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  1. #1
    Senior Member Trucker_JDub's Avatar
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    How to ?'s from a newbie...

    When I was younger I road a bike for transportation (I was poor, not rich yet but doing better) but not for exercise. Now I have been driving long-haul truck for 4 years and tacked on 70lbs to my already overweight body. Now I am sitting at 348lbs (6'1"). I don't know how I'm doing it but I'm not diabetic and am still in the 'normal' blood pressure range (by just a couple points). I have decided that I have had enough of this. I am going to be looking for a local job where I am home every night so I can get back into shape (210lbs out of high school almost 30 years old now). Here are a couple questions I have, keep in mind I am looking to loose weight most of all:

    How do you judge when you have had a good workout? With most exercises you can push until your muscles 'fail' but with cycling its not that easy. When do you stop? I pushed up a slight hill 40 minutes the other day (on a MTB), by the end I was an out of energy mess with jello for legs. Is that over kill, or is there such a thing?

    I find after a good ride I get very hungry about an hour later, but I like to ride in the evening so that means I would be eating right before I go to sleep (I know this is bad), is there something I can do to stop these feelings because it can only hurt me in the end.

    Whats better, a long easy ride, or a shorter hard ride where you push yourself to the limit as soon as you can?

  2. #2
    cycling n00b Black Shuck's Avatar
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    For starting out, just having fun on the bike is enough i think. When you are comfortable with the bike and such, get a heartrate monitor to pace yourself with, others here will surely chime in about how to set up your training more efficiently using it. For me, cycling is fun and that's why i do it, the weight loss/fitness is an added bonus :-)

    After a 40 min ride you will need to refuel a bit, and yes it's not very good to eat late, but better than not sleeping is how i see it.

    There are some pretty good threads on using a HRM here, and in the training and nutrition subforum too.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I'd recommend you take it somewhat easy at first and let your legs start getting into shape. It really doesn't take long. A couple weeks can amaze you!
    Ride everyday, even if it's around the block. That goes a long way in keeping you from "reverting" on your conditioning. Legs get in shape fast, but they also get out of shape fast.

    Use 1 lower gear than you think you need. Spin, don't mash. You'll find your stamina is better that way.

  4. #4
    Bikezilla Mazama's Avatar
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    Perhaps a heart rate monitor will help you.

    You will have to change your diet as well to shed the pounds. I have been riding for two years (7,500 miles) and I have not lost any weight. I have redistributed my weight and I am healthier, but I still eat poorly.

    I eat a banana after my ride for potassium. Maybe that would be enough before you went to bed.
    14,000 miles and rolling...

  5. #5
    Senior Member piper_chuck's Avatar
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    Congrats on beginning cycling for fun and exercise.

    You asked which is better, a long easy ride, or a shorter hard ride. I would suggest that until you build what's referred to as base miles that it's best to avoid pushing yourself to the limit. It takes time to build strength. If you push too hard too early, you risk injury, which can lead to quitting, or at least delay your progress. I've seen suggestions that one should have 500-1000, or more, base miles before beginning any kind of speed training. This gives your muscles, joints, tendons, heart, etc, a chance to build some strength.

    I judge my workouts based on how I did compared to my goal for the session. I've been off the bike for a few months, so right now none of my rides are of the short, hard variety. I do have a short hill ride that I do, I just don't push too hard on the hills yet. My rides basically fall into one of three categories, short recovery, short to medium at speed, and long slow. I'm using these to build base miles, and hopefully to start losing some of the excess pounds I've put on over the last 10+ years.

    As I'm building miles, I rarely push myself to the limit or ride until I drop, that can come later. A fairly standard exercise recommendation is to add no more than about 10% extra (miles in the case of cycling) per week. This gives your body a chance to gain strength and minimizes the risk of injury due to over-training.

    I also recommend using a heart rate monitor as a tool for training. When I bought my first one many years ago I was surprised to find that I was actually pushing myself too hard. The biggest value I find with them is that they provide a guide to intensity level. If I'm supposed to be on a slow recovery ride and my heart rate goes to 95% of max, I know I should ease off. They also help me recognize when I've been over-training. Interestingly, I've also discovered that an unusually high heart rate is often a sign that I'm becoming ill. Several times I've felt like I was having to work way harder to maintain a specific pace. My heart rate told me I was indeed working hard, so I ruled out that I was lacking motivation for the ride. Nearly every time this has happened, the next day, the symptoms of the illness, fever, sore throat, or whatever, started to surface. The bottom line for me is that the heart rate monitor is a valuable training tool for me.
    Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Trucker_JDub's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the advice. I am looking forward to this. As was mentioned I know my diet has to change; I have been living on truck stop food for 4 years; I welcome the change. Also I have had a life with nearly no movement. Just driving and not much time for other activity so I know I have a long ways to go. Out of high school I was riding 20 to 40 miles a day averaging 20 mph with out hardly breaking a sweat, now I feel burn starting in just minutes.

