Amateur Hour


Dear Zwift,

If you go and read yesterday’s blog post, you’ll see that I’ve finally accepted that your Virtual World is a great place to cycle. However, not everything is brilliant,  especially from my particular position in Watopia. The prospect of taking part in group rides is frankly too frightening to even consider. It will be some time before I feel comfortable considering a workout. For me, there is the spectre of intimidation to overcome, but that’s not the whole story. Let me start at the beginning.


I’ve played in a number of MMO’s online over the last 20 years. Online ‘gaming’ has a bit of a reputation, with justification, for being elitist and not really grasping inclusivity. I’ve tried my best to not bring these hangovers to your virtual world, but some of the general chat I see whilst cycling is a reminder that everybody has a way to go before we get welcoming virtual environments. On that front, I keep hoping I’ll see a member of the crowd at the Ride London circuits in a wheelchair, or with some kind of physical disability. Maybe that is something you could consider adding moving forward.

For me, however, the biggest single problem coming into the World of Zwift is my perceived level of knowledge about cycling. I arrived frankly with not a clue, despite my husband having completed Ride London, more than once. FTP remains the equivalent of transforming base metals into gold, for all the real understanding I have of it. There’s a horrible fear of even starting a Group Ride because if I can’t keep up, it will feel like failure. Some of this is my own paranoia and uncertainty, that much is inescapable. However, being a woman and 51 years old, I don’t fit into the ‘average’ cycling demographic in the first place.


I think there are ways you could improve the experience of welcoming new cyclists. On my 62k ride yesterday, there was plenty of time to think about what would make this whole experience less like an exercise in self-reliance… however, don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for my hand to be held the entire time, or expecting a bunch of free rewards for just logging in. This isn’t an MMO after all, and I appreciate the amount of work involved. What I’m suggesting is a way to allow solo riders, with no group affiliations, the means to feel as if there could be a way to belong, that does not involve simply vanishing into the anonymity of a massive online cycling group.

Ask an Expert…?


What would be really useful for someone like me is the means to talk to someone who understands all this stuff: you know, what FTP means, why I need to learn to pace myself, eating and drinking the right things. In my particular case, I’ve been using a Personal Trainer for a couple of years, who’s now a good friend and has helped fill in a lot of gaps in knowledge. She, however, is as lost as to how you can manage to keep cadence at certain levels without your heart rate imploding… so I’d love to be able to have someone in the game to whom I could ask questions, sort of like how GM’s work in MMO’s. Someone could use your stats stored online as the starting point to work out how you might be doing stuff wrong, perhaps in tandem with Strava. Maybe it could be a future part of a Premium Subscription package.

A Better Starting Experience…


When I started ‘cold’ the entire interface and concept of Zwifting were, I’ll be honest, a bit bewildering. In my MMO there are ‘starting areas’, where characters spend their first couple of hours learning how stuff works, killing low-level mobs and generally interacting with the virtual world around them. I have to say, for those of us with zero cycling sense, this would be really rather useful, and educational. It could also open up the possibility for you to pair up with places like Gyms and Leisure Complexes where you could ‘learn’ to virtually cycle, thus allowing the strength and confidence to go and do the real thing. That’s what got me here, after all. If all else failed, more explanatory dialogues that could be toggled off and on to explain the basics ‘in-game’ would not go amiss.

Better Visual Customisation :D


I’d love to be able to design my own kit. I’d love to be able to pick separate shirt and shorts. I know you’ve had issues with the avatar looks before, and frankly, I’m not that bothered about physical, but some variation in body types would be lovely, if only for realism. I don’t mind admitting I still have some pounds to shift, and I’m never going to look as good as Victoria Pendleton. Of course, all that matters is doing the miles, but maybe it would be an idea to allow me a bit more of a say in making the little person who is me a better actual representation of what I am.

These aren’t criticisms, simply suggestions. My body shape changes, improvement in strength and stamina plus a real enjoyment of being on a bike really have come as a result of using Zwift. This is the happiest I have ever been about my body, and without your training programme, it would not have happened. I just find myself wondering how many other people you might be able to attract, especially with the launch of your running programme, if you made the entry into it a bit easier and more palatable for those people who are not a) natural athletes and b) as tech savvy as others.

