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Is exercise a chore?  Do you think “drat, I’ve got to go to the gym”  Is it boring?  When we were kids, we didn’t drag ourselves through exercise, we played.  We had fun.  For me, the key to sticking with an exercise program is for it to be something fun, something to look forward to.  Something that in itself is a reward.

Bicycling does it for me.  The sensation of speed, the freedom of covering long distances under my own power, the pride of getting stronger and faster are all more powerful than my overall loathing of exercise.

This diary is important to me.  I'm overweight.   After losing weight years ago when I first discovered cycling, I gained weight back and I weighed 261 pounds last May.  I'm down almost to 191. Through careful, healthy eating and enthusiastic exercise, I've lost almost 70 pounds.  I still have a long way to go.  

I realize that this diary is a bit frivolous, when public employees in Wisconsin and across the nation need our support.  This diary is long, and it doesn't begin to cover all the questions it should.  But I hope it helps.

Many overweight people are hesitant to get on a bike.  When I got my first bike as an adult, I weighed over 260 pounds.  Here’s the stuff that ran through my head:

I’m going to be a fat lady on a bike. I will be a ridiculous spectacle.  People will point and laugh.  They will shout mean things.  They will make gaging sounds because I will gross them out.

Ok, I’ll admit it.  It happened.  A couple of times.  Mostly laughter/rude comments from teenagers.  And probably more people responded like that than I ever knew about.  

But guess what?  It doesn’t hurt that much.  Who cares if some brainless teenage boys think I look funny?  Who cares about remarks and laughter I can’t even hear?  And it doesn’t happen nearly as much as I feared.  Honestly, people don’t notice me as much as I think they do.

And probably far more people than I ever knew thought: “Wow, that’s terrific. Good for her!”  I know that’s what I think when I see somebody BWOW.

I even worried my weight would be too much for the frame.  Though most bikes are designed for riders under 250 pounds, they will hold much more.  You might be more likely to blow tires with more weight on the bike, but you won’t crush the bike frame itself.

See my first Intro to Cycling diary about the fear of scary bike shops -- the short answer is, most bike stores are pleased to be helpful and want to earn your business.  They will not treat you like a criminal because you're fat.  If they do, walk out and go to another shop.  Go to a real bike shop, not a chain retailer.  

Some readers have already brought up issues of balance.   I worried about it a little too.  But if you learned to bike as a child, you really will pick up the skill again very quickly.  Start off just riding around a flat, open space (church parking lots on weekdays, school parking lots on weekends).  Ride for short periods of time, gradually building up your confidence and skills.  Ride around the block.  Then twice.  Then around the whole neighborhood.  Build your skills and your confidence at your own pace.

Cruiser bikes, which are designed so you can have both feet on the ground while seated, are a good choice for people with balance concerns.  So if you feel off-balance, put a foot down and steady yourself.  

Another common fear is having to get off and walk up hills.  When you have a good bike and understand how to use the gears, you'll discover that with practice no hill is beyond your power.  But until then, there's really no harm in walking up hills.  You will not be graded on your performance.  But keep coming back to that hill.  Keep trying and you will make it to the top and earn the thrilling ride to the bottom.

Fear of falling - I didn’t fall off my bike until I tried clipless pedals for the first time (the kind you click special shoes into).   A couple of times I just couldn’t get my shoes out of the pedals and I fell over sideways with the bike on top of me.  With regular pedals, it’s pretty easy to put a foot down and catch yourself before you fall.

I had some scrapes and bruises, but it didn’t hurt much, or very long.  My helmet protected my noggin.  Always wear a helmet!

Another concern is spandex - do you really have to wear those terrible tight shorts?  Won’t that make me look even more like a freak?  At first, when you’re going on short rides for less than an hour you’ll just need comfortable pants.  You’ll want to tie back your right pants leg so it doesn’t get greasy or caught in the chain.  I don’t like biking in jeans, even for short distances.  They’re not flexible enough and make me chafe in all the wrong places.  

When you’re ready for the fun of longer rides of an hour or more, fear not the spandex.  Bike shorts are a butt-saver for longer rides.  Who wants to have to stop because you’re buttsore?  Who wants to have chafing and sores on your butt?  Bike shorts are not just spandex, they have special cushioned pads designed to keep your nether regions comfortable.

Yes, a fat person is going to look ridiculous in bike shorts.  Many people think skinny people look ridiculous in bike shorts.  But it’s important to wear the proper gear for your sport.   Would you expect a serious runner to run in flip-flops?  A swimmer to train in jeans and t-shirt?  A hiker to wear an evening gown?  Bike shorts are the appropriate gear for the sport.  Wear them with pride.

Your local bike shop may not offer shorts in large enough sizes, but several online retailers (junonia, for example) offer plus-size athletic gear, including bike shorts. Isara has a helpful and amusing blog review of aerotech capri bike shorts.  

If you truly feel uncomfortable wearing something so revealing, there are some work-arounds.  Women can wear a skirt over bike shorts (and there are some jaunty kilts for men!).  There are even special shorts with built-in overskirts ( has cute ones), but they’re much more expensive than necessary.  Any loose, knee-length or shorter skirt will do.  I enjoy biking in skirts, because I can hop off my bike and go into shops without feeling self-conscious.  Men and women can either buy mountain bike shorts, which have a built-in overshort or wear looser shorts or pants over the bike shorts.  I find overshorts can actually increase chafing for me, but I don’t have the sam problem with pants.

Again, a helmet and front and rear lights are important safety equipment and not (in my opinion) optional.  I know most of us didn’t grow up wearing helmets for bike riding, but I work on the hypothesis that I only have one head - I need to protect it.  Reflectors are not enough.  In any kind of dim conditions, turn on your lights so you’ll be more visible.

But if it’s such great exercise and such a great way to lose weight, why did I gain it back?  I gained it back because I’m a compulsive overeater, and saw exercise as a rationale to eat whatever I wanted.  It didn’t help that my husband could do less exercise, eat more, and not gain weight.  If I ate as he ate - having ice cream for dessert, stopping off for coffee and donuts, eating pizza - I gained weight.  And because I got in a spiral of self-hatred, blame, and eating to make myself feel better I kept gaining.  Gradually, I had less energy for cycling and forgot how fun it was.  The pounds piled on.

There is no license to over-eat.  No matter how much you exercise.  Think about it: do Olympic athletes overeat?  Not if they want to remain competitive!  

I have friend who is an ultra-runner.  She doesn’t just run marathons.  She runs 100+ mile races in the mountains.  You’d think if anybody could eat anything they wanted, it would be her.  But she doesn’t.  She’s very careful about what she eats.  She was overweight in the past and doesn’t want to slip.  So she counts calories and only indulges her secret desire for cake after she’s run a major race.

Another friend was a typical party boy.  He loved pizza and beer.  He was always hefty, but stayed active.  By the time he hit 40, it started catching up to him with threats of diabetes and heart disease.  He started biking, and soon became captivated with the sport, quickly moving into a very competitive racing team.  But even competitive racing doesn’t grant him permission to go back to unlimited pizza and beer.  He’s very careful about what he eats to keep in competitive shape and optimal health.

