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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 09-25-12, 10:14 AM   #1
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How long did it take to gain some fitness?

My wife just started riding with me.

At this point she can ride 5 or 6 miles at about a 7mph pace and that exhausts her for the evening with her legs feeling like mush. (We all know what THAT feels like!) I'm learning that the days she rides, I need to be responsible for dinner.

The goal for the near future is for her to be able to keep up on a casual group ride of 10-15 miles at a 10-12 mph cruising pace. She asked me last night how long she can expect it to take if she rides 3 times a week at minimum. I have no basis for a good comparison. The longest I've been off the bike was 4 years and when I got back on, my body knew the drill and I was riding 15-20 miles in a month. She's never been fit in this sort of way, even when she was younger and not overweight.

So, what is the experience and advice of some of the folks here in the C&A forum? Thanks.
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Old 09-25-12, 10:18 AM   #2
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Once a week, try to increase things just a tad but understand the terrain you are going to ride. For example, my wife went on a 5 miler at first and we sloely increased from there with speed, distance and hills. She now can do 28 miles with rolling hills or 40 flat at about a 14 mph clip or 25-30 miler doing a 15 mph clip. She has come a long way.

Key is not to push her. Heck, my wife will still sleep several hours after the ride because she is tired.

Make sure she hydrates and eats properly. My wife is still figuring this out.

As far as how long it will take her... I have no clue. Dont overdo it. Thats all I know!
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Old 09-25-12, 12:39 PM   #3
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Keep supporting her and don't push her to much. We all are built different but none of us will know her body like she does. If she is hydrated and has good food (fuel) in her it will help. The ride she has her goal set for is what they label a "D" pace ride here in my area. Usually the key to those rides is they have a "nobody gets dropped" policy, or a few people will slow down and ride with her for encouragement. Another thing to consider is if she can do 6 miles alone or just with you, in a group she can probably do 10 now.
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Old 09-25-12, 12:50 PM   #4
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I would add that its generally not a continuous smooth progression - there will be some plateaus and then leaps forward. I re-started this summer, and the first 6+ weeks were really slow to improve, then in the next 4-6 weeks after that, things seemed to improve regularly.

So, slow / steady on the increases, and don't forget the rest days (sounds like that's covered), and the improvement will come.
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Old 09-25-12, 01:18 PM   #5
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How old is she?

I started out at a similar place at age 56. I was overweight but had already lost half the weight I needed to lose. I never had been fit. I was a slow starter not only because of fitness but because of poor bike fit , an extremely uncomfortable saddle, and lots of shoulder and neck pain when riding. Once all these issues were resolved I improved quickly. But it took some months to resolve those issues. I ended up with a new bike, a bike fit and physical therapy.

Looking back at my old posts, in April of 2011 I was struggling to get over 5 miles. By the end of the month I did an eight mile ride and was all thrilled with myself. By June 12 I did a ride of 16 miles and could hardly sleep that night due to discomfort. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...oon?highlight= June 26 of last year I finally did a 20 mile ride, averaging 9.6mph. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...nes?highlight= To address all the pain I had when riding I ended up doing physical therapy and lots of core exercises. These helped tremendously. By the beginning of September I did a 48 mile charity rides averaging maybe 12.5 mph.

