What’s a one of those? Well, it’s a one of these:

I think I heard about Jersey Pocket on Twitter – though it might have been Instagram, who knows?

Anyway, a check of their site and products and I discovered that while most of their products are vegan from the get-go, the fridge bars currently use honey but you can ask for a vegan version that uses agave. One advantage of their handy make-to-order model. 

I think they’re changing over to all-vegan soon, but for now you can write a note on your order, I found them to be really helpful and friendly.

So, to the bars! The fridge bars come in three flavours; chocolate, sweet and savoury. You keep them in the fridge and mine had about a three month best before date on that assumption. 

Consistency is pleasingly between cake and biscuit – like a high-class flapjack? Not squishy and not dry, so good for on the go when you don’t want to get sticky hands but also don’t want to drink a gallon of water to get something down.

The chocolate one had a nice smoky chocolate taste, the savoury one had what I can only describe as a savoury/caramel type flavour that was much better than it maybe sounds and the sweet one had a subtle hint of nut about it. Each was maybe the size of a chunky Kit Kat and pretty much did the job of stopping me feel like I wanted to eat. They range between 240-300 calories, depending on which you go for.

I liked them enough that I’ve now got a full selection box sitting on the fridge of the whole range of products, and I’m going to work my way through those and report back. They work out cheaper than breakfast from the canteen at work and taste better than any other bars I’ve found. From a racing perspective, I stopped using gels a couple of years ago when I realised they were what was making me feel ill in long runs. Since then I’ve fuelled all my longer runs with sushi, but these offer a bit of variety to add into the mix – I’ll have to try them on a longer run to see how they fare with the dreaded digestion. Luckily the Dark Skies night marathon at Kielder with the Trail Outlaws is just around the corner…

It’s been a while… well, two months, I guess.

Saying which, there’s not a vast amount of wild things gone on – I’ve cycled lots, but you knew I was doing that. Lots of miles, just one route.

At the end of October I finished my fifth year of running – five years! It’s been a canny year – after three attempts I finally got to run the Kintyre Way, which was epic, and a truly lovely bit of Scotland – definitely worth a trip and the run is spectacular.

I had my first ever DNF (did not finish) at the end of October, on my favourite run – the Jedburgh Ultra. It was entirely my own fault, I didn’t train enough. I kind of knew I hadn’t, but thought I could fake my way round. I couldn’t. Massive cramp going up the first Eildon that led to something going wrong with my leg and I could barely hobble along. I signed out with the marshal, and slowly walked my way off the hills for an early finish. Gutted at the time, but now I realise it was down to me I see it’s a lesson that I’ve got a bit lazy and should take these things a bit more seriously. A bit less cycling, a bit more running, especially as runs get closer and all should be fine.

I had the norovirus – that was horrid, but it came and went.

I consistently nearly bought a Brompton, but I still can’t quite justify it to myself, I really fancy a cyclocross or gravel bike to take onto the bridleways and tracks, or even to have a go at cyclocross, which looks crackers.

I reckon I’ll have cycled just short of 5,000km by the end of this year, mainly since I started commuting in June. I’m hoping to keep it going as far into the new year as possible, but we’ll see what the weather thinks about that.

Not far to go to 2017, eh, let’s see how that goes…


Big Red rocks!

Posted: 23/10/2016 in Uncategorized

We ran out of bread. What finer reason to get out Big Red and cycle to the shops? A bit of finicking with the Apidura bar pack and I had it nested amongst the cables and ready to go.

It rained. A lot. And more. I got wet. Quite wet.

Down to the Derwent Walk and I headed towards Swalwell. I didn’t realise, but the mud had started to build on my back – luckily it was raining, so I had my waterproof on, so a layer of funk built up without it being too bothersome.

Hang on, that’s not the shops, that’s the way to Evans (the bike shop) and I need a spanner to get the old gnarly downhill pedals off so I can put on some clippers pedals – reckon it’ll work so much better now I’m used to SPDs on the road bike.

Bang! Spanner bought – it’s interesting that when I got to Evans and asked for a pedal spanner the guy pulled one out from under the counter and handed it to me, and I had to explain I wanted to buy one. That’s got to be a good thing, right?

Along through Blaydon to Morrisons and I got some bread – sour dough and a small French stick – thin bread, so it’ll fit in the bar pack.

Right, task complete, it’s time to head home, and what better way than up the Blaydon Burn path? It was easier than I expected – granny gears are pretty cool, and I barely notice how massively heavy the bike is with a gold-rated lock and bits of kit hanging off it.

Off the road and on tracks up towards Barlow – a bit wild through the mud, but it all worked out, no need to walk up the big hill.

Home, and at 14 miles, that was a canny trip out – I was gone about 1:50, but cycled about 1:20 of that – takes time to buy bread, you know.

As this is my winter option, wondering how long it would take to get to work – will have to give it a go at some point…

Big Red rolls again!

