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  1. #1
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    Cross-country for charity? Too fat? Is this feasible?

    Dear friends at Bikeforums.net,

    I'd like to introduce myself- I am 29 years old, I weigh in the neighborhood of 450lbs and I am going to ride a bicycle across the United States of America to help raise money and awareness for charity. I am debating on the charity at this time but have pretty much narrowed it down to either Autism Awareness or World Hunger. I hope to accomplish this massive feat because I don't know of any other way to help. I guess deep down I feel if a 450lb man can ride 4,000 miles then nothing is out of reach.

    My basic plan is to either ride the Southern tier route by ACA or the Transam. If I do do the transamerica route I will start in Berea, KY since that is the closet town on the trail to me. I flirted with an electric bike but have pretty much decided on getting a bike like http://www.industrialbicycles.com/He...erTricycle.htm I understand that this particular bike is not meant for long distances but at my weight I don't believe any other bike would hold up!

    Questions I have-

    How can I find out if I'd be the fattest person to go cross-country?

    How far would I have to travel to be considered cross-country? The southern tier is only 3,000 miles while Kentucky to Oregon would be 3,800 miles.

    Anyway to get sponsored?


    feasible
    I would love to hear your thoughts on this whole project. Especially if you have some advice to raise money for the charity.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1. If you are going to go the charity route, make sure 100% of the money goes to charity ... 0% for you, 100% for the charity. People may want to support a charity, but they do not want to pay for your little holiday.

    2. If you are going to go the charity route, contact the charity to make sure that they approve of your efforts. Then create a website, and put a link to the charity on the website so that when people click the link they will be donating 100% of their funds to the charity. You will not handle any of the money yourself.

    3. Cross country means that you dip the rear tire of your bicycle in one ocean, then ride across the country, and dip your front tire in the other ocean. All the way across.


    When do you plan to do this? How long do you plan to take? And if it is next summer, for example, what does your training plan for the next year look like, and what is your goal weight by then?

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    Get a job, donate money to the charity of your choice.

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    How many miles have you ridden this year? What has been your longest bicycle trip? Is this a supported ride or independent? Can you give a bit more information about your conditioning and physical condition before people give you their thoughts?

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    Isn't there an charity forum?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ratdog View Post
    How many miles have you ridden this year? What has been your longest bicycle trip? Is this a supported ride or independent? Can you give a bit more information about your conditioning and physical condition before people give you their thoughts?
    Big fat zero.

    If I do the Southern tier route I will leave October 1st. I don't plan to really lose any major amount of weigh before I go. A 400 pound man riding across country will hopefully allow me to get my cause out there and get some real attention to the cause.

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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    It is a good thing to have dreams and goals.

    One needs to be in a good physical condition to ride crosscountry.

    I began walking before riding.

    How far can you walk in one hour?

    How far can you walk in eight hours.

    Muliply the time by four and that might be how far you could travel on a bike for the same time period.
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    I noticed that industrial tricycle has at most 3 gears, for a cross country ride I'd want more of a regular bike. There are several steel touring bikes out there that will be able to take the weight if you can mount and dismount a 2 wheeler. Hell I'm 306lbs and I ride a skinny tire road bike with a low spoke count in the wheels. I've been big for a long time and I've always exercised. Fat, yet in pretty good shape. LOL Anyway I can sling my 306lbs around fairly gracefully. Don't let your weight intimidate you. One more thought, this is a mental exercise as much as a physical one. If you're a quitter by nature you're gonna fail. You need to have the intestinal fortitude to keep going even when things suck. Trust me, this is gonna suck some of the time. Hell, a lot of the time until you are strong enough. I toured the PNW 10 years ago when I lived in Seattle. There are days when the thought of climbing yet another steep hill is enough to bring you to tears.

