Cycle maintenance, new clothes and a new friend.

I have been on with a few new tasks including changing tyres (de-laminated), replacing tubes (puncture), replacing a chain (worn) and giving Charlie a wash (filthy).

The tyre and the tube is one of those things but I was surprised by the chain. Apparently chains stretch and if not replaced when worn they can damage other components in the drivetrain.

I got a nifty little tool from one of my supplier friends (I will be a platinum member soon) and this measures the wear over a set distance.


You place the circular end on the chain (it looks oily on this picture) and you try to slot the 0.75 bit of steel into a gap. If it does not fit then all is good, however if it slots in then it is stretched and needs replacing.

Once again I went on-line and ordered my first replacement chain.

Before fitting the chain Charlie had a lovely wash using a new toy.

My next door friends (King K and Lady P) have bicycles (If you still call them bicycles when assisted by batteries). have recently invested in a new gizmo which assists in maintenance and cleaning of cycles. They got it for a bargain and it makes life so easy. King K asked if I would like to give it a go so I jumped at the chance and he suggested that I can use it when it is available for free (at the moment, but it could lead to the exchange of a bottle of Sauvignon blanc now and again).


Charlie is all ship-shape once again, ready for action.

I also picked up some new clothing and this included a new cycling top and matching bib short combo (you will see max wearing this later). Also I invested in a bright cycling top to ensure I am seen on the roads. Even through the dark nights have gone it is essential as ever to be seen. sometimes I think when it is dark you are more likely to be seen with lights as they are flashing in a dark background, but during sun light it is just as difficult. I thought I would get a great big yellow top so I could make my self more prominent on the road, also it makes your vision a little blurred and it might make a few drivers go to Specsavers for a check up.


Next up was my regular visit to Skyhook and I was greeted by a new friend who also has the same kit as me. His name is Max and he is really friendly and we get on great.

Steve said last year the 17:30 slot was very busy but this year it is often just me so now Max has started being there I am no longer alone. He gives me the encouragement I need and does not lie through his back teeth. Typically Steve would tell me the workout is not too bad and once again using his filthy laugh knows very well the little green men with paramedics on their backs are on standby. No pain no gain is the way forward.

I have been looking everywhere for my photo I took of Max but it was the day after my phone decided to die before it synced to the cloud.

Dont worry I will get another one this week.

Off on the road next…



Weekend ride with half a shoe, getting the fuel right and another shopping trip !

The weekend was here and I wanted to go over the peak district to Castleton and then work my back up through Grindleford, left at fox house and over to the other side of Rotherham.

I wanted to get a 60 mile day in where I had a few climbs without going over the top.

I had a good start and left around 11 am, I noticed a few riders on their way back from the peaks and I knew why. It was warm at 25 degrees and the pros as I call them (those that don’t break sweat climbing over the peaks) had been out before it got too warm.

Oh well I continued to climb up to the top of Hathersage road and then to surpise view and experienced the great thrill of riding into Hathersage at over 25 MPH down a great descent for a mile or two. If only there was a ski lift for bikes I could do that all day practicing going round bends at break neck speeds trying to over take the odd commercial vehicle that was in my way.

The next few miles is of a low gradient if not flat, I must say I picked a glorious day. I had done my first 20 miles at ease and decided I needed to refuel.

Recently at Skyhook training I listened to a talk about nutrition and cycling. In short  it’s about ensuring you are replacing vital fluids, salts and carbs. something I needed to really think about during my London to Paris ride.

However I have a little problem which interferes with all this and its called diabetes type 1.  The general consensus was that if you are doing a ride lets say over 4 hours I should be replacing the energy being used by eating 40-60 grams of carbohydrates every hour. I don’t think some of the other attendees realised how much this is. As a diabetic who can count carbs let me tell you its a hell of a lot to get down.

A good simple example is 3 slices of white bread would just about to it. Of course you can have other foods but imagine this every hour !

