• Prevent Breast Cancer - Inspiring Stories

    Lindsay OcclestonGenesis Breast Cancer with Robert's Bakery, Business Networking Morning at Cafelito, Stockport

    When Lindsay Occleston received a diagnosis of breast cancer, she was determined to give herself every chance of beating the disease and remaining cancer-free.

    After several torturous months of breast cancer treatment, Lindsay was keen to make alterations to her lifestyle. Unsure how to proceed, Lindsay was introduced to Prevent Breast Cancer, who helped her learn more about breast cancer awareness, her own diet and the lifestyle changes she could make to improve her chances of a full recovery.

    “When I heard about their unique vision – I felt this immediately resonated with me, as I felt so strongly about helping prevent the disease in the first place to protect my daughter and all other children in the future.”

    Lindsay has since made some fundamental changes to the way she lives, including exercising regularly and adopting the 5:2 diet, developed by Dr Michelle Harvie from Prevent Breast Cancer.

    “When I was introduced to the 5:2 diet… I knew it was the perfect diet for me. I would advise anyone who is in a similar position to me, i.e. that it is impossible to follow a controlled diet every day of the week – that with fasting 2 days a week, you really can have your cake and eat it!”

    She has also become an ambassador for Prevent Breast Cancer. Lindsay notes that these changes have led to a significant and sustainable level of weight loss, a better sense of wellbeing and an overall happier state of mind. Lindsay now urges anyone suffering with cancer to consider the same lifestyle and diet alterations:

    “I would advise anyone looking to improve their wellbeing to avoid setting too high a goal, as it’s important to take little steps and they really can make a significant difference. Regular, moderate exercise can boost energy levels, as much as doing something really challenging.”

    Since working with Prevent Breast Cancer, Lindsay has cycled the 320 miles from London to Paris in aid of the charity and deems it “one of the best things I have ever done!”


    November - Claire Craig


    Recently, we’ve been talking about barriers into cycling and your thoughts on how to make it a truly inclusive sport. And while some of you cited ‘fences and gates’ as the biggest obstacles for riders (touché), others came up with a whole host of tangible issues. These included:

      • A lack of well-fitting, affordable gear
      • Fear of being judged by so-called ‘elite’ riders
      • A shortage of groups/clubs aimed at genuine beginners
      • Abuse from drivers and fellow riders
      • A general lack of confidence, often stemming from fear of traffic
      • HILLS! 

    For our rider of the month, Claire Craig, the principal barriers into cycling were a lack of motivation to get fit and poorly fitting cycle wear.

    Despite her boyfriend Martin being an avid, competitive cyclist, Claire admits that she was never keen to join him on his regular rides:

    I had never considered going out for a ‘proper’ ride with him, especially as I’m overweight, unfit and can be a tad lazy - not to mention I couldn’t find any women’s kit in my size!”

    After receiving a bike from Martin for her birthday, Claire joined Martin and her children for the odd Sunday pedal. Uncomfortable on the saddle even for short periods, Claire was forced to purchase a pair of mens 3XL cycling shorts, which she wore for a while under a knee length skirt.

    However, since spotting an advert for Fat Lad At The Back in a magazine, Claire has gone from reluctant pootler-round-town to fit and FLABulous cyclist, now making it out 2-3 times a week.

    “Once I discovered that FLAB jerseys really do fit - I didn't have an excuse any more!”

    Feeling confident in her new FLAB gear, Claire decided to purchase a road bike and attempt a longer ride with Martin, who initially pushed her up the hills. Despite feeling, in Claire’s words, “like some sort of dying, asthmatic animal”, she has since become hooked and continues to cycle 2-3 times a week for rides lasting between 20 mins and 1¼ hours.

    Now I keep my bike by my bed - a daily reminder that I need to ride it.”

    Since starting to cycle, Claire has noticed a difference in both her physical and mental wellbeing: “My overall physical and mental health have improved hugely. Of course, hills are still a challenge, but I’m no longer on my knees and Martin can keep both hands on his handlebars!”

    She also notes that while her reasons for cycling have never been specifically weight-related, she now feels much trimmer - “a pretty satisfying side effect”.

    At the moment, Claire is enjoying the winter nights and the comfort of knowing approaching vehicles can definitely see her - “I’m hard to miss in my hi-vis getup!” She also explains that she finds inclines and descents far less daunting when she can’t actually see them!

    While Claire assures us she won’t be entering the Tour de France anytime soon, she does have plans to attend FLAB’s BIG FAT BIKE RIDE 2019. Claire told us, “Your sportive happens to coincide with a rather important birthday, so I’d like to tick it off my 40 before 40 list…”

    As a proud member of The Bulge, Claire loves visiting the FLAB Facebook page “to ask for advice and read about other people’s challenges.” She exclaims, “This supportive community reminds me that we don’t all need the fitness and energy of an elite rider, that every kilometre is an achievement, and that cake is as beneficial to cyclists as water!"

