Tag Archives: nutrition

10 things that I learnt from riding my bike early morning every day for 40 days

This year for Lent I gave up 90 minutes of time spent in bed and got up at 5am every day (even at the weekend). Instead of wasting this time, I used it constructively by heading out of the house and getting in some riding time, on my Brompton, of course.
So what did I learn from my 40 consecutive days of cycling?

1st – It confirmed that I still love the sport, hobby, activity as much as I did when I took it up all those years ago.

Riding my bike
Looking pretty stylish on my bike in 1976

2nd – Early morning is where it is at for me. I love the tranquillity and the pre-dawn chill, and the treat of seeing the sky brighten in the east as dawn approached. #bestpartoftheday

The pre-dawn glow in the East.

3rd – Knowing that I was getting up at 5am, my evening routine was more focused and structured. No messing, faffing, watching pointless TV, surfing the net. Post supper chores were a breeze.

4th – Preparation is everything. Each evening, before going to bed, I’d prepare everything for the next morning so that I could get up, get dressed and get out without disturbing the rest of the family.

5th – The early start meant that there was minimum disruption to family life. I replaced my morning tea making duties with a Teas Maid (one of those machines that makes your partner’s tea and were very popular in the 1970s. They are still available today). I was usually back for the normal morning routine before I was even missed.

6th – Riding early meant that some days I even got to ride twice, which in my book is an added bonus.

Ride number two of the day. Out with the big wheels.

7th – Once I got into work, I felt good that I had already run some oxygen through the lungs. I love my exercise and sometimes get a bit grumpy if events take over and prevent me from doing some. Exercising early in the morning meant that this could never happen and it was always within my control.

8th – Good nutrition helps massively to ensure that the body recovers and adapts to what you throw at it.

Banana powered.

9th – Ride a bike that it low maintenance and makes you smile – that’s why I ride my Brompton.

Low maintenance and lots of fun – the Brompton really can do it all.

10th – Just do it. I used to check the forecast and find the nicest part of the day to ride. Not anymore. 5.15 was departure time, whatever the weather. No procrastinating, no waiting for the rain to ease, the wind to drop, the rush hour to finish. Taking the procrastination option out of the equation make it so easy. I’m sure that I can learn more from that point alone.

The Rapha Festive 500 on my Brompton S6L-X

The Brompton Lift to celebrate completion of the Rapha Festive 500, 2015 Edition
The Brompton Lift to celebrate completion of the Rapha Festive 500, 2015 Edition

Since 2010, the Rapha Festive 500 has challenged cyclists to ride a total of 500km on the eight days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This year, I decided to complete the challenge on my Brompton.    This is my journey……

So I am fortunate enough to have a very smart white Brompton S6L-X.  For those of you who don’t understand the S6L-X bit, the S represents the type of handlebars (there are other types available, known as M, P and H types), the 6 represents the number of gears (1, 2, 3 and 6 speed are all options), the L represents that I have mudguards (E is without mudguards and R is with mudguards and rack).  Finally, the X means that I have the extralight version with a  titanium rear triangle and forks.  If you want to have some fun building up your own dream Brompton, their  Build A Brompton tool on the website is very cool.  I added some Schwalbe Marathon tyres for maximum puncture protection, a bottle cage and my Garmin 810 to record my rides, and was all set to take on the Festive 500.

The cockpit
The cockpit

I am staggered by how well this bike performed.  You have to remember that this bike is designed for city riding, its small, 16 inch wheels allowing it to be ingeniously folded into something that you can take into cafes, the office, on the train or on a plane.   My experiences over the last few days have proved that it is a very capable contender for long distance cycling.

I completed the Rapha Festive 500 in five rides, finishing on 29 December (still with two days to spare).  If you are interested in the details of my rides, you can follow me on Strava by clicking on the “Follow me on Strava” tab at the bottom of this post or by clicking here.  Alternatively, you could look at the right hand side or bottom of this blog (depending on whether you are viewing on a desktop or mobile device) to the section entitled Rides.

Ride #1 – 24 December

A short one to ease myself into the challenge.  Just did 51km (32 miles), after all, it was Christmas Eve.

Yes, Brompton's go up hill quite well
Yes, Brompton’s go up hill quite well.

Ride #2 – 26 December

Decided that a nice round 100km (62 miles) would be a good idea on Boxing Day.  Found some new roads that I hadn’t been on before and generally had a nice explore on my Brompton.