I probably am a poster child for lack of fitness. It was fun going back and reading my old posts.
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Old 09-25-12, 01:30 PM   #6
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How long will it take? No clue. I would concentrate on distance, not speed. It takes the pressure off and makes the ride more enjoyable. It also gives her more control- you can ask whether she's ready to turn around, and if she's anything like my wife, sometimes she'll say, "No, let's go a little further."
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Old 09-25-12, 01:39 PM   #7
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6-8 weeks of rides no longer than she is doing now should be enough base to build upon. Resting heart rate would be a good thing to track. It should drop as she gains fitness no matter the weight. I think you may have started her with too much. For years we have been told that 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week is enough for good health. It seems you have almost doubled that to start. I consider "basic fitness" as the ability to exercise for the same 20-30 minutes at moderate intensity without being excessively tired. Once that is achieved it is safe to add duration or intensity for a good while. At some point you can add an increase of both duration and intensity at the same time, but this really should only be done with a solid base, fitness level more in line of rides/ runs/ walks in excess of an hour. The activity does not really matter. This is the same plan I have used successfully as a runner, years ago, as a walker/ hiker several years ago and as a rider a year and half ago.
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Old 09-25-12, 02:23 PM   #8
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you can ask whether she's ready to turn around, and if she's anything like my wife, sometimes she'll say, "No, let's go a little further."
That bit hasn't happened yet, but she is getting out a little more since we agreed on scheduled days for her to ride with me. For the moment the 5 miler is her limit. She does enjoy the steep hill on Ranch View Road, though. She takes a break while I ride up it!

Maybe next year she'll be riding up it as well.
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Old 09-25-12, 02:58 PM   #9
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As others noted, encourage but don't push. At this point, ride frequency is more important than ride distance. I also always let my wife lead so I don't have to worry about dropping her.
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Old 09-25-12, 03:35 PM   #10
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Everyone is probably different. Compared to what I have read on others post, I got fit slower than most. Maybe its just an indication of how unfit I was. But that aside, I see the most gains when I ride consistently. Sounds obvious doesn't it? This is only my second year riding, but between work and my baby it was very hard to get in rides consistently before last August. But once I was able to consistently ride 2-4 times a week I started seeing improvements within a month. At the start of last August I was only doing 4-6 miles. By mid September my short loop was 7 miles and the longer rides were about 12 miles. Only got upto about 15 miles before life happened. However many of those rides kicked my butt.

What actually helped me this year was more hill climbing. It was really really hard at first, but within a few weeks my legs and cardio felt much stronger. Since I didnt have alot of miles under my belt it was almost like starting over.
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Old 09-25-12, 06:34 PM   #11
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Everyone is probably different. Compared to what I have read on others post, I got fit slower than most. Maybe its just an indication of how unfit I was. But that aside, I see the most gains when I ride consistently. Sounds obvious doesn't it? This is only my second year riding, but between work and my baby it was very hard to get in rides consistently before last August. But once I was able to consistently ride 2-4 times a week I started seeing improvements within a month. At the start of last August I was only doing 4-6 miles. By mid September my short loop was 7 miles and the longer rides were about 12 miles. Only got upto about 15 miles before life happened. However many of those rides kicked my butt.

What actually helped me this year was more hill climbing. It was really really hard at first, but within a few weeks my legs and cardio felt much stronger. Since I didnt have alot of miles under my belt it was almost like starting over.
It doesn't matter how long it took and who did it faster, what matters is that you went at your goals and you care about you health. I think that you have done well and you can be an exanple for those that think they can't get better.

OP..I think I speak for most when I say we are all pulling for your wife on her journey. There will be a time when she will be the person helping a newbie along the way. I am not one some call a "super clyde" because I weigh 225, but I am new to the world of cycling. My very first ride on a road bike was 20 miles. I couldn't feel my legs after the fact and I know I did to much but I was determined. I look forward to hearing updates on her progress...tell her we are all behind her and just keep pedaling.
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Old 09-25-12, 07:53 PM   #12
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That bit hasn't happened yet, but she is getting out a little more since we agreed on scheduled days for her to ride with me. For the moment the 5 miler is her limit. She does enjoy the steep hill on Ranch View Road, though. She takes a break while I ride up it!

