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Silent but far from idle – A Happy New Year and New Me :0)

Hello my friends, once again you have had an absence of posting from me. I did warn, when I resumed this blog, that posting may be erratic, as real life might get in the way (well that, or sheer inertia….)

I am happy to report however, that on this occasion, it has not been due to falling of the wagon, in my efforts to become healthier. in fact nothing could be further than the truth :

Cycling has continued most Sundays, with the lovely ladies of Penge. We are so hardcore now, we even abandoned our beloved tea and cake stops to get the miles in before dark in the winter months :.  We are looking at across the year challenges and I have set a personal challenge or riding my first 100 Kilometre ride this year.

I have continued to use weight watchers as a tool to help me achieve permanent weight loss, and now help out in class, with new members. At the last session before Christmas, I was thrilled to reach my goal weight loss of 50.5 pounds. We were having a “Little Black Dress” event, to mark the end of a weight loss challenge and have a bit of fun before Christmas. I say this to reassure any potential WW members, that my outfit in the photos below, is not typical for a weigh in :0) As the last time I wore that dress, was about twenty years ago however, the smile is VERY genuine!

Me with my lovely leader, Chris, who is holding my original "weigh in" dress (size 20)

Me with my lovely leader, Chris, who is holding my original “weigh in” dress (size 20)

I feel so good about myself, and although I have indulged over the festive season, I am champing at the bit , to get back on my bike and eating fresh, clean foods again – its easy to say “Oh Christmas is just one day” I said it myself at class. But unfortunately the folk you entertain or visit over the break dont always know that and the oh so tempting junk food is everywhere – and even the not junk but oh so tasty good stuff is in waay larger portions than usual ;0) My next stage of weight watching is learning to maintain my loss and learn not to give in to such indulgences with such readiness as in the past!

Any way I wanted to post an update before 2012 is over. And to say thank you to those who read my blog. Not everyone posts  a comment – it would be lovely if you did though! But the stats tell me a lot of people do read this, from as far away as Nepal, South Africa and Oz, as well as more familiar local readers. A happy and healthy new year to you all. xx

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Its Official!

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Superstars

This past week I have been a part of some amazing things, and met some incredible superstars. Last Thursday I relived my late adolescence by seeing Ultravox  at the Hammersmith Apollo. This was a ban that I idolised in my youth, but as London was a big, bad scary place and I was still dependant on bank of mum and Dad, going to a Gig was never an option in those days. The show was phenomenal, Midge, Chris Warren and Billy might have got thicker waistlines and grey hair (if any), but they performed as if they were 25 years younger, with no support act and true dedication to the music, even when some deranged woman grabs Midge and chuck a trifle in his face (serious lack of security, this could have been a John Lennon moment)

Atmospheric as ever – Ultravox at the Hammersmith Apollo 27/09/2012

The following day, still aching from three hours of dancing the night night before, I helped my 11 years old daughter meet one of her superstars, Jessi J, when she appeared at Bluewater Shopping Centre to sign her new autobiography. We queued for over two hours, I had forgotten my purse so could not even get a coffee to help me keep going (although a kindly soul in the queue bought me one – she had probably had enough of my grumbling! Thank you Stacey of Essex!) By the time we got to meet, Ms. J, I was tired,grumpy and irritated by all the hype and over zealous security. Then a beautiful young woman looked up from her desk and apologised for keeping us waiting – She added that she was sorry she could only see everyone quickly and hoped we enjoyed the book. And then security hustled us on. Daughter was dumbstruck, then immediately berated herself for not saying something back. I was able to reassure her that I had mumbled “erm,thanks” but was more impressed that all the hype surrounding this young lady, her so called “super stardom” had not seemed to go to her head, and that her parents had brought her up to be polite – well done Jessie J :0)

Jessie J – A polite young superstar amongst the security!

