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mrodgers 08-03-13 08:50 AM

Just started
Howdy folks. Since you have a forum subsection just for me, I decided to join. I'll give you my intro here and let this be a place for me to post some progress hopefully.

My intro first is, bought a cheap Walmart bike back in 2005 when I bought my daughter her first bike so I could take her up on the rails-to-trails around here. It's a junk Mongoose mountain bike with full suspension. Hate the rear suspension. I'm sure most of you know how it sucks power out of your peddling when it compresses.

Anyways, I still have that bike. It's in terrible shape. I can't get the front derailleur to go on the largest ring, but that's not much of a concern with me for now since I'll be riding pretty much uphill constantly on the road behind my house rather than flat bike trail. It is terribly embarrassing emitting an extremely high pitch squeal every time I touched the brakes. I sounded like the biggest herd of geese you'd ever come across any time I had to brake, LOL. Searching the net I was able to fix that last night with shimming the trailing edge of the pads before tightening. They are quiet as can be. My now 5' 4" 12 year old daughter who was riding the 8" bike with training wheels when I bought this bike is happy about the sound now that she rides my 26" bike around the yard with her sister.

So, yeah, crappy bike and I'm sharing it with my daughter because it seems that everyone on the internet is richer than I am. I don't have the cash for a decent bike or the cash to get my daughter her own decent bike since she long ago outgrew her 16" Wallyworld BMX style girl bike. My 9 yr old is now riding that one.

I rode the bike by myself once way back in 2005 when I first got it. Since then, it's been family riding with the girls on the bike trail, at usually about 5 mph with me and the oldest riding ahead and the youngest on training wheels riding while Mom walked. We actually haven't been on the bike trail in quite a few years since we don't have enough bikes.

So enough about my crappy bike, now about me and why I'm in this section. Over the years it seemed that I would gain 3 pounds every Christmas. I have 2 weeks off of work over Christmas and with my job, I have to stand on a scale and hang a material bag about every hour. So I saw my weight every hour. It stayed consistent every hour all year until coming back to work over Christmas. This past year just for a joke to a long time friend who does our scale calibrations, I called him telling him that the scale was messed up. He trudges up with his cart of weights and goes through the verification and deems it fine. I tell him, no it's not as I step on the scale. Look, 247 and before Christmas it was reading 245! He got a good laugh out of me dragging him up there for that.

So there it is, I was 247. Some of that was actually throughout last year because after Christmas 2011, I was 235. I've been begging Wifey to stop buying junk food for the kids because I have no will power while she is at work in the evenings and I eat it. I don't know what clicked in her because she quit buying the junk food and started riding her exercise bike in the basement. She was riding it for a while and started seeing 1 pound per day loss. I can't go down in the damp basement and ride a stupid exercise bike so I was trying to come up with something to do. I live out in the middle of nowhere and she is at work every evening. If I took the bike to the bike trail, the kids would want to come and that wouldn't be the exercise I want. That and I only have 2 bikes and no way of hauling more than that with my bike carrier on my car (no money, remember, so it's a hand-me-down carrier.)

Now a coworker went out and bought a $500 bike 3 years ago and always talked about wanting to start riding it. I also talked about wanting to ride my bike. It was always just talk though. Well, this year, he started riding his on the bike trail by his house. He didn't really need to lose weight like I certainly do, but he started losing weight. He was jumping on my scale at work every morning and he said when he reaches 170 lb, he's done. He hates it. He forces himself to ride every day. I think he is losing a pound every day.

