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  1. #1
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    A friend's weight loss and growing passion for cycling

    ..and hopefully mountain biking too!

    One of my close friends has been in the process of losing weight for about two years. Before that he never managed to lose very much weight or keep it off. But now he has dropped from an all-time high of 470 pounds down to 393.

    He had a couple of recumbents for a short time about ten years ago, but he never could keep his interest in cycling long enough to continue riding them after the first few rides. He ended up selling them.

    Last year he expressed interest in buying a regular bicycle, so we took a drive to REI, where he got a Marin Kentfield hybrid. It's a good solid steel-framed bike that held up fine under his weight and has never given him any problems.



    We did quite a few rides together after he bought that bike. His weight continued to drop and his strength increased enough that he was able to ride some short rolling hills in a nearby town.

    He knew that I record video of all my road and mtb hill climbing rides, so he told me he wanted a good camera for documenting his rides. Once again we ended up at REI, where he bought a GoPro HD Hero2. REI had their anniversary sale going on, so he got the camera and the LCD BacPac for $299, which is the regular price of the camera by itself.

    When he saw how much I enjoyed my Garmin Edge 500, he had to get one too. The total ascent and percent grade readouts are probably his favorite data fields. I spend more time looking at those on my Garmin, that's for sure!

    He already had a Pedco UltraClamp for mounting cameras to various objects, so he bought the GoPro tripod adapter so he could mount the GoPro to his handlebars. We then took a night ride in a nearby town with rolling hills. He was able to climb all the hills without stopping or walking them. Here's video proof. For this ride he used the head mount that came with the GoPro.

    Roseville bike ride 6-6-12 - YouTube


    His enjoyment of cycling increased to the point where he started talking like me. It upsets him if he can't ride for some reason, and he prefers riding over anything he does at the gym he joined last winter.

    After a few of these rides with hills, he said he wanted a faster hybrid, so back to REI we went. This time he bought a Cannondale Quick 4. Even with the low spoke count wheels, this bike is solid as a rock and hasn't given him any trouble so far. It is his primary bike now, and the Marin is a backup bike.



    Last night we took another night ride, but this time the hills were steep enough that he had to walk a couple of them. However, he did make it much further up the first one before he had to walk than he did last year, when he was only able to make it about 100 feet up before dismounting.

    This particular hill is 3/10 mile long. It starts out with grades between 10%-12%, levels off a little, then pitches up again to a max grade of 15% before leveling off to about 8% once more for the remainder of the climb.

    After he walked the rest of that climb and rested for a few minutes, he was able to ride the short 20% section across the street without dismounting, which probably took enough out of him to cause him to have to walk part of the next hill, which was 14%.

    Here's video of that ride.

    Fair Oaks hilly night ride 8-19-12 - YouTube


    He had shown an interest in mountain biking after I told him how much fun I was having with my new 2012 Trek Wahoo 29er hardtail, which I bought in February after not mountain biking for 15 years.

    Today we went to the same LBS where I bought my Wahoo. I have been a customer there since 1987, and they are my favorite shop. They always treat me very well, so I knew my friend wouldn't have any trouble.

    He doesn't have the money for a $2,000 bike or even a $1,000 one right now, so he settled on an entry-level Trek 3500 hardtail 26er.



    This bike should be good enough to get him started on easy trails. If he decides he prefers road cycling, he can either sell the Trek or put slicks on it, lock out the fork, and use it as another backup or guest bike (or I'll buy it! ).

    Since one of my passions is working on bikes, I set up all these bikes for him.

    He does not like standard narrow bicycle seats and says they are very painful, so that's the reason for the beach cruiser seats on all the bikes.

    Hopefully the Trek will see dirt very soon. I need to do some recon rides of easier trails in the area before taking him on a ride. I'm considering Granite Bay, but it's been 20 years since I rode that trail, and I remember a steep climb or two in there somewhere. I'm going to see if I can get up there tomorrow and ride it, with video camera recording as always!

    I think he will love riding on singletrack, so I'm going to find some nice smooth trails to get him started.

  2. #2
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    + rep for helping your buddy get into cycling!

  3. #3
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    Good story, congrats to you and your buddy.

  4. #4
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    i have a very similar story with one of my friends. he has always been pretty heavy, but as a cpa, the past few tax seasons really killed his available time to go to the gym and whatnot, and he gained more weight. so i convinced him to start bike riding with me. he went onto bikes direct and got a bike, and now he's calling me up asking me if i'm gonna go with him to the trails. its pretty cool to see him progress this much in one season. he's lost about 50lbs so far. it's probably one of the best workouts i can name. i'm a smoker so i don't run, plus i get bored. i used to run, but i ended up putting that time towards riding anyways.