Posted: 09/10/2016 in Uncategorized

A couple of axles, a quick release, two gear-removal tools, six new spokes and hours of messing on with stuff, trying to sort me cones.

And that’s it – Big Red is rolling. There was a moment when I was going to buy a new wheel, and one where I was seriously considering a new bike, but I plugged on like an ignorant repair man and finally figured it out. The man in Halfords gave me the clue, and that did the trick – rear axle is officially changed and bloomin’ works too.

It’s only been a few years since I rode the heaviest mountain bike ever produced, and after a good clean up it worked surprisingly well. I might replace the cables and the inner tubes just for good practice, but all went well enough on a nimble round the woods this afternoon.

Big Red is officially my bad winter bike for commuting in – once the roads get ice on them I’m not risking it, and this fella will work better on the cycle paths than the little grey road bike. All my swanky Apidura bags should fit on fine, so. I worries there. I’ll probably pick up some SPD pedals as it was really odd cycling without being clipped in.

All of which goes to show you, a relative lack of bicycle maintenance skills combined with a bit of northern bloody-mindedness will see you through.

But how long will it take? I reckon an hour and a half in and mebbes two home, I don’t know – have to find some off-road routes.

What’s it all about?

Back in the early summer you couldn’t cycle anywhere without seeing poor flat rabbits, and sometimes not-so-flat recently-dead rabbits. 

Later in the warm, warm days of summer their was an abundance of pigeons, seemingly all of who had decided to end their days in the cycle lanes of Newcastle. For sheer weirdness, they also seemed to have decided to decapitate themselves on the way out – as themes go, it’s more than a little disturbing.

Now, as we speed through Autumn and on to winter, the rats have decided to head off – perhaps abandoning the sinking ship of Brexit in the most final way they can think. Seriously, I might have seen one or two rats in my entire life , but in the last couple of weeks there’s been maybe a dozen of them – scattered along my route to work. They can’t just be heading to my locality in a concerted effort to give me the willies – it must be happening elsewhere?

What will deep winter bring? Will there be squirrels? Might it be marmosets? I’m voting for unicorns, it has to happen sooner or later?As long as it’s not snakes, I bloody hate snakes…

I’m a runner.

Proud to be a runner. 

Glad to be a cheery runner, who says “hello” and “morning” to other runners, walkers, cyclists and the world in general.

I’ve probably moaned once or twice where I’ve “morning”ed a cyclist and they’ve not responded. Miserable buggers.

Now I’m commuting by bike I do the same, “hello” or “afternoon” to all and sundry. Other cyclists are pretty good, a nod of the head from the other side of the road is international cycle-sign for “get us, what are we like”.

Except the runners. Runners don’t respond to me on a bike.

They do when I’m running but not when I’m cycling, and vis-versa with the runners.

It’s like Romeo and Juliet, two clans that will never meet.

Except I’ll keep saying hello to both of you.

I know, I’ve gone a bit AWOL on the running. I’m sure it’ll come back – it’d better, I’m running with Trail Outlaws in a couple of weeks, so I should probably head out before then to make sure the feet haven’t lost the knack (not that I’d call it a ‘knack’, mind you, more something I have fallen into, like you might a well or pond.

Anyhow, it was my birthday at the end of the week, and it was pretty bicycle-flavoured. I’d ordered myself a long-sleeve jersey (more later), and was given a bicycling t-shirt and book (both funny) as well. I also cycled in to work, which has become a habit now. As in, I don’t really think about it any more, I get my kit on and get on the bike. I’ve figured out how to get a shirt in each day, and I’ve figured out how to bulk-carry pants, socks and towels. I dare say the weather has helped – I’ve only been drenched twice in two and a bit months, and I reckon a teeming morning might have me re-thinking things. As I sit here, sloe gin and ginger ale in hand, in the weather-proof living room I’m saying I’ll still go for it. I think I should take bets on that though, at 6am I might have different thoughts…

Yes, the new jersey. I have a club jersey (the Mighty Mighty Vegetarian Cycling & Athlectic Club) and a couple of cheap tops, so I figured I should get something a bit swanky. That coincided with me discovering Stolen Goat, a bike gear manufacturer who’d just brought out a limited edition jersey, which had tattoo designs on it. Come on, even if you don’t know me very well you must be able to hear my brain chugging along processing that idea. And so I pressed the buttons and ordered one. And it came. And I waited until my birthday to have a go with it. And it was ace.

See what I mean? Lift selfie, eh? Never tried a #whatyourocking picture before as mostly it’s a slightly crumpled shirt, boring pants and a confused look. Not that this is a much more accomplished look…

Compared to the other tops I’ve got, it’s softer, thinner, better in the breeze and just makes you feel like a proper cyclist. So much so that I ordered another one of their jerseys, which has waterproofing built in – that should be good as the Autumn heads towards us.

More detail on the design, and less worrying knees. Definitely recommend the jersey – they’re only making 100 of them, apparently, so you’d need to get your skates on!

Rock on.