being on a bike but If you are a beginner you may find it difficult to get along with this type of trainer as it requires focus, balance and skill to stay upright as there is no fixed frame to clamp your bike onto. You have to remain focused to avoid falling off so many people prefer rollers as it keeps them more engaged and they find it less boring. Great for improving pedal stroke and balance and rollers are much easier to set up than other trainers. Practice makes perfect!

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    Useful accessories

    Turbo trainer specific tyres are available which can help reduce noise, help grip and avoid any unnecessary wear and tear on your bike tyres as they are made of a harder compound so withstand the wear and tear of using the turbo for longer than a normal bike tyre.

    A wheel block is placed under the bikes front wheel to raise it to the same height as the rear making it level and gives you a more natural position on the bike, it also helps keep your bike stable.

    A full length trainer mat placed under your turbo helps protect your flooring and also helps to minimise vibration and noise especially if you’re using your turbo on a hardwood floor or live in a flat.

  • Why The Sufferfest?

    This month at Fat Lad At The Back we’ve been working in partnership with innovative cycling training app provider The Sufferfest. After all, it’s the start of a new year and we always need some reason and incentive to get on our bikes.

    Why The Sufferfest?  Well, we think there are many similarities between the brands. It’s easy to think that The Sufferfest is just for crazy fit people, and that Fat Lad At The Back only for ‘fat’ people. Both stereotypes are very wrong.

    As the community perfectly demonstrate, it doesn’t matter if you’re a 36” or a 58” chest, we are a people’s brand which anyone can be part of.

    IMG_5097 Liz Johns is a Dame of Sufferlandria and also flies the FLAB flag!  "What does being a Dame of Sufferlandria mean?"  For me, being a Dame - the very first one, too - means I am part of a group of amazing people who have all achieved something incredible. I found The Sufferfest at the start of my cycling journey, and it turned me into "a cyclist". Sufferlandrian Knighthood was the hardest thing I have ever done, physically and psychologically, but it also taught me that I can achieve more than I ever thought possible.

    The Sufferfest isn’t about being an elite cyclist because everyone suffers regardless of your base level of fitness.  The Chief Sufferlandrians want to encourage anyone and everyone to use cycling as a way to achieve their goals and this is exactly what FLAB is about.

    Cycling can be a very intimidating sport for anyone to get into, especially for larger people as there is a certain ‘image’ of being slim that cyclists are supposed to conform to. The Sufferfest gives you the opportunity to get on your bike in the comfort of your own kitchen.

    Some of our own are ‘fair weathered’ cyclists, so turbos are a good way of keeping your fitness going in the darker months and because it’s constant effort, a 45 minute turbo ride could be seen as equivalent to a 90 minute road ride simply because there are no downhills or freewheeling. With this in mind, the deal allows you to get two months’ free access for new subscribers to the motivational The Sufferfest app, if you make any purchase from FLAB before the end of January.

    Within The Sufferfest there are people of all shapes and sizes. It makes sense to provide those Turbo warriors with kit options for optimal performance and comfort.

    David, Chief Sufferlandrian, told us:

    “We at The Sufferfest really like what you all are doing for those who don't fit the traditional cyclist mould. The future of the sport depends upon greater inclusivity and breaking down those barriers to entry.

    “Sufferlandria has always been a place that welcomes everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, we just want you to Suffer and push yourself to new achievements… and we also have lots of Sufferlandrians who are big, powerful units!”

    There are big, powerful “units” in both communities. Of course, FLAB wearers already benefit from the comfort, fit and performance of the FLAB clothing and we wanted to help spread that word across Sufferlandria!

    We’re always so thrilled and motivated when we hear stories of our own members of The Bulge whose lives have been transformed by discovering cycling and improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing, not to mention making new friends and tackling new challenges.

    Perhaps The Sufferfest is another new challenge that might interest you. Richard’s got his own The Sufferfest plans, between the 4th and the 12th of February he will be taking part in the 2017 Tour of Sufferlandria, this is about doing 9 days of Sufferfest videos in a row. There’s still time to join him if you want to suffer together.

    We’ll leave the last word to Dylan Robbins, Head of Marketing for The Sufferfest:

    “One of the things that makes The Sufferfest special is the sense of community it creates. We’re constantly amazed by the stories of personal transformation and overcoming obstacles we hear from the community of Sufferlandrians, and are excited to share those stories with a wider audience.”

    As we are, FLAB followers. As we are.