    Regarding your physical limitations, don't ever think you're too fat, too out of shape, too whatever to keep going. I have a severe heart condition, most people with my condition lead sedentary lives, then die suddenly. That's not for me, I'm not going to sit on the couch and give up. I fight by riding my bikes, living car free, going to the gym to do cardio and lift weights, taking dogs on a walk at the humane society, meeting my running club for training runs at the track, going on longish road rides with my road bike club, eating healthy, watching my calories, taking my medication. It's not fun to ride a bike when it feels like there's a truck parked on your chest and you can't catch your breath. I would rather have a massive heart attack on my bike, fighting to get better, than be found dead in my house with empty Cheeto bags and Mountain Dew cans everywhere. People also give me **** since I can't go on real long rides, yet.

    Final thought, use your weight to your advantage. You're going to lose weight doing this, get people to agree to donate X dollars for every pound you lose. With just a little bit of caloric discipline you could drop a massive amount of weight doing a sea to sea trip. Create a website where you can post progress reports of distance traveled and weight lost. Have a PayPal donate feature.
    Last edited by iheartbacon; 08-24-12 at 10:25 PM.
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    That's wonderful post iheartbacon. The donate per pound idea is great!

  10. #10
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    Gears are your friend. you will want a wide range of friends on your trip.
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    Big guy + touring luggage, you may want to consider a cargo bike such as Surly Big Dummy. That is rated for a (typical) rider + 200lbs of cargo and can carry 1 passenger if needed.
    I always think that the best cause that cyclists can promote is cycling. If you can inspire and persuade obese people to get more active you will do a lot more good in the world than raising a small amount of money for charity. I'm sure you understand the health risks of obesity, but what about the financial cost of that risk: the drugs, hospitalization, welfare etc. Cycling is a virtuous cycle of reduced weight, medical bills, insurance costs, car bills, and increased fitness, health, happiness and wealth. In Greece, where the economy has been shattered, people are turning from cars to bicycles and bike shops are the only businesses with increasing profits.

    Maybe you should brand your ride as inspirational rather than money raising, maybe get some health insurance companies to sponsor you and do the whole local media circus in every town.

    Regarding fitness, you only need start with very basic level and tune your distances accordingly, the tour will get you fit. I think it will be more of a "story" if you start with 10 miles/day and finish on 100miles/day.
    Americans love metrics so carry a small balance to weight yourself every day.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose200x View Post
    Big fat zero.

    If I do the Southern tier route I will leave October 1st. I don't plan to really lose any major amount of weigh before I go. A 400 pound man riding across country will hopefully allow me to get my cause out there and get some real attention to the cause.
    So you're going to use this tour as an excuse to remain 400 lbs?

    Sorry, but that's how your statement there comes across. If you happen to drop to 350 lbs along the way, do you think the interest in your cause will diminish? Give some thought to how you are approaching this whole thing.


    Also, you're planning to leave October 1. You've got a little over a month to actually get on a bicycle and start training. Since you've done absolutely nothing, you've no idea whether you'll be able to ride around the block let alone across the country. Do you have a bicycle now? Go ride around the block this afternoon and tell us how it went. Start now.

    And October 1 is a pretty tight schedule to contact your charity and get everything set up with them. How are you going with that?


    As you're thinking about things, how long do you think this tour is going to take? 1 month? 2 months? More? Do you have a proposed timeline yet?

    Have you done any research on terrain and weather? What about budget (remember, 100% of funds raised go to the charity)? Are you planning to camp? Stay in hotels? Have someone follow you with a motor home?


    I'm not trying to discourage you ... I'm encouraging you to think about the reality of this sort of undertaking.

  13. #13
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose200x View Post
    Dear friends at Bikeforums.net,

    I'd like to introduce myself- I am 29 years old, I weigh in the neighborhood of 450lbs and I am going to ride a bicycle across the United States of America to help raise money and awareness for charity. I am debating on the charity at this time but have pretty much narrowed it down to either Autism Awareness or World Hunger.
    I'd go for Autism Awareness. There are those who might find it ironic that a 450 lb man is riding for world hunger unless you spin it properly.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artkansas View Post
    I'd go for Autism Awareness. There are those who might find it ironic that a 450 lb man is riding for world hunger unless you spin it properly.
    Good point ... maybe make every 5th day a fasting day.


