For anyone in any doubt about the health benefits of cycling, the story of road.cc’s very own shrinkinbggaz might prove inspirational.
Last weekend, shrinkinbggaz – real name Gary Brennan, from Hyde, Greater Manchester – beat his personal best time by 90 minutes on a 100km charity ride.
He achieved this despite his training coming to an abrupt halt in July following a nasty road accident, when he was knocked off his bike by a van – which left him with knee ligament damage and a fractured coccyx. The accident kept him off his bike for five weeks and the injuries still cause discomfort now when he rides further than five miles.
He also came off on the ice in January, suffering damage to his knee and a concussion. This accident also kept him off his bike for five weeks.
But Gary’s no stranger to overcoming the odds to hit his targets. Just two years ago, the 29 year-old father of two weighed 39 stone. He had type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, his waist measured 68 inches and he wore 26-inch collar shirts. In fact he was in such poor shape that doctors reckoned only a gastric bypass operation would rescue him from a very early grave.
But then Gary bought a bike. And as we reported at the time, after just a year of commuting on it he’d lost 17 stone and that operation had been cancelled.
Now he’s down to 17 stone and he’s determined to reduce that to 14 stone. On Sunday he completed the Manchester 100 ride in aid of the Manchester Christie hospital for the second time – recording a time of 3 hours 46 minutes.
Gary said, “I’m so pleased to have made such huge improvements on Sunday’s ride – cutting over 90 minutes from last year’s time. It all looked like it was going wrong when I had my accident in January. I was in such bad shape I didn't even think I'd make the start line this year. I put on about two stone after that accident but I managed to turn all that around in three months and I’m really proud of that.
“Now I just want to keep improving to see what I’m capable of next year. I also want to spread the word about what’s happened to me as widely as possible to give hope to others who are in the same kind of situation that I was in and show them that it’s really never too late.”
Gary’s still looking for sponsors for his Manchester 100 ride. If you’re inspired by his story you can support him via his Just Giving page. There are more detailed accounts of his rides on his blog, the 39 stone cyclist.