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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 04-24-11, 01:06 PM   #1
flippin_bikes
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My first 30 mile ride today has me wondering...

Let this serve as my introduction to this sub-forum. I've been lurking for a bit reading some threads here and there. What I find most interesting is reading about peoples' experiences and varying fitness levels. It is great to see that many people have a similar interest in making a positive difference in their lives.

I've been above the 200 lb. mark for quite some time. I first crested it in high school during my junior year. I managed to drop about 30 lbs down to 185 thanks to an after-school program consisting of lifting weights, running, and various drills that one of the assistant coaches has us doing. Since then, I was a slow and steady climb to where I had been the past 3 or so years (college, stress, work, more stress). I did rediscover cycling early in college and that allowed me to hold pretty steady or at least slow the upward trend despite my overeating. I do have a job that allows me enough time to get some exercise in during the evening ours, so taking advantage of that in the recent weeks has allowed me to drop a few pounds.

At my highest, I was 265 lbs (6' 1-1/2"). I am now down to 253, but I was right around 263 when I started exercising more a couple of months ago. I have also cut a large amount of junk and fast food from my diet, opting to cook at home more and bring my lunch to work. I can't be happier with the results so far having seen slow, but steady weight loss which is the way it should be done.

This morning, I decided to take a longer ride than I have ever before. Even at 265, I felt like I had a decent amount of strength and stamina on the bike and had no problem with doing a 15-20 mile ride on my road bike. I recently purchased a single speed townie type bike and have quickly built up to riding 15 miles on it. So, today when I headed out for my 30 miler, I figured no problem. I was a bit shocked of how tired I got. The 20-30 mph wind gusts weren't helping, but 15-20 is the norm around my parts. The first 12 miles were cake since the wind was at my back most of the way, but as soon as I turn and had a cross wind and eventually a full on head wind, Hell's Sufferfest was on.

What started out as a nice 17-18 mph clip turned into sub 10 numbers on my way back for an overall average of around 13 which was a bit disappointing. I'd like to be able to maintain 12-13 running into the wind. My question is whether the extra weight I am carrying is making a bigger impact on my speed than my current level of strength/stamina. I figure it is mostly the extra weight, but I also know of people who are big that can throw down pretty hard on a bike.
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Old 04-24-11, 01:55 PM   #2
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There are 2 things that you need to understand.

1) wind drag is a squared function of frontal cross sectional area.
2) Gravity is your friend and enemy, but mostly your enemy, great for going downhill, but not so good going up.

A larger biker will have more variation in speed because of wind and slope.
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Old 04-24-11, 02:44 PM   #3
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Short answer: yeah.

Long answer:
It's not the speed that's getting you. It's the accelerations. It takes more energy to accelerate a larger mass than smaller. Now look at the pedaling motion: it's a series of tightly timed accelerations. First the right leg then the left then... You get the idea. So steady riding on flat ground or sprinting on flat ground doesn't matter: you have to spend more energy to maintain the same speed as lighter riders. Granted, it doesn't require more energy than climbing hills, but...

Then, the hills... Do I really need to go into hills?
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Old 04-24-11, 02:49 PM   #4
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It helps to plan your rides so that you have a tail wind returning home.
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Old 04-24-11, 03:27 PM   #5
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What everyone else above said. I'll ad that you just have to keep at it and slowly progress up to longer and harder rides. Since your current comfort level seems to be 15 miles, try extending the daily mileage by 1-2 miles each successive week (or even 1-2 more miles every two weeks), and maybe try doing just 30% to 50% more on a weekend ride (20-25 miles). Also try to slow down just a bit on longer rides (just a bit to keep something 'in-the-tank' for the final miles, or even hammer it home if you're feeling good at the end). Eventually you should be able to go beyond the 30 mile mark.
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Old 04-24-11, 06:36 PM   #6
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It helps to plan your rides so that you have a tail wind returning home.
That is a good point and I generally try to do this when possible, but is isn't always possible. The wind really picked up on me after I left the house and headed north, so I wasn't ready for the sucker punch from the wind when I turned east and then south again (wind was more or less out of the SE). The wind generally blows this direction going from late spring, through the summer, coming off the Gulf of Mexico as you probably are aware down in Galveston.

My last 5-6 miles wasn't so bad given that I was headed west and had a glancing tail wind pushing me along a bit. It was just that middle part of the ride that really took it out of me. I have felt exhausted all the rest of today. Looking forward to hitting the sack early tonight.
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Old 04-24-11, 06:42 PM   #7
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What everyone else above said. I'll ad that you just have to keep at it and slowly progress up to longer and harder rides. Since your current comfort level seems to be 15 miles, try extending the daily mileage by 1-2 miles each successive week (or even 1-2 more miles every two weeks), and maybe try doing just 30% to 50% more on a weekend ride (20-25 miles). Also try to slow down just a bit on longer rides (just a bit to keep something 'in-the-tank' for the final miles, or even hammer it home if you're feeling good at the end). Eventually you should be able to go beyond the 30 mile mark.
My comfort level had been up to 20 miles on my road bike (12-15 on the single speed). I thought doing 30 miles wouldn't be as hard as it was since that is only 50% more than what I usually ride during the week. I really think that it was the wind and some bigger hills than I normally encounter on my shorter rides that had me going so slow. I also should elaborate that I never felt like I wasn't going to make it, though I did stop around 16 miles for a break and to eat a granola bar. I think if the winds will get back down to reasonable levels, I might have some different results. I just know that I could do better if I were either in better shape, lighter, and definitely both. Just was wondering which benefits me the most, losing weight or gaining strength.
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Old 04-24-11, 08:22 PM   #8
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single speed and 265 don't mix! that is what is killing you. you are shooting your wad trying to mash those gears all the time. your okay when the wind isn't blowing but it takes a lot more oomph whenyour going into the wind. and your weight is definately a big part of it. shed 20-30 lbs and you will be a helluva lot faster.
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Old 04-24-11, 08:57 PM   #9
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single speed and 265 don't mix! that is what is killing you. you are shooting your wad trying to mash those gears all the time. your okay when the wind isn't blowing but it takes a lot more oomph whenyour going into the wind. and your weight is definately a big part of it. shed 20-30 lbs and you will be a helluva lot faster.
I usually only ride the single speed during the week when I only have an hour or hour and a half to ride after I get off work and before I cook dinner. So, that is pretty ideal for me to go out and get a nice workout on the bike. My plan was to alternate between the road bike and singlespeed during the week and take a longer road ride on the weekend (or hit some of the local trails on my mtb which is a whole other type of workout).

I do look forward to seeing how 20-30 lbs would help me on the bike. That is about how much I need to loose to come down out of the obese category based on my BMI. The long term goal is to get back down to 200. I wish my company would hurry up and build the new work-out facility so I don't have to keep paying to work out and have a place to shower/freshen up which will allow me to commute by bike.
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