Jeffrey is one of our new athlete ambassadors for 2015. Check out his first blog post below!
I never did think much of it, all I knew is that what the bike gave me meant more to my soul than what my teachers gave me in the classroom. I did manage to eventually graduate university with an MBA. Never would I have thought…
It was 9.6 kilometers across town from my house to my high school. When I was 13 that short distance gave me the freedom to have two adventures each day – one in the morning and one on the way home.
I would be up and out the door before all of my other siblings. I would be the first to arrive at school every morning. For as long as I can remember I have had an intensity about life that was as different as the way my brain is wired.
For reasons I will never know I gave up on the bike and on my need for adventure. I piled on weight once I graduated high school. A lot of weight. I did that intently, too.
When I was tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds I bought a bike. I figured I would ride myself slim and fit. That plan was stupid.
When I was a 13 year old kid 9.6 kilometers on a bicycle was a breeze even with a backpack full of books. As an adult I could barely make it 5 kilometers. I gave up. I came to terms with the fact that my obesity meant I had to start from scratch.
I fought the obesity battle and won. I got a second chance. It did not come without consequences and collateral damage but I managed to recalibrate my life and put myself in a position to again give my soul what it has always wanted. Bikes. Adventure.
I was a frail 151 pounds when I walked into the local bike shop after I had lost an extreme amount of weight. I bought a bike. I joined a bike club. I rode a lot. I bought another bike. I rode more. Then I bought another bike and rode even more. It did not take long before I was getting fitter, faster, and stronger. I felt as good as I did when I was 13 riding my bike all afternoon after ditching class hours early. Invincible. Free.
As a late bloomer in the sport I only tried racing because all the cool roadies were doing it. I quickly realized racing was not for me.
I became intrigued by the prospect of organizing events. Not only would this allow me to shape an event that appealed to me, on roads I loved to explore, it was a way for me to give back to the sport.
A longstanding passion for bikes and a personal story that compelled me to share my second chance at fitness and health with as many people as possible was the real cornerstone of the Prospera Valley GranFondo. I am the founder of this event. Today the Prospera Valley GranFondo is something much larger than me but it is a legacy piece I am very proud of.
In 2014 I had the chance to ride the event I founded. Finally. I told the management team to let me do my thing, to not give me any responsibility whatsoever. I didn’t want to go on stage, make a speech, or be identified in any way. Out of 1500 participants I wanted to come in last. And I did. I spent the day at the back among those riders pushing through what was likely the most physically demanding thing they had ever undertaken. It took a long and grueling 9 hours to ride 160km but it was probably the most rewarding bike ride of my life.
Women’s Tour of Vancouver
With the success of the Prospera Valley GranFondo on my resume I decided to do something on a much larger stage. On the world stage. The objective for the Women’s Tour of Vancouver is a game-changing UCI 2.1 stage race.
As the founder of the company organizing this event I made the vision very simple: we are being intentional about women. This will be the women’s greatest race. This event will offer the largest purse in the history of women’s cycling. The best female athletes and the best female teams from around the world will spend six days racing on roads that the cycling community in Vancouver holds near and dear to its heart.
Life today is very different from what it was a few short years ago. Although there have been some low lows on the path toward redemption I am grateful for all of it. I am grateful that I am open and candid enough to share my story and give hope to people who have a heck of a lot of weight to lose. I am grateful that a sport – the cycling community – has accepted me, supported me, and allowed me to really contribute to the landscape of cycling in Canada.
I don’t take any of this for granted. I owe it all to the bicycle and to those people that ride them.
It is an honor to have been chosen as an Athlete Ambassador of Hammer Nutrition Canada.
I am thrilled to be among such fine company. I would have never thought that a fat guy in a fit man’s body who just likes to ride bikes would be put in a position to represent a brand as well known as Hammer Nutrition.
My journey through 2015 will be cataloged within this blog and you better beleive that Hammer Nutrition will be a part of my story. Heck, they have called me an ‘athlete’. Nobody has ever called me that before!