Cycling advice & guides

  • Pants on or Pants off?

    We still hear that some of you out there are wearing pants under your padded cycling shorts! Whilst it might seem bold, the pads in your shorts are specially designed to be worn next to your skin.

    Wearing something underneath the pads can mean more sweat collecting, can stop the technical fabrics working, can ruin your pants and can cause chaffing and a whole lotta pain!

    Pads in cycling shorts used to be made from chamois leather back in the day before the high tech fabrics we now know. Yes, the stuff you use to clean your car with! Well it’s little wonder that ‘CHAMOIS’ cream was introduced to help keep the pad supple and help prevent chaffing. Thankfully we now have high density technical foam pads to keep us comfy but they are often still referred to as chamois.

    For many, chamois cream is an essential prevention of soreness during the hotter weather, when (without going into too much detail), it can get especially warm and sweaty in the undercarriage area. Modern chamois creams are formulated to help reduce friction, chaffing, skin irritation and some have anti-bacterial properties. Cream can be applied on to the skin and /or pad before a ride but avoid intimate areas or riding a bike will be the last thing on your mind!

    These creams won’t help with aches and pains in your sit bones from your saddle but a good fitting pair of quality padded shorts, chamois cream and absolutely NO pants will certainly help to keep your nether regions feeling peachy.
    Pants on? Pants off?

    There are many brands of chamois cream on the market and which one you get depends on which one suits you best. If you have very sensitive skin, we can recommend Assos which is formulated to have a cooling effect and also provides a lovely pre-ride tingle! Some creams have been formulated specifically for women, such as Hoo Ha Ride Glide which has a slightly thinner formulation.

  • Rafe's Cycling Terminology

    It can be hard to find motivation and even harder to get out of our comfort zone and push ourselves further, so here are some top tips on achieving both.

    Firstly I need you to think about where you are on your own cycling journey - don't compare yourself to others, but think about your own health, fitness, experience etc. With that in mind, what is your "comfortable distance" (CD) and "slightly scary distance" (SSD)? With regards to your SSD, this might be a distance you've already done, or a distance you'd like to achieve, but it's important that it's your personal goal.

    Sometimes just getting out on the bike is hard even if it's well within our CD range. The faff of getting changed, getting the bike out the shed, thinking of somewhere to go. Much easier to not bother.

    I find the best way round that is to commit to something "comfortable" in the very near future - whether that's agreeing to meet a friend, signing up to one of our social rides, a ride with a local club or something from Finding the motivation to make that commitment is really quite easy when you're sitting on the sofa in the cozy warm.  Finding the motivation to go out on your own when you're all tucked up in bed on a weekend morning isn't, especially at this time of year. Arguably no-one will care if you actually turn up or not (well, maybe your friend will if you chose that option!) but I find that if I've said I'm doing a ride, then I will and I'm sure you will too.

    So that's your CD rides taken care of... but what about your SSD ride? For that we should take advantage of a human trait known as "construal level theory".

    Put simply, CLT says the further away something is, the less we are able to think about it - we're unable to focus on the details.  For us as cyclists that means we're always going to more optimistic about events that are a good while away. For example, if I asked you to cycle your SSD instead of your CD this weekend, you'll come up with reasons why you cant (if you don't then replace your CD with your SSD and come up with a proper SSD!) - it's too cold, you're not fit enough, you're not sure. However, if I asked you to do it at the end of the summer, you're likely to agree - you've loads of time to get fit, the weather will be better, you'll have done training etc.

    So go and find that SSD event in the summer (preferably The Big Fat Bike Ride 2019!) and sign up for it. Now.

  • A day at the Derby Velodrome

    Fancy riding your bike on a nice easy to follow route? No rain, no mud, no puddles? No cars to avoid? No dodgy right turns at junctions? No junctions at all in fact! Just one slight problem.....the corners are on a 42 degree slope. You read that right - 42 degrees! Oh yes, and you won't be on your own bike, you’ll have to borrow one - one with drop bars, one gear, no brakes, no freewheel.


    Yes - it was Fat Lad (and Lasses) at the Track. After 9 months of trying to get a slot - it is REALLY popular and busy - I managed to get a one hour intro session for my FLAB group at the velodrome at Derby Arena. And from the speed the other 15 places got snapped up, it was obviously something other people were keen to try as well!

