The human guinea pig

Doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital have been lining up to study bits of me and I’ve turned into a one man research project. The idea is to undergo a series of medical tests now and when I return in 2014 to get a sort of ‘before and after’. It will be interesting on a personal level to see how I change physically over the duration of the ride but it could also be a good way to help promote the health benefits of cycling when I give talks about my ride to groups and school children on my return. Having said all that I don’t think I prepared myself for the harsh reality of giving a group of scientists free rein to experiment on me. Here’s a selection of the nasties I’ve been subjected to…

  • Having a nasogastric tube inserted (the tube is inserted up the nose, down the oesophagus and into the stomach).
  • Zapped by magnetic pulses or ‘twitch tests’ which feels and appears to the outside observer not dissimilar to electrocution (see graphic video below).
  • Pushed to my physical limit on an exercise bike to test my oxygen consumption (or VO2 max). I discover that ten years of pies and hedonism has indeed taken its toll.
  • Having my chest shaved in order to attach electrodes (although thankfully during this ordeal my friend and camera-lady Jess erupted with laughter, jerking the video camera around uncontrollably and rendering all footage uninterpretable).
  • Getting into the Bod Pod (or body composition tracking system analysis) – I find out that I’m composed of 20% fat and have therefore crept into the “excess fat” category.
  • Having a huge needle inserted into my quadriceps and 4 pea-sized lumps of muscle removed. The tissue will go into liquid nitrogen for 5 years when another sample will be taken and the two can be compared under the microscope.

And here’s the evidence…