Monthly Archives: January 2019

  • BLUE Monday the most depressing day of the year?

    Blue Monday is a name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) claimed to be the most depressing day of the year.


    NO, it’s not just you!

    If the first few weeks of January has left you feeling a bit blue 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 look forward to stepping 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've spent most of 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 nearly finished we have the whole of 2019 to look forward to, dates to put in the diary, cycle rides 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 FLAB Big Fat bike ride 2019 on 11th May. If you're looking for some riding buddies why not join one of our FLAB social rides our in your area  FLAB social ride locations or if there's not one in your area why not apply to become part of our FLampion team Become a FLAmpion

  • THE BIG FAT BIKE RIDE 2019 - What's your excuse for not signing up?

    It’s 2019 and that can mean only one thing: The Big Fat Bike Ride is looming!

    It’s our 4th Up North Sportive, which means we’ve got pretty good at recognising when people are making excuses for not signing up. While some people’s reasons are legitimate (fine, we’ll let you off if you live in Australia...), others have expressed the same worries we hear every year about fitness, confidence, hills and other things that in our opinion, you shouldn’t let stop you!

    And we get it - the Sportive can seem like a daunting event for newcomers. But like joining a new gym class or getting out on your bike for the first time in a while, it’s never as bad as you imagine and you never regret doing it! 

    Here are some of the most common worries riders have surrounding the sportive - and our advice on how to overcome them:


    1) “I haven’t booked the time off yet” or “I don’t know which mileage to do!”

    Just commit! January can be a pretty bleak time and it’ll make you feel great to get a date in the diary and have something to look forward to. Booking the time off might also give you some extra motivation to train if you’re feeling the post-Christmas slump.

    Unsure which ride to sign up for? Our rule of thumb is that if you can comfortably ride 80% of the distance you’ve signed up for at 10mph, you’ll complete the Sportive no problem! Set yourself a realistic target and consider signing up with a group of similarly-able friends for an added boost of confidence on the day.

    Our Fat Lad team are also here to advise you. Email with any questions - no matter how silly!

    2)  “I won’t get up the hills!”

    This is perhaps the most common excuse we hear. The main thing to remember about hills is that the worst possible thing that can happen is you have to get off and push. Is that really a problem? Of course not! No matter how slow you go or what place you finish, you’re still lapping everyone on the sofa who didn’t sign up!

    Every year, riders walk up the hills and our Ride Marshals are always there to make sure no-one gets left behind! If you want to volunteer to be a Ride Marshal, email us for more info.

    3) “Something might go wrong with my bike and I won’t know what to do!”

    With 1000 riders taking part, it is inevitable that some will get a puncture - but this isn’t the end of the world! If you don’t know how to fix a puncture, it is worth learning beforehand. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to master after a few practices! There are loads of basic YouTube tutorials with step by step guides on how to change an inner tube:

    We do recommend that you carry a puncture repair kit with you just in case. But most importantly, don’t panic! There will always be people willing to stop and help you if it’s not something you can fix yourself.

    4) “I’m not fit/confident enough!”

    If you’re worried about your fitness level, signing up to the Sportive can be a really great way of motivating yourself to get fitter! It’s still 3 months away, so you have plenty of time. Our 25 miler is a great ride for beginners, although don’t expect it to be totally flat - this is Yorkshire after all!

    All participants also have the option of riding in a group supported by one of our FLABulous Ride Marshals. These friendly groups are full of like-minded people all encouraging one another to do their best! If you’d rather ride on your own, each route is fully signposted and can be downloaded before the event. We also make sure to set the longer distance riders off first so you won’t have many people overtaking you!

    Our Sportive is well known for being the most inclusive, friendly event in the cycling calendar. Don’t believe us? Check out our Sportive page to read last year’s reviews:

    Tempted to sign up yet? We hope so. One lad once forgot his shoes and still managed to take part, so you've really got no excuse! We can’t wait to see you all there for the biggest, fattest Sportive yet!


  • Meet Doris my inner Chimp

    Meet Doris, my doubting inner voice who likes to sabotage a lot of my cycle rides, sometimes before I've even left the house...

    Doris spends a lot of time with me and to be honest she can be a Bitch!

    Doris sits on my shoulder and whispers “you can’t do it, you’re just not good enough…”

    I’ve learned to put Doris in a little box to keep her quiet but when I’m having a bad day she pops out and starts whispering again…

    I’ve learned to acknowledge Doris, sometimes when I’m going up a hill thighs burning, lungs bursting, she’ll put in an unwanted appearance, screaming at me to stop, yelling that there’s no way I can do it!

    I say “shut the $@&% up Doris and tell her that I know it hurts but the pain is temporary, we can make it a bit further just to the next tree or lamppost…”, keeping Doris in her box can be so distracting that before I know it we’re at the top of the hill.