    Also I do have a heart monitor watch, I'm not sure exactly how accurate it is but the limited testing I did with it, it seems to be good. What would the best hart rate percentage for me go focus on? For the ride that I spoke of in my first post I stayed around 85%-95% for the most part, is this good? I felt great after my heart rate slowed down a little in the end and a little soar the next day not bad but just enough to let me know I had a good session.

    Thanks again for all the responses.

  7. #7
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    You need to run a cycle on your HR. 85-95% is great training for that explosive sprint, but the intensity will build muscle mass. For initial weight loss, around 70% is quite sufficient and use that to build aerobic endurance base with intervals at 90% max.

    I'd also recommend you keep your Dr in the loop here, since you are transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trucker_JDub View Post
    Thanks for all the advice. I am looking forward to this. As was mentioned I know my diet has to change; I have been living on truck stop food for 4 years; I welcome the change. Also I have had a life with nearly no movement. Just driving and not much time for other activity so I know I have a long ways to go. Out of high school I was riding 20 to 40 miles a day averaging 20 mph with out hardly breaking a sweat, now I feel burn starting in just minutes.

    Also I do have a heart monitor watch, I'm not sure exactly how accurate it is but the limited testing I did with it, it seems to be good. What would the best hart rate percentage for me go focus on? For the ride that I spoke of in my first post I stayed around 85%-95% for the most part, is this good? I felt great after my heart rate slowed down a little in the end and a little soar the next day not bad but just enough to let me know I had a good session.

    Thanks again for all the responses.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  8. #8
    Lanky Lass East Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post

    I'd also recommend you keep your Dr in the loop here, since you are transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle.
    I'd second that recommendation. He or she will be very happy about your desire to improve your health, and seeing those numbers improve will help keep you motivated.

    Oh, and welcome to BikeForums and the C/A forum!

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  9. #9
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Only thing I would add is that I have read, and found out myself, that if you can eat within 45 minutes of exercise, the body tends to use the fuel for increasing glycogen stores, rather than laying it down as fat.

    Personally I have not significantly changed my eating habits, ( if anything I think I eat more ) and have lost 20lbs. I am doing a 22 mile commute to a job with more of a physical component however. Congratulations on your decision to improve your health, stick at it!

  10. #10
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'm 6'4" and 205 lbs. so I don't really have a weight problem. I've never bicycled to lose weight. I tried once. I was up to 215 and took a tour down the west coast - Seattle, WA. to Santa Cruz, CA. 4 weeks of cyling - 1200 miles or so. I ended up GAINING weight. It was only a couple of pounds. My slight paunch may have diminished slightly, and the gained weight was muscle.

    So I can't comment on cycling to gain weight, but I can offer advice on how to embrace cycling as something enjoyable that becomes part of your lifestyle.

    I think if you're going to become a regular rider and stick with it you're going to have to discover how to make it fun and enjoyable, rather than something you have to endure and suffer through. If you ride that way you won't get fit as quickly, but it will come. If you push too hard you may burn out.

    I think there are two main components to making cycling fun and not too hard. One is to have a wide range of gears available on your bike. The other is to learn how much torque your legs can generate comfortable and staying with that.

    College-age racers can generate a ton of torque and don't mind some pain - in fact, they seem to embrace it. For me, if I push too hard my legs and my heart/lungs get tired too quickly and I need to rest. Over the years I've learned how hard I can push my legs, and I don't exceed that much. If I start going up a hill and my legs are pushing too hard I shift down. If you push too high a gear you risk damaging your knees. I could do this when I was 20, but I'm 56 now. I don't worry about speed. It used to bother me when riders passed me when I was younger. Now I let it go. My riding is based on being able to ride all day, then get up the next day (and the next and the next) and do it again.

    In order to ride up hills without pushing your knees too hard you need to have a wide range of gears available - especially low ones. I would recommend a triple chainring, with a 24-tooth granny, maybe even 22. A wide range cassette is also good, with perhaps a 32-tooth low gear. Climbing hills is what discourages people the most from riding their bikes. If you have low enough gears available you don't have to suffer; you just have to go slow. You won't work as hard, but you're still getting in shape.

