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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 03-25-12, 11:05 PM   #1
Youaintgotjack
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Argh my knees hurt and I'm the slowest thing on wheels....

Hi fellow cyclists!

If you've had a rough day and if you don't want to be depressed by the likes of me then I warn you now to click the "back" button. The truth is I'm feeling a little run down and old right now and thought I'd seek comfort by venting a little and also asking how everyone else copes with the aches and pains of cycling.

Since going car free in January it has been very slow progress. When I'm on my bike I feel like the slowest thing on the road and my pedals feel like they are barely moving. I haven't been cycling daily, maybe about 2-3 times a week...I'd like to get out daily and was thinking that might help? I ride everywhere with my toddler in tow on my cargo bike so my set up with him and the bike and his seat, plus panniers makes for 100lb of "bike" + my weight (which I just can't mention right now)...I feel like I'm barely moving. I've been experimenting with gear use and find I work better with higher RPM's and get less knee pain that way.

Prior to my life as a cyclist I was about as sedentary as a mum of a toddler can be, I keep busy- but not really the same output as cycling. There are times now where my heart feels like its going to beat out my chest.


I've signed myself up for the 30 days of biking event, and therefore have committed to getting on the bike every single day in April- which is scary for me right now.

I guess my questions would be:

Did most of you feel like this when you started but not so much now?
Or, is it going to be this tough all the way through- or at least until a major amount of weight comes off?
Do any of you take supplements for joint pain?
Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for me?

Very much appreciated in my time of need!

Below is a picture of my awesome bike from my little trip to the park with my family today. Thank's again for letting me vent, I write about my journey in my blog but didn't feel like doing a long blog post tonight- thanks!!!!

Very much appreciated in my time of need!
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Last edited by Youaintgotjack; 03-25-12 at 11:18 PM.
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Old 03-25-12, 11:15 PM   #2
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No, I didn't feel like that!

However, let me mention that the times I trailered my kids it was AWFUL! Holy buckets, 100 lb of bike is an awful burden, don't be so hard on yourself. That bike looks like a boat anchor even without a kid sitting in the back (but it also looks really suited to the task at hand)

so... don't be depressed, don't be hard on yourself and do think about getting yourself "fitted" to your bike. Knee pain is no joke. Here's some fun reading for when you put your tykes to bed: http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm

It's entirely possible that changing your seat position will improve your knee pain dramatically. Maybe you ramped up your exertion level and are feeling the stress, maybe your bike needs to be adjusted; I can't say from here. But don't ignore it.

I highly recommend getting in some of those rides with no kids or extra baggage, if you can manage that. Or maybe just go car free 3 days a week (not sure why you're car free, but if it's by choice maybe you need to ease into it. If not, then KAMPEI! Go for it)
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Old 03-26-12, 03:31 AM   #3
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I agree with the bike seat idea. Get it up as high as you comfortably can. It will improve your knee pain and your power.

When I first started, I really was the slowest thing around. I was using a 24 inch wheeled folding bike with a very low seat. A year later and learning how to better balance, mount, dismount (all with a leg brace) I'm on a 700c wheeled bike with proper seat level. It does take time, but things will improve the more and more you use the bike, get comfortable on it and build up your aerobic activity.
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Old 03-26-12, 03:56 AM   #4
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I'd agree with the first two posts only I'd caution you to be careful raising the saddle too high. Often, that simply takes the problem away from your knees and puts it right into your hips. Go and have your bike fitted. Believe me, it's WELL worth the cost and you'll be glad you did. Otherwise, hang in there. Once you get the bugs ironed out, it gets a lot more enjoyable.
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Old 03-26-12, 05:47 AM   #5
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About a year ago I asked some of the fast guys over in the 50+ forum what kind of things I needed to do to get faster. (I'd ridden maybe as much as you have.) A rather astute person said "The first year just ride. Learn to love cycling. It takes 5 years to reach your potential." I rode as much as I could and worked on being more comfortable riding. In spin class and seeing other people riding bikes the most common thing I notice is low seat height and slow pedal cadence. Both are unnecessarily hard on knees. I think the trade offs are leg strength versus cardiovascular capacity. Slow pedaling stress your leg muscles and knee joints. Faster pedaling stresses you heart and lungs. I think improving cardiovascular capacity should be the first focus.

I'm not a big believer of signing up for "pledges". I do believe in consistency and cross training. If you feel like giving up then you're doing too much. It took me a month to get to being able to walk 20 minutes 3 times a week and I held myself to that for the first 6 months. What I was able to do over 2 1/2 years ago matters little. What does matter is that I stuck with it.

