Must Lose 100 lbs and Get Faster!

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Aug 29, 2016

Dear Uncle Dave, 

I need some help getting up to speed – literally. I’m 42 and I’ve been riding the Shore on and off since I was 18. I rode Seventh Heaven when it was the only trail on Grouse, I mean Fromme (Ed note: methinks you mean 7th Secret, amigo – Seventh Heaven is the alpine ski area on Blackcomb). When I was 20, I built a trail on Cypress that is still ridden today. I used to be able to wake up at negative 4 o’clock in the morning, ride up one of the North Shore mountains, down a trail, go work in a bike shop all day, ride home, drink beer and do it all again the next day. But I didn’t ride at all for about 17 years. Life kind of got in the way: I lived overseas and made a couple of career changes. I’m 5’11” – I woke up on January 1st of this year and weighed 285 pounds and my heart rate was 158 over 101 (blood pressure? SORRY! pedantic editor is pedantic). I had to do something. So I fixed up my 42 pound “Freeride” bike and started riding every Sunday morning.

Then I got a better, lighter, newer bike and added Tuesday night rides with my local bike shop crew. My rides tend to be 3-4 hours long, I ride anything and everything on the Shore that doesn’t involve big air and too many skinnies or rock faces the size of two-storey houses.

I’ve lost 20 pounds and my heart rate is down 20 points. I love being back on the bike, but my problem is that I’m not losing a great deal of weight and I still can’t keep up with people on climbs. Old guys with grey beards pass me and say, “Gee, I never pass people”. Should I start commuting by bike every day? Join a spin club (Yikes)? Go on a gluten-free diet? I’m not looking to race, but I need more…oomph. Help me, Uncle Dave, you’re my only hope.

Locked in the Trunk of an Office Job Downtown

Dear Lintkey:

I went for a ride today. I think it was the worst ride that I’ve had all year. I climbed up the Old Buck and I felt like shit. I lapped a trail that normally feels pretty good and I seemed like I was just avoiding death the whole way down. The worst part though, was that the mountain was full of old men, running all over the place, kilometers away from anywhere they could have parked a vehicle. Dozens, and dozens of gray haired men running the shit out of Mt. Seymour. My riding skills were making me sad. Watching these old guys fitness the hell out of me turned me downright sorrowful. Thank goodness I don’t have to ride my bike again for a few weeks. I’m sure it will be much easier after a few weeks of eating lots of food and not exercising.

I think there is a point here, somewhere. It’s never too late to get in shape? There’s always an old guy along the way that will make you feel pathetic? This shit’s too hard so why bother?

So. Good for you for getting back into it. Twenty pounds of weight is a pretty big deal. You should feel really happy about that. And I have two pieces of advice for you.

1 – Buy a new bike. I know. Mountain bike websites are nothing but a conspiracy to peddle Boost equipped plus bikes to the masses, but if I ever met a dude that needed a Boost equipped plus bike, it’s you. Or just buy any bike that pedals and descends well. You can probably get away with a bit less travel than you think you need. I think you could take it in one of two directions:

A – You’re interested in getting in shape, so buy a nice, pedally 29er with 120-130mm of travel that will be a pleasure to put miles on, while still providing a lot of fun on the way down.

B – You want to keep your motivation up, so buy a nice, somewhat less pedally 150mm travel bike that will go up the hills okay, but keep you coming back with a tonne of fun on the descents.

Man. That’s some late 90’s catalogue copy, right there. Anyhow, you’ll probably get in better shape pedalling that 42 pound bike up to the top, but even just hearing about it makes me want to ride my bike less. I can’t imagine the impact of actually having to go through with it. If anybody gives you any kind of shit about spending this money, just pat your belly and tell them that your friend thanks them for their selfishness.

The second suggestion is that mountain biking is pretty good exercise, but it’s probably not the ultimate tool for dropping pounds. Maybe consider adding something else to your repertoire? While you have your credit card out, maybe drop a couple of hundred bucks on a commuter? You’ll probably end up losing even more weight and in you’ll probably find relatively quickly that the grey beards aren’t passing you any longer. And hopefully, our prize givers can sort you out with a nice something that helps you on your quest.

Uncle Dave

Still with the dogs, still with the Instagram. @davetolnai if you will. Don’t encourage him, though. Is Twitter bankrupt yet? @ReallyUncleDave for the latest on that front.

Hey Lintkey, Uncle Dave wants you to have something that helps you on your quest to slim down and get faster. So we’re going to hook you up with a couple of pairs of our new Merino Wool socks. They’ll see you through long rides and short ones, and even when the weather sucks, they’ll keep your feet warm. Not dry – hell, they’re just socks – but warm. Send Dave a note with your coordinates and we’ll get you taken care of pronto.

