Editor’s note: This post was written by Colby Henley one of Tucson Velo’s newest contributors. Henley is a daily bicycle commuter and advocate.

I want to introduce you to my brother, Wade. He just bought a bike with the hope of pedaling away some pounds and building up his fitness and stamina. I talked with him about how he got to this point and where he hopes to go.

Wade says he’s been somewhat overweight for most of his adult life, but he really started gaining several years ago. On his latest doctor visit he weighed nearly 330 pounds.

“It really got bad when I took a job as a long-haul truck driver,” Wade says. “I would drive up to 10 hours a day, without a day off for up to three weeks straight.”

He says that while he tried to eat lots of fruit, much of his diet consisted of pre-packaged meals or fast food. And exercise was out of the question.

After four years, Wade left the trucking business. In a tough job market, but armed with a commercial license, Wade got a job in Tucson doing non-medical transport, mostly for foster kids.

“I really like interacting with people and this job lets me do that.” he says. “But I’m still facing a job where I’m driving around all day with little time for healthy meals or exercise.”

I asked Wade why he chose a bicycle as way to exercise and he says, “I know myself and I’m not the kind of guy who will go to a gym, so I need something that I can do on my own.”

Wade also says that many other forms of exercise, even walking, hurt his feet and knees.

Wade, who hasn’t ridden a bicycle in over 20 years, took his first test rides up and down the block last weekend while I helped him adjust his saddle height and angle.

“I was nervous at first, but then kind of surprised at how quickly it came back. Still, I’m not comfortable enough to ride on main thoroughfares with heavy traffic.”

He doesn’t have a set regimen but hopes to take some regular spins through the University of Arizona campus and slowly work up to longer rides.

Wade says he doesn’t have a set weight loss goal, but is mainly looking to lose so that he can be more comfortable and in better health.

Feel free to share any words of advice or encouragement for Wade.

By Colby Henley

Colby is a bike commuter, a volunteer with the Bicycle Advisory Committee Downtown/UA subcommittee, and member of Living Streets Alliance. He can't wait to take his new granddaughter on her first bike ride.

12 thoughts on “Rider of the Week: Beginning bicyclist”
  1. Way to go Wade! I’d love to sit down with you and chat if you ever have questions. 

    A bike changed my life and I’m sure it can help change yours. 

    When I started riding I was 300 pounds and lost 135 of them because of bikes and a better diet. 

    Here’s my story: http://tucsonvelo.com/blog/my-story-from-300-pounds-to-el-tour-finisher/4565

    Please feel free to contact me for anything. 

  2. Wade, here’s wishing you many joyful rides.  Although I did not share the weight issue, in many positive ways cycling changed my life.  The bike paths along the Rillito and Santa Cruz await you … level, smooth and traffic free.  Please keep us posted on your experiences and joys (not just the pounds).

  3. Good on ya Wade!

    I changed my diet and went back to riding to work every day and have dropped nearly 70 lbs so far…

    #1 tip: baby steps.

    Your idea of starting with laps on campus then working up to longer rides around town is right on the mark, once you get past the starting part, you’ll be off and rolling!


  4. Nice post, you’re an inspiration Wade. Like Jesse says “baby steps” and like RandyG points out, the multi-use paths are enjoyable places to ride, get a workout and not worry about traffic. Summer heat will be your biggest challenge to motivation; get head and tail lights and get out in the early morning before the sun gets too hot.

    Also, as you get into this and if you find that butt and hand pain get in the way of enjoyment, you may want to try out recumbent bikes or trikes. They are a bit pricier than standard bikes but you can find some good used ones. You’ll still get a great workout, sans pain. I’d be happy to share my knowledge on this.

  5.  … or biking gloves and biking shorts (you can always wear regular shorts over the biking shorts).   Scott is correct, comfort is paramount to enjoying the rest of the biking experience.

  6. Wade, my husband was in the same boat and has lost over 60 pounds in about 1.5 years! He rode in the Tour de Tucson last year. I ride infrequently (less flexible work schedule) but rid on weekends. We just rode in the Tour de Cure and I find that riding for a cause is a great incentive to ride more.
    To paraphrase Dorey from Nemo “Just keep riding, riding. riding. Just keep riding, riding, riding.” 

  7. Reading books they like (*not* 24/7, caveat) seems to help humans escape, relax, and come back to focus.

  8. Go Wade!  Keep up with it, a little at a time – you’ll be amazed at how much weight you can drop while having fun!

  9. Wade, 
    Seven years ago I weighed in at 567 pounds and almost gave up.  Over those years I’ve been riding my bike and battling to lose the weight, now I’m down in the high 300’s and continue to drop.  Keep it up!  It’s a battle, and it will require you to live through a lot of pain, suffering, and completely change your lifestyle.  I’ve learned the (very) hard way that once the weight is off it doesn’t necessarily mean it stays off – it really wants to always come back.  So that’s where the life change comes in. 

    The good news?  I feel better even on a horrible day than I did in my best day while almost dying of obesity.  It’s always a struggle, but the reward is worth it in every facet of my life.  I have much more confidence, my mind is clear, and best of all – I just feel like a new person.  

    Feel free to visit my blog and read my stories of triumph, failure, and more triumph at http://www.chubbysuperbiker.com.

    You can do it!!

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