However I met my real Superstars on Sunday. The culmination of my recent cycle training, The Cycletta 40K at Plumpton Racecourse, near Brighton, Sussex. The first superstars were our friends who helped with sorting out our bikes (Winnie from SE20 cycles) and transporting them down (Johnathan Burns). The family who have put up with our complete cycling obsession this last few months (Husband who has forgone wedding anniversary celebrations as this was the same day as Cycletta). Then for those team members that volunteered cars and drove the rest of us to the event, for Helen, who despite being unable to make the trip herself, still got up at silly o clock to see us on our way and wish us well.

The day was cold and damp, so teeth were chattering as we got our bikes and ourselves labelled up with race numbers. At this point we all became Superstars, we we helped each other with safety pins, home made energy bars (the Amazing Raisin bar was very popular!) and words of encouragement to get us to the start line.

Getting ready to ride

And then we were off, our first ever cycle event – a race? not officially, but of course we raced against our own self belief – could we complete the course? Would we complete it in a time that we were happy about (i.e. not last?!) The superstar Marshalls made sure we went the right way and cheered us on as our energy flagged. Seeing a Penge Cycle Club shirt ahead spurred me on to catch up and see who it was. When we met each other at feed stations or tiring hills, words of encouragement were exchanged and we often rode together for a while.

Some team humour at the 2nd feed station – we needed some with 14k still to go!

Races end and the joy of finishing came with the delights of a “pamper zone” where superstar sports masseurs offered 10 minutes of blissful kneading to sore joints -ahhhhh!

One by one we finished the course, found each other and talked in happy wonderment about our achievement. 14 weeks ago we had our first ride together, school holidays in between, we had managed no rides as a whole team. When I had seen the article on Cycletta and suggested that we enter, 40K seemed an amazingly long way. Just a short time after the finish, whilst we were still aching from the ride, we were talking about 80K next year – WE ARE SUPERSTARS!!!!! :0)

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Getting serious

Sorry dear readers, The holiday vibe kept going a little longer than I had intended so all those profound things I meant to say in the blog didnt get written due to general lack of erm, getting stuff done – ok I admit, I am a bit of a lazy mare sometimes, plus easily distracted by clicky links and reading other peoples blogs that always seem more exciting than mine!

Lack of posting has not meant lack of cycling I am pleased to say. I DID manage to get riding whilst in Gran Canaria. A very heavy beach cruiser type affair from the local hire shop. But at 7 euros for 24 hours it was good enough. A leisurely pootle around the hills and coves of the Melonoras region was a suitable way to spend an unusal for that time of year, overcast day – temperature were still 27 degrees celsius so still enough to warrent a stop for something cooling.

Back home and I realised that I needed to get some miles under the belt if I was going to complete the Cycletta 40K event that I had sighned up for at the end of this month. I have been out several times now, including a night-time tour of london last night! Starting that ride off with the hated Crystal Palace climb was a bit of a shock to the system, but I am pleased to say I didn’t get off – I did however have that awful moment when you go to switch down to a lower gear to ease the pain, only to find you are in first anyway!!!

To help the serious nature of the training, I am now using the Strava app, which I know is popular with alot of cyclists and runners. Once I have worked out how, I will post the stats on the blog.

