Monday 4 June 2007

The Fat Cyclist

In January I entered the Banjo Brothers' Big Bad Bulky Biker Bodyfat (B7) Challenge, featured on the Fat Cyclist's blog. The idea behind this was to challenge the Fat Cyclist (who is really not very fat at all) to a bet as to who would lose the most weight by August 1, 2007. If you beat him, you get a Fat Cyclist jersey and if he beats you you have to ante up a suitable prize. I offered him an autographed copy of Peter Nye's excellent book on the Six Day Bike Races in America (see my review on this blog), along with a copy of Tim Krabbe's wonderful novel, "the Rider." The formula for determining the winner is weight loss + 3 mile time trial improvement and the Fat Cyclist has even come up with a little on-line calculator to determine your score.

After a few months of watching everyone shed weight like falling snow, I was feeling disappointed that I was not keeping up in the least. But patience is indeed a virtue and I have moved from nowhere to mid-field to third place to, possibly, the top of the current podium in the passing months. I have dropped from 191 pounds to 169, and from 15 per cent bodyfat to 10. I feel great and my cycling has improved markedly, especially in hill climbing. Even if the Fat Cyclist beats me at this point, I will gratefully pay up as this has been a pretty cheap way to lose weight! And it has been fun as the entire group of perhaps 40 contestants has shared the pain and the gain since January in exchanges on the blog. I even have a sidebet with Tom in Pennsylvania, the winner to pay for beer. And believe me, beer has not been as high on my list of consumables for the last six months as I would have liked. Nor pizza. Nor pastry.

What has been the secret to my success so far? Years ago, I read a magazine article about losing weight. It was called "Half the Man I Used to Be," and the author had gone from nearly 300 pounds to 175. He said that losing weight is easy and any 5 year old can learn how to do it following a two-part process. Which is: a) eat less and b) exercise more. It all comes down to this. Of course, he did not talk about things like willpower and focus and all that but he was entirely right. I have been keeping track of everything I eat at and although it is a pain to do the entries, reviewing them has been most educational. All kinds of food are the Enemy in that they will give you lots of calories and no food value. Better to load up on vegetables and fruits and feel full than the empty calories of sugar and white flour. I also consume a lot of smoothies as I discovered that my protein intake was too low for a person training seriously for cycling, so I have been buying protein powder, frozen fruit and soymilk in big quantities.

The Special Edition FC Jersey

Returning to the Fat Cyclist, his blog has been very motivational for me and it was sadness that we all learned that his wife, Susan, is battling breast cancer. As I grow older, I am shocked to realize the number of people that I know or have known that have suffered from cancer in different forms. I have worn a LiveStrong wristband for years and it reminds me of people gone and people who will make it through this terrible illness. The Fat Cyclist has a new version of his orange-and-black jersey: this one is in pink and black and is a special edition and will raise money for his wife's treatment, for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and for a trip to Italy when she is strong enough to go. I'm buying a jersey and I hope that lots of other people will as well. They are made by Twin Six and you can get them through here for late June delivery.


Will said...


That is a great story.

I had a lazy Oct - Dec- and am down 11 pounds net since Dec 31st. Was 14 and up 3 though recently. Yes I feel great.

Yes the secret for me is as simple as you say: Eat better, ride more (and less beer).

Well done to you for losing 22 pounds. the weight alone makes you probably 10% faster on climbs - its all about gravity uphill.

Tim Krabbe - The RIDER - I LOVED THAT BOOK. You might have noticed I have a quote from page one on my personal website:

"Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafés.


The emptiness of those lives shocks me" -- The Rider by Tim Krabbé"

Excellent (even if I only race vs myself)

regards from France,


Will said...

thx for link as I am now looking forward to my fat cyclist shirt showing up

(PS - I lost my father to Cancer - horrible disease)


Sprocketboy said...

I am delighted that you have also gone for one of the "pink lemonade" jerseys. They seem to have been sent all over the world now. I am going to suggest that everyone send in a picture of themselves wearing their jersey to the Fat Cyclist blog so we can see where they have all gone to!

uncadan8 said...

It is about time I got over here and commented. Excellent blog! After many excuses and rationalizations, I have finally decided to start watching the calories. The "exercising more" part has been there for a while; I just needed to focus on improving the diet. Like you, I don't care much whether I beat fatty or not. I just appreciate the inspiration that he has provided. Thanks for the reminder on the simplicity of weight loss.

uncadan8 said...

Oh, and I just linked you on my blog.

Sprocketboy said...

Hi, Uncadan, and welcome to the blog! Glad you like it. Eating less is really hard in that it requires some self-discipline. If it was easy, everyone could do it. The story I read said "Your body thinks it is living in a cave in the Ice Age somewhere in the Pyrenees" and I think that is absolutely true. After six months I still have to think carefully about what I eat since there is the danger of going on the "Seafood Diet"--that is, when I see food, I eat it.