    Claire states that principally, she is cycling for herself: “After a ride, I get a kick out of knowing that I went a bit further, a bit faster, or that it’s not taking as long to catch my breath. I still ache the morning after, but I am happy.”


    If you know someone who deserves to be our Rider of the Month, get in touch at frankie@fatladattheback.com

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


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

    A cerebral work out

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

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


    Fighting aging

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


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

    The pressures of modern life

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

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




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

    ... And How To Feel FLABulous In FEBRUARY


    NO, it’s not just you!

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

    Reasons to be miserable:

    1. The Christmas Comedown

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

    1. Sober

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

    1. Skint

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

    1. Hungry

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

    1. No Bank Holiday in sight

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

    1. Cold

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

    1. The kids were doing your head in

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

    1. Feeling like a Failure

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

    Let's Look Forward To Febuary

    group 4

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

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

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

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

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



  • FLABinati The Rules

    Flabinati Logo

    Rule #1// Re–write the rules

    Rule #2// Lead from behind

    Rule #3// It’s all about the pie

    Rule #4// No excuses, unless you’ve got an excuse

    Rule #5// FLAB the man up! (FLAB the woman up too!)

    Rule #6// Cake isn't optional, it's essential!

    Rule #7// The correct number of cakes to have is C+1 where C is the number of cakes already eaten

    Rule #8// Coffee and tea must match the cake choice....

    Rule #9// Refer to weight as “potential energy” it’s what makes you go faster down hill, than those with less of it

    Rule #10// Represent the FLAB always – any passing cyclist must be greeted with a cheerless “now then”

    Rule #11// Riders are to be measured by quantity not quality

    Rule #12// Waists and chests are to be measured in inches

    Rule #13// Free your waistband and your legs will follow

    Rule #14// Enjoy rather than endure

    Rule #15// You’ve got a 32? Use it! If you haven’t, get one. *Addendum A 34 is also acceptable as is a triple

    Rule #16// All cyclists faster up hill than you shall be referred to as ‘hill whippets’

    Rule #17// Fat shall be referred to as potential muscle

    Rule #18// When you put on a FLAB jersey you instantly get 30,000 friends*at time of printing. Subject to change

    Rule #19// All fellow FLAB wearers will be greeted with an enthusiastic Ey Up/pat on the back/hug

    Rule #20// Guide the Bulge

    Rule #21// All rides must end with or include a refreshment stop

    Rule #22// A FLAB out cycling in any weather is badass

    Rule #23// Be self-stufficient - always carry pies

    Rule #24// Beer is as a hydration fluid

    Rule #25// FLAB kit is for members of the Bulge

    Rule #26// Like your tums, saddles should be smooth and comfortable

    Rule #27// Cycling efficiency is to be measured in miles per donut

    Rule #28// There are only three remedies for hunger:


    Rule #29// Join us and be proud

    Rule #30// The rules are dead, long live the rules

    Rule #31// The correct number of gadgets to own is G + 1 where G is the number of gadgets already owned

    With thanks to Velominati and their inspiring collection of The Rules  - To submit your suggestions to our tongue in cheek (should that be pie in cheek?) version, please email fatlads@fatladattheback.com


    FLABinati Rules 1 -30


  • Cadence


    What is cadence?

    Cadence is the rate at which you turn your pedals or number of revolutions of your crank per minute while there is no magic number aiming for 90rpm is a good goal.










    Why does cadence matter?

    Cadence is important to stop your muscles fatiguing to early, using the correct cadence will improve your cycling efficiency allowing you to cycle faster and for longer before your muscles tire.

    What’s the best way to measure cadence?

    The easiest but not necessarily the most accurate way is to count how many times your right knee comes up in 30 seconds and double it but the best way is to fix a cadence sensor to your bike that links to your cycle computer which is much more accurate.

    Will a good cadence improve my speed?

    In a nutshell yes, if you’re currently pushing too high a gear and find that you can only ride so far before your legs give up, focusing on your cadence will help you ride further and make sure you’re using your gears efficiently and will help with both speed and endurance as you’ll be able to ride faster and further for longer and make you into a more efficient cyclist.


    Keep it simple…

    There is so much information out there regarding what we should or shouldn’t be doing when it comes to cadence and it’s very difficult as a beginner to make all this advice work without feeling confused and overwhelmed by the technicality of it all so keep it simple

    Measure your cadence and work to keep it within 80-100rpm to make you more efficient as pushing a low cadence in a high gear will fatigue your legs very quickly.

    After a while when you’ve found your cadence and have gotten used to using your gears efficiently you can look online for drills to further improve your cadence and speed.

