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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-28-09, 11:55 PM   #1
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I am a Bike Masochist! Are you?

Hello all, I am an Athena at 230 lbs trying to strengthen my legs, get my fast twitch muscles motoring and lose some weight.

Everywhere I ride around this part of New Jersey is anything but flat. For every downhill 'wee!' I get, I am met with another huff and puff hill. Sometimes, really steep ones. I'm starting to love it. I get all pumped up now when I see it and go "come on! bring it!" but I often end up going pretty slow by comparison, even though I'm working extremely hard. It's kind of embarrassing as other cyclists whiz past me.

I don't know how to gear up correctly for hills. I think my bike is TOO adjustable for me. I tend to stay on 2-3 or 1-5 for hills, but can't seem to get past that. I am starting to think that part of this stems from my saddle being too low and my knees hitting the bottom of my ribs. What do you think?

Who else loves hills?
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Old 07-29-09, 12:31 AM   #2
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I hate short hills but I love long ones.
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Old 07-29-09, 08:31 AM   #3
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Spring populaire = 100k, ~6000' of climbing
Spring 300k = ~9500'
Tour de Cure century = ~6500', fixed gear
7 Hills of Kirkland century = ~7100'
Summer 200k = ~6200'
Summer 300k (upcoming) has a 24.5 mile long, 4100' climb starting at mile 35.
Summits of Bothell (upcoming) = 40mi, 3500'; includes 3 climbs above 15% grade.
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Old 07-29-09, 09:17 AM   #4
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Ahhh! Do you all just get into that zone after a while where the burning is either ignorable or pleasurable? I love me some endorphins. No way around the hills around here, so I am embracing my overlords.
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Old 07-29-09, 09:39 AM   #5
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I love the burn, myself. I do ultralong distance. Well, up til this year I did, at least, I got hurt in January and this year has been much shorter rides. I hit the zone on a ride and the world simplifies down to traffic patterns and my breathing and nothing else. It's like a Zen state. I'm through the burn and riding on the endorphin high.
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Old 07-29-09, 09:54 AM   #6
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Ahhh! Do you all just get into that zone after a while where the burning is either ignorable or pleasurable? I love me some endorphins. No way around the hills around here, so I am embracing my overlords.
Around 5 hours, I'm just hitting my pace.
Around 10 hours, nothing hurts.
After 20 hours, I'm just eating and turning the cranks.
Watching the sun come up on day 2, and you're still riding, you finally realize why it's all worth it.
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Old 07-29-09, 10:25 AM   #7
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I had that experience yesterday. Having so much fun that I didn't realize I was destroying myself. Come to this horribly steep but short hill and I used everything I had to make it to the summit. I get off the bike and the world spins and gets a little hazy. I had bonked harder than I ever had.

Obviously I overexerted myself, and it was a little dangerous, I was at MHR for a good minute and a half. But I will tell you, laying there in the wet grass on the side of the path, fighting nausea, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world at that moment.

My job is completely sedentary, the feeling of my body straining, working, fighting to do something it hasn't done in a long time is a primal rush.
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Old 07-29-09, 04:30 PM   #8
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I'd say you ae doing it all wrong. Working extrmely hard means anaerobic. I do lot so hills. I do a good efort but as I crest a hill, I drop the gear and spin FAST at an over the top!!

I fyou are trying to strengthen the legs to lose weight, makes no sense. You should be trying to spin (high rpm's) in a lighter gear. GO aerobic for longer periods of time. That will make you lsoe weight, not hard weightlifting type efforts.

If you notice fast hill climbers, they aren't pushing big gears, they are spinning at a high cadence. At 230, you have the strengh, you need the heart and legs conditioned to move fast.
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Old 07-29-09, 05:07 PM   #9
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I'm most concerned with losing weight, so I will definitely take your advice. I figured it'd be good for my thighs since I am playing a full season of ice hockey in October, but I probably get more conditioning for that out of just skating and my favorite low stance martial arts anyway (my thigh's have gone up 1/4" in circumference since I started ice skating and playing hockey, heh).

However, what I need most is cardiovascular endurance and weight loss; I will do as you suggest.

I bought some comfy padded women's shorts today, and I'm bringing my bike in next week to have my QR seat post changed to something I can tighten with a hex wrench or just have permanently bolted on; the QR always slides around and falls on me, no matter how much i tighten the lever. I think this will help me get more power out of my pedal stroke since I will be able to fully extend my legs.
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Old 07-29-09, 05:55 PM   #10
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Not fully extended. must be a sligth bend in knee while pedal is at the bottom. If you extend too far, you will lose power. Trust me!

YTou sound active so ods ar you havemore than enough power int he legs. SO now it's all about incorporating hat power into legspeed.

If you learn to spin at a high cadence, you will lose weight. That's what cardio is all about. Lots of people mistake leg strength for heart strength. Keeping the legs moving at a high rate will do more for your cardio/weightloss than pushing a big gear.

