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  1. #1
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    386-lb rider here - any bike suggestions?

    I'm a 386-lb, 6'4" man. Right now, I'm cycling around on an old Norco Bush Pilot mountain bike that I've had for years.

    I live somewhere that's pretty much covered with ice and snow for six months of the year so I was thinking of getting studded tires to ride throughout the winter this year.

    Then, I started reading about the weight capacity of bikes and, well, quite frankly, now I'm a bit freaked out. It seems like my bike collapsing under my weight is a distinct possibility.

    By the way, my plan is already to lose 200 lbs in the coming year and start taking part in shorter triathlons.

    But I want to make sure I won't get injured with my bike falling apart because of my weight before then.

    Anyone here have any suggestions?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by guitarsnbikes; 10-03-13 at 10:52 PM. Reason: Spelling mistake.

  2. #2
    Spit out the back tinrobot's Avatar
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    If you want to ride snow, you might want to look into a fat bike (no pun intended). They have fat tires which are supposed to be great in the snow and super fun on pavement. The bikes themselves are also pretty sturdy. People off-road tour on them, so they can handle loads.

    Surly Pugsley and Salsa Mukluk would be two in this category.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Why hasn't your bike failed yet?
    I wouldn't worry about, especially if you are going to be losing weight.

    You might want to get the spokes tensioned. Especially the rear wheel, since it carries the most weight and under goes the twisting forces from pedaling. Visualize 1/2 of your spokes trying to unwind and the other 1/2 being strained every pedal stroke.
    Get the bearings serviced would also be a good idea.

  4. #4
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    Welcome!

    Lots of good information here. Don't worry, you are far from the heaviest guy to ever ride a bike. We bigger guys are tough on wheelsets, but sturdy wheels can be readily built if needed. I think the most important thing is to built a rapport with a local shop you like, and let them help you along.

    Matt
    With every ride, I get a little stronger. I gain a little stamina. I gain a little pride. And so I await the next ride...

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  5. #5
    Big Boned Biker IAMAMRA's Avatar
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    I started with my bike at around 440's...
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  6. #6
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    Why hasn't your bike failed yet?
    I wouldn't worry about, especially if you are going to be losing weight.

    You might want to get the spokes tensioned. Especially the rear wheel, since it carries the most weight and under goes the twisting forces from pedaling. Visualize 1/2 of your spokes trying to unwind and the other 1/2 being strained every pedal stroke.
    Get the bearings serviced would also be a good idea.

    This ... just keep riding.

    Studded tires are a great idea if you're going to ride through the winter. Otherwise, get an indoor trainer.

  7. #7
    Big Boned Biker IAMAMRA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarsnbikes View Post
    I'm a 386-lb, 6'4" man. Right now, I'm cycling around on an old Norco Bush Pilot mountain bike that I've had for years.

    I live somewhere that's pretty much covered with ice and snow for six months of the year so I was thinking of getting studded tires to ride throughout the winter this year.

    Then, I started reading about the weight capacity of bikes and, well, quite frankly, now I'm a bit freaked out. It seems like my bike collapsing under my weight is a distinct possibility.

    By the way, my plan is already to lose 200 lbs in the coming year and start taking part in shorter triathlons.

    But I want to make sure I won't get injured with my bike falling apart because of my weight before then.

    Anyone here have any suggestions?

    Thanks.
    Did I read this right! You want to loose 200lbs in one year?
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  8. #8
    Texas Tornado copswithguns's Avatar
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    I agree that cycling is a great way to lose weight (I've dropped around 25 lbs in 2 months) but I would try to manage your expectations a bit. I don't want to sound discouraging, it's just that a lot of people think that they will be able to drop 10 lbs a week, when in reality it's usually much slower. Don't get me wrong, if you stick to a good diet and are consistent with your workouts, you WILL lose the weight. Generally, anything over 1-2 lbs per week is considered dangerous/unhealthy.

    I would recommend picking up a few books on nutrition, as well as looking into some apps like Lose It! if you're a smartphone user. That app has helped me tremendously in terms of watching what I eat, how much, etc. Also, don't get discouraged if you feel "slow" on the bike for a while. What you should strive for is cadence and how long you ride, not how fast or how far you can go.
    "Speed never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary...Now that's what gets you." -Jeremy Clarkson

  9. #9
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    I started the year out at 400, today at 305. Most of that is from better eating, but cycling certainly helps. I was around your weight when I started riding and the bike did not explode or anything I like disc brakes for us big fellers. Bigger tires. More spokes, proper tensioning. I'm partial to road bikes these days, but I don't have any frame of reference for riding on ice.

