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Doctor’s Orders and Jedi Mind Tricks

I have been described as a veteran of the Rivers Ride. Mind you, despite being a spritely 45 I am constantly described as a veteran of everything. The paper round I had as a young man on the top of Shap means that I have the gnarled complexion of an octogenarian hill farmer. When you couple this with blood pressure I have a face so ruddy that if I stop to catch my breath cars will sometimes stop at dusk thinking my head has gone from amber to red.

I am always one of the first to sign up to this great day’s cycling for a good cause. However, even the finely tuned body of an athlete can sometimes go wrong. Despite the many hours spent in my electric recliner contemplating how much exercise I should do I managed to end up with sciatica and a nipped nerve in my neck. On doctor’s orders I had to pull out of the 2014 Rivers Ride. The cycling world gasped in horror as the man who had come last in all of the Rivers Ride to date finally admitted defeat. The (admittedly) niche cycling magazine for Plus Size men ‘Cycling Meekly’ did a feature on whether it was the end of my career and I fell into a meat and tatie pie-filled despair. My lycra sponsorship from Jacamo wasn’t renewed and a very lucrative deal as the face of (a sister website of was terminated.

However, like a phoenix from the ashes I rose majestically from my lethargy and after twenty sessions of physiotherapy and acupuncture I can now put my own socks on.

Gary McKeating 25.06.15Now fully unfit, I looked longingly at my bicycle hanging from the garage ceiling like a mechanical bat, waiting to unfurl its wheels and ride off into the sunset. Then I left it there for another year. Until the call. Andy Beeforth OBE was on the phone using his Jedi Mind Tricks on me once again. Previously this technique had seen me towing a beer barrel around Derwentwater, hiking up to Stickle Tarn to sleep under the stars in a carrier bag or floating on a four poster bed on Lake Windermere. This time it was to see what was quicker – pedal power or paddle power.  I would cycle from the shore of Derwentwater and Andy would paddle down the Derwent in a poor man’s version of a Top Gear Challenge .

Tune in next time to see if I made it – well I know you know I did because I’m writing this – but humour me – I’ve been on a creative writing course at the Carlisle Royal Academy of Prose (CRAP) and I’m leaving you with a cliffhanger

Injuries of the Daft and Dangerous…

There can be no finer place to practise for the Jennings Rivers Ride than West Cumbria. I pose that as an hypothetical statement as I’ve done no practise for the Jennings Rivers Ride. However, if I had, I am sure that West Cumbria would be the place to do it. I am a complex man and every time my wife urges me to get out on the bike and practise I find anything  (and I mean anything) to distract me from that task. Instead of being a wiry, muscular cyclist I am now the proud owner of some bedding boxes manufactured from some old decking, a sandstone wishing well, half a chicken coop and a 1989 2 berth caravan that I’m doing up as a garden office. These things will not enable me to get up hills any faster in September but my joinery skills are improving and the caravan has a drinks cabinet.

I do tell a little lie – I’ve done a little bit of cycling, however it was cut cruelly short by stupidity and injury. In the next enthralling episode of ‘Injuries of the Daft and Dangerous’ ( I’m soon to have my own show on Sky Living) I can exclusively reveal that it involves the coming together of my, how should I put this, undercarriage and the crossbar of the Giant Defy that you can now find wedged up a tree near Maryport.

Most of my extensive sports  injuries come about through the use of cleats on my cycling shoes and the pedal. Experienced cyclists will probably laugh but as I don’t cycle anywhere near enough I seem to spend far too much time trying to align the bottom of my foot with a 1cm clicky target (sorry for getting technical) on the pedal (whatever happened to big pedals with reflectors the size of a Snickers on them?) As usual I’d cycled about 8 miles without seeing a soul. As soon as I tried to re-attach myself to the bike after an emergency Cornish Pasty break the whole population of Maryport magically came out to stare in my direction as I remounted. Wanting to look cool and  start powerfully I  pressed my foot down hard and as my foot slipped off the pedal I landed on the crossbar . Obviously I swore like a trooper with a particularly bad problem with profanity. The lady who had just chucked a bottle of Vimto and cigarette stump to the floor whilst her dog had a poo in the middle of the cycle track found my language and behaviour appalling (she’d obviously never reached the definition of irony in the dictionary)  and told me so. I think it was a lady as I couldn’t see through my tear streaked eyes. So from now on I shall be known as Vera and spend my leisure time as backing singer in a Bee Gees tribute band.

So not that much to report this month. However as a nutrition guru, I do sometimes like to share my extensive research with you prior to submitting my dissertation for my Doctorate.  The chapter I am currently working on is about the benefits of a balanced diet. As you can see from the attached picture I have found that a trio of real ale balances out very nicely with two pork pies and a pot of brown sauce.


Until the next time I don’t go out on my bike….

Bicycle tears, Physics and Budgies

The bike is down! The bike is down!

Last Saturday after ten months suspended from my garage ceiling (see last blog) I took my bike off the hook and placed it gently back on its two wheels. Shamefully I had put it there on the night of last year’s Rivers Ride and left it there like a forlorn, dangly monument to a fitter, more agile past. Last year’s Rivers Ride was tackled in monsoon conditions and amazingly, the bike started dripping water from its front forks. Now this was either residual water from Whinlatter last September  or genuine cycle tears because it knew that I was just about to sit on it for 40 miles.