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The holiday blog post

I would love to think that my lack of posting would suggest that I am away, but my history means you had probably all figured I had fallen of the healthy lifestyle/cycling wagon AGAIN! Well dear readers this time nothing could be further than the truth :-). For the last ten days I have been at our timeshare in sunny gran canaria. I have visited this resort every August for the last five years, and although my personal preference would be for something a bit more varied in both activity and climate, it makes for an easy,relaxing and best of all in these recession hit times, inexpensive holiday. In previous years, this break has been an excuse to do very little (in the name of relaxation naturally) and eat/drink quite a lot (on the basis that I am on holiday). The result would always be that I ended each trip feeling bloated and resolving that next year I would be slim and healthy looking, just like the beautiful Spanish women I envied sunbathing around the pool. Of course the truth is there were as many unhealthy,overweight people of every nationality around that pool as healthy, correct weight ones, but when you are unhappy with yourself you don’t see that, just as when you want a baby,all you see are pregnant women. Fourteen months ago, I began to make the changes I needed to by joining Weightwatchers. By this time last year, I came away on holiday having lost my first stone (that’s 14lbs to my American friends) that made me feel a million dollars and is reflected in the happy,smiling photos from last year. So this year I had expected to have achieved my goal well before our break,but life threw a few curve balls in the way and it was slow going. A week before we were due to go and my personal goal of three stone (42 pounds) was yet to be achieved. I was angry with myself and found it hard to see how much I had already achieved, despite encouraging words from my meeting friends and class leader. To make things worse, a cursory
Check of my weigh in card showed that I had four not three pounds still to lose in just seven days. Not many to some, but I am a half to one pound a week sort of loser, big losses only happen once in a while for me, big gains are my speciality!
Well for the first time in ages I decided to take this weight watchers stuff very seriously. I had watched our team GB cyclists win some amazing medals using what their coach called a micro management approach and de iced to take the same approach to my week ahead. Everything item that passed my lips was tracked, every chance to be active was taken and having arranged with my lovely class leader, Chris to weigh in early on Monday in order to catch my flight, I went in with fingers crossed.
AND I DID IT!!!!  Four pounds in one week, three stone, or forty two pounds in 14 months. I feel great, dare I say it, I look a lot better and its made the start to this holiday,the break I have looked forward to all year, a real high.

To keep things going I have power walked across sand dunes and swum lengths of the pool every morning. I will have fun as I am on holiday but that old weight watchers phrase of Nothing tastes as good as being slimmer feels is keeping me on track :-)

Missing cycling but I have yet to find something between the low mileage pootle around the city tours or road racing up mountai n’s on offer here so far – if anyone knows of anything in gran can aria I would love to hear from you – before the weekend please:-)

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The Amazing Raisin Bar!

This is a long overdue post and apologies to my friends who I promised this recipe to for so long now – below is a recipe for something called Breakfast Raisin Bars. I would love to say I invented it, but in fact I got it from a UK weight-watcher meeting way back in the 1990’s yep, I have been on the weight loss wagon that long!

I am amazed that this recipe has never been reproduced in their current cookbooks, indeed i am not sure if it was ever IN  a cookbook. I think it was either a meeting special or in a magazine. If anyone knows any different I would love to hear from you!

Anyway, the recipe is great for a low fat cycling snack as well, hence I thought it would make a good addition to my blog. Its easy to make, can be frozen (wrap individually in foil) makes 10 good sized portions and is perfect with a cup of your favourite brew :0) If pressed for time you can even eat frozen but it does thaw in only an hour so great for taking on a ride or breakfast grabbed for eating at work. Weight Watchers pro points are 6 per Bar.

Ingredients

45g Low fat spread – e.g. Clover Lighter
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
1 medium egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
180g porridge oats
120g skimmed milk powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
284ml  skimmed milk
240g raisins ( can swap for other dried fruits of same propoints value if preferred)

!. Turn oven on to 180°C/350°F/Gas  Mark 4.

2. Grease a 9”x7” (23 x 17 cm) or 8” (20 cm) square baking tin  with a little of the margarine. Alternatively, line with baking parchment or silicone liner.

3. Cream the margarine and sugar together – add the egg and  vanilla essence.

4. Mix together the oats, milk powder and baking powder.  Add to creamed mixture followed by the milk  and raisins.

5. Pour into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden  brown. Mine sometimes take longer, up to 40 mins but that might be my oven!

6. Leave to cool in tray for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

7.Cut into 10 pieces. If freezing, wrap individually and freeze immediately.

8. Can also be cut into 20 pieces as “light bites” for 3 proponts value each :0)

Breakfast Raisin Bars – Perfect Cycling snack!

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Come rain or shine

Drying off from the rain at the very aptly named “Cake” tea shop.

Well the good old British weather is ensuring that the tourists over for the Olympics are getting their full share of  our “four seasons in one day” special :-)  We started with gorgeous sunshine, perfect for the Beach Volleyball  and no sooner had we settled into thinking summer had at last arrived, when the heavens opened in time for the womans road race on Sunday. Having endured crashing disappointment  with the failure of Mark Cavendish and the rest of our usually wonderful team GB to get any medal on a perfect Weather Saturday,  the hailstones and on off heavy rain which plagued Sunday,left me somewhat nervous and doubtful that our woman team could pull it off.