Then on top of that you need fluid and some salt or to hide the nasty salt word we know it as electrolytes (I pinched this analogy from the nutrition doctor during the talk).

If I am eating 60g of carbs an hour I also need to balance this with insulin as I don’t make my own. During the a 24 hour cycle you absorb carbs at different rates, you absorb insulin at different rates. it a recipe for trouble and a lot of fiddling around taking blood glucoses constantly, insulin and food trying to keep me on the bike for 8 hours a day. It’s quite easy getting the balance right if I do the same every day sat behind my desk at work it’s when you do something different its more of a challenge.

Any way I got to Castleton and had a little munch to ensure I had the fuel for getting back up the hills to Sheffield. There is something very calming about being sat having a snack and watching the world go by. The peaks are just stunning.


I made my way back to Sheffield but noticed my right shoe was loose and I tried to tighten it up, but no! It would not tighten any more. The shoes work on a ratchet system so you can evenly tighten the whole shoe up by turning a disc. It had broken and come away from the fabric of the shoe.

I continued on with a sloppy right foot, made it to Sheffield and continued on as I thought what would I do if I was in the middle of France? Continue was the only way forward.

I made it to the other side of Rotherham and back home with the sloppy shoe, to be fair it was a lovely day for a change and its was not the end of the world.

I decided upon closer examination there was a fault with the shoes and as I had only bought them before winter and not seen much outdoor action I would return them back to the shop. This is where the warranty police came to town again. They have to return them to the manufacture, so a possibility of 4 weeks without shoes. I suppose the pro riders out on the road have several pairs but I don’t. I leave the shoe and handbag club to Jo my wife.  I had my first pair but would mean changing the pedals and cleats and I thought this would not be good as I need to be training in the correct pedals and cleats and 4 weeks was far to long.

I went home and contacted the store again via Twitter after some further thoughts and they confirmed that if they were found faulty I could ask for my money back.

Next stop was to see Lisa in the Giant store in Sheffield to buy a new pair of shoes, and guess what I found a pair that fitted as I have to be careful being a diabetic.


Just heard back from the original shoe people and all is good and a credit it awaiting, more shopping to do.


Rain, hail, wind, mud and falling off

I went out for a Wednesday night recovery ride for a quick 30 miles around my normal route.

I was starting straight from work as in the week due to training locally I have Charlie at my side all day. The day itself had been ok in terms of the weather, just right in fact for me.  There had been a few sunny periods and was around 14 degrees celsius.

I set off from work around 17:30 and within 200 yards my fingers felt very cold and realised I had left my gloves at work. You need gloves as when you are riding with the wind chill factor it can get a little fresh on the little pinkies.  So I turned around back to work and we had a quick flash shower, hard but very short.

Got my gloves and the sun came back out and off I went. I must point out it had been quite dry in Sheffield for a while and the roads towards the pavement were very dusty.

I had a good ride across to Rotherham and as I was approaching Barbot Hall and the weather all of a sudden changed it was like I was riding into a micro climate all of its own. The rain started, the dust changed to mud, then the wind started and was blowing not in any direction but completely random.

I pushed on then came the hail together with the fierce swirling wind. It hurt, it got my face, my arms, my legs it was awful and this was followed as I passed Meadowhall with torrential rain, the type that bounces back up to the sky by 12 inches  and created an instant river of all the debris and mud. It was awful, the worst I have ever had on the bike.

As I was going down Attercliff the wind changed, it did not let up but at least it was going in the same direction, guess what I was riding into the wind and the rain. I was wet and not just damp, it was as if I had just been in a swimming pool, or should I say swamp if you could see me.

I got into Sheffield and the real comedy moment happened and it made my day.

There was two lanes, one a bus lane and a normal one. I was at a cross roads in the bus lane on the left hand side.

Here is a quick picture so you will get the idea.


Now on a junction like this I tend to go to the front and in fact as far as the actual junction so I can get a bit of fresh air between me and any cars for when I set off. It just gives me a bit of time to get both feet clipped in and put the power down.

