After three years and 50,000m the 270-pound Climbing Clydesdale proved to himself that he doesn't have to be held back by his own body.
Everything is relative. The way you observe and react to the world is dependent on your point of view. You gain context through experience. There are few absolutes, only your perspective and how you choose to use it as you interact with the environment and those around you.
What is hard for you might be easy for me. Fast for you may be slow for me. A noteworthy achievement for you is barely noticeable to me.
Success comes in finding the proper perspective. The one that makes you happy and completes you by providing meaning to your life. Always be honest with yourself and true to your values and beliefs.
The beautiful sport of cycling bestows us with moments of sincerity. Fickle in its fairness and unforgiving in its rewards. Cycling tests our honesty through humbling reminders of our inconsequence. Cycling is easier for some, and a perspective familiar to many defines success.
For others, cycling challenges the resolve, and happiness is in the little things. Minor victories viewed from the point of view of realistic context are the trophies of success. For Kevin du Manoir, cycling symbolizes the significance of life and that success is not defined by the things you do but by why you do them.
Physical Challenges Prevented Kevin From Being an Athlete
“I was never an athlete, No,” states 39-year-old Kevin, who lives in Toronto, Ontario, with his wife and young daughter. “I was born with club feet and had a nervous system defect where I can’t flex my feet up towards my shin,” Kevin describes the physical limitations of his youth, “so I tended to trip a lot as a kid when I would drag my foot.” The physical challenges Kevin faced didn’t stop there.
“My family history is one of large humans,” Kevin jokes as if to hide the grief. His grandfather was 6’4″ and 450 pounds. “My Dad and Uncles are big guys too,” remarks Kevin, “so there’s definitely something genetic going on there.”
The congenital disabilities and genetic predisposition caused a progressive deterioration of Kevin’s joints. “My weight has always been something that I’ve struggled with,” Kevin laments, “and cycling was one of the few physical activities I could do without making my knees and ankles hurt.” Kevin grew up in a small town and didn’t own a “proper” bike until 2009 when he decided to commit to his health.
A Deeply Personal Cycling Experience
Kevin purchased a bike after signing up to participate in a fundraising ride for a local cancer center. It was a profoundly personal experience for Kevin, unlike anything he had ever done in his life. In June 2009, Kevin rode 200+ km over two days while weighing nearly 330 pounds and quips, “that poor bike of mine owes me NOTHING!”
Kevin joined a gym and started working with a nutritionist. He was riding a few times a week, which was good for him and a great place to start. “My first few years of riding were pretty low-key,” recalls Kevin, “and I got more serious about both riding and my fitness when I moved to Toronto in 2012.”
Kevin Took Control of His Weight
Kevin took control of his weight for the first time in his life. He lost close to forty pounds before being derailed by a severe knee injury. “A driver took me out in April 2016,” Kevin states sadly, “the day after my wife told me she was pregnant with our daughter.” Kevin’s weight, which he worked so hard to get to 270 pounds, crept back to 300 pounds again.
Kevin slowly regained his strength and mobility after recuperating from the knee injury. “My main priority now that I’m a dad is to get fitter and get to a healthier, sustainable weight so I can be around longer and do more with my family,” Kevin states when describing his introduction to virtual cycling. “I heard about Zwift when I was looking for a safe way to get more serious about my weight again.”
Unfortunate Circumstances Opened Up His World to Zwift
Kevin began riding an average of twice a week in 2019 and soon upgraded to a smart trainer. He signed up for the Everest Challenge and, after doing his research, found out, “if I wanted one of those glorious shimmering Tron bikes, I was going to have to climb 50 km into the sky.”
Kevin began racking up the vertical meters to get the Tron bike. “Gravity still had a great affinity for me weighing in the 280s,” admits Kevin, “so I could climb close to my FTP and still barely scrape 2.0 W/kg.” His first attempt at the Watopia KOM took 1:05, and he recalls, “The radio tower damn near ended me, but I just kept climbing.”
Kevin received encouragement by the Ride-Ons he would receive, “and tons of them came from riders with [DIRT] in their name.” Kevin joined DIRT in 2019 because “Dads indoors riding trainers – Sounded perfect! My daughter was now two years old, and I was most definitely indoors riding a trainer!” He was well on his way toward getting the Tron (Zwift Concept Z1) bike.
The Virtual Cycling Community Helped Maintain Perspective
Then March 2020 hit, and the world as Kevin knew it changed forever. “COVID reared its ugly head,” says Kevin, “and my opportunities for socialization and seeing other human beings became extremely limited.” Zwift and DIRT became the two places Kevin could count on seeing other people.
Riding on a trainer became something he enjoyed for more than just exercise. It gave him sanity. “The sense of community and inclusiveness I experienced in DIRT and on Zwift as a whole” was comforting to Kevin. “I struggled mentally because of the strict lockdown here in Toronto with schools closed at that time, and Zwift, DIRT, and others helped to get me through it all.”
Kevin found other riders’ experiences from around the world therapeutic as he continued on his quest. Finally, on November 11, 2020, almost three years after his first ride on Zwift, he passed the 50,000-meter benchmark and unlocked “that beautiful Tron bike.”
The Tron Was So Much More Than a Bike
The opportunity to ride the Tron bike on Zwift is more than some shiny pixels on a screen to Kevin. “It means doing something a rider of my girth isn’t supposed to do,” Kevin declares while still weighing over 270-pounds, “this bike is all about overcoming barriers.”
Like many who suffer from obesity, Kevin has a complicated relationship with food and fluctuating weight. “Emotionally, I’ve been frustrated at being held back by my own body,” Kevin shares with satisfaction, “but it’s also been a boon at times when I’m able to surprise myself and accomplish something like getting the Tron bike.”
Kevin’s ultimate goal is to gain long-term control of his health and “be around for my family for a long time.” Until then, Kevin will continue to keep things in perspective.
Happiness is the Ultimate Goal
“Clydesdale cyclists like me regularly get side-eye looks and sniggers when we’re outdoors in our lycra,” objects Kevin. “They don’t bother me anymore because I know I’m not riding to impress them. I’m doing it for myself and showing others that you can do anything you put your mind to if you have the right outlook.”
Kevin knows that he will never be the fastest, ride the most km, or climb like a billygoat. However, he is proof that you can imagine success if your expectations are realistic and you are willing to do what it takes. You will never find happiness or satisfaction by trying to influence things you can’t control.
Conclusion - Write the Story of You
The road we ride twists and turns without regard for our intended direction. Choosing to follow the path and adjusting to what you find around the bend makes your life meaningful and complete. Stay true to yourself and your beliefs.
No one knows the full story of you. Any judgment is unfair. Resist the urge to chase what society tells us is the next shiny thing. Ask yourself what you want and what will make you happy. Find your Tron!
What is your Tron? Comment below. Your fellow virtual cyclists want to know.
For more inspiring stories highlighting the extraordinary ordinary individuals of virtual cycling check out the Community page of The ZOM!
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!