  5. #5
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    Congratulations to your friend! Keep riding with him!

  6. #6
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    Epic post as usual. Great story. Hope to hear about some MTBing in the future

  7. #7
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    I hope to take him on his first ride soon. It will have to be on a weekend during the day, unlike our road rides that can be done at night. Due to his weight, his heat tolerance isn't as high as mine, so we'll have to ride on a day when it isn't too hot.

  8. #8
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    He told me tonight via text that he's been in the mood to do a mtb ride, but his work schedule won't allow it until the weekend. We'll probably ride our hybrids on the pavement again tonight.

  9. #9
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    THere's an old thread floating around of folks posting their before pics and after pics of their transformations from cycling.

    I hope your friend keeps up the good work!

  10. #10
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    Good for you for looking out for your friends long term health, and good on him for having the dedication to do something about his weight issue. There's a mtn bike group in SoCal that does a fun weight loss challenge every year that turns out well for everyone involved. Check out this link.


    http://www.socaltrailriders.org/foru...challenge.html

  11. #11
    Clyde on a mission!
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    Kudos to him for actually doing what a lot of people should be doing, getting into biking and changing his physique. And +rep to you for being an awesome friend to him.

    Edit: Dang, I already repped you for your general awesomeness it seems, you'll have to make do with some kind words until I've repped some more people..

  12. #12
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    Yeah I +rep you to , what a great friend. Keep up the good work, I have also lost about 25 pounds in the last six months. So tell your friend to keep his head up , and enjoy the trails.

  13. #13
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    Awesome post. Again, thanks so much for sharing! You Rock!!

  14. #14
    DaFaJa
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    Great story man...I was in the same boat picked up a cheap trek4500 on of CL and dropped a little under 100lbs...and I have to thank my friends for the help..you are a good friend..Helped save his life!
    2012 Trek Superfly 100 Carbon/ xx1 / xo type2
    Tampa FL USA

  15. #15
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    Thanks everyone. I'm hoping to get him out on his new mtb today. Thanks to the Delta breeze, the high temperature is only forecast to be 86, so hopefully he won't have a problem with the heat. I know he won't ride during the day when it's in the 90s and up.

    I'm thinking that when the pounds drop off his heat tolerance will increase.

  16. #16
    DaFaJa
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttrainuphill View Post
    Thanks everyone. I'm hoping to get him out on his new mtb today. Thanks to the Delta breeze, the high temperature is only forecast to be 86, so hopefully he won't have a problem with the heat. I know he won't ride during the day when it's in the 90s and up.

    I'm thinking that when the pounds drop off his heat tolerance will increase.
    yeah it will, I am still new to the trails, but have been riding about 15/20 mikes on Mondays with no prob..there very easy but I enjoy the ride...
    2012 Trek Superfly 100 Carbon/ xx1 / xo type2
    Tampa FL USA

  17. #17
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    If your friend likes to look at his GPS data, tell him to get himself on Strava. It'll be easy for him to see how many miles/hours he's rode a month and see if he's getting quicker on the local loops. Although it doesn't sound like he needs much motivation now, it will probably make him try to go quicker or put more hours in.

    +1 for helping him too.
    - The seasons blow away, but the love is just the same -

  18. #18
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    Congrats to your friend on his accomplishment & kudos to you on helping him. Bicycling and proper nutrition seems to be a darned good way to lose weight and gain cardio fitness. I bike a 30 mile route that is a combination of concrete trails, hilly backstreets, dirt trails and a grassy, steep sledding hill. I hammer the route as quickly as I can and have lost 40 pounds in several months. I mix this up with some shorter rides in the woods to get my technical riding fix. I also stop along the paved trails to do chin ups, push ups, set ups, etc.
    I like to try to stay fit for my job and want to be healthy to enjoy retirement eventually (if it is still financially feasible in the future!). I try to do all my excercising outdoors as late into the year as the weather permits. When the winter weather and snow prohibit bike riding I put the hiking boots and pack on and hit the trails at a fast hiking speed. This is also a good time to practice woodcraft & survival skills such as procurring and treating water, firebuilding, etc. It is soooo much more enjoyable than putting up with all the pretentious muscle heads in the gym facilities. Keep up the good work!