That takes me to where I currently am. We have a wellness check at work every year in November, my triglycerides are through the roof. I'll just put them up here for info, not ashamed to do that, the were 450 two years ago. At that time I stopped drinking my two 12 oz cans of Pepsi every day. I still need my caffeine in the morning and don't drink coffee, so I started brewing and drinking ice tea in the mornings. I drink water the rest of the day and all day (lots of water, it is 115 in the plant at 99% humidity in the summers.) Last November my triglycerides were down a bit at 375. That's when I was looking at the cereal boxes and saw that even the "good" cereals had the same amount of sugar as the "bad" cereals. I told my wife just to buy me Cheerios. I eat a bowl of cereal every day for breakfast before getting ready for work and now I've been eating Cheerios every morning since November. Also, like I said, Wifey quit buying the junk food so I'm not eating that much any more. For regular meals, we eat almost all organic, nothing processed, and even have our own grass fed, rotationally grazed, home raised beef (father-in-law) and chicken.

So about the beginning of summer, I decided to at least start doing some pushups or something. I knew from history, every time I would break out the weight set, I would lift weights for a few weeks and quickly taper off. I figured I would force myself to do pushups. I have an app on my phone for the 100 pushup challenge (google for that if you don't know what it is, get you to be able to do 100 pushups straight in 6 weeks.) So I forced myself to do pushups doing about 10 per set for 5 sets. That's all I can do. In fact, I had this app for a long time and started them before, but like weight lifting, I found something better to do or something else that needed done around the house to skip here and there and eventually gave up on them. Well, I started the app where I left off, but couldn't do that many, so forced myself for a few weeks until finally I saw some results. After a few weeks of doing pushups, I could feel and even see a difference in my arms and chest. Lets just say there's something underneath the man boobs now, LOL. I can now slightly flex and get them to move like the wrestlers on TV do, LOL. My posture is better as I can feel that I've strengthened up the core. I lost a bit of weight even with the better eating and doing the pushups and I'm now 235 as opposed to post Christmas 247. I've been stuck at 235 though for quite a while while my wife continues to lose a pound a day.

So here I am. We were talking about the bikes at work again and I decided to just jump on mine and ride down the road. Wednesday I headed out in the evening. I'm in north western PA, so it is nothing but hills around me. I was stuck with the middle gear on the front. Behind my house is the only place I can go aside from ending up on the bike trails with the kids. Any other area to get to on the bike I would have to ride out with 70 mph traffic. So off behind my house I go. Immediately I am coasting down hill on my gravel road at almost 30 mph, way faster than I could possibly peddle this bike. Then at the bottom it is immediately up hill to where it hits the real road behind the house. Well, that is also up hill, up hill forever. So I'm down in the lowest gear I can go and I start peddling. I got 3/4 of the way up and I couldn't do it any more. I nearly fell over when I stopped and got off the bike. Legs were like rubber, worse than rubber. I got off and literally had to lean on the bike to stay up. I walked the rest of the way thinking it was flat at the top. Nope, it's downhill again and immediately up hill. There isn't a single flat spot on any road around me. So down I coast at near 30 mph to the bottom and start peddling and reducing gears for the next hill. I peddled up that one, coasted the next, and peddle up again. At this point, I'm not very far from the house but I'm exhausted.

I saw the next downhill and it went on forever. If I go down this one, I'll have to peddle back up on the way back so thought this was a good place to turn around. Its only in the 60's, low humidity, and yet I look like I just stepped out of the swimming pool with my clothes on. I'm drenched. So I head back and do all right until I have to get back up the last gravel road. This is probably the longest and steepest part. Took me forever but I huffed and puffed up the hill without stopping all the way finally to my road and home. Boy, it was much easier coasting 30 mph down it at the beginning, LOL.

So that was Wednesday, my first real ride. I pulled my phone out to check the app I have for gps mapping. I rode 3.66 miles and took me 34:29 minutes. I think walking up the one hill was only 2.5 minutes of non-riding. Top speed coasting was 27.49 mph and my average moving speed was 6.87 mph. The largest grade I went up was 16%. That was probably the one I walked the last 1/4 of.

