Instead Of Surgery, Man Pedals Off The Pounds : NPR

We thought this story was so inspiring, we had to share.  Way to go Ernest!  You have inspired us all.

Ernest Gagnon weighed 570 pounds before he decided to lose weight by taking up cyclocross racing. Forgoing surgery, Gagnon lost more than 200 pounds and recently competed in his first cyclocross race.

Enlarge Courtesy of Ernest Gagnon

Ernest Gagnon weighed 570 pounds before he decided to lose weight by taking up cyclocross racing. Forgoing surgery, Gagnon lost more than 200 pounds and recently competed in his first cyclocross race.

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October 9, 2012 from NHPR

A lot of Americans are struggling to lose a whole lot of weight, and they try all kinds of crazy things.

Ernest Gagnon — a man from Billerica, Mass. — decided to shed pounds by getting into the often intense, high-adrenaline sport of cyclocross: racing road bikes on obstacle courses.

Two years ago, Gagnon tipped the scales at 570 pounds. He was depressed and embarrassed to leave the house.

“Being as big as I was, I really felt like I didn’t belong anywhere,” Gagnon says. “I was stuck in my house for almost 10 years, just going to my work and back.”

Back then, Gagnon’s diabetes was getting more serious. He was losing the circulation to his legs, and his doctors were talking about gastric bypass surgery.

Then, some sort of a switch flipped in his head and Gagnon decided he was going to race bikes, something he’d wanted to do since he was a kid.

Gagnon contacted Cosmo Catalano, a cyclist from Hartford, Conn., on Facebook, and asked if he wanted to go for a bike ride.

“He’s like … ‘by the way, I ride kind of slow … I’m 500 whatever pounds,’ ” Catalano says. “I [said] … ‘OK, I can deal with that.’ ”

This is how hundreds of New England cyclocross racers met Gagnon.

The First Race

Now, just two years after making that decision, Gagnon met up with his bike racer buddies in Lancaster, Mass., to do his very first race, called the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross.

These days, at age 33, Gagnon is 240 pounds slimmer. He is still very big by any standard, but a lot less so. Seeing him, surrounded by svelte, Lycra-clad athletes, squeezed into some spandex of his own, is a little bit jarring at first.

Ernest Gagnon competes in his first cyclocross race, the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross, on Sept. 26, in Lancaster, Mass.

Enlarge Sam Evans-Brown/New Hampshire Public Radio

Ernest Gagnon competes in his first cyclocross race, the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross, on Sept. 26, in Lancaster, Mass.

As you watch him, however, you start to get used to the big guy in bike shorts, especially when you realize that Gagnon himself is way past being self-conscious.

“You know, I’m riding in spandex in Boston with these guys. Never thought I could do that [and] it’s liberating in a way,” Gagnon says. “It really [forces] you to be honest with yourself, accept who you are; because if you can’t accept who you are, you can’t do anything.”

Before the race, Gagnon goes for a ride around the course with his lieutenant, Catalano, who gives him tips about how to ride it. Gagnon rides along on a custom-built titanium bike that is reinforced to hold his weight.

After checking out the course, he lines up in at the start in a crowd of 60 other racers, and after a few nervous, final moments the race is off.

The racers hurtle along dirt paths, and through soccer fields on bikes designed for racing on pavement. There are obstacles in the course like barriers that they have to jump over, or steep hills they run up with the bikes on their shoulders.

The slender, athletic racers are panting and working hard. For Gagnon, however, it’s actually physically dangerous. He has angina, and his doctor told him not to let his heart rate get too high during the race, or he could end up in the hospital; something that has happened before.

Everybody at the race knows about Gagnon, and throughout the race the announcer gives little updates on his progress.

“Two laps to go for Ernest Gagnon,” the announcer says, “nicely done Ernest — hang in there!”

After 40 minutes, Gagnon finishes dead last. Catalano and friend Steve Lachance quickly join him near the finish line.

“I told you you could do it, I told you you could do it!” Lachance says.

A steady stream of folks Gagnon barely knows, some of the 5,500 Facebook friends who have sought him out after hearing about his story, come by to congratulate him.

Gagnon says there isn’t a weight goal he’s aiming for; he just wants to be healthy. He’s already eying a couple more cyclocross races to do later this year.

via Instead Of Surgery, Man Pedals Off The Pounds : NPR.

Buy a Speed Concept, Go to Ironman®

Trek and Ironman® have partnered for an exclusive deal for Trek customers who want to take a new 9 Series Speed Concept to one of 2013’s prestigious Ironman events. Subject to availability, starting on September 6, 2012, consumers who purchase a 2013 Trek Speed Concept 9-Series bicycle or frameset will receive one free entry into their choice of the 2013 Ironman Florida or Wisconsin events, even if they are otherwise sold out. Only one hundred total entries are available, so act soon!

Getting an entry is as simple as purchasing a 2013 Trek Speed Concept 9-Series bicycle or frameset through one of Trek’s local participating retailers and providing the requested information. Trek will confirm the purchase with Ironman and the lucky new Speed Concept owner will receive a special online registration code from Ironman for a free race entry into either the 2013 Ironman Florida or Wisconsin event. Please see below for additional promotional details.*

“Pairing the fastest bike in the world with some of Ironman’s most popular courses is a win/win,” said Brandon Buth, Trek Triathlon Brand Rep. “Upgrading to a Speed Concept is the perfect way to experience these super popular courses, and we’ll give you the opportunity to see for yourself when you order a new bike.”

Ironman Wisconsin and Ironman Florida are regularly two of the most difficult Ironman races to gain entry to, and provide drastically different bike courses for age groupers looking to throw down some serious wattage on their new rigs. The speed Concept 9 Series is regularly the fastest bike on course, setting records at Kona and bringing its Kammtail Virtual Foil technology to the masses through Trek’s Project One custom program.

*Quantities limited, while supplies last at participating retailers in the United States and Canada only. Offer void where prohibited by law. No substitutions. Entries are non-transferable. Choice of entry into the 2013 Ironman Florida event on 11/2/13 or Wisconsin event on 9/8/13 is subject to availability. Consumers are responsible for any other applicable fees, including but not limited to licensing fees. Restrictions on participating in Ironman events may apply. Promotional codes for Ironman Florida 2013 will not be available until at least 11/4/2012. Otherwise please allow for up to six weeks from the date of purchase for receipt of a registration code. Registration codes will be sent to the email address provided at the time of purchase. Trek is not responsible for entries or communications that are lost, stolen, or are otherwise not delivered or undeliverable.

via Trek Life | News | Buy a Speed Concept, Go to Ironman®.

Come visit The Bike Lan.  We will help you choose the right Speed Concept and get you on your way to Ironman!