    I'm still trying to work out how this tour is going to start.

    Day 1: Ride 1 mile. And then what ... turn around and try to ride 1 mile back home or get into the sag vehicle and be driven home?

    Day 2: Be drive out to where he left off. Ride 1.5 miles.



    And no, I'm not trying to be difficult about this here. In 1990, I was a slim somewhat active person (lots of walking (3-5 km/day), a little bit of jogging, occasional weight lifting) and I decided to get more serious about cycling. I figured it wouldn't be difficult at all. After all, 5 years before I was doing quite a bit of cycling, and since then it wasn't like I was a couch potato or anything.

    I got on my bicycle and managed 2 miles, with a break to puff and pant at the 1 mile point. I couldn't believe how difficult it was! The next day I went out and did 2 miles all in one go. About a week later I was up to 5 mile rides.

    In this case we're talking about someone who has the additional burden of excessive body weight. If he can do 1 mile (not 10 miles, just 1 single mile) on his first ride, he'll be doing well. If he gets on his bicycle right now and starts ... no excuses, no delays ... he might be up to 5 mile rides by October 1. And if he really puts in an effort, he might manage 10 mile rides by then ... 5 miles, then a break, and 5 more miles.

    And if he starts right now and begins building up, and can manage 10 mile rides 4-5 days a week by October 1, he might be able to cover 200 miles in October ... and that would be a really impressive distance. But 200 out of 4000 leaves a very long way to go.

    This is why I'm asking questions to the OP like:

    - How do you intend to support yourself during the year or more it is going to take you to do this?
    - Can you afford that length of time off work?
    - Where do you plan to stay along the way?
    - What about medical issues? Have you arranged insurance and do you have a medical professional who will monitor the situation all along the way?
    - What will you do when you get into the winter rainy weather ... days and days of rain?

    If the OP has not thought out all these things by now, October 1 is looming and there's a lot of work and preparation to do by then.
    -

  15. #15
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Throwing in some thoughts, partly based on what others have already said and partly based on things that come to mind...

    If you want to "go cross-country" you need to go across the country. Kentucky isn't at any of the edges, so any ride that started or finished in Kentucky isn't cross-country. Whether you want to do CA-FL, WA-ME, CA-ME, whatever, I'd agree with Machka that you need to start at one edge and ride to the other. You could do north-south but even then some would say you're not really going across the country.

    If you're doing it for charity you need to make clear that all the money raised goes to the charity. That means you pay your own way while you ride. If the money you raise funds your expenses on the ride what you're effectively saying is that your sponsors are paying for you to go on a jolly and anything left over goes to the charity. You won't get many sponsors that way. An electric bike seems like a cop-out, it means you're going to ride it but not the difficult parts. I may be cynical here but to be honest if you're going to use an electric bike I'd be thinking you might as well use a motorbike.

    Being 450lb doesn't necessarily have to be a problem but unless you've got some reasonable fitness to work with you're going to hurt and almost certainly have to either do the trip so desperately slowly the costs will be huge or abandon it due to being unable to continue. I'll hazard a wild guess (based on topping the scales only just shy of 300 myself when I started cycling) that you're probably not hugely fit at the moment. Lack of fitness and lack of experience in the saddle will be a huge issue on a ride like this.

