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How to grow our ranks (overwieght bicyclists)?

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.

How to grow our ranks (overwieght bicyclists)?

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Old 06-30-09, 07:15 PM
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How to grow our ranks (overwieght bicyclists)?

Hi all,

Amos Hunter from Portland is looking for feedback on the subject of how to introduce or encourage bicycling amongst the overweight. I know Amos personally and can vouch for his sincerity in bringing up this topic. He has posted a blog entry here and would love to hear your thoughts:

http://www.biketemple.org/2009/06/ho...ch-out-to.html

Scott
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Old 06-30-09, 07:44 PM
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Invite Amos to visit us! I would have but didn't want to spam his blog, so I just commented.
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Old 06-30-09, 08:04 PM
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I get an error and "operation aborted" when I go there.

It seems to me, the #1 question that comes up is "Will this bike hold me?" or "What bike should I ride if I weight XXX lbs?" I think it would be a big step forward if one of the major brands had two or three different models that were specifically designated to hold heavier riders. Having that in the lineup would be a big encouragement to retailers to actually sell them instead of the occasional "you're too fat to ride" attitude, and would let heavier people know they were meant to ride, not taking their lives in their hands to get on a bike.
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Old 06-30-09, 09:01 PM
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I'm not sure there's anything you can do to encourage the masses towards biking. I think about the best you can hope for is to provide a personal example that maybe friends, family and colleagues can pick up on.

Five years ago when I was at my heaviest I had no real desire to do anything but eat Cheetos and change the channel a whole lot.

Today when I came in to work from running about 4 miles in stupid humidity I talked briefly to a guy who was in horrible physical condition and he actually told me how stupid I was (because I was SPENT, anybody could see it).

Rather than be stupid in return I told him "On the contrary dude, I feel AMAZING. That was tough and nothing I do for the rest of the day can be harder"

Hopefully there was some influence in a positive light there.

I know what you mean and what you're driving at but I'm not sure the choice is anything but a personal one and they're just not ready to get up and go until they make that choice that we all made one day. The choice to get up and do something positive regularly.

Good luck. I do hope you can find something effective. Believe me, I'm on your side.

John
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Old 07-01-09, 05:40 AM
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Doughnuts?
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Old 07-01-09, 06:21 AM
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This just popped into my head:

A local support group arranged by a LBS. A representative goes around to the local Dr.'s offices and clinics with literature for them to hand out to people who are interested or in need. The group can assist in ansewring and directing these folks in the right, safe and proper coarse of action to get started. The group can even start out riding together with a bike mentor from the local group or LBS.

But this is just a harebrained idea.
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Old 07-01-09, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
I get an error and "operation aborted" when I go there.

It seems to me, the #1 question that comes up is "Will this bike hold me?" or "What bike should I ride if I weight XXX lbs?" I think it would be a big step forward if one of the major brands had two or three different models that were specifically designated to hold heavier riders. Having that in the lineup would be a big encouragement to retailers to actually sell them instead of the occasional "you're too fat to ride" attitude, and would let heavier people know they were meant to ride, not taking their lives in their hands to get on a bike.
I believe that Kona sells a bike called the Hoss that is just what you are describing, a bike built specifically for clydesdales. I believe it even comes in a couple of trim levels. What I think would be the cats meow is if they would purpose build a road bike for clydes as the Hoss is a mountain bike.

From a manufactures point of view, why bother. It's a niche market at best and just about any bike off the shelf is perfectly capable of handling the weight of a big guy.
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Old 07-01-09, 07:14 AM
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I don't mean to be contentious, but I don't think there's an honest way to draw the fat masses to cycling. You could sell it as a magic pill, I suppose, but it's not. People ride bikes, and maintain a certain weight, because they want to.
 
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Old 07-01-09, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by bautieri View Post
Doughnuts?
We may be easy, but we ain't cheap. It's got to be chocolate covered cream filled donuts:

Honestly I think one of the best ways would be to get local shops who host group rides to add a Clyde/Athena friendly slant to a non hammerfest ride. Promote it as a no drop ride and recruit a willing Clyde or Athena to help with the ride leader duties. Throwing some 135 lb climber roadie into the fray wouldn't work as well.

Promotion/advertising would be key.
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Old 07-01-09, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by txvintage View Post
We may be easy, but we ain't cheap. It's got to be chocolate covered cream filled donuts:

Honestly I think one of the best ways would be to get local shops who host group rides to add a Clyde/Athena friendly slant to a non hammerfest ride. Promote it as a no drop ride and recruit a willing Clyde or Athena to help with the ride leader duties. Throwing some 135 lb climber roadie into the fray wouldn't work as well.

Promotion/advertising would be key.
I believe we had a conversation on such an idea over the winter and it met with mixed results. Some (myself included) thought this would be a great idea while others took the stance that it only furthered the image that you are not "one of them". Somehow people took that as derogatory so it really comes down to walking on eggshells.