Brompton shadow - this bike is capable of anything.
Brompton shadow – this bike is capable of anything.

Ride #3 – 27 December

Rode 81km (50 miles) with a buddy.  He was out on his road bike and was amazed that my Brompton had no problem keeping up.  Infact, towards the end of the ride, I dropped my buddy off and then continued for a few extra clicks, just because the Brompton is so much fun to ride.

Ride #4 – 28 December

The big one.  Rode 162km (100 miles) today.  It’s no secret that I like to ride long distances whenever I get the chance.  I rode all the stages of the Tour de France over a 3 week period last summer (admittedly on my road bike) and have written about how to complete a century ride and what to eat during that ride in previous blog posts.  Today was the day that I was going to test out whether my Brompton was up to the task.  And it most certainly was – 100 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes is a very respectable achievement.  I averaged at 28.5kph (17.7mph).  It was during this ride that I think that my love of the Brompton evolved.  Not only could it do big distances at decent speeds, it was also comfortable for long days in the saddle.  What is not to like?  I also really like the way you can fold the rear wheel to create a stand, very useful for any comfort breaks on long rides!

Very convenient stand arrangement.
Very convenient stand arrangement.

Ride #5 – 29 December

This was the last ride of my Rapha Festive 500 and all I needed to do was 106km (66 miles) and the challenge was complete.

Oxfordshire countryside.
Oxfordshire countryside.

I planned a lovely route through the Cotswolds and as expected, the little Brompton kept on giving.  I stopped in Bibury, which is a fairly popular tourist spot in the Cotwolds and the bike certainly attracted some attention.  People always want to come and talk to you about the wonderful bike and I had to demonstrate the fold to a number of people.

Posing in Bibury before the crowds arrived.
Posing in Bibury before the crowds arrived.

So there we have it.   My average speed for the 500km was 27.44kph (17mph).  The Rapha Festive 500 completed in style on my Brompton S6L-X.

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.


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My Rules for 2016

I like to make up my own rules, so from this day onwards I am going to commit to the new fitandforty.org rules:

Exercise 5 days a week

Mountain summit


Take rest and recovery seriously

The 3rd Pillar of Health


Eat as healthy as possible, most of the time

Nutrition - the first pillar of health


Always spend less than I earn

Spend less than I earn.

Easy, how simple was that!

Have a great 2016.

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you.


The C word (and also the 4th pillar of health)

Either you do it or you don't - there is no inbetween.
Either you do it or you don’t – there is no inbetween.
So I mentioned in a previous post that there was a 4th pillar of health and that I would write about some day, and that day is today.
The C word, Commitment, is needed to get out there and do it.  Commitment is about being dedicated to an activity, such as becoming a fitter, healthier person, a better cyclist or a better runner.  Infact, Commitment is needed to become a better Dad, partner, lover, student, absolutely anything.  Call is dedication or devotion, it’s much the same thing.
So there we have it, the Three Pillars of Health and the C word should see you through.
I showed a commitment to hydration during my 12 hour burpee world record
I showed a commitment to hydration during my 12 hour burpee world record

THE BIG INTERVIEW: A pillar of health

This is a clipping from an interview that I did with the local paper, The Swindon Advertiser, a few days after my Burpee World Record Attempt

Swindon Advertiser: Jeremy RedfordJeremy Redford

Jeremy Redford, 41, recently took the world record for burpees – a form of squat thrust – by completing 8,089 in 12 hours. The ex-Army officer is about to start work at the Defence Academy in Shrivenham. He lives in Watchfield with wife Alison, and their daughter Lucy, 11…

IT’S probably best to start with a definition.

The burpee is said to be named after Royal H Burpee, the American fitness expert who devised it many years ago.

First you get into the squat position. Now perform a squat thrust, extending the legs well, and return to your starting position.

Now jump into the air, ensuring good ground clearance, and return to a squat.

Congratulations. You have performed a burpee. If you can manage another 8,089 in the next 11 hours and 59 minutes, you’ll be a Guinness World Record breaker.

Or you could just take some exercise – any exercise – and it will improve your life and put you on the winning side, as far as Jeremy Redford’s concerned.

“A lot of people are scared of exercise. They don’t know what the first step is, but the first step is just doing something, really.