Maybe next year she'll be riding up it as well.
Honestly, B didn't show much interest. Until she did. You can't make them like it; it's gotta come from within.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 09-25-12, 10:09 PM   #13
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My wife appreciates that I moved from fat to fit within 6 months on my bike, but she also saw the amount of pain I had to put myself through to do it... and she has no interest in suffering in order to be healthier. I don't get it... but then again she probably doesn't get my drive to ride to edge of exhaustion every Sunday either.
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Old 09-26-12, 01:52 AM   #14
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Well i've been riding for a year 2-3 times a week and i feel pretty confident i could do 50mi. in a day. Heck 100 if i had a route and proper clothing/food/water. 20Mi seemed insane when i first started, now i can do it with ease.
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Old 09-26-12, 06:51 AM   #15
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I'd suggest a different approach: Increase frequency and reduce distance. If 5 milers 3*week are the limit right now, try making 3 mile rides but ride 5 times a week (just an example, distance and frequency would be her decision). It might sound/look/feel ridiculously short but for someone who is just beginning with little or no "fitness" background having the body learn the biomechanics is faster accomplished by frequency rather than distance.
That said her motivation would really trump any plan, best to do is suggest the options and let her try them, let her decide what she likes best and support that decision. I found it hard to contain my excitement trying to sell cycling, training plans, riding schedules, etc to my SO when she first expressed some interest in riding together. Didn't work for the long term, even though every now and then she rides with me it is really a blue moon event. Sometimes I can't help but feel that excitement got the best of me and, my good intentions helped drain her interest.
Good luck
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Old 09-26-12, 07:40 AM   #16
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Anytime you exercise then rest, you gain some fitness. How fast depends on many factors including age, current condition, state of overall health, nutrition, lifestyle, determination/commitment, etc. As others have said, her motivation has to come from within and she has to realize and want the benefits. While my wife is supportive, I don't think she really gets it when I come home sore and near exhaustion and have to use the handrail to get up the porch steps, then flop on the couch and say, "Dang that was a good ride". She will go on a casual ride with me once in a while, but if I didn't encourage it I don't think her bike would ever come out of the garage.
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Old 09-26-12, 10:26 AM   #17
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Here's my experience...

Got an absolutely brutal respritory infection 9 months ago - was not able to really exercise regularly for three months. I am just now getting back to normal fitness, so my gut is 5-6 months. I had the knowledge and structure to become fit, so someone who doesnt have that might take a little longer.

What's helpful is what you are already doing - setting small achievable goals. Strava or Wahoo fitness make it easier to track these goals.

The key is supporting the person, and encourangement. Make it fun, and make it enjoyable!!
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Old 09-26-12, 11:17 AM   #18
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When I first started, I did not focus on distance or speed. Just wanted to get 15 min. of moderate exercise a day. After a couple/three months and gradually bumping up my time to 30 min that I started paying attention to distance/speed and used that as a yard stick as to when to increase time. Yes it can be made more complex than that. Important to keep the fun in it. A little encouragement goes a long way.
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Old 09-27-12, 07:27 AM   #19
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it took me 8 weeks to notice a difference.

i do want to point a couple of things out though.

if she is not comfortable on her saddle, it could severely cut short the amount of time she is able to ride.

also, if the saddle is uncomfortable she will subconsciously unweight herself slightly off it by supporting some of her weight on both legs at all times. which means she is doing more work to go the same speed because her pushing leg is also having to overcome weight of her non pushing leg.

ie. if she is able to consciously unweight the non pushing leg, she will be able to go faster at the same level of work.

changing my saddle to the correct one allowed me to go faster and ride longer and be more comfortable.

in addition, bike fit in general is a big thing. i raised my handle bars thinking it would help my back, but it made it worse. so i slammed it and it got better .

raising the seat heat to a correct height has helped me generate a bit more power and also better for the knees.

finally, is she working on cadence? i know that when i was mashing gears instead of spinning, the perceived level of exertion was a lot higher.

here are some things i would look at.
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Old 09-27-12, 09:43 AM   #20
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if she is not comfortable on her saddle, it could severely cut short the amount of time she is able to ride.

also, if the saddle is uncomfortable she will subconsciously unweight herself slightly off it by supporting some of her weight on both legs at all times. which means she is doing more work to go the same speed because her pushing leg is also having to overcome weight of her non pushing leg.

ie. if she is able to consciously unweight the non pushing leg, she will be able to go faster at the same level of work.

