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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 05-05-13, 05:18 PM   #1
KittiPaws
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First week riding: exhiliarated, yet somewhat discouraged

A week ago today, I took my bike out into the parking lot of my apartment complex and made my first attempts to ride in many, many years. I'm 53 and was 260 lbs that day. (Today I'm down to 255 - yay!) In my first attempt to pedal instead of coast, I didn't have the momentum and ended up crashing into a wooden carport post. Got a few bruises, then went back and tried again.

In a week's time, I've gone from wobbling around the parking lot to, yesterday, making my first ride on a street. A busy street at that. I had little choice. My car broke down and I needed to get to the store, which is about a mile away. I became winded easily and alternately rode and walked the bike. It was a great feeling of accomplishment, yet today I feel let down after riding around the parking lot and still not having the strength to ride for more than a few minutes without resting or just walking the bike along. This is not a hilly town, but I can't manage the slightest inclines.

I'll admit my bike (for now, until I can afford a better one) is a $129.99 Schwinn cruiser from Target. Would a bike with gears have made my life easier, or do I just need to be patient at building up strength? I've got the tires pumped up to the recommended PSI, the chain is freshly lubed, and when I'm seated, I can touch my toes on the ground. (I'm 5'2")

Whatever it takes, I'll keep going. I keep looking at my humble little Schwinn, which is parked in my living room, and I'm itching to get it outside again!
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Old 05-05-13, 05:29 PM   #2
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I recommend patience. Like all new activities, it'll take some time to acclimate. Does your bike have any gears at all? Gears can help you move up hills but it sounds like your town is a bit on the flat side, so improved fitness will help there too.

Just keep at it and don't get discouraged!
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Old 05-05-13, 05:32 PM   #3
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Keep up the great work. You WILL get better the more you ride. Trust me, we all have been there.
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Old 05-05-13, 06:38 PM   #4
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I was 53 3.5 years ago when I decided to get in shape. The first day @ over 425# I walked for 8 minutes on a treadmill. Last year I rode over 4000 miles. Before I started, I went back and tried to figure out why I'd quit in my past attempts. The biggest reason was expecting too much, too soon. I think it took a month to get to where I was walking on the treadmill 20 minutes a day 3 days a week. I just walked at 3 miles an hour. Before I started, I had decided to just do that for 6 months. Eventually that workout seemed like nothing at all but I stuck to it. It became a regular part of my week and I enjoyed it. Now, I enjoy a hard workout a little too much and dislike the rest days I need to keep from burning out. I'm no speed demon as last fall doing 50 miles at a 15 mph rate was about all I wanted but I did ride the next day.

Over in the 50+ forum someone told me it'd take 5 years to reach my potential. I think it'll take longer than that but that's OK.
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Old 05-05-13, 06:53 PM   #5
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Every journey starts with a single step. Keep at it. You WILL get better. Set yourself little goals, something that is achievable. Say, 15 minutes to the market. Then, when you've reached that goal, set another. In time, you'll be riding metric centuries...or more. The bike you have is fine for now. Eventually, you will "outgrow" it and will want something else. Don't rush it. The Tortoise and the Hare, remember?
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Old 05-05-13, 08:08 PM   #6
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Welcome.

If your town is fairly level, your cruiser is going to be fine as a recreational/fitness bike. Ride often, increasing the difficulty in small, manageable increments. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Mild soreness is to be expected but if you get really sore take a day off once in a while. Any aerobic exercise or weight bearing exercise involving you legs will be beneficial. Walking, stair climbing, swimming/water aerobics, and bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges all help. Keep it challenging but more importantly, keep it fun.

Keep at it, you don't have to go nuts (though you have been bitten by the cycling bug so expect an addiction) but try to ride consistently at least 3-4 times a week. Soon you'll be taking your bike to the store just because it's more fun than your car. You may find you outgrow your bike and want something different, or maybe not, it's all up to you. Not everyone becomes an edurance rider or hardcore roadie. Nothing wrong with being a recreational cruiser.

Congratulations.
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Old 05-05-13, 08:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
tried to figure out why I'd quit in my past attempts. The biggest reason was expecting too much, too soon.
Quoted for truth.

It's probably more important to develop good habits than to achieve any particular notable results.
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Old 05-05-13, 11:18 PM   #8
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Keep at it. Ride when you can and walk if you have to. Gears probably wouldn't help at this point, but it sounds like your saddle is too low. Raise it when you get more comfortable on the bike and pedaling will be easier on your knees. Keep riding to the store, you will be going further soon.
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Old 05-05-13, 11:42 PM   #9
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I will add that, in my experience, cheap cruisers tend to be more difficult (from an exertion perspective) to pedal than a "proper or bike shop-sourced" bicycle--gears or not...
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Old 05-06-13, 05:08 AM   #10
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Don't get discouraged, lots of good advice above. Take your time, your body will take a while to get into the swing of things. Developing the habit of riding (or any exercise) is more important than "how long" or "how fast".
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Old 05-06-13, 08:42 AM   #11
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Keep at the riding for sure, but I gotta say that taking long walks will do a lot for your fitness without wearing you out. Maybe alternate days between taking long walks and rides so you don't get bored/discouraged. Also, if you are in a small-ish town, try focusing on doing most of your errands by bike and/or on foot. It's a great way to get exercise without feeling like you're doing an obligatory workout. Making biking/walking part of your lifestyle rather than just a workout is the best way to make sure it "sticks".
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Old 05-06-13, 09:40 AM   #12
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The fact that you still want to go out and ride is great. Ride that wave for all it's worth! Do you have any nice places you can bring the bike for a change of scenery? That should help keep it interesting. But just keep getting out there. Every opportunity on the bike will just make you stronger.
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Old 05-06-13, 10:03 AM   #13
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Congrats on doing, well, something! I can honestly say I have planned out getting back in shape for years, but until this year I haven't made an attempt to do so. Now that I have become determined to I have noticed my motivation starts the second I wake up, which sometimes means 5 AM to get a ride in for the day.