I hope as I take the weight off this time (queen of yoyos, here!), I will take their example and know I will always need to be careful about what I eat.

Biking is a terrific way to have fun while exercising.  If you get regular exercise, you’ll be more successful losing weight and keeping it off.  But you must match it with healthy, careful eating.  

Second in a series of Introduction to Biking.

Other topics include:

* How to get started if you haven't ridden since you got your driver's license
* BWOW (Biking While OverWeight - Today’s topic!
* Finding the right commuter bike
* Safety and sharing the road
* Panniers, trailers and baskets
* Rails-to-trails movement
* Equipment and repair
* Community rides
* Community issues
* Bike porn

Response to the series has been terrific, and we can look forward to contributions from other very experienced members of the community on such topics as effective cycling and sharing the road, technology and mechanical issues, and ride sharing.  Let me know your ideas!

Originally posted to Velocipede Vanguard on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 09:28 AM PST.

Also republished by Weight Loss Kos and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  One of the best places for womens plus size (23+ / 0-)

      exercise gear (cycling and other sports) is Athleta. Even Title 9 has some stuff in XL and plus sizes, tho not as large a selection as Athleta or, as you mentioned, Junonia.

      I'm not plus sized right now but I've gone up and down in size a lot in my life and I love that you are highlighting the importance of exercise while big!  This is NOT a trivial issue. It's a cruel and oppressive reality that while our broad cultural morality narrative is that big people are bad, there is simultaneously a derisive and disrespectful (even disgust) response to large people when they exercise. F*ck that! I feel so grateful when someone has the courage to get out there and be visible while facing the male gaze (patriarchy-defined norms for conventional beauty morphed into a moral framework and sold by a capitalist obsession with thinness that affect women and men differently, but no one with a big body is spared) whether real or internalized.

      My 13+ years in ballet when I was younger were spent with a woman who was very large as my teacher. She was amazing, inspiring, and otherwise normalized a dance environment that is often fraught with fetishizing thinness, eating disorders and unhealthy self-concept re; our bodies. I credit her with my years of strong muscle development that led to many other forms of athletic expression due to my comfort with movement. While I wasn't fat as a child, my girlfriends were all just a much thinner body type and I really needed permission to be out there and moving since I wasn't "model thin".

      Thanks again for this series.

      We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.

      by Tookish on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:05:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, yes Athleta and Title IX (13+ / 0-)

        are terrific resources.  

        There's a very sick perception that fat people are lazy but if you see a fat person exercising, it's disgusting.  How odd and contradictory!  

        I think you're very right that sports/dance can be hotspots of very unhealthy body images.  It's important to have mentors like your dance teacher reinforce that there are a lot of body types with different strengths and weaknesses.

        I support public employee's unions.

        by Tracker on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:28:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the fact that you often have to go online (5+ / 0-)

          to buy athletic clothing if you're over a certain size - it is really nice to try things on first, so if everyone should exercise why aren't there clothes available for everyone?

          •  I really hate that I have to buy online (6+ / 0-)

            my trisuit is from Junonia. Now I'm glad that Junonia exists, and this is no slam of them, but I wouldn't have bought this suit if I'd tried it on first. It fits funny in one area & doesn't have the zippered pocket int eh back that you really do need when doing a tri. But these suckers are around $100 & I'm not buying another one online, not intil I really have to replace this one.

            REI is a nice store, with nice people & a co-op philosophy that I like. I don't shop there. They don't carry my size -- they'll be glad to special order it. But if I don't exist for you, you don't exist for me.

            My first trisuit was from Danskin. I love their tri, and sometimes they'll have XXL suits & I really loved mine. But it is worn out & I can't wear it in public any more.

            I can see that it's a chicken & egg thing - there are fewer fat people exercising so it doesn't make sense to carry our stuff so we're not exercising & still fat ...... sigh

            •  Lol! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I went to find base layers for my Cub Scout about to go on his first camping trip.  (in October)  The outfitters didn't carry much in kids sizes - just coats and other outer wear.

              Patagonia in women's size XS - that's what he wore.

              Retail is all about moving product and fortunate is the consumer who needs whatever they sell the most of.  The rest of us....?  Good luck.

              Show me the POLICY!

              by Fabian on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 02:39:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Tracker, this is a phenomenal diary (23+ / 0-)

      What an inspiration.  

      I too need to lose a little excess weight, probably 15 pounds or so would change my life.  

      And it is not at all indulgent to write this side by side Wisconsin or Libya diaries.

      The truth is we are all better activists when our self-esteem is up and there is no self esteem boost as good or important as good body image and a focus on a healthy lifestyle.

      And yes, even with exercise, what you put in your mouth counts--alot.  I would say, what you eat is as important as the exercise.

      So great diary!

    •  That's what I think, too. :) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tracker, NearlyNormal
      And probably far more people than I ever knew thought: “Wow, that’s terrific. Good for her!”  I know that’s what I think when I see somebody BWOW.

      The internet: It's like Facebook, only bigger.

      by VictorLaszlo on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:54:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This isn't "frivelous" (21+ / 0-)

    How are you supposed to show up for a rally when you can't get to the mailbox without running out of breath?

    I've been looking at bikes myself.  This gives me motivation.  Thanks.

    I'm not afraid of guns! I'm afraid of the people that obsess over owning them.

    by Detroit Mark on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:14:18 AM PST

    •  Take a look at recumbent bikes & trikes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pete Rock

      Starting back into biking with a recumbent saved my back and they're usually made sturdy enough for a larger body. Lots of good options for recumbent bikes. Best thing to do is test ride. I dropped 50lbs biking so far. Aiming for another 40lbs.

      Prepare yourself for bicycle sticker shock. Good ones seem to cost over $500.  Lesser ones may be frustrating and uncomfortable, unreliable, and lack resale value.   Better ones seem to be $1200 to $2000.  Don't let someone sell you something much higher than that without considering going to a custom shop that makes the frame and parts to fit you.  

      Also, check out Teratrike and Catrike for 3 wheel trikes that are well made, ride easy, perform well, and can handle the load as well, and most models are under 35lbs.  Many come apart for car transport.  You may come across models made by Sun, but unless they are the aluminum ones they'll be 50lbs or so and going up a hill will require heavy pumping and a low 'granny gear'.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 12:13:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Trikes may be the start for the really challenged. (0+ / 0-)

        Agreed most are expensive, but Trek made a nice trike we modified with a wide seat and extended outward
        pedals . around 700 new, a lot less used.for the City Trike.  

        Why my wife picked it: she had a post surgery hip problem on top of the weight and couldn't risk a "fall".
        She couldn't walk, was restricted, and going nowhere in any sort of exercize regimen.

        Starting small with short rides, working them up to  1/2 hour, then an hour was a big deal.  The security of a Trike for stability and confidence to get rolling was important to getting started.