    If you're doing 4000 miles that means 40 days at 100 miles per day, 80 days at 50 miles per day, 100 days at 40 miles per day, slice and dice it however you want. If you can't do 40 miles in a day once now the chances of doing it 100 times aren't great. The first time I got on a bike in 20+ years, weighing somewhere around 300 (I don't know my exact weight, I avoided the scales at the time because when I went over 280 it got too depressing to see the numbers), I did 5 miles and was pretty much spent after that. Most of those 5 miles were flat, there was just one short hill to climb. The chances of me doing 40 miles in one day were as close to zero as makes no odds, and that was without having to contend with things like the Rockies in my path.

    You said you can't think of any other way to help your chosen charities. Unless you're going to get some serious training in, it seems like this trip will take you three months or more. That means 100+ days of accommodation of some form (I imagine you won't be wild camping every night), 100+ days of eating whatever you can get your hands on en-route, 100+ days of whatever bicycle maintenance and repair is required, and so on. Throw in a few other considerations, like whether you'll get all, some or none your sponsorship money if you do have to abandon the ride, and you could potentially end up doing part of the ride, abandonding it in pain and not even getting any money for your charity. You could figure out how much this trip will cost you and donate that to your chosen charity, then do some training coupled with sponsorship - someone already mentioned the potential irony of a 450lb man riding for World Hunger but a heavy man doing a sponsored slim for World Hunger is far less ironic. Then once you're in better shape you can look to the cross-country ride as a future challenge, having trained to a point you're more likely to make it.

    October 1 is barely five weeks away. If you've never ridden a bike before the chances of you making it cross-country in less than several months are very slim. When I could comfortably cover 30-40 miles in an afternoon I rode 150 miles in two days and at the end of the first day I was spent, I had absolutely nothing left to give. At the end of the second day (most of which was flat, and what hills there were mostly defeated me) I was equally spent. Mapping that situation to what you're proposing you're saying you can't comfortably do 30 miles in an afternoon, and if you did manage 150 miles in two days you've still got 3850 miles to go, with mountains in the way.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    To the OP. Machka is being cruel but fair. She has ridden distances that would be unimaginable to most people. I can imagine that in your situation a grand gesture might seem like the best way to get off the couch and moving, but setting yourself up for failure is not a ticket to a healthier lifestyle. Set goals you know you can reach. Couch to 5K might be a good way to start. Than get a decent used bike. When you put 1000 miles on that get a nicer bike. Find people to ride with. Do some weight training. Small goals with a constant stream of small successes will be much more likely to lead to a healthier happier life. You can PM me if you ever wanna just BS about stuff. Also, chek the clydesdales forum, these guys will have specific info that will be useful to the fuller figured beginning rider.

  17. #17
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    +1 with Machka,
    Newspaper out here greets another cross country 'charity' rider story
    with the term, So? .. you and 10 others . this week.

    Your home town paper may take more interest..


    Anyway to get sponsored?
    so it's not about a charity you care about, it's about You.

    kinda backwards dont you think ?

    just go ride your bike .. for the joy of riding, on your own dime.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-25-12 at 08:57 AM.

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    It is a good thing to have dreams and goals.

    One needs to be in a good physical condition to ride crosscountry.

    I began walking before riding.

    How far can you walk in one hour?

    How far can you walk in eight hours.

    Muliply the time by four and that might be how far you could travel on a bike for the same time period.
    I have to disagree with this ...

    How far can I walk in 1 hour ... well, 6 km/h is a good walking speed for me.
    Multiply that by 8 = 48 km.
    Multiply that by 4 and that's 192 km.

    Of course I can ride 192 km. I've done it many times. But would I want to do a tour where I rode 192 km each day for 5 days a week? Especially for weeks or months on end. Nope. Not a chance.

    For me, 48 km/day on tour is about right. Maybe a little bit longer on a few days here and there.

    So for the OP, if he can walk, say, 1 km in 1 hour ... multiply that by 8 and you've got 8 km/day as about the most he can expect to do every day, 5 days a week at this point. And since he hasn't been on a bicycle at all, that's going to be a stretch for him.



