Old 08-18-13, 10:30 PM
B. Carfree
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Originally Posted by buzzman View Post
While my left wing sensibilities have left me with no great appreciation for the "great state of Texas" the arrogant, elitist tone of your post makes me reconsider my liberal standing- I would hate to reek of such condescension. But it's the internet and tone is hard to read and appreciate so perhaps it is I who have judged you too harshly- if so, I apologize.

In any case, I do take issue with your condemnation of "short trip cycling being touted as 'cure' for obesity". There is substantial evidence that even something as simple as removing people's television remote controls, having them take the stairs instead of an elevator, walking to the market or to the subway as opposed to taking a car has a positive effect on their weight and general health. Bicycling for short trips is undoubtedly a positive factor in reducing obesity rates. And it should be part of a more wholistic approach- I don't think anyone in their right mind would automatically and simplistically call it a 'cure' in and of itself.

You can read countless accounts on Bike Forums of people who started biking with small trips around town, partly because it was all they were capable of, and eventually found themselves using the bike to commute or for more transportation and recreation all the while losing considerable amounts of weight and getting healthier.

Do you expect obese people to get out and start riding 50 miles/day and embarking on a rigorous training regimen? They'd give up in no time. IMO, we should be encouraging people to start with something small and manageable like a ride to the grocery store or around the block and let the natural enjoyment and feeling of accomplishment of getting somewhere under their own power do its thing.
No, I don't expect morbidly obese people to roll out and ride centuries this weekend, in spite of the fact that I have seen more than a few 350#+ folks ride moderately hilly centuries. My concern is that many people will believe the propaganda that riding a few miles at a snail's pace will make them fit and trim. In my experience, these folks are likely to hang the bike up after a few months and never ride again because it, "didn't work". Granted, these are the same folks who went to aerobics classes two or three times per week and eventually quit those when they didn't lose any fat.

Please note that I did say these short rides are better than nothing. My concern lies in the overselling that I have seen and heard. Sure, some folks will roll a short ways, enjoy the effect it has on them, and then proceed to ride more and even take other steps to regain their health. That's great when it happens, but I think it would happen more often if they knew more going in. Slowing the rate of degradation is not quite the same as improving one's health, although I agree it is a reasonable place to start.

As far as my condescending tone towards TX, let me explain. In the early '90s, I took a position at a university in TX. On my first day on campus I was appalled to hear other faculty refer to people as "********". The city was rigidly racially segregated. Remember, this was the '90s, not the '50s. I only saw one instance of a white person in the company of a black person. The school integration plan involved busing kids from the white side of town as an intact classroom for one year during their elementary years. For that year, they used a classroom on the black side of town, but didn't really interact with the other students. I could elicit a warm welcome if I said I was from Sacramento, but if I told people I was from San Francisco, they immediately turned cold. I interpreted that as homophobia. The local newspaper had a dozen articles in the first month about the scandalous notion of teaching sex ed in the HIGH SCHOOLS! I could go on, but let's just say if someone had asked me for directions to TX, I would have said, "It's four decades back and two dimensions over."

So, aside from the extreme obesity I observed (I've never seen so many "all you can eat" places in one city), I was repulsed by what I heard and saw. Sadly, our nation as a whole has moved in that direction in the intervening years. Still, I hope the efforts to change and improve the situation in TX are fruitful. As much as I disliked what I saw, I did meet some wonderful people there who were making the best of what they had. I hope for their sake it gets better.
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