    That's how I would recommend you use bicycling to get in shape - slowly and gradually. If you keep riding regularly, and ride for longer distances, you'll get in shape. You might as well enjoy it. My regular weekend rides are typically between 25 and 30 miles. That's enough to get a good workout while not suffering. If I've been able to get on my bike pretty regularly I start upping that to occasional 40 or 50 miles rides. I also sign up for a century or two each year. It gives me motivation to train (if you try a century without training you WILL suffer) and I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I'm able to finish one. In my book, riding a century is a real feat - whether others can ride double centuries or not.

    I've known many people (including on this bulletin board) who got all enthusiastic about cycling at first, but after a few months their excitement diminished and they quit riding. I've been a pretty committed rider my whole life, except for a couple periods when I didn't have a bike. But there are always days when I know I should ride but I just don't feel like it. The reasons are many - I've had a busy week and just feel like vegetating, it's such a hassle to get ready - filling water bottles, making a sandwich, pumping tires, getting bike clothes on, etc. Sometimes it's cold out and maybe there's a wind, and..........

    Anyway, when I make myself get up off my butt and get out for a ride, I invariably enjoy it. I think, "Gee, I'm glad I did this. It was silly of me to almost allow myself to stay home and be a slug." The trick is to remember that when you're feeling like a slug. Remember that every time you've pushed yourself to go for a ride it has been worth it. I pretty much always enjoy riding. The closest I come to not enjoying it is when I have to fight a gnarly headwind. That's no fun! But when I persevere against the wind and make it to my destination, I always feel good about it. And I ALWAYS enjoy the glow in my body after a good workout. When I go for a good, 30-mile bike ride, I'm pretty much guaranteed of feeling great for the rest of the day - tired, but great! I never get depressed or discouraged after a ride.

    So, to make a long story shorter, my recommendation would be to find a way to make bicycling a regular, long-term part of your life. Lose weight and get into shape gradually and enjoyably, and then stick with it until you get so old you can't ride anymore - maybe age 85?

    P. S. I am diabetic. I know that's a concern for Clydesdales. Well, it's a reality for me. And bicycling is the best medicine I know of for dealing with it. It helps with all the issues diabetics face.

  11. #11
    Support JDRF b_young's Avatar
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    Congrats on changing your lifestyle to extend your life. I really can't add any more than what is above. The hardest part is behind you now, realizing there is a problem and doing something about it. Keep it up.
    "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift that is why it is called the present." - Kung Fu Panda

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Swimjim's Avatar
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    I highly recommend getting a DR. in the loop and a heart rate monitor is a really good way to find out what your body is doing. Your doctor should be able to help you with that by the way.
    In a different life time I worked third shift at a fuel desk in a truck stop. In doing so I got to know many of the regular drivers. An interesting bunch. One who's name was Cal always carried his road bike bungied to the headache rack. His normal run was from Wisconsin to South Carolina. At his "normal" stops he would get on his road bike and go for a ride. Cal was a guy who was tall and fairly well put together, albeit getting on in years. Always interesting to talk to as well. I'd like to think his bicycling kept him that way.
    I know the local job market leaves a bit to be desired as I'm looking for a new career myself due to some back problems. After consulting with your doctor, I see no reason why you can't start now. As long as you frequent the southern latitudes anyway. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and make sure you have fun with it. That will keep you riding!

    Jim

  13. #13
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    I think I might know who Cal is.... I drove for 25 years, after all!

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimjim View Post
    I highly recommend getting a DR. in the loop and a heart rate monitor is a really good way to find out what your body is doing. Your doctor should be able to help you with that by the way.
    In a different life time I worked third shift at a fuel desk in a truck stop. In doing so I got to know many of the regular drivers. An interesting bunch. One who's name was Cal always carried his road bike bungied to the headache rack. His normal run was from Wisconsin to South Carolina. At his "normal" stops he would get on his road bike and go for a ride. Cal was a guy who was tall and fairly well put together, albeit getting on in years. Always interesting to talk to as well. I'd like to think his bicycling kept him that way.
    I know the local job market leaves a bit to be desired as I'm looking for a new career myself due to some back problems. After consulting with your doctor, I see no reason why you can't start now. As long as you frequent the southern latitudes anyway. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and make sure you have fun with it. That will keep you riding!

    Jim
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  14. #14
    Bike Shop Geek CPclydesdale's Avatar
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    Tom has great advise. My 2 cents comes from my Brother-in-law, who's a personal coach and triathlete.