NSMB Socks - Darkside

NSMB Socks – Darkside

For all of you that aren’t named Lintkey, but like the look of these socks, they’re now available for order in our store. In two colours. Just in time for Fall (let’s hope Fall is still a month away).

Trending on NSMB


Marty Zaleski  - Sept. 2, 2016, 9:36 a.m.

Lintkey: Just do shit that makes you stoked, don't mind what doesn't matter, and the rest will catch up. Riding make you stoked? Do that. Don't mind the graybeards. Some day, probably by accident, you'll notice things are better. Already happened once when you noticed you lost 20 pounds. The other stuff folks here are suggesting - diet, resistance training, gear - sure, that matters. Try all that. Decide whether you like it. That's the most important thing. If you can convince yourself that you like all that stuff, and how cheating old age and staying physically capable makes you feel, then you'll keep it up.


Bob Bobbs  - Aug. 30, 2016, 3:05 p.m.

Thank you all for your advice. You've been very helpful.


Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 30, 2016, 11:39 a.m.

Ken! I'll ride bikes with you any day, buddy!

Or… I will when I'm healed.


Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 30, 2016, 12:46 p.m.

Further to that…. [one sec, lemme grab my soapbox]

Sometimes life gets in the way, and biking falls to the wayside. For about 5 or 6 years I somehow forgot that bicycling is awesome. I know this is unimaginable to some, but it happens. Lets not dwell on how or why. I also got rounder.

I too pulled out a 42lb (ok, 42.5lb) Kona out of the closet, blew some dust off, and started remembering the joy that bicycles can bring, but even Old Buck was a long, sweaty affair that required many stops, much huffing and puffing. Now, well, suffice it to say its less of an issue (for reference: ).

You know what got me there?
Friends. (Specifically, brand new friends. Big ups to Taylor, Dune, and Colin, for reasons you'll see shortly).
Friends who were willing to wait for me on every single ride, on the climbs, on the traverses, and the descents.
Friends who lack the 'holier than thou' elitist attitude so prevalent on our beloved Shore, within mountain biking, and the action sports world as a whole. Not friends who treat every ride as a race. Not every ride needs KOM's.

Find people who just want to go ride their bikes (and lets be honest, this part isn't to you, Lintkey. YOU already have these friends). Find friends with a general stoke for riding, not friends who are dropping in to Seventh Heaven the second they catch sight of you coming up the road. It'll make you more stoked to ride.
And you'll ride more.
And then suddenly you'll realize you're not dying trying to keep up with your friends.
And you'll have more gas for the descents.
And…. none of your pants fit anymore? What?

As far as the Latest and Greatest Bicycle goes, as long as you've got something you're stoked to ride, f*ck it. You can lose 5lbs off your bicycle by spending a bunch of money, or you can go ride your bicycle and lose 5 lbs. (Although, Lintkey, YOU need a bicycle that fits you). When you've got the cash, motivation, and are riding enough to justify upgrading, go for it. You really don't need to waste your time figuring out what is cool enough to ride with the #superfastcoolguys; that's just time better spent riding.

This also applies to you, Novice Mountain Biker. Find people to ride with who are A) Faster than you and B) don't give a sh*t. You'll be a better rider having more fun with less pressure in no time.

And ya know. Portion control, less beer, whatever. Calories in, calories out and all that. But mostly just go ride your damn bike.


Deniz Merdano  - Aug. 30, 2016, 2:55 p.m.

Such love!! couldn't agree more.
I will also add that commuting to work on the bike helped me regulate my breathing and heart rate. It is not a long ride 10km and can be done in 22 minutes on my 40lbs touring bike. And let me tell you I can see a performance drop after my 2 days off. I have fast metabolism so I don't gain weight but I do feel the effects of junky, fatty food immediately.
Eat as much as you'd like, as long as its healthy is what I came to realize…
See you tonight..


Geof Harries  - Aug. 31, 2016, 11:10 a.m.

Regular commuting is gold for losing weight and staying healthy. You can't always get out for long mountain bike rides (at least I can't) but I certainly have to get to my workplace everyday!


tw  - Aug. 30, 2016, 11:19 a.m.

Here are some resources you might find useful:

Check out his article on MAF (Maximum aerobic function) and his "two week test" for nutrition.

Book: Primal Endurance by Sisson and Kearns. The most up to date guide on endurance training ect including nutritional options, weights etc.

Don't be put off by the title of this next one. I think it is one of the finest books written recently on insulin, diabetes and fasting. Written by a nephrologist from Toronto. I'm not overweight or diabetic but found it hugely insightful and I recommend it to anyone.

The Obesity Code: Jason Fung .

In General: don't count calories. Eliminate grain and sugar, cereal, rice, potatoes (if not cooked and cooled), pop and sports drinks. Get more fat adapted (MAF method and two week test) Use periodic fasting (see Fungs book).