So when I got back and after a shower, I figured I'd work on the bike. The front brakes you could hear the squeal for miles, the back brakes do nothing. I tried to adjust them and I can't get the squeal out. I worked on the rear derailleur and got it working nice. Front derailleur I got to move to the smallest chainring but can't get it on the biggest. I think I just need to replace the cable, it's been on there since 2005 and when I try to tighten it, it still slips because of the kink going around the bolt that's been there for 8 years.

Thursday, I just wanted to go for a short ride just to check out some of the adjustments. Before that, I took the pads off the brakes and readjusted them shimming the trailing edge like I read on the net. Squeal is gone! They are quiet as can be. I also got it to go on the largest chainring though it takes many revolutions of the peddles and a lot of force on the twist shifter to get it there. I won't be using that ring anyways riding behind my house.

So my short ride was down the gravel road, turn around and back up the hill. Much easier on the smallest chainring. I was in the lowest gear I could go and pulled my phone out of my pocket to check. 2 mph! I'm flying! LOL Well, I'm not concerned with speed. My coworker is riding flat bike trails and he is always giving me his speed progress. I'm doing practically nothing but uphill since I can't peddle fast enough with the coasting downhill speed, so 2 mph is just fine for me. I'm working my tail off climbing these hills at 2 mph and that is what I'm concerned about, working, not how fast I can go.

Well, there's my story. I didn't ride last night, did my pushups instead of which I increased what I was doing. So I'll give my starting weight at 235 when I started riding the bike. I was going to pack up and go out to the bike trail this morning before everyone got up, but figured I didn't want to kill myself first thing. We are heading out to the lake for the annual regatta and I don't want to be exhausted all day. I'll ride my back roads tonight when we get home.

My goal is from 235 and get to 200 and I'll be happy. We'll see what happens after that. Unlike my coworker who hates it and forces himself to ride, I actually like it. I've always wanted to start riding but never did. Now I just wish I had a much better bike than the Wallyworld job.

LabRat2k3 08-03-13 01:32 PM

Welcome aboard, I'm pretty new too and also have a box store bike, that ride in hilly WV so I know where you are coming from. The big thing is you have made up your mind to do something and that is where it all starts. Diet is the key to weight loss, just can't out ride a bad diet. Keep after it and don't give up.

kevistopheles 08-03-13 02:06 PM


Good for you! Hills are great training. I live in Western Washington State and I live at the top of a bluff and work is at the top of the tallest point in town so I commute. Downhill to start and finish with a long uphill...take it from me it gets easier and one day you just realize you're not on the smallest cog anymore. WalMart bike, rusty old Schwinn that you found in the basement, carbon fiber wonder bike...they're all just bikes. Mine was a rescue form someone's field.

I have only one bit of advice I can share...switch to the low gear on the downhill so you're ready when you start climbing. That was the hardest thing for me to get through my head.

2 wheeler 08-03-13 02:29 PM

Wow, I hope that you can somehow ride in an place that has some flat areas. I would get discouraged having to climb monster hills all of the time.

Good luck with your quest; keep us updated!

goldfinch 08-03-13 02:37 PM


If you fall in love with biking and want to look for another bike I suggest buying a used bike. By working on the Walmart bike you will learn what to look for in a used bike. Used mountain bikes from the 90s with no suspension at all make great, inexpensive bikes. I found my spouse a 1990s Raleigh mountain bike for $60. I had to replace brake pads and put on new brake cables, replace the chain and freewheel, and tune it up. Since he rides mostly pavement I put "slick" tires on it. Now it is a great all purpose bike.

If you decide to replace the shifter cable on the Walmart bike those grip shifter can be really tough to figure out how to change the cable. It seems like everyone I look at are made a bit differently. If you have to replace the entire shifter mechanism the new grip shifters come with a cable and can be had for pretty cheap. Amazon has them for about ten bucks. It almost pays to replace the whole thing rather than just the cable.