  • One Simple Lifestyle Change Was Enough To Change My Life Forever

    DSC_0183Two months into cycling to work and I liked it that much, I started to use the bike for other things like getting to the shops and visiting friends. It was not all good though, because the bike was old, it kept getting punctures and eventually the bottom bracket went.

    I had recently visited my younger brother Adam in Holland and while out there had borrowed an old bike and I really loved it. It had a basket on the front and panniers and a frame that was easy to get on and off with a sit up and beg comfy position.

    I went to my nearest chain bike store and had a look at the bikes, finding one that was just what I wanted. It was a heavy blue thing, but I was in love with it.

    Cycling had improved my mood so much by this point, but I still had not given it a second thought, I was just not having as many dark days.

    Depression is strange, I didn't realise I had it and often blamed my situation for by bad mood. The slightest thing sometimes would set it off and for days I would wake up feeling either angry or upset, alone and with no end to a way out. Sometimes it would last for weeks and months. I felt like no-one understood and I wanted to hide. The anger was horrible and it often led to days of crying and a big feeling of hopelessness.

    The new bike filled me with so much happiness, I was so excited to get it, like it was Christmas again when I was 10. I also purchased a pannier rack and basket for the front. Sorted!

    My friend Jan was asking for subjects for her photography course and I volunteered to be a model. She waited for me one morning as I cycled to work and snapped a picture of me zooming down the hill and around the corner. That pic said it all.
    First bike! Fast pic

    Just one simple lifestyle change was enough to change me and my life forever.

    I didn't know, I was at that time just happy being happy!


    These are brilliant. Only 3 ingredients and just as good as energy bars but without the additives!

    You will need a blender.

    Power balls recipe


    Ride London is a three day cycling event that started in 2013 as a legacy event from the 2012 Olympics, some of the route is on the same roads as used in the 2012 Olympic road race.

    There are several ways to get involved, you can apply for a place in the 100 or 46 mile event by entering a ballot before the closing date and they send out a magazine to let you know if you’ve been successful. There are also thousands of charity places available and most will have a minimum amount for you to raise in exchange for a place. You can also take part as a relay peloton team of four each doing a fixed distance of 25 miles.

    The Prudential RideLondon Classique - the richest women’s one-day race in cycling, offers spectators the chance to see the best women’s cycling teams in the world battling it out over 12 laps of a closed 5.5km circuit that starts and finishes on The Mall the inaugural event in 2013 was won by Laura Trott.

    The prize money for the Women’s race is the same as the men’s and is the highest ever offered for a women’s one day race.

    100,000 people are expected to participate over the the three day event.

    There are several amateur and professional events taking place including a closed road family event FreeCycle on Saturday.

    Prudential RideLondon Grand Prix: Friday 28 July 2017, 11:00-18:00

    Prudential RideLondon FreeCycle: Saturday 29 July 2017, 09:00-16:00

    Prudential RideLondon Classique: Saturday 29 July 2017, 17:00-18:45

    Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100: Sunday 30 July 2017, 05:45-17:30 (approx)

    Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46: Sunday 30 July 2017, 09:00-14:00 (approx)

    Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic: Sunday 30 July 2017, 13:15-18:15 (approx)

    An estimated 150,000 spectators will line the routes to watch the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic.

    There are a few hills on the 100 mile route, one of them Box Hill has now become the focus of dread for a lot of riders taking part, it’s not that bad. Leith Hill is the toughest climb of the route and also the hill at Wimbledon which catches a lot of people out because for a lot of riders their legs are getting quite tired by this point and they can feel drained after conquering all the other hills.

    Some residents and businesses on the route will be completely cut off due to road closures however loads of notice is given to those directly affected and planning for the events involves the Police, Fire, Rescue and Ambulance Services and other critical services to allow any situation to be dealt with quickly and safely. Emergencies will be treated in the usual way, and the safety of residents and visitors will be dealt with as a priority.

    Handcycles, unicycles, Penny Farthings or Electric bikes are not allowed to participate in the ride london100 but this year they are allowing 100 tandems and 50 tricycles to enter.

    There are three bypass routes with an optional time and a mandatory time, for example at 11am you have the option to bypass Leith Hill if you are finding the route difficult but if you haven’t passed this point by 13.20pm you will have to use the bypass as the route must be cleared of amateur riders in time for the cyclists in the professional event to race the route.

    We have a FLAB cheering squad on the route Ade and Megan will be in Dorking high street to cheer all the FLABS taking part in the 100 mile route. They will have a big flag and if you would like to stop for a selfie with them and they will have emergency jelly babies, hugs and morale support to get you through those last few miles.



  • What is Zwift?

    As the nights are drawing in, soon it will be winter, it may be time for some of the FLAB community to dig out their old turbo trainer, put on a video on their laptop and pedal like there is no tomorrow for an hour or until their legs say no!