Good luck!
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Old 07-29-09, 07:24 PM   #11
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If you want to increase your fast twitch muscle fibers, you want to sprint, not climb hills. If you're getting ready for hockey season and want to last the whole game, work on cardiovascular fitness. To work on the bursts you need in hockey, do sprint intervals.
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Old 07-30-09, 01:10 AM   #12
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jyossarian: I will also give that a try.

I have to take what mother nature/the highway departments give me as pavement and landscape, but I'm sure I could try to hammer with everything I have at a low gear up a slope just as much as I could sprint on flat land. Even my neighborhood is nothing but slopes. It's all good in HIIT I guess, I'll do anything to get my heart pumping and shed some more of this weight (believe me, I've got the diet down to a science O-o; I have a lot of calorie counts completely memorized, my BMR etc I just dont know how much cycling actually burns)

Steady, long inclines seem to kill me too but I like the pain. I attached a picture of one I encountered in Kentucky where I learned to drive. Never seemed like much of a hill til' I tried to pedal up the freaking thing...
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File Type: jpg Resize.jpg (75.5 KB, 28 views)
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Old 07-30-09, 04:56 AM   #13
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if your knee's are hitting your ribs your seat is much too low. you want it in a position that your legs do not break the plain in other words don't let your knees come up past parallel with your thighs and make sure you are not over extending your knees to make a full rotation. this will help your riding speed, and stamina. unless you want joint issues!
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Old 07-31-09, 01:58 PM   #14
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I don't want to make a new thread just for something that fits into this convo...

I'm having trouble with my saddle. I think no matter how much I tighten it, my quick release post always slides and shifts a little bit. I start the ride out nice and high and by the end of a meager 4.8 miles, my seats slipped down again and my knees are coming up too far. Also, no matter how much I tighten it, my saddle shifts backward probably due to my bulbous butt putting too much weight on it. I turn the hex wrench as far as it will go to no avail. It's great for a few minutes but eventually after hard pedalling, the nose of the saddle is stabbing into my crotch again with... less than favorable sensations.

Cool thing: riding on a highway over the interstate really motivates me to pedal like a fiend. When going over the interchange's merge lanes, I peel off so fast in order to prevent speed demon (60 mph usually nobody goes 45mph) motorists from creaming me trying to cross the lane. I find I perform my best cardiovascular under duress.
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Old 07-31-09, 02:24 PM   #15
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If you are having problems with both contact points, it aint the hardware. I'm 230 and dont have that problem even at 250.

One thing to try is a dab of grease on the tip of the bolt. It allows it to penetrate a little further and better.
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Old 07-31-09, 02:27 PM   #16
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Another thign for the lsipping seatpost. I once had that problem with BOTH seatposts on a tandem. I cut a small rubber patch out of an old tube. I used it as a shim between the post and the post sleave of the frame. Slipped in the post with the rubber shim. It held better.

I wa still bothered knowing it wasn't right. SO I asked a buddy mechanic of mine. He said the psots were prolly out of round. SOme mfgr's use cheap stuff as stock equipment. I bought two new post and sure enough, no problem. I paid about $10 for the post ($20 for a pair). Work great!
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Old 07-31-09, 02:35 PM   #17
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You need a new seat-post like this http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product..._200276_200462 take you current seat post into your bike shop to make sure you get the right diameter. Your current one may be a shade too small. A new one like this will keep the saddle in the position where you set it.
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Old 07-31-09, 03:08 PM   #18
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Another thign for the lsipping seatpost. I once had that problem with BOTH seatposts on a tandem. I cut a small rubber patch out of an old tube. I used it as a shim between the post and the post sleave of the frame. Slipped in the post with the rubber shim. It held better.

I wa still bothered knowing it wasn't right. SO I asked a buddy mechanic of mine. He said the psots were prolly out of round. SOme mfgr's use cheap stuff as stock equipment. I bought two new post and sure enough, no problem. I paid about $10 for the post ($20 for a pair). Work great!
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You need a new seat-post like this http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product..._200276_200462 take you current seat post into your bike shop to make sure you get the right diameter. Your current one may be a shade too small. A new one like this will keep the saddle in the position where you set it.
^See above pair of bolded statements^

If you have room to shim your seatpost, you're rockin' the wrong size equipment on your bike. In single stepwise increments, almost nobody's going to be able to eyeball the difference between a 26.0, 26.2, 26.4, 26.6, 26.8, 27.0 and 27.2 mm posts.
Caliper measurements are a must (and so is proper use of the caliper, or else a 27.0 might measure 27.2!)
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Old 07-31-09, 03:49 PM   #19
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2nd MrBeans comments r.e. spinning. Improve your hill climbing by doing intervals at a higher cadence. Often people push too hard... a HR in the proper range will give you much better cardio benefits.
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Old 07-31-09, 04:27 PM   #20
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Hello all, I am an Athena at 230 lbs trying to strengthen my legs, get my fast twitch muscles motoring and lose some weight.