  10. #10
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    IMO,tire width, wheel quality, and spoke count should be of greater concern, along with excellent disc brakes on slick surfaces.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAMAMRA View Post
    Did I read this right! You want to loose 200lbs in one year?
    Yes, that's right.

    I'm planning to lose 1.5 per cent of my bodyweight per week. That's in the middle of the one to two per cent of body weight recommendation. According to my schedule, I should hit my goal weight slightly before the end of one year. At this point, I'm just starting out but I lost 11.7 lbs in my first week, so I'm about on target, allowing for the typical rapid weight loss in the first week. The weight loss forecast for the first week was actually 5.79 lbs.

    To do this, I've initially cut back my daily caloric intake to about 2,000 calories and started exercising twice a day, six days a week, using the principle of cross-training to allow my body time to recuperate. This should create a calorie deficit of about 3,000 calories per week, or 6 lbs. per week.

    In terms of exercise, I'm walking in the morning. Right now I'm doing about 2 km., or 1.25 miles for you Americans. Later, I intend to transition that to jogging and then running. In the evenings of my walk days, I go cycling. Currently, my distance on the bike is between 9 km and 10 km. On alternate days, I do a workout with weights in the morning, to build muscle tone, and then go swimming in the evening for cardio and to help the muscles stretch and recover from inflammation. My swimming is now at about half a kilometre, or 20 laps in 25 metre pool. As I lose weight, my intention is to ramp up the intensity of the workouts and trim back on the calories in my diet.

    As a writer and editor, my schedule currently allows me quite a bit of flexibility so I take a nap during the day when I'm tired. I'm trying to make sure I get at least eight hours of sleep a day and eating more fruits and lean meats.

    I've seen examples of other people doing this on the web so I'm fairly confident that this is a realistic and attainable goal.

  12. #12
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    Thanks, guys!

    It sounds like I'm probably okay staying with the same bike for now but I should make a quick trip to my favourite bike shop is in order to check the spokes, wheel integrity, and bearings. Maybe I can also get him to place the order for the studded tires as well, even though it's a bit early in the season for that.

    I have another bike, this one an old road bike, mounted on a trainer in the basement but I find cycling in one spot to be incredibly boring so my thinking was to download some point-of-view bike rides from Youtube and play them on my TV in front of the bike on those days when it really doesn't make any sense at all to go outside - like when there's two feet of snow falling!

    It'd be great if there was some sort of interactive video game where multiple real cyclists to could ride together in real time over a real course filmed from a cyclist's point-of-view. That way, on cold, snowy or rainy days when it doesn't make any sense to ride outside, cyclists could still experience a group ride in a virtual world.

    Besides, it wouldn't hurt the ego to be able to pick out the avatar you want to represent you in the video game. Instant weight loss or a renewed hairline!!! :-)

  13. #13
    Big Boned Biker IAMAMRA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarsnbikes View Post
    Yes, that's right.

    I'm planning to lose 1.5 per cent of my bodyweight per week. That's in the middle of the one to two per cent of body weight recommendation. According to my schedule, I should hit my goal weight slightly before the end of one year. At this point, I'm just starting out but I lost 11.7 lbs in my first week, so I'm about on target, allowing for the typical rapid weight loss in the first week. The weight loss forecast for the first week was actually 5.79 lbs.

    To do this, I've initially cut back my daily caloric intake to about 2,000 calories and started exercising twice a day, six days a week, using the principle of cross-training to allow my body time to recuperate. This should create a calorie deficit of about 3,000 calories per week, or 6 lbs. per week.

    In terms of exercise, I'm walking in the morning. Right now I'm doing about 2 km., or 1.25 miles for you Americans. Later, I intend to transition that to jogging and then running. In the evenings of my walk days, I go cycling. Currently, my distance on the bike is between 9 km and 10 km. On alternate days, I do a workout with weights in the morning, to build muscle tone, and then go swimming in the evening for cardio and to help the muscles stretch and recover from inflammation. My swimming is now at about half a kilometre, or 20 laps in 25 metre pool. As I lose weight, my intention is to ramp up the intensity of the workouts and trim back on the calories in my diet.

