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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 01-10-14, 07:54 AM   #1
TxAirHedz
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Can't Get Started

I am having a big problem getting started in bicycling.

Here's some background info:
I will turn 49 in about a month. I am 6 ft tall and weigh 325 lbs. And type 2 diabetic. Cycling has always been a little hard for me because I never could get comfortable on a seat. Having passed that hurdle now I'm having a problem getting used to the idea of sharing the road with cars and trucks being driven by people who are too distracted by so many other things that they simply don't have time to drive.

I just can't get past this fear. I spent many years traveling extensively on motorcycles not having any fear of other drivers. But on a bicycle it's a whole other issue.

I should also mention that due to years of not managing my diabetes I have lost all vision in my left eye. My right eye has lost about 30% of it's vision. I need to get healthier in order to win this battle with diabetes and save the vision I have remaining in my right eye.

Not looking for sympathy here. Just trying to hear other's thoughts on sharing the road with cars.
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Old 01-10-14, 08:09 AM   #2
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Get thee to Traillink.com and do a search for mup in the DFW area. I just did a quickie and found over 70. Start there and avoid all the cars until you feel right in the saddle. Then try on road. Having health issues myself, heart failure, I know the importance of some type of exercise. In my case it is cycling. Get out on the bike away from the cars and you will find that cycling will be an enjoyable experience. Ride ON
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Old 01-10-14, 09:08 AM   #3
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I'm glad you're not here looking for sympathy. This is NOT the place to get that! What you will get here is a supportive group with many members who are on the same journey as you are and are willing to share their experiences. Oh, and BTW, welcome!

I think DowneasTTer nailed it. Find the MUP's in your area. It's worth a little extra effort to get to them. I think this is the best way for you to get the exercise you need while staying away from the public roads. In time, your fears may subside.
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Old 01-10-14, 09:23 AM   #4
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Alternate your MUP riding with spin (gym). You can bring one of those slip on gel covers to mitigate those cheap spins saddles. You can use the spin room when empty, you don't have to go to a particular class. I've gone to the spin room at 3am, it's darn peaceful. There are 3 or more 24hr fitness centers in the DFW area, correct?
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Old 01-10-14, 11:23 AM   #5
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Be careful on MUPs. Some can be more hazardous than road riding. Other cyclists. Skaters. Joggers. Pdestrains with dogs on long leashes. Cyclists with dogs on long leashes. Wobbly children. All or some of whom may be distracted by any number of things or simply displaying the (sadly) common attitude that they are the sole users of the path.

At the risk of statting the obvious, vision in the left eye is more important than the right when it comes to cycling as traffic auto traffic is almost always on your left and you will inevitably have to move left to avoid debris, etc., on the side of the road.

Perhaps you can look into taking an effective/safe cycling course in your area to help you get over your fears. I recommend that you not take to the road if you are truly that frightened. I do a lot of urban cycling and see a lot of fearful riders. They are more prone to make mistake that actually put them at greater risk, especially when combined with a lack of cycling skills like being able to turn one'd head left without bearing out to the left and/or wobbling.

Finally, one thing I like to remind people in your position is that, unless you don't drive, you take an appreciable risk every time you get behind the wheel of a car. I find it interesting that people, without second thoughts, routinely get behind the wheel of multi-ton vehicles and go speeding down the highway at 60+ mph surrounded by plenty of distracted drivers in vehicles as large as semis even though air bags, seat belts, crumble zones and the like are not guarantees that they will not be injured or killed in an accident. I would love to see statistics comparing the number of cyclists killed and injured through no fault of their own to the number of people so injured while behind the wheel.
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Old 01-10-14, 12:30 PM   #6
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At the risk of statting the obvious, vision in the left eye is more important than the right when it comes to cycling as traffic auto traffic is almost always on your left and you will inevitably have to move left to avoid debris, etc., on the side of the road.
Maybe your vision is contributing to your concerns... the vision in my left eye has been poor ever since I was a child. It's corrected to 20/25 or so but I can't read with it or anything and I don't have binocular vision. It does provide peripheral vision though but I can appreciate your concerns. You may want to invest in a little helmet mirror or something for your bike, that may help you.

+1 to the MUP idea. I don't imagine you'll be blasting through at 20 mph so the dog on leash / kid on skateboard issue will still be there but maybe less prevalent.

