Weekly Update: Too Much About Bikes?

I recorded a video yesterday with my update information, but it ended up being about 40 minutes long. For the sake of posterity and full-disclosure (even though the video makes me cringe) I’ll post it anyways but figured I’d try to pare down the chat with a more succinctly-written (added later: ha ha, yeah right) post.

Tuesday was my weigh-in, and while Monday I posted about my victimization from the scale I got lucky and recorded a 1.2 lbs loss. Sweet, sweet luck! My mood had been soured on Monday, and could have very-well lasted longer into the week, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t buoyed by that weigh-in. It’s ridiculous, but it’s the truth. The only fact I can draw from this is that WHAT I AM DOING IS WORKING and I need to not sweat the little bumps here and there. And try to not get on the scale at home.

As a probable method of self-soothing, Monday evening – while I was still a sour-puss from the scale – I started giving some more thought to buying a bicycle. I’ve been contemplating a bike purchase since before I started on 20/20 (in the video I figure out the exact moment the idea seeds itself), so it wasn’t a random thought or anything. I’ve had my eye on a certain bike for a little while now, but apart from having  conversation with a guy at a bike shop back in October and hours and hours (and HOURS) of researching all aspects of overweight cycling, I hadn’t taken the steps of actually getting on any bikes. So I decided that I’d take a few hours between appointments on Tuesday to drop into a LBS (local bike shop) to have a look-see.

The shop unfortunately didn’t have any new models in my size to try. More than a bit of a bummer, but I did get a chance to ride around on a 3-year-old hybrid that they kept in their rental fleet. A little note about bikes: there are many types of cycles out there: from leisure-type cruisers, to rugged mountain bikes, to ultra-lightweight racing bikes. For me, the two types I’d been looking at were classic road bikes (with dropbar handles), and hybrids (sporty cycles that typically have flatbar handles). In my mind, I favored the hybrid model as the flatbar handles seemed like they would be easier to command and more comfortable. More on that to come.

One word really sums up that first ride experience: OUCH! Sure, it was great feeling the wind on my face and getting up a speed greater than I can move on my own two feet. It was wonderful. Glorious, even! But I had a literal pain in my ass that was more than I could bear. My sit-bones (ischial tuberosity, if you wanna get all medical-jargonney) just could not handle the pressure.

I thanked the bike shop guy for all his help and drove back to the gym for my final support group meeting and vowed to give another LBS a shot on Wednesday, after my racquetball session. Let’s switch to that for a bit. Racquetball! So much fun. It really doesn’t seem like a workout when you’re running around after a little ball for an hour and laughing from the inevitable comically-missed swings. But I really worked up a sweat, and I’m pretty sure my heart rate got up to the anaerobic levels throughout, even though my monitor was being a little b*tch and not working half the time.

Back to bike-shopping! After my workout session I couldn’t WAIT to get onto the task at hand so I toweled off, figured lunch could wait (as breakfast was ingested immediately before my workout – THANKS SNOOZE BUTTON!), and drove up to Woodinville Bicycle to look at their arsenal of bikes. They happen to carry the brand of bike I had been looking at (that fancy Specialized hybrid I link to above), and in fact had the exact model I wanted on the floor! But after lengthy conversation and all the research, and ultimately, a mind-opening test ride, I decided that a road bike might not be a closed-off option as I had previously suspected.

We had gone out and tested three bikes: a more entry-level hybrid, a mid-level aluminum road bike with the same frame geometry as the fancy-schmancy hybrid I had eyed, and a carbon version of the same road bike. First, the hybrid: ouch. Again! My sits were still sore from the previous day, but this more upright ride didn’t do my backside any favors. A few laps and I was ready to try anything else, even if it was a scary road bike! I’ve ridden dropbars before – back when I was in junior high! I didn’t think positioning like that would be at all good for my iffy lower back. But lo and behold, after nervously getting on the bike and starting to ride, the one overwhelming sense I had was: OMG MY BUTT DOESN’T HURT AS MUCH! I instantly felt better about riding and could focus, instead of on my ass, on more important things, like steering, and braking.

We then switched from the aluminum road bike (the Specialized Dolce Elite Compact) to the carbon Specialized Ruby, and I didn’t feel as much as a difference as I thought I would. The difference in weight is about a pound or two, according to the shop guy, but I couldn’t feel it. And the price difference was something on the order of $700. And the Dolce *was* in my favorite color. Hello! I’m lame like that – I ain’t to proud to admit that aesthetics have a lot to do with how much I like a bike. So I bit the bullet and walked out the door with a brand new road bicycle. I henceforth shall call her Gertie:

My bike!

Isn’t she pretty? I think so! To get her home we had to take off the quick release wheels to fit into the back of my MINI, and the shop guy gave me a rushed demo on removal and replacement. Though he didn’t demonstrate putting the rear wheel back on, which turns out is the most complicated part. So I spent roughly an hour at home trying to figure out how to get it back on the bike. I still don’t know how I managed to get it back on, but when I go back to have my rack fitted, I’ll make sure he runs me through the process until I’m 100%.

I’ve managed a couple rides at home so far, and while there was an initial comparative sense of comfort on the bike seat, I’ve since discovered that riding is still no walk in the park on my behind. My sit bones still aren’t happy and I’m finding I can’t get very far without feeling some real pain. I have to get that figured out, as while I feel like I have the strength to go additional miles, my derriere just can’t tolerate it. I’ve read that gets better with time and mileage, and the salesman told me to give it a little while to see if I get used to it, but so far it’s rather unpleasant. I still need to get the full-on customized bike fit the shop offers, and I’m making notes about what is and isn’t comfy on the bike, so perhaps that will help. Another help will be buying some padded cycling shorts. Not sure how much they’ll help, but I’ll take every little assistance I can get. Though I’ll likely be wearing them under my pants. You won’t see me sporting them by themselves any time soon, for the love of humanity!

As a final aside, the bike shop was a little understaffed on Wednesday, and during one of my wait breaks I perused the latest issue of Bicycling Magazine which was on display. The cover story just so happened to be about riding for weight loss, which I found to be very timely and inspiring. The mag offers many articles online about cycling-related nutrition and weight loss, with some great success stories. So serendipitous!

In a future post, I’ll talk more about my thoughts on bike riding for fitness, and my related goals. But I’m thrilled to have finally taken the step to buy a bike and hope to make a go of it! For the masochists out there, I’ve embedded the full-length video below.