I would recommend finding that distance or time or activity that you're comfortable doing and just do that for another 3 months. Get to where you look foward to the activity then start pushing yourself just a little. Start thinking in term of how many years it'll take to get to where you want to be.
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Old 03-26-12, 06:42 AM   #6
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Instead of going for a ride everyday it might make sense to alternate riding with walking. Your bike with child and gear is very heavy, it has to be hard to be an exercise beginner on such a set up. Adding brisk walking rather than biking more may help. If you feel like you must bike every day in April I would call it a success if you rode around the block or other very short rides for many of the days. Do you need to always haul your child? Can you do some short rides without the weight of the kid and gear?

As others have said, check the fit on your bike. And spin those pedals in a lower gear. Don't worry about how fast you are going, just that you are forming an exercise habit that you enjoy.
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Old 03-26-12, 07:18 AM   #7
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Awesome advice in this thread so far, especially the seat height thing!

Did most of you feel like this when you started but not so much now?
When I started riding I rode as far as I could and that's it, my legs hurt for a bit but it went away with more riding, I agree with the advice to mix some walking into your days.

Or, is it going to be this tough all the way through- or at least until a major amount of weight comes off?
I don't think its the weight as much as it is conditioning, I am currently 360ish pounds and rode 20 miles on Saturday with a friend on the rail trail, the entire week before Saturday (5 days in a row) I towed my 60 pound daughter on an Adams trail a bike and I say tow because she likes for daddy to pull her around while she pretends to pedal an average of 6 miles per day half on hilly roads, the other half was rail trail and I felt great after/during every ride, I also walk daily with my other daughter in her stroller, 2 miles per day typically.

Do any of you take supplements for joint pain?
No supplements here past my daily vitamin

Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for me?

Advice: Spin the pedals in an easier gear rather than mashing the harder gears, make sure the seat is adjusted to the proper height and keep at it!

Inspiration: I use to weigh 534 pounds and couldn't walk more than 5 minutes without a break, now I ride almost every day doing longer rides on the weekends as much as possible and drive my wife nuts with my bicycling obsession.... stick to it and the conditioning will come!

diggin the bike btw and will check out your blog for sure! mine is in my sig if you care to have a look
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Old 03-26-12, 08:01 AM   #8
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This is not going to be a popular opinion, and I've already been flamed for expressing similar ones in the car-free forum, but here goes:

You're trying to run before you can walk. Despite the "Clydesdale" moniker for the males among us, human beings are not horses. Going from doing basically nothing to schlepping around 100 lbs on a bike is like starting to lift weights by putting 150 lbs on the bar. (And I'm speaking from experience, sort of - I tore my rotator cuff by trying to lift too much too quickly, and had to stop weight training altogether for the last year.)

As others have said, the first step is learning how to ride a bicycle. Everyone thinks they know how to ride because they tooled around on their cruiser when they were kids. But, as Jethro said, learning to control your cadence, getting comfortable in the saddle, getting the bike to fit right so your knees or other parts don't hurt - should definitely come before trying to move heavy burdens.

One alternative is to do what I used to see people do in Europe back in the early 1970s, i.e. walk the bike when you're carrying a lot of stuff. People who were car-free before it became a philosophy used the bike as an extension of their walking radius. When they could ride, they rode. When they couldn't, they used the bike to carry the load, and walked it - almost like a two-wheeled shopping cart.

One thing I had to get used to since getting back on the bike after 14 years and +75 lbs was the idea that there's no shame in walking the bike. As you ride more, as your weight drops off and you get into better shape, as you learn to use the bicycle ... you'll be walking a lot less. But, when I've got 35 lbs of groceries in my baskets on my 43 lb bike, I know I'm going to be walking some hills.
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Old 03-26-12, 09:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Youaintgotjack View Post
Hi fellow cyclists!

If you've had a rough day and if you don't want to be depressed by the likes of me then I warn you now to click the "back" button. The truth is I'm feeling a little run down and old right now and thought I'd seek comfort by venting a little and also asking how everyone else copes with the aches and pains of cycling.

Since going car free in January it has been very slow progress. When I'm on my bike I feel like the slowest thing on the road and my pedals feel like they are barely moving. I haven't been cycling daily, maybe about 2-3 times a week...I'd like to get out daily and was thinking that might help? I ride everywhere with my toddler in tow on my cargo bike so my set up with him and the bike and his seat, plus panniers makes for 100lb of "bike" + my weight (which I just can't mention right now)...I feel like I'm barely moving. I've been experimenting with gear use and find I work better with higher RPM's and get less knee pain that way.