        140 pounds to go. Will take a while, no doubt, but getting onto a ride that is manageable and doesn't punish you for using it is key, too.

        Set up and fit are as important on a trike as on a two wheeler.  Someone who knows bikes and how to size, spec out the reach and range of the pedals, steering bar and seat is just as important as what you pick to make your biking as natural and comfortable as any other exercize.   Don't skip this, regardless of what you ride.

        It will make the difference to staying a rider or avoiding it.

        cast away illusions, prepare for struggle

        by Pete Rock on Sat Mar 12, 2011 at 12:13:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've just added this to the queue (16+ / 0-)

    for Weight Loss Koss.

    It strikes me as very pertinent.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:15:55 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this- I am at my heaviest weight now, (15+ / 0-)

    even heavier than when I had my children. I am trying to lose weight but at 46, I am having a really hard time! I have arthritis and some days, I can't walk, let alone work out. I thought about biking, but in the past I tried a stationary bike and the discomfort of the seat was a deal-breaker for me! =(

    BTW, I don't think this is a frivolous diary at all- the current issues of the day are certainly important and are being covered. I really appreciate that you wrote this diary; it gives me hope that I can actually lose this weight!

    I may have been dealt a bad hand but at least I am still playing with a full deck!

    by beantown mom on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:17:09 AM PST

    •  47 here! (10+ / 0-)

      And in the Boston area - message me if you'd like to meet up.  

      I have terrible knee problems.  I used to run, and though I love it have decided that high-impact exercise is just not going to work for me any more.  

      I think walking is essential to help with arthritis and other joint problems.  When I started, I only made it about two blocks from my house before I had to limp home in pain.  But I walked every day and slowly walked a little further.  As I lost weight and as I built muscle tone, the joints had less pressure and were much less painful.  

      I still sometimes have tear-inducing pain in my knees after over-doing it -- sometimes for days.  I'm stiff after too many hours cycling or hiking.  

      But overall, the best remedy for joint pain is to keep moving.  

      Stationary bikes, IMO are much more uncomfortable than real bikes.  The ones in the gym may not fit you, you might not know how to adjust them (or be able to adjust them!), and the geometry of the frame might not work for you.  

      I support public employee's unions.

      by Tracker on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:39:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  And stationary bikes are BORING! (3+ / 0-)

        I love the fact that either hiking or biking gets me out there and looking at the world!  I've always been a hiker but just started being more of a biker the last few years, and  yes, if you keep trying that hill (I have some doozies on the way home), you'll eventually be able to get up it.  Then it's downhill from there.  :)

        -6.50/-5.23 If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a terrible warning. Anon.

        by Merry Light on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:32:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tai Chi arthritis remedy! (8+ / 0-)

      Beantown ... I have heard first hand accounts how Tai Chi significantly helps with arthritis.  One woman in my Tai Chi class shared how she basically couldn't walk it hurt so bad.  She took a Tai Chi class and instantly felt better.  She continued with classes (in the early 90s) and has not had a problem since.  It might be a remdy worth researching.  

      Good luck!

    •  Try a recumbent (7+ / 0-)

      The seat on the recumbent bikes I've tried are more comfortable.  Regular seats get less painful with practice and building up stamina, but if you aren't interested in being in pain for that long, try a recumbent bike with a larger seat.

      You can also ask at the bike shop what they recommend for a more comfortable ride.

      •  Recumbent bikes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        A long WI winter on the recumbent bike is still boring for me but at least it is some exercise and yes it is a little more comfortable.  Today was my first day back on the regular bike, after several walking laps around the square in Madison.

        Tracker.....don't feel guilty about this biking diary!  It is important to outlive the bad guys! Biking is a great way to lose weight and feel better about yourself.  In addition, it keeps a person more mentally healthy during these trying times.

    •  You have to (9+ / 0-)

      "break in" your  butt, number one, and the bike seats on exercise bikes are particularly bad for two.

      Balancing your weight on your "sit bones" is painful at first. Ever see someone right after they rode a horse for the first time, or the first time in a long time?

      I know a lot of bike guys who love the speed and freedom of biking, so they hate indoor training with a passion. We live in NH, so few bike year round here. As much as they hate it, all these guys spend at least an hour a week riding a stationary bike during the winter  (usually one of their bikes on a trainer) .... all so they don't have to go through the butt thing again.

      At the same time the first thing I always do when I buy a bike is replace the seat. Seats are really important, and it's one of those different strokes for different folks thing.

      And as the diarist pointed out, if you start riding more seriously, bike shorts become important too, and it takes time to figure out what works best for you with them as well.

  •  Good for you! NT (4+ / 0-)

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:21:48 AM PST

  •  best comment my wife got (6+ / 0-)

    she has been biking her pregnancy weight off and the best comment she got while going through the ghetto  -  "Mmm you must get hit on by black guys a lot."  So the moral of the story is, for a quick ego boost, swing by the ghetto.

    "The politics of failure have failed. We must make them work again." - an alien

    by Marcion on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:24:28 AM PST

  •  I biked all through high school and into (10+ / 0-)

    college.  My freshman year at college, I went everywhere.  And at just over 300 pounds, I would take my 10 speed touring bike and ride it all over Champaign-Urbana with no hands.  That's right, no hands.  

    This spring, I'm getting a nice hybrid--a Sedona, with the reinforced rims, and maybe kevlar tires.  I'll be back on the road again.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:30:00 AM PST

    •  Is that the Giant Sedona? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, UncleCharlie, ladybug53


      I support public employee's unions.

      by Tracker on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:40:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is the one. I should be able to get it (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, Wee Mama, Tracker, ladybug53

        for about $400

        "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

        by zenbassoon on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 01:46:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice price (0+ / 0-)

          My re-introduction to cycling at middle age has been via a used k-mart special, aka a Mongoose mountain bike that I got for $150 (probably overpaid).  2-/12 years later it gets the job done though I do kind of long for something better.

          As for tires, I live in the southwest and always want to be offroad where there are nasty goat-heads, thus I strongly recommend kevlar tires w/thick goo-filled tubes if you like that kind of action.  

          "And once again, the forces of niceness and goodness have triumphed over the forces of evil and rottenness." --Maxwell Smart

          by emobile on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 11:33:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  bike utopia (6+ / 0-)

      I was at U of I in the late 70s and my best memories are of the miles and miles of bike highways the criss-crossed the campus. As I think about it now, it seems like a sci-fi utopia... an entire community of about 40,000 people living and studying in a small city built around walking and riding bikes. I was riding a yellow 10 speed Schwinn University back then. I loved it!

      Years ago my mother used to say to me, "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.    ~Elwood P. Dowd

    •  I canNOT bike no-handed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Wee Mama, ladybug53

      I keep trying, as I always envy the folks who can balance like that, but I can't seem to get the hang of it.

      Any tips?

      •  Don't. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, Tracker

        When you ride, you need to be alert and prepared for anything.


        Riding without hands is like steering a car with your knees - it can be done, but it's not ideal and you can't respond quickly and accurately to problems.

