Cyclist takes on 24-hour bike challenge after 12-stone weight-loss
Just a few years ago, James Randell exceeded the upper weight limit on his bathroom scales and could barely ride a bike to the end of his street. Now the 28-year-old from Gloucester (Abbeymead) plans to cycle more than 300 miles in just 24 hours when he takes part in the RIDE24 endurance race this weekend.
Run by children’s charity Action Medical Research and operated under British Cycling technical regulations, RIDE24 takes place at Thruxton Motor Circuit on Saturday 7 to Sunday 8 September. The closed circuit event sees teams of four and brave solo riders like James racing night and day to travel the greatest distance in 24 hours.
This would be a tough challenge for anyone but for James it will be the latest achievement in a journey that has seen the software developer, completely transform his lifestyle and lose more than half his body weight.
A former self-confessed video games geek, James says: “I'd always been a big guy but being six feet five inches tall, one could say I carried my weight well. Playing video games and eating took up all of my spare time – boxes of cakes, those mini flapjacks, bags of donuts, family-sized bags of crisps and exceptionally cheap cola. By the time I hit my twenties I was maxing out the scales at 24 stones and gaining – by how much I could never tell since the scales didn’t go any higher!”
His life changed following a flash of inspiration at 2pm on an ordinary Sunday. “I still to this day have no idea why and how such a strong response gripped me,” he says. “The next day, I bought my first mountain bike and signed up to the local gym. I cut my food intake massively and stopped eating all the junk food and drinks. I started to ride my bike, a little at first but always enjoying it even though I couldn't get very far. My first trip was 150 yards from my house down a slight incline before I had to get off and push it back.”
Over the course of a year or so, James lost more than 12 stone and went from a 50-inch to a 34-inch waist. He quickly progressed from his ‘giant man-carrying mountain bike’ to a hybrid, then finally moved on to his first skinny-tyre road bike – a Bianchi that he used to commute every other day to work. He also joined a local cycling club.
Last year he and a group of friends from his local gym – dubbed the Slad Valley Rollers after their local weekday riding route – rode from Lands End to John O’Groats in nine days, covering almost 1,000 miles in total.
“That trip really taught me about the mental ups and downs of long-distance cycling, and about just how far you can push yourself,” he says. “It took me a mere two days to come up with another challenge – something I could set my sights on to push me further and harder, this was the Action Medical Research RIDE24 event.”
After recovering from a serious knee injury, caused by his previous challenge, James has been training since March for RIDE24. He’s extended his commutes, riding 30 miles in the morning and 60-plus miles in the afternoon, with Saturday rides of 80-plus miles. He’s also completed a 200-mile ride, which took 15 hours to complete, and recently turned his summer holiday into a training camp up in the Alps!
“As you may have gathered, I'm really stubborn, and I don't do things by halves!” he explains. “When I weighed over 24 stone I thought I would pass out just riding down my street. Riding over 300 miles in a 24-hour endurance race is something I never in a million years thought I would be doing!
“I'm a firm believer that your mind plays the biggest part in what you can achieve. That ‘inner chimp’ remark by Bradley Wiggins is bang on the money. The pain barrier and goals you set yourself are dictated by the voices in your head. Always push yourself, always see the end goal and never concentrate on the hardship of the bit between. You will always have a greater sense of achievement looking back on something that felt impossible at the time.”
RIDE24 cyclists will be raising money to fund medical research to help save and change the lives of sick and disabled babies and children. Action Medical Research has played a significant role in many medical breakthroughs for over 60 years, starting with the development of the first UK polio vaccines. It is currently funding research into many conditions, including preventing early labour and developing treatments for babies affected by premature birth, helping children with disabilities and tackling rare diseases for which there are currently no cures.
The charity that has a passion for cycling and has built up a successful portfolio of events, which also included the Action London to Paris and RIDE100 series of one-day regional UK rides.
For details on Action Medical Research cycling events visit: www.action.org.uk/cycling
You can sponsor James at http://www.action.org.uk/sponsor/SladValleyRollers
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Images of James both before and after he started his cycling training can be downloaded via links below:
James before his weight loss:
James after his weight loss, cycling in Alpe d’Huez, France
James after a 200-mile training ride
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Action Medical Research is a UK-wide charity saving and changing children’s lives through medical research.
We want to make a difference in:
- tackling premature birth and treating sick and vulnerable babies
- helping children affected by disability, disabling conditions and infections
- targeting rare diseases that together severely affect many forgotten children.
Just one breakthrough, however small, can mean the world.
Charity reg.nos 208701 and SC039284.