Guest blogger: How cycling changed my life
My guest blogger spent years telling overweight people that they pay more for their insurance. One day he realised that he was being a hypocrite and decided to do something about. Here he reveals how cycling changed his life.
About a year ago, my life was a mess. I was a depressed, severely overweight insomniac who was camping out in a friend’s spare room after my long-term relationship had fallen apart.
Unlike every other time I’d decided to change my life, lose some weight and get happy again, this time I actually did something about it. My friend had an exercise bike that had was unused – so I took the opportunity to commandeer it for my own purposes.
From that day, the small Welsh village of Cefn-y-Bedd sang with the sound of a fat man pushing pedals for 90 minutes a week. I dread to think how much sweat was shed in that room, and I’m not afraid to admit that the first couple of 30 minute sessions I would struggle to walk the few steps to the shower cubicle. I wasn’t in good shape, but the endorphins the workout provided made it all worthwhile (and it also gave me an opportunity to check out new bands. I love music so spending half an hour pedalling was a great opportunity to whack my headphones in and check out some new music).
Summer rolled round and I finally moved into a place I could sort of call my own – I was sharing with three other guys, but at least I wasn’t sleeping in someone’s spare room any more. Anyway, this place had a shed, and it wasn’t on the third floor, which meant one thing: I could get my mountain bike back.
I’d bought the bike for one of those bike-to-work schemes and then shamefully never used it. It had seen about 2 miles worth of use that had left me a wreck, and then it had been left in the shed where it did nothing but collect dust. However, I was now ready to get out there and ride. By the time I got it back I was four stone (nearly 60lbs) lighter than the last time we’d crossed paths, and I was absolutely raring to go.
The first time I went out for a bike ride planned to do a mile or two, and I ended up doing eight. Feeling my lungs and calves burn while the July air whipped against me was incredible. How had I let this feeling pass me by for so long?
The town I had moved to is on top of a hill – it’s impossible to leave it without going down a pretty steep incline, and as such rides normally involved an incredible, speedy first half coupled by an agonising, slow crawl back up, but I loved every second.
The amazing results
I’ve stopped losing weight now (I’ve lost over 100lbs altogether) but I’ve kept the cycling up. I’m no endurance rider (my average ride length is around 10 miles), but I love every second – even more so now that I’ve got my new girlfriend interested in cycling and we can hit the roads together If you think we sound like that annoying couple who exercise together, you’re probably right; we also go to Yoga together, too.
It’s worth pointing out that I’m still very much an ordinary guy. I’m not a Lycra warrior and I’ve no idea what it is that squeaks at the moment (I’m not even sure if it’s me or the bike) – but I wouldn’t go back to where I used to be for the world.
Cycling really did change my life for the better, and I’d urge anyone who’s thinking about getting on a bike to do it right away. You don’t have to spend thousands on gear, just pick up a bike, throw on a helmet and get outside!
Chris writes for Moneysupermarket.com’s life cover team.