Becoming a Touring Cyclist: What You Need

Looking to take your rides to the next level?

Step up from the commute and hit the road for a long tour.

If you’ve not noticed it yet, cycling is considered by many to be quite the addictive sport. Whether it’s the thrill of propelling yourself at high speed or the feeling of accomplishment that you get from stepping off your bike after you’ve covered a huge distance – cycling is widely considered to be a very moreish pastime. Thanks to the low-impact nature of the sport it’s the perfect activity for overweight or older people to use as an introduction to cardiovascular exercise; plus, once the rider’s been bitten by the cycling bug they’ll find that their fitness improves exponentially.

At first, novice cyclists will not have the confidence to tackle longer distances, usually staying within their local neighbourhood. As such, they won’t need to worry about investing in any serious touring equipment, however once they feel up to expanding their horizons, it’s important that the right equipment is purchased so that the cyclist is prepared for the unpredictable nature of the road.

If you’re looking to really push yourself (as well as your bike) then it’s time to take the plunge and invest in some touring gear:

Pannier Racks/Panniers

For a one-day cycle or a simple commute you’ll not have to worry about taking more than a good-sized rucksack with you, but as soon as you plan hitting the road for longer than this you should consider fitting a pannier rack to your steed. Thanks to the competitive online market there are so many options when it comes to the style/capacity of pannier system that you opt for, if in doubt you should spend more as you’ll inevitably regret going cheap. Road.cc breaks down your options here.

Lycra Base Layers

There was a time when donning lycra was something that only professional sportspeople took part in. Understandably, the idea of pulling on skin-tight material is the last thing that many overweight people would want to do, but if you’re planning on tackling a long distance they really are a necessity. Chafing is one of the most uncomfortable and unexpected results of long-distance cycling and not something you ever want to encounter. You can buy discontinued Nike wholesale gear through a number of sites, instead of paying full price.

Road Quality Lights

You might be able to get away with a cheap set of LED lights on shorter distances but if you’re thinking of spending more time on the road and potentially riding at darker times of the day then it’s a smart idea to invest some real money in lights. My recommendation when it comes to purchasing some serious lights for your bike is to avoid buying online and head to your local cycle shop to check out their selection. You should consider what light you’ll be cycling in, whether you need them to see the road ahead of you or simple be seen by other road users.

Pump & Tools

Finally, regardless of how new your bike is you should always carry a decent set of tools, as well as a pump that will be able to hack a rough journey. Skimping on these touring essentials is a bad idea, spend good money on them and you’ll be rewarded with equipment that will mostly likely outlive you and any offspring that you choose to bequeath it to. Whilst your local cycle shop will no doubt stock everything you need, it’s worth checking out Tom Allen’s excellent blog post detailing all the gear that he takes with him on his touring adventures.

Fuel for the Fire: My Body is a Machine

Whenever I bump into an old friend from the past they usually have to perform some kind of double-take…

It’s understandable I suppose, considering how much I’ve changed over the years.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was an overweight child who then became an overweight man. Luckily, I was able to transition from this state to a healthy weight by following a few simple rules that I had to lay down for myself right at the start of my weight loss journey. In this post I’m going to detail the first of these rules that I learned to live by and how I came up with it in the first place. If you happen to be an overweight person (just like I was) and are thinking of embarking on your own weight loss journey, then you should definitely take what I’m saying with a pinch of salt.

[Please remember that when I started trying to lose weight I was doing so without the help of the internet. I made up my program as I went along and I certainly struggled on my road to success. The important thing to remember with taking advice from sources online is that everyone is different. We all have different bodies which all work in their own ways, so although it might be tempting to think that we could all follow the same program and magically get in shape, the reality is far, far from the truth.]

So with no further ado, here is Oscar’s Golden Rule for Weightloss in 90s Stockholm:

Your body is a sports car.

Back in 1995 the only car that I wanted to own was a Porsche 928 GTS. Although many Porsche purists might well scoff at this choice, 90s Owen (and 10s Owen, for that matter) was utterly besotted with this vehicle. Sleek, smooth lines, a killer 350bhp engine and enough space for a few lady companions in the rear seats. Unfortunately, at a whopping 24 stone, I don’t think I would have fit in there if I’d even tried.

I remember seeing one of these beautiful machines cruise by one day and thinking how much cars are like people. You put fuel (food) in them and they burn energy. Put too much of the wrong fuel (junk food) into your body and you’ll soon find that your car starts to break down (illness or weight gain) until you’re left with a fat, bloated wreck of a body that’s only good for the scrap heap. Put the good stuff in (balanced diet) and drive regularly (cycle!) and you can get the kind of body (Porsche 928) that you always dreamed of!

If you’re considering committing to a new healthier lifestyle, why not try thinking of yourself as a car. Put the right fuel in, drive the miles and you could turn into a hot model, just like the 928!

How I Lost Weight and Won Back My Life in the 90s

Imagine for a moment that you didn’t have access to the device that you’re using right now.

There was a time when the internet didn’t stretch it’s invisible fingers out to every corner of the world.

It’s hard to think of a time that we didn’t wake up with a whole world of information at our finger tips, but there was such a time and it was very different to what it is now. This was a time where video was well and truly killing the radio star – in 1995 the internet was simply a concept, an idea that had been created but not proven to be anything more than tech babble to the lay man. I was working for IBM in Stockholm after graduating from university and was desperately in need of some exercise

There were plenty of overweight people in 90s era Stockholm, unfortunately the TV screens and the advertising boards didn’t reflect that. All around me were building-sized images of perfectly tanned and toned individuals – this was a world that enjoyed showing you what you could have, but not showing you how you could get it: it was a little depressing to say the least. I didn’t need a billboard to tell me that I was overweight, I already knew that, I needed to be told how I could get back in shape.

My days back then were a little monotonous. After acquiring my first job, I’d slipped into the kind of 9-5 monotony that I assume thousands of others were also mired in. The fact of the matter is that there wasn’t really that much to do back then. TV was the only consistent form of easy entertainment worth a damn and even then you could accidentally find yourself watching something horrifying like this:

Between mind-numbingly weird television, microwave meals and working in the office – my life was quickly becoming a demoralising montage, where the only way you could perceive the passage of time was through my expanding waistline.

Thankfully, I managed to dig myself out of this hole.

When I bought my first bike I had no idea what I was doing. Well, I knew how to ride the thing but beyond that I didn’t know what gears to use, what equipment to wear or how to maintain my new toy.

I’ve no doubt that the sight of a man as heavy as I was puffing and panting on this bike was a real laugh for drivers on the same commute, but had they followed my progress over the course of the four years that followed they would have noticed that fat, struggling man was slowly getting slimmer…and faster.

I’m going to be recording my journey from fat to fit in this blog, starting with my first days on the bike leading all the way up to my current life as it is today.

I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I (kind of) enjoyed living it!