So nervous in fact that I decided not to stay in,  as I had the previous day, to watch the race, but instead to go out with the Penge Ladies for a longer, more challenging ride to Downe,  a distance of around 16.5 miles with more than a few hill bits.

Suffice to say the weather put alot of people off and our group was but four strong. As we set out the rain clouds gathered and it wasn’t long before we were getting a serious soaking. After ten miles, one of our group,  a new member wisely turned back. A good decision for her as the serious hills were ahead. I do not think as a first ride I would have got as far as she did to be honest.

As we continued, we were accompanied by thunder, lightening and bone numbingly  cold,heavy rain, pelting down and slowing every movement of my pedals. At the next junction we looked at each other,  all soaking through, and Helen uttered the words which lifted spirits immediately. “Its a bit of a climb, but we are only about a mile and a half from Cake”

She was right about the climb, being the only rider without a racing  bike I was left trailing in heavy rain as we climbed a rather formidable hill bit of dark country lane, the sort you really don’t want to meet a four by four on, especially with only one working bike light ( recommendations  for good inexpensive lights welcome)  By the time we arrived at the said Cake tea rooms, I had also realised that in addition to needing a road bike and better lights, My beloved Lidl waterproof  jacket, which had,  for the princely  sum of £12.99 four years ago, had finally had its day and, as I peeled it off my dripping frame, much to the amusement of the other tea shop guests.

Ah well, we had a good ride out and I have some shopping to do!!

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It’s not Bejing.

Whats going on inside here?!

Yesterday, the unfit Biker Chick had a full on dose of the London 2012 Olympic preparations. Despite living in a London Borough (and as such paying part of my council taxes towards the event) and putting myself forward as a volunteer for the event, I have failed to get tickets to the events that I wanted (i.e. CYCLING!) and have not been selected as a volunteer, or “gamesmaker” as the folks at 2012 HQ like to call them – well officially I am still “pending” but lets face it, with 4 days until the start, I am not holding my breath. Not being selected has sucked big time, and I have alot to say about the weird selection process but that’s not for today. But that and not being able to get ANY tickets for events that I wanted , especially when it appeared that getting them from ticket agencies abroad has meant other people have got every ticket ,first time around, has, to be honest, left me a bit “bah humbug” about the whole Olympian saga that is unfolding here in the UK. News stories about security cock ups and troops having to cover shortfalls do nothing to help lift my mood either.

That is until yesterday. The morning saw the Olympic Torch Relay go right past the top of my road. As regular readers to my blog will know, I care for children and so this event could not go unnoticed. We took our flags, big and small, and stood by the side of the road. We saw Police outriders, the large sponsorship lorries with music and dancers, and then the torch itself. We walked into our local town where the church had free ice cream for the kids, and shops had face painters.There was even a town crier for god sake! It was soo darn British!, Security was present, but police high fiving you as they road past  was in stark contrast to the wall of “minders” I remember seeing at the run up to Beijing.

Spending the morning seeing how well organised and happy the Olympic relay was, with small kids cheering on the torch and waving the union flag non stop has a very uplifting effect on ones patriotic feelings!

This was just as well as one thing the gamemaker application process did provide me with was a compensatory ticket for last nights Olympic Opening Ceremony rehearsal. Having taken a half day off work, I made my way to Stratford, East London, to queue through security, pay over the odds at concessions and take my seat in the Olympic Stadium.

And there, dear readers, is pretty much where I must stop. Danny Boyle (yes, he of Trainspotting and slumdog millionaire fame, more of him here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Boyle ) asked me and 60,000 other guests to enjoy the show, but to keep what we saw to ourselves, so the world gets the surprise on Friday Night. Having had the privilege of being given a sneak preview, I feel duty bound to abide by this request, due to the sheer effort that so many people put into making an amazing spectacle. I will say It’s not Bejing, its very British and hopefully the world will have as much fun as we did and feel like me today, ready to enjoy a great London 2012 Olympics :0)

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