Fat Lad At The Back

  • #2: THE WEATHER CYCLE

    By Chris McGuire

    Chris close up

    We’re a funny lot, us larger cyclists. We really are: 

    “You pay more attention to that bike than you do to me,” said my partner, I forget her name.

    “That’s not true!”

    Some days it probably is, but I wouldn’t say that to “What’s-her-name”.

    I’ve had some really good reactions to the 1st of the blogs I put up here for Fat Lad At The Back. People seem really interested in my diabetes and how cycling has helped with my fitness, which is something I’ll go into more detail about at a later date.

    Others have said that I don’t look like a ‘ballet dancing hippo’ – much. I’m sure there’s a compliment in there somewhere. I’m currently struggling to find it. You’ll be disappointed to hear that Fat Lad currently have no plans to create tutus in my size, so those who’ve asked for photos will just have to wait.

    I’ve had some great rides this week, despite the weather. There was a short period where I thought I should get myself a job at the Met Office – which is only just down the road from where I live in Devon. Every time I left the house in my FLAB gear the heavens opened. My Bobby Dazzler jersey, I’m happy to announce, does not go transparent when drenched. Good for me, bad for any planned Fat Lad wet T-shirt competitions.

    Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever been wetter than I have on the last couple of rides. It makes me think FLAB should market their clothes as swimwear too.

    Thankfully, my preferred cycle route passes a great cycling café. Along with being purveyors of great coffee and cake the good people in this establishment don’t seem to mind drenched Fat Lads in Lycra massive leaving giant pools of rainwater all over the establishment. For this I shall be forever grateful.

    Seriously, there was a period during my last ride, as I waited in the café for the rain to stop, that I considered ditching my pride and joy bike. Instead I Googled ‘How do you build an Ark?’ Thankfully, the rain had stopped before any animals arrived, two by two or otherwise.

    As I killed time in the café, it struck me that many cyclists preferred this environment to being out on a bike. I’ll be honest, that’s certainly been true for me at times. I’d love to know the statistics around MAMIL café use. Do cyclists spend more time in Lycra riding bikes or drinking lattes? If the former is more popular, perhaps an extra bib could be added to bib shorts – to deal with splashes for foam from vigiourous coffee drinking. Just a thought – I don’t think it’ll be the way I earn a fortune. Let me know though, if you do spend inordinate amounts of time drinking coffee in your cycling gear – or it this just a myth? One thing I can say for certain is I’ve never sat in a café dressed like a ballet dancing hippo, drinking a cappuccino. Personally, I don’t really see hippos as big coffee drinkers - unlike cyclists.

    Hope you all have good rides in the coming days, despite the weather. If you do end up soaked to the skin, here’s my tip dry your bike before you dry yourself. There’s very little chance that you, unlike the cycle, will go rusty.

    PS: Dry yourself too, you don’t want to catch a cold!

    Chris McGuire is a writer and FLAB MAMIL. He has the World’s most patient girlfriend and a very clean bike.  

  • Kendal’s Top Tips to Getting On Your bike and Staying Motivated

    Cake – need I say more article-0-14FA374C000005DC-973_634x467

    A good helmet – for obvious reasons

    A goal – be it 10 miles, 100 miles or more. It’s your goal! And you should take great pride when you achieve it. Fat Lad At the Back's next Sportive is on 2nd October and has distances of 25, 50 and 75 miles – check that out. Falling that the British Cycling site has s comprehensive list of all Sportives up and down the country. Booking on a Sportive generally means you have mechanical back up and feed stops, so lots of piece of mind, but please confirm before you book.

    Some friends – check out British Cycling or even Facebook for social rides and groups and even your local cycling club for people to ride with. Don’t be scared, I’m yet to meet a cyclist that bites!

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com - 03/05/2014 Cycling Yorkshire - Fat Lad at The Back copyright picture - Simon Wilkinson - simon@swpix.com

    A tracking app on your smart phone – ignore the speed to begin with, that’s not important, but watch your miles add up! When you’ve been going a while you can then see how much you’ve improved too!

    A full water bottle – cos we all sweat and need to keep ourselves hydrated

    Padded shorts!!! - Might feel like you’re wearing a nappy to start with, but believe me then seats are hard. Give your bum and seat chance to mould them selves to each other though. It does take perseverance I’m afraid. Funny-Elephants-21

    Gear - And when you’ve got the bug, you can reward yourself with some sexy stylish kit. You know where this is going don’t you? ;-) I do love Fat Lad At the Back’s kit! It's good quality as well as good sizes. There is no need to feel like an elephant in a wet suit (it took me 6 fat wobbling months to discover them sadly)

    Oh, if you get out on your bike, set yourself a goal or even have your own tips for getting out on your bike, please comment below. I’m just a Fat Lass who likes taking her own picture, I’m by no means an expert.