        BTW - please don't do these things while riding:
        Chat on your phone

        I saw a cyclist off of the road once as I drove past?  Something wrong?  Flat tire?  Naw.  Just pulled over to take a call.  :D

        OTOH - I have seen someone with a cigarette in their mouth and a coffee in one hand riding down a road.  Not a sleepy residential road, but a two lane 45 mph road.  I cringed.

        Show me the POLICY!

        by Fabian on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:53:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  If the bike's geometry isn't conducive... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, Fabian hands is problematic or impossible.

        Mine, it's easy, but I ride on my very quiet country road. I just like to stretch a bit now and then.

        I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

        by labradog on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:04:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  If you can't bike without hands... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This may be a sign that you are not perfectly fitted to your bike or things are out of alignment.  A well-tuned bike with the saddle set to the appropriate height is usually easy to ride without hands.

        Keep in mind, you really steer a bike with your hips and by leaning. If you are rocking around a lot in the saddle because say the seat is too high or low, you'll be going all over the road. Out of true wheels or a bent frame or fork could also be culprits.

        All that said, yeah, probably one-third of my bike wrecks have come about from not having a tight enough grip on the handlebars at the right time (think loose grip and pothole at night).

  •  Bike clubs exist in most urban areas (10+ / 0-)

    Larger clubs have scheduled rides, including all of the various skill levels.  The club I'm in has 5 levels of rides, demoninated by speed and distance of rides etc.

    Some of the possible benefits include:

    1.  Experienced leaders get you used to the good bike
         routes in your area.
    2.  You often find friends among the other riders.
    3.  The maps you accumulate are useful in all of your ride
    4.  The availability of scheduled rides provides
    5.  Social and volunteer opportunities abound.

    I joined a club soon after I started riding again.  Before I knew it, I was leading rides and participating in club management.

    Great diary!

  •  You said all the right things (11+ / 0-)

    And I am inspired to get my bike to the shop for a tune-up this spring.  

    A good friend had a terrible bike wreck on a curvy mountain road (a truck ran over his pelvis), and I have been stupidly chicken ever since.

    I was all set to just sell the bike, but thanks for reminding me how exhilarating it is to zoom down those hills.

    (and I have about 70 pounds I need to lose)

    a tiny ripple of hope

    by Dicken on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 10:44:47 AM PST

  •  Helmets! (17+ / 0-)

    A couple of years back, I was riding at the veloway. Some yahoo jamming to her ipod and oblivious to my warning that I was about to pass swung wide, cutting me off, and I wiped out. I awoke to a couple of very worried looking faces, a bike helmet that was broken in three places, nasty strawberries all over my body and no sign of the ipod yahoo. It was three months before I could tilt my head back without feeling nauseous, but the brain was still in an unbroken skull, and scans showed no permanent problems. Without a helmet, I would be lucky to be drooling right now. Wear a helmet.

  •  Great Diary! (9+ / 0-)

    It's still cold here, but I'm counting the days until I can ride w/o layers and layers of clothing.

    Bike shorts are the business! I have never cared if others thought I looked ridiculous.  Like you said, comfort is imperative, especially when you first start riding a bike....again.

    Kudos to you for your journey and for sharing it here. You made me smile.

  •  I applaud your diary and your efforts! (9+ / 0-)

    A couple of thoughts. Take a look at mountain biking shorts if you are worried about the "4 lb of sausage in a 2 lb casing" look of Lycra. The good ones look like - well - shorts but they don't have seams in the crotch and they come with an internal chamois (padding). There are a few touring shorts out there as well that look more clothing-like. Check out the Hostel Shoppe, don't be fooled that they specialize in recumbents - just go look at the shorts.

    I own both, I admit it took some time to not be totally self conscious in my biking shorts - even sillier in my tights but, meh.

    Since I already gave you a link go ahead and check out recumbents, especially if your hips hurt or your butt just doesn't seem to 'interface' well with upright bike seats. My wife was able to continue pedalling because of a cheap recumbent (Sun Cycles) in the early stages of her ovarian cancer. Make sure you go to a true recumbent dealer to try several out - the fitting is MUCH different.

    Overall fitting the bike is crucial, and many folks have very incorrect ideas based on "comfort". As you know tracker the tendency is to have the seat too low, thinking that you feel more stable. That can lead to severe knee problems.

    I could keep going on about bike design and comfort - most design is driven by fads, race bikes (Lance), mountain bikes, now cruisers. I enjoy the tech side of cycling but I recognize most just want to get on and peddle.

    Sorry to babble - please keep up you advocacy. DK, progressives, and our nation need to hear this stuff. Ultimately, this is at the heart of health care (pun intended) - personal responsibility and prevention.

    Thank you for your diary.

    •  Keep babbling! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, UncleCharlie, ladybug53

      I was hoping that a recumbent enthusiast would contribute a diary one the subject to educate us - let me know if you wanna.

      I'll check out Hostel Shoppe, thanks!

      I support public employee's unions.

      by Tracker on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 11:12:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You missed one category, (8+ / 0-)

      vintage. I bought a 1970's road bike last winter with interesting bars that sweep up and back.

      The old steel road bikes are much more comfortable than the new road bikes. It's part bike geometry, and part frame material.

      Ever see aluminum or carbon fiber shock absorbers? No? You can go faster on aluminum precisely because it doesn't flex, but it will beat the hell out of you if the road isn't in great shape.

      I, like the poster started riding to lose weight. After buying that old road bike I fell in love with riding, and put about 1500 miles on her last summer.

      I just got her frame repainted complete with excellent replicas of her original stickers and am building her up.... changing everything but the frame, forks,headset, crank (already a triple) and handlebars.

      •  You are right PLS (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, peachcreek

        There are actually many more categories of types of bikes these days, some of them come and go in one marketing season - others stick around but morph, as you know.

        You and I are in 100% agreement on steel frames. That is my preferred material for a touring frame. I am always on the lookout for certain old school steel frames, especially Bridgestone.

        I made an impulse purchase several years ago. Yes it was during the Tour and I was revved up watching Lance try to make his come back. I could not justify all carbon but i did go with a light aluminum frame and carbon fork. I just love hefting that bike, compared to my touring bike or my recumbent; I just laugh at the weight! But it was a silly purchase for me, I haven't raced in years (wasn't any good in the little I did) and the 700's put me at risk on my usual routes and I really stress the lacing with so few spokes. But I still break into a grin when I first settle in.

        BTW PLS you didn't mention it but others did, as for my bike clothing comments. I wear my regular work clothes when commuting. I usually roll my pant leg up because I am too lazy to keep track of a cuff clip or band. My suggestions for biking shorts are intended primarily for when you are going for rides that are longer in duration. The right clothing can make a huge difference in comfort.

      •  price of vintage keeps going up (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, Tracker, SJLeonidas

        but they're still a great value. Find a frame of Reynolds 531 and Campagnolo maybe 5-600 bucks...that's a good bike for that money. At least in my book.