    OK, I'll admit that I've done a few of these intro sessions since the track was opened, but I'd not been for the best part of a year. So as we gathered in reception, I recognised that some of the forced smiles and too loud laughter among the group was hiding a slightly hollow feeling of butterflies under the (mostly) on message array of FLAB jerseys we were modelling. Quite big butterflies to be honest.

    It doesn't get any better as you walk out into the arena. Even with the infield being taken over for this year’s Derby pantomime, it's quite an awe inspiring sight as you walk out under the track and take the steps up to the "D" where you meet your coach, your bike, and your destiny. The D is inside the bend of the track. As you sit there in the pre-ride briefing, you only have to look over your shoulder for that 42 degree banking to loom high above you like a wall of Siberian pine. Imagine, if you will, a very open plan sauna. I was certainly beginning to sweat.

    Our coach, Simon, talked everyone through the basics of a track bike - yes, it really doesn't have any brakes, it really does only have one gear and because it's a fixed wheel you really can't stop pedalling. You should always ride on the drops of the handlebars. Oh, and if you don’t go round the banking at 15mph then gravity will have its wicked way with you, so pedal hard in the bends. We took our borrowed bikes and clipped and clopped our way up the ramp in what to many of us were unfamiliar road cleats and onto the flat safety zone that runs round the inside of the track. Coach Simon had recognised me from my previous visits. "You've been before, you know what you're doing," he declared to me and another of the group who is a regular there and fully accredited track rider. "Off you go while I talk to the rest". I really wasn't feeling quite as confident in my abilities, but begging seemed rather undignified in front of the group.

    You don’t even start off like you do on a normal bike. You hold on to the railing with your left hand while you clip in with both feet. Then you realise that the pedals are all at the wrong position and try and back pedal to correct them – except it’s a fixed wheel bike and you can’t just spin the pedals. Unclip both feet, hop off the saddle, lift the rear wheel, rotate the pedals to where you want them, hop back up on to the saddle, clip back in, right hand on the top of the handlebars, reach along the rail with your left hand, grip it tight, look back over your right shoulder to make sure no one is coming up behind you, then in one smooth motion you pull on the rail with your left hand while you push hard on the pedals and you wobble off along the safety zone praying you have enough speed to stay upright.

    That fixed gear seems like hard work until you get up to speed and then suddenly you are moving more steadily. As I come round to complete my first lap on the safety zone I can see the rest of my group wobbling away from the rail one by one, like little ducklings taking to the water for the first time. Which forces me to commit to the first, flat wooden section of track, the light blue “cote d’azur” – get me, with all the fancy terms! – to give us all room. “More speed” Simon instructs me and points to the brown wooden track itself. The one with the big steep bend in it!

    On the back straight I build up my speed and pull on to the track properly, following the black line just up from the safety and security of the flat cote d’azur. I can see the bend approaching, it seems ridiculously steep but at least I’m only a foot or so higher than normal if I come off now! Am I doing 15mph? I’ve no way of telling, so I push harder on the pedals and the bike and I tilt into the bend and due to forces of physics my long forgotten “O” level never really explained to me I have survived and got round the first bend and just as the elation is about to kick in I realise that the next bend is right there in front of me.  On a 250m oval track, the bends come at you thick and fast, so I keep pedalling hard as I bring the bike up to the next, red line, a bit higher up the track and hold it there, feeling more confident each lap as the warm dry air begins to dry my throat at a surprising rate and my legs begin to complain at the fact that they absolutely have to keep pedalling as I simply cannot relax and freewheel.

    The group have had a couple of goes at starting and stopping so Coach Simon signals for me to come in and stop. Stopping is pretty much a reverse of starting – come down the track to the cote d’azur, relax your legs to pedal more slowly and lose speed over 1 or 2 laps until you ease gently up to the railing and reach out to grab the rail with your left hand just as your legs stop turning and the bike stops. Except that I’m still going a bit too fast, overshoot the rail and have to pedal round again for a second, more successful attempt.