    Share your pictures on Facebook too! I’d love to know how you get on!!

    Kudos for you in advance,

    Kendal

     womens_pink_cycling_jersey_Fat Lass At The Back

  • The Beginning - Kendal Briggs

    11960279_10156027273150504_6953329738244869180_nRecently, Kendal posted on Facebook a photo of herself at the top of her first Col in the French Alps, we had such a great response to the shot, we invited Kendal to blog about her  cycling experience.

    I was with the response I got on Facebook from my picture. People used words like inspirational and many said it was the kick up the bum they needed to get out on their bikes and pedal away some miles.

    I was very touched, but you have to know, I am nothing special! I’m just like every other FLAB following the Fat Lad At The Back page and wearing the kit. What I do on a bike is not fast and I think the only thing that makes it remotely pretty is the lovely FLAB kit!

    I’m delighted to have been invited to Blog for FLAB and thought I’d start with how I started my cycling journey. If one person gets out on their bike as a result then I’ll be incredibly proud! But an idea had been put in my head. So I borrowed a bike. I borrowed some kit (I swear I looked like a bright orange version of the Michelin Man!) I put on a borrowed helmet and off I cycled to a local café popular with cyclists.

    It was one pleasant April day. I was in my favourite place, curled up on the sofa… I probably had a bar of chocolate to hand too. A couple of friends were taking part in a 100 mile Sportive at the very end of August. 100 miles?! 100 miles of sweating, saddle sore, leg aching miles!? No way. Frankly I’d rather stick pins in my eyes!

    But an idea had been put in my head. So I borrowed a bike. I borrowed some kit (I swear I looked like a bright orange version of the Michelin Man!) I put on a borrowed helmet and off I cycled to a local café popular with cyclists.

    That ride was 13 miles - 6.5 miles each way. 13, completely flat, windless, traffic free miles. Well I was like a spoilt child. I whined and I moaned and when I got back I thought I’d died. I didn’t think my legs would carry me, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to sit down again, and my face was beetroot red and covered in sweat. It was not an attractive look!100 miles was never going to happen.

    But what about 60? 60 miles in 4 months was achievable wasn’t it?

    So, after one 13 mile ride that I was convinced took me to deaths door I went online and booked myself on the shorter route of this Sportive at the end of August.

    I was committed to it now!

    The training was hard, really hard, until I found a lovely bunch of Lasses through British Cycling. Lads and Lasses check them out, they have rides for all abilities, rides you can take your kids on, rides you can have cake on, rides with pub stops, but most importantly rides with other like minded people. Cycling is such a social hobby, and cycling in a group makes you much more likely to be seen by those pesky cars too!

    So if arrange to meet the girls (I had some responsibility to them to turn up that way) and little by little, plenty of coffee and cake, and even more gossip the miles started to tick away. And you know I even started to enjoy it!!!

    13417707_10157022849320504_2851687168352298045_nThat August I completed my 60 miles. I think there was a lot of stubbornness and determination on there but I did it. And that feeling of crossing the line and seeing 60 miles on my cycle tracking app was indescribable! I’d done it. I’d chuffing done it.

    The only problem was the big hole I now I had… I’d nothing to aim for now, I needed a new challenge – there was born London to Paris a year later, and I completed that to

    So just over 2 years on from that day laid on the sofa. I’m still a Fat Lass. I’m still slow. I take good selfies by it’s still not pretty.But I’m out there and doing it. If I can do it, anyone can. I genuinely mean that.

  • Everyone Loves A Tri-er

    By Richard Bye, Founding Fat Lad

    Head Shot Richard Bye Fat Lad At The Back3

    The Triathlon season is upon us and I remember my first!

    I had set myself the challenge several months earlier as part of a focused effort to get fit and lose the extra stones I had been collecting since my twenties.

    The training was tough and I found the swimming pretty lousy, but the most worrying part of all was my clothing dilemma.

    I envied the svelte lads, clad in skin tight Lycra, transitioning with ease from pool to bike and bike to run and wondered, what on earth I was going to wear.