I had signed up to do the Rivers Ride Relay which was four teams doing each of the rides and passing on a bottle of Cumberland Ale as the baton. As you may know I am the pioneer of Extreme Cycling. Now, this new sporting concept (which may become an Olympic Sport in future years) isn’t an endurance event of many hundreds of miles in difficult conditions but is based on overweight ‘cyclists’ doing no cycling for the vast majority of the year then jumping on his/her bike to do a ride of 40/60 or 80 miles up and down hills in a oner.

I was doing the ride with fellow blogger Ian Curwen and Tom Foster a Director at Sellafield.  Just so the Cycling Gods (who for the ill-informed are called Chopper, Grifter and Budgie) could snigger a little louder it was scheduled on one of the hottest days of the year and we were doing the just after lunch slot. Oh joy! The physicists amongst you will be aware of the formula that dictates that 40 miles +slopes + 26 degrees + clinical obesity = comedy cycling + breathing that you can be arrested for. I’d also forgotten to have something substantial to eat (unless Bradley Wiggins pre Tour meal of choice is a bowl of Clusters in which case I was well prepared.) We had also managed to persuade/dupe a colleague called Karl Connor to drive us and our bikes  through. This had the double benefit of allowing us the opportunity to partake in several pints afterwards in Keswick which was the carrot that I needed.

The ride itself was actually (and surprisingly) uneventful which for a blogger is really disappointing. Normally on my occasional forays into the world of cycling I fall off, get bitten by dogs, bricked by feral teenagers or slip in dog poo. On Saturday I cruised effortlessly at 1.3 miles per hour in my bright yellow t-shirt (see photo) looking like Bungle off Rainbow and managed the route pretty well. We then went to the pub and had some chips. Grand! I did, of course,  get my usual pitiful/sniggery/is that fat fella really on a bike looks from the fitter cycling demographic but I did check out their calf muscles and mine were bigger and more defined.   In my last blog I told you that I would be reporting on my ‘marginal gains’ Over the last few weeks my legs have been bitten to pieces by midges.

The resultant scratching has meant that both lower legs have been stripped of quite a lot of hair. I do believe the resultant weight loss and associated efficiency has raised my average speed from 1.2 mph to 1.3 mph.  Result!

So – has the day out ignited my love of cycling? No. Will I commit to a training regime of x number of  miles per week leading up until September? No. Will I regret it in September? Yes – just like last year and the year before.   What is it about me and never learning from experience? Until next time..

Bicycle Bats, tender noses and Raleigh Grifters

News just in – there is no news. I haven’t touched my bike, looked at my bike thought about my bike or been within 20 feet of my bike. Sorry I tell a lie – the fuse blew on the bathroom lights and I banged my head on the front wheel as I stumbled in my towel past the bicycle that hangs like a mocking bat from my garage ceiling (see previous blog).

I know at some point I’ll get into trouble for not blogging about actual cycling in a cycling blog but I’m going to have to risk it – I’ve got away with it for three years now. I’m very comfortable with being in trouble as I’m married to a teacher.

At this point I usually enter my pleas of mitigation as to why I’ve done nothing – busy at work, fell off the bike, memory loss, community service obligations etc. This week I’m going to be truthful – I couldn’t be bothered. I’ve been at the Whitehaven Festival all weekend volunteering and I got back with feet that were throbbing like a cobblers thumb and a sunburned nose. Now I bet Sir Bradley Wiggins doesn’t miss training due to a tender pink nose but I’m nothing if not a trail-blazer in the world of excuses.

In this series of blogs I’m going to post a photograph of me in different locations in West Cumbria as I up my training intensity every week until the Rivers Ride. If I haven’t trained due to sunburn, mouth ulcers or midge bites, I’ll post a tenuous cycling photo. This week – me and Louis Walsh who once owned a Raleigh Grifter. Until next time, yours in (thinking about) cycling.

Crazy fool rides again………

I am a fool. There, I admitted  it. Every year I sign up for the Rivers Ride and every year I say I’ll get fit and every year I don’t and then every year I do a blog and then every year it’s about my tale of doing very little training and then every year I struggle round the long ride and then every year I come last and it takes a month for my body to recover.   And so we begin the 2013 Gary McKeating version of Groundhog Day on two wheels.   My bike has been hanging from its cycle hook in the garage (available from Halfords in the ‘once a year daft fat cyclist’ section) since last September. This frees me up a bit of floor space to only trip over the exercise bike I bought 2 years ago and the dumb-bells I bought 3 years ago and the twirly thing you kneel on to do your abs (I think) that I bought 4 years ago. I’ll do the ceremonial lift it down from the ceiling  shortly into its pre Rivers Ride position nearer the garage door which enables my wife to initiate her pre Rivers Ride ‘had you not better get some practice in’ mantra as I eat a KitKat.   The GB cycling coach, Dave Brailsford at the Olympics last year talked about ‘marginal gains’ – the little improvements that gave his team the edge.  We should learn from the best so I’ll be talking a lot over my blogs about marginal gains. This week I’ve cut down from four finger KitKats to two finger KitKats. Next week I plan to stop eating twice as many two finger KitKats than four finger KitKats. I’m getting good at this already!   Until next time…