Bike Forums

Bike Forums (
-   Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) (
-   -   Need help in motivating a potential clydesdale (

GMJ 09-01-11 12:16 AM

Need help in motivating a potential clydesdale
Hey everyone. First post :)

So I just recently bought a road bike and have fallen in love with cycling. I want my dad to get into it with me too. He's 400+ lbs. and at the moment, isn't doing anything for exercise. I am constantly telling him about the rides I go on and how I wish I had a riding partner. Him and I don't really do many things together which kills me since we were so close when I was younger. I want this to be "our thing". I keep trying to get him into this, but he isn't budging. His big deterrent is that he doesn't have enough money for a bike.

It's kind of a BS reason in my opinion, because he makes plenty of money and could easily drop the cash to make an investment for his health. I've been thinking since he won't take the initiative, I might have to. I was considering possibly buying him one, or even building one for him.

I have a few questions. Are there any bikes designed for someone his size? If I decided to build one, I know I'll have to look into a strong frame and some burly rims/tires. Any tips? Also, I'd love to hear anybody's opinion on how I can motivate him.

Thanks everybody!

wxduff 09-01-11 02:04 AM

There's a lot of posts on here about wheel selection and such for clydes. I would suggest a quick search for plenty of information on that.

As for motivation, its a tough thing. Some people get big out of pure lack of motivation (note the word some). Its tough to instill motivation in someone who's brain just doesn't have any.

Does your dad even want to loose weight or get in shape? If yes then you have something to work with. An idea is to see if a bike shop near you rents bikes, and tell your dad to go on a ride and give it a try. Its only once, and if he really doesn't like it then he never has to try again. Find a flat area, no matter what go at his pace, and encourage him (but don't sound like a jerk while doing so).

I find introducing cycling to unfit people is a delicate process:

They have to see or know about you enjoying it. A less intense version of peer pressure.
They have to have a desire or at least interest in getting fit.
When they decide to make the plunge, they need to pick out the bike THEMSELVES, and get a bike set up to meet their needs. I find a triple crank and a decent range of gearing is a must for most. The bike should be fitted by a professional at a quality shop, or if you are highly confident in your abilities to do a fit, it may be a better option. The person may feel less embarrassed having you watching them ride up close, measuring there body etc. Ask them what they want.
The first rides should be short, as easy as possible, include breaks, and HAVE A DESTINATION UNRELATED TO BIKING. Examples include an eatery, a store, or maybe an event downtown. All first rides will be remembered in a positive way if they include something at the end as a reward.

My personal examples:

Subject A: My girlfriend (never been into sports her entire life, completely lacks fitness, and has slowly put on weight over our relationship due to a love of Italian cooking and with the introduction of alcohol into her diet in college.

Once I started cycling and lost weight, started watching the TDF and in general talking a lot about my new hobby, she wanted in. I think she figured this sport would be easier to relate to then hockey, football, or wrestling (collegiate and Olympic, not the fake stuff), and did not include contact (even sports with balls upset her, she fears taking a soccer or basketball to the face).
She was upset with her weight gain. I still thought she was beautiful, but not being able to fit into certain clothes, or trying on new ones and seeing the sizes that she needed really hit her hard.
When she told me we started looking for bikes. Since she didn't know where to look, I explained the different styles of bike and sent her examples of all of them. At first I encouraged hybrids and flat barred road bikes, but she wanted to look like me and have a bike that could "ride as fast as mine". After looking at a few we went to a couple bike shops, road a few bikes around stores. She fell in love with a Jamis Satellite Sport Femme. The steel frame rode nice than the aluminum ones she had previously been on, the components were also nicer (Sora instead of 2300), and she loved the color (some sort of cucumber or sea foam).
The Jamis shop around here isn't known for their fitting prowess, so I had to make a lot of adjustments. But after those she was comfortable on the bike, despite the drop bars.
Our first rides were on bike paths, as she was afraid of traffic. At first I was going to fast for her and waiting, and I saw she was upset by this, so I kept off the big ring and made sure to go the same speed as her. I used it as an exercise in high cadence and spinning. At the end of the ride (she was amazed to find we did almost 10 miles because she was enjoying the scenery and was going at her pace) we went back, cleaned up, and went to dinner (the reward). This summer she spent her summer in NYC and rode the greenway on her own a few times.

Subject B: My brother, who while barely overweight, had no endurance, and was starting to develop the gut that seems to run in the family, at least of late.