Thank you for changing my life, and I look forward to watching how Watopia changes and evolves in the years to come.

Yours gratefully,

Sarah xxx


You’re Not Alone

Once upon a time, I would have sat and felt sorry for myself today. There would have been moping about, and sad moments, with wistful stares and quite possibly tears. However, I’m not the person I used to be. Last night there was a forceful moment of revelation: other people do not dictate your happiness anymore. If I am to truly evolve out of my old state and into the person I truly wish to become, there is a part of my life holding things back, which has done for far too long.

This morning, therefore, I took a walk into the unknown.


The initial signs are encouraging, but I am aware of not getting my hopes up too high. However, the fact remains that I’ll never affect long-term, significant change in any aspect of my life without some pain and effort. Therefore, if it matters enough, it is time to start altering those portions of existence I am not happy with. After a month of my own content being very well received, it is time to put my social needs back into some kind of order.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Ain’t No Easy Way

For the last week, I’ve been staring at this page of the British Heart Foundation’s website. Right now I can do approximately 20 miles in an hour, but that’s on a static bike with no distractions and nobody else to worry about falling into. If it is just me, everything is fine. If there is anybody else then a lot of other stuff comes into play, and I panic.

I think it is time to bite the bullet and just do what I know has to be done to save my own soul.

This morning came the scheduled realisation that I cannot fix everything. Yes, I absolutely should continue to try making a difference, however, and it is the opportunity with this sponsored ride to do just that. I effectively ‘buy’ a place on the ride by giving £50 and then promising I can raise £300 minus Gift Aid. This should not be a stretch all told, and it is a very worthy charity that grabs the money… except I realise now what the problem is. I’d want to ride for a mental health charity instead. I should go investigate if that is a possibility, and if it is then go apply to someone whom I feel happier getting my money.

Yet again, this whole thing boils down to principle, and not simply taking the easy road to a solution.


I know why I woke up like this. Last night, someone whom I follow made a comment about feeling left out on Social media, which linked in with a discussion I had in the Real World with my husband. Life is not about you expecting people to include you, or assuming that because you’re feeling unwell others should treat you differently. Sure, there can be sympathy and accommodation, but at some point feeling sorry for yourself will become detrimental. The best thing I did for myself yesterday wasn’t sit on a sofa and work my way through TV shows, it was getting myself on a bike and challenging my own concepts of self worth and dependence. Your experiences (of course) will vary but for me? If I allow complacency to dictate my actions, good work simply evaporates.

It is high time I grasped that change is constant and often vital at even my lowest ebb.

In the end, I do what I feel is right to move forward. This is not a popularity contest, or a means to become a better person. If you judge people simply by the way they respond to you via Twitter or Facebook? You will eventually be on a hiding to nothing. I need to spend less time worrying about what people think, and more time getting on with making a career for myself, because nobody else is going to do that except me. If principles matter, then it is time to stick by them and move forward.

If I want this enough, I just have to get on with it.

Photoshop Handsome

Not nearly enough of my life has been lived on principle. Expediency is no longer something I feel comfortable entertaining. Occasionally, reality holds up signs that you cannot easily choose to ignore and, in my case, the last 72 hours have been filled with offline portents. Forget the disaster that’s been my online life for the moment: waking up to snow this morning and the realisation that I’ve managed to complete some significant real-world milestones, but that others are a long way from even being doable. Life is about choices and making the best of what you have.

That means that certain things need to change.


The more sharp-eyed amongst you will notice that there are now a number of donation buttons on this site. These are here as stop-gaps as I readdress what it is I want to do with writing, as I wait to see what Patreon has to say as a result of the last 72 hours. There is a desire to provide people who want to offer support all possible options, and that’s why (even as a committed tea drinker) you can now buy me a coffee via Ko-fe. However, at the back of my mind, I am now reasonably settled in principle as to what will happen going forward. If you want to understand those thought processes, you need the Writing Blog.

