‘Fat to fit’ cyclists to feature in new Dales film campaign

An Ilkley cycle clothing brand has launched a campaign to help persuade people of all shapes and sizes to get on their bikes.

Fat Lad At The Back (FLAB) has signed up novice riders to tell the stories of their journeys from fat to fit in a three-minute film produced by Leeds agency Sodium.

The Flambassadors were filmed cycling in the Yorkshire countryside during the brand’s sportive event, which covers a route from Ilkley to Bolton Abbey via Malham Cove.

Many of those featured struggled with weight gain and lack of fitness before taking up the sport, and some have gained confidence from wearing the label’s tongue-in-cheek designs.

Among those filmed is 54-year-old Wendy Bibby, who began cycling two years ago to lose weight and has since completed two triathlons.

“Getting on my bike was a struggle. I had a mindset that I was too fat and so was embarrassed to be seen cycling.

“Saddling up for the first time, I felt so self-conscious. This worsened when, during my first ride in another cycling kit, I was called ‘Nelly the elephant’ by a group of youths. I know that if I had been wearing my FLAB gear I would not have received those insults, which really knocked my confidence and put me off cycling for a long time.

“However, now donning my Fat Lad At The Back gear I believe that I have the last laugh.”

The campaign aims to move cycling away from the image of the ‘slim man in Lycra’ and highlight the sport’s diversity and popularity with riders who have non-traditional body shapes.

Creative director Phil Barber said:-

“We wanted to produce a film which highlighted the diversity of FLAB’s customers while showing them having a great time in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside. The aim was to show that cycling isn’t limited to the stereotypical middle-aged man, which is why we made sure to include a wide cross selection of people.

“We interviewed a few FLAB riders to emphasise just how much enjoyment they get from cycling and how FLAB has helped inspire them on their journey. The fact that we filmed the sportive meant that we approached the film as a short documentary about people who just love cycling with their peers.

“We hope the footage is inspiring to other potential cyclists who haven’t had the confidence to jump on the bike before.”

The six-man film crew shot the footage in just one day at the Up North Sportive.

Fat Lad At The Back was founded in 2013 by Ilkley businessman Richard Bye after he struggled to find cycling gear in larger sizes. The company’s sportives were created to be friendly and inclusive.

“Despite the sport of cycling having increased in popularity, there are still thousands of people who are terrified to get in the saddle for fear of being brandished ‘too big’ for the sport,” said Richard.

“Cycling is for people of all shapes and sizes. There’s one aim and that’s to enjoy yourself. In commissioning this film we hope to banish stereotypes of cycling being an elitist sport and instead empower people to get involved”