    As a writer and editor, my schedule currently allows me quite a bit of flexibility so I take a nap during the day when I'm tired. I'm trying to make sure I get at least eight hours of sleep a day and eating more fruits and lean meats.

    I've seen examples of other people doing this on the web so I'm fairly confident that this is a realistic and attainable goal.
    Good luck, I hope this is sustainable for you long term. As I am sure you already know this, the more you loose the more you will need to cut those calories or increase workout intensity/time to maintain those weekly avg. drops. Your body is a wonderful machine and soon adapts to new lifestyles.
    www.BigBonedBiker.Wordpress.com

  14. #14
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I'm not to sure about your rapid weight loss goal.
    You'll probably be adding muscle to replace some of that fat. You need nutrition to build muscle.
    You might also want to keep track of inches in case you hit an apparent "snag" in your expectations.
    As long as the inches are going away, you ARE improving, even though you may have some weeks where the weight doesn't seem to be going as fast as desired.

  15. #15
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    Find a bike that makes you want to get out and ride. At your weight I would think wheels would be your main concern, but it seems like your Norco's wheels are working fine (but it may also be due to the type of riding you do).

    Are you looking for another mountain bike or something like a road or hybrid?
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    I'm not to sure about your rapid weight loss goal.
    You'll probably be adding muscle to replace some of that fat. You need nutrition to build muscle.
    You might also want to keep track of inches in case you hit an apparent "snag" in your expectations.
    As long as the inches are going away, you ARE improving, even though you may have some weeks where the weight doesn't seem to be going as fast as desired.

    :-) It's the first time I do this, Bill. So I'm not too sure about my weight loss schedule either. It's just a target.

    I do note the National Federation of State High School Associations in the United States set the weekly weight loss limit for wrestlers at 1.5 per cent of their body weight. That, to me, seems to suggest that 1.5 per cent of body weight as a weekly weight loss target may be not only doable but still relatively safe.

    Time will tell.

    One thing for sure: At 54 years of age, I couldn't stay at 386 lbs. A fitness and weight loss program was way overdue.

    So, if I try this and I succeed in a year, that's great. If I only manage to lose at half the speed, it'll take me two years to reach my goal instead of one. In either case, I'll probably be better off.

    I will grant you one thing: When I exercise, I do tend to put on muscle fairly easily, especially at first. It's entirely possible that I could put on some muscle through the weight training and that would affect my results on the scale. That means that I will have to take the weekly weight loss results with a grain of salt and keep my eye on the final goal.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarsnbikes View Post
    :-) ........... It's entirely possible that I could put on some muscle through the weight training and that would affect my results on the scale. That means that I will have to take the weekly weight loss results with a grain of salt and keep my eye on the final goal.
    Exactly!
    That's why I pay more attention to inches.

    A couple years ago I did a 600 mile month which was far beyond my "normal" mileage.
    I gained 5 lbs! I lost a bunch of inches though, so I figured I was still better off.

    I normally add weight during Winter (eat for heat) and get up to 235 ish.
    During the Summer, I tend to get down around 215-220.

    Last Oct., I broke my tib & fib, so basically ended up in a wheel chair for 4 months.
    My weight actually dropped to 215, but it was pretty much flab hanging off my femurs.
    During the Summer, I got my legs in probably the best shape in many years, but I ballooned up to 240. (I ended up doing a 70 mile day on my Hybrid, beating my personal best by 20 miles)
    Kind of a tale of 2 bodies. One above the belt and the other below the belt.
    Should be an interesting Winter??

  18. #18
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    Look at the Rivendell Hunqapillar or Bombadil. Stout bikes. I have the Hunq and I am at 230lbs but it will take a lot more than that.

  19. #19
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I'm a fan of steel frame MTB, touring bikes and hybrids as the base for fitness/training bikes for really big riders (I started around 315# or maybe even a bit more). Frame failure due to body weight of the rider is a rare occurrence. More likely is wheel failure. Even when a wheel fails, it is seldom catastrophic. Usually a spoke or two give and the rim becomes out of true. The best investment I ever made was a handbuilt set of 700c wheels with Salsa Delgado rims, Deore LX hubs and butted DTSwiss spokes. No more frequent truing and replacing broken spokes. I've never seen a steel frame fail from body weight unless there was some substantial abuse (Danny Macaskill wannabe) involved.

