Warning: This one ain't going to be pretty. A while back a colleague commented that I should put more "Fat Doug" pictures on my website. Many Hill Junkie readers have read my story how I got into cycling at Northeastcycling.com. I included an early photo there. A few more follow.
April 1995. Receiving Kohrman Scholarship at Western Michigan University. Look at that double chin! Five Hot-and-Now cheeseburgers, large fry and 44oz Mtn Dew were typical lunch fare. Pushing 230 lbs here.
When I first started riding in 1996, I weighed at least 230 pounds. I had an old 10spd (really a 5spd in today's terms) my dad gave me. It was rusty and had wobbly wheels. Occasionally I'd hop on it. I remember averaging nearly 18mph one time on flat farm roads and thought that was really something. I was 33 years old.
A friend from work talked me into getting a mountain bike if I was really serious about getting back into shape. MTB was all the rage back then, although I did not know any names in the cycling world, road or off-road. I bought a rigid Trek 820 with a 7spd drive train and Gripshift shifters. I didn't dare ride with the guys. I did a few forays into the woods by my house on 4WD roads. Mostly soft, sandy stuff, not very inspiring. Finally one day mid summer of 1996, I dared to do a group trail ride. I probably still weighed over 220 lbs and got pommelled. They were quite nice about my complete inability to ride anything steeper than a 2% grade. I was done 6 miles into a 12 mile loop.
December 1996. Tsali Recreation Area. Probably down by 10-20 pounds here. Still almost as big as the van!
The trail ride planted a seed though. It grew quickly and became a huge motivator to lose weight. I continued to lose weight into the fall. I was periodically travelling to Georgia for work. Just over the border in North Carolina, there is a pristine trail system called Tsali Recreation Area. Another work friend had heard of it before hand and brought me there. We were there over a weekend and rented bikes. Mine was an Ibis. This might have been December 1996. Conditions were spectacular, scenery incredible. I was amazed how much riding I was able to do without getting tired.
I didn't do a whole lot of riding the rest of the winter, and bad habits don't die easily. I put a good portion of hard lost weight back on by spring 1997 when I moved to New Hampshire. My passion for trail riding was hotter than ever though, and that was one of my reasons for moving to a mountainous region.
Summer 1997. Seductive, eh? I went back to well over 200 lbs by the time spring rolled around.
The rocky, rooty terrain here prompted me to buy a Specialized Stumpjumper. It had a suspension fork and 8spd drive train. This was the summer that saw persistent, permanent weight gain. Riding five times a week and having no knowledge of proper nutrition sure did make for some memorable bonks. All those bedtime fables your parents told you - I met all those characters on these bonk rides. Weight came off at about a pound per week for weeks at a time. This was real weight loss, not some whacked out diet fad weight loss program. Over a couple years, I lost 70 lbs, or 30% of my body weight. Fat Doug faded into history, hopefully never to return again.
August 2008. Mt Washington Hillclimb, looking back to make sure 11th place finisher wasn't going to pip me at the finish on the 22% grade.
Fast forward to present. This time of year my calorie expenditure tends to go up. While many riders are looking for reprieve from a summer of training and racing, I look to capitalize on all this fitness without any structure or races to dictate how and when I should ride. Mountain hillfest epics? You bet. Multi-hour trail rides? Absolutely. Daily fartlek rides at lunch? Why not. Snow will be here soon enough to put a damper on this excess. This increase in intensity drives up fuel demands. Some days I can't find enough to eat. Riding isn't the only thing driving up the appetite. What used to be rest days are replaced with rollerski workouts. There's really no way to "soft pedal" those things. Weight bearing and use of multiple muscle groups drive up the heart rate. To sum it up, I get to eat to ride and ride to eat. Life is good.