Preparation is key

Originally posted on Questadventure's Blog:

Preparation also leads to paranoia.

Last year I more or less decided to ride the South Downs Way with three weeks notice. All I did by way of preparation was to ride flat out to the Lewes A27 crossing a few times and gave up biscuits, beer and crisps. This year I have had twelve months to think about it, worry, weigh, test, experiment, train, purchase, and plan.

The consequence of this is that I am now assuming that everything will go wrong. My bike is too heavy at 23 plus pounds, my knees ache and I can’t decide what shorts to wear.

Foss tube exploded Foss tube exploded

And my wheels! What can I say, they are too heavy. Did you know that a 29er tube weighs 200grams? I have been through so many tyres and different tubes. I seem to be alternating between tubeless and tubed on a weekly, even daily…

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Sportive Tips


Sportive events are increasing, and there the number of riders participating also increasing, many of those taking part for the very first time. British Cycling are very aware of this and are very keen to help with pre event tips and advice to riders – especially those who maybe aren’t as experienced at riding on the open roads. Click on the banner below to go to their page.

Sportive Tips

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix For Winter Sports

Originally posted on All Seasons Cyclist:

Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

For the past couple of years I’ve used Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix as my primary drink while on the bike. This drink mix was developed by Allen Lim, PhD, a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team. He created this product “from scratch” because he thought he could improve on the usual prepackaged hydration products that were already on the market. While I love Skratch mix when served cold, or even at room temperature, it just didn’t appeal to me when served piping hot. In fact, I don’t know of any sports drink that tastes good when served hot. However, this past fall Skratch Labs introduced their new Apples & Cinnamon flavor and this product is intended to be served hot!

Thanks to a snowy and bitterly cold winter I’ve been drinking a lot of the Apples & Cinnamon flavor Skratch mix…

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Just Keep Pedalling


Come and try The Borderlands in May – a challenge coupled with stunning scenery!

Originally posted on IronHolgs : The musings of a COLT Ironman:

Breathing out of my arse, staring down at the road, I could feel every fibre in my leg muscles twitching in complaint.

“Keep it relaxed Holgs and just keep pedalling” the voice of Gaz, pacing me along cut through the fog of discomfort. Relaxed? RELAXED? Was he having a laugh, I was so far from relaxed it was almost comical. Cycling up a 430ft high hill into a head wind was certainly not my idea of relaxation, but the feeling of satisfaction when I got to the top of Capenwray hill was worth it, I almost forgive Gaz for picking the route.

I was almost at the end of my first COLT club ride in a year (only one more 430 ft high hill to get up ), I’d been absent for a whole host of reasons but I’m determined in 2014 to be a regular, and to reacquaint…

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Disease Proof by Dr. David Katz

Originally posted on All Seasons Cyclist:

Imagine if a pharmaceutical company introduced a drug that promised to cut your chances of contracting all diseases (including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease) by at least 80%? I imagine you would immediately have four questions: How much does it cost? What are the side effects? How can I get a prescription? And, How can I invest in the company? While such a drug is not available, you can achieve an incredible 80% reduction in your chance of developing a devastating disease by making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Disease Proof, a new book by preventive medicine specialist Dr. David Katz, provides a road map for making the diet and lifestyle changes that will “add years to life, and life to years.”

David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, is a remarkable physician. He received his BA from Dartmouth College and his MD from the Albert…

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Winter Cycling: Food and Drink

Originally posted on All Seasons Cyclist:

Note: This is the tenth installment in a series of articles on winter cycling. I hope to have the entire series finished by late November and then publish it as a free PDF book that you can download from this website (the working title is, A Guide To Winter Cycling”).

You probably won’t be cycling as fast or as far in the heart of winter as you would during the summer, but riding through snow and ice can burn a lot of calories. My heart rate monitor and Cyclemeter iPhone app do a decent job of calculating how many calories I burn during normal rides, but I don’t think it is possible for even the best power meter to accurately reflect the calories you burn during the winter—there are just too many variables. Even if you don’t get very thirsty during winter rides you still need to drink…

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Paleo Diet: The Proof Is In The Blood Tests

Originally posted on All Seasons Cyclist:

Because I love my wife and want to spend many more years with her I go to my doctor every November for my annual physical. About a week before the physical I go to a lab to get blood drawn (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, Lipid Panel, and Hemogram). The health care group I use is fairly sophisticated so I can see the results of the blood work less than 24 hours after the blood was drawn. If you ever wondered how a Paleo Diet would impact your health I can sum it up in one word: fantastic!

