20th Anniversary Year

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Thursday 10 August 2023

Professor Chris Oliver (1960 - 2023)

Some of the longer-standing members of our group will remember Professor Chris Oliver, who rode with us from about 2007 to 2008. I'm sorry to have to report that Chris died on 29 July at the age of 63.

Chris joined our group after being diagnosed as morbidly obese. This was a life-threatening condition. He weighed 171kg and was barely able to walk upstairs. The solution was a drastic one: a surgical procedure to have a laparoscopic band fitted around his stomach. He was also forced to make some far-reaching changes to his lifestyle, including strict dieting and a serious exercise regime. Cycling was part of that effort. He started riding with TryCycling (the predecessor of EasyCyle), then progressed to Edinburgh 20-Milers and the Spokes Sunday rides. He was eventually able to get his weight down to 77kg.

He told me at the time that our bike rides contributed to saving his life. But not content with weekend runs around Edinburgh, in 2013 he undertook a 3,415-mile bike ride across the United States with his 22-year old daughter.

Chris Oliver had a distinguished career as an orthopaedic surgeon and as the UK’s first Professor of Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh. He had a string of academic achievements and honours, and he contributed to over 400 publications, including a notable 2018 paper on cycling crashes involving tram lines. He was also a vigorous campaigner for active travel in general and cycling in particular, serving for several years as press officer for Spokes and as chair of Cycling UK in Scotland.

There's no doubt that Chris's personal and professional achievements greatly contributed to our understanding of the health and other benefits of cycling. They can serve as an inspiration to us all. It is heartening to know that our own small cycling group played a role - albeit a very minor one - in his story.

Mike Lewis

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