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  1. #1
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    New member, first rides of year

    Hi everyone! I've been lurking here for a few days and thought I should say something. I'm 40 years old, dangerously close to 300 lbs, reasonably healthy otherwise. I've always been a casual bicyclist - a few miles a week. One day last August I decided to get in shape and lose weight by riding daily. Two days later, 2 feet of snow fell and that idea went out the window.

    As warmer weather approached, I decided to go for it again. I bought myself an Electra Townie 21, which I've wanted for a long time. (I also have a K2 hybrid that doesn't seem to handle my weight without slipping all over the place, and a perfectly good cheap mountain bike.)

    Last week we had a nice day (meaning 43 degrees, icy wind, and a bit of snow toward the end) so I got started. I did almost 4 miles last week and 5 miles so far this week. I'm starting with 2.5 miles a day until I get comfortable with the bike.

    A couple of questions --

    1. How many miles/day did everyone start out with? Am I doing too much too soon? I'd like to build up to 20 miles a day average, but that will probably take a year. (I was walking 2 miles/day before this, so I'm not totally out of shape.)

    2. Is it better to be consistent (i.e. 5 miles a day) or to take some shorter and longer rides?

    3. Do you think I can get up to 20 miles a day on a "comfort" bike? Or will I end up needing something else? So far, the upright position seems better for my knees (which sometimes have trouble) and for my breathing (asthma).

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to the conversations here. I'm pleasantly surprised at how many "big" riders there are, although I hope to become a slightly smaller one soon.

    Mike

  2. #2
    VoodooChile zoste's Avatar
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    Hi Fig! Welcome to the passion.

    I started out in March 2007 at 280 riding a cheap Schwinn that I bought at Target. At first I had a hard time riding around the block (about a mile at the time), but I did it pretty much every weekday. On weekends my girlfriend and I went to a local MUP and rode about three miles out and three miles back. In about three weeks we had increased that to ten miles out and ten miles back, but I was still having trouble managing the hills on my one mile "around the block". By October of 2007 we put the bikes away for the winter. In March 2008 I bought a Trek 7300 hybrid and instead of riding around the block, I rode around the neighborhood, doing about an hour a day. I decided to train for a century, and by August 2008 I was riding 60 miles on the MUP every weekend, and still doing an hour a day weekdays. I guess that kind of answers number 1.

    2. I was pretty consistent...like I said, about an hour a day, and slowly increasing my weekend miles. What's generally accepted wisdom is to take a day off about once a week to give your body a chance to recover. You don't build muscle by working out; your body builds muscle by recovering from a workout.

    3. Yep - ride what's comfortable and gives you joy. This is supposed to be FUN!

    BTW - where do you live that it snows two feet in August? I want to avoid that part of the world
    Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

  3. #3
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    Welcome to the forums!

    I dont really ride all that consistantly...I have other hobbies and I have to spread my time between all of them (kayaking and cycling are my top priorities, as well as mowing the lawn in nice weather, gardening, etc.) But I will give my input!

    1: I start with 5 miles per ride in early spring, once the roads are salt free. Right now I put around and just ride for a half hour on my beater schwinn MTB since there is still salt and crap on the sides of the roads. No sense using my good bike. Once the roads are clear, however, I will ride a few 5 mile loops, then work my way to 10 miles then 15 is my normal weekday limit. I work second shift, so I have to ride before work, and anything too much I wont be good for work. Weekends are generally a bike ride with my girlfriend (20+ miles) and a day in the tandem kayak/fishing, or any other of our outdoor adventures (hiking, geocaching, photography...)

    2: I think its good to just stay consistant, but work more miles in as your body feels comfortable doing so. 2.5 miles gets easy? try 3.5 miles. then 4.5, etc. Let your body tell you how much you can do, but push it just a little. My first 10 mile ride after the 5 mile loops gets a bit tiring by about 9 miles, but after the first time or two, my body adjusts.

    3: Absoluetly! My girlfriend has a Trek 7100wsd I bought her when we first started dating (how could a then 18 year old NOT have a bicycle???) and we ride ~25 miles on weekends on the Canal path, which is super fine crushed gravel/dust. Ive done 30 miles on the same trail with my dad on mountain bikes, so a comfort bike shall be fine. If its more comfortable to you, your going to ride it farther and longer!

    And yes, not all cyclists are frail little road racers, some of us actually have some "meat on our bones" so to speak I will see fairly big people out on the canal path and it actually makes me smile, because at least they are out exercising, no matter how fast they go, it beats sitting home watching tv and eating! Well OK I still enjoy eating, but gotta balance it with exercise!