    I'm not dissin' aluminum or CF. I'm just relaying my experience and love of quality cro-mo frames.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by guitarsnbikes View Post
    I'm a 386-lb, 6'4" man. Right now, I'm cycling around on an old Norco Bush Pilot mountain bike that I've had for years.
    Hey there. I bought a 29er hardtail mountain bike when I was at my max of 380lbs. Even with that bike, I popped some spokes just riding off a 6" curb. I did a little riding around that weight, then did other stuff and dropped down to around 350 or so before I started riding again seriously. I've since put around 9100 miles on that mountain bike.

    The thing is you'll want to find some road tires for it if you are riding on the street. The knobbies will gone in a couple hundred miles if you don't. I went through a set of 38mm, then a set of 35mm, then was on some 32mm tires when I finally bought a road bike. My road bike is holding up under my current 270 lbs, but I do get concerned about it, and am working hard toward a goal of dropping another 50 lbs. My rear 24-spoke wheel hub did break (surprise surprise) a flange where the spokes attached to it, and I replaced it with an inexpensive 32-spoke wheel that's held up just great ever since. I probably have 2500-3000 miles on the road bike now.

    Riding will help you lose weight faster than almost anything else you can do, because you can fairly quickly get fit enough to maintain a good heart rate of exercise for long periods of time. Jogging, even walking fast you can't match the calories burnt per unit time and per day compared to cycling.

    Then, I started reading about the weight capacity of bikes and, well, quite frankly, now I'm a bit freaked out. It seems like my bike collapsing under my weight is a distinct possibility.
    It is if you go off jumps and curbs and whatnot. If you ride carefully you should be OK, if the mountain bike is strong. My Diamondback hardtail 29er held up well enough, other than those first spokes. If you put a lot of effort and will power and food discipline into it, you could lose 10-15 lbs/month, and after three or four months your bike will be supporting much less weight and get out of the "danger zone" of collapsing.
    By the way, my plan is already to lose 200 lbs in the coming year and start taking part in shorter triathlons.
    You go! Just be aware that after that first 100 lbs or so, the weight loss slows down dramatically. Think about it, the weight that's left after you lost 100 lbs is weight that didn't get lost while the first 100 lbs was burning off. It's survivor weight!

    I did a sprint triathlon at 374 lbs, and another at around 365. The one I'd done at 374 I did again at 317 and cut 1/2 hour off my time. I haven't had a chance to do it again since then, but would take a massive amount of time off it again. Fun stuff, and it feels good!

    But I want to make sure I won't get injured with my bike falling apart because of my weight before then.

    Anyone here have any suggestions?
    Yeah, don't just ride. Ride, and walk. Most of my exercise when I very first started was walking, first on a treadmill indoors, then outdoors. Even after I started riding, I combined walking fast with bike riding, to use different sets of muscles and get more calories burnt. Also, if you go to a gym, or at least start swinging a kettlebell or something else at home, so that you start working your upper-body muscles too, you'll get more calories burnt per day and raise your metabolism.

    By the way, you have to be a food nazi to pull this off. This doesn't mean eat nothing, it just means you have to have a plan, eat to a pre-decided calorie goal, start weighing out ingredients and stuff so you actually stick to your limits, etc. You have to eat very carefully if you're exercising hard while cutting calories, because you need to focus on calories that also have nutritional value so your body can recover.

    Btw, I allowed myself to eat candy or desserts on specific, pre-determined occasions. They were Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday, and so forth. By having a day I could eat this stuff every month or two, I was able to be strong and not eat any of that stuff on the days in between. If you try to go all total denial mode, eventually you crack and then lose it completely.

    Good luck with this! You'll be sweating for hundreds of hours, working hard, but seeing that weight comes off becomes a self-feeding enthusiasm machine. And I'll tell you what, I feel about a billion times better at 270 than I felt at 380.

  21. #21
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    Ride light. I ride carbon and aluminum road/cross bikes for the most part. I'm at around 350 pounds. I do NOT bunny hop, drop off of curb, go through potholes, etc. I avoid any type of jarring impact that will occur when I ride as much as possible. That does mean that I have to get off my bike when I need to go down a curb or something.

    The key is ride light. So even though my bikes probably have weight limits of 275 pounds or so, I'm not worried about them self-destructing.