        Is that the best beginner bike for someone overweight? Dunno. It's certainly not an upright hybrid bike, which may be an easier entrée to riding. I say whatever gets someone on a bike and happy is a good bike.

  •  I used to read (4+ / 0-)

    Large Fella On A Bike (he went from 501 pounds to 167), but he's stopped blogging. An amazing story, none the less.

    Guilt should never be decided by anyone who sells rope.

    by pucklady on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 11:08:03 AM PST

  •  From a big gal (14+ / 0-)

    Some tips for women, because those cute bike shorts with skirts and, really, any cycling gear: you're not going to find it in stores in anything bigger than about a street size 14.  At least that's been my experience.  Even Terry, listed in the OP, only goes up to a street size 18 and calls that XXL, and a lot of athletic gear doesn't size up well proportionally-speaking for those of us who are fat rather than tall and athletic.    

    Just don't bother going to bike stores for anything wearable aside from gloves and shoes and helmets, if, like it is for me, it might be upsetting and put you off riding.

    I personally don't find padded shorts a necessity, though some sort of skin-tight anti-friction is a must, so I just buy shorts designed for other workout activities.    They also make padded underwear, which is a little more size-forgiving than the shorts.  Options for menstruation kind of suck, but at least blood doesn't usually end up  everywhere when you're crammed onto a bike seat.  

    There are decent bras out there.  Look for the brand Moving Comfort (I know REI carries them) or check out (I am not at all affiliated, this was just how I found a decent-fitting sports bra for the first time in my life).  Even if biking is less, er, bouncy than running, you'll be happier with a good-fitting, quick-dry bra.  

    Voler -- has, for on-line order, women's gear up to sizes 2XL, and from the few things I own from them, their sizing charts are accurate reflections of how things fit, and goes up quite a bit higher than most other places.   (Again, not affiliated.  Just a happy customer).  

    Blowing by skinny guy hipsters in gear they don't need on an old beater bike wearing jeans is worth all the catcalls and crap you'll get.  You will get them.   Much, much more so than thin men, in my husband's experience from riding solo and then with me.  But you're going past so fast that by the time it registers, you're OUTTA there.  

    Buy a bike that's comfortable.  Ignore anything a bike store employee says about fit that contradicts this, pretty much.  Chubby women do not even remotely fit a bike like scrawny men.  A full aero tuck and I quite literally knee myself in the breasts on each pedal stroke.  Not gonna happen.  And you might not fit like the bike store's idea of a chubby woman, either!  Women's specific designs may be more comfortable, or they may be less.  Find what fits you.  

    If you're nervous about the roads, and gym memberships/classes are an option, Spinning classes use a bike that's like a real bike, rather than those awful exercise bikes.  Small seat, toe-clips, etc.  

    •  * from another gal (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, ladybug53, SJLeonidas

      Didn't mean to imply in any way that Tracker was a guy.   :)

    •  Sb's comment are spot on. (5+ / 0-)

      Even for the guys, it is rare that I can buy a jersey at the local bike shop - they usually seem to stock for the Lance-alots! The chamois (padded) underwear go along way to assembling a functional cycling outfit - get two, clean and rotate. But watch out for you choice of outerwear (shorts) if they are not cycling specific. The seams in the crotch (like jeans) can be an amazing source of pain and injury - don't ask how I know!!!  8-) It sounds like Sb is lucky - uurrrhh uhmmmm - in this area.

      The aero tuck design and riding form is for getting from point A to point B either as fast or as energy-efficiently as possible. I could argue that when cycling for health and fitness we actually benefit from an upright, high drag, posture!

      More importantly antimony is right, the aero tuck is uncomfortable or in some cases almost impossible. It puts a tremendous stress on the wrists, elbows, neck, etc. It takes a lot of work to become conditioned to and comfortable in the tuck. For what?  Oversimplifying here, but if you are not going to race fuggedaboutit!

      The skill to learn on a bicycle is spinning. Most people find it unnatural but increasing your revs takes the load off your knees and increases endurance which makes the whole experience more enjoyable - but again the fit has to be there first. Low seats encourage mashing on the pedals, especially going uphill.

  •  Looking forward to each installment! (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for starting this series. I need the encouragement to get back on a bike. I've got my eyes out for good places to ride. I live down a hilly, curvy 2-lane road that's not safe for cars, much less bikes!

    A fish will be the last to discover water. - Albert Einstein

    by VexingEyes on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 11:34:25 AM PST

  •  Don't be afraid to wear street clothes (8+ / 0-)

    If you set up a bike so that it can be used for everyday activities (with lights, a basket or rack, pedals that work with street shoes) then you can just jump on it to go for a ride, to commute, or to do errands.  If you want to lose weight, why sit in a car when you could be on your bike?

    For rides less than an hour, I find street clothes perfectly comfortable. For longer rides, I like bike-specific clothing, which I often buy from Team Estrogen.  They have a good variety of sizes and brands.

    •  Agreed. (7+ / 0-)

      I have gone through periods of biking exclusively to work and school, but in all those years I've never actually bought bike-specific clothing.  Just a helmet and a couple of those reflective velcro strips for keeping pants out of the gears.  

      I find this reasonable, if perhaps not ideal (depending mainly on weather), for biking a couple of miles at a time.  But I'd definitely encourage people not to let a lack of bike-specific clothing be a deterrent to hopping on a bike.

      Guide to my comments: When in doubt, assume sarcasm.

      by Gray on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 01:51:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good On You! Extra Tips (12+ / 0-)

    Way to step into your power (pun intended)!  Here are a few additional thoughts (which didn't post when I first wrote them up...grrr).

    - Look for a cycling club either offered through independent club or a bike shop (or REI).  Great for finding people with the same passion.

    - Invest in a pedometer (if that's the right word) ... allows you to track distance traveled and MPH.  Great for when you want to challenge yourself.

    - Just start!  The beginning will likely be the slowest MPH and least distance you travel ... you can only go up from there so have fun with it and build your base!

    - Use power/protein bars with low sugar either during the ride or immediately after; they help keep your blood sugar stable so you don't devour everything in site when you are finished (due to low blood sugar) and will help you lose weight.

    - Eat protein within a half hour of finishing the ride (either a powder in a shake or some other solid food form).  It will keep your body from cannibalizing your muscles for fuel and help build muscle which in turn contributes to weight loss.

    - Load up on water (I have two water bottles attached to my bike).

    - Consider investing in clip pedals .... it increases efficiency and comfort when riding.  Just accept that you will crash at some point, it's just a matter of when (some within first few tries, for me two years after installation).

    - Follow cycling etiquette!  It drives me mad when people hog the path, don't call out "on your left", don't get over in a timely manner when you call out "on your left," etc.  

    Good luck and enjoy!

  •  Cycling is a kick-ass way to lose weight. (9+ / 0-)

    About two years ago I began taking cycling more seriously. I was over 330 lbs. I decided to use my bike for all of the errands I could. Now I rarely drive my car. I also make a point of riding nearly every day.  On the weekends I go for longer rides, but nothing over 30-35 miles.