    Speaking of biking, time to take a few miles on my "beater" bike... Have a good day and keep at it, you will be riding for an hour or more a day before you know it

  4. #4
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    Welcome, figby!

    A couple of questions --

    1. How many miles/day did everyone start out with? Am I doing too much too soon? I'd like to build up to 20 miles a day average, but that will probably take a year. (I was walking 2 miles/day before this, so I'm not totally out of shape.)

    I started with a couple 5 mile weekend rides last February. Then I decided to go a little further and see what it would be like riding to work - 7 miles one way. By early April I was commuting daily, 14 miles round trip. I started out at what was probably actually around 325# (6'1" w/ long torso, aged early 30s), but built up the fitness fairly quickly. Just ride. Keep riding; you might be surprised how fast you build up fitness and stamina.

    2. Is it better to be consistent (i.e. 5 miles a day) or to take some shorter and longer rides?


    I ride the same 14 mile RT 5 times a week and don't always have much luck squeezing in longer rides on weekends. So I tend to be more consistent than not. I'm down 25 lbs. and several inches off my waist with little change in diet, so consistency seems to work OK for me. Generally, I think mixing it up is better - both physically and in terms of enjoying the ride. The most important thing to remember is that riding is better than not riding!
    3. Do you think I can get up to 20 miles a day on a "comfort" bike? Or will I end up needing something else? So far, the upright position seems better for my knees (which sometimes have trouble) and for my breathing (asthma).

    Sure, why not? Like zoste, I started on a Target-bought Schwinn... a hybrid. I still have it. I've had to upgrade/replce my wheels, but otherwise, it's served me well. Hoep to even try some light weekend camping-touring on it this summer. I want to get a different bike, but that's not a financial reality right now, so I make due with what I've got. I imagine your bike should be fine for 20 miles a day.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to the conversations here. I'm pleasantly surprised at how many "big" riders there are, although I hope to become a slightly smaller one soon.

    There are quite a few of us, and we mostly have similar aspirations in the weight area - lose some! Welcome to the herd!

  5. #5
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    1. How many miles/day did everyone start out with? Don't worry about distance. Don't worry about speed either. Ride for time. If you can do 30 min. at a comfortable pace where you can still hold a conversation, you should be able to consistently ride everyday. You should feel a little tired and maybe feel some muscle soreness/tightness, but that's normal. Just stretch out after you're done. If you ride to exhaust or are cramping and in pain when you're done, you overdid it and have to take a few days to recover. And if you can ride more than 30 mins and have the time, go for it.

    2. Is it better to be consistent (i.e. 5 miles a day) or to take some shorter and longer rides? If you're consistent, your body gets used to it quickly. Change it up. Try and ride a minimum of 20 mins. at a time and throw in longer rides when you have the time and inclination. Make sure you're prepared. Carry tools, patch kit or spare tube and water. You don't want to do a long ride and get stranded far from home.

    3. Do you think I can get up to 20 miles a day on a "comfort" bike? Yup, you can cross the country on a comfort bike. You can do 20 mile rides w/in a month or two. Search here and @ sheldonbrown.com for tips on bike fit. Knee problems can be exacerbated by poor fit. If your legs aren't fully extending or are over extending, that can cause knee problems. Ditto if your seat is set too far back or too far forward. As for asthma, remember to ride at a pace that allows you to have a conversation.
    HHCMF - Take pride in your ability to amaze lesser mortals! - MikeR



    We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!

  6. #6
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    I'm originally from SLC also but been away for more than a few years. Where do you do your riding?

    A couple summers was when the riding bug bit me pretty good. I started with the short 5~10km rides and gradually worked up to where that was the normal almost daily routine last summer. I got my self worked up to doing 30+km rides a couple weekends per month. And by the end of the summer, I managed to get in several 75km rides.

    This summer a group of us are planning a 150km ride from Germany to France. So due to weather here also being cold, snowy, windy, and just plain miserable for riding, I am also doing 45min rides on the gym bikes to get ready for the big ride.

    I found consistency to be the best way to keep it going good. If I slacked off, it was harder to get restarted. But once restarted it always felt better. So I now always try to get in at least a 3+ rides/week. Or for now hit the gym for the 45min workouts 3+ times/week.

    Comfort bike - good start. Trek 7xxx bikes like mentioned above are also pretty good. I started with a Trek 4300 mtb and put one of the big gel filled comfort type seats it but at the end of last season I threw it out and put on a good Selle AnAtomica and it has been a much better riding saddle. The big gel saddle plus my big saddle tended to rub things raw. The new little seat took a bit of getting used to and adjustments, but it is much nicer for the long rides.

