“You should buy this kit; it’s called Fat Lad at the Back”
“These shorts would be great for you; they are called Fat Lass at the Back”
“This top would suit you; you can buy it from Fat Lad at the Back”
People of all shapes and sizes often ask me for kit recommendations, but I am not sure if I can say any of those sentences out loud without losing friends, clients or offending someone!
Fat Lad at The Back was the nickname of Richard Bye, the founder of the company, and is a term of endearment. The company admit it is a touchy subject having the marmite effect – either you love it or hate it, but they bravely persevered.
Fat Lad at the Back (FLAB) is a sportswear brand born in Yorkshire, with the clothing manufactured by a family-run company in Italy. The Fat Lad brand was originally created for what their website calls “Mr Averages, MAMIL’s with a 44” chest and a 38” waist”, but it quickly became apparent that there were bigger cyclists so it introduced larger sizes including a Spare Tyre range for the larger build. A women’s range was soon created, which took into consideration women’s curves and comfort.
A Twitter conversation the morning of The London Bike Show suggested I should speak to FLAB at the show after a discussion about the lack of kit for women who are not “a flat chested size 8-12” with one rider asking “how can these new brands be “women’s” when the biggest chest size they do it a 14” and another saying “it is a huge barrier to women coming into the sport”.
I spoke to several designers of women’s cycling clothing at the show and did indeed find the largest size, called XL, was only a UK14-16. One designer I spoke with said unfortunately they just can justify the additional expenses needed to design, produce and hold stock of the larger sizes which are less popular.
Instead of just sizing up the clothing the FLAB garments have been redesigned so they properly fit and flatter different sizes of rider. Some items state the name boldly in large text across the garments, other are more subtle with just a small logo. I have to confess that having ‘Fat Lass at the Back’ across my bottom was a great training inspiration as I pedalled furiously to disprove the label!
I tried the Flabularse Shorts (RRP £49.99) and the short sleeved ladies Lanterne Rouge Jersey (RRP 49.99) both available from size 8 to size 26.
The shorts fitted well and had some nice details including a draw string for the waist and a soft stretchy panel across the tummy allowing you to pull them right up over the belly area. I normally wear bib shorts and think generally bibs are more flattering with smoother lines, but agree shorts certainly make toilet stops easier and mean there is no need to remove a jersey, which some riders may feel self-conscious about, especially if having to go al fresco! Unfortunately as there was no knot tied in the draw string it had been lost in the waistband prior to me wearing, but with a bit of fiddling I retrieved it. The shorts are black with flattering seams, a large logo on the leg and across the lower back. The pad was comfortable on long road rides, the mountain bike and on the turbo.
The jersey is noticeably longer than my other jerseys, this is great for us ladies who like to pull things down over our hips and bottom and there is certainly no chance of any bare flesh when standing upright. The colour changes gradually down the top with the darker, more flattering colours over the lower torso and brighter colours across the bust and shoulders drawing the eye away from the areas we are usually more self conscious about. The sleeves are loose and long with no restrictive bands. A zipped pocket is handy for your valuables and a full length zip is always a plus in jerseys of this price range.
Both items washed well and I would happily recommend them if I could find a polite way of doing so!
Fat Lad at The Back has become a community, not just a brand, with riders involved in the development of new products and social media filled with riders’ photos, comments and inspirational rides. The company encourages everyone to have a go, have fun and enjoy their sport.
When former rugby player Alastair Little was forced to cut his 25-year career short after a life-changing neck injury, he was devastated and soon piled on weight as his life spiralled towards depression. He managed to turn his life around after discovering a love for cycling. Riding with friends at Fat Lad at the Back, Alastair took to the road and after a few months he started to see the results, losing more than five stone and dramatically boosting his confidence.
Alastair said: “It was the motivation and help I received from the guys at FLAB which really inspired me to stick at it and lose the weight and not only that, I enjoyed the social aspect to cycling, and suddenly sport was bringing me back to life again.”
FLAB introduced Alastair to other, likeminded riders who taught him that he wasn’t alone.