changing my saddle to the correct one allowed me to go faster and ride longer and be more comfortable.

in addition, bike fit in general is a big thing. i raised my handle bars thinking it would help my back, but it made it worse. so i slammed it and it got better .

raising the seat heat to a correct height has helped me generate a bit more power and also better for the knees.

finally, is she working on cadence? i know that when i was mashing gears instead of spinning, the perceived level of exertion was a lot higher.
Thanks, all of those are things we are working on. She feels higher is better on the bars, though I think a little lower would transmit less shock up through her back. I normally ride on the hoods and have even converted my MTB to drops because I find it more comfortable and efficient.

After a lot of experimentation, I think we have the saddle worked out and she doesn't seem to have any issues with it now.

I can tell her cadence has been picking up a bit over time, but in the beginning she only wanted to grind a high gear. I think a faster cadence is not a natural thing when you are starting out, but it picks up with time and experience.
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Old 09-27-12, 11:27 AM   #21
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For some a higher cadence never really fits. I ride 30km every morning, 160km in the weekeend, and commute to work and I've ridden bikes since... forever. But I really don't like pedalling much faster than 90rpm or so. I just use higher gears and be done with it. Everyone is slightly different.
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Old 09-27-12, 12:39 PM   #22
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Honestly, B didn't show much interest. Until she did. You can't make them like it; it's gotta come from within.
This was the same for me. It's all Mrs. PJ's idea!

We started riding together April 15th. I was three weeks out of chemo, she was 3+ years out of exercising. She was riding a REALLY heavy, inefficient bike and was able to get up to 10 miles within the first month and a half.

On Saturday, we did this together:

http://app.strava.com/activities/22784191

The top of the map shows Copper Hill, which is either up or down. Almost nothing is flat. There are three good climbs (for her), and she was letting them get in her head. She made it to the top of the second and, between wheezing breaths, said she couldn't go on. A couple minute's rest and she started to roll. I thought we were going back the way we came. NOPE! She said that third hill was not going to beat her. So, we did all three hills. Her determination got her over the last hill.

On Saturday, we picked up a new bike for her. Now, in our morning rides, we're picking up 2.5 mph and going a couple miles further.

She's got the bug....and I'm loving it!
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Old 09-27-12, 12:43 PM   #23
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But I really don't like pedalling much faster than 90rpm or so.
To me that is not grinding a high gear. I'm talking about pushing really slow and hard at 50-60 rpm. I think when someone is just starting out, they may not have the ability to turn their legs any faster. It seems to take some time to pick up cadence and it happens naturally.
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Old 10-02-12, 03:41 PM   #24
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I started riding this spring..I hadn't been on a bike for 30 years. I couldn't do 5 miles. I remember the first time I rode to our church, and that was MAYBE a mile and it just about killed me.

The main thing is she just keeps at it. Maybe on some days she doesn't want to "push" and I think it's important that every ride isn't necessarily a challenge...they need to be fun and easy sometimes, too. If she's wiped out after 5, then on the days she does 3 she's still going to be improving her skill/flexibility/strength.

There's a lot to be said for just tooling around the neighborhood, too...
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Old 10-04-12, 12:39 AM   #25
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I would strongly suggest two important things. 1) that she learn to not compare herself to anyone else. She'll progress at her rate. Period. Comparisons are counter productive. 2) Get a heart rate monitor and learn to use it to gauge your effort so she can work up to three or four half-hour rides at a reasonable aerobic pace that doesn't leave her gasping for air but gets her heart rate up to an appropriate level. For somebody out of shape that can be a very low number.
If she begins to keep records of distance, heart rate, time etc she will continue to see progress every week and ever month. My story is not unlike hers. A year and a half ago I was 280 and out of wind at a heart rate of 130 for ten minutes. My first ride was about 3 miles. This year I have rolled 4,000mi so far with two century rides and 60 miles is a piece of cake. It's a slow but steady process if you keep at it.
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