    I am now in the 235 lb range, and I could stand to lose 30 more. I am considering getting an actual road bike (on a hybrid now) so I can extend my weekend rides and get working on that final 30. I am gonna need to give up the pop tarts too :(

    Keep it up, and keep encouraging people.  And never worry about what other people think. For better or worse, we big people are the damned majority, and skinny hipsters on their fixed gear bikes can kiss my ass as I blow by them.

  •  Also: do you want to tag this diary (4+ / 0-)

    for Velocipede Vanguard? It is another nascent DKos group, dedicated to cycling...

  •  A few years ago... (9+ / 0-)

    ...I went to my wife's naturopathic physician and we talked about my weight, which isn't WAY over but a bit over; I carry more belly than I should.  We discussed exercise and when I thought about it afterwards I recalled that when I was a kid and even on up into my late teens and early 20s, I did used to ride.  When I was staying with my mother and stepfather at their condo on the west coast of Florida during that period, the only real thing I could go off and do was ride, and I did, for quite a few miles at a stretch, and I really enjoyed it.  Earlier on, my brother and I had set off from the house a couple times, making roughly 14-mile trips.  

    So I thought I could bring this back into my life, and I went looking for bicycles.  DAMN that Lance Armstrong.  DAMN him. ;)  I went into a bike store and learned that the best I could do in there was a last year's model for $900.  Hell with that.  Off to I went, and ordered a Chinese-made road bike, badged as a "GMC" - apparently part of some ill-advised promotion to give away bicycles with every bigass SUV sold.  It cost $189, shipped to my door.

    It can be ridden.  It is not great.  It is a very attractive deep blue color. :)  It has twist shifters that belong on a cheap mountain bike. I have replaced the seat, added a computer and a rear warning light, and I had to go around the spoke holes in the aluminum wheels with a rattail file to remove the metal turnings that were puncturing the inner tubes.  I also replaced the wheel liners; the originals were no tougher or thinner than an inner tube themselves.  

    And I learned to ride in traffic and became able to handle hills.  My rides can be a little strenuous but they don't wipe me out when I'm done.  All in all, getting back into riding was a great thing for me to do, and I've already gotten two rides in this season before March.

    •  price of bike cheaper than cost of bypass surgery (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NearlyNormal, fhcec

      Bob Arnott, who wrote a fitness book for men years ago advocated buying quality sporting equipment if you were older than 25. His argument was that good equipment could compensate for age/out of shape body.

      Of course, I'm not advocating spending more than you can afford; just not forgetting that some purchases are long-term investments in personal infrastructure. Don't be afraid to ask around for someone's fancy bike gathering dust in some garage.

      And of course the price of a bike helmet compares even more favorably to the cost of a mild concussion.

  •  Yep... (6+ / 0-)
    But if you learned to bike as a child, you really will pick up the skill again very quickly.

    It really is just like riding a bike!

    Guide to my comments: When in doubt, assume sarcasm.

    by Gray on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 01:43:35 PM PST

  •  I'm so excited to see more! I test-rode (8+ / 0-)

    two more bikes this week. Two Raleighs, and I didn't like either of them as much as the Trek Navigator I rode first.

    Can't really explain it, but they just didn't fit my body like the Trek did.

    I did figure out I don't like the seat with shock absorbers -- or whatever they're called -- because the seat sits about an inch higher when you're not on it. So in getting on and off, it's hard to get my feet on the ground and not get thrown off balance. When you sit on the seat, it's lower because of your weight, so sitting at a comfortable height for the pedals puts me too high when getting off and on.

    I also llked the 700 cc tires much better than the wider ones. Much easier to glide fast on those 700s. Wider ones are supposed to give you a smoother ride, but I didn't notice anything but how much easier it was to roll on the 700s.

    Going back to the 1st store soon to try a couple of Trek hybrids, the 700 and 7000 or 7100.

    Clerk on the phone, extra helpful, suggested trying the Trek Glide, which has the pedals sitting slightly forward of the seat, so it's easier to get your feet down on the ground while on the bike seat, yet still get the right distance to the pedals for riding.

    Will report back when I know more.

    Overweight 47-year-old woman here, who can't wait to get back on a bike.

    •  Skinny tires (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, ladybug53, cai, kyril

      There are advantages and disadvantages to the skinny 700cc tires.  The plus side is that the rolling resistance is minimal.

      The downside is that they don't work well on gravel or dirt paths.  And you can't get snow tires for a bicycle that are the skinny 700cc tires - usually those are only available in the wider sizes.

      •  Lucky me, my town, Greenville, sc, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, kyril

        bought an old railroad right of way, took up the tracks and made a 17 mile biking/jogging path!

        It's proven so popular, the county and the town are building more paths.

        I plan to ride there, primarily, so I think I'll be fine on the 700s

        •  We've got that, too, and they are (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, congenitalefty, fhcec, kyril

          expanding it every year.
          An old-timer local once said to me, grumpily, "Why, all those Democrats just want to build paths!", and my mild answer was, "We need all kinds of ways to get around."  I got no answer back.  What could he say?  If he argued, I would have pointed out that he and his wife would walk through town to the pool on the sidewalk.  Isn't that a different way of "getting around"?  Maybe he realized it when I said it, that it was true.

          I told some friends today, we need to have these types of arguments ready when people try to be the tea-party/GOP cars only crowd.

          -6.50/-5.23 If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a terrible warning. Anon.

          by Merry Light on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:50:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  700c snow tires (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've seen 700x35c snow tires on many road bikes here in Minnesota. They may not fit on all of the "skinny tire" bikes, but they fit on many of them.

    •  Woo hoo! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, ladybug53, cai, kyril

      Fit is important - don't settle for a bike that doesn't fit you.  And while others can advise you on fit, only you can say what works for you.  Keep shopping!  

      I support public employee's unions.

      by Tracker on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 04:51:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  thank you for this (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker, ladybug53, cai, kyril

    My husband wants to get back mountain biking. Of course my husband being a bike snob, will not allow us get anything but a certain type of Kona. For a couple of bikes we will be out 3 grand or more, well unless his brother can get a discount since he knows the people at Kona. Right now we are building up strength and endurance for it. We are walking and hiking (I love hiking). I think since I love hiking that is why I can't wait to get a dern mountain bike.

    •  I bought mine used for well under $50. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, cai, congenitalefty, kyril

      A twelve speed Peugeot.
      Spend what makes you happy, but there's no reason that big bucks are mandatory.

      I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

      by labradog on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:12:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is a war (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        between my husband and I. He will not ride anything else, cracks me up, his was stolen. I go how about this one. Too heavy. How about this one no stiff gears. Etc..... He will not let me buy anything but. I normally do not go for that, but I know him and I will hear it every time I touch the thing.  Which will piss me off, then entire rides of me cussing him out and him pouting. With my leg I can't ride alone.