This place will remain as fitness, ranting, geeking and an increasing interest in getting back to reading and crafting. All this will be the balance of what remains very much a career in writing, however I choose to make that happen. There are other desires hidden too, things that will eventually get to see the light of day once there’s enough time and space to allow the ideas to grow. For now, I’ll be sticking to what I’m good at.

If I keep doing that, it will all work out in the end.

Underneath it All


You cannot choose the people you inspire, or that will like you and most crucially of all, however hard you try, some people will never be your friends. I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way over the years: there’ll always be someone who you think you’d like to get to know better and then something will happen to ensure that never comes to pass. The last situation in which this transpired came back to haunt me at the weekend, a mutual tweeting someone who I reached out to but… on reflection, it wouldn’t have worked. They wouldn’t have been the problem, either. I would have ruined it.

The people that have helped chart the course over the last few years have been getting thank you’s this month (as I mentioned back at the start of November) and with the last four this week comes to pass an event that has made a lot of sense in the wider scope of what I’d like to happen going forward. You can give blanket thanks to people on Social media all day and night, knowing that many users simply read what they need or want into situations regardless of your desirers. Naming names is the way people understand how much they matter to you, pure and simple.


Sometimes, people get disappointed. They put a lot more emphasis on you than is the case the other way. When I do a cursory account check of new people to follow, it is always with half an eye on who else they consider interesting. It means if you’re reading this and your Twitter friends list is full of female ‘online personalities’ and porn robots, I’m fairly confident we won’t have a lot in common. I’m pushing more and more for those people who understand that participation isn’t just complaining online about how unfair life is, those willing and prepared to give back more than they take out. Thinking needs to be the default these days, however tough that might be on a daily basis. That means not only considering what you say, but more crucially what you don’t.


Having survived the early stage of Patreon, it is time to start raising the bar. Persuading people to give you money (especially in this day and age) is a tough ask. I have big plans starting this week, and need to get more people on board, who are prepared to take a chance on me and what I believe in. We don’t need to be friends for this to happen, either. However, that might happen, or it might not… a lot of it isn’t up to me to begin with. Life isn’t a predictable set of occurrences. If we get lucky, then so be it.

Sometimes, just inspiring people to be better is enough.

Stupid White People


TECHNICALLY the book I’m referring to in today’s title is entitled ‘Stupid White Men’ but after last night’s episode post Gym, plus some other online tomfoolery? All will become clear.

This week, I’ve watched people doing stuff they thought nobody else would notice. It’s happened on social media, in the real world and even in my own house. Not thinking when there’s nobody else around means you’ll only end up hurting yourself, in the end. Doing it in public? Quite a different thing. The level of arrogance and selfishness this week I’ve watched exhibited by people who, in many cases, should know fucking better than this, has been staggering.


From today’s Guardian.

You can’t tell other people to treat you nicely when you already punched them in the face, Mr Politician. You don’t dismiss other people’s comments over cultural appropriation with a clearly-undisguised arrogance. You most certainly do not cover your own arse with thinly-veiled excuses and a well-paid lawyer anymore. There’s a fucking World of Respect missing around these parts of late and it is really beginning to separate those people who want a decent, well-represented future and those who are just thinking with their genitalia.

It isn’t just men either, but for the sake of the current feeding frenzy in the media, white blokes (in the main) get to be the Bad Guys. I’m really sorry to the large raft of decent men out there as a result. I’m fairly confident I know who these people are in my own sphere, but who I can now trust outside of that is now hugely in flux. Entertainers, sportsmen, media celebrities… anybody who didn’t really do a decent job of being a human being up until this point is potentially about to get swept away in a tide of quite right and proper backlash. If you treat people without respect, especially in the spotlight? There’s no longer anywhere to hide.

However, all of my issues this week have been with stupid white women, hence the ‘people’ referred to in the title. Women who can’t see past their own basic desires. Women whose notion of respect is minimal at best… and the list goes on. Oh, and I utterly count myself as stupid here, because I did something utterly wankstainy this week and will be paying the price for quite some time. The wider point here, that to make society better overall is not just one group of people’s responsibility. Pointing fingers at each other and having someone to blame is all well and good, but what happens afterwards?