My brother and I both got into cycling around the same time. I can't even remember who got the idea first. We were both in college at the time, but I went away for school he stayed home.
We both got our bikes, and I started telling him about my rides, and he started to do the same.
He chose his bike, and got fitted by the shop. He got a Trek 1.2 and likes it a lot.
He prefers flat rides. When I've ridden hilly rides he always gets tired easily, and since he insists on gear mashing climbing pains his knees (although he is working on his cadence).
One of our more enjoyable rides was a tough effort with a steady grade uphill out, but ended at a beach. After swimming and enjoying the day we changed back into cycling clothes and road the gradual decent all the way home, where the rents were just finishing up cooking BBQ for dinner.

The key is to give the embers enough fuel to light the fire, without blowing the embers out. Also, there has to be embers in the first place, or you're just blowing on timber like a fool.

chefisaac 09-01-11 03:50 AM

+1 on italian food
+1 on rim strength

Great reply wx!

Remember that the ONLY thing you can do is give the tools and encouragement to your dad. If he doesnt want it, he doesnt want it... period. He has to have the want for it. And if not, thats ok. Its his life (not trying to be rude).

Now, you can give me tools..... if my son built me a bike, I would do it because of the nice gesture. Give him the bike and sit down with him and have an emotional talk about how much he means to you and how you want him around for a long time and that you are worried about it. Might work.... might not. Again..... giving him tools.

If he does ride, make it short, bring water, make sure he is comftrable (even though he wont be because of riding the first time), avoid hills, dont go fast etc.

I caution you.... dont push him or he will get further away of the idea.

contango 09-01-11 03:55 AM

On the subject of encouragement, it can be very frustrating to go at the speed of a much slower rider for any length of time but at the same time it's very discouraging for the slower rider to have a faster rider take off and then wait for them.

I've been the much faster rider and the much slower rider. Sometimes I find the best way for me to take a hill (especially if it's quite short) is to just charge at it but a rider who struggles with the hill will very possibly just be left feeling inadequate if they pant and puff their way up the hill and you sprint it. It can be an interesting exercise for you to see how slowly you can take a hill while still keeping the bike under control. It will probably feel desperately unnatural at first but if you're dealing with a novice cyclist (who probably doesn't yet know how the gears work and may not even have fully figured exactly what action to take to "shift down") it can't hurt if you ride alongside or behind them and give them specific pointers on how to make it easier.

Street Pedaler 09-01-11 03:57 AM

Motivation can be a frustrating and elusive thing. If your dad hasn't been physically active for quite some time, maybe the thought of cycling is one that seems a bit out of his reach. Maybe approach him from a different angle such as just getting him out of the house and walking with you two or three days a week. Just get him used to doing something that is physical again. After some time doing that together, maybe cycling won't seem like such a leap for him.

I think that it's a noble thing that you're trying to do. We have to take care of those who have taken care of us. But the frustrating fact of the matter is that his motivation will have to come from within. If he does something that he really doesn't want to do, he'll never stick with it, anyway.

chefisaac 09-01-11 03:59 AM

contago: Going slower is harder for me it seems. I always find myself going to a faster gear. I need to learn to spin more. One of the clubs here asked me to start leading D rides (12 mph). I just need to remember 12 means 12!

McCallum 09-01-11 07:04 PM


Like a drunk; until I wanted to change there was nothing that anyone else could do to make me change. I was 290 up from a low of 220; I knew I was killing myself; I had doctors and friend who told me that. I had to make the choose to do something about it! So I started walking 1-2 miles a day and lost the majority of the weight (as of 090111 I am 182.8).

I say that to say; you can help your Dad see the need for change; you can buy/build him a bike; you can do an intervention but until HE WANTS to do something for himself you can only encourage him to change and leave it at that. I am not saying stop trying; in fact street pedaler makes a good point. See if you can get your dad to walk even if it is only around the block at first then get him to add more from there. Do you have kids; get them to get grandpa to walk with them (some times you tell your kids to bleep off but not your grandkids). Though one of my motivators was my son; I was having a hard time playing ball and the like with him but he was 9 at the time now 11; so he was a bit more of a motivation (that why I said the grandkids). I know that for at lest one of my brother-in-laws his GKs were a motivator to get back to health.

Hope your Dad sees his need to do something about his weight for the long haul!

jethro56 09-01-11 08:45 PM

I started getting in shape 2 years ago. I was 425 now 218. Since then My Dad,Mom, 1 niece and 3 nephews have joined in the Journey. What did I do to motivate them...Nothing. I would imagine watching me change my life might have something to do with it. When he see's that this isn't just a phase you're going thru and the positive effects it has on your life he may try something. It may not be biking. I started out just walking.

