Category Archives: Cycling

Fat Lads On Bikes

I’m always happy to use this little corner of cyberspace to publicise a good cause. If, like Neal and his friends (see below) you have a tale to tell, please feel free to contact me with your story. Contact info over there on the right. Over to you Neal!

IMG_0039“You never expect it to happen to you, do you? Normal lads, living normal lives, a traditional and typical ‘Boro’ family. Hearing the devastating news that someone you love dearly has the dreaded ‘C’, your life changes immediately. Sometimes the change is sadly for the worst but for some, thankfully, the better.

Two lives that have changed for the better are those of self-proclaimed ‘Fat Lads on Bikes‘, fundraisers Glenn Auckland and Neal Bullock, who are embarking on a massive health and fitness push before riding the 152-mile Coast-to-Coast route from Cumbria to Tyne & Wear in April 2015. Their focus will then turn from wheels to their feet as they prepare to take part in the Great North Run.

The ‘Fat Lads’ have chosen one of the less aggressive routes in terms of climbs, although it still remains a challenge. Starting in Walney Island on the Cumbrian coast, they will cycle to Kendal in the Lake District on day one; from Kendal to Barnard Castle in County Durham on day two; and finally from Barnard Castle to Sunderland on day three.

Glenn and Neal were spurred into action when Glenn’s mother and Neal’s aunt, Linda Auckland, was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time within three years. The normal lives of the Auckland family were temporarily shattered. Many agonising months of gruelling treatment followed and, at times, the prognosis did not look good. Linda was admitted to Ward 14, a specialist cancer care unit at James Cook University Hospital – a small, unknown section of what is now an ever-developing part of Middlesbrough, where the love and care in the hearts of the specialist team of nurses and consultants is immeasurable. The work that these amazing individuals undertake each day for not only the patients in their care but the families affected by this horrific disease must be recognised. Without them, Linda, along with many others, would not be here today.

Ward 14 is funded by the NHS and uses charitable funding to provide items and services for the patients over and above what the NHS provides. The ward provides free TV subscriptions and holistic therapy sessions and there are ambitions to offer so much more, such as hairdressing, manicures, a make-up service and free wifi. There are also big plans to build a conservatory at the side of the ward – BUT, THEY NEED HELP!

That’s where the Fat Lads on Bikes come in. Glenn and Neal joked that maybe they could do something – “Just two fat lads on bikes raising money for charity…” And so, the Fat Lads on Bikes were born. Since that day, it has become much more than just a bike ride to raise some money; it has become a major part of their lives. They have recruited close friend Paul Sykes and Glenn’s eldest son, Glenn, and will continue to grow – anyone who would like to join them in their fundraising mission is more than welcome to get involved. And you don’t have to be fat – big hearts and a passion for helping those in need are the essentials! If you feel that this may be you, get in touch – even if you support another local cause, the Fat Lads on Bikes will hopefully be able to offer some help.

As well as the Coast-to-Coast and Great North Run, a charity golf day, a bubble football tournament and other events have all been planned over the next 12 months; for more details please visit:

The Fat Lads had originally hoped to raise a £5,000 for the ward, but are now reviewing that figure as they have already reached £2,500 without cycling or running a single mile. The golf day is almost fully booked (extra spaces might need to be made available), and the bubble football tournament is receiving similar levels of interest from the public.”



Think of life like cycling in the dark


The first blog post by Sam (@205beast on Twitter). Not sure about number 4… I have still to venture into the world of wild camping.

Originally posted on onelongride:

I never imagined my first post wouldn’t be about my cycling adventures but rather about what I’ve learned from them so far…

In July 2014 I decided to take a break from my job in IT to pursue one thing that really made me happy, cycling.

Growing up I was one of those children who used to always go on a bike ride with their dad around the park on a Sunday morning but then growing up kinda got in the way; college, homework, relationships mad making a living distracted me from continuing it.  Inspired by my twin brother (the two of us are fiercely competitive) – who, after graduating from university had bought his first roadbike – feeling like I didn’t want to be left behind – I decided to spend my last bit of of cash on one too.  One accident that left me In hospital needing 42…

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Belgians Being Ironic

A French lesson? No, just Belgian cycling activists making a valid point with their tongues firmly in their cheeks. Listen carefully; there will be a comprehension test later!

