Archive for the ‘biking’ Category

Inexplicable Weight Loss   Leave a comment



In 1976, I was 14 years old and, at the peak of my adolescent growth spurt, weighed in at 155 pounds. In January 2011, after gorging for days on rich seafood washed down with copious volumes of beer, wine and booze in Cornwall for our 25th anniversary a few days before the near fatal wreck, I weighed in at 155 pounds. For all but a few months (in the late 70’s when I actively tried to bulk up using the gym and ‘supplements’) in the interim 35 years I weighed between 154 and 156 pounds every time I stepped on a scale; at various times I might have been in fairly good condition, at others all my muscle was replaced by fat, and many times I was a mix of both wiry and bloated from excess consumption of drugs and alcohol but I was always 155 pounds…you could calibrate your scales by it.

Similar to my finishing photos in the 2012 London Marathon (click photo for link)

Similar to my finishing photos in the 2012 London Marathon (click photo for link)

For a couple of years after recovering from the collapsed lung, the broken neck, all the soft tissue damage, (etc, etc), I fluctuated between 165 and 175 (with a peak at 180) pounds despite maintaining a fairly consistent running regimen since the thoracic surgeon green-lit it and despite having far fewer pubs to tempt me in. The extra weight has meant carrying a handicap in races (I was 175 pounds at the start of the 2012 London Marathon, and I was carrying a backpack laden with beer and other treats) but it hasn’t had any detrimental effects on my performance or other health metrics so I haven’t worried about it too much. I’ve been fit enough for my purposes and have been happily stable at 12 stone (168 pounds) for roughly a year.  Besides, since I don’t get naked in public very often anymore there’s no reason to worry about the offence that horrifying sight might cause.

running shoe rota

Eight weeks ago, I changed my training regimen to durations of activity instead of distances or circuits and something weird began to happen…my weight began to fall back down toward 11 stone again. Diet, which has not changed in years, is still a questionable imbalance of remarkably healthy treats and carcinogenic and heart disease risk factors often ingested at the same sitting and almost always in inadvisably gormand-like quantities; and, I still think of ‘units of alcohol’ in terms of bottles of wine or tumblers of whisky.

When I say I was prescribing distances I don’t mean I was fundamentalist about it. Every other week I would do 18-22 miles on the long run with one 10 miler and two or three at 4-6 miles; the intervening weeks would involve three or four at 4-6 miles and one around 12-14. The gym was fit in once or twice a week (especially in rainy weather when the roadwork was often done on the treadmill).

I decided to modify my approach when I noted that my pace on the runs was consistently 7½ to 8½ minutes per mile and that I spent an inordinate measure of time planning routes for specific distances. It all seemed oppressive and a despair-inducing waste of time so I decided that I should try spending the 6-8 hours per week I was already doing on ANYTHING reasonably considered ‘exercise’ with a goal of an hour per day, two hours at least one day a week, and a day off if I just feel lazy. Stretching counts as long as it hurts or has a noticeable effect on flexibility. Running, time on gym circuits, cycling and rowing all count and one-third the time spent on vigorous hiking is allowed (fighting uphill through thorns happens frequently enough in my world, and not just metaphorically). Breaking a sweat at work does NOT count, nor do any of the household chores that come along.

duration  mileage




After noticing the weight drop I found very little change in my total mileage although the long runs have fallen off to 15-16 miles nowadays (my weekly totals are still 30-40 miles). My pace still averages about 8 minutes per mile but varies a lot more with anything from 6½ to 9½ being sustained for up to a third of any given run. The extra time left over from the shorter ‘long’ runs goes mostly into more — and more focused — stretching and weight training but little has changed significantly.

It really is much more a semantic change than anything concrete, but I have realised some fantastic benefits nonetheless. Besides the tonnage, my physical efforts take quite a bit less psychological effort to overcome inertia. Running and other exertion was almost always pleasant once started, but now I feel eager to get out there…the way it always used to be: it has become playtime, again.

Don’t worry, kids. I’m still morose and misanthropic on the outside, where it counts. [Note: it might be time to go streaking on the Ridgeway once the stinging nettles die back a bit.]

