G2I at summit of Salter's weightloss journey
UNFIT and 125kg, on a whim Garrett Salter took up cycling.
"It was a little impulse buy," he said. "I was just browsing through the local ads on Gumtree, saw an extra large road bike and thought that could be good. I messaged the guy that afternoon and picked it up.
"I'd been doing parkrun and found it just wasn't doing much for me, ending up with sore knees and ankles from the high impact. I always liked riding my bike as a kid, never for more than enjoyment though, and thought I'd try this.
"When I first started it was just a bit of a fitness kick and it's turned into a crazy obsession."
Eighteen months, three bikes and 35kg later, the 26-year-old music teacher now tips the scales at 90kg, has gone from a 44 inch waist to a 34, and has ditched XXL shirts for medium.
His weightloss story takes an inspirational turn this Saturday when he lines up in 228km Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.
Instead of watching the peloton of professional cyclists zoom past his South Grafton house, this year Salter will join the cluster of more than 350 fit, determined, lycra-wearing athletes powering along the Gwydir Highway and over the treacherous Gibraltar Range.
But he's not out of his limits. Salter already tested his wares before entering the Division Three field, tackling the ascent for the first time on a training ride in February, and a month later completing the whole course in the non-competitive Grafton to Inverell Cyclo Sportif.
"I've thrown myself in the deep end," Salter admitted.
"I wasn't going to do it. About six months ago I wouldn't have even really considered it.
"I've done a few charity rides and the sportif, but this will be the first big race.
"I know I'm good for the distance. It will be just a matter of seeing how I go at the higher pace. I know where my limit is and how hard I can and can't go.
"If I'm in the main bunch I'll be pretty stoked. But I don't have any prediction because I've never done it before. Whatever happens, happens.
"But I should do it just to finish, learn heaps about the race and next year be better prepared and have a good crack then."
Salter's switch to the saddle in November 2016 changed his life forever.
"I'm a completely different person, I've never been fit in my life.
"Even as a kid, I was never really sporty. I always played hockey and soccer but was never that good at it, and much preferred not to do exercise than do exercise.
"But something about riding bikes, I just got sucked into it.
"Every day is a challenge, always looking to go a little bit harder, faster.
"It just gets addictive, the endorphins, that rush you get from any sort of exercise.
In an Instagram post on November 2, 2017, exactly one year after discovering his newfound passion, Salter said his "only intention at the time was to lose a few kilos and get a little bit fit".
He "blew that out of proportion", riding more than 11,000km in his first 12 months.
"My first ride was 15km at an average of 22kph. Today's ride was 56km at an average of 34kph. Safe to say I've never been this fit in my life."
He accredits 2013 Grafton to Inverell C Grade winner and former school friend Matt White for being able to get up to speed initially.
"I knew if I wanted to join in on the bunch rides, I had to get to a point where I could average 28kph for 30km," Salter said.
"I did a bit of work with Matt White, who helped get me up to speed.
"Once I started doing the bunch rides I met people from all walks of life, and everyone was really inviting and encouraging, and when I started to see results with weightloss and what-not I thought this is good, I want more, I want more.
"It's been a really good social thing. And just starting the day bright and early, you get to see a cool sunrise every morning and hang out with people who become your mates."
Since those early days trying to keep up with the bunch on Grafton Cycle Club morning rides, it's been his steep rise in the ranks that has turned heads, knocking about with the scratch markers and regularly notching up club wins to now entering his first competitive race.
Salter admits his newfound obsession can take its toll on the hip pocket, and is thankful for his family's support.
As well as money, cycling also consumes a lot of time. But Salter's new passion was not the result of newfound spare time - in fact, quite the opposite.
His pursuit began several months after marrying his wife Lisa, and the couple now have eight-month-old Genevieve to keep their hands full.
For that reason, Salter admits preparation for his Grafton to Inverell debut has not been ideal, but wouldn't change it for the world.
"Lately, training has been less consistent, mostly due to Genevieve. But when I have a good week of training I still have those minor gains.
"My family's been really supportive and are all pretty proud of me for what I've done."
This year Salter joins fellow Grafton Cycle Club riders Erron Hennessy and Bradley Cooper entered in Division Three, set to start 20 minutes after the National Road Series competitors, at 7.35am.
"You don't have to be good at a particular sport, you've just got to be doing something," Salter said.
"Even if it's ditching the car on the way to work, increase the activity, get that heartrate up a bit, it's all going to help at the end of the day.
"I just think cycling is a great way to get about."