Now on this particular junction there are no traffic lights past the junction, normally you get lights ahead past the junction but not here.

I quickly realised I could not see the lights so with my right foot clipped in and my left keeping me upright I decided to hutch backwards in reveres to see the lights. However I forgot this is not normal and my right foot still clipped in did not agree.

I instantly started falling to my right (were my foot was clipped in) lost my balance, could not get my foot out of the pedal and ended up with Charlie on top of me, by this time there were a row of cars in the car lane. They just carried on and no doubt trying not to laugh.

If you want a reminder of what I mean take look at a previous post to see a previous post explaining the cleat and pedal situation by reading Charlie and me for the first time

All I have to say if I end up on Harry Hill from a dash cam I want half of the £250 !

I got up hurt my knee, was filthy and just carried on determined to get back to work and go home.

Here was the result. No they are not grey tights but the grime I picked up after I took my socks off. I had most of Rotherham’s road grime in my bib shorts !


On the way home another fellow cyclist battles the conditions. I think you will get the idea.


The saddle comes back to bite me !

You will have seen in the past about the issues I was having with the saddle. I found one in the end and although there will always be some pain when you cycle over a distance it was far better than what I had.

Here is the Prologo


All off a sudden Charlie developed a squeak and as per normal it is always difficult to find the source.

My personal cycling guru Steve from Skyhook training came to the rescue and identified it was a problem with the saddle. Not again I thought.

The problem was clear and one of the rails which attached to the saddle was moving, I took a quick video and spoke to the supplier as it was not very old.

After I sent them the video I expected them to send me a new one. How wrong I was they wanted it back for inspection and then they would send it back to the manufactures.

The problem was that they were not prepared to give me a replacement in the mean time although it was obviously faulty.

So what would I use as it could take 4 weeks to go through the warranty process. The supplier advised I should purchase another one and request a refund. All very well if you have the spare cash hanging around under the mattress and if not it means no siting down.

After an hour of playing devils advocate with myself I had to order another saddle. The new one was incorrect and this was not the end but eventually I have a new saddle.

To this day a month on I have heard nothing and this was not the last warranty issue I have encountered.

I am still around !

I have not posted for a month, a few things have happened but with the training stepping up, the daily workload increasing, and the increase of my charity work for the NKF (National Kidney Federation) as we seek a new CEO has been a little intense.

So over the next couple of days I will catch up on the issues I have faced during my quest to cycle from London to Paris and increase the awareness of organ donation.

I will leave with a photo I took during one of my rides in the Peaks in Derbyshire.


Sunny days and transplant patients don’t mix

Today is probably the best day of the year in terms of weather so far. It’s around 22 degrees centigrade, blue skies, calm and still.

However transplant patients particularly (same should apply to everyone really) must be more aware of the effects of ultra violet light and what a day to remind me.

Back to the bike first. Training has been going well since returning from my lovely holiday in France with Jo my wife.

It was hard going on my return but I soon picked it back up and my regime has increased in preparation for the London to Paris with last weeks session including the following.

Monday              Rest day

Tuesday             Indoor session with Steve

Wednesday       Outdoor recovery ride

Thursday            Indoor Session

Friday                 Rest day

Saturday            outdoor sprint training

Sunday               A steady ride to Gainsborough

The next indoor session was Tuesday and Steve did tip me off that this would probably be the hardest so far with that fiendish grin and cruel laugh he has. I always think I am paying for this pain !

He was right it was the toughest session I had done, it was two large 20 minutes chunks riding at and around my FTP threshold. Boy it hurt, I got home I had never felt so drained. Yes Steve you broke me ! but I am still alive.

Going back to Gainsborough I had a couple of interesting interactions with fellow cyclists. Firstly I was on a nice flat road not far from home and I was just doing a bit of warm up and on this stretch I always put the hammer down. I was cruising just short of 30mph ! suddenly whoosh a pro (as I call them) passed by me up the inside on a wide cycle lane at a rate of knots, he said hello as he left me in the dust. Just makes you think you are not trying enough.

