Profile Series: Chris Jones: Chief Flampion
Chris is our Chief Flampion, he's 51 years old and works in social media/internet marketing. Fortunately for him he works for himself, currently from home which means he can go out for a ride pretty much whenever he wants.! Lucky beggar. Make no mistake, Chris loves cycling, whether thats doing it, reading about it or watching it but outside of that he's a big fan of cooking and as a recently converted vegan he's gets his teeth stuck into experimenting with new recipes.
At the beginning of 2017 Chris weighed 17 stone, was asthmatic and had just been diagnosed with COPD at his annual asthma medication review – “Still, what do you expect after 30 years of general debauchery” Chris jokes. Because of this, he decided to join a gym which was great initially “I started feeling a little lighter and fitter but to be honest it bored me senseless sweating away on one machine or another staring at a wall or if you're lucky a TV screen.” So he lost his momentum a little and became a bit stuck with what to do. At the time, his employer began a Cycle to Work scheme in June of the same year he jumped on it. He bought a Boardman hybrid and that was the start!
He started off small - “my first ride killed me and it was only 4 miles” – he made all the mistakes that every newbie makes, like wearing underwear with cycling shorts but overall he loved it. 4 months later he decided to buy a cheap Carrera road bike from Halfords and gradually increased time and distance in the saddle, he even went for a ride on Boxing day that Christmas. Dedication to the cause.
Spring of the following year Chris discovered Fat Lad At The Back through another Flampion and started riding with other people for the first time , having just done it alone until now. “I Loved the whole ethos of the FLAB brand; of inclusivity for all, no matter your size, shape, gender or ability.” So much so that he decided to apply to become a Flampion himself and in September of 2018 he started in the role. From then, he began doing rides every weekend, met lots of great people, many of who are now good friends – “some from the early days are still riding with me now!”
“You meet all sorts of cyclists in the role from experienced riders to those that are coming back to cycling after a break for various reasons and to complete beginners. One of the most rewarding things for me is being involved in people's journeys from being a beginner.”
“One of many examples is a lady who came on one of my first rides, she had been a horse rider previously but after her horse sadly got too ill to ride, she was looking for another outdoor activity. After that first ride she went from beginner and walking up hills to a 100 mile sportive in less than a year and now owns a carbon bike and is an active member of a cycling club.”
It is often said being a Flampion is a thankless task and in some ways it is, giving up your time to create rides and organise routes. However, participants are so appreciative and very thankful for your dedication to making the ride enjoyable for them. Many will even buy you coffee and a piece of cake at the cafe stop, “although that's not why I do it of course” says Chris.
In less than 4 years Chris went from 17 stone and getting out of breath walking up the stairs to riding more than 300km a week. He’s climbed 7 of the top 100 climbs, ridden 4 x 100+ miles rides this summer, lost 5 stone in weight, completed nearly 100 Flab Social Rides and met many people some of which have become quite close friends.
“Discovering cycling and FLAB is one of the best things that could have happened to me and I would encourage anyone to give cycling a try and even become a Flampion, you won't regret it!”
Whats been your biggest challenge with being a Flampion?
Never really found any challenges in being a Flampion as I'm quite a confident person who enjoys meeting new people. The only real challenge was getting the word out to start with. I had a couple of rides in the early days with 1 or even 0 people show up, but that soon changed!
What is your personal mantra?
There is no bad weather just the wrong clothing
What's your favourite thing to do after a gruelling ride?
Fave thing to do after a long ride is to sit on the sofa for ten minutes with a coffee before I even take my kit off.
We want to thank our Chief Flampion Chris from the bottom of our hearts for always showing up for the brand and community. As well as taking on the responsibility of ensuring the social rides are in check. A true testament to everything that this brand is about and a great ambassador of our values. Thanks Chris!