Prodigal Cyclist

Hello Commute by Bike readers, I am John LaPierre (jj), a prodigal rider returned for good; for my good, and the good of all mankind. OK, I’m not quite that noble, however it seems that doing a good thing, even for ourselves, benefits others as well.
I ride in Columbus, Georgia and the surrounding area. A lot of Army brats will know my town well. Columbus is the 2nd or 3rd largest city in Georgia, depending on which population count you go by. (About 190,000) Riding in Columbus probably has many of the same challenges and pleasures that riding in any city has, but I hope I’ll be able to share something beneficial or at least entertaining now and then.
In October of last year, I weighed 350 pounds, I now weigh 250. Still large compared to nearly any cyclist, but definitely going in the right direction. In the late 80’s I used to ride daily, even commuted to work sometimes, 20 miles round trip. Things happened, jobs changed, I began working on the road full time, commuting by airline instead of bike. When I put my bike away in 1989, I weighed 189 pounds. I gained weight slowly and steadily, about 10 pounds a year. At less than a pound a month, it was hard to see it coming. I finally made up my mind to beat the fat after a trip to Florida to help in the cleanup effort after the 3rd 2004 hurricane. I found out I was nothing more than a useless mouth to feed. I couldn’t walk a hundred yards. There are no ladders for 350 pound people and if there was, the roofs would crack under my feet. I couldn’t drag branches for more than 10 minutes without nearly passing out. I felt ashamed for letting myself go. There was no excuse for me. I’ve never had a health problem. Even at that weight, all was well. Blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, thyroid, everything, right down the middle. I got fat because I ate too much and failed to move unless absolutely necessary.

October 2004

October 2005

Upon returning, I couldn’t shake that bad feeling. I knew what I had to do, and exercise was high on the list. It took me about 1 minute to choose cycling. I walked into our local shop, Mike’s Bikes, and I found an old high school buddy working there. Bruce had no idea who I was. I decided not to tell him at that time. What I did tell him was that I was going to lose 150 pounds and reward myself with a new bike once I weighed less than 300. He was kind and sympatetic and didn’t laugh, but I could see he had his doubts. That was in October 2004. By early December, I went back for my bike, weighing in at 298 pounds. I rode it around a nearby parking lot for nearly an hour that day. I had been working out on my exercise bike prior to that, for up to 30 minutes a day, but the real deal felt wonderful! The saying, “Once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget” may be true, but I did forget what a rush it was! I never want to forget again. My next bike is coming when I break through the 200 pound barrier. I haven’t made up my mind which one yet, but I will soon.

In my return to cycling, I’ve found pure pleasure. I enjoy everything about it; adventure, speed, challenge, planning, maintenance, the equipment, exercise, and that great feeling that I’m doing something that is simply right and good.

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