StephenH 09-01-11 09:13 PM

Basically, there's not any good way to get someone else to lose weight if they don't want to. IT doesn't matter if it's dieting or exercise or what. Even if they WANT to do it, it's a pretty good challenge, but without that desire in the first place, it just won't happen.

Similarly, if someone is not interested in riding, I don't know of any good way to make them interested- that's why so many of us ride while our spouses don't. It'd be great fun to get out and do things together, but if they don't want to, that's pretty much the end of it.

Triode 09-01-11 09:24 PM

see if you can get him to start reading the Clydes/Athena forum.

Show him that a lot of people his size are doing it successfully.

Can't hurt.

homer1959 09-01-11 10:13 PM

ask him to do like me, ask him to take a picture of himself sideway just wearing his underware. Post that where he can see it, on the fridge per example ;-)) That worked for me, I hated so much what I was seeing in the picture that I decided to workout, I started in June, I havent lost lots of weight , but my energy and my motivation vastly improved, when i attempt to lie to myself about how good that would be to take a day off, I take a look at my picture............15 mn later you see me sweating like a bas....rd on my bike ;-)) good luck !!

freighttraininguphill 09-02-11 03:42 PM

I have a Clyde friend who started the weight loss process last year at 468 pounds. His wake-up call was knowing that he would reach 500 pounds by this year if he didn't do something about it.

He found a used Claud Butler hybrid on Craigslist. We rode a few times last summer and he did very well. He was able to maintain over 10 mph for quite a while. That bike developed problems unrelated to his weight and he was loaned a Cannondale H300 hybrid, which was an even better bike. He was even able to climb the overpass down the street without breathing hard (that I could notice, anyway). I think he got down to 415 pounds by fall.

He ended up with cellulitis in one leg last October (unrelated to cycling). When that leg healed he got it in the other leg. This happened for a third and final time early this year. When he started cycling again it was if he had never stopped. He was still able to maintain over 10 mph (it helps that the area is very flat).

Well, he ended up having to give the H300 back, so he was looking for a bike. I went to REI to buy batteries for my ContourHD helmet camera, and I looked at all the hybrids to see if I could find a suitable bike for him.

I spotted a Marin Kentfield for $429. It had a steel frame, road 700 X 35c tires, and no power-robbing suspension, which is totally unnecessary for road riding. The wheels are 32 or 36 spoke (don't know which). I told him about it and he bought it. Now he does even better. He loves that bike, and so far it has held up fine.

goldfinch 09-02-11 05:17 PM

He may not want to bike. What is your goal? It seems like you want to do things with dad and want him to be healthy. What does he enjoy? My younger sister is a birder. She got me outside looking at birds with her on a vacation. I got hooked on the birds--it appealed the the part of me that loves to categorize. I know plants. I know stars. Now I know birds. Birding meant that I wasn't sitting. I was standing. I was strolling. I was moving and didn't even think about it being exercise. But it was the start.

Weight loss was the next part. For years this same younger sister was fatter than I. Then she had gallbladder trouble and lost a lot of weight. She suddenly could out walk me and looked a lot better than me. She not only was a good example of how life could get better, she got my competitive juices going. I can't be the fattest in the family! A few months ago another younger sister saw how much weight the two of us had lost. She now has lost weight too and upped her exercise. Surrounding yourself with people with good habits inspires good habits. Do that for yourself. And then just be a good example for dad.

So, think about your dad and what he likes or used to like and see if that can be used to help him get moving. I am not much for interventions. I am more for inspiration.

In the meantime, when you see you dad ask him to go out for a walk with you around the block. And then just talk about anything you both enjoy. And keep doing more of the same. Maybe someday he will want to ride a bike. Or not. Maybe the two of you will find something else active that you enjoy doing together.

motobecane69 09-02-11 06:14 PM

the reality is that you don't really care if your dad loses weight. You care about your dad WAKING UP THE NEXT DAY! That is truly the most important thing and that is where the bike really shines. when you're really out of shape, walking can feel really hard, nevermind jogging or running. but a decent bike with some super low gearing will let just about anyone of any shape and size get out and move. the feeling of the air on your face, the ability to cover a lot more ground than you can on foot is very appealing to me and many others. cycling is the easiest way to truly start out slow with exercise. And even without any diet modification, you begin to work your muscles and your heart so you begin to get healthier, even if you don't lose the lbs that you may want to lose.

good luck with getting him motivated and this site is the right place to get info.

Mithrandir 09-02-11 06:45 PM

I have "accidentally" inspired 3 clydes to get bicycles. I am unsure of how the situations will work out.

