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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 08-02-09, 11:26 AM   #1
Barrettscv 
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My bike now fits and it's disappeared

When I visit a bike shop almost none of the bikes I see will ever fit me. I'm not the biggest Clyde, but at 6 foot tall and more than 200 lbs, most bikes were not developed for someone like me. The sport bikes and the road race bikes are not going to be comfortable and the wheels are not going to be perfectly reliable. The Cyclocross and Touring bikes are better, but I need a 59 or 60cm frame size with 32 spokes per wheel and few, if any, of the bikes seen for sale at the dozens of bike shops in Chicago will meet that requirement.

A year ago I decided I needed a reasonably capable road bike that would allow me to ride 10 hours a week. I also wanted a bike that would perform well enough to finish a Century (100 mile) ride in 6 hours. Knowing that shopping for a bike at some of the bike shops would be as fruitful as asking a blackjack dealer for investment advice, I worked with a professional fitter who supported my decision to build a Soma Double Cross. He suggested it in a size 60cm frame with a 110mm stem and a zero setback seatpost.

But building a bike was just a starting point; I would soon discover that small changes in the position of the seat and handlebars would have a big impact on riding comfort and performance. As I increased my riding from 200 miles per month to 600 miles per month, my body changed. How do I know, well... everything hurt for a while. My feet hurt from softer cycling shoes and limited pedals. My seat hurt from an overly narrow seat. My hands hurt from a stretched out reach that made using the drops a problem. Oh, and my back hurt too, especially if I tried to stay in a more aggressive riding position.

Two things happened. First my body eventually became strong enough for longer and faster rides. My core strength improved. My diaphragm opened up. I lost 30 lbs. Secondly; I reevaluated my shoes, pedals, seat and handlebars.

The shoes and pedals provided the largest improvement. Having hot spots and pain at the balls of your feet will cut short the best ride. I was also surprised that better shoes also reduced the pain I had at the saddle. I stopped putting too much weight on my seat and started to use my shoes and pedals as a platform to support much of my weight. The result, no more sore seat. The better shoes and pedals also supported faster cadence and I was soon spinning at 100 rpm with a smooth crank action. I could also stand and mash while climbing without foot pain or clipping-out. This change alone resulted in higher average speeds and improved ability to endure longer rides.

The other changes needed were minor but also worked well. A compact handlebar from FSA made it much easier to stay on the drops for as long as I wanted. I just needed a little shorter reach, and now my hands stay comfortable even without padding and my back is no longer sore. I also went from a skinny Felt seat to a wider Brooks Professional.

The result is a bike that has disappeared. No discomfort. Ever. Now I focus on developing the motor, knowing that the bike will support me.
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When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-02-09 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 08-02-09, 11:38 AM   #2
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Something that many people don't take into consideration when buying a bike, if they're a Clyde... as you ride, you'll improve and your needs will change. When I started riding on the road, I was using a moustache bar and sitting upright. Now I have about 4" of drop from saddle to handlebar (FSA Compact as well - mine's white) 3 years later. That's why I don't recommend Clydes buy a hybrid or flat-bar road bike if they are planning on doing lots of mileage (or hope to) - they'll outgrow the bike too soon. Something like a touring bike, or a bike with more upright geometry (like a Raleigh Clubman, Cervelo RS, Litespeed Siena, or even a Raleigh Grand Sport with an adjustable stem) is better and can be adapted later. Hell, any bike really with strong enough wheels and enough steerer tube to start upright and then slowly lower the bar as fitness increases.
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Old 08-02-09, 09:24 PM   #3
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I Bought a hybrid and now that I am doing longer rides I find myself wishing for changes. My current seat which originally was very comfortable is painfull to sit on after 25 miles, My feet start to get hot spots at about the same distance (still riding in cross trainers) I just have to deal until this fall when I can make some changes. I love my hybrid and will keep it, but I can see where I am going to end up with a stable of bikes. N+1
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Old 08-02-09, 09:39 PM   #4
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My one wish is that my bike would 'disappear.' Then I know I could ride forever.
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Old 08-03-09, 10:11 AM   #5
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My one wish is that my bike would 'disappear.' Then I know I could ride forever.
I really do have that feeling with this bike. My limits now concern hydration and food. Once I get that sorted out, I'll try a double metric. I've done two 115 miles rides... it's just a matter of time.