    The group are chatting and smiling to each other – they’ve all successfully started and stopped one of these wonderfully weird bikes without mishap. And it wasn’t as bad as they feared. On the flat. And this is where Simon’s excellent coaching skills come in to their own – as he drops some flat cones along the track in the start/finish straight, he explains that we are going to set off again, three bike lengths apart, building up our speed on the cote d’azur, and then when we come into that straight we have to go up the track around the cones and then drop back down. And we do – round on the light blue bit, up on to the wooden track above the cones then drop back down to the light blue for the bend. Easy. Confidence on the bike improves each lap, the speed eases upwards in response, and the cones move further up the straight section of track with each lap until we are riding up towards the outside of the track and dropping back down further towards the start of the bend. Starting to ride the banking without even realising it.

    After another all too brief rest, the cones are removed and we are off around the track in a long line while we build up speed to that magic 15mph – relatively easy with no wind, no traffic, no potholes – and Simon points us out to the black line to follow it around all the way round the track. Round the 42 degree banking. And we do it! You can feel the satisfaction, amazement, delight as we all realise we are really riding the track at a velodrome. Simon guides us further up the track in stages, red line in the straights, down to the black in the bends, blue on the straights, red on the bends. He drums into us the vital skill of checking over your shoulders before you move up and down the track, to call out “Stay!” as you are about to overtake someone so they don’t pull out in front of you, and then he lets us loose, giving us the chance to see what we can do on the track, to discover how much speed you can pick up as you come down off the banking into the straights, how much easier it is to hold the line in the bends the faster you go.

    Then it’s over – our hour is up. We are all pumped with adrenaline, laughing, caught up in that heady feeling of success that in the space of an hour we had gone from – most of us – total novices, track virgins, to riding laps on the banking. And enjoyed it. For all of us, it was a bucket list ticked off – ridden at the velodrome. No one said they hadn’t enjoyed it, a few were happy to leave it as a one off experience, far more were keen to come back and try it again. It is “just riding a bike” but it’s unlike any kind of bike riding I’ve done before – nervy, anxious, exciting, exhilarating all at once.

    A couple of week later I got the chance to go again on a novice session with my local cycle club – same nervous newbies, same routines with the same coach, same delighted reactions at the end. The next time I ride a bike I’m commuting into work – my old familiar bike, brakes, gears, rucksack, traffic. But it feels slightly different somehow. I feel more balanced, more connected with the bike. I pedal faster to speed up rather than changing up and mashing a bigger gear. My pedalling seems smoother, I’m aware of my feet turning circles, pushed by my thighs. It’s the feeling I had on the velodrome.

    Tempted to try the track? Then do it – there are 5 indoor velodromes in the UK (Derby, Manchester, London, Newport and Glasgow) – all offering introductory sessions with great coaches for people just like you, people who ride bikes for the fun of it and want to try something different. But be warned - it gets addictive. In another couple of weeks I’m going back again with the club to do my Level 2 accreditation. And there’s a speculative eBay search for “track bikes” on my account. It’s a slippery slope.

    And it’s 42 degrees.

    Steve Wadey

  • A Guide to Winter Bike Lights

    With such an expansive range of lights available to cyclists, we can confidently ride all year round through the darkest nights and gloomiest mornings. To keep riding throughout the winter it’s important to have the right lights for the right occasion. Bike lights can generally be broken down into three categories; commuting, road riding and mountain biking, with some inevitable crossover and multi-purpose lights.

    Picture by Alex Whitehead/ - 16/01/2016 - Cycling - Fat Lad at the Back.

    See or Be Seen

    The first thing to consider when buying bike lights is to establish whether you need the light ‘to see’ with or ‘to be seen’. A light used to see with will generally have a bigger brightness output
    (measured in lumens) and more focused beam trajectory to light the way ahead. A light used to be seen will come with a wider beam to be seen from more angles as well as a variety of modes and brightness settings. If you’re commuting in a well-lit urban area your focus should be on buying lights that are going to help you ‘be seen’. If you’re riding off-road trails at night you’re going to need a powerful light with a focused beam to see what’s ahead.

    What to look for 

    The majority of bike lights will have a lumen value on them, this refers to the maximum total amount of light emitted. The higher the lumen value, the more light given out. Typically a light used specifically for commuting in a well-lit area should be around 200 lumens, for road riding at night you will need at least 500 lumens if riding on unlit country roads and for mountain biking in the dark we’d recommend something with 800 lumens upwards. Battery life and charging options should also be considered when looking at light options. The majority of bike lights now feature built-in rechargeable batteries which can be charged via USB, although some lights may still run on disposable batteries such as AA’s. Rechargeable lights mostly use Lithium-ion batteries which are generally lighter and more powerful than disposables, and will have some sort of indicator to show how much battery life remains. Run time or burn time will state how long a light will last from fully charged to flat on each of the specified settings or modes. This is important and will dictate how long and far you’re able to ride for.