    Riding at 70%, you start burning reserves (fat) after 45-50 minutes in the saddle. Find a flat loop or route of more than 20 miles and do that 3 times a week. I was a die-hard MTBer, until I was 248lbs and the wife want IT in the dark. I got a road bike and did long slow rides until I was 199lbs (1.5 years later) and the wife treated me like a porn star (I know too much info, but my point is made).

    I had the sad benefit of a weak stomach. I couldn't eat 2 hours before/after a ride, so I usually rode during dinner and had a banana or salad after. Other than that, I ate whatever I wanted and my body ended up telling me what food was good for me the more I got in shape.

    Good luck to you and have fun doing it
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Trucker_JDub's Avatar
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    Well I thank you all once again for the wealth of information.

    I went for a 40 minute ride this morning up and down some slight hills using the advice of not pushing so hard (heart rate kept near 70-75%) and using a gear or two lower. I was amazed at the the way it went. I only burned about 50 calories less then my other 40 minute workouts but I wasn't breathing very hard and I didn't feel completely tired out. In fact I was fighting the urge to push harder on the last few blocks of the trip. I covered about 4.5 miles in all, and I still feel like I might go out again tonight.

    Thanks again from the bottom of my soon to be healthier heart.

  16. #16
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    I like to park my car @ one trailhead of our local MUP and try to go as fast and hard as I can to the other end. Once i'm there, it doesn't matter how tired I am, I'm now 9 miles away from my car and in a not-so-good part of town. That is a huge motivating factor for me to get back to my car ASAP.

    Welcome to BF and to the clyde forum. Congrats on your decision to get healthy. I went from 270ish down to around 215 last year and I expect to cycle even more this year. Yay bicycles!

  17. #17
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trucker_JDub View Post
    Well I thank you all once again for the wealth of information.

    I went for a 40 minute ride this morning up and down some slight hills using the advice of not pushing so hard (heart rate kept near 70-75%) and using a gear or two lower. I was amazed at the the way it went. I only burned about 50 calories less then my other 40 minute workouts but I wasn't breathing very hard and I didn't feel completely tired out. In fact I was fighting the urge to push harder on the last few blocks of the trip. I covered about 4.5 miles in all, and I still feel like I might go out again tonight.

    Thanks again from the bottom of my soon to be healthier heart.
    Keeping a higher cadence (gearing down) puts less pressure on your legs when going up hills and saves you for the rest of the ride. The problem with pushing until you fail is when your muscles fail on a bike, you might be far from home. BTW, if you're close to home and feel like pushing it, there's nothing wrong w/ a sprint home. Gear up, push hard and hammer it home. You should stay on your bike afterwards, gear down and ride around the block a few times to cool down though.
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  18. #18
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    Looks like I am a little late to the thread, but I too have the issue with a ravenous hunger after a ride. Seems like no matter how much I eat afterwards I'm still hungry.

    What has helped me the most with the post ride munchies is eating before and during the ride. The later is the big one. Before I ride any type of distance or commute I eat a bowl of musilix(sp?) which is basically plain oatmeal, flax seeds, dried cranberry, sliced almonds, dried dates, and a few slivers of coconut to add a sweet taste and wedge between your teeth. You can find this product wholesale at your local health food store. Its got tons of fiber, omega threes, and protein. Eat about 45 minutes before your ride and have a snack mid way like an apple or banana. The fructose will do wonders to bring your energy level back up.

    Other than that, just get out and ride. Take a picture of your ride and post it...its a rule around here

    Bau

  19. #19
    Senior Member Trucker_JDub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bautieri View Post
    Take a picture of your ride and post it...its a rule around here

    Bau
    I actually did take a couple pictures during the ride i was talking about. It was an absolutely beautiful day for the middle of winter. Clear and sunny, about 72 degrees F. Thats summer weather for around here, now today though, we are back to normal. Nice weather considering about a week ago this place was declared in a state of emergency due to a wicked winter storm.

    I will post the pictures but I took them with my phone and my link cable is buried in a duffel bag from a recent move I made. So when the team of archaeological diggers unearth it I will post the pictures.

  20. #20
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    This thread makes me really happy.

    I'm no expert on fitness, I'm 20 years old, and approximately 280 pounds, down from about 295ish. I recently got into fixed gear cycling. I live in a city, so it's honestly the most convenient way to get around, not to mention being fixed gear keeps me from slacking off while riding. I generally ride 3-5 miles a day. My new year's resolution was to ride at least a mile a day, but I've been doing more than that by a long shot.

    My suggestion would just be to ride because it's a fun way to get around, and it's nice not having to spend money on gas!

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