    I really hope we hear from the OP, and I especially hope we hear that he has gone for a ride today ... a ride around the block, maybe 1 mile. Then I hope we hear from him again that he did it again tomorrow.

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    So when did you weight 450 lbs Machka ?
    I don't ... and that's partly why I disagree with your calculations. I'm not 450 lbs and I'm relatively fit ... and I couldn't do a tour based on your calculation. I just don't see how someone who is 450 lbs and not fit could.

    And I do have some experience with someone who is/was about that weight. I was married to a man about that size for 12 years. I know many of the issues someone that size would face attempting something like this.

  20. #20
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I have to disagree with this ...How far can I walk in 1 hour ... well, 6 km/h is a good walking speed for me.
    Multiply that by 8 = 48 km.Multiply that by 4 and that's 192 km.Of course I can ride 192 km. I've done it many times. But would I want to do a tour where I rode 192 km each day for 5 days a week? Especially for weeks or months on end. Nope. Not a chance.For me, 48 km/day on tour is about right. Maybe a little bit longer on a few days here and there.So for the OP, if he can walk, say, 1 km in 1 hour ... multiply that by 8 and you've got 8 km/day as about the most he can expect to do every day, 5 days a week at this point. And since he hasn't been on a bicycle at all, that's going to be a stretch for him.I really hope we hear from the OP, and I especially hope we hear that he has gone for a ride today ... a ride around the block, maybe 1 mile. Then I hope we hear from him again that he did it again tomorrow.
    Machka my post was for the OP, who does Not have a bicycle and weights 450 lbs. Enjoy your 7 month tour........
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  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Machka my post was for the OP, who does Not have a bicycle and weights 450 lbs. Enjoy your 7 month tour........
    Yes I know ... and I still think your estimate of what he could ride each day (given that he does not have a bicycle and weighs 450 lbs) is at least 4 times too high. Right now, I think he'll do well to cycle 1 mile.

  22. #22
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Machka my post was for the OP, who does Not have a bicycle and weights 450 lbs. Enjoy your 7 month tour........
    Even for the OP it doesn't work all that well.

    When I weighed in at nearly 300, in one hour I could walk 3.5 miles, therefore based on your post in 8 hours I could walk 28 miles, therefore on a bike I should have been able to go 112 miles in a day. But 80 miles left me all but broken with nothing more to give, walking up even small hills because I just didn't have anything left in my legs.

    If someone is fairly fit in terms of walking that doesn't mean they will be comparably fit on a bike. If they aren't even fit walking they're really going to struggle.

    I'd encourage the OP to work towards his goal but attempting it in October if he doesn't even have a bike at present seems to be a good way to get himself evacuated by ambulance from somewhere along the roadside.

    In terms of Machka's other figures, if the purpose of a tour is to see the sights and enjoy the area you won't want to spend the entire day in the saddle blasting through everything, you'll want to stop and smell the roses (metaphorically, if not literally). If the purpose of a tour is to get from one point to another point you'll want to push a lot faster but that's only useful if you're physically capable of sustaining a faster pace. At Machka's figure of 48km/day the OP's tour will take something like 130 days to complete but that's assuming he can manage 30 miles in a day, which for someone who apparently doesn't even have a bike at the moment is a tall order in such a short timeframe.
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  23. #23
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
    To the OP. Machka is being cruel but fair. She has ridden distances that would be unimaginable to most people. I can imagine that in your situation a grand gesture might seem like the best way to get off the couch and moving, but setting yourself up for failure is not a ticket to a healthier lifestyle. Set goals you know you can reach. Couch to 5K might be a good way to start. Than get a decent used bike. When you put 1000 miles on that get a nicer bike. Find people to ride with. Do some weight training. Small goals with a constant stream of small successes will be much more likely to lead to a healthier happier life. You can PM me if you ever wanna just BS about stuff. Also, chek the clydesdales forum, these guys will have specific info that will be useful to the fuller figured beginning rider.
    I agree with this on all points.

