advice for Big (i.e. heavy) new cyclist



estolano

New Member
Aug 10, 2004
15
0
0
I've been cycling for 5weeks now and, while i've made some progress- I'm bicycling about 23 miles on a mostly flat path between imperial beach and coronado- i'm frustrated that i' pretty slow- usually between 10 and 15 miles/hour.

Any tips on increasing my speed? Is traveling slow something I just have to deal with because of my weight? (About 280, 6'2")

I ride a 7700fx Trek hybrid about 3 to 4 times/week.
 

dallasbikr

New Member
Aug 1, 2004
30
0
0
53
Clearly, it will be easier as your weight decreases. But...you should be concentrating on getting a proper (Dr. approved) workout in the right range before worrying about your speed. Push too hard and you risk doig more harm than good.

Proper diet and proper workout will do wonders for you...:) Keep it up
 

kneighbour

New Member
Apr 30, 2003
57
0
0
70
Well, having been in your shoes, I can only say "keep it up"! I was 40kg overweight - and have so far lost 23 kg.

The biggest problem I had when I started off, was motivation. It is very easy to give up. Hills are very hard for us big guys, as is any sort of hard exercise. So it becomes too hard....

What I did was join a local cycling group. Not a racing group - but a club that was full of people like myself. Mostly older people, but a lot overweight, and very few 'real' cyclists. This way I fitted in - there would even have been a few riders worse than I was.

And this last is a great thing. It kept me going. For a long time I was always the last one up a hill - but eventually I was not the last. Now, after 3 or 4 years of cycling, I am usually way up the front. And it is this visible progress against other riders that keeps you going.

If you cycle by yourself, you have no-one to compare yourself against. All you have is the scales, and they are a very poor motivator.

The other thing I did in the early days was become a "techo junkie". I bought a "Softride Solo", if you know what ones of those weird machines are. Then I got a GPS unit, and a full Polar HRM system with Power function, etc. I had three computers on the bike. I would walk into a bike shop and tell them to sell me something - anything! Why? For a start, I liked the attention on a group ride. What new bit of gear do I have this week? I got a lot of good natured ribbing, but it was attention all the same. The other big thing is that I focused on the equipment during a ride. I could tell my average speed, amount of altitude climbed, how fast, the temperature, everything. This distracted me a lot from the actual pain of a ride, and actually kept me going through a lot of long rides. The GPS is particulalrly useful on very long rides. It keeps you focused on the next turn - the next town. How far is it - how long will it take to get there, etc. It keeps the rides down to the level of the next turn. And this is a very useful aid. Anything to stop you wondering what the hell you are doing there.

Now I have a Trek 2300, and do centuries all the time. I think nothing of them, except that I know I will have a bit of a sore butt at the end of one. Apart from that, no problems. In group rides, I am always in the "A" grpup - ie the guys out in front.

And the funny thing is - I am still 20kg overweight. But I am much fitter than when I started.
 

coolworx

New Member
Jun 18, 2003
278
0
0
55
Are you using all your gears?
The 7700fx comes stock with a low gear of 28X34, which is a very "spinnable" 22 "gear inches". Unless you live in the mountains, you should be able to tackle most hills with a slow/steady/spinning approach. Find a maintainable rhythm.

You should be concentrating on two things... heart rate (220 - Age * .7) and your cadence (peddling RPM - should be shooting for around 90)
 

DeanC

New Member
Aug 5, 2004
71
0
0
It's not something you just have to deal with because of your weight, but it might be something you have to deal with because of only having been at it for 5 weeks. I've seen lots of folks (and a few training books) say to not even start worrying about speed until you have a nice, solid base of miles (like 1000) under your belt. As you get more fit and your legs get stronger, the speed will naturally start to come.

FWIW, I'm 6'0"/255lbs and I did 21.3mi today @ 13.5mph with 1200ft of climbing.
 

estolano

New Member
Aug 10, 2004
15
0
0
Thanks for the tips- they're very helpful. I'll try to keep in mind that I need a thousand mile base (maybe another few months to get there) before my legs are ready to start pushing things faster.. It just gets frustrating to think of how long I have to go to be back in shape.

I actually started out training with a buddy who was in the same shape- but he gave up at the 8 mile mark! I'm pretty hooked on cycling- I'll actually be in court, thinking about where i'm going to go ride next.

The big immediate goal is a 50 mile race on September 25.

Do you guys think cycling shoes are a good idea- I hear they help with hills?
 

estolano

New Member
Aug 10, 2004
15
0
0
coolworx said:
Are you using all your gears?
The 7700fx comes stock with a low gear of 28X34, which is a very "spinnable" 22 "gear inches". Unless you live in the mountains, you should be able to tackle most hills with a slow/steady/spinning approach. Find a maintainable rhythm.

You should be concentrating on two things... heart rate (220 - Age * .7) and your cadence (peddling RPM - should be shooting for around 90)
How do I reach that gear- is it just the lowest on both sides?
 

coolworx

New Member
Jun 18, 2003
278
0
0
55
estolano said:
I'll actually be in court, thinking about where i'm going to go ride next.

Assuming you're a lawyer or a judge, I'm not sure daydreaming is a good idea! ;-)
 

Salsa Rider

New Member
Jul 16, 2004
196
0
0
estolano said:
<snip>

The big immediate goal is a 50 mile race on September 25.