Michael
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Old 08-03-09, 10:49 AM   #6
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I've had to fine tune my position as my weight fluctuates. I've been as heavy as 260, and as light as 235. I'm around 245 right now, and that's about where I seem to stay so I haven't needed to tinker with the bike as much recently.

As I lost weight and increased my core strength*, I was able to ride longer distances more comfortably. When I started getting into really long distances (300k and up) I started realizing that I had new problems to work out:
- numb fingers
- numb toes
- sore neck and shoulders
As I was spending more and more time on the bike, the smallest fine-tuning issues started to present themselves. A shorter and taller stem brought my bars within 3/4" drop of my saddle. A new seatpost gave me the adjustability of saddle tilt to compensate for the break-in on my Brooks saddle. Now, distances of 200k/300k aren't uncomfortable. I can concentrate on my hydration and nutrition and just turn the cranks.

*Core strength was probably the most influential factor in changing my position on the bike to alleviate numbness in my hands and soreness in my neck/shoulders by taking the weight off my hands. Dive-bomber pushups, and one I'm not sure has a name; get into an arms-extended pushup position with your arms slightly toward your waist and close to your body. Keep your feet shoulder width apart. Raise one hand in a "pull-starter" motion slowly back to the midline of your ribcage, and lower it. Then the other hand. It stresses the middle abdominals through the plank positioning, and the obliques to keep balance when raising each hand from the floor.
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Old 08-03-09, 11:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
When I visit a bike shop almost none of the bikes I see will ever fit me. I'm not the biggest Clyde, but at 6 foot tall and more than 200 lbs, most bikes were not developed for someone like me. The sport bikes and the road race bikes are not going to be comfortable and the wheels are not going to be perfectly reliable. The Cyclocross and Touring bikes are better, but I need a 59 or 60cm frame size with 32 spokes per wheel and few, if any, of the bikes seen for sale at the dozens of bike shops in Chicago will meet that requirement...

I'm not sure why you think that sport bikes and road race bikes are not (or can not?) be comfortable for us Clydesdale's? The vast majority of road race frames out there can handle our weight and size (Of course, if you're 7'tall you may have a problem). Frames and frame strength are not an issue for the majority of us. Wheels can be an issue. They require some special attention but low spoke count wheels can be very durable if they are built correctly. The only wheels I own with more than 28 spoke are my Randonneuring wheels and the rear wheel on my tandem (32 spokes). I put 10k+ miles a year on my bikes.

I was kind of like you when I first started looking for a new road bike. I thought that I needed a custom bike because of my size. Like you, I also went to a professional fitter. That's the best thing any of us can do. My fitter didn't sell me a bike. He gave me a set of measurements and geometry numbers that fit my body and my cycling goals and I went shopping. Since I'm 6'3" and 230 I was surprised that there were a number of OEM's that had frames/bikes that fit my measurements perfectly. I was able to buy the perfect bike for me right off the shelf!! Everyone is different but we can't give up just because we are bigger. There is no reason we should be relegated to cruiser or cross bikes. I guess what I'm trying to say is, just because we are big doesn't mean we can't have a Ferrari (or in my case a Colnago-C50).
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Old 08-03-09, 11:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by homeyba View Post
i'm not sure why you think that sport bikes and road race bikes are not (or can not?) be comfortable for us clydesdale's? The vast majority of road race frames out there can handle our weight and size (of course, if you're 7'tall you may have a problem). Frames and frame strength are not an issue for the majority of us. Wheels can be an issue. They require some special attention but low spoke count wheels can be very durable if they are built correctly. The only wheels i own with more than 28 spoke are my randonneuring wheels and the rear wheel on my tandem (32 spokes). I put 10k+ miles a year on my bikes.

I was kind of like you when i first started looking for a new road bike. I thought that i needed a custom bike because of my size. Like you, i also went to a professional fitter. That's the best thing any of us can do. My fitter didn't sell me a bike. He gave me a set of measurements and geometry numbers that fit my body and my cycling goals and i went shopping. Since i'm 6'3" and 230 i was surprised that there were a number of oem's that had frames/bikes that fit my measurements perfectly. I was able to buy the perfect bike for me right off the shelf!! Everyone is different but we can't give up just because we are bigger. There is no reason we should be relegated to cruiser or cross bikes. I guess what i'm trying to say is, just because we are big doesn't mean we can't have a ferrari (or in my case a colnago-c50).
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