    Which light is for me?
    This all depends on where, when and for how long you’re riding. As mentioned earlier this can fall into one of three categories; commuting, road riding or mountain biking. Lights for commuting must prioritise rider safety above all else, as riding to and from work generally
    takes place in a street-lit urban environment. For commuting we would recommend a rear light with somewhere between 50 and 100 lumens when riding in the dark and a front light with 200 to 400 lumens. This category of light will come with a variety of running modes, including at least one constant mode plus numerous flashing modes with high levels of side visibility prioritised. The Knog PWR Commuter Light is one of the best front lights for commuting with a maximum output of 450 lumens that will run at a constant 200 lumens for 2 hours, which will cover most daily commutes. While the Fabric USB is a great rear light option that features 180° visibility and is rechargeable via USB so can be charged between the morning and evening commute.

    For serious road riding on unlit roads a powerful front light is a must. A focused beam with at least 500 lumens is needed to light the road ahead and pick out potholes, drains and any other road furniture you’re likely to encounter. The Cateye Volt 800 is a superb front light that strikes a balance between functionality and compactness, with multiple mounting options and a low battery indicator. The Lezyne Strip Drive Pro 300 is an extremely powerful LED rear light and is waterproof, which is especially useful in British winter. With nine different modes and up to 300 lumen output it’s the perfect option for road riding at night. The demands of mountain biking at night call for a seriously bright front light, with no artificial light around and trees and rocks lurking around every turn. The thrill of trail riding at night is like none other and we’d recommend giving it a go. You’ll need at least 1000 lumens of output up front to light the way ahead and many riders will often use a helmet mounted light in addition to one mounted on the bars. The Exposure Race MK13 is one of the best front lights around with a maximum output of 1900 lumens and a new fast charging system to reduce charge time by 35%. The
    Exposure TraceR is a super compact rear light with 3 brightness levels and a fuel gauge displaying the remaining battery life using a traffic light system and is rechargeable via USB.

    In summary
    If you’re going to ride through the winter in the UK you’re probably going to be riding in the dark at some point and it’s a legal requirement to ride with a white front and red rear light when riding at night on a public road. Bike lights are an essential piece of kit and should be a considered and informed purchase. The most important points to think about are your budget, whether you need ‘to see’ or ‘be seen’, charging and mounting options and running time. Once you have determined all of this you’ll be well on your way to choosing the perfect bike lights for your riding. Then you’re all set to go out and enjoy being on your bike, which is what we all love to do.


    Thanks to Wheelbase UK for writing this exclusively for Fat Lad At The Back.

  • 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!




    Picture by Alex Whitehead/ - 16/01/2016 - Cycling - Fat Lad at the Back.

    You're half way round a ride and your hands have gone numb. It's getting trickier to change gear and you're struggling to brake. Sound familiar? Having freezing fingers is never a pleasant experience, but it can also lead to more difficult, dangerous cycling.

    Read on for FLAB's tried and tested solutions:

    1. It's a good idea to invest in some cycling specific gloves, as too much bulk can make braking and changing gear even more difficult than numb fingers!

    2. Make sure your gloves aren’t too tight and keep wriggling your fingers during the ride to keep the blood circulating.

    3. Warm your gloves up on the radiator before going out and give them a blast under the hand dryer at the café stop. Scientific fact: a slice of your favourite cake can also help maintain a pleasant body temperature...

    4. Wear a pair of glove liners under your normal gloves for an added layer of heat.

    5. Keep some handwarmers in your back pocket for an instant hit of warmth half way round.


    • Lightweight full finger gloves

    linersIdeal for those exasperating types who "just have warm extremities!", these lightweight gloves are perfect for riding in slightly milder temperatures and are super easy to manoeuvre in.



    • Windproof gloves 

    For dry days, windproof gloves offer great protection against the cold air - keeping your fingers from freezing and your skin from drying up.