Oh well that is one incident. The next,  I was just leaving Maltby in Rotherham and heading to Tickhill. I just hit the downhill section before the large hill in front of me and in the distance,  I spotted a pro (identified by his / her dark clothing, all pros tend to wear dark non reflective clothing for some reason). He was probably around 500 yards in the distance and just about to climb. Once again I put in the effort and thought I would see if I could catch them up.

He just went other the top and I had already started climbing, I was catching them up and I thought wow I must be getting better. By the time we started dropping into Tickhill they were in my sight and I was on his (I could tell by now he was a he) wheel. Then disappoint struck, he had white hair and looked round and said good afternoon. He was 75 at the very least. The euphoria of catching a pro suddenly sank. However, let’s get this right, there are an awful lot of senior cyclists out there and it is obvious from this encounter he was on form. If I can keep going like this by the age of 60 I would be staggered and there goes a guy in his 70s cycling around. Well done that’s all I can say.


Back to this glorious weather and transplants and the connection with today.

A few weeks ago I went for my normal dermatology appointment. It’s a standard check of the skin. The reason for this is that when you are taking anti rejection drugs your immunity to skin cancer is greatly reduced. So its good practice to get things checked.

On the last appointment I have some moles which have grown a little and more irregular shape. The option is to monitor them more closely (more hospital visits, fighting for parking and all the rest that comes with hospital visits) or just to whip them off as a precaution. So I went for the whip them off technique which was today. Prevention is the best cure and getting a good factor 50 applied at all times is the best idea. I apply Sunsence factor 50 moisturiser every single day, even in hail, rain, snow and shine.

Must be the reason I look so young for 44 😉

This is going to hinder my training for the best part of a week unless I can get a bike which is upright and have a shopping basket on the front.

Anyway due to this little day off I am now relaxing keeping my back straight and not bending in the garden but sat under a large umbrella. Back to normal tomorrow unless I bleed to death overnight.

I am admiring my lovely grass, I am not into gardening and love the fact my garden is small but practical. But I have been carefully tendering the grass over the winter months and I must admit I have done a mighty fine job as you can see.



I skipped a week away from Charlie

I have had a full week off Charlie. This was forced due to a holiday in Brittany France.

I am always a little worried about these holiday in terms of my training. I had just reached a new level and started the next period for me to disappear to France with no training and a bit of indulgence from the odd vino calapso, gin and tonic and Jack Daniels fire never mind the abundance of fresh bread and Brittany butter !

I am typing this whilst on the ferry from Guernsey to Poole watching the sun disappear below the horizon. Ok you got me I was making it up as its cloudy as we are in the middle of the English Channel. Just sounded so much nicer and in fact romantic.

Jo my Kidney Donor wife has previously suffered from sea sickness so this time she is prepared with bands and tablets and I must say on the way out and so far back she has been absolutely fine. In-fact she has just eaten her last Croque Monsieur and glass of white wine for a few months.

Going back to cycling, doing nothing for a week is a little problematic to my mind as no doubt it will take at least a week to get back to the point I was at before leaving the UK. That technically puts me somewhat backwards in my fitness plan for my challenge of London to Paris.

I have taken it easy in France this time, we decided we would do a little bit of non-essential painting to the window shutters.

They were a brown varnished colour and we decided we would paint them a shade of Grey. So upon arrival the preparation began using the following method.

Day 1 – Jet washing the shutters to get rid of any loose varnish and algae which had built up over a few years.

Day 1 —  Sanding all the old vanish off that was remaining to get it down to clean ready to go timber.

Day 2 — getting two coats of preservative and a few repairs of rotten tongue and groove timber.

Day 3 – 1st coat of under coat

Day 4 – 2nd coat of under coat

Day 5 – 1st coat of gloss

Day 6 – 2nd Coat of gloss

Then at the end of the day re-hanging the shutters and re-greasing the hinges

All done, as you can tell I don’t like to lounge around for any amount of time, I am as bad as my wife Jo.