Everywhere I ride around this part of New Jersey is anything but flat. For every downhill 'wee!' I get, I am met with another huff and puff hill. Sometimes, really steep ones. I'm starting to love it. I get all pumped up now when I see it and go "come on! bring it!" but I often end up going pretty slow by comparison, even though I'm working extremely hard. It's kind of embarrassing as other cyclists whiz past me.

I don't know how to gear up correctly for hills. I think my bike is TOO adjustable for me. I tend to stay on 2-3 or 1-5 for hills, but can't seem to get past that. I am starting to think that part of this stems from my saddle being too low and my knees hitting the bottom of my ribs. What do you think?

Who else loves hills?
It depends on your bicycles gearing, and your bicycles fit. If your knees hit your ribs when pedalling, your saddle is miles too low. On a standard bicycle, it should be impossible to have the bicycle upright, sitting on the saddle and touch the ground. There are two ways of fixing this, first is have someone who is knowledgeable about it, help you adjust the saddle properly. Some riders will get a professional bike fitting done. You want more of a touring fitting rather then a race fitting done.

The second method, have someone hold the bike upright or put the bike on a trainer. Put your feet on the pedals, now put one heel on a pedal and straighten your leg out the pedal crank should be pretty much parallel with your leg at this point, you should be able to lock your knee in that position, if it's bent, then your saddle is too low, if you can't reach, it's too high.

Now as to gears, if your bicycle has dérailleur shifting where the chain moves from sprocket to sprocket, there should be 2 or 3 on the front, and between 5 and 10 on the back. Forget the back (right shifter) for a moment, if you have 3 on the front, this is ranges of gears, one is quite small, the next on is larger, the next one is the largest. The small one is low range, used for steeper climbing and dealing with stiff headwinds. The middle range is for flat and near flat ground, the high range is for downhill and stiff tailwinds. What some riders do, is get a bike computer with cadence, which measures pedal RPM, the target range for RPM is between 80 and 100, so you pick gears that enable you to pedal in this RPM range easily. These days I don;t even look at speed, I just get to the proper RPM, and motor on. New riders are often quite a bit lower then 80, but once you can get there, you will notice things start to get easier when your up there.

You really need to deal with that saddle though.
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Old 07-31-09, 11:26 PM   #21
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You really need to deal with that saddle though.
The problem is that I did, but it keeps slipping down no matter how much I tighten the quick release. I haven't tried shimming anything up in the post yet, but I will for a quick fix; Could I have my LBS do a caliper measurement of my seat post to ensure it's the right fit? It seems to be a common problem on this bike. Maybe I need to order another? Also will a higher quality saddle stay put when I tighten it down (the angle of the saddle, I mean)?

Furthermore, would it be of any help to have my quick release replaced with a collar that tightens with an allen wrench? I am told bolting it down in that fashion will keep it in place better, but I'd better be damn sure I know where I want my saddle at (and I marked it, indeed).

I must say, I hate this big saddle with these squeaky shocks. I want something super sturdy. However if I'm going to get an "anatomical" saddle, I don't know if going for the cheap 40 dollar one is ok or if Terry Saddles/Specialized Saddles are worth the money since I've never actually felt one.

This saddle issue is the only thing that keeps me confined to 5 miles.... I swear. I'm thinking of actually buying a Terry Liberator X touring saddle, but don't know what is going on with my seat post anymore. So much headache.

I'm so new to this technical stuff... if you're curious, I'm riding a Raleigh Detour 4.0... pretty much stock. I don't know how to do any of the work myself and I'm scared to screw it up, really.
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Old 08-01-09, 09:02 AM   #22
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We jut bought some Terry Gelissimo Liberator from Performance (in the local shop) Feels really gooood. Gina is really happy withit too. $50 saddle and worth it as far as comfort. Only time will tell over the next couple of years as far as durabilty.

Heck, I;mtempted to replace my Terry Fly onthe roadie withone!

I would go for the clamp myself. I've never liked or had good luck with the quick release systmes on a seatpost.
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Old 08-01-09, 05:09 PM   #23
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A couple of shots on today's ride. Her seat is the Liberator x and mine the Liberator Y. both pics of her saddle. Hmm, looks like she rubbed off the "L" so I guess it's Iberator x

Good thing about Performance shop is they let you return a saddle if you aren't happy, within 30 days.

I'm not sure about online sales but instore does. But I've never had to retrun one. I've used the Terry Fly with great results, but this Liberator is more comfy.



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Old 08-01-09, 08:02 PM   #24
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Further proof that saddle fit and comfort is a completely individual thing. I look at the Liberator saddle and can't imagine spending more than a couple miles on that barcalounger. To each their own!
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Old 08-01-09, 10:47 PM   #25
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Alright, I just went on Performance Bicycle's website. I bought the Liberator X saddle. It was already on sale for $64.99, and they were having a 2-day 20% off everything sale so I bought a Racktime Standit rear rack (seemed reasonable, no real bad reviews etc) for panniers so I could lug some martial arts equipment with me to practice.

I'm stoked, can't wait to get it. Got a great deal, I think. Now the question is whether or not I need to replace or modify my seat post.
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