    • Glove liners

    Glove liners are extremely lightweight and come in a variety of fabrics, from silk to merino wool. Liners are really versatile in that they can be worn all year round - even under fingerless gloves in spring/summer! For winter rides, pair glove liners with wind/waterproof gloves for maximum protection and no added bulk.

    • Lobster glovesphew lobster

    As the name suggests, Lobster gloves group two fingers into one compartment - sharing the warmth but still allowing for a good grip on handlebars and easy use of levers. These low bulk Phew gloves are ideal for a temperature range of 0 to -8 Celsius.



    • Waterproof & windproof


    For slightly harsher conditions (welcome to cycling in Yorkshire), throw on a pair of water/windproof gloves for all-round protection. These Sealskinz All Weather gloves are particularly dexterous and allow for maximum breathability, all while keeping your hands nice and toasty.




    • Neoprene gloves

    Neoprene gloves are highly effective at keeping out the cold air, which can't permeate the synthetic rubber material. However, this results in a lack of breathability which can lead to a pair of very sweaty palms!

    • Latex gloves


    Latex gloves are altogether handy (pun intended!). Caught in the rain mid-ride? Want to keep your hands clean doing a roadside repair? Need an extra layer of heat? Pop into the nearest petrol station and grab a pair. We promise it'll be worth the shrivelled, been-in-the-bath-too-long aftermath!




    Designed for all types of bikes, Bar Mitts are a great investment for extreme weather conditions, or for riders who suffer from Raynaud’s and other circulation problems. They attach to your handlebars for added insulation, with plenty of room for a pair of gloves underneath.





    Still can't keep your hands from going numb? Take a pair of handwarmers out with you on winter rides for a boost of warmth whenever you need it!


    Picture by Alex Whitehead/ - 16/01/2016 - Cycling - Fat Lad at the Back.Part 1 - Keeping your noggin warm

    Halloween is over, Bonfire Night has come and gone, and supermarkets everywhere are stocked with premature Christmas decorations. In other words, Winter is Coming... (Nicely put, George).

    For those of you brave enough to face the drop in temperature, keeping your head, ears and neck warm (without overheating!) is key to a comfortable ride.

    While the vents in your helmet are great during the summer months, unfortunately they are no match for a biting winter wind - especially for those of us with slightly less hair!

    Never fear, FLAB are here with our top tips for staying toasty this winter:

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/ 29/10/2016 - Cycling Fat Lad and Fat Lass At The Back Cyclewear shoot - Burnsall, Yorkshire


    Neck Doo Dahs/One of those whatsit-thingy-m’bobs 

    These tubular pieces of material are really versatile, easily adjustable and can be worn a variety of different ways  ------->

    Channel The Doctor and use your Neck Doo Dah as a scarf without the hassle. Or, why not create The Hood for an all-round cosier ride. Alternatively, pull your Neck Doo Dah up over your face, balaclava style.

    How do you wear your Neck Doo Dah?

    See our range of Neck Doo Dahs here

    Cycling Caps

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/ - 05/09/2015 - FLAB Cycling - Fat Lad At The Back photo shoot Filmore and Union Ilkley copyright picture - Simon Wilkinson -

    Not just a summer accessory, cotton caps are great at keeping out the winter chill. Our close-fitting caps feature an antibacterial tape which prevents moisture from dripping into your eyes on the uphills. For rainy rides, the peak will help keep the drizzle out of your eyes (unless you ride in Yorkshire...)

    See our range of cycling caps here

    Ear Warmers/Headbands

    For those of you who run a little warmer, headbands and ear warmers offer a more breathable alternative to a hat. The fleecy material keeps your ears warm while allowing the top of your head to breathe.

    Skull Caps/Merino Beanies

    Made from technical fabrics, cycling skull caps and merino beanies are designed to be especially breathable. The fine material means they fit comfortably under your helmet to provide that valuable layer of insulation.

    Full Balaclava

    For you sub-0 riders, a cycling specific, full face balaclava offers ultimate protection against the freezing conditions. Made from thin, technical fabrics, a balaclava will fit snugly under your cycling helmet while allowing you to breathe comfortably.

  • 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/ - 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/ - 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/ - 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

  • What's stopping you from signing up for a sportive?


    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/ - 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/ - 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/ - 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.

    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/ - 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.





    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




1-10 of 23

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3