Prior to my life as a cyclist I was about as sedentary as a mum of a toddler can be, I keep busy- but not really the same output as cycling. There are times now where my heart feels like its going to beat out my chest.


I've signed myself up for the 30 days of biking event, and therefore have committed to getting on the bike every single day in April- which is scary for me right now.

I guess my questions would be:

Did most of you feel like this when you started but not so much now?
Or, is it going to be this tough all the way through- or at least until a major amount of weight comes off?
Do any of you take supplements for joint pain?
Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for me?

Very much appreciated in my time of need!

Below is a picture of my awesome bike from my little trip to the park with my family today. Thank's again for letting me vent, I write about my journey in my blog but didn't feel like doing a long blog post tonight- thanks!!!!

Very much appreciated in my time of need!
If you're bored, and you want to see 'my' beginning... You should try rereading my 'saga' thread - it's all about getting back onto a bike after 30+ years, being fat, knee replacement, and more... http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...gery-and-More!
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Old 03-26-12, 09:37 AM   #10
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Knee pain is mostly about cadence. Of course bike fit is important! But pedaling too slow is a killer on the knees. A cadence of 70RPM or higher is much better on the knees. FYI - my first ride was all of 400ft. Now, some 3yrs later I often do 20-40 mile rides multiple times weekly - slowly, but I enjoy riding.
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Old 03-26-12, 11:47 AM   #11
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Thank you everyone that took the time to respond to my post! I will try to respond individually as the day progresses-my son is being a little pest right now and my concentration wanes. I decided to include some of your advice on my blog as I thought it not only showed again the great company one keeps as a cyclist but also I'm sure other people will have these similar questions if they decide to start riding. Cheers!
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Old 03-26-12, 11:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
No, I didn't feel like that!

However, let me mention that the times I trailered my kids it was AWFUL! Holy buckets, 100 lb of bike is an awful burden, don't be so hard on yourself. That bike looks like a boat anchor even without a kid sitting in the back (but it also looks really suited to the task at hand)

so... don't be depressed, don't be hard on yourself and do think about getting yourself "fitted" to your bike. Knee pain is no joke. Here's some fun reading for when you put your tykes to bed: http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm

It's entirely possible that changing your seat position will improve your knee pain dramatically. Maybe you ramped up your exertion level and are feeling the stress, maybe your bike needs to be adjusted; I can't say from here. But don't ignore it.

I highly recommend getting in some of those rides with no kids or extra baggage, if you can manage that. Or maybe just go car free 3 days a week (not sure why you're car free, but if it's by choice maybe you need to ease into it. If not, then KAMPEI! Go for it)

Your response made me laugh- "Holy buckets, 100 lb of bike is an awful burden" lol It's true, it is a lot of weight and I think I'm so used to stubbornly fighting my way to get what I want that I forget that this may need a more gentle approach- takes some time to get there!

The link was really helpful too and I read the entire thing last night and will do again today as I was a little tired.

THANK YOu!
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Old 03-26-12, 11:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Rona View Post
I agree with the bike seat idea. Get it up as high as you comfortably can. It will improve your knee pain and your power.

When I first started, I really was the slowest thing around. I was using a 24 inch wheeled folding bike with a very low seat. A year later and learning how to better balance, mount, dismount (all with a leg brace) I'm on a 700c wheeled bike with proper seat level. It does take time, but things will improve the more and more you use the bike, get comfortable on it and build up your aerobic activity.
Thank you Rona for the encouragement! I will readdress the seat issue again just in case I haven't gotten it right.
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Old 03-26-12, 11:53 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Street Pedaler View Post
I'd agree with the first two posts only I'd caution you to be careful raising the saddle too high. Often, that simply takes the problem away from your knees and puts it right into your hips. Go and have your bike fitted. Believe me, it's WELL worth the cost and you'll be glad you did. Otherwise, hang in there. Once you get the bugs ironed out, it gets a lot more enjoyable.
We have to take my husbands bike in soon for an adjustment so I will have them help me with my bike. I think I need to adjust my handlebars too. Thank you!
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Old 03-26-12, 11:57 AM   #15
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I don't know your height, but I have a hunch the seat may be too low.

Basically, to check height do this.
Hop on the bike and generate some speed to coast.
Put your HEELS on the pedals and pedal.
Your legs should pretty much fully extend without rocking the hips.
Since I wear size 13's, I've added about 5/8" to that, but YMMV.

The analogy I use is to pretend you are spading the garden.
What happens if the top edge of the shovel is raised higher?