    The-Sufferfest-bleeding-eyes

  • Getting back in the saddle

    Chris 1So how’s it going?

    Have you got back on your bike since the holidays? Not easy is it? If you’re one of those impressive people who didn’t over indulge over Christmas, you might as well stop reading here.

    Good.

    They’ve gone.

    I didn’t think I’d had that ‘heavy’ a Christmas. With a teething baby, there was very little all night partying going on in my household – lots of late night nappy changes, but that’s not (quite) the same thing. With this in mind, I didn’t think my fitness would have dropped after a few weeks off the bike. Boy was I wrong.

    I found myself especially grateful for the amount of ‘give’ in my bib tights as I readied myself for a post-festivities ride. It seems, despite the early nights, I’d put on a few extra pounds – perhaps this was something to do with my including Terry’s Chocolate Oranges as part of my 5-a-day. Don’t worry I didn’t have 5 in one twenty-four hour period – but I came close.

    Chris 2I was far from my ‘fighting weight’ as I clipped in for that first ride of 2017. I set off on my usual route along the Exe Estuary in Devon. It’s a beautiful undulating ride on National Cycle Route 2, with amazing views across the River Exe. Familiar as I am with this route, I couldn’t help feeling that something was different. Had somebody been in over the New Year and made these hills significantly steeper? I checked with the council – apparently not.

    The miles crept by at a snail’s pace as my legs screamed with the effort. At one point I needed to stop and sit on a bench, where a kindly old lady offered me some of her flask of tea. I politely declined. The further I cycled, the way I viewed myself changed. I started the ride as a ‘Chris Froome’ type, who’d (perhaps) eaten a slice too many of cake over Christmas. By the time the journey was over I felt like a goldfish gasping on the living room carpet. Not a pretty sight.

    Fear not because, in the words of ‘D:Ream’ (just before they faded into obscurity), ‘Things can only get better!’ My second ride after Christmas was also tough, but not quite as bad as the first. My third was also a bit of a shocker. And my fourth? Well, I’ll tell you when I’ve done it.

    Do you have big plans for your cycling in 2017? Are you going to take part in a Sportive? Perhaps you just plan to increase the mileage of your rides? Maybe you’re hoping to keep on, keeping on? Personally my goal is to leave memories of these post-Christmas rides far behind. I can’t wait until summer when I can get out in my favourite Bobby Dazzler shirt and embrace the joy of early morning rides that don’t feel like I’ve just cycled into a freezer.

    I’ll be keeping those heady cycling days of summer in mind every time I clip in and push off. I’ll be back to my fighting weight by then, of that I have no doubt. Right now, my biggest fight is summoning up the energy to get on my bike and ride.

    Have fun.

    Chris

    Chris McGuire is a Westcountry-based writer.

    Follow him on Twitter @McGuireski If he’s on his bike, don’t follow him, overtake (he’s pretty slow at the moment).

    Chris 3

  • Ade’s Top Tips for creating a mini bulge!

    Create a Mini Bulge! 

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    Lots of you seem to be looking for cycling buddies in your local area so here are Ade’s Top Tips for creating a mini bulge!

    • The letsride.co.uk website allows you to find buddies in your area, create cycling groups and your own social rides, which get advertised on the website. It’s free and for Lasses there are Breeze rides which are led by trained volunteer Breeze Champions.

    Just log on you to the website letsride.co.uk pop your postcode in and see if there are any suitable rides in your area, if not you can create yourself a login and create your own.

    • Be patient. It can take a while for social groups to get going especially at this time of year as many people are fair weather cyclists.
    • Shout About It. Post links to your ride listed on the website on social media, any local Facebook pages and groups, you could pop a poster up in your local leisure centre and contact your local county sports partnerships as they may also be willing to promote your ride.
    • Checkout the locals. Although you might feel a bit daunted at the prospect of joining your local cycling club, many clubs are keen to get new riders in and many offer a social no drop ride for beginners and if they don’t maybe you could suggest that you could somehow work together on getting a social beginners group up and running?
    • Meetup.com is also a good place to meet local people with many areas already having established social cycling groups for all levels and tastes.
    • Be Accurate. Always try to be accurate with your ride descriptions, be honest about hills and what sort of pace you like to ride at and whenever possible try to fit in a refreshment stop for coffee and cake……. there must always be cake.

    Richard is the newest member of Ade's Mini Bulge in Surrey! Richard is the newest member of Ade's Mini Bulge in Surrey!

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