    Machka has covered distances that will make your head spin.

    Start with smaller goals that you can achieve and build on them. If you set off on something way too big the newspapers may not take much of an interest from the outset but may take more of an interest if they can use a headline that says something like "Man dies of heart failure on charity ride". It's not the best publicity for the charity either, not to mention your family and friends.

    If you've got a trust fund that will finance a trip of whatever length it takes, feel free to do the ride even if you can only manage 10 miles in a day and take 400 days to do it. I'll guess you don't have such a trust fund or you wouldn't be stuck for ideas regarding how to help your chosen charities.

    Swing by the Clydesdales and Athenas forum - it's intended for people who weigh over 200lb and you'll get a lot of good advice in there about what sort of bike to buy and how to get going. A lot of serious cyclists look like beanpoles in jerseys and there are a few issues specific to those of us who produce bigger numbers when we stand on the scale. There's a lot of folks in the Clydes area who started out weighing 450, some folks who started out significantly heavier than that.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

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    I've read these posts and will go through here and try to answer most of the questions you asked.....

    No, I am not using anything as an "excuse" to remain heavy. The idea I am going with is if a 400lb man is willing to push his body to the absolute breaking point then hopefully people will be interested in my story and help raise money/awareness. I really hope that if I can lose 50-100 or even more that i'd draw even more interest! Can you imagine if I lost 150lbs!?!? I'm sure that would snag me some sweet tv time

    Southern Tier is 3k and I was planning on doing six 15min rides a day. Aiming for 30miles a day. My basic plan as for pre-fitness is to ride 15 mins a day for a week, upping it to 45 mins the 2nd week and then the third week aim for the full six 15 min sessions. I plan on camping 5-6 days a week and staying at a hotel 1-2 days a week.

    I do have a bike but it's just a junkie mountain bike. I ride it around every now and then. I will aim for a mile ride tomorrow and let you guys know what's up.



    Anything anyone else wants to know? I am new to this whole idea so I really appreciate brainstorming with you guys.

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose200x View Post
    I've read these posts and will go through here and try to answer most of the questions you asked.....

    No, I am not using anything as an "excuse" to remain heavy. The idea I am going with is if a 400lb man is willing to push his body to the absolute breaking point then hopefully people will be interested in my story and help raise money/awareness. I really hope that if I can lose 50-100 or even more that i'd draw even more interest! Can you imagine if I lost 150lbs!?!? I'm sure that would snag me some sweet tv time
    And what if ... even if you lost 150 lbs, which would indeed be great ... no one, but you, cares? What if you don't get any media coverage whatsoever? Lots of people lose large amounts of weight, and hardly anyone ever hears about it.


    Quote Originally Posted by Moose200x View Post
    Southern Tier is 3k and I was planning on doing six 15min rides a day. Aiming for 30miles a day. My basic plan as for pre-fitness is to ride 15 mins a day for a week, upping it to 45 mins the 2nd week and then the third week aim for the full six 15 min sessions. I plan on camping 5-6 days a week and staying at a hotel 1-2 days a week.
    30 miles in 90 minutes ... 20 mph. Right. Go ride that mountain bike for 15 minutes, come back here and revise that estimate to something more realistic.

    But presuming you can do 30 miles a day (in twice the amount of time you're estimating ... i.e. twelve 15 minute rides a day ... especially if you plan to carry any camping gear with you at all) * 5 days a week (because you'll want to plan to take at least 2 days a week off), that's 150 miles a week ... or 20 weeks. About 4.5 months.

    Starting October 1 - mid-February. What's the weather like on the southern tier during that time period?



    Quote Originally Posted by Moose200x View Post
    I do have a bike but it's just a junkie mountain bike. I ride it around every now and then. I will aim for a mile ride tomorrow and let you guys know what's up.
    Good. Do you have a computer on that bicycle so you can get some real figures and a better idea of what you're talking about?

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