    However there is another way to wile away the hours on a turbo trainer… Zwift!

    Zwift is a turbo trainer multi-player online game that enables you to link your computer/iPad/iPhone to your turbo trainer, Allowing you to virtually ride with 1000’s of other riders across the world in a virtual cycling nirvana, free from traffic and headwinds.

    There are three virtual worlds to choose from Watpoia, London and Richmond. There are an array of routes, workouts and organised races to take part in or just ride round on your own workout. When you have finished, your ride can be uploaded to Strava.

    What do I need to play Zwift

    Obviously you need a bike, a turbo trainer, and a computer* /laptop/iPad/ iPhone. If you want an immersive gameplay, are going to be using Zwift regularly, and can afford it, then a smart turbo trainer such as the Wahoo Kickr or the Tacx Neo Smart would be a good investment.

    These turbo trainers generally have a direct drive design, with a built-in power meter and variable resistance. These turbo trainers will measure your power output, then send this data to Zwift to power your online avatar.

    The variable resistance on these turbo trainers will also allow you to feel as if you’re actually riding in the online world, so when you are going uphill on-screen the resistance will increase, and when you are going downhill it will decrease.

    However you dont need a smart turbo trainer - any turbo trainer can be set up to use Zwift. All you need is a speed sensor / cadence sensor, and a ANT+ USB dongle for your computer. Data from the sensors is then sent to your computer and transferred into the game.

    Your also going to need a couple of water bottles, a towel, a fan and a rubber matt to put under your turbo trainer­ (although Halfords do workshop flooring for £10 which locks together and is perfect).

    Zwift isn’t free but they do offer a 7-day free trial, and after that if you like it, it’s £8 a month.

    Setting up Zwift

    Once you have got all your equipment, you’re ready to set up Zwift, firstly download and install the Zwift application to your chosen device. You are then prompted to set up an account, and give details such as your gender, height, and weight (its best to honest, as this will reflect how you are progressing through your training and plus this information isn’t displayed to anyone other than you). This data will be used to create your Zwift character and to give an accurate measurement of your speed in the game.


    Its all about the bike…

    In Zwift your character is completely customisable, including changing skin tone, hair colour, and also what Jerseys you wear. When you first start out you get a basic bike with basic wheels, but after every km you get 20 experience points which go towards unlocking upgrades, for example, Zipp 808 firecrest wheelset, or a Canyon Aeroroad, s-works Tarmac, etc. The more you ride the quicker you will get upgrades!


    There are three different worlds to ride in: Watopia, London and Richmond:


    Watopia is by far the biggest map and has everything, from serious alpine style climbing to flat routes for time trial, racing or a social ride, and lots more in between, including the Volcano, with its own lap counter.

    There are also live Zwift segments including a sprint and two king of the mountains each giving live results and also awarding a temporary winners virtual jersey (green for sprint and poker dot for king of the mountains).


    The London map uses the route of the Prudential RideLondon Classique Course and the Richmond course is a copy of the UCI 2016 World road race championship course.

    Let’s ride

    Once you have finished setting up its time to ride, first select a course ( if your on Watopia I would recommend the Flat route it has a bit of everything but nothing to extreme a full lap is about 10km), next click ride now, and you will appear on the virtual world, just start pedalling, remember you don’t need to brake on the downhill (although to be honest I did on my first attempt), cornering is also a bit weird when you first start out, as you think you will fall off!

    So now your up and running, explore the various routes and extensive workout plans, or take part in a social ride. If your on a smart turbo trainer, your going to notice the hills, it does get harder on the inclines, you also see that when you get near another rider, it gets easier, this is virtual drafting, and works exactly the same way as it does in the real world. The start of sprints and hill climbs are marked on the road as a solid white line and finish under a banner arch green for sprints and blue for climbs.

    picture5 picture6


  • Review - Ultra-Distance Cycling: An Expert Guide to Endurance Cycling

    The beauty of this book is that you learn a great deal more about every day cycling than the title suggests. It's not only about Ultra Distance Cycling but covers many of the things that you need when nipping out for your Sunday jaunt. Nutrition, Hydration, power vs HR training, bike fit, etc, so many chapters full of useful tit-bits to help the novice cyclist as much as the Ultra Distance nut-case!


    A really great read that inspires you to find the time (one of the chapters) regardless of your schedule and leaves no stone unturned in understanding everything about man/woman and bike. Simon and Dominic have done a great job.

    "To break a cycling record at the age of 47 meant Dominic Irvine had to challenge the accepted wisdom of the day in order to achieve what many thought impossible. As his coach, Simon Jobson left no stone unturned in his quest to hep Dominic and his tandem riding partner Charlie Mitchell reach the level of performance needed to set a new cycling record. Helping ordinary people achieve extraordinary results is a core philosophy of my team’s approach to cycling."

    Buy the book here!


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