You’ve probably read articles or blog posts from people who claimed that the Paleo Diet caused them to lose weight, gain energy and give them a general feeling of awesomeness—but this is just anecdotal evidence and it doesn’t do much for me. I live in a world of facts. Many diet programs lead to weight…

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Why stop for winter?

Just because the clocks have went back and the nights have drawn in DOESN’T mean to say that your bicycle has to be put away until the spring. Indeed, there is many a pleasant ride out to be had IF you have thought it through and prepared yourself and your bicycle properly.

Contrary to popular believe, it is NOT raining constantly in the U.K. (and Northumberland in particular) during the autumn and winter months.

Winter biking

The roads CAN be wet however, but, as long as the due caution is given, winter road cycling can be a fun and rewarding experience. Cycling in the dark will reveal pleasures you have never come across before in as much as familiar views will appear totally different, especially on clear moonlit nights, and you will see wildlife that is not active during daylight hours.

What do you need to think of to start yourself off on your nocturnal wintertime excursions?

Let’s look at the bicycle……..

First things first. Make sure your bicycle is properly maintained. You need to be fairly sure that your bicycle will function reliably, as having to sort out a mechanical failure in the dark is a whole new ball game. Trust me on that. Check your brakes and tyres in particular. If you are not sure as to HOW to maintain it, seek professional help.

Carry the necessary tools to sort out maladies such as punctures, broken chains or components slackening unexpectedly. If you do not know HOW to sort these things out, take some time to learn how. Time spent learning these basic skills will usually pay off at some stage.

Fit some mudguards. They will stop you getting a wet stripe up your back and in your face. Wet in wintertime causes a severe chilling effect, robbing your body of vital warmth.

Consider putting SLIME in your inner tubes. Slime is a liquid puncture sealant that works by flowing through any hole made by a thorn or a tack and clogging it up. It works 99 % of the time, (nothing on earth is fool proof!) and makes life SO much easier.


I have it fitted in my own personal bicycles, (I have 4, at the moment…..) and my hire bikes in the shop. Only 2 of my hire customers have been stopped by a puncture in 7 years – THAT is not bad going. Still, you should carry 2 spare tubes and a repair kit though, you never know……

Get some good lights. Two rear lights is not a bad idea, one set to “on” and the other set to “flashing”, that will ensure you are seen from the rear. Heading out into the countryside means that there will be no street lights. It is necessary to have a BRIGHT front light so as to actually see the road ahead and see where you are going. Modern front lamps are usually LED, and more and more are coming as rechargeable, the latest ones having Lithium Polymer batteries. They are small, light in weight and surprisingly bright with a good run time. Realistically, you need to spend a minimum of £50 on one. I use a MOON X POWER 300,

Bike Light

which is nearly as bright as a car headlight and I have had almost 2 hours on full power on one charge, It can be dimmed in steps to give a run time of up to about 6 hours, still pretty bright though, MORE than enough to see your way. Remember to ensure that the lamps have full charges so they will last the distance you intend going, and that they are clean and bright. Also, carry a head torch. That means that if you have to work on your bike whilst out there, you will have both hands free.

Fit a rear carrier or reasonably sized saddle bag. You will need to carry your tools, spare tubes, spare clothing etc.


As for you……….

Dress as you would for any daytime ride, but bear in mind the following;

It will be dark, wear top layers that are reflective and very visible. Your bike will be lit up like a Christmas tree, but it does no harm to back that up with reflectives. Consider reflective ankle bands,

Reflective ankle bands

your pedalling motion means that they will be very noticeable to vehicles approaching from the rear.

Dress in layers. It will likely be quite cold when you set off, but, you know what it is like, within 10 minutes of pedalling off, you will be too hot and you will need to peel off layers like an onion. Put the excess clothing in your saddlebag that I told you to fit…… Don’t forget full fingered gloves and overshoe as well, extremities can get cold even though your core is warm. And a hat or skull cap. If you wear a helmet you will know they are NOT warm things in the winter…………………

Take some energy food with you and something to drink, Cycling costs energy; it needs to be replaced regularly as you go.