Enjoy riding your bike!

mrodgers 08-03-13 05:25 PM

Cool, thanks for the great encouragement! Jumping on here since I just got back a little bit ago from the same first ride. Rode the same 3.66 miles (both ways that is.) So much easier down on the first ring on the front. I was really huffing and putting some force the first ride on the hills. I ran low gear in the front and kept it mostly on 3 in the back and charged right up the hills, though still slowly. This time, I didn't walk the one hill. I did have to stop and catch my breath, it's a really long hill that goes steeper at the very top where I stopped, but I just caught my breath for a moment and went back to peddling to the top.

Tomorrow Wifey and the oldest are heading out for some school shopping. Can't believe it's only about 3 more weeks! Where did summer go? Not sure what I am going to do in the winter, but I'll try to ride as much as I can. So, since it's just me and the younger, I think I am going to take her down on the bike trail. So, yes, I do have flat places to ride, I'm only 6 miles from the Allegheny River where the bike trail runs from Emlenton, PA to Franklin, PA, about 37 miles I think. Along that trail it meets another trail that heads along another creek. It is absolutely fantastic to ride, just I want to do this for exercise and I'd be going too slow with the kids. At least it is still moving some and the youngest hasn't been on the bike trail sans training wheels yet, nor on the bigger 16" wheeled bike either.

One thing I noticed today, I have bad knees and my wife actually has to massage them for me just about every night. Right above and below the kneecap she digs her fingers in to relieve the soreness for me. The first 2 rides really hurt my left knee, which is the worst of the 2. I rode the same ride and the knee didn't hurt at all. Of course, the biggest difference is that I rode on Wednesday and Thursday after working all day in manufacturing while today we just went out to the lake to the little regatta they put on each year. Thus, my knees weren't stressed all day long like they are at work. But hopefully that is a sign.

Going to be an expensive year next year. Need a new better bike, need to get the oldest a bike, plus we went out on the lake in kayaks which is another thing I'm interested in. The girls loved it and now I think I need to buy a couple of kayaks or a kayak and a canoe of which I'll need a trailer.

Street Pedaler 08-03-13 05:43 PM

I envy you your hills. I have nothing but humidity, heat, and bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. Is it a bad thing that I've learned to tell what kind they are based on nothing but taste?

mrodgers 08-04-13 12:02 PM

Dagnabit, well, that was a wash. Tire needed a little air like it does every time I ride. The Wallyworld Mongoose special with the stupid rear suspension is a pain to get on the bike rack. Same with her bike since it is so small. Wiggled and pried my bike on, wiggled and pried her bike on, took the long way to the bike trail because of them deciding all the roads around must be closed for construction at the same time, wiggled and pried her bike off, wiggled and pried my bike off and..... tire completely flat.

Out in the middle of nowhere, it's an all day thing to run to any store for a tube. That and Wifey is already out school shopping and there's no sense in me using half a tank of gas also, so she's picking me up 2 tubes and I'll get them by dinner time when she gets home.

Kid's pretty bummed out, I'm bummed out too since we never rode together and she's never ridden on the bike trail. The oldest got to ride with me a lot until she outgrew the 16 incher.

bbeck 08-04-13 12:45 PM


TJClay 08-04-13 05:26 PM

You must have lost 2 lbs typing that first

mrodgers 08-05-13 05:59 AM


Originally Posted by TJClay (Post 15924898)
You must have lost 2 lbs typing that first

LOL, yeah, I'm long winded when I get on forums. I'm addicted to forums as well as I have several forums for each hobby I try like RC airplanes, guitar, canoeing and kayaking, motorcycles, photography along with every car I end up buying.

To continue my saga, Wifey brought home 2 tubes for the bike and they had some other type of valve than I can use to inflate them (Presta valves which I don't think I can inflate with what I have.) So, I didn't get to go on my bike ride in the evening either. Have to rush back to the store after work to get home before she leaves for work.

goldfinch 08-05-13 07:40 PM


Originally Posted by mrodgers (Post 15926321)
LOL, yeah, I'm long winded when I get on forums. I'm addicted to forums as well as I have several forums for each hobby I try like RC airplanes, guitar, canoeing and kayaking, motorcycles, photography along with every car I end up buying.