    There’s not much choice at a 46” chest so after much research I had ordered a XXXL short and top ensemble in blue. It was the largest size I could find and I was optimistic from the size chart and photographs on the website!

    1455873_347719795434295_7801830915017813496_n-2-268x300

    My hopes were quickly dashed when it arrived and I held up the tiny clothes against my 6’3” body. Shameless hilarity ensued from my wife and children, as I wriggled into the shorts, which un-stretched, were no wider than one of my thighs. Once on, they left nothing to the imagination and the extra inches from my waistline bulged over the waistband like a cake overflowing its baking tin.

    The top was even worse and I was hot, sweating and flustered by the time I had got it on. The hemline refused to stay put and rolled its self up to my lower ribs, exposing two decades of over indulgence and denial. My cleavage on the other hand had been so effectively enhanced by the shrink wrapped Lycra, I was now an enviable D cup and even my wife had to concede, it was impressive!

    This was serious! The Triathlon was challenge enough, without having to undertake it dressed like an extra from the Rocky Horror Show. I needed a fat lad tri suit and if I needed one, that meant other fat lads needed one too. It needed to be generously cut with proper sized arm and leg holes, as well as practical and technical and it needed to have a long zip at the front so that you didn’t have to be Harry Houdini to get in and out of it.

    Try-Tri-Suit-Fat-Lad-At-The-Back-300x300The Fat Lad And Fat Lass At The Back Try Tri suits are all that and more. There are few more ridiculous outfits available to a sporting FLAB than a triathlon suit, but all things told, I think ours are very flattering pieces of kit. Designed especially for Fat Lads and Fat Lasses, they're available in black, which we have found to be a particularly FLAB friendly colour.

    The Try Suit has been tested by me and other Fat Lads in the pool, on the road and on the bike, with some great feedback and some unconfirmed reports that it may actually make you go faster – Either way, it won’t leave you looking like a badly packed sausage and that can only be a good thing for all concerned.

    Womens-Try-Trisuit-Fat-Lass-AT-The-Back-300x300

  • Size Does Matter

    Getting decent cycle wear if you're over a 44" chest is challenging enough, without the bewildering SML size system.

    Fat-Lad-At-The-back-Tape-Measure-Guide

    Is cycle wear sizing about the most complicated thing about cycling?

    Once you get over a 42" chest it's anyones guess how many X's you need. We couldn't make head nor tail of it, so we decided to scrap it and use measurements instead. It's different to other manufacturers but it's better and it works about 99% of the time.

    There's a lot of vanity sizing on the high street, which adds to the complication because it means that although you may be wearing for example a 44" jacket, your actual measurement may be a 46" or more. Our Fat Lad in Charge got a bit of a surprise when he found that his size 38" jeans were actually a 42" waist. Although it can be a bit disheartening to find that you are 'bigger' than you thought, getting the right size gear is a lot more important and once you're cycling, you'll quickly get rid of those extra inches that appeared whilst you weren't looking!Fat Lad At The Back Cyclewear Vanity Sizing

    Fat-Lad-At-The-back-Tape-Measure-High-Street-Size

    Ideally you want your gear to skim the skin, so that the fabric is in contact and can wick moisture away, but without being so tight that it gives the appearance of a shrink-wrapped chicken, unless of course you like the shrink wrapped look!

    That's why we ask our customers to get measured and use this information to order the correct size of garment. If you prefer a looser fit, just go up a size.
    When trying on the garments we also suggest that customers sit on their bikes or at least adopt ‘riding position’, so they can feel how the garments will fit particularly on the shoulders, back and arms.

    Fat-Lad-At-The-back-Tape-Measure

    Because the fabrics we use stretch in all directions, if you have especially large Popeye arms or chunky thighs or bottoms you may find that garments feel too short or smaller than you had expected. This is because the fabric gets 'used up' across the wider parts and therefore effectively 'shortens'. Equally, items can appear too small if you are very tall or too big if you are more petite.

    There can be some challenges getting the right fitting gear, but it's worth persevering with and don't forget you can always drop us an email and we'll be abe to make some suggestions as to the best size. We're quite good at sizing up cyclists now! The important thing is don't fear the tape measure - it's just a number and it's the start of your cycling journey!

    Fat-Lad-At-The-Back-Measure-a-Jersey

  • What makes our gear better? - YOU do!