“If I can inspire one person to put on a pair of shoes and take the dog for a longer walk than usual, that’s good. Exercise doesn’t have to be doing 8,000 burpees; it could be walking your dog for slightly longer or throwing a frisbee.”

Jeremy has a blog, fitandforty.org, which includes everything from fitness advice to dietary tips, as well as his exercise bucket list, from which ‘Set a Guinness World Record’ has now been ticked off.

There is also a contact page for readers in need of help to attain or improve fitness.

Jeremy said: “I’m not a sports coach but I like helping people.”

Jeremy was born in Leamington Spa, the fourth of six siblings. His father is a retired antique dealer; his mother, a member of Mensa, died when he was 11, following an epileptic fit.

As a student in 1994, Jeremy raised money for an epilepsy charity by cycling from Singapore to Sydney.

“I started in Singapore, went across to Sumatra, then Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Timor, a plane across from Timor to Darwin and then Darwin down to the middle of Australia.”

His world burpee record also raised £1,900 for the Young Epilepsy charity, which he chose after his nephew was diagnosed with the condition.

After his mother’s death, the family moved to Cheshire and the local grammar school was followed by a geography degree.

“I thought I was going to work in hydrology and water management in the developing world.

“I really liked geography at school. I went to the University of London at college called the School Oriental and African Studies.

“Whilst I was there I had lots of opportunities to do travel and research in southern Africa, which I really enjoyed, and I thought, ‘Yeah, I could do something different over here – I could help.’ “I always wanted to help somebody, I think – do something good. I spent a bit of time in Zimbabwe and Mozambique in about 1992 and got a bit disillusioned with it. We had a project out there we were pumping quite a lot of money into. It was going well, but I thought, ‘If the political situation changes and we stop pumping money into this, we’re going to leave these people in a worse situation than their indigenous systems.’ So I thought I’d better do something else. Somebody said, ‘Join the Army,’ and the rest is history.”

Jeremy was commissioned to the Cheshire Regiment in 1997, serving in locations including Northern Ireland and Iraq.

Retiring as a major after 16 years, he spent several years helping to conduct seismic surveys for the oil and gas industry. His latest role, in Shrivenham, is in defence leadership and management.

Jeremy has been a fitness enthusiast since his teens, and specialises in endurance events. His achievements include seventh place in the 2007 Great Wall of China Marathon – the course incorporates 3,800 steps – and regular participation in the 38-mile Three Peaks cyclocross event in North Yorkshire.

He’s keen to emphasise that anybody can exercise and anybody can benefit from it. “I believe in three pillars of health: sleep well, eat well and do some exercise.

“Take sleep away and you crumble – it just doesn’t work. I could exercise all I wanted, I could eat the best food in the world, but if I didn’t sleep it would make no difference. It just wouldn’t work.

“The same goes for food. You could sleep really well and exercise really well, but fuelling the tank with nonsense, as in chemicals, processed food and stuff like that, you’re not going to get any better.

“The same goes for exercise. I could sleep well and eat well, but I’m not going to get better. There’s a fourth pillar that I’m going to write about on my blog very shortly when I get a couple of minutes, and that’s commitment.

“It’s just getting out in the fresh air. I’m not a gym person; I never go to a gym. I like working out in a park instead of a gym.

“It’s getting airflow through your body, feeling better about yourself.”

My 3 Pillars of Health

I like to keep things simple.  And I reckon that there are 3 pillars to health.  Take note of these 3 things, practice them as much as possible and you will be on the road to a healthy and happy life.


Nutrition - the first pillar of health
Nutrition – the first pillar of health

OK, if you have read the About Me section on this site, you will have seen that I am known as the Calorie Cowboy.  I really am not that bad, but I do try and eat a balanced, healthy and nutritious diet most of the time.  I try to eat well 80% of the time.  I  firmly believe that if you eat garbage, you are probably going to perform like garbage, that is unless your name is Usain Bolt, and I am sure that he doesn’t eat fast food (no pun intended) all the time.  It’s all about moderation and common sense.  I have some friends who eat healthier than me, but spend their lives preparing food, and go crazy if they can’t get hold of their uber healthy food, for whatever reason.  I can eat a hamburger, I’m not going to love it, but neither am I going to go into meltdown.  Laird Hamilton, the super cool extreme sportsman and big wave surfer and definitely fitandforty (plus a few years) makes a good analogy on his stance on feeding (and fueling) the body.  He likes being more like a truck than a high performance car, because if a little diesel or water gets in, it’ll cough or sputter a bit, but it will keep going to get through it and keeping running.


