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This Is What a Cyclist Looks Like

We’ve seen it on our own social media for a decade and we still see it in the press - ‘she doesn’t look like a cyclist’, ‘he’s too fat to be on a bike’, bla bla bla but you can’t argue with evidence. Our community has proven that cycling is the perfect sport for every body.


FLAB community members continue to challenge the stereotypes of what a cyclist looks like whilst pulling off all sorts of cycling achievements that (according to some) they’re not supposed to, all whilst just having a great time on their bikes. It’s time to remind ourselves that THIS is what a cyclist looks like.


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Michelle was in her 40’s when she started cycling now she’s rarely off her bike describing cycling as her therapy. As well as commuting to work she’s an avid gravel and MTB rider and has clocked up 1000’s of miles in the saddle. I trained to be a British Cycling leader because I’m passionate about encouraging others to take up cycling and that’s what I’m most proud of.


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Ade has a similar story, coming to the sport 13 years ago she bought a Trek road bike for £400. I was so shocked by the price tag and couldn’t believe it when the salesman told me it was ‘entry level’. Times have changed and Ade is now a matchy-matchy fanatic with all the gear. 


As a Breeze Leader she’s empowered 1000’s of women onto bikes and has cycled throughout Europe and the UK taking on some of the toughest challenges - LEJOG being one of them. Let’s just say some of the other LEJOG riders didn’t think we’d make it, so finishing before them made the achievement even sweeter. Cycling is my only ‘me’ time I get. It helps me mentally process whatever is going on in my life day to day.


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Rafe Aldridge bought his first FLAB jersey in 2013 just after we started and has been a Fat Lad ever since.  An experienced cyclist, qualified MTB instructor and British Cycling Ride Leader, Rafe is also a key contributor and guardian of our social media, offering advise and inspiration to 1000’s of you. 


Rafe has done dozens of challenging rides, including 258 miles in a single ride, and he’s cycled all over Europe and the US the length and breadth of the UK. “My belly is the least interesting thing about my cycling and therefore warrants the least amount of discussion.” 


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Alex Latimer is one of those inspired by Rafe.  “I started riding again just over two years ago. I couldn't do 8 miles without needing a lie down but this year thanks to a little encouragement and belief from Rafe I completed a 200km one day charity ride for the Alzheimer's Society. 


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For Emily Williams cycling is all about friends and laughter. A real outdoorsy person Emily’s ultimate goal is packing all she needs into bags and setting off on a great long tour of somewhere. I love cycling without too much of a plan or fixed objective and being able to make it up as we go along. Emily is co-founder of Every Body Outdoors, a community organisation fighting for clothing, gear and representation for plus size bodies in the outdoors.


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Stuart Dick has cycled all of his life but began cycling on a regular basis in 2019. He is a committed to the cause, managing to cycle all but one day throughout 2021 - perhaps it’s his usual post ride snack of pickled onions which has given him focus and determination! 


My bike has ‘taken me places I had never been before, allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and opened up a world I’m still discovering.” In June Stu takes on his biggest challenge, cycling LEJOG in aid of the National Autistic Society.  


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For John McBride an occasional commute to work ignited a love for cycling and he now rides for fun as well as utility but it hasn’t been an entirely easy journey. Apart from falling off countless times, (clipless pedals!), John had over a year of cycling and chafing under his belt (pardon the pun)  when he realised that you’re not supposed to wear underwear under cycling shorts. “What a weird and liberating feeling it was when I first went without pants!” Being outside is a major motivator. I’m a great believer in the benefits of {fresh air}, meeting random people, forgetting your stress, countryside views, café stops and that well earned beer you can have guilt free!


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2.5 years ago Mell Jeffrey was 50 and although she hadn’t ridden a bike since her 20’s she persuaded her husband to get her an ebike. “I hoped to commute to work and to my horse but the local hills scared me. Within 18 months she was hooked and bought herself a gravel bike. I’ve done over 2500 miles on my Ebike which I now just use for commuting and 1500 miles on my gravel bike.


Mell’s ultimate cycling goal is to complete a 100 mile ride and do some longer cycling tours.


I feel better for cycling both mentally and physically. I don't think I have any photos of me on my bike where I'm not smiling .... Says it all”


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Like the Robinsons, Kizzi Keast also started cycling during lock down after buying themselves a second hand bargain from Facebook which they named Roxie. “ She was heavy, and slow (like me!) but got me out there.” Later that year Kizzi treated themselves to a brand new Triban road bike -Trixie and in 2022 took part on the FLAB Big Fat Bike Ride.  “I was so nervous about it before hand but it was absolutely amazing on the day and I am so proud of myself.”


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Paul and Leanne Robinson had always ridden static bikes but during lockdown their new road bikes became their saviour. As well as running regular FLAB Social Zwift rides, Paul and Leanne have clocked up the road miles with centenary ride completed, their next cycling goal is a 300km Coast to Coast to Coast. You can join Paul and Leanne on the official ZWIFT FAT LAD AT THE BACK Social Rides group here


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Mount Ventoux is reserved for proper cyclists it’s 21.5km of sustained climbing, 18% of which is between a 10-15% gradient. Then there’s a 500m section at 11.6% and a five km segment that averages nearly 10%. So Stu Hyde shouldn’t be able to cycle that should he? He’s not a skinny whippet, he doesn’t look like a cyclist, he’s over 50!  Yet Stu’s been a cyclist all his life and he’s a Mount Ventoux veteran, scaling the iconic climb an amazing 27 times. 


Happy Riding!!







4 comments

  • WoW
    Blown away by your site, a great discovery by myself😂🤣
    Bought a new bike and was on the hunt for the larger sizes in gear
    Everything about and in your site oozes fun and laughter. Makes me want to get out there in the fresh air
    Do you have any groups in Rep Ireland
    Absolutely Brillant idea the Fat Lad at the Back
    Wishing you huge success now and in the future

    Noeleen

    Noeleen
  • Great email and a nice read . Regardless of my size and me definitely not ‘looking like a cyclist’I just love being on a bike ! Wear my FLAB jacket and Mtb shorts with pride : )

    Iain Beattie
  • I love being part of this community, being a Flampion and seeing my new cycling friends making progress, smashing targets and PBs and showing two fingers to the people who didn’t think they had it in them. The Gateshead and South Tyneside Social Rides Posse continue to inspire me to stay in the saddle. They all thank me for the work I put into organising rides but it doesn’t feel like a chore when you’re out in a 20 strong group of supportive riders having a laugh over a brew and some cake.

    Thanks Fat Lad at the Back for making me a cyclist

    Alex Latimer
  • This is soo True

    In my case I came for the body, and I stayed for the mind :)

    I came to cycling following a (If I may say so) spectacular pirouette and swan dive out of our caravan onto my knee :) the physio recommended cycling as it is not weight bearing which was important as I was considered to be a “Big Unit” at 150Kg :) No arguments there from me :)

    I continue to cycle as it has a way helping forget the strife we are all going through, focus on the positives and generally feel good about the word, also cycling generally involves going past a place that sells cake and tea, and well it would be rude not to stop :) I wear flab gear mainly because it is comfortable (all spare tyre size) and easy to pack if I change out of it (generally at work type places).

    Love the whole community vibe and in terms of cycling goals mine is to do the FLAB 100 at some point with another couple of years of training :)

    Have a great Day

    Paul

    Paul Johnson

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