    Fat-Lass-At-The-Back-Cyclewear-_1

    Not long after we launched our men’s cyclewear, we were inundated with requests from women or should we say lasses, demanding the same thing. It made sense of course, that if average sized lads were struggling to find quality cycling gear, then average sized lasses would be too, so we set about producing a women’s collection to fit and flatter the curvaceous shape of the female body.

    But first we asked our community of Facebook Lasses what was wrong with Women’s cycle wear and ‘hold the phone’, they were desperate to tell us!

    Firstly women's gear didn’t seem to be fitting in any of the right places and it didn’t have any ‘room’ for bust or hips - even though busts and hips are a pretty common thing amongst Women. Secondly it was shapeless, so even if our lasses had been lucky enough to find gear that was big enough, it wasn’t at all flattering. Thirdly jerseys were generally too short, so lots of women felt exposed and uncomfortable and spent a lot of time pulling their hemlines down and finally women’s cycle wear just wasn’t very feminine.

     

    Fat-Lass-At-The-Back-Cyclewear-_2

    Consequently our jackets and jersey’s have been designed with proper, woman friendly curve and feature a contoured side panels which help to slim the silhouette. Based on women’s body measurements, this tailoring helps to ensure a great and flattering fit and our longer length tops, ensure that our lasses feel comfortable, both on and off the saddle. Finally our designs and use of colour ensures that no matter what size, our clothing accentuates the parts of the body (most) women like and detracts the eye away from the bits they’re even less happy with!

    Our research also identifies the latest colour trends and we pick the most popular colours from the blue and yellow colour spectrums, to compliment women with either blue or yellow skin tones.

    We’re always interested in feedback from our customers and if enough people share your opinion, you may well see your suggestion being incorporated into the collection.

  • #1 ‘A MAMIL For All Seasons’

    By Chris McGuire Guest Blogger

    Chris 1-1

    I’ve just had a cleat failure. Know what I mean?

    If you’ve never had it, you will if you start riding ‘clipless’. For the uninitiated, being ‘clipped in’ is great for building speed and using your energy economically, but it’s less good if you want to maintain balance when moving slowly. Keeping upright in these situations is a skill I haven’t fully mastered; as all the dents in the pavement outside my house show.

     

    As I lay on my side once again, a question popped into my head.
    “Why on Earth do I do this?”
    And just as quickly an answer
    “I do it because it makes me feel alive!”

    I’m a big fella, 6’5” and around 18 stone. But before I started cycling I was even heavier – about 22 stone. Back then I felt sport was like stamp collecting: great for those who were interested in it, but I really couldn’t see the attraction. I didn’t see my weight as a problem; it was all part of my charm. Then, in my mid-30’s, I went on holiday to Spain and things changed. This trip became legendary in my social circles because of what my friends called: ‘Patio-furniture-gate’.
    On this single holiday I managed to break 7 items of patio furniture just by sitting on them. 7 broken chairs and loungers is, I’m sure you’ll agree, quite a lot.

    For a short period I was in denial, reasoning there had been a sudden downturn in the quality of continental plastic furniture. Yet eventually – as I lay on my back on top of another crushed chair – I came to the realisation that it was me, not the furniture, that was the problem.

    I was told I needed a low impact sport to help me lose weight and get fit and after an extensive research (a quick Google) I came up with cycling. Initially it wasn’t a natural fit - a 22 stone man and Lycra weren't the World’s greatest combination and as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, the ballet-dancing hippos in Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ sprang to mind.

    On my maiden voyage I learned some lessons. Before I’d got to the end of my street I’d discovered it was the right decision to wear padded shorts, without them I’d be permanently walking like John Wayne. I learned another lesson when I stopped at traffic lights and received a chorus of wolf whistles. For some reason, becoming a cyclist makes you massively attractive to builders. I waved to my fans and carried on. Finally I learned that cycling can be exhausting.

    I didn’t go far on that 1st ride and on my return, collapsed onto the sofa, but even as I lay exhausted, I was determined to go out again the next day. My fans in the building trade deserved that much! So that’s what I did and the rest is, as they say, history.

    I’ll be honest with you, I’ve had some ups and downs along the way - weight has come off and gone back on again and I’ve recently been diagnosed with Diabetes, which threw me off course for a while, but I’m back on my bike and I don’t regret for one moment my decision to be a cyclist.

    Over the coming months I’ll be sharing my cycling adventures with you but for now, I'm off to slip into my Lycra.

    Fat Lad At The Back Chris McGuire

    Chris McGuire is a writer who lives in the Westcountry. He loves riding his bike and in no way resembles a dancing hippo. @McGuireski

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