Do you guys think cycling shoes are a good idea- I hear they help with hills?
Just a couple of quick notes; Yes cycling shoes do help. They've got a nice stiff sole, so you have a larger platform to pedal on and you dont waste a bunch of energy folding you shoe in half on every pedal stroke.

Also, cadence, a higher cadence will actually end up propelling you down the trail a little faster even tho it feels like your not doing as much. Also it moves a good deal of the effort off your legs and on to your heart and lungs, which tire more slowly and do not develop lactic acid. Plus in addition to weight loss strengthening the heart and lungs is really what we're talking about when it comes to fitness. There are cadence computers out there relatively cheap, $30 or even a little less.

And best of luck on the 25th, Best advice is relax and enjoy the ride. 50 miles in nothing to sneeze at. be sure to eat and stay hydrated, and just keep ticking the pedals over, you'll get there.
 

amaddeus

New Member
May 4, 2004
33
0
0
47
Salsa Rider said:
Just a couple of quick notes; Yes cycling shoes do help. They've got a nice stiff sole, so you have a larger platform to pedal on and you dont waste a bunch of energy folding you shoe in half on every pedal stroke.

Also, cadence, a higher cadence will actually end up propelling you down the trail a little faster even tho it feels like your not doing as much. Also it moves a good deal of the effort off your legs and on to your heart and lungs, which tire more slowly and do not develop lactic acid. Plus in addition to weight loss strengthening the heart and lungs is really what we're talking about when it comes to fitness. There are cadence computers out there relatively cheap, $30 or even a little less.

And best of luck on the 25th, Best advice is relax and enjoy the ride. 50 miles in nothing to sneeze at. be sure to eat and stay hydrated, and just keep ticking the pedals over, you'll get there.
This is a great thread. Last Christmas I was 270lbs, and 6'1". I said, "I have got to do something about this." (I have a lot of muscle mass, in great shape I am 205-210lbs.) So I sold my car and started riding my bike to and from work. Slowly but surely I improved. At first I was riding 10.8 miles each way, going about 10-14 mph. Now I regularly cruise at 18-21mph because I stuck with it. Another tip I use is I pay myself to ride my bike. Since there is no gas, no car payment, and no insurance, I am saving a lot of money. Rather than just get cheap stuff, I get nice stuff. This is my treat for doing all of this work. I bought a nice head light, nice shorts and shirts, new shoes with pedals, nice wheels and tires (I ride a Mtn. Bike so I bought slicks) And I must say, the main differences have been in the shoes and slicks. Those two together gained me between 1.5 - 3.0 mph. Pretty significant. Now I ride between 22 and 41 miles a day. I get over 150 miles a week, each week. I've only lost about 15 lbs, but I am much thinner, and I feel great.

BTW, I am in Phoenix, Arizona which I have ridden several times this summer in temperatures around 114F, and almost all summer the afternoon ride home in over 100 degrees F. You are in SoCal so the temps won't be that extreme, but I just say this, even as a big guy, just ride sensibly, and the temperature won't stop you.

I've said too much, good luck!
 

estolano

New Member
Aug 10, 2004
15
0
0
I wish I could bike to work- I think about it sometimes- but having to wear a suit and some ugly traffic crossing downtown SD to the bike path has dissuaded me so far. Otherwise it would be a nice ride from my home in Chula Vista to my office in Downtown SD. I'd be in much better shape, certainly!

I like the idea of rewarding myself by buying biking toys (though my wife may insist on a gucci purse to balance things!)- I've been thinking heavily about biking shoes and one of those rear view Reevu helmets. Really though, cheezy as it sounds, biking is it's own payoff. I really do see a San Diego on bike that is even prettier than the SD I grew up in. There's a section of the san diego bay bike paths where you actually see rabbits run acroos the trail!
 

DeanC

New Member
Aug 5, 2004
71
0
0
Bike shoes and a decent set of clipless pedals are a big win. Much, MUCH more efficient power transfer to the bike. Being able to pull on the upstroke will also help balance your hamstring strength against your quads...

Dean
 

amaddeus

New Member
May 4, 2004
33
0
0
47
I didn't want to bike to work for a long time either. I don't wear a suit, but I wear a polo shirt in an office. I just steal baby wipes from my kids, and use those since I don't have a place to shower. Surprisingly, this works very well. (at least I think I don't stink) I guess I should also say that I wear bike shorts and a bike jersey while keeping my clothes in panniers, not pretty but effective. There are pannier that are like garment bags that can hold an entire suit. Another possibility, there is someone I work with, and they drive their car on Monday, and bring everything they will need for the week, and take home last weeks stuff, and then they ride the other 4 days of the week.

Tell you wife when she starts riding a bike, she can get the Gucci purse. :)

I can't say that I see a lot of beauty in Phoenix, it is pretty much ugly, and a desert, so you've got one on me there. :) Of course, we average 5 days a year that get below freezing, so that is a positive.

One more word on paying myself. I add about $30 a week to my bike fund. What this does when it is time to buy something, say a headlight, (I ride early in the morning, I start on the outskirts of town, so I am on the VERY thin shoulder, when there is one, so I need to be visible) so rather than settle on a so-so light, the money is already there, so I spend the money on a nice $230 NiteRider Digital Evolution, and I feel safer, without the worry of, "How am I going to pay for this thing."

You are heading in the right direction, keep it up!
 

Similar threads