Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Beating 'betes with bikes

I promised you more but you didn't expect it this quickly did you? Well it's a double blog day today (let's face it you weren't paying attention at work anyway). This is less of an update from me to you and more of me asking you to update me on your great achievements and adventures.

With the help of my good friends at Extreme endurance I'm starting a bit f a competition. We want to hear from you; if you're a diabetic and you've used endurance sports ( even the sleeveless ones) to turn around your control, the send in your story.

Not only are you in with a chance of wining some cool schwag from xe and team traveller, you'll also get to serve as an inspiration to others. I know what it's like to not have control and how it feels to take that power over your life back. It's bigger than any race you'll ever win. sometimes it's hard for other people to realise just how big of a victory it is. So now is your chance to claim your moment on the podium. This is going to be an ongoing contest with different prizes and featured athletes every month. That gives you the chance to be inspired and to inspire others.

Send your stories, and pictures to and get ready to claim your fifteen minutes of fame (or at least exposure to the very small fraction of the globe who read my blog!)

Can't wait to hear from you

-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes

Planning for positivity in 2012

Last Sunday i found myself sat outside a cafe in Miami Platja (not that Miama beach) with one of the guys from Geox (know how he feels) and a couple of local racers. Sipping our coffees, and laughing as the older guy's kids ran around trying to chew on a putty textured energy bar it felt good to be alive, to be in Catalonia and to be with such welcoming people.

The conversation quickly turned to next year, the Christmas lights are up now, the caganers are out and that means it's nearly time to buy a new calendar and start riding a different bike. We all quizzed each other about whether we'd tried various brands of pedals, what we thought of the wheels we'd be riding next year. The local guys laughed at us with our worrying aboutbeing given free bikes and gear. As they pointed out their sponsorship obligations extended to drinking the coffee that the cafe owner wouldn't charge us for.

For me next year is a bit different. i'll be riding with team traveller and bringing together a lot of my own sponsors and supporters. This is a bit different to team situations i've been in before. for one things i've spent months sending emails and there is more work to come. Cash sponsorship has been impossible to come by in this economy and that's going to make travelling and racing tough. I only want to work with companies i respect and who are aligned the same way I am. What's important to me is to keep spreading the message that diabetes doesn't have to be a limiter on your ambitions and that nobody, anywhere needs to loose limbs, eyes or loved ones for the want of test strips. I want to get out there and spread that message and i'm not going to partner with people who don't share that vision. By staying true to my ideals, I might not be banking the dollars but I firmly believe that putting Karma in the kitty pays back much better in the long run.

In 2012 i'm going to step up my diabetes advocacy, i' currently talking to a few people about the possibility of a not for profit foundation. I've seen too many diabetics suffering needlessly in the US and abroad and too any "charities" helping themselves to your donations. I want to use my racing and the friends and contacts i have both online and all over the world to make a real difference. As this project takes shape and grows, i'll keep you updated but if you want to help. get in touch, and expect donation links and news to be on here very soon.

I want to take this opportunity to speak about one of the sponsors i'm most excited about working with next year. You'll have noticed that when i post about nutrition, i'm not posting about my nutrition sponsor, or i wasn't last year. that was because i'm not really prepared to tell lies, especially in this area as it could impact someone's dietary decisions and bloodsugar control.

Well this year, given my own nutrition choices i'm going to be working with extreme endurance they make a range of really solid nutritional supplements, things I'd be using anyway, things I'm happy to put in my body. They didn't approach me for sponsorship i approached them. the chief reason why I approached them is their eponymous lactate buffer. Lactate is a big issue for me and indeed for everyone and I am really excited about this. if you're one of those pancreas functioning "normal" individuals you go above LT when you lack oxygen to burn the glucose in your blood. but the only variable here is oxygen. for me the glucose moves as well, so if glucose goes up, the level at which i lactate goes down. and i am bathed in the burn at 200w. we all make lactate and it's one of the determingin factors in recovery, the quicker you can get it out, the quicker you can get back to training, and get stronger. endurance sport is about recovering faster. be that about recovering from a Saturday ride to play with your kids on a Sunday or recovering from a 200k stage for a time trial the next day.

