Out of shape

365 pounds. Size 48 pants. 4XL shirt.

As a former high school and college athlete, Chris Schmidt typically weighed in at 185 pounds. Ten years later, he found himself asking how he had gotten to this point.

The pivotal moment came while he was assistant basketball coach at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky and was asked to coach the cycling team. He knew nothing about cycling but loved coaching and mentoring students. This position presented a good income opportunity for he and his growing family, but how could he say yes when his weight and health had gotten so out of control?

Schmidt dove in anyway—leaning on his people skills and general athletic conditioning while learning about cycling, often from the student-athletes themselves. Because he couldn’t keep up with the team as they rode, he would drive out to check on them. As his relationship with the team developed, they finally said, “Coach, you need to buy a bike!” So he bought a purple 61cm LeMond Reno from the father of one of his students.

For his first ride, he set a goal of riding from the college to the start of the training road his team used nearly everyday—a simple stop sign about six miles away seemed doable. He didn’t make it on that first trip, but he kept trying and eventually did. He continued to set reasonable, achievable goals for himself and met them. He started eating better, he started feeling better and then the weight started to come off.

365 was now 325. 325 became 300. Under 300 was a big milestone. He was now riding further, faster and breaking far fewer wheel spokes. Then 285 dropped to 265. It was time to start racing.

He started doing road races and crits. He was always the biggest guy but surprised himself by hanging with the main field. That success motivated him to try triathlons—doing a sprint distance, then an olympic, followed by a half. By his first full Ironman in May 2012, he was down to 255 pounds and was transformed beyond just the weight.

The numbers no longer hold a lot of motivation for Schmidt. What he has learned from his lifestyle changes have a far greater power over his desire to set new goals. One of the greatest gifts from his experience has been sharing it with others. Schmidt now travels the country as a motivational speaker and coaches individuals through his new role as Dean of Students.

“This whole journey changed everything for me,” said Schmidt. “I look at how riding makes me feel, how it affects my family. The bike has really made all the difference.”


Check out more ways Bikes Can Solve That.

Photo by Meg McMahon

9 thoughts on “Out of shape

  1. This is a Fantastic feat !! – I am 75 and I’ve had 10 surgeries and a heart attack – both knees replaced. That said, I set 120 plus miles a month on my Trek Domane w/SRAM Red Groupset – not burning up the Tarmac mind you ! But it has caused me to drop weight and feel like I’m 18 again !! There is not enough you can say about cycling and Bikes !! It is a life changer for everyone Now if I can just get my cadence up over 65 rpm !!

  2. Thank you for such a great story! What a journey you have taken along the way. I have had several family members get very sick over the last few months. I have always fought with weight problems and the family sickness has made me eat even more and gain additional weight.
    My son and I used to do a Labor Day Poker Run yearly, he would run and I would ride my bike.
    I used to really love to ride my bike in the local park on the rails to trails bike trail. Being on my bike with nature in the park was always an enjoyable experience, and the workout felt great.
    We have taken family bike rides with my oldest son ,his wife and our 4 grandkids.
    This story had inspired me to plan a family bike ride. My Mom has transitioned from home to Skilled Nursing and my husband 2-1/2 weeks ago had a heard attack and is doing better, and better every day. Cardiac follow up appt. next Friday.
    Would be great for my husband to bike too ! ! !
    Thank so much,

  3. At 50 and 320 pounds started riding again. It took 5 years but got down to 200 and feel great. I started with short rides, just going around the block would almost kill me. I will never give up the bike again. It is been a lifesaver.

  4. Very inspirational and, happily, Mark is one of many people who have gained so much from biking. Check out the stories of Rhonda Martin and Jim Clements if you read this and say, “I wish I could do this but …”

  5. Chris – you rock! Cycling has changed my life as well. I was always the big guy. 6’3 340 or so. I suffered from type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea , high blood pressure, high cholesterol, you name it. I was on a bunch of medication. I decided enough was enough and had gastric bypass surgery in 2011. Cycling became my exercise of choice and my passion. Since then I have ridden over 12,000 miles indoors and out. I am free of all of my ailments and am medication free.

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