  19. #19
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    We took our first ride this morning. It was some easy singletrack by the river that is not marked "no bikes". I used to ride it all the time 20 years ago.

    Other than some pesky blackberry bushes and two downed trees that I didn't know about ahead of time (oops! ), we didn't have any other problems. He soon got used to the bike and said it was very comfortable.

    A low-hanging branch caught my helmet-mounted ContourHD camera and stopped me in my tracks, which was caught on video by my friend's GoPro. Of course I had to leave that in the video I made of this ride!

    Here's his Garmin data: First mountain bike ride by kevingowen at Garmin Connect - Details

    Here's his video. There is some NSFW language, so be forewarned!

    My first MTB ride - YouTube

  20. #20
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    Good ride! Tell your friend that his actions are motivating me to get out and ride!

  21. #21
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    His enthusiasm is great. With that kind of attitude, the pounds will probably melt away.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttrainuphill View Post
    We took our first ride this morning. It was some easy singletrack by the river that is not marked "no bikes". I used to ride it all the time 20 years ago.

    Other than some pesky blackberry bushes and two downed trees that I didn't know about ahead of time (oops! ), we didn't have any other problems. He soon got used to the bike and said it was very comfortable.

    A low-hanging branch caught my helmet-mounted ContourHD camera and stopped me in my tracks, which was caught on video by my friend's GoPro. Of course I had to leave that in the video I made of this ride!

    Here's his Garmin data: First mountain bike ride by kevingowen at Garmin Connect - Details

    Here's his video. There is some NSFW language, so be forewarned!

    My first MTB ride - YouTube

    Aloha Freight, great post. So much fun watching him experience the trails. You are an inspiration. Thanks again.

  23. #23
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    He told me that he wants to ride that trail to the end next time. It picks up again after the pavement, but it is almost as wide as a fire road for a while before narrowing back down to singletrack.

    I'm glad he enjoyed that ride. I figured he would.

  24. #24
    Clyde on a mission!
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    Quote Originally Posted by freighttrainuphill View Post
    He told me that he wants to ride that trail to the end next time. It picks up again after the pavement, but it is almost as wide as a fire road for a while before narrowing back down to singletrack.
    Great to see him enjoy riding.

    Be careful and don't let him push too hard too soon. I've recently started bringing my nephew on a few rides. We ride in an area with a lot of hills, but also with the option to go up a hill and down the other side or to choose the pretty flat detour around the bottom of the hill instead. I'm slowly swapping some of the smaller hills for slightly bigger ones, making it slightly harder while keeping the distance around those 6-7 miles he seems comfortable with at the moment.

    Try doing the same with your friend. In the video I saw some detours along the route. Try repeating the same route, but alter it slightly to include an extra climb or two or add a short loop to give a little bit of extra distance. By repeating the route, you friend knows what to expect and know he's able to make it to the end, allowing him to "ration" the energy spent. By adding just a tiny bit extra, picking a slightly tougher route over one hill while keeping the rest the same, adding a loop around a small lake or whatever is convenient, you push him a little bit extra but not a lot, so both you and he knows he'll be able to manage it.

    If you let him push too hard, adding too much distance too soon, he risks bonking out, becoming so sore that he won't ride again for a while. It's much better to stick with a distance he's comfortable with for now and just add a bit of spice to the route before adding extra distance.

  25. #25
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    Thanks for the tips, Sandrenseren When I planned this ride I wanted to make sure he didn't overdo it, especially since we would be riding during the day when it is warmer (we usually ride at night). When he told me that he wanted to take the singletrack to the end next time, I know I did all right by picking this route. The singletrack he is talking about doesn't go on for much longer anyway, so I will grant him his wish on the next ride.

    On future rides, I will do what you suggested and alter the route slightly.

    Any time we ride, I let him pick the distance. He seems to be pretty good at judging how far he can ride. The one ride we did where he had a hard time was one picked by another friend of his. It was hot out, and the route ended up having a bunch of unexpected rolling hills that my friend was not ready for.

    When I made this video for him, he told me to give it the "sufferfest" title because that's what it felt like to him.

    Now for the self-appointed, low rep power "forum police" who seem to like to try to tell other people that certain posts and threads "don't belong in the Passion forum", this thread does belong here. Why? Because my friend loves riding his bike. He is loving it more and more every time he rides, and he has told me that he would rather ride than go to the gym.

    Last time I checked, when you love cycling, you have "passion".

    Roseville sufferfest 6-30-12 - YouTube

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