        •  OT. Forgive me... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...but this

          my husband being a bike snob, will not allow us get anything but a certain type
          and this
          He will not let me buy anything but. I normally do not go for that, but I know him and I will hear it every time I touch the thing.
          sound just awful. Like, tragically, abusively, controlling awful. I know I'm being OT and just as presumptuous as can be. But to see such statements casually posted - to (sort of) strangers, yet - it is so weird, it's discomfiting to me, to say the least. I don't imagine I'm alone, here.
          I'm sorry, maybe you were "kidding" somehow, or maybe drunken posting. I wanted to check out the biking diaries, but this just bummed me. If in the dark night of the soul, you ever wonder to yourself "Must I put up with this? Is this normal", at least one other person noticed, and thinks it is wrong, too.

          Again, my apology, and I'll just consider myself as having been told to go to hell.

          I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

          by labradog on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 08:20:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Check out the following link (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, ladybug53, cai

    You can still pedal wth the engne running, pedal with it off, or not pedal at all..  ~200mpg..

  •  Bike Shorts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, wu ming, ladybug53

    "Many people think skinny people look ridiculous in bike shorts."

    Oh-hoh, it's not just many people, it's everyone!

    Why do you think they're in color combinations that do to your eyes what the RAF did to Dresden?

    Visibility? That could be accomplished with a strip of 3m silver material

    No, they're made in awful colors because it's part of the culture. It's the message the biking community goes for.

    That message is:

    "I am on a bike, and my clothing is going to assault your face."

    An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

    by OllieGarkey on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 04:46:56 PM PST

    •  High Vis is my favorite color. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, Tracker, NearlyNormal, cai

      It's not because I like assaulting retinas, it's because I think basic black is a great way to approach invisibility.

      I never trusted drivers to see me on a bike, let alone to look for me.  High vis is the law for various workers.  For bikers, it isn't the law, just a very very good idea.

      Show me the POLICY!

      by Fabian on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:00:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Okay, yeah, High Vis Yellow. (0+ / 0-)

        But you've seen what they do with High Vis color combinations.

        I mean really, if you bike the Virginia Creeper Trail, you'll see sights that make it look like the 80's just vomited.

        An Fhirinn an aghaidh an t'Saoghail.

        by OllieGarkey on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 08:14:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Some of my favorite online resources for BWOW (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, one of 8, ladybug53, cai


    The ultimate bike forums, aptly called "Bike Forums", has a subforum dedicated to 200+ lb cyclists

    Velogirls - Bay-area based cycling group for women. Very supportive for newbies and Athenas alike

    Fat Cyclist - he's done amazing things, and is probably the most well-read of the plus-size biker blogs (Fatty's not really plus sized anymore, but still writes from that perspective).

  •  Glad to see this up here :D (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker, ladybug53

    And thanks for linking to me, and apologies for the lack of recent content on my blog. 2010 was the year when everything fell apart, and just now picking up the pieces in 2011 - including cycling again!

  •  I have a great bike store, Erik's (7+ / 0-)

    and while I am still overweight after a few years of bicycle commuting ( I don't do winter though) I would fit in their sizes, but it's nice to hear about alternatives. So far I've just used other athletic clothing we have around the house, and my butt does fine on hour long rides in those

    I had never really stopped cycling, even did it 8 months pregnant! put the kid behind me after he was born and able to be in a seat. Still the first year I got frustrated with the highway and started biking to work was an adjustment, got through it with  yoga an arnica gel :-)

    I do it for tree-hugging reasons too

    -7.75, -6.05 And these wars; they can't be won Does anyone know or care how they begun?-Matt Bellamy

    by nicolemm on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:52:46 PM PST

  •  Thanks so much for (6+ / 0-)

    writing this diary. It's like you rummaged around in my head and wrote your diary to answer all MY fears and concerns. I've been trying to figure out if I even remember how to ride but have been afraid to get on a bike to test (what if I break it or I'll look stupid or the bike shop person won't be able to contain his laughter or ...).

    Do you know how biking will affect troubled knees? That is one of my other concerns.

    I wouldn't worry about whether this diary is frivolous or not (I say NOT). We all can chew gum and ride a bi....  hmmmm

    "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

    by CaliSista on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 05:54:14 PM PST

    •  Bad knees? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, RunawayRose, wader

      I got 'em.  For me, the best medicine for owie joints is to keep 'em moving.  Build muscle strength so the joints have more support.  I still have days that after a long workout hiking, biking, or snowshoeing I'm limping, stiff, and sore.  But I CAN hike, bike, and snowshoe because I've built up the strength over the past year.  

      In terms of biking, start in low gears.  You won't move real fast, but the bike will do more of the work and there won't be as much pressure on your knees.  As you get start getting more used to riding, you can start shifting into higher gears and use your muscles more and move faster.  

      I support public employee's unions.

      by Tracker on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 06:36:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Biking (and swimming) were recommended to me (4+ / 0-)

        after knee surgery in the early 80s, due to less jarring impact during the motion - even compared to walking.

        About hills . . . there's a 2+ mile incline near me that can take seemingly forever in low gears - I tend to overdo exercise, so move forward in long segments with my middle gears, walking 30-60 seconds between segments.  Whatever feels comfortable, I figure - and, walking is exercise, too.

        Nice diary, as everything you offered about biking rang true to my experiences, even though I'm not considered overweight.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:30:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  One of my best friends has had infinite (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      knee surgeries before finally getting both replaced, biking is the one thing that he can do.  We're in our late 50's now and biking has become the thing for exercise for him.  Me too, though I'm much more fortunate in the joint area.

      I Know a place where a Royal Flush never beat a Pair" T. Waits

      by NearlyNormal on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 02:12:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary and your series! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker, cai, fhcec

    Really appreciate your biking series.  I'm nearing the end of a long long caregiver stint and so look forward to getting my old Bike Friday out of it's bag and returning to cycling.

    Please keep the diaries coming to keep me motivated.

  •  I love this diary (7+ / 0-)

    yes, I do.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this series.  I will read every single diary more than once.

    I have been promising myself and my son I'd get a bike every spring for several years, and yet here I am today - still bikeless, still way too inactive and OW.  

    I want to get a cruiser type bike, something with fatter tires and a comfy seat, and start enjoying all the various offroad bike trails my community has to offer.

  •  My experience with weight loss (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has been that I can eat whatever I want... it's the frequency and the amount that matters.

    But the nice thing is, I can still eat pizza, or cake.  I just can't have them every day, or unlimited amounts.  I count calories, and I know I'll be less hungry if I eat healthy things, and don't waste my calories on junk.

    The reason I mention it is that for many people, as soon as something becomes forbidden, they crave it.  Whereas I would just take stock: do I really want to get an ice cream?  I gave myself permission to have it.  And because of that, I walked past an ice cream shop regularly for over a year, without ever buying any.  Because once I had permission, I didn't want the ice cream, really.