FLAB Sportive – 8th May 2016
In a bid to further welcome novice cyclists, FLAB has introduced a new 25-mile event alongside its 50 and 75-mile distance sportives, taking place on the Yorkshire roads in May and in the Chiltern Hills in October. Looking after riders will be experienced FLAMbassadors riding in the sportives to encourage and support riders on the journey.
Fat Lad in Charge Richard Bye, who has 20 years’ experience cycling many of Yorkshire’s most recognised routes, said: “This year we have added a 25 miler as we hope to inspire some new riders who may fancy a sportive, but have never thought they could!”
“The food stops are also legendary and include black pudding scotch eggs and lots of other stuff which our fat Lads and Lasses like, as well as the usual fruit and flapjack based options. We also have a BBQ afterwards which went down really well last year, this means people hang about and chat and share rather than just getting in their cars and leaving.”
Richard went on to say “Since founding FLAB we have been overwhelmed by how many people have come to us saying how much confidence they’ve gained with our support”
You can enter the sportive here and can find FLAB on the web http://fatladattheback.com/ on Facebook and on Twitter
According to the Chia Charge website the word Chia comes from the Mayan word for ‘strength’ and messengers could run all day with just a small handful of chia seeds! Apparently Aztec warriors survived on nothing but chia during conquests and Native Americans could march for 24 hours on a teaspoon of chia seeds! Modern day Tarahumara Indians in Mexico still carry chia with them during ultra runs through the desert.
I tried the Ultimate Chia Seed Bundle which is £10 delivered to your door. The bundle contains 1 Chia Charge Cacao & Cranberry Protein Bar, 1 Chia Charge Trail Mix, 1 Honey Trail Mix, 1 Original Flapjack with Sea Salt Flakes, 2 Mini Banana Flapjacks and 200g of Chia Seeds.
The trail mix didn’t make it to a trail, I demolished it as the desk and it was lovely. The seeds have been added successfully to smoothies and used as a breakfast topping and the website blog has lots of recipes to inspire you.
And…… I am now officially addicted to the flapjacks!
I have taken them on rides and counted the minutes until I can eat them! The full size flapjack was enough to fuel an 85km steady endurance ride, I ate it in two pieces, as at 80g and over 350 calories it is a substantial bar. The seeds keep you entertained for at least 30 minutes after eating the bars as they stick in your teeth, but I didn’t mind this as they gradually soften and it gave me something to take the mind of the miles! The bar travels well and didn’t become too hard despite the freezing temperatures.
My favourite is definitely the original flapjack with sea salt flakes, but the banana ones were delicious too and didn’t have that horrible artificial taste you often get with banana flavoured products; probably because there is nothing artificial about them. No flavourings, preservatives or colourings are added to the bars, just real sun dried bananas!
The protein bar is vegan, wheat free and made with cashews, sultanas, cranberries, dates, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, cacao powder, goji berries, cacao nibs, cacao butter and sea salt flakes – what’s not to like!?
Tim Taylor the man behind Chia Charge, a food technologist and runner says “It is my belief that food, in particular sports nutrition, should be more than just fuel to keep the body going. Having tried a few sport nutrition and energy products I came to the conclusion that whoever makes these things was at the back of the queue when taste buds were handed out! A few years ago I started developing my own formulations in the kitchen at home. I wanted to create food that tastes delicious and helps you perform, the result of which was Chia Charge”
Chia seeds are 20% protein, 20% omega 3, high in antioxidants and fibre as well as low in sugar. They have a mild, nutty flavour and give a controlled energy release and promote fast recovery.
I have already bought some more of the flapjacks which are perfect fuel with fast acting carbohydrates to give you an immediate burst of energy and more complex carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels. The protein and Omega 3 and 6 will aid recovery and the sea salt flakes will also help electrolyte replacement, but far more importantly they taste amazing!
Chia Charge stockist are listed on the website and include a good variety of running, outdoor and cycling shops as well as Ocado or you can buy direct from the website with free postage over £25.
There is a new, no added sugar, berry flapjack on the way and I would love to try the nut butters.
You can find Chia Charge on YouTube here on Twitter @runningtimt + @chiacharge and like on Facebook
The flapjack really is amazing, I keep eating it!!