Hold on just got a piece of Dairy milk popping candy coming my way followed by a couple of units of insulin………


Moving on during all this fun I saw some amazing night-time sights. I witnessed the best show on earth, it is amazing what you can see with just the naked eye. The longer you stop watching the more you can see. I am no expert star-gazer, but I can sit there all night watching stars, planets and the odd weather satellite nipping across the sky.

Friday night was my Birthday (we pretended as my real birthday is in February and if its good enough for the Queen to have two then its good enough for me).

Jo had booked us in a hotel in St Malo and a restaurant called L’Absinthe. OMG we had what I would say is the best dinner in France. It was a French restaurant with excellent service, good food and good wine. As you would expect we did not leave stuffed (typical English to want to be stuffed), but the food and service were at its highest. If only some of the local restaurants near us could follow something similar like this.

The food had plenty of individual flavours and texture, some of the “fluffy” bits were just tongue tingling. It just amazing what can be done when you know how !

If you are ever in St Malo make sure you get yourself booked in for dinner, you will not be disappointed.

Thank you Jo for my Birthday treat.

On our way back, we called into Jersey for a few hours, topped up our stomachs with a fantastic breakfast at Gorey Pier, called at St Brelade bay for a walk and then back on the trimaran ferry to Poole and drive back to Sheffield.


Al I have to do is get my act together and undo all these nasty things I have eaten and get on “mi bike”.

Weekend ride is cancelled as Mothers Days takes over…

I had my first session on Thursday at my new FTP level of 200 watts, it was a threshold ride to make sure the numbers stack up and they did. It was tough but not impossible although at the end I had a hypo again. It was a ride of a high load but normal cadence which sent me tumbling with no chance of recovery before the end of the session.

However, that was it for Charlie until Tuesday as Mother’s day was going to be upon us.

Now I know some of you are thing what has mothering Sunday got to do with it. Well the original owner of my Kidney owns a flower shop in Dore village, Sheffield called Valerie of Dore.

Stop she is not called Valerie but Jo.

Most people (especially annoying sales calls) on the telephone call her Valerie but this was the name of the original owner who has long retired but still lives in the village and was responsible for the business to have one of the best reputations in South Yorkshire, so we could not let the name disappear. Val often calls in to the shop for a catch-up and lives within 150 yards of our shop.

It’s the busiest weeks of the year in a florist calendar for us in Dore village. Christmas is busy, Valentines day is ok and mother’s day is just crazy !

We start a few months earlier getting cellophane wrapping cut and prepped and bows all made as preparation is key with the amount of Staff Jo employees.

With a few weeks to go the final orders for flower stock are made with several suppliers. In comes  the sundries such as baskets and containers and then in the final week we are already to go.

We have a cold store in the shop and also, I get Jo two other portable cold stores up and running which enables to store the flowers in perfect conditions once made to enable the stock to be as long-lasting as possible. It’s a perk of the job when you are involved in refrigeration.

Orders roll in on the Interflora system, our phone lines don’t stop and orders pinging on our website.

Its nonstop from Thursday evening.

I appear Friday night straight from the day job to help with the delivery routes and do all the running around. Saturday, I stop in the shop and carry out all the menial tasks like processing credit card payments, answering the phone, helping drivers, making tea, emptying bins and one of the most important jobs of ordering the evening take away (Indian this year). In fact, I do a bit of everything apart from making floral designs as I leave this to the experts.

Eventually we get done late Saturday night with everything in place and then on Sunday it’s normally a little more relaxed in the shop as the main job is down to the eight or so drivers we get in on a temporary basis. I go out with a large run of deliveries to Dronfield and Barlow area and drop off 23 designs. We aim to get everything delivered by 1 pm as some of the recipients may be out for Mother’s Day lunch.


Over the weekend there were more than 250 deliveries and in total we probably made over 350 designs in total. It well organised chaos ! there was only one design this year that did not get delivered due to no one in and a neighbour not willing to take it in. So, it was a good result.