One other thing is-
How long are the cranks? The size will be stamped inside the arm (at least on the rings side) near the pedal. (something like 165-175)
IF they are 175MM, likely they are too long.
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Old 03-26-12, 11:59 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
About a year ago I asked some of the fast guys over in the 50+ forum what kind of things I needed to do to get faster. (I'd ridden maybe as much as you have.) A rather astute person said "The first year just ride. Learn to love cycling. It takes 5 years to reach your potential." I rode as much as I could and worked on being more comfortable riding. In spin class and seeing other people riding bikes the most common thing I notice is low seat height and slow pedal cadence. Both are unnecessarily hard on knees. I think the trade offs are leg strength versus cardiovascular capacity. Slow pedaling stress your leg muscles and knee joints. Faster pedaling stresses you heart and lungs. I think improving cardiovascular capacity should be the first focus.

I'm not a big believer of signing up for "pledges". I do believe in consistency and cross training. If you feel like giving up then you're doing too much. It took me a month to get to being able to walk 20 minutes 3 times a week and I held myself to that for the first 6 months. What I was able to do over 2 1/2 years ago matters little. What does matter is that I stuck with it.

I would recommend finding that distance or time or activity that you're comfortable doing and just do that for another 3 months. Get to where you look foward to the activity then start pushing yourself just a little. Start thinking in term of how many years it'll take to get to where you want to be.
Thanks for your advice! I do agree in regards to the pledge that they can be a bad idea- but in this situation I'm keeping in mind two things- 1) I can go to the end of the block and back if necessary- I don't need to push myself, and also 2) I'm going to be sensible- if its not in the interest of my health then there's no point doing it. I agree I shouldn't get caught up on the "must do this" attitude. I do however, feel like I need a swift kick in the direction of commitment. Thanks again!
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Old 03-26-12, 12:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
Instead of going for a ride everyday it might make sense to alternate riding with walking. Your bike with child and gear is very heavy, it has to be hard to be an exercise beginner on such a set up. Adding brisk walking rather than biking more may help. If you feel like you must bike every day in April I would call it a success if you rode around the block or other very short rides for many of the days. Do you need to always haul your child? Can you do some short rides without the weight of the kid and gear?

As others have said, check the fit on your bike. And spin those pedals in a lower gear. Don't worry about how fast you are going, just that you are forming an exercise habit that you enjoy.
I have decided to go for a walk today- I think that is a great idea! Thank you!
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Old 03-26-12, 12:01 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Push View Post
Awesome advice in this thread so far, especially the seat height thing!

Did most of you feel like this when you started but not so much now?
When I started riding I rode as far as I could and that's it, my legs hurt for a bit but it went away with more riding, I agree with the advice to mix some walking into your days.

Or, is it going to be this tough all the way through- or at least until a major amount of weight comes off?
I don't think its the weight as much as it is conditioning, I am currently 360ish pounds and rode 20 miles on Saturday with a friend on the rail trail, the entire week before Saturday (5 days in a row) I towed my 60 pound daughter on an Adams trail a bike and I say tow because she likes for daddy to pull her around while she pretends to pedal an average of 6 miles per day half on hilly roads, the other half was rail trail and I felt great after/during every ride, I also walk daily with my other daughter in her stroller, 2 miles per day typically.

Do any of you take supplements for joint pain?
No supplements here past my daily vitamin

Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for me?

Advice: Spin the pedals in an easier gear rather than mashing the harder gears, make sure the seat is adjusted to the proper height and keep at it!

Inspiration: I use to weigh 534 pounds and couldn't walk more than 5 minutes without a break, now I ride almost every day doing longer rides on the weekends as much as possible and drive my wife nuts with my bicycling obsession.... stick to it and the conditioning will come!

diggin the bike btw and will check out your blog for sure! mine is in my sig if you care to have a look
WOW you are an inspiration! I took a look at your blog and will be following a long- thank you for taking the time to address my questions!
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Old 03-26-12, 12:05 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post
This is not going to be a popular opinion, and I've already been flamed for expressing similar ones in the car-free forum, but here goes:

You're trying to run before you can walk. Despite the "Clydesdale" moniker for the males among us, human beings are not horses. Going from doing basically nothing to schlepping around 100 lbs on a bike is like starting to lift weights by putting 150 lbs on the bar. (And I'm speaking from experience, sort of - I tore my rotator cuff by trying to lift too much too quickly, and had to stop weight training altogether for the last year.)

As others have said, the first step is learning how to ride a bicycle. Everyone thinks they know how to ride because they tooled around on their cruiser when they were kids. But, as Jethro said, learning to control your cadence, getting comfortable in the saddle, getting the bike to fit right so your knees or other parts don't hurt - should definitely come before trying to move heavy burdens.

