Tips To Lose Weight Biking

Long Miles in the Saddle Helped Him Shed 200 Pounds

How do you begin the impossibly long journey of shedding 200-plus pounds? For Kent State student Luke Metcalf, the answer was by riding one mile.

Cycling and bike riding for weight loss
After  |  Before
Image: Billy Delfs

Luke Metcalf
Age 26
Hometown Warren, Ohio
Pounds lost riding 230

Metcalf had always been a big kid, but it hit him flush in 2010 that weighing 435 pounds could be a roadblock to getting married, starting a family, having a successful career. "I even failed a class freshman year because I didn't have the stamina to walk 30 minutes across campus," he says. After taking time off from school, he made a New Year's resolution to change his life. He went to a gym for the first time in January 2011.  (Jumpstart your new year with the Best Gym Workout, Ever.)

Metcalf was overwhelmed at first, until he found a recumbent bike. "I said to myself, 'Hey, I used to go on bike rides when I was a kid,'" he recalls. His goal was simply to ride a mile, and he felt he'd achieved something meaningful when he made it. Metcalf tried other machines, but only the bike excited him.

Turn your bike into a powerful weight loss tool and Ride Your Way Lean!

He kept going to the gym until he'd dropped 90 pounds in six months. In March 2012, his friends prodded him to buy a bike. On a new Diamondback Insight 1 hybrid, he was blown away on his 18-mile maiden voyage. "It was more comfortable and natural and the ride went by so fast because there was such great scenery," he says. "I never enjoyed nature [before], because of my size. I learned what I'd missed out on."

He struggled with typical beginner challenges, like sitting on the narrower saddle-an issue he resolved with Cannondale bib shorts. "The most difficult thing was stopping and putting my foot down," he says. "Sounds silly, but I'd forget and almost fall over." But Metcalf's progress was meteoric. His most challenging and longest ride was also his best: Ohio's Bike MS Pedal to the Point last August. As he reached the last hill on the 164-mile, two-day journey, he thought there was no way he could make it. But he saw a man in a wheelchair holding a sign: "Thank you for riding." Metcalf powered up the final ascent. (Need some motivation? Check out our Tips to Help Keep You on Your Bike.)

Now at 205, having shed more than half his weight, he is lighter in more ways than one. He's on his way to a business degree, can ride roller coasters, and has the confidence to bring a date to a movie. "Riding takes me back to a place in childhood," he says, "when I didn't have the worries I have now."

What he's Learned

"You won't change unless you decide to make your health your top priority."

"To learn about nutrition and to control comfort eating, I saw a dietitian and a psychologist. Learning is key."

Think big picture. "This isn't a diet-it's a _lifestyle."

Once he altered his diet, he realized he no longer wanted the "junk" he'd been eating before.   (You don't have to give up your favorites! See how Chocolate Can Keep You Fit)

Adopt a "better than zero" mindset. Say you set out for 20 miles. "If you get tired after 15, you can stop-but 15 is still better than zero."