From 501 To 170 Pounds: A Man, A Bike, The Builder Who Believed In Him

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Image by Ralph Hockens via Flickr

Here is an amazing story — of grit, courage and determination. The man, Scott Cutshall, is not an Olympic athlete, but a regular guy, a Dad, who used to weigh 501 pounds and now, thanks to a newfound passion for bicycling and a custom-built bike that allowed him to get started even while he was gargantuan — weighs 170.

This piece is by Frank Bures who has written for Mother Jones, Outside, Esquire and Harper’s, among others. I found this today in a doctor’s waiting room in Bicycling magazine and it’s a great read:

The news was not good. The doctor gave him six months to live without bariatric surgery. With it, the doctor said, Cutshall had a 50 percent chance of making it out of the operating room.

“I’m a dead man,” said Cutshall, sobbing softly.

Over the next few years, even as he defied that dire prediction, every doctor, every authority he consulted would give him equally urgent warnings. Everyone told him the same thing: Lose weight or die. At the doctor’s office that day in 2002, Cutshall had voiced the foremost question in his mind.

“Do you think I can lose the weight on my own?”

“No,” the doctor had said. “At your weight, I’ve never heard of anyone doing it.”

One day, he sees a cyclist whizzing past his window, since all he could do at that point is stay home, and finds a bike-builder in whom he confides his unlikely dream, to start riding again:

Bob Brown, a part-time bike builder from Minnesota, happened to be at a low point in his queue. “Honestly, I didn’t take it real seriously,” Brown says. “I’ve had plenty of people claim to want to get back in shape and change their lives, but they didn’t follow through on it. So I responded and said I’d be willing to talk to him about it, but I really never thought I’d hear back from him.”

Five days later, the two settled on a frame and a price. Brown, who would be traveling to New York for his other job as a design engineer, agreed to stop by and take some measurements.

“Scott made dinner for me the first night,” Brown recalls. “He couldn’t stand up for more than a minute before his legs were exhausted. He cooked dinner, but he sat at the stove and asked me to get ingredients for him. I remember thinking: Wow, I can’t imagine living this guy’s life.”

Three months after Brown’s visit, in early 2005, he flew back into town with Cutshall’s new ride, a mono-grammed blue-and-white, steel-framed cycle with tandem-strength wheels and a fork that took Brown as long to build as the entire rest of the bike. It was, he says, at least five times stronger than it needed to be.

Read this story, put down that cupcake/beer/pizza — and get to the gym! It certainly inspired me.

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