Cycling makes its mark as Mark gets slim

2012 will be a year of firsts. It will be the first time that the Cyclone event has taken place under the banner of the Virgin Money Cyclone. It will also be the first time that the Virgin Money Cyclone features a Thursday evening ride, the Tyne Six Bridges Leisure Ride. In addition, it will be the first time that Mark Wilson undertakes the Virgin Money Cyclone Saturday challenge.

Mark, 34, who is an IT specialist, has signed up to take part in this years inaugural Virgin Money Cyclone as part of his 2012 get fit campaign.

Mark said: I got to a point during the summer of 2011 where I had just had enough of being overweight, suffering the ill effects of that lifestyle poor sleep, lethargy and lack of motivation. I wanted to do something positive about it.

A television programme about diets and health kick-started Mark into action, as well as making him aware of the invisible damage he was doing to his internal organs. I tipped the scales at 24 stone at one point, which was a shock, but for me its never really been about the number on the scales. Its much more about changing my body shape and improving my health so I can do more with my life and not be restricted.

Mark decided to use cycling amongst other things as a way of getting fit, and was attracted by the ease of getting started, as well as the fact that it is a low impact exercise. He became a regular at the spinning classes at the gym at work, and has seen quick results from then.

Ive lost over six stone since last summer, but more importantly my body fat has nearly halved from 44% to 23%.

Mark is not stopping there, however. With a determination to bring his body fat down to 10%, he has decided to transfer his passion for indoor spinning classes to road bikes, and has signed up to do the 64 mile route on his first Virgin Money Cyclone challenge. The ride begins at Kingston Park, home of the Newcastle Falcons Rugby team and takes in some of the most vivid and beautiful countryside that Northumberland has to offer, including the calf-sapping Ryals, a hill climb of mountainous proportions.

I would be lying if I said I wasnt anxious about my first Virgin Money Cyclone. I have cycled further than 64 miles before, but never against the clock. Hopefully Ill be fit enough to be able to take some time to tweet pictures and updates from around the route but still record a decent time.

Cycling is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK, with an estimated 3.1 million people riding a bicycle each month. As a form of exercise, cycling has broad appeal. Toddlers, pensioners, able-bodied or disabled people can all enjoy cycling if they have the right equipment, as highlighted in our recent 'EcoLocal helps everyone get into cycling' article.

Cycling is also one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine because it's also a great form of transport. By riding to work you can save you money, get fit in a low-impact way and contribute to a cleaner environment certainly beats waiting around for a bus or sitting in rush hour traffic!

Mark said: Ive proven that cycling is a great way to get fit. Its a lot less weight bearing on your body than running plus all the lycra is purely optional. Spinning has played a huge part in me improving my fitness and the gym staff have been unbelievably supportive. They gave me one piece of advice to find what motivates me and hold onto it. Other people can encourage you but motivation is the one thing they cant give you and its essential for those days when its so much easier to go home than do some training.

For more information on the Virgin Money Cyclone please visit

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