Clive Chapman: How Just One Year and a Bike, Saved His Life
Hi everyone, my name is Clive Chapman from Birmingham, England. This is the story of me and my bike, and how it helped me get my life back.
12 months ago I was a 45 year old married bloke with 2 kids, who stopped riding his bike 10 years previously. That’s an approximate figure and the exact reason for stopping totally escapes me. I could come out with all kinds of excuses if I tried, but none of them would be accurate I’m guessing, because as I said, I don’t really know why. It kind of just happened. Still married with 2 kids though!
The upshot to this is that as of June 2009 I was 22 stone 4Ibs. That’s 356Ibs to our North American cousins, and at 5’ 8”, it meant I was morbidly obese. I’d been to the Docs for help as I seemed incapable of doing something about it myself. But apart from recommending “Weight Watchers” the National Health Service didn’t seem equipped to deal with obesity. I did try “Weight Watchers” but it was all middle aged Ladies talking about their menopause and fatless chips. With all due respect to those fine Ladies, it wasn’t for me. So I continued to “promise” myself to do something about it. Then, as usual over the past 10 years did precisely nothing.
Just to complete the horror story, I went to the Docs for a HGV medical just to keep my licence current and he discovered that my blood pressure was dangerously high. So he prescribed me Perindropol to be taken daily. High blood pressure, sleep apnea, severe snoring (don’t laugh), aching joints, lethargy, a good chance of diabetes and it was not beyond the bounds of probability that I was eating and letharging (is there such a word?) myself into an early grave.
Then quite by chance I discovered Frank Kinlan’s blog. This was the story of a bloke roughly my age, my weight and in the same condition health wise who had used cycling as a tool to get back his life and his health. To give you an idea what’s possible, he has successfully completed the 2009 Etape De Tour. A mountain stage of the Tour De France for those who don’t know.
I’d always loved cycling, first as a lad in the 70′s with my first bike (a Raleigh Pavemaster), then graduating to a “racer”. I even built my own early version of a MTB with an old “racer” frame, knobbly tyres and “cow horn” handlebars, and then chucking myself down various hills in Sutton Park and Cannock Chase.
So cycling seemed to be the answer after Frank’s blog had “flicked my switch” as I like to call it to motivate me to do something about it. June the 30th 2009 was the first day of the rest of my life.
I dusted down my old Ridgeback MTB, fitted some 1.5 slicks, and did the first pedal. My commute is a 24 mile round trip. I started with a “park and ride” which involved driving to the canal, parking up and then pedalling 6 miles along the cut to work. I did that every other day for a couple of months, then progressed to every day. Bull by the horns time then. A full 12 miles pedal from home to Smethwick. That was every other day at first, then carrying on through the worst England winter in years. Now, one year later, I’m doing an extended 20 miler on my new road bike into work and completing this every day, and I can actually speak when I get home too!
As it stands I’m now 17 stone 8 Ibs (246 Ibs), 3050 commuting and leisure miles completed and I have started MTBing again back in November 2009. This is my first love (after rugby) as much as I enjoy my towpath commute and my road bike 20 miler.
The online “fat biker’s blog” community is a massive support tool and now forms a part of my day. I have no doubt that without them I wouldn’t have started along this path and I would be still coming up with all kinds of excuses why I can’t get fit again. www.massivemtber.blogspot.com is my day to day story, have a read. And if it motivates one person to get up off their arse and get their life back then job done. Franks blog did just that for me.
Now, please don’t get the wrong idea about this. I’m not after sympathy. I have no-one to blame but me for being fat. It wasn’t a food industry conspiracy or a testament to modern living that I ended up like this. It happened because I ate too much and stopped pedalling, playing rugby and doing the other stuff that kept me active. I have now found something that appears to work for me and a support network of likeminded people who keep me honest. It is hard, some mornings at 0530hrs when it’s raining windy and dark, I really want to reach for the car keys. But I don’t. This is me now for the duration, and pretty soon I’ll be back into Snowdonia, charging around Cannock Chase and trying to reel my mates in at Sutton Park as well as saving a shed load on fuel and food bills, all because of my re-discovered love of the bike.
Advice wise, if you’re reading this and have thought that you need to grab a hold of your life, then don’t think any more, just do it. I can’t begin to tell you how much I wished I’d done this sooner. Only this weekend I was climbing a tree with my 3 year old son, something I hadn’t done with him before because I was fat. I still am fat, but at least I’m not too fat to climb now.
I don’t profess to hold any answers for you as an individual, I know only too well what obese folk do with well intentioned advice, if I am used as an example it’s to nod sagely, say you’re right, promise to act, then do precisely nothing.
You need to find your own motivation, we’re not stupid people, even though our relationship with physical activity and food would suggest otherwise, I believe obesity is like alcoholism, only food related. Maybe the medical profession should start to acknowledge that fact? That’s a debate for another day and quite possibly another blog!
The bike blogging community is a fantastic place, Darryl’s site is wonderful and I visit it every day to catch up with what’s happening on his side of the pond. Ok you folk over there have a different attitude and if I might be so bold, a more open and positive way of looking at the world, which I find very refreshing compared to cynical, mickey taking good old “Blighty” (English slang for home). But we all have one thing in common, we all love the bike and it does us a power of good!
If any of you good people reading this do need any specific advice about fat biking, starting out or just a bloody good kick to get you going, please feel free to get in touch with me on my blog, maybe I will be the one to “flick your switch” just like Frank Kinlan did for me a year ago.
Finally a huge thanks to Darryl for giving me the honour of representing English fat bikers on his brilliant site, I enjoyed writing it!
Clive Chapman is an inspiring blogger with an incredible personality. I encourage you to visit him over at www.massivemtber.blogspot.com and become a fan like I have. Congratulations, Clive on the first anniversary of your comeback and gaining back your life. Well Done.