First one: Neighbor in the apartment complex. He saw me riding my bike every day, and told me it inspired him to buy a bike because "if you can do it, then so can I!". He weighs more than I do now, but I weighed more than him when I started, judging on looks alone. Unfortunately, I have never actually seen him ride the bike. It's a cheapie walmart deal but hey, I don't discriminate. A bike is a bike is a bike. But it sits outside in the rain, unmoving, for 3 months now. Kind of makes me sad that I inspired him to buy it and he never uses it.

Second two: My cousin and her boyfriend. Both Clyde-sized. Same situation with them really; I was bigger than them when I started, but smaller than both of them now, judging on looks alone. After 3 months of posting on facebook my daily rides, they told me they were inspired and went out and bought bikes. They seemed really excited at first and went on a few rides 2 weeks ago, 4-6 miles worth. I think they were expecting to be able to get further though, because I routinely post 40-60 mile rides on facebook, and they seemed shocked that they can't even hit 10 miles without feeling like they are going to die. I tried to tell them not to expect to be able to do what I can do, I've been doing 6 hours of cardio per week on average for 14 months now (10-15 hours per week if you only count the last 3 months), they have never done any steady cardio in their lives. Still, I think they are disappointed that the pounds didn't start coming off immediately. My cousin has hurt her foot in an unrelated accident so she's nursing that now, so they're temporarily off the bikes for now. I'm going to try to inspire them to hop back on when she's healed, but I am not so sure they are still into it as much as they were.

So I guess the best I can say is that it really depends on the person. I know if someone tried to continuously get me into cycling I probably would not have been very open to it; I had to find it on my own. But that's me, I have a sort of a loner mentality about life and love finding things on my own. Other people may be different.

One other thing I should relay is that when I was 400-460 pounds, I wanted to bike, but I kept making excuses saying that I'd break the bike, I'd kill myself, people would laugh at me. It was only when I was around 390 when I finally said "screw it", decided I didn't care what other people thought, and picked up the handlebars again. So maybe getting him a good bike and going with him will be enough encouragement for him to get over those "hurdles", if he is indeed going through the same thought process that I did.

Neil_B 09-03-11 06:53 AM


Originally Posted by StephenH (Post 13167303)
Basically, there's not any good way to get someone else to lose weight if they don't want to. IT doesn't matter if it's dieting or exercise or what. Even if they WANT to do it, it's a pretty good challenge, but without that desire in the first place, it just won't happen.

Similarly, if someone is not interested in riding, I don't know of any good way to make them interested- that's why so many of us ride while our spouses don't. It'd be great fun to get out and do things together, but if they don't want to, that's pretty much the end of it.

Ditto this.

rumrunn6 09-03-11 06:55 AM

motivation is a personal thing. you can't give it to someone.

myrridin 09-03-11 10:04 AM


Originally Posted by jethro56 (Post 13167211)
I started getting in shape 2 years ago. I was 425 now 218. Since then My Dad,Mom, 1 niece and 3 nephews have joined in the Journey. What did I do to motivate them...Nothing. I would imagine watching me change my life might have something to do with it. When he see's that this isn't just a phase you're going thru and the positive effects it has on your life he may try something. It may not be biking. I started out just walking.


You can't make someone want to change their habits and expect it to stick. For change to stick it has to be because the person wants to change... Indeed for many people, being nagged (not saying that is what you are doing, but it could be how he sees it) is motivation to not change... My suggestion is stick to your change, feel free to talk about how fun it is and how much better you feel, but don't preach and don't try to to make your father change. If he wants to, he will on his own. Any pressure on your part is just going to place added stress on your relationship

GMJ 09-03-11 10:47 PM

Thank you all very much for the replies, advice, and encouragement.

After a few days of pestering, I got him to go to the park tomorrow with his wife and I. I've been riding there for the past few weeks, trying to increase my endurance and pacing. They decided to walk around the lake while I cycle laps. I feel like this is a good enough start because he is at least getting outside and trying to be active. The hard part for me now is to make this a routine, and eventually get him on wheels. I'm optimistic, and hopefully with time, him and I will be able to do fundraising rides.

Thank you all again!

contango 09-04-11 06:42 AM


Originally Posted by GMJ (Post 13175588)
... eventually get him on wheels. I'm optimistic, and hopefully with time, him and I will be able to do fundraising rides.

Just don't get yourself so caught up on how you'd like everything to turn out that you lose sight of how he might like everything to turn out.

It may be he'll start cycling and find he loves it, it may be he'll start leaving you in his dust and pushing you to do more and more. It may be he'll enjoy cycling but never want to push very hard, it may be he'll try cycling and hate it.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:18 AM.