Exercise - just do something


Exercise is crucial.  Just get up and do some exercise.  I’m serious, just this simple act of getting up and being more active will potentially add years to your life.  You never know, if you are lucky, you may even enjoy it.


The 3rd Pillar of Health
The 3rd Pillar of Health

Rest and recovery is an integral part of training and being healthy.  Without this pillar, the whole structure collapses.  You need more sleep than you think to make you stronger and healthy.  Go on, go to bed early, bag a bit more kip than you normally do.  And you may even enjoy it too!  But seriously, studies are increasingly showing that sleep is super important and that missing it out on it can have real effects on your overall health, as well as your happiness and productivity.  A recent Harvard study said that chronic sleep deprivation may cause weight gain by affecting the way our bodies process and store carbohydrates, and by altering levels of hormones that affect our appetite.

And on that note, I will end this post and go and get some sleep!

Cows – providers of milk (a great recovery drink)

Cow drawing by Lucy

Cows… providers of milk, which I love. I did warn you that there would be some random stuff in my blog, and this is right up there at the top.

First off, milk is good for you. It is a great recovery drink, full of protein and has been a favourite of mine all my life. Protein shakes at the end of exercise are all very well and I recommended them in my article on Nutrition – What To Eat On A Century (100 Mile) Bike Ride, but what is simpler than opening the fridge and pouring out a glass of the white stuff.

So I was out on my tandem with my wonderful wife (first time for her, as it is normally a Dad and Daughter activity), and we stopped off for a cup of tea at a local farm shop.  There were some cows in the field.  And then I came across the following on the wall:

“What is a Cow?

A cow is a completely automatic milk manufacturing machine.  It is encased in untanned leather and mounted on 4 vertical,  moveable supports, one at each corner.  The front end contains the cutting and grinding mechanisms, as well as the headlights, air inlet and front exhausts, a bumper and foghorn.

At the rear end is the dispensing apparatus and an automatic fly swatter.  The central portion houses a hydro-chemical plant.  This consists of four fermentation and storage tanks connected in series by an intricate network of flexible plumbing.  This section also contains the heating plant, complete with automatic temperature controls, pumping station and main ventilation system.  The waste disposal apparatus is located at the rear of this central portion.

In brief: the external visible features are two lookers, four standers, four diddle-danders and a swishy-wishy.  There is a similar machine known as a bull, which should not be confused with a cow.”

Well, it made me smile, hope it did the same for you.

I told you that it would be a random post!

p.s.  Hope you like the cow picture, drawn by my daughter.

Top 10 Tips To Complete A Century – 100 Miles On A Bike

With Spring on the horizon, and the hope of some good weather, many cyclists set their sights on a Century ride to assess levels of fitness prior to the summer months. Whatever your goals and aims, the Century Ride also gives you a bit of cycling confidence and kudos.

So here are my Top 10 Tips to successfully complete a 100 mile bike ride:

1. Prepare well, which should include being suitably rested, hydrated and topped up nutritionally.

2. Do any bike preparation beforehand, including making sure that your bike is working properly, fits you correctly and is comfortable for a day in the saddle. Also make sure you know how to fix a puncture (if you don’t know already).

3. Select a good route. Route planning on something like Garmin Connnect is easy and fun.
4. Take note of weather forecast. Use this to your advantage, and grab a tail wind for the last part when you will be more tired.

5. Ride with a buddy, if available.

6. Eat and drink regularly. I have an alert set every 15 minutes to remind me to drink. Every other one (so every half an hour) I also eat something. 50 grams of carbs per hour seems to work for me. See my article, Nutrition – What To Eat On A Century Bike Ride.

7. Start off easy, it is going to be a long(ish) day and don’t spoil it by going off too fast. If you start off too fast, you will pay for it later.

8. Wear proper cycling clothing and apply some Chamois creme, I use and swear by Assos Chamois Creme.

9. Bring some money, a map and a phone ICE (In Case of Emergency).

10. Relax and enjoy it.

If you are nervous about riding a Century, and live in the south of England, give me a shout and I will help you conquer it.

