“Targets have always been a bit of a double-edged sword for me”

Clive Chapman is starting the New Year as he means to go on – by beating his old ways…

Clive in 2008, before he rediscovered cycling

So, what did the Christmas break bring then? Obviously I had to watch what I ate and drank, but equally I didn’t become a diet Nazi. Life is for living after all!


Before Christmas I’d been stuck at 19 stone 4Ibs for a few weeks so I do expect a weight gain when I jump on the scales next Friday. I’m leaving it for a week of commuting so the increase doesn’t hit too hard. Am I kidding myself? Probably, but it’s a bit of kidology that’ll do for me.

During the break I did go out every other day for either an off-road pedal or, if the conditions were bad, I dragged my commuter out and did a road ride. You can see the gory details with footage taken here. It’s just an excuse to test the Muvi cam I had for Christmas, really! I think it’ll be a useful commuting tool when all of those assassination attempts I get on an average commute through Birmingham come to court!

Due to conditions I did by necessity spend an awful lot of time keeping my bikes clean. Especially the Ridgeback, whose 20-year-old frame is starting to show signs of wear and tear to say the least. I’d love to get it stripped and resprayed; we’ve come a long way together over the years and I’m very attached to the old girl!

My annual trip to the doc’s was on Christmas Eve: my BP was down 12 points (whatever that means) and according to my doctor I have lost over 10% of my bodyweight since July. He was quite frankly amazed at my progress and asked me what my targets were now. Targets have always been a bit of a double-edged sword for me. I can get quite obsessive about them and do everything in my power to the exclusion of everything else to hit them. Then once I’ve achieved them I’ll go back to my old ways. Hence the porker sat here typing this now.

Due to this old mindset I’ve changed how I approach things there are no longer any targets for me; I’ll just keep the cycle commute going, start to off-road a bit more, carry on watching what I eat and drink and see where it leads me. The doctor seemed pretty happy with that, although he did say I’ve lost a fair bit of weight in a relatively short time. But that’s what happens to my body when I do the pedal and changed eating habits thing. As I said earlier I have actually levelled out at a loss of 3 stone so I’m not too worried. I’m sure that the New Year and better weather will kickstart me again to carry on getting lighter.

The off-roading has come as a bit of a shock to the system – I’m used to 24 miles a day of road and towpath work on my commute to and from work, but some of the climbs I’ve attempted off-road where I live (Lickey Hills, Clent Hills and Waseley Hills) have absolutely broken me, to the extent that I’ve had to walk some of them. I know I’m ten years older than when I last did them, but bloody hell, dragging 19 and a bit stones up a 20% gradient is hard work. As my old Sergeant Major used to say: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

After the pedal to the top of Beacon Hill a couple of days ago I can’t have too much weakness left! I felt like I was dying and it took a while before I was able to speak, never mind carry on pedalling over to the other side of the hill! As a bit of a morale booster, there was no way I could have attempted that climb, never mind succeeded at it, a couple of months ago. So onwards and upwards!


Don’t forget though, I’m nearly 46 years old, fat, broken and only just back pedalling; my successes should be judged relative to those important nuggets of information. But I seem to be doing okay so far. Compared with the end of June when I started this, I have quite literally come miles and miles!

I was morbidly obese – then I rediscovered cycling