I believe the consensus reached was a one hour beginners no drop ride with a average pace of 8-10 mph. I like this because there are also skinny people who are horribly out of shape as well and could do with a nice easy ride to get their feet wet. IMHO a beginner is a beginner no matter what their weight is.

Since we are picking out which doughnuts we would prefer to swell our ranks I would love to try one of those strawberry jelly filled voodoo doughnuts that I saw on the travel channel. Lacking that I would take a regular cake doughnut with strawberry icing and sprinkles. Yeah, I'm that guy who eats the pink doughnuts. I like them and justify it to myself by claiming it is promoting breast cancer awareness.
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Old 07-01-09, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
I don't mean to be contentious, but I don't think there's an honest way to draw the fat masses to cycling. You could sell it as a magic pill, I suppose, but it's not. People ride bikes, and maintain a certain weight, because they want to.
I beg to differ. I gained all of my excess weight in the year following a car accident and no amount of swimming, walking, cycling, gardening, weight training, or healthy eating has gotten me back to my pre-accident size. Believe me, it's not from lack of trying.
Even before the accident, I had to do amounts of exercise that most people would think slightly insane, just to stay "average" sized, and was usually over-trained and exhausted from it. I'm fighting genetics on both parent's sides.
I'm very healthy and fit - my doctor describes my cholesterol levels as "enviable" - but just can't get any smaller. Some people have a harder time with weight than others, and I just hope that some other large woman, seeing me bombing down 2nd street on my way to work in the morning, will think: "Hey, if she can ride a bike, so can I!"
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Old 07-01-09, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
I don't mean to be contentious, but I don't think there's an honest way to draw the fat masses to cycling. You could sell it as a magic pill, I suppose, but it's not. People ride bikes, and maintain a certain weight, because they want to.
Sir, you are very far from being contentious. I was not trying to draw them in for the "money" injection to the cycling industry. I was just thinking of a way to give them a chance to consider cycling as a way to assist them with a life style change to save their lives. Some won't even consider it because they are ill informed or misinformed.

Am I making any sense? I get the feeling I'm not getting my point across the right way.
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Old 07-01-09, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Rhodabike View Post
I beg to differ. I gained all of my excess weight in the year following a car accident and no amount of swimming, walking, cycling, gardening, weight training, or healthy eating has gotten me back to my pre-accident size. Believe me, it's not from lack of trying.
Even before the accident, I had to do amounts of exercise that most people would think slightly insane, just to stay "average" sized, and was usually over-trained and exhausted from it. I'm fighting genetics on both parent's sides.
I'm very healthy and fit - my doctor describes my cholesterol levels as "enviable" - but just can't get any smaller. Some people have a harder time with weight than others, and I just hope that some other large woman, seeing me bombing down 2nd street on my way to work in the morning, will think: "Hey, if she can ride a bike, so can I!"
All rules have exceptions, but that doesn't mean rules don't exits. Most people are the weight they are because they want to be.
 
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Old 07-01-09, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by BadKarma62 View Post
Sir, you are very far from being contentious. I was not trying to draw them in for the "money" injection to the cycling industry. I was just thinking of a way to give them a chance to consider cycling as a way to assist them with a life style change to save their lives. Some won't even consider it because they are ill informed or misinformed.

Am I making any sense? I get the feeling I'm not getting my point across the right way.
No, you are, it's just that I disagree with your premise. Obesity is, for most folks, a lifestyle choice. If they want to change it, they will. And they will find a way, bikes or no bikes.
 
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Old 07-01-09, 09:00 AM
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I think obesity and the overeating that goes with is a vicious cycle. I know when I was fat, I ate for 1 reason:I was hungry I OVER ate for two reasons: 1) I was bored 2) I was depressed about being fat.

I think a lot of obese people want to change, but don't know how to start to make the changes they need to. That is where some of the things people are suggesting come in.

Historian, you are probably right that there are a lot of people who are not willing to change their lifestyle to lose weight. But I think there are a lot of people out there who desperately want to lose weight, but don't know where to begin.

Just my .02. It is interesting discussion.
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Old 07-01-09, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by </intolerance> View Post
I think obesity and the overeating that goes with is a vicious cycle. I know when I was fat, I ate for 1 reason:I was hungry I OVER ate for two reasons: 1) I was bored 2) I was depressed about being fat.

I think a lot of obese people want to change, but don't know how to start to make the changes they need to. That is where some of the things people are suggesting come in.

Historian, you are probably right that there are a lot of people who are not willing to change their lifestyle to lose weight. But I think there are a lot of people out there who desperately want to lose weight, but don't know where to begin.