    Now all my cycling buddies have named their doubting inner voices, and if someone tells us Daphne has joined us for the ride or that Deirdre popped out on the last hill, it’s our way of saying we’re struggling a little bit and then we all have a laugh about giving Daphne, Deirdre or Doris a rollicking and carry on. It has a powerful effect and just talking about it instantly puts all our fears at bay.

    I have days where Doris is so powerful, I just don’t have the energy to shut her up, and that’s ok as it’s just part of what makes me human after all.

    But accepting Doris, naming her and talking about her has had a huge effect on my mental strength and without doing so I wouldn’t have been able to cycle the length of France or climb Mont Ventoux or cycle LE JOG. Doris is ever present whether she’s inside or outside of the box and acknowledging her as being part of me has taught me a great life lesson that my most powerful muscle is my mind and where the mind goes the body follows.


    SW1_7011Doris,Deirdre and Daphne successfully kept in their boxes and another sportive completed.

  • 2018 – My first year as a FLampion-Neil Warwick

    2018 – My first year as a FLampion.

    The two most common questions I get asked as a FLampion are – what is a FLampion, and how did you get in to doing the role?

    The first I can only take an educated guess at, but I assume it’s a concatenation of the acronym FLAB and the word ‘Champion’ so a FLAB Champion. Our role is to help to promote cycling in our local area by arranging social rides for all comers under the FLAB banner.

    The second question is easier to answer - Having been a FLAB customer for a few months I visited their stand at the NEC Cycle Show in September 2017 to get some more kit and got in to a conversation with a couple of people on the stand who I later learned were the Founder Richard Bye, and the Community Project Manager, Adrienne Horne, where the subject of the FLampion role was mentioned. This piqued my interest, and after a little thought I decided to throw my hat in to the ring for one of the roles. Fast forward to January 2018 and I was both excited and nervous to receive an email from FLAB HQ congratulating me on my appointment as the FLampion for Berkshire for 2018.

    I ran my first ride in early February and following advice from more seasoned FLampions picked a route I was very familiar with and apprehensively waited to see if anyone actually turned up – I needn’t have worried though as there were twelve of us on that first ride many of which have become regular riders throughout the year.NW Very First FLAB Berkshire Ride

    With Berkshire being a relatively small county it’s been easy to move the start point around a bit to give people the chance of having a ride near to their home, and also provides different roads and scenery for people to ride on – we used five different starting point on the rides throughout the year and more than fifteen different routes on the twenty eight rides we organised. More start points and different routes are currently being researched for 2019.

    One target I set myself (and failed to reach) was to ride with ten different FLAB groups throughout the year but I over-estimated how many local groups there would be to me with there not being any in many of the neighbouring counties, but I did manage to ride with the Wiltshire group, and the Cheshire group once each but the Hampshire group have been like a second group for me. With their FLampion being only about twelve miles from me just across the border I have ridden with them a number of times, and there are many riders who are members of both groups and will often attend one ride with a group on Saturday and the other group on a Sunday.

    nw Berks_Meets_Hampshire

    We have also had a couple of ‘special occasion’ rides – the first was a Berkshire meets Hampshire ride where both groups did their own rides out to a café stop on the county border where we met for the three C’s (Coffee, Cake, & Chat). And the second was our Christmas Fancy dress ride where we were joined by Hampshire FLampion James Morrison in his best Santa outfit to complement my Rudolph antlers!

    Looking back at the start of 2018 when I began my journey as a FLampion I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of how many people I would get on my rides, what routes people would want and how fast they would want to ride, but overall all of those concerns disappeared very quickly and we managed to build our small group from a handful of members to a Facebook group of over eighty, and I have had to make the tough decision to limit the number of riders to twelve people for everyones enjoyment and safety and many rides are full up.

    FLAB prides itself in being an ‘all-inclusive’ cycling brand and this has been reflected in the diversity of our riders with the youngest being only thirteen up to a lady in her seventies and we even have what we believe to be the FLAB communities first ‘hand cyclist’ in Nerys who uses a custom built recumbent tricycle to cycle using her arms, and, as we found out on our first ride together is surprisingly fast!

    NW FLAB_Berks_Xmas

    I started this post with a question and will end with the third question I’m frequently asked about being a FLampion– Why do I do it? This can best be summed up in an example of how the group have evolved in to a community. When FLAB had an end of season sale in the Autumn of 2018, one of the group members co-ordinated orders for a few people so that they could all share the postage costs and then organised the distribution of each persons order between them. It’s this sense of community that drives my desire to be a FLampion and give something back to a sport / pastime that’s given me so much over the almost forty years I’ve been riding.

    2018 was brilliant, let’s hope 2019 can be even better!

    If you’re in the Berkshire area, (or just visiting from other parts of the country) check out our Facebook page at you can get the latest information on rides and routes etc.



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