    I also build my own wheels and generally don't ride anything less than 28 spoke wheels. I do have to true them every few weeks but that is going to happen when you are as big as I am.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by copswithguns View Post
    I agree that cycling is a great way to lose weight (I've dropped around 25 lbs in 2 months) but I would try to manage your expectations a bit. I don't want to sound discouraging, it's just that a lot of people think that they will be able to drop 10 lbs a week, when in reality it's usually much slower. Don't get me wrong, if you stick to a good diet and are consistent with your workouts, you WILL lose the weight. Generally, anything over 1-2 lbs per week is considered dangerous/unhealthy.

    I would recommend picking up a few books on nutrition, as well as looking into some apps like Lose It! if you're a smartphone user. That app has helped me tremendously in terms of watching what I eat, how much, etc. Also, don't get discouraged if you feel "slow" on the bike for a while. What you should strive for is cadence and how long you ride, not how fast or how far you can go.
    +1 Your biggest obstacle is going to lie in the fact that your body gets more efficient as your fitness improves. In other words, to burn the same amount of calories over a longer period of time to support your weight loss goals, you're going to have to increase your exercise and continue eating better. A painless way to eat better is to use fish in your diet a lot. I like marinated salmon fillets that can easily be found at grocers or a warehouse club. Toss those on the grill and put them over a salad and you've got a good meal that will keep you going.

    On the days you're going to be doing a good ride, rather than changing your eating much, drink a protein shake before riding. And unless it's a long ride that really takes a ton of climbing, etc., don't overeat afterwards. That's the big "killer" many people do that keeps down their weight loss goals.

    Good luck!

  23. #23
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    A co-worker just lost 165 lbs in a year.
    He rides. He lifts. He does other cardio as well.
    He said he had some problems avoiding injury due to the intensity of his workouts were a bit beyond pushing the limits.

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    OP - What's your status? It's been a couple weeks. Still going good for you ????

  25. #25
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    Still going strong!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by HelpMeRhonda View Post
    OP - What's your status? It's been a couple weeks. Still going good for you ????
    Yep, HelpMeRhonda,

    Things are going pretty well.

    I've had a few days where I've fallen off the diet wagon and eaten more, sometimes quite a bit more, than my diet target but then I've just continued the next day and I've pretty much maintained the exercising as well. A few workouts had to be rescheduled but that's to be expected.

    Last time I weighed myself, after three weeks of exercise and diet, I'd lost 20 lbs. My schedule had me at a weight loss of 17.12 lbs at that point so I was then slightly ahead of my target.

    In the meantime, I've gotten stronger and my fitness is starting to improve. The distance I swim has increased to three times my starting point, my walking distance is now 2.5 times where I was before, my cycling distance is now about 12 km, or 7.5 miles, and I'm using poundages that are about twice as much in my weight training.

    I have no idea how many inches I've lost but my pants are starting to get looser. The other day, I was walking up the stairs in the basement - with nobody else there - and I guess I must have sucked in my gut a bit and my pants, which had been a bit snug before all of this, just fell down. :-)

    I have had physical sensations which, for me, are new. There are, of course, a certain amount of aches and pains from the workouts: muscle stiffness and fatigue. But I've also had times when I just had chills when everyone else was feeling fine and that's very unusual for me. I'm usually the one that's too hot. I've also had some nights when my mind was racing and I had some difficulty falling asleep. Again, something unusual for me. I've dealt with the chills by adding more clothes, turning up the heat, and eating a bit more and it seems to have worked. I've tried to deal with the mind racing thing by exercising no less than about two hours before bedtime and that seems to help. The exercising seems to pump me up and make me unable to sleep. On the plus side, it takes away the hunger cravings and helps me with my mood. If I just diet and can't workout, I tend to get moody, which is a code word for saying I become less than pleasant to be around.

    So far, I haven't had to deal with really horrible weather days for exercising so that's been good. It's definitely going to get really cold in the next little while and then the challenge will be to go out in the dark and freezing weather and still keep it up.

    But I want to keep going.

    I'm sleeping better at night. I can't be sure but I think my sleep apnea has already improved a great deal. No more headaches. And I'm told my breathing is much better when I'm sleeping. I have more energy to do things around the house and yard. And I'm enjoying the freedom of being on my bike and watching the world whiz by, the peace and calm of flying through the crystal-clear water of the local swimming pool, and my long walks in the autumn air, watching the leaves fall.

    At my size, I have to confess I'm also getting a kick out of watching people's faces when they see me coming on my bike. They're all in the local Tim Horton's scarfing down doughnuts and coffee or driving by in their pickup trucks and the sight of me cycling by isn't something they're used to seeing.

    They better get used to it. :-)

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