He’s an inspiration - that’s how Causeway Cycle Club chairman Robert Downes has described club member Norman Kane.
Norman (41), now a slender ten stone, has shed an amazing 12 stone in the space of a year, and is one of the local cycle club’s keenest members.
“I went to the doctor at the end of 2013, and I got the shock of my life when she told me to step on the scales - I realised I was 22 and a half stone,” admitted Norman, who is a chartered mechanical engineer.
“I loved junk food, I would be away at meetings a lot for work, so I was eating on the go or in the car, and my weight just kept increasing,” said the father of two from Ballymoney.
In January 2014, Norman decided he would take control of his life, and he began a weight loss programme.
In twelve weeks he had dropped five stone, to 17-and-a-half stone.
“The Giro was all the talk at that time,” said Norman, “so I decided to get myself a bike, I went out at first on my own, just to prove to myself that I could still ride a bike.
“Every Sunday I drive my two daughters to Sunday School in Garvagh. On the way there I would meet the boys from Causeway Club in their bright jerseys on the Curragh Road.
“So I got the courage to get in contact with them, and to be honest I haven’t looked back. I think I have a bit of an addiction now,” he joked.”
Norman said his first few times out on the road were tough: “I remember doing seven or eight miles, and to be honest I thought I was going to die. “But now I am doing around 150 miles a week, and I am loving my new life.”
Norman has progressed through the ranks of the Club, from the leisure group to the fast group.
“Between February and December 2014 I had done 5,000 miles,” said Norman.
“I really haven’t looked back.
“It’s funny when you meet people that you haven’t seen for a while and they don’t recognise you.
“I was a meeting in Dublin just this week, and we were sitting around waiting for folk to arrive. One of the boys there asked where Norman was, when I put my hand up, they couldn’t believe it was me.”
Norman has thanked his wife and two daughters Molly (8) and Hannah (5) for their support.
“My family have been really supportive. I feel a bit selfish now being away a lot with the cycling, but they don’t mind, they see that I am enjoying it.”
Speaking about the health benefits of the sport, Norman explained: “Although I was 22 stone, I wasn’t totally unfit, I would’ve played a bit of football, or went for the odd swim. But I have a new energy now. I was sluggish before, now I feel so much better within myself. I actually finished fourth in a time trial race last week.”
Robert Downes, Chairman of the Club praised Norman’s attitude.
“Norman’s a great guy. We call him the mountain goat, cause he loves the mountain routes,” he joked.
“When I think back to the Norman that came here on the first night, and the Norman that is here now - they are two very different people, he’s a real inspiration.”
Robert urged anyone who fancies a go at cycling to come along to Club nights every Tuesday and Wednesday meeting at the Sperrin Club. “ We have members aged from 14 and 70 years old,” he explained. “Our leisure group is for people who are beginners or are just getting back into cycling.
“No one is every left behind. We’ve a great bunch here, there’s no pressure to become a member.”