After I lost 110 lbs and got back into fitness, the first thing I did was push-ups and walking. Eventually, that walking turned into jogging which turned into running, but I never really had fun with it. I wanted to do something physical that was both good for my health and fun. That’s when I remembered I had a mountain bike in the garage.
I used to love riding bicycles as a kid, and something I tried (unsuccessfully) in the past to lose weight and get fit was to ride a bike. At my heaviest (328 lbs), I would get on the bike and ride around the neighborhood. With my poor health and lack of fitness, I was only able to ride for 10-15 minutes at a time each day, but I tried. I worked hard and got my stamina up to about 20 minutes, but after each ride, I felt wiped out. Eventually, I quit riding because I never saw any weight loss and had nothing but soreness and defeat to show for it.
After I lost 150 lbs, I began thinking about mountain biking again. I used to love it so much as a kid that I figured I’d enjoy it again. I was right; I loved it! Also, my experience at 175 lbs was MUCH different than at 328 lbs. I was able to pedal with ease, I could make tight turns and slow ascents with ease, and since I was already running, my legs were in better shape and I had the stamina to go for an hour or longer.
I had used the same old Raleigh mountain bike for over a decade, and the old bike has served me well, but the deraileurs were showing their age and often jamming. The chain was getting close to needing a replacement, and I had lost a cover from my forks which allowed contaminants to enter the chamber. While it’s technically ridable, it’s a failure waiting to happen on a trail. So, I decided to get a new bike.
Right now, due to COVID-19, there are few bikes to be found in bike stores. I had initially wanted to get a TREK bicycle, but I couldn’t find any with a medium frame anywhere local. Heck, I couldn’t find the one I wanted anywhere online, either. So, I went to a local bike shop (where we bought the last 7 bikes we’ve owned from) and while they didn’t have the bike I was looking for, they did have one that would fit the bill. It was a little beyond what I wanted to spend on a bike, but in the end, I decided that since I tend to keep them for a long time, I would splurge.
I ended up getting the 2021 Scott Scale 940. It’s a carbon framed bike with lots of nice features, and I really like how it rides. There are two things I am going to change on it; I will be changing out the pedals later today (I dislike the metal pedals the shop put on them for free) and I will get a retractable seat post so I can lower the seat when doing aggressive biking and then release it back to the “Up” position for seated biking.
What I’m really planning to do with the new bike is to go out on my non-running days to build up more cardio and for a more relaxed leg workout between my standard StrongLifts/running days that has less impact on my joints. I need to build my stamina up for my two-week training coming up in April for Warrant Officer Candidate School where we will exercise every day.
I’m fortunate that Sherry is being a good sport and rolling along with me. She’s not been a huge fan of riding bikes, but as she learns more, she tells me that it’s getting more comfortable for her. I hope she can learn to enjoy it like I do some day. I really enjoy taking our bikes with us on our Overlanding trips and having another activity available to us that not only gets us some exercise, but allows us to get out and about without having to pack up the entire vehicle.
Now that I’m fit, I enjoy breaking up my runs and weightlifting with bike riding. I love kayaking, but that’s harder to do easily from home, so bike riding it is. Try to find something you enjoy that is physical to help you get and stay fit. Losing weight starts in the kitchen, but keeping fit happens in the gym and on the road. Whether it’s bike riding, kayaking, hiking, rollerblading, or rucking, find something you can enjoy to keep you active and it won’t feel like exercise. You’ll just be having fun with benefits.