At my peak weight last Christmas...for the ladies!

At my peak weight last Xmas…for the ladies! (This was my e-Xmas card for the lucky few)

Posted 2013/09/09 by Drunken Bunny in biking, booze, commentary, food, hiking, running

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The Duke of Wellington, Brandon, Suffolk   3 comments

duke of wellington brandon signAfter a day of bike riding in the Thetford Forest (well, a few hours riding, and about an hour pushing my bike back with its flattened front tire), we felt we deserved a drink before driving home.  I was looking for the Flintknappers but spotted the Duke of Wellington and a public car park nearby so we went there and were not dissappointed.  Well, except for the selection of ales: Greene King standards, so I had a lovely Abbott and got Jackie her large V&T and we headed out to the garden.

duke of wellington brandon garden

The garden was huge and bounded on one side by a barn/warehouse constructed of flint.  The flint industry is pretty much what built this area, originally, dating back to prehistoric times and this pearly-but-black stone is in everything around here lending a shimmering, translucent feel to much of the architecture.  Out in the middle of our ride we found a mausoleum built for the former owners of the estate, the Bliss family, and this structure, too, was flint.

bliss mausolium small
The pub was busy but we were tired and pretty well kept to ourselves.  It is just as well, probably, as Brandon is in the shadow of Lakenheath RAF Base and the locals are probably sick to death of americans.  The folks at the bar were friendly enough, though and the bar, the front porch, and eventually even the garden were packed with souls doing their best to quench their thirsts.

duke of wellington brandon

Posted 2009/06/22 by Drunken Bunny in biking, pubs, tourism

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New bike, ride Cambridge/Waterbeach/Cottenham/Wilburton/Stretham   3 comments

Finally bought a bike, a dutch bike but I still haven’t had a chance to go to Holland to do it (been very busy).  Instead, I went to the Bike Man on Abbey Walk near Newmarket Road, this repair shop piled with police-recovered bicycles.  They repair these and give you a good price and a 6 month warranty and will buy them back less depreciation (so if you are on a short stay, it makes a cheap rental).

On the way, I got lost in a neighbourhood nearby and spotted this cool old bakery:


My bike is a Gazelle, built in 1968 or 1969.  I pieced that together based on the drum brake on the front and the 3-speed hub that was of a design they only produced those two years.  Word is that this fantastic design was also fantastically expensive to produce and that the dutch, while appreciating fine workmanship, also appreciate cost-to-return analysis and that there just wasn’t enough improvement to justify the extra guilders.  I’m thrilled to find it.


Front drum brake

Front drum brake

40 year old 3 speed hub

40 year old 3 speed hub


From the Bike Man, I rode out to the west side of the River Cam and worked my way north.  Along the way I found two WWII bunkers protecting who-knows-what…there are no utilities crossing the river there, and the only nearby structure I saw was a river lock upstream a ways.  Maybe it is just a frontline to Cambridge or watching over the rail lines there. Dunno.


The trail becomes more suited to foot traffic, and barely even that, at the Bridge Pub. I stopped in for a pint (of course) after photographing the milieu. More on the pub, later.


The ride into Waterbeach rail station was short but it was getting nippy and pretty windy.  I pressed on through Landbeach then out Cottenham Road to, surprise, Cottenham.  This was toil with the wind kicking up to 35 mph (55 kph) but my trusty Gazelle made the ride fun.  Lots of debris on the road…beer cans and McDonalds wrappers and shit.

Thought I was lost in Cottenham and stopped at the WWI memorial to consult my map, an Ordnance Survey that covered a range that started a few miles north of where I was standing so it was useless to me.  Fortunately, there was a pub (The Chequers) right there and I could hear Pink Floyd blaring out of it, “Wish You Were Hear;” a good omen.  More on The Chequers experience shortly, but they directed me to Wilburton and home.


Light drizzle had started before I was out of Cottenham, passing the church with the vaguely eastern/onion dome ramparts.  Nicer weather and I’ll do this trip again.


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