New Year’s is a time many people make resolutions in an effort to better their lives.
But for Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson, it wasn’t a New Years resolution which turned his life around.
Like most kids growing up, Hansen-Carlson loved riding his bike. The son of an RCMP officer, he says his mom used to have to call the local detachment because he would be gone all day long.
Hansen-Carlson gained weight through his teenage years and his 20s.
And then a few years back, not having ridden a bike in years, he decided to purchase one and went for a spin. Unfortunately, he did not find the experience as enjoyable as he remembered.
“It was the worse experience of my life; it was so uncomfortable,” he described. “I was so out of shape.
“I hated every pedal stroke.
“I went on that one bike ride and then sold the bike.”
“I knew I was a fat guy but I never really had the desire to change,” he added.
He described the next six months as a dark time, and he turned to fast food to cope with his frustrations.
“I just ate and ate and ate,” he said.
“For six months, I lost control.
“I realized I had let myself go for way too many years. I didn’t know what to do.
“As far as self esteem goes, this was an all-time low for me.”
He resigned himself to be obese.
A few months later (August 2008) on his wedding day, Hansen-Carlson struggled getting into his tuxedo.
“I was embarrassed,” he admitted.
But he realized something: the problem was not exercise, it was his diet.
Hansen-Carlson spent the next 12 months trying to make the necessary changes in his life, but was unsuccessful.
So one year later, Hansen-Carlson went to see a nutritionist.
Taliah Leigh Photography
Jeffrey Hansen-Carlson and his wife Alison.
For the next 18 months, he ate only what he was supposed to.
“I was entirely committed to learning the nuances of a perfect diet,” he explained.
“I didn’t sway, I didn’t have a mint, I didn’t have anything that wasn’t explicitly allowed.”
This change in diet allowed Hansen-Carlson to drop 120 pounds.
The 30-year-old now weighs 180 pounds, a weight he hasn’t been at since he was in his late teens.
And as part of his new lifestyle, Hansen-Carlson decided to get back on the bike.
With the help of Bicycle Sports Pacific and its store manager Kevin Billingsley, Hansen-Carlson found a road bike and was introduced to a bike club and all the caveats of the sports.
“Without Kevin’s excitement for the sport, I would not have rediscovered how important the simple pleasure of riding a bike was to me,” Hansen-Carlson said.
Riding became a staple of Hansen-Carlson’s life. In 2011 alone, he rode more than 20,000 km. Not even being hit by a car on two separate occasions could slow him down.
“Every time I ride a bike now, I get off that bike — whether it is freezing cold, soaking wet, whether I have a kink in my back or whatever the case is — and I am grateful for it,” Hansen-Carlson said.
“Just because I know what it is like to not be able to enjoy it.”
His passion also prompted Hansen-Carlson to give back to the sport.
Hansen-Carlson founded the Canadian Velo Event Management Society — he also serves as its president — and the Society founded and manages the Prospera Valley GranFondo.
The ride was created with his network of cycling friends as “a feather in the cap for the Lower Mainland,” he said.
“I am so genuinely passionate about cycling that it was very easy to inspire others to ride. Starting the Canadian Velo Event Management Society and working to encourage everyone in the community to ride a bike is nothing more than the natural evolution of my story.”
“It really excites me when people ride bikes; it is that simple.”
The GranFondo will be held for a second straight year beginning and ending at the Fort Langley Historic Site on July 21.