This means that clearing lactate is huge for me. You can look on the link above to see how extreme endurance works. What i can tell you is that it does. What i can also tell you is that they are 100% my goals. to this end they've agreed to hook up my readers with a discount and make a donation to helping diabetics around the world. I think that's pretty cool. you have two chances to get faster; one you'll be buffering more lactate and two you'll be floating on a cushion of good vibes knowing that every time you make a purchase, someone, somewhere gets to test once more that day. i've got some more products and sponsors who are also part of the scheme to share with you in the coming weeks, so hold off that Christmas shopping!
-yep typed it with my thumbs: they're what makes us better than apes

Location:Carrer Sant Roc,Vilabella,Spain

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

food glorious food

It probably has not escaped your attention that Allen Lim has published a new cook book, with about as much launch hype as a Lady Gaga album, and suspiciously apt timing given that we're approaching the "gifting season" (also known as credit card debt month and coinciding with children pressuring parents into buying crap they dont need and will never use in December) you'd be hard pressed to miss it.

Anyway i've decided to launch my own antidote to such blatant commerical high jinks; the Catalan cooking corner here on - i'm pretty sure i've got lim licked. I have taken the offseason as a time to sample new foods and not worry too much about macronutrients etc. just keeping my weight under control and my blood glucose nicely in the zone. One of the cool things about racing is all the travel and the great local foods you get to try.

My friend Emily came to stay recently and was impressed with my predilection for Octopus, squid and other cephladops. there's somethign about the little legs that i really like!

Anyway in an attempt to share with you some of my adventures in real food cooking and my longstanding aversion to any food which comes in a rectangular package it hought i would give you a little run through of last night's dinner:

Pies de porc amb mongetes
righto; i'll try to avoid sounding like jamie oliver as much as i can here. First thing you do is soak your beans (sounds euphemistic eh?) for 10 hours or so. I used the big white ones, but you can pretty much freestyle your legume selection.

10 hours later, you've ridden, stretched and had a thouroughly fulfilling day now you're ready for a thouroughly filling meal. So you take your big pot and put in a few glugs of olive oil. 2 choppe dup carrots, an onion and a red pepper. and a lot of garlic. and you cook that on a low flame until it looks suitably brown. then, you break out the big guns; 2 pork feet. in perhaps the oddest cooking experience of my life i made sure to give these little fellas a good shaving before they went in the pot (and yes, that was the last time I used said razor blade). once youve cooked those a little bit add your beans back in (drained obviously) 1 litre of stock, 3 bay leaves and a big branch of rosemary and let it cook for 2ish hours.

once you're done you have a surprisingly yummy concoction. I really like long cooked onions and carrots for some reason (i think its a childhood thing, all those warm stews on cold days). the pigs feet give everything a really nice gelatinous quality and are quite tasty if you like the texture they have. Theyre also damn cheap! you might want to skim off the fat before chowing down as well. Then crack open a good beer and youre away!

seriously though, if we have the temerity to kill another sentient being for food, the very least we can do is appreciate, sit down and enjoy it and make damn sure to use all of it. It's neither good karma nor good recession bustin' frugal practice to let this stuff go to waste. so go out there and make yourself some hearty peasant food (tis the season after all) - i bet if you ate liek this for a month you'd save up enough to buy a Hardback feedzone cookbook Link

Saturday, 12 November 2011

this time last year

about a year ago, i sent this email. a lot has changed since then...
hey ****, I did an athlete day here in the Bronx, New york today, i just wanted to say how much all this stuff means to me. Today was pretty tough, i saw lots of people missing legs, arms and eyesight but they all really look up to us and that's cool.
i don't know what the procedure is but it would be really cool to get some kiddie kits out here for the younger kids, i spent a couple of hours with one girl today just persuading her to take her insulin again. i gave them some of my tt1 stuff but it would be cool to have something to give them if i come back. I said i'd give them a jersey if they could get better a1c scores (like single figure a1c scores) - is there anything we can do? i even had a little 5 yr old kid ask how he could join the team!
anyway i just wanted to say thanks, today was pretty special

This stuff meant an awul lot to me, and there ar elots more emails like this. I've got nothing to hide an nothing to prove but i was looking for an email address and i came across this in my old emails. It makes me sad not to be able to go and visit those kids again. for one thing i have a few more spare kits for them now!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

chesnuts and change

This is a funny time of year to be a bike rider; the season has been long and hard and you'v got time to recover. But at the same time the last race was already a month ago, and you haven't ridden much since. Your mind goes back to the parts of this season which you'd like to improve upon and part of you wants to get out and train harder than ever. you feel tired from not riding, your body isn't used to the lack of endorphins and you stop feeling hungry. The evenings close in and the trees change colour.

