Guest post: Chris Spann
Myself and Toby have quite similar stories; both of us work in techy, desk based jobs and had let our weight spiral out of control. In fact, we were both about the same weight when we decided to make the change (I was slightly heavier at 21 stone 5lbs).
Both of us also purchased our bikes on bike to work schemes, and we have very nearly the same bike (I believe Toby’s is the Specialized P1, which is based on the Specialized HardRock, which is what I currently ride).
We’ve also both given up alcohol as a result of its incredible ability to make people pile the pounds on, and we both now weigh roughly the same (Toby is about 4lbs lighter than me now – 3lbs on a good day).
Now, I promise you that we aren't one and the same person – While Toby simply made the decision to start losing weight off his own back, I'm afraid it took becoming homeless and my long-term relationship falling apart (two events that are very related) for me to realise that I needed to do something about my weight. Plus, I actually started my journey on an exercise bike: I wasn't brave enough to be seen out in public on the bike initially, owing largely to the fact that I turned into a huge, sweaty lump every time I got on it.
However, when my pushbike arrived (it’s this one if you’re interested) I couldn't wait to get out and about – certainly, the first ride I went on quickly turned from a quick round the block trek to an 8 mile ride that left me absolutely shattered, but so happy to feel the blood coursing and the endorphins flowing it made me wonder why I had denied myself this feeling for so long – I used to love cycling as a child and I only stopped at 16 when cycling stopped being quite so “cool”.
I decided that now I had my bike and I knew how much I enjoyed going out on it again, it was time to start pushing myself. I planned a ten mile route that essentially consisted of riding very quickly down the hill that my hometown is on, then very slowly (very, very slowly in my case) riding back up it.
It hurt, I don’t mind telling you. It hurt a lot. But you know what? I did it. Then the next week, I did it again. And again. Each time I got a little bit quicker, and each time it got a little bit easier. At this point I had already lost about 60lbs altogether, but the weight continued to tumble off me as I pushed myself to get faster and better – and now, less than a year later I can average 12 miles per hour, and have done a few solid 20 mile runs in well less than two hours. These aren't staggering numbers, I know – but I'm no endurance rider, and I am riding a heavy bike that’s not really designed for the amount of road miles it sees.
Like Toby, I've not become one of *those* bikers; I'm no lycra warrior that glides up hills and does 300 miles before breakfast on Saturday; I don’t look pretty when I’m out on my bike (anyone who’s seen how white my thighs are will attest to that), but I just don’t care, I really don’t.
Cycling changed my life, it really did. Without I wouldn't be taking on (and getting my ass soundly kicked by) the hundred press-up challenge at the moment, I wouldn’t have taken up Yoga – and I wouldn't get to enjoy going on rides with my new girlfriend. If you think we sound like one of those sickening couples who exercise together and spend the weekend baking, then you’re probably right.
Chris spends his days writing about finances, and spent years telling people to get healthy to lower the cost of their life cover. Looking back, that was pretty hypocritical; good thing he got off his backside and out on two wheels, really…