10/10 for the original flapjack, definitely addicted
Does What it Says on the pack
10/10 yummy bars, a natural superfood and no rubbish added, great fuel for riding
9/10 a box of 20 is £32 with 3 extra free bars and free postage so comparable to other bars on the market, but the price does go down the more you buy so only £25/box if you buy 5 which is great value
9/10 2 varieties of flapjack with a new one on the way, protein bars, raw seeds, nut butters, trail mix and the option to buy a mixed pack to try everything out
Easy to Eat
8.5/10 although I found far too easy to eat and could eat a whole box they are larger than normal energy bars so I found half was plenty which means faffing around returning the other half to your pocket and they do start to crumble a little once opened. Having said that the mini size is perfect. The bars travelled well and didn’t go hard in the cold.
93% it gets our star buy rating!
The secret training products are relatively new to the scene; the main man behind these intriguing new products is Tim Lawson. Tim also being the founder of the well-known nutritional products SIS (Science in Sport) has vast experience with developing the best nutrition products for over 20 years. Tim also being a fantastic athlete himself is working with athletes from all levels from beginners right through to elite athletes.
The brand Secret Training have started out with The Strip System which includes:
Pins in a Tin
Micro-Fibre Body Cloths
Post Race Wash
All these products can be bought separately or as a Race Day Personal Care Kit (£49.99); this means all the products come in a tidy bag to keep them all together. Having used these products since they were first launched they have accompanied me to all my races. I definitely believe they are a worthwhile investment towards your racing and personal care, helping you to keep clean and comfortable while riding your bike. There is nothing better than products that make your cycling more enjoyable. Having one bag of essentials when you’re racing and travelling filled with all the essential bits and bobs you need (and often forget) is brilliant.
More recently the team at Secret Training have been developing nutritional products which were properly introduced on the 7th January 2015 at their open event. This presentation consisted of the riders and media getting their first taste of the Stealth Gels and Stealth Super Hydration Drinks with the Strip products also being featured. While trying the assortment of gels (Banana, Lemon & Lime, Citrus, Tropical, Berry), my personal favourite was obvious – the Banana Gel, which seemed to be a popular first choice with a lot of the cyclists present. Tim was there to talk through the science behind the Gels and how they work, unlike some other brands gels the Banana gels actually have real banana in them! The gels can be bought individually for £1.25, £17.50 for a pack of 14. The Berry Energy Gel with Caffeine & Betaine and Banana Gel cost a little more at £24.50 for 14 or £1.75 for single shots, I’m not sure why this is but I’m guessing it’s to do with the cost of the fruit and caffeine ingredients being more expensive or the process involved in integrating them into the gel. As well as trying the Gels the Super Hydration Drinks were a big hit with me coming in a wide range of flavours; Lemon & Lime, Blackcurrant & Elderflower, Mango & Passionfruit and also Lemon Tea. They retail from £15.99 for a selection pack of 20x 14g sachets; each sachet mixes with 500ml of water – to £24.99 for a 600g tub of a single flavour, so they are competitively priced. Each of the flavours are well balanced and relatively neutral, with no overpowering flavours or after taste. The gels and hydration drinks are easy to consume and enjoyable, unlike some other nutritional products I have previously used which have been hard to stomach in the quantities you need to aid your performance.
From speaking to Tim I have found out they are currently working on developing recovery drinks, so there is a lot more to come from this new brand and I can’t wait to see the results. Furthermore Tincoff-Saxo riders are being supported by all products produced by Secret Training, they will be providing valuable feedback for the brand to enable the development of flavours and product ranges, the aim is to provide exactly what riders need and want.
CyclingShorts.cc give Secret Training products a Star Buy rating of 97%:
Personal Care Kit – 98/100
The Personal care kit is unique as I don’t know anything like it.
Nutrition Products – 96/100
In my opinion the nutrition products are the best, better than SIS, Tim said it was very difficult to make ones better but he thinks they have – I have to agree!
I really like the products, try them for yourself, the secret is out!
You can check out the range at: www.secret-training.cc