As for the ride itself………

Start short and local, stick to roads that you know reasonably well. If there is no moon, you will find yourself cycling only in the pool of light that you provide yourself. It will be pitch dark otherwise. With no landmarks visible to orientate yourself with, it is easy to get lost on roads that you know like that back of your hand during the day. It becomes harder to judge distances and it is all too easy to take a turning that you think leads to wherever, just to find that THAT turning was the one after and then 15 minutes later, you haven’t a clue as to where you are. Carry an ordnance survey map and a compass and know how to use them. Even for your local area.

Ride slower that you normally would in the day light. AND WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING. No matter HOW good your lights are, they are NO substitute for sunlight, there WILL be things that will remain unseen, like a patch of mud or a small stone on the road, these things can have you through the hedge. Take your time and stay alert, you will be just fine.

Some people think that cycling in the dark would be a dangerous thing with regard to other vehicles, but it has one HUGE advantage over daytime cycling. When a car approaches from the rear, you will see its light long before you will hear it, that will give you plenty of time to position yourself correctly or, if needs be, get off the road and let it past.

One final thought. Go with a friend or two.

Out with friends

It’s more fun when done sociably and there is always someone else there to assist if things go wrong.

Give it a go, you may be pleasantly surprised……….


Norman Gauld,

Bicyclist, Motorcyclist, Archer and Manager of Wilson Cycles, Berwick upon Tweed.

“Wilson Cycles – for all your cycling needs.”

17a Bridge Street
Berwick Upon Tweed
TD15 1ES

Telephone: 01289 331 476



A Cyclist’s Friend!! (Bountiful Bananas)

Why are bananas a cyclists best friend? Well, you have to know the background of this most wonderful fruit which comes with its own packaging. Read on to discover more about the banana – and why you should always carry one when cycling.

According to legend, the humble banana with its unique shape is revered by Hindus as being the fruit forbidden to Adam and Eve in terrestrial paradise, where nakedness was covered by banana leaves.

Nothing changes!

Sword and shin pads at the ready!

One of the first fruits cultivated by man, it is now one of the most important food crops in the world having been originally recorded in Asia many centuries ago by Alexander the Great.

Banana trees are usually grown in plantations, mainly in tropical regions and are sometimes associated with politically unstable governments and economies dependant on one export trade, hence the phrase, ‘Banana Republics’.   The banana plant is a gigantic herb that springs from an underground stem to form a false trunk 10 – 20ft high, crowned with a rosette of 10 – 15 oblong to elliptic leaves of 10 – 12 feet in length and 2 feet in breadth.

It’s a Banana!!

A large flower like spike, carrying yellow flowers emerges from the top and bends downwards to form bunches of 50 to 150 individual fruits grouped in clusters of 10 to 20 .After fruiting each plant is cut down to the ground, the dead plant being replaced by others in the form of suckers or shoots every 6 months. There are thousands of varieties of bananas, the most popular being ‘Gros Michel’, but plants are vulnerable to disease in particular ‘Banana Wilt’ which is a soil inhabiting fungus.

Fusarium oxysporum variety cubense. So there.                              

Careful selection and cross breeding over many years has helped to contain the devastating Banana Wilt.

There is no specific fruiting season, about 300 bunches of bananas can be grown per acre annually and clusters are divided into bunches about 12 fruits each for packing and transporting in refrigerated ships and ripened as required by exposure to ethylene gas (C2H4).

The banana is rich in calories, 100 to 100gms and has a good quantity of all the minerals necessary for all normal human body maintenance, 22% carbohydrate which is a quick accessible reservoir of energy; high in potassium, which happens to be the 7th most abundant element in the earth’s crust;

Not that one!                                                                                         

They are low in protein and fat, a ripe banana is 75%water. An amazing source of vitamins, A, B, B2, B12, C, D, E. A proven remedy for warts and a great conductor of heat and electricity.

And so, in conclusion dear Reader, not only have we learned that the banana is and excellent source of immediate energy for cyclists as a food but also for its healing powers. It is not so surprising then, that cyclists resort to this humble herb when suffering from ‘saddle sores’.





A peeled banana laid gently, next to the skin, along the natal cleft, brings soothing relief as one continues one’s journey. Acting as a balm, utilising its natural vitamins, the banana absorbs the aggravation and heals your private wounds away from public knowledge, thanks to the modern cyclists’ shorts with their elasticated legs.

If you suffer, try the remedy. No one need ever know!!!

You can’t tell can you??