Tour De France 2015 – In 3D

It’s that time of the year again when the route of the Tour de France is released and as per usual there is an accompanying video to reveal all. This year the video is a real cracker; it seems speeded up somewhat and the mountain stages are shown in much more detail. It’s certainly worth five minutes of your time. Tournez! (That’s French for ‘action!’ by the way…)

Book Review: Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie


Kevin Mayne, formerly of the CTC and now at the European Cyclists Federation has just posted a review for ‘Along The Med on a Bike Called Reggie’ on his own cycling website…

Originally posted on I Do Not Despair:

Along the Med on a Bike called ReggieI don’t get round to doing many book reviews from my cycling library but I feel Andy Sykes latest offering is well worth a few words, probably because I just like Andy’s attitude to cycle touring which is a triumph of curiosity and enthusiasm overcoming his self-declared naivety about the more mundane processes of cycling such as how to pump up a tyre!

As the blurb says this is his self-published account of his summer 9 week trip from the southern tip of Greece right across Europe to the Atlantic coast of Portugal, nearly 6000km and 10 countries. He loosely follows the route of Eurovelo 8, the Mediterranean Route but very much creates his own itinerary and diversions, not least to the legendary Mont Ventoux, cycling’s “Giant of Provence”.

It is a sequel to his 2010 trip “Riding across Europe on a Bike called Reggie” where we first met…

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What To Pack For A Cycling Holiday

By Victoria Sharpe

Comfort will make your cycling holiday all the more enjoyable – and to maintain it you’ll need the right clothing and kit. Here are some tips to help you make sure you’ve got what you need.

Taking Your Own Bike

The question of whether to take your own bike is a balance of cost and comfort. It will cost more to transport the bike, especially if you’re travelling by plane, but knowing that your bike perfectly fits you offers great comfort if you’re going to be undertaking long rides, or even spending full days in the saddle. It’s also worth remembering that if you decide to hire a bike it’s not going to be cost free by any means. It will probably be cheaper than transporting your own bike, and almost certainly easier – but if you’re spending a week or more in the saddle is it really worth sacrificing comfort?

Taking the Right Kit

It goes without saying that padded shorts are an absolute necessity. If you can, pay more for good quality ones – your body (and backside!) will thank you by the end of your trip. It’s a good idea to either take a couple of pairs or, if space is at a premium, one pair and some travel wash to rinse them out each evening. If you’re going in winter though don’t do this, as they won’t be dry by the next morning. Still on leg wear, pack some tights to go over your shorts (or tights with padded shorts built in to save space). Perhaps a less obvious point, but certainly an important one, is that if you know it’s going to be a trip with, shall we say, ‘ad hoc’ toilet breaks don’t choose bibbed tights, as you’ll have to strip off completely each time!

For the top half, it really depends what time of year you’re travelling – either long or short sleeved tops depending on the weather in whichever style and fabric you normally wear. Comfort is what you’re looking for primarily, and choosing familiar kit that you know you like will be better than a load of new kit that needs wearing in. Your cycle top should have a back that is long enough to cover your lower back so as to avoid wind chill and/or sunburn while cycling.  Many people choose cycling jerseys with useful pockets in the back to store water bottles, energy gels, keys and the like, so consider whether this is something you’re going to need.

If you do need to invest in a few key pieces, check out They have a great range of outdoor wear for all climates.

Dont Forget the Helmet!

If you’re going on a pre-organised cycling holiday, you’ll probably be provided with a helmet that will do the job if necessary – and will most likely be adjustable so there’s no issue with comfort. If you’re organising your own trip then make sure to take your own – it could save your life.

Two Alberti Of Vicenza

An interesting coincidence last night. On the left of the photo is Alberto, my weekday lodger who is originally from near Vicenza in northern Italy. On the right is Alberto ( you can see where this is going…), my latest visiting Warm Showers touring cyclist who is from Vicenza in northern Italy! Most of the chat was in Italian albeit with only modest contributions from me, my receptive skills being significantly better than my productive ones. I concentrated on the cooking instead! Cycling Alberto is on an autumn tour which started back in Italy before heading over the Alps in the direction of Paris. From the French capital he followed the route of the Avenue Verte linking Paris and London via Dieppe and Newhaven. After a few days in London – he was impressed with the cycling atmosphere – Alberto continued his journey along cycling route 4 in the direction of Reading (and seemed to encounter the same route finding issues as me when I cycled in the opposite direction in August at the start of my journey to Scotland) where I met him after work yesterday evening. Today, storm permitting, he will continue his journey to Oxford then to Cambridge before returning to London and a flight back to Italy. He is due back at work in Vicenza (where he works as a cycling mechanic in a bike shop) at the start of November. Should I refer to the two Albertos as the two Alberti?