One alternative is to do what I used to see people do in Europe back in the early 1970s, i.e. walk the bike when you're carrying a lot of stuff. People who were car-free before it became a philosophy used the bike as an extension of their walking radius. When they could ride, they rode. When they couldn't, they used the bike to carry the load, and walked it - almost like a two-wheeled shopping cart.

One thing I had to get used to since getting back on the bike after 14 years and +75 lbs was the idea that there's no shame in walking the bike. As you ride more, as your weight drops off and you get into better shape, as you learn to use the bicycle ... you'll be walking a lot less. But, when I've got 35 lbs of groceries in my baskets on my 43 lb bike, I know I'm going to be walking some hills.
Hello- thank you for your reply! I agree 100% with everything you have said! I really needed to refocus on these points, I'm going to take a few days off and then start with shorter rides for the next few weeks to see how my progress naturally leads me. Thank you!
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Old 03-26-12, 12:10 PM   #20
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If you're bored, and you want to see 'my' beginning... You should try rereading my 'saga' thread - it's all about getting back onto a bike after 30+ years, being fat, knee replacement, and more... http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...gery-and-More!
Peter C- people like you are the whole reason why I firmly believe this can be done. THANK YOU!!!! I'm slowly working my way through your 'saga' thread- congrats on all your hard work. I look forward to my reading time.
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Old 03-26-12, 12:11 PM   #21
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Knee pain is mostly about cadence. Of course bike fit is important! But pedaling too slow is a killer on the knees. A cadence of 70RPM or higher is much better on the knees. FYI - my first ride was all of 400ft. Now, some 3yrs later I often do 20-40 mile rides multiple times weekly - slowly, but I enjoy riding.
How does one know they are at about 70 RPM? I have a computer Im going to install- will that tell me?
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Old 03-26-12, 12:21 PM   #22
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If I remember correctly you jumped into the car-free thing with very little cycling ahead of time. Plus you're hauling a heavy bike and your son.

Follow the good advice from those above, but don't be hard on yourself. You don't have to be fast. Keep your cadence up, adjust saddle angle, and most of all, Have Fun!

You're doing fine. It does take extra motivation on some days.
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Old 03-26-12, 12:26 PM   #23
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you can count or you can get a bike computer with a cadence sensor - obviously that's easiest. If you can get to the point where pedaling at about 80 feels natural you won't need a bike computer to tell you how fast you're pedaling anymore.

If you're pedaling so fast your butt is bouncing on the seat - it's too fast.
If you're pedaling so slow you are rocking from side to side to generate the necessary power to move the pedals, you're pedaling WAY too slow.
60 rpm is one full revolution per second, so just look at your watch for 6 seconds while pedaling and multiply by 10. (don't crash. )
If your hips rock during a normal, easy pedal stroke then your seat is probably too high. The heel on pedal test is a reasonable approximation of your correct seat height, at least as a starting point.
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Old 03-26-12, 12:40 PM   #24
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How does one know they are at about 70 RPM? I have a computer Im going to install- will that tell me?
Only if the bike computer both offers 'cadence', and has a sensor mounted. A simple way is to count your right leg on every down-stroke for 30 seconds, and double it. Once a person gets used to staying at a given cadence, usually it becomes habit and the need to count or have it on a bike computer is no longer needed. But 60 as a *lowest*, 70-80 as sweet, and higher only if you like (won't hurt) - low speed pedaling (AKA mashing) can really trash knees, and if you already have knee issues, is a real no-no.

The 'Saga' has some nice real-world info on a fat guy trying to get off the couch and become more active again, mixed with some real boring posts...

As for after the thread ended, I am currently bouncing around 310-315lbs, finally killed the Pepsi habit, ride a recumbent Trike now, and can do 20-30 mile daily rides with zero issues but enjoyment. Left TKR, Right THR, and Right Shoulder (so far), hopefully this will be my first non-surgery year since 2002.

Now back to your regularly scheduled thread :-)
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Old 03-26-12, 01:25 PM   #25
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How does one know they are at about 70 RPM? I have a computer Im going to install- will that tell me?
Count the number of revolutions for 15 seconds and multiply by four, that gives you RPM. With practice, in a place with no other traffic, this is not difficult.

The trike with the dog in it, in my sig, and avitar, is 100 lbs loaded. I also have many other types of bikes to be able to compare to the trike.
100 lbs makes everyone slow. That's life. And I have been riding for decades. For me I don't care about being the slowest thing around. I know it's the heavy load. When I ride most of my other bikes the difference in speed is obvious. I also enjoy having the dog along. You get the kid along, enjoy the kid. It does get easier as ride more.
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