'I was 49kg and on the brink of collapse': The rider calling for greater awareness of Crohn's disease

After years of agony with gut problems, Sam Gray was finally forced to face his demons – and is now encouraging others to speak out and seek help

Cyclist Sam Gray with his bike
(Image credit: Future)

"Eight years ago I all but stopped riding, basically because I didn’t want to get hit by a bus,” says Sam Gray, speaking to me from his home in south London. He describes having a “hard time” keeping alive his love of cycling after moving to the city in his early 20s. The problem was compounded by unexplained and worsening stomach problems. “After every meal, I’d go through a lot of pain and cramps,” he explains, “often having to spend a lot of time in the bathroom.” 

Gray finds it hard to explain now, but for almost a decade he put off seeking help. “I did the typical male thing of kidding myself, ‘it’s fine, I don’t need to see a doctor, I’ll leave it’.” Was it that he felt embarrassed about the nature of the symptoms? “Yes, and a lot of different things,” says the 33-year-old. “I felt somehow responsible for what I was going through, like I must be doing something wrong, eating the wrong things, living the wrong way.” 

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David Bradford
Features editor

David Bradford is features editor of Cycling Weekly (print edition). He has been writing and editing professionally for more than 15 years, and has published work in national newspapers and magazines including the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the Irish Times, Vice.com and Runner’s World. Alongside his love of cycling, David is a long-distance runner with a marathon PB of two hours 28 minutes. Having been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2006, he also writes about sight loss and hosts the podcast Ways of Not Seeing.