Just my .02. It is interesting discussion.
I dispute the suggestion that a lot of fat people don't know where to begin. There's a ton, pardon the pun, of information out there. But denial is strong, as well I knew - and know.
 
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Old 07-01-09, 09:59 AM
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I do agree that it takes a wake-up call or a big slap in the face to get them to start thinking again. What I was putting forward was making the information/help available when they start looking for it.
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Old 07-01-09, 11:44 AM
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Our club has set up specific rides for rookies and we seem to attracked a lot of heavier riders, it's good that I've shown up to a few as they get to see that you don't have to be skinny to ride fastly. All joking aside it has worked out great for us. Saying that we have a small but very vocal cycling community and our two LBS's mention our club and ride to all new roadbike purchasers.
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Old 07-01-09, 11:50 AM
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Thanks for your discussion

Hey all,

Thank you for your interest in this discussion. It is great to see all of the different viewpoints and ideas on the matter.

I apologize to those of you who attempted to comment on the Bike Temple blog unsuccessfully, my best guess is that this was a temporary blogspot error and hopefully a re-attempt will be more successful.

I really hope that some good comes out of this discussion, I would love to see more plus-sized folks on bikes and I believe that there are ways to go about making that happen.

Thanks again,
Deacon Amos
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Old 07-01-09, 11:55 AM
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Hey, Amos! Glad you dropped in! Yeah, we do all we can to encourage more riders, regardless of size. Check out our index thread stuck up at the top, also for a tremendous knowledge base on how to choose, and spec out a bike for larger riders, and in some cases, very much larger riders.
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Old 07-01-09, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
There's a ton, pardon the pun, of information out there..
That can sometimes be part of the problem.

Since we're all human and have egos, everyone likes to think they are special and unique. Not very many people truly are, and that goes double when it comes to metabolism. Everyone says they are big boned or hthey have a "slow metabolism" or a thyroid problem or whatever. Truth is, most heavy folks just eat too much and move too little, and not facing that truth is the denial you mentioned.

BUT...when you take into account that human need to be special, what it means when diet time comes around is that people reach for something that labels them as special. "I'm fat because I eat white foods!" "I'm fat because I don't cleanse!" "I need to follow Gwynneth Paltrow's diet plan!" "I need to take Alli or some fancy diet pill I saw on the teevee!" "OMG carbs are killing us all!" NO.

NO. No. NO. Stop listening to the 982379842 plans that are trying to sell you something and convince you that your metabolism is so freaking special. Unless you have extensive blood work and tests proving that you are medically incapable of losing weight due to a specific and unique condition, you are eating too much food. Period. So let's say a heavier person decides to try to do something, and they look around at all this information that is available.

The glut of information and choices? That can cause another typical human reaction; paralysis. Too many choices can very often lead to an inability to choose, and the world of fitness and weight loss is maybe the most information-dense yet truth-light area of "expertise" in the known galaxy. Add that to a person who is clearly pre-disposed to keeping the status quo and they just shut down, get more depressed over their inability to get started, and eat more...thereby closing the circle.

We need to simplify things. I've often joked that I want to write the definitive diet book. The first chapter will chronicle my weight loss and lifestyle changes, how I got to what will be my final goal, etc. Then chapter two will start like this:

"Now I am going to tell you the secret. Yes, there is a secret to weight loss. It's a secret that the entire diet and weight loss industry knows, but they attempt to hide from you in order to keep you buying their programs, packaged foods and useless pills and potions.

Are you ready for the secret? I'm going to just tell you. Once you read it, I'll never sell another copy of this book to anyone you know, that's how simple this secret is. You can just tell people the magic secret to real, honest, permanent weight loss in four words. But first I'm going to tell you.

Are you ready? Turn the page."
Then the next two hundred pages are blank. On the last page of the book, in huge letters, it will say:

Eat less.
Move more.
My second book will be details on how to eat and exercise. Again, a whole chapter about what I did, just to establish bona fides, the teaser chapter then 200 blank pages, then this:

"If your great grandmother would recognize it as food she could have made in her kitchen, then eat a sensible amount of it. If your great grandfather would recognize it as exercise that he would get while working in a factory, on a farm or serving in the military, then do it. Everything else is just a way for some company to get more money out of your pocket. Also, buy a bicycle and ride it all the time."
Anyway, I rambled a bit but information overload can paralyze people. My actual, non-jokey advice to everyone is almost as simple. In fact I just gave it to a woman at the vet today:

1. Count your calories. All of them. Write it all down for at least two weeks WITHOUT changing anything about how or what you eat.
2. Find out how many calories you need to stay the exact same weight you are now. If you are counting, you are way ahead of the game here. There are calculators online to help you estimate this number. Then figure out how to create a 250 - 500 calorie per day deficit (no more than that to stay in the safe weight loss zone!). Could be as easy as having one serving of ice cream instead of four, or using half the amount of butter you might normally use. I started out by dropping ice cream, then swapping candy & chocolate for nuts & seeds, then using less and less extra fats while cooking, and slowly over two years the way I eat changed, little tiny bits at a time.
3. Exercise no less than 20 minutes but no more than 30 minutes a day, three days a week to start. You will know when it's time to do more because you will want to do more. At that point you will be your own best coach and guide.
4. Rinse and repeat until you've lost your goal of X number of pounds. Then add the 250 - 500 calories back in and enjoy your new life.
- 4a. Buy a bicycle and learn to ride a lot. You will burn so many calories that you can eat mostly whatever you want and not worry about it.
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Old 07-01-09, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by </intolerance> View Post
I think obesity and the overeating that goes with is a vicious cycle. I know when I was fat, I ate for 1 reason:I was hungry I OVER ate for two reasons: 1) I was bored 2) I was depressed about being fat.

I think a lot of obese people want to change, but don't know how to start to make the changes they need to. That is where some of the things people are suggesting come in.

Historian, you are probably right that there are a lot of people who are not willing to change their lifestyle to lose weight. But I think there are a lot of people out there who desperately want to lose weight, but don't know where to begin.

Just my .02. It is interesting discussion.
I think the problem isn't that people don't want to lose weight, nor is it that they don't know how. It's kind like travelling, people want to do it the easy way, like going from New York, to Los Angeles on a plane, you get on the plane, sit on your butt, and largely without doing anything your there. This is why the fad diets and diet pills are so popular, it appears to give you fast results, with little effort.

True permanent weight loss is like making the same trip on a bicycle. Retraining your eating patterns and getting out there and slogging away in an exercise program, losing two pounds or less a week, for months or years, isn't appealing to a lot of people.
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Old 07-01-09, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bautieri View Post
I believe that Kona sells a bike called the Hoss that is just what you are describing, a bike built specifically for clydesdales. I believe it even comes in a couple of trim levels. What I think would be the cats meow is if they would purpose build a road bike for clydes as the Hoss is a mountain bike.

From a manufactures point of view, why bother. It's a niche market at best and just about any bike off the shelf is perfectly capable of handling the weight of a big guy.
I just talked a friend, a newbie to cycling, into buying a Hoss. He is 6'2" 355 lbs. The bike works really well for him. It is awesomely study and nicely equiped.

As for a road bike, buy steel and have some good solid wheels built for it. Ain't all that difficult to get a road bike that will work. It doesn't take all the punishment a mountain bike has to.

Now even with the Hoss I have to explain to my friend to not go off any big jumps. I just fear him tearing that mountain bike apart!
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Old 07-01-09, 05:46 PM
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I put a big post over on the blog but forgot to mention the typical overweight cyclist method of getting started:

1) Fed up (for the 100th time) about being fat and vow to do something about it.
2) After a few more times of being fed up, they figure that cycling would be a good method because it is lower impact and could be enjoyable.
3) They head down to the Walmart, Target, etc. and look over the bikes. Something with shocks, a cool paint job, and 27 gears can be had for $150. Some even check out the local bike stores. They are either ignored by snobby staff or they are actually helped and pointed to a sturdy $500 bike (MTB, cruiser, etc.).
4) The new cyclist decides to save some cash and buys the bike at Target.
5) After a few rides, the chain starts to jump off and the brake that never really worked well gets worse. The bike is tossed in the garage, never to be used again and sold at a yard sale.
6) Back to the couch, rinse and repeat.

At some point, the person may actually encounter a knowledgeable person (Clyde forums or locally) who will steer then toward working equipment. At this point it boils down to desire, support, and enjoyment.

As for attracting new Clydes and Athenas to group rides, I think that is a tough hill to climb. Most are self-counsious and are not sure if they can keep up. Even on a no-drop ride, they may worry that they are holding back the group. I think a no-drop / no-lycra required ride would get a _few_ more people involved. For me personally, I enjoy riding alone (haven't gotten to the point where I'd be comfortable showing up for a small weekly group ride) but will participate in larger events (40mi fun rides, etc.). This way I can hang with people going my pace and no one is obligated to stick with me if I slow down. Perhaps some sort of Clyde/Athena gathering pre ride would be a good way of forging some riding friendships? Maybe a local Clyde/Athena club?
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Old 07-01-09, 06:55 PM
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stark23x
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Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
Maybe a local Clyde/Athena club?
I'm a total newb to riding, but I would LOVE to either join or help form one of these in my area. I don't have the foggiest idea how to go about it though.

I'd love to see a no-drop, all Clyde/Athena group. i think it would get so many people on the right track and show them how cycling can help them. Plus if we attracted any handy mechanically inclined folks, we could help people keep their *mart bikes running while they figure out what kind of bike will serve them better.
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