Nutrition – What To Eat On A Century (100 Mile) Bike Ride

Jeremy's iphone photos 442

A Century – also known as The 100 Mile Bike Ride, is often considered as a rite of passage for any cyclist.  The Century Ride (100 miles or 160.9km) is considered by some, to be the distance, that if you can complete it in a day, then you are a “good rider” and can call yourself a true cyclist.  I, personally, do not buy into this belief, for a couple of reasons:

First, I quite regularly ride centuries, and don’t consider myself to be a particularly “good rider”.  In fact, in 2015, I rode 23 Century rides, which included riding the whole of the Tour de France route.

And second, I believe that with the right preparation, a sensible pacing strategy, good route selection and an excellent nutrition and hydration plan, the century ride is manageable by most people.  Please do not think that I am belittling the Century Ride, far from it in fact.  But some prior preparation will prevent poor performance and part of that essential preparation is eating and drinking, before, during and after the ride.

So here is my nutrition strategy for a big day in the saddle:

Pre Ride:  I eat a bowl of porridge every morning, whether I am riding or not.  Sometimes I add a banana, and I always have a cup of coffee.  Some nutritionists would say that you may need more, and toast, yogurt and eggs are popular choices.  Experiment to see what suits you best.  Top Tip:  Do not try something new on the morning of a big ride, experiment on shorter rides first!  Whatever you decide, I try and get all my eating done 90 minutes before the start of the ride.  I also aim to drink a 500ml / 16oz bottle of water an hour before hitting the road to ensure that I am properly hydrated to begin with.

During the Ride:  The picture above shows what nutrition I carry in my jersey pockets.  From left to right there is the following:

  • Emergency High 5 Energy Gel – I always carry this gel with me, just in case I need it.  Touch wood, I never have so far, and it is probably now out of date!
  • 2 x GU Energy Gels.  Each 32g pack contains 20g of carbs.
  • 2 x Clif Energy Bars.  Each one contains around 40g of carbs.
  • 2 x Mini Soreen Malt Loaf.  Around 40g of carbs in each one
  • 2 x Zipvit ZV Energy Bars.. Each 55g bar packs in 37.2g of carbs.
  • The red at the top right is my tube of High 5 Zeros (electrolyte and magnesium drink).  I carry a small tube (10 tablets) and can easily pop one in a water bottle if and when I refill.  Incidentally, I usually carry 2 x 750ml / 25oz bottles on my bike.

I am aiming for about 40 – 50 grams of carbs per hour, and some riders would consume this through energy drinks and gels alone, but I am not a big fan of this personally.  I prefer some solids and aim to drink a few gulps of High 5 Zero electrolyte drink every 15 minutes to replace minerals lost through sweating and eat a small quantity of food every 30 minutes.

So my nutrition strategy for a Century Ride would look something like this, based on a 5 hour ride time:

  • 15 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 30 mins – half a Clif Bar and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 45 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 1 hour – half a Clif Bar and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 75 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 90 mins – half a Soreen and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 105 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 2 hours – half a Soreen and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 135 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 150 mins – half a Zipvit Energy Bar and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 165 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 3 hours – half a Zipvit Energy Bar and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 195 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 210 mins – Gu Energy Gel and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 225 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 4 hours – Gu Energy Gel and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 255 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 270 mins – full Zipvit Energy Bar to see me through to the end of the ride and a few mouthfuls of drink.
  • 285 mins – a few mouthfuls of drink.  At this point, you may want to consider eating a protein recovery bar to kick start the recovery process.
  • 5 hours – Bask in the glory of finishing your ride.

Top Tip:  If you have a bike computer or watch with a time alert facility, set it to beep every 15 minutes to remind you to either drink or eat, or both.

You will note from the above that I still have a Soreen and Clif Bar, along with my ever faithful High 5 Gel in reserve.  There are surplus to my requirements normally, but I take them just in case it is a particularly tough day in the saddle.

Post Ride:  Try to consume a recovery shake as soon as possible post ride and get some protein on board so that those muscles can start to recover.  Even better, if you have room in your jersey pocket, put a protein bar in there to eat during the last few miles of the ride and really kick start the recovery process.

So there you have it.  That is what I do.  Others will do it differently, and this is only a general guide.  The most important thing to do is to get out there and enjoy it.

P.S.  If you live in the south of England and are worried about riding a century, why not get in touch with me, I may be able to help out.