Hope this is helpful.


Geof Harries  - Aug. 30, 2016, 11:54 a.m.

I heard about the primal endurance stuff earlier this year (April?) and tried it this summer. Took a while to adjust but now I notice a major difference in my riding and in my diet, including those blasted cravings (and cranky mornings) going away. It really works. I only wished I'd started eating and training this way a decade ago when I was still racing competitively. Oh well.


Gogh Banana  - Aug. 30, 2016, 12:44 p.m.

I second @tw.

It is important to understand that diet will impact 80%+ of your body composition, not exercise, not calories in/calories out.

Running a calorie deficit and overexercising as @disqus_g2KMtHTS0V:disqus mentioned is also likely to cause chronic stress and inflammation. If your body thinks you are starving and under constant attack it will hold on to extra calories (read: body fat) for dear life. This makes sense from a survival perspective. It is also not fun to be hungry all the time.

As @tw mentioned you should focus on a nutrient dense diet. I highly recommend taking a look at as an introduction.


jaydubmah  - Aug. 30, 2016, 1:01 p.m.

I also throw in support for @tw and the Maffetone method. The other thing (and I know it's not easy) is to cut down on the booze.

When I think of friends who have totally lost their fitness, one of the biggest culprits was pounding da beers with the boys. Go hard liquor if need be instead.


ZigaK  - Sept. 1, 2016, 9:24 p.m.

Don't go hard liquor way, it may have less calories, but it has so many other disadvantages. If anything, go with vine. It has so many antioxidants and sh*t. One glass a day.


Nat Brown  - Aug. 30, 2016, 10:13 a.m.

Fundamentally, body mass is a consequence of both how much you eat + drink, and how much energy you use through regular life + exercise. It is a simple balance - conservation of energy. People have their opinions on this, where one is more important than the other but I think that's generally a reflection of their own lifestyles and what side of the equation they have more room to improve. I'm guessing if you really ride 6-8 h per week, and did almost nothing close to that intensity of exercise for two decades, that while you've lost a bunch of body fat, your weight hasn't dropped as much as you'd like because you've gained some muscle mass in parallel. Certainly going from nothing to 6-8 h of moderate to high intensity exercise is a huge difference in your energy expenditure. Don't lose the faith, stick with it while increasing your outputs as your fitness improves and you'll just need to remain patient to keep losing the weight. Obviously using more energy by commuting on a bike, will help more, as will cutting down on the intake of energy through food and drink.

Good that your blood pressure is coming down. I have familial high blood pressure that needs medication, and it's all fine, I don't feel bad from it. However, there are consequences. I have some changes to my ticker that render it somewhat less efficient as a result of me going 20+ years with untreated very high blood pressure. There's no going back on that, but I don't let that bother me either.

Oh, and props for the Star Wars reference.


Morgan Taylor  - Aug. 30, 2016, 7:09 a.m.

It's all about food intake, less so about exercise. You need to run a mild calorie deficit and make sure you move every day, even if it's just a walk (uphill for 15 minutes and back is pretty easy).

I used My Fitness Pal earlier this year to track what I was eating. It allowed me to see where I was blowing my calorie budget. No surprise, if you drink a lot of beer and wine, free-pour salad dressing, and have seconds on almost every meal - you'll never get ahead.

When you do a big ride you can eat more than usual! But if you eat about what you usually eat anyway, you continue that deficit.

I only had to use the app (and the desktop version as well) for about 6 weeks to get on track with portions, and continued to lose weight since I was aware of what a good portion looked like and where I was eating/snacking too much of particular things.


rvoi  - Aug. 30, 2016, 10:17 a.m.

"Don't eat anything after 7:00 pm." That is one simple rule that helps me lose the extra fat when needed. I tend to gravitate to the least healthy foods and beverages later in the day so this keeps that in check.


Robbie Jackson  - Aug. 30, 2016, 6:26 a.m.

I'm in the same boat as you with 100 pounds or so to lose. And as you, i've lost my first 20. I am riding as much as I can. Some days are great and the stoke level is high. Other days are grueling and embarrassing. I consider those rides paying my dues for years of sitting in front of a computer neglecting my body. And think of the money a new bike costs as future medical bills you won't have to pay due to heart disease. Because that's what it is. I'd rather have a new bike.


Cooper Quinn  - Aug. 30, 2016, 12:41 p.m.

Keep riding bikes!


uncle duke  - Aug. 30, 2016, 5:53 a.m.

haha we all called it seventh heaven back in the grouse riding days…..


Troy  - Aug. 30, 2016, 1:17 a.m.

“Don’t buy upgrades, ride upgrades” – Eddy Merckx
It starts with food. Cut out sugar and keep riding and I bet you lose 20lbs in a couple of months. Until I changed what I ate I didn't lose weight no matter how much I rode.


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