Don't be afraid of roads (great advice, I know) but be smart about which ones you ride on. Roads with large shoulders or empty space at the right don't bother me as much as roads where I have to ride IN the lane with cars, particularly fast moving cars.
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Old 01-10-14, 12:34 PM   #7
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I am in your same age range, I'm also 6' tall, and I went from 305 to 245 pounds through bicycling and substituting some better foods for junk foods. It can be done, and you can do it. The important thing is to find a repeatable, livable routine that works for you. For me, it was switching to bicycle commuting to get to work every day (6 miles each way). I found I actually love doing it and it was better for me than car commuting for many reasons. I eventually gave my car to charity and went 100% bike commuter. That approach is certainly not for everybody, but for me, the repeatability locks me into guaranteed miles.

If you can get the same repeatability by finding a trail or a road route that you can ride daily, or several times per week, you could achieve the same fitness goal.

Riding on streets with traffic can be done safely if you ride defensively and smartly. Before I started bicycle commuting, I read a book on urban cycling that was really helpful to me in knowing how to minimize risks and be as safe as possible. The Art of Urban Cycling by Robert Hurst, if a book on the subject might interest you:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Urban-...+urban+cycling

Over half the battle is route selection. If you decide to ride in traffic, you want to pick streets that are:
- wider lane widths
- lower speed limits
- lower traffic volumes

Hurst does a great job laying that out in his book. He uses the term "traffic intensity" to combine the lane widths, traffic speeds, traffic volumes, etc. You want lower traffic intensity routes if at all possible.

I don't have vision issues like you describe, but I don't think that's a disqualifier. Factor it into your consideration of routes and approaches. I think there is a sub-forum here for cycling with disabilities... not sure if they cover vision there, but that might be worth looking into. Also, the Commuting sub-forum here is a great source of info that is well-populated by folks who cycle city streets every day to and from work.

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to encourage you and give you a couple resources that might help. Losing the 60 pounds has significantly improved my quality of life in many ways, and I wish the same for you. Hopefully you can find a good cycling route there in DFW that works for you. At least you shouldn't need studded winter tires like I do here in Illinois.
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Old 01-10-14, 03:22 PM   #8
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Thank you for all of the suggestions.

I like the MUPs idea. The only one near me is about 30 minutes away. But that might just be the ticket.

Thanks again.
Everyone ride safe!
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Old 01-10-14, 03:30 PM   #9
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What is your neighborhood like? When I started riding, I just meandered around on side streets, away from any traffic, for several months. That built up my confidence enough to take on roads and MUPs. If that's possible where you live, give it a shot.
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Old 01-10-14, 03:41 PM   #10
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Thank you for all of the suggestions.

I like the MUPs idea. The only one near me is about 30 minutes away. But that might just be the ticket.

Thanks again.
Everyone ride safe!

One more thing, especially if you are traveling with a bike in a car, get a rack! It is so nice to just toss the bike in a rack, strap it down and go home after a ride. It sucks when you have to strip the bike down to fit it in a trunk or back seat.

Unless you own a bike enough vehicle then nevermind....I'd imagine being in Texas equates to drinking a pick-up but I didn't want to assume. We know what that leads too...

And welcome!
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Old 01-10-14, 04:21 PM   #11
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What is your neighborhood like? When I started riding, I just meandered around on side streets, away from any traffic, for several months. That built up my confidence enough to take on roads and MUPs. If that's possible where you live, give it a shot.
I have been riding around my neighborhood. I'm not crazy about it though. Mostly because it's too boring for me. Different or changing scenery is a big plus for me.

I've been jonesing for a new bike. I really like some of the Surlies. But I can't justify spending that much money under my circumstances.
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Old 01-10-14, 04:24 PM   #12
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One more thing, especially if you are traveling with a bike in a car, get a rack! It is so nice to just toss the bike in a rack, strap it down and go home after a ride. It sucks when you have to strip the bike down to fit it in a trunk or back seat.

Unless you own a bike enough vehicle then nevermind....I'd imagine being in Texas equates to drinking a pick-up but I didn't want to assume. We know what that leads too...

And welcome!
Yep. I'm guilty there. I actually own 2 pick-ups. LOL!!!
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Old 01-10-14, 05:19 PM   #13
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I ride with a cyclist who is legally blind. He has limited vision but gets along pretty well. Most people who meet him on group or charity rides have no idea. Your limited vision is going to be an issue in traffic. I'd take to the bicycle and MUPs for now. If you like longer distances and open countryside, look up rails to trails conversions. Some are paved, some aren't but all are devoid of steep grades (trains didn't climb hills very well) and sharp turns. Ideal for new riders or those with some physical limitations.
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Old 01-10-14, 05:49 PM   #14
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Before I started cycling I only knew how to navigate my area on freeways and major arterials. Riding a bike lets you discover sleepy little streets with pretty scenery and no traffic.
The MUPs still require alertness due to other users who do not agree on the rules/etiquette.
There is something about struggling up a hill to focus your concerns on surviving the climb without worrying about getting run over.
Seriously, I recommend reading some of the resources online. http://www.cyclingsavvydfw.org/ is one. I took their clinic and found it quite worthwhile.
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Old 01-10-14, 06:17 PM   #15
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Another trick is to go to google maps and click on the "bicycling" link under the search box. It will highlight any cycling routes in green based on how bike friendly it is. That might help you find some new places to ride.

