Louise Gagnon writes…
Sipping tea on a glorious September Sunday morning at the Seale coffee shop I met a gentleman who is likely to become the newest member of our Club. Very early in the conversation, Johnny mentioned that after a challenging period in his life he had ballooned to 19 stones (266 pounds). He vividly remembers that fateful morning of May 2014: “I felt awful going up a Surrey hill on my bike. My legs were hurting so badly that I climbed off my bike and had to stop”.
“I was disappointed with myself and knew I had to do something about losing the weight as otherwise I would have to stop cycling. So a few weeks later I exchanged my hybrid for a road bike with drops and got on a strict diet that still enabled me to gradually increase my mileage”. Superbly determined, Johnny kept that daily routine and magically saw the weight come off at a steady rate of one pound a week. The whole time he rode on his own and would have certainly appreciated company but admitted “I wasn’t going to go out with a group until I was satisfied that I could ride at a decent pace”.
After 15 months of training, Johnny woke up one morning in August 2015 and said to himself “this is the day I am going to do it. It just felt right you know”. And so he set off from his house in Woking for the longest ride he had ever done: 100 km (62 miles)… non-stop! No coffee break, just snacks and drinks on the way. Cruising steadily along in the Chobham area he looked down at his GPS and suddenly noted with excitement that he had clocked 105 km (65 miles) at an average speed of 23 KPH (14 MPH). “I just threw my arms up in the air and even rode no handed for about 50 meters: I had done it!!”
Even more amazing than the distance covered (his longest ever), Johnny had also lost a full 6 stones (84 pounds) since April 2014. “I am very proud of this”, he says; “it shows what an older man can do if he pushes his mind to it. I’ve lost the weight and now I can go up most hills and they don’t scare me!”.
After this achievement Johnny felt ready and proud enough to join a group: “Group riding appeals to me. It’s also a chance to meet some nice people. You know it is hard to train on your own, really hard”.
And so he sat as his computer one day and started Googling for cycling groups in his area; the West Surrey CTC link appeared and Johnny clicked on it: this was the start of the watershed. “I’ve cycled 3 times so far with Rico [Signore] and I’ve found this other group on the website: the Woking Midweek Wayfarers which has 3 levels, the 2s, 3s and 4s and rides on Wednesdays. I am very keen to join them in October”. To which I asked “why not meet with them this Wednesday 9th September. They have rides every week you know.”
And so, stand by to meet Johnny in the very near future at a Club ride start near you!