It’s a great relief for all of us on Sunday afternoon as we know we have done it for another year and now its time to roll into wedding season.

Don’t worry I kept the fitness up and managed a few steps on the Saturday as you can see below.


Back to Charlie on Tuesday !

Its time for the FTP test

It’s been a really busy few weeks since my last post. In terms of Charlie, I have had good sessions with Steve at Skyhook including our end of 6 weeks FTP testing.

The sessions have been coming to the end of this period and they have progressively been getting harder and then at the end we had the FTP test to see how much more power I can produce over an average time.

This is the testing part of my training which lets me see if I am getting any stronger. One thing on the programme is that things never seem to get easier so its difficult to judge if you are making progress.

I have noticed during the workouts every week the little recovery sections where you get a rest and only work at 60% of your threshold for small periods, gets shorter and shorter.

You really need a period of showing yourself you are getting better otherwise you would get disheartened. The best test for me is the road, however doing the 6 weekly FTP test with Steve shows how much you have really improved (if you have).

The test was a Tuesday and prior to this I had a steady weekend, eat good food and plenty of fuel in anticipation and kept my blood glucose levels steady.

Recently I have learned that if the session is normal speed (cadence) but a reasonable heavy load around the threshold I go down in glucose readings, but if there is an injection of pace in the session I go high. So it’s a real difficult one to get to grips with before setting off.

I have had a few power normal cadence session and a couple of occasions had a low and not been able to recover quickly enough, so I need to make sure I ask Steve what is coming up the session before, so I can fuel myself properly. This needs to start mid-afternoon and not 10 mins before the session.

The FTP test is more of a normal speed grind and over in 20 minutes. The difference is instead of the system setting the power the ride is based upon a gradient, so you decided what gear and how much power to put out. It has 5-minute interval where you push harder and harder. The first 5 mins is just below the threshold, next 5 mins is at threshold power, next 5 mins is above and the last 5 you go at it like a bat out of hell.

I was set and ready and my current FTP is 190 watts. I did my warm up as normal for 20 mins and started the 20-minute slog.

The first 5 minutes felt very solid and I noticed on the large flat screen I was holding my current threshold of 190 no problem, the next 5 I had already started to exceed my threshold. I was a little worried I had started to overcook it a little in the first 10 minutes. Steve tells and reminds you during the test not to go to hard as you will have nothing for the second half to push your average up over your current threshold. The final 10 minutes started, and it started to hurt but I tried to put this out of my mind by pushing and pushing slowly increasing my power. I got to the last five minutes on the count down and thought what the hell its only going to hurt once! As you can see from the graph I hit the last 5 mins hard and the final 2 minutes I peaked.


The last 10 seconds were hell but then the beeping countdown to the end keeps you pushing until you just collapse on the bike. I had to get off as I was shaking and took a seat for a couple of minutes until I continued with a 20-minute warm down back on Charlie.

Once that was over I had to wait for the computer to work out my result, suddenly, the screen said I was a hero. (Steve tried to get a photo as he had not seen that before, but he was too late) but then it announced I had increased my threshold by 10 watts, which is a decent achievement / improvement on 6 weeks works. This really confirms to me that the work Steve is doing with me is paying off and more and more I keep training and upping my threshold the more I am looking forward to carrying out this challenge and I truly can’t believe how I am changing during this progress in terms of strength and the fat has dropped off my legs it all just muscle, oh well that’s what I am sticking to.

Apparently, the weather is getting better but as I write this we have had yet another flurry of snow in Sheffield.

See a picture of Narnia from a friend.


Once it does it is time to start winding up the training and the amount, so my program will look something likes this.

Monday              –            Rest Day

Tuesday             –            Skyhook indoor training

Wednesday        –            30 mile recovery ride on road

Thursday            –            Skyhook indoor training

Friday                 –            Rest Day

Saturday             –            Decent road ride 50 miles +

Sunday               –            30 mile recover ride

What social life !!