"I've lost 4st 12lbs"

An overweight mountain biker takes stock one year on

I’ve lost 4st 12Ibs and pedalled a grand total of 3,284 miles. Those miles are primarily commuting ones, but also mountain bike and road bike leisure ones, so there's a bit of a mixture cycling-wise, which is good.

The benefits to me on the health front? Normal blood pressure, no more daily meds (although that’s under constant review), no more snoring, no more sleep apnoea and less aching in my joints, although I still get pain due to my past activities.

I've also got more energy, am less self-conscious about how I look and have a general feeling of wellbeing.

What can’t be measured is my new outlook on doing day-to-day stuff. Before, I’d say, “Maybe tomorrow.” Now, I say, “Let’s crack on!”

I’m doing more things with the family, I’m walking the hills again with wifey and the hounds from hell, and I can buy off-the-peg clothes. That’s thanks to a 10-inch reduction in my waist size.

I had two challenges in June: cycling 100 leisure miles off-road on my MTB – I did 163, so succeeded there – and reaching the '5st lost' mark, which I failed by just 2Ibs.

I'm a bit peeved, but I’m not going to get hung up on 2Ibs. At the moment, I’m at a scheduled rest period, so no cycling for a week. I'm doing upper body and core work, though. Rediscovering stomach muscles is a bit of a painful shock!

A year ago, it was a very slow, six-mile towpath commute into work and a six-mile trip home that left me totally knackered and virtually unable to speak when I got back. Now I arrive at work after an extended 20-mile loop in on the road bike or an extended 16-mile route in via NCR5 and the canal. I feel totally okay and wish time would allow me a longer jaunt.

Last weekend, I did a 43-mile route with my mate along the canals of the Midlands with no bother at all. Obviously, some high-mileage cyclists reading this will be smiling and saying, "No big deal."

But it is a big deal for a still-obese 46-year-old. If you think pedalling 17 stone 6Ibs around is easy then load a rucksack up to that weight and try it!

The year, while very successful, was not without its dark moments, with a mystery malady in February that kept me from pedalling for about two weeks. It may have been the demons playing up rather than any illness; it’s hard to know, as this is more of a mental battle than a physical one. I also had an injured calf muscle that stopped me commuting while it was treated.

But the biggest fight was just getting out on my bike to commute to work during the worst winter in years. Nearly every morning, I’d lie there arguing with myself about driving or cycling in. I'm proud to say I pedalled nearly every time – the wimp demon in me only won twice, I think.

My battle with food is going my way, too. I'm still eating sensibly but am aware that the abuses of the past are only a weak-willed moment away. In its own way, this is the hardest battle of all. It's just like alcoholism – perhaps I’ll always be an addict in relation to food, but it’s something I’ll have to live with and control to the best of my ability.

So what’s in store for year two, then?

I’m going to be pretty boring here and just say, "More of the same." This is a life thing now and I’m just going to crack on.

But I do have some rides planned. The Snowdonia MTB loop that I did 15 years ago is scheduled in for September, and the big road ride to Gwynedd – all 120 miles of it – is going to happen before that, with dates to be confirmed.

So far, this blog is, quite naturally, pretty much me, me, me. But don’t think for one moment that I did this alone. Not a bit of it. I had and still have great support from my family and real-world friends; I certainly couldn’t have got this far without them.

But also don’t underestimate the power the internet gave me. I wouldn’t have started this without it, and that’s a cold, hard fact. More importantly, the words of encouragement I've had on here and on my own daily blog have made this fight just a bit more bearable.

So to you, my dear reader, a heartfelt thank you – you did more for me than you could possibly know!

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