To continue my saga, Wifey brought home 2 tubes for the bike and they had some other type of valve than I can use to inflate them (Presta valves which I don't think I can inflate with what I have.) So, I didn't get to go on my bike ride in the evening either. Have to rush back to the store after work to get home before she leaves for work.

You probably need to return those tubes for Schraeder tubes and the hole in your rims will be too big for the presta valves.

mrodgers 08-07-13 07:23 PM

It's been a week now, figured I'd give a new guy update.

I was 235 lb. last Wednesday. I've downloaded MyFitnessPal and started to track what I'm eating. It tells me that I should eat roughly 1800 calories to lose 2 pounds per week. Sounds good to me. Now that I am looking, I really don't eat a lot. I think I am estimating pretty well how much of the food I'm eating (I don't have a kitchen scale or anything and such I am estimating food quantities.) Thus, I must have been eating an enormous amount of junk food, more than I realized. Then again, looking at the calories in junk food I am shocked by it, especially when in reality, most people probably eat 3-4 servings worth when they do eat junk food. I know I do.

Also found Runtastic Road Bike, which is pretty neat too. I'm enjoying looking at the elevation changes from my rides behind my house.

So, like I said, didn't get to ride Sunday with my daughter. Monday I went out and decided to continue on my back road route down the long hill that I was turning around before. I went another mile or so, it was a long downhill and had a long but not too steep uphill after that. There was a nice flat at the top of the hill and before the next hill I turned around. Ended up extending the ride another mile and a half.

Tuesday I read about a DIY bike clamp using a pipe clamp for gluing woodworking panels. I thought, hmm, I have a whole bunch of pipe clamps and a vise. I put it in the vise to hold it and clamped onto the seat post. Worked perfectly! Well, the bike is still down on the front tire, but really I just want the back up off the ground so I can spin the pedals.

So reading about adjustments on the Sheldon Brown site (I think I remember his name correctly) I realize my rear derailleur is bent. I was able to bend it back straight again. At that point, I decided to just completely pull the derailleur and disassemble it and give it a good cleaning. I have nothing in the garage but Gunk Engine Degreaser and figured that would work just fine. It did, the rear derailleur is nice and clean now. I reinstalled and set about to adjust it. Got it working real nice now. Some hiccups like for some reason it doesn't hit 6th gear and I have to twist the shifter to 7th (5th jumping to 7th) and then I can go back to 6th again. That is with the front chainring (hope that's the right terminology) shifted to 3. For some reason, when the front is on 2, the back jumps back and forth between 6 and 7. I have no idea why that is.

So tonight my wife had off work so I took the bike with me. Me and another guy headed up to Moraine State Park after work for a ride. The bike trail there is quite windy, has some elevation change, but it is gradual for the most part. Moraine State Park if you aren't from western PA is where Lake Arthur is and it is quite beautiful. I haven't been up on that bike trail probably since I was 14. It is 7 miles from start to finish at the marina. We got about 3 miles and it didn't look too promising in the sky. We decided we'd better turn back and the sky just unleashed. Wow! We were flying along and swung underneath a little single picnic bench shelter. 3 seconds later, someone else goes cruising by us and then his wife comes around the corner. She swings into the shelter with us. We chat for a while and the rain just keeps coming down. We hung out for about 10 minutes and it looked like it was letting up. So, we head back out, get around the next turn and the sky opens up again. It was coming down even worse. I got nailed right in the eye with a raindrop which screwed up my contact so I'm riding with one eye squeezed shut and the other squinting to keep the water out of it. I'm a bit nervous about how mountain bike tires handle water all over a paved bike path, plus it is really twisty. Finally we reach another picnic shelter and swing into it. This time the rain just keeps coming down harder and harder. Runtastic tells me we sat waiting on this one for 30 minutes. Meanwhile we had just passed the 2 mile marker. Holy smokes, it felt like we rode forever between the shelters and we were still only halfway back. Had about a mile and a half or better to go. Doesn't look like the rain is going to let up this time, but then it finally does. Off we go, the rain picks up a bit again, then tapers off and we finally reached the lot. Putting my bike back on the rack, I looked over and said, "Never riding with you again!" LOL

