From Paris to Warsaw…

Well it could have been from Paris to Warsaw, it certainly didn’t feel like it. At the beginning of 2011 I kind of made a resolution to cycle more, it all started in 2010 after getting a bike through the cycle2work scheme.

I’m lazy, very lazy, if I can do something without putting much effort in I will. Cycling seemed like the perfect thing to do coupled with the fact I could get a cheap bike through work. I could take it as easy as I wanted or push myself as hard as I could bother so that’s what I started to do. I also wanted to not be as much of a fat bastard, I got married in the middle of 2010, I knew I was overweight but didn’t do anything about it, when I saw our wedding pictures I realised that I was actually 18 stone and had to do something.

I started to ride on a weekend with my friend Dan Traynor, we rode from Nunthorpe to Guisborough and up through the forrest. We’d go up and over the moors or stay in the forrest and do some trails, 15-20 miles broke me into cycling gently. I started to ride to and from work occasionally, changed my diet and the excess weight started to come off.

I set myself a target of doing 1000 miles in 2011, it seemed easily reachable and I could spread it out over 12 months. At the time we lived 2.5 miles away from where I work, so 5 miles a day would take me to around 1000 and I could even have a few days off the bike if I wanted. My route took me down some quiet roads and through Middlesbrough’s Albert Park, it was a nice way to start the day instead of being stuck in traffic, or if you look at it another way, being traffic.

In April we moved from Middlesbrough to Ingleby Barwick putting my daily ride up to 12 miles, 240 miles a month if I cycle every day. I started to think that 240 miles a month is almost a tank of petrol that was costing me close to £70, on top of that I was paying £20 a month to get access to a car park at work which I was using less and less.

Teesside University have done a lot to help the uptake of sustainable tansport with staff, as well as taking part in the cycle2work scheme they provide secure storage for bikes, lockers, showers and places to change. They’ve even had electric car charging points installed in their main carpark. Along with the Middlesbrough Cycle Centre that Middlesbrough Council run, Middlesbrough seems to now be very accessible to people wanting to arrive by alternative means.

So, I’ve done my 1000 miles, what do I do now? I could easily up the target, 2011 miles in 2011? I’ve lost almost 4 stone in weight, I’m very close to 14 stone.

I’ve met some good people on the way and changed the way I think about transport, food and life. I’ve taken some falls, I think I broke a rib or two but I’m a stubborn bastard and wouldn’t get it seen to.

Gerry McBride who I stumbled upon on Twitter has set up Don’t drive on the 5, a website to “encourage as many people as possible to leave their cars at home on the 5th day of each month, and consider using alternative means of transport to get about.”.

Neal Harper who also works at Teesside University does the same as me and comes by bike, even after taking a fairly major fall and being out of action for a while. Gerry and Neal recently cycled coast to coast with some others, something I’d definitely think about doing now I know I’ve got the legs for it!

So far this year I’ve spent 80 hours cycling, burnt over 75000 calories and as Andrew Marsh nicely put it “climbed the equivalent of nearly 12 Empire State Buildings in elevation gain”.

The old and new me.

#borotweetup chocolate cake recipe

I’ve not made a cake in a while but I thought that bringing something to the #borotweetup would be nice and would get people talking so I set to work.


  • 400g of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids)
  • 200g of unsalted butter (cut up)
  • Single shot of cold espresso (or a teaspoon of instant coffee in a little cold water)
  • 3 of your favourite free range eggs
  • 90g of self raising flour
  • 90g of plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 230g of caster sugar
  • 200g of light brown soft sugar
  • 25g of cocoa powder
  • 75ml of whole milk
  • 250ml of double cream

You will also need

  • 25cm springform cake tin
  • Baking parchment
  • Small amount of butter to grease the cake tin
  • A heavy pan, a bonus if you have two.
  • Sieve
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Smaller mixing bowl


  1. Preheat oven to 150C (reduce temperature if you’ve got a fan oven).
  2. Butter a 25cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  3. Chop 200g of the chocolate and put it in a heavy pan, add the butter, espresso and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted and everything is mixed. Don’t let it boil.
  4. Break the 3 eggs into a large bowl, pour in all the milk and beat until mixed.
  5. Sieve the flours into the bowl, add 200g of caster sugar, all of the light brown soft sugar, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder.
  6. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl and stir until well mixed.
  7. Pour mixture into the springform tin, bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Check if it’s done by pushing a cocktail stick or skewer into the middle. If it comes out clean, disco.
  8. Leave the cake to cool, remove from the tin and peel off the baking parchment from the bottom.
  9. Chop up 185g of the remaining chocolate and put in a bowl.
  10. Pour the cream into a heavy pan, add the remaining 30g of caster sugar and stir over a medium heat until it’s just about to boil.
  11. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until you have a smooth silky mixture, the more you stir the thicker the ganache. You could also whip it once cold to make it even thicker!
  12. Cut the cake in half horizontally, spread a little of the ganache between the layers, pour the remaining over the top of the cake and spread to the edges.
  13. Chill the cake in the fridge for half an hour, grate the remaining 15g of chocolate and sprinkle over the ganache on top.
  14. Om, nom, nom!