DFW is pretty sparse but it looks like there are some decent paths out there. Whatever you do, do NOT do this for Irvine, CA or Minneapolis, MN.
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Old 01-10-14, 06:28 PM   #16
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sounds like you need a MTB, no cars to deal with just other people on the trails.
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Old 01-13-14, 07:03 PM   #17
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sounds like you need a MTB, no cars to deal with just other people on the trails
.

my thoughts exactly!
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Old 01-13-14, 08:35 PM   #18
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Congrats on riding!

I use a mirror that slides onto the top of the STI levers. Great mirror, very usable. Please consider this or some other mirror that works for you even on MUPS.

I was insulin resistant but have beaten it. Just in case you haven't stumbled on this. Insulin response is a better indicator of foods effects on people then the Glycemic Index. There are some interesting surprises, both in foods that induce more insulin than predicted by the Glycemic Index and some that produce less, even far less...

Also studies support resistance training as helping control blood sugar and insulin regulation

Good Fortune!
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Old 01-14-14, 03:04 AM   #19
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I usually work afternoons and in the summer I like to ride at night and a side street just across from me has a loop that's 1 mile exactly. To stay off main roads at night I'll often just do laps, sounds boring but when your pushing yourself the miles usually fly by, even after a couple years of doing it.
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Old 01-14-14, 09:57 AM   #20
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I use a mirror that slides onto the top of the STI levers. Great mirror, very usable. Please consider this or some other mirror that works for you even on MUPS.
Would soemthing like that work for someone like the OP who has no vision in his left eye?
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Old 01-14-14, 08:21 PM   #21
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Would something like that work for someone like the OP who has no vision in his left eye?
It slides on the slider that holds the rubber for the hood. You then stretch the hood over and slide it in it's slider. I can't see why it wouldn't mount on the right side. They are STI version limited though.

Next time I'm on the road I will attend to how far to the opposite side it can see... It may only cover the rear on the left (when mounted on the right, pretty far back, couple car lengths...)

I ran with the bar end aero type and 1 brand was wide angle, but the image was quite blurry. My SO had a bar end with a big round mirror similar to the STI mount. It was easy to knock it out of alignment when schlepp'ing the bike around but had great coverage and image.
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Old 01-18-14, 08:25 PM   #22
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I would suggest a glasses-mounted mirror on the right side of your glasses. The Take-A-Look mirror is my favorite.

I'm left-handed, and my dominant eye is my left eye. However, I spent several summers living and cycling in England, where you ride and bike on the left side of the road. I found that I could see traffic behind me perfectly well with my mirror on the left side. That leads me to conclude that you would see traffic behind you perfectly well if you used a mirror on the right side. A glasses-mounted mirror makes it easy to turn your head slightly and scan the whole road behind you.

Don't use headphones or earbuds while riding; your ears also give you useful clues.

My father-in-law has been blind in his left eye for about 60 years and gets along very well driving, cycling, and skiing. I can ask him for tips if that would help, though I tend to forget that he's technically disabled (and I think he tends to forget it too, except when it's expedient!).

You can get fold-out reflectors that extend to the left of your bike, to encourage drivers to pass further to the left, but I think it's better to get into the habit of riding at least a foot or two away from the curb (more if there's debris, or parked cars), so that drivers who wish to pass have to cross the center line to do so. That makes you more visible than if you're hugging the curb. And it makes it easier to see cars with a mirror on the right.
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Old 01-21-14, 01:48 PM   #23
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.

my thoughts exactly![/COLOR]
totally agree with the MTB bike suggestion. to to the DORBA site and find a trail near you. they are scattered all of DFW. most of the local trails have some "easier" sections that are relatively flat but still very much fun. south side of rowlette creek, lb houston, etc..

there are some good MUPs also but they can have their problems as others noted but i have never had a problem on the ones near my place (plano). but seriously, consider a mountain bike and check out the DORBA site (google it).
worst thing i've ever seen on a local mtb trail is the ocassional copperhead in summer

gw
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