I was starving as I drove home. Wifey was still out grocery shopping and there wasn't anything at home to eat. Being out in the middle of nowhere, you don't get as much choice in the smaller towns to eat something, so I stopped at Burger King. I normally go in even if I'm not eating in the dining room but I am literally dripping wet. So I grab it through the drive thru and headed to a little park. Sat and ate soaking up all the glorious sun rays as by this time there isn't a cloud in the sky, :cry:.

Got home and stood on the scale. 235 lb, same as when I started last week. Took all my clothes off and got back on the scale, 230 lb, LOL. So, I'm down 5 pounds from when I first started riding the bike 1 week ago.

I think I'm going to try to get down to the river so I can ride the flat bike trail more often. It was nice before the rain riding on some relatively flat terrain.

Judi 08-07-13 10:33 PM

Good for you! Take the kids to ride on the flat trails too.

I have contact lenses also. I always ride with sunglasses on to keep dust, raindrops, bugs, etc. out of my eyes.

About getting a different bike sometime, keep an eye out for a bike on Craigslist. Once you find a good used bike for yourself, sell the old one. You're teaching yourself how to work on the bike, so the idea of buying a used one that might need a little adjustment shouldn't be too daunting.

mrodgers 08-08-13 06:06 AM


Originally Posted by Judi (Post 15937622)
Good for you! Take the kids to ride on the flat trails too.

I have contact lenses also. I always ride with sunglasses on to keep dust, raindrops, bugs, etc. out of my eyes.

About getting a different bike sometime, keep an eye out for a bike on Craigslist. Once you find a good used bike for yourself, sell the old one. You're teaching yourself how to work on the bike, so the idea of buying a used one that might need a little adjustment shouldn't be too daunting.

Yeah, can't get the kids on the bike trail together right now because the oldest needs a bike. She rides my walmart special around the house now. When I get myself a new bike, she'll have this one to ride.

Tried the sunglasses. It was an absolute downpour. First off, it was very dark in amongst the trees on the trail. Second off, they immediately fogged up and I couldn't see anything. Yeah, I never walk out of the house without sunglasses, such a fantastic thing moving to contacts and able to wear sunglasses, LOL. I went contacts just about 10 years ago when I was 31. Can't believe I waited that long. roughly 28 years of glasses and never being able to wear inexpensive sunglasses. Unless it is night time or I'm indoors, I'm wearing sunglasses.

mrodgers 08-09-13 07:37 PM

Don't know if folks will read this, but since it's my thread, just putting some progress in here.

Made it to the rails bike trail along the Allegheny River. Rode 6 miles up to the tunnel. The tunnels are really cool. There was a family just hanging out in the middle of the tunnel in the dark, LOL. Mom, Dad, an older boy, and a young daughter. Funny how you can hear them plain as day at the extreme ends of the tunnel. Feels so fantastic in the tunnel. I forgot to look at the temperature while I was in the middle. It was 73 while riding on the trail and by the time I remembered to look, I was already out of the tunnel and peddling and the temp was rising from 63 back to 73.

Peddling time was an hour and 5 minutes with a few coasting rests here and there along with the easing through the tunnel and taking a rest at each end of the tunnel to grab a picture. Was peddling about 12 mph on the way up with a very slight incline and fluctuating between 13 and 15 mph on the way back with the very slight decline and getting fatigued. Sprinted the last 1/4 mile at around 18 mph staying down in the seat.

That was so much nicer than riding the constant up and down hills behind the house.

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