    One other thing I have found is I haven't lost a lot of weight. I have lost a bit of the softness around the middle and a I have firmed up a bit. I know I also need to change my diet. So that is my plan for this summer, more riding and change of diet to start shedding a little weight. Like you mentioned, I do plan to lose a bit of weight but I have no plans to turn into a toothpick. I do enjoy the great German food, but not the beer - don't do that stuff.


    Mike

  7. #7
    Member
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    Thanks everyone for the advice and the welcome!

    > <i>BTW - where do you live that it snows two feet in August? I want to avoid that part of the world</i>

    Utah. I'm probably exaggerating, I think it was September when the snow started. But it sure felt like a long winter...

    ><i>I'm originally from SLC also but been away for more than a few years. Where do you do your riding?</i>

    We actually live in the south part of the valley, about 10 miles south of SLC. We're fortunate to have a neighborhood with about 5 miles of bike trails, and on top of that there are lots of low-traffic roads nearby. So I could easily ride a 20 mile loop home and back without any major traffic issues.

    Went out today for a ride even though it was 38 degrees F... The wind made it feel like about 10. I'm sticking to 2.5 miles because I had a bit of leg soreness from yesterday's ride. I'm going to try to ride every weekday this week - Friday is supposed to be almost 60 degrees. Then I'll take the weekend off to recover and try for 3 miles a day next week.

    I'm working on my diet a bit (already switched to diet soda, adding fruits and veggies instead of sugar snacks) but the biking is way more fun so I'll focus on that for a while.
    --
    Mike

  8. #8
    Junior Member Giordana's Avatar
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    I started riding 2 miles 5 days a week, to and from work. Then I moved, and commuted 5.5 miles each way, 4 -5 days a week. The ride had some serious hills. Since I didn't own a car, I rode everywhere. I also rode the bus to sections of the bike path (when I could find space on the bike racks).

    So far, I've ridden 7 miles this year, but I plan to do a lot more riding, including a metric century in September.

  9. #9
    VoodooChile zoste's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by figby View Post
    I'm working on my diet a bit (already switched to diet soda, adding fruits and veggies instead of sugar snacks) but the biking is way more fun so I'll focus on that for a while.
    Biking really IS way more fun, but if your goal is to drop pounds, you need to watch the diet, too. It takes an hour of moderate biking to burn the calories from one MilkyWay...much more efficient from a weight loss standpoint to eat sensibly.
    Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

  10. #10
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    Should try to dump the diet sodas also. Rat poison in those things is not good is definitely not good for people. Besides most soda is formulated to get you hooked anyway. Try going just with water when you feel a bit of a thirst. An occasional diet soda when you want some taste but work on dropping them completely. Flavored water can be good also.

    Another thing you might like to do is take along a GPS when you ride then feed the data to a site like trailguru. Lets you see different stats on your ride. One of my longer rides from last year: http://www.trailguru.com/wiki/index.php/Track:9GES Post photos and other neat things about your rides.

    Keep it up even through all the little setbacks that will come - that is the real secret. Don't worry about it just have fun!

    "Endeavor to persevere."

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.

  11. #11
    VoodooChile zoste's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ms99 View Post

    "Endeavor to persevere."
    Hah! I love it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csEzTwKemwY
    Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

  12. #12
    Degenerate Grouch xray1978's Avatar
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    Welcome, to the forum! I started out doing 2 miles per trip, as my muscles developed and I lost weight I increased my ride by 2 mile increments. I experienced little pain increasing mileage slowly, that and having a bike shop friend help me get the bike adjusted correctly. Between eating properly and riding I am now down to 188 lbs from 240 lbs.

    Don't worry about your bike either, just ride. I started off on an Electra beach cruiser with one speed. I have rode that old horse 50mi with out problems. Sure, there are faster bikes out there but for me it is not always about fast. I would guess though, that as you lose weight and increase your stamina you will eventually get something faster. When I broke the 200 lb mark I rewarded myself with a newer, faster bike.

    Another thing, try to be positive and patient, sometimes I would get frustrated because I felt I was not making progress as fast as I thought I should but, I stuck with it and it paid off. I no longer have elevated blood sugar, sleep apnea went away, hypertension is gone, and I have energy to spare.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Laserman's Avatar
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    My advice would be to not worry about miles or time, they are somewhat useful reference points but the real reference is your body and what it tells you.
    Start out nice and easy when the pain starts take a rest then do it again the next day.
    In a surprisingly short time you will be able to spend all day riding with minimal discomfort.
    30 or 40 miles on my Giant Cypress is an easy ride for me now, I plan on doing at least one century ride on it this year.
    Set phasers to butt-whup!

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