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Old 09-19-11, 06:01 PM   #1
nathan.johnson
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How to encourage a new rider from 1300 miles away?

This is my first venture into this forum so I apologize if this has been hashed out before.

About a year and a half ago, I was a typical overweight American on the verge of obesity. I am relatively tall, so the weight hung well. I noticed that I was constantly tired and cranky. On my 29th birthday, I decided to lose the weight I had put on since high school and set a goal of finishing a marathon in under 4 hours by the time I was 30. I did that and more. Along the way, I've been telling friends and family how great I feel and how I have more energy even though I exercise a lot. My sister has taken the plunge as well and is running her first half-marathon in a week. Also, my mom is walking in her first 5k this week as well.

I think that my sister has the motivation to keep it up. She has a good support system and training buddy in her fiance. The problem is that I'm not sure my mom will continue with the exercise after the "race" this weekend. She is obese and walking 6 miles will be very hard for her. She has a bike that she recently started riding again, without any prodding from me. I would like to encourage her, but she lives in Minnesota and I live in Arizona.

I'm not sure what type of bike she has. I think it's probably a hybrid. She told me that she would like to work up to biking to work one or two days per week and maybe riding along the multi-use path on weekends. The commute is around 5 miles each way, which is well beyond her abilities right now.

My dilemma is this: she doesn't love cycling (or really any physical activity). I'm of the opinion that exercise will only become a long-term activity if you really love it. I love riding and running. I want her to love riding as well. I fell in love with cycling when I bought my second bike. How do I get her to fall in love with cycling so that this doesn't become yet another failed weight loss plan? If I was living nearby, I could ride with her, help fix mechanical issues (she just paid over $200 to fix a problem I could have for about $25), and generally see that she has a fun time on the bike. But I'm so far away I can't really do that. All I can do is offer support over the phone or email. I would like to do more, but what? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 09-19-11, 06:52 PM   #2
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Does she have a friend in the area that she can go biking with? Would she be willing to join a local bicycling club? I think that the first step is to find her someone to ride with so it becomes more of a social activity rather than a workout. Eventually, once it gets a little easier for her, she may actually enjoy it and feel motivated to continue.
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Old 09-19-11, 07:01 PM   #3
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You could have her check meetup.com and see if there are any local riders.
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Old 09-20-11, 12:06 PM   #4
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She, like me, doesn't have a great number of friends, and the ones she has are more interested in chatting and eating. Plus they live at least 30 minutes away by car. Meetup is a great idea, and can't believe I didn't think of it myself since I use it. I've already found a group that look like it'd be great for her. Thanks to both of you! If anyone else has other suggestions, I'd love to hear them too.
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Old 09-20-11, 12:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathan.johnson View Post
I fell in love with cycling when I bought my second bike.
Interesting. I biked a lot when I was a kid, and when I got a MTB as an adult, it didn't really click for me until I had a blowout and decided to replace the knobby tires with slicks. All of a sudden, cycling was fun and easy again!

Quote:
She told me that she would like to work up to biking to work one or two days per week and maybe riding along the multi-use path on weekends. The commute is around 5 miles each way, which is well beyond her abilities right now.
That really is a great goal, and if she works up to it, it shouldn't take long to get up to that. I would guess that if the route is flat enough, 10mph avg should be attainable for even an out-of-shape person in less than a month, which gives a half-hour-each-way commute. Hopefully her work has showers. It also helps to plan ahead by stashing clothes/towel/etc the day before. Maybe also try riding to work one morning, getting a ride home and a ride back to work the next day, and riding home the next night.

I would say, encourage her to look for closer/shorter opportunities to ride her bike places in her neighborhood. Does she need a bag of onions? Ride instead of drive to the grocery store, bring them home in a backpack (or pay a little $$ for a front basket). How about a trip to the library? Blockbuster?

Also having a fiancee as a training buddy is good. I find it's a lot easier to stick with fitness goals (or other obligations) if they are really obligations, if someone else is depending on me. They should set aside one or two evenings or mornings a week to ride together. Map out a few-mile loop from home and gradually expand it.
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Old 09-20-11, 01:15 PM   #6
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Those are all great ideas, butttt.... she lives in suburbia where the nearest anything is about 5 miles. The library is a little under 4 going direct, but she'd probably take the MUP which makes it 5 each way. There's a Target that's 1.5 miles away. So I think I'll suggest riding there. I just looked on the map, and that MUP is really close to her house. So I think I'll suggest riding along that and building up endurance until she can reach the library and other stuff around there. But yeah, the problem is she doesn't really have any one to ride with. So I'm not too keen on getting her started with cycling for utility just yet.
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Old 09-20-11, 01:23 PM   #7
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If you're home you can go riding with her. I think sometimes it's more a matter of self confidence.
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Old 09-20-11, 02:22 PM   #8
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The truth is that only your mother can decide that she is ready to exercise, lose weight, and become more fit.
I belong to an organization that pretty much reflects the average American public. Weight range and fitness are all over the place, but like the public at large heavier and less fit seems to be winning out these days. I've done activities (hiking and cycling) with both men and women. These are activities that require a fair amount of effort. You can easily see the extra strain on the heavier individuals. Often times what is fun for me is not fun for them. I've never been obese as an adult but I had gotten lazy and I remember that even though I wasn't carrying a lot of extra weight it was a struggle to regain fitness. For me, the payoff was worth the effort but only the individual can make that choice.

Also, remember that Winter is fast approaching in Minnesota. What may be a year round activity in the southwest has a long layover in the midwest. Suburbia is not a bad place to ride if the roads are wide enough. Encourage her to try the 5 mile ride. Let her take it slowly and it shouldn't be all that bad. You never get better if you don't try.
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