I like the connection to the seasons that being a bike rider gives me, i feel that's doubly true living where i do. as the nights draw in the children man the street corners, hunkered over old oil barrels roasting chesnuts which they wrap in the days' newspaper and sell,along with a tot of moscatell to keep the cold out. The time for sipping cava in the sunshine and eating salad because you daren't turn on the cooker is gone, anellets of almond- meal and sugar are the pastry of choice for all saints day and coffee isn't served with a glass with ice any more. The vineyards have changed too, in april they were verdant, bright green and luscious, through the hot summer they became yellow, barely hanging ontot the dusty mountainsides, now they're all shades of red and orange. getting old and loosing their hair, in a month they'll be bare.

There are fewer tourists here now, taking my paseo after dinner i noticed fewer crowds. the streets have been returned to the local people. there's a knowing familiarity in the way people nod to each other. the market still bustles, but in the dark at 6pm it has a different aura, the stalls like little beacons, each with a crowd. there's less shouting and nobody's trying to sell you a photograph of a paella and a menu in english anymore.

training changes with the seasons as well, like nature intended we eat a little more, sleep a little more and move a little less. i don't need my mixes and gels at this time of year. i head out with a jacket and a scarf, a pocket full of roscos and leave the SRM at home. i like passing the families out gathering mushrooms, stopping to pilfer the last of the oranges which never quite got ripe enough to pick or the apples which have sprung up outside of the orchard. When i get back the recovery dirnk isn't a priority any more it's about a warm shower, a cup of tea or hot chocolate and then a hearty meal.

i do miss the sunshine, and i find it hard to summon up the enthusiasm to train in the rain, but perhaps thats not a bad thing. i'm trying to listen to my body, and to nature. it's been around for a while and it's had soe time to work things out. also it's responsible for producing roasted chesnuts which are downright spectacular.

some culture in Catalonia

with it being ealry November and me having a fairly crippling spinal injury (not to make light of those with really crippling spinal injuries, thats like calling a cold cancer) I've not been doing much bicycling recently. After a bit of time in the UK after Tobago i'm now back to Catalonia. my favourite place in the world. I always miss it when i'm gone and nothing feels as good as driving through those big roman pillars and leaving France (even though technically i'm already in Catalonia before then).

With the dirth of lycra time i've been getting in some other activities. to keep myself from turning into a ten ton monster i've been indulging my tight clothing fetish in the water. As i mentioned in a previous post swimming is straight up boring but i have discovered that this only applies to pool swimming. you see pool swimming is to sea swimming as turbo trianer is to cyclocross. once i found this out I embrocated up (yes i really did) and nipped out into the sea. I think the fact i decided to sport compression tights for warmth may have caused a few odd looks (along with the inevitable omnipod stares) but i've never been one to let that bother me and swimming in the sea was fun, just one caveat. when you're really tired, the waves DO NOT carry you in, so you get the interesting additio of a "life or death" interval as your final effort - perhaps unwise given my past history of unfortunate mishaps.

Fortunatley I was joined for a week by my friend, super soigneur (and as i turns out talented speed-reader) Emily Baker . i like having people to show around my little town and especially when i havent got much else to do i enjoy seeing the sights and visiting all the cultural installations that Tarragona has to offer. A trip to the roman ruins was particulairly fun, i posted abotu a million pictures (like a real british holidaymaker) on google + for anyone interested.

We also took the chance to go and watch a local castellers competition (which we missed by a slight margin of 8 hours, arse, but fortunatley we watched a live video on the local tv station). This is another of those peculiar catalan traditions which looks bizzare to anyone who doesn't "get it" i mean grown men forming a huge human tower, which a small child then climbs up. It's not safe and it doesn't really achieve anything - but then neither does bicycle racing. It's a tremendous feat of organisation and strength and isn't without its dangers (someone died in 2006).

I've also been back to uni, studying for a term at the Universitat Ramon Lull in Barcelona and reading ridiculous amounts about Catalan Sport in the 1930s. While in Barcelona i always take the opportunity to pick up some beer, i'm thinking of posting a beer review blog soon. Although i'm pretty sure you can't get any of them outside of catalonia.

other than that i've been pounding the keyboard trying to sort out sponsors for next year, which isn't proving easy. the economy really seems to have hit rock bottom in the us and purse strings are being tightened. The prospect of being without equipment sponsors next ear is pretty worrying but i'll keep trying, i want to work with companies ia m proud to be associated withand i feel that in the long run that approach will pay dividends.

so ciao for now, i'm off to drink more beer and do more begging!