Keep at it and feel free to keep us all updated, I know I love reading the success stories!
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Old 05-06-13, 10:16 AM   #14
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Another slogan I adopted when I started was "Showing up is a success." Just about everybody at some time starts setting exercise goals. Like "Wednesday I'm going to ride a block further than today." Wednesday comes and for some reason you just don't feel like riding or you dread the idea of pushing yourself harder. My advice is to get on the bike and ride a little bit. You can turn around at anytime. You succeeded in showing up. Sometimes you'll end up getting in a great workout and other times you'll reaffirm that you're just not into it that day. Since you "Showed up" you didn't fail. You just didn't succeed as much as you'd planned. A year from now if you keep at it what you did on that ride will matter little.
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Old 05-06-13, 11:54 AM   #15
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I had a cruiser, would be great if you lived by a lake or a beach but the lack of gears just ruined it for me. I guess it's possible, as a teen i would ride some decent distances on a BMX bike but eventually i'm sure you'll want something better.
"Never think about quitting! Once you let the idea enter your mind you are halfway to actually doing so"
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Old 05-06-13, 12:01 PM   #16
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I've been riding about 45 years... sometimes I can't wait to get out on my bikes and sometimes I just can't... just know its all a process and one with a big learning curb. Just get out and do what you feel good doing; remember its a sport and should be enjoyable. Try and find someplace pretty to ride to give yourself a break.

Yes a better bike will help but no it won't really help you right now. Build up some endurance. Learn the proper bio-mechanics of riding on a bike (for instance as moochems pointed out if you are seated while stopped that is all wrong. Seat is too low and this will cause discomfort - but give it time. As your confidence increases so should your seat height). Become committed to the sport and then think about buying a new bike...

Good luck - cycling has been my haven and keeps me sane...
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Old 05-06-13, 06:07 PM   #17
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like other people have said, getting on your bike is a win. it's easier to set your short terms goals at "do more than yesterday," than something like "i'm going to ride a century in a month."

bike fitting and gears will help, but i guess i would kind of liken it to getting fitted for golf clubs. if you don't have a consistent swing then it's going to be hard to find clubs that fit.

my target bike which weighed A LOT, especially compared to my new bike, got me started because it had some sweet side saddles so if i wanted to run to the store i would take the bike. that's where my little avatar came from, i used to make beer runs on it. anyway that got me into a nice groove right up until the snow hit. either way, beer or a new movie was my reward for taking my bike out.

the only other thing i can recommend is try using the balls of your feet to pedal, if you aren't already.

best of luck and keep us updated!
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Old 05-07-13, 07:37 PM   #18
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Thank you all for the wisdom and encouragement! Lots of great advice here that I am taking to heart.

I had a feeling my saddle was on the low side, but I'll revisit that once I feel more confident with the bike. Right now I'm going to reach for the smaller goals, as has been advised. I like the saying that "Showing up is a success." Today I took the bike out and was able to ride a little further without stopping than I did on Sunday, and was able to go partway up a small incline instead of stopping at the bottom. Victories!
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Old 05-07-13, 08:09 PM   #19
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Thank you all for the wisdom and encouragement! Lots of great advice here that I am taking to heart.

I had a feeling my saddle was on the low side, but I'll revisit that once I feel more confident with the bike. Right now I'm going to reach for the smaller goals, as has been advised. I like the saying that "Showing up is a success." Today I took the bike out and was able to ride a little further without stopping than I did on Sunday, and was able to go partway up a small incline instead of stopping at the bottom. Victories!
great job! you'll notice you keep getting further and further each time, but don't get discouraged if it's not huge leaps and bounds.

also i highly recommend one day of rest a week. just make sure it doesn't turn into two, but you'll feel refreshed and it'll give you some time to recover.

keep it up!
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Old 05-07-13, 08:32 PM   #20
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Congratulations on getting started. I'm fairly new here as well. I come from a walking, run/walk background and I'm trying to incorporate biking as cross training after some knee issues. Once you get a little farther along, you may want to come up with an achievable "long term" goal. Giving yourself some flexibility in the goal is OK. But having something in the future you're shooting has motivated me at times to get out on day's when I'd much rather stay in bed.
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Old 05-08-13, 02:37 AM   #21
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You are making great progress, keep up the great work!

Like Tiger187126 suggested, a good idea would be to plan a stop/destination for your ride.
If you like coffee, make a nice coffee shop the destination for your ride, create a route to go to the coffee shop and then back.

I find that works for me, having a focal point for the ride, rather than just setting out without a plan.

Or you could combine cycling with another outdoor activity, like Geocaching.
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Old 05-08-13, 08:18 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
Quoted for truth.

It's probably more important to develop good habits than to achieve any particular notable results.
Double quoted. Some sage advice there and it doesn't matter if it's cycling, tidly winks, archery or probably the hardest for us in this clan.... food.
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Old 05-08-13, 01:25 PM   #23
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Double quoted. Some sage advice there and it doesn't matter if it's cycling, tidly winks, archery or probably the hardest for us in this clan.... food.
I just had to create a circular reference. Today for me was a perfect example. Monday was my hardest day where resistance training comes right after my hardest interval training. Yesterday was off and this morning I was thinking about skipping a workout. Armed with "Showing up is a success" I walked into the Y and started an extra slow warm-up. By the time I finished warming up I felt good and did a normal workout. Other times, I've felt the same way before going in and left after a couple minutes.
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