    Another thing: willpower is for grocery shopping.  Don't buy the cookies, and you won't have to deny yourself the cookies 24x7, just for the seconds it takes to get past them in the store.  Don't let members of your household keep things in the house that you have trouble resisting.  (This can seem intrusive -- but would you keep beer in the house with an alcoholic?)  They can have whatever they want outside the house.  And, if there are treats you don't like, they can keep those around.

    Congratulations on your success!

  •  Good for you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker

    really, who cares what other people think?

    I do 1 hour on the treadmill 4 days a week, watching The Price Is Right. It makes the time go by. I do weights for about an hour after that. I am also getting most of my flexibility back. I can do near perfect splits, and I am 44.

    Find what you like, and stick with it, or rotate it with other exercises. get a routine workout time if possible.

    In a few years, you'll be a thin lady on a bike!

    Oh, look.....I get a tagline. I better not waste it. I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

    by sd4david on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:06:11 PM PST

  •  Great topic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker, fhcec

    I am a fat woman and I love to ride. Now that it's getting warmer, I will resume my 18 mile RT commute. Some people laugh to see a really fat person riding, but after while you realize they are putting you down because they really don't have anything else in their lives.

    "I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being" -Abraham Lincoln

    by joojooluv on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:07:19 PM PST

  •  I agree, biking is ecstatic exercise for a (4+ / 0-)

    non-skinny person.  I especially like biking in Amish country because everybody on the road is used to seeing non-motorized people out there on foot, on bikes, scooters, buggies, etc.  And they are used to seeing people of all sizes and ages on bicycles.  

    I'd also like to recommend another fabulous exercise for the non-skinny: ZUMBA! Try it, you will love it!

  •  i am larger than most of you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but i would love to know where I could get a reinforced bike (in the Boston area).

    i would not care about the stares and catcalls.  being on a bicycle brings back such glorious memories of childhood!

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    I support Bob Massie for MA-Sen

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:15:19 PM PST

  •  about bike shorts (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker, Fabian, NearlyNormal

    I finished a century ride (100 miles) and wore those loose shell mountain bike shorts that has the pad built in.  Also, some sell padded bike undershorts that can be worn under loose fitting shorts.  I've gone for rides up to 50 miles in those with no trouble.

    I am not a small person (6 feet, 190 pounds) but once was much heavier (320 lbs., same height)

    "Obama won. Get over it."

    by onanyes on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:20:25 PM PST

  •  Great diary, love your avatar, thank you for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker

    posting this and sharing your experience.

    It's your victories that give you your confidence but it's your setbacks that give you your character. -Van Jones

    by Oke on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:32:40 PM PST

  •  great diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker

    I still have to walk up hills, but maybe all the track work I'm doing will help.

  •  Yesterday I got a new piece of gear! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker

    A cheepo $15 knapsack!
    Now I can peddle my wide self to pick up the Sunday WaPo and NYT, without stuffing it down my sweatshirt.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:56:52 PM PST

  •  Yes, oh yes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, wu ming, Tracker

    As someone who had lost 50 pounds while doing the Fat Man On A Bike thing, (stopped because foster kid living with us cannibalized my bike parts for his own bike that got traded for cigarette butts stolen later and I couldn't afford a new one) I wish I had a bike again.

    Meanwhile, is a post about Chris Christie called Bilking While Overweight?

    I'm sorry, that was a very cheap fat joke from someone who's a lot heavier than Chris Christie - the crooked part still stands, though.

    If bin Laden owned an oil company, [the GOP would] be wearing long beards and shooting at US troops in Afghanistan.-Geekesque

    by Dr Squid on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:57:39 PM PST

  •  Great diary!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Tracker, fhcec

    I too am overweight and have a bike in the garage!  I need to get on it!

    Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

    by surfermom on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 07:59:44 PM PST

  •  Tip, rec, hotlist. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, Fabian

    I wear jeans most of the time... I'm going to have to look into the alternatives.  On the other hand, I'm looking at getting a bike to run in-town errands, not long distances.  Hmmm.

    C'est la vie, c'est la guerre, c'est la pomme de terre.

    by RunawayRose on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 08:27:37 PM PST

  •  I used to love biking (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, one of 8, NearlyNormal, fhcec

    But now at almost 350 pounds I'm afraid of 1) breaking my bike; 2) having a heart attack; 3) looking ridiculous.  Everything you said.  I live in a fairly hilly area, in an urban area not really friendly to bikers.

    Keep up the diaries please.  I need the inspiration!

    Deye mon, gen mon (Beyond mountains there are mountains - Haitian proverb)

    by ekeithj on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 08:42:56 PM PST

  •  Biking is awesome! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, Fabian

    That's pretty much it.

  •  It's not about special rides or special clothes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, Fabian, one of 8, fhcec

    For me, it's about getting from point A to point B. I don't go on special rides; I use my bike as my main transportation. I get exercise without really thinking about it, and I can wear normal clothes to do it. I am also lucky to live in Portland, OR, one of the more bike-friendly cities of the US.

    I have a commuter-friendly bike (even though it's not a step-through, which I would have preferred) with an Xtracycle long tail attachment, a Stokemonkey electric assist (if you're partially disabled like me it's a godsend), and a number of goofy things like downlows, a parasol holder and twinkle lights around the bike basket. If people stare at me, it's usually because they're smiling at my silly bike. No one's ever shouted anything at me.

    Since I got my bike I've lost about 30 pounds. I am now around 225-230, depending. :) You can't really see me, or really how awesome the bike is, but this gives something of the idea.

  •  biking is good in so many ways (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    getting out and moving does wonders for peace of mind as well.

  •  Most bicycles, clothing & gear are from China (0+ / 0-)

    Lots of Kossacks would like to see your bicycles, clothing & accessories banned from the US or at least priced so high that we can't afford them.

    /I ride a Taiwanese-made bike.  I have some US-made tights left, but they are almost worn out.

  •  thank you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, Lefty Coaster

    A few years ago I won, in a raffle, a custom-made bamboo (really) and carbon fiber bike, made to my measure. I never ride it. The damn tires are too skinny and I have no balance to speak of any more. I have it in the basement and it's not really even accessible right now; it's behind the dialysis supplies I no longer need (thank all the gods). I don't know what to do with it. I like it; but I can't ride the thing anywhere.

    With this transplant, I'm supposed to work out. I hate working out; the only things I enjoy WRT exercise are kayaking and swimming, which I can't do until I get this Jackson-Pratt drain out and the site's healed. This summer will finally see me back in a pool but this spring will not. I suppose biking would be as good as anything else but see first paragraph. Got any suggestions?

    Organ donors save multiple lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me and in others. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate and sign up to give others the gift of life.

    by Kitsap River on Thu Mar 10, 2011 at 11:15:48 PM PST

  •  Great diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children"

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 01:15:57 AM PST

  •  Clipless pedals (0+ / 0-)

    The first time I tried clipless pedals, I rode up to a stop sign and forgot to unclip.  The bike came to a stop and I fell over sideways.  My 16 year old was riding behind me and saw the whole thing -- of course he told all his friends about it.  They're great once you get used to them (usually takes one fall or less).

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