How do we as human beings stop this cycle of stupidity happening once and for all?


30 years ago, the Kings Cross Tube Fire killed 31 people when a lit match ignited a wooden escalator. Because of this horrific event, over the last three decades attitudes to smoking in public have radically altered. Fire safety protocols have changed, the Underground is now full of people trained to deal with emergencies and wooden escalators are all but a memory. Yet smoking still kills thousands of people who don’t ever light a cigarette and tobacco companies remain a massive force in developing countries… and nobody seems to worry about what vaping may do long-term to their health because nobody’s had enough time to do a study.

In your own home, personal freedoms allow you to conduct yourself as you wish… unless you step foot on the Internet, and then everything changes. Except some people quite clearly cannot distinguish where their personal freedom ends and common decency begins. Social media is just making this worse, to the point where it is becoming abundantly apparent certain individuals truly believe their private outlook is what should be the public norm, despite the massive damage such attitudes could have to those who are genuinely vulnerable or susceptible. History will teach us important lessons if we stop and allow it to do so, but the truly innocent around us may already be blighted by bad decision making or stupidity because… well, if nobody’s died, what’s the issue?


Society’s downfall is everybody’s responsibility to shoulder. Yes, even the people at the bottom of the pile could technically be considered culpable, but you’d have a hard time in my mind apportioning anything but the minimum of blame to any human being who looks at another and, regardless of skin colour, ethnicity or wealth, treats them as an equal. What we do now as human beings is look for blame: it was that actor, that politician, that sportswoman who caused the problem. 

Perhaps the time is fast approaching where the reaction to such events is not indignation, but action from EVERYBODY. Teach each other, learn from these mistakes, find ways in your own communities and workplaces to stop such things happening. Don’t smile and laugh when someone attacks someone else or simply ignore what you saw. Make choices based on what takes place, discuss these with other people and then approach the people concerned with your issues. Most importantly, if you don’t feel that the person will be responsive or even listen to your argument, warn others of their behaviour, and stop taking snide potshots at them via subtweets on Social media.

If we all try harder, shit might actually start changing and stay that way.



Right then.

Yesterday was, without doubt, one of the best I’ve had for organisation for some time. It helps that the back of work was broken on Sunday, and now I’m left with the process of scheduling (which will happen after this.) Then it’s all about finishing off outstanding stuff, and starting the next batch of Things to Do. After three months, there’s a schedule that works. 

Next up, it is time to make some important changes to Social media.


I now have a ‘Professional’ Twitter AND Instagram, and having worked out how to use the app in Windows (how smart is that?) I can prep all my artwork beforehand and still schedule it. This is unbelievably useful, and will encourage me to further organise my sorry arse better. Then there are the changes to how social media is consumed:

  • No social media before bed, or before I sit down at the PC first thing in the morning
  • ABSOLUTELY NO starting discussions without being 100% awake and attentive
  • No social media when bored ^^
  • Complete removal of Twitter (and all online media) from places where I relax or sleep
  • Regulated use of social media when I’m supposed to be sociable
  • Making time for ‘silence’ and times when electronic interaction does not happen

This is a lot but really, it all matters. If I look at the instances when I have gotten myself into trouble, 90% of them are due to engaging with people at the start and end of days, plus when I shouldn’t be using Social media at all. So, maybe if I can keep at this for a month it’ll become habit too. The lack of a tablet at bedtime for two nights running has made for some quality sleep, I hope this isn’t just a blip.


The plan here is to try and be less reactionary and more reflective. This is fairly atypical of my life up to this point, but I’d like to believe that even at this age I can change and become more mellow. Sure, there are still going to be days when the table gets flipped, but at least now I’ll be better prepared to clear up the mess made afterwards, rather than just stomp off